After the book club panel ended, I went to lunch with ckd and aedifica and one of their friends, and then we picked up two extra WisCon first timers while in line at the restaurant. Yay! I love having social meals at cons when I can sit down and talk to new people at a leisurely pace. We all talked about what we were on or planning to attend, and how we felt about WisCon so far.
*The attention to accessibility -- On the party floor, the hallway was divided into two lanes: one for moving, and one for standing and talking to people. This was great because it kept clear lines of traffic for everyone, including people who were using mobility aids. Plus, if we were having a fun conversation in the "okay to linger" lane, we didn't have to feel like we were being obnoxious and in the way. It was very cool. Also neat: areas marked with blue tape for people who needed extra space, a clear line of sight to see people's lips moving, etc. In general, there were a lot of little details that made it easier for a wide variety of people to enjoy the con, and that's awesome, because I loved being able to hang out with people who needed those sorts of accommodations.
*The way the program was proposed and filled by the general membership of the con -- This basically meant that anyone could have a chance to suggest a panel or be on one, and that made for a lot of interesting variety. We all had different interests at that lunch table, but everyone was excited about attending program items. Most of us had at least one block when we were really sad that we couldn't attend at least three different things. I felt like really what would have helped me most at WisCon was a time-turner.
*The diverse population of the con -- POC, people with wheelchairs/canes/walkers, LGBTQI people, feminists, media fans, book fans, science enthusiasts, international fans.... It was unspeakably cool.
*The quality of random conversations -- Everywhere I went, I could pretty much count on having great conversations.
So, anyway, after lunch, I wandered through the farmers market where I ran into catherineldf and one of her friends, and proceeded to have a very nice chat while sitting outside in the gorgeously not too hot or cold weather. Madison gave me nice weather for my birthday! Then I went back to the hotel to meet up with Ada Milenkovic Brown, who had found me on Thursday evening (which was her birthday! Yay!) and asked if I would do the pair exercises in Writing the Other with her so that she could have done them before being on the Writing the Other panel on Sunday. I don't quite know how Ada got the idea that I would be the right person to do this with (especially since she didn't even know that I'd taken the workshop in January at Arisia), but I certainly didn't mind! It's nice that someone I know only a little has the idea that I'm good for that kind of thing. To thank me, and as a birthday surprise, she gave me an origami lily, too. So cool!
After that, I posted a castle entry for my birthday companion, sartorias, and then I went down to the 4:00-5:15 panel slot. This was one of those really rough slots. Everything looked amazing, and I wanted to do them all, but I could only do one, alas. Sumana really wanted to do two of them, and both were ones I'd found interesting, so we agreed to split up and compare notes. Sumana went to Describing Non-White Characters Sans Fail, and I went to Reading with a Squint (which was about editorial bias in story selection). It was a good thing Sumana went to the one she did, because as it turned out, Rachel Swirsky had a migraine and couldn't make it, so Sumana sat in for her, leading to this bit of amusing signage.
The editorial bias panel explored ways to encourage more POC and women and so forth to submit and keep trying after they get rejected. The Strange Horizons crew talked about running numbers to see how many stories all the major magazines published were by women as opposed to by men, and about trying to send personal and encouraging responses when rejecting people who belong to marginalized groups. Audience members agreed that Strange Horizons tended to send really good rejection letters. I think I was pretty tired and hungry, so my concentration may not have been the best, and I didn't try to take any notes.
Luckily the dinner break was next, and Sumana and I rendezvoused in the lobby to exchange panel impressions and go off to dinner. Actually, Sumana said, she was scheduled to have two dinners, and would I like to come to both? It was my birthday, and I was feeling adventurous, so off to two dinners we went! The first was with Liz Argall and Valerie Aurora. We talked about all kinds of really neat things like the awesome and not so awesome stuff that comes along with being geeky women, what we care about and how to champion it, medical stuff, stuff we feel okay and not okay about putting up on the internet, and so on. It was such a lovely time that we actually had to group hug on the way back to the hotel. Okay, I'm not going to lie. We had to group hug twice.
Sumana and I had cagily eaten only a light salad course at first dinner, which meant we were both ready for the exciting dumpling course at the Tibetan restaurant with Rachel Swirsky and her entourage. Liz joined us, too, and we proceeded to spend second dinner talking about gender and feminism and trans issues, and also about the Autism panel, which was apparently somewhat problematic. I was sad to hear that since I knew haddayr was on it, but the consensus was that she'd been her usual awesome self. People were concerned that none of the panelists were actually on the autism spectrum, though, and apparently at least one panelist said some rather upsetting things. I don't know the details, only that one of my dinner companions felt rather personally hurt by what had happened. This is troubling, and it makes me wonder how we can improve panels in the future. It seems like a good idea to have panels like this, but also like a very important thing try to do right. So, something to think about.
After second dinner it was back to the hotel for a quiet group conversation with Jed and Mary Anne and some others. It was lovely, but by the end of it, most of us were starting to fall asleep. I said I would go to bed, but Sumana told me I really needed to stop by the Haiku Earring Party first. I didn't know what that was, but I said all right as long as I could only go for a few minutes. Ha!
The Haiku Earring Party turns out to be a WisCon tradition wherein elisem makes earrings and gives you a title, you write a haiku, and then with Elise's approval, you keep the earrings in exchange for the words. How cool is that? My earrings had red flowers, clear roundish faceted beads, and red rectangular beads. Elise asked if I had a genre preference, and I said no, and then she sized me up, and, as if she knew my inner soul, asked, "You don't mind if I take this in a very silly direction?" Of course I didn't, which is how I ended up writing this:
The Vampire's Babysitter
Her favorite things
are geraniums and blood
and summer evenings.
I thought the roundish beads looked like stars, you see. And in summer, I bet the babysitter has more time to linger before her shift starts.
Of course as soon as I was done with my earrings, I got caught up in conversation again and then eventually ended up at Cat Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making launch party. This party was one of the most hopping things on Saturday night, and it was full of amazing performers. S. J. Tucker reprised her earlier concert, and then it sort of turned into an open mic, such that I got to finish my birthday by listening to Liz Argall singing songs she wrote, and Amal singing "Stairs in Her Hair" and then dueting with Claire on a Mister Fox ballad. All while sitting with a lovely group of people including pattytempleton, and getting birthday wishes from all directions. I couldn't really regret staying up past my intended bedtime for that.
Next up: Sunday, which was my big panel day, and which will certainly require its own entry.