Fear and Judgement and a Case for the Renaming of Things

Changing words can change minds.

Joy on a Shoestring

This morning I had the pleasure of taking Goldilocks to school. I love doing this because, when it’s just the two of us, our conversations get … let’s call them interesting. She’s deep and thoughtful, and often a good sounding board for my more rudimentary philosophies.

We were talking this morning about judgement, and the defence of right and wrong. (You probably think you know where this is going. You don’t. (And did I mention that she’s 13?))

Let me share the conversation. (Another parentheses, I know. But I have to highlight the fact that I’m not embellishing what she said. These are her actual words. This is how she speaks – and thinks.)

Goldilocks: You know, all you need in life is three things: determination, imagination, and love. If you have these things, you don’t even really need courage. You can accomplish anything.
Me: Well, courage…

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The Princess Bride

Wedding Cake

Yes, this is my really truly wedding cake. Gluten free chocolate – mmmmm

My love is nothing like a storybook story. There is no chaotic traumatic event that threw us together. There was no miscommunication or misunderstanding that led to a major break up and caused us to realise our true feelings for each other. It was a short courtship, but hardly whirlwind. There was no pressure from well-meaning friends and family keeping us apart.

No dragons to slay, no heroic quests to perform.

In short, we had a boring, normal, almost stress-free relationship, right from the beginning. And I am secure and stable and utterly certain of my husband’s love for me.

From the beginning, from before the beginning in fact, we knew that we had a lot in common. Shortly after we officially started dating we had a discussion of our expectations and baggage, so that we each knew where the other was coming from and what to expect. When we got engaged and moved in together we also very carefully and clearly laid out our feelings on communication and finances and respective space requirements.

Intimate venue for an intimate wedding

Intimate venue for an intimate wedding

Our wedding was small and intimate and only included very close family and friends. Our families mesh with no tension, and all in all we just had one big awesome party.

For the longest time I had been waiting for all the romantic trappings – the love at first sight (which in my case was actually love at first Skype), the barriers to be overcome, the whisking away for a sudden elopement, all that. And I was wrong. Because there is nothing more romantic than knowing that the man you’re with knows exactly who you are, all your insecurities and foibles and deepest shameful secrets… and loves you for it. Not despite it, but because those hidden aspects are what make you who you are. And I love him the same. My husband is never going to rival Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off, but I find him irresistible in all his realness. I’m never going to be a Scarlett Johansson, but that doesn’t stop him leering at me whenever he gets a chance.

So don’t hold out for the storybook hero. Because a real man is right around the corner, and so much easier to live with. Also he’s usually brighter than your average hero, and more likely to laugh at your jokes. If you’re as lucky as I am, you may actually find someone who will recognise and enjoy your numerous “Friends” quotes and giggle with you. Although you may be out of luck with that, since I think I got the last one.

 

And remember: “True love is the greatest thing in the world – except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.”

– Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

The Endless Steppe

Solitude

I have recently become more and more aware of the fact that very few people actually, genuinely, CARE about others. I know I myself am guilty of self-absorption and introspection to a shocking degree.

I recently dropped out of social media almost entirely for over a month. I did not Tweet or Facebook or interact with anyone, really, and none of my online friends even seemed to notice. Nobody messaged me or tried to contact me or even asked “Are you ok?” I was even introduced at a subsequent social event as someone who “met a guy and basically stopped talking to us”.

While I was somewhat absorbed by the wonderful new man in my life, that was not what happened at all. I hit a wall. I had trouble reaching deadlines at my day job and seemed to be constantly behind or trying to play catch up. My supplementary income more or less shriveled and died due to a financial crisis experienced by my main source of freelance work, who also happens to be my sister and housemate. We as a family went through an incredibly stressful and difficult time with basically my extremely meager 4-figure salary as the only reliable source of income for a family of five. All of my strength and will was taken up by surviving each day and hoping like hell that there would be a meal for the next.

And nobody knew. Because nobody asked, and I had too much pride to say: “I’m going through crap – is there anyone there?”

What I learned (and what I hope to be able to apply in the future) is that we can’t actually assume that we know why people act the way that they do. We can’t assume that someone is ok – we should try to reach out and ask. I am very bad at this thanks to my introvert nature, but I need to make the effort. I’ve known for ages that I have trouble making and keeping friends because of trust issues, and this period helped me to clarify who I can classify as a friend, and who I want to invest time in and with. I will cultivate the friendships where I can both be supporter and supported. I no longer want to be the one who is constantly reaching out and trying to make contact, with little or no reciprocal effort. There are those who drain us, and those who build us up. And while we do need to sometimes be the ones doing the building for those who drain us, we also need to find those who can hold us up when we need it, and who will just take the time to ask: “Are you ok?”

The Stepford Wife

Once again it has been many months since my last post. This is partly because I am, at best, a sporadic blogger, but mostly because these past few months have been among the most hectic and life-changing months of my life.

Despite all my excitement for going back to the UK, that plan has been completely derailed by the advent of the man of my dreams. I met R at the beginning of March, and we have just announced our engagement. So, thanks to true love, I will be remaining in sunny South Africa for the foreseeable future.

I am very traditional in many ways, and the one way that this manifests is in my relationship. I am fully intending to be an absolute 50’s wife – not by decree, but by choice.

vintage housewife

I am supremely fortunate that I am able to work from home, at least most of the time, so I can be fulfilled in my career as well as my home life, and this enables me to bake and cook and clean etc to my heart’s content. Apparently I am much more of a nester than I thought. Our current abode, however, does not have much of a kitchen, which causes me quite a bit of distress, but I am overcoming the lack by creative use of a slow cooker and electric frying pan. I love to cook, and learning new methods is always fun. I am excited and enthusiastic about this step in my life, and very glad to have found someone who completely accepts me for who I am and complements me in every way.

 

The reason for this post is that the has been quite a lot of online chatter lately about the disparity between men and women and their representation in various forms of media and entertainment. Since my new hubby-to-be is an avid gamer and has infected me with a similar interest, we have been exposed to the front lines of the debate regarding gender representation and segregation. There are a number of rabid misandrists out there who claim that men are purposefully degrading and denigrating women in media. While this may be true to some extent, I find their reaction distasteful and unnecessary.

A large part of the argument is that many games do not have a female protagonist. To my mind, this makes no difference. I play because I enjoy the game, not because I want to be the character, although my favourite game (of the moment) is Diablo 3, which has a range of completely kick-ass chick characters, all of which I enjoy, although I find the witch doctor character a bit lame. The point is, however, that the gaming world is predominantly male, and the girl gamer is still a relatively new phenomenon. Give them a chance to catch up – there are many games with female leads and characters, but the point is still the game. Of course, the first exposure I had to gaming was years ago with Duke Nukem, so I kinda got used to the idea of a male lead.

Another recent development in this area is the regenderment of Thor. Yay for Marvel showing equal opportunity, blah blah blah; but my question is: what about my eye candy?! Despite my sci-fi fantasy preferences and strong geek tendencies, a large part of why I watch superhero movies is built topless guys (helllooooooo, Chis Hemsworth!). Since I’m straight, watching a chick in the role of Thor does not present the same appeal. Objectification of the opposite sex is not limited to men – I am very skilled in this myself. How many chicks will no longer watch these movies because the lead is not a hunky guy with an awesome weapon? #JustSaying

Brand New Me

GirlinHammock

Not where I was, but definitely where I wish I had been!

Hey – I’m back! Miss me?

Much has happened since I last posted, most notably, I have decided to once more wing my way across the ocean back to England, where there is public transport, a living wage, and a slightly less openly ridiculous government.

There is also far more opportunity for travel, which is reason number one for going.

In order to achieve this goal, it was necessary to move back in with my sister so I could save money. This has both pros and cons, and I may possibly post on it some day. The biggest pro is that I can spend my last few months in the country with my favouritest people: my nieces. Also, despite big bitey dogs, my cat seems to have settled in better in one month in the new house than he ever did in the year and a half that I spent at my lovely little flat, so leaving him with the family will be much less of a worry.

I’ve also embraced my inner geek more than ever before (see my previous post) with the help of a wonderful group of equally geeky girls led by the inimitable Helga Pearson.

Towards the end of last year I was also unable to post due to having all my writing brain occupied by crafting submissions for the Nova Science Fiction Fantasy Short Story Competition. Although I didn’t win, apparently one of my stories is highly recommended – so go me! Both the stories I submitted are available to read here.

So, that’s me. What’s happening with you?

Geek Feels

WARNING!!
Contains spoilers!

One of the notable things about girls who are geeks, or at the very least about me and my closest geeky friends, is that we don’t prefer “chick flicks”. Given the choice between Terminator and Bridget Jones’ Diary, it’s Arnie all the way.

I believe there is a school of thought that believes that this indicates a lack of emotional connection in us. On the contrary: it simply means that we feel the far deeper emotional impact of the life and death situations faced by our favourite heroes and heroines to the vapid “he loves me, he loves me not” moments so painstakingly drawn out over 2 hours in popular feminine entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I NEVER watch chick flicks; some of my all-time favourite movies are the chickiest of flicks (namely The Holiday and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is also a cinema classic AND a musical, and therefore definitely qualifies me as a real girl). It’s just that once the Doctor has told you that he doesn’t want to go, or Starbuck has fallen into the maelstrom, the girly dilemmas somehow lose their significance.

Here are some of the sci-fi moments (definitely not all of them) that grabbed me by the feels and wrung me dry (in no particular order):

Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) studies the remembrance wall just before the explosive he set to save the human race detonates. Can somebody explain to me why Fran Kranz has not been cast in every movie ever made? The guy is amazeballs. (Dollhouse, Season 2, Episode 13)

Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) studies the remembrance wall just before the explosive he set to save the human race detonates, taking him with it. Can somebody explain to me why Fran Kranz has not been cast in every movie ever made? The guy is amazeballs. (Dollhouse, Season 2, Episode 13, 2010)

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the Doctor (David Tennant) together at last after being separated by time and space. But it’s not the Doctor Doctor, because he has to go and wipe Donna Noble’s Time Lord memories before they destroy her. Sniff. (Doctor Who, Season 4, Episode 13)

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the Doctor (David Tennant) together at last after being separated by time and space. But it’s not the Doctor Doctor, because he has to go and wipe Donna Noble’s Time Lord memories before they destroy her. Sniff. (Doctor Who, Season 4, Episode 13, 2008)

Wash (Alan Tudyk, who honestly cannot be praised enough for the outstanding actor that he is) gets spiked, just as Serenity reaches her destination thanks to his extraordinary piloting. All of us felt as if we were the ones stabbed through the heart by a Reaver weapon. Also because the show was cancelled for no good reason at all. (Serenity the movie)

Wash (Alan Tudyk, who honestly cannot be praised enough for the outstanding actor that he is) gets spiked, just as Serenity reaches her destination thanks to his extraordinary piloting. All of us felt as if we were the ones stabbed through the heart by a Reaver weapon. Also because the show was cancelled for no good reason at all. (Serenity the movie, 2005)

Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) falls into the maelstrom as Apollo (Jamie Bamber) frantically hails her. She was being a bit of a twit, and she does return, but still. (Battlestar Galactica, Season 3, Episode 17)

Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) falls into the maelstrom as Apollo (Jamie Bamber) frantically hails her. She was being a bit of a twit, and she does return, but still. (Battlestar Galactica, Season 3, Episode 17, 2007)

Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) pushes Angel (David Boreanaz) into the vortex after he has been returned to his soulful, feely self and they have declared their love. Bam! Tissue time. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 22)

Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) pushes Angel (David Boreanaz) into the vortex after he has been returned to his soulful, feely self and they have declared their love. Bam! Tissue time. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 22, 1998)

Supernatural has given us many moments that stir us, either to tears or raucous laughter, but this is my personal button. John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bravely battles his way out of his fiery hell (where, we find out later, the one year he’s been dead is more like a hundred) and wrestles his quite-literal personal demon before whooshing away in bright white lights. The question is: what happened to him then? And please can he come back? Pretty please? With extra cherries? (Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 22)

Supernatural has given us many moments that stir us, either to tears or raucous laughter, but this is my personal button. John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bravely battles his way out of his fiery hell (where, we find out later, the one year he’s been dead is more like a hundred) and wrestles his quite-literal personal demon before whooshing away in bright white lights. The question is: what happened to him then? And please can he come back? Pretty please? With extra cherries? (Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 22, 2007)

Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) dies. I know: this happens a lot and it never lasts, but still. This moment when he tells Jack (Richard Dean Anderson) to stop the attempt to save him takes the cake. (Stargate SG1, Season 5, Episode 22)

Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) dies. I know: this happens a lot and it never lasts, but still. This moment when he tells Jack (Richard Dean Anderson) to stop the attempt to save him takes the cake. (Stargate SG1, Season 5, Episode 21, 2002)

Another Stargate moment, this time from the Pegasus galaxy. The obnoxious and somewhat repulsive Rodney Mackay (David Hewlett) redeems his arrogant ways by admitting on tape to Jennifer Keller (Firefly alum Jewel Staite) that he loves her, just before his intimidating intellect is taken from him by an alien parasite. Obviously he gets saved, and it still takes a few episodes for their relationship to be consummated, but this is the moment that we realise why she falls for him at all. (Stargate Atlantis, Season 5, Episode 6)

Another Stargate moment, this time from the Pegasus galaxy. The obnoxious and somewhat repulsive Rodney Mackay (David Hewlett) redeems his arrogant ways by admitting on tape to Jennifer Keller (Firefly alum Jewel Staite) that he loves her, just before his intimidating intellect is taken from him by an alien parasite. Obviously he gets saved, and it still takes a few episodes for their relationship to be consummated, but this is the moment that we realise why she falls for him at all. (Stargate Atlantis, Season 5, Episode 6, 2008)

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) marries River Song (Alex Kingston) so that she will kill him and save the world in his past and her future. Or vice versa. Whatever. It’s all a bit wibbly wobbly timey wimey, but it works and the laws of time are set to rights. (Doctor Who, Season 6, Episode 13)

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) marries River Song (Alex Kingston) so that she will kill him and save the world in his past and her future. Or vice versa. Whatever. It’s all a bit wibbly wobbly timey wimey, but it works and the laws of time are set to rights. (Doctor Who, Season 6, Episode 13, 2011)

The series might have gone completely gonzo in the later seasons, but season 1 of Heroes was a masterpiece, culminating in this moment when hopeful, hard-working, wannabe hero Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) starts to go critical after absorbing a radioactive super-power. (Heroes, Season 1 Episode 22)

The series might have gone completely gonzo in the later seasons, but season 1 of Heroes was a masterpiece, culminating in this moment when hopeful, hard-working, wannabe hero Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) starts to go critical after absorbing a radioactive super-power. (Heroes, Season 1 Episode 23, 2007)

Stargate makes another appearance, and once more the poignance of the moment is enhanced by the fact that SGU was cancelled on this cliff-hanger of an episode, when Eli Wallace (David Blue) has finished locking up all his shipmates in cryosleep and is preparing for a three-year solo effort to get the Destiny to the next (hopefully friendlier) galaxy. I’m still crossing all my fingers and toes and holding all my thumbs that we get a movie set three years after these events to tie it all up. (Stargate Universe, Season 2, Episode 20)

Stargate makes another appearance, and once more the poignance of the moment is enhanced by the fact that SGU was cancelled on this cliff-hanger of an episode, when Eli Wallace (David Blue) has finished locking up all his shipmates in cryosleep and is preparing for a three-year solo effort to get the Destiny to the next (hopefully friendlier) galaxy. I’m still crossing all my fingers and toes and holding all my thumbs that we get a movie set three years after these events to tie it all up. (Stargate Universe, Season 2, Episode 20, 2011)

The hero is dead, but he was all of us. He was the Everyman, he was the No Man. The crowd outside the houses of parliament remove their Guy Fawkes masks as the orchestral mastery of the 1812 Overture blares through the streets and a pyrotechnic display destroys the corrupt seat of power in a dystopian future. Hugo Weaving is super powerful as V, probably more so because we never actually see his face behind the stiff mask that hides his disfigurement. (V for Vendetta)

The hero is dead, but he was all of us. He was the Everyman, he was the No Man. The crowd outside the houses of parliament remove their Guy Fawkes masks as the orchestral majesty of the 1812 Overture blares through the streets and a pyrotechnic display destroys the corrupt seat of power in a dystopian future. Hugo Weaving is super powerful as V, probably more so because we never actually see his face behind the stiff mask that hides his disfigurement. (V for Vendetta, 2005)

I mentioned Terminator earlier, so it is only fitting that it features on this list. The T800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) condemns himself to the crucible so that the machines can never take over the world. Such a noble (if futile) act deserves immortality. (Terminator 2: Judgement Day)

I mentioned Terminator earlier, so it is only fitting that it features on this list. The T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) condemns himself to the crucible so that the machines can never take over the world. Such a noble (if ultimately futile) act deserves immortality. (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991)

And the Doctor again: but when David Tennant says he doesn’t want to go, I’m right there yelling “Then stay, PLEASE!” Gut-wrenching. (Doctor Who, Special: The End of Time Part 2)

And the Doctor again: but when David Tennant says he doesn’t want to go, I’m right there yelling “Then stay, PLEASE!” Gut-wrenching. (Doctor Who, Special: The End of Time Part 2, 2010)

This is by no means a comprehensive list. I mean, I haven’t even mentioned the Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings franchises without which no geek is truly a geek. And although some of these moments are romantic, for the most part they prove that great, sweeping, epic storylines that affect the whole of humanity or the world, and sometimes the universe, and result in individuals making great sacrifices for the good of the whole, are just as, if not more, moving than seeing the girl lose the guy. I would also hope that they inspire us to aspire to greater heights of compassion and investment in the world around us, and lead us to making more selfless decisions when the world does come to an end.

The Road Goes Ever On and On

In order to demonstrate my worthiness of receiving a Jeep so that I can travel the world, I will now proceed to relate what I plan to do in order to prepare for this undertaking.

  • Step 1: Learn self-defence so that the pirates in Somalia don’t get me. (Yay! Another reason to do Krav Maga!)
  • south-african-passportStep 2: Get passport up to date (Errrm, kinda let mine lapse 5 years ago – better head down to Home Affairs and get it sorted)
  • Step 3: Learn basic geography
  • Step 4: Learn a couple more languages (Swahili, French, Portuguese, Greek, Italian, German, Spanish, Mandarin. That should do!)
  • Step 5: Invest in huge canister jobbies for transporting fuel and water. Label them carefully so that I don’t confuse fuel and water.
  • Step 6: Acquire a shotgun and the skills to use it (yet another good reason to go on this trip!)
  • Step 7: Investigate Global WiFi hotspots. Or satellite uplink thingy.
  • Hypodermic-SyringeStep 8: Get my immunisations (is there one for Zombieism yet?)
  • Step 9: Invest in a proper digital camera (or get one sponsored – @Nikon: you interested?)
  • Step 10: Find that co-pilot/mechanic. Any offers yet? (Own sonic screwdriver required)

Around the World in 80 Days

I HAVE A NEW PLAN!

The shop is all very good and well and awesome, but want I want to do RIGHT NOW is get a jeep and drive around the world. Look: I even made a route map:

RoundtheWorld

(More details available here:  Route Leg 1 (Cape to Cairo); Route Leg 2 (Northern Africa)Route Leg 3 (Europe Part 1)Route Leg 4 (Europe Part 2)Route Leg 5 (Russia & Asia)Route Leg 6 (Alaska & Canada)Route Leg 7 (USA)Route Leg 8 (Central America)Route Leg 9 (South America).)

Of course, I am completely and utterly broke, so my grand scheme is to get sponsors via a social media campaign. Like Jeep, fr’instance. If they could hook me up with the vehicle and a bunch of fuel, I’ll totally rave about them on the blog of my adventures. Which everyone will read of course, because it’s so awesome. Like a unicorn. Or Pickwick the Dodo.

JeepRubiconAnd I’ll need a travel buddy who can also fix the car: applications now welcome!

So I’m going to try and get a Twitter trend going with #GirlinaJeep, and hope that the big dogs get interested.

Help a girl out, would ya? Share with your friends!