Monday, February 7, 2011

Mind Dump

Hey guys. I'm writing today with a bit of a heavy heart and mixed feelings, and I've found the best way for me to sort through those mixed feelings is usually to write them out and try to make some sort of sense of them. So while I've had several ideas wanting to be written lately and I've been trying to pick through them, this one sort of takes precedence.

This post will probably touch on the fickleness of the internet, my last, past and present, the overall fragility of many things, and probably more, because the issue touches on it all. And while this seems really odd for something to be getting to me, of all the things that's been going on lately and other things I've been wanting to write about, it does, and sometimes emotions and reactions just don't make that much sense.

Shortly into my day yesterday, I found out what is probably my favorite blog, Righteous Orbs, was closing its doors. Tam made the post which is probably why it had as much impact as it did; while I enjoyed Chas's posts, too, Tam was my favorite. Not just of the duo, but my favorite blogger, period. While I wouldn't have been such an avid reader of the blog were I not at one point into WoW, since it was a blog about such, I still think I would've enjoyed either way... The same as I enjoyed the posts even after I'd distanced myself from the game. The man has quite a way with words, and while that's the most succinct way I can put it, it doesn't do him justice, to me.

After I started reading I quickly grew to enjoy reading his new posts almost every morning, or whenever he managed to post, as they dwindled down. There's something to be said about starting your morning with a laugh, a smile, often some inspiration or something to think about, which was the case very often as his posts could be rather wide-ranging. In time it became almost like starting the morning talking with a friend. And while the communication was more like a pen-pal or email conversations in form than talking face-to-face, or even in real time via instant messenger or such, I did come to think of them as friends, Tam moreso than Chas if for nothing else but because he did post more often.

They were quite inspiring. Many time I'd come away from one of their posts thinking, and in turn those thoughts wanted an outlet, more than just a comment. And so I started blogging. Many in the beginning started such as "The latest post at Righteous Orbs got me thinking, and..." but I eventually grew into my own right. Though there is no denying if it were not for Tam I would not have started at all. If it were not for him as well, I probably would have ended up giving it up. There is only so long you can talk to an empty room before you go to find a more engaging audience; Tam was my first visitor, and my first comment. The first person to let me know I was being read, and the first person to not just let me know my posts weren't painful to read, but were actually (at least at times) interesting.

There was a WoW blogging communities guild at one point, and I believe it still exists, both on EU and US realms. Thing is if you have a US account, you can't play on EU, and vice versa... I did eventually, after its founding, end up buying an EU version of the game in order to play on EU realms. There were several bloggers who played on EU I was interested by the thought of playing with, or at the very least talking with in such a manner, and there was a friend who played on EU-only at one point though I found out after I started playing EU that his account was running out of time soon and he didn't plan to pay for more time. So the reason I stayed and played on EU was SAN, the blogging communities guild, and if I am to be honest then I have to admit that, again while there were several bloggers over there I enjoyed, the main two were Tam and Chas. I mentioned elsewhere I am extremely, almost cripplingly shy very often, so I wasn't comfortable just asking someone who I didn't know for an invite into the guild, though I could've. Instead I added Tam and Chas to that toon's friend list and quested as normal for somewhere around a week I think before I actually got up the guts (after many proddings from a friend) to get over the shyness and whisper the next one who was on when I was for an invite, which turned out to be Tam. That was probably one of the most overly polite whispers I have ever sent, and I don't think he realized who it was who was asking for an invite. I ended up playing off and on over there (more off than on) for two months, before the budget got too tight to afford two accounts, but, while I very rarely said anything (again due to shyness), I did highly enjoy my time over there. It was also the most casual I ever played, so if I was ever to realistically return to WoW, I would be playing over there, rather than jumping back into what would end up the raiding scene with my best friends, which does say a lot.

So with closing my blog and quitting WoW completely, I lost two ways to communicate with a pair of people I did like to consider friends, who I would've liked the chance to talk with more. I realize now I missed out on that opportunity in large part due to my own shyness, which I should've just sucked up... but I think part of me also thought they wouldn't quit blogging, that I'd always have that way to talk with them at least. And now that that option isn't there, I'm really feeling not just the regret, but the loss. I do think the blogging community will probably suffer, and will miss them, but it's more than just the community's loss, it does feel like a personal loss. I could email them, and a large part of me wants to, but it also feels... awkward, like I'd be emailing a practical stranger, not just because I didn't take the initiative earlier, not just because I haven't been as active a commenter as I could've been, but also because there isn't that main communication, the common threads. Or maybe it is just shyness and paranoia...

The internet has done a fine job of connecting people who otherwise would never speak, or meet, or hear of each other. Many of those people become friends, at least of a sort. The friendships formed are as real as the ones in real life at their heart; just because they're not face-to-face doesn't make conversations not exist. And just like in real life, when the only real communication you have is the occasional meeting through a shared hobby, what happens when that friend stops sharing that hobby? Is it really appropriate to call or email that person when you no longer share that hobby, no matter how much you miss their presence in your life, however much a sort of peripheral affect they had on it? Or is it best to let the friendship die? Do you at least try?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Well THIS update sure is a bit long overdue...

Hey there folks, long time no post! Sorry about that. I actually had a couple posts I wrote up on Christmas where I had a two week or so bout of no internet that I'd planned to post when I did get internet but, gah, when I re-read them I just couldn't bear to post them. Of course if I read over most of the stuff I've posted, I'd probably wish I hadn't to some extent or another, so that's not much of an excuse.

Anyway this morning I've got a little bit of time in between things and since I'm feeling somewhat human in between doses of cough syrup I figured I'd get a post up on here, since I've not only been meaning to for, well, over a month now, but I've really been wanting to write again, and I've got so much on my mind to let out.

For starters, since I don't know if I mentioned it anywhere really before now, I did end up joining Fox's promo team. Probably not a huge surprise there. I think I joined it around the time of my last blog post actually, let me see... Yes, about two days before, though I hadn't been moved up to the more difficult stuff at that point. Obviously, since then, I have... and then some. Hoo boy, that kept me busy-busy for a long while, to the point I was substituting energy drinks for sleep for days on end trying to get more done. Bit of a bad problem trying to carry too much myself, I guess. That was interrupted--for about two weeks--due to a rather sudden loss of internet, in which the techs said there wasn't a problem when, obviously, yes, yes there was. Highly dissatisfied with the cable company we'd switched to for internet, we switched back to the phone company, and internet was returned around the first of the year (actually, I think it was the first...). At some point as well, I believe before the internet incident, and I may have wrote about this so if I did, pardon the repetition, the last working fan in the laptop I had went out, so I was without a computer for a couple days waiting for the temporary replacement computer I ordered to come in (yay for next-day shipping!). After I got internet back I went back to devoting more time than is really healthy to promo, at least until Silv stepped in with threats of tieing me off somewhere and forcing me to get adequate sleep if I didn't start doing so myself, so I now, rather grudgingly, have a schedule to stick to that also leaves a rather convenient time gap every day, though I'll get into that more later on.

One thing, out of all of this that I didn't really expect... Well, okay, it turns out I do miss WoW, quite a bit more than expected, and that's not what I'm getting at though it's an important little preamble or sorts, though it's not just the people which I expected to miss but really random aspects of it. Most of which have since been destroyed by Cataclysm, anyway. However realistically I still really can't and shouldn't afford the time to play even if I am missing it, so I've been sort of trying to treat it as an addiction, trying not to think of it and finding other things to occupy my mind when I'm missing it something fierce, and just trying to distance myself from it as much as I can. And so at one point I informed my friends of this, and asked them if they could refrain from mentioning it at least for a while. Of course one of my friends just didn't listen at all and kept prattling on about it to me which, okay, I sort of knew that would happen, considering that friend, but I didn't expect another one to, I don't know, take it as a challenge or something. I'm not really sure how he viewed that other than "Ooh, Deni's missing WoW, I bet I can get her to come back!" And of course, silly me, I thought he was just being forgetful like most of my friends until Eric goes and says he's doing it on purpose. Honestly, if it wasn't for some of the measures I took trying to stop myself from missing the game in the first place, between the two friends they probably would have had me back in by now even though I really shouldn't, but it's sort of hard to just "come back" when I don't even have access to the account anymore. Still, they're tempting me with keys for vanilla, BC, and Wrath, which is still very frustratingly tempting, sadly...

Amongst all the tempting, though, I ended up in the new mumble server which is apparently like a vent server but free (supposedly? From what I can tell they're paying for servers just like I had to with vent, so I don't know), talking with Eric, Ev and Silv, along with a good chunk of the reformed Tattered Legends that Eric made on another server after we sort of fell apart. The crew is pretty awesome, actually, and the conversation was really fun, and I enjoyed talking with them (after my initial panic of "oh god, new people, so many new people") while doing promo. At least, until the sound card problems... or what I'm assuming is issues with the sound card in the temporary replacement laptop (which was admittedly quite an old model, comparatively). They weren't exactly problems I could easily fix, either. So I thought of my first laptop that was gifted to me so I could play WoW in the first place (ironic, isn't that), which I thought if I could just get rid of the system monitor it had somehow contracted that put it down before, I'd be set. I was very wrong.

The battery of said laptop is completely fried, and the AC adapter was trash even before the system monitor issues, honestly. I was in luck that the AC adapter for the new laptop was the same as for the old. So when I loaded it up, I found out I didn't even remember my password anymore, hadn't the vaguest idea what it was, and took me a good portion of a day to get it reset, and then I downloaded my antivirus software and it did manage to find the monitor, which I thought would be the worst of my issues, even though it took about two days for all that. I'll spare all the details but it's been one issue after another since for over a week now, probably getting closer to two, although I think (finally) I'm at the last hurdle, which is figuring out how 40GB of free space is not enough room to defragment six 3-4GB files that total 26% fragmentation on the disc... or at least trying to figure out a way to defragment them anyway. At least, I'm really, really hoping that's the last hurdle, since the browsers finally seem to be working in some manner of "stable."

I think what I may be kicking myself over the most, even more than thinking that getting this computer up and running would ever possibly be a "quick" fix, is that I had a whole lot of idiot moments where I made really stupid mistakes that have made the whole process take even longer than it should have. I've been told to blame the medicine and honestly that's probably the truth. A few days after I started working on the computer, my difficulty breathing, rattling breath, frequent and nasty cough, and discomfort in my chest turned to outright pain and having trouble breathing at all, at which point I knew it wasn't something I could put off anymore and so I went to see a doctor. They promptly informed me that I had a "severe upper respiratory infection," gave me two weeks worth of what is probably the strongest antibiotic I've ever been on, heavy heavy duty cough syrup, and more than my share of incredulous looks when I told them the symptoms started a month and a half prior. Oops. Thankfully the meds have helped, since I'm no longer taking the cough syrup that makes me more than a little out of it every time I safely can, and it doesn't hurt as much to breathe lately. Still, I probably would have saved myself time by not trying to fix this thing while I was out of it, than I did having to backtrack and fix all my screwups.

Now, as for the schedule and the time gap I mentioned earlier that I'm being held to with continued threats to tie me down if I don't. There's a sizeable chunk of time in the evenings, about two and a half hours of time, which is supposed to be a "leisure" time. That's all well and good, though I feel rather guilty that that's time I could be doing something useful, meaningful, productive and... won't... Regardless that does mean I have a good chunk more time on my hands than I figured I'd have. In theory it means I could return to WoW, though I honestly doubt I will, as things stand. If nothing else I'd have to play much, much more casually than I ever really have before, except maybe my very first twenty levels or so. I'm not sure I could. So far that time has been spent mostly reading or catching up on things here and there, like my RSS feeds in my reader I keep neglecting out of forgetfulness, or watching Day9's dailies which sort of became a kind of tradition a long time ago that was picked up again with the introduction to mumble and such. I actually have never played Starcraft, but Ev and Silv got me to watch some of the non-Starcraft stuff of his and it highly amused me, and one night we ended up in Silv's private vent and chatted through a daily, and even though I had no clue what was going on really I enjoyed it, and the tradition was born, though now (well, before the computer issues and infection) there's a lot more than just the three of us. In a lot of ways it boiled down to just friends hanging out, watching something together and discussing it, as close as we really could when we're all in different places.

On the other hand, that time slot also means I have a designated time in which I can write, where it'd be one of the more productive things I could do anyway. And that aspect actually does appeal to me, quite a lot, since I've missed writing--and blogging, really!--as well as the communication with people I'd like to consider friends of a sort where the only real communication actually was through blogging (and, well, commenting on said blogs, too, of course). So I'm hoping there will be more posts here, more often, and maybe some other little goodies if I can pick'em up off the ground again, but you'll have to wait and see for those!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Writing Bug, and Internet vs Real Life

As I figured it would, the writing bug has bit me again, so here we are. For those who don't know, I recently 'killed' my last blog, Bonfires Are Good Practice, which was mostly a World of Warcraft blog, because my life has undergone some pretty serious changes that have resulted in me quitting the game, and thus blogging about it would just be silly. If you clicked that link, or knew me from there, then you probably noticed the name behind these posts are different, and there's a reason for that. This time I'm using not an alias, nor a screen name on a game; this time I'm using my real name, and I'm getting over any shame of connecting all of my identities as one, because afterall they are all me. And people do change. I used to just create a new screen name, a new mini-identity when I'd undergo a change and became ashamed of who I was, but no more, because I am who I am and those changes, from who I was to who I am becoming, are important.

My last post there, for anyone interested, goes into the most recent change, probably the most drastic of my life, why it happened, what it is, and how. So I won't go into that here, at least not right now, not this post. No, this post has a purpose, thoughts that have been nagging at me, begging to be written down. So let's delve into them, shall we?

A lot of the blogs on my feed reader have a purpose; actually, I dare say all of them do, that varies in importance. One of the biggest purposes, to me, is to make me think. Whether just taking a moment to think about the principles that make the world work, or more philosophical things that make me question what I know, or ones that make me think about my life, especially how different aspects are similar and affect each other. A couple of the more recent posts at Righteous Orbs have been in this last category, regarding real life vs. the internet. In the wake of the recent upheaval of my life, this kind of thinking really hits home.

Now, this is where I may start to get rambly. Or at least, a bit moreso than normal. But if you can bear with me through it, it all helps to convey my thoughts on this.

I think everyone has a purpose in life. To that end, they have different abilities, different tendencies, etc. that, in general, can be good or bad,  but in the end help to serve this purpose. I don't think everyone finds their purpose, but those who do are likely some of the happiest people to live. One of my tendencies, in general, is rather bad. I tend to, not necessarily obsess over things though I've been known to do that too, but latch onto things and make my life revolve around them. Not even necessarily things; it can be ideas, or people, or what-have-you. I find something and throw myself into it, for all I'm worth. No matter how much effort I tried not to, I invariably ended up either wholeheartedly dedicated to something, or forgetting for the most part its existence. This especially surfaced in the years I spent gaming online.

Knowing this, it shouldn't have came as such a shock when I went to clean out and reorganize my life, that, well, the past several years of my life I have barely existed offline. As I went through my email, I discovered I had held onto almost every one that had came in, even if it meant just putting a label on it, archiving it, and never seeing it again until recently. Considering how... prolific, I've been online at times, and how many years I've had this email address, it was more of a shock that I had only eight thousand-something messages than it was that I actually hung onto them all. These were the breadcrumbs on the trail of my life, the things that reminded me who I was, at whatever time, and what I was doing that made me, me. And I deleted all but around one hundred.

Partly due to the above-mentioned online-existence, and partly because half of my life I never stayed in one place more than a couple months before having to leave with next to nothing to live somewhere else, this wasn't just a metaphor to leaving my house, my home, with only a few possessions, never to return. This was essentially the same thing. Even though I have lived in my current physical residence for about four years and only had one little move and a couple extended hotel stays during that time, I'm not attached to much of anything here. I'm attached to my cats, my dogs, my family, and my computer. That, to be honest, is it. And the computer part is extremely variable; it's more my access to the internet, and my friends online, than the thing itself.

And now we go more into the meat of things.

I have been blessed with a mother who understands that my 'real' friends are online, and a grandmother who has grown to accept that--mostly from seeing the evidence herself. But a lot of people, even people in similar situations to me, still think that if you haven't physically met someone, you can't really be friends.

This, I believe wholeheartedly, is false.

I still have a handful of "friends" who are local. People I grew up with. People who, at times, shared my interests, and I theirs. Out of the ones I still keep in contact with, I have known one for 16 years (I am currently 21, so you can compare just how long I have indeed known this person), one for 8, and the other for about 5. We've had our ups and downs, like all relationships, and at one point I did consider them friends, to the point I have had bones broken protecting the one I've known for 8 years. We stopped actually hanging out about 3 years ago, when I learned the hard way that, while I have always been there for them at the drop of a hat when they needed me, no matter what, because I believed that's just what friends do, it was a one-sided relationship. Now, the most we keep in contact is through "pokes" on Facebook, or the occasional Facebook Chat when one of them needs an ear. I am still there for them when they need me, and I believe everyone can change, so I hope one day it may become a two-way street, but realistically speaking our biggest tie is that is we live in the same city.

I have known for a while now my best friends are online, people who I have never physically met, and I have gotten in the past couple years to where I will readily admit this, odd looks or not. I am blessed enough to have four best friends, which is more than a lot of people really have, and a handful of really close friends beyond them. This really isn't as odd as it sounds.

The first one is Ev, who I have known since around 2006. We met through a roleplay forum based in the world of an online serial that we both enjoyed, and ended up talking in the chatroom for said forum. A lot. We became pretty good friends and actually ended up dating, even though we live 2000 miles apart. There was a time where it seemed, well, vital that I had to move, but I literally had nowhere else to go. He was actually willing to marry me (to legally get me into the country), pay to move me up to Canada, support me, the whole nine yards, which is something I never expected anyone to do, much less someone who'd never met me in person. Thankfully the situation diffused itself before actions were necessary, and eventually we found out we just weren't compatible romantically, but we still make amazing friends. He is still my best friend, and knows me more than everyone else. He has also supported me monetarily whenever I needed it, whenever there were emergencies, etc. and one year, when he moved and didn't have internet access, gave me free control over all of his information (including his bank account) so that I could make sure his bills were paid for him, since it was all done online. I have trusted him with the same information though there hasn't been a situation where it was actually necessary... I can't see myself ever trusting anyone else with the information I've trusted him with, much less the people I know in person.

The second is Mitri, who I've known for 2-3 years now. I met him through World of Warcraft, because we needed his role in our guild, and the more we talked the more we liked each other. He knows more about me than almost everyone aside from Ev and my mother (but mothers always know, oh yes), and for a long while we were inseparable. We also dated but the same issues that caused us to fall apart there have been causing the friendship to fall apart lately (even before the change). Regardless he still supports me like none of my 'friends' locally ever have, and knows me well enough to snap me out of any funks I may slip into.

The third is Silv (he's kind of OCD about his privacy so although I'm sure no one will find him 'cause of his first name, I won't be putting it here), and I've known him just a bit less time than I've known Mit, and met him in a similar way though he was a different role. In time he proved he was worthy of a high rank in the guild, as did Mitri, and so they were promoted and as part of the officercore we all ended up talking a lot and spending more time together. Even beyond WoW we've all stayed in touch to varying degrees. Silv and I have helped each other through emotional pitfalls, have been each others' shoulders to cry on, ears to talk to, advice, defense. He's earned his place as a best friend easily as much as Evan has, and has also offered me a place to stay if I ever need one.

The fourth and last of my best friends is Eric, who I've actually only known for about a year. Mitri found him, actually, in a guild we all sort of migrated to temporarily. I met him through Mit and the three of us started hanging out together, and he and I had a lot in common and just plain enjoyed talked to each other. When the original four of us went back to our own guild, Eric came with us, and even after the guild had died, he recreated it and our beliefs on another server and is prospering, carrying on the legacy we all started. He's one of those people who sort of has a niche; there's a lot of things I talk to him about that I simply couldn't talk to anyone else about, or it wouldn't be appropriate to. He's also one of the most supportive of me, and I of him in return, and has also rightly earned his place among my top friends.

These are people I'd do anything to help. People I'd give my life to save were it necessary, and I know at least three of them would do the same for me. We've all gone to bat for each other on different occasions for different reasons, all relied and depended on each other, supported each other through thick and thin, savored victories together (even if they were only victories over internet dragons for the most part). True friends. The kind of camaraderie stories are written about.

These are also people I have never physically met.

Ev lives in Alberta, Canada. Mitri lives in Tennessee. Silv lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. Eric lives in Washington. And me? I live in Arkansas. I'm miles and miles away from any of them, and yet they're better friends than I ever could have hoped for.

I've never believed that the true test of friendship is how close you are, how close you live, what school you went to, what clubs you're apart of. Sure, that gives you something in common, but I had quite a bit more in common at times with the people I've called friends locally, while it never was a true friendship, and certainly never like the friends I have online--even the ones who aren't my best friends.

When I made my decision to dedicate my life to changing the world, making it a better place, most of my local friends never commented, or went on about themselves. No support. Most people probably know how important support can be, especially when doing a complete 180 with your life, so this was another sort of eye opener.

So, how does this concern the people I have never met?

I've had several ask me, in-depth, what this is about. Why I'm doing it. Examining my reasons, making sure I'm doing it for the right ones, making sure I'm not throwing everything away for passing fancy.

I've had several ideas of how I could, and talks of how I plan to and how they can help, proposed to me.

I have been offered places to stay, I have had people offer to drive me around the country, I have been offered funds, I have had several people give me advice, I have someone who's going to code a whole website when Change The World Today gets off the ground enough to be worth putting a good chunk of money into for a domain and hosting.

And above all, I have had support from every side, people telling me if they can help in any way let them know, and people telling me that if this is what makes me happy, then go for it.

Some of these, I'm sure, they just did because they felt obliged. But to get so much support, in so many ways? Surely not obligation--much less the people actually doing something.

These people are not predators, they are not scammers, they are not out to kill/maim/rape me, and those kind of people, while I'm sure they do exist online, are not around every corner on the internet like everyone seems to think. Yes, anonymity can make people act in ways they wouldn't if their identity was attached, but that isn't always a bad thing. Half of these people I probably never would have talked to if I met them in person rather than online, and that's a lot of friendships I'd be without because I'm quite shy in person but much less so online.

The internet, really, is just like the real world. The people you meet online are real people, with real emotions, real lives. You can completely ignore them, or talk to them for a little bit then move on without a second thought, or you can form lasting bonds. And without physical bodies in the way, you can become friends with people you never would have otherwise, people from around the world who could be your best friends, and form those friendships based on something more than "Oh hey, you live close to where I live. Let's be friends!"