Ice King, Adventure Time

Socially Awkward, In Every Way Possible

What does it mean to "be social" anymore? Is it through uses of @usernames and #ideas? Is it the constant sharing of news and gossip? Does it mean that you should log in and just submit yourself to catching up to people multiple times a day? Liking statuses? Repeating some thoughts?

I've never been one to be social, or to rally the troops, as it were. Sometimes, you sort of get thrown in to a position where you have to. I'm a wall flower. I keep my head down so others don't notice me. I'm fine with not being noticed by the general population.  I have tried to keep a presence online, but that has done little for me up to this point. I know no one reads my blog or pays attention to my status updates. I'm used to it.

But it sucks. I want people to notice me and that is how I can speak up.

My gut is telling me the reason that it bothers me so much to be ignored on social media is because I'm connected to people I know, people I would consider to be friends, or at least familiar with. People I have come to know and love. When I'm ignored on there, it makes me feel little. I share my feelings, my passions, my interests, and some humor. Next to nothing is there.

As an experiment, I decided to step away from social sites like Facebook to see how life is. Here is what I found out. It sucks, just in another way.

In many ways, I'm happier being unplugged. I'm not bogged down in the daily gossip of others. I'm not being forced to block 90% of what I see because its annoying or meant to spark debate. It has lessened the amount of politics (seriously, can we go a day without talking about the election please?), religious discussions, and social debates that I find tiresome and close minded. You're a die-hard Republican that wants to post about guns and how much Obama-care is screwing with millions of people? I don't care. I don't respect the opinions of people that are deeply rooted in one ideology or another. I'm a moderate in most things. There's good and bad in everything. There is never a time I want to be associated with one side and sling mud on the other. I can't trust people sourcing politically or socially skewed news articles. Great, they support your viewpoint. Hooray and all that.

Are you trying to get me to support your cause, share your business, or spread the word of what you do? Give me a reason to. Is it something I can truly stand behind? Will you pay attention to what I have to say? Do you even care as long as you have my support? I can't join these things if I don't feel like I'm a part of them.

Do you like spreading images of things that you believe in without actually contributing to the cause? Does spreading a hashtag around make you feel like you are making a difference? Does changing your avatar to support some cause really affective? Do you just want to do the bare minimum without actually getting involved. Slacktivism is a real problem and too many people participate in it. Just posting about it without context, without adding anything to the discussion, how is that helping?

I don't miss any of that at all.

So why does it still suck?

For many people, its the only way they communicate what is going on in their lives. If you aren't following them, you may not know at all. You don't get a lot of opprotunities to talk to people in real life, so you tell the most people you can in the most efficient way possible. That's fine. When you leave social sites, you miss out on that.

Do the pros outweigh the cons? Only time will tell.

I'm not clammoring to get back on social sites any time soon. I'm fine with my little blog and nothing else. It does increase the feeling of isolation, but it also has been better for my overall viewpoint of humanity, if that makes sense. I just don't know anymore.

Sorry if this seems unorganized, I just needed to get these random thoughts out.
Ice King, Adventure Time

The One Time You Care Is The Time Others Do Not

One thing about me is that I am not a fan of people making a big deal about my birthday. The worst offenders are the social media sites and marketing people. The latter is pretty obvious because...well, they just want my business or want me to buy something. The former is because a certain social networking site tells people when my birthday is and then you get the 50+ messages of "happy birthday" from people who would otherwise not message or talk to you. In a way, that's almost worse than the marketer because this is the only time they put forward any effort in contacting you. I've been struggling lately with the whole contact thing. If someone never initiates a conversation with you or makes any kind of effort to contact you while you have often, is that a relationship you really need in your life? Is it worth it?

Anyways, I told the sites to not show my birthdate because of this. At the risk of sounding like Holden Caulfield, it makes the message come off as disingenuous.

Plus, I've never been a big fan of people making a fuss over the date of my birth. I'm not big on holidays or anything like that. Each day usually feels the same whether it is deemed a holiday or not. I guess I could go on another rant about how people profess goodwill toward men during the holidays, or romantic love during Valentines, or bettering yourself during the New Year, all things we should be practicing to the best of our ability all year round, but that's another entry for another time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have been brought in to this world, it's just not a big deal.

But this year feels different.

I'm less than a week away from my birthday and it’s actually going to be the big 3-0. I'm now heading out of my awkward 20's and heading into probably the equally awkward 30's. Three decades of existing on this plane. I've actually been simultaneously looking forward to it and dreading it for a while. Within the last month those plans have sort of been ground in to dust, much like my overall outlook on life.

Right now it looks like it will be just like any other day which typically would make me as happy as a lark, but it actually really bothers me. For one, I've felt more like a socially discarded person with the past month with little interest in leaving my space. Secondly any plans I made have been overtaken by other things. It was going to be a good time too. I was going to invite some friends to meet up at a local gaming place, we'd play some board games we enjoy for the evening, and the next evening I was going to go to one of my favorite places to eat with my family. Then life happens.

Here is how my mind works. This may be the same for others, it may seem insane, but this is my though process nonetheless. Going back to the social awkwardness thing, the more I’m left alone, the more rejected I feel. The more I put myself out there to talk, interact, or something else related and it doesn’t get reciprocated, the worse I feel about myself. The more I’m by myself, the more I’m apt to just shut myself out from the world. The more plan that get destroyed, the more I talk myself out of doing more. Take the first thing I was going to do, an evening of gaming. I was thinking of who I was going to ask to be there, what day we should meet up, and then doubt overtook my head. “This person has work on that night”, “This is the day this person has night classes”, “These people haven’t been responsive to anything lately, so they probably won’t show up”, and various other reasons. By the end of the night, I convinced myself that most likely no one would show up or would even care. This…didn’t help out my psyche much. The more I think about the possible rejection, the worse I feel, the worse my outlook is, the more I expect to be rejected. It’s an awful feedback loop with no real way out.

Oh well, who needs others, I have family, right? Well, chance happened there as well. The usual chores that gets done on the past weekend got pushed back to the next because of some medical issues. It couldn’t be helped. I did everything in my power to get through these things and in the end between that and the “holiday traffic being too bad”, things got pushed back to next weekend. It’s the kind of stuff that takes all day and you are too beat for the rest of the day to do anything else. So unfortunately that got blown out of the water too. I love them and I am thankful they are still a part of my life, but it doesn’t make it sting less.

With all this in mind, my current plan is to stare at the wall or out to traffic all day, doing nothing. I would say I would play video games or do something immature, but that kind of stuff just hasn’t felt like the fun it used to be. Things I enjoyed aren’t enjoyable to me. If you read my entry from a week ago you would see how I’ve been struggling with identity, wondering whether I should be true to myself or conform to some sort of more socially acceptable person. In wondering all of this I have lost my interest in a lot of things. When you don’t have people to talk about these sort of things it makes it feel empty, pointless, meaningless.

The worst part about all of this is that I have to put on a happy face, be the jovial fool people have expected of me, show a façade of pleasantry. All this while wishing I could just crawl in to a fetal position and just shut down for who knows how long. I was honestly hoping that when I left my adolescent teen years, or my learning more adult situation 20’s, that I wouldn’t have to keep doing this. But alas, here I am. I’m almost 30 and I am still doing the same thing, just with a lot more anxiety and more of a barrier than before. I wish I wasn’t cursed with these feelings, these situations, but that seems to be my lot in life.

Maybe my 30’s will be like a renaissance. Perhaps I will soar like a phoenix which will usher a halcyon period that will make me forget about all of these feelings. Who knows, it could be my best decade. I’m not holding my breath. If my experiences have taught me anything, all I have to look forward to is more of this. It is true what they say: familiarity breeds contempt.

…and many more…
Ice King, Adventure Time

Don't Engage Life On Hard Mode. It Isn't Worth It.

This entry is coming from the perspective of a man that is broken, beaten, and at the risk of sounding alarmist or blowing things out of proportion, suffering.

I'm going to call what I'm doing playing life on hard mode. For those not familiar with the term, that means taking on a task that could be easier but ultimately taking the hard road. For example, if you like puzzles and you review the selections of puzzle books, there are some labeled "fun and easy", "challenge", or with no qualifiers that I would call "normal". You have a choice in any of those. Some people want to just have some fun and choose the fun and easy route. Some want a genuine challenge and choose the tougher book. Why would someone do that? Maybe the easy one isn't engaging enough. Perhaps there is a greater sense of satisfaction in completing a puzzle meant for experts. Whatever the reason, that person chose the hard mode when it comes to puzzles. For people familiar with video games, you should know instantly what I mean when I say hard mode.

I sometimes wonder what it is going through life as a person that is more socially acceptable. It looks like it is a more satisfying time. In the here and now they are rewarded for being socially normal. Then take people like me. I never do anything the easy way when it comes to social conventions. Let's review:

I despise politics openly, I find sports boring to watch, I don't have any interest in cars, and none of my hobbies really falls under normal social conventions. There are two things I enjoy and can talk at length, video games and anime. "But wait," you say "I thought geek culture was on the rise? I hear people playing games and watching japanime all the time." That gets hairy too. I'm not someone that plays a lot of games that get mainstream attention outside Nintendo. Call of Duty? Played it. Wasn't impressed. Madden? That's sports, and as previously established, I have no interest in those. Shooters in general? In general, they all look the same and like Call of Duty they don't interest me. Car games? Meh. Nothing to talk about there. I play Mario, Zelda, been getting more into RPGs lately, and anime games. Let's face it. When it comes to most of those games, there still isn't much to talk about aside from RPGs, and when it comes to those, the ocean is vast and varied. It's hard to get people on the same page.

Case Study: Two of the best games I played last year are Danganronpa: Happy Trigger Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. The gameplay is somewhat of a cross between Ace Attorney and a Visual Novel. I know in my heart of hearts that most people never have heard of them. These games opened my eyes to something interesting. A compelling story can make or break a game. The story captivated me. It was relatable, intriguing, involved mystery elements that kept you guessing, and it actually triggered honest emotional responses, something a game hasn't done before. The character work was nothing short of fantastic. Each one had a distinct personality and design with more story to delve in to that isn't explicitly stated. I could talk about those games for hours. I love them. Everyone has refused me the opportunity. It's a plot that you shouldn't spoil. It ruins the experience when you go in knowing what is going on. You won't understand it if you haven't played it. Try as I may, going as far as to buying copies for people I know just so they could play it, I just can't get anyone to try it. Most wouldn't care for the style and that's fine. I thought I knew some that would appreciate it. But every time it came up it was rejected for one reason or another. I would show enthusiasm, interest, do everything aside from spoiling the experience. Nothing. I was and still am refused any kind of conversation about it. Do you have any idea how much that sucks? You have something you are passionate about, and you are denied the opportunity to express it. "I know, you can talk about it online!" Yes, I know I can. It isn't the same.

The more we've become connected as a people, the more distant we are in real life. That is my honest experience. I can talk all day to someone online, but I honestly don't feel any better for it. I might as well be talking to a wall, or to an imaginary friend. I don't know who the person truly is, or what they mean. Inflection and tone are rarely expressed well in normal online conversation. Other people butt in and either derail the topic or take it over entirely. I can't connect with people on a personal level online, especially if I don't know who they are. Take a book club for example. Imagine if the entirety of the book club met online, no one really knew each other, and everything was unorganized. Why are so many of those groups still meeting in person? The reason for it is the same reason I don't participate in an online only sense.

Personal relationships can't be online only either. It continually feels like an uphill battle just to get people to meet up and do something. Everyone has excuses on why they can't come. People say they will be there and don't show up. If you have to cancel it for some reason sometimes people respond with a "Aw, I was going to be there too :(". I've gone through this dog an pony show so many times, that I'm getting tired of trying. I was planning on having a get together with some friends in a couple weeks near my birthday, but when I was making the plans I logically told myself "How many would actually come. Person 1 has work. Person 2 has night classes that night. etc." It boiled down to maybe one other person would actually show up. I've been through these things so much that I've effectively talked myself out of doing anything about it. Can you blame me? I can't even convince my own family to do something together for one evening. Hundreds of excuses on why we can't do something.

Not only all of this, but I recently decided to take a break from being on social networking sites because I found myself becoming irritated with the majority of what was being said on it and at the risk of sounding narcissistic, no one seemed to care if I did anything on there or not. I have outright stated that I am not going to be on there for a while and there are multiple ways to contact me regardless. It's been over a week. Do you know how many people have actually talked to me? 1. Funny story, that one person, he isn't on Facebook either. Am I always the one that has to initiate contact? If I am, does that mean the other person doesn't care? Is that relationship worth keeping in my life? These thoughts are plaguing my mind more and more. Why am I at the point where I am questioning these things in the first place?

I love the people in my life and people in general. I care about their lives and I try to take an active interest in something. Randomly people I know will enter my head. I genuinely want to see them be happy. I don't want to pry or interfere in their life. I want to be like a cheerleader (Good luck getting that image out of your head). I want to see them succeed. I want to see them do their best. I want them to know they have my support. I may barely know them as a person, but I still feel the same way. This feeling is starting to feel like a curse as well. My life would be easier if I didn't care about others. There would be less pain. Less to worry about. I could focus on myself more. I'm...I'm just not wired like that, try as I may.

That last paragraph sucked. Too many statements began with "I". That's bad form. I apologize.

What else can I point out? I don't drink alcohol. I refuse to take drugs. I'm religious, but I don't flaunt it. I don't use harsh language. I like Internet memes. I keep my topics of conversation clean. I prefer comedy to tragedy. I think too many people take life too seriously. Things are at a point to where I only watch things that make me happy and nothing involving human emotion. I joke a lot. Sarcasm is seasoned in my speech. My body is large which doesn't appeal to most people. I hate feeling alone. When things get awkward I try to find a happy place. I refuse to watch the news simply because I can't cope with what is going on. I'm screaming and terrified on the inside. Ultimately, I'm unsatisfied, beaten by the world, and crushed because I every time I think I found something or someone that gets me, it suddenly isn't there. I have to hide these feelings because people start thinking worse of me. I have to tell people I'm doing well when I really want to express my frustration. With a smile on my face and a joke on the tip of my tongue, I put on this facade and let people go about their day.

The main point I am trying to come across is that I'm taking the hard road of life. One that ultimately will lead me down a lonely path. I want to be myself, but that self just doesn't appeal to people. I want to be social, go out and have fun, but no one likes my brand of fun. Sometimes I find someone that may like something I do, but it never stays. Something always goes wrong. I don't desire popularity. I don't want a lot of people in my life. I don't think I'm asking for much. I just want some people that...would just enjoy the things I do. Try out my recommendations. Talk about games like Danganronpa ad nauseam. I want to stop feeling like an outsider. I don't want to always be the one reaching out. I don't want to be in a room full of people and still feel alone. I want to forget things like friends, lovers, and companions exist. I wish I could get rid of this social anxiety I have, this shyness. Nothing has gotten rid of it. I wish I was either different, or someone would just notice me and give me some benefit.

Yeah, I'm kind of a mess right now. Playing life on hard mode stacks all the chips against you. It's you vs. the world. Everything you love, everything you are, none of it will help you. My advice, stay away from this path. You won't get rewarded in the end. You won't feel good. Even if something comes out of it, the amount of pain you go through probably won't be worth it. Don't do it. I want people to be happy. If you do want to be happy, please don't do what I do. Let me be the fool. Let me be the cautionary tale. At this point, that may be all that is going for me. happy....
  • Current Mood
    crushed crushed
Ice King, Adventure Time

Probably Coming Soon - Social Anxiety and Depression Entries

Hey there, just thought I would preface the next few updates with this entry. I've had a few rough weeks recently and it has taken a toll on me both mentally and emotionally. I finally broke down (several times, in more ways than one) and talked to a doctor about it. I've had a feeling that I've been suffering from what people call depression for a few years now, but it has gotten really out of hand as of late. I've also experiencing a lot of anxiety, especially in social situations. So I'm getting some much needed help with these things, and I just feel like I need to document what I'm doing, what got me to this point, and what I plan on doing in the future.

I'm hoping to explain what has been going on in a way that can be both serious and humorous. I don't know what my motivation is. Maybe as a journal detailing my descent into super apathy. Perhaps as a way of explaining my behavior to others that may not understand. Possibly, a personal friend can read these, message me out of the blue, and offer help. Long shot, maybe some stranger on the Internet will read these and realize what they feel isn't abnormal, that there are people that struggle with these things in their own way, and try to find a way to feel better. It's a bit optimistic view for me, but I'm hoping that these entries will be a stepping stone to something positive.

I don't have a plan for how many of these there will be, how often I plan to post, or how long they will be, but I have one in the works as we speak, so stay tuned.
Ice King, Adventure Time

A Case Study of a Community Website I Used to Enjoy

The Internet scene has changed quite a bit in the span of just a few years. Some content providers have gone through some changes, for better or worse. Social media buzzwords and sponsorships have become the new norm to keep independent websites up an running instead of trusting in original content to keep traffic on their sites at a high. Instead of keeping a good site up, Youtube has become a hub to distribute video content and if you aren't using it, then you are giving up a large chunk of your audience. I'm saying all of this to say that the overall trends for content is taking an avenue that doesn't appeal to me. This line of thought came from me taking a more critical look at a site I frequented for years, but recently have stopped going to named ScrewAttack. I know this is going to seem like an overly critical piece on here, or possibly labeled "bashing", but I am going to do my best to show things from my perspective and why I'm more or less not interested in that content anymore.

ScrewAttack started off as an independent site started by a couple of guys, Tom and Craig, that focused on not being your typical video game site like IGN or Gamespot. There was a focus on Top 10 lists, reviews, retro spotlights, and just random fun. Soon the amount of content garnered them to start hiring a crew to help make more content. Sure, some of it was cheesy, but it was really fun to watch and I would spend hours trying to catch up on the archives.

Soon, the people that worked there because well-known to the ScrewAttack community. They would participate in regular videos, but also ones just showing off the daily life at the office that gave it a more personal and fun look. I didn't see them as just a profile pic next to a blog entry, or a nameless person rattling off a review, I saw them as individuals with specific personalities.

There was also a big push for third party content. Original shows like Captain S, Life in a Game, and Nametags helped bring more variety and fun to the site. I even remember waiting for the finale to Nametags by watching a marathon of previous episodes each hour until the finale was posted. I even had a friend that followed the series, and he was as excited as I was. Jared, one of the people responsible for the series, eventually became a staff member of ScrewAttack, first working at their game store GameAttack, and afterwards becoming the host of Hard News. The excitement I felt when I saw him join the ranks with his sense of humor was high.

Over time some staff was changed for one reason or another, though I never really saw a problem with it as most was just changing jobs in the industry or was moving from the area. New people were introduced and while it never felt completely like it was back in the Destin-Corey-Jose days, it still felt the same. Soon ScrewAttack started to do daily live streams of different games, introducing me to some new titles, but it also had a sense of fun and it allowed for the community to know the staff more. It was still a great time to be part of the community.

I know there are other highlights, like letting the community choose the new feature through voting, the Mario Party After Dark series, creating an entire gaming convention, and a focus on community blogs and videos, but cluttering this entry up with more nostalgia would defeat the message I am trying to get out of it.

About a couple years ago, give or take, some strange things were going on. It felt like there was a different direction being taken. Multiple new features were being made, but none of them lasted more than a few months. Partners started to appear less and less. The live stream show went from weekdays to once a week. Less content was about the personalities and started to seem a bit more "conform-y". More staff was turned over, none of the features were sticking around, and there was a shift in tone.

A new show started up called Death Battle, not exactly the most original idea, but one that has generated a lot of views and brought in a lot of new people to the site. Nearly every time a new episode or preview was posted, the site crashed from too much traffic. In a way, that is a good problem, but this is something I will come back to in a bit.

I started to feel less enthusiastic about the site's content. I don't know why, but it just felt either passionless or too generic. There was a short-lived series called "Hey, Let's Play" which is a face-cam-less let's play video series which reminded me of other content creators like PeanutButterGamer, Game Grumps, and various others.

ScrewAttack eventually was bought out by a parent company which gave me hope that there would be some new ideas coming out from that acquisition. Unfortunately, the content that I grew to love and enjoy started becoming more scarce, like Video Game Vaults, Day in the Life, and The Clip of the Week. They started to bring back the live stream show several nights a week, but it just seemed like a let's play of recent titles and not a showcase of wacky, challenging, or retro titles. It just felt the same as other content providers.

The community, which I felt was one of the best online communities (and still is compared to others) started getting an influx of newbies that were just asking about Death Battle. Death Battle this and Death Battle that. Seriously, go to any recent ScrewAttack video on Youtube. You won't go far without seeing someone complaining about not enough Death Battles coming out. A new show with just the animated portions came out and while not as popular as Death Battle, it still gets more views than regular content. It's understandable when something becomes so popular that you want to cater to the crowd more, but it has gotten to a point where anytime I went to see a video about something completely unrelated to Death Battle, the comments were about Death Battle.

The actual site is better, but not as active. Now that all the content they produce is on Youtube, there isn't much incentive to visit the actual site. I went to the site only a small handful of times the past few months and I noticed there is less emphasis on community-driven content and partner content and more about the latest original content from ScrewAttack which isn't exactly a bad thing, but it feels like it is marching to a different tune from what it was years ago. New personalities were added to the staff, but they feel like they lack, well, personality. It seems that genuine and entertaining commentary has been swapped with the profanity-laden stereotypes that gamers have been associated.

I also realize that over the years I've changed as a person as well. I'm finding the journalism aspect of gaming and entertainment in general is starting to take a more narrative turn and is turning simple things into more of a collegiate term paper. Everything is symbolism, there is deeper meaning to everything, a random joke actually reveals a character's insecurity. People will super analyze something that is meant to be simple. One community I go to once in a while for Adventure Time enthusiasts is full of people that can't let a single episode go without mentioning a larger narrative or blowing a tiny thing out of proportion. Guess what? Sometimes a joke is just a joke. Everything is not tied to a larger mythology. Sometimes an episode or game can stand alone without it meaning more than the entertainment it brings.

I've also mentioned how content is also becoming more commercialized and is more about asking people to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, or whatever. There isn't anything wrong with that if the creator has content you care about (PeanutButterGamer is one such person for me). Sponsored content is also becoming more of the norm by having the creator put in either a small advertisement at the beginning or end of a video, or having an entire video dedicated to their product. Some creators can do this effectively, and others doing this look foolish, especially creators like ScrewAttack that took pride in being independent and went for years without the sponsorship marketing. Again, I understand that it helps pay the bills and allows you to create more content you want to do, so it isn't there to annoy the viewer, but it just feels off, especially if it feels like an advertisement you would see from regular Youtube ads.

So in short, that is why I've shied away from that community, and most online communities in general. I've went from wanting to be part of an online culture to just wanting to stick to local fare and talk to people I actually know. When someone creates something I enjoy, I will share it with people or will send them a private message thanking them for their work and showing appreciation for their effort.

So ScrewAttack, thank you for the years of entertainment you have provided. The content has gotten me through some hard times and I truly enjoyed the community you built. I'm sorry that the direction you are taking doesn't align with my interests, but I hope you find success in that way, or perhaps understand my comments and make some changes that will bring me and many others back. Aside from checking out some archives, I won't be visiting your community for the forseeable future. Best of luck to you.
Ice King, Adventure Time

Searching for that Lost Feeling

Livejournal can be stupid. "Oh, you don't remember your login information? 1 hour ban. How do you like them apples, punk?" This causes a hostile user experience that irritates me to no end.

I had a reason to blog, and now I need to remember what that was. I'm also listening to ABBA. I don't know the reason for that either.

The past month has been pretty difficult for me on a personal note. I think one thing that has made it difficult is that I have to put on a facade of contentment and happiness to those around me. Partially because evidently that is "professional" but also because I have a hard time opening myself up to others on a personal level. Over the years I've grown accustomed to only trusting in myself and not needing others in my life, but that also makes me look like someone that is a bit of a loner.

Part of the problem is that I don't want to drag other people down. People tend to do that to me. I'll talk to someone, and usually something negative or depressing comes out. I try my best to not be that kind of person, giving people the benefit of the doubt, or trying to explain away the ugliness in the world. I'm not in denial or trying to sugarcoat things, but unless I see something with my own eyes or hear it with my own ears, I try to rationalize it. My guess is that it is my lone way of not completely losing my faith in humanity.

So mid-term elections happened, and living in a "Holy gosh we are republican country and anything else is stupid and lame and non-existent" area sucks. I do not vote on a single party line and I never will. I vote on a person, the person I feel represents me on some level. Last presidential election I voted for Chuck Norris with running mate Oprah Winfrey, so take that sentiment with a grain of salt. In any case, it saddens me when I see people voting for one party just because they are on a certain party. I truly believe that around here if a monkey that flings feces had that big red R next to its name, it would be elected easily. It makes me feel like people really aren't thinking for themselves or about the issues at hand. Towing the line as we say. This makes me lose my faith in humanity a little.

Then there are experiences like I had the other night at a local arcade. This young girl, probably no more than 7 walked up to me, said she loved my Zelda shirt, and we had a conversation, an honest to Betsy conversation about Zelda games. She told me she loved Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. I asked her if she liked Hyrule Warriors and she said her favorite character was Midna. She said that character by name. I gave her a high five (high for her in any case) and walked away from her, not because I didn't like her, but because I didn't want to be called a creeper. This is the kind of nation we live in. I'm scared to talk to a child because I might be taken to court for luring her. Despite my paranoia, it was a fun interaction and it made my faith in humanity rise a little.

Actually, some of the best times I've had lately have involved children. Please let me explain before you contact the authorities. I was at an expo and was playing Super Mario 3D World, and kids kept coming up and asking if they could play. I told them of course they could, and I had more fun playing games with kids than with the competitive Smash Bros players. Maybe its because the kids actually wanted to have fun (one kid kept trying to pick up my character and throwing it off the screen. He's going places) and wanted to experience the game. Several of them haven't played the game before, so I was teaching them the controls, but I toned down my play so they could learn and lead the party some. I don't know, just seeing kids smile and have fun was really rewarding to me, yes, even the kid that delighted in killing me off. I think part of it may be for nostalgic feelings, knowing I was like that when I was younger, or that I was trying to show kids a fun hobby that I enjoyed.

Childlike wonder and innocence is something I wish I could feel more often. Too many times does the world try to drag me down with dramatic trifles and disappointment, and it does get to me. Things like video games just don't resonate with me like they used to. I remember playing Yoshi's Island for the first time after opening it one Christmas morning. That was a glorious time and I remember just having so much fun with that. The latest installment of Super Smash Bros is about to come out and...I just don't feel the excitement like I used to. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to try it out and to see the new amiibo functionality, but at the same time, when I open that disc and put it in the system, its just going to be another game. A good game, but just another one to the many I have played.

In contrast, I recently played a pinball machine at the aforementioned arcade and it blew me away. It was called Medieval Madness and I had that smile and excitement that I missed so much in recent years. Flipping the ball to open the gate, and watching the pixel art show a hole in the castle wall from my pinball cannonball was really fun. I loved it, and no one is able to take that away from me.

The thing I suppose I'm looking for the most is contentment and happiness, and the world at large doesn't care. There always has to be some controversy. There always people telling me how I should act or be. There is always people that mainly talk about troubles of this life. Why can't I just watch a video of some let's players without the comments section being filled with words of hatred and stirring up drama? Why does my hobby have to be dragged in a war of gender politics and that calling myself a gamer is now a bad thing? Why do people want to fight over ideologies and law reform with people that don't think the way they do? Why can't adults act more like kids and try to find fun and happiness?

I'm clearly tired as I don't think my thoughts have any kind of coherence. Originally I had an idea of what I wanted to talk about on here, and instead I ended up talking about faith in humanity vs children. So, I think I'll end it here, because my leaps of logic don't seem to be here anymore.

Have I ever mentioned that my favorite work of fiction is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger?
Ice King, Adventure Time

Why So Not Serious?

So here is the rub. I've been talking to a girl for over a month and a half now, and I really thought she could be a special person in my life. The main issue was that she lives in Texas and my current schedule doesn't allow me to go visit her. We've talked about a lot, and I realized that I'm not the guy for her. I don't know if its because of my inadequacies or if she has trouble getting me, but here I am, wondering about my personality.

I'm not what most people would call attractive. I've come to terms with that as life has gone on. I have been told that I seem charismatic or charming. I'm not sure how people see that, but I've been told that on multiple accounts. Maybe it has to do with personality. One aspect of my personality is what I consider my overall goofiness.

Screwball by nature. That's been my calling for the longest time. Do I watch cartoons? Yes. Do I play video games? Absolutely. Can I laugh for a long time about a stupid Barbie CG cartoon that is both a fail and a win? Indeed. Do I know anything about sports? Not too much. I have started calling random sports the generic term "sportsball". Does it make me sound like a five year old? Probably. I personally think it's hilarious. Yes, I know basketball and football, but calling it sportsball gives it a sense of whimsy in my little world. I know it does come off as childish or ignorant, but if I gave my serious assessment of whatever sport is on, it would go something to the tune of "boring, stupid, why are we watching this, we are wasting our lives". I figure calling it sportsball will keep me from getting beaten up.

I don't do this with everyone. There are people so passionate about sports that if they hear it, they will be enraged. Seriously, stop taking it so seriously. Its a game where men and/or women are running around scoring arbitrary points. I know that's how others view video games or anime, but I'm not militant when people say something wrong or that they don't get it.

Maybe I should take life more seriously. I mean what has being silly gotten me? I'm still single, I still feel crippling loneliness from time to time, and I still get depressed. Perhaps if I took like more seriously then I'd have more of a support team?

One problem is that I feel like that would be too much for me.

Explaining it is difficult. In some ways, I have a child-like fascination with some things. The first time I was on an airplane was magnificent. I had the biggest smile and a fantastic sense of awe, being able to see the atmosphere and clouds. It was amazing. Maybe I shouldn't have expressed my amazement as openly as I did. The inner child in me was super excited. I could also watch more mature things on television. Like those murder procedurals they put on TV. Murder and mayhem. Maybe getting more of a serious world view is something I should consider. I mean watching the news about people dying, unrest, political turmoil, and war shouldn't be enough reality in my life. Maybe I should embrace it, become more of an armchair political savant or economic strategist. I shouldn't watch cartoons to help me escape life and not get jaded by the world. I should just accept it as an inevitability that this mortal coil has to offer.

Maybe treating people with a cool sense of detachment would work as well. I can stop caring about what is going on in so-and-so's life and how I could help improve it. If someone is down, I shouldn't try to make them laugh or mock my own life to make them feel better. I can just offer a shoulder to cry on, or listen with no feedback. That's what I pretty much get. Maybe I am trying too hard or seem too desperate. I should treat people like you treat wet, smelly piece of garbage. From a distance, and get it over with quickly.

I can try to rewire myself, but I'm afraid of going off the deep end if I do. Its the banter, the laughter, making people smile or react that makes me feel sane. True, it makes me look not as sane or immature in the process, but at the same time it beats whatever is on the news, whatever show is displaying domestic disputes. If I decide to go more mature and stop caring about these things, would I have a more difficult time smiling, or finding the beauty in life? I feel like I have a difficult time without going down that road as is.

I've been hoping that having a child-like demeanor has kept that spark of happiness alive and has given me more of a personality of whimsy and adorableness. In the end, maybe its hurting me.

Looks like I need to re-evaluate some things in my life.
Ice King, Adventure Time

One Thing

I imagine walking on stilts is a pretty difficult task. I never bothered with it because I don't really have the body built for it, and I don't have the best sense of balance. I remember the fiasco that ensued when I learned how to ride a bike and I'm NOT willing to relive that situation. Still, if a trained monkey in Sri Lanka can do it, surely anyone can. All I know is that it takes quite a bit of concentration to wield those things, and all it takes is one small pebble to throw things off kilter and send the passenger careening toward the ground.

I'm not an expert on stilt walking by any means, but I do think that it can take one thing, even seen by others as insignificant, can make a difference. Why does NASA make so many checks on a shuttle before liftoff? Because one tiny infraction of the shuttle can cause a disaster like the Challenger. I believe it took one minor thing to bring that mission to a tragic end.

Some people sometimes has that one thing that changes their life. How about a couple that suddenly find out they will be parents soon? That one bit of news will change lives for those people. They may need to make lifestyle changes, find better jobs, seek some stability, change habits that could be harmful for a newborn. There are also emotional adjustments that are made as well. Maybe they need to suddenly "grow up" some and become more responsible. Perhaps they have to change their language or how they talk about people with the kid around. That one thing can change a lot.

What about meeting that special person in your life. I'm a firm believer in finding someone that just doesn't complete you, but is someone that will make you want to be a better person. I wouldn't want to be with someone that would be fine with me not improving myself. I've seen people change their character, for the better, just because they have that motivation, that special person in their life. One thing, but it can change a lot.

Who knows why pebbles, rocket integrity, children, or a significant other can change so much, but it's like the tiny grain of sand that can irritate an oyster into producing a pearl. It doesn't have to take a ton or people, an army, or countries to institute change, it can be at a microscopic level. A group of many can change things, but it can take just one tiny thing to ruin it all.

Troubles in life don't need to pile on a person to make them break down. Sure, stress and life can bring a person down, but sometimes all it takes is one word or a gesture to completely break a person. Sometimes a person falling can bring a world crashing down for someone else. It may just take a contrite look to make a person fume in anger. Something insignificant.

I've felt like I've been on a downward descent lately, and despite trying to find happiness in everyday life, trying to stay positive, trying to push back against all of the negativity in my life, it has just been overwhelming me. Something that should not have been a big deal just made me break down recently. All of those negative things, the pressure, the overwhelming nature of moving on with my life, just hit me like a wrecking ball. Fear consumed me and sadness dwelt within my soul. I just want something positive. Some good news. Something to restore my faith in life. Hearing stories about people doing bad things, things that were bright parts of my life becoming darker, people getting shot, sexually assaulted, burned, destroyed, people just spewing negativity all over the place, and wondering if anyone is thinking about me has just brought me down once again. I'm picking up the pieces and trying to figure out what I should do next. With nothing to really guide me and no one to really talk to, I'm just afraid I'll be back here again, in fear, just because of one thing setting my trigger. I need an out. Badly.

Something needs to change.
Ice King, Adventure Time

This is a Journal Entry

Dear Journal,

Things have been progressing as well as one would assume for someone in my position. I'm sorry about not writing much lately, but you know how it is. I really should write some things down because I need to release my feelings once in a while and I don't quite have that solace. You are about the only thing I can relate my feelings to because either people don't quite understand to empathize enough for me. That is why I turn to you from time to time. I really need to more often.

Work has been going as expected. I think I had my first kind of burn out, but things have gotten better since then. I still wouldn't my job for what I used to have, and it is still a great place for me to build my professional skills, but it can get wearisome getting stuck on a project in development hell. Still, my worst day there doesn't even come close to my best day anywhere else I have worked.

I'm finding out I need to balance my work life and personal life better. I've felt like I've been a bit isolated more than usual with my social circles and it shows. Something I learned is that I need some 'me' time once in a while. Yeah, I do need a Saturday dedicated to Minecraft once in a while. Maybe I just need to road trip to some destination, even if it is for just a day. Too many things have changed. A few weeks ago, trying to vent some built up frustration from everyday life, I did some touring in my town. I went to places I haven't been to in years and was shocked at how much things have changed, just blocks away. I went to a town I haven't been to in a while and places I regularly went to just weren't there anymore. I try not to get nostalgic or overly attached to the past, but seeing things just...disappear...just stings a little for some reason. I even saw a building I never have been to, that I've always passed by without a second thought, was demolished. Even though I had no ties to that market, it still felt some kind of remorse. It could have been a lack of caffeine for all I know. Yeah. I'll go with that.

Fine, I'll admit that I do have a fear of forgetting my past and people in my life, and seeing things disappear bothers me. I guess I always had this, but given recent personal life things that have come up, it just augmented that ever so much. Kind of like why I still post on here. To me, this is a living, breathing document that maybe will remind me of things for the future.

In less awkward news, I am actually going to be attending an anime con with some friends for the first time! I mean sure, I've met friends at conventions before, but this is the first time I'm going with a group. Even if the con itself doesn't impress me, it will still be a good experience to do this. I don't have to worry about people I work with, teachers, chaperons, or anything like that. It should prove interesting.

Maybe I should Tweet about it. What do you think, journal?

Also, if I ever forget, I just want to write down that I was disappointed in the How I Met Your Mother finale. Such a waste.

The wife search is still happening, though I keep losing hope more and more. I mean sure, I found a site with girls that should think the same way I do, but even on there they can be really cruel. I've been trying to fill my time with voices, whether it comes from Youtube, television, or something else, just to fill that void in my life. I know it isn't healthy, but it keeps me from spiraling into some kind of worse depression than I would normally be in. Yeah, I've been wanting some physical human contact, but aside from some handshakes, fist bumps, and high fives, nothing doing there. I try not to be emotionally needy, but dangit, I want a hug once in a while. In fact, journal, it has been so bad that I've actually been looking up hugging machines. Those exist, did you know that? I guess some psychotherapists use them to calm down people with some mental conditions like autism. I could build my own for the low price of $1500. Maybe that is the price I have to pay to get some validation in my life.

It's funny how people interpret human interactions. Growing up, I had to learn about "being touched" in places that wasn't appropriate. Stranger danger, all that kind of stuff. I know that is important when you're young, journal, but I also wonder with that and the advent of the Internet if we have become emotionally bankrupt as a race. I have it ingrained in my head that getting hugged will eventually lead to trouble. I'm sure this is the same for people in my generation. We've learned to get by with not displaying that closeness in that manner. Most people learn to cope without it, maybe because they have someone in their life that fulfills that, or maybe they learned to do without. I've tried, but honestly it sucks that I can't trust someone to receive a hug well. Based on what people have told me, I can't help but picture me hugging someone, them pulling violently away, punching me, and walk away. That may be funny to picture, and maybe my imagination is overzealous, but I honestly feel that is what would happen. I have no evidence that something else will happen. Hugs have become taboo in our modern society, and I think that is stupid. Well, hugging outside the context of a romantic relationship or family setting. Something I haven't experienced in years. I may not experience again for a while. Maybe ever.

Isolation issues aside, I did manage to avoid the social black hole that is the birthday reminder people. I purposefully changed my birth day close to my birthday just so I could avoid dozens of birthday wishes. Two people remembered, whether it was from a third-party app or something else remains to be seen, but it seemed appropriate.

Oh, and someone else moved away without telling me. Yeah, I'm pretty irritated about it, but what can you do. Perhaps I'm better off.

Thanks for listening, journal. I'm so glad I can count on an electronic entity to listen to me ramble about my life. I have to get it out somewhere. I've been pretending that you've been a person this whole time, journal. You are sitting there, patiently listening to me, embraced me when I talked about my physical intimacy issues, and understood where I'm coming from. Journal, you get me. I'm not just a person that is a programmer, or a person that is a self-proclaimed geek, or someone you feel obligated to listen to because of life's social ties. I'm a person that for a half hour pretended that someone special was listening to him. I realize this makes me sound nuts. But what else do I have left? Who else can I turn to? In the end, I'm left to my own devices to soothe and keep myself from plunging into the depths of human sorrow. During my drive to and from work, I imagine someone like you, journal, in the passenger seat. We don't have to talk, we just get each other. Some nights I see you right next to me, just staring at me in a soothing way. You are too patient with me. I don't deserve you. I know you don't exist, journal. It just helps. Thank you.

Until we meet again,

The Allengator
Ice King, Adventure Time

A 2013 Retrospective, Now With Some Semblance of Vigor!

With a record-breaking three entries on my blog this year (this could be the fourth if I can get it out before midnight), I may appear to be stagnant in my life, but some things have happened this year, though possibly insignificant or meaningless to some, it has helped me in my path through life. I just wanted to chronicle 2013 before we are deep into 2014, so here is a mess of paragraphs to the one person that probably reads this.

First, I purchased a new (albeit used) car this year. I finally have felt financial secure enough to make an investment in a better vehicle. My old car was definitely on its last legs, considering it was on its third engine, the brakes needed changed twice, the A/C didn't work, and some questionable noises came out of it. It took a lot of nerve to go to a dealership and take on this purchase, but I'm confident that I can handle it. I think of this as a sign that I can possibly take on a place to live in the near future, if things remain the same.

Also this year a new local anime group started up in Springfield. It has forced me to go out and socialize with people. It has been good for me as I'm a bit of an introvert, only going out when I have a good enough reason to. Five of us have been mainstays in the group so far, and I've had a lot of fun getting to know them and being able to blow off some stress from the workweek. I'm hoping for it to continue through the new year with some new stories, people to meet, and experiences to have.

Speaking of, my good friend Gaelen and Dawn tied the knot in the middle of the year. The ceremony was a lot of fun and it was genuinely uplifting to see two people devote themselves with their love. Much love for the both of them!

To be honest, there isn't much to say about work, other than I've felt important, which is something I've never felt at a job before. I came in very green, and it may have taken me time to get used to the system we work with, I feel like I'm starting to piece some things together and have become more competent and more helpful for my fellow teammates. I love where I work and I have a sense of pride that I've never felt with a company before. I have so much respect for my fellow programmers and have even respected the newer people that have come in. True, the job may offer more financial security and benefits from my previous jobs, but more importantly I love what I do, I have a passion for it, and I genuinely enjoy my work, frustrations and all.

Related to work, I also passed a Microsoft Certification Exam in HTML 5, CSS 3, and Javascript this year, helping out my self-esteem and also helping the company reach its partner status.

My love life hasn't been noteworthy per se, but that doesn't mean I've been stagnant. I went on a date with a girl earlier this year that made me feel things I haven't felt in a long time. That beating of the heart when you talk with her, the anxiety you feel when you're about to meet, and discussion that gets you through the day. It ended with one date, but at least I know I can still feel these things that I haven't felt in a long time. I also have talked to another girl, but she hasn't shown much interest so I have a feeling that won't go anywhere. I've been really depressed about this part of my life and it has showed. I pushed them out of my life, but I've been nudged by a couple of things to keep trying. I know what I want, I just hope I'm lucky enough to get it.

Aside from that, there isn't anything else earth-shattering to mention from the past year. I've kind of put myself in a bubble and have isolated myself from several people, and have probably become more introverted. I've kept myself in a comfort zone and as much as I like to kid myself, I haven't strayed much from it. I realize that there are consequences to this, so I'm going to try to do other things in the next year that will hopefully get me out of that some more.

New Years resolutions are normally something I don't participate in. I feel like you need goals and that a time of year shouldn't change that. I managed to take care of my car situation this year, and hopefully I can take care of two more in the near future. It could be in 2014, it may be later, but all I know is that I have a path to go on and I have to follow it.

To end this entry in a random way, I thought I would share my top three random subjects for the year:

Best song (I discovered, not released) of 2013
1) Pork and Beans - Weezer
2) Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen - Linked Horizon (#1 of songs released in 2013. "What does the Fox Say" by Ylvis is a close second)
3) Runnin' Wild - Airbourne

Best Show of 2013
1) Adventure Time
2) Parks and Rec
3) How I Met Your Mother

Best Anime of 2013 (That finished in 2013, doesn't include currently running series or else Golden Time would be on here)
1) Maoyu
2) Sword Art Online
3) Attack on Titan

Best Game of 2013
1) Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
2) Super Mario 3D World
3) Pokemon X/Y

And that concludes my 2013 review. It certainly was a...year. Good things happened, bad things happened, and plenty of cat on lap action was done here. To close, the most important thing is to thank my family and friends who put up with me throughout the years. I don't tell you point blank how much I appreciate our paths crossing, but I sincerely thank you guys for being in my life. Here is hoping for a happy and prosperous 2014!

The Allengator