It’s over now. I’m at home after more adventures in airline travel than I really wanted. My tired body is planted in the chair, my aching feet are encased in comfy slippers, and my office is nice and quiet, soothing a spirit rattled by too much noise, too much partying, and too many new names and faces to absorb. I’m trying to assess the experience and here are some of my quick reactions.
1. My brain is still tired. I think my mind stalled out somewhere over Philadelphia and it hasn’t quite caught up with my body yet. Maybe you can tell since I started this on Tuesday and didn’t get it posted until Wednesday.
2. Airline travel sucks. The airline lost my reservation for the first leg of the return trip and had to re-route me. On the second leg of the trip, both coming AND going, the airplanes had mechanical issues that delayed my flights for several hours. Yes, I’m glad they’re concerned about my safety and I’d much rather wait than fly in an unsafe plane, but still. I was glad it happened on the second half of each trip so I didn’t have to deal with missing connections.
3. Airline employees can be amazingly nice. When she discovered the airline had screwed up my booking, the wonderful lady at the United ticket counter in Pittsburgh not only rebooked me on another airline, she helped me get all my baggage down to the other airline’s ticket counter at the other end of the terminal, helped them get the boarding passes reissued, and walked my suitcase over to security herself to be sure I would make it to onto the flight. I wish I’d caught her name so I could write a letter of recommendation to her employer.
4. The Conference is more than a bit overwhelming. So many people, so much noise, so many events, so little sleep, etc. It can get hard to be polite to everyone. At least that’s the excuse I was making for them, when I was snubbed by a couple of people I’ve known for a very long time. Fortunately I’ve long since learned to let things like that roll off me.
5. The program was incredibly hard to figure out. I mostly relied on others to tell me what was happening, when and where.
6. Many authors and publishers put out a lot of time, effort, and money to sponsor wonderful events for the conference. I regret that I couldn’t get to every one of them, but highlights for me were the EC Hollywood party (of course), the Intergalactic Bar and Grill, the Fairy Ball, and the Dorchester party.
7. I understand that some truly unsavory activities took place. I managed to miss most of those. I did see some things I considered tacky and more than a few that should have embarrassed the crap out of the participants. I had a Mr. Romance competitor who was younger than my own children put an arm around me and hug me close. Since I’m not comfortable being touched and hugged by perfect strangers, I didn’t care for it, but I realize he was doing what he probably thought was his job—try to flirt with as many convention goers as possible.
8. Food was okay but not spectacular. Most of my best meals were at restaurants outside the hotel. Of course, there I could actually carry on a conversation with my companions without having to shout myself hoarse. The hotel itself was a mess, but that’s been covered more than adequately elsewhere.
9. Was it fun? Hell, yes. I really enjoyed meeting so many people I’d corresponded with online and putting faces to names. I made new friends and re-connected with old friends. Most of the parties were great. Unlike most conventions, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the bar (a good thing since I hear it was packed all the time), but they had cash bars set up for most of the parties, so I could get all the overpriced drinks I wanted at those. The band at the Dorchester party was great. I had fun listening, dancing, eating soft pretzels and scoring a couple of free books I wanted into the bargain.
10. Will I go again? I’m not sure. It was a hugely expensive string of parties and I doubt the return on investment could possibly justify how much it cost. Maybe if it was someplace I could drive to, or in a place where I had family or friends living so I could combine it with a visit, it might be worth it.
- Karen McCullough