Here I am, back from Dreamation. This was the least prepared I've ever been for a con, I think, and definitely not something I would have attempted if it were any further away or any less friendly and awesome than I know Double Exposure events to be. In all the lead-up to the con, I was never sure if I would even be able to make it out there (or when), so I didn't get a room, and (almost) didn't schedule anything in advance. The exception there was that I did secure a seat in Phil's Hydro Hacker Operatives playtest, because, geez, why wouldn't I. I mean, let's not mess around, Senda and Phil coming to the con was one of the big reasons I really wanted to make it out there. I didn't go at all on Friday, but I went up both Saturday and Sunday and came back home in between. This served as a decent experiment on how it would go if I wanted to try to attend future Double Exposure cons without getting a room. I'm so-so on it. If I ever get back to the point where I can comfortably lose a little sleep and still con hard, then maybe I'll consider that as a thing to do in the future. An alternative, also, is that if I start rooming with people then it might bring the cost down to about on par. But anyway. that's just logistics. Details.
My intention is to do Dodecahedroid writeups of the con proper, so I'll save myself all that for now. In this here blog, I want to talk more about the internal and social stuff and also aftermath and con drop. Today was my traditional post-con recovery day. I mean, I ran a few errands, but on the whole I took it pretty easy and just let things settle a bit. I was a lot more "social" at this con, by which I mean I didn't necessarily spend more time with people, but the time was weighted more non-game than usual. Met up with Phil and Senda, of course. Caught up with Meg at the end, which was awesome. Not only did I get to meet up with Laura and Dev, but luckily I got to sit in on a game of Companions' Tale, so that was awesome! I met a few people for the first time: Brennan Taylor, which was funny because I met him totally randomly because he wanted a panda hat and I happened to be the one he asked about it and I was standing next to Senda, who was handing them out. :) Er...that's not why it was funny. It was funny because I was able to tell him that I was just recently in his neck of the woods at Arcana and I had just picked up a game of his (Mortal Coil). Also I got some face time with Joshua A. C. Newman, which was pretty great because I got to name-drop Stephan on him. ;) I picked up some copies of The Bloody-handed Name of Bronze, which I was happy about because I missed it at Metatopia. Oh, also Hannah Shaffer and Evan Rowland! That was pretty great, too. Hannah is every bit as happy and enthusiastic as she is on podcasts, and it was pretty sweet to finally meet face-to-face. And Evan's art is, of course, amazing. I haven't yet cracked my copy of Noirlandia yet from the Kickstarter, but Phil and Senda got to play this weekend and they said it was awesome, so woo!
Erm...I'm sure there was more. But I kinda got sidetracked; I was going to talk about social stuff. So, yeah, I actually ran into Phil, Senda, and Meg all at the same time, and it was a bit before the H2O slot was scheduled, so I hung out with them and "helped" them set up (read: stood around while Phil did stuff). Oh! Reminds me...Ro from Gamers Plane...that was another one I met for the first time. I'm reminded because he also came by and hung out before the H2O slot. That game was fun. Jason Pitre was also in the slot, which was cool. Oh, also! The couple that I first met, like...two Metatopias ago, I think, at one of Shane Harsch's playtests. Wild. Also someone else that I didn't know, so it was a pretty full table. Fun game, good playtest. Jason's a pretty smart dude, and it's clear he loves to talk design. Phil, Senda, Jason, and I went out for empanadas afterward, and then I left them to their respective night games, and I headed back home. That was Saturday.
Sunday I resolved to make it in time for the morning slot and pick up what I could find with space. I had signed up as an alternate for Companion's Tale, but all the original sign-ups showed, so I went looking for something else. I could have sat in on a 5E game, it turned out, but what ended up happening was that three more alternates showed up for CT, so that was enough to play a second game! Dev ran the "overflow" game. That was also very fun! No familiar faces, but I met a couple people that are kind of friends of friends but that I didn't know previously. There weren't a whole lot of Sunday afternoon slots, but the convention was still technically going. What ended up happening is that Phil and Senda recruited Meg and me and we did a playtest/playstorming for Senda's magical girls Lasers and Feelings hack that she's working on. What great fun that was! Phil and I chuckled over being old and how as young proto-grognards, we never could have anticipated growing up and playing magical girls. ;) We parted ways after the game, and I gave Meg a lift back to Brooklyn. Which was also nice because I got to say hi to Dan. :) Meg and I had a pretty nice chat on the way home. Nothing in particular; just chat. But it was like...people chat, not congoer chat, so it was also social time.
That was by way of setup, I think. So from last night after I got home and earlier today, I started having this weird, like...after-the-fact social anxiety. I was suddenly worried that I had botched some things over the weekend. There were basically two concerns.
One, I thought that I had been "weird fanboy" to Phil and Senda. This stemmed from the realization afterward that I consider them pretty good friends because we've interacted so much over the...wow, years...but I spend way more time hearing them and seeing them than they do me. It's that weird podcast intimacy thing. I was a lot more guarded about that kind of thing with James and Kat, but by our second con together, I had stopped worrying about it completely. Kat, especially, put me at ease about that pretty effectively. Anyway, the point was that I had felt I might have been tagging along annoyingly.
Two, I thought that I might have been "scary guy" to Meg. This was mostly about the ride home. She was originally going to take the train back, and I just offered the ride because...that's what I do. I just assumed it to be a better choice, which is why I offered. I worried afterward that maybe I had rushed her into it. I don't know, maybe she wanted to take the train, you know? Like for decompression time after the con. She had been there twice as long as I had, run a bunch of LARPs, did like three or four interviews...I mean shit, if I had had that kind of schedule I would be looking forward to some alone time. Also, though, and this is the dumb part, halfway back, I suddenly doubted that I was taking the correct route home, so I had to pull off the highway to muck with the GPS (it's a "safety" feature that I can't muck with it while the car's moving). It wasn't until the next day that I realized I might have just fast-talked Meg into getting into the car and then halfway through, unexpectedly exited the highway in favor of a deserted New Jersey industrial park. Jesus! And, like, it's not like we're strangers or anything, but still. That could have easily been uncomfortable for her, and I didn't even give it a thought at the time.
Okay, so...thing one. I've since talked to all parties involved, and everything's fine. I was aware on some level that I was being a little over-anxious about this stuff, but it never hurts to get that reassurance that I do not, in fact, appear to people like the monster I sometimes think I appear as. ;)
Thing two, I really want this lesson to sink in, but I've been thinking a lot about the thing with Meg and the industrial park. Even if I didn't actually make her feel threatened, because she knows me well enough, I could have, and it's not the situation itself that was bad, per se, it's that I didn't even think about it. That's just thoughtless, and that's not what I want to be about. So that's a lesson I want to take away from this for sure.
Thing three, what's with all the second-guessing? As I was experiencing these feelings, like I said before, I was aware on some level that I was being a little over-anxious about this. That said, though, it was well enough within that grey area that I wasn't sure enough that I was overreacting, and I needed to reach out to the people involved to see. That's not like me, I don't think, but that's where I was at this morning. I expressed, in a semi-joking way, some of these feelings (in a general sense) on Twitter, and I was surprised to learn a couple things. One, that it was more common for people to feel this way than I thought. (Somebody even had a term for it: "social interaction hangover.") Two, I learned that this is also something that people associate with con drop.
Now, to me, con drop had always been about depression. The after-con "blues," if you will. I had never really thought about it in terms of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, which I would never have thought of as an aftermath thing, just a beforehand thing. So that's just an interesting new context for me to put this in. And it's something I should maybe be aware of to look out for in future con drop situations. Not just sadness, but some kind of...doubts, I guess? Hmm...now that I'm laying it all out, an argument could definitely made for this to be more like a self-esteem or self-doubt problem, which could just as easily be a depression thing as an anxiety thing. Either way, though, the knowledge that other people feel this way and also associate it with con drop means that I have a nice, normalizing context for this in the future. Just another log to add to that fire, I think. Which, in closing, is why I came back to journaling in the first place, isn't it. :)
If I do further con writeups, I'll probably link to them from here. But knowing myself, if I don't get to them tomorrow, they're probably not going to happen at all, so...we'll see what we can do about that. In the meantime, I'm on chauffeur duty tomorrow, so I should hit the sack soon. Until next time.
[EDIT: I totally meant to mention this and forgot, but I am also pretty relaxed about all this because I have therapy tomorrow, too, so...there's that.]