Transiversary – Continued Reflection

I’ve said to several people in the last week that something feels different now. The events of the last few weeks have eroded, torn down, and/or broken some of the restraints that used to hold me back. It’s hardly a sudden or unique experience. I can certainly look back over the last few years and see it happening in steps. All the blog posts where I argued about whether I should post it or not. Questioning if it was appropriate or something people even wanted to see. That’s actually what ultimately pushed me away from blogging.

I’ve actually been writing a lot over the last few months, and off and on for the last year. My transiversary date was chosen because of an unpublished blog draft I wrote the day I finally decided. What pushed me to stop publishing my work was just the very personal nature of it all. It felt weird to share so much of myself openly and publicly. That’s… not who I was.

Instead, I’ve been writing privately, with my thoughts often visible to only a select couple of people with whom I’m very close. Not quite daily, but pretty close to it. While I began writing blog posts as a way to hone a skill set and do something different, it eventually became a method of personal reflection. Useful on its own, but something gets lost by not sharing it with others.

Part of my change in experience these last few months has been the realization that I need to connect with people. Trying to come here and write a draft that only I see is surprisingly unsatisfying. The last few times I’ve tried it, all it did was make me want to go talk to someone about whatever I was thinking and feeling. Still useful to me, but not in the same way it used to.

Of course, there’s no real way to be sure that this is even transition related. As I’ve pointed out, the threads of this reach back several years within my blog posts. It’s extremely easy to think that what I’m currently going through and experiencing is contributing, and maybe it is, but it didn’t cause it. It only helped bring it to light and push it forward.

I’ve been receiving encouragement to share my writing. Well, to try and monetize it, actually, but one thing at a time. I’m still uncertain that this is really what people want to see. I’m just finally at a point in my life where I’m willing to at least give it a shot.

I’m making some bold moves over the next few months. They remind me a lot of when I started the blog, actually. “Why not?” I said. “Why shouldn’t I just try it and see what happens?” Didn’t work out so bad last time. Might as well give it another go, eh?

I’m just now realizing I didn’t do my usual sign off yesterday.

Y’all take care. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Transiversary – A Year in Hindsight

There’s a lot to be said about my journey to this point, and the person that started it a year ago seems like a stranger to me now. In a good way. For what it’s worth, I haven’t hit my one year HRT mark yet. I’ve come to the conclusion that my journey began the day I decided I was trans. Exactly one year ago today.

The early days were dark and uncertain. I didn’t know how to proceed. I couldn’t envision myself as a woman, only that I wanted to be one. I didn’t understand what that meant, or how to get started, and I certainly didn’t grasp exactly what I was going to gain and lose in the process.

I began by talking to the woman that will soon my be ex-wife about it. I felt after 13 years of marriage she deserved to know. By the time I made the choice I had already discussed it with her and decided that it was worth pursuing, even if it cost me my marriage. I had spent my entire life doing what society and other people wanted me to do, including her, and I was done with it. It was time to be who I wanted to be.

I followed that by outing myself to a couple of select friends. Jeff, who has been my best friend for years, and Rey who was my friend before all this happened and inadvertently cracked my egg. So many others I feel compelled to mention too, such as Jennifer and Renee who showed me it was okay to be myself. That I didn’t need to fear everyone I knew. I slowly eased into it a little at a time, slowly changing my wardrobe over beginning with underwear and followed by pants. I even tried some shirt and tank tops, but never really felt like they looked right on me.

The next big step for me was when June rolled around and I had my nails done in trans colors. I was Proud. I was awash in euphoria that day. Panicking because for the first time in my life I had obviously and outwardly expressed who I was. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt like I owned myself. That this was my body, my canvas for my own self expression. I was terrified of what people might think or say too, but I received nothing but compliments.

It was around this time that I began living in and around online communities like reddit. I was desperate to reach out and touch other people like me, because among all the joy I felt immensely alone. I had friends, for sure, and very supportive ones, but none that really knew the struggles and thoughts I was feeling. This is what drove me to go to pride in Chattanooga, where I would bump into Kai carrying a giant trans flag. I was like “these look like my people.” Having made that connection plugged me into the Chattanooga community a bit. This is also when I began using my preferred name.

Later that month I would finally set up my appointment for HRT, realizing that it was the only way to get what I really wanted. The weeks between setting up that appointment and actually taking my first dose was tense. I was afraid that I might never really have what I wanted and couldn’t believe I was actually going through with it. It wasn’t my first time I considered transition, but it was the first time it was actually happening.

There’s a lot to be said about the joy of experiencing my breast buds and generally exploring the new changes that were happening to me. All of which I loved and felt good about. My friends were all using my preferred name and pronouns. I had received no real backlash at the time from anyone but myself. Imposter syndrome was a real part of my existence. Some days I would feel joy and euphoria, others I would hate myself and think I was just a weird guy with painted fingernails, thinking I must be crazy to think I could ever have what I wanted.

The real trouble would begin in October. Kai was suddenly facing eviction and I, wanting only to help my trans friends, volunteered my spare bedroom against my ex’s wishes. We already faced a fair bit of financial difficulty, and my ex felt that this was due entirely to my transition and HRT. I was quite upset and felt attacked for doing something for myself that cost only around $60/month. We spent more than that on our weekly fast food meal.

That was the real beginning of the end of my marriage. The idea that my transition was making us have financial problems was thrown at me constantly, alongside misgendering and misnaming. Afraid to call me anything but her “partner” for fear of how she would look. Things came to a head the first time when she took it upon herself to divide our finances, thinking that this would somehow prove her point and allow her to spend all the money she wanted to spend on herself. Spoiler alert: this didn’t work out the way she thought it would.

Things were getting really tense heading into to December. It was while I was trying to process the state of my marriage that I would cross paths with Rhea and find her discord community, the place I now call my home, as well as my wonderful sisters in the Cookie Cult. It was through the love, friendship, and acceptance I found here that I would begin to learn what was missing from my life. I tried to explain how I was feeling to her coming up on the six month HRT mark, and finally had enough and asked for divorce.

It wasn’t just that, but the fact that I was becoming a different person. I was finally accepting my new identity as Rachel. I was starting to believe it. I had some decent A cups going. I could see her in the mirror more often than not. I was myself. I was emotional, crying for the first time in two decades and loving it. The first few months of the year were very emotionally charged for me. I was often a soupy mess who couldn’t quite figure out what exactly she wanted. I had spent the last nearly four decades of my life practicing strict control over myself, my desires, and my life, and found that control falling apart in my hands.

I wanted things, and could no longer stop myself from wanting them. Before 2023, I had often thought of myself as asexual, and suddenly found out that this isn’t really true. This flood of intense emotions and feelings was debilitating, as I still tried to reign them in and suppress them as I had always done, and all that did was create a self-destructive cycle, even pushing me to leave that discord server at one point, as I couldn’t bear to face those closest to me.

However, everyone here has been nothing but kind to me. Reaching out when I was hurt. Making sure I was looking after myself. And slowly but surely we come to today. Reflecting on all that’s transpired in the last year I realize I’m more Rachel now than I’ve ever been. I’ve felt love, hot tears, new desires, and obtained loss. Even six months ago feels like a lifetime ago to me.

And I find that recently I’m making choices differently. I’ve largely given up the control I used to impose on myself. My responses are more authentic and less filtered. Where once I would have restrained myself out of uncertainty, I no longer care. I’m more likely to ask and do what I want, and simply revel in being who I am. There’s a certain joy to be had in that. It’s not without consequence, as I’m much less risk averse, but I’m finally ready to live my life rather than simply let it pass by as I was doing a year ago.

Transition is easily the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

The Cookie Jar

Right, so I need space to try and process and flesh out this fever dream. I’m not providing context. Just make something up. I’m also posting it now before I change my mind. Peace. Y’all take care.

It’s like, we look around and see everyone else, each with their own unique cookie jar. Some of them are beautiful ornate vases, while others are simply wooden bowls, but each one is as unique as the person eating from it. Likewise, each jar contains a unique kind of cookie only found within it. Sure, some may be similar, but they’re never the same.

We look at these people happily enjoying their cookies and their jars and we say “That looks great, I want to try that!” So we go looking for a jar of our own. Sometimes we pick and choose, waiting for what seems like the perfect jar, and sometimes we sample one at random. Maybe we like those cookies and stop for a while. Maybe we don’t, and we continue the search.

Over time we begin to draw patterns. “I like this kind of cookie.” “I don’t like that kind of cookie.” “Blue glasses vases have the best cookies.” “Wooden bowls aren’t worth it.” All manner of preconceived notions begin to affect our judgment. Still we look upon the other people in the world eating what appears to be their perfect cookie from their perfect jar and we long to feel the same way they do. We crave the joy they’re experiencing and wonder why we aren’t receiving the same thing. We question if the cookies are even worth it, or what the point of it is, and we sometimes we begin to believe that we’ll never find what they’ve found.

In our desperation, maybe we try harder, thinking that maybe we’re just not giving it enough time. We find that some jars don’t even contain cookies for us, but loaded mouse traps that spring on our fingers causing us great pain. Still, what are the odds, right, so we try again and find another trap, and another.

Maybe we found plenty of cookies in the beginning, but increasingly find traps. We question our jar, wondering what’s wrong with it. Why is it filled with these traps? Why has my jar changed?

Each person seeks their own unique solution to this newfound pain. Some continue hoping and searching, trying different jars, while others abandon their search entirely, and some keep reaching into the same jar over and over. After all, your fingers go numb after a while and it doesn’t hurt as much. There are bound to be cookies there sooner or later. Maybe you even found one or two along the way amidst all the traps, but it’s your jar so you keep reaching in. It becomes your normal and you accept that this is just how it has to be.

Then one day, somebody shares one of their cookies with you. It’s really good, and you appreciate it, and you thank them and stick with your jar because the joy they’ve shared is enough to sustain you. We slowly accumulate these friends, doing our best to share among ourselves to sustain and support each other, however long we find them in our lives.

Sometimes, eventually, we learn that no matter how many times we reach into the jar, it will never contain the cookies we need it to. That continuing to reach into it is going to cause pain, both to ourselves and those are us who must watch us endure it. We tell people how bad that jar is and how much pain it causes, after all, we did the best we could, so it must be the jar’s fault.

So, understanding that our cookies are not to be found here, we leave, and by random chance alone, we find our cookies. In a random jar we would never have chosen, or a type of cookie we didn’t even know we were missing. There, in that one beautiful moment, we begin to understand that it was never the jar. Nor was it our fault. Some jars and some people just don’t work together, and no matter how many times you reach in, it will never contain cookies for you.

That old jar is still a beautiful jar that we wanted to enjoy, though, so we move on to find our new jars and hope that someday we can support the next person who finds our jar and realizes it contains the cookies they were looking for all along.

Staying Motivated Week

I typically find this less of an issue, but trying to power through a couple of posts a day to get caught up from my weekend lull has definitely strained my willingness to write. Since most of my usually writing time has been spent watching Flame Fatales, it’s been a bit weird. I find it extremely difficult to focus on what’s happening in a speedrun and process my thoughts in a coherent manner. Especially at the same time. Many people claim to be good at multitasking, but I’m not one of those people.

I find there are a number of ways to keep going, though. Grabbing the weekly topic mid-week instead of during the weekend helps as well, though. I may consider grabbing another prompt or so tonight in order to try and get myself caught up. It’s not so much a lack of motivation as a lack of topics. I’m tired of talking about Borderlands, only doing so because there was something to actually talk about.

The largest part of the battle is just resolving to start a post. If I start, I’ll almost always post something. I won’t necessarily like it, or be happy with it, but those typically take several hours to muddle through and after a while I just give up and wrap it up.

Of course, I’m the last person that should be talking about motivation. For me personally, I just have to want to do it. Finding those individual reasons that make you want to do it is such a personal endeavor that I’m not really certain how to encourage others to do it. It’s all about staying in the middle ground where I have something interesting to talk about at the right time of day.

Speaking of, it’s about time for me to move on with my day, so y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Flame Fatales 2022

I’ve been having a decent bit of fun this week following Flame Fatales, the ongoing GamesDoneQuick event featuring women and supporting the Malala Fund. It’s not quite as busy as a normal GDQ event, as it only runs from around noon to midnight (EDT). I’m not especially familiar with the Malala Fund, nor have I ever watched one of the Fatales events. I wasn’t even aware it existed, but it’s not quite as hyped as the larger GDQ events.

In addition to admiring the skill and dedication of the individual runners, I find it’s a good showcase of games I wasn’t aware of and would probably not encounter. Some of these are titles that I just managed to miss during my childhood, like Final Fantasy Legend 2. Others are interesting twists such as the Final Fantasy 4 Free Enterprise randomizer.

It also exposes me to a variety of things I have little experience with. Puzzle games are a category that’s typically fun to see, though could be counter productive if I actually intended to play them. Having said that, most speedruns tend to completely skip story content because it takes time, so it’s a good way to gauge tone and style for things I may want to branch out into.

I’m actually a bit confused at the moment. The hosts haven’t acknowledged it, but it looks like the game that should be live while I’m writing this has fallen through. Technical issues happen though, and they handled it well because it took me a good 20 minutes to start wondering why things had stalled. Hopefully they’ll get moving along soon enough.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

New Tales from the Borderlands

While I slept on the original Tales from the Borderlands, I have to admit that I quite liked it. It’s actually the only Telltale Games title I’ve ever played. Two months from release (Oct 21), I still haven’t decided how I feel about New Tales from the Borderlands.

The main source of my reservation is the fact that it’s produced by Gearbox rather than Telltale, or whatever is left of it. I never followed them closely enough to understand how that happened given the popularity of their games. I suppose the downfall might be the fact that watching someone play one of the games on YouTube or Twitch isn’t that different an experience from playing it yourself.

Gearbox’s reputation with storytelling is, well, not stellar. The characters themselves are excellent, and the most interesting stories are the small character stories rather than the larger game plots. There’s a chance they could succeed, I suppose. I’ll certainly wait and see what the word on the street is before I bother to pay full price for it.

I also find is a curious move on their part. The original Tales introduced a lot of the supporting characters in BL3. Ones that would appear again in the “final” DLC for BL2 that bridge the gap between it and BL3 and acknowledged Tales as cannon. Something that had been debated a bit up to that point, especially the status of Scooter.

I did see a brief clip from the trailer that looked like it featured Rhys, one of the main characters from the first Tales, who was shown to be in charge of the Atlas Corporation in BL3. We also see a shot of a giant A-shaped Atlas ship that definitely gives me some Hyperion Space Station vibes. Probably because it has a giant H.

I can’t help but wonder why they’re doing it now. Is it laying groundwork for BL4? Is it just a weird experiment to pull in more cash? I just find it an odd choice. Time will tell.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Wonderlands, Playstyle, and Game Design

Now, I definitely don’t think of myself as an expert in any particular Borderlands game. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the franchise, but not nearly as much as the streamers and content creators that I watch. Many of those people have 1000s of hours in one or more titles.

As I’ve worked on achievements again recently, I’ve definitely noticed a change in my general ability to play, my overall play style, and my ability to throw together a quick skill build. Most of that change I believe I owe to Wonderlands and the time I spent there.

I noticed the change to my play style in the games first. I used to adopt a very conservative playstyle similar to a cover shooter. Part of that is also my time messing with one life challenges and the general change in difficulty curve moving into BL2’s end game. When everything seems to one shot your shields you compensate by trying not to get shot. The overall level design often suggests this as well, as most of the games have conveniently places cargo containers and crates stacked around. The few areas that exist in the open get dangerous quite fast.

While Wonderlands definitely has cover, to a point, it also trained me to use movement, speed, and momentary line of sight breaks instead. A decent portion of this is the stronger emphasis on melee combat in the game. It’s hard to hide when you’re up close. It’s actually easier to close the distance quickly and efficiently. I first noticed this in TPS as a much greater tendency to use slams and melees as an area damage and/or an interrupt. Those little staggers can buy you some precious time to reload or pop an action skill.

Another thing the game really helped with was understanding basic build construction. Most games in the series have three or more separate skill trees for any given character. This often made it harder to mentally process what was available and how to fit things together. In Wonderlands, though, you only start with one and add a second later, so it’s much easier to see what your options are and how things fit together. After a while you start to see something and remember what you’ve seen in another tree and wonder how they work together. I just found it much easier to get my head around what was going on with Wonderlands. Once I had experimented with the diet version, I find that it’s much easier to take that knowledge backward and apply it to the other games. At least to the extent that the choices I make naturally are much more in line with those seen in end game builds.

The deliberate choice to make the Wonderlands endgame easier to reach is also contributing. The ability to use chaos mode without having to do three playthroughs first placed me in the endgame much quicker than I was used to. In fact, it was the first Borderlands game where I really had any contact with the endgame. It was only yesterday that I learned BL3’s Mayhem mode is available for the other playthroughs as well, as is whatever passes for this in TPS. WL was also my first direct exposure to anoints/enchants as well.

Just looking at everything together, I feel like Wonderlands served as a sort of Borderlands training wheels. There’s a lot more to it than that, but I wonder how much of that is intentional design.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Sleep Deprivation and Achievement Completion

It never ceases to amaze me just how easy it can be to push the human body well beyond its normal operational limits. I certainly don’t make a habit of doing so, but this makes the second time in the last few months that I pushed past the 24 hours awake with a lot less effort than I expected. The first was an unfortunately timed court appearance. Those never go quickly and take place during my regular sleep hours.

This time, though, it was to help some friends get back home. Their car suffered a catastrophic failure while a couple hours from home, and it’s cheaper to cover someone’s gas for a ride than to grab a couple hour uber. I’m just glad I was able to make the trip with none of the drowsiness and nodding off that I’d been contending with most of the week.

Of course, I’m not as young as I used to be. As handy as it is, it comes with a cost. Once I finally got home and got everything settled I effectively slept for the next 13 hours straight. According to my watch, anyway. This is also a contributing factor to me falling behind on posts for a few days.

What always makes it entertaining is thinking of all the days and nights that I did this on purpose when I was younger. Much younger, in fact, as the game that almost always comes to mind is the original Final Fantasy VII on PS1.

The other part of the delay was finally finishing off the Borderlands TPS achievements. That’s officially finished and uninstalled. That’s three out of five down. My brother expressed an interest in playing BL3 so I rolled into refamiliarizing myself with that.

Y’all take care. Don’t do this at home.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Blaugust – Creative Appreciation Week – Music

Now, I don’t make a habit of speaking about my musical choices often. Just feeling like listening to music is an indicator of a heightened emotional state and anyone watching my choice of playlist could easily learn to infer my emotional state. It’s not an exact science though, as some tracks find themselves spread across a variety of lists, their tone entirely dependent upon my mood. Yet others would seem nonsensical or out of place without the emotional context surrounding it.

There has always been a few overall trends that I can see. I have a taste for both parody and reimagined covers. When I was younger this was most obvious in my fondness for Weird Al, though it included a lot of original comedic works from a random selection of others. Unfortunately, some of those artists are indies and their music is simply not available anymore as far as I can tell. They existed in a largely pre-internet age and never became popular enough to get preserved. It’s a bit sad, really.

Perhaps my favorite brand of covers right now are those made by the Melodicka Bros. Most of the songs they work with are popular and/or well known, but often in a radically different style that I find compelling. In addition to enjoying their interpretations myself, I also enjoy confusing my children with them.

I mainly chose to highlight them because I find myself listening to their tracks very regularly and it’s not like they’re a major creator. I have no idea how many people have heard of them. It’s probably not everybody’s thing either.

I’m feeling kinda odd tonight, so I’m gonna keep it short.

Y’all take care.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.