Loving Shadow – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a rather long journal entry I wrote recently and decided to break into 3 parts. Part 1 provides some background information that may be helpful for understanding this and the next part. In this post I introduce 2 characters who seem to represent aspects of my psyche that need to learn to work together. I describe the current attitude my character, a healer, has toward another player’s character, a … well, severely wounded individual.

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20 years

I’m too young for it to be 20 years since my dad died.

I’m sad.

I’m angry. At the cancer. At tobacco companies. At the hospital. At Dad.

I’m angry about how the new chair of my state Green Party is treating me, and I’m about ready to be done with it all together, but I care too much about the people in my local and resigning feels like abandoning them. And I don’t know whether my feelings like I’m not a very good chair and they’d be better off with someone else are a realistic assessment of the situation, or the depression, because it’s been really bad lately.

I’m not sure to what degree the two are related, but they’re happening at the same time, and it’s frustrating the hell outta me.

20 years and I’m still trying to squash my emotions and continue with business as usual, and when that fails I’m playing video games until my eyes bleed. And when I do want to focus on this ridiculous mess of emotions, I can’t help thinking about what certain people in the state party leadership have said to me, how they’re slandering Ron & me, how they’re disrespecting me and my local.

I need space for me but I’m struggling to create that space.

I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m angry.

I’m grateful for my mom stepping up as a single parent to raise me. She’s been there through thick and thin. She’s still supporting me and Fox. And she’s been working hard, learning a lot, coming to respect me more as a person and an adult. Whatever my relationship with my dad (and my mom) could have been, I kinda mourn it but it also doesn’t really matter (and I get the impression it would be worse).

My relationship with Mom, now, is what’s important. It’s something we’ve struggled with, something we’ve fought through, something we’ve cried and argued over, something I’ve dragged kicking and screaming out of the mud, something we’ve both worked our asses off for … and we’ve come out the better, closer, for it. And there’s still a lot of work and growth and that’ll probably be a lifetime effort … but it’s there and it’s REAL and it’s OURS.

Each year I’ve been counting how long it’s been, and I think it was last year that I realized I wasn’t really mourning missing wishing I still had him in my life … I’ve been celebrating. 20 years of survival. 20 years of LIFE. 20 years of me and my mom not killing each other, lol. 20 years of us CREATING our own relationship and our own lives.

In my last music therapy session Wakana got me to sing about all this. I sang/said that I had pulled myself together from the ashes, and when they say ‘rise from the ashes’ they don’t say how hard it is to pull each individual ash in and make something new from it. But it’s what I do, it’s my nature, even though it hurts and even though I’m tired. Whatever happens, I rise. I rise. I rise. I rise.

And it’s not just her it’s my wonderful family and friends. Fox & Banji were both here for me big time yesterday. My uncle & aunt (Mom’s brother & sister-in-law) came to visit while Mom was away; they took me to dinner and lunch the next day and we had some wonderful conversation. And over the holidays it was so wonderful to spend time with my family and friends.

I felt alive in a way I hadn’t since getting caught up in all this political bullshit.

I felt whole again.

A New Milestone in Therapy: Part 2

[CW: descriptions of ways alcoholics and people under the influence of alcohol behave that can be harmful, especially to others]

In my last post I described 3 of the people I’ve been working with, ways in which some of their behaviors are reflective of (and/or caused by) the influence of alcohol, and weird psychological dynamics I’ve been experiencing with them. Today’s session with Wakana, which just ended, expanded on that discussion.

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Sims 3 Legacy: Beyond the Veil

This is the fifth installment of my Sims 3 Legacy; I’m halfway to my goal of 10 generations! Today’s post picks up where Part 4 left off: with Oma pregnant very soon after her high school graduation.

Legacy Family

Oma gave birth to a boy (whom she named Patrick), followed soon after by a girl (Penny).

This served as a sort of wake up call for her uncle Nash: he wasn’t getting any younger, and he wanted to be sure his nieces’ children would have plenty of adults available to care for them. So, he reopened his workshop and built a second simbot, whom he named Kim.

Back-profile view of an older man (left) looking at a silver metal anthropomorphic robot (center).

Kim (right) tells Nash (left) about zir awesome features. Nash’s other, non-sentient inventions are visible in the background.

A man crouches with arms extended to a toddler with long hair, who is standing with hands extended toward the man's face. A robot stands holding a male toddler, who appears to be laughing.

Nash (center) teaches Penny to walk, while Kim (right foreground) tickles Patrick.

Nash died soon afterward, much to his chagrin. His love of inventing had been reawakened, there were new children to help raise… but he was out of time. Though his legacy wasn’t quite as world-changing as he’d wanted, Nash tried to take comfort in the fact that he had created a simbot who outlived him. Death claimed Nash as ze must do to all sims.

Oma had always been uniquely attuned to the reality beyond the grave, so it seemed only natural for her to become a ghost hunter. At first she was called upon to capture simple spirits who had lost their self-identity – and whom her clients found annoying. Most of these spirits turned out to be friendly, scared, or hurting. Oma discovered that, by catching and releasing them, she could enable these spirits to be at peace.

It is nighttime in a clearing surrounded by trees. A young woman in a yellow jumpsuit holds out a container. Above her, a bright green semi-transparent ghost-like shape rises out of the container.

Oma releases a recently-captured spirit into the night.

Oma quickly built a reputation as a successful ghost hunter, which brought a welcome influx of clients. She was increasingly called upon to eliminate ghostly presences that made her clients feel uneasy in their own homes, and that at times even threatened clients’ safety. These ghosts were sentient and took forms similar to the ones they’d had in life. Oma found they simply needed someone to be compassionate and reassure them that it was safe to let go of this existence.

The image features a man (left) who is purple, transparent, and wearing chain mail. He is shaking hands with a woman wearing a yellow jumpsuit (right).

Oma (right) shakes hands with a ghost (left) whom she has convinced to move on.

Meanwhile, Oma’s sister Olive graduated high school and joined a criminal organization in hopes of someday becoming a master thief. She had an affair with her superior (a fairy named Luis Case) and birthed a son (whom she named Paul). Olive has been working hard and rising in the ranks (despite numerous arrests).

A large family poses in front of a beach scene.

Patrick (left), Nicole (holding Paul), Kim (center), Olive, Oma (right), and Penny (seated in foreground) pose for a family photo at the summer festival.

Proud to have 3 grandchildren, Nicole spent much of her time caring for Patrick, Penny, and especially Paul. As the children became more independent, she dedicated increasing amounts of time to alchemy. Nicole created a large stock of elixirs, which should prove useful to current and future generations.

A woman with gray hair uses a long wooden spoon to stir the contents of an opaque cauldron. A large book lies open on a stand to her right.

Nicole stirs one of her many artfully-crafted elixirs.

When Death came for Nicole on Spooky Day, she greeted zir with grace and gratitude. Ze had given her children, who in turn gave her grandchildren. Now, after a long full life, ze offered her rest.

The family, though saddened, has been doing quite well. Kim – inspired by Nicole’s artistic brilliance – has developed a love of painting. Patrick has grown up to be quite the socialite; he loves making new friends and is always ready to throw a party. Penny loves everything having to do with music and works diligently to master a variety of instruments. Paul – brilliant, ambitious, and… a bit odd – is doing well in high school.

Several sims wearing formal wear pose in front of a snowy backdrop.

Paul (seated, front left), Oma (standing, left), Kim, Penny (center), Olive, and Patrick (right) pose for a family photo soon after Penny’s high school graduation.

A woman plays an electronic keyboard outdoors. Behind her, a large excavated area reveals a platform with an ornate door featuring images of the grim reaper.

Penny (center) plays her portable keyboard near the excavation site. A small group of sims (left) listen to her play. In the right background, a tourist converses with Death.

Family Tree

I have expanded the Legata family tree, pictured below, to include the newest generation. On the far left, the symbol for Nash is now crossed out to indicate that he is deceased. Kim is represented by a diamond (filled with black to indicate that ze is a simbot); a blue arrow points from Nash to Kim to show that Nash built zir. The symbol for Nicole is also crossed out to show that she is deceased.

The symbol for Oma (bottom center) is connected to the one for Quintin Beaulieu with a blue dotted line to indicate that they dated briefly. The symbol for Olive (next to Oma) is connected to the one for Luis Case with a pink dashed line to show that they had an affair – that is, Luis cheated on his girlfriend with Olive. The symbols for Luis and his sister Tanesha are filled with green to show that they are fairies. The symbols for their (divorced) parents are filled with gray to show that their supernatural status is unknown.

Finally, the symbols for Patrick, Penny, and Paul (far bottom) are filled with yellow to indicate that they – like their mothers, grandmother (Nicole), great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother (Lisa) – are all witches!

The Legata Family Tree, generations 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The Legata Family Tree, generations 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

A Place for the Dead

The Legatas expanded Nash’s astronomy tower downward to create their own private catacombs. On the first level they interred Nash and Nicole, whose remains had been cremated. Their urns rest on a table, surrounded by flowers, with their portraits on the wall behind them.

A gray stone wall with two portraits on it, behind a dark table. On the table are two white urns with gold embellishments, one in front of each portrait.

The memorial to Nash (left) and Nicole (right), inside the newly-built Legata family catacombs.

Legacy House

I expanded the legacy house so all the bedrooms – 5 in total – are on the second floor. The bedrooms on the first floor have been converted: the one near the front of the house is now a playroom/nursery and features a porch opening out onto a playground. The bedroom in the right back corner of the house is now an alchemy lab, and the one in the back center is… essentially a hallway. A large addition to the front left of the house features a double staircase going up to the second floor. I added doorways to facilitate movement from room to room.

The first floor of the legacy house, with most walls cut away to show all the rooms. Kim reads in the livingroom (near the center of the house).

The first floor of the legacy house, with most walls cut away to show all the rooms. Kim reads in the living room (near the center of the house).

The second floor features two full bathrooms, five bedrooms, and plenty of hallway space. The hallway has easels for painting and is often the location of impromptu music performances. Two of the bedrooms are intended for one sim, and two feature double beds. The bedroom in the back left has three single beds – one for each of the children born in this generation.

The second floor of the legacy house, with most walls cut away to make all the rooms visible. The back center bedroom is dark because Olive is sleeping in it.

The second floor of the legacy house, with most walls cut away to make all the rooms visible. The back center bedroom is dark because Olive is sleeping in it.

A large 2-story house surrounded by a fence. A two-car garage is visible in the left front. There is a tower in the left rear, surrounded by graves. A fenced-in garden and playground are visible in the far right.

The legacy lot and surrounding countryside.

The Next Generation

Penny has started casually dating the young adult male sim behind and slightly to the right of her in the image where she’s playing piano. It seems likely she might start having children with him the next time I play… 😉

Speaking of which, I’ve been feeling a lot less temptation to play The Sims 3. There’s definitely a correlation: the worse I feel, the more I play. The better I feel, the less I play – because I’m too busy doing other awesome real-world things. I also tend to feel worse as a result of playing The Sims 3, especially when it’s slow and glitching or I’ve made the mistake of giving my sims autonomy. The absolute worst is when I let it eat my whole day (or multiple days…).

So, yeah. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot with my Sims 3 Legacy; I’m quite proud of it. I might even be able to just end it here: reread my posts, look at the succession of family portraits, pat myself on the back, and walk away. Of course, the more I think about it, the more tempted I am to boot it up as soon as I publish this blog post…

My point is, if I continue playing, it will be for the fun of playing the game. I might continue the Legacy Challenge. I might make a new game so I can explore aspects of my existing expansions that I still haven’t gotten to yet. I might just make ridiculous sims or build incredible houses. That’s kind of the point: it’s a sandbox game.

If I continue this legacy, I’ll definitely post about it. The posts will just be a lot less frequent.

Sims 3 Legacy: Sim-Cyborg Relations

This is the fourth installment of my Sims 3 Legacy. It picks up where Part 3 left off: with Nash inventing and Nicole vigorously studying Alchemy in order to produce an elixir that can cure transformed sims.

Legacy Family

Nash and Nicole’s aunt Mira retired as soon as she reached the appropriate age – none of this “waiting until I’m about to die” nonsense her mother and sister did. This enabled Mira to fully enjoy her golden years receiving a hard-earned pension. She spent as much time as she could in werewolf form, finding a variety of rare and fascinating metals, gems, and insects. When not hunting, she went on dates with her girlfriend and helped raise her niece’s children.

The Door of Life and Death

The Riverview Association for Amateur Archaeologists (RAFAA) caught wind of some strange, seemingly sim-made protrusions coming out of the ground in a grassy, undeveloped area near the fish hatchery. When they excavated, they discovered a peculiar door that seemed to lead to nowhere. Perplexed, they withdrew to covertly observe what happens when sims interact with their discovery.

The site has since become a popular place to hang out, though a few outsiders have suddenly gone missing. To Nicole and her high school sweetheart, Savannah Drummond, it seemed the perfect place to go for a date. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that, by knocking on the door, they could talk to Death – without dying!

Nicole felt that Death owed her one for ruining her high school graduation ceremony. So, she requested a new life – a pregnancy – created from a combination of her and Savannah’s genes.

Death summons a bolt of light that strikes at Nicole's feet, causing her to become pregnant. Nicole's girlfriend, Savannah, watches nearby.

Death summons a bolt of light that strikes at Nicole’s feet, causing her to become pregnant. Nicole’s girlfriend, Savannah, watches nearby.

The thing is, such a merger defies the laws of nature – and that is risky. The two children Nicole conceived in this manner (on two separate occasions) “dance to the beat of their own drummer,” somewhat out of touch with the reality most sims agree on. Perhaps they are more in touch with another reality, such as that beyond the grave?

I gave Nicole’s daughters the “insane” trait to reflect that their ways of being in the world seem … a bit odd … to other sims. I share some of their tendencies, particularly talking to myself (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we talk among ourselves almost constantly very frequently “all the time” – and seldom agree have trouble coming to a consensus). Most notably (and refreshingly) they don’t lose focus whenever they are in the same room as a ghost; I guess seeing dead people is “normal” to them.

The Master Invention

While Nicole was negotiating with Death, her brother Nash was hard at work inventing. He moved his bed into his workshop to make it easier for him to stay up most of the night working on his craft.

His dedication finally paid off very soon after Nicole gave birth to her first child, Oma. After searching all of Riverview for rare materials (with the help of Mira) and working tirelessly in his lab, he finally created the invention that would define his career and change life for all simkind – hopefully for the better…

A robot sits on the edge of a crafting table, smiling with arms extended as though to give a hug, while the inventor who created him cheers. An unmade bed is visible to the left, several other inventions to the right.

a simbot!

Nash named the simbot Josiah and adopted zir into the family, where ze was fully accepted and loved. A good-humored virtuoso, Josiah learned to play guitar with ease and became an active member of a local rock band. When not practicing or performing, ze helped to care for Oma and her younger sister, Olive.

Josiah plays zir guitar

Josiah plays guitar

Josiah reads with Oma, a toddler

Josiah reads with Oma, a toddler

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Life in the Legata household was going well. The children were well cared-for, Nicole learned to create her elixir and used it to cure many sims of zombie-ism, and Nash turned to improving his handiness so he could keep Josiah in good health.

Josiah (far left, holding Olive), Mira (left center), Nicole (right center), Nash (right), and Oma (seated in foreground) pose together in front of a wintry backdrop.

Josiah (far left, holding Olive), Mira (left center), Nicole (right center), Nash (far right), and Oma (seated in foreground) pose together in front of a wintry backdrop.

Then Oma, ready to grow up into a teenager, had her birthday on the night of the full moon. When she went to blow out the candles, her cake mysteriously caught fire! At the same moment, Mira died of old age. Death seemed to gloat as ze claimed her, further influencing the life ze had helped create: Oma developed the “brooding” trait, which predisposes her to melancholy thoughts about existential issues. It reminds me of my tendency to ruminate, especially when my depression symptoms are stronger.

[I wish I’d taken a screenshot!]

During Mira’s funeral, Death visited once again – this time to claim Josiah. The simbot greeted Death graciously, but the rest of the family was devastated.

Josiah shakes hands with Death, surrounded by zir family members (who are crying). They stand atop a recently-filled grave, with two other tombstones visible in the right-background.

Josiah shakes hands with Death, surrounded by zir family members (who are crying). They stand atop a recently-filled grave, with two other tombstones visible in the right-background.

Aftermath

The loss of two family members hit the Legatas hard.

a man flails, suspended in a vertical beam of light in a nighttime, suburban scene

Nash is abducted by aliens in his own front yard!

Nash swore off inventing and lacked focus … until he was abducted by aliens. They ignited a his passion for – no! obsession with – all things having to do with outer space. He built a tower between Mira’s and Josiah’s graves, equipped it with the basics he needed to survive, topped it with telescopes, and retreated from everyday life. (This enabled him to master the logic skill, the third and final skill he needed for the lifetime wish: “Renaissance Sim.”) Though he has identified several celestial bodies, he has yet to find whatever it is he is looking for.

Oma sits cross-legged, deep in thought about her heartache. The graves of Mira, Lisa, and Melanie are visible through the window.

Oma sits cross-legged, deep in thought about her heartache. The graves of Mira, Lisa, and Melanie are visible through the window.

Oma spent hours contemplating both the meaning and the hollowness of reality. Though her brooding did not interfere with her school performance, it limited her ability to develop skills, socialize, and otherwise live a fulfilling life.

a young female sim, submerged to her neck, with an anxious facial expression, surrounded by nature

Suddenly finding herself in the middle of a body of water, Olive looks around anxiously.

Since becoming a teenager, Olive has been having sudden impulses to run out into the nearest body of water and swim. She suddenly realizes she is in deep water and becomes anxious and disoriented. Fortunately, she has thus far been able to find her way back to dry, solid ground. No one has been able to explain the reason for – or meaning of – these impulses.

Oma’s transition to young adulthood went smoothly enough, considering the circumstances. She graduated with honors at the top of her class. The family went to the Fall Festival immediately afterward to take a photo together and celebrate.

Nash, Nicole, Oma, and Olive pose in front of an autumn backdrop after Oma's graduation from high school.

Nash, Nicole, Oma, and Olive pose in front of an autumn backdrop after Oma’s graduation from high school.

Below is the updated version of the Legata family tree. Mira’s symbol (just right of center) is now crossed out to show that she is deceased. I added a diamond to represent Nash’s simbot, Josiah, in the lower left. It is filled with black to show that ze was a simbot, and crossed out to show that ze is also deceased. A blue arrow with the word “Invented” shows that Nash created Josiah.

I added the family tree of Nicole’s ex-girlfriend Savannah on the far right side of the Legata family tree. The symbols for Savannah, her father (Rex), mother (Windy), and youngest brother (Jaques) are filled with white to show that they are “normal,” non-magical sims. The symbol for her sister Hannah is filled with fuchsia to show that she is a vampire. The symbols for George Dean (upper left), Mira Legata, and Savannah’s brother Antwain are filled with reddish-brown to show that they are werewolves.

Death is represented near the middle of the family tree by a diamond (filled with gray to show that zir “supernatural status” is unknown). Red arrows point from Death to Oma and Olive to show that Death helped Nicole conceive them. Finally, the symbols for Oma and Olive (bottom center) are filled with yellow to show that they, like their mother (Nicole), grandmother (Melanie), and great-grandmother (Lisa), are witches!

The Legata Family Tree, generations 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The Legata Family Tree, generations 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The Next Generation

Oma met a fellow witch named Quintin Beaulieu at the Fall Festival and quickly fell in love. She slept with him that very night. Several urgent visits to the bathroom later, Oma discovered that she is pregnant with her first child!

A young woman (left) talking to an older woman (right) whose eyes and mouth are opened wide. In the upper left corner is an image of a man and woman holding hands in bed, surrounded by a thought bubble that points to the young woman's head.

Nicole (right) is shocked to learn that Oma (center) is pregnant at such a young age. In the thought bubble (upper left corner) Oma remembers the night she spent with Quintin (left).

Themes in my Sims 3 Legacy

Last week Wakana asked me to write down the themes that have emerged in my playing of The Sims 3. The themes I’ve recognized so far can be categorized as Social, Vocational, and Existential. One – perhaps the – major theme inherent to the game is Death.

Social Themes

  • being accepted as I am and supported in fulfilling my dreams
  • emphasis on family relationships and friendships, not romance and marriage
  • “loner” vs. charismatic socialite who makes friends easily
  • communication even when it is perceived as “mean” (i.e. assertiveness, honesty)
  • What influence does the perception of others have on my life?
  • dressing stylishly to improve my confidence and to express myself
  • maintaining and strengthening relationships

Vocational Themes

  • balancing goals, responsibilities, needs, and impulses
  • socioeconomic mobility
  • building on the success of previous generations
  • adapting to life circumstances
  • pursuing passion vs doing what it takes to pay the bills
  • innovation even when others think I am and/or my ideas are crazy
  • motherhood; balancing work and family
  • working together within the family to help everyone meet their vocational goals
  • living a successful and fulfilling life with a mood disorder
  • “reaching the top” of my career
  • I have the knowledge and skill I need to fulfill my goals, but how do I find the required “ingredients” (e.g. internship)?

Existential Themes

  • What is my connection to the past?
    • e.g. family tree / heredity / lack of connection with parents & grandparents
  • accepting what already exists and building on it
  • What influence will I have on future generations?

Death

  • the pain of losing loved ones / important relationships
  • change, especially in family dynamics & relationships
  • being haunted by (the memory of) a deceased loved one
  • happens to everyone, but we can’t know when or how

Today we talked about the social themes. I need to stop caring what other people think about me, accept myself, and be authentic. I’ve made some good progress in that department, and it’s a process I continue to engage in. During our session she got me to tap into, name, and own some of my inner resources. (“That person who was just talking to me, who’s that?” “Me!”) I’ve also been doing all sorts of awesome adult things all day – despite being tired, sad, and (most recently) nauseous. It feels good.

Sims 3 Legacy: Meeting Death

This is the third installment of my Sims 3 Legacy. It picks up where Part 2 left off: with my founder (Lisa) ready to retire and her daughters (Melanie & Mira) well on their way to the tops of their respective career tracks.

Legacy Family

After a long and fulfilling life, Lisa Legata retired from her position as Star News Anchor. Death came for her within a few days. She greeted Death with open arms, and together they journeyed to the Great Beyond.

A female ghost (lower right) shakes hands with the Grim Reaper

Lisa Legata greets Death

A tall tombstone with purple flowers in front of it. To one side, one woman cries on another's shoulder.

Lisa’s daughters mourn her passing. Melanie (left) cries on Mira’s (right) shoulder.

Prior to her mother’s death, Melanie discovered that her second love interest had a girlfriend; that was why he was unresponsive to her romantic advances. Why he didn’t ask to “just be friends” as a result is beyond me (ironic, no?). As predicted, he became angry with her when she actually communicated her intentions to him. I could have had her apologize – an interaction that helped her become best friends with her original romantic interest – but I decided not to. He’s the one who should have apologized to her!

Several new friendships later, Melanie began dating a kind, eccentric, non-magical sim named Nikolas Brinson. They had two children together: a boy, followed some time later by a girl. Melanie named them Nash and Nicole, respectively. Nash is non-magical and inherited his father’s eccentricity. Nicole is a witch like her mother and grandmother; she shares her father’s compassion for all sims. Unfortunately, neither of Melanie’s children got to meet their grandmother.

Melanie (left), Mira (center), Nash (right), and Nicole (foreground) pose for a family portrait at the Spring Festival

Melanie (left), Mira (center), Nash (right), and Nicole (foreground) pose for a family portrait at the Spring Festival

Melanie successfully juggled raising children with continuing to climb the political career ladder. She became Leader of the Free World not long before reaching retirement age.

Meanwhile, Mira worked diligently to become an astronaut; she achieved her goal soon after aging up to become a full-fledged adult. As an astronaut Mira was only required to work one day a week; this gave her plenty of free time to explore all of Riverview as a werewolf and find all sorts of interesting metals, gems, and insects. Her garden thrived under her care. Soon after Nicole was born, Mira entered an exclusive, committed romantic relationship with her best friend.

As a child, Nash became obsessed with building strange contraptions out of scrap metal, often talking excitedly about his next new “invention.” He secluded himself in his workshop above the garage for entire days, seeming to prefer solitude. Since graduating high school he has registered as a “self-employed inventor” and engages in a tireless quest to make new discoveries.

As a child, Nash builds something in his workshop atop the two-car garage. Some of his other inventions are on display in the background.

As a child, Nash builds something in his workshop atop the two-car garage. Some of his other inventions are on display in the background.

Nicole had a “normal” childhood and adolescence, during which she dabbled in magic with far less dedication than her predecessors. She only discovered her love of Alchemy upon reaching young adulthood. Inspired by her grandmother’s Possible Solutions to Riverview’s Zombie Problem, Nicole is determined to use alchemy to cure as many transformed sims as possible. She has already cured one sim of zombie-ism using an elixir she purchased at the consignment store.

After serving as Leader of the Free World for quite some time, Melanie decided to retire. Death came for her within a day. She died of old age during Nicole’s high school graduation ceremony. Though deeply saddened, Mira, Nicole, and Nash took a graduation picture together before returning home to mourn.

Nash (left), Mira (center), and Nicole (right) pose in front of a wintry backdrop on Nicole's graduation day.

Nash (left), Mira (center), and Nicole (right) pose in front of a wintry backdrop on Nicole’s graduation day.

two identical tombstones in a wintry landscape. a lone woman stands, weeping, near one of them

Mira mourns alone by her sister’s grave

I expanded the Legata family tree to include Nikolas (far left), Nash (lower left), and Nicole (lower right). The symbols for Nikolas and Nash are filled with white to show that they are “normal,” non-magical sims. The symbol for Nicole is filled with yellow to show that she, like Melanie and Lisa, is a witch. The black dot to the lower right of Mira’s symbol (middle right) indicates that she does not have children. Lisa’s symbol (top right) and Melanie’s symbol (middle left) are crossed out to show that they are now deceased.

The Legata Family Tree, generations 0, 1, 2, and 3.

The Legata Family Tree, generations 0, 1, 2, and 3.

Legacy House

In addition to a two-car garage with Nash’s workshop above it, I added 3 bedrooms to the legacy house. Two of them are visible in the far right of the image below, with a small bathroom between them. The third is in the back of the house, accessible via the dining room.

The legacy house with walls cut away to reveal all the rooms. In the center, Melanie teaches Nicole to walk.

The legacy house with walls cut away to reveal all the rooms. In the center, Melanie teaches Nicole to walk.

the legacy lot in winter

the legacy lot in winter

The Next Generation

What will come of Nash’s inventing? Will Nicole take some time out from practicing Alchemy to bring in the next generation? Find out soon…

Sims 3 Legacy – The Next Generation

It probably comes as no surprise that the founder for my Sims 3 Legacy Challenge, Aurora Bonaventura, was indeed able to bring in the second generation of her matriarchal bloodline. One of her love interests randomly stopped by one evening after she’d graduated from University and resumed her culinary career. It seemed the perfect opportunity to start her family…

Aurora feeds her baby in the living room. Going clockwise from 9 o'clock, one can see the kitchen, bathroom, children's bedroom, and master bedroom around her.

Aurora feeds her baby in the living room. Going clockwise from 9 o’clock, one can see the kitchen, bathroom, children’s bedroom, and master bedroom around her.

She gave birth to a baby girl near the end of summer. Then her love interest visited again; she gave birth to a baby boy in early winter. Raising the two children on her own proved to be quite the challenge. It didn’t leave her any time or energy to work on other things.

A genogram (family tree) depicting Aurora (upper right) and her children: Brianna (lower left) and Brandon (lower right). Their father's family is depicted in the upper left.

A genogram (family tree) depicting Aurora (upper right) and her children: Brianna (lower left) and Brandon (lower right). Their father’s family is depicted in the upper left.

Family photo: Brianna sits in the foreground, while Aurora holds Brandon (as a toddler) in the background.

Family photo: Brianna sits in the foreground, while Aurora holds Brandon (as a toddler) in the background.

Aurora climbed her career ladder until she reached her lifetime goal of becoming a celebrated 5-star chef, then retired. She’s written 2 books so far: an autobiography and a guide to improving upon recipes.

The kids excelled in school, successfully juggling academics and part-time jobs (as teenagers). The girl, Brianna, developed a passion for painting and writing. The boy, Brandon, dedicated much of his time to improving his chess strategy.

I played until Brianna became a young adult and graduated high school.

Aurora (left), Brianna (center), and Brandon (right) take a celebratory photo soon after Brianna's graduation from high school

Aurora (left), Brianna (center), and Brandon (right) take a celebratory photo soon after Brianna’s graduation from high school

Aurora died of old age a day or two later… except that the cat (whom she had adopted shortly before having Brianna) begged the Grim Reaper to let her live. (Autonomously: I was controlling one of the kids.) The cat’s plea was successful!

Aurora is still alive… for now…

My Worst Fear is Suicide

TW: suicide, self harm

I used to say that I did not fear my own death. I was thinking I would die – hopefully peacefully – “when my time comes.” It might be painful, it might be scary, but there would be something beyond. I expected to find peace in death, or if not peace, a new life to live. Or a new form of existence. Somewhere deep inside, I still hope that’s what death will mean for me.

I used to say my biggest fear was losing the people I love. But then 3 of the 4 people I lived with and loved as a child died. My grandparents died. My father’s side of the family abandoned me. My friends moved away and I lost contact with them. The classmates I once felt a connection with have moved on with their lives. I broke up with the first person I thought I’d spend my life with (not Fox, we’re still together). I came to realize that my mother has never been able to truly meet my emotional needs because she’s hurting too much. My uncle died, my college mentor died, and Schmoozer (my pet rat) died – all in the same year. I came to realize that, although my remaining family may love me, I don’t really have a connection with them most of the time. I don’t reach out to them enough and they don’t reach out to me enough, either. We all have separate lives.

It’s painful. It’s scary. But I know I can survive losing the people I love. I don’t want to lose them. I will work very hard to strengthen and maintain what connections I can. But I’ve accepted that people move in and out of my life and I need to let them go.

In a nutshell, what I fear the most is that I will give up on myself. I sort of did it for a while and got lost in video games. I was isolated, miserable, with no job, no outside activities or responsibilities, and I’d stopped making music. But people could – and did – pull me back from that. I had to do something: answer the phone, drive to where they were, invite them over … but they were there. Wakana has been there, lighting a fire under my butt whenever necessary. I haven’t really given up on myself. Not yet.

Now I’m slightly less isolated, considerably less miserable, with no job, minimal outside activities, motivation to complete my degree program and enter my career of choice, and I’m making music again. I’m also facing an illness that, left to its own devices, will only get worse. I have my ups, but the downs are murder. I hate the thought of taking medication and I want to pretend I don’t need to… but I’m clinging to every good or decent day in fear of having a truly bad day / week / month / quarter/ year again. I need some semblance of stability.

Then I get up the courage to reach out to psychiatrists and the only one who responds isn’t available until July 31st. I wasn’t even trying to reach the person I have an appointment with on purpose; the practice Fox and I set up our marriage counseling with offered to schedule individual psychiatric evaluations. I have no idea how I’ll be in a month. How I feel, what I can remember, the affect I show on that day will determine the diagnosis and thus medication I receive; it could be months or years before we figure out what I actually need and will benefit from. And in the meantime, my whole life is washing down the drain…

I think about hurting myself regularly. At least once most days. On days when I’m not thinking about or feeling an urge to hurt myself, there is often at least one point when I’m frustrated, angry, tired, and/or bored enough to visualize a knife piercing my skin. I become more aware of the underside of my left forearm; on good days I rub it with my right palm and hug myself. On some level it’s really that I want to break – or, well, cut – my way out of a feeling (or lack of feeling) that I don’t want to tolerate. But brain, come on! We need to come up with better, less painful imagery. Other times I think it’s at least partially an expression of what I feel is happening to me: someone/thing is cutting into me and hurting me, violating my final and most basic boundary. There are days when I think Mom and Fox would cut me open and climb inside me if they could.

If I hurt myself, my body will heal. There may be a scar, but honestly I don’t think I’d self-harm in a way that would do lasting damage or risk limiting my ability to do the things I love. If I’m self-harming, I still have a sense of self-preservation. I still intend and expect to live; I wouldn’t do anything to myself that I couldn’t imagine living with.

What I fear the most is that, on one of the horrifically bad days, I will actually try to kill myself. I will decide that there is nothing worth living for, not even the little things that have kept me going before. Not even composing. Not even love. I will decide that I am incapable of achieving any of my dreams. I will decide that I can never experience joy again. I will decide that I am not worth the air I breathe. I will decide that I do not deserve to be part of the Universe. That I do not deserve to be connected to anyone or anything. That I’m worse than nothing. That I never should have existed.

And worse than deciding all these things, I will act on that decision.

From what I’ve heard it won’t be one of the days when depression has sapped all of my energy and I can’t get out of bed. Then I’ll just be miserable, and it will suck. I fear I will commit suicide on a day when I have the energy to do something drastic, probably when I’m very, very angry. I’ll have to have stopped caring, not just about myself (that’s too easy) but about my loved ones as well. Or, more realistically, I’ll have to have a lapse in caring; it could be a moment when my impulses take over. (Which is why I’ll never own a gun.) Or maybe I’ll decide that, despite the pain and serious psychological issues my suicide would cause, my loved ones would be better off without me. To the point where pushing them away is not enough. To the point where I have enough days thinking like this to make and carry out a plan.

It’s a dark, terrifying place. I imagine anyone would be afraid to imagine someone else feeling and thinking this way. I imagine most people have never thought about themselves feeling and thinking this way. It’s just too horrific. Too painful.

I live close to the edge, clinging to whatever I can so I don’t look down and lose my grip. I’ve never attempted suicide and I’d really like to keep it that way. I fear a suicide attempt could result in lasting damage, impairments that would limit my ability to do the things I love. I fear the stigma people who attempt suicide face.

I fear becoming a statistic. Another sad story. Another “we never saw it coming.” Another thing for people to “survive.” Another piece in a puzzle that will never be solved as long as the only voices that are heard regarding suicide belong to people who have never stared it in the face.

Worse than all of that, I fear trapping myself in the very nightmare I would (ostensibly) commit suicide to escape. We don’t know what happens when we die; we might cease to exist. Some people think that’s terrifying and come up with alternatives; those alternatives have just as much chance of being true as far as anyone alive can tell. I’d much rather cease to exist – in comparison, that possibility is actually comforting – than trap myself in the misery and self-hatred that lie in the darkest and most wounded depths of my depression. That is my true worst fear: that I will commit suicide and not receive the peace and/or new possibilities I expect death to provide.

As long as I’m alive there’s still the possibility of experiencing happiness, even if it’s only for a moment. I can give and receive hugs. I can find ways to turn my painful experiences into creative endeavors that feed my soul and might inspire others to do something good for themselves and their communities. I can work on healing some of these wounds. And when I’m still and focus on my breath, I can know peace.

In response to Writing 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page