Anomalycon 3: Thoughts and ramblings with pictures!

One family enjoying themselves at Anomalycon

I spent this past weekend in a fantastic and improbable place. Some very smart and mad people created a time and space anomaly right inside a hotel in the Denver Tech Center. Hundreds of the quirkiest and geekiest people in Colorado were pulled into this anomaly (I promise, I’ll stop) and all sorts of mostly controlled chaos and fun ensued.

This was my second time attending Anomalycon, a steampunk/alternate history and science fiction convention. Really, the only reason why I went last year was because I happen to know the person who was that right combination of insane and incredibly organized and motivated and started the whole thing and is still in charge. I came back this year because I enjoyed myself so much and because I like supporting cool causes of which new cons ran by friends falls under that category.

I already had an agenda when I went in. I was going to watch every performance of Pandora Celtica because they absolutely rock. In a faerie, acoustic, punk, but not really rock, sort of sense. My husband has spent much time the last year randomly surprising me with their music just showing up in my phone or home, but the live performance is where they go from awesomesauce to completely made of win. This weekend was absolutely no exception. I greatly enjoyed their two shows, and as usual, wish they had performed at least one more time. Though where I would have fit that into the very busy weekend schedule is anyone’s guess.

I spent pretty much all of my time at the con in the writing panels. Thirteen of the twenty panels/performances we attended were in the “writing” room, much to my husband’s dismay. Or so I imagine since he spent the majority of his time reading programming manuals or looking up tech stuff. *sigh* For myself, each panel increased my interest in writing, real writing, and poked at that dream I had put away of ever doing anything with it. The panel on overcoming writer’s block (ugh) sort of knocked loose some of my excuses that I always come up with for why I can’t/won’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t bother. Sometime around Saturday evening during the NanoWrimo panel, I decided that I was going to give this whole thing a go. Again.

There were a finite number of authors/guest panelists, which means that by the end of day two, several of the authors were recognizing me. Rather than hide and shuffle off to a corner as is usual for me. Instead I hung out and talked with them and some of the artists. Some of them even autographed my copy of an anthology they took part in writing, Penny Dread Tales Vol III. Some of them even gave me the go ahead to Facebook-stalk them and I did! O.o Just in case you were curious, that is waaaaaay outside my comfort zone. Majorly so. But, they were really friendly and gave some great advice, and even if I never actually do anything further in writing, I can always watch for their new projects and all that good jazz.

None of that really gives a good indication of what Anomalycon is though, does it? Just me rambling on about stuff. So, let’s go on to pictures! Most of these come from Westword, a local paper that has been coming to Anomalycon all three years.

Authors S.J. Chambers and Gail Carriger at a free-for-all panel

Probably my favorite “costume” of the entire event

Taking a break between events

The tallest member is hiding behind the speaker...

Pandora Celtica!

Gizmos! Gadgets! Doohickeys! Thinga-ma-jigs!

Why not?

Equality?

Today is a pretty important day in the fight for civil and equal rights for LGBT folks in the US. Tomorrow is too. However, it also looks like the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is completely aware of how important this issue is. They are also aware of the fact that it is only in the last year or so that the majority of people in the country support civil unions equivalent to marriage or marriage rights for LGBT couples. If they make a ruling about this divisive issue in the next few weeks they will be continuing the forward march for civil equality but also giving a new rallying point for those against equality.

Essentially, the justices really don’t want to make this decision until we’ve reached a greater than 60% majority in support. Or at least that’s how I’ve been reading it.

Some reasons for that assessment: The argument against Prop 8 (the California constitutional amendment from 2008 that banned marriage or civil unions for anyone besides a single man to a single woman) is literally only arguing against Prop 8. They are not arguing for sweeping, nationwide changes. They are arguing explicitly for the amendment to be overturned and made null and void. Justice Roberts verified the point with the Solicitor General of the Obama administration, “[Y]ou are willing to wait in the rest of the country,” Roberts said. “You’re saying [same-sex marriage] has got to happen right now in California, but you don’t even have a position about whether it’s required in the rest of the country.” I don’t believe that the court really wants to get involved in something so sticky as ruling one way for a state but ruling another way for the country, as could happen with the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) case they will be hearing tomorrow. There is a very high likelihood that they will defer ruling on Prop 8 and send it back down to the previous district courts (where there will be even more confusion about what to do next) because they will instead rule on DOMA.

What does this mean for the fight for marriage equality? That it’s not going to be so easy as having one or two hearings before SCOTUS. It’s going to continue to require a state by state battle to get equality of some sort. It’s going to require enough political action to actually get people to the voting booths, which is no small task. It’s going to require that we wait for older generations to pass on before the younger generations, where there is a clear majority of supporters, become the majority of voters. Or it’s going to require someone bring forth a clear, valid argument against a defense that could actually be valid long enough to be considered in court for why there should be sweeping, nationwide changes like what there was for Loving vs. Virginia in 1967. The repeal of DOMA and even overturning of Prop 8 are not going to make it happen, though either one being overturned will be a huge victory and add momentum to the equality cause.

I hope, I really do, that I am wrong. I hope that SCOTUS will rule in favor of overturning/repealing both. As much as it will be a rallying point for opponents of same-sex marriage and equality, it could be enough to convince those who have been waiting to see who the winner is going to be that they ought to throw their support in for equality. That would be super awesome and make me a rather happy camper.

Honestly though, I think it would be rather nice if the whole marriage vs. civil unions thing would be figured out. I have a few friends that really deserve to be married but are only just now being given the opportunity to have a civil union. It’s nice and almost there, but not quite the same idea. Now, if government decided to get their noses out of marriage in general and only have civil unions recorded and all that for state records for everyone, I’d be down for that. Religious institutions could figure out what the hell marriage is and what it means and who or who can’t get married, but that special snowflake definition would only matter and be recorded within that particular institution. I think that would totally be a win-win for everyone. The religious folks could get a civil union with all the legal and tax benefits that come with it and get married through their religious institution and life would be good. There are enough open and non-denom and “we just like to have community!” sort of places that even non-religious folks could still get “married” if they really wanted to.

But hey, maybe I just don’t care all that much because “marriage” has always been an odd concept to me and I’ve always found it to be rather controversial anyway. The history of marriage has never boded well for women, even civil unions never really boded well for women. I would be completely fine with something that came with less baggage and was more personal. But, marriage is important to some people, including my husband, so… *shrugs* I say we make it so that everyone who wants to get married can. *nods*

An Anniversary I Wish Never Was

I have gotten through today so far with only glancing at the calendar a few times and refusing to acknowledge exactly what today’s date means. I tend to do this for every “anniversary” that I would rather ignore. However, each one of those days is marked forever in my heart and mind and there is always something about them that makes it so I cannot forget.

Today is a day that, one year ago, started out with only anticipating a house warming for a friend of my husband (then boyfriend of less than a month) and getting to ride there and back on his motorcycle. It was going to be a fun, if a bit anxiety inducing day just due to meeting so many brand new people.

Then, around 9pm, my husband got a facebook message from my roommates and there was a scramble to get my phone charged enough to make a phone call and figure out what was so important that it could not wait another hour or two for me to get home or at least back to my husband’s place and away from all these people that I didn’t know.

For a few minutes my roommates and I went back and forth. They didn’t want to tell me over the phone. I didn’t want to wait the hour drive to find out if it was so important that I needed to leave now.

And they did.

One year ago I was told that Brittany, someone that had been one of my closest friends and whom I was working on repairing my relationship with, was dead. Not dead from a random accident or medical condition I hadn’t been aware of. She had been shot by her ex-husband. Another human had intentionally taken her life. Taken her away from her family and friends and destroyed her future.

All that passed through my mind in a blur, but was ignored by the part crying out “Why!?” and “How in the world could it happen?!” “Why her?” “I had just talked to her not even 3 days ago. She can’t be dead. It doesn’t happen that way.”

Honestly, I’m relieve that they conceded and told me while I was still at the party. I was able to maintain myself well enough to ask my husband to take me home and apologize to his friends for needing to leave so suddenly. I know I didn’t look good, but at least I wasn’t crying. Not yet. And I had an hour on the back of a bike with no one else that could hear or see me to cry, though I’m sure my husband felt my body shaking and the death grip I had on him. It was time to myself to just let my brain go in its wild circles and try to figure out what the word “dead” really means and how it could apply to Brittany, someone who took so much joy in life, who made sure life was worth living not just for her, but for everyone she touched.

Dead could not mean the same thing for her that it did for other people, could it?

What does dead mean for someone who didn’t even get a chance to fight for her life? She was washing a tea pot. She didn’t even know he was there. She had no chance. How could she be dead?

I don’t mean she should have been given the chance to wrestle the gun from his hand or anything absurd like that. I mean that there should never have been a gun. There should never have been a chance for her ex to even contemplate taking away her life, her rights and freedom. There should not have been a human hand taking part in her leaving this world, in her death. If she was going to die it was going to be after a long life of doing things to help others. Maybe the unlucky random chance of an accident or some illness, but at least in those circumstances she could have tried to do something, anything more than what happened on 7 May 2011.

But that was taken away from her. The worst part is that the way she died has overshadowed how she lived in many ways. She was a bright, empathetic, courageous, empowered woman of God who did mission and community service work as well as working in health and human services fields including massage therapy. I have many wonderful memories of her, time spent together and conversations on the phone and through skype… but all are tainted with grief and pain knowing that there will be no more new memories, no more new experiences. The knowledge that the last day of her life was painted red by anger, pain, and the blood of four different people.

I miss my friend. I miss talking with her. I miss listening to her. I miss her support and being able to support her. I miss random adventures and taking off for a weekend on a whim. I miss just knowing she was there. I miss her. And nothing will be able to change that, no matter how much I cry, how much I think about or don’t think about her, how many people I try to educate about domestic violence, how much I oppose violence in all forms, how much I work to help every individual I meet who is a victim… none of it will bring her back. It doesn’t detract from the things I can do and what I do… but some days, days like today, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. I feel selfish and don’t want to work with the person in front of me. I just want to have Brittany back, to be talking with her about the crazy things or adventures she is doing or planning to do. Now doesn’t matter as much as what could have been.

I suppose I can take some heart in knowing that there is an alternate reality where there was no gun and we are still talking and today would be a day on a calendar, not this unhappy anniversary.

~~~~~~~

Thank you, Brittany for showing me I possessed the courage to leave my ex. Thank you for showing me different perspectives and ways of seeing the world and helping me to grow. Thank you for all the work you have done to change others lives. Thank you for all your support, all your love, your forgiving nature.

You will not be forgotten. I still love you. I hope you have found that better place you knew was out there. Be well.

Amber

Random Goings on of Life

I have been working on a new post and changed the subject line at least three times in the last four days. I just can’t seem to actually agree with what I’m writing more than ten minutes after I am almost sort of done writing it. So for now I’ll just comment on a few things that I have had going on.

First and foremost I met my husband one year and two days ago. Yes, we got marred prior to even being together one year, but we also had decided that we didn’t want to be with anyone else after only three weeks together. So the last twelve months has really been figuring out what our life together is going to be. We’re still working on it, but I get the feeling that will never really change. I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather be with trying to figure it all out.

ON a not so much fun or positive note, I have been experiencing an all encompassing sort of fatigue that doesn’t seem to be affected by how much I sleep. I know I don’t get the suggested amount of sleep per day, but even with that taken into account, I shouldn’t feel as exhausted immediately after I wake up as what I do in the middle of the afternoon as just before I actually go to bed at night. It has been so bad as to have me worried about driving, especially in the afternoon when I have been further exhausted by everything going on at work. Tis no good.

I went hiking with my husband (I should really decide if I’m going to call him by his name here or not) and another very good friend on Saturday and it was one of the best things I have done in the last few months. It wasn’t a long hike, just something nice and relaxing and gave us some time to just do something a little different and herald the beginning of our outdoor spring and summer activities. I hope to be spending more time doing things like that.

I am still working on doing some things for my QMAP classes, but hopefully I’ll be able to complete everything by the end of this weekend, including finding locations, so I can start teaching in May. It’s taken way too long to get anything organized and not only do I need the money, but I also want to start teaching.

Oh, yes, tomorrow will be an awesome day for two reasons: the first is that I will be off for a much needed mental health day. I can try to get some extra rest and do something other than work for a bit. The second is going to dinner at Beau Jo’s, best pizza in the entire world, with friends including a mum and grandma from out of town. I haven’t met the guests of honor, but I’m looking forward to it. Their (grand)daughter is awesomesauce, so I’m anticipating that they will be along the same lines. 😉

And I believe that is more than enough for the night. Not a particularly insightful post or anything special, but at least I was able to finish it and even *shocking* post it. Huzzah!