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Day 1 at Capclave

I came down to breakfast with my laptop because the Lobby has free wifi and yesterday I caught up on emails and gchatted with maelkann whilst having breakfast. It *was* 6 am though. And I hadn't yet really been to the con. Today though, I ended up having breafast with three other people, shrieked with laughter and drank a lot of coffee. Which is a long way of saying, I'm having a great time!!

So here is an update from yesterday since I went to bed and read last night instead of being on the interwebs. It's something new I'm trying.

After breakfast, I headed down to the lobby to meet the Vandermeers and wait for Colleen who had all invited me to join their tour of the Library of Congress. Colleen works there and we got a personalised tour which was totally worth the entire trip to the USA! We headed into the city - it turns out the Metro passes right behind the hotel and is on the same line that I used to take when I visited my Uncle out when he lived here. We met up with Connie Willis and her husband and Judy and Bruce and headed off for a quick chinese lunch. With fortune cookies. (I'm still getting a kick out of how much like TV America is - this is my fourth trip to the US and I still get amused easily). Lunch was fantastic - the company and the stories - and the food was not bad.

And then we headed off to the Library. Which is ... OMG BOOK AND INFORMATION AND DATA AND MAPS P0RN! First Colleen showed us where she works, in the basement, and we got to see how all the maps in the Library are slowly getting digitised and made accessible on the net. And then she showed us all kinds of oddities that make their way to the Library. I really like the ladies (mannequin size) wearing clothing made out of maps. And Roosevelt's (I think) globe of the world. Also the Library has the only surviving intact (across 14 pages or soemthing) first map of the world that names America "America" from the 1600s - it cost $14 million. It was quite nice :P

Then we headed out to the public part of the Library via tunnels under the street. SO COOL. And OMG the library is very beautiful - just on the edge of "too much" in terms of opulence. Lots of columns and beautiful murals and arches and statues and quotes of inspiration - "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"; "Words are a kind of action and actions are a kind of words" and all kinds of other great quotes. Is it me or do Americans tend to quote things a lot more than Australians do? We got to overlook into the reading room and I had a tiny moment - Ann was like, "Books are beautiful, right?" And well ... yeah, I think I got that whole "books are an artifact that is beautiful" thing - it was just like the shots you see of all the most beautiful libraries in the world only in real life. And kinda got me. I guess.

We toured a bunch of exhibits in the halls including Jefferson's Library collection. Which is what started the Library of Congress in the first place. Pretty cool. And yeah, a lot of books. But is it weird if I don't think that they were *so many* or *too many* books?

And then Colleen took me on a quick side tour to see Gershwin's piano and writing table. I have a thing for Gershwin. And it reminded me of my grandmother who also had a thing for Gerwshin.

Then the gift store and then off.

We did a quick run past a couple of other government buildings, which was cool but we had to head back cause Connie had a panel.

I had a really great time. The library was just so inspiring and so got me back to the whole core of why I love what I am doing right now and why I am here, in DC, right now. And there were moments of just soaking all of that in. And taking stock and getting energy and recharging my batteries. But on top of that, I was there taking the tour with Ann and Jeff and Connie. Which ... has to be a pretty unique way of touring the Library of Congress, you have to admit. But ... Colleen wandering around and telling us about the history and so on and also contextualising it all, and having that bounce off the others, reminded me what I love about this genre, and about all good books generally. It reminded me how I love and am inspired and energised by intelligent, thoughtful, provoking and challenging ideas and thoughts, presented by intelligent, thoughtful and caring people. It kicked off that thing I was complaining that I thought I'd lost the other day. It made me want to read. But not just any old thing. It made me want to read work written by people like those around me (and those around me after watching how their brains work) - brilliant stuff that will challenge and push me. People who have something to say about something - cutting edge, new, fresh and unique stuff. The stuff that makes your arms get goosebumps and demands you stay up long past bedtime to keep reading. Sorta like I should stop eating the junk food and get back to the crunchy stuff.

This is why I should go to cons. I love cons. And I want to thank Tansy (and my friend Jus at work) who talked me into coming. They were right! I needed this and actually this is probably the kind of holiday I should be having.

When we came back, I hung out and relaxed before heading off to an early dinner with Ann and Jeff and Steven. Then I registered and went to Jeff's panel on writers on the internet. Quick drinks at the bar, lots and lots of laughing and then we had our 11pm panel on what's hot this decade. We were 6 people on the panel and there were lots of different opinions.

And bed for me as I was starting to feel the jetlag.

Today I have one programming item of sitting behind a table with some TPP books I brought for an hour (it's a small con and space has been limited so they have a schedule for some limited trading if you didn't make the trader's room in time). And tonight is the WSFA Small Press Award. And the Drink Bird Awards Party afterwards. I have to admit that the Drink Bird awards is something that kinda sold me into coming as I saw all the photos last year and really wished I'd been there. It's the second year of the Vandermeers' awards to people behind the scenes who work so hard to make our community vibrant and ongoing.

And ... I might actually go to some panels today :P I'm trying a few new things at the moment :)



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
I love visiting D.C.! My aunt and uncle used to nearby in Springfield, Virginia, and we'd go there from Louisville every so often to visit. I was even sent there on a business trip once. I've been there several times, and I'm yet to see everything, what with the Smithsonian, the monuments, the zoo, etc.

I've never been to the Library of Congress, though. My household were pretty much non-readers, so I think they would have found so many books around threatening or something. I would have loved it! LOL

Now that I've read your post, I want to go back there.

Mary MMM

Edited at 2010-10-23 02:29 pm (UTC)
Oct. 23rd, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
That is so exciting! As a book person AND a geographer *get* the whole map geek thing. Would love to chat to you more about your visit some time after you get back.
Oct. 24th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah! It was really really cool! They have been doing some really cool things to get around the data size issues for uploading 28 000 maps so far online.
Oct. 23rd, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
OMG! Major bouncing in excited jealousy.

The Library of Congress. Nothing else needs to be said. Wow.
Oct. 24th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah it was pretty wow
Oct. 23rd, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Quick and random question: how did you find getting thru US Customs etc with your laptop? A previous experience makes me a little hesitant to take my netbook...
Oct. 24th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
No problems getting through customs at all.
Oct. 23rd, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you're having a lovely time! I've had a little core of potential guilt that you'd go and spend all that money and not have fun but now I feel VINDICATED. And, you know, totally jealous, but in a good way.

I think working as hard as you do, and reading nothing but the slushpile, it's quite easy to end up jaded and cynical about our industry long before you're due. So I'm delighted you are getting a chance to get all refreshed and maybe bounce out of a rut.

What a lovely experience! Hope you have many more this week.

Oct. 24th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
Lol. When are you not vindicated about advice you give me about my life?

I think you're right that its very easy to get jaded and cynical and I should probably make sure I take steps to counter that more often than I do.
Oct. 24th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
It's a curse being right this often. I am due for some HORRIBLY WRONG AND LIFE RUINING advice to come out of my mouth.

It's important with our jobs because they are creative - and yours requires creativity and a creative mindset as much as mine - that you aren't always just plugging away at the work list, that you have time to relax and let the brain soak up inspiration.

From your POV - yeah, you've basically spent the last several months reading works that are either not good enough for you to publish, or not good enough YET (cos you have to put in the hard yards editing) and that's very draining after a while. You need to outsource some of that editing by reading stuff other people have worked hard to make awesome :D Also it gives you something higher to aim for.

Connie is a great author to tackle who is easy (but still crunchy) to read and enjoy.
Oct. 26th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
Ok well I won't ask you about important things like marriage and babies. Hmm.. Who will I ask for those, then?

It's true you can't always be about the production, you have to refill the pot of inspiration. I've been negligent at that and should be better at it in the future.

I'm really enjoying my Connie binge.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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