Games I’m Playing: Stardew Valley

 

Recently I got into Stardew Valley. If you don’t know what it is, it’s like Harvest Moon upgraded and better. If you don’t know what Harvest Moon is, it’s basically a farming/rural life RPG. It started at the beginning of July when I decided to give it a whirl via Steam Family Sharing; my husband had a copy and I didn’t.

I quickly became very addicted, so at the beginning of August when we had a little extra money, I bought the game for myself so I could stop stealing my husband’s copy. This is beneficial, because with Steam Family Sharing you can only use someone else’s games if they’re not using any of their games — which meant I could only play when my husband wasn’t home, and that started a bad spiral of MUST CRAM IN AS MANY HOURS AS POSSIBLE BEFORE HE RETURNS FROM WORK.

Now that I own the game, I can play whenever I want and not worry about kicking him off his games.

I don’t know why Stardew Valley is so addictive. Maybe it’s the peaceful music, or the simulation of rural life in a small village where everyone knows your name. Maybe it’s because life is easy in Stardew Valley; so much easier than adult life in the real world.

Continue reading Games I’m Playing: Stardew Valley

Can we talk a bit about chronic illness?

Specifically, acid reflux. I want to talk about my reflux.

I’ve been holding back so much from my public life. I’ve stopped blogging here almost completely because I always feel that any post here has to fit my “brand” — whatever my brand is. I think the problem became me trying to fit myself into some mold I’m not; trying to always be camera-ready, even in my writing.

When I first started blogging I talked about everything that was going on in my life. I didn’t hold back. Over time I decided there were some things I’d prefer to keep private, but generally I still blogged about my life. And then I became a writer, and suddenly I needed a writing blog.

I’m tired of this. I’m tired of feeling like every post here has to relate somehow to writing or reading or literature or just “My life as a writer” as if that is separate in any way from the rest of my life. I’m tired of feeling like there needs to be a theme for my blog. There is a theme: me. There is a brand: a genderqueer, disabled, chronically and mentally ill writer who tries to pen books when zie’s not feeling like absolute crap, and who has fucking had it with the stigma around talking about one’s illnesses.

So today I want to talk about reflux. Warning: this post will contain some graphic description of the effects of acid reflux. Not recommended for emetophobes.

Continue reading Can we talk a bit about chronic illness?

I should probably post something here

Just so you all know I’m not dead.

I know, I haven’t posted in over a month, and now I am posting it’s just a boring general update on my life, not something fascinating about the backstory of Athering.

I apologize.

I’ve been fighting off illness, physical and mental, for most of February and March, and been finding it really hard to keep my focus. Even now I’m getting distracted, looking away, letting my attention wander, obsessively checking Kitten Clicker to see if there’s a new astronomical event I can observe and make a star chart from (there isn’t).

Yesterday I decided that cleaning up and reorganizing my office/the guest bedroom would help me focus better, because the mess has been distracting. It’s true the mess has been distracting, and I do feel better now that I’ve taken the first step to cleaning. Of course, there are still a million steps, and I’m sitting here trying to convince myself to do some actual work before tackling the mess again. It’s going to take me several days to finish it, so there’s no need for it to be the first thing I work at every day.

All this is to say: I have no idea what to write about here. Or, I have ideas, I just haven’t had the focus to sit down and get them done.

I don’t know where my focus went. I wish it were something simple, like I’ve been off my meds and just need to start taking them again, but that’s not it. I’ve been taking my meds faithfully for a while now. I just…can’t concentrate. It might be a symptom of absolute overwhelm. Whenever there’s too much on my plate (as there is now) my brain just sort of…shuts down. It won’t focus on what needs to be done, what’s priority; it’ll just grab onto random passing thoughts and run with them. Which is why I find myself doing low-priority things first, because they’re easier, and I can convince myself I’m being truly productive because hey, that thing I’m doing is on the list. Somewhere near the murky bottom, but still on the list.

So I think what I’m getting at with this post is that I need to reduce my stated posting schedule here until my current state of overwhelm is relieved a bit. Posting once a week would be awesome, but it’s apparent I just can’t manage it at the moment, and every week I miss I feel guiltier and guiltier until I’m stuck in a shame-spiral that won’t end. Well, time to end the shame-spiral because it’s not doing anyone any good. I’m going to post here once a month, on a topic related to the worlds I write in — character snapshots, backstory, maybe unpublished myths, who knows. Stuff like that.

Reducing my posting commitment here, for now, will lower my stress levels and allow me to finish other projects — like proofing the paperback copy of The Jade Star of Athering, which really should have been done this week, and would have, probably, had there not been a TON of errors for me to correct (because I apparently misplaced my brain when I did the layout). New goal: end of the month.

Other projects I should be focusing on? Writing the third book in The Third Age, Anala, as I have a self-imposed deadline of April 12 to finish the first draft. Going to have to pull out the big guns to make that happen: coffee IVs and huge sacrifices to the Mousai. (Only half-kidding.)

Then there’s this month’s episode of Fifty Shades of Drinking; finishing the cleaning of the office; finishing last year’s taxes; re-organizing my pantry and cleaning my kitchen; doing my filing (a Sisyphean task); and oh, did I mention, wedding planning? Yeah. Getting (officially) married in 7 months and am super behind on that. Go me.

Adulting is super difficult and the benefits don’t always outweigh the costs. If you’re a kid reading this, take my advice: don’t grow up. Run away to Never Never Land and just stay a kid forever. MUCH BETTER CHOICE.

Anyway. I’m off to work some more on The Jade Star of Athering, and if I don’t post again this month (with something actually about Athering or something) then I will see you in April.

-Katje

How Do I Adult?

If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?

365 Writing Prompts

Being an adult.

Seriously. I’m 27 and I haven’t figured out how to adult. I can barely function each day doing the bare minimum of required things to keep my life from falling apart, and honestly? I often don’t make the bare minimum.

I suck at keeping my house clean, or making three meals a day. Half of this is chronic illness and lack of spoons, but the other half is just not having the skills or habits down pat that would make it easier. Instead of doing a little bit each day, I’ve been stuck in a marathon/do nothing cycle for a long time. Place gets really messy? I do a marathon cleaning session of 13 hours which then kills me and I end up sleeping it off for several days. Then I don’t keep it clean, because I haven’t actually accumulated any habits — it’s easy to say to myself “Once it’s clean I’ll keep it that way, because I’ll want it to be clean!” The second part is true, but the first part isn’t.

The mess accumulates for ages, and then I do another marathon session. Which, in itself, is a habit — a bad one.

I need to learn to do several bursts of 15 or 20 minutes of cleaning each day. You can get a lot accomplished in 20 minutes. I need to learn to take breaks. And I need to drop my obsession with perfectionism.

Only then will I have any chance of being an adult.

Luckily, I’ve found some tools to help me, thanks to friends who let me know about them. The first is Unfuck Your Habitat. UFYH gives you a bunch of tools to help form habits of cleanliness. It’s sort of similar to FlyLady, except that UFYH doesn’t make me want to punch something. (FlyLady is great for those it’s great for; I’m not one of those people. I find myself rolling my eyes at most of what she suggests, and I’ve never stuck with the plan for more than a few days.)

Instead of shining your sink as a first step, they suggest making your bed — a lot more doable, honestly, and it makes more sense. A shiny sink doesn’t motivate me to clean more in the house. A made bed does.

They recommend 20/10s or 45/15s — 20 (45) minutes of cleaning followed by a 10 (15) minute break. I do something a bit modified: 15 minutes of cleaning, followed by a very long break — but I strive to do at least 4 sessions of 15 minute cleaning sprints each day. The break has to be long, because 15 minutes puts my back into a lot of pain.

The other thing that helps me, which ties into the UFYH fundamentals I’m trying to employ, is HabitRPG. I joined this site a long time ago when it was still really buggy, and ended up giving up on it. No idea what my username was, so I created a new one. It’s not super buggy anymore and it’s really helping me get my shit together. I’m already level 3!

HabitRPG is, basically, living your life like it’s a video game (RPG = role-playing game) — you get experience and gold for completing your tasks and forming good habits. With gold, you can purchase rewards — either things they have for sale in the item store, or meatspace things for which you set the price.

Here’s a screenshot of my homepage on HabitRPG. You can see I have several habits set up — I hit the plus signs whenever I make them — several dailies, or things that must be accomplished every day, and a to-do list, the items on which don’t have a default due date (you can set due dates individually, however). You can also add checklists to each big project to break it into manageable chunks.

Screen shot 2014-01-22 at 3.19.01 PMThere are also words in blue at the top — those are tags. I tag each thing I add to my list of habits, dailies, or to-do, and then if I need to see what I need to do for just that area, I can click the tag at top and only those tasks will show up. It helps if I want to focus on one thing for a while.

You might notice I have “Eat Breakfast” and “Eat Lunch or Dinner” on there. That’s because it’s difficult for me to remember to have actual meals and I didn’t want to overdo it by forcing myself to have 3 a day. So long as I have breakfast and one other meal, whether lunch or dinner, I consider that a success.

My health bar is full because I had a perfect day yesterday and completed all my tasks. If I don’t complete all my dailies, I get health penalties.

You can take some days off if needed; there’s a tavern where you can rest for a while in case of vacation, sudden illness, etc.

Your avatar is completely customizable and later on you can unlock classes and more customizations. There are guilds and parties — I’m part of a private guild of friends from a forum I’m on, but there are tons of public ones focused on common interests and things. You can be part of as many guilds as you wish.

There are challenges and quests you can complete, and achievements. I think there are boss battles too but I’m not that far yet.

Basically, it’s just like a real RPG — one that improves your life as you play.

Now that I’m armed with UFYH and HabitRPG, I feel a bit better about mastering the skill of adulting. I feel like adulting might actually be within my grasp…in a few years. (All things in good time and/or moderation.)