Thursday, September 21, 2017

It's Not About the Ketchup

Do you ever have that moment when you're having french fries at home, and you go to get the ketchup, and when you realize you're all out, you just burst into tears and have a complete meltdown?

Yeah, it's not about the ketchup.

It's just the last straw, THE thing that pushes you over the edge.

You might have big things to deal with.  You might have little things to deal with.  One or two of them at a time, you can handle.  Even 5 or 10 little things, you can handle.  But at some point, you can't take any more, and the littlest thing is what sets you off, to the point where anyone in the vicinity looks at you like you're a crazy person because you've just completely over-reacted to something that doesn't warrant that level of distress.

I had one of those moments today.

Tuesday started off not great with a doctor's appointment (details will be in a future blog post), but then I spent several hours in the afternoon chatting with a friend I haven't seen in a very long time, and then I spent the evening having dinner with the husband and some friends, including one friend who I haven't seen in a while.  All in all, it was a good day for spending time with friends, and it really did a lot to boost my spirits.  Driving home late in the evening, I knew I felt better than I had in a while.

Wednesday, some of the glow had worn off, but not all of it.  I'd even started to think about maybe hanging out with friends for part of the weekend.  By Thursday morning, though, the dark cloud was back.  The voice in my head that said, you don't really want to go to work today, do you?  Don't you just want to stay home?  You haven't been getting much work done anyway, so what's the point in going?  Besides, they won't miss you at work if you're not there.  So I had to fight past that voice to actually leave the house and go to work, and then fight not wanting to actually do anything once I got to work.

And then I got a call in the late afternoon from my doctor's office, and the nurse wanted to go through my test results.  Usually, they just send me the results.  I don't recall them calling me before.  And, as I suspected, both my cholesterol numbers and my A1C (to test for diabetes) were high, though my A1C wasn't actually as high as I had expected.  I've been indulging in a whole lot of comfort eating in the past couple months with everything that's been going on, and I haven't exercised in about 3 months, so yeah, I figured my results wouldn't be great.  The nurse kept giving me a hard time about the cholesterol, and asking me repeatedly if I'd been taking the medication I've already been on for a while.  Yes, I've been taking my meds.  No, I didn't take a break from my meds.  Yes, my numbers are that high even though I'm already on meds.  After then proceeding to the sugars results and then telling me what I should be eating instead, I finally told her that I knew exactly why both results were as bad as they were, and I had expected it.  I told her what had happened to my parents in the last year, and that it wasn't an excuse, but yeah, I've been eating bad things because I'm just trying to get through everything, and I haven't been focused on what I've been eating.  She apologized and said she understood, and we talked about a couple more things before we concluded the call.

And I spent about 20 minutes feeling worse and worse, to the point where I started to cry.  Luckily, I have an office at work, so I got up and shut the door so I could cry in private.  The results were what I thought they'd be.  Having the nurse get on me wasn't that bad, and she backed off once I explained what had been going on.  But I guess that was the tipping point, because I cried in my office for a while.  And I went through a round of "What the hell does it matter what I'm eating?  Why can't I just eat what I want?  Why does any of this matter?  All the stuff that would make me feel better are things that are going to make my numbers worse, so I guess I'm just supposed to deal with everything on my own?  Fine, I'll just sit at home by myself and I won't talk to anyone and I won't do nothing.  And I won't eat anything, that'll help my numbers, right?"

Yeah, meltdown.  At least it wasn't with an audience.  After a while, my sanity returned, and I stopped crying, so I opened my door again.  And then realized a few minutes later that I apparently wasn't quite done, so I had to close the door again for another round of crying since I didn't want to risk having someone walk in on me.  Finally, I'd stopped crying for a little while, and I felt like it was done, so I opened the door again, and I even managed to get some work done after that.  Not a lot, but some.

Not having ketchup for your fries really sucks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sleep Doesn't Come Easy

Last week, I had a dream about my mother.

We were at the old house, the old house being the house my family lived in from the time that I was about 4 or 5 until I was about 17.  It's the most common recurring location of my dreams, probably because it's where I grew up.

The house has an attached garage, connected by an adjoining door right after you enter the front door.  We never parked the cars in the garage, but rather, it was a spare bedroom, storage space, utility area.  For some reason, I'd gone in there to look for my mother but was surprised when I didn't find her.

After a little while, I noticed that she was laying in bed, facing away from me.  That seemed odd because I never knew my mother to nap much, unless she wasn't feeling well.  I remember wondering if she was sick and was about to ask if she was ok, and for her to tell me if anything was wrong so we could take her to be examined.  And then I realized, I didn't need to tell her that anymore.

I heard my mother's voice in my head (in Cantonese), "I've been gone for a lifetime, and she still doesn't know it."

Well, it hasn't been a lifetime.  My mother died just over a month ago.  And my father died in October 2016.  So, the last 12 months have left me with quite a bit to deal with.

There are moments when things feel ok, when I feel normal.  The moments come and go, and they don't generally last very long unless I've got something to focus on and I'm actually able to focus.  During the day, I have things to do, things to pay attention to, work, distractions.

The nights are difficult.  There's less going on.  Distractions fade away.  Things are quiet.  People are sleeping, resting.  Except me.  There's just me and a whirlwind of conflicted thoughts.

I've never really been very good at sleeping, even as a child.  It never occurred to me that I could ever actually have MORE trouble sleeping.  That's how it's been for the past month.  I'm awake well into the early hours of the morning, pretty much until my body is exhausted and can be awake no more.  I sleep for a little while, but then it's time to get up and go to work.  And then I spend the day very tired.  So you'd think I'd be able to sleep that next night, right?  Nope.  I'm tired and sleepy all day, but when I get home from work, even if I think I'm tired enough to go to bed early, as soon as I think about going to bed, the brain starts firing again and won't let me sleep.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  On weekends, if I don't have to be up at a certain time, I still can't sleep in.  As soon as my body is no longer exhausted, my brain wakes me up, even though I'm still tired and sleepy.

The irony of having even more difficulty sleeping now than I usually do is that when my mother would hear about my insomnia, she would tell me that I was thinking about too many things, and that was why I couldn't sleep.  She'd tell me to stop thinking about so much.

I haven't yet figured out how to quiet my brain enough to let my body rest.  I figured I'd try writing again, to see if that would help.

If you've been reading this entry, you probably got here from a link I posted.  That will be the only time I link to these sorts of posts.  I figure if you want to read more about this subject, if I manage to write any more about it, you now already know how to find your way here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Star Wars and Disneyland

Today, we attended the panel at Star Wars Celebration, Orlando called "Star Wars and Disney Parks".  First up was discussion about Star Tours.  The guests were Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald and actor Anthony Daniels.  Tom talked a bit about how the ride was developed, that he and fellow Imagineer Tony Baxter were asked to visit a company that made flight simulators who were interested in entering the entertainment industry.  When Imagineering was then subsequently in discussions with George Lucas about working on something together, George saw some information while at Imagineering about the flight simulator and asked what it was.  He then said it was the perfect tool to help create a Star Wars ride, and Imagineering and ILM starting working together on what would eventually be Star Tours.  Paul Reubens was chosen to voice Rex, the hapless robot who finds that his first flight ends up being more complicated than he'd imagined.  Tom said that George had wanted to make sure there was plenty of humour in the ride.

Anthony Daniels was asked to be part of the project because they wanted the iconic characters of R2-D2 and C-3PO to be involved in the pre-show in the queue.  Anthony came in to do the movements of 3PO, which he says were duplicated perfectly, so much so that when he stood in the queue watching the animatronic 3PO, he couldn't believe he wasn't inside the suit controlling the movements.  I laughed at the story, because it's one of my favorites, that Tom told that George had wanted more droids in the pre-show but they were so close to opening the ride, so they went to a nearby attraction, "America Sings" at the time, and stole two of the singing geese and turned them into droids for Star Tours, which is why they're referred to as the goose droids.

Discussion then turned into the changed, current version of Star Tours, billed as "The Adventures Continue".  In connection with the then-upcoming release of "The Force Awakens", a new scene on Jakku was added to the ride.  They purposely subtitled it "the Adventures Continue" so that it gave them a lot of leeway to do other things.  They announced that in connection with "The Last Jedi", a new scene would be added featuring Crait, the new planet revealed in the teaser trailer for "The Last Jedi".

And then, discussion turned to the new Star Wars lands being built in Disneyland in Anaheim and in Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando.  Several people from Imagineering and from Lucasfilm who are collaborating on the project came out to discuss the new land, which had previously been announced as opening in 2019.  Not much information has been released about the new land.  They did say that it's a remote frontier outpost on a planet with which we are not currently familiar.  The vision is to create not a set with facades but something real.  They said it wasn't a place that was being created for 2019 but rather, a place that already exists which we won't get to visit until 2019.  It will be a real town, with real characters, including an underworld, and real smells.

Both the Resistance and the First Order will have a presence in the outpost, but it will also be a place for bounty hunters and smugglers and those who don't wish to be found.  In designing the town, they looked at a lot of Star Wars concept drawings from famed artist Ralph McQuarrie.  Star Wars fans know how revered he is in being instrumental in helping to design the look and feel of Star Wars worlds.  They said that when they consider an element in the land, if it was something that Ralph McQuarrie wouldn't approve of, then maybe it would be best to leave it off.  Having the new town elements and look be influenced by Ralph McQuarrie's designs is indeed an encouraging thing for Star Wars fans to hear.

In designing the new town, it's not the same as designing a set because a set would be contained and controlled.  The new town they're designing has to look good in the daytime and the nighttime, and it has to be able to accommodate the weather elements in each locale.

The town will include many droids, some already familiar and some not.  Each will have their own story and their own personality.

There will also be various characters who inhabit the town, and guests will find themselves with the ability to help the Resistance, or support the First Order, or maybe even accept a side job from a smuggler or bounty hunter.  Guests will also be able to fly the Millenium Falcon to complete a mission with their chosen flight crew (spouse, sibling, third cousin twice removed, friend, etc).  It was stated that most guests would most likely accomplish their mission, but what kind of damage the Falcon or anything else might sustain in the process will be up to the guest and their crew.  However, if things go awry, there could be consequences and the guest might find themselves being paid a visit even after their mission is over or down the line.  Guests will in effect build a reputation based on their actions in this new town.

It was great to hear how excited everyone was in talking about this project.  All of the people working on the project are huge Star Wars fans, and they themselves are looking forward to fulfilling their own childhood dreams of being able to actually visit and spend time in a Star Wars world.  They said that they didn't just want guests to remember past adventures of other people, like having them visit Tatooine or Hoth.  They want guests to experience their own Star Wars stories in this town.

I was intrigued to hear that your history in the town could be maintained and used as an on-going story.  And I thought about how that could work.  Obviously, guests could be asked to scan their annual passes when they entered the town or flew the Falcon or visited the cantina, and that information could be tracked for future reference.  But, not everyone has an annual pass.  Some people might visit regularly but not by having an annual pass.  However, given that it's a town, I'm thinking visitors could be asked to have some kind of ID that would be issued to them.  As they interact with characters in the town, those interactions could be tracked by scanning the ID and the cumulative effect could result in more story variations, depending on what each guest in involved in.  And for those guests who don't visit as often or who would prefer to remain more anonymous during their visits, they wouldn't have to have their IDs scanned.

There is still one major concern that I have, a concern I've had since the project was first announced, heck, since the project was first rumoured.  From the very beginning, it had been indicated that the plan was to have it be a real place, a real town, with real citizens you can interact with.  That sounds great.  But a real town is going to be suffocating when 40 million people want to visit this town at the same time.  How are they going to control the guest population in this town?  Sure, they could restrict entry into the town, to control how many people enter at any given time.  However, unless they sweep the town of guests every two hours or so, which would be weird for a real town, they're going to end up having too many people staying and therefore limiting how many new guests could enter.  I can tell you right now that when I'm allowed to visit, as long as they have restrooms and refreshments, I could enter first thing in the morning and not leave until the town closes for the evening.  Heck, maybe I'll even sit at the base of an AT-AT and just people watch for a while.  I'm definitely going to explore every little detail, and I know I'm not the only one.  I'm sure they'll figure out a way to handle this.  I just can't think of what it could be.

I was excited to hear what the panelists had to say today.  I cannot even tell you how exciting I think it is, and two years is a long time away, but patience is definitely going to pay off.

Oh, and by the way, just an FYI to Imagineering and ILM, if you need people to test out visits to the new town, interactions with guests, taste tests of the local food, I'm totally available and happy to help!  I love traveling to new places!