My best story from the conference, other than hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones and also MOJITOS, occurred about three hours prior to Sparklecorn. And like ALL of my best stories, this one predictably involves me going to pieces over something trivial. Basically, CAPS LOCKing all over the place, but live and in real time.
I was trying to figure out how to get five rather large boxes from the package room at the hotel over to the party location next door. These five boxes contained about 4,000 multi-colored glow necklaces and bracelets, which are a Sparklecorn tradition, as everybody uses them for everything from jewelry to belts to tiaras to elaborate full-on glow-in-the-dark costumes. I'd shipped them to myself at the hotel, not realizing that BlogHer had outgrown its quaint days of underground hotel conference rooms and was now taking over gigantic convention centers, because blogging, apparently, is quite a thing with the kids these days.
And it turned out that the hundred yards or so of sidewalk between the two locations were guarded by an old gray wizard screaming YOU SHALL NOT PASS to anyone working at the hotel, because of unions and balrogs and shit, and no one there could help me carry the boxes.
Now, okay, you should know that in the months and weeks leading up the the party, every year, I probably talk Tracey down off the ledge of planning-related hysteria on at least a weekly basis. It's okay! We have time! Things will get done! Even when we're down to the last-minute wire, I'm actually pretty calm. BECAUSE THIS IS WHY GOD INVENTED OVERNIGHT SHIPPING.
And then, every year, like clockwork, we arrive at BlogHer and promptly switch roles: She takes the "welp, what's done is done, we did our best" zenned-out stance...while I proceed to freaking lose my ever-loving SHIT over every possible detail that could go wrong, because now there is no time to course-correct, no room for error, the people shall not dance or eat cake or get to pose next to life-sized characters from popular young adult fiction and WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.
So anyway, this minor hiccup at the hotel package room is like, EXACTLY the sort of thing that causes my brain to liquidify and leak out my tear ducts. I had less than 45 minutes before they closed to figure out a solution, and the only two I could think of were SHOCKINGLY, not working.
(Solution #1: Attempt to pick up one medium-sized box to see if maybe I could carry them myself, one at a time, back and forth, right before dropping it and nearly breaking my fool foot.)
(Solution #2: Call a couple BlogHer people who were clearly busy with 1,500,000 more important details and shriek into their voicemails, then send a text message 30 seconds later like a total asshole.)
I did finally talk to someone at BlogHer, who promised to make a call and send some BlogHims over to help me, but as the minutes ticked by I stood outside the package room and proceeded to quietly -- and with great dignity -- shrivel up and die from the stress of it all.
Enter Tracey and Charlie, on their way to the convention center, and then enter Me, Again, with a whole heapload of bad language and over-the-top hand gestures about THESE BOXES. THAT ARE GOING TO BE THE END OF ME AND EVERYONE I LOVE.
(Oh, and I should probably have included the detail that since I did not want to put my highly impractical and sort-of miniature party dress on yet, but neglected to pack anything well-suited for the possibility of manual labor, I was standing around in cut-off shorts and that "Born to Blog" t-shirt from the BlogHer swag bag of 2009. It's...a nightshirt. I sleep in it. So...I'm technically in my jammies, which is basically ONE LAYER AWAY FROM THE NAKED STRESS DREAM.)
Anyway, Charlie is all, "I got this." And I'm all, "No, I don't think you do." And then he hands me an alchoholic beverage that appears from thin air and marches into the package room and starts negotiating for a hand truck, which they will not give him.
I think Charlie maybe just intended for me to hold his drink, but we all know how that turned out. I am sucking rum off the ice cubes when he suddenly shows up with one of those fancy luggage carts from the hotel lobby.
"Did they say we can borrow that?" I am delighted.
"I didn't ask," he says.
My delight turns to fear.
Now, if you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I live every minute of my life in dread terror of the Imaginary Authority Figures. You just...don't do shit like that, because it is MILDLY NOT RIGHT, and therefore you might get into MILD TROUBLE.
Basically: I get incredibly nervous and embarassed when Jason takes our stroller on the escalator. Which means I had absolutely no mental coping skills for what was about to happen next.
Charlie loads up the boxes and heads off, while I mew in horrified protest because SOMEONE IS GOING TO YELL AT US (while also looking for an acceptable place to deposit the empty cocktail glass, finally settling on a random table that looked like the glass might get cleared and sent to its proper home because I was not adding STEALING TABLEWARE onto our list of hotel crimes).
But then...we all realize we are kind of trapped. To get to the convention center (while avoiding the hotel lobby with our stolen cart), we needed to go down an escalator. Well, that's not going to work.
OR IS IT.
I run around in search of an elevator -- there IS one, but there's a crazy line for it and I can't tell if it even goes down to where we need to go or just up the guest rooms and while I'm standing there trying to figure it out I realize Charlie is totally taking that motherfucking luggage cart down the escalator.
"WHAT ARE YOU OH MY GOD NO HOLY SHIT," I start shrieking. Or something like that. Maybe in tongues. Anxiety tongues.
"THIS IS HAPPENING," Tracey yells at me.
I ride down the escalator sitting down, trying to breathe with my head between my legs because this. This Right Here. The sight of a stolen luggage cart stacked with boxes of 20-cent party favors that I was unsure if we had any right to carry ourselves in the first place, precariously and illegally riding down an escalator: This is what broke me.
Dear readers, that man got that luggage cart down the escalator and out the door without so much as jostling a single package.
And what's more: NOBODY YELLED AT HIM. I mean, besides me. I don't know if I ever shut the fuck up.
We got outside and of course I continued to be a complete non-believer. "STAAAAAIRS!" I wailed. "THERE ARE STAIRS!"
Yes, there were stairs. But there was also a windy sidewalk ramp through a decorative garden. Charlie, who by this point is pretty much my personal lord and savior, treks the cart up the ramp and into the convention center, where Tracey and I finally manage to regain some control of the situation and insist that HE TAKE THE ELEVATOR, instead of trying his hand at riding an up escalator, you know, for kicks.
At some point, I manage to chill out. Probably once I realized we'd gotten all the packages delivered to the ballroom before the Voices of the Year keynote was even over, so we had time to go hit the cocktail party and pour more liquor nerve tonic down my throat.
And that is the story of how Tracey, Charlie and I faced challenges and overcame obstacles and saved Sparklecorn with a single stolen luggage cart and only a couple small safety violations. The end!
PS I have no earthly idea what ever happened to the luggage cart.