Riley and I were talking about gaming and I was trying to describe what I dislike about first-person shooters (or shooters in general) (or any game where you can die, really). For me it comes down to what the gaming experience feels like, and I don’t like anxiety in a game. Particularly when you have to repeat a series of difficult things leading up to the actual big boss moment and you know that every time you die you have to start over and do all the things again, and that’s before you have to battle something crazy impossible like a horde of armored zombies that shoot lasers out of their eyesockets and the laser de-activates all your weapons plus you have to simultaneously solve a ninety-layer maze and ALSO there’s a timer.

In comparison, Beat Saber is delightfully low stakes. Its default setup involves a health meter situation where if you screw up enough, the song ends and you have to try again, but the first thing I did was set that shit to NOFAIL. No pressure, no consequences, no checkpoints, just straight-up fun plus a great workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. Bam!

:::

I was at a light the other day and looking at this woman waiting to cross, drawn to her because of her outfit. Individually and collectively, it should have been hideous: shapeless crop top, paperbag-waist pants that were both 1) UPS-brown, 2) wide leg, and 3) cropped (!!), topped by clunky black boots. Yet somehow she was making it WORK, like there were these … I don’t know, invisible wavy cartoon lines of confidence and style surrounding her, which seemed related to her impeccable posture. It occurs to me that maybe that’s the whole trick with fashion and probably with a lot of life, too: straighten up your spine and untuck your chin, that little switch in the body makes a startling difference in the head.

(Not such a difference for me personally that I would try to pull off a similar outfit, mind you. Today’s clothing trends are mostly baffling and wildly unattractive to me and I don’t understand any of them, particularly those giant dumpy lampshade-looking prairie/babydoll dress hybrids that cannot possibly be flattering on any human.)

:::

I am so incredibly dismayed by the politicization and distrust and outright refusal (But Mah Immune System) of these life-saving vaccines that we should ALL be celebrating, I feel like this particular moment in time is even more depressing than it was a year ago, because we have a path OUT of this bullshit yet SO MANY PEOPLE refuse to do their part.

To me it comes down to a choice: do you choose to make things better for all of us, perhaps incrementally and perhaps significantly, or do you choose to make things NO better and possibly worse?

I truly don’t know how anyone can call themselves a patriot if they make the second choice.

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Memorial Day is usually when some brave soul gets in the water at the cabin for the first brief shivery swim of the season, but we’ve had such a warm and dry spring everyone was in the water all weekend long. This particular section of the Umpqua is still pretty chilly but definitely bearable, and unusually clear right now because it hasn’t yet slowed to its algae-choked summer crawl. I spent a few lazy hours on a floatie, facedown and peering into the typically hidden environment of tree snags and rocks and long rippling ribbons of mysterious green vegetation and a startling amount of curious smallmouth bass peering back at me with bright red eyes.

It can be shamefully easy to take our time at the cabin for granted. I was thinking about that this weekend, how I used to feel something akin to resentment for this lovely family getaway because it was so clearly hugely important to John and yet we were eighty bazillion miles away in Seattle. Okay, technically about 350 miles but factor in driving with a baby, then a baby and a toddler, plus both Portland and Seattle area traffic: it felt like eighty bazillion.

Now it’s a pleasant hour-and-change trip that typically involves zero dual-diaper changes in the pelting rain at a highway rest stop. It’s also far more relaxing to be there than it was when the boys were unpredictable darting toddlers: for all its bucolic serenity, the cabin itself is sandwiched between a steep riverbank and a busy highway.

John’s parents own the cabin properties; there are actually two right next to each other, one was purchased decades ago and the other somewhat more recently. The third cabin in this little row along the river belongs to John’s uncle’s family. Visiting is always a family affair in the summer, it’s a nice setup where everyone can spend time with each other in the water or on the lawn and then retreat to their various spaces.

As lucky as we were to have access to the cabin back in our Seattle days, it feels far luckier now. I sometimes watch our boys goofing around on the rocks or fishing and think how if we’re very very VERY lucky, their own children will be enjoying the cabin someday, and I’ll be swanning around in my flowy caftan being the most awesome grandma EVER, and when I get even a tiny bit tired of small-child-wrangling I can GIVE THEM BACK.

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