Thursday, 29 August 2013

Childish Things

I'd say everyone has certain comments that they don't want to hear about themselves. For me, they seem to crop up every few weeks. Someone in my vicinity will inevitably imply how great a husband I would be... and it would have been nice to hear that if I were still to believe in Love.

My problem with Love is that I've wanted to have a family for the better part of my life. Whenever I went to a new school, I had hopes that I will just lay eyes upon that one person and as our gazes meet, we would fall in love and spend the rest of our lives together. As I went to secondary school, high school, university and even to work, that moment never came.

People keep telling me that I'm still young and my life is ahead of me, so that moment is still within reach, but I've been feeling old since I was twelve and now that I'm more than twice that, I feel too old to start dating. Especially when I think about how everyone has had their fair share of relationships and I'm just lagging behind.

Nowadays, when I think of a relationship, all it really amounts to in my head is as an unnecessary distraction. I'm already struggling with finding the time to just sit down and do something I like. I'm not reading, writing, painting, cooking, studying nor gaming as much as I would like. Adding a relationship on top of it all would just complicate matters.

Thing is, even though my life isn't what I imagined it to be, I'm not particularly unhappy with it. I've got two godsons to take care of; the only problem is that I don't see them as often since they're so far away, I have friends who I can give a massage to, brush their hair, hug, make dinner for, go to a restaurant, watch a film and have tea with. In other words, everything I wanted to do with a partner. The only difference now that I see between Friendship and a Relationship is sex and since I'm not keen on that, there really isn't much reason for me to go out looking for a girlfriend.

For some reason I keep thinking of sex as rather vulgar and objectifying towards a woman. While I like that romance of waking up, cuddling and having breakfast together, I can't get over the fact I'd first have to sleep with someone. People have been telling me that this notion of mine is silly and that intercourse is romantic and emotional but I just don't see it. Then they usually follow up with suggesting I go see a doctor but I really don't want look at a woman and think of all the ways to screw her. Another excellent suggestion I've been given is to just blatantly lie about my libido but, here too, I can't see the point in basing a relationship on a lie. When I was younger, I thought girls will want to be with someone who doesn't want to just have sex but I had to grow out of this way of thinking. Probably around the time someone told me that if a woman doesn't feel like the man wants to sleep with her, then she feels ugly... and I just can't ruin beauty with vulgarity.

I suppose letting this dream die is for the best. I've been holding back on doing more to get a better job and improving my living conditions. I kept postponing that step because I know full well that if I were to have a decent wage, a job I wouldn't be ashamed of, a house of my own or even a car, I wouldn't be able to trust anyone to love me for who I am rather than what I have. Now that I have nothing, I could understand someone falling in love with me. If, by any chance, however, I manage to get all these things people seem to crave so much, I wouldn't know how to tell if someone loves me or just sees an advantage in hooking up with someone who can provide her with decent living conditions.

That is what I believed when I was a child: Love, Honesty and Compassion.

It's about time I did away with childish things...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Decline of Dramatic Effect

It's been a while since I wrote about Roleplaying Games... and they've been on my mind lately... ever since I got a new room-mate and been showing him my various collections...

I have a few books with me that I haven't even read. Despite that I still feel like getting other game lines that I'm missing from the overall set. Quite a considerable amount of time ago, I bought a copy of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire The Masquerade as part of a European project to mass order it from the States so we can cut down on the shipping price. I've waited months for the release and then I waited a year to actually get the book since I was moving a lot that year... but when I finally got a stable address, the people behind the project sent the game over to my place.

I didn't have a lot of money at the time. I had to scrape what little I had and I only did it because that is the game that got me into a hobby that would be part of my life for more than half thereof. I have a lot of fond memories of that game. I still remember how I unpacked the box that it came in, how I marvelled at the cover, how I started to run games in school and how I tormented my friend with the fact he borrowed it and then gave it back in pieces...

That was two years ago and I still haven't read the book... and now there's a kickstarter for another game that means a lot to me... I find myself in this strange position where I would love to support it but I'm doing nothing about it due to insufficient funds and the knowledge that even if I have the book, I'll do nothing with it...

I did join a game, A Song of Ice and Fire, at The Roleplay Club. I didn't really get into the game. I think my character just got underused. Every time I wanted to show off his personality, I just hit a brick wall due to the circumstances... or maybe I just didn't know the setting well-enough to make a proper character... on the other hand, it was a gamble to begin with since I don't really like games based on existing properties in general... so I ended up wanting to chat with a friend while other players did stuff... and when I had to go to school for an entire month, I decided to just drop from the game...

Thus, gaming was had, I had some fun but I still feel rather lacklustre about roleplaying games. There's even an open spot at the club for someone to run a game but I just can't seem to find the willingness in me to commit to it. I still can't say I burnt out. I have ideas for games and campaigns, my main issue is deciding between them, and I keep catching myself thinking on how to stat the various characters I used to play in Hero System. I'm certainly not suffering from any sort of creative block. I'm even setting up a solo Skype game with a friend and am looking forward to it... alas, my enthusiasm is still not what it used to be...

I think, as far as the Roleplay Club goes, my issue is mainly that I feel, with the utmost certainty, that I shan't be able to run a game of the type that would please my gaming aesthetics.

Story trumps rules!
I can't help but think about this one Actual Play Thread that I've read on a long time ago. There was this once scene that sunk into my mind. The game in question was Werewolf The Forsaken. I should explain a bit about the game but I can't just say it's about werewolves... about being a cursed creature with anger management issues... while there should be a lot of that in a game, it is much deeper than what you'd expect. Werewolves, in that setting, are half-spirit creatures who took upon themselves the task of keeping the physical and spiritual realm in balance. One aspect of that is that spirits will often try and break through the barrier between worlds and anchor themselves to the physical realm, preferably by possessing some mortal.

The scene that sunk deep into my psyche was one in which a werewolf approached his (or her, I'm fuzzy on the details at this point) closest relative who suffered a major trauma (probably by being related to a werewolf and dragged into a lot of unpleasant things) and bargained with a happiness spirit in the form of a happy smiley face to possess the person... because it's better for your sister to turn into a happy monster than to let her suffer through the atrocities she's been witness to.

The whole idea of a player going through the trouble of making that moment a significant part of the game struck me as wonderful. It's not just about how much damage you'll be able to dish out with your Epicly Legendary Sword of Doomy Doom +9000... The Pathos! That's what I want in a game... alas, I had people walk out of the games I run because they were too talky... just before the big fight scene between armies that would last a few sessions!

See, I like fight scenes too, that's why one of my favourite games is Exalted... where the more over-the-top action description you make, the higher your chances of actually pulling it off are... but I want drama in my games too... alas, players who will go beyond the call of looting the bodies are so rare that, in a way, I just gave up trying to game...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Last Year's Drama

Well, it's April already and I still haven't done any review of last year.  I wanted to sit down and do it after my CELTA course... but life got in the way, as usual.

I had this enormous post planned in my mind, analysing and breaking apart all those significant events that took place in my insignificant life last year but now I don't feel like going into that sort of detail. I suppose the storm of the past few weeks has passed and I'm just a bit too tired to think about a chapter that has already finished. Yet an epilogue is always good to write...

2012 had this very specific theme of letting things go.

I'd say empathy is considered a desirable trait. We are encouraged to give to charities and look badly at anyone who dares not to help another human being in need. I seem to recall not providing first aid to someone being considered a criminal offence... but I'm not a lawyer. Problem is when you have too much empathy; when you care about others more than yourself; when you sacrifice your own well-being so someone else has the sliver of a chance to get better.

I suppose this is why others always told me to take care of myself.

Two things happened. My dad rage-quit his job and as he was in the process of moving, he decided he didn't want the place where his contract was about to end nor the new one that he signed the contract for. After spending a vacation at my mum's place, he asked me if he could move in with me while he's looking for a job in England. I agreed since he's my father and I wanted to help him. That was one of my biggest mistakes that year.

I got into arguments with him over smoking in my room. Thing is I rent a bedsit so this one room is all that I have available. My dad deemed it too hard to go outside for a smoke, especially since he saw other tenants smoking in their rooms. Of course, my dislike of him making a chimney out of my room was all my fault since I got unused to inhaling smoke and my sister and mum somehow survived it. The way I kept coughing was because I kept getting sick at work. The worst parts were when he started to shout and threaten me with moving back with my mum, without a job, so she won't have any money to live all because I couldn't handle a bit of smoke.

There were also other problems like my dad being unhappy that I'm not jumping with joy because he put up shelves that I didn't want in the first place, or him telling me how to use a fork, which all can be summed up by this nifty term called micromanaging...

I promised my mum I will put up with it for a month as was our agreement. Fortunately, all his talk of 'only for a month' actually being meant as a preliminary didn't come true. He moved out and I had a few weeks of peace. Until he decided the best way to approach the problem of why his son doesn't want to speak with him is to take a week off, go to my place and stay here until I have no choice but to talk to him. This too ended without me calling the police to get rid of him because my sister coerced him to leave me alone. I was shocked when my sister told me dad doesn't know why I'm angry with him because he didn't do anything wrong.

I guess somewhere along the way I got so tired of being treated like his soldier that I just quit. I wanted to have a good relationship with my father and not let it turn out like how his relationship with his parents is but I just had enough.

The other important development was with this pseudo-friend I had. Now that I look back at it, it's just strange. We met at work and hung out a lot. After a while we found out we had a lot in common... but to my chagrin, all attempts to actually follow up on those activities were ignored time and time again until I was told to just stop it. So all we did was hung out and chat about her problems whenever she called me. She asked me for help often and I kept on helping the best I could because that's just the way I am, I like helping people.

I suppose everything would have been fine if she didn't tell me how grateful she is for meeting me and that if I'll ever need any help to just tell her because I'm her best friend... and one day I did. I asked her to meet up because I wanted to tell her how the things she keeps telling me hurt me, she said she'll get back to me but then she kinda forgot about it. I just couldn't make any sense of it. It looked to me like she can only find time for someone she wants to sleep with or to get drunk but her best friend who she supposedly treasures so much is just not worth giving a grain of her time.

I confronted her about it after nearly a month. She claimed she didn't think it was important and was angry at me that she always has to take the initiative. That was a short conversation, we met up later to discuss matters outside of work. She said I was playing a game with her, that she felt cheated and that everything was a lie. I told her that I just wanted to share some of my life with her like she did with hers.

There was some back and forth between us for a while. During which she told my sister things between me and her were getting better, though I don't know how since she wasn't doing anything to make it better. Then we started to talk again and after a while she asked me to take her to the doctor's again, so I did... and it was the same thing again. I invited her to do stuff together a few more times but she kept bailing on me... and then she told me that the reason why she didn't call me at all was because she was too busy getting drunk... The same thing happened again but this time, since we weren't working together any more, I had to text her saying how much I hate her behaviour and her lies. She tried calling me but I felt too much like crying to have a conversation. Then she tried talking to me on Facebook but I went to make breakfast and by the time I got back she just told me now she knew what I really wanted from her. I explained myself again and we didn't speak to each other for several weeks.

Until she called me to ask if I would lend her some money... so I did. We talked a bit, she hugged me, said she was touched and yet I felt this sense of everything being false. I didn't expect to see that money back. I followed up with a test, I invited her for a Christmas dinner since neither of us had any family close. She said she couldn't come, as per usual. Last I heard from her, she called me crying, saying that she kicked out her boyfriend because he was tormenting her psychologically by being so jealous that she couldn't have any friends whatsoever and that she didn't know if she's just so immature to not be able to hold down a relationship. I listened but I felt like I didn't really care... not any more at least.

When all of that was going on I just felt like my self-esteem is eroding. I just felt worthless and used for my kindness. I didn't expect that standing up, getting the courage to feel I deserve better than this and actually saying enough is enough would make me feel so much better. I'm glad I did what I did, I really don't need that sort of self-absorbed people in my life... and I feel a lot, lot better now...