Surviving BarCamp 2011

“What are you doing today?”

“Going to BarCamp.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s basically a day of douchebaggery and business card distribution, thinly disguised as a day of informative seminars.”

As you may have guessed, I was less than enthused about the idea of spending my Saturday attempting to mingle with people I’d never met. Three years of working from home has made me weird(er), and I wasn’t much of a mingler in the first place. Thus, the idea of being thrown into a room of total strangers and expected to mingle is right up there with “mow the lawn” and “go to baby shower” on the list of things I would rather not do.

I went because I have finally realized that working by yourself at home is perhaps not the best way to stay on top of what people are talking about. Yes, there’s twitter. There are blogs. But neither of those involve BEER, so I went to BarCamp. If nothing else, I would suck it up and perhaps learn how to mingle. Or at least watch successful minglers (aka “marketing people”) in their natural habitat. As I often do, I psyched myself up in order to develop a positive attitude:

“It’ll be like Big Cat Diary. In your head, you can narrate in a British accent. If all else fails, you can do what all other socially awkward people do: you can mess around with your phone and pretend it’s the most interesting thing ever.”

I ended up being pleasantly surprised. While not all of the panels I went to ended up being super exciting, I did actually end up meeting some cool people. I had some very pleasant and non-fake feeling conversations. Yes, I gave out my business card to a few people, but all but one of those people asked for said card. I tend to get into a conversation and completely forget to even OFFER the card, being too distracted by whatever’s being said and the general sensory overload of being in a room full of people.

I ran into a couple of people I know from the coffee shop, one guy I dated for a while and a couple of people I know from Twitter. The surprisingly pleasant day was topped off at the after party, held in a karaoke bar. When one fellow got on stage to sing “Purple Rain,” the initial crowd response was, “hey, he’s actually pretty good.” By the time the guy on stage was hitting the super-high notes at the end, the reaction had grown into “stunned, awed silence.”

“That’s the guy who played guitar for Prince in the 80s!”

“That’s Dez Dickerson?!”

(Of COURSE I knew the guy’s name. Are you new here?)

After he was done singing, I went over and showed him the pictures inside the locket I always wear. Purple Rain-era Prince on the right, Morris Day on the left.

I survived mingling, and I’m glad I didn’t peace out early. I believe this BarCamp thing will have to happen again.

Postcards from the Edge (Dragon*Con-clusion)

Sunday was normal until the evening. The morning held a True Blood panel, followed by afternoon sushi. Then…well…

I went back to the condo to put on my going out clothes, because I was planning on hitting Celldweller’s performance at midnight. Thus, at 6:00, I found myself in the company of a cab driver who didn’t like air conditioning and spent the entire ride YELLING into his phone in Swahili or something.

“BLAH BLAH BLAH coca leaf BLAH BLAH BLAH very addictive.”

Hey, buddy. I don’t know what kind of Miami Vice bullshit you’re talking about up there, but maybe you could turn on the a/c?

I made it to the Dark Muse panel on time, but some other guys weren’t so lucky. About 20 minutes in, 5 dudes (who were probably drunk), walked in and caused some big disruption.

“Is this a dungeon?” asked the leader, who looked a lot like Mika (for the purposes of this story, we’ll call him FauxMika).

“Are you going to act like a douche?” answers Steven from Ego Likeness.

You’d think that would be all it would take for the guys to either shut up or leave. Wrong. They spent the next 10 minutes giggling, doing loud things on their cell phones and stopping the panel to ask Donna what band she’s in. Eventually, the lady sitting behind them whispered something (all I heard was “you’re being a jerk…”) and they left to a round of applause.

After dark muse, I went to hang out with Attention System Dude before attempting the Celldweller show. Attempting? Yes.

See, they’d decided NOT to clear the room between Celldweller and Cruxshadows. The result: a line of Cruxshadows fans wrapping most of the way around the hotel. “If these people all get in, there’s not gonna be any room to dance anyway.” Also, I didn’t want to stand there. Also, I could have gone to hang out with Dude some more…which was what I did. That is, that’s what I did until we swapped badges and I gave the show another shot. First plan: see if there’s room now that everyone was inside. Backup plan: use his all-access badge to sneak in via backstage. A little sketchy, since I am so totally not the queen of believable lying.

I didn’t have to lie my ass off, which is good because it probably would have resulted in being kicked out or something. The show was good, and my only regret is that I stayed just a LITTLE too long to get a post-show drink, since the booze all got tucked away at 2am. Sadness.

Went back to hang with Dude some more and ended up helping (or attempting to help) pack up his booth before he gave me a ride back to sis’s condo. Now, readers, let’s keep minds out of the gutter on this one. For one thing, it was 3:30 by that time. For the second thing, he had a drunk friend and friend’s wife in the back seat. (“Dude! I’m sorry for being a cunt!”) For the third thing, my sister lives in Fort Knox. We had to say goodbye in the mailbox room just off the lobby, and the concierge straight-up STOOD there and watched us say goodbye (thanks, guy…you’re a pal…really). I promise next time I do something, it’ll be super-whorey and I’ll tell you all about it. OK, maybe not.

Anyway, I made it home safely and took a shower and a little bit of a nap before I woke up and started writing so I wouldn’t forget everything from the blur of the last 4 days.

I shudder to think of how much stuff is now in my email inbox. Tomorrow is going to be…interesting.

Postcards from the Edge (Dragon*Con, part three)

There is but one rule on Saturday morning at Dragon*Con: you cannot win against the parade. Silly silly us, walking around trying to find some way around, over or under that thing. After 30 minutes of negotiating crowded sidewalks in stacks (stupid me, thinking it would be an easy walking day, just cause we took a cab to the hotels), I said “Whit…we can’t win…I give up…let’s just wait it out.”

We were trying to cross the parade route to get in line early for that morning’s True Blood panel. It was not to be, but we still got decent seats anyway, once the parade was over.

After that, I went to the amusing “Gigs From Hell” panel and then went to find my sister who was at brunch with her friends. They had decided on a day of bar hopping, so I somehow ended up in a loud bar (honestly, get a rug or some upholstered furniture or something) eating my salad while perched on a couch. Since I can’t hang with a day of drinking (it’s the long, slow burn that will do you in), I went headed back to the con for Voltaire’s panel.

We’d gone a couple blocks out to find Loudest Bar Ever, which meant I had to negotiate a street of drunk LSU fans in stack boots.

“Hey! Do you know where there’s a liquor store?”
“No…I’m not from here.”
“Want to have dinner sometime?”
“Uh…what? No…”
“I don’t have a problem with your lifestyle! It’s cool, baby!”

Needless to say, I was all too happy to go a couple more blocks, where I ran into a flock of Steampunk kids and felt relatively non-irate again. It’s not drunk sports fans that I hate. It’s that I’m not allowed to stab any of them.

After some prompting, Voltaire told the story of how he got banned from D*C for life, which clearly didn’t take, as he’s been there every year for 11 years. A fun story that ends with him getting banned for some 4am sexual activity at his merch booth. After that, I met back up with sis and we went back to the condo. I took a cab back to the con later for panels about Tim Burton and Repo! Shadowcasts and then met up with sis and friends for some pizza and then much-needed resting of eyes.

Weird cab rides, douchebags, hanging out with a boy, and getting cockblocked by a concierge.

“Who ARE You?”

“Who ARE You?”

The subject line refers to the title of a Facebook message sent to me by someone I hadn’t talked to since roughly 1993, the year I left the suburbs of southern Atlanta for Kentucky. With apologies to the Kentucky friends, that place was never my home. From the first morning I woke, startled, in my new bedroom (having the “where the fuck am I?!” thought usually gotten at slumber parties), I had a single-minded focus on getting the hell out of there.

Get good grades, get scholarships, get out of town.

Sixteen years went by, and now the internet is bringing you all back, one friend request at a time. In light of this, I thought it might be time to get the recent additions up to speed.

After high school, I ended up as a Sound Engineering major at Belmont University. It turned out not to be the creative fun that I thought, given that I don’t enjoy having entire conversations about milliseconds of delay and analog vs digital. My refusal to listen to Steeley Dan was also frowned upon. I finished the degree, but got out and realized I was only qualified to write papers.

I came THIS close to going to FIT in New York to get a master’s in History of Dress, but ended up going to study graphic design at Watkins College. As college majors go, it was kind of an impulse buy; I made the fall deadline by about two days. Eight years later, I’m still designing stuff. My favorite things are Flash, multimedia, and illustration. My portfolio is at (plug, plug) and I’m generally always looking for freelance work. I’m pretty sure I’m going back to school (AGAIN) in the fall to become a web developer. I have a college problem; I can’t seem to stay out. Wtf.

This isn’t to say that I think design is my “gift.” I do OK and I’m better at meeting a deadline than a lot of other people, but it’s not the thing I do with a little more magic than everybody else. Or maybe it is. I can look at a person for five seconds and tell them what their magic is, but I don’t know what mine would be. What I DO know is that I’d leave design tomorrow for a book deal. In the tradition of Oprah, I have started using the phrase, “when I get my book deal…” as some form of fucked-up positive visualization. She says you have to name it to claim it. Well, I’m naming it ad nauseum. “Stay tuned for my book! It’s being published by Kinkos!” It’s gonna be spiral-bound and buy-one-get-one-free, so you can give a copy to a friend. Said friend will love it and promptly cyberstalk me, adding me on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and whatever the hell else some developer invents to make me have to crosspost my blogs. Cyberstalk me. Google me. Just don’t show up on my porch or send me naked pictures.

OK, fine. Send naked pictures. Whatever.

“But, Amy, haven’t you devoted yourself to washing the socks of a man who will be the only person you ever have sex with for the rest of your life?”

No. While I’m open to the idea of living in sin with the right person, I have not yet met someone who would be consistently allowed to be IN MY HOUSE every time I come home. Unless you count my cat and, yes, I realize how crazy that sounds. You haven’t met my cat. He is KICK ASS.

“But, Amy, haven’t you forced a human body through your vagina?”

No. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week. Hell, if I had a surgeon sitting next to me right now, I’d be talking said surgeon into tying my tubes instead of writing this blog. If I ever have time and money that would be spent on a child, I would go volunteer somewhere and help raise somebody else’s kids, or at least try to teach them to play the piano.

“What’s with the (evil) moniker?”
Oh yeah. I came out of the coffin sometime in late 1997 or early 1998. I was always kind of weird, but it didn’t show on the outside until college, when I realized that there was an entire genre of music that sounded like Depeche Mode. Goth has a dark sense of humor, a punkish sensibility, and good hair. I couldn’t resist. I am fully aware that I own pink clothing. It’s ironic. For serious.

Answers to other popular questions:

1. I’ve been in Nashville since 1996. I’m not “from” here, but 13 years is a long enough time for me to be tired of dating dudes who are in bands though, horribly, I still totally do it. Will I ever learn? (In my defense, if I swore off musicians, I would never date again. EVERYONE is in a band here. Then again…I kind of never date as it is. Cue the tiny violins.)

2. Five foot one
3. Cat person
4. Mauk rhymes with sock
5. Johnny Depp. Or Jack White.
6. Jane Eyre
7. Edward Scissorhands (predictable.)
8. purple
9. vegetarian (I sometimes snap and eat beef jerky. Ew.)
10. one, but I want more


My first taste of alcohol came when I was a kid: sis and I explored mom and dad’s liquor cabinet and decided to take a drink of Midori Melon. With such an introduction, it was no wonder I never actually drank an entire alcoholic drink until I was 29. I have graduated to 100 proof vodka, but that’s not because I’ve become a better drinker. It’s because I’m cheap and I drink so slowly that 70 proof would never put me to bed, which is pretty much the only reason I own vodka in the first place. My sleep ritual, let me show you it.

Friday night, I hit a new high/low in my drinking career. Don’t get excited: there was no puking in hair, no drunk dialing, and no dancing on a coffee table (also because I don’t own a coffee table). I mostly just drunk-Twittered a bunch of stupidity and then fell asleep with my legs hanging off the bed. No warning. Just BAM. Next thing I knew, Jay was moving my legs over and putting a blanket on me. My necklace and hair clip were apparently removed by gnomes.

Upon waking up shakey and pukey-feeling (and thus on the cusp of a panic attack), I couldn’t fathom why people volunteer for this. Vodka to fall asleep makes sense: it’s probably less-damaging than drinking NyQuil every night, which is what I used to do. I had a decorative cut glass bottle by the bed. Vodka to pass out in one’s clothes and contacts doesn’t make sense. Was it fun? Yeah, at the time, I guess it was. Was it worth feeling like stir-fried ass the next day? No. Thus, I shan’t be repeating this behavior any time soon. I got drunk. It was anti-climactic, and almost kept me from getting anything done Saturday. I tried it, it ended up kind of stupidly.

Sorry if you missed it. OK, not really.

Of Tattoos, Cops and Funyuns

I try to stay away from plot summary on here, but this weekend actually contained some adventures other than “go to starbucks and work on stuff,” so I thought I’d share.

I got Baby’s First Tattoo on Saturday, it being a black satiny ribbon that pseudo-ties around my right wrist. Tattoo guy at Black 13 was super nice and the whole thing didn’t hurt as much as I’d thought it would. I was expecting some kind of crazy, holy fuck pain, but really it just felt like an Epilady from Hell. Since I currently own the more modern version of said torture device, the tattoo wasn’t that bad. It’s mostly the length of time it takes that’ll get ya. Five minutes? Nothing. An hour? Dude, so annoying that I kind of want to punch you. Nothing personal. Anywho, I didn’t pass out or hurl, so I should get some points for that. This is good, as I sense that Baby’s First Tattoo will eventually have some friends. (You get pictures as soon as the skin stops being angry.)

After I left the tattoo place, I stopped by the drug store to get some after-care supplies (fragrance-free soap, fragrance-free lotion) and some celebratory Scooby Snacks (Funyuns and trail mix). On the way home, I got pulled over.

“I pulled you over because your tags are expired. From June.”
“I know! I’m a sinner! I need to get that done!”
“And you ran that light back there.”
“Dude! That was totally yellow! Swears!”
“No, it was red.”
“Duuuuuude. Yelloooooow.”

While I’m digging my license and insurance card out of my wallet, Cop says “so, are we goth or are we punk?” “Um….we’re goth.”

When I was digging through the contents of the glove box looking for my registration, I also pulled out a couple condoms. Jen and I went to Louisville for goth night about a year ago. Their goth night is held at a gay bar which features punch bowls full of condoms. Naturally, Jen thought it would be hilarious to hide these all over my car on the drive home. The best one was when I flipped down the sun visor and got pegged in the forehead by a “magnum.”

Anyway, Cop ran my info and came back to the car.

“Where did you go to high school?”
“In Kentucky…”
“Oh, I just wondered cause we’re the same age and I’m a metalhead, so I thought we might know each other.”
“Oh…no, probably not.”

“Well, this is your lucky day, cause I’m going to let you off with a warning.”
“Yay!!! I swear, I’ll totally get those tags updated!”

So, I headed home to watch tv, veg out, and nap for the rest of the day. Funyuns were delicious as always.