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Marissa Lingen

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May 29th, 2009

Mrissa Service Announcement: 4th St. and Vertigo [May. 29th, 2009|11:14 am]
Marissa Lingen
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This is not a public service announcement. The public will not necessarily be served if you listen. I will. Just wanted to be up front with you there.

oursin made this post about her Wiscon experience and cliquishness. She talks about spending time with people she knows because she doesn't get to see them much, and because she's an introvert and already knows them. And this is likely to be true for me as well. It's true of everybody: people who have friends like seeing their friends. People particularly like spending time with friends they like a lot and don't get to see very often. Is this hard to figure out? No. Is it mean-spirited? No.

Crucial bit: does it mean that a group of people happily chatting does not want you to join them? No; you have to use elementary social skills to figure that out. (I know. Elementary doesn't always mean easy, and some of you will be fighting instincts that say, "They don't want to talk to me no one wants to talk to me I should go hide in this corner now or possibly go home/to my room and never come out again aaaaaaagh.") If two people are leaning into each other in very close proximity and talking quietly, they probably don't want you to interrupt. If there's a group of people in the consuite talking, and they edge a bit to let you into the circle, it's probably fine, but don't jump in with, "I don't care what you're talking about now. Here's what I want to talk about." Remember that even if you thought someone was awesome on a panel or with a question from the audience, they are still not at the con solely for your benefit and should not be treated as though they are; however, "I really liked what you said about x, and I was thinking y about that," is a good conversation starter. So is, "I really wasn't sure about your comment that x, because in y and z of my experience, q instead," as long as your tone is friendly.

But here's where we get to me, me, all about me: I still have vertigo. It's getting better. It still stinks. I am not always as comfortable getting up and wandering around as someone who does not have vertigo will be. So if I don't jump up and rush over to you, it's not that I'm stuck-up, it's not that I'm full of myself, it's not necessarily that I am completely wrapped up in talking to someone else and do not care about you--I have vertigo. It really is relevant. I can't do my fair share of walking up to people and starting conversations nearly as easily. It sucks, but there we are.

Further, my vertigo is at a point where the highs and the lows are varying a lot. One of the things that makes the vertigo worse is being in physically unfamiliar surroundings and having to navigate crowds of people while finding/keeping balance. So, in short, the con environment. What does this mean? It means that just because you see me do something at play-reading Thursday night does not mean that I will be capable of doing it or something similar at fish on Monday afternoon. It means that I am likely to get dizzier over the course of any particular day and also over the course of the con.

And what does that mean? Well, among other things, it means that I'm likely to want to stick close to at least one person I know pretty well at any given time, and further I will want that one person to have a history of being able/willing to help me out without fuss. I appreciate offers of help, but I am not very fond of having strangers touching me. It's not that I'm afraid no one will help, it's that I don't like asking, particularly if it's someone I don't know well.

So. I am likely to be more stationary than my ideal convention average, and I am likely to be alone very little of the time. This is not about you. It is not put there on purpose to scare off potential new friends or cordial acquaintances who want to converse. It's about me being able to function safely.

I really kind of hate having to tell people, "I have vertigo. It sucks. I have vertigo. I have vertigo. I have vertigo." I don't like thinking of myself as Mris Who Has Vertigo. I want it to go away faster. I want it to have gone away awhile ago. But here we are: I do have vertigo. And if I don't make it clear that this is the case, I feel like I'm setting myself up for people making nasty assumptions about me based on it. (And a comment I got last year made me think I am not wrong about the nasty assumptions; sigh.) It's not any fun. But there we are anyway.
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