Sometimes the old ways are best

In which we wander, at length.

We all reverted to our old ways this year, as Jeff points out.

Myself, I tend to wander. It's my natural mode somehow, for some reason I never determined. I tend to wander, and think, and feel distantly and quietly pleased. This is my log -- about 18 hours, most of which I really wish I'd slept through.

2146: Finally arrive on site, after a sleepless night, a day of work, a flying lesson, and a long ride up the Metro. In French, the word "Metro" seems to carry a faint tinge of loneliness -- something the English equivalent induces but doesn't convey. At least, so I always imagined. I don't speak French myself.

2220: Order whiskey at a downtown bar. Balvenie single barrel. I like Balvenie, and I don't drink it often for some reason. Seems like as good a time as any. And I've had a long day, and I still have no idea where to go or what to do.

2230: This place is too loud for whiskey. That's the problem with popular bars. Popularity.

2306: Get some iced tea from the supermarket. For hydration.

2317: Arrive at the JW Marriott. Big crowd, looks like they're entirely from the X games. Something's making a terrible noise. Metal on metal. Nothing for me here.

2324: This is going to be one of the longest nights of my life. Heading to the convention center. May as well sit down outside, drink tea, get my bearings.

I know where I am. I mean my bearings metaphorically. What am I doing here? Do I really expect to prove anything by staying up all night? Do I expect some kind of insight? Will I remember any of this? What was my plan, anyway?

2345: Arrive at Karaoke in the convention center to discover they're moving, as is traditional at midnight. I don't know -- I think the whole thing's kind of silly myself. Ideally I think they'd have two karaoke rooms, one that ran open mic at the Bonaventure and one that did the normal program in the convention center. But I'm not sure if there's enough demand to justify it.

2351: Not much to do. More wandering. I don't feel effective. I'm still a little lost, I suppose. If I sit outside and watch people for a while, that might help. Aspire to the human condition.

2357: I think I've seen a dozen people I know, not counting my brief foray into Karaoke. Don't feel like talking to any of them.

0002: And what's with all these women dressed in terrible, unattractive heels? I blame the X games.

0010: Could be worse. Could be the guy complaining behind me. There's melancholy, there's self-pity, and then there's just refusing to accept that contentment is a possibility. I have only contempt for this stance.

0020: Note Denny's has a line and the Pantry does not. There ain't no justice.

0034: Relax. Pace yourself. Get a beer from the hotel, but only one.

0047: Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss. Delicious.

0055: Relax and enjoy the infomercial. (That's what my notes say. I add here that it was for some piece of exercise equipment that had clearly started its life as a walker for elderly Oompa-Loompas. The sight of some muscled Olympian lifting it behind his back grew more comical the longer I watched.

0107: Feeling better. About 12 hours to go. Clearly doomed.

0130: Peer pressure causes me to have to buy a beer. At least I can chat with a fellow karaoke afficionado.

0150: Manage to get to karaoke. One of my old haunts at conventions, for reasons I won't dwell on here.

0240: Offered a couch, turn it down. No one but myself to blame.

0500: Part company with media enthusiast. We'd spent the last hour -- possibly more -- sitting in the lobby talking about stuff we'd watched. That's one of the things about media. It's how we define ourselves.

0513: It appears I am incapable of keeping myself entertained.

0527: Sun's almost up. It's been threatening to come up for the last half-hour. Decide I will try to check in at noon.

0539: Still don't know where to go. Decide to wander over to the X games, see if they're starting up yet. (Spoiler alert: the answer is no.)

0549: Nope. Moving stuff around, making barriers and taking them apart. Seen in the light, this looks like even more of a logistic impossibility.

0554: Regina Spektor, "Us", playing in the lobby of the JW Marriott. I love that song. Those moments when she trills out "living in a. . ." and drops her voice to come down sharp on "den of thieves" are still perfect, still somehow surprising.

0610: Nothing's happening. I have to sit and rest during these times. Won't be able to later. If I remind myself of that, if I force myself to sit and take a few notes, I may yet survive.

0623: Saw a wandering cosplay photographer. They're distinctive. Not fully socialized, as we joke about ourselves. Maybe he's not wandering. Maybe he's walking somewhere with purpose, and the certainty that his actions have meaning and a definite end. Must be nice. I need sleep so much.

0641: Got into the convention center. It's not open, but I need to do press registration and such. Had a nice chat with one of the guards. He's really looking forward to the X games. And, in the light, seeing those giant loops in the roadway, how could we not?

0644: Wonder if this could be turned into a cellphone novel.

0654: Irresistible urge to go off somewhere by myself, to die like an elephant, I'm sure.

0727: Ascertained the location of the press lounge and that reg opens at 11. (This turned out to be wrong. Maybe that was general reg? Or maybe I meant 8, which would have been accurate. There are inherent problems with collecting information in the half-living state of severe sleep deprivation.)

0728: Sparrow in the convention center. I'm not impressed with their physical security.

0735: Reached Aldo via phone message. Tasked with getting tickets to the FictionJunction concert. The place is filling up. Technically doors open at 8, but a lot of people need to get in before then to do setup.

0744: Getting antsy. Waiting for reg to open. This is a necessary prelim, I tell myself.

0800: Badge get.

0803: Tickets signed for, number 3 on the list.

0926: Tear myself away from the press lounge. It's comfortable and quiet, but there's, like, a real con out there.

0934: Time's passing faster now. Not really a good sign, but it might help me get through the next few hours. It's one of my calibration loops -- how accurately can I perceive the passage of time? If seconds seem to tick by twice as fast as usual, I roll over and go back to sleep.

0939: Dropped in on the tail end of the Aksys panel. Nothing too interesting. They patiently explain that, as localizers, they don't usually have much choice what systems they release on -- if the original version isn't on a platform, there's nothing they can do about it.

0950: Met up with Aldo and friends. More wandering. We go and klbitz at the press lounge for a while.

1050: Met Jeff. We go back to the press lounge. I'm beginning to question the idea of spending so long here. Again, there's an entire convention out there.

1159: Get tired of waiting for FictionJunction tickets. We were supposed to have them at noon, and it's not technically noon yet, but I don't expect them to show up in the next minute. Or the next hour, come to that.

1215: I hadn't realized that the X games would make navigation so very perilous. I walked, got turned around, walked some more. I just need to get to the hotel. Spent the last 5 minutes dithering in the convention center lobby, trying to find a way through the X games roadblock. Even under normal circumstances I think I'd find it trying. As-is, it's herculean.

1228: Arrive at hotel. Check in.

1240: Sleep. Not doing this again until I've thoroughly forgotten how terrible it was.

—chris