Weekly Update, Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Health stuff

… is on my mind a lot today.

First, the good. I had my six month followup with the hand surgeon who did my cubital tunnel release surgery. I was happy to report to that my left hand is mostly back to 100%. The strength in my fingers seems normal again, though I do occasionally get a bit of tingling in the fingertips. She seemed really pleased (I wonder if she was surprised it actually worked!) She’s such a lovely doctor; I’m a bit sad I likely won’t see her again! On the other hand, “no followup appointment is needed” is the nicest phrase in the English language.

I also heard that phrase from the orthopedist this week, although I am still doing PT, and slowly — ever so slowly — getting back to running.

The bad: I have been having weird, nebulous intestinal symptoms lately. Mostly a lot of bloating and fullness right below my belly button, with occasional cramps. It comes and goes in severity, which is why I’m doubting my own assessment of this discomfort. Further adding to the confusion, a friend of mine recently had symptoms like this and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, soooo, I’m not sure if this is my usual hypochondriac shuffle.

But seriously, my diet hasn’t changed all that much; not sure what’s going on here. I should probably see a doctor. But… I already feel like my entire life is doctor’s appointments. Physical therapy appointments and therapy-therapy appointments. Until recently, hand surgeon and orthopedist appointments. Followups every three months for the statins I take. Annual physical. Eye appointment this Friday. An annual visit with a cardiologist (to manage my hereditary risk) and a pulmonologist (for my sleep apnea).

I’m so bloody sick of this, and so spending even more time and money going down an avenue that will likely lead nowhere conclusive? Is a choice I am avoiding making.

Okay, on to more fun stuff, mostly connected to…

Games and streaming

I have a webcam now! While you now can benefit from my ridiculous facial expressions, this has raised its own technical challenges. First was figuring out that I needed to turn off its mic so that you didn’t get Lise in Poor Stereo. Oops. Now I’m having issues with the FPS on the webcam; seems to be an issue somewhere between the camera and OBS, so I need to investigate that. (Thanks to Marc for troubleshooting help!)


That’s a plush netch on my head. I’ve named it Captain Netchy. It amuses me, if no one else.

I did an extra-long ESO stream on Monday/Labor Day, which was a lot of fun. I was playing Br’ihnassi, my Khajiit stamina nightblade, and doing various larcenous activities, i.e. heists and sacraments, finishing off the A Cutpurse Above achievement, etc. I do worry that some people shied away because of spoilers (I was trying to finish the Dark Brotherhood questline, among other things), but I had good chats with Marc and Beth T and Pickle nonetheless. Sometimes I get disappointed if only my IRL friends come to the stream, but I also have to remember they are precisely why I started streaming in the first place!

On Saturday, I ran a vet dungeon with my ESO “friends-and-family guild” guildies! We dragged Scott and and Matt M through vet Wayrest Sewers II, and even got them the hard mode completion. This is no longer challenging content for me, but I love helping others through it. I still have fond memories of the UESP folks showing me the ropes on vet City of Ash II, so I like to pay it forward. If this trend keeps up, I may need to start my own dungeon help night for the Order of the Golden Path.

Speaking of which, I am healing my way through the veteran DLC dungeons of ESO, and I’ve now completed everything but the two new Wolfhunter dungeons on vet. I’ve found vet Falkreath Hold to be the hardest — I can’t even tell you how many times we died to Domihaus. The Menagerie in vet Fang Lair also gave us a run for our money, and there was a reason we did the /kissthis emote over the body of Zaan, in vet Scalecaller. Vet Mazzatun and Cradle of Shadows were mostly just long and annoying. Still no hardmodes for anything but the Imperial City dungeons.

We’ve also been experimenting with doing dungeons in first-person mode, for an extra challenge. Sometimes it leads to surprisingly good screenshots!

Oh, and hey, my Thursday night unexpectedly cleared up, so it looks like I’ll be streaming ESO tonight at 9pm Eastern — more time with the majestic wizard lizard, who is totally not Garak from DS9. (He may be a tailor, but he’s definitely lawful good).

In WoW news, I have finally admitted that yes, I am going to — attempt to — balance heroic raiding in WoW with other games.

Thus I got Silbuns, my warlock, to 120 over the long weekend. After reviewing all three specs leveling from 110 to 120, I decided to go with Destruction spec, because I really do not like what they did with Affliction — it just doesn’t feel right to me any more. (I enjoyed Demonology a lot, but it felt very underpowered compared to the other two). And while I may die of boredom casting Immolate on everything, Destro is at least an easy rotation.

Our guild went on our first trip to Uldir, the new raid, last night. It was a huuuuuuge turnout, maybe a full mythic raid size. I was irrationally annoyed that on top of the core group, there are the folks who didn’t raid for most of the last expansion. I know they have every right to be there, but I can’t help but remember who was and was not there for the 100+ wipes on heroic KJ.

Anyway, grumpiness aside, it went okay. We definitely did not have enough healers — three for a group of 20-25 — making me further feel guilty for not leveling my shaman. But nonetheless we cleared Taloc, MOTHER, and Fetid Devourer.

My dps… was shite. Considering I was still wearing some quest greens, a few heroic blues, and a Darkmoon Squalls deck, this is unsurprising. It’s hard to commit to making it better while simultaneously considering quitting the game, too.

It doesn’t help that the first round of dps numbers from heroic Uldir show that… yep, Destro is still underperforming. *sigh* Maybe I will switch back to Afflic, Shadow Bolt and all.

If I do keep playing, I need to do something to standardize my keybinds across the two games. I would like to stop mounting/dismounting when I mean to hit push-to-talk…

Oh, and I’m still working my way through Graveyard Keeper, that indie sandbox game where you not only garden, cook, build stuff, and fish, but also dissect bodies and help the Inquisitor with fliers for his witch-burning. I’ve discovered that the alchemy system is not just two dimensional, but THREE dimensional. This may be the game that gets to me learn pivot tables in Excel.

LARP

Larp season is beginning! Thankfully it’s a pretty light one for me. I have Shadowvale this upcoming weekend, and Mad3 at the end of the month. Feel some anticipatory anxiety towards SV, but hoping that works itself out.

Lise lives! Or: weekly update, Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

I went on vacation the first two weeks in August, and somehow I’m just now getting back to my blog. *taptap* Is this thing still on?

I think moving forward I’m not going to do the “accomplishments” format in my weekly updates, because it’s putting too much focus on “doing shit as a measure of self-worth.” And I’m finally learning how dangerous that thinking is, and beginning to accept that I have value regardless of what I do in the world.

But I do like keeping you updated on fun stuff I’ve been up to! Without that, all the weeks sorta start to look the same.

So here is some fun stuff I’ve been doing!

Camping

I went honest-to-god camping the first few days of August, at Ausable Point Campground in Peru, NY, a.k.a. the town I grew up in. In fact, it’s the same campground where my family went camping every summer when I was between the ages of (approximately) 11-16.

Unsurprisingly, it has changed a lot in over twenty years! I’m pretty sure the campsite numbering pattern is different, they took out the annoying speed bumps, and there’s waaaaay more driftwood at the beach than I recall. But the clean, cool water of Lake Champlain and the wide, straight banks of the Ausable River are mostly unchanged.

I read, swam, took lots of walks, worked on my embroidery, went boating with my dad, and even kept up with my PT exercises.


A variety of loosestrife I saw at the campsite: probably Lysimachia ciliata, or fringed loosestrife.

Stratford Festival

The next week I spent in Stratford, Ontario at the theater festival there, helping out my mom. I saw six different amazing plays, but I think I most enjoyed their production of Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, a “geopathological” family drama set in 1912, deeply biographical to O’Neill’s life.

We also took a day trip out to the Blyth Festival — a smaller theater festival, around an hour away — and saw Judith: Memories of a Lady Pig Farmer and ate at the epicly huge Cowbell Brewing Co. which is apparently the only closed-loop, carbon neutral brewery in North America.

Games and Streaming

The new WoW expansion, Battle for Azeroth, came out two weeks ago, and I am attempting to level a character to the new cap of 120. (One bubble away from 119, as of last night). There have been some good additions to the game (for one thing, I’m glad to never play the “hunt through your bags for AP tokens” ever again), but on the whole I’m really not feeling the new content. It feels especially juvenile compared to the nuanced ESO Summerset quests I’ve just played through. Also not thrilled that they took Drain Soul away from Affliction warlocks, even if we did get Shadow Bolt in return.

On the same day as BfA came out, the newest ESO DLC, Wolfhunter, also launched. I’ve played through the two new dungeons on normal, and they’re difficult, but a lot of fun. March of Sacrifices is probably my favorite; I really feel for Hanu and her father, even if they’re heretic Ashlanders 😉 Also the use of sneak mechanics in the indrik fights is pretty neat, too.

Before I left on vacation I was playing some No Man’s Sky. I helped a guy, was given command of a freighter, and then promptly stopped playing. Beautiful game, though, and for the most part pretty chill.

I also recently got interested in an indie game, Graveyard Keeper, after my college friend Marc started streaming it. If you ever thought Stardew Valley didn’t have enough autopsies in it, this may be the game for you!

I continue to stream and have a ton of fun doing it. I’m learning a lot about branding, communication, and relating to people, too, in a way that feels relatively low-stakes for an introvert like me. I finally ordered a webcam, too, so I hope that will allow me to better connect with folks. Fundamentally I just really love educating and entertaining people about the Elder Scrolls series!

The big dilemma I’m having is that I want to put more time into streaming — longer streams, different types of content — but that has to come from somewhere else in my life. And I’m eyeing that six hours a week that I am scheduled to be raiding in WoW, and feeling like maybe that’s where I want to cut.

But there’s an opportunity cost there. If I decide not to raid, it means spending less time with the cool people in my WoW guild (my RL friends as well as the rest of the raid team), as well as my own damn husband. So that’s a tough row to hoe.

Anyway, if you do see me go live, and you want to support this new hobby of mine, there’s one very helpful thing you can do: open up the link. Even if you can’t watch at that time; even if you have no interest in the content; even if you mute your browser tab. Just having more people there provides social proof to others, which is helpful to me in terms of growth.

Writing

Isn’t so much happening right now. I will probably get back to it at some point, but right now it brings up lot of negative feelings. Also when I am deep in my writing, I tend to start feeling like my life has no value if I don’t write, which is not a helpful place for me to be mentally, either.

I finally got a rejection from Galaxy’s Edge for Granny Hubbard — after 120+ days and being lost in two separate limbos, I got a form R. Wheee.

Lioness is still in pieces on the shop floor, so to speak. I wish I could finish this draft, but every time I sit down to work on edits, I’m filled with anxiety and guilt. And this isn’t my job, so fuck those gross feelings.

Books

I’m currently reading the first book in Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series, Daggerspell, and I gotta say… a) it’s very 1980s, b) it’s a slog. It just isn’t compelling to me. Having to continually remember who each character is the reincarnation of is more of a mental load than I really want, as is the unnecessary use of fantasy words for perfectly normal concepts like “hill” and “castle”. I have the next few novels, so I’ll probably read those, but god, I hope this improves. I know some of my friends love them, so I’m willing to be a bit more patient.

On vacation I also finished reading an older self help book, Self-Esteem, which is where a lot of my newfound ideas about self-worth are coming from.

Social

I went to the wedding of Holly and Tom this past weekend! It was of the sweetest, most nerdy weddings I’ve been to — their ceremony made me cry!

I went to see the RiffTrax Live of the classic 1980s movie Krull this past week. I had never seen it before, but, uh, wow, that sure was something. I felt like I can’t even really call it a “a bad cookie cutter fantasy of the 1980s,” because while it’s clearly trying to ride the cash train of Willow, The Princess Bride, etc, it’s still innovative in some interesting ways.

Ways that mostly don’t work, alas.


THIS IS NOT ACTUALLY A GLAIVE.

Health

Physical therapy for my right foot continues. My dorsiflexion is still not-so-great, but today my PT told me I could try running again at a low intensity. She seems to think some of the problem is in my stride, and I put more weight on outer edge of my foot than on the big toe. Those of you who are familiar with the RiffTrax of Birdemic, I am in fact getting walking lessons 😉 Hopefully I’ll be better at it than Rod by the time I’m done…


“Where’s that shop that sells instructions on how to walk like a human?”

I do not like this meat car and would like to upgrade to the newer model, but it’s still not out yet…

Habitat

In the MASSIVE AMOUNT OF RAIN we’ve had lately, we discovered that our skylights are leaking more than ever, and that it was time to get them replaced.

And then we learned the roof also needs replacing.

Sooo… that’s a big chunk of change. Not as big as I was fearing, but still something like $12k for a roof and four new skylights.

We can pay this out of savings, but it will wipe us out in terms of doing bathroom renos this year, so what we are doing instead is refinancing our house. As we apparently both have — no lie — perfect credit, we were able to get a very nice 15-year fixed mortgage, with $12k cash back to cover the roof/window repairs.

Also at some point I need to finish painting the guest bedroom. There’s just so much taping and cutting in to do in that tiny room with a slanted ceiling.

Weekly Update, 7/16/2018 to 7/22/2018

Brief Update

Mental health update: feeling pretty good lately. It turns out a good therapist is a literal lifesaver. Much love to mine!

I got out to the lake this weekend in this scorching heat, which was sooooo welcome. We also finally dug the remains of the old garden gate out of the front yard. (We left the cement bases in the ground, because there was no way we were getting those out without heavy equipment).

I’m still having a blast streaming ESO, bringing my passion for the Elder Scrolls games to a wider audience. I wish I could do this full-time! But I adore my guildies, the community, and the lore of these games, and I’ll likely continue to do this as a hobby for the foreseeable future. Need to see about making some tech enhancements to my stream in the near future, though…

(P.S. If you want to keep up with my ES and general video game shenanigans, you can find me at LisePlays on Twitch, or on Twitter).

Did a little writing-related stuff this week, finally getting back to submitting short stories and editing Lioness. It feels like ripping off a bandaid, that first time sitting down in front of Scrivener after a while, but I’m making slow progress. Once I accepted that this MS wasn’t going to be ready for Pitch Wars (and that that’s okay, I don’t really need it, etc), I felt a lot better about the whole project.

Finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was a quiet but intense book. Definitely Peak Gaiman!

Accomplishments

Writing
– Submitted a story to Diabolical Plots (can’t say which due to anonymity)
– Sent “Pinions” to a beta reader
– Did ~1h of editing on Lioness

Reading
– Finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

Other Media
– Listened to Twitch Talks #10
– Listened to Stream Coach, “Top 3 Consistency Tips” and “Consistency on Twitch with Cahlaflour”
– Listened to Sword & Scale #117

Health
– Had therapy appointment
– Did PT exercises x 6
– Went swimming at the lake

Games
– Had a session of my D&D game
– Streamed two hours of ESO questing on Scars-like-Lightning
– Streamed 1.5h of Fishing Lore
– Finally bought a proper house in ESO (Amaya Lake Lodge) and started decorating it
– Did bunches of normal dungeons with Anyael in ESO
– Did vet Ruins of Mazzatun, Crypt of Hearts I, and Imperial City Prison with Falanu
– Did normal Hel Ra Citadel and 2 x Cloudrest with Falanu and Anyael

Habitat
– Helped Matt remove old garden gate from the yard
– Met with landscaper/lawn guy
– Did two loads of laundry
– Tested out tent for camping trip

Picture of the Week

For some reason I don’t entirely understand, I still have this lovingly-copied copyright protection device from Monkey Island 2 hanging around my house. It’s not exactly necessary these days, since I can simply play the iOS port of it. Still haven’t ever figured out the spitting contest…

Weekly Update, 7/9/2018 to 7/15/2018

Brief Update

I went to Readercon this week, convinced that writing was too hard and I didn’t want to do it any more. I’m happy to report that my mind has been changed.

For my friends, who allowed me to talk about my difficulties, saw me as I was, and accepted that, thank you. Special thanks to:

  • Melissa Caruso, who painted me as someone who is determined enough to make a story work, no matter how hard it may be. Her description made me want to live up to that standard!
  • Victoria Sandbrook, who was so enthusiastic about my work, asking me to send her anything that might need beta reading.
  • My Readercon roomie Beth T, who said, “I will be very disappointed if you stop writing, you silly goose.”

For Rose Fox’s talk on “A Compassionate Approach to Writer’s Block,” which explored new ways of looking at writing — also, thank you. Some of these ideas had been percolating in the back of my head, but their talk gave me the permission I wanted to step through that door. They reminded me that writing should be fun, and if it isn’t fun, I don’t have to do it.

Other people helped, too! I spent a large portion of this con having great conversations at the bar with people who cared deeply about stuff, and I feel like that made me feel more like a part of the world than a machine for producing stuff.

  • Talking to Steen about his passion for Global Frequency made me remember my own passion for meta-narratives.
  • The (Hugo nominated!) Suzanne Palmer remains the kindest person ever, who gave up a book she had found on the free table because I expressed interest in it. I am in awe of her positive attitude about the shit she’s gone through to get to where she is now.
  • It was great to see VP17er Paul S. again and talk to him about his newfound interest in reading long-form political commentary, and what he gets out of that.
  • I also really enjoyed getting to meet his girlfriend Molly, who can talk about Edith Wharton, Twin Peaks, and her awesome Diablo tattoo with equal aplomb.
  • I feel like I barely saw Kevin R/Kellan S at all, but I enjoyed talking to him about the housing situation in San Francisco and how it compares to Boston.
  • Arkady Martine helped me learn slightly more than the zero I already knew about city planning.

Of course I saw many people who I’m not mentioning here, but let me just say: you are all awesome, and I see you, in your joys and your frustrations. You are all part of me.

Also on Friday morning I woke up to an email with the ominous subject line “GRANNY.” I had a moment of fear that it was about my surviving grandmother, but then I realized that it was from the slush reader at Galaxy’s Edge, and that she was sending my story, “Granny Hubbard vs. the Giant Slime,” up to Mike Resnick. So, that was a great thing to start the weekend with. Nothing may come of it, of course, but it helped to cement the “yes, you are a writer” feeling.

Accomplishments

Other Media
– Listened to Loreseekers #18
– Listened to The Art of Charm #711
– Listened to Stream Coach, “Your Chat is Boring”, “Dominate Your Day”, “The Best Green Screen”, “How to Promote Your Stream”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Black Holes, Part 1: Phantom”

Games
– Did normal Hel Ra Citadel, Halls of Fabrication, and Asylum Sanctorium on Falanu with the UESP guild
– Did normal Volenfell and White Gold Tower with Anyael
– Streamed ~30m of questing on Scars-like-Lightning

Social
– Attended Readercon
– Met Jess M. for dessert/drinks/Thurs of Readercon

Health
– Had my first PT appointment
– Had a hair appointment
– Did my PT exercises x 6
– Scheduled annual eye appointment

Weekly Update, 7/2/2018 to 7/8/2018

Brief Update

Not much to report this week. The July 4th holiday falling right in the middle of the week was weird. I attempted to do a new feature on my ESO stream, “Fishing Lore”, where I read lore books while I fish. But it got very little attention, and was hard on my voice, so I had to quit after an hour. I have even greater respect for audiobook narrators now!

Over the weekend I played in Thicker than Water, a new(ish) larp by Alison and Kristen P. I played Irene Curie, who was way more interested in snogging boys than she was in winning the Nobel Prize for her synthetic blood substitute, but I managed to acquit myself rather well while looking like Clara Bow, so that was pretty neat.

I am struggling with having a lot of guilt about not writing lately, while also trying to live the conviction that I should not have to be productive to have value as a human being. I’m still working on how to reconcile those things. The best solution I’ve come up with is to allow the soft animal of my body to love what it loves, while also gently remind myself that sticking with routines and habits will make me happier in the long run. Very good advice, if I can follow it.

Accomplishments

Other Media
– Listened to Classic Elder Scrolls #78
– Listened to Twitch Talks episodes #1-2
– Listened to The Art of Charm, episodes 709-710
– Listened to By the Book, “Presence”

Games
– Had one session of my D&D 5E game
– Did an hour of Fishing Lore, my fishing plus Elder Scrolls lore stream
– Did normal Cloudrest (twice) and normal Cloudrest +1 with the UESP guild
– Streamed UESP dungeon help night (random normal dungeon finder dungeons, which gave us Fungal Grotto II, Crypt of Hearts I, and Blessed Crucible)
– Streamed ~1h of Clockwork City gameplay with Falanu
– Did the AD-side Imperial City sewers run hosted by UESP

LARP
– Played in Thicker than Water at Summer Larpin’

Health
– Had a therapy appointment
– Had an endocrinologist appointment
– Brought my lunch to work x 1

Habitat
– Washed the bed sheets

Biweekly Update, 6/18/2018 to 7/1/2018

Brief Update

I have few new and exciting things to report!

I recently gave into my desire to opine on everything Elder Scrolls, and started streaming my ESO gameplay on Twitch! (I also have an accompanying Twitter account, @liseplays, where you can stay up to date on all my Tamrielic wanderings).

Streaming was a totally new experience for me, and I was a little trepidatious, but all in all it’s been technically easy and tremendously rewarding. I’m already pulling in viewers who aren’t just my friends, and quite frankly it scratches an itch that my fiction writing hasn’t been fulfilling lately: to educate, to entertain, and to be heard. Look for a more detailed post on that in the near future…

I also hied myself off to Cape Ann/the Massachusetts North Shore this past weekend, with my pals EB and Alison. I saw Atlas Obscura sites, haunted restaurants, trashy wax museums, and real historical museums; I got a tour of the House of the Seven Gables given almost entirely in an Elmo voice, and discovered that the mental institution that inspired Arkham Asylum is now luxury condos. This has been on my to-do list for a while, so I’m glad I finally made it up there!

Accomplishments

Writing
– Queried Galaxy’s Edge about my submission of “Granny Hubbard” going missing

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “The Substance of Silence”
– Listened to By the Book, “You Are a Badass” and “Zero Waste Home”
– Listened to Elder Scrolls Off the Record #211
– Listened to Loreseekers #1, #17

Games
– Had one session of my D&D 5E game
– Set up @liseplays Twitter and Twitch account
– Streamed ~4h of ESO gameplay on Falanu
– Streamed UESP dungeon help night (doing vet HM Crypt of Hearts I – Darkshade I – White Gold Tower)
– Did normal Cloudrest and Hel Ra Citadel trials with UESP
– Did normal Bloodroot Forge with UESP guildies
– Streamed Falanu questing in Morrowind for ~1h30m
– Streamed UESP dungeon help night (doing normal Ruins of Mazzatun and vet HM Darkshade Caverns II)

Health
– Had a therapy appointment
– Saw an orthopedist for my ankle
– Had my annual pulmonologist appointment
– Brought my lunch x 3
– Cooked zucchini fritters

Habitat
– Did full cleanup/refill of one litterbox

Social
– Traveled to Cape Ann/North Shore area with EB and Alison, and visited the following places:

  • USS Maine Ventilation Cowl (Woburn, MA)
  • Danvers State Hospital (the model for Arkham Asylum, in Danvers, MA)
  • Endicott Pear Tree (oldest fruit tree in North America, in Danvers, MA)
  • Ruins of Dogtown/Babson Boulder Trail (Rockport, MA)
  • Paper House (Rockport, MA)
  • Hammond Castle (Gloucester, MA)
  • Salem Village Witchcraft Victims Memorial (Danvers, MA)
  • Metal Sculpture Yard (Salem, MA)
  • Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery (Salem, MA)
  • Where the witches were tried (Salem, MA)
  • Wicked Good Books (supposedly haunted bookstore, Salem, MA)
  • Witch Dungeon Museum (Salem, MA)
  • New England Pirate Museum (Salem, MA)
  • Witch History Museum (Salem, MA)
  • House of the Seven Gables (Salem, MA)
  • The Witch House of Salem (Salem, MA)
  • Turner’s Seafood (supposedly haunted restaurant; Salem, MA)

Weekly Update, 6/4/2018 to 6/17/2018

Brief Update

(Two weeks here, I can totally math).

I en’t dead. But I have been playing a lot of ESO, which means I’m kind of dead to anyone who doesn’t play 😉

(That’s not the whole truth, though — as you can see, I’ve done some social stuff as well. But I have been laser-focused on ESO the past two weeks).

I went up to ye olde hometown this weekend to visit my mom, and on the way I finished listening to The Cruel Prince, a YA fantasy which I highly recommend! The basic premise is of a human girl who is raised in Faerie and has to learn her way around fae politics. The title is kind of an interesting conundrum; at the beginning and the end it’s pretty clear to whom it refers, but the middle it seems like there are several princes it could be. There’s a cool twist at the end, but I think what I most loved about it was watching the protagonist become powerful and terrible as she is surrounded by literal monsters. I wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t trying to turn into her own cruel prince, by the end. And yet, it’s still hopeful, somehow!

If you wanted something novel-length that encapsulates the feeling behind “A Guide for Young Ladies Entering the Service of the Fairies,” this is pretty close!

If I have any complaints, it’s that the middle felt a little slow and directionless. But that could also just be that my mind was in Tamriel for so much of the past two weeks…

Also relevant: I haven’t been running lately, because in my training for the 5k in May, I seem to have fucked up my right ankle. A preliminary investigation shows that it has some arthritis in it (thanks to a bad injury when I was younger); there also seems to be something going on in the soft tissue that my GP was unsure about. I’m seeing an orthopedist next week. Really hoping I can get back to it soon!

Accomplishments

Writing
– Wrote blog post, “Seventeen days in Tamriel”

Reading
– Read The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

Other Media
– Listened to Sword and Scale, episodes 114-116
– Listened to The Art of Charm 706-707
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Sleep and Creativity”
– Listened to Elder Scrolls Off the Record 209-210

Social
– Did a tasting at Revival Brewing Company/dinner at Brutopia in Cranston, RI with EB
– Saw the RiffTrax Live of Space Mutiny with Adina and Brian
– Visited my mom in Plattsburgh, NY

Health
– Had a therapy appointment x 2
– Had a massage
– Did a short 30-min walk

Picture of the Week


Enjoying the fruits of my trip to Revival Brewing — their delightful Berliner Weisse, Pinky Swear.

Seventeen days in Tamriel

Nearly two years ago now, I quit playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). Due to some balance changes, Matt wasn’t interested in playing any more, and the game was decidedly less fun without him. I canceled my membership not long after, leaving behind a game that still had a lot of content for me, and an awesome community in the UESP guild. It felt awful, almost like a breakup, at the time.

Of course, I haven’t been idle. I picked up WoW again in September 2016, and I’ve been enjoying that. Legion was a pretty great expansion, and I’ve had fun with my heroic raiding guild. But things have slowed down, my guild has cleared all the content it can clear, and the next expansion’s not until August.

Recently Matt mentioned he was getting back into ESO, at least for the single-player content. Neither of us had ever had problems with that. Even at his most disillusioned, he admitted it was a beautiful game with some really great quests and NPCs, full of the lore of the Elder Scrolls that we so love. It was just… group content that was unbalanced.

It didn’t take long of watching him play it to be like, “I miss this game so much!” and plop down my hard earned $29.99 to get the Summerset pre-order/early access (complete with the Morrowind chapter, too!) I also ponied up the $40 for three months of ESO Plus membership, too, because I heart those limitless crafting bags.

It’s been seventeen days since that fateful dive back in, and that’s an auspicious number in Tamriel (seventeen daedric princes!), so here’s a log of my adventures along the way….

ESO Summerset Box Art. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net

Days 1-2

Similar to when I returned to WoW, I knew there was going to be a good amount of I-Have-No-Idea-What-I’m-Doing-Dog. While it hasn’t exactly been the 7+ years I was away from WoW, it was still twenty months. A lot can change in that time!

I quit right after the Dark Brotherhood DLC came out, shortly before One Tamriel became a reality, so in the meantime they’ve added a new class (the Warden), a new crafting skill (jewelry crafting), player housing, and two big world expansions, Morrowind and Summerset (the latter of which just came out for early access). Oh, and they added battlegrounds, because the world PvP of Cyrodiil was, well, not everyone’s cuppa. They’ve also raised the champion point (CP) cap to 750. And of course, with One Tamriel, all the zones scale to your level, and you can do the content in any order.

The first thing I’ll say is this: they made it super easy to jump right back in. With 2 level 50s and some 480 CP on my account, I knew it was going to be hard to pick up where I left off, so I decided to make a new character. And why not a Warden, since that’s new? Thus: Anyael Dulaerion, an Altmer magicka warden.

So I load up the game, and hey, I’m in an introductory/tutorial sequence. (Actually, they give me the option to skip it, since I’ve already played through the vanilla intro once, but I decide to do it anyway). Blessedly, I don’t have to rescue Lyris from Coldharbour yet again; it seems each full expansion has added its own tutorial. So instead I follow a spirit named Oriandra through a “mind prison”, fight some creatures called yaghra, destroyed something called an abyssal pearl, and lo and behold, I find myself near Shimmerene in Summerset, talking to our old pal Razum-dar, from the Aldmeri Dominion quests in the vanilla game.

Raz! Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
I’d say, “Raz, don’t you recognize your old friend?” but you’ve never met my strange new banana elf before.

And I can just continue on from here, because Summerset levels to me. Hooray!

The level-up dialogue has changed HUGELY since I’ve been gone. Each time I level, I’m presented with “rewards” I need to claim — which include experience scrolls, furniture for rooms, etc as well as the standard attribute and skill points. The Skills dialogue has changed, too; they’ve added a Skill Advisor that recommends what skills and morphs to take based on a role you pick. But Matt reminds me of the importance of leveling each class line by having skills on your bar, and so I try a little of everything.

I very quickly learn that as a Warden, my first skill in the Animal Companions line, Dive, is literally throwing a cliff racer at my foes, and I wonder why no one told me this before. I would have been back earlier!!

Since I pinged the GM of the UESP guild before I even signed on for the first time, I have a guild invite waiting for me, and I… pick up where I left off, really. I recognize a full 80% of the names on the roster. Immediately I’m joking with them as if I’d never been gone.

One of the first quests I do involves a murder at the Russafeld vineyard of a racist Altmer who the local population kinda hates. And no spoilers, but this quest is intense. I have gone from WoW quests — which tend to be “lol bring Dadgar 1000 pieces of poop” (and all text) — to a fully-voiced murder investigation, which touches on fantasy racism, romantic obsession, and old wounds, both personal and cultural. And this is just a side quest, folks. Meanwhile Raz is still waiting back at Shimmerene for me to do the main quest.

The worldbuilding, of course, is exquisite. The Altmer aren’t my particular area of interest in the ES world, but now that we’re visiting with them, I’m enjoying seeing their different cultural mores and linguistic peculiarities. (Noted is the usage of “cerum, ceruval” to address you — some honorific?)

So far, so good.

Day 10

My new character, my warden, is now level 18. I continue to throw cliff racers at things while tooling around Summerset and Artaeum (the Brigadoon of the ES world). In addition to the Russafeld vineyard murder investigation I mentioned loving, I also really liked the Insatiable quest, and of course the lore nerd in me is thrilled by the importance of the Crystal Tower in the main plot. Oh, oh, and I like that you get to learn more about Vanus Galerion and Mannimarco’s friendship when they were both Psijics, before the latter got all necromancer-y.

(I ship it).

Yaghra release metal riffs when they die. Fascinating.

If anyone didn’t know that sloads have been part of the lore since at least TESIII, possibly earlier, you’d think they’d decided to transplant the Hutts to Tamriel to be the villains of this expansion.

(To be fair, the original Star Wars movies pre-date all the ES games, so the argument could be made either way. But how many ways can you do giant sentient slugs?)

I’ve start dipping my toes into the housing system; I now own two free inn rooms — one in Vivec City and one in Alinor — and have no idea what to put in them. So far I’ve bought some storage boxes from the Crown Store, put them in there, and filled them with my ginormous collection of 100+ monster helms and Wrothgar dailies sets, so that I don’t accidentally deconstruct them. I still have no idea what the meta is any more, but since the gear cap hasn’t changed, there’s still the possibility this is all good stuff. Also the Julianos crafted set still seems to be good, so I’m running around in that.

Oh, and I bought myself a Tythis Andromo (the banking assistant), so I suppose I can stick him in my empty rooms.

Falanu Dren, my former main (a Dunmer magicka templar, often a healer, Mephala worshipper, Vivec fangirl, poisoner, and House Hlaalu retainer), finished off the Orsinium quest (which she was in the middle of when I quit), and moved on to Vvardenfell.

Of course, I’m adoring Morrowind — it’s a fine mixture of TESIII nostalgia and delightful new lore. Like:

Nostalgia: the Vivec City cantons are still impossible to navigate.

Nostalgia: cliff racers, flying so high!

New: Cliff striders, cousins to cliff racers! And bards singing songs about them, too.

Nostalgia: silt striders, those giant sand fleas of Vvardenfell transportation.

New: nix-oxes, the compact sedan version of the silt strider.

Completely new: Shroom beetles, a type of shalk that grow mushrooms on their backs. Vvardvarks, which look like they were inspired by this comic.

Nostalgia: the Morag Tong! (And old old friend Naryu Virian, from the Ebonheart Pact main quest, and Fungal Grotto).

New: sexily-voiced Morag Tong assassins outside of Balmora! (Hi, Ashur).

New AND nostalgia: In the archcanon’s office in Vivec City you find a document explaining why Ebonheart is in a different location in ESO (on the Morrowind mainland) than it was in TESIII. Vivec wanted it moved, apparently! I mean, I guess “because a living god says so” is a good reason.

Nostalgia: the Camonna Tong, and their being involved with skooma trafficking.

New: Pamphlets warning you away from the Camonna Tong.

Nostalgia: Magister Therana of House Telvanni!

New: a quest that will teach you how Therana ended up a) alive ~800 years from now, and b) quite so… addled. (Oh, and help an Argonian rise through the ranks of House Telvanni in the process. Of course, I was reminded of my own Nerevarine).

Oh, and the first quest you do for Vivec as part of the main storyline? Has you go to one of the most famous crypts of TESIII to ask questions of an ancestor spirit. Questions which a lore-enthusiast will instantly realize are about the Heart of Lorkhan and Dagoth Ur, even though the answers that are given point to a more immediate threat.

But really, this is all just to say: I missed getting the vvardvark loyalty pet by a day. Boo. But I did win a UESP guild trivia contest, so that was a nice consolation prize.

Vvardvark! Half guar, half aardvark, all madness. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
Who wouldn’t want their very own magical experiment gone wrong?

Day 17

My knowledge of the game and the meta is accelerating fast! I will probably do one of the trials (small 12-person raids, basically) tonight with the UESP guild. (And how great is it that I can jump into endgame content so quickly after a two-year hiatus?)

My warden is now up to 28. I’ve done a lot of the side quests on Summerset, and I think it’s mostly the main quest that remains to me. Been doing some of the world boss dailies, too, since there’s always someone killing one of them. This character is going to be my jeweler, I think, so I got certified for that so I can do daily writs.

Falanu is still working through Morrowind — if I want to buy the Amaya Lake Lodge (which I do), I need to finish the main quest here. (Not that that will be a hardship!) In the meantime I’ve made the Saint Delyn Penthouse as comfortable I can with my allotted fifteen furnishings.

(I did go through and acquire every single free inn room I could. I figure I can make them comfortable in different ways, according to my characters, i.e. Imperial furnishings in the Rosy Lion for my Imperial who’s DC-side. This is somewhat stymied by the fact that the non-DLC inn rooms are basically broom closets).

The UESP guild hosted a “dungeon help night” on Sunday, and I took Falanu along. I didn’t need help with any specific dungeons; I just wanted to see some of the ones I’d missed while I’d been gone. So I logged onto TeamSpeak (0ld sk00l!), grouped up my our old pals @baratron, @Sedrethi, and @Mauin, and did normal Fang Lair and Falkreath Hold, two of the DLC dungeons. I healed, because I wanted to get some practice with it again.

In the process, I learned how the Undaunted pledge system had changed. There are now three quest givers, not two! You can do each chapter of multi-chapter dungeons as normal or vet! You get one key for completing the pledge on normal and two for doing it on veteran hard-mode; it’s not worth doing it vet if you can’t do it hardmode, because you’ll still only get one key. (Much as it used to be with Imperial City Prison and White Gold Tower). The keys are all the same, and you use them in whichever chest has the monster set you want. (There’s a helpful sign telling you which).

I also learned about how my abilities had changed. I learned how powerful and expensive Ritual of Rebirth — the “Templar clap heal” — had become, edging out Breath of Life for certain uses. I learned how useless Restoring Aura is these days, since now it only restores stamina, and doesn’t stack with other stamina buffs.

As usual, my groupmates mostly let me run through the dungeon at my own pace, showing me things I might otherwise miss (like what one boss in Falkreath Hold does if you cleanse his corpse), and trying not to kill things so quickly we couldn’t see mechanics. It was hard to pay attention to the story and also banter with them like we always do, even with subtitles. So all I gathered is that Fang Lair used to be a Dwemer city and now it’s full of necromancers, and that Falkreath Hold is a Nord citIy (yes, Falkreath from TESV) overrun with Reachmen and minotaurs.

After we finished, I stayed up probably later than I should have just talking with my group mates. I’ve missed these dorks so much! This was how I was convinced to come to trials; I told them, “I sure have a bunch of CP, but I don’t necessarily know how to use them yet!” and they said, “We’ll teach you!”

Br’ihnassi, my Khajiit stamina nightblade, is also playable again. I’ve been doing Thieves Guild tip board quests to raise her Legerdemain, progressing through the Dark Brotherhood storyline (which she was in the midst of when I quit), and occasionally working through Cadwell’s Gold, which she never completed (and which has left her desperately short of skill points).

I haven’t gotten any of my other characters playable yet, so mostly I’ve just been logging in for riding lessons.

I joined a casual trading guild (their usual trader is in Shornhelm), and have been selling some stuff with my designated trader character. The house I want is either 7000 crowns or 1.3M gold, so I’ve got to get saving, if only for furniture.

Amaya Lake Lodge, the Hlaalu-est of dwellings. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
You will be mine. Someday.

Having come right from WoW, I both miss and don’t miss having a centralized auction house. While it’s sometimes less convenient, I love the feeling of wandering up to a random trader in the middle of the wilderness and finding a great deal on something or other. I check them wherever I go!

Oh, right, and that’s when I installed Awesome Guild Store and Master Merchant, along with a slew of other addons. I guess that means I’m here for the duration…

Day 17 aftermath

I survived my first trial post-return! We did normal Cloudrest and Asylum Sanctorium; with my husband and I rounding out the roster, we had a full team of twelve. The actual fights were mostly easy, but I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I hadn’t really practiced my rotation at all beforehand (which was basically just a cookie-cutter Alcast Beamplar build), and I was literally making new gear and enchants right up until the scheduled start time.

I needn’t have worried, because things were not well organized. While many of us were ready to go right at 9:15pm, many were not, and so we didn’t enter Cloudrest until maybe 9:45pm? Luckily, each of these trials can be finished in 15-20 minutes; there’s no trash, and it’s much much easier than a normal WoW raid.

Even though we were doing the bosses in their normal configuration, along the way I learned about the whole +1, +2, +3 system, where you can make stuff more challenging by fighting the final boss at the same time as one, two, or three other bosses. It’s not quite mythic keystones, but it’s something for upping the challenge, at least. I’m not sure if that gets you better gear, but it probably gets you achievs/titles/dye colors.

I was glad to see that dungeon and trial loot is now tradeable to others in your party; that makes farming a lot more bearable than it was before. (You also have transmutation, which allows you to change the traits on an item — each trial boss awarded a number of transmutation crystals, the currency for this). Thanks to the new trading policy, I got the famous Asylum Sanctorium resto staff, beloved of meta everywhere, from groupmate @Kiryen_Thunderbow. I also ended up with a piece each of Olorime and Siroria, respectively the in-demand healer and magicka dps sets.

The only fight that was a real mess, mechanics-wise, was Saint Olms in AS; without Raid Notifier (the ESO equivalent of Deadly Boss Mods, I guess), I had no sign that the boss was about to do his “jump in the air and kill you all with lightning” maneuver. I think I died six times, but I lost count. I’ve been informed the number of deaths to beat is 81 😉

I also managed to go the entire night without realizing that my role was set to “healer” in the group dialogue, causing some confusion. Derp. I had completely forgotten that dialogue was a thing!

Like with the two dungeons I did earlier, I was so focused on other things that I didn’t follow the story super well. For Cloudrest, it was something about the sload attacking and corrupting these ginormous gryphons? Are those the Welkynar? I have no idea. AS seemed a lot more my thing; I think the plot was like “the souls of these Dunmer saints have been put into these giant automatons; you have to destroy the automatons to free their souls.” (Imprisoned by who? Sotha Sil?)

And lemme tell you, for all that I didn’t entirely grasp what was going on, it was still uncanny and vaguely obscene to have these automatons with the names of cherished saints staring you down.

Saint Llothis. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
This greeted me. I wonder how Falanu, endlessly devout, felt about this…

Oh, and a funny quote from last night that was pure UESP:

(Sedrethi is expressing his character’s hatred of the Tribunal)
“Don’t worry,” says Kiryen, “in 800 years or so some random Redguard is going to destroy them.”
“I heard it was an Argonian,” I replied.

Verdict

This game is still so, so good, and I am so, so glad to be back. There are so many quality of life things that make this a way better game for me than WoW, even if group content is still iffy. (I’m not sure on that verdict; I haven’t played enough to really judge). Still not sure what I’m going to do when the next WoW expansion comes out in August, but right now I can’t imagine letting my subscription lapse again. Even if I’m just collecting crowns and logging in to get daily rewards 😉

Also, if anyone has a vvardvark they pet they don’t want, my game handle is @captainecchi 🙂 🙂 🙂

(All images in this are sourced from uesp.net, of course. I give the same disclaimer they do for images: all content belongs to ZOS; I am only borrowing it here for non-commercial purposes).

Weekly Update, 5/21/2018 to 6/3/2018

Brief Update

Two weeks here. I have gotten sucked back into playing ESO and, gotta admit, that has taken up a lot of my time. I have also been hashing out some really intense stuff in therapy, which has made me feel emotionally raw, so I think it’s been a bit of the old escapism, eh? At the moment, I am okay with this. I ended up skipping Madrigal this weekend to deal with some of those uncomfortable feelings, and I think it helped — I definitely feel more human this week.

Re: ESO. I quit about two years ago, but I am so thrilled to be back. I feel like I picked up with the UESP guild where I left off. But game-wise, I’m already kicking myself for everything I’ve missed while I’ve been gone. The Summerset quests are brilliant, the Morrowind quests are amazing, and I’m just sad I missed getting my vvardvark loyalty pet by, like, a day. I may post more of what I’m up to later…

If anyone feels inclined to join me, now is a great time to start; I found it super easy to jump in and just start playing through Summerset with a new character. The game is buy-to-play, and right now you can get the base game + Morrowind + Summerset for like $80, or just the base game for even cheaper. There is an optional monthly membership, ESO Plus, which I think is worth it just for the limitless craft bags.

I have a tiny guild which right now is just a few of my larp friends; I’m also involved with the UESP guild — founded by the builders of uesp.net, the best and most famous wiki for the Elder Scrolls — which is an amazing group of lore-loving nerds, and to which I can also get you an invite, if you are so inclined.

Still not sure what I am going to do when WoW’s next expansion rolls out, in August. I’m feeling very uninvested in the faction conflict aspect of that, although the raids will be sound. And I suspect that while I love almost everything about ESO, the trials (12-man raid-like content) are probably going to be disappointing to me. So, who knows…

Accomplishments

Writing
– Did an hour of brainstorming/free-writing on Built Up Fairyland
– Did ~15m of revision on Lioness

LARP
– PCed Shadowvale event 4

Other Media
– Watched episodes 1-2 of Explained (a Netflix documentary series)
– Listened to The Art of Charm, #702 and #704
– Listened to Larpcast #109
– Listened to Writing Excuses 13.12
– Started up my ESO account again and did a bunch of stuff

Health
– Did 2 x 1.4mi walk
– Did a Zombies Run supply run (2.38mi in 38:28)
– Ran the Metrowest Corporate 5K! (42:22)
– Had 2 x therapy appointments

Habitat
– Cleaned both upstairs and downstairs toilets
– Patched and put a second coat of paint on one wall in the guest room
– Cleaned up the folding tables post-SV

Rejection Log

– 17 day form R from Strange Horizons for “Mirrors”

Picture of the Week

Weekly Update, 5/14/2018 to 5/20/2018

Brief Update

This has been a bad brain week for me. I’ve been working with my new therapist on my insecurities, and it has brought a lot of painful stuff to the surface for me. It’s good and necessary, and I think I will be better for it in the end, but right now I just feel like this deep pit of hurt.

Plus on top of that my cat Brianna had major dental surgery last week, and Matt is sick with something like strep. And I have a larp coming up this weekend. Whee!

Writing (editing) this week was a mixed bag. I integrated the mini-mission into the main body of Lioness, and that brought some uncomfortable feelings about efficacy, whether or not I was going in circles, etc. But I also had one session where I turned a meh scene into something more emotionally raw for the MC, so that was pretty cool.

Habitat-wise, I’m painting the guest bedroom, which currently is an off-white and pale blue (and has been since I moved in). I’ve literally never painted a room before, though, so I’ve already screwed up some important things — like I discovered after starting the first wall that there was a corner with crumbling drywall that I needed to spackle over.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Integrated “mini-mission” into main body of Lioness — did ~3h15m of editing

Reading
– Read “Sirius,” by Ben Peek (Clarkesworld Year Six)

Other Media
– Listened to Real Crime Profile, episode 85-88
– Listened to Writing Excuses 13.8 – 13.11

Health
– Did Zombies Run S2 E21 (2.59mi in 40:38)
– Had a therapy appointment
– Did Zombies Run S2 E22 (2.18mi in 31:01)
– Did ZR supply run (2.72mi in 42:25)
– Did a 1.4mi walk
– Did Zombies Run S2 E23 (2.57mi in 41:15)

Social/LARP
– Had dinner and Panera and worked on Tauros Express larp with EB
– Had a D&D session

Habitat
– Vacuumed downstairs
– Put the first coat of paint on one wall of the guest bedroom
– Donated old coffeepot

Picture of the Week

I was going to offer you a picture of my shitty in-progress paint job, but luckily for you I also have this picture of a flowering tree along my usual run route.