Speaking up.

I have to admit sometimes it’s really hard for me to stand up for myself at my job. But, Recently I was so fucking angry at my boss for being completely disrespectful that I might have drawn a line in.the sand I can’t come back from but, it feels good to finally be heard. I’m getting someone to help me out on the days I’m not there and hopefully that will change things. I’m not perfect at my job but, I put the work in and I stay until I get my job done.

My boss has been kinda shitty since he’s joined us. There were multiple people who could have taken over for the old boss and honestly any of them would have been better with all their idiosyncrasies. He doesn’t do much and because he can’t do what I do I’m left to do it all alone while I flounder and have asked for help multiple times. I’m working it alone and I have the biggest section of purview on my team. When you’re boss refuses to do the things they ask of you do it kind of rubs me the wrong way and I already have problems with authority.

I’ve gone from being super not confrontational to learning to use my power in the right ways. It’s been a long journey learning to stand up for myself and tell the people who are supposed to have power over me to shove it. I hope this is a good thing and I hope it leads to making my job a lot easier. I don’t ask that much I keep my head down and do my work. I think that’s part of the reason I get passed up for promotions because I don’t play that game.

I apologize if this blog becomes more a journal than a pop culture blog (Not that I have ever really specified.) but, I haven’t finished anything yet that really hit home as soon as I do you all will be the first to know.

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NaNoWriMo 2019

I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. It’s always kind of scared me if I’m being honest. I don’t like failure and I’ve never been a consistent writer as evidenced by my lack of published work. I hope going through this can make me a better writer in more ways than one. I want to get better and if I can do at least a thousand words a day I think I’ll call that a win. I have a few people I’ve told I’m doing this in my everyday life and one of them is going through this with me. I hope I can learn a lot from her and become a better writer this way.

I hope working on my consistency with this blog and my NaNoWriMo can smelt me into the writer I’ve always wanted to be. This is about me working on deadlines and follow through so I hope it means I can have a brand new project for you guys to check out soon.

Wish me luck and thanks in advance for all the well wishes.

Current word count: 5073 (I know not very good but I’m gonna get there.

I’ll be updating this post through NaNoWriMo with my new count and how I’m feeling.

Closure

It’s this remarkable word that we almost never get. Things don’t end and tie off in a neat bow. Not like they do in fiction. Everything can work out in books, tv, or movies but, IRL things don’t always end that way. And even when we do get closure and everyone is an adult about everything why does that not ever seem like enough?

Why does even knowing it’s over not change the way you feel? Why doesn’t cutting them out make things better? I guess because you still care, right? You want them to be happy even if that happiness isn’t with you. At least that’s what I want to say. I want most of my exes (ex-friends included) to be happy. I just selfishly want them to miss me too. I don’t know if this is good advice but, maybe if there’s someone you’re curious about (who didn’t leave you hurting or ruin your life) may just check on them. Just tell them you miss them. Just a little bit. Maybe something good will come from it.

When it comes, it comes like a wave.

That’s how it feels at first like a wave drowning me and dragging me down. It feels like I’m drenched to my bones with lukewarm melancholy and it weighs me down. When just getting up feels like walking through floodwaters. It’s nearly unbearable but, I do my best to get better and be better.

I think I’ve probably been depressed my whole life. I don’t know when it started but, it was a long time before I knew the words to describe what it was I was going through. It took a long time for me to come to grips and understand just why I couldn’t muster the energy to do things in my daily life and why the thought of getting up off the couch sometimes ruined me. I won’t say growing up was easy for me but, I got through it.

I’m not saying I’m in any way a good role model. I just ride the waves. I still manage to get up every morning and go to work and can more or less get the little done I need to but, I know I could be better. I’ve told people that they should probably go to therapy and I haven’t really followed my own advice. Maybe I’d be in a different spot now if I had. Now there’s medical insurance that’s the hurdle now but, hopefully, that will be easier to get in the next few years.

I’ve had a few pretty bad breakdowns in the past two years. It usually happens around this time cause work amps up, seasonal familial obligations, and not being able to get in that restorative friend time. Seasonal depression is a real kicker. I think I know I can’t do it all on my own but, now I have the skills and the wherewithal to know when it’s coming and try to head it off. Things like not staying too late at work or just doing things to make me happy. It’s not perfect but, it’s gotten me through. I can smile now more often than ever.

I’m so much happier these past years than I have ever been in my life. I have friends who get “it” who understand me when I feel the worst. Understand and honor my anxieties and are willing to be there to calm me down. I’ve been able to be there more for the others in my life suffering because I’m in a better place mentally. I can rise above the waves now. 

 

Famous Last Words (Looking for Alaska review)

I remember when I first read Looking for Alaska. It wasn’t the first time my heart had broken from a book but, it was one that would be with me for a long time. I decided to pick up Looking for Alaska again before the show came out and I’m so glad I did. I don’t usually read books multiple times but, something about Alaska got me to read everything John Green ever published. Something about his writing about way too smart teens and overly elegant speech patterns made me secretly want to be a character in his books. They were perfect. Damaged just enough to be lovable. Using big words and perfectly exposing introspective ideals that even if they don’t fit perfectly they convey so much more about the character. You can tell this made me sound not only extremely pretentious but, incredibly annoying. (I apologize to everyone who knew me back then and a few who know me now.)

I fell in love with his characters and I think so far Paper Towns is my favorite by far. Margo Roth Spiegelman is awesome because no one writes about even fluffy women as if they’re desirable. She’s intelligent, daring, and just the person to get me out of my shell like she did for Quentin. Looking back that might have been a bit pathetic. It’s about putting people on pedestals a bit like Looking For Alaska. It’s definitely something I needed to hear when I was growing up.

The thing I like now about John Green’s writing is that the love interest is always a person. They have things they have wants and needs and an entire life without the MC in it. Which brings me to Alaska Young (Kristine Forseth). In the book, she was flirty and mysterious and we never got a look into who she was. Pudge (Charlie Plummer)thought she was perfect and so did we. Everyone’s perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Returning to the book this last week, I felt bad for Alaska. Knowing what happens to her and really listening to her this time though she broke my heart. Not because of her sudden exit from our lives but, that she was really and truly failed by the people around her. She asked for help with every breath and no stopped to even ask her if she was okay. I remember being like that when I was really going through depression badly. Literally telling anyone who would listen about the pain I was in. I knew I wasn’t faking it well enough for people not to notice but, no one stepped in when there was time to spare for them to save her. Her boyfriend Jake also must have had a terrible time in the book but, we never see what he went through even though they were still together and he’s on a phone call with her only an hour before she dies.

The show takes what is about a six hour audio book to read and blows it up into a full television series. It takes away a bunch of the mystery showing scenes that are completely from Alaska’s point of view and really show us in more ways than one what she was really going through. I think they were trying to make her a more three-dimensional character but, I feel it took a little away from the latter half of the book. It’s only two episodes which encompass the mystery that is Alaska young and kind of ends in an anti-climatic breeze. Maybe it’s not about why she died instead, about the person who died and the spot they used to take up in their lives.

Thank you Tanya Lao for probably the only good picture of these two.

Chip (Denny Love) to me was way more impactful to me in the show. Whereas in the book even though the things he got Pudge to do were engaging Colonel himself wasn’t. We understand he’s mad at the rich people for being rich and being assholes we don’t really get to much more of him than that. He’s angry and he holds grudges. In one of the best additions to the story, we get the Cottilion scene. For the first time, we actually see Chip as a multi-faceted individual. He tells his friends there is a truce during the debutant ball and it’s about Sara (Landry Bender). And it was so heartbreaking watching him come to her rescue for him to be shot down so publicly. I knew I was invested in the show seeing them sitting in the downpour of the sprinklers. And she knows and understands him so well at that moment… It was such a beautiful scene between the two of them. It just hurt to watch them inevitably break up. And watching her get together with Longwell felt like such a betrayal to the audience as well.

One of the major problems I have with this adaptation is the way they handled Takumi (Jay Lee). I think Jay Lee’s performance is spot on my problem I guess is how his character doesn’t really get his moment to shine. In the show, it’s only hinted that he may have feelings for Alaska. In the book, when it comes to light, he says one of the most impactful lines of the book it really frames the whole thing differently. “You don’t have a monopoly on Alaska.” He basically tells Miles he doesn’t own grief. Her memory doesn’t live and die with him. That really hit me ten or so years ago and it was kinda sad not having this scene in the show. It really repositions the book and shows how there’s a bunch more going on in scenes that we didn’t see. Takumi keeping his last memory of her to himself was also a good character moment.

The final character I want to highlight is Mr. Hyde (Ron Cephas Jones). If I’m being frank I don’t know how to talk about him. His backstory is so sweet it makes my heart full and every time he came around I’d hang on his every word. He has always been the wise man in the book but, even more, now he has already to some degree walked all their paths and feels a bit of his own regret that he couldn’t save Alaska.  In the miniseries, it’s shown even more how much it pains him to write her question on the board and what it means to see it there.

There’s probably a lot more I want to say about Looking for Alaska. It’s definitely a book I’m gonna keep with me for a long time. I love stories about mental health because I feel that talking about things always makes the burden a little lighter. Like in the book, we all have our crosses to bear but, I think talking about them can put a new perspective on them. Quoting one of my favorite games… “The world ends with you.”

I haven’t been writing and it’s kind of messing my life up.

I haven’t been writing that much recently and honestly, it’s due to a lot of small things and a couple big things and it’s really all just excuses. I hope by writing this it means that I’m back for good. I want this. Probably more than I’ve let on. I want this to be the start of me really buckling down to get this going.

I need this if I’m gonna be frank. It keeps me from spending too much time in my own head. I’ve had tons of blog ideas and a bunch of short story ideas I just haven’t put pixel to pixel. This needs to change, for me.

I love this and I want to keep doing it for the rest of my life. I need to keep consistent so that I can continue to get better. I even got a new desk to make it easier to write in my room. Please continue to hold me accountable and I hope there’s, even more, to come from me soon.

Not exactly a writer’s sanctuary but, it’s a nice start!

K

You are the warm zephyr on an autumn day,

Just when your nose starts to chill.

A white, fluffy cloud on across the sun on the highest of noons.

An arm around me when I just can’t stop bawling.

A scream when I’ve had just too much.

 

I found you when I needed you most.

A comma to break my pace.

The perfect thing to make what’s already great greater.

And make what’s destitute and unlivable,

bearable and full of hope.

 

You have put my world into focus.

Clear and sharp.

I can finally see myself.

 

I know you have a thing about me using your full name but, just this once give me a break. A mistake has become something that’s just ours and I hope it will continue that way. You have changed my life and no matter what happens next that won’t ever change.

Captain Spirit (Life is Strange 2 Prologue?)

I loved DONTNOD’s Life is Strange 2 prologue? (Question mark because at first, they said it was something like a demo but, playing it seems like something more like the first chapter [I’ll probably remove this when I’ve started the main game and find out where this fits in.]) It really did a lot to put me back in the shoes of being a kid and long for a bit of the old days, when my brother, my friends, and I would play imaginary games. The whole thing flooded me with more emotions than I ever thought possible. I thought that this was gonna be a pit stop on my way to bawling my eyes out city with Life as Strange 2, turns out I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotion that hit me with this game. When the credits rolled, and even now thinking back on it, I realized that I’m already hooked on Chris’s story. And like Life is Strange the original and Before the Storm, it’s probably going to linger with me a long time.

-Major Spoilers-

for Life is Strange 1 and Before the Storm

Life is Strange the original is one of my favorite games of the current generation. I loved Max and Chloe’s journey through re-connection, reconciliation and in my game romance. I remember all the major narrative beats and how each twist story hit me so hard. From Kate’s attempted suicide, alternate Chloe’s injuries, Jefferson’s heel turn (Yes I was actually surprised by it. I shouldn’t have been but, I was really just enjoying the story.) Things moved so quickly for something many consider a “Walking Simulator.”

Before LIS I didn’t know a narrative-based game could hit me like that and because of it, I’ve played games like Detroit, Until Dawn and Telltale’s Borderlands which are games I always gonna recommend to anyone into the genre or even just starting out with it or games in general. I guess I’m the perfect audience for more cinematic games. It’s probably because movies can’t always hold my attention and this allows me to not only interact with the story but, tell it my own way.

I chose to let Chloe die. That she needed to go to back to the beginning and die so that everyone else could live. It was so hard but, after bawling my eyes out I realized that this not only what she wanted but, it was kind of a redemption for her. She did probably the hardest thing possible. Max would unmask Jefferson and save Kate. Nathan would go to jail most likely but, he’d be away from his dad and finally get the help he needs. Victoria will probably be heartbroken but at least she’ll be saved.

Part of me thinks that Chloe might have wanted to die because she felt guilty about the ultimate fate of the love of her life Rachel Amber. But, I think she also felt guilty for the pain she put the rest of the people in her life through. She might not have seemed so much like that in the original but, as we see in Before the Storm she’s way more vulnerable then she lets on. Her relationship with Rachel probably hardens a lot of her exterior. All and all, I have to say The first Life is Strange put me on a feels train and now Captain Spirit is the next stop.

End of Spoilers

for the Original LiS and BtS

And

Major Spoilers

for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

I say it right now, I couldn’t help but smile as the song Death with Dignity by Sufjan Stevens came on. I didn’t know the song but, it somehow it held a bit of the wonder I always have when I start a game like this one. There’s a bit of child-like wonder when I’m about to dive into something that I know will tell me a great story. I get the same feeling for a book I want to read, an indie movie, a slice of life Anime, and a great number more. A warm feeling with a low rumble of excitement. I love this feeling. It’s the feeling I chase when I consume things, a little like an adrenaline junkie. The song itself fits so well into the game because, the tone of the song kind of belies the intent of the lyrics. The whole thing lulls you into a false sense of security which is exactly what this game does.

The scene comes up on Chris, our POV character, as he starts drawing the titular Captain Spirit. You make a few decisions on what he’s gonna look like and whether he’s colorful or a bit dark. I chose light armor and a much more subdued design, mirroring some of my favorite characters from youth. he decides what he wants to do for the day. There are tons of options like playing around with his toys or getting to know Chris through his room.

Before I knew it dad was calling and I wanted to check out more than one thing and apparently, that was the wrong choice. When I finally answered and left to go to the kitchen he was angry. It wasn’t even that late and but it kind of in a way set off a bit of a chain reaction.

At first, I thought Chris’ dad was just going through a hard time. Living on without his wife and partner in raising their son and being unemployed. He is easy to sympathize with. While all of that may be true, Charles Eriksen is abusive.

Not just once or twice we keep finding evidence that the way he treats Chris in this game isn’t a one-off. We aren’t seeing the beginning of this, not the inciting incident. We are dropped into a just a normal Saturday in the life of Chris and Charles. This is their life together. Charles can be nice one moment and slinging abusive comments the next  DONTNOD has captured a chillingly realistic picture of an abusive parent. I know because it happened to me.

There’s a lot to unpack about the way Charles and Chris interact. Chris dutifully does chores around the house which should have been done by his father, like clearing the porch of snow keeping the water heater running, and wood stove on to heat the house. I found myself doing these plus the dishes and laundry for to get some kind of approval from the dad hoping that if I (Chris) was good we could somehow prevent another outburst and I could get myself and Chris out here unharmed. This was something I felt many times in my life. If you’re good enough then they will go back to the way they were before. Charles does realize and say something a bit demeaning like, and I’m paraphrasing here,  it’s like having his own maid. The comment felt a bit like a slap in the face for how hard he was working.

Charles drinks way more than is probably necessary and it’s not just one or two beers to watch the game. He’s three beers in while cooking breakfast and the half a bottle of the hard stuff while watching the game after promising his kid they’ll get a Christmas tree after the game. You can mention his drinking but, I didn’t choose those options because I was trying to be as small as possible. The thing is his drinking has a real consequence and that being his son. He will forget things he’s meant to do for him. Charles doesn’t always eat. He often gets angry at Chris for saying he should slow down. Chris has connected the causality of his father drinking with mood swings and even violence. This most assuredly negatively affect Chris’ relationship with drinking going forward.

Charles isn’t all bad. He isn’t evil. He doesn’t seek out to destroy Chris’ life. He has moments where he’s a good father. Like leading Chris to believe he isn’t getting a really good present to surprise him on Christmas day. Or when you shoot him with your nerf gun he plays along. Taking a moment during halftime to talk to him. He locks the firecrackers away from us when he realizes we can’t be trusted with him. Built a treehouse for Chris. He’s given a lot of freedom to be his self. The only problem is a lot of this comes as a detriment other places. The play box console that Charles buys is a replacement to the one it’s insinuated he broke. The treehouse is unfinished and actually dangerous as we see at the end. Chris is pretty unsupervised and even though his maternal grandparents want to help out Charles has kept them from him.

End of Spoilers

A lot of what went on with this game forced me to remember different parts of my childhood and unlike Chris, I had brothers to lean on when things got overwhelming. I don’t think I would have survived without them. They gave me something to live for. My Father wasn’t drunk so he couldn’t blame it on the alcohol not that it gives Charles any kind of leeway. I was sent back into myself in multiple ways to the kid I used to be and the whole thing hit me so hard. I’m so happy I played this.

 

Ps. Sorry this took so long to get out but, works been busy and I had to figure out what I wanted to say in here. If I wrote this when wanted I feel like I would have gotten a lot wrong and maybe even misrepresented myself. Thanks for your patience.

Detroit: Become Human thoughts

I wanted to play Detroit from the moment I saw it’s trailer during the PlayStation E3 2016 Conference. It had gorgeous faces, gorgeous set pieces. and the idea of playing through such a beautiful world had me almost vibrating. I couldn’t wait to take my first steps in this unknown world and see what it had to offer.

In the demo, Connor (one of the main characters) has to figure out how to save a little girl through his approach to a deviant android. It’s a hostage situation and it was made all the better because we were the android dealing with another android. Usually in games and media with similar themes, we’re playing as /seeing the viewpoint of a human who will eventually act as a bridge between the two species. “I’m not racist, so why are you?” kind of thing. In this game, we see inside the heads of people who are able to process things at a speed humans could only dream of. All of it makes for a great way to explain away the HUD and make the whole thing a little more immersive. When they finally finished the demo and showed all the different ways the thing could have ended I was sold.

Many people have said that they’ve found Markus (Jesse Williams) their least favorite of the stories but, I found it great. He is suitably angry about the way his people are treated, the way he’s been treated. You can make him the kind of revolutionary you want. Whether you go peaceful and kind or angry and righteous. Williams performance still echos inside me. Maybe it’s just taste but, this might be the result of a cultural effect. Things that celebrate black culture or hint about black struggle will always hit me just a little bit harder, will resonate with me just a little bit more.

Some have issues with not understanding how the androids work. This was never really hard Sci-Fi story. We don’t know really know how everything works down to the nuts and bolts but through interacting with and listening you start to get a much better picture of The Detroit world as it is.

Others just have a problem with David Cage, one of the last auteur game creators, while I haven’t spent any time with his games nothing in this game was as egregious as things that have been relayed to me from his other games. I actually found it to be one of the better expeirences that I’ve had in a narrative-based game.

Each character will become completely different because of your choices even though each has a role to fill you, you might be dealing with a completely different character than when you started the game. For me and my choices, this game resonated with me in a major way.

-Minor Spoilers-

There are fascinating tidbits like there’s a war brewing between the US and Russia over Thirium in the Arctic. Thirium is the “blue blood” androids use to power themselves. It is a major natural resource and the countries are in near open conflict. There’s a bit about android zoos and the problem therewithin. And questions whether an android would be better at presiding over the country. This comes from President Warren who seems to be a celebrity blogger and Social Media personality thrust into the political field with no experience and dismal approval ratings and too close to call, contentious, election cycle.

-End of Spoilers-

I’m already clamoring for DLC. Maybe another story in a different part of this world about an android making their way to Detriot. There so many more stories to tell and I hope Cage sees this as a triumph that people are already calling for more. I don’t know if I’ll get it but, I’ll keep home alive.

There’s a lot I could say about the tense moments and hard choices but, I feel like I’d end up taking something away if I told you too much more about this. I suggest you go into this game as blind as possible. Fail a little and see how the consequences really impact you and the characters. I definitely didn’t have a flawless play through the first time around and I’m gonna be exploring some of the options I didn’t take just to see what more this game has to offer. I can’t wait to dive in again and get that sweet platinum trophy.

A song featured in the game has not only stuck with me but, become a song I sing when I’m feeling a bit down. It obviously has some similarities with Negro spirituals of the past and because of that, it has an uplifting, somber feeling. So if you don’t mind my voice please listen.

Book Report April 30th 2018

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is an excellent book I wish I had gotten into it when it first came about but, now that I finally have I’m recommending it to everyone  It has all the tenants of YA fantasy and adds a bit more. I said it before on twitter

This book fills in some of the pieces I’m looking for I can’t get enough of the different magics and even though it uses soft magic which is something I’m not always a fan of and forms a world around it that makes the whole thing startlingly compelling.

Zélie Adebola is one of our main point of view characters and she lives with an undeniably defining trait in her white hair and dark skin. She and the people like her diviners are people chosen by the gods to wield magic. Except the magic is all gone none of the diviners have the power to do things like raising the dead (You all know why that was of particular interest to me.), controlling the elements, healing, and even causing disease. The reason, was on a night eleven years ago magic dried up and the king’s men fled the cities and killed those already awakened to their powers.

I have to assume Tomi knew what she was doing by making all of the diviners’ dark skin people while those without power but, of royal descent were of a lighter skin. By doing this she points a finger squarely at the subculture of colorism. Colorism the thought that people with skin closer to white are somehow better, more attractive, and for some reason more sought after. No spoilers but, she goes from a type of animosity at the world for her skin tone and those of others that made them somehow more noble, to finding a way to talk about loving hers as well as those of people seen above her. I feel like this for anyone who has ever had negative thoughts about their skin tones will see it in thoughts reflected by this book.

Each of the point of view characters has an arc here while some are more pronounced than others there’s no one gets left behind. The plot is very straightforward and tight but there’s more than enough to expand the world and show there’s a lot more to see. I need another installment of what I hope is a much longer franchise.

Honestly, if you don’t like books that talk about real things in a way that is accessible to people, then I’d say still pick it up. It’s still an awesome story with diverse characters and looks into a setting we don’t usually get in fantasy. Tomi Adeyemi has written a book that not only did I love to read and suggest to others but, a book that is just what YA needs right now.

PS, I listened to this on in audiobook form and I loved the voice acting of Miss Bahni Turpin. She did so much with each of the characters that each one felt so unique and polished I thought I was in a room full of them.