Thursday, October 9, 2014

Procrastination and an update

It's been nearly six months so it's about time I posted something here. I'm still not dead. I'm still working and mostly not hating it. Some days drag and then other fly by and then suddenly it's Friday and I'm wearing the wrong socks or something.

I've started writing again. Like, today. I'd been trying the "just write what I feel like it" and that worked well for a bit and then I stopped as usual. Now I'm trying to concentrate on just one story and actually carry on with it when I get time. Like during my lunch break at work today. My laptop is just about light enough to not be too much of a hassle to carry to work and back for less than thirty minutes of use. I may not do that too much though. And no doubt I'll lose enthusiasm for this as well. Writing is hard. You need to actually press the keys and everything.

I haven't been reading much, though did get through a couple of the books we got free from Nine Worlds. Yeah, we went to Nine Worlds this year. We're going next year too. I may end up using all my annual leave on geek activities again and have to call on family and a lovely partner to help entertain and supervise the boy. Larp was also good and also something I'm keeping at despite not really doing the things I intended to. Plot is for other people. I'm happy enough drinking cider and angsting about all my friends dying.

 Back into the autumn now and school and uni and stuff. The boy went to Robinwood with his class despite spending most of the summer adamant he didn't want to go. He had a whale of a time and apparently is really good at archery. He sure as heck doesn't get that from me. My better half appears to be even more busy than she was before which I didn't think was physically possible, And might have Freshers' Flu. Occupational hazard.

It's our anniversary tomorrow. We had a meal out on Monday while boy was away (and over-indulged in both food and wine) but otherwise have no plans to celebrate. I may manage a card, but utterly failed to think about presents. We're travelling down to the deepest South for friends' wedding and their daughter's christening and it was enough of a scramble to get organised for that. I really am no better at planning ahead, although I've been managing to order repeat prescriptions before running out of medication for quite a while now. And I have been on this medicine for quite a while now. I think it's still being useful, despite a few slips. Certainly the one day I missed a pill this month had noticeable effects. Although I have been worried I was starting to withdraw again....I've made a small effort to try and actually pay attention to people, although I'm no better at getting in touch with friends and family who live further away. But that's what Facebook is for, isn't it? And I have been getting grunpy and short-tempered with people. The problem with trying to avoid introspection because that leads to rumination is that you avoid noticing potential problems in your own behaviour. I may be relying too much on other people telling me when something is wrong. Fortunately at least one person in my life is very vocal about when I've been ignoring him and never want to play on the Wii with him. That he probably does get from me.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

[Fiction] A Morning Adventure

Inspired by fragment of dream just before waking and hastily written up over breakfast.
Daddy left the play pen gate open. He was grumpy as he was most mornings, but he'd come when he called and picked him up gently and taken him downstairs. He put him in the pen then headed straight to the kitchen to let the dogs out – they barked excitedly when they saw him and drowned out the faint calls from the front room.

So he pushed open the gate and stepped out of the play pen. He followed Daddy to the kitchen and found he wasn't there and the back door was also wide open. A blast of cold air came from it; there was a sprinkling of snow on the ground and an eerie sort of pale light that looked much whiter than daylight usually did. He picked up his sippy cup that was lying on the floor under the table and shook it. It was empty.

He headed out into the back garden. He could hear Daddy and the dogs but couldn't see them, they must have gone round the side. But something caught his eye in the woods that started just the other side of the hedge – a glimpse of bright red moving among the trees. He toddled down the lawn and squeezed through the hole in the hedge that the dogs kept making.

He'd wandered some way into the woods before realising he'd lost sight of the red and that he was starting to get cold. He stopped and looked round for Daddy or Mummy but couldn't see either of them and was getting ready to start crying when he saw the red again and was captivated. It was a man, taller than Daddy, wearing a bright red coat that went all the way below his knees, and a bright red hat too. The coat and hat had white fur along the bottom, like Mummy's big coat, and the hat had a ball of white on top that bobbed up and down as he walked. He was carrying a bag over his shoulder, and walking alongside him was something that looked like a horse but with horns, something like a cow's but much bigger and branching off.

He forgot about crying and went towards the man and his not-horse, who seemed to slow down just for him to catch up. When he reached them he was a little scared, the man and beast were both so big, but they stopped walking and the man turned and bent down to look at him and smiled. He handed his sippy cup up to the man, still a bit too shy to say anything, and the man didn't say anything but put his bag down and took the cup. He put the cup into the top of his bag and pulled it out again straight away and handed it back.

He snatched it and drank greedily – it was full of slightly warm milk which tasted better than anything he'd had in a long time. The man started walking again, so he stuck his hand up and the man took it and together they walked through the woods, the not-horse following behind, snuffling slightly and breathing warm air down his back. He didn't feel cold any more.

They left the woods and turned down an alleyway and onto the main street that he recognised from going into town with Mummy. The man led him right to his front door and gave it a slight push – it drifted open just wide enough for him to slip through. The man let go of his hand and he looked up at him. The man smiled again and put his bag down, reached into it, and brought out of piece of toast with butter melted in. He took it, it was still warm, and bit off a mouthful. He finally felt brave enough to say “bye-bye” and waved, dropping bits of toast from both hand and mouth. The man just nodded and turned to walk away.

He went inside and immediately heard Mummy and Daddy calling for him. He tottered down the hallway – there was a bang as the front door closed behind him – and went into the front room. Mummy came in from the kitchen and shouted in relief. She rushed up to him and picked him up and hugged him and kissed him. The Daddy appeared in the doorway and exclaimed “Thank God!” and then frowned. “But where did he get that toast?”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spring Moot

[Warning - this post contains LARP]

First event of the year, and the boy had huge amount of keen because he got to play his new character. Now that he's ten he can take Spellcasting and spent most of the weekend learning how effective Chant of Melee Immunity is. Barely saw him at all as he spent most of time playing with other children in the faction. Did occasionally have to track him down to make sure he ate though.

I did nothing.

Well, nothing much. I sat and chatted, sat and enjoyed the sun, sat and enjoyed the shade, etc etc. Occasionally we were attacked and I ran around a bit healing people, hitting the occasional small skaven when our young defenders were all unable to fight, and generally panicking whenever I lost track of Rhapsody. So much like usual. But I did realise I was no longer actually scared when in fights, even at night. After eight years I appear to have finally trained my body to accept that I'm not in real-life danger and the adrenaline gets me moving but doesn't push me into an anxiety attack. So that's something.

Maybe next event I can actually try and pick up where I left off at end of last year and do something with my characters background.

(Surpisingly few that I can remember)

  • "I bring you a message from the true ruler of Lantia!" "What's the message?" "By the high power of magic I Mage-" "By my power I strike you Mute!" 
  • "You're too tall to be a gentleman." "I didn't realise there was a height restriction." "There is in this tent."
  • "Stand up and tell everyone what we did to you last night."
  • "I offer you my sword, and my last beer. It's been that kind of day."
  • Rhapsody on how to play Angry Dice: "You roll some things, and then someone tells you to roll them again, and you do that for a bit and then they tell you you did really well."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

[Flash Fiction] Rapunzel

Written in response to Chuck Wendig's latest Flash Fiction Challenge - I picked Rapunzel because the boy had been watching Tangled a lot, and rolled a 17. Been a while since I read any Lovecraft, not convinced I got the tone right, but this is the first story I've finish in a long long time, so I'm counting this as a win.

I recount my experience here as a bitter warning to all – do not enter the Richardsons' garden!

Since a young boy I was intrigued by what lay beyond those tall, imposing brick walls, and what secret wonders may be hidden in that tower that peeked over the top. My parents warned me to stay away and the one time I was caught trying to scale the wall I was beaten brutally for my troubles. But other than knowing that the widow Richardson was a recluse, and a bad-tempered one at that, I had no inkling of why that estate was so forbidden.

As I grew, though, I pieced together rumours and local legends: some stories had hints of truth about them while others were clearly the product of fevered or inebriated imaginations. The facts, as I was able to gather were few: Mrs Richardson was widowed young and had lived alone for many years; while I was still a babe-in-arms a neighbour of the Richardsons was caught stealing Valerianella locusta from the garden to feed his pregnant wife's cravings; the child was sadly stillborn and the mother committed to an asylum, mad from grief and claiming the widow had stolen her baby as punishment for her husband's theft. The more fanciful elements to the tale, however, were those that kept my interest going: the elderly woman was a witch or demon-worshipper; the lush plants that grew in her garden were fed with the blood of newborn goats; the neighbours' baby was given over as payment for not having the thief hanged; terrible cries could be heard from the tower where the baby girl had been imprisoned all these years. The last especially struck me as I had often awakened in the middle of the night sure I had heard something – but not sure what.

On the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday, after a night of too much brandy and too much careless talk with my friends, I made my fateful mistake and bragged that I would steal away into the walled garden of the Richardsons' estate and find out what lay within that tower. My friends initially laughed, and joked I'd be turned into a toad by the witch who lived there, but then grew concerned when they realised I was serious. They tried to persuade me not to: that I would be caught and imprisoned or that I'd surely fall and break my neck as the walls were so tall. But I could not be dissuaded and, arming myself only with a lantern, I went straight to the place that had haunted my dreams my whole life.

The climb was straightforward, despite struggling to carry the light, as the bricks were weathered enough for plentiful hand- and footholds. As I reached the top, I stood and surveyed the forbidden land. It was not a disappointment. The gardens were vast, overgrown and verdant; as I gazed down in wonder at a greater variety of plants than I had known existed, I could not make out the far side (and indeed, I realised, I had no idea how far away the boundary of the estate might be). But as I looked closer a strange dread crept over me: the exotic foliage below seemed somehow too alien, almost unreal, and unsettled me when I looked too close. Still, triumphant in my success I turned my attention to that other edifice that had caught my imagination from afar – the thin tower that arose out of the garden.

It was further than I'd anticipated, but the way was mostly clear and I judged I could get there easily enough, despite the lack of obvious paths. I used a nearby tree to get down from the top of wall and set out, walking quickly and avoiding the denser patches of foliage. The lantern cast bizarrely shaped shadows as it swung and even the more familiar looking vegetation struck me as somewhat sinister. Yet I strode on, determined now to reach my goal.

Just as I was beginning to fear I had lost my way, I broke out of a group of trees, and there before me was the tower. It was even smaller in circumference than it appeared from afar, barely fifteen foot across. I walked right around the base, pushing past rose bushes and brambles, and discovered there was no door at all, nor any means of gaining access at this level, although I could just make out the familiar window near the top. Undaunted, I tested the strength of the almost rope-like vines that twisted up the tower, and, satisfied, started to haul myself up. I made a surprising distance in a short space of time, and although the vine I was climbing seemed to weaken and split into a fine stringy substance, I was soon within a few feet of the window's ledge.

I swung the lantern up onto the windowsill, and as I hauled myself up I got my first good look at what I had been climbing: far from the “plant” I presumed, it was golden, tangled, and dirty, and unmistakably human hair. And rather than growing from the ground upwards, I realised, it was falling out from the window, down in matted plaits stuck to the wall with rain and that had come undone in places.

With equal horror and awe, I looked up into the room and followed the trail of golden hair to its origin – and beheld such a monstrous and impossible creature that I fear words alone can never describe it. It seemed to be composed entirely of hair: although the shape underneath was at least partly human. Two thick tendrils reached out towards me as a low moaning noise emanated from it. As the hair beneath me undulated, I recoiled quickly in terror, sick in the stomach and crazed in my mind, forgetting that I was perched perilously on such a high and narrow ledge.

I fell, screaming, and passed out. I remember nothing from then until the next morning, when I woke at home with the permanent scars I now bear. How I managed to make my way back out of the garden, scratched and blinded by the thorns of the bushes that presumably broke my fall, I will never know.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Positive Customer Service Experience

When the boy begged us to buy the Wizard's Tower expansion for Castle Panic, we were a bit disappointed that many of the monster tokens had been misprinted (and at least one was bent as well):

So the next day I searched Fireside Games website for contact details and filled in the "missing/damaged game pieces" form they have, offering to provide photos as proof. The boy was a little disappointed we didn't get a response straight away, but it was a Sunday. The next evening I got a nice email from Kris (Customer Service Representative) apologising and promising to send a new set of tokens. Boy was over the moon. I warned him it might take a while as it was coming from the States.

That was eleven days ago. Today the new tokens came and the boy immediately started sorting them out:

We also got some bonuses. A Catapult Coaster that also allows Knights and Swordsmen to hit flying creatures, a bookmark that also slays tarred monsters (called "Feather", naturally" and....

Yep, that's an Any Colour Hero. The very card the boy said "wouldn't it be cool if we had..." last time we were playing the game.

So yeah, we're happy, and have more stuff to help us try and beat this horrendously hard expansion to an otherwise easy game. Thank you very much Fireside Games (and Kris in particular)!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Post-Pub Bloggage

I never did come up with a new year's resolution, not properly.

Have spent last two days agonising over my appraisal form - that thing that I've never had to do before because I've never been in a job long enough to need to. It was sort-of optional, but as the aim seems to be to make me a permanent member of staff rather than an agency worker, it seemed like a good idea. The main aim should be "personal development". I still have no idea what I want from this job. Still being there 14 months on is about as good as I'd hoped for. Still. I've filled it in. Mostly. And resisted putting "build a rocket-ship to Mars" as a personal objective for the next twelve months.

Pubbed tonight. Talked about larp and....nudity, apparently. And work. It may have been preying on my mind. Life outside work has been mostly happening at a blur - tiredness kicks in and then there's trying to get the housework done. Social life happens out of habit. It's been three days that the boy has been back at school and already I feel like I never see him. So my plans of blogging, or writing, or learning to code, or even just using my compute a bit smarter...they have to fit in somewhere. But I haven't even found time to do the ironing.

Have watched first two episodes of new series of Sherlock though. I loved them, flaws and all. I think I stopped expecting intriguing mysteries at some point last series, and have just been enjoying the characters. Critical faculties turned off, and just going with the flow, seems to be the best way to enjoy most telly (and films) anyway. And life, I suppose.

This was just a ramble, as befits the blog title I suppose. And a distraction from the inevitable post-pub blues, at least long enough for me to get sleepy enough to go to bed. As it's nearly tomorrow, that's where I should be heading.

So long, folks.