The Last Supernatural Con of the Decade – Jacksonville 2019

 

Jacksonville is a great venue for a con, with the vendor room in a gigantic brightly lit room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river. I was fortunate to have my friend Christina with me at the vendor table all weekend, along with other friends who stopped by to chat or bring food and a latte or give me a bathroom break. I always leave conventions feeling so warm and fuzzy about this fandom, and this cast, and this show. Maybe because we all knew this was the last con of the decade, there were even more warm and fuzzy feelings than usual – along with some anticipatory sadness, knowing the end of the show is coming.

The con kicked off, as it often does, with a panel by Rachel Miner. Rachel always makes me smile, so it’s a good way to start the day.

One of the things I love most about Rachel is that she’s a bona fide geek, just like so many of us are. She spent a few minutes sorting her colleagues ala Hogwarts.

About Billy Moran?

Rachel and Rob: Slytherin for sure!

Rachel: I’m a big Dr. Who fan. I’d love to be on that crossover. I feel like that’s why we all connect, because I’m such a nerd.

She’d also love to see Meg team up with Rowena.

Fan: Double sassy!

Rachel: Meg and Dean are also alike in some ways. Snarky and afraid of their feelings.

I also love that Rachel is a proud shipper – of Meg and Cas – but also a vehement supporter of ship and let ship (or don’t ship at all).

Rachel: Everyone should ship who you want, but I ship Meg and Cas and in my fanfic version she would never turn on him.

Rachel l had some kind words for Rob and the work he’s doing as Chuck.

Rachel: I think Rob is doing such a great job. We should all be extra nice to him, because he’s still a great guy – he’s just a good actor!

She also had nice things to say about the Supernatural set, and how special it is.

Rachel: I’ve never had that feeling of being taken care of on another set, and that feeling like you’re doing something important, but not self important, as on the set of Supernatural.

She’s also very excited to have Shoshannah Stern back. Shoshannah has written another project for her and Rachel, which is doubly exciting!

On a more serious note, Rachel acknowledged that life is sometimes hard.

Rachel: It’s okay to feel like life is really hard because sometimes it is, and don’t beat yourself up about feeling that. And then you can move on and notice what joy there is right here. It’s work to find that joy, though. It’s not easy. You’re allowed to feel your feelings, and also take time to find the joy in even moments that are difficult.

How can you describe the SPNFamily?

Rachel: We take care of each other, and that’s a model for the whole world.

Jason Manns did his traditional “quoncert” next, playing some tunes and answering some questions.

Someone asked him how he got Jared Padalecki to sing on his Christmas CD.

Jason: I was up in Vancouver recording Jense, and Jared was hanging out and I was like, well, you’re here if you want to record a song…no pressure…

Good job, Jason!

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Supernatural In The Nation’s Capital – DCCon 2019!

 

Finally writing up the last two cons of 2019 now that we’re on the last day of the decade!

All Supernatural cons are emotional when you’re as big a fan of the show as I am, but the Supernatural convention in DC at the beginning of November was emotional for a different reason. Jared Padalecki was unable to attend after the incident at one of his Austin bars the week before, and Richard Speight Jr. was also not there since he was busy directing. It’s been a long long time since there was a con without both Jared and Jensen, and fans were both sad not to have Jared there and simultaneously supportive of him doing what he needed to do. And I always miss Rich as emcee even though whoever steps in for him – and Rob of course – always do a stellar job. Nevertheless, this con turned out to be a wonderful one full of good friends and good memories.

This is the other “local” con that I can drive to, so I headed out ridiculously early on Friday morning and made my way to Crystal City, Virginia (the con is not actually in DC, despite its hashtag). I picked up my friend Kathy, my OG fellow Supernatural fangirl with whom I wrote my first four books on fandom and the show, and we drove there together. Kathy and I were joined at the hip for my first five or six years of Supernatural fandom, and all our early misadventures were chronicled (confessed to?) in the book ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’. It seemed fitting that I brought some of those and our other early books on the show along with Kathy there too. We set up in the vendor room and people who came by to get one of those earlier books were surprised to get both the authors’ signatures on their copy!

Friday was a crazy day at the con since everyone was frantically trying to trade in their photo ops with Jared in them for something else, and in the mayhem I never managed to do that. I had a J2M op and, unlike my usual, I actually had something special planned, so I was bummed. Especially because it meant I had no photo ops at all (that was my only one) and wouldn’t even get to give Jensen or Misha a hug. Fangirl problems. Luckily one of my wonderful friends offered to let me join her Jensen photo op, so I did at least get to say hi and get a hug from one of them after all! Fandom takes care of fandom.

Kathy and I got to the con so late that we missed the first few panels, including Rachel Miner’s, Jason Manns’ and Gil McKinney’s, which I was very sad to miss. It’s been a while since Gil has been at a Supernatural con, and I miss having him there. Luckily he did another panel on Saturday, and I got a chance to chat with him and catch up a bit later that afternoon too. Gil wrote a beautiful chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, and I just miss him. Thanks for bringing him back, Creation!

Courtesy Blevan Photos

It looks like Jason and Rob and the band did a bang up job with the intro, if these photos by fellow fan Barb are any indication. Rob in those glasses, mmmm. And a non-blurry shot of Billy Moran! Barb is clearly a better photographer than me – thanks for sharing, Barb!

Courtesy Blevan Photos
Courtesy Blevan Photos
Courtesy Blevan Photos
Courtesy Blevan Photos

I also missed Jeffrey Vincent Parise’s Friday panel. From the looks of Barb’s pics, it was a fun one!

Courtesy Blevan Photos
Courtesy Blevan Photos

did catch some of the Ladies of SPN panel, which is invariably inspiring and amusing in equal amounts.

Lisa Berry told the story of auditioning for Supernatural — for like ten years!

Lisa: I was a huge fan. Never give up on your dreams.

Someone asked about favorite episodes.

Kim Rhodes: I love the episode where Dean can talk to dogs. I like dogs…

Literally everyone: Yep. We love you, Kim.

Briana is often asked about body image and self esteem and she always has some wise words.

Briana: Keep working on your body, but even more work on your relationship with yourself.

Also, Lisa and Briana hair appreciation moment. Gorgeous.

Perhaps the most exciting thing we heard in that panel was that Wayward Podcast is now represented, and Kim and Briana will start doing live podcasts coming soon! If you haven’t listened to it, check it out – it’s like an antidote to the depressing and frustrating and artificial world out there.

Like these ladies.

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Supernatural Returns to Toronto – An Emotional Torcon 2019

 

Toronto is always a special place for the Supernatural gang to come back to. It was the con where long ago Jensen came back onstage after everything had wrapped up and picked up an acoustic guitar and sang a few songs for those of us lucky enough to still be in the ballroom. It was the con where Rob Benedict had his stroke, and his fellow Supernatural cast members saved his life. It was the con where, the very next year, Rob’s friends all put on a concert in his honor as he continued to recover and the Saturday Night Special started to become the emotional thing that it is today.

I love the hotel where it’s at and the hot dog carts and Tim Horton’s right outside and getting to see some fellow fans who I only encounter at this particular con. This year was no exception – and we got more Ackles songs, not exactly laid back and tentative anymore though.

Friday kicked off with Rachel Miner, as always. It’s a good way to start the day.

Rachel: I chose acting because it seemed like the best way to get to magical realms is the most Rachel Miner thing to say ever.

She also had some interesting things to say about the show and about the way in which fans interact with the show, which I always appreciate.

Rachel: I think Cas will be happiest if he feels he’s done some good in the world, so that’s what I want from him.

But she was quick to point out that’s her interpretation, just like the fact that she enjoys the idea of Megstiel.

Rachel: When it comes to shipping, my imagination is not your imagination, and it’s all okay. I like Meg and Cas together though!

And if you ship something that’s never on the screen?

Rachel: If you don’t like the way writers take something, you have the creativity to imagine the story the way you like it. When I was younger, I’d get very emotional about characters I loved, and that helped me.

My phone was on the wrong setting so I got absolutely no decent photos of Rachel, which makes me sad :/

Next up was Jason Manns. He and Rob and Billy did some Station Breaks, but at first Jason was oddly reluctant to hand over his guitar to Rob – turns out it was to cover up the sweat spot!

That threw Rob into a fit of laughter, which was adorable.

Rob and Jason were so pleased that some of us sang along to the “three ibuprofen headache” line in “Gone”, which was also adorable.

Then we had some Jason “quoncert”.

Jason on picking the songs for Covers With Friends: I keep a running tally of songs I think would be fun and who might sing them.

Next up were the OG Friday fluffers, Chad Lindberg and Gabriel Tigerman.

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Supernatural New Jersey 2019!

 

New Jersey is my “home con”. That means I can load a bunch of boxes of books into my car and drive there – and then hope I can find someone to help me get them all up the long long ramp and into the convention center!

I didn’t really need to worry, because as always, fandom comes through. I was on my own in the vendor room officially, but dozens of people came by on a regular basis to check on me and see if I needed a bathroom break (to the ONE bathroom for the entire convention center….don’t get me started about how much I hate this venue…) or a hot dog or another bottle of water. Two of the nicest women ever helped me wrangle a luggage cart from my nearby hotel and load and unload the boxes of books to and from my car. Another lovely woman delivered my photo ops right to my vendor table so I wouldn’t have to go grab them at the end of the con. The entire weekend was full of the best of SPNFamily, honestly. I met so many people who have read Family Don’t End With Blood and been inspired by it. I got to have dinner with my friend Trish from Attitudes in Reverse (one of the charities that the book benefits) and with a fellow acafan who’s teaching a course on leadership and Supernatural and her inspiring student.

As we got ready for the final season of Supernatural to kick off, everyone seemed to want to just relish our time together while we have it.

Friday kicked off with Rachel Miner, who always starts the con off with smiles and sparkles and words that inevitably make me feel better about people and life in general. I love the chapter that Rachel wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, and the way she looks at the world.

Rachel on what it’s meant to be part of the SPNFamily: Everyone in this group are abnormally good humans.

Rachel advises to keep reminders of whatever it is that inspires you. She keeps pictures on her computer, some of them from fans.

She also talked about the importance of finding community and being able to help each other, something that Random Acts has done for many fans.

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Always Keep Fighting – A Message of Hope for World Suicide Prevention Day

As a psychologist, I’ve had the privilege of helping many people come out on the other side after considering suicide. As a psychologist who researches fandom, I’ve experienced firsthand how the television shows and films and bands and books and celebrities we love can also inspire us to keep living, and how the supportive community of fandom can provide a safety net while we fight through those difficult times.  What those two realms of experience have in common is someone else encouraging us to talk about it. Not to keep those thoughts and feelings and hopelessness to ourselves, but to share it so that someone can help us through. There is still a tremendous amount of stigma and shame around talking about suicide, and there’s nothing more important than changing that. I teach my students who are learning to be counselors every the importance of creating a safe space within which their clients can share ALL their feelings. I’m honored to work with Attitudes in Reverse to try to erase that stigma and start the important conversation.  I was also honored to be able to work with some of the people I proudly fangirl (the cast of Supernatural, my favorite television show) to put together a book that shares their most private, difficult to talk about, even shameful feelings – to inspire those who read the book to also share theirs. None of us can find the help we need without first opening up and letting someone else know we need that help.

On World Suicide Prevention Day, I wanted to share some of the messages from that book, Family Don’t End With Blood, that people have told me have helped them to “always keep fighting”. Some are from the chapters written by the actors and some are from the chapters written by the fans, because there’s tremendous wisdom in both. It can help to know that even the celebrities who we idolize have fought through debilitating self doubt, depression, insecurity and anxiety. It can help to know that other fans, who are just like us, have struggled with the same – and how they managed to keep going anyway. Every time someone tells me, or tells Jared or Jensen or Misha or anyone else, that reading what they wrote in this book saved their life, it means so much. So here are a few of those messages, in the hopes that they’ll keep inspiring us all to keep fighting.

The chapter that Jared Padalecki wrote is the longest one in the book, by far.  More than 30 pages long. He worked on it for almost two years, repeatedly wanting to add to it and edit it even though I kept saying that it was already amazing. He knew, I think, that if he didn’t have the courage to share the depths of his own experience with depression and anxiety honestly, that his chapter wouldn’t help anyone. And so, courageously, he did. I still can’t read it without crying. Over the years, countless fans have told me the same – and that Jared’s words are the ones that inspire them to ‘always keep fighting’.

Jared writes about how the fandom and the show have changed him, about his struggle with anxiety and not feeling good enough, about the times he’s broken down. In one powerful part of his chapter, Jared writes about the time he pushed himself to go to Europe for a convention at a time when he knew he wasn’t okay, but didn’t want to let anyone down. When he found himself with one day free and looking forward to going to the watch museums in Geneva – only to realize the one day he was there was a national holiday and they were all closed – the pressures that had been building for a decade overwhelmed him. Here are a few small excerpts from his chapter:

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