Three Voices

Everyday Life

(Phone conversation)

Me: You sleep well, love.

Mr. J: You too, get plenty of rest.

Me: Okay.

Mr. J: Actually do it, get rest.

Me: (silence…I was actually thinking about fixing a plot point and not really paying attention.)

Mr. J: Actually do it. And don’t use your rebellious voice.

Me: (laughs) I don’t have a rebellious voice.

Mr. J: You have three.

Me: (laughs) Really?

Mr. J: Yep.

Me: Tell me about ’em.

Mr. J: No.

Movie Talk: Alita: Battle Angel

Everyday Life

SPOILER ALERT. I’m going to be talking about stuff that’s in the movie, the anime, and the manga so if you don’t like spoilers don’t read this.

I’m going to give you a little bit of backstory so you know where I’m coming from when I say what I do about this movie.

This will probably be way more information that you ever wanted to know about me.

When Blockbuster was still around, you know, that place where you could rent movies on VHS, when I was in junior high, there was an extremely limited anime section. There were only maybe 10 or 15 anime tapes and most of them were the 3rd or 4th volume of a series so you had no way of knowing what was going on and a couple movies.

I remember seeing Ninja Scroll, Sailor Moon, Galaxy Express 999, Windaria, Bubblegum Crisis, Dirty Pair, and two or three with elves on the covers but I can’t remember what they were called. And Battle Angel.

Battle Angel was the 3rd anime I’d ever watched (First: Galaxy Express 999, Second: Iria: Zarem the Animation). It was gory as fuck. They vivisected a dog ON SCREEN. And then Alita (Gally in the English dub) tore the guy’s arm off. And then you got to see Dr. Chiren’s tits when that guy broke into her apartment and begged her to fix him.

I fucking loved that shit.

I love Alita. I love her optimism, her blind lust for vengeance, her determination. I loved watching her fall in love and I cried with her when she lost that love. The anime doesn’t go into her backstory very much so there aren’t as many references to her fighting style or her memory flashbacks.

That anime also inspired me to get more physically fit and I took up jiu-jitsu, I wanted to be a fighter just like Alita. When the bullies at school came after me I did what I thought Alita would do and–no I didn’t get into any fights, my mom would have skinned me alive if I got in trouble like that–I became a more emotionally healthy person.

Alita was my role model. And I probably watched Battle Angel 100+ times. Until I discovered the manga.

Back then Battle Angel: Last Order and Alita: Mars Chronicle had not been written yet so there were only 9 graphic novel volumes (nothing compared to One Piece’s 600-whatever) but those could have been a fucking encyclopedia for all I cared. IT WAS SO MUCH BATTLE ANGEL AND I WAS SO FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT THEM.

I learned that Gally’s name was really Alita and I learned all about her past and motorball (motorball wasn’t in the anime) and the full story of her and Hugo. I didn’t have many positive male role models growing up so I really clung to the father/daughter relationship between Alita and Doc Ido.

And there were robot dogs. You can’t get angry with robot dogs.

I want to learn how to play the harmonica because Alita plays harmonica.

And then there was THE TRUTH behind Zalem and what it actually meant to be part of the floating city. Alita destroys a suicide booth, y’all. Like, a booth you go into when life is so great and conflict free you get bored and want to kill yourself. She just jumps in there and rips this huge gear out of the floor. And then she screams about hypocrisy for a little bit. It’s great.

Alita’s story gave and continues to give me joy, hope, and encouragement in these troubling times and, as a writer, her character development and story arc are fantastic inspirations. I want Regina to be my version of the Battle Angel (not a carbon copy of the character, of course, that would be plagiarism); funny and vulnerable, good hearted and tough as fucking nails.

And then back in January this year I heard a fragment of the movie trailer from another room and I thought to myself, “There’s no way that guy said Alita.” But I looked on YouTube just to make sure and I almost gave my mom a heart attack when I screamed with delight. ALITA BATTLE ANGEL IS ON THE BIG SCREEN!

HOLY SHIT

HOLY SHIT

HOLY SHIT

My favorite anime and manga character, my waifu if you want to dive that deep, was going to be in a major motion picture. And James Cameron had a hand in it. I knew, I just KNEW it was going to be epic.

And then my husband, Mr. J., crushed my dreams. He said all the reviews were bad and people were so disappointed and blah blah blah. And he said he didn’t want to see it with me even thought he would be visiting me during the opening week and our anniversary was the day before it released.

I told him I wouldn’t care if the movie was microwaved dog shit, I was still going to see it and I was going to damn well enjoy it because ALITA.

And then after it released Mr. J. ended up seeing it with me because more reviews had come out and they were less negative. And one of his co-workers saw it 3 times so he told me it couldn’t be that bad.

So, I’m pretty biased when I say that I thought the movie was fucking amazing. Even though there were some plot holes and they changed up a bunch of things.

I am going to talk about some of those things now. If you don’t want major spoilers do not read any further.

I want to write this letter to someone in particular but I can’t reach them because of reasons.

Everyday Life

Dear B–

I once asked you to describe containment in the hopes that words would become a tangible net or spell and I would be safe forever.

Now, instead of a chrysalis I want:

Emptiness

Extreme space

I want open sky

I want rolling storm clouds and I want to feel the sting of every piece of hail as it strikes the ground (it’s still cold here, still winter–mostly).

But even though I have room to run now my brain is still caught in this weird mind snare that maybe was always there, I don’t know how long I’ve been walking around not noticing.

I’m having some problems and creative outlets help but I still have this awful hollow feeling in my chest and maybe if my body dissolved in the river or the obscenely wonderful streaky pink sunset I’d feel better.

So I want to know, now, even though I don’t feel very proper asking you (it’s not about protocol it’s that there’s so much more going on in the world and it’s President’s Day) but I’d love to know your feelings about the open sky and how you would illustrate the opposite of containment.

Call it freedom if you like

Call it emptiness

Call it a void

Call it silence

Call it the loudest noise in the world, a volcanic eruption

Call it whatever it is that you need to feel a lack of containment.

Sincerely yours,

Jessica

Note: This is an open letter. I’d love to hear/read anyone who wants to answer. Thanks.

Anniversary

Everyday Life

So back in August 2014 I met my best friend. February 13, 2015 (Friday the 13th and the day before Valentine’s Day) we got married.

Shortly after my divorce and before I met Mr. J I made this list. I decided that if I was going to ever try to date again I needed to learn from my mistakes and do all the things better. And I wanted to find the exact opposite of my ex.

Funny thing: somehow we both forgot to ask each other what our political affiliations were until after we got married. Boy was that a surprise. I was all like: how did we go this long without having one political discussion? But it’s okay. Even though we disagree about some things, we still love each other, accept each other, and work together to make both of our lives better. That’s how respect works.

Henna for the civil ceremony.

It was a lovely, crisp, clear night when we got married.

In the morning it looked like this:

It’s was an awesome day! Today is awesome too! Here’s to this life and the next! Together forever! I love you Mr. J!

Clarification (or a couple’s inside joke that I think is hilarious but you probably won’t understand)

Everyday Life

Me: (texts Mr. J. a list of things I want him to bring from the apartment when he comes to visit)

Mr. J.: (calls me three seconds later) What do you mean by cat brush?

Me: The cat brush. Like the brush for cats?

Mr. J.: Oh ok, I just wanted to clarify that it was the cat brush and not some weird cat shaped brush thing that you have.

Me: (Laughs)

Mr. J.: (Laughs)

Me: I’m laughing because I can totally see why you need clarification.

Mr. J.: Yeah.

Imaginary Friends

Everyday Life

Do you have one?

Did you have one?

If you’re a writer, are your characters your imaginary friends?

Today I binge watched all of Sci Fi’s Happy on Netflix and it made me think a lot about the distinct lack of imaginary friends in my life.

I never made up a taking animal or another human that only I could see and interact with. I’ve always felt slightly less human because of that. I feel like everyone who’s truly creative had an imaginary friend somewhere in their childhood, which cuts me out of the True Creative category.

I did have a stuffed rabbit named Fuzzy in elementary school and later a stuffed frog named Filbert that I had all through high school and college. Filbert was more of an emotional support plushie, a therapeutic tool, while Fuzzy was my BFF.

Somewhere in first grade Fuzzy disappeared. I don’t know if I lost him at school or if my father threw him away because I was too old to be so attached to a stuffed animal or whatever. But with Fuzzy gone I was devastated.

At this point you may be wondering if I had any real friends growing up. The answer is not really. There were a few people but we only interacted at school or through school related activities, I never kept up with them and they never kept up with me once we changed schools.

So in a sense I made my own friends but I used inanimate objects to build my stories and characters upon. I never invented a creature out of thin air, from scratch until I started seriously writing fiction. But I don’t see my characters walking around helping me kill bad guys or cheat at poker. And even though my characters do talk to me it’s only in the context of their stories, they don’t exist in this world with me.

I kinda wish they did, it might make writing easier.

To anyone reading this: what’s your experience with imaginary friends? I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. And if you’ve seen Happy and if you liked it. I personally thought it was amazing.