C20, Chicago, 2014

Convergence XX was held in Chicago, as were C1 and C10. It was my 18th Convergence, and a bit of a nostalgia trip due to many previous trips there.


Thursday April 24, 2014

I left for Chicago from work, bringing my suitcase from home via T. I'd had insomnia the night before and resorted to taking some melatonin in order to try and force myself into getting some rest, but I was still dragging a bit. There was a baseball game on, it was a bit crowded getting to the bus, and I walked to the definitely not diverted for game day stop instead of just getting on next to my building. Took it all the way into Park St so that I could catch the Red line one stop to grab the Silver to the airport (and that's why I always leave at least an hour to get to the airport from work, way too many places for delays to sneak in). There was a bit of a line at security, I got a very firm pat down. I decided to try a new sandwich chain when I spotted Potbelly on my way to my gate and there wasn't much of a line. The chicken salad sandwich and a cup of tomato soup were good, though there was a mixup with an oreo shake as the communication broke down behind the counter. I took my food to my gate to eat, the group boarding lines were a mess. I had to take my running shoes out of my suitcase in order to get it to fit in the overhead bin, I'd thrown them in the outside pocket forgetting that that was the best way to block it from squeezing in on the smaller jets. There was a man in the aisle who was kind of manhandling his tiny girl friend, it was uncomfortable to see. I managed to get the DirectTV screen to stay off so that I could rest my eyes. I spotted Cleveland from the air, and completely forgot about the hour time difference.

I was glad I'd nabbed a direct flight to Chicago. Once off the plane it was a bit of a long walk to get to the airport CTA stop but at least the signs were clear. I somehow managed to break two nails at O'Hare, time to put nail strengthener on. I got a transit card with $10 on it, apparently I could register it and get $5 back, but that didn't work when I tried to do it from my phone. I was on the train just after 10:30pm. There was a guy asking for bills in exchange for quarters, I was polite, he got rude back to others, possibly some sort of scam. There were a few bikes riding along on the train too, nice to see. It was raining at the airport but dry for my few blocks walk to the Congress Plaza. I spotted GothPat as I made it to the hotel but lost her as I checked in and got my room keys sorted out. Axel and Siobhan and Janette were in the hotel bar, I said a quick hello and planned to come back down. My room was up on the thirteenth floor of the south tower with a nice view over the lake, I saw Art on my way there.

I did a quick wash of my face and brushed my teeth so that I was refreshed after the plane and went back downstairs to the bar. Amy arrived, as well as Michelle and Joe and two of their Detroit friends and the tables kept accreting more chairs as people joined us from the unofficial pre party. Kym and Justin and Dot and Jason also showed up, and someone took over the bar's juke box so we got to listen to some Sisters. :-) I just had a gin and tonic, since I was still feeling pretty wiped out. I went back up to my room at around 1:30, unpacked my suitcase and had a shower. Everything in my room is made for tall people, I could barely reach the shower head to lower the angle of the spray to get it out of my face. The air also felt super dry, I was definitely planning on going out to get my traditional hotel room gallon of water in the morning. I was asleep by 2:15am local time, getting a decent start on my nocturnal lifestyle weekend.

Friday April 25, 2014

I didn't catch anyone in the lobby when I ran through, starving for breakfast. I walked about 5 minutes north from the hotel on Michigan to the Artists Cafe, it was nice, and the food was good and filling and I got my tea. :-) (I might have gone to Meli Cafe, not sure now - writing this up in November!)

Back to the hotel and the lobby had sprouted a Fross, man it had been years since I'd seen him (I was so happy that lots of the old guard net.goths had made it out for the 20th Convergence), it was great to catch up. We talked about Cycle Streets that lets you plan cycling journeys (mostly in the UK/Europe, but there are a few dots on the North American map), and then started geeking out about cocktails. I look forward to trying out the Covent Garden Cocktail Club, BYOC and LAB next time I'm in London. I think I hung out in the lobby for a bit but then got caught up in the plans to got to the Gorey Exhibit at Loyola with Justin and Kym. We took the subway there and enjoyed the downtown scenery (statues! public parks! tall buildings!) before plunging into the large exhibit dedicated to Gorey and his works. It was awesome, we spent well over an hour in there, my only regret is not buying all the books. :-) Justin snapped a neat picture of me going up the escalator. Back at the hotel, I joined in on supper plans at Thai Spoon. Andi, Josh and Jola were spear-heading the trip since it was close to the official hotel as well as the backup one where others were staying. I spotted Arlene and Hideki and drew them into the plan as well. The food was okay, the company better. :-) I'd also popped into the meet and greet room to pick up my laminate, goodie bag and to buy my shuttle pass to the venue. I think I ran into Jodi and Jason there - as usual the M&G tended to be lightly populated at any one time as people grabbed their stuff and went onward.

I changed for the evening, then took the shuttle (school) bus over to the Bottom Lounge for the evening's band and DJs. Arch Visceral Parlor started off the night with a very bouncy lady leading the charge, I really liked their first song. Peeling Grey was up next, neat red jacket on one of the band members, I liked their music but the lead singer kept looking at the guitar instead of engaging with the crowd. Ending the Vicious Cycle was next, the singer had a Texan accent and it turned out that he'd introduced himself to me earlier in the evening, Toby. I liked the music though the vocals were a bit weak. Then the band I'd been most excited about came on: Sunshine Blind! 'Longing' and 'Amazing Grace' both gave me chills, it was amazing to see them again after such a long hiatus. Caroline Blind looked amazing in a corset and was still intense and awesome. I chatted with her a tiny bit at her merch table in the meet and greet room as well as when actually buying a new CD at the venue when I had cash. I had an odd grapefruit cocktail in the downstairs bar and then went exploring and found that the upstairs one was better stocked for cocktail making - I had a negroni. I think I was wearing my Northbound outfit that night, Kym complimented me saying she'd been impressed with the view from behind even before figuring out who it was. :-) I introduced Arlene and Hideki around, I think that was the night we chatted with Sailor Gloom and Fross. We also caught up with a Boston transplant, Liz and she gave us some cocktail bar recommendations: The Violet Hour and Whistler. At one point a drunk guy recruited me to go into the bathroom to find out if his female friend was okay, she was. After the bands were done, I was ready to head back to the hotel, and got briefly delayed by a guy trying to be cute about my net name. I sat with a very drunk Amy (Boston area, not Texas) on the bus and tried to make sure that she got to her room okay. The Oxford room was closed up, I guess the official after party would only start after everything was done at the Bottom Lounge. I also checked out the exercise rooms, there were a series of interconnecting tiny rooms along the outside of the hotel, windows to the street. They felt claustrophobic but they at least had a pull up bar.

Saturday April 26, 2014

One of the C20 attendees had posted an event for this morning to the group Facebook page called '10:41 Go For A Run' and since I was determined not to mess up my Tough Mudder training by skipping too many runs, I made an effort to be up in time for it, encouraging Amy (Texas) and Jodi to come along as well. The looks we got from a few other Convergers who were up at that point were priceless. Sailor Gloom invoked his southerner who doesn't run when it's that cold outside clause and skipped in favour of the indoor gym. I think that I managed to do my training guide dexterity workout in my hotel room, and then hit the indoor gym to do the knee raises and use the cable pull down machine before the run. I'm glad that I made it and convinced the other two as well, we formed our slow group and had a good jog together. We walked from the hotel toward the lake shore path and then started running there, going right, and were soon left behind by the rest of the group. The wind off of the lake was brisk, but the sun was shining and glinting off of the white caps on the lake, and we were warm enough if we kept moving. Which we did, yay! Though I had us stop at what I estimated to be the halfway point of 3 miles to do the burpees that my workout called for that day. Amy blew through them thanks to her Crossfitting and Jodi did as many as her joints would tolerate. A slow panting restart from there, just around the curve of land with the museum on it, and we wound back to the hotel on a more inland path. Amy did some sprints after we ended up dashing to cross Lakeshore, while Jodi and I walked ourselves cooler.

Jodi and I made plans to meet up with Jason to eat, so I ran up to my room to shower and then came back to find them. We walked over to Yolk on Congress and found a bit of a crowd there for weekend brunch. We snagged a bit of bench and a menu to peruse while we waited. It wasn't long and soon they were leading us past crowded tables, with a few goth groups scattered about. :-) It was good solid brunch fare (which was good since we were starving) and I had a good time catching up with them.

After eating we went back to the hotel to browse the vendor's room. I was seriously considering dropping a tonne of money on a printed dress that I saw at one vendor, Silversark (it was whimsical and dark, but on a light background which was stopping me), but then I spotted Andi and she told me about Effie's Heart, a clothing line for women with whimsical prints as well as ruffle bottomed leggings that she loves to wear under skirts. Just double checked the site (7 months later, oops!) and I need the large in the leggings and the black are sold out since they're on a huge sale. I had my hair in a mohawk at this point and one of the vendors stopped me as I went by asking if she could pin something into my hair. She had a single long feather on a clip with a neat little medallion at the hair end, and the feather curved along my head following my 'hawk and then floated a little beyond it. Sold! :-) I think I got it from E is 4 Artist but it might have been TattooedCuties. Justin and Kym dragged me over to Witherfield Designs and I fell in love with a t-shirt and bought it on the spot: Eat, Drink, and be Morbid. :-) I also ran into Peter and geekers again, she'd broken a bone playing roller derby and was getting around best she could.

I decided that I wanted a nice dinner that evening, so took myself over to Sofi on Dearborn, just a couple of blocks south. It was nice being in a hotel within walking distance of dining options, though it did feel sterile in other ways - the business district was pretty dead on weekends. No problem getting a table at 6pm, they tucked me in the corner and took good care of me. I had the duck ragout pasta with a side of spinach, and a glass of white wine, I felt fancy. :-)

I think I went back to the hotel via a Starbucks to get some more caffeine to fuel me through the evening. I got ready and then caught one of the first shuttles over to the venue. Since I didn't have a run to go on the next morning, I didn't hold back on the drinks. :-) I started off with a gin martini. As I was finishing it up, I was chatting with Arlene and Hideki and I took them to the upstairs bar to get good cocktails. The bartender had to look up how to make a Negroni for me, but he was willing and had all the ingredients - I'm not sure why I was in the mood for something so bitter, though. Hideki treated us for that round. Later in the evening when I ran into Kym at that bar she paid for my Hendrick's martini but I managed to finder her later on to treat her back to a Hoegarden, not quite equal, but I'll get her again at the next event. :-) They started off with the area before the stage cleared for the fashion show. Azrael's Accomplice showed some pretty stuff, Calla Corsets didn't have a lot of corsets. Devoid & Deveil were more modern, they had a neat hip belt, capes? Tony and Juliet and Arlene were walking for Zoh and her Morrigan New York + Moss Marchen partner. Arlene was all in white, I almost didn't recognise her. Silversark had her nice stuff out, still fascinated by the print + design pairings.
As for the bands, The Gothsicles were super fun and energetic, a hard techno dark industrial band who sings about video games while bouncing around the stage. I:Scintilla were okay but didn't keep my interest, I ended up wandering into the other room to chat with people, I think Axel and Siobhan were camped out in a booth there. Pretentious, Moi? were an awesome goth rock band, I loved the duo of voices. The March Violets were headlining, I thought they were pretty good, but I wasn't blown away, the lead singer might have been a bit tired from jet lag still and not at her peak. Steph had been looking forward to seeing the bands tonight, I think I stood with her and Jodi for a few, up near the stage and dancing when there was room.

I was still wide awake (thank you tea) and agreed to go to Neo with Tony, Juliet, JV and Art. It was super crowded but I was able to carve out a small space to dance near a corner of the room. Lots of super drunk people, someone was being carried out by arms and legs as we arrived, and a fight got broken up as we were there. I think I stuck to water there, maintaining a nice buzz that let me dance. Art had never been there but I was remembering hanging out there when I was living in Chicago for work for a couple of months, I even took a couple of co-workers with me once. I don't think we stayed to closing (Boston is such an early town compared to Chicago), I got a lift back to the hotel and found the lobby jumping so I settled in there and ended up staying until 5am (thank you tea). I met Margaret from Portland and we hit it off immediately, I invited her to go along with our group for cocktails the next day since we'd started geeking out about brown liquors together. Kest was hanging out with her roommate Rat Bastard, I hadn't seen the latter in ages, he was rocking the bald head now. He and Axel both said that I hadn't looked like I'd aged at all - I think having the coloured gel spiking up my 'hawk and hiding the grey helped. :-) As I was giving up and heading up to the tower elevators to go to bed I ran into Sailor Gloom and Margaret in the arm chairs in that small seating area, as well as Toby from last night, he'd been at previous Convergences as well, and I paused to chat with them some more before heading up to bed.

Sunday April 27, 2014

I'd made tentative plans to meet up with GothPat and Hirez for breakfast at the Corner Cafe, but ended up sitting with them in the lobby while they hung out waiting for the time to go to the airport for their flight home to England. I did end up meeting with Steph and Martin for brunch at the Artist's Cafe at 11am. I wasn't precisely hungover, but not precisely not. :-) I just had a caprese salad, some tea and a milk shake. It was a neat though small diner like place, I was happy that I'd finally had a chance to check it out.

I ended up going shopping by myself that afternoon, taking the Red line up to Belmont and hitting up the Alley, a place I'd remembered fondly from previous Chicago trips, including C1. I ended up finding some platform shoes/ankle boots that I couldn't resist - I'd been looking to replace a pair of Demonia's that had split, wanting something that went straight up instead of having a heel, and this only had a small height difference between the toe and heel. The only thing that worried me was that the base was still shoe shaped rather than a big solid platform, so it wasn't as stable as I'd hoped, but walking around on it for a bit in the store convinced me that it would do (I tried some stairs too). Axel and Siobhan were there shopping as well, so I had someone to ask for a second opinion. :-) I left that at the counter in the shoe section and wandered back through t-shirts, accessories, clothes and more lingerie style wear. They had a neat strappy top in a bright red shiny material but not in my size - I did try it on in a mint green to see about ordering it, but it ended up needing some steel boning to keep it's shape rather than the plastic that they'd used to keep the price down. I tried on some striped leggings and some space printed stuff but the sizing was all wrong, I think I saw Tarik in that section of the store then as well. I think I managed to get out of there with just the shoes in the end. Axel and Siobhan were going to hit up another store before heading back to the hotel so I waved goodbye and headed back toward the subway stop. With shoes on my mind though I got lured into another store and upstairs found a rack of New Rocks on deep discount (70% off or so, more in the range of Docs that Fluevogs). The sizes and styles were limited though, I couldn't find one that was just right. :-(

There was some texting back and forth during the day to organise the trip to the Violet Hour speakeasy, and we ended up meeting in the lobby at 7:15 for a 7:30 departure. The CorpGoths were doing their dinner that night - I was on the mailing list but I think they'd ended up organising it on Facebook so I missed the plans. I told Peter and Justin about it and they said that they'd try to join us since we'd had such a blast at the Austin speakeasy last year. Liz was going to join us there as our local guide. :-) Art had to leave on a business trip after the events that evening so he'd rented a car and was willing to drive us. Originally it was just going to be me and Margaret, then Steph and Martin joined as well, and then Kym surprised us since her flight home had been messed up and she had another night in Chicago. She was sans checked luggage but still looked fabulous. :-) They all joined me in getting a ride from Art, and yes it was cozy in the back seat. :-) Looking at the website, they must sometimes change the mural that hides the door - the door is a panel in the painting, you have to spot the handle to open it up. We had to wait in the curtained entryway for everyone in our group to arrive so that they would seat us. They had just settled us in at a large table by the bar when Peter and Geekers and Justin joined us. The staff gently moved us to a large table in the back room that would accommodate us all. We were the only party in there, and there was a nice fireplace as well as the pervasive sage velvet curtains muffling sounds. I loved it! The cocktails and glassware were all top notch. I started with an Empire Strikes First, it was very fruity. I had a second gin drink, this one had marmalade in it, delicious and not overwhelming. We were all trading sips back and forth, raving about all of the drinks. I had a few fries that were being shared around the table as a few people hadn't eaten yet. I have no memory of what I ate that evening. I had recorded that I did my prescribed burpees before getting dressed for the evening, oh, I think I grabbed something quick on the way back from the Alley.

Art drove me and Steph and Margaret and maybe Liz? over to the Volcano Room for the last night of Convergence activities, DJs and dancing. Fross's set was awesome, as usual, I danced my ass off. DJ Peroxide brought the goth, and Carrie gave us all the deathrock. I got a gin and tonic but ended up losing half of it to the bus boy. I had them make me a custom drink with Buffalo Trace, allspice dram, and sweet vermouth. Then I accepted a water from Justin since these were no Utah sized cocktails. :-) I went out onto the smoking patio to cool off from all the dancing and talked with Rhonda for a bit. There was another guy named Justin out there, this one with a devil lock and a kilt. Sailor Gloom was dancing up a storm too, in a fishnet top and big buckle boots, looking cooler than I was feeling. He said that he might be near Boston for work during the summer, so I gave him my contact info so I could play local guide (been too long since the alt.gothic wandering goths network kicked in). Kym was considering leaving at one point but I convinced her to stay and dance some more. She and I had a corner of the floor with Margaret and Steph and Jodi, it was awesome. We caught the last shuttle bus back to the hotel at the end of the night. The lobby was still jumping, I hung out for a bit with Zoh and Mike who were waiting to leave for the airport for their 6am flight. Kym, moses, kest, Gillian, Rat Bastard and Axel were all there as well. JV gave us some of the leftover gothic picnic food (mmm, triscuits). I went up to my room at around 4am, and I had to have a shower before I could get into bed, to wash off all the dancing I'd done. Oh, right, another reason to shower then, they were going to be cutting off the water in the morning for repairs at 10am, though checkout wasn't until 1. Turns out that it might have been possible to get moved to a room without the water cut off, but I'd thought it would be fine.

Monday April 28, 2014

I skipped doing my run intervals this day, all the nope. I did manage to get through my burpees though. I had to get up before I wanted to to take an allergy pill and put in ear plugs. I got up for real at 10:30am (still before my alarm), packed up quickly but I missed the lobby bathroom closing time of 11am. I said goodbye to moses and Fross in the lobby and then hiked up to Meli's for breakfast and their bathroom, it was fine if inconvenient. Bones was playing on TV, I kept getting distracted by the moving pictures. I had pancakes, a mango smoothie and lots of tea to fuel my waiting and travel day. When I got back to the hotel lobby, Peter and geekers, kest, Gillian, and Quincy(?) were going out for Cuban food. I sat and caught up on Facebook for a bit, but they were back soon, at 2. I hung out for a bit and then went to the Corner Bakery with kest for tea and to use the bathroom (water still not on). Back at the hotel, they'd moved to tables so that they had laptop power, net.gothing all over the place. :-) I had to leave for the airport at around 3.

I had a pretty easy trip to the airport, my suitcase rolled well on the walk to the Blue line. My card had $3 left on it, so I'd only put on 75c too much. It was a bit hard to fit my suitcase on the subway, it came immediately, but I would get in and out of the aisle seat as people wanted to get past me to the window. It was chilly this morning. At the airport there was a long security line, but I still did the opt out of the scanner. The lady of the scanner took me in, a bit amused at the script she had to follow. One TSA guy said that he liked my 'Eat, drink, and be morbid' t-shirt. I got a flatbread pizza and ate at the gate, a bit crammed in with others, even in a wider row. I gate checked my bag, and lucked out in having the middle seat free in my row. I was sleepy, but ended up reading most of the way. It was a bit bumpy when I got up to use the bathroom, but otherwise a smooth ride. I had a short wait for my suitcase, but I was soon on the Silver line, to the Red line to the 88. It was chilly! I was home at around 11:30 or so.


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