Gallifrey One and Balancing Priorities

Gally was a GREAT time this year, as always!

Gally was a GREAT time this year, as always!

Much as I’d love to write a whole, long, in-depth post about what a wonderful, life-affirming time I had at this year’s Gallifrey One convention, I simply don’t have it in me. And that fact is what I’m here to write about.

I knew, going into the month before the convention, that I wasn’t going to be able to throw myself in as wholly as I have done many years. When possible, I like to speak on panels, attend meetups, and even do the occasional on-stage interview with a guest. This year it was not possible.

As I’ve alluded to recently, I’ve been working on getting my mental health under control. I haven’t reached a real crisis point, and I’m determined to do everything I can to make certain that I do not. Late last year I started on anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication for the first time in over a decade. If you’ve gone through this process, you know it’s not usually an easy thing. Finding the right medication is difficult and can require some trial and error. Finding the right dosage of the correct medication(s) is yet another wrinkle. It can be a long and drawn-out process, but if you need the chemical assistance to keep you going, it is well worth the time and effort. I know it has been for me.

Anyway, having just switched to a different med several weeks before Gally, I decided I’d kinda take a back-seat convention-wise, and that was absolutely the right thing to do. I was already committed to doing a Verity! meetup (it would have taken something truly serious to get me to back out on that!) and the live Verity! In Defense Of panel (something that requires very little effort on my part). So no problems there.

The one other item I decided was worth doing was being a guest on a live one-off episode of Paul Cornell’s Cornell Collective podcast. It was late on Friday night, and there was a moderate amount of booze involved (enough to have fun, not enough to adversely react with my meds). It went spendidly! This one was fairly easy to say yes to because there were few logistics involved–all I had to do was show up and answer questions into a microphone. I did those things and had a wonderful time doing them! (That podcast should drop in the Cornell Collective feed soon (if it’s not there already)!

And, of course, I spent lots and lots of time hanging out with friends and fans and catching up with many many people I care about and many people I now care about after meeting them last weekend. I love how my Gally family grows a bit each year.

I feel like this Gally was a huge success. Maybe not in the same flashy-in-the-spotlight way some previous ones have, but in a really fundamental, mental-health-supporting, I-had-a-great-time way.

I hope to take this lesson and build on it in real life. I have a tendency to say yes to everything and over-schedule myself. I’m going to work to do that less, and to be sure that the things I do schedule for myself are the things that will take less prep-work and will leave me feeling good about the time spent doing them. (And with enough mental “gas” in the tank so that I can devote myself to my day job–which I am genuinely passionate about.)

This might mean fewer podcast appearances talking about things that are new-to-me (or that require rewatching/re-reading), but for now, I think that’s for the best. This also might mean more hanging-out-in-person with friends to simply sit and absorb something fun. My friend Annette has taken me under her wing and is teaching me about the joys of regency romance and the world of televised/movieised Jane Austen. (She also has four cats, which provide a lovely stress-relief service when it comes to cuddling and petting.) Oh, and Steven is showing both Annette and me the British classic(?) show Robin of Sherwood. So yeah there are plenty of things I can do to keep myself on an even keel without expending too much effort.

So I apologize for a lack of my usual in-depth convention travelogue, but this is me setting priorities too. It was more important for me to share a bit about where I’m at than to crow about where I was last weekend. But just to give you a bit of a taste of my Gally afterglow, here are a few post-con tweets. (And don’t forget to check out the #gally1 hashtag for more of the shenanigans that happened all weekend long!)

 

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Go Oilers!

Hello from Rogers Place!

Hello from Rogers Place!

With all the awfulness going on in the world these days (and boy oh boy is there a lot of it), I’m trying to remind myself that it’s still ok to experience joy. In fact, it’s probably more crucial than ever.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy lately on following the news of the world and doing my part to be heard and make sure my home country doesn’t continue down the road to fascism. (Though we’ve already hit every item on the list at the US Holocaust museum. Sigh.) This has been exhausting, both physically and mentally.

So I’m trying to reserve time for things I love. Things that just make me happy. Hockey is one of those things. Specifically, my now-home team, the Edmonton Oilers. And that’s what tonight is all about. Steven and I are taking in a game at the swanky new rink.

We even got here early and sat in the lower bowl to watch the warmup.

We even got here early and sat in the lower bowl to watch the warmup.

Sadly, we’re down by 2 going into the first intermission, but there are 40 minutes of hockey left, and that’s an eternity in hockey-time. Anything can happen. And the most important thing is to be out and having fun. Because it’s ok to have fun. It’s ok to recharge. I need it. I deserve it.

The view from our seats.

The view from our seats.

So if you’ve been working hard to defend the republic (or anything else), don’t forget to take some time for yourself. If you don’t care for yourself, you’ll run out of steam to care for others. The world needs you, so treat yourself well.

#LoveTrumpsHate #resist

Last Christmas

Nope, not the Doctor Who episode. The song! And yes, I blogged about that tune already. But what I didn’t tell you was that the original Wham! version is not the only one! (Though it’s still my fave.) I’ve run across a couple other versions that I quite like.

I adore Jimmy Eat World. They do some of my favorite songs ever ever. (Oh GOD, the HARMONIES.) They also do a passable version of “Last Christmas”. It’s not my favorite because it’s too mellow-emo for my taste, but it is pretty, I’ll give them that.

The best cover version of this tune I’ve come across is the one by Taylor Swift. I’m not the biggest fan of her as a celebrity/media-personality, but damn, that girl’s good at makin’ good tunes. This version has just the right amount of energy, pathos, and pretty guitars.

The final “Last Christmas” I have for you is not a cover of the Wham! song at all. It’s another punk tune to follow off the couple I posted earlier this week. It’s about the last Christmas we get because we’ve screwed everything up so bad it’s all over, and humanity isn’t getting another. Call me morose, but I feel like 2016 is the perfect year to break out this tune.

Sorry to end on such a downer. Hmm. What else can I toss in to lighten the mood? How about a 36-second punk song about a kitty knocking down a Christmas tree?

Perfect.

I Love My Secret Santa

At work I’m participating in a Secret Santa week. I’ve been giving and getting gifts every day since Monday, and it’s been great! The organizer had everyone fill out little questionnaires about their likes, dislikes, and Christmas wishes. I got some great snacks yesterday, a pine-scented candle (yay!) Monday, and today, I go these!!!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

In the “I could use more…” section, I put “yarn (Oilers colors preferred)”. And boy did my Secret Santa come through. This yarn is delightfully soft! And that is important and perfect because I have been meaning to make hand warmers (gloves with just one big hole for all the fingers and a small one for the thumb) for use at work. (It gets pretty cold at my desk.) I’ve had hand warmers before that were kinda scratchy, and that’s just no darn fun.

So today’s bit of December glee is brought to you by…well, I don’t know who yet. But one of my coworkers is pretty great. (They all are, really.) Also, it’s been ages since I posted anything about knitting, so I figured it was high time! If I get my booty in gear, there may be future updates as I work on my sporty-crafty-fangirl project.

Go Oilers!

More (Modern) Christmas Music

The other day I posted about some of the holiday music I love hearing on the radio in Edmonton during November and December. Today I’ll share a few tunes I love that I don’t get to hear on the radio (but would be THRILLED if I did).

First up is a Christmas tune by one of my favorite bands of all time. Fountains of Wayne have pretty much perfected the art of writing catchy pop songs, and this holiday effort, “I Want an Alien for Christmas”, is no exception.

If someone was designing a Christmas song for me, this would be damn close. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, it’s got great, tight vocal harmonies, and it’s just barely over two minutes long. Spend the two minutes and give yourself a bit of silly Christmas cheer.

Weezer has a whole Christmas EP, but the next couple tunes are from their earlier EP, The Christmas CD. First is “The Christmas Song”. No, not the one by Mel Torme. This one is quite a downer in that particularly Rivers Cuomo-style. It’s still catchy with good harmonies, so I’m a fan.

I know the picture is the cover of The Green Album–they did write this while they were doing demos for that album, but it doesn’t appear on the album itself.

The next Weezer tune is back to the upbeat pop-punky less-than-three-minutes stuff I love. It’s still a pretty cynical song lyrics-wise, which I must admit makes me like it even more. Songs that sound happy but have angry lyrics is a thing I Quite Like.

So yeah. I’m a fan of this particular “Christmas Celebration”. Even the guitars do sweet sweet harmonies.

If you want some proper punk in your Christmas, this last one is for you. It’s one of my favorite Madison bands doing an original Christmas song they wrote for the Madison music scene compilation CD, MAXMAS volume II. Please enjoy “Drunk for Christmas”–because that’s how it (often) works in Wisconsin!

Full disclosure, Tim Budziszewski (the lead singer/songwriter for Government Zero) is a very good friend of mine. But I also think his ridiculous gift for crafting catchy, pop-punk tunes means he belongs here with Rivers and Adam and Chris.

If that’s not enough Xmas punk for you, here’s another. In classic punk tradition, this one comes with a healthy dose of social commentary. I leave you with “Christmas Made in China”. (I’m afraid you’ll have to click through to that one. It’s not on YouTube, and the embedding isn’t working.)

Cheering Sounds of My Season

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Chicago TARDIS reminiscence for a quick note about Christmas music. Steven and I always look forward to the holiday season because it’s the one time of year when Edmonton radio doesn’t play all the same old crap over and over. It plays entirely different crap over and over for a couple months. The important difference is, I quite like a lot of the Christmas crap.

If you want to hear a buncha people go in-depth about Christmas music (and nearly drive two people—myself included—completely mad), I can’t recommend this episode of The Incomparable enough. (Or if you like torturing yourself with unedited episodes, the full-length train-wreck that was that recording is also available in its full glory here.)

On the way home from dropping Steven off at a potential new part-time gig tonight (yay!), I heard one of the more annoying, but to me, beloved, tunes…

I know a lot of people who hate this, but it makes me happy every time. And hey, the chorus is easy to learn!

Our current favorite is this gem from Andy Williams. It’s the one song that for Steven and I really says “It’s Christmas!” They started playing Xmas music really early here, and with no snow on the ground and only-just-freezing temps, it didn’t feel like Christmas yet, so we hadn’t dipped into the holiday stations (yes, plural) yet. But when we arrived back up north after visiting Chicago, we got into the car in the parking lot of the airport and turned on the radio. There was frost on the car, and this was playing. We cranked it up, and the holiday season officially began!

The other song that we immediately crank up the volume for is this version of “Sleigh Ride”. We do chair dancing in the car and everything. Though we’re not allowed to play it around my brother-in-(everything-but-)law because he spent years working in a shopping mall, and this song makes his sanity leak out his ears within seconds. Not sure why this is the tune that puts him over the top but it really REALLY is.

The “Last Christmas” song I’ll share tonight is one that’s my personal fave. Steven likes it fine, but it doesn’t capture his heart the way it does mine.

I’m trying to focus on positivity this December, so I’ll probably share a few more of the songs we regularly hear that bring me great joy as December rolls along. Feel free to disagree with me (nicely!) in the comments. Or tell me what you’d put on your list!

Continuing Fun from Chicago TARDIS

I had a lovely time at this year’s Chicago TARDIS. This is the fourth in a series of posts detailing why!

Sunday was a jam-packed full day. After the Verity! live show, the next excitement was seeing Steven on stage yet again. He interviewed a panel of five companions: Lisa Greenwood (Flip from Big Finish), Louise Jameson (Leela), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Deborah Watling (Victoria), and Anneke Wills.

Steven and the ladies!

Steven and the ladies!

It was fun to see Steven juggle a large panel, as that take very different skills from simply interviewing one or two people. He did fabulously well as always! And afterwards, he mentioned to Louise Jameson that his sister-in-law (my sister Amber) is a huge Leela fan. Louise immediately asked to meet her! (She really is that nice a person!) So we scrambled via text message to track down Amber so Steven could take her to meet “Leela”.

Here's the proof!

Here’s the proof!

Amber was positively giddy after this happened. I only wish I could have seen it, but I had to dash off to my next panel, Clarity for Clara. I was pretty nervous about this one because I’ve done a couple of other Clara panels at Chicago TARDIS, and without fail, they’d been the worst of whichever year they happened in. In part, that was due to rampant mansplaining and poor panel etiquette, but also because the people on those panels generally didn’t like Clara much (or AT ALL), so I found myself the lone voice of dissenting Clara-love.

Thank heavens this year was different! The panel had no haters. Only one person was moderately lukewarm on a part of Clara’s history (and Quite Liked the rest), so it was a wide-ranging and interesting discussion with no man- or fansplaining to be seen.

Perhaps the lack of mansplaining was due to the lack of men?

Perhaps the lack of mansplaining was due to the lack of men?

Also, dig Nichole Corrigan’s sweet Polly cosplay. She does a Doctor Who podcast called Two girls, a guy, and a TARDIS!

A couple more events happened after this, and I will tell of them soon!