Archive | March, 2011

Videogames, the Liberal Agenda, Sexuality

24 Mar

So I wrote a new blog post.

Rather than attempt to transfer it all over here, I posted it up at my Gaming blog. Follow the link below to read it!

Videogames, the Liberal Agenda, Sexuality

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All the Updates

18 Mar

Because I’ve been neglectful, here are various updates regarding the state of The Uncomfort Zone:

General Life Update:

I just finished week 2 at the new job, my parents are out of town on alternating weekends meaning I’m spending a lot of time keeping both my mother and father company. And by that I mean eating them out of house and home. Jeff’s about to go on Spring break, which he will spend gaming and studying while I work. It’s Friday, I have a beer in my hand, and I”m gonna make fajitas for dinner. After I clean the kitchen.

Work Update:

Like I said, it’s the end of week two at the New Job, and things are going well. I’m still typing up comments on surveys, and passing the time listening to the Drunk Tank podcast from the guys at Rooster Teeth. Other than that, I’ve been spending my breaks reading Jim Butcher books (currently reading Furies of Calderon) and fighting the possessed demon vending machine. Also, I’ve been occasionally taking the bus to save gas.

Money Update:

I am poor. As dirt. Assuming dirt is as poor as I am. I get paid for honest reals a week from today, so I get to experiment with stretching my meager money resources until then. At least I still have beer.

Social Life Update:

I joined a new D&D group, which won’t start until the end of the month. It’s a Pathfinder game, and I’m playing a half-elf druid, who doesn’t have a name yet, but I’ll get there. Other than that I’ve been a complete hermit.

Art/Writing Update:

Due to the abject poverty I’m hoping to start trying to get some of my stories published, work on my novel and start offering commissions on DeviantArt. That stuff’s all in the works anyway. I’ll get to it… eventually.

Health and Food Update:

Well, I’m walking more. I’m hoping to get back into actually exercising next week now that I’ve got something resembling a work routine. I’m eating as well as I can on a poverty budget, but taking sammiches to work definitely helps with that. That and cooking more, despite the constant state of disaster our kitchen is in.

TV Update:

I finished watching Ugly Betty. It was cute, and I really enjoyed it. Now I have a void in my life where TV should be. Any suggestions folks?

Gaming Update:

I’m not done with Pokemon Black yet, which is why I haven’t blogged about it yet. Sadly, I think I burned myself out a little playing HeartGold for a week straight before Black came out. But I’m almost 4 badges in, and started with Snivy. I promise I will write a real review when I’ve finished. I’m also playing Oblivion on the 360, which is definitely fun. I’ve been blogging about my gaming habits on my new side blog, Not Your Gamer Girlfriend, over here. You should check it out. It’s fun to write 🙂

The Spark of Insanity

16 Mar

I spent an hour at work today typing up heights and weights of various people on medical surveys.

That stereotype about Americans being overweight? As far as I can see, not a stereotype. Do you want to know how many people’s data I typed up that listed them as under five feet and over 200 pounds?

Answer: You don’t want to know. It will just depress you.

Related note: If you ever have to fill out a survey for a hospital, please write in block capitals as clearly as you can. Deciphering other people’s handwriting is the cause of more headaches in my life than I can count these days.

Dear Benjamin Franklin,

14 Mar

Daylight Savings Time was a shit-fuck balls-ass HORRIBLE idea. THis morning I woke up and felt like I was being freshly dragged out of a grave thanks to it feeling like 7 o’clock in the morning instead of 8 o’clock.

I want my hour back.

*Shakes tiny fist*

In other news, I’ve started a side project called Not Your Gamer Girlfriend, a website about girls and videogame culture. You can find it here. I promise Uncomfort Zone will continue to update as closely as possible to daily as my exhaustion and madness will allow.

Daily Post Writer’s Block: Books

11 Mar

Writer’s block prompt: Name a book that changed your life.

This is the worst question to ask a bibliophile and English geek like myself. This is the first one that came to mind when I thought about it:

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

I read this book cover to cover once a year every year from 8th grade to my second year or college just about (then I didn’t have time because I had too much literature to read). Some folk have called it a dry read with too much description and not enough action, but what I fell in love with was the world. I credit Tolkien entirely with my love of world-building and high fantasy. I’d consider this book a gateway drug into many other fantasy realms, and it was something of a safe haven for me when I was going through a horribly difficult time.

Mini-Manifesto: On Belief

9 Mar

Author’s Note: I spend that majority of my formative years being raised Catholic, something I’ve come to for the most part reject in my recent years. I’ve been pondering my spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, as of late, so here’s some stream-of-consciousness in an attempt to explain what I have that can be loosely classified as  a ‘belief system’:

I believe in a lot of things.

I believe that human beings are neither inherently good nor evil at the start of things. The world is what shapes them one way or the other (or neither).

I believe that I know absolutely nothing for certain except that I exist. Descartes put it how I see it: “I think therefore I am.” That’s all I’ve got on the definite front. Everything else? Open to debate and new discovery.

I believe in karma, or something like it. What I do to others will ultimately come back to me in one way or another, even if the only effect the universe gives to me is  my own guilt and realization of my own wrongdoing. I also believe in the human capacity for forgiveness, and our ability to make amends for our wrongdoing. Redemption. It’s a beautiful thing.

I believe that if there is an afterlife, it’s not dependent on a Judeo-Christian morality system. I don’t think it’s a simple as keeping a score-sheet of the good things you’ve done versus how many bad things you did. I don’t believe in a ‘heaven’ or a ‘hell’, or acts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ that cast you into the pits of hell. As far as I’ve seen, a lot of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ acts that get you into heaven and hell by fundamentalist standards are pretty relative and based in dogmatic tradition, not integrity or truth.

I like the idea of reincarnation as a part of the afterlife, but my ever-present uncertainty prevents me from calling it a ‘belief’. I’ve definitely had feelings that I, or at least some part of me, has existed in this world before in the past, but also that that wasn’t MY life. I, the person I am now, will only live once. My consciousness as it’s connected to this body, this soul, this metaphysical entity in time, is only here for my lifetime. Anything before or after that was part of another life, even if it was technically mine.

I believe in science. Explanations, reason, logic are all beautiful things to me, because they give me answers to all my questions. I believe in questions, and that they are necessary even if we never get the answers.

I can’t say I do or don’t believe in some Higher Power because I just don’t know. I have no systematic evidence one way or the other that I consider reliable (even if other people do have things that are evidence for them, I still haven’t found anything that proves anything specific).

I don’t believe in the ‘Power of Prayer’. I do believe in the power of positive thinking in every aspect of my life, and also in the power of hope.

I believe in love. Every kind of it.

I believe in treating others the way I’d want to be treated: with respect and attempts to be understanding and rational.

I don’t believe in religion, and think it exists as a security blanket for the masses, a hand to hold when things are hard. I think it’s much more difficult to face the harshness of the world without a religion, some person in the sky who can make it all better, to cling to. I don’t believe in an all-powerful GOD sitting in the clouds passing judgement or sentence upon our existence. If there is one, I don’t believe He or She is attached to any one religion or the man-made writings and practices that are associated with it. I don’t believe in the bible or other religious texts. I don’t believe in Jesus or other historical figures as religious icons. I believe religion has done more harm than good for our world in the grand scheme of things.

I believe, simply, in people. We exist as pure accidents of science. We have the ability to live, to love, with power and strength. I think that can come from whatever we want, because it’s what WE want. We have the power, the energy, from within, to move forward with our lives. Whether we get that from religion, philosophy, fiction, each other or ourselves is our choice. Our decision. Our path.

If there is a GOD up there, I don’t think He or She is involved. I think it’s just us down here, us and our personal power. We make things happen, in whatever ways we choose, we feel are right, and we are here to experience everything the world has to offer.

I believe that it’s so hard for me to pin my beliefs down because I was raised in such a rigid belief system.

I don’t believe in a God, but I think that there is something more out there than can be explained by religion or science. Things that cannot be explained. Maybe we’ll find the answers with time, but I accept and believe that some things will never be explained, because we humans don’t have the capacity to understand the answers.

I believe that I am a child of humanity and nature, not of a God. I exist on this planet to learn things, to understand that it is impossible to truly be an authority on something, and that we must always strive to be proven wrong that we may find new answers to those new questions.

I believe in the necessity of constant humility, but the importance of not letting that lead to simple-self-deprecation.

I believe you should never knock something until you’ve tried it. That includes everything from alcohol to skydiving.

I believe in the importance of trust and honesty in interpersonal relationships.

I believe in fluid sexuality. I don’t think a sexual preference must be ‘proven’ to the world or have labels slapped on matters of the heart. I believe that it’s okay to call myself pansexual and open to relationships with other females even though to this point I’ve only ever been in serious relationships with straight men. I believe that there are more important defining points to a person’s life than who they want to fuck. I believe that you can fall in love with anyone, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

I believe in respecting the beliefs of others around me. Mutual appreciation and understanding have more value than arguments of semantics. We each reach the beliefs we do through our own life experiences. We’ve all lived different lives. How do we judge who is right and who is wrong when we cannot truly live in each other’s shoes?

I believe that no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to accurately predict the weather or the way that nature works. I believe that certain things are inherent in human behavior, are in our ‘natures’ and not in our control, but how we react to those natures is something that CAN be controlled.

I dislike ritual in spiritual practices, but respect the need for it in other people’s lives. What works for me won’t work for everyone else. We all get to the same result in different ways. It’s just how we are as people. Different. Unique. Fantastic.

I believe I exist for the purpose of deep personal connections with the people around me. I also believe that risk is an essential aspect of existence if you seek to live life to the full.

I believe in maturity. Honesty. Integrity. I believe in morality without gods. Good for the sake of good, not good for the fear of punishment. I think that morality is shades of gray.

I believe in balance and harmony, and that darkness is essential to our beings, almost more so than light, because without darkness light has no way to shine.

I believe that there’s no situation in life that can’t be improved through indulgence in dance and song.

I believe in maintaining an open mind, and exploring all possibilities with boundless enthusiasm and endless questions.

I believe in the precious nature of all life. I don’t eat meat because I think it’s wrong to eat animals, not just because I have problems digesting it.

I believe in real-sugar colas, ghosts, true love, aliens, the power of imagination, friendship, family and full-fat mayonnaise.

Most importantly.

I believe in myself.

And I think that, right there, is more than enough.

Trimming Fat, Cutting Costs

8 Mar

In case you haven’t noticed, gentle readers, I am poor. Unemployment lasting almost two months and having to wait for my first paycheck until close to the end of the month will do that to you. What with the cost of gas and food rising exponentially with every passing day, it’s a wonder any of us in entry-level wage-slave positions can afford to exist in this climate. Thus, as I look at my sad bank account desperately trying to keep afloat in this depressing time, I look at my budget and consider various things I can do to reduce costs in my daily life. Here are three small ways I”m trying to cut costs, some comedic and others in all seriousness:

1) I’m being Less Picky

I’m a foodie at heart. Food hates me and my finicky digestive system, so being able to eat food that tastes good is the only joy I get from sustenance. This is definitely difficult when good food costs you an arm and a leg. I’ve managed to save myself a good twenty bucks a week by cutting soda out of my diet, but that doesn’t account for how much juice costs (almost as much if you want stuff that’s good for you), or how much the rest of your grocery supply costs you. So I’ve been reducing everywhere I can. I just keep telling myself that when I start getting regular paychecks, I’ll have enough to eat well, and should resign myself to PB and J for a month or two for the sake of my bank account. Much as I want to shop at my local co-op and buy perfectly fresh organic foods all the time, my wallet can’t take it. Thus, it’s off to the trenches of Hell-Mart for a dose of cheap bulk and scary people.

2) The Commute

I now work downtown. Downtown Lincoln is a parking ordeal, and if you have to go there five days a week, you end up spending thirty to fifty dollars on parking. Awful. Balls-ass awful. Thus, I’ve come up with other ways to deal with my commute. Including taking the bus, which will work for me at least once or twice a week when I don’t have immediate post-work obligations or I get done with work early enough (the last chance I have to catch the bus is 5:45. Won’t help me on a day I work until six). The bus plan has the double benefit of saving me gas money, since gas is definitely about $3.60 a gallon in my neck of the woods. My other commuting option is parking in one of the nearby neighborhoods where parking isn’t restricted and then walking the rest of the way downtown. I could use the exercise, that’s for sure.

3) Be a hermit

I don’t eat out. I don’t go out, or if I do I don’t drink. Going out costs money. Eating in nice restaurants? Also costs money. Going to movies? I already pay for netflix (well, Jeff does, but you get my point). I remain sequestered in this tiny room, occasionally lonely, but not spending money. Of course, I also have incredibly generous friends, who insist they pay for everything when we go out. They are my heroes, and I owe them my life.

Those are the start. Hopefully I’ll find a few more to add to that list as my money supply shrinks and shrinks.

There Needs to be a Test or Something…

6 Mar

So tonight was the first night in at least a month that both my parents were in town at the same time and both available to meet me for dinner. Due to their work lives (my Mum’s a professor so she travels around recruiting for her department a lot, and my Dad does super interesting stuff with the Air Force that I know nothing about, so he travels too), this is a rare occurrence, but it was a special treat, so the two of them took Jeff and I out to the Parthenon, an awesome local Greek restaurant who have the best falafel I’ve had in this state and desserts that are to kill for.

Seriously. Their featured dessert tonight was white cake with nutella and raspberry. I almost died right there.

So we had an enjoyable start to the evening. Had a few drinks, ate some hummus, cracked jokes, my parents told stories of when they were younger and living in different places doing exciting things, like living in Italy (in my dad’s case) and Colorado (which is a really cool spot when you live in Nebraska, trust me). While we were close to finishing up our main courses and pondering dessert and another round of drinks, a couple came in and sat at a table a little East of us.

“Awwww,” My mother said in a soft whisper, her voice turning to mush. “They have the tiniest little baby!”

“Oh,” I responded, unenthused and returning to my pita bread. I’m not a fan of children. I consider the vast majority of them devilspawn sent down to earth with the sole intent of making my life more obnoxious. I gave the small child a quick glance – nothing special, probably less than half a year old, wearing a dark blue onesie with little bear ears on the hood – and continued eating.

Then something caught my eye.

The couple sat down, the woman holding the baby somewhat awkwardly while the man laid his coat across one half of their little square table. I thought this was a little strange – there were perfectly good chairs on the other half of the table, or even the back of his chair for him to put a coat, and it was stranger still when the woman, leaning forward, laid her little baby on top of this coat, face-down.

Just like that. I thought for a second she was going to start changing the little stinker’s diaper right there, but nope. She just lay him there. Left him there, face-down, and she and her husband proceeded to order wine and appetizers. Occasionally one of them would lift up the little bugger’s bear-eared hat to check that it was still breathing.

Okay. Maybe I’m just crazy here, but WHO does that? Who leaves a baby lying FACE DOWN on a TABLE in a RESTAURANT?

Can someone explain that to me? How that makes any sense? How that’s healthy for the baby, who even if it’s asleep would probably suffocate. I don’t like children of any sort, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to leave one on a tabletop in a really nice restaurant while mommy and daddy romance each other over appetizers. I mean, was the child drugged? Is this normal?

There needs to be some kind of exam people have to pass in order to become parents. Seriously, you have to jump through five million hoops to foster or adopt a child, but if you have one biologically it’s just assumed you’ll be an adequate parent? No. People suck at raising their goddamn kids, letting them roam free in stores and restaurants, leaving them on tables while eating, letting them scream through choral concerts instead of taking them outside.

It’s ridiculous. If I ever become grand poo-bah of the world (which could happen some day, you never know), I will make it mandatory for parents to take extensive tests to be allowed to keep their children once the pregnancy comes to term, and to renew their licenses every couple of years. Because right now? Average American couple? You SUCK at PARENTING. FOREVER.

Now get your kid a motherfucking place to sit so it’s not lying right next to the fucking calamari. That’s not parenting! You wouldn’t even put your DOG on the table! Why would you do that to your CHILD?

That’s my rant du jour folks. Raise your damn kids.

I’m going to go play Pokemon until I calm myself slightly. Have a good evening.

Moments in Uncomfort: First Days

4 Mar

Today was my first day at the new job. I don’t expect I’ll be saying anything bad about it, but I still don’t really want to name the place in case anyone there reads this blog and freaks out even if I do nothing but say lovely things about them. I spent half the morning going over non-disclosure agreements and non-trade policies about stocks and other things I’d never even heard of, so it’s best to just say I work for a shiny corporation that does cool things.

First days are classic moments of being uncomfortable; you’re whisked around an office in a blur, meeting people whose names you will immediately go on to forget, shake sweaty palms and smile awkwardly. Paperwork will be filed, voided checks collected, you’ll be shown the breakroom, the bathrooms, your workstation, meet a few coworkers and your supervisors. It’s a mess of colors and sounds and confusions, and you’re left feeling confused and overwhelmed.

All melodrama aside, it was a really good first day. Everyone I met was really friendly, did a (mostly) good job of explaining themselves, and I didn’t just spend the first day derping around with paperwork and tours. I actually did some of the work I’m going to get paid to do for the next week. Then I’ll be rotated into another department and have to learn a whole bunch of new things and have a different schedule.  Though I have to say, setting my own schedule is pretty kickass. I may only work 28 hours a week, but I don’t come in any earlier than 11 AM, the latest I leave is 6 PM, and I don’t have to work weekends. That’s a winner in my book.

So yeah, the work. I work in the ‘comments’ section of the company, which means typing out the comments on the medical surveys we process. I spent 3 and a half hours (with a break for lunch) typing in data, mostly the names of doctors. I have discerned from this several things:

1) A majority of the American populace has atrocious handwriting.

2) They also have atrocious grammar.

3) There is a real Doctor House. I typed up that name today and felt gleeful. I didn’t check the phone number to see if it was a New Jersey area code though, so hopefully he’ll show up again.

4) People don’t understand questions, and answer them in stupid ways on surveys.

Not much more detail there, but I spent a lot of that time listening to music, because we’re allowed to do that. ❤ I started off with some Radiohead, but the new album, while awesome, makes me sleepy and serene, so I switched to the Homestuck soundtrack and then some Lady Gaga to wake me up. It worked.

The only downer is parking. Downtown is hell to park in on a good day, and parking garages are pretty pricy. I’d end up dropping a good hundred bucks a month on parking if I go for the regular rate. Not a fan of that. I’m investigating other options. Like finding monthly parking somewhere else. Or taking the bus. Or learning to teleport.

So that was day one, in a roundabout way. I’m off to a good start. My next challenge is figuring out healthy, filling lunches to take with me to the office, because if I eat bagels every day (which is tempting, since Brueggers is right around the corner), I will regret it in my wallet.

I don’t work again until Monday now, so I’m going to spend my weekend relaxing. And getting the headlight on my car replaced. And buying some new makeup, since mine is pretty old and I’ll actually be wearing it more now that I’m in a professional office environment.

How have your first days at jobs been, reader folk? Any amusing stories? Any disasters? I’d love to hear about it.

Daily Post Writer’s Block: Home Towns

3 Mar

Describe the town where you grew up.

I think, because I am a lover of musicals and all things Sondheim, that the best way to explain this is through song:

No Place Like London – Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton Film version)

London was a strange and interesting place to grow up. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I loathed it, but I find that I miss it every day. There’s just nothing that compares to the life of a big city. I like living in Nebraska, but the differences between London and Lincoln are… staggering. Some of them are a relief, and others are a strain on my ability to adjust.

It’s been five and a half years. I’ve only been back to visit once. I’m hoping to change that some time this year once I have a little more money. No place like London indeed.

Anyhoo, I’m off to make enchiladas. Have a good Thursday. 🙂