18 January 2011

The Meaning of MAGfest (9) (To Me [At Least])

Plenty of producers have already made VLogs, Twitter posts, and the like describing their reactions to the events at MAGfest. Me, I started writing down my thoughts even before my plane out of DC had taken off, and now it's all sort of grown into an unnecessarily long essay.

My trip to MAGfest started off poorly enough. The night before traveling I drank some milk before going to bed. The next day I discovered the milk had just gone bad, and this was why my stomach had risen up in rebellion and stirred me from my slumber. The details of the Gastronomical Revolution of January 13, 2011, are better left unsaid, and so I shall spare you of them, but the point is, my weekened started off very poorly. I had no trouble getting to the airport thanks to my roommate giving me a ride, and I breezed through security. At this point I expected I'd catch a flight to North Carolina, but instead, I was stuffed with a few dozen other people into a ten-foot diameter metal tube, which a giant punted through the air. Express flights don't exactly place passenger comfort at a high priority, evidently. So all in all, Thursday morning was pretty terrible. But I never despaired, for I knew it'd all be worth it. As each of the jets soared further north, so too did my mood, until, as I landed in Reagan National Airport, I was practically bouncing back and forth in my seat.

And as much as I had been looking forward to attending MAGfest for the months preceding it, reality easily hurdled my expectations, as if they had been no higher than an inch off the ground. As soon as I walked into the hotel I ran into Todd in the Shadows (who, unsurprisingly, recognized me before I could him), Paw Dugan, Pushing Up Roses, and JesuOtaku. The brief exchange of handshakes and hugs that followed immediately made the trip worth it for me. And then there was reuniting with LordKaT, and Skitch, and the Critical Marine; and then there was meeting Welshy and Sad Panda and JewWario and Linkara and Iron Liz. And I think at that point Rollo T arrived and we went up to our room.

Holy shit does that hotel need like eight more elevators. Elevators like twice as big as the ones they've got now. In fact they should've just had those super-fast tubes from The Jetsons. Climbing seventeen flights of stairs is Hell. Actually, I take that back. Hell is constantly climbing stairs in seventeen-flight increments while dozens of sweaty drunk men shout "OOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUGH" in your ear for eternity.

And as much of a pain as it was on a couple nights trying to sleep through Chris's snores (Dude sounds like a handsaw digging into the flesh of a sick duck. Made of chalkboards.), he was a great roommate and friend, as I expected of him.

And then there were all the OTHER people there still to meet. Luke Mochrie and Obscuras Lupa and Nash and Lee and Dena and Sean and god damn I'm going to forget to mention someone, I just know it. I think Spoony and Scarlett were the last people I met associated with the site. Not to mention all the wiki team members. Jesus there were so many people there, I'm feeling nostalgic already writing this. A small little highlight was meeting Drama Librarian, the first and I think only fan I've met that I was at least somewhat familiar with beforehand.

And you know what they say, all good things must come to an end, and come to an end this...very very VERY good thing has. I can vividly remember all the moments I wasn't having a good time, for many a reason, but by far the worst thing about this trip is the feeling of sadness that it's over now. I'm now back in my apartment in my college town, touching up this meandering bit of work, and I have to deal with real life again. Classes, and preparing for graduation, and figuring out what to do with my life AFTER graduation. I'm back in the south, and my heart's sunk back to its usual, lowly position.

Oh how emo that sounds, but fuck if it isn't true.

For almost exactly seventy-two hours I got to talk face-to-face with all the people I can normally only speak to through Skype. Many of the people I met I hadn't even done that with. I get the feeling, from the posts they've made online, that a lot of the newer talent on the site experienced some initial awkwardness getting to know people; I can hardly blame them - outside the small group that attended MAGfest 8 I was meeting everyone there for the first time myself. I believe I successfully hid my nervousness by raising my voice and interjecting obnoxious non sequiturs into conversations as frequently as possible.

Seriously, looking back my only worry is that people will think I'm a jerk. I was overexcited a lot of the time, and a few times I got pretty wound up.

Every time I got to have a conversation with somebody I'd never met before, I found myself thinking that they were cooler than I'd predicted. I don't know if it's just the difference between how we act in front of the camera and how we are in real life, or what. Or hell maybe I'm just a pessimist. I really wish I'd gotten to know a few of the people there better, but with so many people attending, and with so many of them running around, it just didn't happen. But if I managed to so much as exchange a few sentences with a person that I'd rarely spoke to before, it was enough to make me regret not having done so sooner. I overcame a lot of my shyness when I was still in high school, but I'm still quite a recluse, and I have a difficult time getting out and introducing myself to people. Merely being at MAGfest was enough of a push to initiate conversations with all these wonderful people, so many of whom I'd never had the nerve to up and start talking to. If nothing else, this experience has taught me that I don't have any reason to feel that way, and that I was paranoid for ever feeling that way. And it also made me realize that I should really come up with more reasons to see, or at least speak with, the friends I have here at home, too.

So of course I'll miss all the contributors I met in Alexandria, VA. I'll miss the fans too. But I really need to stop being such a stranger to so many people out there. This year I met a lot of people who I previously considered distant acquaintances. Now I consider them friends that I won't get to see all that often. But that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't speak to them more often. So to everyone who made my trip possible, and made it so enjoyable, thank you for making this hairy, out-of-shape nerd who riffs on black and white comics feel so loved. I hope to see all of you many more times in the future.

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