I can’t sleep. Part of the problem is that when I lie down, all the blood in my body rushes to my sinuses. Actually, maybe that’s rushing phlegm. Yeah. It’s phlegm. The other part of the problem is that back home, it’s Round 1 of the football season, and my team is playing.
It would be stupid to get up, turn on my laptop, and check the scores online. The game won’t finish until 3am my time, so I won’t get to find out the result tonight anyway. But…
I get up, turn on my laptop, and check the scores online. It’s Richmond 44, Carlton 44. I also discover that there’s a streaming radio broadcast available. “Hmm…” I say.
At 3am, I’ve got the laptop in bed with me, piping out commentary. We lose. I turn it off and fall asleep.
Sunday is a travel day: the first day without a bookstore event since I started the tour. All I have to do is fly to San Francisco, check into my hotel, and marvel at the can of personal oxygen on offer in the bathroom. It’s a relief to know that’s there, just in case, say, all the oxygen molecules in the air coincidentally rush to the other end of the room. I will grab that can and inhale until the entropy principle reasserts itself.
For dinner I meet up with Katrina, a NationStates moderator, and discover that she’s the girl who gave me a home-baked banana loaf in San Francisco when I was here last time. I figure this out because this time Katrina has brought me not one but two banana loaves. And not just that: she and players John and Thom have hand-made a “NationStates Monopoly” set, complete with “Issue cards,” “UN Resolution” cards, custom money, and a board where key regions and alliances are the property. It’s amazing. And I would post a picture, except when I set up the game back at my hotel room later, my camera batteries die in the middle of extending the lens. But trust me: it’s amazing. I can’t believe how much time and care went into it.
On Monday morning I shave my head, because my hair was getting so unruly, and meet Frank, who was also my media escort from last time. One of the many great things about Frank is that he has an extraordinary, apparently endless store of pithy quotes. Any given situation, Frank can produce a famous quote to express what I was trying to say, only better.
Frank takes me out to Mountain View, where I’m scheduled to read at Google. I’m very excited about this, because I’m a geek, and because as far as I can tell Google is the best big company in the world. I have heard many tales of wonder about the Google offices and want to see if these are true.
We’re there early, though. Really early. About 24 hours early, in fact. There’s been a miscommunication and I’ll have to come back tomorrow.
So instead of wandering through the magical fields of Google, I drop into San Francisco bookstores and sign stock. Everyone in San Francisco is very fit, I notice. Not that I’m surprised. Just walking up and down those hills, residents must build incredibly powerful thighs. They probably need to exercise a lot to balance that out.
I call home and discover that Finlay has really gotten into YouTube lately. When Jen turns on the computer, Fin comes up and says, “Movies? Movies?” Then she sits on Jen’s lap and watches clips from the “Pets & Animals” section. Apparently Charles has a licking problem is popular.
Then it’s time for my reading. I’m expecting a small crowd, because it’s in Danville, which was met with howls of despair from my Bay Area readers when announced. And indeed there are fewer people, perhaps 15 or 20, but since most have made a big effort to get here, they’re a lovely audience. One guy, Fazil, has brought me a bottle of the legendary Fukola Cola, which I discover tastes pretty much like regular cola. I was expecting to at least hallucinate a little. Disappointing.
On the drive home, Frank suggests that I take a photo of each audience and post it on my blog. That’s a terrific idea, one that I could have used about ten days ago. Damn. Next time.
The last thing I do is a little more bathtub washing. I thought I was done with this, but since my Google reading was knocked back a day, I need one more non-ugly shirt. I decide to try a technique recommended by Tim in the comments of a previous blog, whereby you wrap the wet item in a towel and stomp on it. I’m generally in favor of plans that include stomping on things. And this technique seems to work pretty well, although Tim did promise that I would be “astounded” by it. I’m not sure I’m astounded. I think to astound me, my shirt would need to come out bone dry and already ironed. Or have maybe transformed into a much hipper, more expensive shirt. That would be astounding. This is merely satisfyingly less wet.