Monthly Archives: July 2010

A quick update

It’s getting late, so I’ll have to make this quick.

I have to be up at 4:30am to go to work, but I needed to write a quick entry after seeing the trailer to the new Julia Roberts film “Eat Pray Love”.  Basically, Eat Pray Love looks like what I’m doing here, except I’m on a budget and have no plans to travel around the world to find myself.  I’ve got Vegas, with it’s mass of neuroses and varied b.s. to deal with, so it should be enough to get me on my way.

Ok, so in the vein of Eat Pray Love, there have been some changes since the ex left.  For those of you who have been here, well, this will shock you:

It’s ok Kathy, you can fall over and freak out.  It’s so clean!  Which for me, is nothing short of a miracle being that my apartment didn’t look like this when the ex lived here.  There are many people who can attest to that.

Ok, so that’s one step out of the way, I have a clean environment.

Step two in changing your life usually comes with a really big shake-up.  I got my first on-the-clock job last Thursday.  It’s the first time in 10 years I’ve had a job that has steadily paid me versus spotty contracts and no steady work.

Now, it’s not the most glamorous job.  I’m working for a internet service provider.  That’s all I am at liberty to say because as so many news articles have said, the sure way to lose your job is by blogging about it.

Let’s give you the short version…I work in a warehouse now.  Yes, I know, hush, it’s not paying tribute to my skills, this I already know and my back and feet screaming out in pain every second has not failed to remind me that I’m not really where I should be.  It’s getting to work at 6am, working on technology, and NO I don’t work at a computer, it’s manual labor.  The big thing is that it’s a paycheck, and the fact that it is a paycheck when times are ones where paychecks don’t come to just anyone, it’s the sentiment of every single person who works in that warehouse with me; all they’re doing is working for the end of the week when the checks come out, they could care less and often hate what they’re doing.

The staff I work with is a reflection of the economy, there’s a woman with a PhD in Education that is sitting and doing paperwork, there is a journalism major who specialized in PR that I sat and built boxes with today. Are you feeling me yet?  That warehouse is filled with lost souls that are sweltering in a building that’s cooled by standing fans and swamp coolers that doesn’t even go below 95 degrees in the heat of the day.  But we’re all there for one reason, it’s a paycheck.

But, you can’t rebuild your life on air and the generosity of your ex.  It’s not possible.  Especially when my ex’s  arrogant and promiscuous habits have caught him square in the ass and the well is drying up fast.  It’s as my mother said when I was 7 and shoving me at the wall of the pool to teach me to swim, she said, “There’s the wall.  I’m right here with you, now you either sink or swim, it’s your choice,” then she politely threw me at the wall.  The thing is, I gave it all my might and I swam and that’s exactly what I have to do now.

I don’t particularly care for my job.  I think it’s beneath my skills.  Those of you who know me are going “Yeah, duh”, but the thing of it is, in this economy, you can’t say no to a job even if it’s the most mundane thing you’ve ever done in your life.

Funny thing about it all, it’s the exact same amount of money I was making when I met my ex 10 years ago.  Talk about sad.  However, it’s like I said last time, I’m in the exact same place I was before I met my ex.  This means I can only go up from here.

No amount of prayer is going to get me out of my mess.  Only I can.  There is no sucking the marrow out of life just yet, it’s taking one step forward and seeing where I end up.  Love, well, that’s something that I’m really not looking for.  When it’s time, love will find me.  It’s the only thing I’m sure of right now.

But, I’ve gotta go.  It’s late and 4:30am comes early.  I might not like what I’m doing one iota, but it’s a paycheck and it’s the first one I’ll have made from punching a clock in 10 years.  This is a good thing, don’t you think?

One hell of a day, a.k.a. turning a corner.

Yesterday, I regaled you with what was going to happen today.

  1. Daddy’s knee replacement surgery.
  2. The ex coming to finally pick up his car.
Yes, both happened as planned.  But, you know me, I wouldn’t title it “One hell of a day” for no reason.
Let’s set it up…
Last night, I was wound up tighter than a top.  I was so amped with worry that instead of going to bed as I had planned, I worked on the finishing touches of the major clean up on the apartment.  I had already finished all my laundry and had it all organized by color, pressed and hanging in my closet.  The refrigerator was cleaned out, the dishes were done and in the dishwasher.  Every last detail of the mundane chores was done, and the day before I had gone to battle with my shredder after seeing the news clip on CNN about how police had to cut off the roof of a house in Illinois because a woman died in her very cluttered house.
Ok, we know that my ex was Mr. Clutter.  There is no other way to describe it.  I have a feeling had he not run off with the Bassett Hound Faced Bitch, I would have probably met a similar fate as the lady in Illinois.  Death by clutter.  To me, that’s hell.  What got me the worst is that the folks in Illinois were entering and exiting the house via tunnels through the debris which is very similar to my ex mother-in-law’s house.
After seeing the clip on CNN, I freaked.  I shuddered, got one hell of a case of the crawlies and then proceeded to go on a Joan Crawford “Mommie Dearest” kind of cleaning binge.  And oh did I clean.  First bill of fare was shredding all sorts of old documents left behind by the ex that had no further use.  In the process, I jammed up my shredder so bad that I sat for two hours unjamming the thing with a wire coat hanger (don’t worry, it was unplugged).  I shredded, sorted and took out so many garbage bags full of garbage and clutter that I lost count along the way.  In total, over the last year that I’ve been blogging about recovering from the ex’s departure, I’ve taken out close to fifty, that’s right, “five zero” garbage bags filled with nothing but clutter and garbage that the ex had filled the apartment with.  Feeling me yet?
So anyhow, because I was worried sick about my dad going into surgery, followed by worrying about what kind of idiot stunt the ex was going to pull when he got here that I couldn’t sleep.  There was no way, I was just too damn wired for my own good.  I cleaned all the way through the night, watching 2am-7am wave to me as they passed by while I was bleaching kitchen countertops, organizing, dusting, rearranging, redecorating and throwing things away, filling three more garbage bags in the process.  As I watched the sun come up, I knew I was on borrowed time.  I finally became completely exhausted and by 7am, when I knew my father was going to call me at 8, I fell into my bed and after battling my racing mind for a few minutes, I fell asleep.  An hour later, the phone rang, it was Dad.  I told him that I only had fallen asleep and hour previous and when he asked why, I explained how worried I was about him and what the ex was going to do.  He told me everything was going to be ok and that I needed to not worry so much.  Since I was awake, I got up, made a pot of coffee (ironic isn’t it being that I was on a collision course with a pothole?), took my levothyroxine with some cranberry juice and slowly began to wake up again after my hour nap.  
After I gained a bit of coherency, I showered, got myself all made up, dressed and got into the car.  I was responsible for taking Daddy to the hospital and I was NOT going to blow it.  It was my job to look after Daddy today and by gods, nothing was going to keep me from it.  This is Dad we’re talking about.  He’s #1 priority when he needs me.  I don’t care if I’ve got limbs hanging on by a thread, if it’s for Dad, it’s getting done.
I picked up my Dad, drove him to the hospital and while he and I were waiting for him to be taken back to the prep room, Mom joined us.  She sat and visited with us until Dad was called back to the prep area and she and I were made to wait another ten minutes until we could get back to visit with him after they had marked his leg and put in his IV’s.
When Shannon, the knee surgeon’s assistant, called us, Mom and I were on our feet quicker than anything you’ve ever seen and we walked back to find Dad in the hospital bed, prepped and ready to go into the operating room.  I sat on the side of the bed and held Daddy’s hand as we waited and the nurses asked him the final questions he needed to answer before going into surgery.  When the anesthesiologist came along, I gave him “the look” which said, “Sucker, my dad better come out of that room in one piece or you and I are going the rounds”, remembering the very large scare we had the last time when they had such a hard time reviving him from the anesthesia he was given.  It was not happening again, and that’s something that Mom, Nan, Dad and I completely agreed on, so Dad had called the anesthesiologist this morning and made him aware of what happened last time and asked him to take steps to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Well, the time came when it was Dad’s time to take center stage in the operating theater.  As they rolled him away, I told my Dad I loved him very much and that I’d see him later, all the while thinking, “please, let him come out ok…”
After Mom and I said our goodbyes and wishing Dad luck, we headed out of the prep area to find Nan driving up.  She missed out on seeing him in prep, but we filled her in on what was happening.  At that point, the phone rang.  It was my agent over at the employment agency.  She had a job for me that was long term and would probably turn into a permanent position.  Being in the situation I’m in, I jumped at the job.  Truth told in this economy, if you get offered a job, you don’t stop, pass go or collect $200, you say yes immediately.  Well, sure enough, all I had to do was go get a drug test and I have a job waiting for me at 6am tomorrow morning.  The workday is 6am to 2:30pm.  The pay is decent, but I’m not discussing it here.  There are just some things that aren’t everyone’s business, so I hope you’ll understand.
So, with Dad in surgery, a new job waiting for me, all that was left for this day was to deal with the ex.  I waited for hours for him to call, only for him to finally call at 3pm, after I had done my drug test for the job and picked up the directions, details and such for my assignment through my temp agency.  After taking the paperwork that said I had completed my drug test (ironically done on the 10th anniversary of my sobriety) back to the temp agency, I grabbed some food and headed home to wait for the ex to show up.
The day wasn’t turning out to be so bad that far, and I figured with the good fortune of the ex showing up to pick up his car, it was also a great excuse to get rid of the last remnants of him in the apartment.  On Wednesday evening, I took all of the things he left behind like old dishes, his wok, his Central American sculptures, his down coat, his ski pants, his rollerblades, ice skates, old running shoes, clothes, sheets, you name it, it all went into garbage bags and carried down to our storage area for him to take with him.  
When he finally arrived this afternoon, the smell of canine urine was overwhelming.  And I always felt guilty because I was a smoker…NOOOOOOO…the smell of dog piss on clothing is far worse than any cigarette, ever. Taken aback by the stench of the Bassett’s five Chihuahua’s on him, we had a very “friendly” visit.  I teased him a bit here and there, nothing vicious or venom laced.  Truth told, I’m just grateful I have a car and a roof over my head, so I didn’t want to rock the boat, but I did sneak in a crack about how he could leave me for a bitch with the face of a Bassett Hound.  He looked none too pleased when I said that, so I backed down and just let him be. 
During our visit, I thanked him for all of the things he taught me, in which I relayed a tale about a WoW guildie who was battling all sorts of venereal diseases his girlfriend brought home after she screwed around on him; and the fact that KP and I had spent night after night playing nursemaid to our fellow guildies’ broken heart and shattered nerves.  The three of us had become our own “recovering from relationship disaster” support group.  I told the ex that I had learned that screwing around on someone is absolutely unforgivable and that it gave me a firmer resolve when it came to dealing with my family and my friends.  In which case betrayal of any friend or family member was beyond forgiveness and on par with the worst thing you could ever do to someone you supposedly “love”.  I also let him know that I took the very horrible situation he put me in to and made it into a positive.  That it taught me to keep moving forward, one very painful step at a time, that I needed to find my own way, and that ironically, I am now at the same point I was at before I married him.  His presence in my life was a painful pothole-filled detour on the road, and that I wouldn’t be grateful for what I have now had I not gone through it, learning to take the nutritional value from the experience and use it to become a better person who will never betray her friends or family.   I looked the ex dead in the eye and I told him, “I want you to look me in the eye when I say this, because it’s the gods to honest truth, I don’t date.  I don’t screw around, I don’t go out.  The only people I see in person are people that you know personally which amounts to my parents, my sister and her boyfriend.  The only social contact I have is through my online worlds.  I talk to my friends on the phone that are far away and that is it.  I don’t leave the house for a social reason unless it is with family.  On a piece of paper somewhere, it says I’m still married to you, so until I sign divorce papers, that’s the way it’s going to stay.”  He had nothing to say to that, except a very ashamed look.  After our talk, we proceeded to jump start his car and go through boxes that he needed to take with him.
Ironically, all the ex and his new girlfriend do is fight.  She called in the middle of him collecting his things and I could hear her screaming at him on the other end of the line.  Poor bastard.  I can only say that “you reap what you sow” and well, when it came to yelling at him, I never once did over the course of the seven years I was living with the man.  It was always, “I have to yell at you now, but before I do, here are the reasons why…”  I’d calmly explain what was wrong, ask him if it were possible to fix or remedy the situation, hug him and get back onto other business.  In seven years I think we had a total of two fights.  Only one of them ever had a single voice raised.  But there he was, taking the phone call very calmly, excusing himself outside, just as he did when he talked to her when he lived here, and all I could do to not laugh my fool head off was go to the furthest point away from him inside the apartment and do my impression of a yipping dog, whining and barking.  It was hysterical to say the least.  Hey, you lie down with dogs…what do you get?  FLEAS.  He made his bed, now he’s got to lie in it, sorry to say, it’s flea infested.
After the phone call with the Bassett, he began to hurry, I helped and remained cheerful as we took things down to the storage area.  Along the way, I asked him, “Was I so horrible to make you do those things?  Is this my fault?  I always showed interest in every single thing you did, but when it came to me, you always said you had no interest whatsoever in what I was doing…that hurt.  I have always done every single thing you’ve ever asked of me, so what did I do so terribly wrong?”  He looked at me, tears springing into his eyes, and said that it wasn’t my fault what had happened, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, that I was beautiful and funny, sexy and smart, and that simply there was something wrong with him and that he didn’t know where he was going to end up.  He cried.  Hard.  At that moment I knew he was more screwed than I’ll ever be.  He dug himself into such a hole that he was looking up to the surface and had realized he had severely screwed up.  He admitted it outright.  He said in plain terms, “I screwed up.”  Would you agree with me that that is a far worse punishment than I could ever give him?
As he was leaving, he gave me a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek and asked if he could see my dad at the hospital.  The smell of dog urine was more than I could withstand, but I just took it as run, realizing that shirts can be washed and sterilized (and believe me, my white t-shirt with the big yellow flower on it WILL be washed alone, several times, before I’ll wear it again.  I had considered incinerating it, but it’d be a loss of a really cute top, so washing it alone will have to do.  I went with the line I had told y’all about yesterday, that we appreciate that he “cares” but given Mom will be right there, it wasn’t a good idea.  With that, I got another dog piss smelling, tear-filled hug, and he got into his car and drove away.
I can very accurately say that outside of a really horrid tablecloth and a serving plate, he is officially out of the apartment with the three foot long fork and spoon running along behind him, trying desperately to get into the car for the ride to Kentucky.  His apartment key and magnetic gate key are now on my kitchen counter.  I can officially say that he’s gone and likely never to return.  More to the point, I know when I leave the apartment and lock my deadbolts, there is no one, and I mean NO ONE coming into my apartment.  I now feel completely safe and I feel like I have complete privacy which, to me, means more than anything in the world.
At that point, it was time to go back to the hospital.  Mom had called while the ex was here.  I missed the call.  I called her back as soon as the ex left and Mom let me know that Dad was resting comfortably after surgery and he was just fine, giving me the hospital room number where I could find everyone.  I told her how the ex had asked if he could see Dad.  Expecting several explicatives, I was surprised to hear Dad say, “It’s ok.” Dad relented on his stance, after all, they’d been through this before and they had been pals.  It was then I looked at the counter and let out an explicative.  The ex had left his mail on the counter.  I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, calling the ex, I let him know that he forgot his mail AND that he could, if he chose to, go and see my Dad in the hospital.  The ex sounded thrilled as I hung up the phone, grabbed the mail and headed back to the hospital.
When I found my Dad’s room, I was thrilled to see he looked far better than he did the last time we went through this.  His foot wasn’t very swollen at all and Mom was right by his side, feeding him his dinner and Nan sitting in a chair next to the bed.  Dad is so spoiled, he’s got three nurses who will jump when he asks for anything.  Nan immediately asked about what happened.  In hushed tones, as not to disturb Dad, I told her the tale, even down to the dog impersonation of the Bassett Hound Faced Bitch.  In the middle of the tale, guess who walks in?  The ex.  My mother froze as he walked in.  She, much to my outright amazement, greeted him warmly and even hugged him.  Dad and he spoke for a few minutes and you could see by the uncomfortable look on the ex’s face that he knew he had screwed up royally.  My family was nothing but a class act around him.  Mom, almost in tears with disappointment in my ex, finally left the room.  She held in all she could, then excused herself as the ex asked about how Nan’s chemo was going and visiting with Dad a bit more.  It was at that point that I remembered I had left the ex’s mail in my car, so I excused myself, went down to my car, grabbed the handful of letters, went back upstairs to Dad’s room and handed them over.  At that point, the ex uncomfortably looked at his watch, bid us all farewell and he’s now on his way to Kentucky with a real bitch, plus two dogs.
I kind of feel sorry for the guy.  In one day I conquered a lot of stuff.  Dad got through surgery with flying colors, the ex has been exorcised from my apartment and I got a job.  All with an apology from the ex to put a cherry on top of it all.
Holy shit, what a day, huh?
I finally feel like I’ve turned a corner.  But I found it very ironic how my day went because on Tuesday I had written: 
It’s a long uphill battle coming out of the failures of the past.  It’s something that while you’re doing it doesn’t seem so huge, but little observances of interesting moments along the way that make it worthwhile.  Then one day, poof! You’re back on your feet like nothing bad ever happened to you.”

And poof!  In a single day I’m back where I started, a little worse for ware, but all the wiser.  

Life is pretty amazing, isn’t it?

But the one thing that NONE of us should EVER forget is that life is a process.  It’s always one step at a time, always moving forward.


Signpost ahead…beware of bumps and potholes.

Bump #1:

My dad is going in for knee replacement surgery.

The pothole that follows it:

On the same day, the ex is finally going to be back in town to pick up his car, but not forgetting to bring the Bassett Hound Faced Bitch along for the ride so I can see her stick her head out of the window and watch as her tongue lolls out with the wind in her face as they drive away.

All this is happening to me tomorrow.

I’m edgy.  It can’t be helped.  This is one of those days that I’ve been dreading would come along.  But, I’m going to remember a couple of things:

1.  Don’t have a scalding hot cup of coffee in my hand when I hit the bump.  (a.k.a. Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.)

2.  Focus on the positives and pray to the gods that I can find some sort of nutritional value in it all.

The last time Daddy had his other knee replaced, my ex sat at his bedside and watched over him by the hour.  My father really loved that.  This time around, it’s almost fate that the guy who hurt me the worst in my life would show up on a day that I’m most concerned with the most important man in the world to me; who’s taught me the most about life and who is my pal and someone I admire for his intellect and relaxed attitude.

While we were married, my ex and my father were very close.  They enjoyed beer, football and raw bell peppers while my mother and I were in the kitchen preparing Sunday dinners.  Now, after everything has happened, my father has laid down the law.  It’s katy-bar-the-door where the ex is concerned, because my father stated in no uncertain terms, “that whatever-he-is is no longer a part of this family and he is not welcome around us ever again”.

When I got the e-mail from the ex telling me he was coming into town to pick up his car, it came with the usual list of dubious reasons why he was doing it.  I got some yada-yada about how they’re having their plane tickets paid for by a third party (by the way, I found out, it’s the Bassett’s mother that’s picking up the tab) to pick up a family dog (again with the friggin’ dogs) and pick up his car at the same time and drive them all the way back to Kentucky, stopping to sleep at hotels along the way.  Whatever.  As I recall, I’m the one who drove herself, alone with nothing but sheer will and guts, from Orlando to Vegas.  Almost coast to coast alone.  I didn’t have a dime to my name and I had all about enough money for gas and maybe a snack every 20 hours or so.  I didn’t have a travel companion, it was me, alone with sheer fortitude that got me to where I was destined to go. I had no posh hotel rooms to stay at during the trip, all I had to sleep in was my car seat with a pillow propped up against the car window to rest my head against and my teddy bear on my lap for warmth.   And he has the gall to come to me with some BS excuse for bringing his girlfriend along for the ride and shoving her down my throat again?  Really?  Sometimes the balls on that guy really push me to the breaking point.  But then I realized something…he has to be pretty insecure and scared to have to bring backup with him.  Please, I’ve got nothing to say to him but “here’s your keys, goodbye and have a nice trip”.  Even Nan said that him bringing the girlfriend along was just in bad taste.  Ok, wait, have we not established a hundred times over that the guy is just one big example of bad taste?  Yet it continues.  And I have to face off with it in less than 24 hours.

My father and his knee surgery are another whole enchilada.  He’s sneaking up on 70.  Last time he had his knee replaced, they had a hard time bringing him out of the anesthesia.  I’m worried sick that today at dinner will be the last time I ever talk to my Dad.  Gods, I hope not.  My Dad is awesome on a scale that only a daughter would know.  He’s a brilliant man with so many untold stories, I keep prying for just a peek here and there about his time in the military and all of the little hints he’s given about being in army intelligence that have made me call him “superspy” for a few years now.  He’s a fascinating man that even though he was brought up in a world of cows, chickens, turkeys, horses and all sorts of other farm life, he came out well cultured, with his own brand of humor.  The man laughs like Barney Rubble, but has the bowed legs of Yosemite Sam.  Let’s cap it all off that as he’s reached his silver years, he keeps looking more and more like Gene Hackman.  To say my father means the world to me would be an understatement.  He taught me how to love football and how to sit still during the game and actually be engaged in it.  He taught me how to tap a beer from a keg with little to no foam on the top.  He taught me to never get so caught up in things that you forget what the big picture looks like.  He’s the one I quote day in and day out with “People got the worms, there is always something eating them.”  My father is one in a million.

But, after telling the ex that my father’s surgery was on the same day he was showing up with the Basset Hound Faced Bitch, he told me he was very concerned about my dad.  Oh yeah right, the only thing that guy cares about is money and what people can give him or do for him.  But, when it comes to Dad, I’m at a quandary.  As I said, at one time, they were very close and the ex was very vigilant when it came to my Dad’s care the last time we went through this.  Do I let the ex poke his head in the hospital room to show some sort of support or do I just do what is in my nature to do, which is protect my father at all costs?  I know for certain if Dad sees him, he’ll be none too pleased.  If Mom sees him, lordy, that’s a scene I don’t even want to imagine because I’m almost positive Mom will rip his arms off and beat him mercilessly about the head and shoulders with them.  Even Nan is none too thrilled that the ex will be in town while my dad is laid up in the hospital.  We’ve got so many things to take care of that the last bit of aggravation we need is my pompous, arrogant, pain in the ass ex showing up and pretending like he cares about what’s happening to us, with his new girlfriend in tow.  Bad taste.  The man is just nothing but bad taste.  The part of me who knows my ex tells me that he’ll leave her in the car or as far away from my family as he can get her, but at the same time for him to attempt to show up at all?  Oy veh.  It’s a mess waiting to happen.  I think when the time comes, I’ll just let him know that we’re thankful he “cares”, but it’s not a good idea he go to the hospital to see Dad.  To be honest, I don’t want that flea-infested son-of-a-bitch anywhere near my father.  I don’t want the hospital room contaminated by his energy and filth, so I’ll go the high road and smile through my rage and just make my words kind, gentle and tasteful.  Heaven knows, my ex will look at my family as he always has, down his nose and pitying the poor country folk, that to him, have no class.  Yeah, we’re the ones with no class…riiiiiiight.

*facepalm*

In all, it’s going to be one hell of a day and I’m not looking forward to it.

Feet on the ground

Sometimes, I struggle with what I’m going through.  It’s not the easiest to go from not having a hope in the world to having something to look forward to.

It’s a long uphill battle coming out of the failures of the past.  It’s something that while you’re doing it doesn’t seem so huge, but little observances of interesting moments along the way that make it worthwhile.  Then one day, poof! You’re back on your feet like nothing bad ever happened to you.

I’m going through one of those times now where I kind of feel out of sorts, that no matter what I do at the moment, things just aren’t quite going in the direction that I’d like them to.

It’s odd.  I have always been someone who hits the ground running.  And whether it’s me running into walls or some idiotic thing that I keep being so glad that there is no one really here with me as I stub toes and holler out strings of obscenities as my clumsy nature gets the best of me.  I’m just glad no one is here with a video camera, because I’d assuredly be a laugh riot from the silliness that befalls me day after day.  But, I’m not sure if it’s my clumsiness or what, but I just can’t quite seem to gain traction at the moment.  I don’t know why that is.  I kind of feel lost.

Right now, the apartment is fairly empty.  Just me.  We know this, I’ve covered it how many times now?  But, it’s coming along because it’s not just me and the empty walls now.  Somehow, I found an unlikely roommate called hope.  As I’m clumsily getting through every day life, I keep running into my hopes as I’m doing things around my living space.  It’s the Lichtenstein on my bedroom wall of “The Drowning Girl”, the polka dotted sheets on my bed, the peaceful ocean blue of my comforter along with the rest of the unique furnishings I bought a year ago to wash away the remnants of the trauma I had faced.  Now, those things are a part of my life every day.  They’re things that make me smile when I see them and it reminds me to have hope.   I think in moments like these, when things are out of focus, they give you a chance to reassess everything, taking it all in and going through the mental checklist on the “what do I want” list to see if you’ve made any progress.

Have I made any progress?  Right now it doesn’t feel like it.  But, I’m guessing that a year from now, I’ll look back at this moment and realize my feet were on the ground and I was gaining traction but didn’t know it yet.

But, I keep thinking, maybe it’s the darkness before the dawn.  Maybe my next great adventure is just biding its time until it lands squarely in my lap and sets my problem-solving skills on fire to get through it all.  I don’t know really.  But I’m patient.  I can wait.  I’ve spent 38 years on this planet, I don’t think another day, week or year is going to make much difference at this point.  Patience is all I really have.  I can’t get in a hurry to get into the next adventure, that only brings problems and unneeded drama.  No, patience is best right now.

My mother says that there are a lot of people who are going through just what I am.  They’ve hit the year mark after their spouse has hit the door and they’re feeling just as I am now.  Battling nights filled with anxiety, dreading the next ill thing that comes their way through the courtesy of their exes.  There are moments where I’m grateful that another girl was brought in to replace me so that way I didn’t have to deal with all of the little things that drove me so crazy during the course of the seven years I was married.  I often sit back with a voice in my head that says, ‘let her deal with the mess’.  Other days, I realize I really don’t miss my ex at all anymore, but I miss a person around that does things for me to laugh at, roll my eyes over or just sigh in annoyance, relief or joy.  It’s the human element I miss.  Otherwise, I’ve been oddly enjoying not seeing all the things that I used to be blamed for on a daily basis, realizing that the apartment is much cleaner without him here.  Realizing that he was the slob, I wasn’t.

Sometimes I sit amazed at the cleanliness of my bottle of laundry detergent.  Oh, go ahead laugh.  It’s funny.  When the ex lived here, I always thought it so peculiar going into the laundry room and seeing the bottle of laundry detergent, with the little spigot on the end, caked over with dried on laundry detergent.  I was always mystified how it got that way.  Without fail, I’d take the bottle down off the shelf, put it in the sink and clean it all up.  After which, I would place it back upon the shelf and over the course of a few weeks, it would end up the same way again…with the evidence of his sloppy laundry habits showing up as a dotted line along the top of the washer in the form of carelessly flung droplets of laundry detergent.  Yesterday, as I was doing a quick load of laundry, I noticed something.  The spigot on the front of the bottle, it was clean as a whistle and it’s stayed like that for the last fifteen months.  I stood there and just looked at it for a moment and said aloud, “Well, how friggin’ hard is it to keep something that supposed to be cleaning your clothes actually clean?  Well, lookee there…I guess it’s not.”  Oh and I could tell repeat stories for every single bottle of hand soap in the house and the mysterious puddles that fifteen months ago would have found the nook behind every single sink faucet filled with water because someone just had to slosh water everywhere when they washed their hands.  By some miracle or freak of nature, all of those things have vanished.

But, there was one more remarkable thing that I’ve noticed that has vanished in the last fifteen months…the toilets don’t stop up anymore.  He used to blame it on me.  Well, guess I know now that it’s definitely not my fault what happened in THAT category.  One fact that can’t be denied is that the apartment is different and it’s for the sole reason that I’m the one who lives here and my messes aren’t half bad.  Then again, do we ever think our own messes are so horrible?  I’m betting not.

Sometimes I think it takes a whole lot of time to be grateful for our own good habits.  Yesterday, I wrote a piece on bad habits.  Today it’s time for observing the good ones.   It’s the really positive ones where you know that you’re stepping in the right direction, even though it may not feel like it at the moment.

Alas, a new day has come, let’s find out what this one has to offer.  It’s time for hope to wake up and bump into me once again.  I’ve got my feet on the ground and I’m moving forward.

Habits

Have you ever noticed that one thing you do day in and day out that’d you’d love to never do again, but it’s a habit that you’ve gotten into and just can’t quite seem to shake?

My thing is staying up late.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  Usually, I’m up to the wee hours playing WoW or watching TV or reading or just staring at the four walls.  For some reason when the sun goes down, I get more energy.  It’s strange.

Even as a child, my mother always called me a night owl.  I was born at 8:40 in the evening, so I guess my first exposure to life on this planet were the peaceful nights of the west Texas desert.

I’ve always loved the evenings.  I’ve spent countless hours sitting next to the window in my office listening to the peaceful sounds of the sprinklers watering the grass below my apartment, or listening to the warm and gentle breezes sweep over the desert after the sun sets.  I guess it’s what I love about living in Las Vegas the most.  It’s the fact that after the sun goes down and the heat wanes, it’s quite beautiful.  There’s no sticky humidity in the air, it’s just nice.

Another reason that I think I’m more of an evening person is that I love sunsets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sunrises too, but I have more affinity for the beautiful golds and purples that surround the mountains with serenity as the sun gently bids them good night. The depth of the field of vision as you look into the distance and see long shadows grow over everything.  To me, it’s just peaceful.

But, day after day, I find myself staying up far too late for my own good.  I think it’s because I love the quiet time of the evening, where there’s no cars with their screeching tires or honking horns, no loud noises, it’s all just silent.

In an interview a while back, done for the Actors Studio, Kiefer Sutherland was asked what his favorite sound was.  His answer was the sound of a guitar.  Mine is the sound of silence.  I love it when things are quiet, peaceful and serene.  It’s like when people ask me my favorite color.  In all truth, looking at my wardrobe, you can see every color imaginable because I can’t bring myself to pick a favorite out of the 2 million or so visible shades of color out there.  I usually go with saying that my favorites are black and white because they are symbolic of light, it’s absence and presence.

I guess that’s part of the reason I love the evenings so much.  It’s the absence of the light we all yearn to live in, but to see it’s absence is to appreciate the times when you do have the sun on your face and feel it’s warmth wash over you like a loving embrace.

Stars.  That’s another reason I love nighttime.  To go out onto my balcony and look out and see the stars, desperately trying to make out a constellation amongst the light pollution.  Sometimes I think about hopping into my Prius and driving out to Red Rock Canyon just to take time to look at the Milky Way and understand how small I really am in the really big picture.  Out in the universe there are billions upon billions of stars, galaxies and other celestial phenomenon, then here I am on planet earth with my life that’s so tiny in the overall scheme, it makes me realize that the problems I have aren’t all that big, and that everything, like the universe, still keeps growing and changing.

But, I think staying up late is the worst of my habits.  I just can’t quite seem to lay my head down on a pillow like all of the other reasonable people out there who look at the night as a time where they go to dream just because the sun goes down.

Whether it be in the desert where the creepy crawlies come out of their shelters to enjoy the cool desert air or the flowers that would rather bloom in the light of the moon, there are unique creatures everywhere who find solace in the moonlight.  I find the night so comforting because I don’t look at it as a day dying, but as a whole other entity come to life in the shade of the universe.  But while everyone else is dreaming, that’s when I’m the most creative and where most of my really great funny stuff comes from as I analyze the day that I’ve had.  But, how can I have funny without getting into the sunlight, interacting with the world and finding what nutritional value is out there that isn’t possible to see by the light of the moon?

But then there is the other part.  No flowery words or sentences can push away the fact that I’m kind of sad looking at the fact that I’m sleeping alone.  I think that’s the big part that keeps me out of my bedroom at night.  I usually keep myself up to the point of exhaustion so that when my head does finally hit the pillow, I’m asleep shortly after.  There are many nights where I’ve gone to bed just like everyone else, but only to find myself staring at the ceiling, watching the ceiling fan slowly turn while my mind races through everything in my life.  My mom is the first one to say, “Take a sleeping pill”, but I don’t want to deny myself the dreams and comfort of REM sleep that allows my mind to work everything out.  But, getting there is hard most nights, so I usually just push myself to exhaustion, knowing that my mind won’t race, it will just fall into the land of dreams.

But last night, I took some initiative.  I thought of me staying up as a bad habit and took steps to rectify it.  Truth told, it wasn’t easy.  I took a hot shower, relaxed myself by pushing away all of the stressors in my life by reading a bit, then when I felt my mind was adequately relaxed, I turned off the light and after a few minutes of deep relaxing breathing, I finally found myself fast asleep.

I set my alarm for 6am this morning so I could enjoy the day.  I have enough love and respect for the night that I figured that the day didn’t need to be wasted by me sleeping through it.  That I should enjoy the light for a change and by doing so, I could live in the light and enjoy it’s unique qualities as well, seeing the things right in front of me that are there to enjoy and savor.

Anyhow, I’ve got a big day ahead.  There is lots of stuff to do and before night comes and brings me back to another battle against my bad habit, so I figure I better get out there and live.

It’s the old saying about how you can’t break a habit unless you’re aware of it and take steps to change.  Well, I took a step in the right direction.  Let’s see how it goes.

One step at a time, always moving forward.

Living with people who love online worlds…

For a long time, this has been a topic I’ve been dying to cover.  Yep, with the rise of so much technology around us, I’m almost positive we all know someone that is either hooked into World of Warcraft, Uru, Second Life or any of the rest of the Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOG’s) that are on the web.  We can’t forget to mention the millions of Facebookers who love nothing more than to sit and play Farmville or Mafia Wars, even down to Bejewelled.  One thing is certain, in one way or another, whether it is through a cell phone app or computer, we’re all plugged in to an online game.

Historically, all of this started with chat rooms and MUD’s (multi-user dungeons).  The thought of a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons players hovering around a monitor anxiously anticipating the results of the moves they had made via green or amber type reminds me of how I played football via text on my old Apple IIe in the same way.  Either way, it wasn’t the most fun you could have, so it’s no wonder technology has advanced to keep us interested in the games we’re playing.

I remember that my playtime on my Apple IIe was never very long.  Instead of the enduring the green type displayed on my monitor, I could go over to my small bedroom television, turn it on and play my Atari 2600 by the hour.  My favorite from back then?  Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari, and oh, looking back at it, the graphics were bad.

 

It all started with bitmaps.

Another game I loved from back then was Pitfall.

Can you hear the Tarzan call sound effects?
But there were only so many vines you could swing from, backs of crocodile heads to jump on, scorpions to avoid, ladders to climb, and various other things to jump over.  It was the same screen over and over again.  After dying to a fire or falling into a tar pit for the fifteen-bajillionth time, I’d find myself bored again and switching cartridges to find something else to become bored with.  But that was the extent of home video game entertainment back in the 80’s and it was cutting edge at the time.  Cutting edge or not, it never held attention for very long.

Yep, it wasn’t easy back in the days of bitmaps to sit by the hour.  Yes, you could definitely spend hours doing it, but at one point or another you always shut it off because let’s face it, it wasn’t very immersive.  Back then, there was only so much you could do with a video game that only had a joystick or a paddle as it’s controller and eventually, you’d either beat it or become bored with it.  Finally, when we had amused ourselves enough, it would sit and collect dust while we found something more exciting to do.

Now, let’s fast forward to thirty years later.  Instead of the same screen over and over again, or descriptive type on the screen, we have something far more engrossing than what we once did.  Enter the online world.

Instead of this:

Atari 2600 Pac-Man
Ye grand old days of Pac-Man on the Atari 2600

We now have this:

or this:

Isn’t it funny how far we’ve come?

The point is, now, in video game culture, there are a multitude of immersive environments that give a sense of realism to what we are playing.  Yes, it’s all still pixels on a screen, but in comparison to the days of the old Atari 2600’s and ColecoVision consoles, even back to the archaic lines of text in a MUD, it’s something completely different.   It’s a whole new world and people are lining up by the millions to explore the plethora of new environments spawned from the imaginations of game designers.

Trust me when I say that when someone has grown up in a world where video games were only a quarter (25 cents) for three lives, the prospect of having unlimited lives or the inability to die at all, but if your avatar does die, the fact that you can resurrect and keep going has a pretty strong appeal.  The game never ends, it just keeps going and in turn it has allowed us to sit longer, become more engrossed and engaged in what we’re doing.  We’re not getting bored anymore doing the same thing over and over again because the days of those types of games are long gone.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a console gamer.  Closest I come to a console video game is my Wii that I do my yoga with every day.  That’s the extent of my console gaming.  I tried playing games on my Wii, but, I became bored with it, much like I did with my Atari 2600 and my Apple IIe back in the 80’s.  No, the juice now is with my computer.  All seven hundred and fifty gigabytes of hard drive space, quad core processor, and six gigs of RAM that make everything I ask it to do run like silk, even though it’s now two years old.   When a computer runs as smooth as mine does, it’s comparable to sitting behind the wheel of a high performance sports car, enjoying the incredible power in your hands.  It makes the archaic text football game I played on my Apple IIe back in the 80’s look like I was playing with blocks.  Now my game time is spent in immersive worlds that have text on the screen yes, but it’s not telling me the action that is happening to my character, instead, it’s conversation between me and other players.

We’ve all heard of the proverbial sports widow, whether they are football, basketball, baseball, hockey, you name the sport, there have always been sports widows.  With the advent of online worlds, there is a whole new wave of widows coming to the forefront.  Yep that’s right, like watching a game on television, we’ve got a whole new set of folks who have no interest in online games and hence, they watch their spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or relative plug away by the hour leveling toons, solving puzzles and spending time adventuring with people in distant cities connected to them via the internet, much to their neglect and chagrin.

Now, as anyone will tell you, when you have a great toy, you’re not very likely to put it down.   With the advent of social worlds like WoW or Second Life, well, we’ve come upon a whole new set of widows that would rather see our computers go up in flames or see our subscriptions cancelled rather than hear another word about our gaming adventures.  They don’t care if we just hit 80 or downed the Lich King, they don’t care what new clothes we designed and put on to our avatars.  To them, if it all went away, they’d be happy, just like the football widow who breathes a sigh of relief when the season comes to an end.

However, what ever happened to showing interest in what your partner does?  Now, I’ll be the first to say I envy all of the couples who engage in their recreational activities together whether it be hiking, watching sports, going to the movies, playing video games or the list of things a couple can do together.  It’s always fun to see them enjoying themselves and sharing their adventures, increasing the enjoyment of their chosen activities because they do them as a couple.

Enter the diametrically opposed couples.  The one who loves to watch TV versus the one who wants to go hiking.  The recluse versus the socialite, the gamer versus the non-gamer.  In WoW, where I spend the most time, we have a phrase for the non-gaming spouse who loves nothing more than to repeat ad nauseum the fact they hate our chosen form of entertainment.  It’s called spousal aggro.  If you don’t know what aggro is…aggro comes from the word aggravate…get it?  It’s the flak we take from the non-gamers around us when they don’t understand what we’re doing and/or prefer that we didn’t do it, then interrupt us while we are in the middle of heavy in-game action.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that with online worlds, there comes a certain point where each and every one of us who play in them need to recognize the fact we have to put them down.  I’ll go the point that some people take their gaming far too seriously, to the point of addiction.  I remember seeing a video on You Tube of a child throwing a tantrum and destroying his bedroom after his mother cancelled his World of Warcraft subscription. Ok, that’s a bad thing.  If he was to the point he couldn’t survive without plugging in to his online world, he needed to stop.  He got too caught up.  He needed some time off the computer if his online world meant more to him than the real world.

A lot of the online world widows I know of don’t really understand why gamers play.  In fairly violent worlds such as World of Warcraft, it serves as a great stress reliever.  Think of it this way, some people, like my friend Jeff, work in call centers all day long; they get called rotten names, they’re blamed for things that aren’t their fault, day in and day out.  Instead of taking all of that negativity into themselves or lashing out at the people around them, they relax by killing a few monsters, achieving a personal best or vanquishing a bad guy made of pixels.  Personally, I think that’s a pretty constructive use for a video game.  It also gives a great ego boost as well when you’re praised for the good things you’ve done while in a team environment such as a dungeon or a raid.  Even when people are brought low by something as horrible as a death in the family, a relative getting cancer or in the midst of a divorce, that small amount of time, that you might believe is so huge, is really a comfort and distraction to them so they can better cope with the ills that life has dealt them.

However the most important fact above all is this: we all need to recognize the fact that online worlds, while they are an escape, are just there for their nutritional value as entertainment, they are not a substitute for real life and they most certainly shouldn’t be used to mask a more serious underlying problem. Life has to be dealt with, problems can’t be solved if you avoid them by using a video game as an excuse.

Most reasonable players I know, including myself, are evening gamers, ones who partake in their online world of choice only after all of their ‘real world’ commitments have been covered.  It’s the proverbial den, circa the turn of the 19th century, where men went to relax after dinner for brandy and cigars to share stories of bravado and to decompress from the rigors of society.  It’s a few hours in the evening where we blow off steam, play as a member of a team and enjoy the company of friends.

The conundrum that comes along with living with someone who likes to play in online worlds is that the players really get immersed.   However, there are some things you can do to learn to live better and happier with your family members who enjoy online worlds, giving you a more healthy and fun relationship.

For all of the online world widows out there, I’d like to suggest a few things.  Now before you tell me you’ve tried them all, let’s go through the list of how to get through to your online world engaged other half or relative:

  • Have you made an effort to understand the game or activity they are partaking in?

A lot of times, spousal aggro comes from the fact that the spouse of a gamer really doesn’t understand the game that’s being played.  Whether it is role playing, leveling, puzzle based or first person shooter, each game has a unique appeal that the gamer has come to identify with in some part of the experience.  A good thing to do in that case is to ask why they enjoy the game, what nutritional value they get out of it and find out if there is some sort of mutual point that you could engage them at so that they feel you are genuinely interested in what they are doing.

If the game they are playing holds no interest for you, that’s fine, but you really should take the time to really make an effort (and don’t go half way) to get to know why they’re playing.  Who knows, you may just like it once you understand it better.  Either way you go, you may find out something new about your spouse, partner or relative in the process.

 

  • Have you actually sat down and tried to play the game they are playing?

Take a moment and ask your gamer to let you sit behind the controls of their avatar.  Ask them to show you how to control the character’s movement; have them park you at a test dummy and let you cast some spells or use some abilities.  Feel what it’s like to press the buttons, do some damage and make things go boom. Give the game an honest chance and try to immerse yourself the way your gamer does.

If it’s not fun for you, fine, at least you can say you’ve tried.  But here’s the caveat:  there is a chance your gamer will backseat drive you while you’re driving their toon.  Be patient, they’ve spent hour upon hour perfecting their toon and their play technique.  Listen to them, but if they start driving you nuts, express some boundaries, after all, it’s a miracle you’ve gotten this far.  Allow them to understand how incredibly precious the moment is to you and how much you want to understand what they’re doing and how much you want to understand why the game is so special to them.

In online worlds like World of Warcraft, there is quite a bit of skill that goes into learning how to play the game well.  It’s timing, hand-eye coordination, it’s awareness of the people around you, it’s learning a strategy, and there is usually a lot going on when an end-game raid or player versus player situation happens.  There are lots of mistakes a player can make and it takes a lot of concentration and effort to do things just right.

What is uncommonly known to people who live with end-game raiders is that it is very easy to get into a situation that is frustrating or mentally taxing, especially when a player is learning a new fight.  Their eyes are watching timers, health bars, their spatial relationship to other players, their abilities bars (also known as cast bars), the aggro meter, the damage meter, the foe’s health bar, the foe’s abilities, dodging damage and all the while listening to and communicating with their fellow players.  Now ask yourself if it’s a really good time to give them grief when they’ve got all that on their plate already.

If you think it’s easy, try again.  This isn’t Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 back in 1983. Gaming these days takes more effort than it ever did because it’s even more complex.  It’s not meant to be easy.  If it were, 9 out of 10, we wouldn’t be playing it.  They’re most likely playing for the challenge.

  • Have you asked them questions about their avatars and the game they’re playing?

 Part of the draw of online games is how performance driven we all are in our every day lives.  Think about those who strive for promotions at their jobs, that live by strong ethical codes and so forth. Those folks are probably trying to do the same thing in their chosen online world.  Whether it’s solving a puzzle correctly or attaining that next level, reaching the current-end game content and beating the final boss, there is always some sort of neat new thing that they’ve gotten and are proud of receiving.  Ask them about their avatar.  What’s that weapon they’re carrying? Why do they have a staff instead of a sword?  Why did they choose that shirt over another? Why are they in a specific location? Why are they casting a particular spell or using a particular ability?

  • Be genuinely curious about what they are doing.

There are lots of neat questions you can ask your gamer if you take the time to understand why they play, the conditions of the world they’re playing in and the reasons that they do the things they do with their avatars.  What abilities do they have, what do they find as the coolest part of their avatar?

  • Who does your gamer hang around with in-world?

Another great part of being in online worlds is that they’re social.  Your gamer is spending time with folks who have similar interests and the same hobby.  Odds are, they’ve made a lot of friends, they have guildmates, they have people who reside in the same area in-game as they do.  Ask your gamer who they are.  It’s no harm or foul to be interested in their fellow players.  More than likely, they’ll have more than a few funny anecdotes to share with you.  

Find out more about who your gamer hangs out and plays with and why.  You might even make a new friend as well and get the nutritional value of meeting someone new who shares common interest with your beloved gamer.  It might just reveal something about your gamer that you didn’t know and can be a wonderful jumping off point for new and exciting conversations over dinner or times when they choose not to play.

  • Is it a role-playing world?

Believe it or not, some worlds such as Uru (U-R-U as in “You Are You”) are based around the tenet that the player is (outside of the avatars pixelated appearance) for all intents and purposes, the same person that you’d meet if you met them in real life.  In this aspect, the people, even though they are being represented as a pixelated character, are just as genuine as in the real world.  They represent their personality in the world they play in just as they do in the physical world. 

On the other hand, there are role-playing worlds (World of Warcraft has servers specifically set up just for that purpose), in which your gamer has come up with, through their own imagination, a character that behaves in a way that is completely different from their real lives.  It is a different play style altogether.

If you have a role-player, a great way to understand them is to ask them about their character.  What are their motivations for playing the character in the way they do?  What purpose does it serve in the larger picture and atmosphere of that world?  Odds are, if you didn’t know that your gamer is a role-player and find out that they are, there can be great conversations about their imaginations and their motivations for creating their characters.  How do you find out whether or not your gamer is a role-player?  Ask!  Just the simple question, “is that a role-playing world (or server)?” is a great way to find out.  If they seem bashful about it or if it sets them off, don’t be taken aback by it.  Some people don’t like to share those things, but if you reinforce that you’re only curious, and you’re accepting of the fact they do, odds are they’ll overwhelm you with details.  

  • Don’t push, approach gently.

If your gamer isn’t comfortable talking about their role-playing, don’t push too hard about it.  Ask if you can sit in and watch them play.  Overall, for anyone who lives with a gamer, it’s time well spent to sit and watch your gamer and be amazed by their skill and imagination.

  • It’s a two-way street.

    Ok, so now you’ve swallowed your hatred for online worlds and taken the time to show positive interest in your gamer and why they play.  You’ve even sat behind the controls and been mystified by how incredibly your gamer handles their avatar.  Now it’s time for the gamer to do the same for you.  As we’ve covered, spending time with your gamer can provide you new insight into who they are and it is only fair that they spend an equal amount of time with your interests as they do their game.  It shouldn’t be a tough sell.

 

  • Expect initial resistance

If you have a resistant gamer, you should take the time to find out what their in-game schedule is like and plan around it.  Yes, I know it seems to be too giving and structuring your life around the play time, but it really isn’t.  At first, your gamer might be a little hesitant to give up a raid night in lieu of a movie night, especially if it’s a new occurrence.  Give it time.  If you’ve already created a situation where you think they play too much, you need to sit down and talk with your gamer and come to an agreement on relationship priorities and how time should be allotted to give you both equal nutritional value from the situation.

If you both come to an agreement that will give you both equal play time, you’ll find life will be much easier.  Give them time to adjust to a new habit.  However, this does not mean that they can’t meet you half way.  If you allow a set amount of time for their gaming, they can allow a set amount of time for your activities too.  Don’t let them get away with not meeting you half way.  Relationships filled with nutritional value are also filled with a lot of give and take.  Be equal.  Don’t give too much and don’t take too much.   Most of all, don’t yell or scream when things don’t go exactly as planned.  Give them lots of reasons to turn off the computer and spend time with you.  It’s only fair that if you have made the effort to understand your gamer, they can do the same for you.

 

Online worlds are a hobby for most gamers.  They’re fun, they provide a positive outlet for aggression and they can be a great confidence builder.  The biggest thing I guess I can say about living with people who love online worlds is that simply, the real world has more to offer than the digitized one.  Hobbies are great, but so is going outside to throw a Frisbee or taking a trip somewhere with someone you love.

Online world widows, remember, if you take the time to show interest in your gamer’s world, you might find out something interesting.  Please don’t tell them that you don’t have time for what they’re interested in, that hurts, and it’s not exactly fair.  You may not be interested in their game, but you should at least make sure that they are aware that you are interested in them enough so that they’ve got a reason to turn off the game.

For all you gamers out there, make time for the real world.  Show interest in what the non-gaming folks in your life like to do.  If they take the time to understand you, the least you can do is try to understand them.  I know you wish for your flasks and buffs in every day life, but remember, you’ve already got them, they come from within.  All the magic you create in-game is nothing compared to the magic you bring by being around the people who love you in the real world.  Besides, too much time on the machine isn’t good for you.  Go outside!  Enjoy ALL the aspects of your life, not just your virtual one.

And if you don’t believe me, I’ve spent years as an end-game raider. Exactly at the same time I was killing the Lich King, my University GPA was a 3.73. Beat that.

Someone suggested that I write a book…

I can’t believe that someone actually suggested that I write a book because they think I have a lot to say about something important.  Personally, I’ve always viewed my blog as a catch-all for all the neat little things that happen to me, I never thought for a moment that it would be nutritional value for the masses.

But, this morning, after a trip to the employment agency, I ran into a friend.  Yeah, I spoke to them for about an hour and they said something that is still mystifying me, “You know, you really should be published.”  I sat there in denial.  Me?  An author?  Bah.  All I have is this silly blog.  But over the last little while, there have been others that have suggested I give my stories of survival to the local media and see if they’ll run a few pieces.  I’m still out on it though.  I’m not quite sure.

Now I’ll be the first one to tell you, I love getting feedback on my writing.  I love it when I hear I’ve hit a point on target, if I make someone laugh or whathaveyou.  But me?  An author?  I don’t know.  The only part that really bothers me about it all is that books are usually fairly thick.  I’m not sure if I have quite enough yet to be bound up and shipped to a bookseller.

Then, there’s the whole thing of “if I was asked to write a book what do I write about?”  Now this may seem funny to you, but seriously, I’d have to stick to one set piece of subject matter, right?  I don’t know if I’d write about online worlds and how to live with someone who enjoys them, or if I write about recovering from abandonment, or the very funny stories that just go along with life like Bill Bryson does.  Either way I cut it, yeah, I’ve got lots to say, but for me to focus on just ONE topic…ooh, challenging.  And I’d definitely need an editor, my punctuation sucks.

But, over the last couple of days, I’ve been contemplating making a fan page on Facebook for my blog.  Yes, I know it’s kind of shamelessly promoting myself, and I’m not really like that, but I made a conscious decision after I spoke to my friend that said, “Why not?”  What’s the worse that could happen?  I would be the only fan of my blog?   Yeah, that could happen, but, what if it didn’t?  Ooh.  Now that’s something scary, me actually being accepted?  No no, I’d be a mass of Sally Field-isms going “you like me?  Really?” as in a state of disbelief.

However, I did take another thought about it.  And let’s just go out on some ludicrous limb that says there is someone out there that would like to hear my take on something that’s happened to them?  Hey, it could happen…

The fan page also serves another unique purpose.  Not everyone gets my full profile when they look me up on Facebook.  I only limit access to all the juicy information I have up to people I really know.  Think of it more as me wanting to protect myself from the hazards of the internet, along with the fact that there are some people I really don’t want on my list of friends on my personal page.  Call me elitist all you want, but I like my private page to stay just that, private and away from prying eyes or predators.

No, the fan page is something completely different.  I went and created a brand new signature logo for the blog and as you’ll see on the left hand side at the bottom here, there’s even a new neat gadget on my blog so you can give my posts a “like” after you read them.

Bonus of it all is it’s a great way for people to share my writing with their friends!  I know if I see something neat, I’m always one to pass it along to my pals.  You never know, someone might know some literary agent out there and think I’m cool enough to be published!  Oh, wouldn’t that be a shocker!!!

I figure the fan page is a calculated risk.  It can go two ways, up or down, but at the end of the day, I can say I tried something new.  And ya never know, one day, I might just see a book on the shelf in my local bookstore with my name on it.  That’s almost too much to even dream about.

Now, a few folks have picked out a few favorites from this year, one being “Potholes” another “The Fast Lane”, and someone else really loved “Nutritional Value”.  So I am getting some feedback.  But with the fan page, I figure this way, more folks can get into the act and Sophomore it up with me.

The main thing is that the fan page is there for you to ask me questions and in your own way, can help me shape my content to better serve you and me.  Survival stories are ones that everyone has and I’d love nothing more than to have folks share their survival stories with me so we can all have something chocked full of nutritional value that will do all of our spirits good.

So, long live the fan page.  Now let’s hope I get a few fans.  If you’d like, go to the link on the left and hit me up with a like.  Pass the Sophomore around, let’s see if I’m really good enough to have someone give me a job as a writer.

Here’s to hope!

The Woodshed

You know, I was looking for something to write about today, and well, last night provided me plenty.  I have now become thoroughly convinced that some people just need to be taken out behind the woodshed and be taught proper manners.  More succinctly, some people need to just have the common sense knocked BACK into their heads.  If it takes a metaphorical two by four to their backside, then so be it.

I am going to need y’all’s help today, in a really major way.  I need someone to explain to me why people just can’t be grateful for what they have; even more than that, why people just get an incurable case of the worms and can by no stretch of the imagination be happy for other people when something good happens to their friends or acquaintances.

Ok, let’s define some terms.  According to my Daddy’s Dictionary:

Worms – noun – something that bothers someone.

Dummy – adjective – nickname for someone who does something silly, stupid or just plain idiotic.

Eat-up – verb – someone that is consumed with something.

Dumbass – adjective – I think the word is well known enough for you to figure it out.

Now, let’s use them in a sentence…

Some dummy last night got eat-up with the worms when something good happened to me.  Daddy always says, “Some people got the worms, there is always something eating them.”  Now, while this may prove to be a pretty disgusting visual to most folks, I have to say, Daddy’s right.  There are just some people, no matter what, just have to down on other people when they don’t get what they want, or when something good happens to someone other than themselves.  There’s a couple of other words for folks like that, such as spoiled, jealous, and just plain stupid.

Why in heck would anyone want to live their life denying other people good things just because someone got something they wanted before they did?  I really want to know the answer to this!  Now Daddy would just say, “That’s a person that is just eat-up with the dumbass.”  Yes, I know, Daddy’s colorful, but in this case, I figure he’s dead on to rights.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had my moments of having the worms…heck yeah, everyone has them at one point or another.  I’ve been ticked off when I’ve felt left behind, abandoned or the rest of the list of things that annoy me.  But, I don’t let them carry on for too long.  Life’s too short.  I discuss what’s worming me up, then I get over it, it’s pretty easy that way.

But last night, I’m in the raid in World of Warcraft and finally, the last piece of the puzzle I need for my damage set finally drops.  Woot!  I was tickled pink.  After all, Rel is my main, I’ve worked really hard on her and more to the point, she’s been shoulder to shoulder bleeding with a lot of folks, on a very consistent basis, for quite a while now.  It’s not like my sweet little druid doesn’t carry her weight, as a matter of fact, she does two jobs.  She crafts for more than half the folks she’s around every day.  I’ve wiped tears and noses, even a few butts.  I’ve listened while people confide and complain to me.  Hell, I’m Mama Rel!  And as I once told my sweet Guild Master who I just adore to death, “Everyone, at one time or another, comes to see Mama Rel.”

Put succinctly, I’ve put in lots of time and effort to be who I am in my guild.  I’m not even being prideful saying it, it’s just what I do and more to the point, it’s how I contribute to the overall good of the other folks I play with.  Ok, let’s just shorten it up and say one simple phrase that not one single person can argue with…I’m a team player.  I take care of people.  I don’t think of myself first, I think of the big picture and how my little druid fits into it all.  I’ve passed on more gear and other things I’d love to have just for the good of the team.  I’ve given out more crafting materials (which are usually pretty pricey in-game), spent more time helping other people than I do myself.  Now I’m sorry, but I wish there were even more people out there like me and my closest guild pals.   Most folks in WoW I wouldn’t term as overly generous. However, I’d be a horrible person if I didn’t mention that there are a few like me out there, but we’re rare, especially in a raid situation where everyone is clawing for the latest gear, the best upgrades and whathaveyou.  The competition, at times, gets pretty thick.

Now, another set of terminology we need to define is:

Main:  That’s the character you spend the majority of your time on.  It’s also likely to be the one who’s best geared, has the most achievements, etc.  More than likely, it’s your first choice to take into a raid situation.

Alt:  An abbreviation for the word “Alternate”.  It’s another one of your toons that you play a bit, not quite as much as your main, who may be geared or whathaveyou, but it’s not really a main toon you take as a first choice.  Alts come in when you get saved to a particular instance and want to take a different toon along OR when the raid makeup is not optimal and you have a toon that can make a difference as far as raid balance or some other attribute.

Mains always take precedence over alts.  It’s the way it always has been.

Then there are two other phrases:

Main spec – what you spend most of your time doing

Off spec – what you don’t spend a majority of time doing, but you can fill the role if needs be.

Now in my guild, we have mains and we have alts.  Rel is my main, and she’s been that way for three years now.  She was my first girl to 80, and with her wonderful versatility and the fact that she and I fit like hand in glove, she’s always first choice to go somewhere, even if I do have a hunter that is eligible.  Most of my friends enjoy the fact that Rel is there.  She can heal, she can do damage and if something goes terribly wrong, I’ve been known to flip to my tanking mode and pick up a boss to save the day.  Yeah, she’s a Swiss Army Knife and I do love her dearly.  But, being as that I do both jobs (damage and healing) in equal proportion, my guild master and raid leader term me as a person with two main specs.  If I need gear for either set, I can roll on it any time I’d like.  For me, unlike so many others, I don’t have an off spec and it’s something that most folks just don’t understand.  (If you were a druid, you’d know that it’s easily possible to be two main specs because our class is so very versatile.)  If I would have an off spec, it would be a tanking set, but I’ll more than likely never be called on to do that job in a raid setting, so tank gear doesn’t apply to me.

Now, with being a Swiss Army Knife (and in my guild we are rare) and showing up almost every raid night like clockwork, always prepared and ready to go when it’s time, I enjoy a pretty posh seat in the raid.  Well, it’s not really posh, it’s more the James Brown “hardest working gal in the raid” kind of posh.  If they need damage, I do damage, if they need heals, I heal.  If my class leader is suffering from burn out and doesn’t want to heal anymore, they slide me into his spot and I politely heal for him so he can have more fun in the raid…

Are you feeling me on this yet?  Do I sound like someone who would deny anyone anything?  If you said, “No”, you would be correct!  I don’t deny most folks much.

But, here we go…you’re going to love this one.

Last night, as I said earlier, the last piece of damage gear I needed dropped.  Yep, Deathbringer’s Will is the name of it.  It’s a neat little trinket that shifts me into all sorts of different forms with all sorts of different bonuses that help me do more damage.  I’ve been waiting for it, seen it drop twice and never got to lay paw one on the thing.  Actually, the first time I dropped, I didn’t roll on it purposefully so our big damage guys could have it first.  Team player, remember?  So finally, last night, it drops.  Now, you have to understand, I was healing last night.  That’s right, I was a tree doling out healing assignments and keeping people alive.  But being as that I’m two main specs, when it comes to gear, I always ask my raid leader first whether I can roll on something that’s not my form for the evening.  Every single time I’ve asked my raid leader, he just replies with a “go ahead” or “yes” or “just roll” because he knows what I’m going through.  He also knows that I have to keep my gear sets balanced so that I can do any job he asks me to at any moment.

I usually go by the tenet, “If I’m a tree, I roll on tree gear.  If I’m a cat, I roll on cat gear.”  Now when the whole raid of twenty-five people are gearing up in a brand new instance and new tier of gear, that works really good.  It allows for me to give away (very intentionally) a chance for gear to the rest of the people in my armor class and keep it really smooth and even.  Unlike the majority of them, who are working on a single set of gear, I’m having to gear up two sets simultaneously which becomes quite a tightrope to walk without being called a loot whore.  Yeah, gearing Rel up is close on to a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on most people.  It’s keeping a balance between two specs because at any moment, I could have to switch jobs.  You go half ass in a situation like that and you’re not only hurting yourself, but the team as well.  Have I said yet that it’s not easy being me?  It’s not.  But, we’re getting to the point that most of the fights are on farm and almost everyone is completely geared up.  Outside of a few trinkets, rings or neck pieces, we’re all pretty much good to go into the next expansion.  It’s just little upgrades here and there.

So, Deathbringer’s Will drops and the rolls start to fly.  Loot rules are always one main spec item, one tier item per night.  I usually stick to that like glue, because in my situation, you can’t ask for more than that because most people don’t understand my situation.  Well, I came in third on the rolls.  The first two got thrown out because they had already received a piece of gear for the night, so the trinket dropped into my bags.  I was ecstatic.  It was the final piece to the puzzle, I wouldn’t have to worry about gear any more on Rel if I could just land that sucker.  My healing gear is complete, all that was missing was that one little thing to make me truly a force to be reckoned with in any role I was placed in.

But here is the part where some dummy needed to be taken out behind the woodshed.

We move on from the boss that dropped the trinket I won.  It seems as while the rest of us were clearing trash, someone who was in the raid on their alt, who I’ve been more than tolerant with in the past and even very kind and sweet to, spent a considerable amount of time railing behind my back to a friend of his about the fact I had won the trinket instead of him, to the point of screaming and yelling.  Apparently me winning something I’ve been waiting for, just as long as everyone else, wasn’t ok with him and it was so wrong that I had won something I could use on my main toon instead of his alt.

Just as we’re starting the next boss fight, the corner of my screen lights up with a message from someone I don’t even know, telling me that the trinket was useless to me, that I wouldn’t be using it half the time, along with some other explicatives demeaning me, and that I should give the item I won away to the guy who’s throwing a childish fit about it.    Let’s not forget that the person behind the alt that ranted and raved to their friend, even to the point of swearing my toon’s name, has that same exact trinket on his main toon.  Now, would you not go with me for a second and say that was the outright greediest thing you’ve ever heard?  If not the rudest?  No, I’ve only bled night after night and sacrificed for the folks around me on my main.  I’ve gone and done things for that rude individual’s benefit time and time again, taking Rel along for things I had absolutely no reason to go do, other than just being polite and supportive.  Now tell me I didn’t have the right to get just a little steamed.  At that point, it was katy-bar-the-door.  I immediately got on the stick with my guild master and let him know what happened.  It didn’t take long before that greedy so-and-so was apologizing his fingers off.  Then that sorry individual comes to me and says he was so mad I won it he had to go smoke two cigarettes to get over it, and that’s AFTER he’s ranted to his friend about it.  Lucky for me, my GM had my back.  So did my raid leader.  Yeah, you could tell the second I told my GM what happened, it went over like a lead balloon because it wasn’t too long before that selfish young man was apologizing right, left and center.

See, that’s what I don’t get.  First off, this is a VIDEO GAME we’re talking about, it’s not life or death.  It’s not like the world is going to end because the pixelized toon you’re playing didn’t get a silly piece of loot!  I’m not jealous or mad when the rolls don’t go my way.  Again, it’s a video game.  Who cares?  If I want something and the chips don’t fall in my direction, I give a ‘woot!’ and ‘grats’ to the people who win.  I don’t go to my friends and swear up and down and all sorts of whathaveyou.  If I don’t get something, you know what, I’m pretty damn good at making due with what I’ve got.  I don’t ask other people to carry me or give me things.  Everything I have, I’ve earned, and truth be told, several times over.  If it’s my time to get something, it’ll happen, but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t.

It’s people like that who get mad when someone they know buys their lifelong dream car, then they purposefully grind their keys into the paint to ruin it.  Or it’s the folks who do something stupid like punch a wall and put a hole in the drywall over a glass of spilled milk.

I mean, come on, help me understand this!  I want to understand why selfish, arrogant people think it’s ok to ruin someone else’s moment of joy.  I want to understand why in hell people think it’s ok that their needs come before everyone else’s; or why people who don’t bring any nutritional value to the table think that they can take what they want and leave nothing for the rest of us.

Maybe it’s just what Daddy says, that some people have the worms.

I’m just really hurt.  Some stranger came and belittled me just because someone thought they deserved something more than I did, but it’s someone who is flaky at best, who shows up drunk, who has every sort of detestable quality and sheerly watches his mouth and behaves himself to some sort of degree because he knows I’m watching and listening.

You know, he did apologize up and down for what his friend whispered me.  But you know, he didn’t apologize one whit for being a bonehead.

I let him off with a simple warning, “This was a family matter.  You took it outside the family.  Next time, if you have a problem with me or something I’m involved in, you come talk to me first.”

I guess I’m too nice to people.  I should have let that kid have it with both barrels.  But when I told KP what had happened, he just came out and slapped the icing on the cake, “That’s your main, that’s his alt, if he doesn’t like it, tough shit”, then proceeded to take the greedy, selfish kid out behind the woodshed to tell him just that.

Have I said how much I adore KP today?  Yeah, I do.  He’s my sweetie.

Some people get it, some people don’t.

Over the last week or so, I’ve seen some stories in major news media about the things I’ve been ranting about here.  First out of the gate was the “Summer of Blah Blockbusters” over at CNN.com that actually repeated what I had written about in my posts called “Prequels” and “The 80’s Reboot”.  I’m just grateful that someone else feels like I do!
Then the cherry was placed on the cake when the LA Times went to town on how pathetic our movie-going experience has become with Variety’s supposed list of Oscar Nominees
Ah yes, as you can guess, I’ve been spending quite the bit of time over on the LATimes.com entertainment section.  I like their staff, it’s filled with really good writers.  Most of all, they really share my point of view, which is even better!  After most of the articles I read, I keep sitting here going, “No shit, ya think?” Yeah, and like the writers at the L.A. Times,  I’m becoming less and less impressed with the movie going choices that we’re being given.  As my friend Larry said, “Who can afford to go?”  Amen Larry, amen.
Now, I’ll be the first to say, there are some actors I like (reference my top 5 list), and for my friend Martie’s sake, I’ll add in Gerald Butler because I agree with Martie, he is good eye candy.  Those guys can fairly efficiently get me into a theater seat. 
But there are actors I just don’t like.  Please don’t ask me to, because they’re guys I just look at and give a resounding UGH.  It’s guys like Leonardo DiCaprio (takes himself far too seriously), Edward Norton (he just seems slimy to me), Tom Cruise (for the 15 million ways he’s so f-‘ed up), Jude Law (don’t gasp, he’s cute but way too overplayed) and Shia LeBouf (how many ways can you play a neurotic teenager?  And let’s not forget the bomb of “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” where he was hoping to get passed the iconic fedora.  Don’t even think it boy, hands off the hat.)
But then there’s Mel.  Oy veh.  That guy is one I used to easily slap down my $7.75 to go see, but now, it doesn’t look like he’ll be seeing the light of day, much less the illumination of a film projector, any time soon.
As of late, the LA Times has been all over Mel Gibson.  The guy made a mess, and I don’t think there is any human way possible that he can dig himself out this time.  Common sense dictates that there are just some words you just don’t say and well, Mel has said them all.  Even his agency has dropped him.  It’s the phrase, and you know it, so say it with me…
“Make your words kind, gentle and tasteful, for one day, you may be forced to eat them.”

And oh, is Mel having to step up to the table.  Part of me feels really sorry for the guy, but only to a point.  I really do like him as an actor.  My favorite role he ever did was as Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movies.  They’re funny and he portrayed Martin as a really fragile hearted guy who just wanted to be loved, but beware if you piss him off.  I’m like that!  I resonated with it!  I know plenty of girls who wanted to be swept away in all of Riggs’ passion.  I cheered when they paired Lorna (Rene Russo) with Martin.  It was a great paring that the studios brought back for “Ransom”.  And for a while, everyone loved the guy.  But with the utterance of the very VERY naughty word, I’m wondering what Danny Glover might be thinking right around now.  How could any of us have known that Riggs was so close to the real Mel?
But, as the Sophomore in all of us knows, all good things must come to an end and let’s face it, Mel’s not aging well.  You know, I really do want to like him, but his mouth is making it VERY hard for me to do so!  With his latest rants so publicly displayed, I can’t really respect him anymore because his mouth has uttered the phrases that go directly against what I stand for, which is tolerance, kindness and a whole lot of patience.  When it comes to those three things, Mel just doesn’t have it.  That any guy thinks it’s ok to hit a girl?  Ok, that just puts Mel on the unspeakables list and Hollywood sure hasn’t missed a beat on that one.
Now, I’m one to argue that his personal life and views have really nothing to do with the characters he creates on screen or behind the camera.  It’s just like you or me, we have things we like, we have things we dislike, but when we talk about things we don’t like or have not so tasteful words for things we disdain, we all have the common sense to not get them overheard or plastered all over mainstream media.  But, that’s the catch.  We’re not famous, we’re just ordinary Joe’s; what we say behind the scenes effectively stays there until someone opens their trap and violates our trust.  More importantly, most of us rational humans won’t succumb to our primal urge to hit people, even if they *do* deserve it.  It’s called walking away.  Sad thing is, some people just can’t.
But being tabloid fodder should be nothing new to someone famous.  After all, there are people like Paris Hilton *shudder* who do things to purposefully BE tabloid fodder and use it for the purpose of BECOMING famous.  Now, the Paris Hilton’s, the Jersey Shore crew and the like, all get placed in the mental trash can as soon as I see it.  I’ve got no room and no use for it.  There’s really no nutritional value in it, junk food or not.  I don’t eat the wrappers off my junk food, why should we be forced to in the media?
But back to Mel.  I really want to shake my fists at him and go “MEL!  You’re making it impossible for us to like you!  Shut UP!  Don’t speak!  Maybe never again in a public venue!  Do your talking via the screen, pal! You’re divorced.  Do what the rest of us divorceés do and lay low for a while!”  Oh no, what did he do?  As soon as he got divorced, he got a hold of a supermodel.  *facepalm* Not a genius thing to do when you’re die-hard Catholic and under the very scrutinizing eye of the media!  If ya wanted a nun Mel, you should have gone into the priesthood and given your life to God and his strict “no touching” policy.  Mel’s girlfriend was pretty AND she was going to red carpet events with him, in which it kind of goes without saying that you need to look your very best and very fashionable. It’s a part of the territory.  Jeez!  No, Mel didn’t think about how his first wife was feeling back when he was young and dashing, where even films like “L.A. Story” with Steve Martin had people imagining that they were in bed with Mel Gibson.  Did he not, for a moment, go out onto a limb and think that his wife might think HE was whoring himself out way back when, even going so far as to think that HE was the one who needed a punch in the mouth?  Dunno…I’ll leave you to speculate on that for a moment.  But ooh, it does hurt when the shoe goes on the other foot, doesn’t it?

We all get mad at our ex’s.  I’ll be the first one to raise my hand and say I’ve had no kind words at one point or another about my ex.  Yes, we all rant and tirade, but we calm down and accept it and it stops after a while.  Mel, however, doesn’t seem like a guy who can just let it go.  I think he may need to sit for a counselling session with KP and learn how to build a bridge and get over it.  We’ve all had messy breakups.  No one is immune from them.  What we do to clean up the mess in the aftermath is what counts.

Well, at least, we can take the nutritional value out of all of this by saying that some people get it, some people don’t; common sense isn’t all that common and well, people are waking up and realizing that the movie factories need to be placing their money on something that will inspire us to go to a theater!
One more note and I’ll wrap it up for the day:  Good luck to those going to Comic-Con. Have a great time, use public transportation when you can and I hope you got a room in the Gas Light District of San Diego.

I really do need to ink a new TJMOC

I just spent some time reading over one of my old essays, “Andy Rooney, Paul Harvey, and Good Old-Fashioned Common Sense”.  I have to say, that has been one of my best to date.  It reminds me that the wonderful point of view piece I wrote (as a critique of drama heaped upon a close friend) was my starting point for podcasting and it began my time as a common sense commentator with the signature phrase, “That’s just me of course”.

For those who grew up with me, I’m sure they’re wondering, “when did SHE grow common sense?”  I didn’t.  It’s time and lessons learned that has given me some sort of horse sense to not step intentionally into potholes or some other sort of mess.

Over time, I’ve written pieces for the podcast that include topics like:

  • Drama.
  • Saying “Thank You”.
  • Remembering the people who work hard to create things you enjoy.
  • Don’t take things for granted.
  • Perseverance.
  • Seeing reflections and the impact you make in and on everything around you.
  • The importance of family and sticking together.
  • Online worlds.
  • Tolerance and being sweet.
  • Common sense.
To be honest, I’ve done so many that I’ve forgotten half of them. Every month for a while, I struggled to put together something that was relevant to Uru Live and that still gave an uplifting message.  Truth told, sometimes it’s hard to keep coming up with positives when all you want to do is scream about the negatives because they’ve got you so worn out.
But, thinking about my TJMOC’s, the one thing I’ve tried my hardest to stay true to was the common sense aspects of life.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that common sense isn’t all that common.  Every day I watch some poor dummy shove their head clean up their butt, knowing that just the slightest notion of common sense would have kept their head on straight.  The horrible part about it all, is that in a lot of cases, it’s hysterically funny what happens when someone throws their common sense clean out the window!  Oh come now, you’ve not watched America’s Funniest Home Videos and wondered how they became so funny?  In a lot of cases, it’s because common sense got up and left the building.  It’s true and it’s the truth in it that makes you laugh so hard.  Sometimes I’m convinced that’s where half of my comedic moments come from, if not all of them.
I love common sense.  I do.  I wasn’t born with a lick of it, but now that time has passed and I’ve gained a bit more, I guess you have to be grateful for becoming wiser as you age and realize that you have learned things through your experiences.  I was always book smart.  Nan was the one that was born with all the common sense.  Thank goodness she was around for me, or I’d have ended up in pretty poor shape.
But I need to get back to topic.  The fact that I’m a month overdue for a good nutritional value filled TJMOC.  To be honest, I really don’t know what to say.  Oh, yes, I know, that’s rich coming from someone who blogs like it’s going out of style.  But really, I’ve covered every topic there is to cover when it comes to common sense.  Be sweet, be polite, be grateful, don’t be prideful or arrogant, give more – take less, be understanding, make your words kind, gentle and tasteful…I think I’ve covered it pretty much from head to toe.
I guess I’m just going to have to cover the one topic I’ve been dying to do, and that’s Adventures in Books.  Last semester, my favorite professor took me on a tour de force of the ancient world through literature.  Oh and what a pack of common sense no-no’s went on through that!  I saw characters step on their whatevers in ways that I hadn’t even considered yet.  Most of all, Doc T sure did put us through the paces in classroom discussions on the male/female conundrum. Oy veh.  I had a young man in my class think it was perfectly fine to be disrespectful to women. If you know me, you know full well what I did to that poor kid.  I shut him down seven ways from Sunday before he could even retort.  Doc T had to jump in front of me to make sure I didn’t eat the kid for lunch.  I didn’t make a friend that day, but young people have to learn to kick in what common sense they have when it’s time to do so.  I mean really?  It’s ok for guys to be disrespectful to women?  When did that happen and when did it become acceptable?  Lordy.  I just shook my head, finished the class and went about my business.  But that day still sticks to me and that young man’s reaction to me for the rest of the semester told the tale.  He had no use for me whatsoever because as another student told me, “They’re afraid of you.”  As well they should be, because I’ve got no use for snot nosed young people who haven’t quite learned what Mr. Gibbs had taped to his podium in my 11th grade English class, “A man at 18 thinks he knows more than he will learn between the ages of 8 and 81.”  There are just some young folks that need to learn to respect their elders, even more-so the rest of the human race.  It was a day I could swear up and down that common sense wasn’t all that common.  Sad really.
However, the best part of it all in my World Lit class last semester was the fact that it was lessons and adventures through books.  All together now!  *swoon*  Yes, it was a triumph!  Well, to me it was.  Ok, to give you the relevance and really juicy nutritional value out of it, you need just for a moment to suspend your disbelief and step into the world of the Myst Universe.  Oh yes, here we go again!
In the Myst Universe, all traveling is done through books.  Oh, go ahead you Mysteriacs, cheer for goodness sakes!  That’s right.  When you play ANY of the Myst games, you’re always confronted by books.  When you’re faced with a book in the Myst Universe, all you have to do is open it and put your hand on the page.  As soon as your hand touches the book, the adventure begins!  The books can take you to far fetched worlds where physics just don’t seem to apply, in others, physics plays more of a role than you’d like it to.  There are exotic locales and things of every shape, size, color, you name it!  It’s a wonder for the eyes and more importantly, a real test for the intellect. It’s a whole universe of puzzles that will test you until you’ll want to collapse.  It’s filled with unique characters with every sort of character flaw and whether you like it or not, you become a character in it as well.  But, it all starts with a book.
In World Literature, I found myself just as I did when I stood in front of my very first book stand in Myst.  I was confronted with the almost 3000 pages of the Longman Anthology of World Literature (subtitled, The Ancient World, The Medieval Era and the Early Modern Period).  It looked daunting.  But, I kind of put my Myst know-how to work for me.  It was going to take a stretch of imagination, but if I put my hand on the page and read the story, I’d be transported into the time and place it was depicting.  Over the course of the semester, I found myself covered in the dust of ancient Sumeria for The Epic of Gilgamesh, then on to the sun-drenched Mediterranean for plays by Aristotle, Euripides and Sophocles, even stopping for a few weeks to deal with that horrid man Odysseus and his Odyssey. We stopped briefly to sample the exotic fare in India and Japan, then it was on to rain-soaked ancient London for plays by Shakespeare.  
Each story was unique in it’s own way, it mirrored so much of the Myst Reader that I felt like I had read the stories before. It turned a semester that I thought would be treacherous into something that I enjoyed.  It was the common sense of taking all of my previous experiences and letting them be further illuminated by the lessons being offered to me through those wonderful pieces of literature.  Yes, there were a few things I already knew, but there were a lot of things I didn’t.  But, just like in the Myst Universe, I wouldn’t have learned anything new if I hadn’t had the courage to step up, place my hand on the book and be transported to a whole new world.
The Myst Universe, if given the chance and the right mindset, can really help in the real world.  It taught me to have the common sense to be grateful for any adventure that comes my way.  All it takes is putting your hand on the page.  Books are a wonderful thing, aren’t they?
But then again, that’s just me of course.