#393: The Passenger Seat

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Being in the passenger seat is fun. You don’t have to be the one driving, obviously, and it allows you to relax without worrying so much about where the car is going. I thought about this blog post based on a few things: one, my experience watching my friend Alex play Persona 5 the other day, and two, watching my girlfriend Alex doze off in the seat next to me while driving home a few weeks ago. She’s known to doze off in that seat, especially when we’re not listening to anything special. This past drive home, the one from Thanksgiving, featured Alex and I listening to the most recent Death Blart episode, the annual Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 podcast featuring the McElroy brothers. We are in love with the amazing tradition that is Death Blart, and we look forward to it every year without fail.

Being in the passenger seat means also feeling like you control part of the action, though. Alex is good about not directing me what to do while I’m driving, and I’m usually the one driving in these situations, but I’m the kind of person who becomes a backseat driver. It’s not that I like telling people what to do, I just get excited imagining everything going on and want to share it with others. I noticed that while watching my friend Alex play Persona 5; I was being a backseat driver. I kept telling him what strategy to employ, what baddies to beat up and how to beat them. I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious and in your face about it, but afterwards, when all was said and done, I definitely felt like I could’ve held back a bit and realized that the game is about experiencing it, including all the mistakes you make along the way.

#379: The Resolution

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Sometimes it takes being the better person to make yourself realize how petty you were being in the past. I don’t like to talk much about drama on here, but I’d like to briefly touch on a moment that took place recently that made me realize something important about my life and the person I choose to be, both online and in real life. It’s almost always better to just be the better person when in times of trouble or difficulty, even if it’s difficult to do so or to admit that you’re that kind of person.

So that’s what I’ll be talking about today: making resolutions with people, even the types of people you might despise or might despicable. It’s almost always better to just turn the other cheek, let them say what they want to say, and absorb their words into yourself. By that I mean, really listen to what they’re saying, and the motivation behind their words. If you’ve offended someone in any way, isn’t it usually better to just apologize and make up with them than to just drag yourself through the mud by saying they’re wrong to be offended? Usually people these days are so quick to judge each other, and the fact that offense is seen as weakness just makes things worse. People can take offense to things without it seeming like the end of the world.

That’s why I’m all about making resolutions with the kinds of people I trust, or even the ones I don’t trust. Drama is unavoidable sometimes, and there are people out there who thrive on instilling drama in our lives, but they fail when resolution happens instead. Their effect is lessened. It’s better to beat them with kindness than to play the game the way they want it to be played.

#325: The Fan Week

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Having an entire week dedicated to fan content has been an incredible experience. I didn’t realize how expansive and fun and interactive everything would be. I wrote and published two whole stories, amounting almost 10k words in total, and I feel deeply thankful for all the friends I’ve made on Twitter and beyond with their help. They have left wonderful feedback on my stories, too, which allows me to work and improve. It gives me the motivation to keep writing, which is wonderful. I don’t normally have this experience of being able to instantly receive feedback from my peers in an easy way, and I haven’t written much creatively in the past few months or even really years since college. It’s wonderful to get to write again with renewed inspiration to write.

Fandoms are interesting because, no matter which one you’re a part of, there are always bad eggs. Some people are toxic regardless of whatever you do to try to prevent it. You have to ignore those people and just move on, without paying them too much attention or else you risk letting them define the fandom completely. Ignoring and acting as yourself is the best way to move forward, without rustling any feathers along the way. You have to just be you in these spaces.

While I have had mostly positive experiences with my friends in fandom, I know for a fact that others have had negative experiences and they’ve been ruined and burnt out on everything. I don’t blame them for feeling the way that they do, especially after being part of something larger than yourself for so long. It becomes beyond your control and difficult to manage, even though you try your best to. Sometimes things just don’t work the way they’re supposed to. But that’s life in a nutshell.

#321: The Followers

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As I write this, I have almost the same amount of followers on Twitter as I have blog posts on here. It’s really grown over the past few weeks, and I’m happy to see it expanded because it means I have more people to interact with who love my stuff. It’s fun to see people from throughout the fandom come to my profile and discuss shared interests with me. It’s even more fun to make friends who you can then play Monster Hunter with. There’s so much out there in terms of what you can do thanks to social media, and in this day and age, I appreciate it immensely. Leaving an online footprint in places is, under some circumstances, a bit troublesome, but to me it’s just the same as leaving my footprint in other people’s lives. I’ve met people who haven’t liked me, and that’s fine. You can’t please everyone. I don’t think you’re meant to, anyway.

To me, having followers doesn’t mean I’m popular; it means that my tweets resonate with people and they’re interested enough to follow me. Popularity does not necessarily correlate with interest. I consider having few close friends better than having many acquaintances, and that mantra applies definitely to life online. You can be inundated with so many people, but you have to be selective about what you choose to do.

I decided on this blog title and topic because the number next to the title was really close to the amount of followers I have, and nothing more. As I write this, it’s actually at around 325, but I figured this is close enough.

I had to close this blog for a bit to finish writing something else, but now I’m back. Sometimes you just need to relax and wait for the ideas to come back to you.

#273: The Twitter, Part 2

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This blog post is a continuation of a previous blog post, so if you haven’t read that one, you may want to go back and do that first.

Most importantly, there’s joy in being able to share in online experiences with other people. I’m happy to share details about myself, though I wish I were more talented in the ways of art or drawing or video editing, so that I could be of a better use to the fandoms that I claim membership of. I’ve recently started talking with more people on Twitter who are part of the Persona fandom, and it’s been fantastic thus far. We may even play some Monster Hunter: World together sometime in the future. I look forward to whatever that has in store. It’s exciting to think about.

Twitter is there for cultivating friendships, and I’m thankful for its existence in that respect. I don’t know where I’d be without some of the friends I’ve made on that site.

Using Twitter, though, is like staring into the abyss; you never quite know what you’ll find inside it, but you’re interested enough to stare into that black mass anyway. You look because you’re bored, or craving some kind of excitement or news or something. You want to be thrilled again. Having a Twitter in and of itself is great for networking and communication, but not always there for professional purposes, as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t used my professional teacher account very much so far. I think that the main purpose of the site is to keep yourself occupied while you want to be occupied by it; if you aren’t interested in what Twitter has to offer, it’s pointless. But the catch is that you cultivate the feed yourself, so you create whatever the site has to offer, if that makes any sense. It’s a conundrum.

#272: The Twitter, Part 1

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Having a Twitter is, in some ways, a blessing and a curse. It provides you with endless entertainment, memes, news, or whatever you really want to fill your feed with, but on the other hand, it can be a deadly distraction. You might be tempted to keep scrolling through your Twitter feed even while new tweets keep coming up, and you might be tempted to wait and see how your group chat feels about the recent news. I’ve already written about how wonderful it is to have a group chat available with friends from all types of backgrounds and interests and hobbies, but today I want to focus more specifically on what having a Twitter feels like, how it affects the day-to-day.

On a given day, I probably check my various Twitter accounts at least three or four times, some accounts more than others. It depends on what I post and whether it’s attracting any attention, too. Sometimes, if people are responding more to my tweets, then that means I’ll be on the app more than usual. I don’t frequently check my teacher account because I don’t frequently post there, but on my hobby account and my private account, I post much more often. I have made and met some friends there already, reminding me of what it was like to do so years ago, during my senior year of undergrad, when I first met the friends that would later form the group chat I have. I look forward to potentially having more group chats to share in, and I look forward to meeting new people online.

As a teenager, I made lots of friends online, so I feel familiar with this whole process. But it’s still a bit nerve-wracking at first, not really knowing anyone who you’re talking to really.

#259: The Good Sleep

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Sometimes, after a long night’s party and a deeply tired Anthony, I like to lounge off to bed in the best way possible. This is the Good Sleep. The Good Sleep is the best type of sleep available.

I guess you could call this a continuation from my most recent blog post, the Late Late, because they’re both discussing the same thing, and this post will continue the line of thinking expressed there.

The Good Sleep is a few different things. Sometimes, it’s after a long party and I feel like resting more than ever before, when my entire body just feels like it’s about to collapse into itself and the muscles just want to relax. Too much activity, too much running and messing around outside or indoors. That’s about all we do when we hang out together. Not so much outdoors nowadays, as it’s way too hot. But sometimes we play Betrayal or Magic outside on Alex’s porch. It’s a great spot for us to just unwind, but with the heat recently it’s become a bit unbearable. Instead, we stay inside and do the same things. That’s the good thing about having versatile playing opportunities!

The Good Sleep is also after a late night. Sometimes, when I stay up exceptionally late (I’m talking as late as like, the early early morning, while Alex is still getting up to go to work) I feel exhausted the next day and can’t seem to catch up on sleep at all, so I tough it out throughout the day and wait until at night again to get sleep in. That’s the good stuff. After that long day of exhaustion, the next sleep feels perfect and heavenly. That’s what the Good Sleep is all about.

I hope this post doesn’t encourage people to stay up super late and destroy their usual bed times; I’m just mentioning my summer hobbies!

#231: The Real Draft

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No, not using playing cards this time. Still playing Magic: the Gathering, just like normal. Playing Magic is a blast, but being able to draft in person is completely different from drafting elsewhere. It’s like night and day; on the one hand, drafting online is fast, easy, and you can pick up and stop whenever you want, but on the other hand, drafting in person allows you to counter each other’s strategies in a way that’s not possible online, while drafting against computers. There’s competition in drafting against each other, and although I don’t exactly have a set plan in drafting to make matters easy, I love being able to think through my picks in that way. Plus, you never know what cards people are going to play against you when you finally get to play against them. You might have a vague idea, but there’s no way to completely predict a person’s deck, given the randomness and complexity of drafting a limited set with 254 possible cards inside. It makes drafting so much more of a mental exercise.

Earlier today, while talking about something completely different, I referred to Magic: the Gathering as “mental exercise” to Alex (as a way to persuade her to let us play magic before going to the gym, which she wasn’t a fan of, unfortunately). I definitely think it’s like that; apparently, it’s one of the most complicated games ever created, and I can understand why. The sheer number of cards and mechanics and keywords and interlocking plays is maddening and frankly impossible to keep track of entirely. You have to memorize so much in order to truly call yourself a master of magic, or a judge, in other people’s cases. Being a judge would be an interesting job for someone to have, as a volunteer exercise of course.

#220: The Timewalk

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Timewalking is a feature in World of Warcraft that becomes available every few weeks or so, and it’s become a tradition for us to take time out of our busy schedules to complete the 5 required weekly timewalking dungeons, regardless of what expansion they come from.

Let me explain what timewalking is first. So in World of Warcraft, there have been seven expansions up to this point. The game has been out since 2004, and it’s still running strong despite everything else going wrong with the game since then. Each expansion has a set of dungeons (5-player group content) exclusive to that expansion. In Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion to the game, you could explore the Temple of the Jade Serpent with a group of randomized players, but in the most recent expansion, you can still complete the Temple dungeon, but not with random players in an instance queue. That is, until timewalking appears, and then you are able to experience the magic all over again. Your characters are leveled down to the current level of the expansion, and then you’re forced to take on everything that comes your way with an item level appropriate to the expansion, too. Everything is normalized to provide an authentic experience of what it would be like if that content was current. For example, all the enemies and bosses are scaled up while you are scaled down to match their power levels. Mechanics are important again, and you can’t just zerg rush through all the bosses without paying attention to some of the mechanics of the game. You have to actually pay attention and work as a team, rather than rushing and rushing along through every health bar you face.

That’s it for timewalking, for now at least. I’m sure I’ll talk about it again at some point, considering how prevalent it is in WoW.

#218: The Board Game

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It’s time we talk about board games and how they’ve changed the way I think about gaming in general.

Board games are a blast, and I own plenty of them. My favorites that I own are probably Betrayal at House on the Hill & Kings of New York, two classics that always seem to pop up when my friends and I decide to hang out and play games together. There’s also Settlers of Catan, Clue, Taboo, Munchkin, Magic (if you count magic as a board games, it depends on your definition I guess), and more that I’m forgetting off the top of my head and I’m sure Alex will remind me of them after she reads this.

The reason why I like playing board games is because they allow a certain degree of role-playing that isn’t afforded by other games. In Betrayal, for example, people are given the chance to role-play as a person trekking through a mysterious, haunted mansion. The place is procedurally generated, thanks to the freedom that playing a board game offers, and there are tiles that you pull from to create the mansion. When you run into an Omen tile, you have to draw an Omen card, such as a Sword, Zombie, Knight, etc., and they determine what the Haunt will be. The Haunt is the moment that changes the game and flips everything on its head. Depending on what Omen is drawn, who draws it, and what room they draw it in, the game chooses a “Betrayer” who then has to fight against the rest of the party. It’s one of my favorite games because of the randomness presented by it, as well as the sheer interactions that come from playing a game that randomly pits certain people against each other. How fun is that?

I also like playing Kings of New York, but I’ve run out of words to talk about that one. Maybe next time!