On The Fandom Road: Someone

Arya Season 6 601

I was a latecomer to the world of George R.R. Martin. Unlike many of my colleagues here at Watchers on the Wall, I watched the show before I read the books—sort of.

Technically, I was introduced to A Song of Ice and Fire on high school by my then girlfriend. She had a crush on Jon Snow. I was only dimly aware of what the whole thing was, despite numerous recommendations by her and a few other fellow geeky friends of mine. I was busy reading I-don’t-know-what. By my first year at uni, I’d idly kept track of the show’s development and I remember telling my ex about it once the first teaser trailer was released. That’s when I thought, “what better time to read the books?” I got about halfway through A Game of Thrones before getting distracted by the very important task that occupied most of my time during university: being depressed in bed.

The show, however, I did watch. My family did too, making Game of Thrones our first geeky shared love since LOST, which is something I’ll always cherish. I consumed it voraciously, but there simply was not enough of it—so, at some point during the first three seasons, I read the books, at last. I must have loved them, because that’s when I really got into the fandom. You’ll forgive my vagueness: as crucial as these early years were for my “road to the fandom”, I remember little of them. As I noted earlier, I was quite busy being depressed, and my memory of those years remains hazy at best. I have discussed my depressive (and depressing!) past here before: for a time, I was dangerously close to losing my very sense of identity—to becoming “No One”, as it were.

You may have noticed a pattern. I’m not here to discuss how I became involved with A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, per se, because that’s not a remotely interesting story. I’m here to write about how the fandom around the show—this community of Watchers on the Wall in particular—helped me out of that black pit of clouded memories and emotional dullness. Don’t get me wrong: accepting I had chronic depression, leaving uni, getting medication, and the support of my family and my now-girlfriend did most of the work, but you guys deserve some credit. You’re welcome.

Watchers on the Wall panel at Con of Thrones 2018, with Oz of Thrones, Patrick Sponaugle, Bex, Vanessa Cole, Petra Halbur, JoeMagician, Sam Wallace, David Rosenblatt, Luka Nieto, and Sue the Fury.

Watchers on the Wall panel at Con of Thrones 2018, with Oz, Patrick Sponaugle, Bex, Vanessa Cole, Petra Halbur, JoeMagician, Sam Wallace, David Rosenblatt, Moi, and Sue the Fury.

As I started reading the books and getting obsessed with the show, I got involved in the comments section of the site that preceded Watchers on the Wall. Before I knew it, our mighty editor-in-chief Sue and everyone else that mattered moved on to the site in which you’re now reading this. I jumped ship too, as most of us in the community did. I don’t know if any of you remember my contributions in the comments section back then, but I was a pain in the ass; I had very little going on in my life, and let’s just say it showed. Sometimes, half the comments in any article appeared to be mine. Fun times.

By 2017, I’d been in sporadic contact with Sue for some time, and I was telling her as much as I could gather of the season seven filming that was about to take place in Zumaia, a town in the Basque Country, where I’m from. I even auditioned to become an extra, though of course I didn’t make the cut, on account of me not looking like a Greyjoy, a Northerner, or a Dothraki—I don’t have a beard, is what I’m saying. One of those days (October 6, 2016; I checked), Sue very casually asked me to write for the site. If I was interested. Oh, was I! I honestly still don’t know what made her ask me. Perhaps my obsession was enough. Perhaps she thought that was the only way to curve my omnipresence on the comments section. Perhaps she believed I write goodly.

Whatever Sue’s reasons, what she did gave me purpose. You may believe I’m being hyperbolic, but I’m not: I’d left university after four pretty terrible years; I didn’t have a job, back then; I didn’t have much of a social life, beyond my family, a close friend I should’ve kept closer, and my new bonitísima girlfriend, who very much agreed with me that I needed to do something, or else I’d regress into how I was during my worst years. Chronic depression isn’t something that can be overcome, but it can be managed. Yet I cannot manage it if I have nothing productive to do with my life. Watchers on the Wall gave me the lifeline I needed at the time. Sue gave me that.

Oh, and then she made me deputy editor.

I’ve thanked her in the past, but probably not enough. So this is my Trojan horse public thank you note: to Watchers on the Wall and my wonderful friends who write for it, to everyone of you I’ve met at Con of Thrones, and to Sue most of all—thank you for helping me avoid becoming No One; thank you for helping me become Someone.

37 responses

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    1. Luka, you are a wonderful voice in this fandom. I’m So glad you have found some purpose. My husband also suffers from depression and feelings of a lack of self worth and it can be so hard, both for those who experience that self loathing, and those who love them.

      Best wishes to you, in all sincerity.

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    2. Thanks for sharing your story Luka. You are one of my absolute favorite “Writers on the Wall” and I was also impressed by your calm and intelligent demeanor at the first Con. We are all lucky to have you. (And of course, I wish you good fortune in the war(s) to come.)

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    3. Luka, so glad you were able to find us – for yourself becoming someone, and selfishly for us, because we’ve all enjoyed your posts here, and the place would not have been the same without you! I wish you great joy and success in whatever you choose to do, and may whatever it is keep the darkness well at bey.

      Reading these ‘Roads to Fandom’ posts, I have found a common link. just like Nina Gold was brilliant in the casting of this show, Sue was the same finding writers with love for the book/show who had a talent for writing, even if they didn’t know it at the time. Maya Angelou talks about the rainbows in her clouds. You have been a rainbow for so many here. You’ve affected the lives of so many both who work with the site, and those of us who get joy from discussing it. Thank you.

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    4. Such a sweet post! Good luck to you, Luka! And to your GF!

      There’s a fascinating article in Slate on the effect of patriarchy on boys – Men’s emotional caretaking: Women are tired, but how do we fix it? https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/05/mens-emotions-women-labor-patriarchy.html

      So, to bring it back to back to GOT, I hope that when Dany “breaks the wheel,” she breaks the patriarchy, which is not just substituting a woman head who acts like a man.

      Luka, I hope that that after the series ends (so soon, can you believe it?), you will be one of those who takes up the prequel! I plan/hope to be as obsessed with it as I have been with the books and GOT.

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    5. Hey Luka, I remember when you first started writing here on WOTW. It was interesting that filming was so close to your home and you could provide us with interesting background informations about the locations. End after a while you also started writing other articles that had nothing to do with filming in Spain. Even if we don’t always agree in discussions, I do like your contributions to this wonderful website.
      And your English is very good, certainly for someone from Spain.
      Hope your depression is getting better. Keep up the good work!

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    6. With so many smart opinions, you were impossible to ignore and the obvious choice. You were always Someone.

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    7. One of the things that makes this site so great are the interesting discussions in the comments sections. Naturally there are some people whose comments are particularly interesting, and whose names I pay particular note of. Luka was one of those people who made some excellent points, and I enjoyed reading his comments.

      I was therefore delighted when he became a writer for this site because he is a leading writer in this fandom and deserved a higher profile.

      Your written English is superb (I wish I was as good with foreign languages), but your overall enthusiasm and intelligence is what makes your posts so enjoyable to read.

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    8. Dammit, I am crying again! guys, this posts are getting me more emotional than season 8 lol, this feels like a goodbye and I am not ready yet.

      Luka, I Dont know you personally but I identify with you so much, I knew you were spanish and that you have a obssession with GOT/ASOIAF, but when I read the line “before getting distracted by the very important task that occupied most of my time during university: being depressed in bed”, uff, man, that one hit me hard.

      I have been battling with depression for a really really long time and I have to admit I was excepcionally good at pretending I was alright, I went partying, I was funny and witty, I was… a mess. I am right now in my 4th year of law school and it couldnt have been worse, my façade broke, somehow, the depression took all over me, sometimes I went to a public library and hide in a corner, reading because I dont wanna be seen or talked to, I stopped going out with friends, stopped talking to people, even my family knew there was something wrong, I only wanted to lay in bed and… well, not waking up ever again, I was so exhausted, I just wanted to rest, for good.

      And you know what game me a little bit of joy? YOU GUYS, your amazing posts, your comments, theories, blogs, youtube videos… I feel like I belong somehwere, so thank you Luka, and every single member that contributes to this amazing site, you dont know how much you have helped me, and, like me, so many many many others.

      May the old gods bless y´all.

      – Muchísimas gracias Luka por abrir tu corazón de esta manera, ha sido muy valiente por tu parte y, me pareces un heroe. Un abrazo enorme y todo mi apoyo desde Zaragoza.

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    9. Luka, in terms of English you are my role model I hope to be as good as you someday, ☺️
      And it’s interesting, by the end of season 7, I was battling depression, didn’t know what to do with my life, now with Game of thrones coming to an end, the day after tomorrow I’m having my final exam to get my Masters degree. Asoiaf was there to accompany me through this journey and what a journey this was.

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    10. Luka, I have always enjoyed your contribution to Watchers on the Wall, long before Sue deputized you! I am so glad that this community plays a part in shaping your life for the better and getting you to a more positive place.

      Unfortunately, my rather cluttered professional life and somewhat disorganised personal life forced to me to severely scale back my presence on this wonderful site for the last year or two, which is something I intensely regret. Stopping by and reading your heartfelt post brings back all the good memories I’ve had here with many, many people on all sides of the debate, even those I regularly disagreed with. Long after this one-in-a-lifetime TV show draws to a close, I’ll cherish the time spent here. Luka, Jared, Wimsey, Sue, Petra, Dee, Ten Bears, Sean C, Wolfish, ash, ACME, Hodor’s Bastard, and so many others: I am glad beyond words to have spent countless hours with you, if only via endless zeros and ones of the Internet.

      Luka, I recall once pegging you for a romantic, something you agreed with. Whatever else may be said of them, romantics are idealists at heart. Embrace that side of you, draw strength from it, and know there are people out there, myself included, who will always think fondly of this one Spanish guy — who seems to have been born with headphones — they’ve never met. But in a way, we have met. For that, I’ll always be thankful.

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    11. Hey Luka,

      I’ve had great fun interacting with you the last few years!

      (I finally got to watch last week’s episode last night, so this is the first day that I could pop back into this site: I’m glad that we stayed up so late to watch it, otherwise this post would have been buried by posts for tonight’s episode!)

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    12. I agree with someone up above who mentioned that the founders of this site (Sue and Oz) resemble remarkably Nina Gold (for casting decisions) ☺️ Amazing. Also they seem to have a knack for extending a hand for those who truly need it too.

      I think it was a wonderful decision for you to take up the mantle of the deputy editor of the site or writer in the staff and that Sue offered.

      I do remember the commenter Luka Nieto. Lots of comments, for sure, but they had substance and were articulate. And everyone has moments when they post more or when they post less. Nothing to be considered a pain in a butt for.

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    13. Luka, that was beautiful! I enjoyed your early reports from Spain and when you started as a regular contributor, I was happy. (Thank you, Sue!) You add so much to this site between your frequent articles and posts. Most recently, on Akash’s Writing on the Wall discussion, you were influential in making that one of the most interesting threads to read this season. And I recall one day, just before this season started, you posted a bunch of articles (5+?), one after another! It was crazy but fun as a reader. During the long wait for this season, you kept us going with whatever news that was available. Thank you for all you have given us and sustaining the Watchers on the Wall community.

      Personally, thank you for sharing your struggles with depression. Many people are dealing with it, to one degree or another, in silence. I think every time someone who has found a way to deal with or manage it tells their story, it helps someone else.

      Finally, I admire your skill with English as a second language. To write as well as you do is an accomplishment. Really. I mean it. I am a native speaker of American English and I still have to consult style books whenever I do any “official” writing. Very well done, Luka!

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    14. Thanks for sharing, Luka! I’m so glad you managed to find purpose and hope again, it is really amazing how WOTW can offer “a clean, well-lighted place” to passionate fans in need.
      As I have mentioned before, anxiety and depression have been my white walkers for a long time and finding GOT, then ASOIAF and, finally WOTW made me a world of good. When I don’t have time to come here, I look forward to finding those precious moments. When I can’t write anything, I enjoy the others’ posts.
      I remember your old comments, before you became “the Spanish correspondent”: witty, original, in excellent English – I though you must have been a translator or a professional journalist. You have always been someone – someone whose writing can bring joy to people. Good luck and be well!

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    15. Luka, you have an incredible mind and your written English is better than most American university graduates’. You have always been Someone. You have always been an amazing Someone. Depression convinces you that you’re No One. I know, as many others here do too. I’ve been there, time and again, since age 11 or 12. My last serious bout with depression occurred about three years ago, and as I wrote on Petra’s RtF post, finding this site and this community was one of the things that saved me. I love your writing, loved meeting you at Con last year, and fervently hope you’ll be here for the prequel.

      Gracias por todo.

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    16. Mr Fixit,

      Awww, thank you so much for including me in your shoutout!!! I’ve missed you as well, along with a few other MIA regulars, and was stoked to see your avatar again last week. 😀

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    17. Wolfish,

      Thanks! I got a new job in social work (social services?, I am not certain of the correct English term) some two years ago that has really sapped my energy. Dealing with financial aid to the socially vulnerable, custody, foster care, supervision of parenting, domestic violence, etc. Not enough employees, far too many cases, constantly expanding jurisdiction… Worst of all, it’s hard to tell if we’re making a difference… at times it feels like the entire society is terminally ill. Of course I know that’s not true, but it can be hard to see the bigger picture when you’re hip-deep in so many intense family matters. Anyway, that’s one of the primary reasons for my absence. Difficult to muster enthusiasm sometimes…

      On to sunnier topics: I am SO happy you stopped by to say hello! Missed you all something fierce!

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    18. Thank you, everyone. The love is overwhelming, truly. Also, I’m so happy others used this space to share their stories with depression. That was wonderful to read. As for all of you admiring my English, it is very much appreciated. I didn’t graduate from uni, as I say in the feature, but I was studying to be a translator.

      Sue the Fury,

      Thank you, boss 🙂

      ash,
      TormundsWoman,
      You’re right! Sue is totally the Nina Gold of this site, in that respect. I love all the kinds of voices she’s brought to the table.

      Lady MarMar: Luka, I hope that that after the series ends (so soon, can you believe it?), you will be one of those who takes up the prequel! I plan/hope to be as obsessed with it as I have been with the books and GOT.

      I’m not going anywhere! Neither are most of us, I suspect. The books are still on the horizon, as well as that first Long Night-set prequel show, and whatever comes next.

      AlvWaynwood,

      Viviendo tan cerca, es un delito que no quedemos algún día que tú te pases por Euskadi o yo por Zaragoza, eh. Dame un toque por Twitter si te pasas por aquí algún día 🙂 Gracias por compartir tu historia con la depresión, también. Mi novia hizo derecho también (es jueza ahora), y es una carrera muy puta; no me puedo imaginar cómo será con depresión además. Espero que te vaya bien!

      Wolfish,

      That’s beautiful, Wolfish 🙂 Are you coming to the Con this year?

      Wimsey,

      You’re missed around these parts. Though I’ve seen you commenting a bit more often during this season, thankfully. I saw your post last week saying you wouldn’t be able to watch this last episode for a while. How did you like it?

      Mr Fixit: Embrace that side of you, draw strength from it, and know there are people out there, myself included, who will always think fondly of this one Spanish guy — who seems to have been born with headphones — they’ve never met. But in a way, we have met. For that, I’ll always be thankful.

      Aaaaaw! Thank you, Mr. Fixit.

      You have no idea how right you are about the headphones—I basically don’t leave home without them. It’s not just you guys who picture me with them because of my old avatar; I’m pretty sure most people in real life do too.

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    19. Thanks Luka! This site has a special atmosphere. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the banter all these years (been here since S2). Cheers!

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    20. Thank you for sharing such a personal story, Luka! And what a heartwarming thank you note to Sue. What a lovely sense of community and friendship you have with the other WotW writers and editors.

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    21. Luka Nieto,

      Ya ves maño, si somos practicamente vecinos, ademas, con la de veces que voy yo a Sanse! que mi tia se pega medio verano en la residencia Olarain lol, si este verano voy te digo de quedar.

      Pues no tengo twitter ni rrss (ya ves, que yo soy muy hipster pa la vida), pero a lo mejor me lo debería hacer para poder hablar con gente de los fandoms hahaha pero me haría mucha ilusión conocer a un super fan de GOT, español y que además comparta una historia parecida a la mía, sigo bastante emocionado.
      Por cierto, dile a tu novia que es UNA KHALEESI por haberse sacado derecho y las oposiciones de judicaturas. Madre mía, mi más sincera enhorabuena, lo digo de corazón.

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    22. Thank You, Luka, for sharing Your story and for all Your articles You’ve posted here (and hopefully will post in future!). I always enjoy especially Your’s because of an undertone in Your writing, something, that echoes inside of me. What ever it is.
      Keep on, dear Luka! You’re really someone!

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    23. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Luka! Depression is an insidious force, no matter how strong one is in spirit, and the battle never truly ends. It can’t have been easy recounting your personal struggles, but I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing better at the moment and have found the support that you need!

      I’ve always found your writing about this show we all love to be thoughtful, intelligent, and well-reasoned. Whenever there’s a new episode or new piece of news to discuss, I’m always eager to hear your thoughts, and your thoughts always prove to be both enjoyable and insightful. More than that, you’ve proven yourself countless times over to be a kind, empathetic, and fundamentally good-hearted individual. Those a rare and special qualities to possess, especially after all that you’ve gone through.

      I couldn’t be happier that you’ve taken on a larger role at this website and in this community, and that through this work, you’ve found some measure of peace. You’ve given us all so much, and if there’s ever anything that we can do to help pay it back, you need only ask. Remember, we’re always here for you!

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    24. Luka Nieto,

      Ugh! My reply disappeared!

      Short answers: I like last week’s episode from a cold, objective standpoint, but found it quite horrific from a subjective & emotional standpoint. But that made it even better: the general outcomes did not surprise me, but the particulars did. And they’ve really setup an appropriate ending for the overarching story: Cersei has pretty much guaranteed that for Daenerys, Jon, etc., to fulfill some of their goals, they will have to sacrifice some of their other goals; and with this many protagonists, we might not get agreement about which goals to save.

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    25. Querido Luka,
      I recall when you transitioned from occasional contributor to the staff, and how happy we all were for you. GoT has been a life raft for many of us. And your contributions are always informative, enjoyable, and interesting. Having had the pleasure of spending some time with you at the Con last year, I can testify that you are as perceptive, knowledgeable, and charming in person as in print. Viva España, viva Game of Thrones, y viva Watchers on the Wall. And in 6 minutes our watch begins.

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    26. Mr Fixit,

      Both terms are correct in English. More important, though… you do the sort of work that I consider heroic, along with people like teachers, nurses, and firefighters. I can imagine that it’s utterly overwhelming on a daily basis to not be able to save everyone… but just being able to save someone, even if it’s “only” one, is more than most people can ever do.

      Keep fighting the good fight. When it’s your turn to go to your eternal rest, you’ll know that what you did mattered.

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    27. Luka Nieto,

      Yes, Saner Half, Wolf Pup #2 and I will be attending again. 🙂

      Saner Half won’t be at Con (except perhaps to sneak in to the farewell session sans badge, as he did last year). Wolf Pup might go as Arya; she was Oberyn last year, in a beautiful costume handmade by the beautiful and talented Lonely Cat. I’m going as Melisandre this year (I was Cersei last year). I’m so, so looking forward to it. At a jaded 49 years old, I feel like a child again… albeit a child who has finally, after all these years, found a whole bunch of playmates who are every bit as weird as she is. 🙂

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    28. Wimsey:
      Luka Nieto,

      Ugh!My reply disappeared!

      Short answers: I like last week’s episode from a cold, objective standpoint, but found it quite horrific from a subjective & emotional standpoint.But that made it even better: the general outcomes did not surprise me, but the particulars did.And they’ve really setup an appropriate ending for the overarching story: Cersei has pretty much guaranteed that for Daenerys, Jon, etc., to fulfill some of their goals, they will have to sacrifice some of their other goals; and with this many protagonists, we might not get agreement about which goals to save.

      ugh! Wish I could have read the longer first post! This was an excellent way to put E4, I felt the same way – I liked it, but it was quite an emotional ride, I kept laughing though out out of sheer disbelief, but at the same time it was well done and I understood what they were trying to do. It gets easier to watch on repeat viewings, but initial reactions were WOW they did THAT (again and again) LOL

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    29. What a wonderful article and journey, thanks for sharing your story – it isn’t always easy to put your truth out there. I’m glad you are not only in a good place, but in a place that you feel comfortable enough to share it.

      This place is one of my only ‘safe’ (hate to call it that but true) places to discuss GOT without getting spoiled, or a ton of negativity, but read real discussions and gain real incite into the show that I may have missed or saw differently. GOT has also been my one of the few fandoms I’ve been able to really sink my love into, perhaps not as much as others, but it has been a welcome entertaining diversion from the RL and I love coming here to read (and comment a little) all the articles and tidbits of news and stay excited about each new season. It isn’t said enough how appreciative I am for a site like this!

      Thank you.

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    30. Thank you, Luka! It really is a community here, no matter whether we agree or butt heads (or like me, am just a butthead 😉), we share a lot in common. Despite living in different countries and having different backgrounds, I always feel like I ‘know’ the regulars a little bit. Heck, I talk to you guys more than some of my in-person friends, due to the nature of sites like this! I appreciate you sharing your experience and road to Westeros. 🙂

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    31. Hey Luka, apologies I am late to this one but wanted to say thanks for all your contributions on Watchers. I always enjoy reading your posts on here and twitter (we share the same love of the marvel universe). You always come across as polite and well balanced in all interactions.

      As an avid fan of this site since season 5(?) I remember your comment contributions and your season seven news well, time flies and I am glad you got recognition and to contribute further.

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    32. Hey Luka! Thanks for sharing your journey so openly. Even though it took a while, we are all glad you made it here 🙂 Thanks for being someone who I interacted with in my early days on twitter and those interactions really motivated me to participate in the fandom and stop ghosting! And whose articles I always look forward to! And who was the eyes and ears on the ground of the beautiful Basque country- you’re so lucky to live there!! See you at Con of Thrones I hope 🙂

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