The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
— Lao Tzu.
This is the very first post on my new blog.
I’ve decided to start writing again in my spare time. I actually started blogging years ago and used to write A LOT but met a wall with writer’s block. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing anymore, but at one point I almost didn’t know what to write about. I’m a sucker for self-improvement and though I could see some merit in what I wrote, I could also see where my words could be more polished.
So I took a break.
Streaming has been fun, it really has. It was also a nice distraction from mundane activities like work, but you must understand writing is where I can express myself without being so self-conscious. Don’t worry, I’ll still be streaming in addition to writing, though I really do want to get a book or a piece of work published one day.
In tweets, I can only compose so much and for some reason, I can’t let my thoughts flow as freely. And let’s not forget how polarising Twitter can be or how one can get lost in a world of chasing likes, retweets or followers.
I’ve always been a better writer than speaker. In fact, I oftentimes prefer it to talking because of the way I can string words together and put them into context rather than getting startled by being put on the spot and saying the wrong thing.
There are, of course a few other things I hope to gain from this: that I open some windows as a means of catharsis, and that you, the reader can glimpse a little more into my world and learn things about me too.
This is talking about my job, by the way. Not right as this moment, not today, but soon. Possibly in the next couple of months and a hard plan to go at the latest by mid-year.
I know it may seem sudden especially during a global pandemic, but I’ve been at the job for more than 3 years now. In that time, I’ve only received one pay raise in my first year which was less than 2% of my total salary anyway. I couldn’t say anything about 2020, since everyone’s wages were frozen because we weren’t at a strong financial standpoint at the time. I also suffered a meltdown during that time since a lot of work was being thrown my way and I was stressed because I couldn’t exactly count on my senior/manager then to help me out a lot as he didn’t have the working knowledge of many things. I liked him as a person, but that year I also busted my ass off and got pleurisy which had me off work for over a week.
And nepotism. I’ve seen changes within my direct team and though I don’t have anything personally against anyone, I can see the favouritism playing out. The differential treatment which has led me to really reconsider my options. They say that you either try to sabotage, backstab or you just don’t really give a crap anymore when nepotism is detected in the workplace. I’m in the latter bucket. I admit that I’ve self-sabotaged a couple of times already, but I just don’t believe in playing the office politics game and stabbing other people in the back. I’m just not interested.
I don’t like to suck up to people and I never have. I especially, especially hate fakeness. I’m open to flattery, but even then that only works on me to a certain extent (this is why I could never work in sales). And another reason why I haven’t resorted to trying to make others look bad is because I haven’t had the real need to. In my case, we have a girl working in the team whose mother is very close friends with my boss. Judging from their interactions at work, I suspect she could even be her godmother. Anyway, we’ll call her Cookie. Now Cookie was your average graduate with very little work experience, but because of her ties with my boss, she didn’t have to undergo a formal interview process and her job was specifically created for her. It would be an understatement to say that she was lacking the skills needed for the type of work we do; she had to be shown the ropes and trained from scratch. Cookie’s been here for a couple of years now, but she’s already received a job title change that she was heavily hinting at but her skill level doesn’t truly match. Often, I’ll be asked to prepare things for her or teach her how to do it. At the end of the day, I don’t really have time to meet my own objectives at work because I’m busy doing someone else’s. Nor do I get any real thanks or recognition because they will see Cookie’s name mentioned instead of mine.
You see, I think of jobs like relationships. Some relationships are actually worse than being single; and some jobs are worse than being unemployed. I’ve learnt that you can wait and hope for people to change, but for some reason, no matter what you do, you’re just not good enough for them. You could be the best person in the world, but yet they’ll choose to treat you like a common possession. They won’t appreciate you. It’s a little bit like unrequited love. But the important thing is to recognise your own self-worth. That you have value that someone else will appreciate.
I do have value and I realize it, so I’m gonna quit. And I know someone else will see me for what I am worth too.
So, here we are again. It was eventually going to happen, not an if but only a matter of when. I’m not actually a super pessimist, just someone that likes to be pleasantly surprised if things turn out for the better. But seriously, with the number of breaches and how the government is handling things, I really can’t help but be frustrated. So I’m here splashing my thoughts using virtual ink. Welcome back to blogging!
This is a basic summary of my first day of the week-long lockdown, by the way:
I may be an idiot that got her hair caught in a fly trap today but at least I’m not that idiot who chose to go to BK, the mall & workout at a gym after getting tested for COVID all for some ｇａｉｎｚ
I know the message is out there to be kind, but that term has been used so much right now that it’s actually lost its meaning. Like, be kind to who? I believe in kindness, but even that has to be passed through an actual brain to be processed to see whether it actually makes sense to be kind. The truth is: not everyone deserves your kindness. Your sympathy can also be misplaced. I actually have 0 sympathy for the MIT student who went to the gym after getting a COVID test. I call BS on that he didn’t actually know he needed to isolate if he came through mandatory managed isolation and had his test done at a clinic.
And so what about the case of the KFC and Kmart workers? Well, in their case, I do actually have a little sympathy. I know they also should have isolated, but from what I’ve read in the media, it’s been disputed that they weren’t informed. That I believe, could be true. They didn’t come via managed isolation. And the fact is, they were going to work. As employees at retail and fast-food places, you kinda have to be present on the day to get paid. But no one really needs to be physically present at a gym or class to work out to earn money, maybe unless you’re a personal trainer, lecturer or something like that.
But yet we’re here witnessing this debate on who to prosecute, apparently the aim is to go for the KFC and Kmart workers, as opposed to the MIT student. Like WTF? What was her mistake? She criticized the government, like David vs. Goliath. She wanted an apology from the PM. I admit she was a bit feisty in her wording but that doesn’t mean we shoot down everyone who opposes authority. I just don’t have faith in the government because there’s been issues in the past of them cocking up and withholding information.
In the year 2020, many people lost a lot of things but at the same time, learnt to appreciate the things that were still here or left behind. Video games were always a form of art and entertainment for me personally, but this became even more salient last year as most of the world went into lockdown and we were all looking to escape the mundane ‘new normal’.
Enter, When The Past Was Around.
The game tells the tale of Edna, the female protagonist who seems to have lost her way until she meets The Owl (who really is an owl because I questioned this on stream and wondered whether he was a metaphor for something else, turns out not). Since it’s something to be experienced rather than be talked about, just like love and relationships and life in general, I’m just going to skip the plot details and talk about the features that made the game noteworthy for me.
The story is cleverly disguised as a point-and-click visual novel with puzzles that you work on in order to progress through the game. It plays out in the form of unlocking memories and unhiding secrets in the form of clues. Most of the puzzles are quite straightforward and work in a linear fashion though there were a couple that left me doing the ol’ trial-and-error approach.
There is no real-spoken dialogue and the game isn’t text-driven either. However, it does use a beautiful, unique art-style and music to convey certain life lessons, like heartbreak with a delicate sensibility. It is a short and bittersweet experience, but one that I would recommend. Obviously this won’t be a game for everyone, as some will lament the game’s length and replay value but oftentimes I just want to feel something when I play a story-based game and When The Past Was Around certainly delivers.
The prologue for the game is free to play on Steam here, so why not give it a whirl and see if it’s your cup of tea. Otherwise, you can take the plunge for the full game on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.
P.S. Thanks to Sarah from Toge Productions for the Steam key so I could write this review! :^)
You think you know the answer to it. A lot of people will just say, you need to just push through it. NO.Writing badly is still bad writing. Of course you can just take it as practice, but let’s not pretend that sometimes pushing through garbage means that you’re just pushing garbage around.
The important thing is to look at why you do something. Remember Simon Sinek’s – Start With Why video? Well, why do you write? Why do people write? Why create something? What purpose does your creation serve? So maybe you say you like to write. That’s fine and a valid reason for doing so. But ultimately, most people create something to be consumed. A chef creates a meal to be eaten. A producer creates a film to be watched. And so why does a writer write for? They write something in order for it to be read.
So what do you do when you hit a block? The natural antithesis is to consume when you can’t create. When a chef runs out of ideas about what to cook, they probably go and eat something new. Although they could just wing it and try to cook something new, it’s quite possible that they will create something magnificent or something totally inedible. And the thing is sometimes failure doesn’t feel like the mother of success and you stop doing things altogether.
The truth is: it is much better to take a backseat as an audience member and watch a show with different actors if you yourself can’t seem to pull of your part. There is something to learn from everyone. If you take Maria Callas for example, considered one of the most influential opera singers of the 20th century – who would stay at the music conservatory for 10 hours a day until the last pupil finished. Her teacher asked why she did this and she said:
“Even with the least talented pupil, he can teach you something that you, the most talented, might not be able to do.”
Maria Callas, soprano
She never thought she was ‘above’ anyone in terms of learning and that holds true for anyone. I once came across a violin teacher who played beautifully and yet he humbly stated, “I’m still learning.” A chef trying to create a new dish, would benefit from eating another person’s dish, as well as sampling new and different flavors. Like a chef who likes to cook and eat, a writer must also love to write and read. And that’s not just tasting your own dishes or reading your own work.
Like fellow writer, Cristian Mihai says, you can often hit inspiration to write by reading. Yes, reading. I’ve found that I’m usually able to spark something when I’m actually consuming someone else’s content. It can be a book, a poem, a blog post, an opinion piece, lyrics… almost anything. And because I’ve done just that, I’ve actually been able to write this piece. So next time you hit a block or a wall, remember it’s best to just step away for the moment, go take a break, go on a walk, stretch, read a book, watch a show, play a game, drink some water because the princess is not in this castle tool that you need to break down that wall with or dig around is somewhere else.
I got this game as part of the itch.io bundle where the money from the sales of these games were going to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you’ve seen me on Twitter, you’ll know that I am a fan of putting resources for good causes. So onto my thoughts about A Short Hike.
Literally, the wind beneath my wings
So how short, is short? Well, that depends on what you make of it! Personally I’d already been recommended this game by at least 2 people, and I can’t say that I’ve been disappointed. And they both said different things to me. The first one said something along the lines of “if you like exploring, I think the game A Short Hike would suit you”, and so I added it to my wishlist. The second one actually recommended me the soundtrack as a song request on stream and I instantly fell in love with it. He claimed he finished the game in exactly 69 minutes.
So a game you can speedrun, as well as take your time with? Sweet.
I had also watched a couple of streams featuring this game because it seemed so charmingly cute. But at the same time, I didn’t want to see the adventure end so I saved myself from watching more than I should and stealing glimpses here and there. And without giving away too much, you play as Claire, a cute little bird who has to – you guessed it – take a hike. On the contrary though, if you’re into catching playthrough videos, I’ve posted my playthrough here. But is it really short? Like I said, it depends. And that is where the beauty in this game lies.
On why you should never skip breakfast
I really, really enjoyed this title – the written dialogue is witty and funny, the soundtrack is just so lovely it’ll warm and calm even the ragiest of hearts and the characters are all small, pixelated but wonderfully colored anthropomorphic animals. I’ll say this about most indie games (because it is mostly true), but this is one charming adventure that you don’t want to miss out on.
In a similar vein to Paul Coelho’s novella The Alchemist, for me though, the journey was more important than the final destination (and if you haven’t read it, I’d highly, highly recommend you do – it’s not really long at all and you might even gain a different perspective of things). So, why not take a break and go on a hike?
Writing this on my lunch break from home, since New Zealand is in lockdown again and I’ll be doing the remote worker thing for the foreseeable future. Even though they said at least 3 days, I’m betting on a lot more than 3 days.
Let’s just say having anxiety gears you for things like this and your thinking isn’t like that of a normal person, whatever ‘normal’ is. I really feel sorry for the businesses taking a second hit though. Many barely made it through the first round, I’m not sure they can survive the second.
Just needed to spill my thoughts on the blogosphere, I’ll be fine.
Time to press this out from my drafts and tell you what exactly I watch in my spare time (or have been using my eyes for apart from work and gaming)… a short blog post before I conveniently turn older and forget to publish another piece.
This is one of the most colorful animations that I have seen in a long time. The colors really pop and it is so refreshing to see an animation that not only features young love, but also same-sex relationships. And it does a great job of normalizing that and not “we’ll just drop this in to increase viewership.” It feels sincere. I watched this one right through the end and even though it is not without its flaws, this is quite a digestible watch. It also teaches great lessons about the value of friendship and love.
Happy Pride Month for June and July, by the way, fellow readers!
Okay, time to flip this upside down. Loosely based on the lore of the game with the same name, you know we’re going to slay some monsters and meet some vampires. This series is not like the one I just mentioned. Its style is dark and gritty, interlaced occasionally with some lighthearted moments. And just to be clear, this one is definitely for mature audiences. There’s plenty of scenes with gore and nudity, but then again this isn’t Twilight.
Now, I don’t just like this one because it features the name of one of my friends from high school. I like it because it has the feel of a remastered and remade 80’s of the original movie and it is great. You know that I’m a sucker for nostalgia and I wish that Netflix (or any other production companies) would put their money into rebooting things. I know it’s hard though — it’s one thing to do it but, to do it well is another. The reason I advocate this that these shows have a greater potential of helping past and current generations actually bond together. It’s the combination of great voice acting, puppets and CGI animation (almost like stop motion animation) that really breathes life back into this series. Also Mark Hamill lends his voice to one of the Skeksies and is brilliantly villainous.
From the makers of Avatar (Aang and Korra, not James Cameron blue people), I’m still waiting on this one to be updated. If you liked the original Avatar series, you will probably like this one too since 1/2 of the creators jumped on to make this piece. Again, steeped in the world of fantasy and magic, elves, runes and you guessed it dragons — this should delight even the most imaginative of people.
It features the voice talents of Jack DeSena (who voiced Sokka in the Avatar) and young Canadian actress Sasha Rojen. The animation style is what I personally call “2.5D” (true animators, please don’t hate me, I’m just using my non-animator limited vocab here) with 3D-like movements and textures but 2D hand-drawn features.
You know I couldn’t leave this one of the list! It’s hard to believe that this series was released more than a decade ago in 2005, but it’s one that proves itself to be a classic. I know a lot of people will be pointing to Breaking Bad for being the greatest TV series of all time (not disputing that it is a great series), but for me personally, Avatar was a winner.
Why? For American animation, this did a damn good job of bringing it to the spotlight. They also underestimated their reach for their targeted demographic of 8-12 year olds even though many of the characters were older than that. The story is an easy watch, borrowing elements from the East yet blending well with that of the West. It’s kind of humbling to know that they didn’t realize what a true gem they had back then.
So there are my Top 5! Obviously I watch way more content than this but I thought I should keep my geeky pop culture count limited to one hand. What are your top five shows that you’ve been binging this year? – JP
Sorry about the last post (for the few who did see it). It was horribly worded, didn’t really have any real purpose and was a bunch of scrambled thoughts that should have never really made it’s way to being a published post.
If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t written a blog post for over a month now (discounting that last piece).
I’m suffering a little from writer’s block and sometimes it just helps me scratch some ideas out. So if you did see what I wrote, then you can take that as a page from a scratch pad. In the same way that artists have sketch pads, I find it easier to jot some ideas down. But like I said before, some ideas should just stay the way they are. As ideas. And nothing more. Sometimes ideas like that just aren’t really conducive to anything, to be honest.
It was really a mistake, so I’ve since pinned it. Just like ripping a page out from a pad and then scrunching it up into a ball and chucking it into the bin. And you know what? That’s okay. I feel like this post is more defined than the last. We make mistakes, admit and learn from them and move on.
The whole point with anything is to leave it better than you found it.
That shall be my mantra.
Now that I’ve written this, strangely I’ve actually had a few more ideas pop up in my head about what to write. It’s really weird how inspiration hits you at the oddest hours. I’m not saying that these are polished ideas, but I can tell you that I can see myself doing something with them.
Guess it’s true, sometimes you have to fail to win.
Remember that this is all temporary and will soon come to pass.
That’s what I’ve told myself during the times where I’ve dipped very low. I remember the times when I was an under and unemployed grad making less than minimum wage doing transcription work at home. I guess Amazon Mechanical Turk workers feel this too, even though it does provide opportunities for people to work. Low-paid work. Very low-paid work.
And now, here I find myself working from home again. Except now this is a public mandate and thank goodness, I’m definitely making more than minimum wage.
If you know me well enough, you’ll know that I am mostly a homebody that likes travel. Obviously now, international travel is out of the question but a confession here: I’ve never visited the South Island of New Zealand. Sure, I’ve been living here for close to 30 years (oh my) but I was always drawn to greener grass, over the seas. So now that I’m in this predicament, I might as well just roll with the punches.
The thing is, you will never learn to be grateful if you choose to keep on choosing to focus and chase after things that don’t matter. I believe that for the most part, happiness is a choice. I’m sure we all know someone who’s a miserly tightwad with more cash than the majority, yet chooses to not spend that money or give it away. I’m not here to tell you how to feel or how you should feel, since feelings are a natural physiological response to your circumstances. All I’m saying is, although we can’t change some things, there are at least a few things we can control.
It was actually really strange but I have to admit that paradoxically, most of my anxiety dissipated when news of the the pandemic broke out and that we would have to go into lockdown. It was almost as if all my previous experiences being so low and ridden with self-doubt played out worse in my mind. To me, I had already experienced something that I had perceived as much worse than what I am experiencing now. Don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying the issue here. It is serious – people are losing their lives, jobs and other valuable things during this pandemic. All I am doing is giving my own personal view of where I stand and how I feel at these moments.
I guess it all boils down to one word in the end: gratitude. Even in times of darkness, there is still a glimmer of hope. You can choose to seek light. Or darkness. They cannot exist without each other and life-and-death situations really help put things into perspective. Suddenly those things that I used to worry about no longer phase me. My friends, family and health are at the forefront. They’ve always been important; yet now even more so. It’s hard not to be thankful for these kinds of things nowadays. After all, you only begin to realize that you should clutch harder onto your cloth just as the wind comes to take it away.