Thursday, May 28, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Tattoo And Other Things

Alright, it's this one? This one where Voyager stumbles onto the planet that produced a bunch of Noble Savage stereotypes in Earth's 20th Century? As much as I often enjoy Chakotay's super-seriousness, as much as I like the idea of exploring the background of Chakotay's defining physical trait, as much as I think it's interesting to watch a character fall in and out of faith...I just never bought into this one.

So... instead I'm going to talk about something else right now. It's kind of serious and maybe depressing so, seriously, if you want to stop now, here's a link to a post I hear is funny:
A Tribute to Janeway's Hair
On April 21st, two things happened that were kind of a big deal for me. My second novel came out. And someone very close to me attempted suicide. Also, my heart exploded and I was knocked sideways off the tracks of my life. So, I guess that's the third thing that happened that day.

I realize that this attempt at one's life has little to nothing to do with me. But, I'm the person who lives inside my body and so that's my point of reference and that's what I'm going to talk about because (if you've been here any length of time) you ought to know this blog isn't just about Trek--it's also about me and if you're still here you're probably ok with that.

Some Facts: I grew up all over the place. I moved a lot. To date I've moved 35 times. I changed schools thirteen times before high school. I realized early on that I was already forgetting people, names, places. I didn't have the room or the emotional capacity to hold on to everything. I realized much later that I have Asperger's Syndrome (Oh surely not, you say, to which I respond with a list of symptoms--all of which I have) in addition to all of this which, in retrospect, seems like it made all this stuff both easier and harder. Either way, I adapted. I had a natural knack for letting go of people. I could smile, say good bye and never look back. Nothing malicious, nothing emotional, just an act of forgetting.

Some more facts: I struggle with my senses and my emotions. I overload easily and I find that deeply, hopelessly embarrassing. It's not something I like to talk about but here I go anyway. There aren't many things that trigger emotional/sensory overload but it does happen and when it does I have exactly two options, which, for the purposes of making this post at least tangentially connected with Trek I will refer to as: 1-Warp Core Breach and 2-Jettisoning The Core. Basically, I either shut down or I melt down. There's not a lot in between and neither are pretty. To avoid both scenarios, I take precautions. I separate myself from things, people, situations that might set me off. I take time for myself. Every day I take time to be and feel quiet. And... I pack a lot of the metaphorical crap I don't want to deal with away into metaphorical boxes.

So that brings me back to April 21st. My book was released and it was quite a nice day. After several years struggle and work and suspense, Silver Tongue was a real life thing. Then, that evening as I was doing some research for a new project and enjoying a bowl of ice cream, I got the news. Of course I went through shock, worry, relief as I found out what this person had done, worried about what led to it, and relief that they were still alive. And then, everything started to go wrong in my brain. It was as if I were standing in the middle of a forest and vaguely smelled smoke. How could I know a fire was raging all around me, closing in with every second that passed? I saw a spark here, a smoldering patch there, I tried to put them out. Nothing worked.

Again, I realize that this person's attempt on their own life had nothing to do with me. I realize it's not about me. I realize they have their own issues they need to heal, their own wounds they need to nurse etc. I felt guilty for feeling like my world was burning down. I overloaded.

But this time, it was as if my brain could neither commence the breach nor jettison the core. It wavered relentlessly between the two. Like a coin that won't stop spinning. I felt trapped. I couldn't forget this person, couldn't let them go with a smile and a wave and a simple deletion. Thirty years worth of metaphorical crap I'd been packing away suddenly exploded into my life and I couldn't get rid of it. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I couldn't make it go away. I couldn't put the fire out or make the coin stop spinning or re-pack the boxes. My writing life came to a halt. I felt as though my creative self had burned away. I opened projects and closed them. Took out watercolors and put them away. Nothing worked. I got by. I ate ice cream and I lifted weights and I even managed to squeeze out a blog post or two. But nothing felt right.

I spoke to my two closest friends. Their words: Everything you're feeling, just write it down. So that's what I did. I sat down one day and wrote for two hours. I put all the metaphorical crap in chronological order. In this way I categorized it, I ordered it, and I put it away. It wasn't magic but it did help. Without order, I flounder. Without the ability to categorize my emotions, my experiences, my relationships, my life, I feel like I'm drowning. Now, I'm on the mend. I've managed to get back to work, to write new pages and new blog posts and finish some long over-due art. My heart has thumped all the way through the writing of this post but I'm here and I'm feeling better.

So anyway, I came here and wrote about this for two reasons:

1-I've been keeping up with this project for two and a half years now. You, my readers, have been with me through a lot. This project, both the act of writing it and the knowledge that someone out there is reading it, has helped me in countless ways and it seems fair to both of us that I should include here something that has been such a big part of my life lately.

2-In my time writing about Trek, talking to people about Trek, thinking about Trek, I've found that a lot of us seem to struggle with our own, deeply ingrained emotional issues. A lot of us feel like we're trapped in our own minds, our own bodies, our own lives. Maybe that's one reason we tend to seek out stuff like this, why Trek appeals to us. Maybe it's the inherent optimism of the show, the way the characters unfailingly work together toward a greater good, the way episodes resolve themselves neatly and send their crews into a new, promising adventure, the way our captain will always be there as a guiding force in our life. Whatever it is, I know I'm not the only person who finds solace in fiction and especially Star Trek. And I want you to know it too.

I want you to know you're not alone.
Even if it feels like you're in the middle of a forest and your whole world is burning down.
You aren't alone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Persistence of Vision

So this is the one wherein Janeway's holo-hunk starts getting really kissey-kissey with her and I can never remember if the whole "Janeway in a Gothic Novel" plot actually goes anywhere or not. Every time they show up again, I feel like it's the last time. I guess I'll just have to wait (hopefully not for too much longer) and see.

Anyway, the Voyager crew runs up into some space wherein Janeway keeps getting the sensation that something super odd is happening. Tea cups and smooching are involved. Then, it happens to everyone. The whole crew begins to see representations of the folks they left back home and it's not long before Voyager is just about dead in the water. Lucky for the crew (and bad for the aliens trying to take over) the ship is also manned by a holo-doctor and a super psychic two-year-old.

Persistence of Vision is essentially a showcase of the inside of every character's heart. It's the kind of sci-fi idea that plays quite well in Trek because it gets at something very real through something that toes the line between goofy and creepy.

This one tends to leave me thinking about who I might see if I were stuck a quadrant away from home. Obviously, I'd see my husband. I'd like to think I wouldn't have left him back on earth like a chump but he wouldn't even need to be that far away. B'Elanna fantasizes about a roll in the hay with Chakotay (for some reason and I'm really glad they stopped that) and he's just a couple decks away. So, I think, the actual premise is that it's about what you want most, and how that can be a distraction.

Certainly, Scott and I distract each other. For the last eighteen months or so we've both worked at home and we're both writers. We help each other flesh out stories, pull out the snags in our plots, poke holes in each other's arcs, and offer up ideas on a near-constant basis.

Today, though, Scott started a new job that doesn't involve him being home with me twenty-four hours a day. It's just me and Bunny. And it's a little strange. I never get lonely and I never get bored. It's not that. I always have stuff to do--too much, actually. And it's not that I don't have someone to talk to--I talk to myself a lot (like, really a lot, like... in the grocery store) but it is rather strange to turn around and he isn't here scribbling away on a notepad or watching something for research or shuffling cards.

So, I guess what I'm saying is this: If a malevolent alien, knowing exactly what I want, decided to show up here today and try to convince me to stop working on my various projects, I suppose he'd show up as Scott and say, "Hey, let's take a walk and talk about our stories," it would work. Because, even though I curse and roll my eyes at Janeway every time she's taken in by the facsimile of Mark in the turbo-lift, I realize today I'd do exactly the same thing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Voyager Re-watch: Adventures in Babysitting

"Chart a course for Planet Hell!" aren't really the words you'd jump to when dreaming up a My Two Dads meets Dinosaurs nanny adventure but, with Voyager, that's just the kind of thing you get in "Partuition." Of course it's Janeway who says this line and, of course, I love it.

The rest of the episode is mostly a lot of arguing about whether or not Tom has a crush on Neelix' girlfriend as well as the care and keeping of an infant reptile. This is pretty much where I hit my limit with the jealous boyfriend version of Neelix and if it weren't for all the stuff going on in my life right at the moment (and for the last couple of months), I'd be way past this point in Voyager by now.

I have four younger siblings but I was eleven by the time my oldest sister came along. The first time I held her, I thought she might break.

Though, actually when I first started babysitting, it was somebody else's kids--a seven and eight year old and I was twelve which seems completely ridiculous now but at the time I felt like a 100% ready-to-do-this grown-up. I taught myself how to make boxed macaroni and cheese and silver dollar pancakes at their house because that's what they wanted. I took them on walks. We did art projects. We watched cartoons on cable--a huge luxury for me. It was a good summer.

I babysat my friend's little sister (my friend was not into childcare) and went on road trips and ate hot grapes in the back of a hot volvo in the middle the hot North Carolina summer.

I watched out for my first sister. I kept her whenever I was living with my mom and she needed me.  I watched countless hours of Wishbone (which I loved) and Barney (which I didn't) and I read stories and played pretend and baked cakes. I stayed home from school while she--a toddler at the time--had strep throat and couldn't go to daycare. Later, I braided her hair and introduced her to Weird Al and watched as she got to be too big and I was too far away for me to keep an eye on her. Still, her life went on. She did a lot of the stuff I never had a chance at. She mostly grew up in one house, one school system, one town. She played soccer and joined band. She attended a nice magnet school and got a fantastic education which prepared her for an even more fantastic secondary education. She spent a summer living at the beach. She went on hiking trips and camping trips and spent a New Year's Eve in Times Square.

In short, she thrived. All while I wasn't looking. I just had to trust that she would turn out alright.

And that's kind of what our two reluctant babysitters have to do--once they stop bickering about who loves Kes more. They ultimately watch as their puppet's parent picks it up and takes it home. Then, they hightail it back to Voyager and away from Planet Hell. But, of course their adventures in childrearing are far from over. Before the show is done Neelix is a beloved godfather and Tom is somebody's dad. Meanwhile, I'm somebody's sister.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Generic Ensign's Log: Twisted

***BAM! It's a new feature, people!***

Stardate: I think it's Wednesday. 
-Went down to the mess hall for some breakfast. My BFF, Neelix, was making a gorgeous Jimbalian Fudge birthday cake for Kes' birthday. Apparently they're having a party later for her over in the holodeck. 
-Did not get an invite :(

Stardate: Still unsure.
-I was on my way to engineering and somehow ended up back in the mess hall. 
-Currently drinking all the coffee. 

- I talked to Baxter and he said he ran into Lieutenant Torres in the transporter room and she couldn't get to engineering either. There's a rumor we're going through the wake of a spacial implosion or we've been eaten by a huge subspace monster  newly discovered and important life-form. I think it's some kind of inversion field.  
-I just spent what seemed like forty-five minutes wandering around the corridors and ended up right back here. 
-I feel like the whole crew's stuck in a bottle but the bottle's all twisted up.

Stardate: So apparently it's Thursday now. 
-Everything is back to normal, I guess, except Neelix seems really pissed about some necklace and he was angry baking all afternoon. 
-What the hell happened today? I'm going to bed. 

***Oh! By the way! I was recently interviewed by the Sci Fi & Fantasy Network!***

**Also: My new book is now on GoodReads! Go add it to your list!**

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