#508: The Quarantine, Part 3

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I’d like to talk about the picture I chose for this blog post first, before going into what I’ve been doing during this quarantine. The picture above states, “Stay home if you’re sick!” however I’d probably amend that just to say, “Stay home in general!” The way this virus works, you can be infected and still be asymptomatic. The responsible thing to do for all of us is to make sure we’re practicing social distancing so that, if for whatever reason we are actually infected, we don’t unintentionally spread it to the people around us who are more vulnerable and at risk. That’s one of the subjects we discussed at our round-table family meeting recently. I’m practicing social distancing and effectively quarantining myself even though I don’t have a cough or any of the other symptoms you would expect from the virus. Other people should be doing that, too, and I don’t think it’s wise for us to go out in public and romp around the world expecting everything to be the same as it once was. We need to be cautious and upfront about our symptoms so that other people know what to expect from us. Even as I write this I question a little bit whether I’m making the right call for everyone, but I hope it’s right.

As for me, I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s an addicting, incredibly thrilling MMORPG that has gripped my attention through this whole endeavor and I’m super happy about the ending of the most recent expansion, Shadowbringers. It was fantastic. I know people in the future are likely going to think, you were playing video games during this crisis? But guess what, what else am I supposed to be doing? It worked for me to keep me from going outside and being around people.

#506: The Quarantine, Part 1

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Living in quarantine hasn’t been easy, and recently we decided as a family to
impose some restrictions on each other to make sure we’re acting responsibly and don’t accidentally spread the infection to each other. I think it’s all fair and makes sense. What I’m wondering is when the end of this will come about, and what to expect of life after it ends.

I was reading on Twitter recently how certain people in the White House want to restart the economy and weigh the benefits and risks of tanking the economy to prevent the spread of the infection. It’s absolutely cynical and baseless, and if it goes through, it will lead to even more deaths. It’s unbelievable that it’s even being considered seriously, but then again, who’s surprised by this kind of rhetoric anymore? It’s all about saving the election in November, and it’s all about making sure the economy is stable in spite of everything. Economy be damned, if people are dying that’s all that needs to be said! Italy is a cautionary tale for how things can look here if things don’t improve on our end, and they may end up in that capacity regardless of how we act, if we aren’t quick enough. If we let things spiral out of control with incompetent management of the crisis, I worry how it will all look when this is over and done with.

Being in quarantine, though, has reminded me of a few things. It’s reminded me of how it feels to have no real professional direction at the moment. I’m really just waiting for the tide of this virus to end so that I can return to normalcy, and hopefully find a job that isn’t entirely shuttered and destroyed by this virus. Hopefully things start to look up soon.

#505: The Puzzle, Part 2

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In this blog post, I won’t just be talking about the act of working on puzzles, a meaningful activity that my family has spent a lot of time on already. I talked about that in the last one. I want to touch on a particular anecdote and share it with you all because it’s stuck with me, and it’s an experience you maybe don’t always get to have. Basically, I got to meet one of my good friends’ family friends while working on a puzzle with them at their house about a year ago. We talked about all kinds of things in the time we were there, especially election season and how we were excited to hear what was going to happen next year. How naive we were at the time.

The puzzle we were working on was mostly inconsequential. I don’t remember the pattern or what it looked like at all; I just remember struggling to put anything together, as it had about 25% of it done and was in that stage where people are just putting the pieces next to other pieces and seeing if they fit at all.

About a week or two ago, I spoke to that friend again and we talked about this moment in time. We specifically talked about how weird it is sometimes to recall places and people you’ll likely never meet or see ever again. You were nice and cordial to each other once, and then… poof. They’re gone. You might not even remember their names or where they lived or what their house was like; you just remember that small moment your lives intersected for a bit. It’s unusual to consider this, I guess. But we talked about it together, and I wish I had more examples I could pull out in my head, but they’re all gone.

#491: The Incomparable

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Jace is an incomparable little monster, and I love him to bits, but he’s still a monster that needs to be tamed from time to time. Just imagining him running and rushing through the room last night, tearing into the chair and jumping on top of it and messing with Chris’s feet beneath the bean bag chair. He’s a relentless beast and no matter how much you try to rein him in, he steps in and seems to have something else in mind, some other tenacious plan that he needs to enact before moving on to his next big idea. Jace is the kind of cat that loves moving from place to place quickly, and even though he’s also full of energy when people are around him, he loves nothing more than to lounge lazily while people aren’t around. He’s calm, collected, and normal under any other circumstances. He’s a stupid little boy but he’s my stupid little boy, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I decided to title this blog post “the incomparable” because he is an incomparable animal. He doesn’t share a lot of traits that most cats have, and he’s by no means normal. He likes lounging around but as soon as he’s surrounded by people, like I said, he seems to go crazy. It’s like it activates an instinct for him to seek attention and become the center of their communications. I don’t think he even minds being pushed around a little bit when people inevitably get tired of his antics and start pushing back against them. Alex has compared him to a dog before, which is funny because even though he has dog-like traits, he definitely acts like a cat sometimes too. It’s funny how all the animals I end up having end up acting different from what you would expect of them.

#479: The Reason

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Now, by a certain point after reading this blog, you have to wonder: what’s the point of all this? Why don’t you turn your following into something that’s, you know, actually full of life and monetize it in some way?

Well, here’s the thing. First of all, I don’t know how to do that, and that’s a difficult investment to make. Second of all, I like keeping my blog low-key and casual and friendly to the people who happen to read it. I know I’m a super selfish and personal writer, in that I really only occupy my own thoughts with more of my own thoughts, but I do try to respond to comments, for example, when I see them on the blog. It’s helpful to see people engage in the writing, even if I’m doing it in a way that feels more authentic to my own feelings than anything else.

What I mean is, this is basically like keeping a private journal. I used to keep a private journal myself, where I would basically just write out my thoughts rather than typing them. But what I found is that handwriting hurts my hands a lot these days, and I have wrist trouble already, so it’s easier for me to type out this stuff. And I have this blog from when I was in college and cared a lot about creative writing, so why not turn all this into something personally valuable in the process? That’s the purpose behind this whole thing.

It’s also to keep my close family updated on how I’m doing. I think they like seeing me write and talk to them, even if it’s in this kind of an indirect manner. It’s the best way to keep everyone up to date on how you’re feeling and how life is going for you.

#478: The Root, Part 2

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This blog post is a continuation of the previous one, in which I wrote about the “root of the problem” in my life, and how I planned on overcoming that issue over time. It’s something I need to still work on, even having written it out like I did in blog post form. Usually that helps, and in this case it did help me a bit, but I need to focus more on this blog so that I don’t end up writing it all out and then by the end I haven’t done the thing I initially said I was setting out to do. In this case, that’s writing about the conversation I had with my friend.

My good friend Hallie is probably one of my closest friends around, and she’s always rooting for me. That’s what the title comes from; she said in a message today that she’s rooting for me, in those words, and wants to make sure I make a decision about my future that’s the best it can be for me. I don’t want to stumble backwards in the same direction I went previously, and I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly at odds with myself and my own desires. I need to trust in the process, trust in myself as a person who can get a job, stay at that job, make money, save money, and believe in myself all along the way. It’s difficult to do so, but even just writing it out here tells me that I want to hold myself accountable to that idea.

Hallie reminds me every once in awhile that we’re both still young, that we’re both going to get through this. She also mentioned she’s going to be moving to Montana sometime soon, which is cool and all but also really far away. Not much further than Seattle, actually probably closer, but oh well.

#473: The Support

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Support conversations in Fire Emblem: Three Houses are probably some of my favorite parts of the game, even though they tend to overload really quickly. By that I just mean, the way I play the game lends itself to lots of supports coming available at once all over the place. You have a thousand little exclamation marks showing up in the corner of your screen in the character journal, and it’s tempting you to finish them so that you can see all the neat little character interactions that take place during the game. The characters are what sell me on how good Fire Emblem is, after all. I loved Black Eagles mostly because the characters are so interesting to me, and they seem so real and fleshed-out compared to other games which don’t have the same depth to their stories.

I’m currently watching, at the behest of one of my friends, the support conversations between Annette and Felix. I haven’t watched much of the Blue Lions at all, mostly because I haven’t played their route and I wasn’t able to recruit many of them during my Crimson Flower run. She makes him blush and vice versa, which adds to their romantic feelings for each other obviously. I love being able to see their characters a bit more in-depth, especially the ones I don’t know too well. These characters feel so hollow to me until I get the chance to see their supports, and then everything changes and I feel so much more in love with them.

Speaking of music, though, the game also has a wonderful soundtrack, especially the end credits theme which reminds me of the end credits theme to Persona 5. I was listening to that, too, recently, while writing these posts out.

How crazy is it that I’ve been doing this whole blogging thing for so long?

#471: The Orchestra

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Ever hear a song with an orchestra that’s absolutely empowering and powerful in the best kind of way? That’s what I’m listening to as I write this blog post. I wasn’t sure what title to give this daily entry, then I heard a particular song, and it all came together for me in an instant. Obviously I would write this next post about the orchestra, the bombastic sound that emits from your speakers as you listen to a song that uplifts and inspires you beyond your imagination. The inspiration that comes from listening to music is enough to lift me from any kind of depressive episode I might be experiencing and pushing towards a better future, wherever that may be. You just have to push forward regardless and hope that things will get better over time.

Now, not every song has the potential to do this, and if you’re listening to the same song over and over again, it’s very possible you’ll feel not as inspired any more. There’s a residual effect of repetition, of listening to something so often and so frequently that you no longer feel the same emotions you felt at the beginning. The repetition overloads you, making you feel like it’s just a shadow of its former self. I guess this blog post is now about how music tends to feel repetitive after awhile, especially if you’re listening to a loop like I currently am, but I still enjoy the song regardless. It’s the sheer power of the trumpets and horns and violins, how radiant the sound ends up being, and how it forces you into a position of pure energy. I don’t mind it at all; in fact, sometimes I crave that kind of energy. It’s enough to propel me to want to put it into my own writing.

#470: The Spray Bottle

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Having a spray bottle handy has made it easy to help Jace out with learning what to chew and what not to chew on. When he’s feeling especially active and spry, he runs around like crazy, gets the zoomies, and starts chewing on whatever he can fit in his mouth. Sometimes that’s the lever on the desk chair, other times it’s the wicker baskets underneath the bookshelf. Regardless of what it is, or whether it’s tasty or anything like that, Jace seems to have other things in mind. He just doesn’t care about the taste at all; it’s the sensation of biting something and fitting it in his mouth that he loves the most. I stop him mostly because I don’t want him chewing and potentially digesting something that will make him sick. For example, if he gets the wicker down his throat, that’s obviously a bad thing, and he doesn’t know any better so it’s my job to come in and stop that before it becomes a bigger problem.

In these situations, the spray bottle comes in handy. It’s what I deploy when he seems to be getting a little too feisty and needs correcting. Just a light tap of water in his direction gets him to stop. Nowadays, all I have to do is shake the bottle and he starts to notice that he’s doing something wrong. He recognizes the shake and sound of the spray bottle as evidence that he should probably be doing something else. I wasn’t really sure if it would work from the beginning, but I’m glad it’s at least helping us make some progress. He’s been less likely to do that after I started using it. He also knows sometimes that maybe he should take a break and start to relax a bit more.

#469: The Ping

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A ping is when you deal a small amount of damage with a particular item or card or weapon or whatever method at an enemy. Pings are known to be small and usually inconsequential, hence the name “ping.” It’s supposed to sound extra basic, like it’s something you hear off in the distance but can barely make out. A light sound, and then it’s gone. The naming convention makes sense in this case.

No, this blog post won’t actually be about ping pong or anything like that. It’s about a nickname used in the context of playing Magic: the Gathering sometimes. If I have a creature that deals one damage with its tapped ability, that’s something I can ping with. It’s mostly inconsequential, because there’s at least 20 life in a standard game and 40 in a commander game, but it exists enough for it to be counted and tabulated.

The other day, while playing an especially long game of EDH free-for-all with Dan and Alex, I beat Dan’s deck with a ping. It felt great and hilarious to end the game with such a small, seemingly pointless move, but it worked and it ended the game pretty much here and there. One damage can really separate a win from a loss, in the end, so it’s worth keeping that in mind when you forget to ping someone for damage. It could always backfire if you don’t plan far enough ahead.

This is also the same game where Dan asked if we knew the rules for infect in commander, which was pretty funny to us because the rules are no different in commander than they are in any other format. I guess that’s what he meant to highlight to us, that it’s the same even if you expect it to be different. Either way, it made us laugh.