Two weeks ago my therapist tried to ask me what it might feel like to live in one room versus living in a whole house. I didn’t understand what she meant, even though the analogy is apt enough for what she wanted. I told her that I have always lived in all the rooms, that I’ve never been good at filling one and living within the boundaries of it. My mind paces. It never stops. I’m not sure I’d want it to.
What she really wanted to know, though, as we figured out, was the difference for me between being and inhabiting. That’s a stickier wicket and a harder question to answer. I’ve been trying to answer it myself for at least the last five years, but it’s something I was kicking around long before that. Long before I wrote the words:
You miss the way every little thing used to speak up and tell you that you were still here.
Am I still here? And if not, where am I? Does it even matter?
Friday I got home from work and couldn’t stand to be with myself, so I changed my shoes and went back out for a walk. I shoved my hands in the pockets of my jacket and thought about what I was feeling, trying to pinpoint its brother feeling to see if I could find my way back to feeling like me. I think it was homesickness. Or something akin to homesickness.
Not necessarily for a place, though I think more and more about moving back to Florida and what it would mean for my future. If I would return as a failure who gave up or as someone who has learned about herself and is ready to move on. What would I move on to? What else is there?
I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. And I’m going to have to go back to my therapist tomorrow empty handed, with nothing but a couple of old poems and some snippets of the cyberpunk to show for this hollow personhood. Not that I haven’t been working on it. I have. I’ve written something every day. Some of the ruminations are long, many of them are unweildy. The shortest and most succinct of them reads:
Being is feeling your heart where it’s buried in your chest.
Inhabiting is thinking that the echo is coming from the floorboards.
And on some levels, forget who I am, I’m still stuck on why I am. Why are any of us? Why are some people love and some people fear and some people hope and some people violence? Why are some people messy and splattered in all of it? Is it better to be simple or complicated? Is it a virtue to know?
I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. This knowledge alludes me and taunts me. So I sit down with my paper and pen and try again.
Being is accepting the future as a promise, a dimension through which we all pass with no fault or hurry. To allow yourself to feel the weight of it. It is coming and it is welcome.
Inhabiting is pretending, like every new day is a happy surprise, like your time resets when you wake, living twenty-four hours at a time and defying the people who would love you to save them the trouble, to save yourself.
I’ve finally figured out the litmus test for whether I’m going to
like a het ship or not. And also the explanation for why I never cared
for CS and have liked it less and less the further it develops.
it’s less of a test and more of a thought experiment: take the
characters as they are on screen, and then mentally gender swap their
roles. Give all the man’s dialogue and actions to the woman and all the
woman’s to the man. And then imagine how you’d feel about it.
if Emma had pursued Hook the way he pursued her. Imagine if, before
they were even friends, she’d declared, ‘When I win your heart, and I
*will* win it.’ Imagine if, despite the fact he’d expressed no interest
in being with either her or Tink, she’d told him he had to choose between them . Or if she’d watched him through a spy glass after he’d
given her the brush-off. Imagine if she’d made leering innuendos to his father while she was pursuing him.
only two ways that sort of pursuit of a man by a woman ever gets played
- as a joke on her (usually became she’s ‘hilariously’ unattractive and
a fool for thinking the man might be interested) or as the start of a
Fatal Attraction style stalker thriller.
How about if Hook
had spent as much time crying over Emma as she spends crying over him.
What would the fandom think of it all then? Or if she reacted with anger and petulance every time she was thwarted. Would fandom call her a bitch? Come on, you know it would.
Or how about if Emma asked Hook’s mother’s
permission to marry him before even talking to him about it? Then got
down on one knee to propose. Imagine if Hook had been all giddy and
giggly after she did it, if he’d gone around showing off the ring to all his friends.
here’s another one. Imagine if Dark Swan had met Milah. Can you picture
Emma telling Milah that she was going to return Killian to her, ‘soiled,
but alive’? No, I can’t either.
Wait, there’s more! What if, for his first date with Emma, Killian ditched the leather for chinos and a Hawaiian shirt? And if, as their relationship went on, and she ‘broke down his walls’ he started wearing more and more pastels and maybe a fetching pair of pink crocs? It’s no big deal. It’s just that he’s so much more at ease with his masculinity since he’s been with Emma.
The truth is, the CS
relationship (along with quite a few others on TV) is strongly and
regressively gendered. And on a show that claims it’s telling a ‘modern’
fairy-tale, that’s just not a good look.
This time it’s Dean’s turn to make a few confessions, like how much Sam’s psychic powers scare him. Especially after another psychic kid “goes bad” and becomes a killer. Because that was the condition John warned him about, the one under which he’d be forced to kill Sam…
(which makes Meg’s possession of Sam, trying to force Dean’s hand, in 2.14 more of a test akin to Crowley testing Dean in 9.17. Just like the test of Sam himself in 2.09, whether he was immune to Croatoan virus. It’s all tests, in retrospect. And a big part of this is Dean’s “inability” to kill Sam even when presented with direct evidence that Sam has “turned evil” or whatever. Because the demons will use this against Dean again and again. It’s why Dean sells his soul for Sam, why he accepts working with Ruby for a while in s4. It’s the Grand Plan here.)
But Sam and Dean have a secret weapon to fight back: telling each other the damn truth. And at the end of the episode, it’s Ellen who moms them into it:
ELLEN: You mind your tongue with me, boy. This isn’t just your war, this is war. Now, something big and bad’s coming and it’s coming fast, and their side holds all the cards. Now, at best all we got is us. Together. No secrets or half-truths here.
(bonus: Andy pulling an Obi Wan on Dean and stealing Baby, and the look on Dean’s face when he drives away…)
(bonus bonus: More of Dean’s instincts being right, as usual. Yeah, Andy ended up killing someone– his own brother– by the end of the episode, but there’s a difference. Early in the episode:
SAM: The doctor was mind-controlled in front of a bus. Andy just happens to have the power of mind control. You do the math. DEAN: I just don’t think the guy’s got it in him, that’s all. SAM: Well, how the hell would you know? I mean, why are you bending over backwards defending him? DEAN: 'Cause you’re not right about this.
And then at the end:
SAM: Andy. He’s a killer after all. DEAN: No, he’s a hero. He saved his girlfriend’s life, he saved my life. SAM: Bottom line, last night, he wasted somebody. DEAN: Yeah, but he’s not a foaming-at-the-mouth psycho. He was just, he was pushed into that.
And I mean, yeah. But there’s people who kill, and then there’s killers.)
thinking about it, this week’s episode did a lot to dispel any remaining fear i had about a power imbalance or ulterior motives in victor and yuuri’s relationship, and it’s basically because of one line.
because remember, we’ve only very recently started to hear victor’s internal dialogue, and it told us crucially here that this is exactly what victor was doing. not because of any malicious intent, sure; he was genuinely trying to help yuuri, and based on his own experiences, an extreme ultimatum like the one he presented to yuuri was the best that he could come up with. nonetheless, it was designed to manipulate yuuri in a way, to motivate him, to snap him out of his stress.
and the thing is, even in a very well done story, that’s what we might reasonably have expected to happen: yuuri, filled with a new drive not to lose victor, someone he admires immensely, as his coach/friend/partner, delivers a stunning performance and all is resolved. that’s just how the trope seems to go.
instead, yuuri immediately sees through what victor was doing, recognizes it as out of character for victor’s coaching style and how he treats yuuri in general, and calls him the fuck out on it, because yeah, that’s unhealthy, it’s not okay, and yuuri knows it, knows that he’s in and deserves a relationship with mutual honesty and respect.
regardless of his anxiety, his insecurities, this is not a relationship where yuuri is on thin ice, and it’s lovely to see.