Skipping the convention
This will be the first time in 26 years that I have not attended NorWesCon (the Northwest Science Fiction Convention). Technically, the first one1 I actually attended was not NorWesCon, but was called Alternacon (the notorious NorWesCon IX2 having had so many disasters3 that the hotel canceled the next year’s contract, forcing the con into a smaller hotel, and a limited membership.
I’ve been to every one since. a couple of them I only attended for a day or a part of a day6.
Seventeen years ago at a NorWesCon I met Michael7. We didn’t see each other again until the next NorWesCon. It was a couple months after that that we started hanging out, and nine months after that before we went on our first official date. The next NorWesCon after that was the first we shared a room, and we’ve been to all of them since.
So while I think of the anniversary of our first date as our official anniversary8, he always considered NorWesCon as our anniversary9.
All of which leads to why I’m feeling a bit odd and sentimental about skipping NorWesCon this year. There are a few reasons—most of them just personal timing things, though also we haven’t really enjoyed ourselves as much as we used to the last couple of years. Certainly we both had a lot more fun at EverfreeNW last year.
Maybe we just need to take a year off.
I was shocked to realized today that the convention is this next weekend. Just a few days away10.
This also means that this is the first time in many, many years that we will be home for Easter. I should probably make some plans for that.
Of course, it is the first time that this particular anniversary has not happened while we were at a convention. Maybe we should just celebrate by ourselves…
1. I had been wanting to attend the con for a few years before that, having several friends who regularly attended. It sometimes feels as if I vicariously attended a few earlier than my first.
2. When NorWesCon IX rolled around I was attending college nearby, but I couldn’t afford to chip in on a hotel room and so forth. The con happened during Spring Break, so I was back at my Mom’s (after spending a few days with friends caravanning down; it was a strange week). When we arrived at Mom’s place, she barely let us get unloaded before she and my step-dad were loading us in the car and dragged us to a nearby Community College. They wouldn’t say why, just that it was a surprise. The Guest of Honor at NorWesCon that year was Anne McAffrey, and she had flown into Portland to visit friends before going up to Seatac for the convention. And she was doing a reading and book signing that night. So I got to see the Guest of Honor that year, in addition to hearing about all the experiences of my friends who attended the con.
3. In addition to the stories from my friends attending, and people I’ve since met who attended or were staff for that convention, I also got to hear about the con from a classmate who, at the time he was telling me about it, didn’t realize I was one of those “freaks.” He was a fundamentalist, and his wife worked in the management office at the hotel. She was also a fundamentalist, as were many of the employees there, because the Assistant Manager was a member of a very large nearby church, and had heavily recruited among the congregation for his hiring. When the Assistant Manager saw some of the costumes and pagan imagery on t-shirts and such early in the con, he had become convinced that the attendees were all Satanists (not to mention all those godless atheist science types, et cetera), and had instructed the employees who he trusted to go out of their way to document any bad incident that happened, because he was determined that those sinful freaks would never come back to their hotel.
The organizers of the convention were unaware of this. They were too busy dealing with about a thousand more attendees than their wildest dreams had expected, and they were woefully understaffed to deal with them. The physical layout of the hotel (it’s really a complex of several buildings interconnected with enclosed walkways, rather than one building), made patrolling difficult for con security4.
A bunch of bad things happened, such as damage to the rooms, people sleeping in the hallways, drunk people making a lot of noise very late at night, et cetera.
4. There are always some people attending any type of convention5 who do stupid and/or very inappropriate things. Sometimes it’s just being thoughtless. Sometimes it’s because they’re drinking. Sometimes it’s just because they are in their late teens and this is the first time they’ve been that far from parental supervision.
5. I can tell you stories from a high school journalism conference that will make your toes curl. And equally disturbing ones from a Bible conference I once attended.
6. While I was going through my divorce, a friend who had been through a few more serious breakups than I had advised that sometimes it best to let your ex “have custody” of fandom for a while, so that mutual acquaintances don’t feel awkward, if nothing else. So for at least two years I only made those brief appearances, rather than attending for the entire convention.
7. We have different recollections of where we met. I remember meeting him at a room party on the Saturday afternoon. He remembers meeting me at a specific panel on Friday morning. I remember participating in the panel, I just didn’t recall him being one of the other people there.
8. I can never remember the date of our commitment ceremony. For one thing, it was extremely informal. If you insist, I can go dig around in the filing cabinet and find our paperwork.
9. Of course, now that we’re officially married, rather than domestic partnered, I suppose our official anniversary should be December 9. Or maybe we should just celebrate all three.
10. Which means that a whole bunch of our friends will all be gone this weekend.