Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Moons, books, odds, question begging, and cover stories for other dimensional duplicates (Equestria Girls)

First some notes and meta stuff:

There are a lot of stories that imagine the Equestria Girls characters meeting the human Twilight Sparkle early (canonically she isn't encountered until movie three.)  This fragment has Sunset Shimmer meeting her between the first and second movie, and features an explanation for "I've already met someone with your name who looks just like you," that I've never seen anyone use.

In theory, you shouldn't need to know anything about Equestria Girls to understand this.  In practice it probably helps to know that it's a setting in which individuals in one world have identical-ish duplicates in another and Princess Twilight Sparkle visited the Equestria Girls world for three days before returning to her own.

Now it's story time.

"Twilight?" Sunset asked.  Well, 'asked' was probably an overly charitable description of what Sunset did.  It wasn't a question so much as befuddlement given form.

It had been less than a moon since the Fall Formal, making it more than twenty nine moons till the portal opened again.  Not proper moons, mind you, it was the position of the moon in the stars that mattered rather than the phase.  It made the math more difficult to do in one's head simply because the mind cried out that a moon was slightly more than twenty nine and a half days, certainly not a mere twenty seven days and change, and consequently there was a constant threat of switching units mid calculation.

Still, she'd done the math repeatedly; she'd memorized it: two years, eighty nine days --eighty eight if one of the years happened to be a leap year-- fifteen hours, thirty five and three quarters minutes.

Every one of those numbers meant one thing and one thing only: Twilight Sparkle couldn't be here.  It was literally impossible.  And yet . . . here she was.  Here she was in a mall of all places.  Why would a Princess of Equestria violate the laws of reality to come to a human mall?

It made no sense, hence the befuddlement.

That Twilight hadn't seen fit to notify Sunset of her return, on the other hand, made perfect sense.  Sunset was the monster who mind controlled the student body and tried to kill Twilight.  The princess had been merciful in condemning her to mere exile, and exile as a form of probation with the expectation of rehabilitation no less, but that in no way meant she'd make Sunset privy to her travel plans.

For her part, Twilight was quite quiet.  In fact, she seemed to be in some form of shock.  She probably hadn't expected to see Sunset, and certainly not to encounter her alone.  While Sunset considered how to put Twilight at ease, a bow perhaps to show proper deference-- Twilight composed herself and spoke.

It was not the voice of authority that had characterized their previous meeting, then again, Sunset wasn't a smoking mess at the bottom of a crater this time.  It was the words, more than the tone, that surprised Sunset.  Twilight said, "How do you know my name."

It didn't feel like a noble indicating that she was so far above a nothing like Sunset as to--

And then it hit Sunset.

"Oh," Sunset said, drawing the word out for longer than a single syllable had any right to stretch.  "You 're--" and that was as far as Sunset got before she realized that she had no idea what to say in this situation.  They'd never talked about what to do in the event of meeting the Princess's double.  Based on what Twilight's friends had told her, between "No offence"s, and Pinkie Pie's "Just a hunch"ing, Sunset figured that they weren't likely to meet this Twilight.

Human Celestia was, at best, unlikely to order human Twilight to leave the city of her birth and journey to an unfamilar place as part of of a Xanthos gambit to redeem Nightmare moon.  This was true for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that human Luna didn't need redemption.  The fact that human Celestia didn't actually know human Twilight was a distant second.

Regardless, this was a time for thinking on one's feet.  It was time for creativity and ingenuity.  It was, in short, time for making shit up.  Lying, to put it bluntly.

"Ok, so, this is probably gonna sound really bad at first," Sunset said, "but I promise you that it isn't and, regardless, the situation is over."

Twilight, whom Sunset had decided to dub 'Glasses Twilight' because of the thick black glasses Sunset had somehow managed to not notice at first, looked even more uneasy, which was to be expected at this point.

"All of CHS--" Sunset realized she might have to say what that stood for, "uh, that is, Can--"

Glasses Twilight said, "Canterlot High School," with an air of 'Don't treat me like I'm ignorant,' then, a moment later, added, "I've . . . heard of it," with a good deal less confidence.

"Yeah," Sunset said.  "That.  Everyone at CHS thinks they already know you."

What followed was, by far, the loudest, "What‽" Sunset had ever heard in her life.  It made Sunset acutely aware of their location: a crowded mall.  A crowded Mall where everyone was now looking at them.

Glasses Twilight seemed to remember that as well, quickly looked around, somehow managed to make herself smaller through a combination of bad posture and embarrassment, and finally made Sunset worry that a panic attack was imminent.

Sunset drew out the word, "So," considered that drawing out single syllable words might be a nervous tic on her part, and said, "maybe we should go someplace less public."

Glasses Twilight nodded vigorously.

"Is there anywhere that makes you feel comfortable?"

Soon they were in a used book store.  The air smelled the good kind of musty: the almond odor of benzaldehyde, the vanilla of vanillin, the sweet aroma of toluene and ethyl benzene, the floral touches of 2-ethyl hexanol.  These books were well aged, and it smelled like they'd been a good vintage to begin with.

Modern humans just didn't leave enough lignin in their paper; it never smelled right.

After breathing deeply for a bit, Glasses Twilight said, "Alright, I'm ready to talk."

Sunset nodded and said, "Ok."

"Why does everyone at a school I've never set foot in know my name?"

"A few weeks ago CHS had a visitor who was . . ." Sunset paused to think.  She didn't need to lie for this part, and the best lies were the ones that diverged from the truth only when necessary, but she did need to phrase this well.  "Well, let's just say she wasn't from around here."

Glasses Twilight raised an eyebrow and asked, "You had an undocumented immigrant at your school?"

Sunset gaped.

"The only reason you'd be cagey about where this person came from is if the knowledge become public could have a deleterious effect," Glasses Twilight said.  Sunset was used to that kind of deduction being delivered in a threatening manner.  Glasses Twilight had done nothing of the sort.  It was purely analytical.  There was no more menace than if Glasses Twilight were explaining  how she'd come to realize that the logarithmic spiral is scale invariant.

"Yes," Sunset said.  So very much, yes.  "It wasn't just her presence in-country that was undocumented.  On paper she didn't exist.  She did, however, look just--"

"Like me," Glasses Twilight said.  It was . . . it wasn't quite angry, but there was a hardness to her words.  "You're telling me --expecting me to believe-- that someone who looked exactly like me just appeared out of the blue."

Sunset took a deep breath.  This was where the lying came in.  "Is it really so hard to believe that a newcomer to a city the size of Canterlot could find someone who looked like her?"

Princess Twilight didn't find anyone.  She didn't look.  It was sheer luck that no one at CHS had known this Twilight, and the only person who recognized that there were two Twilight in the city was the one person at school who'd immediately assume that it was a case of twin girls with twin dogs.

Glasses Twilight, of course, didn't know any of that.  She just knew that Sunset claimed Princess Twilight had set out to find someone who looked like her.  Reframing at it's best, Sunset hoped.

Glasses Twilight thought it over for a bit, then seemed to deflate.  "I guess when you put it that way . . ." she said.

"You were begging the question?" Sunset asked.

Glasses Twilight's eyes lit up, and she asked, "You know what that actually means?" with a sort of awe.

Sunset smirked.  Then she said, "Well, let's consider this conversation, or rather the meeting that precipitated it."  She adopted a playfully overblown style for the question, "What are the odds that this happened by random chance?  What.  Are.  The.  Odds?"

After a suitably dramatic pause, she shifted into a conspiratorial mode of speech for the rest, "I'm just one person among so many in the city, this is just one day out of infinite, and this mall is but one place in the whole of Canterlot.  The chances of you meeting me (of all people), today (of all days), and doing it here (of all places) are so very negligibly low that this can't be random."

Glasses Twilight snorted, Sunset continued, "Maybe it's destiny, maybe it's fate, maybe it's a conspiracy, but someone or something wanted this meeting to take place.  It's the only reasonable explanation for how something so astronomically unlikely could have actually happened."

"You're not saying it was aliens," Glasses Twilight said.

"But it was aliens," Sunset said.

"And, of course, it all depends on assuming the end result was predetermined," Glasses Twilight said, "the odds of me meeting someone on some day in some place aren't low at all.  It's only if we assume it had to be you, it had to be here, and it had to be now when it seems unlikely to be random."

Sunset nodded.  This was going well.  "Someone's got to win the lottery.  Not every time, of course, but if enough people play . . ."

"And given the population of the planet," Glasses Twilight said, "if the odds of something happening to a random person on a random day are one in a million. . ."

"It happens seventy seven hundred times a day," Sunset said.

Glasses Twilight looked around.  Sunset did too.  There were no signs they'd be kicked out of the bookstore anytime soon.

After taking a deep breath then letting it out, Glasses Twilight said, "So someone came to your school, and --probably unsurprisingly-- there was someone in Canterlot she resembled, and I happened to be that person."

"Pretty much," Sunset said, "if you switched to contacts and let your hair down, you'd be one wardrobe change away from being indistinguishable."

"And she stole my identity," Glasses Twilight said with a touch of anger in her voice.

Sunset looked away.  This was the hard part.  Maybe it had seemed like getting Glasses Twilight to believe this was a case of mundane similarity would be the hard part --then again, maybe it hadn't; Sunset didn't remember-- but this was the real hard part.  Princess Twilight had saved Sunset, and now Sunset was accusing her of a crime she didn't commit.  Again, no less.

"This all started with you knowing my name," Glasses Twilight said.  "Ergo, she took my name."

"Remember how I said it wasn't as bad as it seems?" Sunset asked.

"And because of that an entire school of people I've never met think they know me."  The anger had grown significantly.

"She didn't mean any harm," Sunset said.  "She was here for three days, two nights, and she wanted to blend in."

"By stealing my . . ." Glasses Twilight faltered.  "My . . ." again she stopped.

"No one at CHS had ever met you," Sunset said.

Glasses Twilight near-shouted, "That's not--"

"She needed a place to stay," Sunset said.

"That's not the--" Glasses Twilight stopped.  All of the anger disappeared in an instant.

Sunset pondered whether emotional whiplash were just an expression, or something Glasses Twilight might have to worry about.

"A place to stay?" Glasses Twilight asked with nothing but concern.

"She slept in the school library," Sunset said.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Things you can do to help

Short version: If you want to help me in this time of severe depression and wanting to give up and have the world go away, you could give me money, or [insert clothing/shoes/backpack stuff here], or give me fiction.  For fiction, have a wishlist, a wishlist, links to two games and a DLC pack on Steam, and my Steam account.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Obviously the plan to get this written and posted yesterday didn't work.  On the other hand, it was the plan to post this that got the previous post written copied, pasted, and posted; so that plan, failed though it may have been, did have some positive effects.

I'd actually been meaning to write a post like this for ages, but there were two important factors holding me back.  One is that my depression makes it hard to do anything.  The other is that I always feel sleazy and cheap and other things along those lines when I ask for . . . anything really, but especially when I ask for money or stuff.

I feel like I'm abusing people's kindness, trying to get things I don't deserve, and providing nothing in return.

I know, however, that that feeling isn't entirely accurate.  There are very much people who would like to help and telling them how they can do that isn't, inherently, a bad thing.  That knowledge doesn't lessen the feeling.

The final impetus for actually writing this is that Kristycat asked, "Is there anything we can do to help?" eleven days ago.

~ * ⁂ * ~

I really hate asking for money, but the simplest thing you can do to help is to give me money.  Here's the Paypal.me link.

So, for the most part, being behind on bills has been a matter of depression leaving me too out of it to read mail, check accounts online, remember that bills are a thing, or even stand up (which is a necessary first step for various things that help with bill paying.)  Or, to put it another way, the reason that my phone was turned off, someone was sent to disconnect the water if I didn't pay my water bill right then, and I came within a hair's breadth of losing my internet isn't that I couldn't pay.

The money was available, I just wasn't in a state where I could do anything with it.  That being said, I very definitely need money I don't have.  Part of this is late fees and interest, part of this is that when things get really bad sometimes it takes something that costs money to make it through that, and most of it is because . . .

Well, actually, let me pause for a moment and say that I have no idea where the fuck my finances are at.  It's been at least six months (almost certainly eight, and quite possibly more) since I was actually on top of things enough to know where I stood.

Credit cards, my student loan, utilities, and such, can be looked up online with relative ease.  I think it only took me four or five months to do so.  It's what I owe my mom, who happens to be my landlord, that I don't know about.

She doesn't charge late fees or interest.  She doesn't give penalties of any form for paying late.  She's really nice about that stuff, in fact, which makes me feel like utter shit when, as now, I'm taking advantage of her kindness.

I have to be at least two thousand dollars behind.  Probably more.  (Maybe a lot more.)  I don't know.  I can find out, but it'll take more than visiting a website, and most of the time visiting a website is beyond me.

So, yeah, I need money.  Lots of fucking money.

~ * ⁂ * ~

[I'll try to come back tomorrow and provide the information necessary to actually turn this into a thing you can do]

I need shoes.  I need a backpack.  I need clothes.

My right foot doesn't lift evenly when I walk.  (It's why, before I broke the left one, I sprained my right ankle so often.)  The sole of that shoe is now worn down at a considerable angle.  I'm not sure how much wear is left before it runs out of sole.

One of the main pockets of my backpack has a broken zipper.  The other main pocket has a hole at the top; said hole is so large I've become accustomed to putting things in and taking things out without bothering to unzip the thing.

I have one pair of jeans.  All of my other pants are unwearable, most of them because I wore right through them, and that turned into massive rips/holes at inopportune places.

I think I've got one decent skirt left.  Maybe two.

I cycle through the same three t-shirts in perpetuity.  They all have holes in them, sure, but unlike the rest of my shirts, said holes don't leave me indecent.  Sometimes, if I haven't been able to do a load of laundry in a while, I add two others to the mix.  Their holes don't leave me indecent, per se, but they're large enough and plentiful enough that each shirt has been relegated to the status of "emergency back up t-shirt".

I don't seem to have a winter coat.  I'm honestly not sure how that happened.

The only non-damaged coat I do have is musty smelling suede jacket that I basically never use.

The coats that I do use are two hoodies.  On the outside they look like two instances of the same thing, but one is of higher quality.  I'm not sure that really matters anymore.  They show their age mostly in the way they've faded into a color that might best be described as "Well . . . it used to be blue" and the absolute tatters the cuffs (that's the name for sleeve ends, right?) and pockets are in.

There's one other coat that I sometimes use if appearance matters.  From the outside I think it looks ok, but the lining is damaged to the point that wearing it is decidedly odd.

None of this is the result of tragic accidents or any such thing, it's just what happens when things hit the point of threadbare and you keep going.  It's been so long since I got new clothes that I've worn most of what I have to destruction, and the rest of it is pretty damned close to destruction.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Once upon a time, depression took away my ability to enjoy reading books.  That was devastating on multiple levels.  Things have gotten much worse.  Outside of a couple of franchise specific exceptions (which I'll get to), there's only one story format I can still engage with.

That format is video games.  My best guess on why I can engage with them when I can't with any other form of storytelling is that it's tied up with how one is necessarily part of the action in a game.  It's just a guess though, I very definitely don't know for sure.

The two franchises that I can still emotionally engage with outside of video games are My Little Pony (Friendship is Magic and Equestria Girls both) and Teen Titans (the 2003 series.)

When I thought I might be on the verge of writing again, and knew it would probably be MLP fanfic, I put together an Amazon wishlist of things I thought might help.  There are three types of thing on there.  The first is tie in reference books (all written from in-universe perspectives), the second is RPG books that I would use as reference books (and possibly to run a game if the relevant children are interested, but I've never done anything like that), and the third is art books (concept art is awesome.)

MLP is on Netflix, so you won't find the show itself on that list.  Teen Titans is not on Netflix, so when I made a similar wishlist for it, I put the show as the top thing on the list.  Originally that was the only thing I thought of, which wouldn't be much of a list, but then I remembered a recent Raven-centric comic that caught my interest, the actual tie in comic to the show,* which shouldn't be confused with the later show and comic of the same name, and Amazon reminded me that the "Teen Titans meet the Teen Titans" movie is a thing.

   * though the collected editions only cover the first 32 issues, and I wasn't up for adding the remaining 23 issues to the list individually, and I really don't know why I couldn't just stick this on a wishlist.

When it comes to gaming . . . unless someone wants to buy me a gaming desktop (primary computer is a laptop), a console, or VR equipment, I think I should just stick to talking about the games themselves.  Resident Evil 2 is at a steep discount on Steam until the 17th, Jedi: Fallen Order appears to be the Star Wars game I've been waiting for since Jedi Academy, and I'd like to get the DLC for Arkham Origins (while the season pass doesn't have all of it, it seems to have the important stuff.)

As mentioned though, I can actually engage with games in general.  (It's not like I don't have depression dulling the feelings, but it's way better than nothing.)  That means that I could potentially enjoy games I never heard of (see: Celeste.)  Things I know I want are probably a safer bet, but the possibility exists that something outside the box could get good results.

No matter what, (if I understand Steam gifting correctly) someone wanting to give me a Steam game will need to find my Steam account.  Here it is.

~ * ⁂ * ~

There was probably supposed to be more, but I'm on the verge of losing consciousness.  That's a good thing, though.  Being asleep is better than being awake these days. So, away I go.  Darkness take me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Comment Dump: The past month and a week and a day

I haven't written anything here in a while.  Specifically I haven't written anything in a month and a week and day.  That is not, in fact, what the title is referring to, it's mostly a coincidence of timing, though there's a decent enough chance of partial causation that one should not call it an unqualified coincidence, instead this a time for hedging.

Anyway, a month and a week and a day ago was when I wrote "Retrospective", the last thing I published here, and it also happens to be the date of an open thread at Ana Mardoll's.  I handle the open threads, and because I'm there anyway, I often write up what's going on even if I have absolutely nothing to share.  So, as a sort of low effort update on what's going on, I'm going to copy the stuff I've said at the open threads over that time into this post.

Also, there's kind of a deadline to this, because no one wants to hear about a month and a week and two days; it has no ring to it.  So, low effort + deadline = decent chance I'll actually post this today, as I am planning to.

I'm planning on making a "things you can do if you want to help" post later today, which is part of why I didn't include the post to that effect in the following.  Most of the rest of the reason being tied up in the fact that it was sort of hasty and therefore sort of . . . crap.

[Content Note: mostly severe depression with spikes of passive suicidal thinking and feeling, also financial stuff, and probably some other things I forgot about]

January 4th, Main Post:
Open Thread: Winter Floof

Unfortunately it was a wet day, so Elliot's floofiness isn't as visible as ideal when one is naming the open thread after that floofiness.  None the less, that is a picture of a pony floofed up for winter.
~ ~ ~

January 4th, Comment:

I used that picture because it was already edited on my computer. Also: floofy pony.

I've been . . . well, I'm alive. Not long after I posted last week's open thread, Lonespark and I went to see the new Star Wars together. I meant to write a post about it the next day. Haven't started yet.

That was good (not the movie, seeing it with Lonespark) nothing else is or has been. Come mid February, it'll be three years since I broke my ankle. A few days more and it'll be three years since I needed to go off my hormones (because of surgery related blood clot risk) and that fucked up everything.

The injury is . . . I think I'd actually forgotten that there's a metal plate in my foot. It's long since passed. I'm not even close to having recovered mental-health-wise.

I was going to write a post looking back over those three years, talking about stuff that had changed, what I had-- yeah,this isn't quite that. Or all that close, really. I should probably remind everyone that I've never been actively suicidal, and have never engaged in self-harm.

Hope you're all doing better than I am.

January 17th, main post:

Open Thread: Snow Day

Picture taken yesterday morning on my sister's farm.

~ ~ ~

January 17th, comment:

[Content note: depression, passive suicidal thinking, the fear that it will become active]

Sorry about the lack of open thread last week. Depression has been really bad. Eating, drinking, sleeping has been hard. Too hard to do right more often than not. There have been times when I couldn't do anything but cry and want everything to be over.

Wanting to disappear, wanting the world to go away and never bother me again, wanting to give up, wanting to go to sleep and never wake up. Imagining, say, being hit by a car and finding the idea fairly positive.

A fear and sadness filled breakdown when when I wondered how many times I can come up to the edge of suicidal without taking that next step and becoming suicidal.

So on. So forth. Honestly, nothing really out of the ordinary. Just more of the same, if unusually intense.

I haven't written in two weeks. The last post I wrote, which was the "woe is me, I can't write fiction anymore" shit that everything is these days, was on the same day as the previous open thread. The previous open thread being two weeks ago because I failed to post one last week.

February 2nd, main post:

Open Thread: Puppy

There are sixteen dogs in my sister's house now.  Her two adult dogs, their thirteen puppies, and a housemate's adult dog.  This is one of them, her name (for some inexplicable reason) is Panda-dora.  When the picture was taken she was a month and a week and a day old.

Sorry there was no Open Thread a week ago.  Sorry this is so late.

~ ~ ~

February 2nd, comment:

[CN: depression and a dash of passive suicidal thinking/feeling.]

I'm still alive. That's basically where the good news ends. (And it doesn't even feel like good news to me.)

I don't know the last time I wrote something. Definitely nothing new since last time.

There hasn't been anything notably bad that's happened. Just sort of steady-state not-good status quo.

That status quo involves my sister completely disrupting any attempt to turn things around by getting me to come up to her house all the fucking time. This isn't because she got run over, by the way. It's how she always is. She calls on everyone all the time without really caring about what it does to their lives.

That's not the primary thing, though, because her disrupting attempts to make things better only matters if those attempts exist, and usually they don't.

February 9th, main post:

Open Thread: Ice on a Windshield

Not much to say about this one.  While I think the liquid water in the upper right adds to the picture, it doesn't add enough, in my opinion, to make it into the title.

Sorry that this is late again, but at least it exists.

~ ~ ~

February 9th, comment:

[CN: More of the same, so financial troubles, depression, a touch of passive suicidal thinking (but not much of the last one.)]

Fell so far behind on my bills that my landline has been disconnected. I didn't even notice until I tried to make an outgoing call earlier this afternoon.

The sad part is that that wasn't one of the bills I had any reason to fall behind on. The money was there, I've just been too out of it to go through the necessary motions. I almost had the same thing happen to my internet a week or two ago, and came within a hair's breadth of having my water turned off in . . . January, I think?

Maybe December or November for the water. It all runs together. Could be January, like I originally said, but I honestly wouldn't surprise me if it were October or some such instead.

My utilities, at least, don't charge absurd late fees. They just want to get paid, it's not like credit card companies and such that see late fees and interest as the place where the real money is made.

The one truly getting screwed by all of this isn't even me. It's my mom. She doesn't charge late fees; she doesn't disconnect my utilities. As such, when there isn't enough money, she's the one who doesn't get paid. I don't even know the last time I paid her, at this point what I owe her has to be downright staggering, but I won't know how much it is until I go through a bunch of records (because I haven't been keeping proper track) and I'm honestly not sure when I'll be in a state where I can do that.

Everything sucks, and I'm pretty sure I'm a horrible person. I look down on m sister when abuses my mom's willingness to . . . basically to suffer to make my sister's life easier, and here I am doing the same thing. I'm hurting her financially and emotionally (money is, far and away, the thing that puts the most stress on my already constantly stressed mother.) Not really in a position to judge my sister's mistreating of our mom, if I'm doing the same damned thing.

Everything sucks, a lot of things hurt, and I just want to go to sleep and have the world go away.