But to my complete shock, I also realized that it had been nearly TWO years (or more) since I’d written my last real ‘life update’ on here (as opposed to just sharing random fandom stuff), and well… a lot has happened since then. Too much to really formulate into something coherent and well-written. I’m just too exhausted—mentally, emotionally, physically— at the moment to deal.
And yet, at the same time, it feels kind of weird to just launch into new topics without first getting things up to speed, at least just a little. Because so much of what’s currently going on with me doesn’t really make sense without a bit of context. So, here’s my best summary of Shit That Happened™ over the last couple of years….
In September 2016, we managed to find a little house in a beautiful and remote countryside village in the Yorkshire Wolds, where we lived for two lovely years. It was wonderful. I loved it there. Loved walking through the farm fields at sunset, seeing the owls hunting, watching hares bounding in the distance -- so large I would often, for a split second, mistake them for roe deer. Loved to see hedgehogs in our garden, pheasants darting across the road (‘baby dinosaurs’, I like to call them, lol), and that’s not even getting into all the livestock and horses in the area. There was an entire field of horses and fell ponies right across the lane, and I could look outside my window and watch them all day if I wanted to, dreaming wistfully of the equestrian days of my youth. Teenage girls would ride their ponies to visit each other, meeting on the village green, reins in one hand, mobile phones in the other.
It was idyllic, but still had those creepy, unsettling moments where you’d be walking down a dark lane and hit a dip in the road, and you’d step right through a patch of low-hanging mist, or hit a cold spot…so cold it would send a chill, bone deep. The whole location and everything about it somehow managed to embody both a ‘quaint Jane Austen novel’ and ‘Folk horror film’ aesthetic all at once. There was always something that would thrill me, however seemingly innocuous. Whether the village quietly in bloom during the long, drawn-out English springtime, or the fields burning ominously at harvest time.
And what is more… I was happy there. My husband was happy. Our dogs were happy there. I felt at peace, finally, for the first time in years. I actually began to look forward to going ‘home’ after being out and about. The village was tiny and quiet… only a church, community hall, and a pub. That’s it. No post office, no shops. Just a couple of country lanes, some farmers, couple of families with kids, people with horses, and some ‘posh’ residents in bigger (for the UK) houses. Walking the wolfdogs – usually a harrowing ordeal in the city, given their reactive natures – became, for once, a pleasurable experience. For once, I did not have to worry about rubbish on the streets, stray cats, other people’s dogs running amok, drunk, angry people stumbling into us (and having to use all my strength to keep Opal from ‘protecting’ me from them), youths on pushbikes yelling obscenities and attempting to run us and our fur-kids over at every opportunity. For once, I could step right outside my door and immediately be surrounded by beautiful scenery that was soothing to my soul.
'Before the Harvest' (2017)
Don’t get me wrong, it had its downsides of course. The lack of shops and other amenities was especially difficult in the winter months, when the winding country lanes become icy and treacherous, and the high winds of the Wolds region made driving even just a couple villages over across the hills quite dangerous. And the small village mentality could be… awkward, at times, lol. The worst part of living there (for me) though was probably the fact that the tiny little house we were living in was quite cold, damp, and moldy (not a great situation, given my often debilitating respiratory issues).
Speaking of my health, it was while we were living there that I realized I was in desperate need of some medical attention, or at least advice, after going through a period where I was so exhausted I could barely move, and so, so cold I could never get warm. I also was having some other issues that I won’t get into detail about, but suffice it to say I needed to go to the doctor, and I had been avoiding it. But when I realized that the glands in my neck had been swollen for the better part of a year and had not improved, I realized I had no choice. (The irony of having a spouse in healthcare, but avoiding having go to the doctor, I know). Well, it turns out that I wasn’t totally imagining things, and I’m not just a ‘weakling’ who needs to ‘(wo)man up’. Turns out, I am severely anemic. And probably have been for a very, very long time. It took months of experimentation with different types of iron supplements to figure out something that (sort of) works and for my hemoglobin levels to go up at all. I still need to go in for some further tests to determine what is causing the anemia, but unfortunately an unexpected house move (see below) this past summer put a wrench in that, as I missed a couple of important appointments and have yet to re-schedule. :/
Discovering that I was severely anemic really explained a LOT about so many other (physical and mental) health issues that I have (not in the least of which my struggles with Bipolar II), that at least it did make me realize that maybe I’m not just some lazy POS, maybe there really has been something causing me to feel so exhausted I can barely stand up or think straight most of the time. And it’s given me a bit of hope that I can maybe be a semi-functional person again. Maybe.
A rather more devastating thing that I should probably mention, since it's had quite an affect on us in the last year and half since, is that earlier, during the previous summer (in 2017), while my sister and her husband were visiting us from Ohio for a couple of weeks, my husband’s mum passed away. She had been struggling with recurring Addisions’ crises for years by that point, and her poor body (and mind) had just had enough. His dad was already in a nursing home (‘care home', as they call it here in the UK), due to having had a stroke earlier than year. Ironically, we’d all been trying to prepare ourselves for him not being long for the world, but he made a recovery and is still with us to this day (albeit with severe dementia now…). And instead, it was his mum we lost. :'(
So…obviously this was a deeply distressing situation in all ways, and my husband is still (understandably), a year and a half later, grieving, depressed, and, well, missing his mum. I miss her too, of course -- without her around, it often feels like we lost our ‘centre’. The first Christmas (her favourite holiday) without her was especially rough. We’d had to clear out her things from his parents house earlier that summer, and ended up finding a stash of Christmas presents she never gave to anyone, because by the time of her final Christmas, her memory had gone, and she'd obviously forgotten they were there. :( Which reminds me…one of the sweetest, saddest things I remember is, that final Christmas we have with her (2016), we had her and his dad over for dinner at our house in the countryside. We’d gone to pick them up, and on the way into our village, her eyes lit up and she said: “oh, this is where that lovely couple lives!” (aka, us). :””)))
What I am extremely grateful for is that, when she passed away, we were a) living in the setting that we were, as it would have been SO much harder if my husband had to be driving by all his old childhood haunts in Hull during that time, and b) that my sister and her husband were with us. It was a strange twist of fate that allowed that to happen, but their assistance and sweet, comforting presence during that time was invaluable. (The following summer, they had their first baby, a little boy, which obviously now complicates their ability to come visit us, at least for a while, so I am doubly grateful they spent two whole weeks with us at that time. I am now an auntie three times over, as my youngest sister has two little girls of her own. Yet another Thing That Happened ™ over the last couple of years. )
Something else that occurred during our time in the village that COULD have been a potential disaster but (thankfully!) ended up turning out for the best, was that, in May 2018, through a series of frustrating bureaucratic happenings totally out of our control, we had to move our annual Warhorns Festival (folk, Viking, black, death, and doom metal festival) to an entirely new venue….with only a few months to go! It was a nail-biting two weeks of non-stop behind the scenes scrambling, but thank goodness, with the help of some friends at the eleventh hour, we did it. The fact that we even found another venue at all, let alone one so incredibly….unique…. and with an even bigger capacity, is something that still amazes me. And I am beyond grateful for it. To lose seven years of hard work building the festival from the ground up in that way would have devastated my poor husband at a time when he was already struggling (and thus would have devastated me in the process). So…yay for Eggborough Power Station coming through to save the day –and in the end, the festival went very well indeed, and they want us to come back again and hold it there next year too.
Our promo video for this past year, Warhorns 2018:
Overall, despite the various struggles, losses, and difficulties, it was still a fairly peaceful time in our lives, and I truly feel like we discovered ourselves out there, in a way. Or at least, we finally came to understand a deep-seated requirement for, if not our ‘happiness’, then at least something we both need in order to be… functional, and not completely depressed all the time. We both realized, and agreed, that we NEED to live in the countryside (whether in England, Scotland, or who knows where). While living in that village, our hope was that, once it was time, we could just pick right up move directly into a house of our own in a similar countryside environment nearby.
But sadly, things never go to plan, and this past summer (2018) we had to move rather unexpectedly when the landlady decided she wanted to move back into the property (despite having been reassured only months before that that would not happen anytime soon, but I digress).
The less said about the following house move, the better. It was not the worst house move we’ve ever had to do, but it was long, drawn-out, and just plain exhausting. Add to that the fact that, after 20 years of being in the same job (more or less), with very little opportunities for advancement, my husband finally was about to embark on a very intensive fully-funded nursing training programme (UK equivalent of becoming a registered nurse) RIGHT when we got the news. And so, until we were fully moved, he was pretty much having to constantly drive back and forth between his job, the university, our soon-to-be former village, and our new house in the city…. it was beyond stressful, and just an awful couple of months all around.
(The final night, before we had to give back the keys…. I went to check the house one final time, to make sure it was in presentable enough condition. I remember keeping my composure til the very end. It was pouring a cold, cold rain, and I just stood at the window of what had been my former ‘office’ (the first space that had felt truly ‘mine’ in a long time), and just….losing it, completely. I barely remember getting back in the car, just remember hubs driving away down 'our lane' one last time, and being unable to see anything as it was dark and my eyes were just full of tears. I have not dared to return to the village, since.)
And even though we have now finally finished the move and are ‘in’ the new house…. it’s still hard to feel settled. We still don’t have much furniture at all. (A lot of our old stuff had to be taken to the skip as it was either moldy from the damp, or it wasn’t able to be carried up the stairs in our new place). The worst part of the whole thing was, however, the fact that we’ve had to move BACK to Hull. The place we had tried for so long to escape. We tried everything we could to find another place in the countryside, in another village, or even in a smaller town setting, but there was absolutely nothing available at such short notice. At least, nothing that would allow two crazy wolfdogs. :/
Now, in all fairness, Hull has improved quite a bit since we last lived here (due to the funding it received as the 2017 ‘City of Culture’), but most of those improvements are limited to the city centre and student-y/university areas. The outskirts and also the more 'industrial' areas are still the same old depressing holes of despair, and in some cases, some areas, like East Hull (where my husband grew up, and where his parents used to live) are even worse now (imo). :’(
So, living here again is…. well…it feels like a defeat. But I’ve had no choice but to make peace with it, for now. At least this time I DO know it’s only temporary – we are only staying here until hubs is finished with his training programme and gains his qualifications. Then he will try to find a new job elsewhere, or at the very least, we will try to move back out to the countryside while he continues working at the hospital in his new capacity. Our dearest wish is to move up to the Cairngorms in Scotland, but that is a much longer-term dream at this point…
But though I know in my head that it’s only temporary, I can’t pretend it’s easy . Living here reminds me so much of some extremely horrible times in my life when we were destitute and I was suicidal almost every day. And now hubs is away from home again lot due to juggling both his job and university courses, and when he *is* home, he’s usually exhausted. We had so many plans over the holidays, for instance, but ended up doing nothing but sleeping, and/or studying (well in my case, helping him study) for his finals.
But I am doing everything I can to try not to fall back into that same old despair. I’m trying to occupy myself with some new hobbies and crafts (which I will explain below), and already it *is* making a difference. :)
Which brings me to my current ‘hobby’…. which is going to sound so random, lol, but it’s something that has been very therapeutic for me recently. And that is… 1/6th scale action figures! Or, to be more specific, making custom action figures!
I have always been a kid at heart, and have always loved dolls, toys, and miniatures in general. When I was younger (growing up back in the US…NW Ohio, to be exact), I used to beg my mom to take me to the ‘miniature store’ (a dollhouse supply store in our town), just so I could stare wistfully at all the tiny items on display. Later, I was lucky enough to end up with an American Girl Doll (Felicity, from the Revolutionary War period), whose historically accurate outfits and accessories were absolutely delightful. (Unsurprisingly, my favourite type of book report in elemetary school was always the one where you were allowed to build a diorama to depict a scene from a book). And one of my favourite pastimes in the summer was playing out in the backyard with my sisters with our ‘jungle animals’, in which the entire backyard become one giant diorama. But my most prized toys were not toys at all, but rather Breyer model horses, which I always attempted to keep in as pristine condition as possible, while still 'playing' with them (I would not let my little sisters touch them, however, lol).
These days, with my my focus being as it is on fictional characters and fandoms, I suppose it is no surprise that over the last couple of years I have slowly gathered a little collection of (mostly pre-Disney) Star Wars figures in a variety of (smaller) scales. And as someone with a great love of fine art and art history, who even ended up working in an art museum for a time, it's likewise unsurprising that I have a rather 'curatorial' attitude toward my own collection of 'decorative arts', lol. But other than a few 6 inch S.H. Figuarts I’d acquired last year, I had yet to venture into the ‘higher end’ collectibles in this case. And while I had always sort of longingly thought about 1/6 figures, I hadn’t yet felt that pull to get into collecting them, let alone daring to believe I could ever actually pull off customizing them.
But a couple of things combined to push me over the edge. The first being that late last year (or rather, Dec. 2017), I ended up pre-ordering the Hot Toys Revenge of the Sith Anakin figure:
Anakin Skywalker is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time, and I'd immediately fallen head over heels for the figure from the promo pics alone. :3
But since I could not justify purchasing it outright, I pre-ordered it, paying in installments over the following six months. But finally, once the payments where finished, it was summer 2018, and… well… you guessed it, we had to move house! My long-awaited, prized figure arrived in the post sometime in mid-July, and only a few days later I found out we had to move. So, there was no chance of opening it. And in fact, rather than un-boxing and displaying him, I had to immediately pack him, and all his fellows, away, with no idea of how long it would be before I could open them up and set them all up again.
It sounds dumb, maybe, but this was really depressing (and distressing) for me. Something about the tactile nature of collecting…of being able to handle miniature versions of my favourite characters and make them interact with each other, is extremely therapeutic for me. It has the same effect as (if not even greater than) writing or reading a good fanfic. It’s that deep-seated, childlike urge for ‘imaginative play’, which has apparently never left me. ;p
Around the same time, I was going through some rather difficult times in the SW fandom (due to reasons I’d rather not rehash yet again, so please no one ask me about specifics) and ended up having a complete ‘fandom meltdown’. This was hardly the first time something fandom-related has upset me to such a debilitating degree, but this time I felt I had very little to fall back on, and I was scared I would not be able to continue being an active participant in online fandom at all. So, I took a break for a while, in the hopes that I could regroup and eventually find a way to continue (and continue to contribute) that I could still handle.
During this time, a dear fandom friend of mine (whom I know from tumblr) kindly and generously offered to send me a really adorable 11” doll of another one of my favourite SW characters. I was so incredibly touched. Again, sounds silly but it really gave me something to look forward to. And for whatever reason, it also spurred me to decide that I wanted to create my own Anakin figure as a companion for that particular doll (since no version of that character in the particular style and outfit that I wanted existed).
So, like a crazy person, DURING my INSANE AND EXHAUSTING house move, with all my other figures packed away into plastic storage bins and completely inaccessible to me, I actually started making and customizing a freaking Anakin ‘doll’ (I was still calling it a doll cause I had no idea wtf I was doing), but ending up needing to use a ton of 1/6 action figure parts in the process. I discovered the cutest lil headsculpt for him that was meant to look like The Clone Wars animated version of the character, and BOOM, I was HOOKED. I have literally not stopped working on various dolls and action figures since. :3
(I would have included a pic here , but he's still kind of a work in progress at this point...)
There is something deeply therapeutic (not to mention thematically fitting) about cobbling together an Anakin out of spare parts that no one else wants. :’’)
Fast forward a couple months later, and I’m here at the new house, still living out of boxes, still sleeping on a mattress on the floor cause we have no bed (*cue insane laughing/crying*), with all my other action figures still packed away…..but surrounded by a bunch of spare doll body parts (*more insane laughing*), and several ‘dolls’ (or rather, 1/6 scale figures), some official, some modified, some put together entirely from ‘scratch’. :D
My latest custom figure (and one that I put together completely by myself): a Clone Wars animated style Padme Amidala to go alongside the ‘General Skywalker’ animated-style figure.
This Padme was created with a combination of spare action figure parts, fabric, faux leather, Vallejo model paints, and lots of love . <3
I have many more ‘in-progress’ 1/6 scale projects, all in varying degrees of completeness….some are intended to be more ‘realistic’, some are purposefully a bit more stylized. All are Star Wars figures (for now), mainly focusing on the Prequels/Clone Wars era, and centering around my three fave SW characters: Anakin Skywalker, Padme Amidala, and Ahsoka Tano (or as I like to call them, ‘Anakin and his ladies’. ;D )
Which one(s) I will be finishing next depends totally on what I’m most in the mood to work on at a given time and what supplies I have available at hand, so I don’t dare say just yet. But watch this space for more updates on my
way too many WIP projects. ;)
Uhhmm, wow, this turned into a much lengthier ramble that I’d intended….thanks everyone for ‘listening’. <3
P.S. If there are any songs that accurately capture the essence of my feels since mid-July onward, it would be a close tie between Pro Memoria and Life Eternal by Ghost.
Fender at Derwentwater
Opal in Buttermere
[Edit, Dec. 2018: I was going to write a blog post about this strange but lovely summer's day in what is usually the rainiest place in England, but very shortly after this trip we were informed we had to leave our beautiful countryside village due to the landlady wanting to move back into her property. The next few months were nothing but a haze of stress and exhaustion from having to uproot ourselves and our dogs and move back to the depressing city life that we'd been so happy to have escaped. So, unfortunately, I never got around to writing this post due to the unexpected house move and resulting life stress that is still affecting us nearly five months later. Hope you enjoy these pics though....happy memories in one of our favourite places. ]
He could feel it now, in the Force, could recognize the creature before him, recognize the cold, freezing dread that lived in the furnace of his heart, the Obsidian Dragon with eyes of dead starlight, walled away by flame, and held at bay by sheer force of will. The Obsidian Dragon made of fear and failure and weakness and death.
“I will not fall!” He ground out the vow from behind clenched teeth, pressing forward with the Force as hard as he was able. Darth Vader trembled in anger at the onslaught. “I am Anakin Skywalker, and I will never fall!”
Suddenly, intensely, power rushed off Anakin in waves, and Darth Vader bent under the assault, crumpling with wheezing breaths. The painful breaths of a pitiful creature.
Utterly spent from the release of energy, Anakin sagged to his knees, arms falling weakly to his sides.
Recently, I was asked to write about ‘Anakin as a tragic hero’, and rather than attempting to tackle such a broad topic from scratch, I decided to compile a masterpost of excerpts from (and links to) my previous posts on the subject.
In my personal view, ‘Star Wars’ (as in, the Skywalker saga) is, at its heart, Anakin’s story, and as such, his tragic fall and ultimate redemption forms one of the main, underlying themes of most of my SW analysis in general. And so, the selections below include everything from in-depth character analysis, to overviews of Anakin’s role in the saga as a whole, to explorations of themes of slavery vs. freedom, death vs. immortality, personal attachments, fear of loss, and perhaps most importantly, unconditional love.( Read more... )
It’s been a while now since I’ve written about this character, but recently my husband and I were discussing the Prequels (and especially The Phantom Menace), and we both heartily agreed that Qui-Gon Jinn is a truly brilliant addition to the saga, both from a storytelling and ‘in-story’ perspective. Not only is he a compelling figure to watch on-screen (thanks to the mesmerizing Liam Neeson), but he is also an ingenious way of introducing us to the Twilight of the Republic-era Jedi—via someone who is, by that point, considered a ‘maverick’ in comparison to the rest of the Jedi Order.
This is a very clever approach, because it means that we actually experience the entire first half of The Phantom Menace from Qui-Gon’s perspective. Throughout our journey with him—during which time he comes to the aid of many beings, from the hapless Jar-Jar, to Queen Amidala, to a slave-boy and his mother on Tatooine, all while simultaneously on a spiritual quest of his own (aka, to find the Chosen One)—we come to admire a Jedi who is everything that we, as viewers who had only ever seen the Original Trilogy, would expect a Jedi to be. It is only after Qui-Gon’s arrival on Coruscant (when we are met by the comparatively cold, closed, and standoffish Jedi Council), that we realize that…oh… this wonderful, warm, openly-caring, and compassionate Jedi who we ASSUMED must certainly be the ’norm’, is actually anything but.
( Read more... )
#these three love each other and always will <3 #and they’re such beloved iconic characters too #and no matter what disney tries to do to them #they’ll always be iconic and loved by people all around the world #the lucas movies will stand the test of time and so will these three <3 (via skywalker-saga)
^THIS. This is the TRUTH….and nothing and no one can take this away from us, as long as we uphold the original version of this tale and these characters.
I feel the need to point something out here—and that is, that to hold on to an unabashedly positive view of the Original Trio and to have an unwavering belief in their long-term happiness is not just a result of nostalgia or being attached to these characters as we knew them in the Original Trilogy, but is also the actual intended outcome of Lucas’ entire saga, aka the Prequels *and* the Original Trilogy combined.
( Read more... )
It’s been a while since I posted anything about this subject, as I have long-ago said my piece on the so-called ‘sequels’, and have no wish to dwell on negativity or rain on anyone else’s parade. But since the topic has come up again, I figure I might as well try to explain my current views in a bit more detail in case anyone is curious.
( Read more... )
☆ Anidala Week 2017 ☆ Day 6: Favourite Kiss (RotS novelization):
There was no hope she could be happier—until his eye found her silent, still shadow, and he straightened, and a new light broke over his golden face and he said, “Excuse me,” to the Senator from Alderaan, and a moment later he came to her in the shadows and they were in each other’s arms.
Their lips met, and the universe became, one last time, perfect.