Hello Dragonfolk! I’m BACK from Dragon Con 2018 and I’m alive and supercharged on con vibes and party juices. Full disclosure, I’m quietly battling a little post-con depression (PCD) at the moment. Dragon Con wrapped up yesterday and I packed up all of my belongings into suitcases and backpacks and took the long, somber ride home. I put off unpacking for the first few hours, decided it was a good time to set up my back patio (thanks, OCD) which sapped me of most of my energy (which I guess was the purpose). After putting away most of my costume pieces, none of my toiletries, getting laundry going, and feeding all 15 of my cats, I finally collapsed on the couch.
I proceeded to eat half a frozen Kroger pizza and most of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream while catching up on Better Call Saul. It was amazing. I was sad but also not. I tried to explain my feelings to my convention buddy, Julia, this morning. I compared what I was experiencing to the sensation of “empty-fullness” that used to wash over me after a church youth group retreat or mission trip. My friend Julia and I were both raised in evangelical christian churches, so she caught my vibes immediately. We both agreed that we felt the spirit of Dragon Con move us. We both felt changed forever. We had both experienced time travel. What I mean when I say “time travel” is the indescribable way Dragon Con flashes you back to your favorite summer camp memories. Transporting you back to first kisses and prom nights- only this time around it’s perfected. You’re ready. You’re wiser and you can appreciate the scarcity of real human connection and the ability to unhinge (AKA Your Right To Party) in the confines of our modern world. It’s a second shot at youth that only occurs during that four day window. Thursday night sets the record spinning, replaying the hits from childhood and debuting new singles you’ll never be able to get out of your head. Dragon Con elicits all the old feels while somehow creating all new feels. It’s a rapid succession of powerful moments, life-altering conversations, and lightning in a bottle snapshots injected with steroids, caffeine, and other adult substances. It’s like church camp on ecstasy. Does that make sense?
I came to you over a week ago touting my Ten Tips From Ten Years At Dragon Con and so far I’ve only delivered on five. I better get crackin’ huh? I will, but before I do, I want to explain something. Initially I wanted to get all ten of these out pre-Dragon Con. But long story short; con prep got in the way (four costumes, planning PKE Surge, packing, podcasting, posting, editing, the list goes on). Thankfully I was able to take some of my own con advice this weekend to remedy this situation. I actually said to myself “Hey, wherever I am is where the party is!” This helped, a lot. Saturday afternoon, after the parade, while meditating and sitting cross-legged inside the Hilton as my friend Julia and her sister, Katherine, expertly applied my Zoya the Destroya makeup, I told myself “Hey, self! You can still dole out those final five tips, just do it after con, with fresh post-con perspective. You got this, girl.”
So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m going to keep chugging along on this Tip Train, churning out tips and oh look, here’s our next stop!
Tip Number Six: The 5-2-1 Rule! (Self Care)
I first heard mention of the 5-2-1 Rule during my second year at Dragon Con. It was my first time attending all four days and also my first time staying at a host hotel. As I was taking the elevator down from the twenty-something-eth floor of the Hyatt, I remember overhearing a conversation that went something like this,
Dude Inside Elevator
“Hey man, don’t forget, 5-2-1!”
Dude Exiting Elevator
“Five, two, what?”
Dude Inside Elevator
“You know, five, two, ONE! Every day. Five hours of sleep. Two meals a day. One shower. Learn it. Live it. Love it.”
I like to imagine that this nameless con attendee’s life was forever altered after receiving this sage little gem of wisdom from the aforementioned Dragon Con veteran. I know my eyes and ears were certainly opened as I eavesdropped on their conversation that day. As I recall it now my anxiety is kicking in screaming “Wait, Abigail. Was it five hours of sleep or three? 3-2-1 sounds better, RIGHT!?” Here’s what my rational mind says to that concern; whether the saying is three or five hours of sleep, doesn’t matter. Consider that a blank space to write in your own number relative to however much sleep is your bare minimum number. For me personally, that number of hours is five. My brain becomes a day old Waffle House omelette dripping in Texas Pete and syrup, diced, scrambled and useless if I clock in anything less than five hours of sleep each night. I am thirty-two (and loving it) but I have to be real about my body’s need for solid slumber. Even if you’re a crispy little twenty year old running around blasting K-Pop and blathering on about anime memes I’ll never understand (who is Senpai?), drinking vodka Redbulls all night- listen to me, queen- you still need your sleep. Things can get stressful. Moods fluctuate frequently due to plans changing, guests canceling, and other factors that are out of your control while at Dragon Con. Your brain and body need adequate time to recuperate and rebuild so that, so like The Bionic Woman, you can come back stronger and better than ever to the party and dance the night away.
Now let’s talk about the two in the 5-2-1 Rule. Although we’ve been taught our entire lives that a balanced diet consists of three square meals divided into categories like carbohydrates, dairy, protein, Dairy Queen, and some other stuff (I tried to name all the building blocks of the food pyramid the other day and fell miserably short, it’s hard! You try it!). Please be aware, none of this applies at Dragon Con. I learned this over the weekend, there is no way in heckfire that you’ll have enough time to logistically eat three full meals a day and hit panels, change costumes, attend parties, make photo shoots, or soak up con the way you want to if you’re stuck in the bowels of the underground food court waiting on mystery noodles and fried Free Sample chicken all day!
This all goes back to the backpack- pack some bars in there. High protein snacks so you can keep on truckin’ through the dealer rooms at AmericasMart. I was very grateful for my emergency cliff bars by the time I reached the second floor of that sprawling labyrinth of a vendor space this past Thursday. That building is huge and the food that they offer is basically over priced carnival food. Which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but if you’re vegan like my co-host Jake, or picky like I am, then you may find yourself in a literal pickle over not being able to find something you can/want to eat. This year, I only ate one full meal the entire first day. It’s vital to understand the importance of food and the fact that sometimes it will be maddeningly out of reach due to overloaded restaurants, long lines, and congested elevators. Plan accordingly, folks.
Finally, before I leave you all and eat an entire box of Organic Raisin Bran while watching Willow for the first time, let’s talk about the final facet of the old 5/3-2-1 Rule. The One in this fabled rule stands for ONE SHOWER PER DAY. I don’t care how many people you’re rooming with, you can make time for a shower. I’ll put it this way. After walking the parade or even just walking down to get lunch in the late August heat through packed Atlanta streets, like Maverick says to Slider in Top Gun, “You stink.” Baby wipes aren’t enough. Bird baths won’t due. Even if you’re dressed as Birdman, you’re not really a bird. Don’t be I-showered-the-the-night-before guy. You still smell like hot milk. We’re all thinking it inside the elevator. So once you get to your room, take some time and rinse off, you big ol’ stinky-stank! Also, enjoy that shower. I personally treasure my shower time at Dragon Con because quite simply it is the only alone time I get during the whole weekend. So I like to soak it up while I got it, literally. Your roommates will secretly appreciate you for it and hey, maybe people will actually laugh at your impromptu elevator stand-up routine on the way down this time! If you smell amazing, it certainly won’t hurt.
It all boils down to the importance of practicing self-care while attending Dragon Con. Take some time to be alone and tend to your needs. Eat good food when you’re hungry. Rest when you are tired. If good food and rest are not available to you at that moment then radically accept the situation, reach into your backpack and eat some friggin’ candy or whatever else you have stashed away. You deserve it.
Abigail Gardner – @splash_mommy