Friday, April 16, 2010

Adventures In Chicago: Days One & Two

Thursday, 9:40 a.m., Eastern Time

Do you ever pack for a trip, and you just know you're going to miss something? Well, I was intent on not letting that happen on my trip to Chicago and C2E2 (a.k.a Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo). Short- and long-sleeved shirts? Check. References for sketches? Check. Laptop? Check. And it doesn't occur to me until about ten minutes after I'm riding in the cab that I left my antidepressants at home.

Oh, crap.

One of the last things I wanted was to go through withdrawal for the next few days, but it looks like I might not have a choice. Granted, it could be worse. Nine months ago, I arrived at the airport too late, and I wound up missing my scheduled flight to San Diego. Not a fun start for my trip to Comic-Con International. I did get there, have fun, and wrote about my adventure, and I'm hoping this trip goes as smoothly, withdrawal or not.

C2E2 is my big convention adventure this year. CCI is still the main event, but it's too far away, too expensive, and the tickets sold out in December. This is the first C2E2, but it's run by the same guys behind New York Comic Con, so I'm expecting good things. And hopefully, I can do some tourist stuff. In fact, not only am I planning to go to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play in almost nine years, I'm having dinner with folks from the Television Without Pity forums. At least I'll save some money on a meal tonight.

It's almost boarding time here at Newark. Hopefully, the weather will be nice, the hotel will be cushy, and the lack of meds will be the biggest stumbling block on my big adventure.

11:56 p.m., Central time

Well, I don't have to worry about my medication. My mother sent it out for overnight delivery, and I should get them tomorrow. Plan B would've had my psychiatrist send my prescriptions to a drug store, but I don't know the neighborhood. Hell, it took me a while to find a supermarket to get dessert tonight, so looking for a pharmacist would've been a nightmare.

I wound up getting to Wrigley Field a little late, getting a decent seat behind the plate, a prime place for picture taking, albeit near some rowdy Brewers fans. The Cubs had one helluva game today, with both teams going back and forth. I didn't do that much exploring. I went to get my mother a keychain at the clubhouse store, and Aramis Ramirez wound up homering to tie the game up. The game had everything: lead changes, home runs, disputed plays, an ejection, and the Cubs losing with the tying run at the plate, 8-6. Ironically, the save went to Trevor Hoffman, who I saw in San Diego in 2000. He's older, but he can still get the job done.

After the game, I met up with Kathy, a.k.a. "Kaffyr" from the TWoP forums. To say that she and her husband Bob (along with their three cats) were gracious hosts would be an understatement. They welcomed me into their humble home, and Kathy fed me her Texas-style chili, which was filling. Turns out Bob and Kathy are old-school nerds; they met when Kathy was going from Nova Scotia to Los Angeles. They were into all sorts of fandoms back in the day, and they still remain involved today. They even let me watch Survivor when I asked, and they gave me a ride back to my hotel.

Ah, the hotel. It's not going well so far. Right now, the LAN is acting screwy, so I can't post this right away. It took about 45-60 minutes for somebody to figure out how I could connect my laptop to the Internet. It took almost as long for my bags to be brought up to my room. I walked in and found water dripping from a faucet into a quarter-filled tub. I believe in omens, and I'm not liking what I've seen so far.

Well, enough out of me for one day. Tomorrow, I'll be doing something touristy, and then I'll hit C2E2. And maybe all these bad vibes will clear up with no problems.

Friday, 11:16 p.m.

Did I say "no problems"? Turns out I had a lot of problems besides lack of antidepressants. Maybe I'd feel different if the stuff was in my system, like they'll be tomorrow (yep, they came today). but I doubt it.

I wound up going to the Shedd Aquarium. I should have gone to the local museum of natural history instead. Well, I do like live animals. And it was fun to see otters getting fed. Also, I saw dolphins, beluga whales, penguins, a semi-crippled turtle named Nickel (they found her injured and with five cents in her system), etc. I was expecting polar bears, though I don't know why. Maybe they're in the aquarium at Coney Island? Anyway, after a few hours, I got bored and opted not to see the big dolphin show. So I walked to the convention center. And I wandered. And I wandered some more.

Here's what I've found out about McCormick Place: it's a maze. It's a giant damn maze. Imagine the scene from This Is Spinal Tap, where the band is trying to find the stage. Now multiply that by about fifty. So there I was, walking through an emergency exit and onto the show floor, trying to briskly walk to the regular entrance before anybody caught me.

Then things got worse. At the spotlight panel for Kevin Conroy (the voice of the animated Batman for almost two decades), my digital camera died on me. My old camera had batteries that could be replaced. The new one has a battery pack that needs to be recharged. And guess who neglected to bring the charger? Seriously, when the "low battery" indicator went off yesterday at Wrigley, I thought I had a few days. Turned out I had about one day. And I wasted power on whales and otters. I wound up having to buy a disposable camera, and I have no clue if I can find a way to upload them to my Flickr gallery.

Anyway, while I distracted myself with my woes and various freebies, Conroy entertained his fans. Turns out he did some volunteer work as a cook in Manhattan in the days after 9/11, and he managed to make a guy's day when the fella recognized Batman's voice. Then Conroy did his "I am vengeance! I am the night! I AM BATMAN!" scthick to some disbelievers. I'm probably botching the story, but it was funny.

Sketches? It was a mixed bag. Some artists charge a lot of money, and it's more than what I'm comfortable paying out. Nobody sinks my heart faster than asking for a rate and hearing that it's $100 or something like that. Also, Danielle Corsetto -- my "go-to" webcomics gal -- isn't doing any hardcore sketching, so there went my primary plan to get a sketch of Poison Ivy in front of the ivy-covered walls at Wrigley. I did get a quick sketch of "special" cat Sprinkles from Girls With Slingshots, so it wasn't a total loss. I found a Doctor Who fan in Amy Mebberson at the BOOM! Studios booth, and I got Leela from her. And I got a Gena Ha sketch (Flash from Kingdom Come) for the first time in almost ten years. Hopefully, I can get more inexpensive sketches in the next few days.

I wound up making another mistake. I reunited with writer extraordinaire Gail Simone and her husband. And what do I do instead of tagging along with them to go to a restaurant? I go to a screening of two episodes of Doctor Who, episodes that I had seen before but could barely hear because I saw them in a large crowd at a restaurant. Nothing terrible about that, but by the time the screening ended, I wound up flailing for a random exit, and realizing that short sleeves and Chicago nights just don't mix. Took me at least twenty minutes before I caught a cab to go back to the hotel.

I keep telling myself that it's going to get better, but I keep thinking that maybe I made a mistake coming out here. I got two days to turn it around, though, so hopefully things can . . . will get better.

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