Recorded and Reposted: Setting The Scene

                                                   This scene is not mine.

Don’t ask me whose it is, I just wandered through.
My life is elsewhere, but don’t ask me that either.

                                                   If you find it, let me know.
                                                   I’ve been looking awhile.

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Readying Myself For Summer

Even after nearly a decade away from anything resembling the US school year, I still find myself thinking that the coming of summer heralds a shift from my busy and exhausting days to a time when I can take a load off mentally and physically. I haven’t had more than a week away from my labors in nearly a decade and I still find myself mentally preparing for the coming warm months and the freedom they once brought me. It’s a weird mental space to be in. I know I won’t have any extra time off or a chance to enjoy being outside in the summer without much restriction, but I still find myself hoping for it just as fervently as I did when I was a student.

I haven’t actually had a summer break in much longer than that, though. When I was in high school, my parents forced me to find ways to fill my time. Either by getting a job of some time, by doing chores around the house (usually gardening on behalf of my mother), or by taking care of my younger siblings who needed minding while my mother did other stuff. In college, I had to work since I couldn’t return to my parents house and I needed to pay for summer housing at my college. Even before high school, I was usually occupied with some form of household chores or other work assigned to me by my parents, so I really can’t imagine why I expect a chance to rest and relax.

What the summer has actually brought me is change. In college I shifted from work and school to just work, and in high school I could stay up and sleep in as late as I wanted. My schedule shifted from what was demanded by the world I lived in to one that I could largely set for myself. Sure, I had to be at work at specific times, but the other sixteen hours of the day were mine to spend as I wished. Nowadays, though, the only change the summer brings is how generally sweaty and gross I feel at the end of the day. And I supposed the number of blankets I keep on the bed also changes, so there’s that too.

When I graduated college, I wanted to eventually get into academia in some form, probably as a college professor, so I could stick with that schedule. And, you know, because I loved what I was doing with my degree and wanted to keep doing that kind of stuff (still do, honestly). I eventually realized that a career in academia was likely not in the books for me, given my already substantial burden of student loans and the need for more loans if I wanted to continue my education, not to mention the generally sorry state of academia today. I used to keep up on articles about what was going on in the world of academia, tenure, and literary studies, but that effort was what eventually convinced me I would probably be happier sticking with work outside of academia and writing in my time away from my occupation rather than as a part of it (in an academic sense, specifically. I still think i’ love being a full-time writer of fiction)

Still, as the grey, chilly April days come to a close and we head toward whatever the hell May has in store (it has been unseasonably cold and cloudy thus far this spring, so all bets are off), I find myself planning vacations I’ll never take and looking at my life for whatever big changes I might make. I don’t really have any right now, since I’m trying to work on feeling more at-home in my apartment (rent is rising too quickly to make it worth moving this year, at least at my current income), but I keep taking stock of my life in the hope that something will jump out at me. I’m already making slow but steady steps toward most of my goals, so there really isn’t much to do other than stay the course, keep up the life maintenance, and keep my eyes peeled for any opportunities that show up within my reach.

Don’t Argue If They Won’t Listen

Over the past few years, I have learned the value of simply not arguing with someone. As a person who spends a great deal of mental energy and time concerned with correctly speaking their mind, it can feel counterintuitive to allow someone to misunderstand me when I’m trying to voice an opinion or share a thought. I’ve learned, though, that it is generally a lot better for my mental health to let them do so and do my best to exit the conversation as quickly as I can once it is clear the person I’m talking to isn’t actually interested in hearing what I have to say. It can be incredibly difficult, especially when that person is someone I spend a lot of time talking to for various reasons, but it is almost always worth it to just shut up, stop arguing, and bail out.

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Creating Myths, Legends, and Informational Pamphlets for my D&D Games

As I’ve been working on a setting for a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign, I’ve been thinking about alternate ways to inform my players and manage various things like lore, legends, myths, and what a person in the world I’m creating would consider the truth of things. There’s a lot of willing-suspension-of-disbelief that happens for most D&D games, so there isn’t a lot most GMs and players need to make it work, but the particular game I’m running is reliant on very specific knowledge and mythology. I can expect my players to ask questions to help fill out what their characters know and I can work to understand what the average person in this world would know so I can avoid making my players roll for the basics, but I can also use my degree in English literature to create mythology and legends for the world in a way that establishes the basics. Plus, then I get to have fun writing stuff and I LOVE writing stuff.

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I Spent The Entire Day In A Good Mood

Every so often, as I have my massive, “every song I’ve genuinely enjoyed for the last two years” playlist shuffling through the 600+ tracks during my morning communte, a song will come on that will get me feeling energized and at least a little positive. On a rare occasion, that one song will be followed by several that all hit just right as I’m driving to work in the morning and I wind up striding into the office full of motivation to get to work on my goals. It’s a nice feeling, to be in a good mood for no reason other than positive, enjoyable music, and I do my best to take note of it every time it happens. Good moods are few and far between for me these days, so I try to appreciate them when they happen.

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I Love To Tinker With My D&D Campaign Settings

Lately, I’ve been enjoying making lots of documents for my Dungeons & Dragons games. I know I talk about “understanding can serve you better than knowing” a lot here, but there’s a point where you understand so much you start needing to record it all somewhere so you remember it later. Generally, I like to keep these documents to broad, general strokes without a lot of specifics so I can cleave to my principles as a DM, but it is very helpful to have all the specific, complex systems worked out ahead of time. For instance, in the domain of dread I’ve built for my weekly Sunday D&D, I have a list of the various tiers of effects the players can encounter, the ways various encounters tie into those tiers, how to switch between tiers, and how the world/the people in the world respond to their efforts written down. What I add whenever it comes up are the specific debilities tied to the tiers as my players encounter them. Those I do not have built out ahead of time since I don’t need a name until it’s happening and the name and specific effect should reflect the situation the player character has found themselves in.

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Imperfect Rest Is Better Than None

As I’ve been working on recovering from all the stress of the past few months and trying to find ways to still make progress on my goals without worsening my current degree of burnout, I’ve realized that my most restful days of late are days that include a mixture of actual rest, enjoyable activities, and moderate productivity. While I’ve always known this to some degree or another, I’ve never been able to nail down a formula for it. Experimentation over the last few weeks though, has had startlingly positive results. If I have enough rest and relaxation intermingled with a moderately busy day of self-directed activity, it is usually a net-restful day for me, even if I’m cleaning my apartment and doing all my laundry. If I can be a little productive on a day set aside to not need productivity while also engaging in restful occupation, it is usually quite restful.

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Walking Away From Pokémon Go

For the first time in what might actually be years, I logged into Pokémon Go. Once I updated the app, remembered my password, and waited several minutes for it finish loading up on a phone that wasn’t new four years ago when I got it to play Pokémon Go (my previous phone overheated and died within an hour of starting the app which made it intolerable for the special events), I was in. Before I could do more than register that the app had forgotten my preferences for zero volume and no vibration, I was inundated in notifications, pop-ups, and notifications that there were activities to explore that didn’t exist the last time I opened the app. It was a truly harrowing five minutes as I felt like my phone was going to melt through its case because the game was demanding so much from my poor “old” phone, but eventually I cleared everything and the app settled down enough for me to look through the many Pokémon I had collected in a surprisingly bittersweet stroll down memory lane.

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The Secret To My Success As A Game Master

In one of my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I recently leveled up my players and gave them access to some a few magic items each since the next adventure hook they chose was to explore an incredibly dangerous area that can cause magic to go haywire. In the time since that session, I’ve been working with some of them to select the items they want and ensure that they understand their new abilities or powers. It is fairly typical for this group, but it’s something I provide to any player who needs it because I have a fairly broad knowledge of the content and I know enough to find anything if I can’t remember it. It’s a useful skill to have as both a DM and player, and I feel like I’ve managed to present myself as a resource to other players and DMs alike without being overbearing.

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