SacAnime Summer 2012 (Sunday)

Super special shoutout to the girl who came up and told me she reads my blog. That totally made my day. I wish I could have talked to you more, but I was so surprised and flattered that I had no idea what to say. Get in contact with me if you can though, I'd love to chat sometime!

I attended SacAnime Summer with my boyfriend on Sunday, September 2nd 2012. I cosplayed as maid Chii from Chobits. My cosplay was super last minute, I began working on it around 11pm the night before and finished at 1:30am. So it's not super accurate, but it looks really good regardless, so I'm pleased with it. I wasn't going to go to SacAnime this year, since it's not really worth the two-hour drive, but a friend of mine wanted to buy my old Fullmetal Alchemist books and DVDs from me, and I decided that that was worth the trip. Since we were only going to be there for a few hours on Sunday though, we decided against buying badges.

We left for the convention around 12pm and were making excellent time getting there until, oh yes, you guessed it, we got lost. Getting lost on the way to cons is like a tradition, I factor the time into my plans. We drove for several minutes in the complete opposite direction without realizing it. While we were driving, we passed by a group of cosplayers and a guy with a Tepig backpack, so we knew we were in the right area, we just had no idea which was to go.

We arrived at the convention, and I sent a text to my friend to let her know we were there. She was busy at the time, so my boyfriend and I decided to wander around. The weather was really nice, so we stayed outside in the shade for a while to partake in one of our favorite past-times, people-watching. There was a line for special guest autographs, so there were plenty of people around. A young girl wanted to a take a photo with me and was very sweet. She was also hanging out near us, but I'm too socially awkward for my own good and couldn't figure out how to strike up a conversation with her.

After more wandering, we ended up near the memorial service that was happening. I know that this is a very sensitive and personal topic for a lot of people, and I would like to properly show my respect, but for now, I'll keep it short. There was a memorial service held for Harison Randall, a regular SacAnime attendee who passed away earlier this year. He was in a hit and run accident and saved his girlfriend's life. Many attendees spoke during the memorial, and it was apparent that this man had touched so many people's lives. I only overheard some, but I was very touched by everything I heard and got very choked up myself, even though I didn't know the man. I can be extremely emotional at times, and I couldn't listen to much before I had to leave the area.

It was heating up quickly outside, and more wandering around aimlessly found us inside the hotel with air conditioning. We hung out with some friends for a little while, but didn't really know what to do. We ended up sitting on the floor in the hallways somewhere. At some point, two young girls and their father spotted me and the little girls wanted to take a picture with me. The girls seemed really excited, and after the photo, one of them exclaimed, "Thank you Chii!"

After we got bored of sitting inside, we walked around more and ended up sitting outside in front of the hotel at the fountain. There was music playing courtesy of Team LoveHate, and they were also having a raffle. $5 got you one raffle ticket and a chance to win a pair of Nekomimi, and the money went to the Harison Randall foundation to help people who have been injured in hit and run car accidents. When Nekomimi first emerged on the convention scene, I didn't understand them, they sounded silly and pointless, but eventually I saw so many people with them, I wanted a pair of my own. Nekomimi are costume cat ears that are controlled by the wearer's brainwaves. Unfortunately, they run about $100 per pair. $5 for a chance to win them was excellent, and the money was going to a good cause. I bought two tickets and entered the raffle.

About five minutes later, the raffle began, and I ended up not winning anything. I'm sure pretty much everyone feels like it was rigged though. The same guy won three prizes in a row, and he was friends with the organizers. Just before the raffle started, I saw someone (either one of the organizers or another friend of theirs) give the eventual winner a bunch of tickets. I heard him say, "Here, whatever you win, you can keep, I bought a ton of tickets since no one was buying any." The guy won three prizes, one person won another prize, and it looked like there was supposed to be a fifth prize, but there was no number called for it. Someone walked up to the booth and was handed the fifth prize without a number being called. I'm not sure what happened there at all.

I was really upset that I lost, but the money still went to a good cause, so I shook it off as best as I could. My boyfriend and I found a new place to sit in the shade until my friend called and told me that we could put the manga and DVDs she bought from me into her car since she was leaving. We took them there and said our goodbyes. On our way back to my boyfriend's car to put the container we kept the books in away, we walked through the hotel area we had walked through earlier. We walked past a couple with their kid in a stroller, and I heard the man saying, "I just want to go somewhere we can just relax." I figured that he wasn't affiliated with the convention and the family was just staying at the hotel on vacation, so I thought nothing of it.

A few steps later, my boyfriend gets really serious and says, "That was Johnny Young Bosch." I had already forgotten about the couple from earlier and was really confused. My boyfriend said, "The guy with his wife and the kid in the stroller. That was Johnny Young Bosh." What. We geeked out for a few minutes, even though we actually had no interaction with the man (and most of the geeking out was done by my boyfriend). We put the container back in the car, took one more walk around the convention, and then left. We stopped by Starbucks before getting on the freeway and heading for home.

Somehow, I actually had a really nice time at SacAnime. I might return again and still not buy a badge. Maybe go on a different day and actually plan to hang out with more people instead of playing it by ear.

*Special road trip bonus story!*
On the way home from every convention and gathering, I end up half disrobing in the car. I took off my wig, petticoat, apron, and stockings in the car. After a while on the freeway, we were hungry enough to stop for food. We passed by several McDonald's, I finally convinced my boyfriend to get off at the next exit and promised him that there would be a McDonald's there. He didn't believe me at first, but sure enough, a block away from the freeway exit, there was McDonald's.

We drove around but for some reason couldn't find a drive-through. As I mentioned, I had taken off a lot of my costume, so I was just down to a shirt and my skirt (which was way too short, but usually fine with a petticoat). I begrudgingly got out of the car to go inside McDonald's figure that food was more important than my embarrassment over my half-dressed self. The world had a different plan for me however, as soon as I stepped out of the car, a pickup truck pulled up nearby, and a huge gust of wind picked up my skirt.

I thought I had caught it in time and adequately held my skirt down, but I guess I was wrong, the pickup truck didn't leave. I thought I was imagining things and maybe the guys in the pickup truck were looking at something else other than me. My boyfriend and I walked toward the McDonald's and then spotted where the drive-through was. We hopped back in the car, but not before I noticed the two people in the pickup truck intently staring at something. I still thought it was in my head until the second I got in the car and the pickup truck drove away.

Dear Pickup Truck Guys,
You are nasty creeps, and every fiber of my being wishes to punch you where it hurts.
Sincerely, Me

Baccano! in Historic Niles

I live near the historic town of Niles. Some short time after watching "Baccano!", I visited Niles, and from then on, all I could think of was getting a "Baccano!" cosplay group together there and riding on the steam train. Shortly after that, my mom brought home a steam train schedule, and I decided that this would happen. The decided date was August 5th, 2012. It went so much better than I ever could have imagined.

Planning began through a Facebook event. I invited a few of my friends who I thought might be interested, and they in turn invited a few more friends who might be interested. Really a vast majority of the people-finding was done by my friend, she is absolutely amazing at getting cosplay groups together, and this would not have been nearly as amazing as it was without her. We had sewing parties, which sometimes included Skyping with people who couldn't make it, and we all managed to get everything done in time. Our final group included Miria Harvent (myself), Isaac Dian, Jacuzzi Splot, Nice Holystone, Nick (aka Jacuzzi's lackey), Lua Klein, Chane Laforet, Ennis, and Czeslaw Meyer. My boyfriend also tagged along as an appropriately-dressed (1920's-style) bystander/random black suit, and three photographers.

Since I was doing Jacuzzi's tattoo and Nice's scars, it was decided that a few people would meet at my house before going to Niles. Somehow, this turned into, "Hey, everyone, let's all go!" Now, my house isn't super tiny, but it's not huge either, and ten people in my living room and bathroom as a lot. To top things off, of course, a fair amount of us were running late. Luckily no one else in my house was home, it would have been absolute pandemonium then. A bunch of people didn't want to drive over while in cosplay, so they needed to use the bathroom or my bedroom to change or do makeup. It took longer than I had anticipated to do Nice's scars, and I had to have Czes seal them. I had forgotten that I was lending Isaac a belt, and I had to scramble to find that. Jacuzzi had to spray-dye Chane's hair in the front lawn, and Jacuzzi was also lending Nick a pair of suspenders. I kind of wish a photographer had shown up to my house too, the candid shots would have been amazing.

Somehow, we made it to Niles relatively on time. On the way there, I saw what appeared to be a severed arm hanging out of the back of a pickup truck. I pointed it out, but apparently no one else saw the truck. We could have turned around to follow the truck, but it was long gone (and we were running late). I think it was fake anyway. (I hope.) In NIles, we met up with the photographers, who had all been there at the designated meeting time (at least a half an hour before we got there, if not longer), and we caught the bus that would take us to the train.

The line to get tickets seemed surprisingly long, even though it actually only took ten minutes tops for our group to get our tickets. Train rides in Niles are fairly popular, but for some reason, I had assumed that the tradition was dying down some and there'd be next to no line. We took the time waiting for the train to try to get into character some (within reason, of course, we were in public after all). I'm not an overly outgoing, energetic, or loud person, so getting into character for Miria was kind of difficult. Luckily, I felt really comfortable with the group, so eventually I picked up the character and ran with it.

While we waited, we also tried to decide which train car to ride on. Since we were essentially doing a photoshoot, we wanted a nice setting, and it was hard to determine what car was going to give us what we wanted. I had done some research in advanced and found that the dining car appeared to be the nicest/fanciest. When the train arrived, it was easy to pick out which car was the dining car (it said "Dining Car" on the outside). Unfortunately, it was one of the cars that you could board directly onto, so we were worried that it would be crowded.

We got on, and at first it looked like there wasn't going to be enough room for us. Our group easily took up half of the entire dining car. Thankfully, a nice family moved a couple of tables over so that our group could all sit together. The photographers claimed a table and bench seat for themselves, and the rest of us attempted to organize ourselves by character. We had a really random assortment of characters, so it was pretty difficult, but it all worked out in the end.

Czeslaw and Ennis
Isaac and Miria
Also Chane and random black suit

Nice and Jacuzzi
(Across the aisle from Jacuzzi)
(I think across the table from Nick)
One of the conductors passed through the dining car on the way to the engine and stopped to compliment our group on our outfits. He thanked us for dressing in period-appropriate clothes. He told us that it shows respect to the train and its history. While this wasn't our intent, I was ecstatic that we had made the conductor happy and that our getup was well-received by staff.

Once the train began moving, shenanigans ensued.
I had previously made Isaac and myself
some clever disguises.
We didn't directly interact with any other passengers on the train and tried our best to keep to ourselves, but unfortunately, due to just how many of us there were, we were pretty loud. On top of that, there's no denying that we were weird. We had strange in-character conversations and were just generally rambunctious. We couldn't help it, we were excited and having fun. Eventually, we looked around and realized that we had the entire dining car to ourselves. Of course, this was excellent for photos and more shenanigans, but I think all of us felt that pang of guilt that we had essentially scared away the other passengers because we were weird and possibly obnoxious, if only due to the volume. (Luckily, the train wasn't actually too full and there were plenty of other places for the other passengers to go, so it's not like we pushed them out into a crowded train, but I still felt pretty bad.)

Once we had full run of the dining car, we began taking more pictures since we could use more space and be more in-character.

Whee! Adventure~
This is my favorite photo of the entire set. The train had stopped to let another train pass by (so we did this while it was safe). We're also on the opposite side from where the other train passed. We're eccentric, not stupid, haha.

I had originally wanted to actually arm wrestle,
but it turned into just fake arm-wrestling.
When we got to the end of the train ride, we were told that we could either stay on the train or get off to walk around Sunol for ten or fifteen minutes. We didn't want to lose our excellent dining car seats or gather up all of our stuff, so we stayed on. Once the train emptied some, we more or less had free run of the entire train (except the engine and caboose). We left a couple of people to watch our stuff in the dining car and then wandered the train a little. I thought that it was pretty cool that each train car had an entirely different look and feel.

We stopped in a very nice, empty passenger car to get a couple of group photos. Once again, organizing ourselves was pretty difficult, but we managed.

The train ride back was much less in-character than the ride there, but our group's size and volume once again scared a majority if not all of the other passengers off of the dining car. A few of us ended up in a sunflower seed-shelling contest, which ultimately ended in the two teams eating each-others shelled seeds in an attempt to decrease their numbers. We never did find out who won really, I don't think anyone was willing to count the seeds anyway. Another highlight was when Isaac and I managed to say "How" in perfect synchronicity with straight faces and appropriate hand motions. I'm still not entirely sure how much of our group heard or saw it, but we accomplished my goal of the day, so I was happy.

Miria plays tricks on a sleepy Czes.
We took the bus back and managed to all cram into the back of the bus to leave room for other passengers near the front, and so that we would bother less people.
Ennis is not amused by Miria's hijinks
(but Czes is).
When we got back to the main street of Niles, we walked to the caboose that sits in the park for some more photos. We attempted to re-organize ourselves (still an impressive feat in itself) while we waited for other people to finish taking photos on the caboose.

Our group on the caboose

Don't worry, Czes! Isaac and Miria will save you!
Trying to "break in" to the caboose
After a few photos, we decided to look at some of the shops in Niles. Jacuzzi had promised to buy me fudge as payment for putting his tattoo on. Of course, that'd be too simple. Instead, Isaac and Miria helped Jacuzzi pick out a type of fudge to buy for Nice, then stole it. (It was delicious, by the way.) After that, we pretty much dispersed and went home. I was pretty tired, being Miria is really energy-consuming. I can only imagine how tired Isaac was, I was just feeding off of his energy most of the time. It was a really fun day though, I'd love to get everyone back together and do it again some time. Maybe on another train, or another location. A historic speakeasy, one that's not operating anymore so we don't have to be 21 to be in there, would be nice maybe.