Underneath my yellow skin

A (chat)room of my own redux

I was participating in the producers-only stream for RKG yesterday when an interesting thing happened. Somehow, Discord came up and a woman who participates heavily in the FB group said she didn’t feel comfortable in the Discord chatroom. Buncha dudes said you just had to jump in and blah, blah, blah. I told the first woman that I agreed with her, and a third woman chimed in to agree. Dudes kept insisting that the room was so welcoming and ignored what we three women were saying. When one woman tried to point out the cliquey nature, dudes were like, “But we became friends! But just join in!” without really getting what the women were trying to say. They took their experiences to be the standard and factual while dismissing our experiences or trying to excuse them away. It was a microcosm of privilege in a concrete setting, and I have rarely seen it so starkly.

I want to point out that I’m not saying they’re terrible guys or raging against the machine. They all seemed like nice dudes, and I say that sincerely. My point in this anecdote is how ingrained such behavior can be and how difficult it can be to make someone see privilege where they only see normality. I thought about bringing up the gender component, but didn’t. In the end, we dropped the conversation with no one being convinced that they were wrong.

And, I don’t think anyone was wrong. The dudes were right in that the Discord chat is inviting and welcoming IF you can fit into the culture. Which is very laddy. Which is not the same as bro culture, but it’s still off-putting. And we women were right that it’s not welcoming if you don’t fit into the culture.

Side note: It’s been weird that the two YouTube groups I like both left their big companies (IGN and Buzzfeed, respectively) to go private within six months of each other. As I noted in my last post on this subject, The Try Guys’ targeted demo is young women whereas RKG’s targeted demo is young men. The Try Guys have been away from Buzzfeed for roughly eight months, and I realized when they came back from their Christmas break that I don’t like them nearly as much now as I did when they were with Buzzfeed. I thought about why that was, and I realized there were a few reasons. One, they’ve become more of A BRAND and less of just four goofy guys trying interesting things that get them out of their comfort zone. They have merch now, and they push that merch in their videos. Yes, in a jocular way, but it’s still them hawking their merch. Two, they had a video in which they showed the stuff they did before Buzzfeed, and Eugene’s was disturbingly brilliant. It showed in stark relief how different the stuff he’s doing now is. I wasn’t the only one to notice, and he had to tweet out why he thought what he was doing now still aligned with his vision.


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What a drag (on my health)

whiling away the hours.
My new home.

I’m afraid this is my new normal, being roughly 60%. Every time I get past that point, something happens that sets me back. For example, last night, and TMI for possibly grossness, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I’m twelve–side note: why are PB&Js considered children’s food?–and a minute later, I had to run to the bathroom. Exploding diarrhea all over the place (hyperbole! I made it to the toilet), and I stayed there for at least ten minutes. A half hour later, I was back again. I went to sleep a bit later, then was jolted awake in the middle of the night (not sure when) because my body was urgently telling me I needed to go. Again. I was more than half-asleep, and I almost fell down on my way to the toilet. I almost fell asleep on the toilet. I almost fell asleep on my way back to the couch. It was a surreal experience. I was basically pooping in my sleep, and I was just happy I made it to the bathroom first.

What was it that did it? My instinct is the peanut butter, but it could be the jelly. In fact, it’s more likely the jelly. I’ve had the peanut butter before, and I’m not sure I’ve had this brand of (blackberry) jelly before. It’s not the bread. I eat that all the time, and it’s not a new loaf. So, I’m going to do a controlled test today. I’m going to eat the jelly on its own, an then I’m going to try the peanut butter. Of course, the fact that I think it’s the peanut butter might unconsciously bias me.

I woke up grumpy and exhausted today. My energy is extremely low, and I just feel so blah. I’ve been trying to write this post for over an hour, and every word is begrudging. It’s not like me at all. I’m verbose to an extreme, and I can usually toss off a two-thousand word post in an hour or so. I currently have 350 words, and I am already running out of steam.

On a related note: I’m struggling with the second book of my current trilogy. The first one is finished. It’s rough as hell, but I really like the energy of it. The second one never really came to life to me, and I’m 92,000 words in. I’m thinking of scrapping it and starting over. I’ve had writer friends incredulous that I would actually throw away whole novels, it’s not an anathema to me. I wouldn’t literally throw it away or delete it; I would simply start another story. I might take some nuggets from the first story, but I would go in a different direction.

Side note to the related note: When I write a novel, I have an outline in my head. I write mysteries, and going into it, I know the perp, the victim, and the motive. I don’t always know how I get from Point A to Point B, but I know in broad strokes what my chain of events will be. I’ve had times when the motive has changed or shifted as I’ve written, but for the most part, the motive I go in with is the same one that remains at the end–more or less.

In this case, I started the first novel with a firm idea of all of the above. I even know mostly how I was going to get from Point A to Point B. About halfway through the novel, an idea came to me that I couldn’t ignore. It led to the main thesis of the second novel, and it recast everything in the first novel in a different light. Of course, I had to keep in mind that the first novel had to be able to read on its own. I finished the first novel with the second one in mind, and I was excited when I started the second.

Goddamn it. I just can’t today. I’m so tired and bone-weary. And my innards are still grumbling. That’s all for today.

Becoming what I feared

When I was in my twenties, I used to joke that I was attracted to the exact wrong person for me. Gay men, straight women, anyone who was taken, or someone who was simply not interested in me*. If I walked into a room with 100 people and 99 were eligible dating partners, I would inevitably beeline towards the one who wasn’t.

In my late 20s/early 30s, I declared stridently that I didn’t want to be in a relationship. I was an independent woman, damn it! I didn’t need no (wo)man to make me complete. Of course, underneath it was my terrifying hunger to be in a relationship. I was told all my life it was the only thing that mattered, well, along with squirting out children, of course. It was confusing because I was also told I WOULD go to college, but at the end of the day, I better be married and have children.

Side note: When I turned 26, my mother started pushing me to have children. It reached the point where I began dreading talking to her because she would bring it up. Once summer when she visited, she mentioned it every goddamn fucking day. Her comment when I turned 26 was that she had my brother at that age. My immediate (internal) response was, “I’m not you, thank god.” I have been fortunate that I realized fairly early (21 or 22) that I did not want children. It was such a relief when I finally truly realized I did not have to spawn, I nearly cried. My mother did not stop trying to get me knocked up for the next fifteen years. I only relate this to underscore how much pressure I felt to marry (implicit in the preggers convos) and have children. The only time I ever had an impulse to have children was after my mom had been nagging me for days about it, and I thought, “I should have a kid just to shut her up.” Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that having a child to please my mom would be a recipe for disaster.

I want to be clear. I was not a great girlfriend back in the day. I was too clingy and too eager to merge into one being. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of social support for a woman offering endless emotional support without receiving any in return, especially twenty years ago. In addition, there is the idea that you’re supposed to be the ‘cool girlfriend’ who is ‘chill’ and doesn’t get upset about, well, anything. It’s a neat way of keeping a woman firmly in her place (in a het relationship). Still. I fell into many of the traps of het relationships of that time, and I was not my best self in those relationships.

Many times, I was just desperate to be in a relationship, any relationship, because my self-worth hung on what my partner thought of me. I put up with a lot of shit that I shouldn’t have because I thought I didn’t deserve better. It was a vicious cycle, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Hell, I wasn’t even aware of the problems for a long time. Once I became aware of my own issues, it was hard not to see it in myself all the damn time. I worked hard on it through a lot of therapy, but some of the issues are so deep.


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Miyazaki the brilliant storyteller

One of the things that irks me the most when people talk about the Soulsborne games is when someone glibly says, “Oh, there’s no story there.” I’ve heard actual games journalists say this, and it irks me every time. There is a story to each game–a pretty deep story with several NPC storylines. It’s just not handed over to you in cutscenes (though there are a few of those. The ones in the beginning are surprisingly explicit); you have to dig it up mostly on your own. Or, if you don’t have the patience for it, read up on it on the wikis.

I will say that you don’t have to understand the story in order to play the games and have a satisfactory experience. The gameplay itself stands up if you’re willing to put the time and effort into learning it. I’ve learned from ‘the community’ that the controls are shit, but I didn’t know that because it was the first time I’d ever used a controller. Any control scheme would have been foreign to me, and now, the Souls schematic is the one imprinted into my brain. I reinstalled MHW because Ian is powering through the end game, and his enthusiasm has perked my interest again. It’s hard getting back into the controls, though, because I’ve been playing Souls games in the meantime.

I was switching back and forth between Souls and MHW  for a bit, and that was really hard. When I go back to Souls games, though, it’s like coming home. It’s one of my biggest gripes about Souls clones that they would copy everything about the formula EXCEPT the controls. If you’re going to be a Souls clone, then copy the control scheme. B is forever roll, and I will fight anyone on this.

Anyhoooooo. Back to the brilliance of Miyazaki, and this is specifically related to him. In each game, there are several NPC questlines. You have to do them in a specific, byzantine order in order to fulfill the quests. I’ll give you an example. Solaire is one of the most famous and beloved NPCs in the whole Souls series. The whole ‘praise the sun’ and ‘do you even praise the sun, bro?’ memes are about him, and the funniest part is that he never says the phrase at all. It’s the emote you get when you join the Warrior of Sunlight Covenant (his covenant), and you perform it by crouching slightly, then raising up as you hold your arms up in a V. If you’re summoned as a SunBro (nickname for the members of this covenant), you perform the gesture automatically as you enter your host’s world, and you’re a brilliant golden color as opposed to white.


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Snow, my cold, and conflicting emotions

let it snow!
My happy place.

The snow, it is real. It’s been a steady accumulation over the last few days, and it’s making me a very happy camper. Indoor camper.

Side rant: I love snow. I always have. Ever since I was a little kid and played in the snow as I was bundled up so only my nose was showing. I’d go sledding (which I loved) until my fingers and toes were numb, and then I’d drink hot chocolate. Snowmen were a thing, too.

Winter was great because I loved the cold and because my allergies were mostly dead. I’ve been very open about my love of snow and cold, which for the most part has been fine. However, whenever I post about it or tweet about it, there’s inevitably one person who has to say how much they hate it. Or remind me that it’s a bitch to drive in. Or shovel. It’s gotten to the point where I preempt it by mentioning my gratitude in not having to drive in it when I talk about it in hopes I can be allowed to enjoy my snow somewhat unimpeded.

Snow is one thing that gives me pure joy. Can I please have that? It’s good to be aware of other people’s issues and whatnot, but at some point, I just want to revel in the fluffy white goodness.

Side note to the side rant: It’s different when I’m talking to friends who have to struggle with the snow affecting their commute or income (having clients cancel because of weather). I can empathize with them and their frustrations. It’s more the people who feel the need to tell me unprompted that snow is a problem for people. I’m not stupid or ignorant. I know this. And yet, it’s a bit too ‘there are starving children in Africa’ for me. There is nothing that doesn’t cause problems for SOMEONE. Does that mean always having to qualify one’s own pleasures/enjoyment/happiness?

Anyway. Back to snow. We’ve gotten 10 inches to a foot, and it’s lightly snowing now. It’s the fluffy and light snow, which is my favorite to frolic in. There will be no midnight nekkid snow dancing, however, because I’m still having sinus issues. The cough has diminished, but the congestion has increased. The needles pricking my nostrils feeling has come back again. When I woke up, my forehead was hot. I popped two (generic) Migraine Excedrin, and I’m hoping that will do the trick. I also have a raspy voice, which, while sexy, may be a harbinger of more congestion.

I’ve been incredibly crabby over being sick, but at the same time, really happy about the snow. It’s a weird mix of feelings that keeps whiplashing back and forth.

*a thousand needles prick my nose*

I hate having a cold!

*looks out the window at the gently-falling snow*

Oooooh, so pretty!

We’ve gotten between 10-12 inches over the last few days and are supposed to get a few more inches. Maybe this is my consolation prize for this cold dragging on. Either way, I’m enjoying it–just not as fully as I would if I weren’t sick.

Still. It reminds me of what I love about Minnesota winters, which have sadly become more tame over the years. Thank you, climate change. No, really, thank you for fucking up my favorite season. Trying not to be bitter because it seems a bit ungrateful as we’re in the middle of ALL THE SNOW, but I’m greedy. I want so much more.

Side note II to side rant: I want to say that if people want to bitch about how much they hate snow on their own FB walls/tweet about it–have at it. I know most people don’t feel the same way about snow that I do, and that’s fine. I’m used to being in the minority about–well, pretty much everything. Except loving chocolate. I think I’m in the majority there. So, yeah, I’m used to biting my tongue when certain subjects come up. When other Minnesotans grumble about the snow and talk about wanting spring, I just nod and smile. Or, if I’m in a feisty mood, I’ll say I like winter, but I understand how they feel.*

So on my own FB wall or Twitter TL, just fucking let me have this, ok? To hell with it. I may actually do nekkid midnight snow dancing tonight, my cold be damned.

 

 

*I don’t, but it’s a social nicety that keeps things moving.

5 things I hate about the Soulsborne series

looks pretty benign to me.
Oh, Bed of Chaos. It’s never good to see you.

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows I am a huge FromSoft fangrrl. I always return to the Souls games, and I am still finding new things in them. However, that is not to say that I think they’re perfect games and will brook no criticism of them. There are several fanbois who are exactly like that and will explain why each flaw is actually brilliance on the part of Miyazaki, but that’s not me. There are more than a few things about the games that annoy me, and a few that I downright hate. Some span all the games and some are only game specific, and I’ll note which it is during each point. They’re not in any particular order, and I will comment on my degree of hate as I talk about each one. With that said, here we go.

1. The whole second half of the original game. I recently played Dark Souls Remastered, partly with my NG++ character who had just beaten Biggie & Small. I thought about what I wanted to do, and I heaved a small sigh. Basically, there are four big bosses you have to beat after Biggie & Small before the last boss, and whenever I think about going into the four different areas, I just don’t want to do it. The first half of the game is near perfection, but the second half, hooooooooo boy. The first time I played it, the second half of the game made me hate the game in general. After I finished, I thought I was done with it and would never touch it again. Oh, how wrong I was, but it’s partly because of how much I loathed the second half of the game.

Miyazaki himself has commented on how the second half was rushed and was not nearly as good as the first half (paraphrased). He apologized for one of the areas, Lost Izalith, and a more fully realized version of it is in Dark Souls III (though not with the same name, though there is an area within the area that has the exact same name as an area in the first game, Demon Ruins). I’ve said before, but my measure of hatred for the area is such that even though I’m a completionist and will do Blighttown (the area in the first game most people agree is the worst) the normal way when I play the original game, but I skip the lava/dino butt area of Lost Izalith with nary a qualm. To me, that is the worst area of the game, well, one of them, and I don’t care if I never see it again. Indeed, I will be thrilled if I never do.

I also hate the Crystal Cave and it’s fucking invisible paths because fucking invisible paths! Need I say more? I also have a terrible sense of spatial recognition, so that doesn’t help. Plus, yes, I know, falling snow helps delineate the way, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t sharp turns between the falling flakes. I fell that way once. I hate this area because it feels hard just to be hard. Yes, Dark Souls is a difficult game. Fuck the try-hards who bleat that it’s not difficult–just challenging. It is hard for those of us who are strictly mediocre players.

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Just fuck everything, but snow?!?

To no one’s surprise, I have a fucking cold. Warning: I will be fucking sweary in this post because I am so fucking sick and tired of being, well, sick and tired. A deep hacking cough, a stuffed nose that simultaneously feels as if it has pine needles jabbing into it from time to time. Add chest congestion to that, and you can understand why I’m irritated. Not just irritated, but downright pissed off. I have been sick on and off for the past few months, and every time I feel better, something else happens to me. It’s not as if I’m in the public all the time, a lot, or much at all. So why the hell am I getting sick? It’s a question for my doc the next time I go, which will be soon because I have to get my annual thyroid check for my meds.

Speaking of docs….Every year, I have to deal with my insurance, and I thought I set it last year so I wouldn’t have to do it again this year. I got a notice saying my insurance would end because I hadn’t re-enrolled, and I found an earlier letter with the re-enrollment form. I filled it out and sent it in with a brief explanation of what happened. I sent it in before the end of the month, and then this week, I got a notice that my insurance had ended last month. I thought about checking my mail today before I called the insurance office, but I didn’t because I’m lazy. I called, resigned to wait for over an hour as I had to do the other times I called them (this is a governmental office, so you know how that goes), but I got someone within five minutes. She told me there was nothing wrong with my insurance, and I had her double check and read it to me exactly to make sure. Afterwards, I went to check the mail because I was going out, anyway, and sure enough, there was my health plan letter. I had to laugh, but I’m relieved that it ended well.


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I have nothing to fear except FOMO

I’ve been struggling with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) lately, and it’s making me uncomfortable. Amazing things have happened to friends of mine, and I’m ecstatic for them because they have worked hard and earned the amazing things. That’s not the part making me uncomfortable, obviously, but it’s the following mental thoughts that I’m loath to admit.

Let me backtrack just a little bit. I’ve been feeling stuck for–well, my whole life, but especially the last year. I’m painfully aware of how quickly time is slipping away from me, and the years are piling up at an alarming rate. I don’t give a shit about my age as a number, but the fact that I went from thirty-seven to forty-seven in seemingly a blink of the eye. I’ve been having a hard time accepting that I’m now an Old and have become even more invisible* in general society. I see people in their early thirties that I find attractive, and it’s sobering to realize they probably view me as a mom-type. There is a group I belong to on Facebook in which I feel like the Solicitous Aunt (or as the RKG boys call it, Agony Aunt) of the group. I’m sure I’m old enough to be many of their mothers, and it holds me back from fully participating. Not just because I’m an Old (and a woman to boot), but because I simply cannot relate to much of what they ‘re talking about.

Side note: I’m not a video game enthusiast as much as I’m a Dark Souls enthusiast. In addition, I don’t like playing on a console, and most of the people in the aforementioned group are dedicated console players. I hate hand-helds for many reasons, and I really can’t see any reason not to game on a PC if you can afford it. I know a PC is more expensive than a console (though it doesn’t have to be exceedingly so), but games are much cheaper because there are ever-sales on Steam, whereas games on the consoles rarely go on sale. When they do, they even more rarely go more than 50% off. On Steam, you can get games for a buck on the regular. Granted, not Triple A games, but it makes it easy in theory to dabble in games that are interesting, but I don’t want to spend a ton on.

Spoiler: I don’t want to spend more than fifteen dollars on any game because I’m cheap. There are a few exceptions, such as I will buy any FromSoft game at any price at this point. Well, within reason. I would love to play Deracine, but I’m not buying the PS VR to play it. Not only would it be the only game I would play on the PS VR, I get violently nauseous with VR. It’s a shame, though, because the game looks lovely, and I would play the hell out of it if it were a non-VR game.

Back to FOMO.

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Trying to wean off my Dark Souls addiction

I’ve been morbidly watching the weather because we’re in a cold snap to end all cold snaps. It’s currently -15, ‘feels like’ -24, which is twice as warm as it was yesterday! It was supposed to get much warmer today, but Mother Nature apparently changed her mind. How like a woman, amirite? Ew. That felt gross, even saying it in jest. Yesterday, it went as low as ‘feels like’ -53. I kept checking because I wanted it to hit -60. Again, it was just morbid curiosity because it really doesn’t matter after a point. ‘Feels like’ -53 isn’t much different than ‘feels like’ -30. I don’t know exactly where that difference is, but it’s nowhere near where we are right now.

I’ve also been fighting off something or the other while dealing with sinus issues. I’m half-convinced it’s allergies because I mostly feel it right after I wake up and before I go to bed, and I’m fair-to-middling during the day. This morning, however, I woke up with something a bit more than usual, and I know I’m fighting something off. Which is aggravating. As I stated before, I’d rather just be sick and get over it in a few days (even though it’s never a few days. The worst part of it is a few days, then it lingers for weeks after).

I’ve put Dark Souls III on the back burner for now (uninstalled it) am an now tromping through Lordran again (Dark Souls Remastered). I forgot my current character is on NG++, and man, is she powerful. I’m wielding the Black Knight Halberd +5, and I’m enjoying it greatly. It surprises me because I’m not a polearm kind of gal, but the BKH is a fast and powerful weapon, and it’s great for crowd control. I was up to going to Anor Londo, running against the dastardly duo (Silver Knight Archers) before meeting up with the other dastardly duo (Biggie & Small). I actually made it into the church in one go, which I did the last two times as well. The key is running past the goddamn spears with confidence, ignoring the guy on the left, and attacking the guy on the right. Being powerful enough to block the spears he shoots at me is nice, and I was able to slice him to ribbons before he could kill me.

May I just say that being a Havel monster is the best? Yes, I was wearing the entire set, and, yes, it mitigates a lot of damage, but it takes a long time to reach the point where you can wear the whole set. I’m at 40 Vit, 50 End, and 50 Strength, so I’m a beast. I’m at 19 in Attunement, which gives me 5 attunement slots. That’s insane because you need 30 levels to have 5 attunement slots in Dark Souls III. Then again, magicks are much more powerful in DSIII because of the mana bar rather than the limited amount of casts in the original. For example, I have the Hidden Body spell in DSR, and I have 3 casts between bonfires. THREE. In comparison, I’m constantly casting it in DSIII, and I never run out of mana. Yes, I know it’s FP (Focus Points), but it’s mana. I have my flasks as 10/5, and I have a healthy mana bar. Plus, I wear the ring that conserves FP, so I can pyro my way throughout the areas.

In DSR, I have to save Hidden Body for special situations. Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring to be a ninja. Currently, I’m wearing the Witch Set because I’m messing with the Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo, which means I can’t wear Havel’s ring, which means I can’t wear his armor. There are only two ring slots in DS, and one of them is permanently taken by the Ring of Favor and Protection. It boosts HP, stamina, and equip load, but it breaks if you take it off. Therefore, I really only have one ring slot to play around with, which is frustrating.


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