I think I’ve said something about this before, but if not…I’m putting six pieces of my art into the Art Show at CONvergence 2016 (a.k.a. CVG) It is only my second art show outside of school. And the other one was when I was very young. Yes, I am fearing no one will like my art, because well, I can’t seem to stop with the self-criticism. But, no matter how afraid of it I am, I WILL do this!
Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been attending CVG for most of its history, only missing two out of the 17 previous conventions (1999 and 2015). This also means I’ll be fairly quiet from Wednesday, June 29 through Sunday, July 3 (I may be out longer than that, depending on how much sleep I need to recover from spending those days at the con).
I consider CVG to be a safe space for me. Why? Because for the most part, attendees are some of the most open-minded yet sensible people I have ever met. Oh, there are those who aren’t, but having known a good portion of the con-comm (essentially the decision-makers for the convention) and many of the volunteers (having volunteered a number of years myself – particularly a few years volunteering in the Art Show), I know exactly who and when to run for a security person or a wandering host if there is an issue.
It’s not just because it is a group of geeks and nerds about science fiction/fantasy. It’s about being able to put your “real life” on hold for a few days, and choosing to let the Universe be in charge.
I have met so many wonderful people through CVG, and not just famous ones. Yes, I can say that I have been hugged by Michael Sheard (shortly before he died, and he is remembered lovingly by many attendees), had drinks and a smoke with Peter Mayhew and his lovely wife, and been leaned upon and hugged by a very drunk and very sweaty Jason Carter. But what most of the guests of the convention have said is that CVG is one of the most enjoyable science fiction/fantasy conventions to attend because for the most part attendees are very low-key when it comes to having a “squee” moment for a favorite famous person. Yes, we all have our favorites (sadly, I was too exhausted and too stressed to have attended one of my favorite famous person’s concert in 2010), but we attendees – in general – tend to not glom on to a famous person, but allow them to simply be themselves and enjoy themselves. And many have returned when they were NOT Guests of Honor, simply because they enjoyed the weekend so very much.
But, most of my favorite memories about CVG over the years has been just simply sitting and enjoying getting to know new people, as well as seeing other people I’ve met over the years (because CVG is the only time they’re in the Twin Cities).
All of the weirdos (and trust me, that is a compliment in this group) get together, hang out and simply enjoy being together. People watching is one of my absolute favorite things to do at CVG, because you can see all people of all kinds doing things they enjoy. You see people doing cosplay in so many different ways, even multiple people with the same character (and tending to have spontaneous camera moments because they all want to remember the people they can relate to simply because of the love of a piece of entertainment. And it doesn’t matter if the character is a certain size, shape or color. I’ve seen super-sized Wonder Women, extremely slim women rocking an Ursula costume, men being Maleficent (or Sailor Moon, or any of a whole plethora of female characters…..you haven’t lived until you’ve seen three drunk Sailor Moons walking through the hallways singing…..two of which have fairly bushy beards).
This kind of tolerance, where it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in or what ethnicity you are or what sexual orientation you have, is so very hard to find in this world. And a lot of people could learn from an experience at CVG. The only things that aren’t tolerated there are sexual predators, con men, body-shamers, and those who cannot seem to learn how to keep their hands to themselves (without consent). Security there is top notch, and has a strong presence (both hotel security, and con security – who are all volunteers and have experience – who can isolate and restrain someone if needed while waiting for the Bloomington police to arrive and arrest the person). There are wandering hosts who can give information or assistance when it is needed. There are volunteer medics in case of health emergencies (i.e. temporarily take care of the person(s) until the emergency vehicles arrive).
It’s a well oiled machine, because the people who work for it (unpaid volunteers the lot of them) have made it so. They work hard year-round to put together this convention, and have it run as flawlessly as a human organization can. And yes, these people volunteer even AFTER the convention has run its course for the year.
Will my ex-husband be there? In all probability, yes. Am I nervous or scared that he’ll be there? No, because as I stated above, there are many ways for me to ask for protection (even from just plain attendees if needed) in this safe space. And, even when we were attending together, we rarely – if ever – saw each other, because our interests differed wildly. Last year’s registration topped over 6,000 people at the convention – I think out of that many people (and it grows more every year) I can probably avoid him and his wife fairly easily.
And, I’m also looking to have a new experience with this in general. I’m actually being able to do my prep work for the convention before the day I drive to the hotel and get my registration. It’s been relatively stress free, which it never has been before. I am looking forward to not getting to the hotel and having to isolate for the first few hours so I can come down from all the stress of prepping. In fact, this last weekend I had a panic attack. Not because I’m freaked out about the convention, but because I haven’t been stressing about getting everything ready. Isn’t that silly? But, it’s just another thing to use to relearn and release old, bad habits.
I’ll do my best to have a few posts in the chute, before I leave.