I’ve been answering this question all week. And that answer is … complicated.
We traveled by car from DeKalb, IL to San Antonio, TX over 2 days, as we had to bring Caitlin with us to WorldCon, and traveling by plane with her is both expensive and challenging due to her liquid diet. It was cheaper and relatively simpler to drive, because we have everything with us in the car. And by everything, I mean that to function with Caitlin, we travel with a METRIC TON of medical equipment, feeding supplies, entertainment stuff. Leaving our house for a day trip with Cait is a tactical strike. Setting her up offsite is a full-on operation.
That said, she’s actually pretty good with traveling by car, especially now that she can see out the window in our new Mazda. But 22 hours in the car means that “pretty good” is still stressful and exhausting for Mom and Dad. It’s about an 18 hour trip, but driving with Cait means more stops for meals, medication, and diaper changes. Which adds travel time. We broke the trip up over 2 days in an attempt to be safe and relatively okay when we arrived at con. *laughs*
We left as early as we could on the Wednesday (we were on the road by 7 or 8 am, I think?), and landed at our travel hotel around 11pm or so. We refrained from stopping at many excellent roadside attractions in Missouri, such as the Jesse James Wax Museum and the Vaccuum Cleaner Museum, despite Michael’s half-jesting requests. We brought along some of the Doctor Who BBC missing episodes on CD, so I finally got to hear Power of the Daleks, and The Highlanders, both of which were absolutely excellent. The Underwater Menace on the way back? NOT so excellent, alas.
We stopped overnight at a Hampton Inn in Macalester, OK on both ends of the trip. It was a lovely, clean, quiet hotel. They were extra helpful. With free wifi and a decent hot breakfast. Hampton Inn is rapidly becoming one of my favorite chains (and I never thought I’d get to the point as an adult where I have favorite hotel chains, but there you go). Got up, repacked the car, and drove through the rest of the Oklahoma bit and Texas.
Texas? IS BIG, Y’ALL. Like whoa. We hit some nasty traffic in Austin in the last leg of the trip, and rolled in on Thursday evening around dinnertime. Exhausted. If you saw me before I had been fed fish tacos and a mango mojito, and I had a blank 50-yard stare, I apologize. I was not fit for human interaction until sometime on Friday.
Oh, and my phone completely bricked on Friday. So I had even more limited communications, and had lost all my list of contacts, too. *facepalm*
My panel schedule was not HUGELY onerous by my usual convention standard, but I am coming to the point where I need to revise my max panel number downwards more than I thought.
It’s almost a week later, and I’m STILL exhausted. So, I’m very very late by Internet Time in telling you about WorldCon.
Friends kindly volunteered to help out with watching Caitlin throughout the convention in the evenings so that I could socialize a bit, with a couple of daytime sessions when Michael and I were cross-scheduled, and we deeply, deeply appreciate that help. We set up a schedule for each evening, even if we didn’t end up accepting all the help offered because, for instance, I decided on Thursday night that going to bed around 11pm was a much better idea than forcing myself to stay up, especially given that my convention schedule included mostly morning panels. Some evenings, we didn’t make it back from dinner until nearly 10 or 10:30, due to Convention Time Dilation (you know, that thing where your dinner group grows organically from 5 to 10 and you end up not getting seated until 8pmish). So my socialization time was cut back quite a bit, simply because I needed to sleep in order to get up with Caitlin.
I’m not going to lie. Trying to parent Caitlin while doing a convention is utterly exhausting. It’s a perfect storm of convention-exhausting and special-needs-parent exhausting. Add to that the stress of the Hugos and launching Glitter & Mayhem, and you might see why I’ve been mostly quiet rather than having post after post of WOO! WORLDCON! WOO! HUGOS! this week.
Here’s the issue: conventions are highly nocturnal. I… am not, especially when trying to parent Caitlin and work simultaneously. In our workaday life, we have a pretty rigid schedule, and that allows us to function. I compartmentalize a lot to be able to function professionally. When I’m at work, I’m at work. Caitlin is at school. Michael is working from home. When I’m home, I’m home. We try to keep family time for the family, and the Apex work gets done after Caitlin is in bed. We go to bed on a pretty regular schedule, usually by 11pm, even on weekends.
Compartmentalization doesn’t work nearly as well at conventions. The prime example is running back and forth with panels on Saturday, when Cait was barfy, because it’s never good when your kid is barfy and you’re trying to be cogent on a panel. As an example. And that happened to Michael. I got Cait from him after my signing, he went to his panel, and she barfed on route to us seeing his panel. I had to ask a friend to text him and let him know why we weren’t there. Which of course makes him worry more.
It’s difficult to focus on either the convention or Caitlin sufficiently to do justice to either.
Convention schedules also blow our functioning routine out of the water in a big way. Much of the business of a convention happens in the evenings at parties and BarCon, because most of the pros (like me) are paneling and having meetings (in my case, with donors) during the day. Unfortunately, intense discussions about the business around 2 am don’t work with my body clock generally, and that goes double when I’m trying to parent on Cait’s schedule, too. Even if I’m there in body, I’m not there cognitively. Michael functions better without sleep than I do, so he tends to stay for those, and I try to let him sleep in the mornings as much as possible. We tag team as much as we can.
But there are complications. Random barfing is a thing with Caitlin. There isn’t necessarily a cause like a virus or a fever or a tummy thing. Sometimes, she just barfs. Cait did well on Friday, but Saturday she was barfy much of the day. This, as you might imagine, made things harder (and messier). Michael basically spent much of Saturday afternoon in our hotel room, while I was in the guest laundry debarfing stuff. We were able to make it to the Glitter & Mayhem launch party on Saturday night, thank goodness, but frankly, it was a close thing, and we were terrified that Cait would end up barfy at the roller rink.
She got herself together, and we had a great time at the party. I got to roller skate for the first time in like 20 years, and I only wiped out twice!
Here’s me and Deb Stanish at the Launch Party.
Galen Dara and I attempting to recreate the cover. More pics are coming (Locus took a whole bunch), but you can see more here on our Facebook page for now.
Sunday was unscheduled, so we spent the day going to the Alamo in the morning, and getting ready for the Hugos in the afternoon.
Excellent photoset by badchess (Philip Peterson) of the Hugos. Here is a pic of us winning, and here’s a lovely photo of Michael and I. And it’s not a complete Hugos ceremony without Michael planking on Chris Garcia. As you do.
The SF Squeecast won for Best Fancast! Chicks Dig Comics and Apex Magazine didn’t win in their respective categories, so that meant that the ceremony was a bit of a mixed bag. I was happy and honored to win, and sad to lose, as you might imagine.
ETA: (blaming Monday brain here): I should also note that I was VERY happy for both Writing Excuses and Clarkesworld who won Hugos in those categories that I did not, and all of the nominees deserve a round of applause, because that was some amazing work being recognized all around.
More panels at 10am on Monday meant I didn’t do much partying afterwards, and then it was the long drive back. After I sorted out how the Marriott messed up my credit card by charging us for the entire stay up front, and then trying to charge us again when we checked out and split the bill with Liz, who roomed with us. *facepalm* Because we needed that.
(Did I mention that we loved our stay at the Hampton Inn?). When we rolled in Monday night at 12:30 pm after driving since 4pm, the front desk person took one look at me, and when the payment system wasn’t working correctly on the third try, said “go to bed. We will sort this in the morning.” Which they did, with a minimum of fuss.
The drive back on Tuesday was long. We made it back home just before midnight. Still thudding.
But I need to thank everyone for even making this possible, because as much as I’m moaning about how tired I am, I got to go to WorldCon and the Hugos, which was very much up in the air without our friends’ help.
I want to thank everyone who helped out at con (or offered to but weren’t needed) with Caitlin: Mary Robinette Kowal, Doug Hulick, Kelly Lagor, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Fran Wilde, Julia Rios, Deb Stanish, Liz Myles, Janet Harriett, Rachel and Mike Swirsky, and Christopher K Davis. You made our con possible, and we are honored to have you as friends. Thank you for your kindness.
Most especially, though, I want to thank Jaime Lee Moyer, who volunteered to take care of Cait for the entirety of the Hugos ceremony, which means that she missed going to the Hugos for us. (NB: Jaime’s book Delia’s Shadow comes out in less than 3 weeks. It’s roughly Downton Abbey in San Francisco with ghosts. I’m very much looking forward to reading it myself in the near future. If this type of book is also relevant to your interests, you can join me in thanking her by ordering a copy. It will be worth it. And yes, I did this plug on purpose right here because Jaime did us a huge solid and we love her.)
So, TL;DR: Long drive, panels, barf, SKATING! Alamo. HUGO! Amazing friends. long drive, THUD.