July 23, 2013

Here Is One Of Probably Millions Of Rants About What Bothers Me About The Castle Doctrine.

Jason Rohrer is a guy who I’m glad exists, overall. He’s just one of those insane visionary types, and you can’t help but respect his single vision and urge to create art. Many of those attempts work (Passage is pretty good, and I’ve heard great things about Diamond Trust of London, though I have not played it). Some of them don’t, really (Remember Sleep is Death? Oh man). With The Castle Doctrine, he’s kind of on his way to another failure.

I’m sure I’m not the only person writing about this. People were already complaining the moment he announced it. But I recently read an interview with him about the game on Rock Paper Shotgun, and I am just overwhelmed at how much he himself is not seeing what he’s doing and how ineffective, at best, and offensive, at worst, it is. I’ll let others ramble on about how he’s creating a world where all women are literally objects worth money, a treasure that must be protected with no free will, because that’s certainly there. There is so much he has said about this game that is just offensive. I just want to talk about how it certainly sounds like he’s not even accomplishing what he’s trying to do.

If you read the Rock Paper Shotgun interview, you’ll see him repeating one thing over and over. He wants you to care. He wants you to care about your house, your family, he wants you to care. He wants you to invest emotion into his game. He wants you to care about it! It doesn’t work without that!

I think it’s very possible to care about his game. I think the themes he is going for, of being scared, of wanting to feel secure, and of never knowing if you are or not, are very universal themes that could speak volumes and be really reflected in a game of the general sort he’s putting forward. I think I could really get into that. But the game is created to make it as hard to care as possible.

In the game, you are male, and you have a family that consists of a wife, a son, and a daughter. These characters are randomly generated and randomly named. You have no control over them. You have to protect them by building traps. If your wife dies, you lose half your money, so you best keep her alive, but there’s no gameplay reason to keep the kids alive, so, you know. Do what you will with them. Maybe they can be bait. You can also buy dogs to protect your house. They’ll probably be shot, then just you can just buy another, why not?

I’m not a male. My family does not consist of a wife, a son, and a daughter. The number of potential players who fit that description are relatively low. Even if you’re the male part of a married straight couple with two kids, one girl and one boy, the characters in the game are not going to resemble your family in any way. They’re just virtual doodads. They’re bragging rights. “My kids aren’t dead in the game yet, I’m good at this game.” That’s all it is. Rohrer sees this, and his solution was to make the wife simply be a method of keeping some of your money. So now you care about her as a person even less, since she’s simply your cash personified. Awesome.

Anyone who has played a game like the recent XCOM: Enemy Unknown knows the value of assigning people in your life to people in the game. It means more when that soldier you named after your best friend bites it, because you aren’t getting him back. Perhaps it’s not a TON of investment, but it is way more than if he was just a random dude with a random name, since that investment is probably 0, maybe a little more if he’s leveled up a few times. There’s extra agony to it, losing this monument to a relationship you find important, you know?

If Rohrer wants me to care about this virtual family, I should be able to make it like my real family, which consists of an awesome male partner and a puppy dog. I should be able to customize them to make them, and myself, look close to our real counterparts, at least as far as the graphics allow. Then I care a bit more. Then coming home and seeing the dead pixel body of my dog, Mr. Q, on the ground from where he tried to protect my house means something. Fuck, I got a pang of sadness just picturing that just now. NOW it’s important to protect the house. Now I’m invested. Roll me up a random family, and they are just stats to show my skill, and nothing more.

Rohrer claims that making the game work this way would ruin his artistic vision. He compares it to movies. Let me quote what he said.

Well yeah, but then it wouldn’t be my personal art. It would just be this pandering product. This is a game that’s from my perspective, just like in Passage the main character is me. So you don’t get to play as the girl, because I’m not a girl. Just like if you go to see the movie Memento, no-one walks out of that saying ‘why isn’t there a version of this where there’s a girl with memory problems?’ It’s the personal statement of the director who is making this and telling the story, and you don’t even question it, but for some reason in games we question it, because we’re so much stuck into the role of this character.

This is such a nonsense defense I don’t know where to begin.

In Passage, you’re playing through a linear narrative. You can change the outcome, unlike a movie, but like a movie, you’re telling a linear story. You’re telling one person’s story. As such, it’s cool to be in someone else’s shoes, and see someone else’s story. You’re on a train track to the end. It’s expected. What’s more, in a movie especially, this main character is, well, a character. It’s not a player avatar. It’s a complete person with hopes, dreams, and goals, and we see that throughout scripted scenes. Someone has crafted a person for us to engage our minds with. Even in Passage, it’s clear this character is not you. I mean, I don’t have any desire to open treasure boxes. Most people don’t. He’s a particular person. He’s a character, even if not a deeply fleshed out one.

In The Castle Doctrine, there is no character. It’s a massively multiplayer game. Everyone is making their own houses, their own way, by Rohrer’s own design. There is not a set arc. It does not reflect Rohrer’s actual reality in any way, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that the dude I am in this game is a particular person, since every player in this multiplayer game is him, any more than when I pick the Marcus Fenix skin in Gears of War, I don’t truly believe I’m playing the one and only Marcus, and nobody else is him, since tons of other people are playing as him online at that exact moment. The only character that exists in The Castle Doctrine is the character I put into it, and I’m not going to invest in those avatars without reason. Rohrer is actively discouraging me from investing with his game design. There is a reason I name every character in every game I play that lets me enter a name Alexis (or Alex if I can’t be a lady for some reason). It’s because then I’m more invested. I build that character up with skills I would want. I make them my own. I invest in them, and try to shape them into me, or a much cooler version of me who can throw fireballs.

Rohrer is right. He can make any game he wants, any way he wants. He doesn’t have to have a female playable character. He doesn’t have to let the player be gay or whatever they might want. He has that power as designer of the game. But by making these decisions, he’s not protecting himself from pandering. He’s protecting himself from success at his goal: conveying those feelings of being scared for his family and wanting to protect them. Without investment in what is going on besides being the best at the game, those feelings are not going to be felt by the player. If art can’t transfer those feelings, the type that can’t be explained in text and can’t be spoken, then it’s not very good art. Rohrer is not making very good art with The Castle Doctrine. It’s a shame, and maybe the end result will prove me wrong. But from what he’s saying, I kind of doubt it.

July 18, 2013

This is a rant about being a furry that may not mean anything to you.

I got this book in the mail. It’s that Furoticon book I ordered like… years ago? At least 3 years ago. It’s really weird. Like… the cover is just… awful. As a non-artist that has put together acceptable cover art for physical books, it just looks cheap and self-publish-y. They even had this like… preview I got years ago, and it’s cover looks WAY better. Still not great, but way better. Why didn’t they use that one? I don’t even know. It’s also a porn novel with pictures, but none of the pictures are pornographic. I have no idea.

It’s an amazing thing, and I think it’s awesome. I think it’s awesome that someone wanted to make a porn book to tie in to a porn card game and wanted it to be so good that they were still working on it THREE YEARS LATER and they actually got it made and it’s actually here, in my paws. I think that’s amazing. I’m going to read it, and I have my doubts about the writing quality. I might be surprised, but either way, I love that this exists, and I’m sure I’ll have fun reading it.

What I don’t love is how serious it takes itself, by it’s very existence.

I heard that this furry porn card game was at Origins. Origins! Like, I’m not going to say that they can’t go to Origins, because that would be dumb. But they’re trying to run a business, and apparently a furry con was going on ACROSS TOWN. Where are you going to make the most sales, dudes? Where are people going to come to your tournaments? Seriously. Why would a normal, non-furry gamer care about a product where every card has furry porn art on it? I really don’t know.

But I feel like the reason they made that decision is because they’re taking themselves too seriously.

Like, okay, I will be the FIRST to extoll the benefits, virtues, and awesomeness of furry culture. It’s a fun, sex-positive, completely accepting atmosphere that honestly has a lot to do with why I’m a pretty good person in a pretty good place with a fucking awesome significant other. I still label myself a furry because it is a part of me, and I’m not about to run from it. I love every messed up, sick part of it, even if it’s not my thing. I love that there’s a place for it to exist, and I love that it tends to, on the whole, collect open-minded, fun-loving people I like being around.

But it’s really silly.

Like, if someone were to, for some reason, ask me my species, I would say I was a foxbunny. I am also prepared to explain that I am but 1/4th rabbit, and why that is, and that it only really shows in my ears and maybe my tail if you look hard enough. I can tell you who of my relatives are what species, and why.

That’s really silly. And I love it. But it’s silly. Like, if you were to follow up your question with “That’s weird. You’re a human.” I would agree. But it’s more fun to be a foxbunny. It’s more fun to be silly.

It’s fun to be a furry because you get to embrace silly, insane things, and it’s okay. You can let your imagination run wild, and come up with the most mundane or the most fucked up fantasies in the world, and other furries will just nod, and go “okay, sure,” and move on. I knew a furry whose fetish was removing someone’s still-beating heart and listening to it, pressed up against his ear. I knew a furry who would only have sex with balloons. Nobody batted an eye at this. They went, “Cool,” and went on as per normal. I love that. I love that acceptance. But you can’t say that those fetishes aren’t silly. You really can’t.

We all have that crazy, silly side. Furries just know how to let it out. The problem is, they then set that as the new baseline. This is the new serious. This is what to care about. When you do that, you’re totally out of sync with everything. And that creates issues. That creates what few problems people see with the furry community.

When you double down on something being serious that isn’t, trying to make it more important than it is, you build barriers. You shelter yourself. You’re doing the opposite of embracing that furry inside you: you’re denying who you are, and saying you have something to be embarrassed about. By fighting, oftentimes you are doing way more harm than good.

There are groups that need to fight. These are groups that had no choice in something that they are, and don’t deserve mistreatment. They have to fight because there is no other way. They have to in order to stop being stepped on, and get the rights they deserve. Hell, because the furry community is so awesome, many, many furs from these groups are a part of it. But we furries chose to be furries. (I suppose some otherkin types might consider it otherwise, but I feel most would agree with me if they’re being honest.) We may get made fun of from time to time, and that’s shitty, to be sure. Yes, it should be otherwise. But fuck, have some perspective. By elevating this to that level, you make yourself seem idiotic. It is clearly not a fight on the same level. It is dumb to have it that way.

You don’t get acceptance for things on this level from fighting with people. You get accepted by not having to guard yourself, because there’s no reason to. Someone says being a furry is fucked up? Some thing you like is weird and terrible? You shrug. You say, yeah, but it’s a lot of fun. You aren’t hurting anyone. You have nothing to hide. You’re someone having a good time with friends also having a good time. That confidence sends the right signal. Screaming does not. Hiding your passions and your fun under a barrel in your room also sends the wrong signal. Who gives a shit about what other people think, anyway? If you cared, why did you become a furry in the first place, you know? You’re a furry to chase your dreams and fantasies, to whatever extreme they might be. Who cares what others think?

They say that, after those horrible Fifty Shades books came out, sales on rope acceptable for bondage skyrocketed. Because suddenly, here was something mainstream, with BDSM (of the tame variety, from what I hear, to be fair), that showed it was okay to want to try that. Suddenly, it was more accepted, and not because a bunch of people went out of the streets with their slaves and yelled at people who looked at them funny. Here’s something that people actually saw, that treated it as no big deal, and suddenly it was. A choice, a fantasy, accepted because it has nothing to hide. It’s something your mom could read. I know my mom did. My mom read about the kind of weird stuff I do in my bedroom! Weird, but cool. Maybe that’s a bad example, but I feel like that’s what I’m talking about. It becomes “normal” because it’s treated that way. That’s all it takes. You fight for rights taken from you, legal, etc. You scream and rant about those. But being accepted, well, you just treat it as already that way, and thus, it eventually is.

I feel pushed out of the furry community nowadays. I don’t really want to be. But I don’t have the energy to take it seriously. I don’t have time to spend role-playing with awesome furs for hours every night anymore. And because I can’t really insert myself into that serious narrative any more, I feel like I’m pushed against. Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe not. But it makes me sad, because I still love all that stuff that drew me in in the first place. I love it. But because I can’t treat it as the be-all-end-all of my existence, I feel like I’m out of the club. I find I know a lot of people who “used to be a furry” who probably got out for similar reasons, at least in some small part. I also know some furs that are in deep, and say things like they’re worried about having no non-furry friends, because they just have this feeling that they’re drinking the kool-aid, and becoming part of this overly serious world, and forgetting the fun that got them there in the first place. All that really sucks.

Furries, be your awesome selves. Seriously. Be as far from vanilla as you can be, and enjoy the shit out of it. But just realize that, when someone looks at what you’re doing, and calls it weird, or silly, accept it, at the same time as you accept that’s why it’s so great. Life is better when you don’t take yourself so seriously, because deep down, every person on the face of this earth is weird as fuck. That’s not the agreed on baseline, nor should it be, really, because if it was, it wouldn’t be so fun, would it? Have fun.

April 2, 2013

Being Taken Seriously

Hi. I’m going to blog for a sec. That cool? Cool.

I read, over and over, all of these stories of women in tech and gaming being completely and totally insulted, disrespected, and disregarded on twitter like… constantly. I’m not one to get angry at politics and things of that nature outside my pet issues. It’s a flaw, I guess. But I find, more and more, this is a pet issue for me. These stories make me hurt, and make me furious, and make me thankful that I am surrounded by awesome people and awesome co-workers for the most part and don’t have to deal with this bullshit.

But it’s more than that, I guess.

I grew up with all male friends, doing “male” things, and generally loving how I spent my time and who I spent it with. When I finally got to be myself, I didn’t lose many of the people I grew up with. As a result, they know me. They know what I am capable of. They know my passions. They know when I should be taken seriously. They know I’m female. It doesn’t really affect things at all, besides a few jokey jokes that I know are jokes that, frankly, I’m glad they feel comfortable making, because it means my identity is clear in their heads, which means a lot to me.

But it makes me wonder. Because when we’re really in the groove, doing things we used to love and still do, they forget. Simple slips, simple mixups, and quickly corrected. Nothing I’m angry or even annoyed about, though they do sometimes catch me off guard. Example: We started playing Magic again. We hadn’t done that in years, way before I transitioned, and when we play, I find that pronouns sometimes slip the wrong way. It’s like a muscle memory. Automatic. Nothing meant by it. It’s there, though. And it makes me wonder if a lot of the respect I get in the sort of areas these women are talking about in their horrible stories are because of my background. That I’m still, in some respect, in that “male” box in some dusty, discarded box in the back of their head, and that affects things.

Recently, my brother and sister-in-law had a party, and invited a couple I had never seen before. CJ and I struck up a conversation with the guy of the couple, and as things do around us, the conversation turned to video games. I quickly had a revelation while this conversation was going on: he would never look at me. He was having a conversation with CJ, and not with the both of us, because I was the female, and thus not a gamer. Even when I’d chime in, clearly knowledgable, he’d quickly move back to CJ, even to respond to things I said. Not in an insulted or frustrated way or anything. In no way am I saying this guy was being mean. He had a super cool wife and super cool kids and seemed really nice. He clearly didn’t realize he was doing it. CJ didn’t realize it was going on until I talked to him afterward either. If I had pointed it out, he would have apologized like crazy. But it wasn’t an important thing.

Compared to the kind of stories you see out there every day, this was obscenely minor and in no way a big deal. But it stuck in my head afterwards, as I realized it was one of the first times I had ever been disregarded for my gender like that. (That might not be true, now that I think about it. I faced a lot of pushback trying to head up the makeup crew on shows back in the day. But first time for my REAL gender, anyway.) And I sat there and pictured that happening to me every day on things like that, where I really care and know a whole damn lot, and fuck, the thought was pretty awful.

I read this stuff and I wonder why I never see it, really, in my life. Is it because of residual “maleness” or just knowing better how to communicate with them, having lived among them? (I feel like I am a better communicator because of my past, but I don’t think that’s what the problem is in all the stories I hear by a long shot.) Is it just that I am a really awesome judge of character and surround myself with the coolest dudes? (That is certainly true regardless, but may not be affecting this particular thing.) Am I just somehow better at sticking up for myself than most? (Feels unlikely where I’m standing.) I really don’t know.

All I can agree on is that it’s total bullshit that this stuff happens to people, and I’m glad people are pushing back.

January 25, 2013

Show The Bright Side

A blog? What?

Recently, I’ve been playing some little art games that are trying to capture the transgendered experience. I replayed dys4ia before sharing with my class recently, and I just now played a game called Mainichi which was a little RPG Maker experiment that worked pretty well. I think trying to capture this stuff is a fine idea. The vast majority of people just don’t “get it,” even if they are supportive, or think they are. I get wanting to make it clear what’s going on, to some extent.

I just wish they weren’t so negative.

I mean, there are plenty of negatives, don’t get me wrong. And as a, you know, education vector, those are things important to encapsulate and show to people. I’m not arguing that. But it’s a standard “more flies with honey” kind of thing, right? Wouldn’t it be more effective to help people kind of share in the joy of becoming yourself for the first time? Because there is a lot of joy in it. That would help them understand too, wouldn’t it? Nobody ever emphasizes that part. That first moment when you look in the mirror and see yourself and for the first time, you look like the person you’ve always been in your head. That moment when you buy something you never would have been allowed to wear before, and go out in it. That moment when a random person at a store correctly genders you for the first time in your life. That moment when a PARENT correctly genders you for the first time. There’s a lot of bright spots in the experience, and maybe, one could argue, they’re few and far between, but they make it all worth it, don’t they? I think so.

Maybe a lot of people have it worse than me. I wouldn’t be surprised. But I mean, I’m in the middle of goddamn Missouri and things are going well for me. It always helps to focus on the positive, even if maybe I’m often bad at it. And hey, maybe that’s why there’s so much negative in most of these games. Because it is hard to think positive when most of your life, you’ve been overwhelmingly depressed from this stuff. It is hard. And you think about the bad things. The asshole who ruined your day with a stupid, offhand comment. How hard it’s going to be to save the money for that surgery. But it’s just a thing. They’re all just things. And there are better things.

This all may have something to do with me getting somewhat drunk last night and telling everyone I could listen how awful and fucked up I am. But that’s just the bad part of my brain talking. I don’t believe it. I know things are wonderful. I’d like to share that, and not despair. That would be better, right?

October 30, 2012

Rapid Fire Ramblings: Nerves, Halloween Costume, Save Bugs

Sometimes I really wonder about myself. More and more often, I’ll just be overcome by waves of panic. I’ll just have this feeling something is wrong, or I’ve done something wrong. It’s a really shitty feeling. I’m nervous constantly. I’m honestly really fucking tired of it. I mean, I have people who support me and calm me down, but it’s annoying to me that they have to. I should be able to stand on my own. I shouldn’t spend every morning curled up in a ball, freaking out about not having something done. I shouldn’t be so nervous and worked up that when I pull out of the driveway, I accidentally bump into my boyfriend’s car and scratch the paint because I’m having trouble focusing on such a simple task. That shouldn’t be how I live my life. I really wonder what’s changed and what I can do about this… Bleh.

On a more positive note, though, it’s Halloween tomorrow, and I have a costume. This is totally weird. I never even thought of trying to have a costume, because it wasn’t like I could be any character I actually wanted to be because of gender bullshit. This is the first year where that’s not been an issue, and I took action on it, and I’m really excited to wear my dumb Twilight Sparkle outfit out and about. I really, truly am. I’m a lame brony furry person, but fuck it, I get to dress up how I want to and that rules. RULES. I am so excited. I hope people don’t mind pictures of my outfit being shared, because it will happen.

I have been playing Virtue’s Last Reward. More about that later, probably, but it is awesome. The thing is, though, the 3DS version has some really horrible bugs that can wipe your progress, which is just… ugh. How did those not get fixed while they were translating? It’s a damn shame. Apparently the Vita version does not have these problems, but I don’t have a Vita, so I had to get the 3DS version. It just really bums me out, but at least I know about the bugs and can play around them. If you’re going to play the game, do, but be sure to check up on the bugs first so you don’t lose a lot of progress.

Anyway, I guess I should get back to teaching instead of rambling. Whee.

October 27, 2012

The Illusion of Greener Grass I Can’t Prove Doesn’t Exist Lingers Endlessly In My Head, Making Me Feel Like A Shitty Girlfriend And Write Long Blog Titles

So here’s a blog about some really potentially awkward stuff relating to, you know, sex. Not that I’m going to get all graphic or whatever. But if that’s not something you want to know about me, this isn’t the blog for you. But this is a thing I’m trying to think out, so I write about it, so… uh, anyway…

You alright with everything? Sure? Alright, cool.

For awhile now, basically all my sexual fantasies have been about women.

Now, I mean, sure, that’s not weird. I mean, you know, I like ladies. Ladies are a thing I like. And there’s nothing wrong with having a sexy daydream now and again. But it’s just kind of getting to the point where it’s bothering me. I find myself wandering off in these thought processes when I have a lovely jackal like 3 feet away who would throw me onto the bed and do so many nice things with me if I even vaguely mentioned it. If I’m horny, I have a fantastic solution. But my head never seems to click into that. It clicks into ladies. And this frustrates me because, again, nice boyfriend jackal I would like to be intimate with more often, but my head isn’t cooperating.

I wouldn’t normally be writing about all that, but recently I came up with a theory as to why, so I thought I’d run it by you.

I want to do the sexy times with ladies instead of my man because some subconscious part of me thinks it is safer.

When I do things with my boyfriend, there are a lot of things I cannot do that I desperately want to do. I am physically incapable as I am now. Hopefully someday that will not be the case, but for now, it’s just a fact. He’s lovely, and he’s sweet, and he makes me melt and get into this quite subby mode most of the time. And I sit there, squirming and making happy noises and stuff. And my brain… starts thinking about what I want to do. Which are things I cannot do. But I want them. I want them so bad. But I can’t do them. And this works me into a sort of panic. When the time comes to do the things I can do, often this will set me off and I’ll start crying and generally be fucking lame. Overall, this stuff is worth it. I am so lucky I have a partner who will take it slow and understands my issues here. I am so fucking lucky, for serious. But it’s disappointing every time I break down like that, and it keeps happening. I don’t want that disappointment. Preferably this would happen with me getting over my stupid self and just, you know, enjoying myself. But I’m so wrapped up in mental bullshit, that’s hard to do.

I feel like my body is trying to keep me away from that. Generally, with women, I am much more dom. I am in control. When I am in control, anything I don’t want to happen or I’m worried about clearly won’t happen. And so, my subconscious goes, if you were having sex with a lady, you wouldn’t be having these issues.

I don’t really believe I wouldn’t be having similar problems. I know I would, in fact. Hell, I do take a more dommy role at times with my jackal too, and while I do tend to keep myself under control more, I still freak out. If that’s all it is that’s supposed to protect me, I can do that now, if I wanted to, and do, from time to time. Still, problems are there. Since I’m not in a “sex with a lady is possible” situation right now, I can’t PROVE that I would have similar problems to the little voices in my head, you know? So they say I wouldn’t. And I fantasize about that. And here we are.

Basically, my mind and my body are the lamest goddamn things. Maybe now that I’ve rationalized why I’m thinking the way I am, I can move past it and get back to enjoying myself. I hope so.

October 23, 2012

Pills Are Scary.

Yesterday, I felt horrible. I was so constantly nervous I was sick to my stomach. I didn’t feel like I could interact with anyone. I felt useless and awful and wanted to no longer exist.

This morning I feel perfectly fine. Not happy, perse. I mean, I’m up early to work and I have to get going to work soon. Hard to be super pumped about that. But I’m functional. I don’t feel like garbage. I’m fine.

Hormones are scary shit.

The theory on why yesterday was such a horrible situation for me revolved around me forgetting to take a pill the day before. See, most of my pills I take in the morning. I never forget those. I take them when I get up with a little breakfast. But one particular pill I have to take twice a day. I’m supposed to take them with food, so I always try to wait until dinner, but often I’m out of the house, or doing this or that, and I totally forget. Most of the time I end up taking them late, but I still take them, and it’s not a huge deal. (Mostly, because that pill is a diuretic, I have to get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break if I take them late, but that’s the only bad side effect.) The day before yesterday, though, I was so tired and burnt out, I just went straight to bed and didn’t take them at all.

Then yesterday happened. I didn’t put two and two together. The pill in question is a testosterone suppressant. Testosterone is supposed to make you angry, not depressed, right? Plus, most of the rare times when I miss those pills, I do feel a little down, but nothing near this bad. Then again, that night before was kind of a shitty night, and that morning I broke my cell phone, so those things probably compounded to set off a depression attack.

Basically, it honestly just kind of scares me that such things can fuck me up so much. Like, I know, on an intellectual level, that these hormones and things run this stuff in my body. I do get that. But it’s still really disturbing to look back at myself, a mess, and realize that it was a stupid little pill so small that I could fit like 3 of them on a penny that was the culprit. I mean, I know my body SHOULD be taking care of this stuff without help, but it doesn’t, so here I am. And I’m silly. And I forget. And then horrible hide in bed suicidal day occurs. So shitty.

I’m going to do my best not to let that happen again.

October 19, 2012

A Fantastic Show About Ladies Kissing And Wanting To Kiss Each Other.

I don’t really know why I’m back in the groove of blogging more often, but I guess I won’t complain.

I do some really annoying shit sometimes. Like, I’m in a fucking fantastic relationship, one I hope lasts for as long as I can imagine existing. I’m so happy. But I’m stupid. I’m bisexual. I like ladies. I often want to hug on them and smooch them. So I get into these moments when I’m just kind of obsessed with doing so. It makes me feel very ungrateful for what I have, which is shitty. I don’t think CJ minds too much, though, seeing as he sneaks me dirty pictures of ladies he thinks I’ll like on a regular basis.

The point is, I was in one of those moods, and I decided I was going to try to deal with it for once by watching a show about ladies smooching. I asked twitter, and an expert on romantic anime and things of that nature got back to me (thanks, tungwene!) and suggested I watch a show called Aoi Hana. I sought it out, tried it, and it was exactly what I was wanting. So awesome. I mean, it has that thing where they’re making a short series from a long-running manga, which means everything is not wrapped up completely at the end? That’s kind of frustrating. But what’s there is very well done and very engaging. It’s awesome.

Seriously, you look at anime, and you just despair in general, but shows like this kind of make you regain faith in humanity. The main character, Fumi, being gay isn’t like… a thing for fanservice, or a thing just thrown in there. It’s as complicated as it is at that age, especially in Japan, which is kind of accepting of such things but kind of not. Add to that that she’s friends with a bunch of people going to a Catholic school, or at least what looks like one to me, and it really gets tense. There’s this great scene where she feels like she has to come out to her good friend Aachan, and she’s sobbing and saying “Please don’t think I’m disgusting…” and it’s just heartbreaking. I mean, you kind of know it’s not going to be a problem? The two of them are in the opening sequence running about, hand in hand, and even naked at one point. But it’s just… realistic, I feel. I certainly freaked out similarly coming out to people close to me.

At the same time, it’s not like “I’m a lesbian” is her complete character. She’s a person, and while the relationship concerns of a teenager are aimed at girls and not boys, she still acts like a teenager and an actual human being would at most points. Near the end of the series, there was a situation set up where Fumi saw Aachan shopping with a boy, and freaked out about it. I said to myself, “Oh no, not a WACKY MISUNDERSTANDING that’s going to set off fights for a long while! How stupid.” But it wasn’t like that at all. She moped about it for awhile, then almost instantly sought an explanation for what happened, and moved on. You know, like a person would, and not a sitcom character. I breathed a sigh of relief there.

It’s a good show, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, it got me thinking about why I can watch this sort of thing. I enjoy this kind of character and romance driven drama quite a bit, when I find one that works for me. It often leaves me a bit depressed, or worked up, in the way that something dramatic and sad can move you, though. This is a feeling I tend to avoid, thanks to years of being depressed and not wanting to set off an episode. Avoiding that feeling is something that keeps me from watching all these dramas that CJ likes with him, because I just don’t want to deal with that. Yet when the plot is romance-based, I dive right in. I feel like such a girl. Heh. I don’t know. I’ve always been more interested in character interaction than plot, and when the plot is based almost solely on romance, that’s what you get. Lots and lots of character interaction. Maybe it’s as simple as that. I don’t know.

Whatever reason I can watch it, though, I’m glad I did. If you like that sort of thing, you should check it out too, okay?

October 17, 2012

Dream Journal: An Unwanted Encounter

I had a dream Tuesday night, but not like a Martin Luther King Jr. dream. You know, a dream, dream. It was also really weird and kind of upsetting, but I wouldn’t classify it as a nightmare. I didn’t wake up all flustered and messed up like I do so often from nightmares. I don’t know what to think about it.

I was myself, with my body, in this dream, which is odd in itself. Normally I’m just kind of a formless blob of me-conciousness, but I have no real concept of my form in the dream. Probably comes from years of feeling basically disassociated with my body, I guess. Anyway, I was on some sort of college campus, and there was some sort of big event going on. However, I had ducked out. I was in some side hallway a bit off of where things where going on. There were offices and meetings around, and bathrooms. Some people were working in the offices. Every so often someone from the show would pass on the way to the bathroom.

For whatever reason, someone I haven’t really seen since high school came up to me and started a conversation. (I recognized him. He wasn’t just like… generic guy that in dream-logic I knew from high school. I’m just not going to name him for reasons that will be obvious in a second here.) I seem to remember being worried that things were going to be awkward, what with all my changes, but no, he was being nice, and we were talking and having a good time. We started walking deeper back into the hallway. Once we got a little farther away from everything, though, he started gently but firmly pushing me to my knees. Not saying anything. Just did it. It was a command, but it wasn’t like… do this or I’ll hurt you? He seemed to just assume I would. I was confused as shit, but being the dumb submissive bitch I am, fell down to my knees. You can then maybe guess where this is going. In that same insistent, but not attacking manner, he forced me to give him a blowjob. I was worried as shit in the dream for a variety of reasons, a big one being getting caught, because people could still walk past, and also what CJ would think of this happening to me. But for whatever frustrating in retrospect reason, I wouldn’t put up anything more than token resistance. I was in full-on submission mode.

Then I woke up.

I really don’t know what to make of this. As far as the guy in the dream goes, we were on friendly terms, but never really close. He was closer to some other friends of mine, so we often were in the same place and were acquainted that way, you know? Last time I saw him, at our class reunion, he still used the wrong pronouns with me (not surprising, as he probably just found out like that day about everything) and we didn’t really talk much. I always thought he was a cool enough guy, but the way he treated women always bothered me. He kind of treated them like shit, with constant “jokey” sexist stuff pretty well constantly that I couldn’t help but take as serious since it was basically all he did. Yet everyone said he was a perfect gentleman and great to his girlfriends, so who knows. I do know it bothered the shit out of me that there was such a clear difference in how he treated guys and girls, and I was on the wrong side of that. I remember getting very upset about that and trying to hide it when I was around him and a girlfriend. Maybe there’s something there with all that?

It also just kind of disturbs me after the fact that what happened in the dream was rape-like in nature. I remember distinctly not WANTING to do that. I just didn’t feel like I could say no. And that experience resulted in me waking up calm and collected, whereas dreams about stupid shit like “I can’t get back to Cape in time to teach my class” have me freaking out and needing to just lie there and breathe for awhile to be able to function when I wake up, because I’m so nervous and overwhelmed. Why was my subconscious okay with that?

Is this some sort of fucked up thing where I want to be treated like garbage like that because then I’m “in” and have more of a claim to being myself? Because that is a shitty thing for my subconscious to think. But it’s not like I really get sexist treatment. At least, I haven’t really experienced much of it. Granted, I’m normally in the classroom in a position of power, being the teacher, and I’m normally putting off a pretty masculine aura, even when I don’t mean to. I mean, I don’t mind. I’m just being myself. But like… when I address guys, I address them on wavelength similar to two guys talking to each other, because I know how to do that. I know that quiet, unwritten kind of code, seeing as I had to decipher it to survive through my childhood. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, perse. But I do think that, likely, if I was going to get any of that kind of treatment, that shuts that down in people’s heads a lot quicker and it doesn’t happen. I get a lot more harassment on homosexual sort of grounds than sexist stuff. (Not that I get that a lot either, but, you know, plenty of people yelling at me out of cars as they drive by. Joy.) I don’t know. Does all that even make sense? I certainly have been reading a lot about people being complete fucking creepy assholes to women lately. I could believe all that was in my head.

I really just don’t know. Trying to interpret dreams is kind of hard. Thoughts?

October 12, 2012

“Behind Closed Doors”

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a furry. I mean, just look at the goddamn header. It’s something I identify with, like, and support. Some of the most awesome friends I’ve had are furries, or, well, sort of self-proclaimed “former furries,” and I feel like one of the main reasons why we all get along so well, and we’re all so awesome, is because of this sort of general attitude of acceptance and celebration of what we love, regardless of how silly it is, that the fandom is full of. Just like any group of people out there, there are plenty who take things too far, or who are total dicks, and whom I generally want to slap and tell to grow up. But so many are just awesome people, and I love them to death. Friendship-wise, I mean. Besides the boyfriend. And maybe a former lover or two I’m still really close to. Heh.

I guess I worry, though, that being in this insular community where everyone is cool with everything changes your perspective. It makes me wonder if that’s a bad thing. It makes me wonder where the “normal” perspective is, and if knowing that and maintaining that actually has any value. It makes me wonder if a “normal” perspective is naturally bad for people, and that by trying to adhere to it, I’m just making things shitty for others. I wonder.

Anyway, I’m going to talk about a thing and the people involved in that thing, which I won’t name, might see it. If you are one of them, I hope it doesn’t seem passive-aggressive, because that is not my intent. I know saying that makes it seem MORE like my intent, but seriously, I don’t mean for it to. It just put me in a weird head space, and when I get in a weird head space, I need to write it out to figure it out. So here I am.

I have a bunch of furry friends who are going to a convention soon. I’m super pumped for them as they’ve known each other and been close way longer than I have known them (they were nice enough to try to involve me in their pony watching nights, which I gladly joined and got to know them from) and this is, from what I understand, the first time most of them will all be the in same physical location at the same time, which is super thrilling. Recently, though, they were talking about the more… mature things they were planning to get up to at the con in detail on twitter. Because I follow them all, I could see all the @ replies back and forth and see the whole conversation. It really struck me as… weird?

I’m no prude or anything. They’re all awesome people, and adults, and they can have fun any damn way they’re comfortable with and I will shake my pom-poms and cheer them on. And a lot of their discussion was talking about being safe, and what’s acceptable and what isn’t, which are conversations that totally should happen in such a situation. That’s healthy. That’s cool. But it was in a public forum, you know? They weren’t writing pornography or anything, but they were being very open about their sex lives, likes, and dislikes in a public forum. They were making plans. It just seemed really inappropriate to me.

Then I realized almost all of them had their accounts locked, so nobody could see it except people they approved and they weren’t just yelling all this stuff in public, and I calmed down a little. I mean, if we were all in a chat room and they were discussing this, I wouldn’t be freaked out. Since they were all locked up, this was the same way. I just didn’t realize it to begin with, because I just kind of assume everything on twitter is out there for everyone to see. That’s how I run my account, anyway. I was weirded out over literally nothing. But it just kind of got me thinking about why I felt that sort of thing should be done behind closed doors, right? Why did I think it was inappropriate when I thought they were talking about that in public?

When I first was trying to transition, my mother tried to shame me into not doing it because “that sort of thing should happen behind closed doors.” She was wrong there, for many reasons, and I’m not shy about being who I am. But at the same time, I wouldn’t talk about what I actually do and actually like, except in maybe the vaguest of terms, on here, or in public. If I like you and you want to ask me, fuck yes, we can sit down and talk about it, but I’m going to keep that stuff quiet or at least not in your face.

In a similar way to how me being female is way way more than how I prefer things in the bedroom, though, a lot of people take other things of that nature to be a core part of who they are. People live extremely BDSM Master/Slave sort of lifestyles, for example, and that’s awesome for them. Yet that’s kind of awkward to talk about in public. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with people casually mentioning that. Same thing with being poly. I mean, I did that, and I wasn’t going to deny I was dating multiple people? But I still didn’t explain the fact that I had multiple boyfriends except when it was necessary to, or someone asked me. It seemed inappropriate to go about yelling that. But there are people for whom that is a serious way of life. It’s who they are, and their little family is important to them. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they couldn’t discuss their family. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they can’t mention all the nice things they do together. But it would make me feel weird if they drew a lot of attention to it.

I guess I’m just wondering where that comes from. Is it “normal” to keep that stuff hush hush? And is that actually important? I do pretty well believe that not being able to talk about a thing just makes it kind of… evil in public opinion. It makes it a point of shame, whether or not you really feel like it is. Look at the history of homosexuality as a thing. It used to be something to be ashamed of, to hide away, but nowadays it’s out there from people mentioning it, even though others thought it was awkward, and now it’s just a thing. It being just a thing is clearly better. People can be who they are, and not be ashamed about it, all because the community was not willing to conform to how society expected them to treat who they were attracted to. As a transgirl, I don’t want to be outed to random people, so I don’t talk about my past, and that makes my past a thing to be ashamed of, even though I don’t really believe that it is. I’m not ashamed of being an Eagle Scout, for example, but I could never mention that to my students or people I work with, because I would be goddamn terrified of what they’d then think of me. How is that different from actually being ashamed of it? It’s not really that different at all. I can fully admit that, in a lot of ways, it would probably be better if I just wore that stuff on my sleeve. So I guess I don’t know why I should feel odd about people treating their sex lives as something to get out there and be part of who you are, because fuck, it ISN’T something to be ashamed of. As long as it’s between consenting adults and nobody is getting hurt (or at least not seriously hurt. Pain can be fun) then rock the fuck on. Enjoy yourself!

But there’s just this politeness element to it, as well as a focus element. It’s not expected for someone to reveal this stuff, and it can throw them off their game. You can’t know if someone won’t be offended, and that sort of thing can turn a boring conversation into a fight, which is something that, in society, you’re just not supposed to do, you know? Similarly, it can quickly derail whatever is going on. Going back to the Eagle Scout and students example, I know that mentioning that would completely derail the entire class period into me having to explain so much about both myself, and my dysphoria, and everything. The class work wouldn’t get done. So you just avoid that stuff. You avoid rocking the boat, and you move through life. You’re SUPPOSED to. It’s how society works, and how things get done. I want to work together well with everybody. I don’t start fights, or even the vague potential for fights, if I can help it.

I just wonder if that’s really alright, though. I guess I wish the world worked differently. I wish one could just be who they are without having to fight for it. I know the world will never work that way unless people are willing to get out there and show how stupid these barriers are. Yet I still, automatically on a gut level, work to protect those barriers, and keep them intact. I really wonder why I do that. I really wonder if I’m part of the problem. I really wonder if I’m somehow failing everyone else in a similar situation as me by not being willing to be honest. I wonder.