I meant to write up at least half of the trip before posting, but this part (only up until ZCon Friday) grew, and grew… am not usually so verbose *winces*. Anyway, that's what's Below the Cut.
I was going to leave work at 7 and pack before bed. Instead I left at sometime after 9 (which involved shutting the door on the office and a heap of stuff that didn't get done in time - gah!). Home, I threw everything I thought I was taking in a pile on the bed beside my backpack, ploughed through replies to a dozen or so non-fannish emails and fell asleep at 2 a.m.
Day One (the very long one)
The idea was to get to the airport very early in pursuit of decent seating assignments. Getting out of bed was a struggle, but I made K's by 10:00, parked my car in the neighbour's garage as arranged and we were at the airport by 11:00. A little negotiation got us both bulkhead seats – K needs accessible seating because (a) she's afraid of flying and (b) she had a couple of bad accidents some years ago and her mobility is now quite restricted as a result. Struggling in and out of a middle or window seat would be panic-inducing and physically almost impossible for her.
The flight was fine, although I didn't sleep much. Interestingly, I found the immigration process a lot friendlier than on previous visits. First time I came through LA (in ''91) signs still used the term 'nonresident aliens' for the non-US passport or green card holders, we were warned to complete our immigration cards exactly and without even the most minute error (cue instant anxiety), and the officials were uniformly grim, when they weren't being plain rude. My travelling companion at the time frankly lied about his very brief youthful association with the Young Communists, although any moderately thorough background check would have pulled up his name as his father had been an active member of the Party in Australia for many years. Perhaps in reaction, M grew up to be almost completely apolitical. Anyway, that question is thankfully missing from the 2007 forms and although officialdom was no less thorough this time, somehow – hard to put a finger on it – the whole process was infinitely more welcoming.
Once through Immigrations and Customs, K and I dumped our bags at the American Airlines transit point and headed for our Chicago flight. No choice of seating but I swapped with K to give her an aisle one. In Chicago we picked up K's bag, but mine didn't appear. Baggage service was less than helpful – they kept suggesting that I search the adjacent carousels, or the unclaimed baggage drop area before finally, after we'd wasted almost an hour, begrudgingly filing a missing report. I was seriously angry with the people we dealt with. Almost without exception they'd evidenced absolutely no interest in my situation, kept suggesting I'd missed something (I hadn't) and not once ever offering any sort of possible explanation for the non-appearance of my baggage, or clear information on what was going to happen as a result. Apparently their job was to file a report and let the gods handle the rest.
(To jump to the conclusion of that saga, I did get my bags again, 2 1/2 days later, but not before my details were somehow wiped from American Airlines' delayed baggage system, which took additional phone calls to sort out, and more than a few tears when I found an actual person on the other end who turned out to be both sympathetic and helpful).
Meanwhile, bloody pissed off, but determined not to let it spoil things, I took the shuttle to the hotel. Nice welcome, helpful staff, pleasant (although slightly damp smelling) room, free internet – relax. I bought a Rugby World Cup pass to cheer myself up. Somehow I totally missed the cool S&H decorated door in our corridor– K had to point it out to me next day *g* - guess I was preoccupied.
A restless night, before I fell asleep about 6 am and woke late. We took a trip to the nearby Target store for emergency clothing and then hung around in the hotel foyer bar, watching the con-type people arrive. agentxpndble arrived *squee!* and we cleared a corner of our room for her mattress. I think I saw justacat in the distance and I was downstairs when enednoviel and przed rocked in. I was hoping to run into someone who had posted an email about an Alias Smith & Jones viewing evening, but no luck –msmoat later said she'd tried to contact her but the number given was wrong or out of service. Oh well. I took my laptop down with me and K and I watched the first half of the All Black's game against Italy until accosted by a woman (well, not quite accosted, but while we were talking the batteries ran down, so hmmph) who gave us a rundown on the hotel, how it's over an underground river, and carparking is bad because it's cheaper for people going to the next-door arena and airport so it gets full, and the ground floor is bad to be on because the rooms have been broken into and the locks not fixed properly. Could have been horribly worrying, but she had worse complaints about the previous hotel, so I took it all "under advisement".
Woke again during the night, but my room-mates were asleep so I went to the bathroom and typed emails, perched on the edge of the shower recess.
kicked off the Con proper. paris7am was due to arrive later in the day. I was really looking forward to seeing her again – we'd met briefly a couple of years earlier when K and I traveled to England for AMFAS (the trip that started the whole planning to go to ZCon thing).
Registration, blah, blah. Checked out the program (which was slightly confusing in format, with the headings for each day in the same size and type font as the sub sections - I craved a table); met up with more people I knew, like msmoat (I think this was the day I had lunch with her and justacat, and J explained the problem I was having with ordering a lemonade/Sprite/Sierra Mist *g*), and new faces (krisserci5, windrain10 artconserv, sc_fossil, creedcascade, faramir_boromir, majorbrat, carodee the_shoshanna). OK, I didn't exactly connect with all of them on the one day, and some of this meetage involved really brief "hello, I'm x, who the heck are you… oh I do know your name/read your stories!" type moments, but this seems like a convenient spot to list them all. Linear, I'm not.
A Pros story by creedcascade won the writing competition. It's over here
What Makes a Man. Lovely Bodie-centred piece.
Dealers Room - there were stacks of good stuff. I bought several things from the table selling items from Lily's collection (I was particularly happy to find a few 2nd draft Pros scripts), some DVD's, a beautiful print by Lorraine Brevig (and so nice to meet the artist herself!) and a few 'zines. Overall though, I was really quite restrained (compared to Nattercon, anyway – those who were there may now smile and roll their eyes!).
There was a swirl of movement all around me, people registering, greeting, talking in the foyer, the bar, the corridors. paris7am arrived late afternoon, to much rejoicing, and agentxpndble decamped to her new digs.
Panels – missed the first few. At my first - "The Professionals – why this fandom has endured for thirty years" - I sat in the second row, which was a mistake, because a lot of the comments came from behind me and I couldn't see who made them, nor did I know who the speakers were in most cases. So, good to be in a room with so many Pros fans, but not really engaging. No fault of the mods (I was thrilled to see C**** P**** there, although I never managed to speak with her and tell her how much I loved her stories).
The second, "Writing Fannish History", was very interesting, although mostly about the Star Trek Legacy Project. History fascinates me, slash fandom history in particular because of its clandestine and subversive (as some would have it, anyway) roots. Of course, it makes me yearn for something similar for Pros, although I can't help thinking it would be almost impossible to get enough of the people from the early days to collaborate to produce such a work.
Sorta tangential - while searching the Internet for info on the Legacy Project, which is limited to say the least (and is that a deliberate choice on the part of the editors – no Fan History Wiki references, no links from other associated pages etc, etc… honestly, If I'd never been to Zcon I'd never have heard of it), I also found the much better known Foresmutters Project. The website has been down since June, but the site's still accessible through Internet Archive. Some fascinating stuff, especially this, here, which adds some lovely layers of complexity to the whole history of fen thinking about sexuality in a slash context.
The third panel was "Spies and Slashers: The Enduring Appeal", and it was great fun. The group was small enough to let us arrange our chairs in a circle *g*, and discussion was lively – I'm just a little sorry that my memory of what we talked about is fading, but I recall that we touched on issues of loyalty, trust, what the boundaries are, subtext, etc etc.
Parties: Not really a party, but Paris, K and I attended the memorial for Joan Martin and Lily Fulford. We were late, most of the others had gone to other things, but it gave us the opportunity to talk to some older fen, and I appreciated that very much. Many thanks to those who organized the gathering.
Stopping now – more later.