The I who is not I is perfect stealth because of the faces she wears. Her hair is blue like mine but her face is painted at will, and sometimes she has no face at all when she wears the silvery suits. The I who is not I slinks in cotton and lace, cinches her waist, and moves with a grace dissimilar. The I who is not I peers over her spectacles smirking in the mirror and dreams of social subterfuge (contrast I, specters of simulation stripped). Yet underneath her false velvet is I who is I, made of steel.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: drabble, half-baked, personal, wordplay
Categories : life
Today is the first time I have felt brave enough to write about him in anything other than brief mentions of profound sorrow.
At first we were light, playful, nakedly startled at our mutual discovery of the other. Tumbling over each other and ourselves came naturally, both with our words and with our bodies. We giggled over geeky tropes and conspired to climb mountains. We grabbed each other’s hands, seeing who could run faster, out of breath because we’d chain smoked so we’d have an excuse to keep talking.
His marriage initially made things uncomfortable, but as a powerful friendship developed, we chalked it up to growing pains. She and I are of similar minds, and we eventually commiserated passionately on everything and nothing at all. He spent hours pounding metal and came up with a lily in aluminum and copper. He smiled as proudly as it shimmered when I told him the defects didn’t matter — it was experimental like I was, and there will be no other like it. We made plans and mistakes, patching up the bruises lovingly, trying to squeeze into something that fit and noting when something broke in fits of excitement. The first time love spilled from our lips, I thought the moment peerless.
But even lilies wilt.
The storms that plague my head slowly flooded him, and our words were sharp like thunder and as volatile. Slowly the landscape around us burned, unnoticed by we who tried to protect the lone flower. I shivered against the rain, never realising that the lily was left dry and slowly withering. All I had to do was look down and water the lily, but I was busy looking up and cursing the rain.
We sat on his front steps on a brisk evening and he told me nothing was left. I, ever the atrociously-timed optimist, insisted it wasn’t so, and that I loved him and could improve. My heart broke at his doubt. Three weeks later, trying forlornly to talk about something, I plucked the blossom, saying that trying to save it now was futile.
We have only spoken passingly and awkwardly since.
I do not know if it will bloom again. Lilies are perennials and hardier than succumbing to a wayward kick, yet all flowers are delicate, and the roots have gone long neglected. Perhaps it will. But while the winter endures, I will hold the shriveled petals in my hands with nothing but regret for company.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: fear, hope, loss, love, partners, personal, polyamory
Categories : life
I talk an awful lot about mental health. I swear, I do other things, but the grisly specter of depression and the airless crush of anxiety are constantly with me and colour everything I do.
This time it’s at work. My productivity is, again, slipping. Alas.
My boss being someone I have a good working relationship with, though, and also an incredibly nice person, noticed and was as gentle as he could be about it while also making it clear what would happen if it wasn’t fixed. This is what happened at my last job, and I didn’t disclose nearly soon enough and didn’t advocate for myself at all. I have decided that whatever the outcome, I am not going to make that mistake again.
Yet my new company is much bigger and as such has a process for doing these things, which will probably require me to advocate for myself to my boss’s boss as well as his boss. For someone with an anxiety disorder with social triggers, it’s hard to describe the terror inherent in this. Both because I have to discuss some very personal issues with some very-higher-ups, but also because I am semi-publicly admitting that my brain does not work the way that others’ brains do and that I need to have something different to get me up to snuff.
Especially for a woman, when for us the response is often “she’s just overemotional” behind our backs, and especially in a male-dominated industry, asking for a special accommodation feels like admitting that I am less. I am not as able as my coworkers. I am not neurotypical. I need to try doing things differently, and the difference in this case will be conspicuous.
But the alternative is unemployment, and I cannot fall back on anyone now, neither for advice nor for pecuniary support. No one I know has done this before and no one I know can provide anything other than encouraging words. My boss is tremendously supportive of my needs, but he admits his knowledge of the situation pales in comparison to mine. The only person who can help and advocate for me is me, and this is new ground. I am afraid, but giving up is not an option, and I have to learn to be strong in the face of being my own worst enemy.
I have to learn to be able to help myself, and in this case, I have to learn to say my piece articulately and without shame. If I do that, I have done the very best I can.
Comments : 1 Comment »
Tags: advocacy, anxiety, disability, inner strength, mental illness, self-help, work
Categories : life
I’ve heard comments over and over from friends and passersby whenever a Lyft car passes on the street. They are without fail to the tune of:
“What kind of hipster wacko puts a pink mustache on their grill?”
I admit that I saw a few, rolled my eyes, and thought little else of it until I was encouraged on a Facebook thread to give Lyft a try instead of Uber. Being a novelty junkie but also incredibly socially anxious, I dithered. I’m really supposed to sit up front? Isn’t that too familiar? I thought, one of my more antiquated sensibilities perched fussily on my shoulder. Yet the disembodied voice of my ever-precarious bank account spoke practicality: If you’re going to be that way about the bus, you might as well take the cheapest option.
Having outwitted myself, I installed the app, fiddled around with getting it to see where I actually was versus the house down the street whose occupants once lit their basement on fire, and summoned my first Lyft.
After tiptoeing to the passenger-side window and receiving a friendly nod, I got in and was immediately comfortable. My driver, Roudimilove (who I have regrettably not seen again — I hope he’s well), chatted about everything and nothing with me, asked about what I did for work, commiserated on current events, and was all around a great guy.
I think I’ve taken a good 50 Lyfts since then (which was about 3 months ago), and at this point I take them not because I’m too lazy to take the T, but because I’ve met so many interesting people and at this point have had a few conversations pick up where they left off when I see a driver the second or third time. It’s cheaper than a cab, just ekes out ahead of UberX in terms of price, and Lyft cultivates a community of friendly people who either need a ride or have a ride to give.
The downsides — because there’s always one or two — are that there are not enough Lyft drivers around at a given time to guarantee that you’ll always be able to find one, and the risk of either getting a crap driver or having a bad experience. I’ve never had a bad experience with Lyft, though the possibility is always there. Considering how social it is, it’s possible that talking about a subject could accidentally make a ride awkward. The big downside for drivers is that drivers are not employees of Lyft; they’re independent contractors, which removes a lot of the protections that would be afforded if a driver was actually an employee. There’s also the bit where Lyft advertises that drivers make $20-35 hourly, which I’ve heard differing reports on. Some are making quite a bit less because of gas prices and various other things.
All in all, the pros outweigh the cons, in part because I have to qualify my previous statement with the fact that despite the varying income, every driver I’ve talked to save for one has said they are very happy driving for Lyft and the company has done right by them.
Viva la ‘stache!
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: apps, lyft, pink mustache, technology, transportation
Categories : life
The night we went to the party is the night my mask slipped in a way I can never allow again.
I had been apprehensive. She was new and I felt encroached upon, and despite our cheerful and amiable agreement to talk about it in person beforehand, my chest was caving in. You know the press of anxiety on your chest (and you’re lucky if you don’t). Our sex life, mine and his, is mostly maintenance nowadays, while he does the fun stuff elsewhere, and considering my sex life is 99% him, sex is largely a chore. The SSRI makes even enjoying it tiresome. I’m bored, I said. I feel inadequate, he said. My old friend, inadequacy. Doggy style beggars me and you feel inadequate? I said to myself, dryly.
My chest caved in some more.
The scene earlier in the day went bad, I flashed back to an old abuser, his anxiety over me increases steadily every time something like this happens. He says he’s willing to keep trying, but actions speak louder than words and silence speaks volumes, and the silence of his actions is ringing in my ears.
We’ll go spelunking. It’ll be a fun adventure.
We got to the party and I slipped into the world I visit from time to time when I am alone. He wouldn’t move the car, afraid I would jump out. (He’ll never know I couldn’t move.) The doctor called it a micropsychotic episode, I call it slipping behind the veil. This world, that existence; that is where I live each day and pass it through the assembly line to be picked at until it looks human. I’ve gotten rather good at talking to myself without speaking.
Are we lost?
The familiar sting of a metaphorical slap came when I stumbled across the picture on the porch; self-satisfaction I will never have. Despite exterior calm, I shook, and no one knew it wasn’t from the cold. I shook for fear and love, I shook for things he’s getting elsewhere despite my crying out for novelty, I shook because I dared not cry. I still won’t cry. The pictures say it all — they’re not of me — but I was told this would happen. I was told I’d not just feel inadequate but be inadequate. The mask stayed up while the monologue turned to flames.
Isn’t there a map?
The cavern in my chest where my heart was expands each day; my heart lies within it but the cavern will never be big enough to protect it. Do I let the adventurers find it and prize it as loot, or do I play the asshole DM and summon a dragon when I’ve been backed into a corner? The bigger the cavern, the more demons come to reside in it, but the demons protect my heart. I have lost it before.
I guess we’ll have to find our own way out. Come on, we’ll do it together.
My mask is on tightly again, or I should say, I cannot let it slip again lest the world see more of my inner rooms. Existing in a constant state of panic is tiring; hiding it from the world, even more so, and sometimes the pressure builds up and I need a break, and then I break. He says he’s here for me, but I never wanted a brace; I wanted to walk again. He uses my rope on people further down the rabbit hole than I, and yet the broken one is me. He is satisfied with my unsatisfaction, and I see him walking out ahead of me, but I am not sure if I ought to follow. It’s warm here.
Let’s rest for a while.
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: anxiety, depression, fear, mental illness, partners, polyamory
Categories : life
This is a post I made on a Facebook thread which I thought was descriptive enough to repost here. Redacted in one place to remove a friend’s name.
Depression is a mental illness. It is not something we can ‘love ourselves’ out of, and it’s kind of horribly insulting to imply that that’s the case. You know why I apologise about my feelings?
Because I hate them.
I hate them because half the time hating things is better than not being able to feel anything at all, or feeling everything so painfully that I literally become an invalid because I can’t exist like a human being so I hide in my room and play mindless games that allow me to not think about the outside world for a while. I accept that these feelings exist, but that certainly doesn’t stop my brain from having them. As a friend said, it must be nice for the people who don’t have brains that have decided they hate them. Depression is a lot of things; rational is not one of them.
And this puts pressure on the people I’m close to because it isn’t really their job to know how I’m feeling today nor how to help me do things like get out of bed or do laundry or things that not-mentally-ill people can do without thinking. Feeling sad and depression are dramatically different. Everyone feels sad at one time or another.
But I am not just sad — I don’t remember what it’s like to not suffer from depression anymore. I don’t remember how it feels to be content or to wake up happy more than one day in a row. I don’t remember what it’s like to not have a low hum of anxiety over leaving the goddamn house or seeing a particular person at a party with whom I’ve had a spat or having someone watch me eat.
I love myself just fine — really, I do — but depression is an uglier monster than that. I will feel my feelings exactly how I want to, and if I feel the need to apologise, to say I’m sorry for how my revolting pit of despair might make you, the reader, feel, I am sympathetic to the fact that you may want to help but be unsure of how, I will apologise and I will walk away from that apology with every ounce of my dignity intact.
My experience with mental illness requires a lot more cure than love. It’s a start, but as much as my hippity-doo-dah side might want to believe love is all you need, sometimes you also need Prozac.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: depression, mad, mental illness, personal
Categories : life
It’s time for another game review! *gong*
Lately I’ve been completely addicted to Crusader Kings II. I don’t typically get really into games like this, but it happens every once in a blue moon, and typically either with something totally mindless (hi, TF2) or something that requires a lot of thought. That said, I’m going to try to be fair, so while I personally want to give it high ratings because I can’t stop playing it, my taste in games knows no rationality.
I really want to bump this up considering I like it, but while it can be as addicting as any game, the gameplay has some fairly glaring flaws.
The main issue with CKII (and, actually, a lot of Paradox’s games) is that it’s very difficult to get into and has a fairly steep learning curve. The tutorial is absolute junk in how it takes you through — don’t hit the Continue button; you’ll miss parts. Go back to the topics and go through them one by one. Even then, it skims some bits that become important later on, though by that time you’ll have hopefully figured the UI out enough to be able to make your way.
Once you get past figuring out what the hell is going on, though, you’ll be in an environment of courtly intrigues and feudal battles for supremacy. If you like anything resembling high fantasy or medieval fight scenes, you’ll enjoy yourself. The system by which alliances are determined is complex and interesting, mostly consisting of marrying off your children. Whether pregnancy happens and the gender of the child is completely luck of the draw — certain personality traits of the character affect the chance of becoming pregnant (i.e., there is absolutely no chance of a eunuch having kids, and a woman over 40 is “past childbearing age”, but a Lustful character will beget children on anything that stays at court long enough). So, when I say “try to have a son”, what I mean is either try to change the line of succession to your title to something that allows daughters to inherit (this is difficult if your empire is large for a few reasons) or try to avoid you or your spouse kicking the bucket. Marrying off courtiers can also gain you allies if a courtier is your kin.
Another way to gain alliances is to send your children to be tutored at another court (or by a courtier of your own). This is useful if a particular individual has traits you would like to see in your child or heir, and you get a reasonable bonus to the character’s opinion of you for entrusting them with a ward.
The combat AI is not great. It’s not total garbage, but it’s simplistic and seems like it got pushed to the wayside in favour of the alliance/intrigues capability. When you decide to go to war (or get dragged into a war by your liege), the outcome is again largely determined with simple percentages. I’ve lost battles that should have been trouncings because of what is essentially a bad roll of the dice. It’s entertaining but unrealistic. Calling troops in to war from your allies is borderline useless as they will come to your capital and sit there with no way to effect any kind of control. Your allies calling you in typically means you’ll be soloing the war unless you just don’t send any troops. (Which is actually a perfectly valid strategy incurring no penalty, so if it’s a war you don’t really care about, it works.) You may, however, want to consider sending troops to the Crusades when they get called.
Sending your troops somewhere seems to attempt the quickest route though certainly not the most strategic or direct. There is no way to modify the strategy your troop movement takes, so you’ll have to fudge it on your own.
All in all, getting the hang of it is tricky and it has some downfalls (particularly if you like battles), but it’s fun and engaging otherwise, and watching your characters grow and develop and eventually die is entertaining.
Eyes & Ears: 4.5/5
Knock half a star for repetition, but the music is actually fairly good. You’ll hear the same music and sounds in the background, but the music isn’t annoying and the sounds are actually useful to alert you to things going on (i.e., you’ll want to know when your son has a child).
The graphics are pretty if a little bit dated in some ways, and the attention to detail in the faces and names is also interesting. They paid much more attention to character detail than other details, though the map is accurate and the number of crests for even very small houses is impressive.
On my Lenovo ThinkPad E430 with integrated gfx and 8GB of RAM, it runs okay. Some parts are slower than they should be, strictly speaking, and the game takes an incredibly long time to load. I have to conclude that it’s a result of inefficient memory usage rather than a lot of things going on, because it shouldn’t take upwards of two minutes to load a few game saves.
Otherwise it runs pretty well, and even bringing up as many troops as possible and going through a number of characters in quick succession doesn’t stymie it.
CKII is actually a decent game. It’s not the greatest game you will ever play, but for a strategy game from a company known for in-depth strategy games, it holds its own.
Fun Tips From Your Friendly Neighbourhood Casual Gamer
1. Either have a son, or make it so your daughters can succeed you.
Agnatic elective is incredibly annoying and requires a lot of work and bribery to get your vassals to not turn on you, so if you can, absolute cognatic primogeniture is a decent way to go. (Or ultimogeniture if your eldest is an unfit ruler.)
2. Bribe everyone you can, early and often.
Making gifts to key people is a pretty good way to get a permanent opinion boost, which can mean the difference between plotting against you and allying with you. Don’t discount small lords with minimal holdings; if they go to war for you it can make a difference.
3. Don’t forget your council!
Make sure your councilors are out doing things. In particular, never never never let your Chancellor or Spymaster be sitting idle. The Chancellor is an easy in for diplomatic relations if they’re a capable diplomat, and the Spymaster is a pretty good way to ruin your rivals’ and enemies’ days. Your Marshal is also useful if you’re having a revolution problem.
4. Play nice with the Pope.
It might be obnoxious, but the Pope’s favour means a lot. Being excommunicated is a big hit to everyone’s opinion of you and is a valid casus belli for people to make war upon you, just because. If you do end up excommunicated. the Pope is not in any way immune to bribery, so sending him a gift can tip the scales just enough in your favour to be able to successfully petition for the excommunication being lifted. You can also send your Chancellor to curry favour with the Pope for you.
Party on, Wayne!
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: courtly intrigue, crusader kings 2, games, reviews
Categories : games