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The days leading up to Ichibancon were strange, to say the least. I felt as if it weren't happening right that weekend, as if time was playing a trick, and yet I still felt that all familiar panic of having unfinished cosplays to complete in an unreasonable amount of time. The distant, almost detached feeling was long gone once I reached the convention center.
Ah, the Embassy Suites. Ichibancon has had a hefty history of bad eggs when it comes to venues, but this time I am sure they got it right. The location was beautiful, the rooms were beautiful, the staff was amazing. I hope that if they feel they must move next year, they're ready to find a venue that brings their A-game just as well, if not better than this hotel.
I did attend Thursday, but only to pick up my badge and check out the place. Already I was seeing lots of familiar faces--a good omen to how the con was going to go.
Friday was full of adventure pretty much as soon as I walked into the door. I tagged along to some photoshoots as well as scoring my friend a photoshoot (I still have a magical moment or two up my sleeve), then after I got access to my hotel room, I changed into my first cosplay for the weekend. About an hour later it was time to host my first panel of the weekend. It went pretty well considering how much I rushed it. My audience, although small, was very receptive and asked a lot of good questions. I'll have to work on it if I want to bring it to other conventions. In the time between panels I hung out with a couple of people I met over Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, nothing is better than finding out cool people are even cooler than you thought. The weather at this point was cold and dreary, but the rain didn't pick up until after 5, which was exactly when I didn't want it. That left me with a little dilemma for my own photoshoot, but I couldn't worry about it until after I hosted my next panel, the one that I probably prepared the most for and, because fate is cruel, the one I got the smallest audience for. It was fine, however, because I spoke so fast that I was able to spew my knowledge twice in the hour for the latecomers! Now it was time for the photoshoot, and I could add "dark" to "cold, dreary and wet" at this point. Thank God for a beautiful hotel, because I had a lovely photoshoot right inside with no trouble. For the rest of the night I had dinner with the cool people I'd been hanging out with all day, did some super last-minute costume work, and called it a day.
Then came Saturday. Ever the thrilling and hectic Saturday of a convention. First things first: after I fought to get my first cosplay on correctly, I hurried down to the convention center to host yet another panel. Once again, I couldn't have asked for a better audience. With three panels down and one to go, the real fun began. As quickly as I could (which unfortunately wasn't that quick), I changed into the costume I'd be competing in and headed down to judging. There was no need to rush, however, as they were several people behind. In the time that I spent waiting I shmoozed with pretty much anyone who passed by and stopped to talk to me. It honestly made the unaccounted for 40 minutes of waiting worthwhile. After that was done, I was supposed to get an awesome photoshoot done. The rain had other plans. I told my photographer that I would put the getup back on tomorrow, which is something I've done once before (at Animazement to be exact). These are the lengths I go through to have a good photoshoot. My second photoshoot had better luck. It was still grey and dreary but the rain had stopped. And it was of course a pleasure to work with Liz again, a photographer that I hadn't worked with since May. At this point I had just enough time to scamper off to the masquerade. I absolutely loved this masquerade. The skits were great, there were some phenomenal cosplays, and I got to witness a proposal! Ah, nerd love. I didn't take home anything but my awesome friend Becky took home Best Novice! I'm so proud of her! I had one last cosplay to change into so I could have one last photoshoot that night. This was my biggest group. Those poor kids went through so much in the time they were getting ready for the shoot and still pulled through admirably. The plan was to stay in cosplay for a few more hours, but I'd had enough. So I changed back into civvies, got myself a drink at the bar, and chilled for the rest of the night. I found myself once again in a friend's hotel room, playing Cards Against Humanity, each of us remarking how we don't want to go home yet. Tomorrow was gonna be tough.
Before I knew it, Sunday was here. Where had the time gone? Guess I had too much fun. I changed into my Saturday cosplay so that I could make good on that photoshoot we canceled. It surely wouldn't be canceled today; there was plenty of sun and mild temperatures. Before that, however, I popped into the contest feedback panel to see what they had to say about my competition costume. Just like at Banzaicon, I'm not sure what I was expecting to say, but what they told me was all good things. They said they loved seeing my work, and that was probably the best compliment they could give me. I did learn that I have to stop rushing these damn costumes if I want a competitive edge. It's really nitpicky things that are keeping me at a disadvantage. After that panel and my much anticipated photoshoot, it was time to work on my last panel of the weekend, which also happened to be one of the last panels of the con. I got it done and the presentation itself went well, though it did get a little intense at times. There was a guy in there with many strong differing opinions, which I of course welcomed, but man did he come across as intimidating. I will continue to work on that panel in hopes of presenting it at other cons.
And that was it. Time to go home, time to go back to real life, time to reflect. This was my third Ichibancon, and I have to hand it to them for blowing my expectations of them right out of the water. And from a personal standpoint, it was better than expected too. I was incredibly surprised at how many people knew both my name and my work as well as how many people expressed wanting to meet me. I was very pleased with the friendships I was able to grow and strengthen over the weekend. If only everyone didn't live so far away! This was an overall con experience that I'm going to remember for a long time, and I want to thank everyone who made it possible and everyone I met along the way. Here's hoping that I see you soon.

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