A LIST ABOUT STAR WARS AND ALSO MY MOM
Formerly: "books I remember fondly from my childhood"
- •Tales from the Mos Eisley CantinaI read a lot of Star Wars books as a kid. Like, all of them. Young adult level, adult level, didn't matter. All of my early choose-your-own-book book reports were Star Wars-related. At one point, my teacher wrote home to my parents and was like, "hey, maybe jake can read something other than Star Wars" and i was very indignant about it. I was a very mature reader, goddammit, and Miss Beatty could go screw.
- •Star Wars Essential Guide to CharactersThe thing was, I wasn't consuming this endless stream of books as novels, per se. I didn't acknowledge differences in quality or notice that some contradicted each other. If I was getting bored with one, it was my bad. I just needed to keep trying. These were texts to be absorbed, like history books. I read guides like this one cover to cover as I desperately tried to grasp everything there was to grasp about this galaxy, making justifications to account for contradictions and crappy writing.
- •Heir to the EmpireMy mom and I had a very special relationship in those days. And I was very proud of it. I was a good boy and very mature, so my mom treated me like an adult (see my inappropriate movies list), and I got to hear all about the way things really were. I heard about how my dad was controlling and cheap and how he and his parents had forced my mom to convert to Judaism and how she had gotten engaged to him way too quickly (my parents were married at the time, just so you know).
- •Specter of the PastI heard lots about how my dad's father was a monster and how my mom's mother psychologically tortured her from childhood to this day. I heard dirt about my friends' parents. She recounted (and often repeated) all of these stories with such fervor, it was like she was reliving them. Horrible deeds done to her 30 years ago were described in agonizingly vivid detail. The common thread of all of these stories is that all of them portrayed my mother as a helpless, passive victim.
- •Dark Force RisingAs a naturally empathetic person, I took on mother's rage, fear, and bitterness as if it were my own. However, another thing my mother taught me was to do absolutely nothing with those emotions. She would rile me up with righteous anger and then move on to the next subject, while I was left with no outlet for these toxic feelings. It went without saying that I could never confront those who hurt my mother, nor could I even let them know I knew their "secrets."
- •Dark EmpireYears passed and the stories became more outlandish, more primal in their emotional urgency and desperation. My brain picked up inconsistencies or realized a new, damning detail had been added out of nowhere to an old chestnut, but I justified them to myself by thinking that my mom believed them, so they must be true. As the list of deeds perpetrated on my mom grew and grew, however, my emotional response began to change, to deaden. I would listen credulously, but would then move on.
- •The Bacta WarOne time, my mom casually mentioned to me that she had thought about swallowing a bunch of pills after my dad and brother were "mean" to her the night before. I barely reacted and didn't give it another thought.
- •The Courtship of Princess LeiaAbout 8 years ago, I started dating my now-wife. She was intelligent, self-possessed, and self-confident. We were open and honest with each other. My mother, as I would soon realize, was very intimidated by all of this. Soon, I began to learn the horrid truth of where all of her stories came from. I started hearing that my girlfriend had asked her for my medical records (for when we have babies), had texted my uncle to tell him her baby would be cuter than his newborn grandson, and others.
- •Tales of the Bounty HuntersOf course, these were lies, but they had now been told to everyone in my family and my parents' friend group. I learned that my mother would often approach someone, tell them something she thought about someone else, and then recount the conversation later as if the positions were reversed. Even more disturbing, she seemed to believe her own bullshit and, more perniciously, knew which people would believe her.
- •Showdown at CenterpointFor the first time, I pushed back. She was undaunted, twisting the facts harder. She now turned her "storytelling" abilities on me. She was nasty, pulling out things I had done and said years before, distorting them until they were unrecognizable, and then hurling them at me. She said without a trace of irony that this was all my fault because I had never taught her how to share me with another woman. For the first time, I went to my dad and told him what had really gone on all these years.
- •Splinter of the Mind's EyeWithin a year, my mom had a psychotic break, winding up naked in a stranger's swimming pool. It turned out she was dangerously borderline and bipolar. Everything she had said for all those years was a lie. Everything I thought I knew about my father, my family, my friends, myself was discredited. Except I didn't (and still don't) know which parts of my knowledge of the world came from my mother. They were too ingrained. My parents got divorced. My mother and I don't speak anymore.
- •A New DawnA few years ago, when Disney bought Star Wars, it was announced that everything in those books I had pored over in my childhood was being "erased" from the canon. Exploded like the Death Star(s). Many fans felt bewildered, betrayed even, and despaired that they were now lost without a map in a galaxy they once believed they knew so well. By then, however, I'd gotten used to the feeling.