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Once again I find my plane heading towards Australia for this issue's interview. At Sydney's airport, I ordered a taxi. Five minutes later and I'm in a kangaroo's pouch, punching in an address (love the in-built GPS) that many, many users on Smogon would kill to learn. After a long and bumpy ride, I hear the sound of Crystal Castles. It seems I've arrived at the home of Smogon's very own jumpluff.
After I pay the kangaroo in Australian dollars (with a nice tip included because I don't want to see its boxing skills), I walk up the driveway and ring the doorbell of the blue brick house, loudly and repeatedly. Only after I text the interviewee to check the doorway do I hear the "music" abruptly being turned off, and moments later I am invited in by a giggly, blurry-looking lass. We head to her lavender room, which I'm having trouble maneuvering through because of the gazillions of plushies spread all over it. After squeezing myself in, I start the much needed recorder (no more need for Jimbo to take notes, no more need for me to lug Jimbo around the world! It's a win/win situation!)
Hi, jumpluff, thanks for having the time to be interviewed today! Could you start us off with the basics? Age, location, education, occupation, na-
I cough to cover it up. Wow, only the first question and I already was this close to saying the n-word!
Actually, just stick to those four.
I'm a sixteen-year-old who lives in the countryside of New South Wales, Australia. I'm currently doing computer science at university, which answers both education and occupation.
Sixteen years and already enrolled in a university course? Are Australians ahead of the rest of the world here or is that just you?
She blushes and attempts to cover up several Nobel prizes in the corner with a Shaymin plushie.
I think you are asking that just to embarrass me. Anyway, I dropped out of high school. I like saying that since it makes people feel awkward and then I tell them that I enrolled in early-entry English classes THEN dropped out, stayed in uni, and transferred courses to something I actually feel passionate about.
Not to look like a sexist but you don't see many girls being passionate about something like computer science (even though it's cool in a way!). I also know you're good at HTML, so I can't help but wonder how you ended up getting into that kind of thing?
It's okay, I wouldn't expect a caveman to be a forward thinker. Thanks anyway for calling it cool! Anyway, I guess it is fairly unusual but I feel like it is more of a societal thing. I don't want to write a Cong post about how women are groomed to be Barbie dolls instead of functional members of society, especially since you see an increasing amount of girls doing things traditionally considered masculine, so I'll just talk about myself instead.
I have always shied away from traditionally feminine hobbies. I find shopping really exasperating (though I spend hours a day looking at cute things like plushies on the internet, which is far less obnoxious than shopping offline, so there you go, I'm not a tomboy). As someone who has used the internet a lot in the last few years, I just sort of picked up HTML as I went along. I realised I enjoyed creating things, even if it wasn't in an orthodox way (like other people have clay, I have coding). I also like it because it lets me help people out and I find myself drawn to things that let me constructively contribute to my chosen communities. I'm no Cathy, but I'm learning, and I like to learn. I've read someone saying that nothing is impossible for programmers, and even though I guess that isn't strictly true, having the knowledge to accomplish things you want is always a plus.
I also feel weird putting this into words. I mean, I talk a lot and I ramble (case in point), but you'd usually hear 'HTML IS FUN' from me instead of 'I like creating things'. I guess it is because I'm using proper grammar.
I hold up my hand to show I need a slight break—gotta put in a new casette in the recorder. Maybe Jimbo taking notes would have been easier after all...
I agree, "offline" shopping is for the braindead. Now, even though you might not be the basic shopaholic girl, you are still more feminine than 99% of the Smogon crowd, and it shouldn't be much different outside of the borders of Smogon. How is that working out for you? Ever feel like you'd rather be of the other gender?
Nope, I'm really happy being a girl, since it means I can get away with being myself. If I was a boy I wouldn't mind though since gender is kind of irrelevant to me. It's just that it's relevant to how people perceive you. But for example, if I was a boy, my giant collection of ADORABLE Shaymin plushies wouldn't be viewed as eccentric, childish, and idiosyncratic. It would be viewed as strange and creepy, and I couldn't brag about it on the internet. And then I would be really sad. But on the plus side I wouldn't get creepy PMs asking me out from people I barely even recognize and the Shoddy chat wouldn't explode every time someone refers to me as a girl, so I think it would work out decently.
When she said the word "ADORABLE" I could swear I saw her pupils turn into heart-shaped Shaymin for a moment.
Ah, yes, the plushie collection. The rumors going around about it probably aren't doing it justice... Is it true you moved because the old one was too small for all of them?
Absolutely. I felt like my plushies didn't have adequate room to breathe, so I moved into a nice new house and strung hammocks from the walls. Like, you know those nets little kids have in their rooms, holding all their soft toys? You probably don't, but that's what I have. I stuck some of my plushies up there, including my super big Airgurumi Drifloon, to capitalize on my available vertical space. You know that if you get me started, I'll talk for hours about it, take photos, and insist on them being included, right?
Yes, I'm aware of that. However, if you find yourself unable to keep it to a brief summary then I'll probably be forced to just leave the transcription of this conversation on some poor soul's desk and we'll see what happens to it... I can't recall who would be the victim in that situation, but as long as it's not me! So, yeah, we would love to hear about your collection in general, or perhaps a few crown pieces.
I pre-emptively put a new tape in.
My reaction to this was "Wow, I'm allowed to talk about my plushies!", then I realized it had to be brief, and I deflated as rapidly as Jimbo would if you poked a needle into him.
She takes a deep breath and begins rambling while I try as well as I can to listen and understand.
Anyway! I think my favourite of all plushies is...
She reaches out for one of the many Shaymin plushies in the room and pretty much shoves it in my face.
...my talking Shaymin! It has the most adorable, beseeching face, and when you press its soft tummy, it says one of six prerecorded phrases. They're really cute, seriously. I can't work out what one is because it's a Japanese plushie and Shaymin speaks too fast, but the other five are a variety of cutely-said Shaymin cries. It was the plushie that started my thriving Shaymin collection and has some prime real estate next to me at night.
I also like my aforementioned Airgurumi Drifloon. I searched for an affordable Airgurumi Drifloon for ages, and when I received its deflated cloth body in the mail, you couldn't find a happier girl in the world. Basically, it's a giant inflatable Drifloon made out of regular plushie material I've been thinking about stuffing it so I can hug it, but I don't really want to go to the trouble.
I'm trying not to rant here, but another prize part of my collection is my little PokéDoll collection. It's a range of soft minky toys and they are SO huggable! I even have a Wailord PokéDoll. You have one guess as to its name. (For those unaware, I called it Jimbo.)
I think Jimbo's notebook would be full around here, and he'd have to start writing on his enormous body. Which, thank God, would have enough space for about ten more jumpluff interviews.
I see. So do I hear you saying that your favourite Pokémon of all time is Shaymin? Or are there other Pokémon out there that manage to tie or even pass it in score?
Oh, I like lots of Pokémon, but Shaymin is tied with a few for favourite. One of the criteria of being a favourite Pokémon is cuteness; another is fluffiness. Jumpluff matches that perfectly. I know Ampharos don't have wool, but I really like Ampharos as well. It looks so gentle and loving. I feel like most Pokémon have redeemable aspects (like people), but I'm actually highly selective about the best among them. I only have six favourites (or so). See how restrained I am?
I smirk as she falls for my figurative trap card and gives me the perfect bridge to one of my favourite questions.
Ampharos... I think we all know where mentioning that Pokémon brings us. We asked him this question in reverse and therefore we're obligated to ask it here: how would you describe your relationship with user Earthworm?
Ummm... I've been answering these questions in a totally opposite fashion to him (as in I've been just answering them straight away without devoting ten minutes of thought to each word), but I had to stop and consider this answer. He's my best friend. I guess we have a closeness that a lot of friends don't really let themselves enjoy, but we're best friends. Everyone thinks we're dating or something, but I can assure you, we're not. No, really. We're not dating.
I'm happy that I know him though. He understands and puts up with a lot of my eccentricities and annoying quirks. He's also a good person, someone I enjoy talking to a lot. He also does my Neopets dailies on occasion, so he's a useful accomplice as well. I don't really mind that people tease me about him, because even if it's untrue, I'd rather be his best friend and have people play around with me about it than not be his best friend.
We're interrupted by her cell phone indicating she has a text message. I enjoy the ringtone. "Always, I want to be with you..." jumpluff notes she will answer it later, though, so we can go on.
An accomplice, eh? What could you possibly need an accomplice for... besides mafia? Even though you don't appear on the sign-up list for every single game like some hardcore players, you seem to join quite a few and devote a lot of time to these games. What do you like about mafia?
Well, I'm a really competitive person. But lately I've gone all hippy and started to think about why I play. I know I can't win every game and I feel worse if I don't, so why beat myself up like that when I can just enjoy it? Instead I'm in it to have fun, while trying my best to win or at least play decently. I like the intrigue element of it. I like anticipating each update, the tingles that come down my spine when I get my result PMs on crucial nights, or the thrill of opening my role PM and finding out my role is exciting. I like the feeling of outwitting people or calling their bluffs; it's a good brain exercise and you can actually learn a lot about people from observing how they play in mafia.
I enjoy being in teams since mafia is also a social game and getting to know people in the mafia community better is great. In a positive mafia channel (and my teams always rule!), you don't just talk about the game, you chat to each other, mess around, discuss other things, even though choosing the night kill is #1 priority. Also a lot of people are getting into mafia lately, such as in the beginner games, and it's great to watch people go from awful players to competent enemies and skilful allies.
Are there any particular mafia moments that you're very proud of, or that otherwise will always be in your memory as special, tense, and/or awesome?
I want a milkshake. Um, I mean...
Uhh, I don't really want to brag about anything. I think some of the best moments I've had in mafia are in Viva la Mafia (which was a super fun game and highly unique before people decided they liked the format and made more) and PokéMafia. In Viva I took a risk and it paid off (ha ha) by giving you my alias. I was so relieved when I recruited, and the team was made up of people I really liked. We would have really awesome nights where everything went perfectly, and I would glow. And then we'd have awful nights that I don't even want to think about but would certainly qualify as tense and notable moments.
Finding out my team in PokéMafia was fantastic; it's very stressful to unite with your team in a split mafia, but Raikage included a role that confirmed we were united, which put some fears to rest. I was really hoping that the team was correct because every single person on it is a friend. When Gmax called the Gambler bluff, I felt jubilant. It was a very tense cycle that seemed to hang on that, and I was mentally willing him. But luckily the Devious pulled through and we won! Yay!
Other things that will stay in my memory are the nicknames MI6 invented for each alias in Viva, Kumar's Seedot claim in PokéMafia, you tricking me into voting against the village in YCI (man, I still feel silly about that...), and seeing some particularly ugly spreadsheets made by some people I don't want to call out for failing to be Google Docs artists.
I grin with the memory of the YCI game, and to avoid having to share that memory again jumpluff escapes the trauma to get a milkshake. When she returns, the next question is ready.
Various nicknames...yeah, you'd know a thing or two about that. Seriously, how many have you had by now? Are they all just spurs at the moment, with jumpluff being the only one that really sticks?
I can easily name over forty, not even kidding, which is really sad, come to think of it. I just like changing names a lot (obviously). If I stay on one name too long, I feel twitchy and change. I'm super obsessive compulsive. But lately I've been trying to stick to my main nick so people stop chastising me, and also because it's inconvenient for other people, which makes me feel guilty. I like to stick to one main name while having a million auxiliary nicknames.
Does the same go for avatars, seeing as those seem to change pretty much every day as well?
Yeah. One of the most important things to me is customizability. I want to change, modify, and optimise things to enhance my life. So coming from that is a constant need to switch things up. A more concise way of putting this is that I have a short attention span. I notice I'm out of questions, but I just had to grab my chance for this.
I see, that makes sense. What's your role and alias in big_bigest_mafia?
A recruiter, everyone claim to me.
I curse. Another plan foiled.
Oh well. Thanks for all the answers, I'm sure we all know what article the 13 year old boys on Smogon are going to check out first!
I agree, if I was a thirteen-year-old boy I'd be heading straight for the cutemons analysis to find out just what the top adorable Pokémon are, and some hopes for the future that I am sure Game Freak will be receptive to. Thank you for interviewing me, it was an honor to be included alongside users such as Earthworm.
Just kidding, it did mean a lot, even if I was kinda (and by kinda I mean VERY) nervous about it.
After more blushes and giggles, it's time for good-byes. After I leave the house I call for another taxi, wondering if I can keep my bag full of tapes in one piece in the kangaroo's pouch.
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