I road up to Garland Wednesday after getting my meds (FIRST TIME my meds' due date didn't fall right after leaving!!), and that trip was easy enough, though no one was doing the speed limit. That gave my body two nights to recuperate for the Houston road trip for Fandemic. The drive from home is about 5.5 hours, the drive from Garland to Houston is about 4.5, both of those being without bad traffic.
The hotel check in was at 3, and the con opened doors then too, so we knew we'd miss the first bit. For those that don't know, Saturday is always the heaviest-loaded con day, so Friday is sort of your day to get things straightened out. The hotel check in was delayed 'cos of some sort of system security computer thing going on. We also discovered that most people checking in were in a different building, whereas we were in the same building as the lobby, on the fourth floor. That held no significance at first, but when we got to our room we discovered it was absolutely ridiculous. We purchased it with Foo's travel stay points (it was 60k for a whole weekend, but she has 200k+ even after the purchase sooo), and she's a "Spire Elite" level guest, which is the highest. The room was basically as big as her apartment! There was kitchen, dining area, living room, enormous bedroom with a king bed, a large lavatory area and then a large bathroom. The shower/tub was large, the tub was an enormous square with a seat. Honestly spending points on a room, the two full beds option wasn't that much different from the king cost wise, and it hadn't listed things like microwave/fridge/etc. like the other hotels we looked at, so we hadn't expected much.
We unpacked, prepped the bags we were going to carry at the con, and left to walk the six blocks. It was drizzling a bit and overcast, but it was still hot and I was wearing a new bra with very strong back support. This is an important detail 'cos my back isn't used to being held straight, my shoulders not used to being held back. The small of my back was screaming after the first block. We stopped a lot, but we did make it on foot, knowing we'd have to take an Uber to the hotel that night. Cons are 6+ hours each day of walking and standing, which I'm not really honestly used to even one hour, and this is the standard for three days.
First order of business at a con is, if you plan on getting autographs, finding each person's booth and seeing the schedule. Three of the people we had signed up for were grouped together, and they were in, so we had to make the next decision! Do we get our photo ops signed, or get headshots? We opted for headshots, 'cos as you'll see, the Guardians of the Galaxy photo op would be crowded (and actors tend to have big signatures...), plus, if we managed any personal little flourishes or messages, we'd need as much space as possible. So we hit up Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, and Chris Sullivan first, particularly 'cos there was no one in their lines.
Michael Rooker is Yondu in Guardians (I'd stop to say that it was a great character, but all the actors we were going to see were great sooo)... Over the course of the con we discovered he's quite the oddball and difficult on his handler (though he had a GREAT, tough plus-sized lady handler that would just shout "ROOKER" to admonish him as he'd tried to run away). He was very friendly, chatty, and fist bumped Foo calling her the "fifth son".
Next to him was Sean Gunn. Let me say this about Sean Gunn--for me, he was the main draw to this. He's a smaller actor, with a secondary role in the Guardians of the Galaxy (he's Kraglin, and also would act as Rocket for the others to interact with). But his scenes in the movies just made me so tickled, from being upset that all his friends were murdered to practicing with Yondu's arrow. He has odd facial muscle movements that gave me an extra appreciation for his expressions. In person, he is pretty much the same way. He's adorably awkward, sort of the usual "why would you come here for me" kind of behavior. He had a headshot holding his cat where they had the same expression on and I had to have it.
Selfies vary greatly at cons. I overheard Chris Sullivan say he loved selfies, so both Foo and I snagged some with him next when we moved to him. It was the only day I didn't wear any makeup but at the same time I feel better about how I look here than in the Sunday photo op pic, mainly 'cos I think my entire body was swollen to hell by that point!! Plus, I don't mind my face without makeup :)
This guy played Taserface in the sequel, and you wouldn't recognize him for anything 'cos the makeup for his character was intentionally hideous, haha. He is super energetic, friendly, and chatty. Three chatty actors is already oddly awesome, 'cos cons can be pretty busy so you don't really get to spend any time with them usually. But these three were just all alone at their tables, so we hung around.
When we moved on, we got all the schedules. Everyone else on our list was showing up starting Saturday. So we spent the rest of the day exploring the booths and shops, watching Rob Prior sketch and paint, talking to local comic book artists, and son on. Arthur Suydam was there with a large selection of his art. He's one of the first people that attracted me to comics as an adult, as the artist for many zombie properties (including all the Marvel Zombies runs and The Walking Dead), so we picked out our favorites and he signed them for us (I'm looking forwards to decorating my house when I get back!). We managed to kill all the time to closing without realizing it. We walked to the Subway across the street, got some sammiches, and rode an Uber back. We basically ate and slept.
Saturday. Big day. We woke up early, wanting to get in at opening so we had as little trouble getting autographs/meeting people before our photo ops. Big catch of the day would be Dave Bautista (Drax in Guardians), who was only available that day. Meaning, his lines would be long, his schedule tight, etc. We ended up going into Michael Rosenbaum's line 'cos it was JUST forming, and the Bautista line was already beyond his main queue filled with VIPs.
Rosenbaum is a hoot. He was a minor role in Guardians (a heavily-CG'd Ravager faction leader), but he's more commonly known for things like Lex Luthor from Smallville. Now, doors open at 10 for the general admissioners, but the talent usually doesn't show up til 11, which was the case. Rosenbaum was just as chatty as the others, and I waited beside Foo for her to get a headshot too. We were joking 'cos he had a picture that had the words "INSIDE OF YOU" on it, and I don't know what it refers to originally if indeed anything, but he wrote "All my love" on Foo's headshot so I just threw in "Inside of you" and laughed, but he started laughing and added that to her pic as well. So she's pleased to have that. He turned to his handler to ask if they were doing selfies (his sign said selfies were $16), and she said yes (only one person in line got a selfie so far), and I said I didn't have the money, so he said SHHH and grabbed my phone and started snapping photos with us. We got several (some of which have a photogenic photobomber in them, haha).
Then we went into Bautista's line. We made friends in the line and camped. The process is basically that VIPs go ahead of everyone, and there's a lot of them, so it takes a long time. By the time we made it to the edge of his main queue, both he and us had to leave for photo ops. BUT we had made friends with a very chatty Staff member, and the lady behind us offered to hold our spot for us if we could get back in time (spoiler: we didn't).
(Note! We originally ordered the photo op for 4 Guardians, which included Rooker, Gunn, Sullivan, and Bautista, but then they added a 5 one with Rosenbaum. We felt weird not swapping for that one so we did, and now we're happy we did.) Photo ops are very much assembly line. You go to a booth to trade your proof of purchase for a card with the specific ticket type on it, then you take that to the photo ops area. They send you to a specific line (there's like 20 lines prepped and marked out on a floor for this). VIPs go first, then GA. As this was a huge cast shot, there were going to be less people in line for it compared to solos. As the line moves, it enters a tented off area, you hand your ticket, you put your stuff on a table, and you wait for the "NEXT". Generally it happens half a minute after the previous shot is taken (they're super fast at checking the photo for blinks or anything like that). It's all fast. Ever since buying the photo ops we were wondering just how we'd end up arranged, 'cos the more people in a pic the weirder things get. I just knew I'd like to be near Gunn if I could help it. When we walked up, everyone greeted us and chattered a bit (it seemed like we had more time due to less people in line). Rooker asked "Are you okay sweetie?" of Foo and she was flustered from that. We were already grinning uncontrollably and then they all put their hands on us and Rosenbaum kept patting both of us on the back. I was afraid I'd look weird 'cos of my folding my hands in front of me (I'm so used to being in a position where I put my hand behind the actor's back in a photo that I panicked and fidgeted with my hands in the open).
From here it was back to Bautista's line, and back to the back of it. First wait was from 10AM to 12:30, this one was if I recall correctly from 1:15 to 2:30. He was told several times to take his breaks but he kept saying he felt guilty leaving us all there, especially when many of us had lost our places in order to take pictures. Foo escaped the line a couple times to get a few Walking Dead autographs that she hadn't planned on getting while no one was in their lines. When I got to Bautista, he stopped, looked up, and stared. Let me tell you, it's a wee bit intimidating to be stared at a man built like he is, especially 'cos even his smiles look very serious. Then he proceeded to tell me, over five times in varied, emphatic ways, that my short hair "REALLY WORKS" for me. He insisted it so much that I got flabberghasted. I've never cried at a con (a LOT of people do), but I nearly did. I've been feeling so self-conscious lately from my weight gain, and knowing I'm taking pictures and such this weekend meant that I'd be showcasing my heaviness in what should be happy memories. I don't remember what all I told him anymore, other than I was very thankful and that it meant a lot to me as someone who is super self-conscious. Part of the reason his line was taking so long was he was taking time with every single person, chatting, letting people try on his wrestling rings, asking for stories, the works. So he talked to me until I calmed down a bit and I stepped aside for Foo.
Now, I was hurting VERY MUCH. I'd actually broken down in the line and started sitting on the cement floor and rubbing my feet through my shoes. But we were within sight of Sean Gunn's booth at the time, and Foo had seen a few people taking selfies with him. She knows I like him, and he had a fee of $30, but she wanted to let me get a selfie with him. I asked them if it was okay for both of us to be in the selfies, and he was very happy to oblige. Our Bautista pics were still on top of our photo folders so they could dry, and Gunn noticed them after already taking a few selfies with us and said he wanted to try. The below is the result. He joked that now whenever we saw either of them we wouldn't be able to tell them apart, and it was good, 'cos he sounded really happy, and honestly, when I go to these things I just as much want to try and make the guests and artists and so on as happy as they make me. (A big part of my motivation for going to these particular people was 'cos I enjoyed their performances and I was worried they wouldn't have much people showing up--several other fans felt the same way and kept visiting them throughout the day the same as us).
Now, we had to kill some time, so we ate and did more shopping before returning to the celebrity section to see about tackling the next ones. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Norman Reedus, notably both from The Walking Dead. Morgan was leaving for photo ops, but Reedus was still around. We hopped in line. Reedus was also in Boondock Saints back in 1999, and I had a crush on him after that. He (like Gunn) is a scraggly kind of guy and I've always been more interested in that haha. These two guys are particularly hyped up for the con, they're placed at the farthest back wall of the event so that they can exit via the back wall and not have to cross the show floor to do things, you can't take selfies, and so on. So I was not expecting him to look up from his table, big grin on, say "Hey there, cutie" and jump across his table to hug me. Once again, he was chatty and I was flabberghasted at all this.
When we tried to get into Morgan's line, the staff explained to everyone that unless you had a raincheck card they handed out earlier that day, we wouldn't make it in before closing (this guy, for the record, was the main attraction for the con). We had photo ops with both of these two the next day, so we sort of didn't want a repeat of the Bautista situation, but oh well. I went sit down on the floor to rest while Foo shopped til almost closing. At the end she came get me to drag me to few booths to have me pick out things I wanted. The ride to the hotel was a bit icky, due to a major concert also taking place within the next hour or so so people were trying to wreck just to drop people off on the side of the road, but we made it okay, until the hotel. The hotel had sold its parking lot for concert goers, which meant we then had to park several blocks away... Foo ended up raising hell in the lobby until a manager had security escort her to my car so she could then move in into their parking spot. At first we didn't think it'd make a difference... until we remembered that we had to check out in the morning and haul all our belongings, so it definitely helped.
Sunday, we checked out and got to the con at 9. Felt weird being there before opening, but had we not done it, we would not have made through Morgan's autograph line. The situation was bad. There were hundreds of VIPs, and we were only the 12th in line for the GA. What's more, Morgan was going to leave early to catch a flight, which meant his second autograph session after the photo ops wasn't happening. He had an hour to get through as many people as possible. But, instead of going on his hour long lunch that was assigned to him, he took ONE five minute break, sat there from 11 to 1:45 signing, and we were the last people he managed to get in. His handler was adamant that the last few of us be as fast as possible 'cos he would have to abandon the line for photos. But he wasn't cooperating very well, himself. When I got to him, he paused, looked at my name, smiled, introduced himself, said I had a lovely name, asked me if he'd see me in photos, said he was so happy we were here to support him, talked a little more, signed the photo, gave me a big hug. Neither he nor Reedus were hugging people, so the fact that they both gave me and Foo hugs was very strange but wonderful, particularly 'cos they were the people she most wanted to see. Morgan gave her an extra-long hug, whispered that she was awesome, said he'd take a moment for us in the photos. And he really did. We were the last group of photos he'd be taking, and he greeted us and it was wonderful and pulled her into a tight hug for the photo. I might not like how I look in the photo (to me, straight on is a poor angle for me, and I was swelling pretty bad already), but it's a good photo. Especially for her.
There was only about an hour til closing afterwards, so I went sit and let Foo shop some more. On the way to the tables to sit at, she brought me to the local comic book artists we'd talk to each day, always telling them we'd come back to buy their stuff. And we did. That's a lie people often tell to get away from stalls, but we do mean it. They were black, writing women's comics, that specifically took place and represented Houston, and the art was very pretty. I got another series they just published for free, and Foo went ahead and got their entire library and we got the information for me to get more. Self-published comics is as tough as self-publishing books, and I like supporting them when I can, and their prices were honestly ridiculously low and we told them so. Artists need to know they don't have to undercut themselves just to be seen. I honestly hate all the talk in my chatrooms where people say how you should always look for "starving artists" and buy their work vs expensive ones. No. The point is if you like the starving artist, to pay them properly for their damned time and skill and effort and support them so they can keep creating.
The ride back home was less rainy and safe. I'm unable to bend my legs (only remembered Icy Hot and Excedrin starting Saturday night), to the point that I can't even sit in a bathtub to soak. But it was great, there were no bad experiences, everything went off without a hitch and we got much more personal interactions with every single person we met, which isn't always a thing.
Today I'm finally back at editing 2121: The End of Syfe. I fiddled about last night for a bit with a scene but now I can focus entirely on it for the rest of the week. I'm at the start of Chapter 07 (bearing in mind that I've been away from any computer since Friday), and word count is now 102,966. This number will go up and down slightly with each pass I make, 'cos as a basic example, the last scene in Chapter 06 got a lot of hard edits to make it more concise/give it a certain flow, so I lost several words there. It's a long process, but the last few chapters should be fastest due to them being the most recent in memory. Anyway. This post has been sitting here for a few hours, so I'll go ahead and ship it off. Cheers and bip that heart~
(Don't mind the red eye. Contact went nuts but I figured it was appropriate for Walking Dead day anyway haha.)