Things I’ve Learned From Fangirling

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I’ve been a fangirl for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it was The Black Stallion books, Star Trek, Star Wars, Spider-man, country music and Barbie, (weirdly most of these things are still in play!). In my 20s and 30s it was and continues to be The Office, Twilight, Marvel Comics (Daredevil in particular), YA urban fantasy books (various series), Arrow, and the Big Bang Theory. At the moment, I’m fangirling pretty hard for Shadowhunters (Malec!) and The Mortal Instruments book series its based on from author Cassandra Clare.

I’ve recently given some thought on what fangirling has meant in my life and what it has taught me. Some may view fandom as irrational behavior based in fantasy (and in some ways it is), but for many like myself I can see how some of the ridiculous things fangirls do actually carries over into reality.

Fangirls are made of some pretty tough stuff. I’ve survived some of the most heartbreaking and heart-pounding situations ever through my favorite books and movies. For example:

  • The Office: It took three seasons for Jim and Pam to get together. Every episode they didn’t find their way to one another was another little stab in the heart.
  • In Arrow: I survived Oliver “dying” in a midseason cliffhanger and the Olicity break-up (I’m still in denial on this one, though).
  • Twilight: I survived Edward breaking up with Bella in New Moon.
  • The Mortal Instruments: I survived Malec on page 511. It was so horrific we can’t even talk about it.

That means we can survive just about anything real life can throw at us. For instance, there’s nothing my students can throw at me that I can’t handle. Any time they challenge me I smirk while thinking, “Oh, please. I survived Picard getting kidnapped and turned into a Borg.”

Fangirls are incredibly empathetic. Part of the reason we get so emotionally involved and obsessed is because of our high capacity to internalize what others are feeling.

  • I cried at Jim and Pam’s wedding. And at Edward and Bella’s. (I’m sure I will at Malec’s as well. Please Cassandra Clare. Oh, please let us have this!)
  • I also cried during the last installment of Malec’s ongoing story in Tales from Shadowhunter Academy because I was overwhelmed with their happiness – they deserve it!
  • In The Mortal Instruments, I was so angry that Jace and Clary were brother and sister, that I threw the book and needed a moment to calm down.
  • In Harry Potter, I bawled so hard when Harry realized he had to die I needed an hour to get it together before I could jump back in.

Empathy, IMHO, is one of the most important traits anyone can have. It gives us the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, no matter how different they are from us. Fangirls are extraordinary practitioners of empathy!

Fangirls always have something to look forward to. This is especially true if you’re a fangirl with multiple fandoms. Let’s face it – day to day life can get monotonous. Even boring! Fangirls don’t get bored because we’re always waiting for:

  • book, movie, merchandise, tv season release dates
  • the next new episode
  • Fan events, conventions, Comicon!
  • Concert dates
  • social media updates
  • collector’s editions
  • …and about a million other things depending on the fandom

Fangirling makes you tech savvy. This is very true if you’re fangirling via social media. Over the years, a lot of my computer skills have come from fangirling.

  • The Office: I learned basic coding while posting and moderating on a message board.
  • Twilight: I learned photo cropping, editing, isolating videos, and how to create mp4 files.
  • Arrow, Shadowhunters, and Daredevil: I learned how to make gifs, screen capture videos, and “Twitter-speak.”

There’s so much more, so I may have to do another volume of my sociological analysis of being a fangirl. It’s not just for fifteen-year-olds or so-called nerds stuck in a fantasy world. It’s for anyone who loves something with everything they have and it truly does translate to real life.

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c.b.w. 2017

Sewing With Grandma

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The last two weeks have been filled with a lot fabric scraps and thread. My ongoing program to teach high school students how craft for charity has started sewing simple patchwork blankets. The idea was to get each student to sew simple quilt blocks of four squares and then sew everyone’s squares together to create a series of kennel blankets for the local humane society. I had no idea this project would stir so many emotions.

As I was cutting out squares for my students to sew, I found myself using my grandma’s block templates, seam allowance bar, and scissors. The memories came flooding back – summer at grandma’s where we learned how to sew. Grandma showing me how to hold a needle and how to pinch the fabric to make uniform stitches. Those wonderful memories made me dig through some of her old quilt patterns and I pulled one in particular.

Initially, I thought I would trace and cut the pattern pieces for students who exhibited higher level sewing skills. I sewed the first few blocks to remind myself how to work the pattern, but it quickly turned into something else. I realized I had inadvertently started this project two days before my grandma’s birthday. Perhaps it was subconscious action or kismet, but I could feel her with me. I ended up sewing every block and eventually pieced together an entire throw size blanket. The process was deeply cathartic.

Every skill she ever taught me came back, even though its been many years since I’ve sewn a quilt. I ended up with a beautiful little blanket that reminds me grandma is never really that far away.

The cat has already claimed it.

As for my students, they are learning quickly and we will be piecing together our first blankets next week. I made another blanket as a model for my students and even this project stirred some wonderful memories and sitting and sewing with my grandma. I can only hope my students feel the same kind of warmth – our little group has accomplished so much and we are all connected by what we’ve learned from one another.

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c.b.w. 2017