My Rx for a Better Day

Of course, we all have a secret side that we would only expose to a stranger. It is too personal for family and friends. This blog is very cathartic no matter what is happening. It can be something really mundane. For example, I can have a bad day over something trivial and it really gets to me. Doesn’t that happen to you? You want to bury your head in the sand, cry in your pillow, or scream in the shower. We all have our ways of coping. I have a self-care regime that helps me get over the daily ups and downs, and even the traumas, of life. Most of the time things are good, but then…something hits the fan.

The first thing I recommend is to get some music fast and find the earbuds. I like AX7. After an hour or more, I jump in a hot shower to rinse off the residue of the day. Thank goodness I have a new tankless water heater that supplies what I need for as long as I want. Hot showers are irresistible and you never want to get out. So there is my Rx for a better day: your favorite tunes and a stimulating shower. Now add something good to eat. Some go for a nice glass of wine accompanied by a gourmet plate of cheese and crackers. Others wolf down the sweets when they are really taxed. I like to cook as it is relaxing and distracting. I am too busy looking for the right seasonings to mull over the bad stuff of the day. When people irritate me, I don’t like to remember it when I get home. Try my “recipe” for a true escape and find yourself in a better mood in no time flat.

Red Dwarf

Do you watch Red Dwarf? If not, you really should. It’s hilarious. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be the last person in existence or be trapped alone in space, you will like this show. They don’t really make an attempt to be accurate as far as I can tell, but the characters are more realistic than you usually see those shows. Just about everyone on the average spaceship is smart and completely capable. They’re also pretty much always stoic and brave. That’s not reality. And that’s not Red Dwarf, either. These characters are cowards for the most part, prone to sarcasm, and don’t always get along.

I feel like that is how I’d behave if I were trapped in space with a cat-humanoid, a hologram of a dead person, and a bunch of GELFs, androids, and Simulants for company. Just about anybody would lose their mind a little given the circumstances.

My favorite character is Lister (with Cat a close second, because I like cats and the idea of a cat-human is great). I identify with him, and Craig Charles is a great actor who plays the part really well. For example, when you find out that he used to work at a supermarket but left because it started to feel like a career – I get that. I hate thinking about the future when the present is so hard to deal with. I also pretty much would have acted the same way with Kochanski when she was alive, I do the same things with my crushes. Luckily, I’ve had better chances to get more than 173 words in with them. Plus I wouldn’t mind buying a farm on Fiji and breeding horses while hanging out with my cat. Or selling hot dogs or doughnuts. As long as I was in Fiji, I think I’d be fine.

My favorite episode is “Timeslides.” It is a bit confusing, since it is one of those back-in-time alternate reality episodes, but this one lets him go back to his old self and prevent him from going into space in the first place. He lives a pretty great life, but you realize that if Lister wasn’t around, Kryten does not get rescued and that Cat never exists. Good old stupid Rimmer ruins everything and changes the timelines so that everything goes back to the way it was, and that’s that. It’s the kind of thing that would probably happen to me. I’d have a much better life if I could go back in time and tell myself not to make some of the decisions I’ve made.

Sure with a show that spans as long as Red Drawf has, there were bound to be some plot points ignored or reconfigured. It happens. Don’t overthink it, and more importantly, don’t be a smeghead. Go watch Red Dwarf. Just watch out for those despair squids.

Best Band Ever: Avenged Sevenfold

Sometimes you find music that speaks to you. You no longer feel invisible or alone. For me, that music comes from a few places. But none more than A7X.

Things that have happened to me have changed me. They have not all been great things but on my better days, I know that they have made me who I am and that I can learn from – and survive – almost anything. A7X has been through some stuff too, and they’ve come out the other side changed and stronger as well. They started as a mostly metalcore band. Their first three albums, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, Waking the Fallen, and City of Evil are all pretty metal. However, they are so talented and so confident in their skills that they are able to branch out. They have since shown off a cool mix of other influences – gothic rock, country music, and hip hop, for example. If you’ve never listened to them before and really want an idea of how awesome they are, I recommend starting with Nightmare (you can work your way backwards and forwards from there).

Nightmare is both hard to listen to and great at the same time. It is the first album they recorded without The Rev playing drums on every song. If you were a fan of the band back then, you know how much it hurt to lose such a talent and huge part of the band. The last song he wrote, Fiction, is one of my favorites. The whole thing is clearly a tribute to a dear friend. It amazes me that they were strong enough to put out such quality work when they were so clearly hurting, and it comes out through the entire record. While other band members came and left (Matt Wendt and Dameon Ash, for example, or the addition of Synyster Gates), it was nothing like what happened when The Rev died. While I like it, I do have to say that I avoid it when I am really sad because sometimes it makes it feel worse.

The Stage, which came out in 2016, goes more metal and is the concept album they’ve wanted to do for years. It’s all about artificial intelligence, nuclear war, the end of society and space. It is fantastic. I mean, that astrophysicist, Neal DeGrasse Tyson even gets an appearance. On a metal album! How cool is that?!? I love the song, ”The Stage”.  It reminds me that I am not the only one who feels the way I do. I especially like when he says the lines about the walking apes keeping score through nuclear war. I wish we didn’t have weapons like that didn’t exist either. What’s the point of being able to wipe somebody off the earth when you’re destroying the place we all live at the same time? I don’t get it.

All this talking about A7X has made me want to go watch a few videos. I’ll write more later.

Thoughts on the Tomb Raider Reboot

Has everyone run out of original ideas? Is this what we’ve come to? No offense to the actors and crew of the reboot for Tomb Raider, but come on. Is there a point where people come up with something else or the cow runs out of milk?

First it was a great video game franchise. Guys liked it because it was awesome and she was hot. Girls liked it because you could actually play as a female in a video game. Then Angelina Jolie appeared on movie screens everywhere as Lara Croft in the flesh. She was Lara Croft. She was smart and fierce and sexy, and she went from being labeled a moody, difficult actress to a blockbuster lead who had serious action hero skills.

Watching those Tomb Raider movies now is sort of like looking at pictures of yourself in middle school. A little embarrassing that people went so crazy over them. What were we all thinking? You realize just how far CGI and green screens have come. Whereas before you were thinking wow, how did they do that? Now you’re thinking, I could probably create these effects on my phone, nevermind needing an actual hardcore computer with expensive graphics processors and fancy programs. Come on. That fight with the statues? Ugh.

So I guess that’s why somebody out there decided they needed to make another film, based on two dated films and an animated series that were based on a successful video game franchise (after a hiatus, another will be released toward the end of 2018). Because the technology is better now and they could do it right, I guess. I mean, they rebooted the video game series in 2008, so why not the films too?

Personally, I think they should leave well enough alone. There are the video games, the spin-off games, the novels and comics, and the two original movies. What other stories were there left to tell that you couldn’t create a brand new character for? Why keep trading on the Lara Croft identity and goodwill created by the Tomb Raider name?

I saw the reboot when I had nothing better to do. I thought Alicia Vikander did a good job, but would have been more believable if she had been anyone other than Lara Croft. It was a little farfetched (but so were the others) and there was a lot of nonsense in it (see above). But whatever, it’s an action movie. You don’t watch those for the plot. You watch them for the ass kicking and effects. It had that. It was fine that way, and used the film and technology advances since the original films to its advantage. Looking at it objectively, it set the origin story up a little better and made more sense, in a way. But still, I was bored. I don’t remember being bored with the original series. I don’t know if it was the actors or the plot or what. It was just…boring.

If they had called it something else and given the main character a different name, I think it would have been better received and more people would have liked it – or at least been interested to see it.

What I Do When I am Depressed

I hate that I get depressed. I hate feeling so worthless, unloved, and incapable of doing anything. I see a therapist now and while I can’t stop myself from getting depressed, I have tools now that help manage things.

First, I remind myself that it isn’t real. Depression lies. I am not the things that the voice inside my head tells me. That doesn’t always work, so then I focus on basic self-care skills. When I say basic, I mean basic. Like I make sure I am eating something healthy, even if it is just a sandwich and a piece of fruit. I force myself to get in the shower and wash my hair. I brush my teeth. I put on clean clothes. Even if that is all I have the energy to do. And if I don’t have the energy to do that stuff, then I nap. I will take small naps to be sure that I can try to sleep at night. If I am having trouble sleeping, I take some melatonin at night. That usually helps me stay on a day/night wake cycle and prevents insomnia. Proving that I can take care of myself does make me feel a little better.

Once I have established that I can take care of myself, I’ll try to do something that has made me happy in the past. This might be as simple as looking through pictures on my computer or watching a funny movie. It does not have to take a lot of energy to do, which at that stage is usually a good thing.

If I can manage it, the next thing I try is some exercise. If it is nice out, maybe I will go for a walk. If it is not, I might try some yoga. Sometimes all I can deal with is a change of scenery and some good music in my headphones. But getting out of my apartment can sometimes get me out of my own head a little, and that can help. Again, it isn’t a cure, but it can lift my spirits.

Then I will usually reach out to a trusted friend. Not everyone is great with dealing with me when I am like this, so I try not to take advantage of the few that know to say, “Hey, I’ll come over with some ice cream and we’ll watch Red Dwarf,” without expecting too much from me in return. Reaching out can be the hardest part. If I don’t have the courage to reach out to a friend or family member, I will contact my therapist. I know she’ll listen even if it is just because I pay her. And she can help me work through what I am feeling.

When I don’t feel like I can do any of these things, I will stay in my bed and listen to music. I repeat to myself that eventually, I will start to feel better. And when I am ready, I start with my checklist again.

So that’s what I do when I am depressed. It doesn’t always work, but I like having a list of things to try. What about you? What do you do?

Silent Hill

I can’t say that I am a real gamer. First person shooter games tend to make me sick to my stomach due to the visuals.  I’m terrible at side-scrolling games that involve lots of jumping, and puzzle games get repetitive. So I used to shy away from most games. However, I discovered that I do like horror games. I feel like a coward most of the time in real life, and if you know me you can attest to my many phobias. I feel so much braver in the digital world. One of my favorite horror video game series is Silent Hill. It’s not really a gore-centric kind of thing like slasher flicks. It’s more psychological, focusing more on surviving, and it really works. The are fun but scary and sometimes the gameplay sort of lingers in your head long after you put the controller down.

Silent Hill is a made-up town in the US. It seems like your classic small town that everyone would imagines is a picture perfect and magical place in the world to live, but it isn’t (Silent Hill at least, I can’t speak for other small towns. Maybe there are small towns that are magical and perfect places to live, I have no idea). There is a malevolent power lurking in the town that makes your thoughts a reality. While it wasn’t always a bad force, like everything else, it has been corrupted and is now evil. There’s The Order, which is a made-up religious cult that plays on the fears people have of religious orders, The Nurses (which play on peoples’ fear of hospitals and being sick), and Pyramid Head, a monster that has evolved as the series has.

I was hooked from the original game — I love that there are different endings depending on how you play. I wish more games did that. I think it gives them more playability than games you just “beat” after the final boss level. I like how that is something they thought important enough to continue throughout the series, even incorporating “joke” endings in to the series sometimes.

There are different protagonists throughout the series, but the town and many of the other characters are similar or the same throughout. Most of the time, the protagonist is lured to the town because someone they love is missing, or the town has mysteriously drawn them there.

I like the first three games the best. After that, they got a little more combat-reliant and less horror-centric. Of the later games, Shattered Memories is probably my favorite, as it is a Wii system reboot of the first game. I didn’t get a chance to play the original version of P.T., which has always made me mad – it was supposed to be the absolute best and it died when they cancelled Silent Hills. But you can play remakes of it that fans have done – there’s one called Corridors and another that was remade by a fan from Reddit, who used pieces pulled from the original game.

If you’re interested in horror games and have never given them a shot, consider doing so. Happy gaming, and don’t stay up too late playing!