Progress and Weakness

So, let’s start with the first one.

For the first time in many years I’ve rejoined the ‘competitive’ gaming scene. It’s something that I’ve thought of a few times before but after a couple of rather horrendous experiences I ended up dropping away from it and never really looking back.

A series of events lately saw me give it a go again. On one hand I played online matches in Dota (which although not strictly speaking competitive, it is pretty nerve-wracking even in the pub matches) and on the other I played two competitive matches of CS:GO. Now this second one is a big deal to me because way back in the day (CS 1.6 era) I actually did play in a couple of tournaments and we did fairly well.

As for how I’ve been doing so far… Dota I’ve won one match out of I don’t even know how many.

CS:GO we’ve won two out of the two matches I’ve played. And what’s more is that I wasn’t as useless as I thought I would be.

I’ll admit that I was in the lower half of the ten players, but for someone who has played a total of 16 hours of CS over the last five or more years I reckon that’s not a bad place to start (since I wasn’t dead last by a long way)

((If you are interested in stats: Dota, CS:GO))

So that’s progress.

As for weakness it’s the opposite end of the spectrum. That side of me that’s screaming that I’m not good enough, that I should just give up on both of those things and leave it to the ‘pros’. It’s stupid and I know that if I actually give it some time I’ll end up back at where I was all those years ago, heart pounding as we face off against a team that’s coordinated and deadly.

But for now I wonder whether the people I’m playing with would be better off without me. In Dota I can’t entirely dismiss that thought, especially considering my very poor win rate at the moment, but in the end it boils down to experience. Most of the people I know that play the game have played more hours than me in a smaller amount of time and so they understand the meta, they understand which heroes are strong and which are weak, how to counter the ones I pick and which ones are insignificant enough not to even worry about.

But then again, if I never try, I’ll never learn. So for now, I’m going to keep playing, throwing myself against the wall that is the enemy teams and hopefully I deal enough damage to it to eventually break through.

Teaching, learning and yearning

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but I teach a small jujutsu club. That club is something that I’m passionate about, something that I enjoy immensely.

Being the sensei is one of my most challenging and exciting tasks each week. Not because I lack the knowledge, although I do feel like that is true, and not because I’m not strong, which I also feel is true, but because I lack the confidence to put those things entirely aside and focus on what’s going on.

This means that I often end up stuttering or otherwise losing my focus on the mat. And when we are fighting that shows most.

In training situations, where we are looking at moves, going over techniques, figuring out counters and blocks I feel at home. My mind can immediately pull out something that will work and walk everyone through it. There is no lag time, the thought is just there.

But in a fight (on the mats in this case, I haven’t ever really fought off it) I doubt myself, I tell myself that the other person probably knows better than me, that they will counter whatever I try. And so in a way I freeze, unable to move forward in case I give my opponent the opening they’re looking for. This of course leads to my eventual defeat, especially if my opponent is stronger in one aspect or another of the art.

Which leads to my next point. I have a few students who are from different backgrounds. Now, most of them I can easily move around and outmanoeuvreย  and outwit, but there are a couple who learn so quickly that if you get them once, the next time they’ll know that move and put it right back on you.

This is great for me.

My learning was cut short quite abruptly. I feel like I know practically nothing even now and so when one of my students starts to think the same way I do, I feel great. For one thing, my teaching provided a base for them to build from and they’ve built that well. For another it means that I can learn with them. They think differently and so when I might go one way, they’ll go another, and so instead of having one way to counter something, we suddenly have two.

This is my favourite part of running my club, that constant knowledge that as we all progress, we all help each other.

 

Now onto the last topic, yearning. It’s got nothing to do with the above but tonight I went over to one of my student’s house and we all shared a drink (the entire club.) It was a great experience but while I was there, I ignored my phone.

Unfortunately that meant that I didn’t respond to messages until I got home, and since those messages are my only means of communication with my other, it means I felt very, very cut off, especially since two of my students had their significant others there.

Now that I’m home though and I’ve replied I haven’t gotten a reply back. It’s conceivable that she’s gone to bed, but in the back of my mind I worry, my paranoia kicks in in a big way. What if she’s angry with me? What if something’s happened to her.

I know it’s stupid but those thoughts are the ones I am dealing with right now and I thought it might help to get them out.

Other worlds

I’m no stranger to other worlds. I write about them, I imagine them, I imagine living in them, I help other people see those worlds through my eyes. Some scare me, others merely exist and still more fascinate me.

But something I didn’t expect to happen was for one of them to invade my waking moments without being called.

I had a moment where I was driving along, with a clear destination in mind and the route planned out. Both of those things I have travelled a hundred times and more.

But as I came around the corner to where I needed to be I felt detachment. I looked at the scene and felt like it was not what I was expecting, like although logically it was all the same place, somehow it was different.

The colours were more vivid, the lighting better than it should have been, even with the moon high and bright as it was. And just behind every part of this scene there was something fundamentally different to what it should be.

I pulled into my stop and even there there were familiar sights but once again they were different in some indescribable way. It was only when I walked in and stood staring at the fridges that reality seemed to return. It was a truly surreal moment up until that point.

Unfortunately it’s not too much of a mystery as to why it happened, even though the what is not exactly certain.

Between frustrations at work, pressure at home and stresses in my personal life I’m feeling my depression trying to kick in. I can feel it right on the edge, and in that moment before the world changed I was deep in thought about it and the effect it could have on myself and those who are close to me.

It has a lot of evil potential.

But that moment of difference somehow held it at bay, that moment of wonder where my mind was so thoroughly distracted somehow broke the power of my depression. For now it’s not imminent, although I expect it to be back soon enough.

Comfort

Tonight has been an interesting night on the back of a hectic week. Tonight I explained my a couple of my deepest issues and their sources, I spoke about how various triggers affected me and found out how many things affected others.
I ate way too much and regretted it for a while but that’s generally what comfort eating does to a person.

Which leads almost perfectly onto the actual subject of this post.
Comfort is one of those things that people can not live without. I’m not talking nice furniture and other ‘physical’ comfort items. I’m talking more about the mental state the people can end up in.
Comfort is absolutely necessary for someone to move forward. If a person is uncomfortable in a situation, they will fight, and squirm and try and find a way out of it.
If they’re comfortable however they’ll be open to moving forward and so are more likely to do so.

To me one of the things that I need before I become comfortable is trust and I think tonight I saw that more than ever.
I trust people implicitly. I believe that they would never intentionally hurt me. It’s naive and stupid but I like thinking that and it allows me to form relationships far quicker than otherwise.
Unfortunately it also means that when the betrayal eventually comes I get caught completely off guard by it and so I get hurt fairly easily.
At this point this has happened all my life. Luckily I was always ‘scary’ enough not to be pulled into one of the more elaborate bullying pranks, but people were quick to find out secrets from me and then exploit them.

Nowadays things are better, I’ve learnt how to turn that exploitation inwards and use it against who ever is trying to work on me. But that’s still not an ideal situation.
Slowly I’m working my way to a middle ground, somewhere where I can happily live and not have to worry about the horribleness of people.

One day I’ll find that space.

Ideas

Well, it’s been a while since I went into a blog post without a plan, but my head hurts and I’ve had a nosebleed and honestly I feel like writing. (Don’t ask :P)

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks, with dedication and trust playing a huge role in a couple of aspects, suspicion and anger in others. It’s unfortunate that in the same time where a major milestone was reached could be marred by petty people trying to hurt those around them.

It’s also been in these last few weeks that I’ve started to notice a change in behaviour in my boss. He’s gone from extremely stressed and focused on his stressor, to far less stressed but lashing out randomly. And the way he’s lashing out (and the reasons he’s doing it) make me think it might be a mild form of PTSD.

Now, the trauma that would have caused this is minor, we had someone around that was a habitual liar and would never admit to wrongdoing. Especially when someone actually complained about it.

There have now been a few times when things have occurred at work where someone has been an ass but Dave has immediately turned on me rather than backing me up and trying to find out what actually happened. He has immediately assumed the worst from me.

One of the times was my fault, I’d forgotten to do something that I should have done.

The other two though were not even vaguely because of me. Messages had not been passed on to those who needed to hear them and when that person then turned to Dave with a query about the very thing the message answered, Dave then turned on me, despite me saying specifically that I left a message to that effect.

The reason this has gotten to me isn’t because he’s not backing me up though. Yes, it was frustrating the way he addressed me with the query, and the animosity that he exhibited in the message, but when I answered him, he didn’t just take what I told him and relayed that, instead he seems to have re-interpreted it and so a few minutes later I got a call that I should never have gotten.

I don’t know what the call was about, it was a work matter way after work hours, but the fact that that person was calling me means that somewhere, someone took what I said and turned it into ammunition for their own issues.

And so, I’m going to have to deal with that on Monday.

 

But onto the ideas part of this post. A couple of fairly intelligent people close to me recently lost their jobs. Due to this they now have a lot of time.

This morning I thought of something that for some reason hadn’t occurred to me before. Between the two of them they could quite easily make a PC game with a little guidance. They have the patience and intelligence and attention to detail required, and one of them has the skills to actually guide the process.

If I do manage to convince them to consider it, I’ll keep you all updated ๐Ÿ˜›

Anger

This is a difficult post to write for a few reasons. First off, my current physical state. I’m trying to focus but an unable, my head feels like it’s swimming, my hearing is muted somehow and I feel just generally ill. There are any number of things that could be causing it but I suspect no matter what explanations I might find for myself, none of them are actually going to be accurate.

Or at least, none of the ones I would be easily willing to admit to would be accurate.

I think the truth is that my physical state is a side effect of the heading. Tonight has been odd in that it started high and I’ve been dragged low by three people in three different ways.

The first person just doesn’t listen. Their enthusiasm leads them to ignore anything outside of a perfect situation as far as their subject of discussion is concerned. This person and I are working on a project together but it often feels like I’m the retarded sidekick who can’t get anything right. I don’t know if it’s because of the way he views me, or because he doesn’t understand, but he seems to expect me to just be able to do some of the things he can right off the bat even though it took him weeks and months to perfect what he is wanting me to try.

The second person is non-committal, putting no effort into the conversation at all. One word answers, short phrases that actually don’t mean anything and responses that seem completely dismissive are categorising that conversation. It makes me feel like I’m in the way and unwanted. I know it’s not the case but how else am I supposed to read it.

The final person has actually hurt me. We were discussing a topic that I’ll admit was not an entirely pleasant one. This person is someone who I trust to be honest with me, who I trust to talk things through with me.

Instead they snapped at me and then turned to self-deprecation. Although I know that the latter is not meant the way it’s coming across I still feel the passive aggressive side of it. The statements that are my own words twisted and turned back to stab me with.

And the part the drives me to anger even when it’s not on a bad night. I can’t stand when people run away, whether physically or mentally or emotionally. It drives me insane. Face your problems, don’t run. If you run, they’re still there and all it’s doing is tiring you out while the problem grows stronger.

And don’t ever run from me.

Running from me means that I’m the problem. And that kills me. Running from me hurts like nothing else in my life and when that much pain drives itself into me I don’t react well, I react like anyone would when they’re cornered and alone and afraid. Everything coalesces into anger and action.

Tonight I stopped the second one, and I dampened the first. The person who did this to me is too important for me to allow my own stupid instincts to ruin, so I bit back and focused on this so that maybe I can show it to them and they can understand.

I want to break the habit and turn it into something good.
Even if that means dealing with the pain.

Habits, Deliveries, Leave and Apps

Let’s begin with Apps. Recently I’ve been spending time doing things other than mobile gaming. Since I upgraded my PC the amount of time available for other things has drastically dropped.

Despite this development I’ve found myself hanging on to certain mobile apps that I really enjoyed, one in particular being King of Thieves. I love the game and the concept, and for the many months I played it was amazing.

But towards the higher levels you hit a plateau where, although it is possible to progress without payment, it require a large amount of time in order to perfect certain techniques needed to get through the later dungeons.

This time can’t be spread out over weeks or months and so I slowly lost touch with the game. But I’ve kept it on my phone.

This last week I had been inactive long enough for me to lose control of the guild I ran. Now, although running a guild doesn’t take much (or anything at all) it was still something keeping me in the game. With this loss, I feel like I might finally be able to remove the app.

Onto leave. I’m on leave at the moment for a week. Or at least I am in theory.

The reason I say this is because despite this fact I have had numerous work things to do today, things that I shouldn’t be having to deal with. Phone calls from people who have my work number but for some reason call my personal number. I’m honestly not sure why they don’t call the office but I haven’t answered their calls because I’m on leave.

The other thing that interrupted my leave was a problem where the buck was passed away from the person who should actually be fixing it. Now I don’t understand whether this was intentional on her part, or whether it was a side-effect of the people who were supposed to be informing her of the problem just not doing so.

It’s annoying because this particular problem is not actually something that I’m likely to be able to fix without hours of work.

And I have this horrendous feeling I’m going to be asked to come in tomorrow to do exactly that.

Deliveries. This one is a far more positive subject than those above. It concerns the girl I’m now dating. Today I drove her to her nanna’s house, three hours away. It’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but it was me doing something I enjoyed with someone I like and it ended up being one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while, despite all the wonderful activities that I’m involved in in various places and with various people.

And finally habits.

A while ago I found an app that allowed you to create a RPG out of your life. I ignored it. More recently I had something asked of me and I thought of that app as the perfect solution to the problem.

So I looked into it. And it was okay, but lacked features that I needed. So I looked around.

And found Habitica

I have been using the app for a couple of days now, and this blog post is actually a result of that use. I’ve set myself certain goals so far as habits are concerned, and custom daily tasks that allow me to push myself into doing things like writing (both my fiction as well as these posts or letters or whatever else). So far it’s worked wonderfully and it’s been a really fun experience to set up.

Hopefully I manage to stick to it because if I do, it means I’ll start to write the space story again, and once that’s going I can look at posting it up here.

Here’s to hoping.

Loss and definitions

So, loss first. Over the past couple of months my life has been going through a sort of spring cleaning. A number of people have exited out of it and for the most part I’m a fair amount better for it.

But there are a couple of people who have left that I thought more of. I believed that no matter what they would still be around. And the reasons they left seem almost trivial to me.

Now, I know that those reasons are not trivial, I am not in any way saying that they don’t have a good reason or that they should not have left. It might have been important to them, it may have been absolutely necessary for reasons beyond what I was privy to, but to me it seems random and unnecessary and in one case hurtful (not that the other case didn’t hurt but that’s because of the loss, not the way it was done.)

The first of those losses I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken of before, a friend who wanted more and who constantly pushed for it even though we had agreed that it wouldn’t happen.
The other I haven’t spoken about recently. In that case it was also because of wanting more that things deteriorated, but in this case we had agreed it wasn’t going to work, at least not in the situations that we were in. And so I thought that we were moving on.

And so I did.

And then that person removed themselves from my life.

It’s a loss that I suspected might come, but it didn’t make it any easier to deal with and I think it might have been one of the things holding me back of late, preventing me from focusing on writing and the like. Keeping me binge watching Criminal Minds and playing stupid games instead of the things that I really want to be doing or playing.

I’ll admit though, the binge watching hasn’t been so bad.

 

Onto the next topic, definitions.

Recently there have been a number of people on social media in South Africa saying stupid things like Colonialism is a good thing because of (insert reason here). First off, there are a number of things that annoy me about the outcry around all of this, and in many cases I’m pretty understanding of both sides.

In some cases I feel like things are taken out of context and then turned on the people in question, the hyper-sensitivity causing an outcry over a message that has been twisted to suit a certain narrative.

In other cases I feel like people are being truly bigoted and purposefully trying to cause hurt and hate around them.

And then in others I feel like people are being ignorant.

Right, here goes me actually weighing in on something.

Recently Helen Zille made a statement seemingly defending colonialism. She said a number of short-sighted and honestly stupid things about the country, distancing herself from the people she clearly is supposed to be a part of. The article I read was fairly scathing of her, and I think rightfully so, but the comments were mostly either apologetic of her, listing all the things she did in the apartheid era, or otherwise defensive with the whole ‘it’s a problem because she’s white’ line.

Now, the point she was trying to make was that good things came of Colonialism. I feel that yes, there were side effects that were not bad, the ones that she mentioned.

However, that was not colonialism. That was scientific progress.

Colonialism, in my view, is the subjugation of nations by another. Subjugation in any form is not something to be applauded.

Scientific Progress is self explanatory and we see it every day. The computers we work on, the TVs we buy, the mobile networks we use, the medicines we take… all of those things are scientific progress, and we did not need colonialism to get the latest gadgets.

Humanity is about experimentation. Through experimentation we have arrived at systems that work, constitutions, judiciary systems and the like all had a number of iterations before they arrived where they are today. Yes, colonialism spread the systems we now take for granted but it was not necessary. In the end, seeing something working and working well for someone else leads to us trying the same and if it works great, if it doesn’t, adapt or find something different. Again, it’s how people work.

So although her point of ‘Colonialism brought these things to South Africa’ stands, it is not a point that can be used to defend the horrors that are colonialism in general.

Anyway, there’s my little political rant ๐Ÿ˜›

Comments and debate are always welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

Limbo

So, this post is actually not about being in limbo, it’s more about getting out of it.

First off there is of course the void that The Fallen has left. Without that to write and to focus on I’ve been drifting between a number of other things, toying with the ideas behind a couple of other stories. They haven’t progressed well.

What I figured out though is that I think they haven’t been progressing because whenever I write I listen to music, and the music I’ve been listening to has been wrong for those stories.

What makes that problem difficult to rectify is the fact that I have no idea where to even begin to look for the right type of music, partly because I don’t know what the right type actually is. I spent a couple of hours last night looking and found nothing.

But that doesn’t mean that I’ve given up. Once I find the correct tone in something that I can listen to I’m sure things will flow from there.

 

On to my second limbo escape, I’ve started ‘dating’ someone. We met ages ago and we’ve been talking for quite a while. A couple of months ago I started to realise that there might have been more to it than there had at first seemed.

And a couple of weeks ago I found out that it was mutual.

This means that for the first time in a long time I’m in a relationship, and what’s more it’s one of the healthiest ones I’ve ever been in. But it comes with a threat.

In two, maybe three months she leaves the country.

Now, I’ve done distance relationships before, they’re not as terrible and terrifying as they may seem, but that last one destroyed a lot of people and in the end I was a victim of it as well.

The other worry is that she was away for a week this week, and although there was not much difference in how often we could see each other, just knowing that she was out of reach made a huge difference in how it felt. The worry I have is what will happen when she’s half way around the world and it won’t just be for the week?

Nevertheless as I said above, this feels healthy, and right now I desperately need that.

Anyway, short post tonight, hopefully I’ll get back into it properly once my mind recovers from the burnout I’m facing but if not, I’ll be trying to keep this going as long as I can.

The Fallen, etc…

Right, today’s post might be a little longer than usual, it’s been a while since I wrote and there are a fair few things that I’ve wanted to write about. First up, I’ve finished writing the Fallen, and ahead of schedule as well, so at the end of this post will be the links to the full first draft. From here on it’s edits and refinements and expansions and so on. The real work starts now.

And now on the etc…

First off, a friend of mine has gotten herself into a situation where a few people have decided that she’s not actually just a friend. This has led to a couple of awkward situations thanks to the fact that she does actually have someone in that role and so she’s had to deal with expectations that she could not possibly fulfil.

This situation has led me to look at a few of my own interactions with people. And what I found there was quite a shock.

Now, I’ve always had an issue where I often assume more than there actually is, and this might very well just be an extension of that, but a few people who I have dealings with have shown signs of a similar expectation of me, and a couple of comments that have come out over the last couple of weeks are now seeming more ominous than they should.

I’m hoping that I’m over-reacting, or otherwise creating these situations in my mind so it doesn’t feel left out, but if I’m not I have to be wary because many of the people in question have good reasons why I should not be involved with them. Or rather, I’ve created good reasons.

Next, I’ve been gaming a lot lately and I’ve discovered a few things about myself. First off, I battle to stick to one game for long. This is something I’ve always known but I think there are a couple of reasons for it. I find I spend longer in games that have truly fantastical settings, and even longer in games with an open world element to those settings.

Games with closed stages I don’t play for long at all, and games in realistic settings, even those with large open worlds, I tend to play for shorter periods of time. One of these games was Fallout 4.

It’s an amazing setting with a great open world, but it’s semi-realistic. I found that despite the RPG element I got bored fairly quickly. I wasn’t sure why and I’ll probably go back but today I think I’ve made progress figuring out why.

I’ve been playing Ghost Recon Wildlands over the last couple of days in the open beta. Now, ignoring the little bits of the game that are broken and the atrocious vehicle physics (which were actually a source of more hilarity than frustration) I found that I felt alone in the world. Sure, I had three squad members with me, and there were pockets of enemies everywhere, the world was lifeless and bland and scripted.

((Full disclaimer here, I love the game and if it weren’t for being a little cash strapped I would have pre-ordered it))

Now one might say that Fallout is not the same, that there are many random events going on all over the map and sure, that is true. Patrols, random encounters with quest givers and a dog all make the world feel more alive, but still it always felt scripted. There was always a situation to be resolved and it was always fairly predictable. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it makes the world feel rigid.

So I looked at other games, ones that I played for ages. Skyrim and Dragon’s Dogma were the two that I looked at. Skyrim is a giant open world in a fantasy setting so it doesn’t ever feel too realistic. It has random encounters and lots of interesting things to explore and although the side quests tend to be pretty repetitive RPG standards, there was always more to them, a level of writing absent in most other games. Skyrim also had encounters spaced so that you often came across factions fighting or villages being attacked or that sort of thing. And with the modding in of civil war battles it had a lot of promise (before my old computer stopped being able to play it ๐Ÿ˜› )

With Dragon’s Dogma it was different. Again an open world, but this one was smaller and slightly less open. It also had various different regions that had to be loaded. But the world was more alive. You couldn’t go anywhere without running into something, and even once I had levelled up so far that nothing was strong enough to face me I kept running through the standard game, start to finish without switching to hard mode, because there still felt like there was so much life in the world.

Which comes to board gaming. Board gaming is fun because of a number of reasons. First off, no scripting. Generally everything happens organically because of the players or the rules of the game. There are often no real ‘set pieces’ that you come across. Even in board games that have set pieces in general, you normally don’t come across the same ones in the same order more than once.

And then tabletop gaming and pen and paper RPGs add more complexity to physically playing nerd games. The only problem is the social aspect. You have to have someone to play with and most of the time at least two other people. This is frustrating when peoples’ schedules don’t line up, or a couple of the people involved keep backing out at the last minute.

Of course then there are physical activities as well. Things like Judo, Ju Jutsu, Bumper Soccer and the standard sports (cricket, rugby, soccer and so on) which are amazing fun or horrible torture depending on a number of things, normally again related to those you are playing with at whatever event it is.

Onto other things, I’m writing a new story now. It’s progressing at a snail’s pace but it’s progressing. I do not know whether I will actually post it as well, at least not until the Fallen is in its final form, but I will find out tonight whether I should or not. I have someone that can advise me ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, here are the links to the full first draft of the Fallen. Hope you all enjoy it and I look forward to hearing feedback of any form.

EDIT: I’m also looking to get a cover for at the very least the kindle version so if anyone would like to submit something I would be happy to see it. Just throw a link into the comments.

The link:

PDF, Kindle, ePub

And as before, my email address is on the about page if you’d like to donate to me.