Friday, October 10, 2008

One-Eyed Donna

Well, it was the first full day of Bouchercon yesterday. I didn't make any panels in the morning, instead learning the ins and outs of the US postal system to send some books to Alaska in time for my arrival. The theory was that it would make my over-the-weight-limit luggage back into normal territory again. Sadly, I have replaced the books I sent with more books, so my cunning plan was foiled. I also went to Walgreens. For some reason I LOVE American drug stores. So I spent $100 on crap I don't need (and half of it I don't actually know what it is - it just sounded good).

Then it was back to an afternoon of panels - all excellent. Judy has done an excellent job with the panels. There were loads I wanted to go to. Unfortunately, I could only be in one room at a time and just had to make some tough choices. It's brilliant seeing everyone again - some I see regularly and others who I haven't seen for years. The mystery community just has to be made up of the nicest, funniest, sweetest and most supportive people imaginable.

We went out to dinner last night at what was, apparently, a tapas place (although unlike any tapas place I've ever been to). Before we went I asked my long suffering room-mate Jan which skirt she thought I should wear. "Do you want me to be brutally honest?" she said. Oh-oh.

"Actually Jan, maybe not, maybe you could--"

"That skirt makes you look REALLY big through the hips. Really big. I know that's not what you want to hear, but..."

"No. That's just what I want to hear, thank you. I would hate to go out and for people to say 'Oh my god, look at those hips. Still, at least it takes the attention off her face, the poor girl."

So I changed my skirt, screwing the huge-hipped skirt into a ball and consigning it to the trash.

"There," I said in my slim-hipped skirt, feeling lithe and slim and with the hips of an eel. "That's me."

"Aren't you going to change that skirt after all?"

Soooooooooooo - it wasn't the skirt. It actually WAS my hips. As I turned sideways through the door to allow my hips enough space to squeeze through the doorway I mused idly about whether the have one lettuce leaf or two for dinner.

When the concierge in the hotel found out where we were going he said he would order us a couple of taxis. "It's 12 blocks and the ladies have high heels. Besides, it's getting late." It was half past 7. Apparently, the mean streets of Baltimore can get really mean after dark. I probably shouldn't have said that BEFORE I left Baltimore. My mum will now have put away the thoughts of me being eaten by a bear and will be fashioning new nightmares of her daughter becoming a drugs mule (although with THESE hips it would be more like a drugs camel), donning a jaunty bandana and joining the Crips.

The restaurant - Pazo - was excellent. The cocktail menu was to die for. I had a raspberry martini followed by a white chocolate martini which was pure bliss. Oh, and we had food too. I could not resist the dijon mustard ice cream. That it came with steak tartare gave me pause for about a nano-second. It was delicious. To follow, I had the tenderest steak I have ever eaten (cooked, this time), with blue cheese butter and creamy mashed potatoes. I could feel my arteries hardening as I ordered it.

Then it was back to the bar in the hotel for a few drinks, before heading off to the usual late night poker game. I play poker only at Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime and, as a result, I have to have the rules explained to me all over again (I've still not quite grasped the hand rankings ("Oh, you mean my pair of twos DOESN'T beat that Royal Flush?") Worse, there are about a million different versions of it. I can just about manage, when it's my turn to deal, to deal Texas Hold 'Em (I've seen it on the telly after all :o) ) But then someone will say "Let's play Upsy Daisy Omaha One-Eyed Jacks Are Wild But Only On A Wednesday When There's An R In The Month And The Wind's Coming In From The West Ocho with the Eight Rule Bet Declare Bet." And I am none the wiser when they explain it.

Despite this, last night I won. Not only did I win but I more than doubled my stake and cashed out quids in...well...dollars in. One of these days they are not going to believe that I don't actually know how to play and then where will I be? By now, my mum not only has me down as a gang member, but a card sharp. She will be lying prone on the sofa with my father wafting smelling salts under her nose and offering her a small glass of sherry.

This morning I was up bright and early for a half past 8 panel. This morning's panels were excellent and I went to one every session, and got a couple of books signed. This evening it's out to another restaurant - this one apparently one which does great crab cakes (can't come to Maryland and not have crabcakes). Then it's back to the bar for a wee chat, and then another poker game. A couple of my poker buddies have told me they are going to win their money back off me tonight. We shall see.

So that's the news from Baltimore for today. Chin chin for now. More tomorrow hopefully.




chris said...

Hi Donna. This is all great - I feel like I'm getting the Bouchercon experience without the airfare (or the in-flight flatulence). Glad to hear the poker is going well - I'm up for a game of Hold 'Em at CrimeFest.

Donna said...

Chris - you're on. As long as SOMEONE knows the rules we're OK :o)