Merry Christmas 2016 – Tabz’s Christmas Letter

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Dear family and friends,

I can’t believe it’s already time to post something like this. It feels like just yesterday it was Christmas. Or at least a couple months ago. 2015 has been a year of immense change. Not all of it happy, but it’s been an amazing journey.

Last year at this time, my friend of five years, Henry, told me that he liked me as more than just a friend. We had met online and 2015 started our courtship.

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We met in person for the first time in March while I was working at Wizard World Las Vegas convention. We had an amazing time together (catching moments between me working a convention)! He took me on my first official date to see the Cirque du Soleil  show, Mystère.

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Henry is kind, a bit more reserved than I am, thoughtful, and an amazing partner. He lives in Baltimore with his six year old son “Z.” God has blessed me enough to visit there three times this year (my third trip will be over Christmas day and New Year’s Day). I have a blast with both of my boys while I’m out there. Z is amazingly curious, gentle, and creative. He and I have had more than one sword fight and I’m looking to a lot more.

In September, Henry was able to come out to California and he gave me a promise ring, a symbol of our commitment to each other.

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In November, I was able to visit for my birthday and was surprised when Henry proposed! You can see all about it on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s FB page here. We’ve set the date as March 19th in Pico Rivera, CA.

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A lot of other cool things happened this year too. I got a contract job working for CONtv, so got to do a a lot of fun geek stuff. I made some amazing friends there too. It was one of the most fun offices I’ve worked in. My parents and I got to go to the Puente Hills Mall (aka where they filmed Back to the Future) for Back to the Future Day!

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Then, after nearly six years of working part-time jobs or contract jobs, I finally got a full-time job. It’s a fantastic social media agency and I work on FOX TV accounts. I’m really enjoying it and hope to continue after the wedding.

This summer, BFF Kim and I went back to San Diego Comic-Con. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year we got to hang out with our friend Robin Hudson as well! It’s awesome to think these ladies have been my friends for over 8 years.

I got to go to Wizard World Chicago as well, and was able to meet up with my old Moody friends Jen and Mark. As well as my beloved friend Wanda! It was so great to catch up on friendships that have been around for a very long time.

I also attended Stan Lee’s Comikaze, CatCon and Gallifrey One. Can you tell I love conventions?

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I also attended three red carpets. One for Sharkando 3, one for Minecraft: Story Mode and one for Attack on Titan.11267528_10154095466700616_4717590068762100335_n12079195_10154272892035616_1404505199743385675_n

In January, I lost my beloved Grandpa “Crampa” – Bill Copeland. It was a hard time as he kept being told he was going to recover, that he was dying, and that he’d recover (on a daily basis). My parents and I got to spend a lot of time with him in the hospital which I’m very grateful.

One of the great things was I got to see my whole family in one place for his funeral. Including my cousin Sydney which I had never met in person before!

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I miss Crampa a lot. He was always full of love and great stories. I’m grateful for his impact in my life.

After quite a few years of feeling stuck in a circle of waiting for God’s plan, I’m extremely happy that 2016 seems to be the start to a grand, great adventure. I hope to see you sometime in the new year and we can celebrate and laugh together. If not, know that you mean a lot to me and I think of each of you often.

Merry Christmas!

Love,

Tabz

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We Need Solutions, Not Scapegoats: Love in the Time of a Confederate Flag

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I was in high school when Columbine happened. It was a tragedy that hit close to home because, with just a few different choices in my parents’ lives, I might be one of those kids running out of the school or lying dead. I still vividly remember for months after the shooting people formulating the “why” to why did this tragedy happen. One of the resounding scapegoats was violent music, particularly Marilyn Manson.

Warning. Marilyn Manson.

Warning: Marilyn Manson.

Now, I’m not a Marilyn Manson fan. At the time I wasn’t even sure who Marilyn Manson was (my parents are very conservative and I listened to pretty much zero secular music unless it was Johnny Cash). Yet, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the idea that music, itself, could cause anyone to shoot up their classmates.

There’s a kind of mystic power as a nation we give to symbols every time there’s a tragedy. We blame video games and music for the tragedy that stems from kids, we blame locations and weather, we blame TV and movies, and a lot of other things, but rarely do we blame the perpetrator. In our rush for “an answer” often we are looking for a solution. As a result of Columbine, our music and video games now come with warning labels (because, you know, that’s totally stopped the tragic school shootings).

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General Lee Confederate Flag

With the recent rash of just wiping out the confederate flag from everything including the General Lee toys (based on the TV show Dukes of Hazzard) and every civil war game in the Apple App store because of the tragedy in Charleston, I kind of wonder if we’re so excited we have a solution that we don’t ask ourselves is it going to fix the problem?

The real problem is racism. I agree that the confederate flag is a symbol of that problem.  Much like the Nazi flag was a symbol of genocide, racism, and hate. I would be upset if the Nazi flag was flying on anything. The flags, however, did not wipe out 1 million Jews and countless others. They also did not enslave an entire race because of their skin color.

Symbols are powerful, but they are not magical. When you put on a wedding ring, that does not make you instantly a wife or husband. When you are married and you take it off, that does not make you a cheating spouse. Your actions and your heart make you a husband or a wife. The ring is just an outward symbol of that internal reality.

When Dylann Roof murdered people in Charleston, the flag flying or not flying wouldn’t have changed his mind. He was full of hate for others because he was. The outward symbol of that was having the confederate flag on his license plate. The inward reality was if it wasn’t that symbol, it would have been another one.

All this said, I’m in favor of removing the flag, but not because it’s going to instantly heal all racism. I’m in favor of removing it because of love.

I once worked recording a marriage seminar for Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages. In the seminar, he said something I will never forget about what love really is, “if you can change something for someone else, then do it.” It seemed basic, but it was profound and has stick with me these 10+ years later. Of course, he meant in this case, in a marriage if your habit of dropping your socks on the floor drives your spouse insane, then break the habit and put them in the hamper.

But I also take it to a larger sense: if your flag is making people hurt from your own state (which they also call their home), then remove it. Life is way too short to value things over people. The US was born of an idea of religious and individual freedom, but it was also born out of the idea of banding together to make a country. Self-sacrifice for others is not uncommon and if removing a flag or changing the name of a building eases someone else, I’d do it in a heartbeat for the sake of love.

 

(I’ll side note here and say that this flag we’re talking about is actually the battle flag for General Lee’s unit, it’s not “THE” confederate flag, but Lee himself didn’t want any confederate flags flown at his funeral)

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Time is Too Short: Lessons from a Death in the Family

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This past month has been draining. With Grandpa getting sick on the 18th of January up until his memorial on the 9th (I just got back yesterday from being at my aunt’s from Sunday until now) — I’m officially spent!

Here’s some things I’ve learned though:
1. Take lots of pictures with folks you love. You’ll never, ever regret it. — My mom is the picture taker of the family and she gets some grumbles whenever she wants family pictures, but they were a great comfort. During the funeral we played a slideshow my mom and I worked on with pictures of Grandpa. I adore the pictures I have of him and me together. They remind me that Grandpa loved me.

2. Get over it if you can, especially with family (obviously the emphasis is IF YOU CAN). No one’s perfect, but being bitter just rots you inside out. If you can be the person to forgive, do it. Tiny slights, hurts, and misperceptions can grow into a much bigger thing than it actually is. It’s best to remember that you probably hurt your family member too along the way – grace is much better than bitterness.

Side note: I have friends who have terrible family members. I’m not suggesting that everyone just kiss and makes up. Obviously, forgiveness doesn’t always mean restoring the relationship, but at least making some progress before it’s too late.
Related: sometimes your perception of events is radically different than anyone else’s.

3. Don’t delay to see someone in the hospital. I’m eternally grateful that I saw Grandpa sick and was able to help him in the hospital. He was grateful. I’ll always remember him as the big, strong Grandpa he was, but I also know I made his last days more comfortable.

4. Have a plan for your own funeral, write down things you’d like, share them with someone who can tell others. This is a morbid one, but we found ourselves going “what’s Grandpa’s favorite hymn?” It would have been nice to know those things. Also, on that include important dates others might not know (like when you graduated, moved places, etc). Mine is in a GoogleDoc I shared with my best friend. I also have a list of people to contact that may family may not know, music I liked, and who I’d like to do the service. Related lesson: put aside some money for your funeral. Any money helps.

5. Write names, dates and places on the back of your pictures. Please? This has happened at the death of almost every one of my grandparents where we go, “who is this? WHEN was this? WHERE is this?” Don’t let a future generation lose their history.

6. Always say I love you. This is a lesson that has been haunting me for awhile now. Tell people, even your friends, you love them. Tell them how much they mean before they pass away. Saying it at a funeral is nice, but telling them before they go is even better. Some folks NEED to hear it. Even if they know it intellectually, hearing it again and again is amazing.

7. Best thing to say to someone who has lost a family member is actually not verbal – hug them. Every single hug was such a comfort to me. Sympathy cards are pretty amazing too. I never understood that until I got some.

8. Everyone’s grief looks different. I didn’t really cry at the funeral. I felt bad. But I cried later. I realize every time I go through grief the same truth – grief is different for different people.

9. Sleep is always needed. Giving yourself permission to sleep is the best thing you can do when you’re sad.

10. It’s hard not having any grandparents left. I miss them all. I really wanted them at my wedding. It’s hard to think that I won’t have any there. But, in the end, I’m glad they’re in heaven and I can’t wait to see them. It just sucks for me here.

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Doctor Who… A Story of Hope

But it was, it was a better life. I don’t mean all the travelling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things. That don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. You know, he showed you too. You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say “no.” You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away, and I just can’t! – Rose

I had a terrible week and one of the solutions to my terrible week was mainlining season 7 of Doctor Who again. Why? The simple muggle answer is that I’m an obsessive fan girl. I know there’s some folks who read my Facebook and Twitter feed and roll their eyes at the sheer amount of Doctor Who I post, but here’s the thing… there’s a deeper reason then that.

Doctor Who is a story of hope.

The Doctor, the main character, is much more than a hero. He doesn’t come in guns blazing (he hates guns). He’s more than a sic-fi time traveler, he’s the fictional embodiment of hope. When we first meet him he’s a grumpy but lovable old grandfather who insists on knowledge over fighting. Then, over the past fifty years of content, we’ve found him to be almost god-like, but with the frailties, regret, and grief that resonates with us all.

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There’s so many reasons to love this show. The Doctor reinforces the idea that everyone is special. One of my favorite lines is in the picture above. “900 years of time and space and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.” Not only is everyone important, but The Doctor also revels in diversity and marvels in the face of different species and people. Slime people? Beautiful. Blue bug-looking aliens? Beautiful. Terrifying robotic mice things with giant teeth? Beautiful. Ever the scientist in wonder and awe with the universe.

Unlike most heroes, the Doctor doesnt carry a gun or any sort of weapon. Instead he carries a screw driver because he’s here to fix problems (or possibly assemble a bookcase at them). That, his TARDIS (the time machine), and his brain are all the weapons he needs.

The Doctor also teaches you that no matter how scared, or alone, or lost you are – someone will be there to help you (even if that someone is yourself sometimes). He inspires people (and viewers) to be better.

There’s no adventure too big or decision to scary for the Doctor. He believes in exploring, in having fun, and looking fairly cool doing it all. He’s a fairytale, a savior, and an enigma. Much like Tantalus, part of the fandom will always be trying to catch who the Doctor really is and coming up with sand instead of water.

I think the most important thing that Doctor Who teaches us is that our future depends on us making choices. One of my favorite episodes is Closing Time. In it, the Doctor, who thinks he’s dying, tells baby Alfie this:

You are so young. Aren’t you? And you know, right now everything’s ahead of you. You could be anything. Yes, I know. You could walk among the stars. They don’t actually look like that you know. They are rather more impressive. You know when I was little like you I dreamt of the stars. I think it’s fair to say, in the language of your age, that I lived my dream. I owned the stage. Gave it a hundred and ten percent. I hope you have as much fun as I did, Alfie.

The future is about fun, about owning the stage and living every moment to it’s fullest. 900 years of time and space may not be in your future, but you can have as much fun as the Doctor – if you only decide to.

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The Days You Remember

My friend P.G. Holyfield passed away this week. He went from well to sick in a matter of days. It was way too fast and way too shocking for me. There were patches of time since I heard the news on Sunday that I’ve been okay. Patches of time where I laughed and felt like the world was all right. Then, it hit me again.

I’m not down a dark well, but I do feel like someone kind of floating through the week. Grief is weird like that, you never quite know how it’ll hit you. You never really want to know. Stack on top of it an exhausting weekend before at GenCon and catching a cold and I think the right word to describe how I am is miserable.

I’ve felt this way before. Way too many times and many of those times were because of cancer. The first time I remember feeling it was when my grandmother Shirley died. She was a beautiful, strong woman and cancer took her slowly. My grandma Bettie went more quickly, but still that numb, floating feeling hit me hard. In both cases it felt wrong that the world was going along like normal around me. It felt like I should scream at people to stop being so happy. It wasn’t out of desperation or fear, but just wanting the world to adjust to the process I was going through. It often felt like stepping out of darkness into the sunlight. You squint and it takes awhile to adjust.

I always have hope though. I can’t imagine not. My belief in another life, a better life, keeps me going. Celebration of a life well lived should always have, at it’s core, hope.

P.G. Holyfield and I met through podcasting back in 2006. I call it the golden age of podcasting where no one felt like anything but a friend. It was a community-centric hobby. It was a time where we supported one another and cared about each other. It was magical. P.G. actually joined Buffy Between the Lines in season 2 and helped us out. Then, a naive person I was, I wrote a DragonCon script that called for Scott Sigler. P.G. happily stepped in when Sigler was not available. I had just listened to the audio again before I left for GenCon, just days before I learned about his illness.

I’ve met P.G. twice, both times at DragonCon. He was always so excited. He was the kind of guy who made you feel like you were important. Nothing of the “fame” of being an author or big in podcasting ever changed him. He was great.

When P.G. asked me to write a short story for him, I felt like the prettiest girl at the ball. I can’t tell you the impact that had on me. It had been awhile since I had published anything and writing that story sparked me alive again. It was one of the fastest pieces I’ve ever written and it reminded me why I loved writing. P.G. gave that to me.

And now he’s gone, and I’m sad, but there are so many good days to remember.  So many hours of podcasts to listen to. So much good.

Farewell, P.G. and thank you.

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fanTABZulous Episode #48 Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 Day 11: Robin Williams

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In which, Tabz talks about Robin William’s death, plans for GenCon, and listening to the Dog Days podcast feed.

 

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fanTABZulous Episode #47 Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 Day 10: Science of Dogs Barking

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Science! I said Science Again!

 

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fanTABZulous Episode #46 Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 Day 8: Hellooooo Post Lady

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In which Tabz walks back to her house mostly to get away from nature.

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fanTABZulous Episode #45 Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 Day 7: Portable Chargers and Uber

In which Tabz discusses thoughts from her travels today.

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fanTABZulous Episode #44 Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 Day 6: Random Tired Thoughts

In which Tabz Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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