The last 24 hours have been a quiet one in our household. Yesterday I broke the news through tears to my husband who then wandered the house repeatedly mumbling “Shit, shit shit. Well shit” to himself before disappearing into the bedroom to take a 3 hour nap (this is how he processes things). I cried myself to sleep next to him. We both idolized Carrie Fisher. The engagement rings we wear around our neck say “I love you” and “I know.” The His/Her towels in the bathroom read the same thing. Images of Carrie as Leia Organa are in every room of our house. Posters, book covers, my favorite coffee mug, even the handmade fleece blanket on our couch. She has been my hero since my dad first watched Star Wars with me when I was a kid. She’s everywhere I look. There’s no escape.

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Not that I want one. I want her in my life forever. A constant reminder to be as unapologetically me as possible. Wild, crazy, loud, truthful. A princess. A huttslayer. A general. A queen in everything she did. Her acting made her famous, her words made her inspiring, her personality and boldness made her larger than life. My fierce love for her spirit doesn’t end with her passing. She made it her mission to be honest about everything: her life, her mental illness, her past. She was an open book and never once apologized for it. I want to live like that. I’ll work towards that. To be an advocate like her. To be a beautiful, wise, fierce warrior princess with wit and charm that strike as sharply as a blaster pistol. It takes work. But Carrier Fisher did it all. The galaxy is emptier now without her.

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“I laugh a lot, actually. A lot. I’ve gotten to an age where I enjoy my life. I’ve spent enough time struggling with it, and at this point it’s living on one side of the magnifying glass; I stay on the side of making big things appear small. I enjoy myself and I have a lot of good friends, good relationships. You learn to get there. Having gone through a lot of stuff I’ve gone through—I don’t want to do that stuff anymore. I take care of myself best as I can. I do the best imitation of maturity I can possibly muster.” – Carrie Fisher

I will take care of myself best as I can and I will do the best imitation of maturity I can muster. Her legacy will not be forgotten. Thank you for everything, Carrie Fisher. You will always be royalty to us.

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EDIT: 12/28/16 8:00pm – Debbie Reynolds, I’ve just learned, miss her daughter so much, she joined her. I’m stunned. I can’t believe how fast people pass. How easy it is for someone to be here and then just gone. My heart and love and support go out to Debbie and Carrie’s family, friends, and fans. I’m looking forward to 2016 being done. This is just. Too much.

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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!

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?

Reflections of a Snailbird as We Head into 2016

Well this was a year of unforeseen life changes for yours truly. It was an incredible year and also one of the most heartbreaking. A lot happened, good and bad, but I think, overall, 2015 and I are on good terms. There was a lot more good than bad at least. Some highlights of my 2015:

  • Introducing Jake to snow (and my family)
  • Running Catan demos at SXGaming for Mayfair Games
  • Getting engaged to the love of my life
  • Attending SDCC and being nerds with a bunch of old & new friends
  • Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time
  • Having my sister move in with us
  • Introducing my sister to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time
  • Seeing Star Wars and having it be GOOD
  • Getting to be home for Christmas for the first time in 6 years

And so many more. Overall, it was filled with amazing experiences. And as a person, I am vastly different from who I was in 2014. I am healthier, at least mentally (my physical health is always touch and go), and have managed to get my life together and organized and that in itself is a pretty big deal. I have a good family, a good job, and a good idea of where my life is going. I’m happy and decided to do a little reflecting on what I’ve learned this past year.

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Reflection One: The Universe is Full of Surprises

2014 saw me entering into a relationship that completely changed my life for the better with a man of all people (first real relationship I’ve ever been in with a man (I thought I was a lesbian for years (I’m still not entirely convinced I’m not but I love him so))). 2015 saw the two of us getting engaged, driving across the country to meet tons of family, flying to California together for our first San Diego Comic Con, and becoming temporary parental figures to my fifteen year old sister. We’ve packed a lot of life into just a year and I am more in love with him now than ever before and I can’t wait to marry him. May 4, 2016 is going to be an amazing day. Not only is it Star Wars Day, but it’s our wedding day as well, and it’s going to be the geekiest wedding the Universe has ever seen.

I never saw myself getting into a relationship with a man. I NEVER saw myself marrying one. But the Universe brought Jake into my life when I needed him most and what I’ve learned from this is that I need to always keep my mind open to whatever the Universe brings into my life because It usually (always) knows better than I do. And the Universe likes surprises.

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Reflection Two: You’re Never Ready to Say Good-bye

June 1st I had to say good-bye to one of my favorite people in the entire world, and one of the most important: my Opa. It was hard and I wasn’t ready. The silver-lining is that it wasn’t a surprise and he told everyone he was ready to go. But it doesn’t make it easier. He had been a constant presence my entire life – he and my Oma were there for everything for me and I grew up with them. Ted Jeninga was always there with a smile and a joke and a plate of cookies and my heart still hurts so badly to know he is gone. This Christmas was the first time I was able to go home and it was a shock to my system for him not to be there when I walked through the door. It’s still hard to handle. I wasn’t able to go home for the funeral in June because I was still very sick (I was on short term disability from May till July and couldn’t leave the house except for doctors appointments) but my uncle read the memorial I wrote for him and I know it was a beautiful send-off.

But it still hurts. And even when you know it’s coming, you’re never ready to say good-bye to those you love. I still haven’t really accepted it yet that he’s gone and I’m not sure if I ever will.

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Reflection Three: You are Stronger Than You Know

I’ve gone through a lot in my life. I try to use what I’ve learned to help others. Sometimes, this comes back in very surprising ways. This year, it came back in the form of my fifteen year old sister. I won’t go into details because that is her story and only she can tell it, but back in October she came to live with Jake and I and her strength and dedication and willpower to get through all the things she’s been through has been inspiring. And I know she’s been surprising herself with her own strength. It’s been extremely hard for her, but she has pushed through and every day she is stronger and I am so proud of her.

Because of her, I’ve discovered a strength in myself. I go through moments where I’m scared I’m not enough to help her, but through her I am gaining control of my own fears and doubts and just like her, I’m surprised by how strong I am. A lot of it, for both of us, has to do with Jake, our rock, who has been there for both of us and has kept me sane through this whole thing. We don’t ever know how strong we can be until we are faced with difficult choices.

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Good-bye 2015, Hello 2016!

You guys, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited for an upcoming year. Yes, most of it has to do with the fact I’m getting MARRIED next year (almost four months now), but it also has to do with the fact that my life is on track now. Things are going well. For the first time, I’m not entirely in the dark about my own life. Stability is an amazingly underrated thing, and I feel very adult saying that. I love change, but I’m also a fan of having a solid foundation and I have that now. I’ve worked very hard to bring myself back up from a very very low period of time in 2014. So many things have happened this year and I am so grateful for where life has brought me. I don’t regret anything and I would never take anything back, but I feel I am lucky to have come back as well as I have. Things were good this year, despite the sickness and death and rough patches I had to deal with. I know 2016 will have rough patches too but I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us all.

2016 is going to be a year of creativity, of building, of community and of stretching the limits of our imagination – it is going to be MY year and I can’t wait to get to work.

Happy New Year, Universe! I’m ready!

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