Monthly Archives: September 2013

Demand to see life’s manager.

Life’s been giving me a lot of attitude lately and I don’t seem to have the required sass to … sass life back. That sentence got off track somewhere in the middle. It probably got off track when I started it. I’m trying to convince my brain to think like Cave Johnson (who was full of sass). DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I’M THE MAN WHO’S GOING TO BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN. WITH THE LEMONS.

I’m still kinda wading in the crisis mode area of living and that saps your energy. It would probably shock no one to know just how much energy fretting takes up. Even on a slow day at work by the time I get home I’m almost completely drained, because when it’s slow I have time to worry.

But this weekend, this lovely, much wished for weekend, I have nothing planned. I have nothing I have to do. Of course there are things I probably should be doing, but I’m giving myself a break and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. My last few “free” days weren’t really free — they were filled with good things, mostly, but I really need a couple of days where I don’t talk to anyone. Maybe not even the dog. (He doesn’t require a lot of conversation but he does require some. He gets huffy if you ignore him and REALLY huffy if he feels he hasn’t gotten his required pets for the day, which equal about as many pets as you can pet before your arm falls off).

I have three hours left in this work week. I’ve got three books lined up for the weekend, along with finishing my top gear rewatch and finishing playing Ocarina (I’m in the spirit temple now, so nearly). I’m going to NEST this weekend. Windows open (70 during the day, 50 at night), blankets piled up, tea and popcorn, the whole nine yards. Extroverts just won’t understand how amazing that sounds to me right now. It probably sounds depressing to them: not speaking for 48 hours. But introverts understand: the recharge time has been seriously lacking and I need it desperately. The crisis built so slowly that I didn’t realize how long I was living it till it (kind of) ended. I haven’t truly relaxed for months. I’ll be honest: I seriously thought about renting a hotel room to completely disconnect, but any of the non-seedy Cape places are still pricey on weekends since the season hasn’t quite wrapped.
I’m struggling to put into words what things feel like right now. I’m fine — more than fine. I’m happy at work (got a raise!), I’m feeling challenged and fulfilled most days, it’s my favorite season. When I haven’t had a chance to recharge, though, I start feeling like the world is too full of stories, too big, and I feel a bit overwhelmed. The silence lets me put things into their proper proportions again, so a traffic jam and a tragedy don’t feel equally unbearable.

Naval Gazing: Zelda

Everything I ever learned about gaming I learned from Zelda. I paused in my Bioshock play because, honestly, the idea of sitting in front of a computer for more than ten seconds at a time is abhorrent to me right now. Well, I say abhorrent, but what I mean is I have no focus and all my energy is still being used up on the whole surviving and taking care of myself thing, and less so on anything that requires thought. Which isn’t to say that I’m down in the dumps or anything; things are improving and my mood is ok but I haven’t shaken myself out of crisis mode, and there are still times when I feel overwhelmed by unreasonable panic. So I’ve focused all my energy on taking really, really good care of myself, and right now that includes not shouldering any unnecessary tasks — things that feel like a chore. But curling up in bed with a 3ds and Ocarina of Time, that I can do. It’s five minute play blocks followed by half an hour of reading twitter. It’s GREAT.

The Zelda series rewards exploration, non-linear thinking and checking everything. Twice. Three times. EVERY TIME YOU PASS BY THAT SPOT TRY TO PUSH THE GRAVE AGAIN. That statue you see might not move now, but down the line it’ll open a dungeon. The rocks you can’t blow up you can pick up and toss when you get the special gloves. Eventually, you get so familiar with the small world Link travels in that you could walk it in your sleep. In my Ocarina replay, I could probably make the trek from Lon-Lon Ranch to the palace without looking at the screen. I could certainly make it to Lake Hylia and back to Death Mountain in a brisk and efficient manner, and the timed quests present absolutely no difficulty. Because you spend so much time in each location, the excellent music imprints itself on you, until the Lost Woods theme soothes you and the Forest Temple theme makes you feel uneasy. I can understand why video game concerts are so popular. Music can elevate a game completely.*

Plus, Zelda has one of the best creepypastas out there: Ben Drowned.

When I still had energy for MMOs, I was a total achievement chaser. It was that same Zelda trained urge — do everything. Get every heart piece. Kill every skulltula. Buy every special piece of gear. In non-MMOs, I finally broke the urge to get 100%, but I still spend a lot of time exploring nooks and crannies, hoping to find something cool. Exploration helped me find the Turret symphony in Portal 2. It helped me beg mages and warlocks to get me underneath Stormwind back in BC. I still wish I had taken the time to explore under Kara and see the Hall of Upside Down Sinners in person. I also have a huge amount of patience; I’ll spend an hour wandering four rooms to figure out a puzzle before I’ll consider looking it up online.*

I’m still relearning my way into single players. I played WoW for long enough that non social games felt a little empty and I didn’t have the attention span for them. But I’m enjoying them now, enjoying the way I can play when I have time, even if it’s just five minutes. I’m sure when things settle down again I’ll want to get back to those social games, but for now single player is the distraction I need.


* FTL is a charming game with lo-fi graphics and an AMAZING soundtrack. I would never have made it through the first few plays without that music. Also, Final Fantasy — I think those of us who didn’t cut our teeth on Zelda probably did so on FF, which had an equally amazing soundtracks. The chocobo song still makes me twitch as I remember the hours spent breeding ’em.

* In Portal 2 co-op, there is a hellish level. This level involves light bridges, platforms and slanted walls, and the solution is so blindingly simple that I have never felt dumber. But my partner and I spent an absurd amount of time on this level, banging our heads together and wondering what the hell we were missing. If I had looked up the solution, I would still be hating myself today. The moment we figured it out it was like sunshine coming out.

Things that seem huge at the time.

I keep writing and abandoning things. Half an email to a friend, forever left in the drafts folder. Tweets edited to be under 140 characters, and then edited again to not exist. Texts pending to people (do they see the … of a pending tweet and get annoyed?). It’s such a hard line between letting everything out and also respecting the privacy of people I care about and also also not hurting anyone any more than they are already hurting. Since I don’t feel comfortable spilling details out, I am not writing at all — and I don’t want to do that anymore. It used to be that I wrote all the time, and I like going back and reading about the things that seemed enormous and all consuming at the time that have since faded away. Welcome to Night Vale, in between all the weirdness, sometimes is comforting:

“But, and I’m going to get a little personal here, that’s the essence of life. Isn’t it? Sometimes you go through things that seem huge at the time, like a mysterious glowing cloud devouring your entire community, and while they’re happening, they feel like the only thing that matters, and you can hardly imagine that there’s a world out there that might have anything else going on.
And then the Glow Cloud moves on. And you move on. And the event is behind you. And you may find, as time passes, that you remember it less and less. Or, absolutely, not at all, in my case. And you are left with nothing but a powerful wonder at the fleeting nature of even the most important things in life, and the faint but pretty smell of vanilla.”

Towards the end of my grandmother’s illness, when the comfort pack from Hospice was already in the fridge and helping her walk from one end of the hallway to another left me shaking every morning, I learned that I handle crisis pretty well. I got frustrated and selfish and annoyed in my head, but I could push it aside for when I had time to be a bit of a baby. I also have a fairly deep well of patience and compassion to draw on when needed. Right now, though, I’m really struggling to get anything out of that well, which doesn’t make me feel too good about myself.

It’s especially hard when the people you love are all in the same boat. You worry about them and then you worry about yourself and you know they’re doing the same thing, this web of worry (and love, which is the silver lining) connecting us all. And that silver lining is pretty big; I’m lucky to have the family I do.


In other news, I finished Half Life 2 and was filled with incoherent annoyance at the ending (due to the absence of a Half Life 3, not due to a poor ending. Although the mechanics of that last fight made me roll my eyes). Now I’m on to Bioshock, which I am playing poorly.

 

But enjoying. I have enough play recorded from my first two days with the game to take a second video. I’m very carefully not calling it a let’s play because I don’t play on a let’s play level. Yet. Maybe when I make it through my current game backlog (which somehow keeps growing…)

 

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