When Pandemic Seeps Into Real Life…

Pandemic
You know you’ve been playing too much Pandemic when you have this conversation:
R: Did you check mail today?
Me: Oh, no, I really only had time for tidying up and making dinner today, so I totally forgot. I can do it tomorrow on my way to work though.
R: Well, I have to take out the trash tonight, which is right next to the mailboxes, so I’ll just grab it while I’m there.
Me: Wait! You won’t have enough actions.
R: Yeah, I will. It’s one to travel there, two to deposit the trash, three to grab mail, and four to travel back home.
Me: (shakes head): That region is contaminated, so it’ll take you an extra action to pick up the mail. So you’ll be able to travel there, but not get back. So unless you want to sleep outside tonight, I’ll just get mail on my first turn tomorrow.
R: Hmmm, well, normally I’d say it’s worth it, since my special power is “Sleep Anywhere”, but that zone has already been hit with the virus pretty bad, and I really don’t want to be scarred tomorrow morning…
Me: Oh, hang on! We have a helicopter. We’ll just use that to get you home safely. *High Fives*
In other news…
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2016 Resolutions

Last year, I talked about how I don’t like resolutions because, if you want to do something, why wait until January 1st to set a goal? In fact, my husband and I already set ourselves monthly goals. Sometimes it’s good to evaluate big picture stuff, though, and the start of a new year works just fine.

 

So, just to recap, these were my 2015 Resolutions:

 

1. Contribute $20/month to a cause I believe in (see previous post for my update on that)

 

2. Be more informed about local politics.

Result: I now give our monthly local community paper a thorough reading whenever it comes in the mail. I now know that our governor’s name is Greg Abbott. A few months ago when I saw picketing signs for “Say No to the PUD”, I knew they wanted to stop housing developments being built in Austin.

 

AustinPaper

Also, I’ve been listening to NPR during my commute. This definitely has made me more knowledgeable because it helped me win Scattergories with “Netanyahu” (president of Israel) as a World Leader whose name starts with N. Bam!

3. Read through Auto Repair for Dummies. Auto

Result: Ermmm, I kinda read through the book, but haven’t finished it yet. It has helped me diagnose several of my car problems this year. They were things I couldn’t fix on my own, but I think the mechanics respected me more because I knew what I was talking about.

2016 Resolutions

1. Experience Austin
In general, we’re pretty happy with our lives, but we discussed how we don’t feel like we’re taking full advantage of living in such a lively city. There’s so much to do here and we mostly stick to our favorite local hangout, Emerald Tavern and Games. So this year, we’re going to make an effort to visit a new location once a month. This can include restaurants, parks, or museums, but probably not friends’ houses.
And our first destination will be…
Zilker
2. Maintain friendships 
You know how it is after you graduate. If your out-of-town friends aren’t actively posting on facebook, they basically don’t exist in your life anymore. I made lots of deep friendships in high school and college that I’ve let drift indefinitely because keeping in touch is hard. Well, this year, I’m going to stop feeling guilty about it and set up a skype date with one friend every month…ummm, since it’s January 24th already, I might want to figure out who that first person should be…eek!

 

Headshot

Who will it be????

 

Following Up on My 2015 New Years Resolution ($20/Month to Causes I Care About)

Last year, I made a resolution to contribute $20 a month to a cause I cared about. Since I run a webzine that is fueled by donations, it only seemed right that I became the type of person who helps support things (people, artists, websites, services) that I care about.

Most of the time it felt AMAZING to send financial support to these places because I really felt proud to play a part in keeping them up and running. Putting $20 in a tip jar made me feel like I was some rich mogul throwing gold coins in the air. However, sometimes, I felt really depressed that I only had $20 to give. This mostly struck when I was contributing to my personal friends. $20 just seemed so paltry when I looked at how much they really needed to meet their goals. I kept telling myself, “Something is better than nothing”, but I kept wishing I could do more.

January: Beehives in Austin Schools Kickstarter

  • I’m a bit of a honey connoisseur (I actually have a honey log where I write down notes about all the different types I’ve tried) and my interest in honey has lead me to read a lot about colony collapse disorder. Increasing urban beekeeping is one way to stave off the damage CCD is causing.

February: International Elephant Foundation

  • One of my husband’s favorite ways to cheer me up is to send me gifs of baby elephants because they’re always falling down in super cute ways. So I decided to contribute to preserving real elephants in Africa.

 

March: Subbable: Crash Course

  • It’s one of the best educational Youtube shows out there right now, with channel topics ranging from economics to science.

April: Darths and Droids creator: https://www.patreon.com/dmmaus?ty=c

  • I’ve been reading Darths and Droids, a webcomic that uses screenshots of Star Wars and retells the story as if it were a DnD campaign. It is extremely well written and hilarious. It deserves some type of award for its brilliance, so the least I could do is find the Patreon page of one of its creators and contribute to it.

May: Wikipedia

  • I use Wikipedia a ton, and usually ignore their annual pledge drive because it seems impossible that such a big website could ever need financial assistance, but the truth is that I shouldn’t take any free service for granted, not even wikipedia.

June: Tom and Jan’s Medical Fund

  • Reason – A friend of mine (and previous coworker in California) broke his leg and was struggling to pay medical bills, so they asked their friends for help.

July: Valerie and Aaron’s medical fund

  • Another friend of mine injured his knee and was struggling to pay medical bills, so they started a fund for their friends to help out.

August: Write Jobs

  • I’ve gotten several great writing gigs through the postings on Write Jobs, so it only seemed fair to give something back to them by donating. Extra bonus = I realized they offer graphic design services in exchange for donations, so this year I hired them to do some work for Timeless Tales.

September: Joy and Ryan’s Australian Missionary Fund

  • Two of my friends are trying to move to Australia for missionary work, which of course is very expensive, so they’ve been fundraising this year.

October: Emerald Tavern Tip Jar

  • Gave an extra big Thank You to the hard working staff at our favorite hangout location.

November: Westmont College

  • Whenever my alma mater calls, I always try to respond, even if it’s only with a little bit of financial assistance. I always specify that the money must go to the arts, not the sports program.

December: Shut up and Sit Down

  • These British guys review board games. Unlike most board game reviews, which are overly long, poorly edited, and boringly straightforward, SUaSD goes the extra mile to ensure each of their videos is funny and informative.

If You Took the Zombies Out of “Dead of Winter”

Boring Background: I’m a board gamer and been thinking recently about how some games, especially co-op ones, remind me of real life. After all, isn’t daily life all about maximizing your resources and trying to get everything done before time runs out? So this lead me to:

If You Took the Zombies Out of “Dead of Winter”:

Dead of Winter

1. New theme = College Kids Sharing a House For a Year.

2. All the stuff about needing enough food every week stays the same. Most of the locations won’t change (in real life, you still need to go to the grocery store, gas station, library, etc.)–instead of weapons, you have textbooks.

3. You still have massive hoards outside your door. They’re just now called Visitors instead of zombies. They’re all at your house to party. Luckily, textbooks scare them away!

4. Instead of wounds and frostbite, you take hits to your energy and sanity. “Medicine” is now Coffee!

5. Instead of Biting a character….hmmm…maybe the guests traumatize the character so bad that the person “moves away”?

6. Instead of helpless survivors, you have babies (silly college kids should’ve used protection) and lazy friends/relatives who come to live with you.

7. Taking out the trash is still vitally important.

What’d I miss?

Bottom line: I suppose this little thought experiment just goes to show how much of an introvert I am😉. I’m also pretty sure, this non-zombie Dead of Winter would basically be a board game version of The Sims.

Technically “Resolutions”…I guess

This was going to be a facebook status and then it got long, so I figured I’d just stick it on my blog.

As many of you know, R and I have a monthly meeting that we like to call “High Council”. It’s a time for us to check-in with each other about life. We cover finances, our relationship, chores, socializing, etc. The new year brought tons of new stuff to discuss, like whether to renew our lease and how to use our vacation time, so we kicked off 2015 with an “Annual Grand Summit”, as we’ve named it.

As a rule, I don’t make New Years Resolutions. If I have a goal, I don’t like waiting for January 1 to set it, and I don’t like have a deadline so far away. However, I did set some big pictures year-long goals for myself, which are basically the same thing as Resolutions…So here they are:

1. Become un-ignorant about local politics so I can have an educated opinion in the next election (anyone have any resources to help me?)

2. Become un-ignorant about my car by reading “Car Repair for Dummies” and practicing its teachings.

3. Donate $20/month to charity/nonprofit/artist. If I’m going to run a magazine that relies on donations, it only seems right to support other endeavors like mine.

4. Save for a downpayment on a condo. I really like renting our apartment and have no real desire to buy a house. It would just be too much money for more room than we need. However, I am aware that property is a wise investment, especially in Austin because the market value is almost guaranteed to increase in this city. If we wait, housing may become unaffordable. So we’re going to give it a shot. We’ll see.

5. Convince husband that we should get a kitty…possibly the most unrealistic of my goals.

The PR of Happiness (or “Disneyland Nightmares”)

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Part 1: In the months before my wedding, I had nightmares about visiting Disneyland. Since Disney was our honeymoon destination, it was something thought about constantly during my waking hours. In my dreams, I would always arrive late or forget my ticket and the whole day would be ruined.

I soon realized that my dreams had broader implications. On a deeper level, I was worried that all my marriage plans, not just the honeymoon, wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I was making a lifelong commitment and it didn’t matter how confident I was that I’d picked the right person, there was no guarantee my plans for happiness would pan out. Would I arrive at my “happy ever after” only to realize I’d forgotten my ticket? 

Luckily, our Disneyland trip was awesome and so was our marriage. And then a year later, the Disney dreams came back, but different this time.ticket_to_happiness

Part 2: Lately, I’ve started dreaming that I’m introducing Disneyland to my parents for the first time. They’ve never been big fans of Disneyland, but I’m convinced I can show it to them in a thoughtful way that will make them love it as much as I do. If I just keep a relaxed pace, then they won’t get tired out…except that something always goes wrong.

The broader meaning here? Well, now that I’ve gotten my “happy ever after”, I’ve been struggling to share it with my friends/family. Since we moved to Texas, the only way to stay in touch with them is through facebook and phone calls. I worry that constant “I’m so happy” posting on facebook will become annoying, or worse, not believed. When I tell my mom anecdotes from my life, I’m worried she’ll think I’m censoring out the bad stories.

Because everyone knows that marriages aren’t actually happy, right? All that stuff about marriage leading to happiness is a hollywood myth and couples who look happy are just good at hiding their misery. Anyone who buys into “happy ever after” is delusional, so I feel like a fake whenever I tell people the truth: R and I get along amazingly. Or I feel like I’m rubbing my happiness in their faces. So I try to tone it down–limit my mushy gushy posts, balance them out with tales of little frustrations we’ve encountered because it sounds more grounded. 

Now, please don’t comment with “Don’t worry what other people think” because that’s not my point. I’m just trying to be both transparent and sensitive to my audience. Sometimes it’s just more complicated than others. 

Part 3: So what I’m trying to say is, “I swear I’m not lying about being happy.” And if you’re a close friend or family member reading this, I can promise that I wouldn’t try to hide it from you if my relationship with R did sour. That doesn’t mean I’ll complain about it on facebook because that wouldn’t be fair to R, but I won’t stuff my troubles under the bed…errr, in the closet…err…under the rug! Hopefully rugs don’t have any innuendo in them…

As a counterpoint to this post, here is a breathtaking article thread about relationship envy and how we publicly present our relationships. I have re-read about 6 times in the past year because it’s so relevant. Essentially the bottom line is “don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outside.” But it goes even deeper than that. Check it out: http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/04/relationship-comparisons-online/ and then the writer’s followup later: http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/04/everyday-kindness/ 

Keeping-Up-With-21

Timeless Tales Issue #2 (Pandora’s Box) is LIVE!

This isn’t hot off the presses news anymore, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to announce it. Since this is my personal blog, I want to write something more than a simple promo for our latest issue, but honestly, I’m a bit burned out. I’ve been doing full time data entry this month, which has meant I’ve thrown all my evenings and weekends into the magazine so I could publish in time. I always underestimate the headache of formatting the stories–when will someone make it possible to use “Tab” for indentations in online text fields? For some reason, when I copy/paste from Microsoft Word, the indents always get lost. Some sites include an indent button (thank you WordPress), but not all. Having to add the space manually every paragraph is such a pain. And sometimes I wonder if I should scrap having author bios because while I want to promote my writers, it takes forever to manually add links and check them all.

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For this issue, I put more effort into a social media blitz the week before publishing, which meant designing a bunch of graphic promos. I must say, I’m absurdly proud of my seven facebook teaser pics, which I whipped together in 1-2 evenings. I’m trying to brand T.T. as modern and urban despite our whimsical theme, so I try to stay away from the typical “Ye Olde” and glitter visuals. I prefer either an infographic style or a rough/gritty style. It seems to have worked because the average views on my Facebook posts tripled that week! Even though TT has over 650 likes, my Facebook posts have typically only gotten 20-30 views, which is disappointingly low. Since my seven teaser graphics, I’ve consistently gotten 80-120 views on each. That gives me hope for reaching new readers.

 

My favorite of the facebook promos I created.

My favorite of the facebook promos I created.

I’m not quite ready to jump back into things yet, but in order to publish Issue #3 by late October, I’ll need to open submissions in early July, so looks like my break will be short lived. I am excited to see what writers do with The Twelve Dancing Princesses. It seems like a tricky fairy tale to retell.

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