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EarperConUK: A Reflection - I Made It!

When last you saw me, I was finally on the flight that would take me to London and all was as right with the world - as right as it can be anyway.


Not much to report flight-wise. I watched some TV, drifted off - only to snap awake ten minutes after - a few times, eat bizarrely edible plane food, and nap for just under an hour.


By the time I landed at Heathrow, I was operating on, for all intents and purposes, 25 hours without real sleep. But, I was pretty psyched to have made it to London and to have, most of the entire day still ahead of me. Little did I know just how much of that day I was going to have.


I texted Emily asking where she was - I thought we'd made arrangements to meet at Heathrow since our flights were getting in within an hour of one another - only to have her reply that she was already at her lodging. Crap...I was going to have to navigate this chaotic maze on my own. She offered to come and meet me, but I couldn't see dragging her back to that place, so I put on my big girl pants and made my way outside to mill around casually and look like I was well aware of what I was doing and where I was going.


Not even close.


Just what in the hell was that outside Terminal 3, a lab experiment? I couldn't make head or tails of what the hell I was supposed to do. So when all else fails me, I find my way to the smoking area and have a cigarette while scanning every inch of the place in the hopes of finding some sort of useful information.


Cigarette burned to the filter, I resigned myself to action and made my way to the cab stand. I texted Emily and told her I was headed for the hotel. Enter uneventful cab ride to the Marriott and in a few minutes, I was paying £30 for an early check in, for no other reason than to disencumber myself of the bags that I'd been hauling around with me for past 12+ hours. Emily was on her way and I wanted to have order in my room and get a beer in my hand as soon as humanly possible.


Now, she and I had come up with this whole plan for the weekend. Having never been to London before, we'd get into the city proper on Friday, kick around a few pubs for a while, and then spend the rest of the weekend time in the Marriott at the Con. But...and in honor of my Scotland-residing friend, I present the following excerpt from poet Robert Burns:

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

          Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

          For promis’d joy!


Once Emily and I managed to connect, we went straight to the hotel bar, got beers, settled into chairs in the lobby of the Marriott and stayed there, for the most part, for the next 14 hours. Truth be told, it was kinda like holding court.


And it was kinda awesome.


At least in my humble opinion.


And now I'm a little stuck. It's a little tough to relate everything that happened in those 14 hours properly...fairly...evenly. Now, I know what you're saying and I'm sure it is something along the lines of my prattling on for 5,000 words already, so what's the problem now?


The problem is that I got to meet and hang out with and drink beer with and smoke cigarettes with and chat with some really fuckin' cool people and I don't want to give anybody more or less due than they're entitled. I don't want to say that any one thing was better or worse than any other...and I also don't want to put anybody's name out there without making sure they're ok with it.


Maybe I'll go pace a few laps around my house and see if that helps...


OK...so the following is what I came up with and I'm hoping that it passes muster.


First, I have to give big props to Emily, as she kept saying, "I think that's so and so," and "That's so and so." Were it not for her, I'd have met exactly none of the people I did. I'm going to blame teacher brain. I have to learn, give or take, 150 names and faces every year. Usually it takes me a solid three weeks to connect one to the other and twice as long before I start being able to call all of them by their names when they're walking through the halls amid all the other kids. By the time the next school year rolls around, I have to struggle to bring their names back to the front of my name. My brain's burnt.


Anyway, I met some of the volunteers I'll be working with in June...that was pretty cool. I think a pretty good team is starting to come together and that's, at least for me, pretty exciting. I drank some beer - Peroni if you're wondering. I met some of the people I've met online through this bizarre little fandom...no surprises, thank god. I always worry that it's a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation. Drank some more beer. Oh...and yeah, I met some of the guests out in the wild. Can I just say how totally bizarre and surreal that was? I'll come back to that a little later, but for now, suffice to say that I'm still a little tossed by the whole thing...and suspect I will be for a bit to come, yet.


Toward the end of the evening, I'd gone outside to smoke a cigarette and when I came back in, somebody in the group (i'm not pointing fingers, but I am most definitely looking at you, Emily) presented me with a Vodka and Coke. What the fuck even is that? Which was my question every time somebody brought that up, which is how, I suppose, it wound up on the table in front of my seat.


OK...let's get something straight...the only two things that belong in Coke are either rum or whiskey. I'm not saying that Vodka and Coke wasn't fine...I'm just saying that it's...well...wrong.


I think we all went our separate ways around 2:30/3:00 Saturday morning. For those of you out there playing the math game, that's approximately 41 hours of awake time. And here's a little secret for you...I am not 21 anymore. 41 hours of awake time does not do well for "the next day".


I'd like to say that I was a responsible grown up Saturday, but I'd totally be lying to you. Once we were done with the Con activities that we were interested in doing, Emily and I were back in that lobby, in those chairs (a little piqued that some other folks had taken our receiving table from us), drinking those beers. For me, it wasn't enough to be drinking beer. Nope, had to toss back to back tequila shots into the mix.


In my defense, a stranger got cocky and sassy and I felt it was my civic duty to humble him...barring that, shut him up. I might have managed a little of both, as after I'd matched up without flinching, he kept telling me that I was cool and making promises that he'd never be able to keep.


In short, Saturday was a lot like Friday...the same court holding; the same drinking...the same.


We got to a couple panels, photo ops, atuos...but not a ton of stuff. Once we'd settled into the groove of just "being at the Con," socializing with this rag tag bunch of people, it was hard to pull ourselves away....but I think I'll get to that in a bit, as well.


Unfortunately, Sunday was a wash. Emily got caught up in cancelled flight bullshit and I had a 3:45 pm flight back to the states. There wasn't much time to do anything beyond pack and say goodbyes.


Can I just say? I wound up at the airport probably 3 hours before my flight was due to leave. I wasn't thrilled, but I certainly always carry around enough things to keep me busy. Turns out, I needed very few things, as getting through the security check is some serious nonsense. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for security; I respect the job they do; I wouldn't want to put up with even a minute of the shit they have to.


HOWEVER


Heathrow, for the love of god, get it together. You are a mess.


First, The bags for your toiletries and liquids? UTTERLY stupid. You'll ban plastic straws and drink stirrers, but you'll keep those plastic bags? Your numbers say that in 2018, you processed 80.1 MILLION people through. That's 80.1 MILLION of those stupid, wasteful, nonsensical bags. For chrissake, buy some fucking trays and stop using those bags.


Second, the minute one gets past that nightmare, one is funneled into such a confined space that you end up feeling like you're in a kid's tree house....try tossing in a window or two; you're making people feel claustrophobic. Not a great feeling right before you step into a flying soup can.


Last...cute the crosswalks between gates...but, perhaps a tiny expansion is in order...you're really just making a mess.


With the exception of the trump supporting nervous flyer next to me, my flight was unremarkable. I got to see Avengers: Endgame...prooooobably should have seen it in a theatre, as I think the airplane screen failed to do it justice. Nevermind the fact that nervous flyer requested that I keep the window shade open during the entirety of the flight....OK...I need one minute....just one, I promise.


So, nervous flyer thinks that trump is doing a good job...that we absolutely need to close our borders(and that's not racist since trump's not racist), that the economy is looking up and if anybody can stick it to china, he's the one to do it....said the naturalized citizen eating the kosher meal, reading the Torah when she's not yammering my face off. I don't get it. I just......don't get it.


Anyway................


I don't have a ton of news to report on the flight. I wrote a bit, watched the movie, stared out the too long open window, texted Emily s bit and checked my watch a thousand and one times.


I landed at JFK, walked the 28 miles to my departure gate, waited for my flight, checked my watched a thousand times more and got on my flight home. Mom picked me up, I got my car, went home, hastily unpacked and threw myself into bed.


I know..I rushed the end here, but really, what more do I need to say...It was a flight; blah, blah, blah...airports suck, amirite?; I was tired; i got home.


But, all of this is unimportant to the remainder of my scribbling. I have way more important things to say and I'll get to them next.


(stay tuned for EarperConUK: A Reflection - Reflections on an Experience)


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