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Earlier this summer – on July 22, we said goodbye to our beloved 20-year-old black and white cat Rhett. He was a delightful boy that my mother adopted at 4 months old from the humane society in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He and I were very close but I never imagined how difficult it would be to lose him. Recently, I had become his caregiver when my mother was away on her worldly adventures so he latched onto me.

Rhett

Selfie with Rhett, always the personality, on the Monday before we had to say goodbye.

 

We always knew that we would open our home to another cat when Rhetty passed. Enter Phasma and she has an interesting history.

Her original owner, a homeless woman who owned three other cats, gave her the name “Susie”. She spent the first four months of her life in the homeless camp, living in a pet crate that she left only to be walked on a leash attached to a heavy dog collar. When her first owner obtained housing but couldn’t take her, “Susie” found a foster home with the local rescue group Cats-Can, Inc., which is where I discovered her at an adoption event in August – a month to the day we lost Rhetty.

Phasma with Bunny

Phasma cuddling her favorite bunny toy during the first week in her new home.

Rhett was named after the mascot at my alma mater and as much as I toyed with calling my new companion Scarlet, I  leaned on my geek roots. For the first week, she was called Carter after my favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but it didn’t seem like the right fit. Instead, I returned to my original fandom.

Thus the idea to call her Phasma after the chrome-plated stormtrooper played by Gwendoline Christie in Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. She was born in December, though no one can say for certain what day. And it’s only fitting then that we decided to officially celebrate her birthday on December 18. I celebrate my fourth month as Phasma’s human later on that weekend.

Phasma the Geek

Phasma and I enjoy similar fandoms. She enjoys watching the original Star Wars trilogy and I caught her staring adoringly at Captain America.

Phasma sleeps with me at night, although I wish she allowed me to sleep in later than 5am. She loves her bunny toy that “Aunt Steph” gave her the day she was adopted and she seems to have an affinity for all things Star Wars and Captain America. I’d say it’s a match made in heaven.

Phasma Nap

Phasma celebrates her birthday week by napping on a blanket bearing her Star Wars namesake.

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Summer 1978. A father took his five-year-old daughter to see Star Wars. It was called Star Wars then. No episode count. No subtitle. But there was certainly no hope (much a less a new one) for me when that young girl left that theatre…I was in love with George Lucas’ vision of a galaxy far, far away.

Mark C6

My inner five-year-old was squealing when I met my first screen crush, Mark Hamill, at Star Wars Celebration VI.

Luke Skywalker was my first crush. How cool was he? An x-wing pilot that wielded a pretty damn cool looking lightsaber. That changed in 1980, when I decided I was better off with a scoundrel like his buddy Han Solo. Sorry, Luke, but the stuck-up,half-witted nerf herder wins – even if he is scruffy-looking and only carries a blaster.

What I really wanted, though, was to BE Princess Leia. She wasn’t a damsel in distress waiting for the prince to rescue her. She stood up to her captors, even a foreboding figure in a black suit with an intimidating voice and serious anger management problems.

One of my favorite moments was in the detention block when she took charge of her own rescue mission. “Someone has to save our skins.” Loved that line.

I still remember role-playing Star Wars with the neighborhood kids before Kenner released any action figures. Of course, when the action figures debuted, one poor stormtrooper fell into the garbage compactor and I believe the “dianoga” swallowed him. My friends’ parents weren’t too happy about it when the guest room toilet overflowed days later.

Leia Halloween

I dressed as Princess Leia for Halloween in 1979 before cosplay was cool. Mom made the famous buns out of a pair of damage Mickey ears and pom-poms. (My sister is the scary pink clown.)

Leia continued to be a role model throughout the trilogy even as she fell in love with a space pirate from Corellia and became a slave to a slobbery blob on Tatooine. I couldn’t have been prouder when she once again rescued herself by strangling Jabba the Hutt at the Pit of Carkoon.

Carrie Fisher

I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie Fisher herself at Celebration V. This was pre-glitter days. I admire her writing now as much as the younger me looked up to Leia and told her so.

 

Today marks one week until the official release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I canNOT wait until  11pm on Thursday when my friend Alli and I take our seats in the theatre and wait (im)patiently for that telltale yellow crawl, indicating a new adventure in a galaxy far, far away is about to begin.

It’s like a school reunion. I can’t wait to see what my old friends have been doing the last 30-plus years but I also think it’s time to make some new acquaintances, too.