Friday, January 11, 2008

Daily Grinding

Lately I've been thinking a lot about why I've been so silent. It just sort of happened that all of the sudden I couldn't get any inclination to blog, to write, to do any sort of productive thought processing. When I started working in the clinic I thought that I'd have a lot of things to jot down, specifically about my education in college in regards to women's health versus working in the middle of it. Certainly I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started my job, and now I've learned that I can't have any expectation as to what any day is going to be like. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've come across some shocking and difficult situations and I'm trying to learn how to deal with it. In the past I was able to write about it, but right now it's too soon.

And it feels stupid to write it, but I'm going to anyway. I just had no idea. Studying and learning about domestic violence in college and job training is completely different from when you actually find yourself taking the blood pressure of a woman who lies to you about the bruises on her body.

One of the best things about feminism for me has always been that it has given me a sense of hope. It has always been a revolution to me. My job and feminism intertwine and I relish that. Yet I am amazed at how far I've come down to where I only feel and notice burden--the weight of it in the lives of the women I meet, and my own that I carry with me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's the New Year and damn if this blog needs an update

It's been months since I've posted. I never even considered in the past how office jobs and school fueled my internet hobby, as now when I get home I don't even want to check my email or look at my computer.

But it's a new year and I made new resolutions and I'm typing this post on a new computer. I plan, starting now, to try to update this blog at least every other week and I'm dedicating at least one night a week to the poor (yet determined!) and important Jade Reporting. I pinky swear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pitfalls

Apologies for being away for so long. With the new job comes new stress due to a steep learning curve and I’m adjusting to an environment that is completely unlike anything I’ve been in before. Whereas I used to sit in a cubicle staring at the clock, I am now running around, arranging charts, answering phones and grabbing a quick sip of water or bite to eat when there’s a small break in the rush of patients. It’s definitely challenging, and I’m hoping to hit my stride soon.

To deal with the stress I’ve broken out my used copy of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey for the X-Box. I bought it for under 20 bucks on the suggestion of my visiting and adorable younger gamer cousin. It didn’t really bother me that I didn’t first play The Longest Journey, as I’ve started a lot of series playing sequels first.

I immediately felt that I could identify with Zoë (though not because she first appears in her underwear!). The first things that you find out about her is that she dropped out of school, broke up with her boyfriend, and moved back in with her dad. She’s lost and disillusioned, which is, I’ve found, a common emotional domain of many 20-somethings. The story of Dreamfall is excellent: it’s filled with cross-dimensional political conspiracy. While not all characters were completely developed, I noticed that there was a definite effort to give specific attitude and background to many of the NPCs—something that is usually ignored in many other games.
That doesn’t save it, however, from some huge complaints that I have. In a game that features so much diversity in its characters, I was appalled that the developers relied on some pretty insensitive and stereotypical portrayal of Chinese people. How many games do I have to play that feature a Chinese NPC wearing ancient-China style robes and hair, sporting extremely slanty eyes and speaking with a mouth full of buck teeth high-pitched and quivering English? Another aspect that confused me was how the very beginning of the game, which takes place in Tibet, features NPCs talking in their native tongue. I liked hearing an unfamiliar language. I initially thought it cool that a game that travels the world would feature different languages instead of just pretending that everyone speaks English. Yet after the first chapter in the game that completely vanished.

There was a lot of good in Dreamfall: specially the complex story, the game’s focus on women characters, and it’s genuine diversity. While playing the game, I kept comparing it to Indigo Prophecy, and found Dreamfall much more satisfying. However, there was a lot lacking too. Despite two of the main characters being women, the game didn’t lack sexism. Despite the game’s push towards multiculturalism, it had racist elements and was specifically grounded in white privilege. While these aspects really did turn me off to the game in a lot of ways, I have to admit that I’m hooked. I ordered The Longest Journey (soon to come in the mail) and am awaiting the next installment(s) of the series. I’m anxious to continue the narrative and see if it’s shortcomings continue or are improved upon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Full-time

The job search is over. I'm officially gainfully employed, with health benefits and everything. My official title is that of a reproductive health assistant, which means I do a little bit of a lot of things at a women's health clinic.

I feel lucky to get the position and damn lucky to have to opportunity to work a feminist job, doing something I'm passionate about, for a company with a mission statement I agree with.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Some of the Same

Yesterday my brother let me come over to do some (free!) laundry. So in the midst of suds and folding I checked out a couple of demos on his 360.

Beautiful Katamari was first. I really like the controller for the 360 and think it’s a vast improvement over both controller models for the original Xbox. But in the context of Katamari, it was a bit awkward to play on a controller where the analog sticks aren’t side by side. I realize I’m being picky—it’s something I’m sure most people won’t have any problems with.

It was also disappointing to see that in Katamari’s third console incarnation that the camera is still wonky. And even though the graphics are bit brighter and a bit shinier, Beautiful Katamari is the same game as the first two. I don’t think online capabilities will do much in revolutionizing the formula either. It’s sure to be some fun, but there’s no way I’d shell out sixty bucks to play a game I essentially already own.

The demo I was truly excited to play was Eternal Sonata. This is the game I’d own a 360 for. Made by Tri-Crescendo (one of the two companies behind the Baten Kaitos games), I expect a ton out of it and its original premise of Chopin having delirious deathbed dreams. It. Is. Gorgeous. The visuals are dreamy and colorful. The music swirls and bends. The battles are fast-paced and genuinely fun. You only have a specific amount of time for your turn, so it’s similar to the Baten Kaitos series except it doesn’t feature cards. (People interested in the game probably already know about the light/dark features of battles as well.)

Yet I was crushed by what I gleaned from the gender roles of Eternal Sonata. The demo features no story, but it’s easy to tell what the prescribed roles are for the three characters that you control. The leader of the group is Allegretto, a pretty boy with a sword. We then have Polka, our cute and weak heroine who heals and whacks foes with an umbrella. Finally, there’s Beat, an eager and adorable young boy with an oversized gun. I love me my JRPGs and am not surprised with the common gender clichés that are often presented. But seriously, I’d like to see more. That said, I don’t know if there will be other characters that might push the gender envelope, but as of this moment, I’m doubting it.

After playing the Eternal Sonata demo, I’m left having to make a compromise that I always have to make. I know that when I do get a 360 down the line, I’ll most likely pick this game up. It has so much else going for it that I know I’ll enjoy, but I’m going to have to end up pushing the gender issues present in the game to the back of my mind. This has happened before with games that I’ve particularly enjoyed--Dragon Quest 8 and Tales of Symphonia, I’m looking at you.

While it’s true that I’m fully capable of enjoying a game despite problematic gender presentations, I’m tired of having to make so many compromises. And I know that I’m not alone—other gamers that are queer, identify as female and aren’t white often have to make the same type of aggravating decision when it comes to choosing a game to play.

Friday, September 07, 2007

*Shudder*

Scrolling through my RSS Feeds I come across some potentially upsetting news:
Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired the film rights to the anime classic Robotech, with Tobey Maguire producing through his Maguire Entertainment.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor is considering the lead role in the futuristic tale of giant robots and alien invaders. The studio plans on the sci-fi epic becoming a tentpole franchise.
Warner Brothers? Tobey Maguire? Tobey Maguire as Rick?  And I can just see Minmei being cast as not-Chinese.  This screams bad idea.

And in non-nerd news, I quit my temp job this week.  Here's to some self-dignity, an empty wallet, and a stack of resumes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rat Racing

Warning: I'm about to launch into some post-grad, twentysomething-crisis whining.

In February, I was hired on as a temp-to-perm at a big corporate company. I was damn happy because a steady job with benefits seemed just out of my reach. When I started, I found that there was another temp in my department. I was a bit deflated to learn that he'd already been working for 7 months as a temp to perm, but I pushed some of my doubts aside--I sat near the HR department and saw that new people were being hired all the time. I figured I just had to wait my turn.

Months have gone by and I've become incredibly disillusioned and bored. I'm no fan of corporate culture, and I'm continuously stressed out because I never know which project I'm given is going to be my last. But I've been sticking with it because no matter how shitty I feel, the job is paying the bills. I have been applying to other jobs, as I want some stability and need insurance hardcore, but noting is panning out. The internship is the exact thing I've been looking for, but the organization is new and has no money as of yet to hire me on full time, though they've expressed interest.

Recently the other temp in my department quit--he was simply sick of doing the same job for a year straight that is obviously integral to the operation of the department. He would inquire every once and awhile to see if the company would be interested in hiring him permanently, but they'd also turn him down. After he left, I found myself sitting in a situation where maybe, just maybe, I could move into his position, where the temping would be more stable, or perhaps I'd even get hired full time.

It's not going to happen. I found out today that they already hired someone new. Not as a temp, but as a full-time, fully benefited, employee. It doesn't matter that I'm already familiar with the work or that I've been here for six months. They're not going to hire me. I asked about my job performance, and I was told that I'm doing excellent work. So I don't know what it is--maybe they think I'm too young and am therefore more likely to move on sooner than someone else? Or is it something else?

Either way, I feel like crap. I check the job listings and nothing seems promising. My self-esteem has hit the rocks. I've developed some chronic health conditions since graduating, but have put off going to the doctor because I can't afford it, and I'm going to need to keep putting it off. Plus, I'm still endlessly stuck in temp limbo--who knows when they'll not need me here any longer?