Monday, April 22, 2013

Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars!

Being a Star Wars fan is part of what makes me me. It's a comfort, it's an inspiration, it's so much more than just a few badass movies. So I think now might be a good time to explain how that all started, and how much these movies have ended up impacting my life, whether directly or indirectly. There has always been sci-fi around me to some extent. Growing up my dad read us stories out of Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man, and every week we'd all sit down together to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I enjoyed those things, I liked sci-fi, but it wasn't something got me particularly excited, it certainly wasn't something that defined me. It was just another pleasant part of my childhood.

The best purchase I ever made.
Fast forward a few years. I was 12. While I was sitting at the kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal, I noticed the cereal box was advertising Star Wars, and I started thinking. I knew I had seen some Star Wars, but in looking at the pictures I realized I had only ever seen Jedi (and maybe the ewok movies, but I don't want to talk about that). So I thought, hey, I should probably see those, they seem culturally relevant to the times. Ok, my 12 year old self would never have said "culturally relavant" but I don't really know why I decided I had to see them, but I did. I convinced my parents to take me to Blockbuster (ahhh, warm fuzzy Blockbuster memories!) to get the tapes. They only had Empire Strikes back in stock so I got that. I loved it. A few days later they took me back and I rented the rest. I was in love.

Not long after seeing them for the first time, I put down my $42 (a lot of money for a 12 year old, it was the most I'd ever spent on anything ever) and bought my first copy of the Star Wars Trilogy (I now own 7 copies, 4 VHS, 2 DVD, 1 Bluray, I have a problem... I don't have it on Laser Disc or Beta!). I watched it over and over. I even recorded the audio of the whole trilogy on to cassettes so I could listen to it in the car (that seemed so cool to me then, but now it sounds a little mentally unstable...). I'm sure I drove everybody around me absolutely crazy. I was obsessed! I talked about Star Wars, I quoted Star Wars, I read Star Wars books, I even wrote school essays about Star Wars (I'm sorry, Mr. Lightfoot). I developed my first celebrity crush that year on Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). 

None of those things did much for my social life, but there were some surprising doors that being a huge geek started to open. This was all happening around the time when the internet was becoming more accessible to the general public. My parents got an AOL account a few months after I started my Star Wars obsession, and the next thing I knew my friend was helping me set up a Geocities page about (you guessed it) Star Wars. Star Wars became the gateway to being an internet geek, I learned html and javascript, I spent a lot of time on the computer cropping images and editing together sound clips for my site. I set the computer to say "remember, the Force will be with you, always" when it shut down. I also started getting interested in film editing, I learned how to edit, first on a tape-to-tape system, then on a computer. I had aspirations to become a big Hollywood director/producer (who worked with George Lucas, of course). 

My first website came complete with this fabulous lightsaber gif
In college I got a job at the tech help desk, essentially because I'd spent so much time on the computer learning all these things in the name of Star Wars. After college I was able to combine that experience with my college degree in Asian studies into a career as an academic technologist, where I get to help students make websites, edit audio recordings, and produce videos for class. 

Star Wars also helped me realize that I enjoyed science fiction in general. I started reading more sci-fi and fantasy books, I watched other sci-fi shows and movies, and saw my sci-fi obsessions grow to include many other things (but Star Wars always remained number 1). I even met my husband in the sci-fi house in college (yes, there was a sci-fi house. Carleton rules, get over it), we had our first kiss while watching Star Trek, and the first time I got super drunk I told him that I'd never love him as much as I loved hockey and Star Wars. But I did (and do) love him a whole hell of a lot, and now we're married with two wonderful kids (both named after sci-fi characters, of course).

I don't think I ever would have ended up on this amazing family and awesome career trajectory if it hadn't been for Star Wars. That may sound a little ridiculous but, hey, I am a little ridiculous. May the Force be with you.

9 comments:

  1. Do you own the radio play of Star Wars? I have fabulous memories of sitting on the porch on summer evenings as a kid listening to it on the radio and looking up at the stars. I must have been around 5 and hadn't seen the movies yet - which might have made it even more magical.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do. I haven't listened to it since college though. Maybe I'll break it out for long drives this summer. :)

      Delete
  2. That is an awesome story from start to finish I *love* the fact that you and your husband had your first kiss while watching a Star Trek. And how cool is it that you've been able to parlay that fascination with Star Wars into a career?? Great to meet you, Alison. I'm you're latest follower (via email).

    ReplyDelete
  3. ha, that is awesome. What are your kids' names?? Star Wars for the win :)

    Allison (Geek Banter)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaylee (for Firefly) and Danielle (for Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1)

      We also have two cats, Arwen & Eowyn (LOTR) and a dog Bones (Star Trek TOS)

      :)

      Delete
  4. At the risk of proving exactly how old I am, I saw the original Star Wars (Episode IV) at a drive-in in 1978--for my tenth birthday. I hate to admit this, but I've never seen any of the rest of them all the way through. I hope we can still be friends. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, you're totally shunned now. ;)

      Star Wars is such a cultural phenomenon, I can't imagine never having seen them. You're blowing my mind. :)

      Delete