The Curse of the Dragonborn

“Let’s play Skyrim” – by which I mean: “Let’s repeat the same sequence 7 times before we’re satisfied with the footage we recorded, then discover that the video and audio have become unsynchronized, so we have to do it again!” (I’m actually not exaggerating.) Then let’s do a great job editing the footage together and record some kick-ass post-commentary (which tends to also require several takes, and editing).

I’ve been working on this Let’s Play for a little over a week now; I’ve felt just about everything one could possibly feel about it:

I’m frustrated with how time-consuming and repetitive the process is. I’m angry at myself for how much time I’m putting into it, and feeling guilty about the things I’m not doing as a result. I’m thoroughly obsessed with it and gain a lot of satisfaction from thinking about it – but I would also like to occasionally not think about it. I’m devastated when I turn my back on it to spend time with Fox, but we’re both too exhausted to do anything. I feel better when we talk about Skyrim.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far and I want to share it. I’m concerned no one will watch it. I’m unsure whether I’ll be able to keep it up – and whether doing so is healthy. I feel very powerful when I play well. I feel very anxious when I’m unsure about a decision while recording. I want to show off my fantastic skills and wow viewers with my insightful commentary. I even like the way my voice sounds. I want to know what others think of it – mostly.

I think I should delete everything and start over. I think I should delete everything and stop playing Skyrim. I think I would be very sad if I deleted or otherwise lost my completed episodes, which are quite good – especially after putting so much time and energy into them.

I think it’s a fun hobby and good long-term project, assuming I can take breaks from it without abandoning it entirely. I want to join the Let’s Play community. I’m happy that so far I’ve prioritized opportunities to socialize in person and going to my therapy session over playing Skyrim. I’d much rather play Skyrim than do chores, apply for jobs and internships, run errands, exercise, do other leisure activities, etc. I really need to move forward with my life. I’m being creative, really!

My pet rats are adorable, make everything better, and are completely dependent on me. They are a million times more important than Skyrim.

… they also sleep a lot.

Now I don’t know how to stop…

In the two weeks since my last post, I played The Sims 3 to the point where the offspring of the original young adult couple are young adults themselves, recorded over 400 memories (with carefully-composed screenshots), and 10 seasonal greeting cards. The mother is an elder, the father is a vampire, the older daughter is dating a female vampire, and the younger daughter wants to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps. I’ve decided to set it aside for now because I made the sims’ lifespans too long (180 days, for anyone who cares). Playing that game has become unbearably tedious.

A 4x3 grid with 10 images. Changing seasons are depicted left to right: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. At first there is a heterosexual young adult couple. Then the family grows to include a child and teenager. By the last image both children are young adults, one of the original young adults is an elder, and the other is a vampire.

The 10 Greeting Cards: Here you can see the family change and grow in conjunction with the cyclic changing of the seasons.

Now I have a third version of that family, but with shorter lifespans (130 days). I built them a much better starter house than the previous versions. The front room is one big open space with both living room (left) and kitchen (right); there is a counter island that separates the space. Walk about halfway into the house and the door to the bedroom is on the left; to the bathroom is on the right. A door between the kitchen area and bathroom provides an alternative entrance/exit and passage into a new addition to the house, should one be built (which will happen eventually). I’m sorry I don’t have a screenshot because it’s really, really nice.

What I do have are the first seasonal greeting card and 13 memories for each of the sims in my new game. I’m really not sure what would be the best way to present them, and I don’t want this to become a The Sims 3 blog! But I feel like there’s gotta be a reason I’ve become so obsessed with this stuff, something I’m trying to express through it. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just trying to avoid reality as much as possible. All I know is I’ve pulled an all-nighter and I feel like if I go to bed without writing this, when I wake I’m going to get all caught up in what other people want me to do and never get around to posting it. It has to happen now.

Here’s a thumbnail grid with the images in as close to chronological order as I could get them.

One thing I’ve noticed so far is that Angelo seems to be happier than Maria for two reasons: 1. He starts out doing something he loves (not something he hopes will lead to something he finds fulfilling). 2. He focuses on his area of success (receiving 6 credits toward his degree) instead of feeling disappointed about something he didn’t get (a scholarship). Maybe there’s something I can learn from him.

(Barely) Holding It Together

I never got around to visiting Mom in the hospital. On Wednesday I thought I’d go after taking my rats to the vet (by the time I got up the resolve it was almost time for their appointment) – but when I got home I was too exhausted by the whole process. Someone flipped a switch: while I was at the vet I was quite cheerful, but as soon as I walked out my face fell and I was tired and grumpy again.

Yesterday I seriously had a hangover from playing The Sims 3. My witch turned my inventor into a werewolf (using a potion an elixir); turns out werewolves are much better at finding rare gems than, well, anything else in the game. On her first night as a werewolf, the inventor easily found the gem I’d been searching for in multiple versions of this game – countless hours wasted (noisily) digging holes, exploring underground, and nearly getting eaten by zombie bears in the catacombs. The game said it was “an okay hunt” for my sim; to me it was the best thing that could have possibly happened ever in the whole world!

Yeah, my obsession is that bad.

Anyways, I couldn’t stop there. I got and turned in all the other materials she needed in order to acquire the core to her ultimate invention! And then she made the ultimate invention! Mwahahaha!!! It was the most satisfying The Sims 3 playing experience I’ve had since I started with this whole messy business.

I finally decided to save and give my computer a rest at 3-something in the morning. I dragged myself to bed; Dog woke me at 7am. I fed him and let him out and then went back to sleep until 2pm. Well, crap. There was pretty much just enough time for me to take care of pets, feed myself, prepare for class, and get to class – early! I was early for class! I couldn’t believe it! It was fantastic! And class itself was pretty awesome. The last meeting of that class; next week is the final. I’m going to miss it. 😦

I’d intended to visit Mom after class but once again, I was too exhausted. Completely emotionally drained. I thought eating something would help, but no. I needed to talk to Fox and Banji, to take care of pets, to be amused by pets, to relax. I still haven’t even started on my paper, but I think I know what to write about and the instructor gave me a couple extra days before the penalty for lateness starts kicking in. I fell asleep on the couch, then felt inspired to try writing down a melody that was frolicking around in my head, then couldn’t get back to sleep when I moved to my bed.

Dog woke me up at 8:30 this morning. Enter zombie, stage right.

Mom seems to be taking this whole thing very well. She called me this morning (I didn’t answer because I didn’t realize it was her!) and left a message reminding me that she’s moving to the rehabilitation center this afternoon and asking me to bring her stuff there “whenever is convenient; after dinner is okay.” Great, now I know what time she wants me to visit; I don’t have to angst over whether the time I think is okay will be good for her! She didn’t complain about me never coming to see her in the hospital. Maybe it didn’t really bother her or maybe she didn’t want to stress me out any more or maybe she just didn’t want to bring it up over the phone. Whatever the case may be, I appreciate it. It allows me to be a bit less horrible to myself regarding this whole mess.

My apartment is a mess. Dirty clothes and dishes everywhere; I don’t want to think about how dusty it must be. I was unable to brave the dreaded hospital to bring Mom the stuff she’d requested (and, you know, offer some emotional support during her initial recovery). I’ve been neglecting my schoolwork.

But I’m not starving and neither are my pets. They get some love and attention every day. I even cleaned the rat cage yesterday. The house hasn’t burned down. I’ve been keeping appointments and I went to class last night. When things as basic as going to sleep and waking up again are a serious struggle, I’m willing call the other stuff I’ve been managing to do a success.

Detachment

Last night I read the first chapter about how to take care of oneself in Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. It’s about the hardest thing for codependents to do: detach from whatever we’re obsessed with.

This doesn’t mean we have to go through life not caring about anything; ideally, if we detach from a person, for example, we can still love that person – love zir even better, in fact! Detachment is about loving, caring, being involved, etc. … without going crazy. Without losing ourselves in worry and anxiety. Without trying to control things we can’t. Detachment allows us to let that person or that problem or whatever be and focus on ourselves: living our own lives, feeling our own emotions, tending to our needs.

I’m in denial about my attachments.

When I was reading the chapter, I thought about why my mother needs to read this book. Fox probably should, too. I responded to the written activity at the end by venting all my anxiety about Mom being needy and clingy and controlling when I move back in with her. Somewhere there’s still the hope that if I change, she will too; my desire to change is still a desire to control her by proxy.

It’s hard to imagine how detaching from her will help the situation. In my reality, she‘s the one who’s clingy and needy and controlling and always talking about someone else and getting wrapped up – trying to get me wrapped up! – in other people’s problems. I would love to change that but this isn’t even necessarily about changing her, it’s about improving my life. I need space. I need her to detach from me. I …

I need to detach from her.

I’m the one who’s afraid to confront her about the things she does that hurt me, because I don’t want to hurt her feelings or create tension in our relationship. I’m the one who lets her go on and on about stuff, who gets wrapped up in concern and anxiety over her problems, her relationships, the people she talks about and their problems, etc. I’m the one who lets guilt control my decisions about whether to do something for her (probably “yes”). I’m the one who gets angry but lets that anger eat away at me and butt into my other relationships instead of using it to construct and enforce the boundaries I need.

Who cares whether she’s losing sleep worrying about me? I’m the one losing sleep worrying about whether she’s worrying about me! And feeling guilty. Can you get any more absurd?

Breathe, Ziya, just breathe.

But it gets even worse.

I’m attached to my laptop. I get attached to video games. I was attached to feminism for a while; it’s still very important to me but I think I can be passionate about it without getting too crazy, now.

What do I mean by this? I wake up and the first thing I reach for is my laptop. I can’t go to bed without spending some time on my laptop. I’ll be done doing whatever I needed to do and stare blankly at the screen, trying to come up with something to do because heaven forbid I should actually turn off and walk away from my laptop!

When I’m obsessed with a video game it’s all I’ll talk about. I’ll think about the story, the characters, what I want to happen next, how to make that happen, the relationships, how I want to build my character, the mechanics, the universe, etc etc etc. It occupies my thoughts, emotions, even dreams. It annoys and alienates my loved ones. It creates way too much chaos in my life. My sims’ house is perfect, right down to the strategically-placed, purely decorative stack of magazines. My real-life room is cluttered with dirty clothes, haphazardly-stacked empty boxes, random pieces of paper, and stuff I just never put away. And dust.

Don’t get me started on feminism; I’ll just say that I’ve written novels about it in comments on Facebook while my homework has gone undone. My obsession with such-in-such related topic has made me late for or even miss my women’s studies class.

I’m attached to WordPress.

I think I put a reasonable about of energy into thinking of topics for blog posts and writing the posts themselves. Maybe a bit more energy and time than is really necessary, but I hold my writing to high standards. And the results are worth it.

The attachment comes in when I spend inordinate amounts of time refreshing my stats page to see if I’ve gotten any more visitors and views, or staring at the map of diverse countries visitors are from (by the way, I think it’s awesome how many of you are from Australia). When I check to see if I have spam comments because I can’t believe no one has commented on my blog in the past 5 minutes and I’m hoping maybe the filter picked up a legit comment by mistake. When I delete a perfectly good draft because it’s bothering me that I have an unfinished post or I feel anxiety about its content. When I can’t go to bed because I’m waiting for a reply to a comment I posted, or to see if my comment “awaiting moderation” has been approved. When I’m too tired to think – much less write – but instead of going to sleep I stare at my blog worrying that I’ll lose readers if I go more than 24 hours without posting something.

It comes down to anxiety and control. I want people to see me and to like what they see (“like” as in the cognitive/emotional response, not necessarily clicking “like” on the post). I worry that they won’t. But all worrying does is interfere with my ability to live my life (and have something meaningful to post about, ironically). I can be a good blogger – a better blogger, even – and Let. It. Be.

This is going to take a lot of work.