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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London Travel Diary – Day 8

Our continuing adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5Day 6, and Day 7 if you missed them.

And yes, I sure am taking my time getting through these. At this rate, I may not finish until the one-year anniversary of the trip! Life, as always, has been busy, but delightfully so, of late. My still-new job is so amaz-awesome-tastic that I’ve devoted a lot of mental energy to it. When writing all day, it’s hard to come home and write more. Working on that balancing act!

The impetus to get back on this particular horse is that Kat and Chris are headed off to the UK soon, and I am very jealous! (But also insanely happy for them!) So in addition to living vicariously through their social media, I’ll be re-living our fabulous trip through these diaries.

Day 8: Friday, November 6

Friday morning saw us having brekkie in our hotel. One of the best moves we made when planning this trip was getting that little studio. The kitchenette saved us so much money because we had groceries on hand and didn’t eat every meal out. We did, however, decide to wander off in search of coffee, in part because we just wanted to go out and be in London. I’m usually happy to laze around a hotel room, but when in that glorious city, I mostly preferred being out enjoying it.

Warren met us at Euston Station and came back to our place briefly to drop off his overnight bag so we could go to lunch unencumbered. He had his overnight bag with him because the big plan for the day involved trekking up to Derby via train for An Evening with Michael Pickwoad (Doctor Who production designer), courtesy of the Whoovers!

In one of many happily-timed coincidences, fellow Doctor Who fan and Gally attendee Sami Kelsh happened to be in London, and was relatively close by at Oxford Circus. We put off lunch for a few minutes so she could join us. (I’m not sure if I’d ever met Sami before, but I certainly hadn’t talked to her much. What an awesome opportunity to do so. She’s fab, and I can’t wait to hang out with her again!)

We decided to try the lunch buffet at Taste of India, Continue reading

Coming Home

Returning home after a delightful vacation is always weird. Today I’m in that not-quite-here, certainly-not-there fog that follows a trip to a place that is very different from home. Steven and I rolled in the door and tumbled into bed around 1am this morning after a fun-filled trip to visit our Incomparable impresario Jason Snell and the magnificent Bay Area of California.*

SF-GG bridge w fog

This morning, I am digging through email and trying to catch up on the little things I missed while having fun. I did take time to water the plants before bed, but that’s the only thing. I didn’t even unpack until this afternoon.

At some point, I’ll probably do some more specific travel-journalling about the trip (knowing me, it’ll be weeks or months down the road, which will be great, because by then I’ll be entrenched in boring home-life and I’ll really want to reminisce about it), but for now, suffice it to say I had a truly fabulous time–even better than I expected! It’s a beautiful part of the world with exciting things to do (most of them sports, apparently), and it was made all the better by spending so much of it with good friends.

Would someone please tell my brain I’m now at home and should get down to work doing home things? Because it reeeeally doesn’t want to. It thinks I should go for a walk or be at a baseball game or pet a sweet doggie. Actually, that first option does sound both good and doable. Edmonton’s river valley may not be the Pacific Ocean, but it’s very pretty in its own right.

River Valley

I can feel my inbox giving me the side-eye at the suggestion leaving the house is a good idea. On the other hand, the empty, forlorn fridge thinks I should leave immediately and go to the store. I am being guilted from all sides by inanimates. Story of my life these days, really.

Okay, I should give in to one of these. I shouldn’t just lie down and read a book or play Ultima VII. I really shouldn’t…

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*I have to admit, it always bothered/confused me when people said they were from “the Bay Area” because I legitimately didn’t know what they meant. There are an awful lot of bays in the world. It’s only recently that I realized most people mean California when they say it. I’ve pretty much gotten used to it by now, but it still strikes me as a term rather typical of the kind of people who use phrases like “flyover states” unironically. Ahh, language.

London Travel Diary – Day 7

Our continuing adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6 if you missed them.

Day 7: Thursday, November 5

After the previous day’s excitement, what better than another long whirlwind of a day?

Simon and Warren headed to our place in the morning. We wanted to set off early to walk around London and shoot scenes for the RFS Gally intro video. At the time, the whole project was a big hush-hush secret, but now I can shout it from the rooftops! Rather than burying the lede, here’s the glorious finished product:

Warren’s plan was to check into a hotel later that day (after a few lovely nights at Simon’s pad), so he dropped his stuff off at our place first thing. We got our timing a bit wrong and we were out when he arrived. Whoops. We’d popped out to grab some groceries, and he had to wait outside for a few minutes. Luckily, those groceries included a box of Jammie Dodgers, so we placated Warren with some delicious Dalek-busting treats.

Erika proudly displays a package of Jammie Dodgers

I don’t usually like jam or fruity desserts. Jammie Dodgers are a delicious exception to this rule!

Meanwhile, Simon sat at Speedy’s, the cafe up the block. You may know it as the cafe outside Sherlock’s apartment on the BBC’s Sherlock. We found Simon having a cup of tea next to the great detective’s front door. (You can see this during a brief establishing shot in the video. It’s also the moment of my tiny cameo.) We brought Simon a Jammy Dodger too. Then Steven and Warren had some tea with him while we planned our attack! Continue reading

A Different Kind of Vacation

Sedona sunset

Almost every vacation I’ve ever taken has been to do something. Go to a convention. See the touristy sights. Look at Doctor Who locations. Visit as many friends and family as I can squeeze into a few days. I come home feeling no more rested than when I left (and often far less so).

This last trip to Sedona, Arizona was something different. Finally. Okay, maybe Steven and I did manage to fill it up with going-and-doing-type-stuff more than was entirely necessary, but it was easily the most relaxed vacation I’ve taken in many many years. And it was great.

I didn’t de-stress quite as much as I would have liked, but the somewhat-enforced relaxation did make a difference that I can feel even now. I’m more clear-headed and ready to face the challenges of the day.

A big part of that was largely unplugging from social media. I didn’t even know where my phone was half the time, and I was 100% ok with that. I checked emails and incoming tweets a few times, but I didn’t check my feeds overall. I had next to no idea what was going on in the larger world and it was fantastic.

This was a family vacation, so I spent lots of quality time with my mom and dad, sister and brother, and my aunt (plus, the aforementioned Steven, of course). We played games (Pandemic! Catan! Apples to Apples!) and grilled our own food and soaked in the hot tub a LOT. There was a ton of just sitting around and talking or reading or staring at the views. (The pic above is a sunset as seen from one of our three patios.)

After experiencing something like this, I realize this is the kind of vacation I truly need every once in a while. I can remember only one beach vacation in Florida that left me feeling so recharged, like I’d gotten what I needed out of a vacation (and that one I spent almost entirely on the beach, reading). This is something I’m going to take into account the next time I start planning future trips.

The tricky thing is I’m not in a financial place to take vacations like this often. (Or at all, really. This one was planned so far in advance that it happened despite my current looking-for-work state.) Even when finances are firmly in the black, there are only so many trips I can take in a year. When I’ve got a day-to-day gig again, there’ll be a limited number of vacation days to take into account too. If I skip Doctor Who conventions (very much do-stuff kinds of trips) for a year that means I miss seeing most of my friends for that whole year. That’s no good for my mental health either! And when it comes to non-con trips, I’m married to a “do-er”, who wants to go see things and do things. So there’s that to consider.*

I guess for now I’m just incredibly thankful I got to take this particular trip at this particular time. It might not happen again soon, but it did happen. And I’m overjoyed that it did.

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*I absolutely recognize how lucky I am that this is a “problem” I have. There are many people for whom any kind of trip would be a dream, and I don’t take it for granted.

London Travel Diary – Day 6

Our continuing adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5 if you missed them.

Day 6: Wednesday, November 4

This was a big, long day! Steven and I got up at stupid-o’clock (that’s 4:30am) to take the tube to Epping where we met Simon and Warren in the pouring rain and waited for our pal Dan to pick us up. Dan, because he’s one of the nicest fellows ever, agreed to drive us all the way to Cardiff and back on Wednesday so we could take in the Doctor Who Experience (and not have to check out of our hotel in order to do it).

We stopped at a “service station” (which is like a highway oasis or truck stop) to use the bathrooms and so Dan could get something from Greggs. (Greggs was another thing that was totally new to us.) I bought myself a Kinder hazelnut bar from a vending machine. It was awesome. There were no Kinder products in the US when I was growing up, and I’d never tried the items we have here in Canada, so even my vending machine experience felt exotic.

A proper road trip involves some sort of crazy antics in the car: Continue reading

London Travel Diary – Day 5

It’s high time I continued our adventures in the UK! Check out Day 1Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 if you missed them.

Day 5: Tuesday, November 3

Tuesday was a day Steven and I were largely on our own, and we decided to just walk around. I can highly recommend wandering around London with someone you love. It was a great way to experience the city.

We didn’t have much in the way of specific destinations in mind, but Steven wanted to check out BBC Broadcasting House, so instead of jumping on our beloved Tube, we set out on foot in that general direction. Of course, one of the first landmarks we encountered was the ever-present, ever-looming WOTAN.

It's even scarier from right below.

It’s even scarier from directly below.

Steven needed his daily dose of coffee, so we stopped at a Pret A Manger on the way. I didn’t notice you had to ask for an extra shot to make it what I call “normal”-strength, so I walked away with a disappointingly weak latte. We did not go back to one for the rest of the trip.

We were surprised how quickly we found ourselves at BBC Broadcasting House. There’s an awful lot of stuff packed within very walkable distance in London!

Bobo was excited to see the BBC as well.

Bobo was excited to see the BBC as well.

Inside, we chatted with the clerk at the gift shoppe. He said he’d heard of Radio Free Skaro! (Though he said he’d never listened. Nor had he heard of Verity!) We bought a few things (including refrigerator magnets and an enamel pin for my TARDIS bag). And, of course, we took the obligatory I-was-at-the-BBC pics. Continue reading