Sunday, May 19, 2019

No Good Very Bad Week, Anniversar-not, Fortifying the Boundaries

I’m going to be honest here: It’s been a crap week for a number of reasons, including a huge amount of work stress. I find myself harboring increasingly bitter thoughts about my fellow man, and actually looking forward to going to the gym, where it’s peaceful and no one asks anything of me. (You know it’s bad when the gym feels like a safe haven.) I feel fried and frayed and despondent, and I couldn’t even work up enough oomph this weekend to get to the shooting range. On top of it—we worked it out, but Mr. Typist and I spent most of our anniversary yesterday in a sullen mini-feud due to unclear communication. It was mostly my fault. I had agreed to plan a trip, but I didn’t want to admit to myself or to him that I was way too burned out to plan anything. I have been “planned-out” due to multiple work events and stressors, and had literally no brain power left. I guess I thought I’d be able to pull something out of my hat at the last minute, but of course that didn’t happen, and it led to us arguing and me sobbing in the bedroom for thirty minutes, which was actually rather cathartic. To be totally fair, Mr. Typist had offered to plan the trip when I told him I wasn’t particularly enthused about doing so, but I didn’t want to let go. I deluded myself into believing that I was strong enough, responsible enough, and good enough to make it all happen on my own, despite the recent heavy demands on my time and mental energy. 

I have had to do some deep soul-searching of late on how my inability to maintain boundaries and say that simple, one-syllable word, “no” has left me a frazzled wreck of a human being, which in turn has led me to become angry at myself, because I don’t have anyone else to blame. It’s my responsibility to defend my own boundaries. The problem is, I never see it coming until it’s too late and I look up and realize that inch by inch, I’ve ceded all of my territory and now I’m overextended, angry, and burnt out. I feel like there should be a “NO” app or something…maybe a device, like a little alarm, that sends out a warning beep when I when find myself agreeing to something that I really don’t want to do out of a desire to help, or to preserve a relationship, or to keep the peace, which, as evidenced by the shake-up at the Typist household yesterday, just ends up backfiring most of the time anyway.  

My trainer talks a lot about the importance of developing an understanding of how one’s body moves and balances so you can “handle anything that comes at you.” He strikes me as fairly concrete thinker, so I’m pretty sure he’s talking strictly about the physical. But while I’m getting my physical body into some semblance of shape, I need to be doing a mental version of squats and pull-ups so I can strengthen my boundary-setting and fortify my defenses.

Lest you are concerned about the state of the Typist union, be assured everything’s okay. Mr. Typist has agreed to plan an anniversary trip for another weekend and take care of all of the details, and I’m very much looking forward to not having to lift a finger.

This is what I need to do to my inner agree-er:


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Fanatical Tomb Raider Review, Immodest Men, Moderate Charger

One of the hidden blessings of having my computer go belly-up recently was that Mr. Typist upgraded my system and tricked it out with a new video card, and I was finally, finally able to get “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” up and running on my machine. I fully acknowledge that I am a life-long fan of Tomb Raider and that I have never met a Tomb Raider game I didn’t like, but I must say with no exaggeration that “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” is, in my estimation, the absolute best Tomb Raider that Eidos has ever put out. It’s stunningly beautiful, with a fully engrossing storyline and a still-obsessed but more mature, kind and wise Lara Croft. The developers paid great attention to detail. The vast majority of the game takes place in the jungles of South America, and the wildlife alone is stunning. Brilliant, multi-colored tropical birds, jewel-toned Amazonian frogs, and other beautifully-rendered jungle critters abound, as well as jaw-dropping landscapes and a bevy of fascinating side-characters. The main story revolves around Lara’s attempts to thwart the evil cult/corporation of Trinity, who is back at it again with their attempts to obtain magical artifacts that will allow them to Control the All The Things. In a moment of near-irresistible impulse, Lara steals a sacred dagger from a tomb, thereby possibly ushering in the apocalypse, and so far is spending most of the game trying to contend with her error and keep the baddies from gaining the twin item needed to exert total control over humanity.

My only petty gripes with the game involve cut-scene confusion, jaguars and immodest men. I shall explain: As with former Tomb Raiders, there is a very disconcerting mechanic in which you are playing the game, but then at some point realize AI has taken over and you are in the middle of a cut scene. But then suddenly in the middle of said cut scene, bam, you’re dead, because bewilderingly, it was your turn to do something, and there was no clue given that it was time for you to take action.  It’s confusing, but fortunately relatively rare. In re: The jaguars—I am nearly fifty effing years old and I fantasize that I have a weak heart, and as such I really don’t need giant, terrifying jungle cats jumping on me unexpectedly. The jaguars in this game are way worse than the bears in the last game. They are huge, relentless, and otherworldly, and they possess uncanny valley-ish, weirdly glowing eyes and teeth the size of my forearm. And don’t even try jumping into a tree like an idiot in an attempt to get away from them. Those bitches will just follow you right the hell up there, knock your ass to the ground, and eat your guts with impunity. 

Also, I hate to sound like a prude—I am a prude, I just hate to sound like one—but couldn’t the male villagers in the remote jungle outposts wear some clothes? I find my Lara-self having long, complex conversations with men who are outfitted in naught but the barest of banana hammocks covering their…personal treasures…and it’s a bit distracting. During one random encounter, a guy in nothing but a literal cotton covering that showed the entire, detailed outline of his, let’s be grown-ups here, penis, complained to me, “Those kids keep breaking into my house at night and stealing my stuff. Maybe I should move.” I wanted to respond, “Or maybe you should put on some pants,” but that wasn’t a dialogue option. Obviously I am too old for video games, but that’s not stopping me. After all, it’s Tomb Raider. And heck, what’s a little harmless male anatomy here and there, especially when said males are in pretty fine shape?

I came home from the gym the other day and told Mr. Typist that I did All the Things, and he said encouragingly, “Wow, baby, you’re a hard charger.” Then I admitted that I skipped the arm bands, and he instantly downgraded me to a moderate charger. This feels right to me. When it comes to physical exertion, I am definitely a moderate charger. Probably when it comes to everything else, too. But Mr. Typist also recently ordered a special, super-fancy, long-handled serving spoon from Amazon and declared it to be the official Spoon of Manliness, which I am not allowed to touch, as my feeble lady hands cannot handle its weight and torque. So he might be going through some things right now. I’ll just leave it alone and be happy with the title of “Moderate Charger.”

Enjoy this (literally) poetic trailer from Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and gaze upon its glory:


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Fun with Projection, Ear to Mouth Ratio, Self-Pity Sunday

I referenced Lori Gottlieb’s book, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” in last week’s blog post, and since then I have gotten further into the book. At this point, she has stopped focusing as much on her own therapy and is instead writing more about her clients, in large part about “Julie”, a woman in her 30’s who is dying of cancer. I’m not usually drawn to such tales, but Julie’s story is strangely compelling to me, specifically due to a description of a fight she had with her live-in boyfriend, during which he told her, “I need a break from your cancer”, and she in turn shouted, “Why should you get a break? I don’t get break from my cancer.” It was heartbreaking to me. The boyfriend absolutely had the right to his own feelings about the pressures of being the main support to someone who is dying, and Julie absolutely had a right to her anger about not being able to avoid her condition or get a break from it. I felt deeply for both people and the untenable, tragic situation they were in, to the point of crying copiously.  It’s strange these days—my innate sensitivity is both numbed and in hyper-drive. I have a hard time crying about the death of my father, but apparently I can very easily cry about the circumstances of someone who is completely theoretical to me. 

Among one of the many gems of the book is the phrase that Lori’s therapy trainers   often repeat: “You have two ears and one mouth. There’s a reason for that ratio.” I think that phrase should be dumped liberally into the national water supply, like fluoride. I’m often accused of being “too quiet,” and I understand full well that I’m perceived by the more willful, talkative, and outgoing among me as being weak-minded, a softie, and  something of a pushover. None of those things are true, but I firmly believe in the ethos of listening more than I talk, which can make me appear wishy-washy and overly-conciliatory. I’m okay with that, as the rewards I get from listening fully are more valuable than the rewards I would get from being perceived as “strong-minded” by the loudest amongst me. But this approach to life has had its costs, professionally and personally.

The wipe-out of my hard drive and the subsequent computer clean-up continues. I went into my main drive this weekend to organize my years of fiction and poetry output, and was at once heartened and saddened by it, the sad part of which threw me immediately into the throes of writing self-pity, a very unbecoming state of being in which I lamented the failure of my novel, wallowed in my fear that writing poetry about my new-found passion for shooting will be roundly rejected by anti-gun leftist poetry publishers everywhere, as poets are almost universally anti-gun leftists, and lamented the  fact that I am hopelessly prone to writing run-on sentences. But I am also proud to report that I was fairly pleased overall with my review of my previous work. I read some things that I had forgotten I wrote and that can firmly say I stand by to this day, despite their thickness and amateur-ness. To balance this, the most hopeless amongst them were unceremoniously deleted. So it’s been a mixed bag.

I didn’t get to the gym or the gun range this weekend, and I’m currently lounging around make-up free in a hoodie and cargo pants, being a complete laziod, with no intention of leaving the house for either pursuit. In the interest of counter-balance, below is a little pep talk from my favorite, exhausting, growly-voiced ex-SEAL Jocko Willink on discipline, something which I am decidedly not exercising today….but maybe will  tomorrow (Gym Day.)  Enjoy!

--Kristen McHenry