Full disclosure: I'm a bit of a closet nerd.
Around middle school, I figured out real quick that it wasn't "cool" to like science fiction or comic books. And god help you if you publicly declared your love of anime.
Of course, I loved all of those things, but I kept a lid on it. I went to a small school with only about 30 kids in my entire grade, so I never felt comfortable alienating myself over my entertainment choices. I was able to alienate myself just fine by doing dumb shit like wearing turtle necks beneath my basketball uniform, stressing out over getting straight A's, and passionately arguing against the Bush administration within a primarily Republican student population. But I wasn't going to add my devotion to Toonami and the graphic novel section of the Barnes & Noble to the list of reasons why no one ever asked me out on a date.
So I was a lonely nerd. I had a few friends who were more open about their geek-interests, but I could barely bring myself to admit even to them that I liked Dragon Ball Z too. I don't know why, I guess I'm fairly conformist in public, though in private I'm all about my own thing. It probably has something to do with being an introvert.
Anyway, all of this is only to say that while I have a pretty extensive comic book collection (not as much as I would like - you know, money), particularly manga, and I'm a HUGE Miyazaki nerd, and I love Star Wars, and video games. and action figures - I've never been to a comic book or science fiction convention.
I've always wanted to! But I always find out about them too late, typically the week after (I'm terrible at finding fun things to do, it's one of the biggest things I wish I could change about myself).
Thankfully, my husband is just the opposite, and when he heard about the North Carolina Comicon, he made sure I knew about it straight away. I bought tickets like 10 minutes after he told me.
So this past weekend we went to NC Comicon and had such a blast. It was like, FINALLY, I get to hang out in public with my people! We didn't cosplay, but I had a really good time checking out everyone else's costumes. They were awesome. Especially the kids who got into it with their entire family. That's my idea of heaven. I didn't take any pictures because I was too in the moment.
NC Comicon takes place in downtown Durham at the Marriott convention center and Carolina Theatre, which is a great location. We got lunch at the ramen noodle shop, Dashi, a block or two away (always delicious), and then spent the rest of the day listening to panels, buying comic books and nerd gear, and catching a movie at the ComiQuest Film Festival. Check out our haul:
I'm really excited to read that history of manga book. I just finished Bitch Planet, and it was really, really good. I'm definitely going to get the next volume. I'd never heard about it before, but while I was looking around at one booth, a woman walked by me and pointed at Bitch Planet on the table. I took her recommendation and bought it. Such a good choice. It's set in a future where the patriarchy has ever legal right to send "non-compliant" women an off-world penal colony, i.e., Bitch Planet. Seriously, if you consider yourself a non-compliant woman, you should check this comic out.
Meanwhile, my husband went a little crazy with the Conan mags.
My favorite panels? Definitely the fanfiction and vintage 80's toy talks. I have to admit, if I had one criticism of NC Comicon, it's that they could have used moderators for a lot of their panels, which weren't super professional. But the fanfiction and vintage toy talks were really great. I used to be a big reader and writer of fanfiction, and kind of outgrew it, but it was interesting to hear how it's developed over the past few years and what kind of issues the writers deal with these days. I might devote a post to that topic next week. The vintage toy talk hosted by Zack Smith of Indy Week was just plain fun. Took me right back to the days of playing at my babysitter's house with her sons and their He-Man action figures.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that this what I have been missing in my geekdom - community. I'm at an age (30!) where I just don't care what other people think of me anymore, or I care a lot less. The benefits of getting old, I guess.
I'd like to go to more conventions, probably more science fiction focused (just because I'm more into that genre than I'm into super heroes). And I'd like to keep going with my husband, because it was really fun to nerd out with him. We have different interests (he loves horror and weird tales, I'm into anime/manga and all kinds of science fiction), but there's enough of a crossover for us both to enjoy.
Have you ever been to a convention? Wasn't it amazing to get nerdy without feeling judged?
Yesterday, I had a bit of a scare with an avocado. I don't know how I could be such a moron, but I somehow managed to chop up some avocado skin into my salad. I noticed the tough texture right away as I was eating, and thought I had spit it all out, but about fifteen minutes later I started to feel my palms, the soles of my feet, my face, and neck getting really itchy.
I have to assume the reaction was to the avocado peel, since it was the only thing different in my normal salad. The itchy palms/feet thing has happened to me before, and preceded a rash of hives from some allergen I was never able to identify. So feeling the reaction again, I knew to take some Benadryl right away. Thankfully, the medicine did its job, and the itching subsided very quickly, but since it's an antihistamine, I also felt woozy and groggy for the rest of the day. That kind of messed up my writing and editing schedule, but there wasn't much I could do about it. I'd rather be alive and too tired to work properly, then dead from an allergic reaction (yes, I'm probably being dramatic here, but you know what I mean).*
Anyway, since I was too high to function, I decided I may as well relax and do something easy and fun. For whatever reason, I've been feeling very nostalgic for Final Fantasy lately (this post partially got me thinking about it again). It's my all time favorite video game series, so I decided to dig out my old copy of FF7 for the PC and play it again.
There's just something about the world-building in Final Fantasy games that I find so perfect. Whenever I play them, I'm completely transported into the universe. I think it's a combination of the artwork and the music, and the little details that carry over between games, like Chocobos, Moogles, airships, and probably also that special hybrid of science fiction and magic that the series does so well. Final Fantasy is by far my favorite fictional universe.
So yesterday, I decided to install Final Fantasy VII on my computer to get my fix. No joke, I've saved my FFVII PC game since I first bought it in 1998 (1999?). That's almost 20 years I've been carting around these CDs. They've been with me to college, three apartments in graduate school, and two apartments/houses in my post-graduate life. I don't know why I took them everywhere, since I've been pretty much way too busy to play the game since high school, but they gave me this sense of comfort. Like I could disappear back to Midgar, Gold Saucer, or Costa del Sol at any time if I wanted to.
So yesterday was going to be my big return. I sat down to install the game - but it didn't work. It just refused to function on my computer. After a little googling, I learned this was typical. The one thing I hadn't factored was that FFVII wouldn't be compatible on a computer system that was almost 20 years beyond it. I know that seems obvious, but it wasn't until that moment did I really understand that 20 physical years of my life have almost passed since I was just a kid, sitting in my parents basement, playing what would be my favorite game of all time. 20 years! Where did the time go! Turning thirty this year didn't have half the effect on me that failing to install FF7 did. It's like that time passed finally became real.
I remember this moment, back even further to 1995 when the arrival of Windows 95 made virtually all of my young computer knowledge and favorite video games (really old Kings Quest stuff) obsolete. That was a clear dividing line in my life. So it just feels strange that somehow everything changed without me noticing it, and now it's another phase of my childhood that's obsolete, but I can't even define the point when that happened. Or rather, I guess that point is now, when I realized I couldn't disappear back into Final Fantasy as easily as I had wanted. And it's funny, I don't even really want to play the game, I just want to be in it. Does that make sense?
So anyway that's when I knew my childhood was over, when FFVII became just a memory, and not some place I could escape to whenever the real world got to be a drag (that is, until I can hopefully find a software patch or an emulator, or perhaps I'll just download the soundtrack and look at some Final Fantasy concept art - that may work just as well, to be honest).
Ironically, just the other day I also had the epiphany that I finally felt like an adult, the flip-side I guess of knowing my childhood was over. This occurred when I finally admitted to myself that I really do need to blow-dry my hair every time I take a shower.
Jeeze, isn't adulthood boring?
*PSA: You should always, always have some Benadryl in your house, your purse, or your wallet. You never know when you or somebody else might start to have an allergic reaction, or worse, go into full anaphylactic shock. Having a Benadryl on hand could be the difference between life and death. The little pills are small and easy to carry. So yeah, Benadryl, get some. It's the wonder drug.
Writer, editor, scientist.