Saturday, October 27, 2012

Where I am at

This is a post that has been kicking around in my head for quite awhile now I have just been trying to work up the nerve and motivation to just do it all the time as it deals with some of the more depressing areas and aspects of my personal life but at the same time it is also in a sense a story of victory over at least some problems and I think the people that have helped get me to where I am at deserve some sincere thanks.  Once again I will apologize for my awful grammar as this being more personal will probably be harder to write and therefore more prone to these kind of errors.

This is a story of how Felicia Day, The Guild, Chris Pope, Twitter, Kenny Mittleider and Podcasting in many ways saved my life both figuratively & probably literally as well but that is the end of the story to understand how we need to start at the well not the beginning (as that would be too long to explain) but at a beginning.  A few years ago (I honestly can't remember exactly when this was I will explain why later) I was working but struggling alot with depression, self-worth & self-esteem issues which I have had for most of my life in some respects I was living my life on a rickety scaffold that was helping me to be functional and keeping the depression from consuming me.  However I was fired from that job and that more or less collapsed the scaffold that had been keeping me going along with that a few other things happened at around the same time which further beat down on my self-esteem and self worth.  In response to all this I think some part of me realized that I was heading for real danger and so as a self-defence mechanism I fell into a pretty deep state of apathy as if you just don't really care about anything then whatever happens to you doesn't hurt you as you don't care so while it did effectively eliminate the pain my depression/self-worth problems were causing me it came at a very high price.  I don't know that I can really explain the full impact of being in such a state of apathy as I honestly really didn't care about much I never really talked to anyone unless they initiated it and even then I wasn't really there, I only ate when I had to keep my body from getting too annoyed at me, I didn't go out or do anything unless I was seriously pushed to do it, I spent most of my time trying to find things to help pass the time but even with stuff I used to really enjoy I found I lost most that enjoyment and only really continued with it as it was familiar and did indeed help pass the time.  While I was in this state I didn't really keep track of time as one day would blur into the next and one week would blue into the next so I honestly couldn't tell you how long I was in this state and even now looking back it has seriously screwed with my ability to determine when things happened before that.  

I think it was around the start of the summer of 2010 that I started to find that there were times when I'd start to pull out of the apathy a little and want to try to start moving forward however as the apathy waned the pain and stress of depression/self-worth would start to return and would generally plunge me back into the apathy.  

I think it was around the beginning of Fall of 2010 when I was in the middle of one of these times where the apathy had waned and I was looking for things to watch on the internet when I saw a video called 'Do you want to date my avatar' by The Guild in my list of suggested videos on YouTube.  I had been playing WoW (or World of Warcraft) since it's launch and so I had heard of The Guild in passing but not much more then that.  So I figured I'd check it out since I was bored and didn't have anything else to do.  Even though I knew almost nothing about The Guild I still got quite a kick out of the video as it was joking around with alot of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) staples so I figured I would go and actually watch The Guild since I enjoyed the video (which was a rarity for me those days) so I started watching it and after watching the first 2 and half seasons in one go had to tear myself away so I wouldn't screw up my sleeping schedule anymore as it was very early in the morning at that point.  Needless to say as soon as I got up the next morning I went and finished watching the available episodes (I think they had finished season 4 at that point) after I finished watching them (and really enjoying them which again was rare for me at that time) I was curious to learn more about the series and that is when I heard about the story behind The Guild and how Felicia had gotten tired of not getting to do what she wanted as an actor so decided she was going to write herself a part in something and thus created The Guild.  

This actually really resonated with me as I was also at a point where I was tired of going nowhere and kinda wanted to try to start moving forward again and so I started looking for all the interviews I could find of Felicia to learn more about her and how she had been able to do this and to try to learn a little more about her as a person.  Learning about her story combined with the fact that I was already at a point where my feelings of apathy were lessened gave me the strength to start to fight against slipping back into the deadening apathy once again.  I knew that if I was serious about this I wasn't going to be able to do it alone as I knew I would eventually just get overcome by depression etc again and fall back in and since at this point I didn't really have any solid social contacts (I can't blame them though I mean I completely dropped off the grid) I decided I would try to get a little more involved online as I did talk to a few people from my WoW guild online and so thought I'd see if I could find any other like minded people online to start trying to get myself out there in a sense and work on my by then very rusty social skills.  After listening to one of Felicia's interviews where she talked about Twitter gave her the opportunity to communicate with people she otherwise wouldn't have access to gave me the idea to actually join Twitter and to use it to reach out and thank people I otherwise would have no contact with such as actors in TV shows I enjoyed so I joined and tried to find some of the actors I knew of in TV shows I enjoyed and whenever I watch an episode where I thought they did a good job I would send them a short message to tell them that which also helped me a little as it is always nice to let people know they are doing a good job (Trust me no one knows the value of a compliment more then someone that doesn't like/hates themselves).  I also decided right there at the beginning that I was going to keep my own tendency to be negative off of Twitter and only send something if it was positive or uplifting in some way that way it would only be a help to me.  I also figured I would start my search for places I could find a community off by looking into the community which had formed around The Guild so I joined the community site they had setup and started joining the chat room they had setup there and actually met a bunch of cool people alot of whom I later started following on Twitter which helped it become more of place to have conversations instead of just sending out messages from.  

One of the times I was in the Guild chatroom they were all talking about a live podcast they were looking forward to so I ended up deciding to go listen to the podcast with them which ended up being Tech Barbarians which is hosted by Chris Pope and Mark Eoff which is the first time I was introduced to Chris and it just so happened that the guest they were interviewing was Jenni Powell who at the time was the cohost of Knights of the Guild which was a recorded podcast she did with Kenny and so that was the first time I was introduced to the other two people who would play a large roll in where I am now.  After listening and enjoying the live podcast I figured I would check out the Knights of the Guild podcast and really enjoyed it both Kenny and Jenni are wonderful and delightful people who would joke back and forth between the shows segments.  I just want to take a minute to try to describe Kenny as he is just an amazing guy, he just seems to have a natural warm and friendliness about him that just makes you feel welcomed and note I got all this just from his voice as I was just listening to audio podcasts.  The Knights of the Guild podcasts became kinda of a refuge for me as I would listen to them and feel accepted and happy and would generally end up laughing alot as well.  As I continued listening to them I started to send in a few pieces of feedback which is something I had never done before but I figured since this podcast had become important to me I would thank them for it.  Also Kenny & Jenni usually read the feedback they got on the show so hearing my name on the show was also pretty cool and helped me feel more connected so I continued to send in feedback although over time it was just to make Kenny happy as he always liked to get feedback and I started talking to him on Twitter and on Facebook at this point and has become one of my best and closests  friends online. 

As I have mentioned I am a pretty big video game player so while all this was happening I also found out that Chris Pope also did a live podcast with voice over actors from TV and video games and so started listening to that as well as continuing to listen to his Tech Barbarians podcasts and so got to know him more and befriend him but also I started to talk to few of the people that I regularly noticed were at the live podcasts as well and so through that my circle of internet friends widened again with Twitter being the hub of most of my contact with people now.  Chris then told me he was planning on starting a podcast based around WoW which I had played for years with Russ (one of the guys I had met and become friends with through the other podcasts), Maria who was an experienced player who had been raiding in WoW for awhile (as had I) and then finally Teal who had never played any MMOs before but who I knew as she had played a character on The Guild and that he wanted to have a Guild in WoW which was connected to the podcast and if I wanted to join them in that guild so I did and through that and the podcast called I Hearth Geeks I got to know both Maria and Teal and so my group of internet friends expanded even further (Teal has also created her own webseries called My Gimpy Life which is awesome so please check it out on YouTube).  

There is one thing I also forget to mention was that back when I was first getting into Twitter and the internet community I found out through twitter that the cast of one of my favourite TV shows Stargate Universe was coming to Toronto and that Innerspace (a local geek/review/news type show) was doing a special with the cast and a live audience and so I ended up being able to go to it (I wrote an earlier blog entry about it if you want to know more) but I really enjoyed it.  It was also the first time I had ever had the chance to actually meet any of the actors I admired so that combined with all the excited talk I would hear about conventions and how much fun they had attending them from my new group of friends especially as they planned for SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) 2011 led me to look up and decide to attend Fan Expo 2011 (this is also why I know this all started the year earlier) which ended up being an amazing experience which I really really enjoyed and why I attended three conventions this year including Fan Expo again and have really enjoyed them and actually met some awesome new people this year through watching another webseries called Pretty in Geek which is pretty funny and I highly recommend checking it out as well on YouTube.

These people all helped me to be able to fight against the urge to just slip back into apathy and not bother with trying to sort through my problems with depression and self-worth and the pain and stress that comes with them and so in that sense they figuratively saved my life as let's be honest existing in that sort of apathy isn't really living it is merely existing.  As for how they may have literally saved my life? well without those three key people I probably wouldn't really have any online friends and I honestly can't believe that I would have been able to keep just existing in that state of apathy forever as eventually something would come along and rip it away and if that happened without the support system I have now I don't know what would happen but it is definitely conceivable that I would commit suicide (as I have thought of it before but never acted on it) and so by providing that support system they may have literally saved my life. 

All I know is that I will be forever grateful to Felicia Day for having the nerve to follow her dream and then to share the story and be such an amazing role model for people like me.  Not only that but every interview or video I see of Felicia being herself just deepens my respect for her which I just love.  I am also thankful to her for giving a reason to join Twitter through which I have been able to do things I never thought possible and so I stand as a living example that telling your story and being yourself can positively impact people even if you have no idea who they are and have never met them as Felicia has for me.  

I also want to thank both Chris and Kenny or the Podcasting Kings as I like to call them :) for not only being amazing friends themselves but also for introducing me to so many other awesome geeky people who have become my friends and part of my social framework.

I am sorry this is so long and probably at time rambly and I am sure chalk full of grammar and spelling mistakes but I didn't know any other way of doing this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Awesomeness of a Liveathon

Well it has certainly been quite awhile since I have added anything here but but between an awesome experience I had recently, more about that to come, and a conversation I had with a friend who is a superb blogger himself has convinced me to take another shot at it.  I think I should here warn that I am not always the best at expressing what I feel and generally when I try grammar is the first casualty so please forgive that as I often have trouble writing these so tend to write them in quasi-stream of consciousness. 

It all started this past Sunday as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my day and saw a message from America Young who is an actor/stuntperson whose work I quite enjoy (check out Geek Therapy on You Tube and you'll see why!) mentioning a 60 hour livestream she was going to be doing in order to try to Geekify one of her friends, April Wade, in support of a movie they were going to be making together called The Concessionaires Must Die.  As I am myself a geek I thought it sounded interested and so figured I would check it out.  This rather quickly went from something I was going to watch for a bit to something I watched all day to something I was glued to for every second I could possibly watch it till it was over.  I am not really going to go over exactly all of what happened during the Liveathon, as it was dubbed during the stream, as I would much rather talk about the experience of it as in many ways I think that is what is the most amazing about it.  If you are curious to see what the schedule was for it it is still posted on their site here The Making of CMD Liveathon they managed to stay mostly on schedule but as with anything done live some changes needed to be made.

What made this livestream so compelling wasn't just that America and April were great & entertaining hosts (Which is far tougher then it sounds as not only were they trying to introduce April to things she has been resistant to but also entertain the people watching via the internet, especially when they were watching movies/tv shows where they couldn't show them for copyright reasons, but they also were trying to raise money to support the movie they are making which adds its own demands as it requires frequent explanations as to what they were doing, what is the movie about, why should you donate.  So while it sounds easy 'Watching movies and tv shows while being filmed how is that hard' there is so much more involved) nor the fact that they had alot of great, entertaining and energetic guests & friends but it was that through their interactions with the chatroom and the interactions with other people in the chat room it came to feel much more like meeting a group of people at a convention and having a sense of connection that only grew stronger as the livestream continued to the point where I now follow a bunch of these people on twitter so that I can continue to communicate with them despite the fact that the livestream is no over.  We had some trolls, pervs and other internet undesirables show up but I love that we as a group in the chat room would either flag them or ignore them or do whatever we could so that they wouldn't disrupt the livestream.  In many case we became the ones that took over the explanations and calls for donations when the people actually on the livestream were busy with what they were doing as we had become fully committed to what they were doing at that point.

On a more personal note I am usually not a very social person, I tend to be rather shy and I have massive problems with self worth and self esteem and as such I usually have alot of difficulty making new friends but by the end of the livestream I felt I had actually made some friends on the livestream such as April who I had never heard of before but now I think is absolutely awesome, America who I only really knew of through her work on webshows but now I feel like I actually know the real America a little and John Keating who was one of the guests who was in most of the livestream as a friend of America and April.  However that wasn't it I also felt like I made friends with some of the people in the chatroom such as Angie who is a published author of a number of books, who has alot of the same tastes as me in TV and video games and who incredibly stayed awake for 69 hours straight in support of the liveathon and others that I look forward to getting to know better.  In fact I felt so supported and encouraged by the liveathon that I actually went and sent friend requests to some of them on Facebook which I know sounds trivial and dumb but for me it is actually quite a big deal as I have been avoiding anything that might possibly involve rejection like the plague out of a fear that seems to have claimed my life but even though I was still quite scared and nervous about even that I was actually able to do it thanks to the confidence that the liveathon had given me.

So I would just like to say a deep and heartfelt thank you to both America Young and April Wade, and to all the amazing guests they had come join them for the Liveathon and to Angie and everyone else in the chatroom that made this such an awesome and encouraging experience!

If you would like to learn more about the movie they are making you can find that here The Making of CMD and even though they raised and amazing $6,550 towards their goal during the Liveathon there is still time for you contribute to this amazing project! They have more information and some amazing perks here Support CMD