Eat It Like A Taco!
I went down to the Palm Room where the registration/meet&greet was being held, still trembling a bit from the stress of being lost in SF and Oakland, as well as the fear of being late, combined with the excitement of finally seeing in real life all these people whose lives I read about online. I recognized The Mighty Kymm right away (and it wasn't because of her hair, really!), and thought the girl sitting next to her might just be Weetabix. (She was!) Cute little Jen Wade greeted me, directed me to the nametags, and gave me my special Alcatraz packet. The next hour or so is a blur of meeting other journalers - some of whom I read regularly, some I don't - snapping pictures, and mingling.
Okay, to be honest, I spent a lot of time just hanging back taking in the scene, reading people's nametags to see who they were, and whether or not I read them, still unable to believe I was really there. I was hoping my Shy Girl persona would've stayed at home, but apparently she came, too. I know it was stupid, but I was truly too shy to actually introduce myself to either Kymm or Weet, or MoPie or Glitter, whom I saw later, or Lynda, whose journal (parenthesis) was one of the first I ever read, or Lucy from Aries Moon, or Pamie, who just blew me away when she first walked in. She's like, a celebrity, you know, and it was just so totally cool that she was standing in the same room not two feet away from me. I know. I'm an idiot. But, it's PAMIE, people! PAMIE! She's like, totally famous and stuff! She sings, she acts, she writes, she does comedy, and she's having a book published next year. She's getting published before me! Of course, she's actually finished a manuscript and pimped it around, found an agent, and other active getting-a-book-published stuff like that, while I just sit around and think how cool it would be if one of my unfinished, totally lame little novels would be published, and instead of actually working at it, I go write some fan fiction instead. Okay, I'm a little jealous. Never mind. Moving on.
After Jen's Opening Comments, including the very important but cryptic message from the manager of the Golden Phoenix restaurant where we would be eating regarding the appetizer ("Eat it like a taco!"), we all headed off to Chinatown. Some people took mobile transportation, but some of us brave souls decided to walk. We were told it was only a ten-minute walk, and even though I was wearing my long denim skirt and chucky Mudd shoes, I figured I could make it. Mom and I have been doing our weekly "Coffee Walks" for several months, now, and I figured I was in pretty good shape. However, it was still warm and muggy out, and I'd forgotten that SF is all about hills, so I was huffing and puffing, and dripping with sweat almost right away. Guess I'm not is as good of shape as I thought! Oh, but I was so very glad I had gotten my hair cut shorter before going to SF! It wasn't half as bad as it could've been! I perspired so much my hair was actually wet again, but since it was short, it was easier to conceal; I just slicked it back like it was gelled. Had it been longer, it would have been truly nasty! And, actually the shoes turned out to be quite comfortable, although by the time we got to the restaurant, a couple of my toes were bitching at me.
At long last we arrived at the Golden Phoenix and piled our 70+ group of people into the rather tiny establishment. I sat at the Jake/Craig (explanation to come later), Weetabix, Bitter Hag, Bev, Jenna, Josh, and Terry table. I chatted a bit with the people in my immediate area (Terry, Jake/Craig, and Weet), but found I couldn't really have a conversation with anyone else at the table due to the noise level. Again, I found myself just looking around a lot and being amazed. There were so many people I'd never even heard of there, but everyone else seemed to know who they were, so I had a hard time keeping up with some of the gossip and in-jokes. I had tried to go through all the attendee's journals before going, but I just didn't have time to do much more than go to the sight and take a quick peek.
So, about an hour later, the waiters finally started coming out and putting stuff on our plates (they'd been coming round with tea and water, but no food). The stuff, however, turned out to be hot moist towels. The significance of the hot moist towel was totally lost on me, but I noticed a few people picking them up and wiping their hands or faces with them. Since that didn't sound very refreshing to me, I just stared at it. Ten minutes later, I was tempted to pick it up and start chewing on the thing I was so hungry. Finally, the infamous appetizer was brought out: a mixture of ground pork and vegetables served on a lettuce leaf. I could see now where it could be eaten like a taco, but could also be just as easily consumed with a fork, or in this case, chopsticks. The fact that the manager had thought it important enough to call Jen up in a panic to make sure we all knew how to properly eat the appetizer was pretty funny, and "eat it like a taco" became the catch phrase for JCon02. The rather innocent looking appetizer that had caused so much stress with the restaurant's manager was, in fact, delicious. And, yes, I ate it like a taco, as instructed.
After the appetizer and a brief break, food was delivered in rapid succession: lemon chicken, beef and broccoli, a veggie thing with chicken, a noodly crab thing, and rice. There may have been more, I don't remember. I just remember the never-ending plates of food being set on the large lazy Susan in the middle of the table, and the thing spinning around and around as everyone dished up. The food, by the way, was fantastic, and the company was, of course, amazing. The noise level was such that my ears were buzzing and the room spun a couple of times, but it was really, really wonderful!
As we left, we noticed there was a news crew set up across the street from the restaurant, and we jokingly speculated that they were there to cover JournalCon, until we saw that they'd isolated a rather nice looking but simple fire hydrant with their spotlights and other equipment. The fire hydrant was painted blue, and was apparently famous, or something since a news story was about to be done about it. A couple people took pictures of the non-action. I tried to, but my battery was dying, and nothing came out. We never found out the significance of the pretty blue fire hydrant, which I think is kinda sad; it might've been important.
The walk back to the hotel was much shorter than the walk to the Golden Phoenix, mostly because we'd taken the scenic route through Chinatown before, but I was still sweating by the time we got back. There was some more chatting and getting-to-know-everyone in both the Palm Room and the lobby, and later some people headed off to various bars in the area to drink. Sadly, I was beat, and didn't have the energy to join them. I gave up relatively early, and headed back to the room where I collapsed in a hot, sweaty heap on the rollaway (my mom got the bed). I was exhausted and sticky, yet happy and excited, and I slept like a rock.