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Introduction to Adulting with Wine and Cats

Hello World!

My pseudonym / nom de plume / pen name, is Pandora Cray: Pandora because I am a strong independent woman whose life is chaos (which is almost entirely my own fault), and Cray because my life is crazy and so am I. But, no, seriously, many of my misadventures are due to the fact that I am bipolar – and went unmedicated until I was 23ish. My real name is … Oh, you thought I was gonna tell you that? Mwahaha! Nope!

My blog should be named “The Misadventures of Adulting with Wine, Cookie Dough, and Cats.” But, that seemed a bit too long, and I once read that it is important to have a unique and easy-to-Google blog name. If I could art, then I would art at all of you with glorious comics about my life, but I can’t art, so I shan’t art. Well, if I gain the confidence at some point, I might art, and I apologize in advance.

I decided to make this blog because a dear friend of mine suggested I try an unconventional way of making money – beginning with using my hilariously flawed life to write a blog.

So, without further ado, I present to you: my blog about adulting with wine and cats.

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Fine print: This blog is *loosely* based on my life. I make what some might consider to be too many puns. I am an intersectional feminist, which means that I will be frequently denouncing the patriarchy, racism, and general bigotry, and supporting ALL girls and women, both cis and trans, of every race and ethnicity – along with the rights of boys and men (and any other gender) to do things considered feminine without stigma. I am pansexual, which means that I am attracted to all genders, and if you don’t like that, then I apologize for your life being sad and boring. Any illegal activities herein are fictional. There is some adult content – and by adult content, I mean I will use swears, talk about alcohol, and discuss in vaguery some of the oddities of dating as an adult – nothing more than R-rated.

 

Post 19: Post-Holiday Hangovers – Both Literal and Emotional

Aka Post-Holiday drop.

DO ALL THE THINGS. MAKE WITH THE DECORATIONS. GIFT SHOPPING. GIFT WRAPPING. FAMILY. FRIENDS. PARTIES. COOKING. BAKING. CANDLESTICK MAKING.

Okay, not candlestick making.

But, point being, the holidays are hard – especially for people who who have mental health problems. Like me, I am bipolar, with stress-induced anxiety. And, while there are many things to love about the holiday season, there are also many things that are quite stressful:

  • Seeing family is difficult, especially when many members of your family are very conservative Christian republicans.
  • Seeing family is difficult when key members aren’t there anymore. Missing. Empty. Sad.
  • Seeing family is difficult when you have to travel long distances at the same time that lots and lots of other people are traveling.
  • Spending money on gifts is difficult when money is tight (which, as a millenial, money is always tight.) But, because gifting is my love language, it is even more difficult to find the perfect gifts while also trying to having enough money to pay the bills.
  • It is cold, and rainy, and cold. And also cold. Did I mention cold? My knees hurt in the cold. I mean, more than usual. My hair hates the rain. So, I spend more money on the bills to heat the house – which is worth it to minimize my pain. But, I can’t heat the entire outside. And I don’t have a car that you can start with the push of a button from a distance so it will begin heating up without me. Someday…
  • The sky is always white or grey, or white & grey. The cool thing about that is that it triggers my migraines. I have special rose-colored glasses from Theraspecs (so they also have my prescription). But, even those only go so far. Migraines aside, it also triggers my depressive bouts. Every day. All winter.
  • People drive poorly. Poorly is an understatement. The roads are dangerous, slippery, and filled with people who don’t seem to realize how dangerous their driving is. No blinkers. Speeding. Merging through several lanes of traffic. Tailgating. Oof. Not great.
  • Oh, and also finals. Right before a very busy holiday, I have to endure the stress of finding out if I pass my class/es after stressing out about how I did on my final after stressing out about studying for finals.

So, after all that? Ded.

Just so exhausted from everything. And everything is a wreck. And you need to clean. And you don’t want to. And you aren’t feeling your best because you ate too much dessert and too many fatty things, and you drank a lot of wine, and a lot of caffeine, but not a lot of water.

And it isn’t even over yet because New Year’s Eve is coming.

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Post 17: The Not-So-Christian Origins of Christmas, and How to Respond to People Who Insist that Christmas is Only about Christ

It is that time of year when Christians come out of the woodwork to complain about the lack of red cups at Starbucks, and being “erased” and persecuted, all while proclaiming that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Well, they are wrong. On SOOOOO many levels.

And, unlike “fake news,” it isn’t a myth or a liberal news exaggeration that Christians complain about these things – which I know because I see it all over my social media (my private social media under my legal name that you guys don’t see).

Recently, I found and responded to one of these messages. My friend had written on her social media that she was celebrating secular Christmas, and came into contact with extremely religious carolers – for which she was very unprepared. It isn’t that they were pressuring her or anything; she had just surrounded herself with secular Christmas things for so long that she forgot how crazy religious people can get.

Most people responded with agreement that people are way over the top, and sometimes cult-ish, when it comes to Christmas. I responded with the fact that I celebrate cultural Christmas, rather than religious Christmas. But, of course, one lady comes in with something to the effect of:

Not to be preachy, but…

(you may be shocked to realize that something preachy is coming…)

The “holiday” came into existence because of the Birth of Christ, so you have to acknowledge its roots even if you don’t believe. Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc………. *Christmas tree emoji*

(I paraphrased so you can’t easily look this up, but you get the gist.)

I mean, normally I don’t engage. Unless I get really angry, I stay away from the negativity of social media arguments because it is super harmful to my – already not fantastic – mental health. But, this lady was so ignorant, and so proud of herself, and so haughty… Oh and she was white, so you know, with entitlement to spare. Well, I had to tear down her argument systematically. But, don’t worry, it has a not-bad ending, in that she didn’t respond with anything except a “O.O” emoji – so, I assume I rocked her entire state of existence, but she’d never speak of it to her peers. I’m hoping she’ll also never be “not preachy” about it ever again.

My argument consisted of several examples, and explaining how most things that are “Christ”mas are actually things that aren’t Christian at all, but were co-opted by the Catholic church to erase other peoples’ cultures and control them.


Yule:

  • Yule log: Duh.
  • Christmas tree: evergreen trees sacred to Baldr/Baldur/Balder
  • Wreaths: previously evergreen boughs
  • Feasting: especially with meat from animal sacrifices and hunts
  • Santa’s full white beard: based on Odin/Woden
  • Santa’s reindeer: based on Odin’s 8-legged horse, Sleipnir
  • Santa’s sleigh: Odin’s Wild Hunt and flying through the sky
  • Celebrated throughout December: then called Ylir aka Yule

Saturnalia:

  • Gift exchanging: generosity
  • Evergreen boughs: evergreens are loved by the sun god
  • Large feasts
  • Celebration: a marked time of debauchery
  • Usually on December 25th

Druidism:

  • Christmas tree: their religion is heavily based on revering trees, especially oak trees
  • Evergreen boughs: a symbol of everlasting life
  • Mistletoe: life and fertility
  • Holly: wards off evil spirits because it grows strong, despite the winter cold. Also represents upcoming life
  • Winter Solstice celebrated: winter celebrations keep people cheerful during cold times with dwindling food supplies

In addition, Jesus, aka Christ, wasn’t even born in Winter. While there is no date for his birthday in recorded lore – I say lore, because it is unclear if he actually existed – religious scholars have used clues from religious texts to determine that he was born in Autumn, likely September.

So, what I am saying is that Jesus is NOT the reason for the season. It is perfect fine to celebrate secular/cultural Christmas and/or holiday season without involving religion. (And obviously there are many, many other holidays to celebrate as well.)

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Post 16: Update Blog: Finals, New Job, Flea Mayhem, and a Nintendo Switch

I’ve been absent for a bit.

You see, I do most of my Blogging and Tweeting while at work when I have nothing better to do. As a tutor in charge of a tutoring center, I don’t get very many people to tutor, so I spend my time doing homework, goofing off on the internet, and taking care of this blog.

Except recently, I have had more pressing things to do. I’ve had extra school stuff because of finals. I got a job offer (YAY), and I have been filling out lots of paperwork for the new job. I’ve been doing tons of research on how to get rid of fleas after finding 32 on one of my cats, and a couple on the other cats (which the dog brought inside). And, I have been desperately trying to find some miraculous way to get a Nintendo Switch Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition Console. So, every day, time flies by while I have been doing all of these stressful tasks. But, now that they are (mostly) done, I figure I can give you an update.

Finals

Blah blah blah homework, blah blah blah boredom. I took a boring U.S. policy class to learn things that might be useful in helping me get a State job. It bored me to literal tears. I settled for a B by doing the final and the discussion board, so that I wouldn’t have to do any more homework or the giant stressful project. I was also too depressive to do anything else.

New Job!

I quit my job as a high school math teacher and decided to change my entire career path in March of 2017. It is December of 2018. I finally received a job offer for a non-education-related full-time job as a secretary (but with a cooler actual job title, and more actual duties than a secretary) for a company that helps the less fortunate with mental health issues. It is only a secretary job, pay and prestige wise. The pay is only $16.19 per hour – which happens to be exactly what I am making per hour right now. But, while it isn’t much, it IS a huge step in the right direction, and IT WILL pay the bills (because it is full-time, something which I don’t have right now) and help pay down the debt that I have been accumulating while working part-time since March 2017.

It is also the MOST effort I have ever had to put in AFTER receiving a job offer:

  • Livescan fingerprinting for a background check (standard)
  • TB test (standard)
  • References (usually these are asked for before the job offer, but w/e)
  • Driver’s license, registration, insurance, and DMV history report (I’m not even driving in any official capacity…)
  • Other forms of identification showing that I am legally allowed to work in the U.S. (I really don’t get why people are so angry about “illegal” immigrants “stealing” jobs, because I have yet to encounter any real job – i.e. not my private tutoring – that hasn’t checked my citizenship/immigration status.)
  • A physical (which is apparently becoming more common as companies try to avoid falsified worker’s comp claims, but was new to me!!)
  • A consumer background check which required me to input every school I have ever attended, which is 7, by the way, not including middle or elementary (aka primary) school, and only including the high school I got my degree from. AND, it required every address I have lived at in the past 7 years, which is 5 different addresses that I had to look up in old files in my computer because I didn’t remember them all (Um ok, but why tho?)
  • A bunch of consent forms for the above pains in my ass (because sure, why not)

So I get through ALL OF THAT. FINALLY. Play the waiting game for the DOJ to finish processing my background check, while each day becoming more restless, hoping that I don’t have an evil twin or clone (well, a twin or clone that commits crimes AND gets caught for them, still unclear on if I am actually the evil-est version of me) running around ruining the public view of my good (okay-ish, possibly chaotic evil, more likely chaotic neutral, definitely chaotic) name. Meanwhile, my boss wants to know my last day, and my friends and family and career counselors want to know my first day, and I WANT TO KNOW TOO, but like without bothering the HR person too much.

SO, I finally get back my obviously clean background check.

The next step is standard stuff, i9, w-2, etc., also with a bunch of consent forms, and the website malfunctioning, AND the HR person I was working with quitting, I guess?, so I had to re-email a bunch of stuff to another person. Aiya… Exhausting.

So, my first day at the new job is the day after Christmas, and my last day at my current job is this Friday, December 21st. I’m going to miss the people and the laziness at my current job, but I need the money desperately. I’d have rather jumped straight into a State job, but oh well. C’est la vie. This will help me get a state job anyway.

Flea Mayhem

My roommate’s dog is the only pet that goes outside. She catches fleas like noone’s business. We were regularly checking the cats, and they had been fine because they don’t spend time with the dog, and the dog stays in my roommate’s bedroom for the most part. She finally finds the money to take her dog to the vet to get an actual prescription, and I get her special doggie vitamins for an early X-mas present, because of her dog’s allergic reactions and increasing bald spots from scratching, and we think that it is over.

Or, rather, thought. We thought it was over. Her coat is growing back in, shiny and new, and she isn’t endlessly scratching anymore. Surely it was over.

NOPE.

So, as I am giving my cat scritches, as you do, I noticed something in his fur, so I pinched it between my nails, pulled it out, and behold, a fucking flea. This cat is the clumsy cat. He was the runt. He is very bad at cleaning himself. And, he has recently been laying in the dog’s living room pillow. I take the flea comb to him for at least an hour, and find 32 fleas on him.

I checked the other cats, they are clear. My roommate checked the dog, and she is clear.

So, I start doing some flea med research, because dogs and cats don’t have the same flea medication, and I wanted to make sure that I would get something effective with good reviews that wouldn’t harm the dog. I found some pills, threw them in my cart on Amazon, and continued to do research.

That night, I found fleas on the other cats. Fuck. It is an epidemic.

So, I go back to the research, buy a ton of things: Capstar flea pills, flea shampoo, Fleabusters powder, and a flea spray (nothing with peppermint oil in it, however, because apparently peppermint oil is very bad for cats). My roommate reimburses me for part of it. Most of my linens (towels, rugs, sheets, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, etc.) are in the garage now. I cleaned a ton of stuff off the floor in every room. I’m spraying the things I can’t put in the washer. I have yet to get down the Fleabusters powder, because I have to isolate the pets while I do it, and I am still exhausted and depressive, and it requires scrubbing into the floor, and my sciatica and knees aren’t fond of that idea. I did give the cats their pills, forcibly. And, I hope this all works. HOPE.

And I bought a half-sized outdoor push-broom at the 99¢ store yesterday (for $7.99), which I can use for scrubbing the powder into the carpet. So, I ought to find the motivation soon.

Nintendo Switch

I have ALWAYS wanted a special edition console. I didn’t have the money to pre-order the Nintendo Switch Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition Console for $359. So, I foolishly assumed that it would come back in stock and go on sale for Black Friday. It didn’t. So, I figured that the boyfriend and I would use our combined Christmas money (as was the plan anyway) to buy it from a Target, using my 5% off reward from my Target Card, the day after Christmas – which is an infamous day for returns. I was determined to wait by the Guest Service Desk ALL DAY if I had to. And, in the meantime, I was relentlessly refreshing their webpage to see if it would come back in stock.

Then, I found out that my first day at my new job would be the day after Christmas. You know. The day I was gonna loiter at Target. But, even despite this new development, I was still stubbornly determined to go to Target straight from work, but with much less conviction than before.

So, as I am finishing up finals and homework on Sunday, 2 days ago, I found an email from Target: Buy a Nintendo Switch, get a free $25 gift card. That was the nail (the e-nail?? It’s ok. You don’t have to laugh. I’m enjoying it enough for all of us.) in the coffin of giving up on my special console dreams once again, but in favor of a good deal with guaranteed availability.

We bought it that night, along with a Breath of the Wild brown leather-y case, some Sheikah slate themed vinyl stickers, a second set of controllers in red/blue, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee!, and apparently a free set of Smash Bros. Vinyl stickers (which went well on the secondary set of controllers). They were all either better than or equal to the deals on Amazon. I priced matched the carrying case, so it was ultimately better than the Amazon deal with my 5% off. Excellent deals. About $517 in total. With $400 in Christmas gift money so far, and a promise from my mom to pay for whatever remains (as my Christmas present). Winning!

So, I suppose I will find a special edition console some day, but for now, I made it special with stickers and deals I can brag about.

So, I’m back. Still chaotic, but life is looking up. Thanks for reading, friends!

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Post 15: My First Time as a Dungeon Master: The Playthrough

For Context, Read Post 14: My First Time as a Dungeon Master: The Set Up.

I had a plan with backup plans and a wide array of support. What could possibly go wrong??

Overall, it went pretty well. People enjoyed it. It was fun and humorous. There was one major hiccup, and some player frustration. But, overall, pretty decent.

This Christmas campaign was supposed to last 3 days or so. Since we game once per week, the campaign would have spanned most of December.

We finished the campaign in late February. Oops.

Timing was by far my biggest mistake here. Everyone enjoyed it, but the first week of December is over now, and I am still hesitant to put up Christmas decor – and not just because of my usual reluctance to give up Halloween. We all are. Too much Christmas last year means it needs to chill out this year. (preferably with rain. California needs rain.)


The Play-Through

So, they met Ollie in the bar and were immediately suspicious of his vagueries. Like, immediately. But I filled in the cracks with some plot caulk and kept going.

To this day, the characters hate Ollie. It turns out that being magically transported to another plane without your consent makes some people upset. Who knew? However, thanks to being stuck in another plane, they chose to continue the mission despite their strong desires to spite him.

The lair of a beholder has some tells. When you pass within the boundaries you feel like you are being watched. Just, constantly. So, instead of having my super clever super secret “Santa was the villain all along!” reveal, their plot twist senses were tingling the entire time. Oops. Also, I totally forgot to reveal some of the other lair effects until late on after a reread about beholder lairs.

My possessed Mrs. Claus, played by my friend Diana*, who wasn’t fully versed in D&D rules, was also immediately suspect… because of her nonchalant manner of handling the character. When she was able to get into enjoying roleplaying the character, the players were not enthused because of Diana’s chaotic nature. It was unfortunate, but apparently Mrs. Claus puts the special mushrooms in her late night cookies and, well, there had to be some redacting.

* Diana isn’t her real name, but Pandora isn’t mine, so I have to keep up the anonymity. You understand.

Diana really got to shine in her end battle scene when her evil self was able to act accordingly, rather than trying to keep the secret, unleashing an army of gingerbread cookie constructs and a gingerbread cookie golem (a la Shrek).

These special gingerbread cookies are made with a recipe that allows them to explode on impact as an attack, dealing fire damage. They can also deal the damage when used as a thrown weapon – no animation required. The spell is below, should you choose to use it. I am quite proud. Can you tell?? It was great.

Animate Cookies
I made this custom spell based on the Animate Objects D&D 5e spell. Feel free to steal it for your own games! And tweet me @PandoraCray to let me know how it went!

Speaking of my nifty system above…

Here is the custom spell sheet I made for my guest player, complete with boxes to make check in to check off the spell slots. Custom made. Beautiful.

Possessed Mrs. Claus Spells Sheet

Having batches of anthropomorphic gingerbread cookies attack my players was absolutely excellent. And even though they were able to pretty easily subdue Mrs. Possessed Claus, she still got some good cray-cray-villainy time in before they broke the curse and freed the much less exciting real Mrs. Marie Claus from her fleshy prison. And because Marie Claus is not as insane and evil as the evil sorceress that possessed her, my guest player enthusiastically quit. Which, if I am totally honest here, was a big relief – one less player to wrangle.

As another clue and distraction, I placed a necromancer in the underground tunnels. She is guarded by a granny abominable yeti, named Carol, who speaks common and reads weird romance novels. This necromancer is recently single and miserable, drinking a bit too much vodka, and also uses her dark research to develop technologies to help kids with disabilities. I wanted to give our characters a different viewpoint on necromancy because many of them are extremely biased against necromancy, and I think that it is a great tool for science. I also wanted to make them question any intentions they might have had about murder-hoboing their way through my overly-elaborate dungeon.

The addition of Carol the frisky sassy granny yeti was a last-minute one. You see, I had set up a random encounter table for their journey from the literal North Pole to Santa’s village. They randomly encountered 4 yetis (2 parents and 2 kids) and killed them all. They then found the yeti cave where grandma and grandpa abominable yeti were napping, but chose to avoid that conflict. So, having them befriend Carol was a wonderful way to guilt-trip them about jumping to conclusions and murdering a family of 4 by having her tell them about how she took this guard job to make some money to help out the family because resources have become scarce.

[Insert evil DM laugh here.]

Can you see how my 3 session game lasted way longer than it should have??? Too many side plots!

So, they got through all the big things. All the weird side quests. All the investigations and conversations. They needed a long rest before entering the final chamber and meeting Xanta the beholder.

That final battle was epic. Like I mean, AMAZING. It lasted 2 days. Every player character took damage. Two player characters were downed (Rescued before failing a 3rd death roll). Player characters who had never taken damage took hefty damage. It was amazing. Everything finally came together. They finished out the story. Rescued the characters that needed rescuing. Went back to say farewell to the giants. Absolutely perfect ending.

It was a great 1st time experience. I learned a lot. I hope this inspires you to start campaigns or mini-campaigns of your own. It was a great baby-step to help prepare me for officially DM-ing my own full campaign, which I am working on right now.

Oh, also, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Post 14: My First Time as a Dungeon Master: The Set Up

My first time as a Dungeon Master, I decided to do a Christmas special for my regularly established group to give our regular DM a well-deserved break.

This was last year.

I wanted it to be Christmas themed, with all the bells and whistles. I spent a bunch of money on miniatures, and Christmas decorations. I bought myself a ton of new dice. At the time, our established group was 3 players, 7 main characters, all around level 9. I took on a lot.

I decided to plot out my story using a PowerPoint. I even created my own color-theme so it was properly Christmas-ified (as in American culture Christmas, not religious Christmas).

Capture

D&D Christmas Special 2017 Power Point

This PowerPoint contains screenshots of digital media from Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons manuals, along with some images taken from Google searches for private use. I do not own those images, but I am providing this PowerPoint as a free guide for new DMs who might be inspired, and for some amount of humorous value as a viewing glass into the naivete of my original campaign plan.

So, yeah, PowerPoint.

I also downloaded and paid for the full version of this app: 5e Campaign Lab (Download on Google Play)

PicsArt_12-04-10.53.23.jpg

So, I went into my first time well-educated with a plethora of tools, several hours clocked of watching YouTube DMs give tips and advice, and quite a bit of enthusiasm.


Synopsis of my Christmas Special Plot:

The trickster god Olidammara shows up at the group’s favorite bar, disguised as an olive-skinned, brown-haired bard who looks to be about 15 years old. He plays his magical kantele and flirts with everyone in the room – dripping charisma. At the end of the night, he approaches the group, asking to speak with them in the previously non-existent back room of the bar. He informs them that he is an “old friend” of the barkeep (a person whom our characters were aware was secretly thousands of years old). He propositions the group of adventurers, introducing himself as “Ollie” and asking them to help him save his friends, whom he hasn’t heard from in awhile. They heartily agree, leave the room to begin packing for the trip, and find themselves instantly teleported, without warning, to “The North Pole”.

Little do they know that The North Pole, previously ruled by an amicable Santa Claus, is now ruled by an insane beholder disguised as Santa Claus. The previous Santa Claus’s wife, Marie, has been possessed by an evil sorceress. Together, Xanta and the possessed Marie are terrorizing the North Pole with chaos and evil.

The mission is to save Olidammara’s Chosen, a small group of bards, from the grasp of this evil beholder, Xanta. But, they must figure that out for themselves.

Olidammara’s Chosen:

  • Marie, an older human woman who plays the kantele and leads the group. She became possessed with the beholder, Xanta, disguised by a magical item as her husband, gave her the gift of a cursed kantele. When she isn’t possessed, she is a badass feminine figure, and a level 18 bard who is great with children, fun, and flirty: a true representative of a trickster god with her many pranks and mischievous antics.
  • Ember, a tough-as-nails petite older female half-gnome/half-half-orc, who plays a full-sized bass. She is the sole escapee of the mass North Pole takeover, and hid away strategically while trying to find her wife and praying for Olidammara to send help. She is my favorite character. When the group arrives, she cheekily flirts with the orc barbarian, and insists on going along to rescue her wife, Sarai. Her magical full-sized acoustic bass is an entire foot taller than she is, and made of steel, but she carries it effortlessly due to her strength score of 20, (25 with an additional magic item). It is a battle bard weapon, containing a great sword, greataxe, and a whip within. Her orc blood is largely invisible in her physical appearance, but it lends itself in her strength, abilities, and temper. She is a badass, and I love her.
  • Sarai, an older soft-spoken  mischievous female gnome who is married to Ember, but in an open relationship, and plays the flute.
  • Eddie, a young, somewhat naive and dumb male dwarf who plays the drums – very much so a drummer stereotype.
  • D’rique, a very feminine female half-orc in her 20s who sings and probably plays some kind of percussion, but she never really became relevant because she was one of the first to die when Marie initially became possessed.

When they make it to Santa’s Village, they meet with Xanta, who explains away the suspicious oddities by sending them on a mission to the frost giants’ castle to save a group of dwarves that serve as their hunters, a group that includes Eddie. As it turns out, the giants are not the villains here (PLOT TWIST!), and the castle is ruled by two gay af frost giant queens. (I wanted to make sure there was plenty of gayness and a plethora of strong women in my story). The dwarves were rightfully being held prisoner because of their hugely flawed plan to kill one of the giants’ horses and bring it home for meat.

With this giant diversion in play, the group goes to save the dwarves while Xanta continues his evil deeds.


So, with all of my planning and tools and plot, surely I was ready to flawlessly embark on my first campaign as a dungeon master…

Read about how the actual gameplay went in my next post (which will be up Saturday)!

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Post 13: How to use Humor to Deal with your Mental Health Issues

I’d like to give a key mention here to Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.

This is her first book: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (I haven’t read her other books, yet.)

Her Twitter: @AllieBrosh

She is my inspiration when I write and say humorous things about my mental health. Because, if we’re being honest, humor is a wonderful coping mechanism. And, falling off the couch trying to reach for the remote because you are too depressive to stand up and get it is hilarious.

I choose to use humor for my mental health. Many of my friends do the same for their mental health. However, there are many others who do not. It is perfectly okay to handle your mental health in whatever way is best for you, but this is my way. 

I have previously blogged about my use of the spoon metaphor, and how I choose to bend it to my humorous whims. This blog is a broader take on a similar mechanism for coping.

I’d like to give a key mention here to Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.

This is her first book: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (I haven’t read her other books, yet.)

Her Twitter: @AllieBrosh

She is my inspiration when I write and say humorous things about my mental health. Because, if we’re being honest, humor is a wonderful coping mechanism. And, falling off the couch trying to reach for the remote because you are too depressive to stand up and get it is hilarious.

I choose to use humor for my mental health. Many of my friends do the same for their mental health. However, there are many others who do not. It is perfectly okay to handle your mental health in whatever way is best for you, but this is my way. 

I have previously blogged about my use of the spoon metaphor, and how I choose to bend it to my humorous whims. This blog is a broader take on a similar mechanism for coping.

1. Realize that it is okay to laugh and cry at the same time. 

Emotions are weird because humans are weird. You can simultaneously be laughing hysterically while  sobbing miserably. It is okay. Mental health issues are a special kind of effed up, so expect the unexpected. If you made a terrible and horrifying joke that makes you laugh and cry in horror, go with it. I am pretty sure that laugh-crying is better that sitting in miserable silence or nothingness.

2. Have people with similar humor around you.

If you make a joke that genuinely horrifies someone, it won’t do much to help you feel better while they are trying to lecture you about how bad your joke is. Make sure that the environment around you matches the humor inside you. This includes your chosen internet destination. If you are chatting with people online, playing a game, etc, keep yourself away from people whose humor doesn’t match your own. 

3. Bad jokes are the best jokes.

Was your joke too easy? Overdone? Lame? GOOD! Things can’t really go poorly if they already suck. If I am on the couch dying of thirst next to an empty water bottle, I will feel no regrets over bad jokes. Yes, I have made that pun 3 times in the same day. I don’t care. It is funny. It makes me laugh. Water you gonna do about it???

Depressive time is time to enjoy stupid things – like stupid jokes.

4. Find entertainment from other people who are good at making jokes about their disabilities.

  • Allie Brosh is my prevailing example.
  • Toph from Avatar the Last Airbender makes tons of blind jokes about herself.
  • Enjoy the antics of hilarious people who joke about their missing limbs.
  • Follow my adventures, lol.
  • I’ll add more examples as I find them.

5. Don’t slip too far into the dark. 

I tend to stay away from suicide jokes as a personal preference. As a suicide attempt survivor, I recognize that words are powerful, and even talking about it jokingly gets me too close to the concept.

This is why it is important that humor is a coping mechanism, rather than a disguise for actual danger.

People who aren’t going through shit probably shouldn’t get to make jokes about it. No joking without experience. No joking about other people. If you lose a privilege, then you gain the right to joke about it. For instance, I get to make bipolar jokes, migraine jokes, cripple jokes, poor jokes, short jokes, mixed jokes, etc. I have all of those features. I don’t get to make Jewish jokes, autism jokes, tall jokes, blond jokes, etc. I think it is pretty simple. If you let your non-depressed friends make depression jokes, they are likely to hit an unintended nerve and defeat the purpose of the humor. 

7. You are not obligated to laugh.

You can find something funny and not laugh. Laughing is hard when nothing seems right. When you are down, it is okay to be down. The important part is that you find your way back into the light eventually. Things get better. They do; I swear. They get worse. They stay the same. But, they always get better. But while you are waiting, feel free to acknowledge the funny parts of your unfortunate brain predicament.

Tweet me @PandoraCray!

Post 12: Reasons Why Cats are my Favorite Pets (and links to convenient cat hacks)

I started with other people’s cats. Then no cats. Then 2 cats. Now 3 cats. They love me, and not in the overstimulating way that dogs tend to show love.

Which is what I need: love that is soft, fluffy, and also calm. Also, honestly, for me, meowing is much less stressful than barking.

1. Cats are mostly self-sufficient, especially with the right tools.

Full disclosure: I have had all 3 of my cats since they were kittens (one of which is still a kitten), and I have been able to train them to like various forms of attention that other cats might protest against, and to keep from doing things like scratching furniture and chewing on things (for the most part). The times when they forget (or “forget”), as soon as I tell them their special version of “No,” they stop. A little bit of training in the beginning makes them a lot better off in the end. They usually don’t need baths because they clean themselves. Indoor cats use a litter box and don’t need to be let outside, and then back inside, and then back outside, and then inside, and outside and inside, and NO I am NOT gonna leave the door open for you! They have a self-cleaning litter box, a timed feeder, and a water fountain. All of these things make them even more low-maintenance than they might otherwise be.


Links to my: self-cleaning litterbox, its reuseable tray, my favorite crystal litter (more reliably available and usually cheaper at PetSmart), timed feederpet water fountain (with filter), and replacement filters. My stuff is the stuff I got from friends and Craigslist, and is over 2 years old – so there are better products out there. But, these are the ones I can attest to.


 

Back to my cats. And cats in general that I have met.

2. Cats are good for my mental health.

In case you have not read anything else from me, it is somewhat relevant to note that I am bipolar. Sometimes, I can’t just feel better. Sometimes I am illogically lost in a depressive streak. Sometimes humans just can’t deal with that, because it brings them down, and that is okay. They need their mental health too. Cats, however, being calm creatures with relatively small needs, who are mostly self-sufficient, can be a wonderful comforting presence.

Cats are not all aloof and spiteful, like the stereotypes. They are often very cuddly and loving. Some of them love kisses and belly rubs and toe massages. At least mine do.

So, when I am depressive af, and am laying on the couch uselessly, with some kind of Netflix or YouTube or Hulu or Prime on the TV (if I made it to the remotes before I became too useless to move), I usually have at least one cat who has curled up in my lap or somewhere close by.

Purring is a very comforting noise. It is a comforting feeling. The soft belly rumbles of a cat are a sign that they love you, and it is quite possibly the best feeling ever. And when you are depressed, having a cat that is willing to remain near you, give you attention, and purr in your lap, is one small sign that things just might be okay – which means a lot.

3. Cats are playful in hilarious ways.

Cats are not necessarily all chill, though. If you find the right toy, such as:

  • a laser pointer
  • jingly balls
  • crinkly balls
  • mouse/mouse-like toys
  • feathers on sticks
  • ribbons
  • shoelaces
  • twist ties
  • water bottles and/or their caps
  • Nerf darts mysteriously found in random places
  • literally anything plastic that slides across the floor
  • the scarf you are trying to quickly put on while running late
  • the mysterious moving object under the blanket that is either my deliberate attempt at endangering my hand for cuteness, OR my sleeping toes
  • sheets, especially if you are trying to make the bed
  • wrapping paper
  • the tail of one of your other cats
  • your fun flowy skirt, especially if you’re walking by and trying to reach a destination
  • a coin they found on the floor (I had to take that one away for fear she would swallow it)
  • etc.

Once you find the right toy, the game is afoot. I have made my cats become so excited that they have done literal backflips to catch a thing. It is precious, hilarious, and made of pure joy.

4. Cats are relatively small, and therefore good for smaller living spaces.

Unless you have a Norwegian giant catasaurus, cats are a reasonably small pet. They are not as unpredictable as many dog species (I’ve known many people who have bought small puppies and were told they were toy-sized or small-sized breeds which grew to be giant, Clifford the Big Red Dog style). Their voices are also relatively small, unlike even small dogs (like yapping chihuahuas). They use vertical space (or at least, many cats do), rather than horizontal space, so with some cat trees and accessible bookcases, they have a whole exciting world to explore.

5. Cats are territorial, but not in an “I’m gonna eat the mailperson” or “That pizza delivery person will know my wrath!” way.

I can safely answer the door without fire and fury running ahead of me. My neighbors are also unbothered by the meows of my cats, because they can’t hear them. The soft meows are especially great when I have migraines. Even in a small apartment, the most territorial they get is “no touchy!” before running away. You might get a cat that swipes at you, but proper training can usually curb that behavior (although some cats have PTSD, and should be handled more carefully). Their usual way of handling any discomfort of people they don’t know is to lurk in corners or high above where they can keep an eye on things. Their usual way of handling fear is to hiss and/or run away. But for me, the best part is not worrying about them running out the door angrily at the person bringing me exciting goodies. (My roommate’s dog did the whole barking and running to the door thing and terrified the pizza delivery woman who had a fear of dogs – not ideal.)

Cats are great. I love them dearly. They are just my speed, and suit my pet needs. I hope this helps anyone who is looking for reasons to get a cat, or ways to make having a cat easier.

Tweet me @PandoraCray!