On the wind

Amazing that it has been over a year since I last actually posted something. I have written a few drafts over the year that just never made it to posting stage because life with an infant and preschooler. And a layoff. Because that’s fun.

I’m going to be working on some changes to the layout of the site. Thinking about creating a theme from scratch. Studying some web development.

And I’d like to get back to blogging about studying for the JLPT, the trials and tribulations of freelancing from home with a toddler, and whatever else comes up. I might even finish some of those drafts, with their long-since fallen out of discussion topics. You know? Stuff. Oh, and translating some more songs because practice.

Perhaps I’d blog more if I didn’t try and write entire chapters at once.

Feeling bloggy

Life has been hectic, but good. My job (going on 6 months!) is going pretty well. I think I’ve settled in and my coworkers seem to appreciate me. I am still liking it. My husband survived the relatively recent cutbacks at his office. I think he will always be leery of his own job security (which is not uncommon in the video game industry), but he is less paranoid at the moment than he was in the month or so leading up to those layoffs. He is busier now, of course, but I think we are both quite happy that he is still employed. And hey! He was able to take a week off for Thanksgiving, which I know he was particularly thankful for.

I am firmly in the third trimester now (middle of the seventh month), and looking about as big as I was during the eighth month when I was pregnant with Alex. I cannot remember all of the details of my first pregnancy, but I’m almost positive I am more ungainly now than I was then. This little girl has laid low pretty much this entire time. The positive aspect of this is that I’m not dealing with tiny toes kicking up against my lungs. The negative is that I have to pee (and watch out for those pregnancy “accidents”) as if this were the ninth month. Being a little bigger this time around has also led to more frustration with my clothing situation. I really don’t know how I’m going to be able to comfortably fit into anything warm in January, once I hit the home stretch. I’ll be working up until I go into labor, if all continues as well as it has been, but with Alex I worked from home in my pajamas and sweat pants for the entire last month. I do not think I will be able to do this with my new employer. And while I really want this little girl to make it full term, I am also experiencing the “get this baby the hell out of here” feelings way earlier than I did with her big brother. Have I mentioned that I don’t like being pregnant? I sure do love the baby part, though.

Alexander is, I think, pretty excited about being a big brother now. He’s 3, so he’s obviously not understanding all of what is to come, but he’s onboard. He talks to the baby and likes to give her zuberts (adorable and annoying at the same time, considering it’s my tummy he’s giving them to). He’s ready to share all of his baby toys with her and is stoked that he has an official big boy bed, complete with big boy sheets, now that the toddler bed is once again a crib and out of his room. At the same time, he is very much a 3 year old and we have had the pleasure of frequent meltdowns and tantrums. Some mornings he just doesn’t want to go to day care and he will kick and scream and cry himself silly as we get increasingly short-tempered. He is also more difficult to deal with at bed time, particularly if he missed a nap that day. He’s pretty well potty-trained now, and most times he will go and take care of business completely on his own. His new thing is that he wants to wear undies to bed. We’ve tried undies to bed a few times in the last couple of months, but we almost always have an accident in the middle of the night. So our parental default position is diapers are for sleeping because waking up to use the toilet is a very difficult thing to do. He has become downright violent these past few nights when we’ve insisted on diapers. You’d think he was being physically assaulted the way he screams about “no diapers!” over and over again. So, last night we went full-on undies to bed and he was accident free. I’m not holding my breath that my son is fully potty-trained, but it was a small victory for him. As long as he keeps it up, we won’t be able to get him in diapers ever again. He’s a good kid most of the time, though, and I’m fairly certain we spoil him. Without a doubt, he gets more stuff than Chris or I ever did as kids. I hope this will change as we become a four person family.

We spent the long Thanksgiving weekend up at my mother-in-law’s house in Grand Rapids (MN). It is always nice to have a break from cooking every meal and Alex is finally of an age where he knows what “going to grandma’s house” means. They have a cat and a popcorn machine, and these are currently two of his favorite things. He spent so much time petting the kitty and following her around and asking for popcorn every day. I wish I had taken pictures of this. I feel bad that Chris is so allergic, but Alex and I are cat people. Someday there will be a kitty in our house. We also got our first big snowfall of the season on Thanksgiving day. We enjoyed sitting in the log cabin with a fire roaring in the fireplace, watching the fluffy white snow falling down. On Friday, we had fun playing in it before the windchill forced us back inside. Kids and snow, you guys. It is a magical thing.

We decorated the house for the holidays the weekend before heading up to grandma’s. I’ve always liked this part of the holidays (that and the food), but it is better with your own children. It just is. And though I’m hopefully agnostic/logically atheist, I keep up with holiday cheer because it is just that. Cheery. And I love my family. And it has always been good times for them. Decorating the house, baking Christmas cookies, sharing love and joy and presents… It gets me right in the feels. Every. Time. Alex helped hang ornaments on the tree and has been excited about plugging in the Christmas lights every evening. Our inherited Christmas tree is actually starting to fall apart this year, though. So I’ve been eyeballing those already wired with lights fake ones at the store. In my mind’s eye I’m rubbing my hands together covetously, going “Soon, my pretty. Soon.” Of course I like the frosted Spruce one, the – if you know me well, then you guessed it – most expensive one. Other than that, I’ve been having a pretty good time picking out presents for myself and my loved ones. I’ve been trying not to spend too much, but at the same time I just want to. It’s good for the economy and all, yeah? My poor bank account. But still, I feel good about it. I also get the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s off this year. Three cheers for working for a company that forces a shut down. There will be holiday baking and final preparation of the hand-made things for baby and, if we’re really lucky, family in our home for Christmas. All of these things make me happy.

Back again

Last night I started up a new game of Dragon Age: Origins. It’s been a long while since I’ve played and I kinda missed Alistair and his shenanigans. My headcanon for the Dragon Age franchise involves a human noble rogue Grey Warden who ends up married to Alistair and queen of Ferelden. My original Warden (the one whose save game I imported into Dragon Age 2) was a character I’d tried to make look like myself that had failed spectacularly. But after creating a Warden for every origin story and playing 3 of them at least halfway into the game, I was a bit tired and decided to hurry up and finish the game with her anyway. There were a couple of side quests I missed as well. So, since I’ve been wanting to run through Dragon Age 2 again (now that most of the bugs have been patched *fingers crossed*), I thought, What the hey!? Might as well fix my canon Origins Warden while I’m at it.

After spending most of the evening messing around in the character creator (seriously, LOVE the character creator), I finally have a character who looks like she would capture the heart of the bastard son of the dead king and inspire unwavering loyalty in everyone she meets. Too bad I forgot to save the custom name I’d typed in. Oh well, my headcanon Hawke sticks with the default Marian, so I guess my headcanon Warden can live on as Elissa Cousland.

I’m excited to revisit the game. We’ll see if I can maintain this excitement after some of the more tedious side quests. Damn my completionist nature. At least most of the side quests take about as long as the loading screens in Skyrim.

BioWare and Romance DLC

So, David Gaider tweeted (will look up link on a computer that will actually let me access Twitter later) something vague about romances being DLC only. And I was all, “I don’t care, gimme gimme gimme!” And a short conversation with a fellow BioWare fan followed, which was less than an eyeblink in the life of Twitter. And maybe no one will care, but I feel like I have more to say about this. And wait! I have a blog. Yeah.

Here’s how I feel about the entire thing.

IF BioWare were to choose to go the route of offering their famous romances as DLC-only, then I will wholeheartedly support them. This is the long version of why.

I had heard of Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights previously, but not being a PC gamer, and not having a ton of funds (growing up lower middle class, y’all), I didn’t really get into gaming, let alone BioWare, until my future husband was all “You love Star Wars? You should play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.”

He bought me my very own Xbox 360 after getting me addicted to Guitar Hero and Oblivion when they came out. (What a catch, right ladies!?) I had a Gamecube and an Animal Crossing addiction prior, so he figured he had me pretty well pegged. He wasn’t wrong. So, for a week or two when he was out of town on business, I picked up his old Xbox copy of SW:KoTOR and jumped right in. And it was glorious!

I will never forget the very first time Carth Onasi flirted with my smuggler. Romance storylines in games was a completely foreign concept to me. No, not even foreign. It was something to which I was completely oblivious. Because a dating sim? Totally not the same thing.


The first time he flirted with my smuggler on Taris, I was all “Wait. Did he just flirt with me?” When I realized I had the option to flirt back, I went (hear my voice pitching higher and higher with every word) “Oh my God! He did just! and I just! and OHMYGOD! I LOVE THIS GAME!” Sold. Hooked. I loved every minute of that game. Even after I got to the end and had to completely re-roll my character because I roleplayed a Consular with no Force Push or Lightning. (Shut up!) And I replayed the entire game in 24 hours. And I was so sad that there was no ending credits kissy-kissy with Carth.

Then I immediately picked up my husband’s copy of Jade Empire and fell in love with Sky.

At this point in time, Mass Effect had already been released. My husband had played about half of Eden Prime before getting sucked into Assassin’s Creed. (I think. It is possible he went back to Oblivion because I was giving him hell for not even having completed the main quest line when I’d already logged well over 200 hours into my two characters.) Needless to say, I jumped right into Mass Effect. And fell in love with female Commander Shepard so hard that I turned into rabid BioWare fangirl. Umm, no, seriously. I can still converse for hours on end about how awesome Mass Effect is.

The romance between femShepard and Kaidan Alenko is so simple and genuine and makes it all so real for me. I played Mass Effect all the way through at least 10 times. I tooled around with multiple looks and personality types for femShep. I gave dudeShep a try (meh). I developed a canon femShep. I refined her over multiple runs. For the first time in my life I collected every single achievement for a game. *I* beat a game on Insanity. All because of female Shepard and Kaidan Alenko.

As much as I love sci-fi, I’m really a fantasy girl. So, when I heard about Dragon Age: Origins, I was exuberant and followed the news closely. I really enjoyed it. And I still harbor much love for Alistair and Zevran. And Sten, and Leiliana, and my Mabari, you get the picture. But it didn’t quite feel the same as femShep.

I went on to Mass Effect 2. It was dark times for Shepard without her Kaidan, but I still really liked the game. None of the romance options could tear her away from Kaidan, the original romance so thoroughly had its hooks in my heart.

Dragon Age 2 hit and, though it took me some time to get around to finishing my playthrough (I had a baby), I saw a glimmer of what I felt for Shepard and Kaidan in my Marian Hawke and Anders romance. It was more raw and visceral, but it was strong. And life was really good.

Then Mass Effect 3… Oh, Mass Effect 3. It’s been months but there are still wounds there. And I am not ready to write about those. But Kaidan was back and Shepard was more real than ever. Oh God, it was so good. And then the ending wasn’t so good. The extended cut did a little to kiss and make up, and I feel better about it, but that is not the point. The point is that BioWare is really fucking good at writing romances. They are good at writing characters that I feel for, whether it is like or dislike. I mean, I really, really like Liara specifically because I did not like her personality at first and then she grew as a character and now, well, I have super warm fuzzies for her friendship with Shepard by Mass Effect 3.

I know there are people out there that will agree with me that BioWare is known for their romance options in games. A small part of me cries at the thought that they could take a step back from that and offer these options as something available only in extra (read: paid) downloadable content. But you know what? After the shit I went through, that Jennifer Hepler (Anders’ writer) went through, and that numerous fans went through on the BioWare Social Network, I will happily fork over my money. My only caveat being that the romances need to run the course of the game, “extra” or not, and be the quality we’ve come to depend upon.

What “shit” you may ask? Well, I can’t talk about these people nicely, so you have been warned. But the gist is that a bunch of immature jerkwads became fans (or came out of the woodwork) and joined the BSN at some point after the release of Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2. And these idiots didn’t know how to tell which dialogue options were flirting. And then they freaked the fuck out when NPCs macked on their Shepards and Hawkes. Then they came to the boards and bitched and whined and complained and trolled and were general scumbags to the rest of us. They belittled the women for enjoying the romance options. They bashed the homosexual and transgender communities that had made homes for themselves there. And they begged BioWare to make romances heterosexual only, if not take romances out of their games entirely.

And you know what? I don’t want to play games with those assholes. I don’t want to communicate with them on the forums (where I used to be a regular). If offering romance storylines as DLC that those shitheads won’t bother to pay for means that they won’t be around bitching about it and completely ruining my experience, then SIGN ME UP.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love BioWare fans. And I fucking hate BioWare fans. But I will pay my hard-earned cash to retain what I love so much about BioWare and their games.

Busy few months


It has been a busy couple of months around here. Just a little over one month after I was “let go”, I started my new job. It is similar work to what I did before but all around better in every possible way. The money is better, the employer is better, my boss is better. The only downside is that it is now more difficult to see my friends from the old job. You guys, I miss you! I’ll try and arrange an apple-picking date this Fall. Yes?

The day after I accepted my new job I found out that after months of trying we are finally going to have another baby. Apparently I needed to be stress-free. So, here we are, approximately 14 weeks along. Baby is doing well. We won’t know if it’s a boy or girl for another month and a half or so, but the plan is to find out. We are steadily preparing Alex for big brother status. He does and doesn’t get it, as you’d expect of a three year old. He knows there is a baby in Mommy’s belly. He wants a baby in his belly too. Getting him to stop jumping into my lap is still a challenge, though. Chris and I are equally excited and worried about having another little one. Things are looking up for the both of us, but considering we have both lost jobs within the last couple of years it is difficult to let go of the “what-ifs”.

That being said, we upgraded my MINI on Saturday. I am torn between sorrow/regret at trading in my 2006 Cooper, that I’ve had and loved for the last six years, and being stoked about the MINI Countryman and its awesomeness. And it is pretty awesome. It is also green with a white roof, like my old MINI, with the added bonus of the cold-weather package (heated seats, washer jets, and mirrors), now that I am no longer parking in a garage at work. Well, that and the four doors. I initially thought I’d be able to do two little kids in my two-door Cooper, but as my mid-section has already started to expand, I’ve had to come face-to-face with the cold, hard truth: Ain’t no way in hell I’d be able to strap Alex into his car seat with a giant 9-months pregnant belly. So, now we have plenty of room for a toddler seat and an infant seat, as well as some things in the back, and it is a relief. Of course, we also have to deal with car payments again, so there is that. I’ll be posting a picture of my old Cooper and my new Countryman side-by-side soon.

There have been a lot of ups in the last few months, but I’ve been fighting pregnancy fatigue and nausea and just haven’t even looked at this website. I cannot guarantee that I’ll pick up the posting any time soon, but I’ll try to do something here and there.