Archive | November, 2011

My Twilight fanfic

19 Nov

I didn’t marry Edward Cullen until I was 32.

Married at 18? Are you fucking kidding me? Edward said we needed to be married to have sex, which was a crock of shit—not to mention a terrible reason for getting married young. We broke up when he proposed. It was hard on both of us, but instead of sitting in my room moping the year away, I decided to take some agency and find independence outside of my vampire ex-boyfriend. I told him that once I’d developed a stronger sense of self, I’d consider giving the whole dating thing another shot. (I wanted to play the field. Can you blame me?)

I hung out with Jacob for a while. We weren’t together in my mind, but he seemed to think so, and it was all way too intense. Yeah, the sex was awesome, but I’d had my fill of clingy, controlling men. Besides, he smelled like wet dog after a shower.

What I needed was to get out of Forks. As much as I liked dating, I knew that focusing on my education and career would be more beneficial in the long run. Wasn’t that what I’d told Edward? Aside from a few flings, I kept my hormones in check (read: masturbated A LOT) while attending Sarah Lawrence. After graduating, I decided to pursue my MA in psychology. I did so much personal growth away from Edward I was finally able to see how unhealthy our union had been. Maybe that’s why so many of my patients now are women who have been in abusive relationships.

But sometimes we make mistakes. When Edward and I reconnected, I was 30, very much a changed woman. And he seemed like a changed—er, vampire. He was mellower to be around, more able to control his instincts. Oh, and he was down to fuck. Yeah, we still had to do some serious talking about traditional values and all that, but he eventually came to see it my way. The sex was—well, OK, it wasn’t Jacob-level great, but it was close. And I really did love the Edward he had become. He respected all of my rules, including the “no watching me sleep” thing.

When he asked me to marry him, I said yes. Things had been great for so long: I truly believed we could make it work. But then came the wedding night, when all the intense cries of “I want to be with you forever” suddenly felt a lot more threatening. Yeah, I’d wanted to be a vampire back when I was an idiot teenager, but by this point, I knew there was more to life than eternal youth. And I hadn’t even hit my sexual peak!

The sex was where things really took a turn. Whatever self-control Edward had managed to teach himself went out the window. He was an animal: without the “sin” of premarital sex, he could really let go, and it wasn’t passionate or sexy. It was violent and awful. He broke the bed, tore pillows into feathers. All the trust he’d earned from me vanished, and when I woke up the next morning covered in bruises, I knew it was over. No matter how much he apologized, I couldn’t let it go. Violence was in his nature as a vampire, but that didn’t mean I had to stick around and see how it played out.

When I found out I was pregnant, I freaked, naturally. Who knew that was even a possibility? I wanted a kid—still do, in fact—but it was clear early on that this was no normal pregnancy. I gave it a couple weeks, waited to see how my body would react, and even in that short period of time I became weaker than I’d ever been. I could feel the fetus inside me, and as much as I wanted to bring it into the world, I couldn’t do it at the risk of my life. I told Edward about my decision—over the phone, because I couldn’t gauge what his reaction would be. He was surprisingly understanding, but I knew it was still wise to keep my distance.

I had Carlisle perform the abortion. It felt a little weird going to him—OK, a lot weird—but I couldn’t chance seeing a non-vampire doctor. I had no idea how the fetus was going to look, and I didn’t want to raise a lot of uncomfortable questions. Luckily, Carlisle was a total professional. He respected me in a way Edward never had, and he knew I was making the right choice for my future. I would have a kid when the time was right.

That’s why I’m writing this, actually. I guess that time is now. I’m living with someone now. Max. He’s not a vampire or a werewolf—turns out both of those are dealbreakers. He’s never treated me like his property or made decisions on my behalf. He’s never left me sore or broken. My vampire abortion left my uterus a little worse for wear, so we’re adopting just to be safe. And we’re naming our daughter Renée, after my mother. Max suggested “Rendrea,” a combination of Renée and Andrea, his mother’s name. I told him that was fucking stupid, and once he said it again out loud, he was inclined to agree. We had a good laugh.

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And I’m tripping over my joy

13 Nov

And I say there’s trouble when everything is fine
The need to destroy things creeps up on me every time
— Rilo Kiley, “The Absence of God”

You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so you go ahead and drop it yourself. This is a stupid way of saying it, maybe, but it’s true. When you feel like things are bound to go from bad to worse, you push them in that direction. It’s not that you like feeling shitty—though maybe you do, a little—but more that you like being in control. And the best way to ensure the universe isn’t conspiring against you is to go ahead and conspire against yourself.

That’s absurd. That’s ass-backwards thinking. That’s telling yourself you’re never really happy because you don’t ever let yourself be really happy.

One of the things you do in therapy is break down your irrational thoughts with evidence to support the thought and evidence that doesn’t support the thought. Ideally, you realize that what you’ve accepted as fact is actually a major distortion, and probably everyone doesn’t hate you a lot, or even a little! But the problem with being a little self-destructive is that you create a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies. You worry people are going to leave you so you push them away. You’re certain something is wrong, so you make sure that something is.

You talk back to yourself a lot, not in a schizo way. (Sometimes you even write blog posts in the second person, because that’s not totally played out or anything.) The more you remind yourself that you’re mucking shit up for the sake of mucking it up, the less you’ll do it, hopefully. It doesn’t always work that way, but hey, there’s no harm in trying. You are too self-aware, too adept at navel-gazing, which just makes it more frustrating when you can’t change your own habits. You think, “Here is a thing that I shouldn’t do!” while you are doing it.

You treat everything like a scab you can’t stop picking. (There’s a visual for you!) You pick at it: “Are we OK?” And you pick at it: “Are you sure we’re OK?” And you pick at it: “I’m sorry for asking if we’re OK.” If you bug them about it enough, even those people who validate you will eventually get sick of it. Not because you’re awful, but because any reasonable person would. Maybe stop picking, then? Maybe just let it be? People will probably like you more if you stop asking them if they like you.

When you watch A&E’s Obsessed, you realize that you could have things way worse. But you also take comfort in the therapists saying, “Thinking something doesn’t make it true.” You have the power to control yourself, even when you can’t control your thoughts. You might not be able to turn off the feelings, but you can stop yourself from acting on them. And most importantly, you can live with life’s uncertainties, fully aware that just because things can get worse, doesn’t mean that they will.

Besides, shit hits the fan often enough without you having to throw it in there yourself. (There’s an even better visual. You’re welcome.)

With fans like these

12 Nov

Hi, I’m a fan! I’m a writer and a critic, sure, but I’m always a fan. I have a good sense of humor about it, because yes, fandom is often ridiculous. But I try not to poke fun of it too much, because I’ve always been more on the fringes of fandom than an active participant.

That’s why I always feel a little awkward when TV series break the fourth wall and acknowledge the fans: it’s one thing to knowingly wink at your audience, and another to mock them ruthlessly. These people might be eccentric, but they’re the ones keeping your show alive. And while it’s easy to look down on them from your position as that awesome thing they admire, it’s more than a little bit shitty. Supernatural has done a great job at meta-humor, but the character of Becky Rosen (of course she’s Jewish) has always rubbed me the wrong way. And that was before the November 11 episode “Season 7, Time for a Wedding,” in which she drugged Sam, forced him to marry her, then held him captive once the spell wore of.

Now, bear with me, people who don’t watch Supernatural: I’m hoping to keep this general enough to interest those who aren’t under the Winchester brothers’ thrall. But to give a little background, Becky is Supernatural‘s fan-within-Supernatural. Long story short—the prophet Chuck chronicled Sam and Dean’s adventures in a series of books, creating a vocal online community of fans who argued over the better Winchester (Dean, obvs) and wrote fanfic, much of it Sam/Dean. (“They know we’re brothers, right?”) Fans of the Supernatural book series are basically fans of the TV show Supernatural, except they don’t know who Jared Padalecki is, and that’s a pity for them.

While I give the series credit for embracing its fans with such an unconventional story, Supernatural sure does love crapping all over them. The fans on the show reflect some fans of the show: they’re intense, deluded, often unable to distinguish fiction from reality. I’ve been to Comic-Con a few times, so yeah, I know these people exist. I also know that there are far more grounded fans, those who can appreciate (and yes, sometimes obsess) over the series without being completely fucking deranged. They don’t write love letters to the characters. They don’t spend 18 hours a day glued to fan forums. They don’t go weeks without showering. (If you’ve been to Comic-Con, you’ll note that some fans definitely do. These people are giving the rest of us a bad name.)

It’s easy to lump the unwashed masses together with the rest of the diehard fans, but it’s unfair. More importantly, it’s really mean. Who cares if socially awkward people find solace in a TV show about angels and demons and homoerotic subtext? If anything, Supernatural should be thanking its cult following for keeping it alive. This is a series that is neither critically adored nor popular in the ratings department. I enjoy it, but I watch more out of fannish dedication than out of any obligation as a critic. I’m pretty sure I could give up on The CW entirely and still be able to comment fairly on television by most critics’ standards. (Don’t worry, America’s Next Top Model. I would never do you like that.) By which I mean, screw the pretension that labels Mad Men and Breaking Bad the only shows worth watching, but know that it exists, and that the fans are what keep most genre shows going.

Back to Friday night’s episode of Supernatural. Becky, easily the most devoted of Supernatural fans, makes a deal with a demon for a love spell that will force Sam into marrying her. Never mind the awful implications (there is no actual rape, she mentions offhand, but it’s still pretty horrifying)—the suggestion is that there are fans like Becky who would kill (perhaps quite literally) to get their hands on the Winchester boys.

I know how over-the-top fandom can be. Don’t even get me started on those fans who reject Jared Padalecki’s and Jensen Ackles’ marriages to other people, because oh my God, they’re so in love with each other. But when you give the fans a point of identification in Becky, you’re implying that they are all like this—that we are all like this. Because fuck, I have never written a single page of Supernatural fanfic, but Becky is still the character I relate most to. Whether or not her actions were redeemed by episode’s end, “Season 7, Time for a Wedding!” was an overwhelmingly ugly portrayal of fandom. Becky is called “pathetic” and ugly. Despite being an adult woman, she’s reduced to the role of a little girl playing dress-up. And all because she had the audacity to connect with a piece of pop culture!

Maybe you don’t watch Supernatural, but there’s a good chance you’re a fan of something. And if you’re a fan of anything offbeat or under-the-radar or even remotely geeky, you know it’s not always easy. Sure, in this day and age, outing yourself as a Trekkie isn’t going to cost you much social clout, but you’re still going to have to deal with a lot of ignorant assholes and damaging stereotypes. I’m not saying Supernatural and series like it should stop having fun with fan culture, because there’s a lot of material there. But seriously guys, show your audience a little respect. I’m not trying to be a sourpuss. I love laughing at this show—I just hate feeling like I’m being laughed at.