Redefining Creative Spaces

As writers know, there’s always that place, or spot, that helps the creative energies flow. For some it’s a coffee shop, their clean desk, or their office space. It’s somewhere you can get away from distractions and focus on your writing. Some people need music, some people need white noise, others need complete quiet.

For me, the past six years of writing has been done in college. I hated college. It was boring and very little of it had anything to do with what I wanted out of life. So I escaped to writing. I have notebooks that have been filled over the years with ideas and outlines. Everything that’s given birth to one story or another was written down during a class of some kind.

Now that I’ve graduated, things have gotten odd. I now have to force myself to find time and space to write again. Which, you’d think would be easy. But it’s quite the opposite. At classes, at the very least, I had to be there. There really wasn’t a choice in the matter (I guess there is, technically, but I wanted to graduate after all).

My room is probably the closest thing to another decent creative space. But there are tons of distractions, primarily the internet itself. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. It takes a lot more willpower than you’d think to hunker down and put “pen to paper” when you just do anything else you want.

There isn’t exactly a point to all this, just some musings on space and how it affects creativity. But a goal of mine in 2017 is to write another novel. It’s been years since I have and it’s about time I hop to it. So one way or another I’ll have to find a way to focus.

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Let’s Talk About Food

Before I begin, I should note that I’m writing this while eating an entire box of Chips Ahoy! cookies and a glass of milk. This will be important for later.

I’m going to write about food and body image for a bit, so if that bothers you, this is your warning to leave.

In short, I hate my weight. I absolutely despise it. For those unaware, I’m 24, male, and roughly 5 foot, 9 inches. I also weigh 210 pounds. The average for my height is around 170-175, so that’s quite a difference.

I’ve also been trying to get down to that weight for longer than I can remember. I think that I started around 2009? I honestly cannot remember. Either way, it’s been a long time. I’ve tried several different methods, from calorie counting, to “dieting” in the sense of portion control, to constant exercise, and some combination of those.

Nothing has worked. I lose a few pounds, then go back up and few pounds. One step forward, two steps back. Story of my life.

Reading this, you no doubt have a few questions. The first is why? Why is it so hard? There are multiple answers to this.

Food is a very important part of my family. My mother and I joke that the family motto is “We don’t eat to live, we live to eat.” This of course means we enjoy food for its taste much more than it’s ability to sustain life. We enjoy lots of different foods, but primarily sweet, savory, and salty.

In other words, we eat a lot of junk. Not as much as some people, but enough in my opinion.

There are also some mental factors. I suffer from major depression and anxiety. I take medication for these things and it works wonders. It keeps my moods mostly regular and pretty much destroys my anxiety.

It also makes it incredibly difficult to lose weight. Most anti-depressants you’ll see out there have “weight gain” or “difficulty losing weight” as side effects. And boy, they are not kidding. I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to lose any of the pounds I have. I’m talking cutting my calories down to 1200 a day, while also walking several miles on the treadmill.

But in the end it’s all for nothing because I have awful impulse control. That’s the nasty secret. I literally cannot control myself around food. If it’s there, and it tastes good to me, I’ll eat it. Even if I’ve already eaten my meals for the day, I’ll eat it. Even if I’m full, I’ll eat it. It’s just really a fact at this point. It doesn’t really help that I work at a restaurant where free food is always a possibility.

I have no clear idea why I do this. It’s probably a coping mechanism of some kind. But I haven’t been to therapy for it yet. Haven’t really had the ability to afford it.

And then there are nights like this, where I do really well for most of the day, and then slip up drastically. I hit rock bottom and just keep on digging. So even after stuff my face with pizza, I sit before you with a glass of milk and box of cookies. This happens more often than you think and I tend to eat until I get sick.

I’ve never vomited, because the one thing I hate more than everything is the feeling of vomiting. I avoid it whenever possible. But I’ve gotten to the point where I actually can’t move because my stomach is so upset, in case you were wondering.

The second question you have is – probably – why? Why do you want to lose all that weight?

I’ll be honest, I don’t have to. I could probably roll on through life like this and be perfectly fine. I don’t necessarily look my weight and most people don’t really care. I’ve had romantic partners that have theoretically found me attractive, so, you know, whatever.

But it isn’t about them, or “society”, or whatever. It’s simply what I want. It’s always been about what I want. Which is probably why it’s been so frustrating to constantly fail, over and over again.

So I’ve decided to just give up. All this is has done is create a circle of exhaustion and misery over never making any progress. The whole one step forward, two steps back thing feels like some kind of sick joke and frankly, I’m tired of it.

Maybe when (if) I finish college, I can afford a dietician and personal trainer so I’m more responsible to someone other than myself. Then maybe I can get myself onto a cleaner diet and a job where I’m not surrounded by food all the time.

~~~

 

Let’s Talk About Blizzcon

It’s been a week since I was at Blizzcon. Kind of amazing how time flies, no? It’s hard to imagine that on Sunday I was flying back to home from LAX. Of course the fact that I left my iPad on the plane kind of cements the memory in my brain… but let’s not focus on that.

Instead we’re going to talk about the convention itself! I have plenty of “con” experience under my belt. It all started back in 2005 when I attended Celebration III with my brother and father. From there I’ve gone to two Wizard Worlds, four Comic-Cons, and four PAX Easts. So I was certainly curious to see how Blizzcon ranked among these.

In terms of scale, the convention was bigger than Wizard World, but definitely smaller than the rest. The whole thing essentially takes place on the expo hall. Panels, tournaments, signings, food, and booths are all on the same level. There were a few exceptions to the rule, such as the Hearthstone Tavern and the cosplay area which were on the second floor. But aside from that practically everything was in the same room.

IMG_1661I wondered at first how you’d be able to hear the panels over all the noise of everything else going on. Shockingly though, everything went smoothly. The expo hall was large enough that everything seemed to have enough space. The panels were small and in little corners so they weren’t interrupted by the noise of the crowd going back and forth throughout the hall.

Since Blizzcon is a single company convention, they don’t exactly have a lot of products to market. At the moment Blizzard has six different franchises and with the exception of Diablo, all of them were at the forefront of the show. That said, it also didn’t mean there were a ton of “absolutely must be there” panels. Apparently everything interesting that’s going to be announced at Blizzcon is going to happen at the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony is basically the keynote at a PAX or a Hall H presentation at Comic-Con. It’s at Blizzcon’s biggest stage. President Mike Morhaime came out on stage and basically spent an hour going over all the announcements for Blizzard’s products. Now here and there other people would come out on stage, depending on the game, but he was more or less our host for the next hour.

IMG_1668The announcements were mostly sub par. None my friends and I are fans of World of Warcraft so all of the Legion announcements flew right over our heads. Though the cinematic they showed was well done. The StarCraft 2 stuff was basically a reminder that the Tuesday after the show was Legacy of the Void’s release date. Diablo was completely absent from the opening ceremony – and most of the convention itself actually. The bigger announcements came in Blizzard’s latter three products.

My friends and I had spent the prior days speculating about what kind of Hearthstone announcements Blizzard would make. An expansion seemed to be the most obvious thing, but we had hoped for more. Maybe a second player mode? They’d just experimented with co-op Tavern Brawls so that didn’t seem too far-fetched. Maybe some kind of tournament mode? Maybe something more than the obvious…?

Nope. The League of Explorers expansion was all they announced. New cards are fun and all but the game has been stale these past few months. Frankly the latest expansion they put out – The Grand Tournament – did very little to change things. So I have to wonder if Blizzard pushing this out so soon is an act of desperation to keep the game fresh.

The other stuff was for Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. I don’t really play Heroes but the idea of a hero played by two players seems interesting. I just hope he doesn’t turn out to be more of a gimmick than anything else. Overwatch was revealed to be a paid product, with a $60 edition having extra skins and some other goodies. The fact that Tracer is going to be added to Heroes of the Storm gets me interested in a game that has otherwise bored me.

IMG_1673And that was… kind of it. It seemed like a lackluster year for the most part. I wonder if next year will hold stronger announcements since Overwatch will be released and Legion will have been out by then as well.

The rest of the convention was spent meandering around the expo hall. There were a few non-Blizzard booths, mostly hardware manufactures. Nvidia, Corsair, Gigabyte, and more were there. They’d have cosplayers at photobooths and give away dumb little buttons or pins. The other areas were booths for each of Blizzard’s games, signing areas, and theaters for the panels.

I spent most of my time getting my poster signed. Over the course of two days I got about forty signatures or so. It looks pretty awesome and once I get it framed I’ll be sure to post it here for all to see in its glory. I also played the first level of the Hearthstone expansion. It’s out now, so the only interesting thing was seeing some of the cards in action.

IMG_1709I went to some panels as well. They were all voice acting focused. I was surprised by the amount of people I recognized there. Many of them were there for World of Warcraft, so I certainly knew them from other projects outside of Blizzard.

At the end of each panel there were signings. These were run a bit differently than usual. You actually got time to talk with each actor for a few minutes before going on to the next person. This was great when you were up there, but if you were in line then you’d be waiting quite awhile for your turn. In some cases, the actors would have to leave before you got up there. This was frustrating when I knew that if people had been just a bit faster then I could have gotten there. Anyways, the actors were great and a ton of fun to meet. That’s the important part.

I also got to play Overwatch. Even though the line was huge, it only took about forty-five minutes to an hour to get through the whole thing (normally I would have guessed it around three/four hours). This might be because it’s a team game and you can get six people on one team. It just so happens we were a group of six, which meant we got paired together.

Blizzard also had all of the PCs networked with voice chat so we could all hear each other during the games (some more than others, apparently two of us had mics that were off originally. Oops!). But because we all knew each other and had a general sense of how to play the game, we destroyed the other team. I might write up some more in depth impressions of the game later, but after playing it I really wished that I had beta access!

Overall the show was a blast. The only complaint I have is that Blizzard doesn’t list their panelists on their program. There’s no way of knowing who will show up until the panel starts. It’s a little frustrating because I’d like to know where I should spend my time beforehand. So hopefully that will change with Blizzcons down the year.

The Road to Blizzcon: Part 3

Starting tomorrow we will be exactly one week away from me flying Virgin Airlines to the city of Los Angeles. My phone was gracious enough to remind of this fact by telling me that I need to start packing. I’m glad I had the foresight in April to set a phone reminder for this time.

So now I’m basically putting together a list of things that need to be brought. It’s rounding out at about 25. Which sounds like a lot, but when you list everything you’d usually bring separately it’s easy to reach that number. I just want to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Of course the end of my trip is filled with Blizzcon. The schedule opened up some time last week and while the panels aren’t all that exciting, that’s not what I was looking for. Instead I’m all about the expo hall. There’s gonna be merch and hopefully some autographs and plenty of parties and meetups. That’s really what I’m there for.

In the mean time I’m trying to figure out what 3DS game I should bring on my trip…. >_> So far most of the suggestions have resulted in: Fire Emblem. Which I’ve been considering for a while now…. buuuuut I still want something else. I really wish a Pokemon game had been released this year. I would have jumped on a grenade to get that game.

Anyways, the point being is that I’m super excited for this trip. The past couple of months have been rough. Taking 18 credits of college courses is not easy, apparently. So this trip has been a light at the end of the tunnel for me. I just need to make it through seven more days.

…I can do this.

The Road to Blizzcon: Part 2

So here we are again. Blizzcon is still roughly five months away. But a few weeks ago we made another crucial step forward. Plane tickets have been bought! I’ll be staying in LA for a whole week with my wonderful friends Micah & Lizzy. It’ll be amazing and probably the highlight of the year.

So all that’s left to do is gather money for the amount of food I’ll consume and the amount of merch I’ll buy. Which both are probably more than they should be.

I’ll also be trying to put together a costume for the convention. Both Lizzy and I are planning on cosplaying the convention. Of course I can’t tell you what as, because that would ruin the surprise! Also it’ll prevent me from being super embarrassed when it doesn’t come together. But fingers crossed that’s not the case.

Until part 3!

The Road to Blizzcon: Part 1

Today marks a fascinating occasion. For the first time ever, I will be attending Blizzcon! I really enjoy about half of Blizzard’s games. I don’t care for WoW too much (MMOs just aren’t my thing) and I really didn’t like Diablo.

But I’m a HUGE fan of StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone. I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to Heroes of the Storm. It’s an okay game, but it’s still too easy for my tastes. Then there’s Overwatch, which looks extremely exciting. My hope is that by the time I head to Blizzcon it will have been in beta for some time.

Either way, it’s worth going just to see a bunch of StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone stuff. Plus my friends and I are thinking about cosplaying? Blizzcon is one of those places – I think – where you just have to. But none of us have ever done it before so God only knows what’ll happen with that.

Anyways, today begins the road to Blizzcon. The road will mostly be paved with Hearthstone practice and working in order to pay for the rest of the trip. Maybe if I’m feeling frosty I’ll put in some SC2 practice throughout the summer. But I’m not sure Blizzcon has a public SC2 tournament? I honestly don’t know.

So much to see, so much to do! Only seven months to go!

Goals

I’m not really one for resolutions. They’re just funny things that people say because they wish they would actually accomplish them. Instead I’m just going to set a few goals for the year, most to do with entertainment. My hope is that they’ll expand my horizons a bit.

I want to watch at least 50 new movies this year.

I want to finish at least 30 new books.

I want to finish at least 20 new games.

These various things can be of any size, but I’ll be keeping track of what I’m watching, reading, and playing. Then I’ll do a recap at the end of the year of everything I watched/read/played.

I did this one year before, so I hope I can do it again.

Regeneration: Take Two

So I’ve been gone for roughly a month – maybe a bit longer because I don’t recall the exact date of my last post (I’m too lazy to look it up). It’s been a wild time since then. A lot has happened, so it’s best we start from the beginning and maybe writing about this stuff will help with processing it.

It all started when I got my wisdom teeth taken out. I’m 23, so the dentist said now would be a good time because my body will heal easier. They’d been causing me a lot of pain recently so I figured why not? What’s the worst that could happen?

Well the surgery went fine. I woke up pretty hazy and in a great deal of pain but my god is modern medicine amazing. I had some great pills to take the pain and even better pills to take for the soreness in my jaw and teeth. I had a minor case of the hiccups, but the dentist said that would be normal.

What wasn’t normal was the fact that I still had them the day after… and the day after that… and so on until the Tuesday after getting my teeth removed. Imagine if you will, trying to sleep only to be woken up at four in the morning by your body hiccuping. It’s a nightmare. It got so bad at one point that I just stopped trying to sleep and instead played Risk of Rain at 5 in the morning.

Eventually I went back to the doctor and he told me that according to an anesthesiologist, there’s are edge cases of people being allergic to the anesthesia. In my case, the reaction led to a four day long bout of the hiccups. I also learned that because of the way my pain medication interacts with my body, it was prolonging the reaction. So I had to go off those. Eventually things settled down though and I’ve been fine ever. But holy hell was it terrible for those few days.

Then Wednesday rolls around. I believe I’ve blogged about my girlfriend before on here. I honestly can’t remember, but the short version is that we’d been together about 13 months at this point. She’d gone away to school though and so the last time I’d seen her was the day before classes started (end of August roughly). I was planning on visiting her the upcoming weekend.

So we’re texting and stuff and I’m just getting the sense that she’s not really interested in talking to me. That’s fine, I get wanting space, so why not just tell me? Don’t make it frustrating for both of us. So I decide to say something. The rest of our conversation on text is a bit of a blur, I honestly don’t remember how we got from that point to me asking her “are you still interested in me?”

Her response? “idk. I was going to talk you about it tonight when we skyped.” (We’d skype every night for an hour or so, just to see each other’s faces.

(Ugh, writing all this out is making me angry lol)

Naturally, I’m not going to wait several more hours before we can discuss this “face to face” so I just call her on the phone. Long story short (again), it lasts about fifteen minutes and by the end of it we’re no longer together. She claims to have fallen out of love with me. Which personally, makes little sense. I cannot possibly understand how you wake up one morning and just no longer feel anything for the person you’ve spent a year with. She said she’d felt this way for a few weeks actually. In which my mind exploded. We’d told each other we’d always come to each other and talk out our problems and I held my end of that. If there was ever anything that was bothering me, I’d talk to her about it. Yet when it would have mattered most, she decided to just hold it in. That more than anything pisses me off.

But she was four years younger than me, so perhaps the mistake was mine for dating someone much younger than me. There’s doubtless some immaturity still there. But whatever, it’s over now.

I’m trying to move on. Losing such a big piece of your life causes changes in your personality and though I haven’t noticed any myself (I doubt I ever will), my family has said something about it. And apparently they’re good changes, so I’ll take what I can get. Hopefully I’ll be able to build on all this and come out a better – and perhaps somewhat different – person.

I’ve got a ton of freelancing jobs now. So many that now I can support myself fully on them without having to work at that dreadful daycare center I was working at before. It’s kind of nice to be making a decent amount of money off of my writing.

There’s school too and that’s keeping my busy. Though the long days are driving me a little nuts. I already can’t wait for break.

And of course…. there’s always DOTA 2. Forever by my side, I can always take a break and hop on with my friend in order to clear the mind.

There’s other stuff in the works and definitely more things I want to write about. Alongside my freelancing I desperately want to get back into blogging. I want to write up a review of Rogue Legacy and my impressions of Destiny. There’s also an amazing board game I played that I can’t wait to talk about.

All in due time though! If you’ve managed to read this far down though, I’d like to give you a reward:

Risk of Rain Review (Late Night Ramblings)

For those who don’t know, I had my wisdom teeth taken out yesterday. The pain hasn’t been too bad. I have amazing pills for that sort of thing. What’s driving me to the brink of madness is the constant hiccups. Did anyone here have oral surgery and get constant hiccups for a few days? It’s madness and it’s keeping me awake. They’re the reason I’m posting this review right now, because I can’t sleep. So I figured I’d use my time for something.

Anyways, enjoy!

Risk of Rain is at its core, a rogue like. The object of the game is to complete all the levels without dying. Along the way you’ll amass gold, collect items, and simply try not to die. Like all of other rogue-likes, Risk of Rain has randomized levels. The levels will not be created the same way each time you enter them. Sometimes you might even get a completely different level. This only plays into Risk of Rain’s difficulty.

Speaking of difficulty, there are several ways that Risk of Rain is unique in the rogue-like genre. The largest of which is a clock that counts your play time. The more you play, the harder the difficulty gets. That is until about forty-one minutes or so when the game starts laughing at you. Enemies will get harder, items will become more expensive, and the game will just start spawning bosses are regular enemies. All in all it isn’t a “pleasant” experience.

What it is though, is rewarding. Risk of Rain is a profoundly rewarding experience when you have a great run. When you’ve collected a bunch of items and enemies simply fall before you no matter how powerful they are. It’s amazing and it’s what kept me going back to Risk of Rain even after I completed it.

Another unique aspect of Risk of Rain is its class system. Before you enter the main game you’ll select from several classes. Though in the beginning all you have access to is one, as you play along you’ll unlock many of the others. Each of them has four abilities, similar to a MOBA hero/champion. Getting the hang of each class’s abilities takes some time but they’re all strong in their own way. I thought for the longest time that the Commando and Bandit were the strongest classes, yet I beat the game with the Engineer. It’s about your playstyle and figuring out what works best.

And if you’re in the mood for even more insanity, invite a friend over and you guys can play co-op. If you thought the main game was insane with hundreds of enemies piling on you, maybe a partner would be helpful. Overall Risk of Rain is an extremely difficult, yet rewarding game that’s absolutely worth a purchase.

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