Romantic Times: Part Two

By: PattyMay 20, 2015

So I wandered around the RT hotel feeling slightly befuddled, wondering what was wrong with me (other than lack of sleep—see Mike's post about our first hotel).

My life is as simple as I can make it. The horse farm, my family, my old friends and my neighbors. When I go to book signings, I have long ago resigned myself that meeting people for three minutes while I sign books, while delightful, will not usually allow me to recognize them again. I do remember what we talked about, and if prodded, will eventually, after three or four signings, recognize them by their stories.

It's been a while since I went to convention where I knew virtually no one (okay, RT was better than that—Diana Pharoah Francis is a good friend, and Richelle Meade and I have enjoyed a few post-signing feedings in Seattle). At conventions, I really meet people and talk to them for longer than three minutes. But something was off, and I couldn't figure out what it was—though whatever it was it succeeded in bringing out that stomach-churning shyness/anxiety that I haven't felt since I was in my twenties (a very long time ago). There were people I have met a time or two who had to talk to me for a few minutes before I recognized them.

For the first day of the convention, I thought maybe I was really going deaf. It took me a few minutes to process what people were saying, and several times I misunderstood entirely. Saturday afternoon, just before we left to catch our plane, I mistook Dear Jane (with whom Mike and I spent a lovely day wandering Des Moines, a truly lovely, and under-appreciated city) for Lucy Liu (whom I have met briefly just once at Comic Con). As soon as Jane (not her real name!) said something —I knew I'd screwed up. She was gracious, but I felt horrible and stupid. How could I have done something so idiotic? Both ladies are lovely and brilliant, but they do not resemble each other in the slightest.

[Comment by Mike: Actually, I recognized Jane, but couldn't remember her actual name. And, personally, I've always thought she looked a bit like Lucy Liu (they're both stunningly beautiful).]

That's when I (using my highly developed powers of observation) finally figured out that my eyesight, which has been horrible since I was ten, but a stable horrible for the past decade, had deteriorated a lot since I'd gotten my last set of glasses a few years ago. As long as I can read, I guess I don't really pay attention. I know what my husband and trusty assistant look like. I don't have to see very well to tell the difference between the chestnut filly and the bay filly. So while Mike and I waited to get on the plane, I compared eyesight with him. I couldn't even read the great big signs hanging from the ceiling. Ugh.

It was concentrating on what I was seeing (or rather not seeing) that made it hard to hear people at the convention. I know, I know, when one sense goes, all the others are supposed to get stronger. But if I ever go blind, I'm going to go deaf, too. When I answer the phone without putting on my glasses, I cannot hear. Weird, right? But, as my husband pointed out to me shortly after Iron Kissed hit #1 on the NYTimes, I am no longer just weird. Once I could tack the #1 NYTimes on my forehead—I'm elevated to eccentric. I'll remember now, if I suddenly go deaf, probably I need better glasses.

Lasek surgery is starting to look better and better. . .

Adventures are Everywhere

By: Mike May 20, 2015

As most of you know, Patty and I went to Texas for the Romantic Times convention. We had a small adventure I thought I'd share here. The convention was at the Hyatt Regency hotel, but by the time Patty tried to book our rooms, it was already full (which says something, because it's HUGE!).

Employing a bit of white-belt Google-Fu she found another hotel within easy walking distance and booked a room for a couple of nights. Easy as pie, and we're all set for the convention.

At the airport we caught a cab, and gave him the address of the hotel. The cabbie looked us up and down, then shrugged, dropped the flag, and started driving. About $60 later, he stopped on an unkempt side street with a bumper-crop of broken concrete and litter, in front of an older building bearing the insignia of our chosen hotel. We were in a very upscale part of town, and modern steel-and-glass hotels in neighboring blocks filled the skyline with gleaming surfaces and intricate lighting displays. Our hotel was a squat brick affair with only a few token decorative elements on the upper cornices. It wrapped itself in a coat of peeling paint, and hunkered on it's dirty street.

The main entrance was blocked by construction debris, and looked to have been unused for quite some time, but the side entrance was open. The lobby matched the exterior. The high ceiling and crown moldings bespoke modestly-upscale beginnings, but the ancient stained carpet, dingy lighting, and the distinct tang in the air said that it hadn't been well-cared for for a very long time.

The young lady behind the desk was a surprise. I had expected an ancient, arthritic, and caustic ex-bellhop with a bad back, but instead there was a bright and attractive young woman who greeted us with a smile and completed our check-in efficiently. A veritable rose among the thorns.

Across the lobby were two elevators. The larger was masked off with plastic sheeting, with bits of rubble leaking across the floor, and marked "Down for Repairs". From the dust on the plastic, the repairs had been long in coming. The button for the other elevator lit when pressed, and we heard some encouraging squeaking and grinding sounds beyond. Eventually, the elevator arrived and the doors ground open.

It had once been grand. Glue-chipped glass panels that might have once been gilded were mounted over hardwood-veneered walls. The button panel was brass, with brushed brass access panels above and below. Sadly, everything was scratched, worn, and badly faded. There was chunk of stained carpet, with a design far too big for an elevator, inexpertly placed on the floor. In the middle was a soft spot, which we avoided out of general suspicion. One of the ceiling panels was missing, and some grubby wiring hung just out of reach, with various wire nuts and fittings lending a bit of holiday color. Due to the missing panel, we could watch the elevator shaft scroll slowly past as we ascended to our room on the ninth floor.

Down a narrow and dimly-lit hallway we found our room. I was surprised to see a modern card-lock on the old paneled door, and when I swiped our card-key it obligingly turned green. The door didn't open. I swiped the card again, and the light turned green. Listening closely, I even heard the quiet snick of the latch withdrawing. Still the door wouldn't open. I was going to head for the lobby when Patty gave it another try. When the light turned green, she hit the door with her shoulder, and with a squeak and a squeal we were in. The building had apparently settled, and the door was very tight in it's frame.

Speaking of tight, so was the room. It's true that Patty and I are often put up in pretty swank hotels, and it's possible our expectations are a bit high. I will say, however, that we more often stay at budget-conscience hotels (Comfort Inns are our favorites) and do just fine. This room was maybe ten feet square. One chair, a bed and a table. Next to the door was a tiny closet (the coat hangers had to be steeply-angled to fit). There was an equally small bathroom, where some sleek chrome knobs and a pedestal sink tried valiently to convey an attitude of updated and modern. They were overpowered by the ancient carpet with a collection of stains and runs, dirty drapes, and general feeling of everything being slightly sticky. It was actually relatively clean, so the sticky might have been old varnish on the wood -- it does that sometimes in humid climates. At least, that's what we kept telling ourselves.

The ancient air-conditioner still worked, although it sounded like an angry badger. We decided to count our blessings, and settled down to read for a bit before bed. I went out to get some ice, and found the machine predictably out of order. The eighth floor didn't even have an ice machine, nor did the seventh, so I came back empty-handed and we drank warm sodas and read until bedtime.

The bed was special. It was super-soft (and with my back troubles, that's not a good thing). It had several big fluffy pillows, a big fluffy blanket, and crisp, clean sheets. The sheets were tucked in tightly enough to bounce a quarter off of, leading me to suspect that at least one of the maids is also a Marine. The suspension of this bed, however, was a scientific miracle. I believe it defied the laws of conservation of energy. It was a system of interlinked springs (which I could feel quite clearly through the thin padding on top). However, any movement by one bedpartner was mystically amplified and transmitted to the other. If I rolled onto my side, Patty would be flung nearly off the mattress. If she coughed I could feel the aftershocks rolling through the mattress for minutes afterwards.

Soon we were giggling like a couple of middle-school miscreants. The game was to hold very still until the other person was asleep, and then bounce violently, throwing them into the air without warning. The problem with a game like this, is that there's absolutely no way to know when it's really over, and the temptation to avenge yourself just one more time is overwhelming.

I can resist everything except temptation.

Morning came far too early, and my back was every bit as sore as I'd feared. It's hard to be dazzling and brilliant when you're asleep on your feet. Our apologies to everyone we met that first day, I could only keep my balance by making sure I was drooling evenly out of both sides of my mouth. Let's just pretend that we were practicing method acting for a hypothetical zombie book.

The good news is that a room had opened up at the Hyatt for the next night. While it was expensive, and we still ended up paying for the night we'd booked at the first hotel, we payed the tab with a big smile on our faces. Remember kids, if you're going to go out in public and try to impress the world, a good night's sleep is an absolute necessity. Consider that your author pro-tip for the day!