Holidays and Conventions

When I graduated school, I was excited to get into the workforce: get paid, not constantly be graded and, most importantly, the ability to come home and shut it off.

Turns out it doesn’t really work that way.

I’d still pick my job over school any day (at least, over necessary school with all that pressure – if I were rich, I’d totally do funducation for my own personal growth for the rest of my life), but the 8am to 10pm days kick my ass. And I feel too guilty to charge my employer when it’s probably my own fault that I can’t keep up or don’t have my staff trained properly, so I don’t even get paid for the extra 3 hours a day. I suppose it comes back to me with quarterly bonuses (and a reduction in staff meltdowns – always important!) but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m tired. My days off are usually spent on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Makes it hard to keep up with my video gaming goals. On the bright side, I do love the work. I used to whine and cry and panic about the mountains of work but these days…I don’t know if it’s some form of acceptance or Stockholm syndrom or what, but I actually kind of look forward to work.

Anyway, what I wanted to get to is that I have real vacations planned! My customers are even more excited about it that I am.

Customer: I heard you’re going on holidays! (It’s a really small town, sometimes customers discover stuff about my life before I even do.) What exotic location do you have lined up this time? Guatemala? Zimbabwe? Samoa?

Me: (proudly) Calgary!

Yeah, that’s right. After two years of living on a shoestring budget carrying all my belongings on my back, my ideal holidays are really just enjoying my house and doing continuing education credits to buff my professional profile. Also playing video games, relearning how to write and sipping expensive coffee. (Besides, maybe one day I’ll get off the extremely long fertility clinic waitlist and have little Ophies and little Eds running around, meaning that my days of relaxing in home activities will be put on hold for 20 years.) Still, it’s important to get out once in awhile. Ed was disappointed when he couldn’t go to Calgary with me a few months back when I was sent there for training. So Calgary it was!

Calgary Comic Con is happening at the end of April. I haven’t been to a geek convention in a few years so I excitedly bought tickets and booked a hotel. Since I have like, you know, actual time off work, I went all out and bought the premium package! I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but it was only slightly more expensive than the ordinary weekend-long package and I’ve never bought a premium package before and I’m all about trying new things!

I love conventions. Love, love, love them. I think my first was Blizzcon, so many years ago. If I remember right, I didn’t even have tickets and went just to go to the parties. It was an absolute dream. The parties were excellent (I always say I hate parties but I’ve discovered that I actually love parties – I’m just very snobby about who I party with) and I ended up with tickets when someone had to leave early. I’ve never done strong drugs, but I imagine it’s pretty similar. You have the most intense, most surreal fun. When you come back down to reality, you’re miserable AF, bedridden with con-crud and crushed that it’s over, and all your mind can do is countdown the days, the hours, until next time.

After a few Blizzcon buzzes, I branched out and showed up at PAX when I somehow ended up with tickets. (I don’t exactly remember how it happened, it was so random. I think someone tweeted me that tickets were on sale? I clicked the link for shits and giggles thinking they’d be sold out? Suddenly I had tickets?) No one I knew attended (actually, no, lots of people I knew attended, but obviously I didn’t know them well enough to be aware of their attendance until after the fact) so it made for a totally different experience. I worried about awkwardness and lonelyness, but oh boy, PAX is NOT awkward and lonely. I want to reign in the drug comparisons because Cons are and should be family-friendly events (I feel like this blog should also be a family-friendly blog but who am I kidding?) but the pharmacist in me can’t help herself. Where Blizzcon is a stimulant, PAX is a hallucinogenic. I just chatted up random people (and I’m a super shy, quiet person, I swear!), attended a few feel-good panels that ended with wonderful oversharing and the occasional group hug and finished up with tons of fast friends that I never spoke to again.

Calgary Expo is a different experience. It’s the only convention I’ve attended that isn’t gaming-exclusive and I don’t consume a lot of media so I have no idea who most of the panelists are. What that means, though, is there a lot of opportunities to discover new artists and new work. There are a lot of local panelists and exhibitors as well, which I discovered is really important to me. It was my first attendance at the Calgary Expo that made me realize how much talent there is and how much cool stuff people were creating in Alberta. I started going to more events, festivals presentations and shows during my Edmonton trips. One day I realized that I felt Albertan and that I had fallen in love with Edmonton and I totally blame the Calgary Expo for my conversion (one of these days I need to make it out to the Edmonton Expo – much smaller but I bet I’ll love the even more local aspect of it. Also, you know you’re Canadian when a city 300km away is “local”.)

In previous installments, it was also an opportunity to connect with other Albertan gamers. While the parties weren’t on Blizzcon scale, the intimacy factor was wonderful and I felt like I had real quality time with friends. Sadly, I’ve fallen out of touch with pretty much everyone from my WoW blogging days, so it’s a gamble. Will I meet other cool people PAX-style? I’m much older than I was at PAX, plus the setting in Calgary is way more family-oriented than a pure gaming convention is, so it might be harder, but who knows? Maybe I’ll meet less people but will be more likely to keep in touch after the event.

Ed has also never been to a convention (I know, I’m shocked too!) so I’m nervous because I want him to understand why I love conventions so much. That’s a lot of pressure on Calgary Expo to deliver!

Whatever happens, we’ve also got plans to wrap up in Banff National Park, hopefully get spring skiing (that’s right, there’s still snow up here in the Northern Rockies!) and some hiking (deep in avalanche season so maybe not!) in. We got a great deal on fancy shmacy accommodations so even if we’re trapped inside the whole time, it’ll still be wonderful. (Note, we also got a great deal on our accommodations in Calgary – another perk of Cons is that they often partner with businesses to offer discounts on hotels, restaurants and even flights.)

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