Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Only One New Female Cast Member in Star Wars? I'm So Tired of Having This Argument.

UPDATE: Sources told THR that there is "another substantial role" to fill and that the role is for a female. So that would be 3 out of 14. Just thought I'd let you all know.

I love Star Wars. I always have. My favorite toy as a kid was my Princess Leia action figure. My favorite book was my Star Wars retelling. I was Princess Leia for Halloween, donut hair and all. I've talked about it on podcasts. I've been a big and very loud part of the Star Wars community. I'm known for having lightsabers and a Boba Fett helmet in my trunk at all times. Heck, look at the name of my blog! I don't think my fandom is in question. So please understand that I'm saying this as someone who loves the franchise. WHY THE HELL IS THERE ONLY ONE NEW FEMALE CAST MEMBER IN STAR WARS: EPISODE VII?

The announcement of the cast happened today on StarWars.com:

"The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.
Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.
Director J.J. Abrams says, "We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud."
Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015."

Yes, that is 13 announced cast members and two of them are women. Oh my god, I am so tired of having this argument. You think it gets tedious when I constantly talk about the way women are represented in film or how they're not represented? Imagine how tedious it is to continue to see the same things almost every time a freaking film is announced! 

Are we not 51% of the population? (Can we assume that this is also the case in the universe of Star Wars, at least with the humanoids?) Not to say (as Devin Faraci says so eloquently in his piece on the subject) that we should be giving a list of demands for all writers, but I'd say the balance is a bit off. Wouldn't you?

As a kid, I played Star Wars in my backyard. My girlfriends and I had to make some of the male characters female to do so. (I was a pretty kick-ass lady Han Solo, if I do say so myself.) I had to do the same thing when I played as Lady Jason in Battle of the Planets. We just weren't represented. In the seventies, this could be excused. I'll even give a pass to the prequels, though I was angry about it at the time. (My anger over that was eclipsed by my anger over all the other stuff in the films.) 

But guys, the Internet is here. It has been for a while and we female sci-fi fans aren't exactly quiet about what we love. There is simply no excuse for this. The Extended Universe is full of amazing female characters. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is as well. (For the record, I'm totally fine with not using the EU for the story. I'd like to be surprised, too, though I'm sad to know we won't get Mara Jade.) We female fans of not just Star Wars, but sci-fi in general are loud and legion. We cosplay as Slave Leia and Senator Leia. We cross play as Han Solo and C-3P0. We play all the video games. (Yes, I played KOTOR on both the Light and Dark Sides. As a woman.) 

I'm honestly heartbroken. I've been proud of my Star Wars fandom for my entire life and I'm crushed to know that the one big failing of the films, the lack of female characters, is going to continue. I don't have children, but I do have a young niece (who loves both My Little Pony and Transformers: Rescue Bots) who isn't going to see herself in the film the way my nephew will. My nephew, who will see mostly boys having adventures isn't going to be affected positively either. My niece, like I did with the original trilogy, may end up loving it anyway, but unlike me, she has far more choices. She's got Frozen. She's got Hunger Games. She's got female-driven comedies. She's got most of the shows on Syfy, with kick-ass (and not-kick-ass because every sci-fi lady doesn't need to be perfect, strong or a good guy) women and many of them. She doesn't need your Star Wars if she doesn't see herself. 

So, J.J. Abrams, Disney, Kathleen Kennedy, prove to me that you hear me and everyone else talking about this. Don't use the argument that she'll be one of the leads so we'll be represented. (So was Leia in a sea of men.) Don't tell me that this is leading to more ladies in future films. (If we're half the population, we're always half the population and seeing women in a film shouldn't be a reward for patience.) Show us something else. Be better. Tell your female fans that you hear us.

May the Force be with you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Hate TEAVANA, or My Epic Customer Service Experience From Hell

UPDATE: I was called by Latonya at Teavana this morning and not only did she apologize profusely for the issues I've had, but she completely took care of the situation. I think it's important to post when things go well as well as when they go badly. Thanks Latonya. I appreciate the help.

I was going to re-write the experience I had with Teavana, a.k.a. the company with the worst customer service in history, but I thought you'd get it from the email I just sent. FYI: This leaves out the hours I've spent on hold with them. 

 To whom it may concern,

 I have never, in my life, dealt with a worse company. Here is what happened to me and I'd like this resolved immediately. On 12/2 (Cyber Monday), I ordered a present from your site for my mother's birthday, which was the 5th. I chose 2 day shipping and placed my order. Not only did the final confirmation on the site give me the wrong shipping (they gave me the free one, but it wouldn't have gotten there in time), but I got no confirmation email.

 I sent an email to customer service and learned from the automatic response that it would take 2-3 days to hear back. I sent another email saying I needed one faster and finally got through to a person.

 This person told me that she was sorry and that the site was having issues. (I'd seen this on Twitter). I had to pay for overnight shipping (it would go out Tuesday, Dec. 3 and arrive Wednesday, Dec. 4). Nothing was comped, but she ran my card right there. On Wednesday night, I received an email saying there was a problem with my payment and that it hadn't shipped. I PAID FOR OVERNIGHT SHIPPING and I only hear about this AFTER it was supposed to be there. (Also, I checked with my credit card company and they said no one ever tried to run a purchase.) I emailed them back and again got the 2-3 business day response. Can you see why I was frustrated?

 Now, I have 15.6k Twitter followers, so I said something about your customer service there. Got a super quick response then. I finally spoke to someone and she ran a different card, put in extra tea and waived the shipping. (It would still have been late for her birthday.) She apologized, but I was on hold for a half an hour. She came back on and said that her computer froze during the transaction, but that it DEFINITELY went through. Also important: She confirmed my mother's address as the shipping address.

 Then I checked my card and saw two charges. One for the product and one for a different amount . I went back on twitter and was told that one was to see if I had enough funds for the transaction. Seriously? [Note: leaving out the prices here, but neither of them was a round number.] You have got to be kidding me. I then asked that a manager call me. When he did, he was rude. (To be fair, I was pretty angry.) He told me that it was like being at a hotel. I explained that that was to cover mini-bar charges or stolen remotes. You sell TEA! Then he told me my OTHER card didn't go through. Also, a complete lie unless your site is having trouble. (You'll see in a moment why I KNOW it's a lie.)

 I told him to cancel the order because I had had enough. I tried to order the perfect teamaker from Amazon, only to find out that they didn't have it and didn't know when it was coming back. I got something similar from another company. I also ordered your tea (my mother's favorite) and tried to get it shipped overnight (since my mother had been waiting for her birthday present), but of course, there was a stock issue. Still, I spent the money at Amazon.

 So today, guess what showed up at MY door in California and not in NY at my mother's house? The order. So, after canceling the order, here it is, IN THE WRONG PLACE. Charges are still on my credit card. Now, I spent the money at Amazon because you guys screwed up. Now I'm going to have to return this? Have someone contact me immediately.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Pretender Panel From Comikaze Expo 2013!

Hey guys! As many of you know, I've been lucky enough to become a part of The Pretender universe. It all started when my good friend Valerie Whitlock introduced me to show creator Steven Long Mitchell to get him on social media.

What I didn't realize at the time was that I'd not only find wonderful friends in Steve and co-creator Craig W. Van Sickle, but that I'd end up helping to create the history of The Centre. It was announced a little while ago that I will be writing a series of graphic novels (yes, they'll be cannon) about the origin of the Centre and a certain object that links it all together. I recently did a 10 page preview with art by the insanely talented Jeffrey Henderson. I'm so excited! I don't have a release date yet as I'm still writing them, but I promise I'll get you the info as soon as I can.

In the meantime, check out the panel Steve, Craig and I did at Comikaze Expo 2013 to get all the info on what's coming! Also, check out the official website: The Pretender Lives and check out all of Jeff's work (music, comics, storyboards, etc) on his Tumblr page. I'm off to get myself some Pez.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cosplay Harassment at NYCC: What Happened and What to Do About It

It was Sunday at New York Comic Con and I was up in the press room, resting my feet. I overhead someone telling her friend about her partner's harassment on the floor of the con. Considering that I was on my way to the anti-bullying panel I was on, I had to say something.

This is how I met Diana Pho, the woman in question. I just want to say this about what you're about to read. This sort of thing happens all the time and it's absolutely, positively unacceptable. That said, it's going to continue to happen the same way taxes, bad pizza outside of NY and traffic in LA happen. Unfortunately, you can't prevent harassment completely.

So ... I wanted to write this piece to focus on awareness and prevention instead of saying "bullying and harassment=bad," because we already know that. I also wanted to get you all the info about this incident. The only way to change this sort of thing is to make people aware of what's going on and why cosplay does not equal consent and what to do it if happens to you. I spoke to Diana and Lance Fensterman, Global Vice Presiden of ReedPop, which runs NYCC to talk about the issue. Here is what they had to say.

DIANA (who wrote about the incident on her blog here) tells us what happened:

I was at Artist Alley of New York Comic Con with a friend on Saturday when a film crew approached me about doing a quick interview. I had just completed one with a very polite and professional group earlier, so I didn't think this interview would be an issue. A warning bell went off, however, when they were reluctant to give the name of their show, and as soon as the host started asking questions, I was on my guard. The interviewer (which I later found out was Mike Babchik of the show Man Banter), asked me several sexual and racially fetishizing questions -- like whether he could pay me to stand next to him with my parasol if it rained (because he wanted "to buy an umbrella with an Asian girl"), whether I was a geisha (which immediately implied that I was submissive stereotype of an Asian woman), and finally, he made a disgusting comment that girls who stood next to him got a cream pie.  

I could feel the immediate anger boiling inside of me ready to unleash as the conversation went on, and only when I threatened to slap him did he and his crew flee the scene. I am usually a very sunny and cheerful person, and rarely get angry, but the objectifying way he treated me was too much. It also reminded me of all the other women and girls I know who had been creeped on at conventions (or worse) over the years, so I didn't want to let his crew get away thinking they were cool and macho to do something like that. 

 LANCE tells us when he learned about the incident: 

I am very aware of the situation since it was first reported. Since that time I’ve been working directly with the two victims that have spoken up directly.  I was alerted to the issue by our security team Saturday evening and our PR manager got immediately involved as it included members of the press. 

 DIANA talks about the response to her blog post about the incident.

It had been uproariously positive. Part of me was a bit afraid of backlash -- but a larger part of me was so very angry -- and not for me, but for all of those other young women that were probably also creeped upon by those guys. I didn't even realize that it would go viral so quickly. I wrote the initial tumblr post half-sleep at 1 AM Sunday, and when I woke up a few hours later, the post had already had hundreds of notes, and even more piled on once I had identified Man Banter. Because people tweeted at NYCC and then Lance Fensterman, I was able to connect with Lance quickly and he addressed my concerns within 10 hours of the post; and I was fielding responses all Sunday morning before leaving for the convention for the last day. There, of course, I had the pleasure of sitting on the anti-bullying panel and met you and the rest of the talented, dedicated advocates, which was especially inspiring, and to talk to Lance face-to-face.

I was totally taken back, however, to find major websites like Boing Boingthe Daily Dot and Mediabistro covering the story when I came into work on MondayOn Tuesday, the Asian-American activist group 18 Million Rising also contacted me saying that they wanted to hold a petition campaign against Babchik to hold Sirius XM Radio accountable in investigating him and his actions at NYCC. I never thought that one post could attract so much attention, but I think it sparked another fire in the on-going conversation about treatment of women in geekdom. 

 DIANA tells us about the response from NYCC:

Immediately after the incident, I tried looking for the group to take their photo, but they were no where to be found. I didn't want to go to on-site con security because I didn't have a picture ID to use to track them down, and at the time, I didn't even know the group's name. On top of that, I had my panel moderating duties to think of, and the panel I was able to moderate -- Geeks of Color Assemble: Minorities in Fandom -- was too important for me not to miss. (I greatly appreciate my panelists to being the first ones to listen and support me as I vented right before we went on stage!)

After I wrote the tumblr post and had a secure ID on the culprits on Sunday, I then went to the NYCC website's contact page to see who I could talk too. Unlike the rest of the senior staff, Lance's title as show manager and his description "ask me anything," seemed the most appropriate choice. I wrote him a letter explaining the situation and asking for his assistance in stopping Man Banter from continuing their actions at NYCC. I also tweeted to both him and the NYCC twitter. By then, my tumblr post had gained serious traction, and others were tweeting at NYCC as well, until Lance responded around 11 AM. I hadn't expected something to come so quickly, and he really did a great reply to my letter, which I posted.
However, I was concerned about a couple more things: 1) how did Man Banter get in? and 2) making sure that security policies were clear enough for other cosplayers to get the help they needed if they were in the same situation I was. By then, I had read Bethany Maddock's account online and how she had been harassed by Man Banter before me, tried to get con security to get rid of them, only to see them still on the floor hours later. So a greater concern of mine was to ask Lance what measures would be taken to be sure attendee complaints about harassment don't slip through the cracks. I got to talk to Lance briefly after the feedback session, and I hoped I had made those point across. Just because my experience had a happy ending doesn't let NYCC off the hook from preventing this from happening again at future cons.

LANCE tells us what to do if it happens to us:

Report the issue to the nearest staffer or security agent.  We take the safety of all attendees of any ReedPOP event as our first and highest priority.  Once alerted the reaction varies based on the incident.  If we witness something as it happens we will immediately intervene.  If it is presorted to us after the fact we then attempt to find the perpetrators and ascertain precisely what transpired.  But no matter the issue, when it comes to harassment, we react, investigate and take action, this issue is of the utmost importance to us as the event organizer.

In terms of raising awareness of the issue, LANCE says:

I think the responsibility of the cos player is to make the issue known to any representative of the event organizer immediately.  From that point it is really the responsibility of the event organizer to take immediate and appropriate action.  I would also suggest the cos players research prior to the event if the event the intend to attend has a clear and actionable anti harassment policy.  We do.  That indicates a commitment to creating a safe environment for all.  It is not a guarantee, but it does clearly show that the organizers care and commit to taking action on the behalf of victims.

DIANA says:

I think keeping the conversation alive is key. There have been fan-driven anti-harassment groups out there like Cosplay is Not Consent, the Backup Project, the Order of the White Feather, SFFEquality. There are also proactive solutions people are proposing to check in on convention policies; before NYCC, I had signed John Scalzi's pledge concerning convention harassment policies -- that I would not attend a convention that didn't have one in place. Over 1,000 professional writers, artists, creators and fans in the SF/F community also signed that pledge, and it's been a good way for people to be mindful of maintaining safe spaces. I hope to see other fandoms and geek communities do that more: help protect each other mutually in the spaces we share.

If I can give a piece of advice to people who have suffered from abuse and harassment, I say this: it is not your fault this happened to you. It is never your fault. And the most important part is for that person to feel safe again, and there are many ways of doing so. You can speak out, you can find support, you can leave a space if you need to heal yourself. I shall also emphasize that you don't need to speak out if you feel that it would be too unsafe. 

I understand that in my case, I spoke out and took a big risk, and I was very, very lucky not to get any major blowback. But I know that all victims of harassment and bullying may not be in a position where they feel like they can take that risk, whether it is because they are already marginalized (as in the case of transgender people) and risk suffering even further violence, or even if they know that they do not feel comfortable with all of the possible negative flack they would get (because victim-blaming is still a big part of our culture).  If a victim needs to protect themselves first after harassment happens, that's OK too.

And there are two things I'll tell people who witness harassment: one, don't be compliant. And two: always believe someone if they tell you they had gone through harassment. Don't blame them or force them to do anything they feel unsafe doing. Support, listen, and respect them - those are the key things are absolutely necessary. 

Finally, let me add the statement from LANCE about the NYCC policy:

We regret that this happened at New York Comic Con and want the community to know that we have always been and will continue to be extremely dedicated to making our events safe for everyone.  If anything, these incidents have only strengthen our resolve to do more to create a safe, fun, supportive, bullying and harassment free environment for all.  Enough cannot be done to insure this.

Well, guys, there you have it. 

Perhaps it's time to get these groups together. How about a panel about what to do if this happens? Perhaps a page on the official site. Maybe we can get groups like Cosplay is Not Consent and NYCC together to talk about things like getting fraudulent press passes, making the no tolerance policy very clear and what to do if it happens to you. 

So, sound off below. I want to hear what you guys have to say.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Honoring Fionnie in Anne Wheaton's 2014 Celebrity Pet Adoption Calendar

Before I lost my beloved dog Fionnie this past Spring, he and I got to do one of the coolest projects I've ever been a part of. We posed for Anne Wheaton's 2014 Celebrity Pet Adoption Calendar.

 Along with Anne and Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, Felicia Day, Geoff Johns, Amy Berg, Bonnie Burton, Phil Lamarr (who also lost his pet since we did the calendar), Kevin Christy, Clare Grant and Seth Green, Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal and Rod and Heidi Roddenberry, Fionnie, Kunkle and I posed for this amazing calendar. The proceeds go to benefit the Pasadena Humane Society.

 If you make a 100% tax deductible donation on Anne and Wil's Wiggle Waggle Walk page, you'll get one of these wonderful calendars with some of the cutest pets out there, including my buddy Fionnie. Here's why PHS is so awesome, in Wil's words:

 "They’re adding a low cost wellness clinic, an obedience training facility and a pet supply store. They are also adding additional kennels and a grassy play area where dogs can be brought out for socializing and exercise. We are so excited to assist in fundraising efforts to help with this addition. Pasadena Humane Society has a very high adoption success rate (96%) and adding on to the shelter will help with the care of these adopted pets. This is a 20 million dollar project so they need all the help they can get to make this possible."

 Love the pics? Make sure you check out photographer Pixie Spindel's website. She not only does wonderful work, but she's a super cool lady!

 On a personal note, Fionnie must have been sick when this was shot, but I didn't know yet. We had a wonderful day with Pixie and Anne, posing on the couch, out in the yard and watching him be the super silly clown he was. It means more to me than I can say to know that he was a part of this and that he's a small reason that another animal might get a family to love.

 You can check out Wil's blog post about the project here. Guys, please head over and donate. You get a great calendar, you help homeless animals get wonderful forever homes and you honor all your beloved pets, past and present. I know Fionnie is smiling down on this.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Steampunk and Kitties That Need a Good Home!

As many of you know, I lost my sweet pup Fionnie a few months ago. I was completely heartbroken and I didn't know when I'd recover enough to get a new little buddy. After moving and with the help of my wonderful boyfriend Jeff and my awesome pals, I got through it and it was time.

Jeff and I, right after I adopted little Stephen "Peanut" Pawking at Clockwork Couture.

I'd been chatting about it with the lovely Anne Wheaton and she sent me a picture of a beautiful little kitty. Though I wasn't able to get that one (and she was adopted the second she was available!), Anne directed me to Donna at the coolest clothing store in the universe, Clockwork Couture.

Donna had rescued 18 (yes, you read that right) little kittens and there were three left for adoption. I picked out Stephen (who I'm calling Peanut, because I never call my animals by their real name, which anyone who saw the musical Cats understands), but his little brother Ash and his buddy Luna are still available!

Now, Ash has a heart problem and he's too little to get an EKG, but he's the sweetest little guy! He may not have more than 5 or so years, but he really needs a good home and a family to love him. He's super friendly and a huge cuddle bug and wouldn't leave Jeff alone for a sec! (Of course, all animals treat him like he's got pockets full of bacon.) Guys, if there are any of you out there who could take him in, please call the store and ask for Donna, okay? 818-478-1515. (It's in Burbank, CA.)

Stephen and Ash. Baby Ash is on the left. The little guy on the right is on my lap right now.

Look at that face! How can you resist? (Believe me, I'd have taken them all if I could have!) Then there is Luna, the little "fruit bat." She started out feral, but is a complete love! She's really sweet and gentle and her eyes! Oh my god! Are you swooning yet?

Just imagine waking up to this sweet little face in the morning! She could be yours!

I try to do as much as I can for animal rescue. Believe me, if I ever strike it rich, I'm going to open a no kill preserve for rescue animals of all kinds. But in the meantime, I wanted to get the word out there about these two lovely little balls of fluff that need forever homes and the wonderful place that rescues them. I've been grinning since I brought little Peanut home last night. Just look:

This tiny little guy has healed my heart. I think Fionnie would have adored him. He's even managed to charm my wonderfully grumpy (and absolutely loveable and cuddly) nineteen-year-old Kunkle cat. I found them on the couch like this a few minutes ago:

He also jumped on Kunkle and gave his tail and emergency grooming.

In addition to their kitty awesomeness, Clockwork Couture has the frakking coolest clothes and Steampunk goodies I've ever seen! Guys, please pass this on to anyone you know you loves Steampunk AND kitties. Let's get these two little fuzzy wuzzies a forever home!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Moving Day or Look! Ghosts! Run Away!

It's so strange how quickly a place you call home can turn into a white painted box. As I've been removing art and swords from my walls, my house has felt less and less like mine. It's really odd, this feeling of being completely rudderless and totally displaced. I've never had this happen before during a move. A woman and her munchkin were coming over to look at the place as I was leaving for a run the other day, and it crushed me. It was a shock, thinking that the site of so many milestones was about to become someone else's. Those of you who keep up with my blog know that, in between my geek news and odd collection of show biz events and nerd girl arguments, I sometimes mention my real life. (Believe me, my job is not real life.) Something hit me today that I wanted to pass on, and this seemed like the best place to do it.
Me in my yard with my sword. What? Don't you have one? 

I've lived in this house for four years now. It's little and cute and had a yard (my first since I was a kid) and I loved it. I moved in here with my ex-husband and actually discussed buying it. I thought it was mine, you know? That my weird-ass life was finally going to have some stability. It's not that I like anything normal or the idea of settling down in any way, believe me, but one thing grounding me would allow me to go off and act like a crazy person in every other area of my life. Then came the tidal wave.

 I've chronicled the divorce in an earlier post, and I have no wish to revisit that. It was ultimately a very, very, very good thing, and life changing in brilliant and magical ways, but I'll tell you, the agonizing process of working my way through it is frakking splattered all over these walls like blood stains. I remember wandering from room to room for hours, trying to find one single inch of this place that didn't remind me of what I'd lost. I threw things out that reminded me of him and us. I moved the furniture. My parents came out and stayed with me for weeks while I tried to forget the visual of him moving his shit out of the house, incidentally while I was on the phone collaborating about my very first comic book and trying not to throw up from the shock. I worked so hard on getting over everything in a healthy way (and I was phenomenally brutal with myself) that I practically repainted these walls with a stronger version of myself.

My former roomie Jaime's earlier and similar experience with the same thing helped. So did having someone else in here to talk to. When she finally moved out (and into the home of her sweetie, which is wonderful), I was left alone to "repaint." Once again, I was starting to feel normal. Then another explosion. I lost my job and my appendix blew up and I almost died on my den floor.

My wonderful Fionnie

Why yes, you are right. I should start carrying around four leaf clovers, nail horseshoes to my wall, stop stepping under ladders, breaking mirrors etc. I should never say the name of the Scottish play and stop being a vegetarian for New Year's Day so I can eat all the good luck corned beef I can hold.

Many of you read about the appendix thing in my memorial to Fionnie, but here it is in a nutshell. I thought I had food poisoning for 12 hours, during which I watched Downton Abbey, because what else do sick people do? Matthew and Lady Mary soothed me enough to finally sleep, after which I tried to eat a single bite of pizza. Then KABLAM! (everything that happens in my life should have a comic book sound effect), it burst. It took me 45 minutes to crawl to my phone to call 911. I kept passing out and my pup kept waking me up. I had my head on the floor boards, thinking that the wood pattern was the last thing I was going to see in the world. I screamed into them over and over until someone finally came to get me. Don't laugh at the overly artsy language here, because I swear to you, I said this to myself as I was crawling, but I felt like I was laying down a carpet of agony (and possibly fluids of some sort) as I slid across the floor. Okay, go ahead and laugh, but it's true, and I think about it every single time I walk past that spot.

 I lost my pet python Obie in this house. I lost my lovely little tabby cat Bee. I lost my funny little rat Millie. And as many of you know, I lost my best friend Fionnie here, which I wrote about right before it happened. I got the news weeks before, that he was sick and not going to make it, but he seemed to be doing okay. Then the night before WonderCon, I climbed into bed, he hopped up and fell asleep, and then woke up screaming. I knew it was time. I took him in and made the terrible but ultimately easy decision to end his pain. Coming back to this place that night was awful. Dragging each foot up the 32 stairs to my place, knowing I'd never see his sweet face at my door again ... I felt like I was wearing lead boots. My wonderful boyfriend Jeff made the con so easy for me and kept me laughing the whole time, but I knew it was going to hurt like hell when I got home. (Honestly, I wouldn't have gotten through this without him, and I'll never be able to thank him enough for his sweetness through the entire thing.)

My beautiful little Bee

Not a day goes by when I don't look up and expect to see Fionnie, or leave a piece of food on my plate, only to find myself starting to call him over for it. He's in these walls, too, and that makes me tear up every single time I think about it. As Jeff so wisely told me, there are ghosts in this place, and I finally gathered the courage to move. I'm thrilled that I made the decision. I've been forcing myself to throw out worn out old memories and dusty moments as I pack, and it's been cathartic in the extreme. But yesterday I kind of lost it again as I looked at my bare walls and watched that woman walk up my stairs into the site of events in my life, ready to take it over.

The amazing Jeff and I at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards

It hit me then that there were lovely things that happened here, too. I saw Jeff for the first time at the bottom of those stairs. There have been life changing moments here recently. I've sat on this couch in this room as I got my show with Stan Lee, published my comic, booked my pinup and calendar shoots and my appearances on Attack of the Show, got my new job, and so many, many other things. Hell, this was the site of my being stronger than I've even been in my life as I dragged myself out of the abyss I felt like I was falling into. I'm really proud of that. I can't believe I'm saying this, but there are things about this place I'm going to miss. Okay, not the stairs though. They make my butt hurt. A lot.

Nerding out on Attack of the Show

So here is the thing that hit me. (Remember that thing? From about a thousand words ago? I did promise you a thing.) As I carried yet another box of stuff down those stairs (full of items from my honeymoon, Fionnie's old and mungy dog toys and other assorted and painful crap), I remembered something I told a friend when I decided to give up doing makeup and acting and start a new life as a reporter in a new city where I knew no one. You get to re-work your life any time you want.

You can change jobs, add and subtract people from your life, decide what memories you're going to keep and which ones you're going to ... well, not discard, because they're always there, but remove reminders of. And they're all coming with you if you want them to. You can also choose to leave them behind. Like going off to college or moving to a new city or starting a new relationship or career, you get to reinvent yourself and your life. Fionnie is no less with me at the new place than anywhere else, but now I won't have to see the last spot he slept in every day. I can throw out the things I don't want and live without constant reminders. Heck, I can get a new couch. All the things that happened on this one are still there, but now I don't have to look at the claw marks he made or the crumbs that are embedded in the cushions. Also, no more stairs.

 It's going to be nice to make new memories.