(While I'm on the topic please if you have any thoughts about the con in general or specific things please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org - this input is taken seriously and can be influential.)
I had, overall, a good con. I saw a lot of people I like to see, met a few new great people, did a job I enjoy doing, stayed up late doing the sorts of things one does when staying up late at cons. At the same time I'm having a rough re-entry. Insomnia last night might be related. I have a lot of regrets about things I missed or did not get to do - those are likely exaggerated and will fade with time, but right now they're looming large in my mind.
This was the first time sweetmmeblue worked a significant position for Arisia and it caused some bumps and bruises. New experiences are learning experiences; we both enjoy working for the con and being part of the team that puts on this awesome show and we're learning how to do that better. I'm already plotting what job I'd like to apply to do for Arisia 2017 and might even have found a new sucker ... err, volunteer to take on my job that I feel safe and comfortable turning things over to.
Kid-wrangling was complex and doesn't easily fall into pro/con. Both kids worked this year, running games and Thing 2 put in some shifts volunteering. We gave them a lot more independence but it wasn't completely successful. There were also some significant losses that are going to cause headaches and Thing 2 pretty consistently failed some of his promised responsibilities. Nothing exploded and no one died, but it wasn't the easy ride I would've liked.
- Meeting in person someone I've known online for a while and developing a remarkably intense crush. To say this was the highlight of the social part of my con would not be far wrong. We went from shaking hands to spending most of an evening cuddling and a lot of talking and hanging out in a remarkably short period. (They're welcome to identify themselves if they want.)
- Getting to re-do the Poly 301 (Poly when the Shit Hits the Fan) panel. It was my sole paneling item this year and I think it went OK. Not as great as last year, but responses were good and I had great co-panelists.
- Getting to see part of the bellydance show. I'd missed it last year due to panel conflicts and it's my favorite performance part of Arisia.
- Drinks at Arisia was lovely. It was a chance to sit and have real conversations with several friends (even though some invitees couldn't come) and sample tasty alcohol. I also got to share a fine dessert with ricevermicelli, one of my favorite people whom I don't see often enough.
- Helsinki/San Juan. Worldcon vs. NASFIC. Two destinations I'm not that likely to get to otherwise. Helsinki's party was excellent, too. Both events being run by people I know and would be happy to support. I also like that neither one is a typical American or European city. I think this bodes well for SF/F in general and I hope I can figure out the logistics and financing to get to one or the other.
- In-room food. We packed a number of quick and good protein choices, and brought a microwave. That led to some comedy with car-stuffing and more than a bit of grumbling about the amount of weight to carry but it was great to have quick options.
- Con food. Both Green Room and Con Suite outdid themselves this year. Real food (protein! vegetables! gluten-free and dairy-free options!) in decent quantities at lots of hours.
- Clothing! I overpacked outfits and had a blast wearing them. We dressed up (me in tails and kilt) for the Art Show reception and we got 12-15 of our friends also to dress up. I totally think this should be a thing and we should do it more. Frankly, I have a lot of friends who just look SMASHING good in finery and there should be more excuses to look smashing good. I also got to wear a skirt for parties one night and I managed (FINALLY) to pick up some clothing I'd ordered at King Richard's Faire this past fall. All my outfits got compliments and were fun and comfortable to wear.
- GoH 1. The art GoH is a wood turner and I went to one of her demos. Lots of fun, even though I know most of this stuff from my dad's turning. Pygment sent Dad several cellphone shots of interesting woodwork.
- GoH 2. Scalzi (he prefers that to "John") was a very good Guest of Honor. I enjoyed talking to him at various social events. I made it to a couple parts of panels he was on (see above about on-call job) and was front-row guinea pig for his reading. He nearly made me snarf, and I got to give him a Backup Project ribbon. He read a new thing that we were asked not to talk (too much) about so I had to be careful constructing my tweets.
- Pronoun ribbons (added thanks to prompt from mizarchivist. If you know me or read me regularly you'll know I'm a cis male who's comfortable with his gender presentation (in or out of a skirt). This year I made a point of putting on a pronoun ribbon choosing traditional male pronouns (he/him/his). I ran into several other cis-males who were similarly beribboned and got to share the notion that it's important for us to do this because we all want to live in a world where cis-male-ness isn't the unspoken default. We all want it to be a valid choice among many valid choices and hope that when people see us declaring this choice they'll stop and realize it's not a (good) default assumption.
- I missed a number of my friends' programming items that I really wanted to attend. Some of those were due to my having to do a job that means I'm on-call and get paged out several times a day during the con. Some of it was due to my not having solved the "how to be in more than one place at a time" problem. Some of it was due to communication or planning snafus. And some was due to things just falling out of my brain. Plan more carefully next time; have a less interrupt-driven job.
- Aforementioned crush lives on another continent. No, really.
- Having only two panels, one of which was ridiculously placed (photographing costumes placed opposite the masquerade) resulting in exactly ZERO audience. Really. See above about choice words to say to feedback@. I know I'm not alone in getting exactly two panel assignments, which itself feels... grr. When panelists get a comp reg for three programming items and the con gives out two items to a lot of people while others have 5-8 items that is aggravating. I don't myself need the comp - my hours worked this year were 24 pre-con and I think 26 at-con so I'm going to get a comp for next year. But I talked to more than a few people whose major contribution to Arisia is appearing on panels and found they'd also gotten two items. I respect and encourage the desire to have new and more diverse voices on panels. But this feels like a sort of halfway measure that ends up aggravating more people than necessary.
- Not being able to stay for the full bellydance show. I had pre-arranged Drinks At Arisia far before the program came out and there just wasn't an easy way to rearrange it.
- the hotel didn't have silly SF-themed drinks in the bar. The drinks we did get were fine but dammit.
- I didn't make any of the dances this year. I'm not a regular club-goer so I enjoy the chance to hear club music and dance with friends when it presents itself (see this past New Year's Eve) but somehow there was always something else I wanted to do and didn't make the dance. Including being a Goddamn Adult and going to bed at 01:30 rather than staying up extra-late like I could've.
Looking back over this list I can see that the good things are clearly more numerous and weighty than the bad things. I just need to get some good sleep and I suspect I'll see the con in a different light.