27 October 2010

Thoughts on fat-shaming and mental health

[TW for discussion about mental health, mention of abuse]

Today on
Shakesville, Liss posted two discussion threads about fat hatred, one for sharing stories about you fat-shaming someone and one for stories about people fat-shaming you.

And I'm sure I have many stories about both, but what's coming to mind is my grandmother talking to me about my mother.

Specifically, sharing with me, whenever my mother had lost a bunch of weight, that she was happy.

Thing is, aside from the part where she shouldn't be policing her daughter's weight, what she doesn't understand is that (almost always) my mother losing a great deal of weight is a sign of a manic period of her bipolar disorder. This "good thing", this "reason to celebrate" is in fact evidence that my mother's mental health is not the greatest, a fact which my grandmother refuses to recognize, just as she refuses to recognize that my mother has been abusive.

And I don't feel like I can share this with the Shakesville community at large, for one because it's not about me, it's about my mom, but mostly because it's hard to concisely articulate all the issues surrounding the story.

In trying to be an ally against ableism*, I feel it's part of my duty** to respect people's choices regarding their mental health. Seeking treatment, taking meds, all of that is the decision of each person, and it's not up to me to police their decisions.

That said, I am the daughter of someone who had undiagnosed bipolar disorder for more than a decade, and who, after diagnosis, has not adhered to the treatment plan set out for her by her doctors. I firmly believe that my mother having bipolar disorder is not an excuse for her totally crap parenting of me and my siblings.

I don't know whether or not her abusive and neglectful behaviours were caused (entirely) by the disorder. I don't know if it's possible to know that. I do know that when you have children, it's your responsibility to care for them. Perhaps especially when you go out of your way to have children, through adoption.

As her daughter, I can't help but wonder if she had gotten diagnosed right away and followed the treatment plan if my life wouldn't have been so fucked up, if my sister's life wouldn't have been so fucked up, if my brothers would grow up to be better men than I fear they're going to grow up to be.

But I feel that I can't talk about this in a space that has been designated as an ableism-free space. So I don't really know what to say.

* An ally at this point, because I'm still on the fence about deciding if I identify as a disabled person or not.
** Duty in a good sense -- not something others put on me, but things I have decided that I want to do.

25 October 2010

Blog note

Due to personal complications, I have decided to scrap the whole Tuesday and Saturday LPFNV thing.

Posts will hence be made when I fucking feel like it.

23 October 2010

Inept Knavery and Erstwhile Bravery: Pilar's story, part one (Let's Play Fallout New Vegas)

[Note on images: Click through for accessible captions]

I've been shot, you say? In the head, no less. And yet, in this land of little infrastructure and littler unmucked-up technology and supplies, you've managed to save me. This is truly remarkable. I suppose I should be grateful, but really, I'm too busy having a headache.

Jesus, dude, do you ever shut up? Just got saved from having my brains blown out, I don't think I can really answer questions right now.


My name? Um ... um, um, um. Seems like I should know this. Courier? No, that's not it. Pilar? Sounds familiar. I think that's it.


What do I look like? Seems to me it'd be easier for you to judge that than me, but I guess I'll give it a go. Might make a few changes -- all within the boundaries of artistic license, of course.

Hm. Can't seem to get rid of that ridiculous raccoon tanline. I'll just have to wear glasses all the time, I guess. Or get some sort of wicked facial tattoo. Something.

Although, come to think of it, that's probably how I got into the immortal tanline situation in the first place.

Okay, Doc, can I rest now?

What? No, I don't really feel like walking right now. Bugger. Of course, if you're going to let me play that nifty arcade game you've got over there, I really can't refuse. It's only polite.

Blast! Rather than an entertaining piece of fun, this seems to be another part of your scheme to wrest personal information from me.

Okay. Strength. I don't feel particularly strong. I think I'm more the wiry type. Let's pick 'lightweight'.

Perception. I seem to be the most perceptive person in the room, not that it's much of a contest. You're the one who's asking the chick with the concussion from hell to take a goddamned history of the life, universe and everything exam. 'Big-eyed tiger', let's go with that.

Endurance. I've got to be somewhat enduring to have made it through the shot-in-the-head incident. But I don't feel like the Terminator, either. Let's go with 'hardy'.

Charisma. Right now, I'm feeling about as charismatic as a two-hundred-year-old can of Spam, but I'm sure that's just a side effect of near death. I'm going to choose 'substitute teacher'.

Intelligence. Blah blah blah. Just going to wing this one and pick 'gifted'. I have absolutely no idea why, but I definitely feel more gifted than knowledgeable at this point.

Agility. Mmmm. 'Knife-thrower' has kind of a catchy ring to it.

Luck. You kidding me? How fucking lucky can I be? I got shot in the head, for Christsakes. I did live, though, I guess. Maybe it's a toss-up. Better go with 'coin-flip'.

I get this feeling you're not going to let me go back to bed, Doc. More questions? Fine. Whatever. This has to end sometime. Lead on.

Couch. Chair. You on the latter, me, the former. Do you moonlight as a shrink or something?

Um, Doc? Do you have a wife or anything? Because, you know, she might not take it so well that you've got this impressionable unclothed young woman sitting on your couch.

Hell, I'm not taking it so well, and I'm not your wife. Do you think you could spare a blanket or something, at least?

No, no, no, it's all business with you, isn't it? Fine. Carry on.

How I feel about these statements is ... they're a waste of my time. And yours. Let's just get through this as fast as possible.

Really, Doc. I'm not sure your ticker could handle my impressions of your inkblots at this point. Also, none of your options really fit. Guess I'll just have to pick the best ... wait a second ...

You know, I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Because I really can't stand the thought of a septuagenarian bachelor/widower getting his jollies by listening to young women describe intimate aspects of their anatomy. Go buy a set of naughty playing cards, like everyone else.


After all this, you think you know me? Looks like your shrink skills aren't really up to your revival-of-the-nearly dead skills. Better not quit the day job. You know what? Let me just tell you what's really important to me.

There. Wasn't that easy? Couldn't you have just let me tell you about it in the first place?

Now can you give me some pants?

More shit. Fuck me. At least you're letting me pick my own stuff instead of just giving me the run around.

Wacky, I'm up for wacky. LSD, peyote, whatever y'all got around here.

Hmm. I've already determined glasses are the way to go with these preternatural tanlines I've got, so I might as well get a perk for it.

Finally! We're getting up! We're moving toward the door! I'm going to be free!

Blah blah blah, you're empathizing. I would be more interested in hearing your story if you'd give me some clothes. And maybe some shrooms.

Sunny Smiles? That has got to be a hooker.

Maybe I judged you wrong, Doc. Maybe. But we're still not even on the psychoanalyzed-in-my-knickers thing.

So long. It's been real, it's been fun, it's been ...

Screw it. It's been contrived, it's been awkward, it's been awkwardly contrived.


Next time: meeting Sunny Smiles.

Let's Play Fallout New Vegas: initial reactions

[Note on images: Click through for accessible captions]

Double post planned for today, because I feel awkward about both not talking about the game as a player, and about including those meta-thoughts in my character's story. This will probably change as time goes on. Wev.

So, Tuesday. I'm already pretty pissed off because a guy I work with reminded me about Steam after I had already pre-ordered from physical Big Box Store X. I was going to have to wait until I got off work and the store opened, whereas he got to go home at 1 a.m. and download it right away. Grr.

Okay, so I made a poor decision, but I'm going to stick with it. Because I am poor and I already sunk $5 into the pre-order.

I get my game home, insert the disk and get ready to install it. But wait ...

The disk appears to be a mere prompt to install Steam and download the game. Sometimes Providence really has a sarcastic sense of humor.

Wev. I'm slightly too excited to worry much about this right now. I decide to skim the manual while Steam is doing its thing. I haven't done any research about the game at all, because I'm wanting to approach it with fresh eyes, so this is the first I've heard about all these features, and I'm pretty excited. Many of my complaints about Fallout 3 (and Oblivion) appear to have been addressed:

  • First up: Hardcore mode. Ammo has weight! My character will need to eat! drink water! sleep! The lack of the need to do these things are a criticism I have had. It could be frustrating, but I anticipate I will be more excited about the realism than I will be frustrated. I plan to play my character all the way through in hardcore.
  • Reputation. Different factions will have different reactions to me based on how I have acted in the past towards them. Also, wearing faction armor affects NPC reactions. More realism, more excitement.
  • Modding your weapons. Pretty self explanatory. From this precedent, I would guess that they're going to give you a lot more options as far as crafting your own stuff, as well.
  • Companions. Looks like they're making it easier to keep track and instruct your companions. I wonder if a companion's willingness to follow you will be based on your overall Karma, your reputation or some combination of the above?
  • Kill cam mode. You mean I don't have to have an annoying third-person view whenever I kill something? Fantastic. Three modes: Cinematic (third person, slowed down), player view (first person, slowed down) and none. At this point, I plan on sticking with none, thankyouverymuch.
  • True iron sights. This basically looks like the ability to disable the game's crosshair for your weapon. More realism, more excitement.
Steam has downloaded, and I'm ready to play.

Really, Bethesda? I mean, I know advertising is full of bad puns and references and stuff, but ... really?

Looks like my kind of place.

You know, I'm usually not into authority figures, but anyone who has copulating bears on their flag deserves a second chance, imo.

Dude apparently hasn't read the no-monologuing memo. This will end badly.

With me getting shot, apparently. Oh, god, is this whole game going to be a flashback? Have I just seen my untimely demise?

19 October 2010

Let's Play Fallout New Vegas: pregame

In one hour, I will be picking it up. It it. The reason I do not have it already is because I work nights and where I work doesn't carry it for PC. Because they are bastages. So I pre-ordered it from another place and they open at 10.

I am prepared:

Caption: Poorly taken photo of my desk, which is actually a table. Featured are my Sony VAIO (with headphones, mouse and external hard drive), my notebook for gaming notes, a bag of Hallowe'en-themed marshmallows, a box of Lady Grey tea and a bottle of generic Excedrin Migraine. Miscellaneous desk clutter, including picture frames, cups of pens, plastic tubs of random crap and a non-flowering Amaryllis pot, takes up the background.

I have cleaned off my desk and armed myself with sources of simple sugars (Ghost Mallows ftw!) and caffeine (black tea and migraine pills, since I am boring and do not drink soda), as well as a note-taking apparatus.

As previously stated, I work nights, and typically sleep from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but I have decided to forgo sleep to play it.

I am hardcore!!!1!!!!eleventy!11!!

I will probably not be able to resist posting a little something later today, maybe a bunch of screenshots. We'll see.

16 October 2010

Let's Play Fallout New Vegas: backstory

I am not a gamer.

But I have decided to do a Let's Play of Betheda's Fallout New Vegas, to be released on 19 October.

  • I didn't grow up playing video games, and as such have only played a few hours on a handful of games other than Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3 (hereafter referred to as the Bethesda trifecta). I don't quite understand the major draw of games like Super Mario Brothers or Call of Duty. Neither do I play online MMORPGs, as I'm not really interested in the social aspect that seems to be a primary focus.
  • I am a person who enjoys starting fairly ambitious projects (ambition, as always, being a relative term). Also, I am a person who frequently abandons projects within three days. And if not within three days, certainly within two weeks.
  • I have logged upwards of 100 hours each with the Bethesda trifecta. I really don't even know how much I have played them. 100 hours is an exceedingly conservative estimate. It's probably closer to 200 for Fallout 3 and 300 for Oblivion.
  • I am not especially skilled at critiquing games, I think because I feel I don't have the wealth of experience on which to draw.

  • I want to capture my own discovery of this game, and stretch my gameplay out by forcing myself to document it.
  • I wanted to do a Let's Play after reading Chocolate Hammer's Let's Play Morrowind.
  • I want to approach the game with fresh eyes, so there isn't so much difference between player knowledge and character knowledge. I don't want to have to pretend I don't know that if I just go to this particular shrine in the middle of nowhere and then go find a glowing bowling ball, a goddess will give me an invincible lockpick. If I'm writing describing my first playthrough of the game, and I don't consult any other resources, player and character knowledge will, necessarily, be the same. Whether or not this will make for more enjoyable reading, I don't know, but I think it will make for more enjoyable writing.
  • I want to do a game that hasn't been around forever, primarily because if I start doing a series on it right out of the gate, I will probably be more likely to get hits. I doubt I'm going be getting hits, but I might as well give myself as good of a chance as possible. At the time of this writing, Googling "let's play fallout new vegas" gets you nine hits, all of them on YouTube.
  • I want to play a game I have a high probability of enjoying. My tastes are somewhat limited, so when I remembered that a new Fallout was being released my choice of game was obvious.
At this point, I plan to do updates on Tuesdays and Saturdays for a few weeks, and then once per week after that.