E3 Journal Day 2: E3 Day is a Very Dangerous Day

I went to bed ready to spring up at 8:00am and pop down to a nearby coffee shop. Since my motel’s wi-fi turned out to be less than reliable, I hoped to use the coffee shop’s wi-fi to send in the previews I had stayed up until 2:00AM writing. Sure, that admittedly large time-frame accounts for a lot of procrastination, but bear in mind I had been awake since 4:00AM the previous morning. My brain had dulled considerably by that night and my body wasn’t having me wake up that early.

Screw it.

Doors don’t open until 10:00. I’ll wake up at 9:30 and just use the wi-fi at the convention center. I’m out of bed at the crack of 11:00. After a quick shower, I grab a Clif Bar and a handful of Milano cookies for breakfast and run out the door.

Lesson 7: I’m not allowed to slack off anymore.  If you’re a procrastinator, an over-sleeper, or just a slacker — get over it.  Find something to light a fire under your ass, even if that something is screwing up.  Of course, there are better ways.  I started making tiny, mental agendas of whatever little thing needed to be done.  As some task got added to the list, I did it immediately.  Maybe normal, productive people’s brains already work this way — I dunno.  But that concept was new to me; it kept me in a habit of being on-task without getting overwhelmed.

Just take care of things as they come at you.  It’ll actually free up a lot of time in the long run and make you more productive.

Already, Day 2 isn’t going so well. I’m late; I’m tired; I’m sore; I feel like I’m hungover. A combination of lack of sleep, exhaustion from the mile-long jogs to and from my motel, a diet of protein bars, and dehydration has pushed my body to failure.

It’s the beginnings of nerd flu, isn’t it?

No, thankfully, it does not turn out to be the beginning of the dreaded nerd flu that inflicts so many E3/PAX/Comic-Con attendees. Instead, it’s merely the beginning of what I can confidently say will become one of the top 10 migraines of my life. It hits me right after my first appointment. The next hour is spent sitting on the floor of Petree Hall, trying to finish a preview of something I saw the day before, write another for the thing I just saw and get caught up with the flood of information that comes out of each day of E3 (and for about a week after that).

Amazingly, being there in the thick of it, I’ve never been more out of the loop. Talking to friends at home, they’re asking me about things coming out of the show that leave me astounded and confused. I can’t believe I haven’t been able to catch up on anything; I can’t believe how little I’ve seen. I need to step up my game.

Lesson 8: Step up your game.  I don’t actually have a practical way explain how to do that.  But you need to be faster than you normally are.  Twitter makes an invaluable tool, but my RSS reader was exploding.

I feel like puking. I really hope I don’t puke.

The migraine reached critical levels at least an hour ago. As if E3 wasn’t already a blur when I was in good health, I think I could legally qualify as a zombie by this point. With every step I take, a wave of tiny jackhammers rushes up my body, through my bloodstream, and crashes into my brain. I need to eat a real meal.

Real food will help it.

Disregarding the steep prices, I head to the nearby Pantry diner for some precious protein in the forms of bacon and eggs. As I slowly pick at my meal, having already lost my appetite to the pain, I try to convince myself that it’s working. As I eat, my appetite gradually returns. I’m force-feeding myself the huge plates of toast and hash browns, and I’m tanking on water. Feeling slightly better, I pay the check and step back out into the LA sun.

Real food did not help it.

Lesson 9: Make time to eat.  This is a tough one, because I’m telling you, you won’t have time to eat.  Find time, whatever time you can, to eat and eat well.  Sure, it didn’t help me in this special circumstance, but real food does wonders for morale (and keeping your morale up is half the battle).  Try to fit in several small meals during the day — good food that you can eat fast, or even on the go if necessary.  Additional tip: Clif Bars, while handy for keeping up my energy, didn’t cut it.  And I got sick of them fast.  Wake up early and get a good breakfast, fore-go a bit of free time on the floor if it means a good bite to eat.  Eat well!

Initially, I return to the convention center to get more work done. However, it quickly becomes apparent that is not happening. I feel like some kind of alien or demon spirit is trying to bust its way out of my skull and it’s all I can do stay on my feet. I need to return to my quiet, air-conditioned motel room. I need to close my eyes, just for a little while, before my next appointment.

I’m too far gone to navigate my own way back to my motel. Not that it’s impossible, but it’s much easier to simply follow the guy walking in front of me. He’s going in the same direction, which, in my book, qualifies him to be my eyes. When he turns into a small business plaza, I realize cutting through it will shave at least a few minutes off my walk. When he turns into a tiny convenience store I never would have noticed on my own, I realize this glorious stranger was placed in the street for me to follow for a reason.

The girl inside takes notice of my E3 badge and asks how the show’s going. She seems to be genuinely interested in games and in E3. I wish I could tell her how the 3DS blew my mind all the way to Mexico, or what a rush it is to be there, or how many great games there are to look forward to in the next year. But all I can muster is one desperate plea.

“It’s great – do you have any Excedrin!?”

I scramble into my room, drop my bag on the floor, down those two magic pills with an entire bottle of water, and crash on the bed.

Just 30 minutes and I’ll be better.

Setting my alarm makes me realize that I only have 20 minutes until my next appointment. And, as we are now so aware, a mile-long run back to the convention center if I’m going to make it in time. Fortunately, the Universe decides the show has been hard enough today, and relieves me of the pain for the duration of my next meeting — but only for the duration of my next meeting.

I crawl into bed at 11:00pm that night. The full night’s sleep that seemed so possible earlier in the day is but a distant prayer as the furious drumming in my brain rages on.  And on.  And on.  And on…

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