Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I'm almost done

I have graded the lab books that came in (one person pleaded illness once again, another one claimed they thought they were due tomorrow, whatever). I am slowly adding grades to the research papers and my goal is to finish the remaining 7 or so before I go home.

But I am just tired.

Last night was a bad night - upset over stuff, feeling bereft, feeling sad because (largely) a feeling of a lack of attention (it scares me a little some times, how much attention I would LIKE to have, but I am also not good at asking for it). I hit a wall with reading and putting comments on the papers and just could do no more. And I got frustrated with the tangled yarn.

But yeah. Attention. I often want it and don't know a non-weird, non-needy way of seeking it out so more often I do things like hover on the edge of conversations (sadly now: mostly online at that) and hope someone will invite me in or ask me something.

Man, though: I wish I could feel like i was being "attended" to by all the various corporate bots that tweet at me (Target has been sending me ads at least once a day since I ordered something from them online) but it's not the same. Man, though, that's the curse of this age: you have attention you don't want (every time I order something online I ask myself, can you stand to have them e-mail you at least once a week about buying from them again; the phone calls soliciting from charities or "charities") but you don't get attention you DO want. 

A bunch of us on Twitter got talking about Mary Sues this morning. The way I learned "A Mary Sue" was from the old, old fanfiction trope: a self-insert character who is almost impossibly good (and also is usually seen as "desirable" by whoever the romantic lead she fancies is. I believe the original Mary Sue was from a Star Trek fanfiction...)

But now, in the way the internet does to all words and phrases, it Humpty Dumpties it ("“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”") and so some people are using it for various characters in various media franchises I am not taking part in, but it seems like some are using it to mean "any competent woman" and there's backlash and argument and apparently some are saying the phrase has now become so debased that it must go down the memory hole with other terms ("Emotional labor" being one that I am annoyed about, because I am someone in what can be considered one of the "caring" professions and yes, I get asked to do a ton of "emotional labor" whether it's managing the moods of a colleague* or comforting students and as I said this morning: it leaves me WORN OUT. Because then I have no comfort left for myself, and I go comfortless, just as the shoemaker's kids go barefoot)

(*E.g., softballing any criticism to avoid anger on their part)

Anyway. We were "talking" about "why do women write Mary Sue fanfiction" (because, Gary Stus notwithstanding, we probably do that more than men do). And I know exactly why:

If I were creating a world and inserting myself into it. (Or if I were a self-insert OC in any existing world), I'd want to be good at stuff. And I'd want to be universally loved. And I'd want to fit in. And yes, I would want attention from whatever handsome man/male pony/whatever other creature of the male persuasion given the AU we ar talking about). Because isn't writing self-insert fiction (or fanfiction) really about wish fulfillment, and for a heck of a lot of us, that wish is just to *belong.* And maybe just to *have love* and yeah, maybe that's sad, but we seek in literature what we don't get in real life.

(Also see: why I prefer the Albert Campion mysteries BEFORE he marries Lady Amanda...)

But yes: I think portraying any marginally competent woman in fiction as a "Mary Sue" is an overreach, and also perhaps a misunderstanding of the term.

BUT ALSO: snarking about "Mary Sues" and young women's fanfiction? Just another case of pumpkin-spice-latte hating. Because it is something particularly beloved of the young and female, it becomes an easy target.

(And yes. Before you ask, I do have my own little self-insert fantasies. I have my own little running story in my head - it is a totally made-up world, so not actually fanfiction in a sense, unless you consider being a fan of bookstores and writing mental stories about yourself as a bookstore employee (doing impossibly well and having impossibly nice and friendly co-workers) as a type of fanfiction. But it's something I tell myself at night when I am having a hard time sleeping, or when I'm stuck waiting somewhere. Whatever. It beats sitting there and stewing, or else having to FIND someone to entertain me. Because I know there are very few people willing to do that for me.)

Edited to add: though I also admit, if we're dealing in tropes? If I were a character in something I would almost rather be a "moe" character (at least in my imperfect understanding of it) than a "Mary Sue" - that sweet and soft and vulnerable character that others want to protect and defend. And yes, I know: very anti-feminist of me but when one is stuck being a "self-rescuing princess" in one's day to day life, it is nice to imagine a setting where some larger tougher character would stand up and say "You don't talk to her like that!" when someone is being rude to me, or someone who would get help for me when I needed it instead of me having to (for example) call the dang Lowe's YET AGAIN about my stupid dishwasher.

(And yes, before you explain to me: I totally get that I am AT LEAST 30 years too old to be a proper "moe," especially given the Japanese word that is its origin; I am closer to the little old lady that the Boy Scout helps across the street but that is not an appealing image to me at all.)

Being a self-rescuing princess is good in some senses, but it also can get kind of lonely, and if you're really *not* that tough of a person, it takes a lot out of you to defend your own self.


We're supposed to get big storms tonight and I am considering moving my weather radio into my bedroom so I can hear it more clearly (it's a newer one and when the alert sounds, it turns on automatically so you can hear what the alert is - so no running to the room to hit the "on" button). And also, the local radar channel was dropped by my cable company (or it shut down) and that annoys me; that was actually one reason I gave people for not "cutting the cord." I get that most everyone has smartphones now and can look up weather radar faster (and I presume, using data, do it even in a power outage). I probably need to get a smartphone but I can't contemplate that just yet. Maybe next week.

Also no call on the dishwasher, so I guess tomorrow I will need to call Lowe's again and I get so tired of this. (And Thursday is the next candidate, and Thursday night is AAUW, and, and, and)

And I found this piece on Youtube. On the Pandora stream I most often listen to at work, they play a few pieces from "A Choral Tapestry" (A CD St. Olaf's college put out some years back) and there is one piece I just love, but because the "liner notes" for the classical stuff Pandora does is often terrible, I couldn't figure out what piece it was. So, armed with the approximate runtime, I looked at a listing of pieces on the disk. It took a few tries on YouTube, but here it is:

It's a Norwegian folksong turned into (apparently) a Lutheran hymn. I like it; I like the harmonies and the tune. And I found another version of it on YouTube over lunch and watched it, and dangit, but being able to clearly hear the words (and read subtitles) it did make me cry. Some religious music does. (And with my allergies...one thing I've found is that if I cry when my allergies are bad, it HURTS. I don't know why.)

Huh. And apparently the lyrics were composed by a Swedish princess (Eugenie, the one who lived in the 1800s). And yeah, you might, if you know me, see what made me cry there - the idea of being welcomed "home," and the sense of belonging, all that.

This week has felt like it's a month long, and it's only Tuesday afternoon :(

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I totally understand about needing attention. I have a family so I'm not completely without but what's missing from my life is friend attention or I guess you could call it sisterly attention - someone to go to antique shops and fabric stores with and to hang out and talk about just random stuff like music and varieties of tea and tiny wildflowers.