I started this post yesterday, and couldn’t finish it until today. So turn yesterday into the day before yesterday and tomorrow into today and then ask yourself why you even bothered because it really isn’t all that important.
I woke up this morning because my dog was fussing to go outside.
“I didn’t know this was a pet-friendly hotel,” I thought as my brain got off the train from Dreamland. “I have to move to part of the hotel that doesn’t have pets in it today.”
Then I opened my eyes, and experienced the glorious moment when, after being away from home for a week, I realized that I was back in my own house, in my own bed. I got up, let her out, and made myself a cup of coffee … then I enjoyed that glorious moment when, after drinking hotel “coffee” for a week, I get to make it myself, just the way I like it.
The flight home last night was pretty rough until we got over Texas. It was so turbulent over the Gulf of Mexico the flight attendants didn’t even get out of their seats for close to an hour after take off. A few years ago, I would have been an absolute mess during the whole thing, but I’ve been flying so much, I just ride it out and try not to spill my water all over myself. I’m about halfway through book three of A Song of Ice And Fire, and I want to finish it before the new season premieres, so while my body was bouncing around on an airplane, my mind was in Westeros. It was pretty great.
So I promised I’d share a couple of memorable moments from MegaCon. Before I get to the pictures I took yesterday, I’ll do that now.
Appearing as a guest at a big convention like this is a lot of fun, but it’s also exhausting. People always ask me if my arm or hand or wrist is tired near the end of a long day of signing, and I always tell them the truth: my body never gets tired; it’s my brain that is exhausted. Signing is so much more than, well, signing. It’s listening and engaging and sharing moments and meeting hundreds of people in a relatively short amount of time, doing my best to not rush people while understanding that the person in front of me and the person still waiting behind them may have been in that line for over an hour. It’s drawing out shy kids who are excited to meet me, but don’t know what to say. It’s handling people who can be a little strange — if harmless — who may not know when it’s really time for them to move on. It’s telling someone that I’m sorry, but I can’t sign that thing, or I can’t pose for that picture, or I’m really not going to go have beers with you because I don’t know you at all even though you think you know me.
I suppose I could make it less mentally taxing if I just sat there and didn’t make an effort to engage people or treat them like human beings (and there are some folks who do exactly that), but that’s not how I roll, and I will stop attending conventions before I become That Guy. That Guy has no perspective, no humility, no gratitude, and while I’ve met him a few times (there are a few people who act like fans at conventions are simply meatbags attached to wallets) I won’t ever be him.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I was a fan at conventions long before I was a special guest, I know what it’s like to be on that side of the table, and it’s important to me to treat people the way I want to be treated. It’s also wonderful, because I get to meet remarkable and inspiring people, and share in the mutual joy we have for Doctor Who, Tabletop gaming, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Star Trek, beer, hockey, and silly Internet memes.
This weekend, I met dozens of people who told me that they were scientists, engineers, doctors, or programmers because they were inspired by Wesley Crusher. I met tons of women and a few men who told me that I was their first teenage crush. I met a lot of people, men and women, my age and younger, who thanked me for speaking out about depression and anxiety. I held a young woman’s hands while she cried because her anxiety was so intense and scary, and I promised her that she would be okay. I was moved by her bravery, and inspired by her courage. I met some families who were all geeking out about different things at the convention, from Star Trek to My Little Pony to LEGO to Star Wars, and happily sharing in each other’s joy. I was honored to be part of all of these experiences, and grateful to have them.
But there is one meeting that stands out, that moved me so much, I’ve been struggling to find the right words to recount it. On Saturday, a young woman walked up to my table with her husband and her two children. She handed me a typed letter and told me that she knew she wouldn’t be able to get through what she wanted to say to me, and would I please read it.
I unfolded it, and read her story. When she was a young girl, she had a serious complication due to her Lupus, and her doctors told her that she would never walk again. She had a photo of me, though, that she took with her to physical therapy every day, and the therapists would hold it up for her and encourage her to walk toward it — toward me — while she recovered. She made a promise to herself, she said, that she would walk again some day, and if I was ever in her town, she would walk up to meet me. At the end of her letter, she thanked me for being there, so she could *walk* to meet me.
I looked up at her through tears, and she looked back at me through her own. I stood up, walked around my table, and put about fifteen feet between us. I held my arms open, and asked her to walk over to me. She began to cry, and slowly, confidently closed the distance between us. I embraced her, and we stood there for a minute, surrounded by thousands of people who had no idea what was going on, and cried together.
“I’m so proud of you,” I said, quietly, “and I am so honored.”
We wiped the tears away, and I sat back down to sign a photo for her. I looked at her young children. “Your mom is remarkable,” I said, “and I know you don’t get it, because she’s, like your mom? But you have to trust me: she is.”
The kids nodded, and I could tell that they were a little freaked out by the emotion of the thing, even if they didn’t understand it. They looked at their father, who said, “Mommy’s okay. Mommy’s okay.” That made me tear up again. Mommy was okay, and she is a remarkable woman who defied the odds and her doctors, and *walked* up to meet me. I’m still overwhelmed when I think about what that means, and how I was part of it.
Okay. While I compose myself, here are some pictures from the final day of MegaCon 2013:
I was pretty geeked out by this awesome AWESOME-O cosplay.
I’ve forgotten this young woman’s name, but she drew an incredible Wilthulu for me.
Another remarkable artist who’s name has gone out of my head (my brain rotates those logs pretty quickly). She drew this fantastic picture of the TNG cast with Q, and gave me a copy of it. I really, really love it when people get excited and make things, and I love that Star Trek is something that inspires that so frequently.
Chris Hamer drew this commission for a couple, who asked me to sign it for them.
How incredibly cute is this Borderlands 2 Cosplay?! I just love the little muscles his mom drew on his shirt.
Fix-It Felix and Vanellope Von Schweetz cosplay! How adorable are they together?
Last one: it’s me and my space mom, Gates McFadden!
Gates has a wonderful theatre here in Los Angeles (Atwater Village, to be precise). Her theatre’s tumblr is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: Gates has a Doctor Crusher action figure that she takes all over the place and puts into darkly comic situations which are photographed and captioned. The individual images are hilarious, but when they are taken as a whole, they tell a story that … well, I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Seriously, check it out, and tell your friends.
MegaCon was really great. I had a good time on my panel Saturday morning, where I told some jokes and did a Q&A with about 3500 or so people in the room. The TNG panel Saturday night suffered from appallingly bad moderation (Patrick was interrupted during a wonderful story about working on the show when the moderator decided to make it all about him with an inappropriate unprofessional, and disrespectful Harlem Shake bit) but I think the group of us overcame it as best as we could.
I’m really glad I went to the convention. I got to visit with my TNG family again, knowing that the entire group of us probably won’t be in the same place like this for at least a year, and I got to share in some of the most wonderful and inspiring moments I’ve experienced in years. If you were there, thanks for making it a great weekend for me.