This weekend was the advent of JournalCon 2002. Yes, it's been two cons for me in as many months.
I very nearly didn't sign up, even though friends and acquaintances of mine like Lucy, Monique and Jen Wade were organizing it. You might have previously gleaned from my journal that I'm not a big believer in the "journalling community". I mean, I know there are friendships and cliques and such among journallers, but I don't truly believe that this is because we're journallers, I believe it's because of other reasons.
As I've said, just because two people keep on-line journals doesn't mean they have anything in common.
Of course, that doesn't mean we can't have a good time together for a weekend, either...
People I met at JournalCon whom I hadn't previously met:
- Ann of GirlMoxie and Tim of Vandewal.net, who met at last year's JournalCon, and were attending this one on their honeymoon. Aww...!
- Bev, of Funny the World
- The Bitter Hag
- Christopher, of Days of Naze
- Jake, of Jake's Zen Diary
- Jared, of Had to Be There
- Javina, of eXhibition, plus her LiveJournal. I read her off-and-on back when I started my journal, and she was controversial. My recollection is that she took her journal down a couple of times, which disrupted my following of it. She turned out to be nothing at all like what I'd expected, whatever that was.
- Jen, of Jen Fu Dot Net, who was basically what I'd expected except maybe for the pink hair. And what's up with all these attendees with names starting with 'J', anyway?
- Jenna, of Internity
- Jill, of Mighty Like a Rose
- John Scalzi, of John Scalzi's Whatever Column. I've seen people linking to him for, well, a long time, but I'd never really read him other than a quick peek now and again. I didn't feel guilty about this and he didn't seem perturbed by it, which is probably the best reaction on both our parts.
- Krystyn, of Glitter. She's been on my notify list for quite a while, but I only started reading her recently. (You know, I don't really know who half the people on my notify list are. One unsubscribed recently and I don't know who he was. People with 500 subscribers must be completely in the dark.)
- Lisa, of Speaking Confidentially. I kept doing a double-take when I met her because she resembles my one-time boss Genevieve, right down to a few mannerisms. Yes, I embarrassed myself and asked her if they're related; they're not, that she knows of.
- The other Lisa, of Lessons Learned
- Molly Zero, of Polygloss
- Pineapple Girl
- Renee, of Notes to Myself.
Renee: "You write a lot about sports."
That's not how it really went, but it's funnier that way and - better yet - makes me seem like a schlub.
Me: "You sound like you come from deeper in the South than North Carolina."
- Terry, of Cutting Through Fluff
...and possibly others I don't remember. My apologies if I omitted you from this list.
I did fail to actually meet (though I did see) a few well-known journallers such as Pamie, Beth, and Diane Patterson (who was there only on Sunday morning).
Journallers who were there whom I already know included Trish, The Mighty Kymm, Eleanor, Michael Walsh, and Lunesse.
And of course that leaves everyone else. But whaddaya want from a free con report?
So Friday night things kicked off with registration (which I slogged through San Francisco traffic to arrive just in time for) and a dinner. And the dinner is an innocuous event to reveal the basic conundrum about attending JournalCon as an on-line journaller (as opposed to, I don't know, a yak or something):
So we're all journallers, but we're all there to have a good time. But we're all going to go home and write about it, of course. And several of the organizers are friends of mine. So how do I write about my feeling that the dinner was kind of a mess?
My gut feeling is to think, "They're putting on a con for journallers, so of course they're expecting to hear the straight dope on what worked and what didn't!" But are they really? I dunno. My journal these days seems like it's more of a chronicle than an introspection, so my inclination is to show some of the warts about an event like this. I don't want to be mean about it, but I don't want to ignore it either.
Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. We took over half the restaurant around seven large round tables with lazy-susans in the middle. Alas, the food took quite a while to arrive, and when it did arrive it was one fairly small portion at a time until a whole bunch of main dishes showed up at once. On top of that, a lot of the food contained seafood, which is annoying to someone like me who doesn't like seafood, but even more so for the several attendees who are deathly allergic to the stuff. (Seafood plus Trish, for instance, equals a trip to the emergency room.) And on top of that, I found the food itself to be kind of mediocre.
I doubt much of this is the fault of anyone who organized the con. Maybe the restaurant had an off day, or the presence of fifty-something journallers just overloaded their staff and kitchen. And it seems like there was way more seafood than the organizers had expected. What can you do?
I think people had fun just hanging out and chatting, but I did notice there was a bunch of chatting about the food - or the lack thereof.
I did get this hilarious fortune in my cookie, though:
How should I take that, anyway?
At any rate, I can happily say that the restaurant was pretty much the only glitch in the con, for my money.
It was a little strange meeting so many people who read my journal. Truthfully, I've never thought there were "so many"! I have no illusions that I'm one of the "popular" journallers; I have maybe a hundred regular readers (on average), plus various stragglers over the course of a few weeks after I post. I exchange the occasional e-mail with a reader, but unlike, say, Kymm, keeping up with journal-based correspondence is rarely a time sink for me.
But several people at the con recognized me, presumably from one of the few pictures of me on this site.
Of course, there were also a few who commented, "You shaved!" Uh, yeah, like over a year ago. (Just teasing!)
Anyway, it was an ego boost for li'l ol' me to be recognized at JournalCon.
Whether I get any new readers... who knows. I've picked up a few new journals on my reading list as a result of JournalCon. Any new readers might also want to be aware of my LiveJournal, too.
Anyway, I know I'm not the most scintillating writer, but hey, be glad you've nver had me as a classroom instructor! (Hi, Dan!)
The con had panels on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I kind of wish they'd had more panels, but that's because I like panels. But they also had an outing to Alcatraz on Saturday afternoon, so they had to get that in somewhere. Sadly I had trouble getting there in time for the 9 am panels ("You'd better be there!" said Lucy to me Friday night, anxious about turnout for the panels the next morning; as it turned out, the rooms were packed), and I wished I'd gotten there earlier for the "Writing for Fun and Profit" panel, but that's life.
There was also a good break room to hang out in between and after the panels. Several people had "swag" for people to take from tables, which were basically little goodies advertising their journals. Trish's buttons were charming; I took three. I'm not sure why they call it swag; I guess it is "loot" in some sense. I wonder how the use of the word evolved? I'm so out of it in the journalling community.
Mostly, though, many of us hung out in the hotel lobby, which afforded us the opportunity to watch crowds of old people try to get the hotel elevators to work. (Apparently an elevator got stuck once; they were deadly serious about the "No more than four people per elevator" warning!) At one point, after five or ten minutes of struggling with an elevator, the door finally closed on a group of people and fifteen journallers in the lobby broke into spontaneous applause! We're so evil!
The hotel lobby had comfy chairs. We could meet there easily. As I passed on both Alcatraz and Saturday night Karaoke, I spent a lot of time there meeting and greeting journallers passing by, meeting some people I wouldn't have otherwise. Being kind of introverted, this is actually my preferred way to meet people in the middle of a large crowd. Especially when I'm getting kind of worn out. (I decided to take a couple of hours off from social interaction and went to do some shopping on Haight Street Saturday afternoon.)
Saturday night also included a dinner outing to an Indian restaurant. Now, I'm mostly acquainted with Indian restaurants that spend a substantial sum on their decor, like Amber India in Mountain View. This place was in the Tenderloin and was a greasy spoon type of place. Squeezing 14-or-so journallers in there was a challenge, but the food turned out to be good, the prices entirely reasonable, and the service fast. I think the food was a bit too spicy for some, and I was a bit startled at the vast quantity of meat embedded in my Kheema Naan, but otherwise I think everyone was pretty happy with it.
Afterwards, almost everyone took a cab back to the hotel (wimps!), while John Scalzi and I walked back. He graciously restrained himself from commenting on my rather aggressive pedestrian habits, but we did get home safely, and I took him through the reconstructed Union Square in the process. He seems like an interesting and entirely together fellow, which, you know, could make for good reading. I'll have to find out.
You've probably noticed that this entry is heavier with female names than with male. That's not because I spent the whole weekend flirting with cute journaller babes (Debbi prohibited me from doing so, so I avoided flirting with anyone except Monique!), but because JournalCon was attended about at least twice as many women as men. I guess this isn't really surprising, now that I think about it, but the demographics seemed fairly similar to that at science fiction conventions (i.e., a bunch of geeks - definitely including myself), and I tend to associate that sort of crowd with men instead of women.
Yes, I'm partly just writing this section to get Debbi's goat. She's not really the jealous type. But I have to tease her sometime. (She's really going to hurt me for writing this.)
Well, okay, and it really did strike me as notable a few times. "It's me and five women sitting around talking! How often does that happen?"
I had originally planned to attend for just Friday and Saturday, being somewhat pessimistic that I'd enjoy myself enough to come back for a third day. But it was quite a bit more fun than I'd expected, so I did go back this morning for the morning panels and some noontime hanging out. Then I headed over to Debbi's for the afternoon. We watched football, go us!
It was quite a good time, all told, and I feel like I'm not really doing it justice in this entry. But I'm definitely glad I went. Especially since I meant I could subject some new people to my awful puns.