FedCon day two

I slept late, and woke to the room service guy knocking on my door. I vaguely recall signing the order receipt before falling back into bed for another hour, when my growling stomach finally won the battle between it and my tired brain.

I'd like to believe that my stomach told my brain, "Look, brain, when there's food in me, it gives you and the rest of this stupid body energy, and then none of us will be so damn tired. Christ, why couldn't I have been put into an athlete, instead of … whatever the hell this old thing is."

Man, my stomach is a jerk, isn't it? It knows that I need it, though … it's always one step ahead!

I had a coffee, too many croissants (the non-meat options for breakfast are rather limited here, and feature lots of bread), and the most delicious bowl of birchermuesli I've had since yesterday morning. Seriously, where has this been all my life?! If I can't get this stuff back in Los Angeles, I will register a complaint.

I wrote a blog, took a shower, and got down to my autograph session right on time. On my way, I passed Nicole De Boer, who looks so much like my friend Lynn, I keep doing double takes and wondering why the hell Lynn is here, and if she's here, why aren't we hanging out? (I told this to Nicole yesterday, before I realized it made me sound: a)crazy and b)like a bit of a creep. Whoops. It's a good thing she's really awesome, and we can speak the secret language of Star Trek actors.)

For the next four hours, I signed pictures of Wesley in his various sexytime and bullet-proof hair forms, a few Criminal Minds pictures, and more Big Bang Theory images of Evil Wil Wheaton than anything else. I also noticed something here that I've never seen at any other cons: Many people made truly awesome collages in photoshop or gimp, and printed them out on photo paper for me to sign.

In every signing, it's inevitable that most of the day will blur. It's just a fact of doing something that's repetitive, especially in an environment where I know that I can't stop and chat like I usually do, on account of the huge lines of people who are waiting.

Nevertheless, something is as clear in my mind as if it just happened. A man brought me a photo of the German poster for Stand By Me. "You are the only one left who hasn't signed this," he said.

I looked at it, and saw that Corey, Jerry … and River had signed it.

The world stopped for a moment, and everything went silent. I looked at River's signature, knowing that he couldn't have been older than 23 when he signed it, and that it was likely the same age as one of my sons when he did.

Again, I thought about a life cut down too soon, an avoidable tragedy that has now hit me in the stomach twice in just a short period of time. I wondered how all the 25th anniversary mania is affecting River's family, and if this is stirring up feelings in them that are less painful when undisturbed.

"This is affecting you," a woman said, softly.

I looked up after I don't know how long and said, "Yes." I rubbed my thumb across River's name, and held a deliberate moment of silence for him. Putting my name next to his felt … strange but also good.

As the day went on, I started to feel really weak and woozy. I think a few days of eating mostly bread-based food is pissing off my body, and I felt almost like I was going to crash. I got some juice and a granola bar into me, with some gummy bears on stand by just in case, but was able to pull myself back together in time for the photo session later in the day.

I think I took about 100 photos with a bunch of different people, but it all went by in such a blur, I could have imagined the whole thing. Everyone was, again, incredibly kind and friendly, which seems to be a theme here at Fedcon.

After my photo shoot was over, I wandered the vendor's room. I bought cufflinks that look like a Dalek and a Tardis, and a Tardis pin for my bag of holding. I told Stephan, who is taking care of me, that Anne would be very pleased for me to return him without a dozen new T-shirts. He laughed and said his girlfriend feels the same way about his T-shirt collection.

While I rode the elevator up to my floor, I looked out at the lobby. It was filled with people in all sorts of beautiful costumes, in groups of 3 and 4, or in large parties of 10 or more. Everyone spoke to each other with animated arm movements, people posed for and took pictures with and of each other, and everyone seemed to be having a great time getting their geek on.

"I'm looking at a con in Germany," I thought, "but I could really be anywhere in the world, even my own town, and I'd be looking at essentially the same thing. This is how enormous and inclusive our culture is."

I walked down the hallway and into my room, feeling lucky and proud to be part of this.


29 thoughts on “FedCon day two”

  1. Glad I’m not the only one having a hard time finding vegetarian food over here, Today I had chocolate milk and cold pancakes from the airport grocery store for dinner :)
    You mentioned in your panel that you were a skeptic, are you planning on going to TAM in July? 14th to 19th in Las Vegas? If not, you should

  2. As crazy as this might sound, I am a few miles away in Cologne and I hate the fact that I can’t be there… reading your blog, listening to your podcasts… sort of change a whole lot of things in my life… are you still there on sunday?? If so, I would love to at least sheke your hand…

  3. He has a panel with Marina Sirtis at 13:00 Sunday so he’ll be there until then at least. If all else fails, you can shake my hand, which by the laws of transitivity should be equal to shaking Wil Wheatons hand :)

  4. If all the starchy food is dragging you down, order a “Gimischter Salatteller” guh-mish-ter salat-teller or mixed salad plate. It is generally plate of a few different vegetable salads with various forms of vinegarette (cabbage slaw, carrot, cucumber, tomato, lettuce) It’s one one of my favorite things to eat out when I’m visiting my grandma every year and can’t take another night of heavy meat, potatoes and black bread. Also in Germany you can get amazing Greek and Turkish foods at a Schnell Imbiss. They’re usually small take-out only places. I have yet to find a Gyro or Döner Kepap as good in Seattle!

  5. Another moving Stand By Me moment, seems this will follow you forever.
    Every time I go back to Germany for a flying visit I’m always surprised in how backwards my homeland still is in terms of vegetarian choices, at least in German restaurants. I’m an omnivore so it’s not an issue for me but it’s still noticeable.

  6. Wil,
    I’ve had a few of those moments where you get blindsided by a memory of someone, and it’s tough, but always glad to see the human side of someone who came out of the grind of Hollywood.
    I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be part of nerd culture, though I feel the draw becoming more and more apparent all the time, and glad you feel so lucky to be part of something which sounds so supportive and enriching.
    Hope you continue to have a good time!

  7. I can’t believe they don’t serve vegetarian food at the Maritim! It’s a disgrace. It’s supposed to be a top-notch hotel. This kind of stuff really angers me!
    I work in Düsseldorf and at the office, we sometimes order food from a vegetarian take-away. Maybe you can enlist Stephan’s help to translate the menu and you can order something from them?
    Also, there are vegan restaurants at Graf-Adolf-Platz and in Hoffeldstraße but I don’t think they deliver food (although maybe they would for you if Stephan told them it’s for you?!).
    Their opening hours are pretty limited though.
    I’m so sorry about this bread-business. This kind of backwards thinking and non-service and unflexibility really make me angry! :o(

  8. Oh, Wil. Thanks so much for this post. It’s touching for the shared memory of River, and hits home with the cultural reference at the end. I’m part of your tribe. I completely get it. You hang in there, have a good con, and a safe trip home. *hug*

  9. Wil, I just found out recently from a friend that you can order Swiss Familia Muesli online from Amazon… with an automatic monthly re-order option. (The FUTURE!) I don’t know if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, but it was the super hippie high-end muesli that my parents used to get from the food co-op when I was a wee lad in the eighties.
    Also, in regards to Doctor Who cufflinks, my girlfriend bought me a set of Seal of Rassilon cufflinks on Etsy. They’re quite snazzy, and I like how they sneakily express my nerd nature. People think they’re Celtic – I tell them that’s the right island, but the wrong planet.

  10. Hey Wil,
    if you do like Müsliy, try MyMuesli: http://uk.mymuesli.com/
    This is a very big hit here in Germany: Just mix your own organic Müesli ant let it be delivered right to your door. It’s quite awesome and veeery tasty.
    Sincereley, glad to have you here in GER,

  11. *HUGS* Those unexpected-smash-you-in-the-face-punch-you-in-the-gut-rip-your-heart-out-steal-your-breath-griefy moments can be really hard to get through and I’m glad that if you couldn’t have your close family nearby to help you breathe again you had still had the comfort and kindness of the community to get you through it.
    By the way, this community is as wonderful as it is at least in part because you are the way you are :) Don’t ever ever forget that!

  12. ou :( dont get ill! take care of your stomach!
    why dont you take a walk through the airport and find something delicious!?
    You wanted to see France from high above on the return to US! So you better be prepared for it :)
    i hope you like it here though!
    maybe you shouldnt stay in a hotel next time – i refer to Couchsurfing so you can cook your own meal :)
    oh and “and I’d be looking at essentially the same thing.”. You just need to look closer and you will find all the wonderful different details of each culture!

  13. I hope this is the last moment like that for you, though I suspect there will be more because you’ve finally opened a door and grief takes time. I’m glad you have our tribe around you to help, regardless.

  14. I have been reading your blog for several months now. It’s because of this that I purchased Just a Geek and read it in under 2 days. I want to thank you. You are an amazing writer and I can’t seem to get enough of your writing. I tend to have a lot of free time at my job and co-workers will ask me what I’m reading. I tell them they must check out your blog. I die a little inside everytime one of them says “who”. Anymore I refer them to Big Bang Theory.
    You remind me so very much of all the men in my family (including my husband). Your sense of humor and interests make me believe that you are a fun guy to hang out with. I hope some day to meet you, however I’m so terribly shy that I would probably not have the nerve to walk up to you. Take care in all you do, and God bless to you and your family. :)

  15. It’s always very cool to read about your experiences, Wil. The content is always relevant to my interests, but you’re just such an excellent storyteller that it’s easy to get sucked in to your narrative. :)

  16. Another moving post about River. One can tell how deep in reaches into you even tho your writing is rather understated.
    On another note: most of those Turkish Döner places have falafel as well! And a lot of new German cuisine restaurants will have veggie stuff. Look for “auflauf” which is akin to a casserol baked with cheese on top.

  17. Thanks for this touching entry.
    I always love your open and sensitive way of writing in your books and blog, And now at Fed Con that I see you interacting with the people I’m so confirmed in my opinion that you’re not just a geek but also such a lovely, modest, down to earth and friendly guy.
    I’m so looking forward to your panel today on sunday since I didn’t manage it to come to Fed Con on thursday (I’m already hopping mad about missing your thursday panel). I hope charming and bubbly Marina lets you have a chance to speak 😉
    BTW: it turned out that I happened to buy the same earrings that you bought as cufflinks. Love Doctor Who as well :-)

  18. gummi bears are usually made with gelatine, and so aren’t vegetarian. (my email is gtbear at gmail because my teddy bear gummi the bear had email before i did, but lets me share.)

  19. never really thought of us as an culture, thx for that wil wheaton, ur damn right!
    sorry bout the bread problem, thats what we germans love to have in the morning. bread or buns with all kinds of jam, meat, cheese or eggs. or cereals.. but thats mainly kids LOL

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