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Things that happened during the hiatus: I rediscovered board games

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The thing is this: I really enjoy playing board game, but most of them are two players or more, and for a long time, it was really hard finding people to play with. My friends and family are either super-busy, or they don’t like playing board games. Playing was a special occasions thing: for example; my mother and I bought each other Tickets to Ride on Christmas a couple of years ago, and we’ve been playing after Christmas dinner every year since, and that was pretty much it.

But then, last Christmas, I saw that there were a copies of Pandemic at my local big box bookstore. I heard a lot of good things about that game, so I grabbed a couple of copies* to give out as presents, hoping that I would then be invited to play the game with the people I gave the game to. And it worked! One of the people I gave a copy to was my mom, and we’ve played almost every week-end since Christmas. And then this really cool game shop opened a block away from my apartment, just last month. I stumbled upon it the other day, and I am so happy! I dragged my mom to the grand opening, and we had a really good time.

My favorite part about playing games is the solving of the puzzle. There is a thing that you have to do, and using your brain to logically deduce how to do the thing is what, in my opinion, makes the game fun. The element of luck is what makes it possible to play the game more then once and still have fun. When I was first playing game, I didn’t think much about how the game works, I just played it. Now that I’m rediscovering them as a critically-minded adult, I am spending a lot of time thinking about them games; and how they work, or don’t, and how to make then better if I can.

These reflections lead to many ideas, the first of which is now well on it’s way to become a physical thing. To help make the transition from theoretical to concrete as smooth as possible, Renaissance as launched a Kickstarter campaign, which will last until June 17th. Check it out here.

If you are in the Ottawa region, and you want to try a physical version of the game, someone who looks a lot like me will be conducting a playtest at CanGames, a local convention of gamers. You can check out the CanGames website here. The playtest is scheduled for Sunday, at 2 PM.

And that pretty much catches everyone up on what happened during the hiatus. Next week, I’ll be talking about my CanGames experience, and then, who knows?

*along with plenty of books, because I took a bookstore vow.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Things that happened during the hiatus: I travelled, a lot

Actually, it occurs to me that I’ve traveled a lot for the last few years as well, and that I just didn’t talk about it.

I’m not a big traveler; really, I’m not. When I think about a “big traveler” I think about my grandmother who had an RV with her boyfriend and went to Florida to see the space shuttle launches, and who traveled all across Europe and most of Asia, and even bits of Africa. I think about my siblings who are always taking camping and biking trips, who both went on organised relief trips and immersion programs with their high schools and colleges, who between them have been to England and Cuba and Peru and Senegal and Burundi.

My family goes to places for the fun of it, for the adventure. I used to go to places for two reasons: family obligations and conventions. Until 2012, I’d been to Montreal twice (that’s not true, I’d been to Montreal a lot more then that, but for the sake of this discussion, I’m defining travel as “I spent at least one night there”), to Quebec City twice, to Toronto once, to Orlando (Disney World) once, and to Melbourne, Australia. That is 7 trips in 27 years of being alive, and with all of them, except for the Australia trip and one of the Montreal trip, I was with my family for part or for all the of the trip. I don’t like to explore, to do the tourist stuff for the sake of doing the tourist stuff. But I also don’t like traveling to do nothing. The idea of spending hundreds of dollars to lie on a beach seems ridiculous to me: if I’m going to do nothing, I’m going to do it at home, for free. So I didn’t travel much.

But then, I something changed. I discovered musical theater again, and that gave me one more reason to travel. Since then, I have been to Toronto three times, to New York three times, to Chicago, to Pittsburgh, and to London. That’s nine trips in three and a half years, six within the last eighteen months, most of them by myself. My mother came with me to London and to Chicago, and those were the two trips I took for conventions (though I did manage to convince her to see a West End show with me). Many of other trips were quick, overnight affairs, and they all followed the same pattern: get to city, get to hotel, check in, eat dinner, go see show, go back to hotel, sleep, get up, check out, come back. If I have some more time, I might take some extra time to walk around town, maybe go to a park or a museum. Over those nine trips, I have seen 12 shows.

I still say that I’m not a big traveler. Travelers, especially big travelers, travel for the fun of it, and I do not. I travel for some very specific reasons, and the shorter and more efficient the trip, the better. Still, I have to admit that I did travel a lot during the hiatus.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Things that happened during the hiatus: I published another book

And it should give you an idea of how out of the loop I feel that I never mentioned it here. I have a blog, which is by far the most important mark I am leaving in the cyberspace (the first result that comes up when my name is Googled). I have written a second book, called Thrills on Ice, it came out last fall. I never even mentioned it here! I completely forgot to update my bibliography, even. Thrills on Ice was still in the Upcoming section, and with the wrong due date on top of that! I am embarrassed.

Anyway, here it is

thrills on ice

I don’t have time to think about that right now; it’s time to go back to the ice. 

Three times world champion and Olympic silver medalist Susanna Miles suffers a season-ending injury. With the excuse of meeting a sports injury specialist, she returns to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she meets hockey star Lucas Crawford. With the help of some new friends, she must come to term with her relationship with her difficult mother/manager and take a leap of faith into something she never thought she wanted: romance.

***

The book is doing relatively well, even without me doing any kind of promotion for it, which is both an ego boost (I’ve written a book that appeals to people so much they buy it without me selling it to them in person) and an ego check (my being present and participating in the sale and the promotion is not as relevant as I thought it was.)

Still, mentioning the release of my book, on my blog, is a matter of principle. I have failed, I admit, but I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not going to do it again.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Things that happened during the hiatus: I gained (and lost) a cat

The story is this: one of my siblings moved to Montreal and started collecting cats. First there was the one from the classified ads, or some such, I honestly don’t remember. Then there was the one litteraly rescued from the street. Then it was volunteering at the SPCA, taking cats in foster care. I find it especially funny since the sibling in question has always been a dog person. I, on the other hand, am a cat person, and the sibling knows that very well. Ever since classified ads cat, the sibling has been telling me that I should get a cat of my own.

I was hesitant, to be honest. At first I had the excuse that I was still living with my parents, and they didn’t want to have pets. Once I moved out on my own, the excuse became “I have to work, I’m gone for nine hours a day, I don’t want the cat to get lonely and depressed”. Finally, the sibling fostered a cat who got along very badly with the other cats, and who apparently had no problem being left alone for hours on end. Out of excuses, I relented.

And into my life came Miou-Miou. (pronounced mew-mew)

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I was going to give him a more dignified name, but come on! Look at him. He is such a Miou-Miou. Also, I had the hardest time taking a good picture of that cat. This was the best I could do for the longest time. Then there was this picture, which might be concidered better, by some.

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Derpface.

Anyway, he was terrible with other pets, if the Montreal sibling is to be believed, but I never had any problems with him. He would walk up and say Hi to me when I came back from work, or even just from being away. He could be very playful, when I teased him with the feather thing or threw a catnip mouse at him (I don’t think the catnip made any difference: he just liked to chase the mouse), but he could also be really chill. I could always pet and brush him; he even let me rub his tummy, and cats generally don’t do that. The worst thing he ever did to me was slither out of my grasp when I was trying to give him a hug.

That is, until the end of February, when he began to worry me by not eating anymore. I mean, fair enough, I was gone for nine hours a day, so I might have missed him eating a few times, but I did clean out the litter box, and the absence of stool was hard to miss. On March second, he completely freaked me out by doing nothing all evening but lay on his side next to the living room window. That’s when I called the vet.

Long story short? Effusive feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP. Google it, or if you don’t want to, just take my word for it: it sucks.

I spent a lot of time crying after that first vet visit, and since. I also spent a lot of time on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was told from the get-go that whatever the diagnosis (leukemia was an option for a little while, and so were other tumors, or some bacterial infections), the prognosis was bad, and that Miou-Miou’s lifespan had been dramatically shortened.

The great fear I had when I really began to realize that he was sick was that I had somehow accidentally caused that illness. He was a rescue cat, he survived six years or so in really difficult conditions, and the idea that I somehow killed him in three/four months was driving me nuts with guilt. Thankfully that fear was unfounded and dismissed by the diagnosis. Humans can’t cause FIP. The second great fear was that he would die without me there. It’s what happened with the last pet my parents and I had; he was sick and died while my mother and I were gone on a week-long trip. I had plans to go to New-York on Easter. While I didn’t want to unnecessarily cut his life short, I also didn’t want to have him die while I was gone.

I spent three weeks of trying a bunch of meds and watching him get a little bit better before slowly, slowly getting worse. I started coming home from work at lunch to feed him. Whenever I left the house, I was always afraid that I would be gone too long, that he would miss a feeding or a dose of meds. I was watching him all the time, breathing a sight of relief with every sign of life. One of my favorite activity became laying my head on him and listen to him breath, or purr.

Three weeks of that turned out to be my limit. I finally took the decision to have Miou-Miou euthanized. I had the final appointment on Friday, March 27th.

 

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(My mom went with me to the vet’s, and she tried to get some pictures of us together. He struggled against the camera to the very end, my poor baby.)

It went very smoothly, and as well as those things ever go, I suppose. I cried buckets at the vet, and I cried myself to sleep that night. Since then, I emptied and stored the littler box, washed the food bowl, put away the toys that weren’t completely mangled and tossed those which were. Now all that remains are clawmarks on the drapes, and on the couch. And my memories.

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(The only unarguably good picture I have of him.)

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(A little magnet message I made with the set I got for Christmas two years ago. My Montreal sibling got very upset upon seeing that the set included puppy, but not cat or kitten. The Montreal sibling lacks creativity.)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Things that happened during the hiatus: I got a haircut

It’s not a big thing, but it’s as good a place to start as any. I was turning 30, and I realised that I had the same hairstyle for years now. Long, natural brown, pulled in a ponytail. Look at my author photo. (You can’t really tell how long it is from that shot, but it gives a general idea.)

Aurelia Osborne

That was taken in december 2013. I don’t think I even had it trimmed since. Then I decided: “enough”. I wanted a new look, and this is what I got.

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Here I am with my freshly re-dyed hair.

Not the best picture of me, I’ll give you that. Still, doesn’t my hair look great? I’m really happy with my new style. It’s more upkeep, I’ll have to get trims and roots done more often, but I think it’ll be worth it.

I guess I’ll need a new author photo soon.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The aftermath of an unexpected, (nearly) year-long hiatus

First of all, I have to day that I’m feeling a little silly, right now. Trying to get back into the blogging thing feels awkward. It has been nearly a year since I wrote anything here, and I don’t have a real reason for my absence. I have been thinking of coming back here for a while, now, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. And I didn’t want to risk a vicious cycle of “post for a little while, go silent for a year”. Which means that I had to think about why I stopped writing here, and figure out how to motivate myself to keep writing here.

So, what went wrong?

First and foremost, writing these blog entries has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I’m not super comfortable talking about myself. Talking about my life in general is a little easier, but made more difficult in this case by the fact that I can’t talk in specific ways about the people in my life. (I mean, I could, but I don’t have their explicit permission, so it feels unethical.) All of which is further complicated by the fact that I use a pseudonym. (It’s not a secret; it’s right in my author bio.)

I think the pseudonym was part of a second problem. I felt that since I was using a different name, I had to create a different identity for myself. It was hard enough to share myself online, but now I was adding extra limitations, because there were parts of me that I felt didn’t belong in Aurelia Osborne’s life, and that therefore I could not share here.

The third problem was that I followed the advice of well-meaning friends who told me that to increase the following on my blog, I needed to have a brand of sort. People would be more likely to visit if they knew what to expect was the general idea. It may be so, but it added up to even more limitations on what I felt that I could talk about, until one day, I missed a post and had no idea how to get back on schedule.

Now that I have some idea of what went wrong: too many self-imposed limitations. The solution would therefore be less self-imposed limitations, so we’re going to try that and see how it goes from there.

What can you expect from this blog? For the next few Sundays, I’m going to queue a series of posts about what has happened during the hiatus. So far, I can think of six posts. I might think of something else, but unless/until I do, I will say six weeks of hiatus updates. After that, I will keep on writing every Sunday, but about what? Who knows?

I will also try to write book reviews every Tuesday, I do have a year’s worth of books read to pick from, and I am determined not to limit myself to the books that I believe to be part of the “Aurelia Osborne” brand. And once or twice a month, on Fridays, I will write reviews of movies or plays, or other things that are week-end activities. (That’s all I can say without spoiling future planned )

So I’ll talk to you all again on Tuesday.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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