Friendship lego

Friendship is a beautiful thing.

Friendship is an especially beautiful thing when someone presents you with a Lego nyan cat that they created from scratch because they know you like Lego and cats and nerdy internet stuff, all because you took the time to listen to them when they were having a bad day.

Pay it forward, folks.

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Wearing my geek on my sleeve

True story: I got my high school boyfriend because I was wearing a Princess Leia t-shirt.

This was before the prequels were released. It might have even been before all of the special editions were released. It was spring of 1997 (which seriously was only about five years ago, right?) and Star Wars merchandise was not exactly easy to find. I believe that particular shirt, a ringer with a big glittery decal of Princess Leia with her blaster, was from Hot Topic.

Leave me alone, I was 16.

Anyway, while hanging out after school one day, this tall, blonde haired, blue eyed guy who was extremely out of my geeky league turned to me and said, “Is that the Millenium Falcon behind Princess Leia? Or a B-Wing?”

“It’s the Millen–” I began, glancing down at the shirt. And then I blinked. “Uh. B-Wing,” I replied. I’d never even noticed that before. And who was this guy that he actually knew what a B-Wing was? He then launched into a discussion with me about Star Wars that ended up last for over an hour.

We ended up dating for three years.

Sixteen years later, I’m still just as much of a geek (I believe my husband fell for me because I started discussing Final Fantasy while sitting on a ski lift with him). Now, of course, being a geek is trendy to the point where I don’t even like using the word anymore. I’m just me, but my favorite movies are still Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and I read Harry Potter every year and I’m completely obsessed with Borderlands 2. Oh, and I bought a 3DS XL purely to play Pokemon. And what I love now is that I can find some shirts and merchandise that are downright fashionable, all while having a geeky flair to them. I can almost feel like an adult while still being true to myself! I’ve collected some of my favorites from Etsy here.

By the way, Etsy? It’s like a haven for awesome geeky finds. It’s also a haven for questionable knock off goods that look like they’re better suited for Ebay, but let’s ignore that for now and bask in the glory that is handmade geek stuff.

My Star Wars AT-AT Pet

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By EngramClothing

I’m proud to say that I own this shirt and wear it pretty often and I usually receive compliments on it as well. Because I enjoy copying off of my big brother, AT-ATs are one of my favorite vehicles in Star Wars. And dogs are just the best. So an AT-AT dog being walked by a little girl?  ❤ ❤ ❤

I love that the store has that design on a few different items, such as a skirt and dress. Oh, and they also have a shirt of Darth Vader riding a bicycle and another of a stormtrooper wearing a suit, so that’s pretty amazing as well.

X-men Mystique inspired apron

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By HauteMessThreads

I didn’t realize that aprons were a thing that people were wearing again until I joined Pinterest. Then I logged in one day and was like, “Oh, that’s a cute dress,” and clicked on it only to realize it was an apron. I confess that I don’t entirely get it, but then, I don’t entirely love cooking either. Wait, am I allowed to say that? I’m pretty sure the internet, and blogging in particular, has become the one true home of amazing cooks. I mean…I can cook. I just find the entire process really stressful and also I suck at taking pictures of my food as I prepare it. How people manage to make raw chicken look good is beyond me.

Anyway! I’ve never wanted an apron in my entire life, but the other day when I was trolling Etsy for interesting geek related things, I found an apron that was inspired by Mystique. When I found myself checking my bank account to figure out whether or not I could purchase said apron, I realized that I had probably gone insane. Seriously though, this thing is badass! If I were the type of woman who held dinner parties and cooked a ton of delicious baked goods for my friend’s kids, I would totally want this apron to complete my look of grown up geek. I love the fact that it definitely references the mutant without beating you over the head. Subtle geekiness. I like it.

Fingerless Dragon Egg Khaleesi gloves

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By Mareshop

I found these because I had just found a dragon egg necklace on HBO’s site that I thought was cool, but assumed Etsy could probably do even better. As I had assumed, there were a ton of dragon egg necklaces on the site, so many that they all blended together. That’s probably why these gloves stood out so much to me. I’ve been wanting fingerless gloves forever now (my office is usually freezing), and I love the style of these. Again, they’re subtle. Looking at them, people wouldn’t necessarily guess that I’m pretending to be Khaleesi even though she’s not even my favorite character in Game of Thrones.

But I would know. And that’s all that matters.

Rain Poppies: A Folk Tale

As I mentioned before, I used to be quite an avid player of World of Warcraft. And while I play far less these days than I used to, I still love the game and the story behind it. One of the biggest gifts WoW has given me (other than some amazing friends) is a shot in the arms as far as creativity goes. I’ve always liked writing, you see, but after college it seemed all of my inspiration dried up. I didn’t write any fiction at all, and even my beloved livejournal fell by the wayside. I think I was just too caught up in my hectic New York City lifestyle to even think about writing anymore.

When I started playing WoW, I was immediately drawn to the story of the game. I didn’t even know that things like raiding existed, nor did I care. I was more concerned with making up a story for the elf druid that I was playing. It made her more interesting to think about why she was doing what she was doing and where she’d come from, even if I didn’t know the lore very well. This is something that I really love about WoW, and MMOs in general. Your character is who you decide. You’re not playing through someone else’s storyline. Unless you’re in Uldum, in which case you’re just a plucky sidekick to Harrison Jones.

I’ve always said that I wish I could get a job at Blizzard making up incidental lore that has absolutely no effect on the game’s storyline. Things like the life story of the stable master in Agmar’s Hammer. Or writing a story about an elixir that trolls take to let them share dreams with each other. Or, my favorite, coming up with uses and details behind the various herbs in the game. I still have dreams of writing an entire herbal guide to WoW one day that has no details on how to quickly level up herbalism, but plenty on the history of sungrass and how it got its name.

Inspired by Pandaria when the latest expansion was released, I decided to write a folk tale about how another herb,  the Rain Poppy, got its name, and I thought I would share it here. It’s meant to be a fairy tale, not a historical account, so some of the details won’t make perfect sense (the same way that the Grimm tales don’t make perfect sense in the real world). I hope you enjoy it!

Rain Poppies

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Once upon a time, there was a man name Xiaotong. Xiaotong was a soldier in the emperor’s army. He spent his years marching through the land, using his spear to fight in the wars that his emperor commanded him. He was happy with his life. He was a soldier through and through. One day while scouting he a song rising up from valley below him. He followed the sound of the song until he came over a rise and saw a woman kneeling by a river, washing a basket of clothes. She was beautiful, with a voice like the breeze on a perfect summer day. He watched her for a long time, listening to her song and watching her work. Before she had even finished, he decided he would speak with her once her song was done. When the last word was sung, he moved forward to approach her. She heard the sound behind her and glanced over her shoulder. With one look at him, she jumped up from her washing and took off at a run.

Xiaotong chased after her, only wanting to learn her name. He was a soldier and he could run, even with his armor. But she was fast too, much faster than he would have expected her to be. He watch mystified as she ran sure footedly along the river, dancing across the rocks in it to get to the other side. But Xiaotong didn’t give up, still running after her, his heart pounding through his chest. He called for her to wait, but that just made her run faster.

They reached the end of the valley and Xiaotong thought for sure he would have her since the climb up was difficult, even for a soldier. But once the climb began, Xiaotong had another surprise. The girl jumped onto the wind and ran along it, the leaves that had been swirling through the air dancing around her feet. Xiaotong’s eyes widened. Never in his years of traveling with the army had he seen such a thing.

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Playing “Gone Home” made me feel as if I were…home.

For Christmas this year, my dear friend gave me a Steam code for Gone Home by The Fullbright Company. I’d heard about this game several times since it was released over the summer, and I wanted to play it, but kept getting distracted by the urge to play another ten hours of Borderlands 2. So when I received the gift, I was excited. Part of me was hesitant as well. I knew it was a game of 90s nostalgia, and some recent not so awesome events have made me miss that time of my life a lot more than I normally do. I was a little worried I’d be crying the whole time. I finally did play it the other day though, and I’m so glad that I did because the game really did make me feel as though I had gone home.

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The first thing I saw when I entered the game was a loading screen featuring a mix tape. At that point, I was already hooked. I spent many a night during my teenage years trying to craft the perfect mixtape for myself and my friends. In fact, back then receiving a mixtape was one of the finest gifts in the world, proof that the person who gave it to you really cared about you (and probably that they were trying to send some message to you in the songs they had selected). That just doesn’t exist now, and that makes me feel sad (and old). So I was already smiling as the game loaded up.

A quick summary of the game: It’s the middle of the night on June 7th, 1995 and you’ve come home from a year abroad to a house that your family moved into when you were off having fun in Europe. No one’s home and there’s a crazy storm going on outside, and by the way, this house is super creepy.  Through exploration, you can piece together the story of what’s happened while you were gone.

For the next three hours or so, I explored this house, picking up objects and examining them, reading letters and forms, finding tapes with some thoroughly 90s riot grrrl music on them, discovering secret passages, and best of all, finding the objects that played a voiceover from the younger sister in the game. Those voiceovers were what let me slowly put together what had happened here.

Perhaps it’s because in 1995 I was a 14-year-old girl who played the drums in a riot grrrl band and had an obsession for all things creepy that this game really appealed to me. When I found the bright red hair dye in the bathroom that was clearly supposed to be Manic Panic, I was grinning because of course I had used the exact same color on my hair back then.  And then I found an Ouija board in a hidden compartment in a wall, and it brought back memories of playing with one of those with my best friend, trying to figure out if the guys we had crushes on actually liked us back. A folder in the closet that was clearly supposed to be made by Lisa Frank? Well shit, I had one of those too! And so in its efforts to capture the tone of the 90s, this game was perfect for me, someone who was a teenager in the 90s.

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I made my way through the house and discovered the story, and by the time the game ended, my eyes were stinging with tears. The story of the people in that house certainly wasn’t a mirror image of my life, but it made me remember those years and miss them and miss my Pennsylvania hometown and friends.

I went to check Steam afterwards to make sure I hadn’t missed anything (I had), and was generally dismayed by the reactions I read by users there. Despite receiving a lot of critical acclaim and generally glowing reviews, the forum posts written by people who had just finished playing the game were generally negative filled with a lot of “wtf, this game is stupid, it’s not a game at all! I was expecting a horror story!” I feel like those people missed the point.

They are right though, it’s not a game in the traditional sense. It’s an interactive story, and the story is about the world that we actually live in (albeit 20 years ago) not one of fantasy or science fiction. So if you’re expecting to be outrunning zombies or blasting away at aliens or something with a gigantic gun, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you just want to discover a story told in a great atmosphere and you keep an open mind about it, you might love it too.

In fact, my only real criticism of the game is that there was one storyline in it I wish they had done more with. The house is as much a character in the game as the missing family is, and I wish the history of the house had been told with a bit more detail. It would have made exploring  that much more fun.

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But I have to wonder if most of the criticism is coming from young men in their early 20s who have no frame of reference for where this game came from. I work with a lot of people in their 20s, and while I love all of them, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that when I was playing drums in that riot grrrl band, they were only about six-years-old, and only really cared about their Power Ranger toys.  The story of the game is a timeless one, but since the setting is what makes it comes alive and it’s definitely not played like a traditional action game, I guess I can understand why some people don’t see the point. I simply think they’re missing out if they don’t put aside their notions of what a game should be to enjoy what this game is.

Overall, I obviously loved this game, even if it did make me feel homesick. I expected that, especially since the best friend I have had since I was 13 is very sick and I wish more than anything that I was back in PA with her. And perhaps that’s part of the reason why this game resonated with me and inspired me as well. I want to make a mixtape, complete with illustrated tape cover for my best friend for her to listen to while she’s recovering and I hope she gets the message of love and hope that I will undoubtedly work into it.

Nostalgia can be dangerous, but it can be hope as well. For that, I’m giving Gone Home 9/10 mixtape masterpieces.

A New Year’s Resolution

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On New Year’s Eve this year, I thought about the resolutions that I wanted to make (and most likely not keep). There were the typical resolutions like, “Man, I would really like to look the way I did for my wedding again,” and offbeat resolutions like, “This is the year I will learn how to ride a horse!” But there was one resolution that I decided to make that is probably the one that I care most about (yes, even over the mythical “getting in shape”) is getting back into blogging again.

I’ve been blogging since I was in college, over a decade (eesh) ago. Back then, we mostly used livejournal. Mine still exists, and I occasionally read it when I feel the need to cringe. More recently, I had a blog about World of Warcraft called The Dancing Tree, but as I haven’t been playing WoW a ton, I don’t have as much to say about the game. And so for the past year, I’ve been trying to think about what I would like to write about that might actually have some sort of audience.

As I’ve gotten older, I find it more and more difficult to define myself by any of the labels that the internet likes to fit people into. Am I still a geek, a gamer, a punk, or a graphic designer? Sure, but those things aren’t all that I am. And so my  blog isn’t only about that either. I plan to talk about gaming (even WoW) and cool little design things I find and fun apps or phone accessories or neat online companies that I enjoy or writing (I have dreams of being an author). I’ll probably also talk about my cats, because cats.

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The title of the blog comes from a song called “Mass Romantic” by the band New Pornographers, and I’ve used it back in the day on my old livejournal as well. I like the title, and I’ve always thought it was a good one to tell a story about a life online. I also like the idea of returning to my blogging roots after all this time.

I’m looking forward to writing again, and I can’t wait to see where this goes. Thanks for checking in!

-Faye