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LeakyCon 2013 Anniversary

I wrote the following blog just a few days after I went to LeakyCon 2013 in Portland, Oregon.  It was a year ago, almost to the day, that I was able to participate in this awesome event with some of my closest friends.  It was truly one of the highlights of my life, and I treasure the memories made there.  I am excited to go again, hopefully in the next year or two!  

Anyway, to celebrate this one-year anniversary of LeakyCon 2013, I am publishing this blog post.  For some reason I never published it before; I think I had intended to finish it and just never got around to it.  So, here it is... happy one year LeakyCon 2013 anni!  :)

JULY 6, 2013:

This past weekend, I was among the many lucky Harry Potter fans traveling to Portland, Oregon for LeakyCon 2013!  For those who don't know, LeakyCon is a convention that celebrates all things Harry Potter, and also includes other fan favorites like Doctor Who, Torchwood, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the Hunger Games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sherlock, and a lot more! There was even some Disney stuff thrown in, too... you never know who is going to show up at LeakyCon!


Prior to attending, I honestly didn't even know what LeakyCon was. I had heard of ComicCon, but since I'm not a big fan of comic books, it wasn't something I gave a lot of thought to. I had NO IDEA that they had Cons for Harry Potter fans, nor did I have the slightest clue what a Con would be like. So how on earth did I end up there?


I am a member of an awesome group online where we have an HP role-playing game. In the game, things are set up just like in the HP books and movies: there are the four houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin), and all of the students are sorted into a house. We have rotations that include classes you would typically see at Hogwarts, including subjects such as Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, History of Magic, Care of Magical Creatures, etc. And yes, there is even Quidditch! The way that we all complete our assignments and earn points for our houses is through fiber crafts (knitting, crochet, spinning, and weaving). I've been involved in this game for three years now, and have absolutely LOVED it. In addition, I've "met" some really amazing friends, and we have bonded in real life as well as in the game.

Me and one of my "new" pals, Harry Porker!  I have to say this was an awesome moment; those who know me know I love pigs, so I was very excited to meet this magical guy!  :)


So much so, in fact, that a small group of us decided to meet up (in person for the first time) at LeakyCon. Not everyone who wanted to go was able to go, unfortunately, due to real life constraints, but we are already planning many more trips in the future where we can all get together!

In the months leading up to LeakyCon, some interesting things happened in my personal life. Most notably, I found out I was pregnant in April. This was very exciting and welcome news, but it didn't take long before the "all-day" sickness kicked in. It has been brutal. The nausea has been so bad that I haven't been able to read, knit, crochet, or look at the computer much... all of these activities seemed to intensify the nausea.  Come to think of it, breathing seems to intensify the nausea!  As a result, I wasn't able to complete some of the things I wanted to complete for my trip to Leaky. I had hoped to knit some Hufflepuff items to wear, and make some other HP-related items to take with me. Life happens sometimes, though, and you have to just go with the flow!

This was actually the first purchase I made for my new baby; and I made it at LeakyCon!  How cool is that???


When the day of departure finally rolled around though, I was just beginning the second trimester and although the nausea hadn't completely departed, it was improving. And I felt hungry... all the time! Isn't pregnancy fun!?!?

Some of the delicious food I had while in Portland, from the Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ... they made a pregnant woman VERY happy!
My first night at Leaky was... overwhelming, in a good way! Again, since this was my first Con, I didn't know what to expect. I mean I had an idea, thanks to the input from the friends I would be meeting there and looking through the LeakyCon schedule, but still... you don't know what its really going to be like until you are there!

The lines at LeakyCon:

The first thing that hit me upon entering the Portland Convention Center was the sheer amount of people! I arrived just before opening ceremonies, and the lines were VERY long; snaking through the entire building! Almost everyone was dressed up in various costumes, though the majority of them were wizard robes and vests, socks, ties, hats, scarves, and other accessories that reflected the wearer's house affiliation. Some costumes were more specific and depicted an actual character from the HP world. Throughout the weekend we saw many characters, including Severus Snape, Professor McGonagall, Molly Weasley, Dobby, Fawkes the Phoenix, Bellatrix LeStrange, Fleur Delacour, Hagrid, Professor Sprout, a unicorn, and many more! As the weekend wore on, there were characters from other fandoms as well, including various incarnations of the Doctor, Rose Tyler, Katniss Everdeen, Robin Hood, Elizabeth Bennet, and lots of others! Wearing just my plain maternity clothes, I definitely felt very under-dressed, and am already planning my costumes for the next time I get to go to LeakyCon!

Here is Helga Hufflepuff; the founder of my house!  :)

Once we got into the giant exhibit hall for the opening ceremonies, we were able to see the giant, main stage that was decorated with stars and tree props. The words "LeakyCon" were lit up on each wall, and it started to sink in what an amazing weekend this was going to be! As the ceremonies began, characters from pretty much every fandom imaginable were honored on stage. The skit was funny, charming, had wonderful songs, and was an unabashed, proud celebration of fandom geekery. I admit, some of it went over my head. I'm a 30-something stay-at-home mom of 3, and although I've got a definite online presence, there are apparently social networks out there that I have yet to discover!  (Thank goodness for the group of teens sitting near me in the audience; every once in awhile they would explain to me something, like what a "vine" is, lol!)

Hagrid and I:
It was really neat to see the younger people in the audience, and how they didn't miss a beat. It was obvious they were all very tech-savvy, and the fantastical universes that they were fans of were worlds that they knew like the back of their hands. I turned to one of my friends at some point during the opening ceremony and said, "when I see all of these young kids dressed up as Harry Potter characters and so into it... it gives me hope for this world!" And truly, I was very impressed with the young people I witnessed throughout the weekend. They were all very well behaved, and what really amazed me is that I did not hear a single curse word the entire weekend! I once walked through the hall of a middle school to interview someone, and my ears felt bruised by the constant onslaught of curse words reverberating through the halls. I'm not saying these Con kids are perfect or better than anyone else... I was just impressed by how well-mannered they were. They were a compliment to their generation.

Bellatrix and I:
Before I continue, I have to mention the friends I met up with!  We got to meet up prior to the opening ceremonies and spent the rest of the weekend hanging out, shopping together, checking out all of the sights and events together, and generally having a great time. Meeting them in person felt surprisingly seamless. I have known them online for years, and it was so awesome to see that they were just as delightful, funny, generous, and awesome in person as they are online. I cannot imagine having gone to LeakyCon without them.  Their presence made it so special to me; it was such a great bonding experience!  To me, the world of Harry Potter is all about the power of FRIENDSHIP.  And the fact that I met these ladies BECAUSE of our shared love of Harry Potter and then got to share LeakyCon together is just flippin' amazing.  LeakyCon was absolutely, for me, a celebration of friendship!  In fact, my friends and I already have plans to end up in the same nursing home together! I love these ladies, and can't wait to meet the ones who were unable to attend this year, as well! :)

Here we are, hanging out in-between Con events:
After the opening ceremonies and a little bit of shopping, I was ready for a meal and some rest! I left for the night in search of food and sleep, ready to show up for another fun day on Friday. I spent much of that evening poring over the guidebook, trying to choose which events I wanted to attend the next day. At this point, honestly I was still a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. There is SO MUCH to do and to see, and I felt a little scattered trying to figure out how I could fit everything in! I think this is normal, especially if its your first Con. My advice to newbies (and to myself for next time!) would be to really get to know the schedule well in advance. Though I had been looking at it frequently in the days prior to the event, I hadn't solidly decided which events I definitely couldn't miss, the ones I would like to see if I had time, etc. I would suggest making up your "dream schedule" of what you would most like to do, and go from there. You probably won't get it all done, but it will help to clarify where you want to be. Allow room for spontanaity, as well! Once you are there, things flow differently; so be ready to be flexible!

I got to meet the 10th Doctor; SWOON!!!
On Friday morning, I arrived and started my day with some more souvenir shopping. Then I headed to a discussion group on the role of alchemy in the Harry Potter series. Its a subject I've been interested in recently (thanks to my obsession with Deborah Harkness' novels, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night), and I knew this would be one I couldn't miss. My friends met up with me there, as well. This hour-long discussion was easily one of the biggest highlights of my weekend! The speaker was intelligent, articulate, and every word that came out of her mouth absolutely fascinated me. I actually took notes (Hermione Granger would have been proud!) and I have been telling everyone who will listen all of the awesome things I learned. The speaker was Leslie Barnhouse. I cannot recommend her highly enough! She also brought up one of my favorite HP-related authors (that one of my fellow Leaky friends introduced me to), John Granger. Again, if you are an HP fan and haven't already checked out his books, they are NOT to be missed! I love the analysis of the story, characters, and minute details of the HP world. I can't get enough of that stuff!!!

Doctor Who and Rose Tyler:

After that, I was off to lunch (yes... I ate a lot, lol!) and then came back for an afternoon of fun. I had hoped to catch a discussion on the wisdom of Dumbledore, but unfortunately came back too late for that one. Instead I went with my friends to a discussion regarding the new BBC Sherlock series, where the audience members got to "sort" the characters into houses at Hogwarts. Although I've been meaning to watch the new Sherlock series, I haven't had a chance yet (now I know I am going to love it), so I wasn't super familiar with the characters. That didn't matter. The discussion was lively and fascinating, and I felt I was watching an intellectual tennis match the whole time. There were people of all ages, but again I was so impressed by the younger members of the audience who spoke so passionately and articulately about the different houses of Hogwarts. They had such a keen grasp on the psychological traits and archetypal energies that each house embodies; it was so cool! I loved hearing their opinions and viewpoints, and thought about how cool it was that this thing called LeakyCon exists. Its beyond awesome that all these people, who are so dedicated and passionate about their interests, can come to this place and discuss it, in depth and detail, to their hearts content, with others of a like mind! I was so digging it. Unfortunately, someone behind me had brought in some food that was triggering my nausea. I had to leave a bit early to get some fresh air.

Shortly thereafter, I went to a group meditation session. YES, they even had meditation at LeakyCon! The facilitator briefly introduced meditation for those who have never done it before (I was pleased to see lots of young faces in there who were meditating for the first time... at LeakyCon!!!!!!). He then led us through a very relaxing 20-minute meditation. You could feel the positive, uplifting energy of the group, and the whole vibration of the room was just humming with goodness. It was so refreshing. Afterwards there was a discussion amongst the group, and we talked about different types of meditation, experiences we've had, Reiki, and yoga. As many of you know, I really dig on all this spiritual stuff, and it was so rad to get to experience it in the context of some of my other obsessions. When these worlds collide... magic happens!!!

I met back up with my friends and we went to the main Leaky stage again to see three actors from the Harry Potter films discuss their experiences and their acting lives. This was DEFINITELY another highlight of the weekend! The actors were Ellie Darcey-Alden (who played young Lily Evans in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2), Scarlett Byrne (who played Slytherin Pansy Parkinson in the final 3 films), and Devon Murray (who played Gryffindor pyromaniac Seamus Finnigan throughout the series). All three of them were absolutely charming, funny, and delightful, and they gave the audience a lively discussion. Devon, especially, was absolutely hilarious and had the audience in stitches on several occasions! They told some great stories about their experience making the films, talked about how they got into acting, and interacted with the audience by answering lots of questions. This part was truly so much fun; I laughed so hard my face hurt!

From Left to Right:  moderator, Ellie, Scarlett, and Devon

After that, I was pretty much done for the night. Hunger and fatigue caught up with me, so I missed out on a lot of fun events that night, including a charity ball! It is yet another thing that is on my list for next time.

On Saturday, I knew I only had a small amount of time left. Even though the Con went on until Sunday afternoon, my family and I had to leave Saturday afternoon. I vowed to cram as much fun as I could into my last half-day there! I began at 9 a.m. attending a discussion about the meaning of the ghosts in the Harry Potter series. It was a very interesting and thoughtful discussion, and I came away with a deeper understanding of what the ghosts represent and how they function within the HP world. The audience asked some really great questions that had all of us thinking and looking at these aspects of the story in a new way!

After that, I took some time to finish the last of my souvenir shopping, took a few more photos with other participants in awesome costumes, hung out with my friends, and oh yeah.... watched QUIDDITCH!!!!!!

Here are some shots from the awesome Quidditch matches:


 I did not want to leave LeakyCon, but alas, we had to go.  Still, I cannot emphasize enough how much fun I had, what a great atmosphere it was, and how thankful I was to be there.  There are a couple of other things that really stood out for me that I absolutely must mention:

1.  At one point, I was waiting for my husband to come pick me up in front of the Convention Center.  It was a hot, sunny, summer day in the bustling city of Portland, Oregon.  And all around me, people were walking around in the light of day with their witch and wizard robes on, carrying wands and Quidditch brooms like it was just every day normalcy.  I LOVED THIS!!!!!  It felt like I really was in a magical world, and I could not stop smiling to myself as the throngs of HP-lovers walked by me.  I couldn't help but think, "if only the world was really like this!"

2.  Each time I sat in on a discussion or event, it cracked me up how I constantly heard the clattering of wands falling to the floor.  Expect this noise if you ever are lucky enough to attend LeakyCon!!!!  Whether in the halls, bathrooms, exhibits or events, people are packing wands everywhere they go, and they are bound to get dropped from time to time.  I see now why its so important to have deep pockets in those magical robes!  And once again, I could not help but think.... "if only the real world was like this!!!!"  (If I tweeted about this, I'd use hashtag #witchproblems....haha!)

3.  For possibly the first time in my life, at LeakyCon, I felt NORMAL.  This was an unprecedented and bizarre feeling.  I have spent my life feeling weird and like an outcast, and trying to hide my passion for things that other people decided were "silly" or "childish".  I did not expect to feel so completely at home at LeakyCon, but I did.  I suspect this is true for most people who attend; we realize we are not alone!  There are other people out there just like us, with the same passions and interests, and ITS OKAY!  Its more than okay, in fact; it is a thing to be celebrated and enjoyed!  It may seem silly to others, but LeakyCon was a turning point for me where I think I truly began to accept myself for who I am.  Being in my 30s, maybe its a bit late in the game to do that, but hey... better late than never!

4.  I cannot say enough how wonderful it was to be able to spend time with my friends in person.  Again, for the first time in my life I felt like I was in the "cool" crowd, because seriously, these ladies are beyond cool to me!  My only complaint is that I did not get to spend near enough time with them.  In a perfect world, LeakyCon would be a MONTH long event, and I would get to be there the whole time with my buddies!!!  Hey, a girl can dream, right?

In conclusion, I am wholeheartedly smitten with LeakyCon.  It was SUCH a wonderful and life-changing experience.  YES, it was life-changing!  I felt at home, I felt happy, I felt surrounded by friends.  It doesn't get any better than that!

Comments

  1. Love love love this so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Me too! Wow... what a fund way to remember LeakyCon. Was it really a year ago?!

    ReplyDelete

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