Convention Tips for Spoonies: Nerding Out with Fibromyalgia (and Other Disabilities)

Aerial shot of a convention hall packed with people looking at booths

Guest blogger: Elaine Tamblyn-Watts is an Ottawa-based Anglo-Anishinaabe writer and editor. She was supposed to become a foreign correspondent, but she developed fibromyalgia and had to drop out of journalism school, so now she watches a lot of cartoons and gets a lot more work done. Elaine served as copy editor for The Charlatan for the 2016-17 year, put out a poetry chapbook called Fingernail Moon, and is currently working on about nineteen other projects.

My best friend is a cosplayer. Between her eye for detail, her sewing skills, her sheer resourcefulness, and her courage in the face of frequent glue-gun burns, she’s got a real knack for it – and it shows. For her, our local comic con is bigger than Christmas. She waits for it, prepares for it, works late into the night beforehand and early the morning of. Last spring, she dragged me along with her.

Psyched as I was for us to hang out together, especially in full Teen Titans cosplay, I didn’t handle it super well. The lack of sleep barely fazed her, but it had me looking more like a Walking Dead extra than a 2005-era Cartoon Network Raven. I stumbled through the convention center parking lot with very little grasp of what I was getting into. After five minutes in the main con area, I nope’d back out again to hunt down some coffee and silence. By the end of the day, I was miserable and exhausted, and I figured conventions weren’t for me. … Read more…

LARPing While Disabled: My First Impression

LARPing while Disabled. Two Storm Troopers, one in a wheelchair being pushed by the other

It’s been a few weeks since I attended Dreamation, a tabletop and LARP convention in New Jersey. I’m more of a board gamer, and my only experience with RPGs has been online. I play-tested a LARP about disability at a previous convention, but beyond that, I’ve yet to break into the hobby. My boyfriend Michael is into LARP, so I decided to go out of my comfort zone and play a full game. At the least, I would get blog material; the worst outcome would be me spiraling into anxiety mode and quitting. I ended up playing two LARPs that weekend, taking away a new understanding of myself and the space I inhabit as a disabled woman at a convention.

The hotel hosting the event was ADA compliant, with elevators, smooth flooring, automatic doors, table seating near the bar, and spacious rooms. The folks running Dreamation also had a disability liaison on hand (the amazing Elsa), and attentive staff aware of potential access needs. Because organizers give attention to safety and accessibility, a lot of disabled people attend; not just physically disabled, but mentally and chronically ill gamers were in abundance. So I knew if I had a problem in-or-out of the game, Dreamation’s staff would support me and find a solution. Other conventions should follow this pattern for disabled attendees. … Read more…