Time For a May Update!

So it’s time for an update, it’s been a couple of weeks and I currently have a D on my foot, which means I’m stuck.

Send help and chocolate!

But, seriously, spring is … erm … springing. We have blossom and my windows are open/the Sonos are on half-pelt. Life’s okay.

My foot is going to sleep. Crap.

But, yeah, I survived London and Easter. S’all good. My mood has been relatively stable which is nice, though my anxiety remains through the roof. Not so good but it’s a work in progress. Shall we do this through the medium of bullet points, just for brevity?

 Okay then:

  • London was awesome. I really enjoyed it. I’m still paying it off but it was worth it.
  • Hidden Figures is even more awesome in the cinema. Bonus for having an actual American with me who can explain the whole political mess around it and the Space Race. Also, it makes me want to go back to my Space Race on an alien planet novella.
  • I am writing. My current focus is still on the Atridia books, specifically on a short story I’m calling “Bindings, Seen and Not” about a neutral gender bookbinder living in a city under state-sanctioned non-binary gender oppression.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale was amazing … and severely triggering. I want to watch the rest of it (I think there are like ten episodes). I’m not sure I’ll be able to though, it’s horrifically foretelling but incredibly relevant. I know a lot of people are noping out purely because of anxiety issues with the content.
  • In election news, I’m noping out. Due to a bureaucratic cock-up relating to the Great Name Change, I’ve been kicked off the electoral roll and won’t be back on it time for the local election. I’m very angry about this but also glad I caught it as I do want to vote in the general election next month. I just don’t want to have to listen to the election kerfuffle until then. Aside: I know it’s a cock-up because they have ZERO records of me under Old Name either and I’ve lived here for a decade and voted, both in person and postal. They also have no problems sending me Council Tax bills in my new name. It’s a work in progress but I don’t expect it to be resolved in time to vote locally (I have re-registered to vote and intend to give someone at Electoral a serious talking to about the legalities of this, I’m registered as a head of household and am not dependent of anyone else so there’s no reason for me to have been removed).
  • There’s no ETA on the guide dog front either. Sigh. The cats are picking up the slack though. Bramble and Gismo hugs are also helping.
  • I got an update on Uni’s progress and she’s doing so well. She’s happy and has a beach. That’s all I can ask for.
  • My mood has been yoyoing but nothing too hard-core though I managed to really trigger myself last weekend. It was unpleasant. Oh and I’ve been obsessing again, mainly on buying things, Field Notes and food. Oh and Midori, of course. But I’m starting to argue out reasons why I should wait (example: my phone is due an upgrade but, instead, I’m going to go sim-only for a few months/til the end of the year as it’s cheaper).
  • Money-wise, I sat down and worked out my income and did a spreadsheet. I’ve worked out a rough, date by date, payment plan and should be debt free just after my birthday. I even budgeted in a new Limitless card and my rent. 2018 should start out with a nice, clean, slate. If I can restrain myself and focus on the Big Picture.
  • At some point, I’m going to write that book on bipolar or, at least, how to manage things like money while dealing with the mood swings.
  • I’ve decided to teach myself bookbinding (I started learning it a couple of years ago), thanks to the help of YouTube. Actually, I’ve been a lot more crafty of late; mostly laminating stuff and experimenting with little things like making postcard-sized pictures for my fridge (mostly of upcoming movie posters and inspirational quotes) or laminating stuff for friends. I am now the proud owner of an awl, a craft knife, cutting map, guillotine and haven’t yet done myself any serious damage. Go me. My task for this week is to learn to saddle stitch and learn how to bind my own notebooks for my wallet (there’s more variety in terms of paper and cover colour). Plus it keeps my brain quiet which is the biggest thing.

  • I cancelled my gym membership. The pressure of attendance (I’m not an evening person, especially not when I ‘have’ to do something I don’t want to do) and my continuing plantar fasciitis had been driving me nuts. Said PF was getting better, then I went to London. Sigh. On the upside, I’m not missing the place and much prefer walking around Eaton Park with my guide dog owner friends and their hounds.
  • I’m eating better food. Simple meals which are easy to cook and fast (or involve the minimum amount of prep). This week it’s garlic and bacon pasta with chorizo and lots of herbs. Healthy and tasty.
  • My faux Midori wallet is working beautifully, as is the free diary I got from JP Books (though it runs out in September and I kinda want a dated one. Dates are hard.). I’ve been playing with the inserts and now have a zipper pouch, a kraft folder and a notebook inside each other on the first string and my diary and expenses ledger held together with a band on the second. It works perfectly. Oh, I added a Neo Queen Serenity tiara charm onto the string and it sits beautifully on my yen coin.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is freaking awesome. End of. I didn’t look at my watch once AND I’m going back tomorrow.
  • I’m looking forward to so much TV and so many movies. I have tickets to Alien: Covenant and Wonder Woman already. I’m actually going to the cinema physically and ordering in bulb because the Odeon site only lets me book two performances ahead online (in person I can book loads). It’s annoying and cramping my social life.
  • Doctor Who is actually kinda good this season.
  • American Gods starts tomorrow. YAY!!!!
  • I’m managed to keep on top of household stuff, though I’m yet to put my washing away. Small steps, Asha, small steps.
  • I’m back in therapy and it’s helping. Reddit is helping more in terms of a support group which is just odd but so welcome. Ditto my very closest chosen family.
  • Ramen is still awesome.
  • I finally got my hands on a Lindt 1kg Gold Bunny in the post-Easter sales and I don’t regret it. Not for one second. 😀
  • We are Groot, people!
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Sailor Moon Drops

Due to my concentration issues and memory, I’m not the gamer I once was. I do however love anything Sailor Moon related and have been finding myself using up my commute by playing the special events on Sailor Moon Drops. I used to play the Japanese one but now the English version is catching up and offering the same events (where you play to unlock new skins, the current one being Super Sailor Moon), I switched over.

Except it’s hard. Really hard. Like that boss on Ninja Gaiden II that I couldn’t get past for like EVER.

On the outside, it’s a randomly generated clone of Bejewelled but with a few twists and Sailor Moon‘s five arcs. You also get access to the special attacks and cute wallpapers of the various senshi in their battle and civilian forms. The bonus events are even harder but fun as I can use the Japanese website to get an idea of what’s coming up; plus the game itself keeps the Japanese audio which is a nice touch. Seriously if I had to listen to a dubbed version, I’d go nuts.

The bonus events are even harder but fun as I can use the Japanese website to get an idea of what’s coming up; plus the game itself keeps the Japanese audio which is a nice touch. Seriously if I had to listen to a dubbed version, I’d go nuts.

Plus,  as I’m supposed to be finishing a story for my crit group next week, the game is serving as a distraction. People now count emergency batteries as a must for Pokémon Go but mine is for Sailor Moon Drops.

You get 5 goes before having to wait a couple of hours (or buy more) which is usually enough to get me through my commute or just reach my ‘fuck this game’ state. But it’s fun and it gives me something to do. Right now I need the distraction.

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Sailor Moon Crystal: The Infinity Arc

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For me, the Infinity Arc of Sailor Moon is my favourite because of Michiru and Haruka.

Back at the turn of the century when I was learning Japanese via a terrible translation and an anime dubbed to death where Michiru and Haruka were ‘cousins’ because you just could not have a gay relationship. Ever. This was a big thing and I remember ordering the ‘uncut’ DVDs, produced by Pioneer and Geneon, directly from the States just for the art and the suggestive cover that said there was no way in hell these two were related biologically. Michiru was always my favourite of the pair, beautiful, feminine, artistic but I also liked that Haruka made ‘boy stuff’ cooler for girls. It was okay to like cars and bikes, to kick arse even if you happened to be a rather butch female.

This was also about the same time I realised I really preferred women to men and so having such role models, albeit watered down for public consumption, was a great experience.

Now we’re returning, with thirteen episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal‘s third season, starting next week and I’m excited. I love the ending theme, sung by the voice actors for the pair, and the new opening theme is growing on me too (including a cameo from NQS, or at least Princess Serenity wearing a very NQS crown). The animation is so much better, as demonstrated in the video above.

I can’t wait, it’s going to be a great and, hopefully, authentic return to my favourite series.

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The Liner Notes: “Infinity Girl and the Shadow”

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This actually started out from a very specific question relating to a rewatch of Sailor Moon Crystal (apologies for the anime screengrabs) and re-reading the manga in Japanese to help make my language skills not so rusty. Sailor Moon was how I learned Japanese, because I was eighteen and magical girls were cool. Plus the manga’s simple language and furigana helped, as did the size. I used to work in a kitchen and had an apron with two pockets. I’d keep the English Tokyopop translation (hahahahah!) in my left and the original Japanese edition in my right.

Yes the translation was crap but the idea basically survived and it did help (now I’ve switched to Japanese computer game streams, Dark Souls and Bloodborne, mostly). The early 2000’s were, however, a much more analogue age and there were two Japanese books stores in London that would accept my Student Loan money to feed my burgeoning addiction.

But, anyway, back to the question. Excuse the long, rambling, fangirlish and roundabout way we get to it.

Usagi (the main character) was Princess Serenity in a past life, heir to the moon kingdom known as the Silver Millennium, who fell in love with the heir to the Earth, Endymion (yes it is based on the Greek myth of moon deity, Selene, and human shepherd, Endymion). With the second arc, we’re introduced to her future self Neo-Queen Serenity, monarch of Earth who kicks arse and is awesome. I adore both princess and queen forms of Usagi’s alter-ego but NQS literally performs miracles and has all the grace, age and power Usagi lacks.

Within the mythology of the manga, Usagi gets her throne because of her past life (though this makes little logical sense as she’s reincarnated as a human, Tsukino Usagi, not a White Moon princess). As part of the storyline Usagi, Sailor Venus and Chibiusa—who has the full and surprising name of Usagi Small Lady Serenity, ChibiUsa literally meaning ‘Little Usa(gi)’—travel to the future, 3oth Century Crystal Tokyo.

There Usagi is informed that she became Queen after giving birth to ChibiUsa around the age of 22. ChibiUsa is like 904 years old and all the humans of Earth are now functionally immortal upon reaching adulthood because of a mystical crystal which serves as the series’ McGuffin/awesome-looking magical power source.

Unsurprisingly Usagi is like ‘OMG I got to have SEX with Mamoru!!!!!!!!’ (Her reincarnated, destined-to-be husband).

My question was not ‘Cool, Usagi got to be Queen’ but how. I mean like, literally.

Did she have ChibiUsa and then declare, to her civilian family (who are never mentioned outside of 20th century Tokyo) that she was now ruler of the planet? Was there a coup? Did the other senshi forcibly help her take over? Did the UN just go: ‘Sure random Tokyo woman, go nuts, the Earth is all yours’. Did she use the Silver Crystal and perform miracles/brainwashed the planet’s population? Did all the Japanese TV/newspaper coverage and the Guardians’ wins against Queen Beryl, Metalia, the Black Moon Clan, Wiseman and Black Lady, Pharaoh 90 and Mistress 9, the Dead Moon Circus and Sailor Galaxia, finally teach all of Earth’s governments that Sailor Moon’s ultimate self could keep the Earth safe?

(Though, in the manga, NQS admits she lost most of her power as a Guardian when she ascended the throne.)

How has rankled me. I’d love to think given NQS’s benevolence and her posse of planetary guardians, plus cats, that it was a peaceful transition but the writer in me much prefers some kind of coup d’etat. Not bloodshed but not compliance either.

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So I started writing my own magical girl story about a Latina girl in a US school who becomes the saviour of a planet (complete with merchandising and hard-core PTSD). Tara Morreno is a kid in high school who also happens to be an old enough soul that the Fates have co-opted her into serving as saviour of the planet against a succession of more powerful foes.

Except this is a story in the vein of Madoka Magica, not Sailor Moon, meaning when Tara turns up to school with bruises and a black eye, her best friend Esme thinks she’s being beaten by a family member, her dead-beat father who left when she was small.

She certainly doesn’t think her best friend is fighting against a Dementor-like monster that is leeching the life from a parallel dimension in order to digest the Earth in chunks. Esme has her own role to play in the story because Tara is also, in her civilian life, a gay teen who has deep, unspoken feelings for her best friend. Esme is the one thing that keeps Tara going even when she’s so close to walking away from her life as Infinity Girl or dying in the middle of battle because she’s just not strong enough.

And that’s where I kinda forgot the question and this story became about Tara and Esme, being a magical girl where those wounds leave a mark. This is definitely an origin story and the start of a series of tales focusing on Tara’s adventures and the various creatures trying to take over the planet.

This is going to be fun.

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Writing on the Move

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I’m somewhat infamous for working out of my local Starbucks. It has warmth, WiFi, coffee on tap and baristas who adore my canine companion (aka entertaining her while I try to write). Plus my anxiety means I find home … well, while it’s my sanctuary, I feel trapped while there so would rather surround myself with people who exist but whom I don’t need to talk to. Plus Uni gets so much fuss that I am all but ignored. I’m a self-confessed introvert, spending too much time in my own company, it’s not great for my mental health. I need to be out in the world and Starbucks is the perfect place as I can work but also be surrounded by people.

The big problem for me is the combination of my eyesight and hunching.

Seriously, there was a point when my local Starbucks had these couch like sofas and they were low so I could get them to move a normal-height table. I looked off  but it was comfortable. Now they have one long bunkette which is great for my back but raised me so I’m back looking down on my computer screen. Oh and I have reading glasses which I sorta need to use.

So I backed Roost on Kickstarter and I was overjoyed with the result. I still have to wear my reading glasses but the screen is now on a comparative level with my eyeline and much more comfortable as a result. My MacBook Air is now positioned in a way which means, with pages zoomed in, I can work comfortably enough. People have actually come up to me an enquired about my awesome bit of kit (my Starbucks attracts a lot of patrons and their laptops).

Oh and I can appreciate the awesome Sailor Moon stickers decorating the inside 😀

I bought myself a new backpack this week as well. The only downside to the Roost was the case for my keyboard, mouse etc (which is awesome as it contains everything from a lightening cable to the Roost itself) was almost too big for my previous, well used, backpack (an Incase model I got when I first bought my MacBook Pro). This one has pockets galore, a mesh on either side so I finally have somewhere to stash my mug/Klean Kanteen (this was a stupidly important thing in a new backpack) and so much room. Oh and I can fit Uni’s crap (her ragger, bowl, vet book) in there as well.

Aspie Me likes having everything I need, from medication through to my electronics. It’s also been raining a lot recently (to the point where the prevous backpack just got sodden, dripping water right down my back). I accept no backpack is waterproof but this one seems to have a better shot and being able to carry my stuff is a bonus; I feel … naked without my computer, my diary … (I’m a Passion Planner Ambassador and bought a smaller compact version last year because my bag was too small for the A4 version).

Basically this means I can now tackle the world and the bag/contents feels heavy but I’m used to carrying weight on my back (it’s the easiest way when you have a guide dog/cane). This set up feels natural and has already saved my MBA from coffee spillage so the Roost is earning it’s keep already.

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