Pulling on my Geek Suit – Chicago ComicCon 2010

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.


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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4 Responses to Pulling on my Geek Suit – Chicago ComicCon 2010

  1. Tonie says:

    Chronictraveler – you are an amazing writer.


  2. Lara says:

    Thank you so much. I was a missionary to orphanages in mexico and guatemala and came back to work and save money to go back one day. Five years into it I am diagnosed with Fibro and lose everything. I am now trying to re-start my new life and your blog about traveling really encouraged me. I am an avid traveler, and cried at the thought of not being able to anymore.

    • chronictraveler says:

      Wow, I am touched – thank you for sharing your story! I was a teacher when I was diagnosed – I miss it tremendously. We have a rough road, that is for sure. I hope you are able to find ways to continue travelling despite the pain and fatigue. I am finding that I have a completely different perspective now – I think I treasure what I can experience so much more. I would love to hear how it’s going – we need all the mutual encouragement we can get!

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