It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Pizza.

My last thoughts of Chicago were of the oppressive heat.  The sun seemed hotter and thus the shade sweeter than home; the humidity was cruel and ever-present. I loved the city, but hated the humidity.  As a coffee fiend of minor renowned, the weather disrupted my joyful drinking on the walk back from that particular den if inequity.  Instead, I needed to leave enough time in my busy schedule to take my fix onsite, cutting my expected number of trips in half.  The coffee shops (one mediocre, one fantastic), much like my hotel, understood the importance of heavy hand on the thermostat.  I often imagined the patrons lingering extra hours, without buying more dark elixir, to delay the unpleasant task of re-entering the warm sticky air just a bit longer.  There was free WiFi after all.

In packing for Chicago I thought about the weather and decided on shorts and t-shirts.  Clearly these were fine for our time at the World Science Fiction Convention, but if it was that hot and humid I would need to change my shirt often.  And who wears shorts to nice restaurants?  Surely, not I.   So, I packed lots of shorts and t-shirts.  A great deal of effort went into picking those shirts.  As I am not a wall flower, my attire is often chosen to elicit a response, generally a smile or laugh.  It’s harder to do than one thinks.  My friend Chataya says it’s all about the shoes.  Of course she’s right, but no one notices my shoes.  Everyone notices hers.  It’s the plan and, in my opinion, a very good one.  A few times my shirts got noticed, so my plan was not completely flawed.

It is so hot outside in Chicago that the hotel has decided to keep the internal temperature just slightly warmer than the North Pole in winter.  Inside I’m freezing and outside I’m dehydrating like beef jerky, just much slower because the humidity makes sure that my skin is wet and slimy like a salamander, and you know how tough it is to dry one of those.  I’m thinking it is easier to survive a Chicago winter than enjoy a Chicago summer.  I’d like to see the Wicked Witch of the West avoid melting there.

To combat the cold, Lambchop wore pants one day.  She was cozy and comfy in hotel.  When we took a walk for lunch, her comfy was roasted on a spit.  Thus ended the experiment of “pants in the daytime.”  While we often wear shorts at home, neither of us have 10 pairs and we were in the Windy City for 8 days.  I hope no one noticed me recycling my shorts.  I’m paranoid about things like that.  Look at my fun t-shirt people, not my sad, ready for the laundry basket shorts.  And yes, at least twice I wore shorts to restaurants that implored, “Please, Lee – dress a bit nicer.”

To offset the heat and humidity, there were a few cool moments.  Our friend John Picacio won the Chesley Award for Best Product Illustration (the 2012 Song of Ice and Fire Calendar) and then proceeded to call us and several of our friends out in his acceptance speech.  I’ve never been thanked like that before.  It gave me chills.  Of course karma was looking out for him and he won the Hugo for the Best Professional Artist 2 days later.  I’m thinking at this rate its time he puts the EGOT on his goal sheet.

There are a few times of when I wear my fanboy hat for a few moments before I revert back to the suave, cool dude I am.  I try to keep the fawning to a minimum, but I am a bit out of practice. If I fawned too much, I apologize in arrears.  At a party I finally got to meet Melinda Snodgrass, who is as nice as nice can be.  I also had short conversations with Ian Tregellis and Stephen Leigh, writers whose work on Wild Cards I’ve always loved.

One of my favorite moments in Chicago, was one many people missed. There was some serious bonding as  Adz, Allythia, Arantius, (what’s with all these A’s?) Fragile Bird, Lambchop, Jeebus and I had a quiet night of cocktails and pizza.  Friendships were built and I can’t wait to hang out with them again.  What is interesting is that only Lambchop and I are from the US.  Australia, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg were all represented.  Sadly, there were no hobbits, but I do think I saw some trolls across the room.

Perhaps I have the wrong attitude toward the humidity.  It doesn’t seem to bother the natives, though I saw far too many working women going back and forth from their offices in flip-flops.   Have we come so far from the tennis shoes as an accessory in the 80’s that flip-flops can survive in the office?  No, they were not Gucci, at least I don’t think so.  The trick might be to embrace the humidity and treat it like a sauna; think of it as the soothing schvitz integral to rejuvenation and part of a cleansing.  I do feel invigorated after my trip.  As my friends return to their homes, many of them falling from the high of comradely, booze and unbridled joy, I have different feelings.  I don’t have that emotional drop several of them are describing in social media.  I find myself smiling and ready to enjoy life in the best place on earth.

You didn’t know that fall in the bay area is the best weather in the calendar year or that the crush has started in Napa?  Add in Football and the smile that waits for me at home and life is pretty good.   Suddenly, oppression is the last thing on my mind.

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No Sense, No Sensability

The train was crowded and overly warm. The BART Operator kept apologizing for stopping in the wrong spot. It was cute the first time. After the third time her girls giggle and nervous manner became annoying. We knew the train pulled too far forward and she knew the train pulled to far forward., So what that a few people were left in the lurch and had to walk 25 yards to get on? The train was not leaving without them. I think she’d have been better served apologizing for not having the Air Conditioning on high enough. Luckily, I put on a 2nd and 3rd coat of deodorant. See, I do care about my coworkers.

When I finally got off the train, crawling over piled in commuters, squeezing past the guy with the bike — I know you think you are helping the environment, but how many people rip their clothes on your mountain bike, requiring them to drive to the store and buy new clothes or have the old ones repaired? Not so smart now, are you? – and made it to the platform, calm, empty and remarkably cool.

I had gone less than a 50 yards , when I saw her, barely in the train, clearly uncomfortably perched too close to the door.  You know her, the corporate accountant, trying to balance her “I’m a low-level manager , respect me!” with her need to be a woman (yeah, I’ll flirt my way out of this situation). Black business suit, hitting her nicely just above the knees.   A white blouse that was ready to have one more button undone. Make-up that can play both sides of the fence (I’m guessing her lunch date was on her mind more than that budget meeting at 11).  Dark hose that said evening wear.  And — wait for it — sand colored Uggs. 

Seriously? My stomach flopped. In what world did she think should walk down Montgomery Street in San Francisco and not stand out like the tanning mom?   This was worse than Lisa Rinna’s latest lips. She was a fashion crime for all to see.  I’ve long ago given in to the specific disappoint of commuting women wearing flats and tennis shoes on the train.  I know  my mother would be appalled at that, but this was horrific.  A color faux pas layered with a serious fashion belly flop.  What, is this LA?  I know they wear crap like this there and call it fashion.  I guess there are clueless people here too. I walked away hoping Joan Rivers would scream at her and throw her under the train.