Invisible at Chicon 7

I had the interesting experience of being almost completely invisible at Chicon 7. This is something that I’ve gotten resigned to at local cons, but I was hoping a Midwestern con might have different dynamics. It didn’t, and in fact Chicon 7 was populated by many of the same people who attend East Coast cons, so I saw a lot of faces that were familiar to me from Readercon, Boskone, Arisia, Pi-Con, ConBust, Albacon, Anthocon and the 2009 Worldcon in Montréal, Anticipation, as well as Broad Universe. The odd thing was…with just a few exceptions (hi, Lisa, Debi, Bill, Merryl and Diane!), they didn’t see me. I mean that literally: they really didn’t see me. I couldn’t count how many times I tried to catch someone’s eye to say hello and the person literally looked right through me, like I wasn’t even there.

It was just…weird. At the same time, it was also typical, and a big reason that I cut way back on conventions after 2010. I know my hair is very different than people got used to from 2007-2011 (it’s no longer blue and I’m letting it grow out) but that can’t be the sole explanation. I’m just…invisible. After thirty-nine years of con-going (my first con was in 1973!), gophering at several cons, volunteering on a con committee and belonging to two local writers’ groups, as far as both the writers’ community and the fan community are concerned, I simply don’t exist. I guess that’s part of the price of refusing to play by other people’s rules, especially as a writer.

My trip to Chicago had a dual purpose: to do programming for Chicon 7 and visit my sister for the first time since the mid-80s. (Since many con reports seem to mention it, I’ll note that this was my third Worldcon, after Noreascon Two (1980) and Anticipation (2009), and my second as a program participant.) I did have a pretty good time and it was certainly an economical one—I stayed with my sister, commuting down to the con from her house every day, and I got a bargain on my airfare bordering on highway robbery—so I’d have to call the trip as a whole successful. I’m still recovering!

The last time I flew on a plane was also in the mid-80s, so I was a bit nervous about all the TSA screening and restrictions. But everything went very smoothly. I travelled light, taking only the duffle I use as a suitcase for a carry-on (it was a freebie from the 2007 World Fantasy Convention and the most massively useful freebie I’ve ever gotten) and a small knapsack with my netbook computer, Pig, and my cell phone, carefully culled of any little gadgets I normally carry with me that are, or might be, TSA contraband. My dad dropped me off at Logan on Thursday morning and I zipped right through the screening, since I wasn’t at all fussed about the body scan (go ahead, scan this Bowflexed bod and eat your hearts out, screeners!). I worried a lot more about the x-ray’s effect on Pig, but he was fine. I was among the first to board the plane because my seat was at the very back, and we landed ahead of schedule at O’Hare.

I love takeoffs! What a rush! The endorphins lasted for hours! My bro-in-law says I’m like a little kid. :-)

Once in O’Hare, I needed to catch the CTA train (the L) to the Clark & Lake stop in the Loop and walk to the Hyatt Regency where Chicon 7 had pretty much taken over the entire hotel. The CTA station at O’Hare is a really, really long walk from the terminals (but a very well-signed walk, at least), and it takes about 45 minutes (and $2.25) to get into the city. When I came out of the L station in the Loop, I wasn’t sure which direction to go, but got a bead on the sun and followed my nose, which was accurate (as it usually is. The only GPS I need is in my head). Lugging my duffle around with me was a hindrance, and I finally checked it with the Hyatt concierge.

The function areas for the con were a complete maze and I’m not sure I ever did find them all! The Hyatt has two towers and you can’t cross between them on every level, so getting from an event in one tower often involved going up or down, crossing, and then going up or down on the other side. Because of this, the programming was organized into 90-minute time blocks but limited to 70 minutes, to give attendees plenty of time to get from one function room to another. That actually worked very well. The con also gets props for signage, which was large, clear, well-positioned and abundant.

I went right to Registration and registered for the con, then went to Program Participant Check-in and got my packet. As soon as I was officially registered I found the freebie racks and put out the BLUM flyers and book postcards I’d brought with me. It was a little after 4:00 p.m. by then and my first programming assignment was “Writer Under Glass #11″ at 5:00 p.m. This event was, I gathered, an experiment: writers signed up to work in sequence on a mass-written story which, according to the description, would be printed out, signed by all the contributors, and auctioned for charity at the end of the con. We were told that we’d be writing on a big monitor that anyone who wanted to watch could see, hence the “under glass” part.

I had to ask at the Chicon 7 Info desk to find the “Fan Lounge” where “Writer Under Glass” was scheduled. It was not marked on the map of function spaces in the Pocket Program (said map being one of the few things at Chicon 7 that was somewhat deficient: it was tiny, hard to read, and incomplete). I hate asking volunteers a question at cons because they always act like I’m just annoying them, and Chicon 7 was no exception, especially at the Info desk. But I did find the Fan Lounge, which was at the back of the Exhibits area.

When I got there, I met the fanzine editor who was running the “Writer Under Glass” activity, Chris Garcia, who was upbeat and energetic, was up for a Hugo award on Sunday, and who I never saw again. There wasn’t a big monitor, just a pair of Mac laptops which were eating their batteries and which the writers passed back and forth. As far as I could see, the assigned writers were enthusiastic: I arrived as #9 was finishing up, then #10 took over, then I did my half-hour and promptly turned the Mac over to #12.

But after that, I never did find out what happened to the story. I went back to the Fan Lounge three times during the weekend but Chris wasn’t there, I didn’t see any writers working after Thursday and none of the volunteers covering the Lounge knew anything about the project. (Many of the Kaffeeklatches were scheduled there and the volunteers had their hands full wrangling those.) It was fun to work on, anyway—reminded me how much I miss v-parties on Vampyres List. [I just learned from another participant that the story was evidently auctioned on Sunday during the Art Auction. That wasn't printed anywhere and I had no idea.]

When I was finished there, I went through the Art Show. There was some extremely impressive art, and it all made me want to go straight home and start painting. :-) My sister was coming down on the train after she got off work to show me the walking routes between Union Station and the hotel, and the train station in Libertyville and her house. She arrived a bit earlier than I expected, so I didn’t go to any programming on Thursday. We headed off to Union Station on foot, lugging my duffle, and stopped for a salad on the way. I would have liked to attend the Adler Planetarium event but it just didn’t work out. I couldn’t have come to Chicon 7 at all if I hadn’t been able to do it so cheaply, and that meant some unavoidable sacrifices.

FRIDAY

Friday morning, I was up at 6:00 a.m. because I had a panel at 10:30 a.m. and I wanted to catch a ride to the Libertyville station with my sister when she left for work. Between being hyper about my Friday panels and the first night in a strange place, I hardly slept at all, and this was on top of several nights of inadequate sleep with all the prepping and stressing about the trip, my programming and the flight. So on Friday, I was essentially a vegetable on feet; in fact, I’m not sure I could fairly say I was awake for most of the weekend! This may explain, if certainly not excuse, any offenses I may have committed on panels (chiefly talking too much).

The train ride to Union Station was about an hour and ten minutes, and the walk from Union Station to the Hyatt was about thirty minutes. But it was nice. I really got to see Chicago, up close and personal. It was very busy that weekend because there was a big Jazz Festival running in Grant Park, along with other events like a special exhibit of Roy Lichtenstein’s work at the Art Institute of Chicago (which had lines running down the block, like for tickets to a rock show, on Saturday). I walked right by that bit of South La Salle Street that’s in The Untouchables movie and later on took some pics of it.

I got to the hotel around 9:30 a.m., roamed around checking the schedule and signs, and sat by an outlet in the hallway on Gold level catching up with my journal on Pig until I headed for my first panel, “Starting a Small Press.” This was something I did a lot—find a fairly public spot by an outlet where I could plug in Pig and watch people go by—and I wasn’t alone, people with laptops camped around outlets everywhere in the Hyatt, which had free wi-fi in the function areas. I didn’t find the Con Suite for another day or so, but I went to the Green Room several times a day. It was usually pretty quiet when I got there, but I tended to be at programming through meal times.

“Starting a Small Press” was my favorite of all the panels I was on. It was fascinating to just hear other small press publishers talk! I am starved to “talk shop” with other small publishers and they’ve got to be the most tight-lipped people on earth; even when I go to Independent Publishers of New England events I can’t seem to talk to anyone. Maybe it’s pure paranoia, the whole publishing world is so competitive—no one wants to talk candidly about what they’re actually doing or how they work, and gods forbid you ask about sales, you couldn’t commit a bigger faux pas. But the panelists were Jason Sizemore of Apex Publications (who I knew by reputation and blog), Stephen Haffner of Haffner Press, Tod McCoy of Hydra House and the moderator was Patrick Swenson, former editor of Talebones magazine and owner of Fairwood Press. I lapped up every word they said. I hope I made some reasonable contributions. We were quite diverse in terms of experience and the scale of our businesses, which of course made it even more interesting. Someone live-tweeted a couple of my remarks! I didn’t realize that until I was looking at Chicon twitter feeds a couple of days later.

After the small press panel, I went to “The Best Vampire Novel of the Century.” I had been following the news about this all year: to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s death, the Horror Writers Association assembled a panel to vote on which vampire novel since 1912 was the most influential on the genre. Panelists James S. Dorr,  Kenneth Hite and Richard Lee Byers discussed the six finalists, had the audience do a “straw poll” and then (for those who weren’t already aware) revealed the winner, which was Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954). I agreed with that choice when I first heard it, and it was very interesting to hear the judges’ rationale on each book.

The panel I moderated, and my second panel of the day and the con, was titled “Doom and Gloom and Dark Despair, Young Readers Love Them Everywhere.” There were several similar panels suggested and this is the one that Programming chose; the somewhat unwieldy title is an in-joke, based on “The Markland Birthday Dirge” which probably not too many people are familiar with. The panel discussed controversial “dark” themes in literature for young readers—why young readers like those themes, can they be harmful, and so on. I guess it went okay—the panelists did a good job. I did a lot of prep for this panel and had some articles and references going back to 1972, and maybe I talked more than a moderator is supposed to. By then I was seriously crashing and mixed up two panelists’ names, which was embarrassing.

The lone male panelist couldn’t attend, so we had Jordan Hamessley London who is an assistant editor at Grosset and Dunlap, author Alaya Dawn Johnson (who I knew from past cons but I don’t think she remembered me), author Susan MacDonald and author S.J. Kincaid, who was added at the last minute. We had a minor nuisance at the start as the panel was scheduled right after one of a series of academic papers. The academic went way over time so our audience and panelists were all standing in the hall, unwilling to interrupt someone “reading their dissertation.” Finally an audience member who had bad knees and walked with a cane couldn’t stand there any longer and walked into the room to sit down, which I suppose I should have done sooner (we were all supposed to stay on schedule, Ph.D or not!). The Programming Ops people were sure timely about waving the “5 minute” and “Stop” signs at me, though.

I kind of slunk out after that panel and went to the Green Room for a snack. Then I went down to hear the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading—where no one recognized me, either, although Roberta Rogow, who I sat with on the BU dealers room table at a past con, was running the reading. They had a lot of readers! I think it’s the biggest RFR I’ve ever seen, although I missed the BU RFR in Montréal. I sat toward the back of the room because I wanted to plug Pig into an outlet and recharge his battery.

By then I was freezing cold. Friday was the hottest day of the con, and it wasn’t too bad walking through the Loop at 9:00 a.m. but by afternoon it was in the 90s and the hotel really jacked up the air conditioning. I was wearing long sleeves but it was a very light-weight shirt from the Gap. Sleep deprivation and fatigue makes my already reptilian metabolism plummet, even if I’m eating (and I wasn’t eating much). I had a hard time focusing on the readings. All my stuff was up at my sister’s so I couldn’t just go get a jacket or something. But I actually went outside and sat on a low wall in front of the hotel for a while just to thaw out.

At 4:30 p.m. I went to the daily “feedback session,” which was a mistake—because I didn’t really have feedback, I was interested to hear what other people had to discuss. I guess the Con Chair, Dave McCarty, only wanted people to attend who actually had something to say. Very few people did, it seemed—only about 6 to 10 con attendees showed up. But I was there when Karen Moore brought up her concerns about the con’s accessibility and also about the “joke” track of non-existent spoof program items listed in the schedule. I was one of the few witnesses to actually hear what she said and how Dave responded to her.

I got some veggies, cheese and chips in the Green Room. I was mildly interested in the Regency Dance session, since I’d done something like it at Noreascon Two and loved it, but I  just didn’t have enough energy. At 6:00 p.m. I went to a panel which got off to an uncertain start because it wasn’t described adequately in the Pocket Program. “Web Promotion and Social Media,” presented solo by Mike Stolaroff, was supposed to be, “Web Promotion and Social Media for Filmmakers,” Stolaroff having made an independent film called Pig (which was screened at the con on Sunday but I had a panel at the exact same time). A couple of the small audience left when Mike, rather flustered, explained this, but the rest of us stayed, and it ended up being a very interesting and useful discussion which I thoroughly enjoyed.

After that, at 7:30 p.m., I went to a panel called “Electronic Publishing,” which was well-attended—standing room only—but poorly moderated. It just wandered all over the place and didn’t cover the topic very well.

By the time that panel hobbled to a close, I had a couple of options: check out some parties, hang out, go to the Guest of Honor speech or filking, or catch a cab to Union Station (which I preferred to do rather than walk at night, go ahead and call me a wuss) for the 9:45 p.m. train. I almost went to a party, because I was interested in supporting the bid for Worldcon in Spokane in 2015. I lived in Spokane from kindergarten through 9th grade and I still have a couple of friends I’m in touch with there. But when I saw the lines for the elevators to the 33rd floor, I decided I was much too exhausted to deal with it and just wanted to head up to Libertyville and get to bed. The bellhop got me a cab right in front of the hotel, instantly, and I wanted to tip him, but he was chatting up the cabbie and ignoring me, so, no tip for him. I texted my sister with my ETA (I was texting a lot this weekend) and caught up with my journal on the train ride. My sister’s house is only about a 15 minute walk from their train station, which has pros and cons: Libertyville is a quiet, utterly idyllic little town but they get train noise both day and night. The full moon was shining through high clouds, all yellow, as I walked to the house. I’d done my Full Moon ritual early on Wednesday night so I wouldn’t miss it.

SATURDAY

I slept a bit better that night—by that point, it would have been hard not to, I was so wiped, and my moderating duties were done with, so I could relax about that. I didn’t have to get up quite so early; my sister dropped me off at the train station as she headed out for Saturday errands, and I was at the Hyatt by 11:00 a.m. I cruised around until noon when my next panel started: “What is Magical Realism?” I’d done some prep work and reading for this one, too.

“What is Magical Realism?” went very well and is my second-favorite of my Chicon 7 panels. It was especially interesting because one of the panelists was not from North America: author Thomas Olde Heuvelt from The Netherlands. We also had authors Jeremy Lassen, Mr. Magic Realism/Bruce Taylor, and the moderator was author/cartoonist Roberta Gregory, with whom I’m friends on Facebook but who I had never met. We all had a lot of knowledge about various facets and particulars of magical realism and it was an excellent discussion. At the end of it, an audience member came up to the table and said to me and Jeremy that this had been the best panel she’d attended at the con so far. That’s always neat to hear! :-)

There were three separate panels about Magical Realism during the con; I didn’t see the other two but I saw a tweet about one that leaves me very curious as to what was being said to offend this audience member so much. I’m glad it wasn’t our panel! This topic certainly has potential land mines, though, since it’s identified so strongly with fiction from non-Anglophone cultures such as South America.

Saturday was the day my Invisibility Cloak slipped a little, and people actually started to recognize me and say hello. The first time, I was rather startled, I’d gotten so used to being overlooked, and I didn’t realize this individual, from Massachusetts, was at the con. After “What is Magical Realism?” I went to the Green Room for some fruit and veggies, and chatted a while with several people there.

At 3:00 p.m. I decided to try out a panel which was listed in a very understated way: “The Secret History of Science Fiction.” I hadn’t gotten over to the Crystal rooms in the west tower except by accident when I got lost, or I would have noticed that the event was scheduled in one of the largest function rooms after the main ballroom. The Pocket Program simply said, “Funny science fiction stories that never made it into the history books or encyclopedias.” The panelists were Guest of Honor Mike Resnick, Rob Silverberg, Joe Haldeman, George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. A venerable line-up to be sure, but how many people would be interested in hearing a bunch of old-timers swap in-jokes from four decades ago?

A LOT. The room was jam-packed and standing room only, and I stood at the back for it all, feeling a bit silly for not anticipating that it would be that popular. It might have been even more popular except that I’m sure some con-goers couldn’t find the room; Gardner Dozois came in late because even he got lost! It was funny; the stories were mostly anecdotes from past Hugo awards and/or past Worldcons, but entertaining if you’d been around fandom a while. I fussed with my camera a bit until I figured out how to suppress the flash and took some pictures of the panel, of which one actually came out well.

After that panel let out, I went down to take a slower and more careful look at the Dealers Room, Exhibits and freebie racks. I collected flyers for every upcoming convention that I might send promo materials to or even, *gasp*, attend (I may give Boskone and/or Arisia another chance—Pi-Con is taking a hiatus and won’t be held in 2013). I spoke to most of the small press people who had tables about possible freelance work, leaving my card and taking theirs, if they had one. I also picked up cards or flyers for small publishers at the freebie racks but there weren’t too many of them. The only thing I bought, however, was a $20 pre-bid-support for Spokane in 2015. They were holding their room party Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. When I finished with all that, I sat in the hallway on Gold level catching up on Pig, and someone walking by said, “Man, I wish I could type that fast!” He should see me when I’m not typing on a netbook balanced precariously on one knee. :-)

At 6:00 p.m. I’d thought about going to a panel on fiction series, because it was a duplicate of one I’d suggested. But I realized that another panel, “Conquering Writer,” was a typo and should be, “Conquering Writer’s Block.” Given how long it took me to sort out and finish The Longer the Fall, I decided to see what those panelists had to say. I confess that I spent some of the panel checking Facebook and Twitter while I listened, but it was an interesting discussion, with authors Eldon Thompson (moderating), Russell Davis, Monica Valentinelli, Tom King, and old-timer Gene Wolfe.

At 7:30 p.m. I went to “Do We Need Paper Books?” This was the most disappointing panel of the entire convention, additionally so because it was the only time I saw Ian Randal Strock, who I was on a panel with at the 2010 Albacon. It was hardly “moderated” at all and just rambled on and on, was heavily monopolized by one panelist, seemed to take forever and was basically a tedious mess. It’s too bad, because the topic itself is certainly a timely one and has gotten plenty of air time in online forums.

I didn’t attend the Masquerade (huge crowded rooms don’t appeal to me, to put it mildly, and I’d inadvertently maxed out my huge-crowded-room tolerance at the “Secret History of Science Fiction” panel). I saw a lot of the costumes going by me in the hallway on Gold while I sat there, and many of them were extremely impressive. I saw the Best of Show winner, “Lady of the Lake” (Aurora Celeste), up close several times as she made her way to the Masquerade venues and I’m not at all surprised that she won. That was one amazing costume.

Instead, I checked out the Con Suite, where they were serving sushi (seriously!). I don’t eat sushi but I had some carrot salad. I also checked out the Green Room, where they had a “black bean salad” with tomatoes and black beans that was very tasty. I really wanted to get up to some of the parties tonight, and once again the elevators were jam-packed with long lines, and being wrangled by the hotel staff.

Now, I am a very fit person, and I also was missing my usual daily workout routine (not counting the 30-minute mile-and-half walk from Union Station each morning). So, I had been using stairs at every possible opportunity (which, given the layout of the function rooms, was a lot). Most of the escalators, except the very longest ones, had steps between the up and down escalator; I used them, both up and down. I took the stairs up to the rooms on Silver level in the west tower, and I took the stairs at Union Station. The parties were on floors 23 through 34. But I dislike elevators and hate lines, and especially after going to the feedback session on Friday, I was aware that the con had many, many people, in scooters or wheelchairs and otherwise, who move with far less thoughtless ease than the Universe has blessed me with being able to do.

So, to get to the parties on Saturday night, I took the stairs: from 2 all the way up to 33. Woof. I’d done this before, mind you. On Saturday night at Anticipation in Montréal (in 2009), where the elevator situation was even worse, I wanted to post signs for our party. I walked up the stairs from the lobby to 11 (our room—I did this every time unless I was hauling luggage), from 11 up to 28 (party floor), down to 5 (con suite) and back up to 11, all in one go. By the time I got back to our room, my leg muscles were basically saying, “sit down or we’ll make you.” I sat (heh). But I made it!

So, up the stairs to 33 I went (huff, puff, pause, next flight!), and visited some parties. I ran into a Readercon person at the Spokane in 2015 party and had a long chat. The party organizers called author C.J. Cherryh, who lives in Spokane, on a cell phone, because it was her birthday, and the whole party sang “Happy Birthday to You” to her over the phone! She was surprised. :-) I checked out a couple of other parties briefly, as well. I was avoiding Barfleet at all costs, however, and I wasn’t the only one.

I caught a cab at midnight and the last train to Libertyville at 12:25 a.m. This time the bellhop stood still for a tip! The last Metra train on weekends is really a trip. My car had a lot of teens, a few of whom were so obviously stoned or high out of their minds that they could barely walk straight. One young man, wearing sunglasses, got out of his seat and went staggering down the aisle and off to another car, ignoring his friends who were saying, “where are you going?” I don’t think he ever came back! I never saw anything of the Jazz Festival, but there were a lot of families with younger kids going into the city in the mornings. I don’t know what the teens were going to, but they were sure having a good time. A big crowd of them got off with me in Libertyville, too, so these were affluent middle-class kids (indeed, a lot of them were my niece’s and nephew’s classmates).

I had another pretty, peaceful walk under a hazy moon to my sister’s house, where everyone was in bed and I crashed immediately.

SUNDAY

I decided I wanted to get to the convention at about the same time this morning, even though my last panel for the con and only panel for the day wasn’t until 4:30 p.m. Everyone at my sister’s house was sleeping in late, and I didn’t want to disturb them, so I quietly got ready to leave and walked over to the train station. My sister called me after the train was on its way, because she couldn’t figure out where I’d gone! Not only was I a phantom at Chicon 7, I was a virtual phantom at my sister’s: she was putting me up, feeding me, and even bought my Metra pass for me, and I didn’t even see her for 48 hours straight.

It was overcast, and I’d brought a rain poncho which I actually used. Just as I got to the corner of Adams and Michigan, there was a cloudburst, and suddenly I was squeezed into a door overhang with about a dozen other pedestrians, as though we were all wicked witches in Oz and would melt if we got wet. I pulled out the rain poncho, put it on and went on my way. I wouldn’t have wanted to be damp in the frigidly air-conditioned hotel, but my real concern was that Pig, in my knapsack, not get soaked.

After that brief delay, I got to the hotel around 11:00 a.m. I went to the end of “Historical Reality in Fantasy” which was interesting and seemed well-moderated. But I can’t fairly evaluate it since I’d missed half of the discussion.

At noon, I went to “There Will Be Blood: But How Much is Too Much?” moderated by Warren Hammond with panelists Paul Dale Anderson, Betsy Dornbusch, Richard Lee Byers and Tim Waggoner, all authors who write horror or gritty thrillers. While the discussion was interesting, I actually found it a little disturbing. The writers all seemed comfortable with the position that no topic was, or should be, taboo, including rape in any context or violence against any class of victim. I guess I’m just a hopeless wuss, but there was no panelist who seemed to feel some lines should be uncrossable, although several mentioned things they personally wouldn’t write about.

Coincidence or otherwise, it was at this panel that I first noticed that Pig’s power cord was not working properly: with everything firmly plugged in where it belonged, the cord wasn’t delivering power to the battery unless I twisted or turned it just so. This distracted me during the 1:30 p.m. panel, where I found a seat by a wall outlet and spent the panel fussing with Pig’s power cord and feeling annoyed that it was acting up when I wouldn’t be getting home for several more days and wanted Pig functional.

This was too bad, because the panel, “Victorian and Edwardian Science Fiction,” was very good and the only one in which I took notes. Programming underestimated its appeal; it was scheduled in one of the smaller rooms up on Silver, where a number of “academic” panels were located, and the room was jammed full with standing people all along the back. The moderator was David Malki, with panelists Matthew Bennardo and Randy Smith. Many interesting titles were recommended by both panelists and audience.

After that, I got some food in the Green Room and did another circuit of the Dealers Room and Exhibits, chatting a while with a writer, Eva Caye, who was offering passers-by gourmet Italian mints and talking up her series of books. At 4:30 p.m., I went up to my last panel for the convention, “Incorporating the Personal into Speculative Fiction.”

My. That one certainly got…intense. I’ve been doing programming at conventions, including Worldcon, since 2008 and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten another panelist quite so…agitated. I was simply responding to moderator Cat Rambo’s question! But, hey. I stayed perfectly professional and I’m not responsible for anyone’s behavior but my own. I thought the panel went quite well in terms of everyone making substantive remarks, and it certainly had entertainment value. One of the panelists—not the agitated one—tweeted afterwards that he usually hates being on panels, but he thought this one went well. That’s the only thing I’ve heard about it from anyone else (since I refuse to read agitated panelist’s blog. I got it, thanks).

I did not attend the Hugo awards; see above about huge crowded rooms, as well as the fact that I seriously dislike awards ceremonies. I won’t even watch the Oscars. I hung out in the Green Room talking with people, or just roamed about. I wanted to check out some parties, and after four days of walking through the Loop and going up and down stairs in the hotel, I decided to beat the post-Hugo rush on the elevators and go up to the 34th floor shortly after 9:00 p.m. when some of the parties started. I visited the Loncon 2014 celebration party, which had an amazing cake: a white sheet cake with the con logo in blue and the London skyline in black, hand-painted on the cake. I’d have taken a picture, but the light was very dim and the cake’s cover would have reflected a flash. I also cruised the ConVergence, Spokane in 2015 and Kansas City in 2016 parties before I had to walk down 27 flights of stairs to catch a cab to Union Station for the last train to Libertyville.

That was my farewell to Chicon 7; I didn’t come back on Monday, since my sister was off from work, I was flying home on Tuesday and we were spending some time together. The Metra train tonight was full of teens with skimpy costumes, body paint, glitter—and occasionally no shoes, which isn’t allowed on the trains. The conductors were not happy campers, but we got underway eventually, with stern announcements over the intercom that we were to keep our shoes on at all times.

Yep, Chicago is one funky town! :-)

My sister and I had fun the next two days, but that belongs in another post. I did want to mention my flight home on Tuesday, however, because this was the second time, in a row, that my journey home from a convention has been complicated by a hurricane—one with a name starting with “I.” In August 2011, Hurricane Irene went straight over 6Pi-Con in Enfield, Connecticut. I drove home on the heels of the storm, just barely ahead of the flooding that closed roads and washed out towns the whole way, and stranded some of my fellow con-goers in the hotel for an extra day or more. My flight home from Chicon 7 was delayed by “the remnants of Isaac,” and we went through quite a bit of turbulence. It wasn’t too bad, but I was working on Pig and I had to give up typing and resort to reading, it was just too bumpy. The takeoff was still great, and Boston was so pretty as we approached Logan. I was sure glad to get home. Dad met me at Logan, and we got to my house at midnight. I spent two and half hours cleaning up after the animals and getting things back to normal before I dropped into bed. I’m still not quite back to my regular routines!

I think I’ve been fighting off con crud since I got back, as I’ve been exhausted, sore-eyed, somewhat down, and have felt like there was an anvil on my head. That’s as close to being “sick” as I ever get, but it hasn’t helped me get re-oriented. The unseasonal humidity hasn’t helped, either, but it looks like we’re finally getting a respite from that; it was very humid in Chicago.

Chicon 7 may be looking at some long-term negative blowback for the accessibility issues and their somewhat cavalier attitude to complaints—and also for the presence of Rene Walling, the man who is now banned from Readercon for life for sexual harassment, after causing more heads to roll on the Readercon Board than a whole season of Game of Thrones. I wondered if he would be there, given his position in fandom (he co-chaired Anticipation in 2009), but I didn’t personally see him. I guess we’ll see…

 

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