After over a decade of faithful use, my parents' television blew out. Strangely. Rather undramatically, come to think. During my sister's fiance's video game, no less.
The interesting problem of the television came into being.
We are, all and sundry, complete idiots with electronics. No, really. Since around, oh, birth, I've been the one that did the VCR and later DVD programming, setting the times and the channels, learning what all the buttons and little slots do, etc etc etc. That doesn't mean I know what I'm doing or have any actual natural sense about it--it means even as a child, I found vast entertainment sitting in front of the television with the remote control, hitting things just to see what happened. Which really does say a lot about how I got my kicks as a kid. But anyway.
My father, and I love him, knows even less about electronics than I do. If it uses a circuitboard, he's just not getting it. This does not, however, stop any of us from this strange belief that if we disassemble it, we can figure out what is wrong, even if we have no idea what we are looking at. We don't trust other people. Keep in mind I was doing my own repairs on my computer and all the upgrades for years and still do, despite the fact I have an iron-clad warranty. Not because I have a clue. But because, genetically, we all honestly to God believe we can figure this stuff out just by staring at it long enough.
It's very weird.
So, Sister, me, Dad, and Mom all gathered around to disassemble the television. Using power tools and a duster (it's dusty in there! Maybe that's the problem!) and look blankly at the array of wires and board available for our perusal. My sister camps down with the flashlight and the diagram of the interior of the television pasted into the interior of the case, calling out strange things like "J453 is the thingamabob" and we all look carefully to find the thingamabob that we're not sure what is for, but has to have some purpose we can divine by sheer will.
And one and all, my family? Lots and lots of will.
"That's a fuse," Dad states triumphantly, and we all nod and agree, indeed, that IS a fuse. I've never actually seen one, but again. Remember. We WILL it to be a fuse. Pulling it out (I can see people laughing already), we study it carefully. It's a fuse, definitely, we decide, using the hieroglyphic diagram that tells us that in the general vicinity of what we were studying there DOES exist a fuse and fuses, as a rule, are removable. Holding the tiny glass thing, we all wonder how to figure out if it works. Or how. Something.
"Wrap it in tinfoil," Dad decides, and we all nod agreement. Tinfoil is produced, wrapping the glass, and it's stuck back inside. Plug in television. Little strange, alien beeps, then nothing. Hmm.
Using the diagram, we mark out places of interest--apparently, shielded areas where there exists X-radiation (no, seriously, did anyone know that televisions use x-rays? I didn't!), with a warning to only do things with that part in some kind of special lab. We all note the wires and the places where we could die slowly and painfully and think about taking THAT apart, because again, we're idiots.
The interesting problem of the television has been shelved, since a new thing was found to disassemble--a seventies movie editor, from when film was on strips. Such a beast I knew not existed, but there we go. We stared into the most bizarre screen I've ever seen--seriosuly, people, I was wondering if the cavemen did their home movies on this sucker--and marveled at our ability to make a piece of film run through this. Marveled even more we made it work.
This brings me to the happy memories of when my VCR went out. Which is the proof of my genetic inheritance of insanity.
I love my VCR. It's gone everywhere with me since I got it for graduation. Everywhere, literally. Well, no surprise, it's about seven years old, it's time it was allowed to die. But no, not on my watch. I grabbed screwdrivers of varying sizes, some duct tape (stop laughing!) and disassembled it once upon a time (er, six months ago) and sat staring into the array of stuff inside in awe.
Then plugged it in and started hitting things until it started working.
It's working now, btw. I think it's scared of me.
Again, keep in mind. I have no actual ability here. But I did get a kick out of the reaction of a friend of mine who came over while I was gleefully shoving tapes in and poking with the screwdriver.
"JENN! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"
"Will you LOOK at this? Watch!" I hit rewind and watched in awe as the little thingers winded the tape around. It was beautiful. Friend promptly showed me the case, where it says, quite clearly, that what I'm doing will in fact lead to my ultimate demise. Right. Like I'm going to believe PROFESSIONALS who DESIGNED the thing and KNOW what it can do. Sure.
"Jenn, unplug it."
"Unplug the VCR and put it together. It works now. You don't have to torture it anymore."
She had a point, and my VCR still sits on my television, doubtless dying by the second but determined to hold out until the bitter, bitter end, just to avoid me and the screwdriver.
What makes this more fun, of course, is that Child is as addicted to this as we are. For his third or fourth birthday, after he had learned how to disassemble his walkie-talkies with butter knives in the back of the closet, my dad got him his own tool set. Not being completely lost to reality, I took away the tiny saw and this poking thing that vaguely reminded me of somthing out of a horror movie about evil children, but the hammer, the screwdrivers, and the needle nosed pliers stayed.
There's this stereo that got blown out. Vaguely newish, and I'm not sure who owned it, but it was donated to the cause after we caught Child looking in interest at my computer and fingering his toolbox meaningfully. I set it up on the floor, put his toolbox beside him, and told him to go at it.
He had every screw out of that thing in about three days. I still find them on the floor around the house. Tiny little things. Everywhere.
Stripping the case, Child got to the serious business of getting the CD tray apart then the tape deck, by, again, force of will and one Phillips head screwdriver that still hasn't completely recovered from it's duty. After the pieces were out and admired, Child took teh hammer and started banging away at the case until i twas so many tiny bits of plastic that, like glitter and roaches, will never go away and never die.
Since most of this was done in VCR's view, I'm going to guess that, just maybe, it's also just about as scared of Child as Me. I've been looking at some simple electronics for kids at teh Discovery Zone, but I'm not sure Child can downgrade to tiny circuits when he's been demolishing entire circuit boards.
lorax goes into some interesting places here about romance and happy endings.
When you read through friends lists, fanfiction rec sites, etc you start to see how much Angst is out there. There's fluff, true, but I think the angst may outweigh it. There may be more suffering and darkness than there is fluffy sweet sex and giggles.
So why? I'm obviously not the only one who doesn't like Happy Endings. God knows my real life friends whine about them as much as I do. We don't want the girl to end up with the boy, or Cinderella to wave goodbye from her Pumpkin coach.
After some thought, I think it's because Happy Endings make us envious, on some level. Things never end happy in real life. There's no such thing as happily ever after. There's happy moments, happy days, happy weeks - if you're lucky, there's even happy months. Times when you have a new love, or a job you love, or some great success. But they always end. There's always something gray at the end of it. And when stories end on a happily ever after, it leaves us with this faintly resentful feeling that doesn't like it.
Now THIS is intersting. She also discusses the appeal of romance novels, etc.
Of course, I think about this kind of thing too much.
I'll start off with the romance novel angle. You could not pay me to admit that I have read/sometimes read them. That I used to read them constantly. And that even now, I keep a few favorite standbys for when I'm bored and need something light to read. And also, when I want to remind myself that while sometimes fanfic written smut is bad, we're still light years ahead of most romance novels in most ways that count. Maybe because we've been doing it for so damn long.
Anyway, it's an interesting thought. I like happy endings--but on my own terms. But again, as I understand it, what I think is happy and what other people classify as happy seem to be very different. Perhaps one might say diametrically opposite.
But this is what caught me and made me kind of mostly agree in general.
Which got me thinking. Happy Endings make me cringe. Some deep, intrinsic part of my psyche just cringes when everything ends in a neat little shiny package. I want there to be pain, and memory, and loss. I'd like there to be SOME happiness, but I don't want the world to suddenly take on blue skies.
For me in specific, I want it to cost something.
I don't think this is unreasonable in the human psyche. To relate this to fandomish meta, people were pointing out that the free-ness of the net made people value it less. True, most people agreed. Vidders were offended people took their work, that had been paid for in time and frustration and sweat and really damn severe headaches, and the people taking it couldn't quite come to grips with the fact that just because it's free doesn't mean it doesn't have value. It doesn't COST anything, so how can it be worth anything, so how can it be valuable? That's a pretty cold rationale, but it's also true. Let's face it--we value things by cost, either monetary or in other, less concrete ways. I mean, there's a reason Huge Revelations come after near death experiences and all. In some ways, I do think its the concrete moment where we get the idea that life isn't free either, and the value goes up. Childbirth--the cost is nine months and then some of the most agonizing pain in creation for a length of time that feels like forever. I could keep going in this vein for awhile.
I could generalize to the entire population, except I'm almost sure someone's going to completely disagree, but think about this one. Why go with designer t-shirts when you can buy the ones from Hanes three to a pack? There's no difference in quality if you choose the right kind. The difference is in the cost.
Okay, getting away from that.
It shouldn't be easy, most of us think. I mean, we all read the stories with the easy happiness--hell, most of us WRITE them, because sometimes, we can believe it's that easy to fall in love and live happily ever after. But somewhere in us, at least once in awhile, is the dissatisfaction in it, the feeling of a lack of value. That if there isn't sacrifice, it can't be worth it.
And no, this isn't something grown out of a materialistic culture nonsense either. Nope. It's been around for ages. The highest form of love in the written word, for centuries, was the kind that you pined for and went to battle infidels (of whatever flavor) for or slayed dragons for. Check out Middle Age poetry and the very concept of courtly love. All you WERE supposed to do for the highest and purest love was to pine, sacrifice, be miserable, kill some people, and play the Middle Ages form of the banjo. If you were REALLY lucky, you get to look at an ankle or get a smile. And you paid for that privilege.
Keep in mind people really didn't ACT like that most of the time. But that was the ideal, even if teh real world was a lot more complex and had a lot more sex going on.
So you know, it's kind of a hardwiring in us.
If you look at it from the other side, it's not so much the payment as the willingness to do it. Sullensiren was talking about Buffy and not wanting it to be wrapped up in a clean package, wanting it to be about loss and memory along with the happiness. It's more than just having it happen to you--say, being held at gunpoint by no will of your own, but the concept of walking into that situation willingly.
Maybe it's like--not just paying for it, but proving to yourself what you already know, that it has value. The very act of being willing to pay, even if you don't have to.
Hmm. I'm getting confusing and esoterical, but it's a generalized state of my mind, so go figure. But here, I'll give you examples of stories I consider happy and my reasoning. Feel free to disagree on this one--it's a fact I don't think of happy in any way someoen sane would. *g*
Take Mercy for example -- it's all about the sacrifice. Lex sacrifices Clark for the sake of logic and truth, but in the end, he sacrifices those two things to love. In his view, he practically sacrificed reality itself as he knew it. Anyone can die for love, but it's a rare person who gives up what they consider sanity for it.
Or maybe Waiting For Yes by shallot. Seriously, while I have gone back and forth about whether it was love or obsession, in this case, the sentiment is still there. And Clark doesn't just give up his ass in that cemetary. He's giving up the memories of loved ones, morality, hell, his existence as he knows it.
And Jesus, Clark in Past Grief, who goes around SACRIFICIING people for love. Lois? Might as well have done it on an altar on some mountain. His soul, by degrees, but the Lois death still kicks me the hardest when I think about everything he was willing to destroy for the sake of love. Erleutchtung lacks the elegance of Past Grief but makes up for it in the sheer power of killing his parents like he did.
Let's see, let me convince you more of my insanity....
Chrysalis, which no one has ever agreed with me on, and probably never will, but me? I was enchanted with the transformation of Lex, what he did for Clark, what he was willing to do for Clark. It's just not often people sacrifice their entire souls like that and do it so--brazenly. And with their eyes wide open to the consequences and not even caring.
This is why I like stories that end with them together at the end. And why you'll see me classifying happyfic like this--because once you give up that much, once you're willing to, it's not my need for poetic justice to justify the sacrifice. It's because the second you're willing to go that far, I honestly don't see how you'd let anything, anything at all, stop you. Everything else, including the other person's reactions to your Really Big Sacrifice and Payment Plan, are pretty much details.
Keep in mind my fictional mindset really does have a thing for this. Which may be the answer to What Is Your Bulletproof Kink? *g*
And now I'm off to edit Pru's and my VeryWrongFic again, which is suddenly making scary amounts of sense. And just imagine, I had no idea where we were going with this one. Still don't, but at least now, I can see the why.