In My Mind

A few days ago I watched a very excellent episode of Running Man based on Phantom of the Opera (you can watch it for free here). I got the main theme from the musical stuck in my head, and I’ve been singing it to myself ever since.

Curious about how the lyrics were related to the story (particulary the phrase “My power over you grows stronger yet”), I looked up the plot. I remember seeing the film as a teenager and not finding it particularly enjoyable, except for the famous theme, so it surprised me to read what a dark and macarbe story it told. The Phantom, disfigured from birth, hidden away from the world in a dark lair that he created for himself, tormenting the occupants of the Operahouse and killing (or threatening to kill) the inhabitants if they didn’t do as he demanded… I found it strangely appealing, even as I found it horrible.

Despite how ableist it is (set in the late 1800’s, so a different time to be sure), I really resonated with the idea of the Phantom. As someone who created a Domain themselves, I could appreciate the idea of having a place where I was all-powerful. I could relate to the idea of being outcasted, shamed, and rejected. And the Phantom kind of fills out the fantasy of being so powerful that others have no choice but to do as he wishes. I can see him as a sad and lonely figure, never knowing love or kindness despite being worthy of it. I see his gift for music, and wonder about the world that might have been if he was celebrated for who he was rather than shunned.

At the end of the day, as much as I admire the imagery, he murdered people so that he might feel loved. Christine was so frustrating tome, being so pure and loving that she would accept a life of misery or death to save others from his violence (very Desdemona).

I don’t really have anything productive to say, other than I seriously can’t stop singing this song in my head. It haunts me. Maybe Andrew Lloyd Webber is the real phantom.

Katawa Shoujo: Rin’s Path

As per usual, after I finished another storyline in Katawa Shoujo (one that unfailingly brought tears to my eyes) I spent a day staggering around the house like a stunned mullet, not being able to settle at any activity or concentrate on any conversation because I was so preoccupied making sense of my experiences. To help me process the incredible ocean of emotions (I’m sure that’s a saying. Someone at some point has surely coined that phrase) and jumble of thoughts, I blurted it all out on WordPress so that I could see it and make sense of it physically. This post contains spoilers about Rin’s storyline. I thought about tidying up the post, but I think the disorganised mess I became says something about the incredible emotional impact of the game. I’ve added some pictures though, because Rin man. Rin.

(I also spent several hours re-writing the Wiki page, because whoever edited it before me was a little clumsy and didn’t do her the justice she deserved. (I also touched up Lilly’s page, but the writers before me did an excellent job.))



I just finished Rin’s storyline, and I regret to say that I messed it up the first time around. I tried to make her explain to me what she didn’t have the words for. Hisao blew up and yelled at her in the atelier and she told him to leave because art was the most important thing in the world to her.

Rin is fundamentally different to other people in the way she sees the world and makes sense of her experiences. I mean, we’re all different. But she is so different she finds it hard to understand or relate to other people. That’s so difficult for her. And yet she is the same as people as well: she has feelings, even if she struggles to understand where they come from or what they mean, and she has the same yearning for connection and love. It’s easy to brush Rin off as “that weirdo” and never bother to try and deepen the connection, but Hisao did in a way that Emi didn’t: he persistently tried to understand and support her. He did it because he loved her, even if he wasn’t aware of it; all he knew was that she was important to him and he wanted to be part of her life.


She frustrated him by being aloof, by not understanding how he was feeling, by literally shrugging off things that he felt were important. He could not comprehend or connect with her, and his desperation to force a connection pushed her away. At different times they both tried to elevate their relationship, thinking it would be easier to deal with the confusion of not really knowing one another by ignoring it, kissing or more. In reality it just made it more confusing because neither of them knew what they wanted. (Hint: all they wanted was to accept and connect with one another.)

At the end, they are happy. Hisao feels that he understands her more, and that he can continue to reach out and connect with her (at least, every now and then), and that makes all the confusion and frustration worth it. Rin resolves that she is allowed to be herself: the sky, forever changing and perfect. She does not know who she is, but she’s okay with that. Hisao does not know who she is, and he’s getting better at being okay with it. (He’s trying to worry less and to live in the moment more.)


In the end, the distance between them is still there. But Rin gains the awareness that Hisao terrifies her because he’s kind to her (which confuses me) and she feels he wants her to change. He laughs it off, realising that he doesn’t want her to change, he loves her for who she is. He just wants to understand her better to that he can support her more. Rin accepts that, even though it’s scary, she’s willing to let him into her life, to be her friend (or something more).

Despite getting the bad ending early, there are still a few locked scenes. I’m not sure where to find them, but there are a few paths left that I haven’t gone down. It will be a bit of a heartwrench to replay the initial scenes where their relationship is still so early in its development, but it’ll be worth it. Just not right now – I still need time to process it. I’ll read the Wiki page on Rin’s branch later as well, and that blog that I was linked to. I’m glad I’ve played Rin’s story, but it’s the least satisfying for me because Hisao has changed in a way I find difficult to relate to, and Rin confuses and frustrates me with her difference. I find her so sweet, but she is also kind of unattainable, like (as Hisao observed) there’s a physical barrier that separates her as she walks her path of dreams and butterflies.

What a happy and confusing story.


To read my experiences of romancing the other girls, you can find them here:
Shizune and Misha
Lilly (2nd playthrough)

EDIT: I think what frustrated me most about Rin’s path was the lack of communication between the two. They just couldn’t see eye-to-eye, and so Hisao hardly ever got to understand how he was feeling or what it meant, and Rin hardly did either. I am a big fan of self-awareness, realisations and anagnorises in general. These were found in in Lilly’s story (where he realises he was always being supported by her and he never tried to support her in return) and in Emi’s story (where he realises she never lets him in and that it’s desperately important to get close to her somehow). His progression through Rin’s story feels (at least right now) like he just sort of bumbles his way through it, never really sure of his feelings for her and never trying to understand them, just being vaguely aware of them in his subconscious.


DOUBLE EDIT: I’ve realised something else that bother’s me about Rin’s storyline. Hisao doesn’t focus on his future profession – he’s too worried about his relationship with Rin. I can hardly blame him – I was the same – but it bothers me that he didn’t make any plans for what to do after graduation. And Rin’s unresolved future career worries me a little as well – did she end up throwing away a potential life as a career artist? I suppose those questions don’t need to be answered within the scope of the game – it’s something that she and Hisao will work out later (in their private time beyond the captured life on my computer screen). (It really does feel like they have lives of their own that I’m somehow privy to.)

TRIPLE EDIT: Re-reading my previous blog post about starting a new game, I’ve come to a new conclusion. This is a novel. I am reading (so to speak) about characters interacting with one another. I am witnessing their lives and their interactions, their thoughts and their feelings. I am witnessing them falling in love. I can relate to their feelings, their thoughts, their relationships. And I can admire and fall in love with the people in the story as well as I get to know them better and better. As I spend more time with them, in the sense of “witnessing/reading their lives as they open up to Hisao”. And that is a beautiful thing, which creates very real feelings in my own heart. I am so glad this is so well-written. Hisao is not my avatar, or somehow an expression of me: he is just a character whom I can relate to, whom I am fond of, and who interacts with other characters in a story that I love.

QUADRUPLE EDIT: I’m not sure how I feel about the emphasis on the “present” at the end of Rin’s story, after they’d made love. Hisao goes on about how important it is to live in the present and not worry about the future, and Rin’s tagline is “seize the day”. Not to be simplistic, but that struck me more as Emi’s thing than Rin’s. But I guess appreciation of the importance of mindfulness and not being able to change the future by worrying about it doesn’t have to be exclusive. [Just looked it up: Emi’s tagline is “Can you stand up for yourself?” In retrospect, that is more her thing than “Not worrying about the future”, but both of them can certainly relate to it.]

I do like the recurring theme of “aliveness”, how we know we’re alive by being present, right here, not worrying about even a second later.




QUINTUPLE EDIT: Having spent several more hours on the Wiki page, I realise that understandings of friendship are actually one of the central themes of Rin’s story. She says she’s never had friends; Emi is more of a big sister, Nomiya is more of an Uncle, and Hisao is… something else. Defining that “something else” is one of the driving elements of their relationship. At first he considers himself a friend because they spend time together, they fight and make up and they talk a lot. Later she wonders whether friends are physically intimate, whether they can be lovers. Hisao struggles with this as their relationship continues to evolve in undefinable ways. Such profound commentary!

Solo Player and Communicating in Guild Wars

I recently re-watched a good portion of the incredibly awesome anime Sword Art Online. Kirito’s experiences are powerfully nostalgic to me. As I mentioned a little while ago, I spent quite a lot of my childhood in the early hours of the morning playing RuneScape. I used to fantasise about it when I wasn’t playing, dreaming of the day when I reached Level 99 in all the skills (the first of any player) and people would be able to right-click my avatar and select “Bow to”, a special option they created just for me. I made friends online and invested much of myself into those relationships, but more often than not we would play in what I considered companionable silence. Yes, I’d see their name highlighted green to indicate they were online. But mostly I’d just do my own thing and work towards my own goals.


Having recently gotten back into the world of Guild Wars 2, I find that I am occasionally logging on late at night or early in the morning. Not out of any compulsion (although that certainly used to be a factor), but out of the pleasure of enjoying the game when I’ve had trouble sleeping, or as a guilty pleasure before bed. I play on an American server, so (with approximately 12 hours difference) there aren’t always many people who are online when I am. This is strongly reminiscent of the days when I’d sneak onto the family computer at 3am with no one to talk to apart from my American friends. The primary difference between now and a decade ago is the existence of a Guild Chat.


How does a humble chat-box revolutionise my online multi-player experience, I hear you silently ask? Well, The Wilderness Guardians, the RuneScape clan which I co-founded with my brother (who are still extremely influential in the game today) communicated through the in-game messaging system. We could talk directly to each other, or otherwise out-loud to any nearby players, and that was it. The only way we could talk to one another was by dropping whatever we were doing and typing it out. (Just as I left, they started using TeamSpeak, and I would often wake at 4am to hear my brother yelling at his subordinates.)


Guild Wars 2 differentiates itself with having a number of different conversation options. You can “whisper” directly to another player, as if communicating telepathically. You can “say” something out loud to those in the vicinity. You can announce something directly to the “map”, telling everyone in your world some message or another. You can speak directly to your “party” if you have something directly relevant to say to the small group you’re playing with. Or you can take part in your “guild” conversations, which in my case are frequently inane chatters about rare items, invitations to run through dungeons, or crude jokes about yiffing.


Why is this relevant? Well, logging on in the early hours of the morning can be an awfully lonely experience. I’ve almost always preferred playing games by myself – the single player experience has a magic in it that is deeply personal. Games speak to you, heart-to-heart. Multi-player games can be a lot of fun as well, sharing in a wonderful experience, cooperating or working against other human beings in a joined activity. But for the most part, I have always preferred walking the road alone and wondering in the majesty of a virtual world. Yet sometimes, aloneness can feel very lonely. Like Kirito, for all that made him different, his skill, his knowledge, his attitude, he enjoyed the companionship of those closest to him and he found the game was more rewarding as a result. Sometimes having that guild chat option can feel like, however lonely the road, there’s still a line that’s out there to tug on just to let people know you’re alive.

Finding People to Connect With

There seems to be a distance between most other people and I. On some level, they are unable to relate to me, and I to them. All the friendliness, care and kindness in the world cannot make up for this lack of familiarity. Specifically, I’m having trouble connecting to my colleagues at work. I can (literally) hold someone when they are feeling vulnerable, I can empathise with them when they’ve experienced a great loss, I can laugh at their jokes and work hard and be the perfect sales assistant. But it does not mean they will like me. It confuses me how I can treat someone with great kindness and care my whole life, and yet those same people can take out their irritations on me whenever they’re upset.

As I have mentioned before, being liked by colleagues is an important part of working if you’re in any kind of team. Being favoured, particularly by management, leads to all kinds of favours and special treatments. More hours, convenient days, being allowed to surf the web, standing around talking instead of working, taking longer breaks and getting paid for them and so forth. These luxuries, while I don’t need them to draw gratification from the pleasure of working, are certainly convenient. But I seem to be treated with a kind of confused misunderstanding, a tolerance rather than a celebration.

And I can’t help but wonder: it is me or is it them? Eleanor Roosevelt is reported to have said: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people.” This is something that has really resonated with me. I know in my heart that I care about more important things than bouncy hair and expensive dinners and shiny cars, and that the ideas I think about are sometimes pretty big. Could it be that, as in the 41st verse of the Tao Te Ching, foolish people mock me for following a path of virtue which they do not understand?

Or is this arrogance entirely to do with my own ego and my difficulty connecting with others? Is there something fundamentally different about the way I think and who I am, and that difference creates the fear that leads to distance and distrust? I must confess, at times I wonder if I have some kind of social disorder without realising it. Am I just an oddball who can’t get along with others?

I lose sight of what’s what because the issue is too close to my heart. But I am grateful that not all of my relationships are like those I experience at work. I have a few friends who I dearly love, and who love me, in whose conversation I delight and whose ideas I admire. And it gives me hope that maybe it’s not just me, and that “my people” are out there.

Gosh, I do hope I’m not a socially inept weirdo. T’would be awfully lonely if no one appreciated the things about me that I love so much.

Sweepers and supporters

There are many different kinds of roles. Some people want to push their way to the front, to be pack leaders. Others are content staying wherever they are based on how people rush around them.


A very kind lady once described to me the concept of a “sweeper”. In the navy (I think), the two most important people were the leader and the sweeper. The leader’s role was obvious: to head the group, to issue commands, to keep everyone organised and disciplined and so forth. But not everybody realised that the sweeper had an important role: while all eyes were on the leader, the sweeper would be at the back of the group, making sure no one got left behind. She told me that they always chose someone with great compassion to be the sweeper, and that I had chosen that role willingly.


Through my recent exploits in Guild Wars 2, I’ve done some thinking about what sort of character build I wanted to create. At first I went with the tried and true philosophy of being able to do large amounts of damage per second (DPS) so that I could kill enemies before they killed me. After a while though, I realised I didn’t want to play this kind of build, nor was my character suited to it. Instead I created a build that took take large amounts of damage while applying boons to those around me. My philosophy was that I would draw the aggression of the enemy, weathering the blows and supporting my team as they took it down on my behalf. I also went with the (uncommon) build of being a healer, resurrecting people at a faster rate, rather than having a higher DPS or another popular skill set. I particularly enjoy mega-events where world bosses kill players by the dozen, and while I might appear to be on the front lines as an attacker, my secret role is to get everyone back on their feet before they taste death.


At the end of the day, I am much happier floating around in the background, working behind the curtains to make sure things go smoothly. I do not usually like drawing attention to my work. Instead, I draw a quiet satisfaction from seeing it done without anyone realising who did it.

Early morning ramblings

There is a magic about being on the internet in the early hours of the morning. I cannot seem to shake the feeling of being in a space that is somehow entirely different, like an alternate reality, like a virtual world suspended in time. A place where the dew on the Forest floor has not yet been disturbed, when all the world is sleeping but me. It is, as I said, a thing of magic.

Nourishing the soul and airing shame

This morning I was reading a blog post by Bethwyn which was a collaboration of wonderful things said by wonderful people. As I was reading some of the articles and watching the videos, I felt a lot of things. I realised that even though I’m unemployed, I’ve been keeping myself super busy so that I didn’t have to look at how terrifying it is to not have a job, to not feel purposeful and helpful to others. And I’m sure there’s a whole blog post on that topic, but I’m not going to talk about it right now. I realised that in spite of how scared I am about “not doing things”, if I actually take the time to “not do things” I really enjoy it. I really enjoy driving without listening to Hamish and Andy, to see the sky and feel the wind, to see the peacocks (I SAW A PEACOCK YESTERDAY. I did a U-turn to go back and stare at it, and I parked across the road while I contemplated calling the ranger. It wandered back through a fence on an apparently empty property and I decided that someone else could deal with the joyful surprise of a peacock in their back yard). I really enjoy not playing video games so that I can sit down and drink tea, and play with Bronte, and write blog posts and go through two weeks worth of emails which I’ve been procrastinating. I really enjoy not spending time with others so that I can spend more time with Beth, and myself. These are the things which I’ve become addicted to lately in order to mask how crappy I’ve been feeling. But ironically, when I stop trying to mask it, I realise I don’t feel crappy at all.


That said, I still really, really love playing Fallout. There are times when I use video games (and other leisures) as a distraction, and there are times when they are soul nourishing. It’s not always easy to tell sometimes, but I think it’s important to stop every now and then and go, “Am I doing this out of habit? Or am I doing this because I genuinely want to?” And if it turns out to be the former, to change something (the activity, the attitude, the people etc.) so that it becomes the latter.


I’m also inspired to talk a little more about some of the things that we (as a society) tend to pretend don’t exist. I want to talk about things that I’m ashamed of, and things I’m insecure about. I find that really, really hard. But I hope that if more people open up about their insecurities and shames, then it will allow other people to as well.


I feel insecure about my hair. If you don’t know, I’m trying to grow it into a sweet ponytail. I really love the feel and look of long hair, but I think that people judge me by it, and when I’m feeling very vulnerable I often want to cut it all off.

I’m too scared to be myself, to stand up and challenge others for what I want. I give in so easily to avoid conflict.

I put myself before others and often don’t consider how they are or how they’re feeling.

I often avoid social situations that would allow people to get to know me.

I still feel scared around Aboriginal Australians who meet my stereotypes, even though they’ve done nothing wrong.


This has been a poorly written blog post but I’m going to publish it anyway, because it segues into another blog that I’m a little bit scared to write… If this blog has been helpful to you, I’m very glad.

Peace all.