So, A Bunny Walks Into A Blizzard…

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One year ago, when I announced to my friends and family members that I was quite literally dropping everything and moving across the country to chase my dream of working for Blizzard Entertainment, they were mostly supportive, but a little bewildered. Some might move to Southern California with Hollywood aspirations. I moved to Southern California with the very nerdiest aspirations.

There were also quite a few people who were not afraid to let me know that they thought I was making a huge mistake and that I was reaching too high. And yes, there were plenty of times since landing in Irvine that I stopped and thought to myself “holy shit, what did I just do?” but somehow I managed to block out the naysayers and keep going.  Maybe I didn’t block them out completely, come to think of it — maybe they just served as even more inspiration and drive to make things happen, just so I could prove them wrong.

So I did.

As of March 17th, I will be rolling out of bed in the morning and into my desk at Blizzard’s Irvine campus. My official job title is Technical QA Analyst II, which is a lot of fancy-speak for “waving my arms up and down and screaming ‘I NEED AN ADULT’ every time I break something, THE SEQUEL.”

(I’m kidding, there’s way more to it than that. For one, you don’t scream out loud. You write it down, i.e. “AAAAAAAAHSGDJGSHDGSJGDKDS;”.)

There’s a funny story behind March 17th and how it relates to my family. That’s my great-grandfather’s birthday, and he was a man largely regarded to be the champion of our family. When we first arrived in this country and the local toughs tried to intimidate him into paying them money for “protection,” he chased them off with a baseball bat and was never harassed again. He traveled the world, mastered seven languages, and was respected throughout his community both here and back in The Old Country(tm). When I was little, I would call him the “lion man” whenever I saw his picture because of his thick white hair that looked more like a mane than anything.

Lions. Hm. Seems familiar.

the_alliance_by_djfoxx-d34jemd

 

Before the interview that led to my hiring, I stopped in the lobby to take a photograph with the Alliance gryphon. I don’t really know why — I just had the urge to do it. At that time, I was mainly playing Horde. But for some strange reason, I decided to hang out with those reppin’ the lions.

Then a few days ago, I was shopping at one of my favorite clothing stores and noticed that they were selling beautiful jeweled lion rings for $5. Guess what I bought.

BhRBPpGCcAAGLm7

 

Logically, I know it’s all coincidence, but I happen to be a very superstitious person. March 17th has been an incredibly fortuitous day for my family ever since I can remember, and the lion has become our unofficial mascot, with significantly less inbreeding than the Lannisters.

Of course, nothing this amazing can come through without there being a few changes. I already announced to the world that I had stepped down from the HearthPro Podcast due to scheduling issues, which was not a complete fabrication. It was more a matter of there being real challenges in getting our schedules together, but at the time having just the possibility of working at Blizzard made me hesitant to ask the rest of the team to completely rework their lives if it meant I’d only be able to stay for another week or two — and man, am I glad I made that decision now! A couple of weeks ago, I also very quietly stepped down from writing at BlizzPro after being notified that I’d gotten the position, but wasn’t yet able to go public with the announcement.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to this blog. I may cease to update it, or I may change formats and turn it into a personal blog rather than a gaming one; of course, anything you’ll find with my name attached to it on the interwebz consists solely of my own opinions, and not those of Blizzard Entertainment or any past employers. My Twitter account will still be entirely too active and I’ll be streaming my face off via my Twitch channel (my participation in this year’s Extra Life is still a go!). You won’t, however, find me on any more podcasts, guest or otherwise, and it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be writing any more articles on lore or dreaming up game content in the community, for reasons that I’d hope are pretty obvious.

Several people have asked me what my “secret” was to get the job. I don’t have any real advice, other than don’t give up — it took me at least 30 applications and multiple interviews to get in. There were plenty of times that I was convinced I was doing nothing but throwing myself up against a brick wall and trying to make it a door, but I’d go back and re-read this interview with Brian Kindregan, lead writer for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm and the Diablo team, where he addresses those same frustrations:

Every person I know whose career has taken them to a fun and creative place got there in a different way. So the bad news is that there’s no set path. The good news is that there’s no set path! I always tell people that the key ingredient is: you should be too stupid to give up. You’ll meet many people who will tell you that you’re not good enough, that it’s not a ‘real job,’ that they don’t want people like you, that you can’t make a living at it and the list goes on. But if you’re too stupid to give up, it will bounce right off you. You’ll meet people who you will think are more talented than you, smarter, faster, better, and more creative. But those people will often give up, and you can always be better than they are at being too stupid to give up.

Color me proud to be the stupidest bunny you’ll ever meet.

Bunny’s Fond Farewell to HearthPro

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Around noon today I finished recording what will be the last episode of the HearthPro podcast — at least, with me as a host.

This was a very tough decision to make, but with the support of my fellow hosts Marc, Stephen, and Robert, I was able to do what needs to be done.  Due to major changes in all of our lives, scheduling our recording times while taking into account a three-hour difference on my end had just become too difficult.  In order to accommodate my schedule, Robert would have had to leave the show and Marc would have had less time to spend with his family, which was double-plus-uncool all around, despite the fact that these incredible gentlemen were actually willing to make that sacrifice.  I was the one who suggested stepping down, and although there were many protests, we all came to the conclusion that this is what was best for the show.  I’ve also got some other things in the works that would prevent me from having any more involvement on the show, depending on the outcome, and I would have hated to make them work so hard to include me only to have to quit a week or two later, anyway.

Without Robert, we would have lost a valuable voice regarding Hearthstone’s meta-game and insight into strategy for both deck-building and gameplay that I certainly could not have made up for.  Marc is the mastermind of the show who keeps us all in line and does the dirty organizational work that, honestly, none of us would be able to do half as well as he does, not to mention the incredible editing job he does for each episode (I actually sound smart when he’s through with my audio!).  HearthPro is his baby, anyway.  It was his Hearthstone podcast I listened to what seems like forever ago, when I was just starting to make a name for myself, and thought “Oh man, I’d love to be a guest on that show.”  A bit later I ended up getting my wish, and beyond, because halfway through recording my guest spot the decision was made to offer me a permanent spot as a co-host!  I never imagined I’d be part of such a passionate and generally amazing team.

Stephen, a.k.a. Leviathan, and I only recently started working together, but on that first show with him as a guest I was sort of “auditioning” him to take over my role.  This decision to step down is one that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while since things started getting more and more hectic, but I didn’t want to leave HearthPro in an absolute lurch.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could not find a better replacement for the community side of things than him.  Not only is he a great temperance to Robert’s hardcore mentality, but he also has a wonderful understanding of the game on all levels of play, and the ability to express it in an endearing and well-thought-out manner.  I look forward to hearing great things from him as the show goes on and have full confidence that if he put on a squeaky voice, no one would even notice I was gone.

I wanted to make this somewhat short post just to let everyone know that I was not forced into this decision and that there was no behind-the-scenes drama — yes, I know that Robert and I had opposing viewpoints on pretty much everything and engaged in  more than a few friendly battles on the air, but there’s zero animosity between us.  We’re both very passionate people with a love for gaming, especially Hearthstone, and the debates and banter were a welcome indulgence for me.  In fact, Robert was the first one to rush to my side and make sure I was truly okay with leaving the show.  Believe it or not, Marc, Robert, Stephen, and I are all on very good terms both during and after our recordings!  I couldn’t ask for a finer group of colleagues or friends.

So what does this mean for HearthPro?  The show’s still going to continue to kick ass and take names as it always has.  The only difference is that you won’t hear my voice on a regular basis.  I say “regular basis” because I’m not precluding the possibility of popping in now and again as a guest, either to talk about major news stories I cover or just to check in from the community.

As for me, I’m not disappearing from BlizzPro or Twitter or Twitch (although I admittedly have fallen off of the streaming wagon — I hope to remedy that soon!).  I will still be writing articles for BlizzPro and their sub-sites for as long as possible and updating you with on-the-hour thoughts about tacos and obscure German industrial bands.  And of course, you might just see me in the matchmaking queues for Hearthstone whenever I have a spare moment!

Thank you to everyone who’s listened to our shenanigans, challenged me to friendly Hearthstone matches, sent me awesome emails or bantered with me on Twitter.  I love the Hearthstone community and wager that it’s one of the best out there because of you, the players!  Deck on, dudes, and I’ll catch up with you later.

If you’d like to stay apprised of my adventures, you can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Twitch, in addition to keeping your eyes on this blog!

How Crochet Saved My Life

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(This particular post may be triggering to some people with a history of depression, abuse, or self-harm — please proceed with caution.)

My grandmother has been trying to teach me how to crochet for most of my life.  I’d always thought it was just a lame thing that old ladies did to pass the time while watching their soap operas, and I’m terribly impatient, anyway, so I never had much success with it.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard her wail about not being around forever and that if I didn’t learn, no one would be left to pass it down to the children she assumes I’m going to produce someday like her mother did to her, and her mother’s mother and so on, so forth.  Then both crochet and knitting had an explosion of popularity among the crafting community, specifically with people my own age who figured out how to parlay ancient doily patterns into more modern (and often nerdy) areas, and several friends of mine, like the beautiful Tiny Leviathan and award-winning Crystal of /knit, really managed to pique my interest.  Without them, I doubt learning to crochet, knit, or otherwise transform yarn into something fancy using nothing but sticks would ever have made it onto my New Year’s Bucket List.

Technically, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, either.

Fear and depression are, sadly, regular guests in my life.  The past few weeks have been slowly adding on layer after overwhelming layer of stress, culminating in a sudden need to face one of my past traumas — admittedly one of the “minor” ones, if there is such a thing as a minor trauma, but still enough to send me into an awful spiral to rock bottom.  I spent a whole day shuffling around the bedroom, barely able to drag myself to the computer to check emails.  Most of the time I was laying in bed sobbing and thinking of how I should just file for divorce and allow The Husband to go on with his life, maybe find a wife who wouldn’t be so sad all the time.

Then came the terrifying nothingness, the same state I was in all those years ago when I attempted suicide.  I’ve tried to think of good ways to describe exactly what that kind of mental state feels like, as it isn’t quite the near-hysterical sadness most people picture it to be, at least not for me.  It’s more like lucid dreaming, where nothing seems real and you’re completely convinced that anything you do will be free of any consequence.  Despair turns from a tumultuous ocean to still waters.  You’re still trapped on that vast, black sea with no end in sight, but you can’t find a reason to scream or flail anymore.  It almost feels as if your very existence is running out, like a reel of film nearing the end.  This is how it’s supposed to be.  This is where the end comes.

I don’t remember exactly what led me to pick up the crochet.  One minute I was slumped against The Husband, listening to him ask me if we needed to go to the hospital so I could be put on watch.  “I don’t know,” I said, and suddenly I was sitting at my desk with a skein of cheap white yarn and an aluminum crochet hook — I must have asked my mother for them at some point, since these aren’t things I keep in my craft bin.  The first of Naztazia’s tutorials for beginner-level crochet was up on the screen and somehow my hands were following along.  I counted each chain, each stitch.  I kept counting until 3 in the morning, when I had half of a dishcloth finished and a completed TV series on Netflix.  The next morning I got up and did it again.  I finished the dishcloth, a horribly uneven thing with at least a handful of dropped stitches and haphazard tension towards the beginning.  But the rows near the end… hey, they actually looked pretty good.

Everyone who saw it praised me.  Several people with crochet experience were surprised at how comparatively well my first project turned out.  The Husband held it in his hands for  a few seconds, then hugged me tightly and told me he was proud of me.  I was caught off-guard by this.  Why would he be so proud of something so riddled with mistakes, something I knew for certain I could have done better?

“Because you’re still here,” he explained.  “And because you accomplished something.”

I’ve quickly determined that crocheting is an almost instant cure for any awful  feelings I may be experiencing.  Stitch, stitch, stitch — my hands are too busy to harm myself.  My brain is keeping track of what row I’m on and how many I have left to go instead of how hopeless the future is.  It’s something I apparently do well, something I can be proud of, something that reminds me that yes, I am capable of things.  Being able to touch and squeeze the soft yarn in my hands has a soothing effect, one that brings me back into the here-and-now when I start to drift, something not altogether dissimilar to the grounding therapy I was taught as a way to counter flashbacks from my PTSD.  Leaving a project unfinished overnight ensures that I’ll have a purpose, a goal for the next day.  Even managing to add a single row is a step closer to accomplishing the whole, which is, in and of itself, an accomplishment.  In just a few days I’ve gained new friends from the crochet and knitting communities, all of whom are incredibly welcoming and eager to share tips and tricks, and to encourage me so thoroughly I’m finding it impossible to feel bad when I make a mistake.  It’s empowering to know that if I mess up, I can just pull gently and undo a little bit of work.  Sure, it means a little extra time spent to complete the project, but seeing a bad stitch corrected to a good one, and knowing that was the one to improve upon it fills me with indescribable pride.

And maybe part of my newfound love of crochet is due to my grandmother after all.  If you asked me to picture her in my head, it’d be with a crochet hook and yarn in her hands.  As a small child I was always surrounded blankets, sweaters, hats, even doll clothes that she had painstakingly crocheted for me.  Even as an adult, I’ve got at least one fuzzy scarf and a gorgeous Gothic Lolita-style capelet she made for me.  My grandmother’s house was always full of crocheted works in progress, and it was also a safe haven for me when things got bad at my house, especially after my parents divorced.  I remember running for my life through our backyards with my biological father chasing me down, ready to beat me to a pulp (or worse) for some perceived slight.  She heard the gate slam and knew what was happening.  The back door was already open when I got there.  I blew past her into the room I slept in when I stayed there.  I grabbed a baseball bat from the closet and locked the door, eyes clenched shut and tears running down my face, waiting for the door to be kicked down, mentally practicing my swing for the kneecaps.  Except the door never opened, not until I was the one to turn the knob.  While I was hiding, my biological father had discovered that an extremely overweight five-foot-nothing old Mediterranean woman with two bad knees was a more formidable sparring opponent than any cage fighter out there.  I moved in with my grandparents shortly afterwards, but the association between my grandmother’s house and safety had already been chained onto the association between crochet and my grandmother’s house.  With every stitch, I feel like I’m back in my room there with the ancient avocado-green shag carpeting, those same four walls that served as my bastion of safety on so many occasions.  Nothing and no one can get to me as long as I have the yarn in my hands.  I am like my grandmother.  I am unstoppable.

I called her yesterday to tell her I’d finally learned to crochet.  The only other time I’ve heard her so happy was when I announced my engagement.

There’s still a lot for me to learn.  I’ve got a laundry list of projects I want to make, some of which will undoubtedly end up in my still-empty-and-badly-in-need-of-a-new-style Etsy store once I get a few more of the fancy stitches under my belt.  But now I know for certain that I’ll be around to practice them.

I Prefer New Year’s Revolutions

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I can’t believe that this blog is over a year old (although mostly neglected for a chunk of that because I suck) and that I’m sitting here writing yet another New Year’s post.  Oddly enough, I’m writing this one on January 2nd, same as last year.  I swear that wasn’t intentional, but patterns and numbers and oh God I’m about to go full “A Beautiful Mind” on everyone if I keep going, so let’s get to the good stuff.

Last year I asked everyone to make it their resolution to be a nicer, more community-minded player, something I also took to heart for my own gaming practices.  It can be difficult to adhere to at times, especially when you’re frustrated because everyone else around you seems to be cut of the same douchebag cloth, but when you’re legit being so helpful that people whisper you “thanks,” it’s kind of worth it.  Knowing you brightened up someone’s day even slightly or set a noob on the path to epic win just feels good, man.

That being said, I still think that the bulk of New Year’s Resolutions are complete bullshit and that we reach for things way too lofty or just plain impossible because we feel pressured by the media to do so.  You can still reach for the stars, just reach for some a little closer than Rigel-7, if you know what I mean.  I, myself, have decided to go with a New Year’s Bucket List instead, because I’m a special bunny.

OVERLORD BUNNY’S NEW YEAR BUCKET LIST
(NOW WITH SIGNIFICANTLY LESS SODIUM)

I will learn how to knit.  Seriously, I don’t know when or how knitting became A Big Thing, but it looks awesome, and as someone who grew up buried in blankets, hats, and all manner of things hand-knitted or crocheted by my grandmother, I can attest to the fruits of this witchcraft being worth the effort.

I will get one of each class up to 90.  As it stands, I’m one Druid and one Mage away from achieving this goal that has no real merit other than increasing my knowledge and understanding of class mechanics in the event that this is the year Blizzard-sempai finally notices me.  The level 1 alts are already in place on Lightbringer, ready to climb the ranks just as soon as I finish my Holy Paladin.

I will restock my Etsy store.  It’s empty right now, but I’ve got some plans to change all of that.  I just need to sit myself down, turn on a Disney movie, and say “Self, craft like the wind.”

I will make good progress with my RPG Maker project.  I had the latest version of RPG Maker gifted to me by a wonderful human being this Christmas and so many words of encouragement and anticipation thrown my way for what I might do with it that I feel it is my duty to create something awesome.  I don’t know if I’ll get a full-length game finished, but I’m going to aim to at least get a decent amount of work underway.

I will finish my Civilization V mod.  Months ago, I’d started in on an expansive Warcraft mod for Civilization V.  At the time, I only had the Gods & Kings expansion, so I wasn’t able to develop for Brave New World.  Thanks to the Steam Autumn Sale, I have brought myself up to speed and can now restart development for the fourth time!  Don’t mind that grumbling noise you hear, it’s done out of excitement and a love of the craft, I swear.

I will spend more time on my scripting languages.  Right now I’m focused on Python, but I’d also like to add more XML/LUA to my arsenal — finishing the Civ V mod is a great way to practice that — and anything else that could potentially be useful.  Knowledge is power, especially when it’s powering a game.

I will write more feature articles.  I had to take a couple of months’ hiatus from BlizzPro, but I’m back and at least chipping in on the news desk (and, of course, I never stopped doing the HearthPro Podcast).  Now that things are starting to slow down again on my end, I’m hoping I can jump back into the world of feature writing, either by picking back up with Behind the Lore or contributing a few comedy articles I’ve had kicking around in my head.

I will eat more tacos y burritos.  I need no justification for this.  Only God and my intestines can judge me.

 

 

The Convention-Going Introvert’s Lament

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Before I go any further, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to my Extra Life charity stream this past weekend.  Thanks to you, I more than doubled my initial goal and raised over $500 for All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL!  Now that I’ve gotten the hang of streaming, I hope to be doing it way more often, so you can probably go ahead and bookmark my Twitch channel or follow it or do whatever you kids do nowadays (except for that, you weirdo).

The Fiance recently leveled up to The Husband, so now that he’s level-capped, we get to experience the joys of our honeymoon, which thus far have included meeting Thor at Disneyland and picking up antibiotics for him from the pharmacy following an emergency tooth extraction that took place on the day before the wedding.  Still to come is the much-anticipated BlizzCon, which is a deliciously nerdy way to wrap up our already-pretty-nerdy celebration — today is Day 2 and we’ve pretty much spent it gaming and cuddling up to watch the original run of Battlestar Galactica.  He’s so excited he can barely contain himself.  I’m both anxious to go and anxious because I’m going.

What most people don’t realize about me is that I am actually a pretty huge introvert.  I may be active on the internet within the gaming community, but when it comes to facing large groups of people in person, I’m typically operating off of complete and utter terror.  Sometimes my “autopilot” kicks in and I start cracking jokes that mask how nervous I actually am.  Just as often, though, I’ll end up sitting in a corner by myself with my headphones on or my nose buried in my Kindle so that I can completely block out the action around me.  The worst part about this kind of reaction is that nine times out of ten, people mistake it for rudeness.

I’m not a celebrity by any means.  At best, I might use the phrase “internet celebrity,” complete with quotes, to show how very much non-applicable such a moniker is for me.  I have more Twitter followers than most, but I’m nowhere close to being Felicia Day, and I don’t pretend to be.  Even still, I’m in the public eye, and that means I’ve got a metaphorical stack of invitations to parties and meet-ups that I’ve had to come up with excuses to decline, not because I don’t want to meet these people or because I think I’m better than anyone, but because the idea of being surrounded by strangers and expected to actually interact is enough to make me hyperventilate.  For example, I did not attend today’s BlizzCon fansite mixer, nor am I going to be present at the WowInsider or World of Podcasts events, despite receiving invitations to all of them.  I’m sad that I’m not there because in my heart of hearts I really want to be able to shake hands and hug a bunch of people whose work I follow, and heck, I’d love to be able to represent HearthPro at WoP, but the truth of the matter is that there is no conceivable way I could handle that much social interaction without bursting into tears.

Here’s the part where I’m sure a lot of people are saying “But Bunny, just throw back a few drinks before you go, and you’ll be fine!”  I won’t lie.  I used to party pretty hard in my youth.  I could spend hours talking about hilarious things that went on during those days (at least, the ones I remember).  What never gets talked about, though, is the absolutely horrendous after-effects of those shenanigans as far as my health is concerned.  Alcohol and I are not friends.  I can do a bottle of Angry Orchard or a beer with a meal, but that’s about it.  Any more and I risk all sorts of maladies, ranging from my kidneys going on strike to severe stomach pain to throwing up so violently it starts coming out of my nose.  By “any more,” I mean “sometimes two beers in one day is enough to do this.”  I don’t get buzzed and I don’t get drunk; I get horrifically ill with no payoff whatsoever.  Partaking of alcohol in a public setting like that would actually add more anxiety to what I’m already dealing with, because on top of everything I’d have to worry about getting sick.

This also makes attending parties, especially the type that usually break out at conventions, pretty boring for me.  I’m almost always the only person not drinking, and that makes everyone else feel really awkward.  I will hear all of the following things at some point during the night:

  • “You’re not drinking? Are you pregnant?”
  • “Wow, I feel really bad for you.”
  • “So you’re like… straightedge or something?”
  • “Why’d you go to a party if you didn’t want to drink?”
  • “Are you sure? Come on, just one drink. It can’t be THAT bad.”

Truth is, the forced sobriety doesn’t bug me.  What does bug me is that it often puts me at the center of people’s attention, and that’s about the last thing I want at a huge gathering of people I don’t know.

I also chose not to get a hotel room for the convention because I knew that there’d likely be a ton of room parties going on and that it’d mean no sleep for me.  Part of having PTSD is hypervigilance, which for me means not only jumping at every loud or unexpected noise during the daytime, but snapping awake with my adrenaline running at max at the slightest change in background noise.  I use a fan to give me a constant flow of white noise to help with this, but should something happen in the middle of the night — say a power surge, or The Husband changes the speed on it — I will instantly wake up.  In addition, a hotel room is unfamiliar territory for me, so in order to feel safe enough to sleep without risking a night of constant panic attacks I have to be used to where I’m staying.  Having The Husband with me might mitigate some of that, but there’s still the chance I’d spend the entire night having nightmares or freaking out and interrupting both of our sleep cycles.

Nor do I plan to pass out business cards or network heavily while I’m at BlizzCon.  The temptation is there, of course, but it’d be too much to juggle with focusing on keeping myself calm while dealing with the crowds.  I’ve got this terrible fear that not introducing myself to every dev there will be the one deciding factor in my not getting hired at Blizzard, but the logical part of my brain tells me that I’m being irrational there.  If anything, they might actually appreciate not getting chased down by an awkward girl in a bunny hat!

That’s no drinking, no partying, and no real networking — why am I going to BlizzCon then?

BECAUSE IT’S FREAKING BLIZZCON!

I may be an introvert, but I’m still a gamer.  I love Diablo, StarCraft, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft.  I’m 99.9% certain that I’ll be squealing over Heroes of the Storm, too.  I spent long enough hiding inside the confines of my house, too terrified to even go to the grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread.  In that year or two where agoraphobia got the best of me, there’s no telling how many amazing moments I missed out on.  I will not let that ever happen again, even if it requires some special techniques to get through the day.  It’s sort of like that “Part of Your World” song from The Little Mermaid (and exactly why listening to said song causes me to tear up — it can apply to anyone feeling like an outsider due to anxiety just as well as it can to disobedient teenage fish-people).  I have a million games and tons of creative outlets for my writing, but that’s not enough.  I want to be where the people are, even if I’m not terribly good at being there.

So if I see you at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend, there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be offended if I’m quiet or seem uncomfortable.
  • If you invite me somewhere and I decline, please don’t feel bad or try to press the issue.
  • Don’t sneak up on me or surprise me with tackle-hugs… but the sentiment is appreciated!
  • Despite all of this, DON’T BE AFRAID TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF!

Besides wandering around the convention floor, I’ll be at the BlizzPro Meeting Stone event on Saturday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., during which I should be much more talkative, since it’s a somewhat controlled and less chaotic environment that’ll give me a chance to focus on actually meeting you lovely people instead of pure survival!

Overlord Bunny’s Extra Life Charity Stream! Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children?!

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Despite being quite neatly crushed under a mountain of work, exhaustion, and wedding stuff, I always had grand plans to sit down and write a blog post about my upcoming 25-hour charity stream for Extra Life, a foundation directly benefiting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across the US.  Originally, I was afraid that I’d be writing it with nothing towards my $200 goal.

Well, I have good news — thanks to the kindness of some amazing people on Twitter, it’s not even the day of the stream and I’ve already surpassed that goal.

So yes, I am here with my donation meter raised nicely to the tippy-top, but I’m not stopping there.  I’m still accepting donations on my Extra Life fundraising page, and will be through my charity stream starting at 8 a.m. PST on November 2nd.  100% of the money donated goes straight to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, which is the hospital that saved my life as an infant and has gone on to save many more children in their time of need.  Through top-of-the-line medical services and a hefty dose of love and care, All Children’s has done so much for this world that no gushing recommendation or praise can do them justice.  I’m eternally grateful to them, since without their expertise I would not be here right now.  That’s why even though I’ve moved to California, I’m still playing for my hometown hospital — though I wish I could play for every single one of them, because all of the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals deserve our support.

The charity stream itself will be broadcast on my Twitch channel.  I don’t have a concrete list of games I’ll be playing, but there’s bound to be some World of Warcraft, maybe a bit of Hearthstone as long as everyone promises not to make fun of my skill deficiency, and the potential for some FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.  Beyond that, my Steam library is pretty terrifying in its meatiness, so there’s no telling what I’ll choose as the night wears on.  I may also switch over to the XBox for some Batman goodness.  Since I won’t be able to stream from the console (at least, not that I know of), I’ll be giving out my gamertag if and when that happens so that people can verify that I’m still going strong!  I’m also hoping to be able to snag some dear friends to hang out with me on voice-chat during my PC gaming escapades, and once sleep deprivation hits me full force, I’ll probably end up also broadcasting some demented Overlord Bunny Puppet Show or interpretive dance number or something.

(As a fair warning, though, later in the night I will likely need to maintain radio silence while I game, since my computer is in the bedroom and The Fiance will be sleeping.)

I hope to see you on the 2nd!

 

How To Adult: Surviving Surgery

Standard

Congratulations!  After close to a year of gross stuff falling out of your lady parts in many strange and unusual ways, you’ve finally convinced yourself to see a doctor, who has gone on to inform you that you’ve got a small benign growth that’s probably been causing all of your ills.  You’ve managed to bite your tongue enough to avoid asking why it’s been landing you on death’s doorstep once a month if it’s so “benign” and now said doctor is talking about sending you in for some minor surgery to zap it off with a laser, thus turning your hoo-ha into a DJ Tiësto concert.

I included this photo of my vagina with my Suicide Girls application but was turned down.

I included this photo of my vagina with my Suicide Girls application but was turned down.

Your initial reaction should be to fistpump and yell “LET’S DO THIS” in the middle of the exam room to show that you are fearless and awesome.  You should, however, then double over in pain and vomit into a trashcan because you forgot that sudden movements hurt now.

Fast-forward to the big day.  You are a grown-ass woman striding confidently into the outpatient waiting area, but before you can get to the slicing and dicing, you’ve got paperwork to fill out.  Discover that the only clipboards available for you to use towards this end are located in a basket sitting on the floor.  Audibly mutter “son of a BITCH” in front of a two-year-old, whose mother gives you a very angry look as you awkwardly bend sort-of-forward-but-mostly-to-the-side to avoid barfing while you pick one out of the mess.  Dutifully plug away at the papers in front of you, only to realize as you’re signing your name at the end of Page 1273658293 that you filled everything out one line above where it should have been written.  Sigh loudly and exclaim “Fuck me!”  The angry mother from before will now pick up her toddler and move to the opposite end of the waiting area.

Despite your appointment being at 12:30, you will not be seen until closer to 1:45.  During this time, you should ignore the Kindle and fully-functional smartphone with 32 gigabytes of your favorite music and stare blankly at a continuous loop of The Bucket List.  Make a mental note to suggest to the hospital staff that a movie about two people dying of cancer might not be the most inspiring choice for their waiting room.  Once your name is finally called, allow all of your previous hardcore, optimistic mentality to evaporate as you realize that strangers are about to fire lightsabers at your most tender of places and become a 26-year-old woman standing in the middle of a hospital crying for her mother to come hold her hand.  It’s okay.  It’s standard procedure.

Once you disappear through the double doors into the actual exam and prep area, you will immediately be handed three sample cups and instructed to pee in them.  For the past several months you have either been peeing constantly and unable to shit, or shitting constantly to the point of diagnosing yourself with cholera on WebMD and unable to pee.  Today, and only today, you will discover that you can do neither.  After fifteen minutes of sitting on the toilet bargaining, threatening, pleading, and encouraging your bladder, finally manage to get things moving along.  Unfortunately, you have completely misjudged your nether anatomy and will miss all but two drops.  Sheepishly place all three cups in the sample deposit window and try to tiptoe past the lab technician who takes one look at your “bounty” and shoots you a withering look.  Wonder to yourself if she’s related to Angry Mother from the waiting area.

Back in the exam room, a nurse is waiting to draw some blood from you.  Talk up your superior bleeding skills as she ties off your upper arm and announce that you’re an “easy stick.”  She will poke at your arm a few times before announcing that every single one of your veins has suddenly decided to flip everyone the middle finger and not cooperate.  Finally, one in the crook of your arm sort of pops up, but it will immediately collapse and require an agonizing thirty seconds of digging for it before she announces it’s no good and goes to retrieve a specialist.  The specialist will stare at your tiny threadlike veins in dismay before declaring that the only way to get any blood out of you today will be using a lancet on the side of your finger.  The good news is that the stick site will bleed.  The bad news is that it will only provide the smallest drop before clotting.  Two more attempts later, you find yourself surrounded by three nurses yanking your arm downward and massaging the already-sore area to try and coax enough blood out to run the necessary tests.  The doctor will show up in the midst of the confusion and attempt to hold a deep, meaningful conversation at the same time as everyone else in the room.  Try to participate in all four conversations at once, guaranteeing that your greatest contribution to the verbal fray is “Um… I guess… wait, no, July.  NO.  AUGUST.  Latex?  Seventeen.”

The ultrasound technician will come in to take a look at the current state of your not-so-benign lump of shit that shouldn’t be there.  Lift up your gown to expose your stomach.  She will look at you confusedly and instruct you to remove your underwear.  Take a good twenty seconds to realize what she means.  This is not the simple ultrasound that TV has always showed you.  Reruns of ER have lied to you.  Goran Visnjic’s sexy deception will not soon be forgotten.

Actual size of ultrasound wand based on (very) personal estimation.

Actual size of ultrasound wand based on (very) personal estimation.

The next couple of hours go by without a hitch.  Before you know it, you are somewhat drowsily listening to the doctor giving you instructions on the five thousand and four medications that she expects you to take over the next few days of recovery.  After noticing your blank stare, she begins to place colored stickers on the bottles and on the medication schedule and use smaller words.  Find yourself unsure of whether to be grateful or offended.  She will ask you to verify the medication allergies you have listed in your chart.  Confirm the allergy to sulfa drugs, but hesitate on mentioning the erythromycin thing.  It’s been years since you last took it, and you were just a little kid, so of course it’s going to make you feel crappy (literally), right?  Decide that since your airway stayed open, you’re probably fine and decline to mention it.  She will warn you that over the next few days you may notice some bleeding, but that this is normal.  Her version of “some bleeding” and the actual version you will experience over the next few days will differ greatly.

*whistles*

*whistles*

At home, you will quickly discover that you should have mentioned the erythromycin thing.  You really, really, really should have.  But you will not come to this conclusion until after vomiting up water and saltines for several hours.  Also realize that no matter how excited you are about the Associate Quest Designer position that Blizzard just posted on their website, you should probably not drag yourself out of bed three hours post-surgery to apply, because it will come back to bite you in the ass once the pain meds wear off, which they will do about halfway through your cover letter.

And that, folks, is a true story.  The surprise medical adventure has caused a slight delay in my starting work in the game industry, but with a blissfully short estimated recovery time (assuming I don’t do anything else irresponsible like sit at the computer writing a 1000+ word arti — oh.) I should be back to relatively normal by Monday.  I haven’t been around much because of the poor health leading up to this, and then a very rough couple of recovery days, but I’m happy to report that I can finally sleep without discomfort and have more energy than I’ve had in quite some time.  I haven’t needed to take any of the pain pills they gave me since about 4 a.m. yesterday and for the first time in a while I can actually do simple things like make myself lunch and walk around the house.

In the meantime, I implore all of you to listen to your body, and if you feel like something is really wrong, seek medical attention as soon as you can.  I’m fortunate enough to live in the great state of California which offers a fantastic program called Medi-Cal for those of us who can’t otherwise afford healthcare, and many non-profit hospitals are happy to work with you to reduce or write off your bill if necessary.  I took a stupid risk by waiting so long to get checked out, especially with my family’s history of cancer.  I was lucky this time, but I may not be so fortunate again.  A trip to the doctor isn’t exactly like going to Disneyland, but it could save your life in the long run.