Winter break, aka my Dragon Age: Inquisition binge

So winter break for both work and school started on the 22nd of December (I was back to work on January 7th), which is awesome (except for the bad cold virus I picked up around the 12th but didn’t fully kick until the 26th).  It wasn’t until my partner and I got home from his family’s Christmas celebration that I truly had a chance to just be.  As you can tell, this post is a bit delayed…sorry!

My cats like vacation & video games
My cats like vacation & video games

I would normally pack in cleaning my house from post-finals paper tornadoes as well as any other housework that got neglected in the rush that is the last month of a semester.  While that is on the docket and has been done in small spurts, I decided that I wanted to do a self-care experiment…I wanted to see what it felt like to blow my spoons on joy for a couple of days.

That probably sounds a bit weird.  I gave myself a few rules.  No leaving the house for a couple of days…partially because have a set of stairs outside to get to our home and stairs are notorious spoon-consumers (in order to not trip, I have to think about all the foot movements involved with stair climbing, plus holding on to the railing in case my balance bombs). The campus gym was closed anyhow and the New Year’s resolution gym rush would make visitor passes obnoxious.  I also didn’t want the stress of dealing with other drivers (whether driving or scooting) or people other than my partner.  Just him and the two cats.

Another rule was to sleep as much as I wanted.  With mild narcolepsy plus pain medication side effects, part of me was a bit leery about this.  There have been times in my life (usually complicated by depression) that I could sleep 18-20 hours straight.  Spine pain means that I’m generally awake every 2-3 hours, which isn’t particularly restful, but I wanted to try to make up for it with quantity if I couldn’t get quality.

My intended joy target: Dragon Age: Inquisition on my Xbox 360.
I’m a big fan of the Dragon Age series and this came out in November.  I didn’t pick it up until mid-December (I was saving Amazon gift cards I earned through Swagbucks).  Bioware, the company that makes this game, has been known for doing a pretty darn good job being inclusive of gender and sexuality (they still need some work regarding race, but they seem to be doing a better job than a good chunk of the video game market). Here’s a link about how DA:I became the first game with a trans* character and here’s one about both their gay male character as well as one about a fantastic pansexual oneAs you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of the series and I really wanted time to play it and this experiment was a perfect time for it.

I popped the game in and realized that the text on the game was too small (which is a bit ridiculous on a 42″ widescreen television) and I couldn’t find any way to make it bigger.  That meant I needed to get creative as I wasn’t going to be able to sit or lay on my couch to play.  I ended up making a nest propped up against my heavy coffee table using my manual chair cushion, a few blankets, and a “bedrest” pillow (like this one)…plus I tweeted Feminist Sonar‘s main author Elsa Henry to see if she’d played it yet (she has an awesome series called Blind Lady Versus (she hadn’t yet was it was next up on her game queue).

Long story short…I played a lot of DA:I.  A lot.  My husband made sure I ate and was comfortable and encouraged me to play as long as I wanted to along with sleep as long as I wanted to.  There were times I was itching to leave the house and be “productive” but I reminded myself about my upcoming rough semester (an extra course along with trying to finish incomplete courses) and how I might have weeks upon weeks in which I have something scheduled out of the house every day.  It feels weird to write about this, but I think of meditation techniques about being in the moment….and that’s what I tried to do.  I dove into the storyline, made deliberate choices (and tried to not think about how I might make new characters choosing different options!), and just enjoyed myself.  Sure it wasn’t a physically active experiment (although I am one of those people that moves their head & arms around like somehow that changes how the controller operates….that drives “real” gamers up walls), but it was enlightening.

I did end up finishing the game before the semester started (hooray) and I started two different characters to play when I find bits of time to steal (a dwarf rogue and a human mage, both female).  I also feel like I’m starting off the semester more focused but relaxed as well, which seems a bit contradictory but a much more healthy perspective…especially with both new and old health malarkey in the mix.  It also helps that I’m finally at a pain medication dose that’s allowing me to be upright (aka not in bed) for longer if I’m careful, which is allowing me to be more physically active, which is keeping me more mentally healthy.  A definite win overall!

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