Regency, Centennial, Harris, Ops, amen

At this point, it's just plain silliness: the cutting of a spare house key or the run to Kinko's for sixteen color copies. Or, as said to Suzan the other night: "We do all this planning ahead of time so that when we finally get on-site, we can walk away from our lives for nearly a week."

Yet - there are so many things that tie us here: cats to feed, bills to pay, errands to run. No, life won't end if I forget to burn a copy of all the graphic design I've done for the dragon*con large-event pregame shows this year, but it will guarantee that if one of the powers that be have last-minute issues with some of the slides we've created, we'll be able to make edits and changes without killing ourselves.

CDs for Brian, charge the cell phone's battery, clean all old photos off the camera. Make sure the boots are laced properly, do seven batches of Rice Krispie Treats, make a Sam's run, and pick up black construction paper on the way home tomorrow. Don't forget Jessica's drum, but don't put it in the car until right before leaving, because who knows what the high temperatures in the garage tomorrow afternoon will do to the wood?

Thursday is summer solstice for tech staffers: the longest, hardest, most frustrating day of the year, when suddenly we have two hotels to set up, and the trucks are pouring in equipment faster than we can handle it. The radios haven't arrived, and no one can talk between ballrooms yet. We thrash about and throw equipment and remember why we're always sore after load-in and then suddenly,


it's evening and the bands are playing and we're all sitting down backstage eyeballing the conventioneers as they trickle in and we remember why we're here.

It's not about remembering to find someone to feed the cats or bring in the mail, or passing Heather staff lists so she can make sure that she photographs everyone on tech staff, or making plans so that you bring the toaster and Jody brings the blender. It's sitting backstage at the end of the day, your muscles aching in tandem with those of your friends whom you haven't seen, fought with, or drank with in a year. You're in boots with too much metal and too high of platform and heel, and when you walk outside, your mundane little outfit is outshone by the Stormtroopers who are chasing the Jedis who are mocking the gamers who aren't able to attract the attention of any of the women walking around in their thigh-high latex boots.

Then the radio squawks "Union break!" and everyone in hearing distance runs for the pool deck. Most of the people who respond to the call of "union break!" don't even smoke, but they show up anyway, because it's what you do at three in the morning when no one remembers where the alcohol is and you can't deal with another band member asking you for just One More Little Favor without finding out if the neck of his guitar will actually wrap around his neck.

Dragon*Con is nothing like this for the twenty-five thousand people who drive and fly and ride their way into downtown Atlanta. They plot what events they'll see and what room parties they'll attend and what music they'll dance to until dawn comes. We sit behind soundboards, in faraway rooms, touching base with the four holy stations of tech staff (Regency, Centennial, Harris, Ops, amen) through radios and runners. We watch Jody's battle against the "fuckup fairy" and sling equipment until closer to dawn than midnight, when we lean against the ice machine in backstage Centennial IV because the cool, slick metal feels good against aching back muscles.

We hate the food and beg for back massages, catch catnaps in chairs and daydream while babysitting panels, and slam each other senseless over the radio knowing that every single moment is recorded and that we would rather be nowhere else than right here.

Load-in begins Thursday morning at ten a.m.
I'm bringing my aspirin and my platform boots.


Ah, Dragon*Con ... let the wonders of organized chaos begin.

and earplugs - I still have to grab a few boxes of these... I still have to beg my father to watch the kitties while I'm playing. 7 batches of Rice Krispie treats? Do you think they'll last through Friday? It's not like we're pigs or anything :D

Nicely put, Amy. Sometime during this week my brain will switch over. I'll go from last minute can-the-farm-function-without-me? preparations into the "Bring it on!" mode of Harris. The adrenalin will start to flow as I stop thinking about feed store runs and health inspections and start in on "who needs mics?" and "do we have enough VCRs?" Reading "the grids" eariler in the week started the process. It's feeling closer today. The dances of Fan-track schedules are doing their warm-up stretches in the back of my head. I'm slowly letting go of "Suzan-mode" and am headed towards a full-blown "CON-mode" by Friday night. I've always described working Dragon-Con Tech Staff as my "annual 120-hour adrenalin-rush". For an adrenalin-junkie such as myself, it's well worth every aching muscle and scanty sleep. Now how the hell am I going to get through an entire day of committee meetings discussing the land-use protocols for the East Metro Health District tomorrow?!?!

Suzan: you'll discuss land-use protocols REALLY FAST. :) Since I'll be running around this year with at least one camera, I've been gathering gear. I need to start my list, to make sure I don't forget anything important. I know it's time for Con when I start making a packing list.

Oh. it's so not fair. I don't have another Con to go to or staff until November. And I haven't been to one since like May (I have four that I work every year: DFWCon, AKon, and ItzaCon in the Dallas Area and AggieCon at Texas A&M). I keep wanting to add Dragon*con to the list, at least to go, if not for staff, but I never seem to make it there. Maybe next year.