Recovery takes many forms

So whilst I haven’t been playing WoW recently (and have decided that I need to wait until I hand in my final piece of coursework at the end of May before re-subscribing), I have been doing other things.

One of the few pieces of useful advice I was given after I was diagnosed with Post-natal Depression was to try and get out as much as possible. So we have been all over the place exploring castles,

WP_20160514_13_44_11_Pro_LI

Edzell Castle in the sunshine

looking at neolithic ruins and geocaching. Essentially trying to spend as much time out in the fresh air as humanly possible and I  must admit it’s working. My son adores being in the woods and on beaches and I look surprisingly suntanned.

I have been dabbling with some games though as it still rains quite a lot. Dragon Age Inquisition is still on-going although I’m struggling to get back into the story. There is no denying how beautiful it is but I’m just finding something lacking, perhaps because they’ve got rid of all the Mage Towers.

ScreenshotWin32_0148_Final ScreenshotWin32_0155_Final

I dived back into Hearthstone too and finally no doubt years after everyone else I beat a certain spider.

Hearthstone Screenshot 05-08-16 21.37.36

 

Then because we visited Doune Castle recently which doubles for Castle Leoch in Outlander, I’ve started reading the book with a view to possibly watching the series once I’m finished. Given the “mind fog” I’ve been in since my son’s arrival I hadn’t actually heard of either the book or the TV series until I got talking to the lovely Historic Scotland ladies as well as some American tourists who didn’t recognize the Catullus quote on the “Outlander” merchandise and thought that “basia” must mean “love”.

I briefly contemplated pretending to being much smarter than I actually am before admitting that I first came across “da mi basia mille, deinde centum” whilst reading Jilly Cooper of all people. Fair enough I was only 10 or so at the time but still.

My final piece of coursework for the University course I’m doing is handed in 10 days time and then the plan is to resubscribe and attack the Toybox list with a view to completing as much as possible before Legion goes live. I think we are going to pre-order so I’ll also be figuring out what character I want to use the boost on as well as deciding if I’m going with my Priest or not.

For the TL;DR, I’ve recovered about as much as I’m going to (still slightly mad) and I’m back, excited about Demons, changes to the PvP system and nursing a desire to slaughter things.

When Worlds collide

I paid a visit to the Kirkwall Chantry recently…somewhat disappointed by the lack of men in armour wielding broadswords but it was a really beautiful building.

chantry

It did however get me thinking about different game worlds and how they reflect on the world around us. There are some similarities between Kirkwall the real place and Kirkwall the virtual one, both are located by the sea and both have religious buildings as a focal point but there is a distinct lack of chains (at least in the areas we visited) in the Scottish version.

Looking at art work like this, (one of the loading screens from Dragon Age II).

Dragon_age_fresco_merredith_by_nthornborrow-d3c4z4w

It doesn’t require a huge imaginative leap to contemplate that perhaps the designers also had the “real” Kirkwall in mind with it’s Cathedral named for  Magnus Erlendsson (St Magnus) when they decided to call the “City of Chains”, Kirkwall.

In fact, the Orkney Islands seem full of virtual gaming references as seen in the picture below:

gnomes

Here we can clearly see a Gnome leaving a Dwarfish dwelling (or not).

I know it’s been a long time since I posted last and if I’m being honest, I have no idea if I’m back. It turns out that I was “not prepared” for Post-natal depression, in fact I imagine it was the real world equivalent of fighting C’thun, Ragnaros versions 1 & 2, the Lich King and 4 Horde raids all at the same time whilst in the Suppression rooms from Blackwing Lair.

In an ideal world, I would like to start posting at least once a fortnight (folder full of drafts, half written stories and I’m still finishing the last Dragon Age) and intend on returning to the game at some point prior to the next expansion going live. In the real world…who knows.

Home Coming

Apparently it’s over six months since I last logged into WoW ….

WoWScrnShot_070615_193843

Although it seems on my first admittedly brief glance around that little has changed. I haven’t been keeping up with the news so am hopefully setting off on a WoW voyage of discovery this weekend and surprisingly enough I’m looking forwards to it.

As for what’s been keeping me distracted, well…. I can’t believe he’s almost five months old. We were experimenting with selfies this morning and it seems he rather likes them.

menandgeep

When Real Life bursts your Bubble

Apparently it’s almost three months since I posted anything here and I suspect a similar duration since I last logged into Warcraft. I haven’t been cheating on WoW with any exciting new games, in fact I haven’t even finished Dragon Age Inquisition yet… I got as far as seducing Cullen and then stopped. As it happened Real Life caught up with me fast:

geep

Our son made his arrival into this world in a rather unplanned and exceptionally messy way, fingers crossed his bedroom as he grows will not reflect this. I will spare you all the gory details however there were parts when Mr Harpy thought he would be leaving the Maternity Hospital to organize two funerals. On the plus side, hospital food was marginally better than I had been led to believe and nitrous oxide is a wonderful thing or at least it was until I starting seeing snakes wrapped around my thighs (the hospital assures me they don’t have bright green anacondas working in the labour ward although…).

At the moment I’m learning to adjust and deal with the fact that everything I own is covered in milk but my intention is to re-discover my WoW subscription sometime soon, ideally when I’ve had a bit more sleep and see how things have changed since I last logged in.

 

TL;DR

I’ll be back.

Books for Halloween – My Favourite Spooky Reads

As autumn bleeds into winter, my thoughts tend to turn to dark and scary things. By five at night, we’re already starting to lose the light and by six it’s pitch black outside with the street lamps throwing pockets of orange light into the shadows. Inside where it’s warm and light, I like to sit by the window and read about ghosts, vampires and the monsters under the bed (although given all the other stuff under ours, it would be a very small monster, pocket sized in fact). I don’t really have Halloween movies, although I do tend to like watching Sleepy Hollow and the Nightmare Before Christmas around now, instead I have Halloween books that I pull out and scare myself with.

halloween 011

So in no particular order here they are:

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Fair enough, this isn’t particularly scary but feeds into my love of vampires and witches. Plus humour helps dilute the fear a touch.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

I first read this as a young girl, maybe early teens but I suspect a bit earlier and was terrified by it. One particular part left a lasting impression on my mind and it’s now one of my favourite books for snuggling up under a duvet and reading, assuming of course I’m not alone in the house.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I read this for the first time during High School French. My teacher at the time apparently had better things to do than teach us and so I and the girl I shared a desk with spent our fourth year reading our way through Stephen King. Reading under the bright classroom lights was one thing, but walking the mile and a half home in the dusk another altogether. Instead of taking my usual short cut through the park and along the river bank, I almost ran the long way under street lights just in case.

IT by Stephen King

I still make sure my hair is safely tucked out of the way before I lean over any plug hole thanks to this book. The idea of anything being able to see our darkest fears and use them against is terrifying enough but somehow King manages to make it extra frightening right from the first few pages.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Whilst I like the all novels in this particular series, the first one stands out perhaps because it was the first one I read, anyway you can’t go wrong with a spin on the Dracula story.

The October Country by Rad Bradbury

Nothing beats creepy short stories for those quick bursts of heart pumping fear between chores.

From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

In all Bradbury’s stories about the Elliott family, I can’t shake that feeling of familiarity. No, my nearest and dearest aren’t mummies, ghosts or vampires but they are eccentric, strange and oddly fond of once living animals now stuffed and inanimate. Somehow the family dynamic is similar although my Grandmama doesn’t just come out at Halloween.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

This is the book I always imagined reading to my children on Halloween, when their sated with sweets and the candle burns low in the Jack O’Lantern.

The Mistletoe Bride by Kate Mosse

The first story in this collection reminds me so much of the ghost stories of my childhood, whispered undercover of darkness by my Grandmother and my Great Grandmother.

 

There are others, books which somehow catch the edge of what frightens me, the darkness inside not out, that send a tingle of fear tripping down my spine but these are my favourites. That said, I’m always on the look out for more books that make me curl up by the light so any suggestions of spooky things to read would be appreciated.

Fandom Friday – Gateway Fandoms That Made Me Who I Am Today

Flicking through Twitter yesterday I noticed that Neri of Mama Needs Mana had tweeted what looked like an interesting link to a blog I’d never heard of before. Needless to say I went to have a look and immediately loved the idea proposed by the Nerdy Girlie. Lists are one of my great passions, it’s not that I’m particularly organised but something about an ordered and bullet pointed collection of words which just sings to me. Plus I found the idea of Gateway Fandoms intriguing because I never identified as Geek during my childhood / teenage years despite having some truly geeky interests. So to start at the beginning:

1. 2000AD

My Father thought that Televisions make you fat and lazy, thus we didn’t have one (although the second I left for University… what did they buy?). Instead I played outside, I built things (mostly forts), I sewed and I read anything I could get my hands on. I quickly decided that Mandy and other “girl” comics were too juvenile for me and aged around 8 or 9 I spread my comic reading wings and fell head over heels in love with 2000AD. Luckily other than making pronouncements like TVs are bad, my parents paid very little attention to my choice in reading matter because reading = good regardless of subject or quality. It wasn’t just Judge Dread or Judge Anderson although I had definite crushes on both at various points but the art work and the whole feel of the comic. It inspired me in the art work I submitted at school and pushed me think outside the bubble in which I existed. I still have most of my comics from that period because I just can’t bring myself to throw them out and of course I’ve watched both Judge Dread movies although I was disappointed about the portrayal of Anderson in the last one.

2. Star Trek

As my father was in the Air Force, the only colour which mattered was Blue and I think the world which Roddenberry envisioned had many similarities to the one I thought I grew up in. A world where women could be pilots and where you came from was less important in the grand scheme when compared with the choices you made. Then when I discovered the harsh reality of the world around us, Star Trek made even more sense to me. I grew up in Germany and given that we lived in a German town not on an Air Force base had a variety of friends. These were other Service kids, local Germans and the children of Turkish workers. Now unsupervised we all got on fine but add in parents and things got messy fast. Most of the German parents didn’t want their children hanging out with the Turkish children and most of the Turkish parents didn’t want their children hanging out with anyone who wasn’t Turkish. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement and of course had us children wishing for a world where being human was enough, thus we searched for sanctuary amongst the many worlds of Star Trek and got good at deceiving authority, after all.. the needs of the many (us) outweighed the needs of the few (the parents who had issues).

3. Gothic Literature

dracula

Dracula, Carmilla, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Wuthering Heights.. These novels heavily influenced my early forays into dating as well as fascinating me on much deeper level. Was Stoker’s attempt at creating a monster who feeds of  the life blood of his peasants before retreating to the safety of his castle a dig at the Angl0-Irish landowners for example or is it just what it’s presented as.. either way it’s a brilliant read and has spawned so many wonderful things. At Halloween, I still like to bring my battered old copy of Dracula out and read it even though I know exactly what’s going to happen. I think those early reading experiences also had a marked impression on what I like to read today, as I’m drawn to books like Kim Harrison’s The Hollows collection and well anything with ghosts or vampires in it. I think I owe my fascination with the Day of the Dead and with Halloween to my love of the Gothic too. Without these stories I wouldn’t have carted a five foot wooden skeleton across the Atlantic nor have almost as many Halloween decorations as I do Christmas ones.

4. Pre-Raphaelite  Art

In many ways this is similar I suppose to my love of the Gothic but those paintings get inside your head and make you see the world differently, at least they did for me. They made me realise that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and that all too often we don’t see what’s right in front of us. The four core and founding beliefs behind the movement should inspire us still today:

  1. to have genuine ideas to express
  2. to study nature attentively, so as to know how to express them
  3. to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote
  4. most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues

and they certainly played a role in my development.

5. World of Warcraft

Without WoW this blog wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t have encountered so many interesting and passionate people. The game has pushed me creatively and mentally in so many ways, from sewing my own Tree of Life and managing to sustain writing which despite my love of it has proved remarkably hard given my mental state over the last few years.

Nostalgia – That Bittersweet Pill

Nostalgia is a funny thing. In someways those first few years playing WoW were my happiest, playing with a stable group of people, raiding high end content and generally enjoying myself.Yet when I unpick those memories most of them aren’t hugely happy ones. I’ve certainly been left wary of trusting others, of fully engaging with my current guild because of things which have gone before.

WoWScrnShot_091214_153200

I’ve just spent the afternoon running UBRS remembering how much I loathed the place when it was current content, when the General only dropped one blood and therefore you had to run it over and over again to get your whole raid attuned for Blackwing Lair. I remember having to solo heal it one day in a raid of 15 because the other Priest took offense when someone linked the healing meter (not me) and set out to smite the rest of the run. The wipes because people adored hugging the whelps or being knocked off various ledges and edges. The fights we would have to convince the rest of the group that they’d should do Solakar Flamewreath because Priests deserved a shot at their dungeon set shoulders just like everyone else. Then there was the night we had to go and rescue a guildmate who joined an UBRS raid three or four hours before hand so that he could raid with us the following night and when he finally asked for help, they’d only made it as far as the Rookery… I think I still have nightmares about that PuG.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of WoW, I find myself questioning why I’m still here, why I haven’t learnt from past mistakes and run away as fast as my legs would carry me.  There are plenty of decisions the Developers have made which have left me rolling my eyes but the flip side of that is they’ve also done things I love, Hallows End and Ulduar being prime examples. Besides if they always got it right for me, they would be no doubt a fairly large subsection of people criticizing that because they just don’t like or enjoy the same things as me. Yes it’s a balancing act but it’s not as simple as say deciding not to read a book because either things contained within the text revolt you or you just think a five year old could produce more literary merit. Take Fifty Shades of Grey for example, a friend gave me the first one stating I’d love it. I read the first few chapters in a mix of disgust and horror, imagining Thomas Hardy rolling in his grave and made a conscious decision not to purchase any of her books. WoW on the other hand is more than just a game, it’s a community, something which inspires and pushes me. Do the pluses out way the negatives, I’d argue yes they do at least in my current circumstances as I sit here trying to figure out a way of coping with ante-natal depression and what comes after. Besides, I think there is hope for WoW. People can and do change their minds and their perspectives, it’s just about keeping the dialogue going in such a way that everyone can engage with it. After all, when someone creates something and pushes it out into the Public view then they have to expect criticism. I read English Literature at University and that’s pretty much all we did, unpick other people’s words trying to get inside their heads. Art History contains a fairly hefty criticism component. We have book reviews, Food critics and people who write about the Theatre so why should the Gaming Industry expect to be any different?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,493 other followers