My eye problems came back again. After four or five months of being symptom-free as I work my way through the “maintenance” mode of my on-going care, they finally came back. In the other eye, this time. Feels pretty exhausting for my usual symptoms to be showing up in a new eye, despite all of the care I’m taking to prevent the issue in the first place. Most of my treatments work for both eyes, with the exception of the eyedrops I’ve been using, so the progression has been much slower than previous iterations, which means I’ve been able to take better notes about the symptoms. That, combined with the slight variations in how the issue is presenting itself in a new eye, means my doctor has some new ideas about what might be causing it and what we can do about it.Continue reading
Content Warning: Discussion of guns, gun violence, and smoking in the third paragraph and onward.
I’ve been on a bit of an old anime kick lately. Which is probably not what you think it is, given my relative late-coming to the anime scene (college) and my refusal to ever really engage with it beyond a few highly-recommended classics due to my general preference to only watch shows with other people. I mean, a lot of people will recommend a show to you from their childhood or teenage and then refuse to watch it with you because they know it will ruin their nostalgic memories of it. It’s like they know it’s bad, but refuse to tell you that because that would mean admitting the quality of it is contained within the rose-colored glasses of yesteryear and the lower standards of youth. By refusing to watch anything but the stuff people would watch with me, I’ve managed to mostly avoid this pitfall of “shows I loved years ago.”Continue reading
So, I spent a lot of time playing Cult of the Lamb. I even wrote about it last week. Unforuntaely, I got about halfway through the game (by my estimation, anyway. It might be longer than I think it is or shorter than I hope it to be) and a series of bugs rendered my save file almost unusable. Tack on constant performance issues, rituals failing to execute after selecting them, stuff disappearing from the game when I save and reload or between game launches, and various combat-related bugs that are responsible for all but one of my deaths, and it becomes clear that this was ready for cross-platform release. Also making it super clear is that many of these problems still exist on the PC version of the game, but with nowhere near the level of severity or consistency. I don’t know if I’ve ever played a game that felt as low-priority when it comes to console adaptions.Continue reading
It was another rough week. I got everything done I needed to and most of the things I wanted to, but I’m now struggling through another (thankfully silent) Friday and I want nothing more than to turn into a puddle for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. I bet puddles don’t have insomnia or anxiety. I bet puddles can get all the rest they need or want. I bet puddles don’t feel depressed and isolated from everyone they care about because anxiety is mean and they were raised to take on responsibility for the happiness and well-being of everyone around then, frequently leaving them feeling inadequate and like they’re hated whenever they protect their own mental health by not putting in extra effort to help other people who are struggling. What a life that would be, to be a puddle.Continue reading
One of the reasons I’m taking it easy this week is because I’ve been short on sleep every single night since I got home from visiting a friend. Nothing’s wrong, I’ve just gotten completely absorbed into playing Cult of the Lamb every night. Sure, I’d probably be cutting myself off long before 1 or 2 in the morning if I had the chance to start playing before 1030 and wasn’t a little desperate to do anything enjoyable and relaxing with my evening. I’ve had errands, laundry, and Dungeons and Dragons games every night since I got home from visiting a friend, and while Dungeons and Dragons is enjoyable, it isn’t relaxing. It takes real effort and focus to run a game and while I don’t regret my decision to run a session this week, I do wish I was better rested going into the week. I would feel a lot less like rubbish if I was. And who knows, maybe I would have actually followed-through on my decision to “just play a bit” of this addictive combo rogue-lite and management sim instead of losing track of time until I started nodding off at 1 or 2 in the morning.Continue reading
My absolute favorite type of candy is chewy SweetTarts. Whatever form they take, either as sugar discs or sugar pellets, I will rapidly consume more of them than is wise. Which isn’t a huge number, seeing as those things will absolutely destroy the inside of your mouth and make my sensitive teeth prone to hurting in a way nothing else but copious amounts of Mountain Dew can. As a result of the danger these things pose to my health and well-being, I have a tendency to avoid them in favor of other candy on the rare occasion I choose to indulge my sweet tooth. I don’t really care for sweet things most days and I’ve thankfully broken free of the habits of my youth, when candy played a more central role in my life, but every so often the craving just hits me and I decide to treat myself.Continue reading
Just as I was getting to the point in my Science-Fantasy D&D campaign that might include fantasy-flavored space stuff, the long-awaited Spelljammer expansion to Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition came out. For the entire time I’ve been playing fifth edition, I’ve seen people posting comments on every Wizards of the Coast announcement that amount to “Spelljammer when?” and, frankly, I’m pretty happy for that to finally be done. I bet it’ll continue in some capacity, of course, because that’s how people are, but I’m glad to finally have this out so I can inject some fun space-themed fantasy bullshit into my science-fantasy game and so people will finally shut up about it. I am a complex, multi-faceted being and I can enjoy things for multiple reasons.Continue reading
Content Warning for discussion of spiders and encountering spiders in daily life.Continue reading
Not sure what this is or where to go from here? You can find the table of contents Here.
Humans have always been storytellers. From our earliest days until whenever we finally disappear from the universe, we will be telling each other stories. For a while there, we’d figured out a way to make it indirect and widespread, sharing stories across the world via text and then voice and then video. There are still books, and the audio and videos can still be found in a few places, but Humans have shifted back around to direct storytelling. The Collapse has taken access to everything else away from most people, and those who survived adapted.
Now, on the quiet nights when the wind is low and the tundra has been still for long enough that everyone has stopped looking over their shoulders for signs of danger, people gather around the fire to share stories. They are bundled against the cold still, faces peeking out from heavy coats, huddled blankets, and worn out thermal sleeping bags because the warmth of the fire doesn’t spread very far. The banked and shielded coals are kept alive until the morning, when they’ll be needed again, but sitting around even a small, almost dead fire seems to be an important part of the ritual for most.
I like to participate when I can, on the nights when my duties as a Wayfinder don’t keep me busy. These people pay us to guide them from Enclave to Enclave, keeping them warm, fed, and safe as we traverse the arctic remnants of what used to be the midwest of the United States, so I am obligated to attend to my work even if I’d rather listen. I have to set a good example, after all.
The nights I join in, though, I almost always get drawn into the telling. I’m a rarity in the tundra, after all. I’m in my fifties, still traveling between Enclaves despite the harsh cold and nigh-constant snow that makes up our years. Most people don’t even move from one Enclave to another, let alone make a career of guiding people, carrying messages, and mapping the safest routes as the crumbling infrastructure of a lost world slowly decays.
Some do, of course. Not every move from one Enclave to another is by choice. Not every person can live in an Enclave. But most of those who move or make their lives outside the restrictions of an Enclave are on the younger side. Something about old bones needing warmth and the cold leeching away your life, according to the way people outside the Wayfinders tell it. Inside the Wayfinders, we know better. All it takes is one mistake, one error of judgment, and you can lose your life. The longer you do this job, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
The other older members of my Wayfinder crew aren’t really the storytelling type, so their marvelous sheen wears off quickly. Only I am willing to be pulled into telling stories most nights, and since I’ve been around for so long, I have more stories than most. Some real and some imagined or remembered. Tales of my crew’s past exploits as we’ve survived longer than most in the unforgiving frozen world outside the safety of an Enclave and stories I read or heard when I was younger, intermingling and sometimes being combined to create something new for my charges.
Inevitably, someone asks me what the world was like before The Collapse. There are a lot of children and teenagers who have only known the world we see before us, who are tired of hearing the same stories their parents tell them, that the Enclaves tell them. They want to know what my life was like before I became the first Wayfinder, before I started guiding people from bastion of safety to bastion of safety. They want to know what I might tell them that the Enclaves or their parents won’t, about how much better things were.
Unfortunately, few of them are satisfied with the truth. Since all Enclaves still have some kind of power in varying quantities, because they’ve adapted to the restrictions of the world that remains, things aren’t that different, other than the unending winter. Get deep enough in an Enclave–a fortress of contained warmth, safety, and order–and you can almost forget that the snow hasn’t vanished from the ground in over two decades. You can still see the old world in the shadow of the current one, if you know where to look. Human adaptability is so far insurmountable. Our world might be a ruined husk of what it once was, but we get along just fine now that we’ve figured out what we need to do to survive.
If there are no children to seek out stories of the wondrous world they never knew, the swapping of stories will eventually peter out until someone starts talking about where they were when The Collapse happened. If I can, I try to extricate myself at this point because someone will always turn to me, remark that I must have been an adult when it happened, and ask me to tell them my story.
The problem with talking about The Collapse is that it’s a name we came up with years after it happened. There’s still debate in what remains of the scholarly circles of the Net, some of it carried on by members of my own team as we deliver the various data dumps that allow the Enclaves to share information, about what specific event counts as The Collapse. While the debate is over a series of events that played out over the course of about six months, starting with the June snows and ending with the destruction of every population center throughout December that same year, they still argue about what moment in time marks the first event that Humanity couldn’t have recovered from, even if we’d all been unified at the time.
I’m of the opinion that it was years earlier than the general consensus. There was a moment in my early life, only a month out of college, when I saw some ultimately inconsequential piece of news and knew it was already over. That we were just dragging it out and trying to deny the reality we’d made for ourselves. I remember the bitter taste of being called an alarmist as my warnings fell on deaf ears. I remember phone calls going unanswered because people were tired of me begging them to prepare for what felt inevitable.
I try to brush them off, but some insist, implicitly asking me to reinforce the idea that the world we’re in now was unavoidable, that losing so many people was inevitable. If they do, I tell them. I tell them about the phone calls that eventually went unanswered because the people had vanished. About having only three people from my life before The Collapse still alive despite spending my entire life since then searching for my family and friends. About the origin of the Wayfinders being a man desperately trying to find any friends and family who survived the initial waves of destruction and only finding strangers he couldn’t bear to turn his back on.
I tell them that even though we still occasionally find isolated Enclaves and reconnected them with other survivors, I still haven’t found a single person I knew from before The Collapse except the three who are a part of my Wayfinder crew. The only three who listened to my warnings and were ready when the blizzard appeared and left behind destroyed cities in its wake. About frantically searching every updated obituary page for the names of people I knew more than half a lifetime ago because even that would be better than having them all be a part of the massive list of the missing.
The stories usually end after that. There’s not much to be said after an old man tells you why he’s still wandering the frozen wastelands over a decade after a sensible person would have retired to an Enclave. I try to end it on a positive note, by saying that founding the Wayfinders means I’ve got family in every Enclave in the world now, even if I’ve never met most of them, and that my knack for preparation means that they’re all going to get where they’re going safely. Usually they all return to telling stories after that, sometimes with a little help from me and a few choice anecdotes about some of the people I’ve reunited, but they usually stop asking me for stories after that.
Which is fine. Gives me more time to plan, to listen, and to keep watch. After all, as the head of the Wayfinders and the Captain of the only team big and skilled enough to escort large groups through the frozen wastelands, I’ve got a job to do.
Next Chapter: Chapter 1