When Koji Suzuki Read My Pants

Now that the World Horror Convention is a bit behind me, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the trip. In some senses, it feels like a tremendous failure. I did not schmooze with the Super Writers* (such as Peter Straub, Paul Wilson and Kim Newman), not even the ones I’ve gotten drunk with before. I did not discuss any potential publishing deals, except perhaps a cool project semi-brewing with John Everson that would involve myself and three of my favorite female horror writers. But I did not pitch to publishers. I did not throw in with editors and agents. I gave John Pelan a kiss on the cheek, but I did not lunch, brunch or otherwise intoxicate myself with him.

It felt as though there was a thick layer of activity above me at all times, and that my far better networked friends occasionally stuck their heads down from the clouds to blow into my parasail. I loved seeing my friends, too many here to count. I introduced The Frenchman to them. They treated him far more like a family would than my “real” family did. They looked him over with a critical eye, they asked questions, they got to know him. Mostly they just enjoyed him. I would expect their more guarded reception, given he’s taking me away from them for more than a year.

I couldn’t really pinpoint where the detached feelings were coming from, or why I felt lesser of a writer, which in many instances simply isn’t the case. I was part of a terrific panel put on by the Persephone Writers, where we each took four minutes to discuss an important contemporary or historical female horror writer. The panel was a hit. The next day, I gave a reading that was well attended and well received.

And then Koji Suzuki read my pants.

I have this pair of karate-style black pants with kanji scrawled down one leg. In an incredibly lame moment of not-thinking, instead of having the famous author of The Ring to sign my copy of “Birthday,” I asked his interpreter to read my pants leg. He squinted at my leg, his bottom jaw clenched. Sounds ground under his tongue as he conferred with Koji until they announced that it might say “Ichiban Number 1,” but they weren’t sure because the kanji was so messy.

Thank god it didn’t say, “Dopey white girl who buys cheap crap in strip malls from Korean couples in West Hollywood,” which is how I felt later.

Throughout the convention, I had this faint sense that my life was about to veer ever so slightly left — enough so that, whether or not I was friends with the Super Writers or if I’d spent three days drinking with all the right editors, it wouldn’t matter a jot. That those memories would pleasantly pepper my memory of the convention, but that the events made no difference whatsoever as to what was about to happen to me…

And that’s more than a little scary.

What cusp am I on? What transition am I about to make? Where am I going in the next few months that will transport me to a life tangential to everything I know? I have major changes afoot, surely. I’ll quit my job. I’ll move first to Vermont, where I’ll learn a new-ish language, then move clear across the Atlantic to Aix en Provence. This I know. But I didn’t feel that this was the turn I was taking, as wildly sweeping as the changes will be. The turn would come from another quarter. My intuition can’t shake this loose.

I guess that’s the annoying thing about intuition: I’ll just have to see.

*Notice I speak of them as Paul speaks of the Super Apostles — James, Peter and John — in his New Testament epistles. As if anyone or their writing were that close to the divine.

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