Month: August 2017

Give Me the Meltdown

I didn’t have anything to say here and was kind of panicking about that. And then Warner Bros. did me a favor and gave me a topic to rant about. Congratulations to anyone who’s tired of hearing about my family health nightmares and my deep depression. You get an expletive filled rant about fictional characters. Enjoy!

The thing about the Joker, forever and ever, is that he has no origin. The other thing about the Joker is that he isn’t in love with Harley Quinn. Warner Bros. has gone and forgotten both those things. Yesterday news broke that the studio has not only greenlit one Joker backstory, but two Joker backstories. One, get this, are you ready for it? An 80s noir look at the Joker before he became, the Joker. You read that right. Before anyone even had a chance to say WTF they greenlit a second film. This time about the Joker’s relationship with Harley Quinn. Directed by the guys that brought us Crazy, Stupid, Love. Crazy stupid is right. I said it after Suicide Squad and I will say it again. The Joker and Harley Quinn are not a couple of crazy kids in love. Harley might be but she’s so far on the crazy side I doubt it. And the Joker loves nothing more than being an annoyance to Batman. In fact that’s the purpose of both characters. To be a thorn in Batman’s side. The Joker has no reason for it. It’s just fun for him. Harley does it because she’s following the Joker’s lead. And let’s face it, lately the Batman has been hella annoying so he deserves it.

So about the Joker origin. I think Mark Hamill put it best when he said that the character’s backstory is sort of a multiple choice. There is no set in stone story of his beginnings and I like it that way. I like the idea of someone being a dick to a superhero just because he thinks it’s fun. He has no real ties to Batman other than being a menace to Gotham. In the 1989 version of Batman Tim Burton tried to infer that the Joker had killed Bruce’s parents. It was a passing line – the one we all remember, if we know the films in any way – “ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” In Bruce’s memory of the night of his parent’s murder the man who mugs them says it, and later in the film Jack Nicholson delivers the line in his Jack way. Thus bringing the battle between hero and villain to a head and giving Batman more reason to put on the suit and fight for his city. But the definitive Batman / Joker story (on film) has to be the one in The Dark Knight in Heath Ledger’s performance of a man who’s sole purpose is to fuck up Batman’s life forever, because he can.

Now, to be fair, there is a comic book on the origins of the Joker which has also been turned into an animated movie. Written by Alan Moore, The Killing Joke is told as part alternative to the Red Hood Gang origin and part “here’s why the Batman and the Joker fight.” We see a man down on his luck, desperate to feed his pregnant wife, who loses his job at the Acme Chemical Plant. The Red Hood Gang then enlists him to help with a heist of said plant, where they trick him into wearing the Red Hood (a long red helmet) thus implicating him as the leader of the gang. In being pursued by Batman in the depths of the plant, the Joker falls into a vat of acid and we get mad man Joker and, a reason for him to have hatred for the Bat.

And maybe I’d be okay with that as a live action film and it might even be possible to do this story as 80s noir, with down on their luck people and gangster crews. But they’ve already stated this will have nothing to do with Batman. So that’s out.

And that brings us to Harley Quinn and the Joker. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created her solely for the Batman Animated Series in the mid nineties to be a sort of foil / annoy the piss out of the Joker. They meet in Arkham Asylum where she falls for his games and he turns her into a madwoman. He uses her, abuses her and tosses her aside when he’s free and clear of the nut house (with her help). But Harley persists and is determined to make an impression. So in one full episode dedicated to Harley and the Joker (Mad Love), the creators of the character and their relationship make one thing clear – the Joker could care less about Harley Quinn. When she captures Batman and nearly kills him, to impress the Joker, he’s pissed off about it. He’s not impressed or doting or even the least bit interested. He’s angry. She took away his fun. Clever as the plot she devises is, he’s upset she got to the Batman first. And yet, when it came time to portray their story in film, whoever let Jared Leto get a hold of the Joker did a terrible job at giving him the right tools. I like Jared, a lot. I think he’s a great actor. But not for this role. And maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe it’s Zack Snyder. Who knows. Either way Suicide Squad fucked up their story beyond words and I’m still mad about it.

I try hard not to rail on films before they are released. I have rants right here on my blog about being kind to the people in charge and letting them show us first before getting angry and calling names. And I have no names to call anyone. I just wanted to say don’t. Don’t mess with the Joker or Harley Quinn any more than you have. I understand what you’re doing. Copying Marvel didn’t work so you’re going in a whole different direction. By all means, do your thing. But stop trying to shoehorn stories that aren’t there into stories that are.

“Why do you keep saying the name Martha?!”

Yourself or Someone Like You

banksygirl.jpg

Life has been insane for so long I’ve not had time to just sit back and think. Which means all my emotions have been living in the depths of my soul waiting on their moment to shine. I’ve lived with anxiety and depression my whole life. They each manifest in different ways. The anxiety used to show its ugly face when I was driving. If traffic was bad or I was stuck on an onramp or in a tunnel I’d go into a state of panic that scared everyone who had the misfortune of being in the car with me. I don’t have that issue as much now. Probably because I tend to just stay home these days. Depression has always shown itself as general “meh” feeling about things I am normally excited about. For the past year or maybe more I’ve been in what I call management mode. Essentially I’ve been managing each bit of news (worldwide and personal) with a calm “OK here we go then” attitude.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just stop there and be like, “yeah that’s all I wanted to say in this blog thanks for reading bye.”

Things are starting to level out on a personal level despite the tornado of bullshit we’re dealing with as a nation. And that means all the thoughts and feelings are clawing their way to the surface. For the first time since I was a moody teenager I had a full day of severe depression. Where every song felt personal and everything I read, saw or heard was tear inducing. Anyone who knows me well understands what a wild event that is. I am not sure any of my friends have seen me cry. Okay maybe once during “Inside Out” and once when I made the mistake of giving my heart to someone who didn’t deserve it, but otherwise I am stoic and dry eyed. I don’t have a problem crying about animated characters but I’m still angry about the other thing.

Anxiety has been showing itself in the form of writer’s block. I usually have it, off and on, throughout any given month. This has been longer than ever. Obviously I’ve made a breakthrough over the past couple of weeks but now the words are coming with a new wrinkle. Panic.

Last week when I posted my blog entry it came with a deep sense of fear. Yes, it was a deeply personal entry and yes I wrote words I hadn’t really said to anyone, including myself, but the idea of sharing the entry on social media made my heart beat fast and my breath erratic and I’ve never had that before. Aside from the nature of the blog there was something else poking at my subconscious. Who’s going to care enough to read anything you write?

I’m a creative person. No matter what my logical brain says. Because of this I tend to feel the need to share things. In a blog, on social media, somewhere, and always in writing. With that comes the need to be seen, or at least have the words I’ve written read. The catch-22 in that is the Internet broke me a long time ago. So I’ve done a lot of things like write out replies and comments to people who’s opinions I both agree with, and don’t, and then I erase them because I know no matter the intention the interpretation is up for grabs and nine times out of ten that goes horribly wrong.

What does all this mean and why am I waxing on about it? I get the irony of it all. I need interaction to have my words seen, but I won’t interact because my words get taken out of context and I’m done fighting for my life on the Internet. So the one thing that used to give me solace from the anxiety and depression is the thing giving me anxiety and depression. Most people write to get the story on the page and some people never intend on sharing it with anyone. I write to share. And if I don’t have anyone to share with, I don’t have a reason to write. At least that’s why my brain says.

What I’m trying to do right now is write a blog a week in preparation for my annual November writing challenge (NaNoWriMo) and get used to the idea that I’m writing stuff that may never get read. To anyone who does read these, I thank you.

Mad Season

It’s been nearly a year since I wrote a post here. In fact it’s probably been about that long since I wrote words in consecutive order that were anything other than hello, how are you, I’m fine. The last two words are a lie but it’s easier to say them than to explain all the shit that’s being going on these days. Which is why I’m here on my diary/blog whatever this thing is now. Grab a snack and a drink, possibly some coffee, make sure everything has a lid on it though, this could be a bumpy ride.

How do you guys like to get your news? Good first then bad, or vice versa? I think I’m more of a bad news first kind of person, but then I tend to stop listening and forget to hear the good part ‘cause I’m working out in my head how I can fix the bad stuff. That’s me — fixer, problem solver, bringer of logic. Which makes for some rough seas when the things that are bad can’t be fixed, solved or have any semblance of logic at the surface level. What happens when I get to that point? I drill down into the situation and find the simplest place to bring logic in and stay there. It’s how I survive as a disabled person navigating a world not meant for me.

What these next few things have in common is this: they suck and there’s nothing I can do about them. But they do have small pieces I can hold on to, too.

231084e023af58bba66c67716f16bed6--dumbo-baby-shower-elephant-baby-showers.jpg

Tangent time. My grandmother is a fan of elephants. We’ve been giving her elephant statues and fabrics and calendars and whatever else we can find as far back as I can remember. I don’t know for sure if she’s really been into elephants her whole life, all I know is one day grandma said she liked elephants and we ran with that with every gift we ever gave her. There’s one thing we all know about elephants. Well okay aside from that they’re big grey animals with big trunks and that one we know who could fly ‘cause he had big ears. Elephants never forget. An ironic statement considering one of their biggest fans (allegedly) has one of those diseases where they go forgetting things. Grandma has dementia.

It started with a stroke and progressively got worse. It wasn’t one of those strokes where the person suffers such trauma they can no longer function without someone else’s help. For anyone who has or knows anyone who has suffered such a severe event, my heart hurts for you. Grandma’s was a smaller, mini-stroke. One day she walked out of her house and up the street to her weekly hair appointment as usual. Except this was not a usual day. She left her purse, her keys and a small part of her mind, at home. For anyone reading this that knows my grandmother you may know that she is never without her purse. She never does things like leave her keys somewhere she won’t find them again. Everything has a place and she knows exactly where that place is. Thankfully her hairdresser knew something was off and called my aunt to let her know things were amiss. So much so he did not let her leave his salon alone. He walked her to her condo and stayed with her until my uncle showed up.

There were MRIs and consultations and medications and the verdict was she had recovered from the mini-stroke with little damage and would carry on fine. Except she didn’t. She slowly continued to lose that OCD, remember everything, always on top of things brain she kindly passed down to her oldest granddaughter (me). We moved her out of her condo and into a retirement home shortly after her 87th birthday (this past February). She fought it the whole way, eventually settling in, and as soon as she was ready to be comfortable with her new situation, we moved her again.

The thing is, we thought the progression would be slow. It wasn’t. She was wandering the halls and losing her way and there’s a big difference between retirement living and assisted living and it turns out she needed the latter. In April we moved her into a full care facility. Although she’s fighting it every day (her memory loss and her living situation) she’s doing as well as one can in her situation.

For anyone out there in the world that would be enough to drive you crazy with worry, and frustration at not being able to do a damn thing about the progression of a disease there is no cure for, and while I would have been upset at myself for even thinking of curling up into a ball and screaming at the world, the universe wasn’t done throwing punches at my family yet, so I had no time for that.

Tangent two. I have a strange relationship with God and religion and all that goes with the ideas behind them both. I enjoy writing about the concept of heaven and hell and good and evil but I don’t believe there is one all powerful magician pulling the strings of anything we’ve ever done or will ever do. As much of a science fiction and fantasy fan as I am, I refuse to put my life in the hands of a fictional being. Oddly enough, for anyone who knows me well, I have faith in people. Doctors and scientists and people who know things I don’t, tangibles, if you will. That all being said, I do believe in karma. And right now I believe something my family did somewhere along the line disturbed the peace of some karmic force and we’re all living with the consequences.

Diseases. Incurable ones, curable ones, un-identifiable ones. Someone in our family has one of them. My uncle has both a form of blood cancer and a heart condition. My aunt, his wife and my mother’s older sister, had breast cancer in her mid-thirties. At the same age as her mother was, my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a double mastectomy and chemotherapy while pregnant with her second son. Her daughter has a similar disease to mine. My doctors tell me they are not the same thing, but the similarities in our conditions are eery except hers has a name.

Because of the family history my mother and her younger sister were tested for the BRCA gene, my aunt tested positive, my mother tested negative, which meant I didn’t need to go in for testing. Cheryl immediately had a double mastectomy to ensure the gene would not manifest itself into cancer. We all get screened (mammograms) regularly as a result of all this.

So it was surprising and yet, not, that in January my mother discovered a mass on her left breast that concerned her. She went in for a mammogram though her previous one not long before had not shown anything, and they found nothing out of the ordinary. Because of our family history she insisted on an ultrasound, which indeed found the mass she had been feeling. The immediate gut reaction is try not to panic. Could be anything, lots of women have lumps and masses that turn out to be fat build up. But we have a history and as the saying goes, it does tend to repeat itself.

The women in our family are strong and resilient and we fight like hell no matter what it is we face. From the smallest annoyance to the biggest blow. We all handle our fight in different ways. My mother is an outward fighter. She yells, and screams, a lot, no matter the size of the issue she’s facing. This was no different. In March she had a double mastectomy and despite it being a difficult procedure that should have had her in the hospital for at least 2 days she was home the next day.  Because that’s where she wanted to be. She insisted they release her, so they did.

We hoped that was the end of it. The mass was small and it didn’t affect much of her lymph nodes. But that was not to be, and it was recommended she go to at least 4 but probably 6 rounds of chemotherapy, one every three weeks. And because, as I mentioned already, we’re fighters, mom’s system kicked ass and the chemo won (by killing the things it was supposed to), but didn’t (by not killing everything else). Did she lose her hair? Yes. Was she tired? Often. But she continued to work and take care of her mother through all of it, because of course, this was all going on while her mother’s mind was slowly deteriorating.

By this time next week mom will have completed the final step in the process and the rest will be about maintenance.

harley1year.jpg

There’s good news in all of this, the most important of which is that everyone is alive and on the way to healing, or at least in a good place where they’re been well cared for. On a surface level, Harley is a year old now and he’s the funniest, sweetest, best dog in the world. He’s helped mom keep her spirits when things went off the rails and given me a reason to not be sad or feel bad for not being able to run all over town taking mom to and from appointments — I always had someone or something to take care of. He loves to play and will bring toys to one of us at all hours. Just when you think you’ve tired him out he brings another toy and looks at you with disappointment if you don’t throw it for him to catch again and again and again.

I’ve been working out with a trainer twice a week, and working on my health in general by cooking my own meals, and in the past year I have gone down 3 clothing sizes and gained enough muscle to turn living as a wheelchair user from a daily chore to a minor annoyance. The new wheelchair and the new SUV have been helpful in this too, one motivating me to get stronger — the SUV and getting in and out of it — and the chair — because I’m the only one who pushes me around now.

I inherited many of my mother and her mother’s traits. I can be fiery and scream-y like my mother and I’m OCD, organized and neurotic like my grandmother. But along with those traits I have one thing nobody would believe I had in me. Calmness in the chaos. Not because I believe nothing else can go wrong, but because I believe it can, and will. And I believe we’ll get through it just like we do everything else. Fighting back against every obstacle placed in front of us along the way.