I start this post with Grace’s shoes because all posts about Southern California should start with a fine pair of strappy sandals. Everyone knows I don’t do strappy sandals but I think Grace wears them very well. I absolutely love the toenail polish! If you want to see more of Grace’s style you should hop over to her blog What If No One’s Watching? (and she’s doing a giveaway right now too!). Grace is everything I wished I was going to grow up to be: six feet tall (okay, I was aiming for 6’3″ and stopped a little shy of it at 5’7″), stylish, smart, funny, and completely down to earth. Plus she has the best laugh EVER.
The panels I went to this year were great, as I expected them to be, especially the one about writing book pitches. I have one tiny complaint and this goes out to all panel speakers: I would like to see your face when you’re talking to me please! The whole time this panelist talked this was my view (though often I saw even less than this). I do understand that sometimes they need their laptops to do their presentations but pushing it to the side would be helpful. It has been suggested to me by more than one person that I am perhaps not appreciating the 21st century lifestyle that includes live-blogging, being connected online even while trying to connect with actual live people… I accept the criticism. I think it’s true. My expectations are very 20th century. I’m not dissing anyone who hid behind their laptop, I’m not saying they didn’t still give plenty of value, but I’m sticking with my wish that when I go to see people talk I actually get to see them. I traveled 900 miles to hear what all of them had to say. I still think the quality of information and discussions was very high so please don’t hate me for having that one little complaint.
This picture is for Skye because she asked for it even though I told her it was not a good one. Skye took a ride down the sidewalk in Liz’s wheelchair sitting on Liz’s lap. If I’d known they were going to pull this very funny stunt I would have run to the bottom of the hill and got a much better snap of it. Or caught it on video. It was so funny! Alas, once I saw what they were going to do it was all I could do to search my capacious bag for my camera and get this one. So this is for you Skye!
When there are hundreds of people swarming all around you for two or three days and then suddenly they’re all gone it’s eerie. I like ghostly spaces like empty theatres and empty stadiums. Think of all the asses that sat on those seats. Do asses have their own ghosts?
The Amtrack train station in San Diego is in this gorgeous old building. I would like to live here. The windows reminded me of the living room window of my old stucco early thirties house. Which always gives me a little stab of pain but then I remind myself that everywhere beautiful I’ve been allowed to live is an experience to be celebrated. I’ve been lucky in that way.
As is my usual habit I couldn’t help but watch the sides of the tracks for dead bodies. I always do that on trains. I was slightly distracted by the ticket-taker from hell who was mean to a little kid, sharp, impatient, and basically accused me of lying about moving seats at one point (I hadn’t). It was a tense ride from San Diego to Los Angeles with all the passengers (adults) terrified of the blond terror, but I forgot all about her when we stopped for passengers in San Juan Capistrano. This was my view out the window and it is eloquent of everything that is good in California. The old mission style architecture, the bouganvilla spilling itself all over the state, and the light which, when it’s not making me angry, is beautiful.
Croce’s restaurant. Grace took us out and they showed a great deal of care in serving a table with severe allergies. The food was great and I had such a great time eating with Grace, Skye, and Laura. I had potato “lasagna” with heirloom tomatoes, ricotta, a wee bit of goat cheese (!!!), and a little tomato “coulis” which is fancy talk for a smooth tomato sauce. I also had their Greek salad and both were excellent.
I love this picture of Skye and Grace. She just arrived at our meeting corner (not doing tricks) and we were enjoying Grace’s glamor. Plus there was fun talk about the obvious details Angelina doesn’t notice.
I kept trying to get a great shot of them walking because Grace, Skye, and Laura were all looking gorgeous and I wanted to catch star quality shots. Sadly, my camera doesn’t catch action shots that well. Still, don’t they look like movie stars? Or very important people? Or at the very least: people you want to know?
Can you believe that fabulous dress Grace is wearing?! Best dress I saw at the whole conference.
Please observe Skye’s cute shoes!
The San Diego Convention Center is huge. Colossal. Very corporate feeling but I totally appreciated its design when looking out at this view.
Skye and Liz both have fantastic smiles. If I had a fortune they could probably peel it from my fingers with those smiles. I didn’t do them half justice.
Those glasses are so chic I couldn’t stop staring. Luckily Grace knows me or she might have been tempted to clock me for being a creep. Her whole style is enviable.
Laura is the lady that got me my job with Blogher but this week was the first time I’ve ever met her in person. We’ve known each other through our blogs for about five years. It was such a pleasure to finally meet her and get to hang out and eat amazing food with her.
I have more pictures and I will load more up as I process them. Tonight is my last night of vacation so I’m going to sign off and watch some cable while I have a chance. Time to come home to my regular life!
This is not room 555. It’s the cafe that is connected to the 500 West Hotel which is the Hostel/Hotel hybrid I stayed in. I had a private room but shared bathrooms. Very European. When I did the shared bathroom thing at The Pod Hotel in Manhattan I was amazingly impressed with the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the rooms. This was not my experience at 500 West.
The omelet I had at this cafe was alright but that comforting looking cup of coffee you see there is THE WORST BROWN WATER IN THE WORLD.
This is the Hallway of Doom. One wrong direction given by the Hotel clerk and you could be wandering these halls until your reservations are forfeited. The doors are sometimes in numerical order but will suddenly change things up and skip around until two hallways over. This is not encouraging to the tired traveler.
This is room 555 where there was obviously a drunken pissing contest in the past. This room is right around the corner from a bank of bathrooms so I can only imagine that a) pissing on the floor was more fun or b) the person who left this stain was just as afraid as I was to use the toilets in the middle of the night.
Other delightful features of this hotel are:
- The tiniest television I’ve ever seen.
- A luxuriously frail plastic chair for your convenience writing letters and such useful occupations as most travelers indulge in.
- No air conditioning. (Not to worry- there’s a barbie sized ceiling fan and if you stand on the bed you get almost close enough to be cooled off!)
- Saturday nights are bustling so you needn’t worry about making too much noise yourself until after 4am when most of the party action, shouting down the hallway, constant clunking of the creaky elevator and the violent banging noises all die down to a peaceful Sunday morning style reverent quiet.
- You don’t have to worry about getting the bathrooms too dirty because they’re so shabby you can’t really tell if they’re clean or not in the first place.
When you have a small budget you don’t have a lot of options and I will say that there are many Motels I wouldn’t have preferred to this hotel. As bad as it sounds it was at least the clientele is not sleazy. It’s mostly young Europeans and not prostitutes or drug addicts.
I am now in Santa Monica in a much better hotel called Seaview Hotel. Still no air conditioning but so much more comfortable.
I’ve got more to report but right now I must prepare to go out with my sister. I hope you all have a great night!
I am writing from the land of palms and honey. The land of perpetual mean light, wide streets, very few pedestrians. San Diego is a city of trains. Really long-ass trains. So long that it cost me $3 in taxi fare to wait for one to pass. San Diego is a city I’ve known since I was a young child. I have never liked it. It has always struck me as a reflection of what hell would be like for a person like me. I still don’t like this city at all. It’s creepy because there are so few pedestrians. In New York it doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is there are people walking the sidewalks everywhere. Here the streets are eerily empty. I’ve never seen a downtown more devoid of people.
What San Diego does have, and which I appreciate, is the food. The place to go for food is 5th Street in the gaslamp district. Within a ten block radius there must be at least 50 restaurants of every type: Indian, Thai, pub food, fast food, Mexican, Persian, Retro American, Italian, and Irish. There’s one place I’ve found outside of the gaslamp district that I really enjoyed. The food is mostly pedestrian but the beer is stellar: Karl Strauss. They brew their own beer and you can buy and fill growlers.
Some travel notes:
- People ignore the directions and mandatory edicts of flight attendants. I find this disturbing when it’s for everyone’s safety like “turn your electric devices off because they might interfere with the flight signals”.
- 500 West Hotel is shabby. There’s a stain on the carpet in my room that looks suspiciously like a male pissing contest. My first impression was Barton Fink without the delicious antique charm but with all the sense that things happen here behind closed doors.
- I have never seen so many uncomfortably high heels in my life. The wedge is queen. 6″ heels are the new stocks. Heels are everything and most women are not good at walking in them.
- Tube top maxi-dresses are everywhere. I have a word of advice if you want to wear this style: wear real underwear with them. You’d think no one can see what’s going on underneath a maxi-dress but your butt will shimmer and shake and – oh wait, you wore that so we would be transfixed by your ass! Job well done.
- Lots of half-naked men here.
- Lots of mostly naked women here.
- No air conditioning in my hotel. !!!!!!
That’s all I’ve got for now because it’s 1:30 am and I have the hiccups.