Tag Archives: philosophical and intellectual musings

I Need Diverse Games – Because seriously, I just do.

If you’re not on Twitter, then you are missing out on a growing movement called #INeedDiverseGames. You can search for the hashtag on Twitter, or see my Storify tweet highlights here.

Writing about this topic feels tiring for me. It’s tiring because I feel so weary of the insensitivity that those who oppose the call for diversity in games exhibit. I can’t deny that our side has some holier-than-thou members who get a tad unfair in their quest for equal representation. But the arguments against are just willfully ignorant much of the time. When close-minded jerks like Youtuber TheInternetAristocrat snidely tell me that I should quit whining and make my own games…well, first of all, many of us (including myself) already TRY to make our own content across all kinds of media, including games. We just get rejected by executives and publishers because they’re too afraid to support us. And when we go indie? We struggle to be seen at all, and even get accused by fundamentalist gamers as not “producing real games” like Gone Home was so unfairly told.

We aren’t trying to hijack the gaming industry. Do you want your cishet white guy protagonist, and your tired misogynist plot-lines? Sure! Go ahead! But many of us want games we can relate to as well, and we shouldn’t be mocked or threatened by individuals who refuse to see things from our perspective. And by “our”, I mean women, people of color, LGBT, people of various faiths, and so so much more. I don’t hate white people. I don’t hate video games. I love video games. That’s why I want to see them excel. Video games have shown that they can and are an art form, and studies have shown a growing diversity among its consumers. Game developers should be encouraging that growth, not ignoring it.

As a hispanic bisexual woman, I would like to see more games produced that show positive examples of women in central roles, LGBT characters who aren’t vilified or caricatured, and PoCs that achieve more than speaking like stereotypes and engaging in acts of crime.

As I said on Twitter, I want the video game industry to be something that broadens my son’s view of the world, not narrows it.

If you feel the same way, please check out this hashtag stream on Twitter. Talk about it on your blogs. Hell, reblog this post. Because we need a change. And soon.

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Let’s Get Together! – The Unfortunate Disconnection in the LGBT Fiction World

Since opening up my fantasy novel, Tributaries, to pre-orders, I’ve noticed something that both surprises me and disheartens me at the same time. When I made the decision to write for the LGBT community and its allies, I realized that I would have to face the challenge of connecting with a very niche and (at times) remote audience. In the super-abundant world we live in now, where getting your voice heard is hard enough in a cishet market, I’ve learned that LGBT fiction just plain has it rough. Marketers still have no idea what to do with these kinds of stories. Do you lump them all together under romance? But then what about those stories that are more fantasy/adventure/thriller/sci-fi/etc? Do you list those under the specific genres without mentioning the LGBT aspects? Ah, but the reviewers! What if they complain on their blogs and customer reviews that they felt tricked when the protagonist fell in love with someone of the same sex? Well what about just attaching ‘romance’ to the primary genre, and hoping for the best?

It’s all just one hot mess.

It isn’t unusual for brick-and-mortar stores to lack any self-identifying LGBT work, either. A sad fact, as I’ve read a number of LGBT books that are every bit as good as some of the nonsense that gets on the best seller lists.

But this isn’t the disheartening surprise I alluded to earlier. I’ve known the reality of scarce LGBT outlets for years. No, what surprised me was specifically the lack of support and structure for lesbian fiction. Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried hunting down LGBT blogs who I hope could connect me with my target audience, only to find myself disappointed when the site clarifies that they are actually only interested in m/m fiction. Uh, say what? Why the heck would you use the full acronym if you’re only interested in a single aspect of it?? You see, the fact is that m/m fiction has a much bigger community of support than f/f. (Don’t even get me started on bi and trans…)

It’s not that I haven’t found lesbian sites dedicated to writing or reviewing lesbian fiction. I have. But half of the sites I found were defunct. Then the remaining active sites were sadly narrow in scope (i.e. erotica only, print books only, fan fiction only, paranormal romance only, books with positive reviews of 2 or more only, etc…) And on social networks? I primarily use Twitter for my social marketing (it’s about all I have energy for–though I dabble in Tumblr) and I can’t seem to find any of the les fic authors anywhere. A quick google search also proved that there doesn’t seem to be an LGBT group of writers out there interested in supporting and signal boosting each other. You’d think the LGBT community of readers would have come up with a hashtag or a retweet group to help promote what is already a neglected corner of the market. Something like #LGBTrds or #LGBTbks. Something! Anything! Erotica, paranormal romance, dark fantasy, and horror fiction are doing it, why the hell can’t we? I even tried searching blog hops (which are basically author events on blogs featuring interviews, free books, cover reveals, etc.) and the last LGBT blog hops were last summer! That was over a year ago now! The one LGBT fiction blog hop that I could find that was held this year was actually ended prematurely and shut down for good. Yeah. It apparently went down for lack of participation. Not encouraging.

Now I know what you might be thinking: But Illise, if you hate it so much, why don’t you do something to change it? MarkTheShaw did it with #IndieBooksBeSeen on Twitter and Tumblr, didn’t he?

Simply put, no one gives a fuck about me. I don’t have the status or the connections to set something like this in motion. I suppose I could try to contact someone who DOES have these things to help me, but let’s just all refer back to my first point regarding the lack of fucks people give me, then infer what the result would be.

Okay. I had my little tantrum. I can’t have been the first LGBT writer to have thought along these lines, and I bet those who came before just learned to deal with it. You find a way to make it work, or you don’t. I’ve been promoting my work on a number of Indie Author hashtag communities, and it’s not like I’m not getting some help. The people on #IAN1, #IARTG, #IndieBooksBeSeen, #IndieAuthor, and #ASMSG are wonderful folks! But the point isn’t just to blast your work out to a random audience. It’s to target your efforts so that the people most likely to want to read your work hear about it at all. That’s really the major issue. LGBT fiction feels like a grain of sand lost in an indifferent ocean when marketing to a general audience. You can’t use #LGBT on Twitter either, because dear god, that stream moves waaaay too fast and is inundated with LGBT political and entertainment news.

As LGBT authors, our little slice of the literary world is tough and challenging in a market that already has plenty of obstacles to overcome. But it could be so much better if we could pool our readers together and support one another, especially since most LGBT authors are signed with small press or are self-publishers. It isn’t as if anyone is looking out for us little guys.

If, after reading this post, you feel that I am in error, then please enlighten me! I want to be proven wrong, even a tiny bit. But if you’re in agreement, why not share your thoughts on why the LGBT author community is so disconnected. Do you agree that lesbian fiction is not as well off as gay fiction? Just to be clear, a lack of readers is not the issue. That’s more a marketing challenge, anyway. But why do LGBT authors seem so disinterested in connecting with each other?

Oh, and if you ARE a LGBT author, please please please connect with me. I love RTing LGBT fiction on Twitter! I’m @cajeck. Send me a DM and I’ll add you to the LGBT author list I’m trying to form. 🙂

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Writers and the Long Tail: Hope for the little guy

The following was written in 2013 and was an examination of the book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson, for my Creative Writing degree program at Full Sail University. It explores ways of reaching niche audiences and the benefits of reputation economy. If you don’t know what “the long tail” is, click here to see my Youtube post for an explanation! The questions in bold were questions provided by my instructor at the time. The assignment was to provide answers from the book and industry examples supporting the excerpts I chose. I’m posting this here now, hoping that my work might help others. Chris Anderson’s book really changed the way I look at my own work and the industry and I think everyone should read his work!

If you like this essay, please consider checking out my e-book, Tributaries, and help me realize my dream!


  1. The Internet and digital storage has created a nearly infinite shelf space for all media types, but it has also given the tools of production to anyone with a laptop computer. In this new world of super-abundance how will writers distinguish themselves and their work?

Writers can distinguish themselves by targeting their writing, publishing, and distribution efforts to niche audiences. Understanding how to effectively sell and/or advertise one’s work is understanding the vast diversity that is the Internet. Many people surf the Internet, but not everyone goes to the same places online. Those primarily interested in science and history for instance, are very likely to frequent accurate scientific and historical wikis, forums, and blogs. Conversely, they are less likely to visit sites about video games, childcare, or car customization. That isn’t to say that these Internet users won’t web surf based on their other interests, but the point is to target your audience, and if you were writing a science or historical based work, you would seek to distribute and promote your writing at the places these Internet users frequent for such things.

The pitfall of many writers is failing to capitalize on new and effective Internet tools to distinguish themselves. It is true that there are many easy methods to publish and distribute, but there are other frontiers that can help increase your visibility with potential readers. Video can be a quick and dirty way to get readers to visualize the basic premise, setting, and genre of your story. Music is prolific on the internet, and offering a free download of a song you commissioned from a musician with information about your book or author website can spread very quickly. Social networks have also provided a way to connect with people outside of your personal circle with the use of hash tags, categories, and other special filters. Writers need never restrict themselves in how they wish to promote and distribute their work. For new authors especially, Chris Anderson (2008) writes:

From filmmakers to bloggers, producers of all sorts that start in the Tail with few expectations of commercial success can afford to take chances. They’re willing to take more risks, because they have less to lose. There’s no need for permission, a business plan, or even capital. The tools of creativity are now cheap, and talent is more widely distributed than we know. Seen this way, the Long Tail promises to become the crucible of creativity, a place where ideas form and grow before evolving into commercial form. (p. 78)

Given this awareness, writers looking to be seen and heard in the super-abundance should not be afraid to try out new and experimental methods.

  1. Discuss the importance of Exposure Culture, the Wisdom of Crowds and how they relate to the use Filters in creating successful media ventures.

The Wisdom of Crowds was actually a book written some two hundred years ago by James Surowiecki about how the many can be smarter than the few. Anderson discusses this idea, using examples such as Wikipedia, and how the online encyclopedia’s constant growth and adaptation has both its upside—and its downside. On the macroscale, the results of instant updates to a staggering number of articles in real time shows how Wikipedia leaves such works as the Encyclopedia Britannica in the dust. But on the microscale, the accuracy of such articles and the risk of vandalism is the tradeoff for such emergent information.

The wisdom of crowds thrives on probabilistic systems as they “can scale nicely both in breadth and depth.” (Anderson, 2008, p. 69) The important thing to remember is that anything taken from these systems (be this a Google search or a book review) should be taken with a grain of salt. Such results, like Wikipedia, should be the first source of information, not the last. But there is a need for such trailheads in the infinite shelf abundance of the Internet, and this is why filters use such emergent information to help guide users and/or customers to products further down the tail.

Here is where exposure culture relates to the wisdom of crowds and search filters. Tim Wu of Columbia University is quoted by Anderson (2008) in The Longer Long Tail:

The exposure culture reflects a philosophy on the web, in which getting noticed is everything […] and at the center of this exposure culture is the almighty search engine. If your site is easy to find on Google, you don’t sue—you celebrate. (p. 74)

Exposure culture relies on the wisdom of crowds to influence the emergent information used by filters to get noticed. Without the wisdom of crowds, filters would be consulting old data and attempting to apply it to an unreceptive audience. Search engines, recommendation systems, and customer data must have constant feedback on Internet trends in order to best serve their users.

With proper attention and research, a person can observe these trends and take advantage of them to better promote their work, therefor ensuring that they take a more active role in exposure culture rather than a reactive role. A person can achieve maximum effectiveness for their media venture if they research top searches, hash tags, categories, and popular purchases within a certain frame of time. Sometimes, capitalizing on such information must be done within a certain period, especially for volatile trends, lest the window of opportunity closes.

  1. Cite an example from the text or other reading that exemplifies what you feel is the most important trend identified or illuminated in The Longer Long Tail.

In The Longer Long Tail Chris Anderson (2008) writes:

Why do they do it? Why does anyone create something of value (from an encyclopedia entry to an astronomical observation) without a business plan or even the prospect of a paycheck? The question is a key one to understanding the Long Tail, partly because so much of what populates the curve does not start with commercial aim […] One economic model doesn’t fit all. You can think of the Long Tail starting as a traditional monetary economy at the head and ending in a non-monetary economy in the tail. In between the two, it’s a mixture of both. (p. 73)

Anderson (2008) also writes:

[…] there is a coin of the realm that can be every bit as motivating as money: reputation. Measured by the amount of attention a product attracts, reputation can be converted into other things of value: jobs, tenure, audiences, and lucrative efforts of all sorts. (p. 74)

Given my personal experiences, these passages highlight the most important trends illuminated in The Longer Long Tail for me. Before joining Full Sail University, I had already begun my own journey as an amateur author publishing my original work for free online. I was attempting to build a reputation for myself, to gain recognition among the audiences I was targeting, because I knew there were others like me who wanted the sort of stories I wrote. When I explained to family, friends, or fellow writers what it was I was doing, the question always came—“Why are you giving your work away for free? Why are you throwing out all that hard work?” To them, my efforts seemed wasteful and shortsighted. Since I wasn’t making any money off of it, I had to struggle for a long time to convince those close to me that what I was doing was worthwhile.

Reading those words from Chris Anderson felt like having everything I worked for validated by someone who knew about economics, and not just knew it about it, but made it their life. I’d never been able to put in a satisfactory way why it was I was doing free online writing, because every explanation I tried seemed to make others doubtful or uncertain as to what it really meant. Anderson sums it up very nicely, and even comes up with a phrase to adequately describe the trend: reputation economy. The idea that a person could build their reputation to the point that it creates opportunities was something I’d always hoped for. Now I don’t hope for it, I work toward it.

But Anderson acknowledges that this isn’t a perfect fit for every product, a fact I agree with wholeheartedly. Not all of my works are a good fit for free publication and distribution, and I mean to submit these stories through more conventional channels. Yet I have no regrets for the decisions I have made regarding my writing so far. I now have an established audience and I have fellow writers that I have networked with. I have learned many of the tools and methods necessary to build a proper Internet presence given the paths I have taken. Many writers lack these skills, and I have the reputation economy to thank for teaching them to me. Now if anyone asks, I can tell them so, in no uncertain terms!

  1. How do you see immersion and interactivity changing the role of writers in the entertainment marketplace and how will you adapt to this phenomenon?

In the past, a writer’s work was very much like a brick-and-mortar store. The product, in this case the writing, was put out to market. Customers, in this case the readers, would acquire the work and read it. After reading it, their opinions were published in newspapers, and in the early days of the Internet, personal websites like Geocites (before the arrival of blogs). Any feedback a writer would get about a work would be after the act of publishing it. Even if new editions were released, the work largely remained the same—meaning major plot points and characters did not deviate too far from the original publication. Writers also chose their writing projects alone, based on their observations of the market (which before Web 2.0 was slow to adapt to immediate reader demand.)

However with the Internet now allowing for individuals to not just passively consume content, but instantly interact with it, this is no longer the case. Even reader reviews are subject to feedback. Blogs allow for readers to directly comment on content and have others view their comments and respond to those. Google Drive has the capability of allowing anyone with access to view a document being typed live, comment on it, highlight passages, and in some cases (if authorized) to edit the document directly. Silvia Hartmann wrote the first complete draft of her novel, The Dragon Lords, live on Google Drive. (“Author Writes A,” 2012) The manuscript is no longer available, but for a limited time, Hartmann’s fans could watch the story unfold live before them, and interact directly with the author as she worked. (Hartmann, 2012)

Another example of interactivity and immersion comes from an indie author and television writer, known online as MCM, who in 2009 wrote a novel in three days with a document fans could see updated live. (MCM, 2009) He barely slept, and even made it a highlight of his event to take pictures of himself at regular intervals to show how he was being physically affected. There was an ongoing chat as well as polls where people could participate in such things as choosing character names. 2009 was the first year I joined the weblit community, and so I was able to witness this event happen live. MCM described this form of writing as a sort of “performance writing” and given what I saw, I agree with him. (MCM, “3D1D Wrap” 2009) The focus of the project was still the writing, but MCM found a way to layer a new form of entertainment over it that got audiences involved. His novel, Typhoon, was completed, and is now edited and available on the market. Since I’ve seen this done, I’ve always wanted to try it myself.

Another author, known as T Campbell online, has worked on at least twelve web comics in his career as a comic writer. Penny & Aggie, a high school epic that spanned seven years until its completion in August 2011 (Campbell), was very popular with web comic fans. Campbell, who had dabbled in writing prose shorts featuring the comic’s characters, decided to explore storytelling on Twitter using one of the comic’s more popular characters, Sara. To do this, Campbell created a dummy account where he tweeted as Sara, creating a first person short story. Other characters, whom he also made Twitter accounts for, responded to these tweets, and readers could view the story unfold in real time and respond. The original tweets have been lost as the accounts Campbell created for the purpose of the story were deleted, but other writers, like those for the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, have also used the power of social media in this way for storytelling. (“The Lizzie Bennet Character”; Green & Su, 2012) This method is usually in combination with other media and websites, such as YouTube or Pinterest, and has come to be known as transmedia.

Silvia Hartmann, MCM, T Campbell, Hank Green, and Bernie Su (the latter two being the creators of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) provide great examples of how creators can use different tools on the Internet to create, publish, and distribute their work. I’ve long since wished to launch an interactive project in which readers could directly engage with me and the story. I may do a live writing event, such as MCM, or perhaps a transmedia project, like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or perhaps a new tool will be made available and allow me to do something completely new. Until then, I like writing and sharing my work online. I even make my incomplete drafts available for viewing and feedback on Google Drive. I believe I will have the time for something larger and more intensive after I graduate from Full Sail University, and I look forward to the experience.

Citations

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New Year’s Eve 2013

So this year definitely had its ups and downs. I faced challenges at my job, I faced challenges at school, I faced challenges with my writing, I faced challenges with my marriage, I faced challenges with my pregnancy, I faced challenges with my family, and I faced challenges with my friends. Most of all, I faced challenges in myself. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Do I regret them? No. Did I have to make some hard decisions this year? Yes. Some of them were very recent in fact. But 2013 is a year unique to all the years I have lived. It is the one year where I can look back and say, I am not ashamed. It is the one year where I feel I can stand tall and say, for all its bumps and steep climbs, 2013 is not a year I wish to forget. And that’s saying something, because this year had its share of painful memories. The worst of which came from back home, the place I’d been looking to as my sort of salvation from the isolation and adversity my husband and I have faced here in Georgia. Drama has splintered my family apart. Grave misunderstandings have estranged me to close friends.

…But you know what? I’m going to be a mother. And while I’m still grappling with the enormity of that responsibility, I find myself welcoming it, with open arms. All the challenges of 2014 will pale in comparison to the task of ushering in new life and raising it. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I look forward to it.

And 2014 will have its own joys too! I’ll be (finally) publishing the first full length novel of Eikasia to the ebook market. I’ll be graduating from my school, earning my bachelor’s degree, and seeking to start my new career. And for all its problems, I will be home, back with family where I belong.

So bring it on 2014. I’m ready for ya.

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The Notebook and HIMYM’s Dobler-Dahmer Theory

Okay…OKAY. So I just started watching The Notebook. I had to pause it JUST to type this because this scene was ridiculous to me:

I mean, I  realize that McAdams character gets her revenge by pantsing Gosling’s character, but this scene immediately made me think of How I Met Your Mother’s Dobler-Dahmer Theory:

For me? The Notebook’s “big romantic gesture” was straight into Dahmer territory.

As hot as Ryan Gosling is, if some guy persistently pestered me, then coerced acceptance through fear, I’d either kick him in the nuts or get the authorities.

Fine, fine. I hate party poopers like the rest of you. I can engage in a bit of suspension of disbelief. This is a romantic film, and we know that these two characters will inevitably get together.

But Rachel McAdams character tells Gosling’s character “NO” pretty clearly several times, and he proceeds to continuously invade her space, then manipulate her through bullshit antics. I guess as an audience we’re supposed to find this “roguish” behavior as charming. Yeah? Well when I was a kid I would’ve thought his persistence was romantic, now I just see it as menacing.

I guess I’ll keep watching this, but this isn’t a great start for what’s supposed to be such a huge cult movie…

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The Beautiful Perseverance

(My 200th post!)

Today I posted the latest update for Eikasia (Chapter 41.3) and it made me think of something.

The beauty of perseverance.

I was down almost a thousand words until meeting my word count goal and I was in a funky mood this morning. I considered saying, “No, I won’t write today. I’ll do it some other day.” The lethargy pressed down on me hard, to the point that even sitting up and looking at my computer screen seemed to take great effort. Negative thoughts ran rampant through my head. “You can’t do this. Your story’s quality is declining–not that it was that high to begin with. This update is boring.” What loomed over me was a big thick wall, and spray painted across it was the phrase: YOU CAN’T DO IT.

Then I just started typing. I ignored it all as best I could and just started typing. Did the feelings go away? No, actually. I felt like crap the entire time I typed. Almost unto the point of tears, even. But the point is, I got it done. After I read it to my husband and heard his input, I realized afterwards that this really WAS all just in my head, and there was nothing wrong with my update as a whole.

I’ve been very open on this blog about my struggles with depression-anxiety, and I’m proud to say that I’ve handled my pregnancy just fine, and haven’t had the need to resort to medications again since I kicked them to the curb October 2012. The thing is, while perhaps the degree of my sudden funk is not what most experience, to have a funk AT ALL is something I think everyone can relate to, especially with writing. I guess the point of this little post was to just say…if I can do it, so can you. Sometimes you just have to chew through it. Yes, even when it is really bad. What perpetuates depression is not depression, it’s our willingness to allow for it.

My husband’s been watching The Ultimate Fighter on DVD, and while I recognize that many of you aren’t into MMA fighting (or even despise it) I wanted to share this insightful bit of advice from fighter, Chael Sonnen. I think it can be applied in any person’s career, hobby, or lifestyle, including writing.

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Fred

In my most recent podcast, I mentioned that I was going through a lot and learning a lot about myself as a person. I know I must’ve said this a thousand times before, but I think it is even more true now. I’m making serious decisions about my health, my lifestyle, and dealing with a lot of emotional wounds, both old and new. As some of you may remember, Halloween is my favorite month, and I have a particularly high interest in the macabre. I don’t have co-morbid idealizations mind you, I just think zombies and werewolves are fucking awesome. Sometimes I feel like a little monster myself. My friend, Aprilfish, will probably scold me later for saying that (check out her awesome hug in my Return to Cali post!) but I gotta say it. At the least, I feel like a ghost in my old life, and a shambling undead in my new life. Where do I go? Where do I fit? Yeah, yeah, yeah, roll your eyes. I’m young and going through THAT phase. Meanwhile, I’m still just a spirit haunting old haunts:


That, however, was not why I wanted a zombie tattoo on my right shoulder, nor was this some sort of plot to piss off my family or my husband (though I still managed the latter by accident). The above tattoo was originally artwork from Bernie Wrightson, an EC Horror veteran who is perhaps best known for his late ’80s comic adaptation of the classic tale of Frankenstein.

The concept for the tattoo didn’t come to immediately. My good ol’ buddy Aprilfish helped me figure out what it was I really wanted. I had all sorts of ideas…another X-men tattoo, a tattoo of my astrological signs (Sagittarius and Dragon), or maybe even a silly tattoo of my favorite game of all time, Team Fortress 2. But among these ideas was one for a sort of old school horror inspired tattoo—something comic book styled that would work well in black and white, something with the supernatural: zombies, werewolves, witches, even vampires (which I’m not a fan of). I wanted something inspired from the 40’s and 50’s EC Horror comics. Given that this is Halloween month, the direction seemed clear, especially given the almost visceral emotions I’d been feeling since returning home. That was when Aprilfish pulled up this little gem:

Not to sound cheesy, but this piece immediately spoke to me. It was beautiful to me. Many people would not use that word to attribute to this artwork, but that’s how I felt. The way the undead rises from the ground, head thrown back, palms up toward the sky, free of the burden of both life and society. This is a beauty based in a grisly fantasy…or maybe it’s the reality. Since coming to California I’ve been struggling with my identity as everyone around me talks about the “real” Illise Montoya. It made me feel alienated and angry. What image was I failing to satisfy? What role was I neglecting? As far as I was concerned, who I was–an open bisexual with liberal political views and a love for horror and fantasy–that was IT. That was the reality! But some people here at home didn’t respond in very nice ways, and it got me thinking…FUCK other people’s “image” of me. Maybe the “ugly beauty” was the reality they needed to deal with.

But to be fair, I’m in a transitory phase. Today’s me could be tomorrow’s Casper. And that very well could be the case. After much drama and debate, I have decided to stop taking my anti-depression and anti-anxiety pills. They are just messing with my mind and my life too much. I want to find a better way to live. Surely some of you have been through this, or have an idea of what this is like?

The last meaning this artwork held for me was obvious. As you all know, my Aunt died last December, and I’ve been struggling to deal with it ever since. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but my grandmother, my abuela, has been having severe health problems after her recent surgery. My family is essentially waiting for her to die. My mother hides her pain well, but it leaks through her “image” like blood through a mask. In the end, what the above image made me feel was relief. A sort of acceptance of death. That despite a person’s demise their “true beauty” lives on in the memories of those that loved them. That’s why I had the tattoo artist, Adam from Creative Visions, put in Latin beneath the tattoo, Venustas Immortalis, which means, “Eternal Beauty.”

Anyway…I hope you guys have a better idea of what it is I’m going through down here. It was also just a nice opportunity to brag about my new tattoo. Oh yeah. My husband…he didn’t like it. I sort’ve forgot to tell him that I was getting it (I’m sorry honey!) But we talked about it, and things have been smoothed over. He’s decided to name my zombie ‘Fred’. I think I can deal with this.

It’s the other stuff I’m worried about!

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THIS IS NOT AN EXIT – American Psycho Further Explored

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“We really don’t care to know if you’re afraid of Virginia Woolf. Stay home and freak out. Buy a Chainsaw.”

So in my recent trip through dark cinema, I once again touched on American Psycho, and for some morbid reason felt the need to fight through the novel the film was based on. While it is as mind-numbingly shallow and violent as I remember, I managed to (sort of) read the whole thing this time. I read much of the beginning, then about 50-60 pages in, started skipping forward through scenes I perceived as boring. I didn’t just skip forward for Bateman’s depraved acts against humanity, but some of the black humor tucked away in all the banality of yuppie culture. Like when he tries to speak “ebonics” to two black men, when he writes a racist haiku, when Luis Carruthers confesses his love to Patrick, when Patrick breaks up with Evelyn, when Bateman and Price try to get high off of Sweet n’ Low, the sudden and outrageous admissions that Bateman makes on a regular basis (but whom no one hears or takes seriously), his awkward meeting with Tom Cruise…and lots of other little moments. Not really laugh-out-loud funny, most of this stuff, but still amusing in its own, dry, sardonic, dark way.

I remember trying to read the novel way back when, and at the time, I just couldn’t because I found it morally reprehensible. Well after watching something like A Serbian Film (dear god, avoid that movie at all costs) the scenes were a lot more bearable. I even noted a satirical outrageousness along the lines of Takeshi Miike’s Ichi the Killer where the violence is so over the top as to seem cartoonish. Not to say that any of the rape, torture, or murder scenes made me laugh, but they did paint an interesting picture of a man who can be understood to be a giant black hole. Perhaps my desensitization also allowed me to see the eerie parallels between Bateman’s detached description of his home stereo system, and the violent ways in which he kills his victims. The detached tone helped, I think, in stomaching the otherwise graphic details described in the book.

The only character in the entire book that Bateman seems unable to kill is Jean, his secretary. When I watched the film with my friends back in high school, the theory was made that Bateman spared her because he needed her to keep his illusory life going. At the time I quietly felt that there was more to it than that, and after reading the book, my feelings were reinforced. Why DID Bateman spare Jean, even in his hallucinations? Because Jean was the only person in his life who genuinely cared for him, but more important than that, she was OUTSIDE of the shallow yuppie lifestyle that Bateman was entrenched in, and hated so much. On page 266, Bateman envisions him and Jean running around Central Park on a cool spring afternoon, laughing and holding hands. They buy balloons and let them go, perhaps a symbol for Bateman’s possible salvation (though we know he doesn’t really find this). When Jean is first introduced, Bateman narrates that she will be someone he “will probably end up married to someday”. In the section marked “The End of the 1980s” (pgs 371-380) Bateman has brunch with Jean. In the conversation that follows, Jean confesses her love to Patrick, and Bateman asks her if she owns a briefcase or a roladex. (in his mind, he’s comparing her to Evelyn) Jean replies that she does not own a briefcase, but she does own a roladex. Suspciously, he asks if it is designer. She replies that it isn’t. He feels relieved at this news.

After this conversation, nothing further seems to develop of their relationship, as Bateman slips further into his insanity. I found a very interesting write-up online by Chris Schaffer that explored Bateman’s possibly mental problems. Among those discussed were: Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depersonalization Disorder, and Comorbid Idealization. It goes on to state that Bateman has a weak super-ego and a strong Id, which leads to little restraint when it comes to his violent acts of depravity.

It really explains a lot about his character, and it draws interesting parallels between his psychosis and his career. As one involved in mergers and acquisitions in the 80s, Bateman was in a hyper-masculine world where companies were “violently” taken over, or dominated, and cannibalized. Along with his need to feel powerful and manly, Bateman fears anything that threatens his capabilities and hates everything that is the antithesis of his weak super-ego. When this happens, the metaphorically violent nature of his work becomes manifested literally through his Id, which moves to protect his fragile image. Chris Schaffer goes on to state that everything Bateman states comes from some external source–be that periodicals, television, film, or music. Nothing he says is original, thus resulting in his almost pathetic, cartoonish caricature of a rich yuppie.

Reading the Patrick Bateman wikipedia page, I was surprised to find that there was a series of fake emails collected into what is known as American Psycho 2000, which was meant to be an advertisement campaign for the movie. None of the emails were written by the books author, Ellis, but he approved each of them before their release, so they can be understood as canon. In these emails, it is revealed that Bateman DOES in fact marry Jean, but one child and twelve years later, he is seeking a divorce. He goes through counseling, less for the desire to become “well” and more for the desire to appear well, so that he can gain full custody of his 8-year-old son, Patrick Bateman Jr., often referred to as P.B.. He idolizes his son, believing him to be a beautiful, brilliant child with his father’s sense for high quality. The entire email series is transcribed here.

**For some reason, the site asks for a password. Just click cancel several times, and the popup will go away, allowing you to read. I think the reason it asks for a password is because the images displayed on the site are from a password protected directory of the site-owners. Not entering a password does not bar one from reading the email transcripts, you just won’t be able to see the images in some of them.

The emails are amusing (and is the source of the above quote), and they show an older Patrick who has fallen “out of love” with Jean (if one could say he was ever in love with her). The emails state that Jean, over the years, had changed, essentially becoming one of the shallow, materialistic women that Patrick despised (almost like Evelyn). As stated, Jean cannot get by a month without one hundred and eighty nine thousand dollars a month in alimony. Thus why he wishes for a divorce.

After reading the books and these outside materials, it made me want to watch the movie again. While I think my second attempt at reading Bret Easton Ellis’s novel brought me closer to his message against the materialism, narcissism, the self-destructive behaviors of the upper class, and the deteriorating effects our consumerist society has on humanity, I still prefer the movie over the book.

Please share your thoughts!

“Hey, I’m a child of divorce, gimme a break!”
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Nine-Eleven Ways to Move Ahead.

After School, We’re Waiting by ~ace68 on deviantART

5AM.

Woke with a groan that incited further discomfort from the source–my tonsils.  Once again, they were swollen.  I was immediately upset.  I had promised my 2nd graders apples and a movie today.  I couldn’t possibly work if I couldn’t even talk above a mutter.  I went and told my dad, who had been up doing his morning exercises (and one and two and three and four,) he was out in the back, having a smoke break. His eyebrows went high.  They felt like those volume levels you see on some of those fancy stereo interfaces–only his eyebrows displayed the level of my own dread, instead.

“Go to the urgent care today,” he said, cigarette smoke trailing from his nostrils. “Just to check.”

“You think it might be tonsilitis or something?”  I sounded like I was gargling water.  I had to repeat myself because I couldn’t bring myself to raise my voice.

“Go to the clinic, they’ll tell you.”

Two minutes and a google image search later, I go back to him.  “My tonsils don’t look like that!” (of course, as I’m talking to him, I’m trying to resist the reflexive swallow that my tonsils cause as they get intimate with the back of my tongue)

My dad, exasperated, waves away my skepticism.  “Don’t worry about it!  It doesn’t hurt to check.  You don’t want to go to work, do you?”

“Well yes, but not like this.”

“Then quit worrying about it.”

I go back to bed, but not before texting my site supervisor, just to let her know what’s what early on.  Wake up again at 6:30.  Get up out of bed and shuffle outside, with my hair upright and my eyes squinted to an Asian’s fraction.  “Daddy, the swellings gone down.” I sounded less dorky.  …Less dorky.

My dad rolled his eyes, but smiled a little bit.  “I said don’t worry about it!”  I was being a bit of an immature prat, I know, but I felt (feel) guilty.  I’m certain I’ll be told by the clinic to just stay home.  While I got why, I wished I didn’t have to.

Back to bed I go.  When I wake up again, my dad’s gone and it’s 10 ‘o clock.  The clinic opened at 8AM. “Crap!”  Up out of bed.  Check facebook, email, browser games, etc….then realized it’s 9/11.  I knew that earlier this week, but this morning I forgot.  Felt stupid.  My mind flashed back to that day, the shock on my mother’s face, the fear that hit me, sitting in bed, watching the planes crash into the towers over and over.  Decided I’d have to meditate on this.

I get going to the clinic.  While I’m waiting there, one of the ladies calling names catches my attention.  I recognize her immediately.  She was a girl from my middle school years.  She used to like humiliating me in front of others to make herself look like a bad ass.   I didn’t feel like running away, on the contrary, I stare her straight in the eye.  She was puzzled by my aggressive demeanor, but she didn’t remember who I was.  After I was taken care of, I paused to get her attention.

“Hey,” I say, voice still sounding funny.  I say her name a few times.  It takes a few tries before she realizes I’m talking to her.  She looks completely confused now.  “Do you remember me?” I ask, voice mild.  She said she didn’t, a bemused smile on her face.

The entire time I waited for my turn, I thought about telling her, flat out, “Hey, yeah, I went to school with you.  You made me want to commit suicide.  There were whole months that I’d wake up crying knowing I’d have to see you in class again.”

But I didn’t.

I just shrugged and said, “Yeah, I went to middle school with you.” Didn’t say my name, since she saw it on my clipboard.  “How’re you doing?”

“Good.”  A pause, the smile is a little fixed.  “You?”

“Alright,” I smirk and point at my throat. “Except…y’know, tonsils.”

“Oh,” she laughs.  A co-worker nearby, listening in, chuckles a little and smiles at me.

“Well, bye.  Take care.”

“Bye.”

I didn’t feel awkward or disappointed.  In a way, the encounter was still cathartic.  The moment she said she didn’t remember, it occured to me that there was no way to be angry at a person like that.  In truth, I had already moved beyond those past moments, and had even played the role of bully myself sometimes.  Who was I to judge?  Maybe she’s a better person now?  What use would there be in bringing up the past?  It wouldn’t make her any closer to being a better human being, and most certainly wouldn’t do anything for me.  I shrugged, got in my car and left.

After an hour waiting in the pharmacy (mostly my fault, I think I missed when they called my name) I came home.

…And that’s my 9/11 so far!  Just thought I’d share.

Did everyone enjoy Chapter 9.3? After the update I went to Oakland with my best friend. (who’s got her own site on Eighth Circle Studios, she just hasn’t done anything yet…go bug her!) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert there was incredible! Perhaps one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to (right there with my first–seeing Mindless Self Indulgence before they got big).  I was REALLY close to the stage.  So close that I managed to take this with my phone when Karen O came to interact with concert-goers:  http://twitgoo.com/38v4n It was a VERY good 9/9/9.

I wanted to maybe do a short update for today, but yesterday was so busy that I didn’t get a chance to even do a little bit of writing.  Today, I’m mostly going to try and rest.  Y’know, catch up with class reading and maybe start Eikasia Chapter 10.

…You guys will have noticed by now, but Eikasia has a new facebook page!  For every 10 new fans, I’ll do a special update, just like I did Wednesday.  So if you’re on facebook, show some love!  Spread the news!  Help Eikasia grow!

Till next time folks.

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