Seriously, I live in a mansion now! (…with 8 other people…)

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Since I’ve managed to yet again let an entire month slip by without a single blog post, I figure it’s about time I update you all on what’s been going on in my life lately…

First off, yes, I’m still alive. Yay!

Job situation: March: I attempted something that didn’t work out, and it ended with a serious of intense panic attacks that had as much to do with work as it did with my…

Living situation: March: Staying in the guest room of an aunt and uncle who hadn’t expected a long-term guest when they say I could stay with them “anytime”. Desperately searching for a tolerable situation I can afford, because I’m getting kicked out at the end of the month.

Then came April. Or more accurately, the end of March into April.

Mum put out the call on her Facebook, to rally people into helping me find a place to live. An old friend of my brother’s from our hometown, who happened to be living in Seattle too, puts me in touch with a woman he’s been sleeping with because she’s good people too and happens to be in a similar situation of needing to find people to live with by the end of the month. She and I hit it off. I meet her current roommates and other potential future roommates, and I get my first tour of the Mansion, the place we’re all hoping we can move to.

Built in 1919, three stories including the fully finished basement, pretty well maintained, with picture window views of the sound and the Olympic mountains. There’s a sun room and a window seat and wood panels and inlay wood patterns on the floor and old light fixtures and a dutch door to the porch off the kitchen and a telescope that comes with the house and a huge yard and a huge laundry room and basically it’s most of my childhood ideas of a dream home come to life. It also happens to be in a really nice neighborhood, with a park and a library in walking distance. The only way we can afford to live here is to fill at least most of the ten bedrooms.

Eight of us sign the year-long lease, and move in. Only four of the eight knew each other and had lived with each other prior to the week before we signed. It was a total leap of faith based on gut reaction and hope and a little desperation. The adventure begins…

Meanwhile, I’ve basically quit the job that was triggering panic attacks, and am living off my savings. To justify this, I’ve also accepted an offer to return to the Montana ranch for the summer. I’ll be gone from the end of May into “sometime in October”. I’ve also managed to somehow end up with a regularly reoccurring gig helping a woman clean out her apartment, and even more recently cover for the housekeeper of an AirBnB studio/guest room while she takes off to support her daughter giving birth to a new grandkid. Oh, and I’ve started working on my novel again (hence my accidentally-on-purpose writing mostly in present tense, since my novel is present tense first person.), after not being able to write for two months due to stress and panic. Plus I’m working out almost every day, and working on changing my diet to something healthier than the stress and panic eating I’d been doing.

So basically, my life has done a 180, and I’m pushing myself to maintain this positive momentum right into heading to Montana for work this summer. It’s kind of exhausting, but much more satisfying than the exhaustion of everything falling apart like it was before. I still don’t know what I’m doing with myself in the long term, but I have all summer to figure it out. And I have a place to call home when I come back from the summer job, and people to support me in all forms. I’ll (probably) be okay. And hey, even if I can’t figure out a long-term picture for myself again (and seriously, how often do those really work out for me anyway?), I’m not doing too bad with just focusing on week-to-week and day-to-day; I’m getting a novel written, I’m reading a lot, I’m contributing to a household, I’m building a work reputation and connections, I’m creating a healthy lifestyle with working out and eating, I’m taking daily walks, I have social time with housemates, I’m a ten minute drive away from one of my best friends… That’s kind of a lot of good stuff happening for someone who has no idea what they’ll be doing in six months or a year.

Wish me luck, my friends. And since it’s not midnight yet as I’m writing this… May the fourth be with you! ^_~

Love,

G.G.

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Talking about: @shipitmovie and fandom.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today I want to talk about a script I just read. Let’s back up just a bit first before I get into it, though.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll have seen posts about various fandoms, how canon treats fan ships, queerness, sexuality and gender, etc. I’ve even talked about how fanfic is so very important, and why. I might not always be the most eloquent on a subject, but it’s probably pretty clear that these things are important to me, that I’m passionate about them, and that I like to gently educate and explain them to others.

I haven’t been doing that lately, though. Lately, I’ve either not been blogging at all, or I’ve been blogging about my travels — which, fair enough, that’s what I started this blog for in the first place. Hence the name, and all. Blogging about my travels is fun, and it’s a good way to share parts of my non-cyber life with everyone, but I’m realizing how much I miss the other kinds of blogging I do. I miss geeking out about stuff that excites me, and I miss talking through a subject to myself in an attempt to make it accessible and interesting and informative to all of you. I’m going to try to do that kind of blogging more often; we’ll see if that actually happens.

It’s going to happen today at least, though. Like I say, I just read this script that I want to talk about to everyone. It’s called Ship It, and it’s written by an amazing person called Britta Lundin, a filmmaker and writer based in L.A. I’ve been following Britta on Twitter for a while now, not knowing any of this.

I followed Britta at first because I was following anyone who had interesting or feelsy things to say about Destiel and the Destiel corner of the Supernatural fandom. I’ve mentioned the Destiel fandom before on my blog; it’s the shipping of Dean and Cas, and it’s what made me start watching Supernatural in the first place. I heard and found so much that was so compelling about it online, that it made me curious about the canon (the actual show).

Even before that, back in the days of angsty teenhood with dial-up internet in Backwoods, North Idaho, I was emotionally invested in fanfic and shipping. At that time it mostly revolved around Harry Potter fics, from what I can remember. Oh, and Lord of the Rings, whose corners of fandom were my first real interactions and friendships with other fans. There were a few others, but that’s what I remember most: going through pages and pages of HP on fanfic sites, even writing some myself, and late night chat rooms with LotR fans who shared their fics with me.

I’d stopping being around fandom for years since then, but then I had a conversation with my cousin about Supernatural (she was watching it, and telling me about it), and then I started looking it up, and I found rediscovering the wonderful things that exist down that particular internet rabbit hole. Not just Supernatural, either, of course. There’s numerous fandoms and ships out there, something for everyone, and it’s that the point? The magic of fandom is that we don’t have to stick to canon; we can create new things that speak to us using an already establish language, if you will. We all know the origin, so we can take each other on journeys into unexplored territories or deeper into familiar ground. But I digress, and I’ve also talked about all this before.

The point is, it was the fandom and a slash ship that seemingly only exists in canon as queerbaiting that got me to start watching a show. It doesn’t really matter what show that was, because it’s a formula that’s repeated over and over on TV right now, and has been for years.

See, this whole queerbaiting-the-fandom-to-create-interest-without-committing-to-queerness thing is just plain wrong. Yes, it does get people to watch and keep watching the show. But then they stop watching it after a while. They get sick of being yanked around by the creators, actors, or show itself. They get sick of being bullied by the other kind of fans, the mean and entitled ones. They find shows with real actual representation instead, which is what they were looking for in the first place. But they keep the friendships, in the end. They keep the parts they love, which are usually all fandom-based, and ditch the bits that just hurt them over and over, which is usual the canon (and the fans who are actually bullies more than fans).

Enter this script I keep mentioned, for a movie trying to get made, called Ship It.

Ship It is about a teenage girl from a small town, a huge fan of a first-season CW show and a fanfic slash writer. She doesn’t have friends because she doesn’t have common ground or interests with the other more “typical” kids around. But online, she’s hugely popular because she writes really good fic. Raise your hand if you can already relate to her… *raises my own hand*.

She goes to a convention for her favorite show, and as the last person to ask a question, she asks the one all slash-shippers want to know the answer to: will the two super-hot leads with explosive on-screen chemistry and compelling story arcs finally kiss already? The answer gets badly fumbled, which instantly leads to bad PR online because, well, online fandom is everything these days. This is a first-season show, after all, and they’re trying to get renewed. They can’t afford their fandom’s wrath or scorn.

This leads to her getting invited along the rest of the con tour to help with their online PR, despite the fact that the show creator doesn’t want her there and one of the lead actors is dismissive of both her and the rest of the fan base. Events transpire from there, including a budding relationship for our heroine with another fan and fanartist of the show.

What unfolds is a relatively simple plot with a deeply resonant and compelling emotional journey for not only our heroine, but also the resistant lead actor. It’s a tale of self-discovery with gentle and not-so-gentle help from others. It touches on a lot of issues, both lightly and more in-depth, with the care and understanding of someone who is actually part of that world and who gets it, because of course, that’s exactly what’s happening. It’s truly a movie about fandom, by someone actually in fandom, and it’s a movie for everyone, not just fans. It’s about people.

Because that’s what fandom is: it’s people. People who are passionate, people who are creative, people who share common loves and dreams and hopes and joys. People who are inspired by something, and who inspire others in return. It’s a vast and wondrous thing, when we let it. It can also be vicious and mean and awful, because people can be like that sometimes, when we get focused on the bad, on the fears, on the power-trips. But the differences and the common ground can both be cause for growth. It can inspire us to be better, do better, act better. It can teach us compassion, and can open our minds to the realities of other people. It can spark a creative spirit onto new and exciting heights. It can imagine a way to make the world better.

And yes, I may have gotten a little off-topic there, but that’s kind of my point. There’s so much potential in every form of media we consume, that there’s no way all of it can be explored by one person or even a team of people. When something we create gets shared with the world, it becomes exponentially bigger, with each possible path being explored leading to another maze of paths and even more potential. The explosive creative energy fandom generates is because people are all storytellers in our own ways, and we latch on to the things we feel passionate about.

Ship It makes me feel passionate. It does because I hear it speaking to me when I read it. It’s a story that badly needs to be out there, to get hear, to inspire others. It’s a story of what might be possible, in some way, some how. It’s a story of the hope in many fans’ hearts, that someday, someone with the power to make a difference will actually listen to us as we explain over and over how to do it better. It’s a story of fan’s journey, and an actor’s journey, but really it’s the story of fandom itself, as it evolves into the amazing and beautiful creative thing I love so much. It’s a personal story, speaking straight to each and every one of us.

Oh, and there’s lots of slash. And non-binary representation, which, if you know me at all, you know I fucking adore that.

If you want to know more about the awesomeness that is Ship It, check out and follow @shipitmovie and shipitmovie.tumblr.com. If you write to Britta (email on tumblr), you can even get to read the script yourself! And please make sure to spread the word about this hopefully-soon-to-be-made film; Britta is trying to make sure finances know just how much interest there is out there about this project, and I’m betting there’s a lot of us who’d love to see and support it.

Much love, and stay creative!

GeGi.

On The Road Again…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’m writing this from a cafe several towns away from the Montana ranch. My season there has ended, and I spent Easter packing the last of my things into my VERY full car, and taking a scenic highway route that added about two hours (compared to the freeway route) to the first leg of my month-long trip. The extra time and mileage was worth it; it was beautiful, for one thing, and for another it gave me time to really put some mental space between me and work.

Since I last wrote here, some interesting things happened at work. It happened one morning when I walking into the housekeeping building, and discovered the two co-workers who had been scheduled to open were not there, with no sign that they had ever been there since I’d left the night before. I called the boss, who sent me to wake them up. When I checked their rooms, it was obvious they had both packed up and taken off in the middle of the night, leaving us short-staffed by half our crew. Oh, and this was the weekend our VIPs (the owners of the ranch and a bunch of their friends, plus a few others) were showing up.

After some mad scrambling and last-minute rescheduling, we actually pulled off a very successful weekend for our veeps (fortunately they were really low-key and low maintenance). By the time the dust settled, the three of us who were left (me, the boss, and the boss’s assistant manager) realized that pretty much all the tension and drama we’d been experiencing all season had gone with the two who ran off. Ditto for the tension, drama, and dirty dishes back at the shared housing.

Needless to say, the season ended strong. We all felt more relaxed and mellow, and had a lot more fun. We finished our Deep Cleans of the cabins with a day to spare, while working about four hour days. My end-of-season review with the boss was the best I’ve ever received from anyone — to the point where I’m actually considering returning next winter. And my remaining co-worker and I were getting along so well by the end of it we even went out for lunch together on our last day!

Now my road trip begins; first stop is visiting the family I stayed with on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and hanging out with one of my internet friends. Next, if it works out (I need to make a call and find out if I have a place to spend the night), I’ll be visiting my old hometown in Idaho, which I haven’t seen in seven or eight years. Then on to Tacoma to stay with an Aunt and Uncle, and more visiting of friends (a common theme of this trip). After a short week there, I’ll head south to Portland (another friend), then Grant’s Pass (my brother, who I haven’t seen since we left our old hometown). After that, there’s just a few more confirmed stops (an old friend in Utah, another in Colorado, the one in Texas), which I’ve mentioned in a previous post. It’s going to epic.

I’ll try to post at least semi-regularly throughout my trip. My new replacement laptop/tablet should help with that — it’s smallish, easy to use, has a great battery life, and connects with my phone. And of course I’ll be on Twitter most days, too, at least a little bit. If nothing else, writing a blog post gives me a great excuse to hang out at local cafes for hours, which is totally one of my favorite things to do in a new town!

I’m also going to try and write more on my sci-fi novel. I’ve been taking a break from it, because my old laptop had a bit of an accident which shorted out the keyboard (hence the new replacement), and using an on-screen keyboard when it isn’t a touchscreen is a MAJOR pain and very time-consuming. Obviously, I could have kept writing with pen-and-paper, but my writing style — my “voice” — changes with different mediums, and I wanted to maintain consistence. A forced break can be good, though; I’ll be seeing the plot and characters with fresh eyes and a replenished well of ideas.

Adventures await…

Stay safe out there, friends, and happy travels on your journeys — even if it’s only your journey through Life.

Love,

GeGi.

 

The Tattoo.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I have this tattoo. I have several, actually, but there’s this one in particular.

before

It was my second time going in to get tattooed. The first time, I had finished designs ready. The second time, I had what apparently looked like a finished design. It was a rough draft actually, but I went to the same artist as before, and he assumed it was finished like the others, and I was too shy and scared and intimidated by, basically, the world, and not in a good head-space for sticking up for myself at the time due to lots of screwed up things that had been happening in my life, and basically, well, I got the tattoo anyway, even though it wasn’t right.

Of course, this not-quite-right tattoo is the one everyone sees all the time; out of five tattoos, this one is the biggest and in the most visible location. People always comment on it, and every time they do, and every time I see it out of the corner of my eye or in the mirror, I’m reminded of that time, and how it isn’t what I wanted, and how I didn’t speak up about something so permanent and important. It’s a reminder of who I never want to be again.

In one week exactly, that tattoo is getting modified and expanded into something I do want. I’ve spent about five years (give or take a year) waiting for this moment — that’s how long it’s been since I got it in the first place, if I’m remembering correctly. I’ve spent all that time thinking about exactly what it was I wanted in the first place, and what I want now, and finding images and writing plans over and over so that I can get exactly the right thing this time.

Today I stopped by the tattoo shop with the best reviews, and talked to an artist there. We talked over the ideas I had, he sketched a few things out and took notes and pictures, and we kept discussing it until we both felt sure we were talking about the same thing and both getting excited about the concept. He has a week to design something beautiful, and will send me pictures to approve before my appointment.

That is the experience I should have had five (or so) years ago. That is the experience I wasn’t capable of having five years ago. The fact that I can do it now — even, especially, when I’ve been feeling depressed and anxious and lost and burnt out — proves how much I can and HAVE changed and grown. Even when I feel like I’ve gone backwards in my growth and stability, I’ve proved it’s not as far back as I think.

This new version of the tattoo will be a reminder of this lesson, a constant beautiful image that strength and growth can’t be taken away, even by ourselves. It will be a reminder that something amazing can come out of something unfortunate. It will be a reminder that mistakes don’t have to be forever, and they don’t have to define us.

Stay strong, even when it doesn’t feel like strength. Some day, it will.

Love,

GeGi.

A Rather Long Post About Being A Fan.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’ve talked a little before at about fandom, and in particular about the way a fandom can either become a very bullying or very supportive place. If you’ve been following my Twitter account the last couple days, you probably won’t be surprised I’m going to talk about fandom again right now. Everything I’m going to say is from a personal point of view; I don’t pretend I’m speaking for anyone but myself, and I certainly can’t comment about anyone else’s experiences, goals, desires, dislikes, etc.

Okay, disclaimer over, now for the backstory. I’ve never really been a “group” sort of person. Even among close friends, I tend to keep to the edges, watching and listening more than talking and participating. I generally go with the flow, and tend to form strong opinions only after much thought and comparison to other opinions, and only once they seem to make sense. I’m certainly not very vocally, and when I am, I try to be pretty fair and balanced about it. Even on my own personal soap box of this blog, I still try to use positive language to try and educate rather than alienate. When interacting with other people, I look at things from as many sides as possible and keep my observations to myself except for a few occasional pointed comments if I think they are warranted or if I’m particularly passionate about the subject.

Make no mistake, I DO have loyalties and preferences, and in the right environment I’m as susceptible to “fan-flailing” as the next excited and passionate person. But more often than not, I simply don’t want to get dragged into arguments if someone disagrees with me. I have very little patience for that sort of thing, having been constantly exposed to it growing up. Those kinds of things very often have little to do with actually sharing different points of view for mutual education and enlightenment, and more to do with “THIS IS WHY YOU’RE SO WRONG AND SUCK AS A PERSON”, especially when they happen in most places on the internet. I’d much rather have conversations that go more like “YOU ARE AN AWESOME PERSON AND I’M SO GLAD WE GOT TO SHARE THESE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS”.

So usually, my fandom interaction goes something like this: there will be a thing I like, and I’ll see some other people liking that same thing, and they might have different things to say about it, and I’ll listen and go “oh, cool, I totally see that now” or “oh, cool, never thought of that before” and I may or may not actually agree with those things, but it doesn’t matter because we’re all enjoying this things and learning from each other and sharing our passions. I love that kind of stuff. And if I really like you, I might even start ranting about cinematography or something!

And then sometimes someone will come along and tell all the people sharing and liking this one thing why that thing is a X Y or Z bad thing, and it will escalate back and forth, and sometimes the cool people rally, and something the not-cool people will make death threats, and it’s all just very unpleasant and nasty and often enabled by a lot of the cultural problems we’re dealing with more and more these days. I’ve talked about some of those problems before on the blog. Check the archives.

Anyway.

In fandom, these two scenarios are pretty frequently played out. However, I’m relatively new to being active enough to observe it happening in the moment. I’ve been a fan of various things all my life, but due to the aforementioned “sticking to the edges”, I never really interacted with other fans all that much. I might read articles, but would skip the discussion boards and comment sections due to all the arguing and insulting and hating and bullying it often seemed to degrade into. I’d rather just enjoy the thing I loved on my own and keep all the excitement and theories to myself, rather than risk being attacked online. I had enough going on my life already, and made the choice not to add more stress.

That all started to change a year or two ago, with the oh-so-excellent Snark Squad, who run a website with one of the most polite, intelligent, respectful comments sections I’ve ever heard of. To be sure, they’re had their difficulties with hate and threats and insults and bullies too, but the Snark Ladies are some truly classy women, and they — with the help of the regulars — would always address the problems and bring the discussion back from the explosive potential.

I finally had a place where I could venture out of my shell and leave comments, without the fear of attack from all sides. It was a revelation. I created a Twitter account solely to be able to interact more with these incredibly awesome people. I started a blog because they had shown me how meaningful someone can make their own little corner of the internet, and how supportive an online community can be. They inspired me, and helped me feel safe putting myself out there. Even if I was attacked or threatened, I knew they would have my back.

I’ve branched out a bit since then; the last few days on Twitter, as I mentioned, have been full of fandom posts for a particular ‘shipper corner of the internet connected to the TV show Supernatural. Actually, my semi-involvement with them has been going on a bit longer. It started with the earlier blog post here (linked above in the intro to this post), when I talked about how divided and hurt the fandom was, and how irresponsible some of the actors had been about the issues causing it.

Things flared up again more recently when an online journalist was falsely flagged as a security threat and escorted from the convention she was reporting at, all without any investigation into the matter. Turns out, a bully with an agenda and a friendship with the actors’ bodyguard had sent an out-of-context screencap of the journalist tweeting a quote from a different show. Some “threat”, huh?

Some fans rallied to her defense, and others continued to attack. Look for the hashtags #IStandWithEmily and #EmilyDeservesAnswers for those who support her. The matter still hasn’t been fully settled; the convention apologized and refunded her, but their hands had been tied anyway during the whole thing. The show, the network, the stars and the bodyguard involved all still have yet to address the incident, apart from some vicious tweets from the bodyguard immediately after that he’s since erased.

To add insult to injury, the same journalist had been organizing and fundraising commemorative mugs and gift baskets for the cast and crew, to celebrate their tenth season and 200th episode (aired earlier this week).

The 200th episode itself was another touchy subject. Supernatural seems to have no qualms about meta commentary and breaking the fourth wall on occasion, and has multiple entire episodes pretty much centered around doing just that. The results are…mixed, to put it diplomatically. Reception among the fans depends greatly on who you talk to.

It’s not surprising; the show has a history of not understanding fandom, of not handling PR well, and of inadvertently condoning or deliberately ignoring bullying behavior of some of the fans towards many others. Of course they’re going to be a little “off” when it comes to trying to break the fourth wall on the show and have meta commentary on something they don’t actually seem to understand all that well. They give us broad strokes, and the reality is very nuanced. It’s an obvious and understandable mistake, but one they could have handled much better in the past if they’d not been so blind to their own privileges and the damage they were causing.

It’s understandable that fans who have had a painful experience at the hands of the people in charge of a thing they love, and at the hands of other people proclaiming to love that thing, might be a bit wary, a little mistrustful, and just too tired to keep hoping and fighting for what they love. It’s understandable they might not feel safe in the general fandom. It’s understandable they might decide they need a break, or some reassurance from people like them, before they risk exposing themselves again.

If the thing you love has been a cause of pain, betrayal, attacks, threats, and all manner of not feeling welcome or safe, and if the people perpetuating that behavior feel vindicated doing so due to comments made by the people who are ACTUALLY in charge of that thing, then yes, taking a break or even leaving it forever are totally legit options. That’s kind of obvious.

I’m new to this fandom, and while I do already have some pretty strong loyalties, I haven’t been on the front lines of this fight. I haven’t been attacked for years, as some have. I haven’t had to go through the roller-coaster of hints and hopes and disappointment. I went into this thing pretty late in the run, and I was pretty heavily aware of exactly what to expect from it. I went in, but I did it with my eyes open and my guard up. The fans I’ve paid attention to are fabulous people. I avoid the ones who aren’t adding to my experience of the show, the ones who are attacking those things I feel loyalty towards, the ones who are bullies. It’s a survival method. I get to bask in the good stuff, while aware enough of the bad to try and avoid stepping in it. I stick to the edges still, but now there’s some interaction going on, too.

Back to the 200th episode. It was promoted as a “love letter to the fans”, which made some of those fans very nervous. Not only is the fandom heavily divided and antagonistic with a history of bullying, but the show itself has a track record during some of those meta episodes AND in the real world of belittling and insulting many of the very fans who’ve supported it and kept it on the air for those ten years. There was a very strong and skeptical “wait and see” vibe on my Twitter feed.

Then people started live-tweeting as they watched the episode.

Reports trickled in that sounded more hopeful, and then some started doing that “fan-flailing” sort of excited all-caps tweets that are probably about half the reason I love being around fandoms. The show had actually given the fans something they could enjoy, to various degrees. Not everyone loved it, of course, and like everything in life it could have been even better. Yes, all those other issues still existed. Yes, there is still all the baggage and bullying to contend with. But the 200th was far better than a lot of us had feared, and it gave those who analyze the meta a lot of new material to work with (which is probably another quarter of the reason I love fandom — meta analysis is addictive when you’re already an over-thinking geek who loves mythos and the process and ideas behind storytelling).

I’m not holding my breath for things to get any better in the fandom or the show. Despite what all my positivity may suggest, I’m much more pragmatic than optimistic. But because I stick to the edges, because I went in with my eyes open and never had to have the painful process of disappointment and attacks, I can set all the politics and social issues and bigger picture to one side for a moment, and just enjoy the ride of the 200th as a stand-alone, isolating it for the moment from this history attached to it and enjoying it at face-value only. From that point of view, it was a pretty fantastic episode; full of giggles and nods and surprisingly insightful yet utterly ridiculous songs. There were plenty of things to flail over, even if they turn out not to be as meaningful in that bigger picture in the future. For one hour, I could just enjoy being a fangirl.

The episode is called Fan Fiction, and I think what I want to take away from it as the moral of the story is this: the story belongs to anyone who loves it enough to care about it, to anyone with the passion to fight for it and believe in it, even if the story they’re focused on is slightly (or very) different than someone else’s. It’s not about what’s “canon” and what isn’t. It’s about the heart of storytelling — drawing people together, taking them into someone else’s life and bringing them on a journey, letting them experience emotions and situations they wouldn’t otherwise, and leave them feeling a little more connected to the people around them afterwards. Fanfic or canon doesn’t matter; at this level, all good storytelling becomes equal. It’s the story that’s valid, not the origins. And good storytellers are valuable, whatever they’re credentials, because they’re how stories stay alive and relevant and able to grow.

In that respect, I’d say the little corner of fandom I’ve been on the edges of is doing things exactly right. Storytelling and fiction exist to be shared. Studies show that people who are exposed to fiction develop more empathy for others, because it helps them understand who are different than them, people whose lives look nothing like their own but whose emotions and struggles are just as real. Clearly it isn’t a magic cure, or else no one in a fandom would be bullying anyone else, but it’s a good starting place. The friendships and support that can come out of shared storytelling and fandom can last a lifetime, and are the foundation of a functioning society of any size. We need empathy to survive as a people, and we certainly need it to thrive and grow ourselves.

Be kind to each other, and read more. Both acts are good for you.

Love,
GeGi.

Read Your Book Case

Nachos!

Dear Cyber-Friends,

The other night, I made my parents nachos for dinner. My dad was so impressed that he requested we have them once a week from now on.

Luckily, I took pictures of the whole process, which means that not only can I recreate that tasty goodness, I can also share them with you. It was super easy, fast, delicious, and filling! That’s a great combo for a perfect dinner, or even a big lunch.

Here’s my ingredients:

Image

  • Tortilla Chips
  • Cheese
  • Homemade, Homegrown Sausage
  • Onions
  • Green Onions
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Diced Green Chili Peppers
  • Salsa Verde
  • Garlic Powder (not pictured)
  • Cumin Powder (not pictured)

I had re-fried beans out, but decided not to use them. That turned out to be a good call, because we barely finished what I did make. However, if for some reason you decide not to use meat, then the beans will help make it a full meal.

Now, break out a big pizza pan and preheat the oven for 350 (Fahrenheit).

Grate the cheese, chop the veggies, and get a skillet going to cook the sausage and onions. While you wait for the meat to cook, spread the first layer of chips on the pan.

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Once the onions and sausage are cooked, season them with the garlic and cumin, and add the diced green peppers. Mix it all together, and then add the bell peppers and the green onions just long enough to them to get heated through.

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The key here is to have all the indigents that aren’t chips, cheese, or green sauce already hot, BEFORE melting the cheese in the oven. This helps your nachos to be evenly hot all the way through, with the bonus of the cheese melting faster.

Now start layering: meat-and-veg over the chips, then cheese and green sauce, then more chips, etc.

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I did two layers of each. Try and keep the layers even to the edges of the pan. It’ll heat unevenly if there’s a mound in the middle, plus it’s just nice to have a little bit of the goodies on every chip!

Now put the whole thing in the oven. I didn’t time it, just kept an eye on the meltiness of the cheese. I’d say at least 10-15 minutes, maybe longer.

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When all the cheese looks melted and is starting to get crispy where it dripped on the pan, it’s time to take it out!

Remember, since all the meat and veg was cooked already, you don’t have to worry about checking the temperature or making sure the middle is hot.

Yay for short-cuts in cooking!

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So tasty! And messy! And filling! And delicious! And easy!

(I get excited about yummy food, but with good reason — food is awesome.)

I used two spatulas (one on bottom, one on top) to transfer a third of this to each dinner plate. It worked quite well, actually, which surprised me.

Definitely a successful dinner!

Love,

GeGi.

P.S. Leave a comment and tell me: what are some of your favorite combinations for nacho toppings?

Pass The Tissues, Please…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Third Star is one of the most beautiful movies about death and friendship and life I’ve ever seen. The Welsh film is directed by Hattie Dalton and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Burke, J.J. Feild, and Adam Roberson.

The basic story is that four friends are taking one last trip to Barafundle Bay before one of their number — James, played by Benedict Cumberbatch — dies of cancer. He’s just celebrated his 29th birthday, and everyone knows he won’t be around for another.

They take a special cross-country wheeled chair, because he’s too weak to walk the several day journey, and they take his medications and morphine and some special things like a tree one of them grew from seed and wants to plant at the Bay.

The film progresses a little like a road-trip movie — without the car — with montages of travel across the beautiful Pembrokeshire landscape breaking up each segment of events; a fight at a pub, an encounter with a beachcomber, and so on.

The interactions between the characters really play off perfectly as a group of friends who’ve known each other forever; they joke, they fight, they tease, they carry on. Nothing feels forced or overdone, it all seems genuine. I love seeing relationships done right in movies!

The moments of each scene in Third Star really counterpoint each other well, too. As in real life, the tragic parts mix and blend with humor. Life continues in the face of sadness, and there are absurdities happening even when it feels like nothing will ever be funny again. Death and dying bring out the whole gambit of emotions, from anger to sorrow to laughter. So it goes.

I’ve gone through losing my best friend at too early an age. It was under entirely different circumstances, but some things are true no matter what the trappings. I could understand what they were feeling in this film, because I’ve been to a similar place. The most beautiful part of Third Star to me were how they were able to accurately capture that surreal time in life when a loved one is dying and surrounded by friends.

This is a quiet and understated sort of story, which is exactly as it should be. It’s showing intimate things, both death and friendship, and the strain and relation those things have on those experiencing them. This film feels honest. There’s nothing noble about what these people are going through, but there’s nothing ordinary about it either. It’s real and it’s what happens, the good and the bad and the strange.

This story really hit home for me, especially right at the end. Yet I didn’t find it to be sad or depressing. I did cry, quite a bit, but it was good tears. It was kind of… death affirming, I suppose, though that might not be quite what I mean.

You’ll have to watch it to find out.

(And yes, the title is a Peter Pan reference.)

Love,

GeGi.