Saturday, February 10, 2018

My great-aunt died tonight.

Or I guess, technically, not MY great-aunt. 

She was my dad's aunt, and since my dad is technically my step-dad, and since I have chosen to limit my interaction with him because he's an abusive narcissist, his side of the family has been pretty scarce in my life for a while.

It's probably not a thing, because they were never super involved in our lives in the first place, but it's definitely been noticeable.  Christmas cards, funerals and First Communions, basically - that's been our interaction in the last decade or so.  I think it actually has more to do with the fact that they don't spend time with him anymore either, because he's a generally miserable human being, and the byproduct has been that they don't spend any time with any of us.  Kind of sucks, but what are you going to do?

But back to the great-aunt: She was scarce, but not in a voluntary way.  She was 96 years old, and ill, and infirm, and after a fall a few years ago, afraid to leave her house, basically.  The house with stairs.  So i don't think I've seen her in person in about five plus years.

Which is too bad, because she was a really sweet person. 

Always kind to me, no matter what.  She wouldn't have given two shits that I choose not to really communicate with her nephew, because her husband was the same kind of guy, and I think she'd have probably cheered, if she'd known that some of us had gotten sick enough of his bullshit not to interact with him anymore. (Of course, there was also the 'what he says goes' element of her personality, so it's probably more 50/50 on which way that could have gone.)

But I kept in touch the only way I really could... through letters and cards.  Every new batch of pictures, I'd make a double or two and send them along to Auntie Lucy, with just a "Hey, thinking of you.  Thought you might to see how un-little the littles are getting." Something held over from living with Grandmother and watching her wait for the mail, or the phone to ring, or somebody to just pop in.  Even at her worst, when she wouldn't actually be so great during the visits, when there weren't any, she'd still be waiting for some.

It was certainly not difficult to drop Auntie Lucy a card every now and then and let her know she wasn't forgotten.  I even sent a card to her daughter once, because she was caring for her at home.  Because I've been in her position - or something close to it anyways - just saying "hey, I know this sucks.  It's so hard, and you're doing great even if it feels like you're messing it all up.  I'm around if you ever need to talk."  She never called, but I hope it made her feel a little bit less alone.  Because that's a lonely, rough road to walk.

So now, I have to figure out about wakes and a funeral.  And rearranging any doctor's appointments and whatever else needs to happen this week.  And try not to feel bad about not calling my dad to say I'm sorry she's gone. 

I am sorry she's gone, and I'm sorry I heard about it on goddamn Facebook first, but I'm not putting myself in a situation where I need to try and comfort him.  That's not my job, not anymore. 

And that feels shitty, to be honest: To say, I know my dad will be grieving, and I know that I'm not even going to do more than barely acknowledge it.  Because he'll be at the wakes and the funeral and everything else, and I'll have to see him and not make a scene, which means say "I'm so sorry," and not immediately run away when he tries to hug me or something. 

Boundaries are hard, even at the easiest of times.  They're definitely not going to be easy to hold right now, when everybody is hurting.  But I'm not opening anything even a centimeter more than I have to.

Because I deserve to be treated like an adult human with feelings, and he is incapable of that, so: boundaries are there to protect us both, honestly. Because as much as I'd like to vent my spleen, it would just wind up hurting the people around us - my sisters and such - so that's just going to stay safely spleened up, and I'm going to nod along and keep the walls strictly in place.

But I'm sad, tonight, because ... she was a nice lady, and she was always kind to me, and I know her daughters must be hurting, and even that he's hurting.  All of those things, and the fact that family is a mess, at all times, even the saddest. 

Deep breaths and strong boundaries.  Goals for the week. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Why I'll Never 'Get Over" Nazi Cap

Somewhere in the past two years or so, Captain America (in his comic iteration, anyways), became a Nazi. 

Or... more like it came out that he'd always been a Nazi, even though he was, in our real-life actual world, created by two Jewish men during World War II

Now, I'm only going to be able to talk about that in the broadest  of strokes, because I couldn't read any of those comics, because even the idea of Steve Rogers being Hydra made me nauseous. 

So, I didn't read any of that run of the comics, and - I'll be honest here - I had to do some googling to see if he was still, currently, supposed to be Hydra, because I had to stop reading the press around the whole mess, for basically the same reason.

Turns out - not so much: Regular Cap came back and kicked his ass, the whole thing was about the Cosmic Cube or some such nonsense, and Marvel wants us all to calm our tits about it, guys; we never should have doubted them in the first place.

And I'm going to call bullshit on that, for all the reasons many a good writer:
Kicking Hydra Cap's Ass with Thor's Hammer

"The creation of Captain America was deeply personal and deeply political.

Ever since, Steve Rogers has stood in opposition to tyranny, prejudice, and genocide. While other characters have their backstories rolled up behind them as the decades march on to keep them young and relevant, Cap is never removed from his original context. He can’t be. To do so would empty the character of all meaning.
But yesterday, that’s what Marvel did."
 has already expounded on, but also because, if it's true that art matters, in any type of real way, then turning the literal embodiment of AMERICA into a Nazi, in this day and age, sure as fuck means something. 

Maybe, if we didn't have rioters heil-ing in our streets, or white supremacists sitting in the White House, I could feel different.  I don't think so, but it's a possibility.

But we didn't, technically, have those things, right out in the open the way we do today, when this storyline started, so I still say bullshit.

Two years ago when Secret Empire debuted, and Nick Spenser started explaining how chronically ill, disabled, potential queer, likely impoverished (or at the very most working class), son of immigrants, most likely Catholic, New Deal Democrat Steve Rogers somehow got hooked up with an organization that was anti-immigrant, anti-disabled people, anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual, and anti-working class in Brooklyn, in 193whatever, I opted out.

Based on what I've read online - because again, I could not make myself read these comics, and I honestly don't have any desire to even try - his mother met up with a kindly Hydra agent, and young Steve was indoctrinated as a child. 

Again: I just need to remind you that Hydra are Nazis.

And that Marvel gleefully manipulated his backstory, so that Captain America could also be a Nazi, with some useless assurances that audiences should just "wait and see" where it was going. 
So let me be very clear: I don’t care if this gets undone next year, next month, next week. I know it’s clickbait disguised as storytelling. I am not angry because omg how dare you ruin Steve Rogers forever.
I am angry because how dare you use eleven million deaths as clickbait.
How little must we matter. The people who created Captain America, and Superman, and countless other heroes like them. The people who need him. The people whose history and suffering and hope, as we stood on the brink of annihilation, gave you your weekly entertainment and your fun thought experiment, 75 years later.
I hope it was worth it, Marvel. 
Jessica Plumber, On Steve Rogers #1, Antisemitism & Publicity Stunts

And, apparently possessing about as much introspection and self-reflection capabilities as our cheeto-in-chief, fans were basically told to just hold their horses, as post and tweet and columns continued to be written about how this was a betrayal, not just of Cap as a character, and his two Jewish creators, but of all the fans who've claimed Cap, and Steve Rogers, over the years. 

Listen - I'm 38 years old; I'm a woman; I'm chronically ill and disabled - I'm not the target demographic for the Captain America comics, and I never have been.  As a kid, I was always a Wonder Woman girl, and then later, when my body started becoming my greatest enemy, I found Oracle, and we've talked about how awesome I think SHE is. 

But Captain America was mostly an overly-patriotic, Frisbee-flinging, do-gooder, as far as kid me was concerned.  He seemed like the type to lecture you a lot - about finishing your homework, or your vegetables, or something. 

And then, with the MCU, I got a new perspective on Cap, on Steve Rogers, on the First Avenger & leader of the Avengers. 

According to it's IMDB, that movie came out in 2011, and that ... seems impossible to me, but ok: I guess I'll have to take their word for it. 

So 2011, a new Cap, and a backstory I hadn't heard before. 

A little guy standing up to bullies, who's got a good heart.  (I'm not going to lie and tell you that the fact that he also had Chris Evans' everything did not play a part in my easy acceptance of him, because none of us our fools, BUT I can say that I was like Peggy - starry eyed about the guy, even when he was a little punk.) 

From there, I followed Steve Rogers through 70 years on ice; at least two major disagreements with Tony Stark (which I've complained about before); his accumulation of superheroes; his search for & reunion with Bucky; and now his exile into the Wakandan mysteriousness (bc I haven't seen Black Panther yet, so I know so little about how the MCU is going to portray it).  In a couple of months, I'll follow that particular version of Cap - bearded, and with Bucky in tow, the previews make it seem - into battle with a giant purple space dude, who likes jewelry and wants to clobber us all.

But that's not the only version of Cap I became enamored with. 

I fell into Avengers fanfiction somewhere around March of 2013, if my A03 history is to be believed. 

Since then, I've read literally thousands of versions of Steve Rogers. 
Some of them were Captain Americas; some weren't
Some had his canon comic book history (pre-Secret Empire); some of them were born in the 1990s and never lived through the Great Depression. 
Some got the serum and got Capped; some got the serum and stayed little; some never even thought about turning themselves into some sort of medical experiment; still others got a serum that went wrong on them. 

A lot of them were chronically ill, or disabled, at some point, because that's a thing for me.  That's my in for Steve, personally.  This little guy, who wants better than his body allows him, and finds a way.  I mean... there's all different kinds of wish fulfillment, aren't there.

I've read thousands of AUs, where Bucky become Cap or Sam; Where nobody has powers and they all run coffee shops or tattoo parlors or comic book conventions. 

I've read a million Steves, but the one I haven't and won't read? 

Is the god-damn Marvel canon, Nazi Steve. 

Because that's an abomination. 

It's a betrayal of all that that character stands for, and has stood for, for over seventy five years. 

It's bullshit, anti-semetic, shock-value PR, corrupt capitalism at its finest.  Perverting the work of (and again this can't be said too many times) two Jewish writers in such a way as to denigrate everything they were trying to accomplish with the character (and at the same time, trying to claim the moral high ground, because fans weren't 'waiting until the end to judge'). 

The fact that Marvel Comics still doesn't understand what it did was wrong and disgusting makes it hard for me to support them, in any form.  I don't spend money on their books anymore, and I support the MCU in much more tremulous and fearful way - as if they, too, could betray all of that, and all of their fans, at any given moment. 

I'll still have fanon Steve Rogers, no matter what: the fanfic writers I know and love had MANY a well-written response to this whole 'plotline' of bullshit. 

But it's a horrible feeling, knowing that the company valued shock value and money over (arguably) their most important hero.  Certainly one of, at any rate. 

Captain America has been a moral, upstanding, ass-kicking (if uber nationalistic), icon for 70+ years, and they tore it all down, for no real reason at all.  Just to sell some comic books, and take it back a few months later.  And lost a lot of readers, including me, in the process.

It's not much, to say here, on my personal blog, two years later, how disappointed I still am in all that.  How hurt I still find myself over the fact that they took such a good man  -yes, fictional, I know: but someone who STOOD FOR SOMETHING, nevertheless - and played him (and all of us) for publicity.

And if you don't think that have Captain America spout Nazi bullshit has helped other actual non-fictional assholes spout their Nazi bullshit, then you're not as smart as I think you are, dear readers.

** Author's notes **

- Telling me to call him Hydra Cap is also bullshit: Hydra are Nazis, in any version of the comics, don't come at me with that 616 nonsense.
- Here is a good article on which I base some of my political declarations about Steve Rogers.  Others are just common sense (Irish son of immigrants at that time? In New York? Most likely Catholic, no matter what his MCU dogtags say).  Others are wishful thinking/headcanons (There's no proof that Steve Rogers is anything other than straight, I suppose, if you're thinking with a heteronormative lens. He did live in a historical queer area of Brooklyn, at that time, so ... I'll think what I want; you think what you want.)
- Here is a picture of the real Captain America #1 - Doing what he was made to do.  Punching Hitler.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

An Insiders Tip To NTE

So here's the thing... sometimes when I say "How are you? I miss you..."  I really mean "I need you, can you come?" 

But I can't just say that. 

I can't just ask that, because I'm afraid the answer will be no. Because the answer has sometimes been no before.
“Life is weird and annoying for geeks like me, because it doesn’t adhere to logic a lot of the time.  It’s a wild Seussian machine.  We put in Hard Work and Passion and Money and expect to get back Success, when we’re just as likely to get back Failure or Wild Monkeys or Surprise Baby.  The hell of it is, we are told by the culture, our parents, ourselves, that Life is a logical machine.  Now, sure, it’s really rare to put Nothing into the machine and get Success back from it, so it makes sense to load the machine with good stuff, but sometimes it’s just going to shoot out a giraffe at you.”  Commander Logic, December 2011, How to Get Unstuck

Having a shitload of giraffe days in a row.  Feels like I'm having a ton of giraffe years, if I'm being honest. 

Life is not a logical machine. 

I don't know what I'm putting into it, some days. 

Some days, I can barely input "made sure children ate food that wasn't chocolate" and "homework got done and nobody got murdered."  I mean, sure there's "Holy Shit, I helped my nephew Apply to colleges" days and days where the output is "Niece puts you as the person she admires most in a school project" days, but those are few and far between.  Mostly it's "I woke the kids up and laid like a log for three hours, till I felt well enough to sit up and forage for food so I could take my pills" and "attempting to hold together the pieces of a family puzzle when other people are intent on hiding their pieces, or ruining them, or disguising them."

I don't exactly know how to ask for and receive help graciously.  I mean, especially emotional help.  Physical help is a hurdle I've had to jump over nearly every day for the past 23 years: Being chronically ill means sucking up a lot of your modesty or embarrassment or pride and just accepting that you physically cannot accomplish a thing without the aid of another human being.  When you haven't showered by yourself in twenty three years, you learn pretty quick that physical help is something you're just gonna have to put your pride aside for.  (Still: It isn't exactly easy to ask for that help.  It still feels shameful, sometimes, or frustrating.  It's just that I have a lot more practice with it, at this point.)

But emotional help?  Saying "I'm overwhelmed," or "I'm exhausted," or "I'm so goddamn frustrated I want to cry 23 hours out of every damn day?"  Well, those are harder for me.  And part of the reason is that sometimes people in my life have either refused to help me - "What do you want me to do about it?  You're too sensitive!" -  or not realized I was actually asking for help and minimized it so that I felt uncomfortable continuing to reach out - "Everyone's overwhelmed or exhausted."

And I stopped seeing a therapist a long time ago, but I'm thinking - as I prod my niblings into their own counseling sessions, grumbling as they go - that it might be time to re-up on that front, find a new counselor for myself. 

Because all there's all these damn giraffes around here, and the zookeeper doesn't quite know what to do with them all, by herself.