Hi, my name is Tara, and I refuse to - as they say - "grow up".
Don't get me wrong, I was well on my way there a few years ago. I guess that if you looked at my life from the outside, knowing next to nothing about me, you'd see that I have a Monday through Friday/nine to five job, a home, a husband, a car, some pets...I pay my bills and live my life as I suppose most people my age do.
You know, except for the fact that several times a year I spend insane amounts of money traveling to conventions. And at those conventions I wear costumes that I've spent even more insane amounts of money - and hours - putting together. I spend my time at those conventions running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off - often changing costumes at least once a day, getting about ten percent the amount of sleep that I actually need, trekking from one panel to another, and schlepping around dealer rooms spending - that's right - insane amounts of money (that, let's not lie, I probably shouldn't be spending).
My life wasn't always like this, though. In fact, it all started not so long ago - 2010, to be exact - with Star Wars Celebration V. Celebration was held in Orlando that year, and because I used to live there and had several friends in the area I decided "what the hell, it's past time I went to a convention". And why not Star Wars? I've been a huge Star Wars fan since my dad first introduced me to the movies. I've read all of the Zahn, Stackpole, and Anderson novels. I've played the video games, and I was even able to throw together a quick Juno Eclipse costume.
I suppose that was the beginning of the end, for me. A single day at Celebration, and I was hooked. Unfortunately, "real life" intervened in 2011, so next up was Dragon*Con 2012 - and with my limited con experience, I never could have anticipated the sheer scope of one that is attended by tens of thousands of people and basically takes over downtown Atlanta for four days straight. It was overwhelming and exhausting...and I had the time of my life. Some of the friends who I met at D*C actually ended up being the people with whom I planned Ice & Fire Con 2013, which, being a small single-genre convention, was an entirely different animal that took over my life for the better part of seven months.
During that time period, I was also roped into attending MegaCon in Orlando. This year it was very Star Trek-focused, though it did give me my first celebrity experience. I met Michael Hogan - Colonel Tigh of BSG fame - and I have to give him props for the simple fact that when I approached him in my Starbuck costume, the first thing that he said to me was "Why aren't you in the brig?"
Though MegaCon didn't turn out to be my cup of con "tea", if you will, that one moment - or really, the several minutes I spent in Michael Hogan's presence - truly made the entire weekend worthwhile.
Once I returned home, I again threw myself into Ice & Fire Con, which happened just over a month after MegaCon. Ice and Fire Con was a perfect weekend full of great Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones discussion and themed activities...and then, before the excitement from that could even wear off, my involvement with it garnered me an offer from the powers that be at MonsterCon in Greenville, South Carolina - to help run the Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones "track", as well as attend as press.
And there you have it - somehow I went from casual convention attendee to full-blown convention participant and even organizer...in a period of about two years. I've been re-learning how to sew; my husband taught himself metal working...all in the name of cosplay. I love that one morning I can be, say, Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones...and later that day, Bonnie MacFarlane from Red Dead Redemption...then wake up the next morning for an Oz the Great & Powerful photoshoot, and follow up with a comfortable costume change into Starbuck from BSG.
If this is "not growing up", then guys...I'm all for it.
Of course, I also enjoy participating in the "serious" side of conventions. I was on the Game of Thrones: Clash of Kings panel at Dragon*Con last year, organized all of the discussion panels at Ice & Fire Con this year, and am participating in Battlestar Galactica, Song of ice & Fire, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars panels at MonsterCon this summer.
All of this has led to my blog, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube channel becoming a hodgepodge of cosplay pictures, video clips of panels, "commercials" for and updates on Ice & Fire Con, and various other posts that I suppose make me look the exact opposite of "grown up".
But the thing is, doing these things - and attending these conventions - I've had some of the best experiences of my life. I've met countless amazing people and gained many talented, fun friends. My summer is shaping up to be one of more convention planning and attending - you can find me at MonsterCon in July and Dragon*Con in August, as well as out and about on the web promoting Ice & Fire Con 2014 - and I'm looking forward to and loving every minute of it!
At this point, I can't imagine my life without the hectic planning and attending of all these conventions. So if "growing up" means giving up any of this - the costumes, the hours of discussion about the things I love most, the ability to meet people who enjoy the same things - well then, I just outright refuse to grow up.
Or maybe, rather, I just prefer to have the option of balancing a regular old life - the aforementioned job and home and husband and car and pets - with prepping for and attending as many conventions a year as is feasible.
And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this :)