Saturday, December 31, 2011

My first Con

During the holiday season, I am re-posting an article from my previous blog.  This post was originally published in August 2010.  However, Brian and I still did not attend GenCon in 2011.

Having geeky family and geeky friends in Indiana, I am all too aware that I missed GenCon this year. Unfortunately, the combination of finances from visiting my Mom and losing income in her final months, and the family schedule, made a trip to Indianapolis in early August unworkable this year. I hope to make it back next year.

So. My first convention. I was 14 years old, a Freshman in high school, in Omaha, NE. I had a few books that talked about Star Trek Conventions and fan experiences, but no real knowledge. From what I recall, it appears that I found out about the convention only one or two weeks ahead of time. So I asked to go.

My parents wouldn't let me go alone, so I agreed to bring my younger sister with me. Unfortunately, this meant I had to find a way to earn the money for two admissions.

At that time, we didn't get an allowance, but I could make a little bit of money by scrubbing the bathrooms and/or mowing the lawn. I had a babysitting business that was picking up, but the income was variable, and I don't think I had any jobs in that short time.

This was the first week of November, 1990. The lawn didn't need mowing, but I scrubbed the bathrooms two or three weekends, volunteered to do ALL the family dishes every night, swept the kitchen, did a lot of the cooking, and essentially anything that the six of us wanted/needed done around the house for the week (or two?) leading up to the convention.

I had one evening that was a "break" from chores. We celebrated my mother's birthday with dinner out, and shopping for her gifts, so we didn't get home until bedtime. Between the chores and the dinner, I forgot to study for my World History geography test that week. Other than that, everything went well. (When my teacher asked about the poor grade, and I explained what I'd been doing, she let me retake it. Finland, U.K., Denmark... I passed the second time.)

So Mom drove us to the Con, and at the hotel entrance gave me enough to cover our two admissions and a bit of spending money.

It was smaller than GenCon, much smaller, but I had nothing to compare it to at the time. We spent most of our time in the big convention hall. There were booths all over the place. I remember wanting to get a Star Trek Bloopers video, but my sister talked me into picking up more novels instead.

The guest speaker was James Doohan. I actually screwed up the courage to ask him a question, something about doing a movie that combined OT with the Next Generation. He didn't like that idea. But a little later, my sister asked a question, and he said he couldn't hear and had her come all the way up on stage with him. Somebody got a picture, but I don't know who.

We got our novels signed. I think we might even have had him sign the school library books.

It was... heady. Fun. Different. I don't know if I can say that it changed my life, not like traveling has... but neither can I say that it didn't. I do think it was one of the first times that I felt okay to be a Geek.