North American 10th Anni Post Partum Depression
By: Locus Sarania
Going to any Tower event, I look forward to seeing my old friends. There is also the opportunity to make new friends and even reconnecting with those who we don't hear from too often. That means you too, lurkers. When I first arrived I was just in time for orientation that included a history of TarValon.Net. Seeing Mother speak and hearing from the different administrative teams put me in the right mood after hours of long travel. Following that I was able to meet up with my Company, SDS, and enjoy the various toasts that helped kick off the festivities. It was also good to see Brandon Sanderson and Harriet Rigney in attendance for most of the weekend. Following that it was up to my room where I got into my PJs to prepare for the slumber party. While on the way, there was a special Company toast. For me, this was a very special and personal gathering that helped me to get closer to the men and women of whom I have aspired. When all was said and done, we ventured to a large slumber party where most of us were in our jammies. As with many of these events, we were up all night sharing stories and having fun.
The next day started with an adventure for me as I lost my room key the night before, so I was strolling around in my PJs for some time trying to find a way back inside my room. While getting weird looks from Tower buddies and the other hotel guests, I was able to get in and begin my day. I made it down to still catch some of the Q&A with Brandon Sanderson. I love hearing him speak because he is very personable and brings an aura of understanding that lets everyone know he belongs. When he finished he ventured off to a book signing for us before he had to go to another book signing off site. I then headed to watch the Sumo Wrestling where Tower folks got into these inflatable suits and bounced around. Two matches into the event, it had to be rescheduled due to a building power outage. As more time passed I attended a lecture by Dr. Michael Livingston that was very informative. He compared the similarities of J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan while also providing a back story of Robert Jordan and possible origin stories of several Wheel of Time characters. He has taught a course in J.R.R. Tolkien at Citadel College and is planning on teaching a course on Robert Jordan which makes me want to move to South Carolina and actually attend. Dr. Livingston was along with Brandon and Harriet with us during most of the weekend, just hanging out. Next was our dinner. Everyone was looking spiffy either in their costumes or their formal attire. People were bidding on really cool items from Robert Jordan's collection and other secret Wheel of Time paraphernalia for the Silent Auction. There were recognitions and Merit Badge announcements. Once dinner was complete there was dancing that led to the installation of the new Keeper. I am a bit angry with myself for I believe when that happened, I may have been back at my room getting an aspirin for a headache I was dealing with. I did come back to more dancing though. The Silent Auction was fun and it was cool to see the support the flow in. Speaking of support of the Tower, there was the da Covale auction that I happened to be a part of. It was a great deal of fun strutting around and helping the site earn money. I can't get into specifics but I channeled the Old Spice Man to help get me into character. Another late night hanging out and being with friends persisted til the wee hours of the morning.
The next day we had the opportunity to tour Robert Jordan's home. First I was introduced to the Garden -- a spacious, beautiful landscape that was home to various flowers, and fruits. Various pieces of outdoor art and stone work dotted the area. One could only imagine how the entire garden would look in the height of Spring once everything has bloomed and/or bears fruit. There were different paths and peaceful areas that can help one meditate for hours on end. A reflective pool, small pond with koi and goldfish, and a modern styled lap pool, provided a luxury that didn't clash with the serenity that lay around. The house was built in the 1790s and we were informed of some of the additions that took place as time passed. Moving into the house there was Harriet waiting for us bouncing up and down on what appeared to be a Medieval trampoline of some sorts. As we continued on she have us a brief rundown of the vast pieces of art and how Robert Jordan lived. Meeting Harriet and speaking with her was surreal. There were objects from around the world in all shapes and sizes. Portraits and paintings and Wheel of Time inspired items of course were everywhere. One of my favorite things to see was the collection of Wheel of Time books in different languages all in sequential order from Eye of the World to The Towers of Midnight. Being inside the house was inspiring, a place where you not only noticed yourself but others around you geeking out over this thing or that thing. There was so much history in there and so many stories. It was also interesting to see/hear about several items and situations that were made into the Wheel of Time. As I watched a friend next to me with tears in her eyes of joy at being there, I was almost ready to join her while still being in disbelief that I was actually there. Did I mention there was a Dragon Throne? I don't know if that alone was amazing or the fact that the chair had a tail behind it. Intricate carvings in figurines and statutes of all materials; could they be angreal, sa'angreal, or ter'angreal? Upstairs we found a wide assortment of weapons, books, videos, and strange signs in different languages. But mostly books. I don't have an actual number but I would say there were around 15,000 books in shelves everywhere and desks. You can also find the offices of Team Jordan there. Very similar was Robert Jordan's office that was located in another part of the house with his collection of weapons and books of all sorts, from all parts of the world. Skulls, helmets, die-cast cars could also be found there. Then there it was, Robert Jordan's desk, where the Wheel of Time began. His chair where he documented the stories and characters we have come to love and admire. If you didn't think it would get better, you could actually sit in his chair. There was an energy, an aura that was more than humbling in and out of the house. One word that was floating in my head was "nerdgasm". It was truly an experience.
As we left we shared the stories of what we loved about the house, reliving everything seen and even not seen. The business of Anni continued with Wheel of Time Trivia that was not for the faint of heart. Brilliant members of the Tower matched wits with each other for bragging rights. I didn’t play but it was fun to watch. Those questions were crazy tough. There would be more dramatic competition that followed. There was the Amyrlin's Tournament Sword Fighting Competition. These fierce battles were not only intense to watch but also to participate in. I myself faced great fighters of different styles and with luck on my side was able to win that portion of the Tournament. There was then a Q&A with Maria Simons and Alan Romanczuk of Team Jordan. A good time was had by all as questions regarding Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time were fielded. A pool party followed, but I decided to stick around for the other portion of the rescheduled Tournament Sumo Wrestling. Men and women of the Tower were throwing their weight around for supremacy and a couple of laughs. As this progressed there was karaoke all in the same area that called up brave souls to sing their hearts out and provide a soundtrack to these dramatic battles. As the night wound down, this years Anni awards were presented. More frivolity and good times were had until the day ended and all prepared to leave.
The following day came with many hugs, tears, and goodbyes. As I said before, I will repeat again. This year's North American Anniversary party was indeed, EPIC.