She drowned in the moonlight and was strangled by her own bra (a tribute to the princess who taught me how cool it was to be a nerd)

I like to tell people that I was a nerd before nerdisms were cool. I had the glasses before they were ironically chic. I scaled my own mountain of books, I carried the love of fictional realities, a knowledge of Star Wars and astronomy. I adored history, I checked out so many books with each trip to the library I could barely see over the pile as I carried them to my mom’s car. I played with my microscope far more than an other little girl I knew (in fact, I was the only little girl I knew who owned one- stolen from my older brothers and jealously guarded lest they ask for its return. Lucky for me, their interests turned more to the automotive side rather than observable science). I even went so far as to do ‘math puzzles’ for fun (something I still find ironic because I grew into a woman who still cringes at the thought of even the simplest math without a calculator- I still subtly use my fingers to count out a tip at a restaurant). I knew I was a bit of an odd little duck, and yet, I always had a pressing desire to fit in. So I did what every self-conscious young girl does; I hid the pieces of myself I thought others wouldn’t understand. It can be a lonely existence when you closet away your deepest obsessions out of what amounts to simple insecurity as a child. I’ve always been odd, but it took me awkward year upon awkward year to embrace it as I discovered other like-minded indivdiauals who carried their passions like a badge of honor, an invitation to others who shared that love. 

Growing up and leaving high school, I met more diverse people than my small town had to offer. Suddenly I found people I could have interesting and different conversations with. One of the first things I found I could bond with my new ‘nerdy’ friends over was none other than the epitome of geek culture: Star Wars. I own every movie (with special features), though it’s been, admittedly, a long time since I have watched some of the originals. My friends carry their storm trooper tattoos on their arms with pride as we all tromp into comicon together. Star Wars was a jumping off point for me, a doorway into a world of acceptance that I deeply craved when I was growing up. Filled with intriguing characters and a rich storyline, it also brought new fodder to my always active imagination. And right there, in the center of it all was a young actress named Carrie Fisher. 

It is always a sad day when the heroes of our past prove to be mere mortals. Hearing of her death felt like a punch to the stomach this morning. When she had her heart attack on Friday, I was convinced that she would be okay. After all, she had spent her life being a fighter. Nothing was going to get her down. No, she was far too tough for this life, something so simple would not be the end of such a strong, charismatic woman. And yet, I could not run from the truth for long.

I’ve read some of her books in the past, in fact, I fell in love with the quirky attitude in ‘Wishful Drinking’ only a month ago and couldn’t stop talking about it. I listened to the audiobook and couldn’t get enough of the hilarious delivery and energy that she threw into her work. She was not just an actress; she was a fellow writer, an odd duck, a woman who was unafraid to share her experiences if it would assist someone else from following her troubled road. She spoke of difficult topics with a self-depreciating candor and vital humor that allowed room for more open conversations about topics that were sadly swept under the rug for far too long. She was who she was, a princess of the stars in more ways than one. And she never apologized for that. She owned who she was with a bravery that I am still learning to find within myself.

What hurts with her death is the feeling of camaraderie I felt towards a woman I have never met (well, apart from sneak peeks at a comicon, but that doesn’t count). She was undoubtedly an odd little ducky; and yet, that is exactly what drew me to her. Because I am an odd little duck too, a duckling that spent far too long trying to find her way. She inspired me to embrace who I am with humor and dignity, to smile at the people who don’t understand the type of person I am, without feeling like there is something inherently wrong with me. She taught me to have open conversations about difficult topics with people who have a new perspective to offer me. She taught me to have compassion for others as well as myself. I was, perhaps, more of a fan of her words, rather than her acting (though that was also inspiring); but it was her truth that she shared without apology that genuinely intrigued me. She embraced who she was and reminded me that is okay for me to do the same.


So tonight I send this tribute to a woman who I never knew, but who had an impact on me nonetheless. This is for the princess who showed us all the stars. This is for the woman who proudly proclaimed who she was to the world and never asked for forgiveness. This is for the woman who showed us the true power found in humor and honesty. This is for the actress who helped inspire a cult following; one who helped me find others who carried a freak flag that looked just like mine. This is for the woman who built cultural bridges that we all can cross if we are willing to open outselves to the passion of the experience. This is for the woman who reminds me of the little girl I was, secretly playing with microscopes and staring at the stars.


May you find the peace that you so deserved in life. May you find comfort in knowing that you have made a difference; we all mourn our mutual loss tonight, though for many different reasons. Thank you for the lessons you imparted, for the brave and open way you fought your most personal fight. Thank you for all that you gave the world, it is a better place because of your presence. Thank you for the laughter, for the insight, and most of all, for the courage to be completely true to oneself.

Be Our Own Heroes: Spread Hope

They say that anger is just love disappointed.
They say that love is just a state of mind.
But all this fighting over who is anointed,
Oh, how can people be so blind?

There’s a hole in the world tonight.
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow.
There’s a hole in the world tonight.
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

-The Eagles

Tonight we are unified in mutual pain; all of us bleed for the lives cut too short, all of us cry for a world that can never be what it was yesterday. We are the same, and we are different for our losses. Where is our hero tonight? Where is our modern day MLK to tout the evils of violence and lead us towards a better tomorrow? Who will save us from this mess we have made? How many scars can we etch into our own hearts before we stop feeling the pain? How many times can we tear one another apart before there is nothing left to save? We are angry, we are afraid, and we are hurting.

I wont pretend to understand, I know that I never will. There are shoes I have never walked in, there are worlds out there that I have never seen. I cannot say that I understand what it means to fear because of the color of my skin. I cannot say that I know what it’s like to carry the pressures of a badge and be forced to make life or death decisions in the blink of an eye. I know that hindsight is 20/20, and we have all been blind. I know that none of this should have ever happened. I know that some people have prejudices in them, and I know that some people make the wrong decisions at the worst times. I know that the world is not so simple as to be categorized into good and evil. We are not angels and demons; we are simply humans.

We want to let the anger overpower the pain so that we don’t have to feel it anymore. We want explanations, a reason, an enemy. We want to find a villain in these stories, someone to blame, to focus our hatred on. We are so busy pointing the finger that we forget what the real enemy is. It is not black culture, white culture, or the power of the police. The true enemy is hate. Hate is the explosive expression of fear and anger. We are not each other’s enemies, we do not have to be.

We distance ourselves from the problem by talking in generalities, we jump to conclusions based on cursory facts. We forget that these instances are about real people. We forget that there are two sides to every story. Does racism still exist? Yes. Do prejudices against the police? Yes. We keep taking large swaths of people and painting them with one brush instead of looking at them individually. It’s harder to hate when you look at a person, not an abstract idea. These problems that we have will not be erased in large sweeping gestures. This is a battle fought one small moment at a time. We have to stop categorizing one another and simply view each other as people. We have to learn to be kind again.

There will be no knight in shining armor coming to save the day. We have to do the saving. We have to start the painful conversations to stop the violence. We have to be willing to take a step out of our own shoes and look at the world from a differing perspective. We have to re-humanize one another. It will be the little actions that save us; asking someone how they are- how they really are- and waiting to hear the answer. It is about giving a simple nod of recognition when you pass someone in the store. It is about helping someone in need, it is about standing up for those who cannot do it themselves. It is about protecting one another. It is in these moments, when we are connecting, that we are the most human. It is in these moments that we will find our hope.

Most of us are not hateful, most of us are just tired. We are exhausted from the violence, and truthfully- we are scared. But we are not alone. We are all in this together. United we stand, divided we will fall. So here is the challenge: go out and show the world some kindness. Remind one another that the world is not always an ugly place- it will forever be what we make of it. Expand your horizons, speak to someone you don’t know- connect with a culture you don’t understand. Or simply give a smile to someone who looks like they need it.  Remind everyone that the world is beautiful. Spread hope instead of despair.