Attending E3, the annual video-game trade show, is always a milestone for me. Am I writing better stories about more inspiring games? Am I feeling more fulfilled in my job? How is the game industry progressing -- am I interested in more games or feeling more marginalized? Do I see gaming deepening and expanding as an art form, or pigeonholing itself even further? And -- ever since I got pregnant and had a baby -- how is it being a mom at work in the gaming industry?
The first year I was pregnant, the most exciting part about E3 was that I got to meet and interview Bono and the team his venture firm invested in at Pandemic. It was only marginally game-related and we never even ended up using the interview for anything, but it was still the highlight of the show for me. Bono is a megastar and I'll take any chance I get to have a conversation with someone of his artistic and cultural stature. Plus, as I am always quick to tell anyone who will listen, he complimented my journalistic skills at one point when I re-asked a question after his colleague hadn't really answered it even though he'd talked around it for about 10 minutes. (I'm convinced Bono remembers that moment [sarcasm] just as well as I do [/sarcasm]). Otherwise, though, being pregnant at E3 was no fun. E3 is all about parties and drinking till all hours of the morning, and I remember heading home early every night that year. Too bad, too, because it was the last year I would be working only in print and, little did I know, the last year I'd be able to experience E3 without the crazy pressure of online ASAP publication looming over my head the whole time.
Last year was probably the hardest, because I was still pumping. I documented that in my extensive Business Trips While Breastfeeding post. It was good to get away and remind myself that I had a life outside of Alex, but I remember pining away for my little guy day in and day out, and also being terribly worried the whole time that I wasn't going to make it to one year of nursing (HAH. Little did I know the kid would not give up so easily). Plus, I had to deal with the crazy online deadines and worked until about 11pm every night, so I couldn't even enjoy the happy hours, and I missed the private Queens of the Stone Age show at the Troubadour. (I'm still bitter about that!)
Which brings us to Year Three, the year in which I believe I have finally hit my stride. This year I was hoping that my trip away would curtail the nursing relationship. (Again, no such luck. Now I've gotten to the point where I'm no longer hoping to nurse as long as I can and instead starting to wonder if it's still OK to be nursing as long as I am! The little suckerfish just won't quit and I'm too much of a pushover to say no. At two years, though, that's when I'm done, ready or not.) I also have gotten to the point where I feel that Alex has much better things to do than hang out with me all day, and that he genuinely enjoys the time he spends with other people -- his dad, Tutu, other caregivers, and especially other kids. I'm also at the stage where I can admit that a bit of time to myself is healthy.
For those reasons, Year Three was the best. The show itself was something of a letdown, but I was able to enjoy it fully. Having experienced the "online thing" once before helped me realize I had to plan better and force myself to set earlier deadlines so I wouldn't get stuck in my company's "war room" writing and transcribing until all hours of the night. It also helped that we were back in downtown LA, so it wasn't as confusing a maze of shuttle buses and random hotel rooms as the year before had been. I knew the trip would be over as quickly as it had arrived, and I made sure to enjoy every minute of it. I saw old friends, attended all the events and demos I wanted (including a pretty great concert by The Who at the Orpheum Theater), and even squeezed in a podcast or two. And the whole time, I was perfectly fine being away from Alex, knowing he was in excellent hands and that I would see him again before I knew it. I didn't dread going to E3, enjoyed almost every minute, and couldn't wait to get home. Year Three was definitely the best yet!