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Archive for July, 2010

Fun & Games

I like to balance my controller on my boobs sometimes.

Even taking pictures doesn't distract me from my game.

I’ve always liked playing games. Not just video games, but card games, board games, and everything in between. I even got into trading card games for a while in my youth (mostly Pokemon, which I am not ashamed of). I’ve always liked games that exercised the mind and used strategy as well as luck. I also like games of chance, although a bit less than games that require actual skill.

The only game I remember disliking as a child was Monopoly, and solely because it took forever to play until someone won. What my family usually ended up doing was playing until we got bored, then counting up everyone’s money and land values and declaring the person with the most the winner (I’m fairly sure a lot of families did this, actually).

One game I personally really liked that my family didn’t have much use for was Life. I dunno why it was so appealing to me, but I used to play with the game board even when no one else was interested in playing also. I did that with another game we had too, it was based on Robin Hood and had a little plastic castle, and wooden pieces to represent Robin and the Sheriff and such. That one I played on my own too. Really, my brothers tended to be a bit too busy with their NES and SNES to play with me, so unless I could convince my parents to play (which they usually wouldn’t do because I tended to beat them) I usually messed with the board games alone. I was never any good at Solitaire card games, though, so I didn’t do them as much.

I remember a game I used to play on our old computer, called You Don’t Know Jack. I think it’s still around, actually, but PC only these days (of course). We had four versions of it, the first three regular versions and the movie version. One summer I got so bored that I played one of them (I think it was the second one) until I had almost every answer memorized, and then gleefully beat anyone who I could convince to play with me (before they realized I knew every answer, that is). I credit that game for most of my enjoyment of useless trivia and silly game shows (I used to watch Win Ben Stein’s Money all the damn time in high school).

I didn’t start playing video games until I was more computer-savvy. My mother worked for a while as a consultant for a company that sold educational software, which meant she got a lot of free versions of really cool games like Cosmic Osmo and those old CD-rom games that were versions of popular kids books but interactive, or collections of several games of skill that were also educational. I think she actually used me as a guinea pig a couple times, because she would ask me which games I liked. XD Not that that’s a bad thing for someone trying to sell educational games to schools to know. ;D Most of those games would probably be way too easy now, but they were still really fun and I wouldn’t mind playing them again (although I don’t know how I could, considering how long ago this was).

Really, until I learned of RPGs I didn’t have any interest in actually playing video games myself. Mostly I bugged my brothers to let me sit and watch them play, until they got tired of me and told me to go away (mostly because I asked too many questions). Sometimes, when he was in a really good mood, my middle brother would narrate the scenes to me. I have fond memories of him doing this, and there are still scenes in oldschool SNES games (or their DS ports) that I hear in his voice. I distinctly remember that the first video game I ever played on a console was Earthbound, for SNES. It was so weird to play it, when I was used to just watching, but it was also a ton of fun. I quickly moved on to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, and played them many times, but never actually beat them. I’m not sure where my fear of beating a game originally came from, although I know that there are parts relating to my perfectionism (I want to make sure I get everything done first) and parts relating to not wanting the fun to end. These days I generally do better about actually beating games, but it took me a long time. Even games I enjoyed (or perhaps especially them) were difficult for me to beat. I’m fairly sure I didn’t beat a video game for the first time until I was in high school, and it was a SNES game on an emulator. I still haven’t beaten the first Kingdom Hearts game either, despite beating the second and 358/2 Days. For some reason, though, I’ve beaten Dragon Age six times now (that’s what I was playing in the picture). XD So I don’t know. I do know I enjoy games more when I have the option to go back and play them with my endgame stats (Chrono Trigger, The World Ends With You, etc). I like to relive the story bits, without all the work.

I can understand why some people of older generations seem to distrust video games. But I can’t agree with them. I’ve loved games of any kind since I was a kid, and video games were a natural extension for someone who grew up in the digital age. Even if I hadn’t had two older brothers who were seriously into video games growing up (and still are), I probably would have ended up playing them at some point anyway. I think it’s one of the ways to exercise your brain. It’s certainly more stimulating that watching TV.

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Pretty pretty

Really?

Let me distract you with my hair.

Oh well, I am dead.

I like pretty things. Every since I was a child, I was attracted to things I deemed pretty, including rocks (the stories my mother could tell you about the rocks I brought home), toys, and books. I would just as often pick a book up because I liked the cover art, without really bothering to read about the story (this changed as I got older, although I do still like good cover art). I wanted the prettiest, shiniest toys, and I wanted my clothes to be pretty and shiny too. I have distinct memories of the play purses my mother would get me (either her old purses or thrift store ones), and filling them full of useless but pretty things (because I wanted to have them with me all the time). I also remember playing a game for many years, where every time I would see a pretty lady (which, in my estimation, was most ladies), I would mutter under my breath that I was going to be her. Then I shortened it to “I’m her” and then it was shortened even further to “mer”, a nonsense syllable that meant nothing to anyone but me. I was a little bit obsessive-compulsive as a kid (still am, but less so) and I would sometimes spend half an hour just flipping through magazines, looking at pictures and repeating my monosyllabic mantra to myself.

I started the “mer” game when I was in preschool. I don’t remember giving it any special significance until I was older, and really started thinking I was ugly, fat and unlovable. But even as my negative body image grew, I never lost my love of pretty things. I collected costume jewelry and tried to find nice clothes, which got progressively harder as I grew. I was a very girly girl in appearance, but I didn’t feel like it as much. In fact, I felt worse and worse about myself as I got older, until I hit high school and an all-time self-esteem low. I remember very well what one of my friends from high school said to me about the first time she saw me. It was the first day of school and we had a class together, and she said I swept into the room with long, dark hair, a lovely blouse and a flowing skirt. She said I seemed to own the room. I don’t remember that day. Probably I was wracked with nerves and had dressed nice to try to boost my confidence. I probably didn’t think I looked that great either. After all, I was 14 and almost 6 feet tall, already over 300 lbs and extremely awkward in my body. As high school went on, I stopped wearing nice things most of the time. I retreated into dowdy clothes, jeans and t-shirts, only wearing pretty things when I performed. I cherished those times, wearing lovely dresses on stage. Even in the plays, when I was in costume, I felt like a better looking me.

It wasn’t until very recently that I began really reclaiming my love of looking nice. I adore a fancy shirt and skirt combo. Being tall and fat make it harder to find nice clothes, of course, which just makes me more determined to find them and enjoy them. I’m still waiting for a chance to wear the adorable red dress I bought in Portland when I went to my friend’s wedding.

I appreciate pretty things of all kinds. Not just expensive things like jewelry (although I don’t really like diamonds) and BJDs, but also knitted items, or a well-made basket, or a nicely decorated room. It makes me happy to experience aesthetically pleasing things, and it’s also interesting to observe how my tastes have changed over time.

Anyway, I’m going back to my pretty, pretty video game now. ;D

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Um… hi?

Oh noes, I've gone cross-eyed!

Oh, wait, I guess I'm okay.

I also have awesome hair.

So today was my first day of being unemployed again. My temp job was slated to end on Friday, but apparently they decided to let me and the other temps go two days early, as I got a call yesterday from my temp agency saying “yeah, don’t go in to work tomorrow, they let everyone go, it wasn’t based on performance blah blah”. So I know it wasn’t me specifically, since I was generally on the higher end of average when it came to the numbers (we were supposed to get a certain number of people per day).

Anyway, I’ve spent the day mostly feeling icky, as it’s That Time Of The Month for me (TTOTM from now on). Just blah and craving chocolate I don’t have but feeling too gross to want to go out and buy some. I sort of wish I had a friend who randomly baked cookies who could send me some, but alas, I don’t. XD

Sorry about the lack of interesting updates lately. I’ve just been having trouble thinking of things I want to blog about. Lots of knitting still to do.

Well, anyway, going out to dinner with my aunt. That should be fun.

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Silly Pictures

So I am again a bit beat tonight and so you get a whole bunch of pictures instead of just two. No captions, feel free to make guesses as to what’s going on. XD

That’s all. Thank you. XD

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Another Blah Day

A couple doll scarves I'm working on.

Getting a little better at taking pics one-handed.

And I am me.

Today has kind of been… weird. Not necessarily bad, just strange. And I’m watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again (I took a break, but finally resumed). And… I don’t have much of a brain right now. And I don’t really want to blather about Buffy on here, which is what my brain is occupied doing at the moment. Buffy and knitting. Loooots of knitting. XD

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Wiping sweat off my brow after a bunch of cleaning, cooking and baking.

That's right, I am awesome. Washed dishes, took out trash, cooked pasta for dinner and baked brownies.

Oh, and I’m doing laundry. XD I AM RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME.

Ahem. Anyway, I am a bit beat now because of all that, so I am going to post a couple of links I saw on various sites today, all of which are worth taking a gander at.

Blind Couple Reunited With Baby Taken Away By State – Part of me wasn’t as surprised when I noticed that the state involved was Missouri, where I spent four years of my life between elementary and high school. The government there is especially awful, and this story is especially horrifying. Ableism at its worst.

11-year-old Girl Grows Veggies for the Homeless – On the other hand, this is an admirable thing. She doesn’t even have to buy the seedlings, so almost no one is profiting from it in a monetary fashion, but many families are getting to eat fresh produce where otherwise they wouldn’t (and if you think hunger and starvation isn’t an issue in America, I have a bridge to sell you).

Smartphone “Jailbreaking” Now Legal – Now your techie friend who hacked his iPhone so he could use a non-shitty company for his wireless service can’t be sued for it, not that anyone had been, but it is a step in the right direction (I’m still waiting for the Accredited Blogger’s Association to become reality, though).

2010 Comic-Con Cosplayers – Some of the coolest pics of Comic-Con cosplayers, to warm the geeky heart.

Luxury Shower Heads Under Fire – Oh no! What will all the millionaires do when they’re not allowed to use their $6,000 shower heads that expel 12 gallons of water a minute? How dare America attempt to limit the amount of water I waste!

Motorized Couch Banned – On the one hand, part of me just wants to say “um, wait, you have the brains and engineering know-how to invent something really useful, and you use it to make a fucking motorized couch?” On the other hand… No, wait, I’m just really baffled that a college student would think that was wicked cool when at other schools, students are making life-saving equipment for really cheap.

Mmmmyep. I bet you can’t guess what site I check my email on! XD

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History

I am not one with the universe. Just lacking energy.

I have found a lot of creative ways to lean my face on my hand in the past ten years.

I like how this one makes me look like I have a headache.

Making funny faces helps me feel more normal, sometimes.

In case you can't tell, my shirt says "I do tricks for treats".

Today I’m going to talk a bit about my lifetime experiences with depression. I think it’s only fair that those of you who read this and aren’t very well acquainted with me should know where it came from, and that it isn’t something that just popped up yesterday.

I’ve always been prone to mood swings. I generally chalk them up to being an overly sensitive person, which is great as a performer, but horrible in everyday life. I’ve also noticed that people with higher intelligence (hey, I’m not bragging, it runs in my family) tend to be more prone to mental problems. Even when I was little I had episodes of swinging from happy to sad and back again, which I think most kids experience sometimes, but I never really got past it.

The first time I was diagnosed with clinical depression was when I was in middle school. My family had just moved from North Carolina to Missouri, which was a horrendous culture shock (especially for agnostics moving to the heart of the bible belt). I was sad because not only had I moved away from all my friends and couldn’t make new ones because I was so different, I had moved from a private school to a public one, and on top of everything else my parents had lost my beloved teddy bear (hey, at 10 years old that matters). In hindsight, the diagnosis of clinical depression was pretty stupid on the part of the psychologist. I wasn’t really clinically depressed. I was just a sensitive kid who had been hit with a lot of sucky life changes at once. I actually got put on Zoloft back then, which I hardly ever took because I didn’t like how it made me feel (I drove my mother mad with her trying to get me to take it), and eventually the problems sorted themselves out. However, I had learned from that experience that by claiming I had a history of depression and acting all mopey, I could get sympathy from adults.

The next time I began suffering from depression was high school. It was an awful experience, but overall I think it actually helped me. I had spent the first two years of high school pretending to be a delicate flower and manipulating my friends and family by claiming I was depressed and telling them I was going to commit suicide and they didn’t care about me. I was a little bitch, in other words, who acted out for attention. After my sophomore year, though, everything changed. My parents divorced, and I realized I hadn’t felt real pain like that in a long time, and all my actions before had been play-acting. I stopped talking about suicide and drew my suffering inside me, only letting it out to the few trusted friends I hadn’t managed to drive off. My high school voice teacher can attest that I used her as a therapist more than a teacher for most of my junior year, even though I was seeing a therapist anyway.

College was another matter. While I never was officially diagnosed with depression in college, I believe I suffered from it more than once. There was a lot of pressure I hadn’t had to deal with as a high schooler, not just in terms of school work, but with the added problems of being a performer and making my own schedule. I had some really bad days where I would have panic attacks and sit in the hallway crying quietly. I had days where I would pick fights with other singers because I felt so awful and didn’t want to feel awful alone. Those were pretty dark times too, and I think they’re a large part of why I don’t have many friends from my college days.

Most recently, my current fight with depression started around the end of last year. I started working at my old job (cashier at a major chain grocery store right near my house) in March of 2009, thinking it would be something to keep me afloat while I tried to find another job. Unfortunately, I had managed to get hired at one of the busiest stores in my city, which meant that not only were there days I rang up a ridiculous amount of orders, I also had to deal with a higher percentage of nasty customers. Not a day went by where I wasn’t yelled at, sneered at, or otherwise belittled by asshole customers. To make things worse, the management at the store was horrible. I won’t name names, but there was one particular manager who everyone in the store despised, because she treated everyone like a wayward two year old she had to herd back into place, as well as disliking anyone smarter than her, or who seemed to have ambitions to advance. She made working there more of a hell than it already was, and none of the other management made it much better (there were a couple okay ones, but they either changed their tune or left before I quit). In short, it was a horribly stressful job, without anything being wrong with the job itself. I’ve worked retail before, as I suspect many people (especially below a certain age or income level) have, and none of my previous jobs had been nearly that horrible. Hell, one year I worked at an entertainment store that went out of business, and I sometimes still have nightmares about it (customers… like vultures… asking if they could buy anything not nailed down for ridiculously low prices). Did I mention that was over a Christmas break? Yeah. So I’ve worked not that stellar jobs before, and being a cashier isn’t horrible by a long shot. But that store, specifically was awful.

First, my gall bladder began acting up. I became so ill I couldn’t work, and because I had no money and no insurance, I had to wait a month and a half before I could get it properly diagnosed and have the fucking surgery, and I’m still paying it off (and likely will be for the next two or three years). So last summer, while still in the midst of dealing with the stress of bed bugs, I spent two months not working, eating rice and beans to stay alive because my stomach couldn’t handle anything else, and lying in bed because I was too weak to get up or go out. When I finally got the surgery and was able to return to work, the management began treating me like a shirking employee, especially every time I was sick (remembering that a gall bladder is actually a fairly necessary organ, and removing it causes permanent changes to your digestive system that take a long time to acclimate to). I was still weak, and began having serious problems. First came the panic attacks. I started having them at my register during work hours. I would feel as if I was going to puke, I was dizzy, I had to hold on to my register to keep from falling down. At first I thought it was just nausea (I’d experienced similar symptoms when the gall bladder problems became serious), but they just kept happening, and nothing made them better. Finally, in February of this year, I had a complete breakdown. I called in to work, sobbing, and told them I couldn’t go in, that I felt horrible and wanted to die. I spent the rest of the week in a black mode, alternately sobbing uncontrollably and feeling jittery. I had friends who tried to help, and everyone encouraged me to see a doctor, but I couldn’t pick up the phone and call one. It finally got to the point where my mother called a doctor for me (one I’d seen before, albeit only once) and my aunt came and picked me up and brought me to see her. She took one look at me and prescribed me anti-depressants.

I’m going to take a moment here and set my stance on anti-depressants. After my experience with them in middle school, I deemed them vile, useless things and swore I would never touch them again. I decided they were worthless, that if they’d been useful they would have helped me instead of harming me, and basically took up a very strong stance against them. There were a few times in high school and early college where they were suggested to me, but I raged against them and absolutely refused to touch them. It wasn’t until later, when I started talking to people (really cool, interesting people) who were on or had been on them that I began to see that they had some merit, and that I’d simply been scarred by a bad experience. By the time I was tearing myself apart in February, I’d made my peace with the fact that sometimes, they’re necessary, and in my case they were the last line of defense.

At any rate, she gave me anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills, and told me to come back in a few weeks to see if things were getting better. When I did, she commented on the marked difference, and I told her about how I was using the anti-anxiety pills to just get through the day at my job. Finally, in May, I called it quits. I decided I’d rather work fast food than continue at my old job, and my mood improved exponentially after that. I figured it was partly the anti-depressants, and I wasn’t stupid enough to think that feeling good now meant I should stop taking them, so I continued (and I’m still taking them). I started projects (including this blog), found a new (if temporary) job, and everything was going better. When I went back to the store I’d worked at (it’s the nearest store to me, doesn’t make sense to go anywhere else), my former co-workers all commented on how much happier I seemed. And I was. And I am, generally.

So that’s where I am right now. Most of the time, I feel fine. I feel optimistic, productive, and otherwise good about myself. But then black days happen. Days where I just curl up in bed and sob uncontrollably for fifteen minutes. Where I have suicidal thoughts and can’t think about anything good about my life. Where even a purring kitty in my lap doesn’t bring me happiness. Once again I will state that if I’m actually voicing my suicidal thoughts, I’m in less danger than if I was conspicuously not mentioning death.

I wish I had a solution. Right now I’m thinking about how if I could afford it, I would go to the doctor and ask her to help. Unfortunately, I still have medical bills I owe on, so unless it becomes a true emergency (i.e. I can’t work again), it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I will try not to allow a post like yesterday’s to happen again. Not that I want to hide my life or my feelings, but I don’t want to go down that path. Thanks again to everyone who emailed and messaged and tweeted me yesterday. It’s a blessing to have friends like mine.

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