Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

Interview Questions 8

June 5, 2017


What is your favorite movie quote?

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.”
Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger

This was the most powerful line of the movie for me. It also made me fall in love with the character of Captain America and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. The line is in response to Steve being asked whether he wants to kill Nazis. A lot of soldiers probably entered World War II hoping to destroy evil. This line sets up Captain America not as a weapon but as a shield. He cares more about protecting the innocent than destroying evil. As a child of the eighties, I grew up hearing epic stories of World War II. I was one generation removed so there was definitely a more romantic sheen on every story I heard. While war is not ideal, evil prevails when good men do nothing. The Nazis were the ultimate bullies and the world rose up to stop them. It was the last time we had a clear conscience in a fight like that. I still get chills when Chris Evans delivers that line with such passion.


Would you rather spend five days exploring Disney or New York City?

I would take five days to explore Disney World or Disney Land. I am lucky to have been to both New York City and Disney World. I have not been to Disney World for a long time but I have been to NYC off and on for decades. I have enjoyed both places a lot at different times. However, New York City is a real place. It has real dangers and real downsides. Disney World and Disney Land are fascinating as they are wholly manufactured worlds. Every inch of the parks are built for my pleasure and there are a million surprises waiting for me. I would never run out of things to examine and re-examine if I lived there forever but definitely not in five days. New York City is interesting but there is just more of a chance of me searching for treasure and getting disappointment instead. If I am dedicating five whole days, I pick a Disney park hands down. Of course, if we are talking about the fictional Disney multiverse, then I also chose that because that would be amazing (and probably dangerous but whatever).


Would you rather be the most popular kid in school or the smartest kid in school?

I have never been the popular kid. To a certain extent, I have always been part of the nerd and geek subculture which was never at the top of the food chain while I was a kid. I was also never the smartest kid but I was always on the smarter end of the student body spectrum. School just came easily to me. I worked hard but I usually understood things pretty quickly. I enjoyed being smart. Being smart makes homework easier, which left me more time for video games and other extracurriculars. Being smart also makes lectures a little more fascinating and learning a lot more fun. Schoolwork is almost never too frustrating when you are smart enough. However, being the smartest brings the pressure to excel to higher heights but I would be secure that I was qualified to do whatever I wanted. While I pursued being popular as a kid, I was kind of glad that I never really succeeded. Socially, I am more comfortable in smaller crowds. I would hate to have too many people clambering to hang out with me. I like having my solitude when I want it. I would prefer the life of the mind while I maintain my small circle of trusted friends.

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The Cure for What Ailed Me: Epilog

May 29, 2017


I empathize with you so much, little horse.

They wheeled me to the front door and then I was on my own. My family was there but nobody could really do anything for me anymore. Somehow, my body had forgotten how to walk properly. Everything was sore and my strength and coordination were still way off. It was embarrassing. I felt like a newborn foal. My bedroom at home was on the third floor and it was my sanctuary. Until I healed, stairs were too difficult and we worried that something would cause me to have to go back to the hospital. So, I slept on the couch for weeks as I got my sea legs back. My grandmother, Maw Maw, came up to keep me company.


My scar was exponential.

I am left with a fairly wicked scar. When it was fresh, it curved from between my shoulder blades down to my left side above my hip. It was pretty brutal-looking. However, my body grew and the scar did not so it is a lot smaller these days. It looks less like I wrestled with bears. That is an actual rumor that my wrestling coach joked about starting in seventh grade. Experiences like that made me self-conscious about the scar but also let me laugh about it. Body image is especially tough when you are young, even if you are a guy.


I have never had street cred.

Next to the moon-shaped scar is the scar from the place where they inserted the drainage tube for all my various fluids. It was gross to think about and even now I can feel my skin crawl. Sorry if I made the same happen to you. My family affectionately called that scar ‘the bullet wound scar’ because of how clean and precise it looked. Also, when the time came for them to remove the tube so that I could heal, it certainly felt like I had been shot. They grabbed and yanked the tube out of me and I felt a sudden, hollow pain. It was one of the worst pains I had felt at the time.

Slowly, I started to find my footing again. It did not take too long for me to start gobbling food down faster than I anyone else at the table. I was overcompensating for all of my past issues. I started to breathe clearer soon after that. The danger had passed.

Extra Stories and Fun Facts:


No No No No No No

Now some readers may remember my great fear of needless. When I went in for the MRI test to map my circulatory system in advance of the surgery, the nurse was very kind but very utilitarian with a brusque bedside manner. They were going to give me something to put me out for the MRI and they also had to inject the fluid that would make the MRI actually work. When I started to get nervous she told me ‘Don’t worry, it won’t hurt any more than a bee sting’. The problem for me was that not only was I afraid of needles, I was also terrified of bees. I was swarmed by a whole nest when I was younger. My mom leveled a hard look at this nurse and informed her that she was not really helping.


What do I have in common with him? Not much, thankfully.

They told me a lot of interesting things to try to calm me down in the days before the surgery. One of the more interesting things was my surgeon’s past history. They told me that my surgeon had been one of the surgeons who operated on Ronald Reagan after he was shot over a year before I was born. Of course, this impressed me when I was a kid. Now, I am just glad that he was successful with me. Regardless, he was a world-renown expert on the surgery and I was lucky that he worked at a hospital less than half an hour away from home.


I owe a lot to the most powerful institution in Baltimore past, present, and future.

Now, medical science is much more advanced than it was over twenty years ago. Doctors are able to detect Cystic Fibrosis much earlier. They are also able to detect Double Aortic Arch through many different tests (some of which I eventually got). Often, the problem is detected in the womb or shortly after birth and is corrected through surgery before the damage is done. In fact, most babies born with Double Aortic Arch usually turn blue from oxygen deprivation not long after birth. I went through what I had to go through and nobody really screwed up. It is one of the reasons that I support science-based medicine so much. It saved my life.

The Cure For What Ailed Me Pt. 3

May 22, 2017

When we last left off, I had finally received a confirmed diagnosis of Double Aortic Arch. To this day, doctors still do not know exactly what causes the condition but they think it may be genetic. Whatever caused it, I was born with a congenital heart defect. This was an amazing find because it is a very rare defect. It was also an amazing find because, like Cystic Fibrosis, it usually kills babies fairly quickly after birth. I was born with it but I survived over ten years without it being detected. I am so lucky that I did not die. I could have easily keeled over and they would have diagnosed me in an autopsy. The thought both makes me feel good and it also terrifies me.


Wow, that was dark. Let me remind you that this has a happy ending and I am not a ghost.

The doctors told my mom that not only did things look bad but with each passing day, they were getting worse. My body was slowly strangling me from the inside and there was no chance of it healing on its own. Medical intervention was absolutely necessary and that means that I had to go into surgery and soon. My mother, knowing that Halloween is my favorite holiday, asked if the surgery could wait. The doctors told her in no uncertain terms that the surgery could not wait. They told her why. One night, my parents sat me down at the dinner table that I had grown to dread. They told me what was wrong with me and they told me that I had to go into surgery.


I would be going as a sick kid for Halloween.

I sobbed and begged for it not to be true. I remember being on my mother’s lap, my heart seized with fear like never before or since. I cried and cried but tears do not change reality. They told me that if I did not have the surgery I would lose the ability to walk and then I would die. I had to be in surgery soon and I had to learn to accept that. I told my friends and my mother told the school and they were all behind me. I wish I could say that this made anything better. I remember going into the hospital for a consultation with the surgeon. He sat me down and drew simple little pictures and told me what he was going in to do. He was kind and although it did not make me any less scared, I know I appreciated at least knowing what was happening. Knowing is almost always better.


Nothing funny here. This was the inspiration for my character Lennon Clarke.

The day of the surgery came in almost no time at all. The night before, I was given the usual order to not eat or drink anything. This had to be enforced by my folks because I get cranky when I do not eat. As a concession to my young age, they allowed me to drink apple juice but only a little bit to keep my blood sugar up. They brought me into the hospital. Having been briefed on my fear of needles, they numbed my arms before they injected me. At some point, a troll doll from the school store was put into my hands and I clutched it tightly. As the drugs started to take effect, I cursed at whoever would listen and I told them that my parents were lawyers and they better take good care of me. They pumped enough drugs in me to put down a horse. I started singing the Animaniacs theme on loop and then I blacked out.


I was quickly getting zany to the max…

It was hours later when I awoke in the Intensive Care Unit. I was still alive. Not only that, but I was told that the operation was successful. I was in pain but happy that the scariest event of my life was all over except for the healing. As a reward, I got to watch Disney’s Aladdin on heavy drugs. It remains one of my favorite films to this day. I do not remember much else from the ICU except for fading in and out of consciousness and the occasional sponge bath. They had deflated one of my lungs to get at my heart and there would be a lot of healing. Eventually, they decided that I was out of danger and moved me up to a room to recuperate. Once there, I became a more difficult patient.


I had my own fight going on so I felt for Link.

I happily ate applesauce and watched television. However, it took me a while to kind of learn how to go to the bathroom again. I insisted I could do it and I would struggle my way to the bathroom and then nada. I was stuck with a catheter for a while. As they decreased the drugs they gave me, I hurt more but hurting is part of healing. While in the hospital, I got the entire set of Aliens action figures including the Alien Queen. There was a hospital visit from Captain Planet and I got Wheeler’s fire ring and also Linka’s wind ring. When I got a little better, I would make the long and painful journey to the game room to play Legend of Zelda on the NES. I never had enough time to get anywhere in the game but controlling Link made me happy.

Stay tuned next week for part 4 which will probably be the epilog!

The Cure for What Ailed Me Pt. 1

May 8, 2017

I have danced around this story for quite some time especially in April. I searched my archives to see if I have told this story and I could not find it. Of course, I do not have time to comb through over 500 posts to make myself completely sure. I am not going to stress about it. I want to tell this story right because it is such an important part of my life. So welcome to the tale of that time I got life-changing surgery.

I have always been a short guy. When I was a little kid, my pediatrician constantly talked about how I was at the lowest end of the growth chart. I was the shortest kid in my class and I was something approaching underweight. I was a happy boy but I was also kind of a frail boy. This is very disconcerting for a kid who grew up reading comics and watching Power Rangers. The power of friendship and kindness in your heart only got you so far. Eventually, I would have to punch something. More importantly, I was reminded at every turn that I was not as big or athletic as the other kids. I was the only male who sat on the floor for class pictures. I started to look up at my peers instead of looking over at them. I remember feeling really uptight about that. Every time people called me short, it was an insult instead of something I just could not change.


Screw you, Randy Newman.

Later, things got even worse than just being of a small and slight stature. At some point, I realized that I was always the last one at the dinner table every night. Let me explain. My family ate dinner together almost every night and we talked about our day and any other cool topics we could think of. We all ate and talked but, whether I was talking or not, everybody was done with their meal before me. I ate so slowly. Eventually, my folks had to release my brothers from the dinner table because everybody had things to do before bed. I would still be eating. I would focus on eating to try to beat everybody else to no avail. I could not point to anything specifically but I just could not manage to eat fast enough for the family to all finish together. Before you ask, it was also not because I am a picky eater. I ate pretty much everything happily.


Eating by myself. Alone. Independently.

It got worse. I noticed that I was getting winded a lot easier at recess. This is horrible news for kids because they are supposed to have nearly boundless energy until they pass out like their batteries suddenly lost charge. I was not the most athletic kid (and probably the worst Little Leaguer ever) but I did like to run around with my friends pretending to be a superhero. I have fond memories of pretending to be on the X-Men Blue Team while not using a basketball court as it was originally intended. However, I was breathing hard more and more. I was having difficulty catching my breath and even talking could be a chore sometimes. This is when doctors really started to get involved. They really do not appreciate when kids stop breathing correctly.


I usually wanted to be Cyclops. Less running.

For the longest time, they thought I had asthma. I had never really shown signs of it early in life but suddenly at age ten, they thought I had somehow developed it. That may be possible but (Spoiler Alert) that was not the case. When I went off to sleepaway summer camp (for dyslexics, another great story), I had to bring my inhaler with me. After breakfast and after dinner I had to get in line in front of a table with the other weaker members of the pack. When it was my turn, I had to breathe in chemicals that stung my throat and lungs from a little plastic bag. It is probably a hundred percent the reason I never tried marijuana. It felt like crap and it never helped but everybody, including me, felt more confident about my condition while doing it. Eventually, they realized it was not asthma. At that point, they thought it might be Cistic Fibrosis.


This was my anti-drug…. nevermind.

Yes, Cystic Fibrosis, that disease that the March of Dimes was always raising money for everywhere I looked at that age. Of course, my parents did not tell me this tidbit. Cystic Fibrosis sounds really scary and the medical description sounds even worse. The disease causes a build up of mucus in the lungs that blocks airways and makes it difficult or sometimes impossible to breathe. It also causes a mucus build up in the digestive system which makes that process hard to do as well. It seemed like a likely contender for what was wrong with me. I had problems in both those areas and everybody was probably pretty proud of themselves for coming up with that answer. Of course, nobody was happy about the diagnosis because it meant a lifetime of health complications and being stalked by death for at least the rest of my childhood. But was it the answer? We will find out next time in part two.


Support your local March of Dimes.

ZZZzzz

April 30, 2017

I think it is fitting that I close out this challenge by talking about how tired I am. While I love this challenge, there have been a lot of changes in my life that have caused me to have to run on all cylinders. I got a new job, I finished an internship, I marched for Science and I have been working harder on this blog among other things. I have been dedicated to this challenge and I decided that I would not be deterred from completing it. Still, it is an endurance trial, one that I will talk more about tomorrow.

I have always been a big fan of sleeping. I used to do a whole lot of it back in the day too. I used to work in live theater and that always caused such a weird sleep schedule. In college, I would have rehearsal until eleven at night and then I would have to do the paperwork afterward. By midnight, I was tired but keyed up and ready to hang out online. With classes during the day and rehearsal at night, I had to have some time to socialize even if it was online. At that point, I would be up as late as five in the morning.


I used to frown on people sleeping in class and then I did it.

In my freshman year of college, I had classes scheduled at eight in the morning. This was something my advisor did to me in the naive opinion that it would be good for me. After that first year, that would never happen again. Every morning I would crash before the sun rose (sometimes) and then I would sleep until lunch time before running off to class. It put me in a weird position with the rest of the world. I was often asleep when everyone else was awake and I felt disconnected from the real world and submerged into the fairytale world of theater.


I learned to draw on deeper energy reserves.

Once I got a job, that tendency to want to sleep until noon continued. Luckily, I was in a small regional theater. For the most part, work did not begin until ten in the morning because, once again, we all had rehearsal the night before. So, one again I spend a lot of time at night on my computer and I met all new friends since I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. I was continually tired and sore and crawling into bed at the end of the night was a welcome relief. By then, I had learned to sleep deeply in order to survive. Also, I learned to operate in a tired state and soldier on the best I could.


I wish that sometimes I did not wake with the sun.

Now that I have an office job, I am used to waking up bright and early at seven. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to sleep past nine even on my day off. Today, I planned to sleep until noon to recover from the recent excitement. The oncoming heat makes me restless when I try to get to sleep so once it cooled down, I looked forward to existing in dreamland for quite a while. I woke up at eight in the morning after getting to sleep at one. I still get about six to seven hours of sleep per night but now I feel like I have more of the day to do things. If I had gotten up at noon, I would have missed a surprise lunch with the office I interned at. I would have gotten so much less done. I am learning, bit by bit.

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.


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