Readercon in bullet points.
* Our first real family vacation and it was splendid! I grew up with a lot of family tension on vacations so that was a big relief.
* I came up with a travel plan that I am just going to unabashedly say was pretty brilliant. Our original options were:
-- Amtrak to Boston, rent a car for the weekend: $1100, seven hours
-- Rent a car in NYC, drive to Boston: $1100, five hours, and we'd have to find someone to share the driving (X and J aren't currently licensed and I was worried about my arms and knees handling a long drive)
That was obviously a bit of sticker shock. Then gabrielsquailia mentioned Metro-North and I said AHA:
-- Metro-North to New Haven, rent a car for the weekend: $400, seven hours, and no co-driver needed as the drive from New Haven to Boston is well within my limits
It worked beautifully in both directions. No rushing to make our specific train; no driving through NYC or Boston traffic; no giant expenditure on top of hotel costs etc. And it took seven hours each way, almost exactly, including traffic.
For the next few years, while our kid is still in car seats and diapers, we'll probably borrow J's uncle's car and drive the whole way, because the drive is a little shorter and being able to drive all our stuff door to door and stop whenever we want to would be really super useful. But as soon as FutureKid is big enough to tote their own little backpack, I think this will be our default way of getting to Boston. It was really just perfect.
* X totally believed us when we said "You can stay in the hotel room the entire weekend and only emerge when you genuinely want to", and they mostly stayed in the hotel room but did emerge enough to get a sense of the con and why we love it, meet some of the people we're closest to, buy a whole lot of books in the Bookshop, and go for a swim. They also got to hang out with the conchair's baby, to their mutual delight.
* J moderated a panel (for a packed room!) for the first time ever, and it went super well! The topic was toxic masculinity as a villain in fiction. You can see the video here. It's worth watching not least for the novel experience of four cis guys being completely non-faily on a gender-related topic for 45 full minutes. (Lots of side-eye for the men in the audience who decided to just shout out their insightful comments, though. I thought J did a great job of quashing them and keeping things moving.)
* I was on precisely one panel, which was the amount I wanted; it was a panel I'd proposed about how readers use spoilers (used very broadly to mean "any advance information about the book at all") as tools to shape their reading experiences and for the most part it went really well. When another panelist started pontificating about trigger warnings and kids these days just wanting to be coddled and what happened to letting great literature surprise you, I shut him down pretty firmly with an explanation of how people actually use trigger warnings and content notes, based in part on a recent FOCA thread discussing TWs/CNs. So thanks, folks on that thread! It was really helpful in being able to make my points strongly and concisely in a way that had people coming up to me and thanking me afterwards. :)
* We got to hang out with some excellent folks, and go to some excellent panels, and have an excellent room party full of some of my favorite people in the whole world. After the room party I went downstairs and hung out on the hotel's front patio with some people I knew and some people I didn't, and we had long thoughtful slightly drunken conversations. (I was sober, as always, but they were the kind of drunk that is actually pleasant for sober people to be around.) It was a lovely moment of peace and quiet happiness.
* We got SO MANY congratulations on the baby and the Long Hidden WFA nomination. I felt like I was floating on a sea of mazel tovs. Thank you all for being so happy for me! And I got to give Daniel a great big "WE GOT NOMINATED" hug, and to say "Yay all of us!" to the LH authors who tried to congratulate me like this wasn't something we all did together. :) And I signed a bunch of stock for Crossed Genres and enjoyed the hell out of introducing Bart and Kay to various people as "and these are my publishers".
* Some people also thanked me for helping to put on the convention, which I really barely had anything to do with this year, but it was still really great to know they had a good enough time to thank someone for it. :)
* There was an 80s dance and I got dressed up with a giant floofy curly wig and a turquoise jacket with enormous shoulder pads. Even close friends totally didn't recognize me with the wig on and did hilarious huge doubletakes. J wore a broad-shouldered jacket and a hideous gold shirt, and ordquelu, who DJ'd, looked stunning in hot pink and was clearly having the best best time. There was briefly a dance circle, and everyone who wanted to dance in the middle of it got to, and no one got bullied or teased or shamed into being in the spotlight--when all the folks who felt like taking solos were done, the circle just closed up and we all went on with things. It was a great mixed crowd, all genders and shapes and sizes and ages. During a break I complimented pattytempleton on her dancing, and she said she just throws her body around like she doesn't give a shit, because isn't it great that we're not in high school anymore? One of the last songs was Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" and that is my jam (as I think the kids say these days) so I shed the jacket and wig and took Patty's advice and just let my body get completely into it. It felt incredible.
* I suggested a trans lunch thing and 10 people showed up! And we all got along and had a great time! One person said it was their very first time asking people to use gender-neutral pronouns for them. So glad I could help to make it a safe space for them. :D :D :D
* I hardly got mis-pronouned at all over the course of the whole weekend, and everyone who did immediately corrected it. During a Q&A session, john_chu said "I think Rose had their hand up" and I was so thrilled, and then after he said "Did I get your pronoun right? I've been practicing!" and I melted. It was the nicest thing.
* I was on safety on-call and got zero calls.
* I went to bed between 2 and 3, and got up between 10 and 11, every day. Apparently I can very comfortably do this when my days are full of socializing and enjoyable busy-ness.
* My body let me drive a lot and barely hurts at all! Last year my knees were really cranky after just a little driving and this year they're like "that was fun, let's go for a walk". I thought my arms were going to be in screaming pain and it was more like "meh, maybe some ice would be a good idea? or not, no big deal".
* Modern medicine! Celebrex for sore arms after the long drives, Tums and Imodium for this morning's digestive unwellness (bad restaurant food, blech) so I could drive back today, Flonase and Claritin so I could breathe despite being allergic to hotel air and the convention attendees' various perfumes. So so so grateful to have access to these medications, which quite literally made the whole vacation possible for me.
Totally unrelated to the con, I also got an email from an old old friend who I thought I would never hear from again, and it was so kind and lovely and made me a little teary-eyed. That was pretty amazing.
There were little moments of sadness--in particular, I missed grahamsleight terribly--and hunger-crankiness, and one close call while driving at night (no actual impact, everyone is fine), and of course I had to go and develop a con-crush on someone who lives a significant distance away, but on the whole it was a truly excellent weekend.
Last year I cut way back on my Readercon volunteering and left the concom, and I just now sent an email resigning from the program committee and safety committee. It feels really good to be done, and to go out on such a high note.