While I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of any controversies coming out of Balticon 56, this post will be focused on my personal Balticon, and not any of the surrounding issues.
It’s been a very long week.
I’d pre-purchased the parking via the linked page on the Balticon website, because I’d heard some people had issues with the app, and it went through smoothly. Then, I finished packing up (with supervision) and headed out early. In the wrong direction.
A late-planned family visit had snuck onto my Thursday schedule. On the way, I called my friend, Sako, who I’d roped into doing photography at Balticon, and let her know I’d be late picking her up. And she informed me she thought I was coming Friday and was going car shopping after some bad news at the repair shop. So, I ended up visiting family longer than expected and picked her up, close to 7pm, before heading into Baltimore. After my 7th hour in a car that day, we got a parking spot about 20 steps from the entrance to the hotel elevator, checked in, and I unpacked. The whole time I’m driving? Google drive is letting me know that my sister/alpha reader has started making comments on my space fantasy. I carefully dismissed them without reading (I like to read them all together).
We met up with Doc and grabbed dinner together at the hotel — the first time both of my weekly live stream cohosts had hung out in-the-flesh. Then, I tracked down the con chair and made sure all the things I needed were prepped for the next day. Finally, bed.
I woke bright and early, gave a training class to the zoom hosts, then found my way to the registration desk, where I’d offered to help staff. Much to my relief, (and the registration staff’s relief), 3 unexpected trained staff from our last in-person Balticon had made it! So, they didn’t really need me. Which was good, because I’d forgotten about the 6 different signs/posters of which I’d had multiple copies printed that needed to get hung all over the hotel. It’s surprising how long hanging signs can take.
I got roped into helping out a guest here and there, then ran a few errands.
After several stops at the Art Show, they were finally ready for me to sign in and hang my artwork (display only), to show off my recent foray into woodworking. Lunch with Doc and Sako again. I think? The days blur. And! I picked up one of the Bookwyrm temporary tattoos!
I posted a few kick-off things on social media, then got ready for my first panel: “How To Be a Good Panelist”. Panels about paneling and moderating are always so well run! Hat tips to Mildred Cady, Doc Coleman, and Wendy VanCamp. The panel went quite well, although I did stop one attendee from sharing some comments (not questions) with the panel after we’d run out of time. (Sorry, Dad!) Next up, opening ceremonies, where the Guests of Honor and Special guests all introduced themselves, and the bookwyrm finally got a name: Minerva.
I had to rush out of there to head back to the room for my virtual panel, “Dynamic Voice Acting” where I was moderator. We were still answering questions when we ran out of time. A great panel with excellent panelists (Doc Coleman, Max Baskin, and Chris Lester). And then it was time for my “First Timers and Friends Social Hour”. I messaged for a room key and then waited. One of the staffer’s kids was really not wanting to go to bed, and said hi to me a few times while I waited. And waited. About 10 minutes after my event was supposed to start, I just ran down to Ops, checked out the room key, then ran back up. I’d met Shay earlier that day and she’d helped round up an excellent crowd of people — a few actual first-timers, plus several others that were happy to meet new people.
When I kicked people out about 90 minutes later, one of the party-goers (whose name I just forgot! Wave if you find this post) walked me back to my room to drop off the leftovers, then we went in search of dinner. Well, with a stop by Ops to drop off the key, but they said they had a spare and I could keep it for my party the next night. Most things were closed, but Miriam, who had just finished the Meet the Scientists social (or whatever the name of it was) scrounged up some leftovers for us. We ate and chatted, and then I found my way to bed.
I managed to wake just in time to make it to my vaccine checking spot 10 minutes late, partially thanks to trying to crack my head open on the shelf in the shower. After a mostly smooth hour, I got ready for my Balticon Tour. I ended up with about 6 guests following me around the main level, and I kinda ran out of things to say after half an hour, then did a little Help Desk support for the schedule and parking apps. After a quick trip through the dealer’s hall, I ran into Doc and we decided it was past time for us to grab lunch, and Sako joined us there. Doc and Sako both had to laugh when I squee-ed loudly checking my messages. My twin/alpha reader had finished reading my space fantasy and loved it! Plus, she had a lot of actionable suggestions for improvements.
I managed to hit one panel, “Writing Fight Scenes”, but clearly had eaten too much for lunch, because I almost nodded off, while taking notes at a very interesting panel, so my next act was a nap. An excellent nap. I met up with some friends I’d met at DisConIII for dinner — Brandon, Aaron, and John — and we made the trek to Mo’s Seafood place where we proceeded to eat far too much.
I couldn’t blame a lack-of key for my tardy opening of the room for my “Crafting and Coloring Chillax-athon” — where a crowd was waiting for me! Half of them immediately bee-lined for the coloring books and coloring pencils, while one person was working on a sewing project and another on a knitting one (or was it crochet? I forgot to pay attention.) Some excellent chats, great company, although, the singular competing room party and lack-of-food making it covid-anxious-friendly probably helped its success.
I slipped away for a little bit to stretch my legs and chatted with Ian Strock and his friend Lezli, who I learned is also a twin! And that we’re less than a week apart in age! After that distraction, I slipped back to my sorely neglected party and finished coloring.
I finally kicked people out a little after 1 am. Then wandered to see what other parties were going, and managed to find my friend Marcia helping clean up from one.
I woke and made it down late for my vaccine checking shift — again. But we were double-scheduled, so Maria took the shift and volunteered me to hang more signs! (For the survey that helps get the demographics for both improving Balticon and getting us grant money). Then, it was time for some back-stage staff work for a while. They kept me running, but I finally escaped to Starbucks around 2pm because I wanted breakfast and caffeine. Not lunch. I got an egg sandwich and a vanilla chai.
When I got back to the con, I found out I needed to move my “Morgan’s Lazy Sunday Afternoon “Productivity” Stream: Live From Balticon!” out of the con suite. There was a memorial ice cream social and there was no way I could compete with that. After checking with ops and scouting the place, Doc, Sako, and I managed to find a corner of the first-floor lobby to camp in. Nicholas, one of the volunteers and a local college student managed to hang out with us for a while, and several of the zoom host volunteers checked us out, but other than that, our audience was generally my regular 25 youtube/twitch streamer friends. I did have to dart off for one sprint to get my art out of the art show, because they were starting to close down, but otherwise, a relatively successful stream.
Next up was dinner with my dad and his partner and my almost-step-sister, and I invited my friends from the night before, who showed up with Scott Edelman, where we had some delicious afghan food, that was maybe a little further of a walk than we wanted, but it helped walk off some of the food on the way back. Then, I wandered for the next several hours, popping to the bar for a bit, chatting with the people at the 3-d modeling table, then ops. I knew at this point that if I sat for more than 15 minutes I would fall asleep. So, what did I do when Ops said the Film Festival results would be out in the next 45-90 minutes? I said I’d stay up and post them.
So, I hit the tech party for a bit, wandered to the con suite, chatted with Eta for a bit, and then finally! The results were out. I posted them, swung through the tech party to say goodnight, then crashed out.
I woke far too early and checked our social media for a bit. Finally getting up in time to actually get breakfast before the breakfast buffet finished. I’d hoped to say ‘hi’ to the coworker I’d convinced to come talk about flying cars. I didn’t see him, but I was reassured he’d gotten his badge. After breakfast with Sako, I got ready to moderate my final panel: “How (and When) to Chapter” with Elektra Hammond, Carol Gyzander, and special guest Wen Spencer. I worried when we got through my prepared questions in 20 minutes, but the audience had plenty of their own, and I had a few questions about struggles I’ve been having with my own writing, so I think it turned out okay. Great panelists.
Next up was checking out of the hotel room, before setting up an office in Ops to do some social media stuff. There I am, at almost 3pm, trying to get more staff photos (cause about 15 people sent them in), when I’m informed that the ‘Improving Balticon’ panel had started at 2:30pm! Not at 4pm! So, I rushed over and sat in the back for the end of it. Then, it was time to make sure all my signs were down, my timecard was handed in to volunteers, and my laptop was packed up.
I wanted to stay until the dead dog party, but I was tired, I wasn’t up to helping load the truck, and my photographer/carpooler needed to get home before shipping off to ProgPower in Atlanta the next day, so we bailed. The traffic gods were kind, even if some of the drivers were questionable.
I got home and gave Catticus the snuggles he had been waiting all weekend for. He only bit my face once. (my ankles, on the other hand….)
Car unloaded, I settled in for the evening, just in time for my Sat/Sunday dinner companions to let me know they tested positive for Covid. So far, so good for me. Keep your fingers crossed, I’ll test again in the morning.