Norwescon 2024 – Day 1

Melissa and I got up hours before the sun poked its head over the horizon. We had a 6:30AM flight, which meant leaving the house around 4AM in order to deal with baggage and security. Boy oh boy do I miss the days of air travel before September 11th.

We boarded a small-ish plane, and the turbulence during take-off had me climbing the walls. The flight settled down after a little while, with only minor heart-racing incidents compared to the full-on heart attack that was the opening of our flight. No in-flight movies or entertainment, and I could not nap. Some of the other passengers must have been slabs of meat, and Delta didn’t want any of them to spoil. I shivered under my jacket for the hour and a half it took to get to Seattle.

Once past baggage claim, we lucked out. The hotel has a complimentary shuttle, and it pulled up just as we stepped outside to find it.

It has been more than 20 days since I last posted anything, and the further I go on without addressing those missing days, the more pressure I feel. I will talk about most of March at the end. Today is the first day of Norwescon, and I want to get that out first, while the experiences are fresh.

In October, I decided to set up our Norwescon adventure. On January 16th, I double checked to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. How do I know this? Because the hotel informed me that I had put down a deposit for 2 rooms, once in October, and again in January. Oops. They canceled the January reservation and applied that deposit to the first, which was very nice of them.

So far, so good. I’m tired, hungry, anxious, and for the first time in a long time, I can feel the symptoms of having high blood pressure. I didn’t bring anything to measure it, but my fingers are swollen and I am more irritable than usual. After depositing our bags in our room, we walk downstairs and get in line for Norwescon registration.

I don’t want to be mean. You can tell this is going to be toxic because anytime someone starts an anecdote with “I don’t want to be mean,” you can rest assured you are about to hear a boiling hot magma of a take-down. Running a convention is hard, and a whole bunch of volunteers are doing their best in a difficult situation. With that in mind, I’m going to try and tone this down. If you come away from this under the impression that Norwescon is a club-footed clown show stumbling over its own ineptitude, that’s on them, not me.

The line lagged down the hall, glacial and ponderous. Both unregistered and pre-registered shared this line. Melissa and I joined the tail just before 9AM. Our business would not be concluded until well after 10:30AM. By way of comparison, I’m told it took 45 minutes for folks to complete their registration at Sac Comic-Con, and that event featured a line of attendees wrapping around 2 or 3 city blocks. The Norwescon line had about 14 people in front of us. Take these numbers and do with them what you may.

For much of this time, I thought that the unregistered might be holding things up. At a certain point, one of the volunteers directed people to a line of terminals if they were unregistered. These terminals sat completely empty, until Melissa and I wound up occupying one of them. More on that in a minute.

Five volunteers received people from the line for processing. The volunteers were untrained in the usage of their workstations. They got through it, helping each other out, but the lack of training was obvious when one of the volunteers tried to process us. She kept misspelling my name, even though she had both of our driver’s licenses in front of her. Some other attendee dominated her screen until a different volunteer helped.

Again, the volunteers tried their best. I felt my anxiety rising, but I did not take it out on them. I kept muttering, “This is going up on the blog,” as if you people were going to provide some kind of comfort or solace in my temporary time of need.

They eventually found me in the system, but they did not find Melissa. No record whatsoever of Melissa.

It’s possible I set this up without including her. I could have made a mistake. However, I booked the flight and the hotel for the both of us, and with the exception of Sac Comic-Con, I haven’t attended an event without Melissa in over 10 years. My emails don’t show any record of registering Melissa, but then again, my emails don’t show much with regards to my registration, either. I was supposed to get some membership number, but I don’t have it. So what happened?

There is another workstation operated by a more senior staff member. Melissa and I are sent to him, but there is another line in front of him. We stood nearby for 10 or 15 more minutes before we relinquished our licenses. Again, he finds only me. No Melissa.

We’re at an impasse. Melissa is ready to give up and just spend the weekend in our room. Since I can’t provide proof that I’ve already paid for anything, Norwescon is ready to take our money again. I am definitely not okay with Melissa missing out, so we take option B and I’m ushered over to the unused “new registration” terminals.

As I fill in Melissa’s information, I realize I am still unburdened by such public identification. Neither of the 2 previous volunteers bothered to print my stuff. I start to wonder if we’ll go 3 for 3.

We get ushered to another volunteer station, and they print our tags and take my money. At this point, after standing in line for so long, going through the hassle of getting pushed from workstation to workstation, and paying for something I thought I already paid for… I realized I was not only tired, but hungry, and I did not want to take my frustration out on anyone. Especially not the volunteers. Melissa and I wandered over to the coffee shop inside the hotel, which offered breakfast burritos and decaf caramel macchiatos. We acquired two of each, took them back to our room, and did what we needed to make me a peace-loving human again.

After a generous nap, I started writing this post. Before I could finish, the clock rushed forward to 3:30PM. There was a panel on dialog I wanted to attend at 4.

The panel turned out to be really great. The participants were all very knowledgeable and articulate. They talked about a lot of things I already do, including reading it out loud. The ear picks up things that the eye misses.

After the panel, I went back to the room long enough to pick up a copy of One for the Road to give to Jennifer Brozek. She was one of the participants on the dialog panel, and I knew she would be in the dealer’s room. She was happy to receive it, and she asked Melissa and I to sign her copy. We were happy to do so.

In the dealer’s room, we visited with several authors. I really enjoyed that. We also bought some decaf tea from a very nerdy shop. And, we solidified dinner plans for tomorrow night.

It’s been an emotional day, and it’s not quite done yet. Melissa and I are going to venture out of the hotel and try to find a suitable dinner nearby. If I’m awake enough, I’ll try to attend con parties or barcon, whichever makes the most sense. I might just go to bed early, though. The last several days involved me getting up very, very early.

Okay. Deep breath. I promised to talk a little about why I disappeared. What happened to my goal of writing a post every day in the year 2024?

Since March 5th, my birthday, I’ve been excruciatingly busy with work. I posted a lot of unpaid overtime. I’ve been getting stuff done, but there hasn’t really been room for anything else. I worked and slept. That’s pretty much it.

One of the weekends involved Sacramento Comic-Con, which was fun, but also exhausting. The other weekends I either worked until I was exhausted, or I slept to recover.

I’ve been overworked and depressed. And I haven’t been writing, which makes things worse.

I probably could have muscled out some blog posts, but who would want to read those? It would just be more whining from an extremely privileged dude. It would not have been worth the effort.

Also, I don’t think it’s a great idea for me to post every day for an entire year. A couple of months in the year? Sure. Especially if the topics are planned out, coherent, and focused enough to be higher quality.

I would prefer to produce quality over quantity. I can do both for shorter periods of time, but not a year.

Some people get my posts/rants via email. Occasional essays from me can be a treat. Daily essays are less special, and probably a nuisance.

I’m going to go back to posting more occasionally. I’m also going to finish posting and writing the story about the Fireman-elementalist. There’s value in me exposing the way I write.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a serious trooper. Get yourself some ice cream. You deserve it.

2 thoughts on “Norwescon 2024 – Day 1

  1. My writing has been limited but a significant portion of it is writing about my inability to write. Hit me up if you want to swap notes.

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