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Arisia 2010

Yay, my first Arisia with a boyfriend in tow! 🙂

So, the Darling Boyfriend and I went to Arisia this past weekend, and had sort of a super-amazing time. This was my third Arisia, and his second. We both had professional concerns that pulled us away from the convention at various points on Saturday, but we were at the con for most of it.

We stayed in a lovely room at the Hyatt, with a balcony and an amazing view of Boston and the Charles River. I could have spent the whole weekend in the room looking at the picturesque scene. It was that lovely. The Hyatt is built sort of like a two-dimensional zigguart, and created this sort of “looking out from the peak of a mountain” effect that was just stunning. Seriously, just the room and the view would have made me incredibly happy.

But then there was the actual ~stuff~ to do…

We got there Friday, and it took a while to check-in, but I’ve dealt with bigger hassles before. We had dinner with a couple guys we know from a local game store, and it was really nice getting to chat with them and get to know them better. We bumped into some other friends and hung out and chatted and just got settled on Friday night. We also went up to the top floor to see the art show, which is always one of my favorite parts of the whole convention. We didn’t make it to any of the panels Friday night, but we had plenty of fun and good times.

On Saturday morning the Darling Boyfriend had to get up early and go to work for a few hours, so I was on my own. I went to a really great lecture on music called “Fantastic Film Music Before Star Wars.” It was good, but it was definitely more of a lecture than a panel (it was given by one person, and was very much a presentation). I heard a lot of great music that I had been unfamiliar with, and it was really interesting. It sort of reminded me of being back in school. 😉 After that I had lunch with a couple friends, whom I don’t see enough. After lunch I went to a panel called “1980’s – The Silver Age of SF Movies?” It was a fun panel, until my friend (donned in an awesome custom-made corset – ya gotta love sci/fi cons) pointed out that 1980 was ~30~ years ago. Ouch.

After being made to feel very old I went and tried to donate blood. I got cleared and found that even my iron levels were good (I’m sometimes anemic). I was excited; I’ve never donated blood before. But the nurse stuck me and got a vein but my body just wasn’t giving up any blood. She had to stop it, so I ended up with a big bruise for nothing. I had a bruise on my other arm from a blood test that I had done a couple days before so she couldn’t even try the other arm. *sigh* I felt like a loser. The Darling Boyfriend was back by this time and tried to console me, but I was really bummed. Oh well; I guess I’m just not meant to give blood. 😦

After that we went to a panel called “Queer SF&F,” which was okay, but sort of all over the map. Then I scaled “Mount Arisia,” which means I climbed 15 flights of stairs (remember I said it looks sort of like a mountain, well so do the stairs).

And then I was off to Northampton to play a gig with Leslie-Anne Rios. It was my first time playing with her with an actual drum set; the other time we played together I was playing on my djembe. We played in The Academy of Music, which is a beautiful old theater. I played okay, I’m still sort of learning the songs, but it was a fun gig.

I dashed back to Arisia in time for the reading of The Eye of Argon, which is a really cheesy fantasy story. The game is that each person reads aloud as far as they can, with typos and poor word choice and all – with no laughing. I actually tried reading this year, and didn’t do too badly, either.

On Sunday morning we met a friend for the breakfast buffet, which is awesome.

After breakfast I wasn’t feeling all that well, so I went up to the room and laid down.

The Darling Boyfriend and I had a little tiff, but I still managed to make it down to the Munchkin Brawl, which is a Munchkin game with all the different flavors of Munchkin crammed into one blended game. We played for four hours and still no one got to level 20 (we were playing with “Epic” rules), so the Darling Boyfriend was declared the winner. He was level 12 with a +25 combat bonus. I must point out that even though I was level nine, my combat bonus was +31-+37, so it could be argued that I was on par with, if not ahead of, the Darling Boyfriend. It’s really hard to accurately gauge who is in the lead at any point in a Munchkin game, and that makes games that end early due to time sort of annoying. Anyway, the game was really good for my mood, as it was a lot of fun and I just felt really great by the end of the game.

After Munchkin we went up to our room and had a little alone time, which was really nice, because even though we were at the con together, we had been doing a lot of stuff on our own.

I went to the panel on “Coming Out,” which I had also gone to last year. I’m in a very different place in my life this year, and this panel was different for me. I don’t have the same relationship with my medical history or my body that I did a year ago. I’ve made lots of peace with my past at this point, and so I noticed how much of a “reclaiming of space” and “ownership of self” coming out can be for people. It’s interesting to see that more from the observational side. I even caused a little bit of trouble. There had been a running gag about people needing to come out as Republicans (which, in a hippy-liberal-geeky space like Arisia is something that people are just assumed to ~not~ be). Any time it was mentioned that someone might need to come out as Republican, everyone laughed on cue. I felt a need to point out that in this liberal and progressive and individual-empowering group we might be pushing some of our friends into a closet of their own. It was actually a point well met by the panelists, which made me feel good.

We went and had dinner at the buffet and then went to a panel called “Scening and Catharsis” which was fascinating, and then we topped off the night by watching some Japanese Hentai (anime porn).

On Monday morning, squeezing the last bit of good out of Arisia that I could, I went to a panel called “Stereotype and Religion in Literature,” which I’m pretty sure I went to last year, and was just as fascinating, especially considering that I’m much more comfortable with my Christianity at this point. Then the Darling Boyfriend and I went to “The Casting Couch,” which is a discussion about recasting different roles with different actors (so, your “perfect” Star Wars cast, and so on).

And then we were done.

It was another fantastic Arisia. I absolutely had an amazing time. And I can’t wait till next year!

Sarah Clemens’ art at Arisia 2010

Every year that I’ve gone to Arisia I’ve bought some piece of art from the art show. The art show is one of my favorite parts of Arisia (I think this was the first year that I only made it up to the art show once, but I walked through all of the artists’ work several times. The Artist Guest of Honor this year was Sarah Clemens, and for the first time I bought a piece by the Artist Guest of Honor. I really liked her work. It was fantastical and whimsical and sweet and charming (and some of it was mildly erotic as well, but even that had a sweetness to it that was very endearing). I was sorry that I never got to one of her talks, but the weekend was a little hectic for me.

She was a series of works with two characters, a cat and a dragon, named Magnus and Loki. They were really cute, and it was from this series that I found a piece that just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It was actually the first piece in the whole show, right as you walked into the first exhibit. I saw it, fell in love with it, and walked around the rest of the show about four times before actually going and buying it. I knew right from when I first saw it, but I wanted to make sure. It is ~so~ cute! It’s called “Pileup,” and here’s a link to her site where you can buy prints. And here’s the pic:

I think I’m going to make buying a piece by the Artist Guest of Honor at Arisia an official tradition. It’s sort of a neat way to fill my house with art, support artists, and remember each year’s Arisia.

Yay art!

Gender Assumptions and Kids

I was at Arisia this past weekend with the Darling Boyfriend. It’s a sci/fi convention, with geeks and nerds and brains all over the place. I’ll blog about the con in a separate post, but something struck me that I wanted to mention in its own post.

There are lots of kids at Arisia (geeks procreate too). Because the Darling Boyfriend has gotten me playing Munchkin, I actually spent some time in the game room this year. There were lots of kids in the game room. A couple kids played in the Munchkin game that I played. And lots of these kids looked either androgynous or completely like the “other” gender. There were a couple little boys that I would have sworn were cute little girls. In fact, without their name-tags I totally would have misgendered them. And I watched other people misgender them several times.

The obvious “answer” is for parents to insist that their children conform to our societal stereotypes of how each gender is supposed to look.

Of course, I don’t think much of that “answer.” (That’s why “answer” is in scare-quotes.)

You could tell that these kids were used to having people make the wrong assumptions about who they are, and they generally handled the mistakes with aplomb. And most of the folks who misgendered these kids instantly turned into teaching and caring and empathic moments (one man even told a little boy about how he had a high voice when he was younger and was often mistake for a girl and how he hated it). It was an interesting thing to watch, all these kids breaking norms and being strong enough to just gently correct people when they made mistakes.

And I wondered if any of these kids were doing more than just breaking societal gender norms. I wondered if any of these kids were expressing something that didn’t have words for yet. I wondered how I could reach out to any of these kids and find answers to those questions. And I realized that I couldn’t. But I did take to these kids instantly. And I know all I can do is be me and live like me and maybe present a positive role-model for any of those kids that are more than just challenging gender-norms, but have deeper issues with their gender. I suffered due to a lack of visible people like me when I was younger, and I’d really like to be available as a role model for kids like I was.

Anyway, the punch-line is…

I leaned over to the Darling Boyfriend at one point and told him that I’m never going to make an assumption about a kid’s gender ever again. I know I will, but this weekend was a powerful reminder for me that people come in all shapes and sizes. We ~glance~ at each other and instantly start to make assumptions. It’s important to slow down and take individuals as just that – individuals.

Oh, and playing games with all those geeky kids just tweaked my “I want a baby” button like mad. Those kids were so frickin’ cute. I want one.

Off to Arisia ’10

The Darling Boyfriend and I are off to Arisia for the weekend, and I’m pretty excited. This will be my third year and his second, and it should be all sorts of goofy, amazing, geeky, lovely fun.

Yay.

Not much of a post, but I just felt like saying: YAY!

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