Day 3 (continued):
Day 3 ended with a trip to a sushi bar down the street before heading down to Tokyo station for a look at the Imperial Palace. We were slightly disappointed, for as we approached the vast complex we saw buildings but no fancy lights! I expected there to be spotlights, pointing out the palace as a shining beacon of cultural history like they are so often back home but alas, it wasn't. Defeated, we decided to head back to the hotel.
After breakfast (at the Denny's around the corner, lol - which has awesome kiwi juice btw) we went back to the Imperial Palace complex. Instead of hitting the gardens (we didn't have *that* much time, as we still had a lot of "big & heavy bag" shopping to do in both Shinjuku & Harajuku) we instead walked around the palace gate, tooks some pictures at the bridge and visited the statue of Kusonoki Masashige and Wadakura Fountain Park on our way back to the station. We went to Marui One (which moved a few blocks down and across the street from its old location less than 4 months ago). It was fabulous. The girls at Jesus Diamante looked a bit angry/snooty so we didn't stay in there too long. Which was a shame, because Heather found like 3 pairs of fabulous shoes I think she would have tried on (and purchased at least one) because she really wants some pink loli shoes to go with her pink Alice dress. She instead bought a cute pair of black shoes (which I'm stealing today to wear in Harajuku) on the next floor up. The 7th floor was overwheming (with cuteness!). I wish Japanese brands made clothes that would fit my bustline =(. After we finished in Shinjuku, we headed to Harajuku where it was *bustling*. I'm just going to assume that the crazy lunch hour is around 3pm, because wow, every restaurant we visited was full of people! We stumbled into an upstairs ramen shop that had 2 seats available together and had a very filling lunch. We then headed down to the thrift store "Chicago" where I picked up used kimono (Pink & Purple) for Taylor for 525 JPY as well as a fabulous costume Tiara for NERO for only 1990 JPY. We then headed to Daiso where I picked up a few trinkets for my dad & the kids as well as some accessories for my kimono & lolita ensembles. We also picked up a bunch of adorable items for our goodie bags, so look forward to those! We headed down the street and stopped in at Closet Child Harajuku where I picked up a few more accessories. Heather spent another small fortune on dresses and I saw the pink & white version of the Usakumya rucksack (we'd seen the Black & Blue version at both Baby the Stars Shine Bright & Closet Child in Harajuku). I decided that I absolutely needed one, so on our way back to Ikebukuro, we stopped at Shinjuku. Heather waited with our massive quantities of purchases at the train station while I ventured out to get my beloved bag. I did, and then we made our way back to the hotel. It was super busy on Saturday night and all of the things came up to remind me how much I hate big cities =) I was having road rage on foot! We picked up some sticky buns and some snacks for the next day and retired. Nothing much on TV, so I fell asleep watching Terminator 2: Judgement Day in Japanese.
So we departed Tuesday morning (arriving 12 hours later on Wednesday afternoon). I was suprised how quickly everything moved on both ends compared to last time I flew. We headed to our Western-style room at the Narita Port Hotel where we enjoyed a very fancy dinner buffet with a view of a small garden with a koi pond. Took a bath in a marvelously deep tub and adorned the Yukata & slippers as provided. I crashed rather early, let's say, 8pm, but having been up more or less for 26.5 hours it was well deserved.
Day 2: I woke up wide awake at midnight ready to start the day, then dreading what time it was. In the "morning" we headed down for an easy (and also fancy) breakfast buffet before returning to our room to pack up and head back to the airport. At the airport we hunted down the tourist information people who found us a Japanese-style hotel room for the rest of our stay which was both near a bus stop (from the Airport) as well as near the train to take to our destinations. We had lunch at one of the coffee shops at the airport while we waited for our bus to arrive. We ended up at the Grand House Chang Tee, relaxed for a few minutes from our interesting hike there and then headed out to do some shopping in Ikebukuro. We stopped by a wide variety of stores including Sanrio, Dig, K-Books, Lashinbang, Brand , and Animate. We ate at a cute little hole-in-the-wall restaurant before spending a hefty amount at Closet Child and buying an inverter for the laptops at an electronics store on our way back. We encountered a lolita at CCI, but she declined to have her photo taken. We'd heard of a few stores we wanted to visit in the P'Parco building attached to the station but we gave up after looking for just a short while as it had been a long day.
Day 3: I woke up wide awake at around 1, and then 3 again dreading being so awake in the middle of the night. Took a nap before enjoying a go in our awesomely deep bathtub. We left the hotel around 7 and stopped at a small shop for breakfast (I can say I've never had noodles or fish for breakfast - until now) and then at Starbucks for some caffiene (the place we ate at only had water). We purchased all-day passes for the train and headed to Shinjuku, hoping to do some shopping. Well, apparently Japan doesn't start until 11 am, because nearly every sign we saw today posted that the establishment opened at 11. Being more than 2 hours early we decided to check out some of the "touristy" sites that were recommended. We stopped by the Hachikō statue & mural at Shibuya station and then made our way to the Meiji shrine in Harajuku. We stopped for refreshments at their cafe by the entrance before heading in. The Iris Garden was quite lovely and there was a wedding taking place while we were there as well. We stayed for a few hours and then headed back to Shinjuku. Now the store we were looking for was open! We stopped by Betsey Johnson on our way out of the station. I was suprised at how nothing screamed "buy me! buyme! buyyyy meee!!!" We later found out that the store we were going to visit had been recently remodeled at the stores we were looking for are now down the street. Hopefully we'll get the chance to go by, I'd love to see what they have. We also headed to Studio Alta and took a look from top to bottom. We ate lunch at Cheesecake Cafe. I purchased a Yukata (and a hair accessory to match), some flip flops (because my leather sandals are getting worn out!), and a black parasol & black bow headband for my lolita outfit for Sunday. The Volks showroom was amazing and made me want an ABJ even more. Alas, one expensive venture at a time. We ventured next to Okadaya and mused through their many floors of fabrics before heading across the tracks to Closet Child where we again spent a small fortune. We found lolitas a both Okadaya and Closet Child, who again declined to have their pictures taken. (Alas, rejection!) I'm hoping we can get at least some photographs on Sunday. Headed back to the hotel for a little R&R. The current plan is to have dinner in Tokyo and (hopefully) a nighttime glimpse of the Imperial Palace. -Ciao!
June 4-7 - Sandusky, OH
Hotel: We didn't end up staying at either of the convention hotels, which is super unfortunate. The Kalahari was beautiful and had an indoor waterpark (which we frequented anyways). The main hotel was full and the overflow hotel didn't book us under Colossalcon, some other convention instead (therefore no free waterpark passes) so we decided to save the cash for a less expensive hotel and buy the passes outright. Unfortunately, the rest of Sandusky was overrun by Bike Week so we had drunks outside our room and early morning engine wake-up calls. Like I said previously, the convention hotel was gorgeous, and included all kinds of food, shopping, & entertainment inside.
Convention Center: Also gorgeous. It's more high-class than I'd expect for an anime convention, I hope that the kids didn't trash it too much and cost the con a fortune. I'll be suprised if its there again next year.
Convention: Somewhat slow - but that was according to everyone that I spoke with in the dealer's room. We were a bit overstaffed with how business was, but that gave us time to stretch our legs to run errands (such as laundry for the Japan trip) and getting iced coffees from the hotel.
Travel: I had to drive! It was super scary! It was only 2 hours on the way home but I've never towed anything before *and* I've never driven anything that big on its own. I survived, however, with no accidents or faintings. =)
Internship: Reinforcement of what I've always known about attitude and perceptions.
Currently in: JAPAN!!!
May 29-31 - Dallas, TX
Hotel: We stayed at a Doubletree with amazing breakfast, bar, & dessert in bed (yay for room service!). They also went out of their way to give us parking in our oversized vehicle in a secure place near the loading dock. We used the service elevators to go to our hotel rooms which was a great shortcut by comparison to having to walk around to the other side of the hotel (which was in a center located between two office buildings). The staff at the Sheraton where the convention was held was really great. However, there was a parking lot scam going on in the area. A lot of people (with out of state license plates) had parking boots placed on their vehicles and were charged $100 per boot to take them off! My boss threatened other action, so they came and removed them claiming that they couldn't tell on the video tape whether or not we entered the right amount.
Convention Center: Second floor! Boo!!! The regular elevator also took *forever*. I'm glad they had a service elevator we could use. Besides that (and turning off the escalators so the costumes couldn't get eaten) it was good! The security was great, we hired 2 new "friends" off the street to help us out who followed me out to the trailer on Sunday to get the dolly and I had a cop, a convention staffmember and a convention center staff member come over all protective. It was pretty amusing at the time.
Convention: Busy! We loaned out a few outfits to other vendors and to the Babbage Patch Kids. The leader of the BPK looked *fabulous*. She wore it to their big party Saturday night at which she was proposed to! How great! Ailey from My Sweet Lolita was there and had about a 4 foot section of grid to hang her accessories on. She was also promoting her business, offering great personal shopping and offering commission orders at the con.
Travel: Lots of rain! From Raliegh to Dallas through Atlanta, Tuscaloosa, etc. Silly tropical depressions. We arrived in Dallas Wednesday. In this line of work you begin to appreciate being in one place for more than a night.
Internship: I learned a lot more to do with street smarts for the line of work and not as much having to do with the specific business (aside from expanding on what I already learned). I'm so excited about Tokyo next week!!! My flight for Tokyo leaves on Tuesday. I've already picked out one full outfit to wear to Harajuku. I did some research here on LJ and spoke to an acquaintance who used to live in Japan on where the juicy spots to visit were. He also taught me how to say "May I take your picture?" in Japanese. *squee!*
Next Stop: Colossalcon! (and their indoor waterpark!!!)
Sorry for the lack of updating, I've been super busy getting ready to leave and our last hotel was out of hotspot cards.
May 8-10, 2009 - Rosemont, IL
Hotel: I stayed at the Hyatt with my BFF. Not only was it super expensive, the beds weren't that great! For as little time I actually spent in my hotel room, I think next time I'll get something lses expensive down the road. The only thing that was good about the hotel was that it was close walking distance from my hotel room to my car (not elevators involved) and to the convention center (choice of elevator, skywalk, or escalator). As great as that was it was definately not worth the $165/night.
Convention Center: Our space was okay, they told me that they had sold out of power drops but I saw a ton of unused outlets while we were there. I also went in to the convention center on the side where they had everything last time (closest to the hotel) so I was slightly lost when I went inside and they were setting up some other show. I asked where the check-in for artists was and some dumbass told me "in Artists Alley" (obviously). One of the people with him recognized my frustration and proceeded to give me directions as to where in the convention center the Artists Alley had moved. Some spaces seemed to have more room behind them than others. I'm glad that I didn't bring a backdrop, because I don't think it would have worked well since I was in an island and not along the wall.
Convention: It was okay for the first big show I did. People kept trying to bargain in the AA but I kept to my guns until Sunday and still it was me keeping control, not everyone else. I sold my big ticket item on Sunday for the original asking price which made me super happy. I really didn't want to have to take it home. I would have had a *really* good show if I didn't have to pay $250 for that hotel room (and that was just my half. We had some people who were going to stay that ended up not going (we went through like 3 rotations of people dropping out - geesh!)
Travel: I had to get my car jump started to leave the convention center on Sunday night and the jump started again to go home after dinner! I took my car to Sears to get it fixed (they told me it would be fixed Monday, which is the only reason I took it there because I knew I wouldn't need it after Thursday). Sears broke my car even further, and then towed it to someone more competent and paid for a rental car for me. Big headache for my week of finals. Boo.
Internship: I met a few of the other employees who I'd be working with on and off for the summer. They already had the grid together (Vendors were allowed in a few hours before artists were) but I was able to help finish setting up. I also learned some of the basics about tearing down on Sunday since my AA table was more or less packed up by the time the convention closed. Got a few hours in for my first official week of internship, which is when you have to do paperwork everyday. 2 days of daily paperwork wasn't so bad!
May 22-24, 2009 - Raleigh, NC
Hotel: Stayed a few miles away a hotel. I was happy to have a shower and a bed. We really only slept in the hotel room. They were out of wireless hotspot cards, however, so no real internet to speak of.
Convention Center: Bay nazis, thats what they are! They wouldn't let us pull in and unload so we could get our vehicle out of the way until 4pm! They wouldn't even let us line up until 4pm, they made us go park in some parking lot a few blocks away. The convention minimized our spaces, which we were able to counteract by expanding into the open space at the end (the convention only sold 2/3 of the exhibit hall and we were on the end of an aisle.) Some people just can't utilize a tape measure properly. Oh well, the Dealer's coordinator just loved our set-up, lol. The convention had intended to hire muscle to help us unload, but ended up not. Instead they wrangled volunteers to help us move in and out of the convention center which was great! Except during tear-down ours just disappeared without a word - which was weird. Oh well, we borrowed volunteers from a fellow dealer when they were done and then the volunteers got tipped =)
Convention: Fun! Like I said, the volunteers were great. I haven't spent much time in the South, but everybody I know from the South who have moved up north have a drawl so I was suprised at the number of people I met who didn't have a drawl. We had volunteers go and grab us food on Friday, they even cooked the ramen for one of our sales people. We tried to offer them compensation but they wouldn't take it. (We tried!) We kept really busy and helping people dress in the booth is so fun, especially their reaction to items once they have clothes on. A girl came in with a Baby the Stars Shine Bright JSK and found a similar JSK and was like "It's a knockoff of my dress!" She complimented the construction of the other dress but didn't like the ribbon as well. I agree that the ribbon on her dress was of higher quality, but then again less expensive notions is one of the ways we can keep costs down for our customers. She came in a few times to look around. We got in 2 gorgeous royal blue wa-loli ensembles. I'm glad they were too small for me, because otherwise I would have had to buy one. We sold them both though - and I'm glad, the girls looked gorgeous in them.
Travel: Amtrak, Metra, Car, RV, oh my! In the course of a few days I was in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. I've decided that I'm allergic to So. WV & No. VA. I was happy to get to NC, because by the time we reached the VA/NC border I could breathe through my nose again.
Internship: I got to learn the wonders (and downfalls) of grid construction. I'm glad I was paying attention, because I was left in charge of booth tear-down for most of the time. I also learned about corset fittings and construction. They look gorgeous with the bustle skirts. There's too much that I learned over the weekend to begin even listing it all, most of it having to do with the daily activities and more of setting up and tearing down which will help me be more efficient at future shows.
What's Coming Up:
We're currently in SC on our way to Dallas for A-kon
In June we've got Colossalcon and our trip to Asia. We've book our tickets and are spending 4 days (?) in Japan. Mostly Tokyo & Harajuku. I'm SOOO excited. My passport has been finished and mailed to me and should arrive at my house before I get back from Colossalcon. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I don't catch a cold between now and then, I don't want to be stuck at the airport because they think I have H1N1 or something when we travel. That would be *terrible*!!!
The semester is almost over. I've got a presentation today, along with my portfolio due. I forgot a project I wanted to put in, but it's a bit late at this point to really worry about it.
I have one more presentation tomorrow but I was ready for them when class was here on Monday, I just didn't get the opportunity to present. Tomorrow I also am help facilitating the study night for my honor society.
First thing Thursday I'm leaving for Chicago. I don't have nearly enough completed for my Art table, but I've determined that I always feel that way about conventions.
I need to call Heather about ears today. She said that if I ended up doing make-up she could get me some from Aradani to do character rendering. I can't get a straight answer out of J about using up our Mehron & buying us Snazaroo, but I think I'm just going to go with it.
Thursday is set-up. I'll likely be me taking over my finished goods & making my table look a little more presentable before going over and helping out my new boss with setting up her booth. Yay for internship hours before the semester is over. I'll have all night Thursday to finish up some things before the doors open Friday morning.
I thought of a cute bookmark idea, and its something that I can make at-con that doesn't involve a sewing machine or a hot glue gun. (Which coincidentally, everything else I've made more or less does). That means I can also take commissions on it, which is super fun and will ensure that I'm always busy. I'll have to work on some prototypes today or tomorrow in my spare time at school.
I've gotten a bit off topic. It would appear as though I've begun rambling. I think the real reason is that it's finally starting to hit me as to where I am in life. Next week I have finals, and then I'm hopping in a car or on a train to meet up with someone I've met only a handful of times. I'll be away from my family for who knows how long before I get to see them again. Sure I can e-mail and call, but it's not really the same, y'know? My internship is going to be 10 weeks. I'll get to come back and visit home, but I really don't know how when that will be or for how long. I'm really excited about the opportunity, but I'm dreading having to leave. There's a lot of things I'm going to miss. Goodnight kisses, baseball games, watching the kids' reaction to WWE Supershow. Lots of things I'm going to miss that you just can't back. I just keep telling myself what I'm doing is best for all of us and we'll turn out okay in the end.
So, it's already May.
My internship starts in less than a week! I can't believe it's already here. Thursday I'll be helping set-up, but most of the weekend I'll be working my art table. Unfortunately there's just no way around it - I couldn't convince any of my other artist friends to come split my full table with me. That's ok, though. It'll do me some good to have to work the booth at a big show like that all by myself. I've got Rose to help out and give me breaks at least. I should get at least a few hours in every night with clean up and then tear-down on Sunday, though.
Then it's finals week, and hopefully Motor City Comic Con the weekend after that. I won't find out for sure until probably Saturday.
It's almost here!
Next Stop: Anime Central!