Yesterday, ESR made its seventh appearance at Word on the Street, Canada's largest literary fair. After intermittent rain for the previous several days, the weather held up, even though the temperature was a little cool. WOTS is perhaps a lot like Christmas Day: you spend weeks preparing for it, and the day passes so quickly, that in the following morning, it feels like it never happened. I never get over that sensation of the calm after the storm, which begins immediately at the close of the fair, when the park is near empty, and most of the tents are already undergoing destruction-- one would never get the impression that less than an hour earlier, there was so much life on these streets.
Happily, this was probably the most stress-free WOTS attendance yet, despite that we premiered two new releases this year. It always seemed that in previous years, things always came down to the wire, whereas the night before (or sometimes even the morning of...) I'd be scrambling to take care of things. But this time, the issues were already ready in the box before the weekend began, and I was able to spend quality time with Susan on Saturday night instead of the usual scurrying around before Sunday's big adventure. And now that that big adventure had passed, dear reader, I am about to fulfill a promise to somehow get my life back to basics. This year flew by as I had spent a couple months largely inactive due to sciatic injury, then renovations, then a heatwave which pretty much killed my ambition to work on the projects I do after the full-time job (no, sadly, ESR is NOT my premiere employment). But in the meantime, in preparation for the new issue, I had de-discovered something easily forgotten: the simple act of JOY I get with sitting down and transferring my thoughts to paper (well, its electronic equivalent). Thus, as the fall (my favourite time of year) unfolds, I hope to regain that creative sense, as I clean up a lot of psychological clutter, and get back to a more simple kind of livelihood that had easily been neglected due to the running around in circles over the past year.
Sunday began on a humourous note, as for weeks I had cursed the fates that the latest edition of Dion's all-night "Shock and Awe" review was scheduled for the night before, and obviously I couldn't attend in order to stock up on blue light specials. In fact, when we arrived at WOTS, they were probably beginning to show Ghoulies. However, it was great to see a couple of regular customers drop by, AFTER seeing Shock and Awe, and picking up the new issues before going home to bed. It was also great to finally meet in person some "virtual" friends: Aaron Keele, whose CD release Present Idiolect I have enjoyed for many years (in fact, the final tune "Retribution Song" plays on my iPod almost daily), and Paul Corupe (webmaster of Canuxploitation), who was there with his wife and one-year-old son. Plus, for me, WOTS just isn't WOTS with doing the customary stops at Cineaction's table and the Musicworks buck bin.
Yet, as the hours wore on and the sales got slower, I became more melancholy, as the day ended not with a bang but a whimper. On the drive home, however, I came around as the stereo played, guess, "Retribution Song", and the lyrics perhaps spoke to me in a way I hadn't previously heard:
"How can I move forward
The song is just reward"
Then, instead of the quiet mourn of dusk, I was reminded of the promise of a new day, with the feeling I always get upon driving into the festival for the first time in the morning, seeing "The Eclectic Screening Room" tent sign slowly dollying into view, and reminding myself again, "Wow- I did this." Again, in "Retribution Song":
"I give thanks for everything I had
Not in measures of first and last."
One of the most valuable times of the entire trade show experience is the morning after. As I quietly tiptoe around the house, make coffee and look at the pink sky of dawn, I am finally given time to reflect upon how many lives this project has touched. Even if what I do enriches just one person's life for a moment, well, that's all we can ask for, isn't it? I'm one lucky son of a gun.