Friday, August 22, 2008

The Really Long Worldcon Post

I'm sitting at the Denver airport right now, using their free wi-fi, while I wait for my red-eye flight to board. Apparently, we *may* be slightly delayed, but one never knows. For those keeping track at home, it's 1:22 am EDT, August 11th, according to my happy little Macbook.

I think that I'll try to break this post into days, so that it's a little more manageable to write about.


My plane left Newark on time, which was a minor miracle. Newark is regularly one of the most delayed airports in the country, so getting a chance to leave on time is just like "Wow!". It was a decent flight; I watched the silly rom-com "Made of Honor", knitted some, and read TRULY by Mary Balogh. All was well until we started to approach Denver and discovered that we couldn't land because of thunderstorms. We circled. We circled some more. And then some more.

And then our tiny little 737 ran out of fuel and we got diverted to Colorado Springs. [My flight is now boarding and it's 1:26 am EDT right now. This post will be continued when I get home to NJ and have slept for most of Monday.]

[Ok, I started this on August 11th, but obviously, didn't get it finished. It's now August 22nd at 8:34 am in the morning. Let's see how much I remember.]

So anyway, our tiny little 737 ran out of fuel, and to Colorado Springs we went. My first impression of the state of Colorado is that it's very brown. Very, very brown. And as we landed, we were going through giant thunderheads of clouds, which didn't add to the impression very much. =) We landed, amongst what must have been almost a hundred other diverted planes, and couldn't even get to a gate. (Have I mentioned that George Mann of Solaris was on my flight too? I wonder what he thought of all of this, as I didnt' get to see him except really at Newark waiting to take off.)

And since we couldn't get a gate, we sat on the tarmac for close to two hours, after they had refueled us. We had several false starts, where we thought that we were going to take off, but then the pilot shut the engines down, and apologized that we would get to sit further in a hot plane for the sake of fuel economy. It was delightful. I dozed a bit and read KUSHIEL'S SCION by Jacqueline Carey a bit, and pretty much zoned out. Finally, we were able to take off, for the extensively long seventeen minute flight to Denver, where we landed.

Upon landing, I found my friend, Holly McDowell (prominently featured in the Worldcon photo set), at the airport. She had been good enough to wait for me for the approximately three hours we were late, and after retrieving my luggage, we set off to find her car. That was an adventure in itself. Why Holly's car, you ask? Because I purposely played this past Worldcon low-key, and Holly lives in the suburbs of Denver, and I barely get to spend any time in person with her--so I was staying at Holly's house. Complete with three cats (Onion, Little Kiddie, and Smeep), one old dog (Sunspot), and one husband (Larry).

Back to the car adventure though.... at this point, it was getting close to midnight or so, mountain time, and we couldn't locate the car. Oh, we knew where it was--the elusive 2N parking row. But apparently the Denver airport parking lot designer is a sadistic bastard at heart. There's an east parking garage and a west parking garage, neither of which is indicated by the letters that define the parking rows. In fact, they use the same lettering and numbering system in both garages, except they GO IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. What's even better, is that in each garage, you can enter and go rows 2A through 2M and then you cannot, for the life of you, find row 2N. On top of that, they've decided to number the parking lot levels with different symbols because obviously you'll remember your floor symbol and know which garage you're supposed to be on. So the east parking garage is animals and has a bear, fish, bird, and deer level (not neceesarily in that order); the west parking garage is western symbols and has a cowboy boot, spurs, a cowboy hat, and I think a wagon wheel. None of this is very useful for locating your car.

In fact, this is so not useful for finding your car, that at each of the entrances to the parking garage, the doors that lead you into it, there is a phone. And above this phone is a very nice sign that says, "Trouble locating where you parked? Call 4650 for Vehicle Assistance!" Trust me, we called. Multiple times. And we still had to walk in circles for a solid 40 minutes until we could find poor Holly's car. And for an out-of-shape literary agent who is used to sea level altitude, walking around Denver for 40 minutes upon landing.... oy! =)

But wait, my adventures are not over, oh no. Because we finally got to Holly's house, after stopping at McDonald's and Sonic to pick up sustenance for me (this was close to 1 am at this point--3 am my time), and then I got the grand tour of the house. Now Holly and her husband have a beautiful house, very Spanish-style, with a beautiful staircase that curves gently in the middle. I like it very, very much. So I got to meet all the pets and Holly's husband, and finally got to eat my food. Their house is lovely, the pets are...cute and temperamental in their own ways.. and it was the perfect end to a perfect travel day. =)


I was supposed to have breakfast with an editor this morning, but because of my long-delayed flight and the fact that I didn't get to sleep until 2:30am or so, I canceled. The editor and I then spent the rest of the convention playing phone tag with each other, and utterly failing to have a meal together. And so it goes.

At this point, let me discuss my dislikes of how this Worldcon was set up. The Convention Center was huge, spread out, and a wee bit difficult to navigate. That didn't bother me, quite as much, although it entailed lots of walking. But what made it worse was that the hotels, including the party hotel, were all several blocks apart from each other. There was a lot of walking to do, A LOT, and I was so dehydrated for most of the con that I was drinking water like a fish. Plus, the 5000 ft. jump in altitude (where I live is 220 ft. above sea level or so) was not kind to my feet, which promptly swelled to the size of platters. So, lots of walking + spread out hotels + hard to find things=lots and lots of people who I wanted to see and just couldn't. That was the very disappointing part of the convention.

Back to Thursday. I slept for most of the day, as I was exhausted. Then, Holly and I hung out for awhile, before taking the bus into Denver to catch up with a bunch of her writing friends. (Holly writes too! She's good! I used to represent her, before we became too good friends for that to continue. It was a tragic divorce, btw. We cried; we sobbed; we were laughing five minutes later and babbling like we usually do. =) So we went into Denver, I got my registration badge, and talked to some people in the convention center itself. Then, we all trooped off to dinner, in a big group of like ten or twelve people, including my super-sekrit client. (In the pictures I posted, btw, but can you guess which one it is?)

Dinner was great fun, and afterwards, we all went off to the Sheraton, which was the party hotel. We got pieces of cake at the Worldcon birthday event (I'm not sure why they were holding a birthday event, personally), but that's where the stupid hat pictures come from. Then, we hit the party floors, braving the elevator tower of purgatory to get to the 22nd floor. And then back down to the SFWA suite, where I was able to get Holly in, and the rest of our group who are members took everyone else in as guests. They are sweet little dragon gate-masters at the SFWA suite, but it was by far the nicest place to chill during the con, at least at the Sheraton.

Holly and I hung out at the SFWA suite for awhile, where I somehow got talked into promising to knit Jeremy Lassen a "jaunty" scarf to go with his zoot suit convention looks. I've sort of got a pattern picked out, but it won't be happening for awhile because I have a knitting queue. =) Afterwards, we caught the bus home, and went to sleep.


Holly and I had good intentions of attending the Codex breakfast, which was being held at the ungodly hour of 8 am. Except we slept through it, finally woke up at 9:30 am, ate breakfast, and then looked at each other across the breakfast table and decided to go back to sleep. It was so nice being able to be lazy and rest during the convention, like that. I was so glad that I had purposely decided not to do programming; to me, the best part of Worldcon is the parties and the networking, and I really liked being able to do both without having to worry about where I needed to show up next. If I get to Worldcon 2009 in Montreal (there's a slight problem that my brother might be getting married then), I'll definitely do programming then, or at least apply to be on it.

We drove into Denver on Friday afternoon, so we could stay late at the parties (the buses stop running around 1 am). I went to catch up with John Joseph Adams, who was having a lunch for his SEEDS OF CHANGE anthology contributors, where I ate delicious egg rolls, and got to listen to the (thankfully-healthy!) and always delightful Jay Lake babble about publishing business. I was "dressed-up" all nice, because I was set to meet my client, David J. Williams for a fancy dinner afterwards, and therein I discovered an unfortunate truth of Denver. It just hated my feet. I got about two blocks wearing the nice shoes (ballet flats! ballet flats with a wide width, for pete's sake!) before my feet got cut up from the shoes because they had swelled too much.

So after the lunch, I hobbled back to the hotel lobby where Holly was hanging out with a bunch of Blue Heaven people, and she kindly fetched me my sneakers from the car. The hotel staff gave me multiple band-aids to use upon my battered feet, and I was set to go for the rest of the day. Wearing a red lacy shirt, black skirt, and New Balance shoes. Fashion picture, right?

[Ok, breakfast is now ready, so short break-time for food now, on August 22nd, 9:16am EDT.]

[Back from breakfast, etc--it's now 10:05 am EDT]

Anyway, I took my fashionable self, sneakers and all, and went off to my one and only dealer's room visit of the con. I had resolved to buy no books--and I walked off with ten of them. =) But to my credit, they were all used books for $2 apiece, and I was lured into getting them by finding an almost-complete set of the Chronicles of Narnia that were around when I was a child. The ones with the PROPER numbering. It's a royal shame that they renumbered them, in my opinion.

I also got the chance to finally meet Sandra Taylor, a fellow Codex member, who looks way too young to be the mom of four kids. Her husband is Howard Taylor, of Schlock Mercenary, and I really enjoyed getting the chance to talk to both of them before I had to run off to dinner.

And dinner... wow. Well first off, you have to understand that Holly made reservations for us (myself Holly, and Dave Williams) at Maggiano's, which is this restaurant of endless Italian food. VERY, VERY GOOD ITALIAN FOOD. So we met up at about 6 pm, and we literally stuffed ourselves to the gills with Italian food for two and a half hours, before Dave had to run off to a Clarion cake-cutting ceremony. It was delicious; there are no other superlatives to describe how good the food was. I think I might have needed to be rolled out the door. =) Plus, Dave is a great conversationalist; he and Holly hit it off, and the three of us had a grand old time while stuffing ourselves full of pasta and other yummy things.

After dinner, Holly and I totally hit the party circuit all night. We went to the SFWA suite to help celebrate the Clarion cake-cutting ceremony, and then stayed for the Asimov's party. Afterwards, we hopped up to the Tor party, which is usually one of the highlights of the con. Except that it was in a room which smelled... for some unknown reason... it just smelled. To the point where you couldn't stay in there for more than five minutes. To quote Howard Taylor, who was with us at that point, "it smelled like somebody had murdered broccoli". A very, very apt description. And that was the end of the Tor party for us.

After that, we went back to the SFWA suite for awhile, before going down to the Weird Tales party. It was also a joint party celebrating the release of John Joseph Adams' anthology, SEEDS OF CHANGE, so I got to see all the contributors again, plus some people I hadn't seen at all during the con, like the fabulous Carrie Vaughn. (I am such a fan of the Kitty books.)

If my memory serves me right, we made our way up the tower of purgatory to the Pyr party at one point, where I learned that David Louis Edeleman is going to have twins in November! Or rather, his wife is, but soon he'll have one little boy and one little girl to take care of. Go Dave! =) Also, the Pyr party had fabulous Brazilian cocktails, celebrating BRASYL--they were SO good. I have to get my hands on some of that Brazilian rum, sometime, just so I can make Chris taste how good they were.

We finished the day up at the Hyatt Regency bar, where we mostly talked very sleepily, and then finally drove home. And that was the end of Friday.


This was Hugos day. My one goal was to get to the Hugos ceremony, and I did accomplish that. I was so tired by Saturday though that I gave Holly my convention badge (she didn't have one of her own), and she went to the con and was me for most of Saturday. People did actually come up to her and were like, "You're not Jenny". Actually, she's my thinner, blonder twin. =)

Holly had driven into Denver earlier in the day, so I was going to take the bus in to meet her before the Hugos ceremony. Which I did, except with a few obstacles along the way. You see, I talk a lot and sometimes I get distracted while speaking. And so while I was babbling away at Holly's husband, as we walked out to his Jeep so he could drive me to the bus, I managed to sprain my ankle. I have extreme talent.

Basically, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going, so I completely missed the step down from Holly's house into her garage, and all of a sudden, I was on the garage floor. Yay, for fun accidents. It was still walkable on, which is why I went into Denver on the bus, but by the time I arrived downtown, I knew I needed to get an Ace bandage for it. (Grade I sprain, for all those interested; yes, I can self-diagnose my ankle sprains.)

After acquiring the Ace bandage, Advil, water, and Chex Mix at a Walgreen's, Holly and I made our way to the convention center where they were holding the Hugos. Along the way, we met up with Benjamin Rosenbaum (who is now one of my new favorite people to hang out with--why does he have to live in Switzerland?) and his Australian friend, Liz. I promptly opened the Chex Mix, spilling most of it all over myself, but there was enough left in the bag to introduce Liz to it. Chex Mix doesn't exist in Australia, apparently. The horror. =)

The four of us were joined by Kelly Swails, one of our writer friends, and we trooped to the very fancy theater that they held the Hugos in. Ben Rosenbaum introduced us all to Hugo golf, which we all very seriously played. I won, btw, with a score of 31. We couldn't figure out what the winner got, although we came to the conclusion that a Hugo nomination for the winner of Hugo golf would be an appropriate prize. =)

Afterwards, we repaired to the Hyatt Regency bar, where we stayed for like three hours, having the most fascinating discussion of religion and writing and everything under the sun. There were lots of people there, and much happy socializing was done. After the bar closed (and kicked us out!), a large group of us went in a procession down 15th street to this 24 hour European cafe. Ellen Klages serenaded us all during the walk, which is one of those Worldcon memories that are just wonderfully precious. Holly and I hung out there for awhile, until she was sober enough to drive safely at night (I can't drive at all at night, even though I was far more sober). I think we eventually got home at 4 am in the morning, but after having a fabulous time.

I love Worldcon because I get to see people and socialize and it's like pure candy to me. =) My one regret is that I didn't get to see more of the people that I wanted to see.


I slept. And hung out with Holly at her house. And then took a red-eye back to NJ. Which takes us full circle, and hence, the end of the Worldcon post. Hope you enjoyed it all. =)

I'll note that I didn't attend a single panel or reading, the entire time I was there, and I had a freaking great time, nonetheless. Next year (brother's wedding, notwithstanding), I'm bringing Chris with me to Montreal, and we're going to be all good and go to panels, etc. See you all there!


Anonymous said...

Sounds crazy busy. But I feel for you with the feet thing. I live in Salt Lake (almost as high an altitude) and I'm used to it, but my feet still swell in the summer and it's miserable.

Joe Iriarte said...

Dang. That's just about the worst airplane story I've heard. I would have just about died. I'm a big (read: "wide") guy, and I really can't stand crowded places. I also struggle on airplanes because I punctured my eardrum as a teenager and it never healed right, so in artificially pressurized situations like planes my ear actively hurts. I already hate flying, and the idea of spending extra time cooped up in an airplane seat, while the plane is parked and it's hot no less . . . ugh!

Anonymous said...

Oh Joe, if you ever want more horrible airplane stories, just come talk to me in Montreal (grin). Landing in the middle of a Category 3 hurricane, barely missing getting stranded in Detroit during the first snowstorm of the season (changed flights due to mechanical problems, then a plane got stuck behind our plane, then the de-icing station ran out of de-icer, then the plane ran out of fuel....we got into Hartford 8 hours after we were supposed to arrive), and then our particular wonderful time getting out of Denver after Worldcon...

Ah well, that's the joy of flying.

Jenny, the feet thing explains why my usually comfortable shoes were ripping my feet up. My major disappointment was that despite conditioning due to spending the five days before the con hiking all over high elevation mountains, and then all the walking I did at the con, I didn't seem to gain anything in weight loss OR conditioning. Sigh.

Sorry we only saw each other in passing. But I think you did the smart thing in hanging out with a friend. Several other friends of mine did that as well. It was a rather dispersed con, but I still managed to talk to a lot of fun folks, some of whom I'd only met on line.

Joe Iriarte said...

Joyce, let me know when you're flying, so I can stay on the ground. ;)

We got stuck on the tarmac leaving Denver too, but "only" for about an hour. Ugh.

We tried to get around the hiking for the first few days of WorldCon by taking cabs, just because we knew we'd be making quite a few trips. After a couple of days, though, we got tired of the rude treatment by cabbies who apparently considered it a waste of their time to take a five dollar fare, and we started hoofing it like everyone else.