Monthly Archives: May 2015

Reading.

It’s this perfect day here. Yesterday was too, the quintessential Cape Cod beach day. Baxter and I went for a walk before the fog burned off and now are on the deck, under the sail, staying cooler than we would inside. I had been reading (I’m about half way through The Magician King) and I realized just the stupidest, simplest fact.

I’ve got a trivia brain. I like knowing a lot of things, and there’s not much out there that doesn’t interest me. It’s a good skill, and if it costs me in deep knowledge in favor of a wider basin, well, I can live with that tradeoff.  There are things I have an obsessive, detailed knowledge of, but in general I get so excited by the tiny things that I am constantly darting from topic to topic.

It’s the feeling I get when I’m reading a book and in some strange, oddly timed way it reaches out to touch the book I had just read. When I was in school, classes tied together like that; learning about x in history would reflect in the biography of y in lit, who would have been intimately involved in z in political science. I used to think this was cosmic but really it’s just that the world just isn’t that big, and the world of knowledge has widely been written by the same types of people so the overlap is enormous (this is partly why it’s so important to give time and acknowledgment to new voices and underheard voices).

Julia, in the Magician King, is struggling against depression when she can’t access the depth of knowledge she needs. She quotes a line from a John Donne poem to herself (“All these seem to laugh / compared to me, who am their epitaph”). It’s a poem she often quotes to herself. She is brilliant, a bona-fide genius, so it’s not really out of character for her to quote a long dead metaphysical poet, and of course there’s deeper meaning to the poem in re: her mindset, her outlook, her character. But also? Her brain is always questing. She describes it as hungry, all the time.

I’m not a bona-fide genius (see trivia brain) but my brain is always questing. And I realized the books I love, the writers I adore? They share that hunger. Scarlett Thomas, Susanna Clarke, Bill Bryson, Devil in the White City, Kate Beaton. There’s this delight that shines through about the DETAILS, the sheer breadth of things to know in this world.

 

On this perfect day, when I’m still in mourning and still go from day to day sometimes fine and sometimes not, I’m comforted by the idea that there is solidarity out there. That so many of us just want to be interested. There will always be more for me to learn.

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I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition. A couple of things, with LOTS of spoilers.

 

1) Blackwall. I replayed the Blackwall scene so many times that I was a mess. He was my romance, and I couldn’t decide whether to forgive him for his deception or not (allowing him to stay in the Inquisition was never a question, he’s the best tank hands down). I forgave him at first and then restarted because it sat so wrong. My inquisitor is kind, forgiving and doesn’t hold grudges, but also? She wouldn’t be with someone who would lie like that, who would (even in a moment of weakness) be responsible for the death of CHILDREN. Sorry, sir.

2) Solas. I never liked him, and jesus christ what the HELL SOLAS. He disapproved of almost every decision I made towards the end of the game (allowing Cole to be human, for example — Solas is so black and white about things). So screw it, I felt like my distrust was earned.

3) FLEMETH. Waaaaaaaaaat. If you’d played other Dragon Age games you’d understand that reaction.

4) Morrigan. No one trusts her but me. Blech. Could be trouble in DLCs.

5) Iron Bull, why you so hard to romance.

6) Dorian, I wish I could have kept you in my party.

7) Sera, playing pranks on the advisors was the best thing ever.

8) Leiliana, my dear. I’m glad you didn’t become Divine in my game as you went a bit mad at the end there, yeah?

9) Cullen, you were a good second fiddle to Iron Bull. Even though you’re a templar and I’m a mage, yikes.

I’m going to play the DLC and maybe do blog posts about it again? We’ll see!

Week in Photos, Week 3

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Green appears wherever it can, even under sewer grates.

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Neon Green.
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Chokeweed/Stichwort
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The TINIEST tree. No bigger than a fingernail, but growing gamely.IMG_0428

“Sarah’s coming,” I said, and in pavlovian fashion he licked his lips (no one shares more treats with Bax than Sarah)
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“Good morning on this glorious sunny day,” the insufferable morning person Payback said. “Does this look sunny to you?” the insufferable morning hater me said. “Sure,” he said, sending this back. “I think I’ve missed my calling.”IMG_0455

 

 

Why yes, Casey is wearing a gold tattoo of a watch displaying PARTY. IMG_0465

Everyone’s gone home, and this dog is very sad. IMG_0467

The woods are prehistoric in the merry month.IMG_0473

For truth, justice and a hard-boiled egg.

“You’d like Freedom, Truth, and Justice, wouldn’t you, Comrade Sergeant?’ said Reg encouragingly.
‘I’d like a hard-boiled egg,’ said Vimes, shaking the match out.
There was some nervous laughter, but Reg looked offended.
‘In the circumstances, Sergeant, I think we should set our sights a little higher–‘
‘Well, yes, we could,’ said Vimes, coming down the steps. He glanced at the sheets of papers in front of Reg. The man cared. He really did. And he was serious. He really was. ‘But…well, Reg, tomorrow the sun will come up again, and I’m pretty sure that whatever happens we won’t have found Freedom, and there won’t be a whole lot of Justice, and I’m damn sure we won’t have found Truth. But it’s just possible that I might get a hard-boiled egg.”

Week in photos

Featuring rainy woods, the web of my spirit animal, petal sheddings, the strange fern that keeps on growing, a shrine in the woods in Harwich, my favorite wildflower, and a very clean living room.

The art of cleaning, kinda

In my last BookRiot Quarterly box, there was a book called Being Mortal. It talks about how modern society doesn’t think about death. We think about cures and living longer and medical intervention. We put old people in antiseptic homes where they lose independence and control. We give lifesaving treatments that make life worse. And we don’t talk about dying.

I have a letter writing friend who is a med student doing some practical rotations and this is a big thing for her: palliative care, and telling people what to expect, and caring about quality of life

When grandma was dying, they didn’t talk about it with her. She knew, we all knew. Her health changed so rapidly it was frightening but they didn’t tell us what to expect. Hospice was there, so it wasn’t exactly a secret, but no one said “Look, here’s what to expect.”

It’s rough. And so this book really made me angry when I first picked it up — not at the book or the author or even the subject matter. More, just because the last thing I want to think about right now is death. Mortality. Illness. And I was therefore irrationally angry about all of it, wanted to throw the book away, give it away, shelve it and never read it.

But it had come up in my list and I had to read it. That’s the rules.

 

I’m 100 pages in and it’s quite good — I think worth reading, although I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has just suffered a death.

The reason I’m talking about it now though is I just started reading about what elderly people value (close relationships, family, day to day pleasures) versus what younger people value. It seems common sense — when you’re young you want to do everything, there’s all the time in the world, you crave new experiences. But overall, the book tells me, older people are happier. Their values give them more contentment.

I don’t want to let go of that long term goal of joy. I think it’s a good, healthy goal. But right now having that be a long term goal means I’ve pushed aside enjoying the moment, the small things. I bitched about it yesterday, after all: my days are structured and rigid and there’s no freedom because I see this time as a chore to be gotten through. But I’m robbing myself of contentment.

 

Things need to be done. This is a chore. Cleaning the house, which was in rather lousy shape to be honest, is something that needs doing. But I want to find the enjoyment in that. I finished the living room last night after (no lie) 14 hours of cleaning. It looks amazing, shining, despite the mismatched furniture, the couch that’s splitting its stuffing down the back, the tables that have been used roughly and lost some finish. It looks like the kind of place I would plop down and read a book, instead of the dusty, spiderwebby, dark room it had been. (this opens a whole can of squirmy, wormlike guilt that I don’t even want to think about). So as I start in on the kitchen, I’m going to try and remember that feeling. Clean, airy, ordered.

 

So I’m glad I’m reading this book after all.

 

Hopin’

I was walking through the woods this morning then one foot caught a twig and raised it up so that it stabbed the other foot through the top of my sneaker. (If it’s hard to picture, keep in mind that I’m pigeon toed and ungainly. Did you know my name means Grace? Ha, Ha, cosmic jokes.

I then hopped and swore and actually moaned my way through the rest of the walk because it was too far in to turn around. Baxter looked at me like I was mad. Well, I probably seemed it. Judgmental dog.

I am in pain. And I am so hungry for the end of this week that I don’t really have words for it. My week is almost over. One more day. It’s a 6 day week which isn’t really that big of a deal, especially considering the amount I’ve been off lately, but I’m dragging.

 

I just need to whine about it a little, and I’m sorry, but this is my life currently:

 

5:30, up with the dog.

6:00, in the woods for a walk

6:40, think about the plans for the day, make a to do list

7:00, shower, get ready for work

7:40, out the door

9:00, work

5:05, leave work

5:40, in the woods for a walk

6:20, start cleaning

7:30, break for dinner

8:00, laundry/clean/misc chores

9:00, in bed, read for ten minutes, asleep by 9:30

 

It’s not a hard schedule, nor particularly grueling. But there’s no time there for, you know, video games. Reading more than ten pages. Writing. And it’s not artificial busyness. I’ve been vacuuming on my hands and knees, the same spot over and over again. I’ve cleaned the heating registers, the bookcases, the windows. I’ve polished more wood. I’ve just done an all out cleaning.

Today an ad for an apartment popped up on Craigslist. $900, closer to work, adorable. I want it. I really, really want it. I’ve emailed and texted, just in case. And now I feel like I’m on pins and needles waiting for a response. All I want is my own space. For the first time, I can do so without feeling guilt. And it’s so hard because the Cape is insanely priced and I have a dog.

It sucks.

 

I want a spot that’s mine.

 

So I’m going to keep hoping, keep hoping that my luck turns, that things will shake out.

 

 

Making friends, Mostly.

  Still beat. One big body ache tonight. 

In snippets of free time, I’ve been plugging away at Dragon Age. I’m still enamored. I’ve liberated Crestwood again (I can’t wait to sit judgement on that mayor; I was horrified all over again at the scratches in the caves under the lake). I’m saving Josephine’s life by some clever sucking up to nobles, and leliana is rolling her eyes at all of it. Cassandra is happily reading her romance novels, courtesy of Varric who will love me forever for giving him that ammunition. Sera is proud of me every time I give the middle finger to some asshole rich’un, Iron Bull’s gotten me drunk, I’ve given Cole enough freedom to see his pranks are born of kindness, and Cullen has confessed his secrets to me. Blackwell has pledged his life and love, and even Vivienne thinks I’m sweet (I don’t like her, so she gets my rudest replies).

What I’m saying is I approached the game differently this second playthrough. Every few trips back to Haven or Skyhold, I stop by and say hello to everyone. I’ve made friendships, gained richness of story.

I have a point here. 

When I first started playing WoW, it was the same. I didn’t even turn on the ability that showed you all the quest text at once. Instead I let it roll across the page, reading along. And then I got impatient and it became about the leveling, not the story. And I didn’t realize how much I missed a good story.

Then I played Lifeline. It’s a little app designed for the Apple Watch but playable on any iOS device. And there are zero graphics. There’s no fighting. There’s no fancy voice overs.  What there is is an astronaut named Taylor, marooned on a moon out in the solar system somewhere. And you’re the only one he can talk to. 

So for three and a half days, I got texts from Taylor. He’d tell me about his day, his thoughts, his struggles. “Should I beat the galley door down, or sleep?” Or “should I save these pain pills? My shoulder really hurts.” Taylor is hilarious. He’s snarky and smart and scared, and I grew fond of him, determined to keep him alive. 

Zero graphics. An amazing story.
I love beautiful games. But there’s a lot of talk right now at how undervalued writing is in video games, and man. I didn’t realize how true that was until I started missing it. Dragon Age is great, actually. It’s beautiful and the story is…decent. But what sets it apart is the depth of characterization, although it sure is whitewashed. It’s written well enough that I feel a connection to these characters. I want them to like me. I practiced the fire at Haven until I could save all the civilians. 

I want to play more games with more story. Even if they’re slower. Even if I don’t get to finish them in a week, a month. Let me dive in. Make it worth it for me to read. More of this.

O green world, don’t desert me now.

Details in my greening woods.

Every day baxter and I walk, morning and night. And because its the same path, the same time of day, it’s stunning to see the changes as they appear. Froth. Every spring froths over, bubbling up in buds and shoots until suddenly: green. We’re sixty percent of the way there in these woods, although I know if I went to Crowe’s Pasture it’d be closer to 80%. The Cape is weird, one coast to another.

 

I’m so damn tired tonight. I don’t get uninterrupted sleeps much anymore for various reasons, and Baxter is up and ready for his walk before 6. Work’s crazy busy and my feet ache, and I come home and clean for an hour or more, polishing and scrubbing and rearranging in some sort of penance.

 

It’s 8. I’ll probably be asleep in an hour. All I really want is to relax.

Go on.

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I am healing. I know this because I’m only cripplingly anxious 92% of the time instead of 100%. I know this because suddenly it’s May and we’re careening towards summer, car with no brakes style, and I’m ok. I know I’m healing because I only burst into tears twice a day now.

What I’m saying is this all sucks.

Today I feel good, though. I woke up at 5:45, was walking the dog by 6:10, and had a leisurely hour to fully wake up and get on the road for work. I’ve gotten stuff done at work that’s been hanging over me for weeks, and that feels good too. I feel BETTER. It comes and goes.

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& there are comforts. I spent most of April traveling, on vacation and for work. I wasn’t at home a whole lot and maybe that was good, and maybe that means I got better about saying yes to things. I physically travelled a lot (including 2 long train rides which are the best for long form thinking) and being outside of my normal realm was like a brain bath.

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And it made coming home sweeter, because I found energy to start back up on the million things that need to be done in the house (current focus: living room. I want the living room, sun room, kitchen, bathroom and Sarah’s room SPARKLING before memorial day). I’ve already gotten through the awful sorting of the living room and now I’m in the cleaning and polishing (taking shelves out of the built ins, cleaning everything, putting things back, rearranging) phase. That’s actually not the worst phase. It’s comforting to get stuff done.

IMG_0226Going forward — well. I am finishing Dragon Age on my own time because I haven’t the energy to go back and figure out where I left off. But I’ll be playing Minecraft again sometime, I have a  personal coach lined up for hearthstone (hah!), and I have an iOS project I’m thinking about. I miss being in this space. Along with that, I plan to do a weekly photo wrap up, because that forces me to take more, better pictures. And I plan to take a lot.

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