Grieve, Spock, for a
Captain's footfalls broken into atoms that can never be cojoined,
silent sounds to echo in the corridor without your door, inside
your mind.  I reach out for your pain to ease my own, and touch a
cool, long-fingered mother's hand that, for a moment, lives again
within my own.

Getting a Life
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I fell into Trek by accident, but bless the day it happened. I was always a morning person, and my husband walked by night. Wishing we could see each other more, Paul began to encourage me to watch Star Trek with him. Since Trek came on in New York at midnight, it meant having to move my schedule. So everything thereafter must be blamed on him.

What pulled me to the show was that Kirk or Spock would appear to die, but then would be found again. Mother had died a few months before and, as expected, I wasn't taking it well. We had lived 1000 miles apart, and I had waited anxiously for the day she would retire and move in with us. She was 73 years old and unwilling to give up on her job or her school. She was STILL trying to get her MBA at Roosevelt University. Everywhere mother went, she had carried her school books, and every bench on which she needed to collapse was another place to read and study. I railed at mother's death and worried for my own mental health. I felt like a boiling teakettle, whose lid was precariously perched on top.

What I began finding in Trek was that I could project onto the characters the loss of mother. I could grieve for a short time and, when the episode ended, the kettle had let off steam and the lid sat just a little steadier.

It started with mother, but it ended with me. From Trek I've found friendships and talents, accomplishments and new professions. I've been an active Trekker, returning stories and song videos to the community. But no matter how much I ever produce, I will never be able to return to Trek what it's given to me.

Mary at work

Something that makes a Trekkie just a teensy bit sensitive comes from a comment of William Shatner's in a Saturday Night Live skit, "Get a life!" Trek fans aren't too happy about that statement because they think they have a very nice life, thank you very much.

Yes, we're enthusiastic. But have you ever talked to a really good English teacher about MacBeth? Passion is a quality that makes for a rich and full life. And it's just as wonderful to be passionate about a television show as it is about a play, even one that's had a run of 400 years.

Just as a teacher will use Lady MacBeth to examine motivations, we use the characters on TV. The good news is that we have 79 episodes to examine. The bad news is that they were written by a lot of different writers.

Yes, of course we know that it's fiction. But it's FUN to pretend that it's real. It's sort of like a grown up version of playing horses. And I really can't see where spending an evening playing monopoly is all THAT much more mature.

And fandom isn't a passive love. It pushes you. You really want to know what happened to McCoy and his wife when her artificial planet finally makes it to earth. But the writers didn't tell you! And none of the fan stories tell you either. And you REALLY want to know.

Some fight the push; some flow with it. Those who flow become the writers and the artists. They learn the answers by imagining them.

I've never seen an environment as supportive as fandom. Because I'm into relationship issues, I don't tend to hang around the ones who like the spaceship. For Trek, that usually means that you're in a circle of women. What an immeasurable pleasure that has been. As a physics major at University of Chicago, and as a computer professional since 1967, I've always been surrounded by men. One of the most intense joys of fandom, for me, has been discovering what a truly lovely sex we women are. I have found more intelligence, analytical ability, incisive thinking and pure creativity in Star Trek fandom than in any other part of my life. It's clear that there are more ways to tie into the human race than just the obvious ones. One way is to hang with the aliens.
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Fans make the distinction between being a Trekker and Trekkie. A Trekkie screams a lot. A Trekker creates.

I'm a Trekker.

I got so much from Star Trek from the first moment I got into fandom, that it became an obsession to give back. Even though I wrote professionally, I didn't believe I could write fiction. And I'd had enough art classes to know that I couldn't draw a good likeness. So I went back to an early enthusiasm - library science. I thought that I could build bibliographies of fan writing. Which just meant that I wasn't yet into fandom enough to know that many feet had trod that path before.

The afternoon before leaving work for my first trip to a slash con, Idicon in Texas, I wrote a short story of my mother's death disguised as Kirk's. And there died, also, my planned bibliography.

Because you are surrounded by people who need others to feed their own obsessions for more and more stories, even bad writers will be read by someone. And when you make mistakes, there's always a kindly, obsessed soul who will explain what you can do to make your story better. After I began writing, two separate people made up summary lists of the rules of grammar I had evidently forgotten. And I was endlessly grateful to them. That didn't mean that I rigidly followed those rules, but I really did want to know what I was choosing to go against. I had already known that I could write technically quite well. One of my first computer publications for the Navy had been made the standard of quality for the future Navy contracts. And I knew I could change voices from the spare style of a reference manual to the more explanative style of a tutorial. From computers, I knew that the hardest computer language to learn was the second, because that's when you had to generalize concepts to tell what was an underlying truth and what was just the particular way this language chose to say it. From Trek writing, I learned to generalize writing so that I could write in any voice.

There were things besides story continuations that I needed to say. Paul and I have no children, so there was no one to whom I could repeat what I had learned at the knee of my mother or grandparents. No one to hear what conclusions I'd drawn from the time I've been in this world. Until I found Trek. And there I found the place to say my things. All that was needed was to find the right person to say them for me. And that's why I've grown to have a special love for the good Doctor Leonard McCoy, played by the equally good DeForest Kelley. He's gone now, and the hole in the crew will never be filled. Wherever you're traveling DeForest, may the wind be at your back.
DeForest Kelley

Unfortunately for my fan writing, I also discovered music videos in the Starsky and Hutch community. The potential power in this art form took over my soul. We went out and immediately bought an RCA VHS video recorder and another obsession took root. My first tries in Starky and Hutch were emotional, but unskilled. As were my early Trek pieces. Today I'm digitizing my old songs, and those oldest ones are getting a complete rework. So much for historical records.

But I do have to say that one of my favorites of the old ones was a version of Wind Beneath My Wings. I have only so long I can sustain high drama before my tendency toward humor overwhelms me. I made one serious version of the song to get it out of my system, then immediately redid it with John Belushi clips, the cartoon show, and scenes from the parody show with Richard Benjamin, Quark. Captain Quark captained a space ship and his mission was to collect space baggies. This was the takeoff from the Trouble with Tribbles insult of calling the Enterprise a garbage scow.


Star Trek:
DVDs: Please contact Cathy, tranya at

ARCHIVE: The Star Trek videos are becoming available online thru Acidqueen. She currently has up 6, and will have a changing collection. She has, herself, a great fanfic site.

Lord of the Rings, Buffy/Spike, Misc:
DVDs: Please contact Tricia, grandmat at

No matter how much you give to fandom, it always manages to give back more. Sure I had to worry about my fan writing style affecting my computer publications. Maybe I didn't really want to describe how to turn the screen pink in a light-hearted way. But it did increase my confidence in my ability to change writing styles.

After listening to IBM Research Vice President Abe Peled give a talk on Pursuit of Excellence, I took the big leap. I told him I gave him what I had to and gave my hobbies everything. Could he reverse that. A few days later, lunch and almost spilt soup from a very shaky hand, I had an international multimedia magazine for which I could directly thank fandom. We found 1" broadcast machines around research and my husband built a half million dollar studio around my magazine. Editing speech was easy compared to editing to music, and I learned that writing scripts was pretty straightforward.

When we took advantage of IBM Research's last great early retirement package (health benefits until social security kicked in, and a 7 year bridge that assumed we were still working at our last salary!), I thought we'd just be making industrial videos. But there was this other retirement perk - retraining money. So off I went to the Maine Film Workshops to increase my editing skills with the editor of The Pawnbroker. And all would have been fine except for this one little class I thought I'd take in writing movie scripts.

My first movie script was read by 16 agents and 6 offered to represent it. Vampires, of course. I took the NY city agent that handled John Grisham and they subbed me out to Writers & Artists. I was high as the sky. Wrote another about a werecub taken in by a vegetarian that they thought was even better. 2 years later, my no-way-out contract was over and they hadn't sold. Ah, well. One of the agents I turned down had become my best buddy, and he got the Forever Knight people to take an episode script from us. We mailed on Tuesday. They called on Thursday. Unlike the implication my agent had made, I was not Canadian, and would be no help for their balancing act of Canadian and American talent. Besides, they had neglected to mention that they'd gotten rid of all my characters!

So I haven't sold yet, but I have become much more knowledgeable about byways and highways, and there is no doubt in my mind that the joy I've had from these creations can be directly traced back to the joy of fandom and the support of fans.

Is this a great world or what?


I came into Trek in 1984, and it was during a midnight episode of Star Trek that I saw my first con advertisement. Never could I see myself going to see a gathering, but I could close my eyes because I was on the commuter train to New York early on a Saturday morning. The convention was professionally run, and one of the crewmembers would be there as a guest. I didn't know why I was going, or what I'd find when I got there. I was a grown woman, a professional computer researcher, and my heart was beating loud enough to be heard in the next car.

The New York location was near Grand Central Station, so finding it wasn't a problem. Besides, the crowd was immense. It was so large, in fact, that finding my way into the active fandom should have been like looking for the proverbial needle. But when fate must, we will. So there I was in the dealers' room looking at these strange and casually bound publications. I glanced at a few and something went click. To quote a Trek filk, I was reborn as a Trekker. I bought every zine on the table and was barely able to carry them away. By the time I got on the commuter home, I was totally hooked. And the next morning I returned for more.

I remember this story well, because I've heard it often. One of my dearest friends today, Vicky Clark, was at that table, and she likes to tell the story to other friends. Vicky is a woman of great heart as well as mind. She teaches high school English in New York's inner city, and she loves her students with an intensity that even Trek cannot match. Her pride in them is limitless, and I think they take more than just language skills from her class.

When I was a reader, Vicky invited me to the fan parties at which her zine was put together. When I wrote my first story, it was Vicky who published it. She's patiently taught me, encouraged me, and listened to me for countless hours on whatever was then taking over my soul. When I was investigating my great grandfather, Brig.Gen. Henry Burnett, it was Vicky who took me through the city to find the place where his brownstone once stood. When I was gathering information to try to prove that 5th great grandfather, Major Henry Livingston, was the real author of Night Before Christmas, Vicky was there again to stand with me at Henry's grave, and to pick me and a parking ticket up at the New York City library.

One of the Trek concepts that have drawn most of us in is that of IDIC, the Vulcan idea of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Trek fandom is the place where all of those combinations are to be found. There are people from all walks of life who gather together and share ideas and then come to share lives. Do you think Roddenberry ever dreamed of what a commotion he would one day accomplish? I hope he does now.
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