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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Arisia Report

Getting There

Previously, we would rent a car, start north later than we wanted to on Thursday night, drive until I couldn't drive anymore - usually around Wethersfield, Conn - and stop for the night. The next morning, we'd drive the rest of the way, stopping in Brookline to shop and have lunch. Then we'd unload the luggage and groceries and I'd put the car in the Kinney lot. Which means we would be paying to store our rental car for the weekend.

This year, we tried something different. We took the Fung Wah Bus. This cost us $15 per seat. Even with the cab I took to get to Chinatown, and the cabs we took to and from the hotel, and from Chinatown, and the one from Brookline when we picked up food for the weekend, we saved a fair bit of money. We spent Thursday night in the Park Plaza, which means we had our refrigerator already, and were all unpacked and ready when Shabbat happened. Plus we avoided all the tensions that happen with long car trips, and I wasn't exhausted. My stamina is not great, and the long trip wears me out. So far as we could tell, this was entirely win-win.

And I even finished the mishnahs I was reading for sdelmonte's uncle on the bus trip up.

Friday
As soon as we got off the elevator on Friday morning we were accosted by greeted by the woman running the con suite at site, asking us to help out. I spent some time cooking eggs (the con suite was *wonderful* - it had a complete kitchen. This is the best thing that any con suite could have, other than a prep room. And they had a prep room!) and cutting vegetables before we ran off to Brookline for lunch and shopping - I was supplying the beverages and some kugels for the Kosher Konspiracy dinner. We also purchased a gift for gnomi's birthday.

Then there was the usual precon flurry of helping out, getting badges and programs (and my panel schedule - more on that later) and making the room ready for Shabbat, including putting a timer on a lamp.

Is it my imagination, or are the rooms dimmer there?

We had dinner and then went to panels. We tried to go to gnomi's Sapir-Whorf panel, but it had already overflowed the room. so we went to the Geek-Speak one -which was also on overflow. So we chatted with people instead. I went to the panel on moderating, which was interesting and informative, and I even tried one of the techniques they spoke about later.

I also attended a panel on "From Gopher to Con Chair." Amusingly enough, it took a while for the audience to equal, let alone outnumber, the panel, but the panelists, con chairs all, didn't mind. And while I was audience, I was also treated, not as a panelist, but as one of them. I mean, I chaired a semi-disastrous 65-person filk con, not Noreascon IV, but still. (Jonathan would later go to the "Con Widow's Panel.", with either the same people or their spouses.)

We were asleep by 11:30 (and the lights were set for 1:30.)

Saturday
Oy. Okay. I don't do stress well. lately - I get sinus headaches, and stress turns them into mock-migraines. And I was scheduled for four panels in a row, and was moderating two of them. I tried. I took Advil. I ate crackers. I went to the Green Room and had fresh, hot, steamy coffee (it often helps.) And then I rushed back to the room and...bye-bye coffee. Jonathan made kiddush afterwards, and I sipped some of the wine and then he left and I tried to take a nap.

Vomiting often helps relieve the symptoms, much like a real migraine and why we thought I was getting them a couple of years ago. It also makes me look awful - capillaries break around my eyes. I have a permanent red dot on one eyelid now. And it worked for this, too. I was able to eat and drink comfortably - Shabbat lunch was chicken fingers and "health salad" - cole slaw made with vinegar, not mayo. It was exactly what I wanted - I ate more of that than I did the chicken. I would have a headache the rest of the day, but that was about it.

My first panel was at 2PM. It was on "Responsible Monogamy" - as opposed to "Responsible Polyamory", not "Irresponsible Monogamy." One of the first things we noticed about the panel was that it was composed of heterosexual married women. We were bothered by this, too, and took care to note at the beginning that there was nothing we could say that wouldn't apply to anyone else who chose to be monogamous. I'm not sure how the programming people could have done this differently, and it's entirely possible that only het married women asked to be on this panel - maybe if they said in the choosing panel stage that they'd like it if men, members of unmarried partnerships and gay or bi people asked to be on this panel as well.

Otherwise, it went well, with an emphasis on communication and permitting the other partner to be themselves.

My second panel was at 3PM. It was on "Female Fandom in Comics" - how to encourage more female fans to read mainstream comics. I moderated. I probably had the least experience on the subject, so I spoke the least, and my carefully organized notes - well, I did a lot of modification on the fly (in my head, of course.) One panelist was a bit of a hog, and the only way I could get other people a chance to speak was to interrupt her, which was hard, but I chose my moments and did so. I took some advice from the night before and sat at the end of the table instead of the middle, but I don't think it worked well for me. It was worth a shot, though. The discussion itself went well, especially when we passed the halfway point and the audience joined in. I like taking mabfan's advice and have the first half of the panel be just among the participants,and then opening it up to Q&A. I also have a list of questions. I also like to leave time for final remarks. To that end, I needed a functional/accurate watch. I broke my watchband *and* it was off. I couldn't reset it on Shabbat but asked a fellow panel member to do that, except she couldn't and I couldn't show her how. I managed.

My third panel was at 4PM. It was on "Harry Potter for Grown-ups." It was a lot of fun. We interacted a lot with the audience - every question going to the panel first and then to the audience. Not the way I'd do it, but it worked here. We discussed why we started reading them, and then Book 6 (lots of people think Dumbledore's alive. Lots more think Snape was not evil. I don't know if he's evil or not, but I don't think he betrayed Dumbledore) and then on to Book 7 and a lot of people want to kill Percy. I don't. I also believe that we can't predict a thing about Book 7 because it's not going to be a boarding school novel, but rather a Quest, and thus the paradigm is broken.

My fourth panel was at 5PM. It was on "Why Write Fanfic?", and I moderated. This one went well, too. We discussed writing and spellcheck, and the various challenges between fanfic and original fiction and it was fun. Again, the audience was a big part of that. Almost halfway through, Shabbat ended and I said baruch hamavdil, but that didn't make that much of a difference except that I could write things after the panel. Jonathan met me at the door and we went up to say havdalah and to change because gnomi was having a black tie birthday party. Jonathan wore a lovely tie - black silk with a handpainted starfield. I wore a black shell, a brown and white print skirt, a rust colored jacked and covered my head with a black scarf over a shades-of-orange scarf. I also wore my goldstone necklace.

We ate dinner, did some wandering, came back to see the beginning of the masquerade and went to the party. It was as crowded and happy as Nomi deserves, but it was a tad too much, so we went out again, and went off to Dealer's Row to see about buying knives and buttons. Among the buttons we bought from nancylebov was "Jews for Exegesis", which is just wonderful and should be an icon. And then we walked into Fabric Dragon, and Kirsten sold me a beginner's knitting kit. I know the basics of knitting, but haven't finished a project. I now have 3/4 of a mitten, and that's with starting over once and a fair bit of ripping and having to teach myself how to increase. This is a mitten that you knit flat and then sew up the side. I've already done the thumb! It looks rather obscene sticking out in front but I have the most tremendous sense of accomplishment already. (Also, the seats on the bus were rather too narrow for me to knit there.) Also, I love bamboo needles. I'm thinking now about getting my mother a set of bamboo crotchet hooks.

A note about Dealer's Row. This is a block of rooms that dealers rent instead of being in the Dealer's Room. They can set their own hours, use the bathroom as a dressing room and I can see why they like it. They were on the fifth floor - which also held the Shabbat block, which was a quiet (no party) block. Usually, it's on the seventh floor.

I thought it was wonderful. The quiet block was far enough away that the noise was not a problem, and I could run to my room to get money for the knitting. They moved the con suite from the seventh floor to a suite on the fourth floor, leaving only the Green Room on the fifth. Everyone preferred this arrangement, as the fourth floor was where the conference rooms and much of the programming lived. Which meant I only had to climb up and down one flight of stairs.

We went back to Nomi's party in time to see her unwrap presents, which was quite cool, and we got a bottle of Diet Coke, too. We went to the filking, which was much better in that it happened, and stayed there until 2AM or so.

Sunday
Sunday morning, I had to run an errand on the cold, cold streets of Boston,and I did it on no food and no caffeine. I got back, went to the Green Room for coffee (and there was none) and went back to the room to finish the Diet Coke and eat some chicken fingers. I got back in time to collect my knitting and go to the Fanfic Authors Meet-up in the Con Suite. That was also fun - one of my panelist from the fanfic panel moderated,and I found that a long time friend of mine used a different name for her fic.

Then we went to the Dealer's Room to give our favorite dealers money - I picked up a few books, including a new Dame Frevisse and a new Joliffe by Margeret Fraser. We then checked with the Bursteins about dinner and grabbed a snack in our room before we left. I also paid another visit to Dealer's row to get a pair of snips.

Then I realized I needed a case, so the dealer cut off a short length of trim and handed me a needle and thread. I sat down on the floor and whipped the edges together. Behold - a case. Which could only happen at con or SCA event.

We had dinner with the Bursteins, magid and Yossi from the Kosher Konspiracy. magid gave us a ride home afterwards. We watched West Wing and then joined the Dead Dog filk, and followed that by going to the con dead dog, where Jonathan played a game of eco-Fluxx. Then off to bed.

Going Home
We packed, had coffee and crackers, and got a cab to the bus station, and rode home. Uneventful. Got a cab from Chinatown. Went home, and turned around to to go and find plastic needles. Later, we went out for dinner and had omelettes, and then we unpacked and slept in our own bed.
The End

Comments

Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Oh, my, yes.

Definitely fun -- your con descriptions really make me want to attend. (Possibly one of the cons with guerilla Shabbat services -- although I can see myself being frustrated at a traditional service with no minyan and no way for me to help towards that.)

Do you think nancylebov would mind if I inquired in her LJ about the "Jews for Exegesis" buttons? Or does she have an online store? I covet those. :)

We normally don't plan for minyanim, although if someone needed one for kaddish, one would happen.

As for Nancy - Nancybuttons.com.

She also does custom work.

Oh, it does sound like fun! One of these years, when I've forgotten how cold Boston gets this time of year, I'll go to Arisia.

I've been to Boscon, years ago, when I was still Nina Bogin's roommate. Will not do go north of New York City during any month with "brrrr" in it! :-) COLD doesn't begin to cover it. The train trip up was nice, but back was a pain. Sat in Conneticut somewhere for over an hour with no lights and no heat. Finally get back to Manhattan only to find the Boston cold had followed me down!

I don't like being cold, but given that I tend to go to a convention and never leave the hotel, that's not a major factor for us.

Sounds like fun!

"Jews for Exegesis"

That's great!

Isn't it, though? ladymondegreen wants one for her father the rabbi, and my mother-in-law wants some for her parshanut (medieval commentators) class.

1. I just added you, I didn't check LJ for the past few days.
2. My brother lopaanre and my friend nerdx111 were at Arisia. But I'm guessing there were tons of people and my brother isn't religious and nerdx111 isn't Jewish, so it's not like you would have noticed them among the kosher people.
3. I want to ask you if you saw someone else there, but I'll e-mail you that question.
4. I really want a Jews for exegesis button!!!! Or actually I'd want a shirt, but a button works. Where could I get one?

For the button, go to Nancy Buttons.

There were 2500 people there. We were too many for the hotel, truth to tell, and the passageways got very full.