Archive for the ‘ Memories ’ Category

Belated Halloween!

BAD MEG. Didn’t write yesterday. But I think I will do two entries tonight to make up for it. They might both be very photo-heavy. Don’t curr.

I went to a sci-fi themed Halloween party at small microbrewery over in Fremont last Thursday, and while driving back meant it couldn’t be WILD, I still had a great time just being with people on Halloween again. It’s always been tied for my favorite holiday with Christmas – I mean, it’s hard to beat presents and vacation days, but every holiday was sort of ruined last year. Halloween’s never been super family-oriented so it wasn’t ruined in THAT way, but the fact that I could not muster up an ounce of enthusiasm for it because it was so soon after the fire made me super sad. I’ve always loved Halloween, back when it was dressing up as various types of animals to compliment the Power Rangers of the boys next door, back during the 91 Halloween blizzard, where everyone in Minnesota STILL went trick-or-treating, even though we had what, 3 feet of snow or something that night? All costumes needed to be able to fit over snowpants back then. I was a purple rabbit, a black cat, then I was a Kangaroo for like 3 years in a row because having a pouch to carry candy was both awesome and immensely entertaining to anyone giving me candy. I was a fox for a couple years, and then junior high was a thing, so it wasn’t cool to be animals anymore.

The first Halloween party I went to I was a pirate – I remember always thinking that looked like a way-fun costume, but I quickly found out an eye-patch and large round glasses do not go together well. Still it was a holiday-themed party and everyone dressed up and OH MAN THIS WAS SUPER FUN. So I put on my own party the next year with my 8th grade best friend, and my mom being the amazingly good sport she was put together a pretty nice Padme/Queen Amidala battle outfit for me out of this shiny purply-maroon fabric and some gold ribbon. I remember I was also so happy that my boycut hair had finally grown out enough for me to put my hair into a bun like she had. That was back when my Star Wars obsession had been reinvigorated by Episode 1 and my love of costume design exploded (though I never did anything but draw them cause ew sewing). I think there was another year I went as a hippie to something, but then finally it was high school and you didn’t really DO Halloween anymore, which I was always SO secretly sad about. Then college hit and people started dressing up again for fun even if we weren’t really trick-or-treating, and then parties with alcohol happened, and I gladly put together a hippie outfit for a couple years. I remember one year my roommate and I did a last second 15-minutes before a party trip to the local WalMart to grab whatever we could left on the shelves and throw something together. I ended up grabbing a wig and some black makeup to be a goth (because while pasty enough bahahahaha talk about not me) and she grabbed some shiny butterfly wings and I did some fairly swirls on her face to match.

I don’t know what it is, I just LOVE IT. Then after leaving Stetson, I went to the parties of my long-time WoW friends down in Florida every year for three years. And it was great, because everyone was actually as into their costumes as I was, even if we just ended up playing games and drinking at a rented beach house, we all looked fantastic while doing it. I was a Steampunk something the first year, then I was Mother Nature, and then the last year I took the Mac make-up template of a Roy Lichtenstein-esque pop art woman, with a bright yellow wig and red dots all over my face. DRESSING UP, YOU GUYS. So much fun, you put something together and then it actually looks awesome and then it’s a bit like you’re a kid again, not necessarily playing pretend in the back yard, but for one night you just get to look like someone/something else and that makes me happy every time. I get a sense of pride in doing something a bit creative, or having the satisfaction of an idea that actually works.

So, THIS YEAR, I wasn’t expecting to do anything though I had a few ideas mulling around in my head, so when I was invited to the party, I picked the sci-fi fitting one and went with it. I wanted to go off my current Star Trek kick that I’ve been on since winter last year (and ESPECIALLY since I finally sat down and watched the entirety of TOS this summer), but no way was I going to put together or splurge on a normal uniform. Then I remembered that I had a black fall vest, and all I needed was a white sweater underneath and I had the makings for TOS Scotty’s film outfit. So the day of the party, I ran to the local craft store after doing some research online, bought some fabric and fastenings, busted out my metallic acrylics from their still-in-moving-boxes state and got to work. The hardest part was figuring out how to stick the pieces of fabric to the vest temporarily so that the vest was still wearable afterward. The solution I found, after seeing toupee tape suggested online, was this body tape, or fashion tape, that people use to keep all their bits in place and covered if they’re wearing a precarious outfit. It worked fantastically, with no residue afterward! I also used this cosplay post to help me see the details, because references of the actual outfit weren’t great, so a big thanks to that person. I obviously did the poor woman’s alternative in a lot of areas, but after spraying my hair with white and dousing it in baby powder, I don’t think it turned out half bad for a day’s worth of work. Also one of the most comfortable costumes I’ve ever warn because it kept me warm on the deck of the pub, and DIDN’T INVOLVE A DRESS. Fem-Scotty to the rescue!

ImageImage

Gaming 2013 Catch-Up: Tomb Raider

All right, I’m obviously still shaking off some of the gloom that October had me in. It’s hard, but I’m definitely feeling better now than I did at the end of September, dreading the anniversary’s arrival and at the beginning of October feeling like it had happened all over again. I went quiet for the summer, however, that was due to me working 24/7 at my usual amazing summer camp and it being the usual combination of stress and elation. I did play games, though! May was rougher than the rest because my coworkers weren’t there yet and being alone in a place that my brother had previously worked with me every summer had a lot of baggage that came with it: sometimes good, sometimes bad, and either way exhausting.

Right before I headed to camp though, I had finished up my playthrough of the new Tomb Raider which I both wanted to try because I’d heard a lot of good things (despite the controversy) and because it’s a franchise that’s near and dear to my heart even if I was always too chicken to ever really play most of Lara Croft’s games. My parents had a sort of tradition of getting Ross and I a computer game on our birthday, and then another on Christmas (but god forbid we have a gaming console oh ho ho ho) – Tomb Raider I particularly remember because it was one of my first… “darker” games, I guess you could call it? We played educational games like Treasure Mountain, and we played Star Wars games or Wing Commander or Indy racing, but when I held this weirdly shaped box in my hand it was a game that could be scary.

And it was, to me. I saw that you could run into a T-Rex on the back of the box and then proceeded to never get past the first level on my own because I was determined that I would run into that damn dinosaur and I was terrified. But I played the hell out of the training rooms, and I remember Ross and I watching each other play, and cracking up at how we could make Lara swan dive from incredible height only to make her then break her neck because we accidentally (or maybe purposely) missed the pool. And we played that first level over and over once we knew what to do because the worst there was there were wolves and bats. I could handle that. And on level two when we first swan dived off that super tall waterfall and were so close to missing the water at the bottom that Lara screamed I thought we were going to lose it we were laughing so hard. We tried to recreate that over and over for my neighbor who would come over and play but we never quite could. But we BOTH heard it so we KNEW we weren’t imagining things.

Since my birthday is in the summer and this was back when my mom was obsessed with having healthy and productive summers off, we were taking bike rides with the neighbor boys (essentially adopted brothers by then as we were to their family) every morning on the path along the golf course near our house. We’d ride to the end and back while our moms walked and talked. The best part was when we got back to the house well before our moms were done, so we had the free time to have some lemonade and then game. This became a standard. Danny who was two years younger than I was, was way braver than I, and I’m not sure Ross genuinely had the coordination yet (or maybe he was scared too and just didn’t say so), so we’d all crowd around and watch him play the levels I was too chicken to continue. He did eventually get through the whole game, and I felt like I had legitimately participated and helped, but that game was important to me for one BIG reason, and that was that by default, you were a female character. Yes she had huge boobs and was the source of boners ’round the globe for fanboys, but I didn’t care, it was the first game I think I ever played where if you were allowed to be female, you actually SAW the main character. Any others were first person space sims or extremely androgynous kids with caps on so you couldn’t see their faces. No one blatantly and visibly female. Rebel Assault let me actually choose female and then they said she sometimes instead of he, but that was as close as I’d gotten by then. I remember my parents saying that’s why they’d gotten it for me too. I was ecstatic. Not so much so that I wasted money on the rest of the games when I found out I wasn’t going to get the guts up to play beyond level one, but I have a special place in my heart for Lara anyway.

The reboot? Is fantastic. And not even too scary for me to play! (Skyrim’s dungeons give me the shivers, so this is still a valid concern.) The controls are super smooth, and I’d say the one downside is it’s a very short, very linear game to pay the initial full price for, but I loved the story, I loved that they showed how Lara became badass without… completely putting her through a bunch of tropey experiences (there’s some, but I didn’t think it detracted from her character) and I know some were worried that since it’s an “origin” story of sorts they strip her of all her awesomeness to build upon – I didn’t think so. Physically and even mentally she’s still pretty hardcore from the start. I don’t mind seeing her having to learn how to kill a guy and that not being an easy thing to do the first time.

Anyway, old news for anyone current with games, but I did really love it, and it was fun playing a game that also made remember creeping around in pixelated tombs, thinking that T-Rex would be around every corner. Even if you never encountered it until like 10 levels into the damn game. To go with my playing catch-up on my gaming exploits, I’ve updated my Gaming To-Do page. I’m currently working on my bastard playthroughs of both Dragon Age: Origins, and DAII (while forever poking around in WoW, SWTOR, and GW2). It works out nicely that playing the game like a raging psychopath is both honoring how Ross always played things first and very nicely filling out all my incomplete achievements. When growing up one reason I never bothered to force myself to be an asshole to see the other side to the stories was because Ross would do it for me, and I just saw the story vicariously through him. Sort of like how I “played” Tomb Raider through Danny. I miss that.

Homesickness…

So the power did eventually come back on in the wee hours of the morning. I’m not sure what time exactly because between daylight savings and me frantically pouring through the final chapters of Divergent, I had lost all sense of time and passed out as soon as it was done. The fact that I actually managed to finish an entire novel in a day without internet or power is probably pretty telling? But I’m going to chalk it up to it being a) really good, b) a young adult novel and therefore a pretty easy (BUT STILL GREAT) read, and c) it had been a long time since I’ve sat and been absorbed in a book. People compare it to Hunger Games, cause it’s definitely another dystopian future where a teenage girl protagonist is the key to you know, disturbing the disturbing dystopian “peace”, but outside of that it was different enough that I still really enjoyed it. And I liked Tris better than Katniss although they’re both more stone-cold than your average teenage girl main character. That had me questioning Katniss’s character (not as a good character but moreso as someone relatable), but it didn’t so much with Tris. Both characters acknowledge and question their unfeeling choices and I appreciate that, and certainly don’t need my protags to be touchy-feely. I am though, so it does affect the way I personally relate and see them in the story, as those traits will with any character from any book for me. Either way, I find it interesting if/when people pick apart insensitive (female) protagonists, as they’re so used to being able to relate to the person that when one is kind of a jerk, or cold, or ferocious, or unfeeling, there’s this instinct to recoil from the story as a whole. I know some people who have that problem with the main character in Orange is the New Black. I think it makes going through the journey with them less comfortable, but when you’re talking about dystopia, (or a prison, in OitNB) that’s kind of the idea? So I try to embrace it. And with Divergent, it was easy, I think overall Tris struck a bit better balance for me than Katniss ever did. Though we’ll have to see about the next couple books.

Uh, okay, there are many people who actually study this stuff that can word it all way better than I can, so I’ll leave it at that.

In other news, I Skype my parents tomorrow. Like I begun to say in my first entry of the month, it’s so bizarre being homesick. Not for the place, but for my parents. I’m not used to it. I never understood the people who went home every weekend for months my Freshman year of college. My mom said they used to call those people the “suitcases” back when she was at school out east, and that she, like I did, ended up forming my friendships with the people that stuck around instead, many out-of-staters, but some just people who didn’t feel it necessary to drive home even if it was only a couple hours away rather than a flight cross-country like mine was.

I remember, my first time away from home without my immediate family was a trip to Florida, to my grandparents, but I went with my cousins’ family instead of my own. I was having a great time, Granny and Grandpa had a pool and Florida was still an amazing utopia of beaches, sun, palm trees, and dolphins to me at the time, but I remember one night I had decided that I was Sad. I must have been crying or something, because my aunt sat down next to me and held my hand and was appropriately sympathetic-looking. She asked me if I was homesick. “Do you miss your mom?” Sniffle. Yeaaah. “Do you miss your dad?” Yeeeah. Big frown. “Do you miss your dog?” Yeeah. Because my aunt understood how dogs were equal parts of the family. And finally: “Do you miss your brother?” And that got me to laugh through my tears and I said “No!” Because brothers were annoying, especially little ones, and we were never ever supposed to admit that we loved them because gross, brothers, and he was supposed to do the same because gross, big sisters.

And then I was okay. And I have never remembered being homesick once in my life after that. Not at school patrol camp where we did actual camping things and were outdoorsy and I apparently had a blast even though when my mom came to pick me up I had a raging case of pink eye. I wasn’t when I went to any of my out-of-state music and band camps like the proud nerd that I was. I wasn’t when I went to Mexico with my grandmother and spent my days watching whales and snorkeling and feeling like I was in heaven. I spent a great deal of time at friend’s houses with no problem, and then when I moved to college, calling my parents was usually due to some sort of upset, or I avoided it because I knew that mom would just give me a list of things to do that I had either likely forgotten to do or knew I hadn’t touched yet so I didn’t want to be scolded about.

Now I can’t wait to Skype them tomorrow, just to tell them how Halloween was this week. I lived at home with them for two years after college and thought my dad or I was going to snap and strangle the other, but being at home for the majority of the time since Ross died has been okay. My friends have been amazing at staying in touch via WoW and Skype and IM, but when my parents told our grief counselor that it would be odd getting used to me being gone when I went to work 2 hours away all summer, I was a little baffled, because it wasn’t like we spent all our time together. They were at work for most of the day, I was up late chatting with my friends with a headset on for the evenings. But it was nice. I’m not saying I would want to live with them again, and that road trip still pushed us to want to strangle each other on occasion, but that’s family for me. It’s nice being so much closer to them. Sometimes I feel like I abandoned them, moving so far away only a year after we lost Ross, but they have never once made me feel like I should feel bad for not being someone who gets homesick. They couldn’t wait for Ross or I to go abroad, like they did. They supported my Seattle plans from day 1, even if they also expressed their concerns. Half my dad’s tribute to Ross at the service was about how he was so glad that Ross got to see different countries and experience things that were new and exciting, and I remember that whenever I worry that I should feel worse for leaving them. I know part of my mom’s excitement about it is a show for my sake. She doesn’t realise that I’ve been able to recognise her ‘let’s be excited for the kids (or the customers)’ voice for years now, but I appreciate it, nonetheless. The dedication in Divergent was to Veronica Roth’s mother, saying “To my mother, who gave me the moment when Beatrice realizes how strong her mother is and wonders how she missed it for so long.” I feel like I’ve had a hundred of those revelations since October last year and it really hits you sometimes. Maybe that’s what I miss most lately. Or maybe there’s the part of me that just hated seeing my dad wonder if Ross knew how much he loved him and hoping that he’ll never have to wonder that again.

Obsession with the details…

One thing I’ve noticed since Ross died is my obsession with wanting to record everything. Not for personal gain or youtube or whatnot, but I’ve been pouring every bit of media Ross saved or created outside of things that might be too personal. But I have these moments with my friends and I want to save them somehow. I used to be the person with the camera back in college for similar reasons – to me there’s never enough pictures. But since I lost Ross that compulsion is 50 times greater. What if I lost someone else? I want as much to remember them by as possible. What if they lost me? Memories are great, but I like details and I like to talk about them and remember them and argue about whether or not that car was orange or red (RED, DAD) and whether or not someone spoke to me first when we met or if it was the other way around.

My mom and dad’s group therapist said they should journal – something neither of them ever really do. But he said to focus on feelings, not details.

My gut reaction was immediately: what’s so bad about details? I know the emotions are there, the meaning of a memory doesn’t change if you can’t remember exactly how something was worded, but it’s been so satisfying, if emotional to go through recordings, or documented conversation. Some people – cough, my dad, cough – hate how so much of our lives (especially those of us in the ‘younger’ generation) are out there for the world to see and pick apart, but I’ve never been so grateful that some conversations with my brother are there, preserved for me to go look at and laugh at, and I canremember a tidbit I’d completely forgotten before. The fact that I can look up a dumb three sentence conversation he and I had on facebook over some ridiculous photo he shared, or that I can delve into the WoW armory and find out that he named the little Moonkin hatchling pet I bought him for his birthday one year “Humpy” makes things a little easier.

So lately this has manifested itself in me looking into recording software for games, for skype, for video, for my xbox. I have this dinky laptop that has issues overheating and here I am learning how to clean up noise on old skype DnD conversations I recorded in the spring, and dusting off the external terabyte hard drive Dad bought me a fair few years ago because it’s the only drive big enough to attempt any video storage. And I download game streaming software on the off-chance that my roomie from college wants to spend a night in watching me play The Sims of us all the way from New York like we did once in October. It’s giving me something to tinker with, if nothing else.

I just worry about the day that I’ll run out of things to find of Ross’s. Maybe I won’t. But it’s a scary enough thought that I hope my friends are okay with me being a creeper and recording Skype convos so I can listen later and just remember and laugh at us being idiots like I do whenever I find one of the little memories of Ross buried within the aether of the net.  And maybe it’s just a phase I need to go through, but the fact that I have always liked to do things like just leave a cheap videocamera on to record my friends and I while we do something like playing Cranium for an hour – something anyone else would find completely dull or tedious – even before Ross’s death, makes me think if I’m lucky enough to live a good long time, I’ll enjoy the details, even if no one else cares. And lately if I enjoy it? Then I’m doing it.