Despite going to the Boone / Blowing Rock area every year for the past few years, we were pretty hesitant this year. With face masks and caution, we ventured up for ~12 days and braved the crowds. With significant rain in the forecast starting at Day 4, we decided to liven it up by shooting a lot of video and trying to document what a weird year of hiking it was. Enjoy!
I started this year dealing with the loss of my grandmother after a wonderful week-long speed-running convention, thinking about how my year was going to shape up. Seven months later and every convention has been canceled, my cousin‘s sudden passing was nothing more than a family text, and I don’t really even remember what it’s like to have office space.
The transition was so sudden. Both my and my partner’s workplaces shut down overnight, and it doesn’t look like there’s any chance we’ll be back at the office in 2020. Our living situation was intended to be temporary, and as such we don’t have one dedicated space for working, much less two. It’s been a challenge transitioning from being very mobile individuals that fed off of the opportunity that mobility provided to being stuck in a small two-story rental with no natural division between work and home.
Emotionally, the pandemic has dialed up the amplitude on an already-jagged rollercoaster of a year: higher peaks, lower lows, and an even larger gulf between how grateful I should be vs. the emotional state I find myself in.
Despite the fear and anxiety of death and sickness, this crisis lit in me a fire of opportunity and possibility. I didn’t expect the situation to last long, so I figured I’d better make the most of it. That fire is now a pile of embers—still hot, but without much fuel, and limited by a difficult struggle with disgust, restlessness, frustration and helplessness. It has been a strange period of golden opportunity and crushing loneliness. Let’s talk about it.
Super Mario Maker World
The “Super World” update for Mario Maker 2 could not have come at a better time. To generate some spice during the COVID-19 lock-down (and as a break from studying for the PMI-ACP), the roomies and I spent May and June building our own Super Worlds and played them together in early July.
It’s nothing too special in a Mario Maker sense, and it’s my first real shot at designing challenging (but not super challenging) levels, but I took it pretty seriously and I’m pretty happy with the results! Enough to make a trailer at least.
Below are screenshots, level codes, and some narrative bits I wrote for each world to read during our livestream. I even wrote this…ridiculous prologue story to set the scene in the hour prior to the stream that you all have the sad privilege to read now. If you want to play the Super World yourself, my Maker ID is: GCG-9QN-TMG
Shooting Stars: New Horizons
What happens when you mix the star-struck owl from 2020’s chillest anti-viral videogame with the hottest celestial meme of 2017? Animal Crossing: New Horizons Shooting Stars!
Why I Write
This pandemic has taken my mind to a lot of places and other temporary pursuits, so I figured it was time to come back to the trusty ol’ blog and write something about writing to get me back in the groove.
I write because: I cherish the opportunity to be understood. I love sitting down to focus, losing myself in my own head, blocking out the world and recording my thoughts. Writing allows others in, into the details that make me a tangible person when they otherwise can’t, due to distance or time.
I write because: I want to live in other worlds, real and imaginary, through a medium that naturally obscures every other bad thing in my mind with the simplest tools.
I write because: I miss LiveJournal. It was a fascinating look into my friends’ (and potential friends’) lives and was always so rich and full of special, individual details. These days, social media has become a performance medium, and writing trades the public badges of success and performance metrics of faves, likes, and retweets for personal follow-ups with friends.
An amazing wing-it style commission I jumped on at the beginning of this whole pandemic mess from the comic artist himself, Dreddstar! I’ve kind of fallen off of the IDW Sonic series since shifting to owning less material stuff, but maybe I should pick it up digitally! There’s just something awesome about having the artwork tangibly for display.
Welcome to Bunker Club! I finally broke down and made a podcast with my partner using our characters, and it only took a worldwide pandemic to do the trick.
Two furry partners ride out the COVID-19 pandemic together. World updates, coping with the new normal, checking in with friends, staying positive, and supporting each other.
Seeing all the madness escalate around the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 fears, we decided to try our paws at doing a podcast that focused on how we and our friends are affected, are coping, and are generally trying to look ahead to a troublesome, uncertain future.
Our first episode, “Roll Call”, we introduce ourselves, discuss our first week in lockdown, call our roommate, and look forward to the weeks and months ahead. We talk about Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and the double-edged sword of scheduling your time to focus on specific things.
We’re starting small (this is new for us!) but the podcast should be available on most platforms (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, etc.) in the next few days. Our hope is that this podcast is just one more little pick-me-up for all of you out there stuck at home, dealing with disruptions, or (god forbid) sick.
It would mean the world to us if you gave it a listen and shared it with a friend. We’re all in this together.
Goals for 2020
Happy February friends! True to form, I’m here writing about my 2020 goals a month into the year. But that’s okay! Don’t let small setbacks or mismanaged expectations derail you.
Twenty twenty. It’s been set up as a pivotal year for me, for the country, maybe (probably) for the world. I’m choosing not to let the anxiety of the moment change my perspective on what I want the next ten years to be about: taking chances in exchange for something new and something better.
I want to be something more than the little boy that grew up and lived his whole life in Florida. I owe this swamp a lot and I love many parts of it, but it feels impossible to reconcile how much of the world is out there to explore with how little time I have left, comparatively. How can I spend my whole life in one state? I want to experience seasons. I want close access to deep woods and cold mountains. I want to walk several miles a day most of the year, not just in the Florida winter.
My first steps on this journey started in 2017 with my weight loss goal. It fueled an interest to see more of Florida, to make sure I got out of it what I needed to before leaving. 2018 involved some surprise job opportunities for Rob and me, so we pumped the brakes on leaving to try to enjoy the ride. 2019 finally kicked us into action: we helped a friend buy a house, moved him in, moved in with him, and sold our house. We’ve spent most of the past four months working on improving said house (future post!) and now we’re ready to focus on what’s next.
Last Year, Last Decade
Hiking around the woods after midnight with strangers. Kayaking over lunch at work. Giving my springs book to friends and family. Wearing shortalls with a smile to Medieval Times. Climbing a mountain in a blustering rainstorm. Pokémon card pre-releases at 33. Making new friends the best I know how.
Covering my laptop in expressive, cute animal stickers. Succeeding in channeling anguish about my job into something positive. The continued joy of roguelikes. Garage sales and hot dogs. Walking everywhere, more and more. Driving my partner home. Seeing him cry leaving his friends. Getting paid everything you asked for, for once.
Braving sheets of rain and dark buses to experience night football. Hiking mountains and eating pasta with my friends. Becoming recognizable locals in a new locale. Riding bikes by head lamps and prayer. Breaking the mold at work. Flying solo to furry Chicago. Holiday traditions, the good ones and the trying ones. Starting the last chapter of my life here.
My grandma passed away Monday. It wasn’t a surprise—she had been in hospice since the Wednesday prior (I found out at AGDQ), she was in the hospital over Christmas, and hell, she was 86, turning 87 in February. My grandpa, somehow still alive, just turned 92. And just like my Mom’s side of the family, everyone, the entire extended family expected my grandpa to pass well before her. All the preparations for transferring knowledge of finances, family upkeep, responsibilities, etc., were slanted toward those expectations. Instead, today my grandpa is going back home to a property he settled in 1949 without Nana for the first time.