Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Mental Health

My empathy bowl is empty

Was reading my stories (AAM being the main) and there was a question about what to do when your boss was wearing his mask wrong (under the nose). I ran into this when I went to the gas station. An employee was wearing her mask under her nose. I just stayed away and got out as quickly as possible. I know I could have told her to pull it up, but it’s a young woman working a low-paying job. I had my mask on and I was only in there for five minutes. I wasn’t going to add to her already shitty day. However.

If I were in an office where I didn’t need to be and my boss did this? Yeah, no. That would be all kinds of no. There were stories in the comments about people knowing Covid deniers (some of them coworkers) who then got Covid and they (the commenter) having a hard time having any compassion for the person. It reminded me of a question to Dear Prudence from someone whose relatives, want to say brother and sister-in-law, who were avid Covid deniers, spread misinformation, and wouldn’t social distance or wear masks. The LW (letter writer) was pissed because her brother had set up a GoFundMe when he, his wife, and all their children got Covid. He wanted LW to donate and send it around. She was furious and unloaded some righteous anger in her letter to Danny. LW said not only did she not want to give her brother money or send around his request, she had no compassion for him for getting Covid. I don’t even remember her question–probably something about should she do it, anyway? That doesn’t matter because it’s the response I want to focus on.

Danny, rightly so, took the LW to task for being vindictive in her response. He said that it wasn’t the fault of the population that the government has fucked this up so badly and people were confused. This was a few months ago, I hasten to clarify, when information about what to do wasn’t quite as obvious as it is now. Danny also said that wanting someone to pay with their life was cruel no matter the person’s behavior beforehand. He said no one deserved to get Covid for their beliefs/behaviors.


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NaNo rebel coming in hot

I’m writing this on Election Day and I’m stridently ignoring that tidbit until later tonight. I already voted a few weeks ago by mail so I don’t have to do anything today. Four years ago, I was pretty sure that Clinton would win so I watched with eagerness. My excitement turned to dread as the returns came in. Ian was with me and we both were stunned. I sunk into a deep depression when I realized the results and it was doubly terrible because I had been so sure Clinton would win.

Fast-forward to this year. Most of the predictions including Nate Silver (the one who called it for the president and got pilloried for it. I am ashamed to admit I was one who decried him for fearmongering for clickbait) are overwhelmingly pro-Biden, but I am not going to let that happen to me again. I’m hopeful it’s going to be Biden-Harris (though I have no love for Biden), but I have the growing dread that the president will somehow manage to get away with it. I don’t know what it means, but that it’ll be four more years.

So let’s not talk about it. Let’s talk about NaNoWriMo instead. Or NaNo Rebel. Or whatever. In two days, I’ve written 8,000 words. To be fair, I started at midnight on the 1st, which I count as the 31st of October in my brain (day doesn’t start until I get up), but it feels good to have almost 10,000 under my belt. It’s me writing a thousand words at a time–sometimes forcing myself. I had been trying to be kind and allowing myself to take breaks whenever I wanted. That led to me writing for five minutes, breaking for ten minutes, taking a smoke break, then back to writing for five minutes. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Now, I’ve told myself firmly that I have to write a thousand words before I can do anything else. Then, I take a small break and do a thousand more. It’s not been easy, but it’s been invigorating. It really has changed my writing habit and drastically. In addition, I feel better about this project than I did when I was babying myself.

To be clear–I’m not putting down self-care. I think it’s important to  know your limits and to honor the fact that it’s a really difficult time right now. There are days when you simply cannot (this seems to be one of them for me), but at least for me, it’s time to be a bit more strict with myself and only myself.

In addition, I set the goal of writing 100,000 words this month. I’m still sticking to it, but I’m toying with a few twists to my goal. For one thing, I want to do a short bio of each of the main characters. Or rather, a backstory for each. Especially each sister and the aunt because they are so important. Like a snapshot of each. It wouldn’t be included in the novel, but it would be a good addendum to the trilogy.

Nothing big. Just 5,000 word snippets of each character. There probably wouldn’t be one for the main character because all three novels have snippets of her life. Plus, a few of the besties. Maybe seven in total? That’s an extra 35,000 words. If I do that, then I really won’t finish by the end of the year. But it intrigues me. Therefore, I may do it. One of my issues is being very rigid in my thinking and once I get something in my head, I have a hard time bending from what I said I was going to do.


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Free to breathe

I have a problem doing what I need to be doing. In this case, mailing in my absentee ballot. I’m registered to vote and requested my ballot in the beginning of September. I didn’t get my ballot and didn’t get my ballot so I checked the SoS website. It said it was sent September 18th. What??? I only checked my mail once a week (Sunday when I went to put out the trash) and there it was–two weeks after they said they sent it. Which meant it took at least five or six days to get to me–which shouldn’t be the case.

Then, I set it on my counter and didn’t do anything about it for two weeks because that’s how I roll. We had a bit of snow yesterday and it was predicted we’d get 5 – 8 inches today (now downgraded to 4 – 6) and it was getting uncomfortably close to the election for my taste. So, I went to mail it (I don’t trust my mailbox for good reason) and it felt so damn good to be driving with the windows down in 30 degree weather. I felt alive and refreshed; I had forgotten how much I loved doing that.

By the way, voting in my small city is so easy. I just Google candidates for about fifteen minutes and bob’s your uncle. Even for ‘non-partisan’ (yes, in quotes) positions, it’s fairly easy to tell where they stand on issues. If the first thing they mention is taxes, they’re not the candidate for me. If there’s no mention of social justice (especially with the current events being what they are), hard no. If there’s no challenger such as with judges, I don’t vote. I’m not feeling great about this year’s election for many reasons, but I knew I had to vote.

Being in the car with the window down, the brisk wind reddening my cheek, that felt good. Now, I’m on snow watch and it’s coming down hard. I can feel my soul expanding as I watch it fall. Oh, this is another reason I am not good with people. I love winter. I love snow and the cold. When the weather drops below forty, I feel more alive. Other people get SAD in the winter; I get it in the summer. Or rather, I get irrationally angry when the temperature rises about seventy. Put me in zero degrees with my weighted ‘cool’ blanket and a mug of dairy-free hot chocolate with my cat on my lap? Hell to the motherfucking yes!


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Fighting mad

I’m still feeling shitty. I’m doing another excavation as to what is causing my digestive issues. Strawberries for one. Also, berries are really frustrating in that they go bad in three days, but that’s not the point of this post. Strawberries are starting to hurt my stomach, which is a shame. Blackberries and blueberries are on the cusp.

I woke up feeling super shitty today and slammed down two migraine meds (non-prescription). I’ve been trying not to use them every day because I don’t want to blunt the usefulness, but that has meant white-knuckling a few days where I didn’t use them.

I’ve had to pare back on my taiji weapons because I just can’t do it all. I mean, it’s a lot to begin with, but my body is not up for doing the whole thing. I don’t like it, but there we are.

Taiji, refinements, weapons, life

I’m roughly 90% healthy after my run-in with my nemesis, gluten. I spent all of yesterday feeling punk. I ate crackers (gluten-free!!!), chips, and chicken nuggets (with plain rice). I was still bloated and uncomfortable, and I still had to run to the bathroom more than I wanted to. I had no motivation to do anything (well, even less than normal), and I just felt gross. Today, I have, well, no motivation, but I don’t feel as miserable as I did yesterday.

With that out of the way, let’s talk taiji. One of my best traits is that I learn things quickly. It’s also one of my worst traits because it makes me lazy. I don’t practice as much as I should because of it, and I’m resistant to changes even though it usually doesn’t take me long to incorporate them. Wait. That’s a different problem. Anyway. Let’s talk about the Solo Form, long since the bane of my existence. I’ve been honest that I hated it when I first started taiji over a decade ago. I thought it was slow and boring and SO FUCKING SLOW AND BORING. I sucked it up because it would get me to where i wanted to be, which was the martial art applications. Weapons? Uh uh, no. Never in a million year, not for me, thanks, mate (watching too many British YouTubers).

Begrudgingly, I learned the Solo Form. Begrudgingly, I practiced it in class. Begrudgingly, I started doing a bit at home, but that was years later. I reached a point of neutrality with the Solo Form and I was able to see why it was beneficial. I mean, I was always able to see it, but I could tell the positive effects it’s had on my life. I was able to move through crowds by ‘seeing’ the gaps. I didn’t actually see them, but I felt them. I wasn’t as uncomfortable in a large crowd (still didn’t love it). I injure myself much less even if I’m not any less clumsy.

The problem is that once I ‘learned’ a movement, I stopped thinking about it. That doesn’t mean I perfected it, of course, which is part of the problem. Part of taiji is refinement but because I don’t love the Solo Form, I don’t put in conscious effort to refine the movements. It’s funny because Fist Under Elbow used to be my least-favorite movement (well, one of two least favorites), but it was one I knew the best because I had to take more time than usual to learn it. It’s the same with Cloud Hands which is everyone’s favorite. I hate it, so I know it well. I had a classmate who liked to recount how I taught it to him so well that he got it the first time. Again, because it’s my least-favorite movement, I’ve put a lot of thought into it.


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Knives in is better than Knives Out

I hated Knives Out as I mentioned in my two-part review. In part because it didn’t have enough bladed weapons, even though admittedly it was a tiny part of the reason. This is just a clever way for me to say that I love weapons. A lot. This is not news to anyone who knows me, but the depth of my passion might be. Except to my taiji teacher. She is well-used to me gushing about some weapon or the other. I appreciate her patience because she is not a weapons person herself. She doesn’t dislike them, I don’t think, but she’s at best neutral about them.

One consequence of my training is that I have become a ‘well, actually’ person when it comes to weaponry that I know. I mean, it’s not unusual. I hate movies with psychologists in them because they break SO MANY LAWS. Similarly, taiji in most movies is just people waving their hands in the air. I watched Truly, Madly, Deeply with Alan Rickman in it, and there’s a scene in which he is playing the cello. I love Alan Rickman immensely, and he did a decent job of mimicking a cellist, but it was obvious he didn’t really play.

So, yeah, it’s not unusual that I wince when I see weapons-play in movies or TV. I remember when Game of Thrones was a thing. There was a scene between Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth that had everyone online raving about it. Especially ‘girl power’ and that kind of thing. I finally watched the clip, and I was underwhelmed. The two actors did the best with what they were giving, but the whole thing was ludicrous. Let’s start with the constant clashing of swords. Look. If you have a pointy-stabby thing in your hand, you’re not looking to clash it against another pointy-stabby thing. You’re looking to point and stab it into a soft bit. This is not rocket science. In addition, the wild swinging and slashing is both wasted energy expended and leaving yourself open to an attack.


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Mental health and gaming

This has been a shit week. Yesterday, for a brief moment, there was the exhilarating news that the remastered/remake of Demon’s Souls (by FromSoft, but the remake is being done by Bluepoint games) was going to be on PC. That brightened my entire week, and I was so stoked. I mean, look at it.

If you know anything about the game and even if you don’t, you gotta admit it looks amazing. If you look very closely at the end, you’ll see it says it’s coming to the PC. And there was much rejoicing! What a boost on an otherwise shitty day (well, the day itself wasn’t shitty, but that’s not the point).

Then, later in the evening, it all came undone. It turns out that it was NOT coming to the PC, no how, no way. Nuh uh, why would you think so never mind the text that said it would actually come to the PC? Oh, that? That was human error a rep of Sony said. Was never meant to be! Look over there. *flees*

Ok, that wasn’t exactly what happened, but it’s how my brain interpreted it. The human error comment is real but the rest is just head canon. What Sony said in the walkback  was that the text in THE ACTUAL GAMEPLAY TRAILER was human error and that the remake of Demon’s Souls was a PS5 exclusive. Period.

To which I say, bullshit. Why? For several reason. One, the push for Dark Souls on the PC played a significant role in catapulting the series to the lofty heights it enjoys today. Two, it wouldn’t have been in the text if it wasn’t a consideration. Three, because I want it to be bullshit.

Look. I know they were in a hard place when this snafu happened. The hype the PC announcement created could not be put back in the box. PC gamers (and I am one) are rabid about our PCness and our gaming. Souls fans are on another level. So, yeah. I can see how they would be cringing at this point. Let’s face it. There’s no satisfactory response except, “Why, yes, it’s coming to the PC.”

Here’s what I think happened. A Demon’s Souls remake is big. Fans have been clamoring for one for years. Screaming for it. Pleading for it. Offering their first born children for it. I don’t think it’s a leap to say that it’s one of the top two things most requested by FromSoft fans* and with the arrival of the PS5, that seemed like a perfect time for the remake to be released.

Given this as a backdrop, it makes sense that Sony would want it as a PS5 exclusive/launch game. I don’t blame them for selling their consoles however they can. My theory is that they wanted it to be an exclusive for a year or so (which is more or less the timing of exclusives) before announcing the PC launch.

At least, I hope that’s the case. If it’s not, then I guess I will not be playing Demon’s Souls for the rest of my life, which is sad. Or, I’ll do what I did for Bloodborne–buy a PS4 (PS5 in this case) years later at a ridiculously low price in order to play one game.

Anyway. Back to the shitty week part. One way I can tell how depressed I’m getting is what games I play or more importantly, don’t. Oh wait. We have to go back because that’s the way I roll. I am picky about the media I consume in any form. I’ve written about this in the past so I’m not going to rehash the details. Suffice to say it’s difficult to find things I like/click with, and I don’t gel with far more things than I do. When I do, I  play the hell out of them but it takes me forever to get there.

Actually, that’s me in general. It takes me a lot of energy to do anything even something I enjoy and if I’m not enjoying it, I abandon it pretty damn quickly. So in the case of gaming, it takes me forever to actually buy a game. Unless there’s a demo that I immediately like such as Spiritfarer.

Ah, Spiritfarer. Can we take a minute so I can reminisce about how much I adore this game? Ok, minute over.

I try to give each game a fair shake, but I know myself. If something doesn’t grab me within five or ten minutes, it’s never going to do so. You may think Dark Souls is the exception to the rule, but it’s not. While I ended up hating the game by the end of the first playthrough, it had me grabbed the entire time.

On my best days, I can try a new game and see what I think of it. On my worst days, however, I don’t have the energy for that. I know it sounds very twee and precious, but, yes, I need energy to try a new game. Just like I need energy to, say, go to the grocery store (not these days ‘coz I’m not going there no way no how) or make dinner.

On the days when I just can’t, there are games I keep in my back pocket.

Here’s another monkey in the wrench. Is that the phrase? It is now. The Souls series used to be my go-to, specifically Dark Souls III. Ever since my two non-plat runs, however, I’ve been on a break of sorts from the Souls games. Note I say that I have two of the plats. I do not have the plat for Dark Souls II for a few reasons. I started with the original game because that’s what Krupa (of RKG) was doing. Then, I moved to DS III because that’s my favorite of the three. Then, I was completely wiped out and done with it. I put aside all the games indefinitely and have only now started diving back into them again. And by them, I mean the third game.

I’m currently re-watching a few Let’s Play of the original game, and I kinda want to play again. I started up the third game again and it’s feeling good. I’m watching a playthrough of the second game and, well, it’s complicated. I want to play it again, but I know if I do, I’ll try to not-plat it. I don’t want to not-plat it, mind you, but it’s just how I am.

Anyway! The one game I can play no matter what is Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.** I’ve put so many hours into it–no, not gonna tell you how many–that I could play it in my sleep. There are a few new rooms even now which is interesting, but it’s as familiar to me as my skin. I would like to note there is going to be another update soon. I’m reaching the point of new content fatigue, but I know I’ll play it, anyway.

Here’s the time when casual games really stand out. When I can’t handle learning a new ‘hardcore’ game, I can fall back on a solitaire game or a hidden object game and still get a gaming fix without putting too much effort into it. I used think it weird that I would flip back and forth between hardcore and casual games on the regular, but I’m fine with it now. It’s a nice way to unwind on a day when I’m stressed out, anxious, or just plain distressed.

I still can’t wait for Elden Ring, though.

 

 

 

*BB II is number one. Not going to happen, my friends.

**Obligatory yes I know that’s not the current iteration of the game but it’s the one I want it to be.

Mental health: the good, the bad, and the ugly

It’s been a rough week. Nothing big, but just little things over and over. A few nights ago, I dropped a bowl and shattered it in the wee hours of the morning. Totally my fault. I was trying to carry too many things as I normally do because I’d rather make one trip than two.

Back it up a bit. I’ve been feeling sick for nearly a week. Not ‘rona virus sick, but my usual bad cold/allergies/sinus/change of seasons sick. It’s worse than usual, though, because I’ve been getting the chills. That’s when I know I’m really sick. My sleep is for shit which is par the course when I’m sick as well. I mean, it’s normal for me in general to have disordered sleep, but it’s been slightly better since I started taiji. Still. I get six to seven hours of sleep a night, which is better than the four I used to get, but still not enough. I’m constantly exhausted, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Sort of. Basically, I’m resigned to my fate.

One of the symptoms of me getting sick is when I sleep for eight hours or more. It’s one of the few things I actually like about being sick. Ok, the only thing. It doesn’t make me feel more rested when I’m awake, though. The benefit is strictly that it knocks me out for a few hours more.

So, when I get sick, it can last anywhere from weeks to months. I haven’t been really sick since the pandemic started (one of the few benefits of never leaving the house), and I was naively hoping that I would be able to skip the colds this year. Nope.

Anyway, so that’s the background for the rest of what I’m going to write about. I dropped that bowl in the wee hours of the night a few nights ago right before I was going to bed. I was not happy about it, obviously, and I had to lock up Shadow in the guest room so he wouldn’t step on the ceramic pieces. I used treats to lure him there while I took care of the shattered pieces. When I went back to let him out, I fully expected him to yell at me for locking him up. Instead, he was cozied up on the bed and snoozing. When I opened the door, he opened one eye to blearily stare at me, but otherwise stayed put.


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The desultory approach to my life

it's ya boi, straid!
Straid, my mentor in evil and Pyromancy!

I’ve been out of sorts since I’ve finished Spiritfarer. I’ve played a bit of Dark Souls III, and I always forget just how fragile you are at the beginning. It’s because I spend so much time beefing up so that by the time I’m in the end game, I’m pretty solid. Having so little Estus is not fun at all. By the way, that’s one thing DS III has taken from DS II that I do not appreciate–having to find Estus Shards in order to increase the number of sips from the Estus Flask. I much prefer Dark Souls in which you have five Estus unless there’s a Fire Keeper–then you have ten. You can get the Rite of Kindling from the Catacombs to have the ability to increase your Estus to 20 per kindled bonfire.

I will say that DS II had an interesting take on healing. You had to find the Estus Shards to increase your Estus Flask, but there are also Life Gems of varying size. They are consumables, and they take forever to heal you. But, they also break the game because pretty soon in the game, you can buy unlimited amounts of Life Gems. It reached the point where I carried 99 (the max) Life Gems with me and would use them between bonfires. I saved my Estus Flask for the boss fights, and it broke the game. Did I feel shame? No. It’s in the game. did I feel it took away some of the pressing danger? Yes. But, this game is brutally hard in places,  especially the Scholar of the First Sin edition; I took whatever advantage I could get. Did I consider not doing it? No.

My niece is playing Dark Souls II as a pure mage. She showed me a pic, and she has enough intelligence (50) to use the best staff, the Staff of Wisdom. It’s Straid’s weapon, and he’s my best boy. He’s one of my fave NPCs of the game, and it’s really irritating that I have to use a Forbidden Branch of Yore to free him. They’re plentiful later in the game, but at the point when I meet him, it’s a choice between him and the other Pyromancy trainer. I don’t like her as much, but she has the basics that I need.

I’m watching a playthrough of DS II as well, and I kinda want to play it now. I have a game started in which I’m roughly two-thirds done, not including the DLC. The thing is, though, I have no desire to do the plat, but I know that if I play it again, I’ll get sucked into doing the plat. The plat for Spiritfarer was relatively easy because I was so thorough while playing, I only had to do a little bit at the end to clean things up. I was able to do it in one playthrough with a bit of fudging (had to use a prior autosave in order to get both answers to a question I was asked), which is not a possibility for any of the Souls games.

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