Kirby And The Forgotten Land Is Perfect

A new Kirby game came out last week. Kirby and The Forgotten Land tells the story of what would happen if Kirby and his fellow Popstar residents got sucked through a strange rift into a world that vaguely resembles our own (in proportion and technology) perhaps a thousand years after all Humans vanished from it. Being a completionist with very little time to play video games over the past few days, I’ve only gotten to the second area, so there is likely more to the story than I’ve found before writing this. That said, the story of a Kirby game is never the reason you play it. They’re all basically the same: something bad happens, Kirby and Co. team up to save the day, and evil forces are thwarted. A story frequently told entirely without words, relying entirely on cutscenes, music, and good facial expressions to tell the story.

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Making Do With Depression

I’ve been cleaning my apartment. After months of doing just enough to not feel gross or awful, I’m finally doing a deep the-inside-of-the-fridge-is-sparkling-just-like-the-stove-interior clean. I have taken time off of work, I’ve created my to-do lists, and I’ve done my best to get my mind clear so I can focus on the work of cleaning without getting distracted. Got an old favorite podcast queued up to keep me entertained, got fresh cleaning products, and I’ve once again confronted the fact that mass-produced rubber gloves for cleaning almost never come in my size. I’m all set to clean and then maybe file my taxes if I have enough wherewithal left to string together the coherent thoughts required to let TurboTax file my taxes for me.

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Overcoming Trauma At The Dentist’s Office

I had to go to the dentist recently. Apparently, an old filling needed some fixing and my new dentist was much more proactive in terms of cavity filling than my old one. My old dentist was of the opinion that, if it was minor and not growing due to improved dental hygiene habits, then it didn’t need to be filled unless it was causing pain or discomfort or was poised to grow rapidly into something terrible instead of slowly growing worse. That made sense to me, as someone who had poor dental hygiene habits early in life but eventually grew into a collection of very good dental habits, but my new dentist is much less convinced. And far more persuasive than my last one, given that she was able to sell me on getting the fillings.

What makes this significant and worth writing about for reasons other than the misguided assumption that the universe at large cares about my day-to-day life, is that I hate getting dental work done. My childhood dentist did not believe in sensitive teeth, never attempted to address the pain I felt during dental procedures as someone with sensitive teeth in any appreciable way, and wrote off all my complaints and efforts to avoid pain as the normal complaints of a child who doesn’t want to be stuck in a chair. Given my personal situation at the time, I did my best as a child and teenager to endure it, but it left a lasting negative impression on me that endures to this day, even after a few years of actually good dental care with dentists and dental hygienists who take my concerns seriously. Which is, you know, a trauma response.

What really put it in perspective for me was the realization that while I may have been using meditative techniques to make my breathing even, stay physically still, and remain outwardly calm, I was actually disassociating during the work itself. I don’t remember any of the time when the work was being done, just the early bits where I was getting adequately numbed up and walked through the process my dentist was about to embark upon. It wasn’t painful, it wasn’t terribly traumatic itself, but being in a dentist’s chair while the painfully familiar whir of a dentist’s implements fills the air is apparently enough to drive me right outside of myself. Honestly, the meditation and embodying techniques I used are probably the only thing that kept me conscious and coherent in retrospect.

When you’re working through PTSD in the type of therapy I’m doing, called EMDR, you and your therapist spend time coming up with a series of techniques for self-management. Containering is a technique for putting away all of the potentially traumatic thoughts you’re working through between sessions, and it’s very useful for dealing with temporary anxiety as well. There’s another technique, which I have forgotten the name for, to help you combat disassociation that would be detrimental to your attempts to process trauma during therapy that you couldn’t handle while it was occurring. My therapist and I came up with a word that I don’t use commonly and attached it to a specific mental construct that had a connection to all of my senses and reflected a moment that I always felt calmed and embodied by. For therapy, mine was the word “Melancholy” and the mental construct is sitting beside a partially-open window on a chilly, rainy day as the rain pounds against the roof overhead. While I keep that word and this specific technique for only therapy sessions and panic attacks, the process of embodying yourself by activating your senses is one I use more generally during meditation and apparently dental work.

Typically, when you’ve been traumatized by something, you try to avoid similar scenarios until you’ve had the opportunity to process the trauma. Unfortunately, if you want to keep your teeth healthy, you have to keep going to the dentist. I tried not going for a very long time and while I did have good dental habits, they weren’t always perfect and I did not receive corrections until I finally started going to the dentist again. So now I make sure to go every six months to avoid future problems and do my best to overcome my dental trauma as on-going care (wisdom tooth extraction, putting a crown on a cracked tooth, and then this recent filling work) happens without pain or significant discomfort. Honestly, my back and hands hurt worse than my mouth did, because of how clenched my hands were for the entire process and how my back muscles kept cramping in the dentist’s chair (gonna skip arm and back workouts on future dentist days).

Still, it is a slow process, recovering from yet another source of trauma from my childhood, but I think I’m glad I’ve been doing it side-by-side with my work on the trauma from my parents and brother. After all, it’s nice to have an example of what it’s like to work through trauma with someone who recognizes you were traumatized and is not only patient with you, but actively working to help you feel safe and comfortable. Like a therapist for my teeth.

Reclaiming Home And Resting Peacefully

I haven’t been reading much lately. I have no problem finding books that sound interesting and I can afford to buy books I want (I also live a block away from a library so I could get access to books easily even if I couldn’t afford to buy them), but I still haven’t read much in the past couple years. Most of the reason for that ties back to the pandemic, my current living situation, and issues from my past coming together in a way that leaves me unable to relax enough to feel like I can get lost in a book. Any time I hear my neighbors thump around their apartment, any time I get stiff from sitting still from too long, or any time I start to lose track of time and feel a brief moment of panic that I’m breaking from the routines that have let me survive the stress of the pandemic, I get pulled out of the book.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but it is can easily be summed up by me admitting that I don’t feel “at home” in my apartment. Even as I attempt to address the stress and past issues, I still find myself thinking “I don’t have a home, I have a place I live.” It’s a difficult mental space for me to break out of because I grew up in a situation that made me feel the same way. Even with making a home at my college and in one of my apartments since then, I’ve spent so much more time in a living situation that feels like a place I merely occupy for now, rather than a place I feel safe and like I can control or own. Which is why I am having so many problems sleeping and why I can never seem to nap. It’s why my insomnia seemed to go away the instant I left the house I grew up in and didn’t return as an actual inability to sleep until my current living situation.

That’s the thing about rest. You can only do it if you don’t feel anxious about your safety. I didn’t ever feel safe in my parents’ house (and still don’t thanks to all that trauma) and one of my first experiences in my current apartment laid the groundwork for not feeling safe there. I got my wisdom teeth removed the summer I moved into that apartment and discovered that I have a bad reaction to oxycodone when I developed severe paranoia, had bad nightmares, and couldn’t sleep until the two doses I’d taken left my system because I kept instantly waking up thinking someone was trying to break down my door. It was probably just my upstairs neighbors being noisy as they continued to do until they moved out despite my requests that they quiet down during the late night hours, but it’s difficult to parse that information when you’re in a drug-addled sleep-state.

I stopped taking the oxycodone and made-do with Tylenol (which worked just fine since I have a pretty high pain tolerance) and it didn’t really come up again until late January of 2021 when my upstairs neighbors got even noisier than they had been, to the point of waking me up repeatedly in the middle of the night with their thumping and banging. It didn’t help that I was perhaps the most stressed and alone I’d ever been in my life, so I wasn’t in a good place going into that period. I got through it, though, and I’m doing a lot better now, but I’m still struggling with the feeling that my apartment of almost two years still doesn’t feel like a “home” to me.

As someone who definitely can’t afford to buy a house and the types of rentals that would allow me to live without noisy nieghbors banging on walls or floors are not something I could rent without roomates, there aren’t many good solutions to this problem. I could maybe move somewhere less expensive, find a better paying job, get a roommate or two, or move in with a friend who just bought a place despite how terrible a location it is for me and everything I’d do other than hangout with that friend (a minimum 45 minute commute in heavy local traffic, so I wouldn’t even enjoy the drive). None of these are guarenteed to succeed or even likely to happen before I have to renew my lease again. I could try moving, of course, to another rental with similar issues but fewer negative past associations, but rent is increasing so fast I’m not sure I can afford to live in a place of a similar quality to my current apartment (which, honestly, isn’t that high even if I ignore all factors other than the noisy neighbors).

There really aren’t a lot of great options, right now, which definitely isn’t helping my current stress levels. I’ve been trying to work on reclaiming my space and making my living space feel more like a “home” instead of just the location I sleep most nights, but that’s slow work. Slowed even more by my almosted0 recovered financial position, mounting stress as a Human in the world, and the increasing isolation of frequently feeling like one of the only people who is still taking on-going pandemic seriously. It’s not great, honestly, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I’d hoped that writing my thoughts out here would provide a solution, that I’d come up with some kind of idea for what to do or at least feel a bit better about my slow but steady progress, but I just sort of feel tired. Which is all I’ve felt lately, if I’m being honest. Tired.

I’m going to do my best to relax a little bit, to try to reclaim my own space in a way that will help me work on my other goals, and I hope you make some progress on relaxing yourself. Or on personal goals. Whatever you’re working on, I hope it goes well.

Recorded And Reposted: Majestic Weather

As the moon sits, fat and high,
I watch a battle of giants in the sky.
Flashes of light that make no sound
Miles and miles above the ground:
A tumultuous scene of Majestic Weather!
No fluffy clouds, light as a feather
Are these, but dark monstrosities
That dominate the sky, ignoring the breeze.

A scene of beauty like no other
Is the storm that decides to hover
On the horizon like a mountain silhouette,
But infinitely more of a looming threat.

Beauty and violence twisted together
Is this Queen of inclement weather!

I Think I Managed To Visit House On The Rock Incorrectly

I recently went to House on the Rock for the first time in my life. As someone who has lived in Wisconsin for almost thirteen years now, I have to admit that a trip to one of Wisconsin’s most famous tourist attractions was long overdue. To be honest, I’m not sure why it took me this long. It’s not like it would be difficult to convince people to go with me or that I was uncertain about whether or not I’d enjoy the trip. I just sort of never went. Like how I never went to a local branch of a coffeeshop chain I’ve long enjoyed since settling in one place after college. I don’t have a good reason, I just never went. I never felt like going during a time when I had the opportunity to go and I never felt the inclination so strongly that I made an opportunity to go, despite visiting a state park near House on the Rock many times.

Having now gone, I can say that it was pretty much like I expected. The descriptions in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods always made me think the space had more of a “warehouse” feel to it than the sort of carefully arranged collection of oddities that actually occupies the space. It was exactly as much of a trip as the book made it seem, though. Sure, there wasn’t a conflict of gods happening throughout it, but it definitely felt like the place a bunch of modern gods would show up in. What made up for that loss was actually the context the foundation tried to provide at the visitor center near the start of the walk-through.

I don’t remember many of the specifics from the various informational placards, but a few things leapt out at me and the general sense I got from said placards informed the way I saw the rest of the collection. Despite the clear eccentricity of the collection being a selling point, the descriptions of the collector, Alex Jordan, seem to have been sanitized in order to avoid offense to the more conservative leaning folks of the world. Even though Jordan clearly lived a non-traditional life, so much of the truth seems to have been scrubbed away in order to make the origin of this collection “more palatable.” Given that it has been decades since Jordan passed away and so much of his life was clearly sanitized, I can only wonder what else inside the displays has been changed so as to be “suitable” for all audiences. Which feels ridiculous given the number of artistic presentations that include topless or nude women. Somehow all that was fine, but admitting that Jordan had a romantic partner who he never married but still lived with was unacceptable. They had to call her his “companion and friend.” Hogwash.

Because I had already seen so much clear sanitization of the history of the man who built the collection, I couldn’t help but wander through the aging, slowly decaying collections and wonder what else has been altered to be more palatable. Every open space that seemed like it should have held something was a place for my imagination to fill in a blank and the strangeness of the collection that remains set a very high bar for how weird or strange something must have been to warrant removal. Sure, it’s possible that parts of the collection have merely broken and been removed rather than left to collect dust like so many of the music machines, but it’s difficult to trust that nothing beyond the history of the man was sanitized.

I’m not saying it wasn’t a nearly incomprehensible experience. It was, and still is, difficult to determine if I enjoyed it or merely survived it, but I had this thought in the back of my mind that maybe there was something missing. That maybe things had been pushed in a “safer” direction, despite the clear disregard for safety in the collections at large. I mean, I was pretty much blinded by a bunch of lights and mirrors in one section of the walk-through, forced to rely on the voices of my friends to guide me through it as I shut my eyes against the vertigo-inducing sight of all that lights stretched out by the mixture of astigmatism and faint blurriness in my dominant eye (a result of my on-going eye problems that only comes up when looking at specific types of lights that aren’t terribly common and every single LED anything ever) and none of the music machines had any sort of notice about how loud or quiet they’d be.

I don’t have much to say about the collections. I feel like I’m not yet in a place to share my thoughts in that regard (I need to go through there another time or two to figure those out), but it definitely left an impression that maybe this sort of thing was way more unique before the internet. Half the sites I used to visit before social media turned the internet into like five websites had a similar feeling to walking through House on the Rock, and most of them didn’t sanitize the history of the person who created/curated the odd collections. I guess I left there with a lot to think about, but mostly in regards to the way even the eccentric are sanitized for general consumption rather than about how strange the experience was.

Some Site News: I’m Gonna Repost My Own Stuff!

I’ve been thinking about making some changes to what I post here. Since I tend to focus on other projects on the weekends, I frequently never get around to writing a Saturday post until I’m into the next week. It isn’t difficult to write an extra post one or two days a week, but I think I might go back through all stuff I’ve written in years past and share it here. Not just anything of course. I’m thinking of either reposting old poetry or doing a re-run of my Coldheart and Iron series. I haven’t really decided, but it’s more of a “which one will I do first?” than a “what should I do?” type question.

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Finishing Earthbound Left Me Feeling Disatisfied

I finished Earthbound last night. It took a bit longer than expected, since I wound up spending way too long in an area near the end because I was being too conservative with my resources. I was trying to get to the final boss while spending as little as possible, alternating between using the Switch’s state saving method to find a path foward with only a few encounters between the last save/healing spot and the final boss and grinding against the enemies in the same area so I’d be strong enough to easily blast through them. It was only a few hours, but that was spread across a couple nights and really cut into the building tension between the rather confusing lead up to this final area and the nightmarish final boss.

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Together, We All Grow As Storytellers

I’ve been running Dungeons and Dragons games for over a decade now. Twelve years, this summer. For the last six years, I’ve been running Sunday evening games for a group that has changed many times, with the exception of two players. These two people, friends I’ve known to some degree about as long as I’ve been running Dungeons and Dragons, have been an endless source of amusement and fun for me as a dungeon master. From tragic beginnings, moments of hilarity, grave failures, and a general willingness to go wherever I lead them, I don’t think I could ask for more from any players of mine.

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