I don’t typically review memoirs, but I think this is probably only a review in the loosest of terms and I connected with the book enough that I want to talk about it.
I don’t remember how Felicia Day appeared on my radar. I was an avid Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, but honestly, on the first couple viewings of season seven, the little slayerettes were not my focus. A group of slightly annoying girls I paid less attention to than I should’ve (and that is the correct way to write that. It is not ‘should of’. Not. Ever). And when Dr. Horrible rolled around, I was crazy excited cause – Nathan Fillion and NPH and Joss Whedon. But I already knew who Felica was. Not specifically. I couldn’t tell you why I knew who she was, but I just knew her name. I’ve always had a soft spot for gingers, so it probably had something to do with why she stayed in my brain – even though I couldn’t have named a single thing she’d done at the time. But for some reason, this peculiar woman struck me as someone I wanted to pay attention to. I’ve never seen The Guild. I’m not a regular watcher of Geek & Sundry. I’m a mediocre twitterer at best (and even that’s a stretch). I don’t game (at least not in the video sense). But Day has always stuck with me as someone who was probably pretty damn cool.
Then a couple years ago, I saw her on the list of attendees at a comic expo I attend annually. It’s always worth it. I’m always excited. But that year, it was more than worth the six hours of drive time to get there and back. I tried to explain my excitement to people, but typically, the response was ‘who’s that’. As she says in her book – situational recognition. A couple people would nod at the Dr. Horrible reference, but beyond that it was mostly, followed by ‘who else is there’. I don’t do the photo ops or the autograph lines. I’m a panel girl. I love to sit and listen to people talk. To tell stories about what makes them love their jobs. Their favourite experiences. Piecing together answers to the most obscure audience questions on the spot. To me, that’s what makes a convention worth it. This was the one time I considered doing the line-up thing. Maybe I would get her to sign my Laurie B Codex print. And then I saw the length of her lines. People here knew what I knew. She is rad. So I told myself that her panel was all I needed. And in the end I was right. I left with a better understanding of what made me like her so much. She is so passionate about the things she loves. My favourite piece of advice was about the toilet paper roll and how it defines work ethic. You can go find that on your own if you like, but it was her general vibe that left me with that all over satisfied feeling. Here was this woman my age who had made this place for herself in a world that she loved. And she made no apologies for it. Having read her book, I now understand what she was going through personally at the time of this panel, and I’m even more impressed.
When I read that she had a memoir coming out, I was torn. I have been led astray by many a memoir. Actors I like come off cocky or boring or too awe shucks. And then I look at them weird in all their future projects. But, I held out hope for good things and immediately asked my library to order a copy (I have never purchased a memoir. They are library fodder). Now, my library is awesome with this letting borrowers ask for books to be put in circulation, but they don’t put you on the hold list for asking. They just say sure, we’ll order it. Check back later and when it shows up in the catalogue, put a hold on it. By the time I remembered to go check, I was already like 20th in line. I’m still waiting. But I went to the bookstore the other day with the sole purpose of wandering. I was not planning to buy anything. I should have known. I’d picked up a couple books (more than I’d intended) and I was ready to go. But, I decided to wander through the section at the front of the store with the staff picks. And there she was. That pretty blue cover. And there was a weekend only sale – 40% off. And I knew I had to do it. I threw my non-memoir buying ways into the wind, tucked Day’s book under my Courtney Summers book, and strode over to the cashier before I changed my mind. That was Saturday. I was done by Monday. And I have no regrets.
This book isn’t a series of celebrity encounters. Or hard knock moments. Or random happenstance – okay, maybe it’s a little bit of that last one. It’s the story of a girl raised in a strange family who likes weird things and suffers from almost/sometimes crippling anxiety. And for real, her life was weird. She’s a weirdo. But so am I. This is the thing that makes me connect to Day – and I don’t mean connect in their weird stalkery way. I mean, it’s nice to know that there are other people out there who feel as passionately about their nerd as I do and can still function somewhat socially. It took me a long time to become comfortable with sharing my likes. I used to become defensive or try to brush off/hide my interests. Now I have an armful of fandom tattoos and make my own highly geeky clothing. I was at an IMAX screening of Firefly a couple weeks ago. Sitting there in my homemade Firefly crew skirt with my knitted Blue Sun purse (sometimes, I get a little themey). The friend I was with needed to take care of some pre-movie necessities, so I pulled out my book (non-Firefly related) and read until he got back. His immediate response upon return was ‘You are such a nerd”. My answer was simply ‘yup’. Partly because I knew he was joking – he was sitting in a screening of a movie released ten years ago that we both watch regularly anyway. I was not the only nerdy one in this equation. But also because I am comfortable in my (figurative) nerd cloak.
Everyone is nerdy about something. Or geeky. Or however you want to put it. It’s about passion. I can’t tell you about the number of times I’ve had to defend my choices. Every time I mention that I’m going to a comic convention at work, I am inevitably asked if I dress up. And the expression of the answerer is often a little judgey. I remember the encounter when I decided I wasn’t going to be defensive and try to explain why I liked to go. It wasn’t an epiphany moment. It was a long time coming. But this time the question was asked with blatant judgement, by someone wearing a hockey jersey and matching hat and scarf, on their way to a game with a team blanket tucked into a bag. In a sea of people wearing the same things. And that’s when it hit me. How is what I do any different than what you do? Sports fans throw themselves into their fandoms. Team logo tattoos are no big thing, but I put the deathly hallows on my wrist and suddenly I’m making terrible life decisions. I get to go to one or two conventions a year. They take up, in total, a single digit amount of days. But hockey fans can give months over to watching other people play sports and it’s dedication. I’m not saying mine is better. Or theirs. I’m saying they’re the same. We both love the thing we love for reasons beyond the surface. You might get bored listening to me talk about Doctor Who, but trust me, I feel the same way when someone tries to explain the rules of hockey to me. So yeah, I’m a nerd. And I go to conventions. And no, I don’t dress up. Cosplay is serious business. There are people who are famous for it. But it’s also an act of love. People who do it put time and energy into coming up with their costumes. Into finding and making things to make them authentic. Or unique. It’s not my passion. I shall leave it to those who are.
Felicia’s passion is gaming. She makes no attempts to hide this. She revels in it. And she makes no apologies for it. She found her soul home. And then she was attacked for it. Her personal information spread across the internet because she expressed an opinion. I remember reading her article about crossing the street and thinking that it was a nice way to look at this thing happening in the gaming world that was so offputting that it inspired an episode of Law & Order. I don’t game. I like a good table top game, but video games are not my think. My video gaming tops off at Cake Mania (which I love), but I’ve never been into MMORPGs. Hell, I don’t even have the internet in my house. I do all my internet connection requiring things at places with free wifi, or the library, or other such places. So I don’t know enough to have an opinion on gamergate as a thing. I have bucket loads of opinions on feminism and equal representation, but that’s not for this post. My passion isn’t gaming. It’s writing and books.
I loved reading about Felicia’s quirky life. Her peculiar upbringing. Her social anxiety. And her success. It’s a reminder to me that regardless of where it ends up, embracing your passion is the only way to live. Even if it makes people think you’re weird. Especially if it makes you weird.