Tuesday, July 26, 2011



I have been putting off writing this last segment of the trip because 1. it starts emotionally, again, and 2. getting to the end of writing my LeakyCon blogs almost feels like saying goodbye a second time. But life presses on regardless, so… I got up early on Saturday morning (after an incredibly late night) so I could go to the panel that Esther Earl's parents were hosting. I sat next to Lauren and Matt (with Eia by my other side) and found myself on the verge of tears for the next hour as her parents spoke about the events of their daughter's death and how nerdfighters and YouTube helped. They talked about how she got to go to the first LeakyCon and how her dad is writing a book about her life and the impact the internet had on her condition. They read little excerpts from her diary, told funny anecdotes, and said sad things as well. I held Lauren's hand for a lot of it.

It's a strange situation, because I never personally met Esther. I never really spoke to her either, though since her death I've noticed she did comment on my Facebook on more than one occasion. But more importantly, what I didn't know is what a big fiveawesomegirls fan she was. And how a lot of her core group of friends, Catitude, met BECAUSE of fiveawesomegirls. It was pretty powerful and crippling at the same time, seeing these wonderful people that are so close that lost someone so special to them, knowing I indirectly had a hand in them meeting in the first place. I really had no idea. None of the fiveawesomegirls did. We were just making videos, being ourselves, often complaining about how much work it was - but we had literally no idea what we were actually doing. I don't think the full gravity of our project really hit me until I sat in that room with all of Esther's friends and family.

It made me really think about the people who, in turn, inspired ME. Strangely enough, two of my biggest inspirations were in that room with me that day as well. After hugging Lauren and Matt and Eia and various members of Catitude, I bee-lined my way back to hug both Hank Green and Paul DeGeorge, and made sure to tell both of them how much I owe them for the things I'VE accomplished in the last few years. If it wasn't for Harry and the Potters, I would have never started a wizard rock band and met all my best friends, and if it wasn't for wizard rock - I never would have joined YouTube. Hank was the first person to watch a video of mine and really see something there, and I am thankful every day of that first Project 4 Awesome in 2007 when he included my video in one of the emails he sent out for nerdfighters to promote. I think about that day every time I make a video, honestly.

Anyway, the whole event was a vastly personal emotional experience so I wont go in to extreme detail, but I can say that other conference-goers were pretty confused when the doors opened afterward and a whole room full of crying people spilled out. We just stood there for awhile, laugh-crying, hugging each other and really appreciating the time we have with the people we love.

It was hard to know what to do after something like that, but luckily Eia and I ran into Ariana and Sam and Elizabeth who were waiting in line for the keynote with Evanna Lynch, Scarlett Byrne, Chris Rankin and all of the kid actors from Deathly Hallows part 2. We got in line with them and before long were back in the main ballroom. This keynote was absolutely adorable. All of the kids were so cute, and I was surprised by how well spoked a few of them were. There were so many quotes from them being tweeted, like about Young Snape's aversion to lemon meringue pie ("…it's so... sweet!") and little Hugo Weasley's tips on acting "Just always have a smile on your face!" Afterward they added Evanna Lynch, Chris Ranking and Scarlett Byrne, which was also fun, but it's hard to top seven adorable children.

We left near the end to go get food and headed over to Jack's Grill with the whole group of girls I'd been spending most of LeakyCon with. There was a lot of goofing around and figuring out logistics for the ball that night, and more importantly, the lunch ended with these delicious passion fruit flavored cheesecake balls. I wish I could have another one right now, actually.

After lunch, even though it was relatively early, most of my friends all went back to their hotel rooms to get ready for the ball. For those who have never been to a Harry Potter conference, the ball is a Big. Deal. It's always the last night of the conference so everyone is on an "I don't ever want to go home" high, and people treat it like prom with how dressed up everyone gets. I love it so much. Eia and I got ready with Kayley and our new friend Abby Larus in our room before heading over to the room of Ariana, Sammy, Sam, Rosi and Rachael to take pictures and make an entrance at the ball together. Everyone was just in such a good mood and so happy and goofy, and moreover, everyone looked so gorgeous.

Once we got to the ball (with our inconspicuous 'coffee cups') everyone took straight to the dance floor. The music was fun, everyone's hard work on hair and makeup became instantly pointless, and we were all surrounded by everyone we love - it was truly the perfect ending to LeakyCon. For the most part we stayed in the same central location in the heart of the dance floor (save for a quick trip to Jack's for Long Island Iced Teas) until the very end of the ball. At that point we did the (now tradition) sing-a-long to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" not once but twice, onstage with various other Leaky Staffers, Starkid members, wizard rockers and HP cast members. Then they had a hard time getting anyone OFF the stage, which was to be expected.

The dance itself ended all too soon, but knowing most of us were going home the next day, there was no question that the celebration would keep going. We caught wind of a party in someone's suite, so my friends and I headed up there for another hour or two (I've really lost track of the actual course of my night). It was a relatively relaxed party, though for some reason I seem to remember Darren Criss and Evanna Lynch taking pictures in a wicker basket? (maybe I had more to drink than I thought) and I ended up with marker drawings of a pony and Spike the baby dragon on my back courtesy of Frankie Franco and Nick Lang.

The night ended as perfectly as I could have hoped, with myself and all of my female friends in one hotel room sprawled across a king sized bed, just chatting about the week and how we hated that we all had to say goodbye in the morning. Alex joined us at the end for a bit as well, just in time to have to nearly fight a guy who came to our door to tell us we were being too loud, even though I will say that just this one time, we really weren't being loud at all.

Eia and I shuffled back to our own hotel room around 5 AM (a time we were all getting to know quite well) and snuggled in for one last night at the Royal Pacific, knowing our alarms were set much too early for our liking.


This day was hard. The whole morning was kind of a daze as we packed up our things and went to find our friends for the last event of the week. We headed down early for the leaving feast, eager to pile our plates high with bacon, toast, fruit and eggs. Melissa of course made us all teary with her speech, and we sleepily pretended this wasn't the end.

After the leaving feast ended, many of us were reluctant to leave the main ballroom for the last time. We ended up sitting in the chairs in a big circle for another hour or so, just hanging out and talking. After a little while we were joined by Noah, the adorable fiveawesomegirls fan (whose age I'm not positive about but I believe he's under 10) who decided to entertain us for awhile. We took pictures with him and he recited some of his favorite videos from memory, all while trying to convince us to start a new collab channel with him. It was a blast, I love that kid. Just the cutest and most enthusiastic little boy I've ever met.

Finally we had to start saying our goodbyes. This is always the worst part; no matter how many times I say goodbye to these people, it never gets any easier. The ConTour group was the first to leave. I see Alex, Jason and Sarah quite a lot, but saying goodbye to Hayley, Andy, Sarah's sister Rachael -- I hated it. Especially because deep down I knew I should have been leaving with them.

I headed with the rest of my friends to the lobby where were found some comfy chairs to sit in for the last hour before going to the airport. Some of us chatted, some slept, but for the most part everyone was starting to feel the end of LeakyCon really setting in and nobody wanted to talk about it. Thank god most of us had VidCon to look forward to at that point, otherwise this day would have been truly miserable.

Finally we got our bags from the bag check and waited out front of the Royal Pacific for a taxi. While we stood on the curb, the sweetest thing happened. We saw two girls who were a few years younger than us hugging and crying before one of them got in a cab all by herself. We were all touched by how beautiful/sad it was that after the first girl left, we all went up to the second girl and said, "We get it! We get it too!" and we all hugged her. Seeing these complete strangers experiencing the same thing we go through every year at these cons was just so moving, and it made us all realize we're not alone. The girl was kind of taken aback, but she tweeted at us a few minutes later saying being consoled by us on the sidewalk was one of the best things to happen to her all week.

The six of us then got in a van-taxi and headed to the airport. Once we got there and all checked in through our respective gates, we headed STRAIGHT to the Harry Potter gift shop. Haha. Mostly it was just that none of us were quite ready to let go, but it was such a good thing we did stop in there, because we ran into Rohan Gotobed and Ellie Darcey-Alden, the kids who played Young Sirius and Young Lily! We asked them if they would take pictures with us, which they did, and chatted with their parents for a little while (after they too insisted on taking versions of the pictures for themselves, which is just too cute, "now one for mummy!").

We also saw the kids who played Young Snape and Albus Severus running around, but we didn't quite manage to get pictures with them. It was so funny running into them not only at the airport, but at the HP store at the airport. I love that so many of the young Potter actors are just fans themselves.

Before we left, most of us (on a complete whim) bought these photo frames that looked like a Hogwarts trunk that I can't wait to put a picture in from LeakyCon. I'm having a hard time deciding which one, actually. Anyway, we all ate in the airport food court before finally, finally saying goodbye to each other and making our way to our own gates to fly home.

Now I am home from LeakyCon, and have been for a week. It's been an interesting time, decompressing from my adventures in Orlando while preparing myself for another week in LA (I actually leave for the airport in two hours; I really cut it close with finishing this blog post in time). I'm really excited for VidCon, but LeakyCon is a tough act to follow. Luckily most of the same people will be there, plus some more (I'm really, REALLY excited to see a lot of my UK YouTube friends, the ones I haven't seen since last VidCon, or back when I was living in London).

Anyway, it's going to be a fun, fun week and I find of feel like I need it after something like LeakyCon. One more hurrah until I really get home and have to come to terms with my big summer events being over. I don't want to think about that yet - I'm dreading writing those blog posts in another week's time, haha.

Anyway, I should go finish packing and start getting ready to head to the airport. Until next time!

Flights taken: 15

Friday, July 22, 2011



Friday morning we got up and headed down to the pool area for food. I can't seem to remember if we did anything before that, but it must not have been important if we did, so I'm going to decree that the day began with food. There was a cute little covered outdoor restaurant area and I remember being obsessed with the Chile Lime Vinaigrette dressing they brought me for my salad. I don't know why these details are important, haha, but I want to remember EVERYTHING.

After eating, we met up with the rest of our friends over by the water. I didn't go swimming for very long but in the time that I was there, the water was perfect, the sun was shining and we took lots of adorable pool pictures. I love these little moments at conferences; the momentary breaks from all the crazy, the short stretches of time where my friends and I just get to stop and enjoy each others company while splashing around in the pool or sprawled out on someone's hotel bed. It's just lovely.

Pool time ended abruptly however, when we realized we needed to rush over to the Pottermore keynote to get there in time to see the whole thing. We threw our clothes on (our wet bathing suits were already soaking through) and managed to snag seats near the front on the left side.

Let me just tell say that the Pottermore keynote was one of my absolute favorite parts of the whole week. Before walking into that room, all we knew about the project was what they had vaguely given us online with the owls and the J.K. Rowling video and the broad explanation that we were getting a "new online interactive reading experience".

And essentially, that's what it is. But this keynote went into such detail, the whole room was in absolute awe of what we were being told. It was one of the most magical feelings, sitting in that room that day. There were hundreds and hundreds of Harry Potter fans who'd truly thought we'd reached the end of our journey of getting new Potter content, but Pottermore really sounds as incredible as they hyped it up to be. We get to re-read the books in an online/public setting, get thousands of words of new information and backstory, get sorted (for REAL!) into houses, we'll get assigned our own unique wand and compete for the house cup - and the most exciting part is that they're not all being released at once. We get new release dates for each book. RELEASE DATES. If there's one thing this fandom does well, it's wait for things. The very notion that we have more Potter things to WAIT FOR made everyone in that room feel like they were on the verge of tears (of happiness).

So I'm pretty pumped about it. I know Pottermore wont be for everyone, but from the few things they showed us of the site, I know I'm personally going to love it. My favorite part of the whole presentation was when a slide popped up that had a whole paragraph about McGonagall's life that none of us had ever seen before, and the way everybody in that room reacted to it. I'm sure the speaker only put it up there as an example of what the additional text would look like, but when he began speak, the whole room actually audibly shushed him so we could read it. I don't think he anticipated that at all, because he kind of hurried to switch the next slide, much to the chagrin of the rest of us. Any other panel, any other place, shushing an official speaker would be so, so rude. But here, with Potter fans - you CANNOT just bring in new writing from JKR and expect us to ignore it. Haha. It was so funny.

After the Pottermore panel we all raced to change out of our wet clothes (it was already freezing in the main ballroom without being sopping wet from the pool) and if I remember correctly, I think we wandered around a bit before heading unto the Tchoup Chop for dinner with Sam Friedman, Elizabeth Barret, Brian Malfoy, Tessa Violet and Shawna Howson. Everyone was so blown away by how amazing this restaurant was. They were super accommodating, and when they brought out our food, about 6 waiters were involved so they could set everyone's plates down at the exact same moment. So funny. And kind of adorable.

Sam I filled up on these wonton crisps they brought us (I think we ended up asking them to refill the basket at least twice) and then I got the most delicious bowl of fried rice I've ever had, though I may have been slightly disillusioned by 1. how awesome the restaurant was in general and 2. how little we actually ate while at LeakyCon and how starving you'd realize you were when you DID finally eat.

After dinner it was time to set up for the second night of wizard rock shows. Eia and Kayley and I lugged our merch down to the main ballroom and I'll be honest, things were super hectic and stressful from that moment on to our show because I thought we were playing second but it turned out we were actually first. This led to a few technical failures within the Parselmouths set (like realizing mid-set that the iPod I needed for the second to last two songs was still in my purse back at the merch table) but I think all in all it was a very fun show. Eia and I hammed it up by giving out My Little Pony themed party hats, pink party blowers, pink and green mardi gras beads and had Rosi and Sam come onstage to cover everything with pink and green streamers while we played. Alex was hilarious as a stand-in Harry for "Please Harry", and the set ended beautifully with Alex on guitar and Jarrod on drums for a full-band rendition of "This is Never Gonna End", which I proceeded to start crying during the middle of while singing. It was perfect.

I guess I haven't really talked about this yet, but I had been nervous about my voice the whole week since my nodes are at a pretty bad stage right now, and I had already been losing my voice something fierce by Friday afternoon. But somehow, there was something I was able to channel deep inside of me for that show and I managed to pull it off without a hitch. I mean, it was probably terrible for my voice, but at least I was able to do it. To make up for it, I've been ignoring everyone since I've been home and talking very little unless the conversations have been happening over texts or on gchat. Gotta prep myself for VidCon, haha. Then it's no more singing until 2012. I promise.

After our set was over I was finally able to relax and enjoy the rest of the show. It was funny, because before I left for LeakyCon I was really nervous about being an emotional wreck the entire week, but until Friday night I had managed to keep it together pretty well. But that night, at the show - I was the biggest mess. I cried at everything. Literally everything. Matt's set was amazing, and when everyone continued to sing "We're wizards, we'll party forever. This night will never end," I sobbed. When Evanna Lynch got on stage to dance during the songs about Luna, I blubbered. And oh my GOD. When Harry and the Potters got onstage to play the last set of the evening and I began to think back to seeing them live for the first time in 2003, deciding to start my own wizard rock band, realizing how long ago that was and how far I've come… I'm not going to lie. There was a part of the night where I wasn't even watching the show anymore, but instead sitting in a heap on the floor with an equally emotional Eia and Ariana and just BAWLED. For like 20 minutes.

But it was good. This was a deeply moving and emotional night, and there were a lot of feelings for me to process. When you're in a room full of so many people you just love SO MUCH, that have affected and influenced your life in so many inexplicable ways, celebrating such a wonderful time together and not having to explain to each other why we're feeling the way we do -- it's really hard NOT to cry. So I was glad I let it out. I needed it.

It was a pretty funny sight, actually. This was the night that a bunch of different people all gave me My Little Pony related toys as presents, so I was walking around in my sparkly dress, eyes red and puffy, sniffling, arms just FULL of My Little Pony toys. I'm sure more than one person chuckled at me as I passed by them. This was also the night I really started to get to know Mike Lombardo's drummer Andy Rumschlag, and being the sweet guy that he is, he carried all of my pony toys for me for awhile so I could sign things for people and give them hugs after the show.

I'm not sure how this started, but after the show ended, I also seem to remember a bunch of my friends (myself included) sitting on the floor in the middle of the emptied-out ballroom for a little while. Before long, we were all rolling around like crazy flailing people, back to stomach, probably unsure what other way to deal with the energy and emotion in the room. I distinctly remember Alex Carpenter looking over at us and saying incredulously, "Is this seriously happening right now?" And yes. Yes it was.

One of the most emotionally moving parts of my whole trip happened directly after the show was over (I know, like it could get more emotional than crying on the floor for twenty minutes; surprisingly, it CAN) when I ran into the Catitude/Eff Yeah Nerd Fighter people. I had met Katie Twyman earlier in the week and she told me she's try to make sure I got to meet them, but I wasn't expecting to just walk into the Registration Hall and find every single one of them in a group before me. To explain, this is the group of people who organized the secret project to get tons and tons of people to send me Get-Well-Soon letters and presents a couple weeks ago due to my announcement about my vocal nodes. I was such a mess when I first realized what they had done (back in Seattle), so to see them all standing in front of me, smiling at me -- it was almost comical how quickly I BURST into tears.

They enveloped me in the sweetest group hug of my entire life and I thanked them profusely, insisting we all take a picture together. It's probably my favorite picture from the whole trip. After chatting for a bit, I dried my eyes for the fourth time that night and headed up to my hotel room to drop off the ponies and relieve Andy of his duties as pony-master.

The rest of the evening was mostly just general hotel hanging-out; we discovered an outdoor room within the indoor lobby (weird, I know) with elephants and a big fountain and hung out there for awhile. After a few minutes, though, I headed back to Andy's room to get more drinks and ended up finding Mike, Hayley, Kayley, and Adam Colas there, so we stayed to hang out. I really loved that I got to spend a little time with all my different friends at Leaky, rather than staying in one group the whole time. There were so many people and friends at LeakyCon that it was sometimes overwhelming, but I really feel like I managed to spend a good amount of time with everyone.

The night ended much too soon (even though I was still up until about 5 in the morning), but we had one more big day left at our beloved conference and we all wanted to be ready for it.

Flights: 15

Thursday, July 21, 2011

LeakyCon: DAY TWO


I'm having that common post-conference problem where the details of my days start to blend together. I can't remember exactly what I did Thursday morning, so I am currently consulting my LeakyCon schedule app I downloaded on my iPad. According to this, the first thing I went to on Thursday was "Finding Hogwarts". Oh yes! I remember now, we had set our alarms for 10 AM (which doesn't sound early, but if you were at LeakyCon you know that's very, very early) so after showering and gulping down a cup of tea, we raced downstairs to see our friends' beautiful documentary. "Finding Hogwarts" was so lovely. The sentiment in it, and seeing all our friends go on a sort of self-discovery mission as Potter fans was just so moving. I want to follow their footsteps and go on my own Potter journey. I can't even imagine.

After the screening, we had lunch (I can't for the life of me remember where) --

Edit: Oh YEAH. After the Finding Hogwarts screening Sarah and I had our "Meat Up" which was something that started as a silly idea, was supposed to be a meetup where we provided a 50 piece chicken nugget meal from McDonald's for everyone to share, but didn't think through the fact that were were no McDonald's anywhere near by. So we ended up just taking the people who came to the meetup over to Island's and having a buffet lunch of mac and cheese, pizza and chicken strips. Not bad. Not bad at all.
My favorite parts of the meetup were coercing Andrew Slack into eating with us (I love that guy) and getting to finally spend some time with my friend Crystal Toscano, who happened to be at LeakyCon as well and was my first close fandom friend, even before Wizard Rock. I knew her from back in fanfiction days. It was lovely to chat with her again.

Anyway, after THAT, we started to get dressed to go to the FINAL MOVIE PREMIERE over at CityWalk at 6:00. It was so, so intense. I saw every other film back home in Seattle, so for the later ones I definitely wore full robes and nerded out in my home theaters. But it was much too hot in Orlando for that. I donned my snake necklace, my Slytherin tie and my Slytherin house sweater over a white tank top and shorts. I felt like it was still representative enough, though I regretted leaving my radish earrings at home. With my wand in my purse, we headed over in the blistering heat (amidst die-hard fans that WERE in full robes, I couldn't believe it) to get in line.

We didn't have to wait long; the people who were performing or speaking or working in any way at Leaky got a special theatre to see the film in, so I ran to the top and settled in between Ariana and Eia (the perfect place to see it). It was exciting because I believe Starkid and, more excitingly, Evanna Lynch and all the Potter kid actors were in our theatre as well. It was a little goosebump-making to know we were seeing the movie in the same room as people who had BEEN IN IT. After merely one preview, the movie started all too soon. I think every single one of us was frozen in place in rapt attention for the full 125 minutes. Luckily I brought special Hello Kitty tissues, because the crying started early and lasted sporadically throughout the entire thing (Spoiler! -- My tears started when Harry stepped out of line at Hogwarts). The whole experience was just so, so intense.

There were obvious flaws and things left out of the movie, but as a whole i just adored it. Over the years I have really separated my love of the books with my love of the movies. Nobody is ever going to create MY Harry Potter on film unless I do it myself, so I try to really just appreciate that someone took the time, effort and money to create these films for us. They're very good. Not perfect, but they still make me feel something, and that's what's important. And seeing it with everyone I love and have shared this whole crazy Potter life with for the past 7+ years was something I can't even really being to comprehend. It was magical, in every sense of the word. Everyone crying together and remembering our personal Potter stories… gah. It was just so much positive, nostalgic, powerful energy.

The cutest thing was later at the conference I went to a keynote with all the kid actors from the movie (Young Lily, Young Snape, Albus Severus, Young Sirius, etc.) and they told us that even though they went to the Premiere in London, they really enjoyed watching it with us more because we had such strong reactions to everything that happened. They said it was crazy to hear us all sobbing in the theatre. I believe Young Lily said at one point, "I knew there were fans, but not fans like these!" It was adorable. Everyone cheered.

After the movie we had dinner at Pastamore on Citywalk and debriefed about our favorite parts and how it felt and all those important things. Also there was drinking, but mostly we reveled in our Potter-ness and enjoyed spending these moments together, still high on seeing the film and stuffing our faces since most of us realized in our excitement we'd forgotten to really eat. That was a common theme throughout LeakyCon, actually.

That night was the first evening of Wizard Rock shows. Most of it was a blur of seeing my friends get onstage and play their best sets ever, talking to fans, selling merch and dancing. At one point I met a few more of the Starkid guys back in the "VIP Section" (I say this with a smirk, like Leaky needs to separate out VIPs - the whole thing just makes me laugh) but anyway, Joey Richter said to me "Hey you're the ALL CAPS girl aren't you? "Don't Unplug Me" was the anthem of my summer last year!" so that was kind of cool. My favorite part about this fandom is the mutual fan-ness. It's nice to know people I admire also appreciate the things that I have done.

I also met Evanna Lynch very, very briefly, and it kind of put my life back in check for a second. I'm telling you, guys, LeakyCon is a BIZARRE existence for me. It's jarring and disorienting to have people constantly calling my name, giving me presents, getting nervous to talk to me. It's something I will never, ever get used to. But when I was back there, dancing, and I turned around and was nearly shoulder to shoulder with Luna Freaking Lovegood. I'll admit I stammered a little when I said, "Hey, I just want to introduce myself. I'm Kristina. I've seen you work with the HPA and I think you're awesome. I'm playing the show here tomorrow night, nice to meet you!" She was lovely, of course, but I just want to tell you guys I get it. I totally get it. I'm just a big of n00b as everyone else sometimes, haha.

I got on stage and sang "Goodbye Privet Drive" with Ministry of Magic as usual, and I can't even begin to tell you how exhilarating it was looking out at that huge crowd of people. There were so many people at the wizard rock shows! I think it was by far the largest crowd I've ever performed in front of; even bigger than VidCon 2010.

The last band to play that night was The Remus Lupins. Alex had Tyler Nicholas on bass (just like old times) and Jarrod Perkins did a phenomenal job on drums. This was an intensely emotional experience as it was Alex's final show as the Remus Lupins entity. I knew it would be sad, but I was not expecting how I reacted to watching his set. I teared up a little during the classics, such as "I was a Teenage Werewolf", but I was NOT prepared for what happened during his final song, "Looking For Trouble". As usual, we all rushed the stage to sing the bah-bah-bah's at the end, and while I was up there, realizing this was the last time I would ever do this - I just lost it. I can't even tell you. So many memories and emotions were spilling out of me, remembering the first Parselmouths/Remus Lupins tour in 2007, all the conferences I'd spent with them, Triple Rainbow Awesome tour in 2010 - And more specifically, Alex telling me that if ever there was a Remus Lupins show I could get to, I was more than welcome to play it.

A lot of wizard rock is based in the North East. I adore all of those bands, but they have a good thing going for them with local shows that I could never really be a part of. On the West Coast, all I had was Alex, and everything he ever did for my band meant so much to me. The Remus Lupins were such a large part of my Wizard Rock experience and it was hard to imagine a world where they're done playing. I gave him a super huge hug after the show and it took me a fair amount of time to dry my own tears. That's when I started to really feel the gravity of this trip begin to set in.

After the show that night a few of us girls went up to my room to just hang out and chat, and more friends started showing up until we had a little medium sized party going in our room. It was a fairly chilled out party, but it was good. We were slowly gearing up to the larger and more intense parts of the weekend, so I was really okay with that. :)

Flights taken: 15

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

LeakyCon: DAY ONE


Where do I even begin?

I was determined to write down everything I was thinking and feeling on my flight home from Orlando to Seattle, but I was so exhausted I slept like a rock from before we took off until the lights came on to announce our landing. So my musings on the time I spent with my Potter friends are happening from my own bed, the morning after, with a heavy heart.

This week was truly perfect. This was my seventh official conference, not to mention all the Wrockstocks and Hallows and Horcruxes Balls and tours I've been on. Every single conference to date has something attached to it, whether it be crying over a boy or having my Parselmouth's set cut due to time or some other variation of Potter Con drama - but LeakyCon was perfect. I felt like every moment i spent there was utilized to the fullest, and each event I attended kept upstaging the previous ones.

Eia and I flew in to Orlando on Tuesday night. Our flights were long; I played games on my iPad to pass the time. We finally landed around 11:30 pm and were immediately greeted by Hayley Hoover, which was a lovely way to begin my trip. We then met up with Whitney and her sister and friend and took a taxi to our little Super 8 hotel we booked for the night before Leaky began. The night was mostly filled with the exhaustion of flying, but we entertained ourselves by watching old game shows on TV before falling asleep.


In the morning, we couldn't get to the Royal Pacific soon enough. The others had left early for Lit Day, so Eia and Hayley and I took a cab over to Universal Resort around noon. It was really overwhelming how quickly we began running into friends. Kayley tackle hugged us within the first few minutes, Ariana and Tyler were shortly after, and way too many more came barreling out to even name. Our rooms weren't ready for us so we had to check our bags, and if I remember correctly, we took our first pilgrimage over to CityWalk for food. Aaron Nordyke and Erinn Lewis accompanied us, as well as Jason Munday, and I had a delicious burrito from Moe's (though it was no Chipotle). Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to get our registration packets, which included the coolest Conference gift I could have ever imagined: our Hogwarts yearbooks. Page after page of memories from past conferences as well as full color photos of every single LeakyCon attendee. It was better than high school. They had a little trouble finding my registration because I'd forgotten I'd listed myself as "Kristina Parselmouth" rather than "Kristina Horner". Ha.

We had a few hours before we needed to be back for the opening ceremonies, so Lauren Fairweather and Eia and I took a water taxi over to Islands of Adventure to get in a little extra Harry Potter theme park time. I remember last year walking in and seeing the Hogwarts Express pumping steam, the immaculate Hogsmeade laid out behind it - it had been so overwhelming I'd burst into tears. This year my experience at the park was a bit drier, but the magic was still there in full force. We ran around the park snapping pictures in front of everything: the train, the Owl shop, Honeydukes, the House banners, the Leaky Cauldron. Then we happened to run into a fan of mine who also works at the park, so he took us onto the Forbidden Journey ride and let us skip to the very front of the line! For those who haven't ridden it, the line generally takes upwards of an hour, so this was incredibly sweet of him, and lucky for us!

After the ride we headed back to the Royal Pacific. The Opening Ceremonies started at 6 and we didn't want to miss a minute of it. I ended up rushing the front of the ballroom and got relatively decent seats with Matt Maggiacomo, Lauren, Eia and Rosianna Halse. I loved what they did with this presentation. The combination of video documentary of the history of the fandom mixed with live performances by Harry and the Potters, Hank, Potter Puppet Pals and Starkid was so awesome. They even played my clip about thanking J.K. Rowling and showed a bunch of people's videos from YouTube saying thanks!

After that was all over, it was time to go back to the park for "Open At the Close", the after-hours theme park event for LeakyCon people. We rode the Forbidden Journey ride again, this time in a huge group of all my friends (though I had the full line experience this time around), and afterwards, I spent way too much money in the gift shop with Eia, Elizabeth Barret and Sammy Galasso. I bought a picture frame the looks like the Mirror of Erised, a good quality Slytherin banner, a Marauder's Map mug (to drink tea out of while my nodes heal!) and a Slytherin Prefect pin. Then it was time to line up for food, which took forever but the payoff was worth it. A feast in Hogsmeade. Too perfect. There was a lot of delicious stuff but my favorites were the Shepard's Pie and Bread Pudding. And the Butterbeer. Oh, the frozen Butterbeer.

I also ended up buying Ginny's wand from the wand shop, as the character wand I bought back in 2007 got broken during the filming of the "World of Warcraft Ruined My Life" music video. It's so pretty. I was saying to someone this week (I don't remember who) that one of my favorite parts about LeakyCon is being in an environment where someone can yell "put your wands up" and EVERYONE DOES. What kind of Potter fan doesn't own a wand? Anyway, back to the theme park...

We were a little on the tired side, so after a quick impromptu dance party in front of the Hogwarts Express, a bunch of us headed back to the hotel to just hang out for a little while before bed. I don't remember exactly what we did this night, but I do remember it involved hotel room party hopping, chatting with good friends like Nick Lang and Jarrod Perkins, and having Hayley tell me the sentence, "in the future, we're going to do shit and we're going to be so good at it." I love her.

More coming soon!

Flights taken: 15

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pre-Harry Potter jitters and musings.

Too many amazing things have happened to me recently for me to even really put it in words. I've really been meaning to blog, but I haven't known exactly what I wanted to say. However, I leave for LeakyCon TOMORROW MORNING, so it is at this point that I realize I really need to just braindump on this blog for awhile. So here I go.

1. On the mystery packages/letters that showed up in my PO Box:
If you didn't see the video, basically something miraculous happened to me. I was going about my day, running errands, and I made a stop at the Post Office. I had a package to mail, and I try to check my PO Box at least once a week or so as time permits. I stuck my key in the hole and to my surprise, I had a bit of trouble turning it. This didn't really make sense, so using both hands, I jammed the key around and thrust open the little box. I can't even begin to explain the manner in which letters were crammed into my tiny box. It took me a good five minutes to pry every single letter from its holding place, and then I found four keys to overflow boxes. FOUR. You know that cartoon image of the shoppers holding bags and boxes way up past their faces so they can't see? That's what I looked like as I left the Post Office that day.

For a little while I was baffled. I dumped the mail in my car and continued on the day's errands, musing in my head why on earth I had so much mail. It wasn't my birthday. It's nowhere near Christmas. I mentioned the puzzling event on twitter, and that's when I started to figure out what was going on.

When Eff Yeah Nerdfighters caught wind of my vocal disorder, they organized a secret project for tons and tons of fans to personally mail me get-well-soon letters and presents. And even though I have google alerts set up on my name, they somehow managed to orchestrate this whole project without me knowing. The response, I will tell you, has been overwhelming. I haven't even been able to open everything, because each letter is so wonderful that it makes me tear up, and crying is bad for my vocal chords! But I've decided to save them, and open then one at a time on days when getting through these nodes is hard. Every time I am feeling sorry for myself for not being able to eat the foods I like or go out with my friends to loud places or even being able to sing in the shower - I'll open one of your letters and I know it'll make it easier.

I am just so tickled and almost bashful about the outpouring of love I've received from all of this. You guys really make me feel like I can so anything. And that nothing, even a serious vocal dysfunction, can stop me from doing the things I love to do. I'll get through this. But I don't think I could have been nearly this positive without your help.

2. On spending time at home with Seattle friends:
It's been an extremely powerful and overwhelming time, this summer. Any time I go on facebook or twitter, I see my fandom friends crying over the final red carpet Harry Potter film premiere, or stressing about packing for LeakyCon, or reblogging pictures of the trio today juxtaposed with pictures of them from the first movie - and it's all been a little too much. I mean, I am just as guilty for participating in this pre-movie, pre-conference hysteria, but I'm having a really tough time dealing with it alone. So in the past few weeks, I've been spending a lot of time with my Seattle friends.

Now, I am lucky. Even my "regular" "home" friends are fans of Harry Potter. They too have their tickets for a midnight showing and understand why I am an absolute ball of nerves right now. But they are a tad more... calm, about everything. So it's been extremely helpful to me to sort of throw myself into other things right now while everything is looming around me the closer I get to my flight departure.

Last weekend my friend Tara had us all come over to her parent's house for the 4th of July weekend, which was a total blast. We ate food until we burst, we had a WalMart adventure where we all bought matching 4th of July shirts (they had kittens on them, it was magical) and the girls even decked ourselves out in matching American Flag print bikinis. We stretched out in the sun by the lake, we played laser tag, we lit off fireworks and sat around a roaring fire once the sun went down. It was such a nice way to spend the holiday weekend. Then on the actual night of the 4th, I found myself in the 16th floor apartment of a building on the side that faces Lake Union, where Seattle's huge firework's display was. It was such an amazing view, and we didn't even have to make the horrendous trek to Gasworks park like the other thousands of people who gathered on the grass to see the show in person.

This weekend we went out of town again, which I was so thankful for. My friend Alexandra is moving to Austin, so she wanted to take one last "Washington Adventure". We piled in cars and found the smaller, finer must-sees of our state. We went to a couple museums filled with the most random things (from scary theatrical doll collections to a whole room full of various chess sets to a high-heeled shoe collection through the ages) and found an exact replica of Stonehenge. We ate in silly pubs and took in breathtaking views and stopped late in the evening in the middle of nowhere to look at the stars as we never get to see them back home in the city. It was such a relaxing, different weekend, and it really kept me distracted from all the craziness that's happening this week.

The only problem with this plan, though, is that now I leave tomorrow and I am in no way emotionally prepared for this. At least I am mostly packed. At least I have that.

3. On Harry Potter/LeakyCon/the fandom/my current emotional state:
I can't even. To date, LeakyCon 2011 will be my seventh major Harry Potter conference. That's not counting Wrockstock or any of the smaller events I've gone to like CondorCon or Hallows and Horcruxes. Many of the people I shared my very first con experience with (Phoenix Rising 2007 <3) will be there, such as Lauren, Matt, Alex, Brian, John and Bre. Not to mention every other single person I've met since then along the way. We'll be sharing our first viewing of the last film with each other, which is something we've never gotten to experience before. We'll be laughing and crying and surely making certain we make the most of every single second.

This is something I could never actually be ready for. It's hard walking into something that hasn't even happened yet, already knowing it will be too short and fearing for when it's just a fond memory on the other side. Literally every single person who's managed to touch my life in some way in the past 7 years is going to be there. Even my old fanfiction "best friend" Crystal is going to be there, which is more perfect than I can even say.

I'm so thankful I'll have Eia there to share this with me too; she's my one link at home to all this crazy stuff I've gone through. Her involvement in all of this really made me start to feel like I wasn't going through it alone. Lauren, the friend I've had the longest through Wizard Rock, Alex, the first person to ask me to go on tour with him and someone I truly consider an older brother, Brian, the first wizard rocker who really inspired me to take this from a silly hobby to something more real, Kayley, the friend I've been blessed with having near enough to take our friendship beyond the fandom, Bre, the person who inspired me to start making videos -- I could go on and on and on but there are just too many amazing people and they're all going to be there and I leave tomorrow and I can't believe it's finally here.

We're doing this, guys. We're going to Leaky. It's real for us.

Flights: 13