The Con Virgin Diaries: Bemused & Broke

Back in May, Erin and I decided to try going to a con for the first time. The initial panic attack I had over making arrangements for the event inspired the post that follows.


A few weeks ago, I bought tickets to Chicago Comic Con. I’d never been to a Con in my life, but when I saw Arthur Darvill and Billie Piper on the guest list, I decided it was something I just couldn’t pass up this time.

It’s such a huge rush of excitement, isn’t it? You look at the guest list and everything that will be on offer, and it’s a bit like staring into the depths of Wonderland. You hurry to buy your tickets, ignoring the cries of distress coming from your hemorrhaging bank account, and a crazed rush of adrenaline washes over you because, damn it, you’re going to see Rory and Rose! Who wouldn’t be excited?!

Then after your tickets are sorted and you’ve got your confirmation emails (that you’re half-tempted to frame), you realize:

Oh, shit, I suppose I’ll need somewhere to sleep at some point.

So you start sifting through hotel options. You look at your choices on the map and calculate how far you’re willing to walk to get to your day of even more walking and seemingly endless queuing. (Make sure to factor in your shoes and the weather!) You weight that against how much you can bring yourself to pay for parking. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the hotel’s internet situation. You probably don’t want to get there with a very tight budget already reserved for food and that big plush K-9, and then find you have to pay another $40.00 for internet access just so you can blog about your day at the Con. While it’s true that most places seem to have free Wi-Fi anymore, there are still many that don’t, so beware.

Factoring all that in, it’s probably a bit lighter on your wallet to share at least the hotel (and maybe even travel expenses?) cost with a roommate. Fortunately for me, my best friend (also a Con virgin) decided to take the plunge this year as well. It’s more cost-effective, and at least this way, we can be new and terrified together. If you don’t have a best friend who is willing to tag along into geek heaven with you, try talking to some of your friends/acquaintances on Tumblr, or Twitter, or whatever. I would almost guarantee there will be one of them who is going and also looking for someone to share the cost with. It never hurts to ask, at any rate.

After that whole process is complete, you’re ready to start planning. But now that the excitement from the initial purchase has worn down a bit, it’s left me feeling bit bewildered.

There are so many questions going into this that I hadn’t considered when I was busy forking over my cash with big pixelated hearts blinding my vision.

What if I don’t get in to see the panels I want? What if I miss everything else because I’m waiting in line to see that panel (and then miss the panel anyway)? Should I cosplay? Who should I cosplay as? Is 4th Doctor overdone? Will I be laughed at? How can I find the exact two shades of blue paint for the Second Doctor’s recorder? How much can I afford to bribe Erin with to knit me a Tom Baker scarf? Can I learn to knit fast enough to do it myself? What if I get frustrated with it and jam knitting needles into my eyes? What if I get there too late and miss everything I want to see? What if I accidentally meet Arthur Darvill in an elevator and forget how to speak actual words or make eye contact in a way that isn’t creepy? What if I go up to get Billie Piper’s autograph and forget my own name? Where am I going to get the money for all this?

In my mind, all of these things are totally legitimate questions. Luckily, I found some cheat codes for them. I recently read Sam Maggs‘ fantastic new book, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was actually life-changing for me in a lot of ways, but I was particularly drawn to the section on attending Cons. She covers everything from preparation and cosplay, to decorum and post-Con withdrawal. I highly recommend picking up a copy of her book (for lots of reasons), even if you’ve attended before. I will definitely be studying her shared wisdom frequently before the middle of August!

Now that the initial panic is over, though, I’m starting to get more excited again. I know things won’t be perfect, because when are they ever? But that doesn’t mean the experience itself can’t be a ton of fun anyway. Part of the whole experience, I suspect, is just immersing yourself into an IRL community of like-minded people for a long weekend. And that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, really. There’s a lot of sorting to be done between now and August 20th, but I’m looking forward to the new adventure…

…I think!

Bonus Links:

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

Sam Maggs’ Twitter

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

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