WorldCon — Getting Lost in Denver

I am never going to be a world famous blogger. I know this. I’ve accepted it.
Because when I get back from WorldCon at two in the morning and throw my luggage
on the living room floor and think, "blast! I have to be at work in a mere
seven hours!" I don’t instantly hop onto my computer and write all about
my experiences at WorldCon. I go to bed. And then, for several days afterward,
whenever I think "huh, I should write about WorldCon or something"
I get on the computer and read what somebody else wrote and shrug and say, "eh,
I’ve got nothing new to contribute."

So, I just want to say, I had a really fabbo time. An amazing number of my
and talented
Clarion West classmates were there, and since I am lazy I am
going to link to Tina Connolly’s roundup of the gang’s websites and such: Clarion
West 2006
, of whom Tina, Tina, and Tina (actually Tina, Tinatsu, and Caroline),
Meghan, Nicole, Ian (who just won Writers of the Future, the little scamp),
David, Jim and Ben were all there! Whoop! Our takeover of the SF literary world
is imminent!

I was on panels. One panel that I was on — a Lovecraft panel — was actually
my favorite panel at the convention. What can you say about a panel with Charlie
, Ed Bryant,
and Stephen H. Segal (the guy who revived Weird Tales),
as well as Terrence Chua, a cool filker from Singapore? Yes, I know the phrase
"cool filker" seems oxymoronic, but he writes Lovecraft-themed lyrics
to ABBA tunes, which sounds cool even if you don’t like filking. And he knew
about Lovecraft, which was really the important thing.

Denver was hot and dry and the air usually smelled kind of weird, almost smoky.
A brown smell, but without the sickly greenish tones of the air in California’s
. Then sometimes it would smell like rain, or herbs. With various
groups I went to Pints Pub
for some rather disappointing beer and some amazing Scotch, Wynkoop Brewing
Company (which I will not link to due to the fact that their home page plays
an annoying song) for some better than average beer and decent food, Bayou
for some great Cajun food, to Los Cabos II for a Peruvian buffet (and
I am still not linking to any websites that play annoying tunes when you visit,
Google please take note), and failed utterly to go to the Santa
Fe Tequila Company
…twice! The first time I was with some people who went
off in completely the wrong direction and couldn’t find it until they pulled
out the GPS. Then we did find it, and it wasn’t open for lunch. The second time
I was going to meet some people there, and I thought I could find it, because
after all, I’d been there before

I had been there before, it’s true. But I have no sense of direction, it is
also true. So I took a wrong turn anyway, and got lost in a community college
campus somehow, and found myself in a part of town that didn’t look at all familiar
right next to an amusement park that I’m pretty sure wasn’t there before, and
after an hour of trying to find the restaurant instead I found myself back in
the downtown grid so I just took the free 16th Street Mall bus back to the hotel
and pouted for a while.

When I’m alone and I get lost I completely turn into a five year old. I start
crying. I become irrationally convinced that I am never ever ever going to find
anything I recognize ever again. I have crossed over into some kind of Lynchian
Land of Lostness and will be there forever, alone and helpless and
confused. Even if I’d had the strength of will to take a taxi, I didn’t actually
see any in the part of town I was lost in… you know, there were taxis galore
in the nice square downtown grid that I recognized and understood. But where
I was lost? No taxis. Not that I like taking taxis. I don’t trust taxi drivers
except in London and New Orleans. Other places where I’ve taken taxis, the drivers
don’t seem to actually know where they’re going. And who pays for them not knowing
where they’re going? You, the customer, that’s who. Hardly seems fair. Also,
if I’m taking a taxi because I’m lost, the last thing I need is to be just as
lost, in a taxi, with the meter running. At least if I get lost on my own two
feet, I know that back where I came from is theoretically walking distance.
A taxi could manage to deposit me twenty miles away, still lost.

Sometimes I actually do ask for directions, if I see people who seem like they
might be helpful.. Some cities I’ve been in, like New York or Glasgow, if somebody
notices you looking confused, they will actually stop and offer directions even
if you don’t ask. These are densely populated cities, where if you are lost
somebody else is likely to notice. Denver is not so densely populated. I didn’t
see a lot of people on the street outside of the downtown grid, and the ones
I saw didn’t look friendly. The people at the tram station looked kind of sullen
and hostile, and the couple on campus that was sort of walking and making out
at the same time… well, I didn’t want to interrupt. Anyway, directions other
than “it’s back sort of that way” are useless to me. I can’t follow
verbal directions at all. Verbal directions require that you be able to hold
a map in your head. If I could hold a map in my head, I wouldn’t get so lost.
What I need is not directions, but a map.

I really like maps. I find them endlessly fascinating. I think it’s because
they always seems like new information.