#416: The Present

lighted christmas tree

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Getting presents is fun, but it’s not as fun as giving presents to other people. I know that sounds cheesy and corny and probably like a recycled line from a Hallmark movie you’ve seen a thousand times by now, but not everyone truly believes it. Some people are obsessed with the receiving of presents and don’t have anything to say when it comes to the giving. They don’t so much give gifts as much as they give selfish appreciation for what they receive. There are some people who only give gifts out of obligation, who put no creative thought into the process, who just hand you money and say, take this. Those people don’t necessarily believe in the spirit of the season as much as they should, but at least there’s something there. Other people don’t give presents at all, and they neglect any sort of duty to their family or friends or the holiday at all.

It’s not that I feel bad for those people; I feel bad for the people who don’t get anything from them. I understand not being the kind of person to celebrate Christmas, obviously; even though it’s become kind of Americanized, it’s still a holiday with deeply religious connotations to it. And some people don’t necessarily crave the association with church, which I completely get. Where I draw the line is when people show up at holiday parties with their friends around and don’t bother sharing in the joy of present-giving with each other. Sometimes they even expect presents even though they didn’t give anyone anything. That’s a bit selfish, don’t you think?

I’m not talking about anyone in particular, believe it or not, in this blog post. I just wanted to discuss some general opinions and thoughts about the season. Hopefully that comes across well.

#415: The Long Countdown

red and green mistletoe decoration

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(I’m pretty sure I’ve written a blog post titled “The Countdown” before, so I’m using this as an alternate title, because I wanted to write about a similar topic!)

When it comes time for December to roll around, there’s always the inevitable countdown to Christmas. It begins at 25 days and strolls slowly down to 0, and when 0 hits, you start to feel the magic of the season a bit more intensely than before. It’s not something that happens every year, but when it does, it’s special.

This long countdown is going to also be about a different kind of countdown, more of a count up I guess. On another website, I’ve been doing daily posts, a certain kind of series of posts one day at a time, and I realized about a week or two ago that they would line up in such a way that the one hundredth post would also be on Christmas. So instead of the usual Christmas countdown, where we had an advent calendar or a written countdown somewhere, instead it was monitored by this series of posts. While I was the only one counting down in this way, it feels nice to have a countdown going that you can always keep track of. It keeps you motivated about Christmas, and it makes the season that much better by virtue of the fact that you have something to always be looking forward to. Whether it’s giving or receiving presents, you have the benefit of being around other people this time of the year, and you get to share in their collective joys and happinesses in a way that’s unique to Christmas.

I don’t know if I’ve written much about this holiday here, but hopefully I have. I know I’ve been doing this for over a year, so it’s somewhat likely.

#414: The Lounge

brown wooden center table

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Lounging around can be really beneficial, if the occasion calls for it and it seems right. I’m not saying that lounging all the time is ideal, because eventually you get tired of it and it drags you down into a pit of misery and depression, but lounging from time to time, when you deserve it, is great. That’s why this vacation so far has been perfect; I get the chance to relax a bit, unwind and set myself loose. I can write, I can play games that I haven’t played in ages, and I can see family. I don’t get to do all of those things so casually all the time, whether it’s because of work or whatever else is going on in my life.

I can learn Japanese in my off time, I can drink coffee whenever I wake up instead of at a designated time in the morning to get myself pumped up and ready for work. I can visit my therapist when the time calls for it rather than at our designated appointment time. I can even write whatever fics I want to, and I have unlimited (well, sort of) time to do it. That’s what makes this season so special to me: the time it affords me that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I’m having difficulty coming up with blog post ideas for this long week or so off, but I’m trying my best! I don’t want to abandon my 300 words a day habit in 2020, and I’m so glad I was able to keep it going throughout all of this year. It’s made me a better, more self-conscious and deliberate writer. There’s so much more I could talk about too, but at this moment it feels like dragging things along if I do that. Instead, let’s end it here.

#413: The Hollow

sea wave

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I’m currently listening to the soundtrack to Hollow Knight: Silksong, a sequel video game that’s set to come out sometime next year. It’s going to be a huge hit, as the first one was, and I’m really looking forward to its release even though I never beat the first one. Why, you might ask? Well, one of the reasons honestly is because of the soundtrack. It’s gorgeous, and the melodies could drift you off to sleep if you’re not careful while listening. They’re soothing and luring, like a bedtime ritual.

I might have already made a post about Hollow Knight before, now that I think about it. I guess it just has really left an impression on me in the short time I’ve spent playing it. It stays with you even though the game isn’t necessarily that long. It’s perfect in small doses, playing from time to time and dipping in and out as you find the inclination or motivation to play it. Games that allow you to do that without losing progress or anything like that are exceptional in their own ways. They’re worth playing by virtue of the fact that they’re replayable. Hollow Knight is certainly an example of this, and it’s a blast to play because of that.

One thing about Monster Hunter World that would take some getting used to is all the controls for each of the individual weapons over time. It would be difficult to get back into the game if I took an extended break from it, which is why I usually end up playing at least some Monster Hunter when I can. It’s a fun game no matter how you slice it, but it’s definitely the kind of game that’s difficult to pick up and put down without committing a sizable chunk of time to it.

#412: The Twelve Days

white cumulus clouds

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Coming up, I have twelve days off of work. It’s unreal to think about. I mean, no other break compares to this one; here we have total immersion in relaxation and being oneself again, not just our work-selves. Every so often we forget about what it’s like to be our real selves, the selves that exist outside of our 9-5 jobs. When we’re working, we sometimes lose sight of that identity that exists inside us and doesn’t necessarily enjoy its work. I think the selves that exist outside of our routines are interesting to think about, even though our routines in some ways define us.

When this blog post goes up, though, I’ll be a considerable way through the break, and you won’t have to worry about me bragging about its length for that much longer. I’m really just excited that I have the chance to relax for an extended period of time again. I don’t totally know what I’ll be doing during this time, probably trying to come up with blog posts throughout the many free days I have, which leads me to thinking about this blog a bit more at length.

Since I started this blog, I’ve gotten a job, I’ve been on summer break without pay, and I’ve restarted the job again with a new school year. It’s been a journey so far, and I can’t say I’ve abandoned this blog throughout the whole journey. I like to make sure I stick with something, anything, regardless of what it is, because I want to have some kind of self-assurance and repetition in my life. When I log onto Pocket Camp in the morning, it feels like completing a step of my morning ritual or routine. The same goes for this blog, as it’s a type of habit I’ve cultivated over 412 days so far.

#411: The Raven

selective focus photograph of black crow

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On my desk, perched next to the lamp and beside the personal business cards, a raven sits. It’s not a fancy statue, and it’s not full of elaborate feathering and design. It’s just an all-black raven, that I’m pretty sure Alex bought for me from Target once a long time ago. The fact that it’s not a fancy or incredibly intricate design is part of what makes it special; I like to think the raven is simple and clean, a reminder of my English literature days and my ambitions toward becoming a college professor one day. It reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, of course, but it also reminds me that I can’t give up on who I used to be, or who I want to be today. There is more out there for me to do, and the raven is there as if to say, you better make sure you’re doing everything you can to achieve your dreams.

This might all sound ridiculous, and it probably does, but sometimes small tokens have large meanings, sometimes unintentionally. They just acquire those meanings over time.

Recently, I moved the raven closer to my desk, so it serves as a more obvious reminder to me. That way I don’t forget it as frequently. It’s always there, and I’ll always remember its presence. I like to think that the raven wanted to come closer because it noticed I was losing my way a bit. Alex and I had talked about that a few times, just about how I need to focus more on my professional ambitions and not lose my way on who I want to be, whoever that is. I don’t know what it is currently, but I know that I need to get there sooner or later, whatever it takes.

#410: The Language

black and white book business close up

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I’ve decided, instead of working on my knowledge of Spanish, I’ll instead focus on learning a new language, one that actually interests me more even though I know it’ll be exceptionally difficult to learn. That language is Japanese.

As someone who’s watched his fair share of anime and read some manga from time to time, I think it’ll be really valuable for me to know the language that all of this originates from. On top of that, Alex and I have discussed visiting Japan pretty much all the time. It’s something that’s always on our minds, and I’m excited about the possibility of perhaps being able to order food or discuss topics with people in the language that’s native to the country. I don’t expect myself to become proficient immediately, as I know it’s an incredibly difficult language for someone like me to learn and I’ll need to devote a lot of my attention to doing it, but I’m committed. I don’t know how long that commitment will necessarily last, but for now, while it’s still fresh in my mind, I want to do something about this, and I want to take action on it. Who knows how long it will actually last for.

In the meantime, back to Duolingo. Hopefully this means I’ll be able to keep up a streak again, as I know Alex had a super long streak that she was proud of for awhile. I hope to be able to match that by taking this language’s courses and hopefully learning a thing or two along the way. If it doesn’t work as well as it should, I might consider paying for an actual language course somewhere. I’d like to really commit to this.

I think I may have actually already discussed this topic on my blog before. Oh well.

#409: The Long Conversation

landscape nature wilderness view

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Have you ever had a conversation with a friend that just seems to go on forever? You can hardly trace where it started or began, and at this point, you’ve covered so many topics that it’s impossible to quantify it all at once. Your messages are so long, so varied and intense and over the top, and you’re both so interested in each other’s lives, that it’s a genuine conversation, the kind that really provokes interest. I love when I get the chance to have these kinds of conversations, as they don’t happen often.

What I mean by this is, these are the types of conversations that last ages, that really cause you to write down on a separate piece of paper what you’re about to say because there are so many topics you need to cover in just one message at a time. You’re simultaneously talking about Persona while also discussing career ambitions and college and beyond, all at once. It’s remarkable to have the opportunity to have these types of conversations, as they’re really only possible with people you’ve only just met. Afterwards, I feel like the conversations between friends are shorter, more concise and focused on what’s going on in our day to day lives. It’s nice to be able to talk about so many things, so many topics all at once.

What I love the most about making new friends is being able to tell them about things all over again, and being able to experience life another time around. It’s really like going through the motions all over again.

For context, I recently made a new friend on Twitter with a different shipping preference and it’s been wonderful talking with them about life and everything going on in the community. It makes all the drama much easier to deal with.

#408: The Deathmatch, Part 2

burial cemetery countryside cross

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So, gonna continue talking about the deathmatch format for another blog post because I’m just so jazzed about it, I couldn’t fit everything into just one post. It’s just that interesting for me to write about! Hopefully it has the same effect reading it as it does writing it.

So, participating in deathmatch games is always high-stakes. Your deaths directly contribute to the enemy team winning the game, and even if you’re carrying the team on your back with your amazing kill streak and combo moves, it won’t matter one bit if the rest of your team is slacking off. Now, that is to say that playing in the deathmatch format gives you more leeway to carry than say in the objective-based format. You actually have the opportunity to contribute to the score that wins the game for you, instead of having to push the payload in one direction for awhile.

I’ve played deathmatch games for as long as I can remember. When I first played Halo 3, for example, I was hugely into Team Slayer, which was essentially the same thing as Team Deathmatch. It involves picking up weapons throughout the map and letting them dictate how well you do in that mode. I also played deathmatch games in Call of Duty, specifically the Modern Warfare series and the first two games of that.

Nowadays, I play deathmatch mostly in Overwatch. It’s a game mode that’s sometimes available in the arcade, if I get lucky and log in at around the right time of the day for it to be available. It’s not always an option, which sucks.

I also went back to Halo: Reach again recently and that has Team Slayer as well, so it feels like going back home in some ways. Like I’m reverting to an old past.

#407: The Deathmatch, Part 1

grey skulls piled on ground

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This blog post is going to be about deathmatch as a game mode.

Whenever I’ve played first-person shooter games, I’ve always gravitated away from the objective-based formats and more towards deathmatch fights. Here’s the major difference: objective formats have you work as a team to push a payload, capture a point, or hold a certain amount of ground, whereas deathmatch formats deal with killing the other team a certain amount of times to reach the end goal of 30, 40, 50, etc. It’s more exciting, in my opinion, and it allows for more relaxed, quick gameplay when you’re just focused on fragging your opponents and not so much on whether or not the payload is being pushed correctly.

This isn’t to say that those formats and game modes aren’t fun; they have their uses too. I like when I’m queued with a specific team and we go into battle together, as it means we’ll actually focus on the objective rather than if there was someone random on the team who might not focus on it at all. That tends to happen more often than not, and it leads to frustrating games. In deathmatch, the objective is so obvious that everyone is naturally doing it anyway: killing the enemy team is easy, fun, and quick.

Now, there are different ways of playing deathmatch. There’s the team deathmatch format, which involves teams of four or six people working together to take down the enemy team’s score, or there’s free for all deathmatch, in which you have to do it all by yourself. I don’t know if I have one I prefer over the other, but I’ve definitely put more time into free for all, if I’m being honest. That’s because it’s available more often on Overwatch, but that’s besides the point. It’s also just very fun.