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10.20.2003 - 2:10 p.m.

Monday

I kept thinking about how to recap JournalCon (or, more specifically, my JournalCon experience) as I was falling into a deep, deep coma last night. I had these half-formed ideas about creating some sort of tabled matrix combining Events ("and then we went to ...") with People Related Squee ("I LOVED so and so!"). In my dreamlike state this page was going to be totally cool, with frames and thumbnails and anchors and you know, maybe a nice vanilla odor - but when I woke up this morning I couldn't remember how any of it was going to work.

So you get the garbled rundown with the links 'o love, mmkay? Of course, everyone else writing about the weekend will undoubtedly provide more detail and better commentary and all, but, ha-ha, does their page have vanilla? I think not!

*cough*

My JournalCon roommate and designated person-who-talks-to-you-in-a-crowded-room-of-strangers-so-you-don't-look-like-a-lonely-reject, Chiara, accompanied me on the seventeen flights it took to get from Seattle to Austin. Okay, by "seventeen" I technically mean "two", but it was so early and I'd slept for maybe five minutes the night before and all they fed us on the planes were ranch flavored almonds (?!) and it was a fairly exhausting process getting there.

Although, we did have these weird seats on both flights that were only two across in the emergency exit aisle, so it felt strangely cosy and secluded. Chiara said at one point, "I kind of feel like we've been on a Ferris wheel all morning."

When we finally dragged our sorry butts into the hotel lobby we saw Rob and Weetabix right away, and I was suddenly filled with an enormous wave of anxiety and shyness and my tongue got all fixed to the roof of my mouth. I was vaguely plotting my escape (dart back outside? crawl into potted plant?) when Chiara pulled me over to talk to them. And Weetabix totally hugged me, and Rob was totally cool, and my tongue came unstuck with a little plip! sound, and everything was okay.

After some chatting, Chiara and I wandered around 6th street looking for a place to get lunch. It was weird, we just passed bar after bar after bar after bar that was all desolate and gloomy in the bright sunshine. These were vampire bars, waiting for nighttime to come alive with neon and music and girls in silly hats - they were not meant to be viewed in the daylight hours. I am ashamed to tell you we ended up eating in a Hard Rock Cafe, where our waiter practically got down on bended knee to plead for us to order cocktails with our meal (Chiara: "Dude. You will get a tip, okay? Chill.").

Between hanging out at the Omni Bar and going to the Welcome Mixer (which I kept thinking of as the "meet-n-greet", to which I helplessly mentally added "smell-my-feet") I met SO many fantastic people. Like TranceJen, who is every bit as awesome as I thought she was going to be, and has a rock star voice to boot. Invincible Girl, who is a party in a fucking can. Teeny tiny adorable Amy D. - both her and AB are like cake decorations. I met fellow BeerMates LeeboZeebo and Biensoul; mo pie and Eliza and Erin and Montykins and M. Giant and shit man probably a bunch of people I'm forgetting but it was super fun and maybe a stitch overwhelming but thank god for beer, the social lubricant.

After a Thai/Vietnamese dinner, Weetabix, Chauffi, Mare and I headed out in search of a suitable bar to act irresponsibly in. We found what I can only tell you is the Best Bar Ever, and by that I mean the cheesiest, the meat-marketiest, the spring-breakiest bar ever to be sponsored by Bacardi. Check it out for yourself.

Features of the Best Bar Ever:
Clear booth for patrons to enter, then attempt to change into a Bacardi shirt before the booth, which has been darkened by the Bar Juggies, slowly lights back up to reveal the hapless titty-baring patron inside.
Two dollar Bacardi and Cokes, which eventually prompted Weet, Chauffi and I to repeatedly yell "Two dollars! I want my two dollars!"
Mystery makeout bathroom, which Mare found but eluded the rest of us.
Rump-shaking music. Singing along with Eminem in a room full of college boy whippersnappers while pounding cheap-ass drinks? So much fun it hurt.

Much later in the evening after I'd staggered off to bed there was a sausage outing - which sounds like a delightful metaphor but was really an excursion in search of actual sausage (bratwurst?) - during which Weetabix screwed up her ankle and eventually had to seek medical help, because Weetabix is on a quest to tour every emergency room in the continental U.S. Lesson learned: seek not the sausage after visiting the Best Bar Ever, unless 1) what you mean by "sausage" is in the realm of wink-wink-nudge-nudge, or 2) you avoid that steep-ass street next to the Omni hotel.

I woke up the next morning with a small dead furry animal in my mouth, perhaps a member of the guinea pig family, and decided to skip the first panels in order to hydrate and take my time coming back to the land of the living. I did make it to the Freelance Writing panel to stare at Sarah Hepola with open hero worship. As it turns out, not only does she write the best blog on earth, but she's funny and articulate and a great speaker, too.

She's not the only one - at the next panel I went to, Rob, Allison, Heather, and Gwen were all incredible. Rob especially managed to be both hilarious (ask about his Viking story) and beautifully poignant. I was so impressed by everyone's candor and intelligence and clarity and yes maybe a wee bit envious.

As for my participation in my panel, the less said, the better. Suffice to say I was nervous and tongue-tied and sort of felt like I had nothing relevant to say, but thankfully Rob and LadeeLeroy were there too and they were awesome. The audience was a little wacky, there was someone who kept contemptuously asking if journals were really some sort of breakthrough media, as though one of us had claimed they were. At one point I was sure a fight was going to break out about the invention of the printing press, or something.

There was a tasty dinner at the Iron Cactus, and then we all rushed over to The Hideout to watch LadeeLeroy and Kim Holzer perform parts of shows they had developed from their own journal entries, which rocks in and of itself, and lo and behold they were both SO GOOD. Lee was freaking incredible, absolutely screamingly funny and smart and amazing and frankly quite attractive, and I know for a goddamn fact I am not the only JournalCon attendee that went home nurturing a wee little crush on that woman.

From the theater, we all descended en masse to Crocodile Rocks for karaoke. Now, there is not enough booze in the entire universe for me to get up and sing karaoke (with the solitary exception of an embarrassing New Year's Eve in a tiny hillbilly bar out in BFE where I made the dubious decision to attempt "My Boyfriend's Back" with all of the available female patrons - let us never speak of that again), but I love watching other people. Let me tell you, the JournalCon folks tore the freaking roof off the place. You have not lived until you have seen Montykins's rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". M. Giant did "Love Shack", Omar did "Darling Nikki", oh man the list goes on and on.

I had so much fun on karaoke night, I can't even tell you. I monopolized Rob for what seemed like hours, bullshitting away. (We decided I could be his official designated stalker - I'm thinking of making a badge, or something.) I think I had forty three shots with Biensoul and TranceJen. I had to physically restrain myself from rubbing pregnant Beth's tummy like a clueless-about-personal-space freak. Someone somewhere might have blackmail for Chauffi and I, because our photo booth pictures never materialized. God, it was a great night.

Sunday morning brought streaming painful sunlight into our hotel room, and Chiara and I took turns making vague moaning sounds until we finally got our shit together and went downstairs. I said goodbye to as many people as I could, feeling sort of sniffly and sad and tired and fucking dehydrated as hell. And then we left - left for the airport, left for home.

All in all, I met some unbelievably cool people and I thrashed my throat by yelling and drinking and inhaling recycled Malboros and I stayed up WAY past my bedtime and I had an amazing time. There are so many folks I hope I see again, and again, and again.

I sit here back in rainy Seattle and it already seems so unreal that I was in Austin just hours ago. Treacherous memory, with its inexorable fading of the times in your life you wish you'd never forget. What a gift, really, that other people will be writing about this weekend and sharing it with all of us. To help remember. To help preserve the experience under glass, a translucent swirling collection of smoke and beers and laughter and connections made and shyness lost.

How awesome is that?

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JournalCon 2003

8 comments so far.

I have moved. - 1.03.2005
Obviously, a work in progress. - 12.27.2004
Happy holidays! - 12.24.2004
Listen, I am not a complete dick, it's not like I want Joe to die alone surrounded by cats or something. - 12.23.2004
Plus I am convinced my butt is extra big when it's upside down. - 12.22.2004

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