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Posts Tagged ‘my favorite things’

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This is my beautiful family. From the left, this is my mother, myself, Brother, and my dad. This photo is one of the last taken of all of us together, during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii. My parents had dreamed of this for years, and since we were able to stay with some friends who live there, it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been.

Little did we know that just a few months later, my wonderful, amazing mother would take her final breaths in this world.

I suppose in a way we all knew it was coming. She had been sick for a while, and though we never gave up hope that she would recover, in a few short weeks her health deteriorated very rapidly. I thought this would be it for me. When I saw how difficult it was getting for Mom to do even simple tasks, I felt dread. I got mad. I yelled at God. Several times, in fact. I denied what I knew was coming and felt only devastation.

Then she made the decision to check herself into hospice. Suddenly, it was a reality. I mean, everyone knows what hospice means, right?

But you know what? As much as I dreaded what was coming, I also felt an amazing sense of peace. Acceptance. I got to have so many things with my mother that not every person gets to experience. She was my best friend, my confidant, and the most incredible mother in the world. I got to be beside her in her final moments. I got to tell her how much I loved her and how wonderful a mother she was. How many people honestly get that opportunity?

So here’s three things that I’ve learned as I’ve processed reality during this time. And I’ll warn you, while I don’t usually tend to get “preachy” on this blog, I’m using it as a part of my healing process, so you might find more spiritual stuff than normal.

1.) Don’t let fear rule your life.

Seriously, I held myself back on so many things over the years, it’s ridiculous. I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, and too many times I didn’t allow myself to participate in things because I was self-conscious. Whether it was of how I looked, or if someone would like me or not…it doesn’t matter. The fact is, when we know the Author of Love, there’s simply no room for fear. My mother always quoted Graham Cooke when I talked about my hesitations and fears of failure. She would tell me, “Remember, it’s always a green light until God turns it red.” That means that I can step out in confidence, because I trust that if there’s a path that I’m not supposed to take, He’ll let me know. Otherwise, I’m going for it. Take opportunities as they come. They might not come back around again.

2.) God really is able of working all things for good.

Trust me, I did not think this was possible when it came to something like this. I flat out told God that there was no way He could produce something good from losing my mother at such a young age. When I confronted Him and very angrily demanded WHY, He didn’t give me a direct answer. Yet, in His own way, He still did. I know it doesn’t make sense, but He helped me realize just how big the picture was. We’re talking about eternity here. It’s so much more than we could ever imagine. Now that I look back, I see where God was preparing me every step of the way. No one could ever, ever replace my mother, but He placed a mother figure in my life in my pastor’s wife. He knew that I would need her there, so He made sure that I had that connection established. For that matter, He knew that I would need my church family as a whole. I honestly don’t know I would do without their unconditional love and support.

He restored part of my finances. Obviously I would a million times rather have my mother in this world than any other earthly good, but because she always put everyone else before herself, she made sure that my father was well taken care of financially. Through that generosity, my father is now able to give some of that to my brother and me. It’s a long story as to why the restoration of stolen finances are so important to me, but suffice to say, even now that she’s gone, she is still taking care of her children and blessing them. She always wanted to be able to give more, and now she is doing exactly that.

Her life touched so many people, I’m astounded. As a family, we’ve spoken to so many who have been impacted by my mother. And through my personal journey, I’m able to reach out to people in a way that I might never have been able to before.

3.) Don’t stay in the past.

That’s not to say that you can’t remember things, because memories are part of what shape us into who we are. But when you dwell in the past, you miss the here and now. Plus, it leaves too much room for regret. Of course there were things that I wanted to do with Mom that I will never get to now. But instead of focusing on what we DIDN’T get to do together, I remember all that we DID. I treasure every moment, every walk, every hug. I will never, ever, forget my mother, but I will not let myself fall into the trap of “What if…?”

My mother was only 60 years old when she passed. That’s it. I’m more than halfway there. Now, I’m certainly not projecting that I’m going to die at 60, because I plan to live much longer than that. But I have to ask myself, if that was all that I had, what would I do differently? How many more risks would I take? How much more time would I spend with those that I love? If I spend each day as though I’ve only got a few left, I’m going to make the most of every single thing that I do, and every person that I meet.

If that’s our mindset, then there is nothing we can’t accomplish. And at the end of our time, we can rest in the same words that my mother wrote at the end of her journal, quoting Paul:

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

Fight the good fight.

Finish the race.

Keep the faith.

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Me and the best mom in the world.

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Well, unfortunately, part of that new year started with me finally fighting the crud that’s been making its way through all of my friends. I don’t get sick very often, which is a plus, but when I do get sick, it just completely zaps my energy. Honestly, I haven’t felt *too* horrible this time around – I mean, I’ve certainly had worse. But there have still been minor aches and chills, and a darn sore throat.

And the phlegm. UGH, the phlegm.

Again, I’ve had worse. It’s still dang annoying. Not to mention my voices cracks at any given moment, so I never know what to expect. Also, am I the only one who gets kind of loopy when they’re sick? I don’t know if the phlegm, like, prevents coherent thoughts from entering my brain or what, but it clearly blocks more oxygen than usual. Maybe it’s because I feel so tired. I do tend to get loopy when I’m tired. In fact, I probably won’t remember writing this post by the time tomorrow comes around. I can totally see myself wondering why people are liking a post that was published weeks ago.

But I digress.

What IS exciting about 2018 is that it’s a new year of hiking! I gotta tell you, I have become more and more outdoorsy the older that I’ve gotten. It was part of why working inside a building all day every day made me die inside a little. I live in this utterly gorgeous, amazing state, so to be unable to enjoy it except on the weekends is pretty much torture.

How beautiful is it, you ask? Well, let me show you!

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It’s primarily because of these beauties right here. See, there are two small cities about twenty minutes apart from one another (I live in the smaller of the two) that are nestled up to the edge of the forest that surrounds the Cascades. The larger city is more in the pine trees than my town, but both have fantastic views of the mountains from almost anywhere. This photo was taken on a back road that used to be the main highway between the two cities before Highway 97 was put in. There is still lush farmland and beautiful viewpoints, however, so a lot of us locals still tend to take this back road.

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Broken Top is on the far left, and the Three Sisters huddle next to it.

I mean, seriously. How do you not love these? What I’ve discovered most about my own personality is that I don’t ever want to live somewhere without mountains. Granted, it doesn’t necessarily have to be these mountains in particular, though I am rather partial to them, but I have to have them in my life. I have to be able to hike. The forest has become such an incredible therapy to me, that I can’t honestly picture living somewhere without that as an option.

I have access to hundreds of trails, some of which are available year-round. That means that more often than not, I can still keep training even in the dead of winter. Some of the trails have a very low elevation, meaning that the snow melts quickly. For someone like me, that’s huge.

Whatever makes you happy, please be sure to carve out some time for it. Maybe it’s not hiking or being outdoors. Maybe it’s painting, or decorating your house. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee. Whatever it is, make it more of a priority in your life. Too many people get through the drudge of everyday life in the hopes that someday they’ll be able to retire and finally have time for these things, but I encourage you to enjoy some of the small pleasures now. No, I’m not telling you to quit your job, or to spend lots of money on a hobby.

I’m talking about the simple pleasures. The things we don’t always make time for because we’re too busy thinking about what needs to be done. The dishes will still be there in the sink, so go ahead and play with your kids for a while. They won’t be kids forever, after all. Enjoy that morning outing with your friends. Don’t worry about what tomorrow brings when you still have time left today.

When I’m out hiking, I try to take just a moment or two to simply enjoy my surroundings. Forget the camera, forget the perfect shot. Forget the business and the stress that comes with it. Enjoy what you have while you have it.

I’m excited for 2018, guys. There are a lot of great things just waiting to be snatched up, great moments to be lived, and great friends to be made. Make the best of it, and live life to the fullest.

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Here’s to a great new year!

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Another day, another cosplay! Yes, it’s the exciting conclusion to my first post regarding our recent trip to Rose City Comic Con. As promised, I will reveal the genius costume idea that my brother came up with.

After toiling long and hard about who the heck he wanted to be, Brother had just about given up on finding a decent costume. He played around with the thought of going as Titus from Final Fantasy, since that was a character that he somewhat looked like, but the costume ended up being far more complicated than it should have been. (Not to mention pretty expensive.)

He hemmed and hawed over this decision until finally — at last! — inspiration struck him. You see, a good majority of his favorite characters just to happened to be female, which initially made him rule them out. Then he finally thought, “What the heck? I’ll just do a gender-swap of my favorite DC character of all time.”

Thus I bring you gender swap Harley (or “Harvey”) Quinn:

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Not bad, eh? He opted for the Suicide Squad version of Harley, since he really enjoyed Margot Robbie’s portrayal of the character. (I won’t lie, I thoroughly enjoyed that movie, and I personally thought it was by far the best live-action version of Harley Quinn that I’ve seen.)

He got a lot of compliments on his outfit. I’d told him how I had seen MANY Harleys the last Comic Con, but no gender swaps. So you can imagine my surprise when we ran into two of them almost right away. Go figure. While we only got a picture with one, they were definitely a fun couple to hang out with:

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And of course, we couldn’t resist posing with another DC character, which was this Batgirl cutie:

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And we got REALLY excited when we found two other Suicide Squad cosplays:

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I love how Brother is totally in character. The other two are appropriately serious, and he’s grinning like the Quinn he is. 😉

But the best part was when we found a legit, absolutely fantastic Batman. So of course, Brother had to ask if Batsy would be willing to play the part of his nemesis for a photo op. Being the gracious guy that he is, Batman was more than willing to comply:

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But I promise, he really was just a nice guy overall. And probably one of the best Batmans that I’ve seen, to be honest.

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See? Just a nice guy.

So that was our overall Comic Con experience. I managed to snag a few more things for my Lord of the Rings collection, which made me happy. (Even though they weren’t nearly as epic as Karl Urban’s autograph would have been.)

All in all, a great time.

In other news, I am SUPER stoked for this week. My parents, brother and I are going to head over to the island state of Hawaii! Woot! This will only be the second time that I’ve ever gotten to go, and it’s going to be nice to see something other than the tourist trap of Honolulu. Not that I’m really complaining about the last trip, mind you. Heck, any time in Hawaii is good, in my book. But this time around, I’ll be able to do a lot more hiking and exploring and picture-taking. It’s going to be superb.

I’ll be posting photos and sharing about our adventures when I return. Plus I’m going to finally share a little more about my latest project. It’s not really writing-centered, but it’s still creative and very fun.

Until then, aloha!

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Another year, another Comic Con in the books! I’m a little late in posting, but it’s been surprisingly busy since the weekend of Comic Con. (You would think being able to work from home would mean that I have all kinds of time on my hands, but it’s amazing how quickly you can fill up those time slots when they’re available…)

Anyway, Comic Con was once again very enjoyable. I haven’t yet received the photos that my brother took, so I’m splitting my post into two parts. I know, you’re on the edge of your seats. While this year’s Con was a *little* disappointing to me, it wasn’t without good points as well. My primary reason for feeling let down was because the two actors that I was actually really looking forward to meeting both had to cancel. One was Jason Isaacs, whom I utterly adore because can you say CAPTAIN HOOK, but he had another commitment that prevented him from attending. Since he’s going to be the new captain in Star Trek: Discovery, it’s no wonder that his schedule is crazy busy.

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Rowr.

But seriously. Major disappointment at his not being there. I’ve had a fangirl crush on him for more years than I care to count, and I by far consider him to be the hottest Captain Hook in existence. Yes, even compared to Once Upon a Time, though I confess that version of Hook is also quite dashing. Actually, he just makes an epic villain in general, from Dragonheart to The Patriot.

My other sad face came when Karl Urban had to cancel. I was really hoping for his autograph to add to my Lord of the Rings collection, but unfortunately he had a family emergency and had to stay in New Zealand. We weren’t offered details on what was going on, but suffice to say I hope all is well with him and his loved ones.

So I didn’t really meet any major celebrities this year, apart from the one and only Weird Al. My friend was actually the one who paid for the photo, but you’re allowed to have a friend with you if you choose, so I got to be the friend, yay!

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He is actually rather tall in real life. I mean, I know I’m only 5’2″, but sheesh.

But he was very nice for the brief moment that we got to spend with him. My main focus this time around was getting to enjoy the always excellent cosplay available. I mean, people get so dang creative. (I can’t wait to show you my brother’s cosplay. It was super fun.)

I got to meet one of my favorite Disney princesses, Belle:

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I stuck with Black Widow this year, since my budget didn’t entirely allow a second costume. Next year, I hope to be able to plan ahead and cosplay Merida from Brave. But back to this year.

I found the most legit David Tennant version of the Doctor that I’ve ever seen in my life. For reals. The moment I saw him, I ran up yelling, “TAKE ME WITH YOU.”

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Also legit? This excellent cosplay of Barf, from one of my favorite Mel Brooks films of all time:

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It’s like John Candy never left us.

My two other favorites were also incredibly authentic, starting with our other favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow:

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This guy entered the costume contest and actually made his own costume by hand. Combine that with the fact that his face is eerily similar to Johnny Depp’s, and you have one excellent pirate.

Last, but not least, was this fantastic Samus:

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The intricacies of her costume were AMAZING. Best Samus that I’ve seen thus far.

So there’s part one! Stay tuned for part two, in which you will see my brother face one of his mortal enemies, hehehehe…..

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I told you that you all would get sick of me once I quit my day job. Now I’m like, “Woohoo! I can actually write down all the random crap that’s in my head!” Sorry, friends. You were warned.

So keeping with a bit of a music theme, I’m posting one of my all-time favorite songs EVAR. When I walk in the mornings, I like to listen to music. Spotify has become my main music source, and I recently was introduced to this song (and singer). Not only do I love Laura Brehm’s voice, but this song sort of became my anthem over the last year or so. It’s been a series of ups and downs emotionally, some of which I’m still working through.

The heart of this song and the positive message behind it often ran through my mind when I made the decision to finally pursue my passion instead of forcing myself to fit into a job that I just didn’t enjoy. I knew that if I didn’t take the plunge now, I probably never would.

It’s scary and exciting all at once, but ultimately, I know that this is what I was called to do. Things have felt more “final” these last few months, allowing me to break off some of the last pieces of hurt and brokenness that had remained.

I’m still working on some final decisions before I reveal what I’ve been playing around with for the last…well, couple of years if I’m honest. Financially I have to make sure I’m doing I think is going to be best, which involves a lot of research. *le sigh* Obviously you just never know until you actually get started, but I feel like being somewhat prepared never really hurt anyway. And I’m a natural born planner, so…yeah. I’m gonna research and probably over-research.

But I’ll keep you guys posted as I do! As the song says, “The story has not come to an end, it now begins.”

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Happy late Birthday to me! New year, new direction, and thankfully, some new music!

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’m one of those people who can’t really write anything unless I have music playing. I know some people have to have total silence to concentrate, but I’m not wired that way. Oh sure, I can make it happen if I need to, but music is what drives me, fuels my imagination. It gives me energy. I’m very fortunate, because Brother is a huge fan of Spotify and upgraded to a family plan about a year ago. Thus Parents and I are able to listen to music ad-free and create tons of playlists and radio stations. I have fallen in love with those features, let me tell you. Color me spoiled.

When I’m getting ready in the morning or sitting down to write something, I usually have Spotify up and running on either my computer or my phone. (Seriously, what did we ever do without technology?) I kept hearing these songs that I liked on one particular radio station that I had created, and every time I looked, I laughed because the name of the artist that I kept liking was “Sizzle Bird.”

Yup, that’s the name all right. However, don’t let his title fool you. If you’re looking for a mellow Lindsey Stirling alternate, Sizzle Bird is your man. Same electronic feel, with violin and sometimes piano overtones. While Stirling has been one of my favorite musicians for a while, it’s nice to hear something new, and I dare say that Sizzle might just give Stirling a run for her money in my book.

If you want to know what I mean, check him out here. My personal favorites so far are Imagine and Warm Heart. I’m stupidly excited about it. Of course, I’m always excited about new music of any sort. I’ll come back later with the two other new-to-me bands that I’ve recently discovered that have just blown me away with their abilities. However, they’re just about as polar opposite of this as you can get, so I’ll let them have a post all of their own. Just keeping the mood the same here, you know.

And now if you’ll excuse me, there are very clearly several songs of his that I’ve never heard, so I’d best correct that.

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Okay, here it is. THE BIG POST. Yes, it’s probably going to be a little on the longer side, but it’s been a month and I’m still so flippin’ excited I can’t hardly stand it. I’m already planning for next year.

So as I mentioned before, this was my first ever comic con. I had always wanted to attend one and just never had before. Well, my very sweet friend Tracy decided to treat me to this particular con, because she wanted to me to experience the greatness firsthand. It was a wonderful and amazing gift, let me tell you. I decided to go as Black Widow from The Avengers, and I think it’s safe to say that I made a few fanboys pretty happy. 😉 (Total side note, but I absolutely LOVED how my costume turned out. Buying from Amazon is never a guarantee, but in this case it was very well-made.)

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Not the best picture, but meh lighting will do that.

 

The only thing my grandma and I had to adjust was the shoulders of the costume, but I blame that entirely on my inability to measure correctly. I’m no seamstress, so I’m sure that I just sent in the wrong measurements. Everything else fit perfectly, and the accessories were just as good.

 

 

Tracy and I attended both days, and while I didn’t get a chance to listen to any of the panels, it was still a worthwhile experience in my opinion. It was a flurry of costumes and people, even a few service dogs. I glomped on right away to some of my favorite characters.

 

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And naturally, I had to pose with just about any character from the Marvel universe. Because Marvel. (And yes, I realize that Black Widow wouldn’t be grinning from ear to ear for all these photos, but I was excited and couldn’t help myself. Pretty much anyone who came and asked to have their picture with me got a huge smile because that was totally flattering.)

 

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This guy’s costume was INSANELY realistic. His voice sounded all electronic and everything. It was probably one of the most impressive costumes there, in my opinion. (And yes, it was even better than naked fish guy in the background.)

 

My personal favorite picture was when I found Captain America, Bucky AND the Black Panther altogether. I had seen the Captain and Bucky from a distance, and their costumes were probably the most detailed of all of the different Marvel characters I saw there. I had hoped that I would get a chance to take a picture with them and, low and behold, as we descended down the escalator, I spotted them with Black Panther and posing for a few people. I immediately dashed over and said, “I have GOT to take a picture with you guys.”

 

The second they saw my costume, they got all excited and motioned me over. Tracy was the primary one taking pictures for the weekend, so she snapped a couple of photos. Unbeknownst to her, a group of people immediately crowded behind her with their cell phones, getting shots of the four of us together. I tell ya, I felt a little like a celebrity for a few seconds. It was kinda cool.

 

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Not a bad looking bunch, eh? Team Captain FTW, baby. (And is that a handsome Captain America or what?) 😉

 

I even managed to find some Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

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Of course, then I found out they were actually working for HYDRA.

 

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So that was the majority of Saturday. Oohing and aahing over costumes, checking out all of the vendors (I got a GORGEOUS Doctor Who print that I love) and getting some autographs from pretty famous celebrities. Sunday was reserved more for photo ops and more perusing of the vendors.

 

Which brings me to perhaps my favorite moments and my celebrity reveal: I GOT TO MEET BILLY BOYD!!!

 

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Okay, this man is one of the nicest people you could ever want to meet. Seriously. He has such a sweet, gentle spirit about him, and he made every single person who came up to him feel special. I got majorly tongue-tied around him, but he was still nice despite my stuttering.

 

I got Billy’s autograph on one of my Lord of the Rings movie guides, which is officially the crowning achievement to my collection. (Yes, I have an LotR collection. It’s pretty awesome, though I have yet to be able to properly display it. I’m hoping to fix that one day.)

 

We also got to meet Dante Basco, who played Rufio from the iconic Hook. That movie is one of my absolute favorites of all time. Talk about a piece of my childhood. (And tell me, what girl growing up didn’t have a crush on Rufio when this movie came out? I’m guilty as charged on that one.)

 

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Dante was super cool in a more casual way. He was laid-back and easygoing but still very nice. He even told me I looked sexy in my Black Widow costume. That gives him major bonus points in my book. (This was taken with Tracy, the friend who invited me. She made her own costume and based it on a character of her own creation. Pretty darn cool.)

 

As we were standing in line to get pictures with Dante, there was this absolutely adorable little girl in front of us with her dad. She was maybe three or four, and she kept showing me her toys that she’d found at the conference. How was I supposed to resist such a cutie-pie wanting to play airplanes with me? The best part was when they went up for their photo with Dante, however. The dad had cut out a picture of his wife’s face and put it on a stick, so that she could be in the picture too. It cracked me up to no end. He looked rather sheepish when I asked him about it.

 

“She doesn’t actually know that I did that yet,” he said. “And she hasn’t seen the pictures.”

 

That made me laugh all the more, just picturing her reaction when she saw her smiling face in the photos as well.

 

I also got to (briefly) meet Stan Lee, Marvel creator and super-writer. There were so many people in line for the photo ops that our encounter was very short, but it was pretty overwhelming to be standing right next to a living legend.

 

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Naturally I had to wear my costume for part of Sunday, just long enough to get a shot with Stan Lee.

 

So yeah, I think that’s about it. It was an amazing time and really fun. I was very impressed with how respectful and considerate everyone was. All of us were there for the same reason, which was to have a good time and meet cool people. No one shoved in line to meet celebrities or got impatient. They were all willing to wait their turn and were super nice whenever someone asked to get a picture with them.

I highly recommend attending a smaller Comic Con like this one to anyone who wants to meet other geeks and have a great time. As I said, I’m already planning for next year!

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