Stina the trouble-maker is back. Mwhahahahaha! I hope your holidays were excellent and that you're all rested up and ready to take on 2013 full force. Me? I had a wonderful time. Got some gaming done. (I finally made significant progress in BioShock for one thing. And saw a lot of folks I missed for another.) And now, it's time to get back to work because it's January. And stuff. This first post for 2013 will be a two parter, by the way. I've to much to say to squeeze it into one post, and I'd like to think and discuss along the way.
"The first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last it and not be smashed by it." ― Ernest Hemingway
For the record, I'm not a big fan of Hemingway. There's something about all that self-obsessed macho bluster that totally turns me off. Although, I do think he did get a number of things right--not the least of which is the above quote. Strength has multiple definitions, but speaking as a daughter of a mechanical engineer and as someone who studied architecture, strength has always meant resilience to me. However, somewhere along the way, (in American culture at least) it appears to have sloughed off all definitions but one: imperviousness.
I like crime fiction and action movies. It's entirely possible I like them more than my husband does--judging by our film collection this is certainly true. However, it came to my attention sometime during the Arnold Schwarzenegger era that the Action Hero™ was evolving into something I no longer liked. That is, a crass bastard who didn't give a shit about anything but vengeance and sex. By the time Hudson Hawk came out in 1991, action heros were so impervious that the laws of physics had ceased to factor against them. Gunshot wounds that would send a normal person into stupefying shock were laughed off. Most actors don't even flinch any more. Leaps from three story buildings, car crashes, all result in carrying on as if nothing happened. Hell, they're even known to out run, even out walk explosions. And then there's the psychological aspect: emotionally, your average action hero might as well be dead. The only emotion that remains to signify life is anger. I had a hunch back then that this culture of vengeance wouldn't lead in good directions. It's one thing when such stories are but part of what one consumes--it's quite another when they are the ONLY thing one consumes. Stories are important, you see. What we strongly identify with says a great deal about who we are, or who we want to be. They can influence our outlook too. To quote Madge from those dish soap commercials, "You're soaking in it."
And somewhere along the way emotions (particularly emotions like empathy, kindness, and love) got a reputation for weakness. That's something that I simply don't understand. It takes far more strength and courage to risk being hurt through emotional availability than it does to be closed off--particularly when you've been hurt before.
So I find it interesting when people claim that my characters aren't strong because they do get damaged. To me, that's only realistic. Strength is getting hurt, getting back up again, limping forward, and reeling with the blows. Strength isn't about not getting hit in the first place. That's something else. That's luck, maybe even privilege. Strength is feeling and hurting and crying and continuing to do what needs doing anyway. Ask any mechanical engineer or architect about strength, and they'll tell you that any substance that can't react to outside forces is brittle and more likely to fail. Bridges and buildings in earthquake zones are designed to bend with the flow of forces around them. The tallest buildings are designed to give way to the wind. Those are the buildings that remain standing. Those are the ones that last.
And you know what? When I think upon Hemingway... as much of a reputation as he had for manliness and strength--he shattered in the end.
 I may even finish a game for the first time ever. When we have a new game in the house, Dane plays it to death. By the time I get to it, everyone has moved on to five or six other big games. I've read that in a mixed gender household with one computer, the male gets the computer access. I hadn't considered it before. However, it's very true. Luckily, we're not a one computer household. Nonetheless, if I start to play a game I almost instantly feel I'm intruding on Dane's space--even if he's playing a game on his computer, and I'm on the XBox. We both react like that, only he's merrily telling me it's okay for me to play, and I'm apologising for being on the system so long. (Note to self: get out of that habit.) He works in the gaming industry. I don't--not any longer. So, I feel it's more important for him (like reading is for me.) In addition, I feel bad for taking so much time away from writing. Dane wants me to play because he knows I enjoy it, and it's one of the things we have in common.
 The worst of this lot was Hollow Man in which Elizabeth Shue and one of the male characters slowly climb up a ladder and yet somehow avoid being hit by an explosion.
 Before anyone goes off on a tear about violence in entertainment please take into consideration that while the effects of sustained exposure to violence are inarguably real, they are also short term in most people. This is why I believe awareness is key, not denial or absolute avoidance.