Growing up in Geekycon
I never learned how to use twitter. It’s something that escaped me because of its revolving door of tweets that flow so fast I can’t read them all. So finding out Olivia Dolphin tweeted something to me and I didn’t take a week to know surprised me.
From that point on, I was cradling Olivia’s baby, Wizards in Space Literary Magazine. Months of planning, google hang outs, and furiously drawing things that I knew weren’t going to be seen anyway but I needed to do to get the right art out there in the end. And I don’t mind doing this for the rest of my life.
The Magazine needed to debut at Geekycon, and its success introduced me to so much.
I lugged a giant cardboard spaceship and dozens of books in a suitcase. Olivia ran over to me and we embraced. This was our time ( Goonies reference anyone? ), to finally show the world our work, and I was eager to make the booth. I got a vender pass which I’d admit made me feel extra cool. I’m a kid, I get to enjoy the simple things. I was so jittery, I had not slept a single minute the night before, and was going to be at the convention from 8am to midnight, including five hours for rocking out at the concerts. Which means by the end of day 1 of Geekycon I’d be awake for 48 hours. How could I sleep? I knew this year was going to be different than the rest. This year, I felt like I was finally a part of the community I loved.
Day one was filled of reuniting with friends, handing out my annual HPA comic book (this year’s being about the geekycon quidditch grudge match), and selling my friends’ stuff at the booth. Although I do have a knack at getting someone to cover me so I could run around trying to film the convention for what most people will know me for and that’s the Geekycon Music Video Recap.
Now my memories don’t work in chronological order (which is pointless brain, why do you play me like this) So I’ll be sectioning off memories to the people that made them possible. EDIT: in hindsight of just finishing this, most of these are thank you infested paragraphs more than memories. Which I don’t have a problem with seeing as it’s Esther Day while I’m writing this , but just a warning. So there is A LOT to read, and if you just want to read about yourself, I’d scroll carefully. But there is a point where I stop and regain essay form.
From tweets to a crying mess at geekycon, we progressed a lot in those months. I can’t even muster the words like you can to say how much I appreciate you. You work so hard on so many different things. You write, you make music, you volunteer, you lead, you sell, you laugh, you cry, and most importantly you manage. You manage through the world and create so much out of it. You celebrate so many people and their stories. You are one of my role models, and the determination to not let you down fed me through 3 am art runs. And Geekycon memories with you was 8am mornings setting up the booth, filming pep band, and cheering you on at open mic. To letting me do a dramatic reading of your brilliant foreword which I’m glad is going to be the thing people will remember me by. You gave us friendship bracelets of the big and little dipper. A bracelet I admit I wear too often now because of the sentiment sprinkled on it like the stars inside of its pendant.
When I go back to school in two weeks, I’ll bring with me all that creative energy you put out to the world. I wish we had more than 3 days together, I wish we had a little office in the corner of the world. I’d walk in with a tray of coffees and say in my chicagoan accent “Hey boss!”. We’ll have a cork board by our desks, snitchwich wrappers pinned down with our geekycon lanyards lazily hanging. Claudia comes in, wizard rock shirt on and a new brand of lipstick. We talk about some Wizard Punk plans and then we lose ourselves into our laptops. Perhaps it’s not an office, maybe it’s early morning meetings in a coffee shop working on a zine. It could be a million different scenarios because as long as Olivia is there, I know I’m going to do my greatest.
Denim jacket in tow, Claudia had brought her amazing snitchwich zine to the booth so I could help set it up. We hugged, in denim jacket harmony. Claudia really has been there for me since the beginning, she includes me in stuff I would be too shy to engage every Geekycon. She helps me crawl out of my shell every year, and I would fight for her. Seriously just try me. This year’s Geekycon with Claudia was being invited to my first panel. Not even just a fandom panel but one dealing with race. Something I hold very dearly as an issue. The jump from power point presentations in a classroom to a room filled with people and a microphone was a little scary, but it’s been such a low-key dream of mine. I always told myself the day I’m in a panel is the day where I’ve reach the top. That the idea of anyone wanting to hear me talk about something was it for me, I can go home now and never leave it being satisfied. And that was all Claudia’s doing.
Claudia is also the punkest person I know. She’ll also make sure you know that you are one too, despite your protests. But Claudia is still more punk than me. She will give up her front row spot for you just because you’re small. She will wrock out with you for five hours and you both scream out lyrics. She will join you in the crying mess that is the last set of the night. Harry and the Potters ending with Dumbledore? Did they want to kill us that night? I’ve never felt so emotional, and I wasn’t alone. I hope I never have to see a wrock show without you.
As you know from the prologue post of this on my Medium, Jack is still probably the reason I went to my first Leakycon. And the evolution of our friendship is amazing. From a badly made Accio Books video from my channel to selling your stuff at our booth. A tight hug to start off the weekend, to ending it with sharing the best shirts in the world.
I’m proud of Jack for so many things, especially for being able to transition. In the beginning, I always looked up to Jack because he was hard working and funny and kind. As time went on and he came out, I can now say I look up to him as someone I can confer with. Jack let me also help him in his Will it Waffle Live this year, although he did trust a nearsighted person to pick people from the audience. Maybe next time I’ll bring in chickfila to waffle, a Florida staple of food. At the Esther Earl Ball I remember rocking out to the Ghostbusters theme song and spotting Jack with some other friends. So I ghostbusted my way over to them and we had a blast dancing together. Which isn’t hard with Claudia’s mad DJ skills. Also, Jack didn’t know we have a Doc Brown at Universal. So next time you’re in Florida, I’ll see what universal connections I can pull. Then again this also applies to anyone on this Medium post. I just think it’s a crime to not meet the really cool Doc Brown here. It really makes up a little bit for not having the ride anymore, and being as Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies of all time ( and I know it’s also Jack’s), it’s always a weekend Universal treat to see.
There was a point where he did come to the booth and bought our magazine, and I told him on saturday, that making most of the art for the magazine I had his videos playing on a playlist. So really we should also thank Mark for helping me stay focused through really bad fanfic and Fifty Shades of Grey. Anyway, I consider Mark as a really cool dude and was a little surprised by his appearance. Obviously he is cooler than me so I was very startled when he asked for me to sign it. I thought to myself, what is this, shouldn’t I be asking you to sign something like uh.. a framed Chuck Tingle fanfic? Regardless, I did it, wishing I practiced writing my name beforehand. He wasn’t the only person who wanted my signature. And this was all very new to me. I believe he was one of the first and that’s why I remember it very clearly. Mark also joined Claudia as to say I’m punk all weekend. But hey, maybe they’re right. I did get my art teacher (who was Umbridge in the flesh) fired, Dumbledore’s Army style. A story for another time possibly.
Mark sat next to me at my first panel (made possible by wizard punk Claudia) and he was such a polite person honestly. I was way too shy during the panel and I guess he noticed and kept looking at me like “Hey, I’ll segway to you if you want. Also, I got free Hamilton tickets if you want to come?”
Okay I might be stretching the last part but he was always conscious of my nervousness and that really gave me just an ounce of more courage. It was cool to find out we also shared some same childhood experiences during the panel. Basically what I’m saying is Mark is the gift that keeps on giving, because after his signing I found him and he indulged me with the blessing that is a Chuck Tingle email. Will we ever find out who Mr. Tingle is? Is this the new My Immortal?
Thraen and Maddy, I’d like to take this moment and thank you for being my copilots at the booth. For those three days you guys were my rock, my Dwayne, my Johnson. I’ve never had to sell things to people so thank you for helping me do basic math and talking to people. Your confidence really resonated in me, and I think I’ve learned a lot this weekend from being sat next down to the both of you. Thraen, you made one of the cutest zines, and I’m starting to think you really are Scorpius Malfoy in the flesh. Plus you have got to be the best seekers ever, you caught that snitch in like 15 minutes! Mad skills that I didn’t get to while you were spending countless hours working on the editorial team for Wizards in Space.
Maddy, I’m so glad you sold your zines this year , I’m honored to share a space with it. You are one of the keys to this community that unlocks opportunity. I know people will take your zine to heart and use their voice.
Paul and Joe Degeorge
The snitchwich men. Wearing yellow like uniform, they provided the coolest experiences this Geekycon. Fueling people up with food and music with snitch by snitchwich 2016 or wizard wrock shows at the end of the night. There to tell you that you did great at something you low-key was very nervous about. There to contribute to your lit mag, there to witness with you a bathroom concert. There to provide the most safest moments in my life. The ones where I can be next to a stage purely in the heat of the moment in wizard rock. I don’t know what makes wizard rock concerts so special. Adrenaline running hot in my body. Why in that moment, I feel so safe. The part of my year I work towards to. To let go of haunting memories of bullying or abusive households and just be there bouncing up and down to a sax solo. Ending the night with Dumbledore, making me cry my eyes out as I realize this will be the end of my wizard rock intake for a while. Crying harder as I resonate the lyrics to people I’ve lost and would of loved to have with me at this moment. Yet the end of the night I’m never too upset from it. I’m energized from it. Their presence have this power, and it’s so important to so many people. I think really all I need is a 30 minute discussion about E.T before riding the ride at Universal. What I didn’t know I needed was to buy their food in a bathroom.
Lauren Fairweather and Matt Maggiacomo
Mom and Dad of the year, their generosity goes well beyond the walls of the convention center. Always supporting their friends and I can’t believe I get to be someone they consider cool enough to be included. Lauren’s smile could cure anyone’s bad day and Matt’s ability to be a singing tree can make someone’s night in a heartbeat. Matt was also the first person to buy my poster. I worked really hard on that poster and sadly barely anyone bought it (which I should of seen in hindsight seeing as it could be hard to have a poster in an airplane or convention. Should of brought rubber bands.) but when he picked it out my heart soared. I’m glad I included him and his son in my annual HPA comic, it was truly one of my favorite panels.
This year’s Geekycon was the first convention my fake parents went to. When I mean fake parents I mean these lovely married ladies named Dania and Tekeisha who take care of me when my actual parents can’t. Although my father banned me from ever seeing them ever again because of homophobia, I’m so happy they were able to come all the way to Geekycon to have fun and also see me. I mention this now because Dania told me she bought at least every button Lauren was selling despite not knowing much about wizard music. She was in awe with all my friends out there selling things like shirts and pins and cult sandwiches. To them, everything was new, so I’m glad they lingered to people like Lauren. Someone who is also very supportive of my Geekycon videos. I remember when she commented on my first one, I was so excited I didn’t shut up about it all day.
Draco and the Malfoys
For Brian , last year’s geeky though he may not remember, saving me from an uncomfortable situation. A Geekycon attendee was not leaving me alone and I saw him walking past and excused myself with a lie along the lines of “oh I need to tell Brian something.” And then running to him thanking every god. He was about to say hello having remembered me from playing some beach ball fun earlier. Yet I was not expecting him to and cut him off with a brisk “Hi sorry just that guy was really creeping me out and he followed me all the way from mc donalds I’ll leave you alone now and pretend we have to meet somewhere” *insert nervous laughter here.*
He must of been very confused as I ran off before he could say anything. I didn’t really think he’d want to talk to me back then, I was young and lame. But in the end I was able to safely find a lonely bench on the second floor, and took a breather. I stayed for a while just in case, my knees reaching my chin as I was still rattled. Grateful for being away. He spotted me this year after the Wizards in Space launch party and told me how he loved my dramatic reading. I don’t know, something about him, I trust him. And of course his partner in wizard wrock crime.
To Steph Anderson for being my empowerment when I’m feeling run down from society. For saying YES ALL WITCHES, to rocking out unapologetically. She’s here to sing and she has no problems around a guitar. She’s here to make you see that you’re stronger than you thought you were. I don’t think I’ve really introduced myself to her. But I don’t need to know everyone to know that they effect me in the best ways possible.
To Proma, for being so supportive and kind. She has this warm smile and happy attitude. I’m glad I shared a panel with you and that you were the person to get my last copy of the HPA comic. You always gave me such kind words and a lovely scare when I turned around in a seat and found you laying down behind me. And during the Geekycon lip sync battle, I was in a mix of hysterics and awe at you dancing to Adele dramatically.
To all the wizard punks who I’ve met and talked to this weekend. You are the ones who impact me. You are the ones who help me grow brighter each Geekycon. Everyone has pitched in with helping me grow. Perhaps thats been the point all along. Maybe I’m the next gen of wizard punks who will be in charge of what you leave behind. Because Geekycon is what makes me as a person. Every year I am surrounded by people who love me and I love back. And meeting other attendees who support me even if I do not know them personally.
If you saw me at my first Leakycon in 2014, I was so different. I had to pep talk myself for 15 minutes before meeting Jack for the first time to buy a waffle pin. I was a lost puppy that year, thankfully I made a single friend while being a lone crusader in foreign land. Kiersten, with bright blue hair at the time, a fellow attendee with amazing social skills found me and I guess she could sniff out my fear. She was an adult and made sure I was comfortable whether it was looking at a booth or at a wrock concert. It was very weird to not see her this year, but I made sure to keep in touch while she was going through a rough time. That I was the one making sure she was okay. She’s the one who taught me everything my first year. What wizard rock was most importantly. And it’s friendships you make at Geekycon that last. It’s interactions at Geekycon that make you believe just a bit more in yourself. Because while it took every fiber in my being to talk to anyone in 2014, in 2016 I was sitting in front of loaded room with a microphone talking to people. And I think it goes to show how comfortable I was up there because before the panel started or even at the booth, I was showing symptoms of my Stereotypical Movement Syndrome. Something I try hard to suppress when trying to not be outcasted. But who’s to judge at a place like Geekycon? Hell, I don’t even show it in my own Youtube videos.
It’s Geekycon that is letting this teenager grow. From when I was 15, to now 17. And you all get to witness it every year. The worst part is going back to school and seeing no one who understands why the holographic wristband on my wrist means so much to me. To my home where I hide myself away ever since I could walk, and yet the reasons why just keep growing. To my friends in Florida who just don’t understand why we have to save Ginny Weasley from the basilisk.
I take a moment, I look at my wristbands from the con. I am reminded for a moment of the best weekend of the year. That each day is a day closer. Each day to keep working on myself, to keep the growing. Because Geekycon packs so much starlight in these wristbands, that it radiates to me. And the starlight grows stronger with the support of everyone at this convention.
I’ve never met Melissa Anneli. But If I did, I don’t think even a post like this could give her the words needed to know how much this convention means to me. But who I will be in a couple years time might do the trick.