Coming down from Def-Con 1:
Relaxing after a major Con weekend
By Josh Dockall
Relaxing after a major Con weekend
By Josh Dockall
You hold your over-sized sword lightly over one shoulder, wrapped in a bright red, kimono-esque, home-made robe painted with swirls and clouds, trying to make your way through the incredible throng of people. Your buddies text you to meet them over at the celebrity row, where a long table of movie and television legends from modern day and days-gone-by sit and sign photographs, shirts and just about anything that will hold an autograph from a Sharpie. You pass row after row of vendors, hawking their wares like a Moroccan bazaar; you hear shrewd customers haggle over the prices of posters, t-shirts and memorabilia from your favorite sci-fi/fantasy/based-on-the-novel-written-by-your-favorite-author T.V. shows and movies. Then, right there in the middle of the row, surrounded by Stormtroopers, demonic Inuyashas, ninja-like Narutos, support-red-wearing Trekkies, and some lady in a home-made skirt with leaves on her head, it hits you: you are at a Con! You walked dazed and wide-eyed through the throng of your brethren from the realms of geekdom and a smile graces your face.
Whether it be a local con, thrown by the east-side gaming association expecting a few hundred people, or a major convention, announced and advertised state-wide, expecting more than 10,000 people, the Con is the hub of activity: there are panels to attend, merchandise to purchase, stars to photograph and question, and (one of the unspoken contests), seeing if your Cosplaying costume is either A) the only one at the Con of that character; or B) better than all the other schmucks who stole your idea (all those late nights spent sewing together that kimono finally paid off).
But, like all good things, even Cons must end. Even your humble author will admit that this is his least favorite part of the Con: the almost tearful announcement that the Vendor’s Hall is closing for the last time this year; the sigh of relief from booth-owners who have been sitting in the same 8 by 6 space for the last three days; the odd dis-attached feeling that accompanies starting your car and driving away from the hotel or center hosting the event that weekend. You have spent the last 70+ hours of your life focusing on the same thing, thinking and dwelling on the same topics, ranting about the same douche bag security guard who makes you check your foam weapon at the door each time.
What do you do now?
To answer this question, one needn’t consult the HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or peruse the pages of the Book of Three, or consult the Oracle in the watery depths of Ghul Tulak. Just do what will eventually come naturally: relax. For those that desire an explanation for further research, let’s dive into the two basic principles of relaxation after a particularly focused venture.
First, Avoidance: for most people, it helps to simply walk away from something and occupy your time with something completely different. For those with a situation or problem to solve, it could help to “place it on a back burner”, letting your subconscious take over while you do something else. To completely avoid something is impossible (humanity is wired to find connections between things that seem unrelated), but trying never hurts: go back to one of your hobbies (aside from gaming, cosplaying, etc.!), get a massage, or just sit and enjoy the company of family (or someone other than people you spent the weekend with). On this same note, try to tone down contact with those that you spent the Con with – while it is socially acceptable to want to spend every waking moment with them during the weekend (it only makes sense – you were all dressed as Jawas), once away from the convention center, sometimes it just helps to take some time away from each other (plus, for those attendees that are married, this time is mandatory for spending with the wife or husband who adoringly accepts the Cosplaying or Con-ning quirks that endeared you to them in the first place).
Second, the Guilty Pleasure: for some people who attend the Con, this is their life. They are the dedicated security guards, the authors and artists who give up their time and money to host panels and stock booths, or the guest attendees who take time to spend among their adoring public (we love you, James Marsters). While it can be a dream to allow something as awesome as writing fantasy fiction or drawing characters for an indie comic to be your career, it can also be draining, both physically and mentally, to constantly be surrounded professionally by those things and not be able to enjoy them on a more visceral level (for example, the gamer who loves to role-play as a priest but is always slated to be the GM by the everyone else). Sometimes, it helps to simply not look at things professionally and enjoy them for what they meant for you in the first place: for fun.
Don’t write a fantasy short story and agonize over it: simply enjoy what you are writing and then throw it away. Don’t go back to the drawing board and fret over the line of shadowing that looks funny on his left bicep: doodle in the margins of your legal pad and let your mind wander. Don’t think about the new short film that you need to put together: find a B-movie that you find hysterical (I recommend Haunted Honeymoon with Gene Wilder and Dom DeLuise) and sit back and enjoy it.
If all else fails, then simply go with William Shatner's infamous advice on Saturday Night Live: "Get a life!"