Thoughts from UshiCon, Austin and a local Sake Brewery

I am back from another convention. I was accepted as a panelist for UshiCon and so I went. If you’re close to me personally, you know this convention was… a lot. Disorganization and poor communication made it hard to plan for, hard to get excited for and hard to do but I’ve never turned my back on a convention and I don’t plan on doing so now. I spent weeks frantic over which of my already finished costumes to wear and weeks frantic over the state of my panels and me as a panelist. I want to talk about this con as I have talked about others since this one doesn’t lend towards a flowing narrative, let’s bring back the old format: you’re welcome. 

  • Austin has too many toll roads. If this is supposed to help boost the economy then I want to see it boost the economy. I get tolls pay for roads but good lord I do not look forward to my bill that will be sent to me sometime within the next couple of months. 
  • Austin is a beautiful city that is simultaneously very close and very far away full of things I quite like a bit. 
  • The hotel my friend and I were staying at this go around as beautiful and I’m so glad I found a good one. I was fretting over the condition of the hotel only to redeem myself from the previous year where we stayed in Kamoshida’s Castle with a staircase that went to nowhere. 

Now for some context. UshiCon is a con I’ve tried to get into for years. It was just never at a good time so I could never make it. It’s an 18+ con and I’ve been trying to visit since college. I put in a panel application late last year and was shocked to find out that I was. The convention itself is older, in its 15th iteration of the eponymous convention. I was lured in by the hopes of an older audience as recently I have been disillusioned and deep in the ennui of being an anime fan, panelist and human person. I assumed that maybe being around a group of older peers would help.

Back to the bullet points: 

  • Whole Foods is a magical land full of delicious and over-priced food. I regret nothing.
  • The Domain is a mall that I could live in but also reminds me of all of the best and worst parts of gentrification and generational wealth. 
  • It was nice to get some hallway photos for once. 
    • For context: hallways are when photographers ask to take photos of you in the con hallway. It typically means you look good and are worth photographing.
  • Having costumes and panels done is wonderful and it means moving forward, I want to work on having that material done way before the convention.
  • Getting ready in a hotel bathroom is indeed an art form; and one I am getting shockingly good at including applying makeup, wigs

One of the detours I took on this trip was to a local sake distillery: Texas Sake and FOR THE LOVE OF KAMI-SAMA their stuff is delicious. Honestly, some of the best sake I’ve ever had in my life and you should support them if you’re anywhere near Austin. Austin did feature some delicious food including Cafe Eden which had some of the best chicken katsu I’ve ever had and Little Lucy’s donuts which is a pink food truck that serves mini donuts and I could just live there; let’s be honest. Also I found a cute little succulent shop that nearly resulted in Toi gaining a sibling…which may happen this year regardless.

This convention didn’t bring a lot to me as far as big bombastic moments like larger cons but I do want to get a little personal here. This convention opened my eyes and well…let’s ditch the bullet points. 

I have been struggling as a panelist for the last year or two. I’ve been chasing the high of packed houses from 2015 and 2016. I’ve been chasing this high that I can still dazzle audiences and still be good. But my numbers have not been the best in the last few years, hell; I’ve had flat out bad conventions in the last few years and in tying so much of myself and my self-worth to paneling; I hated myself. I was not my best and I was bitterly disappointed and cruel to myself. I had told myself over and over again that I liked small crowds and that surely it was my fault that audience participation had dwindled and my numbers weren’t the same. It was my fault, my failure, and my inadequacies. 

UshiCon told me that I was partially right. I do like paneling. I do like small and engaged crowds. I am good at this and all of those things were so needed for me, my career and my ego. 

I have spent the last few years beating my head against a wall obsessing over what I was doing wrong even though the answers were right in front of me. I was ignoring changes in my audience, changes in trends and changing in how conventions are to begin with. I have spent the last few years chasing a dragon that flew off years ago; hoping lightning would strike twice and shunning any other success I had. 

During UshiCon I had a guy say that I changed his view on media criticism. I met a fan who said they loved my energy. I had questions that spilled out into the hallway and I couldn’t see any of that as success because I didn’t have a packed house. 

And it took some serious self-reflection and some serious emotional time to realize that I was not helping myself. I was giving myself too much time and resenting a lack of questions during my panels rather than the simple answer of just asking for less damn time. I was upset at low numbers as I forgot that for most conventions: fan panelist attendance is down if you aren’t like Youtube famous. 

I spent years mad at myself for nothing; well, for things that are rather easy to fix. 

It also reminded me that I am so blessed to have Carlos as a co-panelist. I traveled with another friend of mine who I am indeed close to but certainly communicates in a way that was less helpful to me: which to be fair, I’m awful at communicating my needs. At this stage, Carlos is damn near psychic and knows my needs and knows how to talk me up, talk me down and keep me grounded and even; and I only realize how much I appreciate him and need him during those moments of intense stress and emotional exhaustion when he isn’t there.  

UshiCon was a good time. I can’t say it was a great time, but it was a good time. It’s given me a new focus and a new drive to be better that I have needed now for a few years. I look forward to more conventions this year; maybe even one for fun; I haven’t taken a con off in years so maybe I’ll just visit one to visit. I look forward to retooling my formula and being the best version of me. I’m not the same person I was in 2015. The world is not the same world as it was in 2015. I’m not a bad person for not being able to pack a house consistently; most performers can’t.

So thank you to all of those who came to see me during Ushicon. Thank you to Ushicon for having me. Thank you to my friends who keep me humble and thanks to my anxiety that never lets me think too many positive things about myself. 

See you all next con. 

Thoughts from A-Kon 30

Normally, when I write these posts, I do them in a bulleted list. But this time, I’d like to try something different. I want to try and structure these thoughts a little more. I hope that you enjoy this small descent into madness.


“I don’t want to be the Akira.” I whined from behind Carlos in the hotel hallway. I had made yet another reference to Devilman Crybaby, a series that had broken me two years ago and had become a vital part of our friendship. Much like how boy’s love characters fight over who is the seme or the uke, we argue over who is the Ryo (literally Satan) and who is the Akira (a dumb but good guy doing his best). We had checked into a hotel that was perfect in every way. It was close to the con site, close to the places we liked to hang out and we each got our own bedrooms and bathrooms. The kitchen had a stove and oven and the living room had a fire place we were not allowed to use but did look good in photos. I had driven to Dallas from San Antonio earlier that morning and this convention had been stressful to deal with. Before traveling, I had managed to get myself into a minor car accident and then prepping for the convention itself was exhausting. I didn’t get my panel time until less than a week before the convention. The con had moved from Fort Worth to Fair Park and many people complained and thus Carlos and I complained. We lovingly referred to it as TrashCon as we prepared for the convention. The move was an unpopular choice in the convention’s part. Moving it to Fair Park meant that it was in a less than safe at times part of Dallas and it was hectic and mostly outdoors. But a lot of the gripes people had with the move seemed to be unneeded. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Carlos and I dropped off our bags and went to lunch at a Long John Silvers/ A & W combo where I ordered too much damn food and felt like I was going to die.

We went back to the hotel and I had time to change before having two panels on Thursday. I cosplayed as Mello because I love being a chocolate-loving sociopath. We parked fairly easily at Fair Park and though the walk from the parking lot to the main registration building felt like a death march, it wasn’t so bad. But the heat already began to feel oppressive under my makeup, wig and compression shirt. I got to my first panel room about an hour early and it was empty so Carlos and I got to set up and entertain the few guests that had already settled in because it was hot and the panel rooms were inside and had air conditioning. The panel which covered the Mary Sue trope was only about half an hour as it was mostly me just preaching to the choir but it was time in the air conditioning so I could not complain. I had time in between my next panel and we mostly wandered around the Dealer’s Room where Carlos immediately found a very on brand button for me and we decided to simply go back to the hotel for a little while to rest. We returned to convention to finish up with another panel this one on Fandoms where I faced my greatest enemy: noise.

The new set up in Fair Park’s Grand Place felt a little like a flea market. Lots of structures made with pipes and fabric coverings and that would have been fine but every panel heard everyone else’s noise. I was the loud one during my first panel but my second one I was in between an idol performance and some sort of horrible karaoke event and so much of the video footage likely will just be me rolling my eyes and trying to fight against such awful audio.

We returned to the hotel, ordered pizza and spent the evening watching Into the Spiderverse and living our best Peter B. Parker lives.

Oh, and returning back to our car the second time, we heard a gunshot from one of the neighboring apartment complexes and our first time returning to the parking lot, we hired a man in a bike taxi and paid him double for the ride as I shouted whilst in a blonde wig “Ja ne, weebs.” as Carlos and I cackled as we zoomed past normies using their human legs.


Day Two started with breakfast and deciding to go to convention a little later hoping that the sun would be less of a miserable force. We decided to use some of our free time to go to Daiso and I shopped a lot and then oh lunch. Lunch was at Kura Revolving Sushi. Kura has a promotion going with Naruto and I was determined to eat the 15 plates needed for a prize with a lot of help from Carlos. I ate so many pieces of snow crab nigiri and I felt like I was climbing a mountain to keep eating despite my fickle appetite and I did win a Sasuke Uchiha eraser that I will never use but will treasure until I die.

We did not plan though for the sun to pull to giant “to hell with you, nerd” and it was actually cooler as we faffed around shopping rather than when we did finally arrive closer to evening at convention and it was hot as Ryo in that one strange technicolor nightmare club.

Day Two ended with some shopping and mostly hunting for a poster that will later become very important to the plot, I mean the story.

Dinner for Day Two was spent at Olive Garden, a place I have not been to in years and had strangely missed.

Friday night we went swimming and I got to wax philosophic about Free! one more time. I sat in the pool on my back looking up at the ceiling telling Carlos that very few people saw me like this, laid back, enjoying the water. I said that many people saw me as the more high strung Makoto, which is not false, but Carlos gets to see me as Haru: mostly wanting to be near the water and honestly a little listless.

I also made Carlos an entire peach cobbler because I am a good person.


Day Three I decided to not be lazy and get into costume. We had breakfast again and decided to go early and hope that the sun would not be cruel. I had made a Drifloon maid outfit for the convention because of course I did and I put on my makeup after breakfast and we set out to convention. The mask was a huge pain as I could still smell the paint I used and the heat of my breath and the stuffiness of the room drained me nearly immediately. I got a few photos taken of me which meant posing with a tea set I spent days on and doing the typical peace-sign anime idol pose. But a mask also meant not speaking as it was mostly muffled and resulted in me mostly making annoyed little whines and tired little moans to express my feelings to Carlos who was irked by my transformation fully into an anime idol.

We did more shopping and then decided to break away and go back to the hotel to cool down. We chose a local Tex-Mex place and I got queso and tequila drunk before attempting a small raid on a local Whole Foods Market.

Saturday night was spent ordering more food and we made two entertainment choices that evening. We watched YugiOh: Dark Side of Dimensions in which Seto Kaiba builds a literal space ship to be with his boyfriend, Atem, after the end of the main series and the rest of the plot mostly flopped around and it honestly made me hate the series a little with its camp and lack of logic. It was a lovely garbage fire and then we watched a series that I asked you to put a pin in based on a poster.

Before my accident I was asked to by a close friend to watch the anime Sarazanmai, a show about three boys that are turned into Kappas and must do things. I got two episodes in before I decided the show was too weird for me and honestly, it made me hate anime a little. But this person who means the world to me asked for me to be on the lookout for merch from the series and I picked up a print of two of their favorite characters. I was annoyed by having to do something that was for a series I didn’t care about but Carlos was sick of my complaining and encouraged me to try the show again. We ended up watching 5 episodes in one night before I managed to in my best idol voice mimic a line from the show and nearly tripped and fell over one of Carlos’ shoes: Kami-sama was finished with my nonsense.

I realized in that moment that I didn’t hate the show, I just needed a better reason to watch it. This is the same person who had so lovingly coaxed me into watching Yuri on Ice and thus I did hate that series because I don’t like being told what to do. This person isn’t a bad person, just wanted me to try something new and I am a stubborn trash goblin. The series is fine and the more I thought about it, the more curious I am and will likely finish it.

Back to talking about convention: the new set up was actually really good. There were lots of water and hydration stations. Lots of ice cream (I got an alcoholic wine pop day one but I didn’t finish it because it’s malt liquor and I can’t handle malt liquor especially before I’m meant to go on stage and talk about feminism). The walking wasn’t so bad but the Dealer’s Room, I have issues. The aisles were really narrow and that made traffic insane. If one person stalled or stopped for a photo, it backed up traffic and made a hot room full of people even more hot. That is my major gripe aside from the bad rooms in the Grand Place. Also, dollar water was a wonderful idea as well as the giant cooling misting fans.


Sunday was the last day of con and I had one more panel to go, Research Tips for Writers. Sunday featured a lot of packing and getting ready to go back on the road. The panel went wonderfully well and I got to be in a cool room that was literally called The Library. I got to have a more relaxed panel this time which was more fun if I could ignore the people that wandered into the cool room just to take pictures. I had a wonderful time and even though I was tired, it was worth it to do. We did a final lap around the Dealer’s Room, more things were bought and we decided to get lunch. We were originally going to go to Gen Korean BBQ but that place was packed and before I arrived, Carlos had been gushing about this shabu shabu place nearby. We had already planned on getting my post panel cake from Mozart (also nearby) so we decided to try something new: shabu shabu. We entered the restaurant that looked like the bar from Kill Bill Vol. 1 and we ate so much shabu shabu, a hot pot of broth that is then filled with things like rice cakes and veggies and noodles to make a rich soup later after one is finished dipping meat and softer veggies in for a wonderful dining experience. I ate with gusto, something that my friends have been concerned about recently, and the protein did help me feel a little less drained. Also, when you place potatoes into your caldron of hot broth, it becomes like a little hot bomb that will burn you out of spite. I added so much sriracha to my hot pot that my broth turned red with spice.

I got my post panel cake and it felt like all was going to be okay. We discussed the timing issues I had earlier in the week and we’re still learning how to overcome that.

The drive back to the hotel was…different. I won’t go into details here but I left Dallas feeling an odd mix of feelings that only got to simmer and brew as I sat in traffic.

I got home late last night and did my best to unpack my clothes and my feelings.

Overall, I never regret convention and A-Kon despite its rocky start was worth it. The new owner and shift to a new place did make for a very hectic con and it was hard to plan for and build hype for: but going in with no expectations or honestly, expectations of it being bad, made for a very good convention.

We watched Bar Rescue and anime and Live PD and cooked and ate and enjoyed ourselves. I had fun with my best friend and saw places I miss when I return home. I’m happy to be in my own bed, but I’m still so glad I went.

Sure, A-Kon was in places a brilliant TrashCon. But it was my TrashCon and the memories I made during it will stay with me for the remainder of my days.

Thoughts from A-Kon 29

_This is obviously Kamoshida's castle. Look at those doors that go to nowhere. This is clearly a castle from Persona 5_.png

I’m back from another A-Kon. Another 500 miles. Another whirlwind weekend. Another set of memories with thoughts and feelings attached to them. Let’s discuss.

  • The drive gets a little easier every time if I get to make a stop.
  • Now that we’re at this place…let’s talk about the hotel:
    • This has to be the jankiest hotel we’ve ever stayed in. It was super expensive for the night and every time we overturned something there was a stain. WiFi didn’t work (bad for a panelist), shotty television (also bad for a panelist), stains everywhere and it was all just bad. Roaches in the stairwell, elevators that didn’t work but the only light was a man named Joshua. He upgraded our room (which was still stained but had a kitchen) and did his best to keep me and Carlos. But the crappy room really weighed heavily on both of us. Me as an introvert rely on the hotel to recoup and relax after how intense and draining con is and that just didn’t happen. I think it all left me even more tired than I should have been.
  • The hotel pool was weird, including two doors that seemed to go nowhere and the pool was an unnatural blue color: I can tell, my swimsuits are both Iwatobi blue and it matched my Iwatobi suit.
  • Hotel breakfast was awful but I do love me a Texas Waffle.
  • Remember last year’s A-Kon when I complained about the layout and the walking? Let’s touch on that.
    • I still had issues with the layout but this year it seemed to flow a lot better. I didn’t care so much that I had to wander far to get to places, it just seemed to flow better. But the heat was unbearable. I also got to take some awesome photos in the Water Gardens this year. Except for the bad 12 dollar Chinese food. That can go to hell where it belongs.
  • This con was absolutely THOT-con, like the amount of scantily clad cosplayers was intense. I’m old, y’all. We just didn’t do things that way.
  • It was AMAZING meeting people that I’ve only known online.
  • Apparently using a setting spray means nothing, I still got makeup everywhere.
  • Revolving sushi is amazing.
  • Daiso did not have apple gummies. My heart is still broken.
  • Lonely God may be the best chip brand ever.
  • Gen Korean BBQ is still amazing but it’s not great when you’re tired and dehydrated.
  • I still love Chicken Express and Taco Bueno. No one will take that from me.
  • Fun fact, I still don’t really understand e-sports.
    • Carlos got to do a big tournament at a huge e-sports arena and it all just seemed sort of silly to me. I get that I’m a cosplayer and too much of my brain is taken up by anime trivia but hey, it all just seems like a lot of fuss for a game.
  • I also learned that I don’t like losing.
    • Fun fact, I’ve always known this but Carlos and I sort of discovered why and it was all over a fighting game. So I love Naruto Clash of Ninja and in comparison to Carlos, it was for once, something I was good at. But Carlos is good at fighting games and he rather quickly learned how to beat the game and beat me. The same happened in Castlevania another game I thought I was okay at. It upset me because I suddenly felt like I wasn’t good at something and Carlos had to tell me that there are lots of things that he looks at me and sees as things I’m good at. It was sort of frustrating because in that moment, it didn’t matter. It’s a feeling that I’ve felt most of my life and it actually is really well illustrated in Free!. Haruka, in the first episode, talks about the pain of being almost an adult after being a child prodigy for most of his life. As a child, he was the best and as a teen, he’s just above average. That inferiority is something I’ve felt most of my life and it manifests in an inability to lose at something as simple as a video game or card game.That was something Carlos got to learn this weekend.
  • Bar Rescue may be the best thing on TV.
  • Live P.D. is also some damn fine television.
  • Just Dance for the Switch is evil and I am still winded from Applause by Lady Gaga.
    • Also, I’d love to do a Persona 5 group cosplay and do the Numa Numa routine. It’s very on-brand for a few of the best boys.
  • Flex-Glue is a strange thing that Carlos thinks is wonderful based on the advertising, so I suppose advertising does work.
  • Carlos is still surprised at my ability to choke down pills.
  • Honestly, Anthony Bourdain’s death hit me hard. Those of you who know me know that Bourdain was one of my idols and knowing that he lost his battle with mental illness brought me down a lot. It was nice though having friends that checked in on me and know that I am always here for you, dear readership. Together, we are never alone.
  • Packing alternate costumes was the best plan I ever had and having one go to hell was annoying after all the work I put into it was irksome but it felt good being out of costume.
  • By the time we reached the last day of con and my panel day I was really low energy and down and I felt like I couldn’t get that energy from the crowd or from Carlos; he was tired too after being in a crappy room and that was worrisome. I’ve always struggled with my friendships and I worry that I rely too much on and don’t get enough from those I care about. I worry that I lean too much on Carlos but also that he is not able to accept when I need to lean on him. That’s no one’s fault, just a realization.
  • Paneling on Sunday was really disappointing but this ended up being one of the best panel experiences of my life.

I will never forget getting to huge a young woman after telling her that she’s going to be okay after she expressed concerns about coming out to her family. I’ll never forget spotting friends in aisles and buying things that I’ll treasure forever. I’ll never forget swimming in a pool that was clearly out of Persona 5 and watching Carlos’ mind work through the mechanics of very broken fighting games.

This A-Kon was a lot, I’m happy to be home and happy to be finished with it all.

Till next year.