The GISHWES Chronicle: The Week Before


By Katherine Erlikh

A firsthand account of the madness and preparations in the week before the scavenger hunt starts.

MTV Geek bloggers Katherine Erlikh, Cecelia Gray and Amber Lena didn’t quite know what they were getting into when they and a carefully chosen team of their friends decided to do GISHWHES; this chronicle of the week before the scavenger hunt breaks down the goings-on, preparations and sheer insanity that Team TheFandomLife has already experienced. Will the team survive the coming week’s challenges, or will they (and what little sanity they have left) become another pile of GISHWHES casualties?

The Hunt Begins in 5 days, 15 hours, 24 minutes and 33 seconds:

We have filled up our team (#TheFandomLife Team!) entirely with people one or more of us know, which means, there’s no need to wait until the last moment with bated breath for the last team members to appear. However, not all of them know each other, but we are proud to report that so far, no 20-second dance-offs (as per GISHWHES commandment 4) have been called forth. This is a blessing, as we are rather far-flung and a dance-off would be impractical. Most of the team is in and around New York City, something that will no doubt be a drawback (as this is an INTERNATIONAL scavenger hunt, not the tri-state or even tri-borough scavenger hunt).

Introductions and get-to-know-yous begin, as does speculation regarding the usefulness of sheep, merkins, alpacas, stormtroopers and pizza in the upcoming ordeal. At least one person has expressed great regret of joining, but was bribed into complacency with promise of pie.

“GISHWHES is when all of our secrets leak out into the public...and scar the civilians,” said teammate Alexa Finley of the upcoming ordeal. She was nevertheless very excited for the experience.

The Hunt Begins in 5 days, 14 hours, 19 minutes and 25 seconds:

I ask my husband if he knows anyone who owns a motorcycle, a life-size pterodactyl figure, or an alpaca. He asks me if I’ve gone and broken my brain again. #WelcomeToGISHWHES #RelinquishYourSanity

“So far we've decided to takeover Hobbiton and install a dungeon for our nefarious purposes, any doubts of my teammates being normal and dull has been pushed aside,” said unfortunate teammate Kyrsten Smith of the experience. "The insanity that has ensued during our brief time together already has me fearful (in a good way)."

The Hunt Begins in 4 days, 19 hours, 57 minutes and 48 seconds:

The team debates whether bioengineering a male pregnancy would be likely to show up as a task on the scavenger hunt, and how long it could possibly take. I privately resolve to phone Captain Jack Harkness, just in case. Team morale is high and so far, everyone is getting along marvelously.

The Hunt Begins in 3 days, 7 hours, 53 minutes and 28 seconds:

I’ve gotten a head start on following the GISHWHES commandments, especially commandment number 23: “No participant of any sex may trim armpit hair (their own or others) during the hunt. All participants of any sex must trim their chest hair during the hunt.” I’m not sure if shaving my chest was a successful endeavor, but I am proud to report that I have definitely succeeded at not trimming my armpit hair so far. I also may or may not have shaved my forearms in protest.

Currently, we are in the process of compiling things such as contact sheets and lists of skills we all possess, so that delegating different tasks on the list will be a quick and relatively painful process. We are also still very much uncertain as to how and where we could acquire a merkin.

Have checked the GISHWHES tag on Tumblr for possible advice regarding GISHWHES preparation. The posts helpfully informed me that “THERE IS NO PREPARING FOR GISHWHES. THERE IS ONLY SUFFERING.” I’m beginning to feel slightly terrified.

The Hunt Begins in 1 day, 19 hours, 45 minutes and 18 seconds:

While trading Destiel fic recs with another team member, I wondered when exactly did “I laughed, cried and puked a little” become an acceptable way to say, “This story is most excellent reading material.” I guess that’s just how it is, though – you don’t choose the fandom life. The fandom life chose you. Incidentally, this is also what I’ll be telling my teammates when they inevitably have a moment of regretting doing GISHWHES.

The Hunt Begins in 1 day, 16 hours, 25 minutes and 05 seconds:

Teammate and fellow MTV Geek blogger Cecelia Gray actually went through both years' GISHWHES lists, just to tally up the most common task features, as GISHWHES tends to have reoccurring themes year after year. I’m hoping the lists haven’t driven her mad, because when I tried to read those things my eyes started burning and I started to bitterly regret this venture… all part of the fun, I suppose.

The Hunt Begins in 1 day, 13 hours, 47 minuets and 40 seconds:

“I'm not sure we covered anything appropriate for the public...” muttered teammate Leif Olsson, as the team gathered to discuss the GISHWHES process and my record of it. However, team morale was very high. “You have to be a at least a little insane to do GISHWHES. As a team, we're in the 1000% range of insanity. Should be easy as pie,” said fellow unfortunate teammate Amanda Smith.

In other occurrences, I notice that the “log in” function is now available on the site again, meaning that the GISHWHES bot has finished merging teams and sorting factionless individuals. I was tempted to check out the chat rooms, but no one on our team is going to use the chat room anyway, and the GISHWHES site reports them to be currently haunted. Last-minute tips posted on the GISHWHES site’s updates section urge participants not to panic, learn to dumpster-dive, and not be shy about asking people for help, amongst other ideas.

I urge teammates to get as much sleep as possible, seeing as the list will soon be released and after that there will be no sleep. Kyrsten accuses me of not being the real King Loki in retaliation. I sulk and bemoan my existence because I’m an overly emotional frost giant. Half the team goes to sleep; the other half stays up to debate how easy getting kale and/or shaving one’s head might be in their geographic locales. Fellow MTV Geek blogger and teammate Amber Lena dropped by the chat we’d set up on Facebook to yell at us for making 888 new messages since the last time she’d been in (#SorryNotSorry).

At this point, there is not much more left to do but wait, breathe deeply, sleep, stockpile on energy drinks and jelly beans, and practice our dumpster-diving skills. “This is the way the world ends – not with a bang but with GISHWHES,” said teammate Jenny Newman, as she surveyed the team’s activity. Spoiler alert: She is probably right.