Part of it was being told every hour on the hour that I am the cleverest person in the world, practically, which I don't think is even true, but is nice to be told. Various folk cooed over Teen Dreams, though the actual copies promised did not turn up, which is a shame, because they could have sold scores.
The paper - my chapter on Joss Whedon as example of what happens when comics fans grow up to be creators (all credit to jennyo for her idea of the Fanboy Creators)- went well and more importantly went well with both comics-literate people and those not yet comics-literate. Which indicates I am getting the tone right and should stop worrying and write the damn book.
Too many good papers listened to and commented on to talk of here, some of which I know to have come from LJ people. Among these ctofine, makd and maeve_rigan. And there were many there who read my fanfic, though they mostly like 'Bed of Bones', the story which will haunt my dying day, rather than my personal favourites like the 'Girl' stories and 'Decent Interval'.
I got to spend a lot of time with jennyo and we had intense conversations about fanfic and what we love and don't love about it. Of which more anon, because I came up with a theory - for once I bounced something off Jen instead of the other way around - which I may write up at length elsewhere. Essentially, it had to do with alaahfic that is gay in a fluffy sense, and fanfic and slash which are more subversively queer; this is not to diss fluffy boyfic so much as to say why my tastes mostly lie elsewhere.
Later, in discussions after an artist's presentation of her life with BtVS sims, I found myself arguing that the problem with Mary Sues is that part of the point of fanfic is to find that part of a character's inner truth which relates to your own issues and work with it. Hence my use of Cordy to talk about femininity as performative, and Dawn to talk about anxiety about being constructed and therefore not authentic - there is a sense in which all my fanfic is a meditation on being trans. I shall think on this further.
I also formulated far more clearly than ever before, in response to a paper arguing very well that Faith is straightened out as lip service to a lesbians-get-cured cliche, that the important thing about the sexuality of both Faith and her eventual soulmate (?) Robin Wood is that they are both pushy bottoms who have bisexuality and kink in common. In which case, his patronizing speech on their last evening can be rewritten as him trying to psych her into topping him. This went down quite well, though some people freaked at the suggestion a) that when Faith says 'you did it' to Buffy, she is saying that Buffy made her come as well as that she has killed her and that b) Wood sets up an elaborate sexual ritual which is less aimed at killing Spike than at getting Spike to bite him, so that Wood can become his own abandoning mother. I don't actually think either of these perspectives are necessarily true, but they are worryingly plausible.
Rhonda Wilcox is the most hospitable conference organizer ever, and I ate fried green tomatoes, which are not what I expected.
Later on in Atlanta, I stayed in a cheap motel where people had free and frank exchanges of view - words like ho, c*ckS*cker and the like flowed like sludge - at five in the morning. But it was cheap.
I spent much time with the delightful bluehyacinth with whom I ate food, listened to the Dresden Dolls, watched several episodes of 'Big Love' about which there needs to be more said, saw 'X3' which is cheesy but has great Kitty moments and some very slashy Logan/Scott and Charles/Erik bits, and went to a park and the zoo.
I saw various American birds which you may take for granted - cardinals, mockingbirds, grackles, blue jays - and several chipmunks. In Atlanta zoo, we watched a male silverback gorilla have his teeth done from about two or three feet away, and had pandas stare at us through glass. I am still conflicted about zoos, but I can no longer mock Paule's ex-flatmate Dee for her remarks about swimming with dolphins as spiritual experience. Looking into a gorilla's eyes and having him look back at me, watching pandas be deliberately cute at me, were both things that spoke to my condition. It's like when Benvenuto Cellini saw a salamander in the flames as a child and his father boxed his ears to make sure he never forgot. I was touched by seeing those magnificent creatures; they are prisoners but for the moment they are at least alive and might not be otherwise. And I did not feel that they were just there for me - Taz in particular was his own creature who has an accomodation with what life has been for him. He may or may not have a fully intelligent mind, but that beast has soul.
And then I flew home, and feel like death.