Do You Have Angst?: May 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mayday: New York!

I’m not completely certain what happened to the month of May. I think it’s under a pile of dusty calendars and broken clocks. What started with Demicon and ends with ConQuesT also included several business trips to the west coast, my daughter’s high school graduation in the Midwest and my son’s college graduation in New York that I just returned from this week. Whew!

Our five-day adventure to New York included a great amount of excitement, tested all of my patience, and included some really good family time. My wife and I, our daughter and all four grandparents all flew out to see my son graduate. It was a lot of work, and I can honestly say went better than I could have hoped.

Wednesday night we enjoyed an incredible meal at Bar Americain. My mother-in-law is a great fan of Bobby Flay, and now I am too. We spent most of Thursday at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, something my mom had always wanted to do. It was amazing, and worth every effort to visit. Friday we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it shouldn’t be a surprise we spent most of our time checking out arms and armor. That night we had dinner at Benjamin Steakhouse where I shared a steak for two with my son. It was that serious, and that incredible. The entire trip was really about Saturday and seeing James receive his diploma, in the same week my daughter received her high school diploma. I’ve got amazing kids and I have no doubt they will both do much better than their dream-ridden father. We finished the trip by seeing Wicked on Broadway. It was my first time seeing the musical, and was the best live performance I’ve ever experienced.

Aside from my son’s commencement, I had some favorite moments. I really enjoyed people watching in Times Square at night with my wife. It was a little less crowded (a little), we weren’t rushed so we could just sit and enjoy the view. You see everything from international tourists taking selfies to half-naked street performers (I even made a new friend for only $5). I also enjoyed going out early in the morning before things started happening, when the square was almost empty, and you could breathe. That was nice. There is also a certain pride from the people who live there that I really appreciate. When I told the doorman at our hotel that my son had graduated from Fordham, he smiled, nodded, and said, “That’s a fine school,” almost as if he was a founder of the university.

The trip was great, but honestly, I find New York to be a challenge. I overheard an older person on Times Square say this was the most people he’d ever seen there. Yup, me too. It was an almost constant overcrowded sea of people rushing in different directions. I’m not claustrophobic, except in New York. Whether on the sidewalk, in a store, or on the subway, it was always elbow to elbow. Unfortunately, I have found courtesy and good humor to be the exception in New York. A security guard at The Met threatened a throw down because my parents were sitting on the stairs…where everyone else was sitting. On the other hand, a nice man serving water at Wicked shared how he had performed in My Fair Lady at Starlight. The few times I’ve been to NY, it has felt like there are a lot of angry people. But what do I know, maybe there are just more people, period.

The culture shock isn’t just the experience of traveling to New York, it’s also coming home. The parking attendant at the airport wished me a nice day, I didn’t hear any honking cabs on the drive home, my man cave is pleasantly devoid of people, and it doesn’t cost $15 to refill my drink. It’s quiet…too quiet. I look at my June calendar, and it’s shockingly empty. What am I supposed to do without all of the people, without all of the noise, and with all of this free time…write a book?

Monday, May 9, 2016

About that Demicon 27

Flying the Brass Falcon
I tend to pack waaaay too much into my days of late, and I’m sure that will slow down when I retire, but probably not. Aside from some long hours and traveling for my day job, I’ve been planning a family trip to New York to see my son graduate from college. This trip not only includes my wife and daughter, but my parents and in-laws. It’s going to be a great adventure. I’m also doing some (all) house repairs in preparation of my daughter’s High School graduation party. (Needless to say, I’m a very proud dad.) I’m also building an arc reactor for my Iron Man suit to be the hero this nation needs, and I’m going to lose 20 pounds in the next month...but not really. Oh, yeah, and I’m also writing a book! It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been overwhelmed and stressed and haven’t had a lot of David time. It happens, it will pass, and I really have a lot to be grateful for...all at once. Demicon 27 couldn’t have come at a better time.

I attend some cons with the hope of selling books and marketing myself. They are a different kind of beast and well worth the effort, but it’s a lot of effort. At the end of the day, I still have the pleasure of meeting some amazing people, but it’s not a party or a getaway. It’s my understanding that there are several cons George RR Martin attends somewhat regularly. In my five years of attending ConQuesT in Kansas City, he’s been there twice. Once as a guest, and once as not a guest. I like to think that he attends, more or less, to have fun. That’s what Demicon is to me.

When Cristi and I went to our first Demicon in 2013, we didn’t know what to expect. There is no advertisement that says, “Come to our con, you’ll sell a ton of books and meet 50 amazing people!” It is hosted at a nice enough Holiday Inn. They squeeze 20 or so vendors into a room about the size of a Tahoe, and knee-to-knee we wondered what we were doing there. That first day, everyone looked at us like non-nerds would look at aliens. “I see a gorgeous young 20-year-old in a chainmail bikini and an old dude who is obviously not her dad. He’s trying to sell me a book. Approach with caution. She’s really pretty. Approach closer, but still with caution.” We didn’t sell many books.

That night, we hit room parties. Half of the top floor was filled with everything from amazing cosplayers to cardboard knights. Cristi was her approachable self, and everyone was excited to take pictures with her. I was good at drinking. In short, we were very welcomed and had a great time. The next day, we sold more books than any con I had attended to date. It took me awhile to realize what had happened, I’m slow like that. This con is a family, in a way, and once they realized we were there with good intentions, they became supportive.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Whitlatch
This sentiment was very much reflected by their guest of honor this year, my friend Adam Whitlatch. It’s well deserved, Adam is an accomplished author of many well received, well reviewed books. I highly encourage you to buy his books. I thought it was very cool of Demicon to make him GoH! He’s a pretty young author, in the sense that he has only published a handful of novels, and I felt like the con was supporting someone who is a part of their family. I couldn’t be more impressed!

Demicon is a convention I would love to bring all of my friends to, but not really. I’m a little selfish in that regard. This year it’s the one con that only Cristi and I are attending. She’s my best friend, and the adventure couldn’t have come at a better time for me! One of my favorite stories from this con was the hotel room. Drake Relays was the same weekend, and the Holiday Inn was mostly booked when I called, all they had was a suite. When we walked into the room, Cristi said, “This is nice, there’s a microwave and a fridge and...David, there’s only one bed.” Being the helper that I am, I placed my hands behind my head and said, “Oh, yeahhhhh.” I let that hang out there for several awkward moments before explaining I would sleep on the hide-a-bed. I’m grateful she gets my sense of humor!

We were late getting there on Friday, something I don’t usually do, and hit the room parties casual. (That means Cristi wore jeans and comfortable shoes instead of platform thigh highs and booty shorts.) Several asked about her lack of costume, but it was small talk and many were just happy to see us. The next day we did our thing in the dealer room, attended the room parties in “traditional garb”, and slept well. The weekend flew by, and it was so good to see everyone. That’s the thing about Demicon. This con isn’t about book sales. I sell books, but I feel like it’s old friends being supportive. This con is very much about seeing so many people I like.

If you live within driving distance of Des Moines, I highly recommend you check out this awesome convention. It’s small, friendly, welcoming, and once you go, you’ll never want to miss one!

You can find pictures from Demicon 27 on my Facebook page!