In a couple of days 2016 will hopefully Exit, pursued by a bear.

I won’t lie, it’s been a difficult year. Sometime down the line I may also see it as a useful, productive, or possibly even personally strengthening year, but for the time being the main word that comes to mind is “shitty”. Not that I’m looking for sympathy — for many others it’s been an even worse year. RIP so damn many famous / fun / influential / brave / honest / talented people I cared for since I hit the age of 12. Oh wait, earlier – Richard Adams also died just the other day. And we’re not even going to talk about Syria, world politics, Brexit, American politics, or money.

To misquote (or fix, that’s how I see it) her Majesty ERII, this has been an Anus Horribilis.

It’s been kind of bleh on the gaming front too. I’ve hopped from MMO to MMO for a few weeks here and there but nothing sticks. Ditto single-player stuff. I don’t have the headspace and/or I have better things to be doing, like figuring out ways to approach my upended selbstanschauung. I dropped out of the face-to-face tabletop RPG group I was in, and shortly thereafter dropped out of the VTT-RPG group I was in. Both were good decisions at the time, and while I miss spending time and having fun with all those people, I couldn’t handle being around anyone, in person or online, for the greater part of this year.

(Quick reminder: In June or July I was diagnosed with both Sensory Processing Disorder and Asperger’s. You’d think that in 47 [now 48] years on the planet I’d have noticed those things for myself by now, but apparently that’s not how it works, especially when you’re ‘high functioning’ and really good at hiding things. Anyway, different discussion for another time. The salient fact right now is that my issues had been getting much worse since the death of my dad in 2012, got even worser (it’s a word) (now) starting in Feb this year, and made it extremely difficult for me to work, go out, or basically function in any way generally considered ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’.)

Long story short, I have started taking a tricyclic medication which — cautious hurrah! — appears to have a greatly calming effect on the anxiety that basically comes along for the ride with the above-named issues. It does nothing for said issues, but not being in a constant state of dread sure is helpful. Therapy (just CBT for now) seems like it may also be helpful, but with only 2 sessions under my belt I can’t really comment for sure.

The good thing about that is that for the first time in months I feel able to be around people again. So I’ve joined a local tabletop RPG listing/meetup group thingy and have posted that I’d like to run a one-off session of something light and fun.

We’ll see if anything comes of it. Chances are nobody will reply because that’s the nature of these things — and if nobody does, that’s ok. I’ve put myself out there in whatever tiny way — but for just one session, which means I can flee if it’s too much. I won’t be committing myself to something lasting/regular and therefore won’t feel awful if/when I flee and let people down (as per the two groups this year). That same meetup collective holds single-session gatherings every week, and while they’re too late in the day and too far away for me right now (evenings + distance are a bit of an issue), maybe that will change.

Baby steps. And of course, there have been some good points this year as well, because life is rarely just black or white. I have made some new friends. I’m learning things about myself (however bloody painfully), about others, and about mental health, which has always fascinated me. I might start writing again (someday – freaking baby steps, people).

Have a lovely, warm, safe and alone/surrounded New Year, as your preferences and needs dictate. Let’s bury 2016 somewhere deep and dark, surrounded in garlic and with its head cut off just to be on the safe side.


Sensory Integration whaaa? #MentalHealth

I originally posted this on Facebook and thought that was more than enough exposure, but I have a feeling that reaching out to others (and emulating the courage I see in folks who do it routinely) about this mental health thing might be helpful for me, in some weird ‘I don’t quite get it but it seems to have some Zen-like benefit in there somewhere’ kind of way.

And as someone who made it FORTY-SEVEN FUCKING YEARS without a diagnosis (OK, maybe 42, I remember being 7 and having issues with sounds and textures, lights and emotions), if posting this sparks any kind of recognition in even one other person, it’ll be worth it. Because as the smart young lady over at Eating Off Plastic says,

I’m almost certain nobody that has this condition actually enjoys it


True dat.

Everyone has some kind of sensory sensitivity, or certainly everyone I’ve ever met. But please don’t confuse that with Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory Integration Disorder, which I somewhat prefer). Crank ALL your senses, including the emotional ones, up to 13, 24/7/365 (yes, even while asleep) x 4 decades and then let’s talk.

And I’m high-functioning. God only knows what it’s like to have this and not be. On the other hand, my very high-functioningnessabilityation is probably to blame for my rather elevated* levels of anxiety, but oh well. We’re dealing with that.

So here’s the text of the Facebook post, shared a bit more widely than the close family and friends I target over there. Now please excuse me while I go hide under a rock and pretend I didn’t do this.

Long post about my mental health incoming.

Today I had my last permitted consultation with the amazing and wonderful Cognitive Behavioral Health lady at the 377th Medical Group in ABQ. An hour later my referral to UNM Neuropsychology (which had been languishing on the desk of my newly-promoted-to-Captain Primary Care Manager [aka Doctor for Euros]) came through, so that will be the next step.

I am still rather uncomfortable discussing all this, even at the remove offered by Facebook, but wonderful CBH lady says it’s fine if I want to share and not unhealthy, so here we are, just to keep my friends and some family updated.

It seems my sensory integration issues may be at the root of pretty much everything that’s eating this Gilberta Grape, though it took 4 decades to get a diagnosis. Even the vertigo. Certainly the anxiety, and possibly the self-esteem issues (which are way worse than most people know because, as usual, ‘high-functioning’. Am starting to really hate that term).

And I may be further on the autism spectrum than I thought, given that I never expected to be on it at all, even on the cool, look-at-all-these-smart-people Asperger’s end of it. As a single example, turns out my issues with feelings (having them, expressing them, dealing with them, doing anything other than pretending they’re not there and can be intellectualised into something else) are not uncommon on that spectrum.

It’s all very, very weird. The diagnosis fits like a shoe you never realised you were wearing, or maybe like a shoe you’ve spent 40 years pretending you weren’t wearing. So it makes sense, but it’s weird. I’m not quite sure how to deal with it. I can’t just ignore it because it won’t go away and it’s affecting my life so negatively right now that I must choose to do something about it.

The next step (see how the shoe metaphor works for me here) is UNM’s neuropsychology department, assuming they accept my case, and Occupational Therapy for what I’ve got. Whatever that really is. It’s difficult to get information as someone diagnosed in adulthood because most of it is aimed at kids, but I’m digging out resources here and there.

And I’m not alone out there. Which is helpful, in a distant kind of way. Here’s one really fun blog that is more baldly honest about *ulp* feelings than I could be in a million years. [See Eating Off Plastic link above. Come on, scroll back. You can do it.]

* I originally wrote ‘insane levels’ but then I figured that wasn’t terribly sensitive. Because I care about that – actually no, I don’t, but I do care about not calling myself crazy. BTDT, it’s not healthy.

Begone, 2015!

Happy New Year everyone.

2015 wasn’t exactly a banner year here, but it wasn’t a dreadful one either. I do need to thank the Belghast once again for his Blaugust initiative, without which this blog would have seen a great deal fewer posts this year and be that much closer to extinction. As it is, we cling grimly to life for another year, but not so well that I’m going to embarrass us all with the stats.

Have a good NYE if you’re celebrating, don’t drink and drive (seriously), and may your 2016 be happy, healthy and harmonious.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01:  Fireworks light up the skyline over Sydney Harbour during the midnight fireworks session as Sydney Celebrates New Year's Eve with the theme of 'Time To Dream' on January 1, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Freebie Calendar – The Roll of Doom

So in the end there were only like 3 names to roll between for my ah-mayzing calendar giveaway, literally:

And since I’m a useless tosser and forgot that yesterday was Monday and The Great Roll-Off day, I’m going to roll it live right now. Please try to contain your excitement.

We’re going to use our handy-dandy Wizards of the Coast dice roller:

WOTC roller

And we’re going to roll 1d3. We could roll 1d6 and assign two numbers to each contestant. Or 1d100 and ignore the 100, or… Whoops sorry, going all nerdy there for a second. Stephanie shall be 1, Syl shall be 2, and TBCKAB shall be 3. 4 is right out. Anyway, heeeeeere we go. Drum-roll please…..


Syl wins the calendar!

/corks pop /applause /and-the-crowd-of-5-goes-wild

kermitwildIncidentally, the main image results for Googling “Kermit goes wild” are enough to make you lose your faith in humanity. Assuming you had any to begin with.

@Syl, you’re going to have to PM me your snail-mail address, though there’s no huge hurry since I don’t have either calendar yet. I’m guessing this won’t happen until the new year. You can reach me at ysharros at gmail dot com.

Tabletop RPGs – Firefly

Burn the land and boil the sea

I’m jumping around all these shiny new-to-me systems like a flea with another flea up its butt, and I have to admit the idea of playing Firefly is super-hyper-duper-attractive, at least on paper. In RPGs like in so many other games, sometimes the idea of playing something is a lot better than the actual experience, but we don’t always know until we try it. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to try it.

The Clues before Snooze  group (oh yes please, get me a better name, I’ll pay you in free mints) is now two groups, cunningly named Left-Pondians (North-America) and Right-Pondians (Europe). We’re sitting at 3-6 players for the Left-Pondians and currently 3 for the Right-Pondians, and there are spaces left in the Europe-time group if anyone is interested; let me know in the comments or wherever.*

We have no idea what we’re going to play next, in either group, though I’m glad they all had a good enough time with the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition playtesting to want to carry on. I’m certainly not going to force a system or setting on anyone, though I will definitely argue for trying Firefly in at least one of them, likely the Right-Pondians because Brian, one of our Left-Pondian players, is *gasp* not a die-hard fan of the series. I know, right?! (Here’s an excellent post on how it’s warm and comfy as a childhood Saturday in front of the telly. And yes, Mr. Fillion is totes swoon-worthy as the complete smart yet stupid, slightly bumbling but strong almost-bad-boy, thinking girl’s crumpet package. Ahem. Where were we?)


So, yes. Going to be trying this one out, even if I have to play with myself.

Play IT with myself.

Yes. That.

You can’t take the sky from me

In my quest to remember how to GM (which is roughly like riding a bicycle) and almost certainly as a desperate displacement tactic so that I don’t actually have to think about the upcoming don’t-yet-exist omg-what-shall-we-do campaigns — because I’m glutton enough to want to do it not once, but twice, for two different groups — I’ve been reading system books, GMing books, prepping books, GMing and gaming and playing and RPG websites and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! My brand-new download of Evernote is already brimming with things to read, remember, or consider.

I’ve even downloaded the demo version of Scrivener to see if it’ll help me manage my games more effectively, because my management technique is pretty much exactly like what I described my brain to be: an explosion in a gummy-bear factory:


I’ve only run through the tutorial but so far it seems pretty awesome. It’s structured, which will help me, but not so structured that my brain rebels and goes FUCK YOU I’M JUST GOING TO USE POST-IT NOTES THAT WILL FALL OFF THE MONITOR AND GET EATEN BY THE DOGS AND THEN YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHO THE BIG BAD WAS WHO TRAPPED TIMMY DOWN THE MINE.

My brain likes to shout at me. The meds should be kicking in any day now.

They also do an idea-jotter that’s kinda-sorta-but-not-quite like a mind-mapping program, called Snapple. No wait, Scrapple. No, that’s not it. Scapple!

Best of all, both versions come with a 30-day trial which is a genuine 30 days of use trial, not a 30-days-from-when-you-install-it trial. That’s the kind of demo I like, especially when it’s for a product that looks as though I might seriously want it. They’re giving me plenty of time to become irretrievably hooked… and then buying them isn’t even that expensive. Oh, they are cunning.

Anyway, to get back to the original point, I’ve added about a million new sites to the Feedly feed I don’t check nearly enough, because somehow in all the other crap going on in my life I’ll find the time to read 25 blog posts every day. (Said lots of people, perhaps, but not me, ever.**)

Here are two I found just today, shared because they cropped up in my search for Firefly reviews and I loved the style and tone of both of them: The Reef and Ed Plays Games. Also, as a French person and French-speaker, I can’t not like someone whose domain name is Nasty Anemone.

All right then. Since this blog post is itself a displacement activity that I’m doing to delay the time I have to sit down and try to brainstorm some campaign ideas (because I want to have a few ideas the groups can spitball off rather than starting in a vacuum and the inevitable awkward silence***), I’d best toddle off and do that thing.

Just like riding a bicycle…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* The groups are intended to meet for sessions once every two weeks, since even in my RPG-deprived state I don’t think I can run two sessions and attend another as a player every week. Prospective players will be asked to commit to that as best they can, or there’s little point in having a ‘regular’ gaming group. We’re currently using Roll20 as a VTT platform and it works rather better than I expected, though we haven’t exactly stretched its capacities so far.

** But I live in hope. I am going to give Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done method another shot in the new year. I’m half-hooked from my first read-through of the method some months back but have yet to apply most of the principles. But I will. Because as a chronically anxious person with real issues finding meds that work, anything that lets me empty the whirling morass that is my brain and occasionally actually relax, knowing that things are under some semblance of control, would be wonderful.

*** See what I did there?



IntPiPoMo – Pets and places

I’m not much of one to be photographed, and I don’t much care about photographing other people, however horrible and antisocial that may sound. But landscapes, the weather, my pets and other animals… those I do like to take pictures of. Here are a few of the ones I found when going through the 2013 folders. Note that I am an enthusiastic but entirely unskilled photographer.

You know, I could make a killer slide set from those, invite some friends over, and drive them all insane by forcing them to watch 3,000 slides that nobody but me gives a shit about.

In the meantime, here’s a half-dozen or so. That’s only worth 1d4 SAN points. Click for much larger versions.

None of the images are processed (I wouldn’t know how).

1 & 2: We live on the eastern slopes of the Sandia mountains near Albuquerque, and they’re different from moment to moment 365 days a year. Our sunsets are really short but they make up for it by being quite frequently incandescent. I keep trying to capture the colours but don’t usually succeed.

Sunset over the Sandias


3. Only one snow picture. I’m being restrained, because it occurs to me that not everyone finds cold wet white stuff as fascinating as I do.


4-9 : My dogs and assorted other animals. Neva, the husky, gives the one of the best head-tilts I’ve ever seen on a dog. The birds are just cute, and hard to capture (for me, anyway).

Wait, what?
Wait, what?
Basenji in the snow
Basenji in the snow




And finally, 10: A picture of my grandad’s house. No, seriously, it’s a picture of Chambord Castle in the Loire valley, which is only a few miles from where my grandad used to live. I am not allowed to bring people to that area without a) making them visit lots of local markets, sample lots of cheese and sample even more wine and b) making them visit this particular castle among the gajillons that line the various rivers of the region. The castle itself is some medieval e-peen thing where the French king Francis I was trying to prove that he had a bigger one than everyone else.



Quick Kistarter stuffz

Tabletop and non-MMO stuff, oh noes.

First off, the Interface Zero kickstarter. If the name means nothing to you, this KS might not be for you. Me, I knew immediately and I am throwing some money at them because tabletop frenzy. And because cyberpunk. And because I like Kickstarter. Click the pic for the KS project page.

IZ KS project

I had this discussion with several different groups over the last few weeks, namely how I love Kickstarter and how they either don’t like it or don’t trust it. I get that, and I’ve heard some of the horror stories. I’ll just say that for myself, I don’t view it as ‘I’m buying a stake in an enterprise/company, so I should get to share in the profits’ (as some people I was talking with have said). I view it as providing undemanding patronage to someone whose work I feel deserves support. And I use the word patronage advisedly. (Yes, I support several Patron endeavours too.)

Every successful Kickstarter I’ve ever supported (all dozen or so of them) has provided me with a product, or will shortly provide me with a product, or might someday provide me with a product but I don’t really mind whether it ever does or not.

Wait, what? Ysharros has so much money she can afford to just throw it away on projects that might never come to fruition?

Not quite. I’m not rolling in cash by any means, but neither am I living at the poverty line. I have enough that I can donate some to charity… and can use some to support projects where a) I believe in the author/entity, b) I believe in the product, c) I believe the endeavour deserves support in the form of some cash, whether or not it ever comes to fruition, or d) all of the above.

I’m careful about what I back and I don’t see Kickstarter as my cheap-games and game-related-products grocery store. That’s why I don’t get mad if there are delays — shit happens. The reason people (ok, ethical and honest people) do Kickstarters is because they have a cool idea and can’t quite afford to fund it themselves. The reason I support those Kickstarters is because I agree that their project is a cool idea and I am happy to lend a hand to support the net volume of ART and CREATIVE ENDEAVOUR available in the universe.

So yes, I Kickstarter for philosophical, not economic reasons. And I’m perfectly happy with that. YMMV.

passion planner

Next up, a completely not game-related personal planner. I pledged last year and I’ll be pledging to this new effort too because I approve. Do I follow everything Ms. Trinidad tells me to do? No, but I’d probably be better-organised and a lot less anxious if I did. Will I try to do better? For sure. And I get to help someone else get one as I get one? Awesome! Quote:

Why another Kickstarter?

I started this company wanting to give the world a tool that I wish existed when I was feeling lost. 

From day one, we have offered the PDF for anyone to use for free; we launched our Pay-it-Forward program, a program that allows people pay a planner forward to a stranger in need at half the cost; and we’ve given thousands of Passion Planners to 84 non-profits all around the country.

But we want to do more.

Now, on our two year anniversary, Passion Planner is taking one of our biggest steps forward. Today, through Kickstarter, we are becoming a Get-1-Give-1 Company.

Every time you purchase a Passion Planner we are going to give one to someone in need. When you invest in yourself, you will also be investing in the dreams of someone else.

Even for someone as resistant to organisation as I am these little planners are awesome, so I thought I’d put this out there for fellow stationery addicts or organised wannabes. Apparently we are legion.

End of a short era

So we brought the last 2 mouseketeers to the NM Wildlife Rescue Center in Albuquerque this morning.

We lost Cyclops in the dark hours between 4 and 6AM, though he seemed fine at midnight and 2, ate and pooped well and did all the things a little mouse does (which is eat, sleep, poop and wriggle). That was a shock to Ken and me both because once again we thought last night that we were heading in a more positive direction. (In hindsight, I’m wondering if that increasingly popped-out left eye was a sign of some internal damage incurred during the dogs’ exploration of the nest and the babies last Saturday. Maybe there was something going on there that would have killed him no matter what we did. Not that that helps…)

Anyway, the nice lady at the Rescue Centre said it had been a long shot, everyone told us it would be a long shot, we knew it was a long shot… and none of that stopped me from getting attached and trying. We brought Lazarus back from the dead twice on Thursday (hence the name), but after Cyclops this morning we realised maybe we didn’t have the know-how or the equipment. Lazarus and his unnamed brother will hopefully have an easier time in a facility that includes incubators and experts. Not that we don’t know a great deal about mammals (we both do), but we’re clearly not neonate rodent experts.

I know it was the right decision, but I still feel bad for ‘giving up’ on them, even though that’s not at all what we did.

Well, enough of that for now. As for the title, click-baity as it is for those who have been following the mouse saga, it was the least click-baity I could think of. My first idea, “And then there were none,” would have been a great deal worse.

No pix. I forgot to take pix when we dropped them off in their little shoebox with the donated sheepy dog-toy and the shredded paper and toilet paper. Also, I had something in my eye and had to escape to the parking lot. I still do, actually.