19 August, 2015


I don't want to get all "after school special", but a seatbelt and an airbag may have saved my life last night. It's terrible, but fifteen years of driving without anything worse than a scrape and a broken taillight tends to make you overconfident. You take it for granted that you have control over this ton of steel careening down the roadway. In my case, I was further spoiled by over three years of driving in wild (I'm not going to say wonderful :p) West Virginia, where it's not unusual to be going 45 mph around winding back country roads. I felt invincible. In hindsight (and isn't that always the kicker?), I was going much faster than I should have been. I wish a cop had pulled me over, but to be honest, I wasn't going super duper fast, just faster than was safe. It was the turn that did me in. Really sharp, with minimal warning. When you see those yellow curve warning signs with suggested speeds greatly reduced from the road's regular speed limit, or those signs with the chevron arrows pointing left or right, they're there for a reason.

I took that 90+ degree S-curve (more like the first bend in a W-curve) too fast, may have run over some gravel, and lost control of the car. I wanted it to veer left, to stay on the road, but I no longer had the power to manipulate its massive momentum. I was headed way too fast into a row of large concrete blocks located just off the side of the road, and I knew that this was it - I was going to crash. The brakes couldn't stop me - it was an inevitability; space and time were inextricably linked, and conspiring to send me into that obstacle. There was no longer any side to side, only one dimension: ahead, and all it contained was a great big dead end. It happened too fast to think, and yet at the same time, I remember every second. When the car hit the obstacle, it stopped in remarkable time - considering the speed it was moving at - and I remember seeing the airbag coming towards me. Just like that, I had gone from cruising along the road with music playing on the radio, to being at ground zero of the sort of car crash I'd only ever seen in the movies.

I heard a loud ringing in my left ear. My face was numb, probably from the impact of the airbag. Otherwise, I felt pretty much okay, considering what had just happened. I was concerned about my friend in the passenger seat, and immeasurably relieved to find that she was alive and responsive. There was a lot of smoke in the car - a side-effect from the deployment of the airbags - which made it rather hard to breathe, and left a bad, chalky taste in my mouth. I felt compelled to get out of the car, partly to get some fresh air, and partly because I didn't know how bad the damage to the car was, and Hollywood has conditioned me to expect an explosion. (Thankfully, there was no explosion). But before stepping out, I instinctively grabbed for my keys. They were locked in the ignition. I tried shutting it off, only to realize that the car was still in drive. I tried to put it into park, then remembered that you have to put your foot on the brake first. That the car was in a state of engagement, yet not moving, was a decidedly counterintuitive situation.

I figured it out quickly and retrieved my keys, then exited the vehicle. I walked behind the car and over to the passenger side, away from the road. My friend stepped out, and we confirmed to each other that we were more or less okay. Our adrenaline was still pumping, and I know I was pretty shaken up, but we were walking, which is a good sign. It was pretty dark (about 9:30 at night), but I realized that I wasn't seeing clearly - because my glasses weren't sitting on my face. I didn't remember losing them, but they must have come off during the crash. I felt a couple of lumps on my face, and my friend told me I was bleeding. Thankfully, it was nothing more than a few surface scratches, presumably caused by the nose pads of my glasses as they flew off my face. My friend reached back into the car and found first her glasses, and then mine - both of which ended up in the back seat. My glasses weren't broken, which is good, but they were bent up quite a bit.

Then came the aftershock, in which we had to process the catastrophe that had just occurred, and figure out what to do next. My friend's been in a few accidents throughout her life, so she had more experience than I did. I was just incredibly relieved that we had both survived - and in relatively good condition, too. My car didn't make out quite so well. We called AAA and had them send a tow truck, though it took a good 45 minutes or longer to get to us. In the meantime, my friend called her son-in-law, who drove out to meet us, and ultimately gave us a ride home. Uncertain of the extent of our injuries, we decided to head to the hospital to get a few X-rays (and some peace of mind). Although not before several hours of anxiety-inducing waiting (you know how hospitals are). (On the lighter side, you know you're passing when you go in for an X-ray, and the nurse asks you, "any chance of pregnancy?"). I checked out fine - miraculously, it seems that my worst injury is the minor scrape caused by my glasses. My friend got it a little worse - she was on the passenger side where most of the damage was done. She's bruised and in pain, but nothing's broken, and we were able to make it back home by about 2:30 in the morning.

I feel really stupid and guilty for letting this happen - and for putting not just myself, but another person in danger - somebody I really care about. At the same time that I am thankful that our injuries weren't more serious, I can't help thinking, "what if it had been even worse?" Could I have lived with myself then? Perhaps it's pointless to dwell on hypotheticals. Regardless, it's an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I don't want to let myself become scared of driving - I drove out to the hospital and back after the crash, so I think that's a good sign - but I think I will drive a lot more carefully from now on, West Virginia speed limits be damned. Not that I've ever been a reckless driver - I hate that I let this happen, because I've always been very proud of my excellent driving record. But I'm not proud of my driving last night. I guess it just goes to show that nobody is immune to making mistakes. But when you're driving, you're putting your life (and possibly others) on the line, so it pays to be vigilant. My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone responsible for designing and installing the seatbelts and airbags that make these death machines just a little bit less dangerous. And I look forward to the day that may be coming not too far in the future, when intelligent cars begin to do the driving for us.

25 April, 2015

...And God Remained Silent

How do I know that God doesn't exist? I know that God doesn't exist because all my life, he hasn't given me the one thing I want and need most. I know that you're not supposed to understand God's plan, but if God's plan is for me to live my life this way, then he's a jackass that's not even worth worshiping.

He's supposed to be benevolent, right? I could understand if there are reasons that he can't make everybody's life sunshine and rainbows, but the least he could do is come to me and tell me that everything's going to be alright. I'm willing to work for my happiness, but there are some things humans can't overcome.

The least God could do is appear to me and let me know that he's on my side, that he's working with me. You know, give me some kind of unequivocal sign that he's anything more than a pure figment of imagination. It's one thing to say that God's up there, but what's the point unless he has the power to intervene in people's lives?

Some people say that they've perceived signs from God. Well, maybe they're lucky (if they weren't just hallucinating). But if that's the case, then it seems to me that belief in God is a privilege, that only those who are lucky enough to have been contacted can afford to have. Again, that's just not the sort of God that I believe is worth worshiping.

And if there is a God, he ought to be so much more than anything he could currently be, given the hard evidence of the condition of the world and people's lives. And that's why I know for a certainty that either God doesn't exist, or else he's a jackass that doesn't answer prayers and deserves to be dethroned, hard.

And that's also why I belong to the Church of the Forsaken (of which that poor and delusional mortal soul Jesus Christ was the first member).

24 April, 2015

Better Days?

"Everybody points their hand at me; I know I'm just a picture of what I should have been."
- Fleetwood Mac, Jumping At Shadows

When I started this blog about seven years ago, I named it A NEET Life, because its purpose was to document my melancholic existence as a failure of a human being; in other words, a post-graduate hikikomori. I changed the title of the blog five years ago at what did indeed turn out to be a turning point in my life. I found a new friend online who has become something of a life partner to me; she helped me start therapy for my anxiety; and I eventually moved out of my dad's house to live with her in the next state over. Which is what I'm still doing. I believed I was on a Bridge To Better Days, but looking back, I think that my outlook was (not unexpectedly) overly optimistic.

I can't honestly say that my life isn't good right now, but I don't feel as though I've progressed at all in terms of my anxiety. I've gotten more comfortable with some things - like responding to messages from anonymous strangers on the internet - but am no closer to being comfortable doing other things, like applying for a job (and that's kind of an important one). I've always gone through stages of being more and less withdrawn, and it's never been an issue of proving to myself that I can do things if I force myself. I know I can. The problem is that they're so uncomfortable, that it's not worth the effort, and I'd rather just avoid them and hide. And that hasn't changed.

So I think that I could honestly say that these are nominally better days (not that those past days were that much worse), but on the other hand, it would still be accurate to say that I am living a NEET life. (I stopped posting about it here regularly mainly because, with somebody in person to share my experiences with, I felt less of that desperate need to share them on the internet). I've gained lots of experience and confidence in the things I've been doing with my free time - I haven't really advanced much as a musician in the last few years, but I'm much more accomplished as a photographer and a model now - and I've found some things in life that I enjoy - like my annual summer visits to a nudist camp.

I like my life better now, if just because it feels more like my own, and I live with somebody who accepts me entirely for the way I am, and it makes me more comfortable in my own skin, and gives me an opportunity to pursue and indulge my interests (like presenting as a female). At the same time, I'm still largely a shut-in, and I still have my anxiety to deal with, and occasional bouts of depression. It's hard living with the fact that your life hasn't amounted to much, especially when you had such promise as a child. I was real smart, got good grades; I was going somewhere. And now it seems I've accomplished nothing that my parents could be proud of.

And it's largely due to a mental illness or personality disorder that, thirty years into my life, I still have no idea how to fix. Maybe it just can't be fixed. I've tried things. I'll admit I haven't been super proactive in that respect, but that's kind of part of the problem - I'm scared to try things. If I had the sort of personality where I could go and try some intensive therapy program, then it would probably be even easier for me to go to a job interview, in which case I might very well not even need the therapy program. I don't feel like anyone I've encountered in the mental health industry has had a proper respect for my condition, and I don't see how that puts them in a position to help me. As a result, I feel very isolated and discouraged.

23 April, 2015

Tekko 2015

I think I've been doing this enough years now to be able to skip the preliminaries. If, however, you have no idea what Tekkoshocon is (now shortened to just Tekko), let me direct you to my reports from the last seven years I've attended this Pittsburgh anime convention:

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

Leading Up To The Con

For me, spring is con season, and the first immediate thoughts of the coming con usually involve putting together my cosplay for the year. This year, I had toyed with the idea of doing one of my long-term dream cosplays - the elf maiden Deedlit from Record of Lodoss War - but did not come across any kind of appropriate outfit we could work with, so the idea was tabled for (maybe?) another year. The other exciting cosplay idea I had is one I've been wanting to do for several years now, at least as far back as my first Chii cosplay (the pink dress) - and that is Chii in bandages, like when Hideki first finds her in Chobits.

My friend who helps put together my cosplays and I spent the better part of the year mulling over how to do this cosplay. I like it because it's skimpy and suggestive, but there are certain logistical problems involved with a cosplay like this. It has to sufficiently and reliably cover certain parts of my body, and I have to be able to move around in it, and temporarily remove or adjust parts of it (in order to use the bathroom), without it falling apart a few hours into a 12+ hour long day at the con. We had similar problems with my sexy no jutsu Naruto "cloud bikini" cosplay, that we were able to satisfactorily hammer out, but even that began to deteriorate before the end of the day, and didn't survive for a second wear.

from 2012
We weren't having much luck affixing the bandages directly to my skin, so we ultimately decided on sewing a layer of bandages to a pair of thin shorts and a sports bra type of top. However, the result ended up covering too much skin (not being nearly as skimpy as I was hoping for), and not looking quite right. But, of even more concern is the fact that I am apparently allergic to the bandages we used (which we were able to find in bulk for cheap). A scant couple of weeks before the con, I started to develop an unsightly rash around my torso, which pretty much precluded the possibility of me doing a skimpy cosplay of that sort. :-(

So, at the last minute, I resigned myself to wearing my White Rock Shooter outfit from last year again. Not that I didn't appreciate the opportunity, because I really like that outfit - albeit, I had to keep my hoodie zipped the whole time this year. But I did switch out those uncomfortable shoes for a more sensible pair of white flip flops (keeping the shoes in my bag to bring out just for pictures), although, in a sad twist of irony, the flip flops ended up being too tight and left my feet with pressure sores anyway. It just reinforces my observation that part of being a female is wearing uncomfortable shoes that damage your feet...

First Look

My usual tripmates and I traveled into the city Thursday evening in anticipation of the weekend's festivities. We had dinner at Lulu's Noodles again to open up the weekend, as has become our new tradition. But first, we stopped by the convention center to pick up our badges (in order to save time on Friday). It was nice being there early, to breathe in the atmosphere, and build anticipation for the coming days' events. Despite there being honestly little to no programming on Thursday (unlike one or more years in the past), I was surprised that there were actually a lot of people there, some of them even in cosplay.

Friday morning we added my bro to our crew, in an even more regular capacity than last year. I'm really happy that I've been able to build up, over the past several years, a regular group of friends to share the con experience with. That's something I really appreciate, and I don't take it for granted (and for those of you who might have complaints about me keeping you up so late at the con, know that it's only because I so dearly value your companionship). For a while there - after the glory days of Otakon and such, when either the people around me were becoming jaded on going to conventions, or schedules and finances and geography were simply conspiring against us, it got a little lonely at the con.

But that's another thing. I've never given up on the con. I love it. It can be exhausting, and frustrating, and occasionally nerve-racking, but it's also exhilarating, and novel, and a whole lot of fun. I don't know where my energy came from this year, but after the first 12 hours of con, I was too excited to sleep very soundly, and yet after 12 more hours of con, I didn't feel burnt out at all. By the end of the weekend, I was feeling like I could last the whole rest of the week. I like the con and I like being at the con, and I like the people who go to the con. And I love the costumes they dress up in! I wish the whole year could be like the con - in normal, everyday life.

Scoping out the Dealer's Room

One of the most exciting parts of an anime convention is always browsing the Dealer's Room for goodies, whether you have a lot of money to spend on them or not. I was a little confused by the layout of the Dealer's Room this year at first, but I think that in hindsight I liked it. The dealers and the Artist's Alley were integrated in a nice way, eliminating the barriers between them, while keeping the artists' booths in a block and the dealers more or less along the periphery of the exhibition hall. Perhaps the best part was the amount of space to move around in, which meant less crowding and not having to feel like as much of an obstacle if you wanted to ask a cosplayer for a picture while shopping.

Aside from admiring all the shiny merch on display, there were two things I was specifically looking for at the Dealer's Room on Friday. One of them was a replacement for my 3D anime mousepad (with boobies for a wrist rest), since the one I have that I bought online a few years ago is getting old and worn out. I saw some of them at the con last year, but alas, they were nowhere to be seen this time. The other thing I had an eye out for was an outfit I could wear on Saturday, as a last minute cosplay. There were plenty of choices, including schoolgirl uniforms, outfits from popular series, Lolita dresses, and kimonos (which I was seriously considering, but they were too expensive), but I ended up settling on an Alice dress that I was able to try on right there on the exhibition floor, that looked good on me. Bingo - I had an outfit for Saturday!


As a mid-range anime convention, Tekko reaps the benefits of less overcrowding - meaning little time waiting in lines, and an ability to get into just about any panel you can fit into your schedule. But that comes at the cost of not being able to pull in a-list talent for events and panels. Panels are always a hit-and-miss affair at conventions, but at Tekko it really seems at times like any amateur can score a panel, and that the schedule is padded out with questionable filler. Take, for example, a panel that could have focused on the cultural impact of Toonami and its role in bringing Japanese anime to American audiences, but instead spent a whole hour discussing the different iterations of the host, and how many giant robots could fit into his spaceship's hangar.

Then there was a gender-bending panel, that I had hoped would yield some interesting discussion of crossplay (where a person dresses up as a character of the opposite sex). But its focus was rather on taking a character and swapping its gender so as to conform to the cosplayer's sex, thereby sidestepping the controversial (and interesting!) topic of crossdressing, and other transgender issues. That's one thing, but the panel head was clearly not prepared for an hour-long panel, and confessed that his panel had been rejected, but that he had been offered the late night slot at the last minute, after all. At least it wasn't infuriating like that feminist panel on sexy cosplay from several years ago. It was just kind of awkward and unsatisfying.

This year Tekko had a whole room set out on Saturday for educational panels, called the Tekko Gakkou ("gakkou" being the Japanese word for school), which I thought was a great idea. Unfortunately, scheduling precluded me from sitting in on any of them, though. The one I wanted to see most was the last one scheduled for the night, an 18+ panel on demonology in the context of Japanese spirituality, and its depiction in anime like Urotsukidoji (Legend of the Overfiend) - right up my alley! But, alas, the panelist was a no-show (for reasons unknown - sometimes these things happen), and so it was not to be. It's not a con unless you've missed out on a promising panel, I guess...

But there are always a few good panels, if you're lucky enough to catch them. I heard the Ouran High School Host Club panel was a blast, which was hosted by my brother's friend whom he works with, and her siblings. For me, the panel highlight of the weekend was a fascinating panel on Iaijutsu (a sword-based martial art that emphasizes the drawing of the katana), by two experienced and personable practitioners, who included many demonstrations, and did not run out of things to talk about not only through the scheduled hour of the panel, but also the better part of the half hour buffer preceding and following the panel!

Main Events

I caught the EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) Fashion Show again this year on Friday. Lots of stunningly pretty coordinates on display, as usual. When we were struggling for last minute ideas for cosplay just days before the con, the subject of Lolita came up, but that is not a last minute sort of idea. Despite what many Lolitas say, EGL is hard, and frequently expensive (and I won't mention the pressure of getting it right). The proof positive is the fact that I've been wanting to do Lolita for many years now, and have yet to work it out. Finding an affordable dress is hard enough, but for me, getting matching shoes in my size is a nightmare.

Moving on, it's not unusual for there to be technical difficulties and delays at a con, but this year was remarkable. The rave - excuse me, "dance" - didn't actually start until after midnight, a good two hours after it was supposed to begin, and late enough for me not to wanna bother even checking it out for once. Earlier that evening there had been a "fire scare", I heard - I was several blocks away having dinner in the city with my group at the time (the word is that it had something to do with mechanical difficulties with the glass elevator). I did see one cosplayer being escorted out of the convention center by the police - that's a first for me. And the bag check got completely screwed up on Saturday. I suppose Tekko still hasn't ironed out all its logistical concerns yet.


We all came in to the con early enough on Saturday (which is to say, shortly after noon) to catch the AMV contest, but much to the audience's chagrin, the contest didn't start till at least an hour after its scheduled time, and not until everyone had been moved down to the smaller AMV Room (instead of the Main Events hall). But I had to duck out by then, because I didn't want to miss the Iaijutsu panel. I partly made up for it, though, by watching the contest winners on Sunday - which, come to think of it, is a great idea, and a great thing to do on the last day of the con. It's like cutting through the fat, and watching only the best AMVs, instead of sitting through hours of them (although you'll miss the good ones that aren't popular...). My favorite of the winners was a really good DBZ AMV (Pain Into Power), centered on Gohan's growth as a fighter.

I also attended the Extreme AMV Contest once again. To my delight there were in fact two Berserk AMVS. Although they both utilized the new movies with their too-smooth-looking fancy animation in favor of the classic stuff. I ended up voting for another AMV - one that I found to be effectively erotic, in a softcore sort of way, eschewing the typical huge breasts and explicit dick shots, skewing ever so subtly toward the - let's say... moe - end of the spectrum, probably to just the extent that wouldn't get it disqualified. No disrespect to Berserk, of course, but between violence and sex (of the variety that can get me interested), I'll choose sex every time.


After getting my Alice dress on Friday, I spent some time in the Dealer's Room on both Saturday and Sunday searching for some souvenirs. There was a time in my life when I focused largely on collecting posters and wall scrolls, but then I ran out of wall space, so now a design has to be really frickin' awesome for me to warrant making space for it. I also love to pore over anime figures - mainly cute and/or sexy girls in skimpy outfits - but they can get pretty expensive. And, I'm running out of shelf space, too. Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon were both (still) pretty popular in the figure department, along with Evangelion which is not so surprising.

This year, I bought a Black Rock Shooter plush after stumbling onto it and getting really excited. I also bought a Kyuubey t-shirt, celebrating one of my relatively new favorite anime characters of all time. I think the type of merchandise that excites me most these days is clothing. And not simply t-shirts, but the exciting things I normally can't wear in a day-to-day context - like the Alice dress. They can be expensive too, though. I wish I could afford to buy Lolita dresses and kimonos and other such things. But I did buy some Sailor Moon lingerie, which just tickles me pink. I totally need to do a fashion photoshoot. I bought a cheap tiara to go along with the outfit too. If only I had some shoes...


I didn't get much attention at all on my [non-]cosplays this year, for understandable reasons. There were two memorable exceptions, though. 1) On Saturday, in my Alice dress, I ran into a girl I've seen in years past who told me that she always enjoys seeing me at the con - that it's the highlight of her weekend, and that I always wear the cutest outfits. Her favorite of my cosplays is the tentacle rape (from 2011). It didn't get much attention, but I have a soft spot in my heart for it, and I'm really glad that there's somebody else out there perverted enough (or with a good enough sense of humor) to appreciate it.

2) On Sunday, when I was dressed in my casual clothes - shorts and a cute Hello Kitty shirt - I spotted a remarkable cosplay - which I presume is Lucy from Elfen Lied, on her escape from the lab, after her helmet is split open. She was dressed in bandages, and, like a similar cosplay I saw from the previous year, it inspired me to keep working on my own bandage cosplay (even after our recent failure). Naturally, I had to get a picture of her for reference. So after I tracked her down and got her picture, the guy she was with told me, "by the way, you're beautiful". I was totally caught off guard, but incredibly flattered, and giggled thanks in return. ^.^

But the real cosplay star of our group this year was my brother's Master Roshi cosplay. The cosplay itself was perhaps pretty simple - a pair of pants, a pair of sunglasses, and a fake beard. But this wasn't old, frail Master Roshi. This was ripped Master Roshi in his badass form. And it was an excellent opportunity for my brother to show off the impressive work he's done lately in getting into immaculate shape. Honestly, I'm impressed with his accomplishment, and it's great inspiration for me to work harder at my own task of shaving off a few pounds, so I can feel that much more confident in indulging in the thrill of showing off in front of an audience, as many of my favorite cosplayers do.

There wasn't any dominating theme of cosplayers this year like there was with last year's Attack on Titan cosplayers. Kiki's Delivery Service was inexplicably popular, however. I have no idea why. There were multiple Deadpools, as well (one or more of them initiated a festive, mobile rave on Sunday that wandered throughout the con, picking up followers). Lots of One Piece cosplayers, too, although it's possible that I'm only noticing them now because the people in my group are huge fans of the series. There were even a couple of cute kid cosplays (which are always adorable); my favorite was the Moogle girl.

I saw some cosplayers from Game of Thrones, and also The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, including an excellent Thranduil (and also a very good Galadriel and Bilbo). I also saw Kick-Ass! (Unfortunately no Hit Girl, though). There were two girls hanging out together cosplaying as Gandalf and Dumbledore, which was really cool. Even Bojack Horseman made an appearance!

I always appreciate the sexy cosplayers. This year, my favorite was what I consider to be the best Pikachu cosplay I've ever encountered (and an inspiration for me to do one of my own!). There were lots of Mistys also, as always (and I'm still not tired of them!). Yoko (from Gurren Lagann) is always another popular sexy cosplay. There was also a sexy Erza Knightwalker (?), from Fairy Tail, in a pretty skimpy costume. And, a very appealing Asuna from Sword Art Online. I also saw a member of Nudist Beach from Kill La Kill (wearing nothing but a gun belt), which was fricking awesome, and in hindsight I really regret being too lazy to run after him and get his picture.

Honestly, I love being in an environment where people can wear outfits like this. When the con ended, I actually felt a little bit like I did at the end of Burning Man, knowing that I would miss getting to see half-dressed girls on a regular basis. The con is, for the most part, such a friendly and accepting atmosphere. I wish every weekend could be con weekend.