Stef (firecat) wrote,

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alt.polycon 9 report

Disclaimer 1: The following contains and/or implies no slights, snubs, puns, or subtextual snarkiness. It would be unlikely that one could, by reading this, form reliable opinions about my opinions and feelings other than those expressed directly herein. I generally respond honestly to direct questions.

Disclaimer 2: You'll notice it gets more and more vague as it goes on, partly because I wrote the later parts later and forgot more things, partly because my memory is particularly bad at keeping track of a lot of things going on at once, partly because I am not that great at remembering people I haven't interacted with a lot.

Disclaimer 3: I missed some folks' LJ names.

The OH and I set off for the airport around 9 am on Wednesday. Our flight wasn't full, so we got a row of 3 seats to ourselves (the agent issuing our boarding passes even *asked* if we wanted to move!). It was in the back of the plane, though, and very loud. Reminder to myself to bring earplugs the next time I fly, as most airlines are not Virgin and don't provide them. (I Virgin.) I had been warned that United had armrests that don't go up all the way, but that proved untrue on this plane. I took the window seat for a change, and liked it - easier for me to sit in various positions and avoid back trouble.

Our flight was as smooth as could be expected. The one annoying feature was that they showed the movie Signs, which we haven't seen yet and want to - well, we certainly didn't want to try listening to it on those execrable airline headphones, but we also didn't want spoilers, but we couldn't avoid looking up at the screen every now and then. Fortunately, nothing much was spoiled by doing so.

Upon arriving at Logan's baggage claim, we ran into treacle_well, who was there to pick up australian_joe. Excited hugs were exchanged. We had very good transportation luck - there was a Shuttle King shuttle waiting right in front of the door as soon as we made a reservation and we got the two-person rate of $35. We were the only folks in the shuttle, and the driver offered us lots of commentary on the byzantine construction going on around Logan, pointing out many of the ventilation towers that were associated with the (Callahan?) tunnel we went through to get out of Logan. When he found out what hotel we were staying at, and the price our hotel liaison had managed to get us for the rooms, he was very impressed. (Thank you, hotel liaisons!)

We were impressed by the hotel when we arrived - everything was very spacious and artful. Our room was spacious too, and I was delighted to discover down blankets and pillows. Of course the provided robe didn't fit me, though. We went down to the restaurant for dinner. I was taken aback by the prices, super-impressed by the bread (a trend that continued throughout the weekend), and pleased by my pasta dish. We ordered desserts and didn't much like them - the OH commented that the pastry chef liked to cook "dry". And I was cranky that the waiter didn't bother to refill my water glass (a trend that also continued throughout the weekend).

We wandered around the hotel separately, and I made a visit to the impressive workout room and even more impressive hot tub (which I never was able to visit again, sadly, because of...well, that's TMI). Then we went back to our room and unpacked. I fell asleep reading David Brin's _Uplift War_ (one of my current projects is to read all the Hugo and Nebula winners that I haven't read yet), which I highly recommend.

Thursday morning we betook ourselves downstairs and waited for treacle_well to arrive (she'd promised us a Takeout Taxi menu and this provided an ideal excuse for our having breakfast together). We ate at the hotel restaurant again (I thought the name Seventy @ Third was kind of dorky) and I was pleased by the buffet - there was actual crispy bacon! - but alas, the Starbucks didn't register as coffee to my brain.

We went back to the room and logged on and relaxed for a bit, and soon it was time for our second date of the day, with D, a net.friend of ours for somewhere around a decade, whom we'd never met in person before. D had planned to take us to the Naked Fish restaurant, but when she arrived, she wanted to eat at the hotel restaurant instead because she had only gotten her driver's license a couple of weeks before and wasn't liking negotiating all the construction on the street. I had fish & chips and wished the fish had been more crispy and the waitress had refilled my drink at least once (the hotel had no soda machines, the soda in the in-room honor-bar was way overpriced, and I was experiencing diet cola withdrawl). The chips and sauce were good, though. D was really cute and funny and I wanted to follow her home and meet her family. I hope I get to see her again sometime soon.

Back to the room. Somewhere in here, mittelweg phoned, and we made plans to meet up with her, jodawi, and epiphany_69 in the evening.

Mid-afternoon, I was feeling very nappy, and the OH went downstairs to meet our third date - A and D. A and D used to live in the Bay Area. Those who have been reading alt.poly for many years may remember that soon after A and D got together, A posted the following:

I think that might well have been his last post. (But I'm too lazy to dejagoogle it.)

A and D are living in cooperative housing - a set of condos that was planned and built as intentional community over a period of 9 years. We talked a lot about that, and I was very impressed by their report about the tolerance for diversity in their housing coop. (I've felt leery about some of the coop housing folks in the Bay Area because they've seemed less interested in diversity and more interested in finding people with fairly similar lifestyles.) They seemed happy and busy and gainfully employed. I wished that D and I had been able to talk more about her new interest in making mosaic art.

After they left, the OH and I ordered something from Takeout Taxi. That didn't go so well, because what we originally ordered wasn't available, and the delivery person didn't come up to our room as we had been led to expect, and the food was not as good as we'd hoped. But they did bring me a six-pack of diet cola, so I had my addiction taken care of!

Soon mittelweg, jodawi, and epiphany_69 showed up. They'd been doing stuff in Boston all day so they were tired and hungry, and (you guessed it) we went back down to the hotel restaurant. We ran into Maureen in the lounge and she joined us. Maureen was annoyed that the all-but-frozen butter wasn't wrapped in a package, so she couldn't put it down her cleavage to warm it up. (I was annoyed too.) I had a cappuccino - normally I find cappuccino too strong, but with Starbucks it tasted more or less like regular coffee to me.

At dinner, I gave mittelweg, jodawi, and epiphany_69 the gifties I'd brought for them - a tiny rubber water buffalo, a tiny rubber rhea (well, some kind of flightless bird, anyway), and a Fimo salamander. These were earnestly played with throughout dinner, which delighted me.

After dinner was sleepytime.

On Friday morning I was feeling pretty cranky. Normally after I fly someplace I need a day to more or less do nothing, and Thursday had involved more socializing than was ideal for me (tho' it was wonderful to hang out with everyone). The OH and I ate at the hotel restaurant again. They were very slow bringing my coffee, and when they brought it, it was in a container with an orange dot, so I thought it was decaf, and I barked at one of the servers to bring me regular. When he did so, the server who had brought it the first time barked at him and said no, no, it *was* regular, just in an orange-dot pot.

Susan R joined us after we'd mostly finished breakfast. I'd not met her before but I took an instant liking to her which grew throughout the con.

Maureen came over too and offered to take me shopping later in the morning so I could buy some things I needed (including more diet cola). The four of us hung out and talked for a while.

Before leaving with Maureen for shopping, I ran into songbird in the lounge. I hadn't seen him in about 7-8 years, and I'm glad he recognized me, because I didn't quite recognize him. We hugged and talked about the biography of Tagore he was reading. I need to read more Tagore, as a couple of my favorite quotes are from him, and the biography quoted a few more lines that I really liked.

Maureen, Susan R, and I went out to find stuff. Maureen took a seat-of-the-pants approach to finding. We ended up driving quite some way on a two-lane road, through some very pretty autumn-in-New England scenery, and eventually reached Concord, I think it was. It was a tourist shopping area and didn't have a pharmacy, but we picked up some of our supplies at a liquor store, and the cashier directed us down the correct road for a pharmacy, where we got the rest. Fortunately for Susan we did not stop at the used bookstore, so she didn't have to suffer the ignominy of bringing back more books than the books she had brought to the con to get rid of.

I seem to recall that the OH and I ate lunch in the hotel restaurant again, but I don't remember what I had.

Around two, the OH and I headed to registration. I got my badge from tendyl and hung around while people showed up, including xiphias and cheshyre, rmjwell, australian_joe, angilong and charlesks, Tal, songbird (and I'm sure I'm forgetting a number of people). People said xiphias looked like the OH but I didn't quite see the resemblance - their body language seems different.

After a while I needed some down time, so I went back to my room until it was time for the Introductions panel.

We all introduced ourselves, and Bearpaw's champion treacle_well repeated back all the names, so efficiently that the panel finished early. porcinea, Susan R, and I went to the craft room to set up. porcinea had already brought in an enormous selection of supplies for beading, collage, origami, tatting, and so on. We created a list of supplies available and a sheet where people could sign up and admit to being capable of teaching something.

The OH and I decided to join the party of folks who were heading to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner, so we piled into futabachan's SUV (described by Ldot as "looking just like a Tonka truck") with futabachan, Ldot, bcholmes, and angilong. As you've no doubt heard by now, we proceeded to get lost and wound up eating at a Greek restaurant instead (which was just fine with me - I'd been missing really good cheap Greek food ever since I moved to the West coast), then we got lost on the way back too...poor futabachan and Ldot! futabachan was playing some very interesting entertainment on the way, so I got to hear the Buffy musical (I have never seen a Buffy episode, so it was fairly obscure to me) and a Canadian comedy group called, I think, The Vestibules. I especially liked their "gazebo" number and I howled with helpless laughter over the "talking cat" number because it reminded me so much of rock'n'roll fandom, which I spent a lot of time amidst and obsessed with earlier in the year.

(This is where my brain starts fuzzing out.) What did I do after we returned? Oh, I went to the con suite to decorate my badge. I had some trouble finding all the stickers and stamps I needed, but I managed to specify the number of sweeties I have (4), my "looking?" status, the number of alt.polycons I'd attended (7), and my participation in dot_cattiness and I tried to put a "shy" stamp on the badge, but the stamp had become worn out, so I declared a "fish" sticker to mean "shy" too. I didn't put a LiveJournal sticker on my badge because I was wearing a separate LiveJournal badge that I acquired from johno at WorldCon. I was also wearing a button that said Hugs Welcome, so I didn't need that particular stamp.

After badging, I talked with Ian H for a bit, then hung out with kalmn, porcinea, redbird, et al. in the quieter room of the con suite. kalmn was crocheting something. I'm just learning crochet (yes, I know, I was just learning crochet at APC7 too. I'm slow about some things) and I was really impressed by her talent.

I tottered off to bed around 11 or midnight.

On Saturday the OH and I got up early because I was on a 10:00 am panel, "Poly for Introverts." I was infinitely grateful to the con suite goddesses for providing real dark roast coffee and real half'n'half. Because of that, I was fairly awake for the panel (although not awake enough to remember that it started at 10:00; I was busy adding more stickers and stamps to my badge, including an indeterminate large number of "tocotox" stamps - because how can you actually know how many tocotoxen you have? - when rivka gently nudged me out the door). That, plus the fact that being on panels is not one of the things that makes me feel shy, probably had something to do with my more or less "taking over" the panel, for which I apologize to my fellow panelists. I was glad that I encouraged everyone to speak in turn because I heard from people I didn't hear from at any other panels. And I was fascinated by all the different kinds of shy / introverted / etc. there were, and all the different ways of handling it. This kind of diversity and willingness to talk about internal states are things I absolutely love about the alt.poly community.

I'd been planning to attend the Renaissance dance workshop, but my foot was bothering me, so I went to the craft room instead. I sat with redbird and cattitude and someone whose name I'm embarrassed to admit I don't remember. They were beading and I was working on learning my basic crochet stitches.

Folks began filtering back into the craft room from the dance workshop, and the OH rang my cell phone, thus allowing me to show off that it came with a "Ride of the Valkyrie" ring-tone. I headed upstairs for a lunchtime conversation with Bernadette, Arthur, Kevin, Ian H, and others. I lounged in the very comfy camp chair with footrest. I was delighted to hear how well the menage-a-rie were doing, and sorry they weren't allowed to bring their rat. (But the puppet substitute was cute.) I wish I got to hang out with them more often.

After lunch, it was off to the "OSO Etiquette" panel. I'm afraid I don't remember much of it.

After that, there was an hour or so to kill, and I thought of going to the craft room, but I wound up going back to my room instead and crocheting in total silence. Just what I needed.

I headed down to the "I can't stand my sweetie's sweetie" panel afterward, but I wasn't getting into it, so I went to the craft room. I crocheted and had a great chat with Peggy. Then jinian showed up, so I asked her to teach me how to do Byzantine chain. My fellow students were cattitude and Wim. jinian was a superb teacher, and I remembered how much nicer it is to work on wire with good tools (I tend to try to make do with fewer tools than I need, and then I get frustrated and feel incompetent). I had to head off to dinner before I managed the hard part of the chain-making (threading rings through several other partially obscured rings).

Dinner was at The Naked Fish. Maureen drove me, the OH, and Susan R over there. Eventually, other members of the party showed up, including redbird, wandra, the_maenad, and some folks whose names I've sadly forgotten. Our server had laryngitis and I kept wanting to wrap her up in blankets and send her home to bed. She did a pretty good job of serving 10 of us, so I left an extra tip even though the restaurant had added on an 18% service charge. I had swordfish, which was well cooked, but the sauce wasn't quite what I had hoped for. Guess I should have had it "naked."

We got back in time for the Poly & Disabilities panel. The most interesting part of that panel for me was the point where rivka asked us to indicate whether we considered ourselves disabled. I waved my hand back and forth because I only identify that way sometimes. I explained my reasoning, and I got the impression that some folks disagreed with my reasoning and maybe felt that I would be better off identifying as disabled. I never did follow up on this impression, though.

I poked my head in the craft room after that, and it was so full that there was almost no place to sit. I was pleased and also a little wistful - it felt a bit as if the craft room were a victim of its own success! I went up to the con suite. Didn't really feel at home there, either. Considered hot-tubbing, but changed my mind. Wound up sitting in my room doing more crochet. Hey, I'm really getting the hang of it now!

Eventually I did go back up to the con suite. I think I was sitting on the couch with jodawi and epiphany_69. serenejournal sat with me for a while, then we went out into the hall to talk privately. The OH came along and reminded us that talking in the hall probably wasn't a good idea (might be noisy for other guests). We all went to my room for a bit. Then serenejournal went off to bed, having arranged to meet us in the con suite the next morning, and the OH and I went to bed.

Sunday we got up on the lateish side for us and headed to the con suite for a snack before brunch and to hook up with serenejournal. Dragged her back to our room; the three of us talked for a bit, then the OH went back to the con suite, and the two of us talked for a while more. serenejournal went off to pack, I went back to the con suite, grumpy because the OH and I had had a bit of a tiff in front of serenejournal, and dragged him back to the room to whine at him. He was very gracious and patient about this (*smooch*). We went back to the con suite again after that. Shortly someone came in to announce that brunch had been set up in a different place than we'd thought it was going to be, and early. So everyone in the con suite piled into the elevators and headed down to brunch. Where we waited until the appointed time, so that the vegans and people with food allergies and vegetarians could get their food first (eminently fair).

Brunch was delicious, especially the concentrated-essence-of-chocolateness "fallen souffle." After I ate, I walked around chatting with some people I hadn't spent much time with during the rest of the con, including rosefox, and brian1789 and patgreene. Then I headed into the craft room to pick up my books. porcinea and I spent some time working on Byzantine chain, and I figured out the tricky part. The OH came in with lcohen and Ayana, who were visiting briefly and being introduced to all and sundry, and I collected some more good hugs.

Next up was the Love Gets Glasses panel. I was impressed by a lot of stuff that Ben said. The panelists did a great job - this and the panels it spun off from strike me as particularly hard panels to run, because of the vulnerable subject matter.

And after that was the Old Relationship Energy panel, which I was on along with wcg, Bearpaw, and Lisa. Definitely a great panel to end the con with. I came away from it with a better sense that my own sweetieships (all long-term) are on solid footing. I really enjoyed the energy between Bearpaw and Lisa, and the wisdom offered by wcg and pagawne.

I had been sitting way too long by this point. Said goodbye to kalmn, went up to the con suite, snacked, talked with pagawne for a bit. porcinea and I hung out in her room for a while. Then we went downstairs to start cleaning up the craft room. I loved the way it looked -- beads and paper scattered everywhere, the signs of a bunch of folks having a really good time playing and making stuff. (Sadly, some tools hadn't been put back as requested, and so it was hard to determine their owners.)

I brought the orphan objects d'craft that looked finished up to the con suite, hoping folks would claim them. The dinner plan was for mittelweg, jodawi, angilong and charlesks, nex0s, and the OH and me (did I forget anyone?) to go out somewhere nearby. That got put on hold when teal7 phoned the con suite. At first folks were having trouble hearing her, and finally we discovered that shutting one person at a time into the kitchen was the best way to talk with her. nex0s, angilong, and mittelweg all talked with her for a while. In the meantime, we'd decided to do Takeout Taxi instead of going out. Everyone put in their orders and the OH and jodawi went down to the lobby to play fetch.

Had good conversation with charlesks & others. When food arrived, ate part of a calzone the size of a small planet. Watched jinian and mittelweg make crowns out of a box of colored packing popcorn. It was the dissolvable kind made out of starch, and apparently if you just dampened it, bits would stick together firmly.

I hung in the con suite until some other folks returned from dinner and decided to watch some videos. I was feeling too fried to watch videos, so the OH and I went back to our room and crashed.

On Monday morning, we had breakfast with the charming Selki, and grilled her about her upcoming trip. She graciously offered to drive us to the airport. We went back to our room to pack, and mittelweg showed up for a chat. The three of us did lunch (at the hotel restaurant again), then the OH and I finished packing and headed downstairs. Said goodbye to jinian, jodawi, and mittelweg. Headed off to the airport with Selki, who expertly negotiated the scary Boston traffic and got us there with lots of time to spare.


Other random nonchronological memories:

  • One good hug with rosefox.
  • Constantly missing spending time with songbird because I was always leaving someplace as he was arriving and vice versa.
  • Giving serenejournal her giftie (a tiny rubber creature that I was calling a wombat, although I suspect it might have been a hedgehog or porcupine).
  • serenejournal giving me my giftie, a lovely origami ball she made in the craft room.
  • Thinking redbird looks really buff.
  • Thinking Suzanne (and several other people) had some really cool outfits.
  • Failing to introduce myself to pixel.
  • Thinking nex0s in her clubbing clothes could substitute for coffee in the morning.
  • Susan R graciously disentangling herself from the OH when I showed up in the con suite in a grouchy mood.
  • angilong wrapped up in using the computer in the con suite.
  • Frequent little touches on the hand from mittelweg.
  • epiphany_69 threatening to bring me tiny cakes.
  • The beautiful con suite goddess, whose name I've forgotten, tirelessly working to tidy up on Sunday night while a bunch of us sat around jawing and stuffing our faces.
  • My first Tim Tam (I didn't do the sucking coffee trick, though).
  • A generous offer from pagawne.
  • Watching mittelweg give a backrub to xiphias and feeling envious of both of them.
  • Pinkee in her robe and fuzzy slippers.
  • Sushi pajamas!
  • Missing Jennie.
  • Stefanie's toddler at the Sunday brunch, walking, trying to walk faster, falling, and deciding that the fastest method for now was crawling.
  • Giving bcholmes a stealth happy birthday wish.
  • Maureen and rmjwell not-announcing alt.polycon 11.
  • Feeling too shy to ask charlesks if I could hug him.
  • Being told that Peggy is so cute she should be illegal.
  • A conversation in the craft room about obsessive sorting behavior.
  • Thinking teddywolf was cute.
  • Yummy fudge.
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