Balticon – Day 1

No posts since February? Really? I guess there have been reasons, some lame, some making sense. I bought a new laptop – and had issues with Windows 10 and several programs. Health problems. Busy schedule at work. Yes, reasons. Or excuses.

However, let’s set that aside for now.
Today I plan to write a blog post.

I started out the day intending to write three posts, and maybe I will, but maybe not. Stuff happens and though I’ve been productive today, not in writing. I probably should have written at the end of each day of this con, but long days, late hours, waning energy. You know how it goes. I’ll write day 1. Hopefully, progress to day 2 and possibly 3 by the end of the day.

I attended Balticon once before, a few years ago. I only attended for one day, but was overwhelmed and didn’t go back the next day. Now, however? I’ve attended DragonCon and handled that, so I can do this, right?

I bought my membership in February, confident that I could do this.
Previous cons had been held in Hunt Valley – about an hour’s drive, traffic not really horrendous, and free parking.
Yes, I could do this.

It wasn’t until late April or early May that I realized that the location had been changed.
Yes, it is Balticon, but I didn’t expect to have to drive into the city.
Now I needed to worry about driving in traffic, parking (including fees), safety of returning to my car.

In one way I had a break in this: for the first 3 weeks of Baltimore, I was on special assignment for my day job, working in Baltimore. Driving into the city became somewhat more routine for me. Somewhat. As long as I am able to think of myself as “just driving down the road,” I’m fine. As soon as I remember that road is on a bridge above the city, my knees go rubbery and my hands hold the wheel in a death grip. But I can find my way around.

The next issue was scheduling.
I’ve mentioned before that I need to have a plan.
Not so easy when in the week running up to the con, the schedule wasn’t posted.
This created quite a bit of anxiety for me.
Quite a bit.
I finally had my first glimpse at the schedule when it was posted on my local sci-fi group’s Facebook page.
Not a perfect situation, but I could at least plan for day 1.

I also needed to consider parking.
I had a general idea of where the hotel was located and reserved parking for Saturday and Sunday at a location that was – I hoped – “near” the con hotel.
I figured that Friday I could combine business (a necessary trip to my main job’s office) and then spend a few hours at the con, winging it for parking. This would give me an opportunity to grab the full schedule, as well as pin down locations.

I found the hotel easily – several blocks before I expected it. Of course, that put me in the wrong lane to turn easily, so I got over as quickly as I could and found a parking garage. It was at this point that I took my one and only photo of the day:
2016-05-27 14.46.01
I had to know where to park, right?

Walking in the harbor area at that time of day is rather enjoyable – except that I have knee issues and it was almost 90 degrees. But I found my  way there, and all was good.

The registration line wasn’t impossibly long. Apparently I made the correct choice, quicly claiming my badge, program, and pocket guide.
2016-05-30 15.00.13
No, I didn’t make a mistake above: this photo was taken today, not day 1.

There were writing workshops available that day, but I had already shelled out money for membership, gas, and parking. When I attend a con, I don’t really want to pay extra for a workshop. Instead, I got the lay of the land (or hotel) and figured out where I was. My plan was simple: head to the 6th floor (registration was on the 5th), find the room for the readings I planned to attend, sit and read through the program, listen to the readings, go home.

On the way to the reading room, something happened.
Not a bad something.
Not a scary something.
But something worth note.

I stepped into the elevator, not particularly crowded (definitely not as crowded as elevators the remainder of the weekend), and found myself standing next to the Guest of Honor: George R. R. Martin. For once in my life, I found myself speechless.
Of course, what was really going through my head was an urge to shout out the obvious: “Hold the door!”
I didn’t, remembering two things:
The story behind Michael Ventrella’s Hodor prediction and the Weiss and Benioff apology.
And then I was at the 6th floor and leaving the elevator and he was traveling upward.

Anyhow, to the reading room. I had a wait of about 45 minutes, and then the authors arrived. I had chosen this panel because of one author: Gail Z. Martin. I’ve mentioned her before, meeting her at DragonCon, reading first her Deadly Curiosities books, then her fantasy and steampunk.

However, there were two other authors. One was Charlie Brown (yes, that was his name). I don’t remember what he read: it wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t memorable.

After that, Gail read.

Finally, Michael Ventrella.

Wait – that name sounds familiar, right?
Yep, the same Michael Ventrella linked above re. the Hodor prediction – which (of course) he mentioned.
He also read from his book “Bloodsuckers.” That one was memorable.

After that I had a few minutes to chat with the panelists, and then it was time to head on out.

On the way back to the parking garage – a 3 block trek – I located the reserved parking for the next two days: an open lot, but just across the street from the hotel entrance. That took away my anxiety as to how safe it would be to return to my car alone after dark.

And for me the con was under way with far less anxiety than I had felt 24 hours earlier.


About V Hartman DiSanto

Occasional author in search of more discipline and motivation.
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