Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Fangirls and fairy godmothers
I think I lead a fairly normal existence. Sure, I’ve just made some major changes in my lifestyle - picking up and moving to the Berkshires, finding a new job, settling in to the new apartment. Overall, though, I’m following a safe path.
What would it be like to break out of my shell? Do something spontaneous like jetting off for a weekend in London? Getting acquainted with people I’ve only met online? Attending a cocktail party with a television actress? Having champagne and tea with same actress two days later? Riding the tube to Covent Garden to do some Christmas shopping and sharing lunch with two close friends who live in England and Scotland? What would it be like to not have to worry about the bills for such a weekend getaway?
You may have noticed my absence since going to the dentist. I have been away. I’ve done all the stuff listed above … the stuff of daydreams and wish lists.
Somehow, about two weeks ago, the planets aligned and a lot of good karma came floating my way. A bucket load. I spent this past weekend at a hotel in London, just one among a couple hundred sci-fi fans of a Canadian actress, Amanda Tapping, who plays Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter on a weekly series called Stargate.
I got into the sci-fi genre quite unexpectedly a few years ago while surfing my new cable channels to see what was offered. I came across an unlikely group of characters called SG1, a team of intergalactic soldiers and scientists who went through a wormhole each week and saved the universe from invading aliens with glowing eyes. The whole idea was based on a movie called Stargate which did not impress me as much. However, the female character on the television series did. She was intelligent, got to play with guns, had a Ph.D. in quantum mechanics and kept up with the boys. I thought she portrayed a strong woman in a man’s world quite well. She was real and didn’t come across as a sci-fi Barbie. I still cringe when I remember Jane Fonda in Barbarella. I never watched Star Trek or other sci-fi shows on a regular basis.
Stargate was also my initiation into the world of online fan forums and fanfic. Yes, fans do write original fiction about their favorite shows. I soon found myself gravitating to some of the larger and more respected fan forums and even created a sci-fi identity as I started posting on the different discussion threads. Of course, I kept this a secret from the kids, not knowing how they would deal with a mother who was online discussing weekly episodes of alien marauders and wormhole theory. Through the forums, friendships developed. I found that many of the biggest fans were actually part of my demographic: older women who worked as teachers, administrators and in other professional positions. By exchanging private emails, we soon became better acquainted and realized we had more in common than our interest in a sci-fi show. One of the women was a geology professor and a prolific fanfic writer. I read her work and was so impressed that I decided to flex my writing muscles and give it a try. The writing provided a great outlet and helped me hone my writing skills. I published under my sci-fi pseudonym and got favorable reviews. Heck, I had my own fan base! Who woulda thought? Buoyed up by favorable reviews, I shyly shared some of my work with Jenn and David. Surprisingly, they both thought it was really good and encouraged me to continue. Even now, I’m still writing fanfic.
Now that I’ve moved and settled into a half-time job, my cash flow has slowed to a trickle. I’m very mindful of the bills and trying to stay on a tight budget. So when the London event was announced, I didn’t even consider it. Out of the question. I admit that I was thinking about the two close friends who would be going and wanting to see them. But it just wouldn’t work. Until …
Another online sci-fi buddy, whom I never met, decided to make an incredible offer of kindness and generosity and send me in her place because she has a fear of flying. At first I thought she was joking but soon realized that she was sincere. Pinching myself, I accepted the offer and just returned from one of the most fun weekends of my life. Little moments of opportunity continued to open up all the time I was there. Amazing grace.
What goes ‘round, comes ‘round. If that’s true, then it’s my turn to gather all this good karma and pay it forward.