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Let Me 'Splain. No, There is Too Much; Let Me Sum Up
Etna
oraxia
So it turns out I'm really good at disappearing from the internet ^^;; Ahahaha, oops.

Well, where to start? Okay, before it gets all tl;dr up in here, if you've moved since you last received a piece of snail mail from me and want to be part of whatever holiday card madness I manage to pull off this year, send me your updated mailing address! My time management skills have declined to some pretty awful depths, but I'm definitely going to try and get cards out ._. (Insert obligatory Yoda quote here.) Hoo-boy. Oh, and I'm still seeing Carmen :) Things are going fairly well there, actually ^_^ (Maybe more on that later.)

I went to LA towards the end of August for a weekend with the coaster crew (Eva, her fiance Brandon, & Oscar) at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and dang, they have WAY better coasters than Six Flags Discovery Kingdom up here T_T And more of them! I'm jealous of the folks who can easily day trip to this park, seriously. Carmen didn't come with us because he gets motion sickness at pretty much the drop of a hat. I doubt he'd have survived the 5-hour drive there, and I had taken him to Discovery Kingdom on one of my bring-a-friend-free days and put him on a loop-less coaster at his insistence (didn't want to ride a kiddie coaster, didn't want loops... so that put us on a wooden coaster that I personally liked... but which in retrospect was not a good introductory ride). Let's just say that while he admirably did not lose any lunch, he had a massive headache and was a tinge green for a couple of hours afterwards :/ So when it's coaster time, he stays home.

Having just four of us is actually really convenient, though, for riding purposes, as most rides are either 4 to a row or 2 to a row, so it worked out for the best with Carmen staying home and me just texting him photos of the coasters and describing them in "terrifying" detail, with the occasional fake protest from his end of "Hey, I'm trying to eat my lunch here!" :) Apparently there was a moment of silliness on the first coaster we rode (Viper) where during a set of loops, I commented to Oscar (my usual coaster buddy, seeing as Eva and Brandon are engaged and we can both handle more coaster time than they can) that, hey, these were nicely done, easy loops. And apparently I said it in some kind of very calm-sounding voice that carried in a way that made it sound like some kind of narration over the ride, so Eva and Brandon could hear me in the back and they all thought it was hilarious, and that I should review coasters :P Wouldn't that be a fun thing to blog about?! Except I really don't ride enough coasters to make it work, so alas, it probably won't happen. Even if I do love reviewing stuff, if my Yelp profile is any indication ^^;; (Viper is truly a nice little ride, though.) But there are a couple of coasters there that truly deliver on that gut twist you have approaching the initial drop (click click click), where you start to get a bit nervous about the (hopefully) impending thrill; I can't really say that about anything at Discovery Kingdom. (Twisted Collossus and X2, btw. The first drop on TC delivers solidly, and the X2 drop is fun because you're spinning around independently of the connection point to the track.) Scream was another good one, and Batman the ride is just a nice smooth ride (I like it the way I like Medusa at Discover Kingdom--just really smooth loops and a good time). Riddler is possibly the first "standing" ride I've done, and it's a little awkward (the crotch wedge comes up to meet you with more resistance than either of us girls had weight at the time, and we're neither of us "petite"), but outside of the weirdness of initial strap-in, it's a decent ride as well, with fun flavor decor. Apocalypse had too long a wait for too little fulfillment, but they had the Halloween decorations and theme-ing up, which was neat. Full Throttle was more amusing for the operator than for the actual ride (it launches you at like 70mph out of the gate to make that enormous loop, and she tricked the some people on the departing car ahead of us by saying, "who wants a count down, raise your hand!" and then launching the lot of them as soon as several of them shot their hand up XD Classic! I may have gotten de-hyped about the ride because of the OMG-SO-X-TREME!!! hyping attempts with the video screen they have displayed to the line as they wait for it, which features all kinds of extreme sports things (surfing, snowboarding jumps, etc.) and has that overarching narration about pain and continuing to go in spite of it and all that... Because dude, those are all a LOT more extreme than sitting (safely strapped and buckled) in the convertible version of a miniature high speed train and doing literally nothing to propel myself or even exert myself. I mean... that whole pain rhetoric doesn't even make sense in this case, because they design these things to not cause pain (more on that later, though). The pain quotes were all for athletic endeavors, not stuffing my face full of over-priced garlic fries and sitting pretty in a vehicle :/ Way to suck the "extreme" feeling out of the coaster, advertising team :( Green Lantern was something I got excited about in theory, because I'd liked the spinning mechanic on X2 and it's just such an unusual design, but that one is badly designed. I ended up with a giant welt from the vinyl harness (I wore a tank top because it was really hot during the day) and a big bruise on the front of both of my shoulders from the sheer force of the jerks every time the carriage changed directions (which is a lot on this ride). Only ride in the park I would advise against, really, which is a shame because I think the concept was really imaginative (apropos for Green Lantern's character), but the execution was dismal and possibly even dangerous. Brandon got the wind knocked out of him on one of the turns, probably because of where the lower part of the harness sits on him (he's like 6 foot tall or something, and the rest of us are short Asians and an Asian half-breed), and I think Eva and Oscar got both bruises, too, and one bonked their head against something. Really badly designed :( I remember I also didn't bother with the Superman one (it was loud as heck), mostly because it had too long of a line and ultimately looked like a snooze-fest to me--it just goes straight up and down really fast. Yawn :/ Also, Sunday was awesome because there weren't that many people there, so we got to ride coasters over and over without having to wait in line so long, and that was fabulous :D

Then in October, the aforementioned Vegas trip with Carmen and his group happened. With a ridiculously expensive and kind of frivolous dinner, where we discovered that Carmen really, really dislikes foie gras and my vegetarian versions of stuff was chock full of delicious real truffle shavings ♥ And I totally went to do the construction equipment thing, and dragged Carmen along, and while he didn't think he was going to enjoy it that much, I think he had fun :P We also went to KA by Cirque du Soleil and Penn & Teller, whom I've never seen live before (and someone had some kind of medical emergency towards the end of the show right before the bullet catching bit). But since we were there with the foodies, the overarching theme appeared to be... SO MUCH FOOD. Wow. Some of which got Carmen super sick one night we were there, but otherwise, things were pretty cool. (Some pretty good eats, too!) Got to see a bunch of the sights on the strip, like the Bellagio fountains, the Mirage volcano, and the Venetian's indoor Venice-replica mall (complete with singing gondoliers, it was pretty hilarious--one started belting out "When the Moon Hits Your Eye" as he gondola'd past us with his passengers). And there was a giant chocolate fountain :D I was not at all prepared for how smoky and... odd... the casinos were, though. And for the sake of saying I've done it, I fed a $20 bill into a machine in the casino and watched it disappear exactly as I predicted :P (They were all pretty much playing video poker, although I think maybe Darsen went to a Blackjack table?) Carmen actually won like $50, though, which he used to take me to dinner one night, and Travis won something like $200, so he took the whole group to lunch :) I'm glad not everyone has my lousy luck, LOL ^^;;

Most of my time management woes I have brought upon myself, because I keep devoting away recurring chunks of time (like weekday nights) to things like rock climbing (which I enjoy and is technically good for me, but is taking up a butt-ton of my outside-of-work time, and I miss it). I keep doing stuff, or just giving up a whole weekend to laze about with Carmen. He's much more introverted than, I think, anyone I've ever dated (...yeah, at least half of my dating history has been extroverts, actually), and that's been taking a lot of adjustment for me. I'm used to being able to sling myself at things constantly, and I kind of wonder if I'm doing a lot of that on purpose, to try and distract myself from being a bit depressed about my stress (and work) situation and continuing inability to sleep well, and also to try and intentionally exhaust myself in the hopes that I'll actually just sleep because I'll pass out or something. He's more of a homebody, enjoys staying in and practicing playing the piano (which he's been doing for almost 30 years, so since he was a child), watching movies (he's a bit of a video-phile), playing games (board games and/or video games), and lately experimenting in the kitchen (partly my influence/fault). After I signed us up for a sourdough class way back when we first started dating, he's been teaching himself to bake bread and is getting pretty good at it :) In fact, we made a really good pair of pizzas together last weekend, where he did most of the dough stuff (I supervised and helped with even distribution of toppings, LOL). Travis and I also introduced him to cold-brewing coffee (he didn't drink much coffee before), and watching Alton Brown on Netflix (so he's making a bunch of homemade granola bars and we make fresh, stove-popped popcorn for our movie/TV nights at home now, which is awesome and way better than microwave popcorn--try it out). While I don't think Carmen will ever want to convert to vegetarianism (and that does make me a little sad, because it would be nice to have someone who shares my view on that), he's really a lot more open to eating vegetarian food than some guys I've dated in the past *cough*Pavel*cough*, and that's honestly the best I can hope for in pretty much any guy. A part of me gets a little frustrated with his home-body-ness at times (I guess I get cabin-fever quickly), but on the other hand, I think he slows me down in the good way; I throw myself head-long into things perhaps unnecessarily (or stupidly), and I do need to learn to stop and just take some chill time. He's coming home to Hawaii with me for Christmas, because he was planning to come to Hawaii for Christmas this year anyway (almost all his friends here are Hawaii ex-pats, and now his girlfriend, too), so he figured he'd just stay with me... and my parents. If he survives my mother, he's a keeper. (Although her cooking will probably make him really happy--they eerily like some of the same things.)

Sleep problems still suck, but Carmen bought me a fancy foam pillow (same one he has) in an attempt to help, and while I don't know that it helps with me sleeping better, I've noticed less shoulder pain, so that's great :) Also, I bought some blue light filtering glasses from JINS on a recommendation from Ann, who got a pair in Japan (although I think she got hers from Zoff's or something with a similar name). They arrived yesterday, so I'm hoping to try them out this afternoon after I get home and see if they start helping. My optometrist is intrigued as to whether it will make a noticeable difference, at any rate. So far, the sleep app (Sleep Cycle?) that I have on my phone seems to think the most effective thing I've tried is knitting before bed, but that requires time before bed, so I kind of suspect it's the having time before bed (combined with the meditative quality of the act of knitting) that is making the real impact. I probably need more data points--it still thinks that drinking coffee and/or tea in the evening is having a positive effect on my sleep, so I kind of wish they had some kind of certainty rating or something for each sleep note or at least a display of how many points of data you have for that sleep note, because just one or two points is totally not reliable (which is what I've got on the neroli oil, but I just don't like the smell so I'm leaving it in it's awful state on the charts so I can convince my mother to not make me keep trying it until it either works or kills me, which appears to be her m.o. for anything she believes "should" help me with whatever problems).

The last thing on my mind, though, is that Kerry was entertaining the idea of doing NaNoWriMo this past month and had asked if I'd be interested. I, of course, told her the whole idea was crazy pants for either of us given that she just recently popped out kid #2 in July and I was struggling for enough time to do laundry, but mentioned that if she was going through with it, she should ping Max (who's my current Tuesday & Thursday climbing partner when he's not on emergency trips to Miami). He did some awesome creative writing for his D&D character for that D&D campaign that I may never actually be able to pull together. Sigh ._. I liked his writing, though, is the point I was originally trying to make before I quickly derailed myself, haha. She eventually realized that, yeah, she just wasn't going to have the time to devote to it while caring for an infant and a rambunctious 4-year-old, so neither of us ended up going for it. And then I thought some about what I probably would have written, and really, how I'm constantly getting ideas that I want to either write down or draw for stories and such. I have a lot of source material sitting around mostly-formed in my head that I could actually sit down and write. And Max was saying how I guess the guy who wrote The Martian was actually a programmer or other tech worker who was writing that story in his spare time based on his sheer love of the technology and such involved. (I have only seen the movie, and let me tell you, that guy is ridiculously upbeat for someone in his situation. Whoa.) Technically, according to Max, it's not outlandish that I (or anyone) could write something on the side, assuming I made time for it, was disciplined, and had good beta and editing from friends etc.

It's not that I don't want to write or draw, I just never make time for it, and I also realized that I'm kind of afraid to do it at this point in time. A lot of the stuff I read now comes from blogs like The Mary Sue, where there is a lot of discussion of feminism and diversity, which I like trying to become more informed about. I like to think being a half-breed and not entirely white gives me some kind of leg to stand on, but let's face it: I white-pass like whoa. Most people (esp. those not from places like Hawaii with a lot of mutts and hapa-haole folk) would never guess I had a drop of Asian blood. And I actually don't have terribly diverse experiences--I pretty much grew up under a very intentionally white-washed (by my well-intentioned mother) rock. There's stuff being said in recent times about how it doesn't make sense for white writers to be writing ethnic stories, but yet the push for diversity seems to mean writers should be writing from multiple cultural and ethnic sources; is it okay if I try to write people from cultures I know next to nothing about? Even with research, I feel like that would be hard to pin down accurately, so would it be worse to make the attempt and accidentally wade into a quagmire of stereotype? I mean, I had a couple of friends who were African American (is that even still an okay term these days?) when I was little, but other than that, I really don't know anyone right now, and it seems to me that it would be a little superficial to specifically seek out new friends of other races just to try and be more "diverse." Especially for purposes of writing fantasy? (...They really weren't any different from any of my other friends to my recollection, to boot.) Also, with respect to the gender and sexuality spectrum, I really, really have limited understanding (possibly making me sound awful, since I live in the Bay Area, where it's probably not hard to find people open about being outside of the traditionally recognized genders and sexuality). I read stuff, and I have some basic comprehension, but I don't necessarily "get it." (Or even "get" what it is I'm supposed to "get." I'm lost.) Would my perspective have any validity outside of my limited (and decidedly white-skewed, able-bodied, and cis-gendered) experiences? Honestly, the more I read, the more I get the uncomfortable feeling that I, personally, am part of the diversity problem... even though I'm at least ethnically mixed. And I don't know how to reconcile that, or really make it better in a meaningful way, because it seems like anytime someone white, cis-gendered, and able-bodied tries to do something to help out, it ends up making things worse :/ And a lot of the stories I want to write would use fantasy races, so I feel like I'd probably walk into stereotyping problems or maybe seem like I was just plain avoiding "real" diversity by doing so :( In truth, I just really like making up cultures and races and places :/ (And cyborgs. When I get old and things stop working, I kind of really want to become a geriatric cyborg.) Even with my inability to write about a lot of the goings-on (like fashion, because I am a completely tasteless rube). But is that because I'm avoiding things? I don't know. There's a whole ball of stuff I'm becoming increasingly afraid of there. So yeah, while I may continue to do my D&D thing because I do eventually want enough of a world defined to campaign in sensibly, maybe not so much with the writing coming from a sheltered, vanilla/normal person like me :/

So anyhow, that's what's up with me lately. (To be fair, I did mention it was going to get tl;dr.)
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Sounds like at least not-work is pretty interesting. I think a foodie tour of Vegas would be pretty nice, though I would fear for my waistline... And driving construction equipment sounds like fun. Also, I can't remember the last time I went to a theme park, since there basically aren't any in Hawaii.

As for diversity and writing, well, can a woman know what a man feels? Or vice versa? Is that really something that should stop someone from writing opposite sex characters? Certainly writing about things of which you don't know can lead to issues, but I think people tie themselves in knots over stuff in a silly way. I think humans are fundamentally more similar than different, that what we search for in good writing is something about the human experience whether it is African writing or American writing or Japanese writing. Striving to accurately depict that is good but being afraid to try due to fear of accidentally offending someone is probably not helpful. So I say, charge on!

BTW, I sent you a message so you can send me a card, make sure to get me your address so I can send you one too!

I don't know if I could do much with writing. Also I'm totally lazy and can't keep track of time. (writes 19 pages of essay into one LJ post making everyone else feel like they aren't doing anything with their lives)

YOU'RE THE WORST

I'm definitely not the right person to judge who can have the right opinions on diversity and things. But if you're not sure where you personally stand in the whole debate, maybe that's what you should try writing about? Write about not knowing the fine lines between different identifiers of race and gender or whatever? And, not to dredge up too much other drama, but I'm guessing that your relationship with your mother might give you some seeds for talking about identities.

I occasionally check The Toast for light-hearted feminist joking.

I think you still have my address in Pasadena. Did you ever find a house?

Edited at 2015-11-28 12:45 am (UTC)

Magic Mountain is the best! Sadly, the last time I went was with my high school physics class on a pre-graduation field trip; we had to analyze the physics of all the rides we went on and turn in some reports, but nobody took the work seriously. Come to think of it, KC was in my 5-man splinter team.

Your comment on Viper is great, because it's exactly what I think when I go on that ride: nicely done loops. My personal favorite is Revolution; just has 1 loop (perfect for introducing loops to scared newbies) and the actual course is scenic, well-paced, and long; you feel like you get your wait time's worth.

Most insane ride I ever went on though was Disneyland teacups....when you got 4 insane guys pulling on the center wheel with all their might trying to get the cup to spin as fast as possible, it is the most intense experience ever. None of us could walk straight for an hour after that.

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