Yesterday I doodled and uploaded a new ASMR video.
I still have two ten minute coffee can poems I need to write, but today I had something of a breakthrough that I would rather talk about instead.
I mentioned WOLF and Undersea and Coelacanth, but I also have three other characters that I adopted from other players: Cypress Frostfur, Szymon Cairn, and Lotte Ansbjørn. I know. Wolves with last names. It’s a thing. Don’t worry about it. Szymon is retired now, which means I pulled him from the game and don’t write for him anymore, but it was ridiculously easy for me to sink into his character. Cypress is the same way. I identify with a lot of their personal struggles and our neuroses tend to match up. The boys don’t react the way I might to certain stimuli, but still — writing for them has generally been easy, inspiring, exciting and fun. I struggled more with Cypress because I have played him since he was born on June 27th, 2016. It’s really boring to play a newborn wolf puppy because…they don’t really do anything. They can’t even urinate or defecate without assistance. You’re just like, “CYPRESS WORMED AROUND, NURSED, AND FELL ASLEEP.”
Anyway, I don’t really feel like going into detail about Cypress and Szymon [affectionately nicknamed “Sizzle”] because that would take me ages and I have things I need to do. What I wanted to talk about was Lotte, my problem child.
Lotte wins the award for the character I struggle with the most, and it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve played her since Cypress was born and it’s never gotten any easier. She does things that make me cringe — she’s brash, outspoken, and dominant and I’m timorous, introverted, and submissive — and the vast difference in our personalities is probably a significant part of the rift I feel with her, but that’s not the only thing. It takes me days sometimes to get into the mindset of writing for her, but once I do I think her posts come out okay. It’s just…getting there is brutal. Not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought, “Man. It would be so nice if I could just drop Lotte and keep on with Coelacanth, Cypress, and Eirlys.”
Oh, yeah. I also play Eirlys, Lotte’s daughter. She was born April 1st, 2017.
Everybody struggles for inspiration at some point in their lives, I think, so I don’t really dwell on the constant agony that is trying to get into Lotte’s mindset. Some people listen to music and other people read works of fiction or watch shows that inspire them, but that doesn’t always work for me. Originally I thought it’d be cute if Eirlys took after Moana a little bit, but that plan has been scrapped because although the pack she was born into was originally a seaside pack, they’ve since relocated. Now they live in a little strath in the southern hinterlands weeks away from the ocean. It’s…kind of a bummer, honestly, but that’s my personal affinity for the ocean speaking. Lotte hates sand. She’s from the northern tundra.
WE HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON.
Maybe up until approximately an hour ago, I still felt that way.
Now, though, Sara Bareilles has done some kind of crazy magic voodoo and given me a flicker of hope for Lotte’s future. Her fantastic song from Waitress, “She Used to Be Mine,” has been on repeat for the past week or so. I never once linked it to Lotte. When I write with music, I usually pick a song or an ASMR video that I like, stick it into ListenOnRepeat, and let it play in the background. What I’m listening to doesn’t have any bearing on what I’m writing — I just need background noise. Otherwise, I get distracted by every little thing that happens in my house.
It used to be the cool, fancy thing to garnish our posts with song lyrics or lines of poetry that encapsulated the situation or the character. Some people still do it. I still do it, if I’m particularly moved. Cypress is heavily inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and most of the titles of his threads come from “Dream-Land”. Similarly, I draw from a wide range of sources to immerse myself in the right feel and aesthetic for Coelacanth’s posts and for Undersea. Lotte, though? There hasn’t been anything I’ve listened to or watched that has “spoken” to me from her point of view.
Because Sara Bareilles broke my brain.
Today I wrote a Lotte post that I was unusually happy with, and it felt like I’d broken through. I’d won, somehow. I still don’t know if I’ll be able to keep her long-term because it’s just…really, really hard to write for her, but today is a good day.
it’s not simple to say
that most days i don’t recognize me
that these shoes and this apron
that place and its patrons
have taken more than i gave them
it’s not easy to know
i’m not anything like i used be, although it’s true
i was never attention’s sweet center
i still remember that girl
As he often does, Arturo gives Lotte a gift she doesn’t realize she needs. He has married a soldier, not a princess, and it is all too easy for the young queen to lose herself in duty and responsibility. These things fuel and drive her, but she is helpless in the face of their demands. Without someone to forcibly take the bit from her mouth, she is too easily consumed by them. The dawn of the year has brought event after heavy-hitting event — the Donnelaith fire, her move to Teaghlaigh, and her marriage to Arturo; her ascension to leadership, her first heat cycle, and her ensuing pregnancy; the threat of Blackfeather Woods, the exodus to the hinterlands, and the exile of Olive and Dakarai. Add to these things the departure of her kaksonen, the birth of her children, and the constant struggle to keep them happy and healthy despite their dicey arrival, and what you have is a stretched-thin girl with a hard-lined mouth and cool silver eyes.
Some days it feels like Lotte Ansbjørn died in that fire. Some days it feels like she left with Dagfinn. Some days Banríon looks at her reflection in the water and searches for that girl, that reckless, hoydenish girl who wooed and won a gangster in gentleman’s clothing, and doesn’t recognize the harsher set to her black-masked features. There’s a stranger in her body, and only her eyes know that what she’s seeing isn’t what’s inside — but not with any concrete certainty. Where is the laughter? Where is the spice, the sass, the spirit?
Where is Lotte?
At present the soot-stockinged songbird is seated riverside, and when her mate’s call rises above the trees her charcoal-colored ears flick and swivel to catch it. Her children are already under Hemlock’s capable care, but there is still a moment of sluggish hesitation that delays her. Every day that Dagfinn’s gone, it gets harder to answer to the sound of her own name, not out of spite or despondency, but because without him to ground her it’s all too easy to forget who she is. This time, she is not Kaniini, Kitku, or Solene.
She is a stranger even to herself.
After a beat, she rouses herself to respond to that call. She doesn’t know how much time has passed, if any. She doesn’t clock the hours the way she used to. Her surefooted paws draw her away from the river and out of the strath, into the sweep of fragrant cedar where a forest clearing and a good, solid man who loves her waits. There is no ecstatic flutter of her heart as she stands, breathing deeply, looking at him; but there is a feeling of weightlessness that melts the ice in her argent eyes degree by slow degree. She warms to him, softening, a smile curling the sharp corners of her lips and making something sweet of them. “Turo,” the nightingale sighs, instinctually defining herself by her place at his side. It’s easy to cross the distance. Easy to snake her body hard against his in the old, familiar way, and walk a circle around him before pressing her lips to his cheek, his mouth, the base of his ear. It doesn’t fix the problem, but she doesn’t see that. Doesn’t care.
“I have missed you,” she murmurs, and these words are true.
she’s imperfect, but she tries
she is good, but she lies
she is hard on herself
she is broken and won’t ask for help
she is messy, but she’s kind
she is lonely most of the time
she is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
she is gone, but she used to be mine