I love the vaguely threatening sound of that...."The Eve of Malice." I can picture a classic noir film, probably in black and white. Starring Bogart. Good title for something. Filing it away for contemplation.
The reality is...chaos. The Malice Domestic mystery convention starts tomorrow. Most of the hats I wear throughout the year come into play at Malice. Maybe "collide head on" is a better phrase; I could use a couple of extra heads. As a Malice board member I'm supposed to show up tomorrow to help pack convention goody bags, and as author liaison, keep my eyes and ears open throughout the convention for authors with problems or questions. I'm taking my camera to pitch in with the official photo taking. As a the Sisters in Crime chapter liaison, I'll be attending the board meeting and conducting a chapter meeting. As a member of the local MWA and SinC chapters, I should see if there are any vacant time slots where I can take my turn minding our shared booth. As coordinating editor for Chesapeake Crimes anthologies, I need to make sure the contributors and Kathy Harig of Mystery Loves Company have the order forms--the anthology won't be available for Malice, alas, but we're taking orders for a special signed editions. As an author, connect with the folks from St. Martin's and Berkley and bring my PR materials for the freebie table. As a moderator, finish briefing my panelists. And since at least half my friends from mysterydom will be there, find at least a little time to hang out in the bar and catch up.
I need a clone.
Today was the last full day before Malice. I always envision a day in which I glide smoothly and efficiently through a small number of pre-Malice chores and errands, spend a leisurely evening relaxing before the whirlwind of the convention starts, and go to bed early after a hot bath and a short spell of reading. Instead....
I picked up the newer of my two Nikon digital cameras, back from factory service, then headed for National Aiport. (Have I packed the cameras? The CompactFlash cards? The battery recharger?) Patsy Asher of Remember the Alibi, was arriving to stay with me for a night before moving over to the Malice hotel. It occurred to me, as I was driving to the airport, that she hadn't actually told me what flight she was on, or even what airline. I did remember that her flight arrived at 12:04. Or was it 12:14? She realized the same thing, about the same time, but too late to do anything. Connecting took a little longer than it should have, and thank goodness my ancient cell phone managed to hold a charge long enough for us to locate each other. (Do I have time tomorrow to get that new cell phone I've been planning to get? Why didn't I do that last week? Because I was doing other things last week.)
Perhaps it was how fast we were talking that caused us to take the wrong shuttle bus--we had to sit through a tour of all the daily and hourly garages before we could return to the terminal and take the right shuttle to the economy lot. Lunch at the Peking Gourmet Inn restored our good spirits, and Patsy helped me find the feathers and other supplies I needed for costume purposes at Michael's (the craft store, not Meg's significant other--and yes, my Malice activities this year will require costumes).
We returned to Reston, and I dropped Patsy off to rest from her trip while I got a much-needed haircut and emptied my car of cardboard and newspaper at the recycling center. We'll need every square inch of space tomorrow for the trip to the hotel; in addition to Patsy's stuff and mine, Rosemary Martin is going to meet us here, so she can leave her car at my house--she goes from Malice to Annapolis with Marcia Talley for a signing at the Barnes & Noble there, and from Annapolis to Oakmont for the Mystery Lovers Bookstore Festival of the Mystery, and will then return from Oakmont with me. (Do we have enough space for everything? Should I make a trip to the hotel in the morning to drop some stuff off? Should I print the directions for Oakmont now, or wait till Sunday night?)
The extra Femmes Fatales newsletters for distribution at Malice were waiting on my doorstep. Patsy helped me wield the glue gun she recommended buying, so the last bits of my costume are ready. The books for the MWA Kids Love a Mystery collection are scattered across my trunk where they fell when the bag overturned--should I pick them up, or is the scattering a good thing? Boxed, they'd take more space. Will decide tomorrow. Most of the files I might need are transferred to the laptop. Made a start at packing. But only a small start. Still, it's approaching 2:00 a.m. Packing can wait till tomorrow. (Can I do all the things I have scheduled for tomorrow morning? Well, we'll find out tomorrow. )
This is the point at which I usually promise that next year, I will be organized. Next year, I won't be doing so many things at the last minute. Next year will be different.
Yeah, right. Next year, there will again be some very good reason why I'm not as organized as I wanted to be. Next year, I will once again spend the Eve of Malice scrambling to finish half a dozen projects. Next year, I will make more sincere but doomed vows of reformation.
Maybe between now and next year I should just work on accepting this last minute scramble as a cherished annual tradition. Okay, cherished about as much as untangling the Christmas tree lights or losing an hour of sleep one weekend in April. But while they're not fun, some of those annual rituals, they're necessary to get to the fun part--a beautiful tree, another hour of daylight for gardening, another Malice.
Time for a little pre-Malice slumber.