The first day of the rest of my life

Hey everyone! I thought I would post again to let you all know that I’m okay! It’s been a really difficult few months, for me and for the people closest to me. I basically had an enormously productive nervous breakdown/midlife crisis. It’s been fucking awful.

I’m sorry that I’ve been lashing out a bit. I’ve been blessed with a lot of clarity recently and my life is going to be changing radically as I move forward. I’ve been so fucked up and lonely and stifled/oppressed by my PTSD and trauma that I couldn’t see myself clearly at all. I couldn’t see how much my PTSD and trauma were colouring every aspect of my life.

These very vulnerable posts that I’ve been making have been an important way of asserting boundaries that I’ve never had (I have almost never set boundaries when it comes to people at all) and also as a mechanism for me to discover who is at my back. Cancer started this process for me and now I’m trying to move forward more intentionally. The path I’m carving out for myself is financially precarious and seething with the critical voices of millions of people who are more hurt, angry, and damaged than I am.

And they are going to come for me.

So thank you everyone who has responded to me over the past few weeks or sent me inspiration or really anything. All of you have inspired me so much and have had a profound effect on everything I will be doing for the rest of my life.

I am finally going to show some of you (those who are smart enough to be interested right now) who I am. I’m going to teach you about all of the things I’ve loved and all of the things that have brought me inspiration, gratitude, and joy over the course of my miserable 38 year long life.

I’m going to teach you how cancer has been the most significant rung on my growth ladder to date. And I’m going to show you a way to live, a way to think, and a way to appreciate yourself and the things around you because I really fucking don’t want cancer to be a part of anyone else’s growth ladder.

I’m also going to teach you about health. About how I’ve become invested in my health as a fat person, and how fat phobia, particularly medical weight stigma, has made me destroy my body. Because that’s what I’ve done, I destroyed my body. There are a lot of very complex, vulnerable, scary reasons for that. They’re reasons that can help you live a healthier life, whether you’re fat or thin or somewhere in between.

I am the owner of three (3) very serious inflammatory auto-immune conditions. I have decreased the inflammation in my body to the point where it basically doesn’t exist anymore. Let me teach you how I still get to eat Wendy’s and also reduce the inflammation in my body at the same time.

The ultimate secret is gratitude. It’s finding things in the world that you can be grateful for. It’s finding things in the world that lift you up, that you can love despite their flaws: people, books, video games, crafts, art, culture. It’s about not punishing Jeff Gerstmann for giving Twilight Princess an 8.8. It’s about kindness and generosity and accepting that we can still love things that others don’t like and that we can still love things even though they aren’t perfect.

I’m sorry that I don’t have much to show you yet, but let this be my commitment to you that something big is coming from me. I’m not sure if it will ever be anything other than my new, whole face, my new whole combined self that I use to build my tribe. But I realized that I’ve been compartmentalizing my life in all the wrong ways.

And really, none of you know anything about me.

I want to rectify that. I want to be a whole ass adult fucking person. I want you to see what I’ve been doing all these years, because no one has any fucking idea! I want to publicly, without apology or guilt, live my best fucking life.

I’m going to be planning out this project in October. In November, I’m going to do NaNoWriMo for the first time. I love writing challenges. I’ve done NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) at least 5 times now (2 or 3 times successfully) and it’s always been a challenging but rewarding experience. I want to do that differently this time. I want to write essays, but I want them to have a unifying theme and this is what I will be doing over the next two months. 50 000 words is nothing, I can do that in my sleep.

I will also be doing some reconnecting with friends, chosen family, and with my incredible partner, Sean Whitworth, who has been my amazingly supportive #1 fan for the past 6 years and who I could never, ever have done any of this without. When I was in my most desperate and lonely place, he extended a hand to me. I don’t think either of us ever knew how important that would be, but that was my true lollipop moment. I would not be here right now without you.

And really, I wouldn’t be here right now without all of you. Everyone who has touched my life has inspired me in some way. Some negative, some positive, some mixed. I have loved you all in some way and my love is pure and eternal because I can see your damage too. I can see your hurt and pain and your flaws and I’m still here. I see you. I notice you.

And what I really, really want to do is put my arms around all of you and bring you with me. So please be patient, but consistent, and I will show you how much I love you.

Media Round-up for 29/04/2018

Heavy Rain

heavy rainI have an odd relationship with David Cage/Quantic Dream games.  In many ways, they’re terrible.  The stories are odd mash-ups of bad American action film tropes, the actors are all Europeans who generally fail at speaking with American accents, and everyone hates quicktime events.  Despite all those flaws, I generally credit Indigo Prophecy with rekindling my interest in video games back in 2005 — it had a huge impact on me at the time.

When Heavy Rain was announced, I was so excited about it that I purchased a Playstation 3; however, I chickened out and never played it.  Given the story’s subject matter of trying to catch a serial killer I thought it might be a little too scary (I am a baby about scary things, despite loving true crime).  Since my boyfriend and I got together four years ago, he’s been trying to convince me to play Heavy Rain, which he loves despite and because of all its ridiculous flaws.  Over our last two visits, we were finally able to finish it.  I played the first half of the game while he watched and, due to my hands being awful, he played the second half of the game while I watched and made the narrative choices.

Overall, I enjoyed Heavy Rain, but I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun with it if Sean and I hadn’t played it together.  Many elements of the game are unintentionally funny, such as the awful voice acting and the bad controls.  Being able to laugh about those elements together made the experience enjoyable in a way that I don’t think would have been the same if I’d been playing alone.  I also think that, while the story has its share of trite moments and some of the side characters are more than a little offensive, the way the it unfolds and the sheer number of endings and branching paths is quite impressive.  Character death is meaningful and can completely change the outlook of the story.  Many games attempt to provide players with narrative choices and they mostly don’t mean very much in the long run.  While the story mechanics aren’t perfect in Heavy Rain, I think think that Quantic Dream has pulled these elements off quite well.

The Girl on the Train

girl on the trainThe April theme for my ONTD reading challenge was to read a book with an unreliable narrator.  After poking around some lists on Goodreads, I noticed that I already owned The Girl on the Train and figured I should read it and avoid purchasing something new.  I’m trying my best to use the ONTD challenge to read books that I own and haven’t yet read — it’s been working out quite nicely and I’ve enjoyed both the books themselves and the feeling of using up things I already own.

The Girl on the Train isn’t the best thriller I’ve ever read, but I did enjoy it.  I love authors who risk writing female characters that are not likeable (I loved The Bell Jar for this as well) and I think that Paula Hawkins has created three remarkable female characters who are strong, smart, messed up, and interesting: not likeable, but somehow also sympathetic.  I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the likeability of female characters in fiction, but Roxane Gay has said all of them a lot better than I ever could in this essay, so I won’t go into them here.

The story is mainly about a woman named Rachel, who lives just outside London.  She is struggling with alcoholism after her divorce and she commutes to work by train.  Over time, she becomes a bit obsessed with watching this one married couple whose house she rides past every day.  When the wife of the couple she’s obsessed with, Megan, disappears, Rachel has information about the disappearance, but she struggles to remember due to an alcohol-induced blackout: mystery and deception ensue.

The book’s narration is first person and, while Rachel is the main character, some chapters are written from the perspective of Megan and another woman named Anna (who is currently married to Rachel’s ex-husband).  The best aspect of the book, for me, was this three narrator format.  It’s obvious that Rachel’s memory is not particularly reliable, but having the two other narrators always made me wonder which of them might also be lying or deceiving the reader.  This kept me guessing about what was going on throughout most of the story, though I did have some accurate guesses about the true nature of some of the characters early on.

Overall, The Girl on the Train was an enjoyable read.  Nicely written, an interesting main character, a decent mystery and good suspense.  While I sometimes veer away from books that are wildly popular, I sometimes like to check them out to see if they live up to the hype.  I would say this book falls a little short, but it’s still a fun read.

Vacation time!

Hello!  I just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know that I will be taking a little hiatus this week to enjoy a much-needed visit with my boyfriend.  I will be resuming my posting schedule next Tuesday (March 27, 2018).  I hope you all have a wonderful week and thank you for taking the time to read my blog when you can.  If you have a chance, please let me know what you think!  Your feedback means a lot to me!

Take care and see you next week!

Time for a spending freeze!

3712392Despite the fact that my parents and I intended to not buy tons of presents for Christmas this year, I wound up overspending on gifts, both for my parents and for myself.  Right now, due to my current financial circumstances, I feel like the best way to get back on track is to go on a spending freeze, which I will be starting this week.  I have attempted this challenge twice previously and I have found it to a great tool for boosting savings or debt repayment.

As I said in Part 1 of my Goals for 2018 series, I learned a lot about personal finance in 2017 — something that I had avoided dealing with for the majority of my adult life.  I’ve always been terrible about money and I felt like I was so stuck in my irresponsible ways that I was beyond help.  I began to realize, however, that in order to move forward with my life and give myself options for the future, I needed to make a significant change.  There’s nothing that can make you feel more stuck than having a large amount of personal debt and no savings.

I did a lot of research —  mostly through YouTube.  I wanted to know how normal folks were managing to make smart financial decisions to pay down debt and save money and I needed to start with the basics.  It turns out that there’s a substantial frugal living community on YouTube from which I was able to glean a lot of simple tips and basic best practices.  It was in a YouTube video that I first heard about the concept of a spending freeze.  The more I learned about this technique, the more I felt that it might be useful for my situation.

At the time, I had also been watching a lot of videos about minimalism and de-cluttering.  These videos stressed using what you have instead of buying more things that you don’t need and might never use.  The minimalists got me thinking about the things that I owned that I hadn’t yet used and I started to take a rough inventory.  It turns out that I own loads of manga I haven’t read (though in most cases I have read the scans and just not the hard copy English releases), games I haven’t played, books I haven’t read, and I have a stash of arts and crafts materials that I haven’t yet used, such as yarn, needle felting kits, and colouring books.  What, then, other than food, basic bills, toiletries, and a few aesthetic treatments I have regularly, did I need to spend any money on?

Absolutely nothing.

And so I decided, toward the end of February, that I would have two spending freezes in 2017: one in March and one in September.  I chose those months in particular because they were my extra paycheque months for 2017, thus I could maximize the amount of money that I would pay toward my debt.  I set the following rules for myself:

  1. I will purchase no video games, books, manga, crafting supplies, home decor, clothing, stationery or any other consumer goods.
  2. If I run out of any toiletries, such as facial cleanser or hand soap, I can re-purchase the same item or replace it with something in a similar price range.
  3. I have a small allowance set aside for eating out and I cannot exceed that amount (if my mother wants to buy dinner once in awhile, this does not count against my allowance).
  4. I may have one or two pre-planned video game purchases.  I can purchase these when they are released; however, it may be better to wait until a price drop if I am not going to start playing them immediately.

My attempt in March was a disaster.  I fell off the wagon almost immediately and consistently over-spent my takeout allowance.  I was poorly prepared (both financially and mentally), but I did manage to reduce my spending significantly and pay a solid amount toward my debt.  My September attempt was a huge success and I came very close to paying off my credit card balance ($8000 at the beginning of 2017) entirely, a feat I would proudly achieve in October.

Right now, my net income has been substantially reduced.  I am earning about 35% less than usual; however, I have been spending like I am earning my full income (or even a little more than that).  This is mostly emotional spending.  Some of my purchases have been necessary as they are mechanisms that I believe will assist me in achieving my goals for the 2018, but many of my purchases have been “Hi, I have Cancer, so I will now treat myself” in nature.  I don’t feel any guilt about making those purchases, because I am happy with them and I feel like we all need to be a little frivolous at times, but now it’s time to reign myself in.

Throughout the rest of January and all of February I will be following the rules that I have set for myself above.  This will allow me, hopefully, to pay off my holiday spending quickly and set me on track for another financially responsible year in 2018!  I’ll be posting some periodic updates on my progress, so please check them out!


Me and Feminism

rosieAs a young woman in my late teens and early 20s, my feminism had three main tenets: I was rabidly pro-choice; I was interested in LGBTQ rights; I didn’t want to be a housewife like my mother.  The third idea culminated in a sort of “bad bitch” attitude of privileged, second-wave feminism that, in my opinion, was  damaging to me and my progress as a person.  I completely rejected the nurturing side of myself:  I refused to do housework, I refused to learn how to cook.  I could get a partner who could do those things for me — I was a career woman and would never be trapped into servitude like my mother.  I was way too smart for that shit.

Quick side bar: my mother actually worked from home for most of my youth and only stopped when her parents needed care.  When my father left my mother in 2002, she had seen the writing on the wall, gone back to school, and was able to get a decent job as an admin in a mental health centre.  I’m not sure why I was so attached to the idea of my mother as a full-time housewife, but I think I probably just wanted to be a career-focused person and I didn’t want to get stuck in a shitty relationship for as long as my mother was.

I was also not ready to make any effort to understand true inequality (I’m not even sure I would have been capable of it at the time).  I wanted everyone to have equal rights, but I also felt as though many of the more difficult battles had already been fought and won.  I was naive enough to believe that we were living in a post-racist and post-sexist society where the only rights that really needed defending were LGBTQ and abortion rights.  In some ways, this is not particularly surprising.  I’m white, I grew up in an affluent household, I was a spoiled only child and I was never told that I couldn’t do things because I was a woman.  The only real adversity I had ever had to face was some family drama and my emotionally abusive father.

My “bad bitch” attitude softened a bit over the next few years.  My parents split up and my life got a bit crazy.  I was working two part-time jobs, going to university part time and helping to look after my father’s father.  I had a boyfriend and I tried to have a social life.  This didn’t leave me with any space for politics: lot of aspects of my life were serious and important and I wanted to have fun in my spare time.  This was when I started to become more closely involved in fandom.

When I say fandom, I’m nearly always referring to the female-dominated sector of fandom, where most fanfiction comes from.  What many male members of the video game community probably don’t realize is that discussions about diversity, equality and representation in fictional media started popping up in female-dominated fandom communities years prior to the emergence of figures like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, who would push these issues to the forefront of video games.

My response to those discussions was always politely dismissive: I wasn’t interested in political discussion getting in the way of my fun.  Fandom was my escape from the heaviness of my everyday life and, at that time, I needed to keep things light.  My reaction to those discussions and politics was quite similar to the video game community’s reaction to Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women Kickstarter campaign: I wanted them to stay far away from me.  The big difference being that I just avoided those discussions rather than going to online forums and uttering death and rape threats.

I’m not a huge fan of Anita Sarkeesian, but I credit her with being the lightning rod that inspired the development of my true feminism.  When the controversy over her Kickstarter campaign began, I was horrified by the kinds of behaviour and comments I witnessed in communities where I had previously felt welcome.  For example, I had been an active member of the Giant Bomb community since the site had started and the forums had always been a place where I felt comfortable hanging out.  The reaction to the Tropes vs. Women Kickstarter campaign, however, made me feel completely unsafe.

Thousands upon thousands of men in the video game community flocked to Anita Sarkeesian’s website and social media accounts and threatened her with death and rape.  They subsequently flocked to popular video game forums to talk about what a bitch she was, how ugly she was, how stupid she was, and how she had no right to voice her opinion about video games.  Some even attempted to dox her and prove that her family was affluent so that they could approach Kickstarter and report her campaign as a scam (there was a huge thread on Giant Bomb that was devoted to this that was, thankfully, deleted).

If all this was done in response to a series of YouTube videos that probably wouldn’t even be widely viewed, what would these men say to me if I disagreed with them?  What would happen to me if I agreed with her arguments?  What if I questioned the representation of women in video games from my own perspective?  Would they speak to me this way?  Would they threaten and bully me? Of course they would.  They had given me no evidence to the contrary.

It was this horrible reaction to Anita Sarkeesian that made me realize that we were not living in a post-sexist society.   From there I started actively trying to gain a better understanding of inequality.   I read books by marginalized authors and I read feminist literature and contemporary memoirs.  My mother needed my help and I became her full-time caregiver for a year.  I taught myself how to cook and how to bake (turns out I’m pretty damned good at both).  I volunteered at a women’s shelter.  I finally started to embrace the nurturing part of myself and I allowed myself to see that there were people in the world that I needed to fight for.

In many ways my accepting myself as a nurturer was akin to accepting my femininity, something that I had never been able to do.  While this was a stepping stone in my feminist development, I have actually arrived at a place beyond that.  While activities like cooking can be caring and nurturing, it is incorrect to assume that caring and nurturing are inherently feminine.  Radical feminist author bell hooks (yes, her name is all lowercase) has written extensively about the fact that loving and nurturing should be natural to both men and women and it is our gendered view of society that limits those traits to women.  If we think about cooking from this perspective, cooking isn’t a feminine activity that comes naturally to women because they are caregivers.  Cooking is a life skill that we should all learn in order to care for ourselves and the people we love, regardless of gender.

Men and women are different, but I believe that removing gendered preconceptions from my life makes it a lot simpler and prevents me from limiting my options.  Within myself, I have the capacity to accomplish a great deal, especially if I can move past society’s, and my own, preconceptions of what I should be.  As I write this, I am 36 years old — soon to be 37.  I discovered my true feminism a little later than some and it has been a long and arduous process.  I know that I will still make mistakes from time to time and that my views will continue to evolve, but I am proud of how far I’ve come.





What to expect from Stand Commonly in 2018

If you read my posts on my goals for 2018, then you know that one of my most important goals for this year is to write as much as possible.  As such, I will be creating a great deal of content for this blog.  I have exciting plans for the year ahead, including:

1. I will post entries on general topics at least twice per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

I have loads of ideas for potential series, such as:

  • Living with cancer and surviving during chemotherapy
  • Mental health and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
  • Techniques and tools for self-improvement
  • Career development and learning new skills (mostly depends on how I’m feeling)
  • “Me and …” where I discuss significant developments in my life and how I currently feel about them
  • My de-cluttering journey
  • Progress updates on my goals for 2018

2. I will post reviews of video games I play, books and manga I read, and TV series and movies I watch.

At the moment, I have the Media Round-up format, where I plan to write 2-4 short reviews and post them in one long entry per week.  This format makes sense for now as I like to keep album reviews short and a lot of the other media I have been consuming has been on the shorter side.  I may change this format in the future, however, depending on  whether I feel like I’m able to say what I want to say without writing posts that are 2000 words long.  It’s possible that I may write a few more substantial reviews as regular Tuesday/Friday posts if I feel like whatever I am reviewing deserves a little more attention.

3. I will be updating the visual style.

I’m quite new to WordPress and I’m terrible at web design, but I would like to experiment with customizing Stand and see if I can make it a bit more representative of my personality.  I think the experience will be valuable for me and make the blog look a lot nicer.  It’s not bad right now, just very simple, and I think it could look much better.

4. Include more images.

I have never been a photo taking person, but I would like to start learning a bit more about photography and including more photographs and images into Stand’s content.  I also plan to start actually using my Instagram account, which I hope to integrate into the site.

I am so excited to get started on making Stand something that I can really be proud of.  I hope that all of you reading this will be able to learn something new or find something to entertain you here.  Let’s have a creative and peaceful 2018!

Media Round-up for 07/01/2018

I finally invested in a decent lap desk, which has made playing PC games on my laptop much more comfortable.  As such, I’ve been on a bit of a tear playing shorter indie games on Steam.  Many of my media round-up posts in the coming weeks/months will include reviews of games similar to the ones below.

One Night Stand

onenightOne Night Stand is an excellent experimental indie visual novel that is a refreshing and intimate take on the genre.  Instead of engaging in various courtship rituals and trying to impress or please a potential mate, One Night Stand is about navigating your way through an awkward situation.  You’ve woken up in an unknown woman’s bed with a raging hangover and no idea how you got there.  Once the woman wakes up, you are able to interact with items in her room (the number of things you can look at is limited) and converse with her.  Different combinations of items and dialogue options will determine how the game unfolds.  There are 12 endings in total, many of them offering substantially different dialogue other than a few set conversations (which are easy to fast forward through).

I heartily enjoyed One Night Stand.  I have a soft spot for atypical visual novels (Digital: a Love Story is one of my favourite games of all time) and, while I did experience some hitching and performance issues, the game’s art is gorgeous and unique.  The game’s subject matter and its art style combine to create an experience that feels intimate and personal in a way that I think demonstrates what a great medium video games is to present this type of story.  I recommend One Night Stand to anyone who likes experimental visual novels or short, story-focused experiences.


reignsReigns is a game with a great concept that doesn’t quite hit the mark.  The game is essentially a Tinder visual novel. You play as a king who is trying to rule a kingdom and survive as long as possible.  Various characters from your court will approach you with conundrums, most of which you can respond to with a simple yes or no (swiping right or left).  Typically, your decisions will impact one or more of your four resources (the church, the people, the army and the treasury).  You must balance out your resources, because if any one is completely depleted you will die and have to start over as the next king.

This sounds great to me as a concept, but in practice I just didn’t find the game to be particularly fun.  I found that sometimes my character would die quite arbitrarily or the decisions presented to me would make it nearly impossible to balance my resources sufficiently to keep moving forward.  Some characters and scenarios can send you on interesting little side paths, but I felt like I wasn’t finding those paths very often — even though I was still early in the game I found that I was getting a lot of repetition.  I also wasn’t particularly impressed by the game’s writing, which made the repetition particularly irksome.  All and all, for me this game was a bit of a disappointment, but I am glad that I tried it out because the idea itself is so interesting.


Cancer Update: Prognosis Improved!

Yesterday I finally received some good news!

I received the results of my bone marrow biopsy and it looks like the cancer has not spread to my bone marrow.  This is incredibly good news as it reduces me down to Stage III from Stage IV.  At first, the doctor (a locum, because my regular oncologist is away on vacation) told me that I am still Stage IV, but we read through the staging criteria for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma together and, so long as the cancer hasn’t spread to another system of my body, I am actually at Stage III.

This means so much for my prognosis.  Base 5-year survival rates for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are 65% at Stage IV and 80% at Stage III which, in my opinion, is a huge difference.  If you add in the fact that I wasn’t having any symptoms of Lymphoma (drenching night sweats, unexplained fever or weight loss) prior to my diagnosis, this means that my chances of making it through this ordeal are quite good.

When I heard the doctor mention that the cancer may have spread to my bone marrow, I instantly lost a great deal of hope and morale.  She also discussed the fact that, if the chemotherapy wasn’t effective in eradicating the cancer, there were other options.  I have been dreading those other options.  I have been dreading the fact that I might need further treatment after chemotherapy.  While I know that it is still highly possible that I will need further treatment after chemotherapy is completed, I feel like I can at least be a little more optimistic about the fact that the chemo alone might be enough.  I can’t express in words how much that means to me and the positive effect that it has had on my morale. I spent a few hours this afternoon crying.  I was completely overcome with emotion.

Today I’m going for my second chemotherapy infusion (I should actually be on my way home by the time this post goes up).  Of course I’m dreading it, but I’m happy that I will, at least, be going in with a little more hope than I did last time.

I will probably be pretty quiet for a few days, but I’ve written and scheduled my next three posts, so please watch out for them.


Goals for 2018: Part 2

Today I’ll be continuing my short series on my goals for 2018!  If you missed the first post, please read it here.

6. Care for myself mentally.

It’s no secret that I have issues with depression and anxiety and my current health crisis means that I will have to work at looking after my mental health this year.  I will have my bad days, but it is imperative that I keep up a positive (or at least neutral) attitude more consistently than usual.  I have several plans to assist me in accomplishing this.  First, I have been referred to the BC Cancer Agency’s counselling department, so I will be getting some professional help that is designed specifically to assist me in coping with cancer and treatment.  Second, some of the aspects of my journaling routine are focused upon positive thinking, affirmations, and gratitude.  Third, I have loads of video games to play, books to read, TV shows to watch and a forum to express how I feel about them.  I’m the most excited about that part!  Fourth, it is my hope that I will finally start working through the CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) workbook that I purchased earlier this year when I had my first panic attack.

7. Learn Something New

As I said in Goal #2 (Write as much as possible), it is my hope that I will be able to devote some small amount of time during time off examining how I can make career change to something that is more flexible and location neutral.  While I know that I can probably make some income with freelance writing, I would like to explore some other avenues that might be a bit more fruitful.  I plan to research and take some courses via educational websites such as Skillshare to see what kinds of skills will be necessary to obtain the kind of job that I want.  I’ve always been a fan of throwing myself up steep learning curves and I feel like now is a good time to start.

While I am enthusiastic about this goal I am, unfortunately, not certain how much I will be able to work on it.  My ability to take courses and learn things might be diminished by chemotherapy side effects.  I’m willing to give it a try, however, and I know that, from a practical perspective, it will be easier to do this when I am not working full time.

8. Create and maintain tidy spaces in my home that I can be happy spending a lot of time in.

I am an extraordinarily messy person.  Super organized and terribly messy.  While my messiness is consistent, it tends to get a lot worse when I’m depressed.  I would like to work toward making a significant change in this area in 2018.  While I am in treatment, I will not be returning to work, thus I will be at home most of the time.  If I’m going to spend most of my time in my office and my bedroom, I think it’s important that I try to keep them tidy so that I will enjoy my spaces and feel less stressed out and sad that they’re a mess.  I’m not exactly sure how I’ll be accomplishing this one, but I will start making some more specific plans and strategies over the next week or so.  I do already have some de-cluttering projects in mind.

9. Leave the house to work at least once per week.

This depends a bit on how I’m feeling, but I think it’s important for me to try and get out of the house at least a few times per week.  I can get a lot of work done in a few hours of crowd buzz and good music, so it’s worth it for me to get out and work in a coffee shop or somewhere similar.  I have a great little Chrome book that’s great for basic writing and web browsing on the go.  It’s my hope that I’ll be able to get out and work more than once per week, but I like to keep my goals as manageable and realistic as possible.

10.  Be supportive of and express gratitude to my partner and maintain a healthy and loving relationship.

A serious illness like cancer can have a significant impact on your romantic relationships.  Right now, my illness consumes a lot of my time and energy and it’s important to me that I don’t allow it to bleed too much into my relationship.  Of course, I will share my thoughts and feelings with him and I am counting on him to listen to me, be respectful, and provide love and moral support.  What I can’t do, however, is forget that he also needs love and moral support — I plan to do my best to make sure that his needs are being met and that everything isn’t about me being sick.

Have you set your goals yet for 2018?  Is there anything that you’re hoping to accomplish this year?  Leave a comment and let me know or message me privately — I’m interested to hear about what you’d like to get up to.  Let’s all have a better year than we did in 2017!

Media Round-up 31/12/2017

This is my first Media Round-up.  Since I will be reading, watching, playing, and listening to a lot of media during my medical leave, I wanted to spend some time writing about all of it.  I often find reviews to be challenging to write, particularly music reviews (finding a vocabulary to express how you feel about music is very difficult), so I thought that this would be a good exercise for me.  I may change the format of these posts in the future, but for now I’m going for one post like this per week.

TV on the Radio – Seeds

Tvotr_-_seedsI’ve been a TV on the Radio fan since 2006, when a blogger I followed at the time included Return to Cookie Mountain in his list of top albums for that year.  I checked it out and fell in love.  2008’s Dear Science continues to be one of my favourite albums of all time and I think that Nine Types of Light has some some sublimely beautiful moments that surpass any of the band’s other albums.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that Seeds quite measures up to their previous efforts.  When it was first released in 2014, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that the band had decided to put out a new album at all, given the death of Gerard Smith (bass, keyboards).  At the time, however, I wasn’t that interested in listening to any challenging new music and set it aside until I was ready to give it the attention it deserved.

While I enjoyed Seeds, I wouldn’t say that it was worth a three and a half year wait.  The pacing of most TV on the Radio albums is always mixed, but Dear Science and Nine Types of Light felt like they had strong unifying themes (art funk and art funk slow jams respectively).  Seeds, however, jumps around a little too much for my taste.  The tracks feel more like a group of random songs than they do like a cohesive artistic statement — an aspect of the band’s work that I have always admired.  I would recommend Seeds to die-hard fans, but I would never suggest it for anyone that had never tried listening to TV on the Radio previously.  Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science, and Nine Types of Light are three of my favourite albums of all time and I would recommend them to just about anyone.  They’re not always easy to listen to and can be a bit challenging, but they’re worth it.  Lyrical quality above and beyond any other bands actively producing music right now.

Key tracks: “Quartz“, “Careful You“, “Love Strained“, “Right Now


You Must Build a Boatymbab

When it was released n 2015, You Must Build a Boat made a lot of Game of the Year lists.  I took note of it because I’m a sucker for match three games with RPG mechanics (I spent at least 100 hours playing the original Puzzle Quest when it was first released on Xbox 360).  You Must Build a Boat (or YMBAB) is an interesting combination of different gameplay genres, combining elements of match three, runners, rogue-likes and RPGs into an addictive package.  The aim of YMBAB is to increase the size of your boat by recruiting new crew members and monsters to accompany you on your journey.  The player accomplishes this by running through dungeons and defeating enemies in battle by successfully completing match three puzzle mechanics.  Along the way there are chests to open and traps that can freeze you and end your run.  Each run, at least for me, is very short and, fortunately, you get to keep any rewards earned when you fail.

I find YMBAB to be a significant challenge.  The match three mechanics are a little different than the Bejeweled standard of swapping adjacent tiles.  Puzzle and Dragons taught me that I am terrible at match three mechanics that deviate from the format I’m used to and the same applies to YMBAB.  While this can make the game a little frustrating for me, the knowledge that I am slowly working toward upgrades that will make the runs a little easier lessens that frustration quite a bit.  The game’s music is also great and makes multiple runs a little less frustrating, but there could be a lot more variety — as far as I know there is only one piece of music in the whole game.  If you like the track, you should be pretty happy, but if you’re not a fan, this could get a little annoying.

All in all, I would definitely recommend YMBAB to anyone who enjoys a good puzzle game.  I haven’t tried the mobile version, but the PC version is great for playing in short bursts when you need a break from something or you’re in-between things.  For me, however, I definitely prefer more traditional match three puzzlers like Puzzle Quest.

Maria Semple – Where’d you go, Bernadette?

wheredyougoThis year I will be participating in an online book club run by some users of ONTD (Oh No They Didn’t), a long-running celebrity gossip community on Livejournal.  Each month has a theme and participants can choose any book that fits and discuss their choices on ONTD or the community that they have created on Goodreads.  The theme for January is any book that will be adapted into a movie or TV series in 2018.

I chose Where’d you go, Bernadette because Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Waking Life) is directing the film adaptation.  Since he has yet to make a film that I don’t like, I felt that this book would be a good choice for me.  I am now very curious about how the film will turn out because while I did enjoy the book and found it to be funny and well-written, I also felt that it was a bit vapid, which is something that you can’t say about any of Richard Linklater’s films.

Where’d you go, Bernadette is a story about the disappearance of Bernadette Fox, a wealthy architect turned housewife whose husband works for Microsoft.  The manner in which the story is presented is very interesting.  Most of the story is told chronologically in documents, such as emails, letters, faxes, articles, and reports.  Some gaps are filled by Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, in first person perspective.  As an archivist, I heartily enjoyed this format and felt like Semple did a great job of presenting the voices of different characters.

Many of the book’s characters, unfortunately, are impossibly unrealistic.  Bee is probably the easiest to relate to and I can sympathize a bit with her being a normal-sized personality (while super charming and smart)  growing up with parents that are a little off kilter.  The other characters, however, are difficult to relate to.  The examination of Bernadette’s mental illness and depression is interesting, but it’s difficult  to empathize with her, because there are no real consequences to any of her issues or actions.  This book isn’t intended to make any grand political statements, but I am at a point in my life where I don’t have much interest in the fluffy plights of super glamorous people with loads of money and their problems that they could easily pay money to work through.

My Media Round-ups will be posted every Sunday!  Please look forward to them!