Saturday, January 11, 2014

in which i give a lot of information about medical stuff

warning: there is going to potentially be TMI here about my lady parts. seriously. don't read if you don't like hearing about periods, uteri, and words like "gynecologist."


ok! so yeah. i have had a pretty poor history for the last, oh, i don't know, 15 years of my life? when it comes to my lady parts. when i was 19, i had an abortion, and afterwards i found out that i have a tilted uterus, which is why i have such horrible pain and bleeding. to counter that, the doctors put me on the pill, which worked on and off for ten years. in 2008, after years of having horrible migraines and trying to work out what medication would work best, i decided to stop taking the pill. my migraines stopped, but wonderful adventures in terrible pain had just begun.

as each year goes by, as each month goes by, i'm never sure what's going to happen. my period never comes on the same day each month; sometimes it comes five days early, sometimes it's a week late (that's always fun). the pain has become worse and worse, to the point that in november it was so excruciating - and the bleeding was so heavy - that i went to the gynecologist.

i guess i should backtrack a bit here. when i was 21, i was diagnosed with HPV, which was terrifying. i had to go to the doctor every three months for constant checkups, and in 2007, i was told i had CIN 3 cells, which is pretty darn close to cancer. i had to get a LEEP done (DO NOT RECOMMEND MUCH PAIN), and after that, i needed to have my birth canal scraped, because they thought the cells had passed through there to my other organs, and that i was at high risk for cancer. (again, fun weeks.) my HPV cleared in 2010, which meant i could go back to normal yearly visits. but i started having horrible pain and terrible bleeding, and had to go in on an off-time to get checked out. the doctor recommended an ultrasound, in which they found nothing - from my descriptions, they think i had a small cyst which may have ruptured. GOOD TIMES ALL AROUND.

so, in november, i went back, complaining of the same pain and heavy bleeding. they did an ultrasound and found two masses - one they said was possibly a cyst, and the other was possibly a "degenerating fybroid," i think was the exact term. she wanted me to come back in 60-90 days, right after my period, to try to see if it was still there or not.

i went back this past monday. the larger mass was still there.

now, i went back monday thinking they were going to say "yup, no big deal, it's gone." instead, what i got was a phone call from my gynecologist, saying that the mass was still there, that it could be an endymetria, and that she wanted me to make an appointment with one of the physicians there because they might want to perform surgery to remove it.

i just about had heart failure when i heard her say the word "surgery."

i haven't done what i usually do, which is google the shit out of this stuff to figure out what exactly it is, because i am currently paralyzed with fear over it and am doing my best to try not to think about it at all. the soonest they can see me for a consultation is february 6th, so i'm just going to do my best to not freak the fuck out about it and go about life as usual. but it's been really difficult to concentrate, and even things i normally do to zone out have not been successful.

so i guess what i'm saying is, if i seem stressed out, or distant, or just flat out disappear for hours/days at a time, or i don't get something done that i should, please don't take it personally, and please feel free to prod me if you need something. i'm a little distracted right now.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

well hello, 2014

in the weeks leading up to it, i wasn't sure what we were going to do for new years eve. it's anthony's favorite holiday, so i really wanted to make it special, but i wasn't sure what we could do. we moved to west philly a few months ago, and honestly, we haven't gone to a single bar out here, so i wasn't even sure what would be a good place to go. two years ago, we went to lucky thirteen down in south philly, which is near his old place, and met up with some friends. we drank, talked, laughed, and had a lot of fun. last year, we went to our friend jason and kim's house, where we ate, drank, and played board games all night. this year, when i asked anthony what he wanted to do, all he said was that he wanted to "have a few drinks and dance."

my immediate reaction to that was "let's go to silk city!" but it seemed that every place had some kind of cover charge just to get in - whether open bar was included or not. finally, on new years eve, our friends adam and stacy texted us saying they wanted to come out, too, and to let them know what we were doing. we texted our friends fritz and kristin, who had come to the bar with us two years before, and formed a small posse. after some consulting, we decided on dahlak, an ethiopian restaurant/bar/hookah bar just a few blocks away. it was a really sweet night - we all met up, talked, laugh, drank, and even danced a little. oh, and we used the photobooth/jukebox to take some pictures, too.

the kittens were a nice touch.

afterwards, anthony and i headed back to stacy and adam's place for nachos and television, where we proceeded to watch impractical jokers until two in the morning. when we got home, we stayed up playing video games - i finally, FINALLY finished infamous 2, which i thought was a pretty big disappointment. i mean, seriously, the good ending is that cole DIES? that's really, really stupid. everything about that game was just sort of blah. i am really hoping that infamous second son is as good as it looks, because i need my faith restored in the series. i absolutely loved the first infamous, but even playing the demo for infamous 2 made me feel like something was off about it. i don't know. maybe i just got soured about the new voice actor and never got over it. but i also wasn't into the controls... they were just different (and inaccurate) enough to be annoying. it probably does help that i didn't play it on evil, which is where you get all of the world-destroying powers that are way more fun.

we woke up the next morning and did nothing but play video games all day. that's not true... i did do a load of laundry! so that's something. we played legend of dungeon co-op on his computer, then torchlight II with our new setup (ant on his new computer and me on his old computer attached to the television in the living room), and then hammerwatch on his computer. they're all so much fun, and it's so exciting to be able to play them together, whether it's side-by-side with controllers or a room away with our separate PCs. we ordered dinner, watched an anime ant likes called giant robo, which is really interesting, and then spent the rest of the night writing and playing games. it was wonderful, other than the fact that 3AM rolled around and i still wasn't tired, and had to return to work in the morning. i finally laid down until i fell asleep, and then woke up bright and early and made it into work on time.


it was interesting being back at work after being off for over a week. i had lots of emails and plenty to do, but classes weren't set to start until monday, so it was nice to have time to ease into it without too many people around. anthony got sent home super early because his office was full of asbestos - yikes! his boss told them to be sure to call the weather hotline to see if they had work in the morning (he works at university of penn), and he said, will they know if the asbestos has been cleared out? and she said, do you not know it's supposed to snow a ton tonight? and he laughed and said no. adorable. our friends josh and phin came over, and when i got home, they were playing the board game anthony made, kobolds, with super dungeon explore pieces. it was fun! we played some tok tok woodman afterwards, and then spent the rest of the night writing and gaming. we are trying to get the platinum trophy in diablo III, which seemed totally doable until we got to the "get five million gold" trophy. we have beaten the game four or five times and only have two million. aieeee!! that's going to take forever.

friday morning we woke up to... a snow day! hooray! i had a doctor's appointment but i rescheduled it because there was no way i was going outside. i need some new snow boots, which i'm putting off because i want to get the perfect pair, which has proven to be difficult. i want something waterproof, that is warm enough for the snow but cool enough for the summer, and also attractive. it looks like sorel might be my best bet so far. i mean, look at these beauties:

these are not my feet.

much wow. but sadly much wow is also the price, which is a lot. also, they are called cate of alexandria, which is an amazing name for a show. realistically, what i need is a waterproof boot with a liner that doesn't cost too much money and will last me a while, and also has some kind of tread on it so i don't fall. but i would like for it to be attractive, which seems to be a lot to ask for in a practical boot.

the search continues. also, i know as soon as i buy the right boots, it will stop snowing, so... yeah. i like snow and snow days. i'm not in a hurry, even if it means getting snow and salt on my sneakers.

friday we just bummed around and mostly played more hammerwatch and watched futurama, until adam called to ask if we wanted to play dungeon world with him and stacy. we made ourselves presentable and they came over and we played for a few hours and ordered some delicious indian, which, while delicious, took two hours to get here. yikes! i mean, granted, there was a lot of snow outside, but i was so hungry, haha. it was only my second time playing dungeon world - i had played some sixth world, which is shadowrun with dungeon world rules, but not much straight dungeon world. it was a fun mod, but difficult, because we started with no gear and i was playing a wizard, and i was basically useless the entire adventure. but it was still fun - i always love roleplaying and rolling dice, and i had never had adam as a DM before, so that was great, too. after they left, around midnight, we played more hammerwatch, and then finally went back and got 100% of fez finished. i had been putting it off - i think mainly because i knew once i did it, it would be done forever, and there would be no more fez to do. i was super sad when it was over. i know the designer, phil fish, has his reasons for leaving the industry, but he is just so brilliant, and i wish he did nothing but make games. a lot of games. all the games.

saturday was exciting! it was my little nephew matthew's birthday. i ran out in the morning to get him a gift - i was supposed to go friday, but obviously those plans got messed up. i went to the kmart downtown to pick him up some ninja turtle figures and failed miserably. they were sold out of everything ninja turtle, except a few random lego sets, none of which had leonardo, his favorite. but they did have a spider-man lego set, so i bought him that instead, and then headed back home. we rented a philly car share car and drove out to my sister's place in newtown square. we got amazingly lost on the way there but worked it all out and were there only a little late. 

my sister jenna is amazing, as is her entire family. she is my half sister on my dad's side, and i adore her mom and stepdad and her little sister rachel. all of her friends were there as well, and her boyfriend's family, and everyone is super nice and friendly. and matthew! i hadn't seen him in a while - possibly a year! - and he's gotten so, so big, and talks so much. he said some adorable stuff that just made me want to squeeze him. (i was eating my cake, and didn't want the icing, so i offered it to him. he had just told jenna he was done with his cake, but when i offered him my icing, he said ok, when he was done with his. a few seconds later he was like, ok i'm ready now, and he ate some and said yes, it's good. SO CUTE.) the funniest part of the whole night was when jenna brought out the pinata - i had no idea that they made them with pull strings now so kids don't get hurt beating it up! the first string matthew pulled was the right one, and as he was tugging on it, jenna started throwing candy on the floor from a bag she had. debi and i completely lost it laughing, and jenna said what! all the candy didn't fit. i think it was mostly just her deadpan look as she tossed candy onto the floor that really got me. the whole thing was just too cute! 

I am a bad aunt and didn't take any pictures. Please accept this adorable picture of Matthew.

we left before we had to get the car back, and just got home and played some video games and i started working on some writing, all of which continued into sunday morning and afternoon. that evening was my last podcast for crossed purposes, which is a theology site run by my friend josh. they do a different kind of commentary on games and other media - they talk about it in relation to religion and theology. when they first contacted me to be a part of their site, i was apprehensive, but i decided to give it a try since it's so different from anything i've ever done before. i've really enjoyed it, and the podcast with josh and ian has been a blast! but i have some exciting stuff going on right now that i'm not sure if i can talk about just yet, and i've decided that i needed to change some things around to make room for them. s that was my last time on the podcast - at least, my last time as a regular. i hope to be back on the show sporadically, if i can.

monday was back to work for real, which was a little sad but at the same time great because everyone was in such high spirits from the wonderful break. the day flew by in a busy blur, and i left work early to go to the doctor's office to get my ultrasound done. i've been having some lady problems, and my gynecologist just wanted to check - and double check - to make sure everything was ok. i haven't gotten the results back yet, but from what the technician said, everything seems ok, so i'm not too worried. 

on monday night, stacy and i headed to our friend janette's house to watch the bachelor. i had never seen it before, and it was a tradition for them to watch it every week and paint their nails or knit or do something else fun and creative together. it sounded amazing, and i decided to jump in on it. i don't spend very much with other girls - i spend almost all of my free time with "the guys" of one variety or another, playing board games or roleplaying games or video games, so it was nice to spend some time with other girls. i was nervous at first - WHAT IF THEY FIND OUT I AM DIFFERENT AND WEIRD - but stacy, janette, and janette's friend lauryn are all awesome, and we had a great time. in fact, we got there early - janette invited us early since i had never met her daughter, zelda, who is just over a year old. and WOW is she the best kid! she impressed me with her vast knowledge of animal sounds, and was basically just the cutest, most well-behaved kid ever. after she went to bed, we broke out the champaign, and lauryn brought chocolate roses, and i had my first ever bachelor experience. i even painted my nails for the first time since high school, and it wasn't actually that bad! i remember painting my nails as always being a terrible experience because i was so bad at it, but i did a pretty good job. 

Janette took this amazing photo.

afterwards, i headed back home, where anthony and adam were having their own "play date." i was worried i'd come home to find our apartment turned into one big blanket fort, but they were just playing some video games. before i left that night, i had hidden anthony's late christmas presents - the three super dungeon explore minibosses - all over the house. adam found two of them and ant found one, and he was super excited and had them already opened and on the table when i got home. they are so cute!

we watched the latest episode of almost human - i'm so glad it's back on! - and, again, played more hammerwatch. then we went to bed, and before we knew it, it was time to go back to work again. work flew by, and then i came home so we could get some chores done - the apartment was a little messy, and we needed to order groceries, and we wanted to move some furniture around, so that's what we did for the first half of the night. the second half of the night was spent beating hammerwatch, which had one of the most frustrating endings ever. in fact, it's so frustrating, it was immortalized in one of their achievements, "Worse Than Ghosts and Goblins," for which the description is nothing but a link to a video (warning: spoilers!):

after beating the game, we then watched brooklyn 99 - i am so glad my shows are back! and then went to bed.

work today was a little tough because i was tired and had a headache and wasn't feeling great, but it was punctuated by a lot of really great people stopping by to visit and talk, including my friend gina! she brought me some of her amazing cookies, and we sat and talked a bit. her office recently relocated to be a few blocks closer to mine, which is great news, because now we can get lunch at cucina zapata, which is one of the best food trucks at drexel! also it is great news because she makes REALLY good cookies, and is great company.

after work, i rushed home so we could get our groceries delivered, but they were running behind, so i took a nap. they got here around 8, and our delivery guy, clifton, referred to us as "the klines" and said he was excited to see us. he is so nice! we unloaded all of our groceries and then i made some dinner for ant, who stayed home from work today and has been feeling sick. he has become obsessed with a lego program called lego digital designer, and he has been making robots in it that are blowing my mind. he also said that once you're done building something in it, you can just order the legos that you used to build it and lego will send them to you. WAT. there are no words.

we watched agents of shield, and you know, at first i thought the show was hokey, but i'm completely addicted now. i was really moved by this episode, probably because i'm so emotionally invested in them now, and it was really good. after that, i sat on my laptop to get some work done, spent way more time on facebook and looking at bad things cats are doing (thanks, sue!) and squeeing over the fact that grumpy cat favorited geekadelphia's tweet about my grumpy cat book review. AMAZING.

and now i'm just chilling on the couch, writing this blog post, thinking about what i want to do tonight, and realizing it's already after midnight. where does the time go? i'm going to try to at least accomplish a few things on my to-do list before i lay down. that or run around some more in the bravely default demo... or look at more cat pictures. anything's possible.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: a year in review

i don't normally do this, but 2013 has been such an interesting year that i wanted to go back and document everything. i know i've missed a lot, but these are the basic highs and lows of what happened all year.

in general:

got paid for writing.
2013 was the year i started getting paid for my writing. it's the first time i can actually say "yes, i am a professional writer." my whole life i have described myself as "a writer," and while i think it's lame to only be able to publicly say it once i'm getting paid for it, at least now i'm legitimized in the eyes of the world. I AM A WRITER. for real. first-grade nicole reading her book about my little ponies to a lot of bored adults (including my mortified mother) would be proud.

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: i love all of the extra curricular things i do, but in 2014, my goal is to get paid for all of my writing and journalistic endeavors.

successfully attended meetings for three book clubs.
on top of the incredibly wonderful "book club that doesn't suck," which has been going strong for several years now, i also started going to what i refer to as "the lady book club," a book club that several of anthony's friend's girlfriends are involved in. i had been reading most of the books but hadn't actually attended a meeting, and now that i've started, i adore it. i also went to a meeting of the "philadelphia sci fi book club," which is another one that i'd been reading the books for but hadn't made a meeting. i only went to one meeting - they're held on saturdays usually, which is when we have dungeons & dragons - but still. i went. go me!

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: while i was doing a lot of great socializing and reading, i didn't actually read a lot of books in 2014. i read a measly 27 books all year! that almost half a book a week. i need to step up my reading game.

played a million video games and tabletop RPGs.
seriously i played so many games my head was spinning. i got heavily into PC gaming this year for the first time in my life, which was really exciting. also, anthony just bought a brand new computer, and bequeathed his old one to me, which means i'm going to dust off my steam account and get to gaming. in tabletop gaming, we've recently gotten really into dungeon world and sixth world (dungeon world shadowrun), which has been fun. our regular home games of fourth edition dungeons & dragons have sort of stopped, due to some family problems one of our friends is having, but we're hoping to get back into that at least once or twice a month.

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: i really love tabletop gaming, but right now, we're in about eight games, so i need to cut back a bit. we're busy almost every day of the week with one thing or another, and i need some more "me" time, especially since every time i take a class, it destroys my social life. cutting back on activities might make the transitions into and out of class time a little easier for me.

which goes nicely into the next accomplishment...

finished up my sixth and seventh of 15 classes for my master's degree in library sciences.
it was hard work, but i took the course i'd been dreading since i started the program, and did amazingly well in it! writing a grant was pretty much one of the most intimidating learning experiences i've ever had. i loved it. and then this past term i took my last core class and did well in that, too. i'm nearly halfway there. so exciting!

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: i've been doing a decent job paying my debt down, and if i can really crack down and pay off my credit card in full this year, and then my student loan next year, i'll be able to take more than just the courses drexel pays for (they cover two per year, but i can take up to two per term - it just ends up getting taken out of my paycheck in taxes over that). so i'm going to try to cut back on spending so much money and put more of it towards getting rid of my debt so i can finish my coursework.

and now, some highlights from 2013!

january was a tough month. i was having some serious issues with insecurity, and just generally feeling shitty. i managed to pull myself out of it and work through a lot of it, and while i still struggle with insecurity even today, this last year has been a real milestone for me. also notable in january: ray merkler and i met to discuss bringing gameloop philly back again, and started putting the wheels in motion.

february was awesome in that i got to go to my first indiecade! indiecade finally came to the east coast, and was held at the museum of moving art in new york city. i spent the weekend with brianne galli and ryan littlefield, as well as loads of my friends from philly. i met some amazing new people and played so many fun games. it was one of the best weekends of the whole year!

in march we went back to PAX East again, and this time we had managed to score rooms in the hotel attached to the convention center, which makes all the difference in boston in winter. not having to ever put a coat on or lug stuff around is always a bonus! we made lots of new friends, played tons of good games, and just generally had a great time running around all weekend. it's also the one weekend a year i get to see and spend time with john and holly scalzo, which is always wonderful.

in april, zenas bellace and i drove down to raleigh, north carolina to attend the east coast game conference. i felt way, way out of my league there at first, because i tend to feel like i'm not good enough or experienced enough to be talking to people about game design. but by the end of the weekend, i felt more at home, and i'm glad that i went and got the chance to go to so many great talks and meet some amazing people in the industry. i also got to have lunch with a friend from high school, jackie fricke, who i hadn't seen in something like 15 years! it was an incredible week. i was also on a panel at the women in tech summit, discussing girl geek dinners philadelphia. corinne got some really great photos of me.

may was crazy. we brought gameloop philly back, and it was a blast! there were lots of great talks and fantastic people. everyone was really excited about it. and the following week, i was on a panel about video game writing at the week of writing at drexel, with will stallwood, amanda lange, and chris grant. it was an incredible week. i was so wiped out by it mentally and physically. oh, and our lease started in may! anthony and i officially started our big move that month. the only bad thing about the move was that i had to give my cats to my mom, because we discovered over the winter when anthony got bronchitis and pneumonia that he was horribly allergic to cats. i was really sad about that. i spent a lot of time with my cats before we gave them to my mom, who was thrilled to have them.

june was when we officially moved into our new place in west philly. we love, love, LOVE our new place! it's so spacious, with hardwood floors and radiator heat (which has its ups and downs, but i really enjoy being hot in the winter, so i love it!). and one of the best things about the move was that i finally took the initiative and got rid of a ludicrous amount of stuff. i threw out dozens of bags of clothes, which i couldn't donate because my old place was full of moths and carpet beetles (i tried to get rid of them, but to no avail). it was really freeing to get rid of so much stuff.

we spent most of july settling into our new place and unpacking and all of the good stuff of first stretching out in a new apartment. i also reconnected with an old friend, which was an amazing experience and i was really happy and excited about it, and continue to feel really great about it.

august was a lot of great milestones for me. i called 1-800-GOTJUNK and got rid of my public storage place in one fell swoop. it was a unit for a one-bedroom apartment's worth of storage, and had stuff in there ranging as far back from childhood. i'd had it for over a decade, and every time i tried to go through it, i was horrified by how many bugs had taken refuge in it, as well as how poorly my belongings had reacted to the extreme outdoor weathers (it wasn't climate controlled). i finally just called the junk people and paid them to haul it all away in one shot. it was hard - but thrilling - to let go of everything. and knowing that it was recycled and what was salvageable was saved made me feel so much better about it! august was also when anthony and i made our first game together - the card game, resistor - during a cipher prime game jam. we ended up taking first place and winning an ouya! and we also celebrated our two-year anniversary that month. it was all very exciting!

the most memorable thing that happened in september was that i finally returned to seattle for PAX Prime for the first time in three years. i was utterly thrilled to go back! i got to see so many wonderful people who i only see at events like these, and also made so many new friends as well. we stayed at our friend zenas' friend alex's house - he lives out in the seattle suburbs in an awesome house. i had never been able to do that before - it was always hotels, hotels, hotels. we also went to PAX Dev, which was a first for me, and if i end up going out there again, i'll never miss another one. there was nothing quite like those six days in seattle. it was a beautiful experience, and i cried when it was over.

i tried to put less on my plate as the year started to wind down, but to no avail. i was on a panel about women in games at the grassroots game conference, which was another really fantastic experience. i met some great people and got to share and hear a lot of stories about the industry. that was the same week my friends brianne galli and ryan littlefield visited us from new york, and stayed in our apartment. it was so exciting to have guests sleep over, and to have enough room for us all to be comfortable! i had a wonderful time. finally, i "graduated" from therapy that month - i had started in february 2011, and it has been one hell of a ride trying to work through some of my issues as well as dealing with my stomach problems, which were caused by all the anxiety and stress i was under. i was nervous about not going to therapy anymore, but it felt good to be on my own and try to trust myself and my instincts.

in the beginning of november, the dismemberment plan's reunion tour hit philadelphia, and anthony and i went with our friend stacy. it was a magical time! their new album is great, and seeing them in concert after so many years made me feel so young. i bounced around and sang until i lost my voice. but as the month wore on, i experienced one of the worst things that has ever happened to me: my beloved puppycat grew sick and passed away. i was so incredibly heartbroken. i don't think anything has ever hurt that bad in my entire life. he was my best friend for a decade, and i missed him terribly when he went to my mom's, but knowing he was out there and happy and being spoiled was a comfort to me, albeit a small one. i missed his companionship and his purrs and his soft, wonderful fur. that night, anthony and i went to my mom's, and he helped me to bury him. my poor mother was beside herself. i don't think i've ever cried as hard as i did for those two weeks. it was a very dark time.

later that night, we went to philly game forge for their showcase, where we showed off kobolds and resistor. being around so many of my friends, who kept checking up on me and giving me hugs all night long, still brings me to tears. i think i learned the true meaning of community that night. there was so much support and so much love... and just... wow. and the number of people who came out to check out our games blew my mind. the whole event was exactly where i needed to be, where i belonged.

december was really just me scrambling to finish up all of my coursework for my final core requirement, and i got an A in my class! i was so happy - and so relieved - when it was over. i also did a bunch of Responsible stuff, like signing up for retirement, which made me super proud of myself. and ray and i started planning for gameloop 2014 (we have a date!) and karissa and i started planning for girl geek dinners events in 2014, and i also met with will at cipher prime to discuss our awesome little community and how to grow it. and, at the end of 2013, during our wonderful vacation, anthony and i played about a million video games together. he got his new computer, which means i get his old computer, which we hooked up to the television in our living room. we've also got some wired controllers, so we played local and online co-op. the whole time off was a blur of fun.

there are so many things i haven't mentioned here - hanging out with the space dukes on sunday nights, going to dev night every thursday, board game nights at redcap's and circle of hope with our friends, the people i play dungeons & dragons with during our regular games and at conventions, being involved in warp zoned and geekadelphia and perpetual geek machine and crossed purposes and girl geek dinners, all the time we've spent with friends in west philly now that we moved out here closer to so many of them, the fun i've had with my family throughout the year, all of my friends who got married and engaged and had beautiful babies... so, so many wonderful things. i'm sure i missed a lot, so i guess what i'm saying is: it was terrific, and filled with lots of great people, places, things, and ideas.

2013 has been a beautiful year. 2014, can you raise the bar?