How To Survive An Anime Convention (Or Any Conference Really)

2018 marks my 10th year of attending anime conventions. My very first was ColossalCon 2008, which ironically fell on my 18th birthday weekend. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot over this past decade of shenanigans, mischief, and sometimes outright puzzling situations.

Before ColossalCon 2008, my then-boyfriend advised me that you do not sleep at cons. You do not eat much. You spend tons of money. You drink far more than you should. And you party hard. Most people shared that same sentiment, and that’s how I treated conventions until around 2013.

Five years of torture.

Good grief.

This outlook is not restricted to just anime and gaming conventions. I have heard similar statements from people of all ages at professional conferences as well. “You’re not going to sleep much this weekend!” I am always warned. Yet, somehow, I do.

The party-hard mentality might sound good on paper–looking at yourself from afar like you’re rewatching American Pie or some other frat party comedy–but it’s hard on your body. And it is unnecessary.

The harmful mentalities of not sleeping, not eating, not showering, and maxing out your credit cards for trips needs to stop. Most people who take a more mature approach to conventions and conferences find that they enjoy their time spent there far more, they are able to return home without feeling exhausted and sometimes ill, and they still have money to pay their bills in return.

We know how to have fun AND retain our sanity. Be like us 🙂

This weekend is OMGCon in Owensboro, Kentucky. OMGCon is my favourite convention to attend each year, and it is one of the ones that I am a Featured Guest at each year. I was recently asked by a first-time convention goer for some tips for the weekend, and these are tips that I would also like to share with all of you. Follow them, and achieve true bliss on each of your vacation weekends:

  1. Drink lots of water. I was going to label this “Stay hydrated”, but some of y’all think that means drink sodas, coffee, and alcohol all day. No. Water. WATER. That clear crap that fish swim around in for a living. That funny beverage that pours from your sink faucets. Yes, that stuff. It makes up 70% of your body, it keeps you alive, and it needs to be replenished. Drink cool or cold water throughout the day, especially in warmer environments. Remember: If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. If your pee is yellow, you are already dehydrated. If you take nothing else away from this post, DRINK WATER.
  2. Shower daily. This is non-negotiable. The smells of “con funk” permeate the hallways at any conference, but it is the worst at anime and gaming conventions. Personal hygiene is not a choice. It is a mandatory responsibility. Not only does it keep you healthy, but it allows you to be courteous to those around you. Honestly. Hop in the shower. Use some soap. Towel dry. Feel happy. I shower once each and every day in my daily life, and at a convention–where I am running around all day in cosplay and hugging strangers–a shower is a definite necessity. On the same vein: if your roommates smell funky, feel free to kindly advise them to go wash. Don’t suffer needlessly because of other people’s laziness.
  3. Eat ACTUAL MEALS (not just ramen). Include fruits and veggies in these meals. It’s really not hard. If you are getting a sandwich, place tomatoes and lettuce on the sandwich. Opt for a Greek yogurt instead of potato chips. Grilled over fried. Carrots over fries. Food is fuel, and you need lots of fuel to survive a convention. You wouldn’t fill your car with sludge. Don’t fill your body with it either. Eat a good (not expensive) meal twice daily for best results!
  4. Get a good night’s rest EVERY night. This means getting at least 6 hours of sleep each night (but aim for 8 hours each night). Determine your bedtime well before night hits. Let’s use Sunday checkouts for example. The checkout time at most hotels is 11am. This means that you need to be awake by 10am to wash your face, apply your makeup, put on clothes, and get your belongings out of the room. This means that you should go to bed at 2am the night before. If you are literally having the time of your life, then 4am is the absolute latest that you should be in bed. Basic math. No excuses. Sleep also helps to fight off “con crud”! Most on that later…
  5. Do a full lap around Artist Alley and the Dealer’s Hall BEFORE making any purchases. There are a lot of things to purchase at a convention. Many booths are selling the same items for differing prices. You want the lowest price, right? Do a full lap, and then decide which items you want that fit your budget. For any DVDs or Manga, I also recommend installing the Amazon app on your phone. Most DVDs that go for $50 at a convention are $25 on Amazon. I literally create an Amazon shopping cart while wandering the Dealer’s Hall, make my purchases for far cheaper than I’d spend in person, and my new items are waiting on my doorstep once I get home from the convention. Shop smarter, not harder 🙂
  6. Bring a portable phone battery charger. I highly recommend Anker-brand portable quick-charge batteries, which you can purchase by clicking this sentence. These little babies can charge your phone from zero to hero in less than an hour. My iPhone 7 gets a little more than two full charges from this battery. Charge your Anker battery at night before bed, and any chance you get. Then, while you are running around, you can recharge your phone when needed! These are also great at concerts, festivals, and theme parks. Warning: if people know you have these, they will want a charge as well! Keep your battery in your purse or pocket and charge discretely for best results!
  7. Respect others’ boundaries. Don’t leave your dirty clothes all over the hotel room that you are sharing with others. Don’t drink all of someone else’s alcohol or eat someone else’s leftovers from the fridge. And remember: cosplay IS NOT consent! Do not touch people without permission, and do not harass them for that permission!
  8. Drink responsibly. Nearly everyone drinks at conventions. I do. You do. He, she, it does. It is an ingrained part of the convention culture, to the point where many cons have 24/7 parties appearing all over the premises. Still, everyone has a limit, and everyone knows that limit. DO NOT pass your limit and force others to baby you. DO NOT pass your limit and make yourself sick. DO NOT pass your limit and get alcohol poisoning. This is extremely important if you choose to drink under 21, as your bad decisions will negatively impact both the convention’s staff members, the convention’s reputation, and the people that you traveled with. Also, make sure to eat before drinking. Soak up that booze.
  9. Quarantine yourself if ill. In reality, don’t even go to the convention if you are ill. But if you wake up with the sniffles, stay in your room. Let your roommates know this. Eat soup and drink tea. Get some sleep. Wash your hands. Spray Lysol into the air. Your goal at this point is to infect as few people as possible. Don’t be that dick who walks around knowingly sick and contributes to more people catching the “con crud” that impact every convention on Sundays. FUN FACT: Practicing steps #1-#4 helps to prevent con crud from coming to an immune system near you 😀
  10. Save the drama for yo’ mama. Conventions are for having fun. You are there with friends. Even if there are people present that you dislike, you can ignore them. If they are harassing you, let your group leader know about it. If you don’t know your harasser, tell a member of staff or a security officer. Conventions are a stress-reliever, and keeping yourself worked up all weekend does the complete opposite of that. So, take a chill pill, and have FUN!!!

When The Aerial Arts End…

As those of you who follow my social media channels know, I attended my first aerial arts class in January 2017. It was a skill I had wanted to pick up since I had first seen Troian Bellisario’s Silks photos on her Instagram page. I scooped up my friend Dominique, and we took an intro class together.

The intro class was difficult, but so much fun! We instantly signed up for a 4-week training course, which taught us the basics of Silks, Lyra, Trapeze, Pole Dance, and Rope. Silks called to me just as I’d hoped it would, and following the training course, I started attending Silks I classes, along with some Pole classes and some Yoga classes.

I constantly spoke of Silks on social media, posting photos of my latest endeavours and sharing my progress with others. Most of my June was booked with travel, and I was sad that I would miss almost a month of training. Still, Nashville (for 30 Seconds To Mars), Owensboro (for OMGCon), and Anaheim (for VidCon) were calling my name, so I set forward for a month of road trips and flights.

So, why haven’t there been any new Silks photos since then? And why have I been speaking the praises of running and HIIT routines, and posting gym selfies?

When traveling to Anaheim, I had a lot of things to carry. My super-stuffed to max-capacity duffel bag was resting on my right shoulder. My purse was also stuffed to max capacity and was looped around my right forearm. I had to help my team carry some of their luggage, so I gripped the handle of a heavy suitcase with broken wheels with my right hand and dragged/carried it through the airport. Remember the location of all of these placements, boys and girls.

Around my third night in Anaheim, I noticed that my arm was tingling. Mainly in my forearm, but a little bit of everywhere. I didn’t think much of it and went to bed. The tingling continued through the rest of the trip in varying amounts (feeling better at the start of the day and worsening by evening), and it reached it’s ultimate annoyance and pain after touching back down in Louisville one week later.

After another week, I noticed that I was having tingling in my right wrist as I typed, that lessened or worsened depending on how I positioned my arm. My immediate fear was that I was developing the dreaded carpal tunnel, and I was relived to find that my symptoms and location of the tingling were not compatible with a carpal tunnel diagnosis. Still, I put off Silks classes for another week to allow whatever was going on some time to heal.

I eventually pin-pointed the radiating point of the tingling to be in my mid-forearm of my right hand, and it would radiate down to the wrist and up through my upper arm. A chiropractor friend listen to my description of the problem and my balancing act in the airports of California, and promptly diagnosed me with a pinched ulnar nerve.

Great.

Ever since the tingling had begun, I had had the overwhelming urge to do push-ups. It felt mostly like I needed to pop” my arm back into place, which my friend advised me was a result of essentially discombobulating my entire arm with the luggage. The other feeling was that I needed to get a knife and slice my arm open to relieve pressure, but I liked the push-ups idea far better.

I decided to attend one of the Yoga classes at the aerial arts gym to see if that would help to realign my arm properly. It was difficult at times, but by the end of the class I felt much better. Score one for my instincts! I figured I would continue with the Yoga classes only for another week or so and then go back to Silks and Pole.

Wrong.

Later that night, I was having dinner with my mother when suddenly it felt like I’d been punched in the arm. The bicep and shoulder region to be more specific. For reasons unknown, I couldn’t move my right arm above the elbow without excruciating pain. Forks aren’t that deadly, y’all.

After two days of agony, I took a trip to my friend Monica, who is a massage therapist. Without even telling her where the problem was, she immediately became alarmed at how tense and tight my right bicep was, along with a good deal of shoulder tension. After a painful 15-minute massage, my arm was at least usable, and at least the pain was making me forget about the tingling from the pinched nerve.

As someone who only visits the doctor when she’s on death’s door, to this day I still have no clue what happened to my shoulder and bicep. For the rest of July and most of August, I could not lift my arm straight up or straight out without intense pain and agony. When the arm would feel better, I would wind up overusing it, and I would wind up at square one again.

Luckily as October nears, I now have most of my range of motion back, and my arm (from top to bottom) feels fairly normal. Fairly normal because it feels different than my left arm and there is still occasional tingling, so my body has probably just adjusted to the weirdities of my right arm’s plight. But I’m not using Icy Hot and massages nightly at this point.

Unfortunately, my poor diet throughout the month of June and my lack of exercise throughout June-August led to a very squishy body. I had lost all toning and had gained a good 10, maybe 15, pounds.

A rave-themed 5K was coming to Louisville at the end of August, and I made the impulsive decision to sign up for it 3 weeks before the race.

Oy vey.

I began training immediately and was surprised to find that I was in better shape than I’d expected to be in. I ran the 5K (the Night Nation Run) with my good friend Laura, who is a nutritionist and is my go-to- person for health and fitness, it was really fun and they even had glow decoration for all the participants. The 5K went amazingly, and I had also lost around 5lbs from my training.

Throughout September, I’ve been working to reform my eating habits back to a diet of veggies, soups, and fruits. I am taking vitamins again. And I’ve been running for 20 minutes per day 3-4x/week and doing HIIT workouts in my townhouse 5-6x/week. My tone is coming back. The squish is coming off. And I feel much better 🙂

Will I ever go back to Silks? Maybe. I was enjoying it a lot, but I’m pretty positive that I’ve got some sort of permanent damage in my right arm now (which is also my dominant arm, go figure), and it would be extremely dangerous if my arm decided to go out while I was at the top of a fabric.

Running and online HIIT workouts are cheaper, more organic, and easier to accomplish with friends! So for now, I’m sticking with those while on my fitness journey.

If you have any questions about learning to run, HIIT workouts, at-home workouts in general, or what not to do with your arms when you go to an airport, let me know in the comments 😀