Underneath my yellow skin

Blocked blocked (writer’s) blocked

Let me start by saying that I don’t get classic writer’s block. Or rather, I got it once, but that’s it. What I do get, however, is an overwhelming feeling of doom that my writing sucks, that there’s no reason to do it, that no one wants to read it, and that I might as well give up. I still write during this time, but it’s not with any heart.

It’s strange because when I go back and read what I wrote several years ago, I marvel at how fresh it seems. Even something I’d read several times. There are very few mysteries I’ve read that has a similar take, and while I don’t tie up all loose ends, I come to a satisfying conclusion. And, I actually prefer not tying up all loose ends, but I worry that it doesn’t seem deliberate. Sometimes it isn’t, but it still works out in the realms that I have set up.

Currently, I am trying to write new stories that are set in the current hellscape that is the pandemic plus police brutality plus political bullshittery. Since I write mysteries, I wanted to tackle what to do when I (protag) see a murdered body but have no faith in the police. It’s been going ok, but I’m not really feeling it. I’m trying to write a few other mysteries set in the same situation, and it’s really limiting. I mean, it’s supposed to be, yes, but it’s REALLY limiting.

One thing I do in my spare time is re-read old things I have written. There are two trilogies (I usually write in trilogies if not a standalone) that I wrote fairly recently–ok. Let me back up. They are not completely written. In the first case, one whole novel (230,000 words) and half the second one (125,000 words). In the other case, two finished novels (122,000 words and 128,000 words respectively) and the third not yet finished (57,000 words).

These are my two favorite trilogies, probably because both are fantasy in nature.

Side note: My brother likes to rant about how much he hates the fact that sci-fi and fantasy are mixed together because he loves the former and hates the latter. I heartily agree with him but because I’m the other way around. I don’t care much for sci-fi, even though I keep it mostly to myself. In most nerd circles, it’s taboo to admit you don’t like sci-fi. It’s also irritating that fantasy is seen as lesser to many–probably because of the gender skew. Sci-fi is seen as more logical (why, I don’t know, as it’s all made up shit, anyway) and fantasy as more emotional. You can probably guess as to the skew here.


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Let’s hear it for the (fan) bois

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! by David Galindo (chubigans) just got the last update (still in Early Access! I’m curious to see if there will be anything new added before it’s officially released), and it’s a corker. It’s a cooking competition called Iron Cook Speedway (how droll. It’s a common theme of the games), and it’s done in an arena? I think? But simulates the road? Or it’s really the road. Anyway, the cool thing is that Northerlion and his wife, Kate, are in the last update! They are the commentators of the cooking competition, and it was really cool to read that they were in it.

They play Chuck and Gretta, and it’s really delightful. Probably because I’ve watched NL on and off for years, and I love that his avatar looks so much like him with a goofy hat. Kate’s avatar is relly cute, too, and it incorporates that she normally colors her hair different colors (in the game it’s light blue). The repetition of their lines gets a bit samesy, but it’s a small niggle.

A bigger niggle, however, is that the difficulty is ramped up to a hundo in the final update. Look, I get it. It’s the culmination of the whole game, and the whole game is predicated on being difficult. Lots to do at a frantic pace, and you can’t really let up your concentration too much unless you’re doing old days again (as I’ve done for comfort).

One of the new things introduced in this sequel was the food truck attacks. I’ll be completely honest with you–I fucking hate them. As soon as I could buy the  upgrades to stop the attacks, I turned them on and never looked back. I did try one day without them on after I finished the rest of the content, but I quickly turned them back on because it was harshing my mellow. I understand why they were included, and I think they were good in concept. I’m sure there are people who like them, and I did like working towards earning enough to get the upgrades one by one to block the attacks.

However. In practice, they drained much of my enjoyment because the way I play, I try to get into a groove with each day, and they didn’t allow me to do that. Yes, I know that’s the whole point, but it felt…like filler. I know it’s the second sequel and I know there’s pressure to keep it fresh.

Side note: I have always maintained that one of the reasons Dark Souls II (you didn’t really think I’d not mention Souls in this post, did you?) was reviled so much was because it was in a Catch-22 situation. Dark Souls was so original (if you hadn’t played Demon’s Souls), there was no way to make a sequel that could capture the same sense of discovery and surprise as the original, but if they deviated too far from the first game, well, then people would be pissed about that as well.

What I’m saying is that I don’t blame a developer for including something new. They have to do it, and one thing I loved about DS II was that it had fast travel from the start. It’s one reason I played it more than the original game. In Dark Souls III, they switched from having specific number of casts for magicks to having mana (Ashen Estus Flask). I was skeptical about it at first because it meant less of the regular Estus for me, but once I played enough, I was able to see the brilliance in it. There were 15 Estus Flasks total, and if you were a pure melee character, you could have 15 regular Estus*.

I fiddled with it throughout the game, and I discovered that the primo ratio for me was 2:1 regular estus to ashen estus. So, in the end, I had 10:5. I changed it up for the boss fights, but that served me well.

Back to CSD 3. Once I had the food truck attack gimmick under control, I enjoyed the game much more. And that’s exactly what it feels like to me–a gimmick. I mean, it makes sense in the game world, but it feels as if it was just tacked on. Or as if chubigans had the idea in his head first and was determined to shove it in no matter what.

Again, I get it. It’s new and fresh and different. It certainly makes a chaotic game even more chaotic. But I hated actually playing with it on. This brings me to the newest and last update. The food truck attacks can’t be blocked. It doesn’t matter how many upgrades you have–and I have them all–you have to deal with the food truck attacks during every. goddamn. day. Not just one, either. There are at least two (except for the days that had three stops) during each day and sometimes three. Maybe four? I don’t remember I haven’t done the endurance days yet (eight stops per day), but I would surmise there might be five or six.

I hate it. I really hate it.

Side note II: I have to comment about my way of playing these games. I only allow for gold days, which means no mistakes. Why? Because I know that I’ll want to do that in the end, anyway, so why not just do it the first time around? I have written more than once that I do not like that gold days are predicated on perfection. That is neither here nor there, however, as it’s been that way for all three games. I have managed to get all perfect days for the first two games, and I got all the achievements in the first game (before the massive update). I got almost all the achievements in the second game except for a few of the stress day ones. And, I’ve gotten all the achievements in the current game prior to this update.

As to the last point, though, I had many theoretical tears while trying to get the last few. These achievements were getting a gold on certain days with ridiculous requirements. There have been plenty others of these, but I was able to figure out how to get them done.

Here’s the thing. These achievements are not skills, really, they are about finding ways to cheese the achievement as best as possible. There are a few ways of doing this. One is having as few prep stations as possible. Seven is the lowest, and keeping a handle on that is the best way to deal with any day. The problem is that you get -1 on the required points list for every extra prep station. My personal M.O. is to only use auto-serve dishes (ones that don’t take more than one step) because then I can just push them out without thinking about it.

There are a few days where none of the dishes are auto-serve, and that’s frantic as fuck. I hate, hate, hate those days. I also hate random food days because I don’t get to choose. I will say that the random food days in this current update were easy-peasy because there were no points requirements, so I just used all 0-point dishes, which meant all were auto-serve. Did I feel guilty about it? Hell to the fuck no, but it underlines that it’s more about gaming the system than getting good at the game.

I’ve noticed before that the games I love are ones that tend to ramp up in difficulty the longer they’re around. I have a ceiling for my skills, and I can feel when I’m bumping up against the ceiling. I felt in the DLCs of DS II and the DLCs of DS III. I felt it hard in Sekiro. it’s the Keeper in Isaac (the MegaSatan fight), and it’s this update in CSD 3. Like I said, it started nudging me at the end of the last achievements, and now, it’s swirling around me completely. I’ve managed to finish half the stops (A-E, I think. Each letter represents an area, and there are different days within each letter), and I’m not looking forward to the other half.

This is for the hardcore fans, and while I understand why and appreciate it, it means that it pushes the game beyond me. Yes, I finished DS II, III, and Sekiro. I have not finished the Keeper (and this is beyond the True Platinum, which I have), and I’m not sure I’m going to finish this last part or the achievements related. Could I do it? Probably. Do I want to put in the incredible amount of work TOO do it? Not sure. We’ll have to see if I continue to play or not.

 

 

 

 

*Focus Points is the official name of the mana in the game, FP for short. In addition to being the marker of mana, it’s also what you need for your weapon arts.**

**Weapon arts is another new thing introduced in the third game, and it’s wonderful. Don’t want to talk about it in this post, however, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll just leave this here.

The sickness in my mind

I’m a weird amalgamation of, well, everything.  I’ve talked endlessly before about how weird I am in so many ways. Another is that I am always about the underdog and try to find a reason for why people do what they do. But, I also have a voice inside my head that is constantly criticizing everything and everyone. Mostly me, but other people, too.

I try to take the high road. I really do. At least outwardly. I know it’s the right thing to do, but there’s a small part of my brain that, well, is a right nasty bitch. The same part that produces the voice above, quite frankly. Nasty voice. Really nasty. Like, “Fuck you, asshole! Step the fuck back before I rip your nuts off and cram them down your throat” nasty. And, “No one would care if you die” nasty. I’ve learned to keep it to myself, but it’s there.

Side note: I have a psychology background–probably partly spurred by my mother. I also inherited a fair amount of charisma from my father. In addition, my intuition about people is off the chains. I know things about people they don’t know about themselves and things that they wouldn’t want others to know. In addition to this, I can feel other people’s emotions and I know their weak points. The latter is because I’m really good at reading people. I’m not infallible, of course, and when I fail, I fail spectacularly.

Most of the time, however, I’m pretty accurate. I don’t normally bring up my observations unless I’m asked, but they’re in my mind. I hate feeling like Cassandra (the oracle), but I do more often than not. There is so much I keep to myself, and it’s one reason I’m practically a hermit.


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ASMRRRRRRRGH

I hate ASMR. I just want to get that out of the way. I am not neutral to it. I do not merely dislike it or have no use for it. I HATE it.

With that barn burner of an intro, let’s delve into this newfangled* phenomenon that has swept the country if not the world. ASMR. I hope you can read the loud sigh that accompanies the acronym because it’s there every time I see the word, type it, or say it.

You’ve heard about it, I’m sure, because it’s all over the place. It’s suggested as a sleep aid, which is something I’m always interested i n.

Before I dive into that, however, let’s talk about misophonia. The dictionary definition of it is, I believe, being annoyed as fuck by certain sounds. In my current research of ASMR, there are some theories being floated around that people who suffer from misophonia either love or hate ASMR as well. Now, it makes sense that if certain sounds annoy you the fuck, then others may delight you. I liked that one of the dudes defending it (probably a doctor, I was too amused to even really clock it) basically said that there was no true Scotsman of people who reacted negatively to it.

What do I mean? Hold that thought and we’ll get back to it in a minute.

After reading all these people raving about ASMR, I decided to check it out for myself. I pulled up a video and pressed play. The second it started, my shoulders went up around my ears, and I was immediately filled with rage. Not irritation. Not annoyance. RAGE. Like, wanting to punch someone rage. I stopped the video and thought maybe it was just me or that particular video. I tried another, and I had the same reaction.

Are we surprised that something so popular is so loathed by me? No. But, Idiot that I am, I allowed myself to hope that maybe this was something that would bring me relief. Did I have my doubts? Yes. Was I skeptical? Yes. Did I hope it would work? Also yes.


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Close to throwing in the towel

Life is not great at the moment. Still. I’ve been unable to try new games because when I get like this, I revert to comfort. DemonCrawl even though it’s…not great, for example. I recently reinstalled Binding of Isaac: Rebrith. It is very soothing for me to play now (except when I get no upgrades in my skill and a ton of health so I can’t die), and I don’t really have to put much effort into it. There are a few games that I’m interested in that are coming out either in the near future or the undetermined future, but I’m pretty underwhelmed by the big games that other people are hyped about.

Let me come out and say it. I hate what I’ve seen from Cyberpunk 2077. It’s probably the most anticipated game to come out in some time, and everyone else seems to get more hyped about it over time whereas I am not even lukewarm about it.

Let’s roll it back a bit. Cyberpunk 2077 is the newest game of CD Projekt Red who made the huge hit, The Witcher 3. My boo, Geralt of Rivia, was the protagonist of that game. It was an incredible game, and I put probably a hundred hours into it. I did have a bit of a qualm about how white the game was (yes, set in Poland) and the fact that all the women were sexy and fuckable whereas the men were allowed to be of all sizes, shapes, cleanliness, etc. I also grew weary in the last few hours of the game. I blamed that on myself, however, because I tend to binge on games until I’m absolutely glutted. In this case, it was because I was in some cave with a witch, and I had to find my way out of it instead of her simply transporting me out when the quest was over. The map didn’t help, and I became increasingly lost. I almost quit, but I knew I was really close to the end. I don’t remember how I got out, but I finally did. I’m pretty sure this was a mandatory quest, and I was pretty pissed that I had to do it.

The ending I got was worth it, though. Spoiler warning, I guess if you don’t want to know one of the several endings for The Witcher 3. I chose Triss over Yennefer, and I retired at the end of the game in a small house in the woods somewhere. Ciri takes up the mantle of witcher, and there’s a very touching scene between us before I got my epilogue. I was extremely satisfied with my experience in the game, if somewhat burnt out by the end. Then the first DLC dropped. I eagerly snapped it up, and…I fucking hated it. The main antagonist is a violent, arrogant, narcissistic prick, and I have a really difficult time dealing with them given my personal history.


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Slipping away

I’m done. My sleep has been a hot mess, and how the hell did I ever deal with this in the past? I can’t believe I used to get by on four hours of sleep and that I used to go to bed at eight in the morning. One thing I was working on before the pandemic started was getting my sleep on track. I wanted to be more like normal people because…I don’t even know why. I think because while I like being awake when other people are sleeping, I do feel like even more of a freak for being on the opposite side of sleep for most people. In addition, normal life was hard to navigate when I was on the late night tip. If I had any appointments, I tried to make them as late in the afternoon as possible, but it was still hard to make it to them. And it would throw me off my game for the rest of the day.

It’s not a matter of restfulness, either, because I’m always tired. It’s just a fact of life. Much like I used to always have headaches. They were lowkey and I was able to ignore them most of the time, but they were there. It’s the same with sleep. I’m always tired. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I get. There are days when it’s worse than others, obviously, but it’s always there.

Anyway, I was making strides in my sleep pattern before the pandemic hit. I started pushing my sleep time…back? Forward? Earlier. Since I was consistently going to bed around five-ish, I pushed it back to four. After a week or so, I pushed it back again to three. In this fashion, I managed to get it to one/one-thirty. My goal was midnight, but I was ok with where I was at. Then, during the pandemic, it began to become a bit more elastic. It was one-thirty to two, which, while not great, was fine. Then, the phone call. My meltdown. The immediate panic.

Side note: Briefly, my mom called, and I knew immediately that she wanted to say something she knew I wasn’t going to like. I could tell because when I asked how she was, her voice got that tone that it gets when she has something unpleasant to say and she added a little laugh, which is also a tell. Of course, that put me on guard, and I was predisposed to dismiss whatever she had to say. I tried to be patient, but let’s face it. Things were tense between us whenever we talked, and I was not in the mood for difficult.


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To not be or not to be

I’m struggling. The reasons are long and complicated (and, yes, family-related), which I’m saving for another post. I will note that I had an actual meltdown while last talking to my mother. The result was my sleep immediately going to hell (had my first four-hour night sleep in a while, and how the hell did I EVER used to live on that? Regularly?), my brain fragmenting, and my energy completely dissipating. But,  again, not the focus of this post.

In this post, I’m musing about all the ways I’m just…not. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best.

Every since I was a wee little Taiwanese American girl (well, not so wee and not so little) growing up in the lily white suburbs in Minnesota in the 1970s, I was different. Some of it can be seen in the previous sentence. Hell, a lot of it. I was fat, unhappy (difficult childhood), Taiwanese American, super smart, and just…weird. I didn’t watch much TV and we rarely went to the movies. I didn’t listen to pop music until much later. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I ever heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in the sixth grade.

Side note: I just spent a ridiculous amount of time Googling exactly when the song came out and discovered it charted in America in April of 1983, so my apocryphal story could theoretically be true. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way of underling my otherness.

My mom made my clothes including dresses which I hated. Still hate them. Skirts are fine-ish, but not my first choice. I wore one to my nieces wedding, but honestly, if I had some really swish (both literal and metaphorical), I probably would have worn them instead. I don’t wear makeup or use beauty products of any kind. There’s a reason I’m mentioning this, which I’ll come to later.  I got fun of for bringing Taiwanese food because this was waaaaaaaay before ‘ethnic’ food became so popular.


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Malaise gaming is default gaming

Really struggling with depression and anger at the moment for several reasons. Was going to write a post about the sexual harassment and toxic culture of Ubisoft but was not up to it. Instead, let’s talk about comfort gaming. Right now, I’m on a Souls break, and I think it has to do with the lingering exhaustion I feel from the DS III platinum. That really sucked out the enjoyment I had with the game, and I will be honest. Trying to do a character on the PS4 to help Krupa didn’t help. Don’t want to get into that either.

Side note: There’s a dude in the RKG group who is insistent that grinding for the covenant items is doing it the ‘wrong’ way. And he says it every time someone mentions it. Now. Is PvP’ing for the items the official way to do it? Yes. I am not disputing that. The covenants are all co-op based, so the fact that getting the items through the covenants means it’s supposed to be done by co-op. However. It does not mean that getting them by grinding enemies is the ‘wrong’ way. It’s in the fucking game. Every one of the items you need via covenant can be done by grinding, so that definitely means it’s not the ‘wrong’ way. Is it the less preferred way? Yes.

However, this guy is so insistent on co-oping being the correct way to do it. In addition, every time I say that I jump off a cliff rather than fight an invader, he feels compelled to say that I should learn to PvP because it’s fun. no matter how many times I tell him it’s not fun for me or that I suck at it. He said that when I first started playing, I was bad at PvE but now was good at it through practice. I said I was still mediocre at it, but there were ways around that. I didn’t say it, but I was thinking that I wanted to get better at PvE whereas PvP leaves me cold. Also, it’s ableist to assume that everyone can do PvP. I have shitty reaction times for more than one reason, and that isn’t something that gets better with practice.

It’s frustrating because I can see his point of view, but he can’t or won’t see mine. It’s a very white young male point of view, and it’s frustrating to keep banging my head against it. He’s by far the only one, but he’s the most persistent one. In addition, he’s put in nearly two thousand hours into DS III so he eclipses even me in my play of the game.

I’m finding myself less and less enamored of the RKG group in general. There was a racist ‘joke’ meme posted to the group last night by someone I like in general. Oh, same as the guy above. I like him in general. I’m just too old and tired and Asian and female for this shit. It’s not that I feel as if I don’t believe but that I am in the group on sufferance. It’s like that with any group, really, though. As lang as you fit into the parameters of what the group defines for itself, you’re accepted. Most of the parameters of this group are good, but the ones that aren’t, really aren’t.


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Ch-ch-ch-changes…sorta

I feel like I’m drowning. Not physically, but emotionally. First of all, I’m exhausted all the time. That’s not unusual. I’m always tired, but I mean to-the-bone exhausted. I’ve been dozing on-and-off for the past week or so. I’ve been going to bed at weird times and getting up at even weirder times. I will say that the ZonLi cooling weighted blanket has been really beneficial in me getting some solid zzzzzs. It’s not exactly cooling, but it doesn’t make me hot, either. Which is about the most I can hope for with a 15-pound blanket. It’s a comforting weight that is weirdly neutral in hotness. I still can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that it is a blanket that is heavy upon me, but it’s not making me sweat. In addition, it’s cut down on the number of times I wake up in the middle  of the night (sometimes, I sleep through the whole six hours), which is amazing.

I think part of the reason I’m so exhausted is that I’ve been sleep-deprived my entire life. I’m getting more sleep now (and I think I’m on the edge of a cold, but that’s something completely different) than I have, well, ever, and maybe my body is saying, “Where the fuck was this my whole life?” I know you can’t make up a sleep deficit, but it’s like my body is trying desperately. The reason I think I’m getting sick is because I’m sleeping for eight hours and more, which is unheard of for me. Maybe the blanket is allowing it to happen? If so, it’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent. I’ve done so many things in order to sleep more and better, and none of it has worked. Only taiji has improved my sleep, and that was an indirect consequence that happened over ten years. Two hours in ten years? Not bad. If the blanket pushes me over seven, well, then, I consider it a big fat win.

I am curious to see how it works in the winter when I actually do want a bit of warmth from a blanket. I have a hunch it’ll be fine, but if not, then I can add another blanket. I’m not too worried about it because I don’t need much heat. Oh, I do have to keep my feet poked out at the bottom of the cooling blanket in order for optimum temperature control. It’s worth it, though. I still wear my weighted eye mask (that still falls off sometime during the night) and my earplugs (which fall out, too), and I still jam my head under a pillow. Speaking of, my new pillows are mixed. Or rather, my feelings about my new pillows are mixed. They’re fine, but they’re a bit…floofy? Too plump? I dunno. I’m not in love with them, but they’re fine.


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The new normal is much like the old normal

In the first few months of the Covid-19, there was much ink spilled about how life would never be the same and how everything has changed. I was skeptical then and I’m even more skeptical now. I’m not saying things aren’t drastically different–they are. I’m saying that even though situations change, people don’t necessarily change with them. Oh, hell. I’m not explaining this well, but I’ll keep trying.

Have you ever had something big in mind that you were sure would change you? Marriage, losing a large amount of weight (me), a degree, a job, whatever. You work diligently for years to attain the goal, and then, maybe, one day you achieve it. Finally, you’re where you’re supposed to be, and you can live life to the fullest! Then, you realize to your dismay, that life isn’t perfect, and you still have to, well, deal with it. I had this belief when I decided to lose weight (twice). All the shitty things in my life would finally be better, and my life would be perfect.

You can probably guess how that went down. Well, not exactly because I never reached my end goal. That’s because as I got closer to it, I would change it. It was literally impossible for me to meet whatever the current goal was. Two eating disorders later, I can safely say that my life did not change for the better after those two situations. Or when I graduated from college. Or got my first boyfriend. Or got my MA. It’s pretty obvious why–because I’m still me at the end of the day. No matter what I achieve, I’ll still be the same person (more or less).

On the other end, my BFF separated from her husband for a year early-ish in their relationship. She had been with him since she was a teenager, and she thought that there were so many things she could have done if she were on her own. Long story short, she didn’t do the things she thought she would when she was on her own. In other words, it wasn’t he marriage that was stopping her, but she herself.


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