Friday, April 29, 2016

Opinions - I've got em

This is a culmination of lots of things recently and not so recently. It’s about people talking on subjects they have not experienced.
First, one of the things that I’ve heard even people I respect a great deal say, is something along the lines of ‘You do not know what OCD is – you do not feel a compulsion that hinders your life, you just want to straighten things.’ That is an example of the kind of thing that I’m currently disagreeing with.

(TLDR at the bottom)

First of all – it’s pretty true. The difference between someone with that disorder and who has small time compulsions is vast. But we should be thankful for those little things – those are the things that give us sympathy/empathy.
I’m going to give a lot of examples, for various reasons, but partly because this is how I identify with these things.
I have been an outcast – I have really and truly hated every day because going to school was where I had no friends and as far as I was concerned everyone hated me – including my teachers. I had one friend, and her home life was so bad that her mother would constantly pull her out of school to do house work or take care of her sister. This was in middle school – the later days of choosing to be an outcast were actually freeing and enjoyable.  Because of this, I feel empathy for people who find this a part of their actual lives – lives that they can only changed by changing society. I not only believe this gives me a right to speak on things it gives me a duty to do so.
I have been depressed. I have been sick for over a month and unable to bring myself to do anything but sleep and watch TV.  I’ve done this twice in my life and it scares me – the idea that I might never get over it. It didn’t feel like depression – it felt like being too sick to care, but not in any way a doc could treat. This was super low grade compared to people who have chronic depression. But I feel like I could empathize with it – I actually fear the idea of it coming home in my brain. Also, not only do I feel like I can talk about it, I actually believe it exists. A lot of people don’t believe in depression. They literally think you can just cheer up.
On that note – I have been that person – the one that doesn’t believe in depression and tells you to just decide to cheer up. I have been the person that thought feminists were bitchy outraged girls. I have thought that people were overreacting to a few trolls and saying the geek culture was full of misogynists. In my way back days, I have thought abortion was evil, and that my tax dollars shouldn’t pay for others to have a better life. I have thought being gay is just a phase. I have been the asshat. This doesn’t give me sympathy for asshats, but it does give me empathy for people who believe everything their news program tells them. Who believe everything they are told, because why would people lie about that? Who believe that their tiny part of the world is representative of the whole.  It also gives me hope that people can change and evolve. I’m fairly certain that there are people in my circles to whom I’ve said some shockingly dumb stuff. I hope those people realize that I’m still growing and evolving. It also gives me a strong belief that telling people that if they think a certain way, they are just stupid or evil or not bothering to think – that is really not going to change their mind.
With literally no segue I move onto weight. I have never actually been the person who thinks fat people are just too lazy or undisciplined to lose weight – but I’ve known several who actually think that. I have caught myself thinking that being in good shape is because in some way I am better than people who are not. This was in my construction days when I also thought I had a ‘real job’ with ‘real work’. I have also been the other side of that – fretting about body image in a way that made me make really bad life decisions.  Because I’ve been on both sides of this – I feel like I can and should talk about both sides. Point out to people that a good metabolism does not make you a better person. Also acknowledge that there is a good deal of judging, pain and unpleasantness that overweight people suffer from, and unlike things that are a ‘natural part of you’ like race or gender, this is often a thing that is considered ‘your own damn fault’. So suffering without the sympathy and support that you should get. (rawr)
Because even writing this, spiked my anxiety, I’m going to say something about anxiety and really all mental issues that cause you problems with interacting with society. I have anxiety issues. I get nervous to the point of illness about the craziest things. Disagreeing with people on social media, going to a larp, even going to hang outs at my best friend’s house. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens often enough that I started adding vitamin b in hopes of cutting it down. This is not the same as a panic attack or not being able to leave the house because I’m crippled by anxiety. Those things? I can picture how terrible that is – my sympathy/empathy for those things is huge. And even more than that, I can picture and fear the idea of drugs you can take to make it stop – which have an impact on your personality and your physical well being.
Last and always hardest to write about. I have been divorced. The two of us completely destroyed our lives. I have also been judged for it by a lot of people who were not involved. Before that happened, I had never understood how devastating such a thing could be. The life that you expect to have, the one that you build in your mind – that is a real living thing, and when it dies, it is crushing – even if you are the one that kills it. It is the worst and best thing that has happened to me. It is also the thing that opened my eyes to the understanding that everyone has lives that I know nothing about. I have no idea what is going on in my friend’s lives. Judging their life is like judging an article by its clickbait name. Sadly, though this is a thing that I could speak on - that I could give genuine advice for, I never do, and probably never will. I will only speak of my half and that’s just not the story. Though I’m going to sneak something in right now. If you have something that you know is wrong – talk about it. Do not let it sit for so many years that it just becomes the thing you let go. The real worst thing that could happen is that you wait until it is too late to fix. The one thing that I have learned is that communication and trust are actually crucial. I would really love it if people could learn that lesson from me instead of the hard way.

In a fit of anxiety, I don’t much like divorce being last, and have almost yanked that part out like 5 times. So! Another! I am not a parent, but I used to plan to be one. I used to obsess over the things I would do and not do. I used to fret over making decisions my friends were making. I actually gathered a group of friends together in hopes we could all jointly raise our kids. This did not happen for me, and for the record - aside from some small moments of sadness, I don’t mind. My life is fantastic in a totally different way than my friends who are parents. That being said, I feel like I can empathize. I was after all - a kid at some point. I also not only have children that I love, I have parents that I love - not just my parents -friends who are parents. I’m fiercely protective of those people, even in defending them from themselves on the various things they can kick themselves for.

There are probably a dozen more things like this. Things I have in the smallest dose, but because I have them or am close to someone who does, I not only sympathize, I believe in these issues. I know they are real. So my real point here is, don’t silence people who think they empathize. And don’t be silent because it’s not your issue.  Embrace the tiny parts of you and others that help us understand each other. Mostly, don’t belittle yourself or others for having opinions.
Other things I don’t have, but through friends or something else sympathize with: Migraines (I mention this one, because there are people who think they are just headaches), Children, Chronic illness, being unemployed (which to me can be quite as devastating as a divorce, if you built your life around it)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


So, I'm a Larper.
And a woman.
I guess I'm a woman Larper.

In other words, one of my main hobbies is going to Live Action Role Playing games, and all that comes with it. The crafting of an amazing variety of things, from armor to costumes to making my own quills and books. I spend a fair amount of time and money on this hobby. Recently, I was watching a talk about a feminist movement to get more women larping, and it got me thinking about how I ended up with the larps I'm currently in, and how much they've grown in women's involvement. I decided I wanted to write about this, though frankly, this is much more about being a larper than being a woman.

I think I will start with my own beginnings in 1991. When I went to my first larp, I was already hugely into table top gaming. Even if I'd been making enough money to do more expensive hobbies, table top gaming was what I did most, except maybe reading. When we found out about larping, it seemed like the absolutely best thing ever. My brother gave me the rule book for NERO (New England Role-playing Organization) and I was really excited. We went out to our first one day at Fort Yargo, and volunteered for the day. We played a variety of monsters and npc's or non player characters - and pretty much had a blast.  I was very very shy, but I had my (now ex) husband and my brother with me, and the people were extremely helpful to new players. I did get a lot of blatant surprise that I was playing, as one of the few women there - but it was generally kind or flattering.

From there, we made our first characters and started playing. This did not go so well. I think before I get into this, maybe a bit of setting. When we started playing NERO in 1991, it was a fairly heavy pvp (player vs. player) game. There were plot lines and stories to interact with, but the scariest thing you could run into on a dark night was other pc's. I was extremely naive - and thought every single person would want to play a glorious hero. Alas, many liked playing the villain, and I was killed several times by other pc's. So there I was, a shy girl playing a rogue. You gained in level by getting xp either from killing monsters, killing other pc's or going on modules. I was not so good at killing anything and, as someone very shy, was unable to get onto a module. Modules are just small controlled adventures, but they usually have a hook of some sort that requires you to be outgoing. And so, I was unable to get the xp to go up in level. A low level rogue forever.

It didn't take me long at all to give up on playing, but my husband and brother still loved it, so I started volunteering instead. Actually, what I generally did was go to play my character, and as soon as I got killed, go volunteer to play monsters for pretty much the rest of the event. It turned out that I could get a bit of xp from that, so I felt very proactive towards my poor little rogue.

We played this larp for a while - we played it when it broke off and became SOLAR - which was very similar, just without rules coming down from Boston about how the game should be played. I would not say it was toxic, just that it was not really a great larp for me. I feel like being in one of the baronies that was fighting against the other baronies could have been fun. We briefly did join one, but found that being on the bottom of the totem pole - giving them all your experience to pool on someone at the top of the totem pole, was... really even worse. Again, my husband who was very outgoing, managed to stay with them and impress them, and eventually be the one they heaped xp onto. Had I stayed, and proven useful, I might have been that person.

As to how I was affected due to my gender, there were only a few instances that come to mind.  One was the eternal joke that the less armor a girl wears, the higher her armor rating. I saw this one for myself though, at the time, the girl who argued for how much armor she should get on her scantily clad self was both very lovely and extremely intimidating. She also held some in-play power that left you feeling you should not anger her. The 'weaponsmiths' who gave out armor tags based on the rep you were wearing, seemed more intimidated than enthralled.

To me, it seemed that there few women playing, but the ones that did often seemed to be in a position of power. Strong willed, clever and ambitious. Understand that my perspective was very narrow - there may have been other women like me: quiet and hard to see - and I just as blind to them as anyone else was to me.

The times that stand out most as being tied to my gender were the times I was sent out as a Nymph. Now, telling this story, it sounds kind of horrible, but at the time, it didn't seem so - it's all how you cant it really. I was nearly always in monstertown, but some women would show up to monster for just a few hours and would often beg to play a Nymph. Nymphs are very close to the ones you find in dungeons and dragons - they are supposed to be stunningly pretty and go out and charm men to their doom. In the case of Nero, they generally charmed you, took you to the woods, and had their way with you. In some cases, they would be evil and kill you, so many players were wary of them. In any case, all girls wanted to play one, and the monstertown manager would often say no. So when they left monstertown, the manager would ask if I wanted to play one. I think this was mostly some sort of reward for never asking to play specific types of things, I was very easy going - but I was also pretty cute, so who knows what the thoughts that generated it were.

So, I'm going out as this girl that charms men and gets them to come have sex, and my costuming is the same costuming as most things - a green tabard, and if I'm lucky, some elf ears.  This sounds pretty horrible, but keep in mind, I played a lot of dungeons and dragons. In my head, I was a monster from the monster manual - it was fun to me. Also, I had a couple of things going for me - I was very firmly married and not worried about line crossing, and my husband was a really big guy and every single person knew him.  He was the kind of guy that is friends with Everyone. Had I been single, or had people thought I was single, this whole thing might have been extremely uncomfortable. Anyway, as I make a short story long, I would go charm people, take them into the woods, and tell them they had a very nice time. On one very awkward occasion, one of the pc's (who is a very good friend of mine to this day), put me to sleep and put me inside the mages guild circle. (in those days, you could not leave a circle of power without permission, so I'm stuck there) This was at about 2am.  This was supposed to be the funniest joke ever, and if you don't think about it too hard, it is. But then, you are me - a usually very shy person, who is slightly better when monstering, playing a creature that wants to drag men off and have sex, trapped in a room full of sleeping people. I 'wake up' from the sleep spell and am at a loss. Most of them are sleeping on the floor and I'm really not sure how to play this. Do I snuggle with someone? No way. My memory on how I handled this is pretty vague, but I know I decided to go for the 'claustrophobic nymph who wants to go back to the woods'. The best part, was one of the mages waking up and saying 'aren't you Justin's sister?' (Justin is my real life brother)

Overall the whole situation was weird and awkward, and amusingly I did not tell the person responsible how weird and awkward it was until just this last year. And that says something about how hard it is to point out the things that happen to you.

As to the monstertown manager who sent me out as a nymph, he also took me out as a Death Knight to his boss level bad guy, and sent me out as the hobgoblin princess looking for a prince. Also amusing is the different reaction between that character and a nymph, even though the costuming was.. you guess it, a green tabard.

We played this game until one of our friends decided to try breaking off and opening a chapter of Nero again - sticking with the franchise and rules that were formulated mainly in Boston. And that is where I will start my next post.

I will throughout this be talking about the many games I've played, but don't expect much real criticism of those games. I've never left a game because it was 'bad', but I have left several because they weren't for me.  In almost every game I've played, I still have friends who continue to play those games - because to them, they are good games.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'm a Stock Geek

            So, I had some ramblings today that I posted - wondering if I should sell some of my tiny little stock garden due to some rumblings that stocks may go down. I got several interesting comments and a few interesting links to articles, though the thing that inspired me to finally make another blog post, were the comments in those articles. There were several comments that stated in various states of readability that only rich people invest.
            For some reason this pushed me to want to write about my own investments - why I started, and what I mean when I say I'm an investor. Several years ago I found myself in pretty deep financial troubles. After a huge life-change, my overall finances looked pretty grim. I slowly but slowly dug myself out of that pit and found myself again on solid ground. This was pretty nice, enough money to pay the bills, not living from second to second. Also, I'd discovered the amusing money 'saver' of MMO's - online video games.
            This is a bit backwards to many people, who say they can't afford the monthly payment of an MMO, but I've found that paying $15 a month for a game instead of $40 every 3 weeks that I get tired of a game - or instead of a single night at the movies, really does save me money. What I also learned, is that in any MMO we played, I did really well at making money. Fake money, but money regardless. It became my favorite joke, to say that I was a typical Capricorn at making money - but only in video games.
            So here I am, a Capricorn, looking to make money in the real world, who has just found herself standing on solid ground financially for the first time in well...years. And also for the first time in years, not reliant on someone else to keep that going. Eventually, I found the 'video game' I was looking for. It was called Sharebuilder, and much like a 401K, it allowed you to put in little bits of money each month towards stocks you were interested in (instead of having to come up with money to buy whole stocks). I set it up and I named it 'Impulsive'. I filled out their funny online questionnaire and came up with some stocks to invest in. I then decided that I actually wanted to play my video game, and swapped them all out for things I thought were awesome. Apple, Netflix and Marvel.
            Then, I forgot about it. I noticed I had my $25 a month going to it, but overall, ignored it.  Every once in a while, I'd get stricken by guilt that I was wasting my money, but I'd already put it in my budget, so I didn't really miss it - it was like a tiny bill. Sadly, this is the part that's probably hard to emulate - the forgetting and letting it go for a couple of years. But that's what I did.
            By the time I paid attention to it again, Netflix had gone from $30 a share to $300. I didn't have a lot of shares - I hadn't been putting very much money into it, but I had enough that I could sell it and buy many types of stocks. Marvel got bought by Disney, and that went up too. At this point, I'd paid too much attention, and gotten really excited about the possibilities. I started looking for new stocks to buy - companies that I liked, that I wanted to invest in. Not just to someday be rich, but because I wanted them to do well.
            I also geeked about it, a lot. To my husband - who is also a super geek about a lot of things, especially science and technology. And technology breakthroughs. So together we were a super team. Though not any extreme brilliance in buying the big winning stock, there was a lot of fun and a lot of learning about the different companies and what they were working on. Also, I began to see more ways to 'invest'. In little charities. There are so many really good ideas out there - that could do so much with some funding. And they've made it really easy for the little guy to chip some in. Some of them are world changers, some are world changers for someone. Some are just to bring more beauty into the world.
            So today, when I read that only rich people invest, I was... feeling pretty argumentative actually. And also, I wanted to say - even little people can invest. And investing small amounts in your future or someone else's future, or someone's shelter that helps dogs - these are things we can all do. Investing isn't for everyone, not everyone would enjoy it like I do. But it's not just for rich people.

Monday, July 16, 2012


For whatever reason, probably because I have plenty to do, I've decided to add something to my list. I have several stories that I've written or co-written, and I actually really like them. It has hit me that I'd like to find out what happens in these stories. So my new goal is to finish them - if only to find out what happens next. Some of them will be a bit tricky - it has been so long since I've written them, that I don't fully grasp the cosmology anymore. I will have to try to remember, or in some cases, make it up again.

In some ways, it seems like it would probably be good to write new stories, but then I think, good for who? They are like books that I have read and never finished. If new stories crop up while I work on them, so be it, but if not - that's fine too.

Amusingly, the story I'm most interested in finishing currently, is the one I really didn't have a whole outline for. I was writing it with Kristyn, and we hadn't figured out the ending. We'd barely filled out the middle. That one seems most like the story I can't wait to find out. So, hoping to work on Magic Touch and see where it goes.

Hopefully it will go somewhere completely new for me - to completion.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Art class - 1

This will not really be an entertaining post. Mostly, I'm trying to get my thoughts in order going forward. When I first offered to teach the twins a class, I was really excited about showing the twins all that I had learned to love in countless art classes. But as I tried to picture what I would teach, I remembered how I was taught - I was given a medium and told 'Go!'.

I'd forgotten that my first art class was a very strange manipulation by my art teacher - who also happened to be my home room teacher. When I couldn't get my schedule in order, she suggested an art class. The only one available was advanced art, which had a pre-req of Basic art. She told me she would sign off on it. Now I wonder what she was thinking - I never asked her, but I'm sure it was a scheming sort of thing - she was that type. Being in advanced art with a bunch of people who knew what they were doing, meant that she separated me from everyone else, and asked me what medium I'd like to play with. My first was a charcoal drawing - bats from one of a billion National Geographics she had. She'd occasionally come over and point out some tricks with charcoals. It was fantastic.

But from then on out, all of my classes were like that, even when I changed schools and teachers. When I was uninterested in the air brush course, but had recently gotten an old used set of oil paints from my boyfriends mom - my art teacher gave me the supply closet to work in, and just let me go.

Sadly, what this means is that I have no recollection whatsoever of being taught how to paint. I do remember sitting forever trying to draw 'still life'. Which is almost always a bowl of fruit. Hated it! But we had to do it once a week and I actually noticed that I got better the more I practiced. I still hate it, no matter how much it would improve my skill if I started doing it again.

So, for the twins, I had originally thought I would give them paints and say GO! But, I realized that one of the things that makes me quit painting again and again, is that I hate my art. I want realism and I'm just not good at it. So I slowly changed this around in my head and made some plans for an overhead projector, so I could give them a sketch to paint. Brilliant! Well, it turns out it's not that brilliant - I really don't want huge things for them to paint from, and it only works on transparencies. But I could do the basic sketches using those, so it was worth trying.

They each brought me a picture of a wolf that they wanted to be able to paint, and I made a quick and sloppy sketch of my mother's cat for them to fill in. I had discovered while trying to figure out how to get sketches out of my overhead projector, that just tracing something helped me remember a lot about the variety of small tricks involved in sketching. So while one would paint the cat, the other would trace their wolf using the lighting of the projector.

This showed me some things that I have learned over time, though I don't remember learning it, that are actually not intuitive. One is the ability to mix the right colors to get what you want, the other is the ability to make the paint go where you want it - aka, color inside the lines.

I have heard again and again from my many creative friends that you don't have to color inside the lines. And that is very true - but it should be a choice to color outside the lines. It should not be because you can't.

Also, I had a very sad epiphany recently, as my sister in law is now teaching art classes of her own. She had found out that there were high school kids who did not know that blue and yellow make green. There has been recent talk of art being no longer a commonly offered extra curricular activity  - which I thought was fine for people who weren't interested in it. But. To not know how to make colors? I guess all those colors come in the paint set.... Nah, it's unthinkable. Also, my love for art wasn't because I was interested, it was because I was given a chance to be interested.

Hopefully the next class will not be too dull. I want to show them the glory of painting - or I want them to find what art interests them. But first they have to know how.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Post!

What is the point of this blog? No idea! There is no specific point except that I believe I am occasionally brilliant, insightful, or funny. Or my lack of insight or brilliance is funny. I will attempt to limit my use of exclamation marks in this blog - we'll see how that goes.

For now I'm caught in the trap of blog adding. Right off, while making my blog, I realized that I could add others that I like to read. Ooh! I have those... I actually don't have that many, but upon looking through the ones I like, I noticed their links to blogs they like and the horrible trap was sprung. Worse than the wiki-trap. (when you go on wikipedia to look something up and find interesting link after interesting link - and spend an hour instead of 5 minutes proving your husband wrong about something extremely crucial. Okay, not everyone is on wiki for that reason, but 85% of the time I am.) Now I've found even more blogs to add to my list - blogs that I've only just skimmed over and may never read again....

And just to be even more stream of consciousness (I'm sure I can use that as an adjective), I now want to steal a few tips from the Harbinger himself on being able to mouse over text and show other text, so that I don't have to keep adding all of these parentheses when I want to add the commentary in my head.

So, bad habits I may need to break for this blog! Over use of exclamation points! Over use of ellipses.... Using dashes - instead of proper punctuation. I should be okay on emoticons :). I don't use them too much for writing. Making up my own fanfreakintastic adjectives! Nah - you'll have to get used to those. Saying 'so very' too often. You'll see, that's hard for me to avoid. I think that's it... will probably keep some bad habits for 'voice'. And will picture making bunny ears with my fingers every time I use 'quotes'.

So, I'm ready to have a million blogs in my read list, feel free to send me suggestions and look at my list  - I have some good ones, but not nearly enough yet. Now to add my Eclipse blogs. I'll explain those later, if you read some now, they'd look kind of like fan fic for a universe you know nothing about - unless you play Eclipse. (Yeah, dashes as punctuation may have to stay.... we'll see.)

V - signing off!