Just a warning, up front. The formatting with all the pictures and captions is all messed up, so I hid most of the post so it doesn’t take up so much room on the home page. So, click below to read more!
Beware, people! This one is LONG…
If you missed Part One of my GRL Recap, here it is. We left the last post just as GRL proper was about to get underway. Thursday started off with registration, prowling around the swag room, and meeting authors and friends and generally wandering around connecting with people. I spent the morning saying hi to all sorts of people that I’d looked forward to talking to. Chris dragged me to meet Edmond Manning, a really awesome guy (and author!) that I’ve talked to online. I was so eager to meet him. You know when you meet someone that you sorta know but not REALLY well and they surpass all of your expectations? That happened the previous night with Jay (Part One!) and happened again with Edmond. He was really a hit over the weekend. That man could make me laugh endlessly (and did — I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of him as a demented clown by now, if not check back tomorrow on Part 3!).
That afternoon I went with all my buddies to listen to two hours of readings. Ally Blue, Ethan Day, Amy Lane, Jet Mykles, and more read from various works. Those were the highlights for me, though there were several others I enjoyed (sorry if I missed you!). I was mightily impressed with Jet Mykles reading. She had the audience laughing from some rather Freudian slips that were classic and she really held the crowd.***
That afternoon I drove with Stephanie (Snowtulip****), Laura and Sadonna to Nob Hill where we walked around and saw some really awesome boutiques before a truly scrumptious dinner at an Italian restaurant that I can’t believe I forgot the name of. It, honestly, is one of the best meals I’ve ever had — stick to your ribs good. Of course, after the night of drinking before and knowing that we had another one ahead of us (Gentleman’s Juke Joint anyone?) we decided to fortify ourselves and that heaping plate of lasagna worked almost too well.
So, next came the banquet, and the beginning of my wine intake *sigh*. The banquet was really pretty great. I’d already had an awesome dinner and we were a bit late, but we made it in time for speeches, where Ethan made us laugh (of course!), Damon captivated everyone’s attention (of course!), and Laura Baumbach made everyone teary (I’m not going to say of course this time). Laura’s speech was really quite touching and put the weekend into a framework that everyone could understand and appreciate. Talking about how far we’ve come, how we’re really a big family (it’s true!) and how when she started writing something like this couldn’t have happened. It also made me realize how difficult putting these things together can be and how lucky we were to have such an accommodating resort (The Hard Rock really rocked it, ya’ll). At the banquet I also go to say hi to some peeps I’d been looking for all day. I got to talk to the lovely Eric Arvin, whom I adore and I think is a genius with a pen in his hand. I had been so looking forward to saying hi to him, and was lucky that we got to talk a bit more later. I also got to see Chris again (not since the day before) and see one of my favorite ladies in the whole world, Clare London. She always makes me laugh and I really missed her since New Orleans. That one is a gem, guys.
The party flowed almost immediately into the Gentleman’s Juke Joint, and I think it won’t surprise anyone that the second year in a row saw this as probably the most fun and decadent party of the weekend! (The next morning Laura and I were ready to leave, that’s how fabulous is was, but now I think the first night is perfect) I’ll be honest when I say that many of my recollections disappeared around this time But I’ll let all the pictures show as evidence. There were some lovely pretty boys dancing for everyone (Alex became a really cool guy to hang around the rest of the weekend) and even though I’d been looking for her all day, I finally saw Wave! Some of you might know that I used to review for her site — she’s the one that convinced me to start reviewing in the first place. I owe a lot to that lady and meeting her was really nice. Somehow neither of us has found a picture of us together (I know they were taken people!!!) so if you find one please send it to me… pretty please
That night was a late one, I’ll stop here except to say that Stephanie (Marketing Coordinator to Riptide Publishing) thought I was an old man and I thought she’d be a demure middle aged woman. No siree Bob. Let’s just say we now know things about each other and it’s a good thing I love her! I had no expectations in meeting her. We’ve talked online but only in the position of her job and this blog, so I never expected her to become an actual friend to to be just, so cool (and the life of the party!) I’m sure she didn’t expect it either!
I had a terrible time sleeping in New Mexico. In fact, I heard that from a lot of people. It’s a multitude of things (altitude, allergies, dry air), but it was mostly the latter for me. I hadn’t been drinking nearly enough water and trying to breathe at night just killed my nose, so I wasn’t a happy camper Friday morning No, I wasn’t hungover actually, although you’d think it if you saw me the night before. Suffice it to say, I didn’t make any of the early events that morning. Laura and I went down to have a late breakfast at the hotel restaurant (yummy waffles with cinnamon butter and fruit!) and then went along with Tina, Sadonna and others to the Comedy Hour seminar. I got to sit next to Jay (see pic!) and listen to a talk about writing comedy in m/m romance by Ethan Day, Amy Lane, ZA Maxfield and Barry Brennessel (all fav authors!). I even won in the drawing in the end where I won Amy’s awesome dragon t-shirt and paperback copies of As You Are and Tinseltown (review on that one coming soon! teaser=Ilovedit!), as well as some awesome swag by Amy Lane.
That afternoon was our jaunt to Old Town Albuquerque. I have to say, I needed some serious downtime. I mean, you’ve read what we were getting up to at night and staying up til 2 and 3am, plus this was going on the 4th day of solid activity, so much of that afternoon was a blur for me. Since we drove and wanted lunch on our own, we didn’t go to the Torquere lunch. Instead me, Chris, Tina, Sadonna, and Laura had lunch at the Church Street Cafe with Ally Blue and James Buchanan. It was a really nice lunch and very nice to get to know James and Ally better. The food was seriously fantastic (more green chile! read #2) and the weather was perfect for sitting out back on the terrace and having a nice, long, relaxing lunch. I’m sure that Ally enjoyed the downtime as well, since she was on crutches. Poor lady, I’d go crazy if I had to hobble around like that but she was seriously devoted and I couldn’t have done it.
But the afternoon did it’s job! Friday night was the night we were all looking forward to the most. For weeks we’d been planning on going to see the New Mexico Gay Men’s Choir’s Halloween Cabaret (“My Big Gay Undead Wedding!”) and we wanted to rest up before going for dinner and the show, then the events later that night at the Hard Rock. So we decided to skip the MLR Day of the Dead party in Old Town and head back to the hotel for some rest.
Dinner that night was wonderful! Me, Sadonna, Tina, Laura and Clare met Snow and her husband downtown at the Slate Street Cafe where the food was TO DIE FOR! I had the Blackened Sea Scallops with Blood Orange Glazed Carrots on Jasmine Rice and Pea Puree, but got to sample a bit of everyone’s meal and it was truly fantastic. The company was also incredible. I got to spend some more time with my fav British lady, Clare London. We got to know each other mostly in New Orleans and since, and it was truly a delight to get to spend the evening with her, even though she was soon on her way to getting sick. She really held in there when we went to the cabaret, and it was easily one the best things we decided to do. There were some other GRL peeps there, Chris came with Val and her husband and Marie Sexton was there with some other authors. The show itself was fantastic. Make sure to watch the video Laura took and uploaded to YouTube of the choir singing “Creep”. It was funny and some of the singers were truly awesome. I spent the intermission (half-gone already) talking to Val. She’s such a sweetie and it was REALLY nice to get to see her and talk to her. We bonded a bit about having sang and been in choirs ourselves in the past
The after party (“wedding reception”) bled over afterwards into the club (Effex) and the nightly influx of yummy men. It was probably the best gay club I’ve ever been to (and I lived in NYC for a while people). They had several levels including a rooftop dance floor and bar, killer DJs and really awesome bartenders, not to mention the steady influx of hot boys to ogle. The go go boy there could have taught a few of the GRL go go boys a thing or two, though Alex was very good (Gentleman’s Juke Joint!) And Laura couldn’t keep herself from grabbing his crotch over and over Dancing with everyone and just having a really good time out was so wonderful. I mean, I loved everyone at the conference, but I’m not made to spend all my time there. It is perfect for some people, don’t get me wrong. But having this outlet, the night out on the town, was so perfect and allowed those of us that wanted some other stuff to do. Something similar is definitely in the plans for next year in Atlanta.
And well… I got trashed. I won’t lie! The mixed em strong at Effex and I was drinking vodka and had many. I wasn’t too bad, but I was a bit of a mess when we got back the hotel. The Resplendence Karaoke Party was just winding down and groups were moving to the club in the hotel and to the Casino Bar. I made a bit of a fool out of myself taking a ton of the books that Resplendence was giving away for free and the LOVELY Kris Piet (who I’ll talk more about tomorrow!) was kind enough to help me walk them up to my room. Of course, I didn’t realize that about half of them were m/f books! (Don’t worry, they found homes!).
So the moral of the story is…. drinking is fun. Sure, I might have lost a few memories, but that is what cameras are for! No, but seriously. I sound like a real lush and I’m sure many m/m people who’ve seen me in both New Orleans and Albuquerque think so. But that’s why I love having a place to get together with all my friends who live around the world once a year. Even more than that, to make new ones, some of which have become incredibly good friends. That’s what I really love about GRL. I like the events and all, definitely, but it pales in comparison to the real reason that I love to come to these things. I get to connect and reconnect with online friends in a place where you can talk about rimming at the dinner table and no one cares (oh don’t worry, we did that too!). It is a safe place, where we can be ourselves. Some of us can’t or don’t talk to our families about this community we belong to. Having similarly minded friends is a lifeline, and one that I don’t take for granted. It is the reason that everyone felt affected by Laura Baumbach’s speech at the Opening Banquet — if you don’t feel like family when you get to GRL for the first time, you will when you leave.
*** You know something that you don’t think about? I always thought that Jet Mykles was pronounced like (MY-klees) but everyone else was pronouncing it like Michaels. The same thing happened during the weekend as I noticed several people correcting Mary Calmes name (not CALMES but CALM-ez). You don’t realize those things until you get everyone together and realize that very few of you have actually SPOKEN about these things. Weird.
**** Snow, Snow, Snow. So, some of you might recognize Snowtulip on GoodReads. I didn’t know her as well as a few others in my group, but we’ve read together and talked several times over the past couple of years and even before I met her in person I really respected her reviews and opinions on books. She’s a smart reader and a really great person to read with. She also lives in Albuquerque, and over the past several months she became a lifesaver and a wealth of information for all of us. We called her our Secret Weapon and she really was! Where to eat? What to see in the city? Where to shop? Where to spend an afternoon if we want to get around town? What about nightlife? Seriously, I love all of you, but one thing that bugged me about being stuck in the French Quarter in New Orleans was just that, we were stuck. I didn’t really get to see any of New Orleans, and it was a new city for me, my first time visiting. It was a bit frustrating. Having Snow made this trip, which would have been wonderful, absolutely fantastic. And when you add how great she in on top of it? I love her to death! Thank you Snow, for everything, seriously, that you did for me and for us during the trip. It was wonderful getting to meet you and get to know you better!
Come back tomorrow to hear about the last full day and saying goodbye
And my long ass drive home!