The flight was at a certainly reasonable 11:20 a.m. -- Not so early as to create a wake-up-groggy-and-fly-pissy situation and not so late as to make me a night flier.
But there were things to do in the morning, a long list of things, most involving work and driving from one place to another on errands that needed to be done before the trip. It was a race against time, a full-on 24 experience where every second counted, and always looming at the end of the countdown were possible long lines, extended searches of my laptop bag, my all-around ability to cut every planned event to the last possible minutes.
It creates exciting little mini-adventures for me. And it drives the people around me fucking nuts.
Boston. I'd never been. I imagined green buildings, Irish beer flowing down smartly designed, but ancient gutter systems, Barley-enhanced wastewater dribbling down into elaborate labyrynthe sewage systems of cobblestone where one could imagine Jack the Ripper lurked, preying now only upon provocative rodents.
And then I imagined Harvard as this mystical, ancient fortress of knowledge where thousands of John Houseman professors would tell you exactly why you didn't do your research right and how if you'd only studied Peterman vs. O'Rory more closely, you'd have a basic, yet altogether sophomoric understanding of basic Massachusetts property law.
I'm from a tiny town in Mexican-American South Texas. I am to Massachusetts what the Inuits are to a Bahamian cruise.
I was going under what I continued to tell my friends and family were odd circumstances, but which I was assured were not strange at all.
They were, thusly:
I had brought up the trip a few months ago to my boss over at TWOP, Wing Chun.
You have to understand that at the time, many of these same people from the forums had started a message thread called, "A Big Sparkly Sign that Says, 'Omar is the Boss of Us!' " a place where they could comment on the recaps and give me exacerbated symptoms that come with giganticism of the cranium.
Wing had started reading some of the things they were posting. A that particular point of time, the discussion had gone from simple, "Hey, great recap, keep up the good work!" to things like setting goats on fire and beating up people to express love and gratitude to me.
It was, of course, all in jest.
Wing was understandably a little freaked out and, being one of two protective mother hens of the site recappers (there's a rooster too, but he and I mostly talk about video games), she told me that if I went to Boston, that she would fire me before I left because she knew I'd never come back. Deep dungeons, putting the lotion in the basket, chopping off the foot so that I'd bring Misery back to life, Jerry Lewis kidnapping me in a limo... I was getting some of the same mental images.
A few months later, when the convention was beginning to come together in a real, undeniable way, I asked again and Wing assured me that I had her blessing; I trust her judgment on all things fandom and Internet related, and any doubts on her part about the kosherificness of the trip would have put the kibosh (the "kibosh" being the end stem of the kosher dill pickle, if I'm getting my foods right) on the whole trip.
Next was getting off work. I felt weird telling my multiple bosses where I was going. I was going to this thing where most people would know me and my writing, and I was to be a kind of Guest of Honor. But in the newsroom, I'm one of about a hundred people, no more sparklier nor influential than, say, the guy who comes in and makes sure our desks and chairs are aligned at the proper height.
I think the bosses had trouble trying to figure out why anyone would pay to have me come fly anywhere to talk about anything. They hear me yap all day long and don't have to pay for the privilege. Quite the opposite, in fact. I've always suspected they have a hat they pass around with a "Shut Omar the Fuck Up" office pool collection.
There were machinations. Fridays are bad days for me to be out of the office. It's the day when I have 12 metric tons (I don't have the cubic measurement, but you can sort of imagine it, right?) worth of meetings to attend; meetings where I fulfill the vital, intregal task of sitting in a circle with other newspaper people, looking at Xerox'ed sheets that list very important-looking stories, all written by people other than us, and deciding what order they should appear, and on what page, and good God! what day. Because if this story should run Tuesday instead of Thursday, well that would completely shake up the credibility upon which the fourth estate of journalism was founded upon.
We also talk about who's bringing Krispy Kreme-brand donuts to the next editor's meeting.
I found someone to cover my meetings on Friday, someone who is particularly good at looking at a set of Xerox'ed papers and saying, "These stapled Xeroxes containing stories that people are planning to write are going to make a difference! Let's rock the fuck out of this meeting!" I found a whole other human being to cover for me on my once-a-month Sunday editing swing shift.
I was set.
I'm getting to that. I swear.
NASA's most advanced computer bank, circa 1981.