Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SWTOR blogging challenge - Day 5

Your favourite non-romance companion

Whoops! I left my computer at the school over the weekend and I really fell behind. Didn't help that after being away from it, I completely forgot about this blog challenge! Oh well...

Oh, Teeseven, definitely. In fairness, I hear a lot of good stuff about Blizz, and I haven't gotten him yet! And I like most of the companions. I haven't romanced Risha or Akaavi (yet!) and then there's Gault, and my only Knight is a girl, so Kira's pretty cool.

But really, I just adore T7's sass.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SWTOR blogging challenge - Day 4

Your favorite planet

Easily, hands-down, NAR SHADDAA. I love its noise and bustle and the chatter in the background and how much there is to look at - the signs, the billboards, the crowds... It never gets old.

It makes me wish I was better at recognizing Aurebesh, or that I could understand some of the ambient dialogue: "Otoa-wa... nanniwanki!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

SWTOR blogging challenge - Day 3

Your favourite class

Oo, that's tough. Probably smuggler, because I like the companions so much! I don't have Guss yet, but from whatI've heard about him, I think I'll enjoy having him on the crew. And I love stealth, so that's a plus. Of course, I wish my smuggler was tougher and could do a bajillion points of damage with every shot...

And most importantly, I just love the sass!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SWTOR blogging challenge - Day 2

When did you start playing

I am so tired today that I feel physically nauseated. I got an email late last night that really frustrated me and I was so stressed that it took me awhile to get to sleep. So then even though I got more sleep than I had the night before, I was still absolutely exhausted this morning.

We got access to the first round of beta testing, so we were pretty excited to go in and check things out. At the time we were still subscribing to World of Warcraft, but we let our subscription lapse there when we started playing SWTOR. We actually went to Disney World during our vacation that Christmas, and we took the computer along so that on some of our non-park days we could play!

I've been playing off and on since then.

Monday, December 2, 2013

SWTOR blogging challenge - Day 1

Your first character

During the beta I played a rattataki Intelligence Agent. However, all that remains of her is a screenshot of her at the helm of her ship - apparently I got through Dromund Kaas. I do remember being amused by the fact that the first companion you get as an Agent is also a rattataki! We were twinsies ;D

When the game actually started, I created a Knight. For a long time, she was my highest-level character; just this weekend, my Agent (not the same one!) passed her during the Thanksgiving 2XP event.

I didn't develop a whole lot of story around her, but my headcanon was that she was this wealthy socialite who didn't really want to be a Jedi, but when she was found to be Force sensitive, her parents kind of pushed her into it, and promised her if she was a good little youngling, they would give her a ronto filly of her very own when she became a padawan, and then when she was knighted they would get her the latest Czerka speeder. Sparkly purple, of course - it's her signature color.

It helped that she had an affinity for lightsaber combat. She wasn't shy about letting others know (or find out) how good she was, either. It was that, combined with always having the most elegant robes - always classy, of course, never anything in bad taste - that earned her the name Princesstabbity from her age-mates.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - End

So I totally haven't finished the 30 days, BUT it's now moving on to just moving on from one planet to the next. And in all fairness, I haven't thought about ANY of that from a RP standpoint. Coruscant, maybe, because Arri shows up in Vacy's story in that one, but all I really know is that she's coming back to Coruscant at that point. I really don't have any headcanons for any of this, sooo I'd just be kind of slapping things together and pretending it mattered.

Which it doesn't. I'm sorry, Arri. You deserve a better writer than me.

OTOH I may have a go at this one sometime soon.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Ship

  • Day 17 - Ship: How does your Jedi like their personal starship? Did they give it a name? Any interesting little quirks? A gizka infestation, maybe? Do they do the piloting or does someone else handle that? Are they prone to crash-landings? Does your ship see a lot of battle or diplomatic missions? Is it well-equipped for either one? Does your Jedi ever detect a hint of Alderaanian nectar in the air?

 I feel like I didn't get much of a weekend. I spent so much of it grading! At least I got it done.

*sigh* And I kind of don't feel like finishing the rest of these. I'm just kind of making things up on the fly and I feel like I'm not doing a good job and I'm just wasting my time. You know? Like I don't have anything special in mind for any of this. What's the point? *another sigh*

I missed another day, too. Last night we had D&D and I'd also been lectured about the way I structure my lessons. I'm trying not to be frustrated and/or terrified. I feel like it's my neck on the chopping block.

Arri does her own piloting, for the most part. She learned while she was on Vornu. Starting out, she was very tentative. But over time and with practice she became more confident.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Mounts

  • Day 16 - Mounts: It’s a big, inconvenient galaxy. A Jedi like yours can’t do their job without their own speeder. What kind of mount does your Jedi have? Do they only have the one? If not, which do they prefer? Are they happy with their speeder or in the market for a new one? How did they acquire their speeders? Do they maintain them personally or assign the task to a companion? Maybe they pay a service? Or maybe your Jedi could stand to take a few lessons in how to fly a speeder?

These are getting harder and harder because the recent ones have been about gear, and Arri just hasn't been that concerned with special items. She does a pretty good job of not forming attachments, and that means things as well as people. But at the same time, good stewardship is important, so she did a fair amount of research before purchasing a speeder - used, of course - but a model that had a reputation for durability and safety.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Armor

  • Day 15 - Armor: How much and what kind of armor does your Jedi wear? Include a picture if you want! Is it distinctive in any way? Does it have any sentimental value or is it some kind of precious relic? The Order prefers function to form and traditionally Jedi are outfitted modestly, in unremarkable plain brown robes. How strictly does your Jedi adhere to this custom? Do they think it’s idiotic? Do they dress for fashion at the expense of function? What kinds of nicks and quirks does their armor have to give it character — does it have that one clasp that always catches, that seal that has to be jiggled just right?

Since she's often taking the brunt of the damage in most combat situations, Bel'arria wears heavy armor, for as much protection as possible. She avoids wearing her robes while on a mission as she learned early on that doing so often meant having to request new ones. Instead, she keeps her robes neatly folded in the locker on her ship.

Her armor is the sort used by common mercenaries. It's better than what's issued to low-level military grunts, but not as good as what the elite units have. She is careful to keep it well-maintained, so that while in some places the finish is scratched or the paint has flaked off, it fits with snug perfection.

Friday, November 8, 2013

  • Day 14 - Weapons: A Jedi is never unarmed; describe your Jedi’s preferred weapons. Do they have a favorite lightsaber or are they more adept with the Force? Is their lightsaber (or lightsabers) unique? Does it have its own history? Do they have any other weapons — holdout blasters or hidden knives, for emergency situations? Anything they use just for special occasions, like an exotic lightwhip or a secret stash of frag grenades?

Well, I missed yesterday. Oops! I'm starting to feel better, though.

Arri's saber is pretty basic. It's not anything special to her, just a tool. But at the same time it's a reminder of the responsibilities she has accepted.

Even though it is warped and battered past the point of use, Arri kept the hilt of the saber that she crafted at the end of her training as a padawan. It's important to her because it's the first time she really felt proud of something she achieved.

The crystal that focuses the beam, however, is particularly special to her. It was crafted by Arimand Surik, and he gave it to her after she made her first saber. As she has continued to learn and progress in her skills, he occasionally retools the crystal, adding facets that enhance its intensity. Arri can't explain why, but whenever she ignites her saber she feels a sense of comfort, of rightness, that she doesn't get from any other weapon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Combat Companion

  • Day 13 - Combat Companion: Some battles cannot be won alone. When your Jedi calls on one of their companions for assistance, which companion do they call on? Why? Do they always choose the companion whose skills best suit the situation or the one they like best? Which companions best complement your Jedi’s skills and combat style?

Today is another hard day. I'm tired of reminding my students to freaking SIT UP. It is not that much to ask. I just feel like every day is a battle lately, and I'm so tired of it. I never lose my temper. I never raise my voice to them. But if I do so much as speak to them sternly they look at me with huge eyes like I'm spitting fire.

Well, this one is kind of tough, because I really don't see her ending up with a full crew like you do in-game. It's more that she has temporary partnerships, with the exception of T7. Mechanically, Arri's fighting style should match well with Kira, who I think is a melee DPS. I can't imagine that she ever takes Lord Whatsisface with her just the two of them. She looks for the best in everyone, but she's not stupid! She'd probably ask Sergeant Rusk to stick with her until Lord Scourge had been appropriately dealt with. (I had to google his name! ugh. so tired today.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Combat Style

  • Day 12 - Combat Style: What are your Jedi’s best moves? Which lightsaber form do they favor? Are they a great strategist, drawing enemies where they like and controlling the battlefield? Or do they hit so hard and so fast that the only strategy they need is to ‘kill them before they kill us’. What kinds of opponents are they best matched against? What are their greatest weaknesses in combat?

Arri tends to use Soresu when at all possible, to wear her opponents into submission rather than killing them if she can. But when simply holding the line isn't enough and she needs to remove obstacles, she shifts to Djem So. The master she learned it from, Slaine Drucker, warned her that its focus on power, aggression, and sheer brutality could lead her down paths from which it would be difficult to return. So when she fights using that style, she is very careful to keep her mind clear and her heart open, even to the enemy who is trying to kill her and hurt those she cares about.

She may seem to transform into a killing machine, but she is a compassionate killing machine.

Her aversion to hurting others can prove problematic; in many cases she would be able to achieve her goals more quickly if she was more willing to simply execute those in her way. Instead, she tries to avoid notice, and searches for ways around guards and patrols if she can.

Monday, November 4, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Combat Role

  • Day 11 - Combat Role: On the battlefield, where are we most likely to find your Jedi? Are they leading the charge, drawing hostile attention? Are they invisible to the naked eye, turning the environment or even their opponents’ own minds against them? Do they hang back from the heart of the action, bolstering their teammates with Force, healing wounds even as they’re opened? Maybe they are leaping in from afar, slicing down one enemy at a time with ferocity and precision? Is your Jedi a team player or a solo artist, preferring to work alone? 
Today has been a not-great day mentally, but I'm a stubborn bitch, so I'm going to push through this thing because I know I'll feel proud of myself for keeping up my daily writing. GO ME, DAMMIT.

Okay, well, Arri's a tank. I really haven't written much with her fighting, but yeah, she yells a lot to attract as much attention as she can. She is very much a pacifist, but she realizes that sometimes a more assertive tactic is more effective. She is glad to have help and will do everything she can to keep her partners from being harmed, but she is also willing to carry out missions on her own if that is what is needed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Talents & Hobbies

  • Day 10 - Talents & Hobbies: Describe any talents your Jedi has that are unrelated to killing rakghouls and saving the galaxy. Are they good with machines or a cunning linguist? A gifted dancer or wily sabacc player? Even if they aren’t good at it, how do they spend their downtime? Cooking, whistling, or flutterplume-watching? Any guilty pleasure holofilms or holo-serials? Do they keep their hobbies and talents to themselves or share them with others?

It suits her well, being a Jedi and all; Arri is particularly good at listening to people and getting them to open up. Sitting together and sharing a pouch of only-slightly-crumbled cookies has a way of softening even the hardest of hearts. Additionally, the easy frankness with which she asks "why?" disarms those who expect to be judged for their views or actions.

She is both practical and industrious. When not actively carrying out the duties assigned to her by the Order, she uses her time to study foreign cultures and languages (though literacy is still a struggle for her) and maintain her equipment. Once in a great while she finds herself in a fit of melancholy and looks out through the viewscreen of her ship, wondering if maybe her family is somewhere among the stars and planets that speckle the expanse of the galaxy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Pets!

  • Day 9 - Pets: Does your Jedi have any pets? How many and what kinds? What are their names? Where did they get their pets? Do the pets stay on the ship? Where do they sleep and what do they eat? Do they chew on your Jedi’s robes? How do your Jedi’s companions feel about them? What kind of relationship does your Jedi have with them?
At this point, the closest thing to a pet is C2N2, the ship droid. And to be perfectly honest, this isn't something I've thought a lot about! I would imagine there are lots of plants on the ship. Arri loves life, in all its forms, although she would be careful to only keep plants that would not cause any sort of health hazard for her or her crew. She would also be careful to make sure that she's not accidentally carrying seeds or spores or anything when she goes onto a new planet.

But I can see her having something small. She would be less likely to take an animal from its natural habitat, but perhaps if she helped break up a dogfighting ring or something, and there's this little guy that nobody else is willing to take care of because it's small and ugly and vicious - I can imagine her taking the time to treat its wounds and feed it properly. Over time it latches on to her and it won't go with anyone else, and she doesn't fuss too much about that. Partly it's because she doesn't fuss much about anything, but it might also be because she would be sad to say goodbye, and now she doesn't have to.

Friday, November 1, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Day 8

  • Day 8 - Romance: The Order has pretty clear ideas about passion and attachments, but not everyone agrees. How does your Jedi feel about romance and sexuality? Do they have any past loves or liaisons? What attracts them to a person and do they ever act on that attraction? Do they enjoy committed relationships or casual encounters? One at a time or several? Is your Jedi in a relationship now?
Arri respects the Order's concerns about attachments and the danger that passion can present to one who is connected to the Force. However, she does not believe that attachment is binary. In her view, rather, there is a spectrum of attachment, from ignorance on one end, through disinterest, proceeding through concern and connection all the way to obsession. She believes that either end of the spectrum is unhealthy.

Passion is not something to be feared, in Arri's worldview. Emotions can provide a useful counterpoint to logic and reasoning, but they should not control you. In that sense, passion is simply a measure of how much power your emotions have.

There was someone she became more attached to than she expected. One of her agemates was a solemn miraluka named Arimand Surik. He was far more advanced than her, as he'd been accepted into the Order when he was very young. But he was also very patient, and when she struggled in her lessons (as she often did) he was always willing to help out, with practice or with study. They seemed completely different - she was bright and cheerful, and he was serious and somewhat intense, but their differences seemed to complement each other rather than clash. They became closer as the years progressed, and what started as friendship grew to something deeper. Arimand finished his training on Vornu well before Arri was ready to move on, and when he was sent to Tython and she was left behind, she truly understood what her masters had meant about the problems created by attachment.

But he continued to progress rapidly, and after being released from his training as a Knight, he returned to Vornu to continue to work with the Academy. Arri had worried that he might have forgotten about her, or decided that their relationship was inappropriate, or nothing more than childish infatuation. But when he pulled her close and they embraced again, her fears evaporated into smoke, and she knew that though they might be separated from time to time, what they shared could not be taken from them.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Day 7

  • Day 7 - NPCs: Your Jedi has met many different people in their travels. Describe some of their favorite and least favorite NPCs. What shaped their opinion about these people? Do they stay in touch?

Wow. Uhhhh... This one is particularly hard, because Arri is so very sympathetic. *I* didn't like the two "lovers" on Tython - and even less, the masters who asked me to snitch on them. But Arri tends to be a lot more forgiving than I am, so her disapproval comes across more as mild disappointment. She avoids the dogmatism that is often seen as the hallmark of Jedi ideals, and is more likely to seek understanding first before deciding that cooperation is not possible.

She doesn't do very well at keeping in touch. Her life is a solitary one, but for the time being, that isn't a bad thing. She's enjoying the chance to explore the galaxy, live her own life, and maybe touch the lives of others.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Day 6

  • Day 6 - Companions: Describe the people who travel with your Jedi. Why do they stick around? What kind of relationship do they have with your Jedi? What were their first impressions? What kinds of things do they argue about? Do they do anything together when they aren’t trying to save the galaxy?

In my version of the story, Arri travels alone for the most part. There are those who travel with her for a time, but none of them have become long-term partners. The lone exception is the odd little droid Teeseven, who takes care of the ship that the Order has entrusted to Arri's use. Sometimes Arri feels like it's his ship, and she's merely the pilot!

Arri cares deeply for Teeseven. She realizes that it is unusual to form an attachment to an object, but her discussions with the droid have begun to go beyond simple exchanges of information. She is starting to question whether it truly is an 'inanimate object' and what it means to be sentient.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SWTOR 30 Day Jedi Challenge - Day 5

  • Day 5 - Jedi Training: We meet our Jedi on Tython, [when] they are Padawans almost fully-trained. Where were they trained before then? Who were their masters and how did they get along? Did they have any friends or rivals? What was their life like between joining the Order and traveling to Tython for their final trials?
Arri was raised without any formal education. When she was accepted into the Academy on Vornu, she tried to hide what she felt were her failures, but it wasn't long before the masters realized that she couldn't even read. They were invariably patient and kind, but she still heard the voices of the over-servants on Hutta, telling her she was useless and pathetic.

Months stretched into years, and Arri worked hard to make the best of her opportunity. She didn't have the raw talent of some of her peers, nor a deep connection to the Force, but what she did have was patience and persistence. 

She was generally well-liked among the other students, not least because she always had a stash of cookies in one of the many pockets in her hand-me-down robe and was always willing to share. Even though she knew that the life of a Jedi is unpredictable and usually nomadic, she was a little sad each time one of the others left to continue training or carry out the goals of the Order. When the time came for her to go to Tython, she felt that same ache, but it was somehow different - there was a sharp tang of excitement at the edge.

Monday, October 28, 2013

SWTOR 30 day jedi challenge

  • Day 4 - Family & Early Life: Most Jedi are separated from their families at a young age, but that doesn’t mean their families don’t impact their life. Where did your Jedi come from? How much of their early life do they remember? What was it like? Were they happy to leave it behind for the Order? Does their family still play a role in their life? Do they limit their idea of family to biological relatives?
Arri does not remember anything from before Hutta. Her life there was difficult; she was unimportant, not good for much beyond being given the most dreary, unpleasant tasks and getting blamed for anything that went wrong. But she learned how to avoid being noticed, and when that wasn't possible, how to minimize the damage, and when that wasn't possible, how to survive.

It wasn't a happy life, by any sort of measure, but it was the only one she'd ever known. And while she was never quite convinced that she was as fortunate to have her position as those above her insisted she ought to be, she was well aware that things could have been even worse. Still, she was glad to leave, and has no desire to return.

She still wonders who her family was, and why and how she was separated from them. And she hopes that maybe one day she will find some answers...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Story Spectrum

So I posted this over at my tumblr and thought it might fit well here:

like tbh i feel like my problem with the “dark and gritty!!” trend in modern stories is this

there’s this idea in our culture that cynicism is realistic? that only children believe in happy endings, that people are ultimately selfish and greedy and seeing with clear eyes means seeing the world as an awful place

that idealism is— easy, i guess. butterflies and sunshine and love are easy things to have in your head.

but i’ve known since i was fifteen that idealism— faith in humanity— optimism— is the most difficult thing in the entire world.

i constantly struggle to have faith in humanity, because it’s really, really easy to lose it. it’s easy to look at the news and go “what were you expecting? of course humans behave this way.” it’s easy to see the world and go “ugh, there’s no hope there.” and the years when i believed that were easy. miserable— but easy.

it is hard work to see the good in people. it is hard work to hope. it is hard work to keep faith and love and joy and appreciation for beauty in my daily life.

and when moviemakers and tv producers and writers go “omg!!! all characters are selfish and act poorly and don’t love each other, nothing ever happens that is happy or good, that’s so much more realistic, that’s so much more adult”

no, it’s not

it’s childish.

it’s the most childish thing i can imagine.
Meh. I don’t agree.

Stories illustrate the full spectrum of human experience. Life can be beautiful and inspiring and delightful. But it can also be ugly and painful and deadening. Different stories may focus on different points along the spectrum, and that’s okay. Or, sometimes they show one part of the spectrum with another in contrast. There is room in our collective imagination for many different kinds of stories, and ignoring or denying an entire category based on its tone diminishes us.

But we believe that we live in a universe where there are reasons for things that happen, whether those reasons exist in the natural world, in human agency, or in some sort of metaphysical dimension we don’t fully understand. So stories that are inexplicably cheerful, in which nothing ever goes wrong, are not realistic. But at the same time, stories that are pointlessly gritty, in which nothing goes right, are equally far-fetched.

In both cases, though, the problem isn’t with the tone of the story, but with the lack of causal connections between events.

(Source: swanghoulras)

Friday, September 6, 2013


I'm supposed to be writing fanfic and it's harrrrd. I feel drawn to my lesson plans (which are current but I could work ahead!) and journaling (this post about road narratives and the lack of female protagonists in them got me thinking about Mal and Captain Jack Sparrow and what happens with Elizabeth at the end of the third movie and the femSmuggler's romance in SWTOR) and I just want to do just about anything EXCEPT finish off this chapter that is SO freaking close to being done. It's frustrating. I am SO not a writer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Problem With Higher Standards

Sometimes I miss being ignorant of both my privilege and my oppression.

I went to see two movies this summer: Pacific Rim and Two Guns. I enjoyed both of them and went to see Pacific Rim two more times after I first watched it. And despite liking both movies, I couldn't help feeling disappointed. Maybe disappointed is too strong a word; perhaps 'dissatisfied' would be more accurate.

Both have lead characters who are POC (though none of them are a sole lead; they all share the spotlight with white dudes). Pacific Rim also has a female character as an action protagonist. She gets her own narrative arc that is about her development, rather than supporting the development of a male character.

Spoilers below.

Another friend wanted to see Two Guns after we'd already watched it once. And I just... I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it a second time. The first time through, the clever dialogue and the chemistry between Denzel and Marky Mark was enough to get me past the painfully hackneyed racial and gender tropes: a Mexican drug lord who is in cahoots with the CIA! domestics and thugs! and of course there's one female character who is of any significance and what happens? she gets fridged.


And I was just so bummed about it, because like... I want to be able to spend time with this friend, but I feel like no matter what I do, I'm excluded. Either I tag along and suffer through a movie that I'm not happy about and keep my mouth shut so everyone else can have fun, or I stay home by myself while everyone else has fun.

I'm tentatively hopeful about Saving Mr. Banks, though.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Another FemFreq Video!

After yesterday's rambling post, here's one that's nice and succinct!

Perhaps you're already familiar with Anita Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency, but if not, you totally need to check it out. Because if you're reading this (*crickets*) you're probably interested in critical analysis. There's a fascinating push-pull between a culture and its created works -- or should that be 'between created works and their culture'? Analysis is a way of looking at the individual pieces of each and how they fit together and how one piece perhaps influences others, and it's super intriguing.

Anyway, Sarkeesian recently produced the third video in her series Tropes vs. Women:

And -- big surprise here -- it's fantastic. May I say that I even love her outfit? I love that she wears a blue-and-pink (maybe salmon, but hey, that's a pink tone by my reckoning) plaid shirt. Is it a metaphor or just happy coincidence? I don't know, but it's awesome! And the familiarity of it just makes me smile. It reminds me of Mr. Rogers hanging up his jacket and putting on his cardigan. It's like, "yay, here's Anita again in her comfy shirt, and she's going to be calm and clever and just a wee bit adorably snarky."And she always is.

So you should watch the video!! Check out part 1 and part 2 if you haven't already seen them.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Change is something that interests me. For most of my life, I have had long (or at least, long-ish) hair. Part of this is because long hair is fairly easy to style - pull it back in a barrette or up in a ponytail and voila! - and also because I'm both cheap and lazy, and making an appointment, getting to the hairdresser, waiting my turn, getting the cut and then getting home often takes the better part of an afternoon, and I don't even want to think about the cost anymore.

When I was in college, I dyed my hair on a regular basis. Just wash-out stuff, though. My natural color is a nondescript "mousy brown" of the sort that female protagonists in YA novels complain about as The Most Boring Color Ever. When I went to Comic-Con, I met this one girl who had a fantastic turquoise dye job. Even then, though... I've just always been a bit uncertain about permanent dyes. They're so... permanent!

It also used to be incredibly thick. Back in 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after surgery I had chemo and radiation. Losing your hair is a common side effect, but it's not a sure thing. So I got mine chopped and donated it and went ahead and got highlights. (Meh.) It did end up coming out -- it was hard to tell at first, though, because my hair was so freaking thick that it shed a lot.

I wore wigs to work and around town. Although I had several scarves, I never really got the hang of them. But as weeks turned into months, I got more and more comfortable with my scraggly pate. One thing they don't tell you is that your hair still tries to grow and just keeps dying off because of the drugs. I was expecting a smooth, shiny noggin and I never got one.

When it grew back, it was curly at first, which is pretty common. By the next summer I had a full head of hair, and it had started coming in straight again. It's a little weird having hair that does two things, but I guess it's better to have it curly first then straight, with the curls at the ends, than vice versa! But I've noticed that it isn't nearly as thick as it used to be. Mostly, I'm glad. It doesn't shed nearly as much, it's a bit easier to style, and it looks more like hair is supposed to look, instead of giving me a perpetual mushroom-head. Even so, it still feels a little weird. When I sit back with my head against a pillow, there's just not as much there.

Also my eyebrows are now super-sparse and my face looks wrong to me. Fortunately it's pretty easy to take care of with eyebrow pencils. Or brown eyeliner, if I want something a little darker. Hell, even eyeshadow works. (As long as I don't use something funky like green or orange.)

More recently, I quit shaving my legs. I haven't been one for shorts or skirts for quite some time, so it's not really noticeable. Somehow, for no apparent reason, I wondered how long it would take for my legs to go past "scratchy" into "fluffy." My arm hair is super-soft and I wondered if my leg hair would be similar. I figured it wouldn't be exactly the same because the Hunk is a man, and so he isn't expected to shave his body hair, and his leg hair is a tiny bit coarser and curlier than his arm hair. Also I think it's not as long as it gets... though that varies.

Mine's the same way. It's soft and a little shaggy now. It doesn't lay as neatly as my arm hair does. Because I'm tall, I've always been self-conscious about wearing pants that showed anything above the ankle. Capris just look weird to me. And so for awhile I was even more self-conscious, because of course in our society women are expected not to have hair on their legs.

But I have some exercise wear that comes to mid-calf. Yes, it looks weird to me, but it was affordable and comfy, so I bought it. And it feels ever so daring to wear that when I go for a walk or run errands or something. I feel just the slightest bit scandalous! When I think about it, I can't help grinning at how silly it is -- oo, leg hair, sooo avant-garde. Whatever, Clix, you're a goofball.

I do still shave my nethers and under my arms. Too much hair down there feels odd, like I may have started my period without noticing. And to avoid being smelly I wear deodorant, and if there's hair under my arms it tends to tangle (ouch!) or get clumps (ew).

My attitude toward my body changes often, as I'm sure is the case for most women. I drift between being curious and impressed at the way that it works at some times and then at others vainly wishing it was more conventionally attractive. Sometimes it's both at the same time!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reflecting on Mary Sue

So I followed a link to this post on tumblr and it got me thinking (again) about Mary Sues. And then I was putzing around over on the ffn forums and saw this topic and its discussion and it got me thinking even more. So here's what I said:

First of all, I'm gonna say that I don't like the term Mary Sue for two reasons.

(A) It's been used so much to slander characters for so many different reasons (too many strengths, too few flaws or flaws that do not seem proportionate to the character's strengths, too unique [how is this even … ugh, that phrase is an offense to Standard English!] too easily successful, unlikely connections with significant canon characters - the list goes on) that it currently feels like a catchall slur for "I don't like this character and I'm too lazy to go into specifics."

(B) It's sexist. Let's say there's an idea for a new dude character with a tragic background that recalls the protagonist's own, world-class athletic ability, a rare hair color / eye color / complexion combination that matches the protagonist's, starts as an adorable, witty sidekick who softens the protagonist's hard heart, and grows into a freaking sex god who leads a team of superheroes despite being a vanilla mortal, because he's just THAT good… If this idea is pitched by a dude to a dude, not only is it not immediately scrapped, it might actually be accepted for publication and given its own series!

Dick Grayson, I love you, but you're a Mary Sue by anyone's reckoning.

And this was decades before the actual "Mary Sue" was ever written. I don't think it's remotely coincidental that the name we use to denote a type of character who is near-universally despised and mocked comes from a female character in a story with a female author.

The key to a character being labeled a Mary Sue is that the character's traits -- abilities, good looks, popularity and success -- seem unbelievable. It's kind of sad that despite having made significant progress in gender equity (women are allowed to own property! YEAH!) it's still much easier to believe in a man being competent, handsome, popular and successful than in a woman having those same qualities.  But I guess that's only reasonable, as it's a sad but honest reflection of our current cultural reality. Overall, women have to work much harder than men and accomplish more than their male peers to achieve a commensurate level of respect or even acknowledgement.

Further, traits that are typically coded female -- a focus on beauty, popularity, and romance -- are the ones that get the most heavy vilification from the anti-Sue critics. I doubt that this is a coincidence, either.

Finally, there are plenty of over-the-top characters that I enjoy despite (and perhaps even because of?) their Sue-ness. Dick Grayson is one, definitely, but also Jacky Faber and Kvothe, to name a couple others off the top of my head. Interestingly enough, the latter two are both redheads, and I can't remember but it wouldn't surprise me a bit if Kvothe had violet eyes.

So love your Sues! Give 'em hell, sure, but love them through it all.

Image credit: Mary Sue Academy on deviantArt

Thursday, August 1, 2013


So I write VERY slowly. I tend to be pretty happy with what I come up with, but it often is a bit of a grind to get something actually written.

One strategy that seems to help is what I call "paragraph-slinging." This is where I inflict my work in progress on someone else who's online at the same time as I am, usually via email or private messaging of some sort. It's often not more than a few sentences, and the only response I need is a question or comment or even "looks good! what happens next?" - some sort of continual push to keep me going.

I've started to be more proactive about my writing. I'm following a few more writing blogs and I've joined a couple of forums. But I've noticed that most people are very serious about their writing. And I'm kind of ... not? So I feel like something of a fraud, like I'm butting in where I don't belong.

I can't help wondering if there are communities out there of UNserious writers, people like me, who aren't interested in being published or even having a large following online. People who just like talking about stories, about what works and what doesn't and why.

It would be awesome to find something like that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Goodbye My Old Friends

I've been throwing books out today. And it's hard to describe just how hard that is for me.

You see, the ones that are going in the trash are ones that are old enough to have cracked spines that are causing the pages to come loose and fall out. And that means that most of them are MY BOOKS from when I was little.

Pippi Longstocking.
Where the Red Fern Grows.
A Little Princess.
The Sign of the Twisted Staircase.

It feels like I'm turning my back on an old friend. The very reason these books are no longer readable is because I've read and re-read and re-RE-read them so many times before. The words, the tone, the smell of the ink and the paper and the glue... it's all so familiar. I can pick up any one of them and open to any spot and immediately be drawn in and just lose myself in the story.

Even though I know how silly it is to feel such guilt, I can't seem to help it. And it is silly. The ones that are going into the trash are ones I've gotten newer copies of. There are others, like Magic Elizabeth, that I haven't replaced, and those are staying with me.

Aren't the words the important part? Why do I have such difficulty letting go of these old books?

Image Credit: Shelf Life

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

RE the "Fake Geek Girl" meme

So I've been surfing around The Mary Sue - I think somebody linked to a post about Xena - and ended up reading several articles about this meme, and their comment threads. It got repetitive very quickly.

The remarks that kept returning over and over and over were the following:
  • the "fake geek girl" meme isn't intended to apply to all girls who are geeks, just those who are posers
  • some girls dress hot at cons without knowing a lot of facts about the character/series/other characters/other media
  • "fake geek girls" give "true fans" a bad rep
  • some girls pretend to be into geekish works so that they can get attention from guys
  • people shouldn't have to "prove" their status as a fan

But what I didn't see much of was pushback on how one proves one's status as a "real fan" - apparently, by knowing a lot of stuff about the work in question, from the characters to the plot events to the in-work shoutouts to other works, to even knowing details about the creators and the other works they've been involved with. It's apparently a big deal among nerds if you can name all of the [insert character title here]. 

For all that science fiction is considered a geeky medium, knowing a bunch of facts seems an awfully old-fashioned kind of cred. I mean, with a wealth of information literally at most people's fingertips, how is keeping that same information in your head a mark of status anymore? It seems like an awful waste of time, to be honest. And it's not like it makes the world a better place. Fact-spewers haven't added anything to the continuum of human creation, nor does their memorization lend itself to shared experience. Instead of conversation that fosters a deeper relationship with others, these infodumps lend themselves more to competition, isolating each lonely nerd even further as he attempts to prove that he knows more, can recite more.


Why isn't there the assumption that real fans - hardcore fans - are fans who create? Roleplays, character memes, art of every nature and description, fanfic, playlists... COSPLAY. Dear lord, the cosplay. These are things that can be shared with others, that add to the collective experience of the fandom. The value of a bunch of memorized facts shrivels in comparison.

So the next time some dudebro asks me if I actually know who the original X-Men were, instead of either blowing him off or trying to prove I'm a fan by letting him interrogate me, I'll redirect and ask him what fanart he's drawn lately. Or what costume he's planning to wear later on. No? Well, fanfic, then. What's your handle on AO3? dA? FFN? ... what do you mean, you don't know what those are? Jeez, next you're gonna tell me you don't even have a tumblr!

I'll try to resist the temptation to accuse him of being a "fake geek guy," though it might be difficult. But if he's not a complete loser, hopefully he'll be able to recognize that there are many more ways of being a fan than he'd originally thought.