Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is fraught with all kinds of baggage. I used to be one of the people who vehemently hated it. I mean, I spent — spend? — most of my life feeling like I’m on the periphery of acceptable society (fat woman who likes to play and make games and enjoys learning how to use swords and can accurately diagnose and sometimes fix serious car problems), and VD (heh) was one of those things that just made that feeling worse. This was the case even when I was already married. Human connections are complex and nuanced and commercial pressure is about as antithetical to that sort of thing as you can get. But this year has been wonderfully low-key, completely by accident, and it’s been much easier to appreciate the non-commercial side of Valentine’s Day which is in reality non-existent and requires personal construction by those involved. The reason … Read on!

A question of home

Home is a hard concept for me, or maybe it’s just hard for me to reconcile it with the usual societal notions of home. Maybe that’s a part of growing up, learning that societal notions are rough guildelines and not strict rules, many of which are set up by people who do not have your best interests at heart. I’ve been home in the US since mid-May. I got here in time to spend the little time my dad had left, and for that I’m enormously grateful. And I was able to be here for my mom, and for me. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months. Grieving, logistics, supporting my mom, and having a brief getaway weekend to see a ton of friends in New York City. And seeing family from Mexico! People I haven’t seen in years. Home is absolutely awesome, and home … Read on!

Evolution of research

powered by Fotopedia   So before the middle of the year hit, I was in the middle of refocusing my research from the application of polyphony to transmedia storytelling, to examining polyphony and its role in shared emergent narrative in tabletop role playing games. A friend of mine calls this a “PhD&D.” There are studies on the culture and anthropology of gamers and gaming (and when I say gaming here, I mean tabletop RPGs); there are studies on performativity in gaming, the potential of gaming in therapy, and in education. There are evaluations of gaming materials as literature. But so far, there are no examinations of narrative processes happening in a game in progress. Because polyphony posits that every voice influences the collaborative results of the interaction of those voices in a given work, and because an RPG setting constitutes a voice contributing to a game even partly based in … Read on!

Mid-year update

How awful is that, a mid-year update. Well, for the moment, a good part of my life is on hold due to a close death in the family. My research is on hold while I help my family with paperwork and the other inevitable logistics that come out of these things, but if you want a good snapshot of where my thinking was going as recently as April, Josh T Jordan at Tell Me Another just posted an interview with me conducted at that time with co-host PK Sullivan. Tell Me Another is a bi-weekly interview show featuring storytellers of all kinds, and I’m honored and delighted to have been asked to participate. I also had a story accepted by Tiny Owl Workshop for Unfettered; I have no idea how my story will appear, which is part of the fun! I’m honored and humbled to be included in this project. In … Read on!

Friend zoning.

Before I begin, naughty language alert. If that’s not your thing, no worries, but this may not be the post for you. Now, onward. Go here first. Visit Chez Wendig for some Miriam-truthing and then come back here. Thanks. So I’ve been struggling recently with the friend-zone topic because there’s one person I know who is not a dick-weasel but succumbs a bit too much to the attractive pity-hooks of the Friend Zone. He wants to understand why making friendly overtures can result in hostile responses; he wants to know why reasonable pleasantries are suddenly A Bad Thing. He wants to not be in the mine field. This is the sum total of the problem: ENTITLEMENT. Wrapped up in entitlement are codified layers of expectation as inculcated by social norms and customs.

Sorry, been busy

I know, I know, I owe posts. My research has changed, I’m in the middle of revising a master document, and I was diagnosed with freaking diabetes so my brain hasn’t been firing on all cylinders. However, I have plans and things. I’ll enumerate those in a further post, but suffice to say I’m going to try to stick with a weekly schedule (so regular updates from here out, yay!) and definitely talk more about the work I’m doing toward my doctorate. In the meantime, however, there’s a rant that’s been building over the past week and I’ll be posting that shortly. Naughty language alert for that one. You’ve been warned.

On discomfort: loneliness

One of the worst manifestations of discomfort, for me, is loneliness. When I’m all right with myself, when I don’t feel like a fraud and things are okay, then I’m perfectly fine with my own company. But when I’m unstable, whether that instability is internal or external, then my own company is just not enough. I regress to the age of eight, with those little self-pity fantasies building up into a world where I’ve been unjustly left alone by my friends, who have realised I’m not that interesting at all and are off doing their own thing. It’s a circular pattern, this loneliness: it feeds off that impostor syndrome — soon people will realise I’m nothing like they thought I was — and in some awful way it becomes a self-truth and I can’t stand my own company, and I’m just an awful person. Is this a manifestation of anxiety? … Read on!

Year in review

For a few days now, I’ve tried to write some kind of retrospective on the year. The truth is I’ve never been all that good at reflection. I can do it in the immediate timeframe, or at least a small one — say, a few days or even a couple of weeks. I’m very good at replaying an event and agonizing over it, but often I’ll get something useful from it. But longer timeframes and it’s another story. I can’t remember January. I mean, I can; I was in the US — I try to come here for a month every year to be with my parents — but I don’t have anything solid. No big event, no milestone thing. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or out of the ordinary, but I get that slippery feeling my mind has when confronted with something it doesn’t want to do and … Read on!

Academic writing

Is it me, or is it like some perverse wrestling sculpture event? It’s like cooking, or carpentry. There’s heavy lifting and assembly and then disassembly when you inevitably get a joist wrong. And there’s a lot of staring. And pressure. And waiting. Scripts for me can grind, sure, but the grind is different, spooling too far too fast in a direction that I later realize doesn’t work. Lots of spooling. Tire smoke. But this theory thinky stuff is a different thing, like trying to walk through gel. Pushing through. Stopping for a breather. Is it always like this? Does it loosen up the more you get used to it? Or is it easier for some people? I can completely understand if it’s not the kind of thing I’ve got a knack for. I dunno.

Meanwhile, back in academia

One 24 hour plane trip and my white blood cells are all offended. I have come and gone to a fantastic conference (Rethinking Intermediality in the Digital Age), left with my head bursting with ideas and a notebook full of unbelievably smart and astonishing new contacts, and after landing in Brisbane one evening, heading to work the following morning, and then attending fellow DCI cohort presentations the day after that, I am fallen. Stupid cold. It’s not as bad as the lurgi before, but not for lack of trying. On the plus side, reading. On the minus side, poor reading comprehension. In early December I present a progress report of sorts for my research. There’s even a panel evaluation, so, like, no pressure or nothing. Really, I’m not terribly worried about talking. I can talk. Talking is fine. It’s putting this stuff down on paper that feels intimidating. That’s a funny … Read on!