n7day

Today is N7 Day and if you know me or have stuck around this blog in the couple of years, you’ll know this is something of a personal holiday for me (and many others I’m sure). I’ve written about N7 Day before, how I was led to Mass Effect and what the game and Commander Shepard mean to me. This year, Mass Effect made a pretty important impact on my life in a very big way.

I mentioned it in passing, but I haven’t actually written about the fact that I got married early this year. My husband is an incredibly patient and geeky man who also loves Mass Effect and all things Bioware (he’s the one who got me back into playing SWTOR again). Because we are both huge nerds, we got married on May 4th (Star Wars Day!) and had a small but geeky wedding with friends. Our themes? His was Star Wars (he wore a Star Wars tie, had his lightsaber on hand, and his cake was a life-size BB-8 cake that had sounds and a working lighter – I’ll post his side of the wedding later). Mine, of course, was Mass Effect and it was all over the place. Here are some of my favorite highlights (photos courtesy of our AMAZING and TALENTED photographer Mary Lynn).

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Mass Effect helped turn my life around in a time when I wasn’t doing the best. I was struggling to find purpose. Jake and I bonded over our love for video games and he is one of those people who understands the importance and power that a good story can have in someone’s life. He’s a writer, he knows this. So he has never batted an eye over my passion and connection with Mass Effect. He encourages it. He wasn’t surprised at all when I told him my theme for our wedding would be Mass Effect (and I, in turn, knew that he was going to choose Star Wars before he even told me). We get it. I tell him all the time that he’s my Garrus. “There’s no Shepard without Vakarian” is a phrase commonly heard in our household.

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Of course we had Mass Effect cosplayers at our wedding!

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My Squad. <3

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Me and my bestie Lee who is mostly to blame for this whole Mass Effect obsession. We are trying for our badass Shep faces here. **Trying.

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Garrus & Shep.

I’m so incredibly lucky that Mass Effect has impacted me so much and, in some ways, brought me together with the man I married. (I doubt I ever could have married someone who didn’t like Mass Effect.) He’s always 100% paragon and I’m always 100% renegade so we balance each other well. I’m so thankful to him and the many friends I have made because of this game. I love the Mass Effect/Bioware community. Thank you for giving me Shepard and a ship to call home (whether it’s the SR-1 or SR-2). This game, and these people, mean the galaxy to me.

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Handfasting with our Xbox controllers.

Today, Bioware is releasing news about their upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda title that is coming out in early 2017. I have been beside myself with joy at the idea of going back into space and becoming a new N7 officer, with new friends, new enemies, and new places to explore. I am at a new place in my life, and I’m curious to see how this new game impacts the new journey I am on. I know it’s going to be a good one. Bioware has never let me down and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.

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Happy N7 Day everyone!

National Teddy Bear Day!

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Me and my Hobbes

It’s National Teddy Bear Day! Hobbes here is my oldest and dearest of friends. We’ve been together since the very first day I came to exist in this world (meaning he was given to me the day I was born). In that regard, he’s probably a lot older (and wiser) than I am. So I take his guidance into careful consideration. Today he has advised that we stay in bed and I’m not one to argue. Thanks for always being here for me, Hobbies. You’re the best.

“The history of the Teddy Bear is believed to have started in 1902 with President Theodore Roosevelt on a bear hunting expedition in Mississippi. During the hunting trip he refused to shoot a defenseless bear cub. This story was circulated and was eventually captured in a political cartoon by Cliff Barryman. The image then sparked shopkeeper Morris Michtom imagination and he created the first known stuffed bear in President Roosevelt’s honor.” – Teddy Bear Day

My favorite famous Teddy bear has to be Winnie the Pooh. That seems like a pretty common answer, but I grew up on the books and I can’t help but continue to love this silly old bear. I read them all my sisters and I will read them to my own kids if we ever have any. Happy National Teddy Bear Day!

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My Dream Loot Crate: Fierce Space Women!

Monthly treasure boxes are pretty awesome. I love them. My husband loves them. We both get our own every month. Some people get nature boxes or dog boxes or make-up boxes. I get a geek box. I love Loot Crate because every month has something I’m excited to get. I’m also a big fan of their Firefly Crate because… because Firefly. There’s no other reason. It’s Firefly. But I often wonder, if I could make the ideal box, what would it be?

I mean other than the Mass Effect Crate they already created.

Well, oddly enough, friends from Loot Crate wondered that same thing! What would people love to see in a Loot Crate of their own making? And I’m happy to give them an answer. I know exactly what I would want in a Nikki-themed Loot Crate: FIERCE SPACE WOMEN! Yeah. I said it. Fierce Space Women. Are you surprised? Here are a few examples of what I’d have in my Fierce Space Women Loot Crate.

Garnet Funko Pop

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Garnet is my hero and my favorite of all the Crystal Gems in Steven Universe. Steven Universe has quickly become my favorite show in TV. Every theme, every story, every character has been built with love and affection and a deep understanding of human nature and kindness. And Garnet is the epitome of Love and healthy relationships and there is no equivalent in the Universe to who and what she is. I love her with every fiber of my being. She is (they are) the fiercest of all Space Warriors.

Princess Leia Socks

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I think when most people think of a fierce space woman, they immediately think of Princess Leia. Or General Leia. She is incredible, strong-willed, and stubborn and doesn’t take no for an answer (unless she wants it). She is and always will be Leia the Huttslayer. (A little off topic, but have you read Bloodline by Claudia Gray?? Best version of Leia to date! It was so good! Please read it!) Anyway, I freakin’ love this illustration and to see it on a pair of socks?! Yes please. What a great way to ground yourself in the reminder of what a great woman can be.

Jaylah Beyond Poster

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So I have a lot (A LOT) of feelings about the new Star Trek Beyond movie that I should probably make an entirely separate blog post about, but suffice to say that my FAVORITE thing about the whole movie was Jaylah. I was so in love that directly after we got out of the theater we ran over to my comic book store and I got the Jaylah funko pop (which is why I chose Garnet instead of Jaylah for that one). She is just so perfect. Independent, intelligent, loves loud beats and shouting. She’s just so badass and I definitely wanted to make sure she was on this list somewhere.

Liara T’Soni T’Shirt

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Like Garnet, Liara is a fierce female-esque alien from outer space who loves humans (and the whole Universe) and has dedicated her life to saving the galaxy. I have blogged many times about my love for Mass Effect it shouldn’t come as a surprised that I would include someone from the game series on this list. Actually I’m totally fine if we replaced Liara with Tali because I love both so much, but this Liara shirt has been on my list for awhile so she won out. Plus that whole Shadow Broker thing is pretty fierce.

SPACE JEWELRY!

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I love this necklace so much and since this is my dream crate, I’m adding it here. Cuz I can. Isn’t this just beautiful? I think every fierce space woman should have some fierce space jewelry (or not if jewelry isn’t your thing, that’s totally cool too!). So even if my loot crate doesn’t have this particular piece of finery, I’d love to see SOMETHING that represents space that I could wear. Maybe a meteorite rock or something? I don’t know. Just something pretty.

Wonder Women Book

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Hey, did you know that there are REAL fierce space women?? Yeah, not all of them are in movies or video games. AND THAT’S SO COOL. My awesome friend Sam Maggs wrote this book called Wonder Women that is coming out in October (but you can pre-order it now) and in this book she talks about a bunch of amazing and talented women who have changed the world, including some crazy fierce space women. I think it’d be super important to include something that will remind everyone that women really are kicking ass in space and STEM-related fields.

And there we go! Those are just a few things I would include in my dream Loot Crate box.
What would you include in yours?

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Happy International Women’s Day! I’m actually more fond of what they refer to it elsewhere: International Women’s Rights Day, but regardless of what it’s called, this is a wonderful day to celebrate the amazing women in our lives that have inspired and motivated us. I have a lot of personal female heroes. So many that it was really hard to narrow it down so I limited myself to women who are currently still on Earth making it a better place while they live and breathe.

Mae Jemison

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How could I not choose Mae Jemison? She (along with Sally Ride) has been such a guiding star in my love of and yearning for space travel. Mae Jemison was the first African American to ever travel to space PLUS she’s been on Star Trek so she has most definitely boldy gone where no man has gone before (it’s extra cool because she was first inspired to join NASA because of Nichelle Nichols’ character Uhura). Not only is she an intelligent scientists, she’s also a talented dancer, and has founded numerous companies and foundations to advance technology in every day human life. Learn more about Mae Jemison.

Michelle Obama

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As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has been pretty much everywhere in the past eight years. Her dedication to improving the health of our nation’s children and passion for community gardens have been inspirational. She is one of the few First Ladies to ever directly address the issue of childhood obesity and her “Let’s Move” movement has been a huge success in schools. The Obamas even built the first garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt AND had beehives installed on the South Lawn. Her motivation is astounding and I am constantly floored by all of the projects this woman has going. I am so sad that her time in the White House is coming to an end, but I know that no matter where she lives, she will continue her good work. Learn more about Michelle Obama.

Jane Goodall

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When I was in sixth grade, we had to do an oral book report. Most kids just stood up front and read from a piece of paper. But me? I was already a little ham (and a nerd) – I dressed up as Jane Goodall and did a report on Through A Window, complete with a stuffed Gorilla at my side and lots of crouched over antics impersonating Jane impersonating the gorillas. Jane Goodall isn’t just someone I admire now, she had a very large impact on me growing up. I even ended up going to college to become and outdoor educator like her. Jane Goodall’s books and teachings have opened our eyes to the animals around us and have been instrumental in how we perceive the natural world. Her work is deeply inspiring to me and her words continue to remind that there is still a sense of wonder to be found in our planet Earth. Learn more about Jane Goodall.

Commander Shepard

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Okay so she’s not a real person but I am not limiting this list to just reality. Commander Shepard means a lot to me. Her courage and her commitment to getting things done no matter how hard and long the battle is are an inspiration to me over and over again (no matter how many times I play these games). She’s a reminder to keep going when the going gets tough. She’s a leader and a friend and a hero to not just humanity – but to the whole galaxy. She is fearsome and snarky and always willing to get the job done. She’s there for her friends when they need her and she knows just what to say to piss the right people off. My Shepard might be just who I want her to be, but she’s who I want myself to be too and through her I can model my own action and remind myself of the path that I want to follow through life. She is a survivor and a reminder that I am too. Learn more about my love for Commander Shepard.

Nellie Jeninga

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Now this is a name that most people probably won’t know. Nellie Jeninga was born and raised in Heerlen, Holland in 1935. Growing up, she and her sister loved to perform and sing and eventually became quite good at it – they were even recorded and had a very promising future. But Nellie was headstrong and in love. In 1958, she threw away her fears and followed her heart to Toronto, Canada to be with the man she loved. She left behind her country, her home, her family and everything she knew for a new continent with people who didn’t speak her language. It wasn’t the last time her stubborn nature would lead her on adventure. In 1961, Nellie, her husband, and their two children moved to the United States, to Wisconsin, in the middle of a severe snowstorm. Settling down in Wisconsin didn’t stop her tenacious thirst for travel though and over the years, they would often pack up the kids and roadtrip around the country. She passed down that wanderlust and bravery to her oldest daughter (another of my personal heroines) who then passed it down to her daughter. Which would be me. Nellie Jeninga is my Oma and my favorite person in the world (that’s us in that picture). She has never let fear stop her from following her heart and she has been the steadfast rock in my life that I can always come home to. I am proud to say I have her bravery to travel and experience the unknown and I most definitely have her stubborness and headstrong nature. Because of this, I have to add her to my list of inspirational women because she has made my life better over and over again. I love her dearly.

Happy International Women’s Day!

These are only five of a very long list of women who are important to me. Others include Sally Ride, Madeleine L’Engle, Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley, J.K. Rowling, Laverne Cox, Grace Murray Hopper, George Sand, Audrey Hepburn, Ada Lovelace, and so many many more. Thank you for paving the way and making it known that women can do anything they absolutely want! We are strong and empowered and we have a voice. You can find out more about Internation Women’s Day here.

Who are you celebrating today?