I flew down to "sunny" Orlando, Florida for MegaCon during the weekend of February 25th-27th. I have renamed this convention "Tim's-shitty-luck-Con" appropriately. It was a fun convention that was unfortunately plagued by one mishap after another. It is also the first time I've traveled this far south for a convention.
Flight left at 6am, so I wake up at 3am, ready to walk out the door by four. On the way to the airport, no traffic, feeling fine, BLAM! My rear left tire blows out. I pull off to the side of the road and take a look. It's not as bad as it could have been... the tire is still attached to the wheel, but it's pretty shredded. So I pop the trunk.
Spare tire. Check.
Car jack. Check.
Tire iron. Damnit.
With no tire iron, I can't change the tire out, so I limp to the first exit looking for a gas station, but at 4:30 in the morning, nothing is open. If I were to call AAA, I'd be waiting at least a half an hour for them to show up, and I had a plane to catch. I tried a few more exits off of the highway looking for some place to help me out, but had no luck. Finally I made the decision to drive the rest of the way to the airport on a flat tire, rattling my teeth out of my head the entire way there.
Pull into the parking garage, park my injured car to be dealt with later, and head for the plane. The flight down was fairly uneventful, had a short layover in North Carolina.
Got into Orlando around noon. It was about then that I started feeling a bit... off. Figured it was just from the flight/air pressure changes. I take a cab to my hotel. By the time I'm at the front desk checking in, I'm barely holding it together. I'm freezing, I've got goosebumps, my eyes are burning. I grab my key and head straight to
my room. As soon as I'm inside I throw everything down and climb into bed.
And there I spent the greater portion of the afternoon, shaking with a fever and chills, and a full-on flu.
I got a bit of rest, took some medicine (I usually try to refrain from taking medicine, but I had a convention to attend and was willing to try anything) and I started feeling a bit better, so I gave Brian a call. My fever had subsided, so I went out with Brian and we headed over to the convention center to scope things out. Unfortunately I couldn't take a deep breath without having a coughing fit.
So we walked around the OCCC for a bit, brought some of our stuff inside and then Brian, Sosa and I decided to go grab some food. Or rather, they decided to grab some food, and I agreed to tag along and get something to drink, since I wasn't at all hungry. This was a bad idea, as I was already starting to feel like crap again. At the diner I was
freezing and shaking again, and Brian commented that I was starting to resemble the walking undead. After we left the restaraunt (with Brian being nice enough to tip the waitress with $13 of my monies) he drove me to a pharmacy so I could get some NyQuil. I was hardly functioning at this point, standing in line waiting to pay for my drugs, and I couldn't even read the label because my hand was shaking.
I spent the rest of Thursday self-medicated and in bed.
I woke up on Friday feeling like crap, but ready to give the convention my best shot. I really didn't think I would last very long, but I had to do what I could. I talked to
Brian to let him know I was good to go, and he was at the airport to pick up Scott. Over the course of a few phone calls and an hour later, we started to think Scott had missed his flight, because he was nowhere to be found. Actually, he was detained by officials
who confiscated his shirts, because apparently it's illegal to bring goods in from out-of-country to sell. Go figure.
So now that we have Scott, we get to the convention a little bit late. As soon as I walk in the door I'm met by a couple of fans, and the best I can do is rasp a very quick hello and shuffle over to my table, sit down, and start loading up on medicine. The next few hours were pretty interesting. People were very sympathetic and the fans, as always, were great. My voice, however, was not so great. It wavered at times, and I was getting worried because I had a panel that afternoon.
Sold some books, t-shirts and posters, talked to some fans, etc. By the time the panel came around at 4:30pm, the first thing I did was warn everyone about how I was feeling, and that I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to talk for, but that I would do my best. I think I went for forty-five minutes before I finally called it quits. My voice was on the verge of giving out completely, and I was exhausted. Hung out at the convention for a bit longer, and then it closed at 7pm, so we headed back to the hotel.
Scott was working on very little sleep and I felt like shit, so we turned in early. No partying or after-hours stuff for this convention. No sir.
Saturday I actually woke up feeling pretty good. That wasn't going to last long though. We got to the convention shortly after noon, and as soon as I arrived at the table, I saw a huge crowd of people just standing there. I asked if they were all waiting for us, and they said yes. So I sat right now and started signing books and posters and t-shirts non-stop for maybe an hour or two. After the initial rush I was pretty much out of merchandise. I had a few books left, but those didn't last long. Posters were gone, shirts were almost gone.
My health was also rapidly declining once again, as the previous night's rest wore off and the convention took its toll. There's only so much that medicine can hold together. I did get a boost late in the afternoon though when a group of fans brought me a big white basket filled with soup and tea and honey, tissues, cough drops and cookies. It really made me feel better. It was the sweetest gesture. Thank you Rebecca, Suzie and Elanor!
Scott went on an adventure all his own that night when he accepted an invitation out to dinner with some strange rapists. I'm sorry, I meant people, not rapists. We won't go into details here. I will say that when Scott was returned to us, we never once heard a complaint, or saw a single tear. He was very stoic.
Me? I watched the Simpsons and Futurama all night, trying to get over the flu.
Sunday... well... Sunday wasn't toooo bad. I was sold out of everything, so I went to the convention just to hang out. Once again I started the day feeling pretty good, and then experienced a gradual decline. We had a panel scheduled at 6pm that evening, at the very end of the day, on the last day of the convention.
None of us wanted to do the panel, by that point we were all completely exhausted. But we got up there anyway and turned it into a circus. I don't recall answering one serious question. I declinded to answer half of them, Scott was playing on his Nintendo DS the entire time, Brian was carrying the whole show just so that the fourth guy that was up there, that none of us even knew, wouldn't be. We cut this panel short as well, signed some autographs, and took off. I think at this point, we just wanted it all to be over. The convention was fun, but it had taken its toll on all of us.
Unfortunately the night wasn't quite over yet, because we had to go on a wild quest to find me a tire iron so that I would actually be able to change my tire when I got back
home. Orlando is full of touristy crap like gift shops and restaraunts, so we had to travel to the outskirts of town to find a WalMart, get me a tire iron which I wasn't even sure I would be able to take onto the plane, and then drive all the way back to the hotel.
Ahh, Monday. The fitting end to the weekend. Wake up at 7am, so we can leave for the airport by 8, at Scott's insistance. Because Brian told us it was going to take an hour to get to the airport. Scott's flight was at 11:30am, mine was at 12:30. We leave the hotel at 8, get to the airport at 8:20. Ugh.
So I have to sit and wait four hours for my flight. Then my flight gets delayed half an hour. I finally get in the air and we fly right into a snowstorm in Pittsburgh. Connecting flight
is delayed due to a maintenance problem with the plane. They finally board us. Take us out to the runway, de-ice the plane. We sit there for half an hour. They bring us back to the gate and tell us that the problem wasn't fixed. Then they tell us they're going to have us wait on the plane while maintenance fixes the problem. We sit there for forty-five minutes. Finally they bring us back out again, de-ice the plane again, and we sit there again. This flight was supposed to leave at 4:10. It left at 6:30.
I finally get home to Connecticut. The first thing I do is deal with my tire. Change it out, get on the road, really looking forward to getting home and seeing my girlfriend and just
relaxing, and I end up driving straight into a blizzard. The snow was so bad I couldn't determine lanes on the highway, and it was more like sledding than driving. Took extra long to get home.
That's about it. All in all, the best thing about the weekend was the fans. You guys are so great and supportive no matter what, it really makes all the other shit worth it. Also, hanging out with Brian and Scott was a real treat. Brian especially was very accomodating and really helped me survive the weekend. Other than that, it was just a really, really rough time.