A Crack

Destiny, part 28

Imagine being in a dark room, perhaps a prison cell with no windows or doors.  Maybe even a deep, dark cave.  You’re there alone and all is silent, but miserable.  And quiet.  So very quiet.  Suddenly, off in the distance, or perhaps not so far, there is a crack.  It is small at first, and the light it emits is dim, but it is there none the less.  It is a sight that stings the eyes, for it is foreign and unfamiliar.

A crack in the darkness

It’s late at night and a couple members of the clan and I decided to play some Destiny 2 since the Bloodborne servers were down, probably thanks to the game being free this month for PlayStation Plus members.  I’m actually interested in playing Destiny 2 again now that the Nightfall isn’t a nightmare to complete anymore.  Last week, with the new system implemented, we tried it out and finished with a score around 20,000.  This week, we improved our score and got up to 26,000.

This week’s Nightfall is the Pyramidion again, but it’s at least not a total nightmare anymore.

What they’ve done – and should’ve done all along – is let you decide how hard you want to make Nightfall for yourself.  The non Prestige version has no modifiers, just a score and a clock that shows how long you’ve been at it.  The Prestige is where it gets interesting.  Now you can choose how hard you want to make the enemies you face and what burns you want to activate, if any.  Tonight we tried a Prestige run and managed to make it with minimal fuss.  Getting the Aura now is going to be just as difficult as before, and probably still not worth the effort.  Also, there’s specialized Emblems for each new Nightfall that can be customized assuming you hit the required score for each variant.  I’m happy with the way Nightfall works now and hopefully this means we as a clan will gather to do it each week now.

In other news, the latest Iron Banner is happening and I’m actually excited to participate because the Warlock armor is beautiful and looks very Asian inspired.  At least this time around I won’t be going in alone.

Now, let’s go get those treasure maps and head for Nessus…


Relationships, part 16

So a few Saturdays ago I got a friend request from one of my nephews. I know for a fact I blocked him once before so it seems he made a new account. I had toyed with the idea of opening a dialogue to see what he wanted…but I was hesitant.

I’ve been an uncle since birth. He’s a year older than me and his brother is a year younger than me. The 3 of us were pretty much inseparable until our teenage years when self discovery started. THAT was when the drift started. When my sister outed me, I don’t think it helped.

After seeking the advice of friends, people on Facebook and a mostly ignored plea on Instagram, I decided to go ahead and take the next step and talk to him.  This was the beginning of a conversation that I’ve had a feeling in my gut was coming for some time.  I’ve been having thoughts/feelings about my biological family for a while now because I had a feeling that maybe, just maybe, not all of them were against me.  It could also be the creeping realization that age is catching up to us all and there’s only so much time we have left.

Some of my more prominent memories of this guy aren’t exactly pleasant ones, so I decided to err on the side of caution and message him anyway, but with contingencies in mind.  So far everything has been fine and the conversations have been civil.  I’m just wondering about a few things that he said during our conversations.

He wants me to meet his new wife, Angel.  I’m not opposed to the idea, but I’m not really thrilled with it either.  After I worked up the courage to ask him what happened with the other girl he married – Hayley – he told me that after 9 years she cheated on him.  That definitely opened up a flood gate of emotions when I told him I’d been cheated on twice.  That was when I outed myself to him.  He asked if I was currently seeing anyone and I said yes, his name is Matt.  He seemed cool with it and didn’t freak out about it or anything.  I told him that I was glad that he didn’t flip out over and his response is what I’ve been mulling over since he said it:

“Hell no man I’m not going to freak out on ya. That’s who you are and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  No judgement here.  From any of us.”
So does ‘we’ mean just him and Angel, or is he speaking for our whole family?  Was this all just a huge misunderstanding from the get go and I’ve been living with the assumption that I’m not liked by my family?  I don’t know.  I also really don’t know if I want to even bother finding out.  How the fuck do you establish a dialogue with a group of people that you haven’t seen or spoken to in nearly 20 years?  If in fact I’ve been mistaken all this time, then perhaps the record should show that maybe I was wrong.  And if in fact, that’s not the case and I’m just looking at things through rose colored glasses, then perhaps trying to establish a dialogue or even seeing my family again after all this time is possibly the worst idea I’ve ever had.
For the time being, I’m going to keep the dialogue with him open and hope for the best.

Dear Matty

I’ve been waiting for months for this countdown to reach zero, and here we are.  It’s a little after 9am and you just texted me to tell me you’re at your gate at Philadelphia airport.  I’m sitting in my living room, just dressed, having coffee and writing you this letter.  I’m so unbelievably nervous about meeting you in person for the first time.  You’ve told me again and again not to be, but I can’t help myself.  My heart thunders in my chest and my pulse races at the thought of finally getting to spend some quality time with you that doesn’t require an internet connection and use of PSN.  I’ve barely slept at all because I didn’t want to miss picking you up.  I’m so anxious.

After you went to bed, I baked the chocolate chip muffins and ate two of them.  Had to make sure they were up to snuff before I served them to you hahahaha.  You just checked in on Facebook, I’m so excited!  Alex is on his way to get me and then we’ll be picking you up.  Every time I think about you being here I get excited and smile and laugh.  I can’t believe that this day is finally happening!

Fast forward to the end of the week…

This went by way too fast!  It’s a little after noon on Saturday and I’m sitting here on my couch listening to The Cure and wishing you were still here in my arms.  I still feel like an asshole for making you cry this week; once after telling you about my mother and what happened to her and again when we had the talk about us.

I’m going to miss having your big warm body to snuggle up with at night, holding you close to me and feeling the heat of your breath on my skin.  Hearing the sound of you snoring and watching your lumbering form cast shadows on the dim walls of my bedroom.  I’ll miss all those special dirty things we said to each other in bed.  I’ll miss having morning coffee and muffins with you and snuggling under the cammo comforter on the couch while we play games together.

I’m already counting the minutes until I get to see you again.  I miss my bubby.

Your papa bear,


The Road to Destiny 2

Destiny, part 20

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally here.

Time is a Construct

Ever since Bungie’s big reveal, it’s been on our minds almost constantly, and the beta did nothing to sate our hunger for the game; merely made us thirst for the experience.  Days passed by in blissful melancholy as we knew what was to come, and what it was we would lose at the beginning.  But today, our ritual gives no comfort.  For today, before us, our “god”, The Traveler, was seized and we lay weakened without its touch.  But before we get into that, let’s back up a bit…

No bueno

You Betta Work

All day at work, I was texting and messaging nearly everyone I knew to try to find out if anyone was going to be available after I got off work to go to GameStop so I could pick up my copy of Destiny 2: Extreme Justice (because this game needs a damn subtitle.)  But person after person was either working or would already be in bed by then, so I was close to giving up.  Then it dawned on me, I have Uber installed on my phone but I’ve never used it.  There’s a first time for everything, right?  As it got closer and closer to 10:30, I started to become more and more anxious.  Was an Uber driver even going to be available at that time of night?  If so, was he/she going to be a nice person?  Or clean?  I would soon find out.

I clocked out on the dot and rushed home as fast as my legs would carry me.  As soon as I was inside I plugged in my dying phone and booted up the app.  After a nervous few seconds, I gave in to the pressure and requested my first ever Uber ride.  The lucky winner’s name was John.  As I dashed about the house throwing my work clothes in to wash and putting something on that didn’t reek of my sweaty body, I sat nervously and watched the little car icon drive closer and closer to my house.  As I saw the bright headlights vanquish the darkness of my street, I locked my front door and walked out to meet my new friend.  He was a lovely old southern black gentleman who had very good taste in music.  The interior of his car was practically spotless save for the wet floor mat which was understandable as it had been raining off and on all day.

After guiding him back to interstate (the exit near my house is weird and usually needs some explaining to people that have never been there) we were on our way.  The trip was quick and the conversation was pleasant to say the least.  John was from around here but briefly lived in Baltimore for a few years of his life and decided to move back to be closer to family.  He was divorced and currently retired save for his side job as a driver for Uber.  As we talked and got to know one another, I nervously eyeballed the clock as it was getting closer and closer to 11:30.  I had received a call from the manager at GameStop while I was at work several hours ago about the release for Destiny 2 and she told me they would be giving out the game until 11:30 then they would be closed.  I thanked her for the information and went back to fretting about whether or not I was going to be able to get my copy today or not.  Well, here I was at 11:20 pulling up to the front door of GameStop, relief filling every part of my body.  I thanked John for getting me there, gave him 5 stars and a tip and rushed inside to what I thought was a lackluster turnout.  But then again, since it was late at night I imagine that everyone that wanted their copy had been there hours ago.  I had to be a stupid responsible adult and go to work.  Fuck me, right?

I honestly thought my Uber experience was going to be like this.

After getting my game and finally getting the last of the Destiny Funko Pops I pre-ordered, I walked out of the store into the damp darkness of the parking lot.  I had hoped that I would be able to get a ride back home with my friend Glenn who works at the nearby Sheetz, but his replacement didn’t show up so I gave Uber another go.  John once again came to my rescue (he fortunately hadn’t gotten too far away) and got me back home safe and sound.  5 more stars and another nice tip under his belt and I came home to face what was to come in Destiny 2: Fist of Humiliation (coming to theaters this fall!)

Long live The Taken King

Sweet Emotion

I quickly logged on PS4, inserted the disc and anxiously waited for the patch to download.  I joined my brothers in arms in party chat and sucked down a soda and some microwaved mac n cheese (with bacon…mmmmmmm bacon) while the patch downloaded and installed.  I also redeemed my pre-order codes and then twiddled my thumbs until the moment had arrived.  I was not at all prepared for what happened next.  Being that I’m a veteran player and I’ve been here since day one of Year One, I was treated to a wonderful bit of reminiscing that made me burst into tears as I watched the slideshow play out.  I don’t have the words to describe how sweet it is that Bungie recorded all of this stuff, so I’m going to share the screen shots that I took of everything and you can judge it for yourself:

My first thought upon completing the main story quest was ‘that’s it?’

Story wise, things got much worse.

4/16/2015 was a red letter busy day for me

Before I met the 3 guys I completed this raid with, I almost gave up on Destiny completely.

Mora Sov is one badass bitch!

I remember this night fondly.  It was almost to the end of Year One and defeating Skolas was the last Moment of Triumph that I needed to complete before Year Two began.  I managed to complete it with only a few days left before the release of The Taken King.

Still the BEST expansion for Destiny, no contest.

I remember this night fondly too.  Thanks to the compassion of a girl from the U.K. named Claire, I got my first King’s Fall clear.  After that night I was determined to help as many people get through this raid and learn it as I had.  I wanted to help people the way Claire had helped me.

The second best expansion to Destiny, though to be honest I’m still disappointed by it.

I still hate this raid, though without Phil’s help (and bitchiness) I probably never would have learned it or completed it.  Phil is to Wrath of the Machine as I was to King’s Fall.  Every night for months after the release of Rise of Iron he was sherpa-ing a new group through the raid to help them get Outbreak Prime, the hardest Exotic you could get in Destiny.  Thanks for your tutelage Phil, you taught me well.

They took the time to record not only the dates of when I completed every single major event in the game over the last 3 years, but who I completed them with.  I remember each of these victories, each of these days and how each of them made me feel at the time.  That’s class.  I muted my mic though the others knew what was happening for they had already each been dealt the blow before I got back home.  Once I was done having my moment and I completed the opening mission it was finally time to see what happened next.

I’m not going to spoil anything as the game is new and I don’t want to be one of those people that ruins everything for everyone else, but I will say it was good to have the band back together again.  I’m glad that they took all the data from the beta tests and put it to good use.  Everything feels buttery smooth and refined.  There’s so much for us to explore and do that it’s probably going to take months to finish.  I look forward to new adventures with my Guardians.

Oh, hello DADDY!

Welcome to a world without light

Life Is A Suicide Mission

Do you ever wonder why people kill themselves? I used to.

Way back in school, when I was first introduced to the concept of suicide, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would do such a thing. I get that your life is currently in a shit place and things are bad, but are they really that bad? Little did I know that in a few years, I’d learn why in a very difficult life lesson.

When I was young, I used to listen to all the grown ups in my family talk, I loved hearing their life stories. One story always stuck with me through the years. I don’t remember his name, but mama knew a man that she described as ‘always happy and funny and cheerful.’ She had a picture of him with my sister Regina when she was young. She told me that he had killed himself. Being so young, I had no idea what that meant or why it made her so sad.

Not long after high school was finally over, life decided to really take a turn for the worst. I’d be willing to go so far as to say that it’s the darkest period of my entire life. First, my mother died a couple months after I graduated after a nearly year long battle with cancer. My birthday and Christmas meant nothing to me that year. Then my friend Wendy’s grandmother died at Christmas. Then my father died the following March. Then his mother died a month later. Then on top of all that, I was forced out of my home by my father’s piece of shit sister since it was now legally hers. So I ended up living with my sister. Those were very dark times.

Did I think about killing myself? You bet, and often. I had nothing really to live for, I was merely existing. I often look back on it all and wonder how I made it. I suppose I never gave up hope that things would get better, and I guess in a way they did. Every time I thought about killing myself, I remembered what I was taught in health class in high school:

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

It pretty much became my mantra for years, said silently to myself when the voice within became too loud. I had friends, sure, but eventually they all turned out to be a bunch of fakes except one (he knows who he is.) In retrospect they weren’t really worth living for, but it was all I had. Life got better. Life GETS better, that’s why I’m still here.

Those times I entertained the thought, I weighed the pros and cons carefully. It would all be over; all the daily misery, the suffering, the anxiety, the sleeplessness, the fun and games, the sex, the music, the voices within, the noises without. Would it hurt my family? Probably, but I didn’t really care if it did or not. The ones that it would hurt the most were the ones that kept me from doing it, I stayed alive not for myself but for them. They are why I’m still here.

Those times I entertained the thought, I thought about how I’d do it. Pills? Not 100% effective. Guns? Too much of a mess. The answer came to me at work one night. I had an accident where I hit my right shin on a metal guard and ended up cutting open a vein. There was blood everywhere; every beat of my heart brought me closer to oblivion as I watched my life force drain from me. All I wanted was to sleep. All I wanted was to lay down and die. I was so tired. This was the way out, this was how I’d go out. I was taken to the ER and sewn up and drugged. I felt fine the rest of the night thanks to the wonders of modern medicine. Now that I had chosen a how, all I needed was a reason. An impetus for my destruction.

The years have passed since that night and while I have the occasional bad day here and there I still don’t have a reason to do it.  I like to think about it the same as this guy:

I don’t fear death and/or suicide. Whenever I get low I look at it as a very far off option if things don’t get better. They always do so I’m not worried about it. For me a quote from Neil Hilborn illustrates it best, “I think a lot about killing myself, not like a point on a map, but rather like a glowing exit sign at a show that’s never been quite bad enough to make me want to leave.”

I see suicide as an option, especially if you’re terminally ill.  An option that not everyone agrees on, but it’s an option nonetheless.  Do I still wonder why people do it?  Yes and no.  Why they do it is still a mystery, a case by case basis, but I think I have an inkling.  They just feel hopeless, like there’s no escape, like this misery is going to be endless.  But I don’t wonder about it as much because I feel I’ve lived through the why.

Days of Iron, part 1

Destiny, part 10

So, Rise of Iron is finally here!  The last 5 days have been kind of a blur between work and marathon Destiny sessions and little sleep.  Now that I’m on vacation from work I have time to compose my thoughts on the new expansion.

On launch day, we all waited online anxiously for weekly reset to happen so we could get started on our journey to become Iron Lords.  2 minutes after weekly reset happens, BAM!, server crashes and no one is apparently able to get in.  At least not for the first 2 hours after the expansion had been released.  I was in party chat when they said that you could queue up to get in, so I stopped playing Peggle 2 and went back to Destiny.  Once I got it to load I was in the 100,000 mark to get logged in.  ‘Oh well’ I thought ‘glad I have the day off.’  After a while, the line started to go down and I made it to around the 60,000 mark before Charter decided to take a dump and I got booted offline completely.  After power cycling the modem, router and the PS4 I was able to get back in queue.  This time in the 200,000 range.  But this time around, the line went significantly faster and before I knew it I was in.

Before the game crashed, I was in the tower with my alternate Warlock picking up my pre-order goodies from the mail robot but decided to go in as my main Warlock since I figured he would be the most powerful to deal with what was to come.  I went back to the tower after an uncomfortably long loading screen (server lag is a bitch) I found that Eververse was selling new goodies, all the factions and the Vanguard were selling new gear and the new ships and sparrows could be found in their respective kiosks.  After admiring all the new toys, I went to orbit and decided to start my journey…alone.  I left the party chat and decided that if I was going to experience the new story, I would have to go it alone so I wouldn’t have to try to listen to what was being said over the party chat.

The opening mission to investigate the abandoned observatory was fun and began to fuel my incessant need to ask questions.  Why are we just now hearing about the SIVA threat?  How long HAS it been since the fall?  Questions, questions, questions and no answers in sight.

Over the course of about 8 hours or so, I managed to complete all the new single player missions.  They were fun, but I feel like it’s a little lack luster in comparison to The Taken King.  Maybe over the course of the year it will grow on me because at first there were things about The Taken King that I didn’t like either (like no sparrows on the Dreadnaught) so I’ll wait and pass judgement later.

One big noticeable difference between this expansion and previous ones is that right off the bat they give you the record book for your Moments of Triumph so you have something to work toward immediately.  I was not thrilled to find that there are more tiny collectibles – Dormant SIVA Fragments as opposed to Calcified Fragments – but at least this time around there are only 30 instead of 50 and you only need to find 15 to complete that entry in the book (which I’ve already done).

The book also has one whole section dedicated to the Crucible which I definitely wasn’t happy to see.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and those entries won’t be as difficult to complete as I think.  The section of the book devoted to the new raid – Wrath of the Machine – is locked until you actually get in the raid and start doing stuff.  I’m not yet high enough to do much damage in the new raid (which, just like The Taken King wasn’t released with the expansion right away) but with some perseverance I’ll get there.  It took a while before I got good at King’s Fall and now I can run it fairly well, so, it’s only a matter of time.

I’m pleased to see that entries in the book stack across all your characters (like for example, finding the same 5 SIVA Fragments on all 3 of my characters completed the requirement for that entry in the book) so that cuts a bit of my grinding down.  I’m going to have to grind for Legendary Marks so I can infuse the weapons and armor that I want to upgrade and keep from Year Two.  I’ve already infused everything on my main Warlock that I wanted to keep and have run out of Marks so it looks like my Titan and alt Warlock are out of luck for now.

So far I’m not happy that there’s really only ONE new Strike in the expansion (which of course was this week’s Nightfall and it’s hard as fuck.  I didn’t finish it) and that all the other Strikes in the SIVA playlist are, of course, rehashes from Year Two with higher light levels.  I’m not happy that it seems like there’s little in the way of Lore this time around, unless it’s coming down the pipe later in an update or something.  No scannable objects in the environments, and no a whole lot in the way of new dialogue either.  I’m also not happy that none of the Year Two quests auto completed like the Year One ones did, so I guess all those Crucible quests are going to go back to the Abandoned Quests kiosk once again.  I also don’t like the fact that Three of Coins is pretty much useless now since you need Skeleton Keys to open chests at the end of Strikes, and getting these keys is all up to RNG and whether or not it feels like being generous.

The new social space – Felwinter Peak – is very cool.  I like the view from the mountain top and the new Cryptarch is much nicer than the asshole at the Reef ever was.  The new patrol area on Earth – The Plaguelands – is densely packed with action and things to find (like those damn SIVA clusters) so I’m sure I’ll be spending most of Year Three here.  I didn’t like it at first because I thought it was a little confusing, but now I have it all mapped out in my head.  I’ve already completed the quests for the new Gjallarhorn and for the Khvostov exotics and I’m hoping that if there are more exotic weapon quests, they’re just as easy to complete (and don’t require going into the Crucible).

So far Year Three is off to a promising (if a bit lacking) start.  Hopefully there are more surprises in store in the coming year.

Relationships, part 12


I’m going to go on. I’m going to go on living to spite you. To spite myself. I’ll never forget what we had. How could I? You have me several firsts. Several intimate moments. Special dirty things that we used to do together. Sorry our ending was what it was, but I feel that’s what you wanted. I will go on living, go on loving, I will go on this journey alone if that’s what I must do, but I will go on regardless. I will go on regardless of the fact that part of me is missing, that I am damaged. Hopefully my next love can see past that and help me put the pieces back together, the way I tried to help you.