The leave-taking on Monday morning was as wistful and melancholy as ever. It’s hard saying goodbye to friends knowing I’m not gonna see them for a whole year. At least the trip home was smooth and trouble-free, and I had lots of warm memories to combat the cold in Edmonton. Happily, we didn’t even have to clear any snow off the car in the airport parking lot.
I’ve spent some time thinking about this year’s Gally, not just the events, but some of the things I noticed about myself and others. Things I liked, and things I didn’t. I want to cover a couple of them here.
Come Together, Right Now, Oh Gally
One of my favorite things to see at conventions is people who kinda know each other (or only know each other online) getting to meet and spend time together. This is especially great when they get along as well (or better) in person as they do online. This happens left and right at Gally, but a few instances stood out to me in particular.
A couple of these involve my Incomparable pal Jason. This was Jason’s third Gally, but only his second consecutively. Sometimes it takes a while to be fully assimilated/accepted into a group, and I think this is the year Jason melded with my corner of the DW podcaster crew. (I love spending time with lots of different folks at Gally, and there are a gazillion fab DW podcasters, but the folks in and adjacent to Verity! are my “family”.) Probably my favorite duo to witness was Jason and Liz. Liz is by far the biggest fan of Total Party Kill on the face of the Earth, and Jason is a big fan of Liz’s as well. The mutual admiration society was in full force, and it was a delight to behold. Jason did a Foghorn Leghorn voice at one point, and Liz recognized it as the voice of an Undermountain warlord from TPK. Then she sorta melted into a puddle. Totes adorbs.
And Jason finally got to meet Shannon in person too! She’s become a semi-regular on the Incomparable Game Show feed as well as Afoot and the flagship show, so it was super-cool to see faces put with voices.
Speaking of Shannon, this was also the first time all the hosts of The Audio Guide to Babylon 5 were together in the same place since we started the podcast! We didn’t record anything for the ‘cast, but just being together (and seeing Chip cosplay Commander Sinclair) was damn fabulous.
I even had some come-together moments myself! From the Incomparable crowd, I got to meet Joe and Greg. Now when I read their tweets and Slack messages, I can not only “hear” them in their voices, I can picture the words coming out of their mouths. It may seem like a small thing, but it really makes a difference.
And while I’d chatted with John from the Mutter’s Spiral podcast before, I got to spend more time hanging out with him this year, and that was all to the good. I quite like the cut of that fellow’s jib. Occasionally an ineffable connection spontaneously forms. You can never anticipate where, when, or with whom, you just enjoy it when it occurs.
I think I wasn’t the only one to experience that this year. Connections abound at a good con, and Gally is a great one.
Fame, I’m Gonna Live (Near) it Never
Gally sometimes teaches me about myself. I’ve learned how to balance my introversion/extroversion. I’ve learned what excites me as a viewer or participant in a panel or interview. I’ve learned my limits when it comes to physical activity and social interaction. This year, I had the opportunity to learn about my own desire (or lack thereof) to be proximate to “fame”.
I will admit it, the idea of hanging with people who are famous or well-known comes with a bit of a thrill. The thought of rubbing elbows with a star makes my inner child jump up and down eagerly. I don’t think I’m alone in this, and while I’m not thrilled with that impulse, I’m not ashamed of it.
As I’ve gotten older, the fame thing has become less of a draw than talent and accomplishment. I’m now much more excited by the idea of proximity to people who make things I enjoy, or who’ve made a name for themselves by being awesome in some personal way. That said, at some level the basic starf****er impetus can’t be completely denied. I’d always wondered how strongly that might manifest in myself if put to the test. Well, now I know.
During one of the parties I attended, a couple folks arrived who could be considered minor celebrities. (I hasten to note they were not of the Doctor Who world.) I chatted with them a while and tried to make them feel welcome. It’s always good to reach out and make new fan friends at a con like Gally. I tend to be introverted, so I don’t do that as much as I should. I was proud of my moxie. (Even if part of it was motivated by fame-curiosity. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll own my foibles.) Sadly, it was a real bust in terms of interesting discussion. I won’t go into detail, but the conversation was at turns boring due to my disinterest in the subject, annoying due to Hollywood-style one-upsmanship, and just plain gross due to objectification of the female form. Also, call me old-fashioned, but I think a hallmark of a good conversationalist is to occasionally ask questions of the folks around you.
(I relate this not to shame those folks. I’m trying to give them as much benefit as the doubt will allow. For one, they may have been nervous in a room where everyone else knew each other and simply defaulted to defensive “circling the wagons”. Notoriety does not grant an automatic shield against insecurity! And not every social group has the same thresholds for what constitutes polite conversation with strangers. The DW fan community [my corner of it anyway] tends to be quite socially progressive. We give the side-eye to conversations that are probably de rigueur elsewhere.)
Anyway, it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t care how notable those individuals were. I wanted to talk to someone else. Preferably someone who seemed interested in talking to me. (Not that anyone should be interested in talking to me, it just makes it more fun from my perspective.)
So now I know that proximity to fame is not enough to keep me interested. (Note: There’s nothing wrong with it if you feel the opposite as long as you’re getting something out of it that’s healthy, works for you, and doesn’t bother the famous folk.) I’d much rather have an in-depth discussion about “Terror of the Autons”, compare classic and new Who companions, or even talk about something completely different, as long as it’s a balanced, inclusive conversation.
I’d always hoped that would be the case, but you never really know how you’ll react until you put yourself to the test. I’m going to give myself a passing grade on this particular test. I can do that, because I’m the one grading it.
Let it Go
As I’ve said before, I look forward to Gally all year long. It’s always one of the best weekends of the year. But another thing I’ve identified about myself this year is that I think I could live without it. One of my closest Gally pals wasn’t there this year, and another may not be able to make it next year. This A) filled me with sadness, and B) got me thinking about the possibility of missing it one year myself.
In the past, I’d’ve thought missing Gally was one of the worst things that could happen. Now, I don’t feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on skipping it any time soon, but if I ever need to, I think I’ll be okay with that. I feel like that realization, along with the others I had this year, are a big part of what made this one of the best Gallys I’ve attended. I had fun, lots and lots of it, but I also grew as a person which is pretty darn cool too. This nicely loops back to my first Gally post from last week, dealing with self-care. It’s okay to miss something fun–especially when there’s a good reason for it.
That said, as I write this I’ve been home for several days, and I’m still not quite ready to let go of Gally…