The Creature

Despite my current nature of being one that fears the natural world and nature: when I was younger, I was a very curious explorer of nature. I liked going to the park with my parents, I liked climbing trees, I liked running through the ditch next to my house and popping up out on the other side. My friends and I as children knew the concrete path created by artificial water control measures like veins that connected houses and us to the outside world where imaginations ran wild and we could be kings, queens, knights and adventurers. 

One place I particularly loved to visit as a child was the lake. I grew up in North Texas and Joe Pool Lake was a common haunt for my family to visit. The lake was teeming with aggressive carp that were rumored to eat children and small dogs if they got too close. We’d feed the fish there, mostly bread which now I know is unhealthy but as a youth was more enamored by their voracity. 

The drive to the lake was always a quiet one, passing field after field as back then North Texas was still mostly suburban aside from the hustle and bustle of Dallas. I spent a lot of time in the backseat of my parents’ car looking out of the window as fields yielded to streets and housing divisions. 

Driving back from the lake one day, as I gazed out into one of those amber fields told of in American myth and legend, I saw something that didn’t make much sense to my eye as a kid. It was a figure in the grass. It was big. It was dark. It didn’t make much sense to me, really. It looked like it was sitting down and maybe my brain then just assumed it was a dog. Then it did something I surely did not expect as a child: it walked. The thing, that thing in the field walked like people do; on two legs. There was no animal that I knew of that did such a thing and my young mind mostly kept that memory hidden, safe somewhere from a reality that I could not process or understand. 

As an adult, I still don’t really know what I saw. My memory is still pretty clear of that day despite all of the other things about my childhood that are now hazy with trauma. Did I see a large dog? Was it a person in a field? Was it just a fluke of the imagination? I’m not sure. 

The study of creatures that may or may not be there is cryptozoology and since my days of watching MonsterQuest for hours in my college dorm room, I have been fascinated by the study of cryptids. I love the idea of creatures that may be real but also may not be but I’m more fascinated by the fact that they seem to be culturally universal. Almost all cultures have an upright hairy creature in the woods. Almost all cultures have a dragon. Almost all cultures have a blood-sucking or life force-sucking creature. What were these people seeing?

If I have to suspend logic for a moment and use that part of my mind and heart that is still somewhat childlike, I have to assume what I saw was a Bigfoot or similar creature. Such sightings aren’t unheard of back home but are rare due to the urban sprawl of the area. There is no reason for Bigfoot to run down Harry Hines Boulevard. 

Personally, at the risk of sounding too crazy, I do think that such creatures can exist. Do I think that they are as prevalent as many…experts…would say? Absolutely not. While there are plenty of unexplored forests in the United States and around the world, I cannot imagine that with the urban settings that make up too many sightings of the paranormal that a population of anything that isn’t a raccoon, possum or coyote could survive in.

I would be more skeptical if in fact that was the first and only time I had seen a creature that I could not explain. 

It was not.

I was coming home after a time with family and friends for the holidays. I was on a stretch of highway that connects almost all of Texas’ major cities. The drive is long and mostly uneventful if you don’t count people who willfully ignore the speed limit but it does remind drivers and passengers that some of Texas is in fact, still wild. For a moment as I passed a median, I saw something in the grass there. From the body shape, I assumed it was just a wild hog: we have those here. I assumed that the black mass in the grass was just a hog. I thought I saw a tail and tusks, I thought I saw coarse hair and a round body. I thought I just saw a hog. That was until it moved. It moved on all fours, sure but the way its body moved was so unlike a pig. Not a trot, not a gallop, it was almost cat-like the way it moved down that stretch of grass that broke up the concrete hell of highways and byways. 

I didn’t know what to think of that moment, it happened so fast that I don’t think I had time to process it. When I told a friend, we all agreed that this was just one of those things that happens to people and as far as what I saw that time…I don’t have an answer. Was it a pig? Another Bigfoot? A wendigo? I don’t know and I can’t say the mystery has haunted me but the curiosity indeed has. 

This spooky season, remember to keep your eyes open: you never know what you may see. Believe your eyes when you can; they do not always play tricks on you. And suspend your disbelief; there are indeed things out there that resist simple explanations. 

Happy Halloween, dear readers. 


Resenting Rachel Greene

Yes, we’re talking about ER again. No, I have no regrets. 

Rachel Greene, daughter of Mark Greene and his first wife, Jen, is a brat. That’s all I have to say. I know she’s a fictional character but she’s a brat. But watching Rachel grow up, at times, with me during my own childhood and seeing how she reacted to stressful situations as both a child and an adult with my own heavy emotional burden and doing my best to work through my trauma: mostly thanks to the assistance of medication and therapy. But looking at Rachel’s character made me feel something I haven’t felt for a fictional character in a while: resentment. 

Rachel Greene is first seen in ER as a child in the middle of a less than kind divorce between her parents. Jen is tired of Mark working too hard being a literal damn doctor and Jen wants to be a lawyer for some reason. Of course their daughter is caught in the middle of the messy divorce as Jen moves to Milwaukee and uproots her daughter’s whole life so she can go be independent, I guess.  Rachel doesn’t take the divorce well, no kid can, really. She misses her dad, her school and her life in Chicago. 

Mark isn’t guiltless; he’s forgetful, scattered and constantly overworked being a literal damn doctor. He forgets her engagements, doesn’t know her new friends and is fairly out of touch in her life due to the divorce and trying to move on with his life. Rachel feigns illness once saying that her dad’s patients were the only ones that got his full attention. It’s a biting line but also, very true: Mark’s attention never fully belongs to anyone but his patients; it makes him a fantastic doctor but a less than great lover and parent. 

By the time we see Rachel again, she’s a teenager and she is horrible. I guess because my teen years were relatively quiet and I never went through a seriously outward rebellious stage thanks to being clever enough to hide my indiscretions on internet forums and LiveJournal posts. She was hanging out with the wrong kind of boys, doing drugs, listening to obnoxious music (okay, same but not the point) and was back in Chicago with her dad, his new wife: Elizabeth (played by the badass Alex Kingston) and their new daughter, Ella. Mark finally found love and is dealing with the last parts of having brain cancer and has most of his family together. Nope, Rachel ruins a lot of that by just being an impudent teen. Her rebellion ends up with her baby half-sister nearly dying when the toddler finds Rachel’s drugs and is poisoned. 

She gets what is effectively a slap on the wrist for nearly killing a baby and almost ruining her father’s second marriage because…you know…baby almost died. She continues to be a brat and gets her normal life as much as possible while everyone else has to deal with the fallout of her actions. 

Fast forward and Mark’s cancer is back and he has precious little time. Rachel deals with it the way I’m assuming most normal teenagers would and she continues to be selfish until she is spirited away to Hawaii, where her father is from, to spend his final days together learning about their family history and legacy. And how does Rachel respond to this? By ignoring her father, stealing his medication that may I remind you he needs for his brain cancer, drinking, listening to more obnoxious emo music and sulking. The episode is called On the Beach and it’s a masterclass in making you hate a character. Towards the end, Elizabeth, who by this point in the series has no reason to even acknowledge that Rachel exists after almost killing her child, finally sits down with her and says she has to grow up and that it’s unfair her father is dying but to take the time she has. 

That’s where the resentment came into play. You see, I didn’t get the chance to watch my father go quietly into that good sweet night. My father died alone, unceremoniously in the middle of the night patiently waiting for an ambulance outside of our apartment door as to not wake his family when he started feeling funny. I was woken up by my aunts who already knew the news but didn’t want to shatter my 12 year old world just yet. I was allowed to do something fun, to play the game like this was just a slightly less than normal day and then later I would be filled in properly on the events. I was told by my grieving mother that my father died and that my life was never going to be the same. I didn’t get the luxury of watching my father fade away on his own terms with dignity like Rachel did. And if I had the chance, I’d do anything to get the time she did with her father, knowing that he was dying, to tell stories, make memories and spend more time together than they ever would be able to if both were to go about their normal lives. 

Watching that episode, watching Rachel waste time left me seething with hatred: if only I had that chance, if only I could, what I’d give and before I knew it I was angry at a fictional character. When at the end of the day, there’s no promise of what I’d do if I did have that time with my father. I can’t promise that at 12 I’d have the maturity to spend the time I so wish I had now at 30. I don’t know if I’d be better than Rachel; my resentment comes with the luxury of  having decades of hindsight. 

We see Rachel again a few times in the series before the end, she’s older and heading towards college. She’s still alternative in some ways, making all the choices a young adult with a less than stellar childhood does but she’s mellowed out and matured. 

I’ve made my mistakes during my teen years, my young adults years and even now; I’m still learning and growing. My resentment and anger at Rachel is really resentment at myself and others. There’s a joke in my friend group that if trauma and having a less than great childhood is an excuse for bad behavior that we all deserve a Purge-style hunt once a year. I’ve been very strict in my approach to separate my bad behavior from my trauma. If I am excessively flirtatious or bad with men, I don’t blame my father’s death: that’s on me. If I am sullen and weepy: I don’t blame that on the insecure attachment of a child that had to parent their parents; I blame the current flavor of depression that day. And the way Rachel Greene is written, constantly using her less than great circumstances as an excuse for poor behavior; I just can’t stand it. Maybe it’s the white privilege that allows her to openly rebel and feel so outwardly when I was never given that chance; maybe it’s just jealousy, maybe it’s just grief but I learned so much about myself and how much I still have grow when I began to examine my feelings about the very fictional Rachel Greene.

I’ll end this post with Dr. Greene’s final coherent words to his daughter, words I hold in my heart since I couldn’t get meaningful last words from my father: be generous; be generous with your time and your love and your life. Just be generous. 

Unfortunately, Required Reading: Episode 43- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Welcome to Spooky Season with our first Spooky Story of the year. Let’s talk Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Lost Potential

I’ve had a lot of time to sit down and listen to music recently. Music keeps my work days flowing and with a pace that makes it easy to write to. My taste in music hasn’t changed much over the years, I still listen to a lot of EDM and techno. But with my recent transition away from Google Play Music to Youtube Music, a botched transition to say the least, has given me access to a pretty intuitive endless radio stream based on my tastes and artists I already like and have listened to. 

And while that means exposing me to plenty of new music like that of Porter Robinson and more Zedd than I like admitting it’s also given me access to a discography of an artist that I thought I knew but apparently I had much more to learn. 

I still remember the day I found out Avicii died. I was driving with some coworkers to a work function in another city none of us wanted to go to. We blasted Wake Me Up while driving too fast down the highway and lamented the loss of a human being while badly dancing in a car too small for all of us to fit in on a journey none of us asked to be part of. It didn’t matter to us why Avicii died; just that he was gone. And while many spent a lot of time discussing his mental health and the factors that led up to such a bright and young shining star dying; I mostly just processed the loss as I would have the death of any celebrity: sad for the loss of human life but that this was clearly more complicated beyond my comprehension with factors that would perpetually remain to be seen and with demons that were not privy to anyone; yet alone a nameless mass of fans. That’s the nature of DJs, really. Many obscure their faces, few use their real names. There is the DJ and the man. Madeon may be Hugo but they are not the same person. There’s a perpetual wall built between DJs and their fans built physically by their equipment and metaphorically by their oftentimes larger than life personas that make them almost more like characters in a pantheon rather than men and women like the rest of us. 

His death wasn’t as personal to me as Anthony Bourdain, who I looked up to and admired in a way that felt so intimate so his death resulted in friends checking in on me in the same they had after my mother died. I felt like I knew Tony, I felt like I lost a friend with Tony. That’s just who Anthony Bourdain was. He wasn’t an edifice or a persona, he was authentic; painfully so. He was always him and we were able to, as fans, believe that he was right there with us; sharing a meal, telling an off-color joke, being vulnerable to discuss his mental health or addictions and of course, making us smile and more importantly, think. 

Avicii wasn’t a close friend or mentor; he was a DJ. A DJ I liked, sure. A DJ I wouldn’t pass over if I got one of his songs on an endless shuffle mix. Hell, I may even pay to see him in concert if given the opportunity.  And one I didn’t think I’d miss so much. 

The endless mix of songs that’s given rhythm and life to my blended together days has given me a lot of Avicii; a DJ I mentioned to Youtube’s algorithm that I liked because of a few songs I had saved on my old Google Play Music Player and in a stroke of genius and the algorithm for once getting something right, almost every song I’ve gotten from the DJ has been a new and unexpected hit that I had never heard before. I thought that I was a fan by knowing literally 3 or 4 songs but there are so many tracks I just hadn’t heard before and each one just showed more and more skill and diversity that I just didn’t expect from the young DJ. I didn’t think Trouble would hit so hard or that Dear Boy would nearly bring me to tears. I didn’t think that Broken Arrows or Heaven would be so easy to dance to. I thought I knew Avicii but I was so so wrong. I’m glad now, for once, to have been corrected. 

But a theme emerged as I continued to listen deeper into his discography, a feeling of emptiness and loss. I suddenly found myself mourning all over again: not just for the young life snuffed out too soon but also for the loss of talent that he took with him to his eternal rest. 

It’s a complicated relationship that fans have with creators that have passed on. Many of us lament the time taken from us as fans as if we are owed creation. Many of us wish for just one more book, just one more song, just one more when really; that’s usually far from what we want. We selfishly wish for more time that death has so cruelly taken from us as avid fans and dedicated listeners while willfully shunning the fact that more time does not always lead to genius. We had many years with Harper Lee, only to be bitterly disappointed by the treasure that time can bring. But with Avicii as I continue to listen to each song he crafted, I can’t help but feel that familiar pang in my chest of “what if”.

What if he was given more time? What if he had one more set? One more studio album. One more single. What would he be making now? What would his style be? Would he dabble in tropical house again? Would he partner with DJs that I also admire? Whose vocals would he use next? What would his sound be like as he gained skill and matured? What songs that are out now or ones out before would he sample or experiment with? 

What would Avicii be doing now?

 I lament the loss of potential now, with Avicii’s death. And while of course, I mourn Tim as a person, I just wonder what we could have now if he was still with us. 

What I’ve Purchased During the Pandemic- Part 2: The Frivolous Purchases

It was actually a comment on the previous post that got me to consider. Most of my purchases were pretty utilitarian and in fact, it was a comment on my restraint that got me thinking: I have bought silly things during this pandemic. It’s always weird talking about the things you buy because it either feels like an aggressive flex or just wrong in a world where so much economic inequality exists. Well, I’m willing to put away some of my angst for the sake of not looking so damn beatific. I am human. I make mistakes. I make silly purchases. 

A Plague Doctor Plushie

I saw this little darling floating around the social internet early into the pandemic. It had become quite the meme that the pandemic meant the return of plague doctors with all the people wearing masks around both at home and in public spaces. The plague doctor is one that has had a curious history in the Western world. The visage of the plague doctor has been with us since the Black Death when masked doctors would visit patients and hoped that simply covering their faces would protect them and their patients from the illness but since they have no comprehension of germ theory; they were only half right. They did protect themselves but not their patients. Needless to say, when Squishable opened up pre-orders for what I can only say is the cutest little plague doctor plushie: I immediately hit the pre-order button. I can’t wait for the little guy to arrive. 

A Limited Edition Blu-Ray

I have always been very careful with my purchases when it comes to anime and manga. I try to limit what I get and when I get it. I tend to keep most of my splurges for convention weekends. I also, due to a fluke of just how I collect anime and manga, am incredibly selective due to the limited nature of finite space that comes with shelving units. I don’t just buy often: I tend to only pick up volumes of manga that are missing or volumes or series DVDs that are particularly of note. I have a real soft spot for physical media because I am old and I like owning my media. Internet connections can be fickle: my DVD copy of Fullmetal Alchemist has never failed me. Twittering Birds Never Fly is a series I have been following for years. It’s near and dear to my heart. I immediately fell in love with the characters, storytelling and the drama that inherently comes with a bodyguard falling in love with a yakuza boss. When I earlier mentioned an anime adaptation on this blog I was nearly euphoric. Well, the movie was a hit in Japan and has earned more DVD releases of the popular yaoi series but there wasn’t at the time a huge likelihood of an American license. In Japan, to commemorate the release of the film: a limited edition blu-ray and DVD was released with keychains and prints. And dear reader, after literally months of agonizing, waiting, deciding and undeciding: I did it. I ordered it. I ordered the limited edition blu-ray on the last possible day for pre-order.  It took awhile for the disc itself to arrive but once it did, the regret I had over the cost, the shipping, the implications of spending so much on plastic vanished. I was happy. I was thrilled to have the keychain set, the print, the thing in my hands. 

A Plague Nurse Plushie 

You didn’t think I wasn’t going to get her, did you? You didn’t think I’d leave my darling little plague doctor alone and without a partner. She’s darling, isn’t it? Even though plague nurses never existed in this form and most of the early models of fanart and costumes were based off of a St. Lucia outfit, more traditionally Scandivian in design, the Squishables design is exactly what a plague nurse would look like. She’s delightful and her lantern glows and I can’t wait for her to arrive and be the perfect partner for my little doctor. 

 A Fanzine 

Okay, I admit it. I am a tsundere. So, I have been indulging in some content based around and relating to My Hero Academy despite how much I rail against it in my panels. It’s…serviceable. I just happened to find a few characters I don’t hate. Listen, the storytelling is still mostly boring and if I have to focus on Deku as the main character, I’ll throw up. Give me Cheers but with the LOV and I’m set. Needless to say, when a fanzine was announced with a pairing that I quite like; I preordered and jumped at the chance to firstly, support some artists that I really like and secondly, indulge in a pairing I think is just the best and quickly entered my OTP list. Redacted Wings is a DabiHawks (don’t you dare judge me, this should be very much expected) fanzine with some fantastic talent behind it and two characters I shouldn’t love as much as I do but do so much. And it may be this…ingestion of materials that is leading me to look at red wings on Amazon…but that’s for another blog post. 

Those are the things I’ve purchased that are a little less utilitarian than a ring light and a new microphone. I’m shockingly miserly when it comes to spending because I come from a long line of women with bad spending habits. Because of this, I put almost all of my purchases under nearly impossible to stand up to scrutiny. Many things just don’t make the cut but the pandemic’s stress has forced me to loosen up a little and try and find simple pleasure in little things, like a fanzine where two disaster characters you like a lot do some smooching. It’s been a struggle to “let loose” and spend on frivolous things but it’s also been rewarding to see things that aren’t bills arrive in the mail. 

Stay well and stay safe, dear reader. 

Thanks for reading.