...Okay, so it's a bit more complicated than that. It'd be more accurate to say I wanted to talk about myself today in my blog while I was at work today, but after my nap, I didn't feel like it, still kinda don't, I have mixed feelings about talking about me so much for many many reasons, but as of this moment, as I'm typing this, I decided I was going to commit to it anyway. The thought was triggered by another one of those grim "what if?" scenarios I often play in my head. In this case, the same one that actually got me blogging in the first place: "What if I were to learn I was going to die soon?" (For instance, terminal cancer.) Something incredibly improbable, but not impossible, to encounter: life on a countdown timer to death.
And that got the desire rolling to record important sections of my life. A lot of this will be stuff you already know, but some of it will be new. So, starting with the fundamentals. You know my name. Brianna Danielle Lewis. AKA, Bree. This is, of course, not the name I was born with. It is also not my legal name, nor the name people in real life know me by, because I am still in the closet about being trans to everyone except my counselor and my mom. (The latter having been an accident, even.) But while my real name is something easily found and the initials B.D. Lewis apply to both my new and old names, I'm not speaking my old name, not even in this recounting of my life.
I have both bipolar disorder and asperger's syndrome. I am also, obviously, a transwoman. I was born on July 23rd, 1993. (It is common knowledge July 23rd is my birthday, and I've disclosed I'm 22 on this blog before. Though, at the time, I think I was 21 and said I was 21. Whole, "blog's been running over a year", thing and all that. But anyway, simple math would tell you this date.)
For the first six years of my life, I lived in a suburb of Bellevue called Spirit Ridge. (This is why Red Hood Rider's fictional city is called Earth Ridge.) While there are multiple aspects of my life back then I could focus on, I choose to focus on school. I'm not sure if I went to Pre-K there, but I know I was there for both Kindergarten and first grade. During recess, there were three or four things that I would do.
See, at the time, I didn't really have any friends; I mostly hung out with my brother/sister's friends if I hung out with people at all. So, I spent most of my time digging in the dirt, searching for arrowheads, believing that in the playground turf, I could maybe find them. Another activity I may have done is played with others in the forest, because Spirit Ridge Elementary, the school we went to (which was one block's walking distance from our home; we took the back entrance most days), had a forest which the kids were free to run around in, unsupervised. (This was absolutely not a problem, by the way. It was actually a good thing. There were never any incidents, except maybe scraped knees and slithers in your hands/feet which you could get in any place, not just the forest.)
The third thing I did there was something I did about every-other day: Spirit Ridge had, even in the 1990s, a computer lab. (Probably Windows 95, but I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too young to know that for sure.) I visited there and played computer games, before we ever owned any console, playing the games on there being easier than playing the games at home. (Our home computer was I believe a DOS machine.)
I believe the majority of the time spent playing games was on the Oregon trail, with a side of the Amazon trail (which I sucked at). Heck, I might have been the one to discover a useful tip in the Amazon Trail. All three of me, my older sister, and my brother played the game at some various points. But we all sucked, me more so than them. One day, however, one of us--and this is where it could have been me, though I don't know for sure--discovered that you could actually pull over and rest, which of course makes the game significantly easier. (Would you believe they actually managed to win without resting a few times? Purely by luck, of course, but they did it; I was there to see it.)
Sim City is also possible. Some of our games were definitely floppy disks. But others I'm pretty sure were CDs. I know that I didn't discover educational games or RTS games or turn-based games until after we had moved. But yeah, the important bit to note is that, even in my early childhood, I was into games like that.
If you asked my parents about when we moved, they may remember that I was vehemently against it. This is actually one of the largest regrets in my life, because I never told them why. I'm sure they made up their own guesses for why I'd be against the move, and I'm sure I even made up my own other reasons for why I wasn't a fan of the move. But only I know the real reason I objected so strongly to it and begged them not to: it was because of a girl. I couldn't spit it out at the time, likely an early sign of my asperger's syndrome in that I simply didn't know how to express it verbally, I was too afraid to speak up, but when I said I didn't have any friends, that wasn't quite accurate.
I had one, but our relationship was...well, something that if we were older, could have been a relationship. I had a huge crush on her, and my first (and currently, only) kiss was with her. Yes, I kissed a girl when I was six years old, but before you get any ideas of me being a playa' at that age...when I say "I kissed a girl", it'd be more accurate to say she kissed me, since it was initiated by her.
Technically, she made me promise to never tell anyone about it, that it would be our secret, under the gigantic tires. (Which, apparently, were known for exactly that. Probably why a few years after we left, they were taken down. Because, uh, yeah, kids used them for that purpose. A lot. A lot a lot. Everyone knew they did.)
Obviously, I've loosened up on that slightly over time. It was over 16 years ago, after all. However, while I'm sure she wouldn't mind anymore, while I'm sure she wouldn't care the slightest if I told the world every detail I remember, to the best of my ability, I still want to keep the details as much as possible private, to help ensure the heart of my promise is kept.
I'm not exactly sure where to start on the subject. I suppose I can say that I've always wondered what the kiss meant to her. To me, it was something that's grown in importance over the years. I know how I felt about her. Time distorts memories a ton. I'm sure that the things from that time period are more fictional than real, as my mind forgot details and later fills in the blanks with other things. But this? This isn't one of those things. I legitimately liked her. Liked liked, as much as a kid that age can like someone.
I remember the words she said around the time of the kiss fairly clearly, thanks to a couple of reasons I'm keeping private. I remember more or less what she looked like. I know her first name, but not her last. I know she wasn't in the same class as me and I think she was a year older than me. (Or, at least, in the class year above me.)
But I don't know what I meant to her. If it was just her experimenting. If she actually reciprocated my feelings. If she even remembers. I don't know, and I probably never will. Her first name was fairly common, and I sincerely doubt having just her first name, the approximate time range (somewhere between 1997 and 2000), and her approximate grade (somewhere between 1st and 3rd) would be enough to track her down. (Honestly, I'd be kinda creeped out if it was possible given that little info. I'd be curious to see if I could maybe contact her, certainly would be an interesting meetup, but creeped out at the concept all the same.)
I suppose I can share how dorky I was. Back then, the concept of more than one person having the same first name was a little bit foreign to me. She shared a name with a singer whose full name I knew (but appearance I did not), so when I heard it, I thought she was that singer. It's hugely embarrassing to admit that, because it sounds so stupid to my matured mind. I can tell you that I never was given reason to doubt this at the time, and to this day, the reason I can remember her name so clearly as "The *name*" is because of that whacky logic.
But while the thought of her being a famous singer impressed me, said singer's music is not something I listened to. I wasn't a fan. I liked her on her own merits, I don't remember exactly what they were and as a result can't remember why, but I liked her as a person, as I knew her, as the girl I hung out with occasionally, but I can't remember much more than that, which is incredibly frustrating. I can list off trivia. I can think of random things. But all the things that to my adult mind are important, are things that I am hazy memory-wise on, things that I wonder how much is real and how much is just me filling in the gaps. (Because the moment was immortalized in my mind, it has played out time and time again. And each time it plays out, little details change. That's just how memory works.)
And that's why I was so opposed to moving. When I last saw her, I believe it was the end of the school year. I thought that I would be seeing her again next year. It might not happen as often, depending on her location respective to mine and what time our lunches would be at. But I was expecting that, somehow, I would be able to meet her again. It was what I had set in my head.
...Then. The bombshell got dropped. I panicked. I cried. I threw a fit, a tantrum, probably multiple. I expressed distaste to all locations we considered moving to. I was bitter. I didn't want to help clean our house up. But all of this, over that summer, was driven by a basic thought. Maybe the exact wording has been influenced by melodramatic films, shows, etc. since then, but I know that whatever the thought was, it had to be along these lines: "But...I...I didn't even get to say goodbye to her." And then the immediate trigger of, "No! I need to!"
Well, I guess looking back on it, you could say there's one good thing that came of it: I got a head start on what the feeling of hearbreak is like, which most people don't get to feel for at least 4 more years, probably closer to 10. (Heartbreak at six, yes.) This of course ended the innocent, naive little child phase of my life, being the first of a big set of transitions.
The next chapter of my life was brief, but unpleasant: the hell on earth phase known simply as...Dutch. Hill. The amount of unpleasantries I associate with that school is a full blog post of its own. A laundry list? One day, we missed the bus. We chased after them in our car, eventually catching up. From behind, we rushed over when the bus was stopped to get on. But, somehow, my hand got caught in the door.
That hurt. A ton. And it bled. A lot. A lot a lot. As in, blood was gushing out of the gaping wound on my hand, bled. The bus had strict rules. See, the few times we had to ride a bus to Spirit Ridge, there were no rules. Kids sat wherever they wanted, and that was that. But no. In Dutch Hill, they had strict rules. The oldest in the back, the youngest in the front. I was near (but not at) the front. I hated that. I was held back a grade, even (more on that in a bit), so I was older than most people there, but forced to sit there anyway, in spite of me wanting to socialize with the age group I had socialized with at Spirit Ridge: kids the age of my brother and sister.
That's where I was comfortable. Nope! Wasn't allowed. (Incidentally, this may be the origin of where my habit of sitting at the back of a room originated from: the desire, by lack of ability, to sit in the back of the bus.) So, in my position where I was near but not at the front of the bus, I was obviously complaining. I had a freakin bleeding hand. But it SOMEHOW went unnoticed by the busdriver, and it wasn't until after we were WELL already at school that someone actually took note of the screaming bloody child.
The bus was bad. The school was worse. Again, I socialized better with the older kids than the younger kids. Yet our recess times were completely and entirely different, meaning that I was stuck with other kids my age (who I just didn't get), rather than hanging around with kids older than me who I understood well. (Because that's the environment I was raised in!)
Speaking of which: The hill from where the school probably derives its name? Completely and entirely off-limits to kids. We weren't even allowed to roll down the hill, and if you see the hill, you'd understand why that was ridiculous; it was far safer than the forest ever was and yet unlike Spirit Ridge which allowed kids in it, we couldn't play on the hill. We later theorized that the only reason the hill and the field above it were part of school property was because the school would be shut down for being too small otherwise.
But by far the worst thing was the rules. There were tons. And tons. And tons. Of rules. Spirit Ridge was basically free spirited kids. We had adult supervision there, but they were there in case something went wrong. Games were played as kids dictated them to be played, which resulted in everyone involved having fun. The adults never intervened unless they were needed to actually help a child in need.
Now Dutch Hill on the other hand, was different. There were strict things you could and could not do. Adults closely, carefully, and constantly policed the field, dictating how games were played. And never were these rules explained. Never once, were we told "this rule is here for this reason". We were told, "these are the rules, follow them or else". No joke! (It should be no surprise I chose "or else".) For a kid with autism, telling them to do something without explaining why they need to do that something is just about the worst possible thing you can do.
And worst of all were the bullies. I was bullied there, constantly. But it wasn't from being called names. I wasn't hit. The bullies at Dutch Hill were kids who knew how to manipulate the rules, and displayed their superiority over kids by deliberately flaunting it, by getting the adults to help them. Rules lawyering was their specialty. They knew how to circumvent the rules, to exploit loopholes in the rules, to fake having been wronged, and suddenly, these adults so eager to protect the children were there, punishing the people whose only wrong was in not knowing how to game the system.
You might think this was just me. But oh no. All four of us all had some experience witnessing this. My mother saw it, and recognized it too. I'm pretty sure friends of my brother and sister who went to that school also recalled similar horror stories. This was the norm at that school, and I kid you not! It was the absolute worst thing a kid like me could have gone through. Because while my siblings endured, I could not. I am, after all, not as abled as they are when it comes to socializing. It's much harder for me. I formed one or two friendships, sure, but they formed like six or seven and encountered far fewer problems than I did.
Another incident coming to mind is something that I admit could come from Spirit Ridge, but in my personal memory, I have no bad memories of Spirit Ridge and it fits in perfectly as something teachers at Dutch Hill would do. It's the eyes incident. I knew, from a very early age, my eye color is hazel. Not brown, not blue, not green, but all three. (No joke, my eyes do change color depending on the lighting and you can see all three pigments present at various different conditions. None are more dominant as far as I actively recall; brown, blue, and green occur just about equally.)
But the teacher had made an eye chart, and had asked us to stick our eye color in one of three groups: blue, green, or brown. I protested; I told the teacher my eyes were hazel. She said to put my eye color in whatever fit best, or something like that. But my eye color is always changing. It's never the same. It's not one dominant over the other two. Heck, I'm pretty sure it's not two dominant over the third, either. All three exist equally. So I just...didn't get my eye color put up there, which made me feel excluded.
Making things worse was how I was held back. My parents decided I would, eventually, down the road at some point, be overwhelmed: too young for the grade. So they tried having me in first grade, the grade I was in at Spirit Ridge the year before. Their idea (as you'll see below) was right. Their timing was off.
I was bored out of my mind. Keep in mind...I was smart for a kid my age. If I were in second grade, I would have been top of the class still, and I was in first grade. Sure, my social skills were terrible, but my ability to comprehend concepts was through the roof. Reading. Writing. Math. Whatever else they teach at first grade. I was able to do them all so painfully fast that my mind was left in a spot where I just was...unable to be productive. It was too easy. And with it being that easy, I was suffering, impatient, unable to wait, unable to understand what was so difficult, why the teacher needed to repeat these things, why the class was being forced to redo stuff that was so simple to understand.
Combined with the bullying above, and about half-way through the school year, my mom had had enough. She recognized that environment as being unhealthy and dropped me from public schooling. Best decision she ever made. We were homeschooled for a short while, before switching to the hybridized school for home schoolers, Sky Valley Education Center, at the time in Snohomish. By next year, all my siblings would be attending there as I had begun to, too.
I believe this was the birth of my absolute lack of faith in laws, if it wasn't already obvious. The rules didn't work at Dutch Hill. They were punishing the people they were established to protect. So, deep-down in my heart, at my fundamental level, my core, my soul, was ingrained the belief that pre-established rules cannot be relied upon. This may have also been the birth of my belief in the failure of public schools being the "assembly line" mentality: you either conform, or get thrown out, and me being unable to conform, I felt rejected. (It also didn't help that they wanted you to do the Pledge of Allegiance. I thought the idea of pledging allegiance to a flag was absolutely stupid; I never once had to do it in Spirit Ridge, so I never once did it in Dutch Hill. This, naturally, did not go unnoticed; I did in fact get in trouble for it, but I didn't care and continued to defy them by not doing something I saw as completely and entirely unnecessary.)
If you're wondering about that school, by the way: it's still there. It still exists. From what I've heard, it's gotten better from that. From my understanding, the school is now, after reforms (which I heard it did go under), one of the better elementary schools around. I obviously cannot confirm. I'd certainly like to hope it's true! Because, uh, yeah. No child should ever have to suffer what I endured for half a year, yet alone, seven. (Kindergarten plus 1-6.)
Anyway, while it lasted only half a year, that was the closing chapter on my scarred for life childhood trauma chapter, because Sky Valley was, for all intensive purposes, paradise on earth for someone like me. They had a computer lab (the lower half of the barn), which Dutch Hill didn't have. (Or, if Dutch Hill had one, I certainly was never permitted to use it.) They had a playground with no rules. Much, much smaller (it was at the church), but existing all the same.
I was moved up to second grade, and I did very well. I was still mostly getting things right, but I was actually learning, because sometimes I was being challenged by things I did not actually know. The schedule was set as convenient, not on a strict early-morning routine, getting me into the habit of waking up at times I liked, rather than times required. My mind was allowed to expand freely in all directions during that time. Games. Reading. Everything.
Even when the school moved to Monroe, the heaven lasted. Third grade went fine. I was asked to repeat third grade again, and I did so: it was easier than I would have preferred, but because Sky Valley had very few rules and I had a lot of free time, I was actually able to expand my mind. I explored things that if I were in a public school I wouldn't have been allowed to explore. Mythology, for instance! Greek/Roman, Norse, and Egyptian mythology were all subjects I got to learn about, well before popular media had made them being known the norm.
I got to read Horrible Histories. All of the originals, and the lesser-quality America-focused ones which were still educational. I got to play educational games (still have a ton on my shelf!), read Magic School Bus, read mystery books, and the like. I had a curious mind and I got to take it all in because I had far more time with the flexible schedule built around me than the strict routine built around a model kids can't realistically conform to.
It also helped that, because this was a smaller school, the size of the classes were small, meaning the teacher actually got time to spend with each individual student. Most of the teachers there were also mothers (and occasional fathers, I guess, but most our teachers were female) of students, so they didn't treat kids as just kids. They treated the children with the love and care they would for their own child. They had the time to do it! So they could, for the most part, customize the speed of learning for the individual students, while keeping the whole class moving along at a set rate.
Of course, in contrast to Dutch Hill, I know for a fact Sky Valley's gotten worse over the years; it was already on a downward spiral in my last years there, and I've heard it continued to go downhill post-graduation, but still: for a very, very long time...that school was absolute paradise. Giving a child with my particular disadvantages the exact environment she needed to grow. (Of course, I didn't know at the time I was a she. At the time, I don't actually think I had much of a concept I "was" a 'he', either; I believe that, at the time, I was just like, "Oh, I'm me. That's who I am. Me. What else would I be?" Gender didn't enter the picture until later.)
It had all the benefits of public school: learning to socialize. (I made friends! Lots of them!) Learning the skills needed for the world. Getting a good, broad, wide, education. It had none of the drawbacks. No bullying. (The closest I can remember to bullying is a couple of kids who would always hang on my shoulder in the computer lab and obnoxiously comment on what I was doing. I found them annoying, but didn't think much of it at the time, though in hindsight I think they actually were trying to bully me, it just was...really, really ineffectual given the environment.) No strict rules. What rules they had being clearly explained kindly. Adults actually invested in the kids. Kids able to interact with kids of all ages! (Sky Valley is a K-12 school, so I got to hang out with older kids, where I was more comfortable, until I made friends my own age.)
I didn't hit turbulent waters until at least 2008, maybe even 2009. (I definitely was in trouble by then, of course. But it's possible it was only by then.) There's setup to the inevitable crash, of course. There's setup for my fall. There's the setup for when my life began crumbling apart, to which I've still yet to reassemble it fully, where I'm still fighting bit by little bit to restructure what once was whole and yet was gone for the longest time.
And that would be somewhere around 2004. Maybe 2003, though that seems a bit early. This being...the dawn of the internet generation, myself among them. Within the three-year span of 12-15, within the time frame of 2005-2008, my life fractured from just being the singular one, "oh, I'm just me", to be seven entities: Writing-me, Art-me, Video Game-me, Flash Game-me, Ranger-me, my other internet name-me, and real-life me. (Real-life me would, of course, later shatter into three selves: work-me, TKD-me, and dance-me. But that doesn't happen until later. If you're wondering about real-life-me, as just me? Without the writing, art, gaming, online stuff, TKD, work, or dance? Theoretically, she should exist, but right now, she doesn't. The hope is that I'll be able to create her, but it will probably start through one of my other current mes. But I digress.)
And that division began because of the internet. I definitely was on it by 12. Let's talk about the first way: it began with flash games. There was one site dominating at the time. Armor games existed, but was an alternative to...I believe it was called flashplayer.com? I'm pretty sure it later renamed itself ubuntuplayer.com or something like that, don't know what happened to it after that. But back in the day...that was THE place to go for most flash games. It was kinda like Kongregate, before there was a Kongregate.
The site also hosted plenty of flash videos, too, among them being a star wars one commonly watched, involving Yoda and a Luke-like student: an original, and then a sequel, involving an evil twin brother to Yoda, who trained his dark (female) apprentice, fighting with Yoda over a George Lucas doll. Very, very memorable to say the least. But I mainly played it for the games. One was where you were some sort of covert operator (assassin, maybe?), which came in five parts. It was a multiple choice game, and each wrong choice had an absolutely hilarious death sequence. One example which was a little ridiculous(ly funny) was where the wrong option was a five-minute long cutscene of your epic battle with the enemy until they call in a wraith tank of some kind that vaporizes you (you were sniping them), whereas the correct option takes five seconds. A favorite death from that series would be the lion, too.
I was introduced to early tower defense games there as well. I'd know them instantly if I saw them, but I can't remember many of their names. (Probably one of the more famous ones was the original Desktop Tower Defense.) Anyway, that site lasted for many years, but its navigation was stupendously hard to trudge through, and eventually, things got uploaded that were glitchy or even filled with viruses, which our school's software protection obviously was not fond of. Wouldn't surprise me at all if the site is long-since gone.
It is, however, what eventually led me to being introduced to Kongregate games. I think it was the Protector series which made me sign up there as my first account. (Before IV was launched for sure, maybe even before III. I'm not sure about II. The original was definitely out at the time, of course. I also played Defender badly too.)
Foreshadowing my darker future, this did have a nasty side-effect: because games would only be stored on specific computers, it instilled in my a strong sense of possession: "That computer is mine." It also got me, when addicted to games, often running late to classes, or sometimes even skipping accidentally (or on a very bad day, "accidentally") by forgetting or just overlooking the class. I wanted to finish the game, and if I couldn't, I wanted to come back to that computer so I could finish the game.
But that was one of my identities, not as important as the others. I could talk about the real-life one some more (and I will briefly cover it), and the writing/art ones all day, but what I want to focus on is the creation of my internet identities. Both of them popped up at about the same time, when I was 12. There were two popular games running around at the time. One was Darkthrone. (I also recall seeing how many of the teenagers playing were using a third-site mod to cheat the counter.) The other was AdventureQuest.
This was 2005, so there was no DragonFable, yet alone, other AEGames. It was just Adventure Quest. There was no "The Destroyer". What was his name? Carnax? That saga was ongoing: not completed yet. I think it was actually only fairly near the beginning at the time, really. (AQ has been around for many years, but it couldn't have been around for that long before 2005. I know the Carnax-or-whatever-his-name-was saga was not the first saga they had; there were at least two dragons who came prior to that which wrecked havoc. Yet before said dragons, I don't think there was any plot arcs; they were the first as far as my knowledge goes. Meaning, if the Carnax-or-whatever saga was in 2005, and those two arcs were before then, the game had to be a little bit older but not too terribly much. At a time, I knew it from heart, but I'd have to look it up now. 2003, maybe? It was certainly near peak popularity in that 2004-2007 range.)
I borrowed people's accounts whenever they let me (technically you're not supposed to do that but oh well), because I was too young to legally sign up. (You're supposed to be 13. This applied both for AQ and Darkthrone, but Darkthrone isn't a game you can let people borrow accounts for.) I think I did eventually sign up before I was 13 anyway, by explicitly getting my mother's seal of approval (which was allowed), for my first account, getting me some playtime experience, but I'll cover that in a sec.
I wanted to talk about Darkthrone first, because I consider it to be chronologically "first", so to speak, on the list. When I wanted to sign up, the name that came to mind was "Ranger", explicitly because of Robina Hood in AQ mentioning she was of the Ranger class, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back before the Ranger class even existed. (That didn't come until, what, 2008? 2009? Somewhere like that. And I think it existed in DF before in AQ!)
I also tied in my real life name. But, I botched it. I had registered with my AOL email...which I didn't even remember my exact username, yet alone, password. Since email confirmation was required to play, I needed a new email...thus, via yahoo, ranger_brian(na)_new was born. Of course, since my first attempt at signing up to DT as Ranger_Brian was botched by not having an email, I signed up as Ranger_Brian2.
Beta still had a very strong playerbase at the time. Omega testing was still ongoing, but players were mainly still in Beta. I lucked out and signed up to be part of a dragon-themed alliance, and that was my absolute first experience on a forum. Keep in mind...I...kinda...didn't wait for my thirteenth birthday. I'm pretty sure I started playing DT before I was technically strictly speaking legally allowed to.
But it was a place where I felt welcomed. Eventually, DT splintered, fell apart, and fractured. People moved on to different places, different games, different phases of their lives. I very much regret that I've lost the URLs for most of the forums I was a part of, and even if I hadn't, most would long-since have been deleted. It was, however, the first time someone had encouraged me online, the first place I had made online friends.
Which brings me to the second place: AQ. I made the same mistake there as I did on DT: my first account (one which even had Guardian privileges) was lost to me. I don't remember what the problem was, if I got hacked (it's possible, given I used public computers a lot and if I forgot to log out...), or simply forgot the password, but I know that I couldn't recover my account info by myself, so using my new email, I created a second account (which is, strictly speaking, something you're not supposed to do) with the intent of signing up to the forums and asking for help with it. (I didn't get the issue solved, but oh well. I had a new, valid account, and they didn't ban me, so no serious harm done. To this very day, though, I still hesitate to bring up that the 2 in my names is from that blunder; I kinda prefer the, ah, "edited" version where I chose 2 because 2 is my favorite number. Well, it is NOW, tied with 8, but at the time, nope. Ranger_Brian2 was because I screwed Ranger_Brian up; my other account name was because I screwed the original account up.)
The name of this account? mastin2. Because my original account was called Mastin. It's a portmanteu name: Master of the internet. It was made when I was 12. It sounds like arrogance, but in actuality, that name was made out of longing. I longed, even then, for more. I wished I could do more online. I wished I could live my life online. I wished I could be everywhere, doing everything, online. Be in every online place at once, be a master of the internet, literally in every place. And this desire was there because I was beginning to see just how easily I could get attached to it. I was beginning to comprehend how important the internet was, how richer it made my life, how I could if I were a master of it, be able to help a lot of people, all at once.
I haven't the slightest idea what made me decide to make the m lowercase. It's just something that I kind-of...did. Of course, everyone called me Mastin anyway, so when I signed up to other forums...including the forum where to this day I still play mafia...I just dropped the two and made it uppercase like my original game account was. (But when it comes to mafia, I ironically switched back. I started there as Mastin, and am currently mastin2, because there was a huge stigma attached to my name and I was hoping that the account switch would allow me to be closer to my true self, closer to the me from the Battleon Forums, the me that I see as the core of...me. More on that below.)
Anyway, this is where I spent years of my life. The Battleon Forums was my first home. I started mostly making lame suggestions. (Ironically, most of those became story ideas, a fairly large number of which are being imported to the Rubyverse. Among them? Blood Masters, for a start!) I did get five minutes of fame when my name was mentioned in the DragonFable Design Notes! (To this day, I think it's still there.)
I was also looked up to by a ton of people, to the point where many newbies asked me stuff, thinking I was a mod. (I wasn't. I was too young. You had to be 16 to be a moderator, and at the time these questions were being asked of me, I was 14 and 15. By the time I actually was sixteen, I was overwhelmed with life and thus, was not as active on the forums, thus, not exactly the potential-moderator material I had been the two years prior to 2009.)
This was my golden age. I had quite a lot of internet friends. Eventually, I stopped playing the games as religiously, and when that happened, I stopped giving as many suggestions, but I was not out of the community. No, I simply migrated. This was in 2007-2008, because some time around 2008, someone ran a game of mafia on the Battleon Forums. I was a spectator. The setup was semi-open, with all possible roles listed and saying some were in and others wouldn't. It was a great game. And...namedropped in there was the site I currently play mafia on.
Eager to play, but waiting for the game to finish, I signed up on October 8th, 2008. I epically failed, left, and waited, but the experience between that and EpicMafia (which at the time was actually full of skillful play where the deadline clock was a suggestion and games could take up to three hours because people were analyzing) was enough that when the mafia games on Battleon were actually run, I was competent enough to have been nightkilled in both of them. (We had two ongoing at the same time.) N1. Both of them, dead because I was dangerously on-point.
But what truly defined me was when I discovered Legends of Lore, where I began my writing. Disease was written specifically online first, for there, to be the story that got me approved as a writer. It was, at the time, meant to be just a gateway for Rabrian the Adventurer, but of course quickly grew to be my main novel on there. It's still there, by the way, if you want to look. Every couple of years or so, I go check to see if there's been a regrettable purge, yet every couple of years I check, it's still there.
The writing's godawful, mind you. I was 14 or 15 when I started. But I had a lot of my writing posted there, including the original short story version of my current novel! (It's still there, in all its info-dump glory.) Yet I talk about this time with sadness, because while this was my golden age, by 16, by 2009, I had crumbled. My life had fallen apart, and it was all my fault.
That was...my darkest time. In hindsight, this is probably when bipolar disorder mixed with some autism (not to mention, teenage hormones) reared its ugly head the worst. With my manic side, I was arrogant, thinking nothing of the consequences my actions would bring. My depression made me neglect to tasks I should have attended to. My grades plummeted. The world I had built for myself began to tear itself apart for the first time, and it's this event that I've never fully recovered from, because the tear and rebuild still happens to this day.
See also: my current on-again, off-again relationship with ComicFury, frustrating as that is. But the first time was the worst. I just...wasn't a good person then. I was a mess. A royal mess. Anger, frustration, rage, a bundleload of negative emotions. Those had existed before. I had always thrown tantrums before. But this was...different. I was taking it out on others.
The most horrifying thing was when I relapsed on ComicFury a year later, in 2010. I thought I knew better. I thought that, when my parents had instilled the router ban on some of my favorite sites (this is of course the reason to this day I need a proxy to access the mafia site), that I had learned my lesson.
A good CF friend of mine helped show me that I hadn't.
And I don't remember whether it was the first time or the relapse which caused it.
But this is the one and only time in my life where I ever considered killing myself. It got bad. It got really, really bad. I was still just a small kid, who had thought I had grown mature, but was emotionally fragile, frail, on the verge of breaking, and I broke bad. I just...snapped. And I didn't have any way of handling it at the time, except to slowly but surely restructure my life. Start over, I said. Build up again. Redemption.
And that's what drove me forward for the next few years. The desire to always come back to being that person that people actually liked: the person who is wise, mature, approaches things logically, handles disputes well, doesn't let emotions get the better of them, is tastefully funny, still a bit innocent, has a wide variety of interests and some knowledge in many of them...the urge to invent, then reinvent myself, when I find the invented self to not be up to standard.
So mastin2 was born on the Battleon forums, and more or less died come mid-2009.
Ranger was born on DT, and suffered her first death with DT, some time prior to 2010.
Mastin began existing in a mafia context realistically in 2009, but died that same year.
Ranger was reborn on ComicFury in that same year, materializing mostly in 2010.
As Ranger died on ComicFury, mastin2 was born late in 2010, early 2011.
When she suffered a breakdown, she returned to CF in 2011.
After overloading, she left CF again, and at about that same time, her reputation in mafia began to more or less coalesce into what it is now.
And when not happy with that, she returned to CF.
And has since tried to bring that CF charm back. (With mixed results.)
A bit of a rotating wheel, there, but more or less accurate. More exists, of course.
But most of my readers pretty much know the story from this point.
I mean. Only places that actually link to this blog are on ComicFury and the place I play mafia on.
The only people who see this blog are people from one of those two sites. (Incidentally, I have on rare occasions caught people who have been on both, but it's very rare; I'm pretty much the only one.)
They've seen me around, by whatever name, and my posting can usually speak for itself. Still very vulnerable, but managing fairly frequently to show how I've grown, the strength I've gained from these little things in life. The TKD me exists; the dance me exists; the work me exists; believe it or not the video game me still exists; the flash game me still exists; they aren't too important overall.
My separate real-life self doesn't exist yet, but will probably exist through a combination of TKD/Dance/Work/Writing/Art/Online selves. Mainly, I've lived my lives through those two names. Ranger and mastin2. (Or, more recently, mastina.) I literally think of myself using those two names. "Ranger, you idiot!" "What are you doing, mastin(a)?" Both of these exist just as much as "Bree, what were you thinking?!?" does. Because both have helped to form who I am.
I'm a lifeguard, and looking for a job in CAD, to take a step transitioning in my life. These things happen. I do TKD; I do dance; these are things that I do. But I've felt most able to express myself through the written word, through online filters. 12 was important for other reasons, too. It's the age where most of my friends began going into the next step of their social lives, and stopped wanting to play as many childish games. It's about the age where my mind was beginning to try to express its gender, but my biology and mental programming from my father suppressed things.
It might have marked the beginning of my descent, where I lost friends as we just slowly grew apart, I lost my social skills (rather, they stagnated at the level of a 12-year-old), I lost my unity, I lost the rest of my innocence, and such, but...it also marks the beginning of me discovering what makes me...well, me. There were important events before then. There have been many events since then. But it was when I began to find that identity online that I began to truly grow.
I'm missing out on describing so many things, but I can't even think of how to begin on any of it. And this is getting highly repetitive. Not to mention, has taken me at least three, maybe four hours to type. (I don't remember when I began. If at 3, four, if at 4, three, if in-between, 3.5, but it's somewhere around there.) Plus, I can see the length of the scrollbar and I know that's a SOLID wall of text.
Like, Great Wall of China, wall of text. (Not the worst I've done, especially not on this blog, but pretty impressively long all the same.) Meaning, pretty much should call it good. Congratulations if you actually made it through this entire thing without skimming! I know I probably can't. (Heck, just a skim would probably take half an hour. Whole readthrough? Not happening.)