I have a bunch of stuff to write up about the workshop in New York, but it would be rude of me to do it before everyone chimes in about whether they're willing to be named and quoted. So instead I'll ramble a lot about where I was and how I got there.

Before I tell this, I would like to emphasize to any young'uns in the audience -- and for the purposes of this post, I am going to arbitrarily declare that means anyone who is too young to buy their own hard liquor without involving a parent or a gullible college student -- that, by conventional wisdom, I should be dead right now. If I'd been in a television drama, the lead detectives would have pulled my bloated body out of the Hudson before the opening theme even started. I try to make it clear that I am often an idiot and I have some truly terrible life plans sometimes, but in case anyone is ignoring that, I want you all to assume that all of the things I do in this story are terrible ideas and not to be imitated until you are sufficiently old and experienced to recognize how terrible they are, even while you go about doing them anyway.

Capisce? Good.

About... Jesus, all of a week and a half ago, someone randomly pinged me on Twitter asking if I'd heard of a workshop called Weaponized Social, and giving a link to a description page. I said I hadn't, but it looked interesting, because it did in fact look interesting, and I've learned it is not worth trying to squash a polite lie about stuff like that into 140 characters. The organizer asked if it was interesting enough to get me to come? and I said it would be if not for the fact that I am hilariously bereft of money right now, and there was no possible way for me to hie myself down to New York on the train and book a hotel, and all of the other things you do when you're spending several days 200 miles away from where you actually live.

So far this is all pretty sane. I have to pass on a lot of interesting things because I have no money. Sad, but true.

The point at which this went completely off the rails for me was about four hours into email ping-pong on the topic, where somehow "would you like to participate?" had morphed into, "here is the address of the people you'll be staying with, please email our travel guy and tell him what train you would like to be on". I'm staring at the emails in the other tab right now, and I still sincerely do not know how this happened. My flabbers are all still thoroughly gasted.

I generally run on the assumption that most people are indifferent to my presence. If I show up, great; they'll probably be friendly, and might even be happy to see me. If I don't show up, I probably don't cross anyone's mind. I'm sure it's a terrible double standard, since all kinds of coincidental things remind me of other people all the time, but it's one of those assumptions it's just safer not to make, lest ye drive yourself bonkers trying to intuit thought patterns in other people that aren't really there. Very rarely does anyone want me to be physically present somewhere enough to pay for me, and the rarity goes up with the price. Moggie managed to get me to Las Vegas once by dint of simply buying all the tickets and then afterwards claiming she didn't remember how much it had cost. We both knew that this was a blatant lie -- she said it once while holding the hotel receipt we had been handed at checkout -- but I also knew that if she were bothering to lie about it I'd never get her to tell me, so I eventually gave up.

Amtrak tickets to New York are not exactly up there price-wise with first-class berths on the Titanic, but coming from people of whose existence I had previously been completely unaware, the offer was something of a surprise. I mean, I live on the internet. The internet is everywhere. I've gotten accustomed to the idea that hauling my corpus around is my own responsibility.

I was enough of a nuisance to get someone to retrieve me at Penn Station. I've only been to NYC once before, and we were in the city for something like four whole hours before we took the LIRR out to the island to visit someone else. If my train had come in at three in the afternoon I'd have just been like, 'sod it, I'll print a map and work it out myself', but I was not keen on the idea of bumbling around midtown alone at 11:30pm, trying to figure out which direction was logical north in Manhattan while ideally not being run over by taxicabs. I ended up meeting one of my hosts on foot in the middle of a lot of plywood maze walls where the station was under construction, and another one in a car across the street. They'd both been texting me, but somehow failed to consult one another, and until the train arrived and I started telling them both which signs I was following in an effort to exit the Labyrinth without running into the Minotaur, they each had no idea that the other had come to get me.

It occurred to me at this point that if they were kidnappers, they must be new. They were organized enough to get me to New York, but not quite organized enough to efficiently abduct me the rest of the way. If I'd bolted at that point I'd have felt kind of bad about ruining their plans while they were obviously still learning. And besides that, I was busy trying to figure out exactly where the hell our driver was from, that he actually had some kind of foreign accent I hadn't yet heard.

In the car on the way downtown, they asked me what exactly the workshop was about and how I knew the organizer. I cheerfully informed them that I had only a vague idea about both, and that so far as I knew, I'd been invited to participate because someone had read the Parable of the Gronkulated Fleebwanger, which is linked to over at the Geek Feminism wikia. I was plainly much better at being abducted than they were at abducting me, but I thought it would be uncouth to point this out.

Just to recap here, I went down to New York City on three days' notice, using a train ticket someone else bought, and agreed to be boarded with friends of a random blog reader, so I could participate in a vaguely-defined think tank workshop I'd never heard of with a lot of people I'd never met before in my life. It worked out really well in the end, but seriously, gang, this is why I am not to be used as a role model.


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