This year, just a few days after my last letter, I joined the Zilch! podcast. I became a cohost in large part because I’m pretty sure it was what you would have done, but also it was one of those “sparkly shoes” opportunities that I just don’t turn down anymore, spare time permitting. Because of that decision my life has changed irrevocably. I’ve done things now I never would have expected a year ago because of it, like interview members of the support band, mingle with various fandom notables, and even get shared by multiple Monkees’ social media. I have listened to New Monkees music of my own volition (Cin was right, for the record). I got Mich on the show as a guest. I’m working on Cin, who for the record is doing MUCH better than she was a year ago. You’d be proud of how they’ve both changed in the past three years, I think. God knows how lucky I am to call them my sisters, and I hope they know it too. All of our lives have gotten busier and more abundant this past year. I’m less than a year from finishing my PhD, and though I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with it, I am sure that the lessons I took from 2012 and what came after will dictate my decisions as much as anything I picked up in coursework.
However, the things I’ve learned and done this past year haven’t been the sorts of things that are easily bloggable. Much of it has been internal work of rebalancing the Fangirl and the associate library director. Also, what time and creativity I’ve had to give to fandom has mostly gone to Zilch–both the podcast and the vibrant discussion group on Facebook. Also, and most of all, there was Zak, something I’ve tried to write about half a dozen times here but find I can’t—at least not in a form that feels appropriate for the glorified diary that is Fandom Lenses.
Here’s the very short version of the Zak story which contains everything I’m willing to say about another person’s experiences in a public forum: Because I joined Zilch, and connected up with Zak and his family, I was able to pay forward debts I have owed to the Monkees–or at least The Monkees(tm)–since I was nine years old. You know what those debts are (Lord knows you suffered through beta reading some deeply horrible fanfic where I was trying to process them). Any sufficiently thorough reader of my essays here can do the math as well. Anissa, you were one of the people who created the conditions that allowed me to maybe help a kid out a little bit at a scary moment, and finally set down some of the baggage related to my *ahem* scars. Not to say I won’t have to compensate for certain physical realities for the rest of my life, but, again, I guess that’s how it goes sometimes. As you know, of course. *sigh*
On a related note I am no longer able to abide anyone who says Micky Dolenz is not good to his fans. It’s at least as visceral a feeling as I get when Peter gets accused of lacking empathy.
OKAY! Enough of the Feels, on to a more immediate matters. Beyond this annual letter marking the day you left us, I’m not sure that I have much more to say here. For that matter, I’m not sure how many more of these missives I’m going to be moved to write (This year, honestly, was mostly so I could tell you about Zak, because I knew you’d Get It). I don’t have all that much to say about the fandoms that I’m not currently doing a podcast for, and most of what I have to say gets said in the context of Zilch or in gossipy IM sessions with friends. By this time next year I’ll be done with the PhD, and probably taking some giant steps in my professional and social lives. It’ll also be the 50th anniversary, and I think there’s a better than even chance that things will go nuts in the fandom (And on Zilch) one more time. More to the point, I’ve pretty much integrated compassion and silliness in my life, which means I don’t feel as moved to use those forces to explore pop culture in 3000+ word blog posts.
Speaking more broadly, it’s time for me to do less stuff, and to delve more deeply into what I do take on. I can bleat all I like about “fulfilling my potential” or “making my life worth the miracle”, but busyness for me is mostly just how I hide from things I don’t want to face, and boy are there a lot of those demons. I’ve taken to calling that overachieving impulse of mine “May 11th thinking”, actually. I’m not a kid anymore—the biggest proof of that is how fearlessly silly I’ve become in the past 3 years. Fandom Lenses is no longer how I make sense of what was probably a (hopefully premature) mid-life crisis. I’m proud of what I wrote here, but my life in the fandom has changed. I need to focus more on making friends who are here in Oklahoma. I need to give more time to Kevin. I need to give more time to Zilch. I need to take what I’ve learned from the students I’ve talked to for my dissertation and figure out what their experiences portend for my field. I need to make space for stillness and to take care of myself.
I wasn’t sure when I started writing this post, but I suspected this letter would also serve as an official announcement of the probable end of Fandom Lenses, at least for now. And so it seems. Although you shouldn’t expect much new content here, I’m keeping this page up for the foreseeable future. It’s too much a part of me to let go. (I do apologize again to whomever Jessica Pacheco might have working on her Search Engine Optimization. I seriously didn’t mean for that essay to become the top google result for her name…)
Anyway, tell The Midget I said hi, and thanks for any role he may have played in getting that book chapter accepted. One Manchester-affiliated conference or book editor giving me a major career boost is chance. A second one has me giving a serious side-eye to my collectibles shelf. 😉
I love you, Sis.