a_bit_of_wit_2: (O hai)
Today marks 13 years since April and I began our lives together. Some days, it feels like I've been with her for several lifetimes and several regenerations. Others, feels like yesterday. Being in New Paltz last week where it all began definitely made it feel like the latter.

She grounds me. When the world is falling to shit around me, she is my support. Especially this week, with all the panic and anger at Republicans in the House, who have basically told everyone who is poor and sick to eat shit and die, that they don't deserve affordable medical insurance.

As someone with a chronic autoimmune disease, this feels somewhat like a death sentence. Even though I know that I have a stable job working for the government of New York State with all the benefits that one gets working for the government, living in a state that is predominately blue with a Governor who is throwing shade at President Distended Rectum every chance he gets, and even though this isn't even law yet (and the Senate shows zero desire to take up the dumpster fire that the House passed), it is sending a very powerful message that says that the ruling party of this country wants me dead. Because all it takes is a future Republican governor with a Republican legislature and a poorly-negotiated labor contract, and I'm gonna be paying $10,000 every 2 months for my meds which keep my guts from bursting forth and garroting me.

And what of April? She too needs access to care, but if being a woman is going to be a pre-existing condition...

When Orange Hitler got elected, I made a promise to myself that if any of my loved ones needed me for help to get through this new, surreal period in our lives, I would answer. I wear the symbol of the Rohirrim around my neck as my reminder of this promise. But even I must confess that if this piece of shit goes all the way through and becomes law, then I'm going to find it hard-pressed to stay in a place where I've been essentially told to curl up and die. I can't live in a place where politicians are using my life as a bargaining chip, and I refuse to be condemned to death over an illness I had no say in acquiring by old white guys who will never have to know poverty or go bankrupt over a medical emergency.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

April and I are away from home for the weekend, holed up in the Berkshires as we celebrate a baker's dozen years together. What we're doing I don't know. Might hit up some used bookstores, good eats, and old cemeteries--Massachusetts, hell, New England is excellent for them-- for the photo series I'm in the middle of, called Requiescat (www.bjfrenchphoto.com).

So we'll see what develops.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (wonka 1up)
Since the election, I've felt like I've gone through the various stages of grief repeatedly. It's very easy to fall into despair when the rest of your world has been flipped on its head.

I'm still struggling on occasion to come to grips with the fact that my faith in humanity is pretty much shattered, when the hatred of society towards anyone not white, heterosexual, cisgendered, and Christian is on full display for all to see.

Being social or putting myself into creative modes by making new photography or podcasts have helped to alleviate the pain, but leave it to my wife as ever to snap me out of such a funk, a trait she's excelled at for nearly 13 years. I feel now that while the world still sucks, and there's still a daily deluge of diarrhea in the news, it does not cause me to sink quite so much into despair. There's not so much a resignation or giving up, but more like acceptance--not of the terrible that's going on and the harm being done, but accepting that while there is nothing I can do as to the clusterfuck in Washington, there is still good that can be done in spite of it. There are still loved ones I can offer anything they need to. I need to take care of me and mine.

With that cloud lifted for now, I only managed to enjoy a short while of clarity when reality hit me in the face while doing taxes--for the first time in years, I can no longer claim the fact that I was in college, so all those years of getting a nice refund from the IRS were over. April and I got hit with a hefty bill, a bill that we can pay, but there was a benefit to this cold slap of reality. It forced us to take a good, long, hard look at our finances, and we realized that we waste a ton of money each month paying for conveniences and laziness and buying stuff that we don't particularly need. So much so that if we pretended that we were poor and living on a shoestring budget, we could tackle the giant Debt Kraken that is the biggest obstacle towards our starting a family.

I am not bringing a child into this world saddled with over $100K of debt (most of that in the form of my student loans and credit card debt), no fucking way. With the realization that we can make serious headway over the next couple of years and wipe out a big chunk of this to a point where we'd feel comfortable trying for a family and not go broke, that's what we plan to do.

In other news, PAX East 2017 is coming up this weekend, so I and my brother-in-law will be in Boston, MA for the 3-day convention. It'll be my 6th, and it's the only con I go to, so I don't mind the expense. Three full days of video gaming, tabletop gaming, panels, and concerts. I am so excited to see what this year's Indie Megabooth has in store.

After that, I have an art show opening on St. Patrick's Day in downtown Albany: the 39th annual Photography Regional, which rotates between several galleries in the Capital District. This year, it's the Albany Center Gallery's turn to host the event. One of the three pieces I've submitted to this year's show was selected for display, and that always makes me happy. Also that weekend, we get a visit from Rosemary. She's a lovely person, and seeing her and April together makes me such joy. The final weekend of March so far will have me getting back to running a D&D campaign with one group of friends. Been looking forward to it--we took a break for the holidays, and we're picking it up again after a 4-month hiatus.

Thinking about the week ahead. It'll be a short week because PAX, but I'm not looking forward to Tuesday...my first test as a new supervisor is to reprimand the person whom I supervise regarding his habitual lateness and leaving early. Apparently this has been a problem for some years, his arriving to work 15 minutes late every day and leaving 15 minutes early. His previous supervisor (who has since retired) was always of the opinion that since he's worked for the State for over 30 years, and is close to retirement, that there was no point in calling him out on his lateness and leaving early because he already has one foot out the door, as it were. Now that supervisor is gone and upper management wants this to be fixed pronto...they're throwing me at him, who has never officially been in a position of authority, to formally reprimand this person who's at least 25-30 years my senior. We'll see how it goes.

So that's where I'm at for now. Immersed in the world of Hyrule for the new Switch I picked up, immersed in my art, and in a few, immersed in sleep.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (O hai)
I did, yeah. In 2015.

I began my LiveJournal, A Bit of Wit, back on 9/11/2003, when I was 17 and just a couple weeks into my very first semester at college. When LJ was THE SHIT. And EVERYONE HAD ONE. And used them daily like a physical journal. There was no Facebook or Twitter, where we could broadcast our thoughts at any moment.

I actively used it for the better part of a decade, and as I grew older, I used it less and less, and so did everyone else. Finally, when I graduated college in May 2015, I wrote up a final entry and decided that it was only fitting to close out that journal, the last relic of my college life.

Now here I am in my 30s, and I feel once again the need to keep an account of life. I think things are going to get a lot rougher both globally and personally, with the election of a certain Orange Hitler and the specter of it potentially leading to harm amongst those I love.

I've always found it best when the weight of my world, the weight of my emotions cause me to buckle, to get my thoughts out as quickly as possible, no matter how irrational, lest I break down in heaving sobs somewhere where I don't wish to, like at my job.

So, A Bit of Wit has been revived, moved from LJ to Dreamwidth. Don't know how frequently I'll post here, but I have an outlet again here rather than to bare my soul in long prose on Facebook and Tumblr where algorithms likely mean many don't even see it or it quickly gets eaten up by everyone else's posts and status updates and reblogs--I might as well piss into the wind.

In short, O HAI ERRYONE
a_bit_of_wit_2: (For the win!)

11 years, 8 months, 22 days.


It began August 25, 2003, but my first real memory of college took place shortly before that. A group of us standing outside a busy Student Union Building on the SUNY New Paltz campus, long past dark. Throwing a Frisbee around. People coming in and out of the circle. Some of those people would be just brief acquaintances. Some would become long-lasting friends, especially a tall kid with short hair and a penchant for black clothing, and another kid, this one shorter than I, but mentored me in the fine arts of Dance Dance Revolution. Or another, who was my partner in gaming, and couldn't pass up a chance to see me get drunk. Or another still, who insisted the quacks were ducking. And yet another, a shy girl whom I met while working at McD's, with a love of writing, whom I met because I thought her Notebook of Total Randomness was, in all honesty, where employees wrote their requests for time off. I didn't know it yet, but I'd gain my dearest friend there.


Jump to August 2004. Now I'm at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, having been forced to find a college in MA after my parents decided to move to Cape Cod, and thus, making my staying at New Paltz unaffordable. It was my worst semester: academically, emotionally, financially. My R.A., a guy with an almost unhealthy obsession with anime and video games, did his best to try to help me through not only personal struggles, but also roommate struggles. Our friendship was cemented the day my roommate left college for good, and he blared “Happy Happy Joy Joy” for all the world to hear. He couldn't officially show it, but he despised my roommate as well. It was also the day I had to leave college, my financial luck had run out. And there my stepdad was, who looked at me and said the words that felt like a dagger: I told you so. I was resolute: I'd return to college and finish, almost out of pure spite.


My fondest memory of my very brief stay there, though, was coming back from working evening shift at the McD's nearby. The Red Sox were in the playoffs. Game 5 of the ALCS. The Sox had fought off elimination in dramatic fashion the night before, and I was racing home on my bike to catch the end of this game on TV (we had a radio set up in the McD kitchen). As I was biking up the hill back to Berkshire Towers, I heard the entire campus roar. Never in my life had I heard such an area united as one. And when the Sox completed such a historic comeback and swept that year's World Series...I told my dearest friend, now my girlfriend, that I had to get off the phone to go riot. For a night, I didn't have to think about money, school, or what was lurking back home.


For the next 5 years, I was determined to go back to college, but in the meantime, I moved out of my parents' house, finally free. My girlfriend graduated from college. It was on that joyous day that I felt the first pains of Crohn's disease. The Universe, for some reason, loves using me as a punching bag. When I was diagnosed, I gave her a choice: she didn't have to share my burden. She was 21, I was 20. She had her entire life ahead of her. I was diagnosed with a disease that I'd have for the rest of my life. I would've been sad, but completely understood if she decided to walk.


You know how she decided.


And so we began to build a life together, her and I. I won't go into the details, since if any of you have followed me on LiveJournal (ah, those halcyon days where we actually had to write blurbs like this instead of the real-time social media frenzy we've now...) and eventually Facebook, you know how life's gone.


In 2008, it finally reached the point where I was old enough where the federal government would consider me financially independent. Fucking FAFSA. It also reached the point where my girlfriend—now my fiancee—and I were in a position where I could give it another go at college. My first day back in a college classroom was January 20, 2009: the day Barack Obama was inaugurated as President. Finally, I'd picked up where I left off, but with a change of major. I initially wanted to be an English/Creative Writing major. Along the way, though, I found much more enjoyment in photography. Something about 35mm film and developing it fascinated me. But I'd only taken my general education requirements while in New Paltz and MCLA, so I basically could go wherever. So, a Fine Arts major it was. I was doing part-time school and holding down a full-time job at the Lottery, which meant really long days, but I was able to handle it.


Until the fall of 2010. All that stress accelerated the progression of Crohn's, leading to minor surgery, and I was forced to take what amounted to a 2-year medical leave. I tried going back for a couple of semesters, but I could no longer work full-time and go to school part-time. It was during this time that I seriously considered the idea of giving up. Now it wasn't just financial reasons keeping me from college, but now my own body was rebelling against me. I had to finish, though: I didn't want to have racked up all that debt with nothing to show for it, I wanted to prove to my stepdad that he was the idiot and moron who refused to give me a second thought regarding education, and I enjoyed academia. My fiancee—now my wife—and I came to the conclusion that I'd have to just go for it: leave my job and go to school full-time. We were in a lucky enough financial position to pull it off, even though it'd be tight. There was one stipulation that we agreed upon: if I had to withdraw again, then that'd be it. We'd both put our lives on hold for my education long enough, and I understood that.


I went back to Sage in the fall of 2012. All the while, my disease was worsening. My immune system developed antibodies to a drug that had been working beautifully for a year and a half. Other powerful medications were getting shrugged off like they were nothing. I'd been putting off surgery because a) we hadn't exhausted all my medical options yet, and b) I was worried that this could finally derail me from ever getting a Bachelor's. At the end of the fall 2014 semester, I could put it off no longer. I just hoped that the winter break would be enough time to recover at least enough to go back for the final semester.


I haven't felt this good in years.


And now it comes to a close. This is a chapter in my life that has gone on for far, far too long. At the same time, though, it was during this chapter that I grew into my own. And I have all of you to thank. All your advice, all your company, all your encouragement, all the times you let me rant, all of it, even from considerable distances away. Thank you, all.


And to my April, my love, my dearest friend...you are the absolute embodiment of Samwise Gamgee. You have carried me so many times, through so many ups and downs, joys and sorrows. It is you whom I offer my deepest gratitude, my deepest love. There may be nothing I can do to ever fully repay the work you've done to keep our house in order, keep yourself in order, and keep me in order. Words cannot express how overjoyed I am that you can share in probably one of the greatest achievements I've ever accomplished. I owe you so many puppies.



I started this LiveJournal on September 11, 2003, nearly 3 weeks after I started college. I feel it only fitting to make this the last entry in it. In the last few years, it's fallen into disuse, and I think it time to close it. It has seen and recorded some of my best moments as well as some of my worsts, and for a while, was an important way for me to keep people in the loop. Now, with social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, it is no longer needed. I'll still keep it to check up on the few friends who still use it, but this piece of Internet has served its purpose, and will not see any more entries from me. It's been one hell of a ride.



On to the next chapter.

a_bit_of_wit_2: (what is this i don't even)
It's been a whirlwind of the semester, and I'm just about reaching the point mentally where I'm ready for this thing to be over. One and a half weeks of classes remain, and then I can relax. For a while, anyway.

But it's also been a whirlwind of doctors as well. Between far too many trips to my gastro, a weekend hospital stay, two CT scans and a series of X-rays as well, I can say for certain that I've been experiencing a flare-up for a while now. At least for a month.

My Crohn's seems to be very pesky. On the one hand, there are no blockages in the intestine, no obstructions, no narrowing, no fistulae, no stomach ulcers. This is all good. It means I haven't needed immediate surgery. On the other hand, despite it being only active and chronic inflammation, my current slew of meds doesn't seem to be successful in calming it down.

With all these recent tests confirming that it's just inflammation that just keeps on being a dick, my gastro is going to do a special blood test on Wednesday. The timing of this test is important--it can only be done right before I get my next IV infusion of the immunosuppresant I'm on, Remicade.

This blood test is going to check for two things: one, the amount of Remicade in my system; two, if my body is developing antibodies to the Remicade.

The results of this test will yield one of these possible outcomes:

1) Best possible: I don't have enough Remicade in my system and I am not building up a tolerance for it. It means that I simply have to get this medication more often--as it stands, I currently get an infusion of it every 6 weeks.

2) OK possible: I'm developing a tolerance to the Remicade, which means that I need to switch to a new type of immunosuppresant. There are a few others that are used to treat Crohn's, like Humira or Cimzia.

3) Worst possible: I have enough Remicade in my system, no antibodies, but the drug is having no effect. In this case, because the strongest Crohn's meds out there are having no effect, surgery is extremely likely. They would remove the Crohn's-infected intestine, sew the healthy ends back together, and I'd essentially be starting with a clean slate, as if I had no Crohn's. It's not a cure--I would go right back onto the Remicade to prevent (or delay as long as possible) Crohn's disease from returning.

For the moment, however, the guts are quiet. Prednisone is a wonderful thing, but it's not meant for long-term use. Obviously, I don't want surgery--not only do I have things to look forward to this semester break, but I also have a spring semester as well. I don't want to lose a 5th semester to Crohn's disease, especially since I'll officially be a senior. I can finally start to see the fucking finish line.

Also, worrying about myself only makes things worse. Stress isn't good for me, my guts, or my April. So I plan on enjoying this Thanksgiving and finishing out this semester strong--as it stands, I'm heading for straight A's, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna stumble here. I'll deal with the results of the blood test when I get there.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy it, be safe, and for fuck's sake, don't go out on Black Friday. I don't wanna see you dead. :)
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Downloadable Content)
It's coming down to the wire. Getting near the end of the 3rd season of Downloadable Content! I need to record 4 more episodes take us through to mid-December. So, as always, here are the topics. Anyone want in on any/all of them, let me know!

Saturday, October 12, 2 PM ET: LGBT in Video Games—discussion of LGBT representation in games, how they're represented in the gaming community, and how the gaming industry can be more progressive.

Saturday, October 12, 7 PM ET: Holiday Lineup—self-explanatory.We've got a couple of new consoles, new games, so, yeah.

Sunday, October 13: 2 PM ET: We received a fan suggestion for an episode! TOPIC via fan request: an episode 5 to the Final Fantasy anniversary mini-series, recapping all the FF offshoots/spinoffs. I'd like a guest host who knows about them, along with a knowledgeable panel, because I know jack shit about the offshoots. I will record this episode if there is sufficient interest in it.

Sunday, October 13, 7 PM ET: Season Finale—year in review. Recap the year in video games, along with some additional discussion regarding anything we'd like to expand upon from any of this year's DLC episodes, plus a little sneak peek into some ideas for next year.

***

BACKUP EPISODE in case the fan request to do a Final Fantasy offshoots episode doesn't generate enough interest—gaming's greatest villains. This would be done in the same time slot.

***

The two Sunday episodes MIGHT be moved to Monday, October 14 (Columbus Day) if it turns out I have to report to campus for my work-study duties. Will keep you posted.

Anyone want in, let me know!
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Blow me.)
...consider making failure your goal. At least, that's how my stepfather thinks. I've always rejected that notion, because it sounds utterly defeatist. Rather than attempt something again in a hope for a better outcome, just give up, and by giving up, you will have succeeded. This, among many things, is a reason why I don't visit my family that often.

One thing you've heard me say pretty regularly on here is that family sucks. I still hold that to be true (certainly, at least, with regard to mine), and that I really don't want keep contact with them. My dad more or less washed his hands of me when he divorced my mom, my stepdad washed his hands of me as soon as I hit puberty, it seems, and my mom still treats me like I'm a child. I feel like washing my hands of them. Especially my stepdad.

Today the Universe decided it necessary to give me a few punches to the face. It began with my mother demanding my earthly presence on Skype, something she's been doing a lot more since I told her she could start text messaging me without driving up my cell phone expenses. In hindsight, that might've been a mistake. It's been 8 years since I moved out of my parents' house, but my mother misses me incredibly. Yet, in those 8 years, she's only come to see me twice: once because my family was passing through the area, and the other was for my wedding. She frequently demands my attention. But that wasn't the issue today. It was what she brought up that during that Skype chat that made me upset, although I didn't actively show it.

She's planning on throwing a surprise housewarming party for my younger sister when she finds a place of her own, complete with friends, family, and gifts to furnish that future home with. Now, my sister is the last of the 4 kids (I'm including myself and my 2 stepsiblings in this, since we all grew up in the same house) still left. And I've wanted my sister to get the hell out of that house for years, and finally away from the constantly depressed, angry, and bitter man known as my stepdad. But the whole thing reeks of complete unfairness. What did my stepbrother get when he moved out? My stepsister? Me? The same thing--withering scorn from my stepdad. Hell, in the 3 weeks leading up to the day I left, he didn't utter a single word to me. The three of us got nothing. No party. No housewarming gifts. Not even used kitchen stuff. And now my mom's talking about how my grandmother might get my sister a couch, and how my mom might buy my sister a new bed, and I'm just thinking, "what the fuck? Where was all this joy and party planning when the three previous kids moved out?"

At any rate, chances are that I'll be in school for that party, and won't be able to go. And really, I don't want to go. I'll get something for my sis, certainly, but I don't want to be present. It'll hurt. I'm not mad at my mom, per se, but just the idea of this. And how do I tell her that what I think she's doing is unfair? Because my mom's deaf, she's blissfully unaware of quite a few things. I never could come to her with my problems growing up because she can't relate. She wouldn't understand. She's never been able to give me any sort of advice or wisdom because she doesn't have the capacity for it.

In any event, I'll be very glad when Heather leaves that house and away from the toxic influence of my stepdad.

Shortly after, I found out, finally, that Sage denied my appeal for financial aid. Despite my great academic record, and the fact that I had to withdraw for 2 years to recover from Crohn's disease complications and surgery, they wouldn't cut me any slack. At all. They base their entire financial aid packages on FAFSA data, and because FAFSA says I can pay more out of pocket (because I had a job LAST YEAR), Sage said the same thing. In layman's terms, they told me tough shit. Their reply, in full:

"Brian, thank you for submitting an appeal for additional financial aid. The appeals committee has met and discussed your request for additional funding. Your financial aid package was created and meets our packaging methodology in accordance with federal and state regulations. Unfortunately we are unable to offer further institutional assistance. The reduction of your sage grant was due to the increase in your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from 2012-13 to 2013-14. It sounds like from your email you are no longer earning the same amount this year as you may have earned last year, because you chose to leave your job to attend college full time. We do not make adjustments to FAFSA income information if someone loses income due to a choice they made. You should note, if you are no longer earning the same amount in 2013 as you did in 2012, your 2014-15 EFC will reflect that next year, which could again lower your EFC and possibly give you a larger sage grant. We can't say for certain that will happen until next year when you file your FAFSA and tax returns. If you need further assistance with funding options for your balance, you can contact the student services office at 518-292-1925."

So, despite the fact that I LEFT MY JOB solely to finish getting my degree, there's nothing they can do. Tough shit. I partially expected this, which is why April and I made contingency plans for a rejection, but I feel hurt. When I started there, I could work out payment arrangements and get things settled with financial aid staff who actually had human feeling. The longer I'm there, and the closer I get toward that degree, the more bureaucratic and stuffy they're becoming. In addition, Sage is becoming more recognized and is growing up in the world. Now those kind staff have been replaced by Vogons, who do everything by the fucking book and won't cut you a single fucking ounce of slack. The same thing happened at SUNY New Paltz and MCLA. If you're not made of money, or you're not below the poverty line, college isn't for you because you're not going to get financial aid, or if you do, you're still going to end up covering 60-75% of the bill out of your own pocket. If I didn't REALLY like the professors at Sage, I'd leave. But I'm almost a senior. To end now would be foolish.

When I graduate, I just want to leave and go far away. I used to want to be close enough to my family to visit, but I'm tired of making the effort. My stepdad's come right out and told me that he won't come visit. He's tired of driving and now it's my turn. Fuck that. If my family doesn't even have the motivation to make a 4 hour drive to spend some time with me, then there's no point. Might as well go far away. Really, the only people I miss are my friends. But hey, if my family essentially washed their hands of me when I moved out, might as well return the favor. I've my own life to live, and I'm done living in their shadow.

The moral of this story? Fuck my family and fuck Sage.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Downloadable Content)
My semester is rapidly approaching, and as such, I want to stockpile some episodes of DLC so I can not worry about them during the semester. So, without further ado, here's the next slate of when and what topics I want to chat about (as always, subject to change depending on panel availability, real life, and other unforeseen events):

Sunday, August 11, 2 PM ET: Free play. Open discussion. Talk about ANYTHING related to video games, including stuff we talked about on past episodes. Anything you like. I open the floor to you.

Sunday, August 11, 7 PM ET: Fighting games! It's a genre that doesn't get much press or attention anymore, but they still have devoted fan bases. We devote the episode to talking about our favorite fighting games.

And because after that, my weekends are taken, I'm going to record episodes on weeknights in my last week of summer break. All episodes below we will begin recording at 7 PM ET unless otherwise stated (can be shifted to 7:30 or 8, I'm willing to be a little flexible):

Monday, August 19: Free play #2. Open discussion. Talk about ANYTHING related to video games, including stuff we talked about on past episodes. Anything you like. I open the floor to you.

Tuesday, August 20: PC games vs. console. Which is better? What are their pros and cons? What are some great games out there for PC? Note: as I am quite unfamiliar with PC games, I won't mind if we have a panel of PC & console gamers along with a guest host who knows their stuff. For me, I'd like to be enlightened about PC games.

Wednesday, August 21: 25th Anniversary (US Release) of Phantasy Star. This was Sega's flagship RPG series, an answer to the immensely popular Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy franchises. We chat about this popular series.

Thursday, August 22: Gaming as a spectator sport. We all have enjoyed getting together and watch people play video games. With social media and the Internet, spearheaded by Twitch, people from all over the globe can watch live streaming coverage of gaming events. What's driving this popularity?

Friday, August 23: Free play #3. Open discussion. Talk about ANYTHING related to video games, including stuff we talked about on past episodes. Anything you like. I open the floor to you.

Any of you want to get in on these recordings (even multiple ones), let me know. If anyone also wants to be a guest host on the PC gaming ep, also let me know! Look forward to it!
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Blow me.)
Anxiety. Stress. Worried about money. The same sort of internal panic I felt during my college stints at New Paltz and MCLA seems to have returned.

I've mentioned many times that I believe, for some bizarre reason, that the Universe doesn't want me to get a college education. I don't know what I did to piss the Universe off, but for these past 10 years, it has repeatedly thrown obstacle after obstacle at me, all in the attempts to stop me from getting a Bachelor's degree. First it was cost. Then Crohn's disease. Now we're back to cost.

Trying to obtain a college degree entirely by yourself, without any backing or financial help from your family is an exercise in endurance, frustration, futility, and exasperation. The entire system in the US for obtaining financial aid is entirely dependent on obtaining help from your parents. And even then, the ridiculous conclusions that the US Department of Education comes to after you've done the charade known as the FAFSA is enough to put anyone off the idea of college. I'll never forget when I was initially seeking aid to go to New Paltz right out of high school, and the FAFSA determined that my stepdad, who made around 50,000 a year and had to support 6 people, could afford to pony up $7000 out of a $10000 bill for my freshman year. I have no idea what sort of eldritch, archaic, and out-dated formulas the US Dept. of Ed. uses to determine just how much a family can pony up for school, but I do know this--they're almost entirely wrong. They take nothing into account like, oh, say, LIVING EXPENSES. You know, the cost of shelter, food, basic utilities, etc. Hell, just this year when I filed that fucking useless form, they determined that out of the combined income of April and I ($71000 BEFORE taxes), we could afford to pony up $18,000 out of a $30,000/year school. Sure, we can do that--if we forgo things like FOOD, or BASIC NECESSITIES.

Last year, I was able to afford going to Sage. They offered a generous financial aid package, but despite it all, I still owed $6000 out of pocket. I took out a private loan to cover it. This year, I'm now facing a yearly bill of $12000. And when I went back and forth with financial aid about it, they pointed out that the reason why my aid was so generous was due to an error I made on last year's FAFSA. It was an honest mistake, although in hindsight, I find it hilarious that neither Sage or the federal government didn't catch it. So because I fixed the error this year, it meant I lost $8000 in college grant money. The moral of the story is clear, friends: when you fill out the FAFSA, lie. It might be the only way you get something resembling close to some actual financial aid.

I have since gone over everybody's head and have made a direct appeal for more aid with the head of the financial aid office. In light of the fact that I got unintentional extra aid last year due to my error on last year's FAFSA, I am preparing to get an unsuccessful appeal, which will mean additional private bank loan money.

At this point, I only have 3 (or 4, depending on what classes are offered and when) semesters left before I am finished. While I am hopeful that my appeal works, I am going to err on the side of caution and prepare some contingencies if it falls flat.

If I wasn't halfway through my junior year, if I was still a sophomore, I'd probably call it quits at this point--to come 10 years only to keep getting the proverbial door repeatedly slammed in my face? Yeah, Universe, you win. But now I can start to see the finish line. Not to mention of how much I've improved and developed my own skill as a photographer. I've done a lot of good here. My academic record is great. I don't want to end it for good. Not when I am healthy, Crohn's is in check, and have the ability to finish school.

I still want to get that degree and finish out college for several reasons: primarily to grow, learn, and improve my own skills as an artist. Be among people that can guide me along, and ultimately develop how I want my photography to go in my eventual career. Other, secondary reasons: I've already incurred tens of thousands of dollars of debt. I'd rather have all that debt with a diploma to show for it, then to have all that debt with nothing to show for it. Also? My stepdad. When I began this journey, my stepdad looked me dead in the eye and said I was stupid to go to college. Said it was nothing more than a huge waste of time and money. He preferred I stay home, work, and help support the family on my income. This, coming from a man who dropped out of high school, even. So, I've gone it alone. All loans for college are in my name. I've not been given a single cent from my immediate family. I never felt so much like a failure (to myself) then when I had to leave Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts after one semester because of cost, and all my options for obtaining any extra money fell flat (being that I was 18, had no credit history, my parents had/still have HORRIBLE credit, and refused to even co-sign a loan). On the drive back home to Cape Cod, he looked at me and said, "I told you so." That memory still burns inside me, and I want to spit it right back in his face when I finish school.

My sister got her Associate's degree all on her own, also receiving the same sort of treatment from him.

I'd be lying if I didn't say, though, that I am getting weary of this. My wife is getting weary of this. If I wasn't almost a senior, I'd probably be calling it quits. It should not be this difficult to get a college education. We have such a double standard in this country: if you don't get a degree, you're seen as worthless. Lazy. Won't amount to anything. Hell, there were so many jobs I could've had working for the State because I had the necessary experience, but wasn't even considered for because I didn't have a degree. In anything. We put so much emphasis on the importance of getting that degree, then make it impossible to obtain without either being a) very wealthy, or b) going into crippling debt that will take decades to pay off. It's enough to make anyone jaded. Why would ANYONE in their right mind choose to go to college, knowing all of this? See the double standard above. Yet, now, with the economy a piece of shit, many college graduates are having such difficulty in finding work.

I can say this...once I've obtained my Bachelor's, I'm done. I have no thoughts about even TRYING for a Masters in fine arts or photography. Fucking forget it. By the time I graduate, this crater- and sinkhole-filled journey will have taken 12 years. I'll be almost 30. NO WAY am I pursuing a Masters.

So if anyone's willing to front me $12,000 so I can just get through THIS year, I'll be forever in your debt. In the meantime, I'll contemplate moving to Sweden or Finland, where not everyone's out to make a fucking profit.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Default)
It's that time again...since our friend and roommate moved out a couple of months ago, April and I have only just now gotten down to the business of re-organizing and re-shuffling everything around in the apartment. And realized that we STILL have too much stuff, despite the previous eBay dumps. Buy this stuff, get it off our hands, and give us money. Whatever doesn't get sold will most likely go to Salvation Army and/or Goodwill. In all seriousness, I could do with some additional funds as the school year approaches. Art supplies are expensive, and I'd like to try to ease the pressure on April's wallet as best I can. With that said, good luck! And if you have any questions, PLEASE ask.

Note: more stuff will be added, this is just what's on eBay right now that's ready to ship.

Star Wars Marble & Base #20: Grand Moff Tarkin (NEW)

Ultra-Pro Clear Card Sleeves 100-Pack (NEW) Note: I have 4 packs of these, you can buy the lot or purchase a single pack.

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning (Paperback, USED)

A Series of Unfortunate Events #2: The Reptile Room (Paperback, USED)

A Series of Unfortunate Events #3: The Wide Window (Paperback, USED)

River Song's Journal (Doctor Who, NEW)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Paperback, USED)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Highlights Edition CD of the movie, USED)

Trigun Vol. 1: Deep Space Planet Future Gun Action (Paperback manga, USED)

Musician's Notebook: Manuscript Paper for Composition (Never used)

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Paperback, USED)

The Shadow: Two Complete Novels (Paperback, USED)

Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean (Paperback, USED)

The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics (Paperback, USED)

Flying Spaghetti Monster Car Emblem (Never used)

Darwin Fish Car Emblem (Never used)

Sony CD Walkman D-EJ100 (Blue, USED)

20000 Leagues Under the Sea (Audiobook, abridged)
a_bit_of_wit_2: (morons)
(also posted to tumblr, feel free to comment wherever)

"When do we get to stop reacting to our parents and start living for ourselves?" --Tali'Zorah vas Normandy

Sometimes the subconscious can be a cold, unforgiving mistress. It can keep things buried in there for long periods of time, and cause you to feel emotions that the conscious mind can't wrap around. When I feel whatever set of emotions, I want to know why. And sometimes, those realizations can be painful.

I've always struggled emotionally on the matter of my immediate family. Both of my biological parents are deaf, divorced, and remarried. My father is largely out of my life, having moved on when I was 6 or so, my sister just getting into being a toddler. The man who became my stepfather when I was 8 became the father figure in my life, and remains so today. While I don't call him "dad" (the thought of his stepchildren calling him so makes him very uncomfortable), he has been my father.

Growing up with him, however, presented its own set of challenges. Largely because of my stepdad's horrible childhood, he was big into the idea of negative reinforcement. He never raised a hand to any of his kids--his own and his inherited ones--but for many years, he was miserable. He longs to have and maintain a very close, tight-knit family. He wants to be needed. Although, in hindsight, how he went about it, one would think of him the total opposite.

I know that all parents get separation anxiety when their kids grow old enough to have thoughts of their own, move out, and become independent. I'm aware of it. Perfectly understandable. But I don't think my stepdad ever got over it. When his kids (my older stepsiblings) got to puberty first and started having ideas of their own, he got angry. And stayed there. The thought of them no longer needing him made him incredibly depressed. Then I got the constant wrath when I reached that point. Then my sister. Is it any surprise that after being subjected to years of his misery that all his kids wanted to get the fuck out at their first available opportunity? Bless my deaf mom, who didn't hear many an insult, a bigoted remark, or just general annoying things he hurled at his kids.

I moved out when I was 19, and to this day, remains probably one of the best decisions of my life. That realization then that I couldn't rely on my family for anything stung. A lot. I think since then my relationship with my stepdad has improved, and finally, after many years, he's begun seeing a therapist. His own mental state finally shows improvement. One thing I need to make abundantly clear: I do love the man, and respect him. For all of his faults, he imparted a lot of good things to me. I'm trying to keep hold of those. And really, all I want for him as he grows older is just to be happy.

My mom...well, she's a different creature together. Being the first-born, and only, son of a Jewish mother is a blessing and a curse. And extremely sensitive. She's about THIS close to be considered a hovering parent, even though her boy has long since moved out, married, and is now going full-throttle to complete a decade-long journey into getting his damn Bachelor's degree. A wonderful person, she is fully supportive of everything I do...at least, emotionally. But her constant need to be in touch with me really gets under my skin. Yes, I know, she's my mother, and all that, but I don't feel the need to talk to her constantly. If I go a few weeks without calling her, she goes into floods of tears. For fuck's sake. She knows damn well that during the school year, I am extremely busy, but it's not getting through. And then we go through the same damn routine of "you don't care about me," Jew-guilt, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. She is so craving constant contact that I really don't want to deal with it. I'm the Golden Child in her eyes, it seems. It's also the same reason why I don't tell her about my occasional flare-ups from Crohn's disease--because the first reaction, and always has been, panic. Hell, all I had to do was tell her that I'm going to the hospital for some tests, and all she sees is the word "HOSPITAL" and goes into a panic, obsessively worrying about her baby. And then I get flack from my parents why I don't tell her these things.

My dad...well, as mentioned, he and my mom divorced when I was very young, and he's been largely out of my life. He does keep in contact, though...I guess, as the guy who shot out the spermload that ultimately made me, he does feel some sense of responsibility. I feel sort of weird about him, though...he did none of the raising of his kids, none of the hard work. And his wife (my stepmom) is trying to weasel into my life, and I don't want any of it. I've met her all of once.

What this long diatribe has come down to is this: recently, I've been feeling a torrent of negative emotions whenever I think of my family. Anger. Bitterness. Resentment. Sadness. Tears. I just want them to leave me the fuck alone. And I'm trying to figure out why, because I normally just think of my family as the occasional nuisance, but didn't mind keeping in touch all that much.

My wife, April, has always been good at picking my brain apart and making clear what I can't see. Always good to have a second set of eyes when trying to find something. I've been slowly coming to the realization that some of this stems from pure jealousy. I've been with April's family for the past 9+ years. And I think I'm now just coming to realize just by being in that group, that April has, and always had, something I never did--a cohesive family. She's never had to experience divorce (and all the horrible things that entails), step-siblings, years of constantly-depressed parents, deaf relatives, having to grow up quickly, and so on. Her family has her back, and she can depend on them for things.

April suggested a possible valid theory that I hadn't thought of: lately, I have been thinking about fatherhood. I am 27, after all: spawn will eventually enter the fray. And in the back of my head, I'm going through all the things that I should NOT do, given what I had to deal with. I am worried that I will become him when I do become a father, and if that happens, I'd like April to shoot me. I don't want to force my eventual kids out of the house because I devolve into Martin the Paranoid Android.

But what else dragged all these feelings to the surface? I can only think of one other possibility: recently, I've begun planning a series of photographs I want to take chronicling my childhood, which involve heading downstate and spending a lot of time in Rockland County. The last week or two, I've been recalling memories and places I've been, places and things I want to capture before they disappear forever, from when I could first remember to now. What I didn't expect was that recalling my childhood brought up connotations I have with them; some positive, some negative. What became a mental list of just simply things I wanted to photograph became a time tunnel, and it dug up things I buried, some good, some bad. As a result, it's made me want to do this series even more.

I will be visiting my parents in a few weeks...all I can hope for is that these feelings dissipate. Last night was a good starting point: I called my stepdad for Father's Day, and to my shock, he was in excellent spirits. It brightened my day, because I was in a funk thinking about all this. So I am hopeful.

I've already come to the conclusion that I'm simply going to have to placate my mom and call her more, if only to shut her up. I hate feeling obligated to keep in touch (I'm historically HORRIBLE at correspondence), but April's right--it's a small price to pay to keep the peace. For all my direct attempts at telling my mom not to be so damn sensitive and worrying constantly, all she does is pull rank. She doesn't get it.

Well, now that I've dumped all this out of my head, I do feel lighter and a bit better. However, I still search for the answer to Tali's question. It might be better contemplated on a full stomach, though.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Downloadable Content)
Revising the schedule of the next set of DLC recordings. If you are interested in recording any of them, let me know! New schedule is as follows:

Saturday, June 22, 1 PM ET: E3 2013. Pretty much self-explanatory. We break down the E3 news.

Saturday, June 22, 5 PM ET: Fan influences on game creation. Just how much should a game developer listen to fans when making its next game? Should a game developer do its own thing, or allow its fans to dictate the course of development?

Sunday, June 23, 1 PM ET: The NES turns 30 this year (to clarify, it came out as the Famicom in Japan in 1983 before getting re-named the NES for the US release in 1985). We wax nostalgia over our childhood console.

Sunday, June 23, 5 PM: Indie games. We devoted an episode to mobile games in a previous year, but we now know more about them, and how they continue to grow exponentially in popularity. We spend the episode giving an in-depth look at what's making indie games the fastest growing segment of the gaming world.

If interested, let me know!
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Downloadable Content)
Now that I've pretty much gotten through the entire semester's worth of episodes we recorded in January, it's time to record some new ones! I've whipped up a tentative schedule of topics and recording days--have a look below, and see if any of them pique your interest. If you'd like to be in on more than 1 episode, that's ok too.

Saturday, May 25, 1 PM ET: PS4 and the new Xbox. Sony has already shown its hand (well, a lot of flashy tech demos, but not the actual console itself) with the PS4, and by this point, Microsoft will have unveiled its new Xbox. We discuss what we know, and some lingering speculation, and give our opinions overall.

Sunday, June 2, 1 PM: The NES turns 30 this year (to clarify, it came out as the Famicom in Japan in 1983 before getting re-named the NES for the US release in 1985). We wax nostalgia over our childhood console.

Sunday, June 2, 5 PM: Indie games. We devoted an episode to mobile games in a previous year, but we now know more about them, and how they continue to grow exponentially in popularity. We spend the episode giving an in-depth look at what's making indie games the fastest growing segment of the gaming world. Fan influences on game creation. Just how much should a game developer listen to fans when making its next game? Should a game developer do its own thing, or allow its fans to dictate the course of development?

Saturday, June 22, 1 PM ET, or Sunday, June 23, same time: E3 2013. Pretty much self-explanatory. We break down the E3 news.

Saturday, June 22, 5 PM ET, or Sunday, June 23, same time: Fan influences on game creation. Just how much should a game developer listen to fans when making its next game? Should a game developer do its own thing, or allow its fans to dictate the course of development?

There you go. If any of you have an interest in recording with me, let me know!
a_bit_of_wit_2: (O hai)
Figure I might as well give you a little missive about the shenanigans (or lack thereof) and goings-on. Hell, it's the first serious LJ post of the year (that isn't eBay, DLC, or game-related), and it's March. Shows you how often I update this, but then again, life as a full-time commuter student isn't as interesting as being a full-time resident student living on campus.

Januarymas came and went, with all the amazement and fun that it entails. Lovely to see as many of my friends, especially some that I haven't seen in years. Shortly after, the semester began, and I haven't had much of a social life since, as is the custom. Took 4 classes this semester instead of 5, since I didn't want to kill myself taking a whole bunch of studio courses at once.

Alternative Process is interesting, getting to play with other methods of photography, many of them historical. Studio Lighting...well...is just that. It's my 3rd attempt at it, I'm not gonna say much until the end of the semester for I may jinx myself. Figure Drawing, attempt #2, not much to say there. Art History 2 picked up where AH1 left off. Although after having spent nearly 7 weeks in the Renaissance, I'm absolutely sick of seeing Jesus and Mary paintings. I know Catholicism was big then, but...how many times am I gonna see the same damn image? Regardless, I have to stick it out. I'm sure there will be many more as I press forward.

It's been busy for me on the photography front as well. I've had my work in two photo exhibitions this semester, both at the Photo Center in Troy, and I'm rather proud of it. Coming up is the Photo Regional, a big exhibition. Gonna see about getting some work in there.

This week was our spring break, and I spent most of it not here. Spent a couple of days in Ithaca with Carolyn, and had a blast. Just got home from spending several more days in the Berkshires with my lovely wife. Shot tons of pictures. Now I have to go through and see which ones I like for dA display.

Back to the grind tomorrow, though--studio shift on campus, and then I forge ahead with the second half of the semester without a day off.

I have one more bit of fun to look forward to, though--the 3 day video game convention known as PAX East in Boston this weekend. After that, all school all the time.

So, yeah. Not much in the way of exciting news, but there it is, in a nutshell.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (this means war)
You know that feeling you get when you've been a fan of something for a long time, be it a TV series, movie series, musician/band, and then after years of devoted following, they go ahead and do something which totally ruins everything? Yeah. There are very few things in this world that I feel a purist about--usually, I'm the first one to make fun of purists when something doesn't meet their often-unrealistic expectations (say, The Lord of the Rings movies and the often-decried salvo by these people about not putting in every single detail Tolkien penned--see Tom Bombadil; or the revived Doctor Who series that has lovers of the classic series fuming for whatever reasons), but I think in a video game series I've followed since their beginnings, I tend to lean toward purist here. Full disclosure--when Resident Evil 4 was released, the sudden shift from survival horror to a more action-oriented game put off a LOT of people. However, I loved it. I felt it to be a natural progression of the series, and the action-oriented play still had enough (for me, anyway) of the classic RE games for me to really enjoy it. Plus, the fact that there was still a lot of plot left to be resolved piqued my interest: now that Raccoon City was blown to hell, where would the series go? There were tons of unanswered questions--Wesker, most importantly. What became of Umbrella?

Then came RE5, and when I played it, I found I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. The continual slide toward action-shooter, more linear gameplay, and shifting away from its survival horror put me off a little, but I overlooked them because I needed to know how it would end. I'll suffer through bad gameplay if the story's good. This game was going to have the final showdown between Chris and Wesker, something as an RE fan, I've waited nearly 15 years to play. And when the game ended, I was satisfied. The story came full circle. It wrapped nearly everything up, with just a few tiny loose ends (like Ada) left. Wesker was gone. As a longtime fan, I was content--if there were no more Resident Evil games, fine. The story concluded.

Then Capcom announced Resident Evil 6, and I was furious. I was mad because I knew that even before the game was released, this game was nothing more than simply milking the series for every drop. I was baffled--wondering where the hell Capcom would pick up, because the series concluded (plot-wise, anyway) in the previous game. Where the hell could they go?

If you haven't already noticed, I'm a huge fan of plot in long-running series like this.

But I bought the game, because curiosity got me. I had already read some reviews, many of them mixed to negative. But because I don't let video game reviews sway my purchases, because often I find myself disagreeing with them (especially a Game Informer review--they were one of the only, if not THE only, positive review. Of course they were. They're GameStop's magazine, OF COURSE they're gonna highly rate the game--they'd highly review a dog shit soufflé if they thought it was going to sell thousands of units). Here's what I thought. NOTE: I played the PS3 version, and I played offline, going for the true single-player experience.

Graphics )

Gameplay )

Plot: warning, possible spoilers )

Music )

Extras & Final Thoughts )
a_bit_of_wit_2: (pay day)
Wave 1 of our post-moving sale was a success, 14 out of the 15 items that went up ended up getting sold on and gone. Let's hope for similar success. April and I continue to get rid of extraneous stuff as we get our possessions back into something more manageable. So again, have a look, buy stuff, and get it out of our home! Up for grabs:

Kingdom Hearts, Volume 1 (Manga)

Kingdom Hearts, Volume 2 (Manga)

Ultratec Uniphone Combination TTY & Phone

Bell Universal 26" Inner Tube (for bicycles)

Imaginiff (Board Game)

Star Wars Trilogy (1997, VHS)

SmartDisk USB External Floppy Disk Drive

Kingdom Hearts Crown Necklace

External USB/Firewire DVD Burner

V For Vendetta Action Figure: V

Epson Perfection 1260 Flatbed Scanner

Trigun Wall Scroll

So go! Buy shit!
a_bit_of_wit_2: (fox news)
A final note...

Well, we survived yet another apocalypse. This makes three Raptures, the Y2K kerfuffle, and now the Mayan insanity. Life goes on. Endeavor to persevere, stiff upper lip, right-o, and all that jazz. Time for the yearly personal reflection. It began and will end the same way, as it has now for nine years, with Ryan and I going head-to-head at the Monopoly board. He's going to attempt his third straight win. It began and will also end with high hopes. By this time last year, April and I had moved into a house in Albany, happy and hopeful that we'd be there for a long time while I finished up school, and begin to plunge ahead in life.

For those who've followed my Facebook and sparse LiveJournal entries, you know the story. 2012 turned out to be anything but. Not long after moving in--in fact, shortly after Januarymas--the house began falling apart, starting with the washing machine that came with the house. That turned into a couple-of-month drawn out affair because our landlord (who, as we found out, was a brand-new landlord, never rented to anyone...and it showed. More on that later) insisted on replacing it with a massive washer that was not going to fit inside a 100-year-old house. Finally, after several failed deliveries, he finally listened to what both Sears and I told him--it's too big. He replaced it with one that fit. Keep in mind--the landlord lives in Connecticut, and the only reason he owns the house is because it was given to him by his in-laws. He hasn't a clue on what's in it. Nor did he brush-up on ANY of the New York laws that landlords must follow. After the washing machine fiasco, we find out that the City of Albany has to inspect the house, something that should have been done before he rented the house out. Before the inspector comes, though, our ceiling in the kitchen begins to leak. As it happens, the tile in the upstairs shower was coming off the wall, allowing water running from the shower to get behind the tile, down the wall, and eventually, through the ceiling, leaking into the kitchen. The landlord gets that repaired. The inspector finally comes, and to no one's surprise (except the landlord's, because he didn't bother to learn all the rules and laws needed to be a landlord), he discovers some code violations. The landlord gets those addressed as well. All the while, April and I are on the hook for minor maintenance repairs, which are beginning to add up. We anticipated some expense, yes, since we were responsible for all utilities (including oil heat--OUCH), but we didn't expect one thing right after the other. This, after being told up and down that the house was in good condition. After a year of this, our landlord decided that because he sunk so much money into the house doing repairs and work he should've done before we moved in, he wants to raise our rent by an additional $300 a month. That was the final straw. We got out of there when the lease ended, and have moved to a nice apartment in Guilderland.

But there were other things going on, house issues aside. In January, I made another attempt at going back to school, having already lost a year to Crohn's and related complications. It would rear its ugly head again right around mid-terms, forcing me to withdraw for the 3rd straight semester. A flare-up that lasted around six weeks had me bed-ridden. My wonderful, patient, and long-suffering wife made it known to me that while she was extremely supportive of me and my efforts to finish getting my Bachelor's, I was going to have to call it quits soon. So, having already planned to return to school full time in the fall, I came to the realization that if I had to withdraw again, that'd be it--I'd have to close the book on ever getting a degree. The Universe has already made it clear that it doesn't want me to get an education. In fact, the only one who honestly has encouraged me to keep going has been April--hell, my own family really doesn't give a rat's ass. My stepfather's already made it plain that he thinks college is an absolute waste of time and money.

Just before I got this flare-up, we picked up a couple of roommates: Heather (not my sister), who was coming off a nasty breakup and needed a place to stay for a short while; and her new boyfriend, Ryan (not my brother-in-law, for clarification. Yeesh. Too many Heathers, Ryans, and Danielles in my life). They didn't stay long--a couple of months. Right around the time they left, Danielle graduated from Wells and moved in with us, at my own urging, knowing all too well what she'd go through if she moved back in with her parents in New Bedford. She's been with us since then. Ryan (brother-in-law) moved in with us when the lease at our previous apartment ended, and moved out in mid-November.

The summer brought some relief--with my flare-up subsided and my body trying to approach some manner of normalcy, I went to the annual Dave Matthews Band concerts in Saratoga with Danielle and Annie. I headed down to Washingtonville to see my grandmother one last time before she moved into the west. She decided that she had enough of New York, and wants to live out the rest of her days in Las Vegas. I also went down to Ramapo for a weekend, solo, and hung out with Carolyn, Sara, Annie and her family. While there, I went to Lake Street, the place where I grew up. Not much has changed since I left there in 2003...a few of the families I remember are still there, but it still remains an area that time forgot. One house in particular is being slowly reclaimed by nature, abandoned for some years now. The Lavender bridge has fallen into disrepair--when Hurricane Irene came around, it did a number on the bridge, and the town of Ramapo haven't bothered to repair it, leaving just the back road, Torne Valley Road, the only way to get to Lake Street.

With finances tight, we only went to the Renaissance Faire once this year--opening weekend. We did manage to go to King Richard's Faire in October as well, but on the whole, our Faire-going was very light this year. Also, I originally wasn't going to head to Tanglewood, but I got lovingly coerced (or as April said, whipped) by Sara into seeing the John Williams 80th Birthday Concert. Apparently, I'm a unit of measurement, a Tanglewood constant. Glad I went, though--great concert, as usual, accompanied by a party consisting of myself, April, Ryan, Sara, Danielle, and Phillip.

At the end of August, I left my job at the Lottery and went back to Sage for my first full-time college semester since 2004, back when I went to the Massachussets College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. I was nervous, and just a drop scared--the past 3 semesters ended in medical withdrawal. Was my body going to crap out again halfway through? While that remained to be seen, I also secured a work-study job as a darkroom lab aide, working 10 hours a week. For the most part, it meant just having 10 hours to myself which to do homework. I'll maintain the position for next semester. Early on, I did suffer a round of food poisoning--knowing full well that it could snowball into a full-scale flare-up, I went to the doctor immediately, and after a couple weeks, my body relaxed again, and I made it through without any problem. On the last day of the semester, when I handed in my Art History final exam, I stood outside the classroom and just let out a long exhale of relief, just thankful that my body held out for 16 weeks. For my efforts, I netted a 3.7 GPA (2 A's, 2 A-'s, 1 B+), and at long last, leveled up. I'm a junior now. Next semester begins in a month, and I've taken on a slightly lighter course load.

Christmas was spent with my family on Cape Cod, and it was a very enjoyable holiday--for all my gifts, though, I think the best gift was seeing my stepdad in a wonderful mood the entire time I was there.

I find myself in the same place a year ago as I am now--in transition. We just moved again, and barring any major catastrophe, we'll be here for a while. I said the same thing last year, but I hope we can finally relax a little. As 2013 approaches, there are a few things I am hopeful for: that I make it through another semester. That my body can keep behaving itself. That April can continue to slowly relax and not worry about keeping me healthy. That Danielle continues transitioning into the real world, finds a full-time job, and gets a place with her loves. Much as I love her, we all know she'll eventually move out and onward. That I can spend more time with my friends. It's sad knowing that most of you are over an hour away. I need to see you all more.

Most of all, I hope 2013 brings you all some peace. Enjoy it as much as you can. Especially this snow. Who knows when we'll see it again.

Keelah se'lai.
a_bit_of_wit_2: (Downloadable Content)
It's coming back! Semester's over, I want to get some episodes of Downloadable Content recorded and posted! Having not done anything in there since the summer, essentially, I'd like to get back to it. I have a slightly smaller course load in the spring, so I'm hoping to have a full year's worth of episodes again, after a paltry 2012. So, between now and my return to school, I'd like to record at least 8 episodes. I am free anytime between now and January 22, but I know many of you are not, what with work and shit. So I'm planning on recording weekday evenings, when most of you are most likely to be home. Here's the list--let me know if you want to be in on any recording! Right now, I'm hoping to record sometime between 6 PM-7 PM ET. This is the schedule I'd like to keep, but it's subject to change, like anything else.

Monday, January 7: Final Fantasy's 25th Anniversary, Part 1: The Final Fantasy series just turned 25 on December 18, so I don't feel bad about doing this late. We will spend the episode waxing nostalgia with the classic series, games 1 thru 6.

Tuesday, January 8: Final Fantasy's 25th Anniversary, Part 2: Continuing on, picking up with FF7 to now. Might hit Tactics.

Wednesday, January 9: End Of Nintendo Power Magazine: after 25 years, the iconic magazine came to an end last month, leaving the USA without a single publication devoted to Nintendo. We discuss it, and what it could mean going forward.

Thursday, January 10: Anticipated Games of 2013: what games are YOU looking forward to this year? Dead Space 3? BioShock Infinite? Another?

Monday, January 14: Women in Video Games: while women (real & fictitious) have made great strides in getting closer to their male counterparts in games and the gaming industry, there's still much to go. We'll discuss the state of women today, and what game developers can do to try to get more equality. For this episode, I'd like to have an all-female panel.

Tuesday, January 15: Fan Influences: just how much should fans influence a game's creation? With social media allowing people to connect to the game developers directly, fans have a much bigger voice in a game's creation, and a game's response. How much should we demand of them?

Wednesday, January 16: State of the 8th Generation: Nintendo has launched the opening salvo of the 8th Generation of consoles with its WiiU. How long will it take for Microsoft and Sony to follow suit? Are we closer to the next consoles than we were at last E3? We'll discuss those developments.

Thursday, January 17: Anniversary episode: an episode discussing a game/franchise that turns 20 this year. Haven't decided which one to choose yet--so far, I know of three that turn 20 in 2013: Gunstar Heroes, Star Fox, and Myst. Your thoughts?

If anyone wants in on any of them, let me know! :)
a_bit_of_wit_2: (pope fry)

It hasn't been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. Actually, it's been a hectic few months. We've moved again, in no small part because our house was trying to kill us, and our landlord decided that he should raise the rent to unaffordable levels because he put in the required-by-law work into the house that he originally did not. In fact, we're still not done with him, nearly 3 weeks after we moved, but that's a completely different story. 

We are settling into the new place slowly; the adjustment from big 4-bedroom house back to 2-bedroom apartment has been a little rough. See, when you have a house, you need to fill it with STUFF! Every room must have STUFF! George Carlin explains it best, methinks:



Before the move, we had culled, by my own estimation, a LOT of stuff. Much of it got donated to Goodwill and Salvation Army--hell, Salvo even got a couch from us because it wouldn't fit in the new place! Although, now, in hindsight, that was for the best. Had we managed to squeeze BOTH the futon and the couch in here...well, let's just say the apartment would like a Tetris board gone berserk, where the lines are getting higher and higher and you're panicking and just putting blocks wherever there's an open spot. After moving, we realized that, well, fuck, we need to get rid of a lot more. I think April and I could've stocked a Goodwill store just simply by the amount we've donated pre- and post-move. I was a bit concerned, though...while I've gotten rid of some things, April parted with 5-6 boxes of her books. While I regularly jest that the only time I object to her massive library is when we have to move it, I know that books are her life. It'd almost be like someone asking me to go through every single film negative I've shot and asking me to part with several dozen rolls of film. But she looked as if she took it well. Much of the books she donated were things in the public domain and readily available, but still. There's also a pile of stuff that will be hitting eBay soon, so be on the lookout for that. 

On a personal level, I'm very glad, and very proud--I made it through my first full-time college semester for the first time since 2004. Not just that, but I made it through without any rebellion from my body--for those keeping score, I had to withdraw the previous 3 semesters due to Crohn's-related bullshit. I did have cause to worry early on this semester--I did pick up a case of food poisoning, which hung around for a week or two. ANY upset to the digestive system is cause for concern--something as relatively mild as that could snowball into a full-scale flare-up. Also, I'm on the clock. While April has been nothing but supportive in this long ordeal, she's made it known quite plainly that if I have to withdraw again, that's it--my college career will come to an end, and I must move on with my life. So, let's keep the good vibes going. On December 14, I could finally relax. The semester ended, and with it, I became a college junior. The grades rundown:

Italian Renaissance: A
Art History 1: A
2D Design: A-
3D Design: A-
Digital Photographic Images: B+

Semester GPA: 3.74

So, yeah, I'm happy. :) Next semester sees a slightly reduced courseload, 4 classes instead of 5. Didn't want to kill myself with 4 very intensive studio courses. I will also keep my darkroom work-study job for next semester.

On a related note, I'm considering studying abroad for a semester. That's as far as it's gotten. I met with some representatives from the University of the Arts at London, and I am interested at the thought of expanding my photography skills outside of the US. I have to see if they could accomodate me in finding a doctor to give me my required Crohn's medicines. If they can, and if I can afford to do so, I'll apply. 

(sigh)...so now, with the semester over, I've become the house houseband. It's a nice change, and the fact that I can spend time with April for the next 5 weeks makes me happy. We haven't seen much of each other these past 4 months. I've begun shifting into the Christmas mindset, although it doesn't feel quite right. The past 2 years, Christmas has come right after a move, so it's been a transitional time. Haven't really been settled. Hell, I could say that about being married; it certainly seems that right after April and I got married, someone increased the difficulty setting on LIFE. Haven't had time to be stable, between me being sick (although it would seem that we're approaching stability on the Crohn's front), moving, and having people live with us, also in transition themselves. That's not necessarily a bad thing--I have no qualms about opening my home to friends who need it. However, I think it's taking a toll on April. While she is an incredibly hospitable person, I think her desire to make sure everyone in the house is happy and content (myself included, and whether we want to be happy or not) is wearing her out. In her desire to keep a happy household, she's forgetting to enjoy life herself. I need to help her restore some balance. It's a noble and wonderful thing to put other people's feelings ahead of yours, but a balance needs to be reached. There are people in this world that, no matter your best efforts, won't or don't want to be content. 

This year, Christmas will be spent with my family on Cape Cod. Little bit of a longer drive this time (Danielle is going to spend Christmas in New Bedford with her family), but it'll be during the day. I don't want to brave holiday traffic in Providence at night. Looking forward to it. What I'm also looking forward to? The year-end Monopoly game between Ryan and I. Ryan's won the last two games. Need to nip this streak in the bud. 

Not looking forward to? Not having Dick Clark take us into 2013. 

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