What are these “other people” of which you speak? I need them to play games. Bring me some!

(crossposted from the ol’ Tumblr blog)

I’ve been on a major tabletop gaming kick. I suspect this is my brain’s response to my giving up video games. This is a hypothetical conversation I had with my gray matter.

Me: I am giving up video games, Brain.

Brain: Wait, what? Why? Why would you do this to us?

Me: They take up too much of my time and money, dude. I need time for writing and money for, you know, food and shelter.

Brain: I think you’re crazy. Downright nuts. But hey, if you think it’s for the best….

Me: I do.

Brain: All right, you’re the boss. Hey, you know what’s fun? Tabletop games, man. We should totally play some.

Me:…Damn you, Brain. Damn you. *gets coat and hat and leaves apartment on quest to purchase tabletop games*

Quit one habit, and another gets more intense. You have to love that. Thanks, brain.

My game collection grows, but sadly, my list of players does not. Most of my friends live a ways away — not too far, but they have busy lives, too, so I don’t see them often. My only regular players are my wife and our roommate. That’s usually enough, but I can’t expect them to play all the time.

I’ve tried playing digital versions of games to scratch the itch. Just yesterday, I played a round of Settlers of Catan. It just reminded me how much I prefer a physical game. I’ve never liked playing against other humans online. Plus, I enjoy the tactile sensation of cards and dice. And even as socially awkward as I am, I guess I prefer actual humans to interact with.

So, in the hopes of finding more chances to game, I checked out Meetup. There are groups near me, but not as near as would be convenient. I did see an actual Meetup that I could reach easily enough, but it didn’t seem to be a regular location for the group. I guess I could try to start a group of my own, but not sure how that would work out. I’d rather someone else do that sort of thing so I can just show up and play.

And then there’s the whole “wait those people are strangers no no stay away auugh” thing I have going on. I am not good with new people. I’m not that good with people I know, frankly.

So everything remains the same. I stay cooped up in my apartment with my games, playing less than I want to because I’m so socially awkward and don’t want to talk to strange folk. Maybe someday it will get better. Ha.


Giving up

Yes. I’ve had enough. I can’t do it anymore. I’m giving up…

…sugar and video games.

The title was so vague and worrisome, I had to go along with it. Sorry.

So, yeah, I’m giving up two things which have been with me for as long as I can remember. I will miss them both, but they have to go.

Why, you ask? Why give up things that I claim to enjoy so? What am I, some kind of ascetic? Do I even know what that means? Why am I asking so many questions? If I’m not going to order anything, can you ask me to step out of line, sir?

Shoot, sorry. Got into a loop there. Also, I’ll have a small fry, thanks.

French fries covered in cheese

You’re giving me a lot of attitude, burger man, and I will have my vengeance someday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So where do I begin? Eh, let’s start with games.

I’ve played games since the Atari, my friends. A joystick with one button, that’s right. That’s all we needed, you spoiled little punks, with your wireless gamepads and more buttons than you have chest hairs. Once holodecks are invented, I’ll be shouting “Back in my day, you had to stare at a screen to play with yourself.”

Wait, that sounds wrong. Pretend you didn’t read that.

This is my game story. Atari made way for Nintendo. Nintendo stayed, but took on Game Boy as a sidekick. Nintendo retired, leaving me in the capable hands of Super Nintendo. I bid adieu to Nintendo during my rebellious phase, hanging out with Playstation and Playstation 2 and getting into all sorts of shenanigans. I had a brief fling with Gamecube, then Wii. Throughout all this, I had a thing on the side with PC gaming. So yes, I’ve been doing this for some time.

I’m a video game addict.

Video Game Cartridges

My drugs of choice. (Photo credit: Josh Roulston)

Not even kidding right there. No hyperbole, no joke. I have a psychological addiction to video games. This is something I’ve come to realize in the last few years. In this time, I’ve weaned myself off of consoles entirely (dumping all your games and consoles at Gamestop is good for that). True, I bought the Nintendo DS in the interim, and also developed a stronger PC gaming habit to fill the void, but at least I was away from the consoles!

Do you know how I realized I have an addiction? When I was playing games and not having fun, yet kept playing anyway because that’s what I always did.

Let me be clear: while I do believe I have a real addiction, I also know it is not as strong as it could be. I don’t go without eating or grooming. I don’t call into work sick just to play games. I go to bed at a respectable hour and sleep for a decent amount of time (when work permits). The worst effect my addiction has is making me neglectful of social interaction. My wife has been very patient with me in this regard. I know she’s suffered. Sorry, my princess.

So knowing I have an addiction, and knowing how it affects my life, is a big reason for choosing to give it all up. Saving money is part of it, too. Reclaiming time is another huge benefit, especially with me rekindling my creativity like I have.

Now, sugar. Sugar is harder. Giving up gaming seems easier, but probably because I’ve given in and fed the addiction from time to time. Since I vowed to give up sugar, though, I’ve only indulged once, and that was a special weekend breakfast treat in the form of a cinnamon bun. Besides that, not even fruit has passed my lips on a quest into my tummy. I’ve declared yogurt my one exception because it is an important source of protein, and I always get the kind with the least sugar.

And trust me, I’ve been tempted. There have been no less than two cakes at work since the sugar fast began (a goodbye, then two weddings celebrated at the same time). I’ve seen boxes of donuts come and go, and I have to shut the boxes just so I can’t smell them. Candy. Cookies. FRUIT PIZZA, YOU GUYS. This is stuff I would have gorged upon not that long ago, and it seems like it comes at me in never-ending waves.

But give it up I must because my teeth are rotten little assholes.

Well, okay, obviously I can’t blame the teeth. They’re just sitting in my mouth, doing their job, grinding up food for further nutrient extraction. It’s not their fault I constantly supplied them with harmful materials and didn’t give them hazmat suits. I’m a terrible boss, I guess.

Pretty much every tooth is going bad. I’ve already had thousands of dollars in dental work, and I only foresee thousands more before I’m done. If I’m ever done. It feels Sisyphean.

So the big reason I’m giving up sugar is because I’d rather not give up my teeth. They’re useful little buggers. Saving myself from more expensive dental procedures is also something I hope for.

Damn, if you stuck with me through that long post, I congratulate you on your perseverance. Your reward is a cat with a hat.

Blurry but funny

Lady Snugglefoot says “you’re a good reader.” (Photo credit: caseymultimedia)

Attack of the Day Job!

*flops bonelessly onto the bed, preferring sleep to writing a post, but damn it, he has an obligation to his legions*

I have a very full week at my job. My hours can be pretty funky, too, so this doesn’t leave me a lot of free time, at least not evenly distributed across the week. Two hours here, ten hours there, and obviously not all of that is used for writing. Not seeing anything close to a good stretch of time until Thursday afternoon.

And no, I’m not writing this post to complain about my schedule. I’m being thoughtful here, you cretins. *sips his tea and adjusts his monocle*

Time is one of my obsessions. I covet it. Some might say I am stingy about sharing it, and they would be right. Now that I am being creative again, I monitor my time spent even more closely (though I’m slipping a bit by playing more games than I should).

I go to Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and I wonder how other authors and creative types seem to have so much time to devote to them. If I dutifully read every tweet, status, and post, and also tried to interact with them in some meaningful way with comments and whatnot, I’d have no time for anything else. I want to have as much time as they do! And I’ll do anything to get it. I mean, within reason.

*hides his laser revolver and his notebook, which is labeled “Time Robbing Plans”, under the bed before any of you notice*

Then it occurred to me: wait a minute, self, these people can be creative and social because it is their full-time jobs to do so! They don’t get up before the sun (what a lazy piece of crap, getting up to shine only when it feels like it) and work a full day, sometimes before most people even think about whether to have the wrap or the burger for lunch and decide instead on the tuna salad pizza. So don’t be so hard on yourself, self, if your social networking efforts seem paltry by comparison. You’re still an okay guy! Just very busy.

Maybe if I can make a living on my writing, I can be a better networker. If I become a better networker, maybe I can make a living on my writing. *follows some footprints, not yet realizing they are going in a circle*

Anyway, that’s it. Not the most interesting post, maybe, but I don’t have the time or energy for more this time. Maybe next time I’ll come up with something ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute.

Twitter and I have a love-hate relationship

It loves me, I hate it.

Ha ha.

I hate Twitter because it is like being in a large room where everyone is talking and I can’t focus on one conversation for long. Everyone has something to say, and sometimes people at the other end of the room want to hear, so word travels between people like a more efficient game of Telephone (well, that part is pretty cool). My aversion to crowds translates to the digital world.

But I also love Twitter. It lets me yell out my random comments at the people who interest me. It’s a good networking tool. I can find lots of interesting stuff on there.

Here’s an unexpected benefit that really shouldn’t have been unexpected at all: it trains me to say more with less words. That 140-character limit can be a bitch. Here I am, trying to express myself and be less taciturn, and Twitter says, “Hey now, you think letters grow on trees, son? Give some of those back right now before I get my sack of doorknobs.”


But it’s good in a way. I tend to be liberal with word counts. Paring down what I want to say is good practice for getting to the point in my fiction, especially with short stories when every word counts. It makes me get rid of weak words. Die, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives! And then I burn the corpses so they don’t come back.

Okay, I’m done talking about Twitter. Now go RT this so all your friends can see!

P.S. WordPress recommends tags for posts. For some reason, it’s recommending “hate speech.” What the heck is that, WordPress? Is it because I’m talking smack about Twitter? Are you friends? Do you have lunch at the cafe down the street every Thursday afternoon and talk about your cat pictures?

Awkward Hawk, issue #1: Beware the Stare of Dr. Gorgon

Okay, here’s the first in my “Awkward Hawk” series. As I have it planned, each will be a vignette based on one of my socially awkward quirks. Afterward, in case the quirk was not made obvious by the tale (And if that’s the case, what kind of writer am I?), I’ll offer a brief explanation. Let’s get to it already!

WARNING: It turned out longer than anticipated. Advance at your own risk.

Awkward Hawk

Issue #1

Beware the Stare of Dr. Gorgon”

I didn't mean to scare you.

(Picture by electricbill on Flickr)

Dr. Gorgon strolls through the garden of statues clogging Main Street. She peers into cars to see stone drivers and passengers. There’s even a dog statue lifting its leg on a tree. If that isn’t proof of her villainy, I don’t know what is. That dog has to hold it in for who knows how long.

Hurts me just to think about it. Hold on, I’m taking a bathroom break before I continue this narration…. Okay, I’m good.

Nobody can challenge me,” the bad doctor whispers with a smile, then pauses. “Oh, wait, Daring Demon would be a nuisance, being blind and everything. But he’s in New York, so it’s moot. Nobody else can challenge me!”

A pigeon, being unobservant, suicidal, or both, chooses that time to take off from a windowsill. Dr. Gorgon’s gaze swivels in its direction, and she whips off her tinted goggles. The pigeon’s eyes meet hers. Flesh becomes stone, and the pigeon statue plummets to the street, sure to smash upon impact.

That is, it would have, if Awkward Hawk didn’t come swooping down to catch it just in time. Hawk sets it down on the sidewalk. Does a pigeon count as a full life saved? he wonders. Eh, I’m going to say yes. What, is someone going to audit me? He takes out a notepad and adds a tally on the “lives saved” page. After a brief struggle with conscience, he puts a tiny asterisk next to it. Best play it safe.

Really?” Dr. Gorgon scoffs. She has replaced her goggles. Sure, she’ll take them off again when she wants to finish Hawk off, but it’s only polite to allow for banter and/or monologuing. “Awkward Hawk comes to stand against me? Was the Gilded Grasshopper busy? Don’t you have a cave to hide in?”

For your information, it’s being fumigated, and Grasshopper has a dentist appointment. But I would have come anyway!”

I’m certain.” The doctor sits on a car hood and crosses her legs.

So what’s your plan, Gorgon?” Hawk asks. “You aren’t the type for harming the innocent unless there’s profit involved. Where’s the profit here?”

I had a grand speech prepared, you know,” Dr. Gorgon says. “Embellished the affair a bit. But since it’s just you, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version. Did you attend the city council meeting about the road work they planned for next week on this street?”

I think my perfect attendance at council meetings is public record.”

Ah, good. That’s it.”

That’s – what?”

I’ve clogged the street with human statues so they can’t do it.”

But why?”

Because I live right there,” Gorgon points at an apartment building just down the street, “and I work nights, so it would keep me awake.”

Wow. Effective.”

I know, right?” Dr. Gorgon slides off the hood. “Well, it’s been a nice chat and everything, but let’s finish this.”

Good. I was hoping to get to Subway before the lunchtime rush.”

Dr. Gorgon lifts her goggles and stares at Hawk, anticipating his fate as her newest statue. It would be a good one, too, what with the wings and all. Maybe she’d sell that one to an art gallery and pretend she sculpted it. She was preoccupied trying to think of a name for the sculpture, so she didn’t notice Awkward Hawk walking towards her, not turning to stone at all. She settles on “An Angel Falls” when she finally comes to her senses and sees Hawk standing right in front of her. “You’re not stone,” she says.

No, thankfully, I am not.”

But how? My power is irresistible. I could turn an elephant to stone!”

Have you?”

It’s theoretical, but the math supports the hypothesis. How are you doing this?

I dunno.”

Wait – hey, you’re not even looking at me.”

Um, nope, I’m not.”

Have you even looked at me since we’ve been talking?”

Hawk fidgets. If he wasn’t already looking away, he would do it now in embarrassment. “Maybe not.”

That’s just rude.”

Not as rude as your stony gaze, villain!” He was already embarrassed, so he figures he can get away with that line.

Damn it, come here and look at me, coward.” The doctor grabs his face and tried to turn it so their eyes meet. Awkward Hawk struggles, as I’m sure you’ll agree is a good idea in the situation. As they struggle, he twists away rather violently and ends up clipping her with a wing. She goes down without further fight.

Awkward Hawk hasn’t noticed yet, as he is crouching in the street with his arms flung over his face. When he finally peeks out and sees the unconscious villain, he simply says, “Well, this is awkward.”

* * *

And there you have it. So what is the social quirk this is based on? If you guessed “corny one-liners,” you’d be wrong. It’s all about my aversion to eye contact. I can make eye contact, and frequently do. It just makes me uncomfortable for some reason. When I’m talking to someone, I’ll often look off to the side. I’m sure it makes me seem rude (as many of my quirks probably do), but I swear I’m just weirdly shy.

Wow. This turned out longer than I planned. I expected just a piece of a scene – maybe a bit of comic action with some dialogue. Ended up with some bona fide flash fiction over here. As fun as it was, I’m not sure future installments will be as long. I was also considering playing around with a script format (something I haven’t done before). We’ll see. I hope anyone brave enough to read the whole thing enjoyed it.

When you need to procrastinate, a blog is always there for you.

This is the metaphor for my writing today.

two single pancakes with maple syrup on a plate

If only a difficult day of writing was as fluffy and delicious as this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What? No, not the pancakes! The syrup. Sticky, slow. Not quite as sweet. Maybe a little browner?

It’s tough, is what I’m trying to say.

*wonders if he should have made the metaphor about chewing a piece of leather*

So, I am taking a small break. Fixing up the ol’ blog here. Cleaning things up, adding some new stuff like the Twitter feed and the link to my Pinterest off to the right there. I’m also hungry, and that’s no state to write in, I say. Lunch soon, and that means Netflix time with my sweetie. We’re indulging in our love of Korean drama by watching 49 Days. It’s getting good, too. I try to limit myself to only one or two episodes a day so I don’t lose too much creative time, but it can be damn hard. I’ve always loved watching movies and TV, even if I’m more selective in my less-young age.

I think I’ve procrastinated long enough. New “Awkward Hawk” post coming tomorrow afternoon. Hope to see you here!

Introducing “Awkward Hawk, the Socially Awkward Superhero!”

I don’t know you that well, reader, but I feel like we have this – this connection. I feel like I can trust you. I wouldn’t loan you money or give you a key to my house or anything – we’re not at that level yet so stop smothering me. I do feel like I can share a secret, though, and here it is.

I live a double life. At home, in the comfort of my cave, I am the mild-mannered writer/blogger/amateur mind reader you’ve come to adore, or at least tolerate. When I step out into the world and interact with what we will loosely call humans, though, I transform. I become…

Awkward Hawk, the Socially Awkward Superhero!

I will give you a moment to adjust your worldview. Good? Okay.

Yeah, I lack social grace. I was okay as a kid, but as I mature like a fine boxed wine, I increasingly embody the shy introvert archetype. It can actually be painful if I let myself dwell on it.


So painful I might need one of these to black out for a bit. It’s okay, because if it’s a metaphor for myself, it’s like drinking my own tears or blood. That’s normal, right?

This is why I’m going to write some (hopefully) humorous posts about the many quirks that make up my condition. Because sure, I may suffer, but you can have a laugh about it! It’s cheaper than therapy. Well, cheaper monetarily speaking. Probably more costly in mental scarring.

I will begin the actual series soon (Maybe later this week?). For now, enjoy a brief glimpse of the superhero that will win the hearts of the people, even while not answering their calls and letting them go to voicemail.

*   #   *

A casual observer would take the young (-ish) man as a typical guy. No, not even that. Unremarkable. Easily forgotten when not in sight. Could use a new pair of shoes.

Certainly not the kind of man with…a secret identity.

He sits in his home, lazily surfing the net – I mean, studiously doing research for his next great story. The computer screen’s glare leaves a faint green ghost on his glasses (which do not make him look like a hipster, so don’t even).

His phone buzzes and flashes red, breaking the peace. His demeanor goes from casual to business casual, and his eyes focus like a raptor’s. He punches the button to answer. “State your emergency. Yes. Yes. Okay. Rest easy. I’m on my way. Try not to provoke him until I get there. Then you can provoke him all you want.”

Tossing the phone aside, he leaps to his feet. A burst of electric blue energy envelops him, and he becomes…

Awkward Hawk, the Socially Awkward Superhero!

He unfurls the wings that now spread from his shoulders. They are unkempt, ungainly, and some say one is shorter than the other, but they are just jealous. “I’m a real fly guy!” he cries, not regretting the pun, never regretting it. Awkward Hawk launches into the air, on the way to heroic adventures…in awkwardness!

Majestically awkward

This didn’t take me five minutes to make, no sir!
…It took thirty-seven minutes and four drafts.