DragonCon 2017

So this year, we went to DragonCon as volunteers for MechCorps.

Firstly, this is apparently the 'hardest' convention I've been to.  As we were loading in the Battletech pods on Thursday, the day before the pop culture convention even opened, people were walking in the streets in cosplay.  This is cool and all, but within the first three hours of just unloading, someone was already carted off in an ambulance.  I recall hearing no less that four throughout the convention.  Whether or not it was from the convention, I don't know.

For MechCorps, this is a hard enough convention.  The fact they were located in Houston during Hurricane Harvey made it no easier on them.  Staffing that convention, it is optimal to have at least six people on staff for a shift.  There are three shifts which rotate at 6 hour intervals.

We drove from Louisville, Kentucky because two of the staffers were family.  My daughter and father-in-law.  The rest were friends.  Two locals volunteered to help.  One couple, who go damn near every year, their house as flooded badly.  Four people were taking flights, which were delayed or cancelled completely (and let's be honest, if your flight is delayed, you miss a lot of the convention...all because the runways were literally flooded out).  One guy and his two cats had to be rescued, and although they were taken to safety, his house stood in six inches of water.

But....at MechCorps in DragonCon 2017, all tips, cash and digital, were collected to help out our MechCorps volunteers that didn't make it with us.  We flew the Texas flag proudly. Although my family lives in Louisville, Kentucky, I don't think you'll ever get the Texas out of us.

I wasn't on shift when two women got hit by chairs while walking on the street, but one of the regulars was there (at DragonCon, there are some people which come to the convention solely to play Battletech on the VR simulators, the rest is kind of good background).  I did, however, go to the costume parade, which was insanely crowded.  We were right by the door to go upstairs and see the parade from where the pods were, but we went downstairs instead, my husband putting his niece on his shoulders (because his sister lives near Atlanta, Georgia and wanted to come out and see the family).  But as soon as I went to fetch something from the pod bay, I came downstairs and there was a guy on his side, throwing up.  From alcohol poisoning or having an epileptic seizure, I couldn't tell you.

The intensity didn't come from beating the concrete floor for six hours mostly on my feet, nor the hawking in calling out pilot names, but really from the lack of sleep.  Hiking three city blocks isn't bad, even though it's hilly in Atlanta.  It's the limited allotment of sleep (yeah, you get 12 hours, but in that 12 hours off, for people who need 9 hours of sleep, how much time does that give you to seek out things in the convention, or even find a place to eat on foot?).  It's rather grueling.  But it's a labor of love.

What most people do not understand is that when they call us Vols, we are volunteers.  We do it because we love the game and we love the people.  Hell, some of us don't play the game for the most part, and Vol just because we love the people.  The owners do not run it to turn a huge profit.  They run it for the love of it, because they want to share the game with players, young and old.  The pods are old enough to drink, and they require a lot of maintenance.  Frames brake.  Chassis break. Rio boards give out.  Joysticks come loose.  The pods take damage being moved to and fro.  This is a lot of work, but it's a labor of love for most of us.

I am blessed we got to go, double-blessed that we got to see family, and triple blessed that the people we work with are amazing.

Will I do it again?  If I have the opportunity.  Hopefully.  Don't know how much longer we can take the physical abuse it takes to do it, but ...again...a labor of love.  Hopefully, everyone will make it next year

I didn't get to take many pictures because my younger daughter absconded with my phone, but hopefully those that went with me will contribute photos to the public facebook album that I made.

So....just remember...if you loved MechWarrior, you'll probably love Battletech.  And that these guys aren't in it for the money, they do it because they want to share the game.  Charging for the game helps maintenance and repairs, pays for HQ in Houston, and gives a little bit of capitol to make some cool nose art and buy pins and patches to make them available to everyone.


a twenty dollar burger

I've been sick as a dog today.  Probably coming down with a cold or flu or something.  I haven't eat much and I had to go into work.

After about six hours on my feet dipping and coating caramel and candy apples, I took a break and went down to a prolific, world-wide chain for a burger.  I ate sparingly, as I have to do with the surgery, and boxed the rest of it up to go.  

Walking back to work a couple of doors down, an old black man with a walking cane stopped me.  "Hey miss, I'm homeless," he said softly, "you mind sharing some of that burger with me?"

"Dude, do you want it?  You can have the whole thing.  I only cut off part of it."

He was surprised.  "Uh, you don't want it?  Sure!"  He happily took the Guinness Bacon Burger (with most of the fries) off my hands.

So....uh, with the tip I left, a burger and sweet tea there was $26.00 (ouch).   I ate 1/4 of the burger, which I cut up and ate with a fork and knife.  I still had my tea.

Maybe I didn't get to eat all of the expensive meal, from being sick and from the surgery.  I didn't need to.  But I feel okay knowing that someone who might not have eaten that day had a meal.



There are two worlds which overlap that our minds perceive.

The first is the one that everybody wants to see.  The rainbows, the unicorns, the magical land of fae.  Where dreams come true, where there is light and joy and happiness.  It's filled with color, brightness, warmth and hope.

Then there's that Other Place.  The place of darkness, of sorrow, of pain, despair and hopelessness.  The place where demons and dragons are real, ready to eat you at a moment's notice.  Where if you try to hide in the dark, something is going to get you.

And sometimes, it does.

I learned yesterday that the child of a friend of mine I've known since high school committed suicide.  Honestly, I can't remember her age, save for the fact she's younger than my youngest daughter, which puts her at 13-14 years old. 

It's tragic.  Some kids mature faster than others, true, but at 14.....you don't know what potential life has yet.  You're trapped in a situation you have no ability to change, you can only ride through it.

But once you turn 18, your whole life unfolds before you.  You can make it go any direction you wish.  And it's such a short, short time.

At the age of 18(ish), there's discovery.  You're able to break free and go exploring.  Wherever, whatever you want, if you have enough desire and determination.

It hurts my heart so bad.....at 14....that this young girl felt like she was in so much pain, she just wanted it to stop and she felt like she had no one to turn to, no one to talk to.  I get that.  

But....killing yourself?  It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  "This too shall pass."  "Enjoy the good times, because they are fleeting.  And when you are in the bad times, remember, they can't last forever."

But she'll never have any chance to see past the 'bad times' in her life.  Because she's gone.

And there were a lot of people she could have talked to.  They put her in therapy.  I don't know if she was on meds, if meds perhaps made her do it.  but depression is a fucking liar - you can't listen.  You can't let those things in the shadows gobble you up.

If you really feel you don't have anyone you can talk to, really, think about calling or texting someone who is removed from the situation - someone objective to really listen.  Click here for more information.

I know it's about you, but if you're to the point you don't give a damn about yourself, you need to remember that there are people who love you and care about you, whether you know it or not.  Even people who really don't know you because nobody should ever be to the point where they are in that kind of pain that they want to take their own life.  Life is so precious.  Please...please talk to someone.  Anyone.


Who died and make you king of anything?

So I've been on my job less than two weeks, but the boss is leaving for a business trip.

The timing is probably the worst.

I moved a few months ago to Louisville, Kentucky, and it's cranking up for 'Derby Season'.

I'm not familiar with this event, but it's apparently when the entire city loses it's collective mind.  At least for a month,  They kicked off last weekend with pre-Derby partying.  I work in a high-traffic tourist area, so it's been crazy-busy.  To give you an example, the parking garage I usually park in is $15 dollars a day and was 'open' all weekend (for free, goddamnit - supposedly they're going to get me a badge to get in and out and the company is supposed to pay for it), and going into work yesterday morning, someone must have been so drunk they pissed in the garage elevator, because it reeked of urine and disinfectant...

(Let me reiterate....the boss, knowing this, did not seem to want to do anything to weasel out of this trip,,,,I would have, knowing my store was going to be rockin'....)

Anyway, although the boss's woman works there (they're not married, but they just recently had a kid together) and knows more than the collective brain cells (besides the boss) in that entire place, they flew a manager in to babysit me while this was going on.

Mind you.....I do have a lot of retail experience,  I've been very slow trying to talk with the boss in the past week and a half, working on little things that probably need to change in the back end for accountability and minimizing loss of product, so I get introduced to this guy yesterday.

Automatically, he starts going over 'what's wrong' in the store. Dude, I know 'what's wrong' with what I'm looking at, I haven't really had any time to start working towards fixing that, for fuck's sake.  Telling me that basically the next two weeks, I'm his and it's now 'insert-company-name' bootcamp and he's going to 'teach me the right way to do things'.

I get it,  You're enthusiastic.  You come from further up north, so your temperatures on your cooking aren't going to be applicable here as easily.  But by all means, try it,  If you can handle the crew in such a way you get them snapping in tune, fan-fucking-tastic,

But please....don't get pissed that I call your 'sir' when you're supposed to be the boss of me.  Don't talk down to me as if I have never had a retail experience in my entire life,  Don't treat me like you're some kind of golden child miracle worker and I am a grovelling, snivelling infantile idiot that has to be spoon fed information.  

That being said, lead the fuckin' way.  There's the podium and sceptre.

Besides that....I'm not going to bitch about my hours, because I'm enjoying my job thus far.

But he makes me want to pull his dreads out one by one, I assure you,



Some days are good, some days are bad.  

What happens when there get to be more bad days than good?  Why, they put you on meds.  And it doesn't really solve anything, it just makes it bearable, and you're addicted and have another added expense to your cost of living.

It's okay.  Nobody generally gets to see the mess.  In fact, most people don't realize it exists.  Which is good, I guess?  That makes a person 'high-functioning' with whatever they're diagnosed with.

But I don't think I was ever diagnosed with anything.  Just given a handful of pills to go along with what ails me.

So, nobody really knows.  Nobody saw me burst into anxiety and tears when I realized as my husband was leaving for work, that I didn't make his lunch and he didn't have time to.  Generally, women do that when they're scared about the repercussions of that lack of action. Not me - I was just truly distressed that he was going to have to find something else and that it wasn't set in stone he was going to eat during his lunch break this evening.  Literally burst into tears.  Which is juvenile at best, but probably a good indicator as to how unstable I feel.

And somehow he feels that repeating, "It's okay.  It's fine.  It's going to be all right," is somehow a soothing Mantra.  Sometimes I feel like he is really trying to convince me, other times I feel like it is something he is asserting because he thinks I'm feeling like the world will fall to pieces if he doesn't say it and it's a chore for him to do so.  Oddly, it's all of those things.  And it drives me crazy (or, maybe crazier than I already am?).

But it's time to 'go make the doughnuts'.  Or in my case, sweets.  It's odd......cooking and serving candy to pay my bills.  I just find it amusing.

The pods

One of the hobbies I've picked up along the way was Battletech.

I don't play the tabletop.  Hell, I don't even play the PC game.  None of those stupid copy cats like Mech Assault and stuff.  Grand Ole Battletech in Pods.

When my husband and I were first together, living on our own, we both worked in the mall, Memorial City Mall to be specific.  I worked at a place that's still around called Spencer's Gifts and my husband worked at Exhilarama, which was the old arcade place.  You can totally laugh about that.  We were married teenagers, working in the mall.  He was part of the distinctive team that worked in what looked like a small military-styled bunker, covered in camo.  He wore a (sexy) black jumpsuit, combat boots, and played on a computer all day - pushing both geeky kids and adults alike into giant black boxes, shutting a door, and immersing them in a VR setting of a pilot console controlling giant robots to blow each other (and sometimes themselves) up in pretty spectacular ways.  At this time, this was the cutting edge of VR gaming, with a whole slew of stars casting in the 'training videos', from Cheech Marin to Judge Rhinehold, and several other stars that were popular at the time.  

Fast-forward somewhere like 25 years later.

My husband finds this group in Houston called MechCorps.  I don't really pay much attention at first, but then I get to the point where, well, our kids are growing up fast, and I want to have other commonalities with my husband - things we can do together.  We've spend most of our lives together raising kids, so focused on it, that we have rarely had time to ourselves.  Before we know it, we'll only have one another, so ....kind of only good to have common interests, right?  

Firstly, I'm not a sci-fi person at all.  Really. I think that might have to to with the technobabble which comes along with it.  Some people really dig that kind of thing, and speculate on how to create it for reals (think about this...remember when Star Trek the next generation debuted?  They walked around...doing their work on hand-held tablets....now we have a whole generation of zombies...doing work and games...on handheld tablets...).  I was more engrossed by stories than anything else.  So beating around that bush, the idea was that I went because I wanted to spend time with my husband, I really didn't give too much of a shit about the game itself.

Um, truth be told, really....I still don't.  I can't tell you the difference between the Madcat and Timberwolf (aren't they the same mech?  Depending on what side of the alliance you're on, right?  Freeborn or canned, I can't remember which).  Or how many chassis the game offers (but I think there's 172 variants?).  Hell, I can't even remember how to unjam the guns and missiles when you're sitting in the cockpit.

But I still went with him, and I found something even more cool than the game itself.

I found the people that run it.

This game runs about every Saturday night from 6 pm to midnight.  They generally announce when they're open and when they're not in town, but that's part of the fun of being in the MechCorps crew.  We were there a lot.  We learned about the way the system was set up (probably more the husband than me, I learned more of the gruntwork of moving and setting up), and the nights that MechCorps was closed, generally, it was because either they couldn't find someone to run the game or they were out of town for the conventions they go to.

Yeah.....these guys tour.  Like damn rockstars.....

So in hanging out with these people, learning about them, getting to know them and how awesome they are, we volunteered to help out with conventions.  They gave us 'easy ones' first, and then we started hitting the road locally with them.  It's kind of cool, because really, they need the help.  You volunteer.  Which means you help pack everything up, you catch a ride, you set everything up.  You work a 'shift' daily during convention and then you get the rest of the time to yourself.  They even put you up in a hotel (but be forewarned, they cram 6 people to a hotel room sometimes - you're there to work so it's barracks style sleep.  You share a bed or you bring an air mattress).  So...it's like getting to go to a convention free.

But the kicker is this: you gotta be a cool person.  You gotta be dependable.  And they gotta like you.

I think we were fortunate enough that even though my husband and I have personalities that are almost like night and day, they kind of found us interesting and dependable.

I know this sounds like a shameless plug for MechCorps.  It kinda is.  They're kinda wonderful people.

the blahs

So my first day was Last Friday and my first day off was today.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be."

I spent 3/4ths of the day in my PJs, playing Neverwinter on my brand new Xbox One that my amazing husband decided it was okay to buy after the PS3 finally gave up the ghost.  It made me sad, but so far, the trade-out is okay.

I don't have all the accessories and I don't know too much about the platform.  It's the fist time I've ever had anything of the Xbox franchise.  Not too bad....just wanting to learn more about it.  I'm still sore from work on and off, but today I definitely had Nintendo Neck and case of Hard Ass from sitting in one spot for too long, playing the damn game.  But It was nice to be just a vegetable.  My friends are limited and I don't want to pester the three that I feel the closest too - and I'm sure that the husband and kid are really getting tired of looking after me.

Yesterday I had a very heart-wrenching moment at work.  Humming along, selling fudge, joking around with the kids as I learned new stuff, and a small group of Latino-descent individuals came in.  In that group was a guy carrying a long rectangular box.  The sight of that box made my heart sink to my toes.

It was an innocent moment.  This family came in to get some fudge on what amounts to Sixth Street in Austin or maybe the Kemah boardwalk.  It's a tourist trap with fun places to eat and things to buy.  And amidst it all, I wanted to cry some.  I didn't....but I wanted to.

Anyway, the box was imprinted with Louisville Slugger - a personalized wooden bat.  When I saw it, I instantly thought of my Dad.  That's what made me sad.  That's what gave me a fleeting moment of utter heartbreak.  Because it's something that I Would have gotten him or Christmas, and It's something he would have really loved.


All that was from Yesterday, actually...the 25th.

I don't think I feel much different today.

I got to work today, so eager to get there and start into it that I forgot my badge to clock in.  I called my husband, who didn't have to go in until 2, and he brought me my badge at 10:30a.  I felt really bad, because I know that even though I told him to go back to bed, just like he replied, he wouldn't be able to sleep anyway.

So I brought him home a caramel apple.

Sometimes I don't know if the meds that I take are working any.  Today, I feel that the extent of my life goals will be something close to making sure that I can get cremated after death without burdening anyone financially and being able to survive if my husband dies before I do.  I'm stupid at math, so going back to school is probably something that I'm never going to do, which means that the 'most successful' in life I will be will always be middle management in retail sales.  I'm not all that bright, I'm not ambitious, and I'm not a 'gold-digger' type.  I'm not one of those women who view all other women as competition (there are a lot more of those than most people realize....).

I think I can live with that.

The trade off is adventure, I think.  I've done more, been more, and seen more than a lot of people in their entire lifetime, so for that, I'm thankful.  

Mainly, I think about how much of a bother I am to everyone, or could be.  It costs to live.  It certainly costs to hang out with friends outside of the home and then, you know, people wrestling with tabs.  That sort of thing.

I need to start paying into a cremation service, like my sister did.  Like my mother has done. That way they can take care of everything but where to put my ashes.  Minimal inconveniences.