Sunday, May 24, 2020

Glenhaven's Son Enirch - pt. 4 - A New Mission

     Originally intending to use the dynamite themselves, Enirich and Matthew realized that then the band of adventurers showed up in town, maybe it was best to leave it to the experts.  He wasn't very old, and even though he had been trained, he knew that the Drow out in the magically darkened woods were a bit more than he and Matthew and the handful of other trained men in town could handle.  
     He didn't trust the dwarf Garig at first.  The cleric had been part of the adventurer group who had killed his parents almost a year ago, but he'd met the man before he left for Waterfordshire and truth be told had more or less trusted him.  He decided eventually he would talk it over with Garig in private and see whether they'd really slaughtered his parents in cold blood or there was another reason.
     And now that he had arrived with other adventurers, he did wonder if the dwarf had been just a pawn in their scheme.  After all, the tall elven druid seemed to be the leader and she was the one always trying to kill him.  Enirich just shrugged it off and allowed the others to see if they could successfully take down the towers and get the rest of the explosives from the mines.
     It honestly didn't take very long for it to all play out, only within the span of a day or two, and they had felled the first tower and then headed to the second.  They cleared most of the Drow from the woods, and then went to go close off the abandoned mine entrance.  However, Garig returned to town before they would head further.  The new adventurers had discovered that the Drow who fought them had no idea where they were.  In fact, they said they had been kidnapped from somewhere and dropped here, and were only fighting because they thought they had to.
     Bringing the Drow back into town, they joined the rest of the Waterfordshire group, because, in fact, they WERE part of that group, just transported here from journeying South.  The rest of the adventurers decided to delve further into the mine before blowing it up as they wondered if it actually lead to the Underdark at all.
     So Garig stayed behind to help, and Enirich, Tra'Laga and the other townsfolk tried to piece together what was going on...  Caspian, the wizard became more and more distant and eventually after a brief visit, announced he would be leaving town for a time after he made preparations, that he had to talk to someone he knew.  He would be there for about a week.

     It was right around then that Garig's old adventurer group arrived.  Enirich was upset, but he had taken a little bit of time to speak to Garig, and now that it had been nearly a year since the incident, he decided to let it go...at least for now.  His parents had been fooled, but they had also done their share of damage, so he was trying to resolve that in his mind.
     Tra'Laga helped him cool down, her level head really made things better.  But when they all showed up in his house suddenly, it was quite a shock.  The elven girl was still as haughty as ever but the black dragonborn kept her at bay and they did agree to help the other Drow in Waterfordshire.  So, he traveled with them with Tra'Laga's urging and headed back to his home of a couple years.

     Things had changed in the last few months since he had left.  The Mayor had been turned into an undead and had been killed by the General.  With no heirs to speak of, the General took over thinking he would be voted during the spring session.  He had taken the opportunity to roust the Drow from the catacombs, flooding the underground system, and had captured those who tried to escape.
     Enirich's old teacher Marcus, was working to find someone else to go against General Lockborne in the election, but except for himself had not found any suitable candidates.  The city had been ruled by a King not 50 years before, and the Mayor had taken over at a fairly young age without an election (which made him King, but he tried to put on airs that he had set up a Democracy).  Enirich hoped that his teacher might actually try to get elected, but Marcus never really liked politics.
     There were a few other smaller officials who started to look like they were interested in taking over, but they were deathly afraid of Lockborne, and kept quiet.

     With a possible landslide election looming, Enirich worked with Marcus in secret to help the group with Garig to take the few pitiful imprisoned Drow out of town and take them North to get them help.  They started scheming and things seemed to be going along fairly well... but Lockborne had a whole lot more ears and eyes in the town then Marcus or Enirich had imagined.
     The night before they were about to proceed with the operation, the General was on high alert and locked down the bridges, closed down the waterways, and put new guards at the gates.  They had only just managed to have the correct guards at the Northern gate the evening they were going to make the getaway.
     However, Lockborne had caught wind of it and had set a trap.  As Enirich and Marcus finalized their plans to head to the northern gate themselves, Lockborne's men captured them.  They were taken to jail to be questioned.  

     Meanwhile, hell broke lose as the Drow made it out the North gate, but a dragon attacked... The General and his men fought those at the gate making the escape, but there was also a huge earth elemental that broke down the Southern gate.
     Enirich had a feeling he knew who caused this interruption, but didn't say anything, disappointed that he had trusted the group with Garig not to destroy his town.  But, he and Marcus couldn't do anything as they were currently in chains, locked up.
     The elemental plowed through building after building for 45 minutes or so, fires from chimneys lighting a chunk of the city on fire until it just sunk back into the ground and disappeared.

     By then the city was in chaos and word soon spread that a giant ape had killed the General.  Again... it could only have been the work of ONE particular druid.  
     Enirich and Marcus were able to convince the guards who were keeping them that the General had gone crazy and that they needed leadership in order to bring things back to order.  So eventually, albeit reluctantly, the guards let them go and Marcus soon took control of the situation.
     The old wizard who ran the magic school managed to put out the fires and started to help the townsfolk pick up the pieces within the town.  Enirich fell into his old habits with his friends from school and they all started working together to get things back together again.

     He did get word briefly from Garig at one point that the Drow had escaped and they were making their way north.  He sent word again from Tra'Laga, wondering if he was okay and if she should come down to meet him, but Enirich figured it would be maybe another month and then he would join her once again.
     Also, he didn't want to face those adventurers, and the longer he stayed away from Glenhaven, the better his chances were they'd be gone by the time he arrived.

     Enirich settled into life in Waterfordshire in his old apartment again.  Trade resumed in the town again, the catacombs were allowed to be closed off again, although now there were no Drow to take up residence again, they did find what was left of the black market, flooded and worthless.
     Marcus managed to convince a few of the government officials to set up, if not an election, something like a cabinet in order to bring order to the chaos that had befallen the city over the past year or so.  He and the other Bronze Stars started an effort to bring some sort of peace back to Waterfordshire.
     
     It had only been about a week when word came from Glenhaven that they were planning on taking the Drow to a city in the North called "Northwynd".  Tra'Laga was planning to go with her brother X'Ranth, and wanted him to come with them.  He said there was still work to do, which was true, but also because he wasn't sure of himself anymore.  He liked the Drow woman, but she... he wasn't sure he wanted to move hundreds of miles away from where he grew up either.  His friends were here.  So he kept telling her he'd catch up, but wasn't quite sure if he actually would.

     Then, something unusual happened.  The Tritons arrived.

     Enirich had heard of these creatures in the past, they were what old fisherman called "Merfolk".  According to Marcus, they would typically arrive in town once or twice a year, passing their way through town with items to trade, and then would go on to other port cities.  The Tritons looked almost as much like fish as like man, but they spoke common with ease and he was appointed to the welcome committee since he had become Marcus's Lieutenant in the last week or so (although unofficially he supposed).
     The Tritons had a ship, although it looked like...well, it could go completely under the water, so a submarine?  But it was long and sleek, and when it breached the water that afternoon, it was the most foreign thing he had ever seen.  A male and female stepped out onto the shore, skin glistening in the daylight, and they had weapons at their waists, and looked incredibly strong.
  
     "I am Lorelei, High Guard of the Emerald Guard of the Triton, and this is Delnis, Trade Chairsman of the Ruby Pearl, our Ship behind us.  We wish to trade wares."  Lorelei stood about as tall as Enirich, her skin a light blue that darkened at the fingers and toes (all of which he could see were webbed) and teal hair.  Her build was muscular, probably making her an excellent swimmer and a fast fighter both on land and in the ocean.  Her partner had more of a silver coloration to his skin, and as he moved Enirich could see that they were both covered in fine scales.  They breathed air but also had gills.
    Enirich stepped forward, "I am Enirich, Lieutenant of the Bronze Stars here, we welcome you to Waterfordshire.  I do have some unfortunate news however, our city just saw a large disturbance recently, and many of our merchants have fled town temporarily."  He bowed slightly, "We will do our best to try to offer you what we can but we are hurting."
    Lorelei stepped forward, "It wasn't the Water Elemental again, was it?"
    Slightly shocked at her response, Enirich shook his head, "No, Earth Elemental actually... what's this about a Water Elemental...?"  He started to think back to his time in Waterfordshire over the past few years but he hadn't ventured very close to the shore or talked to the sailors or fisherman, although he had heard tales told about creatures in the ocean.
    Looking a bit relieved, Lorelei tuned to look at Delnis, "We had fought back a Water Elemental near your shores about a year ago and took it back to the Plane of Water.  We're not sure where it came from, but it was quite strong and almost overtook a ship before it was pushed back by some warriors on board the ship.  But this Elemental...you are sure you do not have anything you can trade?"
     Shaking his head, "We are happy to have you here and we will do what we can, but we just recently lost our Mayor, and now our General, and the government is just trying to rebuild.  The ones we think caused the Elemental's rampage headed north and we're discussing whether or not to send someone up there... and now that you mention a Water Elemental a year ago..."  He drifted off, could that Druid have caused even more havoc then he had originally thought?
     "You say someone summoned the Elemental?"
     Enirich merely nodded.  "A fairly powerful Druid.  She and her party headed north a little over a week ago, but they were in this town about the time you mentioned the Water Elemental showed up."
     "I would... like to see this druid you speak of and question her.  One should not be taking creatures from their natural planes and just plopping them here and there to create havoc."  Lorelei crossed her arms over her ample chest.  "You will take me there and Delnis and the others will help you rebuild the city so we may finish our trade before we head West."
     "I...um...well, I wasn't going there myself..." Enirich sputtered.  The very muscular arms of Lorelei made him nervous.  The more he looked at her, the more he was fairly sure she could fold him in half if she wanted to.  "But, I suppose maybe I could arrange..."
    The triton shook her head, "No, you will do.  You can take me there.  Make arrangements, we will start off tomorrow morning."  She turned, speaking in some other language to the other triton and they headed back to the ship.

     Enirich stood in an opened mouth confusion.  What just happened?!  He had just decided he wasn't going to head North again, would let Tra'Laga go ahead to Northwynd and never see her again...and now he was going to show up with a mermaid trailing behind him...?
     He started to wonder if he could just escape at night and maybe hide out for awhile.  He turned, thinking he'd start packing when the fish woman turned, "Oh no... I need you to help me pack, come with me."  And she grabbed him by the arm, hauling Enirich behind him to the ship.

    And thus, Enirich's new mission had begun....whether he liked it or not.

Friday, May 22, 2020

How I'm Dealing with the Pandemic

     So, let's jump back in time to a year ago.  I walked out of my old job, learning to take on life one step at a time with no future ahead of me.  I knew that I wanted to work in customer service, I sorta wanted to move into a field I could be creative, I was happy to find just about any job at all where maybe I could settle into a full-time position that allowed me to occasionally work from home.  And I started my job hunt, but as the summer months wore on with only a bite or two, I stepped back from all of that.
     I got sick off and on from the stress and taught my body how to relax.  I was still anxious, still depressed, but I was being forced to stay home and not work myself to the bone as I had in retail.  I set up my office to better serve my painting needs, I opened an online store that I've (quite honestly) lost interest in now for the most part, but only because I feel like I wasn't hitting a niche that needed to be filled.  And all of my craft shows have been canceled (but more on that later).
     I spent my days working from my home more or less alone, but I worked and I made sure that I had some kind of routine.  It was a "job", albeit a fun one where I could watch YouTube videos and paint all day long but it was work.
     Then I found an actual job that completely sucked, and thankfully I got out of that soon enough and found my new job around the holidays which had the option to work from home once I got comfortable with it.  But I never felt like I needed to and I worried about my cats bugging me while on phone calls, so I didn't push to work from home.  In fact, until I was forced to in March, I'd never prepared to work from home at all.

     Then the pandemic hit, or rather the "Unpleasantness" as one of my favorite YouTubers calls it.

     Suddenly I find myself back at this desk where I'd made my creative space.  I lost most of my desk to a laptop and a second monitor, but overall, it's very similar to the schedule I kept when I didn't have a job.  Get up, get on my desk, do my work, wait until dinner, and then do other things until bed and starting over again.
     When I didn't have a job, I didn't leave the house because doing so meant spending money. Money was hard to come by when I wasn't working, and even with the normal bills I had and no extras I slowly saw my checking account disappear month after month.
     
      So for the few months, we weren't allowed to go out, I did pretty much what I did before.  Stayed home, maybe went for the occasional walk, haven't gone crazy spending money online because the shopping bug for me has almost completely gone away.  I kinda wish sometimes I could just get rid of a lot of the things I've gathered up over the years and when I do think about spending money I think about all the other crap I have laying around here.
     Mind you, I did finally splurge on a couple things only because I wanted to feel...I dunno, normal, again?

     Anyway, so as far as things go, my life hasn't changed too much...yet.  But you see, there are all of these other things that have really changed that I have tried to ignore.  All of the canceled events.  I haven't been able to go anywhere because things have been closed down.  Then I hurt my foot a couple of weeks ago and walking has been sporadic so I don't hurt it much more than I already have... so my one "free" outing was put on hold for a while, sadly.
     I'm mostly rambling here if you haven't noticed, so if you're keeping up with this, kudos to you!

     So now things are opening again.  I made my first purchase on Amazon yesterday in months.  I went to a store last weekend and shopped (albeit with a mask).  I'm still working from home but this last week has been so nice because I've been able to stay off the phone and just concentrate on emails for folks as we tested something so that's pretty awesome too.  I've been painting again so that's awesome too.
     But... I don't think I want to go out to restaurants.  I'm afraid of going to the mall to see how many stores won't reopen (or only for business closing sales).  I don't have a need for anything in my life besides food, mind you, and grocery stores are tolerable still.  But I worry about people getting sick and getting ME sick and I don't feel like shopping is worth it anymore.
     I don't mind wearing masks and social distancing, that's fine.  I didn't like being close to others anyway so it's not all that different!  But I still worry about getting close to people even if I WANT to be close to people.  But I don't think we've gotten to a point where it will all turn out okay yet either.  It's too soon...things returning to normal... I guess I just don't want to face this new "normal" yet.

     And the fact that people just don't seem to want to follow the rules just aggravates me.  But, whatever, do what you do and I'll do what I do, but I'll probably stay home as I do it.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Pandemic #2 - Video Conferencing Woes

     I just wanted to get something off my chest.  So, I was out a job for six months, found a terrible one for a few months, tried again at a few places and secured a job where I could possibly work from home if needed, which was very fortuitous because here we are in the Corona Virus Pandemic and those places that are still open that aren't front line are working from home.  Thankfully, that includes yours truly, and I've been here for over a month now.  I almost feel like I've been working at home longer then I did in the office, although it'll be another month or so before that really happens.
      But in the meantime, things got set up to do video meetings at least once a day, if not three times a day, depending on how many manager one on ones and over conferencing I have to sit through.  It's bad enough that our jobs went from having a review once a week where no one really reviewed anything, to once a month where they reviewed one thing, to suddenly they're critiquing a bunch of things that I do, and I've failed at one already so now I'm stuck at home, anxious about the Pandemic and going outside...but also freaking the heck out about my reviews.  I feel like any moment I'm going to find myself in a conference call where they're going to say, "bring in your electronics, go get your stuff off your desk, you're done."
     Most likely I'm panicking a bit more than I should, but when the world is going to pot, your husband is complaining his job has slowed down so much everyone is fighting for work too, and one of you have to foot the bill at least to keep our lives the way they are...it's awfully stressful.

     And that's not even what I really came here to complain about!  My actual complaint is that I have one gal who hired in about week before me who has decided to become my direct competitor.  She started to have battles with who would get more phone calls in a day, and it wasn't really all that bad when we were in the office because we didn't really sit near one another and except for once a day I didn't even have to say anything to her.
     Now, because we're on the same "stand up meeting" every afternoon I have to listen to her EVERY DAY.  I didn't really like her all that much before, although the only thing I had to base that on was that she seemed kind of dumb.  I think she was feeling sorry for herself for having a baby out of wedlock and hadn't even wanted a kid.  She murmured that once during her first week when I said I didn't have kids which is probably the reason I looked younger then I am.  But from that day on, I think she turned it around to say she loved her baby sooo much and she wants another someday, and hopefully soon... trying to be my exact opposite it felt like.
      As I mentioned, after that point I really didn't have to talk to her too much but now she's on the video call and my coworkers ask about said baby over and over again.  The calls turn into long, drawn out conversations about her and the kid.  I mean, I understand most women are like that, but it's awkward and annoying to me.  I've never wanted children so when we talk about pets or cats instead I'm having a much better time since it's something I can relate to.
      Recently she's also started to show how much of a Trump supporter she is as well.  So, not only is she a breeder, she's a MAGA (sorry, it's probably rude terminology but I don't approve) and it's so frustrating because I don't really want to be anywhere near her now, either online or in the office.  I feel like she's going to become unbearable when she finally gets back into the office.

     So, that's what I've been grumbling about.  I like my job in essence, but it's become a lot lately for me.  I don't even know what to do but ignore her.  I miss when I didn't have someone who seems to be openly competing with me at every step of the way.  I just want to do my job as best I can and work my way up as I have in all of my other jobs, and I don't know how to push for that, but I'm worried that she's attempting to do that too and I don't want to compete with her... I just don't know how much I can do while I'm stuck at home.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Pandemic and Working from Home

     I keep thinking to myself that I need to document this time, especially since it's one that will most likely show up in all of the history books.  How we deal with a virus that has reached nearly every corner of the world (or at least the ones easily connected by airlines), it's amazing what can happen in just a few short months.
     I know it's a terrible thing that so many people are dying.  I know that so many more will still die before this whole thing is over.  People are panicking, buying up everything they can in case they are trapped inside for weeks or even months.  I had thought about that sort of thing in the back of my mind when it first started showing up in other parts of the world, although like many of the other pandemics that have occurred, the USA has been largely spared.
     Of course, no one thought it would reach as far as it did, and many of us were just thinking from time to time, what would we do?  But I don't think any of us took it seriously (except some random preppers anyway!)
     As for me, if anyone actually reads this, I was somewhat taking it seriously.  I've always tried to be prepared for a cold and the eventual quarantine inside of my home.  Heck, after I lost my job just one month shy of a year ago, I self-quarantined.  I didn't have money coming in and I got one bad cold after another.  Before long I'd dropped back on nearly all of my spending and had started a routine for myself.

     So, in a way, last year's joblessness was a preparation for this.

     One day I cleaned up my desk, made enough room to work on painting and posting items on my website (which I need to work on again during this time probably) and then scheduled a routine.  Get up, have breakfast, do a few chores, then go to "work" for about four or so hours a day, painting, doing other things and just overall making sure to keep "working".
     I also suffered from a lot of depression, a lot of anxiety and had a lot of moments of loneliness even when I knew I had people in my life who could come over and I could talk to.  But I did make it, and I pushed through.

     Now I'm working from home, quarantined from work until the end of March.  I set up my desk much like I did before (although now I have two computers, so painting is on hold for the time being).  But it's a lot like it was before.  Take a break from time to time, get lunch, read, and keep an eye on the queue and answering calls.
      A week ago they started murmurs about whether we would have to work from home.  I'd already started hearing talk about it so I started buying things for it in preparation.  Then they mentioned closing down schools...and by Friday we knew we'd have to set up to work.
     The weekend went by after that and the stores emptied out, people were emptying them out.  Toilet paper and towels were gone, food was gone, milk, eggs, bread and meats were gone.  Then the restaurants started shutting down all but take out and delivery.  People who worked for those restaurants got laid off.  Other stores started shutting down, not allowed to keep pushing forward, then the Governor started shutting down libraries, waterparks, museums, and anywhere else that a bunch of people could go to.  He stopped us from voting yesterday, pushing it off until June.
     A few smaller stores plug along, still open, not knowing what else to do.  People who vend at conventions are having online sales in hopes they can make ends meet.  Everything is shut down and the gas is cheap and the roads are empty.
   
     And even though, as I said, I know this is a terrible thing to be certain, it's also rather good in some ways.

     Pollution has gone waaaaay down.  Critters are returning to areas that have been chased out so long ago that people are surprised to see them there.  People are starting to do things for one another.  The government is actually thinking about doing stuff for the people instead of the businesses.  It's actually rather amazing.

     And yet, we still have to deal with being stuck inside our homes.  We have to worry about catching and spreading the virus.  I still worry about my Mom a whole lot because I'm not sure she's taking it very seriously since she doesn't like the news and has never been very up on world events.
     But, little bit by little bit, I think this might be a blessing for our planet.  I know, it's terrible who this virus might affect by the end, and sure, I could definitely be one of them by the time this is all over.

     I think, though, that I'm prepared.  Mentally I've always thought that I don't want to contribute to the world going up in flames.  I'd much rather not be part of the problem but the solution, even if I'm not entirely sure how I could be part of it.

     So, as I work from home waiting for that next phone call or that next email from someone who I more worried about things that aren't the worldwide pandemic, I'll sit here and be glad that the world is still moving on without us.  The trees are still getting ready to bloom, the rains are coming to make the grass green again, and the birds and other animals are enjoying their time outside where they haven't been able to be in decades.  And I'm actually okay with that.
     And if things get worse before they get better, then I'll continue keeping on because even with all of this because panicking never helped anyone.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Focus on Me - pt. 3 - Low Self-Esteem

     Maybe this entry would be better fit as a "mental health" entry as opposed to a focus on me...but then again I kind of just want to whine for a few minutes while I'm waiting on this book to print out for my brother.  What he doesn't get is that yes, I found the PDF of this out of print book he wanted, but no...it's NOT easy to print out, not when my printer keeps calling for more toner (which it doesn't need) and also just decides to fall asleep halfway through because it doesn't feel like it or something?
   
     But that's not what I'm here to complain about, what I am whining about is how things are going at my job.  Training was sort of rough because there was a lot of information to focus on, but after a few weeks of stressing out about it I'm slowly growing accustomed to the crazy stuff.  Then they gave me an opportunity to change time periods and I didn't realize they were limiting this time period to only two people.  That's fine, but I barely sit near that person, and when they re-arranged our seats I'm almost completely alone and feel little to no teamwork now.
     Everyone keeps saying how I'm rocking the calls... Well, I have no distractions, no one to talk to, and have no need to do anything but take calls.  Of course, I'm going to take more.  None of my other teammates barely say a word to me and I feel somewhat like I'd abandoned them to go to a different time so I feel bad about that and don't even really bother.
     Then there's the fact that I've started to notice some of the people who aren't doing as well as me keep getting to focus on other projects.  They're even getting time set aside to work...on what, I have no idea.  No one tells me.  I was starting to look forward to having a project myself but come to find out it's only on a quarterly basis I guess...?  Everyone around me leaves for hours at a time, but because I'm seated near a bunch of supervisors I also feel like maybe I've been singled out...but I'm afraid to read my books when I'm bored too because I'm worried about what they think.

So I've been just a huge bundle of nerves lately.

Focus on My Career - pt. 7 - Anxiety and Job Offers

     Anxiety can be a real bitch.  You don't know when it's going to hit you or for what reason.  I know I've actually suffered from it for a very long time but never had a name to it.  Does that make it better maybe?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure if addressing it head-on or letting it run its course is the better option.  I've read a little bit recently about facing it and dealing with it as it hits you so that you can remind yourself that whatever that immediate danger your body and brain are trying to warn you about, most of the time it's not actual danger at all.
     I think the earliest attack came around fifth or sixth grade, so I was probably 8-10, it was winter time and we were all bundled up at recess (because back then they still sent us out in the cold and snow!) and I remember wanting to avoid everyone, so went out into the middle of the field, plopped myself down, huddled with my hood over my head and stared at the snow.  Or was it actually summer, and I was looking at flowers?  I honestly don't recall for sure, but I remember not wanting to deal with anyone.  It took a teacher coming over to me to haul me to my feet and take me back inside.
     Spending a lot of time in the secretary's office, with a "stomach ache" was another favorite pastime.
     Another was being JUST stubborn enough that I wasn't allowed to go out to recess and stuck in the library during lunchtime.  Just me and the librarian, browsing books and looking outside and just being happy.
     After researching anxiety in children over the years I can definitely see myself in almost all of the different clues that are now accepted as anxiety.  But no one knew what that was, I was made fun of, I was more sensitive to all of that, I clung to adults who could give me solid answers and didn't judge, didn't give me trouble, and in this age, they would have gotten me into counseling.  Not as if I didn't try to do it myself, but I was only allowed to go about once a month, and after elementary school, there wasn't anyone to go too.