My Mother and Princess Leia

This special blog post is in honor of Mother’s day and I would like to devote it to my mother, my hero.

It was by the poolside at the Phoenecian Hotel that my first acquaintance with Princess Leia happened. I was about six years old and had yet to be introduced to the franchise which would change my life. Carrie Fischer was sunbathing by the pool and my mother came up to me in the kittie pool saying “Carrie Fischer is over there!” My father seemed impressed, but I had no idea what an impact the woman sitting feet away from me would play in my life or what influence she would have over my mother.

After this, of course, my parents amended their catastrophic mistake and I was introduced to Star Wars. I became totally obsessed with it. I mean, of course I was in love with Princess Leia  but not the way most little girls are. I could not own enough Star Wars merchandise, though there was precious little of it to be found at the time. I spent weekends light saber battling anyone who would challenge. I was one of only two kids in my elementary school who were obsessed with Star Wars. The franchise was still old, this was before the revamping of it through episodes I, II and III. Because of this, I was outcast and constantly bullied for my love of Star Wars, but my adoration of Princess Leia remained steadfast and carried me through.

Fast forward about ten years…

December 12th was like any other Sunday during Christmas time. I spent some time at my father’s house decorating the Christmas tree with my brother. It was at this point that my aunt called because she had received a call from my mother’s neighbor that her garage door was open. My mother lives with her cat Jebidiah and runs every morning at a local track. She is a first grade teacher and spends most of her time grading or doing lesson plans when not at work. Anyway, it was unusual for my mother to leave her garage door open so I drove back across town to pull it down and make sure it was working properly. Mom still had not returned home and I checked her calendar, but she had nothing written down. I called my aunt back and let her know the garage door was down. My aunt is somewhat hysterical and immediately started dreaming up the worst scenarios. I reassured her that I would check back at 9:00pm and if mom was not back we would start calling the necessary people. While 8:00pm is not late for most anyone it was late for my mother to be out, but I had no reason to worry that anything was wrong…yet…

My partner and I had just finished eating dinner when 9:00pm came around. My sneakers were hovering over the threshold to our apartment when my phone rang. It was a hidden number which is highly suspicious since the invention of caller ID, but as I had not heard from my mother I had begun to worry so I answered anyway.

“Hello, this is Police Chief ‘so and so’ I have your mother,” is the last phrase any daughter wants to hear. I stopped dead. We were out the door and down the street in a heartbeat.

IMG_20170111_134708_692A two month hospital stay ensued. It was a roller coaster of the fiercest emotions that I have ever experienced. As an adult, you face the harsh reality of your parents mortality. My mother was the healthiest person I knew and, not just me, she was the healthiest person everyone knew. She was the last person any of us expected to end up incapacitated in the ICU for a month. To watch the strongest woman you know suffer one of the most painful transformations anyone can changes you. It affects you in a way nothing else can affect you, but life imitates art just as art imitates life.

It was on one such day in the ICU at mother’s bedside where we heard the tragic news. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom had just begun to form speech and was cleared for solid foods only hours before. We were watching her favorite channel, Fox News, the only thing from her old life she had been able to bring into her dismal white room. And then it happened. The little white words flashed at the bottom of the screen announcing the death of Carrie Fischer.

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Digital image. Http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/12/27/reaction-death-carrie-fisher-princess-leia-star-wars. Fox News, n.d. Web. As seen on Happening Now

I cried out so loudly that nurses ran to the room. Like Anakin crying out into the volcanic air of Mustafar I cried for the first time since my mother had entered the hospital. Her stay, so intertwined with my female idol that the two were inseparable. I stared at the screen unbelieving as tears streamed down my face. I had been following this story since it broke that Carrie had been taken to the ICU. In some catastrophic twist of fate my predicament paralleled Carrie Fischer’s, from Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe to Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles the two women I idolized most fought for their lives. If Carrie Fisher survived so would my mother I thought.

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T’was not to be for the actress I idolized above all others, but my mother looked death in the face twice and recovered from a sickness few live to tell about. It truly was a Christmas miracle, but even as we celebrate her health or cry over our shared experience there is a sadness that inevitably surfaces for Carrie Fischer and her dear mother who would sooner die than live another day without her daughter. So, on this day for children to celebrate the mothers in their lives I beg each and every one of you to hold your mother close. Give her a big hug for me because you never know how long you have them.

 

 

Jodelle Ferland and the Women of the Raza in Denver

We drove into Denver on a rainy night after having passed at least three large military convoys going the opposite direction. After a five hour drive we circled the downtown Marriott three times before realizing we were at the wrong hotel. Another twenty minute drive found us clearing the doors of the Marriott Denver Tech Center. Just to make sure we were in the right place I went in to ask the front desk and, who should be manning it, but an old theater friend from high school. How crazy is it that I had to travel three hundred and ninety three miles to reunite with someone I knew in high school? Anyway, her friendly face was a great kickoff to the weekend. She checked us into our room which was beautiful, spacious and well furnished. While the bathroom was smaller, the gray scale layout of the room was so worth it. We went down in search of food and found Pint Brother’s Ale House still open. They extended their hours for the con which was much appreciated. The Ale House sits IMG_20170421_220936746in the center of a large open space which served as the entry to the con, the writer’s booths, the photo shoot area and the guest autograph tables. We had hoped to get to the hotel early enough to enjoy the last events of the night, but our detour delayed us enough that we missed check in which ended at 10:00pm. There were some last minute touches to accessories for our costumes to do so we took our lighter outside to the smoking area and finished off the edges of the holsters for Two’s guns. We crashed pretty quickly after this.

Day 2

We got up early to apply makeup and wigs. When we were fully costumed we took the elevator down to take on the con. A photographer from BentoByte immediately pulled us aside for a photo and we were pretty confident about our cosplays until we got to the registration table. As we were getting our wrist bands a sign above the table dashed our plans for the day. Poor Jodelle Ferland missed her flight and would only be there for Sunday. While we were disappointed, we understood and immediately went up to the room to switch cosplays. IMG_20170422_123758_991.jpgMy hair had been pretty smashed in order to get into the wig. (We forgot my wig cap) So, the 11th Doctor’s hair was slightly less airborne than I had hoped. But with the magical powers of hairspray and dry shampoo I was able to get it into a shape that read 11. @skyberry13 was Amy Pond with the Silence marks all over her hands. We attended the cosplay meetup at the sub-con WhoFest where panels and events related to Dr. Who were held. The moderates of this panel did not keep an even dialogue allowing one person to dominate the meetup so we left early, but there were plenty of doctors and some really great cosplays of all ages.

Fortunately, Jodelle’s cancellation meant that we got to attend Hale Appleman’s panel which we would have missed because of our photo with Jodelle. His panel was amazing! It was his first convention and he came across as truly genuine interacting with everyone who asked a question, asking their name and even remembering the names of those he had spoken to previously at his table. He was asked to do a spell and he showed us his favorite spell that had been cut from the show which included some wide hand motions he described as “Mickey Mouse like.”

Afterwards we attended Kaai in Cosplay’s Panel “Everything About Wigs.” This is probably the most informative cosplay panel we have ever been to. Kaai was interactive with the audience and, while everything on his slides was related to the panel he was not reading off of the slides the entire time. He explained about the construction of wigs from the inside out and all the fiber types wigs are made of. He demonstrated which fibers were best by throwing around a wig made of the best fibers into the audience and, when it returned to him after playing beach ball for a while, it was easily tamed. There were many plugs for Epic Cosplay Wigs, which is a company Kaai actually works for. He announced Epic Cosplay Wigs’ upcoming release of a color wheel for their wig selection and that his slideshow was available on their website. So, the panelist was extremely qualified and knowledgeable about his subject and, while we did not get to attend any more, he did many other cosplay panels of similar quality I’m sure. There was a Barris cosplayer at this panel we got to talk to briefly and her cosplay was really good. Barris and Asohka is a dream cosplay of mine.IMG_20170422_181319799

We also met some cosplayers who were dressed as Madame Vastra and Jenny, another dream cosplay of ours, and theirs was really good too. I asked about Vastra’s prosthetic and she said, while it was a year old and did not fully fit her face the same since she lost weight, it still worked. So, she suggested creating the prosthetic closest to when you are going to wear it.

IMG_20170422_163858988We were going to attend the “Weathering” panel which was being held in the model room, but when we got there we found a life sized Tardis model and ended up just taking pictures with that for a while. Before the costume contest we got a drink at the pop up bar for the con and then we made our way to the auditorium.

Now, the costume contest was advertised as “King Arthur and Wonder Woman Present the Costume Contest,” which was deceptive in that it implies cosplayers dressed as King Arthur and Wonder Woman are MC-ing the costume contest. This was not the case, in fact the movie franchises of King Arthur and Wonder Woman sponsored the contest including providing the prizes. For this reason the contest was preceded by trailers of both of these movies which look really good. I think this was genius on their part marketing to a perfect target audience. Anyway, it is very sad that they were not MC-ing the contest for the person who actually did was a vile old man. He turned a hopefully two hour long contest into a three and a half hour ordeal. It did go on longer than that, we just bailed after three and a half hours so we could eat before going to bed. When we left it was 10:00PM. He said many off color things both about contestants, the hotel and the poor people working the projector for him in the back. So, while the entire contest was tainted by his constant monologuing and literally taking contestants by the hand to walk them to all three points marked on the stage, (yes he really did this) there were some amazing costumes. The first category was children and there was this really adorable Link who could not have been more than three years old. The second category was Juniors where youth showed off their costumes. The rest of the categories were by genre of which there were three. The horror genre featured a costume I do not know the name of, but whose performance featured splashing fake blood. We only got through one more category after that before we called it quits. Props to all the contestants who put up with the unprofessional behavior of the moderator and to all those who won that we did not get to see. We ate a quick dinner at the Ale House and went to bed.

Day 3

Sunday started out much like Saturday in that we got up early to adorn our wigs, costumes and makeup. It included some extra fitting for our cosplay guest and her holsters. She had not been available to fit certain parts of her costume to her. It was also my first attempt at holsters. If you check out our cosplay Pinterest you will find the reference videos and tutorials I used. Unfortunately, the outfit we went with for Two involved black suede leggings. While they looked awesome and sold her look, the holsters did not stay where they were supposed to no matter how tightly fitted they were. So, throughout the day our poor cosplay guest was pulling them up. We adjusted them properly for pictures, but otherwise they hung at her knees.

We started the day at the professional photo booth, Fanta Scenes Photography, 3620a.jpggetting pictures of our costumes before they were ruined throughout the day. The photographer was great and was one of the few people who knew who we were that day. Once we finished up there we hit up the dealers room for things we had been scoping out that day. @skyberry13 really wanted Hale Appleman’s autograph so we bought a cool print of him magic-ing a drink. When we got it autographed Hale seemed pretty exhausted, but was sweet as he had been all weekend. I expect that’s how everyone looks at the end of their first convention.

Next, was a panel @skyberry13 had been very much looking forward to since reading the schedule. There were so many incredible panels and events we did not get to attend, as this convention was jam packed with great geekiness. Anyways, this particular panel was titled: the “Who is Your Favorite Princess?” Luau; which, as you can expect, involved a lead panelist who was dressed as Moana. There were Hawaiian snacks and punch to enjoy as we filled out a Disney Trivia Quiz including questions as easy as ‘In what Disney movie does the song Be Our Guest in,’ to questions as difficult as ‘What was Cinderella’s stepmother’s name?’ (Lady Tremane btw, we got this one wrong) There was also a drawing throughout the panel. We were given tickets as we came in and Moana called out a number every once in a while. @skyberry13 won some Disney Princess wall decals!

There were many backdrops throughout the hotel that were great for photos so we took some time to get cosplay selfies for our own use. Our cosplay guest has a great phone, the Google Pixel, with a really nice camera that takes high quality pictures, so we used it to get some great shots of our costumes. While we were taking selfies like complete dorks Jodelle Ferland walks by and asks if she can get a picture with us. She recognized us from Twitter and wanted to share us with their Dark Matter group chat. Of course this made us totally ecstatic!

Pretty soon afterwards it was time for the long awaited arrival of Jodelle Ferland and her Q&A session. This panel was preceded by “Inventing the Future-Designs for Star Trek by Richard Sternbach,” which we got to see the end of. His sketches were the original designs of many of the Star Trek space stations and ships, which were pretty incredible. He even showed us some mock ups that were never made or entered into the show. When Jodelle took the stage she immediately noticed us in the audience, which may have been because I had the misfortune of sitting in a spotlight, that and my unique hairdo. Jodelle’s panel was great, the fans that asked questions were very respectful of her time and asked on topic questions. Unfortunately, that moderator from the costume contest was onstage with her and tried desperately to dominate the questions. Being a con-goer herself, Jodelle was well versed in convention etiquette and was able to answer all her fan questions with gratifying answers in a timely manner. There were some great questions about her future cosplay plans and, of course, season three of Dark Matter. She kept Syfy Wire’s secrets for the show, but assured us that as a fan she loved the upcoming season and thought that we would too.

After her panel was the photo session which is what we had been so looking forward to. When it was our turn, however, disaster struck. We had purchased photo tickets for Jodelle online when we bought our tickets for the convention and no description on the Star Fest Denver website notified or drew attention to the fact that there was a change in protocol beginning this year. This protocol was a greedy pass that is not common procedure at any convention we have ever been to and, therefore, we were oblivious to it. Star Fest Denver now charges for the amount of people in the photo, not the photo itself. So, we were one ticket short for our photo with Jodelle which resulted in an embarrassing display by the convention staff in front of this guest. While Jodelle sweetly tried to diffuse the situation, offering to take the photo and then we would buy the additional ticket, the staff continued arguing both with her and us. IMG_20170424_083232653We ended up taking the photo and, Jodelle tried to give us a good experience, but it was pretty tainted. We went to purchase the additional ticket and the staff at that table was rude to us as well. The photos took forever to print and were not organized in the order they were taken. It took them two and a half hours to print ours which delayed our five hour drive home far into the afternoon.

When we finally got to the autograph table we had a nice conversation with Jodelle which softened the entire experience. She loved the ear cuff that I made for @skyberry13‘s costume and the suede pants for Two. She asked about how we made the wig for Five and we gave her our cosplay card. Meeting her was an amazing experience that was totally worth a five hour drive back to Santa Fe.