Dammit! It WAS Star Wars!
           For years, I have been denying that Star Wars had any significant impact on my life.  I was seven when it came out,  saw and enjoyed it, but it didn’t capture my imagination the way that Frances Hodgson Burnett, or Harriet the Spy, or even Battle of the Planets did.  Yet in thinking about how I got from Sarah Crew and Harriet and Princess to USER’s Guilliame de la Couer, I realize that I’m completely wrong about Star Wars. Star Wars changed everything.
1977:  I’m playing outside with two friends, Zachary and Jacob. We’re at Zach’s house,  so Zach is Luke - that’s understood. I have ideas about the rest of it. 

“But I don’t WANT to be Princess Leah!”   Jacob wails. 

I brandish a small, plastic sheriff’s pistol and gleefully mimic a Harrison Ford-like sneer.  “Well, I sure as hell ain’t gonna do it,  sweetheart.” 

Jacob turns to Zach, desperate to impute my femininity.  “But SHE’S the GIRL!” 

Zach stands behind us, arms folded, nodding thoughtfully. “She’s kinda more Han though,” he admits, and from that moment on I know. I know that there’s no point in huffing around with a bad attitude and buns on either side of your head when you can drink heartily, pilot badass spaceships,  and get away with calling starry-eyed do-gooders “kid.”  I know that for every beauty locked up in a cell,  there’s a sweaty,  dashing swashbuckler running around cracking jokes between kills.  And I know that although boys will frequently mistake me for a princess, in my heart of hearts, I will always be pure rouge. 

          For as long as I can remember, I’ve had no sincere interest in being myself. “Self” always seemed like a pretty dodgy concept anyway - was that who I was at Mom’s,  at Dad’s,  at school,  with friends…?  What made sense to me - what delighted me - was make believe. Later called “theater,” and “drama club.” Later still called “gaming.”  As a self-professed realist and aspiring Buddhist, I try to stay rooted in the here and now. But I have to admit that I’ve always understood Truth best as conveyed by fiction. 

           I share this now because I have long had the impression that this is a theme relevant to much of my generation.  The issue asserts itself over and over again in anxious Gen X relationships,  in exploratory but also indolent abandonment of everything from organized religion to work ethic, and even in pop culture (Meredith Brookes’ “B*tch,” Fight Club, Being John Malkovich,  “ “Nowhere Man,”).  We don’t know who we are.  We’re ambiguous.

          USER is about that ambiguity.  It’s the story of a young woman who has to abandon her understanding of who she is in order  to move forward.  It is a story, I like to say,  about the power of stories. 

          There’s a school of psychology that suggest that when analyzing your own dreams, you should assume that every character is actually you.  Fiction is our dreams.  It’s a map of the human psyche;  an opportunity to encounter our inner princess,  our inner demon,  our inner rouge. 
          You are the hero of your own narrative. And also the villain,  and the one in need of saving. You are the USER. 

May the force be with you. 

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