March 11th 2011 about 3:00am
I’m biding my time til my flight for Boston. PAX east is upon us and we’re about to show the trailer I’ve toiled over for the recent months of my much treasured Red Vs Blue Season 9. This is a pattern I’ve grown accustomed to in the last 7 or so years. Dissapear for weeks to months sometimes years at a time, devoid of any social life I dive headlong into my work knowing that I can burn brightly in front of a crowd of thousands for brief moment. Not a bad way to live honestly, I choose this over mediocrity.
With little to do but wait I’m scan across my usual regiment of webpages. Checking for messages and not responding to them. I cross Youtube and notice written across the top about a massive earthquake and tidal wave in Japan. I tune into the news report it links to and apparently an off shore earthquake sent a tidal wave to a coastal city of Japan Killing thousands. It was beyond surreal that I didn’t know how to react.
This leaves me not sure what to do. Here I am about to fly off to an event celebrating videogame culture. And here stuck by such horrible circumstance is the country in which videogames means to me. Is it at all appropriate a time to consider celebrating anything? Let alone celebrate ourselves?
Celebrate ourselves. Those words would keep repeating in me for the length of that weekend.
Regardless there’s not much I could do right? Grin and bear, I am about to afterall appear in public. I’ve learned thus over the years that there are times when one simply can’t have feelings. But isn’t this an exception?
I arrive in Boston, I always sign up to do any conventions here because I can also take it as a chance to see my girlfriend. Again, Part of the sacrifice I’ve made in life is only seeing my girlfriend of over 15 years perhaps only 3-4 times a year. This year PAX east is at the newer Hynes center in Boston. By the shore.
I check in at the hotel and then stop by the booth. Although I’m there to work, it’s commonly accepted at this company because I work so much and take so little time off, that cons for me are just really a small break for me to enjoy with my girlfriend. And this time especially I was in no mood to shake hands and sign my name. So I logged as little booth time as possible, only to go back to my hotel and check for any news updates on Japan.
It’s worse than it’d seemed, as the count of missing and dead rises higher. My heart drops lower as I curse my own vanity.
My girlfriend arrives the saturday after from the 1 hr drive it takes for her to get to Boston. We had been fighting about something over the phone that at this point I hardly can recall. But the moment we see eachother all is well. I lover her so dearly.
Spending time with her I forget most of what’s going on in the world. She heals me, and I can actually smile again. So rarely together we cherish our time, and eat the best of foods. I spend my hard earned money gladly on her. Life is good. Downstairs from the hotel of the few restuarants in the area there’s a lobster wrap. Growing up I never thought I’d be able to afford lobster. Now whenever we’re together, or it’s on the company I get the lobster. And it was delicious.
There’s one thing I am required of at most cons. To be on our panel on Saturday where we’re to debut this new trailer. We answer questions and present our latest. Just like last year, where we introduced my joining of this company, and brought the house down. When the time comes we make our way to to the panel room and I meet up with the rest of the crew. I get situated with my co-workers. “How many people are in here?… over 5 thousand?” Yes the room is packed with thousands of people all hoping to get blown away. I get my girlfriend a seat in the front row. She’s only been to a few of these events with me. But she’s beaming ever so proud and bright. Some from the front few rows recognize me. I spend some moments shaking hands and signing my name. Despite my postion, I’ve never felt I’ve become whatever such a celebrity that I’m can’t give people my time. Being overated oftens reminds me that part of my value is knowing my lack of value.
The time comes and I’m to get back behind the curtain, I understand these formalities. Respecting them gives our farce it’s value.
From the stage the view looks a bit different. It looks like this.
Peering beyond the excitement it dawns on me with some horror that this room wouldn’t be enough to fill how many corpses there currently are on the shores of japan. I find my beloved in the front row. And to further despair envision how if ever I could find her in a pile of corpses such as this. Sick to my stomache I shake the images from my head.
If you’ve ever seen me on a normal day shaking my head desperately like this, know that it is because of this. I am cursed with an abnormally strong imagination. Too often my thoughts go to a dark place, a how vividly I see and fear the horrors and desperation. My counter my drug is the body of work I’ve aimed to develop all these years. Fill your life with light and beauty, and hope it all doesn’t come crashing down.
Grin and bear.
If you were at this panel, despite all the comedy and jovialness. Among my crew of colleagues we played the celebrity and did our duties. I mostly remained silent dropping whatever easiest wisdom I could bear to muster.
Then we showed our trailer. My pride and joy of months past, epic in scale it teased of a coming season of Red Vs Blue, unhindered for most by the restrictions of character that were last season. We promised to tell a story that would service my style of filmaking with fast cuts of action and high speed movment. The trailer closes the a bang. Announcing Red Vs Blue Season 9 coming summer 2011.
The crowd was on it’s feet. Cheers roared throughout the theatre. Everyone was cheering my name. This has thus far been the largest response I’d ever recieved. Quite honestly, I didn’t know how to react. My colleagues beside me prompted me to rise to my feet and accept. So I stood, looking out to the audience was blinding. The stage lights in our eyes only allowed us to see a wavering mass of black, and glaring bright lights. I couldn’t find my girlfriend, but I knew she was there, and I was certain she was proud.
We closed the panel answering more questions, and quielty ended the event drifting outwards back to the con. Though reuniting with my love again washed me, I was determined to go back to my room and check the status of the dead.
That would not happen soon for we had the rest of the day ahead of us. But regardless of whatever I’m feeling, I’m always able to drown my sorrows by enjoying my time with my girlfriend. So we went and ate more lobster.
The rest of the weekend past as usual. And we also spent some hours wandering the convention. I also made for some booth time, though I noticed that some fans had noticed my absence. Though at this point I didn’t care.
The weekend more or less over My girlfriend and I part ways. And all I’m to do is wait for my morning plane back to austin. So given time I check up on Japan.
The death toll is near ten thousand, likely more. Somehow I was numb at this point. Numbers that high you start to distance yourself, and it seems less and less real.
In my warm hotel room I read headlines about the recovery process. People huddled in makshift areas in the cold of night, hungry and lost.
“I’m hungry” I say.
“Why don’t you get something to eat.” My girlfriend on the phone says.
There’s not much in the area to get. I guess I’ll get more lobster.
Bidding her goodnight I make my way downstairs. The evening has gotten much colder. As I walk towards the restaurant repeated in me, “thousands cold and hungry” my mind goes blank and I walk right past the past the restaurant towards the docks. Staring into the blackness of the ocean, I was comepletely alone. Muttering to myself of my vanity and selfishness.
There’s a voice in me that tonight has never been louder. Always with every action I partake giving doubt or question to how I live my life. Knowing deep down even my purest intentions have some sick motivation that benefits me. I try to counter by living as honestly and work as hard as possible, but tonight was hard to argue back.
“I’m going to stand here in the cold of night, on this dock until my morning flight. It’s the least I could do.”
“No you won’t, and even if you do, you’re just doing this to look cool.”
“Look cool? To who?”
“Even if there was no one else, at least to yourself. Even you’re attempt at honoring people is a form of vanity.”
“I can do this, and I won’t tell anyone. How about that?”
“I won’t eat that sandwich either.”
“You will, and you’ll tell everyone how in this event where everyone spent celebrating themselves. You humbly went to the cold docks stood and suffered so that you can impress everyone with your selflessness.
“And you’ll talk about how on one of the greatest moments in your life, where thousands of people were shouting your name, all you could think about was the suffering of others.”
“Life to you is one big joke. You don’t really care about people. It’s all a self serving facade.”
“If you really cared about people you’d drop the facade and actually do something that makes a difference.”
As tears begin to fall, I wonder how true these are. This back and forth goes on a for a few hours. Doubt, redoubt. The uncertainty reaches a level that I begin to lose track of who’s talking. Even my doubting voice is beginning to sound self pitying. Underdressed and cold, I remember the sandwich that is still waiting for me.
“You’re gonna do it. You can’t resist.”
I ate that sandwich, I slept in my warm hotel room, and I wrote this blog. I cried alone in the night for Japan. And I am telling you about it. Are you impressed?
A life of vanity is indeed what I’ve chosen. I hope it’s worth it.