I had the red eye flight out of Perth Thursday night. My good friend M randomly offered to give me a lift and have a catch up coffee with me at the airport which was really lovely. I spilt hot chocolate on my white cardigan which was a bad start! But we had a good chat and it was nice to be sent off on my trip. My plane was late boarding and in fact was never actually officially boarding. Passengers were told "To Go to Gate" and there were 6 police officers milling about and then occasionally photographing us. When we finally did get on the plane, they stood and looked at each passenger as we got barcoded in. As I started to get closer to the front of the line, I started to panic that maybe they were looking for me. For doing something. Who knows what? Yay for the fear campaign, eh?
I didn't really sleep too well on the plane - what is it with Virginblue and their seats only reclining like one inch? I kept falling forward when I fell asleep which woke me up. I think I slept for about 2 hours of the flight and arrived in Melbourne just as the sun was starting to rise. Had a coffee and continued reading something long and very very good by Tansy RR. The next plane was ridiculously quick to Canberra - 30/35 minutes (I should note that all my planes this year have been delayed but somehow arrive at the next destination on time) and I tried to sleep for all of it, not that that helped. Caught a taxi to the hotel and called Cat from the front desk. She told me that she'd popped down to look for me at 7am in case I was waiting in the lobby and was too polite to call them in case I woke them up.
And that pretty much told me that I wasn't gonna be sleeping much for the rest of the trip! I went up to the room, grabbed the spare single in the far side of the room, set down my suitcase and bunked down with Cat and Rob for the weekend and it was just like our last trip - three of us back in the groove, like we'd never been apart. Yay for good friends! I spent the day off with Cat shopping and running errands. We spent the day seeking a variety of pants - some bought, some lost, some forgotten. That Canberra mall is very big and we walked it many many times. Sometimes too engrossed in conversation to pay attention hence the retracing of steps in search of pants forgotten.
Then we met up with Rob for Japanese lunch (the first of the meals where Rob never got his order!) and back to the hotel and discovered that the Dealers Room was open and people were starting to set up. I got the first look at Angel Rising and the other new Agog books. We milled around in the lobby after the Dealers Room closed till the Opening Ceremony which I didn't go to and then we had dinner in the hotel (I had avocado icecream on risotto which I did not like so much) with Sean McMullen, Chris Barnes, G and Z. Then there was the Dreaming Again antho launch which I also skipped in favour of drinks with people
I think Ben Payne and Deborah Biancotti fronted up and joined me about then. And a bunch of other people too! In fact we had a lovely crew going and then we got sent to bed by the hotel staff for being too noist - at 9.30 pm. And then I can't remember if we did a room party or went to bed. I was drinking "pink drinks" - that was what people were ordering for me and the bar people were making something and giving it to people who ordered it saying "someone is drinking this tonight" - heh. I was also far too tired to have been drinking.
I woke up with a hangover. It never went away. Breakfast with exp_err at Cornucopia and a good long chat with a good old friend. Then I was back in the Dealers Room I think all day. People came in to chat with me though which was mighty fun. A whole bunch of people took time out to come sit with me and catch up or chat and I really do feel like I got quality time with everyone. Basically, I sold books all day and then partied at night.
Saturday night we had the 1920s Prohibition Banquet Dinner. I got all dressed up and went downstairs to find Rachel looking very very snazzy in her dress she made herself:
I look horrible in this photo but see how unimpressed we both are? The hotel bar staff were just awful. It took 20 minutes for us to get these cocktails which were ... um .. something about the Cat's Pyjamas? Special cocktails for the night but noone knew how to actually make them. We could blame the banquet being sprung on them except that ordinarily you couldn't order a cosmo or any other kind of cocktail or drink that didn't have its ingredients in its title.
The banquet however was awesome! Gillian did an outstanding job planning the menu. There were lovely canapes to start and when we sat down there were fruit cocktails and pecans to nibble on. I had the vegetarian menu and that was cream of almond soup, an egg omelette kind of thing with ratatouille, and then there were FOUR DESSERT courses!!! - sorbet, cheese, ice cream and then an apple thing - I didnt make it to the apple thing. Then there was coffee and mint chocolates. But I didn't drink the coffee cause we were promised Demi Tasse on the menu but it came in regular cups. Plus I was terrified of not sleeping.
After the banquet we headed up to the Continuum 5 room party. I have already bought my ticket to Continuum 5. Rachel is cochairing it and it's fun to go to cons your friends are running. Also? Melbourne. I'm there! The party was fun. That horrible liquor was consumed, but not by me. Although Gillian was horrified I could fit marshmallows in after the banquet but I argued that was hours earlier! And then we went to bed at a reasonable hour (I dunno... midnightish?)
Sunday, I had breakfast with Rob and then more book selling. The lovely Rachel minded my table for a couple of hours (and sold a lot of books) whilst the lovely Rob drove me to go visit Lorraine and drop off review books and see her lovely baby. We ended up giving her the enormous gift of time travel - she couldn't understand why her baby was crochety and tired only to discover she had put her clocks back and not forward and thus lost two hours of time when we left! Sadly we couldn't stay long as we had to rush back for Margo's book launch and Cat's photo essay. Margo's launch was lovely - champagne and Jack. I bought copies of her book and she signed a lovely message in mine. Then Cat's presentation which was a montage of photos of the community over the years that she has taken. I thought that it was a really lovely show and showed the world of cons through Cat's lens. She gets to see everyone happy and posing and smiling for her as she works her way across the room/con. It's a nice place to be. And it worked as a lovely summary of who we are and where we have come from. Our books were launched at a lovely little affair in the afternoon.
More book selling and then we went to dinner with Keith and Nicola at a very swanking hotel bar for tapas. I FINALLY had my cosmopolitan! Table was too wide to talk to Dirk and Rob and Keith but I had a great chat with Cat and Ben and Rachel. And I had a particularly nice chat with Cat about people and the webs they make of your life. I really related to a lot of what she was saying in terms of most of y'all and how I only really get to see a lot of you for like a weekend once a year. And yet, time doesn't affect our friendships and it's weird especially having just done it, to say "see you in 6 months at Swancon!" and not feel like that is an eternity. It's strange to have these groups that we form sporadically across the country and across the years depending on who is there and who isn't at each con and how they still work and function. Mostly though, it's just so much fun and so stimulating and I don't know how I ever existed without you people in my life beforehand.
We went back to the hotel after dinner and had more drinks (I didn't) and checked out the speakeasy before heading up to the Conjecture room party. Definitely going to be going to Conjecture next year. Yes, yes, that's three cons I am going to already whilst also mulling over Wiscon, Conflux 6 and the Aurealis Awards weekend. I may need a second job. The Conjecture room party was a lot of fun. Had a great chat with Trudi who left me much food for thought on a couple of things. Chatted lots with Nicole and Rachel and Cat and Ben. I miss not being able to hang out with them all the time. Rob and I went to bed long before Cat.
I skipped both my panels on Monday morning and had breakfast with Rachel instead. I had basically no voice and felt pretty rotten. Had a good chat with Rachel and we planned a few things too. Back to the dealers room to sell books and then to check out and pack up. Had lunch with Rachel and Ben and then Cat, Rob, Nicole and Lily came along. I told them all a story which I am now obliged to blog since it was so outrageous and I told it to 6 writers who looked at me with such glee that I KNOW they will each pinch bits of it. So you know that it's MY life they pilfer for material. That will be a flocked post however.
And then it was over. Hard to believe but true. Lily kindly took me to the airport and we sat and had a drink and a long chat. Then she handed me over to Dirk who happened to be floating around and then happened to me on my flight to Melbourne. How glorious to hang and wait for my delayed plane with my good friend. And then we had dinner together in Melbourne airport and caught up outside the craziness of the con. Good times and good discussion. And I absolutely am going to find a way to go visit him, and Tansy, in Tasmania some time in the next two years. Somehow. And then we went and waited for my plane. As the flight before me emptied out Dirk says to me, "You can't half tell they come from WA" and I look up to see about 20 people wearing thongs walking past. And then at least half the plane were wearing thongs and we dissolved into laughter as the plane continued to empty of people wearing thongs.
I flew home reading How to Ditch Your Fairy and tried to sleep.
Conflux done for another year.
Photos by Cat Sparks