Words, Words, Words

September 6, 2000

I made a resolution to spend five hours a week writing after Worldcon. That's an hour apiece on two weeknights and three hours on the weekend, which seems very doable. I'm adopting an elastic definition of "writing" for the purpose of this resolution: journal entries, fiction writing, and typing drills all count. (I may need to relearn how to type, now that my left hand is in such bad shape. Windows has a one-handed Dvorak layout built in, but it involves shifting the right hand two keys over, which puts the Enter key out of reach. A new keybaord may be called for.)

Worldcon itself was a lot of fun, as always, even though I missed a lot of people I wanted to see. The Hyatt Regency had two separate towers with not enough elevators for each, so I never ventured to the parties in the other tower, a decision that was mostly sensible but too absolute. I should at least have tried to make it to a Minneapolis in '73 bid party, for instance, where I might have run into Nate Bucklin, a Clarion classmate who I haven't seen since the 1993 WFC. (For those who don't know, Minneapolis bid to run the 1973 Worldcon. They lost, but enjoyed bidding so much they kept throwing parties anyway.)

The parties in my own suite were enough to keep me happy. I was lucky enough to be invited in on a suite with Gordie Meyer, Christy Hardin Smith, and Terry McGarry. Thursday night Gordie hosted a party for Mike Resnick and the Cincinnatti fandom group. Friday we had about a dozen people in the suite and a lively conversation that lasted well past the point when I felt I needed sleep. (I could hear them in the other room, laughing and enjoying themselves, the heartless b*st*rds.) Saturday we were down to about half a dozen, and I commented that if the energy level kept dropping at this rate we'd all be on IV's by Monday. Little did I know: Sunday the suite was empty, except for me, waiting to see if anyone would show up. Oh well.

Going back to the beginning, my flight out went smoothly. I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. and when I finally went to bed at midnight I was too restless to sleep, so I finally got up and stayed up until it was time to leave. I'd gotten a flight from National to Midway, which seemed logical, but which required that I fly on American Transair, not the smartest move I've ever made. The flight out went fine and I'll get to the flight back later on. Midway is a small airport still using stone age technology: the baggage claims carousel had an easel, and they put up a sign reading "Washington, DC" when our bags came out.

The directions in the Progress Report were not as clear as they might have been, but I eventually found registration, where I got my badge and a thick stack of reading material. I sat down in an empty function room and oriented myself well enough to get around, then set out exploring. I ran into my suitemate Christy, who told me that we couldn't get into our bedrooms but the parlor was ready, so I got a key and stashed my excess stuff. Getting a key to my bedroom proved to be more challenging; when I went down that night, the clerk at the front desk couldn't find my name on the room. I gave him the number of the parlor, and then he found me, and gave me two keys, which briefly made me a hero when I got upstairs and found my roommate Terry waiting for me. Unfortunately, the idiot clerk had given me two keys to the parlor, and there was no way to get into our room from there, so Terry had to go downstairs and beat the right keys out of the front desk. As Hyatt Regency foulups go, this was atypical only in being somewhat less annoying than most. (Checkout was real fun, you betcha.)

I only did one panel on Thursday, part of "Ben Bova Deserves It" [being Guest of Honor], which didn't convince me that he did, and made one pass through the dealer's room before showing up for Tippi Blevins's reading, where I met "John Savage", who turned out to be a three-hundred pound man in a toga. After that extreme tiredness convinced me to go up to the room and nap. My philosophy of cons is that you should never be so busy having fun that you neglect to sleep. So, while I may have missed a few things, I did make it to the evening somewhat refreshed, and as it was getting near dinner time I went up to the SFF Net suite, where Vera, Tippi, Graham, Julia (who I noted really was a fragile flower of femininity), Jim and West Flanagan, and a couple of others were preparing for the first of several major parties. I had the room number for a couple of my Clarion classmates, so I called them a few times, but without making contact. I still wasn't tempted to get up much and chatting with folks in the suite was about my speed. We ended up ordering three large pizzas delivered from Edwardo's, which I should have warned them was too much, but they were expecting more people to show up. It was way too much food. Chicago-style stuffed pizza is like no other pizza in the world. The layers of crust, cheese, more crust, sauce, add up to a slice that's literally over an inch thick, and very very good. I went to graduate school in Chicago, and I hadn't had real Chicago-style pizza since the last Chicago Worldcon, nine years ago. I ate a slice of the spinach pizza--one slice was all I could manage, and nobody ate more than two--and it was very very good.

Later I talked to Mark and Ed and the other folks from my year at Clarion. It turned out they'd called my room, but not the SFF Net suite, not knowing that Graham was staying there, and had gone out to Edwardo's. Through some small miscalculations they ended up walking much farther than expected and it's probably lucky I didn't join them that evening.

I rounded out the evening by attending a panel on screenwriting--not something I plan to do, but interesting anyway--and hanging out in my suite upstairs.

Friday my suitemate Christy had an 8:30 panel on estate planning for writers. I'd thought of showing up as a gesture of friendship, but slept in instead. That happens a lot with 8:30 panels. Instead I dragged myself out of bed for the Terry Pratchett reading, which I was a couple of minutes late to, by which time it was standing room only. There are circumstances where I'll claim a chair from an able-bodied person, but an event which they're on time for and I'm late is not one of them. I wandered off, found a chair to sit down in and eat a Pop-Tart, and spotted Heidi Campbell, another of my Clarion classmates, just before she walked past. So I ended up accompanying her, her daughter, and Meryl Yourish on a quest for breakfast, which we eventually found in the underground passages of Chicago. I'd thought of going to the "Exercises in Style" panel after that, but a close inspection of the pocket program revealed it was in the Fairmont, which I didn't feel like searching for, so instead I bought a couple more books in the dealer's room and explored most of the art show. I briefly said hello to John Hertz and Susan Shwartz, neither of whom I would see again. (It was a good con for missing people.) Then I went to the "Researching Your Writing" panel which, with Connie Willis, Terry Pratchett, and Elizabeth Moon, was pretty much guaranteed to be fun, followed by the "Avoiding Literary Scams" panel, which was pretty much what I already knew from SFF Net (in hindsight, not the best choice). Katya Reimann had an autographing at 5:30, so I went there and caught up with her ("You had twins? Wow.") before deciding to go up to my room to see if I could hook up with Mark and Ed. There were two messages waiting for me, the second of which said they had just left for the lobby about three minutes ago; I dashed down, caught up with them, and went with a big group of people to a Greek restaurant, where I discovered that saganaki isn't as good as raw feta. Looks impressive, though, and the company was good. Leaving the restaurant, I had my Chicago Taxi Adventure, when the cab left before I'd finished getting in. Shouts from myself and the other passengers persuaded the driver to stop before I fell out or my legs hit something, and I managed to finish getting into the car without incident.

I've already mentioned the Friday night party in our suite, which was the best of the weekend; and on that note, I'll end this installment of my Worldcon report.

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