IT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around our house. Chris and I are busy with plans, shopping, and cooking. Friends drop by and discuss their own preparations, or enjoy a meal and laughter. Excitement and anticipation crackle in the air. We feel like kids again, reminiscing about holidays past. As time grows short, a certain amount of stress is inevitable, but the hustle and bustle only adds to the fun we anticipate.

What? It’s only August you say? It’s too early to be prepped and excited for Christmas?

Of course, silly, I don’t get so excited about Christmas. I do, however, know people that enjoy it like they do in the songs and Christmas movies and the feelings are much the same.

Dragon*Con is just over a week away.

It will be my first year at the largest geek culture convention in the world. It will be Chris’ fourth year and has lost no luster in his eyes. With my limited con going experience, Trek Trax, Invadercon and ConCarolinas, I know more in every possible way. I expect it to be a cross between Geek Christmas and the feelings Harry Potter finding himself at Hogwarts where he belongs but still has a lot to figure out about how his world works.

I’ll admit to being disappointed in myself over not making more of an effort to put together costumes for myself. I’d put together a modest Arthur Dent costume for ConCarolinas. Arthur will spend at least one day wandering around downtown Atlanta seeking a good cup of tea, towel in hand, of course. But the plans in my head for future costumes are far more elaborate.

I did, however, assist in Chris’ Imperial Klingon rebuild and improvement project along with a detail or two on his TOS Klingon. We’re also in process on his Hargid costume which won’t be ready for D*C. I happen to have the mad hand-sewing skills and some experience with patterns to compliment Chris’ experience with unusual materials and mastery of the sewing machine. We’re gearing up to be an unbeatable costuming team.

It’s not all costumes. Transportation, hotel sharing arrangements, deciding what to pack and all the other normal things one does before vacations. It’s all new to me, to be honest, since I never vacationed in my former life. Chris is the one who books the hotel room and there will be seven of us sharing it. I’m glad I’m not the one in charge of logistics, only details making sure there’s Rolaids and shampoo and clean socks to pack. We have discovered our con-going friends think we over pack, but both believe what we bring comes in handy, plus the extra luggage involved in two CPAP machines is not insubstantial.

The other piece of the puzzle is food preparation. We’ve tried very, very hard to stick on a healthy, weight loss causing eating plan with mixed success, so being out of town for days is tricky. Add that to the expense of eating out and taking a cooler makes for wise con-going. Yesterday and today, I made big batches of lentil and pea soup. It worked well for ConCarolinas frozen in individual servings and used in place of ice to save cooler space. Odds are against us staying on plan the whole trip even with the allowance for our Friday or Saturday free eating day. With all the stuff to do, snacks brought by our roommates and the lure of free food and beverages in the hospitality suite, I’m sure well supplement what we bring with less than healthy options. Can’t feel too bad about it when you’re on vacation.

Much like Christmas, not everything will go according to plan. Some key item will be left at home, a bit of timing will go wrong, or some such glitch. But I’ll be with some of the geeks geeks I love best, including the geek I love best of all – Nimoy canceled, so in this case I mean Chris – so whatever our adventures and misadventures, a good time will be had by all.

DRAGON*CON 2010 (OR CON-ENVY DISCUSSED)

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be attending my first Dragon*Con in a week’s time. After several years wishing I could attend conventions, specifically San Diego Comic Con thanks to all the celebrities and attendees I follow on Twitter. I’m looking at you, Wil. I even found myself in the Seattle area during Emerald City Comic Con 2010 without the means to attend. I was frustrated to know Leonard Nimoy was in the same county and I wouldn’t be able to meet him. I resolved to not miss such opportunities in the future even if it meant dragging people who didn’t want to go with me. Yes, back then it was a real possibility.

Those days of con-envy seem like distant dark ages.

Chris has turned me into a dedicated con-goer. I love the whole experience more than I’d imagined.

Dragon*Con is the mother of them all. I’m already a bit sentimental at the memory of meeting Chris the first time on the Thursday after Dragon*Con. We intend to mark the anniversary of our meeting just like that, too, rather than on the date, like Thanksgiving. Although most of our messages before I’d arrived in South Carolina – I was moving here and scouted ahead for friendship with an openness to more – had centered around Star Trek, he was so nervous to show me this:


I wasn’t scared off like he feared. I was impressed with his handy work and obvious time invested. Passionate about Star Trek and other geeky things, but not so serious to loose perspective and humor about it, I knew I’d found a like minded friend. It took me a bit longer to admit the inevitable something more, but I was thrilled to have a foot in the door to a world I’d wanted to enter.

Without even attending Dragon*Con yet I have decided I like it better than I would San Diego Comic Con because it is more fan driven than about the loads of big name celebrates that come down from L.A. to play nice with the geeks. I can see actors on television and the internet. I want to make friends with other fans, learn how to do what they do whither it’s make costumes or write fan fiction, to have experiences and conversations which don’t take place in the mundane world.

Celebrities are the icing on the cake, but good cake only needs a bit.

All of the guests I’ve meet in the three cons I’ve attended have been enjoyable. Something about being in the same room while someone you watch on TV tells stories about the show you love is magic. Most notable, the antics of John Billingsly, Enterprise’s Dr. Phlox, and his lovely wife, Bonita Friedericy, at ConCarolinas made watching through Enterprise since all the better. They are hilarious. It was not so much a panel as a performance which included chasing down late arrivals and those leaving early to spray them with cologne from the gift basket from the convention organizers. When we hit an episode where Phlox must sedate the rest of the crew and is alone on the ship, the scene where he walks around sick bay naked with Austin Powers style concealment of his naughty bits Chris and I laughed so hard. We’d been late to the panel and gotten sprayed with cologne by the naked Denobulan now on our television.

There I go, telling convention stories already. I can’t wait to come home from Dragon*Con with a batch of stories. They never get old, telling or hearing, among those of us who count the days until the next one.

STREAMING STAR TREK (OR STILL OBSESSED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS)

In the two months since Netflix has added four of the five Star Trek series to their streaming service (Deep Space Nine is to be added in October), Chris and I have watched nothing else. No hyperbole. If they offered a Trek only package, we wouldn’t miss the rest. We’ll go back to other things in time. Daniel Jackson and Stargate: SG-1 will eventually draw us back.

Going back to the beginning, watching The Original Series, has reaffirmed my dedication to Star Trek. I see why it was my gateway drug to science fiction. The characters are completing. The stories stand up far better than their television contemporaries. The acting is superb. Even Shatner – God bless his overacting soul – acts just as Kirk should. I could go on for days about Gene Roddenberry’s vision and how the show influenced entertainment and culture. Little can be said on the topic which has not been said, studied and documented by fans and scholars.

It is rather the intimate aspect of being a fan – I self identify as a Trekkie – I wish to discuss. Being a fan, as apposed to simply liking something, means whatever you are fanatical about never gets old. What you love shapes how you look at the world. With Star Trek, the morality behind the story is part of the appeal. Not only respecting other races and cultures, but looking at problems through the prism of logic and science are Star Trek values. I have always said I can’t be raciest (any other type of bigot, for that matter) because I’m a Trekkie.

I have watched Star Trek: The Original Series since I was a kid. My family watched reruns after dinner. The Next Generation came out and my second grade friends at school thought Wesley Crusher was dreamy. My heart always belonged to TOS and Spock, but I was glad my obsession wasn’t as weird thanks to the modern version. I thought about the characters and wrote myself into the script in my head. I remember crafting a communicator out of a paper plate. Not the most typical imaginative play, no?

As the years passed, I spent less time watching Star Trek. I don’t know why, but my family didn’t finish watching The Next Generation in first run. I have theories. With only one television in the house programing competed with Nintendo. Dad loves video games, nuff said. I retreated more into books for entertainment and company.

My best friend Kate and I had Star Trek – specifically Star Trek loving moms who passed along their passion – in common. When we meet, two short blonde sixth graders living in Navy housing in Hawaii, Star Trek it was like finding as sister. Her mom had stacks of paperback Star Trek novels against the mirror on her dresser and a deep love for Captain Kirk. I admired the dedication and loved having someone to discuss Spock, McCoy and the others with. Oddly enough, I don’t believe in the two years we spent practically living in each other’s homes we ever watched Star Trek together. It was Quantum Leap repeats on USA in the wee hours of the morning and Indiana Jones on VHS until we could sing “Anything Goes” in Mandarin.

In my teens I read classic science fiction. Issac Asimov and Robert Silverberg primarily. One could spend ages reading Asimov without making it through his extensive catalog. I didn’t come close.

I grew up, married a non-geek (I know, what was I thinking?), went about my business. I read romance, crime, whatever books came to hand, watched Law & Order and documentaries. I didn’t deliberately avoid Star Trek and science fiction, but didn’t seek it out either. One could argue the problem with that period of my life is I didn’t seek out what I loved and what makes me happy, but I digress.

A few years ago, three maybe now, I let Kate pick out a handful of Star Trek novels for me at the annual YMCA booksale in St Louis and I filled my DVR with various incarnations of Star Trek. Worth mentioning, too, is the 2009 reboot which pleased me greatly. I don’t recall which came first, but, as the cliche goes, the rest is history.

I won’t be going years without Star Trek again. Might go days or weeks, but never years. I haven’t seen every episode of Deep Space Nine, so my October and beyond program choices are sewn up. It’s all rewatchable for pure pleasure and for noticing details. Best of all, I love finding connections between the various stories and crews. I smile every time it crosses my mind how horrified McCoy would have been to see Dr Phlox using leeches and worms in Sickbay.

It is no coincidence Chris and I can sit around for hours watching Star Trek together. Our first messages back and forth, around a year ago now, centered around our mutual love of Trek. He was preparing for Dragon*Con, putting the finishing touches on his Klingon costume. I was planning a pilgrimage – yes, a pilgrimage – to see Captain Kirk’s chair at the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle before leaving for South Carolina.

Any wonder we’re planning a Klingon wedding?