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Hi Greg! Apparently you want Gathering journals? I'm warning you -- I'm long winded.
Friday: I packed the night before, but spent a huge chunk of the evening looking for my acrylic paints, which I did not find. Which meant I did not have time to dye my hair or do my legs, and it was getting late when I abandonned my search. I just finished packing and put the alarm clock to ring at 6AM. I got up after a snooze or two, and proceeded to dye my hair and take care of other things. I left for work with the 7:34 train, wearing a huge backpack, my portfolio, my bookbag and a tube containing the G2004 mascot poster.
I got to work before 8:30, and work. By 9:30 it was time for the monthly meeting, where our big boss proceeded to irritate the entire staff even more than we already were, so my conviction to quit was even further strengthened. No matter -- I just kept working, knowing I'd be off to NYC in a few hours time.
By 11 or so, I got a phone call from Adam asking me about stuff I left on the couch at home, asking if it was something I needed for the trip. I said no; however, I did forget my contact lenses but I can do without. Adam asked me how I plan to get to the airport, and I explained that I would go to the dollar store of the shopping center by the train station, and then I'd take a bus or taxi from there for the less than 5 minute trip to the airport. Adam offered to get me my contacts and be my lift for the errands, which I accepted gratefully. (Yay! I get to see him before I leave!)
At noon, I was out of the office and on my way. I was giddy then -- I couldn't wait to get to NY. Adam picked me up and I got the acrylic paints I needed, and made copies of the pre-registration forms for 2004. Then, Adam dropped me off at the airport. My passport is expired by one month but nobody seemed to mind. I breezed through customs and got to the gate in the new jetty they just built at the airport.
I was on the plane pretty much on time, and worked on a marker piece of Kanthara during the flight that was shorter than I expected. I got off the plane at LGA and went for the conveyer belt. The first piece of luggage to come down was mine. O_O So quickly, I went to the transportation desk, and got accosted by a man asking me where I'm going. I mentionned the hotel, and he said he was leaving in 5 minutes, gave me a price, then told me to just sit there. Surprised, I obliged. The price seemed reasonable, but I realized later that I was had. So I did not tip. It turned out to be a shared ride with two other people, and I thankfully got to the hotel before 6PM. When I walked into the lobby, I was greeted by Laurean and (her) Adam, and saw Kelly shortly after; we quickly went to our room which was tiny, leaving about 2 feet of space between the two double beds and the walls, maybe 3 feet at the front of the beds. A big commode with drawers was placed in front of the beds, but in the restricted space, if the drawers were opened, they touched the beds. It was THAT cramped. No way could we have fit 5 people in there! So in any case, I piled my stuff on top of other people's stuff, and got to work on my Kanthara picture to finish it. Then, we hurried out to Opening Ceremonies.
The G2004 staff was introduced as the opener to Opening Ceremonies. We all walked up on stage, and I stood behind the podium and started my pitch. "Who here has ever been to Montreal? What do you like about Montreal?" Someone at the back yelled out, "The Poutine!" After laughter and agreeing, I started talking about the Gathering being in Montreal, about the city, the hotel, the things to do in the city, and then I talked about the convention, the events, guests. I think I managed to make people drool with the banquet possibilities. People also responded positively to the prices, and the exchange rate, and the drinking age in Quebec (18!!!) and I think we managed to psyche people up for it. They loved the mascot, and after announcing the Name The Mascot contest, there was some joking around of calling him Rover or Fido or something like that. ;) Kelly addressed the English vs French issue with a really well chosen argument, that I'll retype here (loose quote): "When I went to Montreal, I expected to pick up some French while I was there. That didn't happen. As soon as people realized I was english, they switched over to English to speak to me." That seemed to reassure people, from what I could see.
When our pitch was done, we sat back down and the G2003 staff officially opened the festivities. Greg was next on the podium and told the good old stories we know and love and never get tired of hearing. There were also quite a few newbies in the group so that was great too.
After the Ceremonies, I went back to the room to get my artwork to post it in the art room, and realized on my way out that the room door did not lock. So I made a note to tell my roommates about it, but got distracted by the art posting thing and the lack of hooks. I still managed to get my art up decently. After that was done, a group of us slipped out to get some dinner, so we went to a nice sushi place close by. Let's see, there was Dreamie (Sara) and Winterwolf (Allan), Sapphire (Kelly), Karlyl (Trishana), Sara Berkeley (Liz), Cybernetic Nixie (Emilie) and Ganador, and myself. Nixie and Ganador sat at another table since we couldn't be 8 at ours. We had sushi, and sake, while Dreamie and Allan got some fried squid and noodles. Good food was had, pleasant times too. I informed the other girls with whom I share the room, Kelly, Liz and Emilie, of our predicament with the door, and they were shocked. We headed back to the hotel and verified that the door did indeed NOT lock, so Kelly went down to the lobby and made a complaint, and the guy she was talking to seemed clueless on how to help us. Kelly demanded another room, which we finally got. It did not have blankets or bedspreads, so housekeeping had to bring them to us. The misunderstanding that ensued had them bring only the blankets, and it took a half hour more to get the bedspreads. They were king sized, the beds were doubles. Lots of eye rolling ensued. No matter -- a blanket is a blanket, and we went to bed shortly after.
Saturday: We got up around 9AM, and went to get breakfast at the café inside the lobby of the hotel. On the way in, I noticed Patrick Toman, and I went to chat with him about pre-reg, and our cosplay skit. We compared schedules, and arranged our plans for the rest of the day. Then, I joined the girls inside to get breakfast. They don't toast bagels. :P It's called City Perk; I kept calling it Central Perk. Whatever. So once we are all equipped with coffee and food stuff, we climbed up to the 6th floor and went to the Paris room to give the drawing Q&A, only to find out that the Paris room was actually the Othercon Exhibition. So we talked to Greg B. about the room being locked, and he said he'll open the room for the class, but then we realized and reasonned that an art class open to all should not be in an 18 and over room, so the video room got given to us instead. As well as to the following events planned in the Paris room for the day.
By 11, Nikki, Liz and I were behind the table at the front of the room, and about 15 people were sitting there, waiting for us to start talking about our craft. Kyt wasn't there yet, and we figured that she was still sleeping, so we started without her. I took the lead and introduced the panel, forgetting to introduce us, but someone in the first row (never caught her name) asked us who we were, being new to the fandom. So we introduced ourselves and told people about what we did professionally, and I was a little sheepish about forgetting that -- the things you take for granted when you've done this art panel thing for 6 out of the 7 Gatherings :P Anyways, questions started coming in. I expected more art and drawing questions, but there were more questions about the process of art, and how you get started, and 3D animation. People were coming into the panel and sitting down, and we got more and more of an audience, which is a real boost for me. I was definitely talking a LOT. I hope I didn't step on any toes. Once I get started... But no one kicked me in the shins, and questions were adressed to everyone... I especially liked the question about preferred media, which we all answered one after the other. I think that's cool, because we like different things, so that shows to people that there is no Right or Wrong tool to draw nice pictures.
I was looking forward to seeing Matt, because I've known him online for the last three years and had not yet met him in person. And there are people that you meet online, and you get to know them by their words on a computer screen, and I can't explain why or how, but you end up becoming friends with them, and caring about them as much as if they were physically present friends. Of course, this impression can always be misleading, because I have met some online friends and found that in person, the friend was just not what they advertise online, or the spark you feel chatting with someone just isn't there when in person. So I was looking forward to finally meeting him, but at the same time afraid that we just wouldn't connect in person. So when he showed up at the panel, I recognised him immediately, waved at him to signal I'd recognized him and said hi happily. In that moment, that nervous smile and Hi he gave back, my fears were immediately tossed away.
Kyt showed up at the panel shortly after, and we continued replying to questions. I don't know how many times the lot of us said "Practice" as an answer to how to get good. Several times in a row, sometimes all at the same time. I mean, it's the obvious answer, but it can't be said enough.
This young woman was there with her very proud mother, and she told us about what she draws and such, not really asking a question, but still. And then she asked me if she could show me a picture she did. I was at a loss, but finally agreed, and she came over to show me. I looked at it, then showed it to everyone, and asked her if she wanted a crit (I think she didn't want one but was just wanting to show me her picture), she agreed, and so I gave her an honest, constructive crit that people around agreed with, and it started up a discussion on the anatomy of cloaked wings. All in all, it was turned into a teaching experience for all, and that was a good thing. (Yes, Matt, I'm considering applying for art or animation teaching jobs!)
So the panel was done a short while after. As people cleared out and Dreamie prepared for her costuming panel, I went over to Matt and greeted him with a hug. Matt knows how to hug, and it's a talent I find not many people have. Some people give half-hearted hugs, or stiffen and straighten back instead of leaning forward so you feel like you're hugging a metal rod. Matt gives good, warm, friendly hugs. :) After chatting a little, I asked him if he would join us, and we headed back to the art room to set up pre-registration for G2004. We took control of a desk and set up the mascot poster, and announced that pre-registration was open, and soon had people signing up for the next year's Gathering. Patrick Toman joined us, and we chatted, doodled, sold registration; Matt gave us his Knights of the Shroud ashcans in which he had done drawings for Sapph, Kyt and me. He made me a funny picture of Ellis and Neeve looking at me fencing and cracking a joke. Then, Matt showed his Malefic Malfoy comic on actual notecards (tiny!), and I told him how much the comic worked without the dialogue. We chatted more, drew more, sold more registration, and it was a lot of fun just sitting there and enjoying the company.
At 2, it was time to go to the cel making panel, so I went up to the room with Matt, Karlyl and Kyt, and got my supplies. We went back to the same room that was not Paris, and told the people there to sit around me as I plugged in the portable light desk into the wall. There was only a small group there, and really, making cels does not require much explanation, so I just gave the instructions on setup, mixed the paints and just started painting. Once in a while I'd give an explanation on something, but aside from that, I just painted. Other people stared, hypnotized, and some took out sketchbooks and drew at the same time. There was some chatting as well, so people weren't bored to tears by my just sitting there and painting. Once in a while I'd turn off the light and show the other side of the cell so the result was appreciated. I was almost finished with the cel when my time ran out, so I decided to finish the cell later when the paint was dry.
Kyt, Karlyl, Matt and I went to the room to drop off my cel stuff, but my card key didn't work, so we dropped off the cel stuff at the art show with the pre-reg people (Sapph was manning the station and got a LOT of pre-registrations -- she has convincing arguments, that one ;)). Then, the four of us went out to get food, and ended up at a place called Sbarro to have Pizza. I'm told this is a New York Pizza sin. I'm not a NewYorker. I don't know. I just enjoyed my pizza slice and my beer, and generally had a great time talking with Matt, Karlyl and Kyt. I can honestly say that this kind of thing is one of my favourite activities at the Gathering: hanging out with friends. We got to know Matt better, and it was just so much fun... and I'd like to point out that Matt has amazing blue eyes, and is quite handsome. I get the feeling he would deny this. ;)
When the Sbarro staff asked us if we wanted anything else, it was our cue to leave the restaurant. Kyt, Matt and I went back to my room, and we exchanged sketchbooks. And I sat there with Matt's sketchbook (I spied in it and looked at all his yummy pictures) trying to get an image down on the paper, but I felt I was just coming up with unsatisfying crap, so lots of erasing happened. I have to admit I was a little... intimidated? I felt that I had to draw something really nice for Matt because, well, he's such a great guy and such a great artist! He drew me a gorgeous picture of Roberta, with the pencil texture he put in the entire image, it's just amazing -- I'd even go so far as to say it's of frameable quality. It's that beautiful. Kyt also drew in my small book, but I ran out of time and didn't draw in hers :P so I'll just have to figure out a way to get to see her and draw for her in the not too distant future.
When the time to go to the banquet came along, Matt was going to leave, and I felt sad that he had to go. I didn't feel right about offering to pay for his banquet seat -- at some point, doing something like that can be considered an insult by some people, so I didn't know what to say, because I didn't want Matt to go yet. Then, Kelly decided that Matt was coming to the banquet. She didn't ask -- she just put her foot down and made that decision. That honestly impressed me. Kelly and Matt ran off to purchase a seat for him at the banquet (I offered to share the cost later on in the evening, which she accepted), and I finished getting ready. Kelly and I love to dress up fancy for the banquet, and it makes the event feel special when we do. Kelly had a sexy short sleveless dress, black, with vertical stripes that looked a little like tiger stripes. My outfit was the one I wore at my engagement party, a black pantsuit with spaghetti straps over the shoulders, and a sort of diaphanous black skirt around the body and down the back. Dreamie then showed up with that tiny black number, that made my motherly instincts go "Young lady, you're going to walk right back into you room and put on something decent!" because it was just THAT tiny. AAAAnyways, Kelly asked Matt to take a picture of the three of us, and we did the Charlie's Angels thing (I can't wait to see the pictures).
The banquet hall was... well, it wasn't very full. It was actually a bit disappointing to see all those empty tables. We did enjoy the food, which was buffet station style. There was a choice between roastbeef, chicken and salmon, with a side of carrots and veggies, and a choice between a ceasar salad or a house salad. The ceasar was already mixed with dressing and looked just nasty and soggy so I went for the other one. The deserts were a selection of pastries that looked just more yummy than the next, and from what I'm told, they were all very good. The coffee was also enjoyable. We chatted about the US president, about stuff I can't recall, and Shaun mentionned meeting David Wong in a convention a while back. The artist (and I use the term loosely) was asking about the Gathering, and made a griping comment about "why can't you people hold the Gathering in LA?" Oh sure, you want us to have OUR convention in YOUR area, hm? Before I continue ranting about David Wong, lemme just do the following exposition -- this man takes commissions from people at conventions and takes forever to draw the pictures. He screwed Kelly over, and she has a nice rant about him right here and has also used the image he made of Cindy's character Eden and sold prints of her, without Cindy's permission. So back to Shaun telling me about David Wong, who was asking about being a dealer at our convention, and the fact that he may see him at other conventions later: he wanted to know what to say to the artist when he ran into him at AX or ComicCon. My answer was simple: Tell him that we are not interested in dealing with him for our convention. Thanks, but no thanks. Shaun was smirking at that point, looking forward to relaying the message to the arrogant artist.
Nichelle Nichols, who played Elisa Maza's mother in Gargoyles and Uhura in Star Trek, was a guest this year (I missed the voice acting panels, but it was for a good cause ;)) and was asked questions at the banquet Q&A. She is a beautiful, beautiful woman. And her voice... it's just so smooth, and powerful... I love to listen to her talk. But, I also had to get ready for the masquerade, and Matt had to leave, so we all slipped out of the banquet hall and met up by the elevators.
I was sad that Matt was going -- his stay was too short! I was so happy to have finally met him in person, and to have spent a great day with him and friends, and I didn't want him to go, but I knew he had a train to catch. So I gave him a warm goodbye hug, and most everyone who was there did too... and then he had to go. :( Oh well, I'm sure we'll find an excuse to see each other again soon. ;)
Back in the room, I finished up the cel I'd done at the panel earlier in order to donate it to the auction, then started getting ready for the cosplay. Mara was kind enough to give me her blue eyeliner pencil so I could do my Fox makeup, and Patrick joined me shortly after with his own costume. Emilie was on the phone with a friend from the furry fandom. Patrick and I went into the bathroom to revise our lines, and I did his makeup; I did my own makeup and took the lifesize baby doll I'd brought as a prop, which during the course of the weekend had been dubbed "Spawn Of Xanatos".
We went upstairs and waited in line to make our entrance and do our cosplay skit. There were few costumed people this year, but what was there was pretty good. Kyt's Orcus costume was very cool -- kudos to hudson for the makeup job! Then, Patrick and I made our entrance -- me as Fox with baby Alex in my arms, and Patrick as Anastasia Renard, her mother(!). Our skit drew loud laughs, it was great! So much fun. After all the costumes were introduced, the guests withdrew to judge the contest. In the meantime, we didn't really know what to do. Dreamie tried to keep people interested by making the costumed people parade a little more, while some of us called out for music to get the party started and dance. well... that didn't happen. some music happened, but we didn't really get to dance. A little. Then the guests came back with the prizes, as well as the art show prizes, those were distributed (I'm just a bit miffed that staff got prizes -- I deliberately did not vote for staff members because I believed staff was not eligible for voting). So anyways, after the prizes were given, I expected the party to get going. You know, party? With, like, dancing and such? no?... err... well, eventually there was Rocky Horror Picture Show shown in that room and we were not interested. I wanted to go dance, dammit :P so Liz, Kelly and I went back to our room, got changed, did not take our purses but rather stuck the necessaries in our pockets, and the three of us walked out of the hotel, heading for a club we'd selected in a list the concierge showed us. It was a good, fun walk, where Liz and I sang Utena out loud, and we laughed and talked and generaly enjoyed our walk. We got to the China Rose club, barely waited in line, and got in; we passed security and got to the cash, where I asked how much the cover charge was.
25 frikkin' US dollars to get into a club for about an hour. While I was picking my jaw off the floor, Kelly leaned over to listen to the music, and asked, "Is this the type of music you play all evening?" The girl at the cash nodded, said "yes, pretty much". The three of us looked at each other and left.
We looked for another club to go to on the way back, but didn't find anythuing. I mentionned to Liz and Kelly that I'd rather find a place to go have a drink in rather than go back to the hotel and not have done anything. They both agreed, and we found a place a couple of blocks past the hotel. I ordered for all of us, calling a Melonball for Kelly, an Amaretto & Orange Juice for Liz and a Kamikaze for myself. We enjoyed our drinks and chatted for about an hour. We then went back to the hotel, and instead of going to bed because we had to get up early for Dim Sum the next morning, we stayed up with Nixie and drew in each other's sketchbook until 4AM and then some.
At some point we decided it was beyond time to go to bed, and checking the alarm clock again, I slipped under the covers and zonked out.
Sunday: We reluctantly left our beds at 8:39 (one snooze) knowing that people would be waiting for us in the lobby at 9:15 to go for Dim Sum. We got down there and were soon a full team: Kelly, Liz, Alan, Dreamie, Emilie, Patrick and me (was there anyone else? It's been a week, I think that's the gang). The lot of us went to take the subway, which surprised me because I expected the Dim Sum place to be within walking distance of the hotel. Then we waited for the train. And waited. And waited. We started getting worried because we had to be back in time to open pre-reg at the same time as the dealers room, at 11:00. The train finally showed up just when I was about to change my mind about going to Dim Sum.
When we got to Canal Street, we walked in search of the Dim Sum place Alan knew about. Kelly and I were a little on the panic side, thinking about our deadline and all, and we finally just found a place, any place that served the chinese breakfast. We scarfed down a selection of steamed delicacies, had very nice Jasmine tea, then Kelly, Dreamie and I grabbed a cab to get back to the hotel. We got there at 10 to, only to find that the room had already been opened by god knows who, when opening time was clearly stated as 11:00 AM.
I went to the room to get the money and raffle tickets, and *slaps forehead* I have to email the winner back, note to self! Anyways, Kelly and I sat down and continued taking pre-registration. Later on, Kelly went to Liz's computer colouring pannel, that I would have loved to attend, but duty called ;) I stayed at the pre-reg desk for the rest of the time before closing ceremonies. I drew a picture for Shaun, which Shaun decided to have printed at the back of his Staff t-shirt, which made us decide that we should all have such a shirt. Then I drew a commission for Brooklyn Magus. I was regularly asking if the cel I made the previous day had been auctionned off yet, because I wanted to know what it would go for. The auction was dragging on unbearingly long, so at one point the scheduled Atlantis Q&A got most people out of the auction, so that slowed the auction down even more, and they decided to report the rest of it to after Closing ceremonies.
I zipped off to the room to pack before Closing ceremonies started, so I missed most of the raffle draw. I got there just as they were getting to the prize of my art, and Liz's art, and the G04 Staff had relocated there, still taking pre-reg. I joined them, doodled something for Emilie while Karlyl and her were sharing my sketchbook, and kept looking at my watch to know how much time I had left before I had to leave.
Rob arrived, and insisted we take a picture together to prove we had actually seen each other in NYC. ;) A short short chat later, I had to hurry out, hugged my friends, waving big goodbyes, missing them already. I walked out of the hotel, and right there in front was a shuttle that was headed to the airport. I asked them if they had room for me, the driver cnsidered this for a second and said, "sure, get in".Woot, cheap, easy ride back.
I chatted with some of the people in the shuttle, then started doodling a picture of the G04 staff. I got to the airport 2 hours before takeoff, as I'd been advised, and found myself at the gate 5 minutes later. Finding this ridiculous, I turned around and went to have a late lunch/early dinner and a beer at the sportsbar before the security check, chatted with a couple of other Montrealers who were also waiting for their flight out while sipping beer and snacking on chicken wings, and continued working on the picture.
Flight home was uneventful. After the plane landed, however, there proved to be problems in attaching the bridge to the plane, so they had to back up the plane so we could descend by the plane stairs. Adam picked me up at the airport, all congested and sniffling, and we drove home.
It's all sort of like a mosaic. As various people fill in the events they were present for, you begin to get a full picture...