The Big(ger) Picture

When thinking of the big picture, there’s so much that comes to mind for me. Especially because there’s been a lot of stuff going on with the guild, with my life, with recruitment, with friendships, with everything and I’m not always flawless at keeping the lines drawn between all of these things. Every now and again there’s a small thing that comes up and I take the opportunity to seize it. But I’m editorializing, or some such.

The internet at large knows that I am a feminist. I’m not only a feminist, but I’m someone who continues to have conversations about what my experiences have been like, and the stories that have been told to me. I talk about why it’s still a problem and engage in conversations about how and why it should be better. When Brianna Melina sent me a tweet some 30-ish hours ago, I was fielding her request in the same way I do with a lot of random people who tweet me out of the blue. Shifty eyes and a sideways glance. She asked me to do a survey for a research project. She admitted that she wasn’t a bot soliciting anything and just an exhausted graduate student. So I went through and read all the stuff on her survey. And then I proceeded to take the survey. It took me roughly a half hour, but I completely and entirely admit that I was leveling my little teeny gnome DK at the time (or running around bitching and moaning about blacksmithing materials at least).

What came next is still something that floors me. I am in awe of the internet. As much as I hate trolls and people who intentionally grief others. As much as I hate how easy it is to spread hate and be vile and be malicious toward other people. As much as I hate how the internet is a tool for fuckwits and asshats to band together and be a bigger group of fuckwits and asshats, I have to admit that this time it left me pretty in awe of its power.

I’ve seen it happen in the past. I watched the internet devour people like festering rats. I’ve watched it seek out their prey and stalk and kill them, online in virtual space. I’ve seen them chase good people off the internet. I’ve watched as the masses of misogynistic men chase feminist after feminist into hiding out of fear, after countless rape, violence, and death threats are tossed their way. This is a different kind of viral, though.

Over the last 30 hours I’ve watched my one tweet spread across the internet. I’ve watched as people ask me questions (at which point I kindly point them to Brianna’s twitter account). I explain that while it wasn’t intentional to not include her in the initial tweet (and oversight), I never once let people believe it was my research project. But when good questions came through, such as whether a transgendered woman could participate or if it included tabletop games or specifically video games, I let them know that I would let Brianna know and she would be the one to answer the question.

Never have I seen a tweet of mine be sent all over the internet like that. I know it’s done. I know it happens. I see the favorites rack up for Nathan Fillion’s tweets, Wil Wheaton’s tweets, or Felicia Day’s tweets. It never occurred to me that it would be a tweet I wrote that went across the globe. It made me wish I had a way to track the degrees of separation the tweet traveled. Who did you get it from and who saw it from your retweet, that sort of thing. 695 retweets (as of writing this).

Brianna has since posted an update and the number of responses she’s gotten has been astounding! And I continue to get Tweetbot notifications that it’s being retweeted.

The conversation is still being had out there. It’s still one that women are wanting to discuss, either openly or behind anonymity. It’s one that continues to be had across the internet. I know that I have a good number of followers in the WoW community on twitter. I try hard to stay engaged in conversations and make lasting friendships with people. I care about the people I talk to and get to know on a weirdly personal level. I’m sad when I lose friendships and I rejoice in the milestones of others. I make gifts for folks. I buy things from others. I share aspects of myself and my life on twitter. I am a real person there, as are many, MANY other people. The influx of new followers (over 30! holy crap!) is leaving me feeling a little bit scared and camera shy, so to speak.

When I posted that initial tweet I expected it to be retweeted probably 10-15 times and I might get Brianna 10-20 responses. I never, in my wildest dreams, expected her to get over 1500 responses from all over the world. To get strangers asking me questions and letting me know they were interested in the research. Research I now wish I could be a more active part of, because damn, how awesome is it going to be to run statistical analysis on the answers!

I had never gotten a tweet from her before and on the one hand I’m apologetic to her for the attention she’s getting as a result of the one tweet. On the other hand I know that the more responses she gets, the better her data will be, so I’m glad to have been a part of it.

If you haven’t had a chance to take the survey, considering doing so. There’s only a few stipulations. You need to identify as a woman and be 25 years or older.

Not everyone has a mother

Trigger Warning: mental abuse, suicide, family issues.

This isn’t a game related post. So for those of you who are here hoping for something fun, or even slightly funny, related to WoW or other game, you might want to move along. This isn’t one of those posts.

This post is deeply personal. I talk about this stuff pretty flippantly when it comes up, but I don’t delve too far into all the sordid details. What with a friend’s post about her divorce, and Allie Brosh’s (of Hyperbole and a Half) post about depression, I started really thinking a lot about things going on right now.

Not everyone knows this but I have no family nearby. It was super depressing to think about this when I needed to put an emergency contact on my “If found on the side of the road almost dead” bracelet. Who the hell should a random stranger call in case I had to be taken to the hospital?? My nearest family member lives hundreds of miles away. 7-8 hour drive minimum. I don’t have a lot of close friends because I find they only want to be friend’s with me when they need something, so I’ve stopped trying to keep track, or keep up.

But mother’s day is looming around the corner. It’s only days away and this holiday brings out a lot of frustration and emotion for me. It’s even more frustrating when I hear people say things like “everyone has a mother.” It simply isn’t true. I haven’t had a mother since I was 19 years old. I was born from someone, yes. But I haven’t had a mother in my life for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s even like to say “My mom…” about anything.

My mother is a first generation Korean immigrant. She was a hippy when she came with my dad back to the States. She wore tube tops and had hair down to her butt. She wore big glasses. The person she was in the pictures I have of her don’t reflect the person I remember all of my life.

My mother showed up one day with a golden retriever puppy. Then a couple weeks later, after my sister and I had grown attached, left the front door open. The puppy was gone and never returned.

My mother liked to use her accent or lack of “English” as a reason for why we weren’t communicating very well, but couldn’t understand that I understood her perfectly fine. Her English was perfectly fine. There was nothing wrong with the way she communicated, just the meaning behind her words, is all.

My mother spent the majority of my childhood telling me how fat I was, how I should be ashamed of myself and strive to look like my sister, emaciated thing that she was. I remember being about 16 years old and we were sitting around the table eating dinner watching Cops of all shows. It was my mom, her boyfriend, my sister and I. And there was a larger officer running. And the words that came out of my mother’s mouth floored me. Sickened me even. She said “That fat guy should never have become a cop. Look at him, he can’t even run!” I was taken aback, but these are the comments I had been hearing for years. I just didn’t sit back and take it this time though. This time I said something.

“Y’know, you don’t know anything about that guy! Why would you judge him like that?”
“But look at him, he can’t even run!”
“It’s a tv show. He’s running just fine. So what if he’s fat. That doesn’t mean he can’t do his job.”

This generally turned into a discussion about how I should marry a rich man who would take care of me.

My mother accused me of stealing some packets of M&Ms out of the cupboard. In doing so, she decided to lecture only me in front of my sister and the two daughters of some guy she was living with this time. It was all my fault, because I was the oldest. Which meant that I had to be the one who stole the M&Ms out of the closet. She decided to slap me, across the face, in front of everyone, because I refused to admit that I had stolen the stupid candy. I was 17 and slapped her back. The conversation quickly became something else entirely. It was about respect and how dare I slap her! And “I can’t believe you just slapped me!” It was the last time my mother laid a hand on me.

I lost track of the number of times my mother told me how ugly I looked when I was angry. I lost track of the number of times she told me she would kill me if she could. I lost track of the number of time she told me what a horrible daughter I was because I didn’t listen to her and do what she said.

I distinctly remember getting into an elevator one days and she made this off-handed comment “Oh look, two fatties just got on!” and since we were the only two, I knew she meant the two of us. My mom was never fat, and looking back, I wasn’t either. I am now, but I wasn’t then.

In high school I planned how I would kill myself. Where I would do it. Everything. I had the letters written. The one I would leave at home on my dresser for my dad and the one I would have in my pocket for everyone else. I remember how shitty I felt. How I never felt comfortable being me. I wore clothes big enough for an adult man, to hide myself in them. No one can see how fat you are if you’re drowning in your clothes, right? I wore a jacket all year long so that I could hide my boobs. Because my mom made me feel great shame for having them. Poking them and laughing when telling me how big they were. Calling them everything other than what they were… boobs. Once I turned 18, I went to live with her in Los Angeles. I thought it would be better than the small town I grew up in. I remember telling her about how I was once suicidal. I told her that it was because of how she made me feel about myself. How ugly she made me feel because I wasn’t tiny and skinny.

She told me, “That had nothing to do with me. It just mean you’re weak.”

I came home one day to the front door kicked in and several police officers standing in my living room. My mother apparently had tried to kill herself because her boyfriend had decided to leave her. She swallowed a bunch of Tylenol with codeine, called him and told him what she was doing. He called the cops. They rushed her to the hospital. She managed to convince the social worker assigned to her, that she was safe to go home… but they needed someone to watch her. I was 19 years old and in college. I had a boyfriend and things to do! I didn’t have the mental capacity to keep track of my mother at this point.

Two weeks later I came home to a strange man living in our house. I figured it was just a new boyfriend, but I’d never met him before. I had no idea who he was. But I wanted to light a candle in the house, so I went digging in her room for some matches or a lighter. I knew she sometimes smoked and would have these things. Instead I found a package of wedding photos. She had run off to Las Vegas and married this guy, this stranger. After another couple of weeks the guy was gone. She told me that he wasn’t living up to his end of the deal, and that was for him to help put me though school. I stared at her, drop-jawed, because why would I accept something like that from a guy I didn’t know!

My mother stole my car from me while I was at work, leaving me stranded. At this point I had moved out and was living with a boyfriend. The car was in her name, but I was making the payments on it. She showed up at my office building, went to the parking garage, and took the car, leaving me stranded there. It was a mess. And a nightmare. And the last time I spoke to my mom. She called me, months later, and left a voice mail on my work number saying she wanted me to call her but didn’t leave a number.

That was the last time I heard from my mother. She’s no where to be found now. My dad has tried looking for her. My sister blames me for my mother going off the grid. No one knows what happened to her. But I made a decision to not talk to her again. The fat comments were daily for the majority of my life. The “you look like the devil” comments came any time I tried to stand up to her for the way she treated me or other people.

So forgive me if I don’t want to celebrate Mother’s day in some trite, commercialized way. I don’t have a mother. I have a woman who gave birth to me, but a mother, the mother I would be if I wanted kids, is not the woman she was to me.

So forgive me if I don’t partake in celebrating mom’s on Sunday. I still have a few open wounds my mom left that refuse to heal.

Would it surprise you to know…

This is one of those posts that I often wish I’d never actually sit down to write. I think about it often, especially each time I experience racism or blatant discrimination and stereotyping based on the way I look, talk, or dress. However, this is a really personal thing, and the point of it isn’t to get sympathy or try to get people to feel sorry for me. Mostly, this is to tell a story I’ve been wanting to tell… in hopes that someone will think twice before they judge based on arbitrary shit.

My History
Without getting into the boring and intense details of my upbringing, let’s just say that it was a little emotionally abusive. For some it might even be classified as a lot emotionally abusive. My mother had a tendency to tell me how fat I was, on a fairly regular basis. My sister was the picture of what a daughter was supposed to be. Thin, tall, interested in make-up, and playing dress-up. I was the exact opposite. I was bulkier, played sports, got dirty, and was more interested in asking my dad how things worked than wearing make-up.

Growing up I was also always a bigger girl. My mother made a lot of really nasty remarks to me and had been since I was a young girl (bear with me this all will make sense eventually). I remember this one time we were at the Northridge Mall in the Los Angeles area. We were about to get into an elevator and she said “Oh look, two fatties just got on.” I  did what I always did, and I kept my mouth shut. I remember over years all of the nasty and terrible things my mom used to say to me. She’d ask me why I didn’t look like my sister (who was skinny and more Asian-like). At a certain point I started sticking up for myself to her. Not surprising that she didn’t understand where the defiance came from, or why I was acting that way. One night she slapped me across the face to make a point. So I slapped her back. I was 18 years old.

In high school I was the “smart girl”. Few people today remember my name, but they remember that I always knew the answers. I was the best to be in a group project with, cause I would do all of the work and everyone would get A’s. But I was forgettable. Unmemorable. I was also severely depressed and suicidal. Not many people know this. I used to self-harm. I wrote suicide notes that were stashed in a cubby hole in my closet. I plotted when and how I would do it. As an adult I told my mother this, how she made me feel. How she made me hate myself to the point that I didn’t think I was worth living anymore. Wanna know what she said to me??

“It’s cause you’re weak and pathetic. It’s not my fault, it’s your own fault. I didn’t do anything.”

Yup. When I finally had the courage to tell her what she had done to me, she blamed me for my problems. When my mother stole my car and left me stranded at work, I never spoke to her again. I still don’t talk to her.

Now an Adult
Once I hit adulthood and moved out of her home, it was much easier to find who I was. I was floundering for awhile, because my identity seemed to rest in what my mother thought of me. My first tattoo was somewhere that no one could see, unless I took my pants off, so that it could be hidden from the world… especially my mother.

I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly beautiful person. Aesthetically, I mean. I’ve never been skinny. I’ve always had these gigantic boobs which made me look funny. I have short legs, and gigantic calves. I have fat arms and a round face. In those early years though, I was half the size I am now. But my mother made sure that I was controlled by my fear of not being good enough because I was never going to be skinny enough.

At some point, and I don’t even know when it was, but I stopped caring what my mother thought of me. I hadn’t talked to her in years. I stopped caring what strangers thought of me. I stopped caring about how fat I was. I started realizing that my size allowed me to have one of the best things ever… a bigger canvas for art I could wear!

Each of my tattoos tell a story, even the ones that got covered. I can remember where I was and why I got them. Most of all… I got them so that I could look in the mirror and see something beautiful… even if my mother made sure that I never believed it was me.

Bigotry and Stereotyping
I get stared at a lot. All the time. I can’t always tell why I’m being stared at but today at the gas station some tiny little 60-something woman gave me the dirtiest look when she climbed out of her way-to-big SUV. Her face read like a storybook I’ve read too many times. She didn’t like me because I had a lot of fuckin’ nerve being a woman, with tattoos, and showing them while I poured my injector cleaner into my tank before pumping gas. Her face quickly changed, in a split second, to “Please don’t stab me” as though my flowers were the sign of some notorious gang she had yet to hear about.

It’s a two-fold bigotry, or maybe four-fold. I’m a big. I’m a girl. I have visible tattoo and I wear tank tops (remember those big arms, yeah, fuck sleeves). And I don’t give a fuck. Only sometimes I give fucks! Sometimes I give two fucks! Because for every person who comes up to me and tells me how awesome my tattoos are, or how beautiful they are, there are 5 like her judging me from smug faces.

And you know what? I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having my feelings hurt by it. There were some jokes on twitter, and it helped lighten the mood, but the hurt is still there. It stacks on top of all the hurt I’ve felt for never being good enough for my mother. For all of those men who told me how beautiful I would be if I lost a few pounds. For all the jobs I didn’t get because of my tattoos, or my hair color, or for being a woman.

I’m just so fuckin’ tired of it. And I can hear it now… all those people who ask me “Why did you get tattoos on your arms and chest?” And I always have a story, some tried-and-true story, that seems to appease the prejudiced assholes. Really what I want to say is, Why does it fuckin’ matter where I got my tattoos? Should I have to explain the story of my mother, dredging up all those old memories, and all that hurt just to get people to back the fuck off?

My tattoos do not equate to the quality of my person.

I do a thankless job. I get shit on regularly. I get told some of the most atrocious stories. I let people pass judgment on me for being tattooed, an atheist, and foreign (since I’m so exotic people don’t bother to ask me what my heritage is they just assume I’m Mexican*). Not only do I give to the community, but I give back so that these children don’t have to deal with assholes like SmugSUV Bitch. So that they might have an opportunity to do something different. Learn something new. Participate in something awesome.

My job is so fulfilling there are no words. But fuck if I can’t handle the judgment and general assholery. Like fuck! What more do I have to do to get you to treat people with a little fuckin’ common decency? Should I do this shit for free??

My tattoos, despite their visible-ness, are for me. They are my beauty. They are for me to admire and look at daily. I’m tired of people judging me for something so arbitrary and stupid. And y’know what?? You should BE SO LUCKY as to see them in person!

/throws something across the room

* There is nothing wrong with being Mexican, but it’s frustrating and annoying to have culture thrust upon me because of my skin tone. I’d rather people ask. I’m not ashamed of my heritage.