Pokémon: Tryin’ to Catch ‘Em All

Pokémon: Tryin’ to Catch ‘Em All

I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with Pokémon for most of my life. I watched the anime as a little kid in elementary school, when I was mainstreaming from an ESE class to a regular class on a daily basis. My brother collected some Pokémon cards from the first generation, if not all, and I fell in love with the artwork they put into them; I didn’t care much about the trading card game in general. One day, my brother stopped collecting the cards–he didn’t even make it to the second generation–and to this very day I’m still pondering where he even hid his binder of Gen I cards. When I was 7 years old, I had a crush on the most powerful Pokémon at the time: Mewtwo. Long story short, I had a dream where Mewtwo saved my life from some kind of villain whose name and face I have completely forgotten. My crush on Mewtwo didn’t last very long, though. My cousin and brother laughed at the mere thought of a Legendary Pokémon being my “true love”–it would be out of my league, anyway.

In 2007, when I was in middle school, the Pokémon franchise became popular again on its 10th anniversary (in the U.S.). We entered Gen 4 with Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, yet I was still into the anime, not the games. However, I had a classmate named Joshua who was the biggest Pokémon fan I ever met. There was only one problem that got in the way of his Pokémon Training, though: religion. And by religion, I mean Josh’s parents. The sect of Christianity they were in–Baptist–deemed Pokémon demons created by the Devil to corrupt the minds of children, which I found very hard to believe. The belief perturbed me even more so when Josh came to me one time, if not more, complaining that his parents took away his Pokémon cards in accordance with the Baptist doctrine. Josh’s parents came around and allowed Josh to continue playing Pokémon, which he was proud of. I haven’t spoken to Josh since the 7th Grade, but I know he’s very happy to be a part of the Pokémon community (if he’s still active in it at all).

In my senior year of high school, close to graduation, my classmate in Psychology showed me the trailer for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, which wasn’t due until the fourth quarter of 2013. Watching the trailer on his Galaxy SIII, I was surprised at how much the producers enhanced the graphics–everything was full-blown CGI. Again, I didn’t care much about the games, only the anime series (the graphics improved in that area as well).

Now that I got my life story out of the way, let’s fast-forward to the 2014 holiday season. I was at GameStop trying to get Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 3DS), which was extremely popular. I downloaded the free demo from the Nintendo eShop, but I wanted to play the full game. It wasn’t on the shelf, as is the case with some popular video games, so I browsed around some more only to come across the most recent Pokémon games: Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. I thought long and hard about getting one of the two versions, and getting into the Pokémon games at all. Okay, Super Smash Bros. is out of the question because it’s nowhere to be found, I thought to myself. As for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal… well, as much as I love Sonic, I don’t want to take any chances on a game that’s more God-awful than Sonic ’06. Oh, what the hell, I’ll take Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. This might actually give me the opportunity to play something I should’ve played when I was younger! 

So, on Christmas Day, I officially became a Pokémon Trainer. My starter Pokémon? Torchic, who quickly evolved into Blaziken within a week or two. I caught some other Pokémon along the way–due to their ability to Evolve, I think it’s best for me not to name the Pokémon I acquired because it’s exahausting–and today I have 422 out of 719 Pokémon in my Pokédex. I would’ve had more than 422 Pokémon or maybe even closer to 700 if not for a couple of problems: trading and Legendaries. In my brother’s time, you needed a wire to trade Pokémon from one Game Boy to another, which wasn’t an issue if your classmate didn’t mind giving you a special Pokémon. Now that the recent Pokémon games have wireless Internet capability, it’s easier to trade Pokémon with your close friends and other people around the world–not to mention a huge headache. Right now, I’ve proposed a trade to at least a dozen people from Italy, France, Japan, Spain, the UK, Australia, and even here in the US, and they have not gotten back to me. If someone does accept my trading proposal, I would offer them a Pokémon that I could care less about in exchange for a Pokémon that may interest me. Here’s where the trading process gets problematic. Sometimes, if I offer a Magby in exchange for a potential Legendary (for example, Diancie) I would accept it, but then the other person would cancel that trade. Speaking of Legendaries… If I go to the Global Trading Station and seek Diancie, Mew, Shaymin, Jirachi, Deoxys, or any other Legendary Pokémon, I would see that the people who deposited them into the system are seeking other Legendary Pokémon that I should’ve caught by now. I would give them my left arm in lieu of a Pokémon I don’t have for all I care! And another thing about Legendaries is, unless you caught them in previous games and transferred them to another game already, you have to receive them at promotional events–movie premieres, expos, festivals, even actual Pokémon Center stores (if there’s one near you)–which not everybody can attend. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link with a list of all the Legendary Pokémon to date: http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/Legendary_Pok%C3%A9mon. Find them on the XY & ORAS Pokédex on Serebii.net and, when you want to find out where they’re located, there’s a text that reads “Transfer required” and/or “Transfer or receive from event,” depending on which Pokémon game you’re playing.

I have a lot to learn about Pokémon Training, battles, and trading–nearly 20 years worth of it.

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Autism Speaks: The 21st Century Nazi Party

In early 2005, Bob and Suzanne Wright founded Autism Speaks with the intention of giving autistic people all across the spectrum a better quality of life. I was 11 years old and in the middle of 4th Grade when I first heard about this organization, and I thought that they were going to help me and my kind teach neurotypical people to accept us as we are so that we can live in harmony. Now, ten years later, we are in the middle of Autism Awareness Month, which should be rewritten as Autism ACCEPTANCE Month because guess what. All Autism Speaks wants to do is “cure” autism by wiping us off the face of the earth.

I know it sounds very dramatic–I can be quite the drama queen at times–but allow me to explain what’s going on here.

For the past decade, Autism Speaks has been advertising propaganda in which they claim autism is a “growing health crisis”; autism is a disease that “spreads faster than diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined”; and that children with autism and their families “are alive but they’re not living.”

What’s more, Autism Speaks calls on every country in the world to Light It Up Blue–from the Empire State Building in New York to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Their so-called autism awareness campaign makes it all the more reason for me to call Autism Speaks the Nazi Party of the 21st century. All they’ve been doing is adding more fuel to the fire of persecution that we thought we’d leave behind after graduating public school, where the bullying of autistic students is rampant simply for being lions who don’t concern themselves with the opinion of the sheep–in other words, not acting or behaving the same way as everyone else.

Even worse, Autism Speaks had famous celebrities sponsor their campaigns–Toni Braxton, Tommy Hilfiger… Shit, they even dubbed Yoko Ono, widow of “Imagine” singer John Lennon, their Global Autism Ambassador! Need I mention that, in 2009, they got future Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón to create the ever controversial short I Am Autism? In the short film, a narrator personified as the Grim Reaper gives the audience a negative portrayal of what life is like for children and families with autism, with statements such as “If you’re happily married, I will make sure your marriage fails,” “Your neighbors are happier to pretend I don’t exist–of course, until it’s their child,” and “I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams,” among other awful things.

So, now that I got those facts out, I got a few things I want to say to Suzanne Wright, the female Nazi leader of Autism Speaks:

First, autism is NOT a growing epidemic, obesity is.

Second, autism is not as terrible as diabetes, cancer and AIDS, the real diseases that require the most medical attention.

Third, autistic people like myself and their families are alive and well and living in Paris, London, Tokyo, Miami, the world over.

Lastly, I lived my entire life believing that autism is a curse. Now I see that the only thing that makes autism a curse is people like you who endlessly persecute me and everyone else on the spectrum with your damn propaganda brainwashing neurotypicals into thinking that we should be dead in order to be relieved of our “disease.” Autism is a gift that makes whoever it chooses to use it to their advantage to achieve greatness on their own terms. Here’s a list of famous autistics (confirmed or debated) who are living proof of that statement:

– Satoshi Tajiri, game designer creator of the Pokémon series (which I’m an avid fan)

– Heather Kuzmich, contestant on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 9 (she still models but is now studying video game design)

–  Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University

– Daryl Hannah, actress

– John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In the Eye and engineer

The last person on this list, Robison, resigned from Autism Speaks in November 2013 after you published an op-ed piece in which you laid out your views of autism that were severely different from his. And for that, I applaud him for standing up for his own people.

We don’t need to be cured. All we need is ACCEPTANCE, not awareness along with persecution.

Thank you.

Red Paint

“What’s wrong, girl?” Skye asks me as she’s eating her macaroni and cheese during A Lunch.
“Drake’s cheating on me,” I tell Skye, forcing my voice to come out of my silent sobs.
“That’s impossible. How could Drake be cheatin’ on you?”
          I point to the windswept redheaded boy at the lunch table in front of us, his arm wrapped around the waist of a girl with her straight dirty blonde hair tied up in a ponytail. I caught Drake with that Hollister-clad girl by his locker this morning, embracing her and leaning his head to kiss her neon-pink lips. I gasped in horror as I saw Drake in the arms of someone that wasn’t me.
          “Drake, who is she?” I asked, a tone of horror still lingering in my voice.
          “Oh, Ami,” Drake said as he stepped back from the girl, trying to regain his composure. “This is Sabrina. I caught my eye on her last night on Facebook and thought to myself, ‘My God, she’s so pretty. Hell, even prettier than Ami!’ I was going to dump you after talking to Sabrina in chat room, but the image of her beautiful, porcelain face took over my brain. No wonder she’s the most popular girl in school.”
          I looked at Sabrina, who smirked at me as she leaned her back against Drake’s locker, which was five doors down from hers, twirling her ponytail. “So, she doesn’t give a shit about your infidelity towards me?”
          Drake shook his head.
          “How could you do this to me!?” I screamed at Drake loud enough for the other students in the hallway to turn their heads and watch my dilemma unfold. “I’ve done you no wrong!”
          “True, you didn’t do anything wrong,” Drake said as he ran his hand through his sea of red locks. “But Sabrina has convinced me that I would rather go out with a siren like her instead of a brainy Aspie like you. I’m sorry, but it’s just the natural order of high school dating: beauty over brains.”
          I had the urge to slap him across the face for turning into a discriminatory bastard towards me, but I refrained. I walked away from him and that blonde wench he called a “siren,” and let my eyes build up with tears all morning. All. Freakin’. Morning. (I couldn’t even pay attention to anything my teachers we’re lecturing about, for God’s sake!)

          Skye puts her hand on my shoulder and says to me, “Ami, I understand that this is very hard for you, but there has to be some way you could cope with that boy’s cheating on you.”
          “I don’t know, Skye,” I whimper. I blow my nose into a rough napkin packaged with the plastic spork and knife. I wish I brought my box of Kleenex tissues because the napkins at my school feel like sandpaper, but it would have to do. “Drake and I have been together since we were freshmen, and I never thought that our relationship would end with him having an affair with that—that bitch!” I hope Drake didn’t hear that.
         “That’s how most high school relationships run their course, unfortunately,” Skye says. “Next to going to different colleges after graduation. Besides, Drake probably might leave that Sabrina chick and go to a university millions of miles away from the one she’ll apply to, anyhow.”
          As Skye continues to lecture me about the maladies of high school dating, I look around the cafeteria and see a WET PAINT sign printed in red on the wall near the vending machine at the entrance. My brain stops the waterworks by bringing to mind an awful yet brilliant idea.
          “Skye, I just thought of something.”
          “What?” Skye chirps.

          “You know how in Kill Bill, The Bride tries to get revenge on the title character and his henchmen for leaving her for dead on her wedding day?”

          “You’re not gonna literally kill Drake, are you?”

          “No, I have a revenge plan of my own.” I take a red Sharpie out of my backpack and poke the clean part of my white paper tray with it. “This weekend, I’m gonna make Drake run red… with paintballs.”                                               Skye’s face becomes puzzled. “But, Ami, how are you going to get Drake to play your game of paintball? You’ve never even set foot on the paintball field before. And you’ve never even followed through with the revenge plots you told me about whenever you got pissed off at somebody.”                                           “That’s because I think about the negative consequences that would result from my vindictive actions and refrain from committing them,” I reassure Skye. “Don’t worry, this paintball plan is the one revenge plan that I’ll definitely follow through.”

********

It’s finally Saturday, and Skye and I are waiting for Drake to come over to the paintball field. Yesterday, Skye suggested I wait till I got home to call him—“Think of it as your final phone call after the breakup,” she said—and ask him if he would like to play paintball with me and Skye. He agreed, and said that he would invite Sabrina to tag along for the game. Perfect, more fun for revenge paintball, I thought.
          Skye’s wearing camouflage jeans, a plain white T-shirt that grew dull with age, and Adidas sneakers. Not the smartest choice of an outfit, but it’s too late. My outfit is the ultimate camouflage package some girls would die for—a tank top with angel wings on the back, a bandana, fingerless gloves, and jeans. Not to mention, black Timberland boots. The clock on my smartphone screen reads noon, and Drake and Sabrina the Wench arrive straight on the dot. Drake is sporting the same black Bike Week shirt I got him from Daytona Beach during spring break last year and khaki shorts. Sabrina is a sight for sore eyes—she’s wearing an emerald green crop top that’s revealing her butterfly belly-button piercing, khaki capris, and blue Converse shoes. I place my hand on my forehead in disgust because Sabrina’s outfit is the dumbest outfit I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
          “Glad you could make it, guys,” I say to Drake and Sabrina as I smile reluctantly.
          “The pleasure is all ours,” Sabrina replies. “Of all the fun activities I want to do with Drake, paintball seems to be the best choice. I can’t wait to get shot with every color of the rainbow! Just don’t let the paintball touch my hair, though.”
          Wow, for someone I thought was a conceited girl who deems paintball an uncouth recreational sport, Sabrina must be really stoked about this, I think to myself.
          We all go on to the reception desk and grab our masks and paintball guns carrying our choice of colors. My gun is carrying blood red paintballs while Skye’s gun is loaded with orange and yellow. Drake is carrying sky blue paintballs in his gun, and Sabrina has a supply of emerald green paintballs. It’s actually very surprising how there are different shades of every color to choose from.
          The paintball field is perfectly set in a wooded area, with trees to serve as shields in the event a plastic or wooden wall is out of reach. We stand out in the open with Skye and I facing Drake and Sabrina. While I want to give both of them a mean look–especially Drake–I smile because I prepared a little surprise for them for the end of the battle if not sooner. “Are you ready for the paint-filled bloodshed?” I ask Drake.
          “Bring it on, Ami,” Drake replies with a grin.
          I count to three and we split up. Skye and I run toward the tree with an orange X sprayed on it, declaring it our home base. Drake and Sabrina go the opposite direction. Skye taps my shoulder. “Ami, are you really sure you thought this through?”
          “I’m positive,” I tell her. “As soon as we see those infidels come near here, we take them by surprise.” Five minutes later, I see Drake and Sabrina walk toward our base. Skye and I wait three seconds. Then we jump out and start shouting war cries as we shoot at them. Drake starts shooting at me, but he’s not aiming at my shirt–he’s aiming at my mask. He’s trying to blind me! Thirty seconds go by and Drake’s blue paint blinds me completely. His last shot knocks me down.
          Skye rushes to my aid. She wipes the paint off my mask with a maple leaf. “Are you okay, Ami?”
          “Yeah,” I reply. “I wasn’t exactly expecting that to happen.” I sit up and discover that Drake and Sabrina ran away. That’s the dumbest strategy I’ve ever seen–blinding an opponent and then running away! But I’m not gonna sit here all day and take that sort of bullshit. If they want to fight dirty, I’ll show them fighting dirty.
          I reach into my pocket and show Skye my ultimate weapon: the Big Bang Paint Grenade. “Where the hell did you get that?” she asks me, shocked at how I was able to get my hands on something that expensive.
          “I got it at Sports Authority on my way home last night,” I say. “As the name implies, it explodes just like a regular hand grenade.”
          “What are you going to do with it?”
          “Oh, you’ll see.”
          After trekking through the forest paintball field for what seemed like half an hour, Skye and I spot what looks to be some kind of wooden pueblo shed. Through the window, I see Drake making out with Sabrina. “I knew it,” I growl. “Drake shot me blind just so he could run away with that wench and make out with her!”
          “Good Lord!” Skye exclaims. “So, Drake really did want to get rid of you. He wasn’t cheating on you after all.”
          “It doesn’t matter, Skye. Drake is gonna pay for what he did to me.”
I aim my paint grenade at the shed window. Then I throw it through the window and wait five seconds for the biggest explosion in the history of paintball. Red paint splatters all over the place, some it surging out the door and the windows. “MY HAIR!” Sabrina screams with terror.
          “Who did this!? Drake shouts. I walk over to the shed and look at the shirtless Drake and the bikini-clad Sabrina, their exposed bodies covered in blood red–just as I expected. Drake’s eyes pop open. “Ami!? But why?”
          “To teach you a lesson,” I reply with my arms crossed. “When you leave a woman scorned, she’ll do everything she possibly can to make your life a living hell. Now I leave you two to clean up this mess.” I turn to Skye. “Skye, we’re outta here.”
          “WHAT THE HELL, AMI!? WHAT THE HELL!?!?” Drake screams. I ignore him, my mind giving him the middle finger.
          Mission accomplished.