6 Months…

And another Monday the 8th, too. 6 months exactly.

I woke up naturally at 10am for the first time in weeks this morning, because I got no sleep Saturday night and managed to crash immediately after Game of Thrones last night. I think my parents suspected I needed it, because they left me there on our huge couch, only nudging me once to tell me they were going up to bed, whenever that was.

I just got back from the Bradshaw funeral home. Because the universe is fucking ridiculous like that, one of Ross’s high school friends lost his twin brother last Friday after a motorcycle accident. I didn’t know this friend before Ross’s own death, but he came to the service and had so many nice things to say about my brother, both there and on Facebook – in fact, he wrote on Ross’s wall just a couple weeks ago. I sent him a note, offering to talk if he ever needed it. I doubt he’ll take me up on it, since we don’t know one another, and that’s okay. I was there. I know the offer is enough a lot of the time, and that there’s no way in hell you can or will actually take everyone up on them, because there’s too many, it’s too much, and it’s just too hard.

But even so, I got into the car with my parents and quietly rode to the funeral home with them. I got out of the car, and suddenly I was looking down this long parking lot full of cars where I remember standing on a similarly gloomy afternoon with my five best friends surrounding me, asking me if I was okay as I tried to prepare myself to go to Jacob’s visitation the day before my own brother’s service at the same location. That day, I was able to do it, because that family and mine – we were in this together as much as any two families could be. And I’d steeled myself for that entire weekend, I was numb that whole week, I was able to take the calming breath and nod and grip all the strength I could muster in my fists and walk through those doors.

Not today. I wanted to, so badly. But I immediately felt my chin crumple, and the muscles that contort my mouth into something ugly whenever I cry began to ache because they’ve been worked to their limit and beyond for the past six months and my parents noticed, immediately asking me if this was too much and before I could figure it out for myself they were handing me the car keys and telling me it was okay, I could stay here, they’d tell Ross’s friend I sent my thoughts with them. “She didn’t want come,” I heard dad telling mom, and that wasn’t the truth, but he’d heard how long I hesitated earlier when he asked me if I’d been joining them. Wanting to, and being able to haven’t lined up with each other in my brain and body for a long time.

So I sat in the car and waited, cursing my phone for having a fairly defunct battery, and feeling like a tool for not being able to show the same courtesy to Ross’s friend that he had for us. I knew he’d probably understand, but it’s frustrating to feel this way.

6 months. Monday the 8th. And then I found out that they tore down the apartment today. I’d gotten word that it was going to happen a few weeks ago, I was upset, but I’d assumed it had already happened by now. No, apparently they just had to do it on the six month day exactly. So much of his stuff was there. We’ve gotten most salvageable things out of it – though that’s not a lot, it’s more than it could have been had his room not been in the back of the house. But still, it makes my stomach turn at it just all being gone. Practically erased. And for his friends still in Eau Claire, it’s got to feel even worse.

I felt bad telling my parents that when they got back in the car and we started driving home. It’s a short drive and all, but driving and crying don’t go together well. We’ve all found that out the hard way a lot. A lot.

Just another thing that makes it over when everything in me says it shouldn’t be.

I’m in the middle of another entry about LucasArts closing and what that means to me and why it’s hitting me hard but also all the fun memories I have involving those games and my brother, but I’ll finish it another time when my head’s not throbbing. It’s a more fun kind of entry anyway. And I’m going to Seattle on Wednesday – which I don’t think I’ll absorb until I’m literally packing Wednesday morning because traveling anywhere by myself seems so dauntingly impossible right now, but I know I’ll be so, so glad to spend some time with Kevin and Chris, even if half of it looks like it’ll be taken up by helping one or both of them work on moving in some fashion.

But for now I really just want to go back to sleep, which is sort of annoying on the day I finally managed to have a regular person’s sleep schedule.

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Quotes Can Hit Hard…

I’ve been reblogging various quotes that have resonated with me for the past few months on my tumblr. Thought I’d share some. Some cut deep, some have comforted me, all feel like they took words from my gut and lay them out there, whether or not they originally applied to grief or not. Also included one of the songs I’ve been listening to on repeat a lot lately. Fittingly enough, it’s from a game soundtrack. I heard the song before playing the game, but even after I still find it therapeutic to listen to.

“Everyone who terrifies you is sixty percent water.
And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but

nothing is infinite,
not even loss.

You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you will find yourself again.”

— F. Butler

“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”

— Richard Siken

“Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle,
Everything I do is stitched with its color.”

— from W.S. Merwin, “Separation” Continue reading

Ends of March…

So today is Easter, and it’s been a long time since my last post. Things are… busy…ish? Like I’m still spending the majority of my daily hours in front of a computer screen, gaming or watching shows, but enough other stuff has been happening that the weeks seem to end much faster. It’s the last day of March, and I don’t know where the hell that month went.

Suddenly the counselors are chosen for the summer at camp, I go to Seattle to look at potential neighborhoods in about 10 days, I have an online First Responder course to get going on, and then I’m due up at my summer job on the 29th of April. Somewhere in there I’m supposed to appeal for tuition. Suddenly these things that I thought I had time for need to happen RIGHT NOW and some days that feels good, and some days it feels like I’m desperately wanting to press pause and tell the world WAIT wait wait – hold on – I’m still absorbing yesterday, I’m still absorbing this morning, I’m still dealing with 6 months ago stop stop STOP. I’m not ready! I’m okay with this having things to do every week but deadlines… christ, I was terrible with deadlines before, let alone now.

Still, it’s a bit different. The things that are happening are things I want. Things I’m motivated about: preparing for this summer’s camp season, preparing to move to Seattle, preparing for… some sort of fresh start. It’s much easier to reign in the panic when it’s things that will inevitably make me smile rather than the misery I was putting myself through with school, slogging through anxiety day after day, only to feel like a failure come finals and wanting to give everything up.

It has purpose. A degree technically would have had purpose too, but, well, I was too buried to see what it could possibly be at the time. I do better with something tangible, and while that’s near-sighted of me in the grand scheme of things, right now I need things to have direct results. I need to be able to do something, and see the difference I make – however minor – to give me more reasons to get up every morning and keep doing that thing.

You know, I thought this blog was going to have a lot more gaming nonsense on it than it has so far. I’ve got ideas for posts in my head but it’s hard to get myself to sit down and type. I used to have trouble because I always felt like as much as I wanted to journal, I wanted to talk to people or have fun or sleep (priorities, I has them) more. Now I know journaling is probably one of the more productive or healthy things I can do with my time – I mean, do I really need to watch the latest Project Runway right now? [If Michelle doesn’t win this season, I will curse Heidi Klum to break a stiletto.]

I want to talk about March, but it would be long involved so I will bullet-point the highlights: Continue reading

To trigger or not to trigger…

A warning to anyone reading: some things in this entry may be considered graphic, as I’m about to discuss things in media that have and haven’t been a trigger for me due to Ross’s death. If your sensitivity is different than mine, or you’re also personally close to the situation, it might be hard to read.

I called my dad last night because he was home alone for the weekend, and I wanted to check up on him. He admitted he was doing alright but nights are hard, like usual. We talked about lots of things, including Game of Thrones since he just finished book four, but there was a pause in conversation where I found myself blurting out a question I’d been wanting to ask since seeing last week’s Castle episode: Was it hard for you to watch? Because Castle’s daughter was abducted and while I love that show, I spent the majority of the episode sitting there and imagining my parents watching it – wondering if it it hurt to see someone act the part of the concerned parent, and knowing that the fictional child will be okay, when Ross wasn’t.

I had a lot of feelings like that immediately in the months after the fire. It was like a raw, open wound and anything having to do with anything close to it felt like someone poking at it. They didn’t cause me to suddenly break down so much as just ache or tear up until I could move on. Games were similar. So many games have to do with death, or avoiding death, it was hard to get back to it at first. In the first couple weeks I couldn’t handle touching any of it, though more because it reminded me of what Ross and I did together  than any triggery content involved, but once I started getting back into things, there would be moments that would just make feel a bit sick to my stomach.

It wasn’t long before I got over that though, and found that I was able to separate the two in my mind. I play a fire mage in WoW, always have, and I remember sitting there and staring at it for a minute when I reactivated my account. I acknowledged that it was strange. I acknowledged that I will never be able to hear “fire” the same way again…. and then I took a breath, started questing, and proceeded to shoot fireballs at my enemies. I think my brain, out of sheer survival instinct and desperation to return to normalcy, compartmentalized it for me. It wasn’t long before I didn’t think about it anymore. Then a friend asked me if I was okay playing a fire mage and I blinked and had to go… oh… yeah. Actually it’s okay. Then I wondered if I was supposed to be okay and that maybe this was insensitive, and maybe I should feel worse.

Continue reading

Obsession with the details…

One thing I’ve noticed since Ross died is my obsession with wanting to record everything. Not for personal gain or youtube or whatnot, but I’ve been pouring every bit of media Ross saved or created outside of things that might be too personal. But I have these moments with my friends and I want to save them somehow. I used to be the person with the camera back in college for similar reasons – to me there’s never enough pictures. But since I lost Ross that compulsion is 50 times greater. What if I lost someone else? I want as much to remember them by as possible. What if they lost me? Memories are great, but I like details and I like to talk about them and remember them and argue about whether or not that car was orange or red (RED, DAD) and whether or not someone spoke to me first when we met or if it was the other way around.

My mom and dad’s group therapist said they should journal – something neither of them ever really do. But he said to focus on feelings, not details.

My gut reaction was immediately: what’s so bad about details? I know the emotions are there, the meaning of a memory doesn’t change if you can’t remember exactly how something was worded, but it’s been so satisfying, if emotional to go through recordings, or documented conversation. Some people – cough, my dad, cough – hate how so much of our lives (especially those of us in the ‘younger’ generation) are out there for the world to see and pick apart, but I’ve never been so grateful that some conversations with my brother are there, preserved for me to go look at and laugh at, and I canremember a tidbit I’d completely forgotten before. The fact that I can look up a dumb three sentence conversation he and I had on facebook over some ridiculous photo he shared, or that I can delve into the WoW armory and find out that he named the little Moonkin hatchling pet I bought him for his birthday one year “Humpy” makes things a little easier.

So lately this has manifested itself in me looking into recording software for games, for skype, for video, for my xbox. I have this dinky laptop that has issues overheating and here I am learning how to clean up noise on old skype DnD conversations I recorded in the spring, and dusting off the external terabyte hard drive Dad bought me a fair few years ago because it’s the only drive big enough to attempt any video storage. And I download game streaming software on the off-chance that my roomie from college wants to spend a night in watching me play The Sims of us all the way from New York like we did once in October. It’s giving me something to tinker with, if nothing else.

I just worry about the day that I’ll run out of things to find of Ross’s. Maybe I won’t. But it’s a scary enough thought that I hope my friends are okay with me being a creeper and recording Skype convos so I can listen later and just remember and laugh at us being idiots like I do whenever I find one of the little memories of Ross buried within the aether of the net.  And maybe it’s just a phase I need to go through, but the fact that I have always liked to do things like just leave a cheap videocamera on to record my friends and I while we do something like playing Cranium for an hour – something anyone else would find completely dull or tedious – even before Ross’s death, makes me think if I’m lucky enough to live a good long time, I’ll enjoy the details, even if no one else cares. And lately if I enjoy it? Then I’m doing it.

Why I Play Games: My Escapism

Why I Play Games: My Escapism

Article by Daniel Lipscombe

“It’s my belief that videogames have the ability to transport you away from life in a more in-depth way than other forms of entertainment. Typically, you’ll be taking on the role of characters who have their own problems, but their problems nearly always have a solution – be it by finding an exit, shooting their way out, finding the princess or winning the tournament. There’s often a resolution at the end that leaves you with the contentment of achieving something, and in a world full of so many problems this can only be a positive thing. The game pad or mouse gives you a sense of control that’s so difficult to attain in life.”

Gaming through my Grief….

My brother, Ross, died in October 2012 in a house fire at the age of 21. Since then my life has been turned on it’s head, and yet one comfort aside from loved ones has stuck with me above all others: my gaming. Ross was a big gamer, and we spent hours upon hours talking, arguing, laughing about the games we played as kids and the ones we were playing now. This shared hobby kept us connected when I went off to college, and then when he did the same. Gaming now feels a little bit like… a way to stay connected. Somehow. To play the games we loved, or ones that were his favorites and I never managed to get around to it, or ones that I look at and know I’d have recommended to him….

My mom keeps asking me if there’s a hobby or a project or something I’d like to do in life that I’ve never gotten a chance to do before. Aside from visiting Europe or something hugely expensive like that, all I can think of trying to make the dork proud by gearing up my mage in WoW, or finally sitting down and getting through more than the introduction of Fallout 3. And that doesn’t even begin to involve the way gaming has given me a way (and a great excuse) to stay connected to the friends who’ve supported me through this. We’re all across the country, and having a game to log in to, and a reason to sit on skype and ramble about whatever we want, however meaningless or important it might end up being, has saved me from sitting alone and dwelling on things more than is healthy.

Now there’s obvious downsides if I take too far, obviously, and those tend to be the ones my parents are wary about when they saw me sit on my laptop every night in the months after the fire, but I can’t help but feel like it’s helping me more than they understand. Sure, I don’t want to resort to a sedentary lifestyle, or escape completely into these fantasy worlds, but it’s always been a coping mechanism for me, and I think I need it now more than ever.

I’ve also been really wanting to journal about the sort of feelings that I find bubbling up time and time again, but it’s an overwhelming thing to try and accomplish when you sit down and feel like doing so is akin to drowning in all the emotions it brings up. I thought, you know… what if I looked at it a bit differently… what if I explain why I spend hours gaming these days, and why I’d categorize it much more as ‘coping’ rather than ‘escaping’. That seems much more tangible, and doable in a time where some things feel impossible. And I can forget that he’s gone for a little bit every once in awhile, almost 5 months after the fact, but playing games I know he’s gone but at the same time he’s not. He’s always right there with me, laughing about a stupid glitch, naming characters ridiculous things with his tried and true animal+verb formula, or geeking out over the pros and cons of the latest RPG.

And maybe, if someone else out there has felt or is feeling the same, they could find some comfort in the fact that I’m there with you. Or enjoy the stories and memories about my dorky little brother. Or just have a smile at a girl’s awkward attempts to talk about her lifelong hobby.

This blog will be part gaming hijinks, part grieving sister. Cause I feel like that’s what my life is right now, and I’m okay with it. How much of each varies with any given moment and probably will on here too, but I’ve always been a pretty open person, taking comfort in telling stories to other people. There’s parts of myself that are private and for me and my loved ones alone, but this can be for the other stuff.