Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dragon Egg (and other updates)

Now Playing: Silversun Pickups - Pins and Needles

I don't even know what to say about this:

Level 22 human female for scale.
Silvia has been hyping up this present for the better part of the last two months. It's a double combo gift--Ren's Christmas and birthday present to me, and Silvia's Christmas and birthday present to me, all in one. For maximum suffering, I've known about it since a few days before my birthday, but they only gave it to me yesterday in our continuous Longest Breaking Bad Marathon Ever. (We started over three years ago and are only halfway through season 3).

Anyways, keeping true to my promise, it's hanging out with other presents I wrapped, under the watchful eye of my plush toys. (Including a newly arrived bunny I took from Red's house after his mother offered it to me. Bunny still needs a name).

This was the pile of presents before I handed a few out yesterday and minus Silvia's own combo Christmas present--as it hadn't arrived yet--and the three other mini-presents my mom sewed up for Berny, Ren, and Silvia:

Ominous bunny keeping watch

Your eyes do not deceive you: that is indeed a cardboard box at the side with a ribbon slapped on top of it.

It's Ren's present. It came in this super long rectangular box and I was too lazy to spend all my wrapping paper on it (or to unbox it and attempt to wrap the thing inside), so I retaped the Amazon box it came in, put a ribbon on it, and taped half a square of wrapping paper at the side wishing Ren a Merry Christmas. I warned her beforehand it would be trashiest gift-giving she'll ever experience but she seemed cool with it.

I gave it to her yesterday and while I tried to guess what my present contained (giant Ferrero Rocher chocolate? Uber expensive basketball? Dragon egg? Dragon robot egg?) they attempted to guess Ren's present (baseball bat? Sword? Selfie stick? Lightsaber? All you can know is that it's blue).

I'm excited to find out what mine is. Although it's a present of contradictions. It doesn't  make any noise when I shake it and Silvia told me to be careful with it, but while we were wrestling over her own birthday present yesterday, mine slipped from my hands and bounced once on marble tiles. I panicked and she said it's okay, it's got padding. But the thing inside is breakable and I shouldn't go at it with scissors Christmas day if I struggle to open it.


I just wrapped it in blankets and left it at my desk in case the dragon decides to hatch in the next 24 hours.

2) I need names ASAP. I've acquired a few things since I last posted--a car named Briar Rose, the bunny from above, and a Kindle my parents gave for my birthday. The latter two need names but my creativity seems to have dwindled a bit. I haven't been revising Millennium Girl or writing Death Awakens lately either. I'm not pressuring myself to work on anything. Maybe I should seeing as I've got more free time now seeing as--

3) I switched jobs! Nothing too exciting but a change nonetheless. I'm a library page now. I've been on this application process since the end of September and the poor library I was assigned hasn't had a page since summer. There's months and months of books in need of shelving. Another girl and I are working on it--she got the children's section while I got the adult's section. I'm thinking at the end of this whole experience--be it a year or a decade from now--I'll have memorized the Dewey Decimal System in its entirety. Soon I'll be able to tell you with perfect accuracy which number holds books for your average, disillusioned, career-driven modern woman looking for love. (God there were so many of those books to shelf. Also a million Danielle Steele and James Patterson novels for fiction.)

It means I'm working Christmas Eve and other random days. It's not too bad, but the entire 700 section of the non-fiction aisles was crowded with worms.

Literal worms. Literal book worms?

I couldn't touch them. I was so freaked out.

I guess I shouldn't discriminate. Maybe they really like reading about impressionism and music theory.

4) I spent most of my birthday thinking about the nature of empathy and wondering if people inherently empathize more with sadness than with joy, because sadness is universal and joy feels more tailored to the individual.

And no, I wasn't even drunk. I reach dumb, pretentious existential questions while still stupidly sober, thankyouverymuch.

I had this whole post drafted in my head about Red and how, whenever I listen to stories about his difficult upbringing, I try my hardest to really see them as he might have seen them, long ago.

It's difficult. Not just for me who never had a traumatic childhood, but for him too. He's told me in multiple occasions he has trouble reconciling his childhood-self with his adult-self. He doesn't understand how his childhood-self thought, what he wanted, how he felt, how the world looked to him. I guess that's true for all people to an extent, but I don't find the actions of my childhood-self mystifying. It's all very expected and traceable. It's easy to see how She became Me and how I was once Her.

It's not the same for Red. He was someone entirely different and though he acknowledges there was a transition period ("Growing Up" in hard mode), it seems said period is a blur to him. Instantaneous. A giant brick wall that keeps him from fully accessing who he was in the past.

The post didn't happen because, if you haven't noticed, I've been too lazy to write. But also because I couldn't reach any sort of conclusion about it. Honestly, I was just feeling all kinds of sad on my birthday.

It wasn't anyone's fault, though. (Except maybe my last employer, as they once again refused to pay us and delayed the already delayed paycheck yet again). When I went to Red's house that afternoon, he surprised me with a chocolate cake and we had a mini-celebration. He was very tired, sadly. I'd woken him up at 6 am that day. So he fell asleep not long after, and I cuddled beside him and decided to watch Dear Zachary.

Bad idea.

He woke up to find me crying; it was that movie which made me think about pain and empathy and trauma.

Which I figured was a valid thing to think about on my 21st birthday, I guess.

5) Oddly, I think finishing Rise of the Tomb Raider on my birthday ended up ruining Rogue One.

I didn't like Rogue One all that much. Everyone has said that they like it a lot more than Force Awakens, and while I can argue that it definitely has a better plot than FA, I'm not a plot-driven person. Not as a writer or as an audience member. I'm all about character-driven narratives. And sadly, when Jyn was screaming "YOU KNOW WHO I AM!" mid-climax, my brain was going, "???? who? Who are you?!"

Her answer was my answer: random, important dude's daughter. And. . . that's it.

It gave me newfound appreciation for Force Awakens, because while that movie's a lame remake of New Hope, I knew Rey infinitely more three minutes into her introduction scene that I ever knew Jyn after two hours of her story.

That movie seems to have painfully suffered from creative constrains. Most of the characters feel chopped up. I can feel the scissor marks on backstories and arcs and even their interpersonal relationships. What survived was serviceable, but nothing spectacular.

Jyn suffers the most in the end, and ultimately her arc is tied to her father's accomplishments and sacrifices.

In both the Tomb Raider Legend series and the new reboot Tomb Raider games (can't speak for the older games, as I played some but was too young to follow the stories), there's an implication in the former and explicit discussion  in the latter how Lord Croft dies a failure, mocked by the scientific community and resented by his daughter. Lara has her own ambitions and her own drive, but it's clear that to an extent she feels like she owes it to her father to restore the family name or at least understand what he fought and died for.

The amazing thing about Rise of the Tomb Raider is the freedom that comes when Lara realizes that no. No, she doesn't have to be who her father wanted her to be. She doesn't have to do what he wanted to do, she doesn't have to make the choices he would have made. Her life doesn't have to be defined by who he was, what he wanted, or what he did. It's a part of her--an important part, her foundation even--but she can and will be someone else.

I think about Rogue One reaching that thematic conclusion, the way the rest of the movie could have been shaped because of it, and I can't help but dislike it a little bit more.

But hey. There's more Star Wars to come. There's more Tomb Raider to come too.

Oh! And a new Nine Inch Nails' EP was released and there's the Sense8 Christmas special on Netflix. There's stuff to look forward to.

I'm back to grey optimism. On a miniature scale.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I had this post in my head that started with, "I'm going to die in a car accident."

It's been one of those days.

One of those months.

One of those years. Panic. Sadness. Fear. Unfiltered anger.

I haven't been driving for long. I'm not the best at it but I like to think I'm not reckless. Just. Regular mediocrity with occasional dumb mistakes.

Being in a car makes me horribly aware of how little control I have. Not just on the road, but of my own mortality. I imagine some asshole kids drunk on rum or adrenaline fueled by youthful overconfidence just slashing through my car and snapping me in half.

Then I think maybe I won't die from a car accident. But someone I love will. And no one will know how to deal with the fact that pure stupidity slaughtered them.


It's been one of those years.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.