tek2way: Anime - Ayukawa (Anime - Ayukawa)
So, the store I work at has a system in place that tells us -- and customers -- how many lanes we should have open at any given time. It's been a struggle at times, trying to meet the expectations of corporate, and my most recent serious bout of depression stemmed from the fact that every time I walked into my store, the manager repeatedly got on me about how we weren't making our metric in it. Obviously, that wasn't the sole reason for the depression, but it certainly didn't help.

I walked into the store on Sunday, expecting serious traffic thanks to the holiday, and wasn't disappointed. However, the managers were on the front, watching the traffic and helping to direct it (something that is expected of them ever since we got the system, but hardly ever see them involved).

Well, when I left today, we were on track to make our metric for the FOURTH day in a row! To say I'm pleased is something of an understatement. You see, not only does it mean that I won't hear from my manager about how we're not doing what we should, it is also an indication that the new approach is working, and that I have some sort of help in trying to make it.

Isn't it amazing how having some help can improve things for us?



In other news, I've been seriously diving back into my love of anime. I've picked up Oh My Goddess (OVA and movie), Tenchi Muyo (original OVA and most recent OVA), Macross Plus, and the Kimagure Orange Road TV series box set.

The KOR TV set is the highlight of them all, as it's an anime that I've loved since I borrowed the OVA series from Jason at Triple Play (now, it's Comic Cellar) way back in 1993 or so. Back in 1999, I went in halves with Kevin to help AnimEigo fund their production of the TV series on VHS/LD. He and I watched the series, and loved every minute of it. It also helped the OVA series -- which came out after the TV series -- make a lot more sense.

Over time, I wound up selling my half to him to cover a debt I owed him, and I told myself I'd get around to picking it up again, but 12 VHS tapes were quite an investment. I'd eventually relegate the idea to the back of my mind, as a took a step back from anime in general, due to a dearth of titles that held my interest. (Honestly, having formats switch from VHS to DVD also dampened my enthusiasm.)

Years later, I'd discover that the whole thing was released on DVD, but that the company releasing it lost their license soon after. I began to watch eBay, hoping to find it for a reasonable price, but individual discs in the 12 volume series (they kept the episode breakdown to how the VHS tapes were) were as much as $60-80 each, and the whole set was selling for $400+. I sighed, kept it as a saved search, and gave up any real hope for procuring it.

That's when this current anime binge comes into play. I was ordering a couple of anime from Amazon, when I searched for Kimagure Orange Road on a lark. One of the results was the box set for sale from a Goodwill in Seattle... for $180. That was half what the individual discs might've cost new, and $75 cheaper than I found the box set new, to say nothing of regular online prices.

I just finished episode 2, and I'm quite pleased to have found it. There are a lot of memories tied up in this series for me, and I am going to enjoy rediscovering each and every one as I work my way through the show.
tek2way: Anime - Ayukawa (Anime - Ayukawa)
Since I migrated my entire journal from LJ over to here, I guess I'll call this a fresh start.

I have been absolutely horrid about posing on my blog since establishing a regular presence on Facebook and other social media. I recall, shortly before I quit bothering with LJ on any kind of regular basis, something that would pull the day's tweets from your Twitter account, and post that on LJ as your post for the day. In our desire to have a meaningful existence online, we have decided to phone it in, and just pretend we are doing anything noteworthy.

Anyway..

Taken together, my LJ and DW-original posts tally to 2000 (1955 LJ and 45 DW, who'd'a thunk it?). This means I just am going to abandon the numbering completely. The idea was to keep up with how I was doing, but I also realized that people who might not see a filtered post would be able to easily figure out that they were cut from one. Besides, it's incorrigibly dull to dutifully number each post like lines on a sheet of notebook paper. You spend so much trying to make everything pretty, that you lose the thread of what you want to do.

In my case, I have become painfully disconnected from my creativity. I struggle daily to come up with ideas that I consider worth converting into some kind of story. I'm easily discouraged from pursuing ideas that I do have. Things just feel... too big. I'd like to dismiss it as a non-issue, but it's honestly gone on for too long. All I know to do is start typing something in here every night, if I can.



Today, though I just bought a plane ticket to go to New York, I spent almost $200 on the Kimagure Orange Road TV series complete box set. I feel horribly guilty about it, but I have a justification for it. You see, I've been watching the KOR TV DVDs on eBay for well over a year. Not only did I never find an English-language box set for sale, I never even saw individual DVDs for less than $20-25 each. That's $280-300 minimum for the series. To find it for only $15 a piece, and from a reputable seller (Goodwill) was surprising.

I still feel guilty, but this is my favorite series, I'm not avoiding paying bills to do this, and this is also something I did with Kevin. You see, back before Kickstarter, AnimEigo had to talk people into preordering the TV series to make it. I went in on the VHS set with Kevin. We technically each owned half of the series, though I think he left them at my house initially. After I fell on some hard times financially, I ceded complete ownership of the series to him. I always meant to get some blank VHS tapes to record a copy, but never got around to it.

Years later, AnimEigo released them on DVD, in what I can only imagine as their swan song from anime publishing, because they folded soon after finishing the DVD releases (in fact, I think I've read that they were trying to get them out before their license for KOR expired). I knew about the OVAs they released, but I never heard or thought about the TV series. So, for years, my OVAs have been sitting on my shelf, surrounded by other anime, but nothing else.

So, I will finally have everything released for KOR in a DVD format. It's something that I cannot deny that I've wanted for a long time, so I will just accept the monetary hit and count my blessings at finding it so cheaply. Next, I will start saving everything I can, for I like having money in savings, and giving my money to McDonald's and Wendy's for the convenience to eat the crap they sell is no longer as satisfying as it used to be.



Well, work comes early tomorrow, so I better call it a night.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Art (Unk.) - Sorrowful Knight)
Eight and a half years.

That's how long it has been since all of the crap that went down with "M" from New Jersey. For the record, her name is Michelle, and the last time I heard anything about her, she had moved to Tennessee. Hmph. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

Most of the entries from that time period are filtered to one group or another. The simple story is that Michelle began talking to me in October 2004, and made me feel like she was interested in me in no uncertain terms. Friends I talked to about her seemed sure she did. Over the next two months, she took advantage of my growing love for her to amuse herself. She would "punish" me by not talking to me on the phone, or by letting me see that she was sitting at her webcam, and chatting with others on MSN Messenger (but not me).

I almost drove to North Carolina to see her at Thanksgiving, because she was going to be there, visiting family. I was so sure that she felt the same that I was willing to do that, in a vehicle that was in need of repairs and tires. She sent a topless photo of her, and had me swear that I would tell no one about it, nor share it with anyone. Until this moment, I kept that promise, with the exception of only one other person. That other person is one of my best friends, and we discovered what happened when we finally met under a flag of truce to discuss things and compare notes.

I got my hands on a loan (that I couldn't afford), and used it to go see her, purchasing a plane ticket last minute and burning vacation time. The first night was fun, even though she brought her friend. Her friend left, and we were intimate. This was my first experience with a woman. Even then, right after it had occurred, the memory of what happened was a foggy haze.

The next day, she sent her friend over, because she claimed that she wanted me to hook up with her. When I delayed slightly in calling Michelle, she "punished" me again, by refusing to come see me. My memory that night was of laying in one of the two beds in the room, watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and wishing that I would die in my sleep.

The next day, she arrived, and the night was magical. Despite all that bullshit she put me through the night before, I took her back without a second thought. We went to a nice Italian restaurant, and I was so in love that that memory -- to this day -- makes me feel a little soft-hearted. The way I felt, the way she looked, the ambience of the restaurant, the intimacy of our table; when I recall that night, I feel a little bit of what I felt then, and it cuts me so deeply to realize that I haven't had that since.

You see, that was my love story. That was the story of me, falling in love, completely innocent of what people can do in relationships to harm the other without using physical violence. I was prepared to move to New Jersey to be with her. I was prepared to sever a friendship I'd had for almost a decade, because I heard he was bothering her (she apparently was telling him the same about me). I wrote her poetry. I sent her flowers at random. I craved the moments when we could talk on the phone. I was blind to her manipulation, to her lies, to her way of treating me like shit and treating many of my friends the exact same as she treated me when she wasn't treating me like shit.

One day, several years ago, I walked out of a Cracker Barrel that was near where I worked at the time, and the way the sky looked, coupled with the unfamiliarity of the landscape (it was a place I didn't often go), made me remember New Jersey. The rest of my day was spent in a morbid depression. I think I even posted about it.

I said simple, not short.

Twice in the last two weeks, I spent nearly an hour each time, spilling my heart about random subjects. I always feel better when I'm done, and I feel like talking it out helped me immensely. Of course, I believe that I got nudges at times about the line of my talking.

Tonight, I began to talk to Freyja about it. I often talk to Her. I never ask anything of Her, except to listen to my words. I was struck by the appearance of the room. I had some Sarah Brightman/Josh Groban/Hayley Westenra playing, I was snuggled into my blankets, and I was turned to face my bedside table, on which I've placed a statue of Freyja (along with a piece of amber, a preserved rose from last year, and my Freyja oil, that I used to annoint the statue). The lava lamp was on, and casting its soft blue light on the walls, and I could see the outline of the statue without my glasses. All of those elements combined put me in a melancholy mood, and I thought, "I should imagine a place where I am away from it all, and in absolute love with someone."

...I immediately found myself thinking two words: New Jersey.

Over the next thirty minutes, I talked to Her about how the whole situation made me feel, what I thought of Michelle now, and how her actions have affected me ever since. I realized that I am scared. Before Michelle, I was afraid of rejection. After Michelle, I was more afraid that I would get into a relationship and get hurt the same way again. I mean, there was one night, when I thought I'd lost her, that I literally couldn't breathe when I tried to lay down to sleep. I was up for nearly two days.

Again, I had my nudges. I realized that I was blaming myself for how everything went down, when she willfully played with my emotions. Even if she thought it was a fun game, surely she realized that a person willing to fly nearly 2000 miles at a moment's notice was in it far deeper than a game. I was so happy when I stepped off the plane and saw her, and realized she was in front of me in the flesh.

I realized that blaming myself was the wrong direction to go. I hesitate to call it silly, because that's just more self-deprecation. I honestly feel a kind of pity for her, that she felt the need to manipulate no less than 3-4 people that fall. She deserved to be loved, too, and it's a shame that she didn't think so.

I also realized that I cannot fully excuse her actions. I can have pity for her, but I can certainly blame her. She willfully hurt me, and knew it would hurt me. She was the catalyst for the rift between my brother Aron and me, as he was apparently another of the 3-4. Unlike Scott, though, he wasn't interested in talking it out to compare notes. She accused me of horrible things, after the fact, to make herself look like the victim.

I have been scared of relationships for a long, long time. Since that fateful 2004 encounter, I have been the one to break things off, even if my passivity caused me to just avoid the person I was seeing. Once, when I was finally screwing up the courage to officially break it off, the woman chose to end it, and -- coward that I was (am?) -- I just let it go at that.

I want to get involved with a woman again. I want to have that soul-deep connection to another human being. I want to see someone, and know immediately that she is the woman I will grow old with. I crave that certainty. Yet, I know that no matter what I may feel about some woman I run into, the specter of being treated like shit -- I'll call it what it is: emotional abuse -- hangs around me, souring my feelings. When I was younger, when I saw a girl I liked, I'd eventually daydream about what it'd be like to live with her forever. I'd almost see the house/apartment. I'd imagine the children. Call it creepy if you want, but for me that daydream represented a blazing hope that I could have a lifelong love, that my parents didn't have.

I no longer daydream.

Almost. I have had two occurrences in which I daydreamed in the last couple of years. One was someone that I was so sure I'd have a meaningful relationship with, that I exited my comfort zone to pursue it. No, it isn't who you might think, and I will never identify who it is, nor will I give clues. The other person was a woman who cut my hair at Supercuts a few months back. She was a black woman with one of those wild-looking afros. She had light skin, and the feeling I got from her was California and modern living far away from the Bible Belt and Tennessee. I didn't daydream long, but I did. She felt... like someone I could live with forever.

This is a night of immense clarity, yet I know I have a long way yet to go before I can be comfortable dating. My own self-image stands in my way, but that is a fight for another night.



Freyja, Goddess of Love and Life. Lady of the Vanir. Bearer of Brisingamen. Mother of Hnoss and Gersemi. Odr's wife, who wept tears of gold.

Grant me the confidence I need in order that I may find the one whom I still seek, and let the time be right, that my story can have a happy ending.

Help me find myself, and I will walk proudly in the light. No longer will I hide my faith behind false assumptions. I will declare myself openly and publically to you. I will also burn the tangible memories of that time in a fire consecrated to you, and sacrifice a bottle of mead and a pork tenderloin in your name.

Before all the gods and by my hope of living and dying well, so do I swear it.




.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (D&D - Eb - Lesser Dragonmark of Storm)
This evening, while discussing what direction to take our stalled Pathfinder game (I got serious writer's block when it came time to write the second half of the adventure I was running), I was hit by the uncanny -- and altogether unpleasant -- realization that in seven months the time since our last regular Sunday game will be equal to the entire length of time we played the Sunday game at all.

This saddens me greatly. I'm unsure what to do about it, because we all grow and change and move on. Some got married, like [livejournal.com profile] nyminal. Some established careers doing other things, like [livejournal.com profile] capedory1181. Some never had time to play, like [livejournal.com profile] kheadrin (though I half suspect that our group's constant bickering was a turn-off to his coming on a regular basis). Some have directed their energies in other directions, like [livejournal.com profile] lordreaibn. Some quit talking to me, like [livejournal.com profile] makeshift_guru or, more recently, [livejournal.com profile] strieson.

Despite my fervent desire to have that core group together forever to play kickass D&D games till we're in nursing homes, the damning truth is that we are all different people than we were, even 6 years ago. If I'm honest, we were different people at the end than we were when we started playing in 2000. I can fantasize, though:
  • [livejournal.com profile] kheadrin, master of inventive role-playing (clever puzzles and engaging NPCs)

  • [livejournal.com profile] nyminal, sage of rules lawyering (exhaustive knowledge of Shadowrun and a more-than-fair comprehension of D&D)

  • [livejournal.com profile] strieson, virtuoso of battlefield tactics (thanks to extensive Battletech sessions)

  • [livejournal.com profile] mfsfreak, champion of subtle, did-not-expect-THAT, characters (the quiet one)

  • [livejournal.com profile] lordreaibn, ace of expressive storytelling (his stories were ALWAYS enjoyable, even when they weren't related to D&D)

  • [livejournal.com profile] makeshift_guru, er, guru of Star Wars, and all around creative force (see what I did there? :) )

  • Rick, wizard of unrestrained chaos (you could always count on him to stir the pot in a game, kick ass dealing with it, or at least die amusingly as a result)
Others played with us over the years (Charles, Rodney, Allison, Heather, Jason T), but these seven listed above were definitely my "dream team". Oddly, I don't think this lineup ever actually got together to game. Oh! Maybe once, toward the end of [livejournal.com profile] lordreaibn's original Stahl campaign. Wait, no. Rick never played in Caeln.

I miss those days. The comaradarie, the laughs, the adventures we shared. It isn't strictly a rose-tinted memory, either. I had some rather rough life issues in that six-and-a-half year span. Those games were my once-a-week escape from the mundanity of life, and to share a common vision of "what if" with kindred souls. Now, it will never be like that again. Even if we were to get together for a game, our approach would be completely different, and sadly, likely incompatible. That is assuming, of course, that we could coordinate a day on which to hold said hypothetical game.

I'm sure I'll be fine later. I was on an Edenbridge (Austrian symphonic metal band) kick tonight, and have listened to their discography in chronological order. What's that got to do with this post? I discovered Edenbridge not long after we started gaming on Sundays, and the early albums were inevitably on heavy rotation back then. That, coupled with my realization, had the effect of reminding me of times long past.

For now, I am going to ready myself for bed, and consider the reality of how life changes everything about us: what we value, how we think, what we say, how we say it, what we choose to do, how we eat, what we drive, where we live, and who we love.

I feel like Something™ wants to worm its way out of my brain, but I don't believe that it will happen tonight. Who knows? The one thing I can say I know for sure, is that nothing is certain.

...not even attempting to slay a monster in Dungeons & Dragons.

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