I am SO glad mommy chose this nickname for you! When your mommy was a little girl, I used to call her Monkey. I still call her monkey, actually. But sometimes she looks at me and goes, “Really.” It makes me laugh, so I keep doing it. You’re mommy is silly but I know she’s gonna be a super great mommy. She had a pretty good example. 😉 Anyway, I am writing this letter on the day you’re born so when you’re older you’ll know what things are like now, and how they’ve changed! BUT. Before I can do that, I want to tell you how much things have changed over the last two generations of our family. I’ll start with when I was little, talk about what your mommy was like growing up, and then I’ll tell you what it’s like while YOU’RE a baby!
When I was a little girl, I remember we used to have analog phones. That meant, we had to have them wired into the wall so we couldn’t take them with us. And the only thing they did was call people. We pushed buttons (or put our finger in a hole and dragged the hole around in a circle and then let it go! HA!) and the phone rang at someone else’s house. Then we could hear their voice and they could hear ours. That was it. If they weren’t home, we just tried again another time. Then we got tape recorders for when people were out, and we could leave a message. We used to have to rewind the tape, though. Otherwise, we didn’t have room for the messages! I remember my first gaming console was an Atari 2600. It had one joystick and one button. I had a computer too. But the computer required commands, so we had to know what we were doing to start programs (and those usually came on “floppy disks”. I got to play the Nintendo, I had a tape deck/recorder and a VCR, I used to change the channels on the TV (there were only 3 or 4) with a knob that was ON the TV, and I had a pager. I kid you not… a pager.
So I grew up, had a monkey, and my little monkey grew up. She got things like Web 2.0, social media (that’s stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine… you can look those up). She loved to play games, too. We used to watch Twitch together. That’s where people play video games in front of their friends and people who want to watch them. They use a camera, a green screen, and some fancy software to project themselves onto their own channel. Then other people can come type into a chat room and the streamer can talk back at them. In fact, Twitch is probably one of the main reasons we ever got Major League Gaming. That started around the time I was in graduate school. We played games called MOBAs. People got really good at the games and started competing for lots of money against teams in other countries. The events got so big they made it into a major sporting event. It seemed pretty strange to be saying that games were a kind of sport, but the mental and physical exertion was pretty taxing and they figured that gaming and sports were two sides of the same coin.
Anyway, your mommy loved to play games called MMORPGs. Her very favorite was World of Warcraft. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it IS the predecessor of World of Hexcraft. In fact, she loved playing WoW so much that she decided to go into game acting as a career. She was SO excited when she got the job as the main hexenbeast antagonist! She works hard, but she loves interacting with the players and she gets paid really well to do it. Guess all that improv as a kiddo paid off for her. It’s funny when I go into the game and she sees me cause she comes up to me and hugs me, then says something evil to me and throws me out. It’s pretty cool to see her being a really great NPC. In fact, that’s how she met your daddy!
Brielle and Elrond met while working on WoH. Brie has been doing work as an actress on several popular video games. Your daddy, who was a developer for several of the games mommy worked on had a little bit of a crush on her, and he invited Brielle to play the main NPC. Video games, specifically augmented reality video games, thrive on immersive environments. During their time both creating and beta testing Hexcraft, Brielle and El had time to get to know each other. Of course, the first thing that Brielle noticed about El was his New Zealand accent (mommy used to do lots of silly accents when she was little… especially Monster High voices back when MH was a web series). Anyway, your daddy and your mommy used to Usher all the time, and sometimes mommy would go on dates with daddy in a closed beta game. Even though she was still in Saint Louis working at Blizzard, and El was in Portland volunteering at a chromo-change clinic, they still spent a lot of time Ushering back and forth and going on dates.
I remember when El first told Brie he was born XY. He was afraid mommy was gonna be upset, but we had a lot of friends who were transgendered when she was little, so she grew up around it and it totally didn’t faze her. In fact, your Great Guncle Micah and I used to go to support rallies when they were first considering legalizing chromo-changes. Nearly all of my friends were gay or trans, so when they discovered the chromo-change technique, we were all very excited. I’m sure by the time you read this, the chromo-change is old hat. I bet they’re even choosing the gender of their babies by now. But people are still getting used to it right now. It has changed the lives of so many people. Before the chromo-change, XY to XX couldn’t have babies after their change cause they were taking hormones to slowly make a shift, but their DNA wasn’t being changed to make the process complete. So they still had to live with some distinctly XY features depending on how early/late in life they made the change. Your daddy was born Arwen. New Zealand always had a pretty advanced set of medical and social norms, so they were among the first to begin using the chromo-change technique. Your daddy was very excited to go XX to XY. He went through the chromo-change when he was 10, the youngest person to be changed at that point. He was very lovely (I’m sure you’ve seen pictures), but puberty was much easier for him already having changed to XY. And he let your Grandma and Grandpa choose his name. Of course, since he was named after the elven princess from Lord of the Rings, they chose Arwen’s daddy, Elrond, to name him after.
Anyway, When your mommy was young, we used to have a program named Skype. That’s what I would use to being in voice chat groups with my friends when we played games. Well.. I used Skype and Team Speak, but TS was too structured, so we usually just used Skype. Skype also let us use cameras to talk to each other. We used to sit around smiling at each other like idiots. I remember one of my boyfriends, Ryan, and I would have our video chats open while we played games so that every time we died in game, we could just watch the other person play. Then, when people got sick of just looking at each other, they made these cool bracelets that you could buy that when you tapped one, the person with the other one could feel it. It was cool to feel two taps for I love you, or whatever your secret code was. Then we got these machines that connected to computers. Each person could have one, and they could kiss it, and the machine on the other end would move the same way! So two people could kiss these machines, but it felt like you were kissing the other person! It wasn’t quite the same, but hey! With all the long-distance relationships going on, it was at least better than just staring at each other. 😀
Anyway, after a lot of these types of machines, and people making augmented reality applications, 4D movies, they finally realized that they could make what everyone has come to call Holodecks (they named it after this OOOOOLD show, Star Trek). Basically, we have these rooms that we can walk into and we tell the rooms where we want to go. The rooms are pretty big, so you can travel in the space, but you can only go so far (it’s not the same as games, where you don’t move physically, so you can go where ever you want in the game world). So you just tell Usher exactly where you want to go, and you can go. But the cool thing is it’s just like you’re actually there. The temperature in the room, the sounds, the interactions… the room transforms into the space and you can see everyone else in that spot. So even though you can’t walk past a certain point, you can see people who are further away from that spot (and you can readjust your spot if you need to). They have all kinds of suits and machines that you can get as mods for Usher so you can hug people, or do all kinds of other things (sadly, some people are still cyber bullying, but it seems like we’ll never quite get rid of that disinhibition).
I remember when Papa and I got married (I was just about your mom’s age), we all went to Girdwood (a town about a 45 minute drive from Anchorage, where your mommy and I grew up). We all had to drive, and a few people even had to drive all the way out two or three times cause they were bring stuff to us. Who would have ever thought that by the time your mommy and daddy were getting married, we would be able to use Usher to just attend the wedding in virtual-person? I remember the last time I had Ushered to France before that was for your Great Uncle Frankie’s performance of Tartuffe. But mommy was always excited about Paris, so that’s where we went. It was a private event, though, so we were able to do it right in front of the Eiffel Tower. In private event rooms, Usher uses the place but doesn’t show you the people. Since we were all Ushering in, we didn’t need to see anyone that was actually there. I just love virtual layering. I am so glad I was able to go to your mommy and daddy’s wedding, get to see all of our friends from over the years (mommy’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Krumland was even there!) and see how they’re all doing.
Mommy’s best friend, Paige, works for a toy manufacturer as a designer. When she and mommy were little they used to watch a lot of My Little Pony (generation 4… right now we’re on gen 7), so she designed a virtual toy of their original characters from when they were little. Mommy projected it onto her wall at home in her office so she can always smile when she sees it. I’m SO glad for virtual wallpaper. I was TERRIBLE at painting (even though your papa keeps trying to get me to paint walls… he just won’t let go of the old ways of doing some things). But Paige did a really great job on mommy’s virtual toy. I used to have a stuffed animal collection of over 200 stuffed animals. Some of them got passed on to your mommy (but she didn’t want them so they ended up in my room when I was her age). When Paige started her design career, she took my animals and made them virtual so I could always have them, but they didn’t take up space. It’s like they’re there, but I only have to pick up the toy chip when we clean or move. SO much easier, and I still get to look at my happy memories. It’s also how your mommy still has her collection of all of the original Monster High and Ever After High dolls. She did save a few just for you, though. In fact, you’re gumming Ghoulia’s head as I sit next to you and write this. I’m so glad you turned out to have red hair like me. I hope you give my monkey just as much grief as she gave me. I’m so proud of her, though. And I can’t wait to see how much smarter you are (us Metcalf girls keep getting smarter and smarter!)
Welp! I should be wrapping this up. I’m sure you have better things to do than sit around reading a novel that your Nana wrote just cause she got emotional the day you were born (can you blame me? I’ve been waiting forever to me a Nana!). And you probably know all of the stuff I wrote already. So I’ll just end this by saying that no matter how many things change in your lifetime like they did in mine, no matter how many technologies come and go, no matter how many ways people find to solve problems (or create them), no matter what happens in your life… I will always be proud of you, I will always love you, and you will always be my little Panda Po. Nana loves you, baby!