English Bay Blues: An excerpt

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This is an except of a Mass Effect Fan Fiction I’m writing on Wattpad. Kaidan’s story and prequel to Mass Effect 1.

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Values, Perspective & Life

The way the world is turning these days makes me really question whether or not humanity will ever advance past their own short-sightedness of their own small perspectives.
Sure there are those who do good things and those who give freely. Those who create movements and petitions to put an end to suffering. Those who champion the needs of the exploited and the helpless. Those who make a difference in the world even when the impact of those differences are small and often go unnoticed and unreported.
Yet still. The overall tone of the world at large is that of me. Me, me, me. The mentality of what’s in it for me? What about my suffering? What about my job? My house? My money? My religion? My beliefs?
The reality of “we’re all connected” and “what happens here has an impact over there” is still not understood or valued by the masses. Which for me is very disheartening. How can we as a people or a species say that every life matters and then allow countries to hunt another species to extinction?  Or kill hundreds and say it’s awful but turn away those seeking safety or respite from murderers?
How can we demand better education for children, better health care, better food options while ignoring droughts where people have no water or the role we played in causing/contributing to drought?
It fascinates and baffles me that as a species we are so focused on our “rights” that we don’t see how our “rights” have a direct impact that contributes to the destruction of ourselves and the world we live in.
When someone dies are they remembered for how much money they  had? (Well maybe if you’re in their will.) But seriously – not really. Mostly people are remembered for the impact they had on the people around them. That they lived their lives to the fullest, treated others with kindness and respect. Loved their family and friends and loved well. Did the best they could with their lives in the time they had and knew the value of love, laughter and charity.
I guess what this post is trying to say is that when your time is up how do you want to be remembered? As someone who valued all life and knew their impact on the world? Or someone who only valued what they could see? Or only those people or things that shared the same viewpoint? How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to impact the world?
Either way, the choice is yours. And as Emmet Brown says, “Your future’s whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

Do You Ever Get Tired

Of all the false positivity posts that are more than abundant on social media sites? Ever verbally denounce or scoff at someone’s ridiculous post about how  life can be awesome if you just relax and breathe and think good thoughts?
Well I do. And if you don’t that’s fine too but if do you probably won’t want to read this post. Perhaps you should go elsewhere. No really. Just go. You’re still here? Well okay then, enjoy. Or not.

All animosity aside there are days when the crap I see posted on Facebook makes me want to throw things. I mean really. You’ve got posts that proclaim that “everything is energy” to shocking videos of some rather socially challenged Wal-Mart shoppers to non-profits wanting you to sign petitions to prevent animal abuse or deforestation, to the latest cutesy cat video to some guy crashing a plane killing everyone on board.
And yet in the same downward scroll of your news feed someone else is telling you how simple it is to raise your energetic vibration so that your positive state can heal the world and everyone around you.

Um what? Have you seen what I just read? Violations of human rights, animal cruelty in China, crazy people shopping at Wal-Mart, a random but failed arson attempt in my home town, and you expect me to believe that by just being positive I can change all that?
Who are you people and what are you smoking?

I agree that everyone has the ability to affect positive change to some degree regardless of where they are in life or where they are in the world. But.
Based on daily news and daily atrocities committed in the world, a few handfuls of people practicing positive change is not enough for what ails the human population today. And posts proclaiming otherwise make me question your sanity, especially if you’re also going to “teach me how in 3 easy steps,” for the “one time low payment of  $300.”

So even though you’re saying I can affect change, you’re going to make a profit off the secret to how I can do that?  Isn’t that part of the problem though? Or am I just missing the point of positive change on that I should profit from the solution to how I personally can affect positive change?

Wow. If that’s the case then perhaps those who promote this bs are nothing more than profiteers who are no more adding beneficial contributions to humanity than the people who have or will ever contribute nothing.

How about this for inspiring positive change in your world: Don’t read fantastical posts on Facebook, stop surfing social media sites, turn off your computer and put your phone on silent.
Go outside for a walk in nature, volunteer at your favorite non-profit, host a block party, adopt an endangered animal (through financial contributions), recycle, don’t pollute, meet your friends and family for dinner, better yet invite them over for a backyard bbq, go out for dinner with your family once a month, spend time with all the people you care about regularly (that means at least once a month), and lastly do work that you enjoy for a company or business that does not go against your morals and ethics.

Easy right? Best of all, free and no Facebook required.

The Life Not Lived

Just lying here on my couch, not feeling great when it occurs to me that I forgot to do something. Then it hits me….oh yeah, I forgot to have a life. Lol. Well kinda, sorta…but yeah my life has no resemblance to what l envisioned for myself.

Sometimes or maybe all the time the plans we make for our future never really manifest the way we had planned. In some cases it can be as if the life we thought we were going to have doesn’t just take a left turn or the wrong fork in the road. Sometimes it’s as though we completly missed the fork and the plans and suddenly where we are looks nothing like what we’d imagined. Like not even close. Almost as though we’re living some strangers life without any clue as to how we got there.

My brother said something back in March that struck a note with me since I’d already been down that road many times myself and still do to some degree. But anyways the story is that he was envious of his girlfriend’s family and how they were well off financially with investments and properties and the like and was regretting not having done the same when he was younger. (Playing the what if game and feeling bad about not being smarter about certain life “things.”)

We all do this to some degree at some point in our lives and having done it myself many times over the years I had an epiphany of sorts.

I’m sure this has been said before but liklely in a much more flower powery way. As soon as you begin comparing your life to another’s you will always come out on the bottom, because lets face it, most of the time we compare our lives to someone we envy because they seem to be so much better off than we are.

The thing is though that no one else has had your life. No one else has had your experiences and no one else grew up in the exact same environment you did with the same external influences affecting your life and choices. Playing the what if game is as pointless and unproductive as beating a dead horse. The horse is still dead and your past is still in the past.

Even if you could go back for a do-over there’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t still make the same choices. Maybe you would have a bit more knowledge if you took what you knew now with you, BUT…in my experience knowledge isn’t as big a determining factor as your feelings. Strong emotions are typically the main driving force behind any major decisions we make for ourselves. Whether it be passion for our work, love for a partner or the desire to own a home. Knowledge helps but strong feelings are typically what drives most people to make the choices they make and choose the things they do, not wisdom.

So the next time you see something you don’t have or are envious of and think “gee I wish I had that,” keep in mind that even if you could have a do-over (which you can’t btw), how certain are you that you would make different choices?

Something to think about for sure.

I Might Be Crazy

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But is it a bad thing that I hate poetry?
I’ve no idea when this happened, but somewhere along the road of my life I began to r-e-a-l-l-y hate reading other people’s poetry.

I’m not referring to the kind of poetry that appears in songs or chorus lines in music. I am referring to the kind of poetry that doesn’t rhyme, doesn’t flow, contains more imagery than a landscape of flowers and for all intents and purposes is really someone’s emotional angst put into words.

A while back some guy on a dating site sent me a poem IM and added that if I gave him a topic he’d write me a Haiku. Yeah, cheesy I know, but I thought wth, I’m bored, so I did and he did and I still wasn’t impressed and added that I had never really liked haikus. He didn’t believe me and insisted that I just hadn’t given haikus a chance… um yeah okay.

But I honestly have never liked poetry and although I read some during my self-directed writing education I never understood why anyone would want to read it. Never mind write it.

For me poetry is someone else’s emotional angst or pain or joy hidden behind flowery images that disguise or filter the truth of an experience to the point that the reader has to guess or imagine what the author is getting at. It doesn’t matter what the author is trying to portray, the response I have every time is one of annoyance and irritation.

If you want to share an experience that’s fine but don’t flower it up with fancy imagery that attempts to make it more memorable than it really is. Everyone experiences strong emotional events at some point in life but does it really need a poem written about it?

I think not.

An Aside

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Was just browsing the vast and never ending blog sites that are the mainstream of our new and improved online society. BTW…I say that with a healthy dose of sarcasm since I firmly believe that in many ways our current “online” society is not much of an improvement.
Everyone just loves to list all the great
benefits of a connected society that
makes the world a better place and supposedly makes our world less isolated. Yet honestly I firmly believe that the exact opposite is true. Gone are block parties and dinner with the neighbors. Gone are kids getting physically active at the local public park. Gone are informal social events that allow you to get out of the house to socialize with real live people in real time.
Now before you climb on your soapbox and list all the great things digital society has enabled, ask yourself this one thing. How has the internet enhanced and improved your social life? Do you have more friends? Do you participate in more social gatherings as a result of being more connected? Do you feel less isolated? Happier? More fulfilled? Succesful?
From what I’ve seen in my own life and that of my family, as far as I can tell our connected society has not improved our social lives and relationships and by extension our society as a whole. I believe that while on the surface we’re more connected to others we are also more isolated than ever before.
Which is why I think there are so many bloggers out there. It’s the new “connected ” way for writers and others to feel less isolated than they truly are. But in my opinion, it’s a poor substitute for forging true and long-lasting real life relationships.

And that, as they say is that.

http://www.cwtv.com/shows/supernatural/halt-and-catch-fire/?play=1abc4f3e-bd60-4e85-b1cf-b3347422a309

Supernatural and Fan Fiction

So what makes a television show like Supernatural popular? What creates a fandom, a following and/or dedicated sites run by fans for any form of popular culture? Fan fiction always springs from fans (stating the obvious here), but it makes me wonder why. What inspires anyone to write fiction based on an established popular fiction that already exists with its’ own canonical history. It’s not as though these writers are likely to get noticed or gain popularity or even make a living from it. Writing is hard and writing takes time but one caveat regarding fan fiction is that for good writing to work, you have to be passionate about your subject. Which obviously is in big supply if you’re already a fan of your subject matter. As a fan, passion is what drives you to watch every episode (TV), see every movie your object of interest has a role in, or play every game your favorite character appears in. That’s passion, but writing fan fiction goes beyond simple fandom. It takes time, work, effort, dedication and likely a lot of research as well, which in my opinion seems just a little bit obsessive.

I don’t have anything against writers of fan fiction, far from it. What I do have against fan fiction is when fans take the next bizarre step that veers way off the beaten track of established canon for any work of fiction. When Supernatural aired it’s 200th episdode, Fan Fiction, they covered some fan fiction that’s not canon and, in my humble opinion should never be explored or even written down. Part of this non-canonical fan fiction was mentioned in a previous episode of Supernatural, during Season 4, Episode 18 The Monster at the End of this Book, when Sam and Dean discovered a series of books called Supernatural, that somehow chronologues their lives. Dean mentions that he is “full frontal” in one book and on the fan website that Sam has found, the following conversation occcurs:

Dean: There are “Sam girls” and “Dean girls” and – what’s a “slash fan”?
Sam: As in… Sam-slash-Dean. Together.
Dean: Like, together together?
Sam: Yeah.
Dean: They do know we’re brothers, right?
Sam: Doesn’t seem to matter.
Dean: Oh, come on. That… That’s just sick. (he shuts the laptop in disgust)

I have to agree with Dean’s assessment on this one. Some things should just never be explored or expressed. It is a work of fiction people. Now as if that wasn’t going too far already, apparently fans have taken this non-canon fandom to an all new level of just plain wrong. As mentioned in the episode Fan Fiction, the second act of the play that (thankfully) is never shown, Dean is told that the second act explores the “subtext” of the relationships between Sam, Dean and Castiel, which is elaborated on by the director when she says that you can’t spell subtext without s-e-x.

Now I understand that fantasy s-e-x is something nearly everyone likes to explore, but in my opinion taking existing fictional characters that have no business engaging in sex with each other is just plain wrong. I don’t care how attractive, sexy or “hot” a fantasy might be, there are just some things that are best kept to yourself. I’m not against any form of sexual preference of any kind, but taking fictional characters that have no business becoming romantic interests to one another, (especially when canon has already firmly established that the basis of their relationship is the strong family bond the main characters have for each other), no one (and I don’t care who you are unless you’re the original creator of the work), has any business creating connections that don’t exist.

Fan fiction writers and other types of fans can be downright scary when you dare to dip your toe into a world of http://sizzlingsuperstars.com/misha-collins-an-american-actor-and-director/fandom you have only looked at from the outside. I’m a fan, but I’m not scary about it. A few weeks ago, I caught a tweet request from Misha Collins that I happened to be in the right place and time to respond to but within minutes of posting my @ reply, was slammed by an uber fan who felt it necessary to point out my error… which, by the way was not an error, but knowing what I know of uber fans felt it best to let it slide. I mean seriously people, it’s not as though Misha was going to respond to either of us Twitter fans so who really cares who got there first? It’s nice to think that a celebrity you admire will like what you have to say but realistically, if I was the one with over a million followers I would not ever make it a habit to respond to individual messages from people I don’t know. More than likely I would live to regret that one time of reaching out to a fan tweet only to have my Twitter account crash as a result (or some other equally unpleasant repercussion).

Bottom line, if you want to write fan fiction don’t let anything stop you. But if you do, think long and hard about writing anything that isn’t canon. If characters are related by blood, they shouldn’t be sleeping together, period. If established characters are not in any way romantically involved and are never intended to be, don’t create fictional romantic connections where they don’t exist and never will. In my honest opinion that’s just crapping all over someone else’s hard work involving character development and plot lines and in the words of my man Dean, “that’s just sick.” (And wrong).

Join me next time when I explore what truly makes Supernatural so “super.”

How Mass Effect 3 Kicked My Emotional Ass

Originally published June 18, 2012 @ Destructoid.com by Sophie Prell

 

LiaraWhen was the last time a videogame made you think about relationships? Truly reflect on them, I mean? BioWare has a knack for making them just about mandatory in each of their games, but they’re hardly the only ones that have made romantic relationships a fleshed-out feature of contemporary gaming. We’ve seen a relationship develop between Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher over the course of three games, and Heavy Rain focused heavily on the fallout of a broken family. We could sit here all day and list similar titles.

But there is one thing I’ve never seen a videogame do, try as they might: treat relationships holistically and realistically. It seems like such an easy thing to do, but apparently storytellers just aren’t ready to go there.

Nathan and Elena have obviously had troubles and tension, as can be seen when they reunite in Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3. But we never see what life was like between titles, only the happy moments or snippy barbs of humor. They’re the videogame equivalent of a romance novel relationship. The Ross and Rachel of videogames.

Heavy Rain shows what Ethan’s life is like post-divorce, as well as his pursuit of and involvement in a new relationship. But we never get a glimpse of what the divorce proceedings were like. We don’t see the fallout of a family breaking apart. It’s not like the game could’ve been made any more depressing, so why weren’t we taken on the journey with Ethan as his wife blames him for the death of a child and forces him out?

On a happier note, I’ve always remembered the scene from The Darkness where Jenny rests on your chest as you watch To Kill A Mockingbird together, because relationships aren’t always turned up to 11. Sometimes you are as much one another’s friend as you are lover. Why don’t we just “hang out” with our romance options sometimes?Heavy Rain

And then of course there’s Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Which summarizes the complexity of human interaction as “Buy me things and I’ll wear sexy swimsuits for you!” Which, by the way, happens to be one of my favorite aspects of a relationship.

Seriously though, the only games that have come even close to showing the true complexity of a relationship for me — though I’d love to hear if you have your own examples — are the Mass Effect games. If you romance any of the original crew from the first game, they don’t welcome you with open arms in Mass Effect 2. They have conflicting emotions and motives with you and your new alliance with Cerberus, and if you want to get back together, you need to deal with that issue. That’s more realistic and a step in the right direction, but it’s still too easy to persuade your crew that you are the impeccable pinnacle of perfection. Plus, as seen above, there are so many aspects to a real relationship that we just can’t seem to get in one place.

But let me tell you why it’s important that videogames get to that point. Let me tell you a story. Two, actually.

I’ve been plugging away at a second playthrough of Mass Effect 3 lately. After all, I gotta get ‘dem ‘cheevs! Only this time, a conversation on the Citadel gave me pause where I had previously skipped along on my merry Reaper-slaughtering way. This isn’t an important conversation, mind you. It doesn’t even lead to a side quest. It didn’t mean anything to me before. But now, I can’t stop thinking about it.

See, people do funny things when they’re scared. Sometimes they become bitter, selfish assholes who wouldn’t just shove women and children out of the way, but gladly offer them up as a sacrifice if it would mean sparing themselves a less pleasant fate. Sometimes they conquer fear and assert themselves as the righteous redeemed, a shining beacon of all that the spirit and soul can be. And sometimes, it’s not always clear who’s being which.

The conversation I’m referring to takes place between a human female and an asari, early in the game. You can find them chatting the first time you’re able to visit the Citadel, on the Presidium Commons level. The first thing you’ll hear is the human, denoted as “Wife” in the subtitles, say, “I think I’m ready to end it with him.”asari mistress

The “him” being referred to is a male soldier, deployed and off fighting in the war. Want to add a little story and emotion to the multiplayer component of Mass Effect 3? Maybe he’s your multiplayer avatar. The Wife laments how she feels there has been a growing distance between them, and how she no longer feels happy. The asari, “Mistress” as she is described in the subtitles, assures the Wife that she must be honest. That she must tell her husband. Thus ends part one of the conversation.

While others rang in 2012 on New Year’s Eve with toasts of wine and champage, party hats and streamers, kisses and cheers, I was nervously pacing before an audience of my friends and girlfriend. Did I have it? Was it in the bedroom, where I’d left it? Had anyone seen? Was this right to do? I thought forward, backward, up and down. My mind did not run in circles, but instead flew and buzzed about like a balloon oozing out a steady stream of dry, oppressive air.

My toes wrinkled the socks on my feet with a cold sweat. They flexed and gripped at the carpet. I looked to my girlfriend, my eyebrows piqued in concern and anxiety. I say her name. Quietly. My voice struggled to elevate itself above the cheering from the television behind me as crowds of euphoric humans reveled. “I need you to stand up.”

The next time the conversation picks up, it seems fairly innocuous. Wife is debating in her mind how to tell her husband her feelings. Text? Recording? Face-to-face video chat? The first is too impersonal. The second? No, she gets too flustered. Video chat is only available on open comm channels, and as Mistress points out, who knows when he can get to one of those? After all, he knew it would be difficult when he left her behind.

… Wait, what? Left? Left her?

It may seem like such a little thing, such a harmless way of phrasing things. After all, it’s technically true: The man has left his wife behind. But the phrasing now makes it seem as though it’s his fault. And perhaps this growing distance between he and his wife might not be so great if there wasn’t someone in the middle, summarizing their relationship to Wife as a conflict of interests where he left her. It steams me to say the least, but the conversation, for now, ends here.Relationships Mass Effect 3 Liara Shadowbroker romance-620x

My knees quaked. My knees quaked. I let one fall. “I was with you in 2011. I want to be with you through all of 2012. And 2013. And every year after. I want to spend every year of my life with you.” I pulled out a box containing the ring I had been hiding in our bedroom. My fingers struggled to grip the edges and pry it open. It felt like wrenching Arthur’s sword from the stone. Finally I felt it give, and the diamond revealed itself. The sparkles lit up as reflections in her eyes. “Will you marry me?”

The force with which she hugged and tackled me almost knocked the wind from my lungs. It had happened. I was engaged. It was the happiest moment of my life, lying on the floor with a beautiful woman I trusted and loved more than myself. She was warm, and I was whole.

The first time I played through Mass Effect 3, I’m sure I left this conversation alone by now. Hell, I probably didn’t even stick around long enough to hear beyond “I think I’m ready to end it with him.” There are bigger things to worry about, better ways to be spending my time. The Reapers are coming, the Reapers are coming! But now… I’m finding myself transfixed. This conversation makes me all at once mournful, infuriated, and pitying.

I eavesdrop once again. Now Wife contemplates aloud how, “I guess it doesn’t matter how I do it. I just need to tell him about us.”

Mistress responds, “Wait. Us?” I imagine a look, a mix of surprise and dread, washing over the asari. I imagine the blue draining from her face, and a sudden tightening in her stomach. I hope she’s uncomfortable. She struggles to redirect Wife into staying tactful, to just tell her husband that they’ve grown apart. To mention another woman would be “rubbing it in.”

I hope the asari has a partner. I hope they find out. I want to rub it in.Relationships Mass Effect 3 Ashley-620x

I had a fiancee now. I had to plan for the future. I had to provide for her. We talked and decided to move into a new apartment, closer to our places of work. With adventure and joy in our hearts, we set out to search for our new home. When we found it, we both immediately knew. It was a beautiful apartment, and affordable. The carpet was soft and warm. The living room breathed with open air and large windows. There is a patio off of the bedroom, with trees and a small creek just behind the building. With bittersweet goodbyes, we said farewell to our friends in town, pack our boxes, and ship off.

The day we moved in however, I received a call. My fiancee had just lost her job. I could hear her voice cracking as she told me. I panicked. What were we going to do? There was already a new subleaser at the old apartment, and we wouldn’t be able to afford this place now. I found myself getting angry. Furious. I told her once, I told her a thousand times, you need to be at work on time, or they’ll replace you, I thought. I didn’t come home from work that night. Not right away. I was too angry. There was a poison of resent pounding against the back of my brain.

When I did enter the new apartment, she said she was sorry. I told her to talk to me about it, to open up. Because I was the one who should be sorry. But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t talk to me.

Now the Mistress and Wife are arguing. Mistress insists she isn’t the reason for the breakup. It’s the war. It’s the distance. That’s what made everything clear. Wife agrees… to an extent.

“Meeting you is what made me realize how bad it had gotten,” she pointedly insists.

Mistress deflects. “I’m not the one who broke up your relationship.”

No, of course not. It was the husband’s fault before, now it’s the Wife’s. It could never be your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. I want to strangle this asari. Shepard stands awkwardly close to the two of them. It’s really not her business to mind, and yet she doesn’t leave. I won’t move the controller to let her.

Wife shoots back, “Was it someone else who pinned me to the wall with her mouth?” I find myself wondering, a bit too much, what the dynamic is between these two. Is it a sex thing? Is it purely physical? Is there something more that they don’t dare pursue? Or are they flirting with disaster, the rush and thrill of danger giving them a constant mental high? Has either one said “I love you?” Has either one secretly messaged the other while in the arms of their partner, “You know, if we were together…”

I feel like I know the answer. I look down to my hands gripping the controller and notice the small indent on my finger: a groove where something once rested, snug and tight.Relationships Mass Effect 3 Joker EDI-620x

My boss and I were good friends. We teased each other about videogames often. We talked about which ones we thought were good, and which were crap. A fierce Halo v. CoD debate was practically mandatory. I rolled my eyes and laughed every time she transformed into a giggling schoolgirl obsessed with her boyfriend, but appreciated her enthusiasm for life. I also realized that, with no job and no one to hang out with other than me, my fiancee could’ve used a friend in the area. I introduced the two, and was happy they found so much fun in one another’s company.

My fiancee soon landed another job. Hard labor, early shifts. She would come home exhausted, mentally and physically drained. I asked how her day went, and she would often reply, “Tired.” Nothing more. Just tired. I would press and ask if she wanted to talk about it. I could see there was much more than just fatigue behind her eyes. “Just tired,” she would tell me. It would occur to me that these times were a test of our mettle. That maybe this work was going to show who we were. Maybe it would be something that would make our feelings clear.

Dropping the subject, I would pick up my controller and play as she sat next to me on the couch. My gameplay days were punctuated by gunfire, the roaring of dragons, the humming of Electoons, and the clicking her thumbs made as they pressed down rapidly on the keys of her cell phone.

I contemplate not listening in this time. I don’t have to eavesdrop on the Wife and the Mistress anymore. I don’t have to. I could just run right past them. The game won’t penalize me.

“Where is this going?” Wife asks. “Because if this isn’t serious, we need to talk.”

“Sophie, we need to talk.”

The Mistress responds, a tone of resentment and submission mixing in her voice. “These are two different things. You’re important to me…”

“You’re important to me, but I don’t feel the same for you as I used to.”

The Wife is confused. Dejected. Her voice sinks. She laments how she’ll lose her partner benefits, including an apartment.

Mistress suggests that, for her own safety, Wife should figure out an exit strategy.

“I thought I had,” Wife says, her voice pinned under the pressure of loss.

I felt I knew. I suspected. I grabbed my fiancee’s phone and looked through the messages. So many from her. My boss. My eyes flipped through page after page, each message lighting a tiny fire in my heart, each one a punch to the stomach. Explicit sexts, doe-eyed longing for one another; each one ran me through like a blade, though none of these messages was so shattering as reading:

“I love you.”

I couldn’t tell if it was the revelation, the lies, or my own weakness that threw me to the floor. I collapsed, my lungs struggling to pull in air as the carpet began to swell and choke with tears. How long? When? Why? The questions came all at once, thrashing against me like bullets and hammers.

Mistress assures the Wife, “I cherish the time we’ve had together. But…”

Days passed, and as I packed my things, I asked the woman I thought I had known, “How are you and…?”

“I don’t know. She says she loves me but all she does is talk about her boyfriend. I don’t think we’ll ever really be together, as much as I would want it.”

“Yeah,” the Wife closes.

“Yeah,” I said as the door closed behind me.

People do funny things when they’re scared. Sometimes they cower, sometimes they stand. Sometimes they work themselves single-mindedly into tunnel vision, focused only on the future and not what the present needs. Sometimes they run and flee the cause of anxiety, into the safety (however temporary) of another person. Who can say which is worse?Relationships closer-620x

I love videogames, and I take them very seriously. Maybe a bit too seriously, I’m sure some of you would say. But this small, insignificant part of Mass Effect 3 produced a reaction in me unlike anything else in games ever has before. It made me think. It made me reflect on the human condition.

That’s what I want more videogames to do, because that’s what art does.

I want them to be seen as art. I want more videogames to show us and make us think about what it means to be human. I want to cry because I’m so upset by what I’ve seen. I want to smile and laugh, too. I want realistic, not-always-pretty, not-always-overwrought portrayals of life, love, and everything in between. It may seem like a pipe dream, but it’s not.

I know videogames are capable of capturing the human spirit. They can make us ask ourselves questions we may not have the answers to, but needed to ask ourselves nonetheless. They can impact us. There was friends and family ready to support me in almost any way I could hope for after my breakup, but it wasn’t until I heard a seemingly insignificant conversation in a videogame that I could truly allow myself to feel everything I needed to feel. By observing a similar situation from a distance in which I had no stakes, I was able to deal with my own thoughts and emotions in a more comprehensive way.

It was a mature vision of a relationship, and one infinitely more true than anything I’d come across before. And that truth was exactly why I needed to see it, hear it, and experience it. That truth is something videogames would do well to incorporate more in the future.

We don’t need every game to do this, of course. I’m looking forward to mindlessly carving my way through zombies in Lollipop Chainsaw, and while many of my favorite games tell great stories, they’re hardly going to make me stop and think about how I’m living my life. But sometimes… sometimes we need our medium to show that it can do that when it wants to; that it can reach those levels of maturity, and that it can make us believe in the power of art.

If nothing else, a real-life failed relationship and an asari Mistress have shown me that much.

Although I did not make the same choices this author made for “my” personal experience of the Mass Effect trilogy, I am impressed and awed by the depth of thought put into writing a post such as this. I will be writing a similar post in the future based on my own Mass Effect choices and how those choices kicked MY emotional ass. Until then…writing such an emotion-driven post will likely prove to be “problematic.”

What’s On Your List?

I covered this in a previous post some time ago, but wanted to revisit it. And that is that when you write, you should “write what you know.” Well talk about a blanket statement in randomness. What do you know? Do you know what you know? Most likely you have no idea what you know until after you start writing about it. Or try to start writing about it.

Image credit to: craighildebrandburke.com

Image credit to: craighildebrandburke.com

You may be passionate about a wide variety of different topics or subjects of interest, but your knowledge of these things are sorely tested the moment you try to write about it. Case in point… I recently wrote a post about online dating and as I wrote this post it became clearly evident to me that I really had no idea what I was talking about. My writing struggled. My brain became muddied with a multitude of irrelevant tidbits and facts that try as I might couldn’t be fit into a single post about online dating. I found myself writing and re-writing whole paragraphs because I discovered that I didn’t have enough information on the subject to write an entire article on what I was really interested in.

So back to my topic. What do I know? Well let’s see. I have knowledge of dating, sex, relationships, life events, writing, photography, alternative health, intuition, oracle card readings or the metaphysical realms, social media, special needs children, early intervention programs and parenting. But of those topics, I would be hard pressed to write anything coherent or worth reading on all of them. More than likely I would have to delve deeper by doing more research on a particular topic in order to be able to compose a well-written and well-rounded article on my chosen subject.

I find I have a lot of opinions on life and relationships and certain areas of interest to me, but that doesn’t automatically translate into having the ability or depth of knowledge to draw on to be able to write well about it. Just because you have an interest or a passion for something doesn’t always mean you can write about it.  And I think that is what is the key to writing well. You can’t just go with what you’re interested in, it has to be something you are passionate about and have clearly defined feelings and opinions on. Without passion, you will not have had enough time to form a solid opinion on you topic and as a result, this lack of passion will show up in your work. Either you will find yourself constantly struggling to find the write words, or your finished piece will not show up as your best work… others may not notice the difference right away, but you likely will and you probably won’t like it much.

I guess what’s most important here isn’t so much about “writing what you know” as it is about writing what you’re passionate about while having a strong, balanced and well-rounded opinion on your chosen subject. With all the never-ending supply of readily available online written sources, don’t you want to be one of the few who sounds most credible?

What’s on YOUR list?

Related Articles: Write What You Know: the Most Misunderstood Advice

Write What You Don’t Know

Write What You Know ~ Mark Twain quote

Valentine’s Day and Dating

I see a lot of posts on social media sites sending the Happy Valentine‘s love message to their friends, family and significant others. For most of us who aren’t currently in a relationship, we don’t like seeing these posts. We wish we had someone to buy a gift for or go out for dinner with or stay in eating by candlelight while indulging in some much-deserved romance with our significant other. Unfortunately we can’t do these things since we’re still single, possibly still dating and have not yet been lucky enough to find our

special someone.

I realize not everyone shares this viewpoint. There are many who are perfectly happy and content with being single and love the single life and have no regrets regarding the path their lives have taken. To them I say “good for you!” It is good to know that there are people out there who don’t dream of romantic getaways for two or sharing dinners or movies with their best friend/partner or sleeping late on Sundays with someone they love. But I am not one of those people.

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted a best friend to share my life with. To hold hands with, to dance with, to share a romantic dinner with to escape for a weekend getaway with. Alas, that was not to be. I married at a very young age (by today’s standards), and for all the wrong reasons and have now been divorced for 11 years. For most of those years I was perfectly content being single. Sure I didn’t like when Valentine’s Day came along and I found myself (yet again), still single and feeling envious of those who no longer had to keep looking for their “someone,” but it would pass quickly and another year would go by.

But then something changed. I filled out an online dating profile recently and I started getting attention. Male attention. And it was good and it was fun and I started imagining what it would be like to go out on Friday nights with a date. Or spend a Saturday with someone who was attracted to me. Or even just have someone of the opposite sex to talk to.

Sounds good right? Well yes and no. I have successfully shed my indifference to dating and the possibility of finding someone to share my life with. But the reality of that is not as simple as just waking up to the possibilities. I may have removed my indifference, but the actual “finding” part will take time. They say that whatever you are looking for will show up when you least expect it and I believe that to be true. The more aware I am of the fact that I am “alone” and the more attention I give it, the more likely I am to not find anyone for the simple fact that I keep focusing on what isn’t here.

So what’s a single guy or girl to do? Stop looking? Well no, that obviously won’t work either but as they say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The best thing you can do and what I am going to be doing, is to work on improving my perception of myself, creating a life that has room for someone else, keeping a flexible schedule that allows for the unexpected and making room in my thoughts and my life for someone else to fit into, all while doing things I enjoy doing that make me happy and fulfilled and desirable to others.

In essence I will become a magnet for what I am looking for. Are you a magnet?

For fun: Wiki Love                                For a bit of yum: Spoonful

For men: Ask Men                                For women: Your Tango