This is just a quick update spurred by the realization that we have once again completely failed to keep ourselves visible even after getting out of the hospital. There is an excuse this time! Our mom just left after staying with us for two weeks.
Some things regarding the family may be slowly changing due to the suicide attempt causing people to realize that things were really not okay as they were. (This was not the actual reason behind the attempt, but has ended up being a fairly predictable side effect.)
Our sister had come in to stay at our place while I was still in the ward and cleaned it up while she was there; in the process, she inevitably happened across some of our transmale kit. I know this because it was all put away tidily on its own little section of the closet shelves, but I didn't give myself time to family-proof the lair before committing myself and so that was probably inevitable as well. Mom said that Sis mentioned that something might be up regarding my gender.
When Mom was here, she finally came out and said that she'd had the sense for years that I hadn't been happy as a female. She also remembered the time when I'd tried to come out to her as multiple and nonhuman. She apparently doesn't recall being oppressively normalizing about those topics at the time, but I am willing to forgive past transgressions in favor of having a nicer future. She did a heroic job of controlling her tendency to overreact to things and we were able to have some calm, factual conversations about all the various weird states that apply to me. I gave her some of the better (non-medical, non-disordered) websites about multiplicity and she was doing her own online research about transgender/transsexual issues, so she ended up fairly well educated in all of it by the time she left. (I'm not pressing the nonhuman issue much, largely because I think it would be great just to have myself and the others all recognized as people and not diseases, figments, etc. One step at a time.)
She catastrophized a little, but I have spent years being terrified of the Outside for its potential to lock up, overmedicate, oppress, and otherwise do horrible things to people who are not normal, and I am still too burned out to ramp up to the familiar level of panicky paranoia that I used to have. The way I figure it, Outside authorities had the perfect opportunity to trap us, drug us, forcibly reprogram us, and whatever else when we were stuck in the ward, and since they let us go without doing those things then they must not have meant to. (True, maybe we did just get lucky. But still.)
This has all resulted in the strange-but-not-unwelcome situation in which I am able to talk with almost complete freedom to our mother about sex transition and the particulars of Inside opinions. It still feels very strange, but often she was the one to bring up the topics and I just did my best to answer truthfully. This has confirmed that it really is a relief to not have to focus on lying to everyone all the time about what is going on with us. Her visit was oppressive in the beginning because I was still exhausted and yet was trying to marshal my strength and concentration to roleplay for her while she was here, but by the time she left it was practically pleasant to have her in our space.
I tried to communicate to her that we Inside have been supporting each other in spite of the Outside for all these years and that we will not do a 180 overnight to love and feel attachment to people who previously represented a significant threat to us. This situation bothers her, but (and maybe this is selfish, but fuck it--I'm still the one in charge of security) if they can keep up this open and welcoming attitude for the long term then perhaps a genuine attachment can develop naturally. It doesn't exist right now, but nobody is actively standing in the way of it, on our end.
The military is...uncertain. I mentioned not having the energy to lie anymore, and consequently I spilled my guts completely when asked about why I thought that I had become depressed in the first place. Behavioral Health should therefore have on record, several times, the facts of the multiplicity and gender identity. Perhaps honesty was a different type of suicide, in this case, but I lacked the resources to think of something else convincing to say and now I figure that there's no point in trying to pretend that I didn't say it.
The only clarity that I've gotten on this process so far is that the BH team and my chain of command meet regularly and will eventually decide on their own what to do with me. Previously, what I'd gotten from the BH reps was less than encouraging, basically just an assumption that I'd have a little break for a while and then build up to doing the same level of work that I'd done before. (Part of the reason why I cracked was that I was having to work straight through from 0600 - 2000 every day for long stretches on end, and having no time or energy to take care of myself generated a huge amount of despair. I absolutely cannot go back to working like that again.)
At the end of last week, the BH psychiatrist did something a little edgy and took me off all the meds that they'd put me on while in the hospital, as he believed that they were not doing anything at all for me. He said that the problem was the work environment and that the solution would be to get me out of the military. Hearing someone recognize that the work conditions are the problem was an enormous relief, but I remain concerned about the fact that the decision about what to do with me is not something that one person can make. In theory, I understand, the BH team can only make strong suggestions and the COC is still free to do what it wants. If the relevant people decide to retain me and try to work me at the same level as I was at before going to the hospital, I will definitely crack again, probably much faster than last time. Particularly because the only biological lifeform on the planet with the authority to adjust my psych medications just took all my meds away. o_o;;; (I am sometimes tempted to say that if I were drugged very, very heavily, to the point that I really didn't care if I was suffering or not, then maybe I could manage it. But then I'm forced to realize that someone drugged that heavily would probably not be able to produce work of a very high quality...)
In other news, Curious Places is still a great blog; their most recent update looks like something from the Mystworld. Earth is a cool place sometimes!
BT and the Dragon continue to back the efforts to build a Maid 40K RPG game; we call it Everwatch now because the basic rules will end up being something like Deathwatch grafted onto Everway and then given a couple of firm shakes to make room for the animu elements in Maid RPG. (I am still hoping that the world's apparent lack of any large-scale 40K/anime crossover is due to us not happening across it in the vastness of the Internet and not because it literally doesn't exist. Space Marines do shonen anime bullshit all the time.) Occasionally, the Thorns peek at the project from afar like pencilneckers eying a trainwreck, but BT remains the closest thing to an actual Astartes that we have involved. This totally bodes for any kind of 40K canon accuracy, as BT is all about playing his Loyalist characters in ways that make the Imperium look hilarious (predictably).
Most recently, I was trying to again wade through Rites of Battle, the DW supplement which includes rules for Even More Wargear (to include tanks and Tau kit). These rules are nice to have, don't get me wrong, as nothing is quite as sexy as a Rhino APC thrusting deep into an enemy formation and releasing a squad of Terminators with violent enthusiasm.
Recently, though, I read somewhere that very rules-heavy games often develop in response to players nitpicking things to death and basically trying to warp everything in their favor; the detailed rules give the GM something concrete to point at so that s/he doesn't always have to be the bad guy for the sake of telling a coherent story. DW is very, very rules-heavy, to the extent that storytelling often feels like a distant second goal to the game and the primary purpose of playing is to use all these rules all together so that you can experience the orderly, numeric qualities of the act of slaughtering loads of faceless NPCs. The rulebooks often give the impression that you are probably putting too much effort into things if you attempt to develop your character as a person or something instead of just tacking more numbers onto him while switching out wargear.
Again, I had that sinking feeling when thinking of trying to translate all these elaborate rules into something useable in our system. Everway was designed to represent extremely low-tech fantasy worlds, to the extent that technology above the bow-and-arrow level was banned from the game world. It's not to say that the four-element-based stats system couldn't be used with technology, but probably the issue was the level of precision required to represent specialized machines or weaponry using such a deliberately vague system. It's enough to describe the difference between attacking with a sword vs. a bow, but useless when trying to distinguish between two models of bolter.
Discussions with BT and the Dragon resulted in them taking a typically Gordian Knot approach to the problem and noting that we really didn't need all those precise rules because we didn't anticipate the problem of god-moding players. Our aim with playing a tabletop RPG was to have a vehicle to use for telling collaborative stories for fun. BT said that there might not be much reason to distinguish, stat-wise, between all the different types of a class of weapon (energy, hard-round, etc.) because narration could be used to describe their particular effects and outcomes would be determined by Tarot cards instead of by dice anyway.
This makes a huge quantity of DW material completely useless to us, but sure frees us up to do more interesting things than sit around and convert hundreds of weapon stats over to a different system.
Regarding the third component in the mix, I seem to have misplaced my Maid RPG PDFs somewhere in our archives, so I need to locate those before I can consider how to blend them into the whole. I have totally never converted a game system before and only GM'd for a couple of very short-lived groups, so playtesting will be a must; thankfully, I can be sure this time of having non-asshole players to give me a hand.
To add to our local Ambition score, I acquired a copy of the Black Crusade rulebook some time ago and discussions have also been ongoing about what to do with it. The Fantasy Flight game systems, for some reason, do not operate on the same principles even though they're all set in the same universe; this means that some conversions are necessary even if, sensibly, you want your Deathwatch Marines to be working in close association with an Inquisitorial Posse built in Dark Heresy. I have no idea why they made the games like this, but it basically means that there's no one way to build Space Marines. Dark Heresy has a system for building Grey Knights, Deathwatch is for all the other Loyalists, and Black Crusade has some vague "Chaos Champion" rules that let you make Chaos Marines while lacking all the Chapter-specific details from DW.
The idea that evolved over time was basically that we wanted to play a parallel storyline involving villains, because 40K villains are mighty engines of fun. (That, and having to RP paragons of virtue all the time might occasionally get boring, even if we're doing it tongue-in-cheek.) It's possible to assemble a wide variety of bad people in BC, but all of us settled on wanting to play Chaos Marines because...hell, Chaos Marines.
The Dragon had a pretty brilliant idea for explaining why a bunch of Marines from different Legions would be compelled to overcome their natural distrust and hatred of each other and agree to work together as a group. He said that the Imperium shouldn't have a monopoly on Deathwatch-like groups and that some bright Chaos sorcerer, after being thoroughly annoyed by the Inquisition for the umpteenth time, would decide to start up an anti-Inquisition with its own evil Deathwatch equivalent and use our PCs as the pilot squad. We figure that most of our characters would actually be exiled, disgraced, or otherwise just hugely misinformed in order to come out to some weird place and hook up with a bunch of strangers to track down Imperial threats to the cause.
The Dragon's been pressuring BT mercilessly to play "a generic Slaaneshi," which he probably will just because...well, probably to make the Dragon shut up and be happy. There was also some talk of me playing a standard-issue Word Bearer Chaplain, complete with the enormously arrogant aristocrat personality designed to hide his intense shame over being kicked out of his own Host. And they want me to play a Dembski-Bowden-type gloomy, discontented Night Lord because they are so lovable. The Dragon keeps saying that he wants to play something like a first-generation World Eater (there are some pretty good Black Library short stories about them, we've discovered), but World Eaters don't have much personality left, so I'm not sure how that's supposed to work...maybe he's thinking of something like Uzas from the Night Lord novels, where the character is a totally shallow, yet oddly adorable, bloodthirsty killpuppy with one or two conscious thoughts per storyarc. It could work.
In other other news, I keep circling back to the topic of artwork, but have yet to actually get there. In recent months, I've become slowly more fascinated by wearable art. Drawing on clothing and wearing it around outside is an idea that remains stuck in my head, and it evolved to the point where I thought that designing things to make available through Zazzle or somesuch might be fun as well.
When considering potential gender transition (the jury is still out on the topic of actual SRS, mostly because I don't even know what kind I want and it'll be a while until I can save up the $30K or so required to get it anyway), I contemplated the more rigid male standards of professional dress. When I was in a professional office environment prior to the military, females could wear nearly anything, even things that I would have called T-shirts. Professionalism was largely in the eye of the boss. Males, however, have the typical uniform of pressed pants, button-down shirt, and a tie. I have always loved ties, and I was so thrilled when our dad taught us (more than a decade ago) how to tie one and let us borrow his ties on occasion. The tie is really the only point in the male uniform where some creativity is allowed, but it's a restrained creativity--except on special occasions or in less strict offices, lulzy ties are blatantly unprofessional.
Zazzle has a feature that lets you design and print your own ties. It's not on the level of silkscreened alpha-male stuff, but we have a small collection of ties on that level that we could use for interviews and other such things. When considering daily-use ties, though, I find myself quite intrigued by the challenge. Just taking a piece of awesome artwork and cropping it to fit on a tie would probably result in an unprofessional look, mostly because awesome artwork is probably too awesome to work in the typical office and would look too cartoony or dramatic or otherwise "I'm wearing a picture on my neck" kind of thing. The challenge would be how to create interesting tie designs that are restrained enough to "pass." I'm thinking of monochrome watercolor treatments and repeating motifs/logos, that sort of thing. Mostly it would be unspeakably badass to have a collection of highly personalized ties that still look as sharp as storebought designs. <3
Now I go to make hardboiled eggs and do other productive things. I hope everyone has been well.