Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

Sailor Earth

April 22, 2017

In 1998, I was sixteen years old and I had fully embraced being a huge geek. Part of that was learning to love things that I had previously dismissed, something that drives me crazy these days. I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons but anime eluded me largely because I found it hard to connect to something in a different language. That is not to say that I do not enjoy watching things in their original language with subtitles, but when I was younger I needed anime dubbed in English to emotionally connect. One of my friends was a superfan of Dragonball Z and I made fun of him for it because it is fun to bust your friend’s chops. Then the show debuted on Cartoon Network and I fell in love with the art style and the drama of the early episodes. However, of all things shown on Cartoon Network’s Toonami, it was Sailor Moon that captivated my attention.

Sure, the animation on Sailor Moon was a little repetitive but I loved the characters and the light humor and dramatic touches resonated with me somehow. As a child of the eighties, I was exposed to the usual toxic masculinity that would have forbidden me from falling in love with a show like Sailor Moon. However, I always loved the characters on the show and I excitedly taped and watched every episode Toonami showed. I also liked the repetition of the show. Hearing phrases like “In the Name of the Moon, I will punish you!” over and over sounded badass. I loved watching the Sailor Scouts become more and more confident as they fought bigger and badder monsters each episode. The themes of friendship, teamwork, and love conquering hate were good to hear for a kid who had few but strong friendships. Those themes are even more important now.

I had a separate post on the backburner of my mind for ages now about something that is kind of specific to anime. Well, I guess it’s also used on shows like Power Rangers too. I am talking about calling out your attacks and magic spells as they are used. I have yet to come up with an explanation of why I love this trope of fiction. Maybe it is the familiar cadence of their voices accompanied by the satisfying destruction of a monster. Maybe it was the voice actors doing such a good job at showing the confidence that those attacks would solve everything. As an awkward teen, I was drawn to confidence.

I started to write what I now know is fanfiction. I loved the show but I started tweaking it on paper and in my head to have the same heart and soul but better animation. I started specializing the scouts just a little more to show off their individual strengths a bit. I think a lot of us who love fictional worlds so much find ourselves wanting to improve them not out of hate but out of pure love. Of course, a few seasons in and I became fascinated with the one male ally of the protagonists, Tuxedo Mask. As much as I liked the Tuxedo Mask imagery, I wanted him to eventually evolve a bit (he did but not in the way I expected). I wanted Darian to be granted his own symbol. The scouts (inner and outer) had the planets, Darian was basically Sailor Earth.

Out of tape and a Halloween safety light, I created a transformation charm with the Earth symbol that Tuxedo Mask might have used. I carried it around all the time but secretly in my pocket or in my backpack. I hid it at the time but it really was not unlike cosplay prop products that makers around the country work on these days. I imagined using that charm to transform to fight crime much like a lot of the heroes of shows like Sailor Moon, Power Rangers, Digimon, Megaman.EXE and Ronin Warriors. I have been thinking about it lately and I know I daydreamed of being Tuxedo Mask at the time. Not because I wanted to date Sailor Moon but because I wanted to fight alongside the Sailor Scouts while still being a guy.

Quaker School

April 20, 2017

I will not show you the picture of the killer. This is the man he killed, though.

A little while ago there was a news story where a white military veteran traveled to New York City specifically to kill a black person. He succeeded and killed an innocent man who lived a life of charity and nonviolence. Even if the man he murdered had been a horrible person, it still would not have been right. The police said that the killer was racist since he was a little boy. To my horror, it was brought to my attention that this crazy man was from Baltimore, my hometown. Further, not only was he from Baltimore but he was also a student at the school I went to for twelve years. Friends School of Baltimore is a private school just inside the city lines, situated near a lot of other private schools. The killer went to Friends six years behind me so I never knew him and he is also younger than my brothers who also briefly went to Friends.

I spent twelve years here and it had such an impact on my life.

The news that this man went to the same school as me is baffling. You see, Friends School is very well-known in this area for being a good school with good values. While Bill Clinton was president, he and Hillary Clinton sent their daughter Chelsea to a Friends School nearer Washington DC which was very similar. Friends is a Quaker school which is nothing to sneeze at because Quaker is more than a religion in my eyes. Like Buddhism, Quakerism is a way of looking at and dealing with the world and the inner self. Quakers are by and large non-violent, anti-war, and seek simplicity in all things. We worked to be humble but also to use your gifts to leave the world a little better than you found it.


Our school song.

More than that, we learned how to identify with other people. I may have lived through a slightly sheltered childhood but I learned how to listen to all sides and all groups in a situation. I was also exposed to diversity. I met people from all sorts of backgrounds. There were families from so many varied ethnicities and fellow students of a whole rainbow of skin colors. We were taught about the civil rights movement, we talked about the LA riots, and we learned about the Holocaust too. In every lesson we had, if racism was present then it was a villain in the story. Our teachers made it absolutely clear that our human journey should not only be filled with tolerance but acceptance and love as well. We were not taught to be wide-eyed, naive students but we were told to do our best to love other people.

Imagine this, filled with people and stare at it in silence. Speak if the spirit moves you.

Peace was a prized experience that Friends gave me.  Once a week we walked up as a class to what was called Meeting.  Quakers do not have an experience similar to other religious organizations.  The room is full of benches in rows but not all of them were facing the same way.  There was no central focus to the room because there were no sermons or bible lessons.  For the most part, we sat in silence.  When the spirit moved you, you could stand up and talk about something you were thinking about.  Being little kids and then awkward teenagers, very few of us ever stood up to say anything but it was nice having a peaceful half hour to just sit and think.  It made me value peace even in the midst of a chaotic day.


Embedded into the wall of one of the Baltimore meeting houses.

So, wherever this killer got this racism and hate from, he did not get it from the school I went to.  If anything, the school has gotten more even more progressive in the years since I went there.  If this man claims to have had such virulently racist thoughts since he was a kid, I wonder how he felt going to Friends where he was told repeatedly that he was on the wrong side of history.  He was in the Army, and I wonder what effect that had on his psyche.  There are so many factors that it is difficult to parse out why he did what he did.  All I know is that Friends has nothing to apologize for.

Pokemon: My Life as a Gym Leader

April 19, 2017

I came up with the idea for this post after the release of Pokemon Sun/Moon and the release of Pokemon Go. Recent readers of this blog know that I am still playing Pokemon Go. After hearing about challenges where people play through the game only using one type, much like a gym leader. Last year I invented gym leaders based on a game I wanted to write. This year, I thought about what I could have been based on my life so far and the world of Pokemon.

Pro-Wrestler
Fighting Type – Heavyweight Badge

When I was younger, I had less control of my anger. I thought about taking up something like boxing but my obsession from a pretty young age was professional wrestling. In this version of me, I would have pursued that dream and used it to focus my rage. I would have formed a bond with my starter pokemon and we would have trained together to be stars and then I would train others. My gym would be a place where trainers could challenge me but also where people could train physically along with pokemon.

Emboar – A young boy with an anger problem, I eagerly picked the fire pokemon Tepig as my starter pokemon. We learned to master our anger together.

Primeape – The mankey I caught was the embodiment of the unbridled and untactful anger that I was experiencing but we learned to calm down after a bunch of losses.

Machoke – The art of grappling was my first foray into more disciplined fighting and taught me that there was more than swinging fists or throwing fire.

Hitmonchan – The sweetest science helped further develop conditioning and accurate strikes.

Hawlucha – Of course, I was going to hunt down a Hawlucha ally after gaining respect for the faster, high-flying style of lucha libre.

Mienshao – Catching a Mienfoo sparked an increased interest in the broader spectrum of martial arts. In return, I gained an increased ability to focus my negative emotions.

 

Parks and Rec
Ground Type – Park Badge

A couple people have said that I would have been well-suited for a career in parks and recreation. Whether it is designing activities for people to do or just walking the parks. I love walking around and exploring and lately I have been haunting my local city park a lot. In this version of me, I would have embraced the outdoors more and walked around protecting people. Gym battles would be done by appointment or if the challenger found me walking out in the woods or the fields. It would add a degree of challenge to not know the battlefield beforehand.

Golem – Most people say that Geodude is shaped like a boulder but I thought that she was shaped like a friend. She was a good starter pokemon as I started to hike through the wilderness looking for Pokemon.

Sandslash – As I journey off the beaten path, I sought out a Sandslash to cut through the underbrush and through the competition.

Krokorok – I grabbed a Sandile so I could train an enforcer with dark type moves.

Rhyhorn – Rhyhorn is useful for moving fallen rocks and trees off of paths and crushing the competition.

Gliscor – My eye in the skies on those days where I am deep in the woods and he fights like a superhero in the gym.

Onix – Opponents tend to quake with fear when they see my largest pokemon. In a pinch, Onix is also big enough to provide transportation for a wilderness rescue.

 

Theater Electrician/Designer
Electric Type – Spotlight Badge

For five years, I worked as a technical director for a regional theater in New Jersey. I could not have stayed there (the theater folded shortly after I left) but I could have stayed in the business instead of moving on. I love the theater and I loved hanging lights and making them do what I wanted. I loved seeing my designs (and hearing my sound designs) in real life stage productions. In this version of me, I would have stuck with the theater and would still be haunting a theater. In between swinging a wrench and drawing lighting plots I would take on challengers. I would get permission to use the theater stage as a battleground for big showy battles.

Electabuzz – When I started with my Elekid, he was not super impressive but he was a friend. Now that he has evolved, he is another hand on the job and a true partner.

Magneton – Levitation is handy in getting tools from the ground up to where I am up on a ladder or the catwalk.

Emolga – A little friend who can scurry up and check the plugs on the lights if necessary. He can also glide from pipe to pipe to check things out.

Rotom – The best board operator is one who can literally possess the board and control it from within.

Raichu – For a kid with a thing for electric type pokemon, a pikachu is a welcome addition to the team.

Flaafy – A gentle reminder of my family’s pastoral history and a personal symbol of my family. The lamb.

 

Agent of the Law
Steel Type – Marshall Badge

When I was a teen, I wanted a badge. My uncle worked with the police but I never wanted to be a cop, I wanted a little bit more freedom. Some of these feelings have been stirred up lately by my legal studies and my brand new career as a paralegal. Law enforcement in the world of Pokemon always seemed really mixed up with the world of champion trainers. In several of the games, members of the Elite Four investigate crimes and fight terrorists. In this version of me, I would help keep the peacce and troubleshoot criminal or terrorist threats. My battlefield would also double as a headquarters for crimefighting.

Aegislash – My Aegislash is evolved all the way from Honedge which was my starter pokemon. Usually, giving a sword to a child is a bad idea but I respected the blade and gained discipline.

Skarmory – My Skarmory has the advantage of the high ground and speed for ruthless attacks to hopefully end the battle quickly or chase down criminals.

Empoleon – Empoleon’s size is a great thing to have as back up and his water moves act as a non-lethal method for resolving tricky situations while also dominating gym opponents.

Registeel – Who doesn’t like a giant robot acting as a shield when necessary?

Lucario – A great partner for practicing hand to hand combat and a great tracker.

Bronzong – A literal heavyweight for protecting myself from criminals and challenges to my badge.

 

Haunted House Owner
Ghost Type – Scare Badge

I have loved Halloween since I was a little kid. Lately, I have visited some haunted houses and watched some documentaries on how they are put together. It has gotten into my head lately that I would love to design haunted houses given the chance. In this version of me, I would own and operate an ever-changing haunted house that people could get amazing scares and thrills from. The battles would take place in a spooky, dark basement meant to unnerve my opponents. The huge basement would be below the haunted house so that people could hear periodic screams and laughter while battling. It would be so fun.

Gengar – Travelling to real haunted houses as a spooky little kid, I would have embraced a Gastly instead of a ‘normal’ pokemon for my starter.

Mismagius – How could I not want a ghost that looks like a witch and evolves into a wizard.

Trevenant – Spooky plants are a must for a haunted house and I knew this guy would make a very scary tree.

Chandelure – A well-controlled fire can scare the pants off of visitors just as much as any other ghost in the house.

Dusclops – A powerful ally and a formidable scary opponent. You want to be on the right side of this creepy pokemon.

Sableye – A creepy little guy with gem eyes. Victims can see his eyes sparkle in the dark before he scares the crap out of them.

 

Professional Writer
Water Type – Penstroke Badge

I have thought about being a professional writer and maybe that still lies somewhere in my future. For now, I love writing here for whoever reads this blog and for myself when I am not working or out playing. If I had become a professional writer, I would want to live where I could take a break and swim in nature. In this version of me, my gym would be alongside a large lake. My chosen battlefield would be on the lake using a series of rafts so my water pokemon could swim among them. I would write pages and when a challenger came, I would take a break and we could have a lot of fun on the water.

Wartortle – A traditional starter pokemon, the squirtle evolution track always made think of superheroes.

Azumarill – A water pokemon with excellent hearing, it could help listen out for fellow fishy pokemon under the waves.

Kingdra – I could imagine this horsea hanging out in a bucket next to my desk sometimes.

Ducklett – A pokemon who can fly but can also dive deep to evade enemy attacks.

Sharpedo – Sometimes a writer needs to use a scary monster to further the plot.

Kingler – The krabby evolution line is surprisingly powerful, especially when facing moves like crabhammer or guillotine.

Needles

April 17, 2017


What, you thought I would put up a picture of a needle? Nope.

I am going to approach a very difficult subject here today. My skin is crawling just thinking about it but it was a very formative set of experiences in my life and it is important to talk about. I will forgive anyone who walks away right now. Consider the title of this post a trigger warning, something I do not often do because I do not often need to do it. I will be talking about my dark history with needles today. I do not have many fears that could be considered phobias but needles are definitely one of them. I have hated and dreaded needles since I was old enough to form memories.


Any word from the warden?

When I was little, I remember when the pediatrician started to require blood work when I had my check up appointment. I was fine with stripping down and letting the doctor look me over and ask me questions. It was awkward but it was kind of relaxing in a way. Then they brought in a nurse/technician and I knew the jig was up. It was at that point that the waterworks started. I started to beg my way out of it like I was on death row and my own parents were going to pull the switch. My parents and the doctors were just doing what was best for me but all I knew is that it would hurt and the idea of it drove me crazy. I would sob, cry, and then resort to actual physical combat. I was probably a terror for those nurses and I am sure my parents felt bad too. By the time they drew blood, I was completely exhausted and an absolute wreck.


Imagine either the Kill Bill siren or the Psycho music here

It never got any better, either. When my youthful medical problems really started to gain steam, I had to go to a lot more doctors. Thankfully, this usually meant talking to a specialist and having them listen to me breathe. There was plenty of blood work too, though, and that drove me absolutely insane. Now that I had a double digit age, I could no longer really throw a fit but I was practically climbing out of my own skin as I sat waiting for those now familiar needles. I remember sitting in a Johns Hopkins facility after some breathing tests where I was assigned to a nurse to draw blood. Nervous as I was, this nurse acted like this was a routine activity while I squirmed. She stuck me with the needle once, twice, and then I got angry. She could not draw blood and I was suffering for it. Her supervisor saw it and swooped in and got it done. I laughed about it later but it was actually pretty devastating at the time.


I hated running because I was basically disabled.

A little bit later, they imposed a test that was every bit like some sort of medieval torture. I got to my local pediatrician’s office and I was in for one of the hardest physical experiences of my life. As soon as I got there, I was told that they needed to take some blood. Awesome. Thankfully I had grown up a bit and I did not fight it but it was extremely unpleasant. Then the excitement really picked up. I was told that I had to run laps around the complex of buildings, the equivalent of several blocks. For a young kid with breathing problems, this was super difficult. When the lap was over, I was told it was time to draw more blood. They stuck me with needles but I was tense and they could not draw and by then I had calmed down too much.


So tired. Send video games and pancakes.

So I was on my feet again and out the door and running laps again. I was running around with bandages on my arms. I was dead exhausted and I prayed for the running part to be over but at the same time, I knew what would happen when it was. It was probably one of the fastest heartbeats I ever had. Even now, over two decades later, I remember feeling a little like a wounded and hunted animal. When the second round of laps was over, I crumbled into a prone position and did not even put up a fight when they stuck me this time. Finally, the ordeal was over and I was sent home to recover but not before I got to have a big breakfast with my mom at the local diner. It was the usual place of bribery for a doctor’s visit.

Meyers-Briggs

April 15, 2017

The Meyers-Briggs test is a great tool for determining who you are and how you fit in. It is not the entirety of you but it helps form working model of how you tick. It also helps managers and bosses figure out how you might work in a team. I have taken the test several times over the years and I have gotten the same results over and over.

INTJ

 

I is for Introvert

I am an introvert which is not necessarily as debilitating as it is sometimes made out to be but it comes with its own set of rules and obstacles. An introvert is not a shrinking violet or a wallflower. Extroversion and introversion are mostly now classified on recharging of the batteries. Extroverts get energy from being around people and Introverts get their energy back from being alone and having time to themselves. After a long day at work or a long party, I cherish my alone time. Given the choice, I usually do not want to be around people but I do like people for the most part. The strength of an introvert is that we are more likely to go off and think about a problem. I love being given tasks and going off and completing them. I love relaxing on my couch at home while I write for this blog or create a new D&D character or just relax and watch a movie. When that is done I feel refreshed and ready to tackle social situations again.

N is for Intuitive

Intuitive people live the world of the mind. Specifically, Intuitive people see the big picture and are very good at grasping concepts and ideas as opposed to concrete facts. I love ideas and concepts sometimes for their own sake. That is partly why I enjoyed working in the theater. We worked a lot at things that we had to imagine that we could not yet see. As a stage manager, I had to mind the details but I always had to keep an eye on the big picture. I like the big picture because it is something everything needs to fit into. Facts and details are important but you must always arrive at the bottom line. Finally, intuitive people like to visualize and explain concepts in a figurative or poetic way. I am constantly, trying to find an analogy or a story to explain something just after somebody explains it to me. It helps me break down and understand what I have just been told.

 

T is for Thinking

Thinking people are level-headed and reasonable. I know this sounds like a no-brainer but everybody thinks they act this way. Of course, this is not to say that the people who are the alternative (Feeling) are total loose cannons. It is just that people who lean toward Thinking are more likely to approach decisions in an impersonal way. When I was studying the law in college recently, people would protest the law as we had to write about it. “That’s not right!” they would say and I would agree with them but it does not matter. The law is the law and it makes decisions a lot easier when I am doing paralegal work. I like making practical decisions because I more often do what is needed or what is right. Of course, we can debate until the sun goes down what ‘right’ is but by then I have already made the decision. I value justice and fairness, part of what makes me a bleeding heart liberal. Thinking people also like tearing arguments apart which is really fun and a great benefit to my work as a paralegal. While I wish sometimes I could be a little more Feeling (and when it comes to anger sometimes I am), I like to think things out more.

 

J is for Judging

Now, this last one has more potential to get me into trouble. Judge is already a word that has bad connotations in popular culture and in reality. The only people we want judging people are actual professional judges and we barely agree on that. But this Judging is not so much about criticizing or passing judgment on people. Judging people always want matters to be closed. I love finishing tasks but more than that, I like decisions to have finality. I do not like open-ended situations. When I make plans, I get bothered when the plans have to suddenly change because of somebody else. It makes me a little bit inflexible although I am learning to be a little better about it. I just really like know what I am getting into on any given day and, while I enjoy a little adventure, I want that adventure to be on my terms. It is hard for me to be social on a whim and that figures heavily into who I am. It also makes me want exactly what somebody wants from me explained instead of vague instructions. I just prefer things written in stone. Like all the others on this list, this is a strength and a weakness.

Clarinet

April 4, 2017


Ah Clarinet, you’re not safe in my hands.

When I was in grade school, there were a couple requirements each year. Starting in the fourth grade, we had to join the band. Now, my only experience with playing an instrument before then was struggling to play a recorder along with all of my classmates. The recorder might be one of the most annoying instruments in the hands of a child. I do not remember why but in the summer before fourth grade, I chose the clarinet as my instrument. The thing came in four pieces with a replaceable reed. I was not overjoyed with having to stick a piece of wood in my mouth several times a week. I am also not a performer. I was not thrilled about having to play music in front of people.


We played the old standards.

We obtained our instruments and assembled to practice. I was terrible. I was completely confused as to how the thing worked. Confusion led to frustration and a lot of stress. I really did not want to play a musical instrument but it was a requirement that we had to fulfill. It helped that all my friends had to do it too. To my parents’ credit, they tried their best to help me. They got me lessons at one point and for a time, I think they helped. I at least knew how to make sound with the thing. The fingering is where I was having trouble.


My training equipment.

I have excellent hand-eye coordination. I have been playing video games since I was a tiny boy. Through the power of Nintendo and Sega, my fingers were pretty nimble. In addition, I had taken typing lessons from a very early age. Everything I had said that my fingers should be able to move quite dexterously up and down a clarinet. And yet, I could not seem to get it right. This was also about the time that I started to slowly succumb to a respiratory problem I was born with. Of course, at the time we still thought it was asthma. Now that I think about it, the physical effort of playing increasing might have made me not want to play.


I was falling apart, musically.

As it was, I moved into the fifth grade with no interest in the clarinet. I had no ambitions of being a great musician. As far as I can remember, the lessons had stopped. It was for the best, they would have mostly been a waste of money. I am not sure when I started doing it but I began to play random notes rather than read the music. Time signatures and rhythm are easy for me but I was not into reading actual notes. I would just blow into the clarinet and unleash sound no matter if it was correct or not. It was a mistake. Our band leader was really smart. Eventually, he heard something wrong much the way I learned to do through my training in sound design.


These were a godsend until I eventually quit band altogether.

One by one he made each clarinet player play. When he got to me, it was now obvious what I had been doing. He called me out in front of everyone and I was mortified. All my friends knew that I was just dicking around and I was so embarrassed. I tried my best after that but thankfully, they finally sent me in for surgery. For the rest of the year, there was no way I could play because my lungs were still recovering. It was not a fun time but the silver lining was that I did not have to play clarinet anymore. When I returned to band, they let me into the percussion section. I loved percussion. It is where I should have been in the first place (except I lacked the necessary piano training). The capper on the story is that I learned this year that my mother did the exact same thing with the clarinet when she was growing up. I just had to laugh so hard.

Breaking And Entering

April 3, 2017

The scene of the crime is probably not even there anymore.

I have to confess to regularly picking a lock. Of course, this happened when I was in 7th grade and when I was a minor and you can’t actually prove that I did it. So, I think that covers me up fairly well. If anybody wants to press charges after I tell my story, I will be shocked and astonished. When I was twelve, I was driven to school every day. Yes, I lived the somewhat sheltered life of a private school kid who lived two miles from school. So, every morning my brothers and I were driven to school pretty early in the morning so our parents could make it to work on time. We often ate breakfast in the cafeteria because getting up early is hard. I still kind of eat breakfast on the run before work.

I learned to love breakfast sandwiches.

Since we were there so early, there was not a lot of options on where to hang out. My school did not officially start until 8:10 am on the dot. The first class was after that but before that there was homeroom. Homeroom was often uneventful, just a holding period to make sure we were all there before we were shuttled off to our classes. Of course, since I was almost always early, I was there hanging outside the door of my math teacher’s classroom waiting to go in. I was joined by other early students as well. Our teacher must have had a busy morning of her own (I think she had a kid) almost every day because she would show up just as homeroom started. This would not do.


I basically did a trick you see private detectives do in the movies.

I saw that the school had built the door wrong but it turned out right for me and my compatriots. The space between the door and the jamb was far too wide. Almost every morning, I could wiggle a pencil between the jamb and the door and disengage the lock. We would then file into the room and make it look like we had been there for a while. Several times a teacher would pass by, get a confused look on their face and lean into the room. “How did this get open?” They would ask. We would all say something about another teacher taking pity on us and unlocking the door for us. They seemed to buy it every time.


Go ahead and cuff me.

So, my confessed “crime” is probably not actually a crime. If anything, I definitely broke the rules by regularly getting into a room without adult supervision or permission. Mostly, so I could be early for school and sit and doodle, write poetry or talk with friends in comfort. Of course, for over a decade later I presented this story just as I did in the opening paragraph. It was important to me that I could tell some people that I was capable of committing some light criminal activity. I thought it added to my cool factor but I should have realized that I had no cool factor. I am a super nerd and, as I have grown up, I have learned to accept that. If I wanted to have a few actual crimes under my belt I could have gone on graffiti runs in high school with some of my friends instead of getting into community theater.


I was more likely to be here than with my peers.

I never really was a bad kid. Not that my friends were bad kids. Sure, some of them did graffiti but it was out in the woods on abandoned properties from what I gather. Plus, high schoolers are a special kind of dumb. I never did any of that but I was a writer, not a visual artist. I also was not a partier and therefore I never tried marijuana or drank in high school. I never even stayed out late without permission. It does not make me a saint. It was something I was kind of embarrassed about for a while and I know it kept me from getting invited to parties. I was even not invited to cast parties for school plays probably because people assumed the answer would be no. The life of an introvert with a big imagination, I guess.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Theme Reveal

March 20, 2017

Yes, it is once again time to get into gear for April’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is getting to be an annual tradition on this blog as this is year three taking part in the challenge. This is the only event I take part in apart from my beloved month of Halloween. Of course, I only decided to do it again this year after some soul searching. After the founder revealed some unsettling political opinions, I was not sure I wanted to do this. However, this event is bigger than any one person and anyone who reads this blog knows who I am and what I stand for. So, let’s have a good time and bang out 26 blog posts in 30 days!

This is my first year with a theme so let us cut to the chase. This year’s theme is:


This Time It’s Personal!

This month is all about me getting personal with you. I will be telling stories about my past and I will be explaining aspects of my present. The creative writing I do will relate to who I am or how I am feeling. The movies I review will have some personal connection that will reveal a little more about myself. This blog is my labor of love. When people ask me what I like to do in my free time, I talk about my joy of writing. I always want to share that with you and I will do that not only in April but all year long.

There are a few more traditions that I intend to follow but I will let those be a surprise as they come. Some of the posts will be a surprise to me as I have not finished planning the month out. In the next few weeks, I will lock things in and we will be good to go. Outside of the challenge, Media Update will continue on Thursdays as a regular feature. The first A to Z Challenge I participated helped kill the old regular Thursday feature (This Week in Steves) but I will not let that happen to Media Update. It is easily one of my favorite features on the blog.

I am looking forward to participating in this challenge again. It makes me exercise my skills a little more and helps me grow a bit as a writer. Stay patient with me. Not all the posts may resonate with you and maybe none of them will. Either way, I will soldier on. I write because I need to and if people enjoy a word of it, that’s just gravy. So, sit back and enjoy and if you have a comment or question, I will try and keep up with that during the month.

Happy New Year 2017

January 2, 2017

new-year

Welcome to 2017. I have spent New Year’s Eve in a lot of different ways over the years. When I was little, I spent the holiday with my family and did not stay up until midnight. Of course, I probably would not have been able to make it to midnight anyway. When I was able to stay up, I counted down with everybody else and it was fun. Early on in high school, I was working with Mobtown Players in Baltimore and I always attended their fundraisers on New Year’s Eve. It was fun hanging out with those guys. They were all older than me and they did treat me as “the kid” but they also treated me with respect and talked openly with me. When Y2K came around, we went south and spent the night at my uncle’s party with a lot of people we did not know but that was important to my mom. In recent years I have spent a lot of New Year’s Eves alone playing video games. This year, I played board games and drank margaritas with friends. I think I prefer hanging out with friends, given the choice.

This can only be played with friends you want to alienate.

On a personal note, in 2016 I vowed to embrace the power of positivity. Originally it was just a cute phrase that The New Day started but I have found myself happier after using it in my own life. That is why I never embraced the “Fuck 2016” attitude. It was sad that a lot of celebrities died last year but not exactly surprising. They died in 2015 and every year prior and will continue to die in the future. It won’t be just celebrities either but we know that. The election was beyond disappointing but we will soldier on and we will survive. We will be a beautiful nation to spite the ugliness that keeps trying to pull us down. Of course, some people personally had bad years but I know a lot of people who had babies or got married in 2016 and I think it is an insult to them to scream “Good Riddance 2016”. Of course, people can embrace that meme all they want. I’m not the boss of you.

It’s time to move on. We’re going to crush it this year.

I am excited for another year. I will be advancing into the legal field one way or another and that is something I have wanted for over a year now. That desire has grown with each class I have taken, preparing for my new career. I am excited to play Dungeons and Dragons soon. The possibilities when starting a new story with a new character fill me with a lot of joy. I am currently writing a second draft of a play I started early last year. I have a good idea for another play that I can’t wait to start.

If you hadn’t noticed.

This blog will remain a priority for me because it has never stopped being fun and I love the accomplishment of getting each and every post finished and published. The blog also challenges me to grow in my viewing habits and my writing. I know there are people who read this thing. I see you like posts and there are views and visitors almost every day. The statistics for 2016 blew 2015 out of the water. There were 1256 views which means that there were approximately 3.5 views per day and I am only scheduled to post three times a week. I want to say thank you to anybody who ever visited here even once and those who continue to do so. I appreciate it. I never made this thing to get famous but I am glad that other human beings are interested.

If things go well, the archives should be fully updated once again by the time this posts at the usual time (2 AM). Every post can be somebody’s first post so find somewhere to start on the right and have at it.

A Facebook Thingy Before Christmas

December 19, 2016

As I prepare for Christmas and cool down from finishing my Fall semester at CCBC, I thought I would post this Facebook thing that I beefed up.  We had snow and then freezing rain on Saturday and it was more annoying than dangerous even though there was a huge crash south of the city.  I am getting excited for Christmas as the presents I bought for people start arriving in the mail.  Posts will continue as scheduled even as I go to Shepherdstown this week.

Four names I go by:

1. Steven

My given name. It means “He who is crowned.” I love my name even though it is often used to for a random name to call lame guys in fiction. However, Eddie Izzard often uses it for a name to call characters and does not mistreat the name. I believe that spelling it with a “v” is the right way to spell it even if Stephen came about first in history.

2. Steve

I used to hate this shortened version of my name but I have learned to like it. It is so quick and casual. A lot of good friends have called me by this shortened version. However, I now have a friend/family member who goes by Steve and is in the tabletop gaming group I am in. This creates confusion but somehow we manage. I end up being Steve 2 sometimes.

3. Wolf of Words

You are reading this blog right now. It has also become my new gamer tag when I need one. If you see WolfofWords holding a gym in Pokemon Go, that is me. As I explained earlier, the wolf is a part of my family history because my family is crazy. My mom taught us to howl at the full moon because her aunt taught her to do it. I am also devoted to stories and words as a writer, an avid consumer of fiction and a student of the law.

4. KM/King

While I was in New Jersey, I created a gamer tag called Mengi around the time I created this blog. It was created for a game called StarPirates which had a great community. There was a guy in our little group playing the game who called himself LordTyrion and, to tweak his nose, I renamed myself KingMengi to outrank him. I stuck with the name through a couple games and that’s why it appears as my twitter and WordPress username.

Four places I’ve lived

1. Baltimore, Maryland

I love Baltimore. It is the city where I was born and where I have lived for 24 years (not consecutive). I love so many great places in Baltimore and I learn more and more things about it every day. If you keep reading this blog, you will find me talking about Baltimore over and over.

2. Sussex, New Jersey

Sussex is a small town in New Jersey jammed up near the borders of Pennsylvania and New York. Even though it is nearly two hours from New York City, it is still in the NYC Metropolitan area because that area is gigantic. I worked at a theater called Tri-State Actors Theater here and I lived in the back of a framing shop. The place was a little town with a two-block main street surrounded by farmland and mountains. Still, the local children were frightened of the urban dangers it might contain.

3. Matamoras, Pennsylvania

When I first moved up to work at Tri-State Actors Theater, I lived at the owner’s house just over the border in Pennsylvania. At first, I had no car and I was at the mercy of what rides were offered by the people whom I was living with. Once I had my first real car, I remember driving there really late at night. Once, I was driving over the mountain to get home and there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground and I spun out near the top. After I recovered my wits, I continued to drive. I was really stupid sometimes back then.

4. Shepherdstown, West Virginia

In the last few years, my mother moved to West Virginia along with my new stepfather. (Although, not so new anymore.) It is a great place to be as it is far from the hustle and bustle of the city and I never experienced that, even in Sussex. I worked at the house there for two years on several projects for the family business and I continue to visit for holidays.


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