Going back to Gen Con

Yes, I’m headed back to Gen Con this year! I bought a four-day badge, got lucky and got one of the mythical attached hotels, and waited patiently for my wish list of events to process yesterday and got into almost every event on my list.  

I know, it’s a little weird that I haven’t posted about it all until now, but up until event registration happened, it didn’t quite feel real. I didn’t think about what events I wanted to go to until last week. Heck, I still haven’t entirely decided on what cosplays I’m going to do, and y’all know how excited I get about cosplay. (I’m currently waffling between a couple of ideas that I’ll probably write about here soon.)  

A weird Gen Con 

This year’s Gen Con is going to be a weird one for me for several reasons. It’s the first year I haven’t gone as press since 2013 – which feels weird, but given that I haven’t regularly updated the blog in about four years, I didn’t even bother applying for a press pass this year. Maybe next year, if I can get back into the habit of posting regularly enough.  

It’s also going to be the first Gen Con without Rana since the year we met at the convention. In 2020 and 2021, we spent some time talking about how we were still going to go to Gen Con together even though we’d split up, and even talked about what cosplays we might do. It’ll be weird, being at Gen Con without her, especially since Gen Con was such a big part of our lives and was the reason we met. It’s going to be weird, going without her.  

In addition, this is going to be the largest event I’ve gone to since Gen Con 2019. A lot’s happened in the five years since then, and the first convention I’ve gone to since Indiana Toy and Comic Expo back in late 2019. I’ve been to a few work conferences since then, and went to the Kate Mulgrew talk in 2022 back when she came to visit the Captain Janeway statue, so it’s not like I’ve been a hermit the entire time. The largest of those events topped out at 900 people, though, and it was exhausting for me to be around so many people. Being around large groups of people wears me out way more than it used to pre-pandemic, and I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to handle Gen Con as a result. I’m not letting it scare me away from going, though.  

A good Gen Con 

Despite all the weirdness, though, I think it’s also going to be a good Gen Con. I got into almost all the events I had in my Wish List (sadly, the Mistborn CCG and Star Trek CCG demos I had on my wish list sold out before my list got processed), including two cross stitch classes hosted by Craftigurumi that I’m really looking forward to. (I mean, come on, this is me – did you expect me to go to Gen Con and not sign up for some sort of crafting class?) And speaking of Gen Con crafting, I’m even considering bringing the Sailor Moon quilt I worked on at Gen Con 2020 to the Craft Hackers booth so I can show Toni of Quiltoni the finished project, since I’m pretty damn proud of how it turned out and want to show it to her.  

I’m also approaching Gen Con with the understanding that I probably will get overwhelmed as heck, and won’t necessarily be running around everywhere as much as I used to, and that’s okay. Lots of my friends are going to Gen Con this year, so if I need someone to help me figure out food because I can’t brain, or just want someone to sit with me someplace quiet in the ICC while I take some time to wind down, I know someone’ll be able to help me out there.  

Also: it’s been too dang long since I did any cosplay, and I’m starting to get excited about exploring different cosplay ideas that have been bouncing around in my head. (And if I can’t really make any of them work, there’s always the old fallback of wandering around Gen Con as Ëlinyr – especially now that I’ve got better costuming pieces for her! But that’s a topic for yet another post.) 

Counting down the days 

Screenshot of the Gen Con countdown from the Gen Con website, featuring artwork of Genevieve the Dragon with the text "Countdown to Gen Con: 73 Days"

As I’m writing this post, it’s 73 days until Gen Con – about two and a half months until the best four days in gaming happens. I’m hoping going back to Gen Con will get me back into the swing of things with the blog here. It’s been way too long since I posted regularly, and I miss being able to say “yeah, I have a blog, it’s The Crafty Nerd” without being embarrassed by how quiet it’s been over here over the past few years. Maybe Gen Con 2024 will help me get past that. 😊  

What I’m Watching: 2023

After I wrote that post about the Doctor Who specials, I ended up wandering through the blog’s TV review archives – and realized I’d completely forgotten about the What I’m Watching series I did for a little while in 2019.

Then I realized I used to have a lot more variety in my TV watching in the past. (Then again, before 2020, my life was a lot less of a wreck.) I still watch a lot of TV, but there’s not much variety in my TV watching lately as there was in the past.

Do you want to know what I watched in 2023?

Star Trek. Lots and lots of Star Trek. (Plus a little bit of Babylon 5, and a bunch of Stargate SG-1.)

Collage of photos from the shows Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Let me explain why TV watching this year has been a never-ending stream of mid-late ’90s/early 200os sci-fi and just about all the Star Trek I can get my hands on. (I apologize in advance, as this is gonna get rambly.)

When I’m not doing well, I tend to gravitate towards TV shows I’m already familiar with and know that I love. (You might have picked up on that from that Doctor Who post I wrote.) It’s like wrapping up in a comforting blanket or slipping into a favorite sweatshirt. I know what to anticipate. And for the past year, my TV hyperfocus has been Star Trek on a pretty much endless loop, broken up occasionally by Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1. It might be boring to others, watching the same thing over and over, but for me, it’s calming. It helps me unwind after a rough day, or calm down after a meltdown. (Yeah, that’s a new mental health thing I’ve been dealing with since the end of the summer – getting so overwhelmed with life that I just break down. I guess that’s what happens when I try to go from being an attic-dwelling hermit to trying to live my life like it’s 2019 without gradually trying to re-enter the world.)

Sure, I know that certain episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Discovery will make me break down in tears every time I watch them, without fail, but I’ve also watched both of those shows enough times that I know when those episodes are coming up, and I can let myself get weepy if I want or just skip over the episode if I’m not in a good headspace.

And since 2022 was pretty much obliterated by grief, and 2023 was spent trying to figure myself out again, I needed something comforting to watch at the end of the day to help me unwind from work, or distract me from post-LARP burnout when I got home from a long weekend at Kishar. (yes, I actually went to just about every Kishar game this year! But that’s a story for another post.)

So, I ended up gravitating to the most comforting show I could think of:

Composite photo of many Star Trek captains and characters, including Seven of Nine, Captain Kirk as played by Shatner, Captain Sisko, Captain Pike, Captain Archer, Captain Burnham, the holographic version of Captain Janeway, Ensign Mariner, and Admiral Picard.

Star Trek, in all of its incarnations. (Well, almost all of them, anyway. I have… feelings about Enterprise.) I mean, come on, are you surprised? It’s me. If you know me, you know I love Star Trek.

I spent the majority of the year making my way through the Delta Quadrant with Janeway, keeping Deep Space Nine running during the Dominion War with Sisko, navigating the distant future with Michael Burnham, exploring strange new worlds with Captain Pike (and at one point, singing about strange new worlds), and dealing with the less exciting parts of starship life with Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, T’Lyn and Rutherford. (I think T’Lyn is my new favorite Vulcan.) It’s exactly what I needed this year: familiar faces and stories, and some new adventures thanks to Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds.

The main cast of Stargate SG-1, including Samantha Carter, Jack O'Neill, Teal'c, and Daniel Jackson.And for the shows I watched that weren’t Star Trek, they were close enough that they’re enjoyable and comforting, even if I wasn’t familiar with them – like Stargate SG-1, which I watched for the first time ever earlier this year. It had the feel of late ’90s/early ’00s sci-fi that I love so much, and I found myself really enjoying the story and getting attached to the characters. Stargate SG-1 is a show I’d been meaning to watch for years – I’d seen scattered episodes on TV before, and it seemed pretty cool, but I’d never gotten around to watching it until earlier this year, when I tore through all eleven seasons pretty quickly. I need to re-watch it at some point, as right now the big thing that stuck in my head is the characters, and not so much the plot. I love Teal’c, who I nicknamed the show’s resident Vulcan Klingon. I love O’Neill being O’Neill. And I especially love how Ben Browder and Claudia Black found a home on the show after Farscape got canceled. Vala is sassy as heck, and I love her for it.

Main cast of season 2 of Babylon 5.Babylon 5 is another show that fits into the comfort watching category. I love the story. I love the characters. The background music is… a thing, and the graphics are a little rough in places, but overall, Babylon 5 ranks right up there with Star Trek when it comes to my favorite TV shows. I love how we get to see a little slice of everyone’s life aboard the station.I love seeing G’Kar and Londo’s interactions evolve over the course of the show. Londo himself has one heck of a character arc, and he’s one of my favorite characters in particular. I love pretty much all the main characters, and am sad that about half the main cast passed away, many of them at a relatively young age. (It’s such a big thing that it’s been referred to as the “Babylon 5 curse“.)

So yes, this year was the year of comforting sci-fi TV shows. Hopefully in 2024 I’ll be able to branch out into watching other TV again – there’s certainly a lot of shows I need to catch up on, like Good Omens, The Witcher, and Wheel of Time. Maybe next year I’ll be able to properly bring back What I’m Watching, and not have it be Star Trek for months on end. 😁

Doctor Who: coming back to an old favorite

For long-time followers of the blog, you might remember that I used to be a pretty big Doctor Who fan. I eagerly awaited each new episode. I bought Doctor Who goodies at Gen Con. I knit both variants of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf and cosplayed as the Fourth Doctor for Gen Con 2013. I listened to Doctor Who-inspired music. I even had my very own sonic screwdriver! (It turned into an actual screwdriver, which was pretty awesome.) 

But by the time Peter Capaldi stepped into the TARDIS as the Twelfth Doctor back in 2014, I wasn’t enjoying the show as much as I used to. After one of the original showrunners for new Doctor Who left in 2010, the show lost some of its magic, and at the end of the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure, I decided maybe I needed a break from Doctor Who. I didn’t watch any of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctor’s episodes, and only started a rewatch of the Tenth Doctor sometime last summer when I was missing Rana pretty fiercely. I joined the Whovian Running Club in memory of Rana, too, but aside from that, I didn’t really get into Doctor Who much. I was really excited to hear that Jodie Whittaker was the Thirteenth Doctor, as I’d been wondering if the Doctor would ever regenerate as a woman, and that almost got me back into watching it… but not quite.

But then I heard that David Tennant was coming back to the show… as the Fourteenth Doctor. 

David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor standing in front of the TARDIS, looking at his hands with an almost confused expression on his face.

… wait, the Doctor’s never had the same face twice – what’s all this about?!

Now that… that got my attention. (That and hearing that Russell T. Davies was coming back as a showrunner.) The Doctor never had the same face twice. Never. I may not have been super invested in Doctor Who over the past decade, but hearing that the Doctor regenerated with the same face he had a couple of regenerations ago? That got me interested. I needed to watch the 60th Anniversary specials.

(It also didn’t hurt that it’s now a lot easier to watch Doctor Who than it was when I first got into the show. It’s on freakin’ Disney+ now! Disney and the Doctor still breaks my brain.)

I waited to watch the specials until all three were released – because honestly, I’m more of a binge-watcher these days than I used to be, and I didn’t want to wait between episodes. I wanted to get the whole story in one fell swoop. I was a little trepidatious going into it – almost ten years had passed since I last watched any new Doctor Who episodes. I know I’d missed a lot. Was I going to be woefully confused as to what was going on?

Donna and the Fourteenth Doctor in front of the TARDIS, over a nebulous purple, blue, and orange background.

The Doctor and Donna, back together again.

I shouldn’t have worried. It felt almost like coming home to the Doctor Who I first fell in love with. Sure, time had passed and there were lots of new things (seriously, when did the Doctor learn how to make force fields with the sonic screwdriver?), but even with 15 years passing between the last time we saw Donna Noble and her appearance in the specials, it felt like I was seeing old friends again for the first time in ages. The dynamic between the Doctor and Donna is the same as always, and the monsters ranged from terrifyingly adorable to just plain terrible. It was exciting and familiar, and I loved every second of it. And after the rough mess the last few years have been for me, I needed that. I needed to return to something comfortingly familiar that still had some new stories to tell. 

I won’t get into too many spoilers here, for those who haven’t seen the specials yet, but as someone who loved the Ninth and Tenth Doctors and their companions, this was a delightful treat that got me excited about Doctor Who again. And I’m really excited to see Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor – from the little bit we saw of him at the end of the specials, I feel like he’s going to be a very fun Doctor, and I’m curious to see where things go with him piloting the TARDIS. (Only six more days until we get to find out!)

Back in action! (Sort of.)

…wait, what? What’s this? A post?

Yes, yes it is indeed a post! I am, in fact, still alive, and actually finally have the spoons to post something. I’m sure as heck not going to hit my “one post a month” goal I wrote about in my yearly celebration of the blog’s birthday (I still can’t believe that The Crafty Nerd has been around for a decade, holy crap), but I’ve at least got things to write about now that I’m actually regularly leaving the house again!

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Ten years of The Crafty Nerd!

Holy crap, y’all. The tiny little blog I started on a whim one cold February morning because I found out the domain thecraftynerd.com was available is officially ten years old.

I was thinking about it this morning too – I knew that the blog’s birthday was soon, but as always, I spaced out on the exact date until I checked my Facebook memories and saw all the previous “Happy birthday to the blog!” posts from prior years.

It’s actually hitting me pretty hard, realizing it’s the blog’s tenth birthday. Like, I was sitting at my computer on my lunch break on one of the rare days where I’m actually in the office, fighting back tears because of how emotional I felt over keeping this blog going for ten whole years. Sure, I haven’t been doing a great job of that over the past few years (thank you pandemic for throwing my entire life off the rails), but I try to post when I can. There have been many times over the past few years when I came close to just giving up and closing down the blog, but I didn’t – I stuck with it. And now here I am at the blog’s tenth birthday.

The Crafty Nerd has witnessed a lot during its ten years – including 261 blog posts, eight Gen Cons, 20 Kishar games (give or take), countless craft projects, two divorces, a pandemic, a whole lot of loss-related grief, at least 10 posting hiatuses, and a complete overhaul of the blog’s branding and logo.

What this year holds for the blog

Last year, I ended up doing a “new year’s resolution” sort of thing on the blog’s birthday – and while I didn’t really follow through on posting more or playing more games, at least I finished a bunch of craft projects – which is something!

This year, I’m going to give myself some blogging goals that I’m gonna try my hardest to meet.

  • Write more. About anything. Even if it’s only tangentially crafting or nerdiness related, if I feel vaguely inspired to write, I’m going to write. I need to get back into the habit of adding content to the blog regularly again. I thought about revisiting some old posts, like the one about the ugly blanket I made a while back and the one I wrote about Magic: Puzzle Quest, and doing a follow-up of sorts on those posts – maybe that’s a good place to start. If I can get at least one post out a month for this year, that’d be amazing.
  • Go to more events this year. Whether it’s just making sure I get out to all the Kishar games this season or re-entering the world of attending conventions, I need to get out and do nerdy things again. Going to the Kate Mulgrew event last October was amazing, and reminded me of how much I missed being out and about and going to conventions. So, I’m going to try to do that more this year.
  • Make more of a dent in the Corner of Shame pile. I managed to finish quite a few things in the Corner of Shame before getting distracted by new cross-stitch projects, and I want to go back to that pile later on this year and see what else I can get finished. Maybe someday I’ll manage to completely eradicate the Corner of Shame pile!

I’m not going to be too hard on myself if I don’t meet these goals, and try to celebrate any sort of wins that happen in the process. Even a little bit of progress is better than none at all, right?

So, here’s to ten years of craftiness and nerdiness – and hopefully many, many more.

A Captain’s Journey, and a crafty nerd’s dream

Let me tell you a story, folks. A story that starts back in 2014, when I first got introduced to Star Trek.

As most of you probably already know, Captain Kathryn Janeway is my favorite Star Trek captain. Janeway was actually my gateway into Star Trek – back in 2014, while being stuck in bed for a few days with nasty back spasms, I started watching Orange is the New Black while waiting for the muscle relaxants to finally kick in. I liked it a lot – and I especially enjoyed Red, the character Kate Mulgrew played. I got Rana to watch it with me, and she was really excited to see that Kate Mulgrew was in it. When she realized that I’d never seen Kate in Voyager, though, or that I’d never really seen much Star Trek at all, she pulled up some episodes of Star Trek: Voyager with Captain Janeway and Q (since I knew John DeLancie from My Little Pony), and I got hooked.

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Tackling the Corner of Shame, one project at a time

I’ve written about it before: my love of starting projects, and how many of them never get finished. It ended up getting so bad at one point that I had a pile of projects stashed into a corner, which I eventually ended up calling the “corner of shame”. Heck, when I moved, I even labeled all the boxes containing those various unfinished projects as Corner of Shame boxes, so I’d know exactly what they contained. Most of them hadn’t been touched since I’d moved out of Rana’s, just shuffled from one location to the next all tucked away in their project bags.

Well, now that I’m doing better and have come out of my grief fog, I’ve been able to tackle unpacking my craft supplies – including some of the contents of the Corner of Shame. And in two cases so far, I’ve actually taken things out of the Corner of Shame and finished them up.

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Nerdy Tidbits: July 6th, 2022

Yes, it’s the return of Nerdy Tidbits – a collection of random little things that may not quite warrant an entire post, but are still things I want to talk about. This edition of Nerdy Tidbits focuses on the soundbooth I’m working on, a cosplay idea I have, and some of my new favorite TV shows.

The soundbooth: a progress report

If you follow The Crafty Nerd on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve likely seen me post about the tiny home soundbooth I’ve been working on. It’s been eating up a lot of my spare time this week, especially in the mornings when it’s not oppressively hot in the attic. As a result, I’ve made a lot of progress on getting it put together!

View through the doorway into my soundbooth - black and teal felt tiles are visible on the walls.

A sneak peek at the soundbooth!

A lot of that progress is due to discovering that my quilting tools are also useful for to slicing up felt sound dampening tiles. The cutting mat, rotary cutter, and quilt rulers I dug out of various boxes have been very helpful for cutting tiles into various custom sizes. I only wish I’d thought of this sooner so some of the tiles I cut early on would have looked a little better.

A teal felt tile on a cutting board, with a big clear quilting ruler and a rotary cutter.

Hooray for remembering I have all these tools!

I’ll be making a full post about the soundbooth once it’s done, with a list of materials and tips for those of you who might also be interested in making your own soundbooth out of a closet.

Cosplay idea: Ensign Tilly from Star Trek: Discovery

I recently started watching Star Trek: Discovery, and have really been enjoying it – and last weekend, when I was thinking of ideas of who to cosplay as for the upcoming Indiana Toy and Comic Expo, it hit me: I should cosplay as Sylvia Tilly. Because, honestly, Tilly is me, but in Starfleet. (And in the future.)

Sylvia Tilly from Star Trek Discovery, wearing her Starfleet uniform.

oh my god I love Tilly so much, y’all have no idea

I absolutely love Tilly. Trying to find a good uniform for cosplaying her, though? It’s been a little rough. I can either get a $200ish uniform from Rubies that’s of questionable quality (based on the reviews, anyway), a $150ish uniform jacket and try to make my own pants, or buy an even more expensive uniform from Etsy that’ll be made to my measurements. (And I think it might be a little too late for that, given that ITCE is at the end of August.) 

Or: I could get the t-shirt the crew of Discovery wears when they’re not in uniform, grab some running shorts out of my drawer, and be Running Tilly. 

Tilly wearing a navy blue t-shirt that says DISCO on the front.

This would be the easiest Star Trek cosplay ever.

I mean, it’ll be comfy, easy enough to get around in, and inexpensive – I can get the Disco shirt on Amazon! Thankfully, it should be easy to find a wig; a Merida wig should work out pretty well, and combined with a Starfleet uniform or the Disco t-shirt, it should be pretty clear that I’m Tilly. (And I could be silly and find a big stuffed cat that looks like Grudge, and carry her around too!)

TV shows I’m in love with lately: Star Trek: Discovery and Our Flag Means Death

Speaking of Tilly: oh, how I love Discovery! Why the heck have I not watched it sooner? I’m attached to all the characters, I’m really enjoying the story, and I’ve cried many times while watching my way through the first three seasons. When it first came out, I heard a lot of complaints about how weird the Klingons were, but in retrospect I should have ignored them. Yes, they’re not typical Klingons, but once I got over the fact that they’re all bald and their tooth prosthetics make them sound like they’re talking around a mouthful of gummy bears, I found them somewhat interesting, and liked getting to know a little more about the history of the Klingons. 

Plus, there’s a cat. How can I not love a Star Trek show that has a cat?

Tilly holding a large brown tabby cat.

Oh, Grudge. She really is a queen.

Seriously, Grudge is the best, and I love how very much Book loves his cat. I need a big kitty like Grudge someday.

I also recently binged all of Our Flag Means Death over the course of a weekend, and I LOVE IT. I had heard so many good things about the show, and they are all true. This show is fantastic. If a story about an 18th century gentleman who decided he’d rather be a pirate captain leading an inept band of pirates and finding love in a very unexpected place sounds good to you, you should watch this. Really, you should.

Artwork of Blackbeard and Stede from Our Flag Means Death enjoying tea together.

Artwork by Karen Hallion – I’ve always enjoyed her work, and this one should be available on her Etsy store soon!

Somewhat related: I also love this drawing by Karen Hallion – and if you support her Patreon, the physical reward tier for this month includes an Our Flag Means Death sticker! Check out her Patreon here, and if you want to see more of her artwork, check out her website. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while, and seeing the Our Flag Means Death artwork she’s done makes me a very happy nerd. 

Nerdy tidbits as a podcast?

… so this is a silly question, but would y’all be interested in listening to the Nerdy Tidbits posts in podcast form? Because I want to make a podcast again. I really want to make a podcast again. I have my tiny soundbooth. I have equipment. I love editing audio. Heck, I could even record my own intro music, even if it is just a few chords on the ukulele. I struggle coming up with topics for a podcast, but maybe just focusing on the little random nerdy things that I’m excited about might work.

It’s definitely something I’m thinking about. Sure, there are a million podcasts out there already – is there much point in adding one more? Still, if it’s something I enjoy doing, I should do it, right? Hmm.

Either way, we’ll see what happens when the next Nerdy Tidbits comes out! Until next time, friends!

Review: Secretlab TITAN Evo 2022 series gaming chair

I recently bought my first high-end desk chair – and dang, this new chair is an experience.

With my recent decision to work from home permanently, I felt it was time to buy a higher quality desk chair for my office. The chair I was using most recently was one I bought to replace the desk chair I borrowed from the office during the pandemic.

Simple blue desk chair with aftermarket lumbar support pillow added to the back.

Simple and inexpensive, this chair was… okay to work from for an entire day. I had to buy a lumbar pillow for extra support, though – that didn’t come with the chair.

It was inexpensive, but I thought it’d be okay to get a cheaper chair since I thought I would be working from the office more often. That, however, was not the case, and with me working from home permanently, I set out to find a newer, better desk chair.

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I wrote a letter to Pat Rothfuss.

So, if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of Pat Rothfuss.

For folks who are new here: well, I am a huge fan of the author Patrick Rothfuss.

I don’t think I’d necessarily call myself a rabid fan, like how I used to be with Sailor Moon back when I was a teenager, but I am definitely a huge fan. I have almost every book he’s ever written (aside from the short story anthologies he’s contributed to and Your Annotated, Illustrated College Survival Guide – the former because I am a slacker, the latter because it’s ridiculously rare) – and most of those books are signed. I have prints of artwork based on The Kingkiller Chronicles – again, most signed by Pat. (The one that wasn’t signed by Pat was signed by the artist, Echo Chernik – and I’m ridiculously happy about that too.) I have almost all the jewelry that Badali Jewelry sells that’s based on the books. I’ve backed a bunch of Kingkiller Chronicle-related Kickstarter campaigns. I’ve owned three Eolian t-shirts (the first one I wore it so much it started falling apart, the second one just disappeared one day and I still haven’t found it). My car has talent pipe decals in the back windows. I cosplayed as Denna once. I quoted a line from The Name of the Wind in my wedding vows when Rana and I got married, and quoted The Slow Regard of Silent Things in the eulogy I delivered at her funeral. And I’ve been lucky enough to run into Pat at Gen Con three times – in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

… okay, seeing all of that written out kind of makes me feel a little ridiculous. Hey, when I get into something, though, I get into it.

So, what prompted me to write Pat a letter?

Anyhow. I’ve been reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things to my anxious cat Anya, to help her calm down after moving to the new house. She ended up moving a little later than the rest of us – there’s been a lot of reconfiguring of living situations among me and my chosen family lately, and J wanted to see how she acclimated to new people and new cats at the house after I moved out. Long story short: she had been stressed out due to sharing a house with five other cats, and not eating much due to one of the other cats bullying her away from her food, so we decided to move her here. After all, we’ve only got Peggy and Hannah here – and while they’re remarkably energetic for senior cats (Hannah is almost 13 and Peggy turned 15 in February, and they both still act like kittens at times), they’re also a lot calmer than the other cats Anya was living with.

Anya was not thrilled with having to move and hid in her crate here for a few days. Then it hit me: I saw a suggestion about reading to cats to help them get acclimated to new owners/homes/other stressful situations, so I pulled out my copy of The Slow Regard of Silent Things and read to Anya. It really helped her come out of her shell.

Photograph of me reading the book "The Slow Regard of Silent Things" to Anya, a small black and white cat. Anya and I are sitting in a large walk-in closet.

Yes, I am reading to my cat from the inside of a closet. Closets are Anya’s favorite places to hide.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is one of my favorite books ever, for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, I identify rather strongly with the main character, Auri. We are both anxious and easily overwhelmed. We both feel things a little too strongly at times. We both have trauma in our past that’s shaped who we are today. In addition to identifying with Auri, I also love the book because of Pat’s wonderful way with words. It is an absolute delight to read, and reading it out loud is an experience. The way Pat uses words to describe Auri’s thoughts, her feelings, and her view of the world is lyrically beautiful. I absolutely love this book.

Artwork of Auri from the book "The Slow Regard of Silent Things". Auri is underground, looking up towards a grate overhead.

Artwork of Auri from the author’s foreword in The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

It’s no surprise that I’ve been in rough shape lately. I’ve been healing from a lot of grief and trauma from just the past six months alone. Reading a book that I already had such an emotional connection to nudged me towards the point where I ended up overwhelmed with emotions, and I felt that I had to tell Pat just how much of an impact his books have had on my life.

So I wrote Pat a letter.

Writing to an author: not something I’ve done much of

I’ve only ever written to an author once before. I sent an email to Anne Bishop, another author whose books I’ve enjoyed, at one point back in 2007 (if I remember right). It was just a short thing about how I really enjoyed her books and thanked her for writing them. She actually responded to my email! I was so surprised – and so happy – to see that she’d read my email and made the time to respond.

Writing to Pat, though? That was an entirely different experience.

The letter I wrote to Anne Bishop was a short, couple-of-paragraph thing that I wrote while I was in a good emotional headspace. The letter to Pat is a four-page single-spaced hot mess of emotional rambling. I was crying by the time I got done writing the damn thing. I was very much not in a good headspace when I was writing it.

But you know what? It felt good to get all those thoughts and feelings down on paper. It’s something I’d been meaning to do for years – tell him what his books mean to me. I guess it took an emotional breakdown brought on by reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things to my anxious cat to finally get me to do it.

Dang, when I phrase it like that, my life sounds like a ridiculous hot mess right now. Having a breakdown brought on by reading a book to my cat is not a thing I thought I’d be experiencing in 2022, not if you’d asked me last year what I thought would happen this year. (I can say that about a lot of things that happened over the past six months, though.)

The letter itself

Anyway, back to the letter. It’s long, and rambling, and it talks about how much of an impact he and his books have had on me. About how him hugging me at Gen Con 2013 made my entire year, and how I was so thrilled that he took a picture of my Denna costume in 2017. How I identify with Auri, how much I love Slow Regard, and how I sat in the closet and read it out loud to little Anya to encourage her to come out of hiding. I wrote it last week, but haven’t mailed it yet – I keep meaning to, but I also keep getting distracted. (It’s also been way too hot to leave the house the past few days.) Besides, even if if it makes its way to him (who knows, it could get lost in the mail), I don’t know if he’ll actually read it. And even if he does read it, I doubt he’ll write back. After all, he’s a busy guy, and I’m just a small-time nerdy blogger who’s had a pretty terrible year that was made better by his books.

Even so, the simple act of writing the letter helped me feel better. I’ll take that as a win.

And who knows, maybe he will read the letter. Maybe he’ll even come check out the blog. (I pointed him to a post I wrote in late 2017 at the end of the letter, one where I rambled about how much I liked him.)

Well, Pat, if by some crazy twist of fate you do end up reading both my letter and this post: thank you for taking the time to read this small-time blogger’s letter, and for caring enough to come look at my blog.

(And I hope I haven’t scared you off. I know I can be a bit…extra. It’s the ADHD.)