Tag Archives: star trek

Spock Feelings

27 Feb

I was wandering around the art gallery during my lunch break when a message buzzed through on my phone. I saw that it was from my friend Audra, and expected it to be a continuation of an earlier discussion about bullying. Instead, it said:

“Oh no Leonard Nimoy died!”

I stared crying. I tried to be secretive about it, breathing deeply and casually wiping the corners of my eyes over and over like not-crying people just casually do. The cry was rebellious, though. It wasn’t going to be a secret cry. It was going to be a cascading-over-my-lower-lashes, messy-eyeliner-splashing, tidal wave of a cry. There wasn’t a washroom in sight, so I sat down on a bench and tried to sob quietly until the worst of it had passed.

A security guard came over and asked me what was wrong. Probably she thought my house had burned down or my dog had been run over.

I told her that Leonard Nimoy had died, hyper-aware of how snotty and disgusting my face was. The security guard looked confused and medium-sad; she offered to get me a kleenex, which is probably the best that I could have expected given the circumstances.

Now I’m sitting in a coffee shop, scrolling through twitter and stewing in my feelings. I’m having a lot of feelings. Some of them are Nimoy-feelings – my love of his Full Body Project, my admiration for the fact that he advocated for equal pay for Nichelle Nichols – but, to be honest, most of them as Spock-feelings.

Spock was a magnificent misfit, even beyond the realm of the human crew of the Enterprise (and the very human-centric Federation). To Vulcans, he seemed wildly emotional; to humans, he seemed cold and rational. He was heartbreakingly too much of both to ever be either; no matter where he went, his features, actions and general manner marked him as alien.

The son of the Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation, Sarek, and a human lady who dressed like she was some kind of artist, Spock grew up on his father’s home planet. He spent a good chunk of his childhood getting the shit bullied out of him by Vulcan kids with Draco Malfoy-eqsue levels of obsession with blood purity. Spock had to work twice as hard as anyone else just to be considered half as good, but eventually he gained entry to the Vulcan Science Academy.

And then.

And then.

And then it turned out that all along Spock had been playing the long game, and when they finally told him he was Vulcan enough to go to their school, he flipped everyone off (including and especially his dad) and was like, “Fuck all of you, I’m going to Starfleet Academy.”

This was, without a hint of hyperbole, literally the most illogically rebellious thing anyone had ever done in all the history of Vulcan.

Spock presumably had a somewhat easier time as a Starfleet cadet, but he still didn’t really have any friends. I mean, he had classmates who respected and feared him, and professors who envied his intellect, but no actual friends. Just a bunch of people whose idea of a good time was to get drunk and try to provoke some kind of emotion in Spock.

Then he joined the crew of the Enterprise and even though he was still totally weird everyone was cool about it.* He just did his thing, and didn’t try to be extra Vulcan or extra human or whatever. He was just himself, and his colleagues were more like his cool space family than anyone else. Especially Kirk. I mean, the entirety of Star Trek is basically the story of those two beautiful bros exploring the universe together and at the same time learning about each other’s adorable eccentricities.

And every time some alien conflict would come up, Kirk would be like, “Hey, let’s fight these guys,” Spock would be all, “No, let’s chill and hug it out. Except don’t hug me. I hate hugging.” The kicker? Every time Spock would be right.

Spock was just like this high-cheeked, slant-eyebrowed space wizard travelling around and teaching people to talk things through.

Also every seven years he had to have ritual sex or else he’d die, but I mean. That’s another kettle of fish.

Here’s the thing: Spock is every weird kid who grew up feeling like they were incompatible with the world around them. He’s every kid who was teased, or bullied, or had the shit kicked out of them for being different. And then he grew up and found people who loved him exactly for who he was.

I know that it’s weird to be sad about Spock right now, because Spock isn’t dead. I mean, for one thing, he’s a fictional character. Second of all, he’s not even going to be born for another 215 years. Thirdly, Zachary Quinto makes an extremely babely Spock, so no complaints in that department. But still.

I can’t help but wonder how much of himself Nimoy infused into the character of Spock. As the child of Jewish immigrant parents growing up in Boston during the second world war, I’m sure that there were times when Nimoy very much felt himself to be between cultural worlds. And I can’t help but wondering if he also experienced some kind of bullying or social isolation as a kid. So maybe mourning Spock is a way of mourning Nimoy. Or maybe I’m mourning them both. I don’t know.

I just know that I have a lot of feelings right now that and I’m not sure what to do with them.

Farewell, you beautiful bro. You’re finally on your way to exploring those strange new worlds. I hope they’re wonderful.

spock_smile

*Except Bones, but Bones was a bag of dicks and doesn’t count

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It’s The 24th Century, Shouldn’t We Have Fucked Up The Patriarchy More Than This By Now?

4 Sep

The other day I was chilling out on my couch, eating Cheetos and watching Star Trek (TNG, for those of you nerdy enough to care), when I had a sudden realization:

Almost all of the married women on Star Trek take their husbands’ last names.

Doctor Crusher. Keiko O’Brien. Jennifer Sisko (sidebar: I guess the name Jennifer is popular again in the 2300s?). On Voyager they actually make a hilarious joke about how weird it would be for a dude to take a woman’s last name, like haha oh man can you even imagine?

PARIS: ‘B’Elanna Paris’. That has a nice ring to it.
B’ELANNA: Thanks, but I already have a ring. Anyway, I kind of like the sound of ‘Tom Torres’.
PARIS: I hope you’re kidding.
B’ELANNA Hey… it is the 24th century.

Yes. It’s the 24TH CENTURY, TOM. It’s the 24th century, race is a social construct, humans are atheists, there’s a fucking KLINGON on the BRIDGE (not that they ever listen to him – sorry, Worf), but women are still expected to change their names when they get married.

Like seriously how can you imagine a future where dudes are totally comfortable in mini-skirts but Bev can’t be Doctor Howard?

Male-lt-skirtvar-eaf

I’ve been thinking a lot about names lately. The other day my kid asked me why he has two last names when my husband and I only have one each and I was like, “Because I’m trying to fuck up* the patriarchy here, duh.” But names are kind of more complicated than that. I mean, sure, I didn’t take my husband’s last name, and my kid got both of our last names but, like, what about everything else? It kind of seems as if it’s just as patriarchal to keep my father’s last name – in fact, that is basically the definition of patriarchy. And what if my kid has a kid, how is that going to work? Especially if his future partner also has a double-barrelled last name? Will their kid have four names? Or will they just choose the name they like best? I mean, I assume that they’ll figure it out because by then they’ll be grownups, but still. 

The idea that women should change their names when they get married seems to be a tough one to shake; it’s all tied up with culture and tradition and the nagging conceit that it’s somehow more romantic if a woman takes her husband’s name. There’s this weird belief that if a woman doesn’t take her husband’s last name, then she’s somehow less committed. Like legit, I know some otherwise very nice, very liberal men who believe that they should have been able to foresee their marriage not working out because their ex didn’t want to change their name. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. That’s the level of shit we’re dealing with here.

One argument I’ve heard from more than a few women for why they changed their last names is because they thought it would be “confusing” for their kids to have parents with different last names. Which like first of all is totally weird because it ignores the fact that lots of kids have parents who never married and never had the same last name, and second of all just flat-out isn’t true. I know that from experience, because my mother didn’t change her name when she married my father.

I never found it confusing to have parents with different last names. At times I was annoyed, because I wanted us to be a cozy one-last-name type family unit, just like all of my friends and cousins had, but that really says more about the culture we live in than it does my capacity to understand which people I was related to. I always knew that even though my mother and I didn’t share a family name, she was still my mother. I was never confused, although I was sometimes an asshole teenager who yelled stuff like, “I’M GOING TO TAKE MY HUSBAND’S NAME WHEN I GET MARRIED AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME” in the middle of a fight. Because that’s how you rebel when your parents are liberal feminists, I guess.

Teenagers, man.

Anyway, then I grew up and realized I had a really fucking rad last name (with accents and silent letters, even!) that was tied to a really fucking rad cultural background and I knew that I absolutely didn’t want to change it ever. I also knew that I wanted my kids to have my last name because I just can’t deny them that amount of awesome. No one had any problem with either of these things, least of all my charming husband. 

Oh, and my kid? Isn’t confused. Children are hugely adaptable and have a pretty broad idea of what “normal” is. To him, mom has one last name, dad has another, and he has both. As far as he knows, that’s just how the world works.

The name game is tricky, I get that. There’s so much pressure for women to change their name when they get married, both from society at large and possibly from their partner or their partner’s family. On top of that, there’s the question of how to escape patriarchal ideas about names if your only choices are your father’s name or your male partner’s name – and for sure you could take your mother’s last name, but eventually that runs into the same patriarchal problem of her name coming from her father. All names lead to dudes, is I guess what I’m saying, which isn’t really a big deal except that it kind of feels like one sometimes, you know?

But I have faith that we can figure this shit out. And unlikely Gene Roddenberry et al, I think we can figure it out sometime before the 24th century. I mean, c’mon. We will for sure have fucked up the patriarchy real good by then! We have like over two hundred years to make things more equal. We’ve totally got this, you guys.

*I did not actually say “fuck up” to my kid, I promise

 

 

 

An Open Letter To Wil Wheaton

21 Jan

Hi Wil Wheaton,

How’s it going? Good, I hope. We’re all fine here. I mean, we just had this gross stomach flu or whatever, and my kid kind of threw up all over everything. But everyone’s okay now. In case you were wondering.

Soooooo about this thing I am writing.

I know I promised you a post showcasing all my hilarious drunk tweets at you, and I swear, I’m getting to that, but you’re going to have to bear with me through a bit of backstory first.

I mean, or not. You can always scroll on through. This is the internet after all.

But if you want to read all the nitty gritty details, here they are:

Twelve was a tough age for me. Some kind of paradigm shift happened over the summer between sixth and seventh grades and I went from being a pretty normal, if obnoxiously know-it-all kid to being the biggest loser in dweeb town (have you ever been there? I don’t recommend it). Part of it was that all the other girls in my class had started wearing tight jeans and cute t-shirts, while my daily outfit usually consisted of a sweatshirt with kittens on it (I had several) and track pants. Part of it was that I’d spent July and August developing a really unfortunate case of acne. The main problem, though, seemed to be that everyone else had collectively decided that they were going to grow up, and meanwhile I was still reading Babysitters Club books and playing with dolls.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I had the shit teased out of me. All day, every day. I cried. A lot.

The fact that my father left a year later only compounded my misery.

Have you ever read David Sedaris’ essay A Plague of Tics? In it, he talks about obsessive-compulsive disorder, the symptoms of which he suffered from right up until he started college and took up smoking. He writes,

“It’s as if I had been born to smoke, and until I realized it, my limbs were left to search for some alternative.”

Sometimes I wonder if I was born to be a geek, but didn’t figure it out until seventh grade. I’d always had pet obsessions, things that I read, talked and thought about constantly for a few months before discarding them and taking up a new interest. For a while it was the Titanic, and, if you’d known me during that phase I could’ve given you all the specs of the ship, given you an accurate timeline of it sinking, and spit out a list of famous survivors. After that, I think, it was The Black Death. I also went through periods where I was deeply interested in The Russian Revolution, Anne Boleyn and the Halifax Explosion. It was always something, you know?

In retrospect, I think that I was a geek in search of something to geek out about. Then, when I was twelve, I discovered Star Trek.

Star Trek was like my own private It Gets Better Project. I mean, sure, waiting 400 years for things to get better wasn’t exactly the most optimistic view to take, but still, I enjoyed the fact that someone, somewhere had imagined a future that was vastly better than the present I was living in. A future where socio-economic status didn’t seem to exist anymore (as long as you were in Starfleet, I guess), and nobody had nicer possessions or better clothing than anyone else, because everyone just replicated whatever they wanted. Racism, sexism and gross teenage acne all seemed to be things of the past, and people could legit have sex with robots if they wanted to. And if someone’s dad disappeared*, it was probably because they had died on some kind of mission, sacrificing their lives for Exploration and Science – not because they just didn’t feel like living with their family anymore.

I know it’s popular to hate on Wesley, and make “Shut Up, Wesley” jokes and talk about what a loser he was, but you know what? I liked Wesley. I mean, I liked him because he was cute, and I was twelve, and I wished he was my boyfriend, but I also liked him because I identified with him. Like me, he didn’t seem to have any friends (I mean, yeah, the show tried to pretend that he had friends, but come on now. Let’s be serious grownups, please. You and I both know that Wes did not have any friends). Like me, most of his interactions were with adults who thought that he was pretty smart, but still didn’t exactly respect him. And, like me, he was prone to speaking out at the wrong times, saying the wrong thing, and was generally regarded by everyone as a nuisance.

I was, like, pretty sure that Wesley Crusher was my soul mate.

Naturally, being a trekkie didn’t exactly improve my image at school. I guess I could’ve just, you know, not told anyone about my Star Trek habit but, being me, I couldn’t keep my damn mouth shut. As with my other, former obsessions, I wanted to talk about it all the damn time, forcing my parents, classmates and few remaining friends to listen to me rattle off every tiny detail about the Enterprise and her crew. Pretty soon everyone in my class knew that I had a crush on Wil Wheaton, and the kids who actually knew who that was added that to their reasons to make fun of me. To say that I was miserable would be an understatement.

You know what, though? It helped to have Star Trek tapes to pop into the VCR when I got home. It helped to watch you being a nerd in space, and it helped even more to realize that you were happy being a nerd in space.  It even helped to know that all the other fans of the show hated you because I was like, damn, I am only being crapped on by a bunch of twelve year olds, but here is a dude who is seriously hated by every adult science fiction fan ever, and is he letting it get him down? No, he is hanging out in space, saving the motherfucking Enterprise like a fucking boss.

Eventually, I stopped watching Star Trek. Part of it was that I grew out of the show, but part of it was also self-preservation; if I didn’t want to be a nerdy loser for the rest of my life, I would have to start actually being interested in cool things. I began to cultivate the persona of someone who liked hip, independent films and read near-incomprehensible modern poetry. I shopped at second-hand stores for vintage clothing (mostly because I couldn’t afford anything new), listened to Tori Amos, and dyed my hair weird colours. I learned to be snarky, and started making fun of people before they could make fun of me.

And things did get better. And I met a dude (who thinks you’re aces, by the way), and we got married, and we have an awesome kid. I’m mostly happy now, and the reasons that I have for being unhappy have nothing to do with how popular or attractive I am. All of the things that I hated about being twelve have pretty much been fixed, which is pretty amazing. Even more amazing is the fact that after almost half a lifetime of pretending not to be a geek, I’m finally starting to re-embrace just how nerdy I actually am. And I have to say, it feels pretty good.

Look, Wil, you’ve probably got a lot of things in your life to be proud about. You’ve got an awesome wife, two great sons, and you continue to make some pretty amazing stuff. And Stand By Me is maybe one of the best movies ever made. But if you ever need one more thing to be proud of, you could think about the fact that you helped a sad, lonely twelve-year-old girl get through a really tough time in her life. Maybe you hear this type of thing all the time. Probably you do. Probably none of this really means much to you, but it trust me, it meant a fuck of a lot to me.

So thanks for that. Seriously, thanks a lot.

Anyway, on THAT note, let’s get to those drunken tweets!

Literally The Best Picture Ever

Literally The Best Picture Ever

p.s. The working title for this post was “Girl Tweets Obsessively/Drunkenly At Childhood Crush Until He Responds: A Story of Triumph”

p.p.s. I want all of Wesley’s season one sweaters. Not even kidding. I’m totally into it.

* My dad didn’t actually disappear, we knew where he was and all that jazz. I was just saying that for, you know, dramatic emphasis. He did leave really super suddenly though.