Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Kidlets and Conversations About Parallel Universes

Earlier this week, as we walked from our car to the elementary school, the Oldest Kidlet asked me something interesting. And no, it had nothing to do with the Titanic.

He asked what my life would be like if TheBoy and I hadn’t had them (the Kidlets). And I know that was never an option. We wanted children too much.

The moment after, I thought about what life was like before them. Having the freedom to walk around naked. Getting to sleep in on the weekend. Staying up all night playing video games. Impromptu trips to Las Vegas. Midnight showings of movies. Being able to make dates without checking with anyone first.

It was a fun life, and I’m sure that in whatever parallel universe exists where TheBoy and I decided not to have kids, we’re probably traveling around the world and eating up a storm. Good for AU!us. It’s just not the life I want, or ever wanted, really.

Even with the sleepless nights, the midnight trips to the ER (because kids rarely get violently ill at convenient hours), the broken arm, learning to travel with an epi-pen and constant paranoia about whether or not something’s made with allergens, realizing I’ll seldom have control of my television, and the endless discussions about the Titanic* – I would never give any of that up just for a few more hours of sleep or traveling the world whenever I feel like it.

So I squeezed his hand, grateful that at age 8 he still wants to hold my hand, and smiled. “I have no idea, kiddo. It’s hard to think of any life without you two.”

He squeezed my hand in return, and smiled a dazzling smile that looks so much like his father’s.

Then he paused, and looked up at me again. “So, Mommy. Do you think that if the Titanic’s hull had been made out of-” And it was back to life as usual.

*He has been in a Titanic phase for the last three months. I am not kidding when I say that at least 75% of his conversations are about the Titanic or some other cruise ship, but mostly the Titanic. He has built about 30 different versions of it using LEGO, DUPLO and even cardboard boxes. And the sneaky kid keeps sneaking onto my Netflix profile to watch documentaries about the Titanic.

Love and Friendship in the Wizarding World

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, odds are you heard about the interview where JK Rowling said that looking back she thought that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together as a couple.

And the internet went crazy.

Not because they thought that she was right, but because they were upset. As a writer, I can understand what JK Rowling said. In a way. You always wonder if you did the right thing, if there was a way to make the story stronger. But honestly, as a fan… I am upset. For a number of reasons.

First, it’s pretty upsetting to me that it should be important in any way who Hermione falls in love with. She’s one of the great heroes of the whole thing, who stuck with Harry through thick and thin… who made her own parents forget about her to protect them. She’s brilliant, she’s tough. She deserves a lot more respect than to be boiled down to a romantic pairing.

Secondly, her relationship with Harry is pretty unique. In most book series, the main female character is usually the love interest of the main male protagonist- if not for the entire series, for at least part of it. So in a way, Harry and Hermione is what should have been expected. But it never happened. Instead, we got a storyline where two good friends of opposite genders could be friends instead of in love. That you could become family, because they really were like brother & sister.

Instead, we had the long, slow build of Ron and Hermione. Who didn’t particularly get along in the beginning, slowly became friends and then became more. It actually reminded me a lot of the stories my own family members told about meeting their future significant other, and hating them in the beginning. It felt real to me. And the two balance each other personality-wise.

Besides, if we’re going to bring up anyone else from the book series who could have ended up with Hermione, it’s Viktor Krum. Viktor, who saw Hermione’s brilliance and beauty before anyone else did. And who basically got shoved to the side, and did so gracefully. Now that’s a man who doesn’t get nearly enough respect.

Of course, there’s the option that nobody mentions – why does Hermione need a romantic partner to get her happy ending? With family and friends, she could have easily decided to throw herself into a career. Use her passion for knowledge and brave heart to protect others.

While I understand JK Rowling considering whether or not she did the right thing by her characters, I respectfully disagree with her conclusion.

Your thoughts?

The Trouble with Anonymity.

Anonymity is important. I’m going to say that upfront. Anonymity is necessary for people to be able to speak freely about atrocities going on, without fear of repercussions from others. So that they can speak up.

But that isn’t what you typically see anonymity used for.

Over on Tumblr, a few friends of mine have been hurt by anonymous users who’ve started campaigns to bully them. One was couched as an “academic discussion” – but really, it was bullying masquerading as something intellectual. If it had really been a discussion of how possibly problematic themes were used, there wouldn’t have been any need to hide behind a pseudonym.

And that’s how it’s done these days. Decide you hate someone? Log out and start spewing garbage, because you’re no longer a person. Just an angry voice in the wind.

It doesn’t matter if you have a screenname, the second you’re not the name you’re known as on the street, you’re technically anonymous. Just look at the hate spewed towards Anita Sarkeesian when she even proposed a video series to discuss sexism within video games. (And unfortunately for that, not all of it was anonymous)

I love Tumblr. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people there- but I’ve seen so much hatred and wank that it’s painful to be there at times. The worst part is when there’s someone you thought might become a friend, who turns out to be part of the problem.

Likewise, I love G+, but it’s just as bad. Last week I shared a funny video that had a bit of a feminist message to it – it was a parody of those “Trends Men Hate” lists that were going around, that essentially mocked both the lists in general (since those are nothing knew) and the idea of catering to men. But out of nowhere, I had bros popping up to tell me that I had completely missed the point of the video… one even going so far to imply that I had no right to share my opinion. Which let’s just grasp that logic. I couldn’t share my opinion, but he apparently could. Cultural misogyny at its finest.

I don’t have any solutions. Because as big of a problem as it is… there will always be the people who need the anonymity. Whistleblowers. Abuse victims. People trying to get information out of media blackouts (like tweets from Iran, Egypt or Syria).

What are your thoughts? Is anonymity worth it on the internet anymore? Or have we reached a point where the bad outweighs the good?

Find a Better Idol.

I’m almost 34. I keep accidentally saying I’m 34 already.

This isn’t a post about getting older. It’s actually about being young, to be honest. I remember being young and crushing on an actor or singer, thinking they were perfect and good.

But that was back in the 90s, before the internet (I know, I remember life before the internet, and the early days of the internet). Back before the 24/7 news cycle, where it was possible for a celebrity to have a personal life that different from their public persona. When it was utterly shocking when River Phoenix died of a drug overdose- because that stuff just didn’t happen.

Yes, this post is about Justin Bieber. And R. Kelly. And Chris Brown. Actually it’s more to the girls who keep standing behind them.

I was once in your place, and live and died by the music I listened to. I crushed on the trumpet player in this local swing band, even though he was in his early 20s and I was barely 16 when I started going to all their concerts. I had no idea what this guy was like, but in my head he was perfect.

But none of these musicians are perfect. Chris Brown has a history of anger issues and violence – but his fans not only stood beside him, but blamed Rihanna. R. Kelly has a long history of sex with underaged girls, who by the law are not old enough to give their consent. He writes about women as objects, and women continue to support him, and insult the girls who have spoken up.

Justin Bieber, is certainly the least offensive of this list, because he’s an immature little boy pretending to be a man. He moved into an exclusive gated community and has proceeded to antagonize the families that live there already. He egged his neighbor’s house. Oh, and he drag raced while under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs.

You can try to say that fame is difficult. It is, I’m never going to deny that. But for every Lindsay Lohan, you have plenty of singers/actors who make that transition from teen star to adult without winding up making a fool of themselves daily on TMZ. You can try to excuse his age, but honestly? You’re just insulting every 18 or 19 year old out there who makes good decisions. His stupidity and recklessness has nothing to do with his age, just his decisions.

Notice, I’m not even touching any issues of addiction. Because realistically, addiction is an illness, not a weakness of character. So I’m not going to judge anyone for struggling with that.

But my real point is that you as a fan deserve better. You deserve a singer who respects his fans enough to not do something as monumentally reckless as drag racing while drunk. You deserve someone to crush on that actually lives up to your fantasy.

You don’t have to settle. That’s probably one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life. Just because a guy is cute doesn’t mean he’s worth it. And there is no amount of jackass behavior that is worth it either. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a pop idol or a guy you want to date. Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car while drunk isn’t worth your time. Because they don’t think that other people’s lives are more valuable than their own.

End rant.

An Update!

I feel bad, but I never blogged that I came home from the hospital. But here I am! At home, living my life.

Now, Crohn’s is a seriously weird disease. It doesn’t affect me constantly, and once you can get the pain of a flareup under control, life can be pretty normal. I honestly spent most of my hospital stay pain-free, watching television and sobbing over not being able to eat normal food. (You try eating nothing for a day, then only being able to have broth for another day)

Right now I’ve been cleared to eat normally, but advised to think carefully about what I eat because my small intestine is recovering from being as aggravated as it was. I’m taking steroids to treat it- no lucrative career in sports for me, I guess.

But things are normal. I’m not running yet, but that has more to do with trying to recover from being stuck in a hospital bed for four days with minimal food. My metabolism is insanely active, and ate through a fair bit of muscle in those four days- so I have my work cut out for me.

I’d like to say that it’s purely a fitness thing, and not a vanity deal. But I’m a little bloated right now, and I look wider than I want to be. I admit, I miss 25 year old Whitney’s figure. If I could get a little closer to that, I’d be thrilled.

Anyways, if you guys want, I’ll write more about life with Crohn’s. I’m working on a video about my go to ramen recipe, but if there’s anything else you think I should vlog, let me know!

Thanks again for all the concern.

Two years and a month ago…

Two years and a month ago, I was nearing the end of doing NaBloPoMo- which was doing a blog post a month, like Nanowrimo. That year I’d been getting cramps, spiking fevers, and occasionally vomiting. But towards the end of November, it was so bad I went to the hospital.

And after a lot of tests, and three days in the hospital, I was diagnosed with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis- they weren’t sure because the damage was so new.

Nearly two years ago, I had a colonoscopy, and they still weren’t sure which I had, just that I was suffering from one of them. The irony was that it was advanced enough to make my life miserable, but not enough damage had been done for them to figure out what it was.

But I was put on meds, and things have been fine.

Last Wednesday night, I felt a little out of sorts. I’d eaten a big dinner to carb load for my 5k on Friday and figured I’d just eaten a little too much. Shortly after midnight on Thursday, I woke up and began puking. I had stomach cramps and couldn’t get back to sleep. The process repeated itself all night until I’d officially emptied my stomach. So I went to the hospital.

Which is where I am right now. (Hi!)

I had a CAT scan, which verified that it’s Crohn’s, without a doubt. I didn’t get to eat anything on the first day, I’ve been on a liquid diet since then.

Obviously, I didn’t get to do my 5k race. We weren’t prepared enough, so I didn’t even get to fill out the waiver so that TheBoy could pick up my packet for me, so I didn’t even get my tshirt for this year. Oh well.

It’s been tough. I’m not going to lie. Two years ago, the hospital trip might have been marginally easier, even though I had no idea what was wrong with me. For one, TheBoy had been working nights, so I was used to sleeping alone. So being alone in a hospital bed wasn’t such a big deal. This time, I’m feeling the absence of the weight of someone in a bed next to me, the warmth of another person. Also, both of the Kidlets weren’t very attached to me. Oldest Kidlet’s always been pretty independent and not much of a cuddler. Little Kidlet was firmly attached to my mother-in-law, so both of them were fine with my stay. They just wanted me to get home, and to be better.

This time… Little Kidlet’s my Wolf Cub. He curls up with me for at least a half an hour a day, and I miss that. And I know he misses me. He isn’t much for talking on the phone, but for the last two days I’ve had 5 minute long conversations with him.

And this morning, I had to miss TheBoy’s race. It was his first race where I wasn’t at the finish line… and I’m not going to lie, I cried for a long while about that last night. (He did really well, btw! He did his 10k in 55:43- that’s with a pace of 8:58 – which is amazing. I’m so proud)

So it’s been hard. I’m doing better now- but it’s been tough at times, and I know that a big part of it has just been knowing what I’m missing out on.

I’ve had a lot of support from all of you guys (even though I haven’t been posting here, mostly using Tumblr to update since it’ll post to Twitter). And I’ve been really fortunate that my doctors are really great (my gastroenterologist swung by really late last night- it was almost 10pm, I think) and the nurses here have been so kind and fantastic. Apparently I’m an easy patient. Which honestly, I get. I can unplug my IV stand from the outlet and get myself to the bathroom, I just bug them when I’m hungry or my IV is beeping at me. So yeah, I’m easy.

How I spent my Friday. Playing Pokemon X.

How I spent my Friday. Playing Pokemon X.

And I know that for now, I have more of this in my future (and probably surgery somewhere down the line). For the most part, people have been surprised that I’ve only been here once since my initial diagnosis. I guess giant flare ups are pretty common. So I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing right- other than trying to eat fewer prepared foods, fewer fast foods, and avoiding the foods that trigger me (which is dairy, for me) and trying to get a moderate amount of exercise in.

But I also know that I’m lucky. This flare up happened the day before a weekend I’d planned to be gone. My mother-in-law already had Friday off from work, so the kids had someone to take care of them, and had already been expecting me to be gone for one reason. So it isn’t like I had the stress of scrambling to figure out who was going to do what lumped on top of it. And I’m in a room by myself, with wifi, so I’m not completely alone. I know that in addition to my family, I have you guys keeping me company, too.

Sorry for rambling. But thanks for all your good thoughts… here’s to hoping I get to graduate to something beyond clear liquids.

Ant-Man, focusing on Lang?

Earlier this week Edgar Wright announced that in the upcoming Ant-Man movie, that Michael Douglas would be playing Hank Pym. Which caused me to pause and wonder. Because they’d already announced that Paul Rudd was playing Ant-Man.

Turns out that Rudd is playing Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man. And I’m disappointed.

While yes, Hank Pym’s history in Marvel comes with some controversy (he beat his wife Janet, which led to their divorce)… there is no way to tell Hank Pym’s origin that doesn’t include Janet Van Dyne. Who is The Wasp. They were two of the founding members of the Avengers, and it’s been rare that an Avengers line-up didn’t include one of them them, at least as an auxiliary member, if not active.

The Wasp, from Earth's Mightiest Heroes

The Wasp, from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

Even in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (one of the most recent Avengers cartoons), Janet was included in the founding lineup. And it’s never been just as a token female, Janet’s proven her worth (she even led The Avengers for some time in the comics).

So yes, I’m let down. While the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has been excellent in showcasing female characters that aren’t simply archetypes (Pepper Potts, Black Widow, Jane Foster, Sif, Peggy Carter, and even Frigga and Darcy have facets to them despite getting minimal screen time), they’ve yet to give us a female superhero with powers. And yet to give a female character their own movie- despite the fact that the day the Avengers came out, people were clamoring for a Black Widow movie.

Marvel/Disney, I love you. But where’s my Black Widow movie? Where’s Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel? I’m not asking as a woman. I’m asking as a fan of superheroes, who has become well aware that Marvel has a rich history of female superheroes. It just seems like a gaping void that no other franchise has been able to fill yet (because WB is still finding excuses for Wonder Woman to not get their own movie). And with the box office proving that female led films can make big bucks (see Catching Fire’s success as well as Frozen’s continuing box office domination), you’re running out of reasons not to.

So, dear readers, if you were to pitch a female character led movie in the MCU, who would you want to see?

Getting back into the swing of things.

We’re on the final week of the Kidlet’s Winter Break. Three Weeks. Three weeks away from routines, and so on and so forth. It’s going to be chaos next week, I can tell. Just last night, the Little Kidlet threw a fit when I tried to get him to go to be in his room (versus having a sleepover on his air mattress- everyone else in the house had to get up early for work). Or, maybe they’ll surprise me and just snap right back into their school routines. Who knows?

All I know is that I’m completely thrown off. I keep losing track of the days (though thank you Supernatural Family for reminding me that it’s Tuesday).

I’ve been somewhat uninspired, when it comes to blogging. Which for those who’ve been here awhile probably know means that I’ve been writing fiction. It tends to be a situation where it’s blogging or fiction, never both. Someday I’ll find that balance.

We’ve started watching Orange is the New Black – and I’ve been struck by how much I love the show. Because of it’s mostly male free cast, you’re allowed perspectives and relationships that you don’t typically get to see on television. And the writing is sharp, and characters that you wouldn’t expect to have facets do. Piper, the main character, is relatable but often shown to be shallow and quite often mean. And she often realizes that she’d made assumptions based off her privilege. Unlikeable characters are often shown to be human, and the ones who seem to be ignorant are sometimes more tolerant than characters who thought were nice in the beginning.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that they have a trans character who’s presented as a person, not a punchline. Which is extremely rare.

It’s a show that’s all about perceptions and stripping them away. I’m a big fan.

There’ve been some things that I’ve wanted to blog about, but I wasn’t sure they were worth their own post.

Like the fallout over the guy from Duck Dynasty. I’m not even going to get into the particulars, but this is what bothered me. One, were the people who claimed A&E had no right to punish him for his opinions. Wrong. Freedom of Speech means that you’re allowed to have an opinion and speak openly about it. It doesn’t mean that you’re free from any repercussions from stating those opinions- so A&E was within their rights as an employer to do as they pleased. Second, A&E’s actions weren’t a war on Christianity. They were reactions to him comparing homosexuality to beastiality as well as making extremely callous remarks about life during segregation. The problem was with his remarks, not with him saying it was because he’s Christian. Want an extreme example of the logic? Why do you dislike Westboro? Is it because they’re a Church or because all they do is spew hatred? Odds are, it’s because of what they say. That’s what A&E’s issue was. His remarks, not him being a Christian.

I can’t tell you how many people I dropped or hid on Facebook because of that. Honestly, I don’t care if you disagree with me on a lot of things (heck, my best friend was an atheist and I’m not. My father-in-law is conservative and I’m liberal, but I love the man and we have some nice discussions). If you’re going to twist logic to try to create an imaginary war on a majority? I’m going to ignore you. Life’s too short.

I got a brand new microphone, and once the kids get back in school, I’m looking forward to using it for the vlog! (Which will return in February. January got a little busy)

Tell me internet, what have you been up to?

Goodbye ’12, Goodbye ’13, Hello… 2014

If you caught that I shamelessly snagged the title of this post from A Chorus Line, I love you. If you didn’t, you should probably listen to the score. If nothing else, you’ll learn so much about me.

True story: I took my first steps to One. Even as a baby, I had a great sense of timing.

2013 was a big year in so many ways. It was the year that I ran two 5ks at Disneyland- the Neverland 5k in January and the Disneyland 5k on Labor Day weekend. And more importantly, I pushed myself a lot in my writing.

There were a few blogposts that I wrote while feeling daring, and hit ‘publish’ even though the thought terrified me. I wrote about my anxiety, about loneliness, about what’s probably depression. About gender roles… not for any attention, but because I thought it might help someone.

I’ve pushed myself outside of this blog. Talking to people, trying to trust again. And I can honestly say that I’ve met some wonderful wonderful people, who I really do count as friends, even if we’ve never met. (Mom, Dad – I swear, they aren’t serial killers)

I don’t know what 2014 will bring. I’m going to be running the Neverland 5k again this month. I have a couple conventions I’m going to, including the Supernatural Con in Vegas in March. I really hope that I’ll be able to meet some of you guys this year- if not in person, over Skype or something.

Just be forewarned, I sound like a teenager. (Oh wait, if you’ve seen the vlog you know what I sound like)

For our New Year’s Eve celebration, we did what we’ve done for the last few years. I prepared a bunch of appetizers (some homemade, mostly from Trader Joe’s) and we had prosecco at midnight. It’s fun, and I don’t have to worry about driving or finding a babysitter.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May you find everything in it that you’re looking for.

Go, have an adventure.

Fear.

So last night I answered a bunch of questions on Tumblr. (5 or 6 counts as a bunch, right?) And when I logged in today, there was one question waiting for me.

“What is your greatest fear?” Kevin asked, and gave me an out. You see, last night I’d declared it to be a zero filter night and I asked people to ask me questions and I’d answer them all. But if someone gives me an out, it makes me more determined to answer.

I could have said something expected, like spiders. I really do hate spiders, but I don’t really fear them. I could have gone for something personal like losing my children. Or TheBoy. But I’ll be honest, losing them would be difficult. But death is part of life, and that’s something I believe deep down. It might take a long time for me to live again, but I think I’d be able to keep moving.

Instead I tried to think of the truth. What’s the thing that lurks in the shadows, that keeps me up, that ties my stomach into knots? And it suddenly seemed too clear.

I have dark days. Days where I look at myself and see something terrible staring back in the mirror. Someone shallow, self-centered… and I honestly don’t want to continue how I see myself. But it’s a lot more complicated than just those two descriptors. On those days, I can barely look at myself. I can barely do anything because I’m so immobilized by the thought that I am that woman in the mirror.

So, my greatest fear? It’s that others will look at me and see that Whitney. The Whitney that only exists when the Darkness lies. That they’ll believe that Whitney is the real Whitney, and leave me.

I’m sure nobody thought I’d write about this here. That I’d put it on Tumblr (though I already did), where I put all the things I want to say, but am not sure I want everyone to read. I might not know if what I’m battling is depression or some pretty serious self-doubt (though I am going to find a therapist to find out, since I don’t want to live with either), but I know that this probably will ring true with someone.

And if someone else can recognize that they aren’t that distorted image of themselves? Then it’s worth laying myself bare here.

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