Wednesday, July 5, 2017

All I Can Think About

::NOTE- I WILL write about that movie y'all are prolly expecting. I want to see it one more time, first.::

It's the Fourth of July! 

This post is decidedly not about that.


Sometimes, stuff gets stuck in your head.  And I'm not just talking about songs

Maybe you just saw a really cool movie and bits of a super cool and pivotal scene keep flashing through your mind's eye. 

Maybe you went on a really good first date, and your thoughts keep drifting back to that person, to their voice, their smile, how their hand felt, interlocked with yours. (Or, alternatively, it could have been a really awful date, in which case, you're reliving the angst of it all.)

Maybe you're in the service industry, and you had to deal with the Worst Customer  Ever, and the condescending, disrespectful, and/or threatening way they spoke to you just won't get out of your ears. 

Maybe you have a big presentation to prep for, but you're at family dinner,  listening to Uncle Earl tell you about the inevitable zombiepocalypse, 'cuz guv'ment, for the umpteenth time this year. 

Maybe you're worried about the direction the country is going, and you can't shake the feeling something  terrible is going to happen, and you're coming up with a plan to move yourself and your family to Canada, where it's safer

Maybe you're damn hungry.

I had something on my mind today. Or, no, I had the curiosity of someone on my mind today.

It being the Fourth and all, there was an unspeakably small amount of traffic on the roads- I got an extra hour of sleep, even! But I noticed that some electric signs that can be changed (usually to indicate variant speeds) said the two left lanes were closed. I merged into an  appropriate lane, and eventually saw what was obviously some sort of crash site. I couldn't see any damaged cars, though, just lots of law enforcement vehicles. The scene was on a curve, a left one, at that, so as I got far enough up to see around the last car, I saw yellow tarp.

Covering something.

And when I got enough around the curve to see the tarp close enough, I saw a head. And a hand. The tarp was covering a body, a man's body.


Now, my commute isn't exactly short, even when there's a dearth of traffic. So I spent the next twenty minutes gripping the steering wheel to keep myself in control, gripping so tightly, my  hands still hurt a little now, more than twelve hours later. 

That whole car ride, so many things were spinning through my brain, things I couldn't get rid of, no matter how I tried to distract myself with music, with doing things like reading licence plates out loud to myself.*


Who was he? Where was he going? Did he have plans for today, it being a big ol' holiday and all? 

Do his loved ones know? Did they know he was going to be on the road so early on a holiday morning? When was the last time he saw them? Kids, did he have kids? A spouse? Siblings? 


What happened that made him end up sprawled on the ground like that? Where was his vehicle?

I went to work and did the best I could, but my head wasn't in the game. It kept going back to this man, this man that I saw on the ground, cold, under a tarp, a yellow tarp that, under different circumstances, would have warranted a "big banana" joke (it was yellow). Instead,thinking of it made me feel sick. It still does,  a little.

I kept forgetting things, all day. I'd trail off and forget to finish sentences. 

There were a few times when I was able to throw myself into work with helping customers (bra fittings are magnificent distractions from the macabre). But it's the Fourth of July. We weren't very busy. I was having trouble finishing any of the tasks I assigned myself to (gobacks, markdowns, etc.). I was trying so hard not to think about what I had seen, I made it nigh impossible to think about much anything else- it was either him or nothing at all. 

Then I had to get back in the car. 

The same thoughts flooded back into my mind, breaking the dam I had forced up. 

And then I got home and couldn't stop myself- I looked for information about the crash. I found this** first. 

His name was Richard A. McKelvey, and he was twenty-nine years old.

A motorcycle accident, that explains the lack of car. But I had seen his hair, what about a helmet?

Oh... 


A new image bored itself in my brain, a man  flying off  a motorcycle, heading straight for a big car, his body colliding so hard and so fast, his helmet flies off. 

I finally cried, like really cried, not just the watery eyes I had had off and on all day (yeah, that's me, I'm a cryer). 

And I couldn't help but think of the terror he must have felt. Did he know this was It? Was he able to think of his family in that last second? Did he pray? Did he curse? Was he at peace? What was the last thing he saw? Maybe his mind went to a good memory?

I have no right to presume to know anything, but my imagination won't leave well alone. Not that it's really "well," but, y'know.

Weirdly enough, I was reminded of my ex (the one I wrote about a while back). He loves motorcycles, and had one for a while during our time together. Now, as some context, he used to drag race, for money, way before we met; that should give you an idea of his driving style, and also how he rides. I saw him ride, he was indeed reckless. Sure, he wore a helmet, but still- he had nearly died in two different accidents before we met, who was to say he'd be lucky again? I would worry about him all the time, and he didn't care (that should have meant more to me then- I'm realizing literally right now that he probably somehow enjoyed making me worry, since it was a form of control). I had started hyperventilating on my way to his place once because I passed a motorcycle accident and saw the rider on the ground, surrounded by cops, but moving. That could be him. It gave me nightmares. 


So I wonder if Richard had any loved ones that worried about him the way I had worried about my ex. And my heart aches for and goes out to them, if they did. Their worst fear, come to pass. 

Maybe it's presumptuous to use his first name. 

I feel... trapped. His was the first body I saw that didn't belong to someone I knew***, and while this is a terrible "first" to have, it's still a first, nonetheless. And I don't know how long this is going to stay with me so... forcefully. 

I don't have a funny line or gif with which to end this. All I can say is, be safe, please. You never know what's going to happen.



*I talk to myself sometimes, okay?

**I submitted the correction about the side the closed lanes were on, as when I first saw the piece (and as of this writing), it said the two right lanes were closed. But really, that's such a small thing, in comparison to everything else. 

***That I remember. My mom tells me there were other opportunities to see scenes such as this, or worse, when I was little, but she shielded me from it. I love my mom so damn much. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wonder Woes, Part Deaux: FOR THE LOVE OF HERA, SEE WONDER WOMAN

In "Wonder Woes," I discussed some stress/anxiety/anger/etc. I was experiencing in light of a potential change in Diana's backstory. It turned out to be a rumor, but I'm calling this post a sequel because my source of frustration here is still what's going on with Warner Brothers and one of the myriad things they've chosen to do (or not do) that just will not help me relax about Wonder Woman. Seriously, pretty much the whole time I've been watching this whole thing unfold, I've felt frustrated and helpless.


Yup
My latest stress is that with the premier date less than a month away, I'm kind of out of sorts over the dearth of (good/smart) marketing promoting it. And I'm not the only one noticing it. All sorts of other fancy, more-read people have noticed it, too. Not only that, but one of the few advertisement partnerships WB has made is with gorram diet bars. (Yes, there have been a few other partnerships, but the main one available now is food "for women" and associated with weight loss/dieting/etc. Just totally not cool.) And while a lot of the other articles are pitched as a "fans are wondering  why" piece, I know why- or at least, I have a theory. It has to do with what I was talking about here, and more.  They may be making the movie, but they don't expect it to do well. So they're cutting their losses and saving every penny they can, since they don't think the movie will make much more than its $100M budget (an historical thing in and of itself, if you didn't know). 

And of course that  upsets me. I've blogged before about how it seems the Dudes in Suits are so paranoid about having a comic movie star a woman, they gender/character-swapped the Days of Future Past storyline for the movie.* I have zero faith in movie executives at this point. And it's not up to directors what kind of promotional materials get made/distributed/etc. for their movies- so Patty Jenkins, our director here, is entirely powerless, now that her movie is (presumably) finished. There's nothing she can do as WB's PR department completely drops the ball. I can only  imagine how upset she was when she saw the "Thinkthin" shit. 



What makes this troublesome for me is this "we don't think it's going to do well so we're not going to waste money promoting it" has the potential to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if the movie does, in fact, do poorly it's first weekend or two, low turnout will be used as the excuse to put a cease and desist order on any and all female-starring superhero movies ad infinitum. Not a damn thing about the lack of effort from the PR department will be said, just the poor box office numbers. Alongside Catwoman and Elektra, Wonder Woman will be touted as an example of how "women just can't star in superhero movies." It's being set up to fail, and that failure will in turn lead to zero faith on the part of the Dudes in Suits. 

And yes, I do think this means Captain Marvel will very likely be affected, too. I don't care if it's a different studio- these Dudes in Suits take notice of what each other are doing, how they're doing it, how it does or does not pay off, etc. Marvel Studios would totally reconsider a Captain Marvel movie if a gorram Wonder Woman movie tanks. 

(I was going  to have this point be a side or footnote, but I think it's important and relevant enough it needs to stick in the main body.) When having this conversation in person, and when I bring up the Captain Marvel/Marvel Studios point, the only time anyone resists/challenges me there is when I'm talking to a man. Any women I've discussed it with has agreed emphatically, while any man I've spoken with about it has always argued, or at least tried to make it sound like I'm jumping to conclusions or something about it. The fact that Marvel Studios is separate from WB, or that they already have people cast and a director and stuff for Captain Marvel are among the main things I hear these dudes say (and I should note, I've reached over half a dozen at this point, who have all done this to me). 



What I want to know is why they think any of that matters, here? Movies complete with directors, actors, scripts, etc. get cancelled all the gorram time. So what's so special about Marvel Studios?  To say a thing I've said a million times, Marvel isn't actually all that great with female representation onscreen. Women end up being sidekicks, mysteries, tools, obstacles, and damsels in distress for the men in the stories to interact with somehow. And now that the Avengers team is even bigger, more than doubled, after Civil War, I want you to look more closely at the cast of Infinity War Part I. There are six women listed as for sure (one as rumored). Six. And that list doesn't include extras or anything yet. Six, out of 30 (or 29, if you count the two rumored listings). That's only 1/5 of the entire named cast. Or watch this "first look" featurette:



Notice how it's all white dudes talking, and any character-driven plot they talk about has to do with men specifically or general groups (the Avengers themselves, the Guardians of the Galaxy), groups in which women are a minority. I think that just sort of sets the tone for what to expect from the movies- as with all other Marvel movies,  these women will be side characters, and the main players will be Iron Man, Captain America, Star Lord, and Thanos. Also, as I've said before, if Marvel Studios is still unwilling to make a movie for a guaranteed-money-maker like Black Widow, one they know all of the nerdboys drool and jerk off to, now that she's been onscreen in five of their movies (soon to be six/seven, with Infinity War), why the fuck would they hesitate to ditch an idea for a character that's mostly unknown to the uninitiated? (Seriously, I don't know a single person that doesn't read comics but knows who she is (compared to Wonder Woman, which is like "duh"), and when I inform them she's a she, they're usually super surprised. Which says a lot, I think.) I don't think they'd cut her from Infinity War, no, but would they give her her own movie? Probably not.

And to state the obvious point, this would have absolutely nothing to do with the character of Captain Marvel herself, or any projections based on her- it would be simply because the Dudes in Suits would see that a- THE- Wonder Woman movie bombed, ticket-wise (which is all they care about- even if it gets a 100% on Rotton Tomatoes or like a 95% on Metacritic, the decision-makers wouldn't care), and would change their minds. 

And then the Batgirl movie with JOSS WHDON at the helm that hasn't been openly denied by anybody will get canceled, too, which would make it the second Whedon-helmed, female-led DC movie that didn't get made.  

And I just... While the dudebros and neckbeards may think, well...



I don't really care. I need Wonder Woman to succeed. All women and girls do, as far as I'm concerned. William Moulton Marston, the man who created her character, knew how important it is for girls to see characters "like them" in the media- that was a huge reason he created Wonder Woman in the first place. Back then. In the 1940s. A man knew representation is important for the self esteem and well-being of little girls.

So why is that so gorram hard for Dudes in Suits nowadays?

I need this movie to be good on a deeply personal level, don't get me wrong. It would invariably send me down a bad spell if I leave the theater disappointed. But that's a somewhat different discussion. Like I said before, the execs won't really care if it's "good" or not, they're only going to notice how much money it makes. Shit, I'll buy tickets on Fandango that I won't use, if I have to.

And there's a valid comparison between the standards this movie's performance has to surpass vs. those of male-led movies and what women have to deal with in professional settings, too. While neither Thor solo flick barely beat $60m opening weekend, and the first Captain America did about the same (compared to both Avengers, which nearly doubled that, and the later Iron Man movies, which all did much better, too), the Norse God is still getting a third movie, and Cap already had one. Even Ant Man, which at $57M made less than every other Marvel Studios movie (except the second attempt at a Hulk flick) has a sequel in the works.** Wonder Woman is projected at making a bit over $80m opening weekend, and yet a number that high is actually being treated as if it's low


Which makes me  sick. But, y'know,




It's the same double-standard women in the workplace deal with- they have to do twice as well, be twice as nice, and still may get passed up for promotions, or the credit will go to the dude that did half as much, etc. Films led by men can have comparably sub-par performance and still have subsequent movies in their franchises, yet there's speculation the franchise starring a woman that may perform better may thus be doomed? Come ON, now.

So we all need this movie to make lots of cash. Thus, I implore you, please,

GO SEE WONDER WOMAN OPENING WEEKEND AND THE NEXT WEEKEND IF YOU CAN, TOO

I say the second weekend because the drop between opening and second weekend matters, too. 

But, anyway.

Tell your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, frenemies, enemies, customers, coworkers, bosses, students, teachers... Tell every person you interact with every day. Tell them to see it. Even if you don't think it's going to be good (which is a whole different rant, but suffice to say I get really fucking tired of men saying they think it's going to suck and are apprehensive about seeing it, but they are more than willing to see any and every Thor movie in theaters, even admitting to seeing previous ones more than once despite knowing they were awful), give them a (breifer) explanation like mine as to why: If this does badly, we can expect to have to wait  another ten-plus years for another superhero film to headline a woman. 

There is one more fear, related to this double-standard: That if the movie does well but is kinda crappy, they won't make it its own franchise. We're past the point where that matters, though- all we can do is vote with our wallets and show the Dudes in Suits we want more by getting our butts  in the seats. I truly think that, at the end of the day, these Dudes in Suits aren't being consciously, maliciously sexist. I think the film industry is just so bloody entrenched with misogyny that they can't help but follow those tracks and keep things as is. But, this is capitalism. And at the end of the day, money is the most important thing.

So I also am desperate to believe the opposite of these fears: That if Wonder Woman does well, it will pave the way for other female-starring superhero flicks. So that Batgirl movie will really end up being a Thing. Black Widow will indeed get her own movie. Other franchises will come out of the woodwork, ones we've already thought of, and ones we haven't. Hell, just run a Google search for "female superheroes that need movies" and you'll get a never-ending list of articles, some with lots of overlap, some that are completely original. But the point is, people care. They want to see women onscreen. WE want to see women onscreen. And if Wonder Woman does well, I think it's possible. The patriarchal trends in the film industry could be at least a little changed, and someday, entirely smashed.


This really is an issue about the fate of feminism in this country. Wonder Woman  has, since her inception, served as a symbol for feminist ideals. That's literally what she was created for in the first place. This character is been around for a lot of shit, and has made it through a lot of shit that the dudes in charge of her stories have decided for her. I don't just think  it's superhero movies at stake. Even though The Hunger Games was successful, it, and the handful of other movies starring women that also did well, aren't treated as the norm. If Wonder Woman does well, maybe it will help that radical notion that women are people, and that the movies starring them can be money-makers, will be more accepted. And then 

BAM! Feminism FTW!!!



So please, get out there. Spread the news, make sure everyone you know goes to see Wonder Woman. And keep fighting the good fight.




*In that post, I said I was sick of Wolverine. While he did have a small part in Apocalypse, his swan song, Logan, was a masterpiece, and I am very pleased with how they said goodbye to the character. Of course, as the new series moves forth, they'll probably find a new Wolverine, but, hey, maybe the break will be longer than the breaks we've had between Spider-Man iterations. 

**Source


Thursday, January 5, 2017

On Bravery

If you haven't read it yet, at least skim my last post, otherwise a lot of this will make  zero sense to you. 

I want to address something important. While I keep hearing that I'm "brave" and "strong" for leaving my ex, I want to speak as a victim about what all of this bravery is, and where it started.

I started out brave. Like I said last time, I knew abuse at an early age. And I came out on top, stayed a good person, even make efforts every day to be that way. Even when it's hard, I try to do the right thing, do right by others, and help decrease Worldsuck, as some* would say. And despite seeing some of the worst of people, even having that aimed at me directly, I continue, to this day, to usually by default expect and see the best from them. 

So I was brave for trying. I've been hurt every time I attempted at even a chance at love before. When I first met  the person I discussed in my last post, I had no intention of letting him in. I had big, thick walls up, with trebuchets and a moat with a big goddamn dragon. I've talked about this before. Obviously, that post was before I met him.

I took a leap of faith, like what I talked about there, when I let him in. I was scared as Hell, but I did it. Because I was brave enough to try again. And you know what? It felt good, at least for a while. I'm reminded of a line from The Nightmare Before Christmas, "Well what the heck, I went and did my best, and my God I really tasted something swell. And for a moment, why I even touched the sky..." There were moments where I was flying, where I thought I'd die I was filled with such joy. I did feel safe, and loved, and beautiful. And I was happy. With myself for having taken a chance, with my situation, with him. And as I said in that last post, at least I was actually loved- I never doubted he loved me, which just made the bad parts hurt more. But I kept on, and hid it from the world, because of that love.



So I was brave in staying. It isn't just that I kept telling myself it (i.e. the abuse**) would never happen to me. I also cared for him, even in the middle of his worst outbursts. That Joan of Ark aspect of me... I know a part of me  wanted to help and save him. He didn't want to be saved, of course, but that didn't matter to me, not until I found my line again. I kept loving him, even though it was often hard. I hoped and prayed that maybe  my love for him would be enough, that he would see the damage he was doing to himself and us and me, and that he would then turn a new leaf, and we'd be happy more, I wouldn't be walking on eggshells.

But my love wasn't enough. I was a saint, but it wasn't enough. I comforted and forgave, but it wasn't enough. Belle was brave when she tamed the Beast; I was brave in trying, in holding him when he fell, in picking him up when he had finished crashing. I was brave for wiping his tears before my own. 


I was brave to start getting my own help. Therapy and mental health issues (not to mention medications for "head stuff") are so stigmatized, it's easy to feel like you're less of a person for going in and seeing a professional. I had known I needed help for a long time. I kept making excuses, but I eventually ran out of them when I was promoted to full time and thus had corporate benefits (as opposed to state). So I started going. And it was (and still is- my counselor is amazing) hard. It was brave for me to open up in that office. About the things that have been haunting me for years, say nothing of the relationship of focus, here. And as I said before, I was hoping I would eventually feel ready to get back in touch with my dad. I think a part of me also hoped that if my ex saw how much I was improving because I had and maintained a self-care plan that was working, he would want that  for himself, too. Naive, I know. 

And no, I wasn't stupid. I just hoped, because I believed in him. I wanted to, I needed to, otherwise what was the point of letting down those walls in the first place? I didn't want that risk I had taken to be for nothing.

I was brave to be as honest as I was with  the friend I talked about in the last post. I kept as much as I could hidden for a long time, but I know most, if not all, of my friends knew things weren't good with my partner and I. I was afraid to tell my friend what was going on, but I did it, trembling and crying. That's bravery. It's strength.

I was brave in telling the ex not to come home. In all of the time we had been together, during all of his tantrums, I had stood up to him maybe half a dozen times before, most of them being on behalf of my dog (because, as said, he would get unnecessarily and unwarentedly*** mean with her when he was grumpy). But I did it, I found my line, set it, and told him exactly what it was. It wasn't a request, I didn't downplay it (with something like, "I know this is going to be  hard/ I'm sorry but..." etc.). And it was so hard to do. My hands were trembling as I sent the text. And my chosen method being text may seem cowardly, but that I did it at all was huge. IS huge. And I knew that if I heard his voice, I would be weak and give in, lose that line, so I texted him. So sue me. That I told him an any way at all I didn't want to see him again that day was a HUGE act of bravery, yes. That's the main one everyone thinks about. But there's more.


I was brave somewhere in the middle there, when he was at the house the second night to get more stuff. At that point, I was still thinking it would be a break. And I was brave in two big ways then. First, when he was saying goodbye to my dog. It was like my heart was breaking again, as if it was possible, watching him kneel there as she gingerly licked his chin. She knew something was wrong, and the way his voice cracked... She's my kid, and he was her Daddy. It was as if I was getting a divorce, and my child was saying goodbye. Involuntarily, I jerked a little bit toward them. In a flash, I saw myself throwing my arms around both and having that be the end of the episode. But I didn't. I grabbed the counter, squeezed it so tight that my hands and forearms were sore the next day, and I didn't move. That was brave.

And then, as he hugged me goodbye, he said, "I've fucked up big time," I said, "Yep, you did. Now fix  it." I was brave for saying that. SO fucking brave. The older me would have taken some of the blame off of him, "No, honey, it's my fault, too, it's not just you." But it WAS all just him. And I knew he wanted that, wanted me to absolve him, at least partially, right there, because that's what I always did. But the difference this time was I saw it for what it was: manipulation. And I was brave for standing my ground in the face of it. 
It was hard, it hurt like Hell, but he left. No matter how badly I wanted to say it was okay, I didn't, and that's bravery. 

I was brave in finally saying the word "abuse" out loud. I didn't even mean to say it, it just came out, flowed naturally with where I was going when I was on the phone with him. And it clicked. It made sense. It gave me the momentum to be firmer. I was brave in standing by that, too, because of course, while he didn't say much to it then (it was the first day that happeend), he had all sorts of nasty comebacks  later about how I was overdramatizing it, how that wasn't what he was doing, he says  and does those things in anger, that's not abuse. But it is, it was, so I didn't back down, and that was brave. He was yelling at me while I was on the phone with him in my counselor's office (I really wouldn't have survived this without her, too), and I was brave for not letting him gaslight me, change the topic, change the goal posts during that conversation shouting match. 


And I've been brave for not asking his mom (whom I've needed to have some contact with for logistical reasons) or brother (still good friends with him and his girlfriend) where he is, if he's okay. Do I worry for and about him still? Absolutely. But I can't let myself go down that path. And the braver, stronger part of me is protecting the other side of me while she heals. 

But I want to clarify something, too.

I didn't stay out of weakness. I don't think anyone has even remotely implied that, except possibly me, maybe, here and in person. Because while in the middle of being emotionally and psychologically beaten down by my significant other, I became a better version of myself. I improved, against those odds. I do owe a lot of that to getting professional help, but as she told me, she's only helping me tap the resources I already have within me. So little did he know, even as he was wearing me down, I was building up. If that isn't strength, I don't know what is.


Also, it wasn't weakness, the falling for him, falling into his net. Like I said, it was brave to try. L
etting someone in, even if that person does end up hurting you (like all the rest, in my case) is brave.

Bravery can mean trying to save something because you thought it was worth it. And yes, it's admitting that thing isn't worth it anymore, giving it its proper name, and letting it go.

Love always comes with a risk. I took it. It got me down, but...



I'm getting better each day, like I said, but I'm not  brave enough to try again yet. I will, sooner or later. I still want a family of my own. I mean, my dog is great and all, but I want a husband and kids and the whole nine yards. Call me a traditionalist, but, well, there it is. 

And it's already brave for me to think about that future. I know I'm not ready to try for it again, no, but even being able to consider it again, in the face of what just happened to me, is brave. And someday, I still want to believe, that bravery will pay off, and I'll get what I want. I know I'm worth it, I know I deserve it, and for fuck's sake, I HAVE EARNED THE SHIT OUT OF A GOOD LIFE. Amirite?

You, right now.

So it'll happen. I'm still swimming through all of the emotions. But I'll take that brave step and open those gates again. 




*Nerdfighters, aw yeah!

**And again, let me say, I was never deliberately physically harmed. Sometimes intimidated, but he never hit me, pulled my hair, nothing like that.

***Totally just made that word up, yo.