Sunday, September 16, 2012

To Come in Costume or Not in Costume, Welcome to the World of Cons

I have been to ONE comic book convention. It was splendiferous! I felt a wave of Nerdvana wash over me as I first stepped out of the car. We had seen a few people in costume. But, the girl getting out of the car just then, she made my day. I was the only one in our group that knew who she was. Well, the character. I even knew the episode! "Shindig" from Firefly. Out steps a lovely auburn haired girl in a pink confectionery delight of tiers upon tiers of ruffle. I knew that I had found my happy nerdy home.

So, I decided that since I have a few friends who have never been to a "Con" (short for convention), I would make a list of hints, tips and general things to know before you go. My lovely assistant Jerry Don shall help me. OK, he has been way to way more conventions than me.

1. Bring your camera. And, make sure it is well charged. Yes, you will have your phone. But, I assure you, the service will be non-existent and/or the battery WILL die. There are so many things and people you will want to take your picture with. And, don't think, "OH, I will come back to take the picture then". Most likely, you won't get another opportunity.

2. Check the website before you go. You will want to be prepared for how much autographs and such will cost. Yes, the big celebrities will charge you for an autograph. Some of the actors will even charge you to take a picture with you. But, not all. Some will have prints available to sign. They might charge for them. They might not. When we got the autographs of David Prowse (Darth Vadar) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) we could have had our pictures done. But, we were so excited, we forgot. David Prowse had prints available that he included in his price. we had one with Vadar and Boba. FYI Star Wars actors are generally far  more "generous" than Star Trek. So, we have them framed together. And, just because the site says that they won't be there, they might still. It's best to be prepared. The comic book artists at the last convention in Dallas would sign up to two pieces of work. And, some will even do sketches for you. 

This is my favorite comic book. I got to meet the artist Jamie Tyndall in Dallas. Also got a signed print. He is a really nice guy. His wife does cosplay. Speaking of which...

3.  Cosplay, short for "costume play," is a type of performance are in which the participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. There will be cosplayers at conventions. The bigger the convention, the more cosplayers. When taking photos of cosplayers, common courtesy is to ask permission and ask their name and verify their name. Besides, they are generally hams, and they will pose for you.  These guys and girls spend a lot of time on their costume. And, some of them are nationally known. Tallest Silver and Kit Quinn are our favorites. Here are some examples.

A female Gambit - Marvel

Black Widow - Marvel
Poison Ivy - DC
Storm - Marvel
Darth Maul - Star Wars

 And, if you want to come to a convention in costume, you will most likely be asked to get your picture made. Be a good sport. :)

4. You will want to each bring a back pack. Even if you don't normally, you'll want one. There are so many things to buy. And, if you are planning on bringing items to have autographed, you'll need it. Also, it gives you room for the camera we mentioned earlier. Plus, you may not want to leave things like a GPS in your car. You will have to pay for parking. But, that still doesn't guarantee your car will NOT get broken into. Another thing that you may want to consider is a poster tube. I would post a picture of ours. But, I can't remember where it is. Most of the prints available are not small. And, they have straps, so your hands are free. And, look around before you start actually shopping. There are going to be booths selling the same goods. Some booths will be a lot more expensive than others.

5. Bring snacks and a bottle of water. There are concession stands. But, they are not cheap. And, there will be lines. Generally, long lines. And, you are not going to want to leave for lunch and come back. 

6. Label your child. If I took a child under 10, I would use a Sharpie, write your names and numbers on their arm. Mostly because there are so many people in one building. 

7. Expect long lines. So, whenever possible, buy your tickets ahead of time. It is not unheard of to spend 2 hours getting in without tickets. And, long lines EVERYWHERE. Food, booths, to get in, to the bathrooms. Just be ready.

8. Even if you are in a group of adults, pick a meeting place. As I stated earlier, the phone reception in most convention centers is really bad. So,you can't count on being able to call or text each other.

9. There will be costume contests, panel interviews and such. Figure on being there early. It may be packed. Especially if Stan Lee or Patrick Stewart are involved. Also, if you are in a group, you might have someone hold seats for you.

10. Don't expect to see every star. Just because they are in the building, you might not see them. (I DID get to see Summer Glau, however. She is as lovely and graceful in real life as she is on screen.

11. When you meet a celebrity, rule of thumb is to never quote one their lines. It gets REALLY old.

12. Even though it is a "comic book convention" there will be booths, actors, artists and vendors from a variety of genres including, gaming, comics, anime, sci-fi, and all things geeky. INCLUDING Doctor Who. Lots of Doctor Who. I love Doctor Who. If David Tennant ever comes to a Con in Texas, I will simply die. 

13. The Dallas Con is not the San Francisco Con. The bigger the Con, the more there is to see, do and buy. There are often movie previews, a lot more actors, exclusive merchandise, and more opportunities in general. However, there will be a lot more people, a lot less true "nerd" based media and much longer lines
14. And, if you are an artist, feel free to bring your own work. The artists are generally very kind, patient and supportive of other artists. Our kids shared their work with Richard Dominguez, I believe it was. He gave the kids very patient and enthusiastic critiques.

15: Wear Tennis Shoes. If you are in costume, bring them. There is NO WHERE to sit down inside.

16. Steampunk... Well, that's just another blog all together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nearly a year...

     I am sitting her listening to a podcast "starring" my friend Jeff Emery about life with juvenile diabetes. It is reminding me of how Sarah coped as an individual and as we functioned as a family. I was amazed at how she functioned in the world. She had "melt downs" where the weight of diabetes overwhelmed her. But, I can count those times on my fingers. She made it clear that she had the disease. Not, the other way around. She did not want to be known as the kids with diabetes. That really ticked her off. I am so proud of the woman she was becoming. She was so a staunch defender of her friends and loved ones. She was tender hearted When the ones she loved were hurting, she hurt, too.
   One thing I should clarify. The original thought was that her blood sugar had dropped in the middle of the night. It did not. She did have a seizure. And, it caused her heart to turn on her. Most likely as a result of the stress on her heart. I have had several people ask. And, I felt this was a good time to clarify.
     I don't grieve like other people. No, I don't wallow in grief. I make a point to not let my sorrow effect how I treat people. Some people might see it as being uncaring, or thoughtless. More likely, it's ADD. I am in agony. Not a moment hardly goes by during the day that my thoughts are not on my kids. Some of you know that I have "dad's weekends" with Ty. When I left his father, the children stayed with their father because they wanted to stay at the same school. My children were in the best place for them was with their father.  The day that I came to that conclusion was one of the most heart wrenching ever. Not that their father is a better parent, or that I am a bad parent. Just that it was where they needed to be. I did not have the means to provide for them like they should be. And, they were thriving despite the divorce. And, if Ty asked to move to Abilene, I would say no. He needs to be where he is.
     As Friday morning gets closer, I can feel my heart sinking. The anniversary is technically on Sunday the 16th. But, it feels like Friday. It feels so much like it did last year. It is the same week of the football season.. Playing the same team as last year. The weather is even the same. It is going to be Ty's first football game. I am worried that last year will overshadow last year. Sarah was so excited that she understood the rules. She spent the whole game last year messaging me about the game. I was keeping her up on the current episode of Vampire Diaries. I was trying not to tell her too much about the Secret Circle after that. We were worried they would butcher the story. They did. But, she never got to watch it.
     I love Sarah's stepmother. And, I don't say any thing from here out against her. She has always "done right by my children." And, it was my choice to leave and come to Abilene. But, that does not lessen the hurt that the last night my daughter spent on this world was not with me. It is agonizing. It is heart wrenching. It actually causes physical pain. The hardest thing in the world is not thinking out what she would be doing right now. She would be driving, with a permit. She would most likely have a boyfriend. She would be tall and beautiful. The me I wish I had grown into. I wish I had her gusto. Her guts. (She got those from her dad. We made some pretty awesome kids.) But, if I think about it too long, it pulls me towards a dark place.
     The Dark Place is where I spent a lot of time a few years ago. I promised Sarah I would not go back there again. I felt like a roadblock in people's lives. Just someone who was always in the way. I would hurt myself. Not injure myself. I have a scar from running a serrated letter opener over the same spot for weeks. I had suicidal thoughts. I would not have gone through with them. But, when you ask, "Why on earth would someone ever consider killing themselves?", remember, their self worth is non-existent. You honestly feel the world would be a better place without you. Your children would be better off without you. That you are a hindrance to everyone. I still have trouble with my self worth. And, I still feel like I am an annoyance that gets on everyone's nerves. And, I suck as a friend. And, as a person in general.  I can barely stand being around myself. So, I don't see how others can stand it either. But, it is getting better. A lot better. In some ways, I am better than I was a year ago.
     A lesson that I have learned over the last few months is that I am not the only person grieving Sarah. It was hard to accept that outside of immediate family, others were still missing her, too. She wasn't just mine. She belonged to us. As parents, we had a bigger piece of her. And, we do not all grieve the same. Some of us make comments that others "don't get" or find offensive. I am sorry. But, I am really tired of watching what I say. There are heaps of stress and problems in the world. And, some in more homes than others. This effects how we cope.
     I am going to wrap this up. I am wiped, fully and completely. But, one more thing before I go. If there is anything I have learned in the last couple of years. Peace and joy don't come to you. You have to take it. Find it. If you don't have anything that makes you happy. FIND SOMETHING. And, by God, DO IT! Don't take the oh, who is me route. No one can make you happy. You have to DECIDE to be happy. Yes, there are times that your circumstances make things more difficult. When possible, changed your circumstances. Love yourself. If you don't, it will make it more difficult to love others. And, remember, there are people who love you. There are people out there who want to help you. you ARE NOT ALONE!!!! But, no one can make you do anything it's up to you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In just over a week... will have been a year. A long, heart wrenching, breath taking, life altering year. I am at a huge overwhelming ball of emotions. Mostly good, actually. There is a a certain amount of peace that comes from running low on firsts. I know there will be more. But, we are past the first holidays without her, first birthdays, start of school, and things of that nature. There is also a selfish sense of thinking that somehow now that a year has passed, that the rest of the world (not counting really close friends and family) can move on and let us have the grief to ourselves.
      I have come to realize that Sarah meant more to the world than I could have imagined. Somehow, knowing this helps. You always hope that your children will have an impact on this world. I already had an idea. I knew of several occasions of her standing up for other kids. Some where she was willing to take on a bigger kid, or less popular. She stood up for the underdog. And, she was proud of who she was and who she called her friend. She had faith in God. Not always religion. She and I believed there is a great difference between the two.
      I figure that I will spend a lot of the next week remembering the last week and a half. Remembering the last phone call, text messages, hugs and so on. The night before she died, she was at her step-brother's football game. It was the first game that she understood the rules. So, I figure that is a lot of the reason that I am dreading Ty's first game. It won't feel the same without her there.
      Well, that is all for the moment. I need some rest. I just hope I get it. Good night all.