Sunday, May 23, 2021

Grid-Blindness, Slow Creativity, When Cobras Attack

The game “Planet Zoo” went on sale for half-off this week, and desperate for some mental distraction from my stress, I downloaded it and plunged right in. It’s an amazingly well-designed game and it has great individual elements, such as detailed information about the various animals and their natural habitats, and beautifully-rendered creatures. I just wanted to make some cool-looking animal habitats and maybe build a reptile house, but the only thing that’s happening is that I am being driven slowly insane by how fiddly and difficult the building process is. I can’t freakin’ figure out the grids and the snapping and the swapping of walls and the pathing and the stair-building. I’ve watched a number of tutorials but it’s just not clicking. I finally watched one YouTube tutorial that set everything up in a “simple” grid pattern, and I tried to follow it exactly step-by-step, but I kept getting off track on the square count somehow and all I ended up with was a lopsided grid and a headache. When I explained my woes to Mr. Typist he was puzzled: “Grids are foolproof, sweetie.” Grids are not foolproof. If they were foolproof my zoo layout would be nice and square and logical and wouldn’t look like something out of a Picasso painting. I’ve decided I’m just going to embrace my dyslexia and make an artsy, non-linear zoo with wildly veering circular paths and surprises around every corner. You can’t take a right brain and force it to make perfectly symmetrical grids.

I’ve started reading poems for a literary magazine that recently re-launched, which has inspired me to dabble in verse again and think about starting a new series. I have a germ of an idea that I think would be fun to do and could lead to some interesting places. So I worked on that a little bit this weekend, and took a break from the damn grids to once again pick up my tiger punch-needle embroidery project. I’m working with full six-strand embroidery thread, which is the thinnest material I’ve worked with before. Previously to this, I’ve only used yarn, but I wanted to be able to do more detailed and intricate work. So far, I’m quite pleased. It’s very painstaking and slow and it’s taking an alarming amount of thread to cover just a small area (I’m going to have to order more), but I like the effect. I’m enjoying the depth of color and texture this new way of punching allows, and it’s not like there’s a deadline for completion.. To top it off, for the first time in over a year, Mr. Typist and I walked to the park and had a picnic by the water. It felt nice to work on some creative projects and do a normal thing like have a picnic instead of going into the office in an attempt to keep on top of the avalanche of e-mail. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I’m human and I need to do human things.

I don’t know if this was inspired by Planet Zoo or not, but I had a terrifying nightmare a few days ago in which I was being eaten alive by a giant cobra. He had his jaws solidly around my leg and was making rapid progress on swallowing his meal whole. One of my hospital volunteers was attempting to rescue me and he kept telling me to be very, very still. I listened closely to his instructions, all of the time convinced I was going to die and devastated because I didn’t want to shed my mortal coil in the jaws of a giant cobra. In the end I was saved, but I woke up in a cold sweat and awash in adrenaline. I made the mistake of Googling “eaten by snake dream symbolic meaning of” and none of it’s good. I find it very unfair that a cobra was aggressively trying to eat me. I have always been very snake-positive and have stood up for snakes in the midst of wide-spread cultural fear and loathing of them. And this how they thank me. Sheesh.

But forget about the scary cobra and enjoy this cute Planet Zoo game trailer:

 --Kristen McHenry