Aug 11, 2006


I photographed many options for booktour mascots, and in the end, my Albert Einstein action figure proved to be the most photogenic.

Here he is, cursing even a momentary jaunt through Indiana. Chill, Al, I know some nice folks from Indiana. Really.

But, he calmed down quite a bit once we crossed into Michigan. Did you know what around Holland, Michigan there is a Felch Street? I kid you not. Not only does it exist, but it crosses a major street, and, therefore, is announced by a big green sign. Left to West Felch Street it reads. (I collect these neo-vintage postcards.)

We drove and drove and eventually arrived in the woods and headed to Camp Trans, just beyond the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival gates.

It was a smaller group over at Camp Trans, and I arrived when one of many impromptu caucuses was in-progress. I was asked to introduce myself and if I wanted to I could add how I identified-- straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, bi-dyke, genderqueer, genderfuck, m-to-f, f-to-m, female pronouns, male pronouns, gender-neutral pronouns, either set of pronouns, etc. I like that it was optional, just because labels make me nervous. I use some (see top of blog, for example) but try to limit my use of titles just because it causes a great deal of (a) nosiness and (b) assumptions. So, I didn't say. Later, during a workshop I attended, we had to again go around and announce which pronouns we each preferred, which didn't bother me much in the context, and because I was already being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

The workshop was such silly good fun, and involved a lot of chatting and socializing, which helps me out, because when I'm around people I don't know, I tend to default to being quiet. Everyone was so friendly and open and worked in shifts to make CT very community-oriented and nearly utopian-feeling, I thought, which is right up my alley. Sure, it probably would have been easier to have a conference in a major city, yeah. But, something about the far-from-anything woods, the bonfire, the camping, well, it felt very back-to-basics and refreshing to just have the ability to sit and talk to people, all kinds of people, without urban distraction or white noise. Everything just was. And, it was fantasic. I met a few Canadians and begged them to smuggle me back to Canada with them. No luck. Oh, Canada, land of French-speaking people, using the metric system and enjoying national healthcare! (I later had a wonderful conversation with a charming Canadian about how amazed she was to see so many private healthcare sales ads on the way to CT. "It's like healthcare is for sale here!" So it goes.)

So, after dinner, I read, (the section explaining rain and the section about Helen seeing an ex in the airport) and felt like I had a good and enthusiastic crowd. I got some laughs during the reading, got a few nods, hearty applause afterwards, a brief Q&A session that morphed into a community meeting, then I retreated to my little card table to sell some books, give out stickers and flyers and postcards some supporters sent along and add friendly faces to my mailing list. I enjoyed chatting and signing books best of all and made a few friends from various places that I hope to see again at future readings. After that, I did another short reading and interview for the CT podcast and audio documentary, which sounds like a very cool project that I'll blog-update here when I know more later.

The biggest news of all is that I attended CT on a record day. A transgendered woman was permitted to enter the Michigan Womyn's festival for a few hours that day, which is a serous milestone. Camp Trans, you see, exists because in 1991, a transgendered woman was ejected from the festival after organizers learned she was trans. They've stood by their "womyn-born womyn only" policy all these years, so allowing a transgendered woman to come into the festival was (rightfully so) a big deal.

Then, to make it to the next stop the following day (a radio interview), I drove as far as I could that night, which, let me tell you, in a thunderstorm at 11pm, isn't too far. Actually, I got some good distance, stopping at several hotels and motels before finding this one. (Note: At EconoLodges, "continental breakfast" translates into wonderbread, a toaster, squeeze Parkay, "Fruit-based Loop-O's" and papertowels folded to look like napkins. Just fyi.)

And didn't let the lack of ability to spell "welcome" stop me from a good night's sleep. I woke up with the news on and the phone ringing around 5am, totally disoriented and feeling a panic hearing something about PanAm flight 103, the London subway attacks last summer and Orange Alert. I figured out the situation with the thwarted clear gel terrorism and listened in amazement to the local anchor's heavy Midwestern accent.

Who knows who called? I didn't answer.

The rest of the day was uneventful and I spent last night mostly in downtime. This morning, again the phone rings, this time with a report that bringing my book through airport security aroused a lot of suspicion and explosivity testing. Pssh, you put a little blood on a bookcover and TSA thinks you're up to no good. Whatever.


Diane said...

Oh Albert, I am sorry Indiana caused you such angst.

Okay, I suppose Leah suggestion deserves to win because he is both posable and has hilarious hair!

Glad you had a good trip & made it back in one piece!

Anonymous said...

I cum everytime I read your blog. And by "cum" I mean "laugh".