(no subject)

Owing to a fun assortment of consecutive issues, since yesterday evening I have spent about 5 hours in commute, total.

This has not been an easy week.

At least I got to smile my way into the train driver cabin and see for myself the fire alarm light go off when they unlatched the rear locomotive, which was kinda cool.


With the commute, strikes, kid wrangling and everything else going on lately, my life wasn't crazy enough yet.

So I'll be attempting NaNoWriMo again.

Odds aren't looking good for me, what with everything, but if I fail, then let me fail with panache.

Anyone else going for it?

(no subject)

Well, I'm off to take my car to be scrapped.

This feels weird. It was a brave little car. Took me all the way to Eurofurence and back several times without complaint. Once it took me from aisheth's place all the way out in Brittany to the south-east of the country, over the course of a single day. Valiant thing.

I still have a stem of lavander on my dashboard from when I last visited Aisheth. I will leave it there on the dashboard, I think, before I close the door for the last time.

Of German hotels and their strange inhabitants.

EF was enough of a gigantic blast that I almost don't mind my car woes and the ensuing serious budget dent all that much.

This is good. I needed a gigantic blast in my life.

I did a hell of a lotta stuff and still there wasn't time to do all I wanted. This is a good thing: it leaves you with both a sense of fulfillment and a great want for more.

Anyway! Highlights, with nice lined up bullets for easier processing by the beer-addled mind:
  • The new venue in Magdeburg had the difficult task of coming after the beloved Ringberg hotel in Suhl. It sort of pulled it off, mostly thanks to midtown location, overall poshness, and large function space. Also the EF staff did absolute wonders with the decoration, with huge, beautiful banners hanging in the huge hotel hall.
  • The hotel hall was a public space. That meant passing Muggles. The look on their faces was precious.
  • I loved watching the staff of the hotel, but also of the surrounding mall restaurants and shops, go from cautiously reserved to warm and enthusiastic in a matter of days. Reportedly, by the end of the con, waiters at nearby wurst places were asking attendees what their species was. This makes me absurdly happy.
  • Food in Germany is just ridiculously cheap. Even in the hotel -- which was twice as expensive as any of the many food joints within a 5 minute walk -- it compared very favorably to my daily eatings in Paris. I freaking love Germany.
  • Consequently, absurd amounts of beer were had. Not the lonely, guilty sort, either: for the most part it was all about offering drinks to people I knew (or didn't know so well). I managed to pay off an old honor debt with one of the EF staff members, who had been incredibly nice with me during my first EF all those years back, and whom I'd never properly thanked.
  • Even when no beer was involved, I got to spend some time with people I'm immensely fond of, and I got to make new friends. This alone made the trip worth it. I got to meet glashund  at last! And he is just as sweet and adorable as online. Thank you for letting me squeesh you, hon. ♥ I hope you had a good time with us!
  • The panels I attended were consistently good, sometimes outright great. I, uh, might have distinguished myself in the writing panels. I blame it on too much German beer. :)
  • Even the serious car-related news I received midway through the con ended up with a positive effect, though not right away. At first I was pretty down for a while: picture me, glumly standing in line for the art show auction results, waiting and brooding, brooding and waiting, without even knowing if I'd won anything because I'd only had time for two quick bids early into the con. I ended up pulling out my sketchbook, and in search of catharsis, but also as an official statement of Screw You, World, I drew an angry dragon (which turned out okay) while standing there in the line. It may not sound like much, but for me, this is big. I never draw in public, where people may watch. And judge. (Here, people watched, and offered praise and appreciation. This is the furry community in a nutshell: come for the porn, stay for the people.)
  • For that matter: EF is the place where the person before you in the line is not an obstacle between you and your goal, but a nice guy to be befriended. Contrasted with my daily commute to Paris, that's incredibly therapeutic.
  • And both my bids won: this piece, and this one. What the hell, people. That's one of Shinnie's most beautiful pieces. You were supposed to bid to death on it!
And I guess that's it. I came home pretty knackered, not having slept a lot. (I seem to wake up at 8am no matter when I went to bed. This makes me feel frighteningly daddy-like.)

And now, after two days worth of car wrangling, it's back to the daily grind. I don't know yet how well I'll deal, but at least I've still got a few last specks of fairy dust sparkling in the back of my mind.

(no subject)

So. Made it to EF in the end, and had an absolutely great time. So great that the intervening news about my car did almost not ruin my day.

In a nutshell: my car is dead. It's indeed the head gasket. The garage says it was fine when they looked at it, so it's not their fault or anything, honest. Repairing it will set me back several grand. More than the car's worth.

So I'm now sitting at home on unpaid vacation (I hope: my boss has not replied yet) and considering my options. I may have to rush and buy a new car blindly within a couple days at most, because each day I can't get to work is a day I'm not getting paid.

Between that and the great time I had at the convention, I may be headed for some serious PCD, but you know what? At least I was lucky the car broke before I left for EF, even mere hours before. Because it wouldn't have survived the trip, and I would have found myself stranded somewhere in Europe, who knows how many kilometers from home, not to mention the convention center.

Now I'll see to the car issue, and then I'll post highlights of EF, because it was my best con to date and that's what I want to remember of this time.

EuroFurence, oh yeah.

"So I'm off to EF. See you guys!"

The above sentence was what I was planning to post. Short, simple, to the point. Instead, here, have another episode of My Life Is Funny, Except When Not.

The plan was simple. A coupla hours of driving up to Brussels, an evening with unblue and kefen, a train to EF. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, here's fucking what.


I wish I was kidding. I'm not. As I was commuting home from the railroad station, all gee-happy about the upcoming, you know, vacation and convention and other words in -tion [1], a red light came up on the dashboard.

And damned if it wasn't the radiator. Yes, my old friend the radiator. The same radiator that already cost me a nosebleed and a half but a few weeks ago when I had to have it replaced altogether.

Except this time, the car also produced 1/ a sudden burst of acceleration, like when the turbo kicks in, and 2/ vast quantities of spooge-white exhaust fumes. So I'm suspecting something rather more serious, possibly having to do with the combustion. (Might it be the head gasket? I told the mechanic, "Are you sure the head gasket is fine? The engine overheated; that'll kill the head gasket." I'd looked it up on the Internet. "Eh, no, it's fine," he said. I took his word for it. In retrospect, though, my credibility might have been somewhat damaged by the blood-smeared face thing.)

So what now? I implemented last minute contingency plans based on trading currency for more f'ing train still; hopefully it'll work out. It means a more expensive trip, and a bit longer, because I'll have to go the roundabout way through Paris [2], but I SHOULD still make it on the planned schedule. Thank heavens I managed to have Tuesday off.

I'll drop off the car to the repair shop tomorrow morning (another repair shop, if at all possible), mooch a ride from jallora to the local railroad station, and I'll be off to EF, fate willing. See you guys, I hope.

[1] If you guessed 'inebriation', give yourself one point. If you guessed something else, something somewhat less mentionable, give yourself ten points. (And tell me what it was.)

[2] Fun fact: the entire transportation network in France is based on the predicate that you can only seriously want to go to Paris. Or failing that, from Paris to the Riviera. (Somehow, it doesn't work out very well at all.)

The Anecdote, unabridged.

One of the highlights of my student life was driving my first car ever.

I have good memories of that car. Good in retrospect, because the actual content of the memories is not all that awesome. The poor little thing had seen enough kilometers to go round the Earth half a dozen times over by the time I got it; it was leaking all over the place, and I could have raised fish in the perpetually rainwater-filled ceiling light. Because the battery would drain empty in the blink of an eye, every time I parked for the night I had to go under the hood and unplug it manually.

Still, it was my first car, and I took my first road trips in it. Good memories. And besides, you'll say, if you start off right away with the worst car of your life, things can only improve from there.

Right? Wrong.

My current car is a valiant thing. Though it, too, has now passed the half-a-dozen-Earths mark as of last year, it's in a much better shape, with a ridiculously sturdy turbo diesel engine, and I hope to keep it for a good while longer if I can. Still, even the bravest aging vehicle needs the odd repair now and then, and last week I had to drop it off at the local repair shop for a radiator leak. But I still required -- rather anxiously -- something to commute, so they promised they'd have a replacement car to lend me in the meanwhile.

This was, technically, not a lie.

The replacement car turned out to be the same model as my first car. The model that was already ancient a decade ago.

Suffice it to say I never managed to close the front door completely, and a bit of the dashboard fell on my knees as I drove. People in the street would give me mixed looks of horror and pity. What cosmic force held it together against all plausibility and at least three core laws of physics? I may never know. The sacrificing of goats might have been involved.

But against all odds, it served well enough for my daily bit of driving to the railroad station and back.

This is nothing to disregard. My commute is bad enough, and at this point whatever helps it not become worse is heartily welcomed.

Come yesterday. The repair shop calls: my car is ready, and they would like the replacement car back this evening because they need it by morning next day. (Which may mean either another customer in need, or goat blood refill time. Hard to tell.) Sure, sir; if all goes well with the trains I should be there by, say, 7:30pm, a bit later otherwise. Ah, sorry sir, but we close at 7pm; can you come in tomorrow morning at ass o'clock instead?

Well. Ass o'clock and I don't get along. At all. Never have.

So it's either ass o'clock, or somehow, somehow make it to the shop by 7pm in the Car That Shouldn't Be.

This is doable. You gotta be the first off the train, the first off the platform, the first out the station, the first in the parking lot, and the first out of the gates, before a train's worth of people clogs up the neighborhood for the next half hour, and you have to pray for not the slightest delay on the road, but it's doable.

Delay type number one: traffic lights.

Picture me, sitting at the wheel, sweating and steaming, tugging on my hair. Picture me -- this is important -- scratching nervously at a pimple at my forehead that'd been bothering me for a few days.

In retrospect, that's my first mistake.

About the same instant, the light goes green and the pimple goes pop.

I immediately feel something trickling from my forehead down the side of my face. Fun fact: even the slightest puncture of the head skin pisses blood like a mofo.

I don't have time to stop and scour my pockets for a hankie. I'm just entering the expressway and I have to keep careening along. The car shakes and creaks ominously.

I try to wipe at my cheek with the palm of my hand. That's my second mistake. Blood doesn't wipe. Blood smears.

Soon there's a cheap-ass horror movie peering out at me from the rear-view mirror.

I make my exit on the expressway in record time. Horrified drivers moving aside as I came tearing along, trailing blood and car parts, may have something to do with it.

And you have to realize, this is otherwise a glorious beautiful day out there, with sunlight on the fields and the beginning of a breeze. I would be whistling, except that I have perhaps five minutes to cover the last kilometers. Maybe more? Maybe less? I don't know. The car doesn't have a clock. (Or it lost it on the expressway. I may never know.)

In the end, I somehow make it just in time to offer the shop owner the vision of a disheveled and wild-eyed guy with half his face caked in blood flailing frantically and shouting "DON'T CLOSE!! DON'T CLOSE!!"

It doesn't get much better than that.