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Requiem for a Tower

I had a big plan today, lots of words on communication and self-absorption, but after six hours sleep and having to deal with two banks plus a credit card company? It has all just shrunk to the angsty whine I suspect it was always going to be. That’s the thing about proportion: you need something else to stick yourself beside to make it matter. Once I’m forced to go look up account balances and check transactions whilst grasping I could do with more income to protect against the unexpected? Everything else becomes pretty much irrelevant. It is easy to understand why the Renaissance guys never got around to making the big speeches and discovering the mysteries of the Universe when they had early death and hunger to consider first. Once you’re comfortable, then comes the life changing shit, and not before.

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I’ve realised too that because for many people social media is a far too accurate representation of their real self, that suggesting contentious issues as the basis of discussion means I’m opening my self to perhaps more abuse than I ever need to garner. I could quite simply pretend I don’t care about these bigger issues and stay silent, but some days it is satisfying to shake the can of Coke and put it back in the fridge, for the unsuspecting co-worker to come open and get a surprise from. You don’t do it every day because that’s cruel and unusual, but the occasional wake-up call has merit. Trying to reason however with people who have decided that nothing is fair unless everybody wins and nobody loses is, at best, unrealistic in an environment where the exact opposite is proven to be the case. At some point, inevitably, one has to deal with disappointment, and if you can’t? Things get messy.

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The salutatory lesson at the end of this is very simple: if you don’t want people to call you out? Keep your mouth shut. If you don’t want the grief? Don’t write the words and press ‘Send’ ^^ The moment you pop up and engage a random stranger in conversation, anything can and will happen, so unless you are prepared for consequence? Don’t start.

If you do this shit for a living and still get grief?

Learn to communicate betterer.

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Finally

Before I started here, I wrote an e-mail to a very dear friend in which I apologised for starting something I now no longer wish to pursue. It’s nothing at all to do with him, in essence, and absolutely everything to do with me. Another good, dear friend made a point, before I started Podcasting, that it had the potential to derail me from a greater task. I now understand he was right, but without the confidence and insight that period of my life afforded me, I would not have progressed this far to begin with. Sometimes, certain decisions are necessary in order for us to move forward, but when they become a hindrance? You need to make harsh choices based on what matters most.

Therefore, there will be no more Gaming Podcasting for me in the future.

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It is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but as it transpires I don’t want to pursue a career in that form of work, and I never will. Yes, the gaming is great and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t owe it a great deal (and still do) but ambition, ultimately, is having the confidence in my own words and ideas. To do that, there has to be more effort in that direction. I already have work ready, websites primed, all that is required now is the conscious shift away from the focus of pixels. That’s been happening for a while now anyway, but this way if I say that there’s a push forward and gaming is a *part* of my life but not what matters most? I can actually be honest with everybody for a change.

I think that’s going to matter a lot moving forward.

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My holiday was, like it or not, a life-changing experience. Giving a sense of scale to what you do is really very important. Understanding your significance in larger spheres, for starters, is summat that is beginning to have some tangible consequences. Watching how others deal with your opinions, that having them can often be tantamount to condemnation in the eyes of those who only see their own goals as mattering… I’m not here to crush competitors underfoot and smear other writers in a focused march to domination. My gaming experience has served as a good barometer of what to expect when I deal with other ‘players’ in the game of Real Life. Some people are only happy when you agree with them, and get the right hump when it is apparent than not only have you ideas, but aren’t afraid to wield them. I learn that salutatory lesson every day: if you choose to interact with someone, and then don’t like what they say or disagree… how do you react?

Words, never forget, are more powerful weapons than any hard earned quest reward.

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Choices are crossroads, quandaries before new and interesting directions. I came to grasp while I was away just how much I have been shaped not simply by the games, but the people I know who play and follow me, not simply on social media but beyond. Without Duncan, Mike, David, Allison, Liz, Julia, Ben, Hannah, Myles and all the other people that sprang forth from the wellspring of Computer Gaming acquaintances to become friends, confidantes and supporters, I’d simply not be here. Then there are those I only know by a user name or Twitter handle, or the random nature of a set of e-mail exchanges. The woman who found my blog and used it to keep her sane whilst her mother was in the Hospital, being treated for cancer. The guy who read every post and thanked me for the time and effort put into every one. Everyone has become a part of my whole and helped me forward, and I will remember them all, even if I don’t have the ability to recall them all.

More importantly, those who have hated on me and abused my choices and criticised my decisions? You make me stronger. I listen and learn. You may not wish that your words actually make me more determined to succeed, but they do. If I am confident the criticism is justified, it does get acted on. You didn’t expect that, now did you, but I have a great deal to thank Podcasting for. Mostly it made me realise that unless the output is something I’m proud of putting my name to? It isn’t worth the pain of criticism to begin with. In the end, I’ve had a really good run of content, I learnt a lot about myself in the process, but most importantly of all I now grasp that to move forward, I need to hold and wield the confidence of my own projects alone.

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All of this therefore points to a direction where, like it or not, people will lose interest with me once it becomes apparent I’m here for an ambition that doesn’t start and end with an MMO. That’s absolutely fine, and I’m prepared to accept that if people only want a single focus, then they’re entitled to come and go as they please. The fact remains, what I am is so tightly wound around gaming I’d find it impossible to separate writing from that anyway. It is what I am, and have always been. The only difference now, is that I am a gamer who wants to publish a novel. Probably quite a few.

Time to get started on that as a matter of urgency.

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The Test

I’m behind today, but not so far that this will cause issue. I should be doing stuff in a different order too, but for now I’m playing fast and loose with responsibility, because I can and it’s a lovely position to be in. Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about realistic expectations, because I’m terrible at them and keep giving myself more work to do when what I should be doing is concentrating on getting my own shit done first.

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Guilt is a powerful motivator. However there comes a point where you grasp that effort is never going to realistically match up to reward. When this happens, that’s normally the moment to be tough with yourself: what is worth more? Are you here to impress other people with your l33t skillz or is it more about a sense of satisfaction with the stuff you produce? I find myself now realising that the temptation is to just keep chucking myself into project after project because it seems like the right thing to do, when actually what would be more sensible is to step back for a bit and do nothing. One of my biggest issues in the past couple of years was the grief I got when I committed to a project that was never completed (and remains so, as it happens) because it ended up being far more than I could personally cope with. Now I am beginning to grasp the significance of committing myself to endeavours that simply cannot be done alongside everything else.

In fact, I’m sitting here now, looking at the time leading up to Christmas, and realising that if I want to move forward, stuff is already going to have to be sacrificed.

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Once upon a time I think this would have been a lot harder for me because I don’t know sometimes how to say no to other people, or indeed myself. However the benefit of age and experience is definitely beginning to tell. This time around, I will head myself off at the pass. The people I need to speak to I think will understand my reasoning better, mostly because I will make sure I explain it to them sufficiently and clearly. The only way I break out of my own prison of failure is to address the mistakes that are made, time and again, and put each one to rest. This one is a biggie: I need to stop creating unrealistic expectation for myself.

What matters most, right now, is a correct sense of proportion.

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Big Man on Mulberry Street

And as if by magic, it’s the working week again, and I’m back from a holiday that seems all the more dreamlike than California did last year. I went for a long walk around my neighbourhood last night and was immediately struck by just how quiet this place is, how little goes on when compared to the 24/7 full on noise and smell that New York shoves at you. I think that is why I prefer it to the West Coast, on reflection: there’s no hiding how shabby and unkempt NY can be, despite numerous attempts to cover it up. It’s that mate you have that never shows up to formal events looking immaculate, and you love them all the more for their refusal to play to situation. My daughter found the town genuinely frightening, and I can now understand why. For me, it’s a lot closer to my personality than I’d casually care to admit.

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I’ve not mentioned the apartment we stayed in, which was found via AirBNB and proved to be the master stroke for the ten days away. Apart from spotty WiFi there was pretty much nothing wrong with the place: huge, comfortable and allowing us not to have to play to a Hotel’s schedule or menu. It gave ten days where we could find a haven amongst what was often a chaotic city, quiet reflection in often debilitating heat and humidity. Most importantly however we could wash clothes, cook meals and eat pizza as if the place was ours. It gave the kids their own rooms too, which if we’d had to pay for the privilege in a hotel would have effectively doubled the price of the Holiday. I can fully understand why the Leisure Industry sees such a threat in private rentals, as the NY Yellow Cabs view Uber as threatening their livelihood. The Yellow Cabs may have an app now, but if you won’t let us specify a large car to take our bags to the Airport? You’re no use to us. There’s a lot of lessons to be learnt as the concept of ‘holiday’ changes, and not all of them will be learnt.

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I need to document a few last things: the experiences at Ground Zero are still quite fresh and raw, and with 15 years coming up next month, I think I might hold back on that until the correct time. The number of Space Shuttles I’ve seen now is two: we ‘did’ the USS Intrepid as our last day (and the Enterprise by definition), with the evening on Mulberry Street so I could cross ‘eat Cannoli in Little Italy’ off my Bucket List. Of all the things I did in the ten days it will be the Egyptian collection at the Met that sticks most in the memory, but the evening walks that struck at me most deeply. The city is its most seductive at night, and I am a sucker for a romantic gesture.

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I’ve got a lot of new stuff planned, which I’ll clue you in on starting when School does next month. For now however I am content to keep plugging away at the various strands of life already being worked on. That means I’ll be doing PT later today, editing Bond before lunch, and generally attempting to make sense of the mess that is my life in between. At least now I can be confident I’ve found a part of the US I’d not grow tired of living in. All that’s left now is to fill in some of the gaps in between.

 

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Home Again

Without wanting to jinx it, I seem to have adjusted back to UK time with considerable more ease this time around than I did last year. I’m aware I owe you coverage of the last two days of Holiday, but I’m still processing a lot of that anyway (because content made me shift in thinking), and pretty much as soon as I got back there was throwing myself into gaming, tidying plus scrambling back on the fitness wagon. The best news I could have had from the scales this morning was what I got: I’ve lost weight, despite doing about 10% less exercise over the last 10 days than I do normally. Exercise and heat will have a lot to do with this, plus I maintained the 36 push ups a day regime throughout.

Needless to say, I have a ton of new headers to make tomorrow, plus a lot more besides and I’ll be starting early. I’m back, and you’ll get normal service again starting tomorrow :D

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Quiet Life

There wasn’t really a plan yesterday, and so that meant a fair bit of wandering about, but as it transpires it ended up as one of the best days of the holiday. We again set the task for the oldest to find us a restaurant to eat in for the main meal of the day, and he picked what I thought by name might be a problematic suggestion. However, I should have more confidence in my son’s choices. The Times Square Bar and Grill was a triumph of 1970’s design, and served possibly the most amazing Vegetable Quesadilla I have ever tasted. In fact, I’ll freely admit I’ve been searching out recipes to try and repeat this when I get home.

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Design wise, I’d love to know who was responsible for the construction of this place. It was so 1970’s but utterly beautiful despite that. That made eating a pleasure and people watching even more so, and the place was far enough off the beaten track to mean we were able to eat quietly and not worry about the excessive tourism that Times Square produces. Of all the places we’ve visited this holiday, that’s one I will not miss one iota when we return home. It’s the most touristy of traps, packed with people and ways to separate you from your cash. It was horrible, and I hated every minute we were there. So, while Mr Alt went to buy a guitar, the kids and I went to Battery Park, which has free wifi and therefore became a couple of hours of hardened gaming in the sunshine.

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All told, being able to ‘play’ outside was fantastic. I’m close to L20, have a spare Americas-only Pokemon to trade with once they open that ability, and have been able to watch my kids have a great time doing something they enjoy in a completely different environment. To be honest, the app’s been a godsend when both youngest and oldest have bored of us dragging them about, and for me yesterday it was hugely satisfying to be able to complete evolutions and get XP, and at the same time sit and watch Battery Park move past. More importantly, a remarkable number of other people were playing, across a vast age range. It was a revelation for my husband, who finally grasps just how significant this phenomena has become.

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Then, as the sun went down over New York, we found ourselves at Ground Zero,and the Twin Towers Memorial. Seeing it at twilight was all the more sobering, and as I watched people taking selfies at the monument, I couldn’t help but think this was inappropriate. I understand the need to record holiday memories, but not like that. My son asked me where I was the day it happened: I told him I was with him, ironing in the front room of our house with him in his baby chair, when I saw the first plane hit. There were a lot of tears, especially when it became apparent that white roses are left in the names of each victim on the day of their birthdays. It is a very sympathetic and moving monument, and I’m extremely glad we went. Then we made our way home, via the new Westfield Shopping Centre built next to the site. It is a stunning building, which from the outside looks like the wings of a dove.

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I’m also not 100% comfortable with the Twin Towers site becoming a centre of mass consumption, but as has been established I am not the target audience for such things to begin with. There’s no argument however, America does large and showy better than just about anyone else: whether it is Times Square or shopping complexes, you’ll be hard pressed to better them.

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All Time High

It was inevitable I’d get behind, but in reality that’s not as big a deal as I’d make it out. The last couple of days have gravitated around Macy’s: my daughter and son have both saved spending money to buy clothing here, and even I took the plunge and have picked up a pile of cheap sportswear: even with the Brexit state of currency, I saved money, and it is entirely worth the effort to drag myself around sale racks. Plus, with Macy’s free wifi, I’ve managed to get almost to L19 at Pokemon Go, and as this is my only gaming fix right now? Very much required and needed.

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Monday was the Yankees (who won 1-0, in a game that at times was pretty average) and yesterday was the Empire State, which was beautifully queue free. My husband has a fear of heights, and I have to say I was proud of him going up as far as he did. Adults have been managing on two meals a day and yesterday’s Diner (Andrews) gave us top food, smoothies and Olympic coverage. In fact, as far as food goes so far, I think this beat the hipster vibe of Harlem. It was honest, decent and very delicious, and I even sneaked in a slice of Red Velvet to boot. All in all, a fabulous couple of days.

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There was a plan to do the USS Intrepid today, but I’m not sure that will come to pass: we only have two more days here so what now gets done is dictated by enthusiasm and not desire. I’ve visited everywhere I’ve wanted to, kids seem quite happy with what has transpired, so now it’s down to what else we can do in the time available. Mostly, I’m keeping out of discussions and having a shower, and hopefully by the time I’m done there’ll be a consensus.

Bring on the day :D