Keystone Con 2018

Been wanting for a while now to get back to writing about my convention adventures with y’all, so after my weekend at Keystone Comic Con, it feels like the time is right. While this was a con that definitely had a rough start (this was its first year) I still had a great time, and being there reminded me why I love conventions so dang much. So let’s get to it!

The People

My favorite thing about conventions is always getting to meet new people. At almost every one I have been to, at some point, I’ll strike up a chat with a stranger, and before we know it, we’re bonding over Supernatural like we’ve been besties for years. This con was no exception.

Despite the vastness of the space and the fact that there were far fewer attendees than originally anticipated, I still managed to make some new friends and talk to the amazing vendors that were there on the show floor selling their wares. I got to geek out with some really great cosplayers while taking a break from walking around in the food table area, and had so much fun talking about a show I haven’t watched in a while, that upon getting home that night, I ended up binge watching a few episodes. Fandom’s such a powerful thing, and I am always reminded of that when I get to engage with geeky people at cons like this one.

o3ntBRll
Panel pals!
The Panels

Admittedly, there were far less panels than I would have liked, because ask any friend who ever has gone to a con with me; I love me some panels. But just because they were few, doesn’t mean the ones I went to weren’t mighty.

The two standouts for me were LGBT Geeks Unite and Afro Punks and Blerds, which featured some really fantastic and passionate panelists. At LGBT Geeks, (hosted by Chris Cummins, and Bill Zanowitz of the Comic Book Bears podcast) there was only a handful of us in attendance, but I had such a great time I ended up laughing till my sides hurt with these guys. I’d love to see this panel continue at Keystone next year, and really appreciated the fact that even the panelists themselves expressed that they want to see a more diverse group of queer geeks going forward. And I walked away from this panel with an awesome Riverdale comic, so there’s that too!

Afro Punks and Blerds was wonderful, with the panelists (which included David F Walker, SAMMUS, Ken Lashley, and Jamar Nicholas) discussing how much they love and embrace their blackness and the experiences that come with that, and they spoke on maintaining one’s artistic integrity in the face of an overwhelmingly white and oppressive media environment. This panel in particular is the kind I’d hope to see more of at next year’s con—ones with experts in their field speaking unapologetically on the importance of diversity in media.

Then of course their was the fact that I got to host panels at the con. My fellow NaNoWriMo MLs (the dynamic duo behind Crimson Melodies Publishing) and I were asked to host a few, and while again, attendance numbers we low, it was a delight getting to speak on them. We introduced a few newbies to the challenge, and got to meet someone always on our forums IRL! I even got to giveaway a copy of Unraveling Light which was unreal and terrifying and awesome all at once.

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LOOK AT MAH FRIENDS AND ALL THEIR BOOKS. GO BUY SOME.

Oh, and I saw John Barrowman sing dramatically in a sparkly TARDIS dress and Catherine Tate spoke to me in the audience of her panel. That happened and was beautiful. 😭

The Experience

I’ve said it a few times already—this con wasn’t everything I, or anyone really, was 100% hoping it would be. But the fact that ReedPOP (who put on GREAT shows at NYCC and other spots across the country) are trying to build something in my hometown still makes me excited. The hope is that while things will likely be more scaled down next year, the con will still have the same great people, and more robust programming to fill out the schedule. I for one can’t wait for next August when I get to go back.

Till then, I’ll be excitedly and impatiently waiting for the next big con I’m hoping to attend, PodCon 2019!

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A Million Things I Haven’t Done

Way back in the day, when I was a wee 13 year old, I had a Xanga. If you don’t know what Xanga is, I’ll just be over here dusting off my cobwebs and trying not to feel ancient. If you are in the know, you know that it pre-dates Insta, Twitter, even Facebook. It was a blogging site that for some reason, I adored, and it was my first foray into the blogging world. I used to write on that baby all the time, even up until college, letting it serve as a means of chronicling my life and years. And so, as I reflect back on how much I miss than dang blog, I thought I’d bring back an old tradition, which was writing just before my birthday about everything I’d done in the past year, and then looking ahead to what comes next.

So 26.

What a damn year, yo. Let’s break down some of the highlights, starting with last year and working up to the most recent highlights…

OCTOBER 2016
Mere weeks after turning 26, I went to my first New York Comic Con, where I proceeded to meet Guillermo del Toro, Ron Pearlmean, Steven Yeun, Andy Serkis, and this little guy you may have heard of named STAN F**KING LEE. *breathes a moment* Sorry. I get carried away about that last one. We also hosted our first live show for SpeakBeasty at that con, which was unreal and magical and definitely didn’t make me cry. (Narrator voice: she definitely DID.)

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER 2016
As any American without a MAGA hat will tell you, November was hard. Gut wrenching, heartbreaking, soul crushing hard. I went from standing in the shadow of Independence Hall the night before the election, hearing the Obama’s and the Clinton’s speak, thinking, this is it. History is happening right in front of me. I’m here the night before the first woman president gets elected. As we all know, the story didn’t pan out that way, and that has led to our very frightening current climate. To add insult to injury, the depression I experienced that month was so intense, that I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo.

But, because my life is weird like that, there was one thing that happened the day after the election that managed to be a beacon in the darkness. A patronus memory in the making, if you will. For on November 9th and 10th, I got to see an advanced press screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I got to cover the goddamn red carpet, where I saw J.K. Rowling in person. Yeah. I don’t talk about this moment of my life enough. But it definitely happened, and no fronting whatsoever, I SOBBED. I wish I’d gotten a picture with her or a signature or said hey thanks for my childhood and life and stuff, but that’s an adventure for another day. 😉 Seeing her was enough to turn on the light even in the darkest of times.

Oh, and I saw Hamilton. That happened. #StillNotOverIt

JANUARY 2017
It’s true what they say that when one door closes, another one opens. The only thing of note that went down during this month was finding out my short story wasn’t going to be published by Inkshares, and subsequently entering it to be published in a literary magazine, which led to…..

FEBRUARY & MARCH 2017
The month I found out/got my first work of my life legitimately published. I still look at my copy of Wizards in Space sometimes, in sheer disbelief that it exists. That my story is printed within its pages, and that strangers out there somewhere who I may never meet have heard a story I had to tell. And apparently at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria, John Green bought a copy of the mag, which means that there’s a small chance John Green has read something I wrote. Being 26 could have dropped the mic here and been fine cause IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THAT KIDS. (Or does it???)

APRIL & MAY 2017
As if getting a story published wasn’t enough, these two months finally saw me getting a new job, the job I’d honestly been wanting ever since graduating college and starting to work at the company I’m with. It’s not a dream job, nor a job I plan to stay at forever, but its the first time in my life that I have ever made a livable wage. I’m by no means making big bucks or anything, but it allows me to function more like a normal person, and man, it sounds insane to say, but being a person without wanting to die every minute because of financial stress is just bliss, I tell you.

JUNE/JULY 2017
Much of this summer blurs together, since most of it was spent doing one of two things–being at the new job, or working on the rewrite for They Are the Last. I made a lot of progress during these summer months, taking the story a bit slower and steadier without the worry of a publishing campaign looming over my every moment. July and August blazed by as I worked lots of extra hours and then spent what weekends I could stealing away to cafes to write. I also got a lot more into my love of poetry, which led to me doing my first spoken word event.

AUGUST 2017
This one was a bit of a month, as I finally moved into a new apartment and at long last, started getting treatment for my anxiety and depression. These two things happening at just about the same time made for a really interesting combination, and as exhausting as the move was (I managed to sprain an ankle the day I was originally supposed to) it was a process I needed. It was the closing of a door, while opening a shiny new one. It was a sign of progress that I desperately needed to feel like I’m moving forward with my life. And the medication has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I’m finally starting to manage my conditions, in a way that doesn’t rip me apart as much as it used to. It’s been incredible.

SEPTEMBER 2017
Only 19 days of this month, and already, unparalleled moments and memories I’ll treasure forever. My vacation to Orlando to attend MuggleNet LIVE 19 Years Later was too unbelievable to comprehend. I spent a magical day at Disney with a number of my SpeakBeasty friends, ushered in the only canon date in Harry Potter that fans have been able to live through together (September 1st, 2017, the day Albus goes off to Hogwarts) and spent lazy days strolling through Universal with people I love more than anything. I got to live out my dream of spending a day writing in the Wizarding World, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s with a Butterbeer ice cream working on edits, and enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Leaky Cauldron as I worked on the book. It was too beautiful for these measly words to convey. I wish life could be like it every day.

Which brings me to the now. Or rather, the tomorrow. Tomorrow, I turn 27, an age that doesn’t come with much pomp or circumstance, and which forces me to face the fact that I was 17 10 years ago. But I feel energized for it. I feel an anxious kind of ready that’s trapped in my bones. I look back at how my life has progressed over especially the last 3 years, and each time, life gets ever more complex which makes it ever the more beautiful.

My life still gets messed up. I’m still broke some days. I still get majorly stressed. I still don’t always accomplish the things I set out to do. But the one thing I have yet to do, and which I pray I never do till my time on Earth is done, is give up. I hope that 27 is a year in which I keep pushing forward, and boldly going after my dreams, even though the thought of it scares the hell out of me. But as my fave said in a tweet earlier this year, which I put to paint…

“Courage. Even when panic’s at the back of your throat, courage.”
-Lin Manuel Miranda

I hope as I go forth into my 27th year that I can have even a shred of the courage exhibited by my heroes. I hope that even as I struggle, beautiful things come of it. I hope that no matter what comes my way, I don’t give up. Because for all the amazing things that happened to me while I was 26, there’s still a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait… 😉

 

On The Road Again

Today we interrupt your regularly scheduled novel blogging to take you on an adventure!

TO GEEKY CON!
TO GEEKY CON!

That’s right kids, seems like just yesterday I was leaving for Leaky Con 2014, but here I am a year later just about to set off on the road with my new MuggleNet friend Rachael.

We have a long journey ahead of us to Orlando. Tonight we will be hitting it Winchester style by crashing in some motel along the way and then completing our journey south in the morning. Can’t express enough how ready I am for this since its probably the legit-ist road trip I have ever been on, and it really is to the most exciting place ever: Geeky Con.

Best. Place. Ever.
Best. Place. Ever.

For those unfamiliar, Geeky Con used to be called Leaky Con, which started out as a small Harry Potter convention a few years back, but over time, and as other multi-fandom nerds like myself began to emerge, the con took on a bigger, crazier atmosphere – which I love, to be honest. I’ve seen a lot of hate flung this Con’s way, and while I can’t speak to what it was like before 2014 when I went for the first time, I can say going last year was some of the six best days of my life. I met John Green, made awesome new friends, chilled in a hot tub with famous YouTubers and one of the actors from Glee, and most specially – I got to meet and chat with Robbie Thompson, my favorite writer from Supernatural, and hug Amber Benson, who played Tara on Buffy. (She even took one of my business card as well!!!!!) Safe to say, Geeky is a magical place.

See? Coulson agrees!!
See? Coulson agrees!!

This year there are a number of people attending who I cannot wait to meet, many of whom are friends I have made on the internet, who I have yet to meet IRL, but now finally the time has come! We’ll get to hang out, relax, and even attend panels to help me with my writing! I may even meet Veronica Roth, the author of the incredible Divergent series. Oh, and did I mention? In addition to the con, I’M GOING BACK TO WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, TO FREAKING DISNEY WORLD!!!!!!

ME RIGHT NOWWWW
ME RIGHT NOWWWW

There’s really nothing better than being able to go on another adventure like this. I’ve recently had so many people say, “Oh your so lucky!” and I’m really just at the point where I don’t believe thats it. For the first time in an extraordinarily long time, I really feel so very, very blessed. While I’ve had plenty of struggles in the past year (there’s a lot more to my life than my blog) I’ve also seen such a turnaround in my fortunes, and I truly believe it’s because I finally believe that if something good can happen, it will.

So happiness to all, chase your dreams like Bilbo chased those dwarves, and there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to . . .

 

Breakfast at Hogwarts

This blog is part of my “Elayna Ventures: London & Edinburgh 2015” Travel Journal

April 17th, 2015

DAY TWO

As my friend Claire so wonderfully put it when she posted the photo below:

Stuff Tiffany’s! Breakfast at Hogwarts is what it’s all about!”

Photo taken by & comandeered from my MuggleNet friend & fellow staffer, Claire Furner.
Photo taken by & commandeered from my MuggleNet friend & fellow staffer, Claire Furner.

After only about five hours of sleep in the span of two days, my friend Laura and I awoke trying our best not to pull a muscle from fangirling too hard, because we were about to have breakfast at Hogwarts. WHO ELSE DO YOU KNOW CAN SAY THAT?!?

Basically, over the years, we at MuggleNet have built some pretty great relationships with WB and the people behind the series. So naturally, when WB heard we were going to be rolling into London to host the biggest Harry Potter event in the UK for 2015 (#nbd) they apparently decided to do something nice for us. When our boss reached out to them about us coming to visit, they in turn offered for our staff to come in for a free tour/light breakfast. The conversation in which I discovered this excellent news is still rather priceless:

I'm not fangirling, you're fangirling.
Because what better reaction than a cactus with a balloon when you learn you’re going to Hogwarts?

#NerdyVIPI spent the ensuing week and a half after learning this information trying to hold myself together and not have a spazz attack at the thought of MuggleNet getting its own tour, so that by the time the day came, I was quite the jittery mess of feels. Some of us teamed up and caught a taxi, and I must say that there’s nothing quite like the craziness of pulling up to the studios and seeing that big logo for The Making of Harry Potter. Once inside, we were greeted by the incredibly nice people who worked at the Studio Tour, and a little sign that read MuggleNet Registration. I must be honest, it felt like we were nerdy VIP’s or something. As we waited for the rest of our group to arrive, the girl leads us through this back area and in through a room chock full o’Olivanders wands, and then there it was . . .

The actual model of the actual Hogwarts that was used to film the series that I grew up with. I was standing before the very model that I first saw on screen at age 11. I was in the place of my dreams, the one place in the world that while fictional, has always felt more real to me than anywhere else. Hogwarts was actually there to welcome me home. Holding back tears was difficult.

Pictures were taken, DELICIOUS noms were enjoyed, and we got to mingle with some more of the really delightful people who work there. You could just tell how much they love working there and getting to live that #NerdLife every day. Their excitement was infectious, and I suppose they fed off our excitement as well. The energy surrounding Hogwarts was made of nothing but happiness, I tell ya. It was the perfect way to start the day.

Once all the croissants and coffee were consumed, and all of our staff had arrived, they led us back through to actually begin the tour. I began to feel that excited sort of anxious as members of staff kept saying to me “OH MY GOSH ELAYNA WAIT TILL YOU SEE HOW THEY START THE TOUR!!” and “YOU ARE GOING TO FREAK!” But all the while, no one had told me what exactly I was going to be freaking out over. As we walked away from Hogwarts I remember saying to someone, “You were right. Starting the morning off at the castle was great.” and they responded with, “That wasn’t what we meant! There’s something EVEN BETTER! Just wait and see.”

It took my mind a second to receive and process the idea that there was something better than mother effing Hogwarts.

We were ushered into a dark room, where soon a video began to play on the walls. The feels began immediately as the video showed footage from the filmmakers and cast about the experience of making the films. It brought back so, so, so many memories and I got a little teary eyed pretty quick. But once that was over, they ushered us into a cinema, where we watched yet another video, which made my case of the feels turn chronic. Here I am, at the Studio Tour, with MuggleNet friends, watching Dan, Rupert and Emma standing in front of the Great Hall on the screen, talking about the films that changed my life.

Then it happened.

The video ends and then THE SCREEN GOES UP AND THE ACTUAL GREAT HALL DOORS ARE RIGHT THERE. I completely lost it.

CALL 999. I'M HAVING EMOTIONS.
CALL 999. I’M HAVING EMOTIONS.

By this point I’m already hysterical with happiness, and that’s why it took me several seconds to realize that the tour guide was saying, “Can I have Aimee and Elayna come on up please?” Its at this moment I FULLY realizes that the ‘better than Hogwarts moment’ was.

The staff had picked me as one of the people to come up and open the doors. There are no words I can type that can sum up what it felt like. I have never been so overwhelmed with joy. Everyone from staff was smiling, and here I am, sobbing like an idiot, because I can’t believe they would actually have picked me for this auspicious moment.

To make the experience even MORE special (like that’s even possible at that point) it bears being said that the scene in the first film, where McGonagall first walks them into the Great Hall was one of my favorite parts of the series, because every time I’d watch it, I’d remember how I first felt watching the first trailer, and the same sense of magic and wonder I felt when seeing it for the first time at the age of 11 would wash over me. So as I’m standing there, hand on the same freaking door handle that so many people from the films have touched, with the tour guide saying “Welcome to Hogwarts” was The. Single. Happiest. Moment. Of. My. Life.

We walked into the Great Hall and the happy sobbing continued. MuggleNet staff reading this: you can never know how much that moment meant to me – to have had that chance to be there with you all and be the chosen one to open those doors. (God I am actually crying happy tears right now typing this, thanks for that) Everything about that day, from the hall to the Hogwarts Express, from all the props, costumes, effects, drawings and wands to the beautiful moment at the end of the tour where we came full circle back to the castle: it was 1000 times more perfect than anything I could have imagined for it still being my first 24 hours in London.

The rest of the day felt like a blurry mix of feels and excitement, for Expo Patronum was set to happen the very next morning. We spent the evening stuffing bags and getting registrations ready, and I discovered the craziest thing, which is that in the UK you can buy wine by the glass at a freaking train station. (#AmericanProbs)

The whole day was just so memorable and full of more happy emotions than I could have conceived were IMG_6941possible to feel in a single day. I grew closer with friends I’d already met from Leaky, and new ones that I’d only just met once arriving to the UK. But honestly, it was those people that made everything worth it. Seeing the Studio Tour was incredible beyond measure, yes, but to experience it with fellow people of MuggleNet, fellow fans who understand the feels, and amongst who there was no judgement whatsoever. Being with them, in that sacred nerdy space, made for the most magical day of my life.

TO BE CONTINUED IN “EXPO PATRONUM” . . .

I Can Fly!

DAY ONE

I flew in a plane for the first time in my life.

That. Shit. Was. Bananas.


It’s funny how even as an adult, certain new life experiences can make you feel like a 5 year old again, and that certainly describes how I felt my first time flying. I lucked out with a window seat to myself that was right by the wing, which made the experience all the more epic. As the plane took off, I found myself clinging to my seat, excited and freaking out CAUSE I WAS IN THE SKY PEOPLE?! HOW DO Y’ALL MANAGE TO BE SO CHILL ABOUT THIS ACTIVITY?! Soaring above my city at night, watching as everything I know become pixel sized below me on a grid of lights that reminded me of a circuit board – I tell ya, nothing makes you realize how small you are in the world like being able to see the curve of the Earth and how big that Earth is.

People have been saying to me that they cannot believe I chose an international flight as my first, but I can say with sincere honesty that it was an entirely pleasant experience. We took off at night, found ourselves in British airspace in the morning, and I was able to see the coast of the Emerald Isle below me through the clouds. While it was still dark, I even watched Interstellar – which was an experience in itself. Nothing can prepare you for watching a movie about people launching into space, while you’re 40,000 feet in the air, can see your stars out your window, and feel the turbulence of the plane. 10/10 would recommend this 4D movie watching experience. To say it was tremendous would be an understatement.

And so at around 8am, my flight landed, touching ground on English soil, and at that point I began the perilous journey through the seemingly endless and cavernous Heathrow Airport, with my too heavy/awkwardly sized duffel bag in tow. Rule Number One of international travel, kids? GET A FREAKING WHEELED SUITCASE. (But I’ll be touching more on that in an upcoming video) Eventually though, I made my way through, and caught the London Underground for the very first time. (The Picadilly Line to Cockfosters . . . . . . . seriously, England? Who do you let name things?)

That’s where things got weird.

I managed to successfully take the tube to my hostel, only to discover that I’d booked probably the sketchiest hostel I could have possibly booked. Tiny, tiny narrow stairs to a high up floor (with my duffle bag that I already wanted to set on fire), guys at the desk who totally lied about the place’s policies, no locks for the lockers so I had to go out and buy my own, only to return and discover the remaining lockers were broken, realize I’m sharing a room with a rather sketchy lady who says she lives there (even though this is a hostel that has a 14 day stay limit) and labels it the kitchens and bathrooms that say the water is NOT SAFE to drink from the tap. (Even though everywhere else I visited said the water from the sink was fine).

I was not about that life, so after just having booked in, I booked it the hell out of there. Thankfully a awesomely lovely new friend from MuggleNet was able to let me crash with her, and thus began fun adventuring, which pretty much went non stop from there for my remaining two weeks. That very night we met up with some other MuggleNet staffers, and took the tube to London Bridge and walked along the South Bank, which easily became my fave place in that city, to THE GLOBE FREAKIN THEATER.

Safe to say, fangirling levels were at maximum for that one. Thats where I took my first photo of the adventure: me, smiling like an idiot, outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Once I’d calmed my inner theatrical fangirl, I found myself even happier to be reunited with the rest of the MuggleNetters for the convention. I got to see old friends, makes brand new ones, enjoy Pizza Express doughballs – which are pretty much the yummiest things this side of ever – and walk along South Bank all the way to the London Eye. That evening could honest to goodness be described as blissful, and feeling that great after about 27 hours without really sleeping is saying something. But then again, I went to sleep knowing the next morning was probably going to be the happiest day of my life.

I was going to Hogwarts. I was going home.

. . .

TO BE CONTINUED IN – “BREAKFAST AT HOGWARTS”

Well, I’m Back

As the great Samwise Gamgee said at the end of the adventure that was the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Well, I’m back.

Back from London and from Edinburgh and what was honestly two of the greatest weeks of my existence on this earth, and that friends is no exaggeration.

I arrived home Wednesday afternoon (which felt like Wednesday night, thanks to the time difference) and needed a few days to catch up on sleep, to remember once again which side of the road vehicles belong on, and get reacclimatized to my favorite skyline – which includes a very different clock tower than the one I’d been getting used to. There were so many days and so many adventures to recount that one blog post just really isn’t going to cut it, so over the next two weeks, you’ll be getting a nice lil bundle of blog posts that will document my journey from the moment of my last post (getting ready for lift off!) to the return home this past Wednesday.

So many amazing, beautiful and down right miraculous things happened that I now can add to my pensieve of memories to cherish. (No really, I mean miraculous. I spent over a week in London AND NOT A DROP OF RAIN!) I’ll also be putting together a number of exciting video blogs about my journey, which will be uploaded to my YouTube channel, and shared here as well with some commentary. I can’t wait to get it all down and have the chance to recount my amazing adventures to all you out there in the interweb. I came home feeling happier, more refreshed, and more ready to live my life than ever.

I guess that’s the most surprising thing of all, really: I thought coming home would be sad, heartbreaking and make me hate everything about home that isn’t like the wonderful things I experienced abroad. But I’m not sad – I just feel incredibly blessed and can’t wait for the next adventure.

Back to that #BlanketFort life.
Back to that #BlanketFort life.

Just Believe

This may be my shortest blog ever since we all know how long winded I can be, especially about things that are exciting to me, but just wanted to post an update before take off.

Sitting in Philadelphia International Airport and feeling more grateful than I can ever remember feeling. The people who helped make this trip happen can never fully know how much their support has meant. I’m feeling so overwhelmed as I sit here getting ready to board, getting ready to go on the trip of a lifetime with some of the people who matter most in my life for an event I cannot believe I am blessed enough to be a part of.

The point of this post is plain and simple, and here’s a hint – it’s not about me gushing any more about how wonderful I feel, cause I’ve done that enough in the above text and in real life. This post is about me reminding every person reading: people told me this trip was going to be impossible, but I believed, I held on to hope, and I refused to give up faith – and it’s happening. No matter how insurmountable the odds may seem, you must try with every fiber of your being to stay positive and to believe, and then friends, magical things will happen.

Best wishes and all the love,
Elayna

See you snitches on the other side of the pond. xo

tumblr_nmveniXVjZ1rkrp94o1_540

 

My London Miracle

Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me . . .

Rocking the pixie look.
Rocking the pixie cut!

A lot’s been going on since I created my 25×25 list. I’ve since been able to check off 2 of those items (and blog posts about fulfilling these items shall be coming soon!) which were building a blanket fort and chopping my hair really short. Both have been rewarding and liberating experiences. However, today I’m getting back to blogging because I am about to check off two incredibly exciting items on this list, thanks to the grace and goodness of a kind hearted person and God.

When this week began, I did not know how on Earth I was going to still be making it to London for next week’s Expo Patronum, which is MuggleNet.com’s first ever convention – and the largest Harry Potter event happening in the UK this year! It all sounded too incredibly good to be true: if I attended, it would be my first time out of the country, going to the country I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit, with my dear friends of MuggleNet, for their first convention, meeting amazing people who made the film series that changed my life. Dream scenario for nerdy little me. I tried fundraising, but with everyone else going through financial times as rough as my own, that just wasn’t in the cards. But despite every piece of logic, evidence and reason that had a big neon sign pointing to THERE’S NO WAY THIS TRIP CAN HAPPEN, I tried my hardest to keep something that’s recently become a huge part of my life in a way I could never have expected, and that’s faith.

People kept asking what my plans were, and I’d just smile and nod and say, I don’t know, but I believe it’s going to happen. Despite their looks of – Bitch, you crazy – I carried on my merry way by looking up little places I could write in London and jotted down promising cafe names. I researched the kind of hostel I’d stay in, and made a list of all the iconic London landmarks I’d need to take selfies in front of. I put all of the positive hope I could muster out into the universe, and when alone at night, I’d pray that this amazing journey could happen for me. I prayed about this dream coming true over and over again, knowing that this was going to be a trip of a lifetime, and I refused to believe it wouldn’t happen, even though everyone else didn’t think it would.

Then in swooped my guardian angel.

A friend of mine that I met in college, one whom has always been so sweet but who I’ve never gotten to know as well as I’d have liked, offered to help me so that I could make this dream adventure into a reality. Needless to say I’ve spent the ensuing days trying to not self destruct from an overdose of joy and blessedness. This person has shown me so much kindness, and acted so selflessly, that I’m now a mere five days from jetting 3,000 miles from home to soil I’ve never stood on before where the possibilities of life changing experiences I can have are endless. God is so real that I just can’t even.

Which brings me back to blogging! While I will be recording as much of the trip as humanly possible and making it into video blogs for my YouTube channel, I also know the way in which I’ve always best expressed myself is through words. While I’m in London (and wherever else in the UK I end up!) I want to make sure I record as much of the trip as I can, both for my sake and for the enjoyment of others who may need a reminder that anything you want is possible if you just have faith. These written posts here will serve as a nice compliment to the videos I’ll be sharing about my journey.

Elayna's latest youtube video - announcing the trip to the world.
Elayna’s latest youtube video – announcing the trip to the world.

I look forward to sharing this grand adventure with the people of the interwebs, because quite frankly, stories are what I am all about. I love listening to them, watching them, creating them, and most importantly LIVING them, so that I might share this crazy, beautiful mess of a life I have with all of you.

Here’s to London, here’s to making dreams come true, and here’s to kind people who use their goodness to change people’s lives. Stay blessed.