Hey there followers, occasional visitors, fellow readers, lurkers, and accidental search-engine-result-clickers who somehow landed here after searching I don’t even know what. It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post that wasn’t directly book related. I have a little bit of news, lots to ramble about, and a tee-tiny bit of anxiety.
What’s GRL? you ask.
GRL is GayRomLit Retreat, an annual event for authors and readers of LGBT romance.
This year is the sixth GRL. Every year it’s held in a different, exotic locale — this time, Kansas City, Missouri, home of its own style of barbecue, jazz, and blues, other stuff, and over 1,100 miles from my Back Porch.
It’s my first book event ever in the history of me.
Yep, I’m leaving the sanctity of the Back Porch to commune for the fist time with quite a few of the authors whose books I’ve read and reviewed here on the blog, quite a few whose books I haven’t gotten around to yet, and quite a few who (gasp!) I’ve never heard of (shhh, don’t tell anyone). Also! Other readers!!! People, like me (maybe), who devour romance books and love them and get excited to talk about them.
I’m beside myself with excitement. Other than GoodReads, this blog, and a few folks I interact with on Twitter — I don’t really have anyone I talk books with on a regular basis. Nobody in my real life who reads as voraciously, or who reads 98% LGBT+ books. So I am super excited to meet other readers who read what I read and these authors I adore AND the ones I haven’t had the pleasure to discover.
It’s taken until today, specifically the wee hours of this morning when I couldn’t sleep, for me to start getting nervous.
See, I’m an extroverted introvert.
My mother says I’m shy. And…that’s so not the right word.
Back in the days of high school, I did a little drama, I did a lot of show choir. In my job, I’ve done a lot a lot a lot of public speaking. All that stuff? I’m cool as a cucumber. In my element. Completely comfortable, articulate, in command of myself, and entertaining (hopefully) to folks who’re stuck listening to me do what I do.
But. Direct social interaction? I’m a wallflower. I observe. I’m awkward when I first meet people. I don’t know what to say or ask in those first few minutes. I sometimes blurt random stuff or overshare. Apparently, I’ve been told, I sometimes come across as judgy or aloof when I’m not smiling. I’m really not judgy or aloof— IT’S JUST MY FACE, but I do smile a lot — or try to, anyway. Silence and quippy, inappropriate sarcasm are my go-to shields. Sometimes I latch on to people who I think get me or share some commonality and that just gets more awkward when I can’t come up with something to say and then I just come across as creepy-clingy. I don’t really know how to mingle and do small talk about the weather and what you do for fun in Anytown, USA. I’m not sure what leading questions I should/can ask even though I desperately want to get to know other people and let people into all the weirdness that is me. I don’t know how to politely excuse myself to move on with the mingling so I linger and then it gets even more awkward when conversation stalls. I have a little anxiety over being the new person, being accepted and welcomed into an existing club that has history, and inside jokes, and memories from before me. I don’t know how to break into that and prove I’m worthy of being part of the new memories. I have a tendency to flounce right into situations looking all confident, knowing in my heart I belong, but feeling like my newness is a huge disadvantage — a mountain to scale with my feet tied together and arms overloaded with books and my glasses slipping off my nose. So then I withdraw and wonder what it is I’m even doing….Why did I think this was a good idea? That *this time* would be different?
The Back Porch is so much easier with the birds, a breeze, a cocktail, my dogs, neighbors popping in for a gab. Books are just so much easier to sink into and escape the weirdness of the world. Goodreads, Twitter — I can do my quippy sarcastic comment thing from the safety of my porch and the interwebs between us and slink back to my books.
What gives me hope for GRL, what calms these fluttery nerves, is that I know in my soul that these people I’m about to meet are my people. I’ve been following the GRL blog tour and Facebook page. There’s been lots and lots of postings similar to my rambling above that say many of the same things. There will be loads of us who are socially awkward turtles poking our heads out of our safe little shells. And, we have this great big world of books in common. We have a jumping off point that binds us and gives us threads to work with as we forge new friendships. And I know I won’t be the only new person.
So. There. I’m really, really, really excited. More excited than nervous. But, still nervous.
And I don’t want to talk about that anymore because I don’t want to get myself worked up more than I already am. What will be will be — and if necessary, it’ll be at the bar sucking back cocktails.
Other GRL-Related Prep Thoughts & Things:
Before the official festivities commence, a few folks are planning an outing to a drag show. I signed up to meet a group of new-to-me GRL-ers in the hotel lobby to tag along and share a ride. ‘Cause, why not? I told my mom the plan, and she told me that the very first drag show she ever went to (in 1960-something) was in Kansas City. (!!!) While it’s by far not gonna be my first drag show, this whole experience will be a first for me in many ways…so there’s this full-circle-pin-on-the-map kind of thing that’s feeling a bit kismet.
Right. Uhhh. When I first perused the Official GRL Schedule and saw that there was not just one, but TWO, costume events my first reaction was nuh-uh, no way, nooope.
Fact: I SUCK at costumes. I submit Self-deprecating Blog Post from last October as evidence.
My gut reaction was to avoid both of these functions in their entirety. Surely I’d be able to find something else to do that wouldn’t be me hiding away in my hotel room. Then…then I gave myself a little pep-talk. I am going to GRL to meet people. I am going to be around like-minded folks I admire and want to get to know. I am going to make new friends. I will participate. I will interact. I. Will. Not. Hide.
I’ve had nearly two months to prepare my mind and my wardrobe. Yep, I’m going to BOTH events, in fully bedecked costume regalia. Admittedly, I’ve put far more effort into one of them. But both, I think, may just redeem me from a LIFETIME of failure at every single Halloween or costume party that I’ve ever in my life attempted with spectacular failure.
Costume two — I put a lot of work into it, y’all. WEEKS of doing messy crafty shit. Weeks of figuring out how to translate a vision in my head to a reality that will hold together and is unmistakable as to who I mean to portray. But both of them, at their core, (for me) need to loosely resemble something I’d normally wear so that I won’t retreat to safety behind a fake ficus. They both have to be something that won’t have me internally berating myself for my foolishness or tugging awkwardly at something ill-fitting that makes me sweat profusely from stress or overall discomfort. I am well-pleased with Costume One for Thursday night, and I am going to ROCK Costume Two at Saturday Night’s Main Costume Extravaganza.
I got most of the laundry done on Saturday, then set about the task of figuring out what clothes to take. I’m all about jeans and t-shirts and hoodies, so I’m rolling with it. I’ve got a few other dressier items in the event I wanna spruce it up for dinner or whatever, plus…at least where I live, one does not just wear jeans and a tee to a drag show. It’s simply not done. Nor does one attempt to compete with the sparkly gorgeousness of a drag queen. But, I feel good about all my choices. And, if you’re there, you’ll know me by the red cowgirl boots — at least during the day. They’re about the only shoes I wear this time of year when I have to wear shoes at all.
I’ve never thought of myself as a girly-girl. I can’t even tell you the last time I wore a skirt or dress and I pride myself on being out-the-door ready in less than thirty minutes. But, I’ve come to the startling realization that when it comes to hair, makeup, and jewelry….uh, holy fuck, I’m a priss. I just… The amount of hair product, and appliances, and makeup tubes, compacts, powders, brushes, tools, et cetera is, frankly, a bit embarrassing. Not to mention the inner debates about what earrings and necklaces and bracelets and rings I just HAVE to take with me just because they go perfectly with that.…t-shirt? It’s all taking up nearly half my suitcase. I just. I don’t even know what to say for myself.
But I’m packed and ready. And there’s still a little bit of room left to bring home swag and a few books.
A Hair-y Situation
OH NO! So, last Friday I went to a new-to-me stylist at a different salon. The cut is what I’d been attempting to describe to the last person for over a year without success. My new person NAILED it. The color…It’s a BIG HUGE radical change for me. But it didn’t exactly take all the way so I’ve gotta go back tomorrow afternoon, which is cutting it far too close to wheels-up time for my liking. So fingers crossed that the hair sitch works out.
If you’re going to be there too:
YAY! Please find me. Please say hi. I swear, underneath all the awkward, I’m really nice, and I love to laugh and have fun; and once my nerves settle I’m super laid back and relaxed. And, I might just buy you a drink.
How to spot me: In addition to my aforementioned red cowgirl boots that I’ll probably wear every day, I had two buttons made with my avatar because a picture of my face has never been associated with Goodreads, Twitter, or the blog. One will be pinned to my badge/lanyard thingy, the other on my backpack that’ll probably be with me most of the time.
I’m at nearly two thousand words. Holy shit! You still here?
One last thing!
BackPorchReader While I’m Gone.
I think I’ve got two book reviews that’ll post over the next week. Eek! I need to check on that. Otherwise, I hope to do a few blog posts of my impressions of GRL with a healthy dose of fan-girl squee over the authors I meet. There will probably be some live (drunk) tweeting. But…I know me, so I’m not going to make promises I might not be able to keep because time gets away from me when I’m having fun. If I don’t post during then I’ll definitely do a Post-GRL Post with a full and rambling recap of my experiences.
To sum up: I am SOOOOO excited and can’t wait to meet everyone who’ll be there. Also, no spoilers on my costumes — but I will upload pictures in future posts, and maybe Twitter, and maybe they’ll include my face.