Monday, April 22, 2013

Highs and Lows of Hogwarts and Fame

So I wrote about the time I tried to be a scholar, but I've gotten a request to write about some of the happier points of my trip to the conference in Florida (Jessica, you're pretty).

After my panel, my favorite professor/mentor invited me and another student to join his family in Harry Potter World. I'm lucky his kids were as excited about Harry Potter as I was--otherwise I would have looked pretty ridiculous hopping through the theme park in a day-long adrenaline rush. As it was, I found that  middle school and high school companions are perfect for me when I'm high on Harry Potter.

I went through an identity crisis or two during my stay there, but eventually I decided against hiding in the theme park and staying in Hogsmeade forever.

After reluctantly returning to the Muggle world, I listened to one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, read from his new novel. If you've never heard that man read, go buy/rent the audiobook for Neverwhere--he narrates it with all the lilting tones of Jeremy Irons, Anthony Hopkins, and Morgan Freeman. Yeah, it's awesome.

Next day, I hopped in line to have him sign a book for me and my dad. While in line, I pulled out my cheap sketch paper and doodled some of my favorite pieces of Gaiman novels/screenplays.

Then, in a fit of confidence, I gave it to him when he signed my book.

I meekly accepted my signed books and left, too terrified to do more than hand him the slip of paper and stutter while trying, somehow, desperately, to make an impact on someone who has thousands of people tell him every week how much he has impacted them.

And then, glory of all glories, complimentary wine! The hotel provided some wine for the conference goers to enjoy for an hour-long wine social. I surprised myself and approached an author I had met before and admire (Andy Duncan, sci-fi short story writer), introduced myself to fellow scholars, and had a hoot.

But the free alcohol didn't stop there! After the social I went out to the pool and found myself in a mingled group of professors, authors, theorists, and fans. Wine, Kahlua, and beer passed liberally between us, a Finnish man shared his Gandalf-esque pipe, I made friends and got myself fairly drunk.

And at some point this happened:

I drank until 6AM, when I went back to the hotel room and packed my bags (poorly, I left some important items, like an external harddrive), caught the shuttle to the airport, and began the long slow slump back into sobriety.

It sucked.

I cradled my barf bag and gazed out the window, remembering friends made, adventures had, and magic left behind.

But then I sucked it up and remembered something very important about myself.