National Suicide Prevention Week

This is just going to be a quick little message to bring awareness to as many people as I can.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week(NSPW) and Tue, Sept 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) You may or may not have seen it on the various dashboards of your social media websites the last couple days. Amazingly, I haven’t seen anyone except the official TWLOHA website mention it. So here I am.

Take time this week to tell someone that you love them. You might not think it’s important. You might think you have til tomorrow or next week. You might think “Well, they know how I feel.” But do it anyway. You might save a life.

You don’t  know what personal battles someone you know might be facing. And you might not have til tomorrow.

I was supposed to see my brother a week after the day he died. There was stuff I was going to show him that I thought he would like. Things I was going to share.

Things he will never see.

And if you suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, just know that you are not in anyway alone. That may or may not be of comfort to you. If you can’t talk to your friends or family about it there are groups online or in your town. If you don’t want to talk the TWLOHA blog is a really great place to go read and feel support without ever having to share your story or bare your soul. It might give you just enough hope to try and get through another day.

Know that you are loved. Someone in this world would be devastated if you died tomorrow.  There is help. There is hope. It is not over until you take your last breath. That day doesn’t have to be today.

Live because you deserve to. Live because there is only one you. Live because you can change the world only so long as you keep breathing. Live because you are worth more than what you feel right now.

I love you.

-M-

about NSPW:

http://twloha.com/

Finding various forms of help for you or those who might need it:

http://twloha.com/find-help

 

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One More Week

One week from today will be my last day at Gamestop and the day that I truly and completely immerse myself in trying to become a writer for real. By for real I only mean that I get paid to write. I’ve always been a writer but I’d like to be able to live off my writing.

Whatever that means.

It’s terrifying.

I don’t like where I work currently. Not the company as much as the area. If I worked at a different Gamestop then I could conceivably stay there for a long time; but in my area I have had four different times in the last year where I was genuinely afraid for my life. With my hand on the phone to call the cops. When I could get to a phone.

We’ve never been robbed. Not while I’ve been there. Just…the clientele. A few weeks ago as I was getting ready to leave the store and close the gates someone tried to rush past my associate into the store. My coworker was not supposed to be there. A fortunate turn of luck, that had earlier seemed rather frustrating, allowed me to keep him for an extra hour.

Most nights I close alone.

The shopping center where I work is filled with drunks and drug addicts and gang bangers. All quite literally. The majority of the product that I take in is, I would be willing to bet, stolen.

In my first couple months there I had a customer tell me that I was lucky he was on parole cause of what he would do to me if he wasn’t afraid of going back to prison.

The reason for his threat you might ask?

He didn’t like the price he was getting for a game he was trading in.

So I was forced to choose between two different kinds of terror:

Terror for my life(which sounds hopelessly dramatic and I really wish it wasn’t true) or terror that I won’t make it being a writer and die in retail.

When put like that the choice seems obvious, doesn’t it?

So in one more week I will say goodbye to what I know and what is comfortable(ish). I will say goodbye to a sure thing and start my writing.

Does anyone have any tips for finding freelance writing work etc…?

I have an internship with a newspaper-or I was told I did by the managing editor-but he hasn’t called me back since that conversation and I’ve been looking for other type jobs. But if anyone has other ideas or tips I would greatly appreciate it.

-M-

Epic Fantasy Authors Have the Best Fans

Written August 28th, 2013

Warning: Some rambling but I assure you it all serves a purpose

I don’t typically read Epic Fantasy* novels. At least not in the past. Occasionally one would appeal to me but usually I would get bored quickly-despite being interested in the plot-by the detail of every single inch of ground in the entire world. I’m better at imagining it if you leave something for me to imagine. If you describe it all I lose interest. I don’t know why. That’s just how I am.

Then my brother died.

Aaron loooooved epic fantasy novels. He was reading the Wheel of Time series from the beginning. I have five of the first nine I believe(not in sequential order unfortunately) because I found them along with a bunch of other fantasy books in a white car we had in our backyard for years that eventually just piled with books.

I wish I knew where all the books I had salvaged from the car have gone. There was a series that used to be published(maybe it still is) by multiple different authors that, I think, were all writing in the same or similiar realms called the Dragon something or other. Every single book said Dragon-blah blah #___(tomorrow I will remember it but since I’m trying to write about it…) but the authors were different. He had a bunch of those.

Since Aaron died I have struggled to find ways to keep him. It probably sounds silly but it’s how I am. I bought an N64 and Ocarina of Time because I used to watch him play it and sometimes he would let me and my sister play too. I remember hating the horse challenge cause I could never do it.

Which brings us to today.

When my birthday came around I was craving the kind of Fantasy books I associate with him. I have never craved Fantasy books in my life but I really wanted an Epic Series to read. I got a bunch of money for Amazon for my birthday and proceeded to spend it all on a ridiculous amount of books. 20+ books came to my house, much to Sam’s chagrin.

I started one of the books I have been putting off tonight. It’s called The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I love Brandon Sanderson. I read his Mistborn trilogy(and Alloy of Law is on my Kindle ready to be picked up) I read The Emperor’s Soul in a night and I love the idea behind Elantrils though I am struggling to get through it.

Way of Kings is number one of ten. It is the only one published so far. Number two is scheduled for March of next year. Which leads me to my headlining post:

Epic Fantasy novelists have the best fans.

I don’t know how you guys do it. Though I guess I’ll learn.

There has been a four year gap between Book One and Book Two in the Stormlight Archive. Brandon Sanderson has seven more books planned for the Mistborn series, he is working on another series of books whose name I cannot currently recall right now…so there will be quite the gap between different books in the series.

Which is standard protocol for a Fantasy series.

When fans start a new Fantasy series, if they decide they love it, they are committing to reading the series for at least a decade if they’re lucky. Longer if they’re not. And they get to wait years between books.

I’ve been waiting a year for the third KingKiller Chronicles book by Patrick Rothfuss to come out and there is no release date in sight. There are people already who have been waiting YEARS and who waited years between Book One and Book Two.

I did the math on the Stormlight Archives. Even if a book in the series came out every year, I would be in my mid-thirties by the time it was finished. If they next eight follow the pattern of the first two I will be in my fifties when this series is finished.

That’s mind blowing to me.

But it’s normal for people who routinely read Epic Fantasy.

I’m sorry for you guys who have been reading Game of Thrones from the very beginning. Those are some long wait times between books. AND if he dies before he finishes the series you don’t get to know how it ends because he doesn’t want anyone picking up after him.

So not only are you committing to decades of reading a series, you are committing to possibly never knowing the ending.

Which is why I have been hesitant to continue in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I read book one and I loved it…but knowing that I can get invested and never know the ending is irksome to me.

Though since I’ve commited to possibly two and a half decades(depending on how the rest of this 1300 page book goes) I guess I might as well.

But my hat goes off to you readers who read mostly or exclusively Epic Fantasy fiction. You are the most loyal people in the world. If you weren’t, authors like George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan wouldn’t continue to make money every five years or so when a new book is released because the rest of us would just give up.

Which brings me to my next point along the Epic Fantasy genre thought line:

I was laying on my bed, staring out at the haze in the darkness as I was reading Way of Kings and I had an interesting thought.

I wonder where I will be when I finish the series.

Even if it only took another ten years for the next nine books(counting the one that’s coming out next year) to be published how different will my life be?

I think it’s too easy to get caught up in where we are now and how our lives are that we don’t stop to think about where we are going.

While I do believe Sam will be there, that is the only thing I know. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. Hopefully I’ll be writing. Hopefully we live in a house and are successful in the things that make us happy. Hopefully we still have our kitties and are surrounded by good friends.

Or maybe something terrible will happen and Sam won’t be there. I’ll still be in retail and barely able to pay my bills.

It’s terrifying to think about but it gives you perspective, I think.

I feel like a failure almost all the time. I don’t consider retail a grown up job. I consider a job you should have out of high school and maybe while you are in college. Technically I am still kind of college age but I’m not in school. I feel like I should have a 9-5, Mon-Fri holidays off kind of job to support myself until I can write professionally.

It’s kind of an unfair burden to put on myself. I don’t look down on other people I know who are my age or older and work where I do. But I look down on myself for not being better.

The problem is that I don’t know what better is. I have an idea of what it might look like but I don’t know how to get there.

I am working on it. I have an internship starting with a newspaper next week and another one I am looking into courtesy of my brother. I am hoping that leads to something but I’m afraid of what I will do in the meantime.

I am quitting my job at Gamestop in three weeks which is terrifying to me. I hate it where I am. It’s dangerous, the clientele are the scum of the Earth (most of them, obviously not all…I have some really amazing regulars) and there is no chance of a raise or moving up positions.

But I am not going ot have an income for a while.

More than not having an income I’m scared of getting desperate to take anything like I have in the past and getting back into retail which would be the same old same old. But I don’t have qualifications to do anything else.

I just have to trust that things will be okay.

Which is not my forte, by the way, for those who have never met me. I trust about four people in the entire world and I am not on the list of the four.

So I don’t know where I will be in ten years. I want to know. I’m curious just to see if it all works out. But we don’t get to know our ending.

 

*I specify Epic Fantasy because there is Fantasy and then there is Epic Fantasy. Brent Weeks writes Fantasy. Terry Goodkind writes Epic Fantasy. Both are fantastic but they are very different genres. Just for those who were curious.

So You Have Writers Block

Written August 20, 2013

 

I don’t do a lot of writing advice on my blog. I don’t tend to think that it is my place to dole out advice. I get irritated when people who are, essentially, nothing but people who like to write tell other people how they should write-especially when they take the attitude of “you do it this way or you are a terrible writer”

But this isn’t advice-per say. This is just me telling you what works for me.

Writers block is a terrible thing. It is particularly painful when you want to write. You feel that itch in your fingers to sit down at a keyboard or pick up a pen and paper and then you get there and…

the blank page taunts you.

There is something that you have to say but you can’t figure out what it is or how to phrase it.

Gah!

Here is what I do. Most of this I have discovered accidentally on my own, but some of it came from reading my favorite authors.

1) Make Playlists

Spotify is great for this. If you have a PC especially. If you don’t then the $10.00 a month is worth it to listen to make and listen to your playlists wherever you go, though the interface isn’t quite as nice for browsing.
The playlists themselves should consist of music you love but that you can tune out. I have two different playlists for writing because sometimes I need heavier music and sometimes I need mellow music. The heavier playlist consists of Evanescence-whose catalog I own completely and can sing to without actually paying attention to what I am singing-and bands like Stone Sour, Disturbed, Tool and A Perfect Circle. The Mellow Playlist is mostly piano and acoustic stuff that is easy on the ears even when I turn it up loud to tune out my own thoughts. The Mellow Playlist consists of bands like Go Radio, J. Wride, Kurt Scobie and Avian Sunrise.
Another good reason to have Spotify is to discover music that helps you write and artists you never would have found otherwise. I had never heard of three of the four above bands in the Mellow playlist but I like a couple songs but Kurt Scobie so I started a radio based on his music and added music that I really liked to my playlist. I accidentally found out that it helped me write when I wrote ten pages three days in a row with the playlist on and couldn’t quite concentrate when it wasn’t playing or if I switched music.
It might take some time to discover what helps you write but when you find something that clicks, go with it.
Video game music is a great place to start because it is actually designed to be stimulating without taking away your concentration.
Podcasts or television shows you can listen to without listening to are great things to put on when you want to hear people speak rather than sing. I listen to Hollywood Babble-on with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garmin or I watch something like King of the Hill or Eureka.

2) Keep a Journal

This is a long term commitment and, admittedly, not something I have always been great at. I hate taking the time out of my day to write about myself most days. I’m boring and I tend to dwell on embarrassing moments that happen in my life-even though most of them only happen in my head. But I have also found that it is sometimes easier to write when I am consistently keeping a journal.
I think the reason for this is because sometimes things in our lives that are unresolved can cause blockages-for me at least. Most of the ways that I resolve things that are bothering me is to write them down. Make them concrete and then deal with them on the page. I don’t have great social skills and most of what comes out of my mouth when I speak is sarcasm. I don’t like that part of me but it’s been a defense mechanism I have been unable to overcome. But I can write it out and usually come up with ideas even as I am writing down the problem.
Relieve the problems-imagined, real or otherwise-in writing every day and you will have less of an issue. Or, at least, I do. When your brain is clear the muses can talk to you so to speak. 
You can even write about the fact that you can’t think of anything to write about. I do that all the time.

3) Talk To Yourself

This one might sound crazy if you aren’t already doing it but…trust me. Just for a second, go with it.
Play out conversations in your head. Not your own conversations that you have had-which I also do-but conversations between characters. Do this when you are not otherwise occupied. The shower or a walk around a marina or through a park is a great place for story starting conversations.
The best part is that you literally don’t have to know anything about the characters. That part comes later. Just think of a sentence. 
“The weather is nice today.”
“I prefer the rain.”
etc…

Or you can start something with drama which I actually think is probably easier to play off of. Sometimes the conversations won’t lead to anything. Sometimes lightning will strike and you will be hit with inspiration. I don’t even always use the conversation I had in my head. But the conversation will reveal something about the character to me that will spark something else. The beginning of a story or the motivation of a character.
One time I was walking to work. I had been stuck on one of my novels for months because I knew what the villain wanted and what he was going to do to get it…but I couldn’t figure out why he wanted it. I knew he had motivation and I knew what he was doing was personal for him. But I didn’t know what that motivation was.
On my way to work I was playing out a conversation in my head with him and his second in command(for all intents and purposes) then she asked him a question and the answer came to me. I knew why he was going to burn the world to the ground and I knew how he was going to do it. I had to stop on my way to work to make a note in my phone so I could recall it later.
The hardest part of this particular tip is letting it flow. I’m a character writer. As such there are always characters in my head saying something so this might be easier for me than for you. Or this might not work at all.
These are all personal tips, you know. And none of them work a hundred percent of the time.
You have to let the conversation flow. Like free writing but in your head. Don’t force it. Isn’t that what has led to your writers block in the first place?

I’m going to make these next three short because I’m tired, it’s late and you have probably heard them before. But they bare repeating:

4) Free Write
It might sound silly and, if you’re like me and are compulsively driven to self-edit, free writing is hard. You want everything that comes out of your pen or keyboard to be perfect and sometimes that’s just not possible. You don’t know what gold is locked away in the brain of yours. Set it free by not thinking too hard about it. Just be. Like meditating with a pen. This is kind of combining writing a journal with talking to yourself. You have to set your brain free from concentrating. Sometimes you will be free writing, not thinking, just doing and sometimes something wonderful will come out. Something you can’t even believe you came up with will flow from your fingers.

5) Write something else
I often get stuck when writing long novels that I have been working too hard on. Either because I get bored or because when you work too hard on something you lose perspective of it and suddenly everything that you write is terrible and you start to hate yourself as a writer. Don’t worry. That’s normal.
When you get that urge to write and it’s just not flowing and you know that free writing won’t work because you are itching to be creative change what you are writing.
Googleing “Writing Prompts” can sometimes work wonders. Pay attention to the links though. A lot of them are for elementary school kids and won’t necessarily do you a lot of good(Though they might…it never hurts to look) When Googling prompts doesn’t work, Google images of stuff that can get the creative juices flowing. If you want to write fantasy google things like “Vampire” or “Dragons” or even “Fantasy”(though for that one I recommend having the safe search on) Google Images for stuff you want to write about. Some of the art is amazing and you might find a scene that you want to write the story behind.

6) Don’t Get Discouraged
This is the hardest of all of the tips I have for you tonight. Some days you can go through all of the above and still not feel anything creative. Or you can write fifteen pages in your book and not a single page is worth keeping except for maybe some of the base ideas on them. You can want more than anything else in the world to create but everything that you touch turns to crap.
Set your pen down and walk away. That’s not easy. That’s sometimes the hardest thing in the world. Especially when you feel like a junkie who needs a fix; but your writing won’t be at all improved by self deprecation. It just won’t. Every artist in the world hits a phase of their writing when they feel like they are the worst artist in the world. Don’t believe me? Go watch Back and Forth the Foo Fighters documentary and go through some of Neil Gaiman’s old blogs. Some days are going to be terrible creatively. But if you love it and it makes you happy it doesn’t really matter if you do suck at it. You could be the worst writer in the entire world but if writing brings you peace that doesn’t matter. But find solace in the fact that while there will always be a better writer than you, there are definitely people in the world who are worse than you and a lot of them get published.

Hope this helps someone out there. If it does, let me know. If you have other tips let me know as well. I always like to try new stuff when I get blocked. Doing new stuff can help too ;D

Love you all

-M-

Is Doctor Who a Religion?

Written May 29, 2013

 

 

My cousin posted this link on my Facebook page.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=3Csjr8bXvPw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D3Csjr8bXvPw

I wrote out a very long, thought out response on my phone. A response Facebook bots didn’t like since it went up and then immediately back down again. I couldn’t even comment that I had written a reply because the comments would immediately go up and then come back down again, though I could post comments other places.

So I am replying here.

The general gist of my post was…I don’t know. It might be or it might not be.

Here’s why:

There are inherent flaws in his argument for Doctor Who as a religion…but religion itself is not something you can apply logic to or it all falls apart.

For a start, Whovians are not killing people who don’t think the way they do (yet…muahahaha)

But seriously:

Dr. Who is not an omnipotent, immortal being. Though he regenerates, he can be killed and the regeneration stopped. They’ve covered that in past episodes. But more specifically, he is not all seeing and all knowing. Most of the adventures that he has he stumbles on to accidentally because he and/or his companion decided to go somewhere in space and time and generally find that someone has screwed things up from the natural order.

On the other hand, he does have a very specific knowledge of fixed points in time that cannot be changed or risk changing the course of an entire planet. The volcano that destroyed Pompeii, for example. Sometimes bad things have to happen because it shapes the world to come. Something the Doctor accepts, to the chagrin of his companions.

To my knowledge, Dr. Who doesn’t have a fixed set of beliefs either…there is no guide for how to live. The general ideology seems to simply be “Be good to each other. This life and this planet and these people are all you have, so protect them”

Which, when you think about it, is what religion boils down to before you add in the humanity “interpretation” of that guide. The interpretation that seems to say “Love everyone and treat everyone well unless their thoughts and lifestyle are foreign or contradict yours…then be cruel and hateful and don’t worry you can use this book written 3000 years ago by, as Ricky Gervais says, sexist, sexually repressed men, to justify your hatred. No one can say anything as long as you quote this book at them unless they want to go to Hell.”

Sorry…tangent…

So I guess to their core you could call the two similar.

Though there is no Heaven or Hell ideology in the Doctor Who Universe. But I guess that isn’t what makes a religion necessarily.

I don’t agree with his point that Doctor Who has the group of symbols that create a sense of general order.

Yes, we have the symbols. The Tardis, the Screwdriver etc…but, at least for me, they don’t create a sense of general order.

Although, I think what draws people to Doctor Who is similar to what draws people who were not born into a religion into religion.

Wishful thinking.

The Tardis is by and away the most popular piece of the Doctor Who fandom. You can find shirts, phone cases, pictures, bookcases (of which I am going to build one) etc…in the shape of the Tardis. What in the world is more romantic than the idea that at any second a man with a blue box that is larger on the inside can come and sweep you away across the universe and you can forget all of your problems here…your real life doesn’t matter anymore.

It’s the “I’m really a princess and someday my real parents are going to take me away from here” thinking we have as children in adult form.

In religion that thinking is “If I live my life a certain way and think certain thoughts and perform certain rituals (i.e. prayer) then someday a glowing man with wings is going to come and take me away from here and I go to Heaven and nothing that bothers me here is going to matter. And anyone who is mean to me is going to Hell to be punished while I live in eternal bliss.”

See the similarities?

So I am on the fence, though the more I think about it the more I come to his side of thinking. I still see the holes in his argument, but you can make a case that those same holes exist in any or every religion.

The biggest thing as far as western philosophies go is that the Doctor never asks to be worshipped. He tries to avoid having a footprint in human history, but a footprint is inevitable when humans can see you and you save their planet, no matter how incognito you wish to be.

But not every religion has a savior to worship. Some religions have no God at all. Which is a strange concept to wrap your brain around when you live in the states, but there it is none-the-less.

Like I said, I’m on the fence.

If nothing else, I think more Christians should strive to be like the Whovians.

Whovians will never have a”Pray the Dalek away” camp, unlike the Christian “Pray the Gay Away” camps/seminars etc… Whovians, for the most part, love anyone. Genuinely. Whether or not you are part of the Fandom they are the most accepting group of people I have ever had the pleasure to meet or call myself apart of (though I myself struggle with the loving and accepting everyone thing…but I’m working on it)…even if you hate Doctor Who or just couldn’t care less about the Doctor and his companions, as long as you are kind they will be kind to you. They may talk your ear off about what they love, but that is anyone with anything they are passionate about. They will love and accept you, even if you are a Dalek as long as you aren’t trying to destroy the planet.

That’s what humans are here for. (hehehe)

You can draw the line and say “Well being Gay is real, being a Dalek is not” but that’s not the point and I think you know that. The point is there is nothing wrong with being Gay and there is nothing wrong with being a Dalek provided neither group wants to rule the universe. And even then it’s not a group thing necessarily.

The best people I think you will ever meet will be the Whovian Christian. Possibly.

Maybe not.

I do have to think about it some more. Talk it over with people who are wiser than I am. I think my bias against organized religion as something that generally hurts people rather than helps them is clouding my overall opinion. I don’t like the idea of religion being compared to Doctor Who because I see Doctor Who as a good thing. Which isn’t necessarily fair.

As a point in favor of Doctor Who as a religion however, I am having a Doctor Who wedding ceremony as opposed to a Christian ceremony…

So there’s that.

Be good to each other. This life and this planet and these people are all you have. Protect them.

-M-

Books, The History of the World, and Being Part of a Fandom

Written May 20, 2013

 

I write about reading a lot. (I also start many posts with “so…” I’m working on that) That is because it is something I am passionate about it. I have never been able to imagine a world where I live where I don’t read or write.

But I know so many people who hate to read. And I truly, to the core of my being don’t understand it.

Here is why:

As long as humans have been humans and have had opposable thumbs, we have told stories. We started by painting pictures on walls. We evolved beyond that and began to be more creative. Some stories were true, some not, most embellished. Eventually the best of those stories and histories were written down.

For thousands and thousands of years humans have told stories and passed them down from person to person. With the internet you have access to all of those and more without even having to put on pants.

And you are going to tell me that you can look at the millions and millions of books written throughout the centuries, or even the thousands of books published this decade…you are going to look at all of that and say “Meh”? Really? I mean…really?

Nothing in all of human history interests you?

How is that possible?

I don’t understand. I don’t.

My boyfriend has a friend who is married to a girl who cannot for the life of her handle being disagreed with. She just doensn’t run into it. She works by herself and her husband just doesn’t care about anything enough to argue with her. So she is used to living unchallenged.

And then she enters a room where Sam and I are. And then things get ugly. She challenged me on religion vs. Science once saying Science couldn’t explain something so it had to be God. It was something Science had explained. Recently even. She just hadn’t bothered to do any research.

She blindly believes whatever she is told she believes. Which is confusing to me. I never once accepted something as fact because I was told it was fact.

She is the one I hear the most say that reading is dumb. She cringes when I ask her if she has read the book the movie she just watched was based on.

I no longer ask her those questions.

My entire life I have been on a search for knowledge. I literally get cravings where I need to learn something new. I read opinions contrary to what I think I believe so that I know why I believe something and that I know that I really do believe something and am not just regurgitating.

So I cannot, to the depths of my soul, understand someone who is okay just…being where they are. You can accept where you are and be happy where you are but shouldn’t you always be on a quest to be better?

All of human history…the entirety of the world and things we have learned about the Universe and you are telling me that none of that is of interest?

Really?

/rant

On a lighter note:

I’ve been thinking about the joy of being in a Fandom in the age of the Internet. Of course I don’t think Fandom really existed in the world before the Internet.

But it allows you to feel less alone.

I have watched Sherlock…many times. Way too many times by many people’s standards possibly. Most likely, in fact.

I also am obsessed with Dr. Who. Sam shows me anything he finds with a Tardis in it because he knows I will love it. I am building a Tardis bookcase, my phone is a Tardis and I have a Tardis plushy that lights up and makes sounds that hangs off of my purse.

I am having a Dr. Who Wedding(despite Sam not really being a fan) and then when we renew our vows we are having a Batman themed wedding(Inside joke with my family that they won’t let die so I’ve decided to run with it…and I love Batman)

Yeah. I’m that girl.

I am making a modge podge canvas picture of Moriarty from Sherlock with yellow spray paint and “Moriarty was real” painted across it. I have seen various versions of the picture going around the internet and I thought it would be awesome to have a canvas painting of it in my office with all my other Dr. Who and Sherlock/Geeky pictures/posters etc…

But I felt like a major, pathetic nerd. Until I found the Sherlock and Wholock Subreddits on reddit and then searched Sherlock on Tumblr trying to find things to follow that relate to Sherlock.

Then I found the Superwholock Fandom.

I love Supernatural and have watched it for years with Sam, though I never connected the 3 in my mind.

I did these searches while Sam was out of town and I was bored and an amazing thing happened…

I was suddenly not alone. I was suddenly not the only person who loved these shows and these characters and these storylines and am not the only person dying over the season Finale to Sherlock. (I haven’t gotten to see the Season Finale to Dr. Who or Supernatural yet…but soon…)

And I am not the only one who was driven to go see Star Trek this weekend not only because they are a Trekkie, but because Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain. (An amazing villain who easily stole the movie from everyone else if you ask me)

I don’t usually interact with people on the Internet because I am shy and people usually don’t like me. But it was nice to discover that, while no one in my life has even heard of Sherlock (until I forced Sam to watch it…but he hasn’t seen Dr. Who 😡 ) and no one I know watches Dr. Who…dismissing it as “that British Show” I was not alone in my love and my obsession.

And I am not the only one who has had their heart broken by fictional characters.

(Moffat and Glatiss I’m looking at you)

I was in a world where I wasn’t a nerd. Somewhere I belonged without ever having to say anything…because other people were saying it for me! I wasn’t a geek…just a fan.

Being a part of a fandom is great. You get to love something with a lot of people all over the world. You get to agonize and laugh and cry and lean on each other. And you get to not be alone…

And isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway? Someone to be a little less lonely with?

Bioshock Infinite: A Triumph For Story Telling

Written April 22, 2013

 

I don’t usually write reviews. Mostly because I’m not very good at them. Though, I suppose I could get better at writing them if I wrote them more often…in the meantime however, I don’t usually write reviews.

This isn’t a review so much as an encouragement to go buy and play this videogame so that developers know they should put more amazing things such as this out and stop with the Call of Duty/Halo clones.

I work in a game store, in case you don’t already know and I talk to a lot of people about a lot of different things in games that they like and dislike.

Storytelling almost never comes up.

Call of Duty and Halo are two of the most popular video games ever franchised and, though they make an attempt at a storymode, it’s half-hearted at best. Because no one plays Call of Duty for the story. They play it to shoot people online.

Games with good stories, like Heavy Rain, often get overlooked because you aren’t killing people.

Enter Bioshock:Infinite.

Where the original Bioshock’s were First Person Shooters and always felt like First Person Shooters with a little story woven in here and there (and no cut scenes…craziness!) it was not a standout game for me. Kind of an underground game that came and passed and no one thought about again.

Bioshock: Infinite is a prequel to Bioshock, with small things tying the two games together for those who played Bioshock, but not so strongly linked that if you haven’t played Bioshock then Infinite will confuse you.

You play as a character named Booker Dewitt. A man with a very simple mission. “Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt” Booker has done some things he is not proud of. He was at Wounded Knee and killed people whose blood he is afraid won’t ever come off. And now he’s gotten himself into trouble with some very powerful people.

But he is offered a Hail Mary, as it were.

Some mysterious people have told him simply if they bring them the girl called Elizabeth from the city Columbia which floats in the sky above them then they will pay his debt and he will free.

If only life were actually that simple.

Columbia, it turns out, is a fiercly religious city. Founded by the prophet Comstock to keep them separate from the “Sodom below” They scededed from the United States when the US began to free slaves.

Elizabeth is being kept by the prophet Comstock in a statue that serves as it’s own Island and is protetcted by the dangerous and mysterious Songbird.

Getting in isn’t the problem, though. It’s getting her back to the people who are paying you that serves as the issue.

And so begins your story.

Elizabeth isn’t your normal girl you find out almost immediately, able to do things that are unexplainable.

Bioshock: Infinite is a good first person shooter. The game play is smooth and you never feel encumbered which is the problem I usually find with FPS’s. Dishonored, for example, was a good game with an interesting enough story but I always got frustrated when someone would attack me from behind because I would be dead before I could turn and see who was attacking me.

No such issues with Bioshock: Infinite.

The story itself is absolutely fantastic. The easiest way to tell is to simply talk to someone playing it who hasn’t finished yet.

Most of the people I talk to, as I said before, don’t care about story. Tell them the ending. Who cares.

But someone who is playing Infinite is vehement that you not ruin the ending for them. They love the gameplay but they are invested in the story as well. They love the characters and they love the puzzle. Every corner brings new pieces that never quite fit together until the end.

Even people like Sam who hate the gameplay(he hated the FPS aspect) loved the story so much he hasn’t stopped talking about it for days since he finished is own gameplay, which he started because he saw the ending of my playing and said “Goddamnit now I have to play it cause it’s a compelling story” (actual quote)

They did such a good job that I beat it before I bought it and then bought it anyway so I could replay it and I bought the season pass to get all the extra characters and storylines they are going to release.

In short, unless all you are looking for in a game is a shoot ‘em up, this is the game for you. Story, visuals, and gameplay that are smooth, well done, and will take your breath away from the moment you step into Columbia and hear the choir singing “Let this circle be unbroken” to the ending…which I won’t ruin. Because it’s amazing.

It’s not a book, but if it gets someone out there interested in more than just shooting things and games start to be held to a story standard as well as a visuals standard, I’ll take it.

And as a treat:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwrel&v=zZGOsSc5t_c

skip to 1:05 for the beginning of the song. Actual actor who plays Booker and the actress who plays Elizabeth. Love this song and most every version of it done throughout the game.

Being Uncool Is Now Cool?

Written Jan 2013-

 

When did being a geek or a nerd suddenly change from an insult to a fad?

When I was growing up I was a geek because I sat on the wall and read at recess. And when I was called geek it was not a playful nickname.

I was a geek because I got straight A’s and liked my teachers and would always rather write than play with my classmates.

I was called a geek in less of an insulting way but still insulting just a few years ago when people found out that I could build computers and am actually pretty good at it.

I was called a geek at work just a few months ago because I went on a rant about the last Batman movie (why elude to the always awesome Lazarus Pit and then, instead if doing the Lazarus Pit make up a little prison that never existed in the comics…and so on)

Now they are developing a television show called the ‘Biggest Nerd in the Land’ and people who have read a sentence of ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ or are going to play video games exclaim proudly “Oh my God! I’m such a nerd” or “I’m totally nerding out right now” and its funny to them or they think they’re being cute.

When did this change? Nerd was always synonymous with uncool. It’s still uncool but now it’s cool to be uncool?

Now everyone is proud that they are being called a formerly derogatory name?

So what takes its place? What do you call a kid who gets good grades and likes to read and knows comic books? (Original X-Men series for the win when I was growing up!)(also, apparently guys can know comic books in school but if a girl knows them she’s a geek)

It’s slightly upsetting. While I’m glad that my people are getting recognition for not being boring because they like stuff, now the people who made fun of us and know nothing about geek culture are like “yeah I totally marathoned Game of Thrones last night. I’m such a nerd” And the sexist pigs who come into my store thinking that I can’t possibly know anything talk about being nerds until they ask me a question or say something stupid and I out geek them in every way they can possibly imagine. A guy once asked if he wanted to play the Silent Hill games that went along with the movie what should he play. I told him none of them really follow the movie(this was before the second one was released which started to try to follow the 3rd game and then got tired) I recapped a brief summary of all the plots and who they follow and why you should play them. I do not consider that being a nerd but apparently it is. Only cause I’m a girl though.

It’s all very confusing. How long will this last (longer than that television show I guarantee you) and what will be the next fad to take its place? What will suddenly be uncool that was cool before or what will be cool that used to be an insult?

For My Brother

Written January 30, 2013:

 

 

For over a year I have been blocked when it came to writing, barely being able to put out a page or two when I found those random moments of inspiration and usually the pages weren’t very good.

 

Unfortunately(or fortunately, I suppose, depending on your point of view) I have known why I was blocked.

 

I have neglected to write the thing that has been on my mind near constantly since February of last year and, as a writer who feels things through writing stronger than anywhere or anything else, that means I can’t write anything until I get it over with.

 

I didn’t tell people or talk about it or put it on Facebook(which seems to be the thing now) because I couldn’t. I still can’t without losing it a little bit.

 

I deal with things in writing. Sometimes, painful things need to be written but I don’t want to feel them yet.

 

My brother, Aaron, died almost a year ago. He killed himself by jumping off the top of a building. It was unexpected to the point that just days before he had been talking about the future and had been hopeful for where he was going.

 

He was my other half in the family. I have four siblings. Stephanie, Aaron, Brandon me and then my little sister Sarah. Stephanie always belonged to all of us. Aaron was mine-we shared the same taste in books and music and a lot of the things in this world I love I discovered because of him-and Brandon was Sarah’s. They are two peas in a pod most of the time.

 

So I lost my connection with someone who understood when I would say things most people would think is crazy.

 

I still hear music or read books and want to tell him about it because he would have loved them. He would have loved the Discworld series.

 

So that is what I have neglected to write about for a year. I’ve started it many times. Many many times but I have never been able to get past the sentence “My brother is dead.” Because when I write it, I know that it is true. You can’t take back something that you put in writing. It can’t be undone.

 

Anyway…

 

A few nights ago, tossing and turning in bed a sentence came to my mind. And then a paragraph. I didn’t know where it was going or what it was about but I knew I didn’t want to lose it.

 

Sometimes things come to you that you know are important and if you let them slip through your fingers you will never get them back. So I got up at about one in the morning and wrote what you are about to read.

 

                                       The Man on the Bench

 

Today I met a man sitting on a bench. You would be amazed at what you can learn from people sitting on benches.

 

He was feeding the pigeons and had done so, he quickly informed me, every week for 23 years.

 

Looking closer I saw the man had been crying. Not the kind of crying you do when you lose a friend or your wife, who you admittedly hadn’t been very close to in a while, leaves you for the milkman.

 

He had been crying the tears you cry when your soul has been so deeply wounded you wonder if it will ever recover.

 

It usually doesn’t. But you move on with a piece of you missing because in this life there is nothing else you can do.

 

I asked the man, whose heart was so clearly broken if there was anything I could do or if he would like to tell me his story.

 

The man on the bench paused ever so slightly, temporarily forgetting the piece of him that was bleeding all over the place.

 

Then he looked at me, eyes boring into my soul, begging me to feel what he felt.

 

Sometimes pain is easier to bear if it is shared with someone. Even if that someone is a stranger who happened to be walking by when he saw you sitting alone and feeding the pigeons on a bench in a park.

 

He began his tale, speaking through cracked lips and hoarse voice, by saying simply this: ” There are things you may think you will never lose. But you are wrong. The Gods do not hesitate to rip your heart from your chest and leave you dying, gasping on the floor with nary an explanation for your suffering. Sometimes the Gods make you suffer just because they can.” Above the pain in his eyes I saw bitterness.

 

I did not know of what he spoke just then but from the core of my soul, I ached for his suffering.

 

He told me then that he had lost a child, one year ago today. A son who had killed himself.

 

There had been no note. No signs. Or perhaps, he wondered, he had just been to blind to see what was in front of him.

 

He had happily been talking about the future days before.

 

Until the coroner had called to tell him they had his sons body, there had been no reason to fret.

 

My mouth fell open and a lump grew in my throat, choking any words I might wish to say before they could even touch my tongue.

 

The man did not make any more eye contact. He just kept throwing bread to the birds, who had no care of such human affairs, and let his soul lay bare upon the sidewalk where it might be seen or stepped on by anyone.

 

“I’m sorry” I managed. Trivial useless words for the least trivial of all situations.

 

What good was being sorry going to do? It would not tourniquet the flowing wound in his soul, it would not bring his son back. It served no purpose except to fill a silence I could not bear any longer for fear his sorrow would become mine. That his misfortune would rub off on me and that I was not strong enough.

 

Then it occurred to me that perhaps the best thing I, who had never lost something so precious, could do for this poor man was to feel his sorrow with him. So that even I could not understand his loss and at the end of the day his son would still be a wooden box of ashes tucked away where it wouldn’t always be seen, he would have had a moment where he was less alone then he had been in a year.

 

So I sat back on the bench with the man, forgetting where I was going and why and let his pain run off into me.

 

And together, though silently and separately, we wept.

 

We wept for his son. For tomorrows that would never come, holidays he would never see and music he would never hear. We wept for love he would never again feel and for words that had gone too long unsaid and words that could never be taken back. We wept for a life that had needlessly been cut short. We wept because there was nothing else we could do.

 

And all the while we fed the birds.

 

Today, I met a man on a bench. You would be amazed at what you can learn from people sitting on benches.

 

                            END

 

I wrote this blog because I know I am not the only one who has lost something they treasured and not known how to deal with it. I wrote this because I never wrote him a memorial. I never said goodbye.

 

This was my goodbye.

 

I have been able to write since. Amazingly, after writing that little story and letting him go, at least a bit, I have found inspiration again in things. Stories or plots or characters have come to my mind again and I can write.

 

I still miss my brother more than you will possibly ever understand. He was my soul mate in my family, even if we didn’t talk as much as I now wish we had and I put off sharing with him things I wish I hadn’t.

 

To comfort myself I will just tell myself the above was a gift from my brother. He gave me an idea but didn’t tell me where it was going so I would be forced to write it. Forced to accept it.  Giving me a medium to let him go so that I can keep going with what he always wanted me to be even when I didn’t think I could. A writer.

 

And I’m sharing my pain with you as an experiment. I am not good at sharing emotion or…anything. I much prefer to stay in my own little bubble and a great part of me would rather I have kept that story locked in my bedside drawer where no one again would ever see it.

 

But Neil Gaiman’s words come into my head when I think about that. “The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

 

So this is for you big brother.

 

And this is for me.

 

And this is for all the people who have lost something and haven’t yet been able to find the words to express what it is they have lost. When someone dies, you lose so much more than the person.

 

You lose who they were. You lose who you were with them. And you lose who they could have been.

 

And there are no words in the English language for that depth of a loss. For the loss of a piece of yourself you didn’t even know you had.

 

I love you.

 

-m-

 

Writing Darkness

Written Sept 2011-

Do you want to know a secret?

Something they never tell you about being a writer?

Sometimes it takes you to places you don’t want to go.

But that,I have come to believe, is the difference between people that write and writers.

Let me put it this way: people that write choose their characters and what to say. Writers don’t choose who their characters are and what they go through. They just tell you the story that is being told to them.

 I know. I sound schizophrenic. Character writers, which is what I consider myself, often do. I can differentiate between the voices in my head trying to tell me a story in the shower(seriously…they always get so much louder when I have nothing else to focus on) and reality. That doesn’t change the fact that, though I may choose the phrasing, I don’t choose the story.

I had to write a very difficult scene today. I didn’t want to, but it was important. It was a father describing to a king how a man stabbed his wife to death and then raped his daughter.

I’m very good at scenes like this. Tragic scenes for a character are my forte’. I’m good at connecting the story and the reader in a giant web of sadness. I always have been. The story I wrote for Sam (based on an idea of his that he was looking to solidify and then make into a series of music videos-the first of which is done) is all tragedy and it took me a week of doing almost nothing else to complete. A story I wrote in High School was a similar concept(neither of which has to do with rape, just losing a loved one in an unfortunate way) that made my teacher cry. Plus fanfiction that I used to write was riddled with the stuff.

Just to be clear: I have not suffered any massive tragedies in my life. I had a very abusive boyfriend once, but what he did and what I write about are not synonymous. I just happen to be good at writing dark things.

Here is the problem with being a character writer and being good at writing dark scenes: you feel it very deeply. Fortunately, I was not telling the story from the point of view of the father. Had I been, I would have had to stop before it was finished and take a break. (when I was writing House of Shadows for Sam the reason it took me a week to write was not because it was very long-though it was about fifteen-twenty pages-but because it was from the POV of a man dealing with tragedy and I kept spiraling into the darkness that my character was in…I cried a lot during the writing of that story even though in my personal life I had nothing to be upset about) But it was still dark and sad and, though it contained a learning experience for my character, I didn’t like doing it.

This is where people say “if you didn’t want to write it then why didn’t you write something else” Here is why: Because had I tried, the story wouldn’t have fit together properly. I have tried in the past to change a characters story to something that suited me better, but it never works out. I always have to go back and write what was supposed to be there in the first place. Like I said-I don’t choose the story. I just write it down.