My Kid Is Napping (…On Choices)

My 15 month old toddler is napping.

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If you don’t have kids, you don’t understand how wonderful this is. You might think  you do, much like I did pre-baby when I thought I knew just how hard parenting would be. But until you’ve been in the trenches, day after day, giving your entire being over to another tiny helpless human’s existence, you don’t really know.

I remember reading posts from parents talking about how precious naps were, how excited they were to have time to themselves. I remember thinking, “Gosh, why do these parents hate spending time with their children so much? I want a baby so bad, I’ll relish every moment and will never think a single negative thought about being by their side!” (Insert Judging Here).

Now I understand. From 7am wakeup until 7pm bedtime, I am “on”. Mom-mode. Changing diapers, prepping meals, feeding meals, running mom errands, playing with the baby, tending to his tantrums, engaging in the 100th game of peek-a-boo per day, cleaning up after his messes, entertaining him, taking him to places, making sure he’s warm enough, isn’t hungry, is feeling good, snuggling him every time he bonks his head on something. Thank god for my weekday nanny so that I can, you know, work a job.

So right now, he’s napping. I have anywhere from 40 minutes – 2 hours to spend however the heck I feel like. Sweet, precious time. I obsessively check the baby monitor, hoping that today is a long nap so I can really enjoy a break. How should I spend it? Here’s what today (a typical day) looks like. I could:

Play a game. After all, I hit 110 in World of Warcraft and promptly never played again. I haven’t even unlocked world quests yet. I could play a little bit of Overwatch with my friends like I’ve been doing the past few nights. I could snuggle on the couch and play Skyrim SE, which for some masochistic reason I decided to tackle again. I could play a game I bought in previous Steam sales, one of the hundreds I haven’t played yet. I could log into League and try to remember how to not feed.

Watch TV. My Netflix queue is a mile long. I’m years behind on movies. I have more shows to watch than anyone I know. I’ve never seen The Walking Dead. I haven’t finished S3 of Black Mirror. I want to catch up on Bates Motel. I have a few documentaries I want to see. I want to catch up on This Is Us. I have shows to start that sound awesome that I haven’t had time for, like Atlanta and You’re the Worst. I never finished the latest season of Transparent, or Orange is the New Black. I have the Sense8 Christmas special waiting for me. My god, I haven’t watched the Gilmore Girls reboot. WTF is wrong with me?

Take a shower. Since my son was my alarm clock at 6:45 this morning, I didn’t get to shower. I’m wallowing in my own filth today. I miss the days when I could take a shower whenever I wanted, slowly. I remember when I had time to shave my effing legs! Hooboy.

Clean up. No real cleaning happens while my kid is awake. Sure, I pickup after his toys a billion times a day, but I can’t really make any meaningful progress on keeping my house clean. I could use this time to switch the laundry, fold some clean laundry, sweep/mop my floors, do the dishes, take the trash out, dust something. Thankfully I don’t have to clean my bathrooms and scrub the toilets, because that’s how I spent yesterday’s nap. Although, they’re probably all dirty again. FML.

Read a book. One of my goals for 2017 is to read more. I’m currently tackling The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and I can already tell it’s going to stick with me. I need to give a lot less fucks. I have a Goodreads list that I will never get through, even if I live to be 4,000. I have some educational books I want to read. I have a few fantasy books I’ve started and never finished. I want to re-read all the Harry Potter books.  There’s a bunch of parenting books I want to devour. I will probably never do any of these things.

Learn something. There’s a few online MOOC and certifications I’d like to tackle sooner rather than later. Google Analytics certification, for one. Content Marketing stuff. Some SEO things. All sorts of stuff to make me smarter, a better person, better at my job, etc. Who knows if those things will happen. This is so far down the priority list that sadly, it will probably never come to fruition.

Meal plan. Later today, I have to go to the grocery store. If I don’t want to end up relying on frozen crap, I should probably plan out what’s on the menu.

Prep lunch. When he wakes up, he’ll be hungry. So I should probably have something nutritious planned for him instead of just a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

Side gig stuff. Little known fact: I sell LuLaRoe clothes on the side. It’s a fun hobby that costs me more than I make, but I do enjoy it. I have invoices to send, shipping to do, clothes to organize and package. But I usually save this until the nighttime when Henry is sleeping.

Well, looks like this naptime is done. I spent this entire nap writing this blog post, because he only gave me an hour of “me” time. No shower I guess. ^_^

Sayonara, 2016

2016 will go down in record as probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. All of the tragic celebrity deaths aside, my life went head over heels topsy turvy in ways I never expected.

I went from having a moderately decent suburban life with a great little family and a wealth of furry critters, to losing it all. I found out that my husband wanted a divorce and we therefore had to sell our home. I had to rehome one of my dogs, and another of them passed away a week ago at the ripe age of 14. I had to sell my horse, which was a devastating blow. I moved to a new townhome with my son, who has been my rock through this whole thing.

It’s easy for me to fall into the “fuck the world, everything sucks” trap, but I’ve never been one to do that. I still have a life to live, and I’ll be damned if I’m spending it mourning what was rather than working toward what I want to happen. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out my identity post-motherhood, and I’ll admit I’m still in the thick of that, but I have a renewed clarity and motivation now that was hiding before.

In 2017, I have some plans. I’m not going to call them resolutions, and I’m not even going to call them goals. I have things I’m working toward and I will do my best to make strides toward achieving them. But I know that I’m single parenting a toddler, working a full time job, and I’ve been dealt a shitty deck of cards this year and I have a climb out of the rut ahead of me. I’m going to grant myself grace to not achieve everything, because my main job in life is to keep my son thriving, happy, and on a path to becoming a good person.

Having said that, he’s what I’m hoping to spend some time doing & thinking about in 2017:

  • Gaming more. It’s been hard to find time for it, but since I’ve been back playing a bit of Skyrim, Overwatch, League, and mobile games, I’m feeling rejuvenated and a little more like “myself”.  I have to remember to make time to do this, because I enjoy it. My biggest hobby (horses) was taken away from me, so I can’t just let myself be hobbyless. Gaming makes me feel good, so it’s gotta become a priority again for me.
  • Reading more books. I say this every year, but this year I mean it. I want to try to read (or listen to) a book a week. It’s easy for me to listen to podcasts instead, or skim news articles rather than sit down with a good book. But I have a Goodreads “to read” list a mile long with lots of meaty fantasy, inspiring nonfiction, and a couple of trashy romances thrown in for good measure.
  • Less internet. In particular, less smartphone. Considering during 2016 my wrist has been in a cyclical state of healing and reinjuring from repetitive stress from iPhone usage, I have to do something about that. It’s easy for me to fall into a trap of playing on my phone and browsing Facebook while my son is independently playing. But I want to be more present in general.
  • Figuring out My Life ™. I have a bunch of loose ends and big ambitions to figure out. I have a great job, but I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I “grow up” (and at 32, I should probably get on that). I want a hobby farm, and I would like to make some real strides toward making that happen. It probably means leaving California, and that’s okay. It might not happen in 2017, and that’s okay too. It might mean crashing in my parent’s attic for a year while I save to make my dreams happen for me and Henry.
  • Be more social. One thing that I’ve discovered, is that when you’re in a relationship for 9 years you tend to just rely on the other person for most of your companionship. At least I did. Throw in that most of my friends work in games and moved away over the past few years, and it’s left my existence rather lonely. I don’t have a ton of friends, and the ones I do are mostly text communication buddies at this point. I’d like to make new friendships, but at the very least I just need to flex my social muscles before I get too much out of practice and forget how.
  • Healthy eating & exercise habits. I already started this one by losing 22 lbs since October, but instead of making this a “stick to my diet” resolution, I’m going to say that I want to keep up the habits I’ve made. I want to keep steering far clear of sugar, because it has no redeeming qualities aside from taste. I want to get moving around more, hiking and lifting weights again. I want to get better sleep at night.

I’m excited to start the year with a fresh slate. I’ll be officially divorced on January 1st, so I’ll need to figure out that whole name changeback thing. If I do it.

Liebster Award Questionaire!

Apparently, I’ve been nominated for Liebster award — which means that Belghast has tagged me with the task of answering some questions on this here very blog!  Since I’m still trying to get back into blogging, this is a good opportunity for me to do some thinking and lay down some words for y’all.  Thanks Bel!

Bel’s Questions:

What are the three major elements of your ideal video game?

This is a fun question, but man – it’s kind of difficult.  Because I have a few favorite types of video games and sometimes they have absolutely nothing in common.  Sometimes my ideal video game is a fun roguelike where I don’t have to pay too much attention to the story and I can just die over and over.  Sometimes my ideal video game has a lot of competition.  And sometimes it’s a sprawling RPG world.

But I’ll say the first is probably story.  Story is important to me if I’m going to be attached to the game and feel compelled to write about it and engage with it outside the game. It’s what draws me in to the characters and the world and the lore, so it’s why games like WoW and Dragon Age and Mass Effect really appeal to me.  The second is collection.  I love collecting things in games, whether it’s minipets, quests, gear, achievements, you name it.  Having this feeling that I’m amassing some giant stockpile of ‘stuff’ is just always fun for me.  The final element for me is character design.  My ideal video game has fully fleshed out characters with detailed backstories who are believable, diverse, interesting, and preferably female. =)

What’s the origin of your blogging name?

Cuppy is the name that I choose for most things nowadays.  It stemmed from Cuppycake, which was the character I chose for my Undead Priest in WoW when I made her back in 2004.  I decided that I wanted the most cutesy sounding name because it would be ironic compared to my ugly Undead character with her jaw hanging off and her bones sticking out.  Since then, Cuppy has stuck.  My original MMO blog was Cuppytalk and I’ve chosen to keep the name ever since.

What is your favorite biome?

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Easy.  Jungly Forests.  Not dark scary forests like Silverpine, but forests like Feralas. Lush, green, full of vines, hills, random flowers.  Bright green palette.  A place where I’m more likely to find whimsical critters than big baddies.  Mushrooms and butterflies rather than icky swamps.

What is your favorite genre of movie?

Documentaries, actually.  I watch a TON of documentaries.  Basically anything that hits Netflix or Amazon Prime, I’ve seen it.  I love dark, gripping, chilling ones mostly.  Things about illnesses, crime, psychiatric disorders, class and war issues, things like that.  I also like docs about occupations I know nothing about, or about food & nutrition, politics, you name it.  Some of my favorites include Virunga, Dear Zachary, There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, man….the list goes on.  Love them!

How did you get started blogging?

Well, technically — I wanted to join in the MMO conversation so I started Cuppytalk in 2006.  Then I got a job in the industry in 2007 and stopped blogging as much, but I enjoyed evoking debate and starting shit.  I don’t know why, but being adversarial was always my thing.  Picking fights and such.  I was fiercely opinionated about games, but all that has been tempered since actually joining the game industry and seeing how things REALLY work. 😉 But before that, I wrote on MySpace blog, LiveJournal, Xanga, you name it. I’ve always enjoyed having an ‘online diary’ of sorts.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

My fondest memory is probably the day I found out I was getting my first horse. I was 11, and I’d been taking riding lessons since I was 6 and daydreaming about horses ever since.  I was spending all my waking hours at the barn, wishing I had a horse of my own.  I used to write a diary on a typewriter, pretending I had a pony or horse and making up stories about it.  Finally, my mom worked out a deal to get me a horse through her employer, the St. Paul Police Department, which had a mounted police program.  What she didn’t realize was that the horse was a reject.  He didn’t work because he was…well…kind of crazy.  I used to fall off of him all the time, but I loved him to pieces and he basically made my childhood a dream come true. I don’t have a single memory of him, but Rocky crafted my preteen and teenager years and I still to this day have to own a horse to be happy. 🙂

What is your favorite in game “mount” and why?

I don’t know why…but I don’t actually have one.  I really like the plain ol’ horses, like some of the LotRO horses and there’s even a horse or two in RIFT that I really like.  WoW mounts tend to be too fantastical for my liking, but just  having plain horses and ponies would make me happy.  If I had to name one though – it’s my Sparklepony. I remember when that horse went for sale it looked like it would be limited, like they only had so many to sell and if I didn’t pay $30 or whatever for it – I’d lose my chance forever.  I love that thing and still ride it in WoW to this day.

Do you collect “mini pets” in game, and if so do you have a favorite?

Yes, I do, but not nearly as obsessively as others.  In WoW I collect them, and my favorite is my Fluxfire Feline that I got from the Gnome? starting area.  I love it because it’s robotic and cool and it’s a rare, and it just seems like a cool pet.

Cats, dogs, or something else?

Horses. But I also have three dogs (two Boxers and a Min Pin) and I love them to pieces.  So let’s just say ALL ANIMALS.

Describe your relationship with your automobile?

Eh, it’s a car.  It’s a hand-me-down from my husband (though it’s nice..it’s a 2011 Mazda 3 hatchback) but it’s not the car of my dreams that I would pick out.  But it’s a good car with good gas mileage and it makes a good barn vehicle with the hatch.  I don’t have a name for it or anything.

What role of the holy trinity of tank/dps/healer fits your personality most?

Oh jeez. Probably dps, because I’m frantic and clumsy and I tend to do damage everywhere I go.  I’m loud and front of the line though too, so maybe tank?  And I also am deeply empathetic and care for people, so maybe healer too. I don’t know, I think I break the bounds and kind of represent all of them. =D

Well, there we go!  These were fun to answer, but I have to admit that I don’t really know anyone to tag.  I don’t follow a ton of MMO blogs anymore, and the ones I do have mostly already been tagged.  So, I’ll just leave it here and enjoy reading the posts from around the blogosphere!

The Point of WoD, or, the State of WoW

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There’s a post from the amazing Anne Stickney over on Blizzard Watch that felt so interesting, so important that I wanted to highlight it here.  (Aside – can I just say how happy I am that Blizzard Watch exists and seems to be continuing the kind of steam the team had at WoW Insider?  So relieved!)

Which is why it’s so weird that right now, standing a little over three months into the expansion, I am desperately looking for a story that simply is not there. It’s even more strange because the leveling experience from 90-100 was so good — but once you hit level 100 and finish all zone quests, the narrative simply peters out. Draenor is a world that reeks of history, untold stories and mysteries that have yet to be discovered, much less solved, but we are floundering in our garrisons looking for some kind of meaning to it all.

Yes yes YES!  This!

I love World of Warcraft, I always have.  One thing that has always driven my desire to play the game is the story that is so huge, so sprawling, so deep.  I love the world, the characters, the backstories, the lore, the setting, everything.  The Warlords of Draenor concept as an expansion felt incredible to me — a chance to go back and see some of the big characters from days yonder, big figureheads from WoW lore pre-WoW.  It felt like Caverns of Time on steroids, an entire expansion of cool characters doing awesome shit, and how could I not stand behind that?

Levels 90-100 were so compelling, so fabulous.  The questing didn’t feel tedious, because I wanted to know what would happen next.  The cutscenes were downright magnificent and the story drove the whole leveling experience.  Now, at level 100 — I’m just unsure what’s next.  I find myself hand-wringing in my garrison, brainlessly doing chores and sending my followers out on supposed exciting journeys that I get to share no part in.  The apexis dailies are monotonous and not story-driven at all, the Highmaul raid and Blackrock Foundry are so lore-light that they feel like simply ways to improve my ilvl with little else to get invested in.  There’s no more story arcs, just hints and glimpses and bits and pieces of disconnected unfinished stories with supposed badasses lingering in the world without a threat.

Which is why I’m bored.  I’m not logging in much anymore, because I’m not really just interested in filling bars and meters and ticking off boxes without a story to encompass my actions.  And it’s why FFXIV is appealing to me right now, because if there is one thing that Square Enix excels at, it’s story. But I don’t have the immense love for the mythos of Final Fantasy as I do for Warcraft, so I know I’ll be back.  Patch 6.1 doesn’t seem to be bringing enough to excite me into coming back, but perhaps a content & story driven patch 6.2 could bring my excitement back?  Maybe when Tanaan drops and we find out more about Gul’dan?  I don’t know.

Rejoining the Blogosphere

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Hello Again

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged regularly. I’ve never stopped gaming, but for some reason Twitter has become the main place that I talk about that part of my life.  I do miss interacting in comments and having a sort of ‘living memoir’ for my gaming experience, so I’ve decided to commit to blogging on here more often.  I don’t really expect to devote time to long-winded prognostications about the industry and where it’s going, but instead just blab about my experiences and thoughts on whatever game(s) I’m currently enjoying. So, hello again!  I feel glad to be home.

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Exploring Eorzea

Since Warlords of Draenor launched, World of Warcraft has been my main stomping ground.  At this point, I’ve grown a bit fatigued with the whole thing and have been searching desperately for another MMO to get lost in.  Since Belghast and Jaedia and a smattering of bloggers have found their current home in FFXIV, I decided to join up with them.  The highest I’ve gotten in FFXIV was about 22 or so, just high enough to get my chocobo on my Lalafell White Mage.   This time, I’m going Scholar, so I started with Arcanist and have been having a good time so far.

Every time I peek my head back into FFXIV I am enamored all over again with the look of the world and the charm of the characters and dialogue.  Belghast said something in Free Company chat about how FFXIV is one of the best and deepest games that does a piss poor job of presenting things to players, and I think that’s pretty spot on.  I’m thankful that I have a FC to ask questions of, because things aren’t presented with a pretty bow all the time.

We’ll see how long it lasts, but so far I’m really enjoying myself.

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Forge.GG

There’s a new service going around that’s like part social network for gamers, part streaming service called Forge.GG.  I just got my invite today and haven’t tried out the streaming yet, but the service seems slick and the UI is nice. So far, I’m kind of underwhelmed by the quality of the streams that are being uploaded though.  They don’t make the games look all that great, so we’ll see if I stick around.  Feel free to follow me if you’re on Forge!

My opinions on Hatred and Valve’s decision

Twitter’s character limit leaves me unable to express my opinions on this, so here’s my thoughts on the game Hatred and its controversy.

I would never play this game. I think its content is disgusting, and I wouldn’t be able to handle the graphic violence of murdering innocent victims in cold blood.  I play games for fun, and this game would not add fun to my life.

It’s not the only game I won’t play.  I also won’t show games that glorify or show graphic depictions of animals being killed.  I think games like Big Buck Hunter and the animal killing parts of Far Cry 4 are disgusting.  See the above, where I talk about how I can’t handle the graphic violence of murdering innocent victims in cold blood, whether non-human animals or human animals.  Our society might be desensitized to one, but to me – they’re in line with each other.  I also won’t play games like Consensual Torture Simulator, because the subject matter is just not for me, and that’s okay.

I don’t care that Hatred is on Steam.  Just because I would not personally play this game, doesn’t mean I don’t think anyone should.  It might be an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t have an issue with Super Columbine Massacre existing either.  Until we can decide what kind of content is straight up ‘illegal’, I think there are too many grey areas to draw arbitrary lines in the sand (see the Postal vs. Hatred arguments).  The internet is full of horrible things, most of them skirting the rules around what’s allowed.   One can make decisions to completely avoid it, and their internet experience isn’t ruined.  Big Buck Hunter is literally about murdering defenseless animals for sport, which I find absolutely abhorrent.  But, it has every right to exist and I’m fine with that.

If Valve are going to moderate Greenlight games, they need transparency.  It’s just the right thing to do here.  If companies are relying on your platform for their livelihood and you’ve established yourself as the place to publish your game for massive success, it’s good business to be transparent about rules and regulations. I’d expect to see a detailed description of the moderation process, including what kind of content is straight up not allowed on Steam, and what appeals process there is (if any), and how many ‘strikes’ a game gets, etc.  Even though they made the decision to restore Hatred to Greenlight, what about the next game that crosses the line even further?  There’s always someone trying to push the barrier further and further, so it’s in Steam’s best interest to be transparent about this stuff before it happens again.

They need to moderate their forum cesspit.  This isn’t really debatable for me here — right now, the Hatred forums are filled with comments from people who are demanding that the developers add DLC which allows them to murder Anita Sarkeesian and other “SJWs”.  Apparently the responsibility for moderating these forums has always fell with the developers themselves, but that feels like Valve trying to avoid the extra overhead of watching all those forums for inappropriate content.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — that’s the responsibility you assume when you open online forums.  If you’re not ready to police the boards for unsafe, inappropriate, illegal, or harassing content – you shouldn’t have boards.  Right now, there is blatant hate speech taking place on Steam’s platform and they can’t abstain from all responsibility for it. This stuff is disgusting, and needs to go.

Long Time, No Post

Oh hey everyone, I totally forgot I have a blog. 😉

(Just kidding, I would never forget about the 5 people who read this!)

In all honesty, I’ve been blogging elsewhere about non-videogame things, and until Warlords of Draenor was released I’ve been spending little time playing games because I’ve been busy with work and things.  I’ve been back in WoW for the past couple of months, scrambling to finish bucket list items I’d been wanting to do (achievements, killing Garrosh, getting my heirloom weapon, transmogging, running old raids) but now that WoD is live – it’s all fun and games in Draenor.  Can I just say that I’m loving this expansion?  I just dinged level 100 yesterday on Thanksgiving, and I’m currently exploring all the fun there is to do in the end game.  I feel like this expansion has so much to do, so much depth to the gameplay that I’m being pulled in so many directions and I love it!  The story and the quests are just fantastic. Here’s the state of my experience as it stands right now.

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My Garrison

Garrisons are an amazing addition to WoW.  I managed to remain completely unspoiled throughout the beta, and I’m super happy that I did.  I had no idea what to expect out of my garrison and so far it’s blown me away.  I love the followers (I’m so attached to them) and missions, and having my own personal herb garden and mine, and bank and vendors. It’s like my own little antisocial home in WoW, and I’m totally down for it.  I’m not 100% solid about my decisions on my buildings because I didn’t really read any guides.  I have a level 2 herb garden, fishing shack, and mine, and a level 1 storehouse and stables, a level 2 Scribe’s Quarters and Lumber Mill.  I have three empty spaces right now because I’m lacking the garrison resources to build anything new, so I have to optimize my follower missions better.

Alts

Of course I leveled my Restokin Druid Treetopsy first to 100.  My Shadow/Disc Priest Jiraa is only level 91 and has her garrison, though I haven’t had a moment to think about playing her since the second day of the expansion. I have a level 90 Hunter that I boosted who hasn’t even journeyed to Draenor yet, and all other alts have been forgotten.  There is so much to do on Treetopsy that I can’t imagine juggling multiple characters!

Questing

I feel like getting to 100 was incredibly fast. Way faster than it took me to go 85-90 in Pandaria the first time. I finished Frostfire Ridge, Gorgrond, and Talador and only did half of Spires of Arak.  I have all of Nagrand left to check out!  I also have to finish all the exploration and bonus achievements, along with

Proving Grounds

I completed Bronze Healer and Silver Healer, but Gold Healer is way too hard for me at my current ilvl. I’m completely out of mana at the end and barely beat Silver.  I need to get better gear and come back for this!

Pet Battling

I am so so so so behind on this.  At some point I need to devote a ton of time to grinding out some great pets, finishing the Azeroth & Pandaria pet trainers before moving on to WoD, and need to get the pet menagerie so I can do pet dailies.  Argh, so much to do!

Tradeskills

I maxed out my Herbalism and I am slowly grinding up Inscription. I’m thankful that my husband doesn’t need herbs for anything so he sends me all of his herbs in exchange for my ore.  I’m fine with that! =)  It means I can mill all my herbs for work orders and daily cooldowns and hopefully I will have my inscription staff soon!

Gear

I’m sitting at ilvl 582 right now. A long cry from being able to do Molten Core or any of the heroics.  However, considering I have a ton of quests left in Spires of Arak and Nagrand, and have all the level 100 dungeons left to do, I think I’ll be just fine and I’ll enjoy the gear grind.

I’m going to try to chronicle my fun in WoW more often here.  For the meantime, have some screenies! =D

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