Prose from the Peak District

My fourth installment of “Letters from London”, snippets of emails which I’ve sent to Beth (because I’ve lacked the time to both blog and email about my adventures). Enjoy!

***

Eugene and I have been getting on very well! We understand each other in a way almost no one else does. We appreciate the little things that every one else overlooks (with the only exception being you- you understand me better than he does). For instance, we spent a good deal of time talking about Skyrim over dinner, or when our conversations lull any mention of Game of Thrones will put it right back on track. Most of the conversations we had were not at all strained or affected by tiredness and grumpiness. I would have thought that I’d be sick of his company after so much time together, but it’s not like that at all. However little I see him, I think we’ll always remain somewhat close, which is surprising to me. The way that he handled my decision to go on the ghost walk is particularly impressive. (He does get pretty cranky with the relatives and can be generally unpleasant to be with sometimes, but for the most part it’s quite understandable.)

***

Merry Christmas darling! That snuck up quickly! Eugene and I left York this morning (having a delicious home-cooked breakfast and picking up two more copies of Mortal Kombat before we did so) for the mountainous Peak District. I’m finding it hard to concentrate with the TV on for “background noise” which Eugene needs but I find distracting. The pith of it is, we arrived around lunchtime, relaxed for an hour and then (after Eugene had napped) set out for a walk around 3:30. If you’ll recall, the sun sets around 4pm here, and so as we were leaving the barkeep warned us it would be dark within half an hour. He inquired where we were heading, and Eugene answered we didn’t know, just out for a stroll to climb any mountain we felt like. I was worried it might be the last they heard of us.

As it turned out, we sloshed through the mud (due to a light but persistent drizzle), through farmland and along the road in a big circle. We walked with sheep, saw the barn where Eugene slept last time he was here, and generally walked around in the rain. It was a little uncomfortable for me, but also fun. I’m finding it too difficult to concentrate, so perhaps the attachments will better sum it up.

Tomorrow we plan to set out for a breathtaking (and probably swollen) waterfall 10km away. It’ll probably be an all-day hike in the rain, but I’m still looking forward to it. I’ll be packing everything in plastic bags to avoid them getting too wet. Ily!! I hope you have a wonderful day <3

***

Eugene and I had a pretty big and challenging day. Breakfast at 8 (though we were still tired) and a delayed hike starting at 9:50 or so. Our plan was to walk up to Kinderscout, the mountain several miles away, scale the peak to see the waterfall (which we expected to be pouring because of the persistent rain) and circle round the long way to get back. It was planned to be approximately six or seven hours long, and with us we brought food, water and a small stove for heating soup and water.

In essence, the trip started out great. The weather was cold but sunny, our walk was brisk and kept us warm (I even ran the last section of Jacob’s Ladder) and we had a great time climbing turnstiles and practicing our “fainting goat” technique on innocent sheep. Eugene had predicted we’d be the only ones mad enough to go hiking on Christmas day, but we ended up seeing perhaps seven different groups of people throughout the day, including a very lovely couple in their late forties who were very well-equipped and made the climb every year. With them came a strong mist down the mountainside, and with a word of caution (and admonition for failing to bring a compass), they pointed out the trail to us.

We strode into the fog confident and cheerful, but it was not long before the constant cold and wetness got us down. It became hard to see more than twenty metres ahead; look closely at the pictures I’ll attach and see if you can spot Eugene in one of the landscape ones. Even with the occasional cairn (pile of rocks) marking the trail, it was not always easy to see where we were going, and without knowing our bearings, the map was of little use. We started drawing arrows in the dirt to find our way back if we needed to return the way we came for some inexplicable reason. We progressed over mountains, past rocks, through swampy peat bogs and over rivers, and in the many places where there was no visible path, we made our best guess until we became quite thoroughly lost. My hands, in spite of my snowgloves, got so cold that I could not feel or move them very much at all. The pain was so intense I genuinely believed the lack of circulation was causing my hand to die, so I pulled my glove off and struggled to unzip my jacket so that I could warm it slightly under my armpit. After a few minutes I had enough feeling back to flex my fingers, so they went back into the muddy glove. Things looked bleak.

Very fortunately, we found a lone traveller who had just been to the waterfall to take pictures, though after half an hour of waiting it was still to foggy and he had given up. He pointed the way, and gratefully we set out on the new path we found, marking our way constantly as we did. We did eventually stumble across the waterfall, though we could see little and the bitter cold and rain made it most uncomfortable to linger. A small cave (with the curious presence of sheep droppings – how did they get so high up the mountain? Or was it a mountain hair of some kind?) afforded us some meagre shelter from the wind, but Eugene didn’t want to stop to eat or drink, though I’d been hungry for hours and rather desperately wanted some mead to warm me. So we pressed on.

There were many paths to take, and we got quite lost again. Another traveller gave us some unhelpful advice, and at my urging, we decided not to go on the circle route and just head back the way we came.

But even that was not so easy. Tired, soaked, cold and desperate, we decided to try a path paved in stones rather than slushing it through the mud. The immediate comfort and ease of the surface seemed so appealing, so with barely any hesitation we blundered down it. But when it ended suddenly at a fence, we were uncertain what to do. We identified a potential spot onthe map where we might have been using a big rock formation as a waypoint, and by our estimate, following the wall would lead us back to the path.

It didn’t. It led us to two more fences and a muddy road that looked like a car had driven through it. But Eugene found a place where three fences intersected, and nearby we found a medieval cross relic which we assumed was the “Edale Cross”, and thus we had a good idea of where we were on the map. And with reasonable confidence Eugene pointed out where he thought we should go. I thought we should have gone the other way, but I trusted his sense of directions above mine.

The path we took got us lost once again, and we were seriously wondering if we’d get back. Sunset was two hours away, and it had taken us twice as long to get to where we were. We had food and water enough for a day or two, my headlamp to guide us in the dark and my small multitool, but we certainly wouldn’t have much warmth if sun set. We hadn’t even stopped for food or to relieve ourselves because it was too cold.

To my great relief, and a lucky guess or two, we found the path we had come from that lead us back to Jacob’s Ladder. Unfortunately, after that we diverged from our original path and took another unfamiliar route. It was a tad risky, but we were walking through towns and there were signs, so even though we hadn’t come that way before, we hoped it would lead us back to Edale.

And at last, it did. We got back, exhausted cold and hungry around 3:30. We asked for food, asked how to get the shower working, then set about getting into some cleaner, warmer clothes, and having some long-overdue food. I also managed to open the can of soup with my tiny bottle-opener. It was very painful and took a long time, but I managed to slice about a third of the can open so it could be poured.

We watched movies, played a little game, and now it’s past 11. To think we nearly went to sleep at 6. I’d better go, Eugene is trying to sleep despite the light.

Ily honey. Might go for a less challenging walk to the forest and lake tomorrow, though I’m not too keen on heading out into the rain again if it can be avoided. I’ll let you know how it goes. Talk to you soon <3

***

Today Eugene and I did not feel like going out in the slightest. Although the sun appeared to be visible in the sky, the forecast suggested rain, and I had not so quickly forgotten this pain in my knee, the biting cold and the aching tiredness. It filled me with fear to think of going out, so we decided to have a day in and see how we felt later on. We stayed in the room and played retro games on the emulator he downloaded (specifically The Itchy and Scratchy Game from our childhood, which was so crazy hard that we couldn’t pass it without cheating. It seems that even fifteen years down the track we maintain the same level of skill), enjoying the warmth and comfort.

However, this was not to last. When we finally pulled back the curtains, the sun had risen in a clear sky, and we were wasting a beautiful day. I wanted to take the long path to to the forest and lakes while the weather was good, but Eugene wanted to take the short path up the nearest mountain so that we’d at least have a view and not just mist and rain from the top. Fortunately we ended up climbing Mam Tor (mother hill), which took about three hours there and back.

At first the weather was beautiful, and I quickly overheated and stripped off layers. But soon enough my knee remembered its ache and my ankle began to strain. The path became more mud than stone in many places, and I sunk to my ankle within a few minutes of the climb. But we persisted, trying hard to keep spirited as we scaled the popular paved spine of mountains. Mam Tor might refer to a specific mountain, but it’s commonly used to describe a string of mountains all next to each other, and you can walk along the top of them quite comfortably. There wasn’t much shelter from the wind though, and when we stopped for lunch, it grew bitterly cold. We had to lay our outer jackets on the grass to avoid our pants getting wet, and it was only a minute or two before my fingers went numb, and then started to hurt. It wasn’t a particularly comfortable meal, though we enjoyed the elderflower and apple jelly I had bought from a Christmas market. I hope you and your parents enjoy it too!

It started to rain not too long after that, so after climbing a few more mountains and peering over a cliffside, we decided to head back. Fortunately the wind was quite low so we were able to use our map without fear of it being ripped to pieces, and it wasn’t so cold that we couldn’t stop to deliberate. We found a promising path, slushing through mud and slipping on grass, until we got back to the main road and followed it to the inn. Part of our journey took us within a metre of a heavily pregnant cow, and a number of bulls that eyed us worryingly. It was almost as exciting as seeing the panda-coloured herry coos yesterday! And also a little dangerous.

Once back at the inn, we showered, cleaned our boots (though they’ll take ages to dry) and settled down to watch Ace Ventura 2. Comfortable days inside really are a pleasure.

***

I only really have two days left in London, and I can’t wait to leave! I love England, I do, but the thrill of winter only lasts so long, and it’s expensive to be on holidays! I only have £45 left, largely because I’ve been paying for Eugene and I in entry costs and food, but I’ll have to be careful how I spend the last of my cash. It looks like I’ll be wracking up a sizable credit card bill meanwhile! [In fact, I just cut down on spending and borrowed money from Eugene. Huzzah!]

***

Eugene and I left Edale today. It was the tiny mountain town we were based in while we explored and hiked and trekked. We had a rather leisurely morning in our room, caught the train to Sheffield then deposited our luggage in lockers while we went to pass the time. We chose to do this by seeing The Hobbit, which was excellent, though it meant missing lunch. We had an early dinner at a pub (which was surprisingly lovely) and then realised that Eugene had thrown his ticket out. When we talked to the ticket booth, they would not replace it, so he bought another one for £44.55 (~$70).

I’m really looking forward to returning to London and getting into clothes that don’t have mud on them!

***

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Letters from London (and yarns from Yorkshire), part 3

After dinner, Eugene and I set out for the Ghost Hunt. Not a ghost walk mind you, but a ghost hunt. York is apparently quite famous for its ghosts, because we’ve come across four different companies/groups who will take you around the city to tell you about its haunted places. Naturally I was violently opposed to going on any of these, because as you know, I’m fuckin’ terrified of the supernatural. If I can’t kill it, I don’t like it, and I didn’t want to hear anything about York’s favourite haunts. But Eugene was persistent. He desperately wanted to go, and refused to go alone. Some part of him wanted the thrill of going with company, and I was the only company who would appreciate it like he would. And we argued for hours about why I’m scared of ghosts and why I don’t think my life would be improved by confronting this particular kind of fear right now and he still persisted. In the end, his yearning to go seemed to outweigh the potential psychological consequences I would suffer, so for his happiness, I yielded.

The “hunt” we went on turned out to be a Christmas special, with actors performing Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. It was surprisingly good, with a humbling message and a small amount of interaction with the crowd. I particularly enjoyed strolling down the streets of York, singing the first verse of Old King Solomon with the actors. When it came to the second verse however, everyone almost instantly died out because no one knew it. It was hilarious! It was also a little disconcerting to have the actors’ performances disrupted by cars going across the streets in front of them and drunken passerbys making inappropriate ghost noises. At the half hour intermission, Eugene returned home because we didn’t feel it was worth the wait. (Actually, we tried to go home, but instead we wandered around for 25 minutes in a rather large circle. When we finally returned to the place we started I suggested we wait the extra five minutes, but he still didn’t think it was worth the time, so we went home.)

On the walk home, we passed a group that was apparently on a ghost walk of their own. All I caught was the phrase “You can’t see it from the outside, you can only see it from the inside” as they stopped in front of a house. It was enough. I’ve strongly decided that I have so little to gain and so much to lose that there’s no way in hell I’m interested in going. Eugene can stuff it up his ass and go on his own if he wants to see it that badly. Hope I don’t have nightmares!

I love and miss you baby. I hope you get the chance to email again soon. I love hearing from you. Bye honey <3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wren_Day
Who knew, right?

***

I er… I have decided to go on the ghost walk with Eugene. I talked to him about how I felt, and he agreed to go alone. But then he wanted to help me deal with my fear of ghosts because he felt my fear was unjustified- many ghosts exist, and most of them are powerless in this plane. At the very worst, they’re an inconvenience (changing the TV channel or throwing lightbulbs around) but not generally harmful. So why do I have plasmaphobia, the fear of ghosts to the point where it interferes with my daily life? One website suggests the fear can be life-limiting, and one of the best ways to overcome it is to challenge your fear rather than feeding into it with avoiding and escapism. And unfortunately, that’s more or less what Naomi’s been teaching me, and I must admit that it would be nice not to fear having a mirror in the room at night, or walking through a dark house by myself. The more I linger on such fears, the worse they become. And I think it’s time that I look them straight in the eye, say “I love you, and I mean you no harm” and then carry on with my life as normal. I’ve climbed mountains and spent nights in a cave, taken cold showers and gone for 45 hours without eating. These things have taught me not to fear tiredness, cold or hunger. But I still haven’t challenged my psychological fears. If I can accomplish this gargantuan task of attending a ghost walk, I will be able to say “I’ve faced worse” the next time I fear there is a ghost nearby. So Eugene and I will be heading to the 8pm one in just a few minutes time. I’ve had a fair bit of Christmas mead to bolster my spirit, but mostly I will be going with my own courage. I love you.

***

The ghost walk was wonderful. The carpark where we were supposed to meet had been completely flooded (again, photos to come, but basically the water up to waist level) so we called a few numbers and wandered around until we found the group on top of a bridge. The guy taking the tour was dressed in the classic Victorian outfit (it seems to be the uniform of ghost walk leaders) minus the tophat, but plus the cane. He was very charming, funny, entertaining and knowledgeable. The first place we went to, he talked about a fellow named George someone, who haunted the ladies bathrooms (turning out the lights, then caressing ladies’ necks when they were on the toilet). It’s what the nursery rhyme Georgie Porgie is based on. Look it up if you can! A lot of people cracked jokes (probably because they were inebriated) and had a romping good time. But as the tour progressed, things got progressively more sombre. We heard about Roman soldiers in an old cathedral, a ghostly man who lived on the top floor of a building and wouldn’t let anyone renovate it, a girl who would climb into bed with people… We heard about hangings and mass suicide and all kinds of grizzly things. They were stories though, and I was able to distance myself from them quite a bit.

The tour leader was a fascinating man. As I said, he was charming and eloquent and witty, but I fancied that when I looked into his eyes I saw a tender sadness borne from some tragic experience. It turns out I was right. He has astral dreams sometimes, where his spirit leaves his body and flies around the world. They terrify him because he feels the connection between his body and soul might be severed, and that his spirit might be stuck in limbo, like a ghost, for eternity.  He’s done a lot of thinking about life and death, and I guess that’s what attracts him to his profession. At the end of the tour he invited everyone for drinks, but Eugene and I slinked off shortly after we arrived at the pub. When I went to bed, although I walked through the darkness of the house and feared that there might be unseen things there, I did not think it likely that they were there, nor did I fear that they wished me any harm if they were. I slept well. I hope I can carry this benevolent courage with me for the rest of my life.

***

Yesterday Eugene and I went to Jorvik, the Viking museum. Jorvik is the Viking word for “York”, and it was freaking awesome. The essence of it was that archeologists spent decades digging down once they discovered it was a viking site, and they learned all about the clothes, diet, tools, ships and general lifestyles of the inhabitants. Vikings ruled half of England until King Albert threw them out, and the Viking King Eric Bloodaxe (what an incredibly spinechilling name) was one of the last of them until he was thrown out of York. The best part of the building was the electric cable car inside, which took us through a reenactment of what York might have looked like during the Viking days. It was great! I also inspected a Damascus sword in the gift shop, yours for only £480, which had tempered steel like the samurai blades. It was beautiful T_T

Thereafter we went to Clifford’s Tower, the ruinous remains of the Castle of York. Eugene and I tried some mead in the gift store, and I’ve now decided that mead is by far my favourite alcoholic drink. We tried some Christmas mead as well, which had other spices and flavours, and we bought a bottle because it was so tasty. Looking forward to drinking it in the mountains! The Tower/castle itself was rather epic, and I would have loved to have been one of the soldiers garrisoned there to look out for invading Viking forces.

In the afternoon, Mum, Caysin, Shu Shu and Wendy all caught the train back to London. We arrived very early though, so to pass the time Caysin asked me to teach her kung fu. I taught her to stomp on people’s feet and to strike them in the groin, to pull out of wrist grabs and to attack the chin or nose with the palm of the hand. To my surprise, she caught on very quickly. She asked to learn how to attack people but I refused to teach her. I think if she wanted to apply herself, she’d make an incredibly talented martial artist.

We had dinner at an Italian restaurant (and lunch at Yo! Sushi! I tried the ramen this time. We ate far, far too much, racking up a bill of £50 between the two of us), which served the most incredible cheesy gnocchetti. I hadn’t wanted so much dairy, but the waiter insisted that it would be awful without it, and Eugene convinced me it was worth it. And it was. My stomach hurt so, so much afterwards (I think that dairy makes me bloated! It’s so obvious now.) but it was an incredible meal. I’ll try very much to be more vegan from now on.

Before lunch, Eugene and I had the luxury of time to just wander around into any store we liked. We found a collector’s store that sold comics and boardgames, and I found this really cool samurai-ninja-shogun card game. But when I inquired about it, the storeowner suggested I try “Samurai Sword” instead, which hasn’t yet been released in England.  I guess I’ll have to look it up!

***

Today Eugene and I had to leave the creaky old house, but we have one more night in York. We booked a night in an inn/tavern called the Gillygate, which is quite a romantic notion but actually a little noisy. Like staying above Rosie O’Grady’s, you know?

We had a rather leisurely Sunmorn breakfast (second breakfast for me! XD), where I tried another “jack-et po-ta-to”. This one was much, much better than the first, probably because the first one was plain and this one was smothered in baked beans.

We had organised for a car to take us to the Studley Royal Park, which contains a ruined abbey (incredible), water gardens (breathtaking) and a deer park (disappointing). Today was one of the very rare sunny days of December, so Eugene and I spent hours running around the abbey, taking beautiful photos of the landscape and ruined buildings. We chased some pheasants (well, walked after them trying to take pictures of them while they sprinted away), spent a few moments at the water gardens and then lunched in a tearoom by the deer park. I’m afraid I had an egg and mayonaise sandwich, and then since I was being naughty, a caramel cranberry cheesecake. Oh, and I forgot to mention! That gnochetti I ate yesterday, upon the very first mouthful, I was overcome by a terrible feeling of sadness. It tasted delicious, don’t get me wrong, but it just made me tragically sad to eat it! Perhaps I was sad because I was breaking my veganity, or that I knew that I’d never eat it again because it was out of bounds next time. Who knows!

The deer park, as I said, was a touch disappointing. There were supposedly 500 deer, including fallow deer, and I pictured them frolicking in lush green meadows with white spots upon their backs, coming within ten metres of me and taking my measure with big, curious eyes. In reality, we trailed through several hundred metres of mud and poop to observe a herd of perhaps a hundred deer from a distance of perhaps a hundred metres. When I slowly approached they slowly receded, and when I quickly approached they ran away. I didn’t even get close enough to see if they had any spots like Bambi, but I guess that’s the price you pay for intruding upon wild deer!

Then we went to the Brimham Rocks, a place modestly famous for its unusual rock formations. We only spent a half hour there, climbing rocks for epic (and rather dangerous) poses as the wind tried to pull us off. It was lovely, but the weather was turning cloudy and bitter again, and we quickly returned to the car. Thereafter we headed back to Studley Royal Park to see the ruins of the abbey again, this time with Christmas carols and coloured lights illuminating the skeletons of the building, before being driven back to central York.

Just before he left, we asked Martin (our driver) where his favourite place to eat was, and we headed down to the restaurant he recommended. The food there was pretty incredible (I ordered the wild mushroom and brie burger, minus the brie. Unfortunately they couldn’t do that, so I just gave in and broke my veganity yet again. And I had some really nice nachos too :>), though a tad more expensive than I had realised – the burger appeared to cost £3.50, but in actuality it was £9 plus £3.50. Plus, the elderflower juice that I drank (while exquisite) ended up being quite costly! I only had about £180 to last the next six and a bit days, so I rather unexpectedly exceeded my budget. I’ll have to be a fair bit tighter with my money if I wish to survive the winter! XD I could always borrow/take money from Eugene if I really needed it, but I’d prefer not to rob him.

It’s about 8pm now, so a relaxing evening of reading and blogging before an early start. I love you so much baby. So so much! Can’t wait to hear back from you. And I hope you got my earlier email messages with attachments- I was having a curiously hard time getting them to send. I love you!

Letters from London (and yarns from York) Part 2

The second collection of emails I’ve sent to Bethwyn. Somewhat less cheerful than the mood of the first set, the cold, wet, bustling environment wears on the spirits over time. Company with my family is beginning to grate on my nerves and I’m more easily cantankerous and bitter. Although I’m trying not to waste time on crankiness, it’s not always a winning battle.

***

The day out with Lamb was lovely. Without access to googlemaps, I just had to wing it and find directions old school- asking people, reading streetmaps and just wandering until something looked familiar. I got there a little late but managed to recognise her (by her owl beanie). There wasn’t a tour on today like I thought there would have been, but we wandered slowly through the exhibit, pausing over each masterpiece. It was so nice having someone take as long as, or longer than I did to go over the art. I really enjoyed drinking it all in and wondering about the extraordinary wonderlands he envisaged when he set up the shots.

To pass the time, we wandered through the rest of Somerset house, looking at another eclectic photo collection and some pricey and super fancy merchandise (like stuff you might find in Pigeonhole). At my request, we returned to Covent Gardens for another delicious dip into Lush so I could pick up a Christmas present for your Mum. We found a rather charming toystore as well, and a tea specialist (like T2 but a different kind of fancy). It was a lovely experience though I wish I’d had more time to look around.

From there we headed to the Winter Wonderland. It was a theme park/festival, and quiet, unassuming, gentle little Lamb got so excited about ice skating she let out a roar. I was so surprised I burst out laughing. It was her second time ice skating, the first being five years prior. The crowd was huge but I loved the pleasure of being outdoor on the ice. At first I tried to skate at my normal pace, but I kept crashing into people and brushing past them as they changed directions or someone else closed the gap I was trying to squeeze through. I eventually realised I was being reckless and inconsiderate and slowed down, practicing left-leg T-stops and ice hockey stops, as well as skating with one leg in line with the other. Lamb went pretty well, skating slowly without support! She fell down only twice, and I accidentally pulled her down after she lost her balance, regained her balance, and then was pulled off-balance again as I tried to support her. As more and more people left the ice, I plucked up the courage to ask one of the ice marshals if they’d teach me how to skate backwards. At that moment, the bell time finish the session rang and he playfully scolded me for waiting so long before asking.

After that I figured that I wouldn’t have enough time to return home, get changed and find my way to kung fu within an hour and a half, so we wandered around the park for a while before dinner. The smell of hot food, the crowds, the creepy mechanical santas and the music of the rides and games were all wonderful.

Lamb and I tried cups of spiced wine each. They were warm and delicious, but shortly after finishing mine I began to feel very dizzy. I started stumbling and found it hard to walk, especially on a slope or uneven surfaces. It was crazy how fast the alcohol hit me! We staggered along for a while until we found a fish and chips shop where I ate a chip roll. It helped a great deal, but I was still a little tipsy as I decided to go through an adventure house, with moving floors and various obstacles. I only fell down once, and then safely, so it was a pretty good experience! I think I’ll definitely stop drinking alcohol though, even if it is a frosty winter’s night.

I think that Lamb would have preferred to stay in the tavern to sing and dance. I feel a little bad for not indulging her after she took such good care of me. She was very sweet in insisting I sit down and eat the majority of the food and sober up so my mum didn’t find out (not that I would have hidden it from her. My uncle and aunty on the other hand…).
All right love, I’ll try and get this phone to work. I’ll let you know how it goes. I love you baby ♡ Hope you’re sleeping well tonight.

***

Oh! And one more thing I wanted to mention. As I was walking to Westfield by myself, someone grabbed my bag and tugged back on it. I very calmly turned around, raising my arm and resting it over theirs (turning their elbow for a lock as I did so) and prepared my hand for a palm strike to their carotid sinus. Turned out to be Eugene, who Mum had convinced not to let me go by myself. I was very proud of my reaction- totally relaxed, efficient in movement, ready to harm and create distance but not to seriously injure, and without Eugene ever feeling like he was under threat. He laughed about it when I told him how close I had been to attacking him.

Ily <3

***

In the morning Eugene suggested we spend the day indoors since it was a tad rainy, but mum wanted to see the tower bridge (which he had spoken about before) and St James Park (which she remembered from 32 years ago). I took her to the bridge, which was beautiful but not particularly engaging, then backtracked to go to Harrods. My God, what a place. See the lingerie in the attachments? [pictures to come] How much do you think they cost? The quality, to my untrained eye, was about the same as Peter Alexander. It was a bit of a wonderland of shopping in there, and I wish I could have spent a few more hours getting lost in the maze and admiring the crystal displays.

After that we met Eugene to see Wicked, which was great, but not as good as the Australian one. The different actors changed the performance, possibly not for the better, but I still enjoyed it. My seat for the first half was so far away that I hired a pair of binoculars to see the stage XD

After that we had dinner, dropped into an adventure store and moved to the Lyceum Theatre for the Lion King. Lots of musicals today! I’m not fond of the number of kids in the crowd, but I guess I shouldn’t be picky. It’s currently the halfway intermission. I won’t have time to email for a little while because tomorrow we’re catching a train to York. I’ll keep you posted!

***

I don’t think the Lion King was a very big success. While Mum enjoyed Wicked, no one seemed to appreciate the LK as much as I did, and then it was drastically reduced because I’d seen it before and the seats weren’t as immersive as last time. I’ve really come to appreciate good seating- if you have a terrible seat, it’s almost as bad as not going. Worse in some respects because your first impression of the show will be ruined.

It rained on the way home, putting everyone quite out of sorts. It was frustrating that it happened on the day when I chose style over practicality and left my raincoat at home with my umbrella. Everyone got quite wet and grumpy I think, and when I got back I had to shower pack for the morning journey to York.

I’ve been having mostly cold showers, and even though I’d gotten wet, the hot shower wasn’t very satisfying. My body kept adjusting to the temperature and I kept turning it up and up until I realised it may as well have been cold because the water would feel the same. Persisting with my cold showers is surprisingly easy, and as a result, I have little fear of cold. Who ever would have thought?

We arrived at the station a little later than we wanted to, but the ride over was pleasant enough. I started reading A Feast For Crows, book four in the Game of Thrones series, and it is engaging. Perhaps not as much as previous books in the collection, but it is incredible how well characterised the inhabitants of Westeros are. Due to a cow/car (I didn’t hear which) on the tracks, the journey took over three hours.

The weather in York has been quite dismal. A persistent drizzle somewhat soaked our clothes and luggage as we walked around waiting to go into our accommodation. Gladly, I wore my raincoat in the rain for the first time, and it kept me ever so warm and dry <3

Eugene and I went to the chocolate factory for a tour, but none of the others were even slightly interested. After some arguing/discussion, we decided to split up. Sucked to be them because the chocolate factors was amazing. Like seriously amazing. We learnt how to see, hear, taste and finally smell chocolate properly (95% of our perception of taste is not from our tongue but from our noses).

Hey snookums, where was I? At the chocolate factory, I think…

So after learning to eat the chocolate, we watched interactive audio-visual films where our guide had conversations with the screen characters. It was really well done! We learned about the sacred drinks the Aztecs fought and died for (and got to try some too!) and learned about the founding families of England’s (and consequently much of the world’s) confectionery companies. We watched a demonstration on how to make chocolate (if you keep chox in the fridge, it will absorb moisture and odour so be careful what you store it next to- a cool dry place is ideal) and generally had a very good time.

Thereafter I dropped into a game store and found the full version of Mortal Kombat for £20. It has characters that I couldn’t download because of the region difference, most importantly including Kenshin, my favourite blind swordsman.

Meanwhile, everyone had been sitting in a cafe, eating and drinking and chatting. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, but they missed out on so much.

We still had a little time before our accommodation would be ready for checking in. The relatives went to wait at the train station to collect our baggage, miserable and cold and wet, while Eugene and I went to the Shambles to explore the markets and have hot soup and tea in a charming cafe on the second floor of an old wonky house.

After that it was a long walk to our house. Like maybe half an hour in the rain, with a challenging three-lock-door to get past before we stumbled in. The house is so old and so beautiful- I love how it creaks with every step. It’s got so much character! Eugene’s got a double bed to himself on the top floor, which has an attic inside and a sky window or two. When I opened the attic, I thought there was someone inside, or a dead body there, which scared the hell out of me. It turned out to be a roll of carpet with a shoe at the end, but still…

We spent some well-needed downtime relaxing in the new place. We got the heaters and fireplaces going and I lolled around reading A Feast For Crows until I became too tired to read any more. The adults preferred to sit in the rather less comfortable dining room so they could talk. I’m starting to appreciate the role food has in Chinese culture. Yet for all their snacks, they hadn’t considered what to do for dinner. They didn’t want to go out, so they contemplated having food delivered if I could organise it for them. I was not at all in the mood to go get food for everyone while they sat at home in the warmth, but the alternative was to let them be indecisive about it for hours until everything closed. I’m not even joking, though I’m being a tad spiteful. Eugene and I stormed out into the night as they called out food they wanted us to bring back to them. It felt so frustrating and unfair that they weren’t doing anything to look after themselves or have a good time, and whenever we went out of their way to help them they just complained if it was bad or accepted it as a given if it was good. The lack of gratitude and assistance was infuriating, but out we went and got the food anyway because the alternative was to suffer until they decided (which may never have been).

When we got back with the bags of food, Mum in particular extolled how grateful and appreciative they all were to us. Eugene suspects Mum orchestrated it when she noticed our attitudes. Whatever her reasons, it was nice to get a little more recognition.

I think I might have said earlier that the cold showers I take have left me with no fear of cold. I retract that. Tonight I had a shower so cold it actually burned and left my skin pink and painful. But when the water started to get warm by accident, I cut it off and went back to cold. I think that when I emerged from that shower I was stronger than before.
Tomorrow if the weather improves see go to Castle Howard. I think Eugene and I are also going on a ghost tour some time soon. Long story short, after much argument and discussion, I decided it was worth more to keep him company, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of

Okay, falling asleep as I write. That 5am start was exhausting. Well, good night love. Sleep sweet <3

PS: the dressing gown pants were $350, and the gown itself £500. Mortifiying.

***

Sent at 10:56am (London time) on 21/12/2012. As it so happened, the world apparently did not end. I spent the (poorly) predicted time of its destruction meditating.

Just in case the world ends in fifteen minutes, I love you.

***

As I mentioned in the previous email, Castle Howard turned out to be closed over Christmas (though the grounds remained open). Instead we wandered around York, through the Christmas markets and towards the chocolate factory so that Caysin and the adults could go. Just before we got there though they lost interest and decided to wander off on their own and then return home when they were ready. I doubt they went to the factory, but that’s their loss I guess.

Eugene and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Yo! Sushi, where I had chocolate ganache mochi for dessert. It was incredible, possibly the best food ever. But shortly after finishing, my stomach started hurting awfully. I guess it was something I ate, but it became hard to walk because the pain was so bad. I’m sure you have enough experience to know the kind of feeling I’m talking about.

Just before it became unbearable we walked to York Minster, the oldest medieval castle in Europe. It’s spectacular, and the view from the top is lovely. Although all you really see is buildings, it’s very humbling for a human to be up so high. The narrow staircase was a pleasure to climb as well- they’re built so that only one person can fit at a time, climbing up a clockwise spiral. If an invader wants to attack with a sword in his right hand, he would need to expose most of his body as he climbed. Conversely a defender could just peak his arm around the corner and present a constant threat. And because it’s one-on-one, a single defender might hold an army at bay.

It’s about 5:30 here yet it feels much later because the sun set hours ago. My stomach has been hurting for ages and I’m not really feeling up for a ghost walk tonight. I’m kind of more in the mood to sit in front of the fire and rest. Cold and tired tend me towards grumpiness, and I’ve been snapping at people a little. I hope I feel less pained soon, but meanwhile I’ll work on feeling happy and good here and now, which is something I at least have some control over.

Because the internet is so unreliable I’m using my phone as a wireless port. Eugene is using the internet from my phone- pretty cool right? It’s using up a fair bit of battery though.

I miss you so much. I can’t can’t can’t wait to see you in just over a week. It couldn’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. Love and miss you more than I can say.. <3

Letters from London, part 1

Hi everyone! I’m not sure who everyone is, but if you’re reading this, consider yourself among the cool people. I’m currently in London, and while I would love to blog about everything I’m doing here, I just don’t have time. Between sight-seeing, being with my relatives (Uncle and Aunty who are visiting their daughter here, plus Mum and I who are visiting Eugene) and sending the occasional email to Bethwyn, I just don’t have the time. So I figured I’d knock two heads with one blow (or something) and just copy and paste fragments of emails here. This is the first installment, and I fear it might be rather lengthy. Enjoy!

 

***

 

Yes! I did indeed get to watch movies on the flight. I watched Rurouni Kenshin, which was fantastic, and The Dark Knight Rises, which was pretty good. I also played Insaniquarium, a game by the makers of Plants vs Zombies, for several hours. I nearly completed the campaign mode in one sitting, but without a mouse, I wasn’t able to beat the final boss because the cursor moved so slowly. I’d chase one enemy across the screen only to let one or two others demolish my fish, so despite the hours of effort and some serious RSI I had to let that one go. It was a really pleasant flight though, and while I felt a little ill and stomach upset, I wasn’t too uncomfortable. To my surprise, I didn’t sleep during the flight, either, except for the last ten minutes or so. That means that I’ve been awake for nearly 25 hours (excluding a nap on the way to the airport and the nap on the plane).

I think of you all the time as well. This evening, as we went into Europe’s biggest shopping complex (called Westfield), we walked past a Disney store. I ran around looking at all the Princess merchandise and Winnie the Pooh stuff. I missed you a lot. \as for England itself, I let out the occasional squee. I was so excited when we touched down that I high fived the wall because I didn’t think Mum or Aunty Wendy would have wanted to high five me. It’s going to be an interesting couple of days trying to help everyone get along.

 

***

 

England is delightful. I’ve missed certain pieces of architecture, like a paved brick alleyway between two buildings, or a silver doorknocker. Christmas decorations are springing up everywhere, which is lovely but not quite enchanting. Perhaps I haven’t spent enough time in the city, just that brief trip to Westfield to buy new SIM cards. Hopefully today I’ll be less tired as I’m exposed to the city.

I’m pretty tired right now baby. I woke up around 4, 4:30 quite fully awake. I managed to doze for another three hours or so, but I’m not sure I can go back to sleep. It’s about 7am, so I guess I had a disturbed eight hours sleep. I’m feeling a little achey and cranky, but maybe a good cuppa tea will help me relax and enjoy myself! I keep having to remind myself, no matter how I’m feeling, I can at every moment choose to enjoy it and be happy anyway. It’s a lovely and inspiring lesson.

Tea and toast would be lovely. I haven’t been very good with my veganism though- on the plane to Malaysia, I had a cheesy vegetarian lasagna for want of food. On the plane to England I had a chicken meal minus the chicken, a cheesy salad, a milky cracker, a chocolate bar and an ice cream. But I refused a followup milky cracker/chocolate bar/cheese snack pack, which I’m proud of! Then I promptly went to a convenience store with Eugene and tried one of his chocolates, which are kind of like M&M’s without the shell. But I refused to buy the unique-looking Jaffa bars/caramel cakes! Even though they’re unique and probably amazing taste experiences… Although I’m tempted to use the excuse of just enjoying myself on holiday, in a different country/culture, there are still plenty of delicious foods that I can enjoy which aren’t animal-product-based. But if it’s way inconvenient, a bit of cheeky cheese or chocolate here or there won’t hurt too much.

Eugene proposed we go running this morning. While I would appreciate the exercise (I’ve already put on a kilo or two), my limbs are exhausted and my mind is drained. I think I’d better save what little energy I have for the day’s enjoyment. I’d still like to find a local kung fu school though!

It’s 7:35 now and it’s almost pitch black outside. Apparently the sun sets at 4pm as well. That’s just silly. Silly England, get your daylight right. While Eugene snoozes, I guess I’ll stay on his laptop and google kung fu and read emails and stuff. Love you babe.
Oh, and I have a new number! Try not to use it too much though (or at all) if possible- it’s not got much credit, and I’d prefer it lasts until the end of the year. I’ll message you later. I love you so much.

 

***

 

It’s about 6am. Yesterday we went to Sainsbury first thing in the morning to buy ingredients for breakfast. Then after taking some time to sort out what everyone wanted to do, we walked for a late breakfast/brunch. We rested at home, had a late lunch, then went to Caysin’s dorm at her college were Uncle and Aunty will be staying for the rest of the week. I think, while more comfortable, I prefer RCM because Eugene has made it his home.
After that we all went to Trafalgar Square where the RCM was holding one of its many concerts. Most of it was atonal and sounded pretty awful to me. One piece was just a minute of the same electronic note sustained for a full minute to describe the monotony of staying in a tiny jail. One guy smashed a wine glass on stage, no doubt to represent something profound. Eugene’s piece was tonal at least, and mimicked a train to represent the rise of industry. All in all, none of us really enjoyed it, just like Eugene warned us and we insisted on supporting him anyway.
We met Ah Ee kokor (Big Brother Ah Ee), an architect who lives here, for dinner at a fancy Chinese restaurant. In truth, I was a bit miffed throughout the night because I could only eat one vegetable dish which was essentially 99% fried leaves. Despite looking at a menu and deciding between a number if tasty looking dishes, and despite them knowing I was vegan, no one asked me what I wanted and just ordered food for the table. Then they teased me just a little for not being able to eat anything. I tried to practice my Mandarin, but Eugene felt humiliated at my poor accent. I think I’m getting much better (I now understand a little better how to differentiate between for four pronounciations of the same word), but Eugene has essentially forbidden me from practicing within his earshot under penalty of punishment.
We left dinner around ten and I fell asleep on the bus. I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and it’s starting to become a problem. Case in point, I spent the night in a spare dormroom and woke up quite vividly at 2, 3, 5 and 6 o clock or so. And then, not being able to tolerate lying in bed exhausted but unable to sleep, I just got up to message you. It’s been quite a long night. I think it’s due to the time-difference – by Australian time I slept at 7am last night. Eugene says the body adjusts within 12 hours of arriving at a new country, and while all my previous experiences would support that claim, this time I seem to be taking a little longer. Maybe I’ll try sleeping super early tonight, or napping during the day. I’m pretty tired of being tired *weary smile*
Today Eugene and I are watching The Hobbit at 9am. If I weren’t exhausted I’d be stoked. I’m hoping I feel better when I get up and moving. I also found a local kung fu school that teaches Tiger Crane style, but it’s £12.50 for a trial lesson so I’ll probably give it a miss. My search for a class continues (though I can’t imagine having the energy to go).
***
Now, onto London… so yestermorn, Eugene and I went for a 9am, 3D, High Frame Rate screening of The Hobbit. It is actually the greatest movie ever made, on par with The Fellowship of the Ring. I’ve had the Misty Mountain theme stuck in my head ever since we saw it. I’m so glad I got to see a movie overseas (one of my favourite pastimes), and that it happened to be that particular movie.
We went to Caysin’s place where everyone was cooking a huge Chinese meal. It took several hours, so I elected to nap while waiting. It was a satisfying hour or so, but I woke up still quite exhausted. I got pretty frustrated because everyone kept ignoring me and talking in Mandarin, making decisions without me and not telling me about new plans. We ended up going to Coventry Square markets, and I did my best to stop feeling grumpy and just enjoy the amazing experiences of being in England.
Lamb (Caysin’s flatmate) and I went to Somerset House to ice skate, but the huge rink there is so popular that they had sold out of sessions for the rest of the day. I’d love to go, because outdoor ice skating is the dream man, so we’ll book it online for another time. Lamb is a graphic design student so she was very enthusiastic about showing me the Tim Walker exhibit (Google his stuff!), but unfortunately it was closed. Hopefully we’ll check it out another time!
Coventry Square was so good. I can’t wait to go back actually! The Lush there was so popular, but I bought a facial moisturiser with SPF 30 in it for you. It’s only available in the UK, so I thought you might appreciate it, especially in Singapore!
Right! So I was telling you about my day.

After the shopping, we went back to Caysin’s for leftovers. I was very tired and quite unhelpful I daresay, not having the energy to serve myself let alone clean up. I felt quite ungrateful but I was too tired to be apologetic. Mum and I set out for home around 8:15, and the whole way there I was super tired. Like, too tired to smile. Too tired to avoid people, preferring to just crash into them. And then being too tired to apologise, just hoping they’d understand and forgive me. I actually fell asleep several times while I was on the train, mid-step in Pokemon. I snapped at Mum a lot on that trip home, because we only vaguely knew where we were going and she was quite stressed and unhelpful. I was largely overreacting, but it made me aware of just how important sleep is to me. If I want to be kind, happy, able to defend myself, serve others or have a conversation, I can’t do it then I’m tired. It really does affect every part of my life.
When I got home, I slept around 10pm. The previous night I hadn’t slept very well and had gotten up to put on a jacket. Yesternight I put the extra layer on before I went to bed, and I think it made a big difference. I slept until about 9, waking up only once or twice. It was so, so satisfying, though I was still a little sleepy throughout the day. I’m pretty tired again now actually XD I started getting ridiculously sleepy around 8pm. Maybe I’m sick, or using more energy walking around, or still adjusting to jetlag.
The weather today was beautiful. As clear as a standard day in Perth (though colder), it’s beauty was enhanced because of how bleak weather normally is. After all the cloud and rain, it was such a pleasurable exception. I enjoyed a slow start, sitting on the windowsill to write lines, before we through to Ravenscourt Park to see the Royal College of Music and the Royal Albert Hall (where the premier of Skyfall was and where Daniel Craig waved to Eugene twice). Mum wanted a new handbag and to see Hyde Park, so we walked through Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park to catch the bus to Portobello Road.
Hyde Park was so beautiful on a clear day. We saw a few squirrels, and I even managed to coax one into sniffing but not taking some bread on my hand. There was also a beagle who noticed the squirrels, and I have a video of it doing a very Dug-like pose.
Portabello Road was great! What an incredible place that is. Bedknobs and Broomsticks had it right- you can buy just about anything there. I bought an awesome furry, ear-flappy hat which I might never be able to wear in Australia, and a Christmas present for your father (I’ll show you in Singapore!). Mum on the other hand bought a bag, a scarf and a hat, all at bargained-down prices, which positively elated her. For lunch, we sat down and listened to buskers as we ate sandwiches, samosa, raspberries and pears, followed by some coal-roasted chestnuts.
We dropped into the shopping centre on the way home, which was ridiculously crowded. In fact, London is ridiculously crowded in general. I kind of like it due to the feeling of anonymity and all the potential 3DS streetpass hits (though I’ve received only three so far), but I can see why Eugene hates it so much. There’s a lot of bumping into people, long queues, crowded spaces… I could imagine how frustrating I might find it if I was tired and just wanted to get home.
Something I’ve noticed about the English people is that not many of them smile. The older they are, the more often they walk with their heads down, their mouths set and their brows furrowed. The kids are still full of life and delight, but their parents seem to have no energy to spare on being joyful. Eugene says it’s because of London; the weather, the crowds – it just gets people down over time. In contrast, I walk around often grinning like an idiot for the pleasure of being in London. I want to hug, kiss, help and compliment almost everyone I meet. Yet hardly anyone returns my smiles, and those that return my greetings do so begrudgingly. I hope my love and enthusiasm for London doesn’t wear away over time.
After shopping, we made a stirfry to go with rice and some dishes from that Nepalese place across the road. They’re so nice there! They asked me to sit and brought me a fresh papadam to snack on while I waited. The restaurant is called Kathmandu – let’s go there some time!
All right baby, that’s about it from me. It’s 9:45 now and I’m still pretty tired! Bedtime I think. Tomorrow we have a leisurely start before heading to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards. I also found a really cool-looking Tiger-Crane kung fu school which I’m going to in the evening. It’s pretty pricey for a lesson (£12.50), but that’s about the same as the casual rate for the Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts in Bayswater so I’m going to go ahead and make the assumption it’s just as good. I’m really looking forward to it!
Oh and also, I heard back from the human resource company who advertised the job at Petbarn! They said they loved me and want to sort out a contract. Unfortunately it took five days for me to remember to check my other email and they were having trouble reaching me, but I sent them an email affirming I was still interested and hoping to organise the contract over the internet first. Fingers crossed everything goes well!
All right, that’s enough for now. I love you so much, and I can’t wait to hear back from you. Ily!!

The terrors of the Massively Multiplayer Online RPG

For many years, I’ve hated the idea of playing a video game that has no ending. They have scared me because of how easily addicted I am to games. When I was twelve, a classmate passingly commented on this “sick game” he was playing called RuneScape. Now RuneScape is by no means a good game. In fact, by today’s standards, it’s pretty shit (or at least, it was back when I played it). But it didn’t stop little twelve-year-old me from becoming obsessive about it. I would literally argue over seconds of computer time with my brother, and we split the day so that from 3am-3pm the computer was mine. Idiotically, this meant I couldn’t play it after school, but I was so excited about the prospect of having uninterrupted play-time that I ignored this. I started getting up at 5, 4, even 3am to play. I could never get enough, not even when I stayed home from school, not even when I spent all weekend playing it. They were ugly times.

Since those dark days, I have steered the hell away from MMORPG’s, preferring single-player games with a definitive start-to-finish approach. But when I heard news that Bioware was turning one of my favourite games of all time (Knights of the Old Republic 1 – read my scathing opinion of KOTOR 2 here) into an MMORPG, I was so excited that I decided to make an exception. When the game was first released, I was eager to buy it. But to my chagrin, Bioware had opted not to let the Australians play it on launch date- there just wasn’t enough server power, and apparently we weren’t good enough to make the cut. I was so royally pissed off that I lost all interest in the game, even when it came out a little while later, and even when my friends started playing it.

But then, The Old Republic went free-to-play. No longer was there a $15 a month subscription fee, anyone could download and play it. And so I caved. I thought I’d download it, ready to play it some other day when I was ready. And then yesterday, I thought I’d load it up and just see if it worked. And then when I discovered it did, I thought there was no harm in making a character. And then maybe just figuring out the controls… Doing the first few basic tutorial missions… Just one more mission… Just slightly better gear… And so it went, until four hours passed.

When I stopped playing at 11pm last night, I decided that it was a good game, but I’d probably never play it again. It took me a very long time to fall asleep, despite how tired I was. My brain was so wired, so active that I lay in bed for maybe fifteen minutes before sleep took me. (I normally fall asleep within a minute, so this was at least fifteen times longer, which is a big deal for me.) But that wasn’t the end of my troubles. I woke up every few hours in a confused state of “I have to do something related to TOR but I don’t know what”. It got worse as the light brightened, until at 6:15am, after not being able to sleep or make any sense of my half-dreamed Republic world, I staggered out of bed and booted up the computer to keep playing. Just to wake up a bit, and to satisfy my nonsensical craving, you understand. I promised myself that I’d get off at 7:30am no matter what happened, so that I could eat, go outside for tai chi, write lines, clean my room… You know. Living stuff.

I did manage to get off just after 7:30, but it was a close call. Since last night, I’ve comprehended the basic mechanics of how the game works, and I understand how to use my various skills more-or-less to their fullest extent to give me the edge in combat. So I was strolling along, killing enemies and doing my thing while chatting to the general server. There are some really nice and intelligent people on TOR at 7am (or 5am, or whatever respective time zone they came from). One of them said “Jinsan, I can see you!” and ran up to me. He was a few levels weaker than me but he seemed like a nice enough guy, so we joined a group (or party). This was a totally foreign concept to me. I don’t play with other people online, and only rarely in person. I love the idea of being able to do everything by myself, but despite my usual modus operandi, I decided to share the joy of the experience. Since he was a few levels weaker than me, I ran ahead and took out all the tough enemies while he hung back and provided support from a distance. This was my first exposure to the playing styles of “tanking” and “damage per second” (that is to say, one player with high health and good armour runs in first so that all the enemies attack him, and the other player/s kill off the enemies while they’re distracted by the tank). It all sounded terribly complex when I listened to people describing character classes in WoW, but in TOR, it was just thrilling to be able to protect my weaker comrade from the aggression of the powerful enemies. We did some missions, killed some droids and then just ran around together. It troubles me that I really enjoyed it.

When I started playing TOR, I decided just to solo the whole thing, make no attachments or relationships, just get the storyline over and done with. But now, now that I have a friend (of sorts), I want to go out of my way to clear higher level enemies for him. I want to help him find ph@t l00t, and finish missions. And I want to fight boss-level characters that normally overpower me as an individual, but yield to my sabre as part of a team. Every character type, every item can allow you to configure to a specific type of play that is most helpful to your teammates. As I am discovering, “tanks” draw enemy fire and take the brunt of the damage so other players can focus on killing without impediment. And that’s a pretty cool way of clearing out a room of tough enemies. Damnit Bioware, why did you have to make a game where the characters all complement each other so well? What a single player can accomplish pales in comparison to what a group of four can achieve.

I mean yes, I do have the time to play right now without it really affecting any social commitments, but… I’m truly terrified that this will be another RuneScape, and it will become the most important thing in my life. I know it’s a different time, different situation, different person (how I’ve changed since then), but I’m still scared of what I might become if I give in to this temptation.

As a test of will, I hereby swear not to play The Old Republic again until after my holiday. Unless I’m desperate (as in can’t sleep, like this morning) or there’s a very good reason. I’ll keep you posted.

EDIT: Just reading up about preferred playing styles… It seems that the world of MMO’s are scary and inscrutable. What the hell is this guy on about?
“Tanks – We do have to keep eye on the surrounding, pats, vortexes, keeping aggro… while multi tanking the dps rarely starts on the skull so we need to try and make quick aggro on all mobs and then start aoe rotation.. and believe me, its just not TC and SW, their both always on cd when you most need them..”