January 24, 2020

Yes, this one’s a day late, but in my defense, I wasn’t actually really online yesterday, I was too busy being sick. I did, at least, draw it on the 24th.

How Would I Know, Why Should I Care

There’s a rhythm to this site, although I’m not sure it’s something that anyone but me would notice. There are things I try to post at set times, or in “slots” that make sense to me but were never planned that way. To wit, this should be another collection of THR newsletter graphics. Except there aren’t any to post.

Okay, that’s not entirely true; I could, in theory, post the last couple of weeks’ images, but then I run into another internal rhythm problem — I’d eat up the buffer of time between the images running in the newsletter and my posting them here. For some reason, that two-to-three week gap is  important to me, although I couldn’t explain why properly.

What happened was that the newsletter paused for the holidays. We took two weeks off, which felt great at the time, but created a window here where there wouldn’t be a graphics post as usual. On the one hand, that’s not a big deal — I’ve been doing the 2020 Vision posts daily and posting photos from Brazil, so the site’s been image heavy as is, at least compared with before. But on the other hand…!

I’m a creature of habit. I wish that I wasn’t, and I can be very good in situations where improvisation is necessary, surprising even myself, but… I like knowing how things are, and not worrying about potential surprises or complications around the corner. So, not having a newsletter graphics post was something that genuinely weighed on me for days as I approached today. What was I going to do? What could I do? Should I ignore it? Post graphics and eat up the buffer? Write a long, self-indulgent post about the whole thing?

At the heart of it, ultimately, is how important and necessary routine and rhythm has become for me here. Knowing that I should post a particular thing on a particular day — even though no-one’s reading, even though it’s all self-imposed rules and barriers — makes it easier for me to keep doing this, somehow. It’s the difference between swimming an ocean or doing laps at a pool: if I know that I have newsletter graphics every two weeks, then I know how long each lap is in between, to torture the metaphor. That counts, for me.

So: no newsletter graphics, even though they “should” go here. No-one regrets that more than me.

I Don’t Think It’ll Ever Pass

“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.

It Just Doesn’t Move Me The Way That It Should

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.