Slightly recovered, though I seem to be nursing a bit of a cold, and we're not even home yet. We've been totally lame, not going out and seeing any of the amazing things we wanted to, but you know what? Sometimes you just need to sit in a yard with strange cats and drink for a few hours. Especially before flying.
We'll get home late-ish tonight.
I have realized that I didn't take any pictures with my digital camera, so I'll be relying on those who did to post photographic evidence. I suppose I could do one of those little "con reports" though it feels like odd to me... But I'll try.
We got to D.C. early on Thursday, around 10 a.m., took the Metro into Union Station and from there to our hotel. We stayed across the street on Kelly and Gavin's hot tip from Jim Minz that it was far, far cheaper than the smelly, oddly designed Hyatt. Plus, it had a lava lamp-esquie lounge. The beds were actually comfy and it turned out to be a good choice (no waiting for elevators!), though Holiday Inn turns out to be challenged at dealing with credit cards in a non-annoying way. We tried to arrange our bountiful stuff so Kelly and Gavin would have room for their bountiful stuff then we took off in search of lunch and scenery. Christopher and George used to live in an apartment house across from the Supreme Court Building (back side, which is now inaccessible), so we went that way and I have to say I'm sad that we never managed to make it back over there. The Hill was filled with cool shops and restaurants -- and oh, I forgot to say that the weather was unbelievably beautiful the entire time. We had lunch, went to the Folger Shakespeare Library, which is wise enough to have hosted a Karen Joy Fowler reading when she was a PEN/Faulkner nominee, to see the Fakes and Forgeries exhibit -- very interesting and there's a good literary mystery novel out about just this kind of thing right now but the name of it keeps slipping my mind.
Then we went back to check in with the convention and ran into the lovely and brilliant Marcia and Ted (they are both lovely and brilliant), chatting with some people in the lobby (I remember Jenn Reese being there, but I was starting to get blurry around then and remember no one else's face). I decided to take a short nap, while Christopher took Marcia into parts of the Senate building they probably weren't supposed to be in to see a Calder statue and to kind of show her the museum grid.
Got up in time to go see our good buddy David B. Coe (as opposed to the scary country singer David Allan Coe, who apparently sells racist tapes on the gun show circuit as well as his major label releases (bad enough)) read, since he was one of the very first readings and is always fun to listen to. Of course, it was packed, because David writes as he puts it "Chihuahua-killing fantasy novels" for Tor. Note: David Coe does not endorse the killing of Chihuahuas with his books. Copperheads, yes (and hmmm, this brings up an interesting question apropos of a conversation you might have been present for but probably weren't -- even if you don't have a hoe, can't you use your big fat fantasies to take out a snake?); dogs, no.
Then we went to the bar and paid way, way, way too much for drinks. It was really quite insane. In the way that only drinking a 9.50 glass of wine from a 9.50 bottle of wine can be. Or a seven dollar beer. John Picacio stopped by to chat on his way up to work (I would tease here, but I've done that before and been mocked so I won't). Always good to hang out with him. His work just keeps getting better and better. You should search out the resurrected International Studio Spring 2003 magazine, which has a short portfolio of his work and was a freebie at the con. (It's by the same people who are doing Argosy, which also looks unbelievably awesome.)
Eventually, just as we were getting ready to wander away, Ellen Datlow and Rick Bowes showed up and joined us and Ellen introduced us to lots of cool people, including Allan Beatts from Borderland Books in San Francisco (who I wish I'd gotten to chat to more). Ellen Klages found a bank slip at the ATM for someone with $44,000 in their checking account (had to be Robert Jordan). More people showed up, and then it was dinner time.
Two more of our favorite people in the whole world, even moreso at the time because they were our dinner dates, showed up, Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld, and we formed a dinner posse with Gavin and Kelly, Ted, Rick Bowes, Chris Barzak (who arrived at some point and made us all very happy with his presence) and possibly someone else, though these things get hard to remember on Thursday, when I'd had very little sleep.
Kelly and Gavin had just shown up and given Christopher copies of his chapbook, "Bittersweet Creek," which looks absolutely gorgeous. We ran into Susan Groppi and Karen Meisner and hugged them, but then wouldn't see them again for what felt like two days. (Cons are too busy!)
We went to the Capitol City Brewing Company, and I ordered food I couldn't even eat because I was so wiped out. Christopher wants it noted that this was the first of many meals that would have been better were we willing to walk more than a block from the hotel. We went back to the hotel, had some expensive drinks at the bar, and ran into Alan and Kristin and then we all went to the Interstitial Arts party, or as Alan and I decided to call it, "Alcohol Without Borders." Really, if I wasn't sold on the whole Interstitial thing before, I am now. I'm easy -- good beer (in bottles), decent wine and great cake is enough in my book to not only justify but make relevant a movement. Long live the Interstices!
By this time we'd lost Ted and found Marcia. David Coe told us the hilarious copperhead biting daughter story, and Karen Vess (yay!) teased him about not having a hoe with which to kill the snake. See above. Got to chat with lots of people in the doorway to the bathroom/beer room -- the only good acoustics in the party suite -- and to see Charlie (and Karen) Vess, who are two of the best people you will ever be priveleged enough to meet, as well as meet some new people, whose names I can sadly not remember. Oh, and we got to see Kij, and make dinner plans with her and her hilarious husband Chris McKitterick.
We went back to our room, possibly after an interlude somewhere else we can't remember, and thought we'd woken up Kelly and Gavin but it turned out it was just Kelly and she didn't even hear us come in. Slept like the blessed.
The next morning, we got up sort of early, and Christopher and I met Ted and Marcia to go to the Phillips Collection over on Dupont Circle, to see the "Surrealism and Modernism" exhibit they have from the Atheneum in Connecticut. Wonderful exhibit, and Marcia is the absolute best kind of person to see paintings with, because she loves them, gets them and knows all about them in a way she can tell you. Beautiful paintings. We particularly loved the Klees, and also there was a wonderful Chagall. And an Edvard Munch that was all swirly pink.
A nice morning, then we visited a Borders where Christopher used to work, then back to the convention while Marcia went off to conquer more museums.
Mostly dealer's rooming in the afternoon, I think I went to half a panel on myth. Minz took some of us over to our hotel for a drink, and I came down in the yard sale coat Kelly had given me earlier that is beautiful or hideous depending upon whether you are American or Australian. Justine told me to take it off. Justine and I talked and drank, sometimes with Minz, sometimes not, and Ted and Christopher looked at the Alex Ross art book that Kelly gave Christopher earlier in the day. I hadn't eaten very much, again, and wanted pizza. So, we got together another dinner posse, Justine and Scott, Lawrence Schimel and Celia Tan, Barzak, Alan, and Ted and Marcia. I think. Again, this was in the Union Station area, but I was happy because I got to have greasy pizza. Christopher was disturbed to learn that Lawrence, though he lives in Madrid, couldn't express an educated preference between the ONCE and Euskatel bicycling teams. Fun dinner, Justine and I started talking about a nonfiction YA idea we may do together.
Went back to the hotel and meandered toward the mass signing. Realized I was insanely tired, around the same time Christopher did. We said hi to some people, wondered up to the Mythic Journeys party, where there was an ominous looking keyboard, then went to bed early. Yes, we're lame. No, we don't care.
Somewhere in all this, we got to talk to John Kessel, always a highlight of any day. Oh, and Andy and Sydney Duncan showed up, also always a highlight. (Actually, I'm not sure if Andy and Sydney arrived on Friday or Saturday. Again, blur.)
God, how do you people do these con reports? I want to jump out the fucking window so I don't have to try and reconstruct anymore.
Kelly, Christopher and Gavin got up early to have breakfast with an editor from Bantam, but ended up missing her. I leisurely got ready and went to the Dealer's Room, where the Small Beer table remained covered while I sat behind it and waited for people to show up with essentials like a money box and a tally sheet. I talked to John Joseph Adams, because the F and SF table was right next to Small Beer's, and bought the only F and SF we seem to be missing, which has "The Essayist in the Wilderness" in it.
People showed up.
Christopher went to Jeff Ford's reading at noon -- this was when I actually went to the half panel on myth that I mentioned earlier. I found out I will probably never write a book set in a completely different culture because you have to immerse in it for up to six years before you can do it properly. Andy Duncan was shocked when I told him this later, and will now have to move back to North Carolina if he's going to write a book set there.
Alex and Beth Irvine showed up actually the day before, but I forgot to put that in here. We had some drinks in the bar with him, and wished we had enough time to go watch his cutest kids in the world trick or treat in Alexandria. JPPN 2 turned out to be delayed due to unforeseeable circumstances.
We went to the slipstream panel, right at the end of it. Interesting stuff, and another place for interstitial to be plugged. Then it was time to go get changed for the small press party arranged by Mike Jasper later in the night and go to the Strange Horizons Tea Party.
I found out Lisa Snellings was around this day, but never managed to be able to catch up with her, because she was staying with friends in town and never showed up when I was looking for her. I'm still very sad about this, as I haven't seen Lisa in three years.
The Strange Horizons Tea Party was fun, except for this weird guy who was just some person hanging in the Con Suite before the party started, that was really concerned about my and Christopher karma. Blech.
There were lots of zeppelins floating around the SH party and Susan Groppi was letting people kiss her ring, but only if they donated enough money to Strange Horizons first. She is quite the power mad editrix now, but not really.
We left to let Gavin come up to the party, but met him on the way and he'd already been relieved by Kristin and Kelly. Barzak, Alan and posse had a bottle of single malt, so we started drinking that. Coincidentally, Charlie Vess showed up around then. Dave Truesdale was discussed with various contingents, and Gordon Van Gelder took his part, saying the field needs more combative people. I stuck with my view, which is that anyone who thinks Karen Fowler's work is overrated is an idiot. (No offense.)
Then we had dinner with Kij and Chris, and the rest of the normal dinner posse (divided tables too often this time) -- Christopher got talked into doing the Tom Bombadil rap for the tables, which is truly not to be missed and would lead to an 8-Mile esque moment later in the evening after his reading at the small press party, when the room began to chant, "Bombadil, Bombadil" until he agreed to come back and do it again. The people who didn't know what they were asking for were quite scared. Kij and Christopher came up with some great names for eighties bands, that are lost to the sands of beer and time.
Back to the small press party, where there was a glass shortage, and we had champagne -- Alan from his nametag holder. Hung out, chatted, various readings. Very fun. Then we all left to go to John Kessel's brilliant reading downstairs. People will tell you that I came up with a high concept in the elevator, but it isn't true. Blow jobs really can't resuscitate old dead men, even if they're given by well-meaning young girls.
Then, Tor party, which had good booze and was great fun all around. Got to talk to Merrilee for a long time while she planned my future wedding to Christopher in a way that only she could do without being offensive. (There is no actual wedding planned, unless Merrilee has put something in motion.) Andy Duncan thinks we're married already. So there.
Lots of people at Tor party, much fun. I went to bed fairly early, thus not incriminating myself by playing the SF Slut Game.
Sunday. My roomies got up and went to breakfast with the editor they missed the day before. I repeated my pattern, of leisurely shower and yogurt and juice. Went to Chris Barzak's reading, which I didn't get to tell him how much I enjoyed -- great reading and I loved the chapter. Dealer's room. Talking to hungover, tired people. Eating bad Japanese candy. Went to awards, which were good this year and I've already talked about. I will say there was a lot of bitterness toward J.K. Rowling in the room for some odd reason.
Then, saying goodbye to people still left, up to Union Station for food and ice cream. We saw Rick Bowes last, on his way to the train (Barzak's right, he should have a sitcom). Christopher's friend Russ came and picked us up and we revived, a little, speeding out of con-land. We had wine and different conversations, ditto last night and today we go home.
This is exhausting all over again, and I'll never try to do this again. If I forgot to drop your name, I'm sorry. I really like you anyway! I promise! Ben Rosenbaum is a nice guy and can draw really good! Jason Erik Lundberg has a talented girlfriend and is a good reader! John Klima is too clever for his own good and bought a story off Christopher! Tom Doyle's very interesting! Neile Graham is excellently fun to talk about writing with! Dora Goss coordinates a good party! Holly Black has beautiful hair, but I didn't get to chat with her! And you, you were awesome!