Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dragon*Con 2009

Hey, the internet. It's been a while, I guess - I hadn't been doing anything particularly interesting, but then I went to Dragon*Con in Atlanta, which was my first con, and I thought I might commemorate the occasion by writing way too much about it.

Holy frak, you guys. Epic weekend was epic.

A short list of things I learned at D*Con:

  • The cast of BSG are just as gorgeous and warm as you could hope.
  • It's possible to make EasyMac in a tupperware container with only a hotpot.
  • Don't bother taking workout clothes to con - you walk everywhere anyway and you don't remember to eat, especially when all your food is in a hotel room that's a good 45 minutes away by public transit.
  • Get in line for BSG panels at least an hour and a half ahead of time if you want to be anywhere near the front.
  • Line wank is best avoided by heading to the bar for booze and mockery.
  • Aaron Douglas needs a job.
  • Clothing is a social construct.
  • Finally meeting all my fangirls was incredible.

Thursday afternoon I piled into the car with Erin, Rani, and Jess and we drove the three hours downstate to pick up Becca and then down to Atlanta! It only took about 12.5 hours all told, with stops for bathroom breaks and gas, which was pretty good time. The best thing about driving all night was that there was very little traffic. I found the secret back way around the boring part of Birmingham with no problem (for future reference, on the way back, it's Exit 264, but off Highway 65, not 20/59 - no wonder I couldn't find it). Unfortunately, I got about twenty minutes of catnapping at best in the back of the car - the morning traffic into Atlanta was kind of harrowing.

We got into the city about 5.30 or so and cruised around looking for a parking garage near the Sheraton. By 6.15, we were in line, nibbling on granola bars and sipping our juice boxes. It was a good thing, too: by 7, the line was all the way around the building. And who should wander past but Dasha and Adrienne? "Hey," I thought to myself, "I think I know those people" and then "Holy frak, I DO know those people!" There were many hugs. At 8 they let people in and we got our badges with a minimum of confusion and headed upstairs to wait for the Mary McDonnell panel that was supposed to be about the Adama/Roslin relationship before EJO canceled. It was fine, though, because I had my fangirls. I saw Angie from down the hall and we shrieked and ran toward each other like we were in a field with romantic music playing. So many hugs, you guys. It was a smallish panel, so there was plenty of room. Dasha and Erin and I decided to sit in the third row, which meant that Mary didn't high-five us like she did Rani when she came in with Michael Hogan, but that was all right: her glory filled the room.

Seriously, you guys: whatever good opinion I had of her before, I love her even more now. In addition to being incredibly gorgeous, she was warm and eloquent and sweet and thoughtful and silly. She asked where everyone was from and said she had been afraid that no one would show up, because 10 a.m. was so early and she was across from the Shatner & Nimoy panel. "But you're here!" she said, and threw up her hands in joy. "It's because we love you!" I shouted like the That Kid I am, and she said back, "Awww, I love you guys too." WIN. She called EJO to try to wake him up to talk to us, and she kept getting confused about her phone, and it was adorable. She got his voicemail and had us leave him a message that just said "So Say We All!" I didn't even know that few people could make that much noise.

She and Hogan had amazing bantering chemistry together. She kept playing with her hair and messing with her glasses, and when someone asked a question she couldn't hear because of the noise of the line waiting for the Torchwood panel, she got up and stalked over to the doors and closed them herself all presidential instead of getting her handler to do it. She talked about her favorite line ("I'm coming for all of you!") and reiterated that she thinks Roslin fell in love with Adama in "Resurrection Ship II", which is the only scene she can bear to watch. I got up (nervous and exhausted and shaking) and asked questions about Saul Tigh's perspective on A/R and about Roslin's ideal retribution when it came to Gaius Baltar, and they both had lovely answers, and Mary said she'd think about it even more and get back to us, which was sweet. I was absolutely hypnotized while she was speaking: I couldn't move at all. Her handler started whispering to her from behind the curtain about the time limit and she got up and stuck her head through and said, "But we're having so much fun!" Sadly, we had to leave to make room for the next panel.

Selected favorite quotations from the panel (from memory, not verbatim):

Mary: *coyly* I won't tell you what Laura and Bill did during their private times.

Mary, on a question about whether she has Laura Roslin's "I'm coming for all of you" attitude: Would I do that if someone came after my family? YEAH, I WOULD.

Hogan: Better say something fast if [EJO] picks up the phone. He's likely to say something [suggestive].

Mary: *picks up her water glass and puts it to her ear like a phone* I don't know why I did that!

Mary: I think I broke my phone!

Mary, on a question about the wedding ring dream sequence and the actual ring scene: You know, I think I AM the only character to get married twice after I died. Maybe the only person ever! That was really emotional, because, you know, Eddie would put the ring on my finger, and he'd start crying, and his tears would fall on my hand, and then I'd get all emotional and my eyes would start tearing up and fluttering, and then they'd yell "CUT!" Yeah, we shot that scene a lot of times. (She told this story a couple of times.)

Mary: I want President Obama, because I love him, to announce in the next few days that he has a comprehensive solution to health care reform. (She mentioned health care reform pretty much every panel; I found it kind of precious.)

Hogan: How did I feel about Adama and Roslin? *significant pause* I was happy for the old man.

Mary: I've always been a hair girl. I'm one of those girls where my hair comes into the room and then, a few hours later, I do. I should have been born in Texas.

Hogan: I went to Los Angeles (pronounced "Ann-gel-ease") for my first audition AND I GOT THE JOB! *fistpump*

Mary: *double peace sign of victory*

After that, Jess and Nina and Becca went to the Torchwood panel and Erin and I went to the food court with Aidy and Meryl, but we were kind of too tired to eat. At that point, we'd been awake for about 37 hours. There was a girl cosplaying dressed in an abbreviated collection of leather straps (including a leather thong) who got kicked out while we were there, much to the consternation of the business men. We collected the TW girls and drove to Nina's other hotel to pick up her bags and then out to our hotel in Decatur. Fortunately, Rani was awake enough to drive, and Caprica the GPS unit was very obliging, apart from her demands to have a baby. We got to the hotel around 2, were checked in and showered by 3ish, and then slept until 5.30 when Lizzy and Hayley showed up, to much rejoicing. That meant we missed the BSG panel at 5.30 where Trucco and Kandyse almost made out and Hogan actually got EJO to answer the phone, but we needed that two hours of sleep by that point. Erin and I got dressed and cabbed it back into Atlanta for Dasha and Aidy's party while the others slept.

It was a great party! Meryl successfully pulled off the fake hand prank, which was hilarious, since Aidy didn't notice she had a big old zombie hand for about ten minutes. I met a number of lovely Laura fangirls, discussed the ridiculousness of the end of the series, talked about Laura (of course), and learned that someone got stuck in an elevator with Hogan and Trucco (which caused much jealousy, as I hadn't so much as glimpsed him yet). We gathered up Nina midway through the party and bowed out to go seek soup, which we found in a rather noisy pub where we ate soup and sandwiches and drank Sweetwater 420, a local beer.

After that we cabbed it back to the hotel, terrified that we were going to die and/or get lost, as our driver was on his phone the entire time and also completely reckless and couldn't remember which street we'd told him. Finally we got back, made it up to our rooms, and fell into bed, only to have some STUPID MOTHERFRAKKER pull the fire alarm TWICE at 4.34 a.m., causing us all to jump out of our respective skins. It was a false alarm, fortunately, so we all just grumbled and curled up in our beds again for some well-deserved snoozing.

Whew! And that was just ONE DAY of con, you guys. Hold onto your socks - I haven't even gotten to the parts about meeting Mary McAwesome, Hogan, Alessandro Juliani, and Trucco yet. SO MUCH TO COME.

+ + + +

Saturday! We had a panel to get to at 11.30 and we just barely made it, due to some sleeping in and the fact that once you get any group bigger than 3 people or so, getting out the door becomes more and more like herding cats, whether you're the cats or the herder, and I've obviously been both. It didn't help that it was our first time on the MARTA, but hey, we made it! And there I had my first glimpse of the stunning vision that is Michael Trucco. Even though we were far away, I nearly swooned.

[Sidenote: Mostly I'm not all ♥_♥ about celebrities in person. We went to con for the fangirls, not for the stars. I mean, I worship and squeak over them from afar, but up close, they're just people and I try to respect that. Mary was gorgeous and Hogan was hilarious, but I was able to talk to them without any problem. Trucco's another case: he's so pretty I'm rendered speechless, and the fact that Sam is my favorite-favorite character doesn't really help. In less than six months, I went from loathing Sam to adoring him, and a lot of that was the way Trucco played him, so I've got nothing but respect and appreciation there.]

It was a nice panel with a pretty good mix of questions. Mary talked about health care again; Hogan talked about Saul Tigh and Caprica Six and Ellen; Trucco talked about how much he loves the "See you on the other side" line and Sam and Kara's relationship; Kevin Grazier babbled about his twenty rats and everyone wondered why he was even there. In the middle of the panel, somebody said, "Hey, I have a question. Does anybody remember a young, handsome actor named Aaron Douglas?" It was, of course, Aaron himself, crashing the panel - he said the bar ran out of booze, which seemed believable, given his little beer gut (and his horrible facial hair).

After the panel, we went down and across the way to Starbucks for our caffeine fix. Tori found me in line and gave me Kinder things, which was great. It was fun to be in line with Hogwarts students and Imperial stormtroopers and all manner of generally fictional things. Gandalf kept walking by outside. It's the little things, you know? In a way, con people are my people. In a way, a good number of them are not - I'm not that dedicated, I'm not that into celebrities (except maybe Trucco, and even then I wouldn't confront him if I saw him on the street past maybe a wave). Still, it felt comfortable and fun. After that we let Erin go wreak some havoc on the vendor booths while the rest of us headed down to the Froggy table so that Rani and I could sign up for a photo with Trucco and Alessandro Juliani. Dad had given me some extra money and I figured there was no better way to blow it than in the name of ridiculous self-indulgent photos. We dragged Nina along and convinced her to sign up for her own photo with Aaron Douglas, because the only thing better than ridiculousness is more ridiculousness! Besides, how could we pass up the chance to meet the people behind our favorite characters? We had to sign up for Sunday's session, because Saturday's was already over, but that was fine. Jess let herself be browbeaten into taking a photo with Gareth David-Lloyd, which was precious, and then we were free for a while.

After that, we wandered up to the Walk Of Fame, as I was inspired by Kait's text saying she'd be there. I glimpsed Jason Momoa, Rachel Luttrell, Claudia Black, James Marsters, and Dean Haglund (and later, Felicia Day) and found a bunch of Mary fangirls. I had to use the restroom, so Becca and I slipped out of the room and across the hall, where I saw two women coming out of the bathroom. One had curly hair and was sort of nondescript, and I glanced at the other. Hmm, I thought, nice legs, somehow familiar red skirt, keep going up: HOLY SHIT MARY MCDONNELL. "Oh!" I said, very startled, "Um, hi!" She gave me a vague smile and said hi back. After I hyperventilated to Becca for a second, I texted Dasha and Aidy and got in line so that Becca could get an autograph. Met all sorts of lovely fangirls there whose names I hadn't caught at the RememberLaura party.

While I was in that line, Kait found me (bringing with her Jen and Jenna). It was amazing to finally meet her after all these years; I recognized her immediately. She asked after Erin, as everyone does, who then showed up, and we all hung out and chatted in the line until the line guy made everybody shuffle over and be organized, at which point they went to find some other famous people. Angie went past with her awesome signed photo and said she hadn't asked about the cookbook we put together for Mary in February, so I resolved to ask. Mary was talking to Ron Glass at one point and Becca wanted to take a photo, but the line guy prevented her.

Trucco was right next to Mary, and AJ next to him. His line was short, sometimes almost non-existent, and I felt bad for him, but eventually he had some people. At last it was our turn to meet Mary, and Becca got a signed photo. Rani asked if Mary thought we might have great legs like hers when we were older and she said, "Honestly? I got them from my mother. It's genetics! I don't do anything. My daughter complains about it because she got her father's legs. She has great legs, but she always tells me, 'I wanted Grandmother's legs!'" That wasn't terribly encouraging, but it was still cute. I asked her about the cookbook and she lit up and said she loved it, and that it was on the shelf with her other cookbooks, and she looked at it all the time, and thank us again! We had pretty even odds that she was lying about it, but even if she was, it was still very sweet, and the way she just lit up was great. She is lovely, lovely, lovely, even if her clothing choices are sometimes odd.

After that, we got in Trucco's line, because I had decided I wanted him to sign my "Gives a whole new meaning to 'frakking toasters'" shirt. His line was pretty short again, thanks to the organizer guy who was sorting people out, and we didn't have to wait long. I went up to the table (lords, he's beautiful) and his handler kind of glared at us for coming up all in a bunch. He grinned, though, with those gorgeous blue eyes, all leaning on the table. He had a bunch of photos displayed across the front of the table, all of Sam as far as I remember.

Trucco: Hey!
Me: Hey! Will you sign my shirt, or do I need to buy a photograph?
Trucco: Sure! That's fine.
Me: Um, okay. *pays and takes off shoulder bag*
Trucco: Oh, the one you've got on?
Me: Yeah...
Trucco: Okay, what color? Black? It might bleed through onto your skin.
Me: That's okay, I'll take a shower later anyway. (Nobody is smoother than I am.) *turns around, backs up awkwardly into the little space between the tables*
Trucco: *reads shirt, apparently does double take* Is this legal? I mean, I know it'd fly in LA, but we're in Georgia.
Me: That's okay. We're from Arkansas, and I'm pretty sure I'm old enough for you to sign my shirt.
Trucco: *gets up, smooths shirt over my shoulders* Hmmm, where should I sign?
Me: Oh, anywhere.
Trucco: Hmmmmm. *patting my back in deliberation*
Trucco: *signs*
Me: Thanks!
Trucco: *clearly amused* No problem!
We start to walk away.
Trucco: That was my most enjoyable signing experience of the day. *pauses* Maybe ever.
Me: *dies quietly*

NB: Erin heard "memorable", but I heard "enjoyable", and that's what I'd like to remember. Either way, he was really sweet, and clearly good-humored to put up with my silly request.

After that we circled around (glimpsed Tom Felton) to take a photo with Michael Hogan, because Erin wanted one, and he was charming and hilarious and slightly pervy, but in a totally non-threatening way. He put his chin on my head, which cracked me up, and his shirt was open a lot more in the front than you would have thought. His table was next to Kate Vernon's, so I told her I'd liked her on the morning panel, because she looked so sweet and expectant and we weren't actually getting anything from her. Rani was vacillating about talking to Alessandro Juliani, so I grabbed her hand and dragged her up to the table. "We promise not to ask you about the Barbie movie," I told him, but then it was all he talked about, practically. He did this little falsetto "OMG BARBIE!" thing that was funny. He signed Rani's photo with a Barbie quote, and we all bit our tongues on telling him that it was funny that he talked about being a princess when her name means "queen". I asked him if he and the cast would be at the Colonial Fleet party, as Jamie and Mark Sheppard and Aaron had all been in years past, and very deadpan, he said, "Oh, yeah, we'll be there. En masse." I thought he was blowing me off, so I teased him a little about it, but he said they'd show up at some point, and then we thanked him and left.

Really, the best part was when we all sat down to take stock of ourselves and start breathing properly again and Rani said, "Oh, man, I totally thought Hogan was making a blowjob joke when he said lower, lower, but it couldn't be!" and we all looked at her and said, "Oh, honey, that's exactly what he was doing."

Then it was back to the hotel to scrounge up some food and get changed for the Colonial Fleet party. We'd already made plans to pre-party with Dasha and Aidy and to skip out for the Stargate NC-17 Slash panel with Hayley and Lizzy. The Westin was a very cozy little gathering; we each had a drink or two and then Dasha kicked us all out and made us go to the party. Sauntering down the sidewalk to the Sheraton, some people told us we should go to the World of Warcraft party instead - I've never been flirted with so much in one weekend. We stood in line for an age to get into the party, which was then kind of lame. It was great to see the fangirls and the people in costume (some v. good Baltars!), but no one was dancing, the drinks line was three miles long, and the music was bad. The best part was the girl with the Gaius Baltar shrine on her head. Eventually Erin and I made our apologies and slipped out to make sure we got to the SG panel in plenty of time. We were walking through the skywalk to the Marriott when I saw Alessandro Juliani wearing glasses and right behind him, Trucco. It's a fairly accurate measure of the fact that I can't look away from him that I didn't even see Luciana (Kat), Kandyse (Dee), Kate Vernon, or Hogan at all, and that I didn't notice that Trucco's arm was around Mary McDonnell until I turned around to look at him and noticed her hair. They were clearly all tipsy and jolly and fond of each other and it was just a really nice moment to get to witness, especially since we didn't get to see them at the party. It's good to know that the people who made the show that means so much to me enjoy each other's company.

We got to the panel a little early and waited outside, where someone else awkwardly hit on us. "So...are you best friends?" Yeah, we are, bugger off. The panel would have been okay if the moderators weren't full-of-themselves BNFs, and if it hadn't been for the men in the audience who were clearly there to pick a fight. "Do you think that as a woman, you write slash to exert control over men?" for instance. Eventually we just walked out. When the much braver Hayley and Lizzy returned, we cabbed it back to Decatur, where, thankfully, we did not die in traffic and no one pulled the fire alarm.

And guess what? There's still Sunday!

+ + + +

Sunday! Day of win. We slept in a little, lazed around a little, showered and got cleaned up. I put on my "Charter Member of the Laura Roslin Nymph Squad" button from the generous Avery too. She was kind enough to give me one at the Colonial Fleet party in the few minutes we were there (it's now on my messenger bag, advertising my space harlotry to the world and my workplace. Oops.).

Erin, Hayley, and Lizzy were all going to the Supergate panel at 2:30 to see Momoa and Joe Flanigan's Hair and I wanted to go too, but I had my photo with Rani, Trucco, and AJ at 3, so I just waited in line with them for a while. The Jens were there sans Kait, so I talked to them for a while before grooving on down to the Marriott. I still had some time, so I hit the merchandise and picked up some majors' pins for Dad and a copy of Fluxx for myself. I loved that card game when I played it with Julia and the H3 crowd, and I'd not seen it since, except online, and at $12 instead of $20, it was a bargain. I wanted some patches, but that'll wait. I barely made the rounds before it was time to meet Rani and Nina for photos! We kept joking that it was like a space prom, since they were using that same school-photos-nondescript background, and some of the poses were so entertaining.

We waited in the room for a long time - all the Mary photos were first, and the groups, but that meant we had a nice long time to talk to people, admire somebody's Starbuck flight suit that must have been hot as hell, and take little peeks at the cast through the open doorway. Trucco's hair was very visible, because he is a taaaaaaaaaaaall drink of water. Kandyse is so precious I want to put her in my pocket, seriously. Nina skipped in for her Chiefy photo and we were still standing there waiting. Here's the part where you need to know that I brought my cardboard cutout of David Duchovny with me and forgot him in the room every single day as we left. Fortunately, Becca had left her badge at the hotel, so she had to go back anyway, and I pleaded with her to bring David with her. She agreed and we scampered back into the room, fortunately not having missed our chance. The girls in front of us, who also had Trucco and AJ, had their photo done and the woman took our bags and let wander in, and Trucco almost had his arm around me before the photographer said, "Nope! They blinked!" so the other girls had to do their photo twice more, for blinking. AJ was joking that they were doing it on purpose.

They were both grinning when we came in again for our second try. I really wanted the ridiculous prom pose (you know, like this photo of John Krasinski) for maximum ridiculousness, but I got all shy around him (partly because I was a little leery that he'd be all, "Oh, the shirt girl!" and think I was creepy, although on reflection I'm sure he's gotten creepier, and also I though AJ might not like me after I'd teased him about the party), and just sort of went and stood next to Trucco while Rani grabbed AJ around the waist. He slung his big old arm around me and I put my arm around him, but had nothing to do with my other hand, and the photographer was impatient, so I ended up just kind of resting it on my stomach, because I didn't want to put my arm around Rani and disturb her hug.

We were their last photo, so they walked out when we did, and Trucco turned and looked right at me with those blue, blue eyes and said, "Take care." I nearly melted. So maybe he did remember me, who knows? After all, he'd said liked the shirt.

After the photos, we went upstairs to stand in line, and found Aidy and Tracy standing with Erin, having been there since 3 (it was about 3.45 at that point). There wasn't a line for the 5.30 panel - it was more of a mob, but we were standing near the front (not as close as Angie). They wouldn't let us line up for some reason. Finally, a little after four, they started shoving people into a single-file line, and nobody would let us in, so we were going to have to go down the hall, out the doors, across the walkway, and down the stairs. We all looked at each other.

"You want to just go to the bar and get drunk? Skip all the linewank?"

It was genius. I saw Tara briefly on our way in and gave her a hug. We headed up to the balcony bar with Dasha and Rani for some drinks and people-watching and chatted to random con people in the bar. Finally the line started moving, so we went down and found Becca and Nina and took silly photos with David.

Because we were at the end of the line, we were in the back row of the panel, and we cheered really loudly for the cast as they came out, incurring the ire of the people in front of us, who first took their four year old to another row (which, okay, I felt a little bad about that) and then complained a lot and moved themselves. Seriously, though, we weren't being lewd or super obnoxious: we were just cheering loudly because we were in the back, and they were introducing everyone. Plus we were tipsy. But I swear the whole cast were tipsy too, the way they were giggling, so that's all right. They answered a lot of questions they'd answered before, but it was nice to hear. I was standing in the question line talking to somebody dressed as Bill Adama, but neither of us actually got to ask anything, though Nina did. Mary McDonnell talked about Bill reading very slowly and Laura liking it very much, basically talking about the private times she refused to address when Aidy asked at the Friday panel. Hoges and Kate Vernon bantered. Luciana revealed that she'll be in Caprica wearing high heels. Trucco said that The Plan involved some of the older costumes from S2 (I cheered extremely loudly - C-Bucks rule!). Richard Hatch is one skeevy motherfrakker with all his "why didn't I ever get a sex scene?" comments, let me tell you: I'm not ashamed that I booed him at one point when he was trying to pretend that terrorism is a valid method of petition and protest, and I'm not ashamed that I kept quiet during his SSWA, which the whole cast did one by one at the end, except for AJ, who was last, and deadpanned, "Line?" Brilliant.

After the panel was sushi! We lured Hayley and Lizzy over to us by holding up David (he's better than an airport sign). Ten of us went to the Pacific Rim Bistro and stuffed ourselves, and it was delightful. I showed cardboard David to some woman who was taking photos of con people from her car. Shannon talked a bit about being an XF BNF. Rani talked about how great Alessandro Juliani and right after that HE WALKED PAST. Oh, we could have died in case he'd overheard. But he just wandered into our restaurant and stood at the bar until a table of fans asked him to sit down with them, which made us crabby that we hadn't thought of it first, but apparently they kind of knew him. Also crabby-making: we had to say goodbye to Hayley, who had to troop on home so she could get to class. Fortunately, there were photos to fetch, and soup to take to the poor working stiff Nina in the Daily Dragon office, where she was interviewing Kevin Grazier. We glanced at a bunch of the photos on the table while we were there: James Marsters will seriously do any pose you want, but obviously ours was the best, despite the fact that I looked kind of like an idiot with my hand on my stomach, as you can see:

We grabbed Nina's photo too, which was lovely: when she saw it, she squealed like a stereotypical fangirl, to the affectionate amusement of her coworkers. Then we crashed Dasha and Aidy's room at the Westin for one last round of fangirl time before heading back to the hotel to pack (lame).

Seriously, I was thrilled to meet every single person I encountered over the course of the weekend, but it was so special to get to spend time with Dasha and Aidy and my Arkansas posse, and to meet the cast, who were all so great. I didn't get to see nearly enough of the European fangirls, which was sad, but really, I didn't get to see enough of anybody. There just wasn't time, despite the fact that it felt like we spent half the con waiting for things. The whole drive back, we just talked about how we were going to miss people and how soon we could see them again. The Year of the Fangirl has completely lived up to its promise and then some, and I can't wait for the next time we have some kind of magical fangirl party.

Another side benefit of the con: I've forgiven 4.5 for the way it ended. I was so furious and so sad after the finale, what with Kara vanishing into nothingness and Laura dying (at least that I expected) and Sam flying into the sun, and Lee sending the rest of humanity off to perish of cholera and the common cold with no shelter and no tools. I felt like the finale betrayed the ideals of cooperation and fighting until you couldn't and learning from the past so that you wouldn't destroy the future. I felt like I'd been wrong about what the show was about all along: instead of cooperation, division. Instead of the lessons of history, the futility of history. The finale told me that the whole thing would happen again, when I thought the show and the characters were saying that the cycle of violence stopped with them, and I was hurt. But after hearing the cast talk and listening to the other fans, I miss it. I miss the early days when I didn't know that things would go wrong. Dana used an icon from "Unfinished Business" the other day of Kara looking slightly pained and half-happy, and gods, all of the sudden, I just missed her. I miss when Kara was the center of my world, and Kara/Lee, and then Adama/Roslin, and then OMG SAM. So I think I'm finally ready to rewatch, which I haven't been since the finale, and knowing what I know about the characters and how I feel about the way their stories played out will only make my rewatch richer and more poignant. Oh, how I love this show for bringing us all together. In the less-than-a-year since I started watching it, I've fallen in love with three-quarters of the characters, had some really interesting debates, and made so many friends. I've gone from someone who swore she'd never use the word "frak" to someone who has custom dog tags, and all because I told Dad I'd heard it was good and he should buy the DVDs. So thank you, Dragon*Con and internet friends and BSG cast, for making me believe again ♥

Monday, September 8, 2008


I have moved into an apartment! Nice!

Really, the best thing (aside from the fact that living with my parents will always bring out my sulky, bratty side more than anything else) is that my new neighborhood is so much more walkable than the old one. It's a five minute walk to the bus stop instead of a twenty minute walk, and I'm served by four or five different bus lines. I can walk to the grocery store, and there's a liquor store and a Dollar General, as well as a couple of quite decent restaurants. There's even a bike trail nearby, so I could bike to the mall if I wanted (on a good day, with a tailwind).

That is one of the things I really miss about France: I could walk almost anywhere, or take a bus or a train. The towns I lived in there were much smaller than my current town is, but the public transportation and the setup of the neighborhoods was much better. The residences and schools were mixed in with the businesses and restaurants. Plus, even though there were dog-related hazards all over the sidewalks, there were sidewalks everywhere, even in the cobbled alleyways. The cities I went to in Europe were built with a focus more on the people and less on the vehicles.

This already happens in American cities, to some extent, but mostly only the really big ones, like New York, where people are already living in close proximity. Houston's business district is vaguely walkable, and they've got good buses, but the sprawl is incredible. I can't even imagine the suburbs. DC has a lot of public space that doesn't have much of anything but parks and museums and monuments, but they also have a lot of metro access, which is fantastic, and each neighborhood is packed full of conveniences.

I can't imagine it would be that hard to incorporate some businesses into the suburban residential model. Part of the charm of Europe is its use of space: apartments on top of cafés, groceries next to laundries next to bakeries next to hotels, even in small towns. I suppose they've had to be economical with space in the past (fewer of the buildings are pre-fab, and most of them started as villages), and gas is more expensive, and people are more willing to walk, and all of these things are factors that lead to superior walkability. Americans do love their sense of space, but would it really drop property values to have a cute little café and an épicerie down the road from your tiny mansion? Food for thought. Then kids would have a reason to walk, and grownups too, and if the grocery store were closer, we could buy fresher produce.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

hooray for the gym

I have never been more glad to have classes start again. Not academic classes, sadly; my pining for homework has not yet urged me into grad school (nearly, though). But the gym is open again! After three weeks (vacation, gym closed for poshing up, laziness), I have turbokick again. How delightful.

I tried to exercise while the gym was closed. Really I did, once or twice. The problem is that I'm such an uninspired runner. It doesn't matter how bouncy the music is, or how lovely the day: I just get bored. If I'm not thinking of running and how I ought to keep running fairly constantly, my feet just slow down as if I had no say in it. I can jog along for about a half hour stretch, so it's not a matter of endurance when I quit after twenty minutes, but I can't really get myself going again for any reasonable distance once I've started to walk. I suppose the couch-to-5K program is not for me, as it involves lots of run/walk intervals, but maybe it would be easier if I knew they were coming up.

I am trying to mix it up some this semester, though. Mostly because my schedule doesn't always jive with the turbo sessions, I admit, but also because I know if I do that every day, the routine will get stale before its time (though not tonight, because tonight, there will be black light and glowy wristbands, and it will be hilarious). Yesterday I tried a step class. I'm thinking of picking up a toning class. There's always yoga, and the ever popular iterative combinations of yoga and pilates. Plenty of options, anyway. Thank heavens: with the students back, who could ever work in half an hour on the ellipticals? They're all taken up by sorority girls wearing baseball caps and going very slowly so that they can talk on the phone and not muss their makeup. It almost makes one take up jogging.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Memorial stickers

Last week I was in the Deep South. It always amuses me to tell people I'm going on vacation to Alabama, because the South is so misunderstood. Sure, there are a lot of hicks. Sure, there's bulletproof glass in a lot of gas stations. Yes, you'll see a Confederate flag or two. But really, it's not that bad. You're not going to be rousted out of your cheap hotel by a KKK convention or anything, and nobody's going to threaten to shoot your lily-white Yankee butt or refer to the War of Northern Aggression (unless they're being facetious or really drunk).

There was a funny new trend, though, aside from Nascar-themed license plates: a lot of people had what seemed to be memorial stickers on their back windshields. You know, Gracie Ann Jones, Beloved Sister, year - year, Angels Watch You. Things like that. I wasn't aware that this was a trend, but I saw quite a few vehicles with these stickers in the approximately 28 hours of driving it took to get there and back. Some of them have fancy embellishments and some of them are just plain text, clear cling-style stickers with white borders, but they were all over. It was kind of sweet, I suppose: better than the Confederate flag bumper sticker on my block that says "My History, Your Ignorance" (which, to some degree granted, but I have hefty opposition to that philosophy, despite being one of the Girls Raised In The South, or G.R.I.T.S.). To some extent, the memorial stickers are sweet and tasteful, but I'm a big fan of private displays of grief, and, you know, emotion in general (unless Michael Phelps is in the swimming pool or the new X-Files movie is coming out).

My question is: is this going to be the next big trend? We've had (unlicensed) replicas of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame peeing on everything under the sun, we've had the OBX stickers and their subsequent knockoffs, we've had stylized stags. Are memorial stickers going to be the new thing? Will you be able to trace the family tree by peering at someone's back windshield?

I foresee mournful stickers about pets, actors, and Nascar drivers as possible spinoffs. As for me, I want historical personages and scientific theories. Abiogenesis, beginning of time - 1861, Would Have Been Awesome. Things like that, you know. Queen Elizabeth 1, 1533 - 1608, A Fashionista For Our Times. I would totally sport a ruff.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

schools for suckers, or perhaps I'm just jealous

It is turning out to be another gorgeous, sunny, chilly day, and just like most Saturdays, I'm stuck in the library, gazing out through the wall of windows across from the reference desk, watching the students spread across the quad with their books and their sodas and their mp3 players. At least it's finals week now, so a considerable number of them are stuck here in the library with me.

In a lot of ways I miss school. I miss homework. It was nice to have to schedule my leisure activities around the other things I was doing. It was nice to have study sessions that lasted late into the night. I even liked finals week: I like writing papers and having deadlines. Now I feel rather shiftless a lot of the time. I watch more tv than I did at school. I feel like I get less done.

Maybe I just need a better job. It is true that now I have a better kitchen and more independence, and the ability to laugh at all those poor suckers tying themselves into knots trying to cram five more vocabulary words into their heads, or fill the other half of their sketchbooks, or frantically try to remember all the details of that experiment from three months ago to bring their lab notebook up to snuff.

I've been back from France now for a year. It's still kind of strange.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I swear I do talk about things other than the gym sometimes

One of my favorite parts of being rather a regular at the gym now (at least in my classes) is building up some gym cred with the real regulars (i.e. the fantastically fit people who don't even need classes to keep them motivated) and with my instructors. Last week, for example, the instructor that I call The Kickboxer (to distinguish her from The Other Kickboxer, natch) split us up into a sort of dance-off just to change things up a bit. Unfortunately, most of the people who knew the routine well were on one side of the room together. After the fact, she said, "You know, I should have put you on the other side. You have a memory for this stuff." I glowed.

Just like in school, I've become something of a That Kid: That Kid, who has the answers and stands in the front row. That Kid, who knows the routine and can stay on the beat even when the instructors fumble (with their heads full of so many rounds of choreography, I don't blame them for the rare misstep). That Kid, who plays up to the instructors and talks to them after class. Then again, I've shown up pretty much every day for the last couple of months, so why shouldn't I be friendly with the instructors now? It entertains me to be a sort of communication link between them, like when The Kickboxer didn't know that The Other Kickboxer had changed the choreography around, or when The Other Kickboxer didn't know why The Kickboxer had needed a sub (she had a big test). I am just a hub of information!

One of my other favorite parts is the evangelical bit of hauling people to the gym with me. I myself was hauled in the first place by a friend from knitting circle. Now I'm up to four converts. Yesterday, another girl from work came with me. "Is this like Jazzercise?" she asked as the class was about to begin. "Not exactly," I said, trying not to laugh. The Other Kickboxer's mic was broken, so I tried to mumble the cues to my colleague, who did rather well considering she didn't know any of the routine to start with. "That was way harder than I thought it would be!" she said at the end. But she liked it, and maybe she'll come back.

The last best bit is the tangible milestones. When I started doing the turbokick class, I could barely make it through the whole thing. I gasped and wheezed for at least twenty minutes after the first workout. Now my recovery time is down to five minutes, tops, and I'm putting more energy into each session. This week I completed the Fit 5-0 Challenge, which was a program to see who could take 50 hours of fitness classes between the beginning of the semester and the first of May. It's a great feeling to be able to keep up with all those genuine gym gurus. I may not be fabulous yet, but I've toned up a lot in the last couple of months. Wednesday we had a sub who was utterly new to me, who just made up a routine out of her head from bits and pieces of routines she used when she was a personal trainer in Hollywood. It was fast-paced and intense, but I got through it, only slacking off a little here and there. Friday one of the people who I know works out pretty constantly (after all, she hangs out with The Kickboxer, who pretty much lives in the gym) came up to me and we talked about how sore we were the next morning, and how hard the workout had been. It's pretty great to sort of be part of the inner circle of gym-goers now. After all, it's hard to discuss the finer points of muscle fatigue with my knitting circle, as wonderful as they are.

The only bad thing about going to the gym all the time is that I get so set in my preferences. I like a certain corner of the free weights area. I like some of the moves in turbokick better than others. I like certain of the music channels in the weight room much better than others, and try to avoid the attendants who only play rap and metal. Thank goodness the Kickboxer will be back this week: she also teaches my yoga class, and the sub's style is just not at all compatible with what I've come to expect.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

turbokick! good for what ails you

They do say that the most fervent believers are the converts. I've been converted to several causes over the years, but recently, I've become a gym evangelical. Yes, me. If you know me, this is somewhat hard to believe, I'd imagine, because lazy would be a good word to describe me, but since I took up this Turbokick (TM) class, I'm hooked. I'm now one of those people who always tries to take people to the gym with her, and it's worked, some. I've gotten a couple of friends to go, and one of my coworkers, and my poor perplexed mother with her arthritic knees. I'm working on the others.

I must be irritating. One of the guys who works downstairs in my bookstore knows my gym schedule now, because I talk about it so much. My friends are well acquainted by proxy now with the deliciously sadistic instructors. But it's really a bright spot in my day, that endorphin rush. Plus I've dropped a couple of pants sizes, so that's not bad either. I almost have a bicep now! One on each side, even. It's quite entertaining for me, who's never been fit, to finally get a taste of what that feels like. I love it.

Plus, now maybe I could defend myself in a dark alley. Uppercut! Roundhouse! I am the Chuck Norris of my bookstore!

Except, of course, for Biceps, whose upper arms are still bigger around than my head, almost.