The Long Journey Home

It’s been nearly a year since I posted a blog post. That’s not to say the 20+ posts in Drafts doesn’t mean I didn’t want to say something. I wanted to talk about what happened with my guild, the one that fell apart, which, for the most part has just sort of blown over and no one really remembers much of it anyway. I wrote multiple posts about Con Creepers after Blizzcon last year, but never published those either.I want to blog about things, and games, and stuff. I want to talk about things that are important to me. I just feel like it’s almost not worth the effort. Or, I should say, I’ve convinced myself it’s not worth the effort.

I was thinking about it tonight, as I was getting friendly advice on twitter (from a multitude of people), trying to figure out why I got so self-conscious about my writing. What was the moment when it seemed to matter the most to me. When did I start to care what folks thought about me. It dawned on me, as I was standing there staring into my closet looking for something to sleep in.

I know exactly when it was. It was right about the time when the internet turned on me and I had to face a small army of misogynistic assholes (trigger warning on the link: harassment, misogyny, rape jokes) who were asked by their shitty leader (who now goes by an entirely different name these days) to harass me. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to get this from folks on a daily basis. And the worst part is that I don’t even give a shit about what people think of me! I don’t need to please everyone and I certainly don’t need everyone to like me, but it was the way in which they banded together, I guess, to “fight against their common enemy”. Namely, me. It was the idea that my blog, being a gaming World of Warcraft blog, was something worth mocking.

The comments that are hidden from view because this guy felt he deserved, no had a right, to comment on my blog and have them be posted publicly for everyone to read. He attacked my humanity. He attacked my hobbies. He attacked gamers and gaming. He attacked those identifiers that are part of who I am. It was more than just harsh words and criticisms, at least at the time.

My roommate (and ex-boyfriend) brushed it off. Told me I shouldn’t let it get to me. I shouldn’t care, because in the grand scheme of things, that guy and his followers didn’t matter. He was right, of course, that ex of mine. It just didn’t stop it from bothering me. And it certainly didn’t stop it from bothering me to the point that I simply limited what I was writing about on the internet. If I don’t say it, it can’t be used against me, right?

In the end, though, he won. He silenced another woman on the internet. So for 2 years, I’ve written posts that I never published. I wrote about things that mattered to me, but didn’t share them with anyone. I wrote and re-wrote but the time was wasted since I never posted them. I talk about writing and I am encouraged to write, by my friends closest to me and even seeming strangers, but I still seem to convince myself not to bother.

Will this be the start of a different trend?? I don’t know. I’ll see. For now, I just really wanted to see something different on my blog. ;)

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.