Thursday night, 11pm, we caught the red-eye flight to Atlanta, Georgia for DragonCon.
On the way there, we had a layover in Chicago. To both mine and Richard's disappointment, changing planes did not involve a trip through the psychedelic tunnel. I consoled myself with the amusement of the airport toilets which, along with being automatic flushers, come equipped with their own self-protection plastic toilet seat sheathes. You just wave your hand in front of the sensor and it slithers on another sheath. All very sanitary and charming.
Arriving at the hotel in Atlanta Friday morning, we collected badges and schedules, then huddled over omelets, waffles, and the program guides to map out our plan of attack for the next few days. It was obvious the Con was just starting by the sheer normality of the people milling around in the hotel lobby. By Friday night, the ratio of costumed to uncostumed was of a much more acceptable level. It isn't DragonCon if you haven't seen at least two contingents of Stormtroopers, a pair or three of Klingons, 15 or 20 people dressed in various levels of goth attire, and at least enough other characters (recognizable or not) to count on both hands and feet by the time you've finished eating breakfast each morning.
Last year, since I went with a handful of other people I knew from PernMush, I spent a majority of my time in that room. This year, however, I didn't even make it to the Pern room once. I really had no desire to experience the 'we're better than you' attitude of the fan-fic folks who host most of those talks (those of us who Mush just aren't as good as the fan fic people, you see), and besides, there were just too darn many other things to see! Sessions on the sociology of online communities and the personality of those who use the internet. Previews and spoilers for the upcoming (and eagerly awaited) Fellowship of the Rings movie. A talk on protecting your local network - made for and presented by computer nerds (gotta love them!). The Women in Gaming session - always a fun and lively discussion. And this year I knew I couldn't miss the Miss Klingon Empire pageant (I missed it last year due to conflicting dinner plans). The talent competition included the usual singing and dramatic readings, but our favorite was the one who demonstrated the making of blood wine - a presentation which involved the 'death' of not only a stuffed sheep, but also a small stuffed Barney dinosaur. She took second place (and the one who took first deserved it hands down - her Klingon costume was one of the few that actually looked 'real'), receiving a plaque for her efforts instead of the first place prizes of crown, banner, plaque, and of course the requisite Romulan love slave (led - protesting - to the stage on a chain). It was well worth going.
There were a few sessions we missed, simply due to exhaustion (the combination of the time zone change, flying all night Thursday, and the fact that our neighbors had a party Saturday night til the wee hours of the morning meant neither of us got all that much sleep), but it all worked out. We even managed to stumble into a tiny room showing Terminator 2, and immediately decided to forego the session we'd intended to attend in favor of watching one of our favorite science fiction films. And best of all, a trip to the dealer rooms resulted in Byte II from Season 8 of Red Dwarf - the one season we have yet to see (Byte I arrived in the mail Thursday afternoon, just as we were about to leave).
Despite all the fun we were having (and we were certainly having a lot of it!), by the time we had boarded our plane this morning I was more than happy to be headed home. This time through Chicago O'Hare airport, we got that trip through the psychedelic tunnel. Arriving in Sacramento, it was a welcome change to step outside and not be nearly bowled over by the humidity. The cats were - as usual after they've been left alone for a few days - glad to see us, and after checking email and puttering around unloading suitcases, we curled up on the couch and watched the entire 7 episodes of Red Dwarf, season 8 because, despite our overwhelming exhaustion, we simply didn't want to wait to see what happened next.
We really need to go in costume next year. We're not exactly sure what we will dress up as, but we're going to dress up as *something*. How can we resist? Out there, surrounded by the Klingons, Stormtroopers, characters from Star Wars, anthropomorphic cats, and Edward Scissorhands (which wins my vote for the most impressive costume, hands....er....blades down), 'normal' attire stands out. When in Rome, in other words. What more excuse do we need?