Crossing Off a Bucket List Item: Iceland 2018!

On March 1, 2018 for one week, I will finally get to visit the birthplace of my husband. That’s right. Jake and I are finally going on a honeymoon and we’re going to the place he first called home: Iceland. It’ll be the first time I’ve ever left the country and one of my biggest bucket list items. (He’s happy because it’s been a few years since he was last there and he really wants me to try the hot dogs — I’m really happy because I want to see my Northern Lights and March will be the last good month for them.)

We’ve been doing a ton of research to make sure everything from the hotel, to the public bus service, to the tours and the flights are wheelchair accessible (I may have failed to mention it, but I’ve been in a wheelchair since January of this year). Everyone I’ve talked to, including accessibility travel experts and the tour agents, have been so incredibly helpful and have reassured me that none of this will be out of my capabilities. We are staying downtown, the flight there isn’t too long, and we’ll have a comfy hotel for me to take many naps in. I am so excited that we’re making this happen and it’s giving me something to look forward to outside all of my medical issues. And Jake is excited he finally gets to share his favorite place with me.

In honor of this little excursion, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite photos of Iceland that my best friend Lee Jaszlics took on their recent trip there. Lee is an incredible photographer and I’ll be sharing more of their work in an upcoming post (think of this as a preview).

If you like any of these photos, prints can be purchased on Lee’s SmugMug Iceland gallery and you can see more of gorgeous Iceland on their Flickr page. Make sure you also follow Lee on Twitter!

2018 is going to be a good year. 💙❄️

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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!

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!

Love wins!
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.

Love Wins!

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!!