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[personal profile] sparrowing
It all started at the HBP line party.

Well, that's actually a lie. It started when [ profile] elven_freckles's sister and other friends had to back out on their plans to go to Azkatraz. It's been years since I was fully into Harry Potter fandom - I hadn't reread any of the books since the 7th came out, and even before then I wasn't really reading much fic any more. So when she asked whether I wanted to drive 7/8 hours to hit up a convention for a fandom I was barely even involved in, my response was..."maybe?"

Then I watched HBP, and suddenly couldn't remember why in hell I had ever let my HP love wane. I can't help it - I'm massively multifandom, and it inevitably leads to me obsessing over a few of them at a time, relegating the rest to the back of my brain until they cycle up to the front again. So I did some flaily vlogging and hi-fived Beka ([ profile] elven_freckles) and decided to go forth and conquer the a really last-minute sort of way.

Only we couldn't go for the whole thing, because Saturday night (also, incidentally, the night Amanda Fucking Palmer was in Oakland) we were scheduled to play a show together at Centre Stage. And Sunday she'd have to do music stuff for her church in the morning, so we wouldn't be able to make it until the Prison Break Ball. But hey, we figured - why not? Besides, then we would be able to get by with only a day pass and the Ball ticket. In all honesty, if we had been in the position to go for the whole time, I don't know if I would have been willing to go at all - Azkatraz might not have been asking Creation Con prices, but tickets were still pretty damn spendy in comparison to the cons I usually consider going to. As awesome as Wrock Around the Rock sounded, I doubt I would have been willing to hand over $100. Unemployed + broke because my former roommate disappeared and owes me money = not too enthusiastic about spending $$ on cons that don't seem to go particularly out of their way to be inexpensive.

So we spent the next four days practicing for our show and trying to pull together costumes/Ball outfits. Saturday night came, we set up, and...around four or five people showed up who weren't our immediate relatives. We valiantly played on, despite the fact that once again there was no one there young enough to understand why geeks covering Lady Gaga and Cobra Starship and the Mario Kart Lovesong on guitar and mandola was for lulz and great justice (there was also, for the record, quite a lot of Beka's fantastic original stuff). We covered Snape vs. Snape on piano and standup bass, for no other reason really other than we'd been listening to a lot of Ministry of Magic and I'd gone "we should play some wrock!" while we were sitting around rehearsing. And that we both really, really love that song.

We set up a time to meet and the next day and - oh, this is going to get long, isn't it?

took a few minutes to Nerdfighterify our Shoebox Project lovin' ride

there has to be a HP answer to ONTD_STARTREK and the various SPN capslock comms, right?

in retrospect, writing this was a REALLY BAD IDEA.

One stop for coffee later, and we were off. I spent most of the trip drawing and cutting out stencils, because I had pretty much thrown up my hands and acknowledged there was no way I could find/make a satisfactory costume in three days with no prior plan. Instead I figured I'd just cover a vest in HP-verse patches ("Ask before you enchant!" "Defend Centaur Land Rights" "Free Stan [Shunpike]" "Support the House-Elf Liberation Front!" etc) and call it halfway sort of lackluster good. The drive was going pretty well - easier for me than for Beka, who had to drive the whole way as I don't drive stick (-, I was sitting there with my little paint bottles carefully stencilling my patches out, we'd found a semi-decent radio station, we were just passing Rohnert Park and Cotati,

and then some. motherfucking. douchebag. in a a huge. grey. van.




we were in the left lane, going the damn speed limit (!!) at least four car lengths behind them, and suddenly they've just stopped. neither of us can remember seeing any brakelights, I just can remember Beka slamming on the brakes and looking up to see the back of the van getting way too fucking close way too fucking fast. the brakes screeched and we skidded (but not slow enough) and there was this - I can't even really describe it. I don't remember the sound, or the feeling, just this sudden huge thing and then I was staring out the windshield and the airbags were deflating -

and the engine was on fire.

not just, you know...smoking. on fire. with big scary 'if this were a movie you'd be ten seconds away from exploding' flames. most of my common sense being unfortunately culled from TV and Hollywood, I took this as a sign to GTFO and stumbled out of the car, around it, on onto the grass divider. luckily for me traffic had stopped a good 50 feet behind us by then. I yelled at Beka to get out of the car, but her door was stuck and she had to kick it open - at the time I had this brief flash of it getting really stuck, and me having to go over to try and get it open and then both of us getting completely pwned when the car exploded - and both of us backed off from the car and just sort of stood by the divider, totally in shock, watching her car burn. And looking to our right to see the traffic entirely stopped, piling up as far as we could see.

Then some random dude pulled over, told us to stand further back, pulled a fire extinguisher out of his trunk and put out the fire, called in (incorrect) directions to 911, and cleared off. THANK YOU, RANDOM GUY. I can't even remember what Anonymous Random Guy looked like, because fairly soon after he left my brain decided to replace his face with Desmond Harrington. My fandom loserness, you guys, it never turns off.

So then the cops came, and the firemen came, and there was questions and license numbers and it's all kind of blurry. And not just because the airbag knocked the glasses off my face and I had to wait to get them out of the car.

After all of it, both of us were amazingly uninjured. We got varying degrees of whiplash and my right knee felt messed up for about a day afterwards, but...minor scrapes, bruises, whiplash and emotional fucking trauma, that was it. Neither of us broke anything or appear to (at this point) have any lasting injuries. We were incredibly fucking lucky.

this is the only picture I've got. because when you're in shock and surrounded by law enforcement, waving a camera around seems like a bad idea at the time.

A quick recap of things I love right now:
2. AIR BAGS. The car I usually drive doesn't even have them.
3. CRUMPLE ZONES. Since Beka had the sense to hit them head-on instead of swerving and putting one (or both) of us in more danger, most of the force of the crash was absorbed by crumpling the crumple zone and setting it on fire.
4. RESILIENT WINDSHIELDS. Because we didn't suffer crazy lacerations or somehow get Wash-ed by the van's bumper or something. Thank you, windshield!

things I hate:
1. douchebags in big grey vans
2. anyone who brakes suddenly while I'm in the car from now until ever
3. loud "BANG"-ing noises (I'm looking at you, whoever that was in the Common Room)
4. cops who seem to assume you already know how to deal with being in a goddamn fiery car wreck 340 miles from home
5. douchebags in big grey vans
6. tow truck drivers whose response to the question "So where are the seat belts in here?" is "Stuck behind the seat, don't worry about it."
7. cars
8. any road bigger than a 2 lane highway...but most of them, too.

So then, I dunno, stuff happened, the douchebags in the big grey van drove off (their rear bumper was dented. they had some minor crunch action. they could drive off), and we waited for the tow truck. That ended in running red lights and stop signs and one of the tow truck guys flagging down a bus in Petaluma that could take us to downtown San Francisco, where our motel was.

Because by god, we had survived a fiery car crash and we were forty miles from Azkatraz and fuck the 'or', it was going to be "Azkatraz AND Bust". Also it's possible we were just in shock and going to a Harry Potter convention seemed the most sensible course of action.

So we got on the bus, carrying everything we could get out of the car (six bags, of various sizes and weights), and sat back to laugh somewhat hysterically, call our parents with our remaining cell battery life, and wonder if it had really happened. Unfortunately when we did eventually get towards downtown San Fran (hint: it wasn't a fast thing) we realized we had no real idea where the bus route was in relationship to the con and our hotel, so we ended up asking advice from a couple of people...and still ended up having to lug the bags (most of which were either heavy, large-ish, or both) at least six blocks...through downtown. And it was around 10 at night, so while the sketch factor wasn't out in full force yet, it was still pretty damn sketchy and 10pm in downtown San Francisco and we're two girls from podunk Oregon who look like we're 17, lugging our bags down the sidewalk. Not my idea of relaxing. But then we turned a corner onto 4th and bam! There was The Mosser! So we checked into our room -

- which ended up being a bed with about two feet of room around it and a sink in the corner, but I am definitely not complaining -

and after some more stress, realized it was almost 11. The Ball had started at 9, we had no idea how late things were going to go, no idea when the wrock afterparty was starting, we didn't really want to pay for the wifi, neither of us had any of the Azkatraz info phone numbers, we were exhausted and freaked out and had no idea what to do and ended up deciding to just try and get some sleep. (except I couldn't sleep, of course, but that's hardly new).

The next day we woke up and Beka got her Tonks outfit together and I resigned myself to a day of cramps and moodswings (oh yes, fan conventions, you are always so well timed) and halfheartedly sewed my patches on and stuck my vest over a random dress I'd picked up in my fruitless costume material thrifting time, and we struck out across the...okay, it was only three blocks or something to the Park55. We got there, registered, and headed towards the panels. Here's what I went to:

- Racism & Prejudice: House-Elves, Muggles, and Secret History
I went to this knowing that there was a good chance I wouldn't be getting anything new out of it. Unfortunately that was pretty much true. I'm always torn when it comes to panels: go to something you know you're really interested in, but might be just a rehashing of stuff you already know, or risk missing it in case it had new and exciting voices? Also Valerie Frankel grates on my nerves.

- Eyes of Deathly Hallows: Harry Potter's Corrected and Transforming Vision
Okay, here I'm going to admit that my knowledge of Deathly Hallows is more than rusty, and there were a few times during this presentation that I had to work to keep myself from doing the automatic "branch of philosophy I'm not particularly interested in la la la" zone-out. I didn't know about the parallels with Dante, though, and there were definitely a few things that caught my interest.

- Wrockin' for Justice
So for a while now I've been vaguely aware of wizard rock - [ profile] scifigirl was always talking about it, and I'd heard some other people mention it, but apparently what I needed was for somebody to actually sit me down in person and go "listen to this song! and this one!" for me to actually plug in. And now I feel like a complete loser for completely missing out on the wrock scene for the last few years. This is why I'm such a crazy evangelical about all my fandoms! You never know who could be missing out on something that would make their life 100% more awesome! So, wrock. For great social justice. I love Kelli because she introduced me to Kwikspell's "Ravenclaw Crush". :D

- and then we went to the [ profile] azkatrek meetup, and almost entirely failed at socializing. we did however sing along to the Don't Stop Believin' K/S vid and dance a little to Poker Face.

- Sirius-ly Celibate? Again: - Sexuality and the Adults of Harry Potter
I'm not exactly sure why I ended up at this one, but I did. It kind of collapsed into "x is why I think y is hot!" and thinly veiled ship manifestos, but it was fun.

- HP & The Unforgivable Curses
This started out slow. Really slow. I almost considered bailing, but then it picked up into a pretty animated discussion about memory charms and ethics and law in the wizarding world. Unfortunately since it took so long to take off, it ended just as it was getting really good.

- Slash as Social Justice
The only real critique I've got of this was that it didn't get into as many of the problematic areas of slash as I'd hoped it would.

- Mock Trial: The People vs. Harry Potter
This? This was wacky fun for all. I was too tired to argue, but listening was just as much fun.

After that we sat around and tried to find out what things were going on, but we didn't really know anyone and Beka wanted to get a shirt signed so we stuck around for a while after...and since she hadn't seen HBP since the midnite premiere, we decided to catch a showing before the Chris Rankin podcast thing. Turns out it costs $11 to see a movie during prime movie-watching hours in a big city. Despite the fact that this is totally ridiculous, we went anyway because of the siren call of actual surround sound and also we had no idea what else to do and I was too tired to figure out anything interesting that was close enough to actually get to.

There were definitely Azkatraz folks in that theater - don't think we couldn't hear you sniggering at the same spots we were. :D

So we went back, and arrived at the...whatever room it was in time to snag some second-row-from-the-front seats. Chris Rankin and everyone from the podcasts/bands (sorry, like I said...out of touch) got there, they did the podcast, Chris is a total sweetheart who loves cons and goes to film school, and I am going to love him so much in DH. Beka got to ask him a film school related question, majoring in that herself, which led to twittering of one of his projects!

After that whole thing was over, we went back to the area where a bunch of people were hanging out talking and playing that game where you stick a name on someone's forehead/back and they have to guess it. It got pretty loud and I was feeling tired and cranky and antisocial so I just sort of sat around for a bit, and then went off to find quieter conversations...struck the jackpot, met some really cool people, and a bunch of us ended up talking until 4 in the morning. In person geek socializing, win!

and then Tuesday we were lucky enough to get a ride but we had to leave pretty soon after we got up and we stopped by the car which now looks like this:

...and I have just spent entirely too much time writing that, but at least now it's written.

okay, Beka. your turn to fill in the gaps. XD ILU!

ps. going out of town again for a week, driving I-5 augh wish me luck.

Date: 2009-07-25 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...fairly soon after he left my brain decided to replace his face with Desmond Harrington.


wow, this is the stuff of a major scrapbook. weirdest story ever. I'm glad you had a wicked time though. Also that you're, you know, alive and shit.

Date: 2009-07-26 07:22 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-07-26 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
dude this is seriously fucking intense!!!
good job to both of you for not completely freaking out and melting down and becoming stranded somewhere outside of san fran. it's a good thing that either of you weren't alone.

also, it sounds like beka did the smartest thing in that situation. when i read the part about the crumple zones, i lol'd. i would not have had that sense. i would've taken to the grass divider like a dumbass and probably gotten everyone on the left side of the car completely killed. not just partially, the whole deal.

so much respect for beka and her stick shift skillz.

i'm so glad you two made it back safe and with fun (albeit scary) stories. ^^

Date: 2009-07-26 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] least then you could have made a Horcrux?

Date: 2009-07-26 08:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I seriously could not stop myself from laughing through most of this post... Sure, the laughter is bordering on mild hysteria and emotional trauma, but your description of the car crash just craked me up, lulz. XD

...i hate my life.

but love it very much also. :D

eeeghhhhh i'm gonna edit our video soon and possible steal bits of this post to put up for all Nerdfighteria to see, FYI. And also....sorry again. For you know. Dragging you on This. Trip.

AND I AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT PEOPLE BRAKING. EVER. IN A CAR. My heart has nearly leapt out of my chest on several occasions. I am going to become the safest driver ever.

Date: 2009-07-26 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
lol it's okay, sorry for...making it seem more likely to succeed by agreeing to come?

also feel free to steal whatever or...whatever. yay vlog! :D

sorry I have totally failed at sending pictures to you D:

Date: 2009-07-29 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
's okay about the pictures. I get them eventually! :D

Mostly commenting to tell you I found HP fic-filtering GOLD.

I'm not saying its infallibly trustworthy, but it has led me to good things! And its waaaaaaaaaaaay easier than sifting through a general fic site, XS

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