Sunday, August 19, 2012

We Must Tear Happiness From the Days to Come

We Must Tear Happiness From the Days to Come

Does anyone know where that line is from? I heard it somewhere, many, many years ago, and it always stuck with me, but I can’t recall what it’s from. I suspect a Henrik Ibsen play, but I don’t remember and I don’t feel like Googling it because I enjoy the mystery. (Although if anyone knows, by all means tell me.) Anyway, in the midst of being overdue for a vacation and generally in a fugue, a malaise, a slump, a dolor, if that can be used as a noun, I have nonetheless torn some happiness from my days this week. Would you like to know how to be happy, like me? Follow this handy guide and minor, transitory gladness will be yours!   

Go Swimmin’

I don’t why it took me so long as an adult to discover swimming. Well, I do, actually. It’s because I’ve always been scared of the water and therefore I am terrible at being in it. Nonetheless, I’ve come to count on swimming as my primary form of exercise over these last few months, even though it involves aggravations like getting wet and stepping in toddler pee and wearing a swimsuit in public. But I find that I don’t dread going to the pool the way I always dreaded going to the gym. I even sort of enjoy flopping around in the water, doing my little made-up “water aerobic” moves and pretend-swimming. Fifty minutes of going full steam, and I can tell I’ve gotten an awesome workout, without the accompanying crushing knee pain and body aches I’d get after the same amount of time on the elliptical. The trade-off is that, 1.) It is fist-gnawingly dull because I can’t drown out the boredom with an I-pod, and 2.) I keep showing up on the same day that a lanky teenager I’ve dubbed “Boy Dictator” is the lifeguard. Boy Dictator doesn’t let me use the water aerobic equipment. Boy Dictator blows his whistle if I get in the water even 13 seconds before the official start time of the swim. Boy Dictator doesn’t let me swim in the deep end if there are children on the water slide, and he yanks the blinds shut at the first hint of sunlight.

Boy Dictator aside, I think this faux-swimming scheme is something I can actually stick with, although Mr. Typist has expressed suspicion that I’m really just going to the Wendy’s drive-in, gulping vanilla Frosty’s in the car, dripping a little water on my hair, then staggering through the door pretending to be exhausted after my long swim. Riiiight. Like I would ever drink a vanilla Frosty when they come in chocolate!

File Stuff

Although I’m very organized and tidy in my work life, I am not a naturally orderly person, so I use up all of my “super-organizer” reserves at work and let everything at home basically just go to hell. (For a brief time, I actually rented myself out as a professional organizer, but I found the work to be too intimate and draining, all that mucking around in the energy of other peoples’ things.)

Recently, the Paper Monster had grown out of control at Casa de Typist, and it was time to take swift, decisive action. Besides, Yoshi kept eating the light bills. So I loaded up on boxes and hanging files and color coded file folders and label makers and all that good stuff, and went to town on the slovenly, dust-covered piles. It was a royal pain, and it took literally hours, but I very much enjoy the end result. 

Filing creates a wonderful illusion of control, the virtuous feeling of having everything labeled and slotted into its place. It means we are clean, shiny, responsible people who know exactly where to find our tax returns and expired warranties. It means that our lives are running on a predictable linear trajectory, and that we are out of reach of chaos and its accompanying pain and bewilderment, and the inevitable change it ushers in. Our receipts are in date order, damnit, and all is right with the world. 

Listen to Pseudopod

I’ve talked about my podcast addiction before, and while I know I say each one is like, my total favorite that I cannot live without, Pseudopod really, truly is! And it’s finally back after its seasonal hiatus! And I’m so excited I listened to five stories practically in a row over the course of the weekend. Pseudopod bills itself as a “weekly horror podcast from the UK”, but their tales run the gamut from horror to speculative fiction to flash fiction to all things in between. Their stories always spark my imagination and inspire me to sit my butt down and get to writing. And of course, I always enjoy the morosely philosophical commentary by host Alasdair Stuart

Write a Short Story about a Dystopian Hospital, and Be Sure to Include Lots and Lot of Raccoons

‘Nough said.

Play “The Secret World”

I wasn’t so sold on this new MMPORPG at first, but now that I’ve been playing it for a few weeks, I’m pretty much hopelessly sucked into its bizarre, exasperating and yet very compelling world. It seems to have special appeal to writers or literary “types”, with its extensive lore, poetic use of language, top-notch voice acting and well-plotted story lines. Best of all, it doesn’t devolve into just another run-of-the-mill level grinder. There’s no need to hurry through anything, as there are, in fact, no levels. It allows you ample room to meander, explore, and talk with the many fascinating and loquacious NPC’s. It’s a bit like wandering through a gigantic, interactive novel. I always hate it when game play gets in the way of my stories, so this one is custom-made for me. Plus it’s a much needed respite from the typical dungeon/castle/medieval clich├ęs, as it’s set in today’s time. 

What’s that you say? The combat? Oh, that. Yeah, yeah it’s fine. I’m an Elementalist. I wave my hand and a bolt of light comes out and kills things. Also I can beat people with a giant invisible magical hammer or something. Please don’t bother me with killing re-animated cultists while I’m trying to read my lore.

Stay tuned for a more extensive review once I’ve played the game for a bit longer and experimented with the different factions. So far, I’m enjoying being a gopher for the unrepentantly power-hungry Illuminati. 

Yours in tearing happiness,

Kristen McHenry 

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