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Gathering journal, New York City, 2003 (copied and pasted with minor edits)
The Gathering...well, my goodness. What a weekend. Here and there, I managed to steal just a few moments to myself in my room, listening to jazz on the CD player as I looked out the window over late-night Manhattan. Magnificent. Also, take it from this stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old: Being able to wear nice clothing and makeup for three days straight was a rare treat indeed.
And this was just the background stuff.
I'll readily admit that I didn't get nearly as much NYC-related activity accomplished as I had planned. For that matter, I got much less *eating and sleeping* accomplished than I had planned, mainly because I continually found myself in situations where, if I couldn't stop talking, I couldn't stop listening.
Upon my arrival, I sought food, because I knew I wouldn't take any time out to eat once I started wandering around the Gathering sites and meeting people. Upon the recommendation of one of the flight attendants on the way from Chicago, I hit the salad bar at Macy's for something quick and good, accompanied by Sarah the Great, with whom I began chatting in the elevator. I returned with her and went to the art room, where I ran into some rotten kid named Dylan Blacquière, and my writer's-retreat weekend was off to the races.
For me, the ability to talk out loud about the extent of my fascination with and affection for a cartoon series, of all things, was special enough, but the ability to do so with a cadre of talented writers, including Greg Weisman himself, was what made this weekend well worth its cost and more -- *so* much more.
It was partly because I was one time zone removed from mine, but the hours of the days got completely away from me. The time flew by as the little group of us sat around the table for the Othercon round robin, laughing and spinning tales and exercising the naughty-story-telling muscles in our brains. Then it was time for the "Erotica 101" panel with Princess and Mooncat (prefaced delightfully by a long-delayed face-to-face meeting with Allaine), which was every bit the erudite discussion I expected it to be. And I'm not being facetious; good smut writing is a surprisingly intellect-intensive endeavor. What this all meant, however, was that we were late getting into Greg and Thom's late-night (read: blue) panel. We arrived in plenty of time, however, for the revelation regarding Lexington's sexual orientation (I am among those who were not surprised by this tidbit).
More importantly in my view, this was only my second opportunity to hear Mr. Weisman talk first-hand about "Gargoyles" (the first being the opening ceremonies), and the first time I heard him speak in such depth about the series. No questions or responses of any kind came to my mind; I was simply content to listen to this bright, imaginative, personable individual talk for as long as he wanted, and, when he was finished, to wish he'd say more.
The character-development panel that I shared the following morning with Dylan, Allaine, and Patrick Toman was a sheer joy. What a pleasure it was to participate in the discussion and to listen not only to these outstandingly talented gentlemen but to the attendees as well, who helped in equal measure to make the session successful -- and to all of whom I send out a special thanks for being there.
I wanted to pick up something for my son while I was in Manhattan, so it was back to Macy's with me after the panel. As usual, the time got away from me, which meant that I was late for Dylan et al.'s crossover-universes panel. (Unfortunately, this also meant that I missed Greg's panel on animation writing altogether, which I regretted at the time and now, after subsequently having had an opportunity to talk writing with him, out-and-out breaks my heart in retrospect. However, going into the convention, I knew and accepted the fact that schedule conflicts came with the territory. Life goes on.)
Next on the docket was a thoroughly enjoyable chat with Kathy Pogge (and others who congregated in the hall) that grew out of her and Patrick's "Am I Blue?" Othercon writing exercise. The discussion group that formed out in the hall became one of the day's highlights; it's that kind of spontaneous give-and-take that makes an assembly of a diverse and intelligent group like this the treasure it is.
At this point it became abundantly clear to me that the only way I'd be at all functional that evening was to retreat to my room and get a little shut-eye. Naturally, I overslept, and was late getting to the banquet (which I had to leave early after just a light nosh because I was having dinner with a friend). I nonetheless had another pleasant discussion, this one with a girl named Sylvia and her mother (whose name I believe was Anne; forgive my poor memory).
I had to leave just as the Q&A was beginning. That was the downside. The upside was that I went from there down to the lobby to meet up with a childhood friend of mine who lives in Manhattan and works as an actress when she can, and for a caterer when she must. We hadn't seen each other in a while and had a great deal to get caught up on, but the first issue at hand, of course, was the reason I was in Manhattan to begin with. As we were walking over to the next block to get a taxi to Grand Central Station and its splendid old Oyster Bar restaurant, I pulled my convention badge out of my purse and showed it to her. "Welcome to my secret life," I began. It took me a good half hour simply to explain the plot of "Awakening" to her (and I'm sure that the people at the table next to us were thoroughly amused listening to me explaining a medieval/fantasy action/adventure soap opera as well). By the time I was finished, however, she was enthralled, and was determined to pick up a copy of the DVD as soon as it comes out next year.
As an aside, as we walked back out of the station building, I pointed up to the top of the Chrysler Building and explained to her how the silver falcons on the corners figured into the eponymous episode the rest of us know and love. She was duly impressed.
From there we went to one of Manhattan's best -- and best-kept -- secrets: a cozy gentlemen's-club-style bar in the meeting room of what used to be the downtown pied-à-terre of a wealthy businessman around the turn of the century, now restored as an elegant, dark, intimate cocktail lounge. I gave my pals at the Gathering all the details about it, but here in the online version of my Gathering journal, its name and location shall remain secret. (Watch for it to be written into at least one of my future stories, in equally anonymous fashion.) We listened to the jazz combo jamming over in the corner of the room and toasted the evening with -- what else? -- a lovely single-malt scotch. Then we figured we should call it a night, so that she could go home and get some sleep after an already hectic weekend for her, and so that I'd be able to squeeze in a little more conversation with my writer pals at the hotel. This is essentially what happened, except that my one-on-one conversation with Dylan was moved across the street to a late-night saloon. After this, more conversation with him and Mandolin back at the hotel outside the banquet room, and yet more conversation in MC and Princess's room, it was time to call it quits and get a few more hours of sleep.
On Sunday morning I was playing catch-up from the moment I woke up, but I did make it to the art room in time to bid on (and win) a couple of delightful pieces. Most importantly, though, I finally found an opportunity to introduce myself to Greg Weisman. He proceeded to regale me by discussing the mechanics of fiction writing with me for what I fear was a rather immodest amount of time. Next time I'd better take my wristwatch off and put it on the table in front of me; this is someone whose brain I could pick for hours if no one grabs me by the shoulder and shakes me back into the real world.
Following the inevitable and all-too-soon farewells after the closing ceremonies, there remained one last thing for me to do before I left New York. I boarded the E train, direction Brooklyn, and visited the World Trade Center site -- the epicenter of a number of changes in my life, including my involvement in the "Gargoyles" universe. Probably because I was simply numb at that point, I remained surprisingly calm while I surveyed the gaping hole in the ground, still littered with sizable piles of rubble and adorned starkly by a plain concrete monument featuring the famous salvaged broken girders forming a nearly perfectly symmetrical cross. When I finally turned away and headed back to the subway stop, I came away with feelings of closure and completeness -- and of things having come full circle.
Yet, along with this sense of closure I also came away from New York with a sense of having made a new beginning. This weekend's experience did much to reinforce my decision to focus on writing at this stage in my life (as much as I'm able to do so while focusing more immediately on such things as keeping my three-year-old healthy and happy and off the roof), and I have my fellow Gathering attendees to thank for this. To everyone on the Gathering staff, please know that I am aware that this glorious weekend was there for my enjoyment because of all the hard work you all put into this event, and I'm grateful. Sarah the Great, I enjoyed our conversation very much, and I'm delighted to have met you first off at the convention. Spacebabie, Aaron, Alex/Orion, Mara, Mandolin, Greg Bishansky, Sarah Berkeley, Lynati, Lain, Sylvia and Anne, Patrick, Kathy, Leo, Diamond Debbie, Chyna Rose, Stephen, and so many others who made me feel welcome and whose monikers I shamefully cannot recall at the moment, it was truly a pleasure. BiZZ, you're a great guy and a real trooper for coming all that way just for the weekend. Hope you're over the jet lag by now. Princess, you're a delight to chat with; I'm so glad I had this opportunity to meet you. I hope you and Mooncat had a great time during your extra days in the Big Apple. Speaking of whom, MC, you're a doll, pure and simple. I'm so lucky to have a writer pal like you, and shame on me for not saying that often enough. Allaine, there wasn't a crapload of snow on the ground this time around. How 'bout that? You're every bit as engaging as you sounded over the phone on that spectacularly loused-up weekend in Philly. Meeting you face-to-face was worth the wait. Dylan, my "nephew," I said it all in the banquet room by saying nothing. Words fail me -- and anyone who's seen the length of my stories knows that doesn't happen very often. You're a good kid, you'll go far, and I'm proud to say that I knew you when. And if you don't show up in Montreal, I'll go find you and kick your rump.
Finally, Greg, despite what you said to me Sunday morning, we're still not square. My column in the ledger is still showing an awful lot of red ink, and there's more and more of it with every story I write. The paltry phrase of "thank you" does a lousy job of covering it.
(With this, Ellen shuts down the computer for the night, turns out the light, and heads off to bed, still wondering how much she'd have to bribe Disney to get that production scene of downtown Manhattan at night framed over her fireplace in her living room...)
So... not to totally miss the point, but... have you confirmed that your friend, the actress/caterer, bought the DVD?