This year my husband was on convention staff. I didn’t have any obligations—no fan table to run, no panels that I was on (it’s been years since I was an attending pro at NorWesCon), and I wasn’t on staff. Read More…
The burlesque show is essentially a series of strip tease acts, often with sci fi/fantasy themes. And usually most of the performers are women, so you might understand why I, as a queer man, don’t attend often.
But they are fun shows, and more about performance and comedy than sex, so I probably ought to go more often. Matt was carded at the door, which was amusing. Jared, who was not attending, happened to text me having just realized I was at NorWesCon and asked me to take pictures. So I teased him about the fact that I was about to watch a strip show where they didn’t allow photography and too bad he wasn’t with us. There was more teasing, of course.
After that I headed back to the room to collapse into bed. Michael was asleep when I got there, but a few hours later when I woke up with a painfully stuffed head because of allergies he was awake. Not voluntarily, by any means. He was feeling even less well. He took another shower, and we commiserated about our various symptoms. After letting some fresh air into the room and waiting for more meds to kick in, I was able to get back to sleep, but apparently Michael didn’t. Before going to breakfast we discussed how to proceed since he was feeling so sick, couldn’t get comfortable in the hotel bed, and the small shower stall wasn’t conducive to soaking (which would have helped his knee which is still recovering for the recent injury).
The upshot was that he headed back home on the train. I tracked him until he was home. He had planned, when he left, to do a long soak in the tub, but he said by the time he was back he just collapsed into bed and sleep the rest of the day.So he wasn’t there when a big bunch of us had dinner and Julie and Jeff teamed up to take these panaramic pictures of us.
After thoroughly confusing the wait staff multiple times with our orders and requests, I was sent off to my room to get my box of games and meet up and Juli and Keith’s room. We wound up playing four games of Give Me the Brain, none of which I won before deciding to call it a night.
Sunday morning I was a little slow getting up. I always have a hard time packing up the room on my own. It’s not just that two of us pack faster and can carry more per trip, it’s mostly that my husband is really efficient at this sort of thing, and keeps me focused. I have a number of friends who describe their distractabiliy as a super-power (to the point of at least one calling herself Distract-a-Girl!), but I think my brain is an entire horde of distract-a-minions. So even though I had a lot fewer things to pack than usual, it took me about three times as long to get everything out into the car and confirm I hadn’t left anything in the room.
Which made me a couple minutes late for the Why Representation Matters panel. But I’m glad I made it, not just because it was the third or fourth excellent panel that I got to see the fabulous Lisa Bolekaja in, but also because Paul Constant, whose book reviews I have been reading for many, many years was on it, and I finally got to hear his voice to place to the reviews. And it was an excellent panel.
I went to a lot of good panels, and really enjoyed all of them. Our last NorWesCon, a couple of years ago, had been less than fabulous for a variety of reasons, one of them being that, other than Auntie’s Seattle Opera Costume Department Trunk Show panel, none of the panels I went to felt worth my time (which is why I walked out of a couple). This year there were many hours where I had to choose between several panels that looked really interesting. I know the concom has been making efforts the last few years to shake thing up in programming, bring in some new blood, and so on. So that seems to have paid off. It also doesn’t hurt my perspective that I skipped two years. And this year I wasn’t a panelist, I wasn’t running a fan table, nor helping run someone else’s fan table, and otherwise had no obligations at all.
I didn’t even do my usual trick of stealth covering a volunteer shift or two in a department that is run by one of my friends.
I did hang out with my friends, though some of them less often than I would have liked. I introduced Keith to a new cocktail. I had buffalo wings just about every night. I got nicely squiffy at least one night. I did a pretty good job on my blood sugar all weekend. I picked up a pony plush, a set of pony key right charms, a sonic screwdriver earring, an Ash vs Evil Dead t-shirt, and birthday presents for two friends. I was given a Grumpy Cat as Dungeon Master t-shirt.
I met some cool new people, wrote down a lot of links to interesting web sites and have added a bunch of books to my “need to get this” list. Not to mention several new authors to follow.
For many, many years I would always buy our memberships for the next convention before we left. Three years ago, at the end of the con neither of us was certain we wanted to attend the next year, which is what led to us skipping in 2014 and ’15. I had a good time this year, but I had forgotten to ask Michael before he left Saturday what he thought. So Sunday morning I sent him a text (not certain whether he was awake or not). He replied about 20 minutes later that yes, we want to come back next year. So I’ve purchased our memberships for NorWesCon 40, and look forward to attending next year!
This, by the way, was the most awesome thing shown at the Movies and Previews panel Friday morning at the con:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
My plan had been to pack Wednesday night so I could load the car and leave relatively early in the morning. But I was so tired when I got home from work that I had to take a nap. I slept for several hours, woke up with a nightmare (a really nasty one, too; I was frankly surprised that I hadn’t woken my husband, since it was the sort where I often start talking loudly in my sleep). So I got up and tried to write for a bit, then went back to sleep. And had another nightmare. Then woke up to hear my husband in the shower (he’s working Thursday and Friday and isn’t joining me at the con until Friday evening). I said goodbye to him as he left for work at his usual oh-god-o-clock in the morning, fell asleep, and had yet another nightmare.
All different nightmares, none of them anything to do with anything that I can think of. The important part is that while technically I was mostly asleep for a total of about 13 hours, I didn’t really feel fully rested. So I hadn’t packed and I wasn’t at my best, mentally.
Then I had a weird problem with backing trying to back up the laptop before I left. The upshot was, I didn’t leave the house to head to the convention until almost noon. Still, I got to the con hotel while there were still parking spots available. I managed to get one very close to the wing where my room turned out to be totally by luck.
I found Kehf fairly quickly, got the room keys squared away, then went to get in line to pick up my badge and only when I got up to the cashier did I learn of the new-ish (since I haven’t been here for two years) policy about bringing your signed statement with a bar code, so I had to go get in another line to get that printed out, then get back in the original line. And I wouldn’t have been grousing when I got to the second line if I hadn’t gotten to witness a con staffer essentially yelling at another attendee for the horrible sin of having not seen the email telling them to bring the signed statement.
Having been a con staff member at several different-sized conventions, who once unloaded on a particularly bothersome attendee, I know that I live in a glass house–and therefore should not hurl stones. (In my defense, that incident happened when I came down very sick at the con, and it turned out I was running around doing my programming director job while running a 104º fever, but it still means I was less than professional while being staff, so I get it.)
Anyway, Matt and Sheryl commiserated in line with me, and invited me to meet them for some lunch when I got out of line. I think my grousing was at least as much due to a less-than perfect blood sugar situation as anything.
We ate, then went off to panels. Sheryl and I had picked the same panel at 5, while Matt and I had picked the same one at 6. One was on “Any Tool Can Be a Weapon” which was a good discussion. The other was a writing panel, specifically ways to figure out your own methods to be productive. Also a good panel.
I had accidentally said yes to two different people for dinner (I thought I was agreeing to Friday night in one). I wound up hanging in the bar with Keith, Juli sans-e, and Mark. We saw Edd and waved him over, then saw Kehf and Auntie and waved them over. I also got to visit with Julie avec-e and Mike. Amy dropped over for a bit and introduced me to “Adult Wednesday Addams” and how did I not know about this before!
After we had hung out for a while, I went back to the room intending to get some writing done, but mostly wound up catching up on social media and taking care of some of the Camp NaNoWriMo prep. Speaking of which, if you have a creative project that you would like to work on in April, you should look into Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s a little bit more low key than National Novel Writing Month. Unless you want it to be a competition. In which case, we can do that, too.
Friday was mostly about running to panels, though I did wander the dealer’s den with Mark. I picked up some cool sonic screwdriver earrings and also found birthday presents for two friends. Woo!
Most of the panels I went to during the day were writing related. I still think the most interesting new thing I learned was at the weapons panel Thursday afternoon. But I got useful and intriguing stuff at all of Friday’s panels, too.
My husband took the train from Seattle after he got off work Friday, so I feel a bit less disjointed. It is weird; we’ve only spent a few minutes alone at the con, but knowing he’s here at the hotel with me makes me feel less incomplete. It is weird being one of two introverts (who are learned extroverts) in a relationship. There’s probably several blog posts in there, now that I think about it.
The upshot is, I am really glad to be back at NorWesCon after skipping a few years. And there are still two days of awesomeness to go!
Since NorWesCon has been on Easter weekend since 1989, I have kept track of Easter by remembering when NorWesCon is going to be. I have habits built around NorWesCon. For many years, now, I spent a lot of time during the rest of the year plotting what new cocktail I will buy Keith on Saturday night at the con, because Keith almost never drinks, and it amuses all of us, including his wife, to watch him react to alcohol (and it’s tricky to find ones he will actually agree to drink more of). During the weeks leading up to the convention I start longing for the evening I’ll sit in the bar or restaurant with Juli-sans-e (not to be confused with Julie-with-an-e, who might join us with the wings, but is more likely to find ways to trick us into saying “nipple” at inappropriate times) eating plate after plate of hot wings and exchanging stories.
I could go on and on.
But, for a variety of reasons, the last few NorWesCons we attended were not much fun for either Michael or myself. And when I realized that four out of the last five we attended, I had found virtually none of the programming interesting (except for Auntie’s costuming panels). I had found it so unappealing, that I had wound up spending all of the time I wasn’t sitting in a bar or restaurant with our friends, sitting at my laptop writing.
To be fair, I got a lot of writing done each of those conventions. More than I usually get done on an ordinary weekend. But it seemed a little silly to both of us the spend all that money on a hotel room, memberships, and all of those meals at hotel restaurants, if all I was going to do was sit in a hotel room tapping away on my computer keyboard.
The one exception out of that span was the year that both Jim Butcher and Patricia McKillip were guests of honor. It’s pretty difficult for me not to enjoy hearing either of them talk about their writing.
So we skipped last year. We gave a few other local conventions we haven’t attended in a long time a try, and we enjoyed those. We would have enjoyed them more if our usual gang had been in attendance. I did miss hot wings with Juli. I really missed hanging out with the gang.
We were leaning toward coming back this year, but when we weren’t able to get certain answers we needed before the hotel room block filled up, we decided to skip again.
As it happens, another friend that I’ve been trying to get to attend finally went for the first time this year. So not only didn’t I hang out with our usual crowd and do our usual things, I didn’t get to hang out with Sheryl at the con.
I also regret missing this year because Michael Moorcock was Guest of Honor. I really like his writing, and given his age and the distance to travel to a west coast con, it’s highly unlikely I’ll get another chance to see him.
NorWesCon is almost always the same weekend as SakuraCon. My dear sweet husband was actually one of the founding SakuraCon committee members many many years ago. It’s been several years since we’ve attended it. So we had talked about the possibility of getting memberships to SakuraCon for this year, though by the time we had decided not to do NorWesCon, neither of us was feeling enthusiastic about anything. We had a couple of conversations this weekend about next year attending either SakuraCon or NorWesCon. I know we could both have fun at either. Most of our friends will be at NorWesCon, but we’ll have a few friends at SakuraCon.
A lot of people seem to be excited because George R.R. Martin is going to be the Guest of Honor at NorWesCon next year. Frankly, that makes me slightly less likely to attend. Not that I have anything against Mr Martin, it’s just that I suspect a lot of people who don’t normally attend fan-run conventions will decide to attend this one because of the television version of Game of Thrones, and the atmosphere may be more like a corporate con than a fan con. Yes, sometimes I am a fan-snob.
We need to decide soon enough that we can get the hotel rooms and everything else in order either way.
In related news, thanks to some suggestions from friends, since we were already planning to attend EverfreeNW again this summer, but we’ll stay at the hotel next door that many of us like a lot better, and since that same weekend a gaming convention, PaizoCon will be happening in that next door hotel, Michael and I now have memberships for both conventions, the same weekend. And several of our friends are doing the same. So, we’re going to be two-fisted congoers (or dual-weilding badge-holders, or something) this July.
So even though we’ve skipped NorWesCon two years in a row, I think we’re holding onto our geek/nerd/fanboy cred.
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.
This ought to be my fourth day at the con report. Except we were barely at the convention at all today. We slept in a bit. We packed out the room. We met some friends for breakfast. We walked around the dealers’ room one more time (and picked up one thing). And then we headed home.
This was my 25th NorWesCon—in a row. Obviously I enjoy going to this convention, and I enjoyed myself this year. This was one of the years where I attended almost no actual convention activities, so all of my enjoyment was due to time spent with friends also attending the convention and all the writing I got done at the con. Read More…
The third day of NorWesCon I was out and about a bit more.
I slept in, but this time nowhere near as late as Michael. I did some more writing in the room (intrigue! deception! plotting!), until the fourth or fifth time a friend texted to find out if we had done breakfast yet, which is when I decided to hop in the shower and go get lunch/breakfast. The upshot, I ate my first meal of the day at about 1pm.
Julie had planned to host a nail painting party in her room Saturday afternoon, while Auntie was doing her annual “Seattle Opera Trunk Show” later in the day. Sky and I had lunch and hung out at the restaurant talking to whoever randomly walked by for a bit. Then we walked up to Julie & Mike’s room, where Julie and a cool artist named Kat were painting their nails. Kat painted one Tardis on one nail over each of her hands. Julie did an homage to van Gogh’s Starry Night on one thumb nail.
It was awesome to watch them work, and I took way too many pictures.
Then Sky, Julie, and I headed over to the panel room where Auntie was doing her big panel. For those of you who don’t know all the background: I am a godparent, and my co-godparent is a fabulously talented artist and costume person who works for the Seattle Opera in the costume department. She does a number of costuming panels at NorWesCon every year, and one of those panels every year she brings some samples of costume pieces from the opera’s stock, along with pictures and background information on how the costumes were made, how they are used, et cetera. It’s always a very well-attended panel and a lot of fun. For me, much of the fun is seeing this person I hang out with doing other activities with getting to show off for a crowd.
I got there well before the panel stared, but still wound up in a seat off to the side. Her theme this year was wings. She brought a wide variety of costume wings, including some adorable angel wings meant for a small child. And a small child in the audience ran up and volunteered to model shortly after Auntie pointed out that none of the people helping her were small enough to fit in the harness.
Afterward I chatted with a few people at a couple of the fan tables, did another run through the dealer’s room, and then headed back to the room do to more writing.
I kept getting caught in traffic jams in the hallways, or stuck behind people who would just stop right in the frikking middle of a hallway for either no reason, or to start a conversation with someone, completely oblivious to the fact that they were blocking sometimes HUNDREDS of other people from moving at all. Good thing pocket disintegration rays don’t exist, or a lot of people would have vanished today.
Anyway, once I got to the room I put my headphones on and first listened to some very unchallenging music while I tried to get my brain back into a writing space. Then I listened to silly dance music while I wrote some good scenes. Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 have made a lot of progress today.
By this time people were pinging us about dinner, so we gathered things up and headed down. We had a table over in the side restaurant this time, rather than the middle of the super noisy bar. And our waitress seemed much more able to deal with more than one person. I had a rather larger number of cocktails and buffalo wings.
Then most of us retired back to our room, where we talked about things we’ve done, TV shows, and a lot of other weirdness. Probably more weirdness than I remember.
I did not manage to get a photo of Julie’s Mike’s creature created by hyridizing several plushies. I will try to remedy that. I also failed to get a picture of Mark’s painted fingernail. Or the cool jewelry.
On the other hand, we seem to have managed to cajole Mark into getting a twitter account. He followed several of us right away this afternoon, and his second tweet was, “I have 0 followers. I will give candy to the first of my friends who notices my account.” Julie noticed first. I was second.
I should try to finish that next scene before I go to bed.
I spent most of my second day at NorWesCon in my hotel room, writing. Sky was also here doing some drawing, and even did a livestream of some vectoring of one of his sketches.
How I wound up spending the day in the room instead out out in the con begins with parts of the first evening I didn’t cover.
I bought a few things in the dealer’s den. Then several of us snagged a booth in the bar. Sky had just texted that he was leaving Bellingham and would not be stopping for dinner, so I only ordered an appetizer and beer while we sat, chatted, and waited for Sky. After he arrived we had dinner, and then retired to the room where we played at least four games of Give Me the Brain. One went exceptionally long. Juli won twice, Mark and I each won once, and Keith never one. Juli only did the “I win! I win!” dance after her second win, however.
Every body headed back to their own rooms. Sky, Michael, and I chatted for a while. Then they both crashed. I did not feel the least bit sleepy. I had composed yesterday’s blog post, then I tried to write. I couldn’t compose a decent sentence in any of the stories I tried. I would write a sentence, hate it, delete it. Or I would write a few words into a sentence, and already see that it would just end in tears, so I deleted what I had and started over. I tried reading for a bit since, as mentioned already, I was not in the slightest bit sleepy. But I couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than a few paragraphs.
Finally, at 3:30, I shut down the computer, put the remaining light out, and crawled into bed. I lay there, in the dark, still not sleepy. After an eternity, I rolled over to check to clock. 3:32. I grumbled silently to myself, and rolled back over, trying some meditating. After another very long time, I checked the clock again. 3:35.
The last time I remember checking the clock was at 4:31, so I think I finally drifted off to sleep then. I woke up briefly sometime later to see Sky quietly getting dressed. I think I talked to him. But it is possible I just dreamed it. A bit after that I woke up again and went to the bathroom, then collapsed back into bed.
At about a quarter after nine, Julie called to see if we were up and interested in breakfast. Michael and Sky were both up doing things on their computers. I thought it might be a good idea to get moving. I think I even got up and talked about it with Sky and Michael. The phone rang again, at nearly 10 (oops), and it was Keith and Juli (not Julie, but Juli, they are different people), who were thinking about breakfast.
Eventually we got out of the room and headed down to the little breakfast restaurant. Everyone else we knew was not there, so we got a table. We hadn’t yet ordered when Darrell showed up and asked to join us. Had a nice breakfast. Then, since Michael hadn’t been in the dealer’s room, we went with him and wandered around there. While Michael checked out the art show, Sky and I chatted with Jeri Lynn and Jeff. Soon we were joined by Keith and Juli and Mark and Darrell. We had a large crowd there for a bit. Julie joined us briefly, then some people went to get food, others to panels, and we retired to the room.
The novel that I have finished, but is now in revision, had a plot problem. There are these two supporting character, both monks, who die during the course of the story. One originally died in a scene that I had removed after the first draft (because the scene was redundant both in terms of the action, and what happened with the emotional arcs of the characters involved). But because I had removed the scene, that meant that one monk had simply vanished from the story sometime between chapter 5 and 8 without any explanation. The other problem was that somehow the monk who had been elderly and thoughtful changed into the middle-aged bombastic one.
So I went through finding all references to all of the characters until I found the scene in chapter five where I seemed to have switched their names. I went through all the subsequent scenes fixing the names until I reached chapter eight. I rewrote the ambush in that chapter so that both monks appear and both die in that scene. So that’s one problem fixed. I also fixed a couple other bits so there is a better foundation laid for some things that happen later.
Having gotten all that sorted, I got back to work on the novel currently in progress. I have been stuck trying to get Chapter 8 going for a while, now. Today I finally got a scene written, and have a much better idea of the the shape of this chapter and the next. It is quite a bit clearer what needs to happen next and how all the arcs are moving toward the narrative climax. So that’s good.
Michael had gone out wandering for a bit, then decided to lay down for a nap. That sounded really good, so I did, too. Sky apparently couldn’t resist the idea, because just after I dozed off when my phone started chiming as people texted me, me was out cold in his bed, too.
Folks were trying to coordinate dinner. I didn’t feel up to playing relay, so I shared a bunch of contacts with Julie and went back to sleep until Keith called to see if we wanted to join them for dinner at a big table they had snagged.
We wound up with 12 people at a long table. Things got a bit chaotic. Some food for another table was delivered to ours, the upshot of which was that a couple people in our group wound up with two dinners. And my order was messed up, so I didn’t get my dinner until after everyone else had eaten. Kehf and Auntie joined us as some of us were having dessert (most people don’t think buffalo wings are dessert, but it’s one of my convention traditions).
Some of us retreated back to our room, theoretically to play some games, but some people had sewing, other people had other projects, and we just wound up doing a lot of chatting. Oh, and a few pony episodes were played for those what were interested.
This is not the first convention I’ve gone to where I spent much of it in my room instead of going to events. Some years all I want to do is see as much as I can. Other times I prefer to dip my toes in the convention only a little bit here and there, while doing other things. It’s one reason staffing a club table ofter works for me, since I can do all the people watching and have random conversations during much of the day, while either writing in-between that, or scanning the schedule to find interesting panels and events to go to.
I’m happy with the writing progress I made today. While it might be argued that I could have just stayed home to do this, there is something about getting out into busy places with odd juxtapositions of genres and themes and notions and people that can clear logjams in the mind.
And I think I know what happens next, so I should go write it.
We got the car packed earlier than usual and were on the road to the convention before noon. We also lucked out at checkin, even though we are early, a room very close to all the events was ready. And then we found a perfect parking spot very close to the hotel.
I should have known something big was going to go wrong.
I ran into our friends, Keith and Juli, while standing in line to pick up my badge. We had a fun conversation as the line moved quickly. I wanted to go find our club table so we could start setting up, but Juli saw a t-shirt she wanted to check out.
While we were browsing the t-shirt table, the lady selling shirts noticed my Doctor Who shirt and showed me an awesome polo shirt with an embroidered Tardis. I agreed that it was a very tempting shirt, but noted that just last week, while we were cleaning up in the bedroom, my husband had pointed out we both had way too many t-shirts and such.
A kid, about seven or eight years old, I think, standing nearby said, “What? You have a husband?”
And I said yes.
“But… but… you’re a man.”
“You’re a man… and you have a man?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You’re a man who has a husband?!?”
“You have a husband.”
I held up my left hand and pointed at my wedding band. “Yes, I have a husband.”
By this point his mother, who had been some distance away looking at another part of the t-shirt display, had made her way through the crowd to grab her son. “<name>! Don’t be rude!”
“But he’s a man who has a husband!”
“Yes, he is. That happens.”
“Come over here and stop bothering people!” And she drags him away, never making eye contact with me.
I was merely amused by this, and turned back to find Keith and Juli. I then noticed a t-shirt whose design I really liked. I decided I wanted the shirts, so I grabbed that shirt, and went back to get the polo. The saleslady says, “If you buy a third, we pay the sales tax.”
By this time I’ve noticed a few more shirts that quite tempt me, so I start looking some more (having totally succumbed to the superior jedi mind trick of the salesperson). I had narrowed my choices down to three, when suddenly I feel a tug on my shirt. I look down, and the kid is back.
“Now, let me get this straight, you’re a man and you have a husband.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Where’s your husband at?”
“He’s back in our room, unpacking.”
“Do you really have a husband?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s back in our hotel room.”
“What’s his name?”
“His name is Michael.”
“Michael? Really? But—”
And his mother appeared from out of the crowd, looking quite flustered. “I told you to stay with me and stop bothering people!” Again, without making any eye contact or otherwise acknowledging my actual existence, she grabbed him and dragged him away.
We went looking for our table. Almost all of the club tables were labeled, but none said “Tai-Pan” on them. After checking several times, we wind up in the con office, where multiple attempts are made to get the person in charge of the club tables on the line. Eventually another staff member (one I’ve known for a long time) comes to help us. He takes my cell phone number and promises to find out where our table is.
Eventually the table person calls me, and tells me that we don’t have a table because she has no record that we ever requested one. I tell her that I applied for the table and received an email confirmation a few months ago. She says no I didn’t. If I had, she would have a record of it. She not only has no record, she has no outgoing messages in her email program going to me.
I asked her which address she was looking for to see if she had any to me, since I hadn’t told her my address, and I wasn’t sure if she even knew anything but my first name, but she talked over me and said that she had nothing about us in any email. I started to describe the form I had filled out and tried to remember the date I sent it. She interrupts me to explain that they have a new process with a form, so if I didn’t fill out the form… so I interrupted her to say that I was just describing the form, and the new policies, and so on.
Michael says I remained calm and polite, but I was feeling more than a bit irritated.
She said, “Well, if you can show me the email I… um, well, I don’t know what I could do at this point, because we don’t have any tables.”
My problem is that I did all of this from the editor@taipan-etcerata account. Which is hosted on a service that doesn’t support IMAP, so I have it set up as a POP3 that downloads all the mail to my desktop computer.
My desktop at home.
I am very, very certain that I have three emails from them regarding this year’s table process. The first replying to my inquiry about when we could apply for tables, telling me that there is a new process and a form would be sent, soon. The second containing the form. The third acknowledging receipt of my completed form. However, I can’t prove that without driving back to Seattle and checking my files there. And they have pretty much said that they can’t give us a table even if I find the emails.
One of the problems with this convention is that it outgrew this hotel many years ago. If you take your car out of the parking lot once the convention gets going, you might wander for an hour or more trying to find a place to park when you get back. So I don’t see the point of the aggravation I’d have of leaving, finding a spot, only to not get a table, anyway.
I’m fairly certain that this is just a mistake. I had been pestering the club table people asking about table applications before they had announced (because usually the information is available on the web site earlier), and it was clear from the early communications I got that they were still working on the process. So maybe this is just an honest mistake.
But I keep finding myself wondering how she can be so certain there was no outgoing message to me in her Sent box when she didn’t know my email address…