Gently Returning to the World (Gen Con 2017 sum-up)

“Let me explain! No, is too much. Let me sum up!” — Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

It’s Monday evening and I just finished one of my favorite weekends of the year: Gen Con! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend all four days of the convention because school and teaching have already begun, but the hubby and I made the most we could out of Saturday and Sunday.

Friday evening and night, I ate, indulged, enjoyed, and laughed. We had dinner with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants, shared delicious dishes, desserts, and wine. It was lovely. And then we Netflixed and chilled. No, seriously. Pjs, snacks, a laptop plugged into the hotel room’s television, and “Criminal Minds”. The next morning came with a long, hot, uninterrupted shower. (Sidenote: Why is hotel water so gorgeously silky?)

Saturday was a gloriously active day. I cosplayed. I belly danced. I walked. I reunited. I laughed. I hugged. I honestly had a really good day. I got to meet a favorite author, Mercedes Lackey, and she made my story-loving heart very full. A little child recognized my cosplay as his favorite superhero (“Mommy! Mommy! She’s Iron Man!”). I got to enjoy being raucously joyous at the dance with all the other geeks and new friends. I got to be bold, fierce, daring, loving, and unabashedly me.

By Sunday, my body ached but I was determined to show up in all my geeky glory. I got up early and ate a little breakfast at the hotel while I contemplated all that I had done so far over the weekend. Once we reached the convention, we found some very fun stuff (yay for TeeTurtle grab bags and The Baby Bestiary) and saw a few more people. By the end of the day, my feet, back, and ribs ached horribly and I was glad to sit down at Steak and Shake with Ben for a late lunch.

Next year, there are some things I will do differently. There are some more intricate cosplays that I want to do (Hogwarts, Trill science officer) and I will take more time in the preparation of them. I will also get myself some super comfy shoes for every occasion. There were some people with whom I had dearly and deeply hoped to spend time but it just didn’t work out. Not their fault. Next year, I will plan better to spend time with dear ones. On the whole, however, it was a good weekend. A really good weekend. Perhaps that is what makes the next part so difficult.

I don’t know if it is solely the weariness or not but the let-down feels heavier this year, more brutal. I know part of it is energy expulsion and the weariness that comes from it. I have to admit that another part of it is likely disappointment over what I didn’t do and people that I didn’t see. Perhaps I built up hopes/expectations that didn’t pan out; it happens, no one is at fault. I’ll plan more carefully and earlier next year so I can be sure to see those dear ones. Nevertheless, the out-whoosh of joy and enjoying-energy and freedom is proving very hard. I love this time with my hubby and with my delightfully geeky friends. Why can’t the joy last longer?

I miss my people. It always boils down to this. I deeply miss my people. Today, I have left dear ones to rest rather than poking them about their weekend experiences and all else, because I know they are tired and in need to rest and recovery of their own. They need a gentle return, too. I love them. I can wait.

All that said, Gen Con is in the books and I’m always glad for the experience. 

Foxy Nerd out!

GenCon 2017



[X-men: Legacy] The Time Has Come

Stale cigar smoke. Bitter beer. Earth. The coppery tang of blood that soap can’t touch.

She inhales deeply as iron strong arms wrap around her and hug her. Not too tightly but close. She can hear a heart beating alongside hers; strong, maybe a little slower than in the past, but still there. Tired. But still there.

When he releases her, she gives a small smile. barely there. “I’ll keep an eye on them,” she promises, not needing to state just who “they” are.

He doesn’t say anything in return, doesn’t have to. It’s been long enough that they understand each other without having to say much at all. Time will do that to you. Time marches on but, eventually, it takes you with it.

He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even say goodbye. Just utters a grunted huff, the edges of a rueful smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. No…not just rueful.

Proud. Sad. Determined.

Reaching out he puts a hard, rough, calloused hand against Betsy’s cheek for a moment before letting it drop to her shoulder and giving it a squeeze that would crack the bones of a less hardy person.

Then the old bastard shoulders his pack and heads off down the drive. He hops into the old ’68 mustang, roars it to life, and is gone.

It’s hard to say goodbye. Maybe that’s why they don’t say it. For them, can it ever really be goodbye, though? Or will they just end up side-by-side again when the world has turned enough times?

Who knows? In either case, goodbyes are hard. That’s why they don’t say them. Time will do that to you.

Time marches on and, eventually, it takes you with it.

(Graphic credit: Imgur, by ManWhoLovesSuperheroes)

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Missing Like Wishing

I’m sure I have mentioned this in varying forms over the past few weeks, months, what have you, but I miss gaming. I mean, live gaming. Physically being in a room with people, either sitting around a table or moving between spaces, engaged in our characters, laughing at antics, putting on our acting hats, and slipping beneath the skin of someone else. I miss the interaction, I miss the theatrics, I miss it all! I miss planning my costume/outfits for game, tapping into what my character is thinking or feeling that time and how that would influence what they choose to wear. I miss my closet full of gowns, the flowers for my hair that were chosen specifically for their meanings. I miss the “letters” full of flowery language, figurative (and sometimes proverbial) bear traps hidden beneath seemingly harmless nosegays.

I miss walking into a room full of friends and, for a moment, feeling that rush and thrill of nervousness as if I were walking into a room of strangers (especially if there were new people there). That feeling that has me either wanting to hide in a corner or run away. I would get over it eventually and be caught up in the fun and flurry of activity from soft rp to the rampaging plot bus to wrapping up rp at the end of game before nominations. At any game I have ever attended, we have always done some form of nominations at the end of game, acknowledging those who surprised us, delighted us, put themselves out there for plot, or whose characters royally screwed up and thus made lots of story and to-do for the rest of us.

I miss late-night “afters”. I miss gathering to eat with friends in the small hours of the morning, still gleeful and charged up from roleplay. I miss sharing conversation and good food and laughs while even on the verge of sleep.I miss slipping into the skin of someone else and living their life for a while. I miss feeling their heart beat and expand and drop and break within me. I miss being with others, with friends, with people who make me laugh, cry, hate, and love all in the space of a six-hour game. I miss feeling the energy of others pulsing all around me, even if it left me drained and weary at the end of the night. That was a cost I could live with most of the time. I miss my playtime.  I honestly can’t help but wish to have it again and thrill and be elated when I do get chances to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies.

A Sorting Hat Rhyme

So I am guilty of exactly ONE piece of Harry Potter fanfiction from several years ago (not including the online Hogwarts forum roleplay game that I ran for a short amount of time), and I will say that I worked very hard on the Sorting Hat rhyme for the beginning of the story. Hope you like it.

Welcome to Hogwarts,

First years of all.

We welcome all,

Witches tall and small.

Wizards bold or quiet as mice.

You’ll learn your lessons here

In a quick trice.

Now I am brought here

To Sort you, you see,

Into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff,

Or Ravenclaw tree.

Or perhaps into Slytherin,

Sly as a snake.

Here’s hoping that you all

Will very well take

To the House you belong in,

Made so long ago

By witches and wizards

Of the very best, you know.

Gryffindor, brave and strong

As a beast.

Ravenclaw’s intelligence when

All else has ceased.

Hufflepuffs work away to

Achieve the best marks.

Slytherins plot and plan.

In them, resourcefulness is art.

So step forward now

No need to be shy.

I am the Sorting Hat!

You’ll go where

Say I.

The Sorting Hat by liquidscissors on

A Lesson in (Geek) Etiquette

I inhabit a world of geeks. If you have not been confronted by the passion of the geek by now, I salute you, because we are one seriously fervent and animated bunch. We usually make sure that you will remember us, one way or another.

That being said, I have apologies to make. In the past, I have been pretty unkind and even downright mean in my dislike of several comic book characters in the past, namely Scott Summers, aka Cyclops. I have disliked the way the character treats the people in his life, his insistence that his way is the best, etc. But I have realized that, in the past, I have been rather rude when discussing this character with others who may just like or even admire him for his leadership and what he has gone through in his tenure in the X-men universe. I may not agree with or like this character but that is no call for poor behavior on my part when it comes to respecting others and their position in the argument. So, to anyone I have treated that way, I sincerely apologize.

As much as our opinions and passions matter, I think one of the most important things we need to remember is our geek etiquette. What makes us so great a community is that we have a myriad of varied interests, likes, favorites, fandoms, etc. But we can also be exceedingly vocal and adamant in our passion for particular fandoms or characters or even specific versions of the two. Sometimes, we can allow those passions to overcome our good sense and in our desperate attempts to show that we are “right” and to win others over to “our side” or our way of seeing things, we can actually disrespect and damage our relationships with other people by unknowingly tromping all over something that might mean a great deal to them.

We might not know that this particular character or comic that we absolutely despise was an escape for this person when they were younger, a way to get away from the difficulties in their life at a particularly rough time.

We might not know that this character whom we find unbelievable and trite was the first thing that she bonded over with her brother, when before they had had nothing in common.

It might not have even crossed our minds that Matt Smith’s “Doctor Who”, whom we might consider manic and out of keeping with previous Doctors, calmed that frazzled mother’s colicky baby and gave her a few moments of peace and rest, which is why he is her favorite.

There are connections behind people’s opinions and favorites, thought they might seriously diverge from our own, that we might not know of because they are personal and close to their hearts. We are more than welcome to our own opinions, of course, but that does not mean that we cannot be kind and respectful in our passionate discussion, allowing for others to maintain their stances without our trying to tear them down when they refuse to “see it our way”. And this doesn’t just stand for “geeky” hobbies or interests. This practice can and should be applied to areas across the spectrum of our lives. We can be passionate AND respectful and possibly avoid damaging our friendships and relationships with others by stomping all over something that they might enjoy by detailing to them just how awful their choice in geekery, religion, career, or hobbies is. Trust me, we all get enough of that in our lives.

A Lady’s Pretend Time

My newest article posted on The Well Written Woman today:

In my bio blurb below, it notes that I am a wife, mother, writer, and reader, and this is all true. However, I am also a cosplayer, a belly dancer, and a LARPer. Yep, you read that correctly: I LARP. Though it has been more in the news and mainstream culture in recent years, there may still be some of you who are not aware of this hobbiest/gamer phenomenon. So allow me: LARP stands for “live action role play.”  What this means, in short, is character acting and improvisational storytelling.

As the annual GenCon gaming convention (Indianapolis) draws upon us, so too do I draw near to one of my few times of escape during the year. But this year’s GenCon convention will be slightly different. This GenCon weekend, for the first time in about three years, I will walk into a brand new (to me) LARP game, full of people I do not know, with a system unfamiliar to me. And that is a simultaneously exciting, sobering, and terrifying thought. In 2005, when I started LARPing, I found myself shaking with nervousness at interacting with people I did not know, in an activity that I had never engaged in before. But it ended up being one of the most enjoyable times I had ever had. I am an introvert with a love for drama and theater, but I didn’t get the chance to participate in it much during grade school and only a little bit in college. So LARP has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to indulge in the thespian part of my personality.

I adore what my mother-in-law calls our “pretend time.”

I enjoy letting myself fall away and occupying the skin and life of someone else for a while, someone who may be similar to or vastly different from me. There is a sense of freedom to inhabiting the mind of another person, however made-up they may be, to letting their confidences or fears wrap around me and acting accordingly. I once played a character that had been in an accident and the fear center of her brain destroyed because of it. Now that was fun as well as challenging. I think like my characters, move like they do, speak like they do. Oh, Mel is still here, of course, but she is sitting back and enjoying “pretend time.” And pretend time is lots of fun when you can do it with other people. My mother-in-law teases my husband and me that we apparently didn’t get enough pretend time as children. We assure her that we most certainly did but we enjoy it so why give it up?

As a woman, I can only speak to LARP from my perspective. I would assume that my experience is different from that of most of my male fellow LARPers, but only they can tell you that for certain. For me, being a woman in LARP, there weren’t any ground-breaking revelations or anything of the like. When I started LARPing, half of the game was female (some of whom would become some of my closest friends) and it has never felt out of place to me. Women like *Ellora and *Iris have commanding presences and immense creativity – in character and out – that I have always admired, as well as having very warm hearts that were welcoming, kind, caring, and encouraging, something I dearly needed at that time in my life.

I understand that, for a long time, gaming, comics, fantasy, etc., were considered to be the domain of males, with the odd woman here and there as an aberration. If you have ever seen the show “The Big Bang Theory”, one of my favorite episodes is when Penny, Amy, and Bernadette venture to the local comic shop to find out why their boyfriends are so into comics. Every male in the shop turns around and stares as they enter, the owner eventually telling them,“They are just girls, nothing you haven’t seen before in movies or drawings,” and then later threatens, “I swear I will turn a hose on you!” when they cease to stare.

Now, I’ve been there, walked into a game store before and heard all conversation cease, as I was the only female in the establishment at the time. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t really now, but I didn’t let it bother me. I knew exactly what I wanted, found it on the shelf, bought it, and then hurried home to read my new treasure (for those who want to know, it was White Wolf’s Invictus sourcebook for their Vampire: The Requiem game). In all seriousness, though, I’ve never considered myself to be making forays into a males-only domain.

Again, when I began LARPing almost ten years ago (yes, my dears, it’s been that long), there were almost more females than males in the troupe game where I started and that continues today. More and more we are hearing of the harassment issues that women are facing in geek culture, particularly in cosplay (costume play), but I don’t want those negatives to completely overshadow the large positives that I have experienced in activities like cosplay and, especially, LARP.

Through this hobby, I have gained confidence, broadened my creativity, had stories published, challenged myself to meet some personality goals, and had the wonderful opportunity to meet score upon score of amazing, talented people.

I like to make friends. It’s fun to meet new people, laugh with them, and get to know them. I find that I’m very enthusiastic about new friends as, often, they are the people who reach out to me. For someone who is largely introverted, this is a huge gesture to me and I am grateful for it. Eventually, folks find my deeper sides and often seem pleasantly surprised by them. At least I hope they are. But I have made some of my best friends in recent years through gaming and LARP, found some of the most powerful sides of myself – courage, wrath, passion, etc. – and found the means to be able to express all of these sides, all of these characters, safely. And, really, all I can do is thank all of those who have made it possible for me over the past nine years.

Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for interacting with me. Thank you for the compliments. Thank you for helping me to shore and build up a shaky self-esteem over the years. Thank you for listening when I need an ear. Thank you for kicking my butt when I need it. Thank you for the inspiration and shared creativity. Thank you for the guidance. Thank you for answering my myriads of questions. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your community.

Thank you for welcoming me.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.


Changeling Ladies

Photo by Tyson Cook

Photo by Tyson Cook


The Daeva Meeting

An Elegant Refresher

Last night, I spent the night at the West Baden Springs Hotel in southern Indiana, my first night far away from home (too far to get back at a moment’s notice) without Elizabeth in almost two years. It was fabulous! A real vacation away, if only for 24 hours. The resort was gorgeous, the food divine, the suite was luxurious – though the bed could have been a touch comfier – and it was a great night away! The property is sprawling and beautiful (West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs resorts are all on the same property) and I didn’t have time to explore but we are already planning on trying to save up to go back next year. It is not a cheap venture but they make the stay and cost worthwhile.

One thing I noticed last night, as I sat and enjoyed a nightcap with my husband in the gorgeous atrium was a feeling of wistfulness. ‘I miss this’, I thought. And what I meant by that was the elegance that I felt. We were n602298132_550114_9256all gussied up and it reminded me of the heyday of my larping, back several years ago when we would dress up for games, play in beautiful spaces, and have a wonderful time with friends. I miss those days. In my mind’s eye, I filled the gorgeous, domed atrium with well-dressed and creatively-costumed people having conversations here and there, a combat being run over there, an boon being negotiated at the next table. I missed it. I missed slipping into the skin of a character who wore elegance like the dress that covered my form. I miss those days. I miss the days of ladies gathered together, lacing corsets, pinning hair, tying ribbons, helping with make-up (a friend drew faint scars on my back once), complimenting costuming. It was not just larp, it was theatre, experience, community. And I miss it. I miss the me that I was when I was in it.

There is a line from a poem that I read lately, “Sometimes I Cry” by Annie Reneau, about being a mother and one line was a real gut-punch for me because it voiced a feeling that I often don’t know if I have a right to and so have been rather ashamed of:

“Sometimes I cry because in the process of gaining you, I gave up a version of me, and though I wouldn’t change that even if I could, sometimes I miss me desperately.”

I do. Sometimes I desperately miss the me that I was, the me that I am beneath the other mantles that I wear. And this short vacation allowed me to shed those mantles for a while and just be Mel for a bit. Not Mommy, not Industrious Student (I officially finished my summer grad courses two days ago), just Mel, and I got to take care of my wants and needs for a bit. And it was refreshing.

Retraction to “Nerdy Imposter”

Justice Magazine: Catwoman by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

I was wrong. I shouldn’t have implied, with yesterday’s post, that, unless you are a die-hard participant of a hobby, you are not a member or part of that community. I definitely did not mean to discourage girls from reading, enjoying, and discussing comicbooks (Stan Lee insists that it is one word, after all) or their movies. Nope! Far from it, as a matter of fact!

I was writing from a personal emotion, a personal feeling of…inadequacy lately. All around, sort of, but particularly in something that I have always enjoyed: comicbook-based conversations. I didn’t feel up to the task of defending my opinions, though why I thought I had to be is still beyond me.  Here is the truth: just because I am not knowledgeable about every nuance of plot or story that the movies I enjoy are based on, it doesn’t mean that I am not a ‘real’ comic book fan.  It doesn’t mean I’m not a ‘real’ geek girl. I know that the answer to feeling like I can’t hold my own in conversation about comics and their movie franchises would be most likely and most easily remedied by actually…you know…reading the comics. An maybe I will get around to it, but it’s not not required to enjoy the films, discuss with my friends, and have my own opinions regardless of their arguments. As I sorted through a small stack of comics, not to mention the ones I bought over the weekend at IndyPop Con, I found myself smiling and sort through and composing stacks to read in my few quiet moments, grinning over some gorgeous Catwoman back issues that I have garnered over the past year or so, safe and sound in their boarded plastic cases.

I may feel like an imposter at times, (and not just with comics) but I’m not. I am a comicbook nerd; my favorite is just Catwoman.  Ben is a comicbook nerd and his favorite is Swamp Thing. I am not an imposter and I was wrong for thinking of myself in such a way. So, please forgive me, dear readers, and I will forgive myself, and we will move forward from here.

Come along, loves! ^_^ There’s stuff to do and things to see!

Nerdy Imposter

Art by Cal Slayton –

Author’s Note: Edited on 6-7-14 for clarity and personal opinion.

I realized the other day that I feel like an imposter. For a while now, I have called myself a nerd, specifically a comic book nerd (Or is it ‘geek’? I don’t know which is the acceptable term now). I mean, we have about four issue storage boxes similar to the one the picture stacked in a corner of our living room by a bookshelf, not to mention two whole shelves of one bookcase for our trade paperbacks, 80% of them mine. So I think I have often thought of myself as the girl in the picture – fun (maybe a little cute and devilish) and geeky, glasses and all. But, as I go to more and more of the comic-based films and, inevitably, debate them afterwards with my husband and my friends, I’m realizing something. I’m realizing that I often feel like an imposter in this particular corner of the popular culture world.

With the releases of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-men: Days of Future Past, and The Amazing Spiderman 2 this spring alone, not to mention Guardians of the Galaxy hyping up and preparing to release in August, I find myself forced to think long and hard before and as I debate these films with others and, usually, they are others who have actually read the comics these movies are based on. For me, here’s how it breaks down, at least the most recent ones:

Captain America – never read a single thing with him, except for the recent A vs. X arc. Never been interested, actually.

X-men: My experience has been sporadic at best. My longest love affair has been with the animated series, The Uncanny X-men, X-men Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-men. I read the comics a great deal in middle school, read some again in college/grad school (only remember one arc that actually made any impact – Wolverine: Return of the Native)and the closest I have come to loyalty lately is the recent Uncanny X-men arc with the proto-mutants, which I a.) collected because the covers were pretty (love the nouveau layouts), b.) Storm was leading the team, and c). the story was interesting. Of course, life got in the way and I got lost on it.

Spiderman: I have not touched a Spiderman title since I was a child and I would grab my uncle’s stack of Spiderman comics, put them beside my grandma’s hammock that was hung up in her front hallway, and swing and read all of a summer afternoon to stay out of the sun and the heat. Those comics are gone by now, rotted to dust in a corner of the storeroom somewhere. And I only remember one or two of them with any sort of vividness.

Catwoman (90s run) issue #37 – Story by Dixon, pencils by Balent, inks by Smith

So maybe you can understand why I tend to feel like imposter. Maybe I’m not a comic book nerd, not really. I do have loyalty but not to a brand or a company. I have loyalty to a single incarnation of a single character: Catwoman. Specifically, her 90s run with the art drawn by Jim Balent. To my mind, she has never been more capable, lovely, or deadly than in this incarnation.  But I posted about that a little over a year ago so I won’t rehash it here.  I love Catwoman; she has been my only ‘real’ loyalty over the years. Batman, my feelings come and go. Superman I can take or leave. Even Wolverine , I run hot and cold at times.  Wait. I think I may have accidentally fibbed. There is one other title that has my love and loyalty and always will, I think: Fables.  But that is a whole other story in and of itself.

So, with this in mind, I’m not entirely sure I have earned the right to call myself a “comic book nerd”. I enjoy comics. They are fun to read. But I am not the girl who will stand there and argue Bone First vs. Adamantium First a la Big Bang Theory. Well, not if I don’t know the right answer right off the bat.  I do love offering theories, though. And I do love continuity, which, of course, X-men plays havoc with all the time, but that’s OK. It’s kind of part and parcel for the universe. But, for all of this, I feel like I’ve maybe been appropriating a title for which I am ill-suited, as silly as that may sound. It’s kind of like Cyanide Happiness comic about  “loving” science. Maybe…maybe I don’t “love” comics so much as I have been ogling Catwoman’s shapely behind for the past twenty years of my life.

It may not be the truth but that is how I feel. Over the past two years, I feel…removed from the hobbies that I love and used to participate avidly in – belly dance, comics, cosplay, and larp/tabletop. I hardly feel worthy of calling myself a ‘bellydancer’, ‘cosplayer’, or ‘larper’ any more either, truth be told. I know that with life comes changes and the finding of a new balance amidst those changes. Maybe that is what I need to work on.