File 0016: Icarus the Ex-SOLDIER


In this episode HEX welcomes a new guest: Icarus, the mysterious webmaster of or more famously known on the internet as Zack, the whistleblower and survivor of the Final Fantasy VII house. It's been nearly 20 years since his encounter with Jennifer Cornet and Icarus has had some ups and downs, but is still going strong and living his best life, with his husband, three cats and making his webcomic

To learn about the Final Fantasy 7 house, listen to File 0012: Baba Yaga's Dutchman House Pt 2

Powered by RedCircle


ICARUS: Um, question for the sake of this, what would you prefer to call me?

CAYLA: What would you prefer us to call you?

⦁ ICARUS: I don't care *laughs*

CAYLA: We called you Icarus in the article, so we can call you that, we can call you Syd, we can call you whatever

ICARUS: Whatever, Icarus is fine. I'm just like, as long as somebody can make me realize it's me

CAYLA: It's like Halli's double life where she actually is *censored* but we all just know her as Halli

HALLI: Shush!

ICARUS: Oh my god, I put my husband's name on our Christmas card and my family all know him as 'Alf' and they got so confused because it was his birthday and they were like "Did he change his name?" and I am like "No, we're sending it to his family too, it's a Christmas card"

CAYLA: How different is his real name?

ICARUS: It's like Ron, it's not like it's a drastic like gendering different name, it's just... different and they couldn't handle it

HALLI: I know that pain

ICARUS: You're just like "Why??"

CAYLA: Welcome to the Human Exception and today we have a very special guest, all the way from the internet, Icarus!

ICARUS: I am on the internet, it's true, we're all on the internet right now. We'll never ever log out

HALLI: Don't say that, that's depressing *laughs*

CAYLA: *laughing* that's too real

ICARUS: But it's true!

HALLI: I don't like it though!

ICARUS: I want a Bluetooth headstone

CAYLA: A Bluetooth headstone?

ICARUS: You get within proximity and it starts playing music *laughing*

CAYLA: Or just starts playing a voice loop of you

ICARUS: I'm sure that exists already, I'm sure

CAYLA: Stuff like the Google Home picked up and recorded over the last 30 years of your life

ICARUS: Omg, that's going to be so creepy, I'm sure that's coming. It's going to be like Elon Musk's tomb

NATHAN: Okay, but now I want this

HALLI: Nathan!


CAYLA: Ok, but like Google Home has this thing that whenever you say something that it thinks you're talking to it, it records a bit of a clip so that it can deal with it so if you go onto your Google profile you can find these little clips

HALLI: Stop it

CAYLA: It's usually something super stupid. I found one of me like yelling at the cats like "WTF are you doing?"

ICARUS: And Google's like "What, me?"


NATHAN: No, not me

NATHAN: I think the perfect thing would be if someone was walking by my tombstone just having me blurt out "Okay, it's time to roll your first death saving throw!" *laughs*

HALLI: Oh my god Nathan! *laughs*

HALLI: And then I remember that Nathan has a very deep dark well of black humor that he crawls out of every now and then

ICARUS: He's a DM he kind of has to

HALLI: Well, yes, it's true

CAYLA: It's the fuel that drives us, man

ICARUS: Helps you write good villains

CAYLA: Do you play tabletop at all?

ICARUS: Do I? I mean kind of? I used to have a group that met in person, but now it's just online, not just because of the pandemic but just because it's easier for me to type off a stance, like a prose, than it is for me to verbalize what a character is doing

NATHAN: That's fair

CAYLA: That's good, yeah text RPGs are coming back a lot right now, I'm seeing a lot of people getting into that

ICARUS: I mean, we're all locked inside

CAYLA: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We're used to playing with people online anyways, all our podcasts, the whole thing we started with was tabletop, but then like our IRL group was kind of like "How do we play?" "There's this thing you can do"

ICARUS: "Let me show you these things called chat rooms, they just came out"

CAYLA: yeah "It's wild!"

CAYLA: But yeah, then like Roll20 and Discord all suffered madly under the sudden use of it when the pandemic went hard, that was fun

ICARUS: Oh no! They all were just server crunched?

CAYLA: Oh totally, they just couldn't deal with it because suddenly everyone was online

HALLI: Yeah it was, I stream on Twitch with my group and then all of the sudden Twitch would be gone, and I was like "well, k" *laughs* "this is where we're at right now, that's fine"

CAYLA: And that's what originally killed Craig as well

ICARUS: And nobody wants to go back to Skype, we're all just like *shudders*

CAYLA: Alright, in case you guys don't remember after this monologue of tabletop talk, Icarus is the webmaster from demon-sushi and the writer of the original Final Fantasy 7 story. I reached out to him a little while ago just to kind of get some answers and clarify some things and he offered to come on the show and we happily accepted

ICARUS: And here I am!

CAYLA: Here you are!

ICARUS: Possibly regretting it three years from now, who knows!

CAYLA: *Laughs* it'll be fine, we'll put it on your Bluetooth tombstone

ICARUS: What do I want to place on my tombstone? "Possibly regretting it in three years"

CAYLA: That would be amazing

ICARUS: So I don't know if you guys had any questions that wanted me to answer for listeners or if we were just going to continue to shoot the shit? Or if I can just talk about the Final Fantasy 7 remake for like an hour

CAYLA: *laughs* we'll go casual, we'll throw something in every once in a while

CAYLA: So, pandemic. How is your pandemic life right now?

ICARUS: It is, I mean, I think of it as I have a good six-seven months on everyone in terms of coping with it because right before the pandemic was my cancer treatment so I was already in lockdown and immunocompromised, can't be near any people because anything could kill me. And then it was just like "alright, you're done!" and I am like "Yes!" and then the pandemic happened

ICARUS: No, I went to one furry convention and THEN the pandemic happened

CAYLA: You had some training then, you were ready

ICARUS: Yeah, I was just like "oh god, more of this" and then even more "more of this"

CAYLA: And it keeps going

ICARUS: Please, wear your masks and wash your hands, please

CAYLA: You would think it wouldn't be that hard, but... yet here we are

ICARUS: Yeah, here we are!

CAYLA: Are you working right now? Like are working from home or?

ICARUS: I mean I work from home the last few years I've been doing, in addition to running a Patreon for my comic, which helps, I just do freelance commissions usually for furries because they pay very nicely and they're very polite and they know what they want

CAYLA: That is one thing that I have repeatedly heard, is that like if you want to get consistent commissions and always get paid on time and like no trouble, furries are the best place to go

ICARUS: Yeah and I mean, they also can kind of sense if someone is coming in and be like "I just want to make money off you guys" they'll be like "get out of here" but if you're actually a nice human being they're like "Well hello there, so what was your first influence in drawing animal ass?"

HALLI: That's awesome *laughs*

CAYLA: That's amazing! It's amazing what a little politeness can do

ICARUS: Yeah! And then you can also get really niche things, like if you ever think of a tv show you can't remember from your childhood, because you're like me and you're 39 years old, and you're like "oh that was so long ago". But if you come up with a vague description like "it's a rat that lives in the white house, I don't know there was a... the vice president cat wore a tie" and that sounds very vague but there will be a furry on there that will be like "oh, Capital Critters, that's what you're looking for"

HALLI: The Animaniacs reboot was throwing me hard cuz I was like "oh woah, hold on a second, I think I still know this theme song" and then they changed all the words and alright

ICARUS: They got you! I really like the Ducktales reboot

CAYLA: I haven't watched that one yet, but I have heard it's super good

ICARUS: Oh my gosh, Flintheart Glomgold, he has my heart. He is amazing in it.

CAYLA: Let's go way back then, what was life like prior to Jen? You were going to school at the time I think?

ICARUS: Let's just see, I just got into college, before that I had been in a boarding school. It was kind of messed up situation in the boarding school, being bullied by like other students and the staff took their side with it, which resulted in all kinds of messed up sort of things, so I was already *indecipherable*

CAYLA: That's awesome

ICARUS: I know right? I was getting my room tossed, sometimes it was my fault, sometimes it wasn't, cause you know, you have a roommate and sometimes the roommate gets the room tossed *laughs*. There was just like a lot of untreated teenage mental illness going on in the dorms in general and...

CAYLA: Was this like one of those reform boarding schools that were all the rage?

ICARUS: No it was a quaker liberal boarding school which like, if you're going there as a day student, it's great and if you're going there to get an international experience because you were overseas, it was great. And if you were staying in dorms because you lived really far away, again, really fine. But if you were just shoved there because your parents didn't want to deal with you -which was a lot of the students - then it could get very bad, very quickly

CAYLA: How long were you there for?

ICARUS: A year

CAYLA: And then you finished high school and carried on?


CAYLA: Must've been a relief to get out of there

ICARUS: Yeah, I mean it was just a weird thing, because you know I had got my acceptance letter, I knew where I was going at this point. I set off for that and my first year of college there -which I really don't remember a lot of, because like I said I had a major drinking problem at the time, so it's just like bits and pieces .

CAYLA: I am sure. What were you going to school for?

ICARUS: I think I started out as an English major but I wasn't totally married to it because I knew your first year of college you spend a lot of time deciding on what you're doing and just kind of trying things out and I just wanted to try out alcohol *laughs*

CAYLA: Was college when you first started drinking? Was that when that became a thing?

ICARUS: No, that was a thing in high school, which it is for many, but you know it gets a little worse when you're completely unsupervised by adults and it's very easy to obtain

CAYLA: Yuppp. I think that's a typical...well semi typical college experience, to drink too much

ICARUS: Yeah, it's drinking in general, just not everybody makes the really bad choices that I make like "I'll go move in with this person from the internet, they seem nice"

CAYLA: So I think we talked about on the other episode about how you originally met Jen and Hojo through your fan-site. So you went and visited them and eventually they asked you to live there

ICARUS: I think they might have asked the first time I visited too

CAYLA: Oh my god

ICARUS: It's possible. It's a long time ago *laughs*

CAYLA: Now do you mind talking about your experience as a trans person?

ICARUS: Yeah, I can

CAYLA: Were you at that point identifying as male?

ICARUS: I was just kind of getting into the idea that I could. I had only learned about it the year prior in high school, because it wasn't something that was ever discussed, that there could be trans men

CAYLA: Oh yeah, this is 1999

ICARUS: Yeah like even you know, it's terrible the representation that trans women got and still get , it's bad and they make stupid terrible jokes, but.. there was no representation for men, so I didn't know it was a thing. And then I found some dude's site and I was like "oh my god, this is something that could happen? This is who I could be? Wow" and then I was like "well my family is never going to be onboard.." so I just kind of kept it locked deep inside and went to college and I was like "Okay, I am going to open it a little bit, just unlock it a tiny bit" and uh, then Jen happened and it went back in the closet after because that was a terrible experience

CAYLA: Yeah, that would do it. So do you think, you questioning that at that time partly influenced what happened and how you wound up there?

ICARUS: I think it did. Because I think, I could already tell that they were more permissive of any kind of more queer expression. Because they were queer.

CAYLA: Even though, Jen's not a lesbian, right?

ICARUS: Yeah, even though Jen says she's not a lesbian, which is like okay Jen, that's alright, like whatever you want to do. Yeah I think it was a choice between that and living in the basement in Brooklyn while my mom yelled at me all summer. Which really wasn't much of a choice. One of these I can actually maybe, I don't know, try out a new name! And I did

CAYLA: Yeah, like to me, the choice would be obvious, especially at that age with everything your going through and your relationship with your parents. It's like "I can go hang out with some friends for the summer? This sounds fine"

ICARUS: Yeah, exactly. I was like "it's a college town, their my age, even if I saw them fighting while I was there, it's probably just a one off, it's not going to be a big deal" obviously it was and I was wrong on every single count

CAYLA: You couldn't have anticipated that it was going to be that bad, I'm sure people move into houses with internet people, where it's a little sketch, but it all works out, I don't think your experience is common

ICARUS: Yeah pretty much, when I was preteen/teen and the internet was around it was like "don't meet anyone from the internet, they're going to kill you" So that was like my bench mark. If I met somebody for the first time and they weren't like "oh here's a knife and I am bringing it to you" I was like "alright they're safe, that's all that people on the internet want to do if they're bad!"

CAYLA: Oh the naivety of the 1990s internet


CAYLA: Things were so simple back then

ICARUS: "There can't possibly be any other ways that you could torture someone, oh? nevermind" and then the exciting world of true crime opened up

CAYLA: and now everyone talks about murder

ICARUS: Yeah! But at least we're honest about it now!

CAYLA: Yeah, we're all just freaks up front now

ICARUS: And all have anxiety disorders now

CAYLA: Also true

NATHAN: Remember the days when it was not okay to talk about murder? Like outright, like it was fascinating?

ICARUS: I feel like that's every time I have to go to a family function, that I am not allowed to. For some reason, just brings the room down *laughs* "so mom, tell me story about the guy that worked at the hospital for a while and poisoned everybody! Oh? We don't want to tell the story again? Okay"

CAYLA: "You don't want to talk about this right now, I don't understand"

NATHAN: "You want to have faith in your health providers? Yeah okay I get it"

ICARUS: Oh that was actually... um what was his name.. but he was actually like a New Jersey murder nurse, like he shows up in all those documentaries

NATHAN: Oh what! Oh my god

ICARUS: Yeah and she for a short time, he was at one of the hospitals where she worked because he went to all these hospitals in northern New Jersey because like every single one of them was like "Welllll you're a problem, but we don't want to call the cops. We're not going to write you a BAD reference" so he just kept bouncing to all the other hospitals

CAYLA: We're going to pull a Catholic church thing where we'll just move you to a different area

ICARUS: Yeah, yeah! Exactly

NATHAN: Oh yeah, ok, alright

CAYLA: So your mom actually worked with him?

ICARUS: Not closely, but they were in the same medical group so she heard from the EMTs that a bunch of them had gotten sick, but like she worked in OBGYN, so it wasn't like they were right next to each other. But they shared a cafeteria and shit, you know

CAYLA: That's fucking wild

CAYLA: So before you ended moving in with Jen you went down with Zar to go to a concert for Jimmy Eat World. How was the concert?

ICARUS: It was a lot of fun, I think it says on the thing, the most memorable part about it was it was super muddy, it was outdoors on this common, if you know Penn State, you know the common that is right off of main street, but it had just poured I guess a day before, or something and they were still going to go on and people were still outside because it was warm, I guess? Must've been. And so they played their hit at the time and it was fun and everyone got really muddy and Jen got really made and didn't go *laughs* That was the weird thing. It was a free concert and she didn't even want to go

CAYLA: That would involve leaving the house

ICARUS: Yeah, I mean ultimately, yeah

CAYLA: At one point in your story you mention Gast, that he was living there at some point? This is a name that I've seen randomly everywhere, but no one really talks about him, are you able to talk about who he is?

ICARUS: I can, but I can't remember what his name was

CAYLA: I believe it was Chris

ICARUS: Okay I was going to say it might've been Chris, but I am not sure.

CAYLA: Was he living there when you moved in?

ICARUS: Yeah he was, it was a 2 bedroom apartment, so they had one room, he had another room and I slept in the living room. And he had, I think what would have been the master? He just kind of kept to himself most of the time, he had a bunch of miniatures, he had a bunch of model kits, he'd be building like Star Trek models and stuff, he seemed like a very, you know, generic, nerd, probably these days you'd call him an INCEL, but not as angry as we associate that to be? But he wasn't nice, he was kind of a dick. If he was riding in a car, he was bitching about the people walking on the sidewalk doing it wrong and if he's walking on the sidewalk he's bitching at the drivers doing it wrong, so there was just never any pleasing this guy

CAYLA: How involved was he with the whole Final Fantasy roleplay and stuff like that?

ICARUS: He pretty much just noped out. I think he had a crush on Hojo? I think there was like a thing there and I don't know what it was. He was just like "I'm not involved, I'm not being involved, I pay my rent on time, I go to my job, I stay in my room and I'm not part of this. You do whatever the fuck you want, I am out"


ICARUS: Yeah, in retrospect he had the right idea *laughs*

CAYLA: Was he there until you moved to the other apartment?

ICARUS: I think so?

CAYLA: Or did he just take the opportunity to go and get the fuck out?

ICARUS: He might've left at some point? I really don't remember. It might have even been between the time where the school year ended and I came down and when I first met with them. Because he might have just moved to a different apartment at the end of the school year

CAYLA: So I guess you probably didn't keep in contact with him or anything like that?

ICARUS: *laughs* I don't think I talked to the guy more than 3 times when I met him, so obviously not keeping in contact

CAYLA: Was it steak every night? Really?

ICARUS: Okay, it wasn't really but she really likes to put meat in stuff, like if she's cooking pasta, like she made pasta alfredo, she would put bacon bits in and it's just like "why would you do this to me? You can put them in your own, why does it have to be in the big thing?"

CAYLA: It's so simple!

ICARUS: I know, but she really, Jen really liked to eat meat and I know a lot of people do and that a lot of people are really into red meat, but I'm not and never have been

CAYLA: Yeah, you think you'd be some what considerate. Lots of meals where the meat can be totally separate

ICARUS: Yeah or like, it's not like it was 1983, you know what a vegetarian is, it should be ok and I'm not even a hard vegetarian, like you can still cook chicken, chicken's pretty cheap too, but nah

CAYLA: Did Jen talk much about her past? Like about her parents or anything or the boarding school?

ICARUS: It's hard to tell when- yes she would talk about her past, but what of it was truth and what she was making up it was so hard to tell. And it always was changing and always contradicting, after a while you just started nodding along. It wasn't until other people that had known her before "oh yeah that parts true" and then I'd be like "oh okay, yeah she did talk about that, but I didn't know if she was just bullshitting

CAYLA: How much did you end up finding out about her past in real life?

ICARUS: Um, well you talked to one of her childhood friends, that's about the same amount

CAYLA: Yeah ok, Nate

ICARUS: But I did though - because I wanted to verify this "Cornet family fortune thing" I did a deep dive into the history of this five and dime store and it was kind of cool. You know, it's not royalty, but it was like, yeah someone deep in her family tree did in fact have a Cornet family five and dime and it did quite well for a while, when five and dimes were a thing, that was kind of neat

CAYLA: Yeah, it's actually kind of an interesting piece of retail history when you look into it. Yeah everything just fell apart afterwards Those five and dimes just died

ICARUS: Yeah, as we're seeing the malls do now

CAYLA: Yeahhh

ICARUS: RIP mall culture

CAYLA: Pandemic must be making that way worse

ICARUS: I'm so sad, the mall near us was already a lousy mall but it finally got a nice, like a good sushi place, like cheap and now I'm sure it's going to be gone. I'm sure if it isn't already, it's probably gone

CAYLA: Yeah, restaurants are totally getting kicked in the ass right now. Everything is. I don't know what's going to be open when we're allowed back out in the world.

ICARUS: Probably a lot of museums. Which is nice, but you know, that's like the one thing that they don't need constant payment for

CAYLA: Did you ever end up making amends with Aeris?

ICARUS: No, because she got really mad that I posted a link to the whole Sarah Saga thing, and I think it was just kind of like, after I found out that, that was her I was like "oh she hasn't moved on from this behavior, she's just emulated this behavior" I was also just like "I don't want to"

CAYLA: That's only fair. Are you still in contact with Cid at all?

ICARUS: No because... ok like I was saying I was getting bullied in high school, this is going to be like a stupid story. The main thing was that it was a couple, they were both previously friends of mine, all like a big buddy group. Two of them started dating. I was like "Cool, they're dating. Guys, you're dating!" and they were like "No, we're not" then I was like "But you are?" and they were like "No we're not, you're being crazy" and it just went downhill from there, to the point that they were telling teachers "Oh, we think, there's a suicide risk, so you better go and check and strip search" and all kinds of weird shit happened

CAYLA: What the fuck

ICARUS: So after all the Jen stuff and I was like "I have developed a sense of being able to tell who is a good person. I'm very wise now, I am 20 years old!" and the girl from the group came back and was like "Hey, so it was all the guy's idea" (spoiler alert: no it wasn't ) So I tried to rebuild this big friend group out of other people I had fallen out of touch with while the Jen thing, or people that had reconnected with me when they heard about the Jen thing and Cid joined that group. And then when I went to Japan to study, years later. There was like a weird coupe that happened behind my back, where one day I log into the group chat and everyone is like "We're not talking to you" and I'm like "What, why?" and they're like "You know why!"

CAYLA: Sudden flashbacks to Jen

ICARUS: Yeah, "You know what you did!" and I'm like "I don't know what I did can somebody please tell me what I did?" and they were like "You're just lying, you're just playing dumb." I'm like "I don't know what I did, alright whatever" so I just kind of walked away from that, I'm just not going to rise to the beat, because I had a feeling some bullshit was going on and they just wanted me to react and beg and be really dramatic and it just wasn't going to happen

ICARUS: And Cid was in that group and I don't know why he stayed with that group for a long ass time, I think it was just like to have a group to be social with? Because a bunch of them moved down to State College and then Cid bought a house in State College and then a [bunch] of them bought a house in State College and they became in competition of who has the bigger like flat-screen tv and whose got this and as that went on he kind of revealed himself to be a bit of a jerk

CAYLA: Just sold out to the white picket fence dream thing, eh?

ICARUS: Yes, yes. Although there was an interim period of time where we were playing Final Fantasy 12, I think? No, 11, the first online one

CAYLA: Yeah, yeah that's 11

ICARUS: Yeah and Cid was being like - I was in his FC and he wanted me to play a healer and I didn't want to play a healer, because it felt very feminizing and I was being "listen I don't like it, I'd rather play something a little more masculine nah, nah nah" and he was like "Well, whatever, it's fine and nobody's going to go - and you're using a guy avatar" and I was like "alright, fine." And the first time I go out with a group of them into a dungeon he introduces me with female pronouns and I was like "Dude, really?"

CAYLA: Wow. That's rough

HALLI: Dick move

ICARUS: And he was like "What? I thought you were enjoying being a healer?" No. I made that very clear. No

CAYLA: I remember when I used to play WoW a lot and I was in a guild and I was playing a priest at the time, I was playing a shadow priest, which is DPS, my guild leader was like "We really need another healer, can you do it?" and I was like "I really don't want to be a healer" because of the same thing, like I identify as female

ICARUS: I just don't want to

CAYLA: But I just don't want to be the girl stereotype

ICARUS: Yeah, yeah it's so simple, just grant my one request!

CAYLA: Yeah! I made him a deal like "I'll do it for like three months, but you need to find another healer after that" which then I just ended up healing for the rest of eternity

ICARUS: Oh, RIP I'm so sorry

CAYLA: I ended up enjoying it, so it wasn't terrible, but yeah I so didn't want to fall into the trope

ICARUS: Pry my daggers from my cold beefy hands

EVERYONE: *laughs*

ICARUS: Or, ninja-y hands I guess?

CAYLA: So you posted the original Live Journal in 2005, what triggered you to decide to post the story about everything?

ICARUS: I really don't remember. It must've been some big Live Journal thing. It really must've been, as like any social network, occasionally there would be like a big blow-up and everybody would have to post their take on it, or what it reminded them of. I really - I just want to talk about the 'Burnt Cat' Live Journal thing, even though I don't think that's what did it. I don't know if you guys remember that?

CAYLA: No, what is this?

ICARUS: Oh, ok, so this was early era Live Journal, a girl made a post and it went viral of "I found this kitten it's been" -- Oh content warning, animal gets hurt, but spoiler alert, there's no actual animal. So yeah this girl says "I found this kitten and it's been abused, somebody tried to light it on fire and I am collecting donations to take it to the vet" and she posted her PayPal and it went viral and people just started spamming her with money. And I want to say - because things moved slower back then, than today. Maybe the next day she comes out and is like "ok, guys, it was all a trick. I did it because I was trying to convince my mom that there were nice people on the internet and I am refunding everyone's money." And she did, I was one of the people that gave money and I got a refund

CAYLA: That's actually really nice of her, to actually do that

ICARUS: Yeah, yeah, I mean because of PayPal fees she actually wound up being out of pocket and so I didn't have a problem with the fact that she wasn't being honest because I think AOC said in a recent tweet "If you're going to err, err on the side of helping people" but it was very polarizing, a lot of people felt very angry about being made to feel concern for this cat that did not exist, for what was essentially a social experiment.

ICARUS: So it must've been some post like that, probably somebody saying "Ok, terrible crazy things do happen, do exist, please listen to me"

CAYLA: Yeah, I could see something like that could be inspiring to like "Okay let's talk about some crazy shit"

ICARUS: Yeah exactly!

CAYLA: And then what inspired you to go from the Live Journal to the website?

ICARUS: Well, A, I wanted to turn off comments, but not turn off comments, you know what I mean?

CAYLA: Yeah, fair, yeah

ICARUS: And B, I think it was just that I realized with a Live Journal things could be edited and it could be locked, it could be taken down by mods, and rather than make all the of traffic go to this site that I didn't get to put ads on, I was like, I could put a 5 cent ad on this and at least pay for my hosting, which it did. I never made a lot of money, just paid for my hosting for two years

CAYLA: That's amazing

NATHAN: That's great

CAYLA: Perfect. So you're still running this site now, it's almost been 20 years since your event with Jen and 15 years since the site has been up, why do you keep the website up?

ICARUS: I don't know. I just like keeping websites that I've had up, I mean the first domain that I bought, I bought in high school and I still have it. I kind of just like to have it cause, you know, why not? It's mine

CAYLA: Do people- like how often do people reach out to you about this stuff still?

ICARUS: A couple times a year, I mean I recently made a friend through it, he's a kid that lives in Poland and had gone through a really nasty breakup and was like "hey I read it and it sounds a lot like what I went through, can we just talk?" and I was like "Yeah, but we're not going to talk about that" and he was like "that's fair" and then we became friends

CAYLA: Aww, that's awesome. It must've been cathartic to have your story out there finally and have other people come forward that had experienced similar things.

ICARUS: Yeah, I think I really was surprised by the fact that other people been having similar experiences with her and and there were just more than I even knew about. And that they kept going long after I left

CAYLA: Totally

ICARUS: It's like your cover is blown, what are you doing? Get a new grift

CAYLA: Right? There was the whole Hannibal thing a couple years ago, we don't know what she's doing now, but it's like she's going to blow up again, she's going the show up, there's no way she stopped

ICARUS: Yeah unless she's seriously calmed down and seriously just like not gone into that "I need special magical attention all the time" mode, she's going to wind up, coming up. Which, maybe she has calmed down, she'd be almost 42, so

CAYLA: Yeah, I think she's 38? You would hope that she had found some sort of peace

ICARUS: I mean, fingers crossed, you can always hope. She's not someone I would ever expect an apology from

CAYLA: Nooo. Yeah I wouldn't hold my breath for that one. What was the fallout like when you put up the website and stuff, because obviously she must've found out

ICARUS: Oh yeah, her major thing was that she wanted to run this story - and there was this person that was being the voice on the inside, Trish - and Jen's game plan was, so Jen was really married to the idea of making it seem like the whole motivation behind the website was that I was on drugs. That was the depth of her story by the way. She didn't have a specific, she didn't have a theory on how this delusion formed? She was just like "nope, it's drugs"

CAYLA: "But guys, guys, guys. It's just drugs"

ICARUS: And Trish thought that was hysterical and was like "oh yeah, yeah, I've seen his Live Journal icons, the ones that say 'drugs, drugs, drugs' " and it was like a Star Wars character?

NATHAN: she's just like "I knew this guy for a couple months, he's a junky"

ICARUS: Yes, pretty much, she basically just wanted to undercut my credibility entirely and thought that was the best way to do it and it's like "Wow, that's incredibly classist of you"

CAYLA: That probably just drew more attention to it. Oh wow. Did she keep trying to retaliate against you for years or was it kind of she just gave up eventually?

ICARUS: Uh, I think she just gave up eventually, she gave up pretty quickly actually and I think she kind of became scared of me because I had made it somehow go viral and it's not like I had any control over that, but it just did and I think that really frightened her

CAYLA: That must've been weird when that went viral

ICARUS: I mean, sometimes things did, I think it was just different because it was older internet, so it didn't feel as constant as it does not when things go viral, it's not like your phone's blowing up? You know what I mean?

CAYLA: It's a lot quieter, it's just internet legend

ICARUS: Yeah, you could turn off notifications on the post and then they wouldn't show up in your email and that would be the end of being bothered by it. Unless you went to look at it. As opposed to now

CAYLA: You can't get away from anything

ICARUS: You can't silence the notifications to save your life!

CAYLA: Yeah, exactly!

ICARUS: She did post a lot on her personal blog about of course how it's unfair, it's all lies, it's unfair, it's terrible and linking to me the whole time to encourage her other followers to go and attack me, which is how I got the comment of "None of this would've happened if you had just taken out the trash" and I was like "Oh really? That's the core problem here?"

CAYLA: Yeah because the trash was the only problem *laughs* yeah did you get a lot of that victim-blamed you?

ICARUS: I mean, there were plenty, but it was also, there were at least three other people who were backing me up, including Cid, who was physically there at the time, so they tend to be shut down pretty quickly and they would just kind of limp off with their tail between their legs, I don't think any of them were like "oh my gosh, really? She's actually a terrible person?" in that moment, no one had a come to Jesus moment in the threads, but I don't think any of them left a compelling argument in Jen's favor

CAYLA: It's really hard to try and defend her. People started reaching out to you almost right away with their own stories, right?

ICARUS: Yeah, including ones that didn't want to associate with her and didn't want their names associated with her and they kept coming for a long time

CAYLA: How many stories did you receive that you haven't posted because they asked you not to?

ICARUS: I want to say at least 2. There's always a few that I am never entirely sure if it was Jen or if it was just somebody that was very similar, because unfortunately there are people like her in the world, more than one. At least one I didn't post because their particular retelling was really convoluted and hard to follow, so I didn't want to put it up there because it had to do with all their different alters, of the person writing and it was just so much to keep track of in your head while you're reading it. There was just like 25 players and there's actually like 3 people in the room

CAYLA: Oh my god


ICARUS: It was just not the kind of thing that was going to be easy for people to read and be like "oh wow, yeah" and it also just kind of felt like "what does this prove other than Jen also believes she has a lot of alters?"

CAYLA: I've been reading into that sort of stuff lately, obviously with looking into this stuff again and it's so - if you have no experience with it, it's really hard to wrap your brain around it and people start switching alters, whoever is fronting at the time and at times you're just go "oh wait these are all the same person" and you forget

ICARUS: There are plenty of people that do it and they're very valid in the way that they do it and I know a bunch of people who sign their post with whoever is fronting and it will be a different letter, but Jen would go full cartoon voice with the different ones and it was just a bit much.

CAYLA: Yeah, do whatever you want to do just don't hurt anybody, kind of thing, right?

ICARUS: Yeah, and her methodology of it seemed very influenced by television and movies in how it was portrayed in television and movies

CAYLA: And I feel like she used her alters to as justification or excuses for her behavior

ICARUS: Yes, it would be like "Well, I need to have that lollipop because today I am two year old elf child and I will cry" and it was like "No you don't and that's also not how you would deal with a crying 2 year old child, nor is this how a crying 2 year old child would express their feelings, but ok"

CAYLA: Oh my god *laughs*

ICARUS: Anybody who - and this is going to be a very controversial hot take here - anybody who kins a villain and it's a full-on megalomaniac villain. Like they... it's a bit dubious. Why would you be giving somebody excuses to be like "Well it wasn't me, it was the evil devil inside of me" it's like "ok, alright, have fun with that son of Sam, how'd that work out for you?"

EVERYONE: *laughs*

ICARUS: "It wasn't me, it was the dog down the street" "alright Richard Ramirez, how you rolling?"

EVERYONE: *laughs*

ICARUS: Not that I am saying that Jen's a serial killer, it's just very common when somebody really caught, to be like "oh it wasn't me" and make it up. Anyway

CAYLA: Easy to make excuses that way

ICARUS: Yeah, to be like "you can't be mad at me, it's not me!"

CAYLA: I understand that some of your friends, you had some of your friends kind of convert to Jen over time? How did that go?

ICARUS: Well, not good. I think they did it, just because they wanted to talk to the same people I was talking to, but the one - and I don't know where she is these days I haven't kept up - but she was really obsessed with me for a brief period of time and she was like a teeny. So like, you know, whatever, it's teenies and that's how teenies are. But when Jen told her "you can just take his soul, I'll give it to you" Like wtf, seriously?


HALLI: What. the. fuck

ICARUS: In what world does that sound like a good deal, even if it works?

CAYLA: What are you even going to do with a soul, right?

ICARUS: Well then she would be me. She would get to become me. But every single mythology generally, you don't take people's souls, it's not a thing you do if you want to come out on top

CAYLA: Yeah, that doesn't really make sense

ICARUS: So there was that, yeah. I think it really just was, Jen would pick up anybody who started to fall for her bullshit because she needed a constantly rotating amount of people because the turn over rate was so high!

CAYLA: Yeah, that's totally - one thing that you and I were talking about was that she seems to target a lot of trans-masc, pre-transition men or trans-men?

ICARUS: Yeah, I was thinking about that and this is just my personal theory, might be very wrong and you know. Jen was a chaser, there's no mistaking that, but I think part of her reasoning behind it was that she liked people who behaved in a masculine fashion, I don't want to say traditionally masculine because toxic masculinity, I don't think she's really into it. But she liked people that behaved in a masculine manor and would refer to themselves with masculine pronouns, but did not look or have the social mobility of cis-masc men. So like I don't think she would be interested in anybody that had started testosterone


HALLI: Interesting

ICARUS: Because she never, as far as I know, dated a man, even though she says she's not a lesbian

CAYLA: So do you think she specifically seeks these people out or she just happens to be in areas where there is a high concentration of them and then seeks them out?

ICARUS: I think it's a little bit of both, I think that she enters into fandoms where there are a lot and very often people are exploring their gender in a fandom because it's a safe - it's kind of an enclosed ecosystem, you get to know most of the people and how they react and interact and you can kind of try out your new identity safely and so people that may just be beginning to transition or are just questioning or have maybe not yet figured out that they're non-binary or fluid they're still getting stuff figured out, I think she just kind of latches onto that and obviously latches onto the queer vulnerability "Oh, I will support you, that is valid, you are what you say you are" and it's like food, if you don't get that anywhere else, you're just like "oh my god, someone in the world!" that really enables her to leverage her abuse, like "if you cut that off, I'll die"

CAYLA: Yeah, she takes advantage of that. I cosplay and I know the cosplay community there's lots of people who - yeah it's a way of expressing themselves in and ultimately end up finding out what their true identity was through that and I imagine it's very similar with the online roleplay groups and stuff like that

ICARUS: Yeah I think it is, also like fanfic writers, like if somebody's really good at writing from a certain point of view

CAYLA: Did you feel like Jen was targeting you just to be another... income? Or did you ever feel like there was a romantic interest?

ICARUS: I think there probably was a little bit, but I don't think that I gave off the signal that I was going to comply and so she just kind of backed off.

CAYLA: Were you ace at the time?

ICARUS: Yeah and I just, I would just kind of laugh nervously if it ever was brought up and then just walk away. Like the time that Aeris was over and she made the food and she quote unquote put "aphrodisiacs'" in it. I don't know what it was, it was like some herbal thing so obviously it was-

CAYLA: It was probably magic

ICARUS: Yeah! It obviously was like it was magic aphrodisiacs, it wasn't like Spanish fly or something, but she absolutely wanted to see that hook-up happen but it was like, it's not going to? There's nothing going on here. I think there is an element of her liking the idea of having a bunch of people in a harem, kind of.

CAYLA: Yeah, definitely. Yeah with what we see later of her with all her special people, that she ends up - she likes to have corral of people that serve her

ICARUS: Yeah and she likes to rotate them out and I think that it - I mean it's very cult like - but she keeps them all guessing and keeps information limited and this person and that person, every single person who interacts with Jen is the most special person that Jen is interacting with in that moment and is the only one who knows her in her truest way and I feel like that is, you know the fact that everybody thinks that, that buys that lie from her, it's a lot, but that's how she operates

CAYLA: Yeah, it makes people feel special and like "oh wow this person really needs me" or whatever

ICARUS: Yeah exactly, and like "I can't be mad at Jen, I'm the only one that she's ever confided in" meanwhile she's confided in everyone and she's just taking all of your money and all of your possessions and all of your freedom

CAYLA: How has this effected your relationship with Final Fantasy?

ICARUS: For a long, long, long time I could now enjoy Final Fantasy 7 at all, I couldn't play the games, I couldn't even think about them. I just dropped out of the fandom entirely and was just like "byeeee" and didn't even keep up with it really. I tried to, through Last Order and stuff, that was the Crisis Core era, what would that be? 2007 I want to say? So there was a brief period of hanging on but then I just dropped out really hard and then years and years later I was like "I have to deal with this because every time I think about it, it makes me anxious, I need to go back and realize that it's not her and that the game is different from her. So I started replaying it - no, I first started reading a Twitter account called Final Fantasy 7 Blazed where it's just a retelling of the entire game, start to finish, except everyone is a real huge stoner and it's really funny

EVERYONE: *laughs*

ICARUS: And I mean, I can find you guys the link, it made me laugh so hard so many times

CAYLA: Yes that has to go into the show notes

ICARUS: I wound up making a freaking zine of it. I was like "okay, I am going to go back and play the games now and if I start freaking out I can always just think of the Blazed version of this scene and it will make me laugh and it will be okay" and so that's what I did and there was only really one part of the game that I was like "I think I am going to bad town here" and it was the part, in the very beginning when they're storming the Shinra building and Cloud looks into the tank after Barret is like "omg what is that, Jenova? It has no head" and he looks in and starts freaking out and as Barrett was like "omg what is that, Jenova?" I was like "Oh no, oh no, I'm starting to spiral" and then Cloud looks in and he gets down and he starts to spiral and I was like "ahhh same buddy" and then we just kind of, you know, kept going. It was all good from that point

CAYLA: Thankfully Jenova is not like a huge character

ICARUS: I mean she kind of is

CAYLA: But she's always in the background, right? You barely see her

ICARUS: She's there but it's also like the entirety of the story became very cathartic to play through from that point on, because when you finally get to the end and the battle with Jenova and I was just like "this feels so good, just beating em up"

CAYLA: Have you played the remake at all?

ICARUS: I did play the remake, I borrowed my friend's PlayStation

CAYLA: What did you think?

ICARUS: I thought it was fun, it was clearly unfinished, which is probably a criticism that could be said about most major games these days

CAYLA: Yeppp

ICARUS: I didn't like how it rail-roaded me a lot of the time. Like it didn't want me to explore an area at a certain point in the story, it would be like "no, you're following Tifa and if you try and walk away you're just going to walk slower and slower until we turn you around and send you back to Tifa" I was like "Stop it! I just want to walk down this alleyway now, she can wait!" the games slowing me down and I'm just fighting

CAYLA: It feels like a lot of the Final Fantasy games recently have been like that, super rail-roady

ICARUS: Oh have they? Oh no

CAYLA: Yeah, Final Fantasy 13 was really bad for that, I don't know if you ever played that one

ICARUS: Oh that must be where they got it from

CAYLA: The problem was they opened it up in Final Fantasy 15, like way too much, it was like completely open world

ICARUS: Oh and they were like "no no no slow down"

CAYLA: "You can just go do anything!" but then it's just like "well what am I supposed to do?"

ICARUS: "You can do anything! As long as you walk very slowly towards it"

ICARUS: But I played a lot of Final Fantasy 14 when I was in chemo, because you can't go outside, you can't do anything, you can barely sit up and I really liked that, I really should started again, but I really only played one class sooo it's maxed out

CAYLA: There's nothing wrong with that! Just roll again, start again

ICARUS: Yeah, right? It like ninja, or nothing!

CAYLA: Alright so let's move on to the life past Jen! Because there's so much more of that. So you left Jen's and did you end up going back to... oh my god... the school you were in?

ICARUS: The school I was in that I don't think I mentioned the name of it anywhere because it was not a great school? Yes, I did. And I made it all the way up to - no, must've been junior year. Then I started applying to schools overseas. Because I really wanted to go to Japan. At the time the only program that was really well known was one that was in Osaka and I cannot remember the name and I'm sure your listeners are going to be screaming it if they know it, but you need really good grads to go to that one and you needed your school staff to vouch for you. My grades were okay and the staff said they'd vouch for me and when the letter came back and I opened up the folder and I looked I found what they had basically written was "we don't think this student is ready to go anywhere"

CAYLA: Ohhhh

ICARUS: I'm like "ok, obviously not getting in there". So I talked to my friend who ran another relic from the past "Heero is Not Toast" a Gundamn Wing fansite and she was going to school in Japan at the time and she was like "Why don't you apply to college that I'm at? Their program isn't quite as stringent with grades and just don't go through your school at all" and I was like "alright, done!" and I got in on that. "So I am just going to be sending you guys the credits and I'm not going to be going through your international office at all" and they were like "fine, but you're going to get homesick" and I was like "ahahaha"

CAYLA: "That's what you think!"

ICARUS: It's like, I'm a weeb, I'm not going to be homesick, I'm going to be home

CAYLA: So you went over to Japan how did your mom take you leaving the country?

ICARUS: So many times - and this is any time I do something she doesn't want me to do - the whole way of building up to it was "you can stop if you want, you can back down if you want, you back out now, you can back out now if you want" in addition, she's really pretty racist towards Asians, so that was fun as well, but she couldn't really do anything about it. Because it was school, so I got to do it anyway!

CAYLA: What was that like when you arrived in Japan?

ICARUS: The very first impressions that I got I was really scared I thought I was way in over my head, especially because my host dad came to pick me up and his English was not super great and like the first thing I did was go with my host dad and my host brother who would have been a middle child if I was a real child, to see the host littlest brother performing in his taiko class. It was just like immediately and like no conversation - I think the first sentence I said to my host dad, it wasn't even a sentence was "Oki tori" because there was a big crow in the field and I was like "wow, it's big and I need to express my feelings!"

ICARUS: But my host mom was really basically fluent in English and she was wonderful and I actually really loved it and I thought they were a really lovely family and it was one of the only times that I got to be in a functional nuclear family unit.

CAYLA: Yeah, what's that like?

ICARUS: I know? It's really nice, but it doesn't make the trauma go away for some reason, but it is really sweet to occasionally wake up and they're gone, but they've left a note and left a breakfast or a lunch and it's just like "You care that I'm alive!" It was so sweet!

ICARUS: I had a host grandma too, she was like a chain-smoker, she was hysterical she spoke no English and they had a persian cat with a very smushed in face and at one point my host mom just starts laughing because grandma is cuddling the cat and going "Oh El-El" because his name was Elvis. And my host mom is just like "Her and El have the same face" and I just lost my shit completely and then she's like "Why are you laughing? Why are you laughing?" so my host mom told her and she starts laughing

CAYLA: They sound so adorable!

ICARUS: I know, they were really wonderful people and I miss them constantly but I think they moved away from their house because I don't know what their address is now, I've sent cards and haven't got things back yet

CAYLA: How long were you with them?

ICARUS: For a full year because I did two halves of the year there. The second half was rough, because my friend got deported. Always keep your visa up to date people, every single horrible visa law is based on America's including Japan's so when she let her student visa lapse by less than a month, they were like "you're deported you're out" and she was like "but I have school" and they were like "don't matter" and she was like "But I got a fiancé" and they were like "don't matter. out" and she had to fight that for like years, but I got really depressed after that

CAYLA: Japanese law is really rough with foreigners, you have to have everything in order or else you're out. Like even when you're married it's a whole thing

ICARUS: Yeah and it's based off of America's immigration laws, soooo, so who do we have to blame for this?

CAYLA: When you were going to school was it Japanese speaking or was it English?

ICARUS: It was a Japanese College Tokyo Kokusai Daigaku or Tokyo International University and they had a unit that you could come in from America or any other English speaking country, or any country if you spoke enough English and use their program to learn Japanese and live with a Japanese host family and that was what I did. There were Japanese students on campus and obviously all the staff were Japanese, but if you were in this program, most of your classes were taught in English. Your Japanese class wasn't, but the rest of it was. 

CAYLA: That's cool, how good did you get at Japanese?

ICARUS: I don't know, I got to, I want to say, 3rd grade lvl speaking? Like a 3rd grader, because that's mostly who I held conversations with when I worked there and that's when the conversations were actually going at speed. But I could only read at a first grade level, I can't read kanji at all

CAYLA: Do you remember much of it?

ICARUS: Less and less as the years go by and I miss it. But emersion is like if you're not using it every day it's like a muscle, it gets flabby

CAYLA: Were you only there for the one year or did you end up staying after the program?

ICARUS: I stayed after the school program, well I went back to America very briefly and then I got a job teaching in Japan. Because I was absolutely devastated leaving and I was like "I need to go back, like right now" and I did. I first was teaching in a very rural town and this unbelievable for Japan, it was like an hour walk to the train station, route through rice fields which was very scenic, but very very very far away from meeting your friends in Tokyo. Although I could see the Shinkansen going by like in the distance, like the track ran through the fields so you could see the bullet train just *neerrr* and it's just like "aw you don't stop here but I wish you did"

ICARUS: And then I transferred to a different job in Yokohama which is much more in the heart of urban japan, so I could actually visit people and use transportation and that was good. I want to say that was it? It's hard to remember. That's where I got my first cat.

CAYLA: aww

ICARUS: She was just a little kitten with a little red bow in a department store in Japan, frantically waving her paws at the air, at nothing on top of the cat tree and I was like "I love her, what she is looking at? She's pretending to hallucinate, bring her to me" and they brought her out and she was immediately purring and I was like "I love you. I need you"

CAYLA: What did you name her?

ICARUS: I named her Ranba, but then they typo'd it on the paperwork they misheard me so they typed Ramba. So now when we're mad at her we're like "Ramba, excuse me Ramba-cake"

CAYLA: You were able to bring her home?

ICARUS: Yes, wasn't that hard, the harder thing is to bring an animal out of America, because we have rabies, not like all Americans, but the country. So we have to provide all these tests to make sure we're not bringing rabies out of the country. But bringing an animal into America, while pricey, is really easy, you just bring them in. As long as they're domestic, you can't bring like a bird back from Japan, but you can bring a cat or a dog back as long as you pay for their airfare basically

CAYLA: That's awesome, I am glad you were able to - I was just like "oh is this going to get sad, where he's going to have to leave her behind!"

ICARUS: Oh no, it does not get sad! Ran came back and is here to this day

CAYLA: How old is she then?

ICARUS: I want to say she's 15? She's getting to be an old lady, she has old lady arthritis, but she's still just as cuddly

CAYLA: Halli has some geriatric cats

HALLI: I have three geriatric cats, so yeah it's...

ICARUS: Oh no!

HALLI: It's a challenge sometimes, but they're all still very spritely so

ICARUS: Yeah I'll worry when she starts acting not like Ranba

HALLI: yes, totally

CAYLA: What were you favorite things about Japan?

ICARUS: Vending machines. Trains. Oh trains I miss you. It's amazing when you go from Japan and you walk through Boston and not only are all the train lines not interconnected, but each one runs a different kind of train car. It's just like I had it so good. The infrastructure was so good, I appreciated it, not. And I mean I really do miss weeb Pokemon culture, I really liked going to the Pokemon center

CAYLA: I want to go to the Pokemon center so bad!

ICARUS: Omg, they're so fun, they had so many events that they would do there. If it was your birthday, you'd walk in and it was your name and there was like screens and there were balloons

NATHAN: omg that's so amazing, I love that

ICARUS: It was so good. And it was always fun to trade Pokemon with Japanese kids that were so excited to have an English Pokemon. And they would give out rare Pokemon legendaries if you go and see the movies and stuff, like the movie theater would have it on its wifi, it was just fun.

CAYLA: I feel like their pop culture is just so much more integrated than our is

ICARUS: Yeah, you can't get away from it, it is life

CAYLA: What ended up causing you to come back?

ICARUS: I lost my job, because an American who was buddy buddy with the group that was stalking me from that high school era, came over and he kind of assaulted me and I didn't like it, which he took great offense to and it was traumatizing enough that I didn't go to work for a couple days and they like "hey you can't do that" and I was like "Sorry" and they were like "We're not renewing your contract by the way" and i was like "oh, ok guess I am going to cry a lot and go home"

CAYLA: Yeah you mentioned to me about the stalker situation, do you want to give us a quick rundown of what happened with that?

ICARUS: So I went to Japan, I don't fully understand but I think they all just got really jealous and without me being there with the group it just turned into this - the ultimate talk behind your back, you're not even in this country so we can pin any problem we have on you in the friend group, your absence, your being there, anything and you can't defend yourself so it's perfect. And they just all bought into it as a group? And I think that a lot of them are having very angry, very upset, very unfulfilled points in their life that this was going down at. And to have me over in Japan quote unquote "living it up" even though I have depression, so I would still be depressed, because you can't control it, they took great offense to that

CAYLA: You're just depressed in Japan

ICARUS: Yeah I was just depressed in Japan. So they would start doing things like blow up my phone with text messages accusing me of weird stuff, one of the things they accused me of was killing Ran and posing her dead body for pictures


NATHAN: what the fuck

ICARUS: What are you talking about? This is so easily disproved, why are you spreading this? But weird rumors like that

CAYLA: Wild, what the hell

ICARUS: I don't know the internet makes some people into real monsters. But that went on for a while and I just kind of had to get used to it.

CAYLA: Why didn't you just cut them out?

ICARUS: I tried! I even locked my journals and everything, but they kept getting spies by playing the whole "we're really worried, and you need to tell us what's being said" and the spy would report and to this day, I still get shit from them. I got a comment on one of the recent comics from a mysterious anonymous commenter who just happens to have an IP address in the town where I know one of them lives who was saying like "Oh you think you're so anti-cop now, well I remember you did a point in the comic where a character was very pro-cop" and i was like "Yeah but, if you actually look the cops are negligent and useless after that scene? But you know, go on, whatever"

CAYLA: It's like guys, don't you have anything better to do?

ICARUS: Yeah that and they - for the guy that attacked me and I was upset, they invited him to chat rooms and got him to recount the entire ordeal to them, basically patting him on the shoulder the whole time being "that's just so unfair, you were led on!"

CAYLA: Did they actually send him to Japan?

ICARUS: No, he bought the ticket himself and I told him "don't trust these people" and he was like partying with them, I guess.

CAYLA: What was your relationship prior to that?

ICARUS: He was a user on a MUD that I hosted, I don't know if you guys remember what those are, but they're basically like chatroom rpgs they run an old dnt system

CAYLA: You guys were just friendly?

ICARUS: Yeah, basically we were both mods on it and he was always saying "I'm so lonely, I'm so lonely, I'm so lonely" and I am like "you could come visit me in Japan, that would be cool. we could go see a bunch of things, it wouldn't be lonely" and little did I know that wasn't really his aim

CAYLA: Do you think they put him up to assaulting you?

ICARUS: You know what, that was all him, but they of their own volition took his side of the story and were like "hahahah once we have these transcripts, we're going to share them" and that's what they did. They hosted sites and shared transcripts of my assault and laughed about them, so, they're all assholes as far as I'm concerned, they should apologize

CAYLA: Yeah, dump those mother f**** jesus. Well I'm glad that you got away from that, for the most part, other than random commenters.

ICARUS: At this point they don't get any reactions, it's quite rare

CAYLA: So you came back from Japan, where did you come home to, where was "home" at that time?

ICARUS: At that time I came into Newark airport, I think. Might have come in through LAX. Either way, I stayed with Zar in LA for a while and I was immediately like, I want to leave again, I don't want to be in America and I was just over it. I was not ready to be back in America, I was not ready to be in the same continent as my mom and I applied to schools in Australia, because I was like "I've gone to one continent that I want to go to, how about I try another one?"

ICARUS: Australia, I did go to the school, but I went to the worst possible choice I could've made which was in really rural, really conservative area of North Eastern Australia. So all the country is beautiful, it is a beautiful continent it has so much cool indigenous history it is gorgeous, the flora and the fauna or incredible. I have never seen a bird with a claw on its wing, walking around a parking like no big deal before

ICARUS: But it's not very queer friendly, so I did a little grad school there, then I dropped out because, like this is not healthy for me

CAYLA: Were you publicly out as male at that time?

ICARUS: I was trying to be. I had a counsellor at school that I was talking to about it, but the counsellor had no idea where to even begin to look for hormone replacement therapy and the group - the LGBT group that she pointed me to, I was the only trans person in and was about 8 people total. 3 of whom were much older than me. So it was just not an environment for it and it was very depressing to me

CAYLA: Yeah, that doesn't really give you a lot of room to explore and you'd feel kind of isolated I would imagine

ICARUS: Yeah it was a very isolating thing, it was just like "oh great" and then one of my housemates at the time turned out to be talking with the guy who assaulted me, like buddy, buddy. I was like "why are you still talking to him?" he was like "I don't know, we were friends" and I was like "really? Ok. I'm out. I can't do this"

CAYLA: Yeah like "I've been through this before, no I'm done"

ICARUS: I'm not tolerating this again!

CAYLA: Did you only stay in that area of Australia, or did you end up going somewhere else? Or did you come home?

ICARUS: I mean I visited other areas of Australia but I didn't find another school there and the one friend that I did have was on the entirely opposite coast of Australia and I didn't really see a way of going over there. He was married and he had a wife already and had like a tiny apartment and I wasn't just going to crash in their apartment at that point, seemed kind of gauche

ICARUS: Australia was also the time that I was like "Ok, I need to stop drinking" because there was crazy drinking culture in Australia and at this point, I'm mid to late 20s and I'm looking at my housemates who are also my age and some of my housemate owned a house, they were all working and they're still rolling on the floor black-out drunk, throw-up every night. I was like "This... this is not a good look" just a momentary "Oh, that's what I look like. I need to stop doing this" and I did, shockingly it worked

CAYLA: That's interesting that suddenly surrounded by excess that made you

ICARUS: Yeah, right? "Ohhhhh! I see. This sucks"

CAYLA: Did you just quit cold turkey? Or just started moderation?

ICARUS: I quit cold turkey

CAYLA: That's hard to do!

ICARUS: I'm impervious to pain!

CAYLA: "The shit I have been through man!"

ICARUS: I just but I do have a stupid high pain tolerance, so I don't know many that had something to do with it?

CAYLA: Are you still alcohol free today?

ICARUS: I am. For a brief period there I would occasionally be like "yeah, I'll have a beer" but it came to the point that occasionally if I had a beer I would start to feel panicked and I was just like "hmm, just not going to do this anymore"

CAYLA: Yeah, it's not worth it at that point

ICARUS: It actually kind of sucked during chemo because you have to drink SO much liquid, like so much water to keep your kidneys flushed otherwise they will just be destroyed and while I was chugging all the water I was like "oh I'm having flashbacks to when I was drinking, nooooo"

CAYLA: So you came back to America, what did you do then?

ICARUS: Then I came back to Massachusetts and I started working in public schools in Massachusetts and I couldn't really be out while working in a public school still, even in the state of Massachusetts, it doesn't go over that great, still. Employers are not - no one wants to employee you when you're in that period of actually transitioning where people look at you and are like "I can tell you're queer in some way, but I am not sure what" people just don't like it and they freak out if it's around kids, which is just really fucked up

CAYLA: That's very messed up

ICARUS: I worked in a school for a while, I worked with special needs kids because that's what - the kids I was working with in Australia and also one of my host brothers in Japan was on the autism spectrum and also my step-sister has downs syndrome. So I just had a lot of experience it's easy for me to work with those kids and also the schools are always looking for people to work with special needs kids because the turnover is so high

CAYLA: Yeah, there's a lot of demand for that, that's really cool that you got into that

ICARUS: And that was decent, but the school district kind of sucked and then I decided I was going to do art for a while and a quit and we got a house and here I am.

CAYLA: So when did you start your comic?

ICARUS: The comic was 2003? It definitely existed, when Jen was around, but she just wasn't interested in it and I am glad

CAYLA: You've been running it for a long time then, congratulations!

ICARUS: Thanks. It's 703 and pages? It takes a long time to color every single page

CAYLA: wow

HALLI: woah

CAYLA: And you do everything by hand, right? traditionally?

ICARUS: Yeah originally it was that way because, I mean, it's not like tablets we have now, they're nice and they're small and they're mobile and you can carry them everywhere. Before if you wanted to draw on your computer, you had to lug your computer with you wherever you go. I was like "I can just pens and markers and pencils, it's much easier"

CAYLA: Is there a reason you still do traditional art for the comic?

ICARUS: The point is just consistency, I mean I find it just relaxing too, there are certain aspects of it - touching paper has always just been a nice neural relaxer to me, just like "ahh, it's so smooth or rough or whatever" I use watercolors, so watercoloring is very relaxing

CAYLA: Yeah the art is really cool, I have never seen a comic done like that before. Do you want to actually grab an image and put it in the chat because Nate and Halli haven't actually seen it

HALLI: yeah we'd love to

ICARUS: Let me see, what do I have...

HALLI: all you artsy people, my goodness

ICARUS: Artsy people, artsy people that are constantly critical of themselves and anything we do. I'm like is that a good page? No. Let's see.. just don't look at the hands too closely

CAYLA: This is watercolor, or marker?

ICARUS: Yeah, the characters are done in alcohol based markers and there's also some pastel in there to do the more solid colors like backgrounds, walls, line art and the pastels are also water soluble so you can kind of get a watercolor effect and helps blend them

CAYLA: That's awesome

NATHAN: That's really cool

HALLI: How long does it take you to do a page? I am so curious

ICARUS: Last time I clocked it, it was like 13 hours. I usually break it up over two days

HALLI: Woo mama

ICARUS: Turns out there's a reason why people don't color their own comics all the time. It's so time consuming!

CAYLA: I do a webcomic myself, but it's digital so it's a bit faster, but coloring takes foreverrrr, and doing it traditionally must take even longer

ICARUS: Yeah, but also sometimes in traditional it also goes shorter, because once you've laid a line down that's it, it's there, you're done, that's not coming back up! Though sometimes I have to cut squares out and glue them overtop of panels and restart over on the new panel.

CAYLA: Do you draw digitally a lot aside from this now?

ICARUS: I do now that the pandemic started. I only got an Ipad that I can draw on right around 2018 or maybe even 2017 and it was a hand-me-down from my friend. The start up cost is still astronomical when doing digital, it's annoying, but I really do like the ipencil. I am not a huge fan of macs and it pains me to say but I really do - Procreate is a really good program

CAYLA: Procreate is amazing. I've got a surface and that's what I've been using to draw

ICARUS: I've heard those a good too

CAYLA: Yeah, you can get a Wacom stylus for that as well. It's great, soon as I got this I draw sooo much more now, because it's so easy to carry around

ICARUS: Yeah I can carry it with me if I was taking the train in and out of Boston I can just take it with me and draw on the train or at a friend's house and I have all the colors of the rainbow!

CAYLA: Exactly!

CAYLA: So you got married in 2011?

ICARUS: Yes, August 27th? I think. Yes.

CAYLA: Well congratulations, 9 years later

ICARUS: Thank you. I don't know what we're supposed to do at 9 year anniversaries? We never know what we're supposed to do at our anniversaries. We're millennials, we just don't. But it was nice. It was supposed to just be us and the justice of the peace and we had it done on the top of mount sugarloaf, which is just a little park on the top of an old mountain

CAYLA: With the best name

ICARUS: Right? It's so cute!

CAYLA: So cute!

ICARUS: And then my mom and my uncle kind of crashed it and it was like "oh my god your here I guess" and then my step-dad inexplicably - slyly slipped the Justice of the Peace a $100 bill

CAYLA: Okay...

ICARUS: Yeah, right? I think she was just as confused as we were, she was just like "what is this that you're doing?"

NATHAN: That's amazing, what the fuck

ICARUS: There's so much I don't understand about baby boomers

NATHAN: yeahhh


ICARUS: I just don't know what you're doing constantly you guys

CAYLA: I'm assuming your mom has come around to the whole queer identity thing now? Or at least accepting it?

ICARUS: She's still fighting it, it's been an ongoing battle. The first time I tried to come out to her was before I even left for Japan, so I started by trying to tell her about my friends that were also trans and before I even got to finish the sentence all I got to was explaining that one of my friends was a trans man and she yells "ewwww!" and I was like "oh great, so this conversation is over then". I tried again later at a friend's wedding and she was like "No"

CAYLA: Just no?

ICARUS: Then of course I was all broken up and I went to my little sister about it and I told my little sister "Yeah mom is not into it, she's just not gonna.." and Molly was just like - my sister's name is Molly - and she was like "I'm going to make her!" and props to Molly because we didn't really - we had a rough time growing up, it's very rough to have an ultra femme-y teeny bopper little sister when you're the trans brother in the closet.

ICARUS: But it seemed to click for her soon as I said it she was like "oh my god" and it made perfect sense to her, everything suddenly fell into place, so she went and was yelling at my mom like "You can't say that that's not the way to come out! That's not your choice! You don't get to decide that"

CAYLA: That's so sweet, at least she was super supportive that's awesome!

ICARUS: Yeah, my sister has been very supportive. My mom then tried to make me not come out to my dad by telling me that he was going to disown me because he lives in Alabama, which panicked me, so in tears I finally did come out to him and he was like "I would never do that, why would you believe her?" I was like "I don't know, she put it in my head"

ICARUS: My dad, while now accepting struggles with the pronouns and really doesn't get how dangerous it can be for trans people to travel to areas like Alabama sometimes so when I try to explain to him that I could be beaten up or arrested for going to the bathroom, he's like "I'll stop them!" and I am like "you're not listening, I know you want to think that, but no"

CAYLA: Good intentions but it's not quite that simple

ICARUS: It's like, father, you're old in your 60s, almost 70, and you're fat and you're in chronic pain, no, no you're not.

NATHAN: At least he's accepting and is like "I'm going to be there for you"

ICARUS: Yeah, which I really do appreciate. Mom still fights it and you can tell that she's fighting it because she does stuff like she used the wrong pronouns with the oncologists and then as the oncologists consistently used the correct ones, she eventually switches, but then they leave the room and she switches back. It's like "ah I see you want the respect of your colleague, but you don't give a shit about me"


CAYLA: Brutal

ICARUS: Boomers

CAYLA: Yeah. Where are living now, are you in Boston now?

ICARUS: No, I wish I was in Boston. Well no, I don't wish I was in Boston, I wish was in a suburb of Boston. I am in - if you look at a map of Massachusetts and you look at the big square part that's not by the water and you go to the exact middle and then go all the way to to the top, that's right about where I am.

CAYLA: So it's like a small town?

ICARUS: It's a small town, it's surrounded by lakes and fields and forests, which is what I like, because I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, I'm like "Please give me the woods out back!" but I wish I had done my homework on it, because we recently learned that one of our nearby towns and one that we share our police and fire with was a sundown town as late as the 70s!

HALLI: Oh my god!

NATHAN: ohhhh

ICARUS: Right? It's like "Ohhhhh now I know why the town pool mysteriously got shut down in the 70s. It wasn't quote unquote "out-of-towners"

CAYLA: Oh my god

ICARUS: But this town fortunately does not seem to be that way, anymore, there's still a lot of conservatives around here unfortunately. What are you going to do? It's rural America.

CAYLA: Do you feel relatively accepted there?

ICARUS: By the people, I give a shit about, yes

CAYLA: That's what matters

ICARUS: Like nice elderly neighbors, I get along with. The town council help me get to my radiation appointments, because you have to go every day for radiation when you have cancer. They were very cool. The brother of the little old lady, and there are people next door that are nice. But then there are people that have like Hitler quotes for bumper stickers and they're hard Trumpers and it's like I don't feel unsafe around those people, but I don't feel safe? Especially since I kind of trolled them? I keep my pride flags in the front window and I'm like "You're across the street, you're going to look at this every day. Every. damn. day" so when Biden got through his confirmation, the guy across the street came out in his jeep and knocked over our trash can with his jeep and drove away and it's like "okay, big man"

HALLI: Real mature! geez

ICARUS: Oh somebody really wanted the Q conspiracies to be true! "I'm going to go get a burger and I'm going to knock over your trash can! meh!"

HALLI: I feel that hard. We're kind of wedged in-between suburban and rural Ohio

ICARUS: Oh my gosh

HALLI: Yeah, so I know that feeling, it's a weird spot to be in

ICARUS: And Ohio has got almost the midwest coming in too

HALLI: I just can't even. Yup. It's a whole thing

ICARUS: I think my dad's family originally moved out of Ohio

HALLI: that was probably smart, that was probably a good move

ICARUS: You know what's better than Ohio? New Jersey!

CAYLA: Do you want to talk about your cancer? How'd that go?

ICARUS: How'd that go? *laughs* well! it was a great cancer as they say! No. Unfortunately the story of this ties to transphobia, because it was breast cancer and I had been saying a lot "I think I am going to get- I got to get these things off me, they're going to kill me!" and everyone was like "you're being so dramatic" and I was like "I'm not being dramatic! I'm not!" I actually wound up having a psych episode shortly after Trump went into office

ICARUS: I had a really bad EMT who was really mean to me, dead named me the whole way, and this is after I legally changed my name, so I don't why or how he had my dead name. He wouldn't let me get my ID, anything, he was just a dick. By the time we get to the ER, I'm not lucid, but I am crying and they wouldn't let my husband in my room because they wouldn't believe he was my husband. So he just kind of paced in the waiting room for like 3 hours and eventually I calmed down, but the main thing I was screaming when I called 911 was that I had an ovarian tumor or something "I have ovarian cancer, you need to get them out now"

ICARUS: Okay, I got the location wrong, but I was actually correct and no one did any screening in the ER because of the dick EMT being like "just some crazy kid". That went on for a while, it wasn't until I saw a top surgeon, like a cosmetic surgeon and I was like "Does this look normal to you?" and he was like "Noooo. You need a diagnostic mamo gram right away" and wrote the order and sent it to my regular doctor, who I had asked for a mamo gram from and had told me to just wait until my physical.

ICARUS: She saw the order for diagnostic and she put in routine, and the difference is, is there a doctor present to read it. Diagnostic yes, a doctor needs to be there to look at it in case something's wrong to look at it right away, routine, and the doctor gets to it next day. So nobody was there to look at it, so I had to wait another week and go back again and then they were like "Oh shit". They had to do an ultrasound and the nurse just stops and I am like "Ah, I see that, that's a big black blob. I know what that is" she went and got the doctor and I was like "oh you're getting the doctor, now I know" of course then they had to do like biopsies and stuff and staging and everything and by the time it was all done, I was stage 3


ICARUS: A lot of what people kept saying to me was "at least you caught it early" and I'm like "not really"

HALLI: Yeah, no!

ICARUS: There was a little bit in one lymph node and we had to go very aggressive with chemo. But I had really great care staff, the hospitals in Boston are extremely good, that's one thing Boston is very known for. And turns out cancer staff are the least transphobic staff, in any hospital, that I have ever met. They're all just very understanding and very nice. And I wonder if it's because patients typically experience dysphoria when going through chemotherapy? You hair falls out, you're constantly sick, you're body doesn't feel like your body, it feels like a thing you're fighting against.

ICARUS: I think they just find it like - oh yeah that makes total sense, I know exactly how you're feeling, or close to it. But they were all very lovely. I had to do chemo once every three weeks and then once every other week, because it was two different kinds and then I did radiation for months. Worst part hands down is when your eyelashes start to fall out. All the dust. They are the last thing to go, but they're the worst, like you read a book and you're like "my eyes are watering"

CAYLA: Oof, yeah that would suck, I am sorry

ICARUS: Yeah I know it's a dark topic and it definitely separates - when you go through it, the people who actually give a shit about you from the people that are just kind of like in it for, I don't know? They're hoping they can get free art from you or some shit?

CAYLA: Overall, how was your treatment?

ICARUS: I mean, it's done, I had my one year checkup recently, they said there's no signs of cancer recurring, I have to take a daily pill called tamoxifen, for the next four years and other than that, it took a long time for my hair to grow back, but, you know, it's done and there's not a whole lot of really terrible physical effects at this stage, past the one year mark

CAYLA: You feel mostly normal now?

ICARUS: Yeah, mostly normal, the biggest thing I noticed was from the radiation. The muscles where you get radiation get really damaged so they're really tight and tensed so I have to be very careful to make sure that I stretch the whole arm, that's on that side, otherwise it will get really stiff and crampy and very painful and bad

CAYLA: Is that something that will eventually go away? Or are you going to have a stiff arm forever?

ICARUS: I don't know. A lot of the stuff when you go through cancer, long term, they'll tell you "We'll deal with that when we get there" because it's very much like a "this is going to be the worst thing that's going to you in your life" and you're like "Uh huh" and they're like "It's going to be absolutely just terrible, you're going to be miserable for the next year" and you're like "Uh huh" and they're like "But it beats being dead" and you're like "Yes it does" and they're like "everything else, we'll deal with it when we get there" and I am like "ok"

CAYLA: You have a really good attitude about it, at least you can laugh at it, right?

ICARUS: Right? That's pretty much everyone - I mean I try to have a good attitude about it, because like what can you fucking do? Especially - and I think this is part of what freaked all the doctors out, was when they would tell me, when they would come to me and be like "It's cancer" in the beginning, they were expecting me to breakdown and cry and be all fucked over it, but I'm just like "Ah ha! I know" and they're like "Not what we were expecting in terms of reactions"

CAYLA: "I knew it!"

NATHAN: You're like "let me tell you my life story and you might understand"

ICARUS: Yeah, at that point I was sitting there and was like "You know what, I feel a lot like Apollo's Cassandra right now. Someone gifted me with the ability to tell truth and no one will believe it" I mean, I think honestly, it was probably a lot rougher on my spouse than it was on me, because I slept through a lot of the chemo, like you do a lot of sleeping because you're just so sick, but he toughed it out and he was able to take me to a lot of appointments, I think he still worries about me constantly, but what can you do? It's a thing to worry about

CAYLA: If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, there's only so much you can do, right

ICARUS: Yeah, yeah. Well at least now I have to go to the doctor all the time, so if something did go wrong, they'd catch it!

CAYLA: Yeah that's true, there's a positive there! Well is there anything else you want to share I guess? Because I think we have gone through your life now

ICARUS: Ummm. I still have a bunch of Zack and Cloud doujinshi

CAYLA: Oh my god, really?

ICARUS: Just in case you wanted to know. They just live on a shelf now, but I have them. Occasionally I will pull them down and be like "ahhh, the old anime porn" I tried to keep the ones that were silly, because I really like them. Or it's like - ok this is probably a deep cut into Final Fantasy and I don't know if any of you guys have played 7 recently enough to remember the part where Cloud is just catatonic in his wheelchair?

NATHAN: Oh yeah, yeah

CAYLA: I remember that

ICARUS: Ok so *cracks up* one of them, the shtick is, he's catatonic in his wheelchair and Tifa is trying to get through, she's like "Cloud, Cloud, talk to me" and she just grabs her boobs and starts wobbling them in his face and he's just still catatonic and then Sephiroth shows up and shoves her aside and his like "Let me!" and starts waving his penis in his face and Cloud is still like "enhhh" and it's just ridiculous shit like that

CAYLA: So good

ICARUS: It's like "ahh, problematic, but it's so funny, I can't help it". I'm immature, it's funny

CAYLA: Well thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story and everything

ICARUS: Thank you for having me