I spent most of the con running games with my friends The Guise Knights. When I wasn't running games, I was playing them or finding more caffeine. Here's my experience of it.
After K's kindergarten graduation ceremony, our little family packed up a few bags and went up to the convention center to register. I had a panel that night to hit up, too, so we wanted to be onsite early. Sean and I took K on a whirlwind tour of the exhibition hall where we ran into a lot of old friends. Some people who haven't seen K in a few years just gaped at how she's grown. We saw Browncoats, video game characters brought to life, shelves of swag, light sabers, Storm Troopers. I think K nearly fainted when she met a life-sized R2 D2 who rolled up to her and beeped. I had to run upstairs for the informal Author Roundup. There were about 30 of us up there, tops, including the guests. Instead of sitting in the chairs while the authors sat behind their table, we all gathered on the floor and spent a half our bullshitting. Cherie Priest (Boneshaker, Clementine), Paul Cornell (British Summertime, episodes of Dr. Who) and John Scalzi (Old Man's War, Fuzzy Nation) are not only great authors they are terrific, lovely people. If you ever have the chance to just go say hi to them, I highly recommend it. When we first sat down, forming a little circle on the floor, I wasn't sure if we were going to sing Kumbaya or play Duck-Duck-Goose. We started introducing ourselves and Paul Cornell, in his very awesome British accent, asked, "So are we all alcoholics?" Immediately put the room in an easy kinda vibe and conversations began. It wasn't like one or two people held everyone rapt. Just a mixer.
After about a half hour, Cherie and Scalzi took off and I went back over to the Hyatt next door to check on our gaming area and meet up with the husband and daughter. K had so much fun, she asked to stay home from school the next day so she could come with us to Comic Con! That ended up not happening because that night, she had what I call an "existential crisis". (more on that in a moment.) Sean had a late night game to run, so I took the little miss back home and got her ready for bed.
As we're going about our routine of stories and teeth-brushing...K finds the little poem her teachers gave her...and promptly starts bawling. She starts asking if her school will still be there or if it will be crushed now that she won't be there. (I thought we'd hit the object permanence milestone back in the first year, but, these things happen I suppose.) She started crying and couldn't articulate just what made her sad, but from what I got from her...she realized she's growing up. She asked if her voice will always be the same. I ended up snuggling her for a bit to calm her down. This led to her asking questions about babies and what they do in utero.
"You sleep, mostly," I said.
"I don't remember seeing anything."
"Your eyes weren't ready to see yet. They didn't work."
Her eyes got really big and with the biggest, most disgusted voice she could muster she wailed, "You mean I didn't have eyes or a nose or a face? I just had a mouth like a WORM!??!"
To calm her down, I got out the baby box and book...the collections of ultrasound pictures and the little hats or booties she can't wear anymore but that we couldn't part with. For an hour, we looked over these little treasures from her past and it calmed her down enough that she could sleep. I slept fitfully until Sean got home and then everyone rested up for the next day.
I think the best word to describe Friday would be "chaos". The car went back and forth all over the place to make sure people were where they needed to be when they needed to be there. I got K to school and zoomed up to the gaming area to begin my shift. I ran Dixit for a while, helped other people set up stuff and then took off to pick up K from school. Once I got back, Sean was finishing up with one of his games. We took K down to the exhibition hall again (apparently just missing a run in with Leonard Nimoy). Bruce Boxleitner was doing a signing and we stood near the end of his line and I said, "Hey, kiddo, know who that is? That's Captain Sheridan."
"Really?" (Yes, my 5 year old likes Babylon 5.)
"Yup. He's also the actor who played Tron."
We went around and looked at the gorgeous Lego creations, some of the costumes, but by Friday evening, the crowds were starting to show up and my people-induced-claustrophobia kicked into gear. I hugged my kiddo (as she was about to go to her Grandma's house) and I flew off to the zombie creators panel with the above mentioned Ms. Priest, Dean Lorey, Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Yvonne Navarro. We talked about the different flavors of zombie (shufflers, runners, sentients) and the merits of each. Yvonne was hilarious. "I like them all," she said with a blissful smile. "But, if I'm being chased, I prefer the shamblers."
After the panel, I had to run back to the Hyatt for, you guessed it, gaming. I ran Guillotine, Do You Worship Cthulhu (that was a lot of fun!) and then jumped into the all night Apples To Apples game while Sean ran his games a few tables over. Sean and I got home at 3am... I was so wired, I stayed up an extra hour playing video games.
I didn't have an obligation until 2pm. So, the smart person would have asked a friend for crash space in one of the hotel rooms upstairs and spent the day sleeping so as to get ready for the all night shift I had to run. Right? Well, that was my plan...then, my husband introduced me to a game called Thunderstone. I LOVE this game now. So, I sat in on that for a while... ran some Fluxx... played some Hex Hex with Inge, took a couple of hours to walk about then I took up an extra shift running Dixit. I joined a qualifier for the Thunderstone tournament (didn't make it, dammit. Lost by one point!) By this point it was going on 9:30pm and I had 2 hours if I wanted any sleep before 4:30pm the next day...I also didn't feel so hot. So, I did what I should've done hours before: I went up to a friend's room to grab a nap. (Saw Wil Wheaton milling about the gaming area at that point, too.)
But a nap didn't happen. Puking happened. I don't know if it was something I ate or my body rejecting the caffeine or just a random bug from being amongst thousands of people, but mightily did I hurl. About 11:30, I went back downstairs, feeling a bit better, but still shaky, and spent a few hours playing Apples to Apples. The nausea kicked back in, a few stars aligned and the Con decided to shut down gaming early...so i went home. The next morning, my stomach said I wouldn't be running anything and I passed off my shifts. I missed the last day.
I learned a lot of how to improve for next year. For example, getting a room on site. Step two: at least one costume and three: no puking.
OH! The big one though... getting contact info for people I game with. There were so many people that I found to be fun and awesome and I may not see them ever again, let alone next year. To the crew I played "Do You Worship Cthulhu" with... you were very kind to someone who didn't know the game and that might be the most fun I've had outside of a game of Apples to Apples. Mary & Shawn, congrats and good luck. Stay safe. Michael-who-is-Shawn's-Dad, take care of those two. Michael-who-beat-me-at-Thunderstone ... it. is. on.
I've mostly recovered. The house is getting back in order and a certain 5 year old is on summer vacation.
...and I'm going through Con withdrawal. While you can occasionally spot someone walking around the house scantily clad, there just aren't Storm Troopers here. And...believe it or not...I miss gaming. Anyone up for a round of Dominion or Zombie Dice?