On January 19th I kicked off one of the most fun weekends I can remember. I hopped on a plane and flew down to Jacksonville, Florida to attend the Supernatural Convention. I went to spend a weekend getting my nerd on, I ended up making new friends, and enjoying the hell out of life. I've been sitting on it for a few weeks now, just trying to process the whole weekend. I was going to try and write an eloquent post... but there is just too much to share. So instead I'm going to share memories. Snippets of my weekend. Settle in and get comfy- this is going to be a long one.
Panels: The panels for the con were super fun and it was great to see the actors interact with each other and also with the fans. The weekend kicked off in high gear with Rich and Rob wearing their I <3 KOC shirts for Kings of Con and it basically stayed at that level all weekend. If you haven't watched Kings of Con, you should. Head to www.comic-comhq.com and get a subscription. Watch the show and enjoy. It's so incredibly funny. Don't miss Kings of Conversation on YouTube either. you will be highly rewarded by the last episode. I promise.
Julian Richings and Gabe Tigerman's panels were both a big surprise for me and they were super entertaining. 100% of the people who went to Chicago Pizza for lunch were there because Julian talked about it for a solid 10 minutes in his panel.
Mark Pelligrino and Alaina Huffman both totally won me over with their panels. I was a fan before the weekend, but I left as a much bigger fan of both. Alaina was charming and entertaining. Mark was so interesting to listen too- the man has a definitely point of view and he had a few quotes that stuck with me. I can't specifically remember what prompted these statements- but at one point he said "Always ask why. Reserve the right to say no." and "don't let other's squash your joy". That's just solid life advice. Plus, at one point he announced that he was an atheist and as a fellow atheist it was really cool to see everyone just accept that. This is one hell of an accepting family.
Mark Sheppard was more sassy then I imaged he would be and he spent the entire panel wandering through the audience, alternating between throwing snark at people and absolutely melting into a puddle of mush whenever he encountered a baby.
Jim Beaver was also really entertaining and he spoke a lot about the show, but also his writing, which was really interesting. A few answers he gave out totally stuck with me. One, that when Sheriff Shelby (on Justified) said "Balls" it was a little bit of Bobby coming out and two, when asked if he took a souvenir from the show he responded with "What I got from the show had nothing to do with stuff." Which I thought was a great answer.
Jason Manns came out for a panel and not only answered questions, but sang a few songs. I lucked out in that the ones he sang are two of my favorites. First he sang Stand by Me and then he sang Hallelujah with Rob Benedict. He is such and amazing singer and it was really cool to see him live.
Rich, Rob and Matt had a really funny panel as well and it made me miss Kings of Con like crazy (I repeat: Go watch it) and there were some great sound bites from this panel as well. When asked how Chuck would return, Rob said "Sam or Dean would pray and I walk around the corner, eating a bowl of cereal... in my boxers." (I approve that choice) and when asked what song would describe each of them we got this tidbit: Rich "Dirty White Boy", Matt "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" and Rob "Short People".
Misha's panel was a roller coaster as he talked about a myriad of topics while also letting us know that he was very distracted by politics that day as the inauguration had just occurred and Women's marches were going on at the same time as his panels and ops. Of course he also somehow magically willed his phone to ring at the exact moment he was trying to make a point about unplugging for awhile, which resulted in an adorable phone call on speaker phone with his Mother-in-Law who seemed absolutely delightful!
Jared and Jensen's panel was really amazing. It is completely clear that these people really do love each other and their banter made it feel like we were all just part of the family. A few moments really stood out- After running up to the stage Jared was a sweaty mess and they asked for a towel. Norton threw a towel over from behind his drums and Jared joked that it smelled like cheese head (since Norton was in his Packer's gear). Jensen immediately devolved into a fit of giggles, because like any good 12 year old, hearing someone say "it smells like cheese-head" is funny. Jensen told a story about his stunt driver putting Baby in a ditch and nobody but Jensen can drive baby now. When asked what their professional wrestling names would be they eventually settled on "The Flying Squirrel and Moose the Noose" which is perfect, although Jared's first suggestion of "The Nude Moose" is pretty stellar as well.
I live tweeted the whole weekend and while I'm sure I am missing stuff in this very brief recap, you can find more stuff (that was written while it was happening) and pictures from the panels on my feed.
Karaoke and the Saturday Night Special:
I love karaoke and even though I didn't get to sing (it's a random draw- maybe next time!) it was still a blast singing along with everyone whose name was called. There were a few highlights- Matt Cohen's strongman costume launched a thousand tweets and a brand new hashtag (#mattsmooseknuckle) and I appreciated the hell out of the fact that he owned it all weekend. The best song of the night was easily Baby Got Back which resulted in my discovering the joy that is Hayden Lee. He came to the con with Jason Mann's and even though it wasn't technically his song to sing, he threw down with both lyrics and some sweet moves. It was amazing. (Go check Hayden out- buy his music)
The Saturday Night Special was an amazing concert. I'm a newer convert to Louden Swain and up until this point I honestly wasn't sure that it was really my cup of tea. You know how sometimes you love a band and then you see them live and you're just "meh"? And then sometimes you stumble across a band live and they blow you away? Louden Swain is that second type. I liked their music ahead of time, but it wasn't on permanent rotation on my Spotify. Seeing them live was a total game changer. they are phenomenal live. I walked away completely hooked on both She Waits and Medicated, and I now listen to their new CD almost every day now. (go buy it!). On top of just the fun of the concert, it was also a fundraiser for Random Acts and their Nicaragua project to build schools. Between the people streaming online and the donation in the room, we raised $70,000+, which speaks volumes about the good that this cast does which has extended to the whole SPNFamily. When someone needs something- we show up.
Photo Ops: For me this was what the weekend was for. I had a few friends scoff at spending money on pictures, but that's not really what you're spending money on. You're spending money on memories. My autographs were for a different reason (more on that later), but ops were all about getting some face time with some of my favorite actors to take a picture that I'll have forever.
After my super fun Rich and Rob Photo Op, I knew I was going to want more ops, so I headed to the table to see what I could snag. Lucky for me there were a lot of choices. I walked away with Rich, Rob, Matt and Gabe Tigerman ops to add to my haul. Next Convention (Hello DC!) I'm hoping they have the Karaoke Op again because I really need that in my life. It's the one op I regret not having this time.
The three other ops that I came in the door with tickets for were Jensen, Jared and Misha. Getting to do pictures with them was so much fun and slightly surreal- it's such a quick process and they are exhausted (I was in the 200's for my ticket numbers), but for the most part they make you feel like they really do want to take a picture with you and the results were (mostly) awesome.
For me autographs are kind of a weird thing. I don't place a whole lot of value on them. As far as I'm concerned, pictures are where it's at and that's where I'm making my memories. However, for autographs I had a plan. Like I mentioned earlier, my leadership team is working with Random Acts this year on several projects and we have a yearlong initiative on kindness. I work in a hard, inner city school. We are failing (grades wise) and just recently got off the persistently dangerous list. There is a pretty decent chance that we will get closed down at the end of the year and re-open with new administration and 50% of our staff will have to leave. A lot of my kids come with more baggage then any kid should. Still, they all bought into our Month of Kindness and it was a huge success. On top of that, I also have a lot of kids who are just huge Supernatural fans. So instead of getting autographs for me- I got them for my kids. I brought the collage from our Month of Kindness that showed every kids who participated with what they did that was kind and I had all the actors autograph that. I LOVED sliding that poster across the table and explaining it to the actors. They were all great about signing it and taking a minute to acknowledge that Supernatural and their good works were helping students in my school.
By far though, the highlight was Misha's reaction. He looked pretty tired and his line was moving at a pretty good clip, so when his handler slid the picture to him I said "I'm going to give you a 10 second summery of this picture" and literally spit out as much info as I could, telling him that these are good kids who deal with a lot and that Random Acts supported us and it was a huge deal. He stopped and pulled the picture closer and said "Stop. I need to know more about this. I can't believe I haven't heard this story! Tell me more." So I slowed down and for a few minutes I bragged on my kids. He pointed to specific kids and I told him some stories about how excited these kids were. Kids who normally are getting in trouble were running into the library and telling me about how they did something good. How the Month of Kindness not only spread good deeds, but also let kids be proud of themselves. I told him that I can't fix our grades in a year, and I can't stop our school from closing, but he and Random Acts really were helping us do what we can to make it a little better. He was genuinely interested in my kids and our program and I walked away knowing that no matter how off my photo op had been, this was the Misha that I really admired. The one who does great things to try an make the world better, the one who cared enough to stop me and slow me down so he could learn more about my kids. It really was an absolute highlight of the weekend and after seeing how stoked my kids were when I hung that poster up and told them about getting the actors to sign, I am so glad that I made that choice to get autographs for them instead of me.
On a more selfish note, my Louden Swain autograph was a personal highlight. I was on Saturday and I was snagging a quick, unplanned autograph in the merch room. When I walked up to he table Rob asked how our picture came out and it took me a solid few seconds to realize that he was asking about the Three Man Tango with rich from the day before. Why would he even remember that? With all the other stuff happening and that he is in charge of it really struck me that he not only remembered, but cared enough to ask. It had been 24 hours. He didn't need to ask me anything. He could have just signed my shirt and I would have moved on, but he did ask and it meant more then I expected.
And here's the thing, and it's reference in the title of this post. I was there as a fan. That's why we all were there. Spending more money then we probably should to meet actors from a TV show. For me I traveled from NY alone to spend 3 days nerding out with fellow fans. While I was there though, I didn't feel like a fan. I felt like I was coming home a bit. I felt like I was with a huge extended family that I didn't know I was missing out on until we were all the sudden together. I was worried because I didn't know how my anxiety might fare in a situation like that where I didn't have my normal anchors around me, but it was never even a concern. I immediately felt welcome and at ease. I made friends with the people I sat with, people I met in line for ops and even the volunteers who I saw all weekend. On Sunday I hugged more people then I would have anticipated and due to the magic of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, we are all keeping in touch and talking about the next Cons we plan on going to. Prior to the Con I would see the #SPNFamily tag used, but it didn't mean much to me on a personal level. Now when I see it, or when I use it, it really means something. While you are at the convention and even after you leave, you really get the sense that you are 100% part of the family and that it actually means something.
It was an absolutely amazing weekend and I'm so glad I chose to go and I can't wait to go to another one!
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