Thursday, March 31, 2011

How I spent my spring break - Part 1

A few days ago, I blogged to everyone on the convention facebook group: What do expect, how to buy tickets, logical stuff. But I didn't share any of the fun! So today I'm gonna show what I did in for my first three days of spring break, as well as a little bit from Minneapolis last September. The only people who really know my experiences were my mom, Mike, the kids from my public speaking class, and of course everyone I hung out with in the 2 cities. So. Read on!

After leaving Minneapolis on Labor Day weekend, I knew I wanted to go to another convention because I had enjoyed myself SO much and met a lot of people...but I hadn't been prepared, and I had gotten there without knowing anyone, which turned my first day into a bit of a drag...lots of standing in corners waiting for people to talk to me. I forgot half my clothes at home and my hair straightener broke, so I looked horrible in one of my photo ops that I paid for...I wanted a do-over where I could fix the things that didn't go so well the first time.

Mostly, I paid for it with my financial aid overage, selling my flute on Craigslist, and some Christmas money.
I got my tickets for Minneapolis as a gift from family members and I also sold things at a garage sale.

Now, on to the trip. The 24 hour bus ride from Moorhead to Nashville was uneventful as it could be. (Though I was incredibly happy to find out the Greyhound buses had free wireless internet!) We were a little late, but nothing major. The hotel was already reserved for us. All we had to do was check in.

The next morning, we all got up early to get ready and head over to Opryland. That hotel was HUGE and possibly the most beautiful building (inside) I've ever seen. I'd never seen any place with real trees and water on the inside before. The fake river even had fish in it!

I had my e-friend Brianna waiting for me at the hotel. We met through the convention's Facebook group a few months before and we had been IMing and Skyping almost daily ever since. I was expecting some super-awkward introduction, but after a few minutes, it was like we had been real-life friends for a long time. We kinda dressed up together. ^_^

Not really planned, it just kinda...happened. I liked getting to go on more shopping trips and buy stuff I wouldn't normally wear. My only mistake was the shoes. You have no idea. I was in pain for 75% of the weekend. Thank God for flip flops that fit in my purse!

The line for registration was REALLY long. Guess who was behind me? Three women who had also been in Minneapolis! We talked about how grateful we were to be away from the snow, and how weird our accents probably sounded to everyone else. Once we were registered, I got my seat (E26), only a few seats away from a guy who had come dressed up as Luigi. He introduced himself to me in an Italian accent and everything. Mike was convinced he was there to crash the con, but I think he was a genuine fan because he had been to one of the other tours in North Carolina and had gotten lots of the actors to sign his green hat.

Friday's guests were Leah Gibson and Nikki Reed.They were both SO sweet and not puffed up with a big ego AT ALL. They were so...normal. That's one thing I had learned about celebrities from attending conventions. They're no different than anyone else. They just have different talents and a lot of luck. I had met Nikki once before (previously mentioned bad picture? yep...) I got another photo op with her, that turned out better but still incredibly awkward. I guess that's fate. XD When I went to get it signed, she smiled at me and said, "HEY! How are you? I know I've seen you before!" I told her I was in Minneapolis that September and she said, "Yep! That's what I thought!" ...I had a bit of a fangirl moment when I got out of the autograph line. I knew her far before the Twilight movies. She co-wrote and starred in Thirteen, which was my favorite movie throughout high school.

Karaoke was also on Friday night. I liked it better when my twitter-friend Candace sang (And Mike Welch too! He was hilarious), but sadly, she couldn't make it to Nashville this year.

(Me & Candace in Minneapolis. She is super cool. :) )

Leah sang instead. I was impressed. Brianna and I put in our song request, but Leah had left by the time our names were drawn, so I didn't get to talk to her much. I was off-key and terrified, not to mention a little unsteady on my feet under those hot stage lights, but I finished the song and no one booed! Our other Skype-friend, Sam, put in a request for a song all 3 of us could do together, but we hadn't practiced AT ALL. I didn't know the song, so I stood in the back mouthing the words as best as I could. Towards the end of the song, Brianna threw down her notecards and said "I'm sorry, I can't do this," quoting a South Park episode, and we got offstage as fast as we could.

Mike's mom got lost for something like 7 hours that day, trying to come pick me up, so I took a cab back to the EconoLodge. I think I got about 4 hours of sleep that night. Saturday morning between 9 and 10, I took another cab back to Opryland. I must have looked odd, carrying a garbage bag and a cheap backpack into this fancy save money, Brianna and her aunt let me stay in their room so I wouldn't have to take any more cabs.

Saturday was the day I was looking forward to most! I was sooo excited to meet Jodelle Ferland. My friend James and I watched every episode of Kingdom Hospital a couple years ago, and she was in it. Such a creepy little kid. Now she's in high school and not so creepy anymore. XD The picture I got with her actually turned out okay, though I felt like a giant because I was already 5'6" without heels and she must have not been more than 5'2". I wish I could have talked to her more, but the fact that I got to meet her at all (she cancelled MPLS last-minute) was AWESOME. :D Saturday's other guests were Leah (again), Charlie Bewley, Gil Birmingham, and Patrick Brennan. I got a pic with Charlie too. He's so pretty. :D

When I went to get Gil's autograph, I was super hyper from not ingesting anything but an energy drink and some string cheese all day. I was bouncing. He asked me, "What's the song in your head?" I told him I didn't have a song in my head, I just had a lot of energy. He asked, "So if I just sit here and stare, will you keep bouncing?" I tried to stop bouncing because I felt stupid. He laughed and stared harder and said "Oh no! She's gonna explode!" ...I kinda wanted to. Holding in that sugar rush was HARD!

...Speaking of exploding, I think that's what my blog is gonna do if I write any more! I wanted to fit the whole weekend into one post, but I think I may have to split it halfway because there are just too many things to talk about. Tomorrow I will be back to share part 2 - Saturday night & Sunday. STAY TUNED! ^_^

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Writing is my life's passion and I think I might suck at it.

Ever since I knew how to form words with a pen, writing has been the only thing that's stuck with me, as far as goals go. I've wanted to be so many things...a Spanish teacher, school counselor, social worker, web designer, hairstylist, TV camera-person, photographer...but writing never was a fad or an impulse with me.
However, I know it won't take me anywhere because I'm not very good. This is the reason I'm in college looking for a "day job."

I thought the story I was working on was going really well...until I put it away for a month or two and returned to it. I don't know whether to scrap the whole thing and start over, or just keep going? Help me decide...I'll put up a few pieces and the summary, and you tell me whether you would read it as a book. If I get enough positive feedback, I'll keep going.

The basic plot of the story revolves around an 18 year old girl named Ari Page, who was involuntarily institutionalized afer a close-call suicide attempt. After her release 6 months later, her father refuses to let her move back home, out of fear that something else might happen to tarnish his spot in his wealthy, overachieving family's reputation. Ari's parents secure her an apartment with help from government assistance, give her enough money just to get by, and let her fend for herself in a town known as "the Wasteland." (It's known
in the area for being rough and worn down.)

Ari's memory is hazy and unsure from the amount of pills, sedatives, and brainwashing that were forced upon her at the institution. She wakes up in the new apartment with just a basic idea of where she is. After spending days of doing nothing but reading young adult books and watching teen movies, she decides she needs to find "that one special best friend every girl in the movies has"...someone to help her pass the time until she can go to college
somewhere far away, where she can start over.

It happens by accident. After walking down to her old high school (and getting completely lost) to see if any of her old friends might remember her and offer to keep her company, Ari meets a loner named Jordan Dorrian, who soaks up any attention she gives him. Though Ari is wary at first, she accepts Jordan's offer of friendship and slowly begins to be accepted by him and his offbeat family.

Nearly everyone in Jordan's family suffers from some kind of condition, so they accept Ari for who she is, baggage and all. This is the first time in her life where she can remember feeling accepted. Suddenly, life is meaningful again...but it can't last. The summer has to end sometime, and her dream of moving far away will become a reality.
Does Ari think she's healed enough to face a new world by herself, or has she become too comfortable in this deepening friendship with a boy who, at any second, could bring every painful memory back?...wait and see. :)

(Here's some random pieces of the story. I don't write in chronological chapters. I write in chunks, then fill in the spaces later.)

***This is not a true story. Some of the story is based off real events, and some of the people are similar to real people, but it is FICTION. :)***

(in the prologue)
"I thought my emotions would become dull and stunted if I had no one to share them with. Instead, they intensified. When I found a movie on TV with a happy ending, I was ecstatic. When my popcorn burned in the microwave, I was furious. Trivial matters defined my life, only because I remembered nothing else."

(Meeting Jordan's parents)
Teresa Dorrian was the kind of woman one would imagine had been a goth in her younger years. She was dressed in all black, but nothing extreme - a blazer and flared dress pants. Even with heels, she was shorter than me. Her dark hair framed her face in thick, wild curls.
The man I assumed was her husband looked like her complete opposite. She was tiny, he was tall and bulky. He was as blonde and bright as she was dark. Even so, they made a good couple. They fit together.
Teresa stuck out her hand and smiled at me. "Hi there, I'm Jordan's mom."
"I know who you are. My son has been talking about you for days."

(Ari talking with her mom)
"Mom. Give me some answers. I know you're not as busy or as broke as you say you are. Why can't I come home?"
I was answered with a long period of tense silence, like she was trying to make up an excuse. After a few deep breaths, she finally confessed, "I don't feel safe in my own home anymore, with you there. I keep thinking I'll come back from town and be greeted by a corpse hanging from the ceiling fan. You've tried to do yourself in one too many times, dear, and I would never be able to survive, myself, after seeing you succeed." There was another uncomfortable pause before she finished, "For now, you're better off on your own. And if I'm wrong, I pray to God there's somebody else around to pick up the pieces."

(One of Ari & Jordan's last moments together)
Our steps echoed as Jordan and I ran down the rusty hotel stairs. No one else was out at that hour. For the time being, the world was ours and we were alone in it. Even the parking lot was silent. Everything seemed louder and brighter, despite it being nearly midnight. There were no benches or chairs outside, so we sat on the softest patch of grass we could find. So close that we were almost touching, but not quite. My heart was pounding from the energy my medication couldn't control. In this exact moment, I understood why I woke up the morning after trying
to take my own life. I was meant to be here, with my best friend, watching the fireworks.

Monday, March 28, 2011

First-time Convention Goers: What You Need To Know

The only people who really know what a Creation Entertainment Twilight Convention is like are the people who have gone to one. Are there con tickets in your future and you don't know what to expect? I've been to two conventions this year, and I'm here to answer your questions as best as I can.
First, I'll answer some of the questions that were posted on the convention's official Facebook group page, and then offer you some advice that has been passed down to me or learned from experience.

Q: Why don't they come to [my city/country]??
A: As far as I know, Creation only does convention tours in major US cities (as well as Vancouver and Toronto in Canada). You'll probably have to travel, though hopefully not TOO far.
Other countries have their own convention companies. I believe the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and Italy all do similar Twilight events, with panels, autograph signings, and such. Google it. :)

Q: Will Rob/Taylor/Kristen be there?
A: Don't count on it. They did one convention in LA in 2010, but they haven't been scheduled for any more. The stage would get mobbed if they came to too many! >_<

Q: What should I wear to the ball?
A: It's a formal dance, but there is no required dress code. Wear what you want. I've known people who have come in jeans and no one said anything bad. Whether you wear a formal dress, dress in character, or whatever, just make sure you're comfortable. Don't wear anything too tight, awkward, or painful to dance in!

Q: What package includes photo ops?
A: None. No matter what package you get, you have to buy the photo ops separately.

Q: What should I bring?
A: Food, if you don't plan on eating out of vending machines all day, or shelling out major $$$ to eat hotel meals. Cash. Most of the vendors don't take credit cards. There are ATMs all over the hotel if you only have cards with you. A backpack or tote bag to hold all of your things. Include a folder in the bag to put your photo ops or autographs in so they don't get smeared, ripped, or wrinkled. Hard cases are also available in the vendors room for that purpose. And bring a camera with lots of batteries, of course! (But only for photos, videos aren't allowed in most places at the con.)

That's all the questions. Now, some more general information.

The admission packages vary obviously by price and what's included.
General admission is around $20-25 per day. You can have access to the vendors room (where you can find T-shirts, gifts, jewelry, posters, and all of Hillywood's stuff) and watch all the guest speakers, as well as participate in the contests. Your seats will be in the back of the room.

Preferred admission is between $40-50 per day and $160-180 for a 3-day weekend. You can sit farther up front and autographs are included, but no night events. If your camera has a strong optical zoom, you can get some good quality pictures from this distance.

Gold admission gives you all of the above, plus even closer seats and admission to the ball and karaoke. They cost anywhere from $200-300, depending on if you're going to a 2 or 3 day convention. Ball and karaoke tickets can also be bought separately if you have one of the cheaper packages. The ball ticket alone is around $75-80 and the karaoke ticket is $15.

Photo ops are an additional $40 or more, depending on what photo you get. Photo ops get done very fast. You can choose a pose, but if you don't, the guest will put their arm around you and smile. They use a professional photographer and you usually get a shiny 8X10 photo the same day.

Autographs are called up row by row. Take time to talk to the people you meet in line. You might make a new friend! You might have enough time to ask the guests a question or two. The time you can talk to them the most is at the ball, when they sit at each table for a few minutes to talk one on one...Unless you do a private meet and greet, which are very expensive.

I would recommend not to come if you just want to see one guest. Sadly, cancellations do happen. Creation is really good about finding replacements to make the convention a worthwhile experience. In Nashville, the entire lineup cancelled, but I still had a great time with the replacements! The smaller stars are way more interactive with the fans. In Minneapolis, Booboo Stewart sat at his own table in the vendors room and played games with anyone who came to talk to him!

If you want to save on your travel costs, find a cheaper nearby hotel to stay during the weekend. You can save as much as $100 a night, and you'll only be at the hotel to sleep anyway. Don't do this if you don't know the city, however, or you might miss all the events while you're driving around lost! Also, enter as many contests as you can (costume contest, centerpiece, trivia...) You might win some of the money back!

I have never heard of anyone who had a bad time at one of Creation's conventions. It's worth the effort of buying tickets, traveling, and taking time off of work/school. You'll have experiences you'll never forget!

If I missed something, visit the convention website at
or comment and I will try to find an answer for you!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

& It's my heart I'll follow this time...

Some people might be confused about why I want to leave Minnesota again.
After all, the extent of which I hated Williamsburg is well known.
That hasn't changed. The college is still filled with lots of entitled rich kids while the town itself is falling down, there are no good stores in sight, no bus system, and no way of entertaining myself when nearly everyone goes home for the weekend.

I used to think anywhere south of Ohio and east of the central time zone line would be the same.
Then I went on this trip to Nashville. Maybe Nashville was just another city, but I fell in love with it. Being there just felt...right. Then I had to come back down to reality.

Living near Fargo (which is more of a 'big town' than a city) is expensive enough. There's no way I could find an apartment in Nashville at a price I can afford. If money was no issue, I'd probably be living in Chicago right now. I've felt drawn to that city even before I saw it for the first time.

Thinking logically, I clicked around on webpages for other nearby towns,
and I found one that looks right, only an hour away from Nashville. A friend that I met at the convention told me about the town she lives in. Rent is cheaper than I could have imagined for a town of its size, there is a good bus system and enough stores of all kinds to satisfy me.
The school there is one of the best public colleges in Tennessee.
I'm done filling out my application. I'll probably get in, but even if I don't, I'll probably still move there and take distance classes from home.

The thing that got me interested in TN Tech is their financial aid requirements.
I could qualify as an independent student if I could prove I had no financial support from my parent, which is easy enough to do. I pay, bills, food, clothes, every thing I own these days, I've bought for myself somehow, and I could get in-state tuition if I can promise I will live there year-round and not go home for the summer.
What home? No family member of mine opens their house to me for 3 months of the year rent-free.

Even if one did, I LIKE apartment life. I don't want to go back to having just one room to myself. I've also fallen in love with the cute little 2 bedroom townhouses Mike & I could be living in for less than I'm paying now for this one bedroom in a sketchy part of town...
(Come on! My bike got stolen from our parking lot!) If he's working and I have money coming in, we could possibly even rent a house for ourselves. Either way, the kitties will have a yard to run around in.

Food is also cheaper in southern grocery stores, so even if I don't qualify for food stamps anymore, I can eat good, healthy meals more regularly. I will be happy because I can go outside at all months of the year, and not be afraid of freezing to death.
My anxiety will decrease because I won't have to constantly worry about snow making the buses late every day from November to March.

The friends I met (and reunited with in KY too) totally made the trip...
I can't imagine never visiting them more than once a year.
Old friends from college seem to genuinely want me to visit more than that. We had fun together.
The people here who think they can control my life will no longer be able to...
On this trip, I've learned that I'm a lot more independent than I thought I was.
This town doesn't need me, and I doubt my "family" would miss me much.
Why stay where I'm not needed?
I'm ready to find another new chapter of life on my own.
(and of course Mike will help.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Catless. Day 1.

I've had tears running down my face all day, but surprisingly, my makeup holds up.
Life's chewed me up and spit me out once again.
I got off the Greyhound at 12:35...right on time.
Sweaty, exhausted, and frankly disgusted to see all this frozen white garbage littering the grass.
I didn't come back on a good note.
No, I'm not talking about the countless turds Demon laid on my bedroom floor.
I'm talking about the fact that the cats weren't even there.
I walked in to my living room thinking they were taken to a shelter and immediately put down.
My aunt then informed me that they'd be staying at her garage.
Basically, the same thing.
After she said that would be the best option for them,
she went on to talk about her cat who had just died because he walked outside and got hit by a car on the highway.
My kittens have been indoor-only since birth.
They don't deserve to be thrown out with someone's trash bags and garage-sale castoffs.
They could contract a disease from some wandering tom cat,
be impregnated by an unknown stray with who knows how many diseases,
eaten by a hungry dog that feels like passing by,
shot by a heartless redneck with a mood for killing...
My aunt couldn't even promise they'd all be there when I was ready to take them back and move.
And I'm supposed to be GRATEFUL?
I'll only be grateful when they're with me again.
I feel like a wrongly accused mother who just lost her children to the unknown horrors of foster care.
I don't even know WHEN I can see them again...
Until I do, I'll remain this quivering mess who's seriously lacking something to love.