Some thoughts at the End of All

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-pokes head from under covers- we good? Everyone has seen it? No one is going to get spoiled. I’m talking about Thor Ragnarok of course which has FINALLY opened in the US as well. What’s going on America. Has Marvel put you guys on timeout or something? No movies for you until everyone else has seen them? But I digress. My non-spoilers heavy review of the movie is that I love-love-loved it! I’m not saying there weren’t problems, but the overall movie left on the much happy/much feels end of the scale. Any more in-depth analysis will be very spoiler-y so you will find it under the huge-ass poster I am about to attach to this post! See you on the other side!

SPOILERS START HERE!

Ok, that should be enough warning for everyone. Now, this isn’t going to be an essay-length piece. I leave these to the professionals and really, I just want to talk about a few bits and pieces that got me thinking while I was watching the movie.

First things first: Odin’s death leading to Hela’s release:

This may be super headcanon-y on my part but I call bullshit. Odin might have had his (major major) flaws as a character but even with that I doubt he would be arrogant enough to bind the imprisonment of one he considered dangerous enough to kick-start the Apocalypse to his continued existence. Aesir are not immortal and Hela is the goddess of Death. Ragnarok or no Ragnarok, she would inevitably burry them all. What I think was meant was that Hela’s imprisonment was fueled by the power of the king of Asgard (which is all but outright said to be a reflection of the overall state of Asgard the realm. Conversely this is a motif very commonly found on Irish and Welsh legends, a great example being the Mabinogion). So here is what I think happened:

  1. Loki mind-wipes Odin and drops him on Earth faster than you can say retcon. He assumes his place on the throne therefore ensuring that a king still reigns in Asgard, even if he does so under a glamour. (mid-Dark World until beginning of Ragnarok)
  2. Thor all but outright rescinds his claim on the throne, pretty much cementing the claim Loki has, if only by virtue of having no one else to assume the throne (end of Dark World)
  3. Thor returns to Asgard and exposes Loki, effectively nullifying his position as king. At the same time Thor himself does not immediately assume the throne and Odin is off to Earth doing who knows what. (beginning of Ragnarok)

This is where things begin to get complicated. Suddenly we have three different men with pretty equal claims to the throne, none of which is actually king. I think this is where the spell holding Hela back is beginning to unravel. Let us not forget that one of the major points of the movie is that Thor needs to learn to distinguish his own inherent power (and one might say ability to lead his people as king) from that which he has inherited from his father as an aid to get him started on this path (which is why I think they chose to destroy Mjolnir so early in the movie, instead of the final battle). So at this stage, let’s timestamp it as the period between Thor returning to Asgard and the two brothers finding Odin in Norway, the spell is falling apart without any fuel but keeps trying to go on on sheer momentum.

Which brings me to my next point. I think Odin is already dead (and I mean that in the physical sense) by the time they find him. Bear with me, I’m about to get symbolic. Before Frigga’s death in Dark World she jokes that she is the reason Odin has survived as long as he has (which I fully accept since she is made of WIN). Now that could be banter between the two of them but notice how quickly Odin deteriorates after she dies. A large part of that is fuelled from gried (again, entirely understandable) but grief alone does not explain how increasingly unhinged he becomes from one scene to the next. It also doesn’t explain how he doesn’t recognise Loki under the glamour. Far be it from me to diss Loki’s skills but one thing that wasn’t faked in that sequence was the stab wound he got. I figured a good chunck of magic is being used to heal him and keep him standing, and on the throne scene, where he is disguised as a guard, the glamour is slipping a little.

So here is what I think happened. Maybe Loki returned to kill Odin. Maybe he returned to deliver the news of his “death” and see how people would react. Maybe he just decided to pop by to raid the library. I think at that point not even he could make out his motives. Whatever the reason, he manages to trick Odin in thinking him dead. Odin is still grieving the loss of his wife, the one pillar of unquestionable support he had (in chess terms, once you lose the queen, the game is pretty much lost). Add to that the perceived betrayal of Thor who runs off to what for all they know is a suicide mission and now the loss of his other son….well…..after Dark World originally came out many fans theorised that Odin was in the Odinsleep rather than dead. I agree with that theory. It’s not the first time we’ve seen him go into that state when the pressure became too much for his mind to cope (i.e. first Thor movie). The major difference is that now Frigga is not there to protect him as she has done before (I think it’s Loki that says in the first movie that Frigga does not leave her husbands bedside when he Sleeps). What if this guardianship is not just an expression of love but her way of acting as an anchor, allowing him to find his way back to his physical body?

So Loki is lead with an unconscious Odin and a kingdom that someone needs to run. Sound familiar? Only this time he knows better. He works from the shadows. He mind-wiped Odin before dropping him off to earth, ensuring that even after (if ever) he wakes up from his catatonic state he will be powerless to interfere, even if his memories return since everyone would assume his words to be insane ramblings. Odin indeed wakes up as an amnesiac (and off screen dammit). It should have ended there, but clearly some of his magic was still active (perhaps the spell leaching off him since at that point “Odin” was still called king). Dr Strange finds him and lifts the memory spell. And here is where things get interesting. You’d think the second that happened Odin would march straight back to Asgard. He doesn’t. He goes to Norway instead, the site I assume the Asgard-Jotunheim war was waged back in the early Viking era (or the flashback sequence of the first movie, lol). Why? Perhaps he knows he is dieing and it makes him introspective. Perhaps he knows his death would potential release Hela and therefore he is uncharacteristically selflessly trying to draw her away from people. Maybe it’s both.

Or maybe, when Dr Strange lifted the spell, some of Odin was already lost either to the afterlife or to the void. Remember, when he “dies” in front of Thor and Loki, there isn’t a body left. He turns in the same star matter Frigga’s body turns at her funeral (which I thought was some kind of magic or maybe even an indication that she ascends to Valhalla since she died in battle). Odin doesn’t die in battle, he just kinda… fades away. No way he’s going to Valhalla in this continuity, I don’t care if technically it’s his hall. So maybe most of him is already dead and his spirit lingers just long enough to deliver his final messages. After all, Hela’s imprisonment start to visibly break before he’s fully disappeared. And let us not forget that his “mortal” form is the way he appears afterwards in Thor’s visions. If that was Thor’s subconscious trying to knock some sense to him, would Odin appear as a frail man or as the powerful king Thor would remember from his youth? Unless he is as spirit, projecting himself to his son’s mind for the same purpose (and the mythological Odin did have aspects of a chthonic deity so it’s not that unlikely).

Hela. Just. Hela.

My Lady Death was definitely one of the high points of the movie. She kicked ass, took names and looked absolutely flawless in the process. Surely there is nothing wrong with her, even if her death scene was hilariously anticlimactic (and seriously how can the GODDESS OF DEATH die? Oxymoron much?). Except for one tiny little detail. THEY MADE HER THOR’S SISTER! WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL (OR HEL, I’M NOT PICKY AT THIS POINT)??? Why would that be a problem since the Aesir/Vanir family trees had already be torn to shreds by the comics and subsequently the the earlier movies? Because even the comics did not shrink from acknowledging that Hela, Fenrir and (the conspicuously absent) Jormungand are Loki’s children. Through all the deaths, rebirths and universe ends, that fact remained. And yes, I know the Thor and Loki of the movies are meant to be younger than their comics counterparts. (much younger in fact. A fan figured out the Midgard-Asgard age differentiation and, assuming that Jotnar have the same life-span as Aesir, Loki is the equivalent of 18 in the first Thor movie. Let that sink in for a moment) My tendencies towards mythological puritanism aside, there are several other reasons why Hela’s character would have worked better as Loki’s daughter rather than Odin’s.

  1. It pretty much destroys Frigga’s character as a protective and loving mother. Because let’s be honest, if Frigga was indeed “the only reason [Loki] is still alive”, do you think she would have passively allowed what happened to her first-born daughter? Or went along with her erasure from Asgardian history? I don’t think so. Therefore what happened? If I recall the Eddas correctly, Frigga is not Odin’s only wife so maybe the implication is that the whole Hela episode happened before she and Odin were wed? Notice how she is absent from the mural depicting Asgard’s past.
  2. Hela as the scorned child of Odin would serve not just as the villain but also as Thor’s foil. A foil that is not necessary since any lesson that might have been learnt from such a conflict has been covered through his love-hate sibling relationship with Loki. To reiterate it is not necessary. I suppose she could be his foil in terms of mastery of their individual powers. After all she also used to wield Mjolnir but clearly grew out of needing it to channel her powers. Thor still relies to his magic hammer until at least halfway through the movie, and even then it’s touch and go for a while.
  3. Still, villains are necessary for conflict and this is how Hela could have provided a more complex antagonist as Loki’s daughter. We have seen how Odin’s A+ parenting affected not only his children, but also (and since his governing style is similar) the Nine Realms as a whole. These are the immediate effects. But how about long-term effects?
    1. With as long as the Aesir life-cycle is these long-term effects could have a far greater ripple effect than what we might assume. A vengeful Hela returning to take revenge for her banishment would be one of those effects. It would add a further point of tension between Loki and Odin which would make any retrospective viewing of the Phase 1 and 2 movies more nuanced.
    2. It would also offer more tangible tension between Loki and Hela (other than the “gods, is that what I sounded like back in the Avengers?” vibe I couldn’t help but get). There would have been an undercurrent of bitterness, a question of why didn’t Loki do something either during his reign in Thor or later after he fell off the Bifrost. It would raise the question of whether he was following on Odin’s footsteps in terms of parenting (a terrifying idea if there ever was one…)
    3. Thor not knowing who Hela was could still be maintained. You could have Hela been on Asgard for a short time in her childhood, perhaps during one of Thor’s earlier quests. If her presence hadn’t be made known to the general public, it would have been relatively easy to hide her existence and banishment from Thor after the fact. Which, again retrospectively, would provide a further point that would drive apart the two brothers. In both the comics (especially the more modern ones) and the movies one of the major causes of conflict between the two is less Loki being an unrepentant villain and more the secrets kept from one another leading to feelings of mistrust and betrayal on both sides.
  4. The question of genetics AND character design.Yes, any great diversion on Hela’s character model from her comics counterpart would have probably resulted in riots. And kudos to the costume department for making that headdress look less silly and more intimidating. I was honestly surprised. I mean come on! Look at this! How even?! But I digress. Case in point, she looks like Loki’s daughter in the movies. Dark hair, green eyes, similar armour colour skin, similar fondness for stabbing people…. Unless Odin’s (very) hypothetical first wife also coincidentally looked like Loki then the genetics don’t add. And don’t tell me it’s magic and her shaping her appearance to match her role (which, again, who does it remind you of?). No, what I think happened was that in an earlier draft of the script she was Loki’s daughter and then further down the editing process it was changed for whatever reason.

So yeah, these were my major complaints. Also, not nearly enough Valkyrie, but we dodged a bullet with her not being Thor’s maybe-lady for the movie so thank gods for small mercies. Still wish she had a name. Valkyrie is a title, it doesn’t count. Nor does it make sense since she’s sworn off that kind of life/service/calling/whatever. It just bugged me. And while we’re on the subject of potential love interests, what the hell happened to Jane? Or Sif? I mean yeah, I kinda assumed Sif was at the Collector’s House of Wonders guarding the Aether, since they have confirmed she is alive. But Jane? Her relationship with Thor was on of the core plot threads in Dark World. Even if Natalie Portman couldn’t appear in Ragnarok due to scheduling conflicts or whatever, there are a hundred different ways you can explain away the absence. Like her character or not, she deserved better than a who-dumped-who joke. (Although Loki’s little eyeroll on the side was pretty funny.

While on the subject, Loki as usual stole the show. And it was nice his character (finally) got some closure without him going full Jedi on us.

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There is no reason for this gif. I just like to flashback to UNNECESSARILY deleted scenes occasionally. Because if you can’t see why this little bit was essential then you need to get your eyes checked. Ok… deep breaths …. Fangirl moment over, back to the serious stuff.

What do I mean? Well the hope of redemption has been a large part of the character’s wider appeal since he first made puppy eyes on the screen and Tumblr spontaneously spawned an army of fangirls (and boys, let’s be real). But up until this point the implication was that this was unlikely. The dichotomy between good!Thor and evil!Loki was too obvious, never mind both of them are as morally grey as they come. I’m not gonna sit here and say that Thor is Lawful Good when he damn near made a war out of a petty insult. Heck, it’s even been acknowledged by the character himself! In canon! “[Bilge snipe] are repulsive. And they trample everything in their path. When I first came to Earth, Loki’s rage followed me here, and your people paid the price. And now, again. In my youth, I courted war.” Thor’s own character development from movie to movie is also fascinating and I may talk about it more at some point but I seem to have sidetracked myself again…. I blame the gif!

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the assumption was that Loki could not be redeemed because no way he could be good like Thor was. But Ragnarok proved that that was not necessary. Under his reign Asgard is flourishing (the director’s words, not mine) even there is a certain fatalistic sense to it. Thor accuses him of cutting of the Realm from their allies and basically letting the rest of Yggdrasil to go hang. But unlike Thor, Loki has had first-hand experiences with Thanos. I’m pretty sure he “failed” on Midgard’s invasion in the Avengers partially to get out of Thanos’ thumb (because you cannot tell him that was him trying his best.) I honestly don’t think Loki believes Thanos can be beat. So if all is to end, why not make the last few days or years or centuries happy and idyllic?

What is more, even with all the backstabbing going on in this movie (and wasn’t that a lovely lampshade that particular trope received?) and overall oaths he wants to see Asgard burn to the ground, when he comes back at the triumphant saviour (and that’s what a good payoff looks like by the way) it’s not just for his brother. It’s for the people too. He’s the one who stays close to the ship to make sure the people make it there before he gets called off to deus ex summon Surtur into the climax. Also that final scene between him and Thor before Infinity Wars comes a-knocking to ruin the mood. I can’t have been the only one who got weepy in seeing him finally in peace.

Still a little bitter that my two favourite sorcerers did not get to geek out but I’m holding out for Infinity Wars. And fanfiction.

….

I just had a look at the word count.

So much for this not being essay-length….

Ok, I’m gonna rapid-fire some more positives at you guys before I get to analysing again and we end up with a thesis to deal with.

  1. The soundtrack was glorious and I will be getting my hands on it ASAP (which reminds me… I need to get the Dark World one too…)
  2. Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. I haven’t seen the character in the comics so I don’t know how loyal the portrayal was but for the MCU? Nailed it. And he wasn’t super-creepy, unlike the Collector, who always reminded me of a demonic David Bowie. You know.Image result for jareth labyrinth Less than…. David Bowie’s actual sorta-demonic, I don’t care if he’s called the Goblin King, performance. Before anyone shoots me, I do in fact love the Labyrinth, in all its cheesy, glittery, potentially LSD induced glory.
  3. The fact the the Grandmaster and Loki were totally flirting and none of you can take that away from me! HA!
  4. The Hulk as a character and not a plot device. Also the fact that he got character development and the fact that we don’t sweep under the rug the effect all this had to Bruce Banner.
  5. Korg. Just. Korg.
  6. The utter ineffectiveness of Skurge as a replacement!Heimdall. (“You had one job!”)
  7. Heimdall also kicking ass and taking names.
  8. The much wider use of magic and runes, because bog-dangit you’re space Vikings! Do something stereotypical already. And yes I will be going back to that scene and trying to translate what the runes actually say.
  9. Asgard going BOOM
  10. That fact that Asgard is canonically four elephants and a turtle away from being Discworld.
  11. Doctor Strange being an absolute sassmaster and teleporting because he can.
  12. The implication that some of Odin’s trophies are fake. Because, let’s be honest. It’s consistent with the character….
  13. Alternatively that there were originally two infinity gauntlets. The thought fills me with the appropriate amount of dread
  14. Surtur not being taking seriously until he must be taken seriously
  15. Stan Lee as a psychotic cyborg barber. Nothing ever tops the confirmation that he is the Watcher (and the subsequent potential 4th wall breaking) but still pretty close
  16. The fact that Loki and Thor could finally act as themselves and not the roles those surrounding them expect them to act as. (note to self: do another blogpost on this) 

I could go on but this post is over 3000 words already and I am seriously getting hungry now. See you folks next time!

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Organised chaos is the way to live

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People often ask me why I chose to work as cabin crew, seeing as the constant human contact and changes of schedule might not be the best for an introvert with an almost pathological fear of missing appointments. Yes, the prospect of travelling is a huge plus but still! How do you deal with the difficulties? Well, dear reader, to answer the first half of this question….. I am a spectacular liar. No, I do not make a habit of making up stories of embellishing the truth. I am however very good as lying about myself. People expect me to be friendly on the job, so sure! I can lie and be friendly, even act like the prospect of being around people without reprieve for, sometimes eleven or twelve hours, is not just easy but also welcome. After, these people will likely never see them again. It also helps that much as I am not comfortable around people, I love listening to stories. Like with travelling, I will put up with A LOT if it means that by the end of it I’ll have a good tale to come back to. Still hate when people get over-friendly though…. Like, we just met? Why the hell are you hugging me like we went to school together?

As for the second bit, yes I enjoy routine to an extent. I like knowing that, if a day goes spectacularly bad, I’ll have a few certainties to fall back to. That however is not the same as needing a schedule to function. Quite the contrary, I operate best when under pressure. Give an adrenaline shot and the need to improvise on the spot and you’ll have me at my best (at least not when research is involved). If I have to chuck the rulebook out the closest window, even better. This was actually on my greatest challenges during training: The Rules. For me they are something to pay attention to, take into consideration and respect. After all, they were put down  for a reason, however obscure it is. And I’d never ignore them just for the giggles if there was a safety issue. But following them like they’re the Bible (or any other religious text of your choice…)? No thanks. Best way to get me to poke at something is to tell me not to question it. Juvenile on my part perhaps, but I’ve always learnt better when I understood the why before the how.

And to build on that I have to question (heh!) something I heard near the end of the first part of my training. Our instructor gave us a personality test, one of the fancy ones that modern companies love and yet is not that far from those I used to take on teen magazines. I’ll spare you the gory details but my results could be summed up as:

  • “give me the facts”
  • “spare me the sob story”
  • “screw the rules, we need results”

And all that to the surprise of no one exactly… What did come to a surprise to me was that, apparently, when it comes to cabin crew airlines like the so-called “fluffy bunnies”. And I don’t mean this as an insult, it’s literally how the type was summed up by the quiz. You know the ones! Super empathetic, super nice, make amazing crying shoulders and, if you’re like me, you avoid them like the plague lest they suffocate you. Absolute sweethearts and gods of customer service/placating but frankly I wouldn’t trust them with a flashlight in an emergency. I’m talking about the general type here, not anyone in particular. I have no doubt there are people out there who go from marshmallow to absolute badass at the drop of the hat. I just wonder, even taking the importance, nay vitality, of happy customers into account, you’d prefer a personality type with a tendency to crack under pressure as your primary choice. Especially considering how important safety is.

Am I being too cynical? Probably. I’ve never been one to trust people explicitly, especially people who’s first question is “how are you feeling?!” instead of “how can we solve the problem?”. Tough love is a thing, you know. A wonderful, wonderful thing.

 

On a completely unrelated note, Thor 3 will be coming out the day after I return from my next trip. Expect ravings of the extra fangirlish, super tired type, as  I ignore my minor jetlag and major lack of sleep to drag myself to the closest cinema and enjoy the cinematic version of the End-All (sorta….not really) before the actual End-All comes up and collectively kicks our asses.

Don’t patronise me school

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Ever read a work you instantly dislike? Not a swearword or a word describing something disgusting, but one of those perfectly innocent ones that make you rave and rage and awaken the slumbering teenager in you? I’ve been coming across some of those in my not-training related reading lately and I need to get these thoughts of my chest before I start ranting at a corner.

Ethos: Straight for the heavy-duty notions, yes. Let me put a disclaimer here. Ethos, as in the philosophical notion is lovely and fascinating and necessary in all the bafflement its definition results to. I’m not starting a -heh- ethical debate here. What bugs me is how the word (and I suppose the concept by extension) is used in schools. Yes, definitely teach children how to make ethical and informed choices. Gods know some members of the older generations did not get the message. But why, do so many schools (my old high school included, nostalgia won’t save you!) present ethos as being practically married to the concept of leadership? These aren’t mutually inclusive values. Being an ethical person does not mean that they will have the inclination or the talent to lead. Similarly being a leader does not predispose a person to be ethical. -insert current political commentary here- It might be a tad Machiavellian but I don’t think children should be led to assume that ethics and leadership always go hand in hand. Should they? Perhaps. I’m neither a Political Science major nor a sociologist.

This line from an article on school assessment I read: “Some teachers and educationalists have suggested that the word ‘work’ should be replaced by the word ‘learning’.”: Dear teachers, students are not stupid. Regardless of how you try to sugarcoat it, homework will be homework and exams will be exams and both these things are near universally hated. Calling it “learning” will not give make the process more pleasant. In fact it might do the opposite. Words gain connotation through the experiences we attach to them. Frankly I’m glad my teachers called homework for what it was. It’s a word that for me personally carries the associations of boring, often pointless assignments, long hours and late nights and the curse upon introverts that is known as group projects (screw socialising, I didn’t want friends, I wanted to be left to do my work in peace!). Now imagine if this bouquet of awful had been attached to a more general and inclusive words like “learning”. Yeah… Never mind a Masters degree, I wouldn’t have made it through the undergraduate either.

And for the matter, what’s this new fad of correcting with a green pen instead of red? Supposedly it’s less aggressive, feels more like suggestions? That’s the idea as far as I can understand it. Has anyone thought that maybe the reason we view red as the more aggressive colour is because our experience was exactly that? Worksheets and exams marked in red? If our teachers had corrected our work in green or purple or even those fancy multi colour gel pens we would be sighing and longing for the nonthreatening red. And if you have crappy eyes like I do, you would be cursing the use of any other colour. At least red pops out and your eye focuses on it. Corrections, especially on homework aren’t supposed to be the written equivalent of a supportive grandmother. They are supposed to be what will kick your butt in high gear and point you to the correct direction. And shouted directions are always better than whispered ones.

Millennials: I’ll say it right now. As a Millennial I’ve got into my fair share of arguments with Baby Boomers and older generations thereof. Let’s be honest. The internet alone has made this particular generation gap the size of the Grand Canyon. Add to that how insanely different the world in all each aspects is from the 70s and the 80s and well… there you have it. Have fun translating the Old Ones anything of what’s going on right now in our heads or our lives. And it may be the prerogative of the older generation to view their successors as wastes of space (the line “back in my days” was invented for a reason) as much as it is the prerogative of the young to view their predecessors as backward and the cause of all the trouble we are dealing with now. This is nothing new. We used to call it counter-culture or the hippy movement or (if you go really backwards) “those time-wasters that read novels”. It’s always happened so why the absolute vitriol that is being spewed in all directions lately? I guess it’s in part because the Millennials are not just outspoken, but also in possession of many more avenues to express their outrage (once more, thank you internet).

And I’m not going to sit here and claim that all causes are as urgent or as important but there seems to be this silent agreement amongst the adults (yes, most millennials are also adults at this point but you know what I mean) that if a millennial said we’ll just nod and ignore their points. Why? We heard your points. In fact you might say we heard your points for a little too long. The world is not a mid-life crisis sports car. Let us get on the wheel already. Yes, our ideas might be wacky but guess what? When you face a future of certain debt and uncertain stability (financial, employment or housing-related or even health-related) you kinda sorta need to think outside the box. Box looks pretty torn around the edges anyway…. duct-tape can only do so much.

And on an entirely unrelated and much lighter note, the top disliked word of the week is….defibrillator! What is wrong with this word? How do you pronounce it? How do you spell it? Why can’t we use the term “medical taser” instead? I looked it up in Greek because that usually helps when I come across unfamiliar words and according the dictionary called mum, it’s “απινιδωτής” (apinidotis). -insert anime drop here- Dear medical folk, you’re just screwing with us, aren’t you.

Buckle up buttercup!

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Oh my how the chips have fallen… So last time I was here I was applying for my crew visa, right? -quick check of past posts- Yup! Also hunting for cabin bags. Well I’m happy to report that all this has been sorted out and not only do I have two shiny new cabin bags but also my passport back with the visa inside. Yay!

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Next couple items on the list were the medical/security interview/uniform fitting and the online pre-course learning. Can I just say that, for the record, the security interview is not nearly as nerve-wrecking as the name implies? Really it’s just a series of painfully common sense questions. Answer, sign and boom you’re done!  Frankly the medical was more fun if only by virtue of taking place on a couple of different rooms. It’s what you might expect: they check your weight, your height, your blood pressure, all the usual. Oh and the eyes too! I’m led to believe that it’s not much different from the average doctor check-up. I wouldn’t know since I’m of the opinion that unless you’re dying then you can probably sort it out yourself at home.

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Then again, I’m a disturbingly healthy young woman who hasn’t had anything more serious than a stomach bug in decades. Even the doctor examining me was surprised at my lack of hospital visits. Come on mate! Are you telling me people here rush to the GP at the slightest sniffle? Of course there was also the fun part that involved needles… They check your immunisation record and top you up with any ones you might be missing. Judging by what some of the other people in the waiting room told me, I got off easy with only three injections. I’d say I got off easy because the only side-effects I got from that roller coaster were a little nausea that evening and a two day cramp on my left arm (where two of the three injections were done). To quote my mother, the nurse was rather heavy handed when armed with a syringe. Also, apparently, it’s weird if you don’t start crying when the needle pinches you? I didn’t know! I mean, sure, as a child I could be heard through walls with how loud I was screaming every time someone tried to give me a vaccine, but I was six! At most! Unless you have a debilitating fear of needles (in which case my heart goes out to you, nasty little buggers those needles…) why would you act like you’re an extra in Friday the 13th? But I digress!

The uniform fitting was infinitely more fun. Related imageIt felt a little that scene in Cinderella where the mice fix her dress, and not just because I really felt like a different person when I stood in front of the mirror in full uniform. You really do get to try everything and I was lucky enough to get the correct size on all items on the first try. That ought to teach you Mr. Wardrobe (I have no idea what the poor guy’s actual job title is, but he was in charge of helping us newbies to sort out our uniform)! When a lady tells you she’s an eight, you don’t doubt her word! What? You thought I’d not know my dress size? -indignant sniff- All joking aside, he was really nice. Even offered me jaffa cakes! And the uniform itself is for the most part very comfortable. For all that I like tight clothes in the summer, if I’m going to do anything as physically demanding as a cabin crew job then I want to be able to move freely in my clothes. And look pretty in them, I suppose…

My personal highlights had to be the service vest and the coat. Weird choices, I know, but the vest made my figure look like I was wearing a corset. Without the discomfort of actually wearing a corset. What more can a girl ask. And the coat? The coat was W.A.R.M. Anyone who has met me knows that I get easily cold. And I don’t mean chilly. I mean “can’t feel her fingers and toes” cold. But that baby? It felt like I was wearing a duvet with sleeves. And yes, I may have daydreamed about that on occasion.

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My only real issue was the suit jacket. It looks gorgeous yeah but I don’t know what was going through the designer’s brain when he came up with because it is sooooo restricting! As in, if it’s buttoned (like it’s supposed to be) I can’t lift my arms more than 30 degrees. Pretty sure the guys don’t have that problem… Thankfully we don’t have to wear it in the cabin , during service, when most of the heavy lifting and moving about would happen but it still feels like the sort of detail that should have been taken into account. The only thing I was not able to try on were the trousers. Apparently lady-cabin crew are expected to wear the skirt part of the uniform exclusively for a certain period of time, though we can request to wear trousers further down the line.

Usually I’m not one to scream sexism all over the internet. I am aware that I have joined a profession that is woefully backward in terms of gender equality, never mind their fondness of mostly showing female employees in their promotional material. If you think I’m exaggerating, the Guardian wrote a pretty interesting article last year on the ongoing “Trouser Wars”. The fact that women were “allowed” to wear trousers only last year, and even then under very limiting conditions is telling I think. Call me foolishly optimistic but I didn’t imagine the question of uniform trousers would actually be an issue. My mother worked cabin crew when I was a child and I only remember seeing her in trousers when she was in uniform. And that was in Greece, around seventeen years ago. Mr. Wardrobe explained it away when I asked as “most women prefer the skirt because it looks more stylish” and “the trousers aren’t very well made”. Far be it from me to sound like a conspiracy theorist but if the trousers are really not as well-made, then it sounds like an incredibly male reasoning of “they’ll have to wear the skirts if the trousers are terrible”. To which I reply, if my choice is freeze while looking pretty because I landed a, say, Moscow flight in January, or look a little less chic and not lose all sensation below the knee, then you bet your XY chromosome I’ll pick the trousers. No doubt this is a subject I’ll pick up again in the future, but for now, with things picking up speed, not even stubborn lingering traces of misogyny can ruin my mood.

I just finished my pre-training course last night too. Yes, that is a thing and I suspect my instructors during the actual training are forever grateful they don’t have to cover the basics with us and can move to what, I imagine, will be the more practical how-to of the job.

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Meanwhile I am (again) taking a page out of my childhood idol’s book and take notes on everything. Sure, it slows down my progress through the modules but at least I’ll have something to fall back to when my mind inevitably blanks and I’m left staring at acronyms in desperation and incomprehension. Also, it’s easier to revise when all the highlights are in the same place. Whether that’s a leftover of my school years or not, I know that if I want to remember something I need to write it down, preferably in multiple colours. Then I just picture the pages and scan for what I actually need. Mind palace? Ha! I have a library. Eat your heart out Sherlock! -ahem- No, but seriously. When the training starts and we are being tested every day it’ll be so much easier. Anyway, enough rambling about my studying habits!

I actually got the e-mail with the information regarding the first week of training (where we get our attestation, which is why they N.E.W.T. us) on my birthday, a few days ago. Pretty awesome timing I think. I have fifty pages of coursework to crunch through before we start (EXCITEMENT!) and my schedule which is kinda weird. We have eight modules to do over six days but we won’t be doing them in consecutive order. I don’t get it. Is it an aviation thing? An English thing? Their way to keep us on our toes? I’ve already asked a friend to hold my book so that I can actually test myself before the terrifying official tests. Just need to print out the handout, which I’ll be doing very soon. I need to finish the Aviation Medicine pre-training before I get started with that, but it shouldn’t take me more than a day. Then I have until the 24th to work through the handbook. Easy stuff!

Anyway, I need to sign off. I’ve been hanging out at the coffee shop a little to long. The lunch crowd is starting to descend and I’m taking up one of the bigger tables. It has plugs! Sue me! And anyway, I have a belated birthday outing this evening so I need to get some chores out of the way before I go about making myself pretty for the public.

Peace out!

 

Status report Mr Chekov!

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Alright, yes, Chekov would probably not be the one to give the status report…

THAT DOESN’T COUNT!

Anyway! I’m listening to Cabin Pressure and updating you lot on the latest and bizarre-est in my life. So what have I been up to? Well, I officially have my US visa sorted and it should be arriving at my doorstep either today or tomorrow, my spiffy new cabin bags arrived yesterday and medical is in ten days. It’s getting real! (finally!)

I gotta say though, with all the build-up and the pages upon pages of relevant instruction, the actual visa interview process was…boring. I’m not kidding. Disregarding the ungodly wake-up call I had to set in my alarm in order to be there on time (8 in the morning! That was my appointment time! Cruel and unjust, that’s what this sort of thing is called.), the overall process mostly consisted of standing on a queue. One might argue it’s a test of character I suppose. -shrug- It might have been easier if I had actually slept the night before. Unfortunately my insomnia appears to have returned (-insert with a vengeance joke here-). After a mostly sleepless night the two coffees I had time to drink did precious little to keep me alert. Well more alert than “watch out for cars, speak English”.

Then there was the absolute hilarity of buying suitcases. The gods were merciful and my hold luggage was appropriately boring (read: black with no stickers) so I only needed a cabin bag and a topper. And let me tell you, cabin bags? Easy peasy to find. Toppers? Not quite as much. Here’s the thing! None of the places that sell suitcases and bags (that I checked) actually call them toppers. I only had hearsay and a few scraps of common sense to guide me in my hunt.

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I did have some help. A fellow starter sent me a pic of the topper she got, so off I was to Debenhams to get it too! I didn’t. Why? Because the company making them, in their infinite wisdom, discontinued that particular line (in black only. They still make the design in other colours). Because truly, why continue making the colour most people are likely to buy. Folks, it’s things like this that stopped me into getting into business. I just don’t get it! Obviously I got a different one, black, just as boring, and looking like an oversized lunchbox.

I’ve also met quite a few people starting at the same training date as I. I’m only going to say that this sort of male-female ration I’ve only seen in my Austen and the Brontes module back in my undergrad. And that I will withhold further judgement until I’ve actually met everyone face to face. Until then, exchanging tips on Facebook it is.

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Speaking of…how is that movie (and Cabin Pressure for the matter) NOT required preparatory material. I mean yeah…parody and dabbling with the absurd aside… they are also a pretty good collection of everything that could possibly go wrong in a flight. Never mind the annoying passenger who won’t put up their tray. What do you do when you run out of coffee mid-flight? I’m genially curious.

But that’s all for now. And I need to go fix lunch soon-ish, so I’ll sign out for now.

See y’all later!

Go away anxiety! I’m busy(-ish)!

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I remember back in high school when my friends would ask me how on earth I stayed calm before tests or exams. The answer, unfortunately, was not magic. Rather, it was a curious of acknowledging the inevitable, compartmentalising and just good, ol’ plain not caring. That last bit especially has helped me through quite a lot of would-be panic inducing scenarios. See, the trick is, that if deep-down you are indifferent to the result then why should you stress over it. I invite students of psychology to tell me how many different levels of self-manipulation, denial and repression are involved in this.

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Ironically that also means that when I’m truly invested in something I…well….I over-prepare. And by that I mean, read every single scrap of information that I can find on the subject. Which eventually will lead me older and older stuff (posts, articles, book extracts… I don’t have a big library at my beck and call anymore, so it’s the terrifying depths of the internet that I turn to). Of course, anything older than two years needs to be take with a big, heaping tablespoon of salt, especially if it’s regulations-related. Doesn’t stop me from reading it. And then privately freaking out about contradicting sources.

But what is the current cause of the anxiety I bemoan up at the title line? Well, to put it briefly, paperwork. Tomorrow is my appointment at the US Consular Office to sort out my visa (and liven up, my so-far boring passport…). Here’s the problem, if it might be called so: I’ve done the prepwork that’s required (application, picture, payment, la-di-da…) and even crosschecked it with a fellow candidate AND the (not quite clear) instructions BA has provided us with. Everything that needs printing has been printed, all the papers I need to have with me are in their neat little folder, heck I’ve even picked out an outfit and worked out train timings! Explain to me then why for the past eight hours my brain has been kinda like….

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Rei on the outside, Usagi on the inside…

-sigh- This is finals all over again. To the best of my knowledge I’m perfectly prepared and (knowing me) will there way ahead of schedule…. There are zero things at my application that might lead to me being denied the visa. So why? What possible cause would my brain have to go down the Apocalypse Now route of scenarios? I sometimes joke that I panic over insignificant things so that when an actual crisis comes up, I’m all paniced-out and therefore able to focus. So maybe my subconscious has delegated this whole shebang under “not Earth-shatteringly important”?

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On top of that there is always the ever-present dilemma of buying the cabin bag I’ll need to get eventually now (when Debenhams has an absolutely beautiful sale going on…) and wreak further havoc to my budget or leave it for later and risk missing the sale and paying three times the amount. And of course some paperwork I need to complete for my medical exam on the 31st which I’ve been putting off solely because I despise filling out forms. They have a magical way of making me feel fifteen years younger than I actually am, and I am hardly old enough for that to mean “charmingly young”. (It’s more like “toddler”).

So yeah…unloading online it is. And probably working out until my joints feel like they made out of half-cooked dough… But on the bright side Infinity Wars’ trailer should be coming out soonish and all things Black Panther and Thor 3 so far look bloody gorgeous. Thank you Marvel for continuing to fire up my little fangirl heart!

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There’s no reason for this gif. I just find it hilarious!

 

SPOILERS! Some thoughts on Spiderman: Homecoming

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This is your warning people! You scroll beyond the picture, you get spoilers.

This isn’t going to be a full-on review, partially because it’s been a few days since I saw the movie and, while my memory is good, it’s not that good. This is just going to be a few things about the film I want to touch upon/rant and rave about. Mostly because I adored the film so much.

  1. Can we all please take a moment to appreciate the fact that MCU finally gave us a good father figure? -wipes tear- I knew you had it in you Tony. Mentor my left foot…. He went on full dad-mode on Peter. And I was so happy about it! (Before anyone gets on my case, I have seen both Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I’m still on the fence about Yondu. On the one hand yeah…he was there for Peter Q. when he really needed him. On the other hand….yeah…issues….)Image result for i want you to be better spiderman
  2. While we’re on the subject of my favourite billionaire, how happy was I when he and Pepper got back together? And the ring? Since 2008? Google tells me that that is when the first Iron Man came out. It is my new headcannon that Tony went and got himself the ring after he returned from Afghanistan. Like, straight after that first press conference.
  3. Ned. Just Ned. And the fact that we finally gave poor Peter a BFF that will NOT be turning into the Green Goblin. Plus his genre-saviness was cute.Without wading to Deadpool-esque 4th wall breaking.
  4. The fact that the “With great power comes great responsibility” thing did not come up. Like at all. Five Spiderman movies later, I don’t there’s anyone that’s not tired of that line.  Though it makes me curious… How do you think they offed uncle Ben this time?
  5. Peter vlogging everything
  6. Karen. And everything she stands for. Do you think Tony programmed an entire AI just for Peter’s suit. I expected there’d be an AI, but I figured it’d be F.R.I.D.A.Y.
  7. “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself becoming the villain”- Wrong Batman timeline, I know, but with Michael Keaton as the villain what did you expect?
  8. The movie is about Peter. Not Spiderman. It’s about Peter learning how to balance the superhero-ing around his everyday life. They don’t ignore that he’s a teenager. They don’t Gary Stu him (bless the scriptwriters for that). He’s a genius, yeah. But it’s the sort of genius that’s realistic. Sure he can work miracles on certain areas but that doesn’t make him all-knowing or wise beyond his years. Which is kind of a relief. Flawed characters are the best after all.
  9. Whoever in the US government convinced Captain America to do these educational videos. THANK YOU. It’s the sort of cheesy, well-intentioned thing I can totally see Steve getting suckered into doing. Also the fact that they acknowledge that he’s on the run from the government but, eh! Can’t be bothered to substitute the videos so we’ll go ahead and show them.
  10. No major character deaths! ‘nuf said
  11. How is Happy still alive? For the matter, how hasn’t he gone bald from the stress?
  12. Kinda wish we’d seen Peter meeting Vision. How cute that would have been.
  13. Shout-out for UEA showing up as the Avengers’ HQ again! (Love my old uni!)
  14. Yay for awkwardly awkward teen romance!
  15. That last end credit scene. Just…. Cap, it’s stunts like this that make me want to punch you.