Here's my SDCC recap. It was basically an 8 out of 10.
Wednesday: The flight was a little turbulent and very anxiety-inducing, but I managed to finish a good chunk of the sequining that I still had to do. When I got to the hotel, I checked in and found we had an absolutely fantastic room on the bay with lots of space, a balcony, and a mini-fridge. After that the rest of the night was spent at the fashion show dress rehearsal and finishing my dress after that (I was so exhausted by bedtime). There was one moment where I really freaked out because my hands started tingling with a vengeance, but after I sat down and took some deep breaths and got my circulation going again it got better.
Thursday: Spent much of the morning just doing relaxation and calming strategies while finishing up last minute tweaks to the dress and doing my hair and makeup. I had to be over to the venue at the Grand Hyatt (absolutely beautiful hotel, by the way) by 2:30, because then it was time for the official photoshoot and pre-judging. I don't know if they will release the photos of the non-winning designs, but I hope they do because I was very happy with them. The pre-judging was so weird and nerve-wracking and interesting though, as it was my first time ever doing anything like that. I had to describe the series a little bit before explaining how it inspired my design, what materials I used, and how I put everything together. I think the questions I got asked were pretty standard, like "is designing your day job," "how long have you been designing,", etc. The judges all seemed most impressed when I turned around to show them the back, though, as there were some audible gasps. I kind of ended my time slot on an awkward note as I exited, though, but for never having done anything like that, I think it went well overall.
Before the show, while I was nervously sweating up a storm, the catering carts rolled in. There was a turkey sandwich cart, followed by another meat sandwich cart, and then after that, to my surprise, rolled in a vegan sandwich cart! Apparently many of Hot Topic's employees are vegan, hence having that option. I was so happy to see that that I broke my no-gluten rule for the first time in a few months, and there were no adverse side effects. Actually, I think the sandwiches (and some soy milk from the coffee cart) did a lot to improve my mood and ease my anxiety, which lessened my symptoms.
The show itself was a whirlwind. I was sandwiched (hahaha) in between two professional models in the lineup, and I was second to boot, so I was very worried about doing something klutzy or looking like a doof. Thankfully though, I had gaffer's tape on my shoes, so I didn't trip, stumble, slide, or fall! The model in front of me, Adrienne Currey, who some of you may remember as the first winner of America's Next Top Model, said my dress was cool, so that made me really happy. Although I can see how she would be a bit of a handful to deal with, since she has a bit of an abrasive personality and was smoking an e-cig backstage during the show. But she does her own thing, which I respect.
Walking in the show was an absolute thrill. I've never felt such accomplishment, and nobody has ever cheered like that for me before. The crowd was just so loving and giving in their support of all of the designers.
However, the best part of the show for me was when another designer came up to me right after I had walked pulled out her phone, and showed me that Yaya Han, yes, THE YAYA HAN, had instagramed my design, saying that she loved it!!! There are rare times when I freak out about things, and this was definitely one of them. To have one of the people who inspired me to be better in my cosplay and sewing in general say they loved my design? It was one of the best moments I have ever experienced.
It was also nice to have someone to go through the whole process with. I probably would have freaked out multiple times from the start of the whole thing if my friend Melissa hadn't been there going through it with me. We both did well, and I couldn't be prouder.
After the show, though, came the highlight of the evening. There was a bit of a meet and greet out in the lobby where we took pictures with people, did some interviews, and wound down before the big announcement of the winners. Just as all of the designers were about to go backstage to get ready for that, some seemingly random guy came up to me and my sister and started talking to us about Perrysburg. Yes, Perrysburg. Turns out, he had lived and gone to Elementary school there some 20-25 years ago. Cool. But how is that the best part of the evening, you ask? Well, this guy is actually the Vice President of acquisitions for 1200 Media group, an umbrella organization which includes FUNIMATION. In the end, he ended up giving me his business card and asking me to contact him, as Funimation is apparently looking to do something similar to Her Universe in producing more high end fashion merchandise (not just t-shirts). So I got a potential job offer. All because of good, old Perrysburg. What a small, wondrous world.
Diana ended up sneaking backstage (albeit getting in trouble for it) for the announcement of the winners, and next to the band, we noticed a girl with short, brown hair, and a taller girl with very long, fire-red hair. We were floored. Backstage with us were none other than Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, pretty much the darlings of television and of comic-con. I wanted to go up and say something, but I was too nervous about the announcement, and I figured they probably would like to have a little bit of time with people not coming up to them to talk.
Then came the announcement. There were the two main winners, judges choice and audience choice, as well as runners-up and honorable mentions, although I don't know what prizes they were awarded. I didn't win, obviously, but it was really a stacked field, as they say, so I'm not complaining about it. There were so many good designs with such good construction, I pretty much would have been okay with anyone winning. And there was a lot about my final construction that could have been done better and that I wasn't happy with, so I think I would have felt bad even if I had won.
After that, there was a free after-party and concert with All Time Low. I'm pretty sure I'm the only designer that stayed for that (because Diana wanted to, and she had come to the show just for me so I wanted to do something she wanted to do). Only a small percentage of the audience stayed as well, so it was actually a really small, intimate concert setting despite the large size of the venue. It was also probably the weirdest concert I have ever been to or will ever go to. The band members say the weirdest things, they walked the catwalk with random stuff from the audience, they traveled all around out into the audience with their microphones, and I'm pretty sure they cussed about 50 times in front of an audience that was mostly made up of children. It was absolutely hilarious! And their music wasn't bad either. Not my usual listen, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was a fitting end to a crazy, wonderful day.
Friday: Of course, the next day I got up super, super early to try and get a spot in line for the (last) Legend of Korra panel. Originally I was supposed to have stayed with the Avatar line party group, and they had said I could join very early in the morning on account of my health condition, but once I got there at 6 AM I was told I should just go to the back of the line because there were other groups that had lined up the day before, too. So I was pretty bummed about that, and I didn't have my disability sticker yet since I hadn't been able to go to the con the first two days, so I ended up having to walk around to the back of the convention center. I mean, I understand the whole issue about not saving people places in line, but people shouldn't make promises they can't keep, especially to people who have medical conditions. Just saying.
The panel itself was absolutely fantastic, as I asked one of the line party group to save me a seat even though I was a little farther back in the Ballroom 20 line, and I ended up sitting by two of the most fantastic Avatar fans I've met to date (Amira (Elizabeth) and Liz). I love the comics that they gave me! They are both so talented! We suffered through the Big Bang Theory panel (although Craig Ferguson did make a good host), and then it was time for the Legend of Korra panel, which as we found out from Bryan, would probably be the last one. Meaning that the 4th season of LoK will air most likely next spring. It was seriously one of the best panels from them that I've ever gone to. Watching the episode was great, as there just isn't anything like the energy and response you get from watching the show in a room full of people who love it just as much as you do. And the love from the fans to the creators and cast and vice versa was so palpable. It was just such a fitting last panel. I really can't put into words what it made me feel.
After that, most of the fans went off to the signing at the Nickelodeon booth, but I didn't have a ticket so Diana (who managed to get in to the panel after I did) and I went to the costume illustration panel (which was super boring because let's face it, some artists just aren't entertainers), tried to get her on the Assassin's Creed course (they ended up cutting the line off early for a "professional" show), and tried to do some other stuff in the exhibit hall, which also ended up having huge lines or lines that got cut off early.
Later that day I was supposed to go to a Danny Elfman/Tim Burton film music concert by the San Diego Symphony, but I really wanted to finish my surprise cosplay for Saturday and still get enough sleep, so I ended up doing that the rest of the day. It was nice though, since I had a balcony to work on, Michele came to visit (hadn't seen her in forever), and I could even hear parts of the concert floating across the water to our where our hotel was. I got the costume done by 1 AM, which is great considering I'd only had it 20% done 8 hours before.
Saturday: Saturday was another candidate for "best day of the convention." Got up early again to put on my surprise cosplay and head to the ATLA/LoK fan panel. And if you haven't seen the pictures or video yet, my surprise cosplay was Raava!!! I did a pretty literal interpretation of her design as a spirit, so I had an awkward frame to wear/carry around. The fan panel was awesome (highlights include Jessie Flower cosplaying and acting out in character as Toph), and I ended up winning 3rd place in the costume contest, which was voted on by the panelists!!! The prizes included the two art books and a hardcover of "The Search" comics, as well as some buttons and part 2 of "The Rift." But the best prize was a surprise that Bryan Konietzko brought from Studio Mir: A key line drawing of Bolin as Nuktuk!!! That is getting framed and going on my wall!!! It's so amazing to have a piece of the show that I love so much!
To continue my saga of trying to not hit people in the face with my costume (which believe you me was very difficult), we all headed over to the terrace behind the convention center to have our cosplay photoshoot. That was fantastic as well, and very well organized. Probably one of the best, least stressful photoshoots I've ever been to. Props to Donna on that one! People had great ideas for photos, too! I think my favorite was the one with the Avatars (and at one point, the Cabbage Man) in front of my Raava. (And on a side note, Bryan later said that he was loving all of the Raava cosplays this year! Yay!!!)
While at the meetup, I ended up getting a hold of a bracelet for the Dark Horse signing and passes for the exclusive Legend of Korra video game party that was to happen later in the day. So I went to the signing, and while it was just like any other signing I've been to before, it was also nice because I was able to talk with the creators, comic artists, and cast members present without getting super-nervous. That was a major step forward for me, and maybe a sign that my confidence from long ago is returning. I even spoke with Gurihiru in my very rusty Japanese! Also, I had one of my prize art books signed, which was pretty cool.
After that I was very tired from lugging my costume around, so I changed before going to the party. It was at probably the coolest bar I'd ever seen, and all the drinks and food were on the house (presumably paid for by Nickelodeon). I got a bunch of passes for my family and friends to go, too, so it ended up being the most fun night I have had in a very, very long time. Unfortunately the food wasn't completely vegan, but while I was lamenting that in a comment I made, someone keyed me in to the fact that Bryan Konietzko is vegan. MIND = BLOWN!!! No wonder there are so many references to vegan food and animal rights in these shows!!!
And even after all of that, there was still one more fun time to go with the Avatar Crew, as we had our annual dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. It's grown over the years, for sure, to the point where we were literally taking up half a floor, and we were all super-tired from all of the day's activities and from waiting until 8:30 PM for dinner, but it was a great ending to a fantastic, Korra-filled day!
Sunday: Sunday was more of a lazy day, or rather, a "tried to do things but the lines were way too long and I had no patience for that sort of thing" day. Diana and I did a picture thing at the Teen Wolf booth, and then we tried to do stuff at Nickelodeon and Legendary (for Pacific Rim), but that was where the ridiculously long lines came in. So we ended up trekking over to Petco Park to do the Sleepy Hollow experience with Sarah, which was absolutely fantastic! I had no idea how amazing virtual reality systems are. And then after that I got to meet up with Nina, which was really nice since we haven't seen each other in about a year.
Monday: Monday was travel day to go back home, but I also had some time to do a little soul searching before I left. I realized that since I got to San Diego, I had gotten a lot stronger, physically. I could walk more, stay out longer, and lift heavier things. But, after overhearing some Japanese people in the elevator and not being able to understand what they were saying, I realized that I've forgotten a lot of Japanese since I haven't had many chances to use it. So I'm going to make an active effort to study it every day from now on.
Other general notes: I was tired and overheated a lot, which did bring on some of my usual symptoms, but I was able to get through them and function at a semi-normal level. There was also some of the normal con drama and cleanliness issues (and unwanted guest issues) with the roommates and feeling left behind at times, but you can never really escape that. But I did meet a lot of awesome new people who I hope to be able to see again, and even though I had to skip the first two days and miss a lot of panels and things I wanted to go to due to the fashion show and my health condition, I would have to say that on a whole, based on my successes, it was one of the best SDCCs yet!