“A Con Virgin’s Perspective”
* To be clear, this is the first—and only—convention I’ve ever attended, so over the top squeeing and a complete shattering of any pride I once had is likely. Also, my husband asked that I not use his picture, so out of respect I cropped the last photo. You’ve been warned.
A few years ago, my husband and I were browsing the shelves at our local Wal-Mart, searching for our next binge. I’m not sure if we had just finished Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead, and I don’t remember what we walked out of the store with that day. Those details aren’t important. What I do remember is Daulton pointing out the first two seasons of Supernatural, in all its cellophane wrapped glory, and saying, “Hey, this is a good show.”
I put down whatever I had been holding and walked over, peeking around his shoulder at the cover. “What’s it about?” I asked.
“It’s about these two brothers that hunt down ghosts and monsters,” he explained. “We used to watch it when it was first on t.v., but I kinda got out of it around season four or five.”
Let me tell you, I’ve never been one for scary movies. I don’t do the whole poltergeist-grudge-exorcism-leave-you-with-nightmares-crap. Nope. Not doing it. Sorry. I kind of laughed at my husband, and was like, yeah, no. So, he dropped it and we ended up watching something else that night.
Fast-forward a bit, and I was sitting at home on maternity leave while our child napped. I was exhausted, so I figured a little television would help me relax until she woke up. I flipped through the guide until I came across that title again: Supernatural. Curiosity struck, and I clicked on the info. “Good God, Ya’ll!” was playing on TNT, part of their devilish little four hour block of the show playing Monday through Friday. I chewed my lip debating. Daulton had said the show was a little scary, but I do have a weird fascination with the biblical apocalypse, so what’s the worst that can happen, right? I figured if it got too bad that I’d just change the channel and go on with my life. Boy was I wrong.
I was immediately enamored by the bond these brothers shared—even if I did laugh a bit at first at how deep their voices were—and engrossed by the storyline. I started catching every episode I could, and when my first Mother’s Day rolled around, I asked only for the first ten seasons of Supernatural on DVD. We wended up ordering the blu-ray. It was worth it. We watched all two hundred and twenty-odd episodes in three weeks. Three. Again, it was worth it.
I forget how I found my first Supernatural related picture on Pinterest, but my obsession only grew with each new pin I saved. Pretty soon though, I began coming across pictures that weren’t from the show. I started seeing Tweets from the cast and quotes from panels at…conventions? You mean to tell me people actually get together and do a Q and A with the cast? There’s a concert? Photo-ops? What are those? The more I learned, the more I needed to be a part of what this group of people called the “SPNFamily.” There seemed to be so much love and acceptance there, surely it couldn’t be real. So, I discovered fanfic, joined Twitter, started following the guys and a few fellow fans, and I had caught up enough that I could start watching the show right as season twelve aired. It was fun! I got to discuss the latest episode with other people, share gifs, and just generally have an outlet for anything and everything on my mind. These people listened to me. These people cared. Every few weeks though, pictures and hashtags would fill my feed telling of that weekend’s convention. I got that urge to know more, that need to figure out what all the fuss was about. The Saturday that my dad got remarried, Jensen and Jared posted a picture from Lynchburg, TN after touring Jack Daniels, and I was shocked to say the least. I didn’t realize they were in my neck of the woods. Why come to our tiny area? Turns out, SPNNash 2017 was happening.
Tap the brakes.
Nashville? They come all the way to Nashville? Again, I turned to Google. There I came across the Creation website and found out the next convention in Nashville would be April 13-15, 2018. After begging and pleading and pretty much bugging the crap out of my husband, Daulton agreed to get tickets, and the countdown began. We ordered our two Copper tickets in January of this year and booked our hotel room at the Opry Mills Resort, and I even got to add in a Briana Buckmaster autograph and a J2M photo op. My excitement only grew.
A few weeks before the convention, I began marking the days in dry erase marker on my bathroom mirror. One week out, I set a timer on my phone counting down the hours, and I also felt the need to remind everyone around me how long I had left several times a day. My veins thrummed with energy at the very thought of being in the same room with these people. I scoured the internet for photo-op poses, packed and re-packed my clothes, downloaded the convention schedule, scheduled and confirmed with my dad and step-mom that they were still good with keeping our two-year-old—call us crazy, but it’s the only time my husband and I have ever been away from her overnight—and I even did a questionable happy dance when I printed off our tickets at work. If I’m being honest, I was probably a headache to be around in the days leading up to NashCon, but I couldn’t find it in myself to care. I had read the books, listened to the music, learned everything I possibly could about the cast and the band, and I was overjoyed that I would actually be experiencing what so many fans gushed about online.
I couldn’t sleep much that Friday night. Just knowing I’d be at the convention in less than twelve hours was driving me crazy. The next morning, I was up at 4:00 a.m. I showered, dressed, did my hair and makeup, and put the coffee on before waking up my husband and getting our girl up and dressed. I couldn’t stay still. I had to keep busy, had to keep moving, because my nerves were worn and frayed. We were in the car and on the road by 6:30, and I’m not ashamed to say that I went more than a little over the speed limit as we blazed a trail down the all too familiar highway to my dad’s house. After a bittersweet goodbye, we left our girl and started towards Nashville. My advice? If you can stay away from the interstate, do it. We stayed on one two-lane highway all the way from Chapel Hill to Nashville, and it was a much more enjoyable drive. There was more scenery and less stress, two things I definitely needed to quell my nerves.
We found the resort without too much trouble, but parking was a bit confusing. Neither myself or Daulton had ever been to Opry Mills (I know, I know, it’s practically a sin to be a native Tennessean and never see the Country Music Hall of Fame, but guess what? I can be a fan of country and never step foot in that place, so hardy-har-har.) so we really didn’t know how everything worked there. We were effectively winging the entire weekend. After turning around a couple of times and waving apologetically at a couple of cars, we finally found a parking spot…that looked to be about a half mile away from the front door, but that was fine, I told myself. It’s not like we would be venturing far from the convention anyway, right?
I’m laughing at myself even as I type this.
I literally put my highlander into park as the first couple of raindrops hit my windshield. I scrambled to get all my stuff together as Daulton rounded the car with an umbrella, and bless that man, even though the clouds had opened up and were raining down every drop they had available, my husband still refused to share the umbrella with me. He wanted me to stay somewhat dry so I could enjoy the convention. Insert love-struck sigh here. We ran to the hotel as fast as we could, but we were still sopping wet when we stepped foot inside the front door.
I’ve never felt so underdressed in my life.
From the polished floors to the beautiful sculptures to the suits everyone else seemed to be donning, I was feeling a bit out of place in my dripping flannel and red Chuck Taylors. I looked to my husband, but he looked just as out of place as I felt.
We made our way over to the check in desk, waited in line, and after explaining why we looked such a mess to the super friendly guy on the other side—he ended up being a lifesaver, but more on that later—we were told our room would be ready sometime between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00p.m. I’m not kidding. The guy told us we’d be spending at least the next five hours soaking wet and dragging around our also soaking wet duffel bag full of clothes. Alrighty then. We gratefully took the map the man slid across the counter and thanked him before leaving the desk.
“Now what?” my husband asked me. I returned his questioning look with one of my own, threw in a shrug for good measure, and unfolded the map to check it against the convention schedule.
“I guess we go try and dry off while we wait for registration to open at 10:00.”
And off we went, dodging the crowd and trying to make sense of the map we’d been given, trying to find my people in a sea of strangers. The resort was beautiful, though, so it wasn’t an unpleasant walk, I just wished I had a dry pair of socks. Lieutenant Dan would be peeved.
We eventually found the Delta area, and the closer we got, the more excited I became. I started seeing more and more people wearing Supernatural shirts and bags, and I even noticed a couple of folks with the anti-possession tattoo. Oh yeah, I thought as I offered each one a friendly smile. These are definitely my people. I looked up to the numerous balconies that overlooked the shops and restaurants, and I imagined a few of the cast members waking up and drinking their coffee while looking down at the swarm below. I pictured Rob and Rich in t-shirts and shorts, goofing off and trading jokes while they got ready for the day. Briana wasn’t able to make it this trip, but perhaps the other women of Supernatural were laughing while they ate breakfast. It was probably naïve, but maybe, just maybe, one of them saw me looking up. Yeah, that’d be pretty cool.
We passed various shops and climbed a flight of stairs, and that’s when I saw it. There were Supernatural fans scattered all across the large landing. Some people were huddled in a group chatting while others were sitting cross-legged with their back to whatever pole or wall or railing was close by, but they were all here for the same reason I was. To my right was a set of closed double doors and beside them a few tables behind a roped off section of the room. Going by the signs around the tables, I figured that’s where registration would take place.
I spotted a bathroom across the way and nudged my husband’s arm. “I’m going to see if I can dry off some,” I told him and headed that way.
When I rounded the corner, I immediately saw various ladies all hanging out or fixing their hair or cosplay costumes. The one thing I didn’t see was an automatic hand dryer. I scrunched my face, dropped my bag beside a changing table, and grabbed several wads of paper towels before taking off my shoes and socks. I literally had to wring my socks out in the sink, and they were still soaked. I retrieved my copy of “Family Don’t End With Blood” and the first “Covers With Friends” CD from my purse. They weren’t soaked, but the book definitely had sustained a bit of water damage. I also found the miniature rainbow slinky my kid had been playing with a few days prior to the convention and slipped it into my pocket with a grin. The irony of finding that particular toy in my bag at that particular time wasn’t lost on me.
Suddenly I was nervous. People probably thought I was nuts, standing barefoot in a public bathroom trying to dry off and do something with my hair. I tried not to look anyone in the eye, keeping myself focused on the task at hand, but I felt like a freak. I was there to make friends, to share in a common love, and as far as first impressions go, I wasn’t doing a great job. I hurriedly finished up and gathered my things, brushing passed the other girls without a word as I sought the solace my husband’s familiar face provided. Daulton was waiting on me outside, coffee in hand, and I could finally breathe again.
We settled in to wait for registration to open, sipping coffee and looking at the signs in the area, and I decided that I’d add some cash to my Briana autograph ticket to get Misha’s autograph instead. It was that moment, looking at all of the available autographs and photo-op tickets still on sale, that I realized something. I dug through my purse, mentally cursing myself and the weather, searching for our tickets I’d printed off at work earlier in the week. My husband and I shared a look, and I explained that I left our tickets in the glovebox of our car that was across the parking lot and still under the torrential rain outside.
We garnered the attention of one of the Creation employees and asked them whether or not we needed a physical copy of our tickets for registration. The lady, who reminded us both of one of our high school teachers, promptly explained that yes, we did need those tickets printed out, and no, she did not know of a place where we could print off another copy, and then she was gone. Keep in mind that just about everyone we came across that weekend was extremely nice, but this woman came across more as an angry Chihuahua. I get that she was probably extremely busy, but if working with the public has taught me anything, it’s that a smile—even a fake one—can make all the difference.
Anyway, remember that super nice guy at the hotel’s check-in desk I told you would end up being a lifesaver? Well, as we headed back across the resort to the entrance closest to where our car was parked, we decided that it couldn’t hurt to check and see if there was a customer service desk or public computer of some sort somewhere in the building we could use. All I needed was access to my email. We dropped by the desk and explained our predicament to the guy, and guess what? He smiled, asked me to forward the tickets to his email, and printed them off right there. I wish I could remember his name, and I really should have written it down so I could brag on him later, but I didn’t think of it at the time, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.
Fresh tickets in hand, we walked all the way back to the Delta area of the resort (there’s a lot of walking back and forth that went on during this trip) and arrived just as the line was forming at registration. I know I keep saying that I was excited, but that excitement just kept building, topping what I thought couldn’t get any higher. I’m telling you, I don’t think I’ve experienced this level of emotional height since I gave birth, and that left me crying happy tears. Anyway, we hopped in line, and I kept pointing out different costumes, bags, and t-shirts to my husband that I thought were super cool. To the person who created golden wings out of safety pins on the back of a green jacket, you’re my cosplay hero. Kudos, my friend.
All of that excitement was laced with a heavy dose of nerves, and I found myself fidgeting with the rainbow slinky I’d come across earlier, continually sliding its coils this way and that between my fingers as a way to release some of my pent up energy. Everyone around us seemed to know exactly what they were doing, breezing through the line with practiced ease, and I felt totally out of my element, wishing someone, anyone would explain what we were supposed to do next. That’s probably my only real complaint. It was like being that kid in the Sandlot movies. He was trying to join a group of friends who had known each other for what seemed like forever, and though they welcomed him, he never really seemed to fit. I realize now that I probably should have planned on meeting up with one of the people I knew were going to be at the convention, but whenever I saw—or thought I saw—them in the crowd of people, I was terrified of introducing myself. What was I supposed to say? “Hi, I’m Sarah. We’ve talked on Twitter, but I figured I’d introduce myself,” or, “Are you (insert Twitter handle here)?” I imagined myself standing there awkwardly trying to come up with something else to say and failing miserably. Maybe next year I’ll have the guts to say hi. Side note: Is there a fan convention survival guide out there somewhere? If not, can someone write one?
We got our badges and wristbands, went to swap my Briana autograph ticket for Misha’s (yay!), and then followed the crowd into the vendor’s room. Ah yes, my happy place. I rarely get to the mall as the closest one with a Hot Topic store is about forty miles from my hometown, so I’ve taken to scouring Amazon for Supernatural gear, and occasionally I’ll check Stands for the latest campaign, but other than that, it’s really difficult to find anything with Supernatural on it. That’s why my eyes grew to the size of saucers when I saw table after table stocked full of the stuff. I looked at my husband, and he grinned before giving me a little nudge to our right where the first booth was. It contained mostly headshots and other pictures you could get autographed or whatever, but I wasn’t too interested in those. I could ogle the cast on the internet whenever I wanted, but I was surprised to see other fandoms included in those pictures. The Twilight one was probably the most shocking. I still can’t figure out how or why that got there, but to each his own, I guess.
There was a woman selling all kinds of jewelry at one table, but it was the charm bracelets that I zeroed in on. I’d saved one to a board on Pinterest ages ago, and after I said as much to Daulton, he urged me to pick one out. He kept urging me to buy stuff, and I later found out he’d planned on doing that for a while. Suddenly all the overtime he’d put in the weeks leading up to the convention made sense. I’m telling you, I don’t deserve that man, but back to the bracelets. I picked one, and the lady added a few links before helping me get it on. As I was paying, she explained that she makes them all herself. Turns out, several of the vendors we spoke with hand make the stuff they sell. If you get a chance, tell them how amazing they are the next time you see them. They work hard, and they deserve to know that we appreciate it.
We visited a couple of other booths before it was time to go into the main hall for the first panel of the day. Again, I was buzzing with excitement, my eyes scanning every inch of the auditorium as I tried to take in even the smallest of details. Banners were hung on either side of the room, different shots from the show on each one, and up ahead was the stage. Louden Swain’s instruments were set up across it along with several chairs and microphones. In just a few minutes, Rob and Rich would be on that stage to introduce the women’s panel. I couldn’t believe it! We found our seats fairly easily, and I toyed with my camera, adjusting the lighting and zoom until I found the right settings.
Louden Swain entered the stage amid a roaring round of applause and screams. They began playing, Rob started singing, and I was soaking it up like a friggin’ sponge. Usually seeing a band live is kind of a let down because of the sound quality, but these guys were amazing, and my smile never faltered as Rob introduced Richard. Did you know Nashville is the city of his birth? You didn’t? Well if you attended NashCon, you know the reminder of hat fact was the running joke of the weekend. Heck, I still occasionally come across it online, and I still laugh.
Rich was running around on stage like a toddler hyped up on energy drinks and gummy worms, so I ended up resorting to capturing video instead of trying to catch him standing still. As a matter of fact, the above picture is the only time he didn’t appear as a blur in the image. It kind of sums up his personality, don’t you think? He kept us laughing until the ladies showed up, and then he and the band disappeared backstage while fans lined up to ask questions on either side of the stage. (That’s another thing I’ve been wondering about. There was a raffle to choose who got to ask J2M questions, but people just appeared during the other panels. How is that decided?)
I won’t go into too much detail on the panel because I honestly can’t remember each and every question asked, but I know one thing. These women were exactly what I expected. Kim was high energy and swore a lot, but that’s just how she is, unapologetically her. Alicia didn’t say too much, and I admit I don’t know much about her, but her humor was pretty dry, and I found myself liking her for it. Lisa was all soul, full of great stories of her first time on set and loving reminders to be kind to ourselves. I found out that Ruth was queen of the stage with her infectious smile and could do an impressive southern accent. Rachel was just as quirky and nerdy as she appears to be on social media, and I love her even more now that I’ve seen her in person. All in all, the ladies of Supernatural were a breath of fresh air. It was a revelation seeing such strong women being able to be honest with us about themselves and life in general. I’d like to see more of that.
Immediately following the ladies’ panel, Rob and Rich were back on stage for a panel of their own, and what a wild ride that was! Going in, I knew these guys were close, but to see them interact with each other in person was totally different. I don’t know if they’re best friends—though, at this point Vegas money’s on yeah—but they sure acted like it. Richard took full advantage of playing on his home field, and Rob went along with it, graciously accepting his role of “the enemy.” Whenever Rich tried to make a point about anything, the crowd backed him up completely, and Rob bemoaned how unfair it all was and how things were usually more even split, but it was all in fun. I may have screamed a bit louder in Richard’s favor once I was able to confirm the emblem on his ball cap was, in fact, the Vanderbilt star and V, but hey, I’m a fangirl of many things, so to see one of my favorite actors merge with my favorite sports team was like a dream. Just one more reason to love these guys. This shot is my favorite of R2. Rich was saying, “Hashtag, ‘Rob’s a jerk,’” and Rob wore the longsuffering face of someone contemplating whether or not jail is worth murdering their pal. I can’t help it. Grumpy Rob is pretty awesome.
By the time Rob and Rich were done making everyone belly laugh, my husband and I were ready to stretch our legs and do a little more browsing in the vendors’ room while we waited for Ruth Connell to start signing autographs. I kept a watchful eye on her table while we walked around checking out the various booths we’d missed that morning, and I picked up a few cool items—my favorite being a pair of “Hey Assbutt” underwear—but when that line started to form, you’d better believe I made a beeline for it.
As I approached the tiny woman (yes, I say tiny, because I’m 5’10”) my nerves began to rear their ugly head. I didn’t know what to say. She was beautiful, funny, and I’d been anticipating this moment for a while. After handing her my book and telling her how to spell my name, I fumbled for words. I wanted to tell her how much she meant to me and about the tiny interaction we’d had on Twitter. You see, around Christmas of 2017, I sent out a question on Twitter. I was trying to plan for the convention before I bought tickets, but the Creation website said Ruth sold autographs independently, so I had no idea how much she would charge. Well, ask and ye shall receive. I tagged Ruth in a tweet asking how much she usually charged per autograph, and lo and behold, the woman sent me a private message along with prices and a “Merry merry!” for the holidays. I then thanked her and asked permission to share that info with others, which she agreed to. These guys are super busy year round, and I’m sure they get oodles of mentions online, so actually interacting with me, though it was a small act, made a big impression. Standing in front of Ruth however, what came out of my mouth was, “We actually talked a bit on Twitter around Christmas.”
Her eyebrows raised, and Ruth said, “Oh okay.” She had no clue what I was talking about, and if ever there was a time to actually facepalm, that was it. Oy. It’s not like I expected her to remember, but I did expect to handle myself with a bit more grace and articulation, but no. I’m not even sure if what I said actually made sense. I dragged my husband away as fast as possible before she could see the blush creeping up my face.
Food was the next thing on our agenda, so, duffel bag slung over my husband’s shoulder and resort map once again under my nose, we headed out in search of some lunch. Let me remind you that this place was pretty huge, and we were still running around semi-drenched, our shoes and socks squelching a bit with each step. As it turns out, everyone else in the building was also in search of sustenance, and lines were out the door at every business we dared poke our heads into.
After exploring and retracing our steps several times, we finally decided the half hour wait at Fuze, a sports bar on the far end of the resort, was worth it as far as the menu and prices went. Honestly, I think we would have taken whatever we could get at that point. They took our name and number, and then we wandered aimlessly for a while before somehow ending up upstairs outside what looked like boardrooms. I don’t know what it was, but the place was pretty quiet and had super comfy chairs, so we settled in, grateful to have a place to rest for a bit. We ended up getting texts from the hotel and restaurant at the same time (around 2:30-ish) telling us that our room was ready and that we had a table waiting on us as well. Food first, we decided. The hotel could wait. (Fuze has awesome burgers and killer hurricanes, just FYI.)
Our room ended up being about as far away from the convention as possible. Tucked away in a tiny corner near the main lobby of the Cascades section of the resort, our view from the balcony was limited but peaceful, and by the time we actually got into it, I was just thankful for a place to land for a few minutes. It also didn’t hurt that we were only two floors above the Starbucks, but I wouldn’t realize exactly how much of a luxury that was until the next morning. My husband showered while I tried to use the hotel blow-dryer to get some dry socks and shoes—another luxury I didn’t fully appreciate until Sunday morning when I slipped on a warm and dry pair.
I’m going to just be straight forward about this next part because, why not? I’ve told you everything else, so why hide this? I was…less than enthused about seeing Mark Pellegrino’s panel. In fact, I even told my husband we could skip it entirely as long as we were back in our seats in time to see Misha on stage. Based on the limited information I had about Mark, I didn’t really care for him. Not that I hated the guy, but I’m not really a fan of celebrities that get mixed up in drama.
I was wrong, guys, and I’m sorry.
What I saw of Mark’s panel was interesting. He interacted with the fans more than almost all the other cast members I saw over the weekend, and he would oftentimes ask them thought-provoking questions after answering whatever they’d asked him. He was pretty cool, and I went into his Sunday panel really excited. I regret missing out on so much of the one on Saturday. Let me just say this, regardless of what you see or think you know of someone, at least give them a chance. You might very well be pleasantly surprised.
So…Misha’s panel was next. I was practically bouncing in my seat when Rob and Rich announced him, and I may have cheered a bit louder than absolutely necessary when he came on stage, but I’m definitely not ashamed, and Misha deserved a little extra love. The fans learned that he had been on set until like 2:00a.m. Vancouver-time, and he didn’t get to fly to Nashville until 6:00a.m., so when he finally showed up, the poor guy was exhausted. He took the time to be kind, to teach us the “correct” way to tie our shoes, and he didn’t turn anyone away from his autograph table that night.
The Creation folks asked those who could to put off getting Misha’s autograph until Sunday, and I ended up feeling terrible because we would be on our way home the next day and had no choice but to see him Saturday night. I expected to feel nervous again—he is Misha Collins, after all—but I went from giddy to guilty as soon as I realized I would be adding to his workday, and when I saw him signing away and chatting with fans, I felt even worse. He looked worn out, and the pit in my stomach deepened. Clutching my copy of “Family Don’t End With Blood,” I stepped up to the table and couldn’t take my eyes off the man. A woman took the book from me and slid it over to Misha, and he signed it while continuing to talk to the guy in front of me. I was actually about to just snag my book and slip off when Misha caught my eye, held up a finger, and mouthed the words “wait a second” at me. When the other fan left, I started to reach for my book, and I apologized.
“I’m sorry you have to stay up late tonight,” I told him, brows furrowed.
“No, no!” Misha said. “I want to be here!”
He didn’t have to take the time to speak with me at all, but he did. I would have understood completely if he had just waved me on through the line, but he didn’t. That meant a lot to me, it still does, and while it may not have been a spectacular first encounter to anyone else, it’ll always be special to me. I thanked him, and as we were walking away, my husband started laughing, and when I asked him why, he said he winked at Misha before we left, and guess what? Misha friggin’ winked back. I’m forever jealous of Daulton for that.
The Saturday Night Special was just a couple of hours after Misha signed autographs, and we were absolutely exhausted by the time we got in line. I noticed something pretty cool happening around us, though. A few fans were handing out armbands and tiny flameless candles to be held up during “She Waits,” and a few other fans were handing out different colored lights to just have fun with. Let me just say, Louden Swain put on one heck of a show, and everyone killed it on stage. From Lisa Berry’s rendition of “Proud Mary,” to Jensen Ackles killing us all with “Like A Wrecking Ball,” the place was rocking. Billy Moran was on our end of the stage, and I quickly became a fangirl of his as he shredded the guitar, and Rob ran all over the stage, but my favorite part was during “She Waits.”
If you’ve ever been to the SNS, maybe you know what I’m talking about. Rob came to the microphone and explained that sometimes “She Waits” gives him strength, but sometimes it hurts, too, and that night in Nashville, he told us he wasn’t sure exactly how he was feeling. Then they started to sing, and as lights got switched on and held high in the air, I felt this overwhelming sense of belonging. A quiet fell over the crowd as Rob poured his heart and soul into the song, and everyone was swaying back and forth showing their unwavering support for the man. It was beautiful. All these people, all from different walks of life with different belief systems, they all came together as an actual, honest to goodness family. Whatever lines divided us before that point were erased and replaced with love, and I’m still in awe of the warmth that spread through my chest my Rob crooned away on stage. These are my people, I thought, not for the first time. This is my tribe.
I woke up the next morning around 6:30a.m. and stumbled around our dark room trying to figure out how to make coffee, but after a quick glance at the tiny machine, I remembered that there was a beautiful Starbucks just two floors below us. Decision made. I threw on a bra under my t-shirt, pulled on some jeans, and slipped my feet into blissfully warm, dry, high-tops. Oh yeah, I will never, ever take dry feet for granted ever again. I glanced in the mirror to see what my unruly hair had done after my shower the night before, but it looked halfway decent, and I figured I’d press my luck. After all, who did I have to impress before I’d had my coffee? Not even Jensen Ackles could make me care how I looked at that point.
I returned minutes later with a couple of coffees and apple cinnamon muffins, and after letting my husband know I was back, I slipped out onto the balcony to enjoy the morning. The resort was bustling. People were coming and going all over the place, and a few even waved up at me. Daulton joined me a little while later, and we chatted about the day while finishing our breakfast, and played the “Where’s Misha?” game. I didn’t see him running that morning, but hopefully that’s because he was getting some much needed rest.
We got ready, checked out of our room, and headed towards the vendors’ room at about a quarter til eleven. Louden Swain was set to sign autographs at 11:00a.m., and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on that. Rob smiled at me and asked if I was having a good time, and I told him I was and that I’d been jamming to “Paper, Plastic” all week.
“That’s an oldie,” he told me. “We’ll have to bring that one back.”
Billy and Stephen also signed my copy of “A Brand New Hurt,” but before Borja signed it, he drew a little hat on the guy on the cover. It looked a lot like the one Jensen wore the night before and was in keeping with what the fans had dubbed “hat-gate,” so it made me giggle like an idiot. Thanks for the laugh, guys.
We wandered around a bit more, met people like the amazing Scout Villegas and Lynn Zubernis, and did a little exploring of what I’m pretty sure was a hallway we weren’t supposed to be in, but whatever. Jason Manns had posted that he would be signing autographs and taking pictures soon, so we headed back to his table and chatted with a few fans while we waited. Jason was incredibly nice to everyone, but what shocked me most was the fact that all of his signing and pictures and such was free. This guy is a treasure, folks. The only bad part was sitting at Stacks waiting for my burger and accidentally deleting the picture. I was nearly in tears, but next year I’ll be ready. Next year I won’t be so careless.
After lunch it was back to the theater for Mark’s second panel. It went a little long, but I’m actually kind of glad because like I said, his Saturday panel went beyond my expectations. Ruth Connell had her panel next, and I think I fell in love with her a little more. When a fan would step up to the mic, Ruth would turn to them, and, in her best Rowena voice, asked, “What’s your name, where are you from, and what do you want?” It was hilarious, and each fan that asked a question got some toiletry she’d stolen from the hotel.
Then it was time for what I’d like to call the main event. Louden Swain played “Any Way You Want It” while the crowd roared, and I’ll never forget seeing Jensen and Jared walk out on stage. I screamed like a schoolgirl, and I’m not even a little ashamed. They were laid back, and Jensen was a little quiet, but Jared more than made up for it with his high energy antics. There was a long discussion on “Nashvillians” and how they compared to other people’s names around the world—cue excited Jared and faux-grumpy Jensen. Jared revealed himself to be a big George Strait fan (same, dude, same), and Jensen acted out his somewhat supernatural experience from filming during season one. Jared said after the show ends, he’d like to take small roles here and there but nothing major. When asked what advice they could give their younger selves, Jensen said he’d like to go back and give his younger self the book “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” because it’s not about trying to fit in or wear the right things, it’s about being yourself. Jared recalled an email from his accountant who said, “Life is long,” and that advice really resonated with him. One fan was on their phone during the panel and got busted by J2. I don’t know if she survived both of them looking at her like that, but I didn’t see paramedics, so.
The whole time they just really seemed to enjoy themselves, which in turn made it more enjoyable for the fans. They let go and laughed and had fun with the whole panel, and it was great! I smiled when they did, laughed as they ribbed each other, and shared bright smiles with the fans around me. It was an incredible feeling.
After Jared and Jensen’s panel, there was only one thing left to do. It was probably a mistake to buy a J2M photo op for my first convention, but when I ordered the tickets I thought, if we’re gonna do this, we’re going to do it right. I admit, it wasn’t one of my brightest moments, but I don’t regret anything that happened. Besides, meeting Misha wasn’t bad at all. I was nervous, sure, but I was able to talk to him anyway, so really, how bad could it be to stand in front of all three guys? (Cue the laugh-track.)
My nerves built as we waited to be called, and when they finally announced we could head upstairs to the photo op room, I practically bolted out of my seat. I was weaving through the crowd like a pro, an invisible rope pulling me towards the elevators, and at one point I got separated from my husband and had to wait for him to catch up—apparently everyone else in the thick crowd was just as excited as I was. We finally managed to squeeze in an elevator packed with other folks, and when it opened on the next floor, Daulton and I both suppressed groans. The line went on forever, and I wasn’t even sure where it actually led to. We waited for another (30 minutes? 45? Longer?) period before reaching a set of doors that had music blaring from the other side.
At this point, my nerves were, as we tend to say in the South, shot. My hands shook around the signs I’d prepared for the op, I was sweating and freaking out about how I smelled, I couldn’t really speak and could only throw a terrified half-smile over my shoulder whenever Daulton asked if I was okay—which I definitely was not, by the way. The convention folks had us place our bags on a table behind the little room divider where Chris had set up, and the closer we got, the more I felt like I was going to pass out. When we were four or five people back in line, I did manage to lock eyes with Jared for a second, but I couldn’t hold it for long and quickly dropped my gaze. I know, I know. These people had basically turned me into a shaking leaf, but I’m still not ashamed.
Though I’d asked other people on Twitter what it was like to get this particular op (overwhelming, staring into the sun, like nothing you’ve ever experienced), it still didn’t prepare me for actually standing in front of them. I kid you not, it was just like Rich had made it out to be when he joked about the photo ops earlier in the day. Jensen turned to me and asked what we were doing for a pose. Still wide-eyed and shaking, I held up my two signs and said something along the lines of, “I was wondering if ya’ll could hold these while we take the picture?”
Jensen grabbed one with a, “Yeah!”
Misha took the other one from my hands with a, “Sure!”
And then I forgot what to say. And then I looked for my husband, but he was already standing on the other side of Misha. And then I found myself freaking out while staring at the spot between Jared and Jensen—I kid you not—with my back to the camera. In my mind, I was trying to figure out how to actually squeeze in there and sling my arms around their waists like a normal person, but again, I was too nervous to actually say anything to them.
Then something kind of incredible happened.
Jared spun me around faster than I could blink. All of a sudden I was being wrapped in his arms, and I did manage to check with my husband that the pose I found myself in was okay because it wasn’t what we had agreed on, and then the camera flashed, Daulton shook Jared’s hand while we thanked them, and we were off!
Let me tell you, all of the nerves, all of the anxiety, all of the nausea and almost tears and dry mouth and shaking hands just disappeared for those few moments. I was a complete mess as soon as it was over, and I clearly remember trying not to cry in the hallway outside—a result of so many emotions finally being felt—as I waited for our picture to get printed, but if I had to describe this picture in one word? SAFE. It wasn’t the heart-throbbing, be with you forever, romantic feeling I get when my husband holds me like that. It was love, but it was more of a “You’re okay as you are, and I’m okay with who you are,” type of feeling. It was pure acceptance, regardless of my thoughts or beliefs. It was a calm that settled over me, and looking back, it was exactly what I needed so that I didn’t become that fan, you know, the screaming, crying mess that melts at the sight of her faves. I needed a hug, and I don’t know if Jared recognized that or was just trying to move the line along or what, but I’m grateful that he made the move he did, otherwise I’d probably still be standing there trying to remember how to speak.
I was stunned. I was exhausted. I was seconds away from falling apart, and one beautiful human made it all better. They say that you should never meet your heroes, but, with the exception of Briana Buckmaster, I did, and I was definitely not disappointed. The cast of Supernatural wasn’t what I expected—they were better. They are honest and caring and understanding. They are light in a dark world. They’re truly amazing people, and if you ever get the chance to meet them, take it. It’s worth the exhaustion and waiting and mishaps along the way. It’s worth it just to be there.
Remember to be nice to them. Our show has been around for a long time, but it won’t always, and these people could be spending their weekends at home with their families, but instead, they choose to spend it with us. Remember to be understanding. Misha was awake more than twenty-four hours and still chose to do his panel and sign autographs when he could have said no and waited until Sunday. Remember that these people are only human. They make mistakes and have opinions and don’t always do or say the right thing, but that’s okay. No one is perfect. Not you, not me, not even our favorite stars. The point is, love yourself and those around you because of your flaws. Draw strength from them and lean on each other when you can. It’s what makes us family, and as Chuck once said, isn’t that kinda the whole point?
So, let’s recap. So far, I’m living a dream. I’ve just been hugged by Dean Winchester, and Jared is minutes away from me. Not bad. Not bad at all.
As I exit the photo ops room, my mind goes blank. Like, there’s nothing there. Not one thought. Thankfully, the meet and greet room is next to the photo ops one, so I don’t risk getting lost and I don’t have to run, because, right this instant, I would have gotten lost in my own flat. I could still smell Jensen’s perfume on me (not a legend, friends, this man smells like sunny days and happiness) which definitely didn’t helped my brain from shifting focus back to what came up next, but eventually, following the process of the meet and greet admission set me back on tracks (very, very temporarily).
Meet and greets are sold through auctions. For Jared, Jensen and Misha (his basic meet and greet, because Misha also hosts an adventure one) it’s for twenty people, and when you win, you’re given an invoice with your name on it, and it gets validated on site with a photo ID. Once it’s done, you pick a number to define where you’re going to sit : there are two rows facing the actor.
Needless to say, I was shaking with my whole body when I handed out my ticket and my passport, which made the lady from Creation smile and pat my shoulder in a warm, caring way that did wonders to help me calm down. She checked that my phone was shut down, and then I entered the small room and dropped my bag on one table. The number I picked was 73, second row…But riiiiiiiiight in front of that one, scary, lonely seat. So, so close. Because of how the rows are placed, there’s virtually no one between you and him since the spaces between the front row seats are made that way.
I was still shaking, my breath was short and labored, and Jensen’s hug was already a distant memory because of how overwhelmed I was. At one second, I really thought I was gonna cry…And then one of my friends, Taylor, picked 74 and sat down right next to me. As far a luck goes, this is life-saving. She helped me calm down by her sole presence by my side. Inside of my brain, though, it was a goddamn circus. My thoughts were colliding with one another in a way that made it near impossible to communicate without sounding crazier than I am (arguable), and I was fighting pretty hard to try to get it back on tracks.
When the twenty seats were filled (and trust me, if on paper, twenty sounds like a lot of people, in a super small room, it is n-o-t-h-i-n-g), one lovely lady gave us AKF bracelets and pins (and I probably thanked her automatically but looked at her with an empty, omc-what-is-happening-to-me look), and we got pushed in the really, really, really, really, really, really disconcerting and mind-blowing last part before it actually started : waiting for « the actor » to arrive. This is on hell time : it lasts a few minutes tops, but it felt like it lasted decades. I tried to inhale and exhale long, deep breaths to control the impossibly strong feeling that was taking over me, but I mostly failed.
I kept on looking behind my shoulder to the door, just to know if…
I looked a first time.
Breathe, Axy, he’s not there yet.
Then a second time.
Breathe again, still no one.
A third time.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Just. Keep. Breathing.
Still no Jared, you can breathe.
And a sixth.
The common screams of a crowd that gets excited for some reasons was hard to ignore, and so, when I looked that last time, I knew that something was happening. Since Jensen was already next door, and Misha wouldn’t be there before another couple of hours, there weren’t that many doubts as to who could generate such reactions.
It didn’t miss, and I ceased to breathe for a couple dozens seconds, as my mind tried to register what was happening.
Jared. This. Is. Jared. Not any Jared. Our Jared.
My very, very first conscious thought wasn’t that big a surprise, but it was for how unbelievably gorgeous he is. When you’ve seen him on pictures only -- and Chuck knows this man is photogenic -- and all of a sudden, the real one is just in front of you, the difference is hard to believe. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to cover how handsome he is.
My second conscious thought (remember I’m still not breathing at this time) was how there’s something impossible to explain that just shines from him. I read on Twitter dozens of people saying he has a light…They’re still far from the truth. He’s nuclear. He’s nothing but pure energy, and he has this extraordinary ability to calm you down within seconds. All my anxiety was gone, and so was my stress. Even my breathing became regular back again. All the complicated emotions that goes with meeting someone you love that much just slipped away and disappeared. They never came back. From that moment on, spending time with Jared for photos or autographs was just…Simple. I don’t know how he did that, but that’s a superpower.
My third conscious thought was whether putting his beanie on, then taking it off, then on again, then off, and about 52 times on and off over the course of thirty minutes was a way to control his anxiety. It’s cute, indeed. No, okay, it’s really cute. And it made my heart melt.
Per Creation regulation, and because it allows the boys to remain free to talk about whatever they want to talk about with us on meet and greet, I can’t report to you what he told us. What I can tell you, however, is how it felt and how he is. And there’s no real suspense there : he is exactly, 100% how you expect him to be. He’s smart. He’s funny...No, he’s hilarious. He can switch from something funny to something more serious in one second, and back to another lighter topic immediately after. He’s authentic, and he’s honest. He won’t tell you something that you want to hear if it’s something he doesn’t believe in with his whole soul. He won’t pretend he is somebody else, either. And, despite the fact that he was exactly who I thought he’d be, he was a million times better anyway.
I did muster the courage to ask a Sam-related question…And faster than I thought. That’s proving how he just soothes the world around him, because before that, I didn’t thought I’d be brave enough to even try and raise my hand.
But I did. For less than two seconds because he caught it immediately.
Okay, Axy, here we go…
It lasted for a couple of minutes, but I’ll never forget how it felt and how, all of a sudden, the rest of the world ceased to exist. He looks at you, in the eyes, and you only. He is entirely focused not only on listening to what you are saying, but also to what you really mean and he insists on understanding exactly what you wanted to express before he even starts replying. Oh, and he smiles. A lot. It’s like he’s virtually taking your hand to lead you exactly to where you are trying to get. His stare never breaks. And if he has the opportunity to, he will joke with you -- which he did with me, about how good my English was compared to his French. When he gets to answer your question, he’s extremely careful about what and how he is replying so that it fits your question before elaborating if he feels the need to. Oh, and he always has a nice word for how you spend your time considering Sam’s existence outside of the show, and in my case, he told me it was a nice trail of thoughts I’d been following.
I didn’t had time to really implode afterwards (and Chuck knows I needed to), since every single question he’s asked, whether it’s a mundane, common one or something far more intricate and complicated, he’s making his answer interesting, or different than what you may have heard in the past during panels. Everything he says is borderline fascinating…And I’m not saying that because of who he is (…Okay, maybe), but he really is incredibly good at making things engaging and he’s a great storyteller. And fun...He has such a sense of humor, it shows everywhere. He is witty and he loves to just share things with us. And, not unlike a kid who wants to make people laugh, when it happens, you can see his light becoming even brighter. He takes every emotion in, in a way that is inspiring and amazing. Nothing, not a thing that has been said about this man’s generosity and beautiful soul is even remotely close to the truth. It’s because at this point, words are vain and empty compared to what he brings and how he gives relentlessly to us all, in a manner that doesn’t sound human because there’s no way someone can give that much and ask that little in return. And yet he does. His presence right next to me was the single best moment of my life, hands down. He killed the competition. I finally met my match, someone whose emotional vibration fed mine in all the right ways.
I expected those thirty minutes to fly insanely fast. They did not. Simply because he makes you fully grasp the importance of the moment, and there isn’t one lost second. Everything is filled with stories and laughters and reflection about the world and about himself and about us, and even on his way out, he kept on answering questions. Until the last second.
When he left the room, it was as if the oxygen got sucked out of the place immediately, and everything was dull for a minute or two.
I was barely out of that place when I fell into Jess’s arms to have a good cry, and confirmed to my fellow Sam girl Ellie that he was everything she hoped he’d be, and so much more, while still smiling through my tears. The overflow of emotions was too much to handle. Somehow, it was a million times better than anything I could possibly expect, and I was so damn proud of myself for asking that question.
Question that would change everything for the next two days.
And by everything…I mean everything.
On our way to get back to the venue to watch some of Richard, Rob and Matt’s panel, we picked up the prints of our pictures with Jensen. I can’t show them to you over here because I’m still waiting for Chris to send them to me, and there’s no way I’ll spoil his talent by showing you a subpar quality scan of my print, but this is one of the best pictures of myself I’ve ever seen. Jensen hugs me tight, and he smiles, and I feel like the Darling he kept calling me with. I look happy on those pictures, and Chris captured it in ways that aren’t explainable.
As we were laughing with R2M, being the usual goofballs they’re known to be, I tried to gather my thoughts about what just happened, but there was one thing, and one thing only I was focused on : I couldn’t wait to be with Jared again. Turns out, nuclear products are highly addictive. I wanted Jess to experiment how it feels to be next to him. And no, the stress never came back. Once the ice gets broken, it’s just flowing naturally.
I swear I probably jumped out of my seat in excitement and flew there when we got called for Jared photo ops, as if, all of a sudden, my body remembered the energy it got recharged with earlier on and started to actually use it. It felt amazing. I was unstoppable. I could have ran a marathon in the corridor of the NEC without even breaking a sweat (or feeling the usual limits of my recovering body that was still healing from surgery, but somehow, this completely escaped my brain for the first time in five months).
Remember when I left my room that morning, all I wanted was for « something » to happen. Anything of significance. In my book, it all happened during the meet and greet. Everything I didn’t even know I wanted and more. It makes for a very relaxing rest of the convention, since the thing you were looking for, well, you found it.
But that’s the great thing with Jared.
Even when you think you can’t possibly, humanly get more…
Never underestimate his capacity to overpass by a mile your wildest expectations.
Of course, the queue for the photo ops is, basically, a long, human chain of giggles. All you can see before and after you are happy faces of people loving the exact same thing as you do and who have been waiting for this day for a very, very long time. There’s no happier place in fandom history than this.
I don’t know how Creation manages their photo ops lines, but they’re always pretty fast, and yet, they’re never a blink-and-you-will-miss-it moment, unlike any other convention I’ve been in where queues are super slow and ops are fleeting. SUPERPOWERS I TELL YOU. But when it was about to be our turn, Jess was ahead of me, and I had two tickets, making the whole thing stranger because it meant that I had to find another pose than the coveted hug. Assuming I would survive being hugged by Jared.
Of course, he was nothing but adorable with Jess, who, at this point, had been told for an hour about how amazing he was and how much I loved him. As a Misha girl, she still had reasonable doubts about how biased I was. Their pose definitely doesn’t qualify as a hug, since he squeezed her like nothing I’ve ever seen before and for a second, I considered whether Jess would switch back to become a Jared girl too. She and I exchanged a smile before I walked to him, and…
…He called me « my French girl ».
And my mind exploded and imploded all at once. He…Remembered ? Me ? French girl ? His French girl ?
This happened exactly as I asked for a hug and then managed to wonderfully fail at explaining the prom pose because I was terribly concerned it would came out wrong and much, much dirtier than supposed to (« can you take me…From…Behind…Damn it »). Thankfully, since he’s A) very smart B) very aware of my French-ness and C) very good at deciphering in my mess of an English what I actually meant, it went a lot better than just me humiliating myself in proving that us French are naughty (technically not wrong, which I’d prove a thousand times over a couple of hours later).
And so I got hugged by Jared Padalecki.
Who once again killed the competition. There’s no point in even trying being hugged by anyone else, he’s unbeatable. He’s not just posing, he’s actually hugging you as if you were the most important person on the planet right this instant. It’s tight and warm and he smells amazing and my poor heart didn’t know whether to skip heartbeats or go twice faster so it did all at once.
Now the second picture that got taken is, and by far, my favorite moment ever. Prom pose. But also, the one photo op I bought minutes before going to surgery, when I didn’t even know if I’d make it through or live long enough to see him. I don’t know if he felt it, or if he sensed that my emotion was different beforehand, because while his head was right next to mine, he talked to me in French. In. French. With his adorable Texas accent and his self-confessed limited knowledge, but what I got made me feel the happier I’ve ever felt, and Chris, being the magician he is, successfully captured me at my happiest. I felt like something special happened in that picture…But I still had to wait until I got my print of it to understand whether I was right or not.
As I, erm, floated away from him, the French kept coming and he thanked me in my language. I smiled, he smiled back, and I nearly hit a wall.
We were an hour from Misha’s panel and Jess started to get really really nervous, since it was well over 1 p.m. and her favorite one was still nowhere in her direct vicinity. We sat down during the music videos (Do. Not. Miss. This) and I informed my closest kin (a group of friends on Whatsapp that I love like sisters) of what happened, and as I typed the words, the emotions started to overflow. I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden, I felt the luckiest, and that doesn’t happen that often. Not lucky as in « things I fought for », like being there that day. Lucky as in « things that I had no control over and that didn’t depend on me ». They were depending on him, on whether he’d acknowledge me, or even be as good as I’d hoped he would. Dozens of different factors could interfere in good and bad ways, and so, you are never guaranteed the connection. You’re given the moment. And I couldn’t believe that instead of the timid connection I’d been hoping for, I was given the equivalent of an optic fiber one : fast, reliable, reciprocal and strong. No one, in my history of relationships with idols and beloved public figures, had ever come even remotely close to a tenth of what this man has the capacity to give. But to be fair, no one can even beat how much of himself Jensen gives in photo ops either. They are from another world, and of another level entirely.
I did send a tweet to Stephen Amell, to inform him that his good friend from that other show stole his « best hugger » award and wouldn’t give it back ever again. My poor Stephen…You should ask him to teach you a thing or two, because Jared’s not messing with this whole hug business. He’s king, emperor, master and president of it all at once.
Jess escaped while I was trying to control my happy grin (nope, not gonna happen) and stop smiling to everyone (not gonna happen either) to pick up our prints of the pictures with Jared, as we were dangerously approaching Misha’s panel, and subsequently, J2’s immediately after.
For those who don’t know how Creation works, for Jared & Jensen, Misha, and J2M panel, you have the whole duration of the convention minus two hours before said panel to submit your name in the question draw box. I did put mine for each of those, like playing the lottery, kind of. I knew I wouldn’t get picked, but it was fun to try, and you get one fun little heart on your convention bracelet for when you enter each draw…Perks ! Taking a chance only raised my adrenalin to an unusual level, and it was worth it for this, and this only.
But you know the risk when you enter a draw…
You might win.
When Jess came back from the print table, she was nothing but a walking, talking smile. She handed me first the hug picture, and it came out as perfect as you can possibly get. I was beaming. Then she handed me the other picture, the one I thought, or hoped was different…And I had to wipe away the tears that filled my eyes and ravaged my face, because it didn’t came the way I thought it would.
It came out better.
So much better.
Once again, I can’t show you in order not to insult Chris’s work with a lower quality rendition, but I couldn’t look happier, and Jared is so close to me, so invested. It looks natural, as if he wasn’t my favorite human on the planet, but someone I’m actually close with. He looks like a friend. And that picture screams happiness the loudest it can. None of my flaws are of any importance anymore, I don’t even see them. As if posing next to him would, somehow, makes me prettier than I’ve ever been. Two weeks later, I must have looked at that picture a trillion times, and its magic never fades. It gets better each time.
By the time I accepted to drag my own self back from my world, Misha’s panel was starting, and the list of names picked to ask a question was showed on each side of the stage.
And my heart skipped yet another jump.
A lady called Axelle…
HOLY SHIT THAT’S ME.
What the hell is going on and what I am gonna ask and I have to run to the right side of the stage and hi, I’m question number 2…What do you mean you need my passport ? Oh right…Give me a second…I’m running back to my seat, while Misha is arriving on stage, I ask for Jess to hand me my passport, the whole row is getting it back to me, and I run back to the mic, IN FRONT OF MISHA FUCKING COLLINS THAT I AM NOW SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME AND THAT I GET TO ASK A QUESTION TO and then the lady validates my presence and the lady in front of me asks her question as I try to dig out something relevant and interesting to ask and my brain works slowly today what is going on I’m sure it’s Jared who kept a part of it with him OYE PADALECKI D’YOU MIND GIVING IT BACK JUST NOW BECAUSE I NEED TO REMEMBER WHAT QUESTION I WANTED TO ASK AND SO FAR I HAVE NOTHING ALSO IT IS NOT COOL TO STEAL FRAGMENTS OF PEOPLE’S MINDS AT LEAST YOU COULD ASK WE NEED TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THAT AND OMC MISHA IS ANSWERING THE QUESTION RIGHT BEFORE ME WHAT IS LIFE AND HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE THIS AND WOW HE LOOKS SO GOOD LIKE REALLY GOOD AND HIS EYES, THERE ARE TWO OF THEM AND THEY LOOK REALLY BLUE AND HOW AM I GOING TO…
Breathe, my friend. Breathe.
When you get picked to ask a question, everything happens extremely fast. First, you need to have a proper « We Are The Champion » moment to exorcise the unlikeliness of that epic, massive win. Then you MUST take your photo ID and your badge, unlike what I did. It was fun, though, to run just in front of Misha, who I was seeing for the first time in my life…Massive kudos to the row F from seat 53 to seat 40 on, for their help in getting my passport out to me in time. You guys are rockstars. This really underlines the extraordinary family feeling of the convention.
As Misha came back to the right side, after a few Avengers jokes, I started by saying that I was a big fan of…And he interrupted me and laughed « I thought you were gonna say of The Avengers » to which I nearly had a laughing fit from since I haven’t seen any of the Marvel movies. And I should have kept it for myself, but it is so easy to banter with Misha, so, I didn’t and he virtually threw me out of the venue for not being a fan. Then for some reasons, I had to apologize for President Macron to try and befriend Trump, and we both come to the conclusion that the only one who thought that Macron was his friend was Trump and that it was the initial plan of my president, and then we moved on to my actual question which is whether human Cas’s experience would be different today if he was in the bunker with Sam and Dean.
At this point, I’m pretty sure Misha was setting up a trap to see whether that French girl would take the bait, or just shyly walk away from any naughty assessment on our beloved angel. As Misha was pretty much saying that human Cas would, basically, be a nanny for the boys (which, in my humble opinion, proves how tough Misha is with Castiel because neither Sam nor Dean would ever consider him that way and they love him for way, way more reasons that his powers only) I started to have strange visions of Cas as a French maid coming to mind.
Of course, I wouldn’t share it with one of my all time favorite actors, and one of my all time favorite characters, would I ?
But it’s Misha.
So I said it. And the whole room laughed, Misha included, as he asked me whether it was beautiful or horrible, and I answered it was both.
Off that high, I couldn’t come down, since none of this was expected, and Misha was just like Jared : when you overcome the first « omc it’s Misha fucking Collins » moment, he takes the stress away and he’s just willing to play ball if you are. To the people who decided not to like Misha : your loss. This man is nothing short of amazing.
Of the rest of the panel, I have very few memories, beside that I laughed a lot, and that I was on a high so very high. I remember that the boys crashed it at the end, and messed around together, giving us a glimpse of the mess tomorrow’s panel would be (spoiler alert : nope, as funny as they were right there, nothing could ever prepare us to the M A D N E S S that the J2M panel would be…NOTHING).
And off we went for another hour of pure bliss with my boys. Being in the direct vicinity of them both seemed to re-activate my morning’s nuclear charge, as it was obvious that they both were in a great, playful mood. Once more, don’t ask me to name my favorite moment, because I can’t. That’s when panel videos are of a great help, since it’s impossible to keep all of those precious memories inside of your own hard disk. You can’t. So, let go of the panel ones, because they’re going to be relived on video later on, and focus on the personal, intimate ones you’re going to have during each moments you’ll get with them. I haven’t been able to re-watch any of the main panels yet, so, everything is still reasonably blurry. I do remember one thing, though…I laughed so much that I cried during most of the panel, and I couldn’t take my eyes away from this miracle. Witnessing their friendship was one of the greatest joys of my life, they can literally end each other’s sentences, and they are on the same wavelength. Being nearby J2 is something that’s just impossible to describe, just bathe in, and take their humor and their will to share as much as they could and their genuine happiness of being with us and their naughtiness and their obvious, blinding bond that seems to grow stronger right before our eyes.
Next to those couple of hours of pure, absolute happiness were Misha’s photo ops. That’s when I took some time to fully acknowledge the power in that day, and how it was literally like stringing joy beads one after the other. It’s nothing but dreams coming true every hour or so. As we were exiting the main venue to go to the photo ops room, I stopped to take a mental picture of that moment, right here, right now, with those people, with my family, in a place where happiness isn’t fake or pretend. All of those emotions are as real as you can get, and all of those moments were the best they could be. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow, or that something this good will happen ever again, and so, I closed my eyes for a second, and I breathed the air of that perfect day, and I gathered all of my memories to make the best mental image of what being happy means to me. That way, when hard days come, and coming they will, because that’s how life is, I’ll be able to hold onto that, and I’ll be able to use everything that has been given to me by those people I love so much to keep strong, whenever I’ll need it. Next time someone tries to belittle your need to go to a convention, just tell them that this one, ridiculous thing they are trying to take away from you might very well be the reason why you’re still alive today. The reason why you don’t stop fighting even when it gets harder instead of getting better. Keep in your mind that no one can take away from us what we’re getting, there. It’s making us better humans. It’s strengthening our bonds within our own chosen family. It’s inspiring us to pursue our dreams. It’s pushing us forward, and it never stops. It’s giving us big brothers and sisters that are so much more than just a bunch of super talented actors spending their precious time with us. They’re not joking when they say they care about us. They do. And I get it, if you’re not from that family, you’re not gonna understand or believe what we say is true. But we know what we have is real and rare and precious, and as I opened my eyes back again, and let go of a couple of tears as Jess was excitingly pushing me towards the photo op room, I grasped in its entirety the astounding beauty of our fandom.
Of course, and because of my…Hmm, performance during the panel, my relationship with Misha was bound to be warped from the get-go. So much for trying not to appear as the typical French coquine...I couldn’t shake a strange vision I had in my brain of Jared and Jensen joking with Misha about french maid Cas, and whether Jared would understand that, of course, it had to come from his own ranks. There was some sort of massive injustice in me inflicting that poor vision to the whole room…And being a Jared girl. As if, even during conventions, Misha was doomed to be hazed by everything that belongs to Jared. And so, to even things out, I profusely apologized to Misha when he hugged me for the picture, and he said it was all okay, and thanked me in French. In the end, the picture looks amazing, it almost feels like we’re about to Tango and it both amuses us endlessly. Of course, behind me, Jess’s mind was getting blown by how sweet and protective he would instantly become for her, as if he knew before they even had the time to speak about it how much of a light in the dark he was for her when she reached her own rock bottom. On her pictures, Misha has an expression that’s not the fun and light one he has with me, it’s more focused, more caring, too. Misha’s vibrations are not unlike Jared’s : they know how and why their presence is needed, and I can’t explain it. It’s about being empaths, but pushed to the outer limits of the concept.
Immediately after this photo op (we were barely out of the photo op venue for Misha that we started to queue for the next one), Jess and I spent one of the funniest moments on a picture that meant a lot for the both of us : Jared & Misha op. Not that we wouldn’t do the Jensen and Misha at a future convention, but this one has a strong meaning, it is our boys together. We also value Sam and Castiel’s friendship immensely, and so do we of Jared and Misha’s. There’s something vastly underrated in how those two work and just fuel one another with their craziness and will to go the extra mile for us all. And boy, did they deliver.
There was something pretty visceral in how this one happened. Jared immediately identified his French girl (two weeks later, I still have to pinch myself) and Misha had already registered that Jess was his, so, things were pretty clear as to who would end up with who right away. I don’t think Jared would have let me go with Misha anyway, and Misha certainly wouldn’t let Jess go with Jared either, so, we followed their rationale and avoided a diplomatic incident between France and the USA on UK territory. As we explained that we wanted the doomed prom pose that’s impossible to explain without sounding like a complete pervert (and please do notice that if for Misha at least, at this point of the afternoon, I was already fiercely defending the kinky reputation of my people, I was trying my goddamn best not to become Jared’s naughty French girl) Jared once again figured it out before I humiliated myself. While we were posing, for some reason, probably because when you get Misha and Jared in the same room instead of cancelling each other out, their energies get even wilder and crazier, Jared kept on messing with me and whispering French words in my ear, making my main task of looking focused near impossible to fulfill, while next to us, Jess and Misha were super calm and collected and super cute. I couldn’t stop laughing and it showed on the final result, making it yet another one of my favorite pictures of all time. Jess and Misha look like prom queen and king, while Jared and I are clearly the class clowns. This moment couldn’t have been any funnier if we tried. The four of us.
I expected that day to have peaked already, and yet, it would, eventually, being topped by one of the most mind blowing experience of my entire existence. And I’m well aware that at this point in my convention, being mind blown was becoming a lifestyle.
As we sat down in the main venue, waiting to be called for Misha, Jensen & Jared’s autographs, we had to revise and adapt our strategies regarding what to get signed and what to say to accompany it with. Initially, I wanted Jensen and Misha to sign on my special edition of Entertainment Weekly (the one I was white knuckling with fear on the plane), and Jared, of course, on his chapter from Family Don’t End With Blood. For Jensen and Misha, I changed my mind pretty quickly and decided to get them to sign on my pictures with them. It might not be the most original of all ideas, but it’s the most authentic, and the day couldn’t have been any more perfect, so, it made sense. Jared’s was still up in the air, as I was getting the opinion of my own private coven of badass sisters on Whatsapp, and it became abundantly clear that even if FDEWB was logical, nothing made more sense than getting him to sign on that infamous third photo op that turned out to be the best picture in a collection of perfect pictures, and tell the short and sweet version of a complicated and painful story that went with it.
I also had that thing that weighed a ton and had been weighing heavier and heavier as the day went by : Monster, my letter to Jared. Yes, I gave it a name and yes, a nasty one. It’s worth the struggle and the pain it caused me. Writing a letter to any public figure that has an importance for you sounds like the most common thing, and I’m sure he receives hundreds of those yearly, but from the point of view of the one who writes it, it’s one of the craziest and most intimate things to do, and among the most frustrating. Chances are that what you want to express will somehow suffer endless compromises and changes and you’ll have to settle for a sub-version. I know I did. Throughout eight months of tireless efforts, twelve versions, countless variations of each, and roughly a hundred thousand rejected words, I nearly gave up several times. And, to be perfectly honest, I had been sitting on previous majorly poor experiences with this process, as two people I deeply admired, some of which I still do, were on the receiving end of something similar and pretty much didn’t give a damn…So, my mindset has shifted. I’m not doing this to be noticed. I’m doing this to send a one-way message, and for that only. I didn’t even include so much as my twitter name, on the bottom. Nothing that could even remotely translate my online identity. I signed it with my name. My only aim was to make him know that he kept me sane and fighting when nothing else could. But it takes a lot more courage than I thought I had to, actually, hand it to him, and I was convinced I’d never get to cross that scary finish line. Regardless to how amazing and caring and lovely he was during the whole day, this remained something terrifying. So, whatever would happen during his autos would happen as a spur of the moment, and as my row was called to Jensen’s queue, I surrendered and decided to go with the flow and hope for the best possible outcome.
Jensen’s line went quicker than Jared’s did, and it’s, apparently, something common for most of the conventions. This should in no way indicate how he’s doing things, and it shouldn’t give you any impression that he’s…Less caring, or less invested. Jensen’s way of doing things is just different than Jared’s and Misha’s. In my opinion, he’s protecting himself, and he’s not exactly comfortable in being thrown right in the middle of an hour or two of people that are certainly willing to give, but hoping to receive too, sometimes more than he has the capacity to give. I feel like he’s afraid of not meeting the expectations, and it can make you feel like the connection takes longer to establish and requires more effort on your part. I’m glad I did try, though, because what I received was nothing short of amazing. When I arrived in front of him and he started to sign on our photo together, I told him that as a Dark Angel fan, I’d been waiting for this day for a very long time, and that I’d never loved him more than in Supernatural, and that’s about when the connection happened. He looked at me, smiled to me and thanked me. I then told him that he was doing a fantastic job and had us all terrified in advance about the season finale, and he paused, smiled to me with this little borderline vicious smirk of his and simply told me « oh, good ». I laughed (in shock), he laughed (in satisfaction), and he thanked me again.
Jensen Ackles : 1…Fandom : 0.
Immediately after, we went to Jared’s line, and it was considerably longer. All in all, we probably waited ten minutes for Jensen, and roughly half an hour for Jared. Which was both a good thing, since it gave me time to figure out what I wanted to say, and a bad one, since it gave me time to change my mind several times, and confuse me even more. I tried my damnedest not to look at him, as I got closer and closer and closer to him, because when I did, my heart did that funny thing when it goes faster, then stops, then fast, then stops, and on and on every time I had glimpses of his adorable smile, or his laugh that could very well be the official sound of pure joy. But, as I approached the end of the line, my soul reminded me of what I could do even when I thought I wasn’t strong enough, forced me to grab the dreaded envelope, and imposed that I give it to its rightful owner. I wasn’t stressed, not the way I was when I first met him anyway, but I was certainly feeling the pressure of wanting to do things the right way.
Three people before him.
I completely forgot what I wanted to say.
Two fans between Jared and I.
Damn it, my mind is getting blank once more.
One last person.
What’s my name, again…?
My fingers were clawing at the envelope so tightly, it’s a miracle they didn’t tear it apart.
Breathe, Axy. He’s going to do most of the job anyway.
And it didn’t miss. I was taking that one deep breath of « please, brain, don’t fuck this up », he immediately recognized me and smiled to me, in that wonderful, soothing way that really helped me get to the bottom of what I wanted to say. I handed him the envelope and told him it was eight months in the making and instantly, his lovely smile faded into a far more serious expression, just as if I’d entrusted him with something that required all of its undivided attention and care. At that exact second, I knew without a trace of a doubt that it would get read, and I realized instantly that fighting against all the odds was the right thing to to. He kept it with him during the whole moment. I then handed him that perfect, infamous third picture to get it signed, and he took all of his time to do it, as I quickly summed up my situation regarding that very picture, about how, as I fought through last year, it was the one thing I needed to send a clear message to my own fate, and as I was illustrating it by a fierce middle finger, he turned it into a high five as he told me that he was proud of me. All the way through, he did that disconcerting thing where the whole world stops existing, and he just focused on me and my story and nothing else. My heart was beating so fast inside of my chest, as I told him that I’d see him the following day and he told me he looked forward to it and was happy I was there. But, at this point, my brain had received so much more than it could take it almost shut down, as my poor trembling legs could barely carry me anymore and he was thanking me in French, once again.
I can’t really explain how it all felt, because…There aren’t words. And he does that with anyone who so much as tries giving him one second of their time and love. He doesn’t hold anything back. He goes above and beyond to make you feel like you truly matter. You are important and he’s not faking it or pretending otherwise. He just doesn’t lie with how meaningful we are, and how essential our presence is in his life. Next time you hear him say that he cares about us, please, take it first degree : he does, with his entire heart. I’m not surprised that sometimes, he has to take breaks and to recharge his batteries, but don’t you dare think it’s a sign of weakness. Because it’s the opposite. He radiates strength, but he is empowered by his own cracks and his own flaws. He doesn’t try to pretend that he’s perfect, and he doesn’t cheat.
It’s such an inspiration.
He’s such an inspiration.
Being with him is…Intoxicating. And the effects are lasting a lot, lot, lot longer than anything I’d thought. I’m still enjoying the remnants of his light today, two weeks later, and it doesn’t look that I’m about to run out of it anytime soon.
We got called for Misha’s autograph almost immediately after, and it was yet another super sweet moment. I was still trying to figure out what had just happened to me minutes before, so, it was a little bit confused inside of my head, but Misha remembered me as the French lady with the interesting mental images of Cas, and I simply apologized to him again, and told him that Twitter loved it and that I was sorry for that too. He just smiled, as he signed our picture together, and told me that Twitter didn’t needed us to go overboard anyway, and that I was forgiven. He then told me goodbye in French. I waited for Jess who had a lovely moment and an instant of pure connection with him about her own struggles and how Misha helped her the way Jared helped me, as he took and held tight her hand with both of his, and told her he was truly sorry she had to go through such a hard time. I was so, so happy she received from him the same way I received from Jared.
People shouldn’t feel compelled to hide their personal connections with either one of them (or several, if you’re lucky to !) behind their love of the three of them simply because some extreme fringes of the fandom makes you feel like you can’t love them all. I will always defend Team Free Will, as much as I’ll defend the relationship between Sam and Dean, between Dean and Cas, and between Sam and Cas, because they’re family and because they bring the best out of each other and they need each other to be balanced and to be, at least a little, happy. But, at the same time, I’ll never, ever again shy away from saying that I do have a preference, a clear one, and one that is getting clearer and clearer. As much as Misha claimed Jess, Jared claimed me and he’ll have me for as long as I’ll live. There are things you just don’t come back from. And from that day, I’ll never come back. It changed me forever.
As my friends and I happily took the skywalk back to the Resort World to get some dinner at Pizza Express, I was gobsmacked at how everyone received more than they bargained for. I had a glass of rosé, to help me brush off the emotions that were going to require a good cry later on, and the loveliest plate of pasta. As I looked at all those people who surrounded me, I realized that I was in love with my life. I loved what I was doing, how I was doing it, with whom, and I loved all my friends like a family.
Family. It was the theme of the evening.
A little tipsy, we walked back to the venue to witness our very first SNS, and the very first English one too. The general admission queue was monumental, all the way to the other side of the NEC. I hope Rob saw it, and that he had a pure rockstar moment and went on to throw his hotel room’s television in the bathtub to celebrate.
I was new to the SNS. I managed not to listen to any of the videos or audio recordings of the previous ones, and I escaped it all through months of unwavering will because I wanted to experience it live for the first time and to keep all of my emotions fresh. Which means that, no, I didn’t know how Jensen or Briana sings…And I’m glad I waited, because the surprise was even stronger.
I spent the concert crying. I cried because it was perfect. I cried because Rob was moved to tears. I cried because Louden Swain is so damn good. I cried because it’s mind blowing how multi-talented this whole team is. I cried because even Chris, king photographer and the closest you’ll ever get to the human version of photoshop, is so damn good a musician. I cried because Rich nails it too. I cried because Matt was so beautiful and strong. I cried because Briana is among the purest voices on earth and she has the aura of diva. I cried because Jensen fucking Ackles is a goddamn rockstar. I cried because Jason and Rob’s cover of Hallelujah is the best thing I’ve heard. I cried because Fare Thee Well destroyed me.
I cried because for the first time in my entire life, I knew what it meant to feel at home.
I cried because I understood the meaning of finding your true family.
I cried because I tasted a moment of eternity.
I cried because we were the happiest on the planet, right there. All of us.
I cried because on July 27th, 2017, I decided to give Supernatural a chance, and it changed my life for the better.
I cried because I love this fandom more than I love life. I cried because it bonded me with all of those people forever.
I cried because everything was, quite simply, as good as it can be. And it couldn’t possibly get better.
(To be continued)
Birmingham -- part 2
The stewardess was looking at me with a warm smile.
A really warm one. One that knows my fears are as ridiculous as it gets, but doesn’t really judge me any stupider for being pale and white knuckling the seat rest between my best friend and I. Ten minutes to take off. Jared must be very happy that Flybe doesn’t have internet on board or he’d have ended up with a colorful string of raging messages on twitter. It’s you who put me in this mess in the first place, you stupidly…Amazing..Tall…Thing.
On my lap, Entertainment Weekly’s collector number to celebrate twelve years of Supernatural. Having Sam and Dean’s faces right next to me probably forced my focus on them and how much I was currently loathing them for being the reasons that got me in this mess in the first place rather than concentrate on the plane picking up speed below a rainy sky packed with those dreaded, omg-is-it-normal-that-the-plane-shakes-that-much low clouds. But as we pierced the moody skies, once again, the deafening beauty of an ocean of azure silenced me and brought tears to my eyes.
I’m on my way to meet my boys, and right this instant, no one on earth is happier than I am.
The trip had been off to a relaxing start, prior to facing one of my worst fears. A quiet bus trip from my hometown to Nantes (because even though we have an airport, it’s more of a useless gadget than a hub to visit the world), a night in a peaceful hotel not far from the airport, a nice (and raisin-y…Because Misha is always here to troll us even when we’re thousands of miles away from him) dinner, and tons of dreamy looks and loving sighs at my countdown, now pointing at the last couple of dozens hours left. Relative calm before an anticipated major storm. Oh, how far from the truth was I…So, so very far.
Creation’s last email about the registration time on Tuesday evening made my poor little heart beat twice faster, thrice harder. I needed some time to finish a letter to Jared, one eight months in the making, and I as I wrote the final lines born of countless drafts, I simply embraced the magic in the air, the incredible sensation that, maybe, just maybe, the stars were aligning… At the train station earlier that day, someone blasted off Thunderstruck, and I stood there, for a minute, in silent awe at those signs that I simply couldn’t ignore anymore. Everywhere I looked, squirrels and mooses and angels. Everywhere.
Anyone remotely aware of how Creation works knows that Wednesday evening is schedule-time. That’s when they publish it on the website, allowing us to get enough time to sort our week end out. So I counted on it. I expected it. And when I woke up, super early on Wednesday morning, to a timeline gone insane with something about a J2M panel, I was still too sleepy to understand.
Then, as I did for the past three weeks, I opened the Birmingham page of Creation’s website.
And I felt as if I’d just swallowed a brick.
And I screamed.
And I woke my best friend up, shouting a dozen times in a language halfway through english and french something like « OH MY FUDGING CHUCK THE SCHEDULE IS LIIIIIIIIIIIIVE ».
I am pretty sure the whole six floors of the hotel woke up, too.
My heart was thumping inside of my chest as I downloaded the PDF. Jess sat on the edge of her bed, doing the exact same thing.
There were two main informations I was looking for, before everything else.
First, how would they manage two days of panels and whether we’d get the Hawaii miracle back again.
Second, when my meet and greet with Jared would be, since I was sort of concerned it would be first thing in the morning on Saturday, leaving me little to no time to adjust.
I then understood that the J2M panel everyone was freaking out about was ours. A full hour of naughtiness. Sixty minutes of those three. I was overjoyed.
I screamed again, just to make sure my hotel neighbors enjoyed that free snooze.
And then I found out about the meet and greet.
And my heart stopped.
And my breath became labored and painful for a couple of minutes.
A long, ice cold chill fell down my spine, my palms turned sweaty, and my voice became hoarse.
Saturday, 10.15 am.
Oh okay. We’re not gonna break the ice, we’re going to napalm it.
I sat on the edge of my bed, breathless. Emotions and ideas were dancing inside of my mind like drunk puppies, incoherent and a little scary. Everyone who knows me knows I value Team Free Will immensely, but also knows that I have a stronger, deeper, almost vital bond with Sam, and, by extension, with Jared. For a million and one reasons, none of which I can accurately explain or qualify. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you find solace in people, because they’re just bringing a form of peace to your own, private hurricane. Jared’s words, his soul, the way he is, his light, all of those things have made my life far easier to handle, even through my darkest hours. When the thought of spending half an hour with him became suddenly so, so real and factual, tears filled my eyes. Happy tears, mostly. But not solely. Scared tears, or even downright terrified, too. Meeting people who have that much importance in your existence is extremely disconcerting. It can go both ways. And I wasn’t sure that I was strong enough to handle being disappointed in any way. Because I’m realistic about my expectations, I couldn’t rule it out. Maybe I’d get the experience of a lifetime and we’d get the chance to keep on building on that bond. Maybe nothing would happen, and I’d just have to face that once more, I’ve devoted my time to people who aren’t the right fit for me. I knew the signs, and I knew all those strange, eerie things that kept on happening time and time and time again…But you’re never guaranteed of a happy result. It’s not on your ticket. You can’t get insured for this.
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.
So, mostly happy tears, but with traces of concerns. The impending flight over Nantes to Birmingham weighed on me heavily, as well, and as I left the hotel for the airport, terror and expectations were getting the best out of me.
Up in the sky, everything appears under a different light. A happier one. At least, it works with me. Maybe it’s because I am relieved that we didn’t crash or burn or exploded at take off…Or maybe it’s because there’s something powerful in being so high the world below barely exists anymore. As I was taking the time to understand how far I’d come over six short months, and how distant my bed in ICU seemed compared to how energetic and alive I was now feeling, the realization of how much Supernatural changed my life warmed my worried soul. How better life was on Supernatural’s side. How happy I felt, overall. Even in the bad times, they were still pretty good compared to not so long ago. Supernatural did that.
Before I even knew it, we approached Birmingham and started circling the airport, and I saw the outlines of the National Exhibition Center buildings, a collection of red and grey and massive blocks right by the airport. That’s another beat skipped, right there. I’m glad no cardiologist recorded my cardiac activity over those few days, or they would have been driven insane.
Before spending one last night in the city center to try and relax (spoiler alert : nope, not gonna happen), Jess and I had to detour to check the Hall 8 by ourselves.
And here it was. The massive « SUPERNATURAL CONVENTION » above the doors.
It is real.
It is happening.
It is there.
We are here.
It took all the restrain in the world not to scream my head off…And end up detained by security for having an emotional breakdown.
The last 24 hours before the pre-registration were eerie. Signs were everywhere. I tried to force my brain into understanding that I was a few hours from people off my favorite TV show ever, and a few more before being with Castiel, Dean and my beloved Sam. It didn’t take. Every time my eyes landed on their pretty faces, it felt like someone was ice-bucketing me. Strange. I was very reflective, that last night before the beginning of the actual celebrations, as per usual. The view of my hotel room in Birmingham was plunging on to the whole city, and I spent a good portion of my non-sleep just watching the world existing below me.
Could they feel how happy I was ?
Would they know the feeling ?
Could they taste the pure, unadulterated joy of what I was about to live ?
Would they even acknowledge it ?
Thursday, May 3rd 2018.
I woke up like a rocket. Not enough sleep, way too much energy. The short train journey back to the NEC area was already packed with plaid shirts and anti-possessions signs. Hard not to smile at each and every one of those friends we’re going to spend the week end with. On a scale of one to ten, the excitement reached a solid twelve already.
The size of our hotel room at the beautiful Crowne Plaza was…Ridiculous. THERE WAS A SOFA IN THE ROOM. A SOFA. WHO GETS HOTEL ROOMS WITH SOFAS IN IT ? Apparently we did. I had a hard time reminding myself that I am a grown up, an adult, and that jumping on the bed OR THE SOFA is something that, in my case, could very well result in stupid injuries. In the end, I trumped my sudden childishness with a super fancy late brunch at Valerie.
Registration in three hours. Convention starts in twenty. Misha has been seen in London.
This is happening.
Oh my chuck, this is happening.
As far as convention registration experiences goes, they were always pretty hectic and nightmarish in my memories. Long, badly organized, with the feeling of being a goddamn sheep in the middle of a herd of wolves. I was a little anxious about this one. And fully expecting to wait and queue for ages before I got my badge and wristband. At least an hour.
Ten frickin minutes. TEN MINUTES. The epitome of Team Work : one Creation lady took my PDF, another one gave my my badge, a third one tied the lovely silver wristband around my wrist and a fourth one cut the extra material that was dangling from my arm. And then a fifth smiling lady pointed me at the inside of the venue to change my photo ops PDFs into sweet little colorful tickets. Which then take a grand total of seven minutes. OKAY, GUYS, THAT IS IT, CREATION KILLED THE COMPETITION.
The vendor’s room gave a good view on a fairly big portion of the main hall, and it looked exactly like what I’d seen so many times on videos and pictures. The only difference was that it was mine, this time.
Yup, I cried. A little. One tear. For the sake of it.
I then met some of my internet friends.
They became sisters.
We had a mozzarella string fight.
Life was good.
Life was about to get a whole lot better.
Friday, May 4th 2018.
Before life got better, it got worse. We had a live-viewing party of Beat The Devil in my hotel room at 8 am. Need I remind you who’s my favorite Supernatural character ? YEAH, HIM. I was crushed. Destroyed. In tears. I still can’t rewatch that episode to this day. It was haunting. But at the same time, it made me really super happy it was that very week, because that meant that the mood with Jared would be extra special in regard of what happened to Sam. (Spoiler alert : I was right). But for a long, long, long time afterwards, I was still reeling from the nightmare and the pain. When I took my shower that morning, for the first time ever, I had a twenty minute uninterrupted cry for a fictional character THAT CAME BACK IN THE SAME EPISODE. Sam Winchester will be the end of me, I tell you.
The walk to the NEC was pretty short and lovely. The shy sun was warm enough to make it enjoyable, but most of us were still dealing with the consequences of the episode. My first convention watch party was one for the books !
Entering the venue for the first time was as magical as it sounds, and so was the smile of the guards who let me in after checking my wristband and badge. It felt like I was part of a special team who was granted an access to heaven. Everyone around me was as excited and happy as I was, and it felt strangely…Familiar. Everywhere I looked, everyone I met was joyful and kind and warm and welcoming. Wow. I found and joined my home for three days : seat 52, row F. And as I sat down, I was blown away by how close to the stage I was. I hoped for something like that, but it was really ridiculously close. Really, really, really close. I was bursting with joy and excitement. Bring it on, Birmingham, you look mighty fine.
When Richard and Rob INVADED the stage with enough energy to lit up New York for a year, I was wild with excitement and joy.
It never faded away.
If anything, it grew bigger and better.
My first day was a day to find my marks and get acquainted with how the convention works, mainly panels for a good portion of the day, and then a photo op with Alex later in the afternoon, followed by autographs with Alex, Jake, Richard and Matt in the early evening. But, despite it being my « slowest » day, I devoured it and enjoyed every second thoroughly. I loved it from the instant I saw the Louden Swain boys arriving on stage before Rich and Rob.
First, lady Buckmaster. My girl crush. She is amazing in every single possible way. She’s charming and fun and irreverent and honest and beautiful. I won’t bore you with details about what she said, youtube will do it better than I will. But you can not resist her. She’s a pile of pure energy and she can’t be tamed and I couldn’t love her more.
Then, Jake. Ahhhh, I have a thing for Jake. Regardless to the number of episodes he’s been in, he’s 100% invested in the fandom when he’s onstage and he’s such a good client. Everyone of his bonkers theories about Adam cracked me up, and creating Strip Scrabble and defining the rules with us was pure genius. I cried my eyes out in laughters. The man is unbelievably creative and hilarious. I now need space bears in Supernatural, and I want Adam to fight off people with his bare hands and get hit by a bus the second the Winchesters will see him. I want all of this to happen. Also, Rob and Jake mimicking a game of strip Scrabble got me choking on my own laugh. Smuggling drugs in Rob’s body cavities, too.
A lot has been said about Matt Cohen, but still, I was thoroughly surprised at the beauty of his soul. He’s just glowing. He loves us, and he loves life, and he loves being here, and he loves everything about everything, and he’s such an inspiration. He is pretty inside and out. And he’s my favorite incarnation of John Winchester. Sorry, JDM. No hard feelings.
You know the middle-session activities, such as costume contest (« somebody’s gonna die ») or video contest ? Do not underestimate their importance. Because they will become a beautiful part of your experience, and they may shift and change your love of the show for something even deeper. As they were playing those marvelous videos, I got reminded of everything I adore about Supernatural, and I also got reminded that I was hours away from Jensen, Misha…and Jared. I teared up, just embracing the beauty of the moment. Remembering all the emotions I went through, good and bad, happy and sad, with the show, and the dozens of reasons why Supernatural is my show and will forever be. If you can, don’t skip this. It’ll make your heart beats faster and your soul glow brighter.
Alex’s panel was joyful. He’s really warming up to our presence, and he’s getting funnier and funnier by the convention. He’s taking it all in, and it’s beautiful to witness the little shy newest addition to the family slowly spreading his wings and learning to love those moments. He’s getting there, and it’s an honor to see him grow up in the fandom. We’ve been called perverts. Fair enough. We are ! But we’ve also been called great and sweet, and all of those things were true. All in all, Alex is one of my all time favorite additions to Supernatural. He’s just fitting in it all perfectly well.
By the time Alex was done, our photo op with him was about to start. The photo op room was right next to the main venue, like really, really, really close to it. I was used to run from one side to the opposite one in all the conventions I did, so, it was a welcomed change. And queuing was ridiculously easy and practical. They just know how to manage it. The lady who gave us informations about what was going on was so damn kind and super fun.
If you’ve never done any photo ops before, it’s pretty much the same system everywhere. When you get in, you drop your bags and jackets (and your badge because it doesn’t look too great on the pictures), then someone checks your tickets, and then you are five people from posing right next to Alex. Jack ! Nougat boy ! Although I have to say, he doesn’t look like Jack at all with his scruffy beard and leather jacket. He looks like Alex ! And he’s a sweetheart. He is nice and kind and he just loves to be there. It was such a great experience. Also, Chris Schmelke. Creation’s very own photographer. DUDE IS A ROCKSTAR. HE HAS A MAGICAL TOUCH AND SUCH A TALENT. I didn’t know how back then, but when my pictures got printed, I suddenly understood.
I’ve always had body image issues. I was a chubby kid, I’ve had weight variations, stress eating was my thing a while ago, and I never, not once, loved my face on a picture. Any picture. Even conventions pictures. I always look bad, or really bad, or downright monstrous. I have lost a third of my weight last year, partly because I was sick, partly because of depression, so my relation to my own image has changed, but still, I dislike myself heavily on pictures.
When I picked my picture with Alex, I was concerned I’d look terrible. I carefully and slowly looked at it.
And my mind got blown.
I look good. I look nice. I have flaws but they’re pretty flaws. They’re happy flaws.
Chris makes you beautiful. He really does. That reassured me for the big, big photo ops to come across the week end, even if, let’s be honest, posing next to Adonis & co would certainly be another task entirely…(spoiler alert : nope).
Then we moved on to autographs.
And things got suddenly beautifully personal.
First : sir Richard Speight. Don’t care that the queen hasn’t made him a lord yet, I did. Well, he’s amazing. Since he was the very first actor I really chat up with, he’ll always have a special place in my heart.
As I was expecting to not be able to talk, my mind overtook the reins. We exchanged a smile as I explained to him that I love his work as a director, and want him as show runner for the next seasons because I love his vision and his intelligence and how beautifully he understands the characters and the story. He smiled to me and thanked me several times, and told me it meant a lot to him and that it was nice to have such feedback from us. I thanked him again as he signed my Season 5 boxset cover, and he thanked me again. I was overjoyed, and it felt so light and natural…I was so happy I could share that moment with him.
Then I moved onto Matt’s line. And he and I geeked about Disney songs. Nothing significant happened, we just talked about Disney but that precious little moment meant a lot to me. It was just light and fun and happy. He, too, signed on my boxset cover.
Jake was the easiest one to chat with. I just told him I gave him the award of the funniest panel of the day, and he laughed and told me he was at our service and he was glad we loved it, and that we were good sports. And he signed right next to Richard and Matt, as I was trying to gather my emotions. I was thrilled, and happy, and I felt at…Home. It wasn’t hard, talking with any of them. It was very natural, as if I’d knew them my whole life.
I genuinely thought it would change with Jared and Jensen and Misha the following day, and braced myself for it in advance (spoiler alert : it didn’t).
Then I was on my way to get my print of Jack signed by Alex, and we had a really sweet moment. I simply told him I loved his character and I wanted him on Supernatural until season 32. He laughed, then looked at me and told me « on Supernatural until retirement ? Deal ». He just looked happy that we were happy, and we were happy that he was. My only regret ? His gold sharpie took AGES to dry off. But he wrote my name in a little heart. And as vain as it sounds, it meant the world to me.
When I met my friends outside of Hall 8 after that perfect day to get some cheeky Nando’s at the Resort World, I was in the middle of a storm of emotions.
Happy, because all those people were worth of my time and money beyond belief.
Recharged, because their energy fed me all through the day.
Relieved, because they all seemed to understand me and my brain was managing it all pretty well.
Joyful, because this place was everything I wanted it to be.
Scared, because I was hours from Jensen and Misha.
Terrified, because I was about to meet Jared.
And I needed them to be just like those I just met.
Spoiler alert : they weren’t.
They were better.
I skipped Karaoke that night, because I was too tired and about to have a big, big day.
Surprisingly enough, I fell asleep really quickly, overcoming the stress and anxiety. All my concerns were now entirely related to the meet and greet.
What if…What if he wasn’t what I thought he was ?
What if he wasn’t what I wanted him to be ?
What if I wasn’t what he wanted me to be ?
Exhaustion got the best of me. I simply woke up in the middle of the night for a couple of minutes, only to find that Jared posted his « Dark Sith » picture for May the 4th.
You lovely, adorable nerd.
Funnily enough, I didn’t bought that he could be a dark lord back then.
I was about to discover that Jared Padalecki is, actually, the incarnation of light in its purest form.
I chuckled, though.
And thought « well, see you tomorrow ».
My brain imploded in joy.
And fell asleep back again.
Which was a miracle.
Dreamless, heavy sleep.
Turns out, when dreams do come true, even your unconscious dries out of better versions than the truth.
The stars aligned, that night. They didn’t left a note to inform me they did, but something magical was in the air.
Saturday, May 5th 2018
I woke up as the timid rays of sunshine were piercing through the curtains. That, or the blinding red light from the Resort World…Can’t remember. Everything was super strange, that morning. A bit like floating on a cloud that’s quite unstable and constantly going from joy to fear and from happiness to terror.
For the first time in my whole entire life, I used an unholy quantity of make up to try and look decent. Not for them, but for me, to try looking not too horrible in those pictures I’d been buying left and right for months now. Trust me, I’m the anti-woman. I’m a walking, talking nightmare. The awkward friend who ends up with stains or holes in her clothes or lipstick in her teeth…Yeah, that’s me. So to try and look pretty was a great, great change for me. Why would I use green paste on my face ? To cover the redness. And that light peach thing ? To cover the bags under my eyes. And who knew you could put three different creams on your face at the same time ? And that eye shadow powder could get everywhere but on your eyes ? WHO IS SUPPOSED TO TEACH US THAT ? Youtube, I know.
Thankfully, I had bought a nice red dress earlier on, one that made me realize that I dropped six to eight sizes, and that I could feel a *little* confident with my body. Once again, it’s nothing but trying to feel good to help me try and convey my words to three of the most important people of my life. Looking decent was a bonus. Somehow, when I left the room, I felt…Eh, not bad.
Terrified, but not bad.
As I closed my room’s door behind me, my badge around my neck, a handful of photo ops tickets in my bag, I did had a scary thought.
I need something special to happen. I need it.
I don’t usually have any expectations of things I have been waiting for a long time, because it avoids being let down. I hated myself for not following my own advice.
Breakfast was…A mess. I went for the eggs (not Rob) Benedict, and probably ate a tenth of my plate because there was a knot inside of my stomach.
My morning was a bit busy and a lot impressive.
10 am, pictures with Sir Ackles.
10.15 am, meet and greet with Sir Padalecki.
12 am, photo ops part 1 with Sir Padalecki.
All in all, a whole lotta Winchester.
Who knew that eggs (not Rob) Benedict could get so funny when your nervous wrist makes a wrong movement in trying to cut through them ? The liquid yolk splashed the whole table, Supernatural-style. I laughed like a madwoman. The stress ran away with the egg. It came back pretty quickly.
Half an hour until Jensen, 45 minutes until Jared. The knot in my belly became a fully-fledged hedgehog, my hands were shaking, and my brain was turning into mush. My friend-turned-sister Taylor couldn’t stop laughing at me.
We walked to the photo op room, and got placed into a priority queue since we were having the meet and greet with Jared immediately afterwards. And so we line up in the little room, and waited for Jensen to arrive.
It was a few minutes, tops, but it felt like forever.
We then heard a noise in the corridor, like a crowd getting excited all of a sudden.
Oh my chuck. Jensen’s arriving
A minute later, an impossibly gorgeous guy walked into the room, shades on, waved everyone hello, joked with creation staff and messed around with Chris, before standing in front of Chris and saying a happy « Let’s do this » while looking at us all.
AND THEN MY MIND EXPLODED.
DEAN FUCKING WINCHESTER.
Yeah, I had a moment. I couldn’t believe it.
My turn arrived quicker than I thought.
Go ahead, Axy, it’s just Jensen fucking Ackles, no big deal, right ? Right ? RIGHT ?
When I joined him and shyly asked for a squishy hug, he replied « of course, darling » and I, hum, died ? I then said something non-english that sounded like « I’m so happy you are here and I love you so much » which he perfectly understood, because he smiled to me and thanked me again and called me darling again and I seriously considered googling how to change my name from Axy to Darling forever. It was short, but oh, so sweet. Jensen is so kind and adorable. And his smile is among the prettiest things you can possibly witness, ever.
I was still in the ecstasy of the moment and grabbed back my stuff when my mind went completely blank.
Hello, Axy. Remember what is happening now ?
You and Jared are about to spend half an hour together.
(to be continued)
There are some moments in my life when I wish I could go back in time to have a little chat with myself. Not necessarily to warn me of future mistakes, but rather to warn me of future revolutions, both in the world and in myself. Prepare who I was for who I’m becoming, in a way. It’s a strange idea, but imagine if you could do it…What would it change ?
Lately, I have the persistent image of my first convention that pops back in my mind. Two years ago, it was an Arrow-verse event (yes, Stephen Amell is even prettier in real life and his hugs are AMAZING…And about to get a run for their money, I suspect). It was at Birmingham, at the exact same area where SPNUK is going to take place, so I suppose that plays its part into my strange doppelgänger fantasy. What I wish I could tell my old self ? To be patient. Because the relationship I had with every show I’ve ever loved is nothing compared to my relationship with Supernatural. And back then, she could have done with that information. Don’t get me wrong, my two first experiences with conventions (City Of Heroes 2 & Walker Stalker London 2017) were mind blowing. But as with everything, what Supernatural does, it does better, bolder, bigger and smarter than anything else. And five days away from the convention, I can feel the stars aligning. It’s both scary and exhilarating.
Supernatural is my evidence. As a life-long fan of TV shows, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect show, the one that just echoes who I am and that meets both my storytelling expectations and feed my obsessions. My theory is that you can get soulmates out of fictional material, be it books, movies, shows, or any other form of narration : sometimes, you find something that resonates with your soul. If you’re lucky, it happens more than once. I embraced this strange quest when I was eight years old and my dad introduced me to The X-Files. Yup, I was freaked…And I fell head first into it, and into the world of TV shows in general. 25 years later, and countless shows, I’ve liked a lot, loved some, adored a few.
And then Supernatural found me when I was struggling with keeping myself alive last year. When you’re (very, very, veeeery) late to the party, it feels like it’s been here forever (technically not wrong), which made it a little strange when I found myself falling the hardest I’ve ever fell for it. I fell for the Winchesters, I fell for the narration, for the mythology, for the capacity it has to make me laugh and cry like nothing before…I fell for Sam. By the time I reached season two, I knew Supernatural was going to take an immense importance in my life. At the end of season 5, I suspected I found what I’d been looking for all this long. By the time I reached Sacrifice, and was silenced by an emotion that was so much bigger than me, I understood that my soulmate-show theory was right, and that I’d just found mine. This show put me back on track and gathered the fragments of myself that had been scattered around over the past few years, and with a patience that can only be heavenly, it fixed me. Sam became a vector of recovery, and in the same light, Jared made me understand things about my broken mind that no one ever had the patience to explain to me, not as clearly and efficiently as he did.
The question of attending a Supernatural convention was never really one. It became as big an evidence as the show is for me, the only question was where, when and how. Strangely enough, I booked VanCon 2018 right about when Creation announced it was exporting its format to the land of Shakespeare. So, basically, I booked two conventions within a month. I’m not wealthy, and it took quite a few financial sacrifices, but at the end of the day, it was not a choice, it was essential, visceral…Evident, once again. My mental health was in top shape, better than it’s been in forever, and launching a double countdown was the most exciting of all things.
You know how life works, right ? It’s never white or black…It’s black AND white. Days after buying my gold ticket for SPNUK, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening abdominal tumor the size of a soccer ball. Updating my countdown daily turned into an act of self-harm, because no one knew whether I’d be living long enough to see it happen, and an act of rebellion at the same time, because there was no way I wouldn’t. The irony of a year started with a struggle not to end my life and ending it with a struggle to keep myself alive at all costs escaped me, but I was ready to bargain in order to get to see Birmingham again. I was ready to give up on anything else, Vancouver included, if it gave me enough time to get to live it once and once only. Back then, the reasonable prognosis was that an aggressive from of cancer was taking control of me, one we’d know more about after surgery only, if I survived it. That fear can’t be explained. It eats away your whole self, and leave little to no space for any other thought. But I wasn’t done rebelling against it anyway, and ten minutes before surgery, I was buying yet-another photo op with Jared. That was a middle finger pointed at my own fate. Oh, I made it through, and I passed with flying colors. I needed to prove to myself that I was a lot stronger than I thought I was, and I pushed myself to shorten my ICU stay, reduce my painkillers intake, diminish the number of medical help I required to a bare minimal. In the end, I was just 2017’s medical freak, but the monstrous tumor wasn’t malign. 2018, your ass belongs to me.
Because I was barely out of the hospital, my Christmas & New Year’s celebrations were, basically, canceled, which, all in all, wasn’t such a bad news, since all the money I didn’t spent in food and alcohol and gifts, I put into my convention fund. Photo ops tickets started to pile on my email box, as we reached the below hundred days left mark. I get to know new people who became friends, and soon enough, we became a whole group of nervous and excited fangirls. Friendship is such a beautiful part of this fandom. Sisterhood.
Then I booked my flight to Birmingham, and even if I’m terrified of flying, Dean-style, it doesn’t really bother me (ugh, LIE) because, for once, the journey doesn’t matter but the destination does. The things this show makes me do…
When I got sick, I promised to myself that if I made it through, I’d get myself a meet and greet with Jared. Oh, I did…And I really thought I was going to lose my mind with the vicious auction system. In the end, it’s a relatively fair process, but there’s nothing relaxing about it. I even thought I lost it at the last second…Right before I received Jane’s congratulations. What it actually means is still alien to me, as my mind refuses to comprehend what spending half an hour with Jared Padalecki represents. When I try to picture it, all I reach is a 404 not found page.
I’m leaving in two days, take my flight in three, and in four, it’s pre-registration day. My head is currently filled with emotions I can’t really explain, but they all have a strong aftertaste of happiness.
So, if I could speak to the Axy of two years ago, I’d tell her that she shouldn’t worry. The Winchesters, angel included, are looking after her, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Good days are coming, and they’re worth fighting for.
(To be continued…)
March 23 to 25, 2018
My week leading up to the con wasn’t all that exciting, I was having a really hard time getting excited about it. I was neck deep in schoolwork, and was also neck deep in anxiety, because sometimes I just get that way. Working three jobs, and going to university doesn’t leave a lot of free time to get excited about things, in all honesty the con was the farthest thing from my mind. I started packing Thursday night, and finished on Friday morning before heading to school. Thankfully my class got out early as if I had to stay the whole time I would not have made registration and I would have missed my autos with Lisa, David, and Adam, and karaoke. Now before we get going into the good stuff, I feel its important to mention that I have anxiety, quite a bit of it. My anxieties are mostly driving, large crowds, talking with people I don’t know, needlessly spending money, and having my picture taken. So a convention is literally my actual hell.
Friday morning finally got to packing, worked on my paper, then headed to school for 1pm. Got to the con around 5pm met up with my friend found our seats, which are the same row, but opposite ends of the room funnily enough. I was 50 she was 2. We waited what felt like forever for our autos from Lisa, Adam and David, I left my bestiary in the car (as I had earlier left my tickets in the car, I was super organized that day) so I had to get them to sign the back of my silver pass, I realized in the time we had waited I could have gone and got something, but now it was too late. I apologized profusely of course for being so disorganized. They were all very sweet, and I got a wink from Adam, which my friend said she could have felt from a mile away. We hung out for some the karaoke, which was amazing, the guy who sang bad romance and the woman who sang I wanna dance with somebody were absolutely amazing! The crowd was super lively and the cast was great, we didn’t stay for the whole thing as we were both tired, and knew we had a big day tomorrow.
Saturday morning I woke up at 4am ahh work schedule, but managed to force myself to sleep more until I finally got up around 7, got ready and worked on my paper (whoo exciting) we planned on heading in early to see the Kim, Lisa and Ruth panel. We got stuck in traffic on the way to the hotel, after a false start as I had left my Misha op ticket at her house. I had to practically run to my Misha op. (why did he have to be my first!) Okay, so you know that episode in friends where Chandler and Monica are trying to take photos for their wedding announcement, and Chandler cant take a nice picture? Ya that’s me. so I get up to take the photo quick hi how are you to Misha, photo taken, I start to move away, Misha hadn’t removed his had from my back before I was being waved back by the photographer to go again, we take another one, I walk/run away, and am stopped and told I’m going to back in line cause I must have blinked or something, so go up again, and apologize to Misha for being there again, and tell him about how I’m Chandler and cant take a nice photo, he laughs and says he doesn’t believe that, to which I reply this is our third try, he laughs again we take the picture and I walk/run away again. My friend found this whole adventure quite funny, we then got some food and went to watch the Rob, Rich and Matt panel. Rob is actual sunshine, for real he is the human version of sunshine. My friend decided we need a Rob and Rich photo op, we decided we needed to go with funny faces, because of my Misha debacle earlier. I think Rob could tell I was a bit nervous because he was rubbing my back through the hellos, and through the photo being taken. I reiterate he is actual human sunshine. That picture turned out amazing and I absolutely love it. We watched Misha's panel (now I need to add here that in writing my notes the next morning I was still so absorbed in how sweet Rob had been in the op, and then how amazing Louden Swain was that in my notes I wrote “we watched something else” only later to realize it was Misha’s panel. Rob managed to completely erase Misha from my mind, which is huge because Castiel is my favorite character, and Misha is an amazing person, and really the only one I truly cared about meeting, and Rob human sunshine Benedict got me to forget that) ok back on track. After MISHA’S PANEL they mentioned that Adam photo ops had been added, both Kat and I had realized the day before what a sweet guy he is so we quickly grabbed an op and ran down, again deciding on something where I can have my eyes closed as to not ruin more pictures. One of the volunteers recognized me from my awful Misha pictures, and was telling me how she saw the two really bad ones and panicked that she needed to find me in order to get a redo. But she then found the good(ish) one and made sure to put them all together for me, we chatted a bit in line, and I told her I had figured out my weakness, and how to work around it. She was very sweet, and we ended up chatting with her a bit through the rest of the con. Also every volunteer we encounter was very sweet, and helpful. Our Adam op turned out great, and we hung out for a bit waiting for the Saturday night special to start, we spoke with a couple con newbies like me in the line, again every we had interacted with so far was very sweet. The concert was amazing! Lisa berry blew me away, they need to keep her, keep her on the show and keep her coming to cons! And of course again Rob is actual sunshine and amazing.
So many things happened on Sunday, first we watched the trivia, we got see “Mary” the impala that was parked out front of the hotel. The minimum bid auction was nuts, people were going crazy for the posters. We caught a bit of Mark’s panel, and watched Ruth’s, she is so sweet and funny. Alaina made an appearance, which was pretty great. I loved that everyone was giving Lisa Berry so much for yesterday and last night. Rob and Rich were amazing as always. Then Jared and Jensen came out, they are surprisingly less scary in person than I had imaged, their panel was great they are so funny, Jared trying to get laughs was amazing, and Jensen always getting laughs was better. They really work well together and compliment each other, the hour really flew by. The auction for the sweater was crazy, Rob forgetting how numbers work, Jensen modeling the sweater, the energy in the room was incredible, I’m constantly surprised at how giving not only the cast but the fans are.
We had to go down for a J2M op, I was again worried about ruining the photo with my Chandler face. We were next in line, and they asked if we could hold off for a second while Jensen took a photo with someone, so then walking in, I ended up just standing their with Jensen for a second, and I panicked thinking “oh god he is going to try to talk to me” but we just awkward introvert nodded at each other and looked for the others to walk up, our op went great, I forgot what to do with my hands as I was focused on keeping my eyes open, and we didn’t squish Misha as much as we had hoped but it was still good, I again walk/ran away. We then watched the Rob and Rich panel, have I mentioned recently that Rob is actual sunshine, and quickly became one of my favorite people. (my friend thoroughly enjoyed watching me fall head over heals for the guy) Rob and Rich are hilarious, and so good together. We then went and picked up our photo, which turned out great, I kept my eyes open! We both look happy! I then got attack hugged by another attendee because of my Slipknot shirt. We chatted with the two of them for quite a while, ended up that myself and the girl who hugged me work for the same company in Canada. (Vancouver specifically) I finally talked to my seat mates, they were really sweet, and it turns out we don’t live that far from each other Kat and I then sat over at her side of the room, and chatted with more people, everyone was really friendly the whole weekend. I got a Rob autograph, and I told him about how I was so excited about how sweet and amazing he was the day before, than in keeping notes for this I forgot that Misha existed, he smiled and laughed, and asked really? And I told him yup he completely wiped Misha from my brain, and he said that was a big complement and it was really sweet. A few minutes later the Misha autographs were called, when I walked up to the table Misha looked up at me and said “it was so nice taking so many pictures with you yesterday” to which I excitedly pointed at the photo we had just taken with J2M and said “I learned how to control my face!” Misha (and a couple people in line) laughed. As I was moving my hand away Misha asked what my tattoo is, so I held out my arm for him to read as I always do when people ask, then as I always do I started reading it to him. (this is what my tattoo says)
“Listen to the Mustn’ts child
listen to the don’ts,
listen to the shouldn’t’s
the impossibles, the wont’s
listen to the never haves
then listen close to me
anything can happen child
anything can be”
At about the last two lines I realized that I was reciting my favorite poem to Misha bloody Collins, while we just looked at each other. I told him its Shel Silverstien, and he said that he loves him, I then thanked him for the blackberry picking in the summer as part of GISHWHES, as that is where I met Kat and I never would have come to a con, if she hadn’t persuaded me. He said “really blackberry picking? That’s where you became friends” and I said “ya covered in scratches, purple hands bleeding, in the trenches is a great way to make friends.” He laughed and as I went to walk away he put his hand out for me to shake and smiled and nodded at me again. He was so sweet, and amazing, and is again in competition for my number one spot with Rob. We waited a bit more until we were called for the Jensen autos, as he is an introvert like me, I didn’t plan on saying anything to him, just the polite “hi, how are you?” which he responded “I look tired apparently!” I quickly said “I think at this point we all do” which he looked at me and passionately said “thank you!” we then got in line for our Jared autos, we were some of the last people, again I didn’t really have anything to say just hi, how are? He laughed at our photo and said “oh sorry for fondling Misha in your photo” it kind of seemed like he just noticed he had done it. We talked with Cliff briefly, then we chatted with more of the volunteers, I got some tips for when I volunteer at Van con.
Over all the con was amazing, everyone we spoke with was sweet, the fans, the volunteers, the venders, and the cast. It was a great experience, and I am pretty new to the SPNFamily, and new to fandom in general. Yes I was super overwhelmed, yes I hate having my picture taken, yes I hate talking to people, yes all this gives me anxiety, but everyone being really sweet got me through it. I’m exited to see how my con experiences are going forward, whether is volunteering or just attending, I know I have more in my future.
Monday was a wet drive back home, back to regular life, picking up horse poo in the rain (and yes I got my paper done and in and time).
April 6 to 8, 2018
My friend Jessica had bugged me and bugged me: I’d been watching with amusement as she went completely insane over this show she’d started watching called Supernatural. I knew the show, sort of, since my husband watched it, but the extent of what I knew about it came from having been in the room when he was watching the Season Four episode “Wishful Thinking” and seeing a depressed giant teddy bear attempt (and fail) to commit suicide. I think my exact reaction had been, “What the hell is THAT?”
But finally Jessica wore me down, and I promised I would at least give it a try. Almost immediately I was hooked; in fact I started bribing myself to accomplish unwanted tasks by telling myself I could watch another episode if I just got [insert random annoying task here] done.
That was in 2013. I started watching live by the second half of Season 9. I didn’t know back then that Supernatural conventions were even a thing. I didn’t follow a lot of Supernatural fans on Twitter. In short, I was isolated from the fandom, outside of my few friends who watched.
Over the past few years, though, as I started to realize what an amazing community surrounded the show, I started watching – maybe with just a LITTLE bit of jealousy – as people got to go sit in the audience and watch panels I could only see on YouTube, got to sing and dance with actors at the karaoke, got to MEET them at photo ops and autograph sessions. I never, EVER thought I would get the opportunity to participate.
In less than a week, though, I will be flying to Montreal, Quebec to attend my very first Supernatural convention with my teenage daughter. I am a nervous wreck every time I think about it! I know – sort of – what to expect. I’ve talked on Twitter with a few people who will be there, and knowing that I won’t be alone is a huge help. But will it really be anything like I expect when I get there? Will I get overwhelmed by the hectic schedule? Will I even be able to keep up? What if I can’t find where things are happening? What if I get there and everyone who’s been to a dozen conventions looks at me like I’m some sort of idiot for now just KNOWING things? What if I’m completely unable to string together a sentence when presented with that 15 seconds in a photo op or autograph session? What if I do something incredibly stupid and horrifically embarrassing and it gets posted on YouTube for the rest of eternity???
What if I get hit by a bus sometime in the next five days and I can’t even GO?!?
Stay tuned to find out!
Supernatural Las Vegas
Feb. 22 to 25, 2018
My SPNVegas experience
Oh man, this is the first vacation I’ve actually planned MONTHS in advance.
In my line of work, it’s difficult to plan vacation time and have someone cover your work, so I usually only take extended weekends. But VEGAS!
Wednesday was an exhausting travel day, and I haven’t flown since 2009, so it was quite the experience to see how some things have changed while others remain the same. Anyway, due to a scheduling mishap, I arrived in Vegas many hours later than expected, and arrived at the Rio about 7PM. Tired but wound up with excitement, after pre-registering I joined a rousing game of the SPN version of Cards Against Humanity, and made some new friends along the way. I also discovered I had one of the best rooms, with beautiful red plaid curtains.
Let me tell you, Creation knows how to keep a con-goer busy. Even though panels don’t start until about 10:30 to 11 every day, you’re still up early, catching up on social media, and waiting in line for food. That, and factoring in the LONGEST CON HALL TO EVER EXIST! Seriously. It’s like a 10 minute walk. Many often forget to eat, or don’t want to bother the long trek back and forth. Thankfully, there’s water, and many helpful people brought snacks to share. There was even a kind woman who brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out every day. SPNFamily is SO KIND!
Having kept up with con videos online, I mostly knew what to expect. But to see them in-person on stage is such a completely different vibe. The banter, the jokes, it’s all just so… welcoming. And let me tell you, it was an honor to be at Jeffrey Vincent Parise’s very first con panel. He’s a total sweetheart.
Mid-day intermission: if you don’t already have lunch plans, and you want to see ALL the panels, then you better have a snack with you or plan on spending too much on snack food, because that walk is KILLER, and it’s lunch time for EVERYONE ELSE in the casino. And you only have about 45 minutes to do it. My daily nutrition other than dinner mostly consisted of vitamin water and granola bars.
After all the panels, then it’s time to line up for the daily autograph session for Gold and (sometimes) Silver. Thursday wasn’t that bad, because it was just Katherine Ramdeen. I’ll get to Friday in a minute. Thursday is really your only evening off during the Vegas con, so spend it well by getting a good dinner, have a long soak, hang out with friends, and sleep well. Because you’re about to be run RAGGED.
Friday, I shared a breakfast from the Hash House, and had a lovely panel with the Ketch and Davies duo of David Haydn-Jones and Adam Fergus. David managed to promise a duet with a fan at Karaoke that night, singing Moana. After Jason Manns and a break, we got a stage full of antics with FIVE people all up on stage. It was MADNESS, and involved multiple people taking turns on a scooter around the theater. It was GREAT.
Friday afternoon was a bit laid back, unless you had to wait on photo ops and meet and greets. Many of us took the opportunity to rest up, eat, and prep for Karaoke. But then of course, we couldn’t miss the return of Samantha Ferris, or Kim and Briana’s panels. It’s so great hearing these women talk about life, and about not giving up. And giving us a new catchphrase, “I EAT GLASS!”
Friday autographs: Let me tell you, I was SO GLAD I had a Gold pass. It was a disaster. There were Briana, Kim, David, and Adam, all at once, and they lasted FOREVER to get them all done. They had to move the line outside to prepare for karaoke, and even then, many people didn’t get to karaoke until well after it had started because of autographs. Nice planning, CE.
I made a terrible mistake at karaoke. I met up with some of my friends, and we were belting songs, dancing, and acting generally silly. There were some AWESOME singers up on stage, and Jeffrey Vincent Parise is a WONDERFUL team player, bongo drummer, and beat-boxer. But then they called my name to the stage. Oh GOD. I sang for all I was worth, even though I couldn’t hear myself sing, (the audience was singing it right back at me) and I got to give everyone a high-five through Moose-knuckle alley, hug Kim, and give “Asmodeus” a huge fake stage punch. It was great. However, it’s very dry in Vegas, and I hurt myself. A lot. After more singing and drinks/chatting with friends until about 3 in the morning, I woke up the next day with a very raspy voice and messed up throat. I WAY overdid it.
Saturday morning started somewhat subdued, with Mark Pellegrino followed by Panels of Women. Samantha Smith crashed Bri, Kim, and Ruth’s panel, we got to see Samantha Ferris again, and a great time was had by all. One of the best things is seeing everyone’s costumes, not only at the cosplay contest, but during the whole con. Just a couple seats from me were a couple who dressed up differently every day of the con. Most of the time it was Dean and Cas, but one day they dressed up as Lucifer and Gabriel, and another as Sam and Dean.
The afternoon flew by, with more panels, an auction, music video winners, and then Misha. He really is an angel. There’s no other way to put it. I even caught the most precious smile while he talked to the girl who asked everybody if they played Roblox. (happy sigh)
Thankfully, autographs weren’t as bad as the day before (a wink from Misha helped), so many of us got the chance to eat dinner before the SNS concert. Unless you wanted to get in early for the “pit” areas. Then you were waiting outside the room right after autographs. I didn’t care, I had dinner. Unfortunately, eating hot salsa wasn’t the best idea when you’d damaged your throat the night before and knew you were going to be excited yelling at the concert. Yeah…
Oh my gosh, SNS was SO GOOD, and not just because Jensen sang his standard “Whipping Post” or because he brought up Corey Taylor from Slipknot to sing “ Wanted Dead or Alive.” It was absolutely amazing, and I got to see it from six rows back. But the evening was filled with talent. Even if you’re not a Louden Swain fan, their songs sung live are incredibly moving. Especially when Rob’s singing “She Waits” to a sea of waving glowsticks.
If you’ve never heard Briana Buckmaster sing, you’re missing out. She belted out a FANTASTIC rendition of “I am the Fire” and even Lizzy Hale appreciated her for it on Twitter. Everyone was fantastic, and we got to see Jeffrey Vincent Parise on the bongos. Seriously, the man is talented. Did I mention he paints, too? Needless to say, my poor abused throat was on FIRE by the end of the night, and I just KNEW I would be getting sick after all of this.
Sunday morning’s Gold panel is such a special treat. I was so glad to be able to witness it, because it has a different atmosphere from the other panels, since there’s a smaller audience. Jared and Jensen just can’t help but make you smile. Unfortunately by now I’ve lost my voice, so most of my responses were clapping and whistling. I was able to record the panel for someone else, at least.
I needed to eat and find something for my poor throat after that, so I missed the beginning of Mark’s second panel, but made it back in time for the last few minutes. I also got to see Alexander Calvert’s second time at a con, and he really is a mini-Misha (he got lost on the way to the concert the night before). He handled some difficult questions quite well, and I think he’ll fit in nicely.
J2 on stage again for a full hour was a treat, and there’s nothing like seeing them glow talking about their families. You can tell how much they love working on the show, and how much they appreciate the fans. I stayed in my seat for Ruth Connell, and let me tell you, she’s a precious firecracker. If I had a voice at that point, I’d have gotten up and asked her a question.
After that, it’s all downhill, photo ops, the last of the private meet & greets, and autographs. Here’s where I have my major complaint. If Creation Entertainment knows that J2 usually don’t show up for their autographs on time, then schedule them for later, so we’re not all waiting around for an HOUR AND A HALF for them to start, please! Many people hadn’t eaten that day, and exhaustion was setting in after a four day haul.
Finally, at eight o’clock, J2’s autos started, and I got the sweetest smile from Jensen, while I got… kind of a show from Jared, as he was comparing his temporary tattoo with a girl who had a real one. I have to make an aside here, because I forgot to mention I’d made and was handing out simple paracord friendship bracelets for everyone, especially those for whom I had autographs. Kim, Bri, and Kat got bracelets with Wayward colors, Misha got one with the Random acts blue and green, Jensen got one with a pattern called “denim,” (that’s what caused the bright smile) and Jared’s was a little special. I got to explain to him that there are some famous Sam shirts, and I found a pattern that used the same colors as Sammy’s Rusty bacon shirt. He loved it. When I told him I had another bracelet that was similar to his eyes, he wanted that one, too.
As a dutiful friend, I waited with my friends in the Silver seats before we all went to get something to eat as we were all starving.
All in all, going to a Supernatural convention is a magical experience. I came back with full-blown con-crud, but I made new friends, met old ones, and gained memories I’ll treasure forever. Thankfully, I was able to stave off is the infamous Con-drop, the depression that settles in after you’ve left the convention hall, and you’re not surrounded by constant love. I think my happy was assisted by hanging out with some new friends until our flights departed later on Monday.
My tips for con-goers: Join the facebook group for the convention you’re planning to go for. It’s a great community, and if you need a peanut butter sandwich or a cough drop, you can find one there. (I’m serious, I had three people offer me cough drops after I posted asking for one Sunday) You can also find people offering free goodies like bracelets, buttons, or stickers. I cannot reiterate how wonderful the SPNFamily is, and how we all come together to help one another.
Another thing to remember is: you WILL blow your budget. Plan on spending more than you expect, hide some extra cash away, even if it’s just to make sure you eat on Sunday night. And bring snacks! You WILL need them!
Overall, enjoy yourself, because this family has your back.
One thing I learned about myself: I take TERRIBLE pictures, and discovered my phone ate half of them so… If Changing Channels posts any of the few I could salvage, don’t be too harsh on me, please.
Editor's note: These pictures are awesome!
So, my con experiences have been amazing and varied. I've gone to some where they're very chill and not much happens, and I've gone to some where I go on Twitter the next day, and can't believe I got to witness such magic. Vegas Con was my 9th Supernatural convention, and close to 30th convention overall. This con will definitely go down in the history books as one of the top ones, or a few reasons.
I live on the East Coast and flew into Vegas the Sunday before the con to attend the Hotel Cafe show in LA. I drove 6 hours to see this show, and was not let down. I am a HUGE Gil McKinney fan, and he never disappoints at his shows. He's incredibly talented, even though he thinks otherwise. The Station Breaks came on, and I think we were all hoping Briana Buckmaster, who was in LA recording her album would show up, but I think we were all surprised when she took the stage. She kicked ass singing “A Million Reasons” and looked gorgeous. I left the show with new friends and a few new selfies with Jason Manns and Adam Fergus, who was there to support everyone.
On Thursday, Vegas con started with the Gil and Osric panel, which we couldn't possibly miss, as my group has dubbed ourselves #GilsGals. We went and saw Gil in the vendors room to get our obligatory selfies with him (which would be repeated at least 3 more times throughout the week, not including the ops we got with him). Later on, Kat Ramdeen did her panel... she was adorable. Also, gave good advice. Buy maternity pants and eat ALL the buffet food!! We fell in love with Jeffrey Vincent Price, and nicknamed him JVP or #JustVeryPretty (we like to give out hash tags... it's our thing). That evening, us ladies went to Thunder from Down Under and we lost our voices... which will play a part in my Friday activities.
I have always wanted to sing “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” at karaoke... mostly because I thought Matt Cohen would find it entertaining. I signed up for it on Friday, not thinking much more of it. I had started losing my voice and started praying I wouldn't get picked. Well, I got picked. I want to send a formal apology to everyone that had to hear my rendition of that song... but let me tell you, I'd sing it that horribly all over again if I got to experience that night over again. Matt decided I was singing it to Gil, who promptly sat on the floor in front of me looking adorable. He then spent the rest of the song dancing around me, while my voice cracked because it was pleading with me to stop. The video and pictures from that evening will never see the light of day, however, my friends have enjoyed sending me gif's of Gil getting up on his knees to dance in front of me to remind me of the insanity of karaoke night.
On Friday, we also did an op with Gil with all 4 of us as #GilsGals... we had shirts made for us and for Gil. He loved it (or is a very good actor...) and Chris Schmelke also asked for his very own shirt. We were able to get it made for him and gave it to him Saturday morning. He loved it (he is not an actor, and truly loved it). Saturday, we had some great panels... all of which can be found on YouTube. Saturday night... SNS... my God. Briana sang better than I've ever heard her sing, I cried during “I Am the Fire”... cried. It was so amazing. I really wanted to hear Jensen sing “Whipping Post” and my dream came true, but boy was I in for a huge surprise. I have been a fan of Slipknot ever since my ex-boyfriend made me listen to them constantly years ago, and I finally saw them perform two summers ago. When Jensen announced that Corey Taylor was the special guest, the entire theater went silent... I think everyone thought it was a joke. In the videos, you can slowly hear us all freaking out with realization that it was in fact real... we were about to hear Corey Taylor sing with Jensen Ackles. I needed to pinch myself.
On Sunday, the J2 day as it has come to be known, I saw my first Alex Calvert panel and he was delightful. He is a mini Misha, but I also think he's a bit of a mini Leonardo DiCaprio. He seemed very at ease this con, more so than in the videos I saw from his irst convention. He's hilarious and I can't wait to see him again at Jus In Bello con in May.
Overall, my con weekend was amazing, more stuff happened but I feel like those are stories that I'm not as comfortable sharing or that happened more to my friends (Jason Manns may not know what to do with us, and I'll just leave it at that). I think this was one of my best conventions, which is saying a lot considering the last one I had attended was in Hawaii!!
What a week! It was so hard going back to work on Tuesday. I'll have to remind myself to take an extra day off if I go again. Here are my responses to your questions:
What was your overall impression?
Amazing is the word I keep using. That and exhausting! The schedule is very tightly packed with panels, autographs, meet and greets and photo ops. It's difficult to plan your time at the con ahead of time since the schedule doesn't come out until the day before it starts. In this case, on Tuesday, When I saw it, I was overwhelmed. I have to say that Creation does an excellent job of making sure everyone knows where to go and at what time. For example, we had autographs and photos at the same time. The staff was very good about saying which one we should go to first, typically the photos because they don't take as much time. I would also like to mention that Creation's staff were all very friendly. At one point, I had passed through the vendor's room so many times to enter the theater that the staff person and I greeted each other as old friends! We even hugged! I've been going to Comic Con in San Diego for the last nine years- that's never happened! And they did an excellent job with services for people with disabilities. As someone who works in the disability field, and who has a disability, that was very much appreciated. Something Comic Con could learn from Creation. I did make a point of letting them know this. The only two exceptions were at karaoke- the first row of the section for people with disabilities should have been reserved for anyone who needed sign language interpreters. The two gentlemen who did had to sit in the second row and might have had difficulty seeing the interpreters (I didn't ask them, though in retrospect, I should have). The other thing was that Rachel Miner, who uses a scooter due to MS had to be more or less carried onto the stage because there didn't appear to be a ramp behind it (this may have been her preference, but again, I didn't ask!).
What did you enjoy the most?
In a word? Everything! Not helpful, I know. The Q&A sessions were awesome. Some of the questions were interesting, but others, not so much. The actors handled them all with grace and humor. Although I'm certain they've all been asked some of them numerous times, they answered the questions as though they were hearing them for the first time. I appreciated that since I've been on the asking end of con FAQs a few times! Karaoke was terrific. So many really wonderful singers. I'm glad I wasn't chosen! Although at one point, there were so many people on stage singing, I'm not sure I heard any one voice!
One thing I really enjoyed was the interactions I had with my fellow con goers, my SPN Family. It's one thing to talk to each other on social media. It's quite another to do so in person. Some of us met Wednesday night at Smashburger. We chatted and some went to play games after. I was way too tired from our drive, but I had so much fun talking with them. And we ran into each other over the next several days, it was so cool! Again, we greeted each other like old friends!
My friend and I made Wayward Daughter jackets which we wore almost all weekend. One particularly awesome moment for both of us was when we showed them to Kim and Briana. Their reaction meant everything to us! They loved the jackets so much! Worth every penny!
Where you nervous about anything?
Yes. I tend to fangirl hard. I am extremely starstruck and constantly worried that I will make a fool out of myself in front of someone I admire. But the actors were so wonderful with me and with everyone I saw with them. Just so kind, friendly. They were all so appreciative of us and our love for them and the show. Not saying I didn't fangirl. I really did. But I wasn't alone in doing it. I was with my family!
Did you have any photo ops or autographs?
Yes, I did! I got all the Gold autographs, of course. But I ended up getting autographs from everyone except Richard Speight, Jr and Alex Calvert. Just missed out of them, so I suppose I will have to get them next time! I also got Kim and Briana's signatures on their #resist #persist posters. They will be framed and put up in my office as soon as I can.
My friend, Kate, and I did these photo ops: Jared and Jensen, Misha as Cas, Mark Pellegrino, Kim and Briana, Ruth, Katherine Ramdeen, Samantha Smith, and Rachel Miner.
I also did Sammies with Sam. We ate pb&j sandwiches with milk and talked with Samantha Smith about the show, about Mary. We laughed so much! Then she showed us how to throw and react to a stunt punch! It was so much fun!
Back home in Los Angeles. I was both ready to be home and also sad to be home. You really were a tremendous convention.
Except the travel. Oh man, Southwest, your communication fucking sucks. You are the only airline that I have ever flown that at 12:25 your signage still says we’re still ontime for a 12:35 departure and the flight is still unloading passengers from the previous flight! Also the only airline that, when I had problems with the machine that let you check in your bag, I got a mansplaination of how this shit was supposed to work as opposed to actually looking at the problem.
But when that is one of my biggest gripes of the convention (I can’t even call it a weekend, can I?) then you know things went right. My only other gripe of the weekend is what I have dubbed the Autopocalypse of Friday night. Adam was chatty and slowing down the autograph line, but they had to set up for karaoke. In trying to move the line AND redistribute the load they just made a giant clusterfuck of it all. I think me and my roommate finally made it to karaoke in a few minutes after it all started. I totally don’t blame the volunteers, as the idea was sound it was the execution that was poor. But aside from that? Easily the SMOOTHEST convention I’ve been to and given that its also the biggest Creation con I’ve been to, that really is saying something.
I have to say, my pre-reg game skills leveled up this weekend for real. We had a mini-meet up before pre-reg on Wednesday (*waves to people I met there*) and went downstairs so those in gold could go get their badges. Since I couldn’t get mine yet, I went off, bought my actual list of shit (5 autographs and 3 photo ops) and traded in my pdfs for hard tickets and then the line had cleared out enough they let us Silver plebs register – and I was all done a full half-hour before Silver registration was even cleared to begin. Winning! I will also just say that that was not my last trip to that table. Before the con was done, I’d end up being like 3 more photo ops, 2 more at-table autographs and a selfie. My final tally: 17 autographs and 14 ops) Ahahah. Bye money! Totally worth it though! The four autographs I didn’t get – Sam Smith, Matt Cohen, Gabriel Tigerman and Kat Ramdeen. I kinda wish I had gotten Sam’s, but by Sunday I had hit my absolute “Nope, I’m not spending any more money on these” limit so hard I had no desire to spend the $$. I miiiight hit up GH con next month and get Matt, we’ll see.
Game Night was pretty awesome, and I’m pretty sure I have my roommate Grace to thank for that. She brought the SPN-themed Cards Against Humanity set with her. It drew the actors like honey catches flies. The night began and Gil immediately made a bee-line for our table, as did Kat until they told Kat that she couldn’t sit there. Gil stayed until they kicked him off, then Osric came over and he stayed until they kicked him off (and ate Grace’s snacks too!) and then finally Kat came over and she stayed until they kicked her off. We didn’t get to see Gabe (the one who really wanted to play it – he mentioned it in panel!) or Jeffrey (which would have been awesome) or Sam Smith who apparently dropped by, but considering it was like 3 20 minute meet and greets, I have zero complaints. Grace did hear grumblings the next day that some thought we got a disproportionate level of attention from the guests, but hey, the guests did their thing. We had a good game and were great company. #sorrynotsorry. Also, I totally stocked up on snacks that helped me get through the weekend, so it was well worth the $90 or so I wound up paying for it.
Karaoke was also pretty awesome, and it may be the first time I’ve stayed at one from start to end. Pretty much anyone still around on Friday (minus Rachel and Rob who weren’t scheduled to be there anyway) was there and the energy was fantastic. It also turned into Disney night thanks to David and Adam’s panel where David started singing Moana and it was AWESOME for it. The only downside was getting Moana stuck in my head. LOL. We also did a pretty awesome Bohemian Rhapsody, if I say so myself ??
And Saturday Night Special? So we knew there was going to be a “special guest” with Jensen. Who would have thought that we’d get Corey Taylor of Slipknot?! And to have him fanboy on stage made it that much more awesome. I totally bought the SNS album after. No regrets!
As for panels, I pretty much didn’t listen to anyone on stage that I didn’t like, or didn’t find likable. This guest list is just that great. I really do hope they can get David and Adam back for next year as they easily became my con crushes. Also, all of the women are so smart, and charming and just utterly kick ass in their own ways. It’s a group of girls that if I had a daughter, I would 100% support her looking up to. I wish I had a little more money so I could have gotten ops with more of them. 2019 Goals, yo. Favorite moments: the “I eat glass, fuck you!” randomness of Kim/Brianna, Mark saying that he has to go shark diving now because he can’t lie to a little kid (just to us, about the show), Alex’s story of how Jared cut up Alex’s credit card at dinner so Alex couldn’t help pay and Mark asking Alex a question as Lucifer. Good stuff. I will admit that by the last panel (Ruth) I was only half-listening. 4 days of panels (with an average of 5 a day – 20 total!) is a lot and only stayed on just this side of too much because the guests were awesome.
Finally (!) the #SPNFamily difference. While on the face of it, I’ll say that as a whole were as nice as I’ve met at other cons, the generosity was the difference. There wasn’t a day when people weren’t feeding each other – sandwiches, ramen, candy, pizzas,, even a simple “you want some chips?” and I picked up so much fan swag too. My arms were a gauntlet of freely given rubber bracelets – the paracord bracelet and the Crowley bracelet may well become every day accessories for me and the buttons (plus a few I bought) are going with me to work to decorate my desk. What was amazing is that for the most part people are just like “here! have this!” I definitely haven’t seen that before, and that was neat.
All told, this was an awesome con and I genuinely enjoyed it. The only question going in 2019 is this: Silver or Copper? Decisions, decisions.
Initially it was a little overwhelming until I got my hands on a schedule, as I didn't get one when I checked in. I checked in on Thursday as I had to work Wednesday. I got lucky that nothing I wanted to do overlapped with anything else I was planning to do.
The question and answer sessions I attended were very entertaining and there wasn't a single one I didn't like. J2 was my favorite, of course, but I also liked Ruth, Kim, and Brianna's a heck of a lot.
I got the gold package, as friends recommended packages as they have built in autograph sessions. So glad I did.
I was shy initially with some if the autos, but everyone was friendly and I got more comfortable with it.
For photo ops, I got R2M, J2, Kim & Brianna, and Misha. I met up with some of my GISHWHES teammates for the Kim & Brianna and Misha ops, so I didn't have to plan the poses. Kim & Brianna we our GISHWHES captains, so we got hugs from the before taking the photo, but that was their move not our request.
The other ops I did solo and I was nervous as I didn't realize I was supposed to have a pose. My friend said not to sweat it for R2M, they'd come up with something and recommended I ask J2 for a squish hug pose...and I say "go Patriots.” In fact she made me promise to do it. So the R2M op went well.
I was really nervous going into the R2M ops, but when I told them I was new to this and didn't have a pose, Rob was like "OK!" and they all just kind of hug posed with me. Funny thing was I didn't expect it so I panicked about where to put my hands...I'd heard things about fans touching inappropriately, and I wasn't even going to chance brushing anything, so my arms kind of froze in mid air for the photo.
I did a little better with my J2 op because I knew I was asking for a hug pose, but was terrified about actually talking to them. When the lady at the head of the line told me to go I was definitely a little hesitant. Jared started spinning around just being goofy and I froze and just stared. I was worried I had interrupted something and was expecting someone to tell me to move back, but Jensen just reached over to whack Jared's shoulder so he'd stop and then grins at me. So I blurt out the pose I was told to ask for and Jensen just keeps smiling and is like "No problem, we got this" and they hug me. After the photo is taken I said thanks then threw a quick double thumbs up and said "Go, Patriots" then added a quick sorry before stepping away, but is just kind of chuckled and rolled his eyes and went "aw, man.” My friend Krista said his handler would get a kick out of it, being a fellow Pats fan. I was glad he was cool about it.
One of the best things about the Supernatural fandom is the conventions that Creation Entertainment puts on; I, myself, have been lucky enough to go to three, and will be attending my fourth in Vancouver this year. I still remember being filled with nervousness, combined with the utter joy, excitement and SQUEE when I went to VanCon for the very first time back in 2016. When I started Changing Channels, I knew that I had to capture that SQUEE that new congoers -- aka con virgins -- had -- and this idea was born.
We will follow six convention goers (five who are virgins) as they embark upon their journey to Las Vegas for an adventure of a lifetime. Some have chosen to provide a summary after the fact; some have chosen to provide some of their path beforehand.
Lynn's thoughts so far ...
First impression? Creation’s website is pretty user friendly. I appreciated that right out of the gate. I’m legally blind and ease of use on websites is important. Also, I have been in touch with their customer services people for a couple of issues. They were very attentive and responded quickly. One thing I wasn’t prepared for is the cost. This is the most expensive convention I’ve been to, including Comic Con here in San Diego. I’ve also been to a couple of show specific cons that weren’t nearly as costly as this one. That will likely prevent me from going again.
My feelings leading into the con: nervous excitement! It’s been about eight months since I bought my badge and it’s finally here. On an excitement scale of zero to ten, I would say I’m at a 20! But I’m also a little nervous about meeting the cast. I have quite a few photo ops. And I get really star struck. Everyone tells me they’re great and really put the fans at ease. I hope so!
Speaking of fans, the folks in the Facebook group are terrific! Answering questions, making suggestions. I’m looking forward to meeting so many of them and hanging out.
My name is Carrie and while I am a newbie to the fandom (less then one year!) and to Supernatural conventions in particular, I am no convention newbie.
My first convention ever was Salute to Xena in Santa Monica, California way back in 1998. Back in the day autographs only cost you the item you got it signed on (no, really and they charged $5 for a photo back in the day) and photo ops weren’t yet a thing because digital cameras were in their infancy.
I may or may not be feeling old right now :P
Anyway, in the intervening 20 years of con going, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con, Anime Expo and any number of small conventions, but eventually I found myself drawn back to Creation because of the panels and guaranteed seating. In 2014 I began attending their Vampire Diaries conventions and I fell in love all over again, so much so that by the time 2016 hit I attended 3 in one year.
Then last year, I found Supernatural…and it was over. Like so many before me, it stole my heart and going to a con was not an option. And when I first started making plans, I remember that at the various TVD cons I attended I kept hearing one thing over and over again:
“Supernatural cons are different.”
They can’t explain exactly why beyond vague generalities – energy is one I’ve heard a lot, but different is just the common refrain.
I want to know what that difference is. I can’t wait to see the difference.
I’ve seen it a little going into the con: the number of people planning giveaways, the number of people who expressed interest when I expressed an interest in my Day 0 Game Night meet-up (almost 40!) and I can only imagine what it will be at con.
I’m looking forward to this new vibe, to making a new family of con friends, and to the insanity of the con as a whole.
Only 6 more days until I see for myself!
Picture of me from 1998 Xena con. Yes, that is a young Ryan Gosling. Receipts. I’ve got them. (Taken by a state of the art disposable camera. LOL!)
Picture of my favorite ever op – Paul Wesley and Chris Wood from TVD Burbank 2016.
Picture of my con scrap book from my first TVD con.