The Declassified Convention Survival Guide

comicpalooza guardians

I love going to conventions. I don’t get to go as often as I used to in college, but this year, I got to go to Comicpalooza again!

Since there will be many conventions happening all around the country this summer, here are some tips for making the most out of your con experience.

  1. Plan ahead. If you’re 100% certain that you’re gonna go to this convention, book your tickets ASAP. Take advantage of early bird prices or special offers. You don’t even have to go for all three days. Pick one day. Trust me, it will be more than enough. It also helps to know the schedule, too.
  2. Have a really good costume. You don’t have to know how to sew in order to make an amazing cosplay. My Mantis cosplay is made from stuff I have in my closet. The only things I actually made were the sleeves (which I knitted) and the headband antennae.
  3. Find good parking/transportation. If you can’t book a hotel close to the convention, find a good parking space that’s within walking distance.
  4. Get there early. Lines for getting your pass, autographs, and the big Q&As are long. Get a program as soon as you get there and figure out which events are most important for you.
  5. Keep Captain Cold’s words in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ReF-nlrQAY. The best of plans will inevitably fall apart, so don’t panic if you miss out on the big Q&A or can’t afford a picture with your favorite celebrity. You’re at the con to have fun!
  6. Remember to eat and drink! With all the events going on, it’s important to make time for a little snack and water break. If you have food allergies like me, bring a snack or figure out what places nearby will have something you can eat.
  7. Splurge wisely. It is REALLY tempting to blow all your money on everything you see, but if you’re on a budget like me, it’s better to splurge on one big thing than spending your money on tshirts. Photo ops are my best recommendation. A picture is worth a lot, at least to me. It may not sell on eBay, but that’s not really the point.

Overall, I had a fun time at Comicpalooza. Check out my photos on my Instagram:

How To Accept What You Can't Change In No Easy Steps

serenity rain

I’ve talked about The Serenity Prayer on this blog before (as well as the film Serenity). I even liked reading The Way of Serenity by Fr. Jonathan Morris. I feel particularly drawn to the Serenity Prayer lately because I’m having problems adjusting to change again. Or rather, the aftermath of the changes that came into my life. I’ve embraced the idea of trying new things, but sometimes, the new things are only there for a little while.

It’s kind of like going to Disneyland for the first time or to a seriously awesome retreat. When you try new things like volunteering or going to a new place, the experience can be amazing and overwhelming and you just get caught up in a blissful spiritual high. Then all of a sudden, you find yourself back to reality and you can’t go back and repeat that experience again.

I’ve been taking care of 2 bamboo plants and a small batch of mini-roses. Although I water them regularly, the roses are currently wilting and one of the stems of my bamboo plant is turning yellow. I can’t help but feel like these plants are reflecting how I feel spiritually. Plants can die from over-watering just as much as they can die from not being watered enough. Sometimes, spiritual thirst can come from wanting too much just as much as it can from not feeling anything.

Maybe it’s just one of those summer-is-almost-over kind of downer feelings, but I feel my life transitioning again and I’m not sure where it’ll go this time. I’m missing the fun stuff I did with my friends and dread being stuck in a rut again. But I have to accept where I am right now, whether I like it or not.

If there’s anything I learned this summer, it’s that God will always give you what you ask for, but not in the ways that you expect. There is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. Sometimes people only come into your life for a little while and sometimes there are people who will change your life forever. But you can’t cling onto whatever or whomever made you feel a certain way because those things aren’t God. If you love something, you gotta let it go. If you keep loving it, it will come back to you. Or whatever you want will come back in a different way. But it’s ultimately up to God.

So if you’re like me and right now you’re feeling bummed about summer being close to over (or already over depending on when you start school), pray the Serenity Prayer. I have my own modified version because I can’t resist making a Firefly joke.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

And if I can’t have any of those things right now,

I’ll just be here binge-watching Firefly

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

Things Adults Can Learn from Vacation Bible School

mount everest

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

I’ve been a regular volunteer at my parish’s Vacation Bible School for a couple years now. I love working with kids, even if they can be exhausting. There’s just something about kids that makes me smile.

Summertime is a popular time for retreats. Unfortunately, these retreats are often expensive, so for the past couple years, Vacation Bible School has been the closest thing I get to a summer retreat before I go off to volunteer for my local Awakening retreat. (If you don’t know what an Awakening retreat is, go to the Awakening Retreat site and find one in your area. It’ll change your life.)

I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of VBS is kind of ridiculous. It’s watered-down Scripture lessons with more time spent on games and food than actually learning anything. The themes are bit silly as well and it boggles the mind how you can relate themes like “G-Force,” “Jungle Safari,” and “Treasure Island” to the Bible. Not to mention that the songs range from pretty good to mediocre to just plain awful. And this is coming from the girl who listened to the many, many one-hit wonder bands that came out in the early 2000s.

But truth is where you find it. And while the music, the games, and the activities can all be very silly, there are still things adults can learn alongside their kids from the lessons that Vacation Bible School teaches.

The theme for the first VBS I volunteered at was Athens. I played the role of a shopkeeper who did crafts with the kids. The stories in VBS focused on Paul preaching the Gospel to those who didn’t know or didn’t believe in God in Athens. The shopkeepers were asked to portray different perspectives. I pretended to be someone who didn’t believe in God but grew to understand Paul’s teachings. It was my first time volunteering and there were some messes made, but I was inspired by how the kids kept cool under pressure, even when I spilled a bottle of ink while in the middle of teaching them how to write Greek letters.

A year ago, the theme my parish did was Wilderness Escape, which coincided nicely with a period of spiritual dryness that I struggled with at the time. The Bible adventures focused on Moses and the Hebrews wandering in the desert. This time, I was a group leader. The lessons that I was teaching to the kids also applied to me, in a great instance of Divine Providence. I also learned that sometimes, I’m just as temperamental as the kids can be when they act like sore losers, but in the end, it’s all in good fun.

This year, my parish is doing Everest. The Bible stories that the kids will learn will center on the prophet Elijah, the healing of Naaman, Jesus having the power to forgive sins, and Jesus’s promise of everlasting love. The catchphrase for Everest is “Hold on!” and the songs center on holding onto our faith and trusting in God. My favorite one is “One Thing Remains,” given that it’s an actual song. But given how my faith has been constantly tested this year, I hope to get as much out of the lessons and key verses this week as much as the kids do.

There will hopefully be pictures at the end of the week. Pray for the earthquake victims in Nepal as well as for the kids going through VBS this summer.

Summer Reading

You know a tradition from school I really miss? Summer Reading. Not the part where I was required to write book reports, but just the idea of getting to read books over the summer. This summer, I signed up for my library’s adult summer reading program. I’m also doing a reading challenge on Goodreads.

Aside from one re-read (Eat, Pray, Love), all of the books I read this year were new ones. The list I have is a mix of Catholic nonfiction, mystery novels, and young adult novels. And right now, I’m reading poetry. I’m starting with the poems and short stories of Edgar Allan Poe and will start reading Emily Dickinson next month. I’m planning on checking out a lot more poetry from my library soon.

One particular author that I love so far is Richard Castle, author of the Nikki Heat series. I finished Frozen Heat and I just couldn’t put it down. I had one of those nights that I decided to stay up just to finish a book. When was the last time that happened to me? Next to never. Now I can’t wait for the release of the next Nikki Heat book. At the very least it will feed my Castle hunger until it returns this September.

One thing you can say about books: they don’t have hiatuses or commercial breaks. And reading these new books reminded me that there was a lot more out there than just the next big post-apocalyptic YA sci-fi series. (They’re all starting to look the same to me, no offense.)  I’m hoping to read Rainbow Rowell’s books soon, but right now, I’m waiting on my e-book copy of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennetwhich comes out this month.

I started out this year with the resolution to read 12 new books. I think it’s safe to say that I’m definitely on my way.

So what are you reading this summer?