I’ve been a fan of Bioware for years. I played KotOR in college and when I discovered Dragon Age: Origins around 2010 I was hooked. It quickly became my favorite game – I hadn’t had a game obsession like that since Kingdom Hearts in high school. It was everything I wanted in a video game – fighting, pretty outfits, making out with hot female assassins and men soon to be king, lots of blood, and some really cool concept art. I was convinced there’d never be another game like it.
In 2014, I went through some major life changes. I was still reeling from the end of a six year relationship, I was living alone for the first time ever (and for a short while, living out of my car), I had just lost my job of two years, and my life was in shambles. I started making bad choices and things were spiraling towards a not very good place for me. I had no idea how to pick up the pieces. It’s times like that when escapism comes in handy and my escape was into video games. My friends Lee and Meg were in the throes of a game called Mass Effect and since it was by the same people as Dragon Age, I figured I’d give it a shot. It took while to get into the first game, but with their constant support and reassurance that it was going to get better, I pushed through. By the end of the first game, I was a fan. I thought it was a good game. Not the best. But good enough that I was curious about the sequel.
Mass Effect 2 changed everything. From the death of the Normandy SR-1 to the retrieval of one handsome Garrus Vakarian to defending and adopting Tali to making every renegade and paragon decision and making sure that every single member of the team made it through the suicide mission, the whole game was non-stop action and fun and I texted Meg and Lee throughout the entire thing. Their response? Wait till you play ME3.
I thought they had prepared me for how Mass Effect 3 would impact my life, but I was completely and utterly unprepared for the influx of feelings. The hard decisions. The devastation that followed even the best of them. The night I finished, Meg coaxed me through my tears and helped me accept that it was all over. I was a mess. It wasn’t until that very last day that I finally admitted that Mass Effect was better and more important to me than Dragon Age. But it was. Because of Shepard.
Commander Shepard. Through everything that happened, she remained as steadfast and certain of her beliefs and her morals and her duty to humanity and every living life form. She refused to break. When she was shot, she got back up and kept fighting. She made the hard calls when she knew she’d get shit for it later. She backed up her friends through thick and thin and despite all the darkness she went through, her heart was still good. She was still herself. Still just as fiercely imperfect as anyone, but stronger for all that she’d seen and done. In the end, she always selflessly did the right thing. She was, and is, everything I strive to be. She became a beacon for me when I was lost, alone, and struggling to find my place in a world I had never really navigated on my own. She was a survivor in every sense of the word. And she was me. I was making those decisions. Everything she did was because it was what I would do. And in being Commander Shepard, I learned a lot about who I was. And who I had the potential to become. I saw myself for the first time as someone who was worth it. Worth living a better life for. And up until that point, I wasn’t making the best choices for myself. Commander Shepard was a turning point for me.
I know people will laugh. They’ll shrug it off. It’s just a game. It is. It’s just a game. But it’s also more than that. I became a better person because of this game. Because of Commander Shepard. Because of the writers at Bioware who understand human nature and the choices we are forced to make. The hard ones. Bioware changed my life for the better. I was a fan for a long time. But now I will always be a champion for them and the games they make.
To me, N7 Day is the perfect reminder of how far I’ve come in life. It’s reminder of who I want to be. Today is a day to celebrate the Commander Shepard in me. In all of us. I am a survivor and it reminds me to fight for the things I love. N7 Day means a better life, it means becoming closer to my friends, it means knowing that there’s more out there and that I should never stop reaching for my dreams. N7 means strength. It’s why I have it tattooed on my right wrist. So I can always see it and remember that I am strong. That I can get through anything life throws at me.
So thank you Bioware. For Mass Effect. For KotOR & SWTOR. For all the Dragon Age games. For characters like Liara and Iron Bull, Garrus and Sera, and so many more. Thank you for turning my life completely around when no one else could get through to me. Thank you for making me stronger. Thank you for making N7 Day a thing so that I have a day to celebrate that strength every year. But most of all, thank you for giving me Commander Shepard. You have no idea how much I needed her. Thank you.
Happy N7 Day everyone!
A little over a month ago I was in glorious San Diego with my fiance, drinking local beer and eating some of the largest portions of food I’ve ever had (like seriously, California you sure don’t know how to portion control – I thought Texas was bad). San Diego Comic Con has been a bucket list item of mine for EONS and finally, after years of trying, I managed to score both of us tickets. And it was everything we could have ever hoped for.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted – there was just too much to do and look at and I think most of the time I was just walking around with my eyes opened wide trying to take it all in at once (that’s what she said). I had actually hoped that maybe SDCC wouldn’t be as great as everyone says it is so I’d never want to go back, but sadly (happily), this was not the case and I am planning on going back next year because you can’t just go once. It’s like getting a tattoo – it’s now become an addiction. I need more SDCC in my life.
And because I already miss it so much (Was I really just there last month? It feels like a dream.), I am going through all the pictures I did manage to take and I’m living vicariously through Past Nikki and feeling all the feels again. Here. You can feel them with me.
For the last few months, my feelings about marriage were conflicting. Wait, let me say that better. My feelings about my sudden newfound ability to get married were conflicting. I had only been in relationships with women for about nine years before Jake came along (and yes, I realize I haven’t updated in almost a year – A LOT HAS CHANGED). I always thought that if I were to get married, it would be to a woman I love. Therefore, marriage wasn’t something we could have without a fight. When Jake asked me to marry him back in April, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I wanted to, but it came with a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I slowly began to recognize as guilt. All of a sudden, I had a right that I hadn’t had for a long time, simply because I was with a man. I hated how easy it had suddenly all become. There was (and still is) a lot of identity struggles over my now seemingly hetero-looking relationship, but this is what brought me the most guilt. But just because I now found myself with the law on my side didn’t mean I would stop trying to change that law. And when Jake and I started planning our wedding, we immediately started incorporating LGBT-support into it – we found equal rights stickers to put on tables, rainbow ribbons for guests to wear, and we were going to put out tip jars to nonprofits working to improve the rights of queer couples. We are still planning on doing as much as we can, but there’s a huge difference now.
Love won. Love won and now every couple can walk through those doors and marry the partner of their choosing, regardless of gender. I woke up to texts and emails and just lay in bed sobbing because I didn’t believe this would happen. I’d grown cynical over the years and didn’t actually think it would happen. But it did. Nothing will change in regard to the support we will show at our wedding, but the knowledge that love has won this day will make our day that much more special. I may not be in a same-sex relationship anymore and maybe some think this should no longer matter to me like it did before, but it does. In a way, it matters to me even more now because in no way was my last relationship of six years with my girlfriend (and domestic partner) less legit than my relationship with my fiancé now. I remember being with my girlfriend and crying over how unfair it was. And when Jake and I started planning out our wedding, it hurt over how easy everything was – how unjust that we could just do this because we LOOKED like a straight couple. I love him with all my heart but it wasn’t fair that suddenly I could have this just because he’s a man. It made me angry – angrier than I had ever been about marriage before. It wasn’t fair. I’m still as queer as I was before I met him and I vowed to never give up on this fight.
And now we won. The battle has been won. The fight is far from over, but today, love won out. And this right to get married and be recognized is shared by all couples. My heart is so full this morning. I don’t think I can adequately explain all the feelings I have inside but today I feel whole. I should not have doubted. I am so glad that the Supreme Court proved me wrong and that there is more good in the world and in our justice system than I gave them credit for. It is a good reminder.
Today love won. Love is genderless and fluid and beautiful and now it is recognized. I think today I am going to spend some time working on our wedding site in celebration. Rainbows and glitter and unicorns for everyone!!
Today I got a call from my friend Connor Cochran, owner of Conlan Press and business manager of my other friend, Peter S. Beagle, with some really exciting news. Y’all know I’m a huge fan of The Last Unicorn and everything Peter’s ever written, and you may also know that I’m a TLU tour volunteer and B&B for Pete and co when they visit Austin. So when Connor told me about the latest TLU news, I almost had a heart attack I was so flipping excited.
Ladies and gentlemen, the rumors are now more than just rumors – as of today, it has officially been announced that The Last Unicorn Broadway Musical is being created. A MUSICAL OF THE LAST UNICORN! Can you believe it? I’m so excited! Here are a few notes about the upcoming Tony-award winner (I have faith):
- Ed Rutherford, a Chicago director, will be teaming up with Peter to write the script.
- Josh Duhamel and Fergie, along with Connor and indie film producer Lauren Sands, will be producing it.
- Fergie and Peter will be bringing on other songwriters to come up with the music.
- There is no timeline set yet.
- Peter and Connor will be on hand at New York Comic Con to discuss this stage production.
- This is pretty much going to be the best musical ever.
So there you have it. A Broadway musical in the works for one of the world’s most beloved fantasy stories. I get chills just thinking about it. SO EXCITED!
And don’t forget – The Last Unicorn Tour is still going on. As we speak, Peter and Connor and co are in my homestate Wisconsin, meeting friends and fans and having a great time. I wish I could be there with them, but I’m holding down the fort until they come back to Texas (April!). If you get a chance and you’re on the route, go and meet them and see The Last Unicorn in theaters. It’s an amazing experience.
“The true secret in being a hero lies in knowing the order of things. The swineherd cannot already be wed to the princess when he embarks on his adventures, nor can the boy knock on the witch’s door when she is already away on vacation. The wicked uncle cannot be found out and foiled before he does something wicked. Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a very long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
Of course it’s one of my favorite holidays ever. So in honor of today, I am watching my favorite movie pirate (Long John Silver) in my favorite pirate movie ever (Muppets Treasure Island). And forcing my cats to walk the kitty plank into the bathtub – they do not find my humor amusing.
“Hey ho ho
It’s one for all for one
And we’ll share and share alike with you and love you like a son
We’re gentlemen of forune and that’s what we’re proud to be
And when your a professional pirate
You’ll be honest brave and free
The soul of decency
You’ll be loyal and fair and on the square
And most importantly
When you’re a professional pirate
You’re always in the best of company!”
– Muppets Treasure Island
My favorite real life pirate? I have a soft spot for Henry Morgan (you have to admire a pirate that actually makes it retirement), but of course my favorites are Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Honestly, did you think I’d have any other answer? They were the badass sirens of the sea. And Calico Jack was a pansy.
Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!