Getting There and First Day
I caught the bus just fine, though there was a scary bit when John and I found that the park and ride that I was originally going to get on it at was under reconstruction, so there really wasn't a park and ride. John took me down one stop on highway 36, which was a ways, but still miniscule compared to driving me all the way to the airport. It was actually a fairly nice stop with roofed shelters and I sat down in the shade to wait. About ten minutes after I showed up half a dozen other people showed up as well, all looking like they were going to the airport, which really gave me some relief. I hadn't missed it, other people were going to try and invoke it as well, and, sure enough, it arrived a few minutes early, even. So we piled on, the driver shoving some things under the bus, the big pieces of luggage.
I only had my carry on stuff. I was glad. Simple and neat and quick and I wrestled it into the seat next to me. It wasn't terribly crowded, so I didn't feel at all guilty taking the extra seat to keep my meager stuff next to me. It was restful, after having caught the bus, as I didn't really have to do much. Just sit and watch the world go by. I tried to take a nap, but it was too fascinating to just watch, eventhough I knew that I had an hour, at least, to actually get to the airport. Just time and motion.
The bright, hot sky had started to fill with clouds, jostling and pushing. Lightning spikes burned in the darkening air, and when we actually reached DIA, it started to just pour. Luckily, the bus drops everyone off under an overhang, the people getting picked up wouldn't be so lucky as the public transport islands for getting picked up were under the open sky. Which was an odd design decision by the makers of DIA, as the darned airport is right on the edge of tornado alley and they always get the thunderstorms in the afternoon.
The flight was late, delayed. I called John and called Geoff to tell them of that fact. Geoff and Zach were going to pick me up, whenever that was, and I warned them to call the airline before leaving, as it was already at least an hour late, and they were predicting a gate arrival of sometime after 1 a.m.. Next time I should remind myself that the last in the day flights are always that much later. Always. But it had seemed the right plan at the time, as I got most of a day's work in.
Sure enough it was almost 2 when we arrived. They were waiting for me, thank Zach, and we rushed off happily. I got to pay the airport parking as they were pretty much there for me. Zach was a sweety and tried to pay for it, but I was a bit more insistant, even from the back seat. Mean me. But I had to get my purse out to do it, and fool of fools, I left it in the car when Geoff and I scrambled out.
Ensuing ugliness. Mostly curbed when I called John and wailed at him, and he said, "Just tell the hotel desk what happened. They'll figure it out and you can always give them card in the morning." Calmed me down when I went downstairs, tried John's tactic and sure enough, they were just fine with it. Geoff managed to get hold of the Aspects and they managed to get hold of Zach and a little while later Zach showed up with the purse. Yay, Zach! He's my *hero*. And he did go way beyond the call of duty when he did come back with it. It did, however, completely fix everything I was anxious about. The front lobby was amused that I'd gotten it to them before the morning, but it fixed things up nicely.
But it meant I didn't get to sleep until late, and, as usual, Geoff woke up earlier than I did, so I sent him off to find breakfast, while I napped some more. He did good and I had a good, solid bagel with plenty of cream cheese that I ate half of in the hotel room, and then nibbled the other half of when we got to the Convention. It was very useful. And the hotel shuttle worked as I really wanted it to.
I managed to find Carl, eventually, in a very keen Torg demo. I still am not used to the gaming processes at Origins, where you have to get tickets to start and then go to the game, so was mildly disappointed that I was late enough not to game with Carl eventhough there really wasn't a chance for me to do so. But I got to watch a bit, then organized with Carl that we'd meet up later for dinner at the Japanese steakhouse across the street, and then I wandered about more with Geoff, eventually back to the room as he had to get his tux on as we found out that the awards ceremony was actually tonight rather than tomorrow, as we'd first thought. So while I just watched Carl's game, Geoff went off to tell Mari and coordinate things on that end.
I'm not used to Geoff's model of a gaming convention, where the thing you do is socialize with everyone rather than gaming. I guess some of it is that I don't get to game normally, I hate socializing in large groups on the most part, and that he's so used to living and breathing gaming with his friends on an everyday basis that the gaming bits just aren't important to him. I don't get ftf except at Con's. I only get one-shots. And I only play characters maybe once or twice a year, if I am lucky and get out to the Bay Area and play with Carl and the Horde more than just DunDraCon a year. And, sadly, by travelling to see Geoff this year, I've pretty much precluded traveling to the Bay Area, and I've missed it, badly.
Geoff ran headon into all that pent up resentment without having a clue. I got really quietly angry about that and nearly reacted by rejecting the entire evening, but after thinking a bit I could also see that most of the people I was going to meet at dinner were folks I'd seen for a while on-line and many I did want to meet. He backed off, I backed off and I could think and so I figured on the wiser action. I also knew, from talking with Carl, that I could probably spend the evening after dinner talking or even, if we got lucky, gaming with him. And I could miss the more smoky, bar party afterwards that was Blue's birthday party. I knew a few folks would be disappointed by that, but it would satisfy what I needed. So I compromised by going to the dinner with Geoff and everyone else and sitting by Carl and then going off with Carl after dinner.
Dinner was great. I had fun and got to say 'Hi!' to a lot of people, though that was about it. Got to sit by Carl and Geoff and near Gator and Squirrel, whom I got to meet, which was very keen, and we got fed pretty good food and a whole lot of it. I didn't have the capacity to eat everything, but Gator and I had both ordered the scallops and filet mignon dinners; and the scallops turned out utterly gorgeous. The chef put down butter, then the floured scallops until the scallops were browned and crisped on the outside, then the dumped a bowlful of something that looked like mayonnaise, but, thank goodness, was more of an egg custard of creamy goodness, on top of the browned scallops and covered them with a bowl to let them cook. They came out really rich, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth creamy. Really, really bad for me, but really, really, really yummy. There were sauted veggies, bean sprouts, and rice to make me happier, and then the chunk o' meat, of which I only ate maybe a quarter what I was given. It was okay, but plain compared to the scallops and I didn't really have all that much room.
It was fun to just interact a bit with everyone. Nothing deep or serious or anything much other than dinner social kinds of interaction. Just fun. Gator told me that he'd written a game just for me and that we'd be playing at 11 tomorrow, so to be at the Aspects suite then and we'd play.
Afterwards, Geoff in his sharkskin vest and tux left with Mari in her gorgeous latex dress and high heeled boots went off to the awards. I was so glad I didn't have to dress up at all, but did admire their looks cheerfully. Carl and I just meandered back into the Convention space. The moment we got inside, it started to pour. Downright pour. Water in a sheet against the glass areas of the convention center. Thunder, lightning flashes, and it was like walking under a waterfall when we walked through the glassed-in pedestrian walkways. Just beautiful and so timely. We even sat on the stairs under a two-story tall glass wall just to watch the water flow.
We caught up, talked and talked and talked, and it was good.
Carl is a very comforting friend for me. Sharp and smart, experienced and intelligent, fun and with a good sense of humor to boot. We can talk technical and creative all at nearly the same levels. I get to stretch when I talk with him and learn and do different things, and it's always really nice.
Got to Carl's room and I remembered that I'd set up lunch with Tom tomorrow, so I had to call him and make the change to breakfast. I didn't know if there would be a game tonight and it hadn't really looked like it, so just set it for 9:30, figuring that even if I did game, it wouldn't be too much last midnight, and I'd have plenty of sleep. It would also be plenty of time for me to get to the game in time. Worst case a game could go to 3, still and I'd get my prerequisit six hours of sleep, though I didn't really want to do that. I know, I'm pregnant, and it was a fine line to tread, as I knew that six hours was the minimum I normally needed to be normally active. Given the extra burden of the pregnancy, I would probably hurt a bit in the morning if it went that far, but was doable.
So the neat thing is that while I was mildly lightheaded while trying to get lunch with Geoff at a local farmer's market kind of setup, I actually did pretty well all day. Mildly queasy, but not badly, and it seems that all the extra oxygen at this altitude actually helped a lot.
Around 8:30, the guy that Carl had contact with earlier calls, and sure enough he and his friend want to game. They had to finish dinner, first, but we'd meet them when they called that they were done. So Carl and I talked over possible character sets and finally ended up pretty set on a bunch of monster hunters, a la the really futuristic setting of Feng Shui. The Bureau likes catching monsters and then using the spirit power in them to fuel really awful 'wired monsters' that are completely under their control. The teams that travel to the past to catch the mythical monsters are called, unimaginatively, monster hunters which are also cybered in that weird, spirit-eating kind of way. The cyberware is actually crafted from magical elements that have been forced into the shapes and utilities they're given, and they can cause terrible mutations in those that wear them and use them, but they're the only way to really subdue monsters.
Carl had a cool team of nine. John and Craig were the only ones going to play besides me, so he had to cut the team down to three in order to have as many characters as players. So he had a scenerio where we had an unexpected number of monsters all at once, an army and a bunch of other things make the mission a complete scrap. From there, he shaped the rest of the really cool scenerio. Also, because we'd left behind six of our fallen comrades, when Bill showed up we were able to use one of the characters that had been lost in more nebulous ways as his character. So that worked out well. Of course, with the extra player, things went on a bit longer.
So, indeed, it ended up being 2 a.m. when we finished. The finishing note, however, was so good, I was very, very, glad not to have missed it. Yes, I'm working on a more detailed write-up of the game itself as it was so very good. I was, however, mildly peeved that I was going to be on minimal sleep.
Problem was that when I got back to the hotel room, Geoff was even more upset about the lateness than I was; and he kept me up another hour trying to lecture me on how I should be handling my time and my social calander, as if I were some little kid or something or as if I could do anything about calling the friend I was going to meet for breakfast given that it was 3:30. It also seemed so counter intuitive, in some logical sense, that he had to keep me up to tell me how mad he was about me being up so late and having an early meeting; but it was easy to see that he was really upset. I sighed and tried to stay reasonable throughout the conversation thereafter, trying to communicate why I'd done what I'd done in a way that he'd get and trying to get him to tell me what was frustrating him or what he didn't understand so that I might address it. I didn't get to everything he felt bad about, and was mildly unsure of how well I'd actually said anything. I wasn't always reasonable, as I was mildly mad about being dictated to; however, after talking for a good long while, he was able to relax enough to go to sleep. Whatever else, he was honest about his feelings and I tried to be honest about mine, and when I managed to speak evenly, he listened. We just worked it all through until he wasn't so angry anymore, and I, at least, finally fell asleep peacefully.