My first convention was in Narita in 2005. I was a convention newbie, but somehow that information had been left off my name-tag (newbies usually have some kind of identifying mark so people know to be nice and welcoming to them!) so I was on my own a bit!
The Board meeting on Friday was held in the middle of Tokyo. For those of you unfamiliar with Tokyo geography, Narita is about an hour's train ride from Tokyo! We ended up arriving late for the dinner, and had missed the ice-breaker activity. At the time I wasn't the least bit bothered, as it was my first time, so I didn't know what I was missing, but now that I know how much nicer and pleasant it is when the meeting is either in the hotel or at least very near, I always have my fingers crossed that they do us a favor of finding us a room there!
The Friday dinner that year was al fresco, it was a lovely outdoor area of the hotel. I think I sat at a table with Louise George Kittaka. I knew the board members, and quite a lot of people's names from the yahoo group femail, so I kind of felt like I knew people. I also spent a lot of time that year with Victoria Yoshimura, who I knew from Kyushu, and by extension with the Slimforce group. I also spend pre-dinner drinks with them on Saturday at a bar in the hotel, when I was just wandering around and happened to bump into them.
My roommate situation that year was a disaster, but again I was all starry-eyed newbie-ish and didn't really notice. I was in a room of three, pot luck. Upon arrival I realized 'three' meant two normal beds - and one camp stretcher. Luckily for me I arrived second and scored a bed. I drank quite a bit that night and staggered back to my room, using the bathroom to change. One roommate was watching TV from her bed while the other roommate was trying to sleep on her cot. I went to bed and roommate No.1 proceeded to chatter away to me. Like I said I was a bit tipsy and a newbie, thought well this is just what it's like, so I chatted back a bit, between laying my head down to strongly hint that I was ready to sleep now. Roommate No.3 said nothing, but I caught her at reception the next day - booking another room. She would rather pay than spend another night with us! I didn't feel too bad, as I was not the one watching TV or initiating the conversation (I was ready to go to sleep) but was still rather surprised! On the second night again Roomie was watching TV when I got back, but I had had even more to drink that night, so it didn't keep me up at all! I did ask her why she was watching TV, she said something about having kids at home, and not much time, and she liked it, which is fine, but I think she should have noticed that the other two people in the room were trying to sleep! Roomie 2 apologized to me for leaving, and tried to make it clear that it was 'just her, I have trouble sleeping' and I still wonder if she thinks it was as much me as the other person, although I had every intention of heading straight to sleep!
I had spent my night in the hospitality room, with smoke breaks in the lobby, and a few drinks there too once the hospitality room had closed for the night at about 1am. I had caught a group in the elevator who were heading out to karaoke earlier, but I felt like I might be missing something of the actual AFWJ convention if I left, so I stayed. I enjoyed chatting to random people in the hospitality room. I remember sitting at a table with three Germans who I thought were so kind to continue to speak in English for my sake! It was a seminar room, with long tables around the edges of the room holding mountains of goodies to eat and drink, books and magazines to give away and brochures and maps of the local area and places to eat and drink. We sat around tables in the centre.
On Saturday morning I attended a flamenco dancing workshop, then went on a tour to Narita temple, walking all through the old town. I thought I should get out and see some of the area I was staying in! Lunch that day was a box of rather ordinary sandwiches at the hotel. I remember meeting Candace for the first time out by the pool while we waited, but I ate lunch with Vicky M. I'll eat anything so I was happy with the sandwiches, but you could sense the polite disappointment, and the frustration of the convention committee, who did their best, and provided lunch because the hotel was in an out of the way place, with no restaurants nearby.
The Saturday night cabaret theme was National Costume (the convention theme was Gateways, with the idea that being close to Narita made it easier for travelers to get to). I wore all black, of course, with a bone carving. All the other kiwis there wore all black too! We all looked rather elegant, although one had added stuffed sheep to her shoulders.
I still remember that cabaret as one of the best. There were several dance performances, and I love watching dance. There was flamenco, hula, tap and Indonesian dance. I also was treated to my very first Bonnie comedy, Aunty Mary that year. That woman is SO funny!!!! I videoed it all, and have NO idea where that tape is now!!
I only caught some of the panel discussion, and I don't recall the topic. I had to catch a plane back, so had to leave early, though I remember popping by to see part of it but missed the famous singing. More about that next time...
I also missed the optional lunch, which was held in a restaurant popular with some of the locals, but a little out of the way for attendees who needed to head back to stations and airports. One person told me she spent three hours on trains that day!