Musings of a Modern Warfare Widow

November 17th, 2009

Unlike most kids, I didn’t grow up with video games. I never owned a Nintendo or a Sega, and the closest I ever got to gaming was playing Dr. Mario on my daycare’s Super NES. My parents didn’t allow or approve of them (at least, that was and is still my impression), so when I reached high school, I was amazed that a person could get so involved in pushing buttons.

Cut to my relationship with J. He is an avid gamer. We host LAN parties. Midnight release of Halo 3: ODST? We were there. He owns and loves some of the most popular first person shooters (I didn’t know what that meant until I started dating him), as well as classics like Starcraft. I generally keep my position as observer and cheerleader, because I don’t have patience to learn all the controls. I dabble in Gears of War (Lancer with a chainsaw attachment! OMFGWTFBBQ!) and I enjoy Rockband, especially now that we have some Maroon 5 and Queen downloads. But the Tom Clancy stuff, the Halo saga….I just didn’t get it.

Last week, J picked up a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. He’s been playing it pretty nonstop, except when I make him go to work, eat, go to the bathroom, shower me with love and affection, etc. And at first, the game was, at best, obnoxious. I tired playing the first one, see, and there’s this training mission you have to do. And the Captain kept yelling at me to go faster. I don’t do well when people are yelling at me, so to complete the mission at all, we had to mute the TV. Yeah. I’m that pathetic. It’s okay, take a moment to scoff and contemplate exactly how big of a weenie I am. I’ll wait.

Anyway. When J brought home MW2, I was expecting more loud noises, and people yelling in British accents, and exploding, and J cursing “Ivan sonsabitches!” every time an enemy killed him. On those points, I was dead on. What I didn’t expect was that I would get sucked into the story line. Parts of this game have made me cry. I got attached to characters. I’m emotionally involved, and that rarely happens when I watch films, forget video games. But there’s a real, honest-to-god plot. A good one. One with twists and turns and surprises that left both out mouths hanging open. I want Modern Warfare novels. Now, if you please.

And then there’re the visuals. I have never seen a game so lifelike. Each enemy dies in a different way, even if they’re shot in the same place. Two head wounds will collapse differently. A shot to the chest and a shot to the back? Completely different. Just like reality. When you’re in Russia, the bullets make the snow puff up. Crawling on your stomach, next to a boulder, you can see every shadow and discoloration and crack in that rock. The attention to detail is mind boggling. There are trained attack dogs, and you have to break their necks, otherwise you’ll get mauled. I can’t watch when J does that, because it looks too effing real.

Have I mentioned the score? The pretty background music composed by…who was that again? Oh yeah. Hans FREAKING Zimmer. The guy who did Dark Knight and Gladiator (and Cool Runnings! Anyone else remember that movie?? We are the Jamaican bobsled team!). Ooh, and the VO actors? Kevin McKidd of Journeyman and Grey’s Anatomy fame, Keith David, who has apparently had a cameo on every show ever, and….50 Cent? What? The rapper, 50 Cent, he provides voices for all the extra bits not attached to the main campaign. I was surprised, too.

I know there’s still a lot of controversy about war based video games, whether or not they make kids psycho-killers, blahdeblahdeblah. I’ll tackle that issue another time (or simply refer you to Penn and Teller’s BS episode regarding that debate), but it’s safe to say that this game is definitely not meant for someone not yet in high school. I would maintain the most first person shooters aren’t, but the violence doesn’t take away from how masterful Modern Warfare 2 is. It’s a collaboration of all forms of fine art, and I think it should be recognized as art in its own right.

Needless to say, as soon as J beats it on Veteran level, I’ll be trying it on Normal. Possibly easy. Depends on how many characters are yelling at me.

Try a little tenderness

November 10th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that I needed to grow up a bit and let go of a couple grudges that I’d been carrying around.

I was friends with a girl at my junior college. We were very close, almost best friends, but I made the mistake of dating a guy that she was interested in. It hurt her much more than I thought it would, and she wrote me off the second I told her about the relationship. That was about a year and a half ago.

Then there was the issue of J’s most recent ex. She openly disliked and distrusted me. I showed her a fondness only occasionally, and usually with an agenda of simply trying to keep the peace. I took offense to some of her actions and was very much threatened by her role in J’s past. In short, there was never any love lost between us. But quite a few months have passed since that drama was active, and we have many mutual friends.

I sent brief notes to both women, similar in form. I’m sorry I hurt you. That was never intended. Time has passed. I hope we can be friends. Obviously they were more detailed and certainly more heartfelt, that’s the essence of what I wanted to communicate.

There was a small correspondence with the first, essentially saying that she couldn’t trust me and was completely indifferent to me…though the tone implied stronger feelings than ‘indifference’. I saw quickly that there was nothing to salvage, so I left it at that.

Nothing from the second. It appeared as though she had deleted her facebook, but she simply made it unsearchable, so no one outside of her friends list can contact her. I’m going to pretend that her recent decision to go off the map had nothing to do with her attitude towards me.

My personality is one that thrives on closure and resolving conflicts. I like the healing and the starting over, and it is extremely difficult for me to cut anyone out of my life. So, of course, it hurts very deeply when I try to reach out to someone and make amends, only to be greeted by more hostility. At this point, there’s nothing more I can do. If anyone has gone through similar experiences, though, I would appreciate advice on how to keep myself from internalizing everything.

I’m a homophobe! YAY!

November 2nd, 2009

Something really needs to be said about this whole gay trend.

If you’re gay, you’re a person. Lesbian? Still a person. Bisexual, Transgendered, Transvestite, or Straight. All people. Samey-samey.

So, tell me, why do we need to find undertones in classic literature that points to a character’s or author’s homosexuality? And, look, I’m not talking about Oscar Wilde, okay? That right there is pretty obvious. I’m talking Rip van Winkle. Or Batman (Batman is totally a classic, don’t judge). Screw homosexuality, what about sexuality? Last quarter, a young character in a book we were reading fell out of a tree and got mud on her underwear. My professor informed us that her muddy bottom symbolized her sexuality. I’m sorry, I thought that a ten-year-old getting dirty meant that….she was acting like a ten-year-old and making more laundry for her mother…because that’s what they do.

Today, I maintained that Robin (the first, aka Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing), Batman’s sidekick was not meant to be homosexual. That the relationships between Batman and all five Robins was one of parental….sometimes affection. Often annoyance. The tight clothing? All superheroes wear that. Because baggy shirts and pants might get caught on something. Like the villain. Not very productive when fighting crime. Also, not a sign of wanting to have sex with someone who has the same type of junk.

A gay superhero might be….oh, right. Silhouette. The lesbian from Watchmen. She was gay. How do I know this? Because the author said so. In the book. And she shared a bed with another woman in the film version. Her costume had nothing to do with it. Notice how speculation is totally unnecessary here, therefore quelling the debate before it begins.

Back to the main point–because I was so determined to prove my point of there being no homosexual relationship between Batman and Robin, it was insinuated by another member of the debate that I am a sadly closed-minded homophobe and bigot.

That ridiculous character judgment aside…have we really reached a point where there are only extremes? Is there a ‘with us or against us’ mindset in terms of sexuality? I don’t agree, therefore I hate or fear gay people? I think Women’s Studies is a stupid department to have in a university; do I hate women? I don’t think there should be a label like “hate crime”, because if you’re going out of your way to hurt someone, you probably hate them, regardless of what race, sex, gender, orientation, etc. So, that means I hate everyone, right?

At least I hate everyone equally.

Bring on the controversy

October 26th, 2009

Every couple weeks, I tune into Momversation, a video blog featuring a group of well-known Mommy Bloggers. The topics are usually pretty easy, like What Movies Do Your Kids Watch? or Balancing Parenting and Work. Okay, those topics aren’t ‘easy’, but I don’t think they’re exceedingly emotional. Today’s, however, dealt with the very sensitive issue of miscarriage.

I know quite a few women who have lost a child, and I am so, so sorry that they had to endure that pain. I’m terrified that I will miscarry, and given how common it is, I probably will at some point. I can’t imagine knowing that there is a child growing inside me, only to have it taken away from me before we get to properly meet. In a discussion of miscarriage, no one ever acts as thought anything less than tragic has happened. In that situation, even when the fetus was only in the first trimester, it is always considered to be the loss of a life.

So why, then, is a first trimester aborted fetus not considered to be living as well?

I don’t mean to be offensive here, but I honestly can’t see a difference. Two weeks or twelve, if I knew I was pregnant and then I suddenly wasn’t anymore, I would feel like I lost a child…I think many women would feel the same way. But some of those women might be pro-choice, and would then argue that a woman who has an abortion in the first trimester isn’t killing a child. It has died, it has died unnaturally, but it wasn’t killed? Because it wasn’t a fully formed baby yet? But it would have been considered to be a baby if she wanted to keep the child and it died all on it’s own?

What?

I think legislation should stay away from the human body, so I’m not taking a stance as politically Pro Life or Pro Choice. Morally, though, I have a serious problem with this double standard, especially when there are so many safe haven and adoption options.

I would really like to hear some other opinions on this, especially from women who have dealt with any aspect of this. Male perspectives are welcome, too….pregnancy affects everyone, in one way or another.

Not cake OR death….cake, sadly, is death

October 19th, 2009

I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before, but I am fed up with it to the point of wanting to maim.

Most people who read this are aware that I have a condition called celiac disease. It’s am autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that is caused by my body’s inability handle gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. When gluten is in my body, it wears away at the villi in my small intestine, which makes it harder for them to absorb nutrients. I have had it since I was born, but wasn’t diagnosed in high school, because I am mostly asymptomatic. There is no treatment or cure; the only thing I can do is stay the hell away from gluten.

Now, usually, I’m very good about that. I check labels at the grocery store. I have my own special bottle of soy sauce. If we’re all going somewhere where options are limited, I’ll get a salad. There are times, though, when I forget that I don’t have symptoms of my disease, and I’ll eat things without even thinking about what they contain. Like…Panda Express. All I wanted for two days was Panda. It’s one of my favorite places, and I thought I was being safe with sticking to the chicken and mushrooms and mixed veggies and steamed rice. So for two days, J got to listen to me whine about needing Chinese. I was finally on my way out to get some, but then worked called and asked me to come in early. So no Panda for Andi.

He had some waiting for me when I got home. Exactly what I had been craving, it was so sweet, and all was right in the world again. And I posted it on my facebook status, because I thought it was a freaking adorable gesture. It was because of that post that a fellow-celiac friend brought to my attention that there is NOTHING I can eat on the Panda Express menu. After a five second Google search, I discovered that everything there is cooked with soy sauce (oh, and not for vegetarians, the mixed veggies are cooked in chicken stock. Yeah).

This might not seem like a big deal, but it really does make my want to cry. I am so tired of dealing with this. I hate checking every label at the grocery store. I hate having to spend way more money on my food because it’s ‘special’. I hate having to research a restaurant before I can eat there. I hate being an inconvenience. I want to have a freaking pizza and beer, some ramen, and a slice of bread that actually tastes and feels and looks like real bread. And then an enormous cake with bright pink frosting. But having those things might mean that I get cancer in my small intestine someday. Or that I’ll become infertile. Fun stuff like that.

I thought I was doing well, but I guess I’ve just been careless. Time to crackdown. Again.

Some mad hardcore geekery

October 3rd, 2009

I’d like to take this moment to give a shout-out to Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast. It’s a weekly podcast discussing aspects of RPGs (Role Playing Games), things like types of players, effective GMing (Game Master…in other words, the one in charge of the game) methods, story arcs, character building, etc etc. I love the guys who host it; they’re funny as hell and they definitely know what they’re talking about. If you have any interest in gaming or want to learn more about RPGs, I highly recommend checking this out. Link is above, and they also have a Facebook fan page here.

Adventures in being a dog owner

October 3rd, 2009

It’s been a little over a week since we’ve acquired Molly, and my god, the progress. Today is the first day she hasn’t peed in the house, and that alone has taken a huge weight off of J and me. I’ve never trained a puppy, so there were a few days of experimentation as to what methods work, and there is a startling difference, at least when it comes to housebreaking, between the results from when we either reward her for good behavior or punish her for bad behavior. Putting Molly’s nose in her latest wet spot and then putting her outside did absolutely nothing. For the last two days, J and I have both gone outside with her and gave her a treat after she peed (before we only verbally praised her), and she seems to finally understand what it is we’re asking of her.

She is also (mostly) sleeping through the night; she’ll come to bed with us, wake up around two or three to come on our bed and snuggle, go back to her bed after a few minutes, and then wake up again around seven, demanding to be fed and let outside. It’s not a perfect system, but at least it’s stable.

The hardest part so far was the one night I had to break Molly of the incessant barking. J and I put Molly in our room to get her used to going to her bed at night without us, and for a few hours, I stood outside our door with a water bottle, waiting to squirt her if she started barking loudly. I wasn’t at all comfortable with this, but J insisted that I needed to learn how to discipline. By the sixth time I had to spray Molly, she was cowering every time she saw me, which quickly brought me to tears. An hour more of that, and I found myself in J’s lap, crying and telling him that I am a terrible pet owner and I will therefore be a terrible mother. It made perfect sense at the time. The next day, though, I was greeted by our puppy as though nothing had happened…and the crazy barking has not occurred since. It broke my heart to punish her without being able to sit her down and explain why her barking was so very annoying and causing everyone in the house to tear their hair out, but I can’t deny that it worked. Hopefully, though, it won’t be a teaching method that I’ll have to use often.

A new addition

September 23rd, 2009

J and I love Golden Retrievers. He’s wanted one for a while, and we both know that I’m going to need a companion when he is in basic and when he deploys.

A lovely family had to part with one of their puppies and put an ad in the church classifieds for a six month old, AKC, golden.

Internet, meet Molly Malone O’Connor!

mollyone

She’s very well behaved, very hyper, but expectedly so. She knows to sit and give a paw, but there’s still a little housebreaking that needs to be done.

She is just what our family needed. Stay tuned for the amazing adventures of the Molly dog!

He was behind the couch the whole time

September 22nd, 2009

I’ve been waiting to write about this, both because it falls right next to the line of Stuff I Will Not Publish Online, and because the subject makes me incredibly nervous. However, I am choosing to embrace the recent changes I am going through and hope that I don’t lose people because of it.

Anyone who has known me for a while knows that the subject of religion gets me heated. I grew up in a very conservative area, and the majortity of the Christians I knew were not nice people. I found the churches out there to be extremely focused on monetary gain. Most of the humiliation I suffered in school was from kids my age who considered themselves to be very close to God. I was raised in an agnostic household. Needless to say, my viewpoint was a litte influenced. Many of my past blog posts have been quite adament about the stupidity of religion, and at times, I still feel that way. I still hold close to my heart something that my dad would quote: religion is a defense against a religious experience. However, over the last several months, my attitude towards religion has changed drastically.

I have been going to church every Sunday. I love it. I look forward to it. I have met Christians that actually believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and live with their hearts and minds open. That kind of spirituality is something I have wanted for a very long time. Right now, I consider myself to be a Christian, with a little bit of Wicca thrown in.

I’m not going to go into detail about what exactly I am putting my faith in, because that is between myself and God. But, yes, I believe Jesus. And I won’t say anything else about it unless someone decides to ask.

Because the question has been asked so many times, no, J did not make me do this, nor has he ever asked or pressured me to. Of course he had some influence; we are all influenced by people in our lives. My family influenced me with their ideas too. But I didn’t do anything for them in an effort to make them like or love me more. The same goes for this situation. This is a choice I’ve wanted to make for a while, long before I met J; I just needed the right environment. I didn’t feel safe making the decision on my own. J has given me more love and support in this than he knows, and he understands that I struggle because of my past dealings with “Christians”. But, in the end, we both know that I have chosen this path. When I go to church or when I pray, it is because I want to. When I feel that I am ready to be baptized, that will be entirely my choice as well.

I am not crazy. I’m not going to start speaking in tongues, and I’m not going to start proclaiming the End of Days or say that homosexuality is wrong. I have the same moral code and love for logic and science that I’ve always had. It’s just in a different context now…and I like who I am because of it. I like me more than I ever have.

If this completely freaks you out, fine. If you’re disappointed in me or you’re proud of me, that’s fine as well. I’ve been anticipating some fallout, some of which I’ve already dealt with, and I think I’m prepared. It just didn’t seem fair to hide this vital part of myself when I make a habit out of being personal via the internet.

Now that I’ve regained composure

September 21st, 2009

I started this post when I was bawling my eyes out, completely incoherent. Not the best way to approach an entry.

It’s a fairly short story. The new Fame soundtrack has been playing a lot and it made me nostalgic for my TADW days, when we were performing our own Fame medley. I looked for some videos on YouTube…the only ones on there were recorded after I left the program (no surprise), but I happily recognized a few faces. That’s when I started looking for pictures of Sam. I have two, but the memories are slipping against my will, and I thought that maybe one of our friends or his sister may have uploaded something. My Google image search gave me a hit called Zombie Sam Loeb. There’s a site (I will not list it because I have no wish to ever see it again; if you really want to see what I’m referring to, I’m sure you can find it on your own) that flames movies, television shows, and graphic novel. Jeph Loeb comics take quite a beating, and you know what, that’s fine. I love Jeph as a person, always have, and I love his writing, but I don’t expect everyone to agree. These guys hate his work with a fiery passion, whatever. But at the end of a couple critiques….a picture of Sam is featured. One drawn over in MS Paint to resemble a crappy zombie, and a paragraph is offered in what is supposed to be Sam’s voice.

It’s….it’s awful.

I saw it. Blinked in disbelief. Cried till I nearly vomited. Sat down and wrote the site managers a very polite email explaining why I feel that feature is wrong. Repeated step three until a friend talked me down. Thank you, Kim.

The idea is moronic. The execution of the idea is even more so. It should be laughable, it’s so bad. I might laugh…if I hadn’t been through it all. That I loved him and that he died was bad enough, and it has taken years for me to cope with that. That a group of critics who didn’t even know him would so carelessly desecrate his memory without any pause or hesitation from the fleeting thought of common decency……that hurt me in a way I didn’t know existed. And maybe it shouldn’t have. I don’t know them. They can’t take anything away from me or cheapen my experiences.

Bullshit. They mock my pain. They mock his family’s pain. It is mean and it is cruel, and…and. And I have nothing else to say. That’s it, really. Some bullies on the internet made me cry. Damn them.

Putting on another movie. Sleep is not happening tonight.