GISHWHES: Tales from a First Time Hunter

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GISHWHES commandment 43 – Be precise. Be creative. Be courageous. Be shameless. Be gishwhes.

For months leading up to this year’s GISHWHES I had watched Facebook Livestreams and read countless tweets from event creator Misha Collins encouraging his social media following to join in on the hunt. And with much trepidation on June 18th I decided I would sign up.

The hunt officially began at 10am EST on Saturday, July 30th, when the list of items were posted on the GISHWHES website. At first glance, the items seemed so outlandish that I questioned how I would ever be able to complete a single one. For example, item #41 Pampered Dairy Cow:

Free range, grass-fed, small farm dairy cows in Northern Vermont have it rougher than most cows: the rolling hills, the verdant pastures, the way the flickering lights of summer’s fireflies mingle with the starlight, the smell of ripening raspberries wafting into their barns. Help a heifer in these dire circumstances forget her suffering. Treat a dairy cow to the most pampered milking session in human/bovine history. A minimum of three attendants must milk the cow. One person must be feeding her clover by hand as another gently milks her wearing satin gloves as another massages her gently. The attendants must be dressed in semi-formal attire. The milking must take place in a well-appointed living room.

This was among a few of the more “intimidating” items that were on the list. But, the beauty of GISHWHES is that there is something that everyone can do. Even if you think you can’t do something, it tests you and you realize that you can do it. One of the items I signed up to do was item #98:

Either a panda made of sanitary pads—a “Padna,” if you will—or a likeness of a totalitarian world leader made entirely of feminine hygiene products. —inspired by Sarah Davison

After I purchased the materials I needed to do complete this item, panic started to set in. How was I supposed to do this? Create something from basically nothing? Was it too late to back out now? But, a few hours and several hot glue burns later, I had created something. Something I was actually proud of. It was outlandish. It was weird. But I had done it.

This was just the first of many items that I would complete during GISHWHES. And in the process of making panda bears from sanitary napkins, painting the likeness of Misha Collins in the style of Picasso, and creating a trailer park from sand, I remembered that I had creative side. This part of me that had gotten buried under the routine of everyday life was starting to come alive again. Excitement now replaced my initial apprehension for the remainder of the week. But this hunt isn’t only about being silly, it is founded on a goal to do some good in the world, even by simply trying to brighten someone’s day each day. We were challenged to do some small kindness for someone each day of the week.

Another item was for each team to handcraft and send at least three birthday cards to an eleven year old boy in California who has autism.

I joined Team Wayward Banshees on July 21st and even though we had signed up as a casual team comprised of mostly first timers, at the end of the hunt on August 6th we had completed and submitted 82 items. I had more fun with a group of people I had never previously met before this week than I have had with some of my closest friends in years. Fifteen complete strangers from different backgrounds, different walks of life, and even different countries came together and we engaged in battle against drones armed with nothing more than items found in our kitchen, became a citizens of a micro-nation, recreated famous Goya paintings out of nothing but candy, and spread some happiness in the world.

For anyone who was apprehensive about participating this year, or who may be thinking of joining next year, my advice is to do it. Your team may not win, but you will have fun. You will also be tired, frustrated and at times wishing you had never heard of Misha Collins before. But, you will also make new friends, create amazing things and learn so much about yourself in one week’s time than you ever thought possible.

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By Kayla
Kayla has been with Nerds and Beyond since 2016 when she decided to combine her love of fandoms and writing. She enjoys all things Marvel, gaming, reading, traveling, going to conventions and concerts. When not writing, she can usually be found in front of the TV enjoying her favorite shows and trying to make a dent in her every growing 'to watch list', behind a camera lens, or on Twitter yelling about her love for Bucky Barnes.
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