Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Why not, I thought, an ambienated con report, and here, because that's where it goes.

And it should come as a surprise to no one that the voice in my head speaks with a french accent, now.

I'm home. Returned with a busted shoulder, worked today, all day carrying heavy things, and I'm wiped and wired, foggy from the ambien and the painkiller, all in all eyes wide open and feeling good.

I missed G, and then I miss her, and now she's gone and I miss her more. More on that in the LJ, when we hear her plane's landed safe in Oz.

Backing up.

There's a kind of poetry of place that comes with Ambien, when it doesn't put you to sleep but instead begs alliteration, begs a lyrical take on the world, taking on the world. Here, I'm taking on the weekend, and it went like this:

I finished both books on the plane and bought Patchett's "Bel Canto" at the SF airport. Finished "Bel Canto" later, and recommend it heartily, as it's a marvelous musical twist of terror, tragicomic, tapestriac, elegiac, layered. Good book.

Got to LA and met a women called Jan and her son called Ian on the airport shuttle; Scapers both. It seems there's another one, a daughter, possibly of the Ultimates board, but I met her several times and never caught her name. She has twins.

Found Fi and Maayan in the hotel, Fi being much as I'd left her x many moons ago, bit too thin and pale but not much the worse for wear, and a damned good hugger. Maayan and I circled in silence at first, sized up the prey, sniffed each others' asses and assessed. We weren't sure how it would be. Later it was made markedly clear.

Off with Max to pick up Deneba from the airport, my only venture outside the Hilton's borders and straight shot to LAX and back. Max was reluctant but still made my mimes, dubious at first and there was a lot of hand-waving (of the adorable variety, to be sure). Deneba was as I'd pictured and more, in control, in charge, dynamic, remarkable, spunky.

Back to learn my Maayan was sleeping off the jetlag, so the rest of us retired to the bar with cheesecake and beer, with Red and Jul and WG, with Orchid and cofax and Teri the BBQ. Max and Fi and D and me. We met Tiriel before that, at the preregistration, and she introduced me to Gremlin and next I knew I'd been roped into producing the Save Farscape documentary. I didn't know, then, that that assignment would proceed to devour my flesh from my bones (in a good way), but there it began, and there it was.

We were tired. We went to bed. Then it turned into Friday.

M and Fi woke me up for the 9:30 strategy meeting, plyed me with lousy coffee and propped me up till I was called on. We organized a table, squeezed a Rygel, carried a Moya and wore Scorpy on our heads. No one gave me breakfast, and I think I might have volunteered to do things. Deneba was princess and taskmaster, and laid out an agenda that saved our asses more than once. Cofax and Fi seemed to know things, and the tri-Brain had an office set up, complete with printer/copier and a ream of yellow paper. We made flyers. We had a headquarters. We were a business. We were in business.

We found Ricky in the morning, after a couple of shy shoulder-brushes. I'd lost my cell phone but a call to my voicemail told me Omar at Henson had gotten me on the guest list, which earned me a green handstamp and no seats. So I wandered into the -- what was it? Must have been Anthony. Oh, no, it was Wayne. And there was Ricky in the corner and I sidled up, saying "mind if I skulk over here with you?" and he gave me a look. I whispered, "do you know who I am?" "You're Em," he whispered back. "I am Em!" I said, and good that I did, for I'd need to remember that one later.

Maayan sauntered Frenchly over and we skulked till they made us stop, and then we sat and let it all happen. Wayne spoke. Fi cried. I held on to Maayan's head. I held on to Maayan's head a lot, over the course of the weekend, and later we'd sneak out back and smoke cigarettes in the bitter old fic queen vortex, and we'd stare in silence and I'd hold her head. We'd check out every once in a while, and though we never got farther than the parking lot, it was far enough, and we'd go.

Anth was jumpy, shot of adrenaline to a fading crew (and so early!), and then upstairs, to Maayan's suite, where the Save Farscape documentary team (meet Ally, the director, Clint, the lighting designer, Gremlin, the sound engineer, and Tiriel, the interviewer, hereafter referred to as the documentary team) had built a fabulous set for the evening's Ricky Manning interview. Ricky and Cheryl came up. They signed things. I got Mambo presents. I got a glimpse of the afterlife. Ally crouched behind the camera and the interview proceeded apace. At the end, I traded in my green handstamp for Cheryl's orange VIP pass, the rectangular orange saving grace for the documentary team, the orange bane of my existance, the orange monkey on my back. I was hooked.

Then the band, and our girls (Fi, Deneba, Max, cofax, the rest?) took on a conga line of epic proportion, rocked on till dawn, till Lani and Raelee and Gigi had no choice but to join in. Anth sang songs of lost loves, and Wayne wayned the hell out of that drum kit.

After. Maayan and I, skulking in the corner, maybe I'm holding Maayan's head. It's unclear, my memory's foggy. She says, "you can go back there" after the band, pointing at the orange sticker. "Not without you," I said. "We're not joined at the hip," she said, and it's true sometimes it's nice to break off and be alone. So I left her there, went and joined our conga girls, and then wandered into the bar, to find Ricky, Cheryl, Gigi, Lani, and Annabel (Lil's assistant) at a corner table. They skootched over to let me in, and Cheryl and I talked cats and bonsai, talked Harry and Gab and Naren, talked failed Farscape writers and impossible Farscape successes. Talked Ricky, the hardest working man since James Brown. A nice woman in a wheelchair bought me a whiskey sour, and Annabel let me finish it. Gigi introduced herself to me: "I'm Gigi." I giggled at her and invited her up for a Save Farscape interview after her stage time, Sunday. She merrily agreed.

I'm sure I found Maayan later, and I'm sure I slept, because then Saturday happened, with another meeting and slightly better coffee. We hammered out the update for Sunday and talked about the radio blitz and the Save the Children auction. We missed Ricky.

Saturday, setting up for another interview, hoping for Wayne, Anthony, Claudia. We get Lani, a fair consolation prize after wearing down his publicist until she gave in. Lani was a delight and the interview went well, Tiriel on-camera this time. Ally's MIA.

Saturday, backstage for Claudia's panel, sitting with Ricky and Cheryl at that long table. Maayan got one autographed french fry. They gave me shrinkwrapped bread. We ate and watched Claud from the back, as she told farting stories and called Ben.

I pounced, afterward, clutching my orange tag, "hey Claudia, if you have a minute when the autograph signing is done, want to come up and do an interview for Save Farscape?" "Sure," she says. "Talk to Tracy."

So I talk to Tracy, from Henson, who says "sure" as well and takes my number -- but the documentary team gathers, redresses the set and finishes only to get a call from Tracy saying "Claudia's running late to another appointment, she won't be able to make it." Alas.

The documentary team meets. We discuss the proceedings. Ally has returned -- a misunderstanding led her to believe we wouldn't need her till the evening. I apologized, and we blamed the fickle nature of stars. Failing Claudia's appearance, the crew interviewed Fi, championess of the Save Farscape cause and the first SF team member to be interviewed for the documentary.

In the meantime, a cocktail party. The stars table-hop, I catch Wayne early on and ask him if he can pop up for an interview after the party. He agrees, with the caveat that I have to physically WHISK him away, lest the Creation people bind and gag him and lock him down, out of reach. Much the same from Anth, so I'm standing by the door, smoking with Maayan and Chris (AZ), gossiping with Annabel about Melrose shopping and the delightful Manning family.

Wayne! We pounce, grab him by his coat collar and run like mad for the elevator, fending off chasing Creation people with thrown chickens. At the elevator and the doors aren't closed yet, and it's Crazy Irish Girl, she's feet away, gaining!

"Close the door close the door close the door!" Wayne's backed himself into a corner. "She'll get us!" But the doors shut and we're safe, for now. Upstairs, Wayne takes a Red Bull and enjoys an interview, as we enjoy him for all his rambling and luddite tendencies. We give him the Save Farscape book -- e-mail downloads. That's e-mail, Wayne, we explain. It's for reading. It's spelled "schizophrenia."

Go back down for Anth and he sees me, he waves at me over the heads of four big Creation bodyguards (including Big Mike, my meal ticket and the extension of my magic orange badge, the man who guards "backstage"). Can't get to Anth, and within seconds he's whisked off, boxed up for the next time Creation needs him.

"Is Wayne okay?!" the Creation people ask me. I can't not smile. "Um, yes. He was in an elevator. He seemed okay. He went upstairs. We gave him a Red Bull. He's hanging in there." As if for fear we'd break him. Fragile Scorpy, I've always said. And Wayne, when he spoke, agreed that Scorpy and Crichton are in love -- if not a romantic kind of love certainly a physical and emotional one. They need each other, they complete each other. QED. Or, less politely, "told ya so." :P

Now we're downstairs again for Teri the BBQ's fic thing, except I'm mostly on the couch and this time Maayan's holding my head, and sometimes we go outside and smoke. We're exhausted, dazed, unsure what to say. The convention thing, the Farscape thing, the personal exhaustion, all conflating to a mass of ennui and a lot of staring into space. Weighty staring, weighted, tired silence, not the uncomfortable kind. We sit on the sidewalk and stare.

Something else must have happened but then I got to go upstairs and have spanikopita and round shrimp things, and Red, and Fi, and we all sat in silence and stared. Then downstairs, with Maayan, watched bad TV in silence, read my book, drifted off.

The next day must have been Sunday, because someone fed me something and then we were outside with coffee and the SF team updated for the masses. The light was great and Ally got excellent footage of the update, the fan response, the relic that is Steve Palmer. We shot Deneba's interview outside too, great questions on the accountability of the fund as well as general information on the FWA, mostly just D being her lovely self. Clint acted as a human c-stand and later picked up the smaller camera and got some vox pop from con goers. We went inside to hear Raelee speak.

I waved my orange sticker again, got backstage to find Raelee in the greenroom, doing an interview with Paul Simpson of the Official Magazine. "Do you have time to do an interview for our docu next?" I asked her. She was all alone back there. "I've got an hour," she said. Tina from Creation gave us the go-ahead, and Val from security took Raelee and I out back to smoke cigarettes and talk about dresses and tattoos. Then Val walked us to the elevator and dropped us off, and Raelee was ours for a time.

Her interview went deliciously too, she's just a spunky fiery sylph and she signed everything we put in front of her and more. My Maayan showed up to help me escort Raelee back to her people, tip of the hat to Big Mike backstage, and then Tracy from Henson showed up to yell at Raelee for going off to be interviewed at all. Seems I'd cleared it with Tina/Creation but not Tracy/Henson, was all a big mistake, and Raelee and I apologized to one another ad nauseum for causing the radar blip. I got Ally's information to Tracy and everything was copacetic.

Ricky laughed at the tangled bureaocracy and later made it all better.

Maayan and I went down for coffee with Ricky and Cheryl at some point, sat while Ricky called Oz Sue and passed the phone around to M and the others who frequent that Oz IRC chat. I talked with Cheryl about mah-jongg and bonsai, and they brought us cappucinos which Maayan, graciously, charged to her room.

Later. In the dark.

I tell Ally upstairs to sit tight, that I'll get Gigi after she goes on stage at 5 ish. But 5 turned to 7, with the surprise visit from David Kemper (looking for all the world like some descended god and it set the fans AFLAME, THUNDERING with applause, a standing ovation, though it was clear his mind was elsewhere and he'd just checked in for the same reason men climb mountains). So autograph sessions went long and even longer, and I ran back upstairs to tell Ally to pack it in, we weren't getting Gigi, it was over.

Chickened out, it was, inches before Maayan got in for her autograph, because I was deathly afraid David wouldn't recognize me and I just...I couldn't. But she made me. Maayan made me come back, later, with the Save Farscape team. I told Ricky to tell David I was here, and, shaking, wrote my name on my badge, just in case I forgot. "I am Emily," I said, often. They seemed to agree. We stood in line a while. Ricky showed up, though whether he had his own reasons or whether it was out of solidarity for me I'll never know, but he was good enough to stand behind David at the signing table and reassert my identity. "I am Emily," I said weakly, when my turn came. "She is Emily," Maayan and Ricky agreed.

David, tired. Looked up, smiled, Took me in a hug. "Hey, baby. So good to see you." A good hug. I told him I was glad he came. I was glad he came.


We tried to say goodbye. They were gone already. Gigi was sick in David's arms. A woman was packing a three thousand dollar pulse pistol to ship to Ohio, and Deneba had tears in her eyes.

Later they'll say the best part of the weekend was when David showed up, on stage with Gigi, to the thunderous applause.

For me it came a little later, over a chicken sandwich with Maayan in the bar. First that weighty silence, but it all started to coagulate then, to take on meaning. Farscape, separate from Save Farscape (it's been difficult to do that), separate from the con, separate from Ben Browder's reedy genius, from Ricky's flirty cameraderie, from fanfiction, from writing. From Maayan and me, eating sandwiches and talking about the whole thing, the mediocrity of us and the genius of them and the bureaucracy in between it all.

And now the voice in my head speaks with a french accent, and tells me to write the story of Crichton not wanting anything, and Ambienated it's easy to see Crichton drugged for the safety of numbness, and Aeryn, and a Scorpy been de-fanged, and an earth demystified, and no place to go anymore, not really. Except inward, except except the self, and so we were two selves over chicken sandwiches in the hotel bar, and maybe we worked something out, but mostly it went, "I'm so glad you came." And then later it went, "I want to write again. I want to be writing now."

So that's next on my agenda, just heard from G who's stopped over in SF but is on her way to Oz, and I'll miss her like fire.
And Maayan and Fi are here tomorrow, so I have to clean my room.

And then, to the people who made the weekend what it was -- Maayan, Fi, cofax, Deneba, Red, Jul, Max, WG, Tiriel, Ally, Gremlin, Clint, BBQ Teri, buggs, Mickie, Orchid, Shrift, Ricky, Cheryl, Annabel, Wayne, Lani, Anthony, Gigi, Raelee, Steve, Big Mike, Val, Gary from Creation, Tina from Creation, and the late great DK -- thank you thank you thank you.

I wrote my phone number for Annabel on the battered VIP sticker, "because being a VIP is nothing but trouble" and gave it to Ricky to take home. I'm more exhausted than I've ever been, maybe. But there it is. In French.

Everything hurts. Everything. Hurts. More on this story as it unfolds.

and a con update, to follow, to boot.
God I love all of you. xxx