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A Journal for and by the Readers of C.J. Cherryh
In science-fiction fanzines, there are articles called con reps, or convention reports. They recount events at a particular SF convention as experience by the writer. There are as many styles of conrep as there are con attendees, and this one focuses on a writer.
I Found My Way to ConJose: A WorldCon 2002 Memoir
By Bret Grandrath
WorldCon in 2002 was Aug. 29 - Sept. 2 in San Jose, California, only an hour's drive from my house. I had bought a membership when San Jose won the bid.  In January this year, I marked the week before Labor Day on the vacation schedule at work. I had worked at M&H Tobacco for 22 years, so I was high enough on the list to get the week off. 

On May 11th the owner of M&H, Gary Dubnoff, called everyone in for a meeting. He told us he had sold the business and did not know if the new company would hire any of us. Bad news, and as the shock wore off, I realized there was no way I would get my vacation. 

Our last day at work was May 31st and after three weeks of unemployment, I was going crazy. In the Help Wanted section of the newspaper I saw an ad from Foster Lumber Yard. I had worked there before I went to work at M&H. On June 25th I went to see Dave Jones at Foster Lumber and on the 28th he hired me. I was happy to get a job and I thought it was cool that the same man who hired me 25 years earlier had hired me again. 

At the end of July, I asked Dave about getting time off to go to the Con. Summer is the busy time of year in the lumber business, so he couldn't give me a yes or no right away. In the middle of August we worked it out so I could get off the days of the Con. Everyone at work practiced their Vulcan hand signs when they saw me. 

By then all of the downtown hotels were full, but I got reservations at the TraveLodge a few miles away. My friends, Brian and Marlene, were coming to the con and we made plans to meet for dinner on Friday. I had worried all summer about missing the WorldCon so close to home, but everything was working out. 

On Thursday morning I drove to San Jose and got there around noon. I found a parking lot across the street from the Hilton. It was $7.00 for all day, not too bad of a price for a spot very close to the Convention Center. I parked there Thursday and Friday, but I found a free lot for the rest of the Con. 

Registration was easy to find and only one person was in front of me in the "G" line. The badge was a nylon zippered wallet, but the names were in big print and easy to read. I dropped off the registration packet at my pick-up truck and headed for the Dealer's Room to check it out. Big room, wide aisles, lots of dealers, lots of neat stuff. At 2:30 I went to the "Tolkien and the 21st Century" panel. The panelists and the audience seemed to know everything about Tolkien; I knew enough to be impressed. 

After the panel I went by registration again. No one was in the "L" line, so I went up and asked if Brian Lowe had registered. His badge was still there. I thanked the guy and turned around. About five feet away Brian was walking toward me. After he and Marlene registered, we talked a while and at 5:30 we went to the "Star Trek Jeopardy" Panel. I didn't know how much Star Trek trivia I would know, but I could answer some of the questions. The three contestants knew almost all of the answers. Everyone had a good time, and it was a lot of fun. 

A group of us went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner then back to Brian and Marlene's hotel, The Fairmont, where we sat in the lobby and talked until way too late. We made plans to meet for dinner the next night and then I drove home. 

Friday morning my son, James, and I packed up and drove to San Jose. I talked James into going with me by promising pizza for dinner and a visit to the Tech Museum. 

We found the TraveLodge, dropped off our bags and drove the few miles to the Convention Center. We went to registration and had no problems getting James a badge. We didn't want to carry around the registration stuff, so we took it back to the truck. On the way back, we ended up in the Hilton. As I turned to James to tell him we went in the wrong door, I saw C.J. Cherryh sitting in the lobby. She waved us over and we joined her group. C.J. was sitting with Jane Fancher, their cats in travel cages, and two friends. C.J. and Jane were waiting for their room. We talked about their drive down, baseball and the weather. When their room was ready, James and I each carried a cat up for them. 

When we got to the room, James helped assemble the cat-keeper-cage thing. After it was set up, James and I headed back to the Convention Center. In the Dealer's Room we met up with Brian and Marlene and joined the rest of our dinner group at the Fairmont. We walked to Pizza Chicago to sit down, talk and eat. We had good pizza and good company. We all walked back to the Fairmont and sat and talked. Hours later, James and I drove back to our hotel. 

Saturday morning James and I went to The Tech Museum of Innovation, right across the street from the Convention Center, for a couple of hours and had fun. Check it out at www.thetech.org . Back at the Convention Center, we looked through the Dealer's Room and got a Power Puff Girls T-shirt for my daughter Beth, and James picket out a skeleton warrior T-shirt. 

We ran into Marlene as we were leaving and I told her I was going to take James home and be back later that night. She told me to meet them in the Fairmont lobby at 6:00 to go to dinner and then the Masquerade. 

We drove back to Vallejo and went to my mom and dad's home. Beth was there with my sister and her family. We gave the T-shirt to Beth, and she really liked it --  everyone thought it was perfect for her. Mama had cooked dinner for the whole family, so I stayed to eat. 

After dinner I drove back to San Jose and went to the Fairmont to look for Brian and Marlene, but they weren't there. I knew they were going to the Masquerade, so I waited by the end of the line until they showed up. We went in, sat down and enjoyed the show. It was a good Masquerade, it went smoothly with only a few glitches. 

Sunday morning I got to the Convention Center in time for the 11:30 panels. I wanted to go to the "Torturing Your Characters" panel to see Lois McMaster Bujold, but the room was packed. There was a Tolkien panel across the hallway, so I went in and got a seat. It was a very interesting discussion of Tolkien's works. I was again impressed by how much everyone in the room knew about Tolkien. 

After the panel, I was going to go to the Dealer's Room to buy the DAW 30th Anniversary anthologies to take to the 2:30 mass signing. In the hallway, I ran into Brian. He was heading to the "Multi-Volume Sagas: What was I Thinking?" panel, so I tagged along. A very interesting panel, but I had to leave early to get the DAW books in time for the signing. 

Lots of people were waiting to get books signed. The lines for Frederik Pohl and Tad Williams were long, but I think C.J. Cherryh's line was the longest. I bounced from line to line and got autographs from Jennifer Roberson, Melanie Rawn, Deborah J. Ross, Irene Radford, Jane Fancher, Michelle West, Frederick Pohl, Tad Williams and Charles Ingrid. When Jane signed my book, she invited me to join them that night for C.J.'s birthday dinner. I accepted, of course. 

I also had editors Betsy Wollheim, Sheila Gilbert and DAW Managing Editor Debra Euler sign the books. 

C.J. was one of the last authors to finish signing. She saw me and came over and I wished her a happy birthday. She hugged me and pulled me over to where Jane was talking. C.J. said to Jane, "Look who I found." Jane told her she had already invited me to dinner with them. 

The plan was for everyone to meet in the Hilton lobby at 6 p.m. On the way to the Hilton, C.J. and Jane went through the Dealer's Room and autographed books for any book seller that wanted anything signed. Outside the Dealer's Room, I saw Vera Nazarian and stopped to talk to her. Jane startled Vera by running up to hug her. Vera had other dinner plans, but walked with us to the Hilton. 

Our group for dinner was C.J., Jane, Selina Rosen, Betsy Wollheim, Michelle West, Steven Pagel, Gary and Gloria Moreau and me. We walked to an Italian restaurant and enjoyed a nice dinner with good company. We sang Happy Birthday to C.J. and had a great time. Betsy Wollheim had to leave early to go to the Hugo Awards ceremony, but she paid for everyone's dinner because she said that's the way her mother would have wanted it. 

C.J. and Jane were leaving town that night, so they had to get their cats and luggage. Michelle West and I helped dismantle the cat-keeper-cage-thing and put it and their bags into the car. We said good-bye to C.J. and Jane, and they drove off. While Michelle and I were talking in the Hilton lobby, Debra Euler came in and told us the Hugo results. 

I walked to the Fairmont to look for Brian and Marlene, and found them in the lobby. They told me they had looked for me at the Hugos and had even saved a seat for me. When I told them how I had spent the evening, Brian rolled his eyes and shook his head. He can't believe the way I luck into things. We talked a while, then I drove back to my hotel. 

Monday morning I checked out of my hotel, packed my truck and drove to the Convention Center for the Con's last day. I went to the Tech Museum Gift Shop to get some Christmas presents. I rarely buy Christmas gifts before December, but the Tech had a bunch of really cool stuff I couldn't resist. 

I got to the Convention Center in time for a Walter Jon Williams reading. After the reading, I headed to the Dealer's room and met up with Brian and Marlene. They were going home, so we said our good-byes. 

I looked for Selena Rosen in the Dealer's Room so I could buy one of her books, but she wasn't at their booth, so I planned to try again later. I bought a couple of other presents while I was there. 

At the Walter Jon Williams Kaffee Klatsch at 2:30 p.m., ten of us talked with him for an hour. He is one of my favorite authors and always interesting to listen to. 

The Dealer's Room was closing by the time I returned to it. The hallways were crowded with people who weren't ready for the convention to end. I drove home and relaxed after the long weekend. I had a great time at ConJose, but I needed to catch up on sleep. 

Tuesday morning when I got to work, I was greeted with a chorus of "Live Long And Prosper" and a "Nanoo, Nanoo" from the boss. 

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