So it was a Worldcon

And it almost didn’t happen for me. See, the horse has been having health issues, and given the expense of the beast, if it looked like I needed to stay home to take care of her, well…as late as the Friday before the con, it was questionable because she was showing signs of colic. That subsided with no incident, fortunately, though the original attack of what we thought was founder/laminitis kept on bothering her. But it wasn’t quite what I thought was founder/laminitis, things didn’t look right…but she was in good spirits so we decided to go. Plus I had Sergeant-at-Arms commitments for con staff, so I needed to figure out what was what so that I could ensure coverage should I not be able to go. Which didn’t happen, fortunately. But.

Well. There’s been a bit of fire around Enterprise of late. Nothing particularly close when we left, except for a wee bit of fire north of town, along the route we were taking. Going to Spokane was all right, though, even with all the smoke. The first day was a bit of a challenge, though, simply because I was using both a walker and a peg leg to get around and keep the pressure off of the sprained ankle. It didn’t take me long to bag the peg leg and stick with the walker. I could put my knee on it, crouch down like a ski racer, and actually make some decent time around the Convention Center doing that, and the walker also provided me with a solid rest for my main Stuff Bag.

Then I discovered that walkers seem to render me invisible at parties. The first night’s party was a wee bit distressing when I figured that out. I usually like to socialize, but between the awkwardness and the invisibility, it certainly Wasn’t Fun. Nonetheless, I got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour, because I had the WSFS Business Meeting to do logistics for as Sergeant-at-Arms. I recruited some helpful friends, and between them we got things up and rolling for four morning meetings.

The gig was enlightening, and I have to say that WSFS Business Meetings are conducted with much more wit, humor, and grace than I’ve encountered either in teacher union meetings (including OEA Representative Assembly) or Democratic Party Central Committee gatherings (both state and county). Much of that was due to the good humor and grace of Kevin Standlee, who’s hands down the best chair I’ve ever had to work with. But a lot of that was also due to the hard work put in by the committee overall to prepare for the meeting, again including Kevin and his wife Lisa as well as far too many others that I can’t name for memory reasons or other stuff. But there were a lot of other good folks helping to coordinate logistics, including CART transcription technology and ASL signing along with the regular PowerPoint agenda slides.

Still, the attitude of the attendees (in spite of the urgency felt to deal with Hugo nomination issues) also made a huge difference. Many of these folks are fans of long standing and remember a LOT about processes. But that doesn’t mean people couldn’t have fun. This was the first time I’ve had someone pass out a Meeting Bingo card with the names of frequent speakers on the card to fill out (before the meeting) and announce Bingos as the frequent speakers spoke. On the third day, one particular fan created a filk (sf folk song) to sum up his position, and sang it to the crowd. That was another first.

But overall, my job was more about making certain that people with disabilities had physical access to following the meeting and being able to comment, making certain that we had a table set up for members to sign in and pick up agendas, and on one day to alert the convention center crew that we needed to have a divider removed between two rooms. Simple little stuff that nonetheless makes meetings work. I’m pleased with the job my team and I did, and proud that we had a lot of people happy with our work. Between all my volunteer gigs and ten years of middle school teaching, I can wrangle people pretty well, especially when given a good support team.

Besides that, I spent some time at the NIWA table promoting books, and meeting up with friends. My ankle definitely slowed me down just because wrangling the walker was still tiring. After a morning’s meeting I wasn’t that eager to bounce out and socialize/self-promote, which meant Worldcon was much more mellow than I had planned. Which was okay, I guess. I wish I’d been able to contact more people I knew–I saw some folks in passing that I would have liked to have spent more time with, but couldn’t for various reasons.

The Hugo Awards themselves were anti-climatic. I decided it would be better to watch on the big screen in Guinan’s Place (a bar setup in the convention center) than in the auditorium itself, especially since that meant I could get a drink or two. The Campbell Award kind of signaled to me that the hard-line anti-puppy vote was in full force, and that became even more evident when No Award was issued in the editor categories.

For the record, I did not vote a complete No Puppy slate. I read all the works. Didn’t mean I completed them, mind you. Too many of the short story competitors made me want to reach for a red pen to do edits and the novelette/novella categories were the same. I didn’t like the results for the editors because with a couple of exceptions, all those folks are solid pros who got caught up in something they had nothing to do with. Additionally, I’m a bit jaundiced about the claims of 40/50-something white men (yes, yes, I know they’re not the only ones but they’re the most visible) that they’re not being recognized. It’s a power play for recognition, and it has succeeded to a small degree. No, I don’t think they will push out people of color or of non-cisnormal sexuality. That boat has sailed. Those groups rightfully have a place at the table and rightfully so, in my opinion. It’s the only just thing.

But. My sense is that the demographic that will get pushed out by these Puppies happens to be mine, quite frankly, because middle-aged white men throwing temper tantrums about their perceived lack of recognition end up dominating the slice which we share. Many older women who’ve deferred writing because of family responsibilities and day jobs end up discovering that they’re not cute enough, edgy enough, or connected enough due to past and current family responsibilities. When faced with a question of fairness, most of us tend to take the stance that “hey, it’s only fair that these discriminated groups have representation.” I believe that, because it’s right. Period. What I don’t like is the feeling that I’m being marginalized, though, because I’m a white woman over 50–and I’ve seen enough ageism in the employment market to recognize it in other settings. It’s annoying as hell to deal with.

The last day turned out to be more hectic than I anticipated. The little fire in the Wenaha-Tuscannon Wilderness that laid down nothing more than smoke on our way to the con blew up on Thursday night, leading to the evacuation of the small town of Troy on the Grande Ronde River and Level 2 evacuation alerts along the road we would have taken home. And then I saw that the barn was on a Level 1 alert due to the Falls Creek Fire up Hurricane Creek. Between that and a report that Mocha was still sore, I had to leave the con at noon on Sunday and rush back to Enterprise. We got here, I was able to talk to the barn owner about the situation (better than I thought, though she had to evacuate horses from the other fire).

And…Mocha looked crippled as heck. I picked up the offending hoof, started to pick it out…and got a spurt of white-brown fluid oozing from by her toe. Abscess. Hopefully it’s just a simple abscess which has been plaguing her over the past few months and not subacute founder. It actually explains her quick apparent recovery and relapse. There are ways it could be bad…but we’ll see. I’ll know in an hour.

So that was a Worldcon. Fun in many ways, opportunities missed in others, but…I did a good job at what I was supposed to do and that’s huge. Not able to promote my writing as much as I could have wanted, but these days I’m not always sure that’s a doable proposition. And I did have fun, plus came home with a select choice of books. Don’t know if there’s another one in my future, but one can always hope.

(Hint: buy books, buy books, buy books….)

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