Play Like a Girl

I've played the Exile in KOTOR II over and over again. Love this fanart from Rose Loughran of Red Moon Rising. My husband recently acquired The Witcher 3, and has been on me to make time to play. He insists it's just the sort of game that I like: immersive, open world, story-rich. Despite being pretty deep in the game himself, he's even gone so far as to entice me to the couch, start up a new game, and pass me the controller. But while I'm content to watch him play for a bit, or hear his stories about particularly well-executed plot lines, I just haven't felt the itch. Is it lack of time? Lack of interest? Lack of desire to really lose myself in a proven stellar game? Nope.

It's because I can't play a girl.

Despite growing up with Link and Mario, I didn't really get into gaming until college, when Morrowind blew. My. Mind. And guaranteed I'd spend the entire day in my pajamas monopolizing my then-boyfriend's Xbox, stopping only to take the stereotypical pee and Ramen breaks. The customization was laughable by today's standards, but carefully crafting an avatar, another self, and pursuing my wildest questing dreams in an open world was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

And that's just my marriage.

But truly, I was hooked. Over the years my favorites have always been those games that allowed for me to really immerse myself not only in a killer story, but also do so in a very personalized capacity. If there's a game with an algorithm that allows for it to accommodate <Insert Name Here>, chances are I've played the hell out of it. Knights of the Old Republic I and II, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Fallout 3. I probably spent as much time in graduate school playing World of Warcraft as I did writing papers.

My desire to play a female avatar, to play through a story that doesn't assume I'm a dude, doesn't come from a place of just wanting to snog Alistair's face off - though I totally do. It has a whole lot more with feeling culturally like I'm always coming up against a male narrative as a universal narrative, which I feel like I shouldn't have to say isn't true, and because the very best games give the player the opportunity to forget they're playing, just like reading a good book. These are RPGs. Giving me the space and imagination to assume a role is what they're supposed to be doing. And if I'm constantly being reminded of my non-maleness by rescuing a princess, or visuals that are clearly designed to arouse your typical heterosexual dude, I'm pulled out of the story and reminded that this wasn't made or meant for me, at least not wholly.

I'm sure The Witcher 3 is stellar; I've heard and seen enough about the story to feel pretty confident in recommending it. But I've also heard just about every female character the protagonist encounters proposition him, so I feel pretty confident, too, about my decision to invest my time elsewhere.

Touch of Grey

I found my first grey hair. Like a fat-toothed comb my fingers parted hairs until I could pluck it free, be sure it wasn't paint or light or my eyes playing tricks in the sterile fluorescence of the bathroom. But the hair was silvered pale, delicate as thread, and I sealed it reverently in a plastic container to show my husband when he came home. He wasn't as convinced as me, though my evidence of age is very little when compared with his salt and peppering beard. "It looks white."

"Maybe I'll go white instead of grey."

That could be pretty bitchin', to have a few Rogue years between my sorry youth and sure to be sorrier middle age. That's more of a dream, I think, than thinking that one won't sprout in time one hundred.

Before I threw it out I twirled it once, twice, three times around my finger, less than I would have been able to after a recent hair cut. I'm nearing the end of my twenties, but for all I regret at their passing I have more to look forward to, more ahead than I have behind. A writing professor I had as an undergraduate, a man I admired greatly and for shame have yet to read, mused to me that I might have only one really good story in me as a young person, and that perhaps I had already told it. But more would come, later. He was of the opinion that most people were not worth reading until they were in their thirties, even if they'd been writing for years. I didn't balk at the idea at the time and I don't now, either, because I know that I always have more work to do. I can only hope to be given the time to do it.

And with NaNoWriMo but a few days away, the many kicks in the pants I need to keep from squandering my last year as a twenty-something on World of Warcraft.

Zombies Eat Babies Eat Baby Trees

I got a little drunk last night and admitted to my husband that what I really want to do with my life is work on my writing and spend my days playing and teaching and being terrorized by the children we don't have yet. I remember his smile now with relief, and hope that I didn't through a film of inebriation channel terror into tolerance. I don't know when I became the sort of person who wants to serve baby trees instead of broccoli, and while I'm not sure I have the patience to bake bread with a preschooler, I don't think that will stop me from trying. I imagined myself as any number of things when I was growing up, but a mother was never one of them. I liked to play college with my Barbies - admittedly, they spent most of their time hanging out in the dormitories I built for them, and not so much in class - and while the collegiate adventures of Courtney and Skipper were not even in the smallest way realized when I was an undergraduate, it was still a sort of inevitable dream for me, acquiring a degree. That I'd claw the eyes out of anyone who tried to keep me from getting my education, including my own when laziness or poorly distributed schedules threatened, didn't make it any less of a dream. It was what I'd always wanted.

When I graduated, though, I remember one of the things I thought was that at least then if I were to become accidentally pregnant, my life wouldn't be over. I feared more having a child and having to give up the pursuit of my degree more than anything, including the zombie apocalypse. That I'm not afraid anymore, or at least not as afraid,  would've seemed to me as unlikely as needing to take out the stairs in Collins Hall and defend myself with my acoustic guitar (I hadn't read Max Brooks yet). But I was, and now I'm not (as much).

My husband's response to me was, following the smile, that I'd start writing childrens' books if we had children, to which I informed him that I can't indulge in page upon page of sexual tension in childrens' books or carve out hearts or curse, so.