Got back from Eurofurence earlier this week. Like last time - which would be EF15 in 2009 - it was a mixed bag, but with a few more pistachio nuts than last time, and who doesn't love pistachios? Though some of them can be difficult to open without the aid of some sort of tool. Things are a bit of a chronological blur, so there will probably be some time jumps, and it's probably a lot longer than it has any right to be with a lot of awkward introversion. This will have babyfur content, so if you're not comfortable with that, you might not want to read it. It's fairly vanilla, though.
Firstly, Magdeburg was pretty... well, pretty. I didn't get to explore it as much as I'd have liked to, but I did have a good time doing so on my own one of the days I was there, looking at the buildings and doing some filming. The hotel was decent, but not quite as cozy and intimate feeling as the previous hotel. But it was roomier, and it's nice to not have to take a bus or car to get to any of the stores or restaurants.
There were a lot of Norwegians there this year. I believe the official count was 40. So there were many folks there I knew, and many more I kinda knew, and you could often bump into some just walking through the lobby area a few times. This resulted in feeling less bored and lonely than last time I went to EF, since you'd more often find potential chatting / eating / hanging out partners.
But like EF15, finding people for breakfast / lunch / dinner still felt like a bit of a struggle, and I started feeling a bit like a broken record as I kept texting others to ask if they'd be available to eat.
I also found out about a couple of dinners with people I knew which I hadn't been invited to, which made me a bit sad. But presumably they were of the spontaneous "oh hey, I know you, I'm hungry and want to eat, want to join me?" variety rather than anything properly planned. For the most part I was able to find people to join me, so I was mostly victorious, but I think I went dinner-less at least one day. Also, I didn't have a single meal I'd say was particularly good - other than some ice cream - since I never ended up going to any proper restaurants as I didn't know of any in the area. There was a steakhouse nearby that seemed to be popular with the furs which I tried one time, but the pizza I got there was painfully mediocre (though you should maybe not expect tasty pizza at a steakhouse) and the service was pretty slow and chaotic.
With my knee still being bad, I brought a cane along to help me out, which I pretty much used every day. I think it helped. For the most part, my knee was tolerable. But now and then, it would get pretty bad with all the walking around and standing up you tend to do at furry conventions (and vacations in general). Also made it a bit tricky to handle bags and such, with my left hand being reserved for my cane and not wanting to put too much weight on my left knee.
Here are the official events I would say I attended at EF (not counting parades and parties and such):
Clips 'n' Bits with Jim Martin. Basically showed a bunch of old Jim Henson created commercials and promotional videos, with some other clips thrown in, and occasionally with short introductions by Jim Martin. It was pretty fun, and seemed like much of it wasn't commercially available - nor easily available online.
The premiere of Bitter Lake, a short-film with the main characters dressed in fursuits. It was okay. There was too much juxtaposition, and some storytelling "errors" related to that like having the opening scene be a lengthy conversation about politics related to a fantasy world. Not the best way to engage and immerse the audience. The film felt like the ending of a full 90-minute film where they had to hurry and summarize everything which had gone before. Wish they could have used some special effects aside from just, well, the fursuits. Could've had some "animatronics" to make the muzzles and faces move more (like in the live TMNT films), and some sort of blood effect when people were killed. Still, it was an interesting experience, the filmography seemed good and the music atmospheric, and most furs seem to like it.
Enter The Arena (Dance Contest). Definitely the best event I saw at EF. Some of the dancers were amazing, and the in-between banter was occasionally funny too. It also introduced me to my new favourite fursuiter, Buddy! Though my favourite dancers were Zakari and Kiyo, and Ticer. Ticer really should've won.
Pawpet Show. Only saw the first act of it live, then figured I'd go upstairs to rest my knee and watch the rest on the EF TV feed, but then got sidetracked by another fur and missed most of it. As with Bitter Lake, it seemed to suffer from too much juxtaposition: too much information being crammed into the audience at once by summarizing it rather than showing it. But it didn't seem bad, and I wouldn't mind getting to see the full thing at some point.
Real Furries Part 3: Ethics and Responsibilities. The final part in a series exploring the possibilities, implications and issues of real life anthropomorphic animals, this one focusing on the morality of it. Fun enough, but a bit shallow, and would've liked if it could have gone into actual moral philosophy.
I also caught a bit of The Fursuit Gameshow (mostly to catch two Norwegians participating, but by the time I arrived they'd already competed!), and stopped by to see what the Jam Session was (which seemed to just be a bunch of musicians idly, well, jamming together).
And of course I went to both the Art Show and the Dealer's Den.
At the Art Show, I bid and won a pair of framed pink boxers which had been doodled on by over a dozen different artists. A fun novelty item, with 100% going to charity. I believe it was actually made at the convention as it wasn't immediately available at the art show, and I vaguely recall seeing a pair of pink underpants floating around some of the tables in the lobby. It started at 10 euros, and I won with the first bid. I was tempted to bid more, just because it was going to charity. Or even doing some minor "charity griefing" by bidding ten times on it (once an item reaches ten bids it goes into the live auction), increasing the bid by 1 euro (the minimum amount) each time. I was thinking it would be fun seeing them present such an unusual item, and that it could help more people notice it and bid on it (though consequently reducing my chances of winning it - but hey, it's for charity).
I was really tempted to bid on "Christmas Spirit" by Blue_Panther. It's definitely not my usual style, thematically, but the drawing is so vivid and detailed (which doesn't really come through at all in the online version), and - like with the pink underwear - there's something delightfully kitschy about it. Plus, I really like Christmas. But 45 euro was a bit too much for me. But maybe I should have bid on it? I think the opening bid ended up winning.
At the Dealer's Den I got a 4 EUR badge - 2 EUR for the badge, and 2 EUR for the lamination and lanyard - from Sketchkat and her compatriots. Turned out pretty cute, though I was tempted to ask for one of me as a baby with a pacifier in my muzzle, but felt too embarrassed about doing so. Ah well. I also thought I might be getting another commission, as someone were offering small canvases, but turned out those were pre-made and weren't commissions you could get then and there.
I didn't have any really big plans for EF, but I did have a few small ones (like these), which included attending a babyfur meet-n-greet on Thursday and any babyfur room parties I got a whiff of, trying to meet up with my Finnish friend hukka, and scheduling a diapering appointment with Wolfspawn.
I stopped by Wolfspawn's room the first official day of EF (I think) to say hi to him and his puppy / friend / little brother Longshot Husky, and returned to their room another day for a scheduled, ahem, diapering. Got to see someone else get a diaper change for the first time, and got to get diapered in front of someone else (other than the one diapering me) for the first time too. Both a bit embarrassing and awkward, but I survived! At least housekeeping didn't walk in on me, which happened just as Longshot had dropped his pants, much to Wolfspawn's amusement. Wish I could've spent some more time with Wolfspawn and Longshot, maybe gone out to eat or something (I was on an everlasting search for eating partners, after all), but ah well.
That was the only time someone got me diapered, but I was padded more or less every night, and I also wore a onesie and occasionally used a pacifier, none of which I'm able to do at home. It was pretty nice, and I don't think my room mate was too bothered by it, though he'd said beforehand he wouldn't be. (But I tried to be discrete and not too in-your-muzzle about it.)
The babyfur meet-n-greet was more or less as expected. A bunch of people meeting to sit down at a café, then either chatting if they felt brave enough or if they knew enough people there already. So it was a bit awkward for me, but tolerable. But, just as we were going in to sit down I was suddenly intercepted by a guy carrying a bag, asking if this is the babyfur meet and/or if I was Miles T.F. Baxxter - can't remember the exact question - but I confirmed my identity and that this was said event. I realize it's Trax, a mysterious babyfur who'd shown up at babyfur.me saying he might go, and who'd asked me for some details as to where it would take place.
I didn't know much about him but I spent some time with him throughout the convention, and had fun getting to know him - and occasionally using him as my German translator. I find out he's Swedish, so I can actually talk Norwegian to him; that he's never met furs before, and don't know much about the fandom; and that he's read (and enjoyed) some of my journals, including (I think) my EF15 report. He was pretty nice, and cute too, though I wasn't always sure how to best entertain him nor how to educate him on the fandom, and I was the only guy there he sort of knew. So I did my part and sent him on to the hyper anatomy panel.
I also attended a babyfur room party together with Trax, arranged by Goldfoxie. The party was basically guys sitting in beds, chairs or the floor, watching films, clips and series shown on a projector. There was some idle chatting or snuggling between those who felt comfortable doing so. There was also a heck of a lot of free padding, free drinks (just sodas though), and free snacks. Me and Trax left to eat (I think), and when we returned later on some had dropped their pants, and we got to witness a public-ish diapering. (It was done in a corner, so no one really got a good view.) Some people were also wearing some babyish clothes. I got a few tummy rubs/scritches and back rubs/scritches, did some very brief plushy play (as I had brought my fox plush), and chatted a bit to Trax and one or two of the other guys there. As with the earlier meet, a bit awkward when you don't know too many there and you aren't super extroverted, and I certainly don't feel comfortable dropping my pants in front of strangers. Don't even feel comfortable doing so in front of friends. The party could perhaps have been a bit more social with some party games or quiet music and chatting rather than focusing on watching things. Still, it was a neat enough party and experience, and I certainly applaud the organizers - not sure if anyone other than Goldie were involved - for their generosity and initiative. Maybe when I get to know more of the EF-attending babyfur folks better I'd feel more at ease at such events, and hey, maybe try arranging something myself. Could maybe try getting the (very few) Scandinavian babyfurs together for ice cream.
I also met and got to speak some to DarkfoxDK, another rare Scandinavian babyfur whom I'd known about and very briefly spoken to online. He was nice, and also cute, though we didn't get to talk as much together as I perhaps would have liked. Ah well.
And I did manage to meet up a few times with hukka. I believe we've been friends for around twelve years, though we've sort of drifted in and out of touch. We'd never met before IRL, and I found him to be surprisingly cute (there were a lot of cute furs at Eurofurence!), and easy and fun to talk to. The fact that we share a bit of history might've helped make the talking easier than it would have been otherwise, as we were already friends and might not have felt the need to "impress" each other with our awesome personalities. (Though they are pretty awesome.) We were often slightly intoxicated when we met, which might've helped make things more smooth too. He commented that I wasn't as shy as he'd thought I would be, and that I seemed to be fairly inclusive, ie. trying to be considerate of others and not wanting to exclude them, which was flattering and surprising. I think both these traits are fairly contextual and situational for me.
I also met some other Fins through hukka - at least four whom I can remember - but we didn't talk as much. They seemed nice though, but I did worry I was maybe hogging their hukka, and that they'd rather be somewhere else doing something else. One of them, the one called Jari, did call me cute though, on two different occasions, which was flattering! But could've been the alcohol talking. (One of the ways he complimented me was pretty fun though, which went something like this: "It's funny, because you're cute here..." *gestures towards furry badges* "... but also cute here." *gestures towards face*) Wouldn't mind if more people called me cute, but I might need to lose some weight first, among other things. Need to increase my cuteness factor.
The Norwegian fur Tellos had brought the card game Once Upon A Time at my request, together with the custom cards I got for him. With a bit of polite nagging from me, we ended up playing it at the Game Corner (two rooms set off for furs who want to play board, card, or roleplaying games) during one of the evenings. The session started a lot later than planned, and by that time, a lot of the folks who'd said they'd be keen had dropped out. We still had a decent number of players; five Norwegians and a Swede, initially. The first round went well, though with the custom cards making the story a bit... kinky. We had a young hybrid (I think) girl chasing after her balloon down into the cave of a "gay yiffy bar" where she met a guard who was a fan of fchan who wanted to show her his toys. Sometime during the game what I thought was a random fursuiter wandered in, but he was identified as DarkfoxDK whom I'd invited to join as well, if he was able. He and an acquaintance of his ended up joining, as well as Delph, a random bunny game aficionado from England. Sometime later hukka and a friend tried joining too, but turned out he was too drunk by that point to really play properly, and left before we'd ended.
We tried playing again the day after, in the hotel lobby area, but unfortunately the game sort of collapsed as there were now too many players, and there was too much noise for everyone to properly hear everyone else. Still was a bit of fun though, and the custom babyfur character card actually got played to establish a kingdom of babyfurs who lived in a palace. But they were attacked by an evil hybrid queen and her fchan fan followers - which had several of players in stitches. Fortunately the babyfurs managed to take back their palace by using their plushies as weapons, so that was good.
Made me want to put some more effort into my Once Upon A Nursery project, trying to get artists to do custom cards for it that are all babyfur-related. Could be fun to play with other babyfurs or babyfur-tolerant people, but unfortunately would be expensive to commission so many cards, unless I find artists who'd be willing to do some for free.
There were also a few room parties, one of the highlights being the room party for the Norwegian furs thrown by Lord Leo & company in their big-ass suite, where they had a table full of free alcohol.
There were some worries prior to it though. Regandor, Tellos and I had sort of planned a room party at Regandor's room the same night, prior hearing about the other room party, and some people had already been invited - most of the people who'd played Once Upon A Time with us, actually - and the Norwegian room party was supposed to only be for Norwegians. So I was worried all the Norwegians would go to that instead, and we'd be left with a somewhat underwhelming room party at Regandor's. In the end we had a German, an Englishman, a Fin and two Swedes, in addition to four Norwegians at Regandor's. I though we were having a good enough time at the smaller party, but I still felt it was a shame people had to be divided between two room parties. So I went to check in on the pure Norwegian party to talk to Leo, and got the go-ahead to merge our room party with theirs! (They actually already had a couple of non-Norwegian English-speakers there already anyway.) Thus the dilemma was resolved.
People seemed grateful I'd managed to wrangle them into such an exclusive party too, which made me feel good, and a few friends of hukka gradually showed up. (They'd already been invited to the other room party, so I figured it'd be okay to re-direct them to the new one.) Fun and interesting conversations, a smörgåsbord of various alcoholic drinks, lots of people I knew, and a guy going around giving people tummy and back rubs/scritches. So a pretty good party.
And hukka invited me to a small Finnish room party held by one of his friends, Jari, which was rather nice. Just a lot of casual chatting, and tasting whatever alcohol hukka gave to me. I brought a few Norwegian furs for moral support, though one of them was scared away when Jari opened the door without any pants on. (But he did have underwear, mind!) hukka dropped his pants a bit later when one of my Norwegian friends managed to spill some beer on both him and myself. hukka also gave me a bottle of a green drink which he let me keep, which pretty much coloured everything my body produced green the next day.
Oh, and there was another Norwegian room party where I'd bought some Pina Colada, and people kept referring to it as Miles milk, and asked to taste it. (And sometimes I'd offer it freely.) So, yeah.
On Sunday evening, the last day before going home, I found myself unable to keep from thinking about Lawrie, our relationship, and how we had been supposed to go to this Eurofurence together. I was unable to keep myself from crying, and spent some time in my room doing that. I was debating whether I should go to bed early as I didn't feel in any good shape to socialize, but at the same time I didn't want to waste the last day of EF. So I tried going to another Norwegian furry room party that was going on - a birthday celebration for Leo in his big-ass suite - but my mood didn't improve much and I started getting close to crying again. So I had to leave for my room so I didn't embarrass myself and make everyone awkward by doing so then and there.
After that I ventured downstairs, still a bit of an emotional mess and trying to figure out what I should do to cure my sudden heartache and depression. I didn't know if it would be a good idea or not, but I texted Lawrie to ask him to call me, which he eventually did, and I wandered the nearby backstreets of the hotel while we talked for around 40 minutes. It was a bit awkward. I didn't want to make him feel guilty in any way, and didn't want to say he had sort of "made me cry", but wanted to have an honest conversation and ideally get some comfort from him.
After that I bumped into a couple of Norwegian furs I hung with very briefly, and eventually went out to find hukka infront of the hotel, and had fun talking and drinking for a bit. We were also joined by DarkfoxDK, and at some point a random puppy fur from the Netherlands. Really helped make me feel better and taking my mind off of things, so the evening ended on a high note after all.
But the day after was another low day. My knee was killing me - might've been because the packing - and I wasn't feeling terribly energetic nor social. At least I didn't feel as if I was about to cry, and I got to say good bye to most of the furs I'd met there, before traveling homewards with the other Norwegians. Got to play a game of Magic: The Gathering at the airport with Kal too, which was nice, and something I wish I'd gotten the chance to at the actual convention. My mood worsened when we arrived in Oslo. People kept disappearing, and I didn't have the energy to go around giving people good bye hugs, and didn't seem like anyone were going with the same train as me so I had to struggle with my luggage. (Though later found out someone actually were taking the exact same train, which was a bit annoying.)
And while I did get to do some, I didn't get to do everything on my list of things to do at EF. I was hoping to be able to get a group photo with most of the Norwegian fursuiters together, and the tentative plan was to get this done after the fursuit parade. Unfortunately it started raining heavily during the parade, so most of the fursuiters wanted to get their fursuits off and get them dry, and I never had the energy to try rallying everyone for anything after that. I'd also hoped to have a small room party with to watch an episode of MST3K (Puma Man, one of my favourites), but never got around to arranging that. Would've been tricky finding a time people were available, plus finding an available laptop and an available room. I also considered bringing some random yaoi anime for a let's-drink-and-make-fun-of-yaoi-anime room party, but I fear most would either find it awkward or erotic rather than funny. Most yaoi anime I've seen has been hilarious though, be it deliberate or not.
So, will I be attending again next year? Not sure. It was better for me this yeah than EF15, but still not as good as I'd hoped and expected it to be, as I'd planned on sharing it with my ex. Am tempted to hold off going again 'til I have an intimate friend, mate, caretaker, or something like that, to travel and room with. That might help make the bag all pistachios. And maybe some cashews.
Other things that might help would be to try to arrange a few breakfast / dinner dates with people I know before going. Might be tricky though. But maybe a couple of meals could be arranged, as excuses to meet particular people. Getting a fancy hundred-dollar phone with Twitter, and/or a laptop, might help too. Could make it easier to find people to have dinner with, since I can just Tweet "Am hungry, want dinner!" with the #EF17 hashtag or at the EF twitter feed, and hopefully something will happen, and might make it easier to find out what other people are up to too. But unless I get a job with a decent income anytime soon under which I could afford such frivilous items, that's not likely to happen.
While the convention sort of ended with a with a wet squelch, I did have some real fun, got to meet some new nice folks whom I'll hopefully be able to stay friends with online, and I'd like to thank the Norwegian furs for enduring and entertaining this soft spoken, occasionally annoying and neurotic little fox. And thank you for reading through my boring big-ass convention report, too!
Oh, and a bit disappointed not more people reacted to my I Eat Lions t-shirt. The one exception being a lion friend of Delph, who laughed and quickly hid when he read what it said.