Worldcon 2019: Scribblings

I almost didn’t go. At some point in 2019 the Dublin government quite understandably put in some new regulations on AirBnBs in Dublin. I was one of many people unceremoniously booted from their reservations. I had at this point bought a full membership but not booked plane tickets. I was also going solo, and going through some personal stuff, and just thinking about Worldcon made me want to curl up in a ball. And so staring at the cancelled booking I thought, well, that’s a sign …

… and then I got the acceptance email from Escape Pod, which was both my first pro sale and my first sale of any kind in years, and I thought, that’s a bigger sign! (It was.)

So I booked new accommodations and Swiss Air tickets*, and I am super glad that I went. I had a fantastic time!

I attended with the mindset of “I’m here to make new friends” which is sometimes tough because I am an introvert, but one thing that helped me be quite social the entire time is that I had just come off two solid, exhausting weeks of stay-at-home-parentdom and I was DYING for grown-up conversation.

I arrived later Thursday afternoon and after registering, I wandered around the Convention Centre Dublin feeling quite lost–I had made a few plans to meet people but they were all for Friday or later–and then I remembered that SFWA had a reception going on. Which I only knew about/could attend because the Escape Pod sale qualified me for membership. (A sign.)

I later heard that past receptions weren’t always so well attended but this one was great. There was finger food (awesome because I hadn’t eaten for hours), free drinks with and without alcohol (I had two glasses of red wine and some water), and a good number of people. Some of whom are now Facebook friends! I also met some people I had only seen before on Twitter and they turned out to be awesome. All of them. I personally didn’t meet a single jerk at Worldcon.

After the reception and an impromptu dinner off-site, those with more energy and perhaps more jet lag returned to CCD, but I went to my accommodations (I got a dorm room at Hashtag Dublin), did some barre exercises while hanging on to my windowsill, and then slept quite well. It turns out it’s lovely to travel close to your time zone.

Friday afternoon I attended a live Escape Pod recording, which was really cool to experience. I also met the narrator of my story! After that I met some friends in the hotel bar. This was awesome not only because the bar had IPAs, which I have been missing really hard living in Lager Land, but because they introduced me to some more awesome people. I meant to hit a 3 PM panel on neuroscience but, ah, was too busy talking, oops. I made plans with a new Codex acquaintance (also was able to join Codex because of the sale–a sign), to get dinner. We later walked back to the CCD together where she attended the concert, and I went back to my hotel room to do more barre and rest up.

Saturday morning began with the Codex breakfast meetup. I had woken up pretty early and already eaten so I just brought coffee and chatted with loads of awesome people. Then I went to Ballet Áthas for a wonderful adult beginner ballet lesson–more on that in a separate post. After that I tried to get lunch with others but had missed the boat because it was already 2:30 pm. Understandable. I ate a chocolate muffin and then went to a panel on going from fandom to prodom (featuring a hilarious story about a BBC interview) followed by a panel on tales from the laboratory (featuring too many hilarious stories to count but my favorite was the “Johnson’s Leap” at the Observatory). It also reminded me to finish reading “Excuse Me, Sir, Would You Like To Buy A Kilo Of Isopropyl Bromide?” (free pdf featuring absolutely hair-raising stories about chemistry in the pre-EPA/OSHA days, told by a very funny narrator, although beware period attitudes toward women)

I tried to hunt down dinner after that but forgot Dublin is in Europe, so everything closed at 5. With M I was able to hunt down some pita pockets at a convenience store near The Point. We ate on the way back to the CCD where I attended one reading and M attended at least two. I was fortunate enough to chat with the author afterwards.

I then went back to my room to prep for leaving early Sunday morning. I planned to take a bus to the airport, I was out of cash, and I hadn’t bought an extra Leap Visitor Pass. So I went to an ATM … to find that I hadn’t brought my debit card. (I’d been using credit card this whole time.) After a brief panic, I then went to buy a Leap card and loaded it up with 15 euros using my credit card. Feeling good about myself, I went to sleep.

The next day, the bus DID NOT COME. I huddled with 7 other people waiting and waiting … and then a random bus whose number was not on the bus stand showed up. We shrugged and went in. And I found out they did not take Leap cards. And I had no cash. They only took contactless cards–very fortunately, I had my shiny new Swiss credit card on me, so I made it to the airport. I had no problems flying home, in apparent contrast to TONS of people.

This was my second Worldcon and I spent most of it thinking “ah, this is why people go to conventions, I must do more of these …” We’ll see what the budget has room for. But right now, I am just grateful for the wonderful experience that Worldcon 2019 was.

I was too busy unpacking to stream the awards when I returned but it was so awesome to wake up to see the news. So many congratulations to all the winners, but of course I have a special spot in my heart for the AO3 win, because I am one of the many people who sharpened their skills in fanfic before making the leap. But that’s a story for another day.

* Have I mentioned that I moved to Zürich in August, which is one of the many reasons that things are in disarray in my life? And my apartment?

Midsummer Review

Wow it’s been a while since my last post. Let’s catch up.

Dance: still doing ballet, although I’m taking a few months off classes so I can condition. Working a lot on turnout, so literally every day I just do slow plies in second – 20 in the morning, 20 in the evening. Interspersed with single leg raises to strengthen ankles and practice balance. It sucks, and progress is glacial, but it exists. I’m also learning to DIY some massage to relieve tight muscles and unlock more turnout.

Writing: miraculously, there’s been some. Finished yet another revision to draft 1, almost done with draft 2, and made inroads on draft 3 (which was commissioned). Restarted outlining of the novel that won’t die, and further than before. Just need to decide how the Final Confrontation shakes down.

Bean: Getting bigger, funnier, and more stubborn by the day. Now potty-trained!

Other: I took a wonderful* vacation last month! London, Amsterdam, and a handful of cities in Germany. I was feeling very burned out and also stuck on my personal writing. One day in a London hotel shook something loose and I came back with 8k more words than I’d left with. (They’re fic, but that’s fine.) I walked everywhere, drank delicious beer, did not eat nearly enough Nordsee, and somehow muddled through Germany without a single person trying to talk to me in English. There were a few points in Saarland, most notably in a Vapiano**, where I later realized I should have used my French, which while not fluent is WAY better than my German. Oh well!

* The one fly in the ointment was getting TOTALLY screwed by not realizing that Eurostar is basically a small airport, not your usual train station. Long story short, I missed my train to Amsterdam, which was the last train out that night, and I was stuck in London. Fortunately, a friend is in London and after she was finished laughing at me, she let me buy her dinner and crash on her couch. I did waste one night at a very nice hotel in Amsterdam, but hey, more time with your friends is priceless.

** I had a HORRIBLE time ordering my food and was wondering if my German*** had truly been that bad. Then the girl after me ordered in rapid fire French and my server/cook responded similarly. So I won’t blame it on myself that time. But man. I could have saved us both so much stress with a je voudrais instead of ich möchte!

*** “Kara why are you learning German” I’m not. Husband speaks German to Bean, and I’m picking it up from sheer osmosis. My vocabulary is mostly suited to working at a daycare, but Bean is quite into demanding food, so I know how to order a meal … more politely than she does.

Worldcon Ho!

I bought a membership to Worldcon 2017 when they first became available, but I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to actually go. This is not a blog about finances, but it would misleading not to acknowledge that it imposes choices. I went through a very sudden, very expensive move in October-November 2016, and wasn’t sure whether I felt Worldcon was still worth it after the dust (and the books) settled from that.

I was still waffling until last week when a close friend, who is not generally given to Acts of Carpe Diem, announced that he was going to climb freaking Kilimanjaro next month. I’ve never been one to give in to peer pressure, but that was a challenge I couldn’t entirely ignore. Also, I’ve been feeling a bit in a rut lately, and this was a kick that I needed.

So I made some spreadsheets and then decided to go for it. Aside from the excitement and opportunities of Worldcon, I just want to see Helsinki! I also have very probably unrealistic dreams of doing some light hiking with my DSLR in tow.