A first.

Last night, spur of the moment, I decided to go out to a bar after work. A good friend of mine sings at local bars and restaurants usually once a week at least and last night she had a late show at one in my town. And since I was off work early enough and checked twitter which reminded me of it, I decided I’d go.

Stopped at Wawa on my way home from work and grabbed a coffee, then got back to my apartment and blitzed through changing into something more bar appropriate. A cute little blue dress with textured black tights, a lightweight black sweater, my silver star printed flats and a basic metal ring necklace. My hair and makeup were already done for my shift so I left them alone.

Flew back out the door after quick loves for the doggies, arrived at the bar, and then wandered around til I found the table my friend’s boyfriend was sitting at. And who should be sitting with him but a guy I had major hots for when we worked together a couple of years ago.

Now, those of you who read the last post will know that I got out of a relationship recently – a week ago. Part of the reason I got so dolled up to go out is because I’m in the dating game again, so you know, on the off chance someone has an interest I want to look good.

Anyway, my friend sang wonderfully, 2 of my glorious coworkers showed up to hang out, including code name San Diego, who is fast becoming one of my absolute favorite people, I had a bunch of Stellas, the hottie was flirty, his friend was hilarious, and for the first time ever, I gave my number to a guy before I left at the end of the night.

Confidence boost, ho!

Cheers!

Three and a half years.

I ended my relationship of three and a half years yesterday. For the second time, and ideally for the last time.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Do I think it was necessary? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. I love the man, there’s no denying that, nor would I do so untruthfully. Maybe that makes it harder – actually, I’m certain it does. It’s really fucking difficult to have to say it’s over, to hurt someone you love, someone you trust, because you know it’s just not going to work out in the end.

I’m glad I gave it a second shot – I’m not so angry this time and I’m not bitter. We’re parting on good terms, as friends, and that’s how it ought to be. But it still sucks that we can’t make it work despite wanting to so badly.

And maybe we could, if I was willing to wait around longer. Maybe we could if one of us changed. But I know I can’t, I’m done waiting. And if we changed that much, maybe we wouldn’t even want it to work anymore. We’d have to change ourselves fundamentally – we wouldn’t be the same people anymore.

The thing that really fucking sucks is I’m realizing that an ideal I’ve always held to isn’t true, not for me anyway. I grew up believing that one day I’d find someone and they wouldn’t be perfect, but I’d love them so much that it wouldn’t matter. Whatever happened, loving someone would be enough to make everything okay, to hold us together til we got through it, to make the downsides acceptable.

But that’s not true. Love’s not enough. Love makes it worse, actually, because it makes you bitter when that person is saying they love you but doing nothing to prove it. It makes you angry and impatient and, given enough time, unforgiving.

Love isn’t enough to make me wait another three and a half years, or however long it would take. It’s not enough to make me accept all the responsibility in the relationship. It isn’t fucking enough to make everything okay, no matter how hard I hope or how much I wish or how long I wait.

But it is enough to make it hurt. Gods, does it hurt. Because I want to say I love you, but I have to say goodbye.

Four years and many beers.

So today is my fourth year anniversary with WordPress.com. Interesting! In its honor, I am posting a little project I’ve been working on recently.

AUTUMN BEERS!

I went to the liquor store a few weeks ago and bought a mix of brews, mostly pumpkin, from various and sundry breweries in search of one I liked. My biggest hopes were for it to be pumpkiny and somewhat spiced with a balanced flavor that wasn’t bitter. Here are the results!

Stella Artois Cidre – Good but not overly flavorful. Tastes a bit watered down. Sweet, no weird aftertaste, very bubbly. 7/10.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery’s America’s Original Pumpkin Ale – Pretty plain. Not noticeably spiced or pumpkin flavored. Fairly mild flavor otherwise with no bitter aftertaste. 5/10.

Tuckahoe Brewing Co’s Holly Beach Pumpkin Ale – Decent pumpkin flavor and spicing that’s almost completely overshadowed by bitter bitter bitter. Bitter lingering aftertaste as well. 0/10.

Terrapin Beer Co’s Pumpkinfest – MMM. Still not as pumpkiny as I’d like but the spicing is evident in a lingering aftertaste that’s like a gingersnap almost. A bit more bitter than I’d like but still tasty. Enjoyable! 8/10.

Magic Hat’s Seance – Cool name, awesome bottle design, but BITTER. Bitter bitter bitterrr. Ugh. 0/10.

Weyerbacher’s Verboten – Tastes good initially, then gets weird. Like it’s sour or something. Lingering bitter aftertaste. 2/10.

Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider – Sweet, subtle. The cinnamon flavor tastes… fake? Artificial? It’d be a 10 if the cinnamon wasn’t so weird. 6/10.

Smuttynose Brewing Co’s Pumpkin Ale – Eh. Not a great pumpkin ale, but a decent beer. 5/10.

Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat – Decent spicing, slightly sweet cinnamon and clove taste, almost no pumpkin detectable. Good beer, bad pumpkin beer. 7/10.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale – Bleh. Bland, bitter. No pumkinyness or spicing. Just very meh. 3/10.

Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin Ale – Bland. Mellow. Enjoyable but not pumpkiny. 5/10.

That’s all I’ve gone through for now. Two remain in the fridge, one of which will probably be opened tonight. Here’s hoping it’s tasty!

A LoL Post – because I can.

The most important things I wish I’d known when I started playing LoL.

*Play a champion you enjoy.*

This may seem like an obvious statement, but I’ve met a lot of people who’re more concerned with which champs are “OP” than they are about which they’d have fun playing. Play someone you enjoy and I guarantee you’ll do better with that champ than one you don’t like as much.

My first champion was Rumble. Do you know how I picked him? His splash art was the first that caught my eye and his lore made me laugh. Simple as that. I saved up all the IP and bought him and I’ve never regretted it. Sure, there are other bruisers I could play, but they wouldn’t have his jokes or that mohawk.

Also, always try champions during their free week, and don’t buy a champion before you try them out. It’s a waste of your time and IP if you don’t enjoy playing them or don’t play them well.

*Maximize the interface’s potential.*

This one contains two main points – learn to play with a free camera (if you don’t already) and use smart cast for your abilities.

Free camera movement is essential to learning to look at the map. It goes hand in hand with map awareness, and maximizes your potential for the game, especially if you ever play a champ that has a universal or long range ultimate. Playing with the camera locked nerfs your ability to see the whole game, rather than the part specific to you, and since it’s a team effort that’s really a big problem. Unlock the camera. It’ll be tough at first (at least it was for me) but you’ll get used to it.

Smart casting is fantastic (except for Rumble’s ultimate). Eliminate excess clicking and get the target right on the first try. Just mouse over and press the button. Quick and easy. Items can even be bound to smart cast so you get that Deathfire Grasp active off as soon as possible.

Bonus tips courtesy of Seaal – Via the options menu, you can hide the unnecessary “walls” part of the interface, leaving only the essentials. You can also shrink the size of the interface to allow for more visible field and clickable space.

*Buy wards.*

This one is so incredibly simple and yet so very many people underestimate the power of wards. It’s really easy – buy them. Whatever role you are, buy them and ward your buffs, their buffs, dragon, Baron, and any hot spots. Warding wins games.

*Use the ignore/report feature.*

It’s there for a reason. Everyone has had that game where you’re playing awfully and losing your lane and getting stomped on. Your K/D is terrible, you’re completely underfarmed, and just when you think it can’t get worse, what happens? Someone starts talking shit.

I can only speak for myself, of course, but nothing makes a bad game worse quite like verbal abuse. That’s why there’s an ignore button – shut it out and focus on playing better. It’s a lot easier to do that when you don’t have to look at whatever ugliness that jackass is spewing at you in chat.

Remember to report him after the game in the hope that you’ll be the last person he shits on in text.

*A note on reporting*

Being bad isn’t a bannable offense – don’t report poor players under anything except “unskilled player,” if at all. Rather, do your best to help them improve while you have the chance.

*Take criticism well.*

I’ve played too many games where someone’s playing poorly, someone else tries to offer some helpful advice, and the player doing poorly gets defensive. It usually results in at least one of them needing to take advantage of the system mentioned in tip number 3.

If someone is offering you advice without name calling or spiteful insinuations, just take it or leave it. If you’re playing a bad game you probably know you’re playing a bad game, and if one of your teammates is being respectful enough to try to help you out that’s a good thing. They’re obviously interested in two things – winning and playing nice. Don’t make it harder for them (and you) by being a poor sport and getting bent about it.

*Don’t rush into ranked!*

Let me put a gaming analogy here. For any of you who’ve played WoW (and I know that’s a decent number of you), playing ranked as soon as you hit 30 is like trying to do Hardcore 25 mans as soon as you hit 90. It isn’t feasible, you lack the experience, and you’re gonna get your ass kicked.

Just wait. For your sake, and for the sake of potential teammates, wait until you’ve got a good number of games played (or, more importantly, won) before you jump into ranked. Otherwise you’re going to tank your ELO and make yourself miserable.

*Remember it’s a game – walk away when it isn’t fun anymore*

This is my universal rule across all games and platforms – walk away when it stops being fun. Come back later when you aren’t mad anymore and have another go. Games should always be fun and when they aren’t there isn’t a whole lot of point in playing. Take a deep breath, walk off, and come back to it when you’re ready for another try.

So that’s it for now! I’ll likely edit this, either as people make suggestions or I find more tidbits to add. I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you can take something useful away from this.

See you in game. XD

In which I ramble about my baby brother and other things.

My brother is a lot like me, and that is where my concern begins.

 

He’s 20, lives a quiet life. Lots of work, a goodly amount of video gaming, a handful of friends, and most nights spent at home. Bunches of sleep, too.

He is not happy, has not been happy since he was old enough to realize that something was just slightly wrong. He is impossibly discontent and vaguely unsatisfied and mainly melancholy.

I don’t think he is depressed, just as I now believe that I have never really been depressed. Depression is a clinically identifiable condition that usually results in one being in danger of not being alive anymore if they can help it. I don’t consider him to be in danger of removing himself from the world.

But, he’s not happy being here either. And I don’t know how to help, mostly because I have the same damn problem.

It’s like the world is just… overwhelming. All the stresses and complications of life leave the worthwhile bits in the dust. And all the work needed to reverse the ratio isn’t even guaranteed to be successful, so why bother? Like I was born into this world with a prescribed path, a way that I’m supposed to live my life, and that just isn’t going to work out for me, but I don’t know how else to do it. My options are limited.

 

I tried. I really did. I went to school, got the grades, behaved myself, didn’t drink or do drugs, and generally did everything the way my parents asked me to. And then I turned 19 and knew I hated it.

 

And now we’re jaded, my brother and I. We enjoy learning but not the way the system wants to teach us. We don’t want 9-5 jobs behind a desk. We want tattoos in everyday visible places. We don’t think being a grown up and wanting to play video games should be frowned upon.

 

I have learned to ignore the world. I don’t live at home and thus my parents have no control over or say in my day to day. I only have a few close friends, and even from them I keep things. I try to live the way I want to live. I play video games, ignore the news, don’t pay for cable tv, and spend most nights at home.

 

But my brother still lives at home. Still is asked by our mother if he’s okay because he’s always alone in his room. Is worried for.

 

I have my doubts about how long I can live the way I do. I am still unhappy. I am uncertain, and stressed, and preoccupied, and wondering how I can ever make it work without giving into the prescribed system.

 

But I am trying. My brother hasn’t had the chance to really try yet, and I am hoping he gets there soon. Hoping he gets to grudgingly make it work the way I do.

 

I just want him to be… content.

It’s been a long time.

I’ve not written at you or about you in quite a while. Three nights back I dreamt of you. Last night I dialed my mailbox just to hear your voice again. That voicemail and the things in my head are all I have left of you. I miss you so much. Everyday my heart beats without the chunk that belongs to you, but it keeps going, and so do I.

So must I.
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On dogs.

In a lot of ways, I like dogs more than most other people. Dogs aren’t judgemental, for one. Dogs are forgiving for another. Dogs are there when you need them to be, always. They’re loving, loyal, warm, and they ask for so little in return.

I often hear people say that each and every person is responsible for treating the people around them the way they’d like to be treated, but I’ve always felt this should apply to animals as well. Everything we share this planet with deserves our respect. So why do people mistreat dogs? Because they can, because they’re fucked up, because they want something else to be more miserable than they are, for a power trip, for a sense of control… there are a million reasons people use, none of them valid. Dogs are alive with as much right to exist happy and healthy as any person. Often, they can’t care for or protect themselves without us, and we are responsible for their well-being. And that’s where rescuing comes in.

Now, this isn’t going to be one of those blogs that puts down people who breed or choose purebred dogs. The dogs of my childhood were purebred Welsh Corgis, and they were fantastic, intelligent, speedy little things who loved us, herded us, and guarded us at night as we slept. They’re still dogs, little beings brought into the world by us, and they’ve as much right to a home as shelter dogs. But I have to admit there is a deeper meaning in taking a shelter dog home with you.

Bringing a shelter or rescue dog into your home is a mixed bag sometimes – there’s no way to know what you’re going to get. You’re taking into your heart a dog that likely ended up where he is because someone else didn’t want him. In the case of most shelters, he’s gone through a series of tests to make sure he’s adoptable without any major issues, but with rescues it’s not always so stringent. They’re looking to rehome the ones most on the fringe – dogs with health issues, or seniors, or dogs who were in shelters for six months and didn’t get adopted so they were slated for euthanization. When you pick one of these dogs and make him or her your own, you’re usually quite literally saving the dog’s life. In itself, that’s no small reward – to be able to say you saved something. But what they give you back each and every minute of the day is more reward than you could ever ask for.

I have two dogs myself, both rescued. Here they are:

Now, I might be biased, but personally I think they’re two of the best looking dogs I’ve ever seen. Almost 70 pounds each, they can be quite a handful, but they’re also a good team.

Finn’s the spotty one on the left. Finn loves pretty much everyone – he is easily the most indiscriminately friendly dog I’ve ever met. He sees people and gets so excited he actually smiles; he lifts his upper lip, shows off his pearly whites, wags blindingly fast, and begs you with body language to come and say hi to him. He’s quiet because he barely ever bags, he’s a giant cuddlebug, and he’s gentle when playing or taking treats.

But that’s not the dog we brought home. When we walked into the shelter that day I squealed over the litter of puppies split between several pens. Tiny, spotty things with big bellies, all wiggling tails and puppy barks. Except one. The only one who wasn’t marked with a sticker denoting he was waiting for an adoption approval to go home. He just laid there, on the cement floor, sad little eyes staring at nothing in particular. And as soon as I saw him I knew I had to have him. He needed me. He was the underdog, the one no one wanted, the poor, sad little runt of the litter, dumped in a box in a field in the middle of nowhere with his brothers and sisters. Now, two years later, the happiest bundle of fur in my life.

Nox is on the right. Formerly known as Licky, which is a horrendous name, and then Ricky, which is only slightly more acceptable. Nox’s family gave him up when he got too big to be around their kids, or so the sign said. He’s from the same shelter as Finn, but Nox came into my life 2 years earlier. He was boisterous, noisy, and he’d been there so long they had him down on the bad list, the no more chances left list, the list of no return. I went home that afternoon, still living with my parents, and told them I wanted him. I needed him, he was going to be put down, I could save him. When I went back the next day, adoption fee in my pocket, I walked right up to the counter and told them I was there to adopt Licky. “Oh, I’m sorry, he’s just left,” was the response I got, and my heart froze. No, it couldn’t be, I can’t be a day late. “Yea, we transferred him to a shelter, and they’ve just picked him up.” OH YES. A few weeks later, having officially adopted him through the shelter who gave him another chance, I brought him home and renamed him Nox, the opposite spell to lumos in Harry Potter.

Nox is a bit of a conundrum. His personality is at times unpredictable. He’s obnoxious, as a general rule, and tends to prefer a little space to other people and dogs at the beginning, whereas Finn is right in your face. Nox is clearly the dominant one, but is extremely protective of people he knows, and very protective of Finn. Nox needs a firm hand and lots of patience, but I love him for all his faults, because he loves me for mine. I saved him, but he saves me all the time, when I need a friend, or an ear, or just someone to keep me warm.

Mimi, Chloe, and Coco.

My two dogs alone are incredibly different from one another. I feel good knowing that I helped them, that I gave them a good home where someone else dumped them. My parents do it, too, on a much grander scale. They have 8, yes 8, dogs at home right now, 7 of whom are rescued. They’re all small, so it’s not as awful as you might think, and each is incredible in his or her own way. Chloe is the princess, the one bought and paid for in a store. Chip and Dale are siblings who were unwanted, underfed, and unloved when we got them, now both excitable toy lovers. Stanley was a problem child, scared to the point of occasional aggression. All he really needed was time to warm up. Now he’s a bouncy, Fennec fox look-a-like with bunny-soft fur. Cooper was one I snatched from old neighbors who would purposely put him outside, leave the fence open, and leave, hoping they’d come home to an empty yard. I returned Cooper to them 5 times before I decided to keep him and my parents took him in. He’s a devious, fuzzy adventurer. Pablo was adopted several times before my parents got him, and brought back every time for one reason or another. Why, I’ll never know, because the Pablo I know is a fringey, little dragon with bat ears, a curly tail, and the biggest heart ever. Coco was much the same as Stanley, terrified of everything, shut up in a shell. She’s friendly and curious these days. And the newest edition, Mimi, has a whole host of health issues, but she is so completely friendly and easy going it’s impossible not to love her.

Dale at the top left, Chip to his right, Stanley below him, Chloe below Stanley, and Pablo curled up at the bottom.

Cooper.

Rescue dogs, shelter dogs, mutts, mongrels, mixed breeds – they’re all, as Forrest once said, a box of chocolates. But for every one that’s filled with something distasteful (sadly, the dogs who’ve been trained to fight, usually, are the ones who just can’t go home to a new family safely and have to be euthanized) are 20 more who are excellent additions to a family waiting to be found. All we as people need to do is give them the chance to shine.

(This post dedicated to all the ones who heart-breakingly aren’t here anymore. Kiba, Brandi, Charlie, Sarah, Duffy, Bear, Liz, Lucy, and most recently, Carter. Miss you all so very much.)