An Experience I'll Never Forget: My Trip To The Arisia Sci-Fi & Fantasy Convention In Boston As An Artist Guest-Of-Honor - Part Two
Fourth Day In Boston And Third Day Of The Convention!
I was this close to just moving to the place. God, no wonder everyone talks about Boston so damn much!
My friend and I had a fantastic Sunday brunch with the con chairs and the other guests of honor. The place was beautiful -- that trendy, 'refurbished art studio' design that's been gaining traction these past years. I ordered nutella-banana french toast and a delicious cranberry-apple cider-vodka mix while my friend got a killer lobster eggs benedict and a martini. Even the prices were great. I had to double-check the menu with my own four eyes because I couldn't believe food this tasty and artfully arranged could actually be affordable.
It was a busy day in the best way, but still a lot more walking, talking and moving than I was used to (I'm quite the hermit, again). I was so afraid of getting sick, getting too many blisters or even getting a skin infection like I did at my first con. Too much information time! It's called impetigo -- save yourself the trouble and don't Google it -- and it was right above my upper lip. It was completely disgusting and I had to run to the bathroom to mop it off two or three times every hour.
...Anyway. That didn't happen. So huzzah!
I went to a panel all about A Wrinkle In Time and the impact it left on readers years after the fact. I shared how much it meant to me to see a book I loved back in high school being adapted by a black woman director and starring a biracial black girl as the lead (on top of so many amazing actors, production designers and composers...god this has been a great year for films). Again, great panelists, great audience, a great time overall.
Arisia brings the quality. You heard it here.
My friend also had a fantastic moment with a convention attendee that drew fanart of a lesser-known fantasy series they both happened to be huge fans of. I had a moment like that myself, too! Back on '50 Panels In 75 Minutes' where I mentioned China Mieville's Bas-Lag series (specifically Perdido Street Station, give it a read you won't regret it) and two of the other panelists told me they were also fans! There's something almost transcendent about finally getting to meet others face-to-face on stuff you love.
My art interview panel was fun (and I was surprised anyone came at all, really). I saw some repeat faces from my last few panels (again: you know who you are!) and it meant a lot for people to ask me questions about the process and listen to me ramble about my current obsessions. Namely, recent trailers, anything animated and harpies...that last one was asked by none other than the Arisia coordinator. I just...I just love harpies, all right? Commission me to draw bird people!
I also had a short recorded interview for a local Massachusetts channel covering the convention. I haven't looked it up, because I can't stand the sound of my own voice, but it happened!!!
We went to one of my favorite restaurants in the entire city...with one of the least appetizing names in the entire city...Legal Waterfront. What appeared to be a manager (I mean, I don't know many nine-to-five waiters that wear a three-piece suit and sport Jay Leno hair) served us and suggested photo opportunities during our stay. You can tell we just reeked of tourist!
My salmon was unbelievably fresh -- I could practically taste the ocean -- and somehow the oiliest and crispiest filet I've ever eaten. It was served with a side of creamy potatoes and baked yams mixed with cranberries and almonds. With a good beer I was practically in a food coma before I went to my last panel: 'Art And Illness'.
I loved this panel, but I couldn't help but feel so bad because I was yawning the entire time. I was far from bored -- I was just really starting to feel the strain of the busy week and wanted nothing more than to wind down with some quiet conversation, snacks and my phone. It was great talking about coping mechanisms and inspiration, however, and I specifically chose this panel so I could talk even more about the delicate balance between art output and a healthy life with mental illness.
Fifth Day In Boston And Last Day...In Boston!
We decided to wrap up the last day with a bit of window-shopping and a trip to the aquarium. The weather had really decided to take a dip, like it was telling me to hurry on back home before I completely shed Washington from memory. Jokes on you, Boston! It's just as freakishly cold and windy over there, too.
I felt like a kid again seeing all sorts of beautiful sea creatures up close, including a giant stingray I actually couldn't believe was real for a second. Seriously, it looked like a giant moving throw rug and I had to blink a few times before the sheer strangeness of it clicked. Playful sea lions, a giant octopus, fish nearly as large as some motorcycles...it was inspiring, to say the least. For those wondering, yes, my friend and I also made plenty of Animal Crossing jokes when we came across the arowana tank.
We then grabbed a cab and went to go see Shape Of Water. More theaters in my city need bars. For real.
a special shout-out to the Lyft driver that had a killer playlist, but also kept complaining about how women in Boston are too 'hoity-toity'...did you honestly expect your two female passengers to be your most sympathetic audience???
Walking, talking, the aquarium, a movie, nice meals...surely nothing could actually go wrong on our last night?
Actually...we got ended up getting a message from our airline on the way back to the hotel room there might be weather delays. Talk about feeling like a burden! The hosts at Arisia were more than accommodating, however, and gave us a back-up plan if we ended up stuck in the city for an extra day or two.
We ended up lucking out the following morning and the plane ride wasn't just on-time, but very pleasant. It was with a heavy heart I departed this beautiful city, but I made sure to have plenty of fanfiction to read on the way back. Before I dip into my closing messages, let's check out some of the cosplayers we came across with censor bars to protect their identity!
Cosplayers From The Convention
On The Way Back Home...
I felt like I blinked and this entire fun, beautiful, vulnerable trip was over in a flash.
There are no words to describe how grateful I am for this opportunity. It was a fantastic way to start my new year and it represented so many wonderful things for me -- a much-needed vacation, an opportunity to promote my craft, socializing far more than I usually do and with people who just get me, no less. Movies, mental illness, fanfiction...oh fucking my! At the risk of sounding redundant, it was so nice to get a breather from my hometown not home-hometown, but you know what I mean. I was able to take a much-needed break after a particularly hard past year and a half -- one of the most arduous I've dealt with since my sophomore year in high school -- and even share some of those struggles to sympathetic ears.
Who said geekery and therapy can't mix?
Hell, seeing my illustrations, character art and sketches in the art show and actually getting sales? My mind is still a touch boggled. That's even before I get into some of the incredibly kind words said to me by both staff and convention-goer. Complimenting my art, assuring me of the strength of my voice, thanking me for just being there and being myself...I haven't forgotten a single thing. Trust me.
I have leftover prints I've been meaning to sell (before the following month swallowed me up in obligation after obligation). They'll be much cheaper and sold in packages, with some original art to boot, so keep an eye out over the following weeks if you're interested! Until then...
From the bottom of my heart...
...THANK YOU, ARISIA!