Underneath my yellow skin

Feeling icy about Iceborne

It’s not Fashion Borne, but it’ll have to do.

Ian and I have been  chatting about Iceborne. He’s loving it, and I’m….um….playing it. A little. Reluctantly. Back when I was playing the base game, he gave up on it much sooner than I did. Then at some point, he jumped back in and finished the storyline. We have very different ways of approaching games, and I think it was to his benefit in this case. He tends to play several games at once, even before he was in the industry, whereas I might dabble a bit, but I usually focused on one game at a time. This works well for me in FromSoft games, and even then, I find myself approaching burnout near the end of each game. For whatever reason, that goes away, and I play the games over and over. Well, to be more precise, the Souls games. I’m currently stalled on my most recent Sekiro playthrough because it takes so much out of me, and I have to be at my best to play it. I’m rarely at my best.

So, Ian is loving Iceborne whereas I’m trying to love it. He’s put about half to a third as much time into the base game as I have, and he recently completed the Banbaro set. He’s maining the Insect Glaive, which is one of my two backup weapons. Charge Blade is the other. One of my issues, I insisted on clinging to my gear from the base game, even though I had read that you should immediately make new gear in MR. I mean, it makes sense. I had to do it back when I made the jump from LR to HR. It was one of the things most discussed–don’t bother grinding out all the gear in LR because it’ll be useless in HR.

The thing, is, though, HR is many hours more than LR. By the time I was done with HR, I had fourteen Switch Axes all fully upgraded and dozens of loadouts. One for each monster. It’s not an economy  issue because I have over 2,000,000z and over a hundred and fifty thousand research points. I have mats for days, although my using the elder melder to make some of the rarer resources on the regular seriously cut into my Great Jagras mats. The point is that I can’t get over feeling as if I wasted my time in HR. I finally gave in and made MR armor and the basic bone swaxe. They already do more damage/have more defense than my fully-upgraded HR gear. Intellectually, I understand why this is the case, but emotionally, it’s a hit.

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It’s just a fantasy

I am mostly better from the cold I had, but I feel as if I’m on the cusp of something else. I know it’s a vicious cycle, but any time I go out, I get something that makes me feel worse than before. It’s one of the problems with not interacting with people on a regular basis. I have a shitty immune system, and it has no chance to improve because I don’t allow it to interact with bad things on the regular. On the other hand, I am allergic to everything under the sun, so my instinct is to wrap myself in a bubble so I won’t get hurt. The reason I got my cats in the first place was because I decided since I was allergic to everything and miserable all the time, I might as well get cats. Yes, I was allergic to them, but they would make me less miserable. I’m actually not that allergic to my cat now unless he decides to sit on my face, which he does from time to time when I have a pillow over my face.

I’m really frustrated right now. I’ll be real with you. Why? Well, I’m going to tell you. One, depression. It’s low grade, but persistent, and it saps much of my energy to do anything. Two, my physical health. I’ve been sick more than healthy it seems in the past year, and it’s just draining as well. Three, the intersection of the two and how it makes me not want to do anything. I’m trying to push past it and change the way I think, but it’s not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to even get me out the door, not to mention driving to the place I need to be. I haven’t even gone to the co-op since I got sick, for example, because it’s too much effort. It’s fifteen minutes away, but I can’t make myself do it.

I have a hard time not castigating myself for doing more, which is not the best motivation. The taiji demo showed me so many things I want to do, but I just don’t have the capacity to do them all. I set the goal of learning the Sabre Form this year. I am at the end of the fourth row (there are six), and this is where I stopped the last time I was learning the Sabre Form. Two years ago. The end two postures of the fourth row are insane, but in a good way. Part of the problem the first time I learned the Sabre Form was because I was fully expecting it to be like the Sword Form. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that it wasn’t, and it made the whole experience sour for me. This time going in, I fully realized it was a very different beast, and I fell in love with it immediately. I had to have that extra experience under my belt before I could really get the Sabre Form.


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Adjusting expectations and dealing with an emergency

Yesterday was the taiji lunar new year demo at my teacher’s teacher’s studio. I didn’t hear about it until last Saturday because I hadn’t been in class due to my sickness. I was caught off-guard because I like to plan things well ahead of time and because I was still feeling iffy. I had missed the last few demos, though, due to health reasons, and I really wanted to go this time. I just didn’t know if I could endure, and I didn’t want to embarrass my teacher in front of her teacher. In addition, we had a snowstorm on Friday that lingered into Saturday (the day of the demo), and the winds were up to 45 mph. I was talking myself out of it, but I really felt I should go. Not only to represent my teacher, but because there was going to be a ton of weapon forms. I had to set some ‘rules’ for myself so that I would feel ok going.

The first was that I could go at any time. One of my issues is that if i go to something, I feel  have to stay for the whole thing. I have to deliberately give myself permission to leave, and weirdly, that makes me enjoy it more. I don’t have to be uptight and agonizing about how I’ll make it to the end. I can stay ten minutes or half an hour, or I can stay until the end if I’m up to  it. That way, I don’t feel trapped, and I’ve used it to a good effect for the past couple events I’ve gone to.

Secondly, I had to tell myself that I didn’t have to do anything. There were three things I knew well enough to participate in, the Solo Form, the Sword Form, and the first section of the Fast Form. Funnily enough, they were the first three performances of the afternoon, one right after the other. The thing is, I really wanted to do the Sword Form. I had not participated in it before even though I’ve known it for years, and I wanted to show my teacher’s teacher that she was a damn good teacher in her own right. As my classmate said, we have to represent the Seven Stars. The problem was that the Solo Form was first, and I knew if I did that, I would not be able to do the Sword Form. I did not have the energy for both of them.

Let me be real with you. I felt the need to show what I could do. Why? I don’t  know. No one cared but me, but it was in the back of my mind. I don’t take any classes at my teacher’s home studio even though it’s in the same building and I’m able to take any of the classes, and I am very competitive–though I try to keep it to myself. I had to tell myself that I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. My teacher knew where I was at, and that was really all that needed to happen. Even more to the point, I knew where I was at. I know some of my insecurity is because I’ve missed so many classes in the last two years. Plus, there’s a woman in the home studio who I found out started roughly the same time I did, and she’s so much further. It’s hard for me because I know it’s all on me, but I want to be so much further than I am.

I ended up skipping the Solo Form and the first section of the Fast Form. I did the Sword Form, and I felt good once it was over. I did not make any major mistakes, and I definitely looked like I was one of the crew. I didn’t bring my own sword because it would have been one more thing to make me anxious–keeping track of it and making sure I didn’t leave it behind. There are plenty of practice swords in the studio, so I just grabbed one of them. I will admit a second of feeling embarrassed because I normally practice with my stainless steel sword, but I brushed it to the side. I did the Sword Form to the best of my ability, and I was pleased once we were done. I didn’t hit anyone, though I came close, and I remembered all the movements. I call that a win.

I had a mini panic when I arrived at the studio because I could not find my key fob. It wasn’t in the pocket it was supposed to be, and I couldn’t find it in the other pockets, either. Since I had been at the tire shop on Friday, I thought maybe I left it in the cup holder in the car. Nope. I spent five minutes rootling around in my car, but I could not find it. In desperation, I checked the original pocket again, and I found a hole in the corner. My key had slipped into the hole, and while I was relieved to find it, I also was grumpy about the hassle it caused.


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Time to play Bloodb–er, Iceborne!

LOOK HOW CUTE I AM!

Back when I was engrossed in Monster Hunter World, I was obsessed with it even when I wasn’t playing. It’s my personality in general that I consume one game at a time (or one anything). I put in so many hours into that game, and much of it was me happily grinding or doing side quests rather than finish the main storyline. I prefer to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and since I play most of the game solo, it’s all on me. And Shadow. My loyal Palico. Palico armor is one of my favorite parts of the game, by the way. I always made sure to outfit him first before making my own armor. Right now, Shadow is running around in the Bandaro armor no matter what monster I am tackling because it is by far the cutest armor in the game so far.

When the DLC/expansion was announced, I was hyped. But then time went on, and my hype faded. If I’m to be honest, I soured on MHW at the end of my time with it. I had reached the Tempered Elder Dragon part of the game, and it wasn’t fun at all. Doing it solo was really hard, but doing it with a random team was hellish. You have to work together with something that difficult, and, yeah, it was frustrating to play with randos. In addition, I was specced to deal with the Elder Dragons by having a High Elderseal on my weapon, which meant they didn’t do their ultimate much if at all. As Tempered Elder Dragons, they seemed to ignore my High Elderseal, which meant I was unprepared for the ulti. In addition, I am specced with an insane amount of defense and vitality (definitely the former and lesser so the latter). I was able to be one-hit by the ult, and that’s not fun for me. I felt as if I were being punished for playing the game my way, and I quit after a nightmare of a time with Tempered Vaal Hazak. I think part of the problem was that I didn’t have much trouble with the regular one–he was not the hardest Elder Dragon by far–so I was not prepared by the Tempered Elder Dragon version.

I did not want to relearn the Elder Dragons, so I quit. When the Geralt mission came to the PC, I had a curious reaction to it. I wanted to play it because Geralt is my video game bae and the OG monster hunter, but I…I did not want to play more Monster Hunter World. I was burned out, and what’s more, I did not want to relearn the game. I had been playing Sekiro when it came out (I think. It might have been Dark Souls III), and it was really difficult to go from a FromSoft game to MHW. There was a time when I was trying to play both MHW and DS III, and that was not a good time. I did not enjoy the Geralt mission, though I did complete it, and I only did it once. Originally, I was going to do it more so I could get the armor and the weapon, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

That’s actually how I knew I was over the game. When I was into it, I would check in for every fest and do all the daily challenges and get the special armors and whatnot. When the latest fests came around, I just couldn’t be stuffed to do them. It seemed more of a chore than a want, and I said, nah.

So, yes, I was hyped when the Iceborne expansion was announced, but I had a niggling worry in the back of my mind. Why? I’ll tell you. One, it was G rank. Actually, it’s called Master Rank. I had already hit my ceiling with Tempered Elder Dragons, so what the fuck was I going to do with Master Rank? Two, the end of MHW exhausted me. I wasn’t having any fun, and it was tedious. In addition, the expansion initially released only for consoles. That was back in August, I think. Late August? Nope. September 6th, so I was close. I didn’t watch too much of the coverage because I don’t like to be spoiled, and my excitement faded. More than faded. It completely disappeared.

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The more things change…part three

Last week, I wrote about how there are several things in my life that have changed without me actively trying to enact said change. Most of them I put down to taiji, and there’s one more I want to add to the list. It’s a weird one, but it’s fascinating–at least to me. Let’s talk about my hair for a minute. I don’t like much about the way I look, but my hair is my shining glory. Funnily, I mostly keep it in a bun these days, but I feel badass when I have it down. For at least a decade, it fell to my waist, just above my ass. In the past year or two, it’s grown about eight inches and now it falls past my ass. I thought I was making things up, but, no, my hair is appreciably longer now. I’m excited about it, but also a bit weirded out. I haven’t changed any of my hair regime, so what’s the difference?

At first, I said taiji. Why? Because that’s my go-to for anything positive in my life. It’s true 85% of the time, so it’s not a bad shout. This time, however, I don’t think I can give credit to taiji. Instead, I think it’s beacuse I drastically changed my diet two and a half years ago by cutting out dairy and gluten. I also cut out caffeine almost 100% later, I think six months or so, and maybe that’s part of it. Anyway, I think it’s the diet that has strengthen my hair, and at any rate, I hope it keeps growing.

That’s not the coolest part, though. Well, the next part is half cool, half not-cool. I have a lot of silver/gray in my hair. I’ve been eagerly awaiting for it to turn all gray/silver because I think that would be bad and ass. I want to look like storm, and then I’m going to cut it all off. At least that was the plan. I’ve become really attached to it (no pun intended), so we’ll see. That’s not the cool/not-cool part, though. The gray is reversing. I know it sounds crazy, but it is. I took it down to brush yesterday–

Side note: Part of my depression is that I am not always on point with my daily grooming. It’s one reason I wear my hair up in a bun–so I don’t have to deal with it. That’s fine and dandy, but it means that I sometimes can go a week or longer without brushing my hair. If I just left it in a bun, it might be ok (but probably not), but I have to redo the bun every few days, which means by the time I let it down, there are usually huge tangles in the underneath part of it.

Side note to the side note: I remember reading a series of tweets a while ago about a woman who had severe depression. She did not wash her hair or brush it in something like a year. Her hair was as long as mine, and she went to a hairdresser to deal with it. It was the hairdresser who was tweeting about it. The woman was still downtrodden and self-defeating, and the hairdresser decided she was going to do what had to be done to save the woman’s hair. For the next six hours, she brushed out the woman’s hair until she got rid of all the mats, tangles, and snarls.

Anyway, with the amount of hair I take, when it snarls, it takes a lot of patient coaxing to get them all out. In addition, it’s the worst in the exact back of my head, so it’s difficult to reach. I know the answer is to brush it every day, but that’s simply beyond my ken. It’s one thing that I hate about myself–how much mental and physical energy it takes for me to do simple tasks–and it’s one that I would like to change.


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No, where are you really from?

In reading my stories, I ran across a post on AAM from someone who had a variety of chronic illnesses, some of  which affected her walking. She recently bought a wheelchair that helped on her worst days. The problem was that she worked in residential life and had distant coworkers (not the ones she works with intimately) asking her about it when she first broke it out. One was shockingly rude about it, and she wanted to know the best way to respond. She didn’t mind educating on her good days, but she didn’t have the wherewithal to deal with it on her bad days. Alison made it an ask the readers question, and the comments grew lively and contentious.

It’s not unusual to this topic in that people who are in the majority, in this case, abled people, not understanding that what they consider is benign, well, isn’t. You can’t know what you don’t know. You don’t have the context because it’s not part of your life, and nobody can put themselves in someone else’s shoes 100% of the time. And, if I want to think the best of people, some people truly can’t understand how insidious all kinds of isms are.

Back to the post. It’s difficult because people within the category have different ideas about how to deal with the issue because no group is a monolith. In addition, with the disability issue, there is the additional problem that if someone is on crutches or in a wheelchair as, say, the results of an accident, they want people to inquire about them as a show of care. But, several people with disabilities in the comments said it was delivery, not the actual question itself. “What happened????” was routinely disdained–weirdly, one person who as far as I could tell was not disabled, was firmly invested that this was the way to go–whereas there was more a split on “Are you ok?” Some people said it was fine as long as you accepted the answers. Others said even that was too invasive. They preferred, “How are you doing?” In other words, what you’d ask anyone. Someone else pointed out you can tell when someone is used to using crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair versus a n00b.

Some commenters said that most people didn’t mean to be malicious. Which is true. But intent isn’t magic, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a gentle pushback on what is considered the norm. When I was in college, I  used to get asked quite often where I was from. I would answer my hometown in Minnesota, and they would invariably ask, “No, but where are you really from?” It was annoying as fuck, so I made it a mental game to see how long it would take for that second question to follow the first. And it always did. No one was ever satisfied with my first answer.

One thing Alison of AAM does well is provide scripts to people who need them. Same with Captain Awkward. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I developed scripts to deal with all the nosy parkers who demanded to know my heritage.


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Rambling thoughts about the state of my game

So, I’m have good news and bad news concerning my health. The good news is that all my flu symptoms are gone. The bad news is that my cough has settled in my chest. All things considered, I’ll take the trade off. It still means I’m exhausted, however, which means I stick to BoI:R and Dark Souls III these days. As I mentioned, I started another Sekiro playthrough, but I cannot play it when I’m not in top form. Whenever I watch someone else play it, I’m filled with passion to play it again. When I actually think about doing it, however, I just don’t have the will or the energy.

I can’t quit BoI:R. I’ve reached the point where I can do a run quite comfortably as long as I get some damage upgrades fairly quickly. By the way, let me ruminate on some of the most annoying things about the game. I was going to make a whole post of it, but that seems like too much of a bother. One of the worst runs in this game is one where I have a ton of health (say as Maggie), but no damage. I remember a run where I was on the Mom floor, and I had no damage upgrades, but a shit-ton of health and health regen. There was no way I was going to die, but it was taking me two or three tears to kill very basic enemies. If I don’t have at least four ticks of damage by this floor, it’s a bad run. I’ve actually ended runs prematurely because I couldn’t stand the thought of going to the Chest with no damage.

Speaking of the Chest, that’s another issue with the game. The ‘heavenly’ route (Cathedral and Chest) is way better than the ‘hell’ route (Sheol and Dark Room). I never go the latter except when it’s dictated by the Daily Run. Part of the reason is that you can get four new items on the Chest. What do you get on the Dark Room? Spiders and troll bombs, mostly. Speaking of troll bombs, I really hate them. I don’t mind that they exist. Ok, I do, but I accept it. What I hate is when I literally cannot outrun them because I’m too slow or the room is too small (and, yeah, I’ll get to that in a minute), it feels cheap.

That’s the thing about RNG–there’s a very thin line between fair and foul. I’ve said this in the past. I know that’s part of RNG, but I do think sometimes it’s the coding at fault. Yes, I know that’s my go-to when I’m displeased with something in a game, but at least I acknowledged it, right?


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The more things change…part two

In part one, I talked about my frustrations with things that do not change over time. In this post, I want to talk about the things that have changed without notice from me. I’ve mentioned some of them in the past such as my sleep. To summarize briefly, when I was in college, I rarely slept more than three hours a night. Then, when I went home on breaks, I slept for fifteen hours the first night. Partly because it was my sleep deprivation catching up to me and partly I would get sick, but fight it off until I got home. In my late twenties, I slept maybe four hours a night. I will say I have thyroid issues, but at that point of my life, I had hypothyroidism and not hyper, so insomnia should not have been a problem. If anything, it should have been the opposite. I got my thyroid destroyed when I was fourteen (radiation), so any insomnia before hand could be attributed to hyperthyroidism (well, at least partly), but afterwards, it should have course-corrected.

I also learned yesterday that having vivid dreams is a symptom of not getting deep REM sleep. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I used to have very graphic and disturbing dreams all the time when I was sleeping four hours a night. I woke up after two hours, usually in a cold sweat because of a weird and intense dream, and then I’d drift off into another uneasy, unsettling dream before waking up again. I knew I wasn’t getting REM sleep, so it was weirdly validating to read that I wasn’t just imaging things.

In the time I’ve been studying taiji–over ten years–I’ve slowly started sleeping more and more. I’m up to six hours on a good night, and I rarely remember my dreams any longer. If I do, they’re anxiety dreams. While not great, they’re much better than the murder dreams I used to have. Six hours is a huge leap for me, but it’s hard not to get fixated on the fact that I’m not getting the requisite eight hours unless I’m sick as I am now. Currently, I’m going from five hours in one night to nine hours the next. That’s how I know I’m sick. It’s actually one thing I like about being sick–I actually get a long chunk of sleep without disturbance. Other than that, though, it pretty much sucks.


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The more things change…part one

I have been thinking lately about changes in my life and how they have crept up on me, but that post will have to wait for Wednesday because it’s my blog and that’s the way I want to do it. This post will be about the lack of change that causes me to lose interest in something I once liked/loved. Specifically, websites and social media, but it applies to other things as well.

Let’s start with Twitter. I used to be heavily involved back in 2008. Or rather, the lead up to the election. I tweeted for hours a day, and I was heavily engaged with other tweeters. I didn’t have that many followers, but I had a lot of interaction. I tweeted a lot about politics, and I kept up with all the minutiae that surrounded it. Over the years, I’ve just…faded on it. Not for any one reason, but all the things that drew me to Twitter eventually turned me off it as well. The intense interactions. The free-for all nature. The tendency to scrutinize every little thing to death, and just the constant noise. The things that made it exciting back in the beginning began to irritate me, and then I just hated it. These days, I mostly tweet about cats, a video I like, and a video game once in a while. I check it maybe twice a day if even that. I don’t follow politics at all for many reasons, so I rarely read my TL any longer.

I noticed the same thing when I was deep into politics and visiting different political sites on the daily. I was heavily involved in a few (and I’m not naming them because that’s not the point), and I commented regularly. After some time, I started to feel constrained because there was a staleness to the interactions. I knew who was going to say what in response to each post, and I did not want to have the same conversations over and over again.

Side note: I know I have issues with relationships in that I either cling too hard or I let them fade away for one reason or another. These days it tends to be the latter rather than the former. I’m not saying it’s an issue in general because relationships don’t have to last forever, but I’m just mentioning it because it’s something I’ve become aware of in the past decade or so and it’s relevant to this post. Online relationships aren’t the same as IRL relationships, but there are some similar landmarks. The difference is that it’s even easier for me to let them go because the person isn’t in front of my face. In addition, online websites are even less real in my mind than online friendships. Therefore, it’s easy for me to walk away from a website that no longer holds my interest.


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Not today, Satan. Not today

I was going to go on a full-out rant about toxic masculinity, ‘boys will be boys’, cross-Atlantic culture differences, and video gaming culture, but I’m really not in the mood for it today. I’m still sick, though, thankfully the flu symptoms are gone. It’s all settled into my respiratory system, and my voice comes and goes as it pleases. When it comes, it’s still Barry White deep but not nearly as sexy what with the sneezes, sniffles, and hawking up loogies. I need to be in fighting form to do a full-throated rant and because I want to fully develop my theory of…well, I don’t have a pithy name for it, and I cannot for the life of me find the post in which I thought I wrote about it, but it’s a good theory. I swear!

I still can’t find it. I’ll look for it and craft the post and do it when I’m feeling better. In the meantime, enjoy the latest Oxventure (first of four parts). It actually is tangentially related to my rant. With that teaser, enjoy.