jakebe: (Reading Rabbit)
There's a lot to do today, so I'm going to jump right into it!

Yesterday, these were my to-do items:

To Do:
+ Finish reading and annotating my English assignment.
- Read chapter 6 of my Social Psychology text and participate in that discussion.
+ Run 3 miles out on the street.

Two out of three ain't bad, and I got about halfway through chapter 6 of my Social Psychology textbook, so yesterday was a pretty good success. Today:

To Do:
1. Finish reading chapter 6 of Social Psychology; participate in the forum discussion.
2. Write 500 words of a short story.
3. Send commission information to artist via email.

This is going to be a bit of a lighter day; I've got work and class right after that, so there's only so much time.

Gratitude:
1. I'm grateful for coffee, without which this morning would be much more difficult.
2. I'm grateful for little mysteries; a greeting card I bought yesterday has completely disappeared and it's kept me occupied for hours.
3. I'm grateful for FairfaxFawkes, a Twitter friend who drew a doodle for me to cheer me up. It totally worked. :)

Mindfulness:
1. I will be mindful of my speech today; I'll do my best not to vent or complain -- especially when I'm overwhelmed.
2. I will be mindful of my thoughts, curiously handling misanthropic or denigrating thoughts before letting them go.
3. I will be mindful of how I spend my time. There is a big "in" stack, and it will take efficiency to work it down.

My mother called me yesterday with the usual avalanche of news. She's finally come around to looking at assisted living facilities or senior-citizen apartments, which is a tremendous relief. But between her inability to maintain a proper diet, losing her dentures, paying her bills and continued troubles with her grandson, there's a lot to worry about. And man, I'm so good at worrying.
jakebe: (Default)
The last few days of NaNoBloMo were missed, alas, and with it the last few days of thanksgiving. I don't really have a good excuse for this, besides being busy and/or lazy. Both of these practices have gotten me into the habit of blogging again, however, for better or for worse, so I thought I would start off the month with a few things that are bringing me joy right now.

Happy belated birthday, first of all, to [livejournal.com profile] seamusyote, an awesomely good fellow who's become a really close friend these past few months. It's safe to say that there's really no one like him, and he's helped a lot with the process of coming out of my shell and finding ways to face the world as it is. He's a frighteningly intelligent guy, and I'm really grateful that he's in my life.

Happy early birthday to [livejournal.com profile] reahkitty, who's hitting the big 3-0 tomorrow! I hope that everyone's getting her the necessary amounts of Metamucil. :D She's come a very long way in the time I've known her, and now she's happily married with a child who's her life and joy. You should be happy with your progress, Mamakitty. You're living up to the name. :D

And happy birthday to the loveliest dragon, [livejournal.com profile] toob. What can I say? I wake up every morning, and my first thought is how happy I am that I'm beside you. Usually, my second thought is how to get out of bed without waking you up. :D You've helped me grow in so many ways I couldn't begin to describe them, and I'm grateful for you showing me every single one. More than anyone you've shown me how fearless love can be, precisely because it *is* so scary to open up that wide, to make yourself this vulnerable. You're amazing, no matter how much you think you might not be.

I've been writing every day for the past few weeks, which I feel pretty good about. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, though; I'm still quite obviously a novice, but it helps that I can take pleasure in the small progress that I'm able to make. Just getting some kind of consistent practice is a huge feather in my cap; being able to do it often makes sure that I'll get better at it. One thing that I've been trying to pay attention to specifically is making sure that every scene moves the action along in some way, and that each character who's involved is...taken care of. Before whenever I've written something I've had an idea of how the characters are supposed to act or what was supposed to happen, but no idea of how things were to move. Now I'm getting a rudimentary idea, just by writing scenes so close together and keeping the question "What is this supposed to accomplish?" foremost in my thoughts. It's kind of neat to watch the story gaining momentum, one thing leading up to the next.

In my spare time, I've had the occasion to get addicted to a couple of video games. Oh dear! There's the always-present Brain Age and Brain Age 2, where Ryan and I have a friendly rivalry going. I haven't been able to get my age below 26 yet because I keep having the great misfortune of pulling Number Memory for one of my tests. Trying to memorize twenty-five numbers in completely random order is a lot more difficult than it sounds, and I can never do better than 15.

The other is Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga for the GBA. It's a neat little game that's simple enough not to be too frustrating, so there's a mild sense of accomplishment for figuring out the puzzles on my own. I've only needed the walkthrough twice so far, and that was because there were these details that I didn't notice. I've been trying to make Luigi buffer than Mario, because poor Mr. Green gets the short end of the stick so often, but they don't make it easy. ;) That's stalled a bit, actually, because I'm using the bus rides to work and home to catch up on Fables and to read John Gardner's The Art of Fiction. If you ever catch yourself using mass transit early in the mornings, a word to the wise: comic books are a lot easier to stomach before coffee than demanding writer's guides.

Finally, there's Virtua Tennis 3 for the PS3, which [livejournal.com profile] rikoshi was kind enough to throw my way. :) There's a World Tour mode where you can build your own player and take him through a 20-year career on the Sega Pro Tennis tour. I've built as my first player a giant, 6'8.5" Australian who tends to use a big serve and ball control to throw off his opponents. He's only on year 2, but he's ranked 154 in the world (you start at 300) and hasn't lost a tournament he's entered in. There are a few things I haven't figured out (serve control is really horrible, and I can't hit a drop shot to save my life), but he's progressing nicely. I think the interaction with other tennis players is completely random, but in my world he's good friends with Lleyton Hewitt, his arch-nemesis is Gael Monfils (read into that what you will) and Venus Williams has a healthy respect for him. :) Sad, yes, I know. Next I think I'll see if I can turn [livejournal.com profile] smileydanq into a pro tennis werebear. :D

Speaking of good ol' Dan, I've been seriously thinking about reviving his LiveJournal. The trouble about that is I would need to come up with a story all on my own, instead of piggybacking on [livejournal.com profile] arlekin's W:tA game. That's not a big deal really, but it does mean there's extra work involved. I'm wondering how much I would need to change his story to make things work; before he was an Inuit from Vancouver, BC, but seeing as how I know next to nothing about the Inuit and even less about western Canada, I'd have to do a little bit of research before I get started. Still, the idea of writing a regular journal completely in-character is an appealing one. I might want to see about updating this one a bit more regularly first, though.

Milk and

Nov. 27th, 2007 11:10 pm
jakebe: (Hungry)
Today I am very grateful for [livejournal.com profile] toob, who greeted me at home with Etta James and a hot pan full of cookies after I worked a nearly 12-hour shift. The smile on my face was immediate, and still present even now.

Also, D+D. :D
jakebe: (Default)
Every time the winter cold season starts up in full swing, I almost always think of The Stand. It took me two or three tries to get through the monster uncut edition, and every time I ended up coming down with either a bad cold or the full-on flu. It was a half-amusing, half-worrisome little thing that had the intended effect of never looking at mass illness quite the same way.

Yesterday, I was grateful for the ripple effect that curiosity has on people. [livejournal.com profile] toob decided he was tired of not knowing where tiny, obscure countries were and what they were doing there, and learned the positions and names of tons of them in Europe, Africa and Oceana. I was shocked to discover that I didn't even know about a lot of the smaller island countries in the Atlantic Ocean, and a lot of the factoids he found were intriguing enough to start up a study of my own.

Right now I'm muscling my way through Europe; it's the southeastern block of countries that are the killers. I wonder if Europeans have the same kind of trouble with the eastern United States? Tons of tiny, squiggly little territories with weird names and all, while the west is full of bigger countries and easily recognizable borders.

Anyway, work is being a bear, and I have to go back to it. Boo. Boo I say!
jakebe: (Default)
Weight: 164.4 lbs.
Time: 35 minutes
Distance: 3.21 miles
Speed: 6.5 mph
Calories: 331

I goosed my speed up to 6.5 mph for five minutes, just to see if I could handle it. It was a good stretch, and I handled it just fine. I could definitely do with drinking more water, though. Almost made three and a quarter miles this time around, though I think I might tone it back for my runs on Wednesday and Friday.

Today I'm grateful for all of the comforts I have. Ryan and I were watching 28 Weeks Later this afternoon and I couldn't help thinking what it would be like for society to...just stop working, for whatever reason. What if we can't find a way around Peak Oil? What if a supervolcano erupts? What if we get hit with a really big earthquake, even?

Part of this comes from The Mist as well, which explores what happens to people when we lose the sense of order we've placed on the world around us. We get scared when the things we've come to expect stop happening, or our lives stop making sense in the way we'd like it to. Disliking the rain comes from an expectation to be dry. Disliking the Apocalypse comes from the expectation for the way things are to continue at least until we die.

Could we ever truly be mentally prepared for a sudden and irreversible change in our way of life? Could we roll with it if there were suddenly no electricity or cars, no job to go to and bitch about? How crazy would we get in our search for some reason, some way to fill the vacuum such a loss would create? It's just something to think about.

In the meantime, I have a fairly hot shower to get to.
jakebe: (Default)
Today, I'm thankful for warm sweaters and thick blankets. The temperatures here in sunny California are finally starting to fall, and we're feeling it. The sad part is the temps aren't even that bad; according to weather.com, the high today was 66 degrees F and the low, 35. Compared to most areas in the country, that's a cakewalk. I feel myself losing he ability to deal with extreme weather even now.

Anyway, even on cold days, or at least pseudo-cold ones, it's great to bundle up in your favorite warm clothing or cuddle under a blanket to read, write or watch TV. If you're feeling really indulgent, you could try all three...though I don't think that'll get you anywhere.

Today we basically watched Enchanted with a few locals and [livejournal.com profile] drleo, who's in from out of town. It was a sweet movie, totally sold by Amy Adams. She's just really delightful, and she's at her best when she's moving through the world loving like she's a force of nature. There's one musical number that's unabashedly awesome (no, it's not the opening) and it's impossible not to smile over it. Ultimately, the movie plays it more straight than the trailers would have you believe, but it's still pretty solid regardless. Also, there's a dragon near the end of the movie, for the people who pay attention to those things. It's a short, climactic boss sequence, but it's done well enough for what it is.

I've been suffering a crisis of confidence, of sorts. While I've been making pretty good strides in some areas, all of the old fears and craziness comes up again, making me wonder how on Earth I manage to keep close friends, or make new ones at all. This too, shall pass, I guess. :)

Tomorrow, more hanging and (hopefully) writing, cleaning, and preparing for work tomorrow. The holiday season starts in full force this week, so I'm going to need to bring my A-game.
jakebe: (Flower Bunny)
I'm grateful for comfort food, today. Right now we have a fridge full of the all-time greats -- cold turkey, mashed potatoes, apple pie, and pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. The holidays have arrived in full force, much to my joy.

Today Ryan and I watched a couple of movies, played a video game or two, rested up and just enjoyed each other's company. Right now he's sleeping on the couch while I type, poor dear, because his back is giving him a spot of trouble. These extra two days were just what we needed to take it easy for a few days without worrying about getting right back into the grind.

My personal grind has been a little stressful as of late; I've taken on a new position at work that basically means a bit more responsibility for the same pay. I don't mind this, but I'm really starting to feel the sting of being a contractor for a large corporate company. I miss the less rigid structure of the small company, and I might return to it once my contact is up next June. Anyway, my schedule's changed so that I'm getting up before 6 every morning to open up the place where all of the real employees come to get their perks and mail stuff off. We're a nexus for a bunch of different departments in the company. It's pretty neat, even if there's a lot to keep track of.

My coworker and friend is off to another department now that he's trained me, and his presence is definitely missed; he makes the job look easier than it is because he's that good. It sucks that he's going but he's in a better place now, where he can chase butterflies through waving emerald fields as much as he likes.

Well, at least he can take breaks and lunches whenever. ;)

Anyway, I'm learning the ropes in the position right in time for the holiday shipping season, which is ungodly busy. The work has been ramping up steadily the past couple weeks, and I had my first jaw-droppingly stressful day earlier this week. I've known this for a long time, but I really don't deal with stress well. I have to get better at being relatively unflappable; or else all of those corporate employees will just eat me alive. They can sense weakness, you know. They taste fear in the air.

Other areas are faring pretty well. I've gotten a semi-regular writing practice, though it's still not to the point where I'm writing every day. Well, I *am* writing every day, but I'm not working on stuff that is meant for public consumption every day. There, that sounds better. :) I'm rather pleased with the way it's been going; the story I'm working on has been flowing pretty naturally, and while I do hit snags occasionally and some editing will almost certainly be necessary I don't feel like it's a monumental waste of time and words. It's not Shakespeare, and most of you will never, ever read it, but still...it feels good to get out.

My D+D game is on a small hiatus while one player is out of town, which is fine; it gives me time to work out a few of the kinks in the story so far. It's really involved work, but it's been an absolute joy to do; my players are good, I think they're engaged in the situation and their characters, and I really love the world that I'm writing in. I'm already germinating ideas for other modes of storytelling; a possible comic book, a collection of short stories, that sort of thing. We'll see whether any of that goes anywhere sometime soon. :)

Right now, though, it's time for a cup of tea and the second half of a movie. Tomorrow I run, I promise.

Post Haste

Nov. 23rd, 2007 10:18 am
jakebe: (Default)
Thanksgiving Day was busy, yet surprisingly mellow all at the same time. We had several people over for a potluck dinner, and everyone bought some pretty good stuff. The best part is there are still some pies left over, completely unmolested. This is a situation that must remedy itself sometime today. We have some vanilla bean ice cream that's been screaming for warm apple pie for at least three days, and it's getting kind of annoying.

I made a cranberry-pepper-feta salad that was eaten at least (which is a feat I'm proud of for Thanksgiving) and a carrot cake that people seemed to like. I was pretty worried, since the power went out for about an hour in the middle of baking. It completed well enough, though it wasn't quite as delicious as I remember it being. The cream cheese frosting, though? Gorgeous. :9

The combination of two 'hard' cranberry lemonades, a glass of wine, a shot and a half of rum in egg nog and pleasantly cool temperatures totally knocked me out around 8 pm. Ryan got me up and lead me to the bedroom to take a nap. I felt like *such* an old man. By the time I woke up, almost everyone ducked out, and those that remained we subjected to Hairspray on BluRay. Thanks, guys, for sticking with us through that.

Between the preparation and the company and the sleeping, I didn't get a chance to get in here and write down what I was grateful for. This is, perhaps, for the best, since most of my friends list took the time to do just that and I imagine some people might be a little saturated with gratitude by this point. Still, I'd feel remiss if I didn't say this.

I'm grateful for everything in my life. The people that I know and love, the people that I know and don't like very much, the people that I've always wanted to know better. I'm thankful for all of my strengths and insecurities, the experiences that have formed them, all the methods I have for dealing with them. I'm just thankful that I get the chance to be alive, to live where I do, to have the kind of life that I have. I don't have a penthouse apartment or a fancy car by any stretch, but all things considered I'm in a very good place. I'm happy with my life, and I thank everyone who shares in it simply for doing so.

When you stop to think about it, all of the factors that contribute to life on earth, just the fact that we're around is amazing. When you throw in the mystery of sentience, the fact that we can wonder and appreciate over the fact that we're even here, and our life is miraculous. The most basic fact of our existence is cause for joy. :) It's frighteningly easy to lose that perspective, to want more when we have so much already, and that's understandable. The miracle of life doesn't necessarily negate all of the problems that come along with it, exactly. Still, it's good to take the time to appreciate all we *have* been given.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving...or plain old Thursday if you're outside of the US. :)

Today will consist of movie-watching, cleaning, and a good old-fashioned run sometime later. :)
jakebe: (Default)
Time: 35 minutes
Distance: 3.15 miles
Speed: 6.3 mph
Calories: 322

I do believe this is a new record for me; my goal of steadily working up to 4 miles a session is progressing nicely. :D Today I did the usual five-minute warm-up, then ran at 5.5 for five minutes, worked up to 6.0 for 18 minutes, then back down to 5.5 for 5 minutes followed by a two-minute cool down. The walking belt on the treadmill is ancient, though, so it doesn't actually get to 6.0 until you set it to 6.3, and then steadily ramps up past it once you get really moving. For most of the workout I was cruising along at 6.1/6.2, with occasional bursts to top super-speed!

Does anyone actually read these exercise reports? ;)

I could have gone for longer; I added the soundtracks to Hairspray and "Once More With Feeling," and cruised for most of that. Alas, my old nemesis chafing reared its ugly head. Hopefully I will be good for Friday.

Anyway, I am very grateful for Buddhism. It sounds like a copout, but it's true. It's hard to imagine what I would be like without the discovery of Zen, though something tells me I might have wandered that way anyway without giving it a name. Zen has taught me discipline, focus, the fine art of balance and how to properly mix the divine with the vulgar. Everything is sacred. Nothing is sacred.

Now, it's off to watch stuff.
jakebe: (Default)
Weight: 164.6
Time: 35 minutes (15 min. and 20 min.)
Distance: 800 stairs/1.98 miles
Speed: 53 stairs per minute/6.5 mph
Calories: 300


The treadmills were full today, so I started off on the stairmaster thing that [livejournal.com profile] mut tried the last time we exercised together. It's a pretty good workout; low-impact, with a pace that you can set yourself, and pretty cool programs that determines the amount of resistance you can reasonably take. I opted for 30 minutes on program 1 (a roughly 60/40 split between levels 2 and 4) and worked for about 15 minutes. After that, a treadmill opened up, so I went for a 20-minute run instead of completing the program.

The run was pretty good; I didn't really need to warm up or anything, so I amped up pretty quickly and ran at 6.0 mph for about 15 minutes, then goosed up to 6.5 mph in the last minute just to see if I could take it (and this beginner's running guide recommended it). Also, I really wanted an even 2 mile run. :P

All in all, not a bad day at the 'gym'.

Today I'm grateful for my health. My teeth are bothersome, and I have a bit of a paunch I'd like to lose, and there are few other nattering problems, but overall I'm in fairly good shape and I feel really lucky for that. Mental illness runs pretty strongly in my family, and so does diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and (shudder) Alzheimer's. The fact that I came out relatively OK is something I don't stop to think about all too often, but when I do, I feel really lucky that I am.
jakebe: (Default)
Today I am thankful for movies. Seriously. There are so many great movies, so many movies that I revisit again and again to find my center once again, so many movies I'm looking forward to being that affected by...sometimes I just feel truly lucky that I get to live in an age where we have them.

Saw Beowulf today, with trailers for Cloverfield, The Golden Compass, and Wanted. It's going to be a winter chock-full of awesome for us, and I can't wait.

Oh, and ganked from [livejournal.com profile] rancourt: 7 Ways the 21st Century is Making Us Miserable. It's really interesting. :)

To everyone coming back from MFF, I hope you had a good time!
jakebe: (Greg the Bunny!)
Today, I am grateful for cribbage, that wonderful card game that not many people seem to play. It's one of the more relaxing things to do after a long day of television watching, and I'm glad that Duncan taught it to me.

This weekend has started out gloriously lazy; the folks in our house watched The Lost Room, that miniseries that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel a year or two ago. People had been saying it was pretty good, but...wow, it's really good. I'm shocked and amazed it wasn't developed into a full fledged series, but perhaps it's just as well. Peter Krause is just awesome in Dirty Sexy Money, and I doubt anyone else could carry the role of Nick George quite so well.

We also saw the latest installment of Pushing Daisies, which continues to live up to its potential in new and interesting ways. What I find interesting about the show is the way the concept is maturing; the 'tragic' romance between Ned and Chuck are tested in all sorts of ways, and the show doesn't shy away from asking the questions that need to be asked in order for their relationship to remain believable. The way those questions are answered is one of the things that's most striking about the show, and the pie-in-the-sky, eternally sunny optimism is actually earned instead of bought on faith.

That, and the supporting cast is simply stellar. Chi McBride and Kristen Chenowith are doing smash-up jobs with their characters, who continue to flesh out more and more as the weeks progress. Their evolution makes them just as entertaining to watch as our 'starring' couple. Whee, I could go on about this all day!

Right now, I'm just getting a bit of writing done, but perhaps I'll...er, take a break...to play cribbage. :)
jakebe: (OMG SO HAPPY)
Time: 27 minutes
Distance: 2.33 miles
Speed: 6.0 mph
Calories: 235


Today I am grateful for music. I do love it so. :)
jakebe: (Gummi Bear/Geekery)
Time: 25 minutes
Distance: 2.14 miles
Speed: 6.2 mph
Calories: 214

Today I'm grateful for solitude. I've been taking a little time out to myself recently, and it's helping with my mood and perspective by leaps and bounds. I'm able to think a bit more clearly, be more considerate of others, and get on top of things I've always been meaning to. Unfortunately, being a regular contributor of this journal is still elusive at best.

There's no way to say "I need space," it seems, without offending someone, or causing them to think there's a problem. Of course, there's also the possibility that I haven't been using my time alone wisely until now; a lot of the time I'll use free space to talk to folks online, where I'll quickly become overwhelmed again. No offense to all of my Net-friends, because I love seeing you, but I really have to learn the trick of making alone time *actual* alone time.

Anyway, today after running with [livejournal.com profile] mut I took a bit of time alone to stretch and shower. Instead of thinking about all of the projects I wanted to do (and am making snail's progress on) or social things I have to do, I just...stretched and showered. I noticed the ceiling while lying on the floor. I paid attention to the way my muscles tensed and pulled (I seem to have significantly tighter muscles on my left side; I'm wondering if there's any reason for that...I am right-brained for starters). I enjoyed being wet, and the scratch of the shower scrunchie on my skin. Even that practice, for 15 minutes, was enough to make me feel loads better.

Today I worked from open to close, from 6:45 am to 6:00 pm. Our fearless leader tried to come in after a wisdom tooth extraction and just couldn't hang. I can't blame her; I likely would have taken a four-day weekend for something like that. But she's a trooper; she's the mother of three children and her husband works, too. She's a pretty tough lady.

The day wasn't bad, though I can tell it's the holiday season without a doubt. :) I'm working in the Service Center right now, which if you didn't know is a special place where all of the real Adobe employees get information and quite a few of their sweet perks. But I'm not disgruntled, no sir. I'll take my meager pay and no vacation or sick leave and be happy, mm-hmm. ;)

I'm getting a lot more comfortable in the position, though, and that's what counts. Now that I'm not stressing over how to do the job properly, I can actually focus on getting to know the people who walk in.

There are other things I'd like to talk about, but they will have to wait until tomorrow. :)

Stuttering

Nov. 13th, 2007 09:46 am
jakebe: (Default)
I keep skipping days! I'm a poor blogger. :)

Ah well, hopefully two posts will make up for the absence. I'm thankful for miniature golf. There's a small story behind this.

Yesterday Ryan and I got to hang out a bit with [livejournal.com profile] codyvfrost, who's a very cool and surprising guy. :) We played two rounds of mini-golf at the Golfland Arcade down on El Camino, and had the customary good time! Mini-golf is one of my favorite things because it's such a great Zen exercise; you have to keep your focus on the present if you want to sink the hole. You can't let previous bad or good holes affect the shot you're making right at that moment. Just because you got a hole-in-one last time doesn't mean you're going to ace the next one (a fact that was made painfully apparent to me several times yesterday), and one good hole can turn your entire game around. One step at a time, one shot at a time, one hole at a time. Play it and move on.

I did fairly well, all things considered, though it took me a little while to get into the groove. I blame the cold, and Vince's Pomeranian Growl(tm). Afterwards we had dinner with a few other local folks, and more good times were had by all. The end!

Right now I'm hiding in the lunch room after a stressful morning of shipping things and people asking all manner of weird questions at me. Also, people not listening when I tell them the procedure to get their things done quickly. Blah, I say! It's all right though, because right now I have a delicious PBJ sandwich. Play the hole, and move along.
jakebe: (Gummi Bear/Geekery)
I did not post yesterday, so I'll have to make this one fairly substantial and give you two of the things that I'm grateful for.

I'm grateful for the rain. We got a pretty good rainstorm here yesterday while we were grocery shopping, and while it wasn't the most convenient time for it, it was good to be out in. Ryan says that the reason people dislike getting wet is because they have the expectation of being dry. Get rid of the expectation, you learn to be OK with being out in the rain. I hereby submit that this is the most Zen thing he's ever said. :)

Rain on the rooftops and the sidewalks always makes me feel comfortable and mellow. I'm a lot better about being rained on, but I still think it's best to enjoy it indoors. ;) There are so many things to be done; book reading, coffee drinking, lounging, snuggling, that sort of thing. It's OK to be leisurely during a storm if you want, and here in California there really aren't that many times where it's OK to be leisurely.

I'm also grateful for music, in general. There are a lot of ways one triggers memory, but music is always one of the most powerful for me. A conversation about Garth Brooks albums puts me in a very specific headspace; being in high school, staying up late to do homework and play card games that I had invented for myself. Cold winters sleeping in a living room that was converted so that my sister could have her own bedroom, getting up early and listening to WPOC while reading some book or another. Matchbox Twenty puts me in that space between high school and college, where I was working two mall jobs and hopping onto FurryMUCK from the Towson Public Library. Third Eye Blind puts me at St. Mary's University of Maryland, walking towards poetry readings and Pagan Student Union meetings with my battered Walkman. So forth and so on. It's another particularly soothing influence on me that I'm really glad that I have in my life. Reminiscing on all of the country I used to listen to really makes me want to buy Dwight Yoakam and The Mavericks, and Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pam Tillis, Diamond Rio...

Maybe I should stop now while I still have a bit of musical respect left amongst my friends. :)

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better from the other day, where I was just down from...calling everything into question. It's a necessary part of the process for me, but my ego takes a few hits every time. I really shouldn't take myself as seriously as I do.

Most of my writing energy is currently being taken up by my Dungeons and Dragons game, run on every other Tuesday. It's been a blast so far; I've got a really great group that keeps me on my toes constantly, with a very wide range of interests and abilities. Right now I'm trying to fit all of the puzzle pieces together more or less, so that the characters get comfortable with each other and the players all get comfortable with me, and vice versa. Through little tests here and there, I think I'm getting a better handle on who everyone is and how they like to play. The players have been constantly surprising, which just rocks. It throws me for a loop every time, and they're not letting me get away with things they don't agree with.

The story is taken from my last D+D game in Arkansas, which did not end very well. There were a lot of things I could have done better with that one, but the main thing was making sure to pay attention to the players and why they were there. I think that, when push came to shove, my running style was just incompatible with the playing style of a few players; they were looking for a different experience from what I was giving, and I don't think I was sensitive enough to that fact. This time around I'm trying to be really careful about determining what people want, and finding ways to give it to them. I *hope* that I'm doing an all right job with it. Everyone seems to be pretty satisfied, which is the important thing.

The plot begins a bit before it did in my Arkansas game; the players are converging in the capital city of Splendor to celebrate the new floating castle constructed by the High King and Queen. They come from all different parts of the kingdom, from all walks of life; a barbarian and a dwarf from the frozen tundra of Morein, a bard seeking his fortune away from his homelands in the Duchy of Summer, a mage whose family sent him away from the southern duchy of Feingold to study magic, and an elf who comes from the lands of the Eldertree. They happen to be staying at the same inn, and through circumstances beyond their control, get roped into being dragon-dancers for the big parade.

The dragon, once it reaches the castle site, unleashes a missile at the castle instead of the fireworks display they had been told would happen, and the party finds themselves unwitting accomplices in an assassination attempt. They're now in hiding with a mage who's saved them from certain death (treason isn't to be taken lightly), but whom they don't trust at all -- especially when he gives away a secret the bard has been harboring for sometime now. This last game ended with some peace being restored with a reluctant apology, though there's still a lot of...mistrust all around. That's certainly fun, and it was oddly thrilling to watch the party unite in their hatred of this particular NPC. ;)

Anyway, they're in these strange woods where all kinds of odd things happen; a very strange wolf attacked our barbarian already, leaving the party with a deep-seated fear that he's been infected with lycanthropy. There's a wild elven child as well, ghostly dancing lights, a bear and...other things. The party has been getting information through their bard and mage about exactly what kind of woods they're dealing with, and they're a bit ill-at-ease. Another thing I really want to be sensitive about is not throwing in too much too soon; in the Arkansas game things unfolded a little too rapidly and the party got hopeless as a result, which is one of the things that lead to its dissolution. I do trust these guys to handle whatever I throw at them, but I also need to learn the value of giving them only one thing at a time.

Multiple story arcs, I've found, don't work as well in games as they do in other episodic forms of storytelling, like television. :) I thought that giving characters a "B-story" that provides clues to the over-arcing plot or a personal character arc might be a good thing to work in, but it tends to leave the party torn on which path to take and makes them feel overwhelmed. I think there's a way to have multiple things going on at once, I just need to be better at signalling what is an interesting tidbit that should be tucked away for later, and what requires immediate attention.

Though, now that I have a bit more time both at work and at home to work on writing things, I'll be trying to (finally) edit some poetry and write short stories. As usual, the less said about this, the better. Though there is an exercise up on [livejournal.com profile] writerrabbit that I'm kind of pleased with. Please go check it out if you've got a free moment.
jakebe: (Default)
Time: 20 minutes
Distance: 1.69 miles
Speed: 6.0 mph
Calories: 168


Running didn't work quite as well today. I, personally, blame my lack of tunes to keep me company. I always seem to do worse when I don't have something to distract me from the fact that my muscles are screaming at me to stop.

Either the lack of exercise in the past few weeks is taking its toll, or the schedule change is taking its toll, or I'm not getting enough water, or some combination of the three. Ah well; the goal for next session is to make sure I'm well-rested and thoroughly hydrated.

My mood has been up and down this week because of the schedule and a few other things. I've been taking a long hard look at the labels I've applied to myself -- Buddhist, poet, rabbit-soul, etc. -- and wondering whether or not I really think they apply. Am I just faking all these things? When was the last time I wrote a poem? How come I've never set foot in a Zen center? What do I really think about the concept of an immortal soul? What do I consider to be absolute truth? What do I really believe?

Maybe it's the early mornings that give me ample time to sit back and reflect on this stuff. Maybe, now that I'm finally comfortable and believe that it's 'safe' to do so, there's something in me that thinks it's time to look at this stuff. I'm not sure. But the deconstruction has been...illuminating, and frightening at the same time. How scary is it to think that if you peel back all of your layers there's nothing there?

But then, maybe there *is* nothing there, and the point is to look at it, recognize it and make your peace with it. The truth is for all of my civilized trappings, I'm very much an instinctive creature. I want to be recognized, liked and admired, my company to be sought after (but not too much). I want to be safe, and fed, and happy. I can be vindictive, petty, mean, self-absorbed, simple, slow. Sometimes you pull back a layer and you're surprised by all the rot underneath.

I am grateful, by the way, for people who are still passionate and curious about the world around them, and who buck the trend of apathy and derision. Thankfully, I have the good fortune to know a lot of them, and they make times like these easier.

Babel

Nov. 8th, 2007 10:47 pm
jakebe: (Default)
I am grateful for stories, which seem to be making a comeback in a really big way. Today we went to see Salman Rushdie give a lecture and answer questions from a moderator and then the audience. He was incredibly funny, but also really insightful about the nature of stories and why they're necessary, why people seem to respond to them the way they do. In the end, he decried the act of making stories all about function. "Why do we need Alice in Wonderland?" he asked. "It's main purpose is to be delightful."

We're (presumably) the only species on the planet that seeks to make its existence easier, not by having the most food or territory, but by telling stories. It's social bond, it's a religious experience, it's one of the ways, as Rushdie puts it, we tell the truth. And life would be a lot more meaningless without them.

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