Me? Who Am I??

I recently found a video on a friend’s Facebook profile that made me cry because I had never identified more to any media.  It shows how society absolutely kills your creativity and turns you into something you are not and don’t want to be.

I am those colorless people.  That is EXACTLY how I feel.

I was always the odd girl in class that no one really wanted to talk to. I was the girl who was learning English at a time when it wasn’t so mainstream in schools quite yet. Later on, while all the girls were drooling over Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Freddie Prize Jr., I was geeking out over Disney movies, science fiction and technology.  I was happy in my little geek world, even if I was all alone in it.  One day, my aunt got us AOL, and that just expanded my world. I found other people out there in the universe that were just like me.

But the world doesn’t have time for your TV shows, your likes, dreams or the things you want to do. Society tells you that you MUST complete someone else’s predetermined schedule of schoolwork, then immediately after, you MUST get a mind-numbing job at an office and bury your soul deep inside so you are just a shell of the real person you were.  Your only role is now to just follow the rules, no more dreaming, no more thinking. My writing, all that writing I used to do and even won some awards for – stop that immediately because it’s pointless.  I love the way you sing, you have a gorgeous voice – it means absolutely nothing if you can’t use that in the office. It’s all just a waste of time.

And I fell for every single word of it. I remember my counselor in high school asking me what I wanted to study in college and I had no answer because how could I possibly decide what career I wanted for the rest of my life at 17? I like everything, and I love learning new things. But I remember her forcing college down my throat and psychologically altering my mind to this idea that I had to spend a fortune I did not have on an education I didn’t 100% know I wanted.  I got a bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish which…yes I enjoyed getting, I suppose.  But I had to drop the Education portion of my degree I had originally tried for because there was no way a foreign language ed major could study abroad and still graduate on time (?!?!?!?). I wanted to take advantage and spend a semester in France! I couldn’t get a degree in anything IT related because I would never ever pass the crazy math classes required of me so I stuck with the languages. Soon after college I started working at the company where my parents worked. I told myself I would stay only one year. That was 10+ years ago.  Somewhere along the way in my twenties I left myself behind, forgot all the things I loved and what made me “me”.

Now, in my early thirties, I am going through a sort of rediscovery of who Esty really is in part thanks to social media and some seriously beautiful friends in my life.  But I can’t seem to get there at ALL. My job is…to say it’s draining is putting it lightly. It’s a constant internal struggle I am fighting all day every single day.  I am running and on high-stress mode ALL day long, sometimes not even able to eat lunch. When I get home I am SO tired, all I can do is just sit on the couch. I have no brainpower left, or willpower to do anything, or any power at all, really. I find that I am always angry, short with people, annoyed at every single thing I have to do, etc. I have been trying for years to leave this horrible toxic job for a new, better, healthier one that will allow me to still have a life outside of work.  And, I haven’t done a damn thing with any of my “creative abilities” to allow me to make money that way either. My (expensive NJ) mortgage will not pay itself after all. And I won’t even get into how I feel like I am falling behind because that is a whole other mess of tears, anger and non-resolution. I have not been genuinely happy for a long time but I have to push that aside because that is something else still pushed by society.

This is the first time I have actually written in so many months and it feels good. I miss writing here and for FanFest News. I hardly even consider myself part of their team but I don’t think I’m not part of the team either, I guess? I want to start writing articles again, maybe find a writing competition or something and submit some work? I’d love to have enough energy to get back to the amateur PR stuff I had gotten into on Twitter, too. So much conflict, such little mental power in one body.

I shouldn’t completely put myself down, though, because I have had a few very small but important victories. I did promise myself on Jan 1 this year that I would be braver than I was in the past.  I started by getting a second piercing in each ear which, if you know anything about my fear of needles, wounds, etc knows that this was a huge deal for me. I also uploaded some audio of my singing up on YouTube, and am going to try to get more up soon. And, in a desperate attempt to defeat my anxiety, I started taking kickboxing! I am LOVING it so much. I walk in to class feeling angry and exhausted and walk out actually feeling like a god. I volunteer at Heroes & Villains FanFest – just the one in NJ for now because I don’t have the money to go to more, but I do it and I love doing it so so much.

So, for those of you who have asked me where I’ve been, and why I have been so much quieter lately, this is it. I can’t believe it took an animated short film to really be able to open up about it. I am a fighter who is ALWAYS there for those who need her, but I think it’s time for me to come back to myself a bit. I will try to hush the loud voices of a society that inhibits creativity and positivity to see the world the way I actually want to see it. I may need your help along the way. Some of you have been a serious ray of bright light in the nasty storm I stuck myself into and I thank you for your constant love and support. It’s a lovely reminder that there really is some color still in this seemingly colorless world. ❤

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Gilmore Girls Revival Official Posters and New Stills!

Stop whatever you are doing because Netflix has released the official posters for the Gilmore Girls revival next month and they are GORGEOUS!!

Each poster represents one of the four seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall), which is how the new series is set up.  Each episode will be 90 minutes, each one taking place in a different season.

Can we also talk about how gorgeous Lauren and Alexis are??

There are also new production stills out today, including our first look at Jess and Mrs. Kim!

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*waits not very patiently for November 25*

Apple Event 9/7/16

Happy Apple News Day!!

Yesterday Apple had their event in San Francisco to share with us some updates on some of our favorite products. The event started with a mini Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and Tim Cook while Corden was driving Cook to the event. Once there, Tim Cook wasted no time in getting started by jumping into all the fun updates:

Apple Music
– Carpool Karaoke will stream new episodes on Apple Music next year
– New interface to make it easier to navigate
– Apple Music Festival will take place in London on September 10th .  It’s the 10th anniversary show with special guests such as Elton John, Britney, Calvin Harris, etc.  The event can be live streamed from all Apple devices.

App Store
– 140 billion total apps downloaded from the Store (wow, that is a lot of apps!)
– Super Mario is coming to the app store!! The game is called Super Mario Run. The new  game looks exactly like the old school games so it’s familiar and easy to jump right into. Also, major props to the guy sampling the game wearing a shirt that read “Mushroom Kingdom”! I need that shirt.
– We are also getting fun animated Super Mario stickers for iMessage 😀 My new “goodbye” messages will now include Mario or Luigi jumping into a green pipe, so fingers crossed that is one of them 😉

Education
– ConnectEd – a national initiative between government and tech companies to get technology to schools
– 114 schools to be up and running this fall. Apple is also donating iPads to more than 50k students, installing Apple TV in classrooms, etc.
– Allows students to engage in a more innovative way and makes learning more fun
– “Everyone can code” – a program to teach kids how to code using Swift which is Apple’s programming language.  Apple building the future army of great programmers 🙂
– iWork – an office style suite for iOS/Mac, now with real-time collaboration for the whole suite. These are the Pages, Keynote, etc apps.

Apple Watch
– Apple Watch is now 2nd watch brand in the world right under Rolex. (Kind of a big deal, honestly.)
– WatchOS 3 – New Dock for easier app access, new watch faces. Messaging has features double tap quick replies, animated stickers, and full screen effects like confetti. Scribble lets you write a custom reply (including simplified & traditional Chinese too!).
– Breathe – new app that reminds you each day to take a moment and take a breathing exercise to manage stress.
– SOS – new feature that lets you contact your emergency contact by pressing the button on the side of the watch.  It also shares your location for your safety.
– POKEMON GO is coming to Apple Watch!  The Watch will display how long you have  to walk to hatch an egg, what your HP is, calories burned, which Pokemon is nearby etc.  It notifies you when a Pokemon appears and when you approach a Pokestop and can collect from the Pokestop here, too. (The guy sampling the game for us also hatched a Pikachu from an egg, which I’m pretty sure never happens *is not bitter*)
– Apple Watch is now water resistant up to 50 meters which is AWESOME because of all the entry points. They have covered all the entry points minus the speaker.  The speaker will now eject any water left in its space.
– The fitness stats now include swimming – will help with your swim workout – pool swim & open water swim – lap count, distance, calorie burn, stats over time.
– Dual core processor, faster GPU, sweeter graphics, brighter display (brightest Apple display, built-in GPS (This is huge!)
– Viewranger – new hiking app that uses the GPS to provide trails, current location, interesting information about your location and lets you know when you’ve strayed from your path.
– The watch’s finish comes in ceramic (sexy). Nike Plus model made of lightweight aluminum perfect for runners.
– $369 both regular and Nike Plus. Pre-order on September 9th. Nike Plus is available late October, regular watch the week after 9/9. WatchOS 3 available on September 13.
– The older Apple Watch is also getting the same processor and now starts at $269.

iPhone 7
– iOS 10 – which I previewed for you recently. 😉
– Homekit app lets you control devices around your house right from your house.  From garage doors to lights. Major manufacturers already support Homekit and hundreds more products to come.
– iMessage has new bubble effects and full screen effects and stickers and a mini app store for iMessage.
– Water and dust resistant!!!
– New camera system- optical image stabilization for shaky hands. Wider lens to allow more light. 12MP sensor. The flash now has 4 LEDs so it reaches further. (Seriously the sample pics they showed were gorgeous and I need it.)
– Front facing camera is now 7 MP (so so cool) and also has some stabilization features for better selfies 😉
– iPhone 7 Plus will have TWO rear 12MP cameras.  One has the wide angle lens, the other is a telephoto lens.  (DSLR, people.  Like the fancy larger cameras.  Only now it’s in your pocket 😀 ) Digital zoom up to 10x.  Free software update for all iPhone 7 Plus users later this year.
– Brighter display, more colors, just prettier.
– Pressure sensitive home button.
– Now the phone comes with stereo speakers, one on top and one on bottom with twice the volume which will sound awesome in landscape mode.
– The much talked-about ear pods – they will now connect via Lightning.  No more audio jack. JBL has new workout headphones that connect via Lightning.
– Lightning to aux adapter – comes in the box with your phone so you can still use your existing headphones.
– The also much talked-about wireless ear pods, called Air Pods.  They know when they’re in your ear and have the ability for you to talk to Siri with a tap.  They have microphones at the end of the pod.  5 hours of listening on one charge and a compact charging dock.  iCloud lets you set up the pods across all your devices – one step set up to connect.  Beats has new headphones that use the same technology.
– Apple Pay – now coming to Japan in October.
– A new processor allows for some console type gaming that looks GORGEOUS on the iPhone’s screen.
– The battery hours stats they showed looked impressive, too. Allegedly it lasts 2 hours more than the iPhone 6s and 1 hour more than 6S Plus.
– iPhone 7 starts at $649 (same as iPhone 6S) and comes in 32gb, 128gb AND 256gb!!
iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769 (same as Pphone 6s Plus) and comes in the same 32, 128 and 256.
– iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are increasing their storage to 32 and 128gb.
– iPhone 7 and 7 plus pre-orders are this Friday September 9 and ship one week later on Sept 16. iOS 10 is available on September 13. Air Pods will ship in late October and cost $159.

My upgrade with AT&T is not until October so I have to wait to get my

Gilmore Girls Fan Fest is Coming!!

As if getting a Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix this November was not already super exciting, it has been announced this week that the town that inspired Stars Hollow on the show is hosting a 3-day Gilmore Girls festival!!

The festival will take place in Washington Depot, Connecticut from October 21-23 and will include coffee at the hardware store, a knit-a-thon (!!!!) and they’ll even have a town troubadour.  A schedule is not yet completed, but there will also be trivia and screenings of fan favorite episodes.

Eight of the show’s actors are slated to be at the festival: Jackson Douglas (Jackson), Rini Bell (Lulu), Aris Alvarado (Caesar), Biff Yeager (Tom), Kelly Bishop (Emily), Yanic Truesdale (Michel), Vanessa Marano (April) and Ted Rooney (Morey). Here’s hoping the rest of the cast can make it! (I know we all want/need to see Luke actually serving coffee at the diner, am I right??)

According to the festival website, festival founders Marcus and Jennie Whitaker came up with the idea while stuck in traffic in Hartford, super close to Washington Depot.  Realizing then there really are no Gilmore Girls events, they decided to make one and brought Stars Hollow to life. Thankfully, everyone in the town seemed it was a great idea, too!

Sadly, though not surprising, tickets are already sold out.

To get more information on the festival, go to http://www.gilmoregirlsfanfest.com/

Apple iOS 10 Details and Features

Apple dropped a beta for iOS 10 on Monday, and it is going to be a sweet new package.

The new release will come with some really squee-worthy new features, the most anticipated probably being the ability to delete built-in apps. That’s right guys, we will be able to delete built-in apps.  This is NOT a drill.  Goodbye forever, Tips app!! *evil laugh*

We are also getting an enhanced lockscreen that will let you perform tasks like answer emails, look at text messages and edit your calendar all without leaving your lockscreen.

Lockscreen

Siri is getting more functionality so you will be able to control more apps with your voice, the Photos app is getting smarter using facial recognition on pictures in the camera roll so you can create folders by person, and text messages are getting extra fun. You’ll be able to do fun things like send messages that are blurred until you swipe your finger over it, secret agent style.

Now, this wouldn’t be a proper update without new emojis.  Apple is going to be releasing over 100 new and redesigned emojis. The emojis all have more detail and depth to them, looking a lot less flat.  Sports & profession emojis will now have more gender diversity with a male and female option (including a boy & girl Sherlock!!).  There is finally a gay pride flag available, and the gun emoji has been replaced by a toy squirt gun.

 

iOS 10 will be available to download in the fall.

The Gilmore Girls Revival Trailer is Finally Here!!

Everyone’s favorites from Stars Hollow are coming back to our screens soon with the Netflix revival Gilmore Girls: A Day In the Life (queue frantic fangirl squealing) and the excitement is real among fans.

After what feels like ages waiting for details on what the revival would be like, we finally have a trailer AND a release date of November 25th.

The trailer puts you right back into the world of Stars Hollow and the Gilmore Girls by showing you Luke’s Diner, the Dragonfly Inn, Doosie’s Market, the town square, Lorelai’s house gorgeously done up with lights…and then we get a short scene with Lorelai and Rory.  The scene is nothing short of perfection with the rapid-fire talks, the coffee and Pop Tarts on the table, the sarcasm. It’s delicious. It’s like the show never ended.

Lorelai muses about Amy Schumer and John Oliver loving her and wanting to hang out with her.  Well, Amy Schumer and John Oliver both expressed their love for Lorelai, because everything about this revival is nothing short of perfection.

Amy Schumer

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See the trailer below and leave a comment! What do you think about the trailer? What are you hoping /most excited to see?

Coping with TV Hiatus

How great is television? So many different types of shows and characters, all those cool stories to follow week after week. How about the nervous excitement the day of a new episode getting all the things done in time to sit in front of the TV? Maybe your Twitter is open and ready for live tweeting with fellow fans, ready to go through the motions and emotions of the episode – simply the best.

But what happens when the TV show is not there for a while, when you have to take a break from the fun because the show is…*DUN DUN DUN!!!*… on hiatus. What are you supposed to do now? How do you fill the void?

Currently, I am missing Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supernatural, but their break is super brief and will be back soon. Doctor Who, however, is a deeper pain I must learn to live with for now while they figure things out over there. I have been spending the time making new friends in these fandoms, bingeing on Netflix, teaching my mother all about Doctor Who, revisiting old episodes and seasons, etc.

I asked the Internet how they are getting through their favorite shows’ hiatus time and I found that people have multiple ways of getting by between Netflix, Internet communities and even one friend who uses arts and crafts!

On Twitter:
@gkenvidal: I’m not a fan of the mid season hiatus. Netflix has completely spoiled me. I do find the wait between seasons difficult.

@whofalldifan: I have been watching past shows writing fan pic painting pics anything to get through the down period.

@Chrisha_DWGrrl: Cons and social media are my life on hiatus. And off. But still.

On Facebook, author Jenn Nixon had this to say: “TV Hiatus? What’s that? Oh, that’s the time when I watch the “filler” or Mid Season shows like Agent Carter, X-Files (damn you cliffhanger!), and Galavant, The 100, and Legends of Tomorrow. If that’s not enough to tame my geek heart, I will watch the first half of the first season of some shows like The Flash, Supergirl or Arrow On Demand or my DVR, if I had enough room to save them.”

Amanda Creasy explains: “I, too, am feeling the loss from no new Doctor Who episodes. I’m an active member on a few boards on Facebook where we chat about the show (past and present). I love when friends bring up interesting points that I might not have noticed the first time around. I also enjoy watching the discs with commentary- it’s sort of like experiencing the whole thing over again with actors and directors giving us behind the scenes perspectives! Finally, I scour the internet for new Fan Fiction that I haven’t read yet. I have quite a list of favorites and it’s really a fantastic way of getting “new episodes”. I also enjoy writing fanfic and have a few stories published. It’s never easy getting through without your favorite show, but I think we’ve all developed our coping mechanisms.”

Marie (@MeintheMist) is even part of regular Outlander meetups where she lives (talk about superheroes of hiatus!). When the fans get together they go all out, decorating their venue in Outlander style, there are discussions, giveaways, prizes, etc.

How do YOU get through a TV show hiatus? Leave a comment and stay strong,  my friends. Our shows won’t be gone forever!

Fandom Positivity

Behind every TV show, movie, musical artist, etc is a group of extra loyal fans who keep the momentum going by tweeting, cosplaying, making and buying merch, etc. These are passionate people, ready to discuss their favorite thing at the drop of a hat, produce theories, and defend their favorite thing to the death.  The fandom can probably relate any real life event to a quote or situation from their favorite thing. In come cases, and this has been especially true for me, a fandom can become like family. I have made some of my best friends through fandom.

How Fandom Helped Me

You see, I spent most of my twenties working way too hard and not having any fun. I hardly watched any TV at all. The few things I did enjoy, I enjoyed on my own and had no idea of the  concept of fandom.  My first taste of true fandom, with social online interaction and all was with Stargate SG-1.  I connected with other fans on message boards and their custom Geocities websites (remember those??). It was also my first taste of fan fiction.  The idea that people, fans, could create stories based on the stories told on television and expand on that world through their eyes was fascinating to me. I reached out to the writers commending them for their great work, making some friends in the fandom and even writing one story of my own! I got great reviews and all! That feeling of inclusion, of positivity…it was addictive and life changing.

It was the Doctor Who fandom that eventually practically saved my life.  I started watching Doctor Who when I was going through a period of bad depression, and at the strong recommendation of my friend Ken. He rewatched the entire show with me, helping me go through the motions.  But once we finished the show and were caught up, I still needed to talk about it. I took to my Twitter account to comment about the show and soon found myself with tons and tons of new friends. My follower count started growing (an added bonus hehe) and suddenly I felt like I was truly part of something.

I have joined many fandoms since then, each one with their new set of friends. I even allowed some of them to add me on Facebook, which I hardly used, but now it made my Facebook more colorful and fun.  One group of fellow David Tennant fans and I even got together in what we called a mini Tennant con. We flew in and drove from various parts of the US to Texas for a week of fangirling fun. (*waves at the Bus*) My phone used to be silent except for the occasional spam mail to hit my inbox or my mother texting me to ask what I needed from the store.  Now my phone was lit up with messages from friends, people sharing memes, scheduling group watches of David Tennant tv and film aptly called DT Dates, etc, etc, etc…

Yeah, fandom changed my life. I have friends all over the world. I attend and even volunteer at comic cons, where I meet other fangirls and boys, some of whom I still keep in touch with.  I never feel alone because I have friends all over the world who keep in touch very regularly. After a new episode of a TV show airs or after a new movie, it’s great to be able to talk about it with all my friends.  I am particularly thankful to fandom for bringing my bestest friends Chrisha and T into my life. We are hundreds of miles away but we are super close as if we lived together.  They helped me learn that I am way more than a soul-draining desk job and that I deserve more in life. I am a different person because of them and I will love them forever.

So What’s the Problem???

It is because of all of these good things and positivity that have come out of fandom that I just cannot understand why in the world there would be so much negativity and hate on my social media timelines these last few months.  I’ve seen people tweet the most awful, hateful things to each other.  The now infamous “ship wars” have reached a point where even I’m afraid to mention certain characters sometimes for fear of backlash.  I feel like everyone has become SO ship obsessed they have forgotten about the show as a whole and that’s a damn shame. But worst of all, I have seen people be downright nasty and verbally abusive to the actors themselves.  Really?  Can we no longer make the distinction between fantasy and reality?  People, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, we are capable of discussing like intelligent beings and not turn every conversation into a nasty argument.

Look, I know all about a show causing blood boiling frustration – I’m a Whovian after all – but I have never attacked anyone for having an opinion different from my own. I’m a die-hard Rose Tyler supporter and am very much not fond of Clara Oswald at all. I know that TONS of you out there disagree with me.  That’s ok. I don’t necessarily see the Dean/Cas ship just because I don’t see the characters interact like that, but if you do, that’s cool! I am upset half to death that Olicity is not an item right now, but I tooootally understand why Felicity decided to leave Oliver, because I think I would have done the same thing.  Some of you think she is being selfish, and that’s an opinion you are allowed to have.  What you absolutely cannot do is attack people, call them awful names and drive them off social media.  We are so much better than this, come on.

I am calling to you, fellow fans, to remember what fandom is, and what brought us all together in the first place.  Let’s keep the conversations and debates civil and constructive.  If you are upset about something happening in your fandom, treat it like any other stressful situation and take a break from it before talking about it – wait until you are in a calmer frame of mind.  Fandom should be a safe haven for people, not a place they have to be afraid.

Fandom love to all you ❤

David Bowie

The title pretty much says it all. Just his name alone speaks volumes.

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This is not an easy post for me to write, so please forgive me if my thoughts are a bit mangled.

Almost two months ago, the world lost its Starman but I am still grieving like it just happened this morning.  It was a Monday morning, my alarm went off telling me it was time to go to work. I always check Facebook and Twitter first thing to see any messages I may have missed, when there it was. “David Bowie dead at 69.” It couldn’t be true. It had to be another internet prank. Bowie couldn’t be dead, he’s immortal! But it was true. David Bowie was dead and I cried hard. I cried because I lost someone that seemed to always be there for me even though he never knew me. And I cried because I felt that I had not done enough for him while he was alive. I felt like a bad fan. But I’ll get into this shortly…

I was first exposed to the brilliance of David Bowie at a young age. My mother showed me the movie Labyrinth.
Jareth

 

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It was love at first sight for both the movie and Bowie.  The movie was the perfect blend of adventure, cheese, humor and musical interludes. Jennifer Connelly was a whiny brat, but I completely understood getting lost in a fictional world. And to be honest, if I was her, I’d have run away with Jareth. I mean look at him. I’m pretty sure he would have done anything for Sarah if she asked.  Labyrinth also gave us this perfection of a ballroom scene:

tumblr_n31wrqo13e1sial0xo1_500  I always wanted to be Sarah. I wanted her dress and I wanted David Bowie and….sigh.  And that song, my God. “I’ll paint you mornings of gold, I’ll spin you Valentine evenings…But I’ll be there for you as the world falls down.”  Makes me cry to this day.

Ever since then, David Bowie would come in and out of my life. In random news, occasional viewings of Labyrinth, when he married Iman, his amazing music that would get stuck in my head here and there, all this throughout all my life.  I suppose this is where most of my regret comes from, though some of this is/was out of my control.  I never had the access (or the age, really) to the resources I needed to really experience Bowie.  I didn’t have Spotify or YouTube like I do now. But I did have the Internet, so I should have been searching out as much of him as I could. But I didn’t.  I should have asked my parents to buy me his music.  I should have talked about him more. I should have seen him in concert, my biggest regret.  I should have, I should have I should have…

A few years ago when I finally bought a Spotify membership I started to explore his music, happy that I finally had the outlet I needed. My playlist was barely that. I started to search out his music videos. I looked up how old he was and thought maybe he could still release new music.  Then, in 2013, as if answering my prayers, David released the album “The Next Day.” The song “The Stars are Out Tonight” was deliciously him, and the video with Tilda Swinton was everything I expected from Bowie. People started talking about him again.

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But now he is gone and it hurts.  It hurts more than I was ready for it to hurt.  As I am writing this, I am listening to what I think may be the best collection of music I have ever heard, the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.” The songs “Five Years”, “Moonage Daydream” and “Lady Stardust” have been on repeat on and off now for days. “Five Years” being such a powerful song about the world coming to an end it doesn’t even need a music video.  Bowie paints the picture perfectly with his words. Now I am going through and listening to his entire collection album by album, reading up on all the theories about each song because no Bowie song is ever just a song…something I should have done sooner. Now I am going back and watching endless videos of concerts and interviews and looking at photos…and I can’t stop crying.  It all feels too little, too late.

The documentary “Five Years” aired the other day, and it showed clips of Bowie just being Bowie.  In between takes for a music video, rehearsing a song, walking down the street, just being him.  I loved it so much I bought it on DVD.  I still haven’t listened to “Blackstar” because I simply can’t bring myself to. I haven’t yet seen the music video for “Lazarus” where he is essentially saying goodbye because I can’t say goodbye. I don’t want to.

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Everything David Bowie did, he did with his entire being. Every song, every character, every life choice. I want to live my life just like he did. Unapologetically, unashamedly. I wish I could thank him for teaching us to just live. To be ourselves. For showing us how to live a life that is so so full.  To stand up for what we believe in.  To never ever be sorry for who you are.  For making me feel as deeply as I feel right now.  I will be grieving for a long, long time.

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’ll blow our minds…”

 “Because my love for you, will break my heart in two…”

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest / Snowmageddon 2016!!

Hey, that’s me with the amazing Stephen Amell from Arrow. THE Arrow himself!! How did I get to be so lucky? 

Three weekends ago I attended Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in Secaucus, NJ – but I attended as a volunteer. HVFF is my fourth comic con, but it was my first time volunteering and it was an experience I won’t soon forget.

HVFF was to take place the weekend of 1/23/16. I did not, however, think far ahead enough to take off work on Friday the 22nd to help with setup – a mistake I will never ever ever make again. Unfortunately, the event was scheduled in January. In New Jersey. In winter. One never knows what the weather will do here, and we had had a few times where it was supposed to snow but never actually did. Well, not this time, of course. Mother Nature decided that since EVERYONE was travelling to the Garden State, there MUST be a paralyzing blizzard! Sigh. This resulted in the event being cancelled for Saturday.

Oh, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a kickass weekend. I managed to leave a bit early from work on Friday afternoon to get to the hotel right by the Expo Center. My bestest friends Chrisha and Chris were already there (they had enough brainpower to think of setup day!).  Using the magic of social media it was known that Stephen Amell and John Barrowman were in town, too. On Friday night it still hadn’t started snowing, but the storm was definitely on its way affecting some people’s travel to NJ.  Governor Christie declared a State of Emergency in anticipation, effectively cancelling the next day’s activities. People immediately reached out on FB, Twitter, etc to find out what everyone else was doing, what hotels everyone was staying at….People started hotel hopping to meet up with other con goers.

Super genius artist Lord Mesa even came to our hotel to do free sketches. Chrisha, Chris and I got in line with the hopes that we could get a sketch of the 3 of us. In that time, we made friends with two awesome ladies named Amy and Gloria, who reached out to me on Twitter. In the end, we never made it to Lord Mesa because the line was so long, so the 5 of us went to the Embassy Suites next door to see what was going on over there. We played a strange but super fun card game called Fluxx and chatted with other awesome people hanging about.

At one point, Stephen Amell tweeted an Instagram picture near Buffalo Wild Wings nearby. It was fascinating to watch the entire hotel lobby empty within seconds of the pic being posted. After the crowds had cleared a bit we decided we should probably get something to eat and Carrabbas was just around the corner. We bundled up and headed out into the blizzard.


That’s Chris, Chrisha and I in the snow 🙂

When we got to Carrabbas, this guy told us that Stephen Amell was inside with friends and we should let him chill. We had NO idea he was there! The pic was in front of Buffalo Wild Wings. The guy pointed behind us – there was Buffalo Wild Wings! What a troll lol. Well we were 10000% NOT leaving Carrabbas at this point. We never bothered him or approached him but drank up the vibrant energy there.


Carrabbas was PACKED. And because of the blizzard they were understaffed and underprepared and they knocked it out of the park. The staff was all smiles and taking care of everyone all night. Robbie Amell was there, too. While we were waiting for our table, John Barrowman walked in with, who I later found out, Katrina Law.  John went on FB Live to show the internet how much fun everyone was having, then had a snowball fight live on FB, too.

I should mention at this point that I am completely new to the world of Arrow and The Flash. I started watching several weeks ago and so I don’t know everyone or everything yet, so I had not recognized Katrina at all. She later on made snow angels with Chrisha.  I felt a bit left out of some conversations and jokes because I just wasn’t there yet. Next time, again, I will be far more prepared. I am almost caught up. 🙂

Anyway, later that night we attended the Nocking Point mixer. They did not let a silly blizzard keep them from having a kick ass party. Stephen, John and Robbie were there hanging out and talking to people. They are the most down to earth guys, those Amell boys. And for the most part everyone was cool and so they were able to properly hang out. The best part happened when Stephen and John got on stage to entertain us, since the originally scheduled band got snowed out. Between Chrisha and I, I think we have the whole thing recorded on video. Because they were not already freaking awesome enough, Stephen started singing songs from Frozen (YES he sang “Let It Go” and “Do You Want to Build A Snowman” and YES my life is forever changed), but it soon turned into “Copacabana,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and, I swear to God, “Music of the Night.” I experienced a surprisingly very musically gifted Stephen Amell hit some notes that made my heart stop beating. No, really…watch the video!

http://youtu.be/Rq1noMsO1KE

https://youtu.be/Z5uOHa–SkY

(The rest of my videos are after the jump!)

After the amazing show, the party went on for a little bit longer. I bought a few NP shirts at the merch booth. Then at one point Stephen was taking pictures with people and that is how I got the photo at the beginning of this post. He was so sweet! Chrisha also got a fantastic pic with him 🙂 Soon after the party came to an end and we had to brave the elements again. The NJ winter seems to have got to Amell & Co, because they went on FB Live while they tried to get their car out of the snow lol.

Veeeeeery early the next morning, we made our way to the Expo Center because the blizzard was gone, the SOE lifted, and there was a con to run!! 
Chrisha was super lucky to get assigned to work John Barrowman’s autograph table. She was suuuuper busy the rest of the day. Chris was supposed to run Caity Lotz’s autograph table but she could not make it due to the blizzard, so he was moved to the Information Desk. I had been accidentally scheduled for a half day so my only duties were the ticketing booth in the afternoon. When I asked what I could do until then, I was pretty much told I could just help out wherever I wanted or was needed. Cool!

At first it was a bit slow until the con was officially open and the crowds started coming in.  I met a woman who worked with The Lazarus Pit and took this pic of me with the TARDIS for free. I couldn’t believe it. If anyone knows how I can reach them on FB or Twitter please let me know. I forgot to grab a card.

I immediately made friends with one of the other volunteers named Barbara. She is from Hungary here on an au pair and one of the sweetest people ever. She and I walked around the floor, answering questions from attendees and helping however we could. At one point I was approached by two girls who were having ATM trouble, and who were struggling with English a bit. I recognized their accent, and when I saw their receipt in French, I started speaking to them in French, too. They were immediately relieved and felt more comfortable. They needed to get to the Chase bank so I gave them directions and wished them luck.

About 10 mins later, my cell phone rings. A phone call from France.  The girl at the other end of the line was asking if I was Esty, someone told her I speak French and she needed my help. I asked her where on the floor she was and I met up with her. She needed help understand how the autograph tickets worked for Stephen’s table. We went back to Stephen’s table and got her all the info she needed. Then she and I learned her name is Laura and she would be in the area for a few more days before flying back to France. As we were chatting, ANOTHER girl comes up to us to chat bc she heard French and felt right at home. I have to say, that experience right there…that alone made the whole event for me. I hadn’t had the opportunity to really use French in a long time AND they said I spoke excellent. Heh, I still got it! And I was able to help people and make new friends out of it. Beyond words 🙂

Then it was time for photo ops! I had bought a photo op with John Barrowman bc I needed a pic with him where he was hugging me. And, my GOD, did that man deliver:


Check that off my bucket list!! Seriously, how great is this pic?

Now, somehow Chris managed to get a free photo op, which we learned we could use for a group photo op. Naturally we signed up for the Stephen/Barrowman option and produced this delicious work of art:


I can’t even tell you what this photo makes me feel. It’s one of my favorite pics ever taken. Best part was, while we were in line, Chrisha says she wants to hug Stephen and Chris really wants to get Barrowman so would I mind being in the middle.  ….. Would I…MIND?? Seriously? That’s not even a real question!! HELL YES I will do this for you! I mean, look at me in that sandwich!

After a quick bite to eat and a quick stop at a booth that had Labyrinth t-shirts (it’s my favorite movie and I was/still am not handling Bowie’s death well), I went to the ticket booth for the rest of the afternoon. I met a really cool girl named Chantal who showed me the ropes and we talked all afternoon long. It was pretty quiet in the lobby since most people couldn’t make it due to the storm. I did see these fabulous guests, though:

  Jedi convention!

 You can’t NOT take pics with the Ninja Turtles!

Volunteers were allowed to get their shirts signed by the celebrities, if the celebrities were willing to. John Barrowman signed mine 😀 And yes, I did take it off for him to sign it 😛

The rest of the day was busy with end of con stuff. We stayed to help with tear down and putting things away. To say that I was hurting all over is a huge understatement haha. But it was worth all the effort!

Honestly, being a volunteer for a con rather than attending it was a WHOLE new experience for me. I feel like I got more con out of the con as a volunteer than I did as a paid attendee. I have already signed up to volunteer at the make-up date in July bc I just had THAT much fun doing it this time, and am looking to volunteer at other cons. Fandom is my life, my coping mechanism, it changed my life. I want to be as involved as I can!