I'm happy to say that I got there. :)
I bought the ticket last month just before the prices went up, then virtually forgot about it (along with my blog) while concentrating on work. A couple of weeks ago, I realised that it was getting close and made a big effort to get work done to catch up so that I could afford to take the day off.
On Friday night, I was still quite short on sleep and not at all organised. I packed a few things into my pilot's case, epilated my face, shaved my legs (which I hate doing, and only do when I don't have time to wax or epilate), straightened my hair and did several other preparatory jobs.
I ended up getting to bed at almost 1am and putting my alarm back to 5am because I figured that I had to try to get 4 hours sleep.
Dragging myself out of bed at 5am, I struggled several times with things that I usually have no trouble with. Even when I'd finished my makeup and had breakfast, I was still seriously considering cleaning myself up and going back to bed, but I kept reminding myself that I'd paid for the ticket and I wasn't going to waste it.
Like last year, I drove to Wahroonga and caught a North Shore train into the city rather than catching a train all the way. This time, I was looking for a specific exit from Town Hall railway station that kept me indoors for longer while walking towards Darling Harbour than the path that I used last year, and it turned out to be called Town Hall Square. At the northern end of the station is the connection to the Queen Victoria Building that I used when we farewelled Su back in June. The end of Town Hall Square is about half way along the western side, and using it kept me indoors for almost a whole block further than the route I used last year, and saved me climbing stairs only to walk back down the hill along the street.
I arrived around 10am, and even with a pre-paid ticket there was a queue to check the tickets and enter. As soon as I got into the venue, I made my way to the cafeteria area at the back to change my shoes. I'd worn the same flats as I wore last year, but this time the left shoe had rubbed into the back of my ankle through my pantihose and chafed the skin quite badly. It was ironic, then, that putting on my almost 6" Tony Bianco Popstar stilettos was a relief from the flats because they took the pressure off the sore spot on my ankle! Yes, that's two 9-volt batteries stacked between the shoes to give an idea of scale. :)
Unlike last year, I hadn't arranged to meet up with anybody else, but through the course of the day I chatted with several people I already knew and a few that I knew on line but hadn't met before. I also had some random conversations, including 2 women I don't know who complimented me on my shoes and a woman in the cafeteria at lunch time who asked me about my bag, asking if
it was a beauty case (no), where did I buy it (a bag shop), etc.
While sitting alone eating lunch (in contrast to last year when there were a dozen of us eating lunch together), I noticed a couple of women looking
for a table so I invited them to join me. They turned out to be some of the American staff of IMATS who were running the show. :)
Unlike last year, I wasn't focussed on looking at the sales stands, so after wandering around and finding it unappealingly crowded around most of the stands, I stopped to look at what one of the speakers, Becca Gilmartin, was doing with body art, and was so impressed that I stayed for the rest of her presentation, then the special effects presentation by Thomas Surprenant that followed. Even when you watch
them being done step by step, it's amazing how convincing makeup
bruises, grazes etc are when they're finished!
After chatting with a few people I knew including some who I hadn't met in person before, I had just about decided to head home when I
sat down at the back of the main stage area to change my shoes for the walk back to the station, had a look at the program and
decided to stay for another session, presented by Donna Mee.
The revelation for me was that the speakers are actually more important to me than the shopping opportunity. I had an enjoyable day at IMATS, in spite of buying nothing but my train ticket and lunch. :)
I had a slightly odd moment when, in the middle of the
day, I forgot how I was
dressed (stilettos and all), and was surprised when the guy at the register in the cafeteria addressed me as
In the whole trip including the trains both way, walking to and from
Darling Harbour and the whole time in the venue, I never once even felt
that anybody was seeing me as a guy. I guess I'm convincing enough for
some people, others aren't taking any notice, and the rest are simply
too polite to say anything. Even a girl of about 3 years old on the
train didn't even look twice.
I have some notes for myself for next year, that others may also benefit from.
* Take a jacket, cardigan or shawl. Sitting down for an hour at a time
to watch presentations can get a bit cool in the big, draughty
exhibition hall. My cape is too big for this!
* I'd really like to be there both days and catch as many of the speakers as possible. I could easily ignore the entire sales side of it and just be there for the presentations and to meet up with other people.
* Take the time to read the program of speakers online before hand to decide who you'd like to see, and plan to be there all day both days. To make that possible, make sure that you get enough sleep in the lead up to the event, and preferably take the Friday afternoon off work.
* Catching trains to Sydney and back and staying within walking distance of Darling Harbour on both Friday and Saturday nights would be a really good idea, although I could probably settle for staying somewhere close to a railway station around Hornsby if I could park my car there safely from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.