Carrie Fisher was valuable as Princess Leia


Rachael: Mom, why are you crying?

Me: Carrie Fisher, the woman who played Princess Leia, died. 

Zoë: No more Princess Leia?

Me: No more Princess Leia.

I’ve been reading posts and tributes to Carrie Fisher on social media, and I’ve noticed something that’s beginning to bother me. 
There seem to be 3 types of posts:

1) Remembering her as Princess Leia

2) Remembering Carrie Fisher as a whole person, including her writing and battle with mental illness

3) Posts which imply that, if Princess Leia is the only reason Carrie Fisher is important to you, then you are a shallow fan who doesn’t really understand how important she was 

Even when something this serious happens, it seems geeks feel the need to engage in one-upsmanship- to be the supreme, everlasting know-it-all. For those not in the know, it’s the way geeks establish social hierarchy and feel better about themselves after being put down and excluded from other social groups for so long.  While Carrie hated being relegated to sex symbol status, she had no problem with fans loving her for being a badass space princess. In fact, I have a feeling that if Carrie were to witness the dumbfuckery people are engaging in on her behalf, she’d tell them to fuck off and go suck on a bag of dicks in a corner. 

Look, I think the openness with which Carrie lived her life helped so many people. She made it okay to be honest and fucked up and mentally ill. She made it okay to laugh, both in spite of your pain and because of it. Anyone familiar with her work and life beyond Star Wars should absolutely share it and how it has been important to them, just so long as it is not at the expense of how Carrie Fisher was important to others. You don’t get to decide how someone impacts another person’s life. You also don’t get to assign value to that impact.

I don’t really remember the first time I saw Princess Leia Organa on screen and how her character affected me. I was around 8, and a lot of my memories are inaccessible to me because of repression. Thanks childhood abuse!  But I do remember the first time I had an incredibly strong reaction to Leia. Return of the Jedi, rescuing Han, and Leia is all alone in that “Gee, I wonder which man made that creepy costume decision” bikini, with space slug mobster, Jabba. Once stuff started going down at the sarlacc pit, bitch didn’t wait around for someone to come get her. She jumped up and strangled that slug to death with the very chain that made her captive. I remember thinking, “Holy shit!  That is so badass!”  

For a long time, until rather recently, that’s who Carrie Fisher was to me. She was the actress who didn’t wait for anyone to come save her and was every bit as important as the boys. I also feel fortunate to have seen Wishful Drinking and to hear her speak candidly, with all the acerbic wit she could muster, about living with Bipolar disorder. And of course her service dog, Gary, is a gift to the world.

Via radiotimes.com

My girls, 5 and 8, still only know Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. At age 4, she was the first princess that Rachael really saw take matters into her own hands. She inspired for Rachael a love of independent, kickass women, which led to the radical notion that women are just as strong and valuable as men.  Just the other night as I read the introduction from her new Women in Science book, and how horribly and unequally they were treated, Rachael declared that when she grows up, she wants to do something to make sure that everyone knows men and women are equal and that women are able to enjoy equal rights. If that’s what comes of only knowing Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, I’d say that’s pretty fucking valuable.

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The Not Blue Stabilizers

Doctor Who

I’m still here. My family and I have just been overwhelmed and struggling with a lot of difficult life events.  I paid my regularly scheduled visit to my psychiatrist today.  I brought a list.  I choked up and cried as I went through my list.  

As I blew my nose and tried not to mouth-breathe too much, my psychiatrist let me know that, just like the Force, my mood needed balance. (She didn’t say the thing about the Force, but if she had, I’d love her more than I already do.)  I’ve already been having trouble keeping it together, and she reminded me that my list was likely to get worse before it gets better. 

Tonight I began a low dose of a mood stabilizer. I had been hoping that they would be blue pills so I could say that they’re the blue stabilizers.  Alas, they are not blue. As I lay my woozy body down for sleep, I hope that my desire for medical geekiness will be the only thing that doesn’t work out. 

Gingerbread TARDISes are cool!

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Before August 2014, I was just a woman with friends who obsessed and squeed over Doctor Who.  I didn’t understand what it meant when someone said that David Tennant was their favorite Doctor.  I had no idea that I could possibly be even more spooked by statues.  And I only had a vague idea as to what a TARDIS was.

Once I finished watching the entire Star Trek: TNG series, I decided that all my geeky friends must be on to something and decided to try it.  I was instantly hooked.  I loved the wit with which each episode was written.  I loved that Rose wasn’t just an along for the ride, do what you’re told, sort of girl.  I loved the jovial snark that hid the deep anguish of Christopher Eccleston’s Time Lord.  It’s probably a good thing that Mike wanted to watch with me, otherwise I would have binge-watched the whole series.  (As opposed to finishing it in 2 months.)

Last year, I made gingerbread houses from scratch for the first time.  I wanted to do that again this year, but change it to something more interesting, more challenging.  A gingerbread Hobbit hole!  Sensing inevitable scream-crying of epic proportions because of such a difficult undertaking, Mike suggested something “easier”: a gingerbread TARDIS.  OF COURSE!  How could I have not thought of a gingerbread TARDIS?  And, as I’m wont to do, I spoke the words that always lead to my doom: How hard can it be?

When I began this blog, I promised I would share triumphs and failures alike.  I’ll call this one a hybrid of the two.  A failumph.  The pieces baked, (my rectangles were 5×9″) well, though not as straight as I would have liked.  The real challenge was getting the royal icing the exact shade of blue befitting a TARDIS.  I had leftover royal blue gel food coloring from Zoe’s 1st birthday cookie monster cupcakes, so I just used that.  
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More accurately, I should say that I just used half a pot of the food coloring, plus some black.  Safe for consumption, but not guaranteed to not turn your liver blue.

Some things I learned
I try really hard, and I know a few things about decorating, but I am by no means proficient at it.  Each horrible-looking project is another chance for me to learn something new to forget about the next time I decorate.  The first thing that I should have done differently is the size tip I used to outline each rectangle.  It was way too big.  Rectangles, that pretty much fit together before they were iced, didn’t fit together properly because the large lines of icing bumped against one another.  It’s part of the reason why I was only able to put together two pieces of the TARDIS.
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The second thing I learned is that, while royal icing is shelf-stable for several days, colors will change.  In this case, the blue became much darker.  It did, however, allow me to learn royal icing surgery.  It finally occurred to my foggy-headed fibro brain, to simply add the white icing to the deeper blue icing in order to achieve the original TARDIS blue I had created.  I would need to remove the dark blue cross pieces from the front panel.  There may be a much better way to do this but, what worked for me was to simply use a food-grade brush to wet the portions of icing that I wanted to remove, and then use a serrated knife to chisel away the unwanted blue.  Once the areas were level with the rest of the panel, I could go over the same areas with the correct color blue.  Water was also an effective tool for spreading icing.  It allowed me to move the icing, which was beginning to harden, to the places I wanted.  I basically painted the crosspieces on with thick icing.
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Remedy less murdery than the Sisters of Plenitude.
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The third thing I learned may seem completely stupid, but I found a way to intersect lines without making them cross.  Crossing any lines always leads to an unwanted bump-ups where they cross.  Rather than crossing them, I soon learned that I should be making L shapes.

I learned that painting with icing and making hundreds of dots can be really therapeutic.  I decided to make the inside of the TARDIS. It’s much more difficult on the inside. Using what I had on hand, I did my best to make the goldish-brown interior walls of 9 and 10’s TARDIS.  (Mostly because that was going to be infinitely easier than attempting 11’s.)  It was a little too yellow, so I painted over it with really watery brown icing.  It gave the brown color the walls needed, without obscuring the gold underneath.  Later I sprayed the insides with edible glitter.  I feel a little bad that I didn’t outline the circles with hexagons, but I felt that would have been obsessive.
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Edible markers are your best friends! Especially with a project that required fitting so many squares and rectangles on the pieces, it was a relief to have edible markers to mark where the ruler said lines should go.  The outside panels weren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than what they would have been, had I just been eyeballing it.

The controls
For funsies, I wanted to see if I could make the TARDIS controls with what I had on hand.  It was supposed to be my gingerbread house, so why not use candy?  The base was 4 gingersnap cookies iced together, with the two on top and bottom cut out into oval shapes.  The center tower is made of mini gumdrops, a peppermint round, and M&Ms.  It’s absolutely horrible….and I love it.

Sometimes you gotta laugh
It’s safe to say that my TARDIS did not turn out the way I had envisioned.  I put a lot of work, care, and attention into this thing, and it came out mediocre, at best.  (And no, I’m not fishing; I know what the final product looks like.)  So, when pieces began falling off and breaking and the panels wouldn’t fit together, I couldn’t help but just throw my head back and giggle hysterically.  I joked that it could just be the TARDIS that Vincent Van Gogh painted.  Ultimately, I had a much better idea*.
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*I’m aware it’s the wrong TARDIS for blowing up.  Just…just…okay?

Geek Girls

I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t know what to make of me. I feel equally comfortable gasping over a gorgeous dress or pair of shoes and correcting someone when they quote Star Wars incorrectly. I have a deep emotional investment in both Hokie football and Doctor Who. I’m a 33 year old woman who is positively squeeing over the fact that, when Mike and I go to Orlando in a few months, I’ll get to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I love super hero movies and think Phil Coulson, (or Clark Gregg even) should be my freebie. I get giddy when I fuck up someone’s Munchkin battle. I was shocked when someone told me that her child dressing up as Spock for Halloween was weird. When someone says they’ve never seen Lord of the Rings, I stare at them blankly because I literally can’t comprehend how that can be true. (Not figuratively. Literally!) I was bothered for several days after Chris Hardwick was wrong about something in Star Wars on @midnight. I didn’t tweet him about it, though. I’m a geek, not a dick.

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Photo by Victory Comics

I was a geek before I even knew that word described me. I was a geek back when the word still had a negative connotation and it was weird that my favorite movie, as a 12 year old girl, was Return of the Jedi. Fortunately, geekery has become culturally normative.
Unfortunately, it’s still weird that I’m a girl woman and a geek. I interact with other female geeks so often that I sometimes forget that it’s still not always okay to use the words “Star Trek” in a sentence. Seriously, you will never encounter a more baffled group of people than upper-middle class suburban moms after you’ve said something geeky.

I’ve been fortunate in that no one has been aggressive toward me for being a geek, but there are plenty of women who have endured verbal and sexual assault and threats of physical and sexual violence. (I won’t even link to the Tweets she screen capped and tweeted because of how upsetting they are. They are truly horrific.) But I have been on the receiving end of stares when I’ve walked into a tabletop gaming store. I have been excluded from gaming, either because the guys didn’t think I’d want to play or didn’t want me there. There have been times when someone has assumed that something geeky belonged to Mike. I have been hurt when people have suggested, or flat out said, that the things I like are stupid or juvenile. And it’s not just me.

“Going to a video game store, the male employees act completely befuddled and stunned when you start speaking intelligently about games or asking pertinent questions that make it clear you are a serious gamer.”

“We also get comments about how we must just be pretending to snare a guy.”

“Yeah, I totally spent months farming materials in Warcraft just to ‘impress a guy.'”

“I ran into a bit of opposition doing admin work for an iPhone game that was a mmorpg. Because I was female, they automatically assumed I didn’t have authority or that I didn’t know as much as the guys.”

“I got a lot of, ‘run along and let the big boys talk'”.

“I’m in database and software engineering… Most of my experiences haven’t been negative but just weird/’you know guys don’t get this crap’. Recently joined a new guild on WoW and a guy immediately has to ask me my hair color.”

“I play a fantasy-style iPad game where you can make your character female, but the NPCs still refer to every character as “sir” or “lad” or the instructions are phrased like your hero is male. It can’t be that hard to program for both options, but it feels like they assume everyone playing is a guy, whether their avatar is male or female.”

“I’ve gotten “you’re too old to like Harry Potter” once or twice…”

I hope that we female geeks will continue, or even begin, to be open about who we are. Even if you’re not a geek in the stereotypical sci-fi/fantasy sense, be passionate and transparent about what makes you happy. Whatever your obsession, be it music, theater, knitting, books, cooking, or fantasy football, be proud of it. May we all be so lucky as to love something enough that it causes us to twitch when someone says something incorrect about it.