Dark Souls III: First Impressions, Part Two

 Ed. Note: I started Dark Souls III. I have thoughts about it. Many of them. This is part two of my first impressions. You can read part one here

big and lumbering, just how i like 'em
Killing the tutorial boss on my first try? This game ain’t so hard!

I made my way through the first area with no problem and soon encountered the tutorial boss, Iudex Gundyr. He’s in the middle of the cemetery, kneeling, and he’s not moving as I entered the arena. I immediately knew that he was the first boss, and I walked around the arena, keeping an eye on Iudex. He didn’t move, and there was no fog door, but he was clearly the boss. Full disclosure: I had seen a brief glimpse of him in a video, but I didn’t remember what he looked like. Once I was done exploring the arena, I cautiously approached him. I wasn’t nervous, even though I was fully prepared to get my ass kicked. When I got close to him, a prompt appeared, telling me to pull out the sword stuck in him. I did, and then, of course, Iudex started moving. It was on, and I was about to test my Fireballs for the first time. I quickly switched to my Pyromancy Glove instead of my Hand Axe* and watched him for a few seconds to get a feel for his pattern. He was slow as are most of the big bosses in Souls games, and he moved pretty deliberately. I did what you’re supposed to do against big, slow bosses in these games–I moved backwards, let him do his set pattern, then attacked. I lobbed Fireballs at him every time he finished his pattern, and I reminded myself to not get greedy. That’s the number one rule in Dark Souls: Don’t. Get. Greedy. It’s hard because FromSoft is really good at making you think that you can end it in one swing when you really cannot. When you see the boss with one or two sliver of health left after you attack, the impulse is to just get in one more swing. However, you’re probably out of stamina at that point, and while you’re mashing on the RB button, the boss is finishing you off.

I kept my cool, and I stuck to the number one rule of not getting greedy. I circled around the arena, making sure to keep my eye on Iudex. I was running out of FP, and I was running out of Estus Flasks, but I was steadily chipping away at Iudex’s health. When I got it down to about a third left, I allowed myself to think that I might get him on my first try. I kept doing what I was doing, and before I knew it, he was dead. I did it! I killed a boss on the first try! Granted, it was the tutorial boss, and granted, pelting him with Fireballs did make the fight much easier, but still. I beat a Dark Souls boss on my first try without ever having seen him before! I mentally patted myself on the back and moved on, feeling pretty pleased with myself. There was a bonfire to be lit once he was vanquished, which hearkens back to Demon’s Souls. I never played it because it’s a PS3 exclusive, but I’ve seen playthroughs of it. I soldiered on, marveling that I hadn’t died yet. I cut through the Hollows who crossed my path, and before I knew it, Firelink Shrine flashed before my eyes. I knew about this before I played the game, but seeing it in all its majesty was a whole different thing. Quick background–Firelink Shrine is the primary bonfire of the original Souls game. I knew that it was going to be in DS III, and I knew it was going to be the hub world, but seeing pictures of it and actually going to it are two vastly different experiences. Firelink Shrine was my home base in Dark Souls, but visually, it wasn’t much different than any other area. I mean, it had its own distinct flavor because that’s the way Miyazaki rolls, but this Firelink Shrine is a set piece, for sure. It’s reminiscent of the Nexus from Demon’s Souls, but on a much grander scale. I walked my character in, savoring the atmosphere. There were NPCs, and, of course, I talked to each one. The Fire Keeper, who is a staple of Souls games, only this one has her eyes bound, much like the Black Maiden from Demon’s Souls did. She gave me a spiel about using the coiled sword to blah, blah, blah and called me the Ashen One. I used the sword I had to light the bonfire, then just stared at it in satisfaction before visiting the other NPCs. The Crestfallen Warrior, though that’s not his name here, but he didn’t have much to say. The Shrine Handmaid, a merchant who reminded me of the hag from the second game–Merchant Hag Melentia (yes, that’s her actual name). She sells a key for 20,000 souls, which made me smile again because every Miyazaki game has this–a shortcut you can buy for 20,000 souls or be a stingy asshole like me and find it the hard way after several frustrating hours.

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Dark Souls III: First Impressions, Part One

Ed. Note: I am going to assume the reader has a base knowledge of the Dark Souls series because I don’t want to repeat what I’ve said before about the games. I have written several posts about the series, some published, some not. You can search my archives if you’re interested in my previous posts. This is the third (and probably final) game in the trilogy*, and I want to get right to the heart of it. In addition, there will be spoilers. I can’t talk about the game without them. If you haven’t played the game yet and don’t want to be spoiled before you do (like me), then I’d suggest you skip this post–as much as it pains me to say it.

whoa, whoa, whoa i'm on fire
Linking the fire in the original Dark Souls

Dark Souls has ruined me for video games. There’s nothing I can play that lives up to it–the original, though I’m in the camp that believes the second game was a good, if not great, game as well. I’ve tried two Souls-like games**, Lords of the Fallen, known as clunky Souls, and DarkMaus, almost a clone rather than a homage, and both wear their Souls inspiration firmly on their sleeves. I tried; I really did. But as I played the wannabes, all I could think was, “I’d rather be playing Dark Souls.” In the end, that’s what I did–put away the other games and re-played Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. I have to confess that the first time I played the original game, I was sick of it by the time I beat it. The legendary Ornstein & Smough boss fight is less than halfway through the game, and it’s really the pinnacle of it. This is probably the fight that has claimed more Souls victims than any other place in the game. Every Souls fan can remember the first time she faced this duo, having beaten a shit-ton of obstacles just to have the privilege of this moment. I played the game well after its release, so I already knew about them, but that didn’t mitigate how awesome it was when I walked through the fog door and their intro cutscene played. “Oh, shit, son! This is the real deal now.” I don’t like to get tips before I meet a boss, so I had no idea how they fought–well, I quickly learned.

I died to these two between sixty and seventy times. No, that’s not a misprint–I died to them a lot. More to the point, for the first forty or fifty deaths, I didn’t feel as if I could beat them. By death sixty, I was mentally defeated. I had been battling these two for a solid week, and they had gotten the best of me every fucking time. I clearly remember the fateful moment when I decided I would give it one last shot and then I would quit the game for good. It was two in the morning, and I had died to them several times earlier in the day. I put on The Pina Colada Song on repeat to keep myself loose, and I walked through the fog door one last time. I did everything differently than I had up until that point, and I finally, finally beat Ornstein & Smough. The jubilation I felt upon seeing Smough disappear into dust has yet to be matched in a video game setting, and I let out a stream of curses in exultation. The rest of the game after that couldn’t match the intensity of that fight,*** and I was more than happy to put the game in the finished column and be done with it. Or so I thought. Then, the sequel came out, and I kept my eye on it. I didn’t buy it when it first came out because I was still recovering from the first one, but I did pick up the complete edition of the sequel with all three DLC when it was on sale for ridiculously cheap. Since I knew I would probably play it at some point, I avoided all spoilers. I did learn, however, that many people were disappointed with the sequel. So much so, FromSoft, the developers, did a remastering of it. That’s the version I played when I finally got around to it, and as I said, it was a good game, more playable in many ways than the original.
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After the Storm: The Hidden Scars Within

It’s been three weeks since I’ve had my car accident. The bruises on my abdomen have faded into near oblivion, and the welts on my arms are completely gone. You wouldn’t know I was in an accident if you were to look at me*. The soreness is nearly gone as well, and I’m going to taiji classes again. These are all good things, obviously, but they are also part of the problem I’m having in dealing with the aftermath. You see, since I’m mostly back to pre-accident form, my brain has a hard time accepting that I recently suffered a serious impact. Let me explain. I’ve been getting back into doing my taiji routine every morning. About a week and a half ago, I did the whole thing including the weight set, thinking I was ready for it. I was not. I was wiped out, so I started paring back. Looking back, I was too optimistic because I felt basically the same as I had before the accident. “Hey, I’m not too sore. I’m not too achy. I’m about about eighty-percent. I can do everything I used to do!”

Well, I can, but then I pay the price afterwards. The good news is that I immediately recognized I couldn’t just do what I  used to do, pretending the car accident never happened. I didn’t soldier on with my morning routine, gritting my teeth through the exhaustion. This is what I would have done before I started studying taiji. I have perfectionistic tendencies, believing that I either have to do something one-hundred percent or not at all. I’m getting better by telling myself that, hey, if you do seventy percent, that’s still better than doing nothing, but it’s not hard to chastise myself for not doing it all. It’s doubly frustrating because it’s the sword practice that wears me out. My favorite part of taiji, and I have to cut back on it. Normally, I have a metal sword I use, but I’ve had to switch to my crappy wooden one because the metal one is too heavy right now. It’s ironic because before the accident, I was looking into buying an even heavier metal sword because my current one was becoming too light. Also, before the accident, I was starting to do the (metal) sword with wrist weights. Can’t do that any longer, either. If I do my pared down routine in the morning before a class, I can only do one full Sword Form in class before getting tired. In a few of the classes I’ve been to since my accident, my teacher wanted us to do two full forms. The first time, I was wiped after one and sat out the second. The second time, I did half the second form. The third time, I did both all the way through, but was exhausted afterwards.  In addition, I have picked up the sabre exactly twice since the accident. It’s wood and heavier than my sword. It felt as if I were waving around ten pounds, and it was arduous. By the time I finished (and I only know two-thirds of the form) it the second time I tried it, I knew I wasn’t doing that again any time soon.

I hate feeling weak and frail. Part of the reason I started taiji was to feel strong, and it’s discouraging that I’ve regressed. Even though I know it’s understandable given the circumstances, i still get frustrated when I have to scale down my morning routine because I just can’t do it all. In addition, I was cleaning the fridge with my mom a few nights ago, and it took roughly an hour. I’ve done it by myself in the past with little problem. In fact, I would sing as I did it, maybe do a little dance or two. And since I normally clean at midnight, I’d be topless because naked cleaning is the best. This time, though, by the time I was done, I was dizzy and wiped out for the rest of the day. I half-wish I had physical reminders of my accident,** because right now, it’s too easy to gaslight myself. “It’s not that bad.” “You don’t have any broken bones or even anything sprained.” “You should be able to do everything now since you got off so lightly.” Intellectually, I know that I experienced a physical trauma, but it’s hard to accept it emotionally. I will give myself credit for not pushing myself to the point of harm, let alone past it, but I’m beating up myself too much for not being able to do more.

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My Car Accident: My Life Did Not Flash Before My Eyes

I was in a car accident Friday night. My life did not flash before my eyes, but it’s one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. I was on my way to taiji class, driving on a local road at about 30 mph. I was alert, scanning the road as I drove. As I was passing the entrance to the highway, I saw a blur hurtling at me. I tried to veer away from it and/or brake, but once I realized I was going to get hit, I relaxed. Time slowed down to a crawl, and there was a whistle in my ear. A second later, pain exploded in my chest such as I’d never felt before. For a second, I couldn’t breathe, but I never lost consciousness. Time sped up to normal again, and I was sitting in a pile of smoke with deployed airbags–which is what caused the pain in my chest. There was a burning smell in the air, and all I could think is, “Damn. I’m going to miss taiji class.” Shock does funny things to the brain, don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. I felt like I was watching the whole thing happen until the airbags hit me, and then I was jolted back into my body.

I was preternaturally calm after it happened. I’ve been known to freak out over the littlest and stupidest thing, but when it comes to a true crisis, I get very calm. Again, it’s probably partly shock, but it’s also the way my brain is wired. All the extraneous bullshit just melts away, leaving my mind focused. I stepped out of the car and heard a very kind passerby asking if everyone was OK. He had called the police and let us know they were on their way. Thank you, kind stranger, for being a good guy in that moment. I really appreciate it. The other driver was a young girl of South Asian descent. She was hysterical, and I felt weirdly protective of her. She kept saying her dad was going to kill her, and I patted her on the back and told her to take some deep breaths and that it would be OK. She asked me if I was OK, saying she didn’t see me. She added that her dad needed the car for work and now he couldn’t go and it was all her fault. She also had a young man in the car with her, and I realized that she was probably talking to him as she was speeding home to get the car to her father. She probably almost passed by her turn and then yanked to the left at the last moment. She was not slowing down at all when she hit me, and I can’t tell you how it felt to stare at 2,000 pounds hurtling at me, helpless to do anything about it. I tried to stop; I tried to swerve, but it all happened so fast–even though it felt like time had stopped. There was absolutely nothing I could do, and in the instant before I was hit, I just accepted that. “I am going to get hit. There is nothing I can do.” This passed through my brain in a flash, and I relaxed as she plowed into my car.

I realize that I’m repeating myself, but it’s my way of dealing with the situation. It’s still hard to believe this happened to me, even though it’s been a few days. My parents are in town, so I called them immediately after it happened. Then, I texted my taiji teacher to let her know I was going to miss class because of the accident. After that, I talked to the cops who’d just come, and they were courteous and helpful. The officer said, “You were driving down the street and she turned into you? Is that what happened, ma’am?” I said it was, and later, he told me the other driver had been cited for a failure to yield. I DM’ed Ian to let him know what happened, then my parents showed up. They had gotten a ride from a friend of theirs, and they were understandably freaked the fuck out. More so than I was, honestly. Again, shock and my weird ability to be calm in the worst situations carried me through the situation. The police officer asked if I wanted a ride to the hospital, but i declined. I felt fine, I insisted. Then, when I got into my auntie’s* car, my ribs hurt like a motherfucker and took my breath away. I reluctantly decided I should go to the ER, and she drove us there.

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Mental Taiji in the Everyday World

Ed. Note: This actually happened yesterday, but I didn’t finish writing it  until late last night. I polished it up today before posting. Enjoy.

I did something stupid today. I went to fill up the gas tank at my local gas station. Like most people, I have a routine I follow when I do this. I put my keys in my purse, release the catch on the gas tank, pull out my credit card, then insert my card in the machine so I can fill my tank. I like that I can do everything outside and don’t have to go to the counter to pay. Simple, right? For some reason, though, I deviated from this routine. It started out the same. I put the keys in my purse and pulled out my credit card, but then I took the purse out with me and locked the doors (I usually leave them unlocked). I looked at my purse, wondering why I had taken it out, so I put it back in the car and shut the door. I filled the gas, and then–

I’m sure the astute among you can already foresee the problem. When I turned back to my car, I saw that my doors were locked. My purse was on the front seat–with the keys in it. And my cellphone. I realized that the only thing I could do was walk home which was a mile away, get my spare car key, and walk back. I have a lock box with a spare key in it on my front door, so that wasn’t an issue. Clutching my credit card in my hand, I started walking home, mentally kicking myself over my stupidity. How the hell could I do something that dumb? I fill the gas all the fucking time with no problem, so I have no idea why I fucked it up today. After two or three minutes of yelling at myself (in my head), I turned my focus on solving the problem, rather than beating myself up over it. I told myself to think of it as mental taiji as I walked home.

Let me say that I am grateful it was a coolish day with a light sprinkle because I hate heat. Even so, I was aware that I was wearing my sandals which are supposed to be walking sandals, but really aren’t, and that I was sweating profusely. One reason I hate walking/running is because I sweat like a pig. By the time I got home, I was drenched. I had also encountered a gaggle of Canadian geese, and they hissed at me as I dared walk on THEIR sidewalk to get by them. I moved to the street because Canadian geese are assholes, and I made it home without further incident.

When I got home, I rummaged through the drawer where I keep the spare car key. It wasn’t there. I freaked out a bit as I tore through it again. It still wasn’t there. I opened the drawer next to it, and there was a key that looked like a car key, but it didn’t look like my actual car key which has a black rubber thing on its ‘head’. I called my brother to see if he had any advice, and he said to call the police to jimmy the door, but I didn’t want to bother them over something relatively trivial. He said I could call a locksmith, too, which I felt more comfortable with. I asked if he had a slim jim, which he did, but he was three hours away from me, so that wasn’t an option. He was pretty sure the key I had was a replica spare key, but I found the number of a locksmith to take with me on my walk back just in case.

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LGBTQ Folks Are Not Your Superheroes

Ed. note: I started this fairly soon after the shooting, but it’s taken me some time to put my thoughts in some kind of order. This is still pretty stream-of-conscious, free-flowing, but I feel the need to get it out there. So, my apologies that it’s not quite as polished as my normal posts. I’m still pretty raw.

“I keep reading about how the queer community is strong and resilient and will not be defeated. This is all true, but we are also human beings who feel a gamut of emotions, ranging from fear to sorrow to rage. Some people have responded to the tragedy in Orlando by seeking out their communities, taking comfort in being with people who know without words what they’re feeling. Others, bunker down, retreating to mourn on their own.

I just want to say there’s no wrong way of processing what’s happened. There’s no wrong way of responding. As Pride festivities occur all around the country, if you need to go to be with your community, go! If you’re afraid and prefer to stay home, that is fine, too!

We do not have to pretend we are not afraid, angry, hurt, grieving, or any other range of emotions. Feel what you feel, and get through this however best you can.

Most of all, take care of yourself. If the news is stressing you out, walk away from social media. Take a bath or read a book or cuddle with a furry friend (or non-furry one).

We are not obligated to be anyone’s superhero.”

I wrote this on Facebook yesterday afternoon, and I wanted to expand upon it in a proper post. By now, you’ve probably all heard about the horrific shooting at an Orlando queer nightclub (Pulse Nightclub) and read several hot takes on it, both from within the community and from without. Two constant themes emerged from all the pieces and the videos. One was that love will overcome hate and the other was that we mustn’t let fear take us over. I want to address both, starting with the latter.

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I am Dragonborn; Hear Me Roar!

Ed. Note: Apparently I didn’t publish this. I thought I had. I wrote in on December 27th, for whatever that’s worth. Enjoy. 

So, yesterday I started a post on Skyrim, intending to explore why I can’t stop playing. Instead, I made a list of all the things that bug me in the game, but I didn’t want to leave it at that. I don’t want to give you the impression that I hate this game or that these flaws make the game unenjoyable in general–no game is perfect. In addition, it’s not as if Skyrim is the only game that does many of the things on the list; it’s just the game I’m playing right now. Many things on the list (such as fetch quests) are video game tropes that I wish didn’t exist. Anyway, it’s obvious that they’re not major hindrances as I continue to play the game; I put in four to five hours last night when I only intended to play one or two. In fact, I honestly thought I only played a couple of hours, so imagine my surprise when I looked at the clock and saw that it was one in the morning. I have never been able to play this game for under two hours at a time, but I don’t know just why that is.

Part of it is the soundtrack. I know that sounds silly, but it’s incredible. It’s so soaring and epic–it makes me feel like I’m the hero of a fantasy novel. Listen to it below and tell me you don’t get chills as it plays*. When the music starts as you’re traipsing around, you know you’re either going to find a Word of Power or about to mix it up with some jerkholes who don’t realize that you’re the chosen one. It’s a call to action most of the time, and it never fails to make me gird my loins in preparation of battle. This is the Lindsey Stirling (and Peter Hollens) on violin LARPing version, which is also pretty damn cool. Seriously, all I want to do when I hear this music is go out and slay some dragons–and I like dragons! I don’t know how Bethesda did it, but they came up with something really special musically.

The game is as epic in feeling as is the music, by the way. I said in yesterday’s post that the story is bog standard–you’re the chosen one, the only one able to save the land from imminent destruction, but Bethesda does it incredibly well. I’m as cynical as they come, but I get swept away as I’m playing with the lore and the grandiosity of the story. Who doesn’t want to be the hero who saves the day and gets the girl?** It’s hard to explain how epic the whole game feels, and yet, there are touches of the mundane, too. Sometimes, I just explore the environment with Barbas (my dog. Well, OK, not my dog, but I’m not finishing his quest until later so I can keep him as a follower) and Morgan, my horse. Or we just chat with people in various towns, picking up quests along the way. There’s little pressure to finish things in any particular order or in a certain time frame, which is exactly as I like it. I hate timed events with a passion, and so far, there aren’t any in Skyrim.

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Truly, Madly, Deeply: R.I.P., Alan Rickman

I woke up to the news that Alan Rickman was dead. Ian had messaged me as I slept, and it was a shock when I looked at my social media and saw the dozens of well-wishes and condolences. Immediately, I went into denial. No, Alan Rickman was not dead–how could he be? How could my one true love* be dead? I read link after link, but it still seemed surreal. He had been fighting cancer–fuck cancer, by the way–and today, he lost that fight. Once I accepted it was true (on the surface, I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it yet), I cried. Full-on cried. I have had a crush on Alan Rickman for such a long time, and even though I knew he was older than I by twenty-five years, I had hoped that he’d be with us for many years to come.

I am not one to crush out on celebrities. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are hot actors such as Kate Winslet, Gina Torres, Helen Mirren, Ewan McGregor, Daniel Dae Lewis, and Idris Elba to name a few. I’ve drooled over Christina Hendricks and Salma Hayek and Michael Fassbender, not to mention (please, I’d really prefer you didn’t) all those carefully-tressed hair metal bands of the eighties. But, I’ve never cared much about them in real life, not to be rude about it. I’d read about them and be interested in what they have to say, but mostly, I just enjoyed looking at them and watching them/listening to them do their thing. Alan Rickman was different, for whatever reason. The first thing I really noticed him in was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (though I was first attracted to Jason Isaacs, as you can see in this review. Please also note that even that early, I was pretty sure Snape was a good guy, and, yes, I’m tooting my own horn), even though I’d seen him before–including in the first Potter movie. He’s not typically handsome, and appreciating him takes time. There’s something about viewing the movie more than once, especially the scene in which he’s spelling that ponce played by Kenneth Branagh, that made me hot for him. It’s weird because he had that goofy wig on, but something about the voice and the masterful way he wielded his wand made me instantly smitten with him. Just below is a video with all his scenes from the movie, which is the way I watch a lot of his movies, tbh. He’s been in many shitty movies, but he’s always tackled each role with gusto and verve.

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Top 10 Things You Won’t Believe Made Me Cry, Gasp, and Laugh in 2015

It’s the last day of 2015, which is surreal to me. Where the hell has this year gone? Looking back, it seems as if so much has happened, and yet, so little. On a social media level, I’ve pulled back from talking about politics as much and have mostly stuck to posting cute cat GIFs and videos, joking with friends, and occasionally bringing up a topic of interest that might or might not be political. I’ve come to the conclusion that social media is not the best medium for political discourse because of the inherent restrictions, and I haven’t regretted not being as politically involved as I used to be. Concerning my writing, I am pleased that I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing on a daily basis. I used to do that effortlessly, and then I stopped writing entirely for roughly a year. There were several reasons for it, and while it made sense at the time, it made me sad because writing is as necessary as breathing to me. I’ve said before that I write, therefore I am, and that’s never been more evident than in the time when I wasn’t writing.

I’m proud that I was able to stick to my goal of writing a post every day in the month of December (assuming that I’ll finish this one, which I will), even if most of the posts were filled with rambling thoughts that didn’t make a cohesive whole. One of my issues is that I’m a perfectionist, which means I’ll quit if I don’t think something is good enough. The problem with that is I rarely think anything I do is ‘good enough’, so I usually can talk myself out of publishing a post that isn’t word-perfect. I have several posts sitting in my drafts folder, languishing, because I refuse to touch them again. By publicly declaring that I would publish a post a day, I forced myself to write posts that I otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s silly that I have to put such artificial constraints on myself in order to make myself publish, but it worked, so I can’t be that mad about it.

I’ve realized that I still have trouble writing and publishing posts that I consider inflammatory, but I managed to do it, even if I had to lock one of the posts in order to do so. I accept that I have to create reasons for myself to do things I want to do, but won’t for one reason or the other. I’m not happy about it, but I will continue doing it if it means I actually get shit done. I mentioned in a previous post that I want to write and edit one or two trilogies in the next year as long as an anthology of short stories, so my short-term goal concerning those will be to finish the first book of each trilogy in January, at least the rough draft. One is already done, and I have about fifty more pages of the other before it’s done as well. Depending on how that goes, I’d also like to finish the first drafts of all the stories I want to write for my anthology, but I think I may need more than a month to do that. I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I also don’t want to stop pushing myself when it comes to writing.

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A Sisyphean Task

I wrote yesterday about some of my mental health issues that I want to work on in the new year, but the post devolved into me navel-gazing yet again. To continue with that musing, I’ve been thinking about boundaries. In yesterday’s, post, I talked about how difficult it is for me to set boundaries, and today I want to talk about how that extends to my brain as well. I know that sounds confusing, but just stay with me, and I’ll explain to you what I mean.

In my family, my father was big on saving face and not losing face. How he was seen by other people was of utmost importance, and he had this elaborate and byzantine set of rules as to what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. The one example that I use over and over again because it was so bizarre to me at the time is when I told a friend of his that he was playing tennis. I didn’t say with someone else, but that part is pretty implicit in the statement. My father blew his lid when he got home and I gave him the message. He was mad because me telling the one woman that he was playing tennis with someone else was somehow insulting to the woman who had called. My father didn’t bother explaining, but later I figured out that he thought it made him look like a jerk for not inviting the woman to play tennis with him. I didn’t understand it at the time, and decades later, I still don’t think I did anything wrong. However, the overreaction of my father made me chary of giving out any information to anyone lest I provoke the same reaction again.

To this day, I tend to hoard information rather than share it, even if it’s appropriate. My father had effectively drummed into me that you don’t tell–well, anyone anything. My mother reinforced this notion, but for an entirely different reason. If I tell her something, she’ll tell everyone or she’ll take over the idea as if it were her own. She has a way of making me feel incompetent, even when she’s purporting to be supportive. By her taking something over, it says to me that I’m not capable of doing whatever the thing is or that I need to be propped up. I know that’s not her intent, but it’s the practical result. I also know that it’s partly her need to be in control, which I’ve inherited in spades, although it manifests in a different way. In fact, my hoarding of information is one of the ways I try to be in control. If I’m the only one with knowledge, then other people can’t act in ways I can’t control.

Another thing that complicates the problem is that because I’m aware of most of my issues, I am constantly second-guessing my reaction to situations. I know I’m needy and clingy, even if it doesn’t always manifest outwardly, so if I feel slighted in a situation, I automatically think it’s all my fault. Sometimes, it is my neurosis talking, but other times, it’s a valid response. However, I’ve been told all my life that I’m overreacting or that what I feel isn’t really what I feel, so now, I’m hopelessly mixed up as to the proper response to a given situation. It’s similar to how I used to not express my opinion at all, then I went in the opposite direction and expressed my opinion all the time. Now, I’m realizing that it isn’t always important to have the last word, but simultaneously, it is important to not stuff down my feelings and opinions all the time, either. I already feel as if my opinion doesn’t matter, so keeping them to myself reinforces that feeling. It doesn’t help that as an Asian American and being bisexual, my opinion actually doesn’t matter to many people who are caught up in the binaries of black and white, straight and gay.

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