Sat 29 Oct 2011
Thursday pretty much most people were rolling in and registering and floating about the place ready for the convention to begin. It’s hard to describe the layout of this place – sprawling, is probably the best word. Personally, I hate it. I get lost every single time I leave my room to find another building, even with walking around with a map in my hand. Jonathan totally bailed on me and moved his room to closer to the convention center building but luckily that meant the room went to Deb and Chris so I can at least follow them home at the end of the night! The bar (as it seems to be becoming the bar) is nowhere near the convention center so if you’re reading this for a report of the con, sorry, probably won’t be here
I spent most of the day yesterday, before things kicked off, doing my own thing. I figured out (by trekking all the way to the lobby to get them to show me on the map where it was and to get a bunch of quarters) how to do my laundry. And I washed and dried a load and hung out by the pool, reading Power and Majesty for an hour or two. Now I have all clean clothes again. Excellent plan.
I spoke to my cousin on the phone because she was trying to sort out texting for the phone she’s lent me. All was mostly sorted except the damn over the phone Verizon won’t accept my VISA card because the mailing address is outside of USA. Meh, texting would be great but I’ll live. I don’t think I can make it to a store to pay the $10 in person.
In the afternoon I headed over to the convention center. I’d found a couple of extra books I hadn’t seen in my convention bag that I wanted to put on the swap table, both were small paperbacks and shockingly heavy for their size. I’m terrified of seeing huge piles of Glitter Rose on those tables but so far I haven’t seen one. And also happily none of my friends who’d bought their copies of the book received one in their bag for free.
I headed into the Dealers Room and bumped into Rob Shearman. I’m sure he told me months ago he was coming but I’d completely forgotten so that was a very happy surprise. And then I headed into the room and left copies of Nightsiders, Love and Romanpunk and Thief of Lives at the Prime Books table for sale. I took a very quick turn around the room myself. I do have a bit of a shopping list but I need to take care with it because I don’t have much space in my luggage. I also had a look at the art which is being exhibited in the same room. I’m looking for cover artists.
Then I headed over to the bar to find Jonathan. Sat with him for a bit and various people came past. Deb and Chris came by and picked me up for the early dinner they were doing before the Aussie Party. Really, when I grow up, I think I want to be Garth Nix. He’d gone from having not thought about the party the night before to there being posters plastered everywhere by that time the next day. AND he’d managed to get the stuff for the party well before then too so that our early dinner was a bit unnecessary cause he didn’t really need much help in set up.
We went to Old Town to Coyote Cafe for dinner. I had a black bean burrito which was delicious and looked longingly at the whole page of tequila choices. I wish wish wish I could have tasted a few. Alas for me, no drinking at all this con. Not even a sip. My Crohns was not good the week before I left for the con and it’s exceedingly borderline this week (as in I’m in pain off and on) and I know that if I take one wrong step, it’ll be bad news. The pain is definitely unbearable such that I can’t just “wear the consequences” like I do sometimes. My family were really great at finding the best choices for me for eating and I’m still trying mostly to do the same now. So I didn’t get to drink there nor at the party.
Last Aussie party they had tshirts made for the Aussie contingent. This time, Garth told us all to wear garish Aussie tshirts that you’d buy at the airport. I, um, wore my Galactic Suburbia shirt – crass self promotion? The party was awesome. A LOT of food and wine and beer and ginger beer. And the convention showed up promptly at 9.30 and left by about 1.15 or so?
I had a really good catch up with Rob. And I also hung out with Deb Kalin, Tessa Kum, Kirstyn McDermott and Ellen Gregory. I was very sad to show up to their quartet after they’d spent quite some time talking about rape culture. But when the obligatory offensive, too drunk guy came up to harass us – I kid you not, he presented himself to the five of us with “give a woman a compliment and she will sleep with you every time” or something equivalent – he was met first with silence, then polite suggestions he should go to bed and then, “you know, we don’t HAVE to put up with this, please leave” and finally Jonathan gently removed him from our group after Kirstyn nearly punched him in the head after very firmly telling him to leave because he was bothering us.
It was sort of fascinating to watch that he both thought he was deeply attractive (Deb and I were giggling about how even if we hadn’t had sex for 10 years we wouldn’t do it) and also that he had some right to continue standing in our group, harassing us, being offensive and ruining our otherwise enjoyable night. And when told that he actually wasn’t charming or appealing and that in fact he was bothering us, he got more stubborn and more determined that he would only leave on his own terms. Eventually Jonathan got him to move to the other side of the patio but he did yell out at us 15 minutes later “I’m still he-re.” Like it was some principle of his freedom and had no idea that he was more than quashing our own right to stand in our own space and not be harassed or that we even had the right to choose who *we* wanted to talk to. He had become the victim in his own mind. But eventually, Chris and Jonathan escorted him off the premises. It was both a very beautiful moment and also deeply sad because he left because two big guys showed him the door and not because five women had asked him politely, and then more bluntly, to leave us alone.
It wasn’t the first time that’s happened to me or to women around me. It wasn’t even the first time this week that’s happened to me. But it’s fascinating how some men behave that way, completely oblivious to the concept that women should be able to stand in their own group at a party and not be forced into being propositioned for sex or be forced to have to talk to men they don’t want to and that they also have the right to be able to tell them not to bother them and that they should respect that, whether they want to or not. Like, the idea that our experience of the situation was unimportant, even irrelevant to him, and that he would have pressed the point, had he not had another male remove him from the situation. It wasn’t harmless in that he quite clearly told one of us that if she didn’t tell him her correct name, he was going to feel her breasts. And he moved in to kiss her without her permission or any encouragement or invitation. We were mostly in a situation where it could be taken care of. But honestly? What’s that guy like in a room alone with a woman? That’s what we were asking ourselves.
But the night ended cheerfully as we regaled the removal of him from the group.