So, WisCon 37 is now behind me. Since I'm fond of retrospectives in general (but now I have a fancy name for them because of work), I figured a few short blog posts about the experience would be fun to write. Of course, I wrote most of this on the last day of WisCon before we wound up in the emergency room, but it still remains true even if the trip ended on a sour note.
Traveling with family
This is actually one of the biggest things. SMWM is not a writer nor does she really read sci-fi/fantasy anymore. She is, on the other hand, a major fan of hotel rooms. And Madison is the halfway point between our place and the cabin, so it gives us a nice place to sit down for four days, let the travel jitters relax, before moving on for a few days up at the cabin (theoretically).
We brought EDM with us, which did put a lot of load on her because handling a two year-old can be a challenge even on the best of days. It also means that I can't burn myself out on panels since I needed to arrange to have 3-4 hour blocks every once in a while to play parental unit.
Except for the first day, it was actually easy to find a large amount of time. The first day, which is also the rawest, had the largest number of interesting thing so I didn't have much time. I also had the writing group which was four hours alone.
This ended up with a slightly frustrating tone in the first day. I only do two conventions a year since I stopped going to the Iowa Code Camp. I'm insular and stay home almost all the time, but I end up feeling guilty for being completely unavailable for a day and she's stressed from the travel and new locations.
Not sure how to handle this, but I'm hoping I'll figure it out for next year.
The hotel… was horrible. Normally, I like Best Western hotels and Inn on the Park is normally a great place, but it ended up being rather unpleasant in general.
The first year, I had this fantastic room and SMWM loved it. The next year (last year), I reserved the same thing and got a room that was far from the first year's. It was tiny and cramped. This year, I did the same thing but went to the best room I could find and somehow managed to get a room that felt even worse.
Since SMWM was looking forward to having a fantastic hotel room, this pretty much set her in a bad mood for the first day or so (neither of us like surprises after a three hour drive).
When I went down to the front desk to ask what was going on, I found out a few things. One, that amazingly fantastic room is not available on the website. I was bumped that first year because of overbooking. And, the only way to get it, is to call in person and reserve a room specifically on that floor.
Fair enough, just wish I knew that this year.
They also put in a new television system this year. EDM ended up watching way too much TV in general (a later post), but the middle audio channel was out on Nickelodeon, so they spent most of the four days only listening to the background music for shows or long periods of silence.
It also wasn't until the last day that we found out that the channel marked "SoapNet" was actually Disney Kids, his favorite television crack (and far more appropriate shows for him).
Finally, in the last year, they tore out the hot tub. This is probably the least favorite surprise for us since we like to swim for an hour and then enjoy a little time in the hot tub to warm back up.
On the last night, we were swimming in the pool and met two women and a little boy. The boy was being… a child just like EDM was and screaming for mostly silly reasons. We got to chatting and letting the two boys wave at each other make eyes.
And then his mother starts to encourage him to say hi. He kept shaking his head and saying nothing until suddenly he looks at me:
Boy: I will cut you!
His mother was mortified and I was laughing. I know I shouldn't, but his sister (I presume) was laughing also at that.
After that, it got a little bitter. Nice family, though the conversation pretty much halted when the subject of the convention came up. I mentioned I went to WisCon, they said there was some people buying from the convention but they were from Iowa.
Me: Which part of Iowa?
Girl: Cedar Rapids.
Me: Cool. Me too. We live off (name of street).
Girl: (pales) We do too…
And that was the end of the conversation. I think we got a little too close to home and they got uncomfortable. They left soon after that without another word, but I can understand that. Finding someone who (may) live only a few blocks away from you hundreds of miles from home can be startling and I can understand it. It changes it from a friendly conversation from people you will never meet to something else.
That is normal for me. I've met my landlord two hundred miles from my home once and a number of people who I apparently went to junior high school with twenty years before. It's the normal ebb and flow of a small world that I enjoy.
But, I can understand why not everyone would like that.
The other posts
There are a couple other topics that I thought were appropriate for separate posts:
- Writing: A lot went on with writing at the convention
- Panels: I went to a number of panels and tried to write up notes on them
In the end
It is hard to say I had a good time or bad time, mainly because when you break it down to the individual events, the last few are the ones that really set the tone to the memories. In this case, it was the news at the end that shaded the memories, but I think I had a lot of fun up to that point.