Youth without youth

by Ashelia. 2 Comments

Someone just asked people what the best moment of their life was.

I figured writing my top five would probably be really healthy.

  1. Halloween, circa 1997. I was probably a knight; I left my princess phase by age five, quickly becoming enamoured by femme fatales and Jean D’Arcs. My mom got me awesome armor, stage prop dragons to put on my shoulder, and swords and so that Halloween I went as a woman king, a lady knight: tiara on my head, sword in hand, dragon on shoulder. We grew up in apartments and we weren’t rich, but my mom made sure to go to mansion neighborhoods and take me through amazing streets where we got king sized candy bars. The air felt alive, it hurt to inhale from the crisp breeze, and we would run down the streets.
  2. February, circa 2003. First kisses and first makeout sessions are always kind of cool. You feel really grown up. It’s so hard to relate to this version of Rhea, but I remember being on a high all week, reliving the moment in my head and wanting to tell the world.
  3. Resident Evil 4, circa 2005. I had really good friends growing up. We did everything together. But Resident Evil 4, eating guacamole dip and tiramisu, was probably the best gaming experience I’d ever had. We mowed through the game, sitting cross legged on the floor with a couple of us on the couch. It was Spring Break, we didn’t have a worry in the world, and in a moment we weren’t angst ridden teenagers dealing with sex, growing up, high school: we were Leon Kennedy and we were gonna save the goddamn world. College admissions and upcoming AP exams be damned.
  4. Alki Beach, circa 2008. My grandfather died, and that sucked. But the beach was gorgeous and I brought my camera and my text books. I walked for four hours, then I walked more, and I even went downtown on top of it. Eating fish and chips, watching the tide turn, miles and miles away from home–armed with my camera and a lot of heartache. I got some nice photos, too.
  5. Acceptance offer from Wowhead, circa 2011. I lost my job on Christmas and it nearly killed me. Then I interviewed everywhere. For a good month, I feared for everything: rent, career, life. What if I made a mistake? What if the game industry was not my industry? Then I got a job offer from Wowhead, and it felt amazing. The relief made me giddy, the job itself still is amazing to this day. I am fortunate every day for this moment, it was truly incredible. I had never wanted something so badly before.

This hatred is fucking real

by Ashelia. 1 Comment

I can’t tell people to be nice to each other.

I can’t pretend I was always a saint, either.

I mean, I mostly am now. I wish the best for everyone–I really do. There are people in this world I really dislike, but I don’t wish them bad for the most part. I just want them as far away from me as possible, doing their own thing. Failing or succeeding somewhere in a galaxy far, far away from me.

So sometimes when people hate me and I find out, it still blindsides me, because I think if they got to know me they wouldn’t hate me. I’m sure everyone thinks this about themselves, but I really think I’m a pretty awesome friend. And so like I said, I think if they knew the me that my friends do, they’d like me. If they knew the girl that bought skins for people just because she had some extra RP or the girl who rewrote someone’s cover letter tirelessly so they could apply to Blizzard, they would have a hard time hating me.

I mean I made M:tG cupcakes for someone for Valentine’s Day solely because I wanted them to feel special and realize people cared.

I’m sure people who hate me are reading this right now and eyerolling. They know I’m so pathetic and they know I’m so mean and they know I’m downright horrible, undeserving of everything in my life so far. They have some memory of me that their hatred has distorted, that probably isn’t even true anymore, but they don’t know the difference anymore.

It could be a normal draft mode, where my team beat them, and they think my GGWP was sarcastic.

It could be a simple conversation we had, where they misunderstood a joke, and they think I’m full of myself.

It could be from a meeting where things just got really intense, where they took my seriousness as ire, and they think I’m a “bitch.”

Whatever it was, it sparked the flame that led to the hatred. A flame that still burns strong today.

And so they read my tweets and they seethe at the good days, they laugh at the bad days, and they spend too much time caring about someone who doesn’t care about them. When they see me cap out at Plat IV and they drink it in, even if they’re Bronze or Silver or Gold or also Plat IV. When I quit raiding because I had to go to job interviews all of the country years ago, a couple people who hated me twisted it into how I was kicked out. When I came back with a job at Wowhead, they twisted that into how I’d ruin the website. When I helped get LolKing where it is today, they twisted it into how I was carried.

This is because they genuinely relish in my lack of success in places I fail, accredit any success I do have luck, and take that warm hot messy hate and just bathe in it.

The thing is I don’t hold grudges. If you’re someone who hates me, I probably don’t hate you. I may think less of you, but I don’t hold you any ill will. A large part of this is because a few years ago I realized that it is healthier for me this way. Hold onto an emotion as negative as hate for more than a few weeks and you become its slave; you’re controlled by it. You’re owned by it. You become dark, twisted.

It is so easy to hate. It is so much harder to love. But it’s the hardest of all to be indifferent.

One of the hardest things about becoming more well-known on the internet has been becoming indifferent. I know I’m far from “e-famous,” but the more places my name gets exposed to, the harder it is for me. I falter a lot. Like I said, when I find out someone hates me, it hurts.

But I’m working on it–it hurts less and less now. I guess I’ll always have haters, anyone will, and the more public you are the more you accrue.

Anyway, I know I can’t tell people to be nice to each other.

But I can tell you it is so easy to hate. It’s the Bronze V of emotions. And I mean, I’m done with that shit, so shouldn’t you be too?

Write what you know

by Ashelia. 10 Comments

I was routinely called a cum dumpster when I played World of Warcraft.

Before that I’d never encountered sexism in extreme levels. I grew up with Mario and Link. I marathoned Street Fighter II with the boys. I played Counter-Strike competitively. I used to stay up late watching Korean pro players dominate in StarCraft. But I had breasts and when that fact became obvious on the internet–well, let’s just say I wasn’t welcome anymore because women are total sluts and drama queens apparently.

Get a thick skin, they said. Get over it, they said. It’s just boys being boys, they said. Don’t be so dramatic about it, they said. People are allowed to dislike you, they said.

So I tried that. They said I was a whore and I said fuck off. It felt kind of great for a while and, with a temporary solution in place, I worked on becoming immune to their insults. I got the thickest skin–it was like that mithril armor Bilbo gets in the Hobbit. Bitch got devalued to the same meaning as idiot. The word rape became the same as going for a walk. And if being told I was probably really ugly was as bad as the insult got, I was actually happy that they didn’t hit anything really personal that would actually sting a bit.

I never realized how sad this was until I started to really follow the Feminist Frequency thing last year. For those who don’t know, she got a lot of insults and a lot of extreme hatred for basically getting a lot of funding on Kickstarter to make educational videos. People made games of her being beat up, told her they’d kill and rape her, and the whole rest of the underbelly of the internet. Her first video released today and it was a pretty great watch–something I really enjoyed watching and learned from.

Unfortunately, it also reminded me of the entire debacle and that’s when I had this realization.

I realized that I had become numb to most internet trolling. I’ve experienced a lot of the abuse she has. And once I realized that, I realized a lot of women probably have experienced degrees of this. Then I realized A LOT of us are probably silent about it because we don’t want to be called names or give our aggressors any power. We don’t really want to look like we’ve let this experience define us, either.

Fuck that.

And fuck them.

It doesn’t define me, but it is a small part of me. It’s also one I’m not going to actively hide anymore: I have a lot of internet haters, primarily male, and almost always misogynistic. And while it doesn’t hurt anymore, they should be ashamed to harbor such disgusting beliefs and such a negative fixation on me.

They should also know that they can’t change the fact that I love video games. Call me a cum dumpster for it and tell me I should be raped and strangled in an alley–it won’t make my love for League of Legends, Left 4 Dead, or other games falter. Video games are amazing and they will continue to be amazing despite the dark side of its culture. They will continue to be amazing despite how sexist they can be. And hopefully in time they will continue to be amazing without the dark side and sexism. Because I think change is coming and I truly think in twenty years or so it won’t be something we just “tolerate” and “deal with.”

Because really, how many times can you be told to not have a feminine online handle? To not voice chat? That you were asking for it because you spoke, because you dated someone you played with, because you posted an online picture of yourself?

Maybe it won’t change in a year. Maybe it won’t change in five years. But it will change in my lifetime. And anyone who has called a woman a cum dumpster and believes that they’re truly above her–that she can’t be an equally skilled gamer because she’s a woman–will be in for a rude awakening when they finally see how much of a tiny, bitter vocal minority they really are.

And maybe if we’re lucky, they’ll learn what it’s like to have to be silenced. And when they complain about how women ruined everything that’s great in gaming, maybe we can just tell them to stop being so dramatic. To just get over it.

To learn that people are allowed to dislike them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do better things. Like do work because I have a job where I work on video game websites for a paid living. Huh… How did scaring me off from video games go for you guys again?

You’re the bomb and you blew up on me

by Ashelia. 1 Comment

As hard as it is to be the person who stays, it’s also hard to be the person who leaves.

It’s hard to be the estranged daughter. The ex-girlfriend. The former boss. The old classmate. The long lost best friend.

So it would be truly nice, a real kindness, if people could remember that for one minute out of every day. While you’re wallowing in self-pity and vacuous hatred, all I ask is put on a pair of my shoes. Today they are maroon Converses without laces, worn pretty well, with scuffs on the side. They are not the shoes of a murderous person who wants your life to suck and all your efforts to fail. They are just the shoes of a person who made a choice–and unfortunately for whatever reason you were not in it. They are the shoes of someone who is tired of being vilified by people she’s moved on from.

I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same

by Ashelia. 0 Comments

I have this really weird memory that “One Headlight” always brings back whenever I hear it.

I’m in the car. We’re driving by a cemetery and there are tall poplars lining the road. I have this thing when I go by a cemetery where I hold my breath, because I’m really young and I’m scared if I don’t we’ll die. I don’t know why I started doing it, but I’ve done it for years and now I’m furiously trying to hold my breath and it’s a really long stretch of road. “One Headlight” is playing. It’s eerily beautiful, full of a lot of metaphors and despair. My dad starts explaining the origin of the song and points out lines to listen to. It’s a deep song, he says. He starts with the opening line: “They said she died easy of a broken heart disease, I listened through the cemetery trees.” He explains it’s the funeral of someone and the song writer’s point of view is the man. He tells me how rich the imagery is. I stop listening to him–and the song–because I’m trying so hard to hold my breath. Finally I let it all out, the cemetery goes on forever and lines both sides of the road. I wonder briefly if we’ll all die, like the woman in the song, because I didn’t hold my breath. We don’t, the car moves past the cemetery and its endless poplars, and the Wallflowers keep singing. I grew up a bit that day, because I learned that superstitions are just superstitions and cemeteries are just plots of land where we bury dead bodies.

But I still catch myself holding my breath sometimes when I go by a cemetery.

You knew in five minutes but I knew in a sentence

by Ashelia. 0 Comments

So, well, it’s 2013.

I’m not really sure how I feel. I think cautiously optimistic is probably the best way to describe my outlook on this year. Last year wasn’t a bad year and I don’t want my lack of enthusiasm to be mistaken for misgivings about last year. I thought a lot about it and I’ve decided it was a good year: I changed people’s lives, I worked out more, I moved on from my childhood abuse, I got my company to invest in League of Legends resulting in LolKing (which has been such a rewarding experience for me–professionally and personally), and I fell for someone which is something that hadn’t happened for five years.

But there’s nothing really tangible to latch onto and define as 2012. I love to organize things by one solid emotion that prevailed throughout the year for some reason. I’m a dork like that. 2011 is the year I got my best job (two years in February!), 2010 is where I moved and stepped out of the abyss, 2009 is my great depression, 2008 is my first job in the gaming industry, 2007 is my 4.0 college year and photography experimental year, 2006 is my hardcore gaming and drop out of college year. These things, they fit neatly in my memory banks in a drawer in the corner and define everything…

So 2012 is just like, well, I lived. And I did pretty decently at living. And that’s cool, I guess, but I’d like more.

I would like to work on the following throughout the year:

  • Work out more, I want to start running daily by June
  • Be calmer, work on my attitude in gaming and other high stress situations
  • Be less critical of myself; analyze when I am being hyperbolic and harsh on myself and then proceed to STOP
  • Start photography again
  • Begin to plan to move, move by 2014 (either out of state, city, or at least to a new neighborhood)

They’re not really do or die resolutions. I mean, they actually are; I want them really badly. But they’re not like “get a job,” “get married,” or anything pronounced. Instead I just want to work on being nicer to Rhea and treating Rhea right, because I think I forget to do that a lot–I think I take myself for granted and don’t see how much I can impact my own moods–and I’m sick of being a teenager emotionally. Like really sick of it, because being perpetually sixteen emotionally is so exhausting, and while it’s really refreshing to acknowledge that, I now need to work on it.

I’ve spent enough time licking my wounds. It’s time to let them become faint scars now. They’ve healed–and this year should recognize that appropriately. Now all I have to do is live it and see.

Well I don’t know, but I’ve been told, you’ll never die and you’ll never grow old

by Ashelia. 3 Comments

Growing up is so incredibly weird. Sometimes I can close my eyes and see the girl who used to wear really dark eyeliner, singing along to “Karma’s Payment” by Modest Mouse in her friend’s basement after drinking vodka for the first time. Other times, I realize that was ten years ago and I have no clue who that girl was.

I couldn’t see her today when I realized that I want to have a kid.

Not now of course. I’m not one of those awesome people who is so mature in their mid-twenties that they can have a child. I mean, I still rage quit League of Legends and I really hate doing my dishes and I forget to check my mail all the time and I can’t mop floors well. I should probably fix one or two of those things (along with finding a husband, buying a house, and tons of other Really Adult Things That Terrify Me that we won’t go into).

But I want to have a kid. Someday.

I’m not really sure what’s changed. A few years ago I was so anti-child it was disgusting. Moreover, I was proud I wasn’t going to be a mother. I looked down on people who had kids in their late teens or early twenties because I was never going to have one and I was never going to contribute to our planet’s overpopulation.

But, like I said, now I want to have a kid.

I guess this means that the angry twenty year old Rhea’s mostly left my blood stream and that she’ll be gone by the time I’m thirty completely. For years though, she’d convinced me that she’d never want kids. She’d never want to get married. She’d never actually grow up.

For years, that anger was palatable. It fueled me. It made me feel alive, like really alive–the only thing tying me to this planet and this life.

Then one day on Christmas Eve, I’m browsing Reddit and reading about a guy who got his kid a DSi for Christmas and I find myself thinking I should do that–when I have a kid, you know.

This thought almost doesn’t phase me. In fact, I realize I’ve been having it a lot lately. That’s the thought that does phase me, though, mostly because it’s so honest and natural it feels overwhelming. A complete departure my entire belief system I constructed years ago out of brick and mortar and other permanent fixtures that weren’t meant to change five years later on a whim.

I guess, though, they do change. And maybe that’s why growing up is so incredibly weird.

No matter where we are, we’re always touching by underground wires

by Ashelia. 1 Comment

Maybe your mid-twenties is an awful time to realize that relationships consist of two people.

That your hurt isn’t uniquely yours. That there’s someone else who has feelings as well. That their feelings matter equally–no more, no less–to yours. That it’s not alright to just react to your feelings in a vacuum. That they’re only human, just like you, and aren’t infallible.

It’s an awful time because it’s something people often get after their first high school relationship. But all these years and a handful of relationships and somehow I never learned it; I always felt like I was an island, caught up in my emptiness and completely isolated in a sea of love. I turned that isolation into emotional distance. So many people have loved me and I’ve loved a couple of them back, I know that, but my love was always broken and faulty and conflicted. Maybe it’s because my dad used to abuse me, maybe it’s because I play video games and I’m emotionally immature, or maybe it’s just because I wasn’t ready.

Like I said, maybe your mid-twenties is an awful time to realize that relationships consist of two people.

But it’s better late than never, right?

While I’m at it, so this post just isn’t intensely awkward and personal, here are some songs I have listened to a lot lately:

Placebo – “Meds”How it mattered to us, how it mattered to me, and the consequences / I was confused by the birds and the bees, forgetting if I meant it
The National – “About Today”You just walked away and I just watched you / What can I say? / How close am I to losing you?
Of Montreal – The Past is a Grotesque AnimalSomehow you’ve red-rovered the gestapo circling my heart / And nothing can defeat you / No death, no ugly world

I’m starting to suspect she likes abuse

by Ashelia. 11 Comments

Following Katie’s post, but expanding it to why there A) aren’t enough women in the gaming industry and also why there B) aren’t enough women gamers in general.

As a “hardcore” gamer and someone with five years in the gaming industry, with the additional qualification of being someone with a pair of breasts, I’ve seen a lot of sexist shit. I’ve also been a part of a lot of it, largely because it became a coping mechanism; it’s not exactly an unknown phenomenon for women to hate other women in order to fit in with the guys. Far from my best moments, but it is what it is.

Anyway, this hashtag on Twitter took on a life of its own, explaining why there are not women in the gaming field and in gaming. And here’s why there aren’t enough of us:

  • Because if people find out I’m a female in a public game in League of Legends, 25% of the time someone hits on me; 25% of the time someone calls me a whore (or another sexist slur); and 50% of the time people don’t care. It should not be 50/50.
  • Because you are a e-slut until proven otherwise.
  • Because my old boss from my former company freely called me a bitch. If I didn’t like a proposal? I was being bitchy. If I questioned anything? I was too headstrong and too much of a bitch.
  • Because I’m afraid to admit that–because I’m scared it makes me look bad, like I caused it or that maybe I am a “bitch.”
  • Because my old boss from my former company once said “Come to Greece” and when I said I was worried about the rape percentages, he literally said, verbatim, “Just don’t wear anything that’s asking for it.”
  • Because my coworkers laughed at that and made jokes frequently at the expense of my gender, and also because I had to laugh in response to fit in.
  • Because I’m ultra competitive and always have been, and that’s led to many people–even people meaning well–saying I should be more feminine and care less about my score/abilities. That’s “for the guys.”
  • Because when a woman nerdrages, she’s being “a royal cunt” and “probably obese,” but when a guy nerdrages, it’s for the lulz.
  • Because you are not “like those other gamer girls.”

It’s stupid–sexism is, I mean. It feels like it doesn’t need to be said, because to me it’s just my life and I live it and I deal with it. But it does need to be said because it needs to stop someday and it will never stop if people don’t openly talk about it. I mean, just the other day someone complimented me by saying I was surprisingly good at League of Legends and that he’d assumed I would be bad because I was a woman.

And what was worse was, for a brief second, I honestly felt complimented before I felt outraged.

Girl, look at that body

by Ashelia. 0 Comments

So this is short–and sweet–but I was realizing the other day that there are people who will always belittle you, interlacing detraction with their compliments. It’s called negging. A good example might be someone saying you’d look prettier if you wore X or Y, if you smiled more, if you did your eyeliner differently. They’re essentially saying you’re attractive, but here’s how you could be better, and because you aren’t better, you’re not as good.

Anyway, here’s something people don’t like to tell other people: they do this for everything. So when someone comes up to you and says your website is cool, but here’s its major flaw, just read between the lines. What they’re saying is they love your site and they wish they had made it. They want to be a part of it. They’re trying to take your power away. And maybe their suggestion is good–I mean, I know I’d look prettier if I smiled all the time–but don’t delude yourself into hearing only their critique. Hear the praise they won’t say because they are afraid.

Don’t let people belittle you–or rather, if they do, don’t let it stick to you. If they’re belitting you in the first place, it means you’re doing something right.