Back in the lobby, I ran into hughcasey and elionwyr. They told me they'd tried to get my attention earlier, but I had completely missed it. I spent a couple hours hanging out with them in the lobby. While we were there, M from the previous night sat down at the table next to us. He introduced us to his companions. Or, rather, he introduced Hugh and Dusti, then looked at me and said, "I'm sorry. I can't remember your name. I know it starts with a S." So of course I told him he could call me Scheherazade (after giving my real name).
I now pause the story to explain to my newer friends why that's "of course." I met my friend Keith for the first time at a party, where I was trying (and failing) to pick him up. One of my friends walked up to us, and within ten minutes he went upstairs with her. Now, she was looking for a one-night stand. He was looking for a relationship. So when he came to campus a week or so later to visit her, she got bored quickly and left him with me for a couple of hours. He and I exchanged emails for a few weeks after that, since he wanted me to explain it to him.
It was a couple of years before we saw each other again. He remembered me, and he remembered my email address, which like many college addresses was first initial, last name. He just couldn't remember my first name. So he took a couple of guesses. And I refused to tell him. This became a running gag between us. After the first time, he did know my name; either he looked it up or he found someone to tell him. But he pretended he still didn't know. Our friend Amy got in on the game, referring to me as Sabrina or Samantha or whatever other name came to mind. I don't even remember now which one of them it was who came up with Scheherazade. That was both so preposterous and also so very nifty, that it stuck. Keith still calls me that sometimes. And we've both had to learn how to spell it.
Thus, it seemed like the best answer to give M. Besides, I'd been thinking about using it as an additional name anyway. It's something I already answer to, and it's memorable. There have to be less Scheherazades wandering around out there than Stephanies. And while I may not have 1001 nights' worth of stories yet, just give me time!
Anyway, I had nothing much planned for the afternoon. I ended up spending several hours basically just doing laps of the hotel, checking out the lobby, the game room, the dealers' room and the dance space, then riding up to the sixteenth floor and wandering through there, then back down to the lobby where I'd settle with a book until I got cold or bored. Then I'd repeat. I must have walked a good three or four miles, all within the hotel. If I had only remembered my camera, I could have gotten some good pictures. Sadly, I forgot it. I don't mean I forgot it in New Jersey, or even in my hotel room. I just forgot that I had it in the bag I was carrying with me. No pictures.
One of the times I was sitting in the lobby, I heard a baby fussing a little distance from me. I looked up, and made faces at her. She quieted down. I went back to my book. She started to fuss again. I made faces again. On the third time through, it was clear that she really was watching me, so I went over and introduced myself to her mom. It turned out that Baby had kicked off her socks somewhere between South Station and the hotel. Dad had gone back to find the socks, and Mom was distracted between texting with him and sorting out the rest of where she was supposed to be. Baby just wanted attention. So I played with her for a little while, until Dad got back and they all went off to dinner. I'm guessing she was probably about six months old. Still new to having mobility, very interested in the world around her, but also still young enough to be entertained with silly faces or wiggling fingers.
At 8:00, I went to SMOF 101: How to Become a SMOF. SMOF stands for Secret Master of Fandom. I have no desire to become one, and I already know how: show up, help out, keep coming back, and fail to say no fast enough. Apply that over a long enough time period, and anyone can do well. Reliable people get relied on. However, I also know that SMOFs tell the best stories. I love listening to stories of how things have gone and how things work. It's a great way to learn about the people and the politics.
Then I followed Hugh around for the rest of the evening. He had promised to go to one of the parties, but it was so hot there that we ended up wandering the main floors instead. I showed him some of the things he hadn't gotten around to finding, like the dance space, and told him about things he'd missed. I don't know, maybe it's just because I'm still new to this, but I take some time to read the whole program so I know what's happening, even if it's not what I'm likely to do. I guess it makes me come across as a bit of a know-it-all, though. "Honestly, Ron, it's all right here in the History of Hogwarts! Don't you ever read?"
Shopping with Hugh is very different than when I go through on my own. For one thing, he knows everyone, so he spends a lot more time at it than I do. This can have considerable benefit. For example, Thomas of Brute Force Leather showed off one of his patented please-the-ladies moves. He took down his hair. He is a very attractive man, and he is very good at making himself look even better. He certainly got my attention, and he wasn't even trying. Oh, the pretty. I don't wander into that sort of thing when I'm on my own.
We did eventually get back to parties. First was Pi-Con, which is in Connecticut in August. Then across the hall was Broad Universe. Broad Universe is an organization which supports women writing, editing and publishing in speculative fiction. That was the one I enjoyed most that night, because I knew or at least recognized most of the people in the room. Finally we headed off to a Star Trek-themed party, serving alcohol, which was NOT Barfleet. Clearly Arisia is so big it needed two. That was an interesting cultural experience. A crowded room bursting into song when "Star Trekkin'" comes on is not something to be missed. These are my kind. We're all geeks, and we're proud of it. Anyway, since I don't drink and I don't do well in crowds of strangers, I didn't stay there for long, and headed back to bed.
The final morning of a con is always a little like the march of the zombies, especially when it's a Monday instead of a Sunday. oidhche and I checked out well ahead of the rush, leaving everything in my car, and then he disappeared back to the strike. I settled down with a book and my hot chocolate and watched the ebb and flow for a while. Most of the Philly people got a prompt start on the trip home. They'd heard that there was freezing rain and snow coming in. I knew that meant it was going to be a long night. However, I stuck around. There was a panel in the very last time slot that I particularly wanted to go to, on The Future of Etiquette. It turned out to be mostly about online etiquette. It was pretty lively and had decent turnout for the end of the con. You know it's an active discussion when the official word-of-the-day is declared at an etiquette panel to be "fuckface."
Oid and I finally got on the road about 4:30, which is a wonderful time of day to leave a city for a nearby suburb. We went down to visit turtle_morn and her family. Little N is old enough now that he remembers me from visit to visit. "Her the girl that can read!" As opposed to all their illiterate friends? But I may be one of the few childless adults who thinks that reading to a preschooler is one of the best uses of my time when I visit. After all, I've know turtle_morn for fifteen years. We keep in touch online, and we'll still be friends for years to come. However, N will only be little and want to hear stories for a few more years. If when he's older he remembers me as the family friend who took time to read to him and who sends good presents, I'll be happy.
We tried to leave early, but it was still 9:00 before we reached the highway. It started to snow around 11:30, in New York, but the driving didn't get difficult until partway down 287 in New Jersey. The worst part was the last bit, getting off the highway and taking Oid home, then getting back up to my place. I finally made it home about 2 AM, which is what I'd predicted in the first place. I was very glad I'd taken off Tuesday as well.
And so that was Arisia. The office was still standing after my being gone for three days, and my boss managed to not call me even once. Of course that meant it's been crazy catching up. Today, I'm coddling a cold. I don't know whether to blame it on concrud, which I've managed to escape in the past, or reading-to-preschooler crud, which catches me every time. Don't suppose it matters much.
Next up: Wicked Faire, February 18-20, mercifully close to home.