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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Watching Wil Wheaton in Criminal Minds - A Commentary

Let me just say, right now, that I have never watched Criminal Minds. It sounds like a kind of show I'd like, (psychology! woo!) though this experience will probably ruin the show entirely for me.

I've decided to watch the episode where Wil Wheaton plays a completely psychotic serial killer.... you know I think he's awesome and I KNOW he is such a sweet guy but even the idea of seeing him be totally evil is just DESTROYING ME!!! YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!

The way I explained it to Cory was that it must've been what Fry felt like when he learned that Santa was an evil robot in the year 3000...

But I HAVE to watch it!! He wrote about the experience extensively and put it in a book I have yet to buy from him, Sunken Treasures (WHY DIDN'T I BUY IT FROM HIM AT PHOENIX COMICON RARGH!!!), and I want to get that book and read it! I don't want to read it if I haven't seen the episode!

So, here I am, watching the episode....

And the thing is, the episode is half over, and all I've seen so far is his fricken EYEBALL!! And what he's doing to the poor couple that's trapped in his motel.

....except they just revealed him.

He walks on camera, acting like a bumbling motel manager, and my first reaction?

"AUGH!!! IT'S HIM!! IT'S HIM!! IT'S THE KILLER! KILL IT!!! KILL IT!!!!!" *snatches up wireless magic imac mouse and chucks it at his evil face!*

Calm down, Megan, calm down... it... it's gonna be okay... you're watching this to witness how great of an actor he is... it's... it's gonna be fine...

I'm not going to sleep tonight....

...I think now that I've seen him... I'm okay. B-but... he was so calm, a-and joking... then he was all like BITCH-STARE!-GTFO to that guy and... joked... but then... *swallows* He's in the room with them, and those underwears AREN'T HERS!!!

AUGH! WHY DID I THINK I COULD WATCH THIS?!?! *slaps hands to face*

Commercial break. (Which on Megavideo is two seconds long).

I've been watching with my hands over my face, but with my eyes wide open, just like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone -- and yes, I did have to cover my eyes completely a couple times, NO EASY TASK WITH GLASSES ON, WIL!

omg he's terrifying. Wil, Wil, thank GOD you aren't really like this and thank GOD I didn't watch this before Phoenix Comicon or I would have been SCARED SHITLESS TO MEET YOU!

...they know it's him... will they be able to save them? If I wasn't so scared, I'd be biting my fingernails now.... yeah, that's how scared I am. *puts hands back on face and resumes episode*

....there's Wil again....


He's... he's like the Joker, without the laugh!!

....I can live with this, I think.

I do ever so love the Joker.... ^_^ Mark Hamill's Joker in particular....

....what.... WHAT?!




(um... that would be irony, just btw)

....and the episode is over. And I gotta say, I'm pretty glad I watched it. Was it terrifying? Yes. Will I ever watch it again? HELL NO! ...well... probably not anyways.... But man... it was like Wil Wheaton and the Joker made a baby and it was PERFECT! XD I am incredibly proud of him... but he should never play a character like that again. Stick to the mischievously misguided asshole part if you gotta play that side of the spectrum. Don't go all the way to the dark side. THEY DON'T HAVE COOKIES THERE! THE COOKIES ARE A LIE!!

And that is the end of my Watching Criminal Minds With Wil Wheaton Fan Commentary. will bet I'll be doing a similar commentary when or if I ever actually get around to watching Next Generation... cuz I'm sorry, but from the impression I get of the whole Wesley Crusher dynamic, I think I'd prefer the psychotic maniac.... and that almost rhymed. ...oh who am I kidding, no it didn't...

I feel oddly at peace now... the adrenaline is ebbing and I just kinda feel numb and blank-minded. Is this what happens to people after scary movies or something? I guess I could understand the allure of scary movies if this is what happens to you, but dude... I really don't think I should watch scary movies. I mean, HOCUS POCUS scared the shit out of me.... if I want an adrenaline rush, I think I'll stick to roller coasters...

Alrighty, then. Now that that's done, I can legally and awesomely obtain the production notes in audio format that is conveniently available at along with many of the other things he has done. :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

My memory

So, you know how everyone has those little voices in their heads (I mean, it's not just me, right?) The voice of a good idea. The voice of self-doubt. The voice of do-the-right-thing. The voice of what-do-I-want-to-eat-tonight? Those voices.

I have a voice that doesn't like to speak up when she really damn well should.

It's my memory.

I don't know if it's genetics or my depression or what, but my memory *hates* me right now. It has for a few years. I've always been one to have things slip my mind, but it's been unbelievably bad, lately.

Yesterday, I'd realized that I'd completely forgotten that Waking Sleeping Beauty, an amazing-sounding documentary on the Disney Renaissance from 1989-99, was going to be in Phoenix. And I'd missed it by a day.

Then, today, I realized, to my extreme horror and upset, that it was Monday the 14th... and that Friday the 11th, at 7pm, I was supposed to be standing poolside at Fort Lowell park, cheering on my favorite cousins at their synchronized swimming water show. And it wasn't just a water show - it was the last water show my oldest cousin Ellen was going to be in, ever.

I love my cousins. These ones, for some reason, are really near and dear to my heart, probably because they've always looked up to me and accepted me, and I've always felt comfortable around them, more so than many of my other cousins. I've always been very proud of them. And I always loved watching them swim. Their acts are always amazing, and they consistently go to nationals.

And here's where it's just really bothering me -- I was so excited to go. I really wanted to go. I kept reminding my mom that I couldn't do anything on Friday because I had to go to the watershow. I told Donald I'd take him with me so he could hang out with my cousin Robert, who's about his age. I told Ellen I would be there and that I was so excited. I told Sean, my older brother, that he should go. On Thursday night, even, I'd told my mom that I would be going.

Then Friday came and went.

What the hell happened??

I don't really even remember what I did on Friday... I mean my mom has been really sick the past four days, and I know she stayed home sick on Friday (first pnemonia, and then a massive allergic reaction to the antibiotics they put her on). I took Donald to a movie, and I think we stopped at the library? But at 7pm, I wasn't doing anything. Maybe I was drawing. Maybe I was writing. Maybe I was hanging out with Donald or painting or something. But the point was, I was not at the water show.

I feel terrible. I've actually been crying off and on since I remembered earlier today, about 60 hours too late. I feel like I let my cousins down, and I'm afraid they'll never forgive me. I let myself down, because I really really had wanted to see Ellen swim one last time. I also didn't get to go to the water show last year because I had to work, so I wanted to make up for it by going this year. I feel rotten. I feel like a loser failure dirtbag. I wrote on Ellen's wall to tell her I'm sorry, but either she hasn't read it or she doesn't want to respond. I'd text her, but she changed phone numbers. I'd call her, but I'd break down into tears almost immediately. I just feel awful, and I can't get over it. I know it's too late to do anything about it, but I am just hating myself, and my stupid silent memory, for forgetting.

I've made efforts over the years to figure out a way to help me remember things. Probably my most successful was the calendar on my old phone. If you made a calendar appointment, you could set a reminder time, and it would ring at that time and every five minutes after that, to be really fricken sure you notice it. My new phone doesn't have that feature. It makes one small noise and is forever silent. I've tried dead-tree planners and notebooks to write down homework assignments in, I've had dead-tree calendars where I can write down things. I would even write notes to myself with dry erase on the mirror so I can't even look at my face without seeing it -- and you know what? I would forget to check all these things. Seriously.

But something has to change. I don't want to let anyone down like that again. I don't want to be like my father, who was always forgetting shit and letting me down. But I don't know what to do. And right now, all I want to do is curl up in bed and cry.

Yeah, this is my life.

Phoenix Comicon: Part 6 -- Photos or it DIDN'T HAPPEN!

So, as is customary with Awesome Things That Happen That Are Unbelievable, I present to you pictures that my friend Tanya posted from Phoenix Comicon 2010, as well as some of my crappy phone pics!

"HOMFG WE'RE AT PHOENIX COMICON!" is our reaction here.

There were many strange costumes.... but these guys were by far the strangest things I saw... pretty unbelievable...

I met the Green Power Ranger! (He needs to lay off the corn chips and mojitos)

Me, after I got offstage after dancing Bad Romance. Sad I can't find any pics/video of the actual happenings.... oh well.

LOOK AT THAT SPREAD AT GEEK PROM!! I mean, come on! Normal proms don't even cater flavor of this magnitude! #RobotChickenStarWarsQuote #AckbarIsATrap #TwitterHashtagsInBloggerLAWL!

Me and Spock dancing it up at Geek Prom! Oh yeah, look at our geeky threads!

A drink at the Hard Rock Cafe!!! 8D

Water at the Hard Rock Cafe!!! 8D (Oh man, was I dehydrated by that point....)


(Crappy phone pics time!)

My favorite part of the WiL's SouR CReAm -- KePp You HaNz oF iT o ElS!

Are you READY to RAID?! ROCK?! (Cuz I was ^_~)

After Rock Band -- the label on my badge that says I played drums in the second band, and you can see my brand spankin' new Wil-Wheaton-gave-it-to-me-himself Rock Band t-shirt! :D

This is the picture I ended up giving to - and signing for - Wil.


And.... of course.... the pieces de resistance.

I MET FELICIA DAY! (and did not smell her hair)

AND I MET WIL FUCKING WHEATON!!! 8D And just look how happy he is with one of his most awesome fans EVER!! He knows I'm awesome.


Oh, and you know how "If there aren't any photos, then it didn't happen." Well, "If there are any videos, then HOLY SHIT IT TOTALLY HAPPENED!!!" Cuz seriously, pshawr, anyone could photoshop a photo. XP

That's. Right. That is me on the drums. And I was the one who had to make Wil sing this song. I'm such a BAMF. xP

Phoenix Comicon: Part 5 -- Season Finale

Waking up and preparing for the last day of Phoenix Comicon was accompanied by a very strange, very heavy sense of doom. After two days spent on the top of a tower of awesome, where it seemed like everything was going good for me, where I was happy and at peace with myself as a geek, I just suddenly had this feeling that it was only inevitable that the tower of awesome would fall down on top of me, crushing me and undoing all the progress and achievements I had unlocked during the whole trip. We checked out of the Super 8 motel we’d stayed at that night, and I was so tired and so distracted by the sense of doom, that I nearly ran a red light or two on our way back downtown, and Tanya undoubtedly questioned my sanity and my driving capabilities as a result. We parked in the same garage we had been, and made our way to the convention center, where I had one final mission.

I wanted to talk to Wil again. I wanted to walk up to him and let him know just how much I appreciated everything he’d done, thank him for being so awesome, for making this weekend so terrific. I hoped it wasn’t against the rules, the invisible ones I always convince myself that exist, that I take up his time without purchasing anything. Tanya reassured me it would be, that he would enjoy being thanked, but the voice of self-doubt, which had been largely silenced during the length of the convention, was starting to talk again.

I decided first to go to a morning panel on lolita costuming (there are geeky things I like other than Wil Wheaton, I’ll have you know), but the moment that was over, I made a beeline for the exhibit hall.

But when I got to the line of tables that contained his, I found that his chair was missing one vital thing - him. I was crestfallen. Was this the terrible thing my instincts had warned me of? That I wouldn’t get to thank Wil Wheaton, personally?

There was a small line waiting for him, but despite what those comprising it assured me, I was skeptical that he would show up at all. On twitter, he’d announced that he’d sold out of all of his books on Saturday... would he even bother to show up today if he had nothing to sell? (I forgot that he had photos, too). I passed the time by talking to this geek boy who TOTALLY could have been Hank Green’s illegitimate child, I kid you not. (That is, if Hank Green impregnated a girl as a teenager). Impatience and worry clutched me as more minutes swept by, so I went to ask the line patrol people myself if he was coming. They said yes, that he had simply slept in after being up late with his other convention buddies, and should be there shortly. When I walked back to my spot, the nerd boy (who I found out by eavesdropping was named Ashley) grabbed my attention and pointed it towards the booth.

Wil had shown up!!

I couldn’t believe it! My luck hadn’t decided to betray me after all! I clumsily pulled my sketchbook out of my bag and read over the little notes I had made, to be sure I didn’t forget any important points or details. I watched as Ashley had Wil sign a whole bunch of Wesley Crusher stuff, and then as he walked off, I approached.

And because this is a moment I want to remember forever, I feel it’s acceptable to switch the tense of the upcoming section to “present tense,” to create a more active sense of this happening right now, because god I wish it were. I’d been doing this during the whole recollection of the convention, not really consciously. Sorry to the grammar nerds out there, but it felt appropriate.

“Hi again,” I say sheepishly as I reach the table.

“Oh hey!” says Wil’s assistant brightly. She was a heavy-set woman, like me, with long graying hair and an interesting face. “You were so awesome at Rock Band the other night!”

“Yeah you were!” Wil agrees with a girn. My cheeks burn as I accept the compliment, although secretly doubtful he had paid any attention to the drummer while assuming the role of Singing Rock God.

“Sorry for making you sing Bon Jovi... But to be fair you put the idea in my head.”

“I don’t really mind playing Bon Jovi, actually,” he admits. “I’ve done it so many times and everyone always seems to really like it, so I just always end up playing it. I’ve just learned to embrace it and enjoy it.”

I’m relieved by this. My attention turns to my mission, and I shift in place, gripping my sketchbook tightly, glancing down at it. “Um, I just wanted to say a few things...” I murmur with a twinge of shakiness to my voice. I look up from my sketchbook with an apologetic face. “I, uh, had to write them down, so I wouldn’t forget. I’m pretty forgetful.”

I can’t remember exactly what Wil’s reaction was to this, I was too busy staring at my sketchbook. I assume he said “Okay,” and settled back to listen to my words, maybe half-expecting a poem or something stupidly fangirly like that, I dunno.

I take a deep breath, well up my courage, but found myself unable to say the first thing written on the paper. I glance around at the exhibition hall, as though looking for something to help me.

“You know, this is only my second convention,” I say, glancing over at Felicia at the next table, and the gaggle of geeks surrounding her, holding their various convention purchases and taking pictures.


“Yeah, the first was San Diego last year - so you can totally imagine how much of a contrast I’m experiencing here. But I, um...” I swallow back the nervousness in my throat. “I just really wanted to tell you, well.... Thank you. So much. For everything you’ve done for us here at this con. You know, for--” I glance at my list, my mind going blank. What did we do again? Oh, that’s right. “--for playing Rock Band with us, even though we could tell you were really tired. For dancing in with us during geek prom, despite the whole paparazzi stupidness that happened. I mean, I know Felicia didn’t like it...”

“Oh my god tell me about it,” he says, shifting in his chair. “Cameras flashing is one thing, but there were video cameras literally in our faces.”

“I know. That was so dumb. I just wanted to dance with you guys. I can’t believe not everyone else felt that way. After you guys left, I ended up going on twitter and apologized to both of you for what happened...”

“Oh, dude, I totally saw that! I actually was going to respond, but I really couldn’t say what I wanted to in a tweet...

“Oh man I wish you had...” I say in honesty. “That would’ve been so cool. Felicia responded to me. That was insane.” (I realize now, in hindsight, that they were probably in the same place when I sent those., and I kinda wonder what they said to each other about it.)

I turned back to my list, and kinda jump with a grin as my memory is jogged by the next item on the list - good thing I’d written these things down. “Oh my god, and thank you for grabbing that last Rockband t-shirt for me!”

“That was you?? Oh man, I mean, I saw what that chick did! She totally cockblocked you! And I’m pretty sure she had just walked in, whereas you’d been up front enjoying the concert that whole time. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.”

“It was really awesome of you, seriously. You are so awesome, so totally not a dick! Just, yeah, thank you.” I glance back down at my list, and realize that I am out of things to say. That’s really it? That was all I had to say? It didn’t feel like enough, so I say thank you once more.

But we keep on talking. The order in which things were said is kind of a haze for me, but at some point, I suddenly decide to do something crazy.

“So, you might have noticed me sitting on the floor in front of the stage, drawing, during Rock Band... and I did this really awesome picture of you... I mean, I really like it anyway....” I flip through my sketchbook, following the trail of drawings I’d been following since that night. I find what I’m seeking, and turn the sketchbook around and show him.

Now, his reaction.... I honestly don’t remember. I can’t remember if it was along the level of “Oh, hey, it’s art! I’ve seen that before!” or around the level of “Wow, this is really good art!” or perhaps the level of “This is awesome art! I want it can haz it?!” I do get the sinking suspicion that he, at least the very least, went “Wow, that really looks like me!” and something along the lines of “Nice!”

Whatever the exact reaction, I just know it was positive, and I know as a result, I blushed. “I even got your checkered shoes,” I add sheepishly

“I like the shoes,” he agrees with a nod and a bright grin. He observes it a little closer. “You know, my son’s an artist.”

“Oh yeah?? What does he do? I mean, like pencil or paint or...”

“Nah, he does ink drawings.”

I repress the urge to be really creepy and ask which son it was (he talks about them enough that I was curious). Instead, I ask “Is he going to school for it?” It’s common knowledge, at least, that both of Wil Wheaton’s sons are in college now.

“Nope, he’s mechanical engineering.”

I laugh loudly. “Wow, that’s exactly what my brother is doing! It’s funny, cuz he’s older than me, right? But I kinda just graduated, and I was like ‘Haha, first!’, but then he was like “Let’s see who’s the first to have a career.’”

A wince passes through the faces of Wil and his assistant, like the crowd at a sporting events doing the wave and having it go horrible wrong. “Ouch! Headshot!” Wil proclaims. “That sucks!”

“Yeah, I know... and I don’t even actually have the degree yet. My school wasn’t very good and I didn’t learn very much, so I’m holding out for financial aid reasons and trying to go somewhere else. I’d like to get into Calarts or someplace, for animation.”

“Oh man, Calarts is tough to get into," he comments while looking at my picture a little more closely, "but that is THE school if you want to do animation.”

He would know. He’s in the biz, at least the voice acting side of it.

“Well, this is really good, and good luck getting in,” he tells me, handing the sketchbook back. I take it from him and look at the picture. It really is awesome.

And this is where my memory gets really foggy. I don’t know if he said something to prompt me to do this, or if it was all me, but I glance up from the picture and blurt out, “I could give it to you!”

I do remember his eyes genuinely lighting up in happiness for a moment. But then, his performance side of him jumped into action, concealing his excitement with a veneer of offhanded apathy.

“Oh, you know,” he begins. “It’s no big deal. I mean, it would be awesome if you did. You know, I wouldn’t mind or anything, but you don’t have to. I don’t care.”

As he says this, he sits back in his chair, turning his head away from me, his arms crossed and his nose elevated in a very clear “I’m speaking complete and total bullshit here and if you don’t give that to me I might just walk out and never come back. I’m so serious. Don’t think I’m kidding.”

“Okay, I’ll totally give it to you!” I stammer quickly, my fangirly brain recognizing the possibility of disappointing my geeky idol and taking control in order to prevent his unhappiness. I set the sketchbook down, get ready to rip it out, when suddenly, I pause.

You don't have a good picture of it, that voice in my head, the not-so-nice one, tells me. You only have a cell phone picture. God, you're so dumb....

Look, I tell it silently with a sigh. It's too late now. It'd be a dick move to take back my offer just because I'm selfish and want this all to myself. It’s just a drawing, and Wil Fucking Wheaton wants it. Bite me, and let me do this.

I fumble in my pocket clumsily “Just, uh, give me a sec....” I tell Wil, and I pull out my pencil and erase “Stage left” from the top, and hope the already-erased “Just a Geek? No, so much more!” caption isn’t too obvious. I sheathe my pencil and prepare to tear the page out, and realize that my sketchbook isn’t perforated. I shakily apologize the fact that I can’t rip a clean line or anything.

“Don’t worry about it. I have ways to cut off the fringe when I get home,” Wil says, and I proceed to rip the sketch from its binding, and I quietly and sheepishly hold it out for him, suddenly forgetting how to speak.

“Nuh, uh,” his assistant says with a shake of her head. “You gotta sign it!”

“Yeah, artist has to sign it!” Wil chirps with sparkling eyes.

I freeze, eyes wide, mouth probably agape.

Really? They want me to sign something for him??

So that’s what I do. I pick my pencil back up, and sign something for Wil Wheaton. I'm shaking a little by this point, as I lean over my drawing, struggling to remember what my name even is, let alone how to do my awesome signature.

“I can’t believe this. I’m signing something for you,” I can't help but stammer, my voice squeaking.

“Yeah, it is kind of a bizarre case of role reversal, isn’t it?” he laughs, and leans back in his seat, making himself comfortable. “It’s kinda nice.”

As I finish my signature, he adds that I should write “Phoenix Comicon 2010” on it, so I do. My hand is shaking so badly now that I almost accidentally write Phoeniz. It was my own fault for deciding to use cursive -- worst cursive of my life. I find myself apologizing more than once for being such a clumsy fool, and by now my face is probably full on beet red. Finally, feeling stupid and clumsy, I hand the signed drawing to him, and he looks it over again with a proud, beaming smile.

“Thank you so, so much. This is so awesome,” he says with every bit of sincerity.

“No, thank you,” I tell him.

He passes the drawing to his assistant, telling her to be sure it goes with his stuff he doesn’t want to lose.

“Like the sour cream?” I ask.

“Like the sour cream," he agrees with an even wider grin.

I can tell that our time together is getting close to ending. There are many people behind me now, waiting, and it wouldn't be long before he would have to go to his last panel.

“Thanks again, Wil,” I say.

“No, thank you. You keep going to cons, got it?”

“Don't worry. I wil. And, well, you keep going to cons, too...” I pause a moment, both of us a
little bewildered by my words. I scratch my head and quickly evaluate my reasoning for saying that. “I mean, it’s so awesome that you’ve gone back to having so many acting jobs. You totally deserve it. But I just... I honestly really hope that it doesn’t get to a point where this,” I gesture between us, at the fact that the only thing separating us is a plastic table, “and things like rock band and geek prom just can’t happen anymore.”

Wil looks a little saddened by this. “I hope so, too,” he says, and I know he means it.

I thank him one last time, he thanks me one last time. I wave goodbye, and walk away, feeling on top of the world.

The first thing I remember thinking (besides “Holy crap did that really happen?!”) was that it seemed the feeling of doom I had experienced that morning had nothing to do with this specific thing! My tower of awesome was still awesome, and in fact had a couple more floors added to its height. I called Cory to tell him holy fricken crap I signed something for Wil Fucking Wheaton, and then I met up with Tanya. We took a walk, searching for a specific ATM for her to use (silly credit unions), and we ended up going to the Hard Rock Cafe for drinks and an appetizer, mainly because I’ve never been to one and always have wanted to. While eating an incredibly expensive order of potato skins, I looked at the one clear phone picture I had of my drawing, and realized just how lousy of quality it is, and that nagging self-doubt began tugging on my brain like a hand on a sleeve. I tried my best to ignore it.

The two of us compared notes on the convention over a wallet-busting order of potato skins, Tanya showing me what she'd had Felicia Day sign for her earlier - a print that one of her friends had drawn depicting geek prom. I looked at the print. It’s pretty awesome - stylized, full of energy of the evening, with caricatures of Wil, Felicia, John, and various other geeks in costumes, all dancing to music. It was intricate, it was complete, it was compositionally sound and artfully crafted.... it.... it was really, really good.

Suddenly, my picture didn’t feel so great. Suddenly, I wondered how many drawings and things he gets from people at conventions, especially from people who are actually accomplished artists in their fields, like Tanya’s friend, who had a booth in the exhibit hall.

Voice of Self-Doubt saw its golden opportunity - it lept from under the table and latched onto me like a terrible leech, well-rested from days of relative inactivity and thirsty for my self-esteem.

He’s going to throw it out, you know, it said. He didn’t REALLY like it, he was just being nice. It’s either going to get thrown out, or end up in a box in his garage. An original concept like Radio Free Burrito sour cream is one thing, but he must get a ton of artwork at every convention. And he goes to a LOT of conventions. You’re not special. And now you’re out of a really awesome drawing, all because you were thinking about someone other than yourself. That’s your loss. Dude, you could’ve put that in your Calarts portfolio, for fuck’s sake, if you even have the balls to apply. Not like you’ll get in there! God, you’re such a loser!

Look, brain, I bit back while drinking back a long sip of my Hurricane. Would you shut up before I stab you with my car key?

An idea struck me, and I suggested to Tanya that maybe we should both go back and see Wil. Then, she would be able to get her print signed by him, too, and then I could see if I could get a photo of that picture. That way, if he were to throw it out, I would at least have a good record of its existence. Tanya agreed. After paying and receiving our complimentary (and by complimentary, I mean we paid extra for it) Hard Rock Cafe glasses, she ran off to find the elusive ATM-that-doesn’t-charge-fees and I hurried back to the convention center, a little buzzed from my drink, but excited and hopeful.

This was where my luck finally gave out. Wil’s line had not only made its way out the door, but it’d been capped, since he still had photobooth pictures to do and a panel coming up. I was crestfallen. Here had been a chance to get a photo of that picture, and now it was gone... I turned to leave, trying not to think about it too much, and after calling Tanya to tell her what happened, I headed out to grab a seat for his last panel, Super Happy Funtime with John (Scalzi) and Wil.

The panel before them was Stan Fricken Lee. And here is what’s awesome -- at SDCC, you would’ve had to wait 3 hours - no, probably longer - to go see Stan Lee, and even then, you’d probably be in a terrible seat halfway down a ballroom bigger than the Phoenix Comicon exhibit hall. Yet here, I arrived late, and was still able to stand off to the side and watch. It was really awesome - he was so much cooler than I ever would have expected. (Confession: I’m a DC girl). When he left, I was able to grab a seat in the very front row again. I was astonished, and decided at that moment that PhxCC trumps SDCC in this respect.

I waited an hour or more for the show to start, kinda getting the cold-shoulder by the photographers beside me, who believed I was not a REAL Wil Wheaton fan since I don’t watch Star Trek, whereas they’d been crushing on him since the late 80's. (Their malice was all in good humor, though, if that makes any sense).

The last panel was amazing, and hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried. Both of them were so funny, and what they introduced to the world? Oh my god... I don’t even want to go into it, but let’s just say, it’s a contest, and I’m going to try to win it.

As the panel ended, and the curtains close on Wil and John, my heart is struck by a terrible, horrible realization. It hit like a gong, reverberating cold through my whole body.

This... I think, will be the last time I will see Wil Wheaton for a least a year, if not longer. That means.... the con's ending.'s over. It's actually over....

My walk from the ballroon to the sidewalk in front of the convention center was long, my head bowed and my feet dragging the whole way. I stood in the shadow of the building, looking around. I knew I had awhile to wait before we could leave, since Tanya had entered some raffles and I was her ride back home. I grab a seat at an empty table, and just sat there, numb, just thinking about it all. I wanted to feel happy about all the amazing experiences I’d had... I wanted to feel happy about the fact that not only did I get to meet one of my idols, but got to spend so much time near and around him. I wanted to feel happy about how I had finally been able to go to a real small-time convention, had made a couple of friends, and had purchased myself some pretty awesome things. I wanted to be happy about the memories I would have forever.

But any joy I tried to summon was crushed by a rising tide of intense, overpowering sorrow. It grew in waves, rising until one final surge capsized and sunk my heart, bringing a terrible burning feeling to my eyes.

I realized that, for possibly the first time in my life, or at least for the first time in a number of years, I had been truly and completely happy. I’d felt free, I’d felt like myself. The self-consciousness, the self-doubt, the regret and sorrow I’d been dealing with for so long had been perfectly silenced. I didn’t have to actually prove anything to anyone here, not even to Wil. I didn’t have to strive to be normal, didn’t have to check my nerdish impulses for fear of rejection - in fact, quite the opposite, I was encouraged to let them free, and they were accepted. I had laughed so much that I had risked damaging my diaphragm, and had done so many things that I ordinarily would never have done, because for once I had found confidence and courage. Here, I felt like I mattered, that what I enjoy mattered. I felt at home.

I suddenly knew what it meant for me for the con to be over... it meant losing that feeling of peace and liberation. It meant going back to Tucson, to a family who refuses to understand or accept my geeky tendencies, to the crushing reality of unemployment. Back to the depression and the anxiety, the crushing feelings of constant self-doubt and worthlessness that has kept me prisoner for at least 4 years. Back to the bad luck, to never being noticed, to never being appreciated or understood. Back to agonizing over my future and my lack of progress during my time in college. Back to life as I knew it, and life as I hated it.

The whole realization was heartbreaking. I felt like a lost child that had finally found her family, only to lose them again. I sat at that table outside the convention center, watching people walk by, a burbling river speckled with the colors of costumes, everyone heading back to their cars, to their homes, to their real worlds.

I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to leave this place behind. I didn’t want to deal with the pain and depression I knew would be waiting for me when I got home.

And so, I cried. I rested my arms on the table, dropped my head into them, and let the tears fall- silently, so as not to draw attention to them.

I knew I'd had an amazing time. I knew these were all memories I would cherish forever. But all I could think about at that time was what was waiting for me at the end of the freeway, and beyond.

And I didn’t even have my favorite drawing to remember the best part of my weekend by, because Wil had it...

After the long drive back to Tucson, after dropping Tanya off at her house, I parked in front of my house, tears still threatening. I stepped into my house and set down my bags of loot. My little brother greeted me with excitement, wanting to know how it was. My older brother barely nodded at me, absorbed in his food and television. I walked into the kitchen, where my mom immediately asked me how much money I’d thrown away on the stupid Totoro plushy.

Back to the real world....



My mom screamed at us when my little brother Donald and I arrived late to his first day of summer school. She had left work to meet us at his new school, and when we pulled up three minutes after nine, the fury in her face as she ripped the door open would have had Medusa frozen in terror. She screamed at me for letting Donald ride shotgun when he’s not 12 yet, and further lost it when discovering that Donald had forgotten his backpack. She tore him from the car and threw the door closed with such force I was afraid the window would shatter. Tears formed in my eyes as I drove away, my professional clothing making me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious as I drove towards a nearby hotel, where open interviews for a new location of In-N-Out were going on.

Practically a college graduate, and I’m living with my mother and striving to work fast food... and expecting not to get hired... wonderful....

The line of patty-flipping hopefuls snaked out the door, around the corner and halfway down the long-half of the Marriott building. I gaped at the line. There had to have been 250 people there, probably more. Without barely a second thought, I turned around and drove away. I decided it wasn’t worth it at this point -- I was not in the best mindset to face an interview, and I didn’t want to wait in the already bristling Arizona heat for two hours. The opportunity to pull the whole “I got here early can’t you see I’m perfect for your job?” routine had been missed, anyway, and they were holding interviews all day on both Tuesday and Wednesday... I just couldn’t handle it then... and why would they pick me out of the other thousands of people who were applying...?

The drive home was intensely empty. I listened to terrible radio. I kept tearing up thinking about how angry my mother had gotten. I heard my phone make its email notification sound, but I ignored it. I just felt terrible, like I always do.

I pulled into the driveway of my mother’s house and stopped the car, grabbing my phone from its place in the door and stepping out. I fumbled with my keys as I approached my front door, locking my car from a distance with its remote and then fought to identify and isolate the key to the front door. As I did, I absentmindedly checked my phone. Oh yeah, new mail notification, I thought to myself. I unlocked the screen, and asked my phone with a wave and poke of my finger to open up my Google mail inbox.

And saw something I never expected to see.

“Wil, me (2) -- PhxCC Rockband Sketch.”

The number two in parentheses... did that mean...?

He responded??

Famous people like Felicia Day might respond to one really good tweet.... but famous people never answered emails, did they??

I threw the door open and ran into the house, opening up the email on my phone.

“Wil Wheaton dot me, to me

Hi Megan!

I’ll scan your picture for you, and email you a copy.

Thanks again for everything, and thanks for listening to RFB!



‘Don’t Be a Dick!’”

After the initial and paralyzing flood of disbelief, the first thing I did was go onto Twitter, and tell the world (well, okay, a small section of the world, which now included 15 new followers thanks to Felicia Day) about how awesome @wilw was.

I dunno when he’ll get around to scanning it, but the reassurance that I would be getting a copy of that picture completed Comicon for me. It was a very well-timed reminder of how amazing the last weekend had been.

Oh, the video of us playing Living on a Prayer together that he embedded on his blog later that day wasn’t bad either... there were even some comments that I, specifically, was pretty awesome, which of course isn't a bad ego boost...

And there’s still the fact that he has to thank me on his next Radio Free Burrito episode for the sour cream.

All-in-all, I have to say Phoenix Comicon was probably one of the best weekends in my life -- ever.

I can't wait for next year.