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Writer's Block: Just stop, already!

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Misuse of certain words either written or spoken.

A prime example of this lately, because for some reason it's been popping up is "subconscious" and "unconscious."

To do something without conscious awareness is to do it *sub*consciously.

To do something unconsciously is impossible, unless you're a chronic sleep-walker.

Writer's Block: The name game

Have you and/or your friends ever picked nicknames for people without their knowledge? What was the funniest, and why did you choose it?

Had a suitemate in college the rest of the girls living there referred to as "Crazy" and very little else. She refused to actually speak to any of us, instead leaving passive-aggressive messages on sticky notes all over the suite. We had two RA interventions, and nothing changed. 

She also bleached every inch of the bathroom on a weekly basis, and I mean every inch.  She wasn't OCD that any of us could tell, and the bathroom was kept clean and orderly by most normal human standards otherwise. 

"Crazy" was the most simple and appropriate nickname we could give her.

Dreams and Nightmares

 Ever since I can remember, I've been a pretty vivid dreamer. As a young girl going through her night terror phase, this sucked.

As a young woman, my dreams (good and bad) were the source of raw inspiration for my writing...at least when I wasn't battling insomnia every other night.

As an adult, it's apparently back to sucking again. But you'd think that as a rational adult I'd be able to wake up and dismiss my subconscious and go about my day, after all, it's not like the nightmare visions that haunt me can jump out of my brain and cause me actual harm, right?

Well, as the saying goes, knowing and believing are two very different things.

Last night ran the sliding scale of awesome to pants-shittingly terrifying, as seems to be the case with most of these dreams. Each dream comes in acts, which can be connected or not--last night they weren't, at least so far as I remember. The first half of the dream I was hanging around this awesome futuristic college with a bunch of friends from Newark. I'd gotten work in the combination science lab/library, working on archiving experiments done on a revolutionary computer system called S.H.E.R.L.O.C.K (I don't remember what it stood for, but I was told in dream, and it was pretty cool. These are the things I should remember, not the scary crap.) From what I remember of the explanation of the computer system, it was a partially holographic simulator that was designed to make a play-thing of all the established laws of physics, and show how certain substances and structures (there was something going on with a bridge in one piece of footage I was archiving) would react.

Pretty awesome shit.

Then we get to act two. I'm with an old lady, walking through what very well could be a park. She's very high strung, and we're there to relax; it's getting late in the day and everything has a beautiful golden hue to it; practically the definition of a perfect spring afternoon. It's worth noting that in real life, there are a lot of old women I count as very dear friends--they're mostly relatives or friends of my grandmother who never lost touch with the family after her death-- so the idea of going for a walk with an old woman isn't just a normal idea for me, it's also comforting. I don't remember exactly what the woman was saying, but she was obviously concerned about how she'd been acting lately. I spent a lot of time consoling her and saying that whatever happened wasn't a big deal, that everyone has bad days. I ask if she's been worried or stressed about anything in particular and she emphatically replies that no, she hasn't. She just didn't know what came over her, but for some reason, she seems convinced it'll happen again. We start talking about doctors, mostly psychologists. The old woman seems set on going to see a traditional doctor while I suggest trying a more spiritually oriented version, a shaman or priest of sorts.

At this point, we pass by a man in a suit and tie carrying a briefcase, who scoffs openly at my suggestion of a spiritual advisor. He says something along the lines of "those won't do you any good anymore," before picking up his pace and passing us ahead on the trail.

Which is about when everything goes to hell in a hand basket. The old woman stops in her tracks on the path and just, stares at me. She's a frail thing with a pronounced nose and already somewhat shrunken features and a small smile. Then her features morph, her eyes go so far back in her head they turn black and her mouth comes to take up pretty much the entire lower portion of her face.

And she tries to eat me.

For some reason at this point in the dream I'm sure she's possessed and after a short struggle to get her away  from me, bolt up the path. The chase goes through a house at one point and a gun is involved--thankfully her aim is horrendous. But there are a few more moments of her catching me and me wrestling her off, (which only seem to impress upon me that holy god, this bitch has a lot of teeth, and they're all pointy and jagged) until finally I catch up to the guy who passed us earlier. I try to convince him the old woman I was with is now a flesh eating abomination, but he doesn't believe me until he actually sees the woman. Together, we're able to get her down, and by down I mean seemingly dead. The guy I'm with is aghast that he appeared to just help murder a terrified old woman and is in the process of calling an ambulance, while I do the logical thing and use a length of rope to bind her to a nearby tree.  I somehow managed to do this while using my new companion as a meat shield.

The last thing I remember is ducking behind the guy's legs just as the old woman starts to come to. The last thing I see her do before I wake up is smile....

I think I'm actually going to be a little sick every time I see an old lady now. 
To preamble the following discussion:  on another com I'm part of, I got into a conversation with an acquaintance regarding the newest revisiting of Raccoon City in the Resident Evil franchise, Operation Raccoon City. If anyone is unfamiliar with it, the plot revolves around the events of the early games, mostly RE:2, completely from Umbrella's perspective. You play as a member of an Umbrella Black Ops team, sent in to the city to clean the place up. Basically you're similar to HUNK's team in RE:2.  

Now, Resident Evil is one of my favorite game series of all time, I've played almost every game that's been put out, but the obsession with Raccoon City and the events of RE 2 has been irking me lately.  Part of the reasons I love the games are the plot, and I feel like there hasn't been a new game in a long time, so I wrote a little something on the nature of survival horror and what might take to push the series forward rather than staying stuck in the same events, replaying them until the end of time. There are spoilers for RE 5, so anyone that is playing it and hasn't beaten it, or would just not like to be spolied, you're warned. 

Cut for rambling about plot and world construction.Collapse )

Mar. 29th, 2011

 I've been wavering on writing anything about the goings on in Japan because to be honest, I don't think it really hit me until recently. Despite our 24/7 news culture and being inundated with videos via the internet, I didn't really feel anything until I came across a video of two dogs in a flooded out town, one too injured to move, the other patiently and protectively standing guard while the people beyond the camera filmed. There were no subtitles, but I understood enough of what was said to actually sit there and cry for the first time. Over and over the man behind the camera kept repeating how painful it was to watch, and how much the animals needed to be rescued, but he was too nervous to approach the guard dog. According to a later news article both were rescued and given temporary homes. Out of all the images that have come out of the aftermath, I'm pretty sure those two dogs are going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

At the same time, however, we're talking about a culture with a very unique take on nature. I'd known long before a recent NY Times editorial pointed it out that the Western concept of 'nature' didn't quite exist in Japanese until the 80's. Shinto and Budhhist teaching never looked at man as being 'outside' of nature as Western culture did. The term that divided man from nature came about in order to explain the Western point of view, like so many other concepts that had to be adapted over the course of East/West interaction.

I've thought about this a long time, and what finally occurred to me is that if the adaption worked the other way, the so called 'Disaster Fatigue' phenomena would cease to exist. Disaster is a concept that in many ways, is made worse than it already is by the simple idea that either "we never thought it could happen to us" or "this could happen to us at any moment."  If for once we looked at ourselves honestly, as part of a vast, entwined ecosystem on this amazing and sometimes terrifying planet, so much of the stress and fatigue brought about by these perfectly natural events just...wouldn't matter so much.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how soundly we construct our buildings, no matter how high we build our sea walls, we still dig into the earth to do it. We still displace tons of ground every day, digging our feet in against the inevitable. As long as we're digging into the earth, we're part of it, we're part of everything that happens on this amazing little organism of a planet.

When I cried for those dogs, I cried not because of the tragedy of it, but because we--even I--still haven't learned that completely.  One day, I will, just, not today.


Christmas. Or Not.

 It's 12:14 am, Christmas Day, and yet for the last few days, I've been struggling with the idea of Christmas having come early, and sort of not come at all.

It came early thanks to a gift that's done a lot more for me than the person who gave it realized, though if/when he sees this, he probably will. The gift was Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, for the Nintendo DS, a game which I've been waiting for since 2003, when the last in the Golden Sun series was announced, with vague but confident assertions of a continuation. 

Like a lot of things, it came at what turned out to be the best possible moment. Right when I found myself questioning everything that constituted that strange, sometimes nebulous thing called family, a game came along with a story that was about just that: family, legacy, filial responsibility and parental obligation. I was almost in tears at the first NPC death, and my heart officially broke in the middle of the game when a pair of siblings were forced to part, the older saying, "It's my duty to stay, it's yours to live." Having been that same little sister once, in a similar situation, I'd be hard pressed to find anything that hit home stronger. 

It's helped me remember that family is odd and that as children we don't ever really know the exact roles we'll end up playing in our parents lives. How their stories and ours stories meld and overlap as long as we're alive and maybe longer. 

Bizarre thoughts on this Christmas-but-not day. Maybe not as bizarre as most.

ADDENDUM: Woke up just in time to intercept sofiadragon and her boyfriend at the diner up the road. Awesome Christmas morning!

Star light, Star bright

With everything that's happened lately, it's hard to remember that at one point, I had a pretty normal family. Dad worked, mom worked from home during tax season, we went on vacations (never long or expensive ones, mostly visiting relatives out of state) and on clear nights, winter or summer we'd have a Bushnell telescope that we'd use to stargaze. 

Since then, part of my heart has always been tied in with the stars. One thing I sorely missed in Newark was being able to see the stars. On a good night, the moon was pretty clear and sometimes the North Star but usually very little else. Nights Rich and I would drive out to Parsippany I always took my chances looking up to get a glimpse of something other than those two, lone celestial bodies. Coming home over break was like getting to see billions of old friends all at once. 

One of my most cherished memories at what is now the old house is one balmy summer night the space shuttle was due to pass the moon, and for one amazing moment I was a little girl again, out in the yard with binoculars (my grandfathers, the pair he brought back from the war and they still work better than any pair I've had) bouncing on the balls of my heels waiting for that one incredible sight. When the shuttle did eventually come into view, I'm pretty sure the whole block heard me: "Dad, look, there it is!" And it streaked by the moon, strangely pink and fast.  The neighbor, a kind old man named Ernie who could barely walk was out there with us, though his sight and reflexes weren't quick enough to catch it. 

It's nights like this I'm glad for the memories, no matter what came before or after them.
 There is nothing like being reminded you have the most awesome friends ever.

That is all.

Oct. 20th, 2010

 I had a rare experience at the doctor's the other day. For as cliche as literally going through the phone book for a doctor sounds, having not had a general physician in several years, it's pretty much what I was reduced to when that monster called chronic bronchitis seemed to be looming it's ugly head. Seeing as I already have so many other unfix-able problems, I wasn't keen on adding lung issues to the list.

The only doctor who could see me that day was the hole in the wall (but seemingly established) practice of Doctor Yoong, who had a voice like gravel and who any minute looked like he would either whip out a can of whoop-ass martial arts or glare disapproving like most older men in Korean soap opera have the uncanny ability to do.  He did in fact glare disapprovingly every time he was trying to get a good read with his stethoscope and I coughed.  Pop culture tv references aside, it was actually the most through, calming first visit to a doctor I can remember for a number of reasons. The first was that I'm pretty sure he was using accupressure techniques during the general part of the exam -- the second was that beyond the gravelly voice and the glare he actually spent time with me, close to an hour, asking detailed questions to get as good a picture of my general health as he could. Thirdly, and most amazingly, he did all of this knowing I was shorting him on the bill. First time visits were 175$ cash, I only had 140$ on me, and while dad ran off to the nearest bank, he got back once I was done only to have me tell him that the extra money wasn't necessary.

Maybe I'm cynical about doctors to the extent where I'm surprised when I find one who goes above and beyond the call to take the Hippocratic Oath seriously. I was fully expecting to be turned away at the door when I came up short (seriously could have sworn that's what the nurse said first time patients were charged) but no, I was not only seen, but walked out feeling vaguely more human than usual.  In a country where, as a good Australian friend is fond of saying, "Health care is a luxury item" it's good to know there's doctors out there who are true to the spirit of the practice.