Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Diary Update (long, as usual)

So there is at least one apparent advantage to being way behind on LJ: I managed to miss the frienditto crisis entirely. By the time I heard anything more than msmemory telling me that there was a brouhaha, the site had apparently gone splat. So out of curiosity, does anyone know anybody who actually *did* sign up for this silly thing?

Anyway: been a week or two since I've done one of these, and it's been complicated. In broad strokes: after my mood crashed entirely through the floor late last week and into the weekend, I finally twigged to the fact that I was Depressed, Dammit. That led to a bunch of soul-searching and some very useful conversations (especially with ladysprite, who whapped me repeatedly upside the head with some common sense), and I'm doing a good deal better now. Simply acknowledging the depression, and getting some stuff out of my system, has helped a lot, but I'm slowly wrestling myself around to the idea that talking to a therapist would probably be A Good Thing. (I'm unusually good at mucking with my own head, but this whole mess has uncovered a lot of open issues that need to be properly addressed.)

Anyway, a recap of what's been going on:

Last Tuesday, I wound up causing Accademia to be cancelled. That was nominally on account of snow causing me to be carless, but it was at least as much about my own personal burnout. That really marked the onset of the full-fledged depression: a combination of me not being able to cope, plus feeling unwarrantedly responsible for running the thing. Of course, I then wound up feeling guilty about cancelling, which made things worse. Lunchtime conversation with ladysprite on Wednesday pointed out just how irrational I seem to have gotten there, and started bringing matters to the fore.

The weekend was Intercon. Friday night, I was cast/AGM for Casino Xeno, a wildly silly game by baron_saturday and company. It was a peculiar experience: as cast, I knew less about what was really going on than most of the players did. I was playing the roulette dealer, and was at least nominally in charge of the casino games in general. (Although the other dealers really didn't need that much help.) In practice, I didn't do a huge amount, but that's okay: given my mood (which can be gently described as "quiet"), I wasn't going to be able to do any deep roleplaying anyway.

So I spun the roulette wheel, helped out with a few nuts and bolts of the game, and watched the chaos unfold around me. Not to give away any spoilers, but what appeared to be a conventional gangland game on the surface suddenly turned into a riot of every imaginable science fiction cliche, rather suddenly about 3/4 of the way through the game. Once the secrets started coming out, we wound up with a very messy but amusing endgame, and one of the more entertaining game wraps I've seen. It wasn't enough to get me out of my own head, but it at least helped a little to be around a lot of people loudly having fun.

Then I got back to my room, and finally read my character sheet for Babylon 5: Turning Tides, which had been delivered to me in the middle of Casino Xeno. I was taken rather aback to discover that I was the nominal central character in the "A" plot of the game -- it was pretty clear that I was going to be running things. (The story was set at a trade conference -- I turned out to be the organizer and moderator of the conference.) Realizing that my current state of sleep deprivation was going to be a problem (I've been sleeping *extremely* badly for weeks, which was undoubtedly making the depression worse), I stopped fairly briefly in tpau's party, and then went to bed.

Although I slightly resented finding out at the last minute how key a character I had in the B5 game, it was probably exactly what I needed at the time. My character was relatively straightforward -- less interesting from a roleplaying POV than I might have originally wished, but with very clear game goals, which suited my state. And being in charge of driving the A plot forward forced me to focus on the game rather than wallowing, which did much to break my bad mood. Of course, being both a B5 story and a LARP, there were a zillion B plots floating around, all threatening to disrupt the conference, so I had to occasionally strongarm the various delegates to pay attention to the task at hand.

Overall, the game wasn't awful, but had some significant flaws that could stand some polishing. While most of the characters had a lot of interesting background, most of that background had nothing apparent to do with the in-game plots, so the plot web was a bit thin -- it was reasonable for a B5 story, but not really enough for a good LARP. The plots tended to be goal-oriented rather than character-oriented, which reduced the amount of hardcore roleplaying. (A pity, given that some of the players were clearly prepared for major roleplay, and some of the costumes were fabulous.) The trade conference itself, while very realistic, wasn't particularly exciting: everyone was just a smidgeon too reasonable, and so it was a little too easy for me to negotiate compromises. The endgame was too GM-dictated, and didn't leave most of the players with much to do, and game wrap was the GMs explaining *to* the players everything that was going on, without much interactive component -- both of these acted to reduce the players' stake in the game, I think. ladysprite took the worst of it, I'm afraid: her character was too secondary to begin with, and her only real plot was hooked to the ISN reporters who never showed up.

I didn't have a terrible time, but I think the game could use a significant rewrite before it re-runs. It could use a bunch more clear inter-character plots to shore up the many player-vs-environment plots, and some thought should be given to making the endgame more interactive.

After that, I had the evening free (having not signed up for any games for the rest of the con), so I called msmemory. She came up and we had our Friday-evening date a day late. We went out to Bamboo, which was in Westford IIRC, and continues to impress me as a very good Chinese/Japanese restaurant. My only issue with the place is that it is *very* crowded -- there was a solid half-hour wait to get in. But the food was excellent and the service good, so the place is worth keeping on our list as somewhere to go in the far-western burbs.

Following the date, I went back to the hotel and did something I haven't done in years: I took a nap. I knew I was exhausted, and wasn't going to make it through the dance as it was. The result was that I was able to make it all the way through the dance (which ran roughly 1-4am), and that finally started to crack the deep funk I'd been in. Getting to really move helped break open my shell, and while I think Terrilee was slightly off her stride in her dance choices, a bad night for her is still a better dance than any other DJ I know. Add in occasional entertainments like Christian and ladysprite doing their now-traditional Interpretive Dance Reinterpreted version of Bohemian Rhapsody, and I was actually starting to feel halfway decent by the end of the night.

Sunday morning, several of us went out for breakfast. This proved a little comical: several people had told us that there was a good joint "down the road a mile", and it wasn't until the convoy was actually on the road that we realized that this was totally ambiguous, since the road forks and reforks several times. So we wound up wandering back down to Westford, where we found an adequate pancake joint.

After that came closing ceremonies, which went as usual: I managed the raffle while Mike Young ran the plugs. The best plug of the lot, IMO, was for the stuffies game at Intercon XX, which looks to be a deliciously funny parody of 70's disaster movies -- it may be enough to get me down south to the con. (And to my shock, Don Ross has revived the never-written BYOG idea, Being John Corrado, the game we almost wrote instead of Collision Imminent!. I may have to go, just to find out what he does with it.)

Monday was Council, entirely unremarkable except that Guindormr finally made the official proposal to buy a Baronial iPod for Dance Practice. After something like ten months of discussion, internal debate and planning, I'm really happy to see this happen: I think it's going to make running dance practice significantly easier.

Wednesday was No Dance Practice, due to not being able to get our usual room. Hopefully we'll be able to move it to Brandeis for next week. Lacking that, I grabbed dinner with ladysprite, which was refreshingly normal since I've gotten past the worst of my bad mood.

One postscript to the week: it's remarkable how much the little things can matter. As of Sunday, I've made one lifestyle tweak in the wake of the depression, and it's making a huge difference: I'm at least sometimes going to bed an hour earlier. For many years now, we've been in the habit of being in bed for 7-8 hours. That's been fine some of the time, but when I'm having insomnia problems (as I often do), it just hasn't been enough, and my sleep debt has slowly moved up to horrible exhaustion. The simple act of adding an hour there means that I'm beginning to recover from that, and that's helping me view the world a lot more rationally again...

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