A Letter to The Ones Who Came Before

Dear ancestors,

I do not know your names. Your history is lost to me. An entire generation of forced silence beget a generation of grieving ignorance that beget generations of familial orphans. We are lost to each other. You will never know my smile, I will never know your laugh. Did you enjoy mangos as I do? Were any of you allergic to seafood or is that something I just developed?

Perhaps I exaggerate. My frustrations are exacerbated by the unknown. I see in my mother’s face an aunt, an uncle, a grandfather that I will never know. I feel in her love a strength and resilience passed from mother to daughter since before the time of slaves or conquistadors. My father’s chuckle, or the chainsaw snoring are ingrained lullabies from ancient times. The love of food and cooking and family gatherings near the kitchen are buried in DNA blessed by God or evolved after millennia.

Dear ancestors, my dear beloved ancestors. Our spirits travel dimensions to find one another, drifting in a sea of time and other lost ones searching for ties to a mysterious past. An unreachable past. At times the loss of you weighs me down until I feel I will never rise again. I cry hardest those days. Every now and then I walk a trail and feel you next to me. I am at peace especially in those times.

I think of how you would see me: a heathen, a fool, a sinner with no hope of salvation. I love you most in your judgement because it means you have dreams and hopes for me, even if I will never measure to them. I love you where you are because we come from different times and our values and morals in many ways would be completely different. I know best that at least one or two of you would want me happy and healthy, so you would never care about how I live my life as long as I am living it. I am my most carefree those days.

I dream of the wisdom you would have shared, the stories and lessons. The jokes and laughter we would share, common phrases and mottos you would pass on to me. Family names that would tether me to you in a way that is perhaps more superficial than blood, but considering my family name links me with millions of strangers all over the world? Maybe I want something more specific. Maybe I want something longer. Gift me with 5 names or 14. I am not picky, as long as I get to say I am yours and you were mine.

I wish for community. Someone to say I am just like this aunt or that cousin in temperament or vision. My parents and their siblings, their aunts and uncles, have fuzzy memories, and their generation lost as much as mine if for nothing else than the silence that was forced on them. Do they see their grandparents in me? Great-great uncles or aunts? Did we have a crazy cousin Ed or Tito?

Dear ancestors, I weep for losing you. I sob for the memories I will never gain in knowing of you. My soul home is built on sand, perhaps firm with myself and my mother and father, but the rest slips through my fingers without a care of my need for a firm foundation. One I know you would have wanted for me.

More than anything, I smile and cheer because I am here and regardless of the tether I do not have to you, regardless of how I drift through the stars of the universe, I am here. To the ones who came before me, I am the one who thrives after you.

Love,
Eris

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: To Go Forward, We Must Go Back

It has been 3 months since the debut of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and fans worldwide are continuously stuck in the debate of whether or not the newest addition to the video game franchise is true to the story that began in 2006. As a fan myself, I’m on the side of evolution which Ubisoft has taken in full force to recreate the series into a fulfledged role-playing game (RPG).

One of the first upsets to many fans with the announcement of Odyssey was the timeline, going back to 431 B.C.E. which is about 400 years before the creation of the Brotherhood of Assassins, as we found out in Assassin’s Creed: Origins. How can a storyline that takes place before the Creed still be considered an Assassin’s Creed story? The simplest argument, which myself and Sokrates would argue (we’re best friends now, so I can name drop him), is that the story is not about the historical figures we play for the majority of the game. We are the modern day Assassins playing a simulation to use history for a fight during the 21st century between the Brotherhood and the Order of the Templars. We are not the misthios, or mercenary, wielding a broken spear during the Peloponnesian War. We are, in Origins and Odyssey, Layla Hassan trying to figure out how to use the Pieces of Eden created by the Precursors, the advanced civilization the Assassins discovered who were supposedly responsible for creating and enslaving the human race. Before that, we are initiates into the Brotherhood as well as Desmond, and other members of the Assassins who use the simulations to try and gain information on the war against the Templars. Because at least for now, we cannot change the timeline (although I have plenty of theories on how Layla will be able to do so after Odyssey in future games).

Another complaint I have seen in forums and on social media is that Assassin’s Creed is no longer a game of stealth. This, again, I believe is all about perspective. There are always going to be things people don’t like about any video game. It is literally impossible to please everyone, which every fan should acknowledge as they make their complaints and express their frustrations. But I remember being frustrated with the fights and battles in the first few games. Honestly, up until and even with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, I was always having a hard time with brawls. It is probably why I always focused on assassinations. Plus, of course, you are an assassin. You should be stealth killing more than all out melee fighting people. And yet, with Origins and Odyssey, I could still stealth kill plenty of people. I built up both Bayek and Kassandra as awesome stealth badasses, and there is nothing that puts a smile on my face like going into a fort and taking everyone out without a single fight taking place. Merk the lot of them and leave no one standing, except maybe a slave or two if I am feeling merciful (or nah). So I do not really see how some fans argue that there is no stealth. And, when I want a boss warrior that can take a punch and still demolish a whole crowd of soldiers, I can have that as well. I no longer get frustrated during fights because of weird or clunky pauses between flying fists, or cooldown periods because someone needs to take a breather (looking at you, Jacob Frye).

Do I have some of my own complaints about the game? Sure. There are areas that can be improved. The silver lining is that the Ubisoft team seem to be listening pretty well to the community. Weekly patches and upgrades are constantly fixing glitches, weird bugs, or random code if it is ever found. It may not be perfect, but it is working. And I could not be happier with where the story is going. Layla, by far, is one of my most favorite Assassins, and I hope they continue her storyline for a while because I would say she is just as important if not moreso than Desmond Miles as a savior of humanity. Especially since in my eyes, the war was never really with the Templars, and always with the Precursors. But that’s a theory for another article.

What I Want in 2019

Change.

I want change. I need change. I am going to get it one way or another.

2017-2018 were hard years for me professionally. I was working with an association that had recently changed leadership. With the new CEO came culture changes that were hard to handle and deeply saddening. Harassment, racism, ageism, and a strong distrust of the staff are just the highlights of an organization that needed a fresh start, but instead was given nothing but rot. Content providers were terminated, or forced into quitting simply from the abuse of new bosses that had no managerial training. Not everyone suffered. Some people thrived with the changes, although I don’t think that is something they should be proud of considering what that shows about their character. About 20 people, myself included, have either resigned or were fired in a staff that was almost 30 strong when I first began working with the association in 2016.

Towards the end of last year, I was beginning to feel my depression and anxiety reach levels they hadn’t since I left a prior non-profit where I worked directly for a micro-manager that delighted in emotionally and mentally abusing me to “help me grow into a better version of myself.” I needed to get out and I did.

Forcing this kind of change in my life after spending my savings and going back into debt to help my mom while she recovered from surgery probably doesn’t seem like the best idea financially, and in some ways I wish I was strong enough to have lasted a bit longer. But I made a promise to myself in 21016 to be safe, and that office was not safe. There is nothing safe about a CEO who makes jokes about tanning so much she almost reaches the complexion of one of her staff. It’s not safe when during an staff meeting about improving organizational culture, a vice president suggests using the Heritage Foundation, a group focused on spreading a message of hate and white supremacy, as an example of “good mentor” for the association moving forward. There is no safety when higher level coworkers treat managers as gophers for their own work simply because they are younger after the CEO promises equity because the distinction between senior and junior staff is ridiculous and unfair.

So, coming into the new year, I have a one month part time contract as a remote social media consultant for a non-profit organization that works with Native Americans out West, and time to dedicate to change.

This year I am going to go for my dreams. I love writing, so I will grow myself as a freelance writer. I love social media, so I will consult with organizations who need assistance with content creation, promotion, and more on social media platforms. My focus, my goal, is to do the things I love. To work on healing, saving, and being the me I have dreamed about but never really spent the time developing. 2019 is the year I change.