blk: (Default)
This year at Arisia I prioritized dancing, costuming, and seeing the guest of honor, to great success.


Last year at Arisia I re-realized that dancing is awesome, so I decided to try to do a lot of that this year, even bringing along pharmaceutical assistance (in the form of dimenhydrinate) to help with the less good side effects that I mostly blame for why I've kept away from it for long. I made it to most of the swing dance, the fusion dance lesson, all three late night dances, and even did one contra song. I missed the waltz (sad!) because it overlapped a GOH panel, and most of the contra because spinning1 messes up my head.

Mostly it was all excellent2 and re-reminded me that dancing is hella fun and I want to do more of it. My follow skills for partner dances felt super rusty and sloppy, but I think there was some improvement just over the course of the weekend, and I'm positive with actual lessons I could do a whole lot more pretty quickly. The club dancing was good at energy burn and flow, and there's something nice about being in a roomful of other geeks that makes me a little less self-conscious about all the possible ways I can look stupid whilst flailing around the dance floor. Also having a hotel room available just a few floors away that I could floomp into when I started fading.

So now I'm looking around locally for dancing I can make time for. Primarily partner dancing, although getting out to a club every now and again would be fun too. I could do CMUBDC, but I wonder if I'll feel old there. Swing city looks to be still operating, and is convenient. I see a lot of conflicting information about various regular ballroom classes/dances, so that will take some more research. [profile] marmal8, I may be stalking you for events for a bit.

1 Yes, I know that it's possible to contra without swinging super fast, but it's really not possible to contra without swinging at all, because every dance has like 2 or 3 of them, plus other spins, AND the dances are usually around ~10 minutes long instead of 3-4 mins for regular partner dances AND contra really isn't much my style anyways. I really like having to be precise and exact and well-matched with a partner.

2 Except for a brief moment where I had a teeny little private meltdown in the bathroom from an internal struggle with really wanting to participate in the last contra of the night/weekend vs needing to sit out because head was a little spinny. But that passed and I went on to dance other things.


Cosplay is fun! I found out about Carrie Fisher's death on the way home from cabining with [profile] xuth, and a couple days later decided that I wanted to be her once again. Not the Princess Leia that I was last year, but the older, more mature, General Leia. The one who had lived through a rebellious teen, a rocky marriage, and had thrown herself back into her work, fighting for good. Best Leia.

Unfortunately, this left me less than two weeks to get my costume together. And I knew that there would be guaranteed several other Leias at the con because of current events, so mine had to be Right. I managed to find beige clothing that worked well, but no vests I was happy with, when Xuth suggested I make my own. A simple vest shouldn't be that hard, right? Of course not, and it shouldn't take long, assured Xuth, who is very capable and comfortable with power tools and knows his way around the sewing machine much better than I do. Well, after a great deal of trial and error sewing and ripping and sewing and ripping and maybe a tantrum or two, I finally managed to create a decent looking dark purple vest, with liner and pockets and a belt from plastic, aluminum tape and elastic, all about a day before leaving.

The costume turned out as something I was pretty happy with. I also figured out, after quite a few failed attempts, how to pile my hair on my head to effectively mimic her twists, at least from the front, which none of the other General Leias at the con (I saw at least three) had done. At one point, Xuth commented on how much hairstyle figures into my cosplay, and I was like, duh, have you met met?

I got a lot of compliments and had fun schmoozing with the various other Leias who were also there and the rest of the people who made it to the Star Wars photoshoot. I wore this one Friday and Saturday, but noticed that although there were General Leias and New Hope Leias and Endor Leias, there were no Hoth Leias, so I changed into that (costume from previous year) for Sunday.

My final costume was a simple Star Trek Uhura outfit, one copied from Into Darkness (new old) and thrown together for Halloween. Initially I'd acquired a cheap package costume, then found a much better quality real outfit on eBay. Then there were the boots. I thought that after running for years, outgrowing pants and socks, and having trouble fitting into anything "skinny" anymore, that my calves could finally qualify as being "normal-sized" calves. But noooooo, apparently 15" is still so wide they swim. I found a slightly smaller calved boot from Keen that works reasonable well, but argh. I guess I still have stupid skilly legs.

The fun of cosplay has motivated me to start learning sewing for real, and I took my first ever sewing class just before the con. We sewed a cute little pillowcase, which was fairly straightforward, but OMG, it turned out perfectly without any tears! Or any tearing out stiches over and over! Which further indicates that heeeey maybe I should try to learn these skills incrementally instead of in gigantic crash sessions. I'm looking forward to more lessons.


I finally figured out the last couple years that Arisia's taste in Writer GOHs is pretty good, and I should pay attention to them. 2015 had N.K. Jemisin, who I didn't sadly attend panels of but ended up loving her books later that year. 2016 had Scalzi, and while I don't love his books quite as thoroughly, I do like his writing a lot and enjoyed the panels he was on. And 2017 was [profile] ursulav who I haven't read much of yet, but I know she has a really lovely way with words.3 Her sessions were quite enjoyable. The panel which was basically "ursulav answers audience questions" was funny, and prompted me to go look up gems such as Hellhound Rescue, The Hidden Almanac, and her Alarming New Skill. So now I am motivated to read much more of her work, and possibly gift a certain set of niblings with some of her children's work.

3 If you haven't read anything by Ursula Vernon, I recommend a short fiction: Jackalope Wives to get a taste for her style of writing. Then consider that a lot of her work is in the form of graphic novels and retold fairy tales.

The only really negative part of the weekend is somewhere about 6 hours out of Boston I realized I hadn't packed up the two copies of the Halcyon Fairy Book that I'd purchased and gotten autographed while standing around trying not to fangirl too hard at the author, and Xuth didn't remember packing them either, and when he called the hotel, they didn't report having found them. I'm reeeeeeeally bummed about that. They were last seen in the hotel room on the desk, so I guess I just keep hoping that we get a call back soon. :(


The other big interesting thing about this year's con is that for the first time, I brought along the jboys. Justin was on winter break from RIT and David decided he wanted to tag along as well. So we put them up in The Boy's hotel room a few blocks away, and lo and behold, they managed to survive the weekend. I'm not sure either of them spent more than an hour outside the video game room, but hey, it's a thing, and they had fun.

I also got a chance to visit with some lovely local people, many of whom I basically see once a year around this time, although not nearly as many or with as much quality time as I wish I could have. I think that specific socializing needs to be more formally planned next year.

For the drive back, we went home by way of Rochester, because as it turns out, Boston to Rochester to Pittsburgh is only about 100 miles more than Boston to Pittsburgh is, and we could drop off Justin at his dorm. The final three of us finally got home Tuesday.

Whew. Excellent weekend. Let's do it again next year.
blk: (polychrome)
It turns out this was my 11th Arisia. Wow, time flies. I've enjoyed the costuming thing so much in the past that I did two this year.

"Now THAT's a chemical reaction!" (Honey Lemon - Big Hero 6)

Honey Lemon vs me
My first costume started off as a pair of cheap plastic, pink sunglasses that [ profile] xuth found by the side of the road last summer. They sat around the house for a few weeks, and then I had the utterly brilliant idea to pop out the lenses and use them as cycling-friendly eyepatches for a pirate bike ride. Then we saw Big Hero 6, and I decided to use the frames as a basis for Honey Lemon, because hey, I've got the glasses and the hair, that's like, 90% of the costume, right? Everything else was acquired by some careful eBay hunting, including some completely ridiculous shoes that were pretty much perfect for the costume although somewhat less than perfect for actual walking. Let's just say I didn't go very far or very fast, although I am getting surprisingly good at walking in them. I went for the lab coat instead of a mustard yellow sweater because man, it's hard to find a good looking mustard yellow sweater, particularly one that I'm willing to wear. Lab coats are much more useful.

I spent some time both days walking around and got lots of recognition from anybody who had seen the movie and lots of blank stares from everybody who hadn't. But the best part was on Saturday I found Tadashi! We jumped up and down enthusiastically together and he asked me in character about my research grant and it was awesome. Oh, and this random bad guy who also happened to be walking by. *grin* Sadly I don't have a great picture of the three of us. But it was a lot of fun.

"I am not a committee" (Princess Leia - Star Wars V)

Leia on Hoth vs me
My next costume ended up being kind of last minute. After seeing the new Star Wars, of course I wanted to do something from there, but I learned from past events that there would be a billion other Reys (and there were), so instead I went to the past. Again I chose the costume based on the hairstyle I could do most easily, then got the clothing from a thrift store and eBay. My sole bit of craftiness went into making the rank badge, from wood shapes that Xuth cut for me. I looked around a lot for the right boots, but didn't find anything close enough, so I just went ahead with my existing pair of snow boots.

Leia from IV, V, and VII
While walking around, I ran into three other Leias, and of course got pictures with them. Then Sunday evening was a rockin' Star Wars themed room party with music and tasty drinks and tons of people, and I got a ton of compliments before the tons of people made the party way too hot for even a thin costume fake snowsuit and I went and changed into less clothing. But I did get a picture with a Han and a Kylo Ren to complete the family shot (if a little temporally confused).

Got the family together

The rest of the con

The rest of my con involved seeing lots of people, dancing, getting tossed around, going to a few actual con events, flirting heavily, trying to find things I wanted to spend money on (and failing), getting costume ideas for next year, and having a lot of fun. Amusingly, I didn't see ANY supergirls this year. I guess I should have brought that costume back with me. I got enough sleep and have successfully avoided getting sick. I think next year I am going to prioritize the evening and late night dances because they were really a ton of fun and I want to be awake for them.

Now back to real life.
blk: (crystal ball)
Once more, into the con review.

After enjoying myself last year not braiding (and Arisia not having a Dealer's Row anymore), I again went into the weekend with primary goals of showing off a costume, socializing, and relaxing. I succeeded pretty well at all of them.


I didn't have any new costumes made, and I didn't want to reprise my Elsa costume (since I don't have the hair and I am definitely not going half-Elsa to a con this big), but I did have my Supergirl costume from last spring's half-marathon that I wanted to get more mileage1 out of. Well, apparently everybody was taking their cues from me without me realizing it, as the two most common costumes I saw the entire weekend were Elsa2 and Supergirl3. I lost count when I got to six each! And many of them were quite well done. I privately thought my SG costume was the mostest awesomest, but really all the ones I saw were quality. I made sure to get in a few photos at least.

Jim didn't bring a costume, per se, but he did bring his LED coat4 and stilts, as well as his lumberjack5 outfit, all of which were quite eye-catching. Much more eye-catching than any of my outfits, in fact. To the point where I started joking that I couldn't go anywhere with him, because everybody would stop him for pictures and questions while I (in my costume!) would be ignored6. Maybe next year I'll actually figure out some semi-matching costumes so I can be a little more included. :)

Hall costumes are a lot of fun, although I realized after the plethora of lookalikes that it is a bit challenging to find a costume that 1) is within my realm of crafty ability, 2) is common enough that it will be recognizeable to a lot of people including me, and 3) a ton of other people won't also be doing it at the same con. I'm rethinking some of my previous ideas. Or maybe not, because they'd still be fun to pull off.


While exploring my newfound costume geekery and getting recognized for it is fun, a very large part of my Arisia experience is seeing friends who I don't get to spend enough time with. In such a confined space, it's usually possible to find a lot of people I know just by wandering around. So I did a lot of wandering around as well as some planning ahead and had some very nice time with people. Never for as much as I'd like; a weekend just doesn't work for that. But a nice start.

The downside to trying to see everybody in a weekend is that I and people I want to spend time with often have different social needs. Quiet intimate social time, loud chatty social time, room parties, dances, hallway wanderings, etc. And seeing people all at once doesn't work. I almost managed to go to some hotel parties one evening, but a very brief but unsettling dizzy spell made me have a disappointingly quiet late night in instead. Sunday I even escaped the hotel briefly, then came back for room socializing.

I wonder if it would work to try throwing a hotel room party next year. Not really a party party, but a verysmall hangout space that's quiet and private where people we like can come by and be snuggly. Will ponder this.


Bereft of children and school schedules to work around, we were able to take a more leisurely drive in both directions, which meant we could drive mostly in day time when the roads were not awful, not get caught in traffic, not have either our arrival or our departure be rushed, and not have driving interfere with any sleeping. Definitely a win on all angles.

The hotel bed agrees with me really nicely, and I didn't have any silly business obligations that made me get out of bed any earlier than I wanted to, so I slept well. I went to a chainmail thingy where a small number of us artists basically walked around and schmoozed about 'mail stuff, and I got to show off some unique pieces. On a whim I went to the Buffy Once More With Feeling shadowcast showing and got the songs stuck in my head for the next couple weeks. I bought some awesomepants in the dealer's room, enjoyed art in the art show, ate properly, got a bunch of fun pictures taken of me, did a fancy braid or two, got enough hugs, and didn't get sick afterwards.

That was good, let's do it again.

1 ba-dum
2 I was Elsa before she was, er, cool.
3 That's if you don't count the number of people in total dressed as A Doctor
4 radioactive yeti
5 and he's O.K.
6 the best part was when I was "explaining" this phenomenon to a friend and Jim protested that it wasn't as extreme as I described, and JUST THEN some random person walked up and did EXACTLY what I was complaining about.
blk: (Default)
Hey Boston peeps: I want an excuse to visit you, and I also want to run in more fun races. Can you help me combine these things? Are there any races around town this summer that you are going to partake in and think I would enjoy? Or just races you recommend? I'm open to anything from a 5k to a half marathon.

Alternately (since a lot of people don't run), are there other interesting events happening you'd particularly like me to join you on?
blk: (polychrome)
Hey Bostonites!

Arisia is almost among us! The usual three from this house will be attending, driving up from Pittsburgh on Friday. Since we are spending all our time at the hotel, I am in search of somewhere that we can park our car for ~3 days that does not involve exorbitant fees, strict weekend-only hours we have to watch for, or high risk of getting caught in a snow emergency, and can be acquired from the hotel by one person relatively easily. Ideally, I think this would involve a private driveway of someone who lives in walking or biking distance from the T. Any suggestions?

Meanwhile, Arisia! I am NOT going to be doing my usual braiding business this year (due to boring reasons that involve a failure in my expectations regarding Arisia's levels of organization), so instead I will be doing a new and strange thing for me.... ATTENDING. I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself in a hotel for an entire weekend. Got any suggestions for that? I expect to have a costume; should I bother with the masquerade? I've never been to any daytime events... are any worthwhile? Any things or people you recommend I do or see or attend to? Are you going? Want to meet up?
blk: (spicy)
If I wait any longer to write up my yearly Arisia post, it'll never happen, so here's a trip report.

This year was very different in terms of trip planning, as I wasn't traveling there by myself, and didn't have to fly. [ profile] xuth and the Boy were along for the ride, and somehow we managed to pack the three of us, all of my business things, food/clothes/etc for the weekend, and two pairs of stilts into our tiny car. The weekend started off pretty badly, with a toothache for Xuth, a sore throat for me, and varying amounts of snow that we got to drive through on our way out east. We crashed outside of town late Thursday, then settled into the hotel on Friday.

Read more... )

I spent the next week getting over the rest of my Ick physically, and enjoying the fact that there was nothing I needed to do, which involved a whole lot of sitting on the couch. This week I'm starting to get back into life at a more normal pace, which is to say that I've got things to do and a desire to do them.

See y'all next year.
blk: (stilts)
We had such a good time at Oxidation Arts last weekend that we decided at the last minute to go to WildFire this weekend. I actually didn't do any spinning or fireplay, but there was plenty enough else going on to keep me busy.

dizzy with life )

Today we drive home, through annoyingly wetter but nicely cooler weather, but making good time so far. I'm pretty sure I'd do this again, although necessarily leaving out most if not all of the negative factors. I think this is a workable goal, so now I just need a few years to work on my juggling...
blk: (spicy)
Another Arisia come and gone, successful and fun! I delayed this post for a while because I was waiting on pictures to prove I was there accompany the writeup, and then had a couple days of recovering from post-con Ick. I'm still hoping for the existence of some better pics, but for now, these will have to do.

through a crystal haze (trip recap) )
blk: (no-el)
My vacation started early morning, three Sundays ago, right after a bunch of snow came through Pittsburgh. A tired and sick [ profile] severinpgh helped a tired and sick me escape to the airport, and onto a plane that miraculously left mostly on time, without mishap. I was offered a nice window seat... sort of, which I kept because it came with a row of three empty seats on an otherwise mostly full flight. Annoyingly, heavy congestion (+ decongestant!) + airplane altitudes = completely stuffed up head for the next full day. Fortunately, I didn't have much on my agenda except relaxing and recovering for the next few days.

relaxing in Tampa, theatre ninjas, and Myakka state park )

the trip up north, Boston, New Years, and back home again )

Back home, I slept soundly, back home in my own bed, with my wonderful kitty snuggling me all night long next to me, buried under blankets with me. I'm slowly catching up on various stuff and things, although running behind on other things, such as prepping for Arisia next week. Aiee!
blk: (braids)
Back from Boston! The weekend was full of awesome things for me. And I have pictures to prove it!

flights, kayaks, rocks, braids, bikes )

Now, life is spinning back up to high gear with kids and school and soccer and work and houseguests and braiding and running and tomatoes all needing attention, so I'm sure there'll be more posts coming soon...
blk: (spicy)
This was my fourth year working at Arisia; my third as a braider. I think I've got a good thing going.

Read more... )
blk: (icicles)
Vacation trip by the numbers.

Miles driven: 1575
States visited: 6
Prices paid for gas: 2.93 (lowest, in N. PA), and 3.31 (highest, in E. NY)
Large forests tromped through: 2
Homes visited: 10
Homes I accidentally left things of mine at: 2
Homes I forgot to leave things at: 1
Times I swore googlemaps directions were wrong (or at least unclear): 3
Times I cursed myself for not having a GPS with maps on me: too many (guess what the topic of a near future post will be)
Times I un-losted myself without help: about 10
Times I needed help getting unlost: 0 (aw, yeah!)
Braids done on other people: 11 (I think)
Settlers games played: 2
T rides: 4
Number of boats I got stuck behind on the highway: 1

shut up and drive )
blk: (climbing)
Running away to join the circus? Not gonna happen. Circus HURTS.

I joined [ profile] danceboy and [ profile] mzrowan in an expedition to their local aerial silks practice last night, hosted by [ profile] frobzwiththingz and [ profile] klingonlandlady, and attended by a couple other people I don't know, to figure out what all the awesomeness was all about.

Phil kindly showed me a bunch of beginner moves, like how to climb up the silks using muscular expenditure that is Completely Opposite what I do for rock climbing (I mostly failed), how to not get silk-burn on my hands and feet (I mostly succeeded), how not to fall on my face (total success), and how to hurt myself in new and interesting ways while hanging several feet above the (padded) ground, on both the silks and a trapeze bar. I got to curse my broken stomach muscles many times over for failing to let me do cool things, and cheerfully blamed the existence of my kids for everything I failed to do (whether reasonable for not), but did manage to do a couple nifty upside-down things, as demonstrated to the right (thanks to Daniel-with-my-camera).

Today, I am mildly abraded, with a tingly finger, and stiff and sore in places I keep discovering (Daniel says they are all the right places, at least), and am moving more slowly than usual. Great fun! Hope I can do it again sometime.
blk: (snowball)
The @WINTER_HOLIDAYS planning commenceth.

I'm planning to be in and around the Boston area again for my end-of-year vacation, and make use of various friends in order to do it. In order to attempt make my life and schedule a little easier, as well as those of all my friends and potential kind hosts, I'm planning to drive it. Since the [ profile] jboys will be nearby in CT as usual for xmas, I'm also planning to bring them up to see me for a couple days.

However, in order to make this happen, I'd need to get some help. I'm looking for:

  1. Nice people somewhere in the eastern PA/NJ/NY range who would be willing to lend me crash space (and a parking spot) overnight, since I think 10+ hours of driving in a day is out of the question for me, or at least highly undesirable. On the way up, this would be sometime between Dec 21st and 24th, and on the way back, either the 31st or 1st.

  2. Friends in the Bostonish area who are interested in putting up me or me+boys for a night or two. Kids are fine in sleeping bags (which I can provide, if needed).

  3. Friends in the Bostonish area who are interested in hanging out with me or me+boys, or can suggest some fun+cheap stuff to do around town. People with kids in the 6-9 year range for the second part would be great but not necessary.

  4. Notification of any parties/events/funstuff happening you think I'd want to be aware of. I currently (as of writing this post) have no known plans and an open schedule, but I'm sure that closer to the date I won't, so get your reservations in now. :)

Feel free to comment here or contact me privately with any info. Specific details of stuff would likely happen in private, but saying something in comments would likely help remind me to remember to look you up later. Many thanks ahead of time!
blk: (blades)
I'm in the Boston area this weekend, and I decided to trust the weather forecast, drag out my suitcase, and bring my blades with me. To make this fully worthwhile, I then needed to drag [ profile] shayde (and Z) out rolling with me. Their wheels were, er, slightly bigger than mine.

Long story short: 22-ish miles, 3-ish hours, no sunburn, a few pictures, large numbers of ounces of water consumed. Verrrrry tired legs, which a late evening soak in the hot tub helped a ton.

Afterwards, I spent a few hours hanging out at the end o'summer party and braiding hair. Today, eating everything in sight. Ngaaargh.
blk: (grin)
I had a very pleasant vacation week, saw people, did things, braided hair, and took a variety of pictures. Recapping here.

cut for pics and excessive lj user tags )


blk: (Default)

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