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The Happiest Place In Anaheim

The long weekend in Southern California was pleasant and exhausting. We drove down on Thursday, spending about 7 hours in the car (with a couple of breaks). The kid was surprisingly tolerant of being strapped in a chair in a metal box on wheels for so long. We listened to podcasts and music and did a lot of singing. His favorite song is “Still Alive” (from the end credits of the great game Portal), and though I have two versions of the song, he only likes the one sung by the evil AI GLadOS, not the one sung by the actual songwriter, Jonathan Coulton. (As my son says: “I like the mommy one, not the daddy one.” Hilarious! On a related note, all men’s rooms are “Daddy bathrooms” and women’s rooms are “Mommy bathrooms.”) We got to our hotel in Anaheim and checked in and then braved the frigid afternoon for a swim in the pool. (Yes, the weather was cold, but: heated pool. And we could hardly deny the boy a chance to go swimming after he’d been so good on the long car ride.)

We rose early on Friday and headed straight for Disneyland, where for the next 12 hours our son was more or less constantly enraptured. Our friend Jenn joined us for the day, which was awesome. We had amazing line karma — I don’t think we waited more than 20 minutes to ride anything, and usually it was only 10 or 15 minutes. The kid loved everything we did, and nothing scared him — he loved Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion, and even the hellscape in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. (He was, however, so utterly terrified of the Pinocchio ride that he wouldn’t even go beyond the entryway. Who can explain the mind of a three-year-old?) We rode boats, and climbed into treehouses, and ate ice cream, and listened to music, and generally soaked it all in. By the end of the night, our boy caused a sing-a-long in line at the Dumbo ride by singing “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.” (Which is quite adorable.)

Saturday was, if not so long a day, an equally full one. We drove down to Irvine to have breakfast with our friend Greg before my panel. Really wonderful eggs benedict, even better conversation, and overall a fine meal that was sadly ruined a bit when my kid puked all over me at the table. (He didn’t throw up again after that, and we’re not sure what caused it, as he seemed fine otherwise.) Once I got cleaned up, I walked over to the student center where Literary Orange was taking place, and immediately ran into Gail Carriger (who I’ve met once or twice before) and Eytan Kollin (who I hadn’t). We were whisked to the green room, where I eyed the array of pastries avariciously, but didn’t seize any, as I’d just been thoroughly breakfasted. The panel (with Eytan and his brother Dani, and Kay Kenyon, moderated by Michael Bricker) went pretty well, ranging across myriad subjects related to SF and publishing. I didn’t fall off the stage or inadvertently curse at anyone, so I consider it a success.

Then I signed a few books before slipping away to have lunch with my wife and kid and our friend Anne (who is also the producer working on bringing my Marla Mason novels to screens big and small). We hit a wonderful Vietnamese sandwich shop, where we all ate vast quantities of food for small quantities of money. No puke this time. Things were definitely looking up.

After we said goodbye to Anne, we drove over to Newport Beach and enjoyed the relatively warm weather, letting our kid play in the sand and splash for a long time. He made friends with a little girl about his age, and much racing and romping and chasing was had. After the beach we walked to a nearby playground and let him run himself around unto exhaustion. From there, back to the hotel, and more swimming, and a big meal of ordered-in Thai food, and collapse unto exhaustion.

Sunday we drove home. And really did very little else. A wonderful little working vacation, I must say, but re-entry into real life is going to be a bit bumpy…

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