Archive for the ‘ Sentinels of the Multiverse ’ Category

2016: Good Riddance

So here we are: December 31, 2016.

It’s not unique nor surprising for me to say that 2016 was a terrible year — the deaths of people my generation idolized, American politics doing a belly-flop straight into a dumpster fire, a cavalcade of wars and horrors and accidents great and small — but I was fairly lucky with 2016 on a personal level.

As I go into the details, CN: anxiety, violence, sexual assault, Tr*mp.

Looking at my Facebook memories, I went into 2016 full of hope and optimism, and ignoring truly horrific world events, that was mostly rewarded; but where it wasn’t, man was it a kick in the teeth. A long-time friend turned out to be a multiple-offense abuser and sexual assailant, and I learned when that came out that several long-term friends had covered up how bad his behavior actually was. When the local gaming community saw a direct action to excise another sexual predator from its midst, a different long-time friend caped for the perpetrator. Two different relatives-in-law turned out to be awful people with awful politics. At least one friend lost a beloved pet; another lost a beloved relative; yet more friends got evicted. We totaled our car right before Christmas Day (everyone is fine; the car took all the abuse).

But the good parts were superb. I celebrated two years of marriage with S., and our relationship is in a fantastic place, even better than where it was in 2015. My health was excellent, to the point where my doctor forgot I was diabetic until I reminded him. I started reviewing comics for The Ace of Geeks, a dream gig if there ever was one. I joined a monthly actual play podcast of one of my favorite indie RPGs (World Wide Wrestling; here’s the website, for those interested). I made new friends who are supportive and kind and interesting, both online and in meatspace, and I maintained and improved several other relationships that I am grateful to have. One of my best friends got engaged. I found joy in a little game called Pokemon Go. I got to see the Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time, and was there for their first ever Stanley Cup Finals win, 3-2 in overtime. I wrote two short stories I was extremely proud of. I had “The One About Jacob” accepted for publication. And I finished writing The Imaginary Corpse, the novel I am most proud of yet in my career, and one I am elated to be shopping around later this year after I’ve finished post-beta revisions. I figured out how to walk the walk on social justice issues, and learned it is both easier and harder than I gave it credit for. I got a much better handle on my anxiety, though post-election it’s been pretty rough.  I learned how to be more authentically myself — even when I am anxious or sad or angry, I am able to accept that it’s OK to feel those things most of the time, and I’ve stopped being ashamed and embarrassed of my likes and dislikes — again, most of the time.

I am stumbling to the finish line, bloodied and exhausted, and I anticipate a marathon of horrors coming out of the new White House. But I also anticipate my community being there for each other, and I know we will celebrate together in victory and comfort each other in defeat. I know there will be good art, and good love, and fun times, and people building toward their dreams. We may take a few body-blows this year, but we’ll try to protect each other from the knockout punch.

I’m off to go clean up and get ready to see friends this evening, but before I go, I want to say: thank you. Thank you for reading this blog, and the Pull List, and my fiction. I don’t know exactly how many of you there are, and I don’t need to, but knowing that these words are not just falling into the void and vanishing means a lot.

And now, I’m off to vacuum, and then play Sentinels of the Multiverse in my penguin kigurumi.

Yeah. That feels like the right way to end it.

Happy New Year, everybody.
Photo on 12-31-16 at 11.17 AM #2

On Convolution 2016

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I mentioned this on Twitter, but now I’m making it official: I am once again a guest at Con-Volution! I’m very pleased to be joining the convention again. My panel schedule is as follows:

Friday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm: Classic Scary Stories: Shelley, Poe, and Others

Looking back on some of the classics of literary monster-makers and scary storytellers

Saturday, 12:0opm – 1:30pm: BOF: Marvel Universe

There’s SO much to love about the Marvel Universe, both in Comics, and in Cinematics — so come join other fans to chat about what you think has been done well, could have been done differently — and even better — what’s next! (I’ll be moderating this birds of a feather meetup; I’ll be the one in the Avengers t-shirt. You know, the one.)

Saturday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm: Building a Better Monster: The Nuts and Bolts of Monster Physiology

It may seem like the more tentacles and claws, the scarier the monster, but when it comes to writing a monster worth its scales, sometimes less is more. Or is it? We’ll discuss!

Sunday, 12:00pm – 1:30pm: How Far is Too Far? Introducing Change to Established Characters

Just three words: Captain. America. Hydra. When does an evolving, long-time character get driven too far off its original basis, and is that a good thing, or ultimately bad, no matter what?

Sunday, 2:00pm – 3:30pm: We Love the Scare

Discussing the need for horror in pop culture, modern media, and fiction. Why it works for us, and why we need to keep it working.

**********

In and around all that, I’ll be attending some of the other programming (I’m not only a panelist at Con-Volution, I’m also a member!), and I’ll be around and available to chat as much as anxiety allows. I’ll probably also camp out in the gaming room for some Sentinels of the Multiverse at some juncture, though I’m going to have to schedule that on the fly. If you’re looking to see me, I’m going to be most available on Saturday; I am commuting to and from the con this year, so it’s very likely that on Friday and Sunday I will be leaving soon after my panels, probably after having dinner with friends and performing some of the (pleasant) duties that come with being a convention guest.

Also, my now-usual disclaimer: I suffer from society anxiety. I’m medicated for it, but it does mean that sometimes, talking to people is very difficult for me, and it is likely to be even harder after a day of public speaking and answering questions. I won’t blow anyone off, and I encourage people to talk to me, but if I need to make a hasty exit, I am not being trite when I say it’s me, not you.

I hope to see you there!

On 2015

I am 4.5 hours away from beginning the celebration that will put 2015 firmly in my rear view mirror, and therefore, it is time to reflect on the year.

“Mixed bag” defines most years in a human life, but in many ways this year has been one of extremes in that regard. I’ve had some of my lowest lows this year, but also some of my highest highs, and the latter often came as a result of the former.

Low point: Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a manageable disease, but still a disease, and a chronic one there is currently no way to cure, only to avoid being hurt by (and that partially with a little luck); having my wife, the most important person in my life, receive the same diagnosis a month before I did. Realizing both diagnoses only came because she went in to have something unrelated checked up on, and that if we hadn’t checked we would have kept eating in a way that was ruinous to our health and potentially deadly long-term. Dealing with the tide of internal and external fat-shaming, diet-shaming, and general feeling of screwing up that comes with a type 2 diagnosis, along with the feeling that somehow this was life laughing at me after I decided to take charge of my mental and physical health this year.

High point: Going in for our first quarterly check-ups on the disease only to discover we have them totally under control with diet and exercise, we have praiseworthy amounts of willpower and discipline, and barring a curveball we should be able to avoid complications for our entire lifetimes. People told us we were an inspiration, and we learned that we are capable of a level of courage, self-discipline, and mutual support that will serve us well in every aspect of our very long, very healthy lives.

Low point: After resolving to submit more stories and novels, batting a perfect .000 for submission acceptances from January to December.

High point: Learning that I’m not the only one who goes through fallow periods like this; the hardship forcing me to learn things about my writing strengths and weaknesses that I might not have seen had I met with even moderate success. I’m finding my writing voice in a  way that I never have before, and I’m relaxing into the act of writing in a way I never have before. I’ve also figured out how to set reasonable goals for myself creatively and, as a result, in other aspects of my life. While I am not a financially richer writer after this year, I am a richer writer in every other sense.

Low point: My anxiety went off the rails at the beginning of the year, with multiple explosive crying jags, only further exacerbated by the discovery of the diabetes issues.

High point: The explosions were finally bad enough that I had some conversations with Sonya about our relationship that were absolutely necessary and strengthened our bond as friends, partners, lovers, and teammates — there’s no steel without fire, as I think they say. From that came the decision to grab hold of my mental health as well as physical, and from that came a relatively saner Tyler; not one free of anxiety, because that demon is never truly slain, but one who can take a step back and assess his problems and deal with them rationally in a way he never could before.

Low point: I found a safe space for social justice-minded folk like myself, and promptly said something truly terrible and followed it up with a series of anxiety-riddled mistakes and outright bad behavior that ended in me needing to leave said safe space and in fact helped catalyze a general fracturing of it, losing myself at least two friends and leaving my Internet social media experience awkward to say the least.

High point: That huge screw-up and wrongdoing on my part forced me to confront problematic aspects of myself and my relationships, forced me to accept that there are consequences for my actions in a way that was frankly a little abstract before (being as I am a very privileged person), and took me down the road of learning a whole lot more about how to be less problematic and how I need to comport myself in public and in private. And I did keep a few good friends out of that, who though they are wholly digital right now, are an important part of my support network going into 2015.

High point: I rediscovered my love of comics, especially superhero comics, and broadened my artistic tastes in all fields.

High point: I navigated the waters of how to relate to my friends and family, and how and when and why to identify people who are unhealthy for me and keep them at the necessary distance.

High point: I celebrated a year in a fantastic marriage with Sonya, who has helped me learn to be a better person and has helped me learn just how happy I can be. I love you, sweetie. Hail Hydra.

High point: I recognized, eyes wide open, how truly lucky I am to have the life I have, and how valued my contribution to the world really is.

High point: I made mistakes and still have friends and loved ones. Forgiveness can be so important.

High point: I learned how to be diplomatic when angry.

High point: I got to hang out with my new nephew and niece (marriage grows families in the most unexpected ways) and watch them continue to be interesting and smart and engaged.

High point: I had a tweet liked by Squirrel Girl.

High point: There are way more high points on this list than low points.

2015 kicked me in the bojangles more than once, and it did its level best to get me on the ground and bloodied; but in the end, the scars left by this year are scars I can bear with pride. I’m a better person, a better writer, a better husband, and a better Tyler all around than I was last December, and that is a treasure that will never tarnish.

Next year’s resolutions:

Keep up the writing schedule.

Attend more cons, as a guest and as an attendee.

Keep working on excising problematic language.

Take time for self-care.

Go on more dates with Sonya, and recognize that sometimes, time at home quietly reading is the best date night of all.

Play more board games, especially ones I have not played before.

That said, play more Sentinels of the Multiverse and Red Dragon Inn.

Watch more wrestling that is not produced by the McMahons.

Go to more Fathom Events.

Have a really good beer when the carb count is available.

Love Sonya.

Love my friends.

Love myself.

Now if you’ll excuse me, two friends and their wonderful son are coming over soon to hang out and play some, oh yes, Sentinels of the Multiverse. I cannot think of a better way to start saying goodbye to 2015.

I love you all. Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing.

Happy 2016,

Tyler

On Progress, 2/20/13

Aaaaah Thursday already aaaaaah

So. Writing. I am currently in the midst of writing a rough draft for an anthology I was invited to. I’m about a third of the way in, and I’m in a little playground here, guys. I know it’s both unseemly and un-American to brag too much, but I really, really like the ideas at work here, and I really like my POV character. I want to say tons more, but for now, I just need to write it. By “need to” I really mean “get to.”

Also in writing news, Done with Mirrors is a bit over two-thirds done. I’m in to sections where I’m really kind of impressed with myself, which I know is still unsightly even a paragraph later, but you guys, I have impostor syndrome problems so often that having a period where I feel good about my work is really jaw-droppingly refreshing and needed. It’s nice to not be fraught with anxiety every time I think about my writing projects; it’s also nice to not have to ask Sonya periodically if I suck at this or not. Really, I think I need to extend my thanks to The LEGO Movie.

The Lego Movie, you ask? Yes. Because this movie inspired me. Because this movie is amazing. Because this movie is about so much more than the trailer made it seem: it’s about love, and creativity, and accepting people for what they are, and accepting people are more than they think they are, and the importance of playing, and also pirates, construction workers, and Batman. Thanks to this movie, I remember that I have capabilities I don’t always tap into and that I don’t always see, and I remember that even if the thing in front of me I am doing does not feel awesome, there are things in this world to feel awesome about, and that it’s possible all I need to do is get some perspective on the theoretically not-awesome thing. I want to own this movie and a giant garage full of LEGOs specifically so I can make sure my hypothetical future children get the message this movie is putting out there, and then let them go build things. And also because, damn it, who doesn’t want to play with LEGOs?

In case you hadn’t guessed, my recommendation for this week is The LEGO Movie.

In real life news, my Wild Talents campaign continues to be fun after Issue 3. We’re slowly ramping up into a full superhero story from a procedural with superpowers, and it’s going pretty well. My players tell me they are enjoying the game, and I’m enjoying running it. It’s one of those wonderful bits of harmonic convergence that I am proud to be a part of.

In that vein, I am eagerly counting down the days until this weekend’s Board Game Night. We’ve got the usual crop of people I am very excited to see, plus two new attendees I do not see anywhere near often enough; and if that weren’t good enough, I have an excuse, nay, a mandate, to play a bunch of Sentinels of the Multiverse. I know it may seem ridiculous, but I find time with that game refreshing and recharging in ways that just simply aren’t there with other games. Games with friends in general is a meditation, but Sentinels is my midnight mass; and that’s embarrassing and mortifying to say, but it’s also true, and I’m going to keep saying it until I stop feeling bad about it.

For now, I need to get off the Internet and start doing work again. I hope you all have as wonderful and relaxing and fun a weekend as I am planning. Be well!

On Progress 2/13/14

Here I am!

This week has been…neutral, I guess? It’s not that it’s been bad balanced out by good, so much as it has just kind of been there. The only high points to discuss are writing- and wedding-related…which are great high points, so let’s discuss them.

The writing-related high point was me hitting stride with some Done with Mirrors edits. I found a place for a scene that felt vital, but was troubling me with where I’d put it due to a massive pacing problem; and in the course of finding that place, I found a better way to handle a bit of rising action that kicks off the climax and denouement. So basically, it was the platonic ideal of edits, and I was really glad to be there for it. I’m also chugging along with ideas for my new anthology piece, which I hope to begin some time next week. I’m planning to take a night of writing on Sunday to sit there at my desk and brainstorm and try to get an idea ready by no later than Wednesday.

Speaking of deadlines – I need to submit a story this weekend. Hold me to that, Internet.

The wedding-related high point was myself, Sonya, and our officiant, Ted, sitting down to discuss plans for the ceremony and his speech. Ted is a good friend of mine who I was lucky enough to meet through a series of convoluted circumstances, and the questions he asked us in that conversation were thoughtful, insightful, and perhaps best of all, reminded Sonya and I of why we love each other, what makes this relationship different for us, and how wonderful it is to be together. As if all of that wasn’t enough, we finished our evening by playing two rounds of Sentinels of the Multiverse, cementing Ted as precisely the right officiant for us. (We won both games.*)

On the note of games, I also started cementing our plans for International Tabletop Day this year. Last year we were at a LARP for most of it and so wound up not really doing anything except playing some games at home. This year, we’re doing a big, two-day thing (a game still in play at midnight totally counts, right?), with special food and an extra-long Game Night shindig and all kinds of stuff. We’re even trying to get my parents in on the act, which is important to me; I mean, they were the ones who bought me my first copy of Clue: Master Detective and my first Magic: the Gathering starter set, so they deserve to share in the festivities they hath wrought. But really, getting to play a board game on Tabletop Day with my parents and my fiancee would be beyond wonderful for me – I don’t have so much stock in a lot of traditional holidays, so having a day to celebrate something that really matters to me, that has real weight and breadth and resonance in my life, would be a dream come true. I just hope people feel the same.

It occurs to me as I read this that my weekly updates suffer from pacing issues and may lack some of the emotional content. I’m going to try working on that in the future; the entire point of these is to give you guys insight on my life, and I want that to be the case at all times.

So really, I guess it’s actually been a pretty good week. Home-cooked food, excellent television, a visit from Sonya’s mom, some good Olympic hockey victories, the reading of Green Lantern and No Country for Old Men…it all comes together, even when it feels like just so much noise. Things are looking up, readers. Things are definitely looking up.

With that brief summary of the week, I am going to get back to work. My recommendation this week is Vengeance, the newest expansion to Sentinels of the Multiverse. It’s super-cool fun and features a villain who brings a whole new style of game to the table. Check it out; if you love superheroes, card games, or superhero card games, you’ll pretty much hands-down fail to be disappointed.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

 

*Tachyon, the Sentinels, and the Naturalist vs. the Vengeful Five on the Mobile Defense Platform, and then Parse, K.N.Y.F.E., and the Naturalist vs. Ambuscade in Freedom Tower, for those playing along at home.

On Progress, 11/7/13

I wrote a non-progress post this weekend. That makes me feel accomplished.

Let’s turn this thing on its head and talk about writing first, readers. I am still face-deep in edits for Done with Mirrors, which is still threatening to need a new title. It’s definitely turning more into “Joel and Ethan Coen’s Hellblazer” than it was when I started; but honestly I think that’s a great elevator pitch for it and I’m glad to have found a way to explain this thing in five words. (We should be clear we’re talking Blood Simple/Miller’s Crossing/maybe a dash of Fargo Coens, not Big Lebowski Coens. Though maybe that too…) I’m realizing I’ll need to make two passes on this thing, as I’m doing some narrative caulking and grouting this round and that’s distracting from the nuts-and-bolts editing, but that’s fine with me.

I have said before that the panels I went to at Convolution 2013 made me rethink some parts of my editing process. One part of that editing process is the structure of my reader network. That is to say, that I need more structure to my reader network. Without embarrassing myself via the specifics, I did not have a well-constructed support network of readers, and I need to fix that. I can already feel that if I get the right readers, with the right roles, and figure out a way to repay them for their kind help, I will be in a much better place with my writing in terms of my confidence and the sensation that maybe I’m not an impostor. So, I’ll be starting that quest this very week.

In terms of the rest of my life, well, this week has been a bit of a dud. As I predicted, the shift to total darkness after work has played merry hell with my energy levels, and it’s been helped along by a dose of some sort of cold bug and an ankle that I mysteriously injured during the con. (I then totally helped the healing process by still walking from panel to panel without any effort to take weight off it. Totally helped. Totally.) I have managed to keep up with my word count and my day job, but basically everything else has been a total wash. I am really bad at giving myself time off to relax and heal, and it’s been apparent this week moreso than at many times in the past. I’ll need to work on this going forward.

One big highlight came the night Convolution ended. Sonya and I were unpacking a little bit and prepping ourselves for bed, and somehow, through some sort of miracle, Sonya found my iPod nano that has been missing for going on three or four months. I couldn’t find my old docking/USB cable for it, so I just bought a new one via Amazon (I love the future), got onto iTunes, and did what I’ve been wanting to do for basically the past year – subscribe to a whole mess of podcasts. Now instead of having to tether myself to my work computer, I can listen to This American Life and Welcome to Night Vale and Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks and Marek vs. Wyshynski wherever I go, and when that’s finished, there’s music, delicious music, to keep me company. With the recent ban on streaming media in my workplace (our bandwidth has been really strapped), this could not come at a better time. My brain is alive today in ways it hadn’t been on many days previous, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am that Sonya was there to counteract my inability to find anything, ever, and get me back on the straight and harmonic narrow.

We’ll end with an announcement: I’m making another (gaming-, not writing-related) appearance in December. A friend of mine manages the Wicked Grounds kink cafe and boutique in San Francisco, home of the monthly Wicked Games board-gaming event; and after introducing said friend to (wait for it) Sentinels of the Multiverse this past weekend, I have been asked to run a demo of my favorite game at the cafe. So I’ll be there on December 28th for Wicked Games, and if I can finagle it, I’ll be wearing a cape. Because it’s awesome, that’s why. Look for more info on the Wicked Grounds Facebook page and (I am told) FetLife between then and now. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you a few times, I’m sure.

And now, I must get back to work, and my beloved iPod. For this week’s recommendation, I’m going to suggest you all check out The Innkeepers, a film by Ti West. I feel like it’s the movie I wanted House of the Devil* to be – scary without being unsubtle, a fun post-post-modern ghost story with an unabashed love for it subject matter. Very little has made me this freaked out while keeping all the scenes fully lit. Check it out. But most importantly, have a great weekend.

*Yes, I am one of those people who didn’t like House of the Devil. Feel free to revoke whatever cred I might have had.

On Progress, 6/6/13

I really couldn’t leave you guys hanging.

I feel like nothing worth updating about has happened this week; or more precisely, I feel like this week has been exactly like the last one. I’ve worked on wedding planning; I’ve mutually stressed about wedding planning; I’ve written; I’ve eaten; I’ve slept. In between I find room for 40 hours of work. I might be missing some laughter and the odd pretending to be a dinosaur, but that really doesn’t sound that different from last week. And then I thought, well, what better challenge for me than to really consider what little dramas and struggles might be present in the average week?

It really wasn’t an average week, under the surface. The stress about the wedding has been all-consuming, at times; neither Sonya nor I was really prepared for the sticker shock, and we’re finding ourselves knocked off-kilter by it and wondering how on earth some of the weddings I’ve seen out in the world ever managed to happen. Finances are a sore spot for both of us (having grown up something approaching poor and neither one having had the most stable fiscal lives previous to moving in together), so having our Big Special Day slapped around by something that prosaic is really getting me annoyed, especially when I see it affecting Sonya.

On the plus side, I finished reading a nonfiction book that I was having real trouble engaging with, and moved on to the first book in Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series. It’s very good, though also very dense (not quite Melville dense, nor Chabon dense, but still meaty), and it’s got me in a pulp frame of mind that has some old ideas bubbling to the surface. I’ve also got a short story brewing, in a genre that I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into. But before I start that relaxing cocktail, I need to finish the main course…

…and finish I shall. Done with Mirrors is, if I had to guess, less than 5000 words from completion, and possibly less than 3000. I’m writing the final conflict right now; after that it’s time to doubt myself and rewrite bits of it, and then I get to write the epilogue that I am so looking forward to. It’ll be strange to say goodbye to Tom for the last time; but it’s nice to know that his story is finally, after all these years, getting the ending it deserves.

In short(ish), I’m getting a great deal of writing done, and a fair amount of reading, and it’s really got my brain feeling alive. I’ve found, as an interesting side note, that the more awake and aware and thoughtful I feel, the more games I want to play. I assume it’s that my mind is seeking out a challenge, but it could also just be that board games are what I was brought up to do when I feel an excess of energy building up. It’s just that now I get something way cooler than Monopoly.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, the Joker just showed up in this episode of Justice League, so I think I need to give that my full attention. Or as full as I can give it while taking a solo crack at Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Told you it makes me want to play board games.

On Vacations, 11/26/12

Date-stamp added because I’m not 100% sure I haven’t used that title before.

So, here I am, back in the blogging saddle. I’ve been gone eighteen days or so, which means not one, but two Progress Thursdays have been missed. Or rather, I skipped them due to being on vacation.

And what a vacation it was. Sonya and I have spent the past couple of weeks traversing a good chunk of northern and central California. I have traveled to Mendocino County, the Santa Cruz mountains, a ranch-house in Somerset, a suburban two-bedroom in Sacramento, an under-over house in San Francisco, and several hundred miles of highway. It’s not travel in the traditional sense, but it’s been eye-opening nonetheless.

Mendocino County was originally planned as a post-LARP vacation, but became a pre-LARP vacation unexpectedly thanks to some issues with reserving our campsite. We stayed with my parents, eating home-cooked meals and drinking local-brewed beers, watching Wreck-It Ralph, and playing games. It was kind of a strange visit home for me. I am usually a lot more proactive about leaving the house and absorbing Fort Bragg, and have a couple of ritual stops I make while home. This time, I was pretty sedentary, choosing to stay in the house pretty much the whole time I was there and not really conversing with anyone but family. I did wind up trying breakfast at a restaurant I had never been to before…more on that subject in a paragraph or two.

Post-LARP, there were two days of work, barely a hiccup; then it was a day off to sleep in and play Lego Batman 2 and eat pizza, with a surprise visit from two very good friends who wanted to borrow our set of Cards Against Humanity and stuck around for a little bit to chat. It was one of our few days of proper decompression, which is good, because the next day…was Thanksgiving.

This was our first year rotating which family gets us for Thanksgiving and which for Christmas, so Thanksgiving was spent well outside my comfort zone, at Sonya’s aunt’s place in Somerset. (For those who don’t know where Somerset is, I’m not sure I do, either.)  They live in a beautiful, sitcom-perfect ranch home up an unpaved road, with a grand view of the mountains outside Sacramento and approximately one million dogs. I spent the entire ride up there trying to make sure I didn’t violate any family traditions, and discovered that in reality, the “very casual” Thanksgiving I am used to with my family is not the most casual it gets. Thanksgiving dinner with Sonya’s side consists of a couple tables worth of people catching up with each other and trading loving barbs, followed by football. I watched three times as much football as I have ever seen in my entire life, and it would appear that I will be watching a lot more. It seems like I can handle that, but I still think the sport needs a few skates, some more padding, and a little quasi-legalized fighting.

Er…changing the subject really quick, we crashed that night at S.’s sister’s house, to be awoken when she had to take the kids over to their mom’s house. (Long story, also not mine to tell.) I have known people my age with children for a good solid five years, but somehow, it still always blows my mind when I see my peers with kids. Moreover, it blows my mind when I see how naturally I deal with the presence of kids; that the need to change diapers or be quiet after nine or remind people not to swear quite so much is just a part of the tapestry of life and does not really change anything else about it except for time management. And, you know, the deep emotional shifts that totally change lives.

So it was up in the morning, and off down the highway to see my folks, who were in San Francisco for the annual Thanksgiving on their end. This year it just so happened that other attendees being unable to make it on Thursday caused Thanksgiving to be pushed back to Friday, so rather than the original plan of vulturing some leftovers I wound up having a second Thanksgiving with my family, as well. It was strange, not because it wasn’t normal for us, but because it was weird seeing how normal our Thanksgiving really is. Maybe a bit more political, but really not that odd. And yet, it was uniquely ours, definitely a Hayes family experience. The dichotomy is one I still haven’t fully parsed.

And finally, back to Mountain View. A long, deep sleep, and then into Saturday and our monthly game night. Originally, the plan had been to have people bring by leftovers and share them; but instead, it wound up being my third Thanksgiving, as Sonya cooked a whole new turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, yams, Brussels sprouts, and green beans. (The battle cry was “It was all on sale!”)  Friends flooded the house, including a couple who rarely attend due to distance and scheduling. Elder Sign was played, and of course Sentinels of the Multiverse, and Cards Against Humanity, We Didn’t Playtest This At All, and Munchkin, thus bringing my vacation back to where it began: board games and beer.

If you hadn’t guessed it, the theme of this vacation was new experiences and new perspectives. I didn’t even mean to do that, really, but it makes sense; this was my first real vacation since I started having honest-to-God jobs instead of pursuing academic degrees. I entered vacation feeling exhausted and crispy, and unsure of how 10 days (with a break for work in the middle) was supposed to make me feel any better. I assumed there must be some trick involved. But how wrong I was. Vacation woke up my brain again, helped me de-kink a lot of tension I had been dealing with, restored my focus, and left me feeling altogether renewed. I am excited about writing again; I’m reading more than I had been; and my outlook on life is miles more optimistic.  The things that have to get done don’t feel like so much of a burden, and the things I get to do feel like the unique and awesome experiences they are. In short, I fully endorse this vacation thing, and recommend it become a regular trend.

The other theme of the vacation was games. As I realized over the course of the vacation, games seem to come up a lot, and the truth is, I’ve decided that’s OK. As I said a couple weeks ago on Twitter, my entire life is a celebration of stories and games. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I refuse to think that’s a bad thing. It’s not a laser-like focus; I still love interesting food, the feel of some good exercise, the way fog makes everything twinkle late at night. But there are few things that wake me up, that ripple my neurons the way games and stories do. It seems like poetry, then, that my vacation started with Wreck-It Ralph, a story about games; and ended with Elder Sign and Sentinels of the Multiverse, games that really work to tell a story.

And now, I need to get back to work, which includes work on Done with Mirrors and the couple of short stories I started cooking while I was vacating. Progress Thursday should hit at its usual time this week, and I will be back to spackling Twitter with word counts come tomorrow, the comments about this blog post notwithstanding. I hope the past couple weeks have been kind to you; and I hope you get to take your own vacation very soon.