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That time I met ATEEZ

So in April, I won an in person fansign with ATEEZ. 


And basically everyone has asked me what it was like to meet ATEEZ at the fansign. Like everyone. 


By the time I walked out of the fansign, my phone was full of notifications with people asking me the exact same question: “what was it like?” I’ve told bits and snippets here and there. I’ve shared a handful of pictures. And I kept telling myself, well, I’m going to turn it into a blog post so I can say everything–a real tell all. 

Mingi, Yunho, Seonghwa, Yeosang, Jongho, and Hongjong

So here we are, weeks later, and I realize I still don’t really know how to talk about the experience. Like, it was weird, and fun, and cool, and scary, and an experience that made me feel the whole range of human emotions. I know there’s so much I’m going to leave out because I don’t even know how to explain it. 


But I’m going to try.


In the beginning 


I’ve been an atiny since Kingdom. I am, in fact, a Kingdom atiny. I fell fast and hard after seeing their Wonderland performance, and I’ve never really looked back. 


To me, ATEEZ represents more than just music I enjoy. I love them in a way that’s hard to express. To me, it’s not just music


I was not depressed when I found ATEEZ, so to say they saved my life sounds like an overstatement. But in very real ways, they did save my life. They gave me my life, and in many ways isn’t that the same thing? 


They saved me from toiling away in a job I hated. They inspired me to follow my dreams. They showed me the beauty and kindness and magic in the world. They taught me to be brave. So yeah, they gave me a life that is fuller, happier, more complete. They saved me. The real me. 

So I’ve done a lot to try to help ATEEZ be the most successful they can be, both as a thank you to them for what they’ve given me and because I am part of the atiny community. 


One of the things I’ve done is become a GOM. It honestly is fulfilling to me to help ateez sell as many albums as they can, and so I do work hard to order albums for people and help others grow their ATEEZ collection. And I’ve talked before about all of the reasons I became a GOM, which didn’t have anything to do with fancalls (and I have another GOMing blog post in the works). 


But being a GOM did start me down a journey that involved fancalls. I have talked a lot about winning fancalls with ateez online, both on here and on twitter. This has led some people to consider me a bit of an expert in winning ATEEZ fancalls. I am often sent messages on twitter and instagram asking for my advice on how to win fancalls. (Even when I was at the LA fansign, some person I met told me she knew who I was because she’d read my fancall blog post.) And while I do feel like I have a pretty good amount of experience and knowledge in that arena, I don’t personally consider myself an expert. 


When the LA fansign was announced, I was just as clueless about how to win as anyone else. I have never won an in person fansign. But that didn’t stop a lot of people from messaging me and asking me how many they needed to purchase to win. All I was able to truthfully tell them is that I have no idea. 


For the last Hello82 fansign during Outlaw, I’d spent what I would consider a lot of money—about $500–to give myself the work of running a GO and also not meet ATEEZ. Our GO last time opened for 5 sets (40 albums), and Cassandra and I split the GO and each bought some amount of albums—I think I bought 24 and she bought 16. Neither of us won. 


And I think the idea that ‘if we hadn’t split them, would it have been different’ sort of haunted us. So when this one came around, we decided I would take all the entries–next time they had an in person fansign, Cassandra would apply. 


Entering the fansign 

Probably what everyone wants to know is how many albums did I buy: the answer is 72. 

There were 2 fansigns: one where people purchased the digipak and one where people purchased the full albums. These fansigns came with the same POB, which means you could get that POB for $30 if you bought an album or $20 if you bought a digipak. Obviously, it’s much cheaper to buy the digipak. 


But the digipak fansign was for a weekend that I wouldn’t be able to go if I won, so I was forced to enter the fansign for the full album. It is always easier to get joiners if the POBs are cheaper. Always. So for this, I considered it a real race to the bottom between GOMs. They were all doing math with the same question in mind: “How much can I discount this POB?”  


If you have GOMs who can charge $15 for the POB and only spend $5 of their own money for the rest of the album, most of those GOMs are going to choose that. Some GOMs even went cheaper–they priced the POB between $10-12, covering the rest of the album. When you have to buy the $30 album, that means to competitively price the POBs to get joiners, you have to at least cover half the cost of the album. 


I know people think that GOMs make the money that they spend back by selling album PCs or whatever, but the market is so diluted. I’ve never made an ounce of money GOMing. I hemorrhage money. Regularly. And that’s what I did to competitively enter this fansign. 


I charged $15 for the POB, and I paid a little over $30 for each album. I might be able to sell some of the Barnes & Noble PCs, but not enough to ever come close to what I spent to get into this fansign. In the end, I covered about $1,400 worth of album PCs. I also raffled off probably $200-300s worth of items to joiners.  


When I was purchasing the albums, I did realize that it was slightly cheaper to buy them 8 at a time because the shipping cost more than doubled each time you added additional albums. So I placed 9 orders. 


Coincidentally, or maybe universe karmically, it was the 9th order that I won the fansign on. 


Pre-fansign

The first thing I did when I won was text Cassandra. 


Then I bought my plane ticket to LA. Traveling to LA is usually a cheap experience for me. Both my best friend and sister-in-law live in LA, so I always have a place to stay. And our Southwest Airlines credit card has a very robust point system. Southwest airlines flights between Dallas and LA are cheap and plentiful, and I had more than enough points to cover the journey. So once that was set, I had all the other, weirder things to worry about. 


These were the things I was worried about in order: 


  1. Not being able to come up with anything to say

  2. Crying so hard they had to escort me out / passing out

  3. Not getting any pictures 

  4. Somehow missing the fansign

  5. What I’d wear 

  6. Everyone else at the fansign would know each other and I’d be alone 


Three nights before the fansign (Thursday night), after I’d made it to LA,  I did have a dream that I missed the fansign. In the dream, I’d gone to the spa and somehow missed it while I was getting a spa treatment. In the dream, I was inconsolable. Literally great heaving sobs echoing in my dream, and I was trying to throw myself off the balcony of this spa. My friend was trying to pull me back, and I was fighting with all my might to just end it all. 


This is like.. a crazy level of stress dream for me. I’ve never once in my life had a stress dream where I tried to kill myself. This was the moment where I realized that I was barely holding myself together. 


I am the type of person who works through my issues by writing (hence this blog, probably), and so the friend I was staying with said I should journal about what I wanted to say to help with some of this stress. This was, in fact, good advice. The journaling started with me listing each trait about the member that I loved or how that member personally inspired me, which is something that’s pretty easy for me to do. Of course I have a bias, but I love all of the members of ATEEZ, and I think each one of them brings something into my life. 


But then I was worried about how I’d memorize these 8 different things. The thing that kept going through my mind was, this is my one chance. I just kept thinking over and over that if I fucked it up, then that was it. I’d never have this opportunity again. 


Even as I type that, I understand how people would agree with it. It’s so easy to think in terms of scarcity. But the sentiment was wrong on its face. At the time, I already knew I’d won an OT8 fancall with them through Potts (something that still hasn’t taken place, nor do I know when it will take place because as far as I know they haven’t said). So for me, it wasn’t my only time I’d get a chance to tell them what they mean to me. 

But even if it was, I still think it’s the wrong way to look at it. Scarcity is always the wrong way to look at the world, and it’s never how I’ve looked at the world before, so I didn’t want to do that with this either. That’s not me. And while each member does mean something slightly different to me, the truth is, that what changed my life is ATEEZ. The fact that they’re a group, that they exist together. Their music. And everything that they, as a group, are. 


And so, I decided, actually, what I want to do is tell them all the same thing. I want to tell them that I am a better, happier person because ATEEZ exists. And because this is what I wanted to tell them, I knew what I wanted to wear to the fansign: my ‘I Love Eden’ shirt. 


I know how Twitter feels about Eden, and they can continue to feel however they wish to feel. But I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an Eden stan. His music inspires me. ATEEZ’s music inspires me. I often feel like it was made directly for me, and to deny Eden’s part in that… well, that would just be stupid. So people on Twitter can think what they want about my choice: I would wear my Eden shirt, and I would tell ATEEZ that they have improved my life in immeasurable ways, and that I am happy I exist at the same time they exist. 


The fansign 

I arrived at Hello82 at around noon for a fansign that didn’t start until about 3:00. I had, thank god, met some atinys who also won on instagram, and I was able to wait with one of them. (Han, you and your pepto that kept me from throwing up will forever be my hero.)


I could go over the details of how it was ran and give a real point by point breakdown of everything that happened, but it would be super boring. Even my conversations with the individual members–I don’t really remember them, nor did we have super insightful conversations that are worth sharing with the world.


But I’ll do my best. 


Basically, they made us wait outside for almost an hour. Then we came in and were assigned a random number. This number was our spot in line for the fansign. 


I was number 10. 


They called us up about 4 people at a time. There was a short period of waiting right before we started the meeting each member portion, and I remember looking down at my hands to see they were shaking. It was at this point that I started to feel pretty disconnected from my body. 


I asked the Hello82 person if they would drag me off if I started crying inconsolably, and she assured me they wouldn’t. We were both laughing a bit as if I was telling a very funny joke, but I suspect she knew I was on the verge of Not Holding It Together. 


Wooyoung was first. Wooyoung has been a part of my bias line since Eternal Sunshine, and I’ve had one fancall with him before. That fancall was probably the worst fancall I’ve ever had. I was so tired during it that I could barely think, and it was so desperately hard to hear him. So I was a little nervous to meet Wooyoung, but to my great relief, I held it together. 

I told him how happy ATEEZ makes me, and then we weirdly had extra time, so I told him how much my non kpop friends loved their Coachella stage on Friday and now wanted to come to their concert, and some other stuff that I don’t remember. He asked me if it was my first time, and he smiled, and I probably smiled but I don’t actually know. I’ve rewatched the video, and one of the first things I do upon sitting in front of him is cover my face with both hands. At one point towards the end, he smiles with his whole face and it’s very cute. So I have that. 


San of ATEEZ
the actual moment I started crying

Next was San. He looked at me in the eyes when I sat down, and then I burst into tears. Like with Wooyoung, I successfully told him how happy ATEEZ makes me, and how I’m so happy they’re in my life. But what I remember is his warmth. Like it radiated from him while I was talking to him. In the video, you can see him leaning forward and nodding his head, and I’m pretty sure he was just reassuring me. Reassuring me that it was okay to cry and to feel a lot of things and to be the person that I am. And even thinking about my conversation with him right now has me tearing up again. San is the person who will accept you as you are, and I love him so much for that. 


Hongjoong was next, so I just continued to cry. Hongjoong commented on my Eden shirt, and he said he would tell him I’m a fan. I know that somehow during this conversation, I brought up Chris. I told him that Chris stealing his laptop changed my life, which is true. Hongjoong laughed and thanked me, and he said he would remember that forever. I hope he does. I hope Hongjoong knows that the way he interacts with the world makes people believe that the world can be a warmer, brighter place. 


Bless Hongjoong, he called the manager over to get me a tissue, and the manager gave it to me, and then I continued crying down the line. 


Seonghwa is a beautiful soul. He let me cry, and he told me that he didn’t believe in forever when he was growing up. But now he truly thinks there is a forever, and that there is something bigger than all of us. He said he feels the same way–that he is glad we all exist together in this moment, and that his life is better because of it. 


Mingi was next, and I pulled it together for Mingi. He also commented on my shirt, and he said ‘Eden’s a good producer, huh?’ So we talked about music for a bit, and then I told him about Cassandra, and how he brought us closer. I told him we always stream Tunnel and Untitled, and I told him how much I loved Youth. The combination of Eden and Cassandra talk really pulled me out of my tears, so that was nice. I had a break from crying. 


Unfortunately for Yunho, the break from crying was not to last. I started telling him how happy ATEEZ makes me and then started crying again. I made some joke about how it’s probably hard to tell how happy I am because of how hard I’m crying, and he was kind enough to laugh very hard, and then try to make me laugh. 


What I remember most about Yeosang is that he was like ‘noooo don’t cry’ in the sweetest voice. He was, like San, so warm. It’s hard to describe it. He just radiated kindness. I told him how happy I am to have a chance to tell them that my life is better because of them. He thanked me and said he’s happy they have meant so much to me. 


And then I got to Jongho, the final boss baby. If you told me that I had accidentally skipped Jongho in line, I’d be like, ‘yes, you’re right. I did.’ I truly don’t remember anything he said to me. I know that I managed to stop crying while I was sitting in front of him–possibly because I think my body shut down. He also commented on my Eden shirt–I have no idea what I said to him.

At some point I told him he was my bias, and he thanked me. If you watch the video of me talking to him, you can see the point where my body just gives out and I sort of collapse into the table. 


In the end

And that’s all I remember. 


Which is nothing, right? I didn’t get any spoilers or tidbits for me to share on social media. I didn’t come away with any hilarious stories of cute things they did or really anything that anyone other than myself would care about. 

But if someone wanted to know what it was like, or what they were like, here’s what I’d want to tell them: they are all so warm. And kind. I noted it in particular for San and Yeosang, but it was true of all of them. I don’t really remember our conversations, but I remember feeling like they understood. They knew how much I loved them, and they were grateful for it. 

The humble and kindness? It’s there. You can feel it when you talk to them. That’s why anyone who meets them loves them. There’s just no other way to describe it. And when I was talking to them, I didn’t feel like I needed to be anyone other than the me that I am. 

Crying was something I was worried about, and in the end, I did cry. I was worried I’d feel embarrassed because I am in fact a grown woman, but you know, I really don’t at all. I think maybe with a different artist, under different circumstances, it’s possible that I would. But what I feel is that they saw me, like the real me, and I continue to be incredibly grateful to them for helping the real me to exist. 

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ngl your description of your convos with them made ME cry a lil

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May 06
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I was worried it wouldn’t come across because I didn’t really remember any specifics, but I’m so grateful I was able to do their warmth justice.

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