Saturday, December 15, 2012

Me and my nose...

Lately, to relax my brain and let everything in the world go, I've been having fun with Pinterest.  I mean, when everyone is flat broke, nothing looks appealing and my illnesses are kicking my butt, I had to find something, right?  I've been especially triggered lately and no amount of comfort anyone can give can get me over my sense of alienation, abandonment and rejection.  It's really taken a turn for the worse and I don't particularly like it.

On grand occasion over the last 30 years, my left ear and left side of my head have exploded in sharp, dagger-like pain. When it has happened, I usually just write it off and wait for it to go away and it usually does.  But for the last several months I have been dealing with an earache from hell. It has felt like an ice pick has been shoved into my eardrum and my neck along with the whole left side of my skull feeling like they're in a vice.  Overall, I have been wondering why my sinuses have been giving me the dickens on the left side of my face for years...well, a visit to the student health center illuminated it for me.

I have a deviated septum.  According to my doctor, from a cosmetic standpoint I'm perfectly symmetrical on the surface.  However, underneath the surface it's a completely different story. It seems as mine tilts completely to the right, leaving my right side wide open and my left barely functioning.  He looked at me and said, "That's not natural and doesn't come from just a bonk on the nose, you must've taken a Mack Truck sized punch." My jaw clenched shut and I just shrugged.  Nothing would come out. I don't talk about those things.

He went onto explain that because of the severity of my deviated septum, the Eustachian tube on my left side has a lot of pressure built up in it and it was making my eardrum swell outwards, hence the pain and headaches.  I always wondered why my left ear squeaked when I would equalize when I went diving at the aquarium to clean the exhibits...no small wonder.  Well, he gave me some Flonase with strict instructions to do both sides of my nose once a day to relieve the pressure and hopefully get me fairly straightened out.

After I walked out of the Health and Wellness Center on campus and headed out to my car, anxiety overwhelmed me and tears just started falling.  I know exactly who is responsible for my deviated septum.  I don't like thinking about the day and I don't want to remember it at all, but C-PTSD doesn't let you.  As you can guess, it has triggered a whole new round of intrusive memories, feelings of alienation and kicked my avoidance behaviors through the roof.  The slightest noise and I flinch.  If an arm moves in my direction I tense up, flinch and duck. Rounds and rounds of "you may be pretty on the outside but you're ugly on the inside", "you're worthless" and other insults fly at me through intrusive memories and worse, when I go to sleep at night I can see the hand that came with such power at my face that I literally sit up in the bed crying because I'm so terrified.  I get short of breath and my body is covered in sweat.  It's a miserable way to live. I love how someone defined "Borderline" personality disorder the other day, they said,"Essentially, BPD is what happens to a person when you spend years mentally and physically torturing them from early childhood. The torture consists at least in withholding all physical and verbal expressions of love, and often it there is the active component of telling the child that he is hated and worthless. Broken promises, emotional neglect and verbal abuse." They likened it to 'having unhealed third degree burns on the emotional system.' That description is so dead-on to the mark, I can't even begin to relay how.

Ace has taken command for right now.  He's been really patient with me and holding me a lot. It's been a steady diet of Xanax and talking to get me to relax enough to sleep but it's been very hard because every time I close my eyes I can see the event over and over and over and feel the impact of each blow.  I know I'm supposed to be tough and just let it go, but this one is tougher because it's 30 years of latent memories that I'm battling. It's like jumping onto PTSD airlines and being stuck in the middle of a hurricane, turbulence galore with nothing but hypersensitive shocks.  So, I'm up again late, trying to get my heart to stop pounding in my chest and my tears to stop falling while I learn how to cope.  If you'd like to see my handiwork that has been tonight's fun on Pinterest where I've been trying to pin my pain away, be my guest.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dun, Dun, Dun...midterms

Do you know in the entire time I've been going to UNLV, I think this is the ONLY semester where I've actually had mid-term exams?  Yeah, if I recall correctly, I've not had a mid-term two weeks like this ever.  This sucks!

Mid-terms started with the wonders of Virtual Worlds.  Ok, you guys can just shut up with the "That's not fair..." business.  Yes, I took my mid-term in 447, "Survey of Virtual Worlds and Social Media."  Hey, I'm learning Unity!  Okay, yeah...I've had to play Second Life *barf*, those who know me know how I disdain that relic, but then I got to play WoW, and Minecraft...and oh, let's see...URU!!!!!  Oh yeah baby!  Two weeks talking about my homeworld and my people!  Cavern Blood Runs Deep with Uru Pride!  (Doesn't hurt I'm in the textbook...)

Next was my mid-term in Mass Media and American Politics...that was, okay....

After that was my Philosophy 102 exam...critical thinking....hmmm, wonder when I do that....hmmm....

But, the killer is on Monday.  Com 216 - Survey of Communications.  Plato, Aristotle, Burke, and a whole bunch of guys who make up the Humanities Tradition in communications.  I actually really enjoyed the lectures in this part of the semester, so with some reading and a whole ton of studying, only to take breaks to focus on World Concept, I should be good and busy until at least Monday afternoon at 4pm.

Speaking of...I have got to go out to vote...get it done early so that the campaign people stop calling my house.  At this point, I don't care if the candidate is blue, red, indigo, purple or damn aquamarine...if those doodah's don't stop knocking at the door and ringing my phone, something nasty is going to happen to all those mud slingers, and I won't be responsible for my actions.  Last week a republican vote solicitor wore my front door up his nose because he pulled the ultimate faux-pas...he woke me up.  Each and every one of you just cringed...I saw it!  I know you know what happened to that poor fella, he got eaten, first because he did the one thing you KNOW not to do, which is wake me up with startling or loud noises (moron just had to pound on the door), the second was just on general principle because he was a republican and touting a known town charlatan.  He actually had the audacity to shout through my door, "Won't you even consider a republican for a local race?"  Sweeties, the guy could have been made out of money and hopping up and down like a jackrabbit with two golden rabbit's feet, but if I am rudely woken up, all bets are off and you're lucky if you get away with skin still attached.   When I first wake up, you better pray to whatever diety you worship that I'm in a good mood, otherwise, run for the hills because I have all of the tone, manner and demeanor of a large, lumbering, ticked off 1000lb Eurasian Brown Bear!  Ever seen the size of the paws on those guys?  Ask someone who has rudely woken me up, they can tell you from first hand experience. LOL!

But I had a laugh yesterday as 216 was wrapping up...Do you know that one of my professors purposefully watches the Weather Channel all during September-November?  He does it because it's the only channel that DOESN'T show political ads.

I'm curious about winter storms, aren't you???  Maybe they'll put on some nature show so I might spot a bear while I'm studying and working.

Have a great rest of your week!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Comeback, Part II

I am starting to believe that comeback stories are, for the most part, a collection of moments that detail great momentum forward, followed by small setbacks.  Okay, sometimes tall, handsome, blue-eyed setbacks.  Nonetheless, it's an ever constant need to put one foot in front of the other.  At times like this I fall back huge to my Myst teachings, Rand Miller as Atrus always makes me feel better at times like this, especially when I can watch the ending of  Myst IV: Revelation:



I can't watch that without bawling my fool head off.  On sooooo many levels... but the part that is the most important to me is the part where he says, "Endings are just another form of beginning, I guess. And the harder an end is to face, the more hope we bring with us to the next beginning." Welcome to week one of the six-week long epic suck. I remember when my ex hit the door, so do you.  Oh gods, I did not want to do this again, but it comes with the what-should-be reassurance that my heart, however broken it is, still works.  It's capable of giving and it's still capable of going once again through what is sure to be a six-week epic suckfest.  It's going to be six weeks of bone-jarring fun from discovering all of the little little things left behind by Ace and the moments of burying my face in my pillow to keep my neighbors from hearing me cry night after night. It sucks, but it has to be done.  Like Rand says, endings are just another form of beginning, and I get to begin again, tightening down on everything in my life that has been neglected after a year of taking my eye off the ball.  And, just because he's down the road doesn't mean I get the luxury of caving.  I was just standing in the bathroom, looking myself in the mirror telling myself, "We know the first six weeks are going to be hard." It was then that I opened a drawer and found Ace's shaving cream.  What happened next wasn't pretty because I just collapsed next to my bathroom vanity in long sobs.  I'm not pretty all puffy faced, but that's why I've got y'all and my daffy blog, trying to remind myself that hopefully, like Mary says, 'this too shall pass." It's been three and a half days.  I can do this.  I can get up off my rump and tackle things that need tackling. It's like what Marcus Aurelius said, "it's up to you."  Yeah it is up to me.  So, I'm going to dry it up, get myself together and go to bed, try to sleep, which we already know isn't going to go well, but hey, eventually I'll fall asleep.  At least I've got a new Kenyon novel.  The story of another beaten and battered soul made whole when it's given enough love...oh hell, I can't even read that.  I might just snuggle up with my philosophy book, maybe that will help.  Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow a bit more stoic and able to handle the next six weeks not-so-horribly. To relax, I'm going to stick to an old standby, it helps me sleep.  Hopefully it will do the same for you too.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The beauty of being the boss...

If you'd ask anyone in my huge, extended, real life family who "The Boss" was while we were growing up, 9 out of 10, you'll get back the name of one very special woman.  My Aunt Sissy, or to my father she was "Babysis", or if you just preferred first names, she was Helen.


Now, I'll be the first one to tell you that being "the boss" is one of the world's hardest things.  How she did it after my grandmother died, I have no earthly clue.  She was literally keeping up with family in at least four different states, knew everyone's name and knew the details that even the CIA couldn't dig up.  She knew who was who, who was married to who or who was even dating who. J. Edgar could have used a woman like her because I'm convinced she knew everything.

Well, when you're wrangling 50+ people, you've got to have a special talent for it. The only other person I know with the genetic code able to pull off what Aunt Sissy did all the time is Nan.  You want to mobilize an army?  Talk to Nan, she's got a whole army up her sleeve because she knows so many people and keeps track of that many more.  (Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if my nephew had a tracking chip in is boot...nooo, I'm just kidding...Ryan, stop looking in your shoes, I was playing!)

No, but seriously, it takes a lot to be the boss.  You have to make sure that every day you remember that "leadership is about support".  You have to remember that when you speak, you have to make sure it's kind, gentle and tasteful.  Most of all though, your diplomatic skills are in high demand if someone's just stepped on their whatevers because it's left to you to remember that it's your job to hear them howl, then remember not to decapitate them for being so incredibly silly as to masochistically pulverize their own private parts out of sheer stupidity.

I know you feel me on this.  I can not be the only person in the universe that watches people day in and day out and wonder what hell goes on in their heads!  Well, the one upside when you're the boss is that when things like that happen, all you need to do is give them "the look".  I know you know which look I'm talking about...it's the one that you've received from your mother or your wife or your boss, wondering what the hell are you thinking???

Which of course makes you want to curl up under the nearest piece of furniture in the fetal position.

No, see, those things are going to happen.  It's just part and parcel of being the boss. Everyone but everyone at one time or another just "dummies it up", you know what I'm talking about.  Dummies are everywhere, hell they even write a series of books for people who admit to being one.   Like it or not though, no matter where you work, dummies are a fact of life.  I've learned how to accept it and move on.  Hell, I even got to retire one recently, but that's really not the beauty of being a boss, but it sure does give you a Cheshire Cat-sized grin when you get to do it.

Keeping track of people, shaking your head at the dummies, being supportive, those are all really the nuts and bolts of being the boss but...

Today I've found out the world's best perk about being a boss.  You get to delegate.  Well holy shit...this one is a new one for me because I've never done it before.  I actually delegated today.  I took one of my six jobs and whittled it down to five. I finally found someone to take over one portion of my workload. Ever since I have, I just may melt into a big pile of goo because of the tremendous weight that it has lifted off my shoulders.

Tell Babe Ruth to move over, shove ol' Giambi and Jeter aside, I'm coming through - calling my shot and swinging for the fence because I actually found someone who is basically telepathic and understands where things need to go and how it needs to be done.  I tell you, sometimes it's the hardest damn thing to find someone who is a perfect fit for a job, but once you find them, the overwhelming joy is well worth the trouble you had to go through to find them.

It's like being able to be at home and work whenever I want without being pulled this way, that way or the other way.  The head rush of oxygen I'm getting because I'm getting to the point I can almost breathe is almost overwhelming.  Feels damn good for a change.

You know what, since it's Friday night going into Saturd'y...I'm going to take myself out for a treat!

*hehehehehehehe*

The evening afterward...

Okay, so we've made it through the world's worst birthday.  Which means it's time for me to kick it into gear and start writing again.  And I mean daily writing not this "hit and miss" bull I've been putting us all through just to save the feelings of a guy who treated me badly.

This is the point where I'm sure my editor would tell me that it's time to brush off my sense of humor and start using it again, which I think he just might be right.  PTSD or not, this is one moment I'm not going to use my avoidant behaviors to get the better of me, I'm facing what's happened to me head on - and I'll be damned if I don't laugh about it in some way, shape or form.

Don't even get twisted, Ace (as usual) is reading along and he's going to be commenting behind the scenes...my quandary is whether or not to post his horrible grammar, lack of spelling skills and overall inability to coherently communicate for all of you to see. Seriously, every time he writes he embarrasses himself, so I don't know whether it's more fitting to just delete his incomprehensible English composition skills which denote 'his hurt feelings' (yeah, right, like he's got any, well, none he'll express unless no one is looking) or let you guys see what I've had to put up with for the last year and three months. It's so tempting to just show the world how bad it really is, but rather than be his sole judge and jury, I'll let you post to the Facebook comments his fate...I'll leave it to y'all on whether or not we pull his shorts down around his ankles and let you guys have at him full out.  It's like my boss told me, "You've got a pack of big brothers that are just dying to get a hold of him for treating you badly."  Not to mention a whole lot of other people who are just drooling to use him as a pinata in effigy.

Now that my phone hasn't been ringing off the hook telling me how awful I am (when the truth is, I haven't had the heart to pull my phone from my purse to read the text messages from Ace berating me for actually telling the truth about him on my blog) I've spent the day doing my laundry.

I've also spent today grateful for HBOGo.  Hey, when you're a single girl and you're breaking down every five minutes into heart-wrenching sobs over the fact that you allowed yourself to get treated like dirt and constantly disappointed for the last year, a Sex and the City marathon is just what the doctor ordered.

While watching the show, peculiar moment after peculiar moment has been popping up, ones that sit there and scream "since when did Ace get a role on Sex and the City?" as I'm zooming around my house cleaning, doing laundry and so forth.

The first peculiar moment came while I was watching the end of Season 2, you know, where Carrie finally tells Big to get lost and she revels in the fact that once you're single again, you get time to do your laundry, clean your apartment and wail to all of your friends how awful your ex-boyfriend was?  Being that I don't have any real friends in town, I get to skip all that, except to write it here, and just like Carrie wails on about Big, I just don't have the heart to emasculate Ace one more time except to say that to outline all of Ace's shortcomings wouldn't be my style.  He's really a great guy, he's just got too much on his plate to actually be emotionally available.  Well, that and the fact that his ex-wife has broken him beyond repair doesn't help his case much.  That he's got an ungrateful, feral kid to boot just wraps it up in one big package that says, "Don't go there."

Anyway, as I kept watching, I was reminded what it was like to be in my early 30's again, married to the ex, completely miserable, and then it dawned on me...was I so much like Carrie that I just kept picking the wrong guys?

I'm 41, which if I listened to another film from my early 30's Sleepless in Seattle, I have all of the likelihood of finding a real relationship as I do being killed by a mugger on the street. Which I have to say, that thought isn't remotely reassuring, so I'm just going to refrain from dating altogether.  I walk away from Ace with only one thought in my mind:  Dated, done it, have the t-shirt, don't need to go there again.

But, between episodes, and between one Sex and the City epiphany after the next, I sat here drying my eyes as sometimes I'd have to hit pause just so I could have just one more heart-wrenching sob, use up another half-box of tissues before I could get up, move my laundry from the dryer to the top of the dryer to be folded, and the clothes in the washer either moved to the dryer or be hung up to air dry.

After about the 20th thing I put on a hangar to air dry, I suddenly looked around my laundry room and thought, "When did I get so many clothes?" when the truth really was, "When the hell was the last time I did full on laundry, ironing and all?"

The answer:  "Before I started dating Ace."

What was worse was trying to make myself a pot of coffee, looking down and realizing that the plug next to my sink wasn't working.  Ace, during all the months that I dated him, wailed on and on that he couldn't do anything for me; he couldn't fix my car, he couldn't do any home repairs and so forth, so the one moment I needed him?  I found the GFI switch in my kitchen, pressed the 'test' button and reset it.  The plug my coffee pot goes into is just fine, I just needed to reset the breaker.  Yep, he was right, I don't need him to fix anything in my life, I can take care of it just fine, it just would have been nice for him to look like Superman for a moment.  I guess I'm Supergirl, because I can fix things just fine on my own.

Which reminds me of something I told my pal Haley not too long ago, "The first six weeks are going to suck, but results may vary, please check with your doctor."  And even though I'm not quite up to going through the next six weeks of epic suck, at least all of Ace's laundry that has been left here or brought home with me is adding up in one neat little pile by the front door, just waiting to be picked up.  I'll be damned if I drive another inch for his benefit, but at least the clothes he'll pick up from here will be clean, folded and ready to wear.

Yes, I know, I'm so pathetic.  I should have dumped them all in the toilet and cleaned with them. I just couldn't bring myself to do it, so they're neatly folded, smelling like Downy by my front door.  I'm praying I don't have to look into Ace's eyes when I give them back, it would be a moment of weakness where I would either cave and take him back or what I fear most, it will illicit a complete reflex response that would see me literally kick him square in the balls.

So, as I look over at the clock with it reading almost midnight, I'm going to put on my cordless headset back on, press play and enjoy watching Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda act out more parts of the last year of my life.

Viagra and all.

Oh well, at least I'm getting things done, right?  It's my time well spent.

For the song of the day, I'm going to invoke the right to be selfish, so this one is for me.  I've come to the point where I realize that my oldest personal adage is true:  "There is nothing in the world a man can give me that I can't give myself."


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Forty, plus one more...

As usual, it's time once again for my annual birthday post.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I'm so far behind in posting anything, I'll be surprised if one person reads this.

41. They say after 40, life just keeps getting better and better.  At this point I really feel like grabbing whomever "they" are and knocking them on their butts because from my viewpoint, they really don't know jack-bupkus about what happens after 40.

But let's start our little tale on Monday night, the 24th, the night before my birthday.  I've not been keeping everyone up on what's been happening with me, so let's do a quick catch-up before we start in on the disaster that started at 7:40 on Monday night.

The semester at school has started (and at writing that I do a facepalm knowing that I didn't do the semester preview like I usually do).  I'm taking Philosophy 102, COM 216, and Journalism 447 and 484.  But, the semester started out as a disaster as well because on top of the six jobs I'm doing at work (Ad/PR, Asset Management, Shop Management, Quality Assurance, Head of Asset Creation and World Concept Design), I've had to take care of Ace and his son full time.  I'm not sure but I'm pretty positive that creating whole worlds out of my imagination is a tough job, add the other five and breathing gets pretty tough, add on 12 credit hours and two men who have absolutely no concept how much harder they're making your life as they ungratefully suck your soul out and give nothing back in return? It just equals one giant disaster that I'm not even sure that Mother Theresa or Gandhi could see their way clear to forgive.

So, just out of sheer exhaustion I've been missing classes, falling asleep during them, I've got my teams at work looking at me for answers I don't have time to give and one concept artist who I can't trust to do a single drawing without describing it to him word for word even though I've described it all in great detail in I don't know how many e-mails.

But then, I 'm expected, without even a consideration to how rough my world has become, to neglect my home, my life, my work and my studies for a man and his son who have no idea how to give anything back other than more stress, more heartache and just more and more trouble. I guess it was all summed up in my birthday card I received from the both of them that LITERALLY read:
"Hope you like the card, I pulled it out of my ass." 
Yep, that's how my day started, with me passing out on my couch out of sheer exhaustion Monday night only to open my door at 7:40 p.m. and have Ace tell me he had nothing planned on top of the fact that if I wanted to do anything, I'd have to pay for it myself and a card that read that he had no other consideration for me than that.  Of course the other card that came with it was written by Hallmark with an intelligible scrawl for a a signature that left me wondering who it was from.  No personalization, no nothing, just some scrawl attached to "oh how I'm so lucky to have you," oh yes, sure, he's lucky enough to have me around to shit on.  Gee thanks.  He actually had the audacity and nerve to sit there and tell me that the "card pulled out of his ass" was something he thought I would think was funny.  I can't even sit and think about it without wanting to throw something.

At that point, I just threw him out.  I couldn't take anymore.  If I was expected to take humiliation after humiliation, neglect after neglect then pay for his dinner too?  No.  Enough was enough.  He needed to go.

After all that, I got on the phone with KP, told him what happened and when midnight hit, KP and I were headlong into the latest WoW expansion Mists of Pandaria together.  Just like four years ago when I thought the world had ended, there was KP, as always backing me up.  We created two new pandas, mine by the name of Choppiestick and his by the name of Slapyouface.  At that point I was so grateful to hear the voices of KP, TJ, Drewbie and Kai, I didn't realize how much I had missed by wasting the last year on Ace.

While we were leveling our new pandas, KP and I discussed the last year and how Ace was just my way of bouncing back after my ex bailed out with the Bassett Hound Faced Bitch, and how it was important for me to know that being alone wasn't the end of the world, after all I did wait two years before even trying a relationship on for size.

At about 2 a.m. I passed back out again, happy that I could spend the beginning of my day with the one guy who's been with me and EXTREMELY supportive come hell or high water for the last five years.

The next morning, I woke up on my couch and opened my laptop to find out that one of my best pals, a woman named Darla Lamb had been killed in a car wreck, the exact same moment Ace walked in my door the night before.  While I was being insulted by a card pulled out of his ass, Darla, in a moment of despair  drove her Toyota RAV4 head-on into a Semi and died on the way to the hospital.

So let's count it up shall we?  I've got a boyfriend who treats me like shit and then one of my close friends drives her car into a semi, oh and on top of that, it's my birthday.  I've got no support nearby, I call my mother and she tells me I need to be strong, but then, oh, let's just light the candle on top of this whole thing when my boss tells me I can't buckle under all of it, that I have to remain strong for everyone else.

Meanwhile, everyone's knocking down my door for answers, e-mail addresses, and everything else that I'm just supposed to keep churning out without an ounce of support, no help and the one guy that could give me an ounce of relief 2500 miles away.

It's hard not to sit here and cry inconsolably, it's almost impossible to breathe but at least I found joy in one thing:

I took myself to Spago.  This year, they made sure to have a coconut Crem√© Brule√© waiting for me, along with my glass of champagne.  Peter was even nice enough to make me a chocolate orange shot.

So, if anyone is reading, which I doubt, if you feel like trying to repair my birthday in some way shape or form, keep that jerk Ace away from me and someone put together a little package that sends me to Hawaii for a week, just so I can say hi to KP.

And that was 41.  By far the worst birthday I've ever had.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Me...and my new laptop

Everyone knows that I'm pretty thrifty when it comes to buying things.  Actually, it's a freaking miracle if I get anything for myself at all.  But, with work heating up, and me needing to be sitting in front of the machine all the time with school and so forth, I just stood up and hollered, "Damn it, it's high time I got myself a laptop."

And with Ace in tow, on Friday I did.

Just to put all of my iLemmings nerves to rest, nope, still no iAnything.  You keep trying to infringe, but I resist! I refuse to put myself in debt just to keep up with your trendy butts.  Oh yeah...what's that, your iPhone 4S who lets you talk to yourself without looking nuts? Awww, poor Siri, her time is up...she's being replaced with a quad-core, which is...what was that? YES, exactly what I've got in my little laptop.

Go!  To the cliff with you, hand over your first born to pay homage to Steve of the Hereafter! Um, entry-level iPads are actually just a hair less expensive than the actual LAPTOP I can do everything I do on my home computer, with the convenience of having it with me at school and it weighs the same as a Mac Mini but has three times the RAM.  Homogeneous iCulture.  While you sell out to own a piece of fruit with a bite already taken out of it, I'll skip down the road, laptop paid for in cash money.  No bill left over.  But I can't believe people actually take out FINANCING to pay for an iAnything.  Just goes to show how far people are still going to keep up with their neighbors.  Still shoving themselves in a financial hole while I run on winged shoes hollering,

"YOU'LL NEVER GET ME!!!!   MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!"

But, now I must leaving the iLemmings to their plug-and-play bliss, saving up every last dime as they salivate and step on each other, to get rid of their perfectly fine, babbling brook of a phone who has all of the sense of humor a piece of styrofoam for a new iPhone 5.  If they want to be broke, that's their business and they can morgage themselves to their eyeballs for their iWorld, it's none of my business.  What I did get though is reminds to my favorite black-clad ciphers from The Book of D'ni.  The true example of what it is to live without pride...my beautiful relyimah.  The Unseen.

At only around 3 pounds, my new baby is light as a feather, perfect for lugging around campus for the beginning of...

MY SENIOR YEAR! Woohooo!

So, now on top of work, I've officially taken on a crafting project.  My new laptop. 

 



Yes Barry, she's an HP.  An M6 series to be exact.  Hey, shush!  I got a good deal and I shan't have any iLemmings besmirching my new little darling.  She integrates perfectly with my huge desktop machine, except guess what, I've got an easier time working with my Wacom tablet because I'm not bound and shackled to my desk!

I will admit though, I was a bit disappointed at first when I found out it only came in black.  But, hey...after praying for one for a while now, I'll take what fits within my price range and desired specifications.

Not to sound ungrateful, but it wasn't until I got her home, unwrapped her and really took a look at her appearance that a grand idea hit me like a ton of bricks.  As the Book of D'ni said, "Clad only in black, they appeared to be more like ciphers than men," so since she's skinny as a rail, and clad all in black, shiny in some places and so forth, I started searching all over the Internet for a Myst-themed laptop...a skin of some type.   You know what I found?

Nothing.

Oh yeah...Dance with me...going to make my groovy laptop into something my Myst family will love!

What is incredibly ironic about all of this is that, well, the Myst franchise was born on the MacOS. Yep, a PC girl who digs on a game that was born as an iLemming.  Who knew.  LOL!

But, it doesn't matter to me.  Myst is Myst and just like good people, it wouldn't matter if it was blue, green, aquamarine, an apple or an orange, it's good stuff, so I love it just the same.

Now how on earth do you start a process like this?  Well, easy really. First things first, is you have to get what you're working on to look right, so you start by customizing your desktop.

  1. Start over at  mystjourney.com.  Over there you'll find Myst desktop wallpaper aplenty, if you're like me, you grab them all and save them all into one folder.
  2. Then you  right-click the desktop and hit personalize.
    We're concerned with the four little options at the bottom.
  3. Then just click on the desktop background and click on "Slideshow".  Navigate your way to your folder with all of those great images created by the wonderful fella over at MystJourney.com and select the folder. Don't forget to choose how you want it to fit on the screen and how often you want the picture to change.  In my case I can't ever get enough Myst so I set mine to five minutes.
  4. Then go to the next button "Window Color."  For me, I picked a very nice, reminiscent of Channelwood rusty brown.  Everywhere in Myst you'll find a rusty hue, so that's what I went with.
  5. For the sounds, I'm not done yet.  I've got my game soundtracks that are just waiting for me and Audacity to sit down and make a few cool sounds.  I definitely want to see if I can make a bahro shriek my error noise.  LOL!  OR how about the logon sound being Yeesha's voice saying "Shorah" in Uru!  Omg!  That's hot, I GOTTA do it.
  6. Then for the screen saver, hey, you have to be inventive and a problem solver if you're a Myst fan.  I went over to Cnet.com and picked up Sim Aquarium 3.  No, there's no Whark in the aquarium. Sorry to say, but there is a setting to create what looks like rain hitting the water, making these groovy ripples that go over the screen when you move your mouse, kind of like in Eder Kemo near the book room to go back to Gira.

    Like this:

                     
  7. The only things left?  The desktop icons and the external skin.  Those are works in progress.  I'm trying to figure out what I want to use as the D'ni equivalent of the recycle bin, my computer, and other icons I want to change or make uniquely Myst.
But, on top of all of that good stuff, I'm going to give it the final shove to make it feel like falling into the Star Fissure.  Here, let me give you a clue...


Custom D'ni numbers on the top line and the 10-key keypad.  That's right!  Envy me. Combined with D'ni glyphs spelling "relyimah" on the cover skin with a few extra flourishes?  Oh yeah, now that's MY laptop.

Wanna see how the desktop looks right now?



And yep, those are earthquake occurrences from the US Geological Service.  I'm such an earthworm!  Atrus would be proud.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Point of Genesis

Have you ever sat back and wondered where things come from?

Have you ever sat down in a movie, behind a video game or heck, just looked at the clothes in your closet and wondered, "Hey, who came up with the idea for that?"

Think about the guy who came up with the line, "The Cake is a Lie" and how many people when they hear it now scream, "PORTAL!"

Think about the guy somewhere out in the world who came up with the battle cry,"For the Horde" that now engenders thousands upon thousands of screaming fans to get up out of their seats in applause.

Those are just two examples of individuals sitting at the point of genesis creating something entirely new.

Here, let's put it into your lap and have you think about it for a while.

What is a point of genesis?


Well, it's where you sit and watch an entirely new concept take shape, but it takes shape according to YOUR ideas, YOUR judgement calls and otherwise everything YOU throw into it and it starts to brew and bubble on its own.  Imagine putting all of your imagination in a pot, then stirring and out comes a finished concept to present to the world.

I guess you could exchange "point of genesis" with the phrase "hanging your ass out on the line" because it's not only risky, but highly taxing on the mind, body and spirit.

Do you have any idea how much pressure is on someone who sits at a point of genesis? Let's grab Hottie #9 from my list, Chris Metzen, as an example.

Chris Metzen sits at a constant point of genesis. He's a guy who comes up with characters, story arcs, whole places, continents and worlds that all spring straight from his brain.  From there, programmers, artists, modelers and a whole cast of working folks take his ideas and present them in digital format, i.e. the latest expansion pack that's coming out for World of Warcraft, The Mists of Pandaria that just so happens to be launching on my birthday, September 25th.

Here, take a peek:



Now, after all that, I want you to sit in his chair for a minute:

Before they even began to make the announcement for what the players have now dubbed as Mists, Chris, Alex Afrasiabi and a whole crew sat down and pondered what they were going to do.  As he said, they had been through plenty of supervillains throughout the history of World of Warcraft, namely Ragneros in Molten Core, Illidan in Black Temple, Arthas the Lich King in Northrend, Deathwing over the skies of Cataclysm, I mean they have gone through the baddest cats on the block...who were they going to go after next?  Who was left?

Well, that left them sitting at the point of genesis where they had to come up with something entirely new.

Before the pandas showed up or the entirely new "continent" that those pandas call their home had been created, the guys up at Blizzard might have toiled for hours, days, weeks and months trying to figure out who the latest bad guy was going to be; or Chris Metzen might have a brilliant moment of inspiration as he stood in his neighborhood grocery store checkout line at the same time thousands of gamers were running to their nearest video game shop to tear Wrath of the Lich King from store shelves. We'll never know.  But, having to think an expansion ahead, or even down to a content release ahead requires him and his team to sit at a point of genesis on almost a daily basis.  And folks, that is a very hard place to sit because the demands, and stakes, are extremely high.

I have always been one to sit back and have appreciation for what comes out of creative people's heads. But, let's face it, not everyone is that way. Not everyone sits back and looks at the creative process with a set of eyes that realizes that someone sat at their desk late into the evening, trying desperately to find that one brilliant creative spark that gave birth to what they now can use to fly, swim, ride or glide. In an online worlds sense, people don't think that the design for their flying mount, hoverboat or other aerial conveyance had to come from someone's brain before it hit the desk of the modeler, texture artist, QA tester, alpha tester, beta tester then finally to them. To be honest, I really don't think a lot of people think about the creative process that went into the keyboard they type on or the smartphone they carry around in their pockets.  People have a tendency to forget where things come from, and to be honest, I think it's pretty sad and for the most part, ungrateful.

For more YEARS than I can count, I have heard individuals tear into ideas. Heck, I've even laid into some of the more Darwinian mistakes with unbridled venom. I'll be the first to say that I freaked out when they took out my beloved perma-tree form and replaced it with a Tree-Fro.  Come on, who ever thinks that the newest incarnation of a druid's tree form is the least bit feminine, put your hand up so someone else can slap you for me. It wasn't the brightest move, but still, the idea for that new tree form had to come from somewhere. Yes, I put up my hand and asked to look like a walking Wisteria, but come on, I thought for sure they'd at least make us gals look half way feminine.

Ok, here's the before shot:

Now here's the after, along with the Wisteria I was talking about:


Ya think maybe I'm feeling a little bit responsible for that? I actually posted, "I'd definitely go for a walking wisteria look" in public. To my shame, I'm the ONLY one who ever said anything about a wisteria...yet, there's the tree form to prove it. I honestly feel like I'm responsible for both the tree form disaster and the "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign catastrophe because my winning entry over on the now-defunct Myst Movie site had in very large type at the bottom "Cavern Blood Runs Deep" six months before those commercials began to air, on top of the fact I had been using that phrase since 2004. Coincidences? Maybe, but from where I'm sitting, it's very plausible that I could be very responsible.

My problem with sitting actively at a point of genesis is that I'm used to failure. Hey, I'm used to people thinking they know more than I do and shoving me out of the way, that's why becoming Phi Kappa Phi was such a damn shocker! Over the years I've become quite accustomed to just taking rejection with a grain of salt, hoping for success on the next one. Come on, even the guy who I've been seeing doesn't even think I'm worthy of emotional reciprocation because he thinks my emotional needs are okay to be shoved out of the way too, so I'm not seeing where I can draw a lot of confidence at the moment.

But let's go back to hottie #9, he gives me some comfort because Chris Metzen didn't make the hotties list just because of his face and his voice...it's because he sits squarely at the point of creation, gushing out idea after idea, concept after concept, for millions of players to look at, enjoy, tear into, ridicule and put through the collective wringer all of the parts of the world he creates solely from his imagination and his knowledge of the Warcraft universe.  Do you actually want to sit there and think it's easy?

But, forget whole continents filled with content from structures to "NPC's" (non-player characters) running around. Terraforming alone will bake your noodle, from forests filled with trees to snowy cliffs and breathtaking waterfalls. But let's go further, to the avatar. An avatar from the ground up is one of the hardest things to create. From something as basic as height or body shape to skeletal rigging, animations (which include emotes, dance moves, idle animations, poses, how you sit, stand, jump, swim, how you swing your sword or cast your spells, anything that requires movement), to how external assets sit on the skeleton, even down to the most miniscule of nose wrinkles as the avatar goes "Eww", there's a ton of stuff going on. All those things are great, don't get me wrong, but one detail that most people don't put any thought into is how the actual skin of their avatars came to be. You know, the fleshy part? The part that gets goosebumps if the action gets thick?  Yeah, just the actual skin, no more, no less. How much thought do you think goes into it?

Let's have a little fun:  Including the newest race, the Pandaren, how many races are there now in World of Warcraft?  Any takers before I let the answer out of the bag?

No?

How about this, let's list them out.

For the Alliance you have:

  • Dwarf
  • Draenei
  • Gnome
  • Human
  • Night Elf
  • Worgen

For the Horde you have:

  • Blood Elf
  • Forsaken
  • Goblin
  • Orc
  • Tauren
  • Troll

So, that's six a piece, plus the Pandaren equals a whopping 13 different races.  Don't run away so fast, there's more.  Now, multiply that by two because why? Two genders.  Now we're up to 26.  Oh no, you still don't get away because guess what? How many different shades of skin tone does each race have? Some have seven available, others have more than 10! Oy veh.  Get out your calculators because guess what, take that 26 and let's multiply it by the race with the highest number of skintones I found, 12, which happens to go on the humans.  Now hit the equals button.

I heard that swear!  That's right!  Holy Cow! That's approximately 312 individual skins, and that's not counting eyes, hair, facial markings, facial hair, earrings, lips, eyebrows, eyelashes or anything else that is a part of the physical essence of the avatar. You want the extras? Do the math! If there is one variable, say the eye color, it has at least five permutations for avatar customization by itself.   And some dodo birds out there actually have the nerve to think that the buildings are the things that are hard to make.

Have you gotten nauseous yet? Have your knees started to buckle under all that yet?  Oh, come on ya wimps! You can take more than that!

Who do you think came up with the idea that Orcs should be shades of green, yellow-green and all the way to brown, or said the skin of a Tauren needs to look exactly like a cow's?  But one better yet, the universal truth throughout WoW: who in the hell decided to leave the joints exposed on a Forsaken (undead)? Because from Silithus to Silvermoon City, Booty Bay to Icecrown Citadel, everyone agrees, it doesn't matter what you put an undead in, all the armor looks pretty much like shit. Someone though, way at the point of genesis decided that those joints needed to be showing to create the unmistakable presence of an undead in the raid, the battleground or wherever that undead wants to be.  You can't miss them from a mile off, and it is also why the folks that play undead love them to pieces. I'll be the very first to admit, when you're in Undercity and your joints are showing, you feel right at home. But that was the genius of the person sitting at the point of genesis who decided that Undercity from the grotesque stitched abominations down to the skull-laden cages and scenery would make those tendon-showing characters feel right at home, even though their queen, Sylvanas would probably look more at home in Teldrassil or Silvermoon City amongst the elves.

But, from skin tones to eyecolor, avatar assets such as clothing or armor to weapons, vehicles and transportation hubs, it all came from someone who had the guts to sit at the point of genesis.

You want to talk about a hard job? Try coming up with a whole new world, then sit and dream up the names of the places, the architectural style, the foliage, every last detail on the avatars, NPC's, critters and the list goes on of all the things that must, at one time or another spring from someone's head as an entirely new idea. Every day I sit very grateful for guys like Chris Metzen, Alex Afrasiabi, Will Wright, Will Harvey, Jeffrey Ventrella, and every single person who ever sat behind their desks late into the night with just a map of some freshly terraformed terrain, knowledge of a physics engine, and just their imagination.  My hats are seriously off to them.

Think of it this way: If you sit at a point of genesis and do well, then everyone praises you. Do it wrong and there aren't enough nails, hammers and planks of wood on the planet for the 10 million ways you're going to be crucified. To put it in a very intimate way, imagine having to pick the skin tones, then present them to your friends then wonder how they are going to react to them, then the public's reaction, and then after having screenshots, movies and all sorts of other media capture what you've picked and okayed be chowed down on, insulted, and possibly praised, even down to it influencing the buying decisions of the public.  Think about the Pandas. Now, WoW is not your typical "warm and fuzzy" world, now imagine it filled with Pandas. A Panda?  With those bloodthirsty thugs?  Well yeah, Chris Metzen seems to think so, and being that he's sitting at the point of genesis for them, he has to take responsibility if it succeeds or fails.

Imagine that going into launch day for him.

And people say online worlds are just games.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Good luck with that one.

For the song of the day, I'm going to dig up a tune I was lead to just out of sheer serendipity by a band called Kings of Leon, a tune that is very helpful playing in the background, no matter what song it is, so I just picked an uplifting tune I liked:


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Bakers Dozen: Revenge of the Hotties List

As you well recall, I have been building a compendium of hotties as we've gone along.

In total, I've mentioned the "hotties list" in 12 separate posts.  Sometimes it's references as to who deserves to make it, other times it's been about who couldn't make it onto the list even if they begged, pleaded and threw in a steak dinner at N9NE over at The Palms to prove how much beefcake they've got.

Everyone's reasons for looking at someone and going "Oh that's HOT" are different. Mine comes from how much pure nutritional value seems to radiate from within them. For the most part though, it's how handsome they are combined with how much they make me laugh, cry or sit and contemplate the world.

Before I start though, I have to give Honorary Hotties status to Sean Connery and Robin Williams.  Mr. Connery for being hot from the moment he was born to the fact that he could be 200 years old and still set women's thighs aflame with a simple "hello".  Robin is a honorary hottie because he's my all-time number one crush for so many reasons I won't bother keeping you here all day to read them.

Most of all, I must give Honorary Hottie status to the one and only Rand Miller, the man who has never heard of me, but has changed my life forever with all things Myst:


Over the four years I've been writing, Rand's vision of the world, his definition of photo-realism and his family's ability to make the Seven Virtues available to everyone through great storytelling has been a huge part of keeping me going. That's so much nutritional value in one person that I truly hope the man lives forever.

So, before I add on tonight's honoree, let's go back in time to review the guys who have made the list and the posts they spring from:

May 26, 2010 - One of my favorite posts of all time: "Boys." kicked off the list with my appreciation for: 
  • #1 - Hugh Jackman
  • #2 - Ewan McGregor
  • #3 - Robert Downey Jr.
  • #4 - Sam Worthington
  • #5 - Matthew Fox
October 15, 2010 - From a lonely Friday night spent at home we got "Sigh with me..." and:
  • #6 - Matthew Goode
October 28, 2010 - After getting stood up on what was supposed to be the first date after the bomb went off, swooping down in drag to save the day was "One more for the hotties list" and:
  • #7 - Eddie Izzard
November 21, 2010 - A Saturday before the holidays pent up studying gave us a great werewolf flick and a "New hottie of the day" courtesy of:
  • #8 - Michael Sheen
December 6, 2010 - The day World of Warcraft: Cataclysm came out, it also gave us "Hottie of the Day, #9":
  • #9 - Chris Metzen
July 8, 2011 - There was a good seven month break in additions to the hotties list until Game of Thrones premiered and the yummy sight of this fella playing Khal Drogo, followed soon after by him playing the title role in the re-make of Conan the Barbarian, we got "Books, books, books, and oh wait...TV..." and the beefcake smorgasbord of:
  • #10 - Jason Momoa
January 22, 2012 - After several sweet e-mails from a friend, we got "Thunderstruck" by Thor and:
  • #11 - Chris Hemsworth

Now we're on to tonight's addition to the hotties list who also makes our list of beautiful men, not counting the honorary's, an even dozen.

Tonight's hottie is the man who woo'd Oscar with his ability to disarm IED's in The Hurt Locker. He also set the screen on fire this summer as Hawkeye in The Avengers. Until tonight, I had always believed he was a too cute for words 30-something, but after digging around a bit, the atheist in me is in doubt thinking there might just be a God because he's 41, a whopping nine months older than I am. OMG! One I could actually date and get away with it! (Yeah, I know, not in a million years, like he'd even look at me...but hey, I can dream.)

The icing on the cake? You'll never believe it in 100 years, but tonight's hottie could also EASILY be Ace's younger brother, or better yet, play Ace in a movie because they look extremely similar. From the bright blue eyes to the devastating smile that could bring any girl to their knees, I don't believe there is one girl on the planet that would kick him from her bed for stealing covers, snoring, eating crackers or anything else that matter.

Here's some groovy factoids I found:

  • He'd recognize the Kali sticks I have next to my bed for home protection.
  • He's someone who could watch Muay Thai Boxing with me.
  • He's someone who would understand why I beat the fool out of my pork chops to make good schnitzel or why cucumber salad and cold red cabbage salad rock.
  • He's someone who I wouldn't have to explain why vox are so important to the tune.
I'm telling you, this guy should have made the hotties list way back, but as it takes me forever to "get" things, I'm very grateful that we've gotten to him today.


Ok, I'll kill the suspense for you.  Are you ready?  Here's Mr. Even Dozen because he is all that nestled in with the glass of milk and the 11 other cookies on the plate:

#12 - Jeremy Renner


Oh thank you, thank you to whomever came up with the term "even dozen!" WooT!  Here, because he's just  so Ace-a-licious, let's have a smiley pic:



Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Genetics, aren't they just wonderful?

Best part?  I can look all I want, I can watch his performances on screen and think of the beautiful Ace sans the bad attitude and emotional unavailability. I seriously doubt Mr. Renner has ever looked at any of his girlfriends and told them that he'd give them emotional reciprocation "Only when he's goddamn good and ready."

Yep, and that's why Mr. Jeremy Renner is the Hottie of the Day. He gives me hope for my generation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Living through the Excellence Filter ain't easy...

One spring evening in 2006, I sat in my virtual house in a world called "There.com" talking to my virtual dad, the very wonderful man that everyone knows as Stungthumbz. After knowing him for close to ten years now, I really do look to him as a father-figure and I have learned to never doubt him. The wisdom he has shared with me over the years has been priceless and he is bar-none the greatest father ever created. When I was down, the bomb had gone off, my ex hit the door and I had been abandoned, Papa Stung was there for me. He authored one of the two recommendation letters that got me into UNLV that I am grateful to him every day for.  In turn I have honored his faith in me by bringing up my GPA to a 3.8 and once again being placed on the Dean's List Honors for another semester of straight A's.

But, I'll never forget that spring evening for the rest of my life.  I was still in the decompression stages of recovery from the six months of hyper-accelerated aging I did while sitting on the Fall 2005 Members Advisory Board or "MAB". I even have the mug to prove it.
My MAB Mug. Every time I lift it to my lips,
I think of the immortal words of Socrates who said, "I drank what?"
As usual, and what had become the norm during my six months of what I can only term as 'that special place in hell they always warn you about', he was sitting as my counselor trying to ease my anguish as I sat completely aghast at how poorly human beings like to treat each other all too often.  When I asked him how grown adults could turn an online world into no more than a virtual high school, he chuckled, probably amazed at the naivete with which I have always seemed to look at the world.

That night I was especially perplexed. You see, in a virtual worlds sense, I was born into a very rich heritage. One that springs from the greatest and best-selling adventure games of the 20th Century, Myst. Before I go another step though, one of the reasons why Myst was such a hit is because it is pure, unrefined, unfiltered, MENSA-level bio-digital jazz. I mean Myst takes spatial problem solving to a whole new level that, believe it or not, has taught me how to see things spatially and through it have become a very, VERY good real-world spatial problem solver. It's a trip when you use what I call "D'ni Logic" in the real world to solve a problem within two seconds of looking at it that someone else with an engineer's or mechanic's mind can't quite solve after they've spent two hours on it.  Actually, it's pretty freakin' trippy when they look at you and say, "How the hell did you do that?" and you bashfully reply, "D'ni Logic?" only to have them walk away and throw their hands in the air cursing, "MYST! Again!" Hey, I can't help it, it's how I think!

Now you have to understand, after playing Myst and it's sequels, Riven, Exile, Myst IV: Revelation and Myst V: End of Ages, then diving directly into the accompanying canon made up of the three Myst novels, The Book of Aitrus, The Book of Ti'ana and the Book of D'ni, finally compiled into one asThe Myst Reader, you would have learned that the authors, Rand and Robyn Miller were the children of a pastor (I believe he was a Methodist minister). However, what they did in retrospect with Myst was brilliant, they to blended old stories and common sense universal truths from the bible with a unique viewpoint that completely divorced the religious underpinnings, then rolled it in the Roman Empire, resulting in a rich, cultural memoir with outstanding ethics without the fire, brimstone, "sins" and punishments that we expect from religion as a whole. The whole franchise literally sprang to life as a living, breathing guide of the Seven Virtues, bringing joy and a humble pride for the reader or the player to excise from themselves the moral ills illustrated in the storyline. Rand and Robyn had, in their genius, made the Seven Deadly Sins the true antagonists of the story giving each very hard, gut-wrenching moment that much more depth and impact, hence glorifying the virtues in a way that you not only recognized them, but you wanted everyone else to see that they radiated from you in every way.

For a girl like me, the entirety of the Myst Universe or what some call the D'niverse, was a sight for sore eyes. As I've written many times before, Myst came into my life very unexpectedly.  After a summer of boredom in Montreal where I just kept eating after game title after game title, the ex brought it home for me, hoping it would sate my appetite for a time-sink. It sure as to hell did! But, not long after he gave me Myst, a series of commercials began to play on the television:


When I heard Peter Gabriel's "Burn You Up, Burn You Down" and saw what I would find out later was the age of Teledahn and its mushroom-filled wonderfulness, my jaw dropped. After delving into the story of Atrus and his sons Sirrus and Achenar via the very dated graphics in Myst, I drooled at the thought of getting my hands on a brand new edition of the franchise.  If Myst in it's antiquated form was that compelling and that hard, I thought that the latest edition would probably be downright noodle baking. And, it was. When I got Uru: Ages Beyond Myst on Christmas Day 2003, I squealed with delight, not caring about what  else was under the tree. After a minor glitch of having to get a new graphics card, I was right about the whole noodle baking thing...it took me almost a week to get through what is known as "The Cleft."

Admittedly, I was behind the curve in learning my D'ni. The other players around me were old veterans of the franchise, heck when I first met Ace, even he said he had played Myst. But the people around me? Oh ho ho! They could read the numbers, some of them could even read the glyphs that after almost 10 years of seeing it all the time, I still can't do. The Numbers? Heavens yes, I can go one to 25, even doodling them in my notebooks in class, but the letters? Oh hell no. Too damn hard. I've already got English, German and French whizzing around in my head like angry hornets, to put D'ni in there? Oh forget it! That's why I have the folks over at the D'ni Linguisic Fellowship, or DLF, for my translation needs, or I can just put up the RAWA signal that looks like this:

This is the RAWA signal, only to be used in dire lore or linguistic emergencies.
If set out properly, the RAWA signal will sometimes spawn a nice man named Richard that (if I've set out the correct pizza bait) will swoop down and translate a word or two for me.

Okay, I'll let it out of the bag, RAWA is also known as Richard A. Watson, who is just all that and a plate of cookies.  He's actually the guy who probably has more stacks of books in his house than I do because he's the guy who mashed together English, Hebrew and Sumarian to create the D'ni language in which any Cavern dweller worth their salt will at least know "Shorah B'shemtee" which roughly means "Peace to you all." On top of that, he's at the heart of the lore for the Myst Universe, a lot of it coming from his head.  So you KNOW he's on my top 5 list of people I want to meet before I die because I have to thank him for a whole, whole lot of good things that what he's taught me through Uru that I've paid forward to so many people.

Besides the fabulous RAWA, there's Rand Miller, the source of all things Myst and I'm sorry, but I gotta say it, Rand is hot. He just is. Like Chris Metzen from Blizz, Rand belongs on the hotties list in like a thousand different ways, not just because of his handsome mug. My fave is when he went through his long hair phase a couple of years ago and he hugged my Aunt Dana. I fainted in my seat when I saw the photo, that lucky bug!  Sorry Auntie Dana, but I'm posting the pic. When I saw this photo on her Facebook feed, I just said, "OMG, that is SO right on."

Auntie Dana being hugged by Rand Miller.  Had I been her, I would have fainted dead away.
Anyhow, I could go on about all of the fabulous people inside the Myst Universe, but I'm getting off track.  HEY, someone's got to steer the boat around here!

So, going through Uru, and I really think everyone should, if you are ready to hear the message, you're going to get a big one. It's all about living without pride. It's all about setting aside greed. It's all about giving more than you take and contributing to something larger than yourself. If you're ready, it will teach you the art of the selfless. If you sit down and actually set aside your doubt, put down all of your assumptions and prideful leanings and just listen to the story, read all of the journals and really, and I mean REALLY breathe it in, it will change your life for the better in so many ways I can't describe it.

All I know is, when I go into Cavern, it's sacred. Two years ago, I wrote what it was like for me to spend some time in Cavern, and you know, it's still the same for me.  When you go in, it's like church, you don't cuss in there. EVER. If I caught someone swearing it up in front of Kerath's Arch or The Great Tree, I'd slap their head off their neck, you know the one I'm talking about, where you're blabbing it up and your mother or father comes up behind you and slaps you in the back of the head, glaring at you, going "Straighten up," as if you just swore in front of a pack of nuns.

Back in the day though, Cavern was completely sacrosanct. It was one of those things you were grateful was there. I mean the truth of the matter is that Uru was like the fourth or fifth virtual world to ever exist, now there are hundreds and oh man, it had more bugs than a bait shop.  If you didn't run into a bug at least 10 times a day you were lucky!  Heck, if you didn't crash to desktop or have some foul thing happen to you, it was damn near a miracle.  OH, but then if you tried to get in to Gahreesen with a crappy computer? You were going to spend near on to a whole day trying to get it loaded because it still is the HUGE king Daddy of the ages with more mouse holes in that place than a block of swiss cheese.  You could definitely tell they had Gahreesen on the slate to be one hell of a transportation hub.  I could go on for days, but Prolog was something else that I still sit back amazed that while yeah, the Myst community has a few know-it-all boneheads running around, (who doesn't), it was the most perfect place I had ever experienced.

But the most remarkable thing about being in Cavern back in its glory days is that there was not one single "griefer" in the lot.  Now, this serves my point (which I swear I am getting to) because in most online worlds, oh I'd say around 99 percent of them, have a malicious sub-set of sub-human animals called "griefers."  They're the ones who run around and can't help but drop their fly and tinkle all over things, other people and overall just be annoying so-and-so's that you want to shove off of a cliff without their relto books. (Oh, for those of you who haven't gone and played Uru yet: If you fall off a cliff or do anything that will kill you, your avatar will do what's called a "panic link", grabbing their relto book (which you ALWAYS have on your person), which links them to their home called "relto" thereby saving your life. So basically, you can't die. But without a relto book?  SPLAT.)

But, someone fumbled the ball, screwed the pooch, stepped on their whatevers or a combination of all three which resulted in a January day in 2004 that most Uruites, D'nizens, or whatever you want to call me and my people, were left devistated. Ubisoft, who was the publisher for Uru, decided to pull funding and by extension pull the plug on the whole thing.

Now when you've spent the amount of time my cavern family and I did in that world and were so synched to the message of Myst, how well did you think that message went over?  Yep, you've got it, like a dang rock.  Oooh, people were ticked.  10,000 of us left in the cold by the snap of someone's fingers. A whole community left to be blown in 100 different directions as we mourned the loss of our beloved world.

Some folks were smart, in the time before the big blackout, they sent out emissaries to all sorts of different worlds, praying we'd find one that would fulfill our needs.  Most emissaries came back with the choice between Second Life or There.com.  Being that Second Life had more socially "questionable" areas and a screwy interface, it left some folks with only one choice. There.  The rest? They took off to Second Life to enjoy avatars walking around like they had sticks planted up their rears and men actually saying out loud that they are dancing on their balls.  I kid you not.  But either way our family went, it splintered us in half.

Now, you have to realize that the gearshift between a wholly photo-realistic world and a cartoon-based one takes one heck of a bit of swallowing to take. Going from having five fully-articulating fingers to basically a "crab claw" consisting of a thumb, index finger and three fused together fingers was a stretch.  But with how intuitive the avatars were, breathing, nodding, even down to tapping their toes, it made it a bit easier swallowing the transition.

However, not everyone transitioned smoothly, and I'll be the very first one to put up their hand and admit that I didn't.  But it wasn't for the superficial look of the world at all.  It was, and I guess I'm a tad bit unique in this regard, purely due to ethical concerns. Okay yes, I looked at the crab claws I had inherited and went "WTF is this?  Who's idea of a sick idea joke is this? Three fingers?  Really?" But what I would find out later made the crab claw issue into no more than a minor blip on my radar screen.  What I found was whole groups of Uruites and D'nizens pushed back to the fringes of civilization; harassed, griefed, belittled and pushed away from everyone else until they finally colonized on an island far away from the rest of the inhabitants of the world. But, without a map, it makes it a little harder to realize how far they had been pushed.

With a map, it's a little easier to understand my frustration.
Map courtesy of Google Maps and There.com
Yep, now you're seeing the picture. The people who got harassed, belittled and treated like complete outsiders were driven relentlessly from the main island, past one more, all the way out to the very fringes of the world at the time. And on a little island that you can't even see with the naked eye on that map above the furthest point of that map, a small group founded Uru Island.  Oh, and if you dared to interact with the "natives" of that world and showed that you were from Uru?  You were branded an invader, an outsider, when everyone that came to our world were welcomed like long-lost family.  Now, I would be very wrong to say that ALL of the native inhabitants of There treated us that way, but the ones who didn't comprise a minuscule number.  Like Doc Celia says, we were a diaspora, a people without a home.  Every time we tried to make one, we were quickly bullied out of the way.

Now, you saw one of my hot button words in there, didn't you? Bullied. Worse than having the plug pulled, the last thing I had it in my heart to deal with were a pack of bullies and thugs. After seeing their attitudes and what they called a "world", I quickly surmised that they had intellects, by my estimation, the equivalent of the crab claws that they revered and called "hands", half-formed at best. You know me, I try my best not to be snobbish or say one thing is better than another. Every day I look high and low to make sure that I see the nutritional value in everyone I encounter.  From the furthest reaches of Comet Island to Saja, Tyr and beyond, the only true nutritional value I found in There was housed within the hearts and homes of people from Uru.

It was actually quite tragic. They were given this beautiful world, and instead of inviting people in to ensure its survival, they treated most newcomers like nothing more than shit beneath their shoes! Their welcoming islands were great examples of it. The moment you logged in, you were faced with swears, innuendo and conversation of a quality I consider "intellectually offensive." (and remember, I love a good redneck joke just like anyone else. Hell, I can tell raunchy stories with the best of them.)  I'm sorry, but it's the truth.  The last thing I want to see is a female avatar named "xox__Bitsy__xox" telling people rancid jokes or watching her beg for in-world currency by dancing in as nude of a way as the system allowed, bikini bottoms and a bust-only covering tanktop. Welcoming areas, good or bad are supposed to induce the consumer to SPEND their money in world, not to look at "Bitsy" and her foul mouthed friends while they were learning how to walk and following the incessant dinging of the interface as they learned the controls in which they could navigate the world.

But, thanks to a whole lot of folks whose cavern blood runs deep and true, they made There a lot more palatable than being left to its general "membership".  It was then I had insult added to injury.  Not only was I driving an avatar that didn't remotely resemble what I was used to, but when I tried my hand at creating in-world objects, I did it the old-fashioned Uru way, you walk up and ask to see if there are any resources you can look up to learn more. Oh boy, did I regret that one.  Upon learning that I was from Uru, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was "retarded", unable to learn and that I should go find the nearest rope and try pissing up it. Yep, that was my experience.  Lovely, huh?  But, you know me, I've been through worse. So, being as my cavern blood runs deep, I set myself up with Photoshop (hey what was my AA in Graphic Design for if I wasn't going to use it?) and scoured the Internet for some tutorials about online worlds asset creation. I started out just like everyone, I sucked. But with my good old-fashioned Uru-borne perseverance, I used my spatial problem solving skills and started to become better.  And better.  And better. Now decidedly, not the best, but what I made was wearable.

By then, it was early 2005 and we all headed off for the There real-life gathering in San Mateo, CA.  There amongst some "natives" I found my family.  Stung, Kitte, Kaylea, Doc Celia, Tae, Mejan, Petal, Squee, Soosi, June and a whole list of Uruites that I think showed up for each other more than they did for the Therians. (I know I did.)

Uruites in a foreign land.
All during the gathering, I argued for diversity. While going through the interesting process of learning asset creation I found that most individuals gravitated towards a single skin color rather than embracing the diversity of their actual roots.  Now remember, I'm from Uru whose letters spell "You are You" so to not abide and embrace one's own individuality was beyond me. After being in that online world for a year, one question eluded me: Why did I have to be some skintone because all of the clothes were made for just one? Ugh, caramel skintone, still six years later is the bane of my existence, second only to pridefulness. That's right, since the overwhelming population of the world preferred "carmel" skintone, all of the world's asset creators created clothing built specifically for that tone with little to no deviation. It had resulted into nothing more than a monochrome nightmare where myself and others pondered why it was we were being forced into a mold that we had absolutely no interest in conforming to.

I'll never deny for a day that I'm a maverick. I don't believe in conforming for conformity's sake.  Oh who am I kidding?  You've been along for the ride this far, so you tell me, how well do I take to being a lemming?  That's right, you'll probably find a cold day in hell before I ever become one! I figure there is a vast difference between belonging to a family and being a lemming. Lemmings just follow for the sake of the fact that the cliff is where everyone else is going.  A member of a family is a unique individual that has a mind of their own. Big difference.

So with my maverick mentality in tow, I spent an entire four days arguing the merits of diversity versus mind-numbing lemmingness. You know what?  King Lemming went and hid while I passionately argued things. (I still intimidate the crap out of him. LOL.) And while I enjoyed San Francisco, I came back with a heavy heart, knowing that unless Uru, by some miracle, came back, I was trapped in a world where it was okay to be a lemming. I stayed for only one reason, that's where my family was.

By that fall, I had been placed on the 2005 Fall Members Advisory Board where my duty was to be a conduit by which feedback went from the membership to the bosses at There's offices. We were supposedly there to make sure that the wants and needs of the membership were heard.  I had become a senator of sorts and oh was my docket full.  Besides a hundred million developer issues from the member content creation program, to landmark disputes to you name it, we had to handle them.  However, it seemed as the only folks really hitting the pavement to do their jobs was guess who?

Yeah, I had a really good time being on the scene watching other people rip each other apart over so much as the location of a portable housing zone. Or people who thought it was perfectly fine to use a world landmark as a, well hell, I'm just going to say it, somewhere to demonstrate not only their lack of taste but their immense lack of common sense and their pure lack of the remotest amount of manners or common courtesy. Over the course of six months, UoT battles notwithstanding, I had seen the worst of the human animal.

You know Bitsy at the starting area the year or so previous should have tipped me off, but nope, I hung in there for my family.  By the time my MAB term was over, I had become a rabid, snarling pit bull sitting at Stungthumbz feet, because between teaching students two hours every Saturday, the MAB every Thursday evening, and being shot at right, left and center for being an Uruite, my patience had finally seen its limits.

So here we are, right back where we started.  Me, Stung, my house and my overwhelming question, "Why were these people so ignorant?  Why is it that if there is no one in the physical vicinity to beat the crap out of them, do human beings insist on being such jerks on the Internet? Why were they so unwelcoming? Why weren't they like us from Uru?"

It was then that Stung laughed a little, like he always seems to do even years later, and said:
"Uru, and by extension the Myst Universe as a whole, is a sort of Excellence Filter. If you can survive all of the puzzles then go through what we have: open, closed, then opened again, then closed, then opened once again and so on; and still have a sense of humor to joyfully exclaim 'It's not a bug, it's a feature!', that's strength that is only found when you have stuck with it as long as we have. What we've been through has washed away those whose faith waned, it strengthened and rewarded the tenacity of those who did not give up, and along the way, it's brought out the worst in a few, but the very best in so many more. Those that remain are the ones who have been made better and stronger, more excellent, for the experience."
By a sheer freak occurrence, guess what happened six months later? Uru opened up again. Squealing with delight, I peddled my butt back home so fast it made people's heads swim. We invited people over, but as the very hysterical TCT Talk segment on the podcast said, "There was one girl who couldn't figure her way off of relto," which put us all into stitches it was so very pathetic, even when I thought of myself struggling in the Cleft all those years ago, was still damn funny because simply, she didn't even try to find answers or click on things, she just expected everything to be explained to her.

Six months later, Uru closed again.

Then it reopened again a little bit after that, but here's the kicker, the week Uru opened back up for the third time, guess who closed their doors?

There.

By all accounts for There to close in the same week Uru re-opened, to quote Doc Celia as she said on the podcast, "It was a damn miracle." Now, all of those prideful folks who had scoffed at us and pushed us to the far end of the world (as evidenced by the map and Doc Celia's book) were the ones who came to us looking for a home. Where they had never experienced what it was like for their world to go belly up, the same experience we have known all too often, they finally felt the crunch of losing what was dearest to them. Have I mentioned that pride kills?


As I watched and laughed a lot, sure enough, the excellence filter kicked in huge. Only downside? There are now griefers in cavern as whole new fan-made ages open up in MOULa or MystOnline: Uru Live Again.

But this brings me back to one simple fact. When we lost everything, we worked hard to stay together and keep our heritage. We didn't shrug it off, we held it close like a candle lighting the way in the darkness.

What I find so peculiar about all of this is that there are some people who are visibly interested in our world, others who couldn't give a darn, but when two fellas named Adrian and Patrick undertook the adventure of trying to bring our rich heritage to everyone via the silver screen, they forgot one thing...we're all called to the cavern for our own unique reasons.  Like we say in cavern, "Only Yeesha really knows why."  When you stand up and declare your love for the Myst Universe, like it or not, you're going to do your time in the the Excellence Filter; and out of experience I will tell you, it sure as to hell ain't easy.  It will chew you up, spit you out and put you back into it's mouth to be chewed up and spit out again. It is meant to do that.

Best line I know to describe the Excellence Filter is from Frank Herbert's Dune where they say, "Arrakis was made to train the faithful."  Same goes for any part of the Myst universe.  You have NO idea how many times I've said, "Uru was created to train the faithful." Only Yahvo knows how right I am about that.

But the overwhelming truth that lies amongst all of my experiences from Uru to There to World of Warcraft and beyond is that my Myst heritage sticks with me not because I'm sticking word-for-word to the canon, but because I adhere to its spirit and the base tenets described within it. How do we know to give more than we take? How did we learn how not to be prideful?  While the story of Aitrus, Catherine and Veovis is breathtaking, D'ni is more than just those three or Ghen or Sirrus or Achenar, even little Yeesha.  D'ni lives within the throng of explorers learning the backstory in the books of the Palace Alcove, it lives within the new explorer that found themselves on relto and fought their way to figure out how to get to Gahreesen and get their KI.

The whole point for Rand to get a Myst Movie made is to put butts in the seats and re-ignite interest in the franchise. He can't do that by telling an intricate story that you have to be a fan to get.  The biggest thing, whether the movie takes place on Myst Island, Releeshahn, Tehrahnee, Amateria, Stoneship, Age Five or on Ae'gura, it's the D'ni Technology, the damn fine roots and branches of Terokh Jeruth that the film "Thor" made all kinds of room for us to explore, that will motivate people to come and explore the ages and the wonderful backstory that we know and cherish on their own.

I feel real sorry for Adrian and Patrick, I really do.  But as I've said a thousand times, living in the Myst Universe is like getting lost at the world's coolest MENSA convention. But here, I'll pose the question to you: how much of the audience do you actually think would qualify for MENSA? Fellas, they're lemmings, they buy up their iWhatever and text themselves into an early grave.  How do you think the complex story of the fall would fare on ears that are nowhere near ready to hear the message? Remember, these are the folks who buy up pridefulness wholesale on their favorite reality shows and sate their greedy needs to one up their neighbors by placing themselves further in debt.

You have to approach bringing the Myst universe to everyone like you would any other complicated thing in the real world. It's like what Doc Cat did at the beginning of the semester in my Personal Growth class: she laughed it off and made light of it for one reason, and it's the same reason that idiot girl got stuck on her relto, people don't want to work for it, they don't want to be schooled, they want everything to be given to them on a silver platter. Once you get them in, then you hit them with the big guns.

So what, let Hollywood ignite the audience's imaginations by showing the city, by letting people see for themselves what it's like to watch someone actually link through a linking book. For heaven's sake, let them see the digging machines and our letters and numbers. Let them look at the cavern for the first time in a way that they can digest it.  That way, when they're ready, they'll be able to tackle our wonderful world with the respect it deserves.

You know, the Cavern has never been without drama, whether it was because of the storyline or the people who live there on a daily basis. The main thing to remember is that cavern blood is going to run deep no matter what you do. So, let it flow and let's see what we get back.

Personally, I place my faith in Rand, Robyn and Ryan with a dash of RAWA on the side. You know, lots of people cried like stuck pigs when Uru came out, hollering and screaming it wasn't right and so on...now where are they?

In cavern.

Living through the Excellence Filter ain't easy, but I'll tell you this, I'll take my Myst heritage to the bank any day of the week because it's damn good stuff.

Oh and by the way, if you were wondering about those little Therians?  Don't worry, they've got their world back, the only thing they don't and will never have back?

Me.

My cavern blood runs deep and true because I'm Myst-bred and Cavern Proud. So when that Myst movie comes out, I'm going to slap down my money to see it THEN judge it on its merits. The only thing I really want it to do is inspire the public to love the Myst Universe as much as I do and to care for its proud heritage so its' valuable lessons will be paid forward for generations to come.