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You're already home if you feel loved

I've wanted to write up something about VVC since I got back, but between being busy and not knowing how to say what I want to say, it's been impossible. This week has been insane and won't stop being that way until after tomorrow, and I would really like to put the finishing fixes to my Club Vivid vid, but I just have to get through until tomorrow and then I can work on it.



Wednesday and Thursday
I guess it's just easier to write about it day to day. I decided this year I didn't want to fly out in the early morning, which is the only time you can really leave here and expect to do anything during the day, so I went with a modified red-eye plan (the red-eye was good to some degree, but really screws up the cycle) and left here in the evening on Wed. night, getting in after midnight there. I had hoped to spend Thursday with a friend, but she was on vacation, so I ended up just kind of drifting around. I had been unable to sleep on Wed night, not sure why, and I didn't fall asleep until it was time to get up, so I begged off all the phone calls about doing things and slept until 1 (well, to me it was only 11).

It was kind of interesting watching people arrive; whenever someone came into the Lobby of Joy* who knew Sandy, there would be this moment of connection when we hugged, and I think I hugged more people for longer than I ever have before. I think we were all in this space of "she's really not here, is she?" as if we wanted to look around for her, listen for her laugh, but knew we wouldn't find her.

Thursday evening I'd scheduled a dinner with [profile] devilpiglet, one of my favorite people in all of fandom, and she is just as brilliant, witty, funny, and gorgeous as she seems online. I had a great time talking with her, and saying hi to people as they came by our table at House o' Meat. That was really what I needed, to talk to someone about stuff other than the usual, and it was a really good way for me to move into the headspace of being at a con. That always takes me a while to adjust to; there have been times I went early to a con and then avoided everyone because I wasn't ready to move into that mindset.

I missed registration, so I stopped in at the Welcome Newbies gathering about halfway through, managing to step in just as Shoshanna was talking about Sandy. I did all right through most of it until the end when they talked about Sandy and her presence at the con and that there were printouts of her well-known icon that people could stick on their badges, and then I lost it, sitting in the back of the room weeping. When I finally got up and collected myself a little, I saw [personal profile] cesperanza and [personal profile] fan_eunice and some other friends, and then we kind of congealed into a hugging, holding mass, and [personal profile] par_avion came over and put my head on her shoulder, and we all kind of flopped around and stood together, talking about everything. At that moment, I realized for the first time that I had a found family.

I have a huge kink for found families, which I think is why I loved Buffy and Firefly and Community so much. I don't have much of a family of my own, and most of it is gone now, which leaves me very lonely most of the time. Cesca said that this wasn't so much the con of vids this year as it was about family, that we needed a place where we could tell someone we loved them and we loved what they did and we were glad they were here. And I think that was really it in a nutshell for me -- hearing that from people I value, and saying it to people. Not only is it important for this found family of vidders and vid fans and just fans plain and simple, but it's an important part of keeping Sandy's spirit alive in the community. So I raise my glass to Cesca big time for articulating that need and that importance.

Friday
Since I had to run a vid show in the morning (oh, the pressure of being the first regular vid show of the con! Thank god [personal profile] lapillus was there to deal with the player issues), that meant getting up at a decent time, and I went down to breakfast but didn't see anyone at first. I have such a hard time putting myself into things at VVC. I generally feel like I'm not cool enough by half, so I hang back, even at breakfast, when it's more about finding a spot to sit at as much as who you're sitting with. But the breakfast area just adds, like, this whole extra dimension of self-esteem issues, and not having gone last year, I felt even more out of touch. I think rooming by yourself also puts you in a different mind space than you might otherwise have when you're more social.

My vid show, Riot Grrls: Women in Action was AWESOME!! Seriously, I was so excited for it, but it was hard to see what it would be like having watched all the vids individually to put together the play list. And it turned out to be fantastic, the way it broke up fast and loud with quieter and more contemplative. I just absolutely loved it. I always like my vid shows, but this one turned out incredibly well. It also really energized me for the rest of the day. Thank you so much to all the vidders who let me use their vids in the show, for making files for me and uploading, and making such great vids. And a special shout-out to my girl [personal profile] par_avion, who was able to help me get a few of them that weren’t available in a con-showable format or find vidders or vids -- every time I was panicked that something was unobtainable, she would just say, “Oh yeah, I have that,” like it was nothing, and she made my great show entirely possible.

I went to [personal profile] morgandawn's room after the show to help her put a new DVD player in her room and chat for a bit, and lunched with some fans over at Spuntino's (I always feel so sorry for the poor mundanes who think they're going to have a nice lunch there, and get overrun by the Mongol hordes on VVC lunch break).

The vid show honoring Sandy was a prelude to the emotional tidal wave to come. I thought I could get through the show all right, and for the most part I did, tearing up during the first vid, A Fire Is Burning, because I have such incredibly specific memories of working on that with her, but being fine elsewhere, until of course her last vid, Blackbird, which is so gentle and so reflective of her recent mindset. I wanted to mention to the (surprisingly packed) audience that a lot of the older vids were being digitized and that [personal profile] greensilver, who put the lovely show together, is putting them up for us, and then I just kind of lost it--because I had hoped to do that before Sandy passed but wasn’t able to, and it breaks my heart that she didn’t get to see that. Everyone was kind, petting me and hugging me and giving me Kleenex; at one point I looked around the room at the people who were still there, and I saw [personal profile] absolutedestiny and someone else hugging, and quite a few people that I knew and didn’t know sniffling and hugging, which kind of hit my heart like a hot arrow -- how much of a community we were there, how much of that community Sandy helped to forge. She is like the first degree in a six degrees game -- she taught some of us directly about vidding or being a fan, and we taught people, and it spread out from there. She is utterly irreplaceable, but as a community we have to keep on with what she believed in, never forget her by being ambassadors of the joy and love she brought to fandom and the vidding community.

I hung out with friends till it was time to get some food and get dressed for CVV, since there wasn’t much time for dinner. Someone in [personal profile] therienne and [profile] aka_arduinna's room, where I spent most of the weekend hanging out, maybe [personal profile] elynross or [personal profile] astolat, had the brilliant idea of going to eat the hors d'oeuvres before we got ready for CVV, and that worked out great. I'm usually disinclined to eat the buffet when I'm dressed up and glittered, and usually I'm wearing something expensive I don't want to spill on.

I didn't have the energy or wherewithal to get anything special for the party, but I brought some sparkly makeup, my iridescent sandals, and some great jewelry, and with that and my violet hair and [personal profile] greensilver’s beglittering, I felt suitably shiny. And I got so drunk, y’all. So, so drunk; I haven’t been that drunk since I was in my 20s. I love that bartender -- I just kept giving him my cup, saying orange and vodka (or he said it), and he would fill it up with 3/4 vodka and 1/4 juice. I LOVE HIM. I got my wristband at the 11th hour, and I’m so glad I did. Being drunk makes it easier to dance with the spry young kids, and helped me forget that I wouldn’t see Sandy or her fabulous rack during the night. It was a great dance show, as usual. I enjoyed seeing my vid this year, too, and dancing to it -- that was so weird last year, not being able to see Brick House on screen and dance to it. I didn’t stay up too long past CVV, and I was so drunk still when I went to bed that I wondered if I might have my first hangover ever, but nope. I was fine, if a little caffeine deprived.

Saturday
As is often the case, I missed breakfast -- I forgot to set my alarm (or rather, I set it for the wrong day) and so I had to rush down, grab oatmeal, and then rush back up to the room to get ready. I missed the first vidshow of the day, but fortunately made it to Heavy Metal, which was a TON of fun -- cars, guns, robots, what’s not to love?

I think I knew the afternoon would be emotional, but I was surprised by how much of the day affected me. I was talking with people more, people who hadn’t yet had a chance to talk about Sandy, and so that kind of put me in a grieving headspace, but then I went to the Tears and Cheers show about big emotions, and while I was OK for the most part, Eunice’s Marley & Me vid did pretty much what I expected, which was to dissolve me in tears.

I have huge animal suffering issues, anyway, and I can’t stand to see animals die on screen, even if they’ve lived a good life and die of old age. And the vid is just so beautifully structured and tender and joyous at the same time it’s sad and poignant that it’s hard not to be affected; but for an animal lover, it’s kind of agonizing. I don’t go to panels much anymore, but I didn’t know what to do with myself, cast adrift with my emotions, so I went to the panel and got kind of teary-eyed all over again. I have been accused most of my life of having “too big emotions” (which is why I find it funny that people talk about that phrase as if it was invented for vidding), something people have used to slam me with -- when I’m down, I really really really down, when I’m happy, I’m manically ecstatic. It was both nice and kind of confusing to listen to people talk about it in terms of vidding, in terms of how you achieve that successfully in a vid, because I tend to think of all my vids as being reflective of my cursed big emotions.

We had dinner in Margie and Seah’s room, a bunch of us, and then it was off to Premieres. This is the first year I didn’t care a single bit about my vid, and whether it received good applause. I guess there’s a lot to be said about overwhelming grief and being enveloped by a community -- it totally takes you out of the “OMG my vid” panic of the VVC premiering vids show. Also, I think a year away from the con did me some good in that respect, not feeling that pressure to wow the crowd. I think people thought it was cute, and that’s about all you can say about it. It’s kind of sunk like a stone since I put it up, and for the first time I’m not panicked about what that says about me as a vidder and OMG I must suck; it just is what it is.

It started off emotionally, of course, with [personal profile] dualbunny’s incredible introduction vid. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do yourself a favor. It’s just… it encapsulates so much of what being a fan is about, it’s made with such love, and I kept thinking that Sandy would have loved it to pieces.

A lot’s been written, and more will be written, about Ian’s fantastic Up vid. I think I could probably write a lot about it myself, but probably other people will do a better job. So many people have said that they felt like he made it for them personally, and I think that’s the mark of a really damn successful vid, when you can touch people in that way. It’s not about whether it made you cry or not; it’s about whether it touched something inside you, about whether you made a personal connection to it, I think. That’s the signature of any good vid, honestly. I was crying almost from the beginning because I had heard the song before, and just seeing the Carl and Ellie handprints on the mailbox, I knew what the subject would be as it began.

Up came out not too long after my sister died, and I have always felt really personally attached to it; I understand Carl’s bitterness all too well. I told Ian afterwards that I felt like he very clearly understood what significant loss is like; I usually don’t try to make connections between the vids and the vidders, to assume underlying intent about the vidders -- that’s something I loathe, when people bring in vidder intentions to critique even if they know nothing about the vidder. But this was one time where I felt like it really came through and had to be acknowledged; people who haven’t experienced the kind of loss that Carl deals with in the movie wouldn’t, I think, be able to bring quite that level of emotion to the vid. You could just feel the emotion and the love from the vidder, and that, I think, is what made everyone in that room so weepy.

I thought at first I was the only one crying like that, and was trying to just cry silently, until toward the end I heard this huge sob from behind me, and then the whole room just seemed to let loose. I didn’t even see the final clips, really. I don’t think that the people who weren’t there can ever really understand what it felt like to be there; they probably think it was just a bunch of emotional women tearing up, but it was a group sensation, a feeling like we were all being affected by something greater than we were. I can’t ever really explain it, except that over the weekend many of us felt like we were part of a family there, and that reminded us of what it’s like to lose someone from that family.

I was glad that Margie and Seah’s fantastic Sarah Jane vid that closed the show was celebratory rather than elegiac -- I think many of us feared a reprise of the tears-fest of the Up vid, but we got instead something that just made us feel happy about having had Elisabeth Sladen to share for a while.

I had asked to sing a Sandy song for vid karaoke, and so Ian added a bunch more Sandy songs along with Crush Story, and I forced poor [personal profile] wickedwords, who never sings, to come up with me and Ian and do Hot Hot Hot at the end. It was nice to celebrate Sandy for what she did so well -- make con vids that made people happy. Thank you so, so much, Ian, for putting those together and thinking about it, and for singing. Sandy would have loved it, I know that. Afterwards I spent some time in the Comet room looking at pics of her and writing in the memory book, and talking about her with people, before heading to Margie and Seah’s room to discuss the show with people, before finally heading off to bed.

Sunday
No more leaving on Sunday. I can’t do that again; it’s hard enough to get ready to check out and get to vid panels and shows, without the added burden of saying goodbye to people, printing out your boarding passes and stuff like that. It’s hard to afford another night in the hotel, but it’s just too sad to leave on Sunday.

Anyhoo. I spoke up a couple times in vid review and really regretted it. No more talking during vid review. One of the comments I made, about the Will Wheaton vid, seemed to be completely misunderstood by a lot of the younger folks in the crowd; I was talking about using counterpoints, contrasts, which make comedy funnier, but apparently everyone thought I was just saying something that showed I was too stupid to get the joke. As I was waiting for someone outside the room, a couple of people, including, I think, the vidder, made a point to say snide and ridiculing things in my direction before getting on the elevator, and that really spoiled the mood I’d been in during the con. Rache talked me down later by explaining “forming, storming, norming” to me, about finding your group of like-minded people, raging about the people who aren’t in your group, and setting those as standards that you and your group follow, and pointed out to me that by being pissed at the vidders behaving that way towards someone expressing a differing viewpoint, I had the chance to storm with my own group. I liked that; it didn’t make me feel any less annoyed, but Rache does have a good handle on how to help someone come down from the ledge.

What can I even say about the Challenge show, except that it was beyond awesome all the way through, culminating in that mind-altering, world-changing Smallville kittenbaby vid everyone’s talking about. We all ended up in tears after that, for entirely different reasons -- I haven’t laughed that hard in years, and tears just streamed down my face. I was sitting alone, and really regretted that, because that kind of laughter needs to be shared with someone. There was screaming, cheering, and a standing O, and once again, I had that overwhelming sense of family, that this is just how cracked and crazy and wonderfully bizarre my family is, that I belong to the community that could create this incredible thing. I’d wager that a lot of people felt that way, too, even if they couldn’t articulate that.

I didn’t stick around for discussion of the challenge vids, I think because my brain broke and I just didn’t want to hear anymore discussion after the incident with the vid review, so I went to the Auction vids show, stuck around for a few minutes of the calls from the public, but then ducked out and went out to the lobby to hang around with people. I found myself constantly looking down out the window at the people seated in the Lobby of Sadness, waiting for the shuttle to take them to the airport. A couple times I even went down to hang out with them until they left, just because it was like, “I must have five more minutes with Cesca and Shallot or my heart will break.” Seriously, it sounds so dramatic, but this was SUCH an EMOTIONAL weekend that it really did feel that way. After a time, it was my spot to sit in the lobby, and I got to say goodbye to a few people when they were on their way to House o’ Meat, including [personal profile] jarrow, who had brought his wonderful friend James with him, who was such an amazing sport the whole weekend at his first ever VVC -- y’all, he stripped during vid karaoke! Now that’s someone who embraces life.

[profile] melina123 and I rode the shuttle to the airport, and so I got to say one last goodbye to her, and then I was off home, watching more Torchwood on my laptop and trying to mentally shift gears from the con. I have actually had way too much people interaction this week, finding myself often thinking, I wish I could go back, you people aren’t my family. It’s hard to come back from that, it really is. And it’s hard to explain -- I know the people who were there will understand, but the people who weren’t… they just can’t.

I’ve been to a lot of cons, big and small, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt that way before. It’s not that I necessarily felt more loved or more understood, or what it was specifically, but I can say that for someone who hasn’t ever had much of a family, it was pretty amazing to sink into that embrace. We’ve lost two members of this family in the past few years, something that’s a bit hard to contemplate when you think of how small we already are. Many of us had a lot to carry that weekend -- losing Sandy most significant among them. And by coming together in that space and holding on to each other, letting each other know we loved them, we made it through, tears and all.

* I’ve coined a lot of phrases in my time, but the speed with which everyone started calling it Lobby of Sadness surprised and delighted me. It’s the Lobby of Joy on Thursday and Friday when everyone arrives, but the Lobby of Sadness when everyone’s leaving on Sunday and Monday, and Sunday seems to be the saddest day of all. (And yes, if you have to ask, on Saturday it’s just the lobby.)

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Comments

( 12 thought bubbles — Draw a thought bubble )
brynnmck
Aug. 20th, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
I'm so glad it was such a powerful experience for you--you deserve to feel safe and loved and at home, and while I'm sorry you had to leave that space, I'm glad you got to have it, and that the strong sense of community is still there, whether you're physically together or not. *hugs*
gwyn_r
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
Your icon pretty much sums up exactly how I often felt while I was there. \o/
talitha78
Aug. 20th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. I don't think I have the same sense of community you do, but I will say that I have grown increasingly comfortable at VVC. It feels like a place where I can totally be myself.
gwyn_r
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:49 am (UTC)
Hopefully someday we will have fully assimilated you! We are nefarious that way. And I'm so glad you're feeling more and more comfy there -- you are a wonderful addition to this community.
soundingsea
Aug. 20th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
Oh, I wish so much that I could have been there this year, drunk and dancing with you! But reading your review was almost like being there. Your description of the Up vid made me tear up, and I haven't even seen it yet!
gwyn_r
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:51 am (UTC)
That would have been fun -- as much as I was glad to be with the people who were there, it still felt like a lot of holes were all around us, with the people who couldn't be there. Especially since it was one of those times when you wish you could share something with everyone.
sisabet
Aug. 20th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
*reads post*

*nods A LOT*

*hugs you some more just because*
gwyn_r
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:53 am (UTC)
And will happily take those hugs. (We were oooing and aaahing over your premieres vid the other night, btw!)
sdwolfpup
Aug. 21st, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
This report was so beautiful. It made me cry, which I guess is par for the course this year. I'm so very glad you were able to get this experience out of what had to be such a difficult year for you to go. ♥ ♥ ♥
gwyn_r
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
I know, I have this feeling we'll all be weeping for eternity, every time this con is mentioned. I have this big fear that once this is over, some of the things that made it special will be forgotten, the way time just kind of dusts over everything. I hope that doesn't happen, especially regarding Sandy, but... I have to try to hang on to all that as long as I can.
vagabondage
Aug. 21st, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
*smothers you with hugs of love and tears of joy*

Yes. Family.

*more hugs*
gwyn_r
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
Tears of joy are so much better than tears of pain!
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