Dearest Rachel –
So… Sunday night, I received a text from Doc Pearson. It was actually kind of strange, because he would usually call me in the days leading up to Anime Central, rather than texting. Of course, the times are strange already, what with there not being any Anime Central this year – again.
So of course, unlike in years past, he wasn’t trying to arrange a time for the panelists to get together, or where we would be going once we got together, or where we would be ordering our food from. Rather, he was trying to reach out to all the fan fiction writers that had ever been on an Anime Central fan fiction panel in years past… to spare a thought, even as we endure another year without the convention itself, to remember you, in particular.
And oddly enough, he was contacting me… to request permission to ask our fellows to remember you. A strange request: why on earth would I refuse it? The more people who remember you, the better. After all, why do you think I’m writing this, where you’ll never see it?
But others will.
And hopefully they will remember. Certainly, the fanfic community will, thanks in no small part to Doc.
For all that you were never a writer, for all that you weren’t the anime otaku that I was, for all that you started trailing in my wake on the convention circuit, you became a legend in your own right among the circle of people that I would call colleagues and friends.
Because, while I might have been the anime fan in the family (at least at first), you were the one who took to conventions like a duck to water. Oh, you enjoyed the anime itself well enough, but it was the whole social aspect that really was your element, and you shone so brightly – enough to be remembered even now.
You see, Doc has been heading and organizing the fanfiction panel at ACen for well over a decade now. But while I’ve only ever been a participant on the panel but once (mostly because I was never a particularly prominent writer, and haven’t been writing fanfiction at all for maybe fifteen years or so), we’ve been a part of the community social circle the entire time, mostly thanks to you.
For the first few years, the panel would caravan over to a nearby restaurant (mostly Denny’s, as Jeanne Hedge had no fondness for Japanese cuisine or pizza – imagine going to an anime convention in Chicago, and not wanting either signature food!). I still recall back in 2000, when we made reservations at the nearby Denny’s, only to arrive and find out that there are two Denny’s on Algonquin Road, and – needless to say – we’d booked the wrong one. For forty-five fanfic writers! They still managed to accommodate us, incredibly.
Eventually, the convention (and the Rosemont parking garages) got too crowded for anyone to feasibly leave the campus, and we had the main meal – generally pizza at this point, sorry Jeanne – ordered in. And that’s when you really took over things, offering our hotel room to hold it (which worked best when we were staying at the Embassy Suites, but that always filled up so quickly we rarely managed to be there after, say 2010 or so). You’d have us bring cases of soda, disposable plates and silverware, and lots of Japanese snacks we’d stocked up on from Mitsuwa in the week prior. We’d hook our computer up to the television in the room when possible – or if not, we’d play anime music videos directly on the computer for everyone’s entertainment – and we’d just enjoy the company as everyone talked shop – be it anime- or writing-related. Sometimes, you were clearly just smiling and nodding in feigned comprehension – heck, sometimes, so was I – but the whole time, you were enjoying everything and everybody.
The funny part of having writers for friends, is that sometimes you get some of the most eloquent tributes. Assuming Doc doesn’t mind my quoting him:
“On Friday, take a moment to think of that smiling lady in purple, graciously handing out sodas and pizza. She and Randy have asked for nothing except our company and sometimes offbeat conversations. Try not to chuckle at the gigantic, lovingly-sewed visage of Chiyo’s “father” from Azumanga Daioh. Remember–if not the actual conversations, but their flow.
“Just…take a moment.”
Thank you, Doc.
And thank you, honey. I know that convention life will never be the same, but I want to thank you for having made it so special for so many people for so long.