Looking Back: DragonCon 2008
I've attended DragonCon for 11 years. Back in 2008, I wrote about my experience, both during and after the convention. Part 1 was written while at the Con, Part 2 was written after, and Part 3 are my current thoughts on what I wrote and how I view everything through the lens of hindsight.
Part 1 - At DragonCon (2008)
So far this year, DragonCon has had a very different vibe. I don’t know if it is because they added another hotel, or if it is that it is losing its appeal…or if I am all tweaked out from the stress of moving, splitting with my roommate, ignoring my job, half ass preparing these costumes, reestablishing a friendship with my best friend, working on my jogging, continuing the non-smoking, or what…
It’s probably all these things AND there is much more crowd control.
Also, I think we (me and my costuming friends) are too in love with ourselves. We get dressed up and every year find ourselves disappointed that more people are not asking to take pictures with us. I am trying to wrap my head around it, I mean, come on, how fucking narcissistic is that?
Seriously, we need to get over ourselves.
I do come for the costumes though. I love seeing them; I love making them; I just love the costuming. If I do this next year, and I mean IF, I will do it completely differently. I will continue to work out up to and including the days of the con. I will not be in face paint for more than eight hours. I will have better food choices. I will relax more, go swimming, actually just kick back and enjoy myself. I pay way too much money to sit here and stress out about this and be uncomfortable and feel like I’m not having fun. And I am having fun, just…I need it less stressful.
I question my attendance. I really do need to take next year off and see how I feel about it. It might be irrelevant. So yeah, I’m revisiting my desire to do this in the future. It doesn’t feel like it once did.
Nothing feels like it once did.
But change is good, right?
Part 2 - After DragonCon (2008)
I must preface this by saying that I have a lot of shit going on in my life…but isn’t that always? If you are living life, experiencing the world and the people in it, aren’t you always going to have a lot going on? That’s how it seems sometimes. That said, I went into this DragonCon barely prepared and feeling overextended. So much so that I did that thing where I just ignored a bunch of shit, did the bare minimum I needed to get by and made that good enough.
It sucked. I’m actually sad at how much shit I let go. I mean I left some big loose ends, all of which will probably bite me in the ass by Monday, i.e. tomorrow.
I am mentally and physically exhausted. So much so that I am thinking that I will take a year off from DragonCon next year. The idea of not doing this is such a restful thought for me that I keep telling it to myself every few minutes so that I can keep going. It’s all I got right now.
Life isn’t bad, it just gets kinda clusterfuckish.
Yesterday I spent 16+ hours in costume. That is some SERIOUS shit. I was wearing sneakers and my feet still hurt. My knees are starting to bother me. I haven’t been exercising like I should and that shit is fucking with me. I been eating weird and my body is letting me know in no uncertain terms, not to mention I’m a woman and once a month, you know. I am having trouble sleeping because I hate sleeping in unfamiliar places and did I mention I just moved last week, so I don’t even like sleeping in my apartment yet?
So this weekend DragonCon was spread out over 4 hotels and the vibe was totally different. It didn’t take over the Sheraton like it does the 3 normal hotels (Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt). In fact, there was a game in town this weekend, as well as some family reunions so between the aging frat boys and the southern Black people and their children, the gawk factor was high. And uncomfortable. I was blue. Real blue. With gold eyes and a tail and while I would forget sometimes, I was forcibly reminded again and again and not quite in an admirable way.
I’m being negative.
My costume stopped traffic! Literally. As did (1st friend name redacted just cuz) as female Colossus. She painted herself silver and looked FUCKING AWESOME! Her body paint was fantastic. She has so much silver left, we might use it again in the future.
I almost ran out of blue paint. We painted (2nd friend name redacted just cuz) to be Mystique but you can’t get the shit wet at all…not with sweat. Not with water, but especially not with sweat. As soon as you sweat, it’s on and poppin. Runs down your face and the whole nine. We took part in the DragonCon parade…10am in the hot but not quite hot-hot Atlanta sun.
That was rough.
The parade was interesting. (2nd friend name redacted just cuz)‘s boots were too small and had him crying by the time we left the hotel. We told him to go back, but he visibly sucked it up the whole mile walk.
Also, frat boys raise my enmity.
Part 3 – 7.5 years later (2016)
It speaks for itself. I was physically and mentally exhausted. At the time, my father was sick and not doing well. He passed 9 months later. I’d also moved into another apartment and the roommate I had at the time had lied about having a place to go. When I checked on the apartment after DragonCon, the day before we had to turn in the keys, he was still there, unpacked, with no place to go. We had to fit as much as we could in 2 SUVs and drop him off at a relative’s place. Then we went back to throw out the rest of his stuff and clean the apartment.
And then I went to work the next day.
So DragonCon was a good time, but in the midst of all that other stuff, it was really hard to enjoy it. That said, costume-wise, I hit my stride. I didn’t know this at the time, but I hit my sweet spot with the amount of work I was willing to put into cosplay and my satisfaction with the result.
This was the year of my Hellboy and Nightcrawler costumes. It was the first time I’d really used facepaint. I LOVE facepaint. It’s such a low cost and easy way to elevate your costume. I say easy, but it’s actually a lot of prep to get it to look right. I’ve fucked it up more than I’ve done it well, but I still love it, even with the mess.
2008 was the year my cosplay family grew. We hung out with some other cosplayers who would turn out to be an integral part of my life in years to come. They are a part of my support network, even though it took me almost 3 DragonCons to learn they actually lived within a mile of me. They are much more than cosplay family, now.
2008 was the one and ONLY year I participated in the parade. We had to get up at 6am to begin getting dressed, only to learn why water-based body paint is problematic. I hugged a friend and got blue paint on his costume because, well, water-based paint becomes wet paint when you sweat. I was so ashamed. So, yeah, I don’t do the parade anymore.
And I didn’t take time off from DragonCon like I said I would. I went back in 2009, three months after Dad passed. I was in a very different headspace, and costuming definitely was a low priority. I laugh looking back because I barely stayed in costume. I only have FOUR costume pictures from 2009 – so few that struggled to find anything to post in the cosplay gallery. And I met my future spouse, making 2009 the worst and best year ever. It would be years before I’d really get my groove back.