Monday, July 24, 2017

Feeling cautiously optimistic about life.  Let's keep this update short and to the point.

Ludum Dare is coming up this weekend!  I'll be making my "In" post at some point, maybe later today.

Have another small art project that I need to get done in the next 5 days.  I already started on it and I think it's going to turn out well!  It actually came at a great time and I'm feeling very hopeful about it.  I was working on it on the train a bit this morning already.

This month is rather slow in terms of music-making but I still actually put in a decent number of hours this past weekend, making another Potpourri mashup and also remastering the other 3 old ones that I've already made.  I strung all four of them together and put them up here, if you'd like to stream a whole bunch of chiptune goodness.

JaSmix is confirmed for August 12th and things are coming along nicely -- only one or two more logistical things to iron out, but I think it'll all end up working out, phew.  I still have to sit down and really prep for my workshops but there's no real point in trying to do that until after Ludum Dare.  But I can at least start preparing music beforehand, I guess.

There's some other stuff, but that's the main gist of it...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Life seems a bit scary to me right now.  Despite getting enough sleep, I felt a lot of weight pressing down on me today.  I don't know where it is from, but I felt really sad because of it.

Wish for you to keep me safe.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pragmatism is my jam!!!  Let's get things done, yo

Looks like Soundcloud is finally (?) going under for real this time and...I feel a little guilty for saying this, but I'm actually somewhat glad.  Not that it was a bad platform or anything, but just...SoundCloud was always the platform that I had the most trouble managing, and to be honest anyone who listens to my music would be better off going to Bandcamp (which is the REAL site that I want people to go to) or even YouTube for streaming.  As good as I am at managing multiple platforms, I think it's a win for me if the amount of fragmentation is reduced.  Of course, if all those people end up just running off to Spotify instead that's a different story, but...what can you do.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

OneShot

Well, I finished OneShot (and Solstice).  What a game...very similar to Undertale in what it manages to achieve, both in terms of player connection with characters and world, and in narrative direction.  Both have their own merits, of course.  But yeah...OneShot.  It was certainly worth every minute.  I'd recommend it highly.

It's been a while...

Quite a lot of things happened, I feel like.  I've been doing well in general, but the past few days haven't been very great -- just in terms of a general feeling.  Pretty sure it's just stress...I can feel it in my chest sometimes.  Annoying...

I made an effort to get some additional sleep last night and almost succeeded but I think something ended up waking me up and it wasn't quite a success.  So I didn't end up waking super easily, but on the plus side at least I don't feel lackluster in terms of energy level, so that's definitely a start.

I've been doing a pretty good job of bringing food to work almost every day (though I didn't yesterday).  It feels great knowing that I'm saving money by making my own food...initially the reason that I wanted to cook lunch for myself at least once a week was just because I like making my own food, but after a while every time I went out to buy something for lunch I kept thinking about how much more expensive it was and decided that I'd do something about it.

JaSmix date still isn't solidified, but I'm really hoping that it ends up working out.  Last Friday I worked out a bunch of my current toolbox of figures that I'd potentially go over in a workshop, which was quite interesting because I discovered that my leads on a lot of them actually are very imprecise in terms of timing and followers' footwork.  That's actually more or less fine in terms of just getting them to work, but it surprised me just how much I was glossing over even for figures that I do on a regular basis.  So I learned a lot there, though not necessarily things that I'd actually go over in the workshop itself.

Perhaps the most exciting thing happening right now in my life is OneShot, which has proven to be a real gem of a game.  Before I write anything about OneShot, though, I should take a moment to talk about Rakuen, which I played through and finished.  Rakuen was...honestly, kind of disappointing and overhyped.  Which is not to say that it wasn't enjoyable, and I think it had some nice moments, but I really don't feel like it was deserving of such high praise as I heard it lauded for.  I honestly felt like the game design as a whole wasn't as "clean" as it could have been and I think the storytelling in Kan Gao's games (To the Moon, Quintessence) was actually much better.  As a whole Rakuen was a lot more formulaic and played into many more RPG tropes (in a not so great way).  But I do think that it did some things right.  The way that you went around everywhere with Mom and could talk with her every so often was super nice and I think the relationship with Mom was actually really sweet and well-done.  The little stories that Sue shared with you too, I think that was another highlight of the game.  So I mean, it's not like Laura didn't put any heart into the game, or anything like that -- just that I feel like it definitely has its flaws too.  And I think that as artists we can try to hold ourselves to a better standard.  Ah, but of course, that's easier said than done.  Making games is difficult after all.

Speaking of which, I'm slowly making more progress on Rhythm Quest again.  So far I've added two additional enemy types and even designed a whole second level/song, which is great progress.  My next to-do items are dealing with the issue where the expected timing of the sword slash notes doesn't quite match up with what players are expecting visually -- probably because the sword slash animation extends a bit longer than the hitbox.  So I might need to adjust enemy placement a bit.  Also maybe toning down the difficulty of the second level.  Definitely a challenge to adjust difficulty for these things, but hopefully I can manage to get it right.  If nothing else I'm making sure to put a lot of checkpoints in the early levels, so that should help.

Anyways...OneShot.  I wasn't quite sure how much to expect out of it at first, but it's certainly managed to deliver in a big way.  It's reminiscent of Undertale in more ways than one, and so far I'm really appreciating almost everything about it, including both the storytelling and worldbuilding, as well as the narrative choices interwoven with player agency.  It's been quite tasteful and I'm really digging that.  I'd definitely recommend it.  It's something that has been something that I look forward to in my days, which is great.  The plot has been nothing short of gripping.  The emotional flow, too, has been really good.

Trying to get back in the swing of drawing again...I think I realized the thing I'm really interested in is drawing characters and cute things, so even just doodling things I think would be fun.

I released my "Sentience" album finally and it's been doing quite well so far!  I'm really happy with it and also pleased that other people seem to be enjoying it, even though it's not normal fare for me.  I'm also happy with how the CD prints turned out -- they look pretty cool!  Not really sure what is next for me in terms of music...to be completely honest I'm not in a great place to work on artistic things at the moment, though.  The anxiety that's in my chest is really not conducive for it. =(  Hopefully that can go away soon.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Core values

A friend of mine recently showed me a prompt about core values that I thought might be an interesting exercise to go through myself.  Here's the prompt:

Across cultures, religions and time itself, people have admired and aspired to the same universal values--among them integrity, generosity, courage, humility, compassion, loyalty, perseverance--while rejecting their opposites--deceit, greed, cowardice, arrogance, callousness, disloyalty and sloth. To begin to explore more deeply the values that are most compelling to you, we suggest that you set aside uninterrupted time to respond to the following questions:

- Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?
- Think of someone that you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you most admire.
- Who are you at your best?
- What one-sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in your life?

The end goal of all of this was to sift through and realize what "compelling values" you hold, but let's first sort through these bulleted questions, as they are not only related but also interesting in their own right.



- Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?

Already a tough one to answer!  I think the first and most obvious one that pops into my mind is one that I feel like I've been explaining and talking about with others a bit more nowadays -- that of my relationship with the past (of course, you know it had to be something to do with the past).  Specifically, what I learned through several life experiences -- that a lot of the time I cannot move forward in life if I feel that I am leaving something behind.  And moreover, the fact that I *need* to pay my respects to the past and feel connected to it.  This is something that I've struggled with my whole life because somehow the idea of change and loss is really hard for me to cope with, and I think things became a lot easier for me once I realized that even though nothing lasts forever and I will always lose things, it is still necessary for me to hang onto rememberances and try to retain what I can, as a coping mechanism.  And that to do otherwise casuses me great emotional distress.  This is basically the Kiki lesson, as she is the presence in my life that I associate most strongly with this question.  You could also call it the "Star" lesson.

I guess second would be that it's important to put yourself in healthy environments and good situations.  More specifically, that you don't have to (and shouldn't) subject yourself to suffering and sacrifices in order to do things that are worthwhile.  This one is the Marching Band lesson, basically.  I think growing up there were many many times when I was put into situations that were really toxic to my well-being, including but not limited to "bonding communication time" when I was at my most introverted and withdrawn states, being super super stressed out about band, and in general just dealing with a whole host of people who were not supportive to me.  I think with Marching Band in particular it was such a meaningful and important experience to me that I was totally willing to put myself through a lot for the sake of it.  However, later on in life it became apparent to me that there are many other things in life that are just as good without being toxic at the same time.  Basically, this lesson boils down into "treat myself right" and don't be in unhealthy relationships.

A third one?  I guess I would say just in general how to try to sympathize with others and not just see everything from my own point of view.  Basically...human connection.  I was terrible at this because I was always a super loner and really introverted as well not to mention I had a bit of a pride issue and stubborn streak.  So I think I was really judgmental and bad at seeing things from other points of view or even just respecting other people's different opinions or ways of being.  Part of this was also my upbringing because the examples that I grew up with did exactly this so I'm glad that I was able to realize that it is actually a big problem.



- Think of someone that you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you most admire.

All these multi-part questions!  I don't think this will be a single person but rather, spread across multiple people, as a more general thing.

I think one is the ability to be an "anchor" (no, not in the West Coast Swing sense...), or rather, that quality in people where no matter how many years go by it's still the same thing.  That seeing them again almost brings a sense of nostalgia, because they still are who they are.  Of course everyone has this to some extent -- it's not very often that people change in a very core way.  But certain people really make me feel it very clearly, and it feels super refreshing and actually gives me a really hopeful feeling, that something can stay so untouched amidst a world of such sweeping changes.

I think another is open-mindedness.  I think seeing people embrace new things and create meaningful life experience because of it is really inspiring to me, in large part because I prioritize comfort and routine so new things are really deprioritized in my life...so when I see other people having such success with them it sometimes really makes me think and make sure that I'm not just being complacent.  New things (Ne) is my weak point and I'm really bad at it but I'll never grow as a person without it.

Also, empathy and being able to understand, connect with, and help others.  As I mentioned above I am not really good at this but I actually value it a lot and I think it's really really inspiring when I see certain people being a positive presence in others' lives.



- Who are you at your best?

Comfortable and at peace!  I am living in my routine and doing the things that I am always doing.  Everything is "in its place" and because I feel so comfortable and "in my element" I actually feel more willing to try one or two new things.  Basically I am at my best when I feel like I am secure in my comfort zone and that is the time when I am willing to see what is outside of it.

At my best I think I am proactive in reaching out to people, 100% dependable, always following through with everything that I planned, and taking care of everything that needs to be taken care of.  I am reaching towards achievements and goals while at the same time being happy.  I am "in the zone".



- What one-sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in your life?

I donno...something about the past.  Or something artsy that has to do with the fact that I have finally "moved on" from life.  Like,

"Always" was what you said.
Except...
you also didn't stay.
You, who longed to be with the stars.

No...that's probably bad to put as an epitaph, huh. xD  Yeah, probably just something about the past.  But you know, as my best friend pointed out recently -- when I do have a tombstone, it will mean that I am part of the past, too.  I will finally be a part of that "past" that I am always looking back on.  If my soul still exists at that time, I feel that my entire perspective about everything will change so much.  But I guess that would be true for anyone.



To bring this back to core values, I think it's no surprise that the thing I value most in general is dependability, persistence, and loyalty -- or more specifically, a resistance to change.  Since a large part of my life seems to be centered around trying to keep things the same while coping with necessary change, it's extremely important for me to be able to stay the same as I once was, and to have people around who also would not change as well.  I think it is this value that drives many facets of my personality.  For example, one reason I seem to have such a diverse set of hobbies (music, games, dance, writing, art, blogging, calligraphy...) is because I don't want to drop any of them.  A lot of the time when I talk about being "true to myself" or "being Timmie" what I actually mean is staying consistent with what I have done in the past.  Not just because the past is important in an abstract sense, but because what I was in the past was =known to be good= and thus I begin to question any deviations from it.

The second thing that I seem to value is comfort.  This usually goes hand in hand with being consistent because for the most part what is consistent *is* what is comfortable.  But in general, making sure that one is taking care of themselves and putting themselves in good situations, as well as making time to stop and smell the roses.

A large part of my life actually revolves around finding a balance between persistence and comfort.  As I mentioned earlier the two are often synonymous, but oftentimes persistence dictates that I make sacrifices because keeping up a pattern can be difficult given varying circumstances -- after all, that is the whole reason why keeping patterns is hard in the first place!

For the most part I try to defer to remaining consistent, but I have definitely gotten into trouble with this and have needed to take a step back and recenter myself, especially when my persistence goals are unrealistic (writing Christmas letters to every single person I've ever written to???).  This is one of the reasons I value my best friend's company so much; because she helps me be more balanced in terms of letting go of my consistency in favor of comfort.

On the flip side, though, if I don't adhere to consistency enough it really does come back to haunt me.  I think this comes up in two main ways.  The most obvious one is that if I don't feel connected enough to the past, I just start thinking about it more and more and eventually become depressed and have to lose myself in it for awhile.  I think at its core this is just because I look backwards to the past to make sure that I am going in the right direction at the present.  If I find that I have strayed from the course drastically, it's really unsettling for me because I won't be able to stop looking at the path that I was on previously and remembering how good it was, and I'll really question everything I'm doing currently and why I gave up all that I had before.  The second way that consistency comes back to bite me is if I haven't been keeping up with a given thing -- like for example if I haven't worked on any game dev in a week or two, maybe because I'm feeling lazy or something.  When that happens it keeps on bugging me and if it continues you'll often hear me write about it in my blog or letters over and over again that I haven't done it in a while and need to get back to it.  Even when it's not something that I "have to do", it still feels like a responsibility to me because I don't want to drop anything.

And then I guess my third core value would be empathy and caring for others.  This is more of an aspiration than something that I actively feel like I have, but I think that when my first two values of consistency and comfort are in a good balance, that is usually when I start thinking more about my connections with others in a more truly empathetic way (or at least attempting to).  I think by far and large I actually defer to consistency in maintaining most of my friendships -- which basically means writing letters and messaging them with the same sort of small talk initiation all the time, for better or worse.  But I think there comes a point when I need to be a little more proactive and focused in order to really connect with people.

So there you have it: my three values are consistency, comfort, and empathy, in that order (not sure if those three words are the exact correct ones, but you get the idea).  In terms of MBTI, the first two are definitely my Si (introverted sensing) at work (consistency more than comfort) and empathy is my Fe (extraverted feeling).  Ti (introverted thinking) didn't really make an appearance at all, but Ne (extraverted intuition) actually did come up, because I mentioned I admire open-mindedness.  I don't think that's a core value for myself though.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

15 hours in and I've finally hit the end of the song I'm working on.  I can't wait to get this released.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An insane amount of effort has gone into this song so far, at least for my standards.  It's definitely going to be the capstone of the entire album, representing pretty much everything that I ever wanted to accomplish and achieve with it.  It's already been multiple sessions of working on it and it's still not at an end.  Might be close?  Not sure, it'll really depend on how the music decide to flow the next time I sit down.  I don't think the composition process has ever been so much of a "journey" for me though.  It's quite something.


This song is really good in a totally different way than the rest I've made.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bingo

Bingo! Jumping on the bandwagon with this...how much do you have in common with me? =)


Monday, June 19, 2017

When I think about my past, I am often filled with strong feelings of guilt or gratitude.  I can't help but echo those sentiments to the people who are involved, saying either "sorry" or "thank you".  It is not only a form of coping but also a way of honoring those memories.

Though it's important to not get "stuck" on the past, it is perhaps equally important to express one's feelings toward what has happened on their road to the present.  There was a video that I saw a number of years back about happiness and mindfulness/gratitude where people were asked to pick someone very important to them and write out why this person was so important.  The twist is that they then hand a phone to the subject and tell them to read their letter out loud to the person they wrote about.  You can sort of intuit what happens next, of course.  I think that is a sort of thing that I value -- the expression of these feelings.


Hour of Devastation previews have started and I just wanted to point out that the new "Afflict" mechanic that's in the set is basically exactly the same thing as the "Soul Drain" mechanic that I developed myself as an Orzhov mechanic in my custom "Return to Gatecrash" set.  See http://ddrkirbyisq.blogspot.com/2014/10/a.html for proof!

Not the first time that WotC has independently come up with nearly identical mechanics as I did (see Conspiracy 2).  Good to know that I was on the right track!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Overrated/Underrated Songs

I actually don't often get personal feedback on a specific level from other people on my music (besides generic "wow this is cool"), but as an artist I still definitely feel like some of my works are underrated or overrated.  And some are also "justly liked".  In this post I'll go through a handful of them.  Audio links included!


Overrated:

Probably the top offender here.  This is one of my most popular songs, but I really don't even like it that much.  It's one of those remixes where I think the original actually has a better feeling.  I think the main thing is the chorus -- the rearrangement is really uninspired and in general the chords used in the original don't really mesh with my general sense.  It's not even mixed that well -- this was in the old days back before I had the equipment to hear a lot of my mixing mistakes.  I remember having a lot of trouble getting a chorus that featured the original melody yet still sounded great.  Probably my favorite parts of the song are the ones where I was able to break free from the original -- specifically, the countermelody at 1:45, and the whistle lead at 2:23.  I will concede that the drum solo is pretty bangin though.

Once upon a time I thought this version of the song was okay but I really don't like it anymore...it's sooooo slow....really loses all the feel of the original song.

Might be a controversial one because this song IS actually quite good.  However I do think it might be a tad overrated, especially considering how well it's known.  The mixing actually has issues (again, this was before I got better at that), and overall the song isn't as "clean" as some of my newer works.  Comparing this to Illumination Reel, especially -- Illumination Reel takes the cake easily.

Underrated:

This song doesn't really seem to have been discovered by the general populace, I guess because it's not yet on youtube or soundcloud (something I can fix?), but I'm actually quite proud of it, especially the Dustforce OST-style first section and in general how I highlighted a subtle melody that was really good in the original.  This remix in general goes a lot of places and actually ends up being really interesting despite being over 7.5 minutes long!

Also another lesser-known song, but I just reallllly love the feel of the melody here.  The beat is jammin, even the chords are really good too.  There's really nothing to not like here.

Criminally underrated.  This is one of my proudest works ever!

Everyone likes Love Everlasting and this is more of the same!

This is hidden in my Ivory album but is actually one of the most poignant things that I've created.

Twin Wings (entire album)
Collaborating with A-zu-ra was great fun and there is actually a =lot= going on in this album.

I'm not actually sure if this is underrated or not but it's really good!  It's really chill, really happy, and sweet.  Like something super nostalgic.

This easily earned its place in my "Best of" album, despite being really out of place compared to all the other pumpin 9-bit tracks.

Justly liked:

Probably the first song that ushered in the "new era" of DDRKirby(ISQ) productions entirely.  I made this over 3 or 4 one-hour sessions and I can't believe how well it turned out.  This song has really stood the test of time, too.

Love Everlasting (entire album)
My most popular album -- it's actually a slight deviation from my usual style, believe it or not.  Not by much, of course, but rearranging aivisura's music really had me doing some things that I didn't normally do at the time -- which led to great things!  I had a lot of fun with this album and I think it pushed me to reach a little outside my comfort zone in a great way.

Maybe my proudest work to this date, or at the very least the most hype.  I really wanted to make something special for my Patreon supporters, and I think I really succeeded.  I love this song.

The best danceable waltz I've made.  Nuff said.

Out of all the irish/celtic style stuff I've made, this one definitely has the others beat.

A lot of people like this one and I actually agree.

I can't believe how much of a club banger I was able to make with this.  I don't really do much work with these sorts of tracks so the fact that I was able to have this much fun and awesomeness with these basslines and such was super awesome.

Cleeeaaannn.  The mixing and arrangement was way ahead of my time here, and the overall sound is just super crisp.  This song was the first dance song that I wrote and it really set the stage for everything else.  I kept on using this as a model to follow for creating waltz songs because it was so awesome.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Your presence keeps me safe.  Keeps me from feeling scared, though there is everything to be afraid of.


=====

"What is your goal?"

I'll be honest -- life hasn't been the greatest recently, as you may or may not have noticed already.  It's not anything poignant -- just a general down cycle, punctuated by some times when things are better; not too bad; even happy and exciting.  The thing that worries me most is that looking at it from an objective standpoint I do think that it has had a pretty high correlation with when I started having to commute so far.  But then again, there were other things that also changed in my life at that time as well.

I finished the Madoka series again -- what a great show.  Surprisingly, I actually had forgotten quite some powerful moments...I guess it has been quite a while, after all (or perhaps I didn't find them as powerful the first time around?).  I debated watching all 3 movies next, but I think for the moment I'm going to skip ahead to Rebellion as there aren't =too= many significant changes in the first two films to warrant it for now.  Perhaps after that, I'll go back to the movies, and then write some general reflections in terms of my thoughts and feelings.  I realized again that I'm actually pretty bad at discussing these sorts of things with other people and I'm not sure if it's because I'm just bad at explaining myself or because I'm just afraid of putting forth my own opinions...

Hyper Light Drifter is done done!  I didn't 100% it, but I actually got more than I thought I would -- I got all 8 modules in each of the four areas, and also found all the monuments.  I didn't do all the challenges and I'm still missing some upgrade bits and one last key, but I didn't really want to bother with those as I had gotten most of the "main" stuff and explored all the areas at the very least.  Good game!

Next could be OneShot, but I'm actually more looking forward to Rakuen, so I think I might go ahead and go through that next.

Of course, I can't forget mentioning Monument Valley 2, which -- surprise! -- just got released (wow!).  I'm waiting to sit down with that one and enjoy it fully when I have the chance.  Honestly, just seeing the trailer and knowing that that game exists restored some of my hopefulness in life in general.  Perhaps I just need more art in my life?

More food experiments!  A few weeks ago I experimented with some different cuts of meat, including a top blade/flat iron steak (was ok.  I also tried out the jaccard on it, which I can't tell whether was a good or bad idea), and a lamb flank steak (!), which actually turned out quite decently -- basically a lamb version of a steak.  I might have to try cooking flank steak a little more often -- I think it's good practice to experiment with these less pricey cuts, both for variety's sake and for my wallet's sake as well.  I've heard skirt steak can be pretty great too.

Just yesterday I fired up the Anova sous vide machine and used it to sous-vide some bratwurst sausages with beer, which I then seared over the stovetop (no grill for me!  That's foreign territory still).  Served it on toasted hot dog buns, along with whole grain mustard and beer-braised sauerkraut (plus a bit of bacon).  A very wholesome meal indeed, and the sausages were definitely very juicy.  Not bad!

Something else I realized is that some of my happiest times are in the grocery store, lol!  Somehow just being by myself and skipping along while thinking of what foods to get really makes me happy.  Maybe I'm destined to be a housewife...

=====

I was talking with my best friend the other night and I realized that one of the reasons that the blogging "audience" and social media audience in general that I find myself writing among has changed so much is not just that facebook and everything has exploded and has everyone and their mothers on it, but also that I no longer have a smaller exclusive group or community of peers that I can point to as my social media "community".  In high school it was actually a big thing to me, that me and my high school friends (and some not-yet-friends that I was able to connect with) had this online "space" where we could interact with each other.  Of course, many (but not all) of our xanga sites were public in the first place, so it's not like it was artificially restricted to just those people (and indeed that was part of the charm of it, that I could connect with people whom I only vaguely knew about), but the notion was still there.

Yet, I, along with many other people, have more or less lost that aspect of life and online presence now -- the idea of a tangible "cluster" of people.  It's not just a matter of social media changing and FB becoming...well, whatever you want to call it.  But now I have dance friends, college friends, friends from my past, friends of friends, ...

And of course I try to hedge myself in the other direction -- try to consciously retain =some= semblance of an "inner circle", but the reality is that that doesn't really exist anymore for me, not just online but in real life too.  Yes, I =do= have a collection of close friends that =I= feel comfortable sharing more details with, but those friends themselves often aren't connected to each other in the same way, let alone at all.  There's no one thing tying us all together, so of course it feels like less of a community.

Perhaps that itself is what I missed most about those days, is the feeling that it was a community of sorts.  The good news is that despite all this I'm sure those sorts of communities still exist, they're just harder to find and form.  But the herd of progress seems to be moving further and further away from it -- in the direction of scrolling tickers, feeds, reddit, tumblr, and twitch.

Meanwhile, I'll just be over here in the corner writing my snail mail...

Monday, June 5, 2017

I thank all of my friends who continue to make this life worthwhile.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Life is difficult enough as it is...
I guess we should try and put ourselves in spaces and situations where we are surrounded by supportive people, and try to be supportive ourselves.  Perhaps I have been underestimating just how important that is.

I'm feeling kind of "tired of life", right now, just sort of off of it.  Not from anything in particular, but just lots of little things.  Accumulated negativity, you could call it.

In other news, I'm working on putting all of my LD post-mortems on my website, and I've also been watching the Madoka anime again -- starting with the main TV series, which I'm already up to ep 9 on.  Also following through with analysis and commentary from the wiki too.  Maybe I'll write up some reflections once I'm done with it all.

But yes, somehow it feels as though there is really a lack of good energy in my life right now.  I think that's why it feels like I just want to be alone.

Are lambs better than people?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fanime 2017 Day 3 - Dance and Goodbye

My last day at con!

The day was =quite= a long one for me, as I started off by getting up early and having to pick up and drive parents from SF in the morning.  After that I went back home, packed up my stuff, put on some eyeliner, and headed back to con.

I didn't have much planned for the day, except I was supposed to drop in for a wcs private, and also play melee with Eddie.  So after I grabbed a sandwich from Subway (yep!  Still snuck in a visit to subway), I made my way over to the B&W ball room, where I met both Bleu and Eddie, and then worked on some WCS stuff.  It was a bit helpful I think -- not sure though, will have to practice it the next time I actually go WCS dancing.  Which I'm not exactly jumping out of my chair to do anyways...

After that I sat down there with Eddie and we played melee on my laptop for a while while they were teaching a bunch of group lessons in the room.  We played quite a bit, until eventually my laptop ran out of juice and that was that.  We made our way around to the Artist Alley where Eddie ended up buying two prints from the artist who work for this site.  Funnily enough I just looked them up and I have actually played one of their VNs a long time ago, Phantom Seeds, which was released back in 2010.  What a small world...

Next I headed over to the gaming room where I said bye to Eddie, met up with Allen at the TGM3 machine, and proceeded to dump a whole bunch of quarters into TGM and play a whole bunch of Master mode (along with one go at Shirase, which went pretty decently actually).  I had some good games; and especially after that Shirase game I could feel the adrenaline, haha.

I walked back to my car and put my laptop and controllers away and packed my dance shoes to get ready for B&W ball which was starting at 6PM.  On the way back, though, I ran into Isabelle Wendy Kotaro and co who were going to dinner, so I tagged along!  Ended up having poke, which was not too bad.

They needed to go back to their hotel room so I decided to just go straight to the ball where I met up with Lann Alex and co.  Very surprisingly, I actually ended up staying at B&W Ball until midnight when it ended!  I danced with Lann and co a bit, and also found some of the B&W ball staff to dance with at some points, but then Isabelle Wendy Rebecca Eddie and Russell showed up and we had a mini Stanford crew thing going on, which was quite fun.  Lewis Joy and Mindy showed up later, which was really pleasant surprise!  It was nice getting to catch up a bit, hang out with people, and of course do some dancing too.

I ended up staying until the dance was officially over, at which point I bid farewell to the other Stanford kids, did one final loop around the gaming hall and main hallway, and left Fanime.  Along the way I passed the Subway store (which was still open) and had a brief flash back to two years ago when I grabbed food there after I left con on the last day and had someone take my photo and strike up a short conversation.

As much as I'm currently off of dance and keep on talking it down as being not the highest priority for me, I think tonight really did show me that I should give it a little more credit, just because it's through dance that I have these friends that I can hang out with and be in good company.  Granted, I definitely could have just checked out B&W ball briefly and left after an hour or whatever, and maybe that wouldn't have been so bad, but it felt really nice to see everyone there and have our own little mini dance crowd.  This might sound crazy, but I may have ended up having more (???) fun at b&w ball than big dance this year -- which is not to say that big dance is the worse event, because =clearly= big dance is the more awesome event, but I think due to a combination of unfortunate factors I wasn't as into it this year as I could have been.  (better luck next time I guess!)

I left Fanime, saying a mental goodbye to the con-goers, to the convention center, to the wonderful atmosphere, and to Fanime itself.  I was sad that it was over, but at the same time wouldn't go to more even if there was much more to go to.  It's been a tiring but good weekend.

I think looking back on this year, this Fanime will mainly stick out for two things -- one is the absolute lack of plans and normal con-scheduled activities that I had; I spent a whole lot of time just hanging out and not really doing much of anything!  The other is staying through b&w ball the whole time and having fun with the Stanford dance crew.  Shoutout to all you guys!

Edit: Oh, right, duh.  This year's Fanime will also stick out for AiviSura's concert which was really epic!!!

Photos from today:

Holy crap!  It's Vile from Mega Man X!  This was a huge surprise and was quite awesome.



The character from Transistor!  I don't know much about this game but her sword thing lit up and was so cool!



This cute girl had on a Little Twin Stars shirt and I couldn't help but ask to snap a photo!  She saw my phone case and charm, haha, yay~  Fellow fan~



A Morrigan cosplayer who definitely had attitude...



Majora's Mask!



The con at midnight...still tons of people milling around in certain areas.



So long Fanime...see you again next year.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fanime 2017 Day 2 - Hanging Out

Saturday -- Day 2!

It was a really chill day overall today -- not that I really minded much!

I got up slightly earlier than expected and decided to do eyeliner-only for my makeup -- a decision which I definitely don't regret!  I was out of the door a bit earlier than expected and parked at Safeway again...which, I now realized afterwards, was a mistake -- the parking lot across the street is cheaper, both on weekdays and weekends!  I probably realized this on previous years too but just totally forgot about it.  So I'm making (another?) note to myself here that I should park in that lot instead.

Anyhoo, I headed to con and met up with Angela, whom I ended up hanging out with for basically the entire day! :D  We ate lunch at this Malaysian place which was not half bad at all, then while I was photographing this Merida cosplayer (yay Merida!) this super random lady came up and said something about the Malaysian food and that we should go again something something she's there something something (????).  And she asked us if we were from Malaysia (uhhh, no?), and where we were from (uhh...here?).  Very odd.  I basically said "okay okay okay sure okay okay whatever" and that was that.  Our best guess is that she worked at the place we had just come from and ....saw me there or something?  but had left, and then recognized me again on the street from my distinctive costume.  ...  or something.  We were quite confused.

After that we spent a good deal of the day just wandering around and doing random things, including skimming through the dealers hall a bit, and going through the first two rows of artist alley (which I had skipped yesterday).  We also spent some time in the gaming hall, where I played some more Tetris, including a pretty good master run where I topped out somewhere in the 800s or 900s and got an M1 (M2?) rank.  Nice!  We didn't get to play Bishi Bashi, but I did hop onto the 3rd strike machine and beat two other people pretty handily (heheh), despite my execution being pretty off (I'm going to blame the sticks, as fighting game players are prone to....but for good reason, stick differences REALLY do throw you off a lot, especially when it's a different type of gate or stick than you like to use).  We also had a run on Beatmania 3 (not IIDX, sadly -- there was no IIDX cab this year due to some issue or another), which was kind of fun.

We spent some time wandering back and forth -- also I ran into a record number of people from MZ today for some reason O_o -- and also at one point stopped by Stage Zero to watch the B&W ball staff perform some random dance stuff (we said hi to Russell at this point too).  After that we plopped ourselves down on the floor to the right of stage zero where I sprawled out my dress (every year I try and make some time to just sit on the floor with my dress laid out in a circle), and we chatted, people-watched, and had people take photos of me.  Jeremy also said hi to us at this point, having just made it into the final bracket for smash 4 (go Jeremy!), though he would end up getting knocked out thereafter.

We met up with Nate and he wanted to check out the tail end of the AMV contest, so we went into that and got to see the last few, which were on the comedy side.  We split off from Nate and I met up with Lann, Alex and co in the Gaming Hall, got a photo and chatted a bit, and then it was time to start thinking about dinner!  We briefly said hi to the RWBY cosplay group before venturing off on our own to dinner...which we decided to get at Safeway!  It was not only convenient since it was right where I had parked, but also ended up being pretty tasty too -- I got myself a toasted sandwich with salami, cheese, veggies, and pepperoncinis -- which I had literally the hardest time communicating to the guy on the other side of the counter, "pepperoncinis" partly because this was the first time I realized how that word was actually spelled (seems that it's also spelled "peperoncino" sometimes too!), and partly because the other guy thought I was talking about pepperjack cheese or something.  I also didn't realize he was going to ask whether he should toast it and then ask for toppings afterwards.  The end result was that he eventually understood what I wanted but put the pepperoncinis (peperoncinos?) on before he toasted the sandwich, which was...I guess unusual.  Communication is hard, lol.  Fortunately the sandwich tasted great anyways, and I got to pair it with a Naked juice smoothie -- my favorite treat, Orange Mango! (which I still have not seen a large size of....)

That was it for Fanime today!  After that we drove off to the Art Boutiki where Aivi & Surasshu were going to perform.  Turns out we were wayyyy early and nobody else was there and they weren't ready to start checking people in either, so we just hung out outside at some tables and ate our dinner while chatting some more.  We went in, waited around, and surprise -- ran into Vu and Rose, who were there for the concert too!  We caught up a bunch, chatted, and then enjoyed the concert, which opened up with Noah Hafford (very fun, good stage energy), Omniboy (great music, pretty progressive sound, but also really hit the spot with some sweet rhythms and stabs and such), and Slime Girls (I wasn't as big of a fan, but they seemed fun!).  And then it was onto our beloved Aivi & Surasshu (whom I had gotten to say hi to earlier before they went on)!

Aivisura had a great set and I was so happy for their performance!  They played a handful of stuff, including Lonely Rolling Star (ahhhhh!! *squeal*), Here's How! (very fun, very groovy, a song that I didn't realize was so great to listen to while standing up), a cover of Yuri on Ice (which holy crap, gave me chills -- just...the emotion...wow), a song from their new album (so cool!), and a final song from Steven Universe for all the SU fans.  Lonely Rolling Star (I keep typing "Love Everlasting", haha) was great as always...the song from their new album was super interesting and you can tell that their musical style has really developed since The Black Box and all the work they've done for SU.  And they really did great in terms of performance this time too!  It was super fun and surasshu's jammin was less awkward-adorable and more just plain fun and awesome :D  The highlight was Yuri on Ice though, wow, I really felt that in a big way.  I haven't even seen most of the anime, and have only heard that song like once before, but man...

And that was it!  I stayed behind for a bit to say hi to aivisura, give them my shiny new business cards, as well as two special ones with the Love Everlasting art on them.  It really makes me happy to know that they are still thankful for Love Everlasting, but even more happy to see them still making great things that I can connect with, as a musical artist.  It made me smile, too, to see another fan telling them that their music helped bring him through difficult times in his life.  Looks like I'm not the only one, heh.

Photos from today:



Link taking a selfie......



...and an actual photo, lol.




Merida!  A really well-done outfit.  This was also right before we were ambushed by confusing Malaysia lady...



Adventure time!



A REALLY legit group of Marvel heroes.  Look at that Gambit!!!



 A first-run reddie!



Giant moogle!



Dragon Maid.  I don't know anything about Dragon Maid, but this costume was so pretty, wah!



A random assortment of characters, lol!



Aivi & Surasshu setting up for their awesome gig :D



More loot!  I picked up this cute Sumikko Gurashi folder for just $2 at the Dealers Hall :)



That's it for today!

As for tomorrow...I didn't get contacted regarding speed dating so I'm assuming that's off the menu (shrug...).  First things first, I gotta get up and drive all the way over to SF in the morning to play chauffeur for some people (zzzzzz).  But then I'll be relatively free for the rest of the day -- technically I'm supposed to have more private instruction time from 12:30-1:30 at the B&W ball place but I'm not even too concerned about that to be honest, I might just let them know I had my share already.  B&W ball itself is tomorrow night, but aside from that I'm mainly just hoping to hang out with Lann, finally get to play Melee with Eddie, hang out at con for the last day that I can, and play some more games of TGM3.

Things have been pretty good so far.  Let's keep it up!


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fanime 2017 Day 1 - A Full Day

Despite claiming that I would take it easy, I actually spent a good 12 hours at con today, getting there at around noon and not leaving until almost midnight (!).  I probably loitered around longer than I should have...

I woke up after a pretty good night's sleep and after showering it took me about half an hour to do makeup and get ready for everything.  I don't really terribly mind it too much but doing that for 3 days in a row might end up being a pain.  If I'm not feeling into it I might dial it back and just do eyeliner only or something.

I got to con at around noon and grabbed a pita sandwich from Pita Pit to eat for lunch.  This is only my second time eating food from there and I did a terrible job ordering from Pita Pit last year, but fortunately I did much better this year.  The sandwich ended up being pretty expensive ($8-10??) but was actually pretty darn tasty.

I ran into Isabelle as soon as I got to con and we hung out for a while, perusing the Gaming Hall (which was the only thing open at the time) and wandering around a bit.  (Here I also discovered that we had TGM3 not TAP set up!)  At one point we went out to take some photos of me in my outfit because the weather was this gorgeous cloudy sky that felt and looked great, but as soon as we set foot outside the convention center the sun came out behind the clouds and ruined everything. orz  Maybe tomorrow...

Eventually we joined up with Kotaro and made our way through the Artist Alley.  Around this time I had also ran into a bunch of other people, including Lann, Alex, and their friend, Bleu, and even Poochy.  Going through Artist Alley was pretty fun and I even picked up a new Journey print (which you can see later below).  I think I felt this last year too, but this year going through Artist Alley I definitely felt myself glossing over so many of the more "cheap" art styles and the only things that really stood out to me were the ones that had good composition or just....were good artistically, haha.  It was interesting for sure.

Me and Kotaro also spent a good deal of time in the Gaming Hall today, which was great fun.  We played through the entirety of Metal Slug 5, which was pretty fun, though I'm not sure it was the funnest Metal Slug game I've played.  I don't think I've ever played 5 before, as most of the stuff seemed pretty unfamiliar, but I think by far my favorite is still 2 (or X), for a lot of reasons.

I also stopped by the TGM3 machine to play a round of Master mode, where I got an S5 or something mediocre like that after dying at 6xx or something (eh), which was also when we ran into Allen!  After that, we went and played the most awesomest game ever -- Bishi Bashi!  It was even in English this time, which was neat, and made the roulette game MUCH easier.  We did not too bad and I actually made it to level 17 before dying to the always-ridiculously-hard Sushi game.  It was easier being in English, but....not by very much at all.  RIP.

I also managed to get some relatively fun games of SF 3rd strike in against a Dudley player who beat me a bunch until I finally eked out a win.  My skills were definitely rusty and all, but it was a good time and we both enjoyed it quite a lot.  Me and Kotaro also played through most of this random shmup called Wyvern Wings, eventually deciding to leave it at the last level.

We also made our way through Dealers' Hall where we basically just skimmed over a bunch of stuff but didn't buy anything.

At this point we were getting pretty hungry so we met back up with Isabelle and Wendy (who had just arrived) to go grab dinner.  We ended up going to HoM Korean Kitchen, which was not the place I was thinking of at all but was actually very good!  After that nice dinner we headed back to con, said a brief hello to Jeremy, then went back into the gaming hall where I parted ways with Kotaro and met up with Eddie instead!  Me and Eddie made our way to the swap meet where we did a pretty efficient sweep of the place and I actually came back with a pretty reasonable amount of stuff!  I'll go through the items in the photos section below.  One notable thing was that at one point a manga set of Kokoro Connect caught my eye and I was contemplating whether to buy it or not -- at $2 per book, it was only $10 total, which wasn't very much at all!  I remember very much liking the premise of the show and how it started off but also remember not liking how it ended / the second half as much.  I decided to walk away from it, but ended up coming back.  Unfortunately either they had misspoke or I had misheard and it was actually $3 per book...so I said no.  $15 is still pretty darn cheap for 5 books to be honest, but eh...it wasn't a manga  I particularly wanted to have.

After that we thought about heading home but instead decided to stop by the ballroom for B&W ball staff private lessons.  We both joined in on a WCS private....but it wasn't very useful as it wasn't actually a "private" as it was more of a small group lesson and we were way ahead of the rest of the group.  So me and Eddie just ended up working on some stuff by ourselves afterwards, which was good!  After that Eddie took off but I hung around with the WCS instructors to glean some extra knowledge (they recognized me!), and they worked with me individually on some things too!  One thing that I've definitely come to notice with WCS is that (like a lot of other things) it's taught in so many different ways by different teachers, and it's really up to you to figure out what to "believe" and what you think is "right".  I think it's good that I'm not entirely vested in WCS because I feel like I'd be a lot more frustrated by that if I were.

Here's the photos I got from today!


Me getting ready to head out in the morning!  And sporting my new Journey messenger bag.



Made it to con!



Cute!



RWBY!



I caught this super cute Vanellope cosplayer, ahh!



This Toriel was super nice!  She asked for my photo and I didn't even realize who she was until afterwards.  She seemed super friendly >w<



Pepsi and Mountain Dew people...



I thought I recognized this somehow but apparently not; it was from some webcomic that I'm totally unfamiliar with.  But I think something about the raven beak design reminded me of something else, I'm not sure what though.  The crows from Monument Valley?  The Toringen from Yume Nikki?  I'm not sure...-something-...



Rose!



Wahhhh, definitely the highlight of all the cosplayers I saw today.  It's Reina from my favorite show, Hibike! Euphonium!  Wahhh~~



This guy was awesome.  From the Emperor's New Groove!



I ran into another Journeyer!  We stopped and had a bunch of photos taken, some with my hood and some without.  As you can see my hood sucks in comparison!  So I normally don't wear it =P  This person had a silk-looking scarf that was printed with patterns on it -- he told me he had just ordered it online.



 T-rex tries to play Para Para.



My haul for today!  (and probably basically my haul for con)
The Pita-Ten art book was $10!  It was perfect because as the person was looking up the price I said to myself "hmm, I'll probably pay at most......$10 for this", and it turned out to be $10 =P  Yay Koge-Donbo art~

The Nanoha booklet and pencil/eraser/ruler set was just $1!

The Sumikko Gurashi re-ment was $7...probably the most pricey thing that I got, but I feel like Sumikko Gurashi things make pretty good gifts ^^;.  Also I like them a lot now too.

The 3 stationery sets were $1 each!  And the one in the little book-shaped container has a few different designs in it.  I always feel great taking other people's stationery off their hands because it's super cheap and I always get to tell the owners that they'll be put to good use :)

The Hello Kitty.....thing....in the middle we have no idea what it is yet.  The Katakana says "Sanrio Chara 'Puchisurara'" which made no sense to me....or the other two people I asked, who verified that it does indeed say "Puchisurara".  Wat.  Well, in any case it was only $3, so I got it anyways.
Also right above that is a Cinnamoroll tape dispenser, only $1!

And the Journey print was my get from the Artist Alley -- $7 or $8 if I remember correctly.  It's a nice one, featuring a Scarf Jelly~

All in all not a bad day, though I probably stayed longer than I should have, and got pretty tired.  As always it was really great when people recognized and liked my costume. :)

Tomorrow my goals are mostly to hang out with Angela and Lann, and also perhaps to set up some private melee time with Eddie.  And of course, after dinner, heading straight to Aivi & Surasshu's concert!  And heading home straight after that.

Thinking of going to con around lunchtime again...should make sure that I get a good night's sleep still!



Friday, May 26, 2017

Fanime 2017 Day 0 - Get Hype!

It's that time of the year -- Fanime is upon us again!

My last writeup (for 2016) can be found in 2 parts: Part 1 and Part 2.

It's currently the night before Fanime "proper" starts on Friday and I'm just doing a bunch of mental decompression as I'm getting ready to go to bed, including this post as well as working on my post-mortem for Raven Delivery Service.

Also!  My business cards from Moo came in, which is super duper exciting!!!  They are beautiful and I'm so happy to finally have them in my hands.  Will try and take some photos of them tomorrow morning!

Every year at Fanime is a bit different.  Last year the main takeaways from my experience were that I was a lot more chill about the con in general -- sometimes leaving earlier, not going to ALL the things, etc. which was to great effect I think, and that I was able to spend more time actually hanging around friends, which also was great.  There was also no TGM (sadness) but we did stop by the B&W ball for some fun times (yay).

This year I'm hoping to replicate the more easygoing approach and mostly take it easy while spending time with friends and in general just having fun being around, being in my wonderful Journey outfit, and basking in the general Fanime atmosphere.  I've got three whole days at con and I don't actually have very much planned!

Friday there is a Melee tourney but I feel like I'm like 25% to enter; I do feel like I will probably have better things to do and don't want to just wait around in the gaming hall forever.  There is also swap meet that night!  That said my dance friends are also putting on a dance that night and despite the fact that I have been off of dance recently I might actually be feeling up for it.  So maybe I'll go and do that instead!  It would be a shame to miss swap meet, but....actually, not really.  Last time the only notable things I got from there were some new card sleeves, which were great, but I don't even get to play MtG at all at the moment so that is no longer a concern of mine.  So the only things I would really pick up would be cheap sanrio stuff and random stationery, probably, haha.

Saturday night I'm going to see Aivi & surasshu perform live which should be super great!  Ahh, I hope they'll perform more original works >w<.  I have a couple of my business cards which I made with my Love Everlasting album artwork that I want to show them too :)

Sunday morning I have to drive to SF to play chauffeur a bit (zzzz) but I'll also be doing a WCS private lesson (whee!) and probably having fun with the other social dance kids at B&W ball.

Other than that I really don't have much planned, besides doing the usual rounds of everything at con.  I may also actually (?) register for speed dating this time (actually as in, don't just show up too late and be "eh w/e" like i did last year) but even that is not really too big of a deal.  What IS a big deal is that TGM (TAP i believe???) will be back this year which means awesome Tetris funtimes ahhhhhh so excited for that.  Ooh, and Bishi Bashi will be there too!  And I hear they'll even have Metal Slug there; I actually want to just play through that entire game with someone if possible :)  So maybe a lot of fun gaming is to be had at con this year!

I've packed up most of my stuff in preparation for tomorrow and will probably be making it to con lazily sometime in the late morning or early afternoon depending on whatever I feel like (I've taken the day off of work).  My costume is the same as it was at V-ball, but with a minor addition -- I now have two Journey-themed messenger bags and will be using one to carry my stuff around with me at con!  Not to mention I still have my Journey lanyard for holding my Fanime badge (the badges look awesome this year btw!).  So yeah, pretty cool :)  I will have a bunch of stuff that I'll be leaving in my car, like my portable melee setup, extra controllers, watercolor supplies, etc, as well as just-in-case stuff like my ironing board and scissors, etc etc.  I won't need 80% of those things but it doesn't hurt to be prepared!

Main thing tomorrow is just to wake up, shower, do makeup, and make my way to con!  Since it's Friday perhaps there will actually be parking in the convention center structure?  If not, I'll head to the old standby--the Safeway parking garage, hehe.

Hopefully I don't get super tired of wearing makeup for the whole weekend.  I never put any on nowadays.  I'll have to try and put it on in a somewhat reasonable amount of time, ha ha ha...

I'll try to be blogging about each day as it happens.  I know it seems I never really do that for things these days but I actually think it's great for me to just type out everything like this as a way of relaxing.  You know, for the same reason that journaling can be great.

Hope to see people at con tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Don't lie to yourself about what is important to you.
What makes you happy?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One year ago, I wrote:

"I left Kiki behind.  After seeing her one last time, I left her behind.  And I think part of me knew already, even when we spoke about "keeping in touch", that it was the end -- or more specifically, it was the end for me.  And I left her behind.  Will I someday leave you behind too?  Or will you stay, watching over me, like one of the wishing stars in the night sky?"

Did I really ever leave Kiki behind though?  I still write about her, think about her, even once in a while reach out to her.  And, she still holds a place in my "sanctuary".  Perhaps by "leaving behind" I meant that I accepted that I would not try very hard to see her again, and to reach her.  But my connection still lingers.  And I wouldn't have it any other way, would I?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

了就很好

Deep in the feelings of the past.  And I never want to come out.  Never...

If I move from here I will lose more than I already have.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Big Dance 2017

Last Friday I went to my 7th Big Dance, which was also my 5th all-nighter (9PM-6AM).

Big Dance was...quite interesting, and a wildly different beast than it ever has been before for me.

I arrived early while Richard and the Gang were still setting up, and was there for the first dance of the night (full credit!).  Unfortunately I could sense somehow that my feet were definitely going to cramp up later in the night -- muscles felt a bit cold and despite my attempts to stretch I ended up running into the aforementioned muscle cramps a while later which was quite terrible, ugh.  I'll have to do a better job of warming up next time.

I took part in both the intergeneration and ambi swing contests, which were both fun, and judged the ambi waltz contest, which was intensely stressful.  I'm making a note to myself that I should never ever get worried or stressed about entering a dance contest anymore because being on the other side is 100% more pressure for me.  Sheesh.  My main disappointment through the contests is that we didn't actually get to see much ambi dancing at all.  I hope that that might change someday.

In terms of lasting through the night, this was most assuredly the most difficult Big Dance to get through, probably for quite a few different factors.  Not only have we not done a proper all-nighter since 3 years ago, but I also wasn't able to do quite that much to catch up on sleep beforehand, and probably more importantly, I'm just getting old(er).  I never really had any doubt that I would make it through the night, and I knew I wouldn't need to take a nap partway through (cheating!) or anything, but there were definitely times where it felt more like a slog than anything, which has not been the case in the past.

A lot of that is also just due to my changing relationship with dance as well, now that I'm such a veteran / oldie / etc.  It's difficult to explain succinctly, but it's a different social experience, I think.  At the same time I -do- still care about dancing, improving, and all that.  It's a sort of odd middle ground that I feel like I've been in for a while, to be honest.  What I can say for sure is that I really appreciated the company and presence of the older dancers, especially getting to see and hang out with Gem which is one of the highlights of every single Big Dance that I go to!

Other notable things that happened during the night....I successfully made it through Dawn Mazurka as a lead with no real issues, we had a lot of great performances that made me smile, and omg, the best part is that we were able to have dance activities that involved something other than balloons, ribbons, and dodgeballs!  wooooo~

My new waltz song got premiered, and although I didn't get to dance it to my fullest due to my feet cramping up (lol), it was really well received and I was happy with it.  Even after making my entire Celestial Melodies album I still have never really made a good danceable cross-step waltz that I'm totally happy with, but I think this one might fit the ticket!  So that's exciting.

I don't remember too many of the dances that I had throughout the night, but some standouts were the first waltz I did with Gem which was super fun, and also dancing a WCS with Audrey which was a blast, omg haha.  Also a cross-step waltz in the middle of the night with Talia where I spoke "softly" like I used to in the past -- I think I'm going to start returning back to those ways sometimes.

I'm quite ready to take a break from dance for a while now, with no reservations about it, either.

My next big event is Fanime, in which I hope to mostly "take it easy" like I did last year (which worked to great effect if I recall correctly) and hang out with one or two friends whom I know are also going.  I'm excited to wear my Journey cosplay again of course, but also to go and see AiviSura perform live for the second time!

I've been spending most of my free time on website redesign and business card designs and my labor is starting to bear some fruit now!  I've updated the front page and nav bar of my main site at http://ddrkirby.com/ (you may have to force refresh to get it to load properly) and it's looking much nicer now.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Feeling a bit better about life...

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Did you know?  Starting with my current desktop, my computers are all named after Protoss units (got the idea because of "Corsair", the case/parts manufacturer).  It's nice to have a convention!

So my home desktop is Corsair, my laptop is Shuttle, and my desktop at work is Archon.  Maybe my next computer will be called Reaver!

Note: I am not a 'toss player.  Zerg for life!

I'VE STILL GOT IT IN ME!

Just made a killer cross-step waltz in 3.5 hours flat.  HECK YEAH

Thursday, May 11, 2017

There are many things from my past that I hold onto dearly but the marching band-related dreams are something that I could definitely do without...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A friend of mine who is graduating from college this year wrote about struggling to come to terms with the fact that their college experience is ending, and questioning whether they made the right choices, spent their time on the right things, and will be able to leave it behind with so many avenues unexplored and experiences unhad.

I was very fortunate in that I was able to spend a 5th year at Stanford (finishing my coterm) and I think it made a very big difference in how I felt leaving it all behind (despite the fiasco that happened at graduation).  But that is not to say that I used my 5th year exploring all that there was left to explore at the place, or even that I spent it making sure that I would have no regrets when I left.  To be perfectly honest, a lot of what I did during that 5th year was pretty much more of the same as what I had been doing earlier.  In fact, I would say that I cut out a lot of new experiences from my life and snuggled into a comfortable place (extremely comfortable, in fact -- I was living it up in my premium studio at Munger).

But I think that is the thing that let me feel so happy about my experience at the end.  That after freshman year having to figure out everything all from scratch, having to let go of things from high school despite not wanting to, after sophomore year switching majors in what was a major conflict at the time (but seems absurdly logical now), after dealing with physchosomatic pains, counseling, saying goodbye to Kiki, struggling with gender identity, and all of that, I was finally able to just be myself and do my own thing -- making music, programming games, ditching classes, controlling my own sleep schedule, learning to cook, getting better at social dance, and in general just having a lot of "me time".

I never went fountain hopping, nor steam-tunneling, nor any of those other things.  I didn't have regular friends throughout my time at college -- not that I didn't have friends, or even close friends, but never friends who I would stick around.  But at the time, I really didn't think much of it.  These were mostly things that I chose not to do, out of disinterest.

I think it wasn't until afterwards when I started becoming closer to other people, being exposed to different worldviews, especially talking with other people going through college in different ways that I began to really question whether I had done all that I should have.  Hearing about all of the wonderful things that other people had found made me really wonder whether I had missed out by turning away and doing my own thing off in the corner at Stanford.  I, too, wanted to have had close friendships, to have had interesting and exciting classes outside my major, to have interesting and exciting classes =inside= my major, to be part of a close-knit student group.  I think I suffered a little bit of a delayed mini-crisis after the fact, thinking back on it.

But now, 5 years later (yes, it really has been that long), it's so obviously clear to me that what I did in college was =right=.  I think it is sometimes really easy to get caught up in thoughts about what could have been, and what you missed out on -- the greener side of the hill, so to speak.  But to do that would be discounting all of the things that you DID choose to do, and also discounting all of the (probably valid) reasons that you didn't do those other things.

Through my college experience I:
- Matured as a person, at least a bit, from my more ego-centric and judgmental past self (though there was still much work to be done)
- Came to terms with letting go of marching band from high school
- Formulated a start to my career and learned how to forge ahead on my own, disregarding the choices that were previously laid out for me by my parents
- Started to work through a great deal of gender identity questions that I had never previously considered
- Found a lifelong passion and community in the social dance scene
- Found another passion in the Japanese language, which I practiced until conversation became very easy
- Found several important people in my life, including Kiki
- Discovered and used counseling services for the first time
- Was miraculously saved from a debilitating case of psychosomatic pain
- Forged and refined my music production skills intensely through One Hour Compo every week
- Started my first forays into legitimate game programming, and started entering Ludum Dare
- Started learning how to cook (barely)

That is actually quite a lot of important stuff.  But there are other things that I think I felt like I "missed out" on (in quotes).

I never had a regular friend group; in fact it was debatable whether I had any regular friends to the extent that we would spend time together on a regular basis for an extended period of time.  But to be honest, as much as I often find myself "wishing" for better friendships, I think there is a very real truth in that I'm just way too introverted to deal with people on a very "social" level.  That has always been something that confused me before but thinking about it now it's very clear that being part of a "friend group" would never had made sense in the first place.

I didn't invest in many of my classes.  In fact, I didn't even GO to many of my classes.  Did it feel silly that I was staying for an extra year at Stanford and paying so much extra tuition despite not really caring about any of these upper-division CS courses that I really wasn't interested in?  Yes, of course.  But that extra 5th year had so many other benefits that it was worth it in the end.  Also, just knowing that I was not interested in those classes has been instrumental in pointing me towards what kind of things I enjoy and don't enjoy.

And so on and so forth.

Were there things that I would have done differently?  Well...absolutely.  I would have not gotten lost in psychosomatic pain, for one thing...also I would have tried my hardest to prevent the whole graduation fiasco.  I wouldn't have bothered taking those EE classes in a way that felt so inauthentic to me.

Knowing what I know now, I think there is perhaps even a bigger change that I would consider -- not going to Stanford in the first place.  I think it was a fine choice and I wouldn't give it up for the world, but knowing what I do now, I wonder if I would instead choose to go to an institution that offers programs for game development more specifically, even programs that are more cross-disciplinary and involve working more closely with creatives and actually making real projects.  I would have for sure wanted to take classes in visual art, even if just on an introductory level.  If I could take instruction and go through processes of game design, that would be even more fantastic.

But at the time, 9 years ago, how was I supposed to know that making indie games was going to become such a large part of my life?  And that I would be so interested in visual art?  How was I supposed to know that the art of game design, storytelling, and shaping a player's narrative experience were things that I would become intensely interested in?  Some of these things didn't even exist in the medium yet!!!

We do the best we can, with what we think is right for ourselves.  And I think it's important to recognize your own successes, take a good look at just how far you've come, and understand exactly what led you down this path.  There was always a reason that you chose to keep walking in this direction.  Even if that reason was a mistake that teaches you a lesson further down the road, that doesn't invalidate your choice.

Of course, all that being said, I am me after all, so of course I still miss my old room at Munger, of course I still miss my Japanese classes and most of all my senseis, and of course I miss crashing Richard's social dance classes, I miss the eating options on campus, I miss the fact that everyone was...slightly....less busy with their own lives (slightly), and I still miss Kiki.

I won't have the chance to hang out with people in their.....slightly (very slightly) less busy state anymore.  I won't have the chance to take those visual art classes.  I won't be able to change my mind and go to a game development and design institute.  I may not even be able to see Kiki ever again.  But I can still learn visual art.  I can still take visual art classes, if not part of university.  I can still study game design at GDC.  I can still meet people at social dance.  And perhaps, if there are things in my life that could only be accomplished in that short 4-year period, maybe those things aren't quite as important as they might seem.