Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Around the Boyhood House of Goethe

We moved through the rest of the museum, which included furniture, some really exquisite paintings, and pieces donated from various collections. Unfortunately my fetish for art required that sometimes I wanted  to get close enough to see the fingerprints in  the paint, which apparently truly frustrated the Fräuleins in charge of the museum, as several times the intercom came on to remind us not to get too close. After the third time I started to wonder if it was just me, as I thought I was behaving. Time was moving fast, though, so we walked out of the museum and over toward the house proper.

We went on from there to check out the house, which was in a word: awesome. The garden alone was worth the price of admission, and I really wanted to go up and sit on one of Goethe’s benches, but I was almost positive I would get yelled out. The trees were lush and beautiful. There was ivy growing on the walls and just above the tallest wall in the garden you could see the modern skyline of Frankfurt peaking out over the quiet sitting area where you could just imagine Goethe conjuring his ideas that would eventually become Mephistopheles.

The Engineer took me into the house and helped me to walk up and down the stairs, as at this point I was finding it very hard to navigate steps. My ankle was very much giving out, and it was only getting worse with the greater amount of time spent on my feet. As we were in the house the time was fast counting down and we found that we only had about fifteen minutes to move through. So up we moved, past beautiful antique kitchens, ovens, metal stoves, sitting desks, dining sets, libraries, portraits, and upright pianos in the most fascinating way. The house was exquisite; the sort of place I could imagine living: beautiful, antique, and inspiring. The time was too short, but we managed to climb up to around the fourth floor before the bells finally rang us down and we decided it was time to head outward into Frankfurt and off to something else.

“If you think your feet will make it to the river, I have some ideas for dinner.”

“All right; that should be fine. I’m pretty easy.”

And so after grabbing my bags we walked off into the streets of Frankfurt in search of food.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Goethe and Money

Since most of my time in Frankfurt I was working from pretty much dawn to dusk I had been reading through my little tour book feverishly, trying to decide exactly what I wanted to do. I knew that I would really only have one day, and that day was Saturday. After thinking and thinking I decided that the only thing that was appropriate for a person who had studied at Shimer College was to go to the childhood home of Goethe. Goethe, of course, is best known for Faust, an amazing writer, and one that I have always been fond of, so it just seemed like the perfect thing to do.

Before meeting the Engineer, I mentioned that this was in fact the thing that I wanted most to do, and he assured me that he would be happy to oblige. After walking for twenty or so minutes through downtown he pulled out his phone, consulted the map, and made sure we were on the proper way. We made it to the Goethe museum at around 4:00 p.m., which gave us just enough time to take it in. At the museum/house of Goethe there was a special display about money and also the house tour. The Engineer assured me it would be worth the small expense for both, and since this was my big tourist thing, I agreed.

Mephistopheles's promise to Faust was that he could make money out of thin air, and indeed, the convention of paper money was a convention that Goethe predicted would be necessary in order to successfully bring the country into the monetary age. He had been the finance minster for Germany during the latter part of his life, and a concern for keeping accurate accounts and records was always foremost. One of the pieces in the exhibit was an account-record book that was easily twelve inches thick and about two feet across. The money bit was fascinating, but some of the things that fascinated me even more were Goethe’s actions as a writer.

Copyright law being what it was back then, Goethe had very little protection as an author for the works and the money his works were making. Because of this, he began to work almost immediately on securing the rights for his works. In short, during his life he never gave up the copyright on anything he published. He would sell short-term rights to publishing houses, but they would always expire so he could maintain the rights. Along with this, he spent a great deal of time fighting with pirates who were copying his work and selling it without paying him any money. I was fascinated by his troubles in publishing as it seemed all too familiar some two hundred years later.  I was very happy I got a chance to see it. The Engineer kindly did the job of translating everything for me, since the museum signage was mostly in German with only a few bits in English.

One of my favorite English pieces, though was the following quote:

"He had spent the handsome sum of nearly 1/2 million that he received through...inheritance, his salary....and his fees as an author. It was only on this basis that he was able to acquire all that constitutes his personality, he said."

I knew exactly how he felt.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Engineer and a More Educated Walk

The tour guide turned out to be an engineer, which was perfect since I know just enough about tech not to lose myself in a conversation. We met outside Frankfurt station, where I had a coffee as we waited. While we chatted we found that the coffee girl at the restaurant was generally unhelpful, and after making sure it was okay, we just left the tab and headed on our way.

Someone (not me) had bothered to check the weather and so was aware that there was a possibility that it might rain. However, at 3:30 (when we started walking about) it was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day. The Engineer was a polite older gent who had been living in Frankfurt for close to 20 years. He got a chance to practice his English and I got a chance to have parts of the city I had been seeing explained. It started with a quick explanation of the area straight across from the station. While it was a red light district it was much like the red light areas in Manhattan or Vegas: popular with a certain crowd and a constant annoyance to locals who wanted to close them down, but making enough money and having just enough draw to make them hard to close down. In general it was a quiet peace that probably got stirred up every couple of years, with nothing actually ever being done about it.

We walked further into downtown and he pointed out the opera house, which had been rather nicely refurbished. While walking, he also pointed out a number of Indian and Italian restaurants and explained that a lot of the eating out in Germany was actually for food that wasn't German, which may also have explained the look from the German information desk worker the other night. Apparently German food was a tourist thing and real Germans ate anything but. Which also made a lot of sense; however, I lived in Korea where you couldn't swing three cats without hitting five Korean restaurants and a coffee shop, so I figured it made a bit of sense why I thought I could find German food.

We kept walking and he pointed out how most of the skyscrapers were closed. One of the buildings was the place where I had gone and had my magical Vesper experience, and it was one of the only skyscrapers that was open to the public, or at least one of the few where the roof was open to the public, sort of like the Empire State Building. I had picked a good location for my little drink, it seemed.

After some more walking we came to the statue fountain I had seen the night before when I was horribly lost, and he admitted to having no idea what the statue represented. I recognized Artemis and Athena, so I figured it had something to do with wisdom and knowledge. It was topped with what looked like philosophers, so I hazarded a guess at what I was seeing, but it was hard to say, and we weren't headed in a direction that afforded a more close-up view, so we walked on.

A few blocks further along we came to Hauptwauche Station, which was pretty much the entrance of a nice shopping distract. It was also the location of that weekend’s Oktoberfest celebration. Of course. I was in Germany in October; I should have realized. There were a number of tents set up serving beer, sausages, more sausages, dried sausages, and cheese...in that order. I made a note of it, but it was not our final destination, so we walked on.

The crowed began to press more and my guide steered me into a building that had a nice escalator going up. We went up all the way to the top and came out at a platform that was open to the public for city viewing, which was a perfect place to point out more things in Frankfurt. One of the things was the fact that while most of the buildings looked like they had been there since the 1700’s, the reality was that much of the city had been entirely rebuilt after being destroyed in raids during the war. It had been recreated to look like it had been built in the 1700’s (to maintain the tourist ideal), but the reality was that it was not true.

To the left of my view were a number of construction cranes. “That is where the new IMF is being built. In a few years, that is where all the money will be,” the Engineer said.

In front of us was the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomeus: a great big red ancient-looking church that (according to my non-European guide named Wikipedia) was built in around 1425 or so. It was ancient-looking and awesome and I noted it for a potential return visit the next day. There was a lot of skyline and a lot to see, but as the daylight was burning we decided to press onward to the Goethe Museum, which was the renovated childhood home of Johann Goethe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cosplay Saturday

Sadly, the pain did not go away. The day before my feet were so sore I completed a stretching mat aerobic routine for my workout, but today my leg really hurt, and my ankle was throbbing; all of which were signs that something was not so good. The silver lining was that it was Saturday, which meant the BizP was leaving around three for his flight home, giving me my first open evening of the book fair, which I was looking forward to. The other silver lining was that Saturday was hobbit cosplay day.

One of the things I discovered with my magic app was that the bookfair was having a hobbit cosplay event to celebrate the upcoming Hobbit movie. I was gonna be all over that like a Korean on kimchi. I mentioned it to the BizP (who was also a Hobbit fan), but the day sort of went sideways. With the magic app I was able to pull up some more targets for the BizP to mingle with, so he sent me off to go and take pictures of the hobbits while he worked the last of the floor for as much time as he could. I went off in search of the hobbits, but did not find them.

What I did discover, however, was that Saturday was not just hobbit cosplay day, it was COSPLAY DAY EXTRAORDINAIRE. There was so much cosplay that it was easy to lose a hobbit in there. It was magical sexy cosplay day, so while I did not get pictures of hobbits I did get as many pictures as I could of sexy cosplay. I have to admit the crowds went all out, and the cosplay was really well done. Great costumes, lots of teams and themes going on; it was really fun to watch. Then I had an emergency text sending me into hall three (again) to “get any large bag you can grab” and meet the BizP back over at the IBP stand. Hall three was the place where most of the public events were taking place that day, so it was the last place on earth that I wanted to be, but I got in, and after about a half hour managed to get a bag and head back to hall eight for the final wrap up.

Books and things were collected, goodbyes were said, and I was informed that I would be working on Sunday (after I had arranged to be free on Sunday for some personal touring of Germany). This annoyed me, but I took heart in knowing that on Saturday night I had a date and no curfew. I figured I could deal with coming back to the fair one last time, even if I didn’t want to.

My date for the evening was a rather friendly German chap who I had met through a social networking site when I was looking for someone to be a guide in Germany. I had expected more people to respond, but he was the only one who chatted me up and offered to show me around. Turns out we were both busy people and the only night we mutually had free was Saturday night. This worked out well and the plan was to meet at Frankfurt station around three and go from there.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pain, Pain, Go Away

That night I had no plans for what I was going to do in the city, which in hindsight was foolish, as I ended up really lost in Frankfurt. I started walking and managed to walk much further than the first night, stumbling upon a very pretty square with a very pretty statue fountain in it. I went to take pictures of the fountain and then ended up going down a different street than the one I was originally heading for. I really had trouble getting the names of things to work with my brain, so after two more turns I was quite thoroughly lost.

I managed to stumble around the old opera house, which I got a picture of, but in reality what I wanted was food. Somehow my feet took me back to the nice place I had been the night before, but they were closed for a private party. I kept walking and looking and actually started to get pretty desperate until I finally stumbled on a place that was open, which at that point was my only requirement.

During the endless death march my leg started to hurt. My ankle was already shot and I had basically been bracing it since day one, but now my leg was twitching and burning in the upper thigh muscle, which was making me limp more than I wanted. There was a lot of pain, and the funny walking was starting to have an effect on my right leg as well. I was hoping that a night of sleep would sort the legs out, so after having some nice dinner I hopped into a cab before any more catastrophe could enter my evening.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stolen Scotch

The next day was much the same as the last. Running around all over the place, running around the book fair, running, running, meeting, handshaking, running. I learned, in my quick research, that I was there to sell distribution which is what the BizP could do, so I worked better on making connections for the BizP and sending him to booths, while also scouting what I needed for the project I was working on.

One thing I discovered (thanks to my app of magic) was that there were a number of lectures and demos, which I attended to gather information. I also learned that one of the events being held that night was a happy hour with E.L. James. I bookmarked it and finally decided after much debate that I had to go and check that out. But here was the thing: I had absolutely no respect for E.L. James. I thought that she, much like Sherry Meyer, or whatever the name of the author of Twilight is, (Stephanie Meyer, and it's sad that I know that without having to look it up. -Ed.) was a freaking hack. What was worse was James, who did absolutely no research for her book, was giving people a really distorted view of what kink meant. That and she wrote at a third-grade level and described female arousal as: “my Inner Goddess was suddenly engaged.” Seriously.

While I hated the work, I thought it would be the height of irony to go to a happy hour with her and talk to her about kink or something. So, around 4:30 I ditched the BizP to head over to the event. What happened when I got there, though, was not what I had anticipated. The "happy hour" was actually a book-signing event, and there was a line of peoplea mix of goths, industrials, housewives, and teenagers, all holding dog-eared copies of the E.L. James's books. They were waiting in line and quite seriously looking forward to having their books signed by the author. I just sort of stared at them. Which is when it hit me that it was not fun doing something to be ironic when everyone else was serious. It just pained me to watch, so I called it a loss and headed back to meet the BizP and the IbizP for a book fair nightcap.

The day ended roughly around 5:00 back at the stand for the IbizP, this time with a glass of Glenfiddich scotch. The IbizP was not around, but when he sat down he noticed that someone had started drinking without him.

“Who was drinking without me?”

“He did it!” I pointed at the BizP, which got a large approving smile from the IbizP and a double shot of scotch for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The 22nd Floor Vesper

Since the plan was being accomplished I felt less bad about having wine at the IbizP around 4, but I was antsy to get out and execute my Germany Tourist Guide plan, which included a taxieven though BizP had stated “Never take a taxi; it will cost you almost 50 dollars to go anywhere.”

Ignoring stupidity and thinking, dude I live in Chicago and will take a taxi if I fucking need to, I took the train downtown, figured out where the cab stand was, and pointed to a location in my book. What I did not anticipate was rush hour, but even at rush hour it only cost me 10 euro to get where I was going.

I’ve paid close to 30,000 won to get across Seoul on occasion. When your feet hurt, and you have had a long day and don’t know where the hell you are, spend the money on a cab every time. No matter how much you pay, it will always make up for itself in convenience.

Where did I want to go?

I hadn’t quite gotten there as I spotted a restaurant that looked interesting first, so I walked in. As the sun was going down I had a Manhattan in honor of a good old friend, and had, of course, shrimp scampi.

And olives, I had a fuck tonne of olives.

The restaurant had lovely ambiance, and I was among one of the few people there. I’m pretty sure it was also famous and on the map of places to eat in Frankfurt, but having stumbled on it rather at random, I just enjoyed myself and the good food. Unfortunately, I failed to make a note of the name.

Afterward I went to my actual destination: the 22nd Floor Lounge located in the Eurotour, which was described by my guidebook as, “a good place to enjoy your cocktails while enjoying a sweeping view of the sparkling Frankfurt city.” That one, yes.

The most amusing part of my 22nd-floor experience was the elevator. Rather than punch a button and wait, you typed the floor into a keypad and then were informed of where the elevator would land. This freaked me out to no end, but I managed it and got up to the bar without too much fuss. The bar was quiet and sparsely populated and I managed a window seat in the corner overlooking all of Frankfurt. I looked over the menu and decided on the one thing that had the most appeal: the Vesper.

Okay, so part of me was thinking it was a little cliché to order a drink from a James Bond movie, but the rest of me had always wanted to have a Vesper Martini and see what it tasted like. Casino Royale, you have to admit, was a kick-ass Bond film, and it made me want a drink almost as much as watching an episode of Mad Men, which you practically couldn't watch without drinking, and I wanted to try this newfangled martini.

The Vesper, I will tell you was parts vodka, gin, and Lillet Blanc (a dry vermouth). It was served (at least at the 22nd Floor Lounge) with a skewered orange slice in a martini glass that had been chilled with ice. The drink was shaken, not stirred and poured over the skewered fruit. And, in a sentence, it was the single most delicious thing I had ever put in mouth to drink and I almost never wanted to drink anything ever again; it was that good. It was awesome enough that I had a second one before calling it a night and heading back to the apartel, well before curfew.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Plan of Attack

Day two was much like day one with a few minor differences. First, after working out and showering (because apparently I didn't count walking for almost 12 hours as enough exercise) I downloaded the Frankfurt book fair app, did research on what a trade show was and how to work it, and marked places in my tour guide. In other words, I had a MOTHERFUCKING PLAN!

When I have a plan I am scary. As with goals, I have shit to accomplish and accomplish shit I did.

I realized after day one that my BizP’s plan of “Just go look for shit” was not going to fly. Thanks to the app I could sort by hall and keyword and target the fuck out of what I wanted. Not only that but I got a map (which I had desperately wanted) of the book fair and was able to understand the color-coding system. If I wanted to go visit someone, I typed their name into the app and found those motherfuckers so I could fucking visit the fuck out of them. With the app I owned the book fair. I dominated that bitch so hard that by the middle of day two, the BizP was text messaging me asking for stall numbers and directions, and I delivered hardcore.

In less than 12 hours I had completely reversed the uncoordinated attack of the previous day and the BizP was impressed, which was important, because the previous day he had not been impressed with my performance and was questioning the value of flying me out. The reality was, that in less than 24 hours I knew more about the book fair than the BizP had ever known in four trips, and not only was the BizP impressed, but so was the wife.

“Why didn’t we know this? Sara is first time and she already know more than I ever knew!”

I had redeemed myself. Plan accomplished.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

When You Don't Have What You Need, Ask!

Here I was, in Germany, at 9 o'clock, discovering that downtown Germany just outside the train station was red light district central, and having the parting words of wisdom from my BizP rolling through my head.

“Be really careful about your bag outside of the fair. It’s pickpocket central out there.”

Now, it was 9 p.m. I was fed, paranoid as hell, and standing in the middle of the red light district, a short walk from the train station. I decide to call it a night and head back to the apartment, but not before stopping by the train station bottle shop to see about the wines. As I looked, the nice German clerk who had been watching me for a moment came up and started talking to me in German. I just smiled and said, “I’m looking for something in a red, Chilean or Australian.” Without missing a beat he switched to English and showed me an insanely reasonably priced Baron von Roschild cab, which I politely smiled about and explained, “I don’t have an opener.”

“It’s no problem. We open it for you here, okay?”

Thus began my deep-seated love affair with Germany. A country where they didn't judge you for not having a wine opener, they just opened the bottle and asked if you need nuts or chocolate. They didn't care if you need to have champagne with breakfast, or two glasses of wine to get the day started, they were pretty laid back about the whole drinking thing. Whatever you wanted: can we open that for you?

Germany, I love you.

I smiled and took my nice bottle of Baron and caught the train back to the apartel, where the BizP was happy to see me and still working on email. Since I was sleeping in what was basically the living room, I poured myself a glass, chatted a bit and tried to stay up to balance myself out, while ignoring the fact that I essentially had an expected curfew (which I don’t do well with). I managed to stay up until 10:30which was not late enough to say good morning to the Irishbefore passing out, asleep, day one complete.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

For the Love of All Things German Food

Attendance at the book fair afforded some certain perks, one of which was a train pass for the entire five days I was in Germany. Actually it was a full public transport pass, good for the train and any busses that I might want to take. The apartel we were staying in was about four stops from Messe, where the fair was, and downtown to the Hobenhoff was about two more stops. With my magical train pass I could go downtown, get some dinner, and then head back to the apartel by myself later. At around six I left the fair, and it took about twenty minutes to get downtown mostly because I was scared of the first train (which would have gotten me where I was going) and opted for the second instead.

I got to downtown Frankfurt, half-crocked on wine, with a realization that I had NO FUCKING IDEA what I was doing. This was really unusual for me, as usually when I traveled for business I took some time to look up three or four things to do in the location so I could do those things during my free time and not spend every single waking minute working. This had worked well for me when I went to Shanghai, but sadly, I’d not had a single minute to look into Frankfurt before landing, so I had no plan.

It was now time to make a plan.

The plan was to find an information booth where I could get a tourist map or something. Welcome to Germany. It took me a few minutes to find a booth, and when I did I discovered that there was no such thing as a tourist map for free. However, the lovely girl behind the counter was able to offer me a few options. One was a plain subway map for about two euro, although for four euro I could get a tourist guide that recommended places. Just the look of it reminded me of the Sherpa guide I used in Shanghai to find interesting places to eat and then explore, so I opted for the second. Then I asked if she could point out someplace to eat dinner.

“What do you want to eat?”

“German food?”

“What kind of German food?”

“Well, I don’t eat beef or pork, but I like chicken and seafood.”

She looked at me.

She continued to look at me.

Then she blinked.

“You are going to have a problem. Most German food is beef or pork. Mostly pork. Germans like pork.”

So, yeah. I was not just in a country of meat lovers, I was in a country that had found new and innovative ways to put meat in everything.

She pointed me toward downtown and said I should walk for about fifteen minutes to come to some more traditional German places. I started walking, and by 7, when I was still walking down the dark streets of Frankfurt, I realized I was tired, hungry, and sobering up fast. I started walking and made it about five minutes before I broke down in front of the first restaurant that looked interesting.

It was a Mexican place.

I had shrimp scampi.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trade Show and Tequila

As per the conversation with the BizP my job was to walk and observe. Starting with aisle A, I did just that. I walked.

And I walked.

And I walked.

And I walked.

I tried to take it all in: the massive press of bodies and people, the networking going on left and right and front and behind, the crush of bodies,  and over all of it the overwhelming numbers of books upon books upon books. I learned that some books were only dummies, some where real, and some were for sale. The BizP imparted a nugget of wisdom at the last minute before we parted ways.

“This is a trade show. Nothing is for sale, so don’t try to buy anything.”

My reaction could have been better. I didn’t know the first thing about what a trade show was, not to mention how exactly to work effectively at a trade show; however, what I knew at that moment was walk, look, and collect catalogs, which was exactly what I did for the next four hours.

I met the BizP for lunch and gave a breakdown of what I had accomplished. I felt pretty unsuccessful; I had seen a lot of books, but between the flight and the less than three hours of sleep I didn’t feel like I was being very successful. It was decided to leave hall eight  and hit hall three, where all the children’s stuff was, since my real reason for being there was to get materials for a new part of our business venture.

So we went to hall three. Which was a lot like hall eight. Except bigger.

Much, much bigger.

After two hours of walking in hall three, combined with four hours of walking in hall, I was about ready to call it, so we went back to the BizP’s IbizP’s booth. There we sat and were entertained by a Sir who asked for, almost as soon as I sat down, a bottle of tequila. It was then that I noticed the very well-stocked bar that lived in the corner of the IbizP’s booth. It had everything, all of it top shelf and ready to be served. At four I received my first shot of tequila, and feeling that I should be polite and accommodating I did not say no to the second, or the third, and I realized as I got five in that it was really time I should stop.

“I don’t want to have too much,” I said to the IbizP as he poured another round.

“Not so much, these are very small glasses.”

What can you say to that except but to smile and have another? Tequila turned to whisky and eventually to Chivas, which was apparently the bottle of choice. (There were at least two bottles of Chivas for every night at the book fair.) It wasn’t just our booth drinking either. Basically at four o'clock the book fair turned into a bar and everyone was having happy hour. It paid not to drink alone.

While boozing was good, I was getting antsy. I had been in Germany for almost 24 hours and had so far seen a Korean restaurant, a gas station, and the convention center, which was basically McCormick place on steroids. I was ready for more adventure, although I was also really drunk and had sore feet. With all that going on, I decided it was time to press onward and upward, get out and explore Frankfurt a little bit.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thousands of Miles of Books

I really hadn’t done enough to familiarize myself with the bookfair, and really nothing…nothing could have prepared me: 9 halls of books, every country on the planet represented, wave after wave of country, and language and dialect, and this was what I was getting into. Easily two miles of nothing but bookfair. After spending almost all nine hours on my feet I was getting cranky and tired and wanting to do anything but bookfair.

I had 8,000 miles of bookfair to deal with before anything else could happen.

Can you imagine being bored with books? You would have to be so totally overwhelmed by them that books themselves seemed almost entirely incidental. Such was the effect of the bookfair. So many books, so much book, there was simply nothing but book and I was immersed in it.

It was at the same time the singlemost erotic book experience I have ever had and the most exhausting. And all of this was only the beginning. There was walking and looking. I didn’t really have a plan for the first day, which, on reflection, was not a smart idea. The plan was basically to walk. It started in Hall Eight. To help you, the aisles in Hall Eight were each lettered so you would know where in Hall Eight you were by looking up and to the left or right. A giant sign with a  red letter would help you know which aisle you were in. After that you had stalls with numbers, so you could follow the numbers to where you needed to be.

To give you an idea of how big this thing was, in Hall Eight was in the 900 block of the bookfair. Stalls were numbered from 900 to 999 in each aisle. (For example: 8.0 J918.) Each aisle basically went up to somewhere in the high digits if not actually getting to 99; it just depended on how big the booths were for different vendors. Hall Eight also had letters A through Z. That was how big Hall Eight was. My job for day one...was Hall Eight.

“So, what do you want me to do today?” I asked the BizP.

“Well, you know, wander up and down look at everything.”

“Okay, where should I start?”

“From the beginning. Walk the whole hall.”

It was 9:00 a.m. and we were packed into this thing with about a billion other people. The line at the bottom of the escalator to get into Hall  Eight was bottlenecked so much that people could basically stand on top of each other and go to sleep and you didn’t have to fear falling. The reason for the bottleneck was the security check, as apparently every bag had to be hand searched.

“What are they looking for?”

“Bombs, guns, that sort of thing.”

“Really; at a book fair?”

The BizP just shrugged, but I supposed that any measure that would keep us from getting blown to hell was good. I got really comfortable with the security guys and they got really cozy and would always smile and mock when I went through. Probably because my bag had leftover condoms from some night or other where I had put them in and forgotten to take them out. My bag was probably the most thrilling one they got to check at the bookfair since the rest were full of, well, books and brochures mostly.

The BizP dragged me down to where he would be doing business with his Indian BizP, a gargantuan and well-decorated man who sat and monitored his kingdom. He took an instant liking to me and was sweet to me throughout the entire fair...when I had time to see him. His booth was well staffed with polite, smiling, hard-working Indians, and my BizP plus wife. They were there to sell, and sell they would. I was there to scout and scout I would. So would start the deathmarch of a thousand days. At least, that is what it felt like by the end of it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

So, There is This Little Bookfair Happening?

While I had looked up the bookfair, downloaded an app for the bookfair, generally tried to acclimate myself for the bookfair, nothing…nothing could have prepared me for the book fair. Nine halls of books, every country on the planet represented, wave after wave of country, and language and dialect, and this is what I was getting into. Easily two miles of nothing but bookfair. And after spending almost all of those nine hours on my feet I was getting cranky and tired and wanting to do anything but book fair.

One my first meetings was with the IBizP. The IBizP was an oft-talked about BizP of the BizP and so I knew that meeting would be an imperative. In perhaps a drunken moment the evening before, I anticipated that the IBizP would most likely want to hang out with me, as I have that effect on people, but the BizP shrugged it off. Understandable really; the BizP has never been a Puerto Rican woman, and I have. Also, my ass is fantastic (this will not come as news to those of you who really know me). So, upon being told we’d need to meet the IBizP, I expressed my reservations. These were not in vain. Fortunately I had 8,000 miles of bookfair to deal with before anything else could happen.

Can you imagine being bored with books? You would have to be so totally overwhelmed by them that books themselves seemed  almost entirely incidental. Such was the effect of the bookfair. So many books, so much book, there was simply nothing but book and I was immersed in it.

It was at the same time the singlemost erotic book experience I have ever had and the most exhausting. And all of this, was only the beginning.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Traveling To and Frauline

I met the BizP after getting off a very long flight for my first time in Europe. It’s funny; being in Europe felt in some ways like being in America except everyone spoke the wrong language. Which was sort of how I felt about traveling to Japan, oddly.

I got off a thirteen-hour flight and was instructed to look for the person holding a card with my name, and possibly the name of one other party. I did so, and in the end had to look twice because they were holding a sign with my first name and middle name, not my last name, which was damned confusing. However, it made perfect sense in the end.

The nice German who greeted me grabbed my bag and took me outside as quickly as he possibly could. Once outside, he stood there and looked at me.

And waited.

I looked at him.

“Do you need anything?” he asked.

“Not really. Some coffee maybe would be nice.”

“Okay, we can go to the restaurant. Unless you need to go to the apartment. We can go to the apartment and drop your bags and then go to the restaurant. Unless you need to shower. What do you need to do?”

I thought about it. In the end I wasn't really sure.

“I’m fine to just go to the restaurant.”

“Okay.” He paused a moment. “It’s just, the Koreans; they usually like to go straight outside. After the flight they really need a cigarette.”

“No; I’m just fine.”

We got in the car and I put in my bags and grabbed a seat in the front. The landscape reminded me of New Jersey, which was a compliment (and if you don’t realize that you have never driven through the really nice parts of Jersey). We drove mostly in silence except for the music which was, of course, Don Henley.

He dropped me off at the apartment, taking my bag and walking briskly, which meant a jogging Saradevil as he was a good 6’3 . I managed to catch up, get introduced to the key system, and get into the room. I would sleep in, (essentially the living room). It was fine. I changed, because I was meeting people at the restaurant, and then hopped back out the door in under four minutes.

We drove a short distance down the road and the location and walk back were explained. I tried to note landmarks in the darkening day but failed, being totally tired from my thirteen-hour flight, and mostly unready to spend an entire day working when I felt like I’d spent an entire day traveling.

When I got to the restaurant, it was (as I should have suspected) Korean. The BizP met me there with the wife, and we had some dinner before going back to the apartment for sleeping and preparing for the book fair.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the Ground at the Bookfair in Germany

Imagine the biggest bookstore you have ever been to. Multiply that by about 400 and add a few hundred for good measure. That will give you an idea of just how big the Frankfurt Bookfair is. It spanned eleven different buildings, had its own shuttle buses between halls, and was attended by something like a hundred thousand people. It was a mover-and-shaker thing.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing there.

The problem was twofold: first, I really needed to be looking for things for the work project that I was working on, but what kept happening was I kept finding books that I would generally want to be reading. Like the 3d holographic scan that turned your iPad into a live-action sex book. (Why had this not been invented sooner?) They were using the same technology for education books, but who cares? You could scan a barcode on any literotica you chose to buy and watch a video of it happening? I liked my imagination, but I had to admit this had merit.

Then there was the Nick Cave biopic.

And the Bowie one.

OH MY GOD I found an entire FLOOR dedicated to comics and anime.

Why was I working?

Also, I discovered on Saturday there would be 12 hours of hobbit cosplay. And on Friday? 12 hours of steampunk.

All I could think to myself was “work is hard.”

Which was true.