I am always astonished by how jumping outside of my comfort zone leads to so much I cannot possibly predict. That’s the magic of travel. Today I climbed into my inner geek suit, indulging a guilty pleasure passion for science fiction and fantasy, and as a result, met so many warm and intriguing people from around the country, even the world!
It’s an emotional high, this travel bug, that feeds my soul more than even sitting on my patio surrounded by my garden, journaling and sipping my strong coffee (straight black, robust and dark, a symphony of textures – waxing poetic about my daily drug! Portland must be ingrained in my bone marrow.) I am such a quiet person in my routine life, that the in-your-face challenge of new places that overwhelms me also forces me to adapt, learn, innovate, and thus continually create and renew myself. Who am I in the context of this group of people and what does that show me about myself?
Now don’t be alarmed, but this serious and possibly narcissistic reflection is the direct result of attending the 2010 Chicago ComicCon and most especially of attending a private party with James Marsters, one of my all-time favorite artists (music and stage). It isn’t just the epic around-the-world journeys that feed our souls, it’s the coming together with people from multiple regions, ages, and life experiences who all happen to share a common passion that can teach us so much.
Tonight, while celebrating James Marsters’ birthday with a small gathering of his fans, I met a number of people who illustrate this point. The vibrant woman from Britain who has been able to see the world because of her passion for James. Others who never really started to travel until they first ventured to a Marsters’ event. Newbies like myself who may have harbored an appreciation for James Marsters’ acting and music for a long time, but have only recently taken that first step and been rewarded with new friendships. We all seem to share an appreciation of not just the dashing, devilish good looks of James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but of great story-telling and literature. I found myself engrossed in conversations about Shakespeare and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the same paragraphs!
Not to mention, it’s downright fabulous to meet some one you’ve admired for so long and discover that they are approachable, thoughtful and articulate, highly knowledgable, and all with a dash of humility. How refreshing! (Thank you, James Marsters! And happy birthday.)
Okay, so now that my rambling philosophical thoughts are pouring out, and you’re all wondering, so what? What about what you actually DID today?….
This was my very first major convention related to comics, science fiction, fantasy, etc. Actually, I cannot remember the last convention I went to (maybe the college one back during my junior year of high school?) It is a feast of warring visual and auditory information! As a fibromite, I really wish I knew what I was getting into! I expected there would be lines and crowds and artificial light, but I never expected the toll that took on my body. A couple hours in and my muscles and joints were aching, my back felt like it might cave in on itself, my eyes were spasming from the lights, and my head felt foggy and pounding from all the noise. For a while there, I was weaving through the crush of people as if I was in a daydream.
So a word of advice to anyone with fibromyalgia attending a convention – wear super comfy shoes (check!), carry water (opps!), take LOTS of breaks where you can sit down (difficult to do in the actual exhibit halls, so take advantage of panels and programming where there are chairs), and carry small snacks to avoid the blood sugar crash of reactive hypoglycemia. I even think I should have brought my sunglasses – anything to dull or even out the almost hypnotic effect of warehouse-style artificial lighting. (An annoying piece of the fibro puzzle is extreme sensitivity to light).
The goofy fun of the convention was a highlight – so many creative costumes mixed in among the ubiquitous Jedis. Exhibit after exhibit of artwork, fantastical and fascinating. T-shirts that made me laugh out loud. The surprising friendliness of everyone there – stars, artists, security, fans. Michael Trucco from Battlestar Galactica epitomizes this. He took the time to talk to everyone he autographed photos for, posed with the inevitable gaggles of excited, giggling girls, and debated the merits of various signature tools with my husband. James Marsters (again, HUGE fan here, so pardon the incessant gushing) is another wonderful example. Gracious with every fan he met.
That’s another surprising aspect – amidst the huge scale of this crowded convention, there was still a sense of intimacy. In the panel with James Marsters, he invited everyone closer to the stage whether they had a VIP pass or not and truly listened to and engaged with his audience. All the Star Trek stars on the convention floor actually initiated random conversations with people strolling by. And as much as I am not impressed with the former Illinois governor, the fact Rob Blagoaveich was just strolling around and greeting people without a huge entourage trailing him illustrates this.
Will I ever attend another ComicCon convention? Absolutely. My inner geek is now firmly out of the closet. I actually spent money on a comic book (Buffy, but still! It’s a comic book!) And next time around I might even dress up as the telephone box from Doctor Who.