Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Year In Review

Boy, I had a lot of posts planned for this month. I had at least three Generic Ensign Vlogs planned as well as a holiday post and a couple of specific episodes I just really wanted to write about. I even made a Trek-themed mince pie!

But then a bunch of life happened. I got really sick. None of those well-intentioned December posts materialized.

Still, I didn't want to leave off this year without at least mentioning something about 2016 and My Year of TNG coming to a close. I'm just about finished with the series. In spite of the fact that I haven't been writing, I have been watching. I intend to watch All Good Things as I ring in 2017.

But before I do that, here's everything I have to say about 2016:
I started out the year with the intention of watching TOS but quickly realized I just didn't have the enthusiasm for it that I'd hoped and, by February, I'd switched over to my old friend TNG. It helped to comfort me when both of my grandmothers died within a couple weeks of one another. And it was there when my no-longer-convenient-to-ignore health issues led me to seeking and getting my Ehlers Danlos diagnosis. Suddenly I understood why a lot of things that frustrated me about my health, my body, my weightlifting were the way they were. And I understood that it was a problem that wouldn't ever just go away. Just as I'd finally got around to coming to terms with that I banged up my wrist and couldn't write or draw. And just when my wrist was nearly healed I started having strange, sudden, nauseating pain in both hands. This went on for six months. In and out of doctors. In and out of Physical Therapy. In and out of my blog. In and out of my house, taking long, long walks because I had to burn off my creative energy somehow and using my hands just wasn't an option. All the while I wondered, but really didn't talk about, whether my career as an artist, an essayist, a writer was about to be over at the age of thirty-two. Nothing seemed to help. Not exercise, massage, heat, cold, anti-inflammatories, or rest. I was frustrated. I cried a lot. I complained to my friends but not nearly as much as I wanted to, not nearly as much as I could and maybe should have. I poured myself into Generic Ensign and that, at least, was a welcome respite.

Now the year is nearly over. At the end of November I realized that I'd also been having some neck issues and wondered if it might be connected to my hands. I went to my doctor and she said, "How long has your neck been hurting?" I said that I didn't know. Things are always hurting. I have a chronic condition and I'm a power-lifter and workaholic with pathologically atrocious posture so it's tough to say. She perscribed a neck collar and physical therapy and I got rid of the foam pillow I'd purchased in May (a week before my hand pain started, I realized) and my hands, I'm happy to say, began to get better. It looks like there's a possibility that the pain is mostly caused by a pinched or inflamed nerve in my neck. Two months ago, I couldn't have imagined writing this post. I couldn't type for more than twenty minutes without excruciating pain. Now the pain is still there but it's in the background, easing in and out, and I worry that it's getting ready to pounce. That this really isn't the answer. I've hoped for so many "the answers" over the last six months and none of them have panned out so I don't want to speak too early and say, "Hooray, it's fixed!" and then catch myself back in the apparently bottomless pit I was in before. I am cautiously optimistic.

I realize, of course, that this post isn't really all that much about Star Trek. But this blog, since it began, has been about half Trek/half me. And the "me" hasn't made much of an appearance lately. So, here I am, telling you about my year. And, yes, in many ways, 2016 was rough. But there were plenty of great things too. I began meditating to cope with my pain and found that I really enjoy it. I started working with a lifting coach who also has EDS and got a new PR in conventional deadlift. I went to the beach by myself and did a ton of watercolors and ate huge slices of greasy pizza. I started riding my bike more often and now I take her (Harriet) out nearly every day. I let my hair knot itself into long ropes and stopped fighting it and now I'm happy with it for the first time in my life. I made new artist and lifter and Trek-fan friends on Instagram. I went hiking with my mom and little brother. I had three comic essays published. I turned in my third novel. I read several great books. I baked bread. I ate cheeseburgers and took long naps and played video games with my husband every Saturday afternoon. I watched Rogue One and cried when the credits rolled. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and I was comforted by its enduring message of hope and human compassion.

2016 has been a tough year. For a lot of us. And that sucks. I don't know what 2017 will bring. And that's ok.

I've always said that my greatest, or most beneficial quality, is my adaptability. This year that quality was put to the test and, go figure, I'm still here. So, whatever happens next year or the year after or the year after, I'll figure it out as I go. I'll adapt and keep going because adaptation is, more than a Borg quality, a human quality.

Ok, something extra (because what this post needs is more words) here are the things I loved most in 2016:

3- The Flavia De Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley
4- The Murdoch Mysteries (the Canadian TV show, it's available in the US on Netflix and Hulu in parts and on Acorn nearly whole also on the cable channel, Ovation)
5- People of Earth (the new TBS series)

Go forth and watch/read these things and decide whether you love them as well.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Generic Ensign's vLog #8: Time's Arrow - Chain of Command

It's been a long few weeks (you'll hear this from Generic Ensign as well) and I'm glad to finally be getting back to the blog. I had some really intense family stuff going on that laid me pretty low for a while but then Thanksgiving was for serious amazing. The best in my memory. I played video games. I hung out with Scott. I took naps. I played more video games. I ate SO MUCH turkey. (I butterflied the bird this year and this is something I HIGHLY recommend) I made the biggest, craziest pumpkin pie. It weighed three+ pounds and took several days to polish off. This week I got back to work and FINALLY returned to Generic Ensign. So, here's the latest:

Generic Ensign's Vlog #8 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

Friday, November 4, 2016

TNG Time Capsule: A Matter of Time, Hero Worship and Cause and Effect

A few years ago my mom found a couple of the journals I'd been made to keep in the second grade. I nearly cried when she gave them to me. As someone who writes and illustrates her own life, these little composition books are precious treasure troves of memory. PROOF! Proof that I existed as a small human. That I thought things and felt things and watched, even then, copious amounts of television.

Earlier this year I got them out and looked through them again, thinking that I would do a "on this night" series as I watched episodes that originally aired on dates corresponding to my journal entries. Unfortunately, life got a bit in the way. Waylaid by health issues and the like, I completely forgot about my plans. It wasn't until I was straightening up my workspace yesterday that I remembered.

Luckily, we're not that far away from these episodes. I only just finished the season in question! I handpicked a couple (for what will be obvious reasons) and here they are:

A Matter of Time
Original Air Date: November 18, 1991
This entry is the closest I could find since TNG was likely on winter hiatus at the time but I felt it was fairly appropriate. It's also the first entry in this specific journal.
"Yesterday it was cold. I stayed in and watched TV for 5 hours. Then did homework. Then I played and watched a movie. I fell asleep. I woke up. And I got to go to bed. 
I loved last night."

Hero Worship
Original Air Date: January 27, 1992
Again, this one isn't on the exact date (new episodes hadn't yet returned) and they would've been showing re-runs. 
"Tonight I can stay up as late as I want. I can watch late night shows. I can do anything I want. I love to stay up. I can play until 10:30. I can go to bed at one in the morning. But I like to watch TV best." 

PS- I think it's fairly plausible that the person on the TV is Worf. Just look at the haircut. 

Cause and Effect
Original Air Date: March 23, 1992
I picked this one out because it's one of my favorite episodes. I have a very clear memory of watching this one for the first time, feeling that sort of Hitchcock zoom trick your mind plays when it suddenly turns inside out.  I would've written this entry on the day the Cause and Effect premiered. 

"This weekend I flew a kite. I saw old friends. I played with them. And I wrote my dad a letter. I built a "made". And a story box." 

A few things strike me about this entry. 
1-In spite of being pretty poor through a lot of my childhood, I had plenty of toys. Still, I was always building stuff out of cardboard. My journals from this time actually have a lot of little rockets and such and I have really strong memories of building sprawling doll houses and weird little dioramas. I still do this kind of thing. In my kitchen there's a recycling bin and, beside it, a pile of cardboard pieces that I want to use for paintings and projects and whatever. Sometimes I actually get around to those projects and sometimes they make the slow march into the bin. I remember this maid construction really well. She was made out of toilet paper rolls and a shoebox. I'm not sure what her hat was made of but, knowing me, it was likely a stollen coffee filter. 

2-Why a maid? I'm not sure. My mom worked as a maid for a while during this time. I remember going with her to a couple of swanky houses. One of them had a gorgeous mural in the basement. I remember thinking, "Wow, this place is so clean." And my mom was like, "Yeah, gee, I wonder why." 
So maybe I made a maid to help her out around our house. I mean, what else was I going to do? Actually clean? Clearly I was too busy watching TV. 

3- The letter to my dad. This was about thirteen months after my parents split up. I hadn't seen my dad since then and, in child years, thirteen months seems like about forever plus ten. My journals reflect the memories I have of my attitude from that time. A sort of weird practicality I had toward stressful situations. I missed my dad but I didn't mope about it. I wrote a letter and got on with my life. What else was I supposed to do? 

Boy, this is a lot of typing. I actually saved my hands up all day just so I could do this post. And I'm glad I did. I LOVE doing Generic Ensign and I'm going to keep those Vlog posts going but I do also miss speaking in my own voice. After all, that's sort of my whole thing—writing about myself, my life, my history. Hoping that somewhere out there it'll strike a chord and resonate with someone else. So, if you're out there, thanks for taking this stroll down memory lane with me. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Generic Ensing's Vlog #6: New Ground, Conundrum, Ethics

You may have noticed that I skipped over the legendary episode, Darmok, last week. I actually had a big plan for it but it kind of crashed and burned. Hopefully, the next time I watch TNG, I'll have the kind of time I need to put into it... or maybe I'll just come up with something else. In any case, I did watch it. Darmok is my favorite episode of any Trek and sometimes those are the hardest ones to cover.

This week I watched a slew of Season Five offerings and came up with Generic Ensign's vLogs for New Ground, Conundrum, and Ethics. I'd really, really hoped to do one for Cause and Effect but I couldn't come up with any ideas that lived up to the amazing craziness of the episode. There's still time.

Anyway, here's this week's Generic Ensign:

Generic Ensign's Vlog #6 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Generic Ensign's Vlog #5: Ensign Ro, The Game, Disaster, Unification

Generic Ensign's at it again! She's well into Season Five and trucking right along:

Generic Ensign Vlog #5: My Year Of Star Trek from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

In other news, back when I first started doing comics, I had this dream that someday I might be published in the very prestigious and totally awesome magazine, The Rumpus. Earlier this week, that dream came true with my graphic essay, Distance. Feel free to check it out!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Generic Ensign's Vlog: Clues, Qpid, Mind's Eye

Wow, apparently that last Generic Ensign Vlog I put up was the 500th MYOST post! I had no idea (clearly) but hooray! If I'd known, I'd have thrown confetti or made a Deana Troi cake or at least poured myself a big glass of Romulan Ale. But whatever, Congratulations to me anyway! And also you for reading this blog and sticking around and leaving comments and emailing me. I love my little Trek family.

My hands ARE getting better. Splints, physical therapy, finger strengthening exercises, rest etc etc are definitely helping but typing is still the worst. So, there'll be more GE Vlogs to come. Here's a brand spankin' new one covering TNG's Season Four episodes: Clues, Qpid, and Mind's Eye. Enjoy!

Generic Ensign Vlog #4 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.
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