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Is This My Last Thanksgiving?

The COVID-19 pandemic is essentially out of control in the United States. I would like to think that things are better in my state of Illinois, but the rising numbers of deaths and infections say otherwise. Tomorrow I travel downstate to bring my son home from U of I for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I’ve been working from home since the beginning of 2020. I only go out as necessary, and always with a mask. I’ve done all of the things that logically one should do to minimize exposure to the virus. Sadly, I cannot really say the same for my children.

They know everything that I know to keep safe, and I have talked to them about it as well. But I also know that I cannot force them to do anything. I’m relying on them to make good choices that also take into account the needs of others. Nevertheless, they’ve had visitors here at home, while I do my best to stay far away.

My wife and I thought it best that our youngest son stay downstate rather than coming home for Thanksgiving. But he wants to come home and he also wants to see other friends as well. He lives in an off campus apartment and his school has been a leader in regular testing and contact tracing. Still that doesn’t change the fact that the most logical thing is to stay put.

I feel like the Pandemic is getting closer and closer, like a hangman’s noose closing on the condemned’s neck. I fear that my children will be the literal death of me. I hope I am wrong.

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Walk of No Joy

My walk was necessary, but gave me no joy. I could see a beautiful day, but did not feel it. It was good to get outside, and long walks have been something I have enjoyed for many years. But in this Pandemic world, the mask on my face only reminds me that all is not well.

I suppose I should be used to it by now, but I’m not. I stay inside, work and game to distraction. Temptation to throw all caution to the wind. But I am too disciplined for that. I will not abandon reason. Now is not the time.

I will walk again. Perhaps I can recapture the joy.

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General

A COVID-19 Dream of Loneliness

I’m off work today observing the July 4th holiday in the US, so I was able to sleep in a lot longer than usual which I think allowed for a particularly livid dream. In my dream, I had just arrived at a large building, grey with tall columns like a church or temple. I had been running away from some kind of altercation in a parade I was in or passing through earlier. My youngest son was a short distance behind me.

In front of the church, parked in a line of cars was a long black one that looked like a Cadillac hearse. The license plate on the back of it said “Bears Fan”. So I figured a funeral was taking place. I crossed to the church from there and was able to see inside the side of the building. Inside I saw a Black woman bathed in spotlights and dressed in a silky gold jumper and wide brimmed flat topped hat. She was dancing. I could not hear if perhaps she was singing as well.

Nearby, I saw a figure also a Black person and similarly dressed in gold sitting in a high backed chair silently and unmoving, as if watching the performance. I immediately thought that this was the deceased person. At that thought, I was overcome with grief and sadness for someone I had never known who had died all alone.

It was too much. I ran from there wailing loudly and overflowing with tears. The last thing I remember was being in a nearby building crying with my sons around me.

So many people are dying alone during this pandemic.

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Raining In My Soul

I’m feeling a lot of rain and sorrow right now. It’s raining outside, making a mockery of work I did earlier draining the pond. An overworked spouse, hateful white men mocking George Floyd’s death, and storms have forced me to take a step back, away from this day. An artist on Reddit has captured my feelings today.

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A Phantasy Star Online Universe Escape

I just finished maybe a couple of hours playing Phantasy Star Online 2 on my PC. Sega released the game in Japan back in 2012 and it has just now been released in North America, first on Xbox One and then on PC a few weeks ago. I started playing on Xbox One during the closed beta and now mostly play on my PC to enjoy higher resolution graphics.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the game. I was amazed how much it drew me in during the beta, maybe because I needed a new distraction from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was a ready escape that I was all too willing to take. Even after moving to PC, I still use my Xbox One controller because it just feels right to me.

But current events again have given me pause. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the explosive protests that have erupted in the United States are a stark reminder that the world can be an ugly place beyond the actions of an impersonal virus.

As a Black American, I feel deep sadness and rage that my life doesn’t seem to matter in this country. And while playing a game gives the relief of a temporary escape, returning to life often brings guilt and depression. I need to do more, but what? Despite the protests, worldwide no less (thank you International brothers and sisters!), I still fear that little will change.

I will press on. I will level up this character, and level up this world so that maybe my grandchildren’s lives will matter.

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Like Waves

Sometimes the sadness just comes from out of nowhere, washing over me like waves crashing on the beach. I don’t know why the sadness comes.

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My Goodness, my privilege

This is the first blogging I’ve done in a while, and my first posting during the current global COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a time when I have witnessed just how incredible many of the people I know and love really are.

As for me, I must acknowledge my own incredible privilege. Just as the US was entering quarantine, state by state, I was starting a new job. A new job that as of now I’ve been working from home almost four weeks.

It took me many months to find new work. I had to draw down my savings to keep afloat. I had one interesting freelance project in that time, but still the prospects were not looking great. Then almost out of nowhere, I heard about an opening at a company that was actually doing something I could care about.

So my cup is overflowing and I must acknowledge that, and that my own efforts have played only a small part in it. So I thank the God who made me and placed around me so many people who love me. I will do my best to pass my blessings on to others and share my love with them as well. That’s really the only thing I can do for a debt far too big for me to ever pay back.

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Blue friday

It’s Friday. I should be happy. But I am not. I feel depressed and want to cry. Don’t know why. I think writing that here in this knothole, so to speak, helps.

I went to C2E2 last week. So maybe it’s post-con depression. Maybe it’s being ill the last week after the convention. Maybe it’s fear of new Coronavirus, COVID-19. Fear of death.

Maybe it’s closing doors. Knocking on others. Please let me in.

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General

Turning point

Another turning of the heavens behind me and I sit here once again wondering what it all means. Beyond that though, I do feel like I’m at a turning point. I’m a little scared of what comes next and maybe a little excited at the same time.

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maybe it was the end

This image from Reddit got me thinking a bit about my school days, specifically 8th Grade. In the U.S., this is the last grade before High School which marks the end of compulsory education. I was trying to remember what I felt like back then and whether I had any of the feelings that seem to be embodied in this image. Feelings of joy and boundless hope.

sakura flowers [original] from r/awwnime

I could only vaguely remember some general optimism and something that now feels like an echo of innocence. I think that maybe this was the end of that innocence because my first year of high school was full of disillusionment. More and more, the real world and all of its failings came crashing in on me.

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cosplay General

NYT and catching up on things

I was catching up on the news today, following an article in the New York Times about the bodies of the murder suspects wanted in Canada had been found. Over the course doing this, I decided to take advantage of the $1/week offer to subscribe to the New York Times digital edition.

That lead me to an article about Victoria’s Secret hiring their first transgender model, which in turn lead me to an older article about Playboy’s first transgender and most recent transgender models.

Hefner tweet screenshotThis then lead me to remember that I met Hugh Hefner in an elevator at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont during Anime Midwest on July 9, 2016. I sent a tweet about it at the time.

I was cosplaying Android 18 heading back to the convention when I stepped into the elevator he was riding in. We were the only ones in the elevator, and I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he was the real thing to which he humorously replied that we wasn’t always sure himself. He also complimented me on my cosplay!

Hefner was there for the Exxxotica convention which was taking place in the Stephens Center during the same weekend as Anime Midwest. I told some friends about my encounter, but some raised the possibility that I had met a Hefner impersonator. But up until today I had not verified that Hefner was actually at Exxxotica that year. My curiosity was piqued by my NYT reading and a quick search turned up a video (on a site I won’t link to, lol) that seems to indicate that the Hefner I met was the real deal. So there ya go!

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What Am I Thinking?

It’s funny how the mind works. Yesterday, there was a big moving truck across the street. A neighbor was moving away. Perhaps the house, which has a For Sale sign in front, had been sold. Or maybe the neighbors had found a new place already. I didn’t think about it very much.

Today, a much smaller U’Haul truck is in front of the house. Now my mind is puzzled. What could it be? So my currently gloomy mind cooks up a scenario wherein my neighbor’s marriage has ended and the smaller moving vehicle is here to haul away an ex-spouse’s belongings to a new place.

My mind is always making up stories to fit what I see. I guess everyone does this, but I really need to make up some happy stories right now.

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A Long March

Another long stretch between postings, another long march into a new year. The just past holiday season was a bit of a challenge. I always feel like Charlie Brown during the Christmas holiday season. Once it’s over, I’m pretty glad to get things back to normal. But therein lies the rub. Life doesn’t seem to have a lot of normal for me these days.

I feel like up until this point, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid a lot of the really icky things about life, and especially the end of life that seems to be slowly rising to the east of this current existence. Oh, I probably have at least another 3 decades left, which is fine. It just seems that maybe I’m not as happy as I used to be.

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Otakon and A Miss

Right now I’m profoundly disappointed and depressed that I’ve had to cancel my plans to attend Otakon this year. I was really looking forward to a much needed vacation and a chance to express myself in a way that I don’t usually get the chance to. It would have been fun I’m sure.

I’m trying very hard not to be bitter. I did what love duty and logic has required. Family comes first, but that doesn’t really make me feel any better. Not at all. I hope I can hold on until Dragon Con.

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Saddle Up for Otakon 2017

It’s been four years since I last attended Otakon, and after having to cancel last year, I’m finally getting a chance to return, sort of. I say that because this is the first year of Otakon in its new convention home in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.. All of my familiarity, and relative comfort, with Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is right out the window!

As always, concerts, cosplay, and karaoke are all on my schedule. And I hope to see a lot of old friends and make some new ones along the way. I only hope that our Dunce in Chief doesn’t start a war with North Korea while I’m there!