So ... FurFright recap. Good heavens. Again, this was my first-ever convention. It was a very full and eventful weekend, so this may take a bit. Also, I'm just going to give everyone a page link once in a sort of legend at the top of this, and then refer to them by name without the link in the actual recap. This is because I'm going to be crossposting this to FA and LiveJournal, and the fewer things I have to change back and forth between HTML and BBCode, the better.
I flew in Thursday night, and DavidN picked me up at the airport. He was staying in the Courtyard with DF, Susi, and Scani, and I was also staying in the Courtyard but in my own room, so step one was for us to drive there and meet everyone and get started. Meeting David in real life for the first time was actually easier and less awkward than it was for everyone else, because he and I had been voicing pigeons together for so long (with him leaving his webcam on once or twice) that I already knew what he looked and sounded like. (I know, having the "oh, it's just Doctor Murderbeaks" reaction as soon as we started talking isn't supposed to make me feel *more* at ease, but shh.) The others had less of a preestablished path like that before I met them, but it seemed to go quite smoothly nonetheless.
Opening ceremonies were awesome. They started with a retrospective "how we got to this point" film about the first nine years of FurFright, none of which involved me, but all of which were presented in an amusing enough fashion that I developed a respect for its tradition nonetheless. It was like being next to a group of friends having a "remember that time we..." discussion that doesn't really concern you, but it was clearly such a good time that you kind of want it to. Maybe next time! Maybe I can get in now, and keep attending, and I'll start my own "I was there when..." collection that will itself be worth noting someday.
They then switched to a documentary on their charity of choice, the War Dogs, which was about as cheery and lighthearted as my novel or BBL and made me donate to literally the first bucket bridgade volunteer I saw as I left the ballroom.
Then I went and deliberately spent way too much money on stupid crap. It's not that I don't know how to be frugal; I do. It's just that I'm so used to having been so frugal for so long that it's actually harder for me to say "yes" to commissions, so one of the two goals I had going in was to just freaking buy something. I mean, I didn't come all that way, with the plane ticket and hotel reservation and everything, just to window shop! Conveniently, the other goal was to try to branch out a little, with some characters and scenes I haven't commissioned a million times already. (Expect more Shace posted to TeoGifts when all the take-homes start trickling in!) It was fun and I regret nothing.
Kaye showed up that evening, thus finally almost-completing our pigeon collective (not counting the fact that we need Xaq and Raven at FF 2013, obviously.) We hung out for a bit, and then DavidN and I attended a Whose Line-style improv event. That was amusing. I may be getting these two events slightly out of order; apologies if I am.
Saturday was a busy day. DavidN had an act in the Masquerade (AKA Furry Talent Show) and I really wanted to see it and see him, but the Masquerade happened at the exact same time as a writing lecture and subsequent Writer's Slam that I absolutely did not want to miss. Fortunately, I had nothing going on that morning, when the Masquarde rehearsal was going on. With DavidN's blessing, I followed him to that and sat in the audience as the acts (including him) did a runthrough of everything, so it was almost like I got to see everything.
After that, DavidN, Kaye, and I went to get some commemorative photos of our being there together in the same room after all this time on the internet. I donated to the War Dogs (again) in exchange for getting the high-resolution images on my flash drive. They are really nice pictures, except for the fact that I look like Slenderman or Cabadath the Tall Man or Faust from Guilty Gear or something, with my being roughly eight feet high and sixty pounds and all.
Then I had basically nothing going on during the afternoon, so there was more general hanging out (with friends, at the dealer's den, or both.) Then, that evening, we split up so DavidN could go to the Masquerade and Kaye and I could go to the writing stuff.
The writing panel was informative but casual; the guy made a point to emphasize that here were some tips and some things that help get the creative juices flowing, but he's not going to be a hardass about whether or not you're a real true writer if you do or don't do whatever. It was fun! It was about plot structure, and after having given us the basic structure and elements, he challenged us to come up with a rough plot for something. It didn't matter what, and it didn't have to be masterful or anything, just "a plot, off the top of your head." Even though I'm the one working on a novel and everything, I will give credit where credit is due and admit that Kaye stepped forward and I didn't. I think I was paralyzed by perfectionism; my novel is the subject of four years of polish, and I'm just not the type of person to barf out an idea off the top of my head and share it with a room without working on it a bit. Congratulations, Kaye; you were able to let go and get into it better than I was.
The Writer's Slam came next, and was a round circle-of-chairs discussion panel in which we would take turns reading a 1-2 page sample of a story we had written, and the rest of the group would spend about ten minutes discussing it and giving feedback before moving on to the next person's story. I brought the first two pages (which translates to the first scene and about 3/4 of the second scene) of chapter 1 of my novel. Kaye didn't have a story, but sat in and contributed on the feedback and discussion side anyway. The others' stories were interesting; there were some I really liked, and others I didn't, but the discussion was respectful and intelligent and very pleasant and enjoyable throughout.
Then I read mine, and, um.
Okay, this is weird for me, because I'm really not used to gloating or playing up how awesome my work is or anything, but this was their reaction, and I have to report what happened.
They LOVED it.
I mean they seriously, absolutely adored it.
I completely brought the house down. The discussion took a few moments to get started, because they had to un-stun themselves (one guy even directly said something to the effect of "I, um, really don't have anything I can say to critique that. :O" Everyone immediately wanted to know what it was called, if it was published anywhere, and basically where they could get it. I said that the rough manuscript is done but, unfortunately, I'm only about 5/8 done with the editing phase (in that I have gone through five chapters out of eight.) I said that if anyone was interested, I could give them my FA name and they could hit me up and I'd send them what I had so far, or something. I had something like four takers surrounding me as soon as the panel ended. Meanwhile, once people started talking, everyone kept paying particular praise to my gradual scene building, and how I say just enough to paint a picture but leave everyone intensely curious about the details. The first scene in the novel is a funeral and the second is a flashback from the perspective of the person who was just established as deceased, for example, and everyone wanted to know more about who this person was and what led from point A to point B, how he died, and so on.
Seriously, they were fawning over it.
After the Writer's Slam ended and I finished writing my FA name on every business card people handed me, I levitated about four feet off the ground and gently floated back down to the common area, to reunite with DavidN. I found him levitating about five feet off the ground (thus making us roughly the same height) due to his own experience; while I was busy blowing away a small handful of writers, he had apparently been busy bringing putting on the performance of his life in front of the entire Masquerade. He let me hear an audio recording he took by having his iPhone in his pocket while he was on stage, as proof that he had completely brought the house down.
But, you know, other than that, it was kind of a slow evening for both of us.
Someone had apparently decided to discharge a fire extinguisher and pull the fire alarm at the main con hotel at four in the morning or so on Sunday. I was in the Courtyard so I missed it, but it was the talk of the con the next day. Anyway, Kaye and I went to a panel on gender identity, which was basically another general around-the-room discussion. It was an interesting conversation and we both had fun. Then Kaye left, DavidN and friends were busy elsewhere, and I attended another writing panel, from a guy who was basicaly the exact sort of hardass purist that the first pre-Slam panel emphasized that it wasn't. After that, there was some (but not very much) downtime, and someone from the Slam found me sitting there and took my FA name again (just to make sure he had it right) with my friends sitting right there. It was somewhat hard not to squee.
After that, sadly, things got a bit rougher. We split up again, and I hit a charity auction just for one single item (or half of one item, even; a set of two framed pieces of artwork, one of which I actually wanted. I won, and gave the other one to DavidN.) The rest held no interest whatsoever and ran stupidly late, but I hung out in the ballroom while it went on anyway, more or less because I had nothing better to do. By then, the approaching hurricane had cancelled my flight back home, and I desperately needed to get back to the Courtyard (I was completely unable to get any sort of internet connection at the actual con hotel at any time ever) to rebook, all while my mother wouldn't stop calling me to tell me things I already knew and beg me to call her back (even though I already had--she just wanted me to do it again, I guess?) like it had already hit and I was already some helpless Katrina survivor trapped in the Superdome and considering cannibalism if the helicopters didn't get there by tomorrow, or something. And all I wanted was that one piece of art (well, two) I won so I could go home and get this worked out as quickly as possible but by the time they finally stopped and let us check out and I got through the lines and everything, I was still trapped at the con with something like ten minutes until closing ceremonies.
I was admittedly somewhat panicky toward DavidN and testy toward my mother at this point, but things seemed to find resolution quickly enough. DavidN took me back to the Courtyard, I successfully rebooked my flight, got some food, and we went back, a little late to the closing ceremonies but oh well. Once the crisis was over, I felt bad about my less-than-optimal mental state and behavior in retrospect, but ... oh, well. Sorry.
I'm glad I caught at least some of the closing ceremonies. There was video of a photo montage set to music, and once again, it made me feel this sort of nostalgic longing, like a "remember the good times we had" video from a big family I wasn't fully part of yet but I swear I'm going to be someday. I already look forward to catching the fire alarm references they'll be making at FF 2013, which I already want to attend.
I wanted to attend the after-closing ceremonies party and/or another improv thing that was happening at around the same time, but due to the flight rescheduling, the plan somehow turned into "I need to be up to get ready to catch my flight in about seven hours; I should probably go to bed." DavidN, DF, Susi, Scani, and I sat around a table and hung out for a bit first--basically as long as it took to get some food and draw a little. DavidN and I traded pages of random doodles we had made, not unlike a real-life OpenCanvas session or something. Mine was terrible; he totally got the bad end of that trade.
As I write this, I am on the first of two flights home (from CT to NV, then NV to NM) coming at you live from the plane's WiFi access. So long as nothing happens to the second flight to strand me in Nevada or something, I appear to have made it, and just in time. So now it's time to look back on my trip and reflect! Which is why I'm writing this.
That's just a sort of blow-by-blow account of what happened, though. I didn't get too much into the emotional side, and what it meant to me and everything ... honestly, DF did his own recap and he did a lot better job capturing that sentiment than I could. Go read that, and ... yeah, me, too.
I will, however, add how great it was to see everyone, at least partly because I could finally physically show off some items of mine that I have never been able to find in convenient linkable internet form. My old Mario Bros. comic, for example; DavidN has now seen the thing from which two of my LiveJournal icon came, and understands the obscure reason why I have a problem with Mario 64's ending. I have never found it posted anywhere, so I was never able to show him before. (Even those icons I had to scan myself.) Even just the stupid little things like that, it is so wonderful to finally connect on that level....
Anyway, very much looking forward to doing this again. In retrospect, I like the arrangement with the Courtyard as the home base; it's short enough travel that going back and forth isn't too much of an issue, and the Courtyard was just plain nicer to stay in, what with is actual working internet connection and all. I think we'll do that again next time, even if we act early enough that the main hotel is still open when we go to decide.
And to everyone who was there: I love you guys.