Time can change anything.

10-15 years ago, if you’d asked me where I’d be on my 29th birthday, I probably would have replied in one of two ways. I would either look cast down and my eyes would water. I would have changed the subject. The other option was to respond in a false joking tone and say, “Oh, I won’t be around. I’m going to be dead before I’m that age. Promise.”

It would be easy to assume that it was just that I didn’t want to get anywhere near 30 years old, to grow older. That wasn’t the case. There was nothing more inviting than an age where I could seek my own stability. In reality, I actually did believe I’d be dead before I ever reached 29. I remember writing in my journals that I felt like no matter what happened, I’d still die before that. It was this conscious decision I had made in order to push forward long enough to, I guess, “pay my dues”.

Frida Kahlo once said “I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim.” and in many ways, I did the same. I was reckless with myself and would risk a lot because I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think time mattered because I had decided that mine would be limited here anyway.

As life goes on, though, many things change our paths and lead us to where we’re really meant to be. Some people do make terrible decisions, some do finish themselves off before they’ve even had the chance to love, laugh, and live, and some just die tragically young. Then there are others, like me, who no matter what we tried to accomplish a task we had set so determinedly, somehow get bumped through the murky waters of life, only to end up on the other side with a lot of doubts, guilt, worries, but a new gratitude for what they’ve got.

I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days, where I start to fade off into that dark hole again. Instead I am saying that when I head into the dark hole, I try to remember to bring a flashlight. There are some experiences that can work like that. They become a beacon of hope for people who are exhausted from the fight that they put up just to try and stay alive long enough for the next experience, taking it one day at a time.

It’s my 29th birthday. I’m not dead and I’m not expecting to be or looking towards it. Instead, I’m looking right in front of me and seeing what’s really there.

  A chance to make life fun, interesting, and sure, even a little complicated, but worth it. Life is worth it. 

 Mazel tov!

happy-birthday-from-kitty

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The Imposition of Language in MMO’S.

 

 

We’ve all been there. Hanging out, doing a raid or dungeon, and being forced to listen to that one guy who can’t stop saying “I raped that shit.” or some equivalent. I’ve been the girl who gets peeved by that terminology. I’ve been the girl watching another girl ragequit because that guy won’t stop using it. I’ve also been the girl who raises an eyebrow a little when another girl feeds into that mentality for the sake of internet popularity points. Even with all of these situations, I don’t think I ever stopped to seriously think about them or my position within them.  Until recently, that is.

A few days ago, I was listening to a rather serious discussion on how communication has become very stunted due to political correctness. I was nodding my head and agreeing with a lot of valid points about desensitized people and overly sensitive people, with very little middle ground being brought forth by either party. After a while, my mind began to wander back, kind of like an instant replay of my own behaviour and behaviours I’ve witnessed in other people while playing games, and how they could have been more pleasant experiences were it not for the types of comments being made and the reactions that followed them.

Do I think the term rape should ever be used loosely for the sake of describing an enjoyable asskicking of an opponent? No, not really. To be fair, a genuine rape victim was never and never will be an opponent. We’re not people to be conquered. So do I think another term would be suitable in a video game? Yes. I do. But do I have the right to dictate how another person expresses themselves? No. I hate to say that because it sounds like I’m conceding to the many blank faces on the internet that it’s okay to make light of the topic. That’s not the case at all though. I’m conceding that I can’t impede on their personal expressive freedom, such as I would hope that they would not impede upon mine. Let’s face it. If I tell them not to use that term, then aren’t they within their equal right to tell me to not openly discuss abuse and how to prevent it? Bingo.

If we want equality, we have to treat people as equals. Even if they express themselves in ways we wouldn’t like them to. That’s the nitty gritty. It’s reality. It’s idealistic, but it’s the reality of what equality suggests.

I did stop playing World of Warcraft because of that mentality, amongst many other reasons. It became less entertaining to play when guys were either hitting on the girls in the group (and to be fair, when the girls who wanted free crap baited them on) and when I kept hearing “I’m going to fucking rape you.” while dueling. Or worse yet, in general chat, when someone would get ragingly angry at another player for “ninjaing” their stuff. Sure, it’s usually a bunch of 12 year olds who don’t really realize the implications of what they’re saying, and a lot of the time by really idiotic individuals who can’t figure out how to express their frustration without relying on probably one of the most played out sayings on the internet. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s within their prerogative to use that language.

Does it mean I’ll be going back, creating my Pandaren character, and skipping my way down to whatever allegiance I choose? No, hahaha, no. I mean I loved the experiences gained on WoW. I even met my husband through there. But the recent changes make it a little unappealing to me. Plus, I played for a long time. I’ve done all the quests of the old expansions over and over again. Basically, I’ve moved on to different things. Still, I game. Just elsewhere.

It might be beneficial to take a step back and look at the restrictions we put on eachother, as well as the very uncomfortable boundary crossing we do, on the internet. As a matter of courtesy to one another. Ladies who get hyper offended by that term, if a guy says it once out of the blue moon in a casual way, don’t get ragingly peeved and make him feel like a horrible human being. Guys who overuse the term, consider toning it down a little. If anything, for the simple sake of maintaining the harmony in your groups and guilds.

 

 On a much lighter note, I ask you this. Should stealing stuff in a raid or dungeon really be called being a ninja? That’d be better suited for asskicking in stealth, amiright? Wouldn’t “being a pirate?” be more suited for when people steal things? Just a thought. 😀

                                                                                                                                                                                  pirate

Down the rabbit hole we go!

There are some amazing games out there right now and some really interesting ones that will be popping out of their creative nests soon. I’m particularly eager to try a new one called Contrast since it features so many things I love.

First off, the animation is a key factor in my decision to play any game. I pick games based on their ability to transport me to another place and time. If something is pitched as steampunk, for example, but just looks like a cheesy replica of WoW but without any of the same perks, I tend to walk away pretty quickly. This game has none of that ripped-off quality that some game designers trying to make it big try to “subtley” put into their games as an effort to appeal to a specific group. Instead, it rears it’s very unique head and says “What’s up? I’m gorgeous. Come play with me.” and for once, I’ll be taking someone up on their offer to do just that.

Secondly the gaming style is important. I actually haven’t watched any gameplay and have chosen to wait to play it myself. Sometimes when I watch other people play a game, even a demo, I lose enthusiasm for it. Probably because everyone has a different playing style and makes different choices while playing a game. So since this game is so appealing to me, I’m not going to have someone elses gaming style turn me off of playing it.

Finally, music does factor in. If the game is set in a certain period, and the music chosen doesn’t suit that period (it doesn’t have to be OF that period. I mean look at The Great Gatsby film. Awesome music designed to travel through time and still suit the films needs.), then the game becomes a bit tedious for me. It’s probably due to my OCD but I do like things to suit eachother.

This game seems to hit most of my criteria right on the head, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see before I can say I love it. I can say, though, that I really really wanna try it!

Music is my coffee. I’m addicted to the beat.

To start off this post, I have to share something with you all.

It’s a really awesome fact that I will listen to almost anything as long as it’s not misogynistic or hate-ridden. I may not like everything I hear, but I give it a shot, and usually most stuff sticks. I like indie music. I like some pop music. I love love love industrial and various other subculture music. I fell hard into affection with The Cure, The Pixies, Annie Lennox, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and David Bowie at a very young age. Shoot, I even have really crazy dreams about encountering musicians I admire. In one of them, I was hanging out with the Golden Girls when David Bowie walks up to us with a goat wearing a shimmering rainbow coloured scarf and heart shaped sunglasses. We hung out. David sang for us, and Sophia told us awesome made up stories about Sicily.  If you think that’s a weird dream, I won’t even mention the really fun one I had about Daniel Day Lewis. Some things are just better left to the imagination.

Point is: I am a music fetishist. Okay, maybe fetishist gives the wrong idea but I do love music. When I was a kid I had a ton of ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I considered bar tending, so I could gain worldly knowledge and understanding of other human beings (as well as great stories for my future novels). I thought about being a poet. The thing that stuck out most, though, was how music made me feel. In the midst of a lot of craziness, hearing great lyrics and a strong arrangement could push me forward. When it came time to pick a major in college, there was no hesitation. I was going to be a music promoter and agent. I had it all figured out. I was going to ignore the cliche bands that the generic masses listened to and I was going to push the amazing underground bands I came across. I’d heal the worlds music wound.

 I was so full of shit. That’s okay though. We all are at some point in our lives.

I think it’s kind of obvious that I didn’t become a music promoter and agent. I wanted to do it so badly that I entered into it naively. I didn’t realize how sexist the industry was just yet. I didn’t realize that even with a ton of women in the industry, it was still an old boys club. Nor that my own music business professor would be inclined to treat the girls in his class as jokes. Pity, too. He was rather cute since he was still rather young. It incredibly diminishes a mans sexiness to treat a woman like she’s incompetent. Such a turn off.  After spending a year chasing that dream and giving it my all, I realized it wasn’t right for me. I wanted it, but I didn’t want that agony of pushing myself and working my ass off only to get pushed over by a guy who thought he’d found a new secretary.

I should have fought for it.

Realistically, I’m happy that that venture didn’t pan out. I probably would have been happy enough with that career and lifestyle but I wouldn’t have met the people that followed that lifestyle change if I hadn’t walked away. That’s not to say that I think I was right to have given it up. I gave it up for all the wrong reasons.  I gave up because I thought that I would get tired of the fight. It’s probably true that I would have but I’d have been doing it for a good reason. I would have been helpful in changing the way the music industry perceives women, particularly those who work behind the scenes.

Lately, I find myself going “What the HELL is this crap?!” at a lot of music out there. I say worse stuff about certain music videos and the way some female singers are treated (and treat themselves) while in the public eye. During those moments I sometimes stop and feel like such a hypocrite. Who am I to get annoyed at what’s being put out there when I had a chance to change that and make it into something better? Then I think “Would it really have been better if I’d tried?”. I guess we will never know. But I did let myself down because I took the easy way out. I opted for something I knew I was good at and that wouldn’t be such a struggle. I love art and history. I’m psyched about it any time I encounter a new gallery or museum, or an artist with a unique eye. I just can’t help but see it as something that comes easily to me because I didn’t have to discover it. My love of those things have been with me for as long as I can remember. Just as my love for literature.

My love of music was a discovery though. Like a first love affair with someone who could bring you up when you were in your darkest pit. I let that lover go for all the wrong reasons and just as many people ask themselves about their first loves, I ask myself about my first passion. People mistake love with passion. On a lot of levels the two look and feel the same but where love is soft, subtle, and nurturing; passion is chaotic, scrambling, sometimes dirty, and often times explosive. My discovery of music was chaotic and explosive. Particularly when I found the music that connected with me and how I felt.

So while I may not be a music promoter and agent, I can definitely say I love to share music and I’m going to.

I figure the best way to do that is here. I’m including several genres of music and in various languages. Everything from anime songs to dark and broody songs.

Enjoy the sound wealth!

(Billie Holiday’s music is eternal. No doubt about it. You just can’t argue with the reminiscent value it has. If you can argue it, you’re wrong. Simple as that.)

(I like how tribal some of the arrangement in this song is. Using unique instruments and making it sound fluid and modern is such a great method in music.)

(This song breaks my heart. It’s about a gay man whose father rejects him, and due to it being the 80’s and unawareness, he dies of aids, suffering and alone.)

(Nana was one of the first serious style shoujo animes I ever watched and a lot of the music was kind of transcendental for me.)

(This remix would get me going in the morning when I had no choice but to drag myself through the muggy hot mornings in Miami.)

(I really love what they did with Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. It feels like a perfect fit.)

(This stuff just makes me happy. It was used in the Novela “El Clon” which was (primarily) about forbidden love but had a very fascinating core story about what happens when human beings mess with the natural course of humanity. It touched on topics like human cloning and how it affects everyone involved, being and feeling lost, addiction, family, and destructive behaviour.)

(To be honest, K-on! is a lovable guilty pleasure of mine. I like to hop between happy and serious animes. The spectrum for anime is so vast that the music is really fascinating in how it captures the spirit of each anime. Especially when it’s done well.)

 

There is so much more that I could and would share in this post but it’s already so many videos that I’ll have to save more for later.  Happy to share though!

More than flesh and blood.

   I have been gone far too long. I realize that. Mainly, I realized it because of the effect it’s had on me. I go through bouts where I lose myself, lately. Then something amazing brings me back and I’m left in awe of the little things (and some big things) that can bring us back to life when we’ve begun to wither and lose our capability to move forward.

A few months ago, the ever awesome Wil Wheaton made a post on his blog that jarred me back to reality. At the time I was out to dinner with my husband and during a brief lull in our conversation, we checked up on the internet (to make sure it was behaving, obviously). I was stunned by the raw honesty in Wil’s post about his kids. The post can easily be found here

As I read it, my thoughts immediately jumped to my dad. My awesomely funny, abrasive, supportive dad. I immediately wanted to run home and write this post, but life and it’s many detours kept me away that night. As more days passed, I faced other obstacles which led to my feeling like, “why should I even post anything, really? I’m new at this. I’m not famous or anything. What on earth can anyone gain from anything I have to say? What right do I have to a soap box.” and I just sank. I stopped in mid-cycle and didn’t move forward for a while. So please forgive the tardiness but allow me to respond to Wil’s post with a post of my own.

Most people who see my parents walking down the street with me tend to assume that my dad is my birth father. They’re always shocked to find out he isn’t. My Aunt Pichy even found that he and I have identical “beauty marks” on the same exact spot of our right forearms. The truth is, though, my birth father is not my father. He never has been and never will be. I was fatherless until I was 5 years old. My mom struggled like crazy to provide me with shelter, safety, love, and food. My mom’s great. Flawed, like any human being, but so great. I honestly never thought I needed a dad. I had a ton of awesome aunts and grandparents, and this totally screwed up but sweet human being for a mother.

Then she met Luis, or Saso as everyone we know calls him. I can’t lie. To me, he was moms boyfriend so I can’t remember much about the time before he became “dad”. But I do remember a few things. This guy DID stuff. COOL stuff. He took me fishing, gave me piggy back rides, made donuts at home, and tucked me in. This guy came to school with my mom to enroll me. He walked me to the bus stop. And when my uber dumb cousin would pick on me, he’d say enough was enough. At the time, he was a total rockstar.

I still didn’t call him dad though. I think I didn’t know how to. I don’t even remember calling my birth father dad. What, between the constant belittling of my mother in front of me and the brilliant disregard he had for me as a little kid, it was amazing I even recognized the guy as a parent.

I don’t know what triggered it. I just remember the moment it happened. It was a slightly foggy day in Massachusetts and ‘Saso’ had walked me to the bus stop. I was wearing a yellow shirt and these blue jean overalls with flowers embroidered on the corner. As we waited for the bus to come and pick me up, he held my hand. Steady, firm, warm. He reminded me about my homework. He told me what he made for lunch for me that day. We got quiet. It was really early and the fog made for a pretty gloomy morning but as he held my hand, and as I looked at his hand holding my own, something stirred inside me and I very carefully, quietly, and with a shaky voice and tears in my eyes, I asked him: “Can I call you daddy?” and he looked at me at first with such worry, some sadness, and very kindly and quietly he squeezed my hand, and as his own eyes teared up he said “Yeah, you can call me that.”.

My dad is no saint. No one person really ever is. We all let someone down along the way. But he’s always been supportive and even when he was furious with me over something, I never once stopped being his kid.

Sadly, from the time I was 12 until I was around 23 or 24, I honestly felt like I had lost my place in my dads world. You see, I was sexually abused as a little girl by my cousins boyfriend (and later he became her husband). For years. When I finally spoke up about it, a lot of things were turned upside down and inside out in our lives. Suddenly, for whatever reason, I felt such a huge distance between my dad and I. I felt like I could do nothing right, except academia, and my anger, frustration, and depression was really screwing that up, too. I was desolate and desperate, angry, and hungry. I was so hungry for anyone to blame for so very many things that I think I pushed people away. Especially, because I felt like I could not speak up about how I felt. My family is awesome but for a long time we were a family full of silence. We didn’t discuss our pain or dialogue our needs, and it corroded us from the inside. My mom stopped doing creative projects. My dad started reaching outside of his family instead of within it. I wallowed and blamed. Everyone, including myself. I ripped my inner thighs to shreds with cuts. I burned myself with matches just to remember I existed.

After an explosive situation with my mom and dad, I realized that I was so exhausted from the sheer silence, that I spoke to my mom first. I explained that I needed to talk. I needed her to talk, too. I needed him to talk as well. Most of all, I needed them to remember I was there. She and I came to a serious understanding that night and now, even if she does get very excited or sometimes a little defensive, when I voice things, she does listen and she does reciprocate.

Dad took a little longer. I think, because of the fact that I’m not his blood-borne, I worried about disappointing him more so than I worried about disappointing my mom. After all, if the blood father could reject and throw me away, couldn’t he? Eventually, I overcame that worry. While Mom was over in Puerto Rico helping my grandmother out with my great grandmother, I took the chance to talk to Dad. We spoke of our regrets and our worries about how we’d handled our lives as a family. I stood in the doorway as he folded his uniforms for work, and I said, for the first time in my life since the abuse, “I thought you stopped hugging me because you thought I was dirty. I felt ashamed. I thought you didn’t think of me the same way anymore.” and he crumpled up his chefs shirt and held it close. He started to cry a little and said, “I never thought that. I was upset. No one told me anything specific, no one told me what was going on. I couldn’t do anything. I felt helpless.”.

After finally understanding some of my dads distance, I felt such a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Better yet, lifted off of my chest. I had been drowning for so long that this conversation reminded me of just how true my father was. It reminded me that I may not be his own flesh and blood but I am so much damned more than that. I am of his soul.

So when reading Wil’s post, my instinct was to want to hug him. To tell him that even if his kids aren’t all flesh and blood of his, that they are of his soul. And that Anne is one hell of a mom for taking them out of a hurtful situation.

Wil, if you ever do read this, they are so much more than blood. They are of your soul.

Just as I am of mine.

Thank you for reminding me of that.