Thursday, July 5, 2012


Mornings in Anaheim, or the four mornings I was there, always started out cloudy. In fact on my first morning there, I did one of those jump out of your hotel bed excitedly (after waking up to the instant, albeit brief panic of "where the fuck am i?" of course) and throwing open the drapes to see which city you are in. And when I did that I was expecting the palm treed blue skied scenery to say HELLO! I got really smoggy grey skies instead so it was kinda like "oh, hey, i guess." But invariably, by about 10am the day would turn into what the fiercely New York part of me would call "fucking beautiful." Looking back on the rest of my trip there, this was nature's way of foreshadowing my trip: mostly sunny with a few obscure hours of gray.

This year my job graciously (and utterly unexpectedly) sent me to a professional conference in Anaheim. Every year for the past four years I've worked here I have submitted a request to attend this conference and every year I have been told no so I was shocked to have been sent this year. Pleasantly shocked. Like that time my cat headbutted me and I got an electric shock.

Anyway, Anaheim. It seems like there are two major things that go on there: conferences and Disneyland. And more than one person mentioned the Ducks. Baseball? I could google it but I kinda don't want to. I would never have admitted that inside the conference, seeing as it was full about 60,000 librarians, you remember librarians, don't you? They like to look stuff up. Also, when the lights go down, they like to party like rock stars. Googling, emerging technology discussing, glasses wearing rock stars. At least according to Sherman Alexie, who said during his speech that he spent a dinner with a group of increasingly drunk librarians, one of whom kissed him goodbye on the neck. I wouldn't know anything about that really, being one of the few teetotaler librarians (I only drink clear booze.) However, I did notice that whenever I'm around fellow librarians, especially super involved and ambitious ones, I feel like I'm a supremely lousy one. For example, I can never envision myself giving a talk to anyone about anything I'm doing at either of my current jobs while standing at a podium and changing slides on a power point presentation and inserting  cornball jokes. I can't use words like "discovery" and "implementing" and "paradigm" in my everyday speak without feeling like I did when I was five and trying on my mother's shoes: fancy, but out of place. That is not to say I didn't learn anything there. I learned quite a bit actually which I've taken back to my job and I'll likely keep going to the conference every year. But honestly, if there weren't so many great authors making appearances and signing copies of their work, I just don't think I'd care about going as much. But because those authors are there and because I'm a literary groupie...well, there you are. Next year it is in Chicago and well, we all know how I feel about Chicago.

My friend Dawn was able to join me in Anaheim for a few days and, after our day drinking escapades in downtown Disneyland, I confirmed how happy I was that she did. You now know that I'm the type of person who goes to Disneyland to drink. That is not to say we didn't actually go INTO Disneyland. We did. It just happened to be after a few gin collins(es?) and some margaritas. Side observation: At the margarita bar, I witnessed a young man add salt to the tortilla chips he was eating. He would dip his chip in the salsa and then salt it. Then he proceeded to lick the rim of the margarita glass slowly. I can only surmise that he was on an all salt and alcohol diet. That, I do not know but I do know that seeing that Dawn and I were not the only early afternoon boozers in Disneyland comforted me the way two margaritas comfort me. In fact, many, many adults were indulging in the sauce right alongside us. It made it ok when, after finally going inside the park, we sat down to watch the Muppets 3D show and laughed like lunatics. I also somehow managed to convince Dawn to not only ride the Tower of Terror ride with me but to also stand in line for about an hour to do so. While we waited we chatted with this adorable family of four who were standing in line for this ride for the second time that day at the behest of their four year old son who is undoubtedly going to grow up to be a ladykiller. By the time we actually got on the ride, well I was still buzzed. The ride was so much fun that, even though it was one of only two rides I went on, I feel like I got a good Disneyland experience. Here is evidence that I went (in the form of Dawn's picture of our picture):

I'm not sure why we are looking off to the side.

After a long day of conferencing and day drinking and Disneylanding, we decided to have dinner at the hotel and call it a night. I can't be sure but I seem to vaguely recall discussing my deep aversion to lawns. Only Dawn can confirm this.

The next day was a full day of conference stuff/ author talks/ author signings/ brochure gathering/publisher schmoozing. In the evening we took a trip to a neighborhood called Fullerton because we had heard it was a spot. Also, when travelling I rely heavily on what the locals say. One of the employees at the hotel recommended a sushi restaurant which also happened to be in Fullerton so we took his advice and had an amazing sushi meal. In fact, the three times I've visited California, I've had superb sushi. (Btw, with Dawn's assistance, I managed to avoid any and all chain restaurants which was something I was afraid of, being inside Anaheim which is a chain restaurant mecca of sorts.) Anyway, after dinner, we walked around a bit looking for a bar and kept running into places that fell on either side of an extreme spectrum. They were either totally dead inside or they were filled with bleached blond co-eds grinding to songs by C+C Music Factory or Third Eye Blind. Luckily, we came upon this very hip jazz bar with fancy, prohibition-y cocktails and a live band. It was one of those places where you share tables with strangers and enjoy the music and the cocktails which, if I'm being honest, I loved. I'm not normally a jazz fan but I really think that has more to do with lack of exposure than anything. The band that night was more Latin jazz than traditional but I thought they were tops. We had an adorable waiter that reminded me of Allen Ginsburg and if I didn't know any better, I would have guessed we were in San Francisco and not the land of Disney/grinding college students. Having such a good time there was the only salve to the odyssey of finding a taxi to take us back to the hotel. I won't spend too much time complaining about that except to say that during one taxi ride, I was talking to the driver and asking him if people just flagged down taxis like in other cities and was given a long speech about how certain taxis are mob owned and to be very careful. Kinda dumb, that.

Sunday I got to hear Sherman Alexie give a talk (the aforementioned drunken librarian story included) and attended one more meeting before spending a few hours with Dawn before she flew home. We were sat by the pool, chatting when I got a phone call from home delivering some bad news about my aunt taking a turn for the worse. Something I've noticed is that bad news often comes to me while I'm physically in an idyllic setting. It has happened to me almost every time. Shouldn't the weather reflect what's happening in your brain? There really isn't anything stranger than hearing a loved one crying over the telephone while seeing palm trees swaying in the distance and sitting in the warmth of the sun. I watched the families swimming and the blissful expressions on the children's faces as they jumped into the pool and felt only envy. I felt just underneath reality for a moment.

I was leaving in the morning and after Dawn left I didn't really want to do anything but sit in my hotel room and completely zone out. And that's pretty much all I did until it was 7am and time for me to leave. On the plane ride home I read a novel, the ending of which made me weep. The man seated next to me seemed increasingly uncomfortable with my quiet sniffling until he felt the obligation to ask if I was ok. I politely told him it was the ending of the novel but thank you. Then he immediately started eating his 1oz of peanuts and staring off into space. Fittingly the novel was bittersweet, just like this trip had been. Maybe that's why I turned into that girl, the one that cries on a plane.

So, Anaheim was memorable, not for what it is but rather for what happened there. That isn't always true of every place and the more places I visit, the more I understand that. The only way I can conceivably picture myself returning is for another conference but at least I can say I went there once. And really, why else do we exist except to leave one giant "I WUZ HERE"?

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