August 31st, 2011
A year ago today, I set foot in South Carolina for the first time and moved to South Carolina all at the same time. I’d signed a lease by mail and made plans to stay as much as a lifelong nomad such as myself ever makes such plans. A couple suitcases and two months living expenses were all I brought with me.
It was a leap of faith at best. At worst, an insane risk doomed to failure. I figured somewhere in the middle to be closest to the truth. Following my gut and my heart (after running ideas past my brain) is usually the way I make the best decisions. My prayer during the planning phase was simple, “If I’m not supposed to do this, throw up roadblocks. If I’m supposed to be there, clear the way.”
My reasons for coming aren’t the same reasons I’m happy to stay, but I’m where I meant to be. Again, saying a lot for someone who has lived as many places as I have. I could easily make this post about my relationship with Chris – we meet the Thursday after Dragon*Con (Labor Day weekend, for the non-geeks) – and other people with whom I cannot imagine my life without as they are central to why I am here. Location has never been as important to me as people. Everywhere I’ve ever lived has it’s good and bad points, but mostly you go about the business of life similarly regardless of where you live.
Still, my new hometown deserves some love. I live in Simpsonville, South Carolina. It’s a good sized berg, home to over 18,000 people. It’s right up against Greenville, the largest city in Upstate South Carolina. Along with Spartanburg, it makes for a pretty impressive metropolitan area. After my last two long term hometowns, Farmington, Missouri and Sheridan, NY, being extremely small and rural, it’s a treat to have a plethora of shopping, dinning and cultural events within twenty minutes of my doorstep.
I have found the area to be less of a culture shock than I anticipated. It is, after all, The South. I have found four years in the rural Midwest to have cushioned the effect. Plus, the area is full of people who came from all over seeking jobs, low taxes and a mild climate. I have learned to call a shopping cart a “buggy” or at least not giggle when other people do. I am fascinated by the wide range of accents I hear from people born and raised here. Those who appear to be without, those who hit certain words and show their roots, and a few people I can hardly understand. People are friendly and polite in a genuine way.
The climate was my biggest worry. I do poorly in the heat. But, you know what? I’m a geek. I stay inside as much as possible anyway. I’ve spent the summer in air conditioning and it’s all good. The pool at our apartment complex is open until 10 pm, so I get my swim in without getting overheated or sunburned. I have enough sense to stay hydrated and I’m perfectly fine. Now, if I was the outdoor type, the transition may have been harder. Winter was a breeze. We had snow on Christmas – just enough to be pretty – and a week of icy, snowy crud in January. If it got colder than 30 or so degrees, I didn’t notice.
So, South Carolina, on this date – our first anniversary – I’ve got to say, I’m liking you a whole lot. Even though I’m heading out the door momentarily for Atlanta, I’ll be home right after Dragon*Con.
August 25th, 2011
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.
August 25th, 2011
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.
August 18th, 2011
Happy birthday to me! Much enjoyed dinner and cake with my dear friend Reecie and her seven year old daughter.
In a huge display of ego, I traditionally have written a blog post on or around my birthday discussing the year that was and the coming year. My old blog is no longer around, but I do have the posts archived for my own reference (there is nothing – NOTHING – wrong with plagiarizing yourself), so I took a look to see what I wrote last year. Can’t say I was surprised to discover I hadn’t written about my twenty-ninth year. It was, in all the big ways, a pile of frelling dren. And around my thirtieth birthday, I was preparing to make huge life changes I was unwilling to discus with the world at large. Fully aware I could have fallen on my face, I followed my gut and prayed like crazy.
A year later, I’m thinking I should have skipped my twenties. Gone straight from nineteen to thirty. Of course, I think enough about alternate timelines and the butterfly effect to understand the importance of the intervening years.
So how did I spend the last year?
I moved twice. Once across the country and once within the same apartment building.
I traded one full time job for two part time jobs. I don’t talk about either on the internet.
I started a new relationship. I got divorced. The order of those sentences is accurate, but the details cannot be explained in two lines. Somethings are best left unblogged.
I went on vacation and took overnight trips more times than I’ve have in the rest of my adult life.
I discovered I’m more a social creature than I believed myself to be. My friends and family, local and faraway, are the amazing. I feel like I fit in.
Life is good, busy and happy.
Times flies when you’re having fun. I had no idea how true the old chestnut can be. I suspect before long I’ll be back here writing my official thirty-second birthday post. Maybe I’ll even write a few posts in between.
August 10th, 2011
Like birds returning to nesting grounds, I find myself in the back-to-school section talking myself into notebooks, pens and pencils. The logic of stocking office supplies for household use at ridiculously low prices is not up for debate in my world. Ever been in a home where you can’t scrounge up a notepad and a pen to keep score in a card game? It wasn’t my house.
I kept my purchases to a minimum (so far) this August. Two composition books and a three pack of Sharpie pens in black, blue and red. Not bad for an office supply hoarder.
Other times of year, I limit myself to buying notebooks with specific purpose in mind. At forty cents each, the composition books sitting around “just in case” doesn’t bother me. Yet something about a blank notebook begs for a project.
Composition books say journal to me or at least a place to record something for future reference – quotations or recipes, for example. I wouldn’t use one for to-do lists or drafting poems where I want to finish the task by tearing out the page. If I cannot neatly remove a page, I don’t remove them. I love legal pads or steno pads for those disposable tasks, if not a plain old spiral notebook.
With the fresh pure pages as the clincher, I decided to start a one sentence journal. I liked the idea in Gretchen Rubin‘s The Happiness Project to keep a brief daily journal documenting a moment. As she says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Or as I think of it, it all runs together. Pattern and routine are comforting, but they blur the days.
I found myself on the phone with Kate earlier this week responding to her inquiry about my weekend activities with “I don’t remember.” Now, I’d worked all three days (we include Friday as a weekend day), so that contributed to my brain fog. Still, I was frightened at the idea of looking back on my days as tiring but nondescript. Thinking I must have done something fun and important isn’t the same as vivid recollections of good times. So I have vowed to record something, anything, each night before bed to look back at how much goodness even my dullest days contain.
Several days into my “One Sentence Journal” I am laughing at myself for keeping the name. Writing less than a half a page in nearly impossible, a problem I can only partially attribute to large handwriting. The name is a reminder to be brief. The purpose capture a moment, thought, or feeling rather than a full recording of the day’s happenings. Even the example from her journal Gretchen gave in the book was, I believe, three sentences. Meeting word count has never been my problem. Consistently writing has been. Asking as little as one sentence of myself should, in theory, should be easy.
The question, intimidating and inspiring, becomes: What do I say about today?
August 9th, 2011
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?