Friday, July 09, 2010

....its so hard to find good friends these days....

Being back in Tucson has been nice to a point. I don't feel the completely overwhelming aloneness that I felt back at school, but there's still alot of aloneness going on.

First, there's the fact that I'm living in a house that is very not-geek-friendly, where my mom will walk into my room, see me on the computer, and automatically assume I've been on there ALL DAY and yell at me for it, even and especially if I've actually done other things the entire day and finally decided to sit down and check twitter for the first time, or if I'd done something productive on it, like spend 5 hours working on a photoshop drawing. The idea of computers being anything other than a waste of time is foreign to her, and my step-dad, even though both of them use computers at work.

I have been hanging out with some friends on a pretty regular schedule (Hi Jessica!), and admittedly, that has been overwhelming a little. I'm not used to being able to see friends on a regular basis (minus any classes with friends, because those I never considered voluntary hanging out-ness). Regardless, it has been awesome. Definitely about 150% better than my friendships at school.

Yet, I still sit back and think about other people in the world, those that have more than two friends, you know? I think of the people I see at conventions, who have friends who will actively, willingly and eagerly dress up with them, hang out with them, see alot of the same panels and people and things. Friends who have so much in common and do so much together. After being snubbed so much by my other friends, having my viewpoints and interests ignored or demeaned, it makes me wonder if I could ever have friends like that, ever. People to play D&D with. People to squeal about comics with. People who just get me. I wonder if there will be a day where I can invite 10 people to my house for a get-together and have more than 4 people actually show up. I wonder if I'll ever connect with IRL people the way I have connected with internet people (specifically internet people like Wil Wheaton. Seriously, I think if we ever could be friends, we would get along absolutely famously). I wonder if I'll ever find friends who have so much in common with me that we never bore each other, ever. I will never have to bore them about my geekery, about my love of animation, about D&D and cosplaying and anime and everything. They'll never have to bore me with their goddamn fracking screenplay or goddamn fracking Lady Gaga mania or goddamn fracking computer stuff.

I understand everyone is different, but I wish I didn't always have to feel SO different.... I wish I didn't have to go to conventions with perfect strangers, but rather with close friends. I wish I could find my true niche, my true place in the world, socially, spiritually, professionally, everything. I know I'm only 22, but it seems like everyone has all of this shit better put together than I do.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

My Entry into the Unicorn Pegasus Kitten contest

(Wil Wheaton and author John Scalzi hosted an amazing fanfic contest to benefit the Lupus foundation. I was fortunate enough to be present (and in the front row) for the unveiling of the infamous Unicorn Pegasus Kitten picture. The idea was to write a 400-2000 word fanfic explaining the picture.... so I got writing. Here is my submission.)

(Warning -- please do not point out any factual/grammatical/spelling/vocabulary errors.... I will have a complete nervous wreck if any come to my attention, since this was the final entry that I sent in... oh goddamnit I just saw one. *nervous wrecking commencing*).


The Icon


Their universe was unraveling.

The sun and moon had abandoned the sky. The Earth quaked, slowly crumbling and collapsing into itself, pulling trees and homes into the abyss that now existed where Earth’s mantle should have been. The Noryanne Mountain, once a peaceful guardian to those who dwelled beside it, now roared and sputtered violently, choking on lava and ash. Smoke engulfed the heavens, and the glow of fire and magma stained everything a terrible, blood-rusted red. The screams that rose up from the town pierced the air like halberds, a symphony of tragedy that breached the walls of the royal throne room, where a single figure stood, taking a glance at his cell phone.

No bars... not that there’s anyone out there who could save us now....

As dust and bricks became dislodged and rained around him, the figure numbly pocketed his phone and looked around, taking in the destruction around him. Bile rose in his throat, his numb hands rolling slowly into fists, finger by finger. The screams scratched at his heart as he stared at the floor, not at the wreckage fallen from the castle ceiling, but beyond it. Littered across the stone surface, like clusters of islands over a vast sea of gray, were tatters of black fabric, torn, mutilated, violated like a child sold into slavery. He swallowed hard, looking up at the empty frame hanging crooked on the wall.

This painting had gone a millennia untouched...

“Do they realize what they’ve done?” he murmured quietly. He spoke to no one in particular, but was aware he was not alone. Standing a safe distance behind him, a lanky young knight stood watchful, his face twitchy and calculating as he surveyed the Lord and his castle.

“If you’re asking me, I would say that ‘they’ know perfectly well what they’ve done,” he muttered in a haughty voice, glancing down at his own cell phone with a frown.

“Sir Cooper,” the young lord snapped, forcing the other to stop and look up from his phone. “You are my chief strategist and advisor. Have you spoken to the head of guard? Someone must have seen something.”

“I’m sure someone did. Unfortunately none of them are still alive.”

The lord balked at this information, and returned his gaze to the floor. “There must be some hint, though!” he exclaimed with an edge of panic. “Something left behind to reveal the demon at fault! I mean, look at this!” He reached down and snatched up a handful of fabric, turning to the knight and waving it in his face as though to force him to smell it. “And then look outside! This icon existed to keep the balance of the world in check! It kept the fabric of time and space from unravelling! Everything is falling apart! How can you be so calm about it?!”

“As a matter of fact I’m not calm!” the knight squeaked, glancing down at his phone. “The town is gone, power is out, people are dead, and worst yet, Twitter is down!”

“And it’s all my fault...” the lord murmured darkly, hanging his head.

“Well, no, technically it’s the guards fault. They couldn’t stop whoever did this.” Sir Cooper pocketed his phone and crouched down, sifting through the scraps thoughtfully.

“I’m the sworn protector of it. It was my responsibility....” He sighed, and rubbed his eyes. “There must be some way for me to redeem myself... but how do you stop the end of the world?”

“You can’t... but you can take out those responsible.”

“But we don’t even know who...”

The lord turned, to see the knight standing before him, holding something in an outstretched hand. Perplexed, the young lord snatched the item away. He examined it carefully, and his face drained of color.

“It... can’t be...” he murmured. But the metal crest was unmistakable.

“It is the only explanation as to how it happened....”

Neither spoke, only the rumble of earthquakes and screams of civilians halting the onset of complete silence. The lord stared down at the shredded velvet painting. He couldn’t believe it. Betrayal stung, piercing his chest through his woven white armor. He hoped it wasn’t true. How could it be true? He would never...

Sir Cooper leaned towards him. “Clearly, they had been planning this for awhile... you know you were warned about their kind--”

“Where’s my family?” the lord snapped bitterly, interrupting him.

“They’re as safe as we could make them.”

With one last look at the damaged painting, the lord turned, and stormed past the knight, his hands tight fists at his side. “Tell them I love them, and ready my steed. I know what I must do.”

“Will do, sir,” the knight replied. He made to follow, but paused, glancing down at the velvet scraps scattered across the floor. A momentary smile touched his lips before he hastened after his master.


“Please! You can’t get yourself involved!”

“But we have a pact with them! They are our allies! Our neighbors! Our friends! We must do something!”

The Great Scalzi, head of the Scalzorcs, desperately struggled against the hold of two of his trusted guards. “I am your leader!” he snarled. “I order you to let me go!”

“Are you nuts?!” one guard cried, tugging so hard Scalzi’s glasses fell off. “You’re our leader! Our people need you! Don’t bother yourself with what you can’t fix! It’s out of our hands!”

Noryanne Mountain, towering before them, erupted more viciously, lava spilling over. Time had run out. Reluctantly, Scalzi turned and ran, the others following.

The Scalzorcs were indeed orcs, but they had long ago abandoned the savage ways of their race. They harbored peace, prosperity, would rather eat pig bacon than human flesh, rather play games than start wars. The Noryanne Mountain was all that separated them from the human kingdom, and the leaders before Scalzi had gone to great lengths to earn the trust of the Royal Family of Comedia. Consequently, he and the current lord of the kingdom, Wil the Just, had a valuable friendship. They were like brothers. Now that Scalzi ran from Comedia and its suffering, his heart hurt thinking of his friend.

Other Scalzorcs thought this was a natural disaster, a volcanic eruption, but Scalzi knew the truth.

The Velvet Wesley had been destroyed.

It was an icon of sacred importance. It existed to bind the universe together, maybe all universes that existed. Their universe was now falling apart around them. The loss of the icon was the only explanation.

After running nearly a league, a cry halted him.

“Lord Scalzi! Look!”

Scalzi turned, following the pointing finger of a young warrior toward the great mountain. Up in the red sky, he saw a familiar silhouette, winged and majestic. He knew it immediately.

It was Wil, approaching atop his Unicorn Pegasus Kitten, a creature bred solely for use by the Royal Family.

“Lord Wil!” Scalzi shouted in relieved exuberance, waving his arms above his head. He was grateful to see him alive, and felt hope, hope that they could now work together, and change the course of fate.

As the flying mount grew closer, Scalzi frowned. Something was very wrong. The human lord wore his battle armor, woven from impenetrable white fabric and bearing the Comedian crest. He clutched a golden spear, and without a battle helmet, the fury in his face was apparent even from a distance.

Scalzi knew right away why Wil was there.

“Scalzi!” the Comedian lord screamed once in earshot. “You betrayed me!”

Scalzi turned to the few Scalzorcs near him. “Get out of here!” he shouted desperately.

Lord Wil raced by, sweeping his spear and managing to catch the Scalzorcian king across the arm, slicing a deep gash.

“My Lord!” cried out one of his guards as the human shot back towards the sky.

“Just get out of here!” Scalzi spat, wrenching the sword and shield from his servant. “Take care of the people! That is an order!”

Reluctantly, his guard obeyed, shepherding the last of the Scalzorcs towards higher ground as Scalzi turned toward the approaching threat.

The volcano erupted violently as the beast raced toward him, Wil lifting his spear above his head. This time, Scalzi was ready. With all his strength, the human lord hurled his spear at the Scalzorc leader. It struck his shield, splintering it to pieces. As the winged beast sailed over Scalzi’s bald head, the Scalzorc launched his axe, catching the kitten in the stomach. With a wild, ferocious howl, the creature plunged to the ground with a mighty upheaval of ash and dust. Scalzi charged forward, unable to stifle concern for his friend. As the dust cleared, the Comedian rose, looming before him.

“You destroyed the Velvet Wesley! You have sentenced my family and kingdom to hell!”

“But, Wil, I--”

“I don’t want to hear your excuses!” the lord bellowed. “I’m going to kill you. I will kill you and I’ll make you watch!”

Wil’s eyes darted towards the fallen spear, and Scalzi’s followed. It lay equidistant away from either one of them... the only weapon either of them could get.

“What told you I did it?” Scalzi spat, holding his ground. “After all these years, after everything, how could you ever--”

“Shut up, you filthy orc! I know you and your mischievous tricks! This has gone too far!”

“Filthy... orc...?” Scalzi repeated, then bared his teeth. “FINE! BE MY GUEST!”

With matching cries of bloodlust, both leaders made their move toward the golden spear.

...but neither actually did. Neither could. Rage was replaced with confusion as they each glanced at their feet. It was as though the soles of their shoes had melted to the stone ground, trapping them.

They looked at each other.

A terrible roar deafened them, and they turned to see an enormous wall of ash, mud and flame. A pyroclastic flow, surging at them like a tsunami of Earth.

From a safe cliff, a lanky figure stood, smiling down on them casually. A dusty book rested in his hands, open to a page of ancient incantations. His eyes flickered dangerously as they caught the gaze of the panicked, trapped man that he’d once called master.

I guess revenge isn’t always best served cold,
he thought with a widening smirk.

As the torrent of lava and Earth descended upon the two leaders, the knight read aloud from the book in twisted tongue, calling forth a long forgotten spell, one that would conjure a new icon elsewhere in time and space, weaving the universe back together. The chaos would end, and after the fall of the two great leaders, he, Sir Cooper, would be free to lay claim over this land. He would rebuild it in his image, and rule it mercilessly, as he always knew he would.


A universe away, an author named John Scalzi sat before his computer. He was hard at work, trying to meet a deadline when a notification blipped onto his screen, interrupting his thoughts. He glanced at it, and with a small exasperated sigh, clicked on it.

Oh, Wil. What are you sending me now? he wondered as he clicked an accompanying link. He scrolled through the page that appeared, leaning against his hand and cocking an eyebrow. It was a stupid velvet paintings website. He shook his head with a chuckle, and closed the window, both amused and annoyed by the interruption.

Not a minute passed before his typing fingers suddenly fell still. His eyes glazed over, staring through the computer screen. A strange feeling passed over him. A thought, an idea, appearing in his head out of nowhere, as though an invisible hand had reached through time and space, through his ear canal, and lodged it into his brain.

An epiphany.

A mischievous grin stretched across his face.

It has to be done.

With a few clicks, he reopened the velvet paintings site, and then began an image search for the keywords “Wesley Crusher.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mario Marathon and Video Games

At the moment, I am watching the Super Mario Marathon 3.

Basically, a group of geeks have come together to play and broadcast on ustream absolutely every Mario Bros. game for the Child's Play charity, a charity looking to get fun things for children's hospitals, so kids who are sick can still just be kids. People donate, and as the total amount increases, more and more levels get unlocked. So they basically play until they either run out of levels or run out of donations.

And I love it.

I mean, I love the basic humanitarian premise of the whole operation, for sure. If I didn't only have a few hundred dollars to my unemployed name, I would donate (and when they do this next year, I definitely will). But that's not the main reason why I love it. Even the fact that Wil Wheaton skyped in and Felicia Day showed up in the chat are not reasons why I really like it.

I just love watching them play.

I don't remember a time where a Nintendo console didn't live in our house. One of my earliest memories was sitting at my Nana's house at the age of four, during the period between when Mommy and Daddy loved each other and when Mommy and Daddy still loved each other but not enough to be husband and wife. We would spend every other weekend or so with my dad while he stayed at my Nana's. In one of the rooms, he had set up a tv, and hooked up to it, an original Nintendo Entertainment System. I would watch my dad and brother play as often as I could, witnessing them play Duck Hunt, Mario, and other games with titles I can't possibly remember, but I do distinctly remember fleeting screenshots of airplanes on a flat green screen, and pictures on the cartridges that my dad and brother would carefully blow into before attempting to play. I remember sitting and looking through all the games, being fascinated by the fact that not just was this on tv, but they were able to make the things on the tv move, with just some buttons on a remote.

I think I actually remember one of the first times I was allowed to play it. I remember how proud I was. I remember holding that square controller, sitting on the floor of that bedroom of my nana's house, in nothing but my underwear the way little kids tend to be at the age of four. I remember just how proud that I was playing a video game, like my big brother and my dad. It was like a rite of passage.

Let's get something very clear right off the bat -- I am a girl, and an incredibly clumsy one at that. My hand-eye coordination probably didn't really fully mature until I was maybe in middle school, so for the first 10+ years of my life, though I really loved video games, I really didn't enjoy playing alot of the games. There were some I loved - Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2, especially - but for the most part, I never liked playing video games, because I would always hit one frustrating point where I had trouble progressing on, and had very little patience to stick it out until I could.

So I tended to just sit around and watch my older brother play.

Growing up, my big brother never seemed all that interested in my existence. Sean's two years older than me, and has always been so incredibly cool, whereas I have always been just a whiny little dork of a baby sister. You know, the kind of sister that Shel Silverstein says is only worth a quarter or best offer. I wasn't cool, like he was. Since we were so different, and he was so indifferent, we never did much more than fight, tease, or ignore one another. But like most younger siblings, I always kinda wanted to be around him. I was interested in the things he liked, although I don't know if it was because I genuinely liked them too, or if it was just because he liked them, and I wasn't allowed to. (I did really like legos, but my mom was big on "gender roles," so I got the girly town legos, and I was forbidden to ever touch his castles and pirate ships and old west sets... when he could catch me...)

Another thing about Sean.

He was amazing at video games.

At least by my standards.

And I loved watching him play these video games. I loved watching him defeat levels and bosses. I loved seeing him tackle a new challenge. I was proud of him. I looked up to him, and I secretly wondered if I would ever be as cool, and good at video games, as him.

A few years after the NES introduction, when I was maybe six years old, my mother took us to visit our aunt and uncle in the mountains of New Mexico. They lived in this fantastic house on top of a hill, a house with stairs, and a basement, and trees all around. (Do you know how alien these concepts are to a kid from Arizona?). I only have a handful memories from the entire vacation - riding on a quad runner with my cousin Joe, getting rug burns on my stomach from sliding down the carpeted stairs so many times, and my older brother falling over a cliff on my cousin's bike, ending up in the emergency room.

Remember how I mentioned the house was on a hill? Well, my older brother made the wise decision to try out one of my cousin's bikes (and my cousin has a good five years on him). He ended up losing control of the bicycle, barreling down the hill not knowing how to stop. Somehow he managed not to hit any trees or skid and beef it on pine needles the whole way down, but waiting for him at the bottom of the hill was a dropoff where the hill had been carved away to make room for the road that led up to my aunt's house.

I wasn't around when it happened, so I was a little confused when I found myself sitting on the front porch swing with my cousin Joe, everyone running around very seriously. I could hear Sean crying inside the house, and I was really concerned, as a little girl who looks up to her big brother would be. Joe was supposed to keep me occupied and entertained so that they could take care of Sean in the living room, but somehow, probably through much begging, nagging and using my innocent child charm, he let me go inside.

All I remember was the way my brother cried, and the color of blood. Along with other injuries, his chin was cut open badly, and so was his hand, and red was smeared on his shirt and on the washcloths my mom was using to clean his injuries. I had never seen so much blood before in my young life. I genuinely thought my big brother was going to die, and I burst into sobs as Joe tried to pull me back out of the room again, the adults probably rightfully mad that he gave in and let me in to begin with.

"B-but...!" I wailed in mourning, the sound of an approaching ambulance in the distance, "He was suh-so good at N-nintendo!"

For years after that, I'd always kinda smirked at myself at the memory of that, thinking "Gee, all I cared about was that my brother could play Nintendo." When I got older, I realized that what I was actually thinking was "If my brother were to go away, I would miss watching him play Nintendo."

Five or six years ago, he moved out for college.

I really miss watching him play Nintendo.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jonel Cares

I am very big on naming things that are dear to me. For example, cars, laptops, teddy bears.

J.C., or Jonel Cares, is the name of my viola.

I got my viola when I was in 8th grade, since in 8th grade, I made the complete decision that I wanted to be an orchestra teacher. (We all know how that went). My dad was awesome and invested the money into it, though I only ended up actively playing it only two more years after that, neither of them consecutive.

The main reason why I wanted to be an orchestra teacher was because of my orchestra teacher. I had a wonderful teacher. Ms. Slack. Imagine Reese Witherspoon with less of a chin, dark hair, and occasionally wearing a Dave Matthews Band t-shirt. That was Ms. Slack. She came to our orchestra when I was in seventh grade, following on the tail end of Mrs. Edwards long and now retiring career. Mrs. Edwards took her self-written beginners books and teaching methods away with her, and we found ourselves with a completely different way of teaching. It was so foreign to many students that they immediately hated her, but I loved Ms Slack right at the start. She was so jubilant, so full of ideas and vivacity and idealism, like all new teachers are. She encouraged us all, challenged us, let us learn "gig" pieces and wanted to take us on tour and on field trips. And she had originally been a violist, like me, and I thought that was awesome.

At one point during the two years I had her, she decided to have us all write essays for an orchestra magazine none of us had ever heard of, about how music has influenced us. I wrote up something sweet, something I knew the magazine would like, in hopes of winning, and I said I really wanted to be an orchestra teacher. Writing this essay was the first time I remember wanting to. Miss Slack read it, and was absolutely ecstatic about it. I thought it was amazing how much she believed in me, so much that I believed in myself, and I decided, yeah, that's what I wanted to do.

So she took me under her wing.

Despite the fact she was poorly paid and overworked, she offered to private tutor me one day a week after school, as long as I stayed after another day to help her organize the incredible mess of filing cabinets the last teacher left behind. She encouraged me to try out for regionals, even though I didn't think I could do it. I almost didn't, but I ended up trying out last-minute, sight-reading the songs I needed to do, and I got in. She tutored me even during the summer months, and even drove me to the summer arts thing I was a student in (and she was a teacher in) afterward. She once bought me a sandwich from Baggins, a wonderful shop here in town, and I loved it, even though it had weird foods on it.

But it wasn't just all that that was amazing.

8th grade.... was an awful year for me.

After years of being underwhelmed and bored in "normal" education classes, I had finally managed to pass the test and get into the "gifted" classes.... and ended up a total and complete outcast. I wasn't skinny and pretty. I wasn't rich and fashionable. It had taken me until 8th grade to get in, and this meant that I was "stupid" (when in all actuality, I had only taken the test twice before that -- if I'd done it yearly, I probably would've gotten in sooner). Some of my classmates wouldn't even let me cast out ideas or share my papers in our essay groups, because they immediately discounted everything I did or said. We once had to come up with our own bill for congress to pass, and I said I thought it should be required for students to take music classes. They shut me up before I had explained the second bullet point of proof. They chose the marijuana legislation instead...

My best friend left me out of jealousy. She hated that I'd gotten into the GATE program and she hadn't. Anytime I brought it up, she (and her grandmother) thought I was rubbing it in her face. I would ask Aidan if she would be going on the field trip I was going on, because when I had been in part-time like she currently was, I had. It turned out she wasn't going on the field trip, and it apparently sounded like I was being conniving and smug about it. In all reality, I just wanted a friend to sit with.

When Aidan left, she took all of my friends with her.

So I was alone.

I was alone in my classes. I was alone outside my classes.

But I had Miss Slack, and that was pretty awesome.

Honestly, if Miss Slack hadn't done what she did for me, I may not have lived passed my 14th birthday. 8th grade triggered my first serious bout of depression, but it wasn't so bad when she was around, encouraging me and thinking the world of me. I even made a place in my room that I could sit and hide from everyone, with some papers on the wall reminding me of her, and reminding me that at least someone cared.

I just felt the side of my desk where those were. There's still some crispy corners of tape from where it all used to be. I wonder what I did with all that.

Because she had been so wonderful to me, I decided that I would name my viola after her. She helped me pick it out, after all.

Her first name was Jonel, so I named it something that I needed to remember when I felt down -- Jonel Cares.

Why am I talking about all of this now?

I was going through one of my dresser drawers tonight, on the side that had long been considered the "junk" side, where I would always shove anything I couldn't find a spot to while doing the dreaded chore of "cleaning my room." I found a notebook that I could recognize easily as being from either 8th or the beginning of 9th grade, by the angry scratches I had tore in the front cover with a mechanical pencil. I flipped through it, just kinda casually, and saw a spot where I had indented, like a quote. It jumped out at me, and I turned back to it.

"People who have given up are ruled by their darkest mistakes, worst failures, and deepest regrets. If you want to be successful, then be governed by your finest thoughts, your highest enthusiasm, your greatest optimism, and your most triumphant experiences. - John C. Maxwell."

My eyes welled up with tears as I read that, and I knew from the first two words why this was in my notebook.

It was a letter Miss Slack had given me, at the very end of 8th grade year, along with a Student of the Month award, only one of two I ever got my whole middle school career, both of them at the end of 8th grade (since in the dumb classes the teachers only ever reward the dumb kids who've suddenly shown promise, and in the smart classes the teachers only reward perfection). I have no idea where the original letter is now, which makes me incredibly sad, but I'm sure it had once graced the side of my desk where the empty tape now stands.

Fortunately, and amazingly, I had rewritten the entire letter, word for word, in my notebook.

I will try not to cry too much as I write it. (Although to be truthfully honest, I've been tearing up this whole time).

Dear Megan,

I want you to know that I am very proud of all your efforts and perseverance.

I also want you to know that I am aware that you have interests and pastimes that many of your peers think strange. Just remember that those interests and pastimes" (okay, I'm already crying) "help to make you the wonderful young woman you are! I know that you will always stay true to yourself, even when others mock, tease or try to harm you. That you have already experienced so much of that and remain true to your essence shows your incredible strength and fortitude." (I'd had to look this word up, because I wrote "strength" in parentheses next to it).

Remember to look for people who support you and like you for who you are. Surround yourself with successful people of integrity, and you will have lots of support.

You are a great example of living as the quote below tells us to live:

People who have given up are ruled by their darkest mistakes, worst failures, and deepest regrets. If you want to be successful, then be governed by your finest thoughts, your highest enthusiasm, your greatest optimism, and your most triumphant experiences. - John C. Maxwell.

I am so honored that you are my student.

Ms. Slack

I'm sitting here now, just a little over 8 years since she initially wrote me this (wow, 8 years...), and I can't believe I let myself forget this wisdom. I remember reading these words over and over again in my miniature sanctuary, remember how I had even posted one of my Lord of the Rings tarot cards beside the letter (I believe it was the Wheel of Fortune card? It mentioned fortitude in the description).

And, to be honest, in high school, like I said, I think I really tried to follow this advice, even if I wasn't consciously aware of it.

I just wish I knew what happened after that.

All I know is, I'm going to retype this letter and post it somewhere where I can look at it all the time.


As a kind of postscript...

Every Monday of the first semester of 9th grade, I went to the middle school to be a tutor to some of Ms. Slack's beginner students. Since high school at that point was more of the same aloneness, even in my new upper-level orchestra, it was an absolute godsend that I was able to spend more time around her, and to teach kids like I thought I would years down the line.

Near the end of the semester, my dad was idling in the parking lot to pick me up, and Ms. Slack came out with me to greet him.

"So... what do you think of me going into pharmacy?" she asked my dad after her hello.

I just stood there completely numb, and I do believe that moment was the end of my dreams of being an orchestra teacher. It crushed me to know that she wanted to leave. To be fair, the job had really not been kind to her -- the administration sucked, and the students had been very cruel to her. But to hear that she did not want to do it anymore.... I felt betrayed. I really did.

The next semester our school changed their Monday schedule, so I was no longer able to tutor. I learned the next year that she had left, and coincidentally, that same year I had left orchestra (though it wasn't my fault - the schedulers put me in steel drums instead. I didn't argue).

Right before I went to NAU, I bumped into her at Barnes and Noble... working at Barnes and Noble. It was neat to see her, but I still felt that pang of sadness and betrayal.

But then... a couple more years later, I bumped into her at my little brother's elementary school.

Working at my little brother's elementary school. As an orchestra teacher.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic! I thought it would have been so cool for my little brother to have her in a couple years. Her named had changed because she'd gotten married, but she was just as wonderful as ever, with a great smile and a spark of equal parts mischief and wisdom in her eyes.

Unfortunately, Arizona has since decided that schools don't deserve as much funding, and the schools have decided that music is not worth their funding. Ms. Slack was cut from her position.

I don't know where she is now. I don't know if she's still teaching orchestra in this music-hating world, or if she had to do something else. I know she is on facebook, but it seems weird to add her after all these years....

All I know is, I am a better person because I knew her.

Never, ever, underestimate the power of a teacher who legitimately cares. They can turn lives around.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

w00tstock v2.4?


w00tstock 2.4 is going to San Diego.

I live in Tucson, AZ.

That's a 409 mile drive, approximately six hours if I include stops and don't speed too much (which I guarantee I'm gonna try and be over 80mph as much as I can.... but not much over 80mph, because I'm a grandma like that)

According to the gas calculator I found, gas will be approximately $66.02 roundtrip.

The ticket to w00tstock is $30

I can get a parking permit to a lot not far from the venue in advanced. Price? $5 (amazing for downtown SD during CC, but that's likely because of the distance from the convention center)

If I bring as much food from home as I can (and granted I will probably be way too excited to eat anyways, just like at Phoenix Comicon), that will cut down food costs.

Sleep in the car that night someplace moderately safe (need to figure out where), and drive home the very next day.

Allow some money for food, drinks, and souvenirs -- I'd say $40 at the most for all that.


Subtract the $100 refund I'm getting from San Diego Comic-Con for the 4-day pass I wont be using.

That means it will really only cost me maybe $35 bucks, give or take, to do this.

Initially, I was hoping to do this with my college roommate Alyssa, but she has her make-up school routine ending at 4pm, and getting from Burbank to San Diego in 2.5 hours during rush hour is just not going to happen. When I learned this, I was pretty devastated. And initially, I admitted defeat. My social phobia and fear of downtown parking and the idea of telling my mom about it and worry about a job interfering just made it too overwhelming.

I went to bed feeling terrible.

While lying in bed, I felt this strange kinda tickling presence kinda behind one of my ribs.

And I just kinda decided....

I'm gonna buy a ticket. And I'm going to do my DAMN BLOODY HARDEST to do this. I want to. I want to SO BAD.

And, if it happens, there's a chance there will be autograph sessions.... which means I could not only say hi to Wil, but also meet ADAM SAVAGE, and Molly Lewis and Paul and Storm and oh my god that would be so cool

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Twitter is SO EFFING RAD!!!

I. Love. Twitter.

It kicks the ass off facebook, and honestly if my only connection to the REAL world wasn't facebook (oh god that sounds terrible), I'd drop it completely and do Twitter only.


It's not even so much that I have friends on it, cuz I have relatively few IRL friends in comparison to the book of faces.

It's the celebrities. And the geeks. No, the geeky celebrities.

Yes, this is going to be a Wheaton-adjacent post.

Let me explain WHY Twitter is so amazing and intriguing to me.

w00tstock, the nerdiest of fests, is completely linked to Twitter. They decided, through twitter, to do a w00tstock in San Diego, and right now, as I type this *backs away and checks twitter really quick before resuming* they're announcing some of the guests that have been confirmed to be there.

Here's how it all went down.

Paul, of @paulandstorm (a geeky music duo), got onto Twitter today, just a few hours ago, with the following:

Paul and Storm paulandstorm [P] Hey, @wilw; do you think the kids might like to know some of our confirmed guests for #w00tstock SD?

Obviously, I had to speak up.

Megan Phillips melimsah @paulandstorm AUGH TELL US TELL US TELL US PLEEEEEASE TELL US PAUL OF PAULANDSTORM!!!!! #w00tstock

only minutes later, Paul tweets:

Paul and Storm paulandstorm [P] I'm not supposed to say who's coming to #w00tstock San Diego until @wilw says I'm allowed to.
And not long after that, Wil pulled out his twitter client....

Wil Wheaton wilw @paulandstorm As a matter of fact, I think they would. Let's make them wait an hour while we twirl our moustaches, though. *twirl*

Paul and Storm paulandstorm @wilw [P] You twirl your moustache; I shall wring my hands while grinning.

....ugh....huh... WHAT?!
No fricken way... they wouldn't...
But the minutes turned into tens of minutes...


Obviously.... I was understandably upset.... so, for the next hour...

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw WHEATOOOOOOOON!!!!!

(that was a BBT quote)

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw will perish in flames!
(Ghostbusters quote)

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw @paulandstorm tell us or we will bludgeon you with ASCII dicks!!!
(reference to paulandstorm's reaction to something Wil said about them at PhxCC)


And after almost forty minutes of NOTHING:

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw Why don't you just LOSE THE GAME for all I care?! Do you know how painful this is?! #w00tstock #tellus? #please? #now? #kthxbaifuck
(I know Wil plays "The Game," and by George I was determined to make him fail. Also, note the Guild hashtag)

After OVER an hour...

Wil Wheaton wilw Muhahahahaha ... *twirl* *twirl* *shifty eyes*

Paul and Storm paulandstorm [P] [grins] [continues to writhe hands]...

Paul and Storm paulandstorm [P] So, then, @wilw; shall I? Or would you like the honors?

Megan Phillips melimsah @paulandstorm SQUEAK?!?!?!?! *puts hands to mouth in total and complete antici......PATION*

Wil Wheaton wilw *cackle* *evil eyebrow arch* #w00tstock Comicon revelations will begin from me and @paulandstorm in just a few minutes. *fingersteeple*

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw *FACEDESK!* *muffles obscenities into the woodgrain*

Paul and Storm paulandstorm [P] Time to announce the first round of confirmed guests for #w00tstock SDCC (with my pal @wilw)--ALL-TWITTER EDITION!

And this, is where it really starts getting fun!!

Sandeep Parikh sandeepparikh @wilw @paulandstorm i'm on the edge of my seat!

See? I'm not the only one! Zaboo was all into it too!!! And actually, I know THOUSANDS of people probably were, but I'm getting ahead of myself

They start naming people -- Molly Lewis (@Molly23), Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) and Jason Finn@Jasonfinn, who I'm not familiar with).

And here's what I'm doing while they slowly announce these:
Megan Phillips melimsah *refresh twitter* *refresh* *refresh* *refresh* *refresh* *refresh!* *REFRESH* *REFRESH!!!* #w00tstock #whosgonnabethere?!

After those first twitter mentions, Wil posts:

Wil Wheaton wilw More #w00tstock SDCC guest announcements coming in a moment. Hope at least some of you are currently quivering with antici...

(Rocky Horror Alert!!)

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw PATION!!!!!!

Megan Phillips melimsah @wilw I'm about ready to fall out of my chair and pass out, I'm feeling so lightheaded as a result of the antici...pation #Imnotevenkidding

Bill Amend billamend @wilw Some of us refuse to succumb to your obvious reply bait. Oh fine...PATION!

Wil Wheaton wilw ...pation. I am delighted to announce that @MattFraction, who was AMAZING in Portland, will be joining us for #w00tstock SDCC. [:leg kick:]

(I have to confess I'm also unfamiliar with Matt)

They finish up calling out Len Peralta (@jawboneradio) and Marian Call (@mariancall).


Now, let me explain why this is awesome to me.

I @replied to them alot. I wasn't expecting any sort of reply nor really that they would read mine, because I'm sure they were getting THOUSANDS of tweets on the matter.


It's like seeing a show live. It's happening - now - and you get to be in on it. You experience the same sort of intimacy that you feel when you're watching a band onstage as opposed to hearing their music on the radio. Your voice, even if it's not individually heard, is heard along with the masses. You cheer, and the band hears you. Maybe every so often, your high-pitched whistle will be recognizable over the roar of like-minded fans. It doesn't matter if they can pinpoint your scream over the roar of others -- it's being able to be a part of that crowd that is so fascinating to me. And I know from experience that these guys DO read their @replies. It's not like sending an email or fan letter and expecting it to be lost, thrown away, deleted as spam, etc. I know they see them. Again, maybe they wont see mine specifically, maybe it will have no effect, but it has an effect en masse with everyone else. I like being a part of the twitter audience.

I would go on to explain the other reasons I love twitter (like, and especially, @jephjacques and the twitter feeds of his webcomic characters), but I'll leave that for another time....

I really want to go to w00tstock. I dunno if Alyssa and I will be able to secure tickets, and if we do, I don't even know if I'll be able to go...

but I want this. I want this REALLY bad.....

wish us luck.

Think Geek

See what I did there? x3 Yes, this post will mention thinkgeek, the website, but also I'm referring to the fact that I'm trying to, you know, think...geek, as in reconnect with the geeky side of myself.

In high school, I was Geek. I was totally okay with my obsessiveness and nerdiness. I wore White Letters on Black T-shirts, along with shirts with Inuyasha or Zelda or Yoda or all these other things on them. T-shirts and boy pants. My backpack was decorated with patches and had so many pop-culture keychains on it that I would walk down the hallway and friends on the other end would know it was me approaching. I drew anime characters and comics during class, was very verbal about how many days remained until the release of the next Harry Potter book, I wore the One Ring around my neck and I doodled on my hands with jelly roll pens long after it was cool. I dressed up like Terra from Teen Titans one year for Halloween. I loved my teachers and always strove for the distinction as "teacher's pet." I found myself doing math problems for fun during the summer to keep myself from going crazy.

When I left high school and went to college, I found myself in a sea of remarkably ungeeky people. At least, not geeky the way my friends and I were geeky in high school. I felt out of place and I was terrified of being labelled as "the weird nerdy one" that no one would want to talk to. I abandoned the vast majority of my incredibly geeky shirts, to the point that I cut them up with the intent to make a quilt out of them, and replaced them with girlier clothes. I just about completely ceased drawing anime during classes, because stadium seating meant more people could watch over my shoulder (I've always been a sit-up-front kind of teacher's pet), and I thought that college was supposed to be hard and thus I should not be able to draw during class and still do well. (I always ended up drawing in the margins of my notebooks anyways, or surfing the internet when I switched to online notes).

I was a LOT happier in high school than I was in college. Apart from factors like "I felt like I was doing something worthwhile with my education" and "my friends in general were not dicks," I think a large portion of it was also that I felt comfortable being geek! I didn't feel any pressure to impress ANYONE. I was, for the most part, cool with myself and my White Text on Black Tshirts, my clacky keychains and my One Ring, my baggy boy pants and my flip-flops, even in winter. I had insecurities, sure, but what teenager, or person really, doesn't? The fact of the matter is, at that point in my life, I was far more secure in myself and my place in the world than I ended up being four years later.

I mean, there are some things now that I still just don't like that I did then. White text on black tshirts? Not so much, but if I can start accumulating more colorful shirts like this one from thinkgeek, then I would be very happy! The sound of clacky keychains? Nope. However, I do have an extensive collection of nerdtastic buttons that are just BEGGING to be displayed on a purse or something.

I really just want to feel okay with being geeky again. I want my brain to work the way it did in high school. And one day, I'm going to replace that incredibly tarnished the-gold-plating-is-falling-off One Ring with a solid gold one. :3