Representing: Things From Another World

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My Nana-da kept a pile of *comic books* in the toy box next to the fire place.  There was an arm chair in front of the toy box, facing the room, so it made a nice little spot for me to curl up out of the way during visits and family gatherings.  I would sit there and read *Archie* and *Disney* comics and ignore everyone.  There weren’t any other kids my age in my family to play with, and even as a child I was introverted and didn’t care much for crowds.  But I was a voracious reader and I loved those comic books.

Archie Americana Box Set HC 1940-1970Star Wars Nerf Herder Charcoal Heather T-Shirt LG

I was three years old when my parents took me to see *Star Wars*, and I loved it.  My favorite part was (and still is) “when the Wookiee scared the bucket” (as I told my parents, who had to see it two or three more times before they figured out what part that was).  The “bucket” is actually a MSE-6 Droid, also known as a Mouse Droid, and the scene happens as Han, Luke, and Chewie are on their way to rescue Princess Leia.

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Needless to say, I was a geek from a very young age.  So when I moved to the Portland, Oregon area as an adult, I definitely had to go check out the *Things From Another World* store.  I would wander around, drooling over the *toys* and *games*, leafing through the *graphic novels*, and wishing I could buy everything that struck my fancy.

Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon (75105)Firefly Serenity Plush

Of course, now I live on the other side of the country.  These days, I peruse their website, adding things to my wish list and cursing the lack of funds to check out all the new comics and graphic novels available.  I would especially love to catch up on some of the ones I’ve really only recently heard about, thanks to all the new superhero movies coming out, particularly *Guardians of the Galaxy* and *Deadpool*.

Guardians Of Galaxy By Abnett And Lanning Omnibus HCDeadpool Classic Omnibus HC Vol. 01

Then there’s my favorite characters, like *Wonder Woman* (big surprise there, huh?) and *Harley Quinn* (probably not shocking either).

Toon Tumblers DC Bombshells Harley Quinn Mini GlassToon Tumblers DC Bombshells Wonder Woman Mini Glass

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I’d also love to get more into *Doctor Who* and the continuation of *Buffy the Vampire Slayer*.  I was a huge Buffy fan and watched the show religiously.  I once got a phone call from a friend during “Buffy time” and it went something like this: “Hi! I know Buffy is on but it’s a commercial right now and I just had to tell you and oh, it’s back on, bye!”

Doctor Who Complete Guide SCBuffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Library Edition HC Volume 1

My husband and I watched the “first” season of Doctor Who with the Ninth Doctor, and started watching the “second” one with the Tenth Doctor, but it went off our on demand and we haven’t gotten around to picking up the DVDs yet.  I’ve seen a few random episodes with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, and I thought they were great, so I’d really like to get back to the series someday.  You know, in that copious amount of spare time that I have.  I really just need a T.A.R.D.I.S. of my own.

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*Things From Another World* has some really awesome *collectibles*, too.  I want these two figures:

Batman Arkham Knight Harley Quinn Action FigureDisney Showcase Jessica Rabbit Couture Figure

Actually, everything in this post is on my wish list, so if you need some VERY last minute gift ideas, here you go.  The last day to order and choose UPS Next Day for Christmas delivery is December 21.  Some of these items are on backorder or pre-order, but that’s okay, because my birthday is in February!  😛

Disney Muppets Character Encyclopedia HCWonder Woman By George Perez Omnibus HC

You could get me some awesome books, like the ones above, and this bag to carry them in:

Star Wars Chewbacca Replica Messenger Bag

Or add to my sippy cup collection:

Star Wars R2-d2 13 Oz Iconic TumblerStar Wars Storm Trooper 13 Oz Iconic Tumbler

Or get me something to wear because you know I don’t have enough t-shirts and hoodies (no really! Why are you laughing?):

Comics Are For Everybody LG Womens T-ShirtDeadpool Logo Previews Exclusive Zip Hoodie MED

Of course, there’s always a *gift certificate*!  Seriously, go check out *Things From Another World* if you haven’t already.  And if you happen to live in the Portland, Oregon area, you can order online and have everything shipped to one of the stores (in Milwaukie, Beaverton, or on NE Broadway) free.

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Revelations and Recovery

I meant to write this post last May, for Mental Health Month.  I had hoped to get it finished during Mental Illness Awareness Week.  I’ve discovered that it’s very hard for me to write in depth about my own mental health issues.  But before I get into that, I want to share an analogy about mental illness that my dear friend and personal hero, Steven Hall wrote.

The Batman Analogy  by Steven Hall

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re Batman.

Imagine that you fight crime with the help of a butler, a sidekick, a police commissioner, and several Bat-themed accomplices. You have virtually limitless resources from which to either purchase the tools and weapons you need, or you just craft them yourself. You have a computer that can analyze anything and a vast secret base from which to operate. Your most diabolical enemies are locked up with a brief, intense struggle, and while they always manage to escape Arkham, you always manage to put them back where they belong.

Now imagine that your most diabolical enemies have discovered where your Batcave is, and have taken up residence there. They have access to all the gadgets and the computer, the support network, and your secret identity, and they’re somehow using them all against you. There’s no place you can hide, nothing they can’t access, and nowhere to run that’s safe. They will always find you because they know everything about you, so you just sit there in the Batcave and let them torture you day in, day out, using the very tools that you built to fight them with. The Scarecrow is there, too, making sure that your reality is a constantly fluid and everchanging concept. There’s no sense trying to put them all back in Arkham, because they built a tunnel that you can’t access leading them straight back to the Batcave. The whole idea of being Batman is suddenly and utterly pointless.

The first scenario is, what I understand, how the normal brain works. You have your resources, you have your tools, and you can usually overcome your obstacles with a little bit of effort and determination. You’re a hero, and that’s what heroes do.

The second is the brain of an individual with mental illness. Eventually, the fight becomes so ludicrously overmatched, you just give up hope and start to just sit there and take it, not fighting back, wondering when the fight is going to end. You start rooting for the bad guys in the hope that in the end, there will be mercy.

But the point is this.

In that second scenario, you’re so far beaten that you forget who you are. You draw a blank on this Batman guy and all you can think of is how badly Bruce is getting his ass kicked in his own safe house. But no matter how bad things get, YOU’RE STILL A HERO, AND YOU’RE STILL FIGHTING, even if all the fight that’s left in you is to just breathe and survive the day.

Because one day, you’re going to find something left within you, just enough strength to rise once more and take the fight to your enemies again.

And THAT’S what heroes do too.

***

I hate to admit it, but for awhile there, the bad guys were winning.  I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Depression, Anxiety/Panic Disorder, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.  I also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and Insomnia, plus a handful of physical ailments such as Arthritis, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, and Eczema, which are worsened by stress and anxiety.

Last winter, my anxiety was completely out of control.  Between the stress of my husband’s uncertain health (he’s still getting migraines and cluster headaches several times a week), our even more uncertain financial situation, going to graduate school, and running a business, I was having some major pain issues in my neck and shoulders, my own headaches (not as severe as my husband’s, but that’s not a competition I want either of us to win), and heart palpitations.  I’ve since described anxiety as a flight or fight response where you’re stuck on the “or” part, and boy was I.  It also exacerbated my SAD, Insomnia, and ADHD to the point I was in a constant state of fog, unable to sleep, and unable to stay awake.

***

I started back on antidepressants (I had managed without them for years), but it took several months to find a dosage that helped.  In the meantime, I couldn’t keep up with the work required for my MLIS classes, and I was disqualified from the program.  This was a pretty big blow that did not help my depression one bit.  I couldn’t keep up with getting orders from my Etsy shop out in a timely manner, and had to shut it down.  Another blow, which only added to the stress of the uncertain financial situation.  I was feeling like I’d failed at everything.  My general mantra of “it’s okay, just try again tomorrow,” was sounding like a broken record and I was beginning to wonder if trying again was really worth the effort.

It’s ALWAYS worth the effort

It’s not easy living with mental illness.  It’s not easy to go undiagnosed for 40 years (my ADHD diagnosis was about a month after my 40th birthday).  Some days, it’s not easy to even get out of bed.  But it is always, always, always worth the effort.  Even when that effort is simply “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

***

I don’t like to talk about my mental health issues very often.  I look at what some of my friends and loved ones are going through, and I feel like I’m whining if I mention mine.  But that’s one of depression’s traps.  My illness isn’t any less valid because it’s less severe than someone else’s.  My pain might not be as intense as what my husband is suffering, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.  I get pissed off if anyone tries to tell anyone with a mental illness that “it’s not that bad,” or “suck it up,” so why do I tolerate it when I say it to myself?

I am a fiercely independent person, I don’t like being told I can’t do something, and it can be very difficult for me to ask for help.  So part of my issue is not wanting to give in to my mental illnesses, not wanting to admit how much they really affect me.  Admirable in theory, but ignoring them does not make them go away.  I don’t want to “wallow” or use them as excuses, though.  It’s a strange dichotomy, not letting mental illness rule our lives while advocating to eliminate the stigma we face on a daily basis, even within our own minds.

I’m also an optimist.  Yes, optimists can have depression.  My depression isn’t necessarily a sadness, and my anxiety isn’t necessarily a worry.  I don’t really tend to dwell on the negative or concern myself with thoughts of what might go wrong.  I am more of a Pollyanna and a cheerleader, and my positivity and enthusiasm don’t really go away when I’m having a bad bout of depression and/or anxiety.  It’s more like they’re on the other side of a glass wall; I can see them, but I can’t touch them.  And that makes things worse, because I know it’s irrational, I know I don’t really believe whatever negative thoughts might be creeping in, but I’m stuck.  I can’t do anything but press against the glass.

***

If you have a mental illness, you are a superhero.  Every day you exert superhuman strength just to appear “normal.”  You live a kind of double life with a secret identity.  But instead of your secret identity being a “normal” person, it’s your superhero identity that is the “normal” one.  Your superhero identity is the face you show the world, hiding your secret identity as much as possible.  It’s like you’re two different people, and others don’t see the connection, that they really are the same person.  But unlike Clark Kent and Superman, it takes more than a pair of glasses to switch between the two personas.  And some days you just can’t.  So you try again tomorrow.  Because you are a superhero, and that’s what heroes do.

***

So I am “heroing up” here.  I am taking back my life, getting back in business, and writing a book.  Yes, I’ll still have bad days.  But I also have the right medications now, and amazingly supportive people in my life.  I’m not in this alone.  And neither are you.

You are my hero

City of Heroes Costume Inspiration and a Chance to Win

I love making and wearing costumes.  I have loved costumes for as long as I can remember and as a teenager I dreamed of opening my own costume store someday.  I’ve always planned to expand my business into creating items for cosplayers and I’m finally making some headway toward that goal.  I’ve already introduced my Straitjacket Hoodies, Tu-Tus, and Freaky Fleece Hats, but I have several more projects in the works.  Today I’m going to talk about my plans to create “real life” pieces from the City of Heroes costume creator.

One thing I loved about the costume creator in City of Heroes was the vast variety and endless combinations.  You weren’t limited to the standard spandex and cape with your underwear on the outside.  And as time went on even more costume pieces were added.  I am especially fond of the Steampunk and Gunslinger packs, and was over the moon when I was finally able to create the vision I had for One Hit Wonder’s costume from the beginning, which included the fishnet stockings and flames pattern on her skirt that I wasn’t able to do when I first started playing the game.

One Hit Wonder's costume

One Hit Wonder’s costume

So what’s really great about my idea to attempt to recreate pieces from the City of Heroes costume creator is that not only can City of Heroes players cosplay their characters, but people who never played the game can use the pieces to create their own costumes, or even just wear as everyday clothes!  Check out some of the costumes I made for my characters in this album on my Facebook page.  As you can tell, I enjoyed coming up with new outfits for my character Stacey to wear when she went to the Pocket D to hang out at a Cape Radio show.

To give you a few other ideas of what types of costumes I am planning to be able to make, I went through and created a few “basic” outfits in grayscale.

Barbarian costume

Barbarian costume

Cheerleader costume

Cheerleader costume

Club Dress

Club Dress

Genie costume

Genie costume

Gunslinger costume

Gunslinger costume

Retro Sci Fi costume

Retro Sci Fi costume

Schoolgirl costume

Schoolgirl costume

Steampunk 2 costume

Steampunk 1 costume

Steampunk 2 costume

Steampunk 2 costume

Steampunk 3 costume

Steampunk 3 costume

Steampunk 4 costume

Steampunk 4 costume

Valkyrie costume

Valkyrie costume

Witch costume

Witch costume

These are just a few of the pieces I’m going to be working on in the upcoming months.  I’ll mostly be making items I can model myself to begin with, so I’m working off the female model here, but there are plenty of nifty ideas for the guys too.  And of course, if any of these give you ideas for something similar, I am happy to do custom orders.  I’m also working on some ideas for period garb for SCA events, as I’ll be a merchant at Birka in January, so there’ll be another post soon with more details on those designs.

Now, about that chance to win… my IndieGoGo campaign ends on December 30th and as of the writing of this post, I am $210 away from my goal.  So I decided to add a little incentive… if I’m able to reach my goal, I will draw a name and that person will get to choose between a full cosplay outfit, a Rewondered wedding dress, or a $500 gift certificate to my Etsy shop.  And if I’m able to raise at least $1210 in the next three days, I will double all the rewards and pick two winners!  How do you get your name into this drawing?  First, each $5 contributed will get one entry into the drawing (in addition to the perks already outlined in the campaign).  This includes everyone who has already made a contribution.

You will also get an entry for sharing the following image:

If you click on the image, it should take you to the image on Facebook, where you can click Share and post it on your own page/profile.  If you don’t have Facebook, you can share the link to this blog post, but please come back and post the link to your share in the comments here so I can keep track… if I don’t know you shared, I can’t enter you into the drawing!

Unfortunately, I can’t hold the drawing if I don’t reach my goal, so please make a contribution and share as much as possible.  We may only have 3 days left, but we can totally do this!!  Thank you so much for your help in spreading the word! 🙂

Reminiscing: It Wasn’t Just a Game

On Friday, November 30th, I did my final show for The Cape Radio in Paragon City.  It was tough, but I managed not to blubber my way through it.  I was amazed to peak at 93 listeners and even more amazed when I heard that our high listener count for the day was 341, blowing away our old record of 312.  I hope everyone will continue to listen to The Cape Radio as we play other games.  If you missed my show, you can get it here.

I’ve written before about the ending of City of Heroes, when I first heard about the plan to shut it down.  My grief back then is nothing compared to what I’m feeling now.  I knew it was going to hurt, but I feel like someone close to me has died.  I can’t stop crying, I can’t stop going through the various Facebook Groups dedicated to players of the game.  I’m adding friends as I put the character and global names together with their real life names, and others I might not have really known in game, but we’re sharing the same grief right now and that gives us a common bond.

I went to bed early on Friday night just so I could grab a few hours of sleep before getting up at 1:30am to log back into the game to be there for the final moments.  My global friends list was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the chat scroll was moving way too fast for me to keep up with.  So many names I hadn’t seen in years flew by.  My supergroup was gathering in the base for one last group photo, so I headed there and took my place for the picture.  Then I lost connection to the mapserver.  Frantically, I tried to get back in, but I just kept getting kicked back to the login screen.  Finally, I chose another server, and was able to get back in game.  But I wanted to be HOME.  It didn’t feel right to be on any other server but Virtue.  That’s where I’ve always played, where all my friends were.  But at least I was able to talk to them through the global channels.  It was something.

Then I heard one say they’d gotten back on Virtue!  I logged out and tried again.  Nothing.  Tried again.  Still nothing.  It took me about five tries before I, too, got back on Virtue.  I was in the Echo of Galaxy City, in Gemini Park, at the rock where I did my first Cape Radio show from.  I moved over to where the big group of people were, and sent out a “hugs everyone” emote.  So many people I remember from 8 years ago, when I first started playing this game, and the role-players would gather in Gemini Park.  I was always on the periphery of this group, not exactly a member, but they were always nice to me and included me when I tried.  I received hugs back and tells welcoming me.

I heard that many of my friends from The Cape Radio were gathering in the Pocket D, and I wanted to go there, but I was afraid if I tried to move to a new zone, I would mapserve again, like I did when I went to my supergroup’s base.  So I stayed put, and sent out tells and chatted in global.  I decided to send everyone in my global friends list a hug, and got many hugs back.  I was holding up pretty well until I sent Mercedes Lackey a hug, and thanked her for her efforts to try and save CoH.  She sent back “But it wasn’t enough” and sobbed on my virtual shoulder.  Her heartbreak was so clear to me, and mine just split in two at that moment and I completely lost it.

And then the worst happened.  At seven minutes until the scheduled shutdown, I mapserved again.  NO!  I frantically tried to log back in, but was getting kicked back to the login screen again and again.  Finally, I made it back in to the queue and looked at the time.  3:01am eastern.  What?  I was in the queue, and actually moving up it, but wasn’t the game supposed to close at midnight pacific time?  Amazed, I watched my character come back into Gemini Park, just for a second, and then I got the pop up “You have been forcibly disconnected. The servers are shutting down.”  We had been given an extra five minutes or so, but that was it.  It was over.

I went over on Facebook and posted “And that’s that. RIP City of Heroes, and thanks for all the memories.”  I cried as I saw similar posts, as so many on my friends list have played this game.  I was told Twitter was exploding as well, so I went over there.  My phone rang, and it was Detra.  I said hello, and immediately started crying again.  Detra and I share the experience that City of Heroes helped us find our true selves, so we both understand the devastation the other is feeling.  So much of who we are is tied up in this game, it feels like we’ve lost a body part.  Our hearts and souls have been ripped out, all because some company decided we no longer fit with their vision.

So what do we do now?  We do what I’ve always advocated: hold on tight to your dreams.

We fight to try to get NCSoft to sell the IP and another company to buy it and give us an awaken.  Check out Task Force Hail Mary on the Titan Network, headed by Mercedes Lackey.  They’re attempting to convince Disney to purchase City of Heroes, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll try the next company on their list.

We show NCSoft what real heroes are all about by donating to Real World Hero and blowing all their previous records out of the water.

We share our memories of the game and each other on Facebook, The Cape Radio Forums, The Titan Network Forums, our blogs, and anywhere else we find to post them.  Feel free to add your memories or links to them in the comments here.

As for me, I have a new mission.  I have always wanted to try to recreate some of the costume pieces available in City of Heroes.  I have cosplayed my own character, One Hit Wonder, a couple of times, but had just modified some existing pieces to be similar to her costume.  I was never 100% happy with the results and planned to eventually make the entire costume from scratch.  I’ve decided to not only put this plan into action, but to start making as many of the City of Heroes costume pieces “in real life” as I can.  My idea is to make the individual pieces, which can then be mixed and matched much like you would in the costume creator program.  But in order to to this, I will need some help.  First of all, I need screenshots of costumes from City of Heroes.  Please send them to rewondered@gmail.com and don’t worry about flooding my mailbox.  I have plenty of room there. 🙂

Secondly, I will need supplies.  So I am redirecting the focus of my IndieGoGo campaign toward this project and getting ready for Birka.  In the end, I hope to have a wide variety of costume pieces suitable for cosplay, SCA events, and even everyday wear.

So if you can toss even $5 in toward this project, it would be greatly appreciated.  For those wanting a memento of your character, this would be a great way to get a piece or two or even a whole costume, since you’ll get a free item and a gift certificate to spend in my Etsy shop, where I’ll have these pieces available.  Check out the campaign and my post on redeeming your rewards for more information.

I will be continuing to work on my Five X Fifty posts, and you will likely see some CoH and SCA stuff sneak in to those.  I have several items I need to get photographed and listed, but I need to unload my car from yesterday’s craft fair, and of course it’s started to rain.  Sigh.  I guess this just means I can get started on researching those City of Heroes costumes, huh?  🙂

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