Happy Birthday Amber!

Amber Eowyn

We may not have travelling pants, but there are a few dresses that have changed hands more than once. That’s right. Today, on her birthday, I’m talking about my sister. Amber Ananda Ensign was born on March 25th 19somethingsomething.* I was very excited because I wanted a sister. I was less excited when my parents didn’t take my suggestion and name her “Golden Hair”. (I’m pretty sure I’m remembering that right. Apparently I listened to a lot of America when I was four.)

When we were young, Amber and I were very different—and not just because I was five years older, and when you’re a kid, five years is a near-insurmountable gulf. It was more that Amber knew her mind from moment one. I don’t think my mom ever picked out school clothes for Amber. She knew what she wanted to wear from kindergarten on, and she’d even change clothes several times a day when she wasn’t at school. I think my mom was picking my clothes for me well through elementary school. I just didn’t care. Amber knew from a very young age what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to be a librarian. So that’s exactly what she did. (I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.**)

Amber and E 1

Now that we’re both grown up (or at least slightly more mature than when we were kids), we’re much more alike. Our nerdiness and passion for books and media have brought us together even closer than a mere blood bond could. She’s turned me on to so many of the things I love–Gilmore Girls, Kimagure Orange Road (the tv series), the Realm of the Elderlings series from Robin Hobb, Travis, Nickel Creek, even social media. She’s the one who encouraged me to join Facebook and Twitter. If not for the latter, I wouldn’t be married and living in Canada right now. So yeah, I owe her a great debt! Or many of them… In return, I recently turned her on to the world of podcasts. She has a longish commute, which is now filled up with audio goodness. Okay, much of it contains me, so I’m a little biased there.

It’s neat knowing my little sis will be hearing everything I say on podcasts. Even though we don’t talk on the phone/Skype as much as we probably should, I feel like I’m talking to her a little bit every week, and she’s told me she feels that too. I hadn’t thought of podcasts as a way to keep in touch, but it turns out they fulfill that function in some small way. Right now I’m kicking myself for not being utterly nepotistic and wishing her a happy b-day on the Verity! ep that came out this morning. We’ve been recording so far ahead that I forgot it would come out today. Sorry Amber!

In addition to excellent taste, Amber has great strength. She was diagnosed with MS a few years back, and despite the uncertainty of that awful disease and the difficulty of dealing with its symptoms, she’s persevered and continued to be an exceedingly good reference librarian, a doting kitty-mom,*** a generous friend, a loyal girlfriend, a loving daughter, and the best sister anyone could hope for.

So today I’m more homesick than I have been in a very long time because it doesn’t seem right not to be able to hug my sister on her special day. I hope this post is a decent substitute.

Amber and E 2°






*I didn’t clear this with her first, so I’m just gonna leave her exact birthday off this post. The pictures though? Sister’s prerogative. They stay. Speaking of, that first pic is of Amber in 2007. That’s not just a costume, people. She was LARPing in Ring Game, and if I’m remembering correctly, she was playing Eowyn. Yep. My sis’s geek cred is substantial.

**I suspect it has something to do with podcasting, so maybe I can give young-Erika a break, as podcasts didn’t exist back then. Of course podcasting isn’t exactly something too many folks can do for a living, so I guess I still don’t know what I want to be.

***Her cat Tristan assures me this is true.

°Yes, that is a terrible picture of me. But it’s a great pic of Amber, so I’m including it. I’m that good a sister.


Patron-inspired posts are back! I’ve been quiet for a while, but I hope to change that in the coming month.


I’m a big Romana fan from way back. As I’ve said before, Romana 1 is (often*) my favorite companion of all time. But she’s not the Romana I’m here to talk about. Today, I’m talking about Romana 2, and I’m still pretty thrilled about it. When I was younger, I waffled back and forth as to which was my favorite incarnation. The reason I often wobbled back to Lalla Ward’s portrayal was she was still “Romana”—as smart and savvy as ever, but she was just so gosh darn warm. Her Romana was a more open and instantly-friendly** version, and that suited (and suits) me just fine.***

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about good old Romana II here is one of my fabulous patrons, Darren, requested it! But the excitement I feel isn’t just because I get to talk about my beloved Romana 2. Continue reading

Presta Shobogan, Elven Ranger


As promised, today I’m sharing my newest D&D character—the one I’m currently playing in Season 3 of Total Party Kill.* We’re playing “Dungeons and Dragons”, which I think is a dumb name—not the name itself, but the fact that Wizards of the Coast isn’t including an edition number. Like this is the be-all, end all of all D&D forever. We’re nerds. We like numbering things and putting them in order. Have they not read their own books? D&D is all about** minutiae like that!

Okay. Sorry. /rant

So yeah, we’re playing what everyone refers to as Continue reading


D&D dice & 5e PHB

As I type this,* it’s Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. As much as I love watching a good awards show (I really do), instead of watching the Oscars tonight, I get to do something even better. I get to play D&D online with a bunch of talented and funny people. I’ve been playing D&D with The Incomparable crew since June of last year, but we’ve just recently switched campaigns (back to the Dark Sun campaign they all started well over a year ago), so I got to do something I both love and hate– Continue reading

Ode to Gally

Frazer and me Gally 2015

Dearest Gally,

How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways.
I miss thee to the depth and breadth and height (of the LAX Marriott).
My soul is bleak when cosplay’s out of sight.
For the days of meeting in ideal space (Programs A, B, C, D, E).
I miss thee to the level of each con day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and poolside-light.
I miss thee freely, as Lobbycon night.
I miss thee purely, as LA sun’s rays.
I miss thee with passion Gally sets loose
For my beloved show, my childhood fave.
I miss thee for the stress I seem to lose
With my first drinks. I miss thee with the breath,
Smiles, squees, of all my fandom; and, I muse,
I shall but miss thee more until the next.

(Apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.)

Coming back to real life after a convention is never easy. After Gallifrey One, it’s even more difficult. It’s the one time of year when I’m surrounded by the greatest number of my closest friends. When I can make a joke about a Jameson bottle cosplaying as a Sea Devil, and the whole room gets the joke. There are no words to describe just how important this trip is to me, so I’m not going to try. What feels easier at the moment are words about trying to put myself back into the “real” world.

Unpacking all the lovely geeky t-shirts (some new!) I wore on stage? Heartbreaking.

The shock of having to wake up early, not for a panel or an interview, but for a cold, snowy trip to the office? No thanks.

The coworker who asked about my trip only to be polite so she could immediately talk at length about her own personal news? I could do without.

A day full of email triage and scrambling to document everything that got missed while I was gone? Dreadful.

Having to rush to the library at lunch to pick up a comic book for podcast homework? … Actually, that one’s pretty okay.

And with that, I’ve reminded myself there are parts of “real life” that are gosh-darned great. I encourage all my fellow travelers experiencing Gally-withdrawal to look for those bright spots and hold onto them nice and tight. That’s what I plan on doing! …Until May 1st at 11am Mountain Time,* at which point, the jonesing will start up again. It’s a vicious cycle, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything.





*That’s when Gally 2016 tickets go on sale!

Note: That picture is of me interviewing Jamie McCrimmon himself, Frazer Hines!

Gallifrey Bound!

Gally 26

Is there anything more distracting than having only two more days of work before leaving for a much-anticipated vacation?* Because that’s what I’ll be experiencing as this post drops. As you read this, I’m probably struggling with my brain, telling it to read those emails and document those issues when all it wants to do is think of California sun and Doctor Who fans and guests and guests who are fans.

That’s right. Wednesday morning, Steven and I will be waking up bright and early** to head for the airport to take us to Los Angeles for the Gallifrey One convention.  I cannot wait. I’ve only been going for a few years, but I already think of it as my “primary” con. It’s where I get to see many of my favorite people, most of whom I only get to see once a year. Chatting on Twitter or on Skype is quite nice, but there’s something special about the energy in the room when we can get together and talk face-to-face. And hugs! I miss hugging my friends.


In addition to prodigious amounts of hanging with my friends, I’ll also be doing my usual couple of panels (italicized descriptions are lifted right from the program materials, found here***):

Rivers and Captains and Teachers of Maths
6:30pm – Friday in Program D
From River Song to Captain Jackº and Danny Pink, from Madame Vastra’s Paternoster Gang to Mickey Smith and Wilf, Osgood and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart too… we love our recurring players in Doctor Who. Our panel will take a look at what the supporting cast has brought over the years, from the long-running to the one-shots (Astrid Peth and Santa, anyone?), and how they’ve enriched the universe of Doctor Who.

Twelfth Nights
1pm Sunday – Program C
Love him or loathe him, revel in his adventures or scratch the collective head – reactions to the adventures of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor in his inaugural year have been as varied as they are fervent. We’ll discuss the first season of adventures of the Twelfth Doctor in detail, hitting high points and low, and discuss how Doctor Who has changed over the past ten years to lead up to this moment of Capaldi’s older, more abrasive take on the role.


Okay, here we get to the truly exciting (and possibly terrifying) part. This year, for the first time ever, I’ll be doing some on-stage interviews. Truth-be-told, I’m thrilled about this, and I’m (mostly) expecting they’ll go great. But it’s a new thing for me, and I always have trouble with new things, so if you’ll be at Gally, and have some free time Saturday morning, I’d be mighty obliged if you showed up and pretended to be entertained. I mean, I’d rather you actually be entertained, but I’ll take fake enthusiasm too!

Anyway, here are when those are happening:

Gary Russell
10am Saturday – Program B

Frazer Hines
10:45am Saturday – Program B

I’m truly honored to be able to do these, and I hope I do them justice. I adore Gary Russell, and he’s a consummate pro when in the interviewer chair, so I’m pleased he’s up first. I’ve seen Frazer in interviews, and he’s as delightful as he is experienced at these things, so I feel like I’m in good hands in both cases. Still though, the more support I have in the audience, the better!

For those of you not heading to LA this week, I hope whatever you do is even half as thrilling as Gally will be for me. Seriously. Enjoy the heck out of yourselves. I know I will be!





*Okay, maybe having just one more day will be even worse.

**Though less early than we had to for our last trip. 3am was just too darn early. 6am is more doable.

***If you’re curious what my fellow Verities will be up to, look no further!

ºI hope to avoid the argument about whether Captain Jack (or anyone else) is actually a companion. I don’t have a whole lot of hope though.

My Suggestion: Courage


Today I suggested a thing. It doesn’t matter what the thing is, what matters is how I felt about the thing. I had a suggestion for a group of colleagues, and I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I’d been thinking about it a while. It was something that had bothered me, and I wanted it changed, but I wasn’t sure if it was bothering anyone else. In fact, I rather suspected it was just me, and I would sound like a nitpicky complainer if I brought it up.

So I didn’t—at least not for a while. This was what I like to call “Past-E” taking control. Growing up (and actually into college and beyond), I was always incredibly shy. I was also convinced that my opinion didn’t (and shouldn’t) hold as much weight as pretty much anyone else’s. I was meek with a capital ME. Over the years I’ve managed to shed a lot of that, but clearly not all, because I hesitated so long with this thing.

So anyway, it finally bothered me enough that I brought it up. In an email, I explained what was was bothering me. I laid out what we could do to change it. I even explained why I thought making that change midstream might be an asset, rather than making us look like we were inconsistent. Pressing Send was much more difficult than I’d’ve expected. My heart was in my throat, and as I hit the button, I clenched my eyes closed and silently said “screw it!” Then I sat on tenterhooks, waiting for the first reply. And guess what?

I wasn’t the only one bothered by this thing.

The first response started with “Oh thank the goddess it’s not just me.” And then more responses flowed in. Everybody was annoyed by it! In addition to a profound sense of relief, I experienced a mild wave of self-kicking.* Why be so nervous about having an idea? What’s the realistic worst that’s going to happen? People will say no, and life will move on. Such a small risk when on the other side you have the possibility of improving your life/work/day/whatever.

It reminds me of being in high school and being afraid to ask questions. (I almost never raised my hand in class.) When someone else asked a question I was thinking of (but too scared to ask), I’d breathe a silent thank-you to them. I now wonder about all my unasked questions. How many similarly-shy kids were wondering the same things?

So if you’ve had an idea and been afraid to put it out there, I encourage you to do it. You may not be the only one who’s thinking it!





*Note: It was mild. I’m getting better and better with the self-recriminations. Nowadays it’s more like laughing at myself than actual anger. And yay for that!