Well, the United States has recorded 121,000 cases just in time for the announcement of their new president. I’m hoping that Biden will be elected and looking at the results it does seem that way. To any American followers out there, I just wanted to let you know that I’m sorry you all have to go through this. It’s the governments role to put whatever policies in place to keep their citizens safe and it was quite clear that Trump and his supporters only had the Economy in mind.
COVID is an incredibly infectious disease and it has already demonstrated that it can cause lasting effects months down the line. We don’t know what effects it can cause in the years to follow and that’s why it is incredibly dangerous. If people keep having the mentality that this disease is a conspiracy or that they won’t die if they catch it because they aren’t in the categories at risk – the numbers will continue to rise. I get that masks are uncomfortable but it’s very selfish to put the comfort of oneself above the health of others, especially if it means life or death for them.
I’ve only heard about actions that Biden will take to reduce the case numbers and I sincerely hope he gets in. I’m from Melbourne, australia where our premier put the entire state in a harsh lockdown for 3 months and made masks compulsory in order to get the cases down to zero. All people did was complain about their rights being taken away from them. I can very much see America doing the same if Biden is elected and he puts similar rules in place. I’m not sure whether people of the public will change their minds. For us, there were harsh fines in place if the rules were broken and it was effective. But I can not even begin to imagine trying to lower a case number as high as this. The highest we reached was around 700 cases daily.
The results should be in soon hopefully and most of the world is watching with fingers crossed that Biden is elected. Here’s my favourite tweet of the day to reduce the stress of the election. It definitey brought a smile to my face, I hope it does for you too!
Just a uni student who loves to write. Any donations are greatly appreciated!
I put off watching this show for a while. I thought it looked boring and I couldn’t be bothered getting worked up about feminist issues right now (there’s too much going on right now). However, I gave it a chance and actually enjoyed it quite a lot. It was so much more than about chess and feminism, it was about growing up too fast, having a bad family background, being an orphan, depression, alcoholism and coming out of it all triumphant. In this post I want to discuss the show and the amazing message behind it. There will be spoilers so beware please!
The Queens Gambit is about a girl who goes to live in an orphanage after her parents die. Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon is then discretely taught chess by a janitor in the basement of the orphanage. Eventually she gets adopted, by a husband and wife. The Wife’s name is Mrs. Alma Wheatley and I don’t remember the husbands name but he then abandons his wife, as well as his newly adopted daughter. Mrs. Wheatley and Beth hatch a plan. They decide to pretend Beth is sick so she can compete in chess competitions. Beth is incredibly good at chess and is considered a child prodigy. The rest of the story is about Beths journey to become the worlds top chess champion. Along the way; her mother dies due to alcoholism, Beth herself goes through alcoholism and drug addiction, she also encounters people along the way, hurting them but ultimately they support her in the end. So, let’s get into the reasons why this show was fantastic.
A Chess Girl’s Place in the World
Beth is a complex character and she’s written incredibly well. Throughout the show, I noticed her personality was a bit robotic. She doesn’t show emotion quite the same as others and I think that stemmed from her troubled childhood. Despite this, she was very susceptible to peer pressure and even taking on the habits other people taught her. In one scene, she’s at a party and they talk about boys, asking her if she’s taken interest in or even slept with any boys that she’s played against. Already we can see her place in the world. She doesn’t quite fit in with other girls her age nor with the boys. As a result? She feels the need to sleep with a guy to have that sense that she fits in with both of these genders. As with most teenagers pressured into sex at a young age, she didn’t enjoy it, even asking if the guy was finished yet during sex. I think this is something we can all relate to, not specifically in such a way, but the peer pressure to fit in. This show demonstrates another aspect of sexism, from being a female in a male dominated world to having female ideals pushed on her due to living in a patriarchal society. Because god forbid a woman enter a male dominated profession without fraternising with them. This show comments on feminism in a different way to a lot of shows I’ve seen. It does it subtly. From Beths style and elegance in such a male dominated world to her intelligence. She isn’t afraid to be smart and she does this without emphasising her gender (not that there is an issue with that). Beth draws attention to her intelligence through skill and the way she articulates language. I think it’s important to understand a feminist can express their feminism in different ways and my favourite way is to unapologetically be yourself.
As we progress further into Beths world, we see her rise up in the chess world and watch her mother delve deeper into alcoholism. Beths mother was supportive, yet she didn’t act like a mother at times. It made me challenge my idea of motherhood. Alma and Beths relationship was very much a partnership in which she was like Beths manager. But regardless, they spent a lot of time together and when a man stepped into the pictures, it felt like there was jealousy on Beths part. When Beths mother died, that was when we glimpsed her first step into alcoholism. She toasted the spot her mother was supposed to be sitting with a martini on the plane. It showed that she needed to drink to cope with stress and sadness. While she progressively became better at chess, she enlisted a guy named Benny to help her. She was drinking at this point by Benny helped her to reduce her intake. What threw her into a horrible bender was Bennys friend, Alice. Beth met up with her the night before an important match and as a result, entered the match hung over. The defeat made her addiction spiral.
Addiction is an ugly thing to battle. A downward fall is hard to escape and she couldn’t. Those around her weren’t able to help because she wasn’t accepting aid. That all changed when an old friend (Jolene) resurfaced, to tell her the janitor (Mr Shaibel) who taught her to play chess had died. Jolene brought her to that orphanage and when Beth saw the newspaper clippings of herself hung on the wall, that is when she changed. For me, this was symbolic that she needed someone to be proud of her, because she screwed up so immensely. The fact that it was Mr Shaibel is what mattered. The person who taught her the thing she loved. The childhood dream had re-awoken and the path she had lost was cleared. There’s a scene in which the press are asking her for a statement about a match in the Russian chess tournament. At first, she wasn’t going to say anything, her bodyguard turns and says she should make a statement about America (he was with the NSA I think). Instead she tells them about Mr Shaibel, a janitor who taught her to play chess – and the crowd is shocked that a janitor could do such a thing. She held an enormous amount of respect for this man and returning to her beginnings helped her to come out of the addiction she was trapped in. He helped her even in death. We all face these moments in life, where we’ve had such defeat that it seems like there’s no hope. Like we are alone and lost. Some can turn to substance abuse and that’s hard to come out of. I think this message is extremely important, but that’s not my favourite part of it.
Now, we’ve reached the end. Endings are often bittersweet for me, but I absolutely loved this one. Beth went off to Russia to face the Worlds best chess player in his home country. She got there with a stranger as her body guard (this was set during the Cold War) and she played without drugs or alcohol. Then a friend appeared. Someone from the past, who I haven’t mentioned because like many of us, she had friends whom she lost. They reunited and sorted out their mistakes. Then Benny reappeared in her life, with an (ex-lover who helped her with chess) and a group of people she had become acquainted with. These people reappeared through a phone call and they wanted to help her win and they succeeded. Brainstorming strategies collectively and going through them with her. So, why do I love this ending so much? These people who she thought she lost re-appeared in her life wanting to help her achieve her dreams and through letting them help, she did. They had witnessed her worst, and even her maturing into an adult. They still wanted to help her fulfil her dream and the best part is she let them. Instead of using the alcohol or pills, she let her friends help her and that is amazing character development. I think at times society underestimates the powers of friendship. There’s a stigma that emotions and feelings are meant for romantic relationships. One should be comfortable expressing thoughts and feelings with friends. It’s okay to let see you at your worst. Friends who ignore that aren’t the ones you want in your life. Friends who let you be you and let you grow if need be. Space is fine too, as long as there’s growth. So, this is why I love the ending. Friendship is powerful. A romantic partner isn’t always going to save you. That takes coming to terms with oneself and letting the right people in. Obviously it’s easier said than done, but the journey is a process most people go through in life.
The very last scene was Beth, telling her body guard she wanted to walk to the airport. She walked through an area with old men playing chess. They recognised her and wanted to play with her. Beth was happy and she was making other people happy while doing what she loved.
Thanks for reading everyone! This show demonstrated so many topics but at the very end it was wholesome and inspiring. I wanted to write a review because this is the first show that has left me smiling in a while. I hope you can watch it!
Just a uni student who loves to write. Any donations are greatly appreicated!
An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.
It’s amazing how easy it is for animals to communicate with their eyes. This image of my cat spoke to me because his eyes are a beautiful green colour and almost trance like. The real reason they’re trance-like? because he thought I was giving him treats.
Thanks for reading! This poem is dedicated to my cat Taylor who passed away this morning. Our pets are truely a gift and they deserve of every bit of love we can give. Sometimes it’s hard, but in the end they love us unconditionally.
Nature likes to work in cycles. Processes aren’t linear, it circles back around so each event can happen over and over again. Life is a cycle. You’re born, reproduce and die. And that life is made up of many cycles. These cycles are passed on to your children. Everything goes in a circle. I never realised how much my life was entwined around this process.
I have this one distinct memory from when I was a child. It’s one that encompasses every fear I have, and every negative trait I’ve developed. I close my eyes and I can remember it. I was lying in bed, I hear a banshee. My mother produced a sound that I never thought was possible from her mouth. I lay there longer, waiting, listening. The screams didn’t stop, they only changed pitch. It was distorted and I couldn’t make out the words. I got up out of bed and peeked my tiny head around the corner. There was a shadow. She was arguing with a large shadow. Only growls escaped its mouth. Loud thunderous growls. And in terror I hurried back to bed. I lay there a while. Eventually, footsteps approached and I could feel it’s eyes on me. I didn’t look. I just lay still, pretending to sleep until it left. This is the memory of terror. Anything that terrified my mother was scary to me. Whatever demon that was would plague me in the shadows. I wish I could say it was the last time I encountered it as a child, but it wasn’t. It did eventually stop, though not until the damage was done.
I wish the story of what haunted me ended there. For years it was quiet, then it suddenly returned, a beast stalking its prey. It started when my mother came to live with me. At first she was okay, then she got sicker and her mind faded. And I awoke to her screaming in the middle of the night again. The banshee had re-awoken. I comforted her and put her back in bed. I know the precise moment it happened. The exact point in which the haunting started again. When I put her back to bed a large shadow appeared in my peripherals. I froze. My heart dropped and my heart rate rose simultaneously. I turned on the lamp, and with the presence of light it diminished. I returned to bed and that night. I was young and afraid again.
The next morning my mother was herself again and remembered nothing of the night before. I however, was stuck in thought and doing my best to avoid shadows. The light stayed on in my house most nights until I became comfortable enough to turn them off again. The issue with comfort is that one becomes too comfortable eventually. As my mother’s illness progressed, strange things started to happen. Objects started to disappear and then I started to see the shadow again. It only progressively got worse. My mind was scattered and I began to lose time.
It took me a while, to discover why I was losing time. At first I just started noticing the time was later than I expected it to be. My mother didn’t notice anything because she was slowly losing her mind. I brushed it off and thought I was just bad at keeping time. Then slowly I started to realise I’d be in a completely different room than I was the first time. At this point I becoming scared. No matter how much I tried, it wouldn’t stop. So I would mark the room I was in for a while with tape to try and make sense of everything. I even considered seeing someone, but I was terrified at the idea of speaking about it. Eventually, I began to remember snippets of my lost time. Those minutes or hours were spent elsewhere. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but I was transported into what seemed like the past. Into a memory. Both traumatic and beautiful. Yet, one always stood out. The one with my mother and the shadow. The banshee and beast.
Soon after I made this discovery, my mother passed and the blackouts stopped. The dark figure was gone and all was peaceful. Years went by, I met someone and soon discovered I was pregnant. We named her Isobel and for the first time in my life, it felt as though I had a true purpose. It was my job to raise this beautiful child and make sure I did great. It was going fantastically. I enjoyed every second of every day. Then, the hormones wore off and the depression kicked in. That was fine, I could deal with that. I could. That was until my grandmother on my fathers side fell ill and needed to be cared for. Of course, I offered. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was home with the baby anyway. Plus, I’ve always felt guilt because her only son died and I am her only grandchild.
She came and life was okay. I was still suffering from postpartum depression but she wasn’t a burden. However, around a month in was when the shadows started again. The same way as they did with my mother. Always in the corner of my eye. At first, I was scared, but it got easier as time went on. I blamed it on the depression. Then around two months later, the blackouts started again, in the exact same pattern as before. My grandma didn’t notice at first, but eventually she couldn’t ignore Isobel crying. She described me as being in a trance like state. Unresponsive, yet my eyes were open. I battled this for months and only seeked help when it got so bad I couldn’t care for Isobel anymore. See, the entire time, I didn’t seek help wasn’t because I was scared. I didn’t because each blackout I started to remember. I started to realise I was inside my mind, and that it was telling me something. It was much like lucid dreaming. I realised I wasn’t entirely awake. All because I didn’t remember it happening this way. Each new bit of information would allow me to begin lucid dreaming. Which brings me to the memory I was so afraid of. The one that influenced every fear. See, my mother was never screaming at a shadowy beast. She was screaming at my father. He had asked her for money to fuel his addiction and she was starting to fight back. My brain suppressed this memory. It wanted to protect me and keep the rest of the memories away.
The brain can be quite foolish at times. Repressing the memories did me no favours. I thought I was haunted because of them. The reality was that the trauma was brought back to cycle within my mind until I could make sense of it. The cycle of abuse that I thought me and my mother escaped was still trapped within. Every fibre of me effected. I am eternally thankful that I realised after my daughter was born. The toxicity I could’ve caused would’ve driven her away. The abusive behaviours that were engrained into me had the potential to be fuelled by the anger within. But I broke the cycle. I am free. The cycle of abuse ends with me.
I just wanted to add that I’ve created a science blog called That Hipster Scientist. Please check it out if you have time! It’s a science blog I created because I love science.
This is a repost because the WordPress app keeps glitching on me. For some reason it posts my scheduled posts a month earlier if I’m not extra vigilant. As a result it gets less reads, which can be disheartening when you work hard on it and WordPress stuffs up. Also if anyone knows how to fix this problem please let me know!