Unless I want to spend the next two hours on this blog entry, there's no doing the last two days justice. And I can't spend that much time on a blog entry fifteen people will read, so...this is the Reader's Digest condensed version. By the way, at the moment, it's 30˚F here, with the windchill at 22˚F. The sky is hungry. You know what I mean.
A bad windstorm began on Tuesday afternoon, and at 4:35 p.m., just as I hit "send" on an important email to my editor at Dark Horse, the electricity went off. The wind was blowing like the wendigo's own breath. I don't know the exact speeds, because we didn't have access to the internet or even a transistor radio, but I believe the forecast for the night included gusts to ~50mph. Kathryn and I spent the night huddled in the cabin, trying not to freeze, wearing all our clothing at once. We couldn't build a fire, because the wind was pushing its way down the chimney. Trees were bending, branches snapping, and the stars were dazzlingly bright in the indigo crystal sky. We played Scrabble by candlelight (I won by 40 points). Being in the cabin, it was like what I'd imagine being in the hold of a wooden sailing ship in a storm. The creaking, the moaning, the way the whole building shuddered. The wind is as good as the sea. A couple of times, things fell in the kitchen. We finally retreated to bed about 2 a.m., and I was asleep almost immediately. I slept an amazing 9 hours, despite the howling wind and the ominous sounds from the darkness. We awoke to another inch of so of snow, that, to my knowledge, had not been forecast.
About two hours after we woke, just before we were getting ready to leave for Manhattan, the power came on again. But instead of hanging around and getting warm, we climbed in the van and headed across the Hudson and south to Rhinecliff, where we caught the Empire Service to the City. We spent two hours racing by the frozen Hudson. We passed Pollepel Island at 3:50 p.m., and that's the closest I'd ever been to it. If you've read "Estate" or "The Last Child of Lir" or "Salammbô," then you understand the significance. It was past almost before I could register what I was seeing, and then the massive granite bulk of Storm King loomed up, swallowing the western horizon.
There's not much else to say about the trip down. We almost froze to death outside Penn Station. We caught a cab to the Strand and had half an hour to look at 18 miles of books, and you know how that goes. The reading went well. "Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)" was a hit. I got to see J. Daniel Stone and Nicola Astles (Nicola played Imp in the book trailer for The Drowning Girl). I read for twenty minutes, signed a bunch of books, then we dashed back to Penn Station. Oh, I won a copy of Darin Bradley's novel Chimpanzee in the Blade Runner trivia contest, because no one else there knew that the film takes place in 2019. What the fuck, people? The walk to the taxi after the reading wasn't so bad, because, at last the hellish winds had died, and it was only cold. I can take a lot of cold if there's not wind. Run the trip in reverse, and we were home sometime after 1 a.m. All I'd eaten all day was a bowl of lukewarm grits (breakfast), two Reese cups (lunch), and a nibble off a nasty-ass peanut-butter flavored soy protein bar (dinner). I was going to eat my animal crackers on the ride home, but forgot they were in my bag. And there was still electricity, thank fuck. We ate canned ravioli and went the fuck to bed.
It was great meeting John Kwok, another veteran of the paleo fields, turned fiction writer. What an odd lot we are! The really cool moment was realizing that we both read at the North American Paleontological IV in Boulder, CO, August 1986! I moderated a session (with Dr. July Massare) on marine reptiles that year, and I was Stephen Jay Gould's gopher.
This was my fourth time to read at KGB. The first was May 2001. The second was, I think, November 2008. The third was October 2013. I have no idea how many years it will be until the fifth time.
I did want to break something down, for people who wonder why I don't do more readings near them. Yesterday's travel (cab + train; I'm not counting gas for the van) cost me $207. KGB gives readers a $25 honorarium. Subtract $25 from $207 for $182. I read for twenty minutes. So, the sober truth of the matter is that I essentially paid $9.10 a minute to read to less than fifty people. So, there you go. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy it. I did. But it's obviously not the sort of extravagance I can indulge in very often.
Congratulations to Neil and Amanda, because now the whole world knows the news.
I have photographs from yesterday:
I awoke yesterday morning to find that the thermostat had given up.
Rhinecliff has a beautiful Mission-Spanish Revival-style train station (ca 1914), but pretty much all the photos I took of it yesterday afternoon (oh, and our train was an hour late) are crap. This is, sadly, the best.
View to the northwest from the train station's parking lot. The frozen Hudson River, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge (ca. 1957), and the Catskill Escarpment, including Overlook Mountain from whence I am typing this.
The river a few yards from the train platform.
Looking west from the station out at the platform and the river.
Kathryn and her green scarf.
The tinted glass of train windows presents a marvelous, sepia world.
The clouds just north of Manhattan...
If you're one of the twelve people who've read Cherry Bomb, you know what's inside this tall red building across from KGB. If not, whatever.
The red doors of KGB Bar, where once Ukrainian Communists loyal to the Soviet Union ate golubsti and danced and toasted Marx, Lenin, Engels, and those other guys.
I read off the iPad, just like my last KGB reading, because my eyes are now too lousy to read printed pages in dark bars.
All photographs Copyright © 2015 by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Kathryn A. Pollnac
And now I gotta go.