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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Post STLV Depression Therapy

     I've been home from the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention (STLV) for 5 days now. I'm just about recovered. Wait, that's not true. This is something us Trekkies never quite recover from. We wait all year to see each other, and when our too-short time is done we slip into a post-con depression, which merely fades, but never subsides, until the anticipation of the next upcoming con takes over. Some people say that social media is ruining authenticity, that friendships made online are not real. BUNK, I say! Twitter and Facebook are how we strengthen those bonds, discuss common fandom, relive our memories through stories and pictures, and make plans for the next time we see each other. We come together from all over the WORLD in Las Vegas every August, and when one of our group is missing, we feel it. When one of us can't make it we almost can't stand to read the posts of those that did, because we ache so much for the camaraderie and understanding that most of us don't get at home. We are a passionate bunch.
      I go to several conventions, but nothing is quite like the STLV experience for me. Phoenix Comic Con is fun, and very family-friendly. I take my daughter and that is our mom-daughter trip. San Diego Comic Con is often more work than fun. It's hectic, super-crowded, and meeting up with friends is sometimes impossible. Wondercon, Grand Slam, various smaller Creation Cons are all nice to visit, but I never seem to know more than a handful of people there, and outside of the convention center, I never seem to connect with anyone or engage in lengthy nerdy conversation.
     This year's STLV was different for me. It's the first time I ever went totally by myself. I have alway either had my best friend as a roommate or gone with one of my kids. I was apprehensive about going until just before the con. I was worried about feeling awkward, worried about getting into the dreaded Star Trek Into Darkness conversation (thankfully never least not with anyone that liked the film!), and worried about expenses. If I hadn't been committed to cosplay with my friend Senthil Masilamani, I may have canceled the trip out of stupid anxiety. All of those worries melted away as soon as I arrived!
      I got in a day earlier than usual, and I already had friends there to greet me. That night at the Masquerade Bar I saw even more familiar faces...friends and acquaintances that I get to see each year. I enjoyed some action figure play time with Trek Karen, but what really set me right was seeing Senthil when he arrived. I knew I was supposed to be there. Soon our little gang was together again and headed to Joe's for pizza.
      I won't (and probably can't) give a daily summary of what I did, but I did set out to do this in order to point out my highest highlights. Now as promised on Facebook, here are the moments that made me feel verklempt: 

     A few days before I left home April Hebert contacted me about making matching t-shirts to surprise Dayton Ward with. For those that don't know, Dayton named characters in his book, That Which Divides, after us. We both felt extremely thrilled and honored to have our names in the story, but I've got to say, when I read it I couldn't believe how he had captured ME in Master Chief Petty Officer Starfleet Mom. LOL Anyway... ::spoiler alert:: April's character died in the book but I got to live! Yes, Dayton is the Puppet Master. Here we are in the shirts April made for us just after we surprised Dayton at his signing table Thursday morning. It seemed to really touch him, which made us feel great.
     I was also really pleased to be able to spend some time hanging out with Dayton and his sometimes writing partner, Kevin Dilmore. I've met them both before, but there just isn't time or space to chat and hang out at San Diego Comic Con. At one point Dayton told me a secret. I hope it's OK to share it here. He told me that the reason I got such a wonderful juicy role in his book (which I didn't know about until a week before it was released) was that at the time he began writing it, he could see from my online posts that I was not happy. Indeed, I was going through a very difficult emotional and physical time. He thought the book would cheer me somehow, and it did. It made me feel special, but him keeping that under his hat until I was in better spirits was what really choked me up. It was one of those random acts of kindnesses, without fanfare or explanation. He never made his motivation known, which is exactly why it worked. That man, despite what his Facebook posts might suggest, is a giver, in the class of Old Saint Nick. What a gesture..what a heart of gold! Here I am with my book and my Puppet Master. I can only hope that the Chief makes another appearance someday...and that she be allowed to live long and prosper!
       My next STLV13 highlight is a strange one. No one would even guess that this memory would be so special to me. Friday night, after cosplaying as Gwen DeMarco all day and much of the night, I showered and changed and went to karaoke with my dear Canadaaaaaaaa, more widely known as Jocelyn. It was great fun, and meeting up with my San Diego pal, Todd Felton was a bonus, too, because he was only able to come for one night! So I'm sitting in the back, drinking scotch and chillin' with my pals when all of a sudden Darnell Davis, in his form-fitting red shirt and black leather pants, grabs my hand and takes me to the dance floor. OK, lots of people were dancing. People dance all the time...but I DON'T DANCE. Dance we did! I mean, like real dancing...and just a little grinding to some depressing Rainy Days and Mondays rendition. The thing is, I have this view of myself. I think of myself as the mom. Everybody calls me Moogie. I'm the oldest one in the group all the time. I've got that middle-aged spread and that kinda lonely and responsible mindset. Sure I do a lot of fun stuff, but it's usually with a ten year old. Darnell, you made me feel young and pretty, even if only for a few dances. :) Sadly, there are no pics of me and Darnell, but here is me and Todd after karaoke!

     After karaoke we went to the Masquerade Bar. It was the wee hours and I was hungry. Darren Benjamin, who manages McMullin's Irish Pub, where I always go when I'm in Vegas, was there. I asked him, more than once, to order me some Irish Nachos. All I got was a reply, "Wrong bar, Starfleetmom." I just kept getting hungrier. Remember will be relevant later. David Ivy was at Masquerade, too. Now here's the thing about David. I've never been quite sure he actually remembered who I was. We're not close, but we see each other at every con and I listen to every episode that he and Darren produce of Trekcast. We had a great geeky DS9 conversation at McMullins last year. I drove by myself to Vegas this year, and I listened to a several Trekcast podcasts on the way because I was behind. By the time I hit State Line I had to stop because I was yelling at David in my podcast app! Why? Because, you see, Star Wars is David's happy place and I can't stand it. In every episode of Trekcast David finds a way to redirect the conversation to Star Wars, or the Milennium Falcon, or Tattooine. He can't help himself!! Well drunk and starving me set out to rip him a new one, and after a couple of hours together, deep in geeky conversation, we were hugging and respecting and even considering doing a special Galaxy Quest episode together! Oh, David, I love you, man! Our conversation picked up again Sunday night right where it left off. I loved getting geeky with him. I'll even tolerate his Star Wars references now. :) Sadly, no pics of me and David either. I was a total PhotogFail at this year's con. I do have a pic of Gwen DeMarco and Darren, though!

     Finally, at 3:30 a.m. Senthil graciously accompanied Jocelyn and me and some other chick in a sparkly dress to the diner for some food. I had the worst ever burger and finally got to bed at 4:00 a.m. Unfortunately, my idiotic internal clock woke me at 7:00 and I was still a little drunk. Uh-oh. It was costume contest day. Yeah, that right there was one of my con regrets. We're not gonna get into those.... I was texting with my dear friend Erica and on the house phone with Jocelyn. Oh dear, we were all in bad shape. I couldn't get back to sleep, but had fun tweeting and accidentally overflowing my bathtub. I just had to be in the vendors hall at the Enterprise Bridge Restoration booth at 10:00 a.m. because I promised Nick Minecci I would be there when he popped the question to his love, Janice. I was able to pull myself together just enough to make it down there at 9:59 and see the big moment. Congratulations Nick and Janice!!

      Unfortunately, it's all fun and games until the drunk wears off. Sometime between the proposal and me getting halfway back to my room I hit the wall. Being vertical was no longer fun, and the carpeting in the long hallway between the hotel and the convention center was quite dizzying. Dayton and Kevin to the rescue!! I needed to clarify dinner plans with David K (there are 3 Davids here, try not to be confused) but didn't think I could make it. Dayton literally guided me like a blind woman..I held his elbow and closed my eyes and he took me to registration where I must have been the most horrid sight, using the counter to hold myself up, puffy eyes, hair pinned up haphazardly, and barely able to finish a sentence. I could smell my own bad breath.  Worst hangover ever. I barely remember asking David if we could have a normal dinner and catch up after the costume contest. I just wanted to slow down and visit! The con was going by so fast! He's the coolest dude ever, because if someone looking and acting like me would have invited me to dinner I would have ran away!
     I managed to get back to my room and try to nap a while and chug as much water as possible before Senthil and I made our appearance as Sylvia and Korob. I'm thankful to Melissa Navarro for taking the time to come to my room and put on my eyelashes and eyeliner, because I suck at it, and because I was pretty darn shaky. OK, next year, no staying out drinking until 4 a.m. the night before the costume parade!! I'm vowing that now. Lesson learned. I watched Catspaw twice while resting/getting dressed.      Senthil put on his robe, and it was the first time I saw him in it. OMG SQUEE he was so PERFECT as Korob. I handed him the transmuter I brought and we headed toward the elevator. The minute the door opened on the first floor we were asked to pose for a picture. A mere 10 yards later Mike Okuda stopped us for a photo! I think it took us about an hour to walk to the convention because of all the photos. We got our picture taken on the bridge, got interviewed by GameFob (surprised myself at how articulate I was), and posed and posed and posed. It was fun, but I wished we'd had more sleep. I got to see my dear friend Clay in the vendors room for about 5 minutes and that was it. I wish we had time to visit. Here are a few pics from our debut as Korob and Sylvia.

I know the solo pic of me was taken by Mission Log Podcast, but I'm sorry I have no idea who to credit for the other three.
     Senthil and I grabbed an overpriced and pretty disgusting sandwich from the cart and headed to the pre-judging. We were prepared to say some lines from the episode, but didn't really get the chance as they were trying to hurry the process along. Our number was 13. One of the judges said he loved Catspaw, his birthday was Halloween and he has a 13 collection. I knew then we were in! Haha! We stayed in the room until all of the over 125 contestants went on stage. We should have gone for more snacks and water. Finally the 30 finalists were announced and we were in the finals. We were given our Guinness World Record numbers and told to sit in the first two rows. I looked at Senthil and told him a little part of me wished we didn't get into the finals. He agreed. We were a bit rough around the edges.
     I think we were in that room for four hours. We worried about the Xindi, Morn, Salt Vampire and Borg in a wetsuit. They were hot, dehydrated and shaky. We broke the record with 1085 Star Trek Costumes in a single room. As soon as that was over we had to run straight for the big stage. There was just enough time to hit the rest room and grab a glass of water. I was feeling quite woozy, like my blood sugar was -10, and I'm pretty sure David K showing up with a granola bar just before I took the stage saved my life! About 2 hours later it was finally over. After Adam interviewed every contestant and the judges asked some questions, there was a mix-up with the results. We stood on that stage for an eternity. We all felt like our knees were going to buckle. As soon as it was over I made a beeline for my room, showered and changed and devoured a delicious steak dinner like a targ! Thanks for those moments of peace and sustenance David Kempton! Here's the only pic I have of us, and it was taken on Thursday night by Erica Anderson, after David and I completely failed the trivia quiz.

     I have no credit for these stage pics either. They were all swiped from Facebook posts that I was tagged in. While my costume looked great on the floor, I was later shocked to see the pics. The stage lighting and flashes totally make me look like I'm in my underwear and you can't even tell I have a catsuit on under that sheer cape! Senthil, sweet as ever, said next year he'll stand up there in his underwear so I don't have to! Haha! Thanks, buddy.

     I think the reason why some of the more accomplished cosplayers don't enter the Costume Parade is that you are held hostage for so many hours without relief and unless you have fancy homemade latex on your head, you have not chance. Still, spending the day with Senthil and propping each other up for photo ops was a big highlight for me. Thanks Senthil!!
     OK, another David made my con amazing. David Taylor was our host in Room 1017. Joe Dickerson mixed martinis & passed out little gifts, I brought my action figures, and we just generally got out of control. New friends Amy and Rachael were awesome and FUN! I missed a bunch of panels, but no regrets! I'm not sure I have any pictures from 1017 that are shareable to a wide audience. I already admitted here to getting way too drunk Friday night. That's a pretty big admission for my generally vanilla Facebook page, where I will probably share this. I remember on Sunday giving my leftover sandwich from lunch to David K. in the hallway as he was escorting Robert Beltran to his room. I texted to let him know I finally found chicken soup (I'd been wanting that for my Harvey Fierstein con voice all week) and that it was just my leftovers, but I ended up texting the wrong David, David T. So now whenever I text or DM David T. I ask if it's the right David. He always says yes. :D Here's the only pic from 1017 I want to share, and I credit David Taylor for it.

     Now, remember how I said asking for Irish Nachos on Friday night would be relevant later? Sunday night our little gang took cabs to Mandalay Bay and ate at the Burger Bar. Wow! Delicious! When we got back, we headed to Masquerade and there was Darren Benjamin who said he'd been looking for me. He handed me a bag with a to-go order of Irish Nachos inside! I just can't tell you how that touched me! It was such a sweet surprise. I only wish I hadn't just eaten, because they were so delicious. I shared them with whoever wanted some, and just couldn't believe how thoughtful Darren was. It was another random act that made me feel special.
      The first time I went to STLV with Melissa Nickerson, we were starstruck. We saw every panel, signed up for every event, never left the Hilton. It was glorious and the best week I ever had. I cherish those memories, but now STLV to me is the relationships we build, the memories we make, the random acts of kindness, the silly little gifts we give each other, the geeky conversations, the shared experiences. I hardly see any panels. I keep those people close to my heart, I keep in touch online, I even try to visit some if I'm traveling to their area. I know this post got long, but so many people touched my heart and made me feel loved and happy. I couldn't mention them all, these are just the biggest moments. I loved spending time with all of you, even if for only a few moments... Lisa at the TrekRadio booth, Melissa, Ned, Ernie, Scott (thanks for taking care of me and for umox!), Katie, Kerry, Terry, Allen, Cush, Vernon, Amy, Rachael, Charity (best dressed vendor at the khan), Michael H, Michael M, Mary, John, Ken, Deyvid, Chris, Chris and the other Chris (and I thought there were a lot of Davids!), Eric, Nicole, Christine, Chuck, Jor de, Nancy (thanks for holding my purse!), Larry, Matt, Ariel, Wil, Brandon, Alistair, Mikkie, Ryan, Gina, Tory, Lorrie, Daniel (Ponn Farrr!!!!), and everyone else that I'm failing to give a shout out to.
     Do we have a date next August?