“You should let yourself feel anger or even rage about this,” my therapist said, and I thought, I’m not sure I even know what the difference is, but I feel one of those for sure. More than that, though, was the mixture of shock and utter lack of surprise.
Shock because, to be honest, doing what she did felt intentionally cruel to an unmistakable degree; if I’d been giving her the benefit of the doubt since the divorce — and I had, I think, if only because I couldn’t really comprehend that she was being mean as opposed to selfish in so many instances— then this was the wake-up call to tell me otherwise. There was no realistic reason what happened happened outside of cruelty. I hadn’t, really, expected that, I don’t think.
I also hadn’t expected it to happen then, like that; to me, the issue was unresolved and open, and we still had to talk about it. The last time I saw her, even — two weeks ago today exactly — I’d said that to her face, that we needed to sit down and talk about it. She’d said sure, which to my mind meant (means) agreement. I’m shocked, still, because I was literally expecting a discussion, a say, some kind of heads up. Instead, an email telling me after the fact that it had happened with no warning.
(Again, the feeling of, did she know even then that’s what would happen? Was the sure just a way to end the conversation for her?)
The utter lack of surprise comes from… I don’t know, the knowledge that, of course this was what was going to happen. From knowing that the selfishness and need to “win,” the need to hurt me was there if not all along, at least from the time she announced her plan in the first place. From remembering the horrible, shitty conversation in October where I tried to find out information and details and she said, sneering, that I don’t get a say and this is what happens when I leave, and if I wanted to, I could sue her because she’d never change her mind.
Thinking back to that conversation, of course she’d do this. Anything else would mean compromise or loss for her, and neither are acceptable, especially not in what she repeatedly calls her “new life.”
I do feel angry, and shocked, and not surprised. But more than anything, I feel so, so sad. And that, I suspect, was what she really wanted all along.
I feel myself almost angry at the fact that I’m still thinking about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker almost a month after its release, especially considering how much brainspace it took up in the months leading up to it hitting theaters. (Most of that, admittedly, was related to my job, but still.) Still, I’ve found myself reading a bunch of the complaints about the movie in the last few weeks, and… not necessarily disagreeing, per se — they’re opinions and what’s the point of arguing with those? — but thinking, oh, but wait…! a lot.
To wit: The return of the Emperor is held up as a move that is entirely flawed and irredeemable by many of those complaining, and… it’s not, surely…? The killing off of the previous Uber Villain in The Last Jedi surely made it necessary that a replacement shadowy figure would be brought in to try and explain what the endgame of the First Order was — and, if possible, what Supreme Leader Snoke’s plan was before he got offed — and, making that bad guy the Emperor seems like a fine idea on paper, when you consider Rise of Skywalker is intended as the final chapter of a series where the Emperor has been the villain for… what, five of those earlier chapters…?
(There’s also something that appeals to me about the Emperor showing up in the final chapter of a trilogy having been absent for the earlier two chapters; there’s an argument to be made that he more of less does the same in the first trilogy, and he only gets outed as the villain in the final chapter of the prequel trilogy. Is this accidental symmetry?)
Also, the complaints about Rey’s heritage being retconned to be the granddaughter of the Emperor. It’s contrived, sure, but… isn’t that pretty in keeping with Star Wars, which retconned Luke to be the son of Darth Vader in its second installment, and then Luke and Leia to be siblings in its third? There’s a line of thinking that the re-write translates as making a commentary about Force users having to come from specific backgrounds, but that rings false in a franchise where there are already lots of Force users who aren’t related to either the central heroes or villains of the series. You’re closing out a grand story where everyone is already fucking related to each other? Sure, throw this in, why not.
A lot of the complaints, I think, come from an idea that The Last Jedi is this evolutionary step forward for Star Wars as a whole that makes no mistakes, and that strikes me as a really interesting, and somewhat flawed, idea. Putting aside the obvious flaws of the movie — the timeline makes no sense, character is sacrificed for Deeper Meaning on a number of occasions, it’s tonally all over the place — The Last Jedi feels like it accidentally sabotages its trilogy with the big choices it makes, leaving whatever followed to play clean up no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of fun in watching it essentially dump two of the central mysteries of the previous movie so casually. (Who are Rey’s parents and why didn’t they come back for her? They’re alcoholics who sold her for booze! What is Snoke up to? Who cares, we just killed him!) But… none of it feels additive to me. It doesn’t feel like it’s building momentum as the series heads into a final chapter, as much as it feels like those responsible are cutting what they didn’t like from the earlier movie as swiftly as they can.
I’m not going to suggest this makes The Last Jedi a bad movie, because it’s not; it’s fun and there’s some great stuff in it. But it feels as eager to undo what came before as The Rise of Skywalker is, if not more so, yet without as much complaint. (It also feels less interested in narrative cohesion for the trilogy, and the nine-movie-storyline as a whole, but that’s not necessarily a sin.) And that’s… fine…?
Star Wars has always been a messy series, a storyline full of contradictions and rewrites on the fly, and plot developments that don’t make sense but “feel” right in a childlike manner. Perhaps that’s why Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker worked for me; it sounded right at the time. Perhaps if I thought about it more, perhaps if I cared more about the minutiae, I would change my mind. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, as the song goes.
I live in a world of cats, these days; I share a house with no less than four, and a neighborhood with countless more, so many that they have nicknames and familiar meeps as I walk past and say hello. (There’s even one who has, to all intents and purposes, taken up residence on the porch, only deigning to go home to sleep, and even then I’m not sure that’s always the case.) All of this is preamble to the strange story that happened recently, which started in the way stories often do: with a knock on the door.
It was someone I’d never seen before, who quickly explained that they lived around the corner and had found a dead cat outside their house, and would I be able to tell her which house the cat belonged to…? She was distraught to the point of tears, but she knew the cat’s name and said she talked to him a lot on this street. I said I’d accompany her to tell the owners.
The cat lives just two houses down, so Sophie — as the woman around the corner was called, she nervously explained — and I went to see if anyone was home. They were, as evidenced by the fact that their front door was open and they were deeply unhappy to see us even before we shared the unpleasant news. Once we’d explained what was happening, however, one of the cat’s owners immediately walked out to see what was happening, so suddenly that we had to ask her if she’d rather wear shoes considering it was raining.
The cat’s corpse was so strange to see. There was no visible damage, but the face was frozen in a sneer as it lay in a gutter. The owner went to pieces instantly, telling us over and over that the cat knew not to visit this particular street because of the heavy traffic, but confirming this was, indeed, her cat. The grief had turned into shock and Sophie, not knowing what else to do, left to get a box to put the cat into.
Which is when the owner realized that it wasn’t her cat after all.
Sure enough, this cat had a collar that identified them as “Captain Fake” — it sounds like a joke, but it’s not — and a phone number. Lifting the cat to expose the collar tag, it was entirely stiff, in a way that seemed less rigor mortis and more taxidermied. When Sophie returned with the box, we quickly explained what was happening, and she added this, to make the whole thing even more odd: she was, she believed, being bullied by someone unknown, who kept leaving orange things outside her house — bags of Cheetos, traffic cones, and the like. The cat was orange, and now she wondered if Captain Fake was part of this sinister agenda.
We put the Captain in the box, and the owner of the not-dead cat determined that she’d take him and call the number to share news of his discovery. I haven’t seen her in the days since, but my head is full of questions. Was he a real cat, dead on the side of the road, or a stuffed cat left there to mess with someone? If it was the latter, who’d do that? Who’d call a pet Captain Fake? What world has such people in it?
This all happened January 2. As I walked home, I wondered if this was an omen for the year, and how strange it would end up becoming. Hold on tight.