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POINT OF VIEW: Back at the Con (or Trying to Be Zen)

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The in person events are coming. I plan to attend two Pride festivals and a Sci-Fi con in the next two-and-a-half months – and I’m totally zen about it.

I have books to sell, the sales licenses corralled, and I am totally ready to–WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?

A live event? Like, face to face with other PEOPLE? In the middle of a PANDEMIC?

I must be INSANE.

And yet… there’s a growing part of me (no snickers from the peanut gallery, please) that IS excited about the prospect. Being around other people, finally getting to sell the books I’ve been stockpiling over the last two and a half years… it’s a liberating feeling.

The first two events are outdoors – single day affairs in the open with fresh air, spent with some of my favorite local writers. They’re the opening acts for the main event, BayCon in the SF Bay Area in July.

BayCon is a four day, indoor con.

Indoors with hundreds of other people. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

*stops to breathe into a paper bag*

In the last two years, Mark and I have withdrawn from society at large, feeling both imprisoned but at the same time safe in our little bubble at home. The last large event we attended was a play, with maybe 150 people in the audience for two hours. That was months before the first lockdown.

For me, getting past my entirely rational (but also sometimes irrational) fear of being around crowds is the biggest hurdle.

We find ourselves at a crossroads, between waves of this wretched virus, with no way of knowing if or when the next one will come, and if it does, how bad it might be. There’s still so much we don’t know. If I get a “mild” case, can there still be long-term effects? Will masks be as effective against the next wave? How long will my latest booster really last, and how well will it protect me?

And yet, don’t we have to get back to living our lives again at some point? I need a roadmap to where we are and where we’re going to be by the start of July.

Staking a flag in the future is my way of planting a seed of hope, of taking a chance that the future is not so grim as it might seem. Maybe I don’t know everything, but I do know I have to move on at some point.

And so I immerse myself in the details of the con:

Hotel reservations – what size room? Roommate?

Table plans – how many books should I take? Do I have enough swag? What about an extra tablecloth for the second table at the con? Who else wants to share?

Does our credit card scanner still work after all this time, and more importantly, do I remember how to use it?

And then it hits me. I’m going to do something normal, for a change.

I have to sit with that for a moment.

NORMAL.

It’s not a word I’ve used much in the last several years. But it’s true. Assuming things don’t get really bad again, I’m going to go to a con, meet other readers and writers, and be… say it with me… normal.

For now, I’m letting myself be hopeful, and looking forward to the festivals and the con.

And of course, trying to be zen about the whole crazy thing.

I AM SO NOT ZEN.

*takes deep breath.*

But I hope to be, someday.

To my reader/writer friends: How are you handling your feelings about going back to in person events? What would make you feel better about it?

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