Memories

Yesterday evening, I visited an old friend who was recovering from a major stroke, and I honestly would not trade that night for anything. I was lost in thought on the way back home about one thing more than anything else:

Memories are what make us who we are. Literally. Maybe philosophically people may disagree but I think even then they do. When we forget our past, we really can move on. When we remember the past, we can choose to accept the circumstances that are out of our control and live in a new positive light.

He has changed remarkably since the last time I met him. He had the widest grin when we first came in his room to visit, and it made me point that out and smile even bigger. We talked a lot, from jokes to deep, tearful conversations. He called it his second chance at life, and when he spoke about his son, his voice cracked and I knew he was hurting inside all along. He has such a gentle, loving heart for kids, not just his own. But of everyone he does remember, his kid went through a lot, and it even hurt me to know that his son knew and saw everything even when his dad thought he was asleep. And yet, he is still the wonderful and jokester kid that he is. In that moment, despite not revealing any tears, I shared that moment of sorrow with him. The two have been through a lot, and the world isn’t void of problems.

The people he remembers the most were the people he loved the most. I think in a morbid sense, yes, that is fascinating to me. He isn’t the type to be easily offended though and I love his personality for matching mine in that aspect. He couldn’t remember my other friend’s ex when we mentioned them, and even when put to the test I think he even had a hard time remembering my and my sister’s names haha. But I don’t blame him. He remembered my friend because the two have known each other for so long, through thick and thin. He has always been that kinda guy – a ride or die friend. I will always cherish and respect him for his values and outlook, even through his mistakes. I accept those too because he chooses to make himself a better person now. Just as much I have done for myself.

I’ve always been the dark jokester and today we told him the math book joke I first thought of when I heard that he suffered a stroke. We all had a good laugh about it. But one thing I didn’t get the chance to say is that he almost didn’t seem like he had a stroke. He’s doing quite well in recovery, albeit I did see him trip up in memory more than a few times. It’s just that he’s so fixated on bettering himself now. He has such a positive outlook he isn’t even worried about the eviction’s notice and property loss once he makes it out of rehab/therapy. At that moment, I admired him for his resilient spirit and positive determination to make things right. He wants to live to see his son grow up, and in his breaking tears I saw the dad I wished I could have. I told him he was a better dad than he thinks he is.

He didn’t need to have the best memory to be the best person he could be. All it took was for him to reflect on his past to change himself. Memories on a grander scale can break us as a person – it’s that power, that burden of knowledge that weigh heavily on us. In his first two weeks of awakening he said he was like a vegetable. He only is just remembering things now and is doing so much better physically, mentally, arguably spiritually. Without these memories, whether good or bad ones, I think we would all be less than sentient ourselves. That’s why we need to cherish the moments, and live in the “now,” use the past as a lesson than dwell on it, and look forward to new hopes and futures.

And maybe that’s part of the attractive quality of a diary, or at least writing is to me. Even when I forget in the daily train of thoughts, coming back to read my past experiences that my past self wrote in the time and moment that it occurred is an unmistakable feeling of reminisce, nostalgia, sorrow, whatever it was about. And even just for a moment I can relive it, remembering why it was so important to me. I use that as a sort of determination and inspiration for myself.

For someone as forgetful as me, memories mean the world to me. If I didn’t remember who I was, like in those first weeks of awakening for my friend, wouldn’t that mean you’re a changed person, a blank slate? If you don’t remember the people around you – I could see now just how painful that could be for others who love you. Are you then a nobody without your memories? I think, therefore I am, the saying goes. The very sustenance of being is as ephemeral as the existence of thought.

A Deeper Slumber

For the first time in my life, I have never felt so violated.

For the first time in my life, I never felt so free after letting go of something I would never give up.

For the only time in my life, I knew how the dead felt: to release their loved ones from grief, knowing that one day we’ll meet again.

These are the dreams that make me wonder – are you testing me?

The Illusion of “Beauty”

“Listen to the rhythm of life, and when you look, do not accept but project. Feel what the other is feeling and make what they have felt what you feel. Speak only their own desire to them in a calm, soft voice, and they will see you as beautiful as they wish themselves to be.”

Jeffrey Ford, “The Beautiful Gelresh”

What’s So Scary?

I was mulling over some notes in preparation over a final and one thing stuck out to me that I’ve been wanting to write a quick blurb about.

In the last lecture of my sci-fi film class, the professor asked a simple but profound question:

“What’s so scary about babies born with a birth defect, and being called ‘unbabies’?”

The term “unbabies” come from The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian/speculative fictional world where babies born with a birth defect aren’t actually considered babies, but unbabies, similar to some parallel of the undead. It is an interesting topic, especially in this political climate relevant to abortion debates.

But a familiar, usually shrill, voice in the back replied, this time in a deeper and more somber tone:

“A guy like me couldn’t be born.”

He said it quickly and without any refrains, so I think that actually emphasized the sad quality of such a statement. There was a certain finality and sadness to it. Usually, this student is very loud and outspoken, and often annoys the class and professor. But it hit me hearing this and my perspective was enlightened. I have had three special needs students in a couple of my classes and all of them equally annoying, including one other that I won’t really mention specifically where. But knowing this gave me a sense of sympathy, or maybe pity — and some hope.

It gives me a sort of strength, a reminder, to be kind and patient all the more. I never had to worry about my existence, unlike a lot of people in this world, including my own siblings. I can’t stop hearing these words echo in my head.


A guy like me

 

couldn’t be born.

Catherine

So recently I’ve been watching game-plays of Catherine over again, and it’s made me realize a few things that I hadn’t noticed before. One, how genius the writers are; two, the psychology of a man; and three, a realization with my own dreams.

Catherine is a puzzle solving game with an anime styled cut-scene and animation that has such a riveting story and plot to it. While it may be for more mature audiences, and even has me feeling embarrassed at some points, it gets an overall “well done” from me. I constantly would be mentally solving the block puzzles myself, and it is true that it’s such a unique, while still a story adhering game. The tower of blocks Vincent must climb is truly metaphorical, something I commend the writers and designers of the game for.

If you haven’t already watched or played this game, you should check it outThat way you know what I’m talking about. Oh, and spoiler alert, even if its an old game. 😛

It really has been a long time since I last watched this with my sister. She knows the best games to watch, as stupid as that sounds since we’re not actually playing it. But we enjoy them for their story, and like me, mentally solving before the player makes the next move in my head is fun too, even if I can’t mechanically make those moves myself. Strangely, I started watching it again, and it is still a compelling story with its own charm that I so enjoy.

It begins with the ingenuity of the writers. You start out with a simple story, about a man and his girlfriend (Katherine) in a mundane world, with mundane problems, only exaggerated from the start once (the other) Catherine shows up. The duality of the name resemblance also elicits a tongue-in-cheek reaction from me. How simple, yet complicated, is this one letter change of a difference? It means the world, literally in this case, to make that distinction.

And as these relationship problems and emotional turmoils builds up, you delve more and more deeper into another kind of world, one that some married men might jokingly describe as an eternal place of torture. But, it really does become that for Vincent. In fact, all of a sudden, we see supernatural crazies happen, as dreams/fantasies blur with reality. In some instances, our dreams and fantasies become reality. That is after all, called an illusion: what Catherine is as a being, a succubus.

The execution of the story was so aligned and so tactfully arranged in such a way that any player watching or playing the game might not have realized this until the supernatural clues were spoken out loud by the characters themselves. I love this kind of story,one that just unfolds naturally and chronologically makes sense, even in such a naturally chronologically blurred timeline that involves dreams. How amazing is that, that a story involving something that should not make sense, does?

There’s something charming about dreams. At least for me, it’s not that I read into them anymore than I should, but they are still vaguely a story. We laugh, cry, and feel in them just as much as a coherent, fluid, and real story. We sometimes remember them, and sometimes don’t. For someone like me, I remember a lot of my dreams. But sometimes, just like Vincent, I wake up tired and exhausted even after I’ve rested well. Is it perhaps because I invest too much energy in them, even if subconsciously? Maybe some of these experiences are mutual to the writers of Catherine, and maybe that might be a part of the inspiration or motivation for how the story became. Either ways, or if none of it all, it was an interesting thought that occurred to me.

The other thing that stood out to me about this game the second time around, is that I’m beginning to understand the character’s psychology, specifically, all the male characters in the game who fall to the succubus’ trap. How can someone be so cruel to their girlfriend of long standing and cheat? What is the thought process of someone who cheats on another? It’s not exactly a male exclusive mentality, but the character insight, their actions, their reactions, their words, and the comparisons of all three in conjunction or dissonance with each other — it was almost enlightening. When Vincent demanded to meet Catherine and coerces Thomas to summon her, he is so determined, yet as soon as she instantly appears, he becomes a fool and acts shy, awkward, and little afraid. The saying/idea is the same and well known: men become fools for women. But thinking more than just that, their thought process is fascinating: if their ideal type is right there before them, they become confused, or suppress any other moral conscience. Perhaps it might be a shallow thought; who couldn’t resist someone who is the perfect ideal type, appearance wise? Women and men clearly have different chemical balances and makeups, and therefore a mental state or psychology to them. So is it true that men are purely in it for the looks? That all men are pigs? That might be a huge generalization, but for a moment, I could believe the justification on why Vincent cheated on Catherine. It was all in his head after all — the illusion, the affair, even his inner dialogue. It is revealing that internal struggle to the audience, ultimately, that also revealed his most human nature, even if by most standards it is wrong. After all, no human is exempt from sin, and perhaps that’s why even for a moment I felt understanding for him even though I have never dated before, or could ever know what he was going through.

What I found so fascinating was the complexity of the conflict within the basic story. Even more so, the connection to dreams even gave it an element of horror, when Vincent realized Katherine was after all a succubus and could not pin a shred of her existence until he remembers Thomas the bartender. How wonderfully simple! The solution is simple, but the journey, especially in the final levels of the puzzle solving madness, was not.

I’ve always always always seen dreams as “movies inside of my head, every night when you sleep in your bed” to quote DHMIS. It’s hilarious to think about, but to me I’ve had some of the most fantastical dreams, or the saddest dreams, that would end and I’d lay there on my bed trying to go back (sometimes successfully and/or regretfully) or to just ponder about. I love sharing them, but it’s hard to relate to when it’s a jumbled mess that only you can make sense of. All I can do, is place them out piece by piece on an online diary like this for my own enjoyment to read back on. And I’ve always wanted them to last, so I can remember. I imagine the worst way to die (for me personally) would be to have Alzheimer’s, where I don’t remember anything and decay day by day. But perhaps that itself, is another dream that becomes reality, where every day is “a movie.”