[ScarletExplains] A Surreal State of Mind: Crisis in the Commonwealth

Photo by Harmony Cloud

Newbury Street Stroll Lolita Meet Up. Photo by Harmony Cloud

It was a late August evening when everything changed. My eyes were still feeling groggy on the six hour flight. As the Jet Blue flight was taxing to the gate, I caught glimpse of the Boston skyline for the first time in years. It was a sight for sore eyes. The city was lit up. I’ve been to New York and lived in LA and San Francisco, nothing lights up like the Boston downtown skyline. It was my “welcome home.”

It was not until recently I’ve fully accepted Boston as my home. I moved to Boston from a declining California economy to start up a new life for myself. Not only I found success in my career, but I’ve found new friends that I am forever grateful for. If you have experienced moving from one town to another, you know the value of finding an emotionally supportive network. It was not until the day before the Boston marathon, I felt at home in New England. After months of finding a niche – a quixotic community of frilly lolis and whimsical cosplayers – I finally found home. Home is not just the building you live in or the roof over your head; home is where you have support from people who care about you.

On April 14th, a handful of New England based Lolitas just wanted to have fun and do some shopping. There was no drama leading up or even after the event. People were generally nice and we even had a gal who was attending her first Lolita event. We shopped along Newbury Street, a brownstone lined shopping area. We had sushi and had hot chocolate. We took photos by an old Baptist church from the 1600s. No drama, just girls (and guys) just having a sweet time in fluffy dresses. We would not have imagined that tragedy would strike just a block away.

On Monday April 15th, when the news broke out at my workplace, I couldn’t help but think how one place where memories were made and friendships were started could turn into utter chaos. “I pass by that (Boylston) street all the time,” I thought to myself. Places that are so mundane, you never think that tragedy will strike. When the photos started to slowly come out, I just could not look anymore. Though I’m desensitized to violence on Filipino news (they have no sense of ethics), this is a thoroughfare I’m all too familiar with. Seeing the images – the blood, the carnage – you would think it’s from a movie set, but it’s not. It’s hard to believe that this could happen on a street you walk by almost every weekend.

Reflecting on this, life is too short for drama. In our dress-up hobbies, we become so caught up with how we’re going to look like and how people are going to judge us. We get so worked up on such mundane issues. The incident has inspired conversations of how anime conventions can be safe from terror attacks, instead I pose another question, “With all the tragedy and uproar in the world today, is our petty differences worth it?” Why should we worry if someone else is cosplaying as the same character, whether or not we’re going to be 110% accurate to a character, or even in this s0-called race to cosplay e-fame…in the end, it’s just us wearing funky outfits.

It’s all right to feel sentimental and look fondly on memories of the good times. Who knows how long they’ll last? It’s important to live in the moment and cherish the times we have together as friends. I intend to hit up Boston Comic Con this weekend because well, I love comics and I won’t let the attackers take away my sense of security and right to go out and have fun.

I’ve also been asked how I feel about memes that poke fun at the tragedy. I was originally going to post a separate editorial on comments made about an infamous photo of Rainbow Dash being responsible for the fall of the World Trade Center, but I guess I’ll say it here. While I understand that humor takes us away from the reality and darkness from a situation, there is such thing as bad taste. People are still mourning and making light of the events. However, what is more important is how you react to these situations. Are you laughing because it’s Rainbow Dash, or are you laughing at the victims? Are you responding in a way that trivializes and dehumanizes the events? It’s not so much the meme that offends me, but when younger generations say, “I don’t understand why people are so upset by 9/11. Whatever!” it makes you want to pull these teens by the scuff and give them a lecture about decency and history. To put things further, here’s an excerpt from the Anime Expo 2009 final thoughts:

The biggest offender was “LT & AX” where both reporters failed to mention the significance of the Onizuka memorial, yet the Challenger memorial (“blasting off”) was used as punch line material. Have we forgotten our history? Considering this is significant to Japanese American culture, I would have assumed that Anime Expo would have been sensitive about this topic.

It’s really important that we don’t forget that these events effect people. People with families. People with friends. It’s important that we, as nerds, need to educate ourselves on history and it’s meaning and significance. When we live in times of tragedy, it’s important we pass this onto the next generation or it will be forever lost.

However, there are charitable ways that we all can help. It’s our time to be the helpers that Mr. Rogers is talking about. For those of you who feel like you want to do something kind, here are some organizations that you can donate money to: (thanks Jessi L!)

Limbs for Life

One Fund Boston

Boston Firefighters Credit Union

Any donation, no matter how large or small your offer is, will go a long way. Sometimes, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed by emotions and feelings in wake of a tragedy. While we do not know the cause or the motivation (yet), it is important to know that there are kind people in this world that will always outnumber the evildoers.

we heart boston

All in for Boston

– Scarlet

Scarlet is the Editor in Chief of Scarlet Rhapsody. She can be reached at v @ scarlet-rhapsody.com

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