So – I worried and stressed about this. Should I go to the Worldcon this year? I said to myself I’d throw in for programming and if I got programming then I would go. I got programming. Let us just say that my membership number for Chicon 8 was 11553… so I was far from the first in line. I finally bought membership long after I had booked the hotel “just in case” and then made arrangements to get there because I couldn’t do it by flapping my arms… and finally bit the bullet and got the membership and it was a go. But there were… ISSUES.
Covid, as always – the travelling (mingling with the crowds at the airports…) the con itself (which predicated attendance on your showing proof of vax but still. That’s a lot of people all together. And if you’re in a line for something you can’t ALL stant six feet apart because even this very large hotel would not be large enough for THOSE queues.)
And then the logistics. Leaving mom alone for four days (so I made arrangements for SOMEONE to visit her every day. She still managed to run RIGHT out of food. Guess who has to hit the ground running and go shopping tomorrow). Leaving the house on its own (I purchased at least one timer plug which proved entirely too complicated to program so that was just an additional frustration – but I wanted lights going on and off…). Leaving the CAT on his own inside that empty house for four days – the cat who had NEVER been on his own before – first with a full house of two humans and a fellow cat companion, then just one human and that other cat, then just that one human, but the cat ALWAYS had some other warm body somewhere close by. THis… would be ON HIS OWN. and it was fraught. And I stressed out about it. I arranged for a neighbor to come feed him every day – but that was just coming in to feed him, no real “companoinship” visits”, so yeah. It was stressful. The travel arrangements themselves (let me just say that getting from O Hare airport to the con hotel was REAL sticker shock. And then there was my own rotten carcass, but about that later.
I cashed in some miles and threw in some more $$$ and got myself a first class ticket on the seattle-chicago leg. There’s nothing like flying in comfort, is there? You get access to a separate lounge at the aiport (one Covid worry less, maybe – fewer people…) Also, you get FED. A real meal. With a knife and fork which ain’t plastic and a napkin which ain’t paper. It takes some of the stress out of it all, for sure. And here’s a few things I captured on my phone camera on the way out:
As I said – getting from the airport to the hotel was expen$$$ive, but I finally got there at close to 9 PM that night. Got a room on the eleventh floor. Dragged myself and my luggages up there. discovered quickly that the pillows were too hard (there was no real “give” to them, they persisted in staying plumply pillow shaped, which gave me a sore neck…) and the bed was too soft (I don’t know, some kind of mushy pillow top mattress? Either way, it exacerbated my bad hips BADLY…) but eh. It would all do.
The con itself.
Friday morning they scheduled me for an 8:30 AM “Stroll with the Stars” which was – given the lateness of my arrival the previous night – a tough one, but I gallantly showed up. Only to realise that my hips made me very very VERY slow and gimpy. The bulk of the strollers beasically took that to mean “stroll briskly” and simply… left me in their wake. I walked with a couple of very nice people who stuck by me, but it was a bit of a fraught experience and there was quite a bit of hobbling and pain involved. Here’s a couple of pics for proof:
Walking long distances was NOT going to be a thing this weekend, that seemed clear… but that was BEFORE I met the hotel.
East tower. West Tower. LOTS of escalators. LOTS of long corridors (many of which it was all to easy to walk off in while aimed in entirely the wrong direction. My problems with pain began at reg on Friday morning where I was literally INVITED to stop by the disability accessibility desk to get “Elevator priority” stickers (I must have looked as much of a wreck as I felt). My first panel (“the biology of fantasy creatures”) was a virtual one, on a platform called Airmeet, and I got on it and introduced myself… and then the thing simply cut out on me. I could not hear the panel at all, they didn’t seem to be able to hear or see me. I had backchannel tech help happening but it all took a long time and the panel was basically over by the time I managed to get anything working right. Well, bah, humbug.
So I chalked it up to experience and moseyed out to find (not as as easy as you might expect) the place where my next panel, in person, was supposed to be – about Slavic Mythology and its potential impact on fantasy creation. It was wonderful. It was a bunch of slavic-background people (Russian, Ukrainian, Serb) who basically told the audience, this ain’t a NEW thing, we know you’re only really just finding out about it now, but we’ve been steeped in it for generations – and here’s what we know. It was a packed panel with LOTS of audience (and my first words to them were congratulations that they managed to FIND the place…) Then I had a reading scheduled for after that but I knew it was going to take me a while to find and I serendipitously discovered that the person preceding me was Catherynne Valente whom I hadn’t seen in person for a VERY long time so I stopped in for that, had a neat chat and quick catchup and then stayed for a dose of her inimitable amazing prose in her reading, and then read, for the audience that remained in the room after hers had cleared out, two things. One was one of the rare short stories that I wrote after Deck died, entitled “I will always have been yours”. And then, because I wanted to make them leave at least smiling, a very short excerpt from “AbductiCon”. The audience was not stellar but this was a worldcon and for a worldcon reading for the non-famous I was doing OK.
Then I met an online friend and his SO for dinner and we went out to this very nice Italian restaurant for a fab meal and a glass of chianti (I was told to eat pizza in Chicago and failing that to eat Italian – I didn’t manage the pizza but the Italian was indeed very very good).
Then I said hello again to my too soft/too hard bed, on day two, and that ends Part the First of this account. Please look for Part II imminently.