Goals for 2015

A few years ago I stopped making New Year resolutions, because in all honesty, I suck at seeing them through. I do like the idea of goals, however. They are more attainable, and my ratio of achieved vs abandoned is a lot better. Last year my only stated goal as I started 2014 was to make it through. Along the way I added some more concrete ones, like get furniture for my apartment, take a mini-break in DC, begin my BSN program, all of which I achieved. Emboldened by that streak of successes, I’d like to set myself a few concrete goals for 2015 right from the start.

  1. Get back to writing. It’s no coincidence that I’ve started blogging again; I need to get myself back to the keyboard, back to words. I love Nursing, but I also love Writing, and I’ve neglected the latter for a few years now. So I want to get back to writing regularly, so I can get my mind back in Writer mode, my fingers flying over the letter keys, my words flowing in sentences other than “Patient A+Ox4. C/O pain in RLE, PRN oxycodone 10mg given at 1430, Pt reported relief.”
  2. Get back to game writing. Related to the above goal, I’d like to get back into writing for games. This one is tricky because I’ve been out of gaming for a while, so it involves a related goal of getting back into gaming as well. However, I’ve been dipping my toes back in the gaming pool since last summer, and I know that what I want is to write material for Fate Accelerated Edition, so there’s some focus here.
  3. Edit my first novel. I want to finally edit my finished first novel, written for NaNoWriMo 2011. It needs the edit for sure, but overall I feel it is a good story that needs to be done and set free out into the world. This is the year I want to do that.
  4. Finish my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. I’m already enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program, so this is a matter of completing all my classes, putting up with forced group projects and APA Style papers and annoying PowerPoint presentations, until I’m done. Depending on whether some classes I took before transfer or not, this goal may actually be finished in 2016, but that’ll just be the tail end of it, just like the start of it was in 2014. The meaty center happens in 2015, and I intend to devour that meat down to the bone (sorry, I’m hungry).
  5. Visit Puerto Rico. It’s been over 5 years since I last went to the island, and I miss my family and my homeland. I want to–need to–go back this year, to see my grandparents, my aunts and uncle and cousins, visit my parents’ graves, and recharge my Puerto Rican batteries (la mancha de platano, for those that know).

These five goals are a good start for me, as I think they are very doable with some planning and perseverance. I certainly have more goals in mind, especially on the personal/relationship arena, but those I’ll keep to myself for the time being.

As I’ve said before, I am excited about 2015!

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

2014/2015This past year, 2014, was interesting, to say the very least. I started it in a new city, hundreds of miles away from everything I had ever known, during the start of what would be a bitter winter, with a 1-month old kitten as my roommate. I had no idea what would happen, except that I needed to make it through.

This was a year of rebirth. I started the year simply existing, putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly because that’s what I had to do. I would wake up, go to work, come back home, sleep, then repeat it all over and over. If I wasn’t working, I was out driving around, getting to know my city, but not engaging with it. I was still dealing with some emotional baggage, although slowly I was making sense of it all.

Sometime around the start of spring, existing gave way to surviving. Little by little I started to take control of my new life, and although I faltered here and there, the general motion was forward. I began to feel at ease being a nurse, having people’s health entrusted to me. I made mistakes, but I learned as well, I learned a lot. Not only did I drive around the city, I visited places, talked to people, went to local events. And when I needed a break, I drove 10 hours away to spend a week in Washington DC. And my life changed.

In DC I saw old friends I hadn’t seen in years, rekindling friendships that had simply been put on pause. In DC I met with a new friend, one I had met online, one I had tried to meet once before but couldn’t due to circumstances. In DC I met Megan. After one Hello, I was hooked. After one magnificent day among the monuments of Washington DC, I was enchanted. After a few weeks, I was in love. Surviving gave way to living.

The rest of the year feels like a magnificent blur. Being in a long-distance relationship, I have traveled a lot in order to spend time with Megan, and I have loved every minute of it, every mile of it. I continued to grow in my career, and began to plan for the next step in my development as a nurse, applying to hospital jobs, and deciding to go back for my Bachelors in Science of Nursing.

As 2014 closed and I looked back on the first year of my new life, I was filled with satisfaction, with happiness, with pride, with love. Yes, there were tough moments, but they all led me to that next milestone, that next achievement. I made it through, I survived it, I lived it.

And now it’s time for 2015, and I look forward to all the wonders, all the challenges, all the blessings it has in store. It’s gonna be a fantastic year.

Origins 2014 Part 1: You Can’t Go Back Home

This past weekend I attended Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH, because a) it’s been years since I’ve gone to a game convention, and b) it’s just 2 hours away from my new home in Cincinnati! I tagged along with friends and roomies Mick Bradley and Chris Heim (with roomie Wayne Humfleet meeting us in Columbus) and off we went for four days of gaming fun.

By the title of this post I’m sure you can tell something’s up, so let me be upfront: the weekend confirmed to me that who I was in regards to gaming is not who I am now, that my life has changed, and that this is a good thing.

My last time at Gen Con, 2010, was not a good one. Mom had just died a year prior, and my personal life was not in a good place. Whatever enjoyment I got out of the con was in spite of myself, and due greatly to good friends who made a point to help me get through things. After this, I went into nursing school, and that took over my entire life. I barely had time for whatever was in front of me, let alone imaginary worlds. Cons came and went, months came and went, and I simply stopped gaming altogether. I missed it, but I made the conscious choice of putting it on the shelf in favor of dealing with nursing school, and my personal life. It’s not a choice I regret at all.

Cut to 2014: It’s been a year since I graduated, became an RN, separated then divorced, moved to Orlando and then to Cincinnati, started a new job, experienced my first winter (and a harsh one it was). I’m living a new life, finally standing on my own two feet again, so why not give gaming another shot? And seriously, living in Cincinnati puts me within driving distance of so much gaming goodness; I gotta take advantage of that!

Long story short, I had fun at Origins, but things are not the same. I wandered the halls of the convention center not knowing what was going on in the gaming world, looking at games and putting them back because they held no interest to me, feeling little of the excitement I once would feel in this environment. I would see old friends from this world and be genuinely happy to see them, but feel like we had little in common anymore. Frankly, at one point it was all just depressing and I wanted to go home.

I’m glad I didn’t because I DID have fun. I played three roleplaying game sessions that were fun and stimulating, with good game masters that draw us players into the story, and fellow players that brought their best so we could all have a great four hours of play. I also demoed a few miniatures battles games, which I really like except for the collecting expensive armies part. And when I finally decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, I had a nice evening of conversation and drinks.

I used to be up at the butt-crack of dawn to play, spend as much time in the hall as possible seeking to learn all I could about games, seek out opportunities for pick-up games, enjoy talking about games and design until passing out. This isn’t me anymore. I chose to sleep-in late, to take mid-day rests or naps, to pass on a slot of roleplaying because nothing held my interest at the moment from what was being offered, to have meals with friends instead of playing a game I was only tangentially interested in. I likened it to going back home and seeing all the buildings still standing, but the people and situations be all different. I missed home as it used to be, and some point I had to make a choice of living in the past, unfulfilled, or living in the now, accepting the new paradigm, for however long I was visiting. Which is what I did.

Don’t ask me about game design, about upcoming games, about political or sociological ideas being explored through games, about who’s working where and on what, about what I’m working on; don’t ask me because I either don’t know, or have no opinion on the subject. Ask me about my character in the games I played and I’ll tell you how awesome it was to roll dice and tell a story; about other games that called my attention and I’ll tell you about the minis I moved across a cardboard battlefield and how pretty the pre-painted figures were; about myself and I’ll tell you about how exhausting being a nurse is, how draining it is to deal with life and death daily, and how fulfilling it is to help people live (or die) better.

So yeah, Origins showed me that you can’t go back home again, but that’s fine because home is not in the past. Home is where I decide to make it, and just like I made Cincinnati home after 18 years in Miami, I can make this new relationship with games home for me from here on. I can look forward to having a new relationship with games, enjoying them for what they bring to my life now: entertainment.

In Part 2 I’ll talk about the games I played, because they were cool and deserve to be talked about!

Origins 2014 Part 2: The Games

I went to Origins to play games, and to ease back into the gaming convention world. I accomplished both these goals, and I had fun to boot.

On the gaming side, I played three different roleplaying games in the Games on Demand area: Urban Shadows, Iron Edda, and Headspace.

Urban Shadows is a game of modern supernatural intrigue where mortal and immortals vie for control in a kind of shadow war. It is very much in the same style as the World of Darkness, and powered by the Apocalypse World game system. I got to play the Vampire (I know, big surprise). It was a fun couple of hours; we got to make shadowy deals with werewolves, dethrone rival vampire factions, fight off subterranean menaces, sling spells, be awesome. I loved the Debt mechanic, the currency that defines how things happen. It really underscores the political maneuvering nature of deals between characters and the world.

Iron Edda: War of Metal and Bone is a game of viking badassery where Ragnarok has arrived, dwarves unleash Destroyers upon the land, and warriors bond themselves with the skeletons of dead giants to fight off the intrusion. I played it with creator Tracy Barnett at the helm and it was the highlight of the con for me. We created characters and setting all at the table, and ended up with a neat holdfast with some conflict brewing, and characters that had reasons to fight for it. I made a Bonebonded warrior bound to the bones of the giant Freya, who also turned out to be the impossible love of the town’s matchmaker priestess. The way the story of Ragnar and Bryn came up organically at the table was simply fantastic, and it made these one-shot characters quite memorable. Tracy made a great game, and I’d love to play this again.

Headspace is a cyberpunk game where a team of operatives bind their minds together to achieve total unity, for better (they share skills and memories), for worse (they share psychological trauma and fears), or forever (if one member is killed, the consciousness remains as part of the linked headspace). The premise is intriguing, but the game was a playtest, and an early-ish one at that, which means the basics were there, the core idea was expressed, but it needed work on truly highlighting that one unique feature. Still, I enjoyed myself, and made the most of playing a flamboyant parkouring wiseass named Nike. I’ll keep an eye out for this game in the future, to see how it has evolved.

Other than RPGs, I demoed the miniature combat games Golem Arcana, and D&D Attack Wing, played random card games, and walked the hall a few times checking out all the neat merchandise.

Click on the link to see my pics: Origins 2014 photo gallery.