London and Me, or Two Ships that Almost Passed in the Night: Part 1

I’ve touched some heavy topics like depression, racism and the impact of Richard Armitage’s facial hair. It’s time to move on a lighter topic: London!

I left off blogging about the suspenseful 4th week on medication. Ordinarily this would have been only me and my shrink heaving a sigh of relief as Winston morphed into a pug and hid in my bag. But I also had a long standing problem demanding resolution. In January, I purchased tickets to see two performances of Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant (my Other Squee) and Catherine Tate in London for the third week of June. In March, my computer fell ill with a virus, causing me to lose about everything including my ticket reservation code and dates. I tentatively planned to leave Saturday, June 18th and spend a week there. But as Winston dragged me down, it became unlikely I had the mental wherewithal to do anything, much less vacation alone in a foreign country even though I’d been there many times. I renewed my passport and had it expensively expedited. I moped and procrastinated and despairingly checked the expensive air fares. My friends asked how I would cope if something bad happened? (My backpack with passport was stolen on an earlier trip.) I suspected not well. Still it galled that I would miss seeing DT and the city I loved.

The 4th week when my medication kicked in was the same week I’d planned to leave. As I sat talking to my shrink on June 16th, an inner voice I’d not heard in a while spoke up. Not sure whether Freud would have called this my id, ego or super ego, but I call her Jada. Jada suggested that since I was so much better the trip could still be salvaged; I could get there in time to see the second show (I was convinced the tickets were for the following Tuesday and Thursday. Remember that, dear reader.) Dr. G. thought this an excellent idea. I thought my chances of finding a relatively decent air fare on short notice was as good as getting the stars’ autographs – meaning nil. (Remember that one too.) That night I found the cheapest fare yet and a Bed & Breakfast to boot. So I booked everything. This was Thursday, June 16th. I was to leave Tuesday night, June 21st. This was my shortest turnaround for a trip ever. I’d never been on a trip alone so that was a bit scary. But I would see DT onstage again and London after all.

I was a happy camper through better chemistry, so I was chuffed.

Next: Travel Trauma!

On Meeting A Fellow Fan: the Other Fan

Yesterday Servetus posted about meeting a fellow fan on Saturday but mentioned no name.

I’m the mystery fellow fan.

She wrote in a circumspect manner so that I could decide whether to blog or not.  My hesitation wasn’t due to Servetus, she’s exactly the way she seemed otherwise:  intelligent, accomplished, perceptive, funny, empathetic, engaging and approachable. Part of my reluctance was because I felt unable to legitimately talk about our meeting without talking about past experiences. I stated in an earlier post that fandom was one of this blog’s topics.  It’s turned out to be a tricky and touchy subject to discuss and it’s hard to decide where to begin. This is as good a point as any.

When Servetus first suggested meeting, I was surprised but enthusiastic. I’ve met many people, over the years in Star Trek and then most significantly, Doctor Who fandom, both collectively at conventions and separately.  Generally it’s been a positive experience.  Two people I met through DW are still my best friends 15 later.  Many from DW fandom follow each other on Facebook.  I met up with friends in London last month with whom I have kept in touch with on Twitter and it was if I’d just seen them last year. Passion for the show has waxed and waned but people still remain friends.  I’m connected to a nice circle of people for such disparate backgrounds and countries.  We are diverse but like-minded in valuing respect, equality, common decency, debate and civility. When the chips are done, we have supported and defended each other against those who violate those values.  Everybody can vouch for each other (or find somebody who can); it’s a safe circle. And it all started on the internet, with nobody knowing each other in real life.  I particularly appreciate this safety because it’s kept me insulated from certain unpleasantness.

After Servetus and I agreed to meet, I was excited that we were part of the first group in ArmitageWorld to cross the boundary from virtual to real life.  We were ArmitageWorld pioneers who would meet each other then two more and they would meet two more and so on and so on, just like that old shampoo commercial.  Then I remembered nobody had ever seen me in this fandom and an ugly old potential problem reared it’s head: racism.  I’m African-American.  In an ideal world that shouldn’t matter but on two occasions it shockingly mattered, once before they ever met me, the other long after.  To say I was stunned is an understatement and since then I’ve been acutely conscious that internet anonymity is a double edged sword.  It can afford the freedom to explore oneself but it can also conceal.  My circle rallied to me and gave those two hell but still I was hurt.

So I addressed the issue directly with Servetus.  She was at first flippant (hope you don’t mind I’m white!), reassuring, then concerned which turned to dismay and sadness when I explained I didn’t suspect her of bigotry; I simply needed to clear the air to avoid any ugly surprises.  This is the world in which I live, the mythical post-racial America. It’s a problem not likely to go away in my lifetime.

stock vector peopleAs I said earlier, my fandom experiences have been mostly positive.  I enjoy virtual friendships and getting to know people online.  However as Servetus blogged about identity, I can only see the face a person presents to the world, the public persona.  I can gauge and assess what a person’s true persona might be to a degree, if they are not hiding behind a mask, but it’s not until I cross the boundary from virtual to reality and actually  interact with and observe that person’s expressions, gestures, demeanor, personality, and attitude that I can lay a foundation for a meaningful lasting friendship.  I noticed on Servetus’s blog that other fans are suggesting doing the same.  I heartily encourage this.  The virtual world and the internet have its uses, but crossing into real life is priceless.


To The Wilds of Ohio

Well, it’s the wilds to me; I’m a city gal, born and bred.  I enjoy staying in the country with almost unbroken vistas of corn and wheat fields, blue skies, and fresh air except when the fragrant aroma of cow manure blows my way.  I’m told pig and skunk is even worse.  I’ll take their word for it.

As I drag out the suitcase, this song always pops into my head.  The words are bittersweet and nothing to do with me, but my mind playing it.  I suppose the line “I’m leaving on jet plane.  I don’t know when I’ll be back again” offers the fantasy of what it would be like to have the freedom not to return.

I wonder what the Power Ball lottery jackpot is now.


Roughing It

I was working on the next post when I realized it wouldn’t be ready for prime time before I leave for the long holiday weekend on Friday.  For the past 15 years I meet with two buddies (who I met in a fandom online) at cabin located in forest preserve on a man-made lake.  It’s a cozy little place with a 3-season from which we can observe nature on 3 sides without getting eaten alive by the bugs. It has the creature comforts like electricity, cable and internet.  However this year there won’t be cable and therefore no internet.

You might find this funny, but the idea of no internet is daunting.  I can do without a telephone. I don’t have to turn on the TV.  I can leave the microwave. But no internet? We are hard core geeks who think nothing of arriving for a visit and the first thing we do is plug in the laptops to check email.  We’ve been known to chat together online while sitting in the same house.  I’ve not a clue how we will survive this.  The friend with cabin (who happens to be my computer guru) promises we can retreat to some local wi-fi hot spots if the shakes get top bad and troubleshoot my WordPress problems.  She also reminded me the cabin isn’t completely in a dead zone; I will be able to get 3G access on my iPhone  if I perch like a crane on the dock with my arm stretched perpendicular to the 3rd tree on the left.  Or something like that.   I could weep.

She added my relaxation will be supplemented with reading real books with pages, talking (face to face!), playing board and card games, and going to the movies.  It’s new-fangled way of old social interaction.  It will be like the days when we had no air conditioning, only one TV with four channels, snail mail, and no McDonald’s.    My childhood is flashing before my eyes. This will be like, you know, before civilization.

But if she tells me there will be no electricity, I’m walking 40 miles upstream one way to the airport.

I hope everybody has a peaceful, restful weekend.  Here is somebody else in restful repose:

Richard Armitage in 2004 promotion shoot; Courtesy