First, a little business: There's a survey being done to get a measurement of who science fiction fans really are, outside the demographics usually seen at conventions, and what their interests are. You can go here to take the survey and help provide a better picture.
Now, for the WorldCon wrap-up, or at least part of it. I think each panel I was on gave me fodder for multiple blog posts, so the true wrap-up may take a while as I visit each of those topics over time (and hopefully before I forget everything). I'm not going to dwell on the journey itself, other than to say that I've learned a few things about myself and road trips. One big thing is that I really need to stop and take a break every couple of hours. I haven't done a lot of really long trips before. Mostly, I drive to my parents' house, which is about two hours away. I've done some trips to Austin and Houston, which are about four hours, and there's usually a lunch/gas/bathroom stop about halfway. Most of the way to San Antonio is my route to Austin, and I stopped at about the usual halfway point for the Austin trip. Then two hours after that, I got really twitchy. When I drive in familiar territory and have been going too long, I get the road zombie thing, where all I see is the road and I'm not aware of where I am. But I've only driven to San Antonio once, and that was six years ago, so I reached a point where I got weirdly paranoid because I had no sense of how much farther I had to go and I started imagining that something was wrong with my car, mostly because of reflections off the dashboard that made me imagine seeing the "we're all going to die!" warning lights out of the corner of my eye. When I found a nice-looking gas station/convenience store with a big old oak tree in front of it, I stopped for gas even though I didn't really need to, just to walk around for a while. On the way back, I made a point of taking breaks, and it went much better.
I recovered from the drive by picking up take-out at the food court in the mall on the Riverwalk and eating in my room while watching an NCIS rerun. Then I made use of the hotel's rooftop pool and swam a few laps and just floated for a while to work the kinks out. There was a nice deck by the pool overlooking downtown, and I sat out there and watched the sun set and the city lights come on. I did the Thursday-morning Stroll with the Stars and saw a part of the downtown area I'd never explored, the dam and spillway at the end of the flood control channel behind the Riverwalk. I like water, and rushing, roaring water is even better. I spent the next couple of days sitting at the FenCon table in the exhibit hall, aside from the hour I spent at an autograph table. I didn't have a line of fans, but I did have a steady stream of people, and not just the "sign my program book" people or friends. In between autographs, I worked on my knitting, which brought a few people over to chat. I'll have to remember that for future autograph sessions. Knitting gives me something to do other than sit there and look pathetic and lonely, and it gives people a reason to come talk to me and then learn about my books. The same thing happened at the FenCon table.
Friday night, I got another new experience because the Random Penguin (okay, technically I think they're calling themselves Penguin Random House, but Random Penguin is much catchier) party was in the Tower of the Americas, which has an amazing view of the city. I kept forgetting to socialize because I was too busy staring out the windows. Then I had a number of geek moments in which I'd be chatting with a group of people, then belated introductions would be made and I'd discover exactly who I was chatting with.
Saturday and Sunday were my busy paneling days. I had a lot of fun (and a big crowd in the really big room) with the future of Star Wars panel, and had the rather surreal experience of having David Brin plugging my books during introductions. I wouldn't have thought he'd have any idea who I was. The geeky knitting panel was also a lot of fun. Since I was the closest to "local," I was the one able to bring visual aids. The TARDIS shawl got a lot of attention, as did some of my lace knitting and, of course, the lightsaber knitting needles. The Sunday morning panel on books being made into movies and television was educational for me and I did a lot more listening than talking. Charlaine Harris really is a hoot and a real sweetheart.
I'm afraid I skipped the Hugo awards ceremony. I don't have a lot of patience for award ceremonies in general, and I was dead on my feet. I went to dinner with some of the FenCon gang, then went back to my room, read a while, and was in bed with the lights out probably before the ceremony ended. I was one of the "stars" for the Monday Stroll with the Stars, so I had to be up early for that. I was getting really tired of the convention center by that point, so for my lunch break between panels, I went to the street festival at the nearby old church that I'd noticed them setting up while on the stroll, and I was fed by the nice church ladies and had an interesting conversation with one of the people working at the festival. It was a good break before the final panel.
I think I've started a tradition for the end of WorldCons. Last year, on the last night after the con ended, I had dinner at a cafe on the river in Chicago. This year, I had dinner at Casa Rio, the old Mexican place on the Riverwalk. If I go to London, I'll have to find some waterside dining, but probably more in the vicinity of Little Venice than on the Thames itself. There's something about just sitting on the bank of a river that's very relaxing and that helps me wind down.
My initial goal for this con was to improve my networking, and I'm not sure how well I succeeded there. I probably ought to get more involved on the SFWA forums to stay more in touch with the people I was chatting with at the party. I didn't exchange business cards with people, or anything like that. On the other hand, I ran into some friends from college, someone I worked with 15 years ago and someone from a book club I used to be in.
Now, I'm going to have a little resting/hibernation time. I had ballet the night I got home, then children's choir started last night and I had choir rehearsal. Today, now that I've already obtained groceries, I can just relax for a while. As I get older, my body seems to be less flexible about changes to routine, and a week of changed sleeping schedules, irregular mealtimes, different kinds of food, probably not enough water and lots of social interaction has utterly drained me. I have a few business-related tasks to take care of, but otherwise I can catch up on the TV I missed while I was gone and maybe start a season 3 of Haven marathon if my DVDs arrive as scheduled today.