Internal Development About Dragons Over a Pot of Tea

Hi y’all!

So, I had to take a break off reading fantasy novels. Which, sadly, is the raison d’être for reestablishing this blog as something a little more substantial than a place to vent. I decided to write a few more chapters of a story I’ve neglected since the Big Move, which has been progressing at an optimistic pace. But I find myself in a bit of a bind…

As you may be aware, I am an avid fan of stories. They can have dragons, involve vikings, court intrigue, or really anything. The only thing I truly hated reading about was Ancient Roman & Greek history because of all the damn pots. Seriously: ancient history is divided by what era made what type of pot. So super-duper fascinating. It may sound as though I am uncultured swine or degrade the efforts of the classicists but that is simply not true. I’m a more modern historian though; I search for relevance through written records. NOT GODDAMN POTS. Just a preference. 

Whew, tangent. It’s such a bad habit, so I apologize. But, yes. Stories. I don’t so much collect them as much as I absorb them. I’m terrible with instructions; I will ask someone to repeat something many, many times until it clicks. But tell me a factoid about you that is random and completely irrelevant? I will remember that shit forever. It was a bane to my studies, as I included the most unimportant facts out there (Chinese nobles used to circumcise themselves with vegetables cutters ) and be completely amazed by them. I would spend paragraphs on that stuff just because I was so fascinated by it

But my dilemma is this: my story is super interesting; no false modesty there, I would read the hell out of this book if my worst enemy had written it. It has its issues (the plot isn’t crystal-clear yet, the characters lack some of the depth I want to expand on, the setting needs a bit of work) but the biggest thing is that I’m scared of any feedback. I’ve debated posting any passages on here for y’all to peruse, so I thought I’d throw it to the wind and ask: would any readers be interested in helping me out? This isn’t a blog with a massive following, or even that many views, but I’d like it to develop a more communal feel. 

I’ll start with a wee bit of context on it: the Earth was rocked by a pan-dimensional explosion, triggered by a nuclear camp becoming infected by dark magic, at the tail end of WWII in 1945. The resulting explosion opened multiple dimensions where the gods of old and new reside and all the worlds suddenly collided. Witnessed firsthand by Harold Doyle, an out-of-luck veteran of the European war living with his parents in rural British Columbia, he then embarks on an epic quest, with the entire Norse pantheon as his allies. Generations later, his granddaughter Maggie and her friends undertake a similar quest, only instead of trying to hide it she needs to show it to the world and help them remember what they’ve lost. During her quest, Maggie has to fight a gruesome rogue pack of werewolves and befriend the peaceful tribes that live outside the city of Lockstock. 

That’s it, in essence. There’s so much more that I just love about this story so far, but I just need some help developing it outside the whirling storm that is my head. Plus, I think a few of the characters who have waltzed in would really benefit the genre and offer a greater worldview to potential readers.

Hopefully, a few of you will be on board :)

I’ve had a rather large mug of tea and now I have a wide variety of thoughts swirling about -whew-. I think one of the main issues I’d like to discuss about fantasy though would be dragons, as they have a rather special place in my heart. I will not wax poetical or sentimental about these imaginary beasts, but they are a true stalwart of fantasy. They are oft portrayed as majestic, omnipotent and wise beings or as feral beasts seeking to destroy mankind. Something I haven’t really seen about dragons is as mystics and guardians, although that role has been touched on. In the guardian aspect, the Ouroboros in The Neverending Story would suffice, although they don’t really serve in an advisory capacity.

What I personally would like to see develop from dragons:

There are soooooo many ways dragons can evolve in fantasy. The closest high-profile dragon protagonist I can name at the moment is Temeraire, champion of Naomi Novik’s sweeping alternate Napoleonic Wars saga of the same name. Having never read the Dragonriders of Pern by genre heavyweight Anne McCaffrey (and feeling a bit old for it at 25), I am told that those books really set the precedent for Westernized dragons to gain solid footing in fantasy.

Let’s take a quick glance at Lord of the Rings. There was one named dragon in the main series: Smaug. He is the stereotypical dragon; hoarder of treasure, territorial, malevolent and a streak of utter indifference to anyone but himself. There was talk awhile back about Smaug possibly being a caricature of Jews in that time period (super-touchy subject which I will not touch without proper sources), but more or less, in fantasy, he solidified several tropes that writers use.

The treasure-hoarding aspect of dragons hasn’t been used in a long time, and I have no idea why. In secular religions, like Wicca, dragons are regarded as beings of good fortune so perhaps that seedy tendency to hoard their treasures could be metamorphosized into something more metaphysical. They could be carriers of good intentions, positive energy and a source of eternal happiness. Should they still retain their bestial tendencies? Absolutely. They aren’t dinosaurs though and should not be treated as though they are mindless beasts. It would also be lovely if some authors could open a physics book once in awhile to understand that dragons over one hundred feet long can’t fly on bat wings. Explain the magic behind it. If they can say the Force is powered by bacteria, you can give some tangible reason a gargantuan lizard with a belly full of combustible gas is able to fly through the Earthly sky when the biggest natural thing up there is a goddamn heron. 

Anyhoo, this is one of my more ranty posts on here. My caffeine high has decided to abate, my stomachache has returned with a vengeance (and a really sharp stick to poke my insides with), so I will retire to sleep. I will include in this post one of my favourite dragons: Bahamut, the platinum dragon king from Dungeons & Dragons. Hey, this site is about nerdy things, too! I’m a nerd! Look up his stats; he’s amazing.

Image

 

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

Just A Reminder…And a Review (“Queen of the Dark Things” by C. Robert Cargill)

I’m still here!

It’s just been an insane month! I’ve started working at Starbucks and have either been too tired or constantly working to update this old thing. My humblest of apologies.

Now, what shall I write about…? I feel as though I should stop writing about my personal life. It’s…crawling forward with many different possibilities, but if I dissect them on such a public forum, I think I’ll regret it later. As much as I’ve treated this blog like a diary, I believe I shouldn’t talk about my love life so much, if at all. It’s complicated enough. Although I will say that my friendship with Grundy has become a lot more positive. I’ve started hanging out with his best friend (who is a lady, like myself) and am going to see his band on Saturday! Yeehaw!!

I’ve recently thrust myself back into reading and writing. Thankfully, that means that this blog will be updated more frequently and I will put more care into crafting it the way that I want. I’ve recently met someone who is (if possible) more nerdy than I am. Actually, he’s the nerd prototype; loves tabletop games, anime, and all the stuff I like as well. Basically the only true divergence in our collective nerdiness is towards his infatuation with those two elements of nerd criteria which I sadly do not meet. He’s loads of fun and a good friend too. 

He and I get into regular discussion about fantasy novels. Now, y’all know of my love for Discworld, but I do love a great deal more than that. I have recently finished reading the sequel to Dreams and Shadows (Harper Voyager, 2013), Queen of the Dark Things (Harper Voyager, 2014). I reviewed Dreams and Shadows last year and it seemed favourably received, so I thought I’d try again. I already wrote a quick review of it on my Goodreads account (merrily linked here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/20732407-jillian-mcclelland) but I intend to go a bit of a different direction with my one here.

In terms of its contribution to the fantasy genre, I think Cargill is doing something very interesting and opening a few choice doors into how fantasy can evolve. The inclusion of historical demons is fascinating and almost throws the whole series into a folkloric spin. Almost. We still have the ever-troubled Colby to deal with, but with every appearance of him I fall more in awe of his character.

Colby Stevens remains a character that fascinates me, although I cannot quite pinpoint why. It could be that, on some level, I view him as a caricature of my older brother and empathize with his situation more. Or it could easily be that this hapless protagonist is just someone trying to do the right thing without ever knowing what the right thing is. But this series has the potential to go full Supernatural on me and just become a battle of angels and demons for the rest of the series. If this happens, I’m out (just like I was with Supernatural). Although I don’t truly think that will happen; the inclusion of aspects from Australian mythology and folklore keeps this book firmly grounded in its roots and Cargill doesn’t deviate too far from his original formula.

I loved the first book simply because of my deep appreciation of faerie tales and how intrinsically they are wrapped into my own psyche. With Queen of the Dark Things, there is a more historic and the essence of an unfamiliar culture which fills the story with heart and intrigue. There are many things that I can argue about with Cargill’s writing: the action happens suddenly, or there is a lot of build-up to a huge battle with no resolution, and that few characters outside of the ones Cargill seems especially invested in feel complete. The Queen herself felt…thin. She was bottled rage and pain, but those seemed to be her only defining characteristics. I understand that sometimes characters don’t need to be much more, but with the importance she had in Colby’s past it should be a given that she’s a little deeper than a characterization of pain. It was obvious and I didn’t feel invested in her redemption.

Now, I loved this book. I liked its nuances and Cargill’s particular gift with dialogue is always fun and makes the 431-page book clip along happily. The depth of history and folklore that Cargill invoked is admirable and serves as a great platform for readers who are interested in the sorts of mythology not commonly discussed in our particular culture. And it’s always nice to see Colby mucking things up with pure intentions once again. Plus my growing love for urban fantasy is a motivating factor into my appreciation for this book. Would I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy? Definitely. It is not the deepest or most engrossing (think Tolkien or Martin for references on absorbing fantasy literature) but it is a fantastically fun read, even if it does get very unexpectedly dark sometimes.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 golden burritos.

Image

 

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

Social Media: Disengage

Hi all!

Been here for a month now, but I’ll be heading back to stay with the fam-jam for a few days over Easter weekend; I leave tomorrow and will be back in TO on Monday. I have my first shift at Starbucks next Wednesday (the 23rd) and I really am looking forward to it! My new boss seems like a lovely chap and very accommodating.

I’ve also started volunteering at a local museum – Campbell House. So if you’re ever in the area, I’m the bushy-haired redhead who will be looking around the place in a dreamlike state. I’m mostly helping with events for now, but eventually I’ll get to the point where I can lead a tour. Hopefully.

I’m trying not to think too hard about my “relationship” with Grundy. There is very obvious sexual chemistry between us, which makes the whole friendship a lot harder. We’re working backwards (making the friendship after dating for a little while) and all I can think about is throwing him down for a tumble then having a deep conversation about Star Wars after. It does not help that I am currently PMSing, and thus my emotions and hormones are all screwy, but my gods…if he smiles at me again, I may just throw my panties at him. Anyone out there watch Archer? Because the entire situation between he and I can be summed up with the phrase: Danger Zone

But I seriously have fallen for Toronto. It’s bloody, bloody expensive to live here, but there’s just so much to do! I’ve been enjoying my down time; reading, going into bookstores, spending huge amounts of money that I don’t really have, and just perusing. My favourite place is Kensington Market. I could walk around there for hours and always find something new. Graffiti Alley is especially fun to walk down, as I have a little piqued interest in street art. Maybe it ties to my love of tattooing. 

Anyhoo, in relation to the title (I digress very easily): has anyone else noticed how saturated we all are by social media? Heck, even online porn sites ask if you want to share a link to the video you just watched on Facebook or Twitter. Yes, Grams, please examine my midget amputee porn. We’ll talk about it over dinner tomorrow night. I’m not saying that people actually use that feature, but it exists and that simply means that at least a percentage of users/consumers have expressed an interest in wanting to share their kinks.

It doesn’t exclusively extend to taboo aspects of society either. I cannot count the amount of wedding albums and new baby albums that I’ve seen all over my Newsfeed. I mean, I spend a lot of time on Facebook (it keeps me feeling connected when everyone I know is far away or unable to be with me) but I do not post every thing that has ever happened to me. I do not see the reason some people have to share every moment of their lives, especially children who have no idea what Facebook is. I’ve had friends who have set up accounts for their two year olds! What the heck, y’all? Your kid is adorable (all babies are) and yours is special to you. If you want family members to see Baby Jr., email them the photos! Why boil down every essence of your personality to your ability to care for a combination of you and the partner of your choice? Pride? Vanity? The fact that you believe that your sense of self is now tied to this blubbering, drooling mass of twitching limbs and frequent bowel movements? Come ON. 

Don’t misunderstand: I love babies. I even want a couple once I get my life on track (someday -crosses fingers-). But I refuse to saturate my friends with baby pictures, baby posts, constant relationship updates, constant relationship gripes (that’s what this blog is for!), and nonsensical updates related to aspects of my life which other people will simply not care about in a few hours. This constant sense of connection, perhaps, makes people deluded into thinking everyone cares about Baby Jr. shoving carrots up his nose for the third time this week. We don’t. We really, really don’t. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have kids, but some mothers (who I know are proud as all fuck of their children) don’t bombard us regular people because they want to keep the moments for themselves. Holy crap, way to be revolutionary! No sarcasm, but in this age of over-saturation of everything, it’s nice to see some people can keep things under wraps. 

Now, I have to go get ready for dinner with my uncle. As always, here is a completely unrelated picture to lighten this rant of a post:

Image

 

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

New Adventures, Old Friends

Well, here I am! Living in Toronto!

So, things are not going to go as planned with Grundy. Apparently, because I had planned them. No relationship now, but we’re going to try really hard to be friends without benefits. I adamantly refuse to enter into another situation like an FWB, so it’s all I can do. I want him in my life, he seems to want me in his, and I’m willing to compromise to have it so.

ANYWAY, here I am. I’ve been here a week and will likely have a job within the next week or so. Yay, Starbucks! It’s a nice city, although mind-bendingly big. I had not realized just how big until I had the week to myself so I could explore a little. I didn’t know where to go (I still don’t, really) and Grundy took me into a nice little hole-in-the-wall bar that I really liked. The Green Room, it is called. It doesn’t help my exploratory urges that my uncle’s place (where I’m staying) is about 15 minutes from the nearest subway station and a further 20-odd minutes to downtown. It’s only been a week, but my pants are already noticeably looser! Not that I was abundantly chubby to begin with, but it’s nice that there’s still enough to shrink from.

But now I have an entire week or so of unemployment left. I might figuratively go out of my mind. I wish I knew more people in the city (aside from Grundy, even though he is exceptional company) so I would have more of an option to see parts of the city. But, alas, I know one person and he is constantly busy with his business (one of the main reasons we can’t be more than friends right now) so I am left to wander the wastelands of Toronto, getting lost on the subway and trying to eke out a little place for myself.

It’s hard because I am very hermit-like and am used to being solitary. Not completely by choice, but I really am still recovering from that Johnny fiasco that ended last year. I can’t date yet. Grundy was going to be the exception; I know him, I like him and I want to spend time with him. But he can’t do it, and I’m truly not ready yet. It bothers me, only because I felt it could work. But it takes two, and it made me realize that I want him in my life no matter what. He’s not going to date or sleep with other women (so he told me) and I’m not going to date other guys (even though he told me to). I won’t wait, either, but it just isn’t a priority for me. I hope that makes sense.

Anyhoo, my uncle will be here soon to take me to his friend’s place for dinner. I can’t wait to get my own place soon, but I’m more than thankful that my uncle is able (and willing!) to put me up for a little while. As always, here is a picture that is completely unrelated to anything:

Butts

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

The Importance of Women

Hello all!

So I had a very productive jaunt to Toronto a couple weeks ago. Connected with my ex, reestablished a friendship (with a possibility for more) and am actually moving there in early to mid-March. Woo! 

I ended up quitting my job that I’ve been at for 6.5 years. It was beyond time and I was just growing sick of the place. So much drama, so many cantankerous customers and I was beyond it. Time for a new start, in a new place, surrounded by new people. I’m scared to death and am riddled with my own insecurities about things. Specifically my own worth and level of awesomeness, but it might be because I’m too close to the storm to see the full map. Scary.

But! into a review, I must go. This isn’t a review specific to any book, but rather the most beloved series I have ever had the joy to discover: The Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. Although it is one of the more popular fantasy series out there, there is not enough significant praise to Sir Pratchett and his deviously delightful books. Although, personally, the quality in their writing has slipped since Pratchett’s descent into the later stages of Alzheimer’s, all respect should be given anyway because he is continuing to write. And respect should also be given due to his contribution to the fantasy genre during its more pivotal evolutionary stages since the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons entered fantastical canon. 

The books themselves read in an almost satirical voice to the typical fantasy tropes set by the likes of Tolkien and Leguin. Both of the latter authors displayed more misogynistic viewpoints that created a forced perspective, and a large majority of the fantasy genre (until recent years) focused on pigeonholing their female characters into damsels or whores. I’ve always tended to read Pratchett books in any order I find them, so I have recently begun ploughing through his third Discworld novel, Equal Rites (1987). It’s really, truly great. It addresses the tropes of women in fantasy (as well as children in fantasy) and creates a witty, strong and childish character in Eskarina Smith. As the eighth child of an eighth son, she was destined to be a wizard, but the wizards of Discworld (specifically the major city of Ankh-Morpork) this was a terrible development. 

Eskarina’s powers differ greatly from the typical magical caste reserved for women – witchcraft. Yet, her sex prevents her from being taught to control her magical prowess. Although I have not finished the book yet, it has already been a magnificent ride. I was not yet born when this book was published, but I can imagine the ripples it may have caused a reader of fantasy at the time. Firstly: the concept of magic is viewed as an entirely practical force in Pratchett’s world. With wizards, it is entirely theoretical and rarely do its practitioners dabble in actual spells. Conversely, witchcraft is entirely practical in that it encompasses parts of regular human life, particularly midwifery. Witches are respected by their villages, but wizards are revered. There is a minor inclusion of warlocks, who can traverse both divides, but there is no female equivalent of a warlock.

If one were to think about women in modern fantasy, the first thing that should pop into your cranium is The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. It is filled with strong women, although they too are limited in what they can do in their world by virtue of their sex. But I have recently picked up the superb Hild by Nicola Griffiths. It is not a fantasy novel, but a historical one. It has some fantastical elements (basically, the titular character is believed to be a seer to her king) but it shows that women can be strong in a typically male-dominated culture.

Pratchett has an obvious love for women. One of his strongest, and most enduring characters, is Granny Weatherwax. An old witch who is definitely not the sort one would consider beautiful or a damsel, in any way. But, my god, that woman is fantastic. She never admits to ignorance, is inherently prideful, but so knowledgeable and written with a deep love for people. She is strong, fearless and dauntless. She has long been my favourite inclusion to the Discworld universe, apart from Death (who is beyond fantastic – more on him in another post).

As normative gender roles begin to blend away in modern society, fantasy is becoming an increasingly widely-read genre, encompassing both main genders as well as all the iterations of it. Fantasy is moving slowly into the mainstream and, before introducing popular gay or other genderqueer characters, there should first be a movement to create some depth and strength to their female protagonists. It is possible and it should not have to be said, especially with the greater role women are taking in other forms of media. That is not meant to be taken that women should be portrayed as men with uteruses: there are abundant variations for understanding and portraying femininity, without all of them having to become lesbians or lose all aspects of traditional femininity. A real woman is a woman who identifies as a woman and, although fictional women are not physically real, they should serve as inspiration to their readers. And Sir Terry Pratchett is a pivotal point of understanding how women should be portrayed in fantasy. Get on it, lads and ladies.

And now, here’s a drawing of Granny Weatherwax (front and centre) being flanked by the wonderful Nanny Ogg and Magrat:
Image

 

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

Hip Hipsters are Hip

Hey all!

I finally managed to get my tattoo done! A lovely devil mask, right above my left knee. A bit larger than I intended, but he’s just beautiful. Hard black outline with yellow, orange and red in the negative space that makes an effect not dissimilar to a stained-glass window. I love it so much. It’s an illustration from a Ray Bradbury book, and I feel like it’s special to me. Quite a few people actively dislike it, but I didn’t get it for them. I find a few of my tattoos express some form of darkness that I have buried deep within. Maybe it’s a positive therapy for me to do this then.

Anyhoo, I will be heading out to Toronto on Thursday until January 30th. The main motivation for this trip is to find a different job, as working in the grocery store has become almost unbearable. I wake up some days and feel actively ill with the anticipation of going in for a shift. I need some new venture, a new place to be and to spread my wings a little farther out. I will do my level best to not fall into the rhythm of many others may age and simply work to pay off debt. I have no debt, so I am essentially free. That’s incredibly sobering, but doesn’t necessarily lend to motivation. I have lacked motivation since graduating university; what is there to do? What is the purpose of achievement? Instead of going out to discover it, I curled up and stayed in a place I hate, living with my family and working an unreliable job filled with sycophantic drama queens. It makes me nauseous. 

I can’t wait to see my uncle, and I can’t wait to see Grundy. Although, he hasn’t answered my text about hanging out. I hope all is fine with him, although I’m not worried. Sometimes, he can go days without texting back then reply and all is well. I’m patient, when it comes to him at least. 

One small thing I’ve noticed: I am slowly falling into the cookie-cutter stereotype of the contemporary hipster. In high school, I was considered “emo” based on my music choices and my comportment among my peers. Also the fact that I tend to speak like a cross between a rapper from the ’80s and an early 20th Century British aristocrat may have been slightly off-putting to people. Dem’s the breaks.

I was recently sitting in a small coffee shop in Montreal while waiting for my tattoo artist to get set up. She said I could go grab a bite and take my time getting back, so I went to this particular shop (Sweet Lee’s…great place!) and ordered myself a ham-and-red-pepper quiche and some herbal tea distilled from fir leaves. I was dressed comfortably: a black Tshirt, jeans, Doc Martens, a hand-knitted orange hat and a pale red plaid button-up that was completely unbuttoned. So, I sat at an empty booth and whipped out a massive book from my equally massive purple purse and got comfortable. My iPhone was next to me, practically begging to snap a photo of the steaming quiche and the clear tea to be posted to Instagram. I picked up my phone, opened the app…and looked up to find an old man staring, mug of coffee hovering in front of his face. I slowly came to the realization of what I was doing. I put the phone back in my purse, cracked open “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin and meekly stuffed my face with that delicious quiche.

That small episode triggered a little light inside my head. I look a lot younger than I actually am. I’ll be 25 next month, but I could still easily pass for a high school sophomore. Easily. The disparaging look thrust at me by a weathered man, who has seen a few generations grow and blossom throughout his life, believed my instinctive reaction to share the world what I was eating to be strange. Why was my reaction instinctive? Why was it so important for me to let everyone know that I was eating one hell of a great quiche? Was it because it was a damn good quiche? Did I want to boost some awareness of Sweet Lee’s? Nope, I just thought people would be interested in my quiche.

This brings me to hipsters, a sub-culture with which I am rapidly acclimatizing to. I don’t want to, it’s just happening. It’s a vastly pervading facet of Westernized culture that grew with the advent of independent music throughout the early 2000s. I watched it happen, I helped it happen and now it has happened to me. BUT…this is not a bad thing. Certain pockets of society have always gathered to demoralize people based on their cultural preferences and particular brands of self-expression, and this hispter wave is no different. I have always identified as a punk, personally. I love the music, I love the movement and I love the freedom of self-expression present within that culture. But, if I feel myself falling behind the tattered, patched veil of the DIY punks into a more stylized and fabricated land of hipsters, then it can’t be so bad? It’s simply a different variation of cultural and personal expression and, as long as I don’t become an insufferable asshole, all will be well.

I’m falling asleep as I type now, so I should fall into the land of Nod. I shall leave you with an image of my new tattoo and my fondest hopes that everyone is having a wonderful week!

Image

 

PS: That’s totally my leg. Not bruised, just a lot of yellow ink that soaked into dry skin.

Cheers!
Jill xoxo

What Up, 2014?

Well, I totally blanked out for awhile there.

I’m no longer talking to Dan. This time, I am fairly confident that I did not mess it up. Hurrah for emotional and social progress! I simply became upset at the fact that we had been texting (pretty much everyday) for three months without ever hanging out in a relaxed way. By that, I mean that we never saw each other outside of work. I was pissed. He wasn’t answering my texts which had direct questions in them so…it’s done. He’s cute, seemed smart, kinda interesting…but he’s a wuss. Couldn’t even be bothered to make a reply, or to apologize for it. Whatever. There are other guys out there who are equally interesting, smart, and handsome. I will go find me one of those ones. 

Once again, nothing new has occurred. I wake up, I do some yoga, I shower, I play video games, I work, I watch hockey, I drink, and I sleep. I live vicariously through my books and video games and then I crash to some very exciting dreams. My town was hit with a pretty nasty flu a few weeks ago, during which I lost my voice and a good bit of my energy. I still have the deep, dry cough but I’m feeling quite dandy.

So far though…2014 has been a good time. I know we aren’t even a week into it, but I’m liking it more and more. There is a high chance I will be shifting my big ol’ arse from my parents’ place to move down to Toronto in the near future. I’m not truly a fan of the city (it’s mindbogglingly massive and filled with Leafs fans), but there are many pluses to moving there. For one: JOBS. I could actually go places, armed with a resumé, and apply for jobs that don’t require a nametag! Fuck a career right now, I just want me a better job! The second: New people and an increased proximity to Peterborough peeps. It’d be a six-hour bus ride to Cornwall from Toronto, but it’s at least a hub I can use to visit the people who are so important to me. The third: This may sound strange. It was strange to me at first too, but I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it really hard and….I want to reconnect with Michael Grundy. He oiled the gears of my brain by saying he’d like to give it another try, but I’m cautious. He damn near broke my heart during our first tryst and he is not allowed to hurt me again. It just isn’t allowed. And I miss him. Gods, how I’ve missed him. His erratic, charming babble, his awkward kisses, his warm hugs, that goddamn smile. It’s that stupid, frigging smile that I picture every time I think of him. It defines him completely. I remember when I was dating Johnny (a whole fucking year ago, thank Christ) and he was being a complete fuck, I would think of Mike. Just that smile…the one he’d make when he’d lean in to kiss me. Or stroke a hair away. It’s a stupid, baseless sensation; Mike and I dated for six weeks in the summer of 2012, but I keep going back to him in my head. 

That fucking smile. Makes me wax poetic like some sort of girly girl. Ugh, I need some whiskey.

Ahh, that’s better. Nice big swig of Jameson, conveniently located in a 40 beside my bed. Anyhoo, moving on from the emotional mire of ex-boyfriends…I am getting a new tattoo on Wednesday! Right smack on my thigh. A nice pin-up girl of Poison Ivy (aka Pamela Isley) of DC Comics fame. She is innate sexuality, and I’m getting her as a little tongue-in-cheek ode to the nerd culture that I love. She was my first girl-crush: I wanted that confidence, that swagger, those plant powers. She was one of my all-time favourites growing up and, to me, helps define women in a man’s subculture. I know DC made her bisexual which is great, but I don’t identify with her based on that, considering that I’m a straight female (but bravo, DC!). I have always found it difficult to be accepted in any subculture or group of any kind growing up. Very hard. Being nerdy, being bookish, and loving punk rock in all its forms has defined me throughout my entire life. So, I will be getting my Poison Ivy as a celebration of non-traditional femininity, badassery, and as an ode to a culture which defined me and accepted me.

Wow, sidetracked. Anyways, I think 2014 will be a good one. So many possibilities for it…so many mistakes to make and grow from. Will the eventual move to Toronto be a defining moment in my life? Will reconnecting with Grundy be the right move? Will I finally, finally, find a job which I will love and apply myself to? Will I grow into the woman I am or the woman I want to be? Questions, decisions, and choices abound in the year coming…and I am just so excited. 

Here’s the picture of what I’m getting on Wednesday, minus the text:
Image

 

Cheers and Happy New Year!
Jill xoxo

Let’s Talk About Bioshock…

Hi all!

First up: Yay, week off! I spent it mostly lying in bed, watching movies, reading books and just generally melting out of reality. It was fabulous, and needed although I did not anything that I truly wanted. I did not get a tattoo, nor was I called for any job interviews. I simply existed, and it was great. I did get my first ever facial done, which amped up the relaxing aspects of my staycation. I have plans to visit (and possibly move) to Montreal within the next little while, so fingers crossed that something actually comes up!

But I need to talk about this. Over the course of my life, I have had a deep connection to four things: literature, tattoos, music, and video games. I indulged three of those things this week (and have had Gaslight Anthem on repeat for awhile) but nothing hit me harder than diving into the world of Bioshock.

For the uninitiated: the first game is an Ayn Rand-inspired dystopiawithin an underwater steampunk city named Rapture, run by capitalists and corrupted scientists. The abandoned halls are filled with rabid drug addicts (addicted to a substance called ADAM; these addicts are called Splicers), Big Daddies and Little Sisters. Big Daddies are brainwashed  and bioengineered dudes who repair the city and assist the also-bioengineered Little Sisters in collecting ADAM from dead splicers. Why? I can’t write it without basically spoiling the end of the first game and I refuse to spoil anything.

The only thing I wish to convey is the absolute depth of vision and execution of an eternally complex plot that this game did. I have waxed about the benefits of video games to the Millenial generation before, and I will continue to do it for a long time. The Bioshock series is essentially a FPS game (first-person shooter) but the combat is not the outstanding aspect of the series. In fact, the combat aspects detract from the awesome story and I felt frustrated in a few instances where I had to fight a particularly difficult enemy, just because it diverted my attention away from what was happening. The whole series has a gritty noirish aura about it and is only heightened by the steampunk elements thrown in.  Although the steampunk style is mostly just through the machinations about Rapture, it heightens the sense of mystery and otherworldliness without it even being another world, per se.

Of the three games though, Bioshock Infinite is my favourite. Although the setting is not the most wonderful (floating city named Columbia, built as a religious extremist’s paradise), the story is, ahem, infinitely more complex. The first Bioshock game had an amazing and fresh story, but Infinite expanded on it in a way that makes many more games possible without losing any of the charm that is inherent in the series. It loops back in on itself and, though there is not much dialogue, the plot is found largely through audiophones scattered throughout the game which contain anecdotes from supporting characters. It’s a fantastic way of furthering an amazing plot in such an action-packed and fast-paced game.

But what is truly remarkable about each iteration within the Bioshock universe is how relatable and heart-shattering each story is, even within the fantastical settings of Rapture and Columbia. There is a magic that reflects certain aspects of the human condition which we are sometimes better off ignoring: the pull of twisted ambition, the quest for immortality, the pursuit of science beyond the means of morality, and the respect for fellow humans. These themes are so relevant and pertinent for future generations to experience and dissect: how simple ambition and good intentions can become a twisted, dystopic mess that affects far more than they could ever have imagined. My favourite character was the Luteces: they introduced the concept of alternate realities and how deeply science (especially misguided science) can leave the greatest impact. Although they did redeem themselves for the most part, there was still the knowledge within the gamer of this ache and heartbreak towards their actions. And there is so much brainwashing in this series, I seriously cannot write about one instance without delving into the mother of all tangents. Play this game; you absolutely need to.

Once again, I must push that video games should not simply be regarded as mindless escapism. There is a deep and very human aspect of them which deserves to resonate, far beyond the more stylized reimagining of cowboys and Indians that is Call of Duty, but more attention needs to be paid to games with these fantastic stories. It’s pure story-telling and it’s an absolutely undervalued form of  art that is wildly overlooked. I felt the same way about comic books for so long, and now suddenly they’re popping up everywhere. However, the story-telling got lost in transition and it’s all about the big explosions or special effects now. That should not be the case with mediums like video games; they have near-infinite length to tell their story and it’s always beautiful when done appropriately.

So…would you kindly give Bioshock a try?

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

Image

Welcome to a Whole ‘Nother Post

Hello all!

Been awhile (again) but there are a few new things to plough through. I’ve been talking to Dan pretty much regularly over the last month and he’s a fantastic slice of humanity. But, he’s been AWOL the last couple of days and has not replied to my texts. I have no idea what’s up with that and it’s bugging me. It’s only really annoying because of the abruptness of the abandonment, but I feel confident that communication will resume eventually. It’s the waiting that sucks.

This would normally be the part where I wax on about the fantastic parts of Dan’s character, but I think I will keep those feelings private. He is becoming a good friend, someone who is (usually) easy to talk to about a variety of topics and who does not judge. He’s pleasant, happy, nerdy, and just the right blend of rebellious and proper. I like him and quite enjoy being his friend. Maybe it will turn into something more (it’s been hinted at in conversations), but I’m unsure. And that’s all I shall say about him and I.

I saw Johnny’s brother the other day, which continues to leave a sour taste in my mouth. We didn’t talk, he just skulked around the store and stared at me. I felt incredibly awkward, even though I gave him a smile he did not smile back. He just stared. It was so achingly uncomfortable, I have no idea whether or not he will relay the encounter to Johnny. Frankly, I don’t truly care; simply curious.

I have been graduated nearly two years now and am no closer to achieving a viable job. I think I have officially given up on the pursuit of a career, if only because I don’t have the patience for it. I looked at my transcripts from school and realized that a “B-” average is not going to get me into further education. It left me slightly bereft for a few days, woefully toiling over new ideas for what I can do with my life that would honour my degree. I’ve always wanted to own my own bookstore-cum-coffee shop but, aside from having no idea where to begin, I don’t know what I should specialize in.

I have always had this idea…these towering oak shelves stuffed with books, a ladder on a track making each shelf accessible. I want the place to smell of old paper, fresh coffee and baked goods, and of wood polish. I want there to be almost no room to move among the shelves, but a wide open area where people can curl up with a coffee to study, read a book, or just relax. 

It’s a nice dream. It gives me comfort when I find myself hurtling towards the Dark Places. It buoys my enthusiasm for talking with people. The only real gripe I have about my current job is the constant barrage of customers; I can’t deal with a lot of people at once. It makes my heart palpitate and I get close to shutting down. With this bookstore idea…it would be smaller and more controlled. It wouldn’t be a Barnes and Noble or a Chapters…it would be this small venue where people could just be. I’d like to think of adding on a concert area for night shows, and popping a bar in there. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish that requires careful planning and budgeting. To another day. And here’s a slightly related photo

Cheers,
Jill xoxo

Image