Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Three weeks off: My musings on family, being creative and gaming...

This is a post of a different sort... just some of my thoughts thrown out there for whomever to chew on. Comments encouraged... :) I'll be back to the regularly scheduled program soon.... whatever "regularly scheduled" is.

Yes, I know I have not blogged for three weeks. My 92-year-old grandmother, who does not use Facebook, lets me know when it has been too long between posts. (I love you Grandma, really!) I'm hoping to beat her to the punch with this one. I took some much-needed time off from my usual activities, such as blogging, and focused on spending time with my family, being creative, and gaming. And here are how the three of those made an impact on the few weeks I took to recharge:

Time with Family

Being half a world away from all but three members of my family is tough. Fortunately, I am good at adapting, keeping busy, meeting new people and getting involved... plus I can Skype like a madwoman. But, it's still not easy. So, I made sure to try and Skype everyone I could in my family, and my husband's.

Skyping with Grandma Nancy, Grandpa Mark and GG

Skyping with Grandma Peggy, Great-Grandma Velma and Great-Grandpa Bill

Skyping with Aunt Vicky and Uncle Earl

Skyping with Aunt Jill and Uncle Luke, and various aunts, uncles and cousins
With technology and time difference we didn't get to everyone, but we did our darndest. Both families got to see the kids open the gifts they got them for Christmas. It took four different Skype sessions, but we did it! I wrote letters, which I do not usually do, although I appreciate getting them myself, so I figured I better try to reciprocate a bit. And I made a point for the four Japan Guthries to do stuff together, despite the fact Rodney ended up getting pneumonia. We went to a hypnotist show (I have no photos because I was busy being hypnotized, much to the delight of my children and irritation of my spouse), checked out Costco and the light show in downtown Hiroshima on Christmas day (which is not a national holiday in Japan):

and rang in the new year with fellow military families at a neighborhood bonfire.

So, I lived life with my family instead of recording and archiving it like I usually do. Well, I didn't do it AS MUCH. Once a photographer and scrapbooker, always a photographer and scrapbooker, but maybe just in a different format. Which leads me to my next past time I focused on these past three weeks...

Being Creative

I worked on projects that were not custom-made, commissioned orders, which I appreciate, but sometimes it's fun to just create to create, so I did. Most of the projects aren't finished yet, but here's one that I made, just to make (although I will probably sell it or give it away):

And here is something I made  >gasp!<  for myself! I'm a huge fan of margaritas, in case you didn't know.

But the crafting world gave a collective resigned sigh recently when scrapbooking retail chain Archiver's announced it was closing its stores. This shouldn't have really come as a shock to anyone involved in the industry, even as a casual scrapbooker. The industry has been slowly decaying since 2008, which blogger Jennifer Priest does a good job of explaining. Read her post before reading the rest of my post. It will make a lot more sense if you do.

I found myself relating to Jennifer's story, but wanted to add something more to the reason why. I started to comment on her blog, but then found that my comments were reaching the length of a short blog post, so I decided to add my comments here. The digital age has also killed scrapbooking and papercrafting as we knew it. The newspaper and printing industries have had to either adapt or die as people did not electronically. The U.S. Postal Service has been in financial trouble for years because people started sending fewer letters, but overhead costs remained the same. Why wouldn't stickers and printed paper share the same fate? Who prints their photos anymore? In the days of film, you got your negatives back with prints because that was the only way you could view the images you took. Today, you snap a photo on your cell phone and can see it right away. I can't imagine my kids being told they would have to wait an hour to see the photo (remember 1-hour photo places!? Those cute little kiosk-like buildings in the middle of shopping center parking lots?). Or, like when I was a kid, when you had to wait a week or two to get your precious moments back!

Like Jennifer mentioned, I, too, have a couple dozen huge, thick 20-lb. 12x12-inch scrapbooks for each of my kids to move in to their first house with them. If I am lucky, they might scan the pages and toss the books in a basement or attic. I'm finding I am doing a lot more blogging online. It's not as pretty or creative as my scrapbooks were, but it's easily accessible, portable and hopefully there for as long as Blogger is willing to host them. And they're easily searchable and accessed on any handheld device with internet access. I don't have to spend a ton of money on paper, adhesive or albums. I can expect the same cost every month: My internet bill. And if I feel like getting a little digitally creative, I just play with Photoshop, also a cost I can expect to be the same every month with my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. The spouse is happy because it appears I am spending less money. But camera lenses and computer crap is expensive. The next lens I want costs roughly 1,500 sheets of 12x12 scrapbooking paper. But, weighs less... that's a bonus, right? It is when you are a military spouse worried about making the weight allowance for each new move!

Now, I am not saying I will give up papercrafting all together. I work on the computer A LOT, so sometimes I want something tangible to have fun with. Those are the moments I find myself in my scraproom. Yes, I still have a room devoted to crafting, but it was significantly downsized with the last move... and will probably be downsized further with the next one. Meanwhile, my computers keep getting faster and my monitors bigger. And speaking of faster computers and bigger monitors...


Yes... gaming. I spent a number of seemingly fruitless hours playing a video game these past few weeks. Anyone who knows me probably thinks of me as someone who doesn't really spend too much time on video games, aside from some Candy Crush as I wait for an appointment or just before I go to bed. I have no idea where to begin with Ghost Protocol or whatever it is, and I get the concept of Minecraft, but it doesn't really interest me. I have always enjoyed board and card games, but since the spouse doesn't really care for anything aside from Texas Hold 'em poker, which I usually beat him at, we don't really play board or card games. But I do have a guilty gaming pleasure I have had since college: Maxis/Electronic Arts' Sims. I was first introduced to SimCity2000 in 1995 because one of the computers in my college newsroom had the game installed on it. My biggest frustration was having enough water pumps to keep the Sims from dying of thirst and moving out of my city.

SimCity 2000
I would spend hours in the newsroom after hours and on weekends, playing. I was an early gamer and didn't know it. Creating my city, growing it, forcing my thousands of subject to obey my every command.. ahh, the joys of college. I guess it appeased my inner megalomaniac so I didn't do anything crazy in the real world. Well, at least nothing crazy that would affect entire cities, anyway.

While this obsession ebbed and flowed over the years, I usually had some Sims game on my computer.

SimCity 3000
I got SimCity 3000 when it came out (the year 2000 had already happened and the cool buildings and technology the game promised did not exist yet, kind of like Back to the Future and The Jetsons, hence the name change).

When it was introduced in 2000, I jumped on The Sims, because if controlling little ant-sized people in SimCity was fun, controlling the actual individual Sims was even funner, right? (Yes, I know "funner" is not a word... my inner 12-year-old video-game-addicted self just broke loose... no worries, I caught her and shoved her back in to learn grammar.)

I skipped over The Sims 2 because I was giving birth to actual little people I could (sort of but not really) control. Then came The Sims 3, which has been around since 2009, I believe, and what I am currently playing now.

The Sims 3
The Sims 4 is scheduled to debut later this year, but I am not sure if I will be an early adopter or not. Time will tell, as will the rhythm of my life whien it comes to other responsibilities, like work. Not that  I don't work now. I think I work more hours now than I ever have, but I get to decide when and where I work so that makes scheduling fun time WAY easier.

But I used to feel guilty about playing video games. I was a closet gamer until now. They were what I considered to be unproductive. At least with crafting and scrapbooking I had something to show for my hours of diligent work. With gaming, there was nothing. My parents would not have displayed a photo of my highly-successful Criminal-careered Sims family with 12 kids (thanks to the fertility treatment lifetime reward) on their shelf. But they do display the photos I take and scrapbooks I make.

But, it turns out, that I may live 10 years longer than the average non-gaming person. If you don't believe me, check out this TED Talk by gamer and game designer Jane McGonigal... trust me, it's worth the 20 minutes. It's a lot more thought-provoking than Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones, I promise, and I watch both of those shows. Not convinced? There are a bunch more TED Talks that explain the benefits of gaming on the brain, on an individual's quality of life and on the world.

After Jane's Talk, I stopped feeling as though my time with my Sims was wasted. And when the non-gaming spouse makes fun of me I just count the minutes I am adding to my life.... out loud so he can hear me over the Duck Dynasty episode he is watching from his recliner.

1 comment:

Fe Adamsonn said...

To cultivate creativity is good. It will give us an accomplishment feeling. For me its like flying to the wilderness and embracing creativity.

Military spouse