Midwest Furfest 2016

To start with, this won’t be a play-by-play journal of all that I did at MFF. A lot of this will share what I felt during the con as it progressed and some highlights from the weekend. Of course, at the end, I will post a photo gallery of the pictures I took and what I got.

Needless to say, the trip up and back was stressful. If you’ve never driven in Chicago before, here’s some advice: stay vigilant; know where you’re going! Once we got closer and closer to the 294 interchange, it’s every man for himself. I swear, everyone drove however they felt like, even if the speed limit dropped to 55mph in a construction zone (yes, people were going 70-80mph in a construction zone). No way in hell was I able to slow down or stay in one lane the whole way through; follow the flow of traffic or you’re gonna get hit. Once we got out of that mess, however, the drive wasn’t bad, but it felt like a long haul getting to and going from Chicago.

Thursday was stress day through and through. The trip up, finding a place to park, unloading, checking into the room and setting that up, trying to coordinate with everyone who seemed to refuse to be responsive…I’m not surprised I didn’t kill anyone. Thankfully, as I headed into our hotel (not the Hyatt-Regency O’Hare) to make a pit stop while we waited for others to arrive, I ran into my friend Mojo, aka Griz. He’s one of the first furs I met via Twitter when I first decided to be a goofy tiger on the internet.

I was heading back to the parking garage when I kept hearing someone calling me by my furry name, “Ricky.” It took a while to register in my brain, and I didn’t quite recognize him at first until he introduced himself as “Mojo.” I won’t lie, we were so excited to see each other as if we haven’t seen each other in a long time; and yet, this was the very first time we met in person. Of course, we hung out when we could during the weekend, and he introduced me a few other awesome furs in the process. I hoped we could’ve hung out more, but there was so much I wanted to do and other furs I wanted to find…the whole con became a bit overwhelming quickly.

As many of the panels I would’ve liked to attend, I only went to two: Biology Furs Discussion (self-explanatory) and Transformation (a writing panel).

While it was nice to listen to the various topics that were brought up in the Bio Discussion panel, and I can understand what they were talking about, I found I still have trouble contributing to group discussions. Still, it’s nice that not one topic took the spotlight of the discussion, especially since the panelist’s specialty is fungi. I also realize I should find my own specialty to focus on in the Biology field and fast; I’m very close to graduating at this point in my life.

The Transformation panel had a surprisingly large turnout, so much so we started about five minutes late and people kept coming in that someone grabbed chairs from other rooms. (This took place in one of the smaller rooms for some the more discussion-oriented panels rather than in one of the ballrooms typically reserved for bigger events). One thing that surprised me is that it wasn’t labeled as a “Fandom” panel or a “Spirituality” panel; it was labeled as a “Writing” panel.

Just from this panel alone, I realize how important the concept of transformation is to the fandom. For me, I simply like the concept of it and I enjoy integrating that into a story, if the narrative calls for it. I was aware that, for some, it’s spiritual, a fetish, or just a part of the fandom they like. But after attending this panel, I realize how important transformation is to the fandom simply by how many attended, and I think it boils down to one thing: it’s an escape. It wouldn’t surprise me if most furries would rather physically look like their fursonas instead of their human selves; I’m in this same boat as well. Yes, Ricky has the same personality and body type as me (down to the scar on his chest) and we both share the same passions, writing and Biology. His relationship status changes as mine changes too. His current job and location doesn’t matter to me; it’s there to make him feel more real. The only difference is he’s a bipedal, anthropomorphic tiger, and I’m a human. However, if one day by some miracle, I physically turn into Ricky, it’ll change more than just my physical form; it’ll change my life, in both good ways and bad ways. Even the most menial, every day tasks would be completely different for me as an anthro tiger, from eating, to showering, to going to the bathroom, sleeping patterns, sitting on a chair or couch…just, everything would be different. And this is why I and nearly every other furry out there find transformation so damn interesting to the point we wish it was real.

Going off of that, it makes me wonder why I enjoy wearing my tail(s) so much to cons, meetups, or when I hang out with furry and/or Brony friends. I’m slowly beginning to feel more and more comfortable wearing it in public, though I’m not the type to wear it just because. A few times throughout the con, the tail felt like it was a natural part of me, as if it was always there. I have considered getting a fursuit at some point, and I hope sooner rather than later, if only to both “become” Ricky and help with my social anxiety at large social events, like a con or meetup. I know that’s helped plenty of furs and I’m sure it’ll help me. Some may see it as disguising yourself and pretending to be someone you’re not. But the way I see it, what you experience in fursuit and how you interact with others in suit can carry on into the real world. It’s that confidence which can stay with you for the rest of your life.

Speaking of which, MFF decided to scrap the traditional fursuit parade and try something different this year called The Fursuit Menagerie. Basically, there were several stations in the main ballroom and just outside in the hallway set up, and they would have different categories of fursuits for each station. These categories changed every 15 minutes and were organized by color, species, maker, theme, and even by region (i.e. European Furs). It was chaotic and maybe could’ve been better organized, and a little too much for me, but it’s an interesting way for fursuiters to show off their suits. It also made me want a fursuit even more, only by how the By Cats for Cats (BC4C) session went. Snap, BC4C head cat, is my kind of guy. Everyone was having trouble getting into position for the photo and time was ticking. So what did he do? He threw his head off and started herding cats (not all of them were) because no one knew what was going on. Just from that, even if it may seem like he was sort of joking, made me see him as someone who can get shit done and fast. Also, there’s this picture:

If there was anyone who I want as a fursuit parent (yes, that’s what furries call their makers), he’d definitely be it.

Sunday…Sunday got a little emotional for me. This short string of tweets explains why, but I’ll explain here as well.

I’ve decided this won’t be the only MFF I’ll attend; I had too many opportunities where I saw people I wanted to meet but allowed my social anxiety to get the best of me. It might be because I only recognize them by their fursuit, so maybe a part of me is still timid to talk to someone who’s wearing a head piece or mask that covers their face. This is a fear I’ve delt with my whole life as a child, but being part of the fandom has helped somewhat. Also, it might be because I’ve never made much of an effort to reach out to them personally enough, or at all. I believe the only fursuiter who came to me, aside from Griz and Wolfletech, is Kiwi (who may or may not be my fursuit crush). He was really sweet and adorable when he found me, twice, and even hugged me right away. In all seriousness, it helped, and I felt so much better afterwards. I do better if someone initiates a conversation or interaction with me rather than me initiating; however, I know that might not be the best way to know more people. Every missed opportunity I had to say “Hi” to someone I met or wanted to meet, be it online or in person, I sincerely regret. For many of them, this may be the only con I’ll see them at, aside from Anthrocon, and this only happens once a year. I don’t live near any of them, and I don’t have the funds to travel very far. Now I truly understand why post-con depression is a real thing: you don’t want to leave because you don’t know when you’ll see any of the people you’ve met online in person again.

In a way, a con is like a family reunion, but it’s so so much better.

Below are some of the pics from both my phone and my digital camera. I tried taking as many as I could, but, again, I was a bit overwhelmed and was too shy to take a lot. I also found I’m not the best when it comes to taking pictures of people; I don’t do it too often to begin with. If you check out my twitter, I retweeted a lot of photos of fursuiters playing in the snow. Yes, it snowed Saturday, making it the highlight for everyone there. Go check those out; their so pretty and adorable.

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