Among Us

Sometimes I don’t want to write about video games. Sometimes I draw about them.

run red run

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

This was originally written before the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic was full blown in the US. It feels extremely petty now and I’ve lost all steam on finishing it. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this book and do recommend it to all to read, even if the troubling times depicted seem prescient to the current situation. What is happening now was inevitable, but unlike Station Eleven’s “Georgia Flu,” is survivable.

I first heard about Station Eleven when the author, Emily St. John Mandel, when it was announced that she would be speaking at Cleveland State University. I wasn’t able to attend, but the professor that told me about it said the book was about “a post-apocalyptic theater troupe around the Great Lakes.” I bought the book immediately, because that’s just my jam. I didn’t get a chance to read it until after graduation. I am so glad to have done so— This book isn’t about just the theater troupe. It’s about the dread of the unknown, the collapse of structure, and the rebuilding of life with the rubble that remains. I don’t think I could have appreciated the way St. John Mandel expresses anxiety that freedom brings without recently being freed from something myself. This will be the first time I’m writing about a book that I wasn’t required to read for a class. This is the first time I am writing about something I read for my own enjoyment. This the first time I get to write about my thoughts on the primary source without having to cite several scholarly sources to support my point. I don’t need a thesis. I don’t need a conclusion. All pretension and pseudo-intellectualism is gone! Meeting standards set forth by people who have no direct impact on my personal edification just to prove that I’ve memorized the prescribed literature is gone! No more bullshitting to fill a page-length on a topic I don’t care about! It’s as if all of society has collapsed and I’m now free to do whatever I want! Oh, did I just … I just made a thesis, didn’t I? I don’t care if it’s weak! I don’t care if I don’t prove it! Fuck you, I get to slack now!

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Video Games for Social Justice

Oftentimes, the reader that could benefit from reading a work of literature that is intended to develop empathy for a particular plight is not likely to pick up a book that clearly advertises itself as being about that hardship. Many authors have tackled this obstacle in the past by writing speculative fiction rather than a straight narrative. The time-travel aspect of Octavia Butler’s Kindred might draw in the temporal enthusiast, but her message is still overtly about the struggles of African-Americans. Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing is a fantastic ghost story that is still straight-forward about the poverty and incarceration related suffering of African-Americans over several generations. However modern authors approach this minor subterfuge of “tricking” a reader into ingesting their message of social justice, there will still be a group of people that have no desire to pick up a book. This is where new forms of media, not just modern writing, come into play. Television and film in recent years, especially those based upon novels that have a message of social justice, reach more of an audience than just fans of the book. Video games, especially those developed by independent studios, are in a unique position to deliver the audience a perspective they would not normally have sought on their own through the allure of gameplay. One such game I will focus on is This War of Mine, published in 2014 by 11 Bit Studios. The game uses a popular game style from the time—Survival—to deliver a specific message about the lives of non-combatants in a military conflict. The tagline of the game (“In War… Not Everyone Is a Soldier”) provides the player some foreshadowing that the game is atypical.

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A Room of One’s Own

The below text was written for a class on British Literature, focusing on Virgina Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been living the reality that Woolf describes regarding women and fiction – obligations from being a woman, a mom, an aunt, etc, have to be juggled with my schoolwork, my job, my social life, any an personal or free time. It’s overwhelming. And then, I have to decide, what do I prioritize? If women lack the education to write poetry, as Woolf says, should I then prioritize education? But what do I take from? Do I stop performing the  “duties” of my gender? (This is actually what I did—I consider myself non-binary in the first place, the “performance” of femininity never sat well with me, neither did masculinity. Supportive spouses are great.) Does my education suffer because of other things required of me? (If you look at my post history, you’d probably see that I don’t often get time to post, or even to think of what to post beforehand. Full time jobs are pretty much necessary for middle class parents of any gender.) Do I stop working, or take time off, in order to make time for other things? But then how would I get my “£500 a year” to afford life?  The mental labor necessary for finding time, the freedom to be able to write, and to write something that requires as intensive scrutiny as poetry, is still not afforded to women (or even men) at the present time. Prose and poetry are still something afforded to people who have an abundance of personal time, or to people who are willing to sacrifice necessities to make time.

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ART – “Baby James Franco”

ink on paper – 2018

For the last three years or so I’ve been going to a weekly trivia at The Side Quest. At some point early on, I started drawing things (usually related to the team names we chose) for the host of the quiz. Each one of them kept the drawings (as far as I know) and took them with them as they moved on. The newest quizmaster was previously the scorekeeper, so he was aware of this tradition. He’d also earned himself the nickname of “Baby James Franco”.

This is the first drawing he’s received as quizmaster!

ART – “Hearts”

watercolor – 10×7 in – 2018

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

I don’t know why I painted hearts. Jonas says they are a normal heart and a cool heart. I forgot to take a picture of the final shading but it’s not too much different.

ENG 363 – “The Argonauts”

I’m stuck on one line Maggie Nelson wrote on page 37.

I cannot hold my baby at the same time as I write.”

This is something that I feared when I became pregnant, when I decided I wanted to have children. I wanted more than one before I had one; but having one has made me realize that, mentally, I cannot handle more than one. And I think it is because of this sentiment I share with Nelson.

I cannot be a proper mother while being myself.

Nelson references her quote of D. W. Winnicott that echoes how I felt with “I had nearly four decades to become myself before experimenting with my obliteration.”

I don’t think I had that. I think I was still striving to find who I was before I had my child, while I was pregnant, and even after he was born.

Women struggle with identity in ways that men will not understand. We have feminists telling us to be ourselves, to make our own decisions, to do what we will, to find our own truth of life. We have the patriarchy telling us to be good and start a family while we can, before complications arise from age, before whatever. Before we’re whole. Be a mother before you’re human.

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ENG 350 – “I’m With The Bears”

While I plan to finish the entirety of I’m With the Bears shortly, I am still on a deadline because this is for a class.

I spent yesterday at a relative’s house for a family reunion, in the 94°F (34.4C) heat (“feels like: 100°F” (37.7C) says the Weather Channel) when outside, in something significantly cooler but still warm indoors. Air conditioners that once made the interiors of houses comfortable can only manage “better than outside” in the summers now. Living in a house without central air has gotten me used to sitting in a room that runs around 80°F (26.6C) as the tiny, single-room AC unit in the window struggles to counter the increasing summer temps.

It was James’s side of the family, so the reminiscing was not for me. I hung around with those that married in and we discussed things. The conversation was usually about jobs, status of vehicles, the temperature outside. We talked about how hot it is, how it used to not be that hot, but there was no discussion deeper than that. This wasn’t the time or place for it. It was too hot.

My job as an energy engineer/analyst/manager for retail corporations fits snugly into this changing climate. My goal is to save them money by running the AC efficiently. Making stores comfortable so people buy things. On the surface we can tell people that we’re trying to be more environmentally friendly, but it’s all about money.

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ART – “Emma”

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

Just like the previously posted Emmett statue, I made a statue of Emma, my father-in-law’s & step-mother-in-law’s pupper. She was a chocolate lab.

ART – “Emmett”

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

Back in 2013 I took my first (and last) ceramics class. I felt like I needed more than one semester to be able to figure out a pottery wheel, but I also knew they were forcing the ceramics professor to retire. Out of the 10 or so students in the class, I was the only degree-seeking one (and thus the only one paying full tuition). This was apparently normal for the class—the Project 60 students constantly re-enrolled for the class to get free use of the studio and kilns. Project 60 is one of many programs in the state that allows those over the age of 60 to attend state colleges for nearly free (only pay lab fees) as long as they aren’t working for a degree (otherwise they have to pay). Since the school wasn’t making money off his class, they encouraged him to retire. I’m not thrilled about them forcing people out in that way, but I can understand their point. While there is no ceramics specific class anymore, there is still a sculpture class which includes ceramics.

But anyway, I didn’t get the hang of the pottery wheel so I mostly made statues or figurines. This here is my Emmett pupper, which sits on my husband’s desk at work. Emmett is our ancient Shiba Inu, who we adopted when he was full grown and feral, so we don’t know how old he actually is. We’re estimating 14-16 at this time.