Do Your Best

10-cents_68

Don’t let one person control your mood or attitude. Keep on doing the best you can, be the best you can, ignore the haters (sometimes they are the people closest to you and you may never know it). Never let anyone tell you what you are worth. Your market value in life is up to you to decide.

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Diablo 3 / Season 11 Update

d3 s11 witch doctor

I started playing Season 11 of Diablo 3 over the last weekend, and as of Sunday night, I hit level 70. Monday night/Tuesday morning, I’ve reached Chapter 4 of the seasonal journey and Paragon level 20. I’ve received 4 pieces of the seasonal gear set, with the last 2 pieces, as well as the Season 11 portrait frame and pet coming if I can complete the tasks presented in Chapter 4.

If none of this makes since, then I’m sorry that you’ve never had the satisfaction of playing Diablo 3! While I assume most people probably launched into the season with the newly released Necromancer, I used the Rebirth option and took my old Witch Doctor into the Season as fresh as a newborn baby. That is his stats in the image at top, and for the record, the 74 hours and 50 minutes that show as his play time is the accumulative hours since I created him a couple of years ago.

I’ve played half way through a couple of seasons several years ago, but never felt the urge to complete one. Last season, though, I settled in and played all the way through with a Demon Hunter, and I had a blast! Each seasonal character starts fresh, at level one, with no gear, experience or gold. You go in as if you had just loaded up the game for the first time. There are a series of 10 tasks per chapter (there are 4 chapters) that you must complete in any order to progress and earn the rewards that are set forth at the beginning of the season. You can only earn these rewards on one character per season, yet you may run as many characters as you’d like through the seasonal journey – but only one will walk away with the prizes, which are usually a 6 piece armor set, a portrait frame and a cosmetic pet.

If you want to use a pre-existing character that you’ve already learned and played with, you can select Rebirth at the seasonal screen. No matter the level, gear, or money of this character, it will start back at level 1 empty handed. Fear not, though, all that gear, levels and gold will be waiting for you once the season is over. See, at the end of each season, the character you created/Rebirthed,  will be added back to your regular roster of characters, along with any money and items you’ve accumulated.

It really is fun! I know it may not sound like it, but Blizzard knows how to keep people coming back to the well for their games, and Seasons in Diablo 3 is no different. Even better, I hear they’ve added Seasons to the console versions, as well. Everyone can enjoy the gear grind no matter their platform (except mobile, of course. Sorry, folks.)

I’m hoping to complete Chapter 4’s quests by the end of the week, time permitting, and collect my final rewards. If I can, this will be my 2nd season completed, and I can’t wait for Season 12, already.

9 1/2 Years

I checked my archives to be sure, and my first post for this blog goes back to January of 2008. That was the year I decided to try my hand at a blog on MSN Spaces, which went down the pipes a few years later. Seeing their demise, MSN Spaces allowed users to download their blog for safe keeping, or offered to transfer it to another site, free of charge. And that’s the story of how I became a WordPress user, in a nutshell.

For 9 1/2 years I’ve written irregularly on this blog about pretty darn much everything. From reposting news stories to my rambling reviews of movies and books. I’ve posted deep thoughts that may have sounded ignorant, inexperienced or immature to others. But I shared. It was pretty darn personal, at times, and while I might have been embarrassed to share as much face-to-face, the distance between me and your monitors made all the difference.

A Jack of All Trades, Master of None could be used to describe me and my blog, I suppose. I’ve tried my hand at it all. Lately, though, I’ve fallen away from writing/blogging because I just haven’t felt the pull to do so. I take that as a sign that I’m not doing something I find interesting enough to talk about. Or maybe I’m tired of talking about the same things over and over, just as you’re surely tired of reading about them. So, I asked myself yesterday – as a matter of fact – what’s next? Do I try to revive this nearly 10 year-old blog that I’ve poured random willy-nilly tidbits of information into, or do I try my hand at something new? Nooooo, not vlogging, we all know I can’t maintain that, either. I’m just not a video person. I have a face made for radio, as the saying goes.

A new blog, perhaps. Maybe it’s time for me to imitate one of my heroes, The Doctor, and regenerate into my next form. But what is the next me? What do I really want to blog about that I feel would keep my attention for awhile longer? And what about the 9 1/2 years of baggage this blog hauls along behind it in the Archives? Hmm. I may not be a real Time Lord, but maybe I need to study up a tiny bit more before I give in and let the golden blast of reformative energy transform me.

It’ll Be Too Late for Regrets

I was reminded tonight that I “use” to do X, Y, Z, in the past. I “use” to be like this, that, the other, in the past. That’s all true and good. I did “use” to do those things and be that way.

Know what else I “use” to do/be, in the past?

I use to be 26 years old at the time in question. I was ignorant of the world even at that ripe old age. I had a good job and making money I could blow every weekend. I had a wife I loved and would do anything for, and the most awesome son in the world. There were times when we would put our new baby to bed and sit up at night playing Canasta, Aggravation or watch a movie. We’d eat popcorn, have a Coke and just hang out together.

I never worried about house payments, medical bills that keep piling up, being laid off from a job I’ve been at for over 15 years. I was 128 pounds lighter, wore clothes I liked, enjoyed other people’s company even when I didn’t act like it. I was able to get around better, didn’t get winded standing up from sitting down, wasn’t on blood pressure medicine with the threat of a heart attack looming around every corner. My joints and bones didn’t ache and I could sit down and stand up without groaning and listening to my knees pop and grind. I never had to worry about getting the money to have a new roof put on, new windows, doors, building on a spare room, keeping 2 vehicles running. I never had to wonder when I could just sit at home with my family and watch a movie or play a card game or eat popcorn – all of us together at the same time – without having to synchronize our schedules or wonder if one of us was going to be rushing through it to get to the next “thing” we needed to do.

A lot has changed. But a few things are still the same. I still have a wife I love and would do anything for, and now I have 2 of the most awesome sons in the world. And sometimes, in the early hours of the morning when I first open my eyes and see daylight peeking through the slits of our bedroom blinds, “sometimes,” I still feel a ray of hope and all the cares of the world are lifted from my shoulders.

But yeah, nothing will ever be like it was back then. It’s not meant to. And when I am confronted with how much “I’ve” changed, I wonder if anyone else realizes that “I’m” not the only one. That’s life, I guess. We all live it. Every day. It don’t stop, but when it does, it’s too late to take back any regrets.

Love y’all. Be good.

Shadow on the Sidewalk

Shadow on the Sidewalk

(May 29, 2017)

I’m not sure what his real name is. The few message boards on the Internet that even mention him aren’t united on a single name. The Shadow Man is the one that suits him best, and that’s what I’ve come to know my tormentor by. He comes at night, in the darkness, and his presence makes the dark darker. It’s as if all light ceases to exist within the bubble that must surround him. Sometimes, when I squint out between the blinds or through the peephole, he appears to be smoking. Willing to life a single bright ember at the tip of a cigarette, and then it’ll fade away.

Six months of sleepless nights. Waiting, wondering and watching. My nerves are shot, my apartment locked up tight. But if I were to tell you the awful truth, I don’t think that would matter one bit should he come knocking on my door. If he ever made his way up the sidewalk to my apartment door, I believe he’d walk right in. Maybe not right through the door like a ghost, but I don’t think a lock would even stop him. There’s definitely something supernatural about this man, this Shadow Man. You don’t have to be sensitive to things like that to see it.

Six months ago he appeared. I was coming back from the bathroom, hoping I hadn’t missed the monologue to The Late Show, and as I passed the two windows that look out the front of my apartment, I saw that glow. It was like a miniature sun blazing outside in the void of darkness. His darkness. I lifted a few slats on the blinds and stared. He appeared to be in slacks, an outline of a trench coat, a fedora atop his head. Then again, he might be completely naked. The former just stood out as if it were more likely in my mind for some reason. He never moved, but I lowered the slats and took a place on my couch, nursing a fresh beer while attempting to concentrate on the talk show host and his mediocre jokes about the President.

The next night, and the next, and then the month after. It came down after the second month that I started sleeping during the day and staying awake at night. For some reason, I just felt safer that way. As if me being awake would fend off his advance. The only time I left the house during the day was to restock my beer, and after the fourth month, I ditched the beer completely for harder liquor. I’d given up job hunting. I’d brushed off the instant messages and social media posts from my friends who suddenly decided I was worth talking to again. My parents even tried to call a couple of times just a few weeks ago. I suppose they finally realized I took their demand seriously and wasn’t coming back home anytime soon. But the damage was done. It was too late, in my mind. They’d set the tone for whatever was to come.

My parents. Dan, my older brother, was serving overseas. He isn’t in any combat zones, or whatever they call them, but he has been stationed in Germany for the last couple of years. Here at home, I’ve always been the one my mom and dad called when they needed help. I was filling in for their patriotic son while he was away. Filling in, that is, until I finally decided to come out and tell them I was gay. Seven months ago I announced what I’d been hiding and holding in for several years. Since high school, at least. I had even dropped out of college a few months before because the harassment had gotten so bad. When I returned home, I figured I might as well tell them before news followed me home. Dan, of course, already knew, and had honored my request to keep it a secret. Maybe I should have honored that request myself.

“Not my son.” “Don’t know who you are anymore.” “How could you?!” “Such a disappointment!” So many hurtful things from people you’d been raised by, who had taken care of you from birth, through 12 years of school, who always said you’d be their baby boy … and then … “Never want to see you in this house again.”

So I found this apartment. I had money, but had quit my job that was closer to college when I moved back home. I also had credit cards I could fall back on. So I had a bare bones apartment in a decent enough complex. I’d attempted to fall back on some friends for support, but even a few of them were suddenly uncomfortable. Maybe I’d kept it too good a secret. The ones who said they supported me and “had an idea,” suddenly were never available to talk. But my friend alcohol was always there. I was depressed, defeated, in a hole wishing I could reach the dirt to pull it back in on myself.

Maybe. Just maybe. Could that have been the signal to my new friend to visit me? Maybe I’d brought him here myself. Maybe he fed off these feelings, these emotions. Maybe he could sniff out depression, that feeling of being lost, that desperation to be accepted. For 6 months I’d wallowed in pity, drank myself deeper into depression, and watched my savings dwindle to the point that I’d eventually have to get another job. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to do anything. And what was worse, no one else seemed to care to help me out of the pit I was in. No one cared to call or visit except … except for my new friend. My Shadow. My darkness. My new soulmate.

Daylight blinks through the blinds as a new day begins. I glance at the clock and it’s 6:45am on a Tuesday. I smile for the first time in months. A real smile. I glance out the window and see he is no longer there. He’s returned to wherever, waiting for the night to fall again. And this time, I think I’ll invite him in. Maybe have a few drinks together. My smile refuses to collapse now as I drift off to sleep thinking of how tonight, I’ll finally meet the mysterious stranger at the end of my sidewalk face to face. I’ll be at the door, waiting.

Waiting.