Verra good convention

It has been occurring to me for a few weeks that I should probably buy some clothes before the road trip. This is because I do not have a pair of non-yoga pants that fit me. All but one of my “casual” dresses has multiple holes in the seams and they are fraying. The one casual dress that is still in good shape… I’ve had since I was 14. I need to find a seamstress and have them make four copies of this dress and I’ll be set for clothes for life. But that one dress isn’t going to be enough clothing for a five month trip—even though it is awesome.  I am not especially comfortable in yoga pants and t-shirts because “Why yes, this is my butt. Why don’t you COMMENT ON IT BECAUSE APPARENTLY IF A WOMAN WEARS FUCKING YOGA PANTS ASSHOLES HAVE THE RIGHT TO COMMENT ON HER BUTT.”

Being at the con is fascinating for me on this front. I dressed up more than usual. I have read lots of studies about how people treat women better if they dress better. When I’m feeling scared and unsure of myself, I’m more likely to put on makeup. Because I’m me, that means lipstick and eyeliner. I wipe anything else off by accident. Doesn’t look so hot after a while. I can keep on lipstick and eyeliner.

In the past when I’ve gone to conventions dressed very schlub-like (as in: more normal for me) people didn’t talk to me much. I haven’t walked more than a few feet this time without people wanting to talk.

I like wearing knee length dresses over yoga pants. That’s kind of the ideal coverage for me. Folks don’t comment on my ass and I still have as much comfort plus freedom of movement. In this environment I look quite conservative, which is sorta funny to me. I look so unusual compared to the crowd that women feel free to tell me that I’m overdressed and how I must by overheating. Uhm, actually I’m cold.

Just because I’m at a convention does not mean I should be running around in a bikini or similar cosplay. Not My Scene. (I’m totally ok with folks doing that. I’m not hating! I just don’t want to be told I should be doing it just because other people might enjoy looking at me dressed that way. Your fantasy should stay in your head and I shouldn’t have to hear about it.)

This con has been a weird hybrid space for me. Lots of the adults are con-regulars. They go to lots of kinds of conventions and the conversations get pretty racy. There are also a lot of kids here. This is hard for me to handle. So far I’ve been directing my kids away from festive conversations “They are talking about boring grown up stuff” or I try to watch my mouth in front of the teenagers who are here.

Had an incident with Shanna and Calli running ahead of the child care people to get on an elevator alone. Cue heart attack. Layers of adults were upset. Shanna…. Kid…. This needs to stop. This is not the first time this month you have run off. I think the leash is going to have to be tightened up a lot because you are not behaving responsibility. If you want a longer leash and more responsibility, you need to bloody well act like you can handle it. Right now that isn’t happening. If I spent over an hour (cumulatively) in the past month searching for you because you disappeared… this is becoming a problem.  No. No. No. It has happened on multiple outings.

Do you really want to go back to not being allowed to be farther from me than being able to touch me? I thought we outgrew that space. But we can go right back to it if necessary!  It is more important to me to keep you safe than to give you distance. You bet your buttons little missy. At like 10 we can renegotiate checking in before you wander off. Not at 6. Not when we are places we have never been before. No.

I bought too many books. By “too many” I mean… it’s a good thing Noah came on Friday and brought a load of books back with him mid-weekend because I bought more and I probably would not have been able to get them all home on public transit alone….

I found SO MANY wonderful looking books I’ve never heard of. And many of the authors were right in front of me! How could I turn down such an opportunity.

For the record: I am not alone at the conference with the kids. Sarah has been a lifesaver on so many levels. She did kid programming with the kids while I was doing panels. She hangs out with them when I want to do stuff. This is so awesome. I am having a lot of fun and a lot of that is because of Sarah’s company and help. I’ve missed her a lot.

It is funny to me how relationships drift and change. There are folks who have passionately made declarations of loyalty and love to me. Most of them have left nothing but a vapor trail to remember them by. Some people have said, “Motherfucker you treat me right or I’m walking”… and mostly they are still here. Because I’m working hard on how to treat them. I think it is important that they be treated well and I’m really sorry when I fuck up.

I feel guilty for waking Sarah up so early this morning. Otherwise it’s been a great trip. This convention has been wonderfully fun for me.

Reading kids books was fun and it was a super good idea that I brought a whole stack. We went through lots. I thought that one of my co-readers in particular put me to shame. She works at a childrens book store and she can read upside down so the kids can see the pictures better. I’m so spoiled with sitting on a couch with two kids. Totally different reading experience. I suppose saying she shamed me is an awful way of putting it. Ok, better reframe: I saw someone truly inspirational. She was amazing at reading aloud and making it accessible to kids. She also picked hilarious books I will have to look around for and get. I will try to steal tricks from someone who is so wise in the management of young feral animals. The other reader brought some really interesting books. I will look for the one on Chinese musical instruments. And his other book, The Shy Creatures went through all kinds of nifty, historical, fantastic monsters. It would be a great introduction to all sorts of Western Lit stuff.

I was alright. I had too much caffeine so I was literally shaking the whole time. Good things kids don’t care. I was “a little tired”. Next time I’m a “little tired” I’m having more tea and not a damn Foosh mint.

Then I went to the imposter syndrome panel! Apparently we were up against the most popular event on the schedule. Whoops. But we had a full room! People were standing against the back wall and sitting on the floor on the sides! That was SO COOL! Not that they were there for my star power or anything. But it was great to have a packed room. I’ve been to lots of panels with 3 person audiences. They turn into group discussions instead of panels.

The chair of the convention asked me to moderate, which is my idea of a good time. So I wrote up a document with information about imposter syndrome statistics and data, ways to deal with it, and ways to assess how much danger you are really in. I made a point of saying that there is a difference between imposter syndrome and feeling incompetent. If you have a long and impressive resume and you tell yourself that you suck… you have imposter syndrome. If you haven’t done anything yet…. you don’t have imposter syndrome you have low self esteem. BUT! The treatment for low self esteem looks VERY SIMILAR to the treatment for imposter syndrome so let’s tackle both problems.

I talked about how to tell the difference between ambient fear/anxiety that “I’m not good enough” vs. evaluating that some demographics are in *real danger* when they write. You need to honor the fear that is trying to keep you alive. There are reasons for some demographics to be terrified. It *is* dangerous. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are being melodramatic. Writers are killed to be silenced on a fairly regular basis. History is littered with such stories.

I talked about how different people have different intersections to explain and why that is so important. Often in that intersectional identity is where you feel the most repression and you must get over it. Your voice must be heard. You are needed.

We talked about dealing with emotional blocks. We offered suggestions from video games to hysterical crying. Truly we covered all the bases. Ha. (Obviously I was the crier.)

Afterwards a bunch of people came up and told me they got a lot out of the panel and they were so glad to hear me speak.

*happy dance*

Also, yesterday in the con suite I had a long chat with another mom. We were both in the disabilities in writing panel and she mentioned having a disabled son and how that impacts her life/reading/writing/etc. When I saw her later I felt a little awkward interrupting… she was sitting there typing and minding her own business. But it was super wonderful. We had a great chat. We talked about dealing with the special ed system and home schooling and unschooling and benefits and pitfalls. We talked about having PTSD and managing that.

I love conventions. I meet such interesting people.

I specifically love writing conventions because THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE TOLD ME COLLEGE WOULD BE LIKE only they were fucking liars. Smart people getting together to have fun conversations about books. My college experience wasn’t much like that. But how much of it is my fault because I went through college sleeping in a steel cage.

Ok, I didn’t sleep in the cage every night. It hurt my back too much. It was only 3’x3’x4′. When I wasn’t in the cage I was chained to the foot of the bed. I wasn’t sitting out all night long having fun conversations about books.

Maybe this is why I love conventions so much. It is the ideal of what college could be if college weren’t so shitty.

Kind of like how every once in a while there is a positive medical experience and you’re like WHY CAN’T IT BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME?!

Next con, I am not going to have working shifts on every day. It means I miss a lot of stuff because I’m in transition periods to and from work shifts and I can’t really engage in other things. 6 hours of working split over three days doesn’t sound like a lot. But it always blocks me from doing things I want to do… I like volunteering. I’m not complaining about helping. But I think I need to work on how I schedule my time.

I feel like this convention has been very positive for me. I’ve had a lot of fun. I have felt included in community. I have felt like my tribe is happy to have me back. I’ve run into a lot of folks I met when I was 19. It is shocking to me how happy they are to see me. They are thrilled to meet my kids. They want to hear all about home schooling.

Sometimes I think I am entirely blind to what I mean to other people. I really don’t see or understand the impact I have on other people. They are interested in me–even though I think everyone has no use for me. A lady writer I have admired for many years said, “Send me an email. We need to have dinner together. I want to spend more time with you and your wonderful children.” My heart went pitter patter. She’s one of those awesome educators that taught me about having boundaries and having a self. And she wants to come hang out with me and have dinner.

Squee, flap hands, jump up and down, all those mature things. Yes. Yes I will invite you over.

Because clearly I have buckets of free time. But, like the smallest chicken says in Chicken Big “But we’ll make room!”

Today is our last day of the con. I work in child care. Not sure if I will see another panel. The final panel I could go see is one that I was supposed to be on but I backed out because I didn’t feel comfortable. I’m not sure I can name any Sci/Fi Fantasy books set in suburbia…

That’s ok. The kids and I can go swimming instead. I arranged for late check out so that pool access will be easy. Whee!

It has been a good weekend. A really good weekend. I remember why I used to go to these sorts of things more often. I’m a writer. I like talking to other writers. We are a weird breed. In particular this crowd is very ok with the mentally ill existing. I feel safe here. I feel like announcing that I have PTSD is just a way for more people to know to introduce themselves and say, “Me too.” I don’t get shamed here. I don’t get put down. No one makes fun of me for being crazy. The attitude is a sage nod of the head and “That sounds hard.”

I love my tribe.

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