Monthly Archives: July 2012

Housesitting, day two…

And thus I find myself at the end of the second day minus two people, one bag of used kitty litter, and a fuck-ton of weeds. I must say that this gig is fairly easy; get up, shower, do stuff, chill at my computer (still sadly without Internet), and then go to sleep. The animals are fed, the plants are watered, and as I’ve said before, the weeds are demolished with no remorse. I suppose I could’ve finished the job faster had I used the weedwhacker in the garage, but given that my proficiency with that powertool is non-existent, I decided to stick to what I know and yank each and every one out by hand. What doesn’t kill you makes you resent each and every weed for daring to grow in those awful crevices and all that.

So, I started out the day with three people and myself in the house. Now, I’m down to the eldest of the two brothers who is staying here in order to go to some summer school enrichment program, poor lad. Yes, he’s snarky and he’s got one hell of a smartmouth, but he leaves well enough alone if he’s got LittleBigPlanet on, which suits me just fine. My job description said to take care of cats and dogs though, not little boys who feel the need to bash everyone with a frying pan in the game. It’s a shame that the boys’ uncle left, but that can’t be helped; he’s got to go to school too and, really, he’s already done enough by entertaining the lads with Modern Warfare 3 last night.

It not until I’m around pre-teen people that I realize just how old I really am. My idea of a good time is sitting down and reading or sitting down and websurfing or just sitting down. Their idea of fun involved plenty of Nerf guns and the development of an economy to buy even bigger Nerf guns.

…And I just got the internet. Off I go! And remember: passwords are case-sensitive.

[And, just a bit later…]

Watching one of the boys play LittleBigPlanet 2. Kind of reminds me of Terraria, to be honest, or Minecraft. Looks rather interesting, all the same, so I think I’ll play it sometime if I’m able. Maybe then I can give my impressions on it, as I am most likely going to do at a later date. I mean, I can see it’s fun from just watching it, but I don’t feel right until I actually try my hand at it.

Anyway, time for a rousing game of “Get The Kids To Sleep At A Reasonable Time”! So far, it’s 0 for 3, as Matt would rather perfect his factory of sacktoys instead of going to sleep, waving off my requests with one of those “Don’t worry, I’m a professional. I’ve been awake for longer and I’ve woken up on time.” Somehow, I rather doubt it, but there you are.

Let’s see about the other two lads upstairs, who are busily killing each other in Halo… Well, they’re watching cartoons and it’s 9:35 p.m. I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Watch, I go to sleep and they burn down the house-oh, wait, that’s bad.

…I am not going fondly into this good night, am I? Though I desperately want to… I’m gonna get up early in the morning regardless, though the addition of babysitting along with housesitting is, again, not sitting well with me. I feel hoodwinked, conned; there was nothing about taking care of someone’s children in this job description, just cats, plants, and a dog. Is it too late to ask for a raise, I wonder? Or would that be rude, despite the greater rudeness here stemming from a lack of communication? I mean, would it have been too much to say “Oh, by the way, Arlen, we’re gonna leave you and three kids alone in a house chock full of electronics stemming from every socket in the house with no real authority to tell them to bugger off to bed! Now, have fun!” A little heads up would’ve been nice…

Am I bitter? No. Resentful? I suppose. Going to be unable to play with the PS3 because I’m probably going to be a big softie and yield to a thirteen year-old’s whims? Hell fucking yes. I may be crabby, but I am by no means anywhere near evil enough to say “No.” and “Because I said so, now stop watching videos on YouTube and go to sleep!” Surely, they can be responsible for their own well-being. They’re children, not animals!

…And there’s that image of a house again, burnt to a crisp, floating at the periphery of my nightmares. Whatever.

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Housesitting, day one…

[Alright! Today is a very special day, everyone: you’re getting two blog posts from me because 1) I’m housesitting for someone (more on that as you go along and even more, so you can get sick of me whining about it) and 2) I just got the Wi-Fi here to connect to my trusty laptop today. So, without further ado, here’s Day One, which was actually yesterday, but, yeah. Whether it’s the electricity going out or my duties impinging on any and all free time, shit just happens and I will deal with it. Have fun!]

I’ve been out of touch with my blog for the past few days, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing. It just means that, if you’re ever to house sit for someone, make sure that 1) the fridge is stocked, 2) someone who knows what the hell they’re doing is available at all times, and 3) the internet is actually up and running. Still, it’s not like it’s a bad thing that I was offline for a while; to tell the truth, I felt a bit of Net fatigue setting in.

What is Net fatigue, other than a phrase that I’m hoping to coin (Anybody? No? Okay.)? I suppose I can describe it as the feeling that the boundless information superhighway is actually getting stale and boring. Those sites that you always go to can’t seem to update fast enough and whatever goes up just elicits a “Meh, that’s nothing new” response. I suppose that’s because I’ve been pretty much wired to my laptop for the past few months or so, eager to remain connected to everyone from school, from work, from battles waged in various MMOs and guilds that were joined on a whim.

Side note: If you do join a guild, make sure you’re actively involved. I got booted from my guild on Dungeons and Dragons Online because I forgot to log in for two weeks. Okay, so I didn’t exactly “forget”, I just got stuck and decided to leave the game alone for awhile. I tend to do that more often than I’d like, but there you are.

Anyway, I’m writing this well before I’m going to post it. It’s actually the end of my first day of housesitting and, as I’ve mentioned before, there is no internet. There’s a router, there’s electricity (finally), and there’s the home computer hooked up to the interwebs. As for my laptop, the intruder in this home network, it has effectively been blocked from everything. I have the password straight from my boss, but it is to no avail. No matter, I will tinker with it tomorrow (oh, gods, I’m getting my tenses all mixed up…) and, if all else fails, I think I can use the home PC’s ethernet cable to get something going.

But will I have enough time to even go online? I have much to distract myself here: a big TV, a fully stocked fridge, weeds to pull, grass to cut, an entire house to clean. I know half the stuff I mentioned were chores, but I’ve grown rather fond of having stuff to do, I suppose. But that’s for another post.

So, Internet. Useful, necessary in today’s society. Pretty freakin’ sweet distractor of all. Is it absolutely essential? Well, no, but I’d rather like to have access to it.

Now, off to try and find something to do, though I don’t like my options. Either a) I play maid and clean up the place, b) I go outside and play gardener and go yank weeds, or c) I play LittleBigPlanet with people that obviously know what the hell they’re doing already. Decisions, decisions…

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My taste in music is…

In a word: eclectic. And no, I’m not going for the “I knew about this band/artist/song WAY before any of you losers” merit badge ’cause chances are that I started liking the music I do because of other people’s recommendations. So, maybe “eclectic” isn’t the right word. How about “like a gumball” or like a katamari?

Take jazz, for example. I started listening to it in high school because I joined the jazz ensemble. Can’t remember why I joined the ensemble though, something about the director needing trombones and me needing to look good for the director ’cause he was hot and I had quite the crush on him or something. But I grew to like that particular genre of music because I was playing it and our director recommended listening to it if we could. I’m not sure if I was any good at it and I was never too fond of improvising when solo time came around, but it’s stuck with me ever since. I may not be a jazz encyclopedia or anything, able to rattle off songs by a certain such-and-such individual or whatever, but I know what I like. There’s something about an upright bass, a lively piano, and the constant brushing of a cymbal that cannot be denied… And then there’s the brass section, adding both depth and breadth to the piece… Wonderful.

It’s the same for one genre that I never thought I’d grow to tolerate, dare I say grow slightly fond of: country. Yes, I was one of those that would react horribly, shuddering on command at the mention of beer and achey breakey hearts. But last year, my roommate would listen to it whenever she was studying and, being in the zone studying or doing something, I’d just sit there and listen. Again, there are some songs that make me cringe at their lyrics, but I find myself shutting them out and just enjoying the twang of the guitar in those instances. It’s not like all country songs are about rain and whiskey or finding tractors to be sexy, after all.

And then there are those songs that I began listening to because of the people that surround me. From there (thanks to websites like Pandora and Spotify), I’ve found artists that create music that I find resonates with me. I branch out further and further from the seeds and find music that makes me feel, which is probably the most important quality that I’m looking for in my tunes. Above anything else, above even understanding what the lyrics mean or what kind of genre the song finds itself in, if a certain song can make me feel in a certain way at a certain time, then odds are good that I’ll like it and add it to my music library. As a result, shuffling through my tracks will unearth some things that I’ve added a long time ago and then forgotten, artists that I like but haven’t really “followed” religiously. The result is usually rapture as I go through my collection, occasionally thinking back to the time that I added this track or another.

I suppose if I had to sum up my tastes in a phrase, it’d be something like “They’re my feelings and I’ll play them if I want to.” Does that make sense?

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It’s not so much dieting…

As it is “nutritional micromanagement”. It sounds like a pain in the ass to write down everything you eat, but eventually you can become accustomed to doing so. Yes, it may make other people who are eating with you uncomfortable and want to punch you in the face, but that’s usually only if you happen to point out what they’re eating as well.

I’ve gotta be honest: when I first started counting calories, I was a total snob. I was the person that you didn’t want to eat with for a while. I’d say things like “You’re gonna eat that? You sure? Okay, well, you eat the 450 calorie pizza slice and I’ll have the 240 calorie salad.” I’d show off my iPod touch and the apps that I entered my calories into. Keep in mind that this was well before there were any visible signs of progress, which probably made me come off as insufferable and a hypocrite. But it’s not like I wanted to make anybody feel awful about themselves. I suppose I’d have to chalk it up to the novelty of it. It was something new and different and I wanted everyone to know about what I was doing. I wanted praise.

But then I got comfortable. I can blame my mother’s cooking all I want, but in the end, it’s me reaching for the fork. I suppose that’s why my progress lately has slowed to a crawl. I’ve been showered with praise lately for how far I’ve come, so I’ve gotten comfortable again. In addition to the hormonal changes that young women are heir to, I’ve seemingly ballooned up quite a few pounds in the past couple months. I know that there’s really no “deadline”; fitness is for life, which is probably why people get dismayed so easily. A lifetime just seems like forever. And I’m well aware that my fitness overall is not entirely dependent on my weight. Still, it’s infuriating and I find me kicking myself for slip-ups more often than not.

So, what am I doing now? Still counting calories, only trying to keep calm when my day’s intake adds up to more than 1,200. On average, I’m probably comsuming roughly 1,400 or so, just 200 above the generic minimum. Really, all I need to do is tear myself away from my laptop and the Internet for maybe an hour and just take a walk every day. It’d do both my mind and body some good.

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Here’s the thing about Torn…

So, I’ve been playing this text-based RPG called Torn for about a couple weeks now. Or at least I think it’s been that long; they’ve taken away those handy dandy checkmarks next to the crimes that I can pull off successfully a long time ago, which is the equivalent of removing training wheels off of a bike I suppose. How did I find myself playing this game anyway? The answer: my brother-in-law needed an employee for his budding business venture and I figured “Why not? It’s not like I have anything else to do during the summer.”

But this game…I’ve got to admit, it’s rather amusing even when you find yourself in jail for a botched robbery and you run out of Nerve so you can’t escape. I didn’t expect to find myself playing it so avidly, waiting for my resources to replenish so that I could go back to the City Dump and pick at it. Seriously, I’ve found some pretty valuable things in that place, which I’ve then sold at a ridiculously high price in the Item Market. You’d be surprised at how high a Box of Tissues or a Soap on a Rope can go for when the city shops sell them for way cheaper. Then again, at least from what I’ve observed, players tend to accumulate funds rather quickly, a billion being seen as chump change to veterans. So maybe someone is buying all of that trash, going to the Dump, and trashing it again because they’re bored? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

I got married in-game to someone that I’ve never met a few days ago, if only because of the merits. Yes, there is a merit for staying “married” to someone without divorcing them. I think the highest is the Triple Platinum Anniversary, given to couples who have managed to remain together for 2,000 days. Not accounting for leap years, that’s just a little shy of five and a half years. I would’ve said “No”, as I don’t like using people as a means to an end, but they did propose with a diamond ring. Also, they’re pretty low-level too, I liked their profile picture, and I figured “Why not? It’s not like we’re really married.” Perhaps I should’ve sent them a message asking what their ultimate goal was for this relationship, but it’s a game. Given that I’ve invested 100K in the bank for three months, I guess you can say that I’m already in it for the long run. May as well get some benefits here and there.

I did­ mention that this game runs in real time, right? So if stuff takes a week to get done, like the education courses to improve working stats and confer benefits, it really does take a whole week.
 
Not surprisingly, being “female” in a city that seems to attact “male” players has its perks. I’ve never found myself in jail for too long, even when I was trying to get there on purpose in order to take advantage of the gym in order to raise my defense. People tend to offer me gifts such as flowers and teddy bears. Nevermind that they tend to end up in my stall a few minutes later, as the gesture is really sweet. Naturally, every single one of these perks tends to go away once they look at your profile and see that you’re “married”, but whatever. My spouse just bought and upgraded a mansion, so it’s a nice trade-off in the long run.

And then there’s the people who populate Torn City, your fellow players. It’s not uncommon to receive messages from people you’ve never chatted with at all asking whether or not you want to trade a certain item with them exclusively or join with them on their business ventures. While I normally play my games solo, I find myself interacting if only to not get mugged for ignoring their message or for coming across as a jerk or an ice queen. And, again, the only pictures you see are those that they’ve uploaded, which tend to be anime-style avatars that they could only wish they were. For example, my husband (damn, that sounds weird coming from me), while his gender is “male”, has an angel girl as his profile picture. That’s probably why I married him, to be honest; our profiles were similar.

I still haven’t gotten into the Stock Market, as buying a ticker is beyond my means at the moment, but that seems to be more mid-game anyway. As for the end-game, it’s basically get to Level 100. That doesn’t sound like much of a goal, except that the experience bar is invisible and you never know when you’re gonna level up. I’m pretty sure there is at least one player at level 100, but they’re probably like unicorns or something. So, that’s pretty much my goal: become a unicorn, live in a private island (with my spouse, I guess?), and try to not get mugged. All in all, it’s a pretty cool game, though the waiting can be a bit annoying. If you’re looking for something to keep you entertained in the background, try out Torn.

 

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Exercise doesn’t seem worth the trouble…

It really doesn’t. At least until you realize that you are now capable of carrying a five gallon jug of water up a set of shady-as-fuck basement stairs without breaking a sweat. Then, you feel like a beast!

Again, weight-loss is not something that happens overnight. Weight-gain doesn’t happen overnight either. I find it kind of funny how both situations are met with some sort of despair and procrastination as to how to resolve the issue at hand. But once you get started (with the loss, I mean; I can’t imagine why anyone would want to gain weight on purpose. Unless you’re dangerously thin, in which case, please eat a McGangBang or double up on the salad ’cause that’s not much better than weighing more than a baby killer whale.), you begin to notice small, peculiar things that you didn’t bother making a note of before. A perfect example for me would have to be the appearance of my clavicle. I swear, I have never, ever been able to feel this particular bone before. Obviously, it was there the whole time, just hiding beneath the subcutanous fat like everything else, but one day, it seemed to jut out just a bit more than it had before. A couple weeks later and you could faintly see the outline and trace along its curves, maybe even make it more prominent by hunching your shoulders forward enough. Now, it’s there, really and truly there. I still find myself grinning like an idiot when I look in the mirror, feeling for the slight depression just beneath my throat, the raised bumps along my shoulders.

The discovery of thinner fingers and suddenly being able to do that thing where you can clasp both hands over your shoulder and behind your back can say a few things, namely that somewhere deep down, I didn’t like myself as much as I had thought I did before. Maybe I’ve overextrapolated a bit here, but that seems like a reasonable conclusion. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror so I changed it. I didn’t like being painfully aware of weight restrictions and the lack of space around me in crowded areas so I made it in order to not have to be cogniscent of such things anymore. Most of all, I sought to find some sort of redeeming quality in myself and I have; I’ve found that I possess the drive to make a plan and stick to it. I like who I am becoming, this person who is stronger and more capable than before.

Maybe Narcissus wasn’t some completely self-absorbed moron who became a flower because he couldn’t tear himself away from the lake. Maybe it was because he had never really had the means to  look at himself before, like really look, and he actually liked what he saw for once. So, narcissism or self-acceptance?

Of course, self-hatred of any degree doesn’t need to be your motivation for getting on the treadmill and giving it everything you’ve got. For me, it was just the thing to ignite the whole process, a catalyst if you will, but then I became facinated with what I could do now and I kept going. Again, it doesn’t seem worth it, but I exercise because I want to learn more about my body. Getting toned is not so much a primary concern as it is something nice to look at in the mirror.

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I’m not just on WordPress…

Like any other college student nowadays, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, among other websites that I’m sure I’m forgetting. I would be on MySpace, but who the fuck uses MySpace anymore? I had initially made an account at my sister’s behest sometime near the end of my high school career and deleted it a month before I started college. There was, literally, no point in creating that account; I didn’t have internet at home. And even if I did, I’m pretty damn sure I would’ve spent my time on RuneScape, working on my Cooking and Fishing levels instead.

So, MySpace aside, Facebook was my first, non-game-related account where I was expected to interact with people. In college (or at least in my university), everyone has a Facebook account. You find people through Facebook, chat with them, realize that you have similar interests, and, occasionally, creep on people together (protip: setting your pictures to “friends only” will reduce the creep-ability of your profile). Of course, because I was so unused to being online and not playing something, I got sucked into apps like FarmVille and Restaurant City. It certainly didn’t help that nearly everybody else was also into those apps at the time. Eventually, I stopped playing the apps…and then, my university decided that Facebook was too mainstream and shelled out what I’m guessing is a literal ton of money (because they have a tendency to do stuff like that) and got OrgSync. Sadly, nobody cares about OrgSync, it being a thinly veiled Facebook knock-off with a paint job and an even clunkier user interface, something that I didn’t think was possible on the original. Facebook is alright to connect with everyone you want as well as everyone you’d rather not but are forced to accept their request to become “friends” or have to deal with an awkward “well-we-see-each-other-everyday-but-I-don’t-care-for-you-much” situation. It’s even worse in a university where the population is barely in the 1000s, trust me.

But I don’t find myself on Facebook as much anymore and that’s because of Tumblr. I don’t have to be “social” on Tumblr and pester or be pestered as I scroll down the page. I do have a Twitter, but it exists for the same reason that my YouTube channel does: I cannot be bothered to keep track of everything that I like and subscribe to manually. Oddly enough, people follow me in all three mediums even though my Twitter feed is primarily used as a place for me to vent at work if I need it and my YouTube channel has zero original content uploaded. Hell, even my Tumblr isn’t “original”; I just reblog things that I like and only very rarely do I write something (and when I do, I feel like an attention whore of sorts). I get that it’s a microblog of sorts, but it seems to be more geared towards pictures and videos, as well as clipped commentaries if you can manage to keep it short enough so that the actual entry doesn’t seem too long. I don’t know, I feel that if I’m going to write something, it’s going to be long, rambly, and it’s going to need a traditional blog format. I don’t do “short” and “not convoluted” and Tumblr’s system does not suit my needs in this area. There are plenty of cats and other sorts of things that get me fangirling, but alas it is not suited to my prose.

It’s already been a week since I’ve made this blog. I didn’t plan to be writing anything this summer, but I’m already glad that I’ve started this venture and I’m rather curious as to how far I’m going to go here. Maybe I’ll be followed, maybe it’ll be like speaking to a wall. Either way, I’m just gonna keep on keeping on.

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