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...

=====

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.

Well, it could have been worse.  I could have spent =more= than 2 hours thinking about the past instead of sleeping...

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Yesterday was a really interesting day...I had a really hard time getting out of bed for some reason, and fell pretty soundly asleep during the morning train ride as well.  After getting off the train the city was oddly quiet in a way that made me wonder whether there was some holiday going on that I was totally unaware of.  I was feeling pretty cranky too, for some reason, imagining negative scenarios in my head, as one is prone to do when feeling grumpy.  Maybe I just have some sleep to catch up on.

Feedback has been coming in for our game, Raven Delivery Service, and people have been liking it!  I'll try to do a post-mortem post about it, as well as just advertise it via posting in general so we can get some more plays.

Aivi & surasshu are performing later this month at Fanime!  What a pleasant announcement to hear -- it actually makes me quite excited to go.  Steven Universe is also getting an official soundtrack release next month -- about time!  More importantly, I overheard that their next original artist album has a name, "valk hollow"?  That's actually more exciting than anything, as you know the main reason I'm a fan of aivisura is because of their debut album "The Black Box".  I am not-so-secretly hoping that once they release their next album I will be able to do a full remix album of their works again, as I did with "Love Everlasting".  That album was one of the most interesting and rewarding projects that I've undertaken as a musician and I'd love to try something like it again.

Big dance is also coming up this Friday!  Everyone should enter the dance contests, especially the ambi ones!
Looking back at my records, here were the themes for those years, to help people remember:
2011 was Firefly
2012 was Star Wars
2013 was Last Airbender
2014 was Game of Thrones
(2015 was a Little Big Dance)
(2016 was a Little Big Dance)
2017 is Back to the Future

(old-timers will remember some other ones, like pride and prejudance, etc)

Remember, Little Big Dances do NOT count as all-nighters! (since they didn't last all night, of course)  So this'll be my 7th Big Dance, but my 5th all-nighter.  Hopefully it'll be fun, despite the fact that I've been shying away from people interactions lately.  I was half-wondering whether I should take a page out of the past and try and compose a song real quick for big dance so that Richard could play it.  But I don't think that will happen, hehe.  Not ruling it out as a possibility though -- inspiration could strike at any moment!  It would actually be pretty cool to start a tradition of writing a new dance song every year for Big Dance specifically.  Maybe!

Speaking of dance music, next month I'll be going to a ballet performance set to my Celestial Melodies album!  Super interested to see how that will be, and never thought as I was writing it that my music would ever be used that way.  This is also a good point for me to try to design some (long overdue) business cards.  Hopefully I'll be able to use the All in a Day's Work 3 artwork, as that has become so iconic to me, but perhaps there are other options as well.  I'll have to decide what urls to put on there as well -- probably ddrkirby.com and ddrkirbyisq.bandcamp.com for sure, but I should really clean up the ddrkirby.com landing page.  I guess if I make a more proper landing page for ddrkirby.com I can just feature that, DDRKirby(ISQ), my name, and possibly a contact email (?) and have the landing page direct you to everything else.  More work that needs to be done!  Looks like a lot of designery work is in my near future...

My birthday having passed now, I decided to go ahead and order a whole bunch of stuff online as I was in need/want of quite a lot of things here and there.  Yesterday those shipments finally started to get to me, so I now have an anova sous vide machine, a whetstone for sharpening my knives, a jaccard meat tenderizer, a mortar & pestle, new earbuds, a car vent mount for my phone, and a zojirushi vaccuum-sealed food container.  I also did a ton of grocery shopping last night, so I basically have a ton of new stuff to play around with and eat, whee!  I'm pretty excited about all of the items, haha.

The Risk of Rain devs are apparently working on RoR2, in 3D??? (using Unity, as of course is the trend for everyone and their mothers now)  That's...cool, I guess?  Of course, it's still a project early in development, so it's barely even worth thinking about when or whether they'll finish, but...I guess that's cool?  It's not the most -exciting- thing because I don't think 3D is really necessary, or even a boon to the gameplay, but maybe they are just trying to take a page out of Overwatch and such games.  It makes me a little sad for my pet project Zenith Fighter which I abandoned, which was aiming to be an arena-style game with platforming and RoR-style abilities, as well as a bunch of upgrades.

Speaking of pet projects, Rhythm Quest is on very shaky footing now as I haven't touched it in so long.  I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but the fact that I'm not regularly working on it is a red flag and I wonder whether it will actually become a thing, or whether it's not actually exciting anymore.  We'll see I guess, but for now I am going to remind myself that the reasonable thing to do is not to worry about it because I have other projects that are more pressing -- namely, finishing up my Sentience album, designing the business cards and redoing my landing page.

Speaking of my Sentience album -- it's getting close to being complete!  I'll probably aim to do one or two more songs and then package it all up for release.  Very exciting to be doing another original artist album that is getting a full physical CD release, especially since this one has such a strong theme and could be called my first ever "concept album", I guess.

I've been continuing to make my way through Hyper Light Drifter, which has still been great!  It's cool that, just like with Shovel Knight, I feel much more well-versed in the sort of "vernacular" of its level design, and am starting to really become familiar with where to look in order to find hidden areas and secrets.  I'm currently in the last of the four main "areas" (at least, that I know of!), though the game has made it very clear that even when I've beaten the boss there I will have to do quite a bit more searching and exploring.

=====

I told someone recently that while many people find themselves needing to let go of their past before they can move forward, I find myself unable to move forward if I feel like I am letting something go.  I've been asked before just =why= the past is so important to me and there are many reasons -- I think loss is painful, letting go is painful, I'm strongly motivated by nostalgia and memory, I would much rather stick to what I know than embrace new experiences, I value lasting connections, I genuinely want to believe that things will last, etc. -- but in the end the answer basically is just that's the way that I am and I have learned that that is the way it has to be.  After many years of questioning myself and my feelings toward the past I came to a realization that even if it "slows me down", connecting with my past is ultimately something that I just have to do, out of necessity.  And if I try to avoid it and break free, I would only end up circling back again and not moving anywhere at all -- because "breaking free" is something I would never want in the first place.  And that is the reason that I can be so sure when I tell people I will always be here.  Always and forever.

...or at least, that's what I'd like to think.  After all, the girl of the stars also chose to leave her tower.  The story of the star and the girl is one that is incredibly important to me because represents a central conflict in life that I must always come to terms with.  The fact that "always" is not forever, and that despite my feelings and intentions, in the end I must accept that I cannot bring the past forward with me, and that I =must= by the nature of life move forward.  It pained me a great deal thinking about how the girl left the tower.  It still does, and always will.  But it's something that I need to understand too.  I think in the end, sinking deep into memory, holding traditions, treasuring artifacts, and "living in the past" are all ways of coping.

Who can say where the girl is now?  But no matter where she is, the tower and the star will always be an important part of her.  Maybe she will be able to come back to the tower someday.  Maybe she will be able to see the star again someday too.  But even if she does not, it will still be in her memory, as something precious and treasured.  In the same way, my friend Kiki is someone who is always on my mind when I think of the past.  My relationship with her, in many ways, represents my relationship with the past, and that is a reason why it has always held such significance to me.


=====

I actually feel significantly better today.  Maybe all I needed was to feel like I am paying my respects to my memory...

(More to come later.)


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My dream wedding (if I decide to get married) would aim to be as different from a traditional wedding as reasonable.  I don't like weddings...


It would be like...in the middle of a forest somewhere.  In the shade!  I would have three or so groomsmaids.  There would be less than 50 people in total...

Weird things that I daydreamed about while sleeping on the train ride.  There were also these people a few seats behind talking in some foreign language and at one point I swear they were talking about "fox"  "Armada"  and "puff ditto".  This is what happens when you're half-awake, lol.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Oh, right.  With all the LD stuff and everything else going on I forgot to write about my birthday, which happened last week.  As is the tradition now, I disabled FB wall/timeline posting and prospered greatly.  It was a bit of a weird bday this year to be honest, as I was taking the next day off for LD and thus working pretty hard at work to finish a bunch of things up.  Nevertheless, it was really nice for people to reach out to me directly.  IMHO, it's something that we should try to do for each other more often, not just once a year.  I got a few letters too, which was quite nice.

Aaaand we're back.  The week was a busy one for sure, as is usually the case right after Ludum Dare.


Speaking of Ludum Dare, we came out with a pretty cool game!  It's called Raven Delivery Service -- you can check it out here.  LD itself went pretty well, though I was quite stressed that the game wouldn't come together -- the project was more ambitious than I initially realized and required a lot of moving parts to come together for the game to really click.  I'm happy with what ended up coming out of it, though!

The LD event itself has been hit by delays, the standard website outages, and more recently, even more drama than before, which is...unfortunate, though not entirely surprising.  It's sad because I feel like this might be the needle that breaks the camel's back, so to speak, given that community faith has already been..."less than stellar" because of the issues around the last few jams.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I'm pretty certain that griping about the issues isn't particularly constructive; if that LD "proper" kicks the can or disproves itself the way out would be to migrate to different game jams.  That's hard though as no real equivalent event exists.  Sort of a lose-lose situation.  Again, unfortunate.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get high scores on our game too!  You can see all of those videos here.  It was a pretty interesting process and definitely fun!

Went to the Big Dance prelude dance this past Friday -- it's really exciting to see the Stanford dance community so vibrant and with so many young faces with good energy going into these things.  This especially after having a few definite slump years.  It's pretty cool to see.

I've definitely been being a social recluse recently, for quite a while actually -- longer than I think I have in the past.  Part of it is definitely just wanting to be alone, but I also worry that part of it is just that I haven't been taking care of myself, especially sleeping on time I've been doing really horribly at =(  That is something that is just going to require conscious diligence to improve on.  To be honest, wasting time like that and losing sleep is more of a dent in my day-to-day life than the SF commute is.

Rain World is on hold right now, but I made it into the filtration unit which seems quite intense.  In the meantime, I've started playing Hyper Light Drifter!  It's a pretty fun game, very cool in how it doesn't hold your hand through anything, and instead let's the player have a lot of these "oh, I get it" moments.  It's got a good amount of difficulty too.

Seems that a minor Brood War resurgence is on the horizon so I'll definitely want to try and get in a bit on that!  Aside from that, hoping to carve out more time to work on music as well.  Game dev has taken a spot on the wayside for now, especially since LD has given me more than its fair share of that.  Dance, too, I feel like, has been going sort of steady but the surge of new ideas and creativity that I had earlier is more or less gone, it feels like.  I dunno.  Maybe I'm just too tired in general.

Monday, April 24, 2017

LD38 has ended and we made it out, alive, with a game.

Still returning to the real world.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Always, you said."

=====

Dance really is such an interesting presence in my life.  There are times when I feel completely inspired by it, but also times when I wonder if it would serve me better to spend that time pursuing something like the visual arts instead.  It's a funny thing.

Really felt like glowsticking last night.  Glad I didn't though -- I needed to go to bed!

I worry that I've fallen slightly ill, which isn't really good news for LD this weekend.  On the plus side, it seems to be pretty minor, so hopefully I'll be all back on my feet for the big event.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The War on Giygas Is Over

It's been a bit of a hectic week...

This Tuesday I finished playing through Earthbound on the train ride to work, and also watched Kimi no Na Wa that night in theaters.

Earthbound was great and I'm glad I finally got to cross that off the bucket list.  It was really cool seeing so clearly how it inspired other games like Undertale and Yume Nikki in some of the ways that it pushed the genre forward as a storytelling medium, especially in some of the more experimental parts near the latter part of the game.  I already knew sort of more or less how the end sequence was going to go, but actually going through it and experiencing all of the details for myself was a treat and I think it was quite well done.  There was even a bit of Higurashi-esque vibe at one point.

Besides the eerie sense of "darkness" toward the end of the game I think it's really nice how throughout the game it really tried to push forward the idea of "meaningless but meaningful" player interaction -- the idea that even if a choice in the game doesn't actually affect how the game plays out, it is still meaningful by its very existence of being a choice for the player to decide on.  Earthbound is by far not the only game that does this, but it was quite apparent to me and I think that it's really important for video games to try and engage the player in that way as part of the storytelling experience.  It's like the old "show, not tell" adage, except in video games, you want to have the player "act" not "watch" -- everything feels so much more "real" when it's something that you are driving as a player rather than something that you're passively watching as an audience member.  The Last of Us was great at achieving this as well.  And games like Earthbound, Journey, ABZU, etc do a good job of giving you a more "tangible", "interactable" reward at the end of the game as well.

So yeah, that was pretty great.  I'll get to Mother 3 at a later time, as right now I'm moving onto the Specter Knight campaign in Shovel Knight (great so far!), as well as Hyper Light Drifter (haven't started), and most recently, Rain World, which I purchased and started playing just yesterday.  What a harsh game...so far it really has captured the sort of "stress-inducing terror" that you got in little bite-sized chunks in various other games, like the opening sequence of Out of This World, for example.  It's actually one of the most terrifying games I've played, though I wouldn't really classify it as traditional "horror".  The visual design is done really well, I think it really sticks in your mind in a sort of raw primal "danger instinct" way.  Anyways, I'm working through it with my best friend right now; though we're not too far, just got into the Industrial Complex and started exploring that area.  I really don't want to play that game before going to bed, haha.

Kimi no Na Wa (a.k.a. "Your Name") was quite enjoyable and I'm glad that I liked it better than I did 5cm/sec back when I saw that.  I have mixed feelings about 5cm/sec because I really didn't enjoy it when I saw it but I wonder (?) if I would see it with a different point of view now.  I'm not sure and I'm not sure if I care enough to find out.  But Kimi no Na Wa was pretty good; besides having the as-expected gorgeous backgrounds and everything, the story actually had quite a handful of nice moments for me and I thought the pacing felt pretty good too.  The part about pronouns also really cracked me up to no end, haha, though that's something that you wouldn't really get if you're completely unfamiliar with Japanese culture.  I didn't end up crying or anything but there was one point towards the end where he was going through life thinking about having "lost" something, and -- in essence, thinking about the past (yes, that's right...the past) -- where I almost thought I was going to lose it.  That's really the key to getting to my feelings...just start talking about the past, haha...

Other things that have been going on...spent the day on Sunday helping family move furniture, but I got a dresser and bed upgrade out of it, so I can't complain too much.  I went to Mission City Swing last week, and Jammix too, but decided to skip both Dancebreak and the new WCS practice session at Stanford this week.  I think not only am I now on a downswing in terms of dance, but also just being around people in general, I think I need a while to sort of recover, especially after Sunday too.  It's just a combination of stress and introversion and needing some time to recharge, I think.

Jammix was interesting in that it was both fun and not fun at the same time.  Audrey announced the intergenerational dance contest at Big Dance next month which I think is really cool, but even cooler is the fact they'll be putting on ambi dance contests, which I think is really cool and amazing of course!  Really hope that everyone will join in on the fun for that and give it a try.

It was a combination of factors that got me slightly "down" (air quotes) at Jammix, one was sort of a pesky one that can't really be helped, but moreover I think the bigger factor was again just needing to be away from people, and also a moment in which I intensely remembered a moment from my past and started to really get lost thinking about it.  Interestingly enough, I danced "softly" for the first time in what seems like forever that night because of the mood.  I very, very rarely do that now, but it's got sort of a nostalgic feeling to it.  To think that I used to dance like that consistently, every time...

Richard pinged me about my idea for starting up something for social waltz and I think I've sat on my hands for too long now, so it's time to finally put words to action.  Unfortunately the deadline for applying to forming a new VSO is on sunday so that option is out until next fall (my bad).  But maybe we can do something else in the meantime regardless?  ...


Monday, April 3, 2017

Every once in a long while, there comes a moment in life when I feel like I have finally regained something from my past again.  Like something so important that finally came back to me in the end, if even for a short moment.  In those moments, I can only feel a deep sense of gratitude, love, and hope.

I had a dream this morning that reflected my inner thoughts and struggles, as dreams often do.  It made me sad; actually, I was crying in my dream.  Sometimes I act on my dreams.  Like reaching out to a friend when they appeared in my dream, even when I wouldn't otherwise.  Or asking if someone is OK.  Sometimes it's good to pay attention to your subconscious feelings.

Despite that, it was an ok weekend.  I hope with all my heart that I can continue to reach closer to my past.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Things have become...."interesting".  I feel a bit like Kaguya-hime.

I think I'm beginning to come to the realization that having a sort of faith/hope is really important to keep me going at the present moment.  Believing in that things will be alright, that I really can hold onto things forever, that I really am getting somewhere -- I'm not going to say it's a self-fulfilling prophecy because it isn't, but it certainly helps.

I finally bit the bullet and -- like I should have done quite a while ago, traded in both my old iphone 6s and 5s for a brand spankin new iphone SE.  Of course, I had to fork over some cash as well, but I decided recently after just being more annoyed at the shape and size of the 6s that enough was enough and that it was time to reclaim at least =this= part of my past.  So I'm happily using one of my old 5s Little Twin Stars cases now, and finally I can actually hold my phone properly again.  Yes, it's silly, but after complaining about the size for basically a year and being jealous of everyone who still had their 5s, and even considering doing the even worse downgrade back to my old 5s (for real), I had had enough.  Man.

A neighborhood cat whom I like to call Fluffy has been stopping over to visit every once in a while and he (she?) is really the best >///<.  I think he stole my heart the other night when he came over to hang out.  Pretty sure he belongs to someone since he looks pretty healthy, well fed, and is super friendly.  Fluffy~

It's been a pretty slow month for my music.  I tried to make a Vocaloid rearrangement of Egoist - Planetes, which as I could have predicted, feel sort of flat...=but= it was a good effort I think.  That ended up going out to my patrons on Patreon (you can support me too at https://www.patreon.com/ddrkirbyisq) and will probably go on my Vocaloid mishmash album of random Vocaloid experiments.  This past weekend I also started on another This Binary Universe-inspired song which was pretty nice!  Hoping to finish that off in the next few days before the end of the month -- probably just needs one more session and it'll be done.

A-zu-ra is working on his 5th and final Sevensongs of Springbreak album this week, which is pretty exciting.  His The Bed of Diverse Flowers is still one of my favorite albums, which was the 3rd in the spring break series.  He's posted some previews of what he's got so far, if you'd like to take a listen and get hype.

Dance continues to be pretty exciting these days.  I'm still on a short hiatus from WCS, but working on a ton of new waltz stuff still, every time I go to FNW.  In addition I reached out to some people who said they would actually be willing to get something started in terms of a weekly waltz practice / workshop session, so =maybe= that will actually happen ???

Last Friday me and a friend did our first trial run of playing Melee on the caltrain on the way back from work and it was pretty darn glorious.  I installed a Windows partition onto my macbook air as well (finally found a reason to), we had the controllers, the adapter, smooth 60fps gameplay, and I even brought a headphone splitter.  Like i said, it was glorious.  We'll definitely have to do it again.

I've also been making significant progress through Earthbound during the train ride home from work on other days -- I've just gotten Poo in my party and am now inside the Pyramid.

About to get my hair dyed later today, which I'm pretty excited about :)  It's important to take some time to treat yourself to things, I think, when the goings are getting a little rough.  Haha, I think it's also during these times that it becomes even more important than usual to try and stick to things like blogging and writing my letters that are at risk of being dropped.

I can't say that things are necessarily good right now.  But there are good things, and that's pretty important.

Friday, March 24, 2017

"You taught me...that some days, you don't always have to try your best.  Sometimes, it's not your fault.  Even if you could have done better, it's not always worth it.  It's okay.  And when you do decide to turn around, the sun and flowers will be there to laugh together with you."

Originally posted Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

12th Journey, feat raisin

Originally posted on the TGC forums here.

A big thank you to raisin for organizing the 5th anniversary Journey event, and also for meeting me out on the sands!

This was my 12th Journey, and the first time that I had done in quite some time!  I've shown a handful of people through the game, letting them play on my account, but I hadn't taken to the sands myself in a long while.  The event was in the middle of the work day for me, but I worked remotely and took a few hours of time out from working for the occasion.  No save reset for me (never done such a thing yet!), but I did cast off my white robe and went as a fully-embroidered red cloak.

As a personal aside, I've been having some interesting times lately -- nothing too crazy happening as far as life goes, but I have definitely been feeling a bit "lost" and ungrounded.  The best way I can describe it is that it felt as if the universe was swirling around and moving about all around me, and I felt as though I did not "have" anything, did not have a foothold or a heading.  At the risk of delving a bit too deep into personal matters, I will say that I care very intensely about the past and often struggle with moving on or letting go.  These feelings were at the forefront of my mind as I set out for my Journey and I knew beforehand that my playthrough would be a good chance to reflect upon my life's Journey as well.

I leaped off the BB right on the dot at the start of the event and it wasn't long before I found a fellow red-clothed companion!  After some happy greetings and faceplanting it was clear that we were both excited to see each other and go play.  It wasn't until after my playthrough that I discovered that the reddie I had encountered was none other than raisin!  I had actually taken my 10th Journey through the sands together with raisin -- a wonderful and fun-filled experience that I recounted here, though we failed to walk through the light together, losing each other in the darkness as we ventured into the snow glitch and lost our way in the midst of the death march.  Reading that account again now really makes me smile -- you showed me so many wonderful things...playing with WMs, a breathtaking meditation plummet, new CB spots, and my first time coasting and doing a dry tower run.  I consider myself lucky to have been blessed with the opportunity to Journey with you again.

It was here in the BB area that I started to realize just how long it had been since I had last taken to the sands -- it took me a bit to remember the exact position of the glyph on the left side in the cave area.  How embarrasing! xP  This was also the first time in a very long while that I had gone out in red.  My, what a different experience!  No longer could I speed across the ground easily, yet at the same time, it made it such a compelling reason to stay close by your side.  Nostalgic indeed.

We went off to collect some glyphs, release some flyers, etc. and I decided to try my hand at the usual CB spot near the glyph on the right.  As I mentioned, I haven't done this in *forever* so I couldn't even remember whether I was supposed to continue to flap or not, and whether or not being too close to one another would throw us off.  Nonetheless I still managed to get a decent CB out of it somehow, though not nearly high enough to ascend to the end of the level.  It was after that that you chirped at me and motioned to try and get through the rock headbonk entrance to the glitch area.  My -- another spot where being in red really made things much more difficult!  You made it in first and I knew where you were trying to lead me, just had trouble pinpointing the exact spot.  Thank you for coming back out and assisting me some more -- eventually we both made it in, hooray!  Unfortunately we didn't have much luck climbing out of the sandfall, as I forget how that area behaves and being in red certainly didn't help.  Funnily enough last time that we tried to play around in that glitch it also led to, as you put it, "a comedy of misunderstandings" xD

We had an unfortunate disconnect in the PD as your game decided to crash -- you were there with me one moment, then gone the next.  I wandered the desert on my own a bit, realizing that again, I had forgotten the relative locations of the landmarks that I knew were there somehow. ^^;  I had some nice times playing with the little scarf carpets, actually, as I bumbled about trying to find my way.  Eventually you managed to find me again!  Rejoice!  We went around collecting more glyphs and at one point took a brief break to practice our faceplant-jumping.  A skill that I have yet to fully master, but I was able to get one!  *chirp*  I also really enjoyed the little nook on the side edge of the structure that we walked along, pushing our heads down into the sand ^^  I've never seen anything like that!  Such fun to be shown these hidden corners of the game by another such as yourself :)

We had some nice coasting in the PD as well...funny -- did you know that you are the only person I've ever coasted with?  We flew together above to the top of the structure and I was able to do my first beamdown, together with you!  What a magical feeling, floating down with such grace!

We did not play for too long in the SC, or the rest stop area -- and I knew that I should not, either, having to eventually get back to work at some point.  We did try to get another beamdown at the dramatic drop area at the end of the level, but my attempts to sync up together with you were proving laughably difficult. xD

In the UG you took me up in the jellyfish room to the glitch and I followed with some small amount of trepidation, not wanting to go too far into glitch-land.  Thankfully, you were an excellent and considerate leader and I felt secure the whole way through!  I'm really grateful for that :)  You showed me scaredy-cat WM like you did during our previous journey, and then we proceeded to the final slide down to the end of the level.  I know there are some interesting things that you can do for that slidedown but am not sure of any of them off the top of my head.  I decided to just fly as quickly as I could toward the bottom, beating the WMs by a mile, but when I looked back you were no longer there, and alas there was only one WM chasing me, not two.  I chirped in the darkness but alas, we had DCed and you were nowhere to be found.  I sat through the history lesson and said a brief hello to the two scarf ribbons on the right before moving onward alone to the tower.

I met another reddie in the tower, one who may or may not have been on their first playthrough, and was acting rather aloof.  I did interact with them a bit, going through a majority of the tower together, but I realized during this that I did not really want another companion at this point.  My hopes of reuniting with raisin were slim at this point and I decided that I was in the mood for finishing my Journey alone and having some time to reflect on things, as well as appreciate the landscape itself.

In the snow level I started to take my time, going along at my own pace, spending a little more time with the fallen carpet flyers than usual.  It was here that I met some more reddies -- one who made an unfortunate fall back down to the beginning of the level, and later on another one whom I crossed the WM field with, only to have him get caught by a WM and get hit.  They dusted on me immediately afterward, leaving me alone in the snow again.

As always, I spent a while lingering at the warm lantern room, it being my favorite spot in the game.  This may seem silly to you, but I actually always thought that the lantern doesn't stay lit for very long, and always just deactivates itself after a set amount of time -- I think because I've always been through that area together with a companion and we deactivated it soon after.  To my surprise that wasn't the case, and I sat there in the lantern room for quite some time meditating in the warm orange glow, with the gentle lantern music cue playing against the rush of the wind outside.  It was actually a very very meaningful experience for me, knowing that I could hold this moment for as long as I wished, especially given the things I had been struggling with in life recently.  Having a comfortable, safe spot that I can stay in and preserve is very important to me as a person, and it is exactly for that reason that I feel so strongly about that room in the game.  As I do with life, I half considered just ending my Journey there, not wanting to move on from my restful place.  But the aforementioned reddie came by and I decided to follow them.

After being dusted on, I was left to tackle the windy corridor and the final death march alone.  As always, the DM is an interesting experience -- I feel like it can conjure such wildly different feelings each time.  This time was unique in that I felt little will to continue onward to the mountain itself.  Of course, I continued to push onward, fulfilling the role I was meant to play, but I later realized that it was not the mountain ahead of me that I truly desired, but rather, the fun times spent together with raisin in the PD that I wanted to return to.  Having lost my connection to the past as well as my pull forward to the future, I found myself lost in an endless sea of white.  I already knew this in my own life, but having the elements depicted as concrete metaphors really brought it all together for me.

I went through Paradise alone as well, but actually enjoyed it quite much.  It's been a while since playing in Paradise alone, and I think it really brings a new feel to the place, being able to spend more time alone with the gorgeous water, the little islands off to the sides of the main path, and hanging out with the whales as well.  Oh, how I loved playing with those whales!  I feel like I am usually too distracted by keeping up with and playing around with my companion to really say hi to them.

I have been considering some concepts of Buddhism lately and trying to come to terms with the idea that we don't really "have anything" so to speak, that life is fleeting and it is not really possible to truly "preserve" anything, despite my strong ideals of hanging onto things.  "The cup is already broken", as they say.  As I crossed the threshold into the light, I watched my figure walk further and further into the distance, surrounded by the blank white nothingness, and for the first time I really, truly watched all the way, focusing on that tiny figure in the center of the screen as it faded until finally there was nothingness again.  I think I'll be reflecting on that image for a while.

Thank you so much again, raisin, for organizing this event and for a wonderful time together (that unfortunately met a premature end).  It was really nice getting to know you in the sands for a time again and I found my Journey to be very theraputic as well.  Perhaps someday we'll actually get to walk into the light together ^^;

Monday, March 13, 2017

Journey's 5th Anniversary, Feeling Lost

Happy 5th anniversary to Journey today!


I talk about this game all the time -- I know right now all the hype is about Breath of the Wild (which looks really cool too), but if you don't already know about the importance and legacy of Journey I highly encourage you to at least look it up.  I'll be joining in the 5th anniversary playthrough event this afternoon, looking forward to it as it's been a while since I've been out on the sands!

Lately I have been feeling quite lost in life -- "like I have nothing".  Somehow I really had a strong feeling that the universe is just swirling, spinning, and moving along, and I was just lost in all of the movement and turbulence.  Like I could not find a foothold, or an anchor to ground me.  Writing my 1000th letter got me thinking about the past too.  I think I really got overwhelmed thinking about all of the things that I have lost over the years, because I did not have a corresponding set of things in my mind that tie me to the present -- things that I know, understand, and am comfortable with.  Apparently I was incredibly sad about this last night because I ended up crying a lot about it.  It made me realize that I am going through life a little too "quickly" at the moment, and that I need to dedicate more time to things that help me feel grounded, anchored, and connected to the past.

My thoughts about the past have really become a lot more informed throughout the years, via various things -- in particular, the time when I tried to skip my annual Christmas letter tradition (and ended up feeling so doubtful and sad about it), and the time when me and my best friend tried to develop our "bird" / return game (the predecessor to Rain) together.  Both of those experiences, as well as the note about the sand castles ("Why?"), along with many other things, made me realize that it's not a matter of whether I should let go of the past and move on.  Because most of the time that's just not something I can do.  Looking backward is just something that I have to do, something that is a part of me.  I need to move slowly through life.  So I know now, that when I am feeling this way, I can't solve things by letting go -- I just have to go more slowly.

Let's try our best again this week.

1000th Letter



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kono monogatari no hajimari no basho de
Yakusoku dake ga kurikaeshite mo
Anata no kioku ni watashi wa zutto ikiteru

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

That feeling when you feel like it's easier to speak to someone through music than through words

"The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something."

-- Seth Godin

ISFJs disagree. xD  (and other Si-doms)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Slow down, life.  One step at a time, ok?

Slept together with Shia last night for about 10 hours.  Really needed that.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Small things hurt entirely more than they should.

I've just finished letter #999...the next one is the big 1000.

Someday I might attempt to spell out my thoughts on Princess Kaguya.  I don't even know if I could, but maybe someday I will try.  Maybe.  Someday.  It's not so simple to explain.

Happy belated birthday to Cinnamoroll!



It's kind of funny, but for reals...somewhere along the way while I was driving to Dancebreak, listening to some pretty awesome music, I just had this feeling that I suddenly rediscovered what makes my life meaningful again.  Making music, dance, creating art, flow state, the process of mastery and feeling that you can achieve anything.  I don't really know how I forgot about it but in that moment I feel like I remembered why I am alive.

I kind of miss working with charcoal.  I mean, I didn't even do it much and I'm not any good at it or anything, but I miss it all the same.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sheesh!  Was going to cook some chicken curry using a premade indian simmer sauce until I read the label again and discovered that it contains almonds???  sigh...  made sa cha chicken instead as a backup.  Been using that sauce more often since dinner with BenZhen -- it's a nice one to have handy!

Seriously though, I get it that nuts are awesome and healthy and everything but I wish for my own selfish benefit that they didn't pop up in these random foods and ingredients every once in a while.  It's hard to be vigilant when things are not regular.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Things are...okay.  It's really nice that it's the weekend.  Dance was nice, as was playing melee earlier today.

People could be...a lot better, I think.  But I shouldn't try and be one to judge.

Kiki was in my dream last night (I think it was last night, and not the night before).  She had some psychopathic French teacher who upon discovering that her class was not fast asleep like they were supposed to or something, basically chased after us like some sort of maniac and used acupuncture-like needles (!?) on us as a sort of punishment.  Dreams are weird.

Played through some more Earthbound the other day, and actually got back to where I was earlier! (Just after Belch)  Have also been progressing through Hatoful Boyfriend, lol.

I hope that things will be alright.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Creature of Habit

It should come as no surprise that I'm a creature of habit.  The continued existence of this very blog should be enough to prove that.  But by "creature of habit" I don't mean simply that I default to doing the thing that I know, but more than that, that I have a =need= to be engrossed in a habitual rhythm (as I'm writing about in a letter -- letter #999!).  Everyone does, to a certain extent, I'm sure, but I feel like there is a strong correlation between my mental and emotional well-being and whether I feel like I am following the daily life patterns that I know to be good.


Currently things are a mix, really.  I'm doing alright, but at the same time, I know that something is wrong.  Fortunately, it's not a "scary" feeling, not that dreaded, awful feeling of "wrongness", which is one of the worst feelings to have.  But rather, it's more of a feeling that where I am right now, is not really quite where I want to be.  That I'm not comfortable with my current "resting place", if you could even call it that.  And I think identifying and becoming able to fall into familiar patterns is something that will help me cope with this feeling.

I think this is, out of anything, one of the ways that MBTI helps me form a more concrete idea of the way that I function -- in that it lets me put a name, "Si", to something that I already know intuitively to be important.  Speaking of MBTI, I totally mistyped my mother all this time and as it turns out I think she is ESFJ not ISFJ which makes a lot of sense.  Now you know...

As the years go on I feel like the number of things I can write about here become less and less, which makes me a bit sad.  There is something really beautiful about being frank and honest about things, despite how crude and immature it may be at the same time.  I feel like many people look back upon their past writings and ideals and shudder...I think I am glad to have grown in many ways since then, but also sad that things have changed, of course.  There are parts of the old me that I don't think I can truly recapture anymore; parts which I think are actually very significant to my being.  Sometimes I do wonder what it would be like if I could still keep a very direct translation from what's on my mind to what is in this little corner of the internet.  I would probably get in a lot of trouble sometimes.  But perhaps it would be healthier in the end, too.

Though I know from firsthand experience (don't we all) that it can be really atrocious for someone to go on about themselves and their problems all the time, I think it is really dangerous for us to make it a habit to cover all that up and engage in small talk all of the time.  For me, personally, at least, it makes me forgot how to be "real" again, which is frightening.  I think it's good to try my best to avoid falling into that.  I know that I am fighting upstream against the current, even more so when it comes to other mediums like phone calls, but it would be unbecoming of me to stop trying.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Viennese Ball 2017

Apparently I'm not quite so great at doing a post on VBall every year (unlike with, say, Fanime).  The last time I wrote about a VBall was from 2015 -- you can find that post here.  I tried looking for a post from 2016 and I found one that referenced VBall, but afterwards there were a bunch of very angsty and depressed entries so apparently I wasn't in a very great place.  Thinking back to it, I actually sort of =do= remember last year's vball and it was a strange mix of emotions, mostly due to certain circumstances.  But that is neither here nor there, as they say...


Viennese Ball, for me, is different than Fanime in the sense that VBall isn't quite wholly different from year to year.  With Fanime so much can happen and I feel like the range of experience is sort of all over the place depending on what ends up happening to me, but with VBall there's only so much that can change from year to year; we usually have more or less the same things happening over the course of the night, after all.

Probably the most notable thing about VBall this year was that it was up in the Palace Hotel in SF again, instead of the Santa Clara Marriot (as it was last year) or the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame (as it was the year before, and a bunch of years besides that).  The Burlingame location is by far the most "familiar" by now, with the Santa Clara one being the most low-stress (so close by!).  I work up in the city now, so it was semi (?) convenient for me being able to drive to work in the morning, then repark my car (paying for parking twice in a day, booo) near the hotel.  That being said I was still (to my dismay) pretty stressed out before the event, though I didn't want to be.  Part of that was just being in an unfamiliar place and situation (always the bane of us ISFJs), trying to make sure that I was able to set aside time to do makeup, fix up my Journey dress, park my car, etc.  In the end it wasn't that big of a deal, but I DID end up having to find a corner of the hotel with a power outlet and pulling out my clothing iron because one of the triangular pieces of my dress was peeling off (didn't get attached securely when I first ironed it on, apparently).  So while everybody was milling around waiting for the ball to start I was off in this random corner near an elevator ironing my dress...

On the plus side everything went AOK in the end and I actually didn't end up having any issues with my costume, though there were a few moments when my scarf was trailing behind me and I was super worried that it would get in someone's way and get destroyed or something.  Sigh.  But enough about all that.

The ball itself was pretty wonderful!  I always say that VBall is really great just by virtue of being an event where you get to see so many people from the community, even those who don't come out much and are essentially in hiding.  The dancing itself at Vball is.....an interesting mixed bag, as there's usually no space on the floor and a bunch of beginners that you really have to watch out for not to run into, but everyone looks really amazing in their fancy clothes and everything.  But just walking around and saying hi to everyone is always great times.

I didn't actually end up being able to catch all of the performances and such that went on during the evening, unfortunately, including some that I would have really liked to, but somehow I was just caught up between dancing, catching up with people, etc.  Whoops.  I was also unreasonably stressed about the waltz competitions (much to my dismay).  I didn't want to admit it but I actually REALLY wanted to do well, not just because I had taken a year off and withheld from joining last year, but because I really do care a LOT about social waltz and have been dedicating quite a lot of effort to improving through the last several months.

In the end I couldn't really have asked for much better.  Me and Talia were tapped out in the cross-step waltz preliminary rounds but only after dancing really hard and putting everything I knew out there.  This is something that I really like about performances and competitions that makes me wish there was more of this in our waltz scene -- the fact that something about performing in front of people really makes you give it your all.  I know from first-hand experience that an atmosphere of constant competition and attention-seeking can be unhealthy, grating even, but I think there is really something to be said about having an opportunity to come together with a partner and really try to put your best foot forward.  As those of us who dance a lot may know, being given that opportunity that doesn't necessarily mean that things end up working out -- sometimes you fall completely flat of your own expectations, but it's difficult to really reach a pinnacle of expression if you don't have a reason to push yourself.

The rotary waltz preliminaries started and I decided that I wouldn't really hold anything back, as who could really say what would happen?  I could try and put odds on whether we would make the finals but would that really help me, or should I just put 100% into it regardless?  So we danced our hearts out and MAN.  The thing is, I've been focusing quite a lot of cross-step waltz lately, but rotary has this super driving energy and when you are really in the zone, good rotary waltz songs just somehow propel you forward and around in this certain unique way.  It's that reason that made me fall in love with rotary waltz in the first place.  So there I was getting super into the first song of the preliminary round and then that song ends and......on comes another good song.  And I'm like, ok, here we go...so I start putting what felt like 120% of my energy into this new song and wow, we are zooming across the floor and around each other and I feel like I'm flying...  I don't really remember for sure, but I think it was at that point that I was actually able to just let go of my own expectations and pressure and just live purely in the moment.  It is the magic of music and motion that lets this special thing happen to us, where nothing else really matters, just you and your partner and the dance and the music, and flying along, and as that song ended I realize that I don't think I've ever really put this much into a dance before.

...and like that, the preliminary round was over and I was.....not just happy, but more importantly, NEEDED WATER.  Holy crap do you have any idea how tiring it is to dance two rotary waltzes one after another while pulling out all the stops, while wearing a big fancy dress and petticoat?  So just as I did two years ago, the first thing I did was go off to get some water.........sheesh!

Fast forward to our turn -- we were the last couple to perform.  And as I walk forward I'm thinking of how I've prepared and waited for this moment, a chance to show everyone what waltz can be, what it can really be, and how many possibilities there are.  And as I'm thinking this, the opening notes "Time" come on and at that moment I sort of just melted a bit.  And I think my thoughts at that point were basically just "oh....oh MAN.....here we go....wow" and at that point I knew that everything was going to be amazing no matter what.  Not only is Time one of my all-time favorite waltzes, with a gosh-darn GREAT musical structure, but has this unique repeating motif throughout the song that I can't help but feel inspired by.  It's a song that I liked so much that I even wrote my own version of it!

I have often said about my composing process that it is not about me forming melodies on my own, but rather about finding the "flow" of a song and allowing it to write itself, allowing it to speak for itself, through my hand.  It's similar to the concept of the Greek Muses, in this way, in that I'm serving more as a conduit through which the song comes through, and I've found that being able to let my brain's creative half function naturally is key in writing good music, as whenever I try to stop and think or reason about what I'm doing it tends to lead to trouble.  Dance is much the same way for me, which I think is why I feed off of and depend so heavily on the music that is being played, as it compels me in a way that I would never be able to replicate otherwise.  I've been asked before how I am able to be so "musical" while dancing and it's an odd question for me to attempt to answer because I can't really imagine being any other way.  I of course have come up with more structured responses about aligning figures to phrases and all that, and logically that all makes sense, but really at the heart of it I feel such a strong connection to the music that it's very difficult for me to dance in a way that doesn't line up properly, especially as a leader.  It's funny if you think about it -- really the leader is playing "follow" to the music...

All that said, I knew exactly what I was going to start the dance off with because I really wanted to show leading from the follower's position.  It's my specialty and there is really so much you can do with it.  Role switching in dance has been a passion of mine for several years now and I really wish we could have more of it!  The rest of the dance went by in what seemed like a flash and somehow, guided by the music, we managed to fit in almost (almost =P) everything I wanted to show.  And then it was over.  I took a deep breath and felt this huge wave of catharsis (and exhaustion, lol!).

I've already said it before, but it meant so much to me hearing everyone's words of encouragement and congratulations for us, and even more to hear that people were inspired by our performance.  I actually had a conversation with a close friend just the day before the ball about why the heck I was so invested in this whole waltz competition thing, and why I even cared so much.  And it was at that time, after our performance, when people were giving us hugs and high-fives, that I found the answer that I was looking for.  I really did think for a second that I was going to start crying.

I can't thank everyone enough.



I've mentioned in the past wanting to start some sort of regular practicing or waltz-lab-like thing for people to come together and work on improving their waltz and learning new things from each other (and also just having fun dancing together!), and I'm finally putting my words to action!  I'll be at Dancebreak at 10PM tomorrow night and would love to work on stuff with other people there.  I don't know what will happen in the future but everything's gotta start from somewhere!