SizeCon 2020: My Weekend

Five years ago I was unemployed. I’d been let go from my position at a marketing agency and had spent a few months trying to rally and regroup. I looked for jobs in my line of expertise, but I also took the opportunity to commit to writing more Size Fantasy (Size Erotica, Size Lit, whatever we want to call it) and finding the online community. Rather than rummaging through Giantess City, however, I chose to invest in Twitter and Tumblr and seeing what was going on there. I got hired some time after this but I stuck with the online groups, to see where story-writing and reader-cultivation could go.

Present day: the Size community on Tumblr is a fraction of what it was, due to the puritanical restrictions imposed by Verizon/Oath (who later sold it at a tremendous loss, after devastating its business model). But Size Twitter persists and gets stronger each year. And now, thanks to SizeCon, more and more of us are meeting each other, putting faces to names.

I missed out on SizeCon 2016 because I heard about it a week after it ended.

I resolved to join SizeCon 2017, and the theme of that weekend for me was terror and relief. I had no idea what to suspect, I was worried that showing my face in public in this group would cost me my job. Instead, I made friends of some writers I knew online and I sold a bunch of books and made new contacts, and it was fucking awesome.

I signed up immediately for SizeCon 2018, which was held in a nicer hotel with more room, which was great because more people were showing up. Now I was reconnecting with friends I’d met before, putting new faces to names as the online community had expanded, volunteering and hosting social hours. The theme of this one for me was dreams realized, as I’d sold all my books and almost all the writer’s notebooks I designed for the weekend, and a beautiful giantess scooped (a 3D-printed) me up in her fist and enacted the fantasies I’ve suffered for a very long time.

SizeCon 2019 could not occur and got deferred to SizeCon 2020 in February, in New Jersey. I hadn’t planned to show, figuring two Cons was pretty good (and how could anything top the experience of the previous one), but someone bothered to persuade me to change my mind and I signed up. The theme of this one for me was recovery, because “the next-best thing to perfect performance is perfect recovery.”

Anyone who was aware of me was aware of my frustration as the printer did not send out my new books when I thought they would. They went out a day later, which delayed their delivery until after the weekend, after I’d flown home to Minneapolis. I felt dumb, staring down the throat of sitting uselessly at an empty booth for two days, but of course it wasn’t going to play out like that. I promoted the Size Riot writing contests, for one thing, and helped distribute Taedis’s wonderful Small Print compilation of Size Lit writers. People who knew my writing or enjoyed the contest came up and introduced themselves. My friends kept checking in on me, and there was so much else going on, new people to meet. My team came in second in Scidram’s amazing puzzle room. There was no reason to dwell on a minor event that couldn’t be changed.

Here’s how my weekend went.

Friday, February 14

I had taken Friday, Feb. 14, off for my flight around noon. No one in my office wished me a nice trip; I think some didn’t know I was on vacation (despite a dept-wide email and notice on the office calendar) because I kept getting assignments set. Oh well! I was off to New Jersey! And I wasn’t missing out on Valentine’s Day because my wife’s not sentimental about those things. We’re sweet to each other all year round.

I packed and laid out the day’s outfit, gathered my chargers and night guard, and my wife drove me to the airport. Processing went uneventfully. I ate before the airport—we got breakfast at, appropriately enough, a place called Tiny Diner—and brought my own snacks and a canteen for filling up with water, to not need anything while on the plane. Minimal precautions when moving through an international airport during a global pandemic. Sucks that we have to think about these things, but better than becoming a medical liability.

The restaurant that doubles as a lunchbox.

On the plane, I was packed into my little window seat with quite a large man beside me, like something from a comic strip. But then it turned out he wanted to sit with his girlfriend, so he moved, and then the steward asked if anyone would like to move to a seat in the front to balance out the plane, so in this way I received a free upgrade. I listened to a long-form podcast (Hidden Brain, “How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men“) and read a Victorian murder mystery, and then we were in Newark.

I’ve been on only a couple trains in my life, proper trains. I got to take one from the airport out to Edison Station, to get closer to the hotel, and then a Lyft the rest of the way. The driver was very chatty and said that he was a singer, but he’d been too shy to perform with a band. He asked me if I knew Kenny Rogers, then serenaded me with “Lady” in the rear-view mirror, weaving between lanes. The only real tension came up when he’d just finished telling me about how much he’d accomplished through the healing love of Jesus Christ, his personal lord and savior, and went right into asking me about the convention I was going to and what I would be doing there. I explained I was a writer, and he insisted on looking up my work. Fortunately, I’m not the only human in existence who’s thought of Short Shrift as a book title, so I entered that alone on his phone and grabbed my bags and hustled into the building.

Like at SizeCon 2018, I split a room with Taedis, and he’d already connected with RobClassact, so I had a crew to hang out with. I checked at the front desk to see whether my shipment from 48 Hour Books had arrived: 30 copies of my new paperback, Short Shrift. They searched rigorously and turned up nothing, even showed me the clipboard that said they hadn’t received anything from UPS since February 8. I talked to a customer service staff, and they said they had a tracking number for the shipment but UPS hadn’t picked it up yet so they couldn’t redirect it.

I’m like, “Wait, no. You shipped it out Tuesday, when I approved the final revisions and paid for the upgrades you recommended.”

She said, “No, we shipped it out yesterday.”

And that was the crux of our disagreement: I felt it should have been shipped out earlier to make it in time for the convention weekend, and 48 Hour Books felt they’d sent it out on time because reasons. So maybe it would show up on Saturday, I thought, completely ignorant of the fact that UPS doesn’t deliver on Saturdays unless you paid extra for that, and the printer wasn’t going to take that action on their own.

They had to, however. I called UPS to expedite the package, but they insisted that only the sender could do this. I left two voicemails and an urgent email with the printer, then pushed it out of my mind because there was nothing else I could do.

Except get drinks with friends. I unpacked my clothes and set up my booth: no books yet, but business cards and postcards promoting the Size Riot writing contests. Then a bunch of us just wandered around and helped out where we could, like stuffing the swag bags for attendees signing in the next day. We made random hellos to people we knew and struck up conversations, and I really feel like we’d gotten drinks at the bar this night.

Several green nylon string backpacks marked "SizeCon" rest on a white tablecloth.
“You can stuff your swag in a sack, mister!”

The guy running the bar only served beers and didn’t know to make drinks, so he got the other bartender who, in sequence, didn’t know how to make a Manhattan (whiskey, vermouth, bitters, cherry) or an Old Fashioned (whiskey, bitters, sugar cube). I walked him through a whiskey/ginger ale, then got another, in the same glass, when ordering a gin and tonic. My company agreed that “gin” and “ginger” sounded a lot alike. And I have absolutely no reason to complain because they were still tasty drinks, and another very grateful and enthusiastic attendee picked up the tab. SizeCon is full of amazing people and surprises.

Anyway. I freaked out over text messages to my wife, who tried her best to talk me down from the ledge. The books were the last variable, you see. Everything else was secured and in place, but the arrival of the books was the only thing out of my hands, and it fell through. She assured me that I could still have a great weekend, as evidenced by going out for Chinese with Taedis, RobClassact, and Miss Kaneda. We drove out to China Magic and quickly got our food and chowed down while talking about writing and craft and all sorts of bullshit. It was awesome.

Saturday, February 15

The breakfast buffet was pretty nice. This SizeCon came with a meal plan, and it was really pretty nice. Given that there was only one restaurant within extended walking distance (China Magic), the meal plan was definitely the way to go.

Now people were showing up and getting registered, the convention was building up momentum and building up activity. More and more familiar faces turned up: Morganita recognized me from two years ago when I bought a key chain at her booth! I wish I had that superpower, you know, memory.

I checked throughout the day, and there was no shipment of books. There was nothing to do but to commit to the new situation. My friends expressed disappointment at the altered plans—at one point, MaxGrowth Productions even offered to call his crew and see if something couldn’t be whipped up and shipped out in a hurry. It’s heartwarming to see how the community can stand up for and support each other, at times like these. It definitely eradicated my soreness over the situation, having all these thoughtful people touch base with me and cheer me up again.

There was an incredibly cool upright GTS video game at Gary Pranzo’s booth.

It happened that I was sharing a booth with RobClassact, someone who’s joined several Size Riot contests and cracked wise in the Twitter timeline, but now was my chance to really get to know him. He’s basically someone you’d want in your group of friends: smart, funny, wise, generous. His setup was very impressive, with artwork by his wife and his oeuvre on interactive display on a tablet, and he segued smoothly from his work to my writing contest for the irresistible one-two punch on Con-goers.

There were several panels and sessions going on throughout the weekend, and I had only planned on seeing two of these. There is no explanation as to why I missed out on the writers’ panel, I have no idea what else I was involved with at the time, but I did make it to the Size History panel. This was a fascinating rundown of what in the world size fetishists did before the internet. Writers The Reducer and The Minimizer, video producers Jason Ninja and Gary Pranzo, fetish chronicler Katharine Gates, and artist Bust Artist were moderated by cherished size erotica writer Taedis as they shared their personal experiences and pertinent anecdotes with deep subcultural references and origin stories.

During the quiet moments, when everyone had filed out for the panels, I got to sneak a few interviews with people. I talked with Nika Venom about her experiences with SizeCon and her own interests, and with Raquel Roper about her work as a producer, the trajectory of her career since we met at SizeCon 2017, and the damage pirates are doing to the community. I got a quick chat with producer Jason Ninja, of Bratty Foot Girls, and even got to learn more about Morganita, the wildly creative artist who tries a little bit of everything. It’s my hope that these interviews will turn up in my blog in the near future, but I kinda also have another project I’ve been cryptically alluding to, so we’ll see.

Interviewing Raquel Roper to find out what’s inside her.

And also in the quiet moments, my mood tended to drop. I was fine with attendees to talk to and friends to hang out with, but during the lulls my mind inevitably returned to the books I wasn’t selling. I’d pushed through two months of writing and revision, asking great favors of my wife to remain isolated as I worked on getting this book ready, wrapping it up right to the last second, and all of that was for nothing. The books existed, yes, but they’d be coming home with me, untouched. Everyone else was moving their product, taking photos of their swag, and it ate at me that I had nothing to offer. This wasn’t accurate: I attracted a dozen new writers and more readers to Size Riot, I increased awareness of my blog and archives to new readers, and I helped distribute the Small Print compilation. It’s just that when things got quiet and I was left to myself, my physical exhaustion let my inner voices run free. And it was exhausting, putting myself out there, bumping up against personal space, smiling, speaking above the commotion, trying to read person after person to see whose distance needed to be respected. Like we all were doing, all weekend long.

I should note here that my good friend Undersquid kept me company during these times, listening to my rants, gently nudging me back into shape. I messaged her with updates, she messaged me back with enthusiasm and encouragement. One thing I’ve done right is surround myself with genuinely good people.

Lunch: pasta salad, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and veggie lasagna

Dinner came around and I sat with Taedis, RobClassact, and Larry Philby, the giant artist. We traded stories, listened to history, went back for seconds. My wife was having a girls’ night out back home, so I was very present with the Con and the surroundings.

One odd little moment I appreciated: the bathrooms. They were very quiet, with no one else in them, and I stayed in the stillness for a long time, listening to the monitors chirping. There was one for the air freshener, some for the urinals, others for other functions I couldn’t pick out. But in the profound quiet of the wide, tiled room, it was like I was eavesdropping on a conversation between robots. The air freshener would call out signals, and after a while something would peep back. Another signal, another peep. One more signal, and something new would speak up and report, infrequent but insistent. The gentle noises echoed slightly, calling to each other from across the room, and it was enough to take me out of my thoughts and help stabilize for a moment.

I discovered that the bar, even on a Saturday night, closed at ten. Well, I didn’t need to get drunk anyway.

And then came the pool party. Taedis, as roommate, asked if I was going to this at midnight. I laughed and insisted I was far too tired, I was just going to listen to Comedy Bang Bang to bring my spirits back up and then some meditation music to fall asleep to, which is what I did.

It seems the Radisson Hotel Piscataway-Somerset is no stranger to fetish shows and conventions. Nothing we could present would faze them; more than this, I’m given to understand that staff recommended that SizeCon reserve the pool for late-night skinny dipping. And that is what they did, I found out the next day. There were stories, none scandalous or damning in the least: it sounded like a lovely social occasion, though I do not regret loading up on sleep hours instead. No one needs to see me in such straits, and my own curiosity is respectfully muted.

Sunday, February 16

Taedis pointed it out, and I’ll underscore it: the buffet meal plan was an excellent move on SizeCon’s part. There was no break or interruption from the Con experience, since we were all sitting and eating together for three meals. Friends hung together, strangers mixed and mingled. People could grab someone for conversation that they might not see during the rest of the day. These meals became bonding experiences, so important for a community trying to figure itself out.

In contrast to this, I set up by myself in a corner to focus on my eggs and potatoes and yogurt cup, but Juliekat spotted me and invited me to sit with her and Bust Artist. (Does it sound weird that I don’t know people’s names? I don’t ask. We are who we pretend to be.) We talked about all sorts of things, like American history and cats. All sorts of things.

Somehow my own booth looked active and purposeful.

Then came another day of glad-handing. I made a point of finding and talking to a few people who’d piqued my curiosity the days before. I had a really nice heart-to-heart with Juliekat, yet another shelter in the emotional storm. I was touched by the matter of these friendships I’d formed in the Size community. I asked all sorts of questions of potential readers, what they were into, how they got into it, what it means to them. Not having anything to hawk, I had more time to just get to know people and learn from them. I wonder if they found some relief in that, too, that I didn’t want their money, just wanted to give them a postcard, a business card, and a book for free after some conversation.

The talented artist IamFilledWithStatic stopped by our booth, having a free moment to chat and catch up. All weekend had been one of those things where you see someone you know at another booth, and you smile and lift your chin and get right back into the flow of Size-themed business, but he came over and provided a nice, relaxing conversation by which to chill out. It seems he and Taedis have started a tradition of long-distance Battleship, and the clever reader will be able to dig up their exchange on Twitter for the play-by-play. I just want to note how nice it felt for Static to walk up and chat like that. It was a pleasant moment I like to go back to.

As well, we had to get in on Scidram’s size-themed puzzle room before it stopped running. A few of us writers got together—Taedis, Kaneda, RobClassact, Cezar Nix, and myself—and went to freakin’ town on these riddles. I marveled at their ingenuity, not just at how difficult they were but how well they worked in the context: we’d been shrunken down and had to follow clues to find someone who’d been shrunken down worse. Clues came on Post-It Notes that got progressively smaller, as did their handwriting. I experienced a momentary rush of prurience as I fluffed out a gigantic woman’s dress, searching for clues. It was really here, I was holding it in my hands, a blouse that could’ve formed a comfortable tent for me… and who could have been wearing it, but… Anyway, my team came in second, which was awesome.

After the closing ceremonies, we all packed up and loaded our stuff back to our rooms and started making the last-minute connections and goodbyes as the population began filtering out, piece by piece. I don’t think I made many goodbyes, just a few. I don’t feel bad about that: I didn’t necessarily need to close the weekend with any more drama. These are people I’d see online, probably, and just as probably in another year.

“Bye, be safe! Don’t let anyone touch your butts!”

— Raquel Roper

However, Taedis and RobClassact and I did drive out to some dive bar and celebrate the weekend right before they closed too.

Monday, February 17

It’s hilarious, but 48 Hour Books got back to me finally in a very formally worded email. None of this was their fault. They were not notified of any special considerations for rushing the package. If I wanted to redirect the package, I had to ask UPS to do so. I did, and UPS asked me to more strongly and directly urge the sender that they do this. The printer was about to recommend some link on the dashboard when they announced that the package would be arriving early: this afternoon. They stressed how rare that was, like I should feel lucky. In practice, my box of books was delivered a few hours after I’d taken off from Newark Liberty Int’l Airport and headed home. In closing, 48 Hour Books insisted they were “here to help.”

I took a Lyft to the airport when I discovered that it was lightly cheaper and took less time than a Lyft to the train to the airport. That made no sense to me, but that’s how it was. I arrived extra early, I don’t mind waiting, and I subsisted off snacks and fruit until my plane showed up. There was no more good luck about seating on the flight home, so I packed myself into a corner and slept until we touched down in Minneapolis/Saint Paul Int’l Airport. I texted my wife to come pick me up, and she texted back saying that the car’s battery was dead and I should take another Lyft.

I did get home eventually, and I showed off my swag, and I gave her the presents I’d picked up for her.

The next day, Tuesday, I generated a UPS shipping label for the hotel to plaster over my package, and I scheduled a pick-up because I didn’t want to wait for UPS to show up in another week with some other delivery. I just wanted my books.

Mind you, the staff at Radisson Piscataway had no idea what they had in their hands at first. They just got a large, unmarked box from 48 Hour Books. The printer did not include, mention, or hint at my name anywhere on the label. So to solve the mystery, what else could the staff do but open the box to see what was inside? Not that there was a packing label inside or anything. Just two stacks of size fetish porn.

This is what greeted the unsuspecting hotel staff.

What’s funny, though? Aside from the shipment of 30 books, I asked 48 Hour Books to mail a print proof home so my wife could see it before the weekend. You get a print proof when you want to see how the final version looks before committing to the full print run.

The print proof reached its destination one full day after the entire shipment of books reached its destination. Not only that, when I got my shipment of books, I discovered that the printer didn’t create an extra copy for the print proof. They took one of the books I’d already paid for and charged me an extra $25 to mail it separately (it costs less than $3 to mail one of these books) and to have it arrive late, after the box of what turned out to be 29 books.

Maybe it cost $25 to destroy the shrinkwrap, pull out one book, and wrap it all over again.

UPS brought my books home Friday, the 21st, and I started selling them online immediately. You can order the paperback of Short Shrift through my website, or you can download the epub from Smashwords. If you get the paperback, I’ll sign it; I can’t sign the epub. The next few people who order the hardcopy version will also get a copy of Small Print, the compilation of short stories by Size Riot writers. I only have a few of these, though, so act quickly if that sounds good to you.

Lastly, the mystery of the tiny desk: whose earring is this?

Bonus Round: SizeCon Recaps

2 thoughts on “SizeCon 2020: My Weekend

  1. What a weekend! The silver lining of not selling out your books at the convention is that you get to see them sell online. And what a great deal, to get a copy of Small Print (which I already have because my momma didn’t raise no fool)!

    I’m glad you had the support of all those wonderful people, and that I could be there for you to lend you my support as well. Every time you write about these events I wonder what it might be like to be there one year.

    It would require a great deal of planning, but it’s not impossible.

    Thank you for this account. I know there are people out there thinking about going to SizeCon. Maybe your story will finish nudging them over the fence.

    Liked by 2 people

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