Posts tagged “writing

I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be

It seems as though I’ve let a bit of dust accumulate on this blog. After a rather busy month of blogging I suddenly vanished.


Like a ninja.

I’d love to blame it all on an incredibly busy social life. That’s not entirely true though. I admit the past few months have been a whirlwind of activity for me on the social front. I dare say its even been a bit overwhelming. I’m not a social slut but I find it really hard not to like people around here. Add alcohol to the equation and viola… I know more people up here than I ever did down south.

One would think that winning free tickets down south, locking down a permanent place to stay and having a budding social life would be enough to make me write for days and yet I find myself in a strange place mentally. All signs say I should be happy. For the first time in a long time things are looking up for us as opposed to us kissing the crusty ass cheeks of life but for the past few weeks my mind has been AWOL. I’ve felt like the little dude who runs my brain left it on autopilot. I can’t say I’m necessarily depressed or anything that emo. I’m just not happy. I’m not sad either. I just am and that’s what’s got me perplexed. Most days I feel like I’m seeing my life through a TV screen. I feel like I’m watching things happen as opposed to experiencing them completely. I’ve been involved in some pretty incredible things up here, met wonderful people and seen sights that I could have never dreamed of but still I feel disconnected from what’s happening around me.

I’m existing. Waiting almost.

I sometimes think it’s my mind’s way of putting me on guard for something it expects to happen because things are panning out well. I’m a pessimist. There’s no denying that. My life’s track record isn’t one where good things happen in succession. Whenever something good works out several bad things usually come in its wake. I’m antsy and on edge for some unknown reason and in turn it irks the hell out of me.

Some say it’s the wall everyone encounters when the first come up here. When exactly you hit it differs from person to person. Why it’s taken me so long to crash head first into this imaginative wall is beyond me but I suspect that’s what I’m contending with right now. I equate it to that mindless moment when you’ve been up for so long that you’re not even tired anymore. Your mind can’t focus on anything but won’t shut up for two seconds so you can sleep. Your body aches for rest but you toss and turn when you lay down. You end up checking out and go straight into zombie mode. No emotions. No concerns. Nom. Nom. Nom. You’re just there until your body says “no mas” and shuts you down. Oh how I wish sleep was an answer for this but it’s not. I’ve slept. I’ve somewhat adapted to the endless days. Rest is not an issue.

My mental constipation is.

So I took this post back to my roots. No pictures. No snarkiness. No comedy. Just a movie quote that relates to what’s on my mind. Who knows when I’ll get back on track. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day. Maybe never.

Only time will tell.

One Memory

Today I’m not going to present you with one of my usual wacky, upbeat and off-the-wall posts. There are no pictures. No jokes. The cynicism is absent and all that is left are some words from a broken heart.

My uncle was an interesting dude. I mean that right down to calling him a dude. His long curly golden locks that fell down to the back of his neck and bronzed tan told the tale of a man of who loved to be outdoors. He loved it all. Fishing, hiking, biking, sailing. If it involved being outside, he was there. He was a man after my own heart because he would never go to a doctor unless it was extremely dire. Considering he kept himself in such great shape he never had a need to go. His philosophy was that doctors were like mechanics – they’ll find something wrong even if there’s nothing. Who needs that burden? Just live each day as if it were your last and enjoy yourself.

He was incredibly intelligent man. You wouldn’t guess it by looking at him but that man probably forgot more things than most people learn in their entire lives. He was a jack-of-all-trades when it came to knowledge – which made him a fierce conversationalist. He knew about every topic you could bring up. Not a know-it-all by any means but he knew just enough about everything to hold his own (and then some).

I don’t remember much my childhood but do I recall that he, my aunt and his daughter (from a previous marriage) would take me out to Montauk Point every so often to hang out at their cottage for a weekend or so. It was a blast for me. I was a city kid and getting to take the 2 hour drive out to the tip of Long Island was an adventure in my eyes. We would have barbeques, hang out on the beach and of course fish. That was my uncle’s thing right there. He had a little speed boat that he would take right out onto the Long Island Sound and fish right off the coast. That of course meant I had to go with him. I’ve never been a big fan of open water. That probably stems from an allergic reaction to not being able to swim. It’s like I tell Suzanne all the time “I swim well… underwater”.

He took me out for the first time in his boat despite my adamant protests against it. He guaranteed me I would have fun so I reluctantly went along. We went out far enough so that the hills along the coast looked like humps on the horizon – far beyond my comfort depth of knee-high water. He dropped anchor and we bobbed along like a drunken buoy. He pinned a worm to a hook and fastened it to a rod that he later handed to me. After an express course in the basics of fishing and how to use the rod we got on with the time-consuming process of waiting for a bite. As we sat out there I was amazed at how comfortable I was with the whole experience. Normally I’d be on edge dreading that the water splashing into the boat would sink us, but he calmly chatted away about anything and everything putting my mind at ease. My uncle never treated me like a kid. He always talked to me like an adult so even though I didn’t quite get some of his political or pop culture references I still appreciated the fact he conversed with me as an equal.

After an hour or so of no fish activity he spotted a bunch of gulls circling around closer to shore. We quickly packed up our rods and pulled up the anchor. To my shock he turns to me and says something that I’ll never forget…

“Okay. Swing us around to over there!”

I was stymied. I had never driven a car much less piloted a boat. He ripped away at the pull cord and got the motor buzzing. I was paralyzed with fear but eager to man the wheel. I hopped in the pilot’s seat and in a flash we were off. He instructed me how to cut through the waves as we made a bee line for the hot spot. I was in a zone. It was exhilarating to leave fear behind for a minute and just enjoy what I was doing. The water spraying on my face cooled the oppressive heat of the sun above and I was feeling on top of the world.

That was until he whispers to me, “You better slow down. There’s a reef somewhere around here. Can’t remember where exactly. Don’t want to hit that. It’ll rip us right open.”

I froze once again and quickly relinquished control of the boat to him. Thankfully we never got anywhere near the reef. Although we returned to shore later that day with no bounty I still had an awesome time. We all went out for ice cream and a movie later that night. Tucker: A Man and his Dream was playing. It was a terrible movie but I didn’t mind it because I was spending time with the family. My uncle, being the eclectic type of person he was, enjoyed it very much. It was yet another piece of ammunition for his vast arsenal of conversational topics.

Last Friday night, he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke that put him in a coma. His neurologist declared him brain dead from the amount of trauma he endured and that he was in a vegetative state. On Sunday, June 12th 2011 at 8:52pm I lost a person who I thought was invincible. It really pains me to write this part. I’m always criticized for not showing any emotions when it comes to death and tragedy but that’s just how I am. I have my moments, away from prying eyes, where I grieve in my own way. I’m no use to anyone if I’m an emotional wreck so I always have an unshakable, serene appearance whenever faced with moments like this – or at least I try to. I regret not speaking with him much in recent years. I remember that last phone conversation I had with him revolved around troubleshooting some computer issues.

I didn’t know him as well as I should have and I blame myself for that. I do cherish the time that we did spend together. He was one of only a few men I put on that upper tier alongside my father.

Goodbye Uncle. I’m sorry I never got a chance to say that to you. You will be missed.

Rest in peace.

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Freshly Sketched: Pike the Mad Elf

Game Name: Legacy
Game System: Palladium RPG
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Character Name: Pike
Game History: The Palladium Roleplaying Game System was my first foray into serious gaming. At the time I was knee-deep in Marvel Super Heroes and was gearing up for my first venture into Vampire: The Masquerade. I was surrounded by other closet gaming geeks therefore I was privy to knowledge not known to the likes of mortal men and women. One tasty bit of information came in the form of the super secret (but no so secret) location of a magical building called The Forbidden Planet.

I know. It just sounds nerdy, right?

It’s hard to describe what this was. It was like a gaming strip club for nerds. You had to ascend a flight of steps lined with Manga posters and collectors item toys before you actually reached the main floor. Flanking the stairway to your right was the Fortress of the Cashier post manned by the Sentry Geek. There he or she (depending on who was stationed at the time) would stand amidst a halo of gaming paraphernalia. From dice to cards to pewter figurines, you name it, the Sentry Geek had it. He was a bastion of worldly wisdom and would wait patiently overlooking the book and toy landscape. The Sentry Geek was a prophet and quite often could answer your questions with only a few words. The shop itself was narrow yet stretched for as far as the eye can see. Books upon books lines the walls. Statues, posters, painting supplies, board games, tv and movie memorabilia and even a life-size Wookie could be found throughout the tight spaced isles. It was a hobbyist’s wet dream and a playground for the gaming elite. It was here that the Palladium Fantasy RPG first caught my eye. I had long wanted to run a Lord of the Rings style game and this system sang to me like a siren on the horizon.

I ended up purchasing a total of 6 books for this particular game over the course of the two years (and still have them to this day).

The Character: Pike was by far my most favorite character to date and that’s saying a lot considering some of the outlandish roles I’ve had over the years. He was my first deviation from the “me look” and persona. He was brash, egotistical, arrogant and could start a fight in an empty room. Some could say I act like that now but back then it was a stretch for a low-key cool cat like myself.

The story took place in a world called Vale. It was a place of magic, mystery, mystical creatures, and kingdoms of men. Pike grew up in a time many thousands of years after the fall of the great Elven kingdoms. It was the Age of Man and not many of his people remained. Those that did went into hiding or had assimilated into human society, adopting their ways and their Gods. He grew up in a small farming community on the outskirts of the Western Empire called Thenyn. The first of three children by way of Varius and Ecstacia, Pike spent the early years of his life following his father’s footsteps. Varius,  the town blacksmith, taught his son the trade and had him working in the forge before he could even hold a weapon.

At the age of 12 Pike’s life took an unfortunate turn. Thenyn was attacked by a marauding horde of Midland trolls. They were merciless in their assault and slaughtered everything in sight. His mother and sisters managed to escape the onslaught but his father perished trying to save his fellow villagers. Those that didn’t find death at the end of a blade were taken captive and marched south towards the Old Kingdom Mountains. The trolls were doing the bidding of a ruthless band of mercenaries called the Red Blade. They had established a labor camp at the base of Mount Icera and were importing slaves from neighboring lands to work the quarry. For years he toiled without hope in sight bearing the loss of his family. Salvation came years later in the form of a liberation force from the Western Empire. Those slaves that managed to survive the years of torment were freed and the Red Blade was vanquished. With nothing left for him to go back to, Pike wandered aimlessly with his friend Rodius in the hopes of finding a new life.

Their travels brought them as far south as the Timaro Kingdom. There they found fame and fortune on the wrong side of the law. Life on the road had transformed them into thieves and hustlers, skills perfectly suited for the criminal underworld. By the age of 18 Pike and Rodius’ guild ruled Timaro from the shadows having put down all other major criminal organizations in the city in less than two years. Many bloody guild wars were fought but the Shadow Dancers walked away with an iron fist grasp on all illegal activity that transpired in the region. Life finally had purpose and they were on top of the world. That is until fate intervened in his life once again.

A man with and outstanding gambling debt requested audience with the guild leaders. Such a privilege was rarely ever granted but was approved regardless. To Pike’s surprise his was a face from his past; an old merchant that frequently traded with this village. He shared with him unbelievable news. He told of how his mother and sisters survived the massacre and that he had seen them as recently as the past year. Overwhelmed with emotion he absolved the man of his debt and relinquished control of the cartel to his long time friend. He set forth back to the Western Empire on a journey that would change the face of Vale forever.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • The character Pike spanned through a complete campaign that lasted about a year and respawned later in a game I ran several years ago.
  • He was totally a randomly generated character to begin with. I had modified a character generator derived from a Japanese RPG called Mekton that my friend had. That generator has been the basis for whipping up characters in almost every game I’ve run since then. It’s easy enough to customize to suit whichever system. Currently I modified it to work for the Dragon Age RPG. If you’re feeling really geeky (or just plain curious) give it a try. I even left some virtual dice on the Net for you. 😉
  • I tend to use the name Pike (or variations of it)  in video games and MMORGs as well. For example I’ve played under the name Lord Pike the Undying in World 9 of  Tribal Wars for years now. Course some of my tribe mates will dispute that since I’ve pretty much gone AWOL since coming up north. ;p
  • I’ve recently started adapting the first campaign Pike was involved into written work. Nothing serious though. Just a recounting of what went down told from the perspective of someone who knew him in the game. You have to understand that this game was run back in the olden days of ’90 – ’92 when computers where barely starting to break into households. All my documentation was handwritten in a notebook and about couple dozen pieces of paper.  Much of what I’m writing comes from memory and those few notes that I kept at the time. I’m trying to retell the story before feeble mind loses it forever. If you’re ever bored and want to kill some time reading pseudo-fan fiction just ask for a copy.