Sleeping Pills and Cylons
There was a time when I was a pill-popping, unmedicated bipolar mess. I worked at a convenience station, was woefully unhappy, and spent my days locked in a relationship that was a dead-man walking. And when I try and remember a bright spot during those dismal days, I remember one thing.
It’s pathetic to admit that my existence was kept afloat by a bunch of fictional characters gallivanting about a spaceship. But at the same time, we all need our escapes. What are the arts for, if not to use as a means to get away from the drudgery of our lives?
Books, movies, albums, television shows.
So when I say that I love Battlestar Galactica, I mean that I love it. I’ll never cop to it being some astounding piece of fiction. And there are enough threads and articles out there arguing over every minute detail; there are seas of forums swimming with the blood of fallen nerds. So I don’t’ need to write another article for you to read where I tell you how much the finale was amazing or sucked.
We’ve both been there.
Something more boring and personal.
I began watching Battlestar Galactica in 2006. And watching it. And watching it. I’d run through the series with one person. And then get another person addicted, so I could watch it with them. I’d run the show while I was cleaning my room. Or playing World of Warcraft.
I was working at a convenience store in 2006 when I fell in love with Battlestar Galactica. And being the new guy at work, I had to work Friday nights. I was twenty-three at the time, pulling shit pay. Selling lottery tickets and cigarettes to wash-outs and kids I went to high school with.
Being twenty-three and making shit money peddling habits sucked. Doing it on a Friday night while my friends and girlfriend were off elsewhere was even better. I take ownership for not being more proactive in finding a better job, of not improving my lot at the moment.
But I was down in a pretty shitty hole. Rolling out of bed after sleeping through class in time to work three until eleven was a bit of an accomplishment for me those days. And there’s only one thing I remember helping me out on those shitty Friday nights.
Billy Adama and his legion of lasers, robots, and pontificating.
I’d set up shop with my Macbook. Slap that bitch up on two milk crates, and I’d sit on another two facing them. Head resting on fist, fist driving elbow into my thigh. In my Macbook pro would be a random disc of Battlestar whirling.
As I had to stare at club skanks and orange dudes with blow-outs, Starbuck would be getting her ovaries harvested in some creepy Cylon den. As I had to sell some fat old fuck with thick-rimmed glasses five-hundred dollars worth of scratch tickets, Adama would be telling everyone they had jumped far beyond the red line.
The customers would come and go, and every time after they left I’d sit back down. And for a few moments, I was free. I didn’t have to focus on the shitty store, my shitty job, my fifteen-year in progress degree, anything.
It sounds like some rotten teenage drama when I type this. Maybe next I’ll date the football captain after tutoring him, right? But I’m just kicking it real here. If I can tell you how I like fingers in funny places, I can tell you my embarrassing crush on a bunch of pointless characters.
Battlestar Galactica was the perfect storm for me. It had the Star Wars geek’s wet-dream: Modern X-Wing battles in a world that didn’t involve Hayden Christensen or Jar Jar Binks. Sure, they were called Vipers, but let’s be honest with one another. The first time you see Chief on the hangar deck in the mini-series you think two things:
1) Holy shit this is awesome
2) This is a Star Wars set, and those are X-Wings.
But the show was also interested in exploring the same sort of shit that I was pursuing at that very time in college. Themes of existence, identity, fate, morality, religion, politics. They were all thrown in there. While reading Charles Chesnutt arguing over what defines a man as black in African American Literature, BSG gave me people arguing over the same kind of race topics. Morality? The show does its fair share of exploring Kantian and Utilitarian ethics. Religion? Polytheism, monotheism, agnosticism, all step up.
It wasn’t scared to stare humanity in the eyes. And maybe throughout the show it got a little confused, a little lost. There were so many topics being examined, so many characters to juggle, that I’ll admit the plot got thin, and storylines got sloppy. You can mount a thousand criticisms on the show, and I’ll probably grant you the majority of them.
I just don’t care.
Last April my addiction to Ambien and efforts to self-destruct found myself in a psychiatric hospital. It was cool. They had Smores Poptarts and free blue socks. And during the whole stay there was one point of concern.
Fucking BSG started that Friday! There I sat in a psych hospital, across the room from women who are getting electroshock treatment (yes, it still exists very much), and all I could keep thinking is: Jesus Christ, don’t let me miss the season premiere.
I got out that Friday and you can bet your fucking ass I was sitting there for the premiere. There were probably more important things I could have been doing like calling my friends and explaining why I was gone for three days or why I have a new awesome plastic bracelet but I didn’t have time for that shit!
If only for an hour that shitty week glimmered a bit. Of course the glimmer was probably from some trifling ass Cylon raiders trying to start some shit, but still. Take it where you can get it.
So Battlestar and I have gone through some shit together.
And now? Now it’s done.
It’s not gone from my life, of course. It’ll still be there spinning in my disc drive. And it’ll certainly be there spinning in my head. But as a constant, it’s over. For years now I’ve been able to look forward to new episodes. Another installment with a bunch of characters I’ve come to know and invest in emotionally.
It’s been on my mind since the finale. I’ve been gripped with a certain profundity, and a particular sense of confusion.
It was the same feeling I had when I beat Final Fantasy VII. I have spent so much time loving a particular set of characters. And now that it’s finished, I’ve been experiencing a certain sense of emotional withdrawal.
It’s bittersweet. There will be new experiences for me to fall in love with. New television shows, new books, new albums. New ways for me to escape the daily trials and tribulations if only for a while.
And while they’ll be great in their own way, they can never replicate the experience of watching Battlestar Galactica. Much like Battlestar Galactica couldn’t replace Final Fantasy VII in my heart. Rather it sits alongside it, complimenting it. And maybe that’s what makes it special for those of us who loved it.
So say we all.