What’s it all about? That question enters my mind regularly as I dance back and forth across the line between reality and the digital spaces I inhabit like online games. But lately I struggle with the disappointment I feel when my so called IRL self doesn’t match up with my game selves. I feel like I’m not living up to people’s expectations, and in some cases, my own.
It’s been over a year since I started playing as Losira in Final Fantasy XIV. I’m still having a great deal of fun and I’m nearing my goal of completing the current game story content ahead of the Endwalker expansion release in November. And the nightclub scene has just exploded across all data centers in the game. You can literally dance all night, every night across the entire game! I really love it!
I’ve met a lot of interesting people out clubbing, and I’m glad we are having fun together. But then I feel disappointed because the physical me does not match up with the in-game me. The real life girl isn’t the in-game girl by many measures and I don’t want to let people down, or break their hearts.
I am really enjoying my play through of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward! The story has totally sucked me in and I’m spending a lot of enjoyable time doing other things in the the world as well. My anxieties about playing group content are a receding memory as I routinely jump into dungeons and trials of the main story as a tank, blind rather than viewing a guide first! I must say that this game has stolen my heart.
But the heart wants what it wants, and I guess some hearts may want me, maybe? This past weekend, I was at the Rave Weekend parties at the Allure Lounge. Friday night was great! Music, dancing, and I got some good videos recorded too! I was really excited about doing it again on Saturday. By this time I was back to mostly being on my own and not part of a group as the group I had been with had gone through some romantic realignments and such. This wasn’t a problem for me, things come and go. And I’m used to going to all kinds of things on my own anyway, story of my life, lol.
Saturday, I’d no sooner got into line before I found myself in two separate conversations with two different people, both wanting attention. Then further behind me I spied two more friends who I’d also be talking or dancing with later. I was feeling a little overloaded and wasn’t sure how I was going to manage all of this. I like all of these people, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But I didn’t really want to be anyone’s steady girl friend either, at least I didn’t think so. I’m a Tank main, but GF main? Could I even play that role? IRL, I’m taken, but does that even matter in Eorzea?
I ended up dancing most of the night with two of the four friends and having a good time overall. A third danced elsewhere and I had a chance to talk to him before he left. It was his first time at the lounge, and he said it was fun. The fourth danced near us for a bit and I think was trying to get my attention, but I was torn between an ongoing conversation with one and also in the middle of recording video. But mostly I was worried about how to manage the other guys strong interest in me. Eventually the fourth guy left and I have not heard from him. He’s one of my Free Company mates and one of the first friends Losira made, so he’s special to me. But I think I did a bad job of showing it.
I had a lot of fun this past weekend! In game dance parties in Final Fantasy XIV have become a regular thing for me as hundreds of Gigabytes of party videos can attest to! But I’m not here to write about that. This is just a note about a strange dream.
In my dream, I was looking high and low for more information about Paladins. I don’t know why, maybe for a novel I wanted to write? Maybe for my character backstory? I just remember running all over the place looking, only to end up in the library of some unnamed university.
In the library, I encountered what appeared to be a group of guys playing or discussing DnD. I told them what I was looking for and they told me I should learn about Bruce Noble and handed me a thick white reference book. Only after waking up did I realize that Bruce Noble was a pretty silly name and did not refer to any known character. It was just a generic name one might use for any Paladin. LOL
And that’s it. That was my dream. Does it mean anything? I don’t know, but perhaps when I revisit this post in the future, I will have an answer.
It’s been quite a while since my last post! Since that time, I am not only still alive, I think I might in some way be thriving! There’s been plenty of trouble to lose sleep over, but I found more refuge than I had expected to weather the storm.
In particular, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the online game, Final Fantasy XIV. Progressing through the story, placing in the top 100 on my server for the Ishgardian Restoration rankings, and even attending in game dance parties! Eorzea has truly been a refuge for me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This 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!