YA paranormal romance novelist and author of the Velvet Trilogy

Temple West | YA paranormal romance novelist and author of the Velvet Trilogy

Quarter-Century Staycation

This weekend, I splurged more than I've ever splurged before.  

It was my birthday weekend and a bit of a milestone since I hit a quarter-century.  My mom and sister insisted we celebrate in style, and after mulling over options we decided on a downtown Seattle staycation.  I actually live about an hour away from Seattle, so I don't get to see the city all that often. 

We booked a room at the Alexis Hotel, but once they heard it was my birthday, and that I was getting a book published, they gave us a huge discount and bumped us up to the Executive Suite, a corner room with a view of tree-lined downtown Seattle streets.

View from our room at the Alexis Hotel.

Swanky furniture. 

Not only that, the concierge gave us a complimentary bottle of appropriately-themed "Notebook" wine, plus a box of truffles and a hand-written birthday card.

Keith the Concierge left this for us!

We started off the morning with coffee and mimosas.  My mom teaches full time and has another part-time job and still manages to come up with ideas for the rest of the Velvet trilogy, which she knows I'm starting to write for NaNoWriMo.  I pulled out my notebook to capture her suggestions before we both forget them.

"Would you like a mimosa?" -- The Incredibles (I always think of mimosas in an automated computer voice because of that movie)

After a leisurely breakfast / impromptu-NaNo brainstorm session, it was off to massages, which are a luxury I can't normally afford, but as I said, we were splurging this weekend.  I'd gotten a total of two massages before this, both after I was involved in an 80-car-pile-up two years ago.  I hit my head and got some bruises and severe whiplash, but amazingly didn't break anything even though my car was completely totaled.  Long story short, my back has been prone to bouts of staggering pain ever since, and with the amount of time I've spent at cafes recently, sitting on un-padded hardwood chairs writing for hours at a time, my spine was ready for some relief.  I think masseuses (masseusi?) are saints in disguise.  

After that, we walked down to the Seattle waterfront which was under heavy construction from the $4 billion tunnel they're building underneath the city to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.  

On-ramp to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Blocked off for construction.

We ate lunch next to the brand-spankin' new ferris wheel where I was horrified to discover that the arcade which has lived at the end of the pier for 20 years had been replaced with a cheese-tastic tourist gift shop.  I stewed around in a rage for ten minutes until I found a flier that said the arcade was looking for a new location, so there's at least a chance I can find it again and spend a very small amount of money on a ridiculously large amount of fun.  The last time I was there, my friend Ty hit the jackpot on a hard-to-beat game and got something in the vicinity of 3,500 tickets.  It was, in a word, epic.

I love the ferris wheel, but I am legitimately upset that the arcade was replaced with a ferris wheel gift shop. 

After lunch, the Antique Mall: a.k.a. pure heaven.  Need I say more?

The sister and the mom, braving the chaos of narrow aisles, poor lighting, and the peculiar musty smell of old furniture.

The sister and the mom, braving the chaos of narrow aisles, poor lighting, and the peculiar musty smell of old furniture.

Aren't they beautiful?!  If I were to ever collect something, I think it would be typewriters. 

It was windy and freezing so we headed back to the Alexis, read books on the couch for an hour, then went down for the free wine tasting in the lobby, where the concierge recommended a Japanese restaurant down the block called Nijo Sushi. It also happened to be their tenth anniversary, and we still somehow snagged a walk-in table during their happy hour and got the most amazing cocktails I've ever had.  Don't even get me started on the food.  

Pleasantly stuffed, we walked back and I noticed a sign for an "Author's Room" on our floor, which was intriguing.  I don't know if it's a themed room, or reserved for authors, but either way it's AWESOME.

Sunday morning we used the hotel steam room (and sang Little Shop of Horrors because the tiles made our voices sound amazing), checked out in the lobby amidst a burgeoning crowd of Seahawks-jersey-clad fans, then headed over to Le Pichet for breakfast.  Our next destination was Pike Place Market where I bought a vintage pair of green leather gloves, a vintage sewing pattern, and a vintage blanket (this is a recurring theme in my life).

Coffee and tea at Le Pichet

Okay, so this isn't the actual pattern that I bought, but I'm too lazy to go upstairs and take a picture of the actual pattern.

Pike Place, in all its chaotic, colorful glory.

We had extra time our hands so we stopped off at Northgate Mall and headed our separate ways for some impulse shopping.  A sale sign at Cathy Jean caught my eye and I spotted two pairs of boots marked down from $115 to $36 each. It was my birthday.  I bought both.

Then it was on to the Crest Theater, a second-run theater built in 1949, and one of my favorite places on this insanely beautiful planet.  We got large popcorns, large drinks, and $4 tickets to see The 100-Foot Journey, a delightful film about food, which made us all very hungry.  Earlier, we'd decided to be crazy and watch two movies back-to-back, so we zipped out to Peking House down the street for a quick dinner, where I got a fortuitous fortune cookie.

Thank you, fortune cookie.

Then it was back to Crest for refills on lemonade and This Is Where I Leave You, which I snort-laughed my way through. I love movies. The accessibility and proliferation of novels and films are two of the greatest joys of modern life. That, and reliable plumbing.

Unfortunately, by the end of the day I was all congested and had a sore throat, which has carried on through to today, so I have gotten no actual work done on Velvet: Book 2 (I really need to come up with a title).  I'm thinking of committing today to sweatpants, tea, and reading The Truth About Fiction on the couch.  Tomorrow, I will tackle the infamous NanoWriMo Word Count. And world domination. Never forget the world domination.

Which strangely reminds me of one of my favorite childhood cartoons, Pinky & the Brain.  

"Gee, Brain. What are we going to do tonight?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky.  Try to take over the world."

All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.  Feel a bit guilty for not writing more, but I've been so burnt out that I think a little break was in order.  And I don't mean burnt out in the sense that I no longer like writing, or Velvet, I mean...well, have you ever stared at a word or said it out loud so many times it stops sounding like a real word, or it disassociates from its definition? That's kind of where I'm at with Velvet.  I've been staring at it so much that it doesn't even register in my brain anymore.  Hence well-timed staycation.

To my mom and my sister, thank you for the best birthday ever.  To all you other NaNo-ers out there, congratulations for committing to this incredible task.  To the long haul!