My Arisia started months ago - I turned in over 200 pre-con hours, which is small by comparison with people who did a lot but is an order of magnitude bigger for me than ever before. Even when I was running tech I'd do a little work in the month before con and a lot of work in the week before con. But Arisia was a lot smaller in those days, too. I also went into this job assuming that the work would be pre-con. I did not anticipate that being "on call" for half the con would mean dealing with a constant stream of issues, needs, and tasks.
That said, like pre-con, my Div Head did a METRIC TON more work. We didn't have a person in charge of Souvenir Book and he took that on. We didn't have a Publications Coordinator and he and I split that job. We didn't really have a Newsletter person and he did a lot of work on that, including staying up past 3AM Monday in an effort to get the (arrived after midnight) Masquerade results edition out. Among the topics for the upcoming debrief will be "Arisia is a grown-up Con now; can we please stop using the equivalent of college dorm-room furniture for infrastructure?"
Working this much of the Con I fell back on an old adage I learned in theater: "If the audience didn't see it, it didn't happen." The number of things on fire during the running of this Con was probably less than any other year, but there were a lot of them. As Communications, I (we) didn't have to deal with most of them, but we did have to understand them in order to be alert to what was going to go down on social media and respond if called upon. I spent a lot of my con monitoring Twitter and Facebook - I was on those two systems more in the last week than in the entire year preceding.
I keep thinking I want to work less Arisia and attend more, but to be honest I really enjoyed working this time. I deliberately wore an "Ask me about Arisia" ribbon and took real joy in helping a handful of new people find their way around. It's worth remembering that a big percentage of attendees each year are new and just like I enjoy having a household that people like coming into I like being part of the team that makes a welcoming and fun event.
One notable thing I didn't do was bring my camera. I took a few cell-phone photos but I just didn't want to have another thing to lug around and wasn't sure I'd have time for. As it turned out I did make the bellydance show for the first time in three years, which I very much enjoyed. And there were a plethora of fine hall costumes, including two Pygment did. Still, I think that was a right decision on my part.
Working ate up between 50 and 80 percent of my normal social time. I spent a good deal of time hanging out in the lobby saying hi to people as they passed or finding people hanging out there to say hi to. Among them were past GOH John Scalzi who showed up unannounced to chaperone his daughter Athena, who had tweeted her plan to attend a few days before the Con. Scalzi more or less didn't move from the lobby for much of the con, sometimes working on his phone and sometimes holding court with whoever happened by. I used to attend ArmadilloCon in Austin which was a reputable hang-out for a certain circle of pro writers who just had a good time hanging around and drinking with each other. I would love to see Arisia develop more of a contingent like that.
Speaking of hanging out, we fortuitously managed to hang out Saturday night with this year's writer GoH Ursula Vernon, her husband, and a couple friends. They're excellent company - he's as funny as she is - and with luck they'll be back in future years, too. We have a standing invite to visit them if we ever make it down to North Carolina, which gives me... about one reason to go to NC. Pygment is more likely to go than I.
We did surprisingly little partying or dancing this year. The room parties we attended were nice but not really our thing. We spent some time at the staff party, which was a good place to chill with folk, and a little time at the Saturday night dance, which was disappointing. Maybe my standards have been elevated too high, but I want a good DJ set to be more than playing one disconnected "favorite tune" after another. I was finally driven out by the decision to play "Ice Ice Baby" which seemed remarkably tone-deaf in the year of Bowie's passing. By contrast, the bellydance show closed with "Rebel, Rebel" showing a lot more class, imnvho.
I was a panelist for two panels, both of which were OK. Friday night's "Navigating Nonmonogamy" was ably moderated and had a good, engaged audience but the panelists all seemed bound and determined to avoid talking about difficult issues in favor of passing off easy ideas. For example, it's great to say people should distinguish "wants" from "needs" but that's about half the problem - what about that big middle gray area where one person uses "want" and the other uses "need"? Or what about wants that come with "and if I don't get what I want..." consequences?
I also very much felt my age compared to the other panelists and much of the audience, pointing out that one of the important factors related to whether or not you introduce your other partner to your parents may be whether your parents are in good health or might need serious eldercare soon. It was pretty clear that the majority of folk in the room hadn't thought through that kind of thing.
Several people spoke to me privately to thank me for some of the things I'd said, which helped me feel better about it. I just feel like we owe it to the audience to treat their concerns and the topical issues seriously, much as I enjoy goofing with my fellow panelists.
The other panel was a small-audience discussion on geo-located gaming. It was nice to be on a panel with our Fan GoH but the panel really didn't need five people on it, particularly since we had a lot of overlap in experience (most of us being Ingress players). Here again the panel seemed to want to avoid some of the meatier issues, such as the ways that games requiring people to go into strange locations (where you might have to answer questions of curious cops) privilege whiteness.
I attended a couple of panels I wasn't on - one on WWI was very interesting but I got called out for an Arisia issue. I also got to see most of "Ursula and Kevin Eat Cheap" which was kind of a unique combination of live taste test and improv comedy show. I attended part of the Art Show opening reception but couldn't make the Artist GoH events I wanted.
Overall this Arisia gets a 6/10 from me. With better planning and foreknowledge on my part that would've been an 8/10. Live and learn.
Cross-posted from Dreamwidth, at http://drwex.dreamwidth.org/940143.html. You can comment here or there.