Monthly Archives: January 2014

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!

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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.