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"I love fandom!! It's like...all these wonderful people grouped together, and they all care SO MUCH. I mean, how could that EVER be bad?"
The first thing I thought when I head Elizabeth say that was that it was SUCH an amazing thing to say, and SO true. But a lot of people I know in Real Life don't quite think like that. They don't understand fandom, what the point is of being so attatched to something fictional. But for me, it's just...wonderful. And pure love. So after all this time, I believe a dedication is in order to all of my various obsessions, and the friends I've made along the way. And here it is.
Starting from the beginning...
The first time I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I couldn't stay through the whole thing. I was nine years old, and the lightsabers scared me too much. But I loved the rest of it. So much. Then I discovered the original trilogy, and quickly learned which was better.
Ummm. Yeah. OT all the way. But it didn't start out as an obsession. My mom was sure it was just a childhood phase, the way I really liked Scooby-Doo at one point, or the Muppets. That fall, she gave me Harry Potter to read, having no idea what she was getting herself into...
Need I say more? Magic!! Broomsticks! Wizards! Brainy eleven-year-old smart-alecs!! Professor McGonagall! When I finished Sorceror's Stone for the first time, it was in the middle of Silent Reading time. I was so hungry for more Harry Potter that I grabbed the only other JK Rowling book that my teacher had in her classroom:
*Squirms* Maybe that's why I've never had a huge liking for Chamber of Secrets.
So in the meantime, I was having great fun with these new worlds. I could play Jedi or Hogwarts at recess with my other friends, so it was still very much a child-like thing.
I love this picture. Way too cute.
I think the point that I graduated from childish enjoyment to true obsessiveness was when I got my first Star Wars books for my twelfth birthday...
I was rapidly discovering the pure love that was Star Wars. The books went more in-depth with the characters than the movies ever did. My collection grew and grew, so that by now I have two and a half shelves at home devoted to Star Wars books. The really well-written ones were (see above) were fantastic. They introduced you to some wonderfully strong female characters that you didn't get to see in the movies, like Mara Jade...
Oh Mara...you were so awesome, and your death was completely unecessary :-(.
Now, as I grow older and get into new series, I do realize that Star Wars is not the *best* thing in the world, as I was convinced it was for most of my preteen and early teen years. But it will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first fandom, and I connected--still connect--with it so much. It taught me about strength of character, loyalty, laughter, and--most important of all-- what to do in those "oh shit!" moments.
I think I was around twelve when I first discovered the web community. There was this fantastic website called starwarschicks.com which I used to go to regularly, but hasn't updated in a few years. I wish they were still around.
It was on this site that I read my first fanfiction, and discovered that the stuff that I was writing actually had a name! Multiple names actually, the second one being....Maaaaaary-Sue. *Shifts* Needless to say, my writing from my middle-school years has been shoved in the back of my closet, where it will stay for a long, long time.
Come seventh grade, I discovered that I had committed a crime in the eyes of my friend Sophie. The crime was that I had not seen this movie:
And after seeing it, I heartily agreed with her. I don't like to use the word "epic" when describing Lord of the Rings, because it's such an overused word. But really...there is no other way to describe it. I feel like if there was ever a series that would stay with me the rest of my life--never fading in its appeal--this would be it. The story, Middle-Earth itself, the characters...oh God, the characters. There are so many, and they're all so remarkable, but...
These three. Have always been. And will always be. My favorites. SO MUCH LOVE YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I did a book report in eighth grade that focused entirely on the character development of Merry.
I immediately raced to the bookstore to get the books, so that I could read both Fellowship and the Two Towers before the second movie came out. (I figured I'd have an entire year in which to read Return of the King.) We went to the theater two days after TTT opened, and got in line with everyone else. And while waiting in line, I noticed a poster advertising an upcoming movie...
Let it be said that not only did I like Pirates before it was cool, I liked it before anyone else did. December 2002. I had never even heard of Johnny Depp before. I hoped with all my heart that the movie wouldn't disappoint, and we all know how that turned out.
"Adventure...heh! Excitement...heh! A Jedi craves not these things." Yeah, Yoda, well pirates do. And as much as I adore Jedi, that is why pirates will always be cooler. Trouble finds Jedi. Pirates find trouble.
So 2003 was kind of a peak year in that respect. That summer Order of the Phoenix came out, which I only read after finishing Return of the King. Pirates came out, and then it all culminted with the release of the Return of the King movie. All my fandoms were going strong, without any signs of stopping.
The problem was, no one in real life that I knew shared my obsessions. I was the oddball, the "crazy Star Wars girl." Most of my friends in the first couple years of high school thought I was insane, and would always make snide little comments about my insanity and implied immaturity. Well, except for Tamar. Thank God for T... she dressed up as Princess Leia with me to go to the premiere of Revenge of the Sith, and the Harry Potter parties were always at her house. She could understand my obsessiveness with all things Star Wars and LOTR because she felt the same way about Broadway.
Oh Wicked...I tried, I really did, especially because T loved it so much. I could never get into it, though...especially after my brother became obsessed. I think it was Elizabeth who said that it's really weird sharing fandoms with your siblings.
I really don't know why I didn't turn to the web in high school. The only excuses I can give are my mother's overpolicing of my internet use, and cyber-shyness (yes, cyber-shyness, shut up). I really should have, though. I always felt...not lonely, but like no one really understood why or how I felt so passionately about these series, and that was always really frustrating. People like my parents and friends I made later on in high school could accept it, but not understand. Well, except with regards to Harry Potter.
When release parties are that populated, it's pretty easy to find people who are just as passionate about the series as you are.
So fast-forward to Fall 2007. Harry Potter was done, Pirates was done, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings were looong done (well, except for some Star Wars books that are still coming out...but we don't like to talk about those). What's a girl to do? Was fandom just...done?
Nope. I like to think of that as the end of Round One.
Round Two started quite nicely, when my friend Cali linked me with these two beauties.
I don't know that much about art, but that's some really nice work that Ms. Ellerton has there. I had never read a webcomic before, but I really loved the story for both of those, especially The Phoenix Requiem (TPR for short...it's still in progress, check it out www.seraph-inn.com). The first forum that I ever joined was for TPR, and it's the only one I'm still active on. Wonderful additions to my Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
I finally got around to watching Firefly during my second-semester senior year, which was fantastic. It's like a well-written Star Wars with more female characters and without the flashy light swords. And I love the allusions to the old American West. And THEN...and then and then and then...
My wonderful clone, Laura, introduced me to Dr. Who when she came home for spring break, not even a year ago...back when we didn't realize we were clones. I was a little apprehensive when she first told me about it. I heard "1960s sci-fi" and kind of tuned out everything else, including the part about it being a NEW SHOW. Hah. But then I watched it, and all doubt flew from my mind.
It was Eccleston that I first fell in love with. Really, who couldn't love that smile and that "Fan-TASTIC!" I didn't think I could handle a new Doctor after him. But then came Tennant...
Who is just indescribable in his brilliantness.
Really, it was Doctor Who that prompted my return to obsessive fangirlishness. I wanted so badly to be Rose Tyler, doing this...
In the TARDIS, with the Doctor, traveling the whole of time and space. I have to steal from Laura in describing this particular series and what it is to me. (She's my clone, so we have pretty much the same thoughts...only she says them much more articulately).
"Doctor Who is life. It's the humor and the wit. It's the fear and the risk. It's the love and the friendship. It's the loss and the pain. It's the journey and the destination. There is nothing that is in life that is not in this show. To put it succinctly, Doctor Who is everything."
So my fandoms are back. I mean, really, really back. I finally got around to reading The Hobbit and The Silmarillion over summer and winter break, respecitvely...
And promptly smacked myself over the head for not having read them earlier in my life, because both are absolutely brilliant. But now I can finally consider myself a true Tolkien fanatic. I'm starting to dabble in the internets more and more now, and am actually writing fanfiction steadily for the first time since I penned those horrendous Star Wars Mary-Sues way back in the sixth grade.
But this time it's different. Because this time I'm not alone. I have friends, both in real life and on the internet, who actually understand how I can feel such a huge attatchement to these things, and why I have so much love for them all.
Tamar's still always there for me, to remind me to channel the awesome skills of Mace Windu. There's Megan, the only other person I know who's read as many Star Wars books as I have. Hannah, who I met at Tamar's Half-Blood Prince release party, and is still trying desperately to get me to watch Buffy (It'll happen someday, I swear...as soon as I have the time). There's Elizabeth and Emma and Dan and Bungo, and all the rest of the people at CUSFS, which was my saving grace for the vast majority of my first semester at college. All the people on FF.net and the TPR forums that I've been connecting with in the past few months. And then there's these two...
Cali and Laura. My Donna and my Clone. We've got nine months worth of a message thread now, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. So much of it is just pure obsessiveness and insanity, and I love it to bits.
So, in the end, I've learned that loving something is so much richer when you have friends to share it with. It's like the Doctor traveling the universe. Alone, he still loves life beyond the degree that most humans do, even if it makes him kind of lonely. But alone, his smile never lights up his face the way it does when he's with Rose or Martha or Donna. His life is so much fuller when he's with his companions--his friends.
This is why my friends mean more to me than words can express.
And this is why fandom is pure love.
All the pictures came from Google, except for a couple that came from Laura's picspam.