Midweek drabbles, or drabbles, indeed!

But not really. I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s only halfway past the second week of the new semester and everything’s already picking up. Not that I mind it in the least; being busy is almost always better than being idle for me. It’s not like I didn’t have anything to do during Winter Break, but I certainly missed hanging out with everyone.

Anyway, there’s not much to say other than I’ve already decided on someone for my biography project for PACS 3, I’m still doing research (though it’s admittedly taken a bit of a backseat so far), and having two classes that are basically the same thing has not yet proven to be utterly detrimental. Again, the key word is “yet”. I do love my Biochem Lab course because it’s pretty much research only with way more handholding and less freedom of movement. Seriously, there are about twenty-four people in there and only six micropipettes.

Crowded conditions aside, everything’s been going well. Already finished one pay period, which is weird. You know when you first go to college and the upperclassmen all tell you something to the tune of “Treasure your time here! It’s gonna go by fast!” but you just laugh at them because they’re old(er) and must be joking? They’re not. They’re not and it’s very, very unnerving. Three and a half months left, y’all. That’s no joke.

I’m trying to keep myself writing. I’m not writing poetry, but this is really a “drabble” in the sense that I’m actually timing myself and just writing whatever comes to mind. It’s nice, relaxing, but it usually ends up with me writing about writing as opposed to writing something substantial. It’s actually been awhile since I’ve written anything like a haiku or even a quartet. Doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about it; I’m just moving too fast to take a minute and write it down. But oh well.

So what else has been going on? Not much. Clubs have, of course, started back in in earnest now, with Matsuri-Japan having their usual meeting at night. At least it’s not as bad as last semester, where I had a class at 8 am the next day, so I can stay up relatively late and just wake up at 7 or so in the morning. Any later and I tend to feel a bit groggy. 

What else? I started playing a new game called Elsword. I had my initial misgivings but they were quickly dispelled once I started actually playing. Sometimes the servers are too busy, but at least I can make use of my gamepad, something I haven’t encountered too often in free MMOs so far. While I can create multiple characters (and, really, I most likely will), I’m focusing everything I’ve got into Raven, the broody swordsman with a mechanical arm. So, each character has two paths they can travel down in terms of skills once you reach a certain level and complete the quests to unlock one or the other. Raven being Raven, you can either focus on a build that makes use of your Nasod arm as an Over Taker or you can choose to emphasize your swordplay combos and become a Sword Taker. I had no idea what either of these classes did and, frankly, I’m not interested in making the “best” build. I went down the path of the Sword Taker mainly because I liked Raven’s hair in that character design, sleek with a spiked fringe. From what I’ve read on forums online, Raven’s Reckless Fist (the master class after Over Taker) is more powerful in terms of skills while Blade Master (which would be the master class for Sword Taker) is okay, but you need to know your combos cold. While button-mashing does seem to work, you won’t be able to unleash hell on your foes if you can’t execute combo chains effectively. I’m usually not one for playing fighting games strategically, but I find that Elsword makes it really easy to learn what works and what doesn’t. Now I’m just wondering if it’s enough to actually beat other people in the PvP Arenas. Might as well try it, right?

I’ve been on a bit of a gaming kick as of late, something that I had not realized the extent of until I scoured my computer and rediscovered the HP Game Console. Now, WildTangent doesn’t have many games that I actually like but it does have Fate: Undiscovered Realms, a dungeon-crawling RPG that I find myself comparing to Diablo. I had forgotten that I still had a free trial of that and I had played Fate before, made a character and everything but just forgot it because I had the Internet. So, I was playing for a bit and found myself getting sad as the time for me to stop playing because you know what? I got some pretty good gear while fishing! Screw going into the dungeon; I died twice while taking on some mobs with super-powered mini-bosses and didn’t really get much in the way of gold and gear for my trouble. Maybe that’s because I was a textbook good guy and returned it to the people who had asked me to go down there and retrieve it for them as a quest. But yeah, fishing. Those fish sold for a lot; all of my catch plus the two artifacts that I chose not to keep (I was playing a Sword and Shield-based character and I had found a light crossbow and a shield that was slightly shittier than the one I had equipped) got me enough gold to not only enchant my equipment but to buy six Healing Charms (equivalent to 48 large Health Potions). But it doesn’t even matter, as I’ve used up my free trial already and I’m not looking to buy the full version at the moment. I’ve got more than enough games that I’ve yet to finish, thank you!

Crap, it’s already Thursday. This should be enough ’til Sunday, right? Right. See ya!


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Midweek drabbles, or here! Have some fiction!

    “Damn,” Alice swore under her breath. She then mentally chastised herself; she was back in the apartment, after all, and Karen didn’t like it when she used curse words. So Alice was more than careful when using them, at least back home; she made sure to swear all she liked when she was in her laboratory and in the lecture hall, much to her students’ amusement. “Honey, I got the groceries you wanted!”
    “Oh, yay!” A crystalline voice came from the bedroom, followed soon after by the appearance of a blonde woman, all smiles as she beheld her lover. Karen rushed over to where Alice was shedding her coat and picked up a few of the bags that were on the floor. She then, rather than make for the kitchen to put away the perishables, cocked an eyebrow at the tall brunette. “You alright there?”
    “What?” Alice stopped rolling her shoulders, a motion that had become a sort of habit more so these days. The aches were probably due to her increased lab work; Alice had a deadline to meet soon and, rather than do the sensible thing and delegate the work to one of her various underlings, she had decided to run the experiment herself. She had figured that it would be good for her to actually do something in the lab for once, to get in there and tinker around with the chemicals and the instruments much like she used to back in her undergraduate days. Unfortunately for the thirty-five year old, she wasn’t as spry as she used to be. Sure, Alice was still the spitting image of fitness; much of that was due to her better half. But the delicate actions of her work, along with the usual stresses of giving lectures, grading papers, and writing grant proposals, was certainly taking it’s toll. But she couldn’t tell that to Karen, now could she? “I’m fine, love.”
    Karen looked unconvinced, but said nothing. She leaned in to give Alice a quick peck on the cheek. Lifting the bags, she headed towards the kitchen. “Just bring them over to the kitchen, hun. I’ll put everything away so you can get comfortable.”
    “You sure?”
    “Yeah!” The voice in the steel-encrusted kitchen rang out, “And I don’t want to see you on the desk grading papers! There’s plenty of time for that later!”
    Alice chuckled. “Never crossed my mind.” She took off her shoes and hung her coat on the rack near the door. The wooden rack was Karen’s idea; at first, Alice had wrinkled her nose at it, seeing it as just a bit old fashioned in this tastefully modern house, but she just couldn’t deny Karen. Ever. Her impossibly blue eyes, her intoxicating smile…Alice couldn’t help but sigh happily.
    “Hm?” Karen, catching the sigh escaping her lover, raised an eyebrow again. Alice snapped back to reality, smiling and shaking her head. She then crossed to where Karen was standing with the loaf of bread in her hands and, taking her by the hips, gave her a slow, sweet kiss. Karen returned it with more than enough sweetness of her own before cutting Alice off gently. “Change first. Get nice and comfy. Then we’ll see what to do with you…”
    “Oh, you tease, milady. But how I love it so!” They both laughed. Alice deposited the last of the groceries onto the table and finally made her way to the bedroom they shared. It was fairly spacious for an apartment; their salaries combined were more than enough to afford the rent in this almost-palace of a place. It was a two bedroom, one bath set-up with the second, smaller bedroom converted into a study that they both shared. Alice’s tastes could be seen everywhere in the study, the obligatory professorial mahogany present in spades. But Karen dominated just how the bedroom would look; she had insisted on the big bed, the cherrywood with an ebony finish for the furniture. Thankfully, the two had very similar tastes to begin with, so the decor was hardly a point for contention. It just meant that, should the worst come to worse and storm clouds were on the horizon on a particular day, Karen would head into the bedroom while Alice would set up camp in the den. It happens to the best of married couples.
    Alice headed into the bedroom and shut the door before gratefully shedding her shirt and pants. She padded over to the dresser on stockinged feet and pulled out her usual pajamas, an old, oversized T-shirt and a pair of black basketball shorts. She then stepped back out (after putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, of course, as she was the stickler in that arena) and went to the bathroom to rid herself of her contact lenses. While Karen had raised the point about just getting Lasik and being done with the little pieces of plastic, Alice had made noncomittal noises and promises to look into it. There was a note about getting that done sometime within the year somewhere in her planner maybe. Alice wasn’t quite sure.
    Just as Alice finished washing up, she caught a whiff of meatloaf. “Ohhh,” Alice strode into the kitchen just in time to see Karen bent over, checking on the source of that wonderful aroma. Her face was just a bit flushed, most likely from the dry heat coming from the innards of the oven, but Alice couldn’t help sidling up beside the shorter woman and kissing her again. “All that for me?” She loved how her murmurring into Karen’s ears sent a shiver up her spine and made her arch back into her embrace.
    “Not all of it,” Karen teased the brunette. “Gotta save room for dessert.” She motioned towards the refrigerator, which couldn’t help but pique Alice’s curiousity. When she strode over and opened the door, she was greeted with the sight of a cherry-topped cheesecake that looked just like the ones her mom used to make. Karen added, “Finally got the recipe from your mom. I think she’s finally cool with it.”
    “You think?” Alice turned back to the blonde, who was smiling serenely. “Wow…well. Now we definitely have to have her over one of these days.” They both laughed and then headed to the table.

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‘Cause everyone loves a good power play…

Oh, wait a minute. No!

But before I start in on this most egregious of things to happen yesterday at work, Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping that 2013 will be filled with less of the crap that 2012 brought along with it. Or we can do what people with rational minds do and try to make things better regardless of whatever year we happen to find ourselves in. But yeah, back to the power play thing…

So, I was working at the campus grocery store, as I am wont to do in order to get some of that work-study money. I sometimes think to myself that it would be much more helpful if the feds just paid me the allotted amount upfront but then I take a look at my bank statements and my spending habits and quickly go “Never mind, then. Carry on.” Again, it’s an alright job; lots of movement back and forth so I can at least be somewhat active, lots of putting things from Room A onto Shelf B, it’s repetitive, it’s relatively stress-free as I don’t have to think too hard, and it’s basically a very, very blue collar job, one that someone with a high school diploma could easily expect to do for the rest of their lives. Or at least until the manager shoves off, but that requires a bit of something that is not really “taught” so much as “acquired through other means”. The point is that my job is fairly basic. I know all too well where I stand in the world and that’s alright. It’s not like I’m planning on being a cashier/stocker (or “merchandiser”, as my boss put it) for the rest of my life.

But, of course, what would a Sunday Post be without me bitching about someone who happened to waltz into the store while I was working and then proceed to do something stupid? It’s almost as though I can’t go a weekend without someone being so brain-numbingly idiotic that I don’t feel compelled to parse it out here the next day. I’ve come to expect it, actually, as I have nothing else to write about otherwise. But that’s neither here nor there. Let me just lay out this little gem for you, the first moron of the year.

As is the custom of many convenience stores nowadays, we accept major credit cards and cash in addition to the oft used option of the university meal plan. Be it from a credit union or from a national bank of some sort, as long as it’s either Master Card or Visa, you’re good. Not sure why you’d want to spend almost six bucks for a sandwich that was most likely put out a couple days ago, the paper now soggy with condensation, but you can if you’d like. However, if there is any one thing you need to understand about the campus convenience store, it’s simply that we’re geared to provide for students. Students with meal plans…and nothing else, certainly nothing as fancy and outdated as checks.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely correct. We more likely than not do accept checks as a form of payment because they are a legitimate form of payment. We just don’t cash them. I’m sure my manager can give a clearer and more official answer to that question and resolve it more thoroughly but, really, who the hell still uses checks?

The lady that came in yesterday clearly does. Now, she wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination an “old” lady, graying hair and flaccid skin betraying her age despite the nouveau-chic clothes and powdered face. No, she was simply “older”, probably in her early forties and relatively in good health. She came up to me (the only employee in the store at the time) and asked me, straight face and all, if I could cash her a check. She must have registered the look of bewilderment that certainly crossed my face because she repeated herself, “Can I cash a check here?”

“I’m sorry, we don’t cash checks.” A perfectly worded response. Perfect because it’s, y’know, the truth. In my three years of working at the same place under the same boss, we’ve never been trained in the Art of Cashing A Check. Shoot, I’ve just only rediscovered the now Lost Art of Partial Payment; it was damn handy for when people with a little bit of meal plan money left wanted to polish it off and then pay the rest using credit cards or cash, whatever was most convenient for them. Nobody teaches you that and nobody’s bothered telling anyone (or, at the very least, me) what to do if confronted by someone holding a checkbook.

The lady looked put out, shoulders slumping a bit, mouth in a bit of a frown. Here I thought was the end of it, as my word was honest and firm. But that wouldn’t make for a good tale, now would it? Just as I turned to try and diminish the pile of candies obstructing the middle of the floor, the good woman lifts her head once more and utters the most irrelevant thing in this particular situation: “I work in [insert name of very important and obviously administrative building on campus].” I was a bit flabbergasted for a second but then told her no again, in the most PR way as I could manage, pointed her to the nearest ATM, and bid her good day. She left, not without grumbling about missing the film she most wanted to see and quite possibly angered by the very notion that a cheeky cashier had denied her the expediency someone of her “position” so clearly deserves.

Or not. See, there are stupid customers, who are more like jesters to the bored employee, relatively harmless in their stupidity, and then there are people like this lady, who I’m sure is a very upstanding citizen in nearly all respects but just so happens to be a bit full of herself. I spent a good bit of time turning that conversation over and over in my head; it’s something that I tend to do when I’m not thinking of much else. It’s a bit of a problem, actually, over-thinking, but I engage in it anyway because, really, what else am I supposed to do while I’m moving boxes to and fro? So I’m replaying the encounter again and again and I find what exactly bothers me: Why did she mention her position? More to the point, why did she mention her management of the univeristy and then expect me, as a student of said managed university, to magically submit to her command despite the fact that I had denied her previously? Because, if anything, one “no” should’ve been enough. More than enough; I know more about the capabilities of my position, the things that I’m allowed and not allowed to do at the till, than she does. Why? Because it’s my job and I’m a good employee. It was then that two words popped into my head: “power play”.

There is little that irritates me more than when someone uses their relatively higher position to get something that they want, everything else be damned. Truth be told, I would have been more amenable to finding out what the protocol for such a situation actually was had this fine madam wielded her title more like a rapier and less like a hammer. What can I say? I admire finesse and am disgusted by crude and tactless plays in turn, however “efficient” they may be. Again, this lady might as well have been swinging a hammer upside my head, not that it did her much good, but to what purpose, madam? Don’t people who know they’re going to a film festival carry cash with them, or are the so-called elite who actually have time to kill on a Saturday just beyond paper money? I have no sympathy for the unprepared.

Let me just make this abundantly clear: I don’t care who you are or what you do in life, I’m pretty damn aware that I’m like a cockroach compared to you in terms of current occupation because I work a minimum wage job while you have an office and a salary as well as everything else that comes with that. You can use that all you want and try to prod me into falling in line and doing what you say. Go for it, make me fetch stuff from the back, look for something I already know we don’t have, even double-bag your one item just because it comes in a glass container. But if I say we don’t cash checks, we don’t cash fucking checks. Have a nice day.

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If I can, might as well…

It’d be a waste otherwise, right? So, taking my leave from my established loop of playing Runescape/writing stuff/reading Moby Dick, I hooked up my controller to my laptop and fired up Onlive. I think the last time I was playing games via Onlive was sometime in the summer so the Marketplace had a few games that I had only heard of but never actually played for the past six months. More to the point, there were more free trials to check out so check them out I did.

Yes, I’m going to be judging video games based on whether or not they can grab me in the first thirty minutes or not. To my credit, it’s not often I attempt to review things; it’s a nice break from the usual “what’s been going on in my life” posts that seem to dominate this blog. For those interested, nothing has been going on, literally, as I’m still on break. And now, without further ado, here are five games from the Marketplace that had a Free Trial feature for me to try out in no particular order:

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution
Honestly, the only things I knew about Warhammer 40K when I picked it were that there’s a tabletop version of it and that space marines are somehow involved. And that’s pretty much the gist of it, or at least of the prologue mission you can play as a sort of tutorial to how the controls work. Lots of clicking, a few hotkeys, and no use for the controller that I had hooked up to my USB port much to my dismay. I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that the only reason that I had signed up for Onlive was to turn my laptop into a console with a screen; it’s just how I prefer to control things.

Buttons aside, the game seems pretty lore-heavy, something that I expected from a game that’s akin to Baldur’s Gate. No, seriously, this game could’ve been Baldur’s Gate in a different setting with different names for the same thing. Instead of “characters”, you have “units”. Instead of fighting evil, you fight the Chaos Legions or the Orkz. It’s a real-time strategy game and, as my brother-in-law will tell you, I am not a fan. At all. RTS games make me feel a bit too removed from what’s going on ’cause it’s not my ass down on the map getting shot at. It seems perfect for those with a bit of a God Complex, though, so more power to you if you enjoy these kinds of games.

After the fairly linear Prologue and introductory cutscene, I got to choose which faction to play as. Of course, I picked the Eldar, which seem to be some kind of blue-green bird race that will be the “elves” of the universe. Everyone else seemed a bit more cutthroat and absolutely encased in steel armor out the wazoo, giant bodies with all too tiny heads. Is it really any surprise that I chose the slimmer and trimmer faction which also had a female lead character? I was five seconds into the first map when I facepalmed myself; I could have totally passed on the Prologue mission because, surprise, the first map pretty much takes you by the hand and tells you where to go. I’m grateful for the assist, but come on! I could’ve spent those fifteen minutes traversing the icky-looking (though that may have just been my shitty graphics card) marshland I got stuck in.

So, my thirty minutes were parsed out to about 50% Prologue mission, 5% obligatory, unskippable, and incredibly long cutscene that sets the entire universe up, and 45% getting halfway through the map as the blue-green bird people. As I was playing it, I was thinking to myself “I already have Baldur’s Gate and this is pretty much it.” Would I buy it? No. Would I play it again? Maybe with a longer trial period; I have a feeling that this is one of those games that needs to build up a bit of momentum before it can actually entertain. Odds are that it is a good game, but it’s not in my niche. I’m already a bit wary when taking on an RTS but the bulky space marine thing is not for me.

The Darkness II
Guns, demon-like things, and an emo character who has lost the light in his life because he’s a gangster. I don’t mind the mechanic of this first-person shooter so much as its plot because, honestly, what else was I supposed to expect from the flagrant gun-waving the game was showing me in its introduction? I did like how they introduced the game to me, though, via some guy shakily recounting the events of the prequel to me in hushed tones and jerky movements. It was a nice change of pace from the usual majestic and slightly boring way of doing things with the monologue and the panoramic scenes.

The first “level” is, as usual, a how-to-do-stuff routine. You learn the camera control by checking out the chick working the counter, you learn how to fight by getting tossed into the fray, and then the Darkness comes and you have to use it in order to proceed. That being said, the levels begin to turn generic. Run to this spot, killing people on the way, use cover to get around (or not, if there are plenty of car doors), et cetera. Again, plenty of guns, though I found myself sticking mainly to using my demon arms when I got to the subway. While you can dual-wield pistols, which is pretty badass, I was using my bullets to shoot out the lights.

All things being considered, The Darkness II seems to be your average, run-of-the-mill FPS with a bit of a gothic twist. I’ll admit that the story does a lot more for me than the gameplay and those demon powers are pretty freakin’ sweet, but is it enough for me to consider buying the whole game? Not really. If this ever gets made into a (good) movie, I’ll probably watch it, if only to find out what happens to poor Jackie.

Darksiders II
I’m a sucker for role-playing games, especially ones where you get to play as Death and go on a quest to save your brother, War, from a council that is pissed off because humankind was somehow exterminated in the events of Darksiders. I didn’t play Darksiders and, quite frankly, I don’t care what happened. I liked this game because there wasn’t any futzing around with the intro, you just dived into the action, scythes (and hammers, oddly enough) a-whirl.

The first level was fairly linear, with slight puzzle-ish elements tossed in to make travel at least a bit more engaging. I like the aesthetic and I like the combat, though about half of the things that I dodged still managed to freakin’ hit me. Not that it hurt, as I decided to play on the easiest setting (same for all of the other games I’m writing about in this post), but it was still annoying. Here I am, trying to get a combo on War with my attacks and this mofo’s all like “Nope.” and manages to hit me with an AoE sword slash that just juggles me up into the air. I was this close to kicking his butt but then my trial ended and I was left with no satisfying resolution.

Long story short: this is the kind of game that I enjoy. It goes without saying that I would probably buy this and play it, only to get stuck at a much harder level somewhere down the line, stepping away from it for about half a year, and then coming back to it, ready to kick some ass. It’s just fun. That’s all you need to know.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Now, I know that I’ve said that I’m not one for RTS games, but when I saw that Civ V had a free trial, I just had to go for it. Thirty minutes is nowhere near long enough to even begin to explore the game, though, so I had to speed through the (*sigh*) long and obligatory cutscene that establishes what the game is actually about and the starting screen. It looked as though there were a bunch of different settings you could’ve fiddled around with but, as I’m not entirely familiar with any of the previous Civilization games, I left well enough alone and just accepted whatever the computer dished out.

I got to play as Queen Elizabeth, which was pretty neat, although maybe I should’ve at least had a gander at who else I could have played as. I got to meet Prince Darius (who was kind of a prick, truth be told) and Montezuma (nice fellow, though his spearmen were a little too close for comfort), fight off a few barbarians, adopt a policy of liberty, and establish both London and York before my time ran out. Not bad, when you consider that these sorts of games can go on for ages. Still, I fail to see the hype my brother-in-law was drumming up when he was anxiously awaiting the release date. It’s alright, fairly user-friendly, and the graphics are nice and bright. Do I care for the tedium of building cities? Not really; I had my military units constantly on the prowl for more barbarians to kill. Would I play this game in full? Probably not; thirty minutes was already too long, if only because there was nothing else going on. It’s alright, though, all things considered, so it’s not like I hated it.

So, there you go! I saw quite a few other games with free trials to tempt me. And then there was Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Suffice it to say that I won’t be getting near that one with a ten meter pole, thank you very much.

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Midweek drabbles, or “Quickly! ‘Ere the lights go out…”

Exactly what it says on the tin, mate. My uni’s got a planned power outage and, according to the Office of Information Technology, I won’t have network access for a day and a half at the very most. I could’ve done this yesterday evening, sure, but 1) it was Christmas and 2) I rather relish a challenge very much like this to make my creativity spurt out all at once. So, let’s go!

The fluorescence which keeps me sane
is but shadow when compared to you.
I shan’t compare ye to a summer’s day
sunlight’s apex seems yet too blue.
Won’t you tell me, then, most brilliant one
what shadow pervasively clouds your brow?
Were you to smile and insist “None”
I’d think “I’ve made a liar now.”
Multi-sided dice,
Keys to many fantasies.
Where shall I go, then?
What’s the best way to find out if it’s love?
Knit for them. ‘Twill be clear soon enough.
As your fingertips ache, your mind slips away,
A scarf is not a scarf but a test of time.
Can you endure? Would you rather it end?
Purgatory, surely, is a long crafting project
with your only reward a fragile smile.
Cheers to the lonely souls
as we celebrate the holidays,
medicate with food and drink,
and aggravate none, save ourselves.

Cheers to the hopeless ones
as we look to the new year, dewy-eyed,
yet seek to change nothing.
Next year’ll be the same, you know.

Cheers to the stubborn ones,
who also seek constancy.
So long as we’re satisfied
everyone else be damned.

Cheers to everyone, then.

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Sure, it’s the thought that counts…

But I’d still like for my gifts to not be shitty, y’know? Maybe it’s the latent perfectionist coming out of me after a long semester of being less-than-perfect but if I’m going to take the time to make something, it’s gonna be spot on. It just has to be. Of course, this also means that the gift’s going to a very close friend of mine; it’s not like I’m going to expend so much effort (and surprisingly bruised fingers) on something that I’m just going to get a mere acquaintance. I mean, of course I want to get everyone a little something, but I go the extra mile on purpose. I’d like to think that my actions are the one with the bullhorn, not my words.

Maybe it’s just me, but I actually do feel pained when I have to parse out my gift-giving within a certain circle of friends. What do you give someone that you’d rather not be super close to so that there’s no room for ambiguity regarding your particular and slightly dubious friendship? Conversely, does giving someone I like gift upon gift upon gift render my feelings so transparent that they will only ever trespass on the other person’s will? And how about that friend that you’re honestly not totally over but you’ve made peace with the fact that whatever fantasies you can dream up in the middle of the night are nothing but pipe dreams? Just what do you get for them? I have no clue.

Is this gift too showy? Too cheap? Does it look like I stayed up the night before making it or is it peerless in design? Will they ever even use this? Do they happen to have a dozen of these in their possession already? When Christmas rolls around, I can’t help but fret.

But back to the recipients of said gifts. I’m not fond of leaving people out but you know what? I guess it can’t be helped. There are people that I’m more in tune with and there are people who should quit mentioning avocado ice cream because, seriously, a day trip with you, alone and in a city that you happen to know like the back of your hand, is not in the cards. Or a trip to the flea market on a Saturday; I work weekends so that I can have my late weeknights. Or Target. Or the dollar store. Or, basically, anywhere else. Seriously, your persistence is rather legendary, I’ll give you that. Now fuck off. Please.

Unfortunately for me, this person just so happens to run in the same crowd as all the rest of the people I know and like, so I can’t really gift anybody anything there. Maybe if I wasn’t so much of a cheapskate, I’d be a bit more disappointed. But do you know what this means? I can focus on the two gifts that are giving me a bit of a hassle: the gift that goes to The Current Crush and the gift that goes to The Former Crush. I can’t help it! They are both gorgeous in their own way and, dammit, I couldn’t call myself a gentleman of any sort if I didn’t wish them a Happy Holidays, shove my gift into their hands, and then proceed to smile like a doofus while they open it out of a sense of duty. They will be loved, if not by me then by the things I get to appeal to their sense of pleasure.

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother though. I mean, I can fret over whether it’s too much or too little until the cows come home, but that’s not going to change the fact that, to them, I’m just being friendly and nice. It’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong; regardless of how I felt or how I’m feeling, being friends is preferable to the alternative of not knowing of each other’s existence. Never that. But one’s just a little too dense and I can’t even tell what the other’s thinking half the time. There are times that we’re in sync and it’s funny how they happen to get a little freaked out (usually to the tune of “OMG how did you know I was singing that?!”), but neither of them seems to appreciate the depth of my emotions. Given that my emotions are basically a jellyfish, big, transparent, and just kind of floating there, this is a hell of an achievement.

So, where am I drawing this conclusion from anyway? How about Pokemon Day? I had come up with the idea to hand out Pokemon cards and I chanced upon a shiny Milotic while I was opening a bunch of booster packs. It was a pretty card so, naturally, I wanted to give it to someone that I think is pretty. But after going through all of the trouble of separating that card from the rest through devious and clever means, it hit me: she’s probably not going to appreciate it for the meticulously orchestrated event that it is, y’know? To her, it was going to be a product of random chance, not a deliberate attempt both celebrate her own beauty and stroke my implacable ego. So I did the sensible thing and give it to someone who definitely appreciated the effort, effectively scrapping my own designs.

Moral of the story: simply giving things isn’t going to make someone swoon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give anything; if you feel compelled to do so by whatever happens to rule you, then by all means go for it. Just recognize that the recipient may take it as nothing more than a sweet gesture because they can. So, I’m going to give them both something for sure which leaves just one more question: who gets the biggest gift? The person I’ve known longer or the person that I’m in lesbians with in a big, big way?

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Filed under The Sunday Post

Cripes and crackers! The end of the world, you say?

Well, I wasn’t sleeping tonight anyway. Nope, not me. Not with everyone so fervently, adamantly hoping for the world to either end and take us all with it or (the more likely outcome) nothing to happen yet again so that they can have a great big laugh at the expense of everyone who had bug-out bags and canned goods at the ready. As for me, tomorrow’s just another day.

Oh! But then there’s that dinner thing I’m going to! As a reward for all of my hard work dutifully collecting data in the research lab, my grad student is going to take me out to dinner. I believe we’re having Indian and, before you ask, yes, I’ve stocked up on the Pepto Bismol just in case. My stomach’s normally made of lead, but you can’t be too careful with cuisine you don’t encounter very often. It’s obvious enough that Mexican-spicy is absolutely nothing compared to Indian-spicy or any other kind of spicy for that matter, but I’m still optimistic in terms for being able to handle it. The aftermath can only be contained, not prevented…

And, yes, that was a poop joke. Just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page here.

So, what else have I been up to since the start of Winter Break? Nothing much, really. I’ve just traded one routine for another, mornings in the lab followed by evenings at home. Don’t know what I’m gonna do when PG&E are going to do some maintenance on the university’s power grid, though. Maybe I’ll put a dent in Melville’s classic, Moby Dick. Or I could just spend my day writing and drawing. Or cleaning the apartment. I’m getting rather fond of cleaning, actually. It’s generally soothing and it takes my eyes away fro the computer for a bit so that they can recover.

Other than that, there’s not much to tell. It’s just been nice to have some time to myself and my thoughts. I managed to pass all of my courses, but not in the way I would have liked. I still like that certain someone quite a bit, but I find myself growing more and more content with just leaving things the way they are, with the two of us as good friends. I may be physically isolated from the rest of my folks, but I’ve got my autonomy, I’ve got my ambitions, and I’ve got my sights set on graduation and beyond. It’s not satisfaction, but a sense of everything being just so. Does that make sense?

Anyway, see you Sunday!

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Filed under Midweek Drabbles