Monthly Archives: September 2014

September, I’ll Remember

I’ve been very productive this month, which is to say I’ve been following my to do lists with a near religious fervor. It’s kind of great in that I feel really on top of everything like a high functioning adult, but it has a weird side effect — I feel guilty when I do anything that isn’t on my to list, even if I’ve already finished everything for the day. Because my brain is frankly bonkers, I guess.

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I thought I was in a gaming drought. I was just complaining to Payback about it, because no games are really grabbing my attention, and I don’t feel that “can’t wait to get home and play that!” feeling about anything I own. But I think the two are linked. I relentlessly schedule my time, so my brain has dismissed gaming as unimportant. Thinking about it made me want to play Mass Effect, though, so I guess it’s all fine and I’m back on track.

Elsewise, I’m still pretty pleased with September. This week was a bit of a thorny one with some work stresses and family scares but everything seems to be copacetic and the stresses just delivered some healthy perspective.

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Last night was such a taste of the fall I love. It was a grey day with fitful rain and I drove home on 6A — the roads were coated with yellow leaves, I had to have my headlights on and the air smelled rich. There was enough of a pause between storms that I could take the dog for a walk in the woods and it just smelled amazing, loam and leaves and dirt and water. And the geese complaining from the pond, the birds fighting in the undergrowth. It’s all very much a picture perfect Cape Cod fall evening. I know I shouldn’t complain about the stretch of beautiful weather we’ve had, but a rainy day suits my soul sometimes, right down to the roots.

It’s a bustling Friday with four one on ones (three for me). Saturdays are such a blessing with their lack of teaching. It’s the day I research all the questions that stumped me during the week (why do browsers see pages documents as folders and not files? Why does this iPhoto refuse to keep slideshows in order?) and sometimes even do some self training, if I’m feeling extra virtuous.

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D’you know that next week is October? Once I recover from the shock, I’d like to get a more regular posting schedule. Sheesh.

Frankly weird ads.

The world has been extra absurd lately, but the good news is it has sometimes been absurd in hilarious ways. Driving into work this morning I was baffled by an ad for our local Tex-Mex place wherein an interviewer was talking to a “Naturalist,” which in this case meant nudist. The nerdy-sounding naturalist complained a bit about the heat — heat being bad for nudists, due to leather. “Yes,” sympathizes the announcer, “must leave a mark.” “Yes! It leaves a mark on me…and the leather!” agrees the nudist. None of this made me feel particularly hungry, and I am even now questioning if I heard it or DREAMT it, but I was charmed in a bemused sort of way. Small town advertising is so great sometimes.

Also pretty great are the episodes of Wooster and Jeeves (ok, ok, Jeeves and Wooster but that does NOT trip off the tongue in quite the same way Mr. Wodehouse) that I’ve been rewatching. This is just a superbly funny show, completely absurd in ALL the best ways. I’ve been texting my brother throughout the rewatch because I’ve been so charmed by it all. This is what happens when I know you watch a tv show that I ALSO watch. Wise people should stay away. I will text for days.

imponderablenewt dancei wish the whole world were a newt(Although it wasn’t Bingo Little starting the congo chain, it was Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps) (also, such a well filmed show — when Bertie and Gussie are discussing Madeline a few minutes later, you can see Barmy and another Drones Club member I can’t identify practicing the move in the back, presumably attracting the attention of the future congo liners).

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But anyway. Life is serene(ish) at the moment. I’ve got a nasty head cold, which left me cranky and somewhat feverish last night. We’ve had few outrageous customers this week, making my no complaining rule easier to hew to. Except, there was the one guy who left his tabs full of porn open prior to coming in with an issue.

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This may be the best month of the year, although October gives it a run for its money. Cool nights, perfect light, still enough time post work to go for a trot with the dog, the return of energy, the return of motivation…I could wrap this month up and keep it in my pocket for all time and be happy.

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Football

The weather finally changes over to fall tonight, for a few days at least. It’s muggy, grey and fitfully spitting out there, summer throwing a temper tantrum. I drove to work pleased as punch with the relative lack of other people, even on a Saturday — the out of town plates that did appear all in a hurry to make it to the bridge before everyone else.

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And just in time for cool weather, football. Football, the sport I feel awful for loving but adore anyhow, in the same way that I can’t morally justify eating meat but do so anyway. I’ll spend Sunday with the games on and the windows open to fresh air, NOT air conditioning. Choo and I have a solid fantasy football team this year with the possibility of being a great one if a couple of key players live up to ability, so Sundays will be a delight again. Plus, I have a regular weekend, and that’s pretty damn awesome too.

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Monday the pup and I will wander the fall like woods in the morning when it will still be in the 50s. The moss is going through a growth spurt, all pale green and starry, getting ready for the long winter. The trees are throwing off leaves here and there. The ground sounds hollow under our feet. (Actually, that last one I don’t get, and it’s not seasonal — on one of our walks, the earth sounds hard packed and hollow. It’s all cedar trees there, maybe they have deeper roots that have hollow spots? Or maybe hobbits live under there, who knows).

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All my life I’ve loved September. It’s a month of possibility, in the same way that January is. I love learning so I actually usually started the school year fairly happy (or perhaps I’ve dreamed this, blocking out the bad memories in the same way that most of my friends and I can’t remember much of junior year). I even have a soundtrack consisting of exactly one song, the same song I’ve been listening to since 8th grade. I’ve driven to college with it, through the sleepy berkshires. I’ve sullenly listened to it on a train back to the very hot DC. It calms me down and somehow speaks fall in every language.

 

Sorry. Florid.

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By the by, my determination to not be such an asshole even in the privacy of my own head has been tried sorely but ultimately made me feel better for a few days now. The obnoxious customers, the bad drivers, the frustrating hours teaching fade a lot faster. And my patience seems to be growing, too — aside from the Gamergate story that I follow because it’s important, I’ve started to lose the taste for following drama and outrage. You can teach yourself new habits, although possibly not in just three days.

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I’m down to 100 pages in Winter’s Tale, and the story that the back flap promised has just begun to take shape which is an important lesson in how terrible back flaps can be at describing anything ever. One character has climbed to the ceiling of stars in grand central station, another is riding through the snow wastes with the mayor of new york and a sled full of paintings, a third is just beginning to recover his memories. What a beautiful book.

Frustrated.

I guess it’s possible I’m still burnt out.

I’ve had a vacation (in April/May) and I just had a mini vacation. That should be enough to recharge anyone but I’m not recharged. I’m frustrated. Perspective and a good attitude are a constant struggle, I guess. I can’t stop being thin skinned about everything. I have actually really great coworkers, not a single person I dislike across the company. How rare is that? Our owner of just over a year is a hands on, very smart man who I trust to be fair to us. I live on Cape Cod and I have a non seasonal job with a good boss. Let me emphasize just how rare that is. It’s rarer than a very rare thing indeed. It’s rarer than a good analogy.

But, the jerks I deal with get to me so easily — and that they’re outnumbered by neutral or even good people doesn’t seem to help. The 9000000000 year old man who accused me of hacking his computer? Logically, that should have just been something to laugh off after he left the store because it IS kind of hilarious (the “hack” he experienced was a phishing email). But these incidents make me this enormous ball of rage that lowers my patience for the regular people, the ones who just are clueless and not actively obnoxious.

I want to preorder the new iPad.
It hasn’t been announced, we don’t even know that there will be one.
But it was on TV! I saw it on TV!

My inclination lately has been to mock. I thought it was making me feel better, letting the steam off. But actually, I think it makes me feel worse. Sure, it’s annoying when people swallow Apple rumors hook line and sinker, but it’s hardly a monstrous behavior. It’s definitely frustrating when people come in super angry about minor problems, but that anger is rooted in fear, and I get that.

Oh I can’t come in, I live all the way in Harwich!

Everyone’s gotta complain sometimes. I have so little patience for the people twenty minutes away who act like they are all the way in Boston. But this constant annoyance, it’s clearly not doing me any favors. I don’t like who I am, ragey all the time. There are things worth getting worked up about and there are things that aren’t. I admire the coworkers I’ve got who don’t let things get to them because a) they see how absurd it is and b) know it doesn’t really matter.

Meanwhile, I started off yesterday with an email that instantly put my back up, and I wrote what I thought was a reasonable reply but then fretted about for a few hours (the customer thought it was a reasonable reply too, so it was actually fine). Today started out better — the sweetest, happiest customer I’ve EVER had, the one that everyone remembers, wrote.

 Hi Dear Annie,

it started.

I’m so glad you were off, you deserve it a lovely vacation!

Talk to you later, alligator!!

it ended. Sure, she sounds like a kindergarden teacher in her emails, but really, how great is that? How great is being so happy that your emails just bubble over with it? I could do with being a bit more like her. Time to shut down the GlaDOS in my head for a while.

Fall.

It’s September! I can take left turns (HAR har the joke I’ll hear for the next three months, especially this week and the week after Columbus Day jesus christ Cape Codders get some new material) (I think I made that joke myself last year, though, so who am I to judge).

I’m nearly done with a Winter’s Tale, and I love it. It’s the hottest week of the summer, and the icy landscapes are a total charm (I suspect I’d be charmed anyway, even in the dead of winter, because this does feel like the kind of epic tale told over a fire). The middle section of the book reminded me of If On A Winter’s Night a Traveller, which drew you into a story and then yanked you out just as you got involved. It feels like a very deft weaving, though, where the entire pattern is the city, and you know the threads will meet up again. I don’t love New York City, not more than my beloved Boston, but it’s hard not to love THIS version of it, huge and teeming and indifferent.

(Also, I felt a bit of obnoxious pride when I caught “Stately, plump Marcel Apend” as the literary reference that it is, although any English major forced to read Ulysses would recognize it, it being the often quoted first line of that entire book, so really I shouldn’t have been proud, shouldn’t have smugly chuckled to myself like a pretentious ass. I’m not proud. I am sometimes a pretentious ass and that’s just the way things are).

Meanwhile, with this little flood of end of summer energy, I’ve been dabbling in a lot of games lately. Borderlands was on a very sharp sale on Steam, so I downloaded one and two to play with Payback and e4. I think it has one of the best intros to any video game ever? And I love the art style. Next gen graphics are great and all, but we’re still edging too close to uncanny valley to do it for me just yet. I LOVE this pulp look. I’m no fps superstar, but I hold my own. Any game to play with friends is pretty great!

We downgraded ourselves to Worms Reloaded as well because it’s much less laggy (though not really less buggy) than clan wars. I remain terrible at grenades but improving elsewhere.
I’m also making my way through the games I own. I devoured The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds which hit all my favorite Zelda feels. The music, the story, the familiar characters and places…oh, Zelda. (Although I still can’t make myself finish Spirit Tracks because it is just AWFUL). I replaced it with Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, which makes me want to replay all the games from the beginning because I forget so much damn lore.

It’s been a bad week for women (and, really, reasonable people) in games, and after reading a series of tweets about “gamergate” I lost it in a long rant that will do absolutely nothing but did make me feel better. I don’t have a big voice in the industry, obviously, and I’ve never really tried to. I have a modest readership that has probably all evaporated when I didn’t post for 30 days or whatever. But games have been such a central part of who I am for so long that I feel grossed out and horrified by what’s happening. I don’t know how the public faces do it. I don’t know how they live with that kind of hate and go on to create more, to speak out, to even stay where they are. They’re growing a tough skin that they shouldn’t have to.

It bears repeating, because the thought is getting lost in the panic of this vocal minority: It’s ok to like problematic media. There’s almost no media that isn’t problematic in one way or another, after all. It’s ok to have differing opinions, it’s ok for different styles of games to coexist, or for tv shows or movies to appeal to different people. They can all be super enjoyable and fun and still have issues in their representation of real people, or real issues. Even good, representative games or tv shows or movies sometimes fall victim to common tropes, you know? And sometimes tropes are ok, it’s not like they should always and forever be avoided, but sometimes they’re just habit.

 

Anyway, had to get back into posting one way or another…

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