Archive for the Spotlight Category

20 Year Anniversary

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 13 November 2017 by Megan

Star Wars has always been one unified galaxy to me, one single saga told over a variety of mediums, all equal parts of the same body, all the undeniable history of a single place. The main reason for this is that I originally encountered all three branches of the saga–the Original Trilogy, the Expanded Universe, the Prequel Trilogy–within one year of each other–and that year, by and large, was 1997. So as I’m guessing you’ve heard me say once or twice over the last few months, this year is absolutely full of significant anniversaries for me.

Storytime!

November 12, 1997. I was twelve and, after seeing Star Wars for the first time ten months ago, I’d begun to consider “Star Wars fan” a foundation of my identity. Also foundational to my identity, “horsewoman.” I’d been taking riding lessons at a local horse farm over the summer and my mind was full of daydreams where I get my own horse, achieve horsemanship certification level 4, and eventually teach students how to ride like my idol, the woman who taught our class.

Anyway, in November, the horse camp offered an opportunity to local homeschooling families, an opportunity to come out during a week and spend a couple days during the off-season learning horse-care chores and, I guess, helping them get the place closed up for winter.

This time of year, Ohio becomes a blanket of gray. The sky is like a field of slate. Bare trees with gray trunks stab black branches into the heavy clouds. Even the earth in the empty farmland has a grayish cast. Snow isn’t uncommon, and I used to make jokes about “White Thanksgiving” when I was about this age. That week, temperatures were between 20-30 °F (average of -2 °C). It was dark long before dinner, and for some reason, I had gone upstairs to the bunk room before it was time to eat. I don’t know if I was just looking to get away from people or after something I’d left in my bag, but I found someone else sitting in the room.

“The House” at Marmon was an old, creaky building, and the girls’ bunk room was at the top of the stairs and to the right. There were bunk beds along both walls and a window at the far end. Sitting under this window was a girl named Megan who looked just like me only she didn’t have bangs. She was sitting on the edge of the lower bunk, hunched over, reading something. I caught sight of the raised foil lettering and before I could think, I exclaimed, rather than asked, “Is that a Star Wars book!”

It was Assault at Selonia. She let me hold it for a minute, but I could tell she was more focused on reading than anything else, so I handed it back and left. We sat together at dinner, though, and were inseparable for the rest of the trip. That night, I switched bunks with someone else so both Megan and I had top bunks with our heads together and I read my first EU book–her book, her flashlight, which we shared by reading one chapter before passing it back to the other.

I couldn’t have slept that night for anything. My brain was more fireworks than it had been after finishing Return of the Jedi back in February. I had known for some time there were books; I have no idea when or how I found this out, but I knew they were out there and I took it absolutely for granted they were equal status with the films. A novel set 14 years after Return of the Jedi may seem like an awkward starting place, but after all, A New Hope starts with a 20-year-old empire and plenty of unspoken backstory. I was ecstatic that Han and Leia had three kids. And one was (almost certainly) a hot, intelligent, awesome boy my own age! And hysterical that Han was being held prisoner and tortured by an evil cousin. Selonians were instantly fascinating. The galaxy had suddenly grown that much vaster and my brain could barely keep up with all the expanding territory.

Eventually, one of the chaperones scolded the Other Megan and I into keeping the light off, but I still doubt any sleeping actually took place. We were glued together through the next day, taking work assignments together and polishing dozens of saddles in a semi-heated room that would eventually become the camp gift store. We talked nonstop, mostly about Star Wars, but a few personal details crept in. We also played a game dubbed “Star Wars railroad,” which consisted of giving a Star Wars word that started with the same letter that the previous word ended with. i.e., Star Wars – Selonia – Anakin – Nien Nunb – Bakura. I described the day in my diary when I got home:

Elisa went home and I went to camp today. There were 3 Megans in our room. One Megan looks like me, dark hair and Eyes, and she’s my age, loves Star wars, has a dog named Abby, and rode Toby! She’s letting me borrow ‘Assault at Selona’. We soaped saddles then we oiled them. Toby wasn’t there. Rode Vandi.

Megan ultimately ended up being the source of my first dozen EU books, as we were both in a play that December (pictured), and then we went on to be in the same electricity class in the new year. We were both in chess and horseback riding, though not the same sessions, so we began trading letters. For a few years, we wrote letters regularly and called on weekends when cell phone minutes were free. The last time I really remember talking to her was the end of May 1999, when she was exuberant over having seen Episode I and I was wallowing in disappointment that I wouldn’t get to see it for a few more weeks.

Still, I have a box of letters in the closet, all signed “Megan ‘Han Solo'” and with the opening greeting, “Red Leader to Gold Leader.” (All mine to her began “Echo Five to Echo Seven.”) She made trivia cards and sent them to her; I made bookmarks. She also sent me clippings, stickers, and a Luke Skywalker poster I kept in my closet for years so no one would know I had it.

Ooh! Fun story about that Luke Skywalker poster. I had two closets in my room and one I considered “my office.” I used to shut myself up in it especially if my nieces were over and I wanted privacy. I actually slept in there one night my oldest niece was being a particular pain in my neck; I “locked” the door by tying a bathrobe sash to the knob and tying the other end to the shelf so she couldn’t get in. I had the mini-poster of Luke on the wall, not to mention a bunch of cozy blankets, and a plastic cart with three baskets in it where I could keep things. I can’t find a good picture of that bedroom, but it wasn’t big, not like a walk-in closet or anything. Just a regular clothes closet. I can’t believe there’s no pictures. Anyway…

The point of all that is, 20 years ago this very week, I read these words for the very first time:

And I knew, knew that being a Star Wars fan was inseparable from being a fan of the EU. The EU is Star Wars. Star Wars is the EU. To pretend otherwise would be like cutting one of the six movies from existence–like pretending to make movies without George Lucas–both incomplete and also a little obscene.

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Really Is the Best

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 9 November 2017 by Megan

In a day and age that makes it easy to take cheap shots at George Lucas, even while glorying in his imaginative creation, Ahmed Best tells it like it is in a refreshing change of pace.

Quotes to note:

“George Lucas really does things that he believes. He has an incredible conviction behind every decision that he makes. That’s not the way Disney does movies. Disney does movies in a way that has to please stockholders, and that has to please a wide swath of people, a huge general audience”;

and,

“I appreciate filmmakers who have that type of vision, I appreciate filmmakers who really go out on a limb and take a risk. With these new movies, these filmmakers are different. They’re not George Lucas.”

via Ahmed Best ‘wouldn’t change anything’ about The Phantom Menace

A Lot of Special Modifications Myself

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 1 August 2017 by Megan

Consider this. The YT-1300 is not a spectacular ship. It’s a freight hauler, an intergalactic semi truck — and an outdated one at that. But what about Han Solo’s YT-1300, the Millennium Falcon, makes our hearts sing and pulses race with excitement?

Surely it’s what he tells Luke in the first minutes of A New Hope: “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.”

We love modifications. We love customization. The ubiquitous smartphone is personalized with skins outside and background images inside. And even the default choices for desktop backgrounds aren’t good enough; there are whole websites dedicated to gathering or even digitally creating backgrounds so we can express our individuality. We even alter functionality, using apps and add-ons based on our personal needs. Some tech geniuses even know how to make mechanical adjustments to their devices. And it’s not just our technology.

We customize our living spaces, applying paint and floor coverings to reflect our personalities. Pinterest is full of ideas on how to modify furniture, to turn old dressers into shelves, tables, chairs?! Do a search for “Ikea Hack” and find out how to add a personal touch to impersonal furniture. There’s no denying that human beings love to adjust things to fit.

Until, of course, you start talking about doing it to books.

Meet my Star Wars library. Like the Millennium Falcon, its appearance can be deceptive. You might think it doesn’t look like much, since I restrict my timeline to books set before the Hand of Thrawn Duology and refuse to buy or even read anything published after Disney’s purchase in 2012. But this library, like the Falcon, has it where it counts. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.

Before we explore those, though, I want to say a word about book modification. We take for granted the customization of our technological devices. Even body modification doesn’t earn a double take anymore. But if you announce that you write in your books, you’re stripped of your “book lover” status and thrown into the dark with those disturbed souls who use Readers Digest Condensed Books for craft projects or dog-ear pages instead of using a bookmark.

I took a quiz once about “What kind of reader are you?” and it said people who love their books read them while wearing gloves, never lend them out, never eat while reading–never do anything that would make them change from how they looked sitting on the shelf in the bookstore. Well, that’s a load of bantha poodoo. I love my books. I also write in my books. I eat while reading. And, by the way, gloves are tremendously bad for books! (Seriously. They’re dirtier than your hands and you’re far more likely to tear a page while wearing stupid gloves.) My books are my friends. Why should I ostracize them from my daily life just so they’ll “always look new”? A new-looking book is an unloved book, and that’s a fact.

Specifically about marginalia. I spent ten years as a Shakespearean researcher. Do you know that the untouched, pristine copies were the most useless? Sad books with uncut pages that nobody had ever read? I spent my research days poring over the editions full of marginalia, fingers pointing, angry ink dots, corrections, emendations, insults, exultations. Marginalia is how we anchor ourselves in eternity, hooking our thoughts onto a page that will last far longer than we will. I remember telling one of my nieces, “Always write your name in your books. That makes it special. That makes it yours.”

DSCN2156

And I’m in favor of writing far more than that. If it’s your book, I think you have a right to leave your thoughts on the page. So much the better if you can trade the book with a friend who’ll add theirs before giving it back!

Let’s get specific now. My Star Wars library has every type of modification. And I bet that you won’t even be able to tell a difference as we explore those modifications.

First, the obvious. I have made it my clear stance that I refuse to accept anything set after the Hand of Thrawn or anything published after Disney (except for Scoundrels, because Timothy Zahn earned that right). For me, all that stuff is heresy. It’s not the true Star Wars and I don’t want it in my house. Publishers, however, like to promote their wares wherever they can. Job one for my library was removing all those references: specifically, editing timelines that suggested post-VotF history and removing previews of books I consider offensive.

Next was the more complex job of editing the nonfiction works that posit post-VotF as history. The biggest example of this is The Essential Atlas, which I consider an essential resource, but its “Fate of the Jedi” content has always hindered me. This is the book that actually started me on this path. As you can see, though, the edits are almost entirely unobtrusive.

This kind of work is not difficult even if it is relatively tedious. When you understand how a book is put together, which I learned in Descriptive Bibliography (SLIS-S 684), it’s uncomplicated to excise without damaging or even leaving noticeable scarring. A good x-acto knife and rubber cement are essential. I use plain white glue to reinforce the binding where it’s been exposed. Be honest; you can’t even tell, can you?

In this way, I keep my collection healthy and whole. No compromise, one of my major tenets of love for Star Wars. But what of  the marginalia? You know, even the Star Wars books themselves promote marginalia, with the Handbooks series boasting handwritten notes by main characters.

My notes are chiefly cross-references–an occasion is mentioned in one book and I add a note for the page number and title of the book where the incident occurred. But the most entertaining notes, which I provide for your entertainment, are where I take the Original Trilogy novelizations to task for all their wrongheadedness. James Kahn, especially, writes an absurd adaptation full of unjustifiable nonsense. Thankfully it’s S-canon, but I still have a lot of fun writing saucy notes–and even more fun reading them later.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my modified library — and that you’ll be more accepting of modified libraries in the future. After all, if people can get a tattoo because it’s special to them, why can’t I reorganize a few pages in a fictional encyclopedia?

Phantom Menace Day

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , on 19 June 2017 by Megan
Or, “A Hypothetical Baby Born On the Day I First Saw The Phantom Menace Is Now Old Enough to Buy Cigarettes in the United States.”
Or, “I Feel Really Old, Oh, My Gosh, How Am I This Old.”
On May 19, 1999, t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶l̶d̶ the US exploded with the sensation of “The Phantom Menace.” (The UK didn’t get E1 until July 14, which makes me feel better about the story I’m about to relate.) I only exploded with impatience, however, because I was 14 and my parents had declared I was “too interested” in Star Wars and therefore would have to wait to see it until it came to our small-town movie theater which typically got new releases five or six months after the general release.
The story of why June 19 is “Phantom Menace Day” in my mind can be traced through a series of increasingly frantic diary entries, which I thought would be entertaining to share with you, since 2017 is apparently the year of me sharing my decades-old diaries with the internet at large.
First, a few entries to set the mood:
“Tuesday, May 18, 1999. The thought of the day: IT’S COMING OUT TOMMOROW!!!! AGGGGGGGG! UNO DAY UNTIL ITS OUT IN THEATRES!! AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!”
“Wednesday, May 19, 1999. The thought of the day: Guess. SW: E1: PM IS OUT. I am SOO Psyched! It opened at midnight this morning. I am SOO dying to see it. M thinks it will be the same movie in June or July, but I don’t agree. It will be different and is liable to disappear if I don’t go see it NOW!”

“Thursday, May 20, 1999. It’s (SW:E1:PM) been out for a day. Nobody’s talking about it yet. I’m going to check the Urbana weekender this week to see when it hits Urbana or Bellefontaine or something. It isn’t fair I’ve got to wait 2 months for it to come to Urbana’s ‘small’ theatre. I want to see it NOW!”

“Wednesday, May 26, 1999. It’s been 1 wk since SW:E1:PM came.”

Offsetting the intense agony of the “no Star Wars until it comes to Urbana” announcement, my mom did buy me the Episode I Visual dictionary on June 16. It was a surprise because I hadn’t even known such a book existed, let alone asked for it, but it became my favorite possession and I spent the rest of 1999 taking it with me everywhere. (Well, not the bathroom. Books do not belong in the bathroom.)

By the way, that’s what eventually happens to a Star Wars visual dictionary that you carry with you everywhere for a year. The cover comes off and half the pages fall come apart.

I tried not to read any of the text so nothing would be “given away,” and the movie I came up with in my head based on the pictures is pretty amusing. Let’s just say that I thought Jar Jar was going to be a lot more “bad cop” than Buster Keaton.

So, maybe my parents had a point and I was “too interested” in Star Wars, because after a month of not seeing the movie, and only about thirty hours after getting the visual dictionary, my diary records an amusing descent into hysteria.

  • June 13, “Got my SW books (SWE1PM).”
  • June 14, “Jamie gave me a COOEL poster.”

To clarify, Jamie was a friend of my sister’s who was always giving me stuff for no discernible reason. Since she always took all my sister’s money, I suppose I could make a better argument that all the random Star Wars junk Jamie gave me actually came from my sister instead ;)

Anyway, this was the poster, the catalyst of the next few days:

Tuesday, June 15, 1999. I WANT TO SEE SWE1PM!!! This sucks. Put my poster up. I am so. . . something. I’m going to DIE if I don’t see E1PM this weekend. I feel ill.

Wednesday, June 16, 1999. I SOO have to see E1:PM this SATURDAY w/ Corey (Heather & Racheal have already seen it.) Racheal accidentally confirmed my suspicions that Qui-Gon Jinn gets killed. I DON’T KNOW HOW IN THE — I”LL BE ABLE TO WAIT UNTIL THIS WEEKEND TO SEE IT! IF I HAVE TO WAIT ONE — MORE WEEK, I AM GOING TO A) DIE, B) KILL SOMETHING. AGHWEWAK:HABSFPIUASFPIUADSFUJOQFQEGEFNEEOEGNO!!!!!!*

 *This particular diary was kept in a text file on the computer so these kinds of outbursts were made just slamming the keyboard…also you can tell I was just holding Shift down because of double quotes for apostrophes…

Friday, June 18, 1999. The thought of the day: It’s Friday. Like DUH. But tomorrow is Saturday, and I’m going to see E1 on Saturday, no matter what. So today I have to be agreeable, and do what I’m told so mom won’t have a reason to keep me home.

Several hours later…

Today was bad. M threw a fit over my poster. Really stressed out. Seeing E1PM tomorrow. I will NEVER get rid of my SW things, not ever. I just LIKE IT.

Ah, teenagers.

No suspense necessary. The very subdued next entry for June 19 was “Saw E1PM.” I must have begged, bribed, and/or cajoled my sister into taking me to the movie theater in Bellefontaine (a mere 3 miles further than the one in Urbana). I remember I wore a yellow tank top and a bead necklace; she sat with her arms crossed for most of it and I cried my eyes out when Qui-Gon died. For some reason, I didn’t write anything about it until June 24, “Its one of the MOST AWESOME movies I’ve ever seen.”

What else can I say? That’s June 19 for me. The day I saw The Phantom Menace for the first time. And it was 18 years ago. Oh my lord. We all got very, very old somehow, didn’t we…

How Star Wars Impacted My Life Journey

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 18 May 2017 by Megan

by guest blogger Fibro Jedi
https://fibrojedi.me.uk/

Hi there! My name’s Martin, better known as Fibro Jedi. Some of you may be following some of my characters’ fan fiction journeys, but I wanted to give you an idea of how long…and how deeply George Lucas’ Star Wars creation has impacted my own journey in life. Despite it being fiction, Star Wars has enabled me to be creative, meet new people and even affected some of my own life approaches. Please join me on this journey!

Star Wars Episode 1

Don’t hate on me but my Star Wars journey began with The Phantom Menace. The family I grew up in weren’t into anything that could be classed as geeky. My Mum read fiction, and both my parents watched the occasional period drama. So I had to find my own path. With the release of Star Wars Episode 1, I suddenly became intrigued in the SW Universe. At the same time a friend introduced me to an online chat site based on Star Wars ideas. As part of that, they had forums for written role-playing – in the old-style turn-taking model. It was in that community that I began writing within the SW universe – and it was there that Cor-Jhan Arcturus first appeared.

Cor-Jhan Arcturus was first created nearly half my lifetime ago!

Despite Star Wars being based on the traditional Good vs Evil mechanic, it was more complicated than that. Good people could become evil, or commit atrocities, and evil people could be redeemed. Subsequently watching the other movies started to get me thinking more about the detail of the universe, how nothing is certain – but above all, there is always hope.

Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy

I just want to make a passing comment about these two games. Jedi Knight II (Jedi Outcast) was my first introduction to playing with others online. I was part of a clan, you could rise in the ranks by learning from, and fighting against more experienced players. I ended up in contact with a couple outside the game – and one of them came to my wedding – all the way from the States!

SWTOR

I had a long gap (many years) of not pursuing my interest in the Star Wars Universe – getting a job, changing jobs, getting married – and other life things got in the way. But when a friend introduced me to Star Wars: The Old Republic, my interest was rekindled. More than that, creating characters, seeing how they reacted in different situations, and ‘getting to know them’ actually sparked my desire to write again. Although I recreated Cor-Jhan Arcturus, it was the former slave Talitha’koum that I really enjoyed writing about.

Talitha’koum rediscovering her identity during the events of Knights of the Fallen Empire

When you write within a framework, you have to understand the rules of that framework. So I learned more about Star Wars technology, lore and even about different species in the galaxy. There’s still so much I don’t know!

That’s when you realise that when George Lucas created the Star Wars movies, they were really only scratching the surface of how the galaxy operated. It gave birth to different cultures, planets with different eco-systems and characters that traversed different walks of life. The movies were great, but they are a small percentage of what you can discover. SWTOR gave me insights into those, but I’ve still learned more on my own initiative.

Friends and a Blog

Even from the early days of my role-playing forum and Jedi Outcast, the fact that Star Wars exists has meant I have had contact with new people, some of whom have become real friends. Friendships have really blossomed in those I know through SWTOR. You don’t just know the characters, you can get to know the people behind them. And it’s those friendships and connections that keep me playing the games I do. Features of a game change over time, but when you make friends, that transcends what’s happening to the game. Had Star Wars not been created I wouldn’t have had those friendships and I wouldn’t have had the blog that I do today!

Finding Balance

The more I’ve looked into the Force, the more I have seen some of the good in the Empire and some of the bad in the Republic. No governmental system is perfect, and extremes of behaviour can be found in both the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’ people. Although originally aligning myself with the Jedi, now I find myself pitched between the two sides of the Force – within the shades of gray. Although I am a Christian and therefore I don’t let things like fiction affect my actual faith, I do try to strike a balance now: between ‘work’ and ‘play’, listening to both sides of an argument and not dismissing either side, avoiding extremes etc. Balance in the Force wasn’t achieved by wiping out all the Sith. The real world is made up of people from various cultures, religions (or none), languages and worldviews. We need all those held in balance to get along with other people – to not just tolerate them, but to show all humans have intrinsic value regardless of how they think. If we could all be accepting, the world would be a better place. The Force needs both sides represented to be in balance – the same should apply to what goes on here on Earth.

Chronic Illness and Gaming

The last awesome thing I’ll say is that running @FibroJedi has enabled me to connect with people who have Chronic Illnesses. But it has also helped me find (or be found by) people who are in a similar situation to myself – they have a chronic illness, but use gaming as a coping mechanism. This has been made possible because Star Wars exists. I would have picked up gaming (I used to play The Sims way back when, and Sim City) as a coping mechanism, but without online games, or communities, I wouldn’t have been able to connect person-to-person with people who share my life experiences. And that’s something that works in both directions.

TL;DR Star Wars and My Life

I’m in my 30s now as I write this. That means Star Wars and its various off-shoots, have been a major part of my life for more than half of it. From helping me pick up fan fiction writing, to coping with my pain, to making real friendships – Star Wars has been integral throughout that time. Criticise the movies all you want, none of the lasting value I have in my life comes from there. None of George Lucas’ legacy to me and my family derives from how well SW game developers do their jobs.

The greatest value is in the people and the communities that Lucas unknowingly sparked. Without him I wouldn’t feel an emotional link to the characters I write about. And without Star Wars, my Fibromyalgia would have been even more isolating than it is now. So to that end, I will be eternally grateful to what George Lucas started.

May the Force Be With You – May It Make You Strong.

15 Years of Attack of the Clones

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 16 May 2017 by Megan

Even though E4 turns 40 this year, which is a more significant anniversary than 15, the E2 anniversary is really hitting me this year. Several reasons for this, probably, not least of which is that I have no memories of E4 as it predates me by almost a decade. I was 16 when E2 came out, I waited the full three years for it (as opposed to E1, which I only found out about six months before it came out–although I did have to wait a month to see it), and I remember every bit of the build up to it. I collected more stuff around the advent of E2 than any other Star Wars movie; I actually went to unrelated movies to see the trailers, which I never did for the others. And I saw it more times in the theater than any others.

There’s something about 2002 in my memory that really sticks. Metallic blue nail polish, hours playing Sims, waiting for Quicktime downloads of the E2 trailer over dial-up. I had an email newsletter called The EmJay Zone, which I began on August 8, 2000, and eventually racked up 43 subscribers at its peak, though I can’t imagine why as I look through its incoherent rambling for something to share today.

So I wanted to share with you my first review of Attack of the Clones, which I wrote exactly one week after its theatrical release. I apologize in advance if the formatting is a nightmare–a 16 year old wrote it in the early 2000s! Now, I wrote approximately once a week for almost eight years:

You are about to enter a different place, and yet one that isn't so different. It is a place of sight and sound, and of mind. It is a land of shadows, substance, and a lot of weirdness. You've just crossed over into... The EmJay Zone.

Continue reading

How Loving Star Wars Made Me Stronger

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , on 11 May 2017 by Megan

by guest blogger Kiri Mohan
Star Wars Anonymous

To say Star Wars changed my life would be cliché.  If you’re any kind of Star Wars fan, the movies changed your life and you were never the same.

Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that Star Wars made me a stronger person.  Loving Star Wars made me less afraid, gave me more confidence, and helped me care less of what others thought of me – all at a young, impressionable, need-to-please age of 12.

I wrote once about how I fell in love with Star Wars when I saw the Hoth scene in the Empire Strikes Back.  Though that is true, I would say it’s The Phantom Menace (TPM) that caused me to become obsessed with Star Wars.  I was raised on the generation where the Original Trilogy had been out for a while and I hadn’t seen the Special Edition in theaters because my parents weren’t interested.  The only reason I had seen that Hoth battle was because my parents had decided to re-watch the Original Trilogy in preparation for Episode I being released.  By the time TPM was out in theaters, I had watched the Original Trilogy and was prepared.

But it was such a different world from the Original Trilogy – and I loved it!  I remember being so surprised when I learned people hated TPM.  It was amazing!  The Old Republic looked glorious, I loved the Jedi, the droids were so cool, and the music by John Williams was the icing on the cake.

However, there was a problem with me loving Star Wars so much.  Even with these new Star Wars movies, Star Wars was something for “geeks”, “losers”, “nerds”, and whatever other labels kids in my middle school decided to tag on.

I wanted to be cool so badly.  The year before TPM came out had been 6th grade and I had successfully navigated my way into the “popular” crowd.  I had worked hard at it…I wasn’t naturally popular as I was awkward looking, read a lot of books, and – the worst – my parents wouldn’t let me go to the mall to “hang out”.  So I worked hard to be in the popular crowd and tried hard to remain there, which basically meant abandoning my own things that I loved in order to be liked.

Then a fortuitous event (though not fortuitous at the time) happened right before I discovered Star Wars and saw TPM.  I made a faux pas and the popular girls abandoned me.  I was ruined.

You might laugh and, by all means, please do.  It’s laughable now that I am older.  But by laughing, we also forget what it’s like to be that age.  We forget how cruel other children can be and how children have taken their life because of bullying.  At that age, we have not yet quite built up the resilience that we have as we get older.  By laughing and dismissing what happened, it takes away from my summer where I evolved into a different, stronger person because of my love for Star Wars.

After watching TPM nine times in the theater that summer, I took it upon myself to become like a Jedi.  To me, they were the ultimate “good guys”.  I kept a Jedi Journal where I wrote down anything that was, well, bad.  If I pushed my brother, snapped at people, lost my patience, swore — anything even remotely Sith-like was written down and recorded.  If I had fewer instances one week than the previous week, I felt a sense of personal satisfaction.  This was before I knew about the Jedi Code – all I was going off of were Yoda’s words from TPM:

Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.

As the summer crept toward fall, I knew I would have to make a choice.  Do I choose Star Wars and know my chances of being popular were ruined?  Or do I try to get back into the popular crowd?

My love for Star Wars won out.

I was bullied.  I was ridiculed.  Children made fun of me.  You can read about it here. For a boy to like Star Wars was one thing, maybe slightly accepted, though they were still a geek.  In my home town, for a girl to like Star Wars — she was a pariah.

But my love for Star Wars won out…and that’s an amazing thing at that age, especially for someone like me.  I still look back at it as one of the hardest decisions of my life.  I chose to go a different path.  I found better, truer friends who didn’t mind that I loved Star Wars to a scary degree.  I still remember walking to school with one of my new friends and telling her, “Hey Kate? I really like Star Wars.” And she went, “Yeah, they’re pretty awesome movies. My brother likes them.” And I said, “No, Kate, I mean, I really like Star Wars.”  At which she laughed and kind of reiterated what she had just said.  It was as if I was revealing to her who my latest crush was, I was that reverent about it.

Star Wars made me stronger.  In a small way, I’m glad I was bullied because it taught me a priceless lesson: how to stick up for something you believe in and love.

Star Wars changed my life, cliché or no.  I will always and forever be in debt to George Lucas for making these wonderful movies, especially returning to the Star Wars universe to create The Phantom Menace.  So I tip my hat to you ol’ George, wish you a wonderful month and hope that wherever you are — you know your work is appreciated, loved, and life-changing.