Sunday, March 31, 2013

F#13: Fandom

I am a geek at heart.  I love aliens, space ships, wizards, elves, and magic.  When I was younger, this was something I kept sort-of-secret, mostly because teenage girls who like Star Wars do not get a lot of dates.  (I actually didn't get a lot of dates anyway, so maybe I should have embraced this earlier.)

Now, as an adult, I don't care.  I wear my Star Wars and Doctor Who shirts to work; I drink out of my TARDIS coffee mug.  I participate in Renaissance Faires (another post).  Fandoms have brought me a lot of joy, and a lot of people, so I am not ashamed of myself anymore.  At least not for this.

I entered into the Star Wars fandom between seventh and eighth grade.  This was when the SciFi channel first got its footing, and they would air the Original Trilogy (then, of course, just the Star Wars movies).  I was visiting my cousin in Canada, and a friend of hers had taped them all.  I remember the commercial breaks feature Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher.  Of course, the tape cut off about twenty minutes into Return of the Jedi, so when I got back home at the end of the summer, I begged my mom to rent it so I could find out what happened.  My mom would share with me that, as a tyke, I was terrified of the Ewoks, and that I burst into tears when my first grade gym teacher dressed up as Darth Vader for Halloween.  (Oh, if only we'd all known how my love affair with Darth Vader would proceed.)  After that summer, I was reading the books, getting magazines in the mail, and then there was the Special Editions, and then the promise of the Prequels. There was live-action role-playing online; my teenage bedroom was covered with Han, Leia, and Luke.  I strayed away from the books, and now I am waiting with everyone else to see what Disney has in store for us.

High School saw the development of three fandoms: The X-Files, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star of the Guardians.  The first two were shows I would watch with my mother, and the obsession never reached Star Wars level, I did set my schedules by both shows through high school and college.  The last on the list is a series of books, written by Margaret Weis.  A high school friend introduced me to them, and told me if I didn't read them, she would never forgive me.  Another love affair began, and this one ended up with a tattoo when I was twenty-three.  (Last year, I met Weis at a gaming convention in Boston.  I was all tongue-tied and fan-girl the first time I saw her, but managed to collect my thoughts enough to get a picture with her.  The exact words out of my mouth were, I believe, "I have a tattoo of Star of the Guardians on my back.")  The books are no longer available in print, but they do have digital copies available.  Which is a good thing, as my physical copies are pretty beat up.  I let a lot of people borrow those books over the years.

Harry Potter I got into when I was in college, but only after having seen the first two movies.  The first four books were out when I started reading those, but I still remember the anxiety between five and six, and then six and seven. I had not suffered as other fans had suffered, but getting The Deathly Hallows was an emotional event.

As an adult, I've branched out some more.  The same friend who threatened to disown me over the Weis books worked her evil magic again with a still-growing series by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire.  At least with Star of the Guardians, all four books are out.  Martin is still working on his epic, so I must wait patiently with the rest of the world to see what will happen in Westeros.  HBO gives us Game of Thrones for a few months a year, but I want to know what's NEW, not what has already happened.

My adult-self has also come to embrace Doctor Who.  When the show first started airing in the States, I gave it a go, but wasn't in love with it.  I must not have been in the right head space for it at the time.  Once my fiance and I started dating, and he started watching it, I gave it another go.  This time, I fell in love.  I am half a season behind, as BBC is not a pay-for-stream service, and I am dying to know what happens with Amy and Rory (spoilers!).

There are other series that I enjoy, but not with the same fervor of those listed above.  I was on the Downton Abbey wagon about six months before everyone else in the States; we just finished re-watching (for me, at least) The West Wing, in preparation for season two of The Newsroom this summer.  And, of course, there is the oh-so-trashy True Blood, which is just a train wreck I can't look away from.

All of these things, which made me such an outcast when I was in middle school and high school, have now brought me to some of the best people and experiences I have ever had.  It's still hard to explain some of these fandoms to the people at work, but my students have a surprisingly good grasp on them, which makes my job a little bit more enjoyable.  I now let my geek flag fly whenever I can, and I like to see just who it attracts.

Monday, March 11, 2013

F#12: Finances (The Sequel)

So now that jewelry has been received, it's time to officially begin melding lives, and that includes discussing who makes how much, and what sorts of bills we have that the other person doesn't know about.

I know lots of couples go about this differently: I have some friends who have completely separate checking and savings accounts and one person just writes the other a check when bills come due.  Other couples share everything: checking, savings, and credit cards.  I find this second thing somewhat problematic when it comes to buying each other presents, especially if one person (ex: my sister-in-law, whom I love) is a triple-checker of receipts.  My parents have a combination of the two: most of their money is joint, but they each have "their" credit card for surprises of the Christmas, Birthday, and Anniversary varieties.  

S.O. and I already have partially melded accounts, to avoid the first situation of having to ask for money directly.  But now, with a wedding to save for, and a new life to try to pursue together, for reals, we have to look at our numbers: who owes what to whom.  How much of this is "joint" debt, and how much of it is "solo" debt?  And how quickly can we collectively get out of that debt so we can start using our money for more important/interesting things than car and student loans (you know, FUN stuff)?

My goal as I try to crunch numbers, which makes my head hurt, is to low-ball our income and high-ball (is that even a phrase in this case?) our outcome.  Then, hopefully, we can eat for two weeks until the next paycheck comes in.  And occasionally go have outings with other people and not just stare at the cats (see first Finances post).

(Tangentially--freakin' electric bills!  Does anyone else just ask themselves how it's even possible to spend that much money on something one is not home to use for nine hours at a clip--at the least?)

Also, the numbers never fall quite right.  If one looks at the totally monthly income, everything is fine.  But to look at how the income is split, versus when the bills are due, there is always some sort of discrepancy. (Or maybe that's just us.)

(Tangentially the Second--I don't know why I am the person who is dealing with the bills, either.  Numbers...not so much my forte.  My mother was the bill payer when I was growing up, so I guess I just assumed the role because that was all I knew.)

So, if we can't eat, but we can be debt free, at least I'll look really good in my wedding dress. :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

F#11: Fiance

After almost four and half years of dating, my significant other has become my fiance. The official date was Feb. 24, 2013, but we had to wait a few days to go truly public so S.O. could tell parents and grandparents.

I don't know how I expected I would get engaged.  I dated another person for five years starting in college, and we broke it off because he didn't appear to want to get married.  When the S.O. and I started dating, there were a lot of factors that led to that sort of forward thing to be back-burner material.

I sometimes imagined a big spectacle, in front of total strangers, or family and friends.  But I also am someone who HATES spectacle, especially when I am the focus of it.  (Please, do not have the wait staff come over and sing to me for my birthday.  I will leave the restaurant and wait for you all in the car.)  I had envisioned a huge diamond, flanked by sapphires.  

What I got, of course, was much better.  In keeping with truth, I was having a bit of a "where is my life going?" breakdown on the night in question.  I was crying quite a bit.  The S.O. disappeared for a moment, after he was sure I was at least temporarily done with the sobbing, and reappeared.  After some words of encouragement, he did get down on one knee and gave me the ring I really wanted--my paternal great-grandmother's engagement ring.   I cried again, obviously, and then said yes.  So my engagement happened in our pajamas, in front of our cats, at 10:30 at night.

Given my phobia of spectacle, I did not make a big announcement at work.  I told one colleague immediately, because she was excellent at decoding Facebook statuses.  I waited until the Wednesday after to tell some more colleagues, but have been keeping it on the down low because...well, I get super red in the face and it's not a good look for me.  No one I work with seems to understand why I am not jumping up and down screaming this.  It's not that I'm not happy...I am positively elated that it is MY turn.  I get to wear the dress, plan the wedding, and cry the tears.  By previous generations' standards, I am positively an old maid!

So, the S.O. and I are getting used to rolling the words fiance/fiancee around on our tongues.  We are bracing ourselves for every conversation to begin with "What dates are you looking at?"  We prepare for debates over guest lists and locations.  But then I get to look at my left hand, and see Bomba's ring on my finger (a ring that fits perfectly) and I am so excited that it doesn't even matter.