I have at least 1,500 Dragon Con cosplay photos to sort and edit (ACK!), but first...
Show of hands, who else is thinking Farpoint Station?
The day before Dragon Con John and I visited the Georgia Aquarium for the first time, and despite my efforts to not take any pictures, I ended up "borrowing" John's camera quite a bit.
Dragon Con was amazing and inspiring and exhilarating as always, and I find it gets a little easier each year, thank goodness, as I get better at crowd maneuvering and remembering where everything is. We met so many amazing readers - many at their first con ever! - which really made the time zip by. In fact, I think we did less than half of what I had scheduled, but at least we got to see the whole cast of Warehouse 13 crying together on stage. (SO SWEET.)
I also did a costume change in a parking garage, finally met steampunk Darth Vader, helped a fan recreate a childhood photo with Dreamfinder, and attended a dance party with Lord Voldemort - who was a surprisingly nice guy. ;)
This year we had a lot of problems with Cake Wrecks over the weekend, though, so almost every day John was fielding new emergencies over the phone & stressing over not being near a computer. First the site went down, then comments, then there were ad problems redirecting site traffic, and then some bakers squabbling over who should get credit for a Sunday Sweet - and who kept changing their mind before ultimately demanding the Sweet be pulled so NO ONE would get credit.
So a lot of the con John was off in the corner somewhere with his phone, yelling to be heard over the massive crowds, and generally having a crappy time of it. :(
In fact, if you'll indulge me, I have to vent a little about my day job now. But first, more jellyfish!
Ahhhh. So soothing.
Since May of 2008 John & I have been on-call 24/7 for CW, and I can mark most vacations since then by which site-related emergency happened during it. We can outsource a few things like comment moderation, but ultimately, whether it's a virus on the ads or a controversy over vagina cakes, John is the only one who can handle the big stuff. And it's exhausting, I gotta tell you, having my happy hubby snatched away at a second's notice, and seemingly every time we try to get away for a while.
I've come to terms with the workload and the writer's block and the creative challenge of writing about cake 6 days a week, every week, but weekends like this - plus the occasional behind-the-scenes drama with readers & bakers - are the most draining and soul-sucking part of it all.
Here, have another jelly:
Straight off the camera, no cropping or editing at all. Pretty, huh?
Ok, back to the Jen Vent.
A few weeks ago a famously nasty TV baker ripped John a new one - over Sunday Sweets. As in, we said nice things about TV baker's cake, and TV baker was furious that we dared show TV baker's cake. John immediately apologized, removed the photo within three hours of it going up, and was incredibly kind about the whole thing. (I could never have been so sweet, given how angry and belittling the initial e-mail was.)
In response we got more threats, insults, and a very public rant on TV baker's FB page that went so far as to misquote John, making us out to be some kind of cartoon villains. Again, OVER SUNDAY SWEETS. I just... I mean... how? How can someone - a famous someone - be so mean over something trying to be nice?
Keeping silent over perceived injustices is hard enough, but when they happen to John? Patient, long-suffering, always-apologizing-when-it's-not-his-fault John? ARG. It took all my strength not to rush to his defense, and to publicly post that e-mail exchange on CW. It ate at me for days. It still does - which I guess is pretty obvious right now, huh?
But I hate conflict. And I hate negativity. And I hate complaining! (Heh. Aheh. Irony.)
I think it's time for another jellyfish.
OoooOOOOooo. I feel... calm. I am floating... in a sea... of positivity.
Sorry for the gloomy complaint dump, guys. Sometimes I just want someone to know what goes on behind all the lolz and punny commentary. I have an amazing job, and I'm grateful John & I still have fun with it, but it does cut us to the core from time to time. Even after six years of internet immersion, we still cry, lose sleep, and bang our heads on the desk in desperate frustration. I get a sinking feeling every time John's phone rings at 9:04AM, wondering who's mad at us now, or what went wrong on the site, or which icing balloon looks a little TOO phallic, or maybe not phallic enough.
Even after the problem is corrected, the bad feelings that get hurled at us linger, dragging us down and making it that much harder to be funny on demand.
We live our lives one damning tweet or headline away from total social media and career disaster. All it takes is one accusation, one misquote, one joke-gone-wrong, and the entire internet can turn against us in an instant. That's not hyperbole; we've all seen it happen many times. And balancing a writing career on that knife-edge of humor - too bland and no one reads, too edgy and you invite backlash - is tough, to say the least.
Anyway, so when I'm in the midst of Dragon Con, among Our People, trying to escape cake and controversy, and the phone keeps ringing, and John keeps sighing, and the whole blessed internet just won't leave us alone for one lousy weekend, I get kinda grumpy about my day job.
And that's why I'm sitting here, spilling my guts to you guys and editing aquarium pictures.
John took this one, so it's his favorite.
And you know what? I actually feel a lot better now.
I started Epbot as an escape, but I got this amazing community in return. On days like today, it's also my pressure valve. So if you actually read through all that mess, thanks for sticking with me.
(And if not, I hope you at least liked the pictures.)
Now as a reward, here's our favorite river otter:
She also dragged her back legs most of the time instead of walking on them, but I think that was just laziness, since she stood up like this to look through the window several times:
Watching her drag herself over to the window - shaking away - to peer out at me was such a special moment. I know they're not artistic photos or anything, but they make me smile.
And my last few favorites:
That penguin's expression, you guys. Ha!
Ok, peeps, stay tuned for my actual Dragon Con coverage, and some amaaaazing costumes!
And hey, if you're having a crappy day: tomorrow will be better. Promise.