bITS 'N CHUNKS
So, I wouldn't call myself a seasoned con vet just yet. I didn't go to my first official convention until 2012, Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). That was a spontaneous trip with my good buddy and a lot of fun things happened during that time (and some not so fun) but what it made me realize is I'm perfectly capable of experiencing a con by myself and not spending a whole lot of money, so I decided I would start going to in-state conventions as well.
I'm very aware due to seasoned veteran friends that the Tennessee con scenes aren't what they used to be due to various factors including money, growth and the lack of convention spaces, and believe it or not gentrification. But as a newbie, I don't have a lot of choice but to enjoy myself.
As money would allow, I decided to go to at least one convention a year. Nashville has several anime and multigenre conventions throughout the year, most of them have been going strong for quite some so I wasn't afraid of being exposed to any unprofessional and unsightly infrastructural issues. I have friends that go there but other than showing me around, I wasn't too dependent on them helping me out. I'm not afraid to ask people in costumes stuff.
So my first true Nashville con experience was the big one, MTAC (Middle Tennessee Anime Convention). That's our big one, so expectations were high. It was also my first con I truly dressed up for (I was Lupin III, haha). Expectations were over all met, so I decided to get around and start seeing what else was around. I went to GMX next which I love, and then by the time the following year had rolled around I finally made it to AkaiCon too, which is what I went to this weekend.
Over time I started to develop a con family. We see each other all the time and it feels like no time has passed. I like to cosplay but I think of it as more "dressing up" -- I don't think I'm lazy or anything I just go with a certain theme and modify things to fit my body and comforrt level. So for example with my Lupin costume I go with a green blazer I got from Goodwill, some slacks, and a tie. It looked pretty good when I had the same close cropped hair cut and I didn't feel the need for a wig. My biggest departure was probably my Goldust outfit in which I did the make up but rather than wear a gold body suit which would have looked bullshit on me, I went for a sheer yellow robe that I decorated with fur and a black bodysuit and stockings. And people definitely recognized it. Why did I do all that? Because it was fucking 80 degrees out lol.
I haven't had any particularly negative con experiences except for inconvenient scheduling and things like that, I think my worst experience so far is the chronic lack of parking at the past two AkaiCon events I've been to. I would like to start traveling more and getting to conventions out of state, make new friends and see new things. I love conventions and if I spend my time on nothing else it's definitely that. And, y'know, if you like the network it's definitely where all the writers that hustle are. For 2017, I'm hoping my next convention will be horror related and I can be a Cenobite!
Continuing on with our menhera interlude and writing in general, let's talk about DIY and supporting your local artists. First, a short tutorial on this necklace:
1 syringe from the vet
1 bottle of acrylic paint
1 pair of scissors
Clean the syringe thoroughly, and when dry suck up some paint from the tube to your preferred level. Let dry. Cut syringe to preferred length and then, near the middle, cut a small hole. Push the top of the plunger through the hole.
Syringe necklaces actually stem from the cyber scene so you can do this with bigger syringes, neons, glitter, etc.
Most of the scenes I belong to encourage a DIY mentality. Punk, metal, goth, otaku even the smaller subsects of j-fashion will tell you to fuck the mainstream and just make the damn thing yourself. No one said you can't flex, but we tend to prefer you flex creatively. Now, there is the caveat that in this society you can't do EVERYTHING yourself. In that case, yeah, you're going to have to give money to someone doing it themselves and selling.
DIY and the #shoplocal movement are highly political and a little complicated of course but in their purest form: support small business when you can, if you can. The internet has expanded the definition of "local" greatly and there's more product out there than ever before. Sometimes I dream of things and it seems like someone hears my cry from the heart and makes a knitcap out of it.
Let's stick to scenes. As a writer, goth, emo, nerd, whatever, you're participating in the scene. How do you contribute? You might think, well I write. That's good! But hopefully, you're reading books by other authors and buying them. Boosting voices. Sharing music. Maybe you're crafty and making goods. That deserves support. All of those things are how we keep our scenes alive.
The scenes I belong to abhor mainstream, so DIY and one of a kind products are highly valued. You don't want to look the same, smell the same, whatever. You want the ONLY print of that t-shirt in the whole state of Tennessee. But you know what's also cool? Telling people where you got them from. Sharing a discount code because we're all broke.
Also, if you're...well, differently sized, DIY and shopping small business is a good way to finally get catered to without spending an arm and a leg. People will tell you to go to Goodwill all the time but you know where you need to go? Redbubble. Etsy. Ebay. Yes, the sites that get a bad rep but tend to have the biggest variety of sizes and styles. Them's kind of the breaks sometimes. Not all of us can or are able to sew. More on that later.
Now, the downside of this would be, of course...so you're shopping local and shopping small, and you start thinking to yourself, man, I could do all of this for cheap. And that's OK. In my caption up there you'll see that I mention that necklace cost me about 1-2 dollars to make but PLEASE support your local artist. Yes, it's easy to make a syringe necklace. But sometimes you have to decide is it worth it to you. Do you want to drive to Wal-Mart at midnight or would you rather just pay some nice person to ship you a completed work of art, eh?
What I like most is the human connection of shopping small. I get to support people and learn more about them (especially in the event that you DON'T want to support them) and where my products are coming from. It's such a neat process to be part of sometimes. You can really make someone's day just by buying a necklace. And it's still contributing and keeping your scene alive. You want your scene to live, right? Think of it as a home. You don't pay bills for a few months and come back, the grass is up to the porch and it's property of the bank now. Although I suppose we're all property of the bank at this point...well, don't think about it.
Content warning: this post will include description/discussion of topics surrounding mental health such as anxiety, triggers, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide. There will also be a few depictions of gory/horror material although not excessively graphic in my opinion. Pictures will be limited and purely for demonstration.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...