A month and a bit later: reviewed impressions.
In the day before the meet, I make all of my last-minute travel arrangements - tickets, insurance, rendezvous connections. (Why'd I wait so long? At the end of November my bank pulled a cruel surprise and held the cheque I needed for 20 working days - just before January - so I didn't know if I'd be eating in December, let alone crossing international borders. But I'm glad I did.) Later that night, I discover that a) the information on my Greyhound tickets conflicts with the trip schedule I planned and paid for, so all of my arrangements - people can't meet me at the bus station if I don't know when I'm going to be there 8) - are suddenly on shaky ground. I also find that I may be turned back at the border without enough money on me for hotels and whatnot over the course of my stay, even though I plan to use no such resources.
It snows that night before, soft and thick. In the morning
of the trip and the meet, Vancouver is ankle-deep in freezing slush. Thinking that wet feet would be an inauspicious start to a 12-hour bus ride and night of riotous indulgence, but lacking waterproof footgear, I introduce a Hobo Deleuxe plastic bag layer between my socks and shoes which is later the subject of much curiosity. En route to the station, early, so I can figure out if I'm supposed to be there on the time on the ticket or on the time I was supposed to be, I duck into a bank and avail myself of ~$100 in US currency, at that time all my liquid assets in the world. I might not have been getting Christmas presents for anyone that year, but at least I'd be able to live high on the hog for a single night!
The ticket situation is artlessly resolved: ignore the times on the tickets. Feh? I found this doubly odd since the times on my return tickets did have the correct information on them, but as I clomped on to the bus with my bag full of moral support (contents virtually unused over the night) the tickets worked well enough.
A volume of Charles Bukowski stories is consumed along the first wing of the trip. Customs is uneventful, and I am in Seattle. Seattle's bus depot is not as nice as Vancouver's. There are fewer places to sit, and they all smell like urine. I contemplate playing a video game in the arcade there, but am dissuaded by the grim accuracy of the pint-sized 0wners of the Lethal Enforcers shooting-range cabinet. A chill passes over me and I get my first sensation of being close to home geographically, but Far in a cultural sense. People here know how to shoot.
I gratefully board my connecting bus. Stops are made in insignificant Washington burgs, and I get out at the one my hosts happen to dwell within. The Olympia bus depot is like a dollar pizza store without the pizza. I call prole and manage to pronounce her name right the first try! Fortunately she's at home - that phone number was my one link to civilization in the otherwise bleak wasteland of the State capitol. Yes, I'm here and... yes, Olympia... no, why would I be in Seattle? ... Why was flamingweasel sent to Seattle to pick me up? Unable to wrap my head around the wreckage of a well-organized convention, my gracious host picks me up in her roommate's car. Or something.
Small talk, waiting for people to arrive.
who showed up?
Is anyone else showing up? I don't know. Is anyone else showing up? I don't know. Is anyone else showing up? I'm hungry. Well then... to the world-famous Ribeye
I never before realized how wrong Canada had the whole diner concept. An American menu and, more to the point, American portion sizes are essential elements. You can't get fries in troughs up North. Schmoe perfects his not-on-the-menu order. I don't get my cheese fries; a reason to return, I suppose. Eyes widen when I order dessert (because hey - there's just something not right about hot grease without cold fat.) Upon its completion I feel a bit like Napoleon in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure but sit content that I've taught my compatriots a thing or two about eating.
Someone's jacket is hidden. The profusion of lottery tickets disturbs me - I thought this was a restaurant, not a casino? Relatively spherical, my new state inspires the next activity; roller skating. Do you know how to get to the skating arena? Of course I know how to get there... Are you sure?
Once we're en route, we discover that no one actually does know how to get there. Somehow, we do.
In the only possible appropriate followup to its miraculous location, we find that skating ends in 20 minutes. We could get in, but it would be at full price. So, next activity?
Back to the house! There follow three activities whose order I may have mixed up somewhat.
- Renfield. What are the chances of my getting all three 17s in the deck in a single hand? You must eat at least one bug. You must eat at least one bug. How many bugs? One. At least. I don't think I lose, but I'm too busy trying not to accidentally break too many rules to apply myself to winning. Temporary bug tattoos are issued with a permanent marker to embed this event in our skin forever.
- Hide and go seek! In sub-zero temperatures. A one-block radius doesn't seem out of reason, but as with their food servings, these crazy Americans don't do anything half-assed. 20 minutes of walking takes me to the end of the block, from which distant vantage point I can almost see the lights at the intersection, "one block" away. When the hidden is found, the seeker joins them in their hiding place, but when it takes 15 minutes of searching to find a seeker who isn't trying to be difficult to find, the absence of a seeker isn't tremendously noticeable. The block is all private property. It's cold. I'm tired and there are wolves after me. I'd like to go back into prole's house, but a) it's locked and b) I'm not sure I can locate it in its row of dwellings. I thought this was a bad idea, and now I know it is. Eventually I locate another seeker, and another, and we attain a concensus (of those present) to return to the house. Except of course we can't find the hider to let them know. Eventually the well-concealed Schmoe and his sole unearther return, puzzled, shivering and triumphant, if somewhat pissed off.
- Mod Fuck Explosion! Fields of meat, indeed. The film manages to accurately capture adolescence in the sense of every aspect of it being frustrating and incomprehensible for unclear reasons; there are consistent characters and situations, but one never understands what they are doing or why.
We were going to write a node, weren't we? Wasn't there a computer lab involved somewhere? Well past midnight now, we pile into vehicles again (with a rousing rendition of the Soy chant led by Dialogue as feelings of Everythingian fraternity overtake us) and emerge to the deserted, but immaculate, campus of the Evergreen State College, which boasts as its distinguishing feature that the only door on campus which seems to be locked is the one leading to the wing we want to be in. Granted, it's the one with the expensive computer equipment in it, but a quick call to the 24 hr. campus cowboys ensure our entrance.
We thought it would be funny to have Renfield append his mantra to all nodes pertaining to this meet, but things got dreadfully out of hand. Knifegirl, we apologise.
The above writeup-contributed-to-by-the-most-people, this time properly documented and credited, is produced. Six writers. There have been bigger and better meets, no doubt, but none of them have produced such lasting (if superficial) evidence of their presence. This is the record to be beat, as it stands.
It's too cold for the nude beach thing and with no pyramids to be found we locate a newly-opened (6:30 am or so?) venue for Meal part two: son of meal. There's something creepy about having an entire restaurant at your personal disposal, but it's an effective way of getting flickering lightbulbs remedied. Dialogue expresses a profound jealousy of my metabolism, as I again partake of Too Much Food(tm).
Things get boring after that - people get tired and leave. I sit around on a sofa reading comics for a while before surrendering to the lack of impetus and catch a few winks before my bus out in the morning, which drops me off in Vancouver that night just in time for the launch of a new literary magazine I completely, as it turned out, failed to appear in.
More intimate than the fireworks, I enjoy the hosted experience as much, if not more, than the hostly one, and anticipate round three of the Pacific Northwest Everythingcon series: Oregon over Spring Break. Now's a good time to start planning, you crazy kids!
More to the point I experience a Christmassy epiphany, having enjoyed my rather mundane adventures with this group of friendly, intense and intelligent strangers (albeit with a common bond) moreso than any dealings I maintain with my own family and wonder why 4 am at home is a time for gloom rather than the good-natured mania we maintained burning through the cold winter night.
Reviews: all these geeks with not a lump of coal to share between them
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