The last day of con James once again had off of work, but we were pretty much done with everything we’d wanted to do, save saying goodbyes. We went down to the hotel in the afternoon and made the rounds, hugging and getting teary-eyed. Had said bye to Bo the night before, and I realize now I should’ve said bye to Peta, as we ended up missing her. But we caught most everyone else. I bought a pair of earrings and a few books from the dealer’s room, including Annie’s favorite Walter Jon Williams book, Implied Spaces, which he happily signed for me (I booked it across the con trying to make his autograph table before it closed. He seemed bemused by my huffing and puffing. He also said this year’s Clarion class was excellent. Can’t wait to see what they produce!). Then Becky, Mark, Chris and the pair of us went to get fast-food noodles, returning to the con hotel to say bye to Dennis. We wound up in the Green Room at the con, where all the panelists went to hide out and escape the hubbub. The five of us sipped coffee and tried to stay awake after the late night of partying, and we got in one last conversation about pubs, getting pubs, keeping your spirits up despite rejection, places to sub, all with a side discussion about post-Clarion writing groups. But alas, eventually Becky had to go meet her friend Dayna in the city, and so we hugged her and Dennis and said our goodbyes.
The warm and fluffy part: Chris extended his Chicago stay so as to go to my Wit Rabbit reading Tuesday night, and Mark booked a Wicker Park hostel, so the post-con sadness was somewhat mediated by the lingering of good people. Mark went to the hostel to check in, and James, Chris and I headed back to Logan. We wound up meeting Tim and his partner Mark at a tapas bar for dinner (Tim and Mark also stayed on a few extra days, visiting relatives in the area) and once again we had fabulous conversations about online presence, pseudonyms, how to be a critic online without scoring endless hate-mail (I fear it’s unpossible) and a billion other writerly topics. How did I ever live without these people in my life?
Tuesday was madness; I taught my two classes terribly sleep-deprived, and I never, ever want to begin a semester this way again, if I can avoid it. I made it through, then headed over to Quenchers for my reading. Closing out Worldcon with a reading = not my smartest idea ever. I read “The Entomologist’s Three Ballgowns” (got to butcher some Latin, even) and a flash piece titled “When We Were Monsters,” both new pieces from this summer’s writing madness with Sacha. I went last, which gave me four readers’ worth of time to build up a good steam of anxiety. Wit Rabbit pulls some phenomenal readers. The poet up right before me (who opened with Yoda haikus that just slayed me) had just won a Ruth Lilly fellowship. No pressure. Eeek! The other prose writer, Amanda, edits Requited, and her piece involved bears and phobias and was just genius, funny and dark and perfect for the reading series. I felt ehhh about my own performance, but I chose pieces in honor of my Narwolves rather than picking one of the punchier but less fabulist of my summer stories. Maybe not my best reading, especially in terms of fitting my material to the crowd, but a truly splendid night nonetheless, and the series producers (thanks to Sara, Tyler, Nick, and Virginia) had positive things to say, so was good. Chris, Mark and James stayed to have beers with my PhD peeps (when worlds collide, they go boom!), then we split off to get late-night vegan dinner at Handlebar. James tried BBQ seitan, and liked it.
For Chris and Mark’s last day in Chicago (this is Wednesday now, a full week after my picking up that fateful Worldcon badge), we’d planned to spend the day at the Art Institute, but after taking the two of them to Irazu, one of my favorite neighborhood lunch haunts, we were so full up of food, only Mark was still up for museum-ing. Chris and I holed up at a Caribou coffee and wrote for two hours instead. A new story, about librarians and critics and the scent of desperation exuded by up-and-coming writers. It felt so damn good—one of the best times I had all con, honestly. When Mark came back from looking at art, we all walked over to the downtown library and spent a half hour or so wandering around. Then I took them to Quimby’s, which cheerfully devoured the rest of Mark’s remaining time in Chicago (also where I picked up Orange Eats Creeps, because I have no willpower, even after spending a million dollars on books, booze and food at the con). Jim got home from work in time to take Chris to Trader Joe’s to get snacks for his train ride to Boston. We got to the station an hour early, which gave us enough time to have one last beer at the station bar, which is in the old Union Station building. I still want to host a ballroom dance flashmob there. Final hugs to Chris, final tears.
Then James and I went home to our apartment and collapsed in each other’s arms, as you do post-con.
I wish I’d gone to the morning walks with famous people. I never did see Deanna Hoak. I never did get to meet Farah Mendlesohn. Caitlin Kiernan and Rahul Kanakia (to the best of my knowledge) weren’t at the con, two people I very much want to see on panels/hear read/meet in person, if I could ever be so lucky. But overall, I got my registration $’s worth and then some. It was madness, it was terrific fun, I’ll never do it again and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. If you can make it to a Worldcon, go, go, go! It was the time of my life, the best week I’ve had since Clarion.
My dearest Narwolves, I miss you all already. Thanks for the BEST first con experience this girl could ever have imagined.
(Side note: Apparently I have written 6,000-ish words of this absurd magnum opus. Ridiculous. Eh, it was worth it to have a record of the experience, for posterity. Please, if I’ve left out something awesome, tell me! My brain was just too full by Wednesday night.)