Monthly Archives: April 2015

Weathering The Storm

Last weekend while I was at Calgary Expo, I put a picture on Twitter of a poster inside the convention hall that said “Cosplay does not equal consent” and added that I loved that these signs were everywhere, and also that one unfortunate booth was removed. Because of both of these things, the convention attendees felt safe and had a really enjoyable time. The overwhelming response was that people agreed with me, but I started receiving tweets from people who don’t even follow me that just showed up to attack me, so I muted a bunch of them and reported some to Twitter. As the days went on during the convention, and after I returned home and wrote a blog post about my awesome experience there, the angry and abusive tweets kept coming my way. I know it’s usually best to just ignore people that do this but it was escalating, and sitting back in silence felt like I was just ‘taking it.” In real life and online, I stand my ground to protect myself and anyone around me who is treated badly, so I acknowledged these actions by taking a public stand for myself and for so many women who get bullied online by complete strangers.

I have always been very open and honest about who I am. If you don’t follow me on Twitter or read my blog, then of course you wouldn’t know a single thing about me, which is the case for all of the people who came out of the woodwork to attack me. So they don’t know that I’m not a gamer, or that I’ve only been on Twitter for 3 years, or that when the internet became a “thing” in the 90s, I was raising two children so I was never on it. My Twitter bio says “Accepting that I’m more of a nerd than I thought, one piece of technology at a time” because enjoying things that one would consider a “nerd” would enjoy, whether it’s actual technology or board games, tv shows, movies, whatever, is something I’ve been slowly branching out into after years of working my ass off just to help provide a home and a life with my family. Being a nerd for something is about loving what you love, no matter what it is. We don’t all love the same things, participate in the same things, or even know all of the things other people like. The internet has definitely made it easier to be able to find others with similar interests, but there’s also a ton of stuff out there that people don’t even know exists, because it just isn’t their thing, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is treating anyone badly because you’ve decided they aren’t allowed to enjoy the same things as you, or because you expect them to know everything about what goes on within your community of interests and they don’t. That is just ridiculous.

For whatever reason, the harassment women receive online when they do share a common interest, such as gaming or comics, is out of control. Some women don’t acknowledge the harassment, some just remove themselves from that community to avoid the harassment, and some take a stand, only to have the harassment increase exponentially. I took a stand against being harassed for myself and for other women online and BOY, did they come out in droves to contribute to the very problem I was pointing out. I knew I could do this because this kind of behavior doesn’t hurt me or get to me, which I know isn’t always the case for others who get bullied online.

My first tweet acknowledging the negative comments I had been receiving from people whose Twitter profiles each said they were in GamerGate (I checked each one and continue to do so before muting them when I get their abusive tweets) was to say for every angry/abusive tweet I get from one of these GamerGate people, I would be donating money to a non-profit feminist charity called Feminist Frequency. I was attacked so quickly and so ferociously  after saying that, so I then said I was going to cap my donation at $1,000. After 2 hours of nonstop abusive tweets, I made the donation to Feminist Frequency, and because of the content of so many of these tweets, I added donating $1,000 each to RAINN, an organization that helps rape and abuse victims, as well as to ACLU. I chose to do this to have something positive come out of a horribly negative thing that so many people do: bully and abuse women online.

I was called a bitch, a cunt, a whore, an autistic, retarded, a fucking idiot, a faggot, a middle-aged mom, (that one was hilarious because it’s true but I guess was an attempt at an insult) a fake geek girl, and stupid too many times to count. I was told repeatedly to kill myself, drop dead, jump off a cliff, and deserved to be killed “700 ways” as well as numerous threats of rape and other forms of violent harm. I was told over and over that no one cares about me, or what I was saying, or what I did with donating my money, yet hundreds and hundreds of people were seeking me out to bully me, threaten me, and even photoshop a fake tweet meant to look like I wrote it that said “I really want all these trolls to die. In fact I’m going to kill them all myself.” This is a hell of a lot of effort going into not caring what I have to say. And in the middle of all of these abusive tweets was a series of 4 tweets from one person claiming to be a sniper who planned to “wipe [me] the fuck out with precision.” I reported many of these people to Twitter, who were super helpful and suspended accounts (the first suspension being of this so-called “sniper” dude) and was told to contact our local police to file a harassment report, which I did.

What was crazy to me in all of this were the people coming after me to say that they “didn’t see a single threat” in my Twitter mentions and that I was lying. I guess when one lives online among a community of people who treat each other like this on a a daily basis, they think that kind of talk is perfectly fine. Like I said earlier, I haven’t been on Twitter or the internet very long, but the people who follow me and who I follow in my online community don’t treat each other this way. To justify this behavior as “it’s just a troll, get over it” or “you’re such a fucking idiot, that’s a meme from 10 years ago” and treat all of it like it isn’t a threat? Unreal. But I guess if your plan is to just blindly attack a stranger for the thrill of dog-piling on, that’s the least of your problems.

I know in every large group there’s going to be ones that make them look bad among the people who just like being part of a group. Through Twitter and through emails, I actually heard from several GamerGate people who wanted to reach out to apologize for the atrocious behavior of these other people in the GamerGate community that make the rest of them look bad, which I really appreciated. I have no qualms about anyone choosing to be part of any group, club, organization, whatever. The only issue I have, and the reason this all came up in the first place, is when people that are part of any large group, in this case it was pretty much all from GamerGate, make abusive comments and threats. It’s a huge problem that has been addressed many times. Sadly, without much change to the problem itself. I’m glad I said something about it and would gladly do it again.

You get one life. Try to use it to be kind, to be honest, and to be honorable. And if you don’t know how to do that, seek some therapy for your anger issues and leave the rest of us out of it. No one deserves to endure the shit storm of abuse you fling their way.

No one.



Humble Blog

This past weekend, I attended Calgary Expo. I was asked to participate by Espionage Cosmetics because Bonnie Burton and I designed some nail wraps with them, and by the convention organizers to moderate the SHARKNADO panel since I love the hell out of SHARKNADO. Sadly, the panel was canceled because Tara Reid canceled attending the convention, but I still spent some time in the Espionage Cosmetics booth with Bonnie on Saturday, and then by myself on Sunday, to meet convention attendees who enjoyed our nail wraps and all the other cool stuff Espionage Cosmetics makes.

I have never attended this convention before,  but Wil has and loved it so he encouraged me to go, knowing I would have a great time. He was so right. The staff and volunteers were some of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever met, and so were the convention guests who came by the booth to introduce themselves to me.

I have gone to conventions with Wil in the past when he is a guest of the convention. A couple of times I’ve even sat with him at his table where people have the opportunity to talk to him or get an autograph or just to shake his hand. Before actually sitting with him to see this experience firsthand, Wil would tell me stories of people he’d met who said he’d helped them because of writing about being a step-parent, or writing about seeking help for depression because he has been very vocal about his own experience with it.  Some just want to express their love of his story writing, his acting work, or his board gaming shows. He is always so grateful and so humbled by hearing how much he has positively affected the lives of strangers. It’s a conversation one doesn’t often get an opportunity to hear, but conventions have made it a way for people to share these things, which is really cool.

Bonnie and I had been scheduled to be in the Espionage booth twice on Saturday, both for a two hour time period, and then I was by myself for two hours on Sunday (it was scheduled that way on Sunday because it was supposed to precede the SHARKNADO panel.)There was a steady flow of convention attendees who came by to meet us during our time there, but the topics of conversation surprised me. The surprise was in a good way, but it wasn’t what I expected.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read my blog before so you know I’ve written about our dog, Riley, who passed away two weeks ago. I’ve also written a lot about rescue animals and what I do with the Pasadena Humane Society. I’ve written ridiculously embarrassing stories of things that happen to me, weird changes in my health that have come with aging, living with someone with depression, finding happiness by doing what I love, being married, and being a parent. Basically, I just write about what I feel, what I know, and what occasionally amuses me. What I never considered was how many people actually read what I write, and how much it has positively affected those readers in one way or another.

I won’t go into the details of personal conversations I had, but I will tell you that I laughed, I cried, and I hugged more people I’d never known before this weekend, and I loved every minute of it. It makes me so happy to know that something I’ve done helps someone I’ve never met before, and I love that we got this opportunity to talk to each other in person. I know there are so many wonderful people in the world who make an effort to be kind, and to be good to others, and who try to make a positive difference in the world. Whether it’s acknowledged on a large or small scale, or sometimes not at all, I love knowing that people are inherently good, and so many of us try to do good with our time in this world.

As much as I enjoyed meeting and seeing all of these wonderful people, I also know there can be people out there who look for opportunities to try to be hurtful and harmful to people who just want to enjoy a convention experience.  I know this happened at Calgary Expo this weekend, and the staff and local authorities handled the situation immediately. It’s an unfortunate world we live in where angry and unhappy people try to find ways to take the joy out of life for someone else, but it was obvious by the thousands of people at this convention that it wasn’t going to affect their enjoyment of the weekend.

Thank you, long time internet buddies, and new buddies that came to Calgary Expo and shared some of your time with me. I hope you had a great weekend. I know I sure did.



As you may know, I do a lot of work with the Pasadena Humane Society. All year long, they do little events within local communities with everything from adoption to education about animals to various types of fundraising. PHS services nine local cities and helps with rescuing stray animals off the streets to bring to the shelter for care and get adopted, as well as rescuing wildlife from local neighborhoods and releasing them back into their natural habitat. All of the care of these animals is costly, but PHS has found lots of cool ways to help support their organization. Their biggest springtime event is an annual golf tournament and silent auction, which brings in all kinds of awesome auction items. This year in particular has brought in some really incredible and unique items, so they decided to make the auction public!

There’s a lot of really great items in the auction, but I particularly love the ones we contributed to it, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to love them as well. The first one is the script from the most recent episode of “The Big Bang Theory” that Wil did that just aired last week. The script has the notes he wrote in it during rehearsals, and the cover is signed by every cast member, as well as the guests on that episode. Yes, even Kevin Smith signed it. I KNOW!! So, that’ super cool in itself, but included with the script is a cast photo signed by each cast member of the show. I don’t know how often things like this surface for the public to access, but if you would like to bid on it (U.S.residents only. The cost of shipping any of these items internationally would be too costly) your funds will be a 100% tax deduction because it all goes to PHS. Here’s the link to the script and photo auction.

Signed Big Bang Theory Cast Photo Signed Big Bang Theory Script Wil Wheaton Personal Production Draft

These next items are so cute I can’t even stand it. Nathan Sawaya is an artist who creates the coolest sculptures out of LEGO and has shows in galleries and museums globally. You may have seen his work recently if you watched the Academy Awards this year, when Oprah and a handful of award-winning actors got a yellow LEGO Oscar statue. If you’re a collector of amazing and unusual art, you will love what he generously donated to the PHS auction. He created statues of a black dog and a grey cat. EEEEEEE!!! ( I love them and had a really hard time just delivering it to the shelter and not keeping it for myself.) Nathan has his signature printed on one of the bricks, which you will see on the side of the tail on the dog and on the leg of the cat. Again, these items are up for bid only for U.S. residents, as the cost of shipping will be insane if they’re shipped internationally. And just like the script and photo, the funds for these items are 100% tax deductible for you. Everyone wins!

The online auction is only happening for one day so get in on it quick! And thank you for supporting a wonderful organization!

LEGO dog and cat created by Nathan Sawaya



In Our Hearts Forever

Twelve years ago, we adopted a nine month old dog to be a companion for our other rescue dog, Ferris. We named this sweet, little white dog, Riley. She had been found locked in a closet at an abandoned hotel that was about to be torn down, so she was anxious as hell about everything but boy, did she love people. She and Ferris got along great, until they didn’t. At least once a year out of nowhere, Riley would start a fight with Ferris. Ferris was not aggressive by any means but as the pack leader, she didn’t back down to this and Riley always ended up with a couple of stitches.

When Ferris died unexpectedly from cancer 6 years ago, we were introduced to a seven month old puppy when we did the Wiggle Waggle Walk for the Pasadena Humane Society in Ferris’s honor, six weeks after her death. We hadn’t planned to get a new dog yet, but Seamus was so mellow and so good with all of the dogs and kids at the walk, that we decided he would be a good companion for Riley, who was very mopey since Ferris had died. They got along great, until Riley decided they didn’t, and would try to start a fight with Seamus. Seamus being so young and looked to Riley as a pack leader, would immediately roll on his back and the scuffle would be over.

A couple of years after getting Seamus, Riley’s physical health really declined. She had horrible osteoarthritis in her knees and it eventually moved to her elbows. She fell a lot as a result, which appeared to make her anxiety worse. She had developed a growth in her abdomen and one near her heart, and was not interested in playing with Seamus at all. The vet was unsure how long she would live, so we did our best to make her happy and comfortable. We also decided that a “transition” companion dog for Seamus would be good so he would still have someone to play with, and the loss of Riley wouldn’t be as devastating to him as losing Ferris was to Riley. This is how Marlowe came to live with us two and a half years ago.

Even being an energetic four month old puppy, Marlowe sensed Riley’s limitations and looked to Seamus to play and snuggle with. Riley joined on her terms, but didn’t stick around long. Marlowe had figured out that Riley just liked to stand on the lawn and butts-up bark at Marlowe because she liked to watch Marlowe run laps around the lawn. Marlowe happily obliged and ran those laps with a huge grin on her face. But occasionally, out of nowhere, Riley would snap at Marlowe in an attempt to start a fight over nothing. Marlowe would roll on her back and we would get Riley away, but I was really worried about her behavior with now two strong dogs in the house.

We hired a private dog trainer to come see the dynamic of our dogs in our home as well as their behavior when we took them out for walks. The first thing she asked us was who we thought was the pack leader of the three. We both said Riley because she’s the oldest, plus she has always asserted herself as the leader. We were wrong. It was Seamus. She said the pack leader never has to assert themselves as such, and Riley, who has always fought for that, was doing that because of her anxiety and because she knows she is weak. We learned ways to help Riley manage her anxiety, whether it was giving her her own chew toy in another room when Seamus and Marlowe were playing, or wearing a Thundershirt, which is like a compression garment intended to be calming and soothing. Nothing worked.

A couple of months after adopting Marlowe, all three dogs had run out into the back yard one evening because they heard a noise. Marlowe, being the energetic puppy, tried to bolt past everyone and bumped Riley, which hurt Riley’s arthritic knee. Riley redirected her anxiety from the situation onto Seamus by attacking him. I ran outside to see little Marlowe tumbling under Riley’s legs as Riley was trying to bite Seamus. Because I was home alone, I had no choice but to slide Marlowe out from under all of this and leave Riley and Seamus in this fight so I could get Marlowe inside to safety. It was the first time I understood the pack leader status as I watched Seamus just try bearing his teeth to get Riley to stop, who wouldn’t obey him. She just kept lunging at him, so Seamus did what pack leaders do to protect the rest of their pack by gently holding her on the ground by the neck. Riley was so neurotic that as soon as he let her go, she would lunge at him again. At one point,  I made the stupid move of trying to step in the middle of them to block Seamus from Riley, and in the process, Riley bit my thigh. My scream made her let go and Seamus knew he had to protect himself and me, so he held her down by the neck until my neighbor jumped my fence and came over to help me separate them. I wrote about this (with horrible photos, you’ve been warned) on Google+ afterward.

I knew Riley wasn’t being aggressive toward me and for two weeks after the incident, she followed me around, sniffing at my thigh with her head down and licking Seamus on the face as often as she could. Both submissive acts of behavior, so I hoped this would be the end of it. Unfortunately, a couple of months later, she again tried to start a fight with Marlowe out of nowhere and Seamus stepped in to protect Marlowe. Wil jumped in to break them up and in the process, Riley bit his wrist. Again, unintentional, but something needed to be done.

I took Riley to the vet the next day. I was in tears as I explained Riley’s behavior, which seemed to be getting worse with age. At 11 years old, I knew the behavior wasn’t a thing that could be trained out of her. I didn’t want to find another home for her; she’d been in our home her whole life. I could see that she was like an angry, dementia woman who acted out over nothing. She still had health and life in her, so we didn’t want to give up on her. Our vet suggested Prozac, which can work wonders on dogs with anxiety. We tried it, and immediately saw an improvement in Riley. The dose was good for about a year, but it had to be increased about 8 months ago, when her mental state seemed to be worsening. It helped so much, but the reality is she was getting really frail, which still made her anxious, and on top of it all, she had become pretty deaf.

We did what we could to make Riley happy and ease her pain and her anxiety. While Seamus and Marlowe played outside, Riley would get toys she could tear the fluff out of, which she loved. Wil and I would take her for walks alone, so she could smell all the smells, and go at her own pace with special time just the three of us. She loved to get loved on by our friends who would come over, always bringing her happy face and all of the fur she could shed on everyone’s clothes. Nobody cared that they were covered in her fur, everyone just loved how happy and affectionate she was. She was still anxious and more frail than ever, so I would step in and have her go lay down somewhere if I saw in her eyes that she was stressed.

On Easter Sunday, Wil and I went to Santa Barbara for a couple of days of relaxation following a very intense week of filming that Wil had just done. Our son, Nolan, was housesitting for us, which he’d done dozens of times, so I knew the animals were in good hands. While we were at dinner, Nolan called me with some awful news. He had fed the dogs and Marlowe came over to sniff Riley’s dish. Riley snapped at Marlowe, so Seamus jumped in to protect Marlowe. Marlowe got out of the way and as Riley was going after Seamus, she hurt her leg and couldn’t get up. Nolan knows she has bad osteoarthritis so he assumed her leg was broken, and had rushed her to an emergency vet. The vet called me a short time later to tell me Riley had dislocated her hip, which is very painful. They would have to put her under to push it back into place but because her osteoarthritis was so bad in her knees, they would have to tape her back legs together for six weeks to stabilize her hip. This would result in horrible pain and discomfort and make her anxiety even worse. And because of her age, the hip would most likely continue to dislocate, negatively affecting the quality of her life, and continue to cause horrible pain.

By this time, our other son, Ryan, was at the vet with Nolan, waiting to hear about Riley. The vet had given her pain meds, but Ryan said even with those, she looked so unhappy and still in so much pain. At nearly 13 years old (her birthday was yesterday) we didn’t want the end of her life to be about so much pain and misery. We decided the humane thing to do was to have her put to sleep so she wasn’t in pain anymore. We couldn’t stand the thought of keeping her doped up for two hours just so we could be drive back to say goodbye, so the kids were with her until the end.

I have been a sobbing mess since this happened. We came home early from Santa Barbara to be with our kids and our other animals. There is an emptiness in our house without Riley here. She was a tough dog to deal with all these years, but I know we did everything we could to give her a good life. I hate that it ended the way it did, but in a way, I always knew she would somehow go as a result of starting a fight.

Riley became known as the “I’M A DOG!” face with all the pictures we put of her on the internet over the years. The outpouring of love and support from real friends and internet friends has been so overwhelmingly kind. From planting flowers in her honor, to making donations to local shelters in her memory, to even registering a star in her name just so I can look up and think of her every night, is so unexpectedly wonderful. I love that this sweet, oddball of a dog has so many people who cared about her and will miss her goofy face as much as we do.

Goodbye, little girl. We love you.

Riley's happy face