EarperConUK: A Reflection - From Suggestion to Actualization
It's been seven days since I landed back on American soil and six days since I walked back into my quiet house. I wanted to sit down and write this the second that I landed, but I was due back at work later that morning, so my #1 priority was getting some sorely needed sleep. I crashed hard and without my dog and I kicking the crap out of each other all night long (she was still at Doggy Daycare - shout out to Buffalo Barks for handling The Whitemare while I was gone), I slept like the dead.
I started writing about the weekend almost as soon as I got on the plane at Heathrow. I'd really wanted to put pen to paper once I'd found a seat at the airport, but there was just so much chaos in that place that to think about anything more than trying to find a space in my head that wasn't fussy was a chore. Though, I did find gratitude for the (relatively) tiny BNIA. I also found that I could drop the words, "excuse me" from my usage, as nobody else seemed to be using them.
I don't generally go back and read the stuff I've written, so I don't know how much of what I'd written on the plane will make it in here, but it did feel good to get some thoughts down on paper. However, I don't know how much of it really says anything of consequence. Seated next to me was an nervous flyer who also happened to be a trump supporter. So, in between checking to make sure that my water bottle with the "Need to Impeach" sticker on it was tucked out of sight and checking my temper every time she said, "I think he's doing a pretty good job," my thoughts might have been a bit muddled.
Since then I've wanted to get thoughts down, but - as many of you know, I teach high school - and finding a series of minutes long enough to form whole sentences is a bit difficult. It seemed that the only time I was able to really THINK was at 5:30 in the morning when I was out walking The Whitemare...and even then, making sure I wasn't going to get murdered was always in the front of my brain. When it's light out and we're walking, I usually have headphones in my ears and sunglasses on, enthusiastically working to not engage with any other walkers. But in the dark, walking along the river path, I am on high alert looking around for potential serial killers, defiantly looking people in the eye trying to silently communicate the idea that I am not someone they want to attempt to fuck with. But then there's the nearly wetting my pants every time something splashes around in the water. Several times this week, I've been undone by the waddling little behind of a skunk off on the side of the path, imaging in my head the phone call to work trying to explain how I'd been sprayed by a skunk and therefore coulnd't make into work that day. I think I hate nature.
In any regard, I'd be strolling along and an errant memory would pop into my head and I'd take a little jaunt down memory lane and think to myself, "I need to get that on paper before I forget it." Invariably, by the time paper was in front of me, I'd have no idea what it was that I'd thought about. Yeah, being me can be a bit of a chore sometimes. And, yeah, I still write things down on paper. I like the feeling of a heavy pen in my hand and seeing the words flow from its tip. And I seem to be sort of an aberration in that way...at least judging by the reactions that I get from people. People who walk in my house are all, invariably, struck by several things: first by the number of film cameras that I have tucked into every inch of space, second by how almost everything I own is vintage and third by the insane amount of papers, notebooks and writing instruments have lying about everywhere. It's a problem; I know this. I'd like to say that I'm working on addressing it, but that would be a total lie.
But I digress.
Often and enthusiastically, it would seem.
OK...let me get to this......
First, in order to make some sense of why I'm writing this, I need to let you in on a little secret: I've never really considered myself an "Earper". Sure, I watched the show, I've had the usual fan crush on a character or two, I've followed and still do follow some Earpers on Twitter, but, all that aside, I didn't consider myself an Earper. Hell, I could barely make sense of what made anyone an Earper. I didn't (and still don't really) own any merch with the exception of a couple water bottle stickers and a single T-shirt), I can't tell you what happened in what episode, couldn't quote a single line (and often didn't get the references when other people did), and didn't really give much of a crap where Purgatory was IRL.
So, when Emily (our marketing/social media maven) first presented the idea of my flying out to London for EarperCon, I nearly burst out laughing. Not only did I not consider myself Earpy enough to attend a con, I'm also the sort of person who looks at things in the way Chevy Chase looked at the Grand Canyon in the original Vacation movie. Go look it up if you don't get the reference; it'll help explain what I'm talking about. I'd been to a bunch of cons (comic, star trek and the like) in my life, but always as a Plus One. I never proposed the idea, but went along with others who needed someone to go with. Needless to say, I never got asked twice by the same person, as I was always over it and ready to go home much more quickly than they were. My apologies to Joe, Morgan, Mikey, Nicole and Debbie...and whomever else I'm forgetting.
Emily said that tickets were sold out, but we could get on the waiting list and see if tickets came up. And, once I was over the initial, "you've got to be effin' kidding me" thoughts and pondered it for a minute, I thought, "Well, why the fuck not?" See, I've never been the kind of person to fly by the seat of my pants - no matter how much I'd have people believe I do - and envied the hell out of people who could. So while I was giving Emily all the reasons that it was a ridiculous idea, my brain was already putting things in columns and filing pieces of information into their own little brain drawers (I often compare what goes on in my brain to the office space in the Beetlejuice afterlife) and figuring things out and finding ways to keep itself from exploding. I knew I couldn't tell her that I was all in just about the second she suggested it. That way, if something went sideways, I'd be able to flee without looking like a wuss. One of the big factors in taking the initial step of this dance was that tickets were sold out and all I really had to do was submit my name to a waiting list. I was totally ok with the gesture, as if things did get a little difficult, I could always fall back on the "Aw damn. They don't have a ticket for me. Shoot." That way, I'd be able to preserve the idea that was still tough enough to act on a whim but that the universe decided that it was not to be and not, "I shot my mouth off and when push came to shove couldn't put my money where my mouth was"
But, as "luck" would have it, the Con got back to me almost immediately and said that they did, in fact, have a ticket available. I was being painted into a corner of my own making but sometimes that's exactly what I need to get off my ass and act. I started to get a little nervous thinking that I wasn't going to find a way out of this if I needed to. My one saving grace was that I did still have the "Well, if you haven't got a ticket, why would I go to this alone" excuse in my back pocket. But then Emily, who'd also put in a waiting list request, got her email saying that there was a ticket available for her as well and my back pocket suddenly developed a hole through which that "out" fell.
OK...fast forward from early June to mid July. I had a ticket to the Con; I was off work for summer "layoff" (as I'm supposed to call it since our union doesn't want people thinking that it's a paid vacation) and I was home working almost full time - in one way or another - on EDE. It was getting to be time to book my flight and my accommodations and I was plumb out of excuses as to why I was still putting it off. So, I booked my flight and accommodations. That's all there is to it. And that's kinda how I typically operate. I hem and haw, ponder and figure, pro and con, make my lists and file my notes for much longer than it probably reasonable and then one day I just jump, based on not a single note that I'd made but on gut feeling. And, to be honest, I have no idea what all the pondering is about, since I usually get it stuck in my head - one way or anything - that I'm going to act. But, since this isn't the place for a counseling session, I'm going to leave that right there with no further comment.
And there I was. Ticket to the con, flight booked and room accommodations made...and about two months worth of days stretched out ahead of me.
I'd be lying if I said that there weren't a bunch of times that I idly wondered how badly it would hurt to throw away around $1,300 and just stay home. I'm don't even like going to the grocery store by myself and now I was thinking that I'd just hop on a plane and fly more than 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean alone? What the ever lovin' fuck?
I can't say that the days either flew or dragged by...they were days and they did just what days do. They passed by, in 24 hour chunks, irrespective of what I was doing. And what I was doing was a lot of "holy shit"ing and list making, working on EDE and planning for the upcoming school year. When I talked about it to other people - friends, family, coworkers and students alike - the most common reaction was, "London? For HOW many days?" And a little sheepishly I'd reply, "Yeah. Like....two and a half," and wait for the questions about my sanity. Ha. Little did they know that I'd already done enough questioning on my own and was fully prepared to defend my decisions. But, the cool thing (at least to me) was that every time I defended my decision, the more sure of myself and what I was doing I became. And the more sure of myself I became, the more my answers took on a "Yeah, duh" attitude. And I began believing that this IS who I am.
So, by the time September 12th rolled around, I was fuckin' ready to go.
(stay tuned for EarperConUK: A Reflection - Let's Do This)