I just got back from The Chicago Book Expo, a gathering of independent Chicago-area presses held in the building in Uptown that once was a Border Bookstore, an irony not lost on the many participants. (So few items now in that space would have been carried by the big box bookstore.) I wish I'd planned and plotted better to take advantage of all the opportunities: workshops and readings and panels, but I just walked in off the street. After running into some people I knew, I did a bit of the walk around and look at tables and talk to people thing. I was able to feel chipper and conversational about twice before my usual shyness took over, but at least I bought a sturdy handful of books and journals, my own small economic stimulus package for small press publishing. Once I had decided I could not make small talk with another person, because let's face it, I'd done it four or five times in the space of a half hour period and was really at my limit, plus I was getting sweaty from social anxiety and too much clothing on in the warmish space, I exited into the dim November afternoon, thinking that I should use the artistic vibe I'd been breathing and sit and write something. The closest coffee shop was a Starbucks, and the nearest independent coffee shop was full-up, so I walked home, for a much more wallet-friendly cup of tea. Kate Bush's new album playing on the internets courtesy of NPR, and the biography of Van Gogh I am reading calling me to sit on the couch and spend some more time in that life of sorrow and delusion and brilliance.