juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
But, you say: Juu, we came not to hear you grow overenthusiastic about favorite books, but rather for the Sims updates! I know I've been away from the game for too long and I feel awful about it, but luckily there's something to tide you over.

To see Ghost and Aaron in another world, where they're a little less angsty (and unpestered by parents) but still very much their messy, haunted, creative, selfish selves, you should go check out [livejournal.com profile] century_eyes's most recent Sims 3 picspam (Dreamwidth mirror). It's amusing and awesome, and in some parts very much a paean to everything that makes my boys, my boys. I love it.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I have all of these ideas for posts sitting in the back of my head, waiting for me to pull them forward, give them more thought, commit them to text, and share them with the world. Thoughtful posts, important posts, formative who-I-am posts, posts about mental health and therianthropy and the creative process and media. But I've not been all together and I've a surfeit of things to think and do and write; by the time I'm ready to pull a waiting topic forward I've run out of energy, or my wrists need a break, or I've pushed my back too far. So the thoughts sit, waiting, fetal, mostly quiet. These are some of them.

Most representations of cats in popular media, knowledge, and lore are caricatures which are are overblown, inaccurate, and/or reply on trite and often unfounded images of cats as superior, or magical, or fiercely independent. They boggle and bore me, and can easily rouse my anger or, at least, disinterest in a piece of media. Yet for all of that, Cats tugs deep down at my heart of hearts. It is still a caricature, but it is the best sort: by simplifying and exaggerating certain traits, by glossing over others, it distills a comprehensible, vivid, yet accurate version of its subject—one which is, for the fact that it's easier to see and understand, almost a truer representation of self.

I'm becoming more aware of how distinct the cat that I should be actually is—which is to say, I still believe that my guesses as to appearance are mostly wishful thinking, but the specific cat that I am seems surprisingly well defined: not any domestic cat or the archetype of a domestic cat, but a particular domestic cat with its own quirks and nature—and more unusually, one with a particular life: indoors only, neutered, spoiled, probably a single cat in a small household, etc. I rarely care or wonder about the origin of my therianthropy, but the specifics, the idea that I was supposed to be a certain cat, make me wonder about those origins. Have my views of therianthropy and domesticity been influenced by what I've been exposed to as a human, and if so how so? I grew up with outdoor cats—do I contrast myself against them? I grew up listening to Cats—did that influence my concept and and identification with cats? Simply: what explains the impression that I should have been a specific cat, and those specifics? Right now these are all questions; I don't yet have any answers.

I've made the link between my depression and back issues many times, but I've yet to fully appreciate or throughly discuss it. Relatedly, I tend to underestimate the continuing impact of my mental health issues—I forget that, even though I've carved out a safe space for myself, my mental health issues persist and can still impact me. As a result of both, I can go for days before I realize that my general moodiness is in fact indicative of a persistent problem, one that I haven't recognized and so haven't been treating. But that realization comes tied with a bit of dread and melancholy all its own, because it's a reminder that these big, unsolvable problems—chronic pain, chronic depression—do persist.

There is a distinct and sometimes troubling gap between my personal mental health issues (and their effects) which I am willing to discuss, and those that I will admit to almost no one; between my certainty in and comfort with my lifestyle, and my lingering guilt in owning or discussing that lifestyle. The reason that I've yet to address this all is, of course, because it's something which I'm reluctant to address—but it make me worry that I have plateaued: I have a comfort zone regarding my mental health issues, and that which falls outside it goes unaddressed and therefore unattended. I'm content not to solve all my problems (thus my lifestyle), and need be accountable to no one but myself, but I still think I need to be thinking, and talking, a bit more. But fear of potential backlash, both external and internal, makes me doubt that I ever will look deeper at these things.

Emo is an aesthetic. Emo is a horrible word for what I mean, but it brings with it so many of the right connotations and so I'll use it anyway. When I write Ghost and Aaron I sometimes end up in, or feel like I should be in, a depressed mental state: in order to write about their personal and emotional troubles, I make myself personally and emotionally troubled. And to state the obvious, that's not a good thing. But as I've recently gone back to them, I've managed to embrace emo as an aesthetic rather than purely a mental state—I can dig into their lives and mindsets, and create and indulge in that awful, sympathetic, delight in suffering, without internalizing their struggles. In a way that's sad—it gives me just a touch of distance, and I don't want to be distant from them—but on the whole it's refreshing to play and write them without such a personal investment and struggle.

Five makes for a healthy list, I'd think. I may never come back to these, or at least not any time soon, but better to have notes and blurbs than nothing at all.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Are all build materials in Sims 3 now CAST-able?

I can edit my railings. I can make them new colors. I am convinced this is a bug, because it seems to perfect and logical to be real. When did this happen—with the recent patch? How did I miss the news?

Holy fuck I can edit the stairs, too.

This is surreal, man. Sur-fucking-real.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
The key to success: give up.

I don't know why this works, and I almost wish it didn't. But it does, invariably: If I lose something, I find it as soon as I stop looking. If I'm waiting for Devon to get home, he'll walk through the door as soon as I shrug my shoulders and start up a game. If I'm stuck in a project, inspiration will come only after I decide to give up for the day and tackle it again tomorrow.

Would that I could do these things immediately, with hope and intention, rather than having them sprung on me just after I've stopped trying. But at least this means things get found, the boyfriend returns home, and projects—

Like Ghost and Aaron fic—

Go from good intention to forward progress in a flash of inspiration come just a minute late.

Scratch the above: I can guess why it works. When I'm concentrating my frustrated energies on something, I run out of options and ideas; when I divert my energies, the problem stews in my hindbrain, uncovering new solutions—which then pop forefront and get me back on task. (Except the boyfriend, of course: his timing is just a sick joke played by the universe.) Writing is part effort and part alchemy, or at least it is for me: the energy spent sitting down and forcing oneself to write is a big part of the work, but the fire of inspiration is just as important—and often makes the first part much easier. I've been stewing over this storybit on and off all day—editing the pictures of the scene, determining if it was the right piece to include, tossing around ideas, opening scenes, pacing. But the last few hours it's been like beating my head against a wall: painful, with little forward progress. I knew what it had to be but couldn't manage the leap from premise to product. So I started up Paranormal Activity (good alone-at-night movie, y/y?), checked my email one last time, sat down to watch—and had that flash of inspiration, and soon after had 400 words.

But as said: better late than—and in the large view of course it's not late, because I can't finish the picture portion just yet anyway, and I've no schedule to stick to or anything. And it sure is nice to have an inroad.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I've been meaning to post a couple things, but have been occupied and preoccupied enough to procrastinate for days. No time like the present, I suppose. How many things is it that make a post, again?

1) This line began as a typo* in a story I've been scribbling, but it's a typo that froze me when I caught it, and I have not the heart to delete it. Edited and isolated, then:

"Is that really what scares you?" I ask, whispering because this question, all of this, is meant just for you.


2) Speaking of scribbled stories (tangentially), I've been sitting on a pair of IOGraphs for a while now. I posted one of these a while ago, but my on/off obsession with the program continues. IOGraph is a simple program that tracks and records mouse movement. Lines indicate movements; circles indicate pauses—the bigger the circle, the longer the pause. Click through for larger versions and notes. Yeps, I'm a dork—but it's oddly fascinating, ain't it?

IOGraphica - 1.9 hours (from 13-08 to 15-09)
2 hours writing/transcribing fiction.

IOGraphica - 10 hours (from 15-26 May 17th to 14-53 May 19th)
10 cumulative hours general computer/internet use.
(Sometimes I paused the recording when afk, and sometimes I forgot.)

3) As mentioned, [livejournal.com profile] century_eyes visited last weekend; that weekend was also Devon's maternal grandparents's 60th wedding anniversary. No huge post from me, this time; I came away with something perhaps more vivid but less revelatory: comfort, simple comfort. It was a busy weekend: Dee got in late because the Memorial Day traffic was hellish; we spent all day together on Saturday, and Sunday I split into social thirds: breakfast with Dee, early afternoon anniversary celebrations next door, and a long last conversation with Dee in the afternoon before she drove back (Sunday evening, to avoid traffic on at least that half of the trip). I went into Sunday wary and tired, but the family event was surprisingly enjoyable (Devon's grandparents were adorable, and had the chance to talk books with someone) and that last conversation with Dee—in Starbucks, in the early evening, with weather wavering between muggy and sprinkling rain—was my favorite part of the weekend. Conversation flowed, the atmosphere was lovely, and when Dee stayed a little big late for a little bit more time together...

It was a twilight time. Overcast weather and evening coming on made for literal twilight, but there was a sense also of the in between, of neither here nor there: the moment stretching on, intimate and shadowed, delicate and timeless. That's a rare thing, a magical thing. Quite beautiful, indeed.

So, yes. A good weekend, a good visit. Devon's threatening to ship me up North to visit her, sometime before too long. And, romantic rhapsodizing aside—and this does make me a geek, I know—but goddamn is it good to talk Sims, in person, with another simmer.

4) Today Maddy scratched on the bedroom door. Maddy is Madison, one of Devon's family's cats, although I think she's turned changling, been abducted by aliens, brainwashed or something, I don't know—because after a few minutes sniffing the corners of the room she found a corner to curl up in and slept there for a few hours, then switched to the bed for a few more. Little circle of fur and purr, warm and adorable, drooling all over my black sweater—it was pretty adorable. My life feels empty, my heart feels empty, without a cat of my own, but having one's not an option right now; since I go bereft, afternoons with Maddy are blessings, every rare one. It made for a good day, despite the fact that today was also spent installing Sims 3: World Adventures. And then uninstalling it, and the base game, and reinstalling it, and the base game, and setting up a new mods folder, and removing AwesomeMod because it doesn't work with the current patch, and then playing a few hours of Ghost and Aaron: Things Which Never Happened in France (and Riverview). There are many awesome Sims posts coming, let me tell you.

5) I think it's five things that make a post, but as I flip back through my notes and open tabs (and having finally finished the review which made up half of said notes), it appears that I've taken care of most I had to say. But when forced, I can pad with one more: I'm finally moving out of my women only music playlist phase, in part because Sims stories beg a different soundtrack but mostly because of the new How to Destroy Angels EP. HTDA is Trent Reznor's new project, a dreamy dark addictive sound. Check out and download the EP for free on the HTDA website, or first check out "The Spaces in Between" (although "BBB" is my current favorite):

Under the cut. )

* The typo, for the curious, was the last word—"you" was meant to be "her."

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I'm having one of those nights where I just don't want to go to bed. Not because I know I can't sleep (although that's always a possibility), not because I'm restless, but simply because I'm not in want of rest. I am, instead, in want of a diversion—but nothing appeals. I have a film I could start, but that would take too long. I have two films I could finish, but neither intrigue. I'm reading two books, but one is frustrating me and the other is slowly paced and doesn't appeal. I could start a new book and probably should, but none in my piles is calling out. I could probably lose myself in a few hours of Sims, but that isn't likely to seduce me into sleep.

So instead I'm poking around the internet, wondering what in a perfect world I would chose to entertain myself, and the answer is obvious because I've been thinking about this for the last couple days, as I dither over reading material while playing and writing Ghost and Aaron.

You see, I have a fetish for intimate relationships. Not any, not all—but unusually intimate relationships.

(I don't have to warn you, do I, that all text and links below may contain explicit content?)

In Adair's The Dreamers (my review) and the subsequent film, a pair of twins and their friend huddle together in a den of isolation and intimacy, breaking the boundaries of sexual orientation and incest while they build a boundary against the real world. In the film Threesome, a mixup leads to a co-ed threesome of college roommates whose type two love triangle creates an uneasy balance of unusual intimacy and repressed desire (ha—TV Tropes lists it as an example of this triangle type). In Brite's Lost Souls (my review), Nothing and his father Zillah curl together in their own den of iniquity where the incestuous aspect of their relationship only serves to draw them closer. In the manga Angel Sanctuary, the protagonist and his sister fight their attraction to one another—until they give into it, leave home, and share a brief and blissful period of love (before rocks fall and everyone dies).

Incest isn't necessary, although it's such an obvious, universal taboo that when that barrier is broken, the relationship is unusually intimate by default. But any relationship with an unusual level of intimacy scratches my itch. In the manga Boy's Next Door (my review; this manga is also by Kaori Yuki, who wrote Angel Sanctuary), a young prostitute meets a serial killer of young boys—and against good sense and all odds, falls in love with him. It goes further than that, still. Intimacy that appears unhealthy or inappropriate satisfies me: in the manga pair Kawaii Hito - Pure and Kawaii Hito - Cute, older men have relationships with high school/college-aged boys—and in Pure, the younger is so shy and vulnerable that he becomes entirely dependent upon his lover. A Perfect Circle's Pet croons, "Pay no mind what other voices say / They don't care about you, like I do / Safe from pain, and truth, and choice, and other poison devils / See, they don't give a fuck about you, like I do." Intimacy forged and expressed in unusual or extreme ways also satisfies me. In the BL game Togainu no Chi, Kau is scarred and pierced, his eyes and vocal cords have been destroyed, and he walks on all fours all because it pleases his owner, Arbitro. This is also what spawns and feeds my love of guro, where pain, mutilation, and even death can be signs of intimacy and love. But even the simplest love story can fit—in Ai no Kotodama (in volume 2, a prequel), best friends discover that their unusually close friendship may open doors to a physical relationship. And it's even the attraction of most slash: not the intrigue of gay sex (although that's great too!), but an unexpectedly intimate relationship read into heteronormative, plantonic canon.

Attraction which invades platonic relationships, which defies sexual orientation, which breaks the barriers of incest, which defies social mores, which finds unusual expression, which appears unhealthy, imbalanced, or extreme—this gets me, deep down; it tugs at my heart, my guts; it captures my interest and imagination. In part it's the guilty pleasure and intrigue of taboo, but it's also the sense that what defies the normal order must do so for good reason: this is a passion that runs so deep that it cannot be constrained by law or reason. In other words, I love unusual intimacy because it is unusual—and because it is intimate. I have a lot of fetishes, but this one may top the pile.

This is why Ghost and Aaron are cousins, why they were friends as close as brothers, why Aaron doesn't identify as gay (or even bisexual), why one steals and one dreams, why Aaron insults Ghost's mother and Ghost uses Aaron for sex, why this entire storybit exists. They are that way because the live that way, in their shitty house in my silly game while I sit back and let them have control. But they are still children of my consciousness and so they fulfill my desire for this sort of slightly discomforting, always meaningful, intimacy.

And that's the sort of story that I want, right now. The last one I stumbled upon—entirely by accident—was the film Threesome, which may not be great (the critical response certainly wasn't), but pleased me because it appealed so well to this little fetish of mine. But that was months ago, and I haven't run in to anything similar sense—save for Ghost and Aaron, of course, but I want something to consume for a bit, rather than something to make. So I appeal to you—anyone who's manage to read this far and may understand what I mean. Do you have in mind a book, a film, a story of any sort which might fulfill this desire? I would love to hear about it.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I have a couple oh-help-me-flist questions—and a few bonus memes—that I keep meaning to get around to, so here I go shoving them all into one post for your commenting pleasure.

Can anyone recommend a Clive Barker book to me? I put out a request here but who knows, you might have missed it after the wall of text. Recommendations for a (standalone, good, preferably more than simply bloody) Barker novel would be much appreciated, before I give up on him.

Dear Simmers: I'm thinking of going back to The Sims 3 and would love to know if you recommend World Adventures—or the first stuff pack, or if you have your eyes set on Ambitions, or if there's something big and glaring that I'm unaware of because I've been long out of the loop. As I tackle the Herculean task of getting the game running again, these would be good things for me to keep in mind.

And then a pair of tell-me-what-to-write memes:

Everyone has things they blog about. Everyone has things they don't blog about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll write a post about it. Ask for anything: latest movie watched, last book read, political leanings, thoughts on alfalfa*, favorite type of underwear, graphic techniques, etc.

Repost in your own journal—if you want to—so that we can all learn more about each other.


Alternately:

What kind of topics/entries would you like to see me posting about? Any particular questions you've always wanted to ask me but have resisted because the answer would be a huge essay? Ever want to wind me up and watch me go on a particular topic? Anything you've heard me say, "I should write that entry about XYZ I've been meaning to write" and have been patiently waiting for**?


Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!

* What's crazy is that as a guinea pig owner, I actually have thoughts on alfalfa.

** It pains me to end a sentence with a preposition. Yes, even when I didn't write the sentence. Yes, I know I'm outdated. Yes, I know I'm strange.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Ghost and Aaron: Master List | Next Update

Just a hug
Just a picture from the end of the day before.

The next day dawns with ghosts and a butterfly +23 pictures. )

Which is where I think I'll leave it for now.

I expected sex this time, I really did—but kept the boys busy and just didn't get around to it. It's odd—and here I ramble and go overly thoughtful considering this started with a video game (and this is massively navel-gazy and TL;DR. I am writing it because I need to screw my head back on straight. I will not be offended if no one reads it.): Some thoughts on the webcomic Friendly Hostility, with spoilers. )

And then here I am telling the story of a couple falling in love, not being in love—with full knowledge that I probably won't continue telling it too much longer after they reach that plateau because what I'm doing is playing a game and the shiny attraction of new sims will pull me away eventually. I find Ghost and Aaron's story fascinating because it is new, semi-taboo, full of waiting and stumbling and nerves—precisely because it is developing, not status quo. But my total anxiety after completely Friendly Hostility has reminded me that a relationship is more than that. Does slashfic, told in pictures or otherwise, necessarily need to be? Of course not. But in my head it is right now very important that Ghost, that Aaron, be more than just two people falling in love because I find it exciting.

On Ghost, Aaron, and the nature of their relationship; on progression vs. platueas; on telling a story. )

So where was I before I slipped down that unending spiral of words? Oh yes, hair! I love the hairstyle that Aaron had (and Ghost still does), but when I stumbled upon this new one I had to try it out. I intended it for Ghost but it looked awesome on Aaron—so I had to get him to the point of New Hair. It's nice to see Ghost and Aaron a bit more physically different but really what it comes down to is oooooh shiny hair. (But what really tickles me about the new hair—other than my outright love for it, of course—is that Aaron was inspired by a guy I know here in the real world and this hairstyle is eerily similar to one he used to have.)

But Juu, you say: We need portraits showing off Aaron's new hair! You never post enough pictures of him! Well, if you insist.

Aaron's new haircut

One more. )

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juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
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