‘Tis the Season…

The past few Christmases, I’ve had no income. I was laid off from a job and was barely affording food and such. It always devastated me because I like to give during the holidays. I’m a bit of a giver by nature, and it just always felt good to make someone else’s Christmas a little brighter in whatever way I could.

Lacking that ability is draining for me. There are people that I wanted to give a gift to so badly, but I just couldn’t and it would tear me apart. Those same people would buy me things and I’d be very appreciative. It brightened my spirits just a little bit. Enough to not feel like a total loser. but then I’d remember that I couldn’t return the favor and I’d fall into that mental pit again. It has been the case far too often for the past 6 years.

This year, I have been working, but the job doesn’t feel as secure as I’d like. That aside, I have money and I’m giving. I promised myself that I would if I had the ability to – which I do – so I am. It make me wince a little when I see the bank balance drop into the depths of Hell, but when I hear the appreciative words of my friends, it makes it all money well spent.

Even that has its ups and downs, though. There are some people that I feel a need to buy for out of obligation, and that kinda annoys me. But I try not to let it get me too upset. Things could be a whole lot worse.

This year, I’ve done some great shopping. I decided to buy some special friends a few gifts that I know they’ll love, and I’m quite proud of my ability to find thoughtful items on one day’s efforts. The rest of my buying as of this writing is basically gift cards, so I’m all set. The whole process of giving has made me feel less shitty.

But I also feel a bit empty. Giving to wonderful friends is great, but I feel like it would all be that much better if I had someone special in my life to share the festivities with. A lot of single people get all pissy and crybaby when Valentine’s Day rolls around, but for me, it’s Christmas that makes being alone harder to deal with.

Of my group of friends locally, I’m one of the rare single people, and it can be difficult hanging around a bunch of couples and realizing that they get to go home and have that person alongside them to talk with and just wind down from gatherings or share moments or whatever the case may be. On my end of things, I return to my bootcave and fire up youtube or the Xbox/PS3 or get wrapped up in Twitter. There’s no snuggling on the couch while watching TV or cuddling in bed at the end of the night… just myself and my mind left to ponder how things are.

As trying as that can get, I still have to say that I enjoy the holiday season whenever it rolls around. It’s a mostly good time, and I have nothing against the traditions of Christmas. I also know that there are people out there who just complain about it to no end, and I wonder if they know what it’s like to feel genuinely happy. Is Christmas perfect? No, but that’s not because the holiday is flawed. It’s because people can make it shitty for others. Because people are – on the grand scheme of things – idiots. Whether it’s competing with others or themselves about the gifts they give, or giving grief to other parents about how they handle what Christmas is for their kids, or even just downright being a Grumpy McGrumperton in general, the masses just know how to fuck it up for a lot of people. The trick is to just appreciate the things you can do to bring a little joy to the world. Should that be done on every day BESIDES Christmas or other holidays? Of course it should, but that doesn’t mean that celebrating on a certain date cheapens anything. The gestures should remain heartfelt and be received as such. If you can manage to let yourself be uplifted by the Christmas cheer, you should be fine. And if you absolutely just can’t stand the holidays, then that’s okay… but don’t be that assdrip that has to go around shitting all over it in the hopes of killing other people’s fun. That’s just plain selfish.

Anyway, I’m done ranting/whining. I’m just happy that I was able to celebrate this time and not hate myself. Whatever the near future holds, at least I can look back at Christmas 2013 and know that I put smiles on faces. It’s a good thing.

May your holidays be joyous and heartwarming and full of tasty burritos. Merry Christmas to all of you.


My Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a celebration of the things we’re thankful for. As a somewhat heavy participant in social media – namely, Twitter – it often feels like people love to take this opportunity to be thankful for a chance to make snarky comments about how the world is or how much they hate the holidays. Heaven forbid that they might want to feel some joy.

I suppose it’s their right to be that way. Hell, I know I have some reason to fall into the same trappings, but I’m not really like that. I like to smile and focus on good things and I feel very thankful for a lot, so I’m just gonna sit here and list a few off. This isn’t everything, and some stuff is gonna get passed over. These are just some of the important ones in my head.

Family – Obviously, they’re always there for any of us. Sure, some of them can be a little hotheaded, but that’s in every family. When we have to, we band together. Zunigas don’t fuck around.

Music – I’m often too busy doing things that don’t allow me to listen to much these days and I get withdrawals. It calms me. I often wonder if it’s due to its sense of structure or its complexity or both. Whatever it is, I like it and it’ll always be important to me. Special thanks to my late uncle Paul (RIP) for exposing me to it so young and letting me monkey around on his keyboard.

Gaming – The only hobby aside from music that’s been present in my entire life. It can be an escape one day or an inspiration the next.

Hockey – I love this sport. It’s been too long since I last played regularly, but now that late Fall is upon us, it’s time to get back to the office and embarrass fools.


My Health – While I haven’t been as on top of it as I once was, I’m still in far better shape than I was at my lowest point. I’m thankful that I know I can achieve that goal if I dedicate to it. I just need to find that willpower again.

Podcasting – I’ve been involved with the BlankShowCast for a year-and-a-half now, and I still enjoy it immensely. It’s probably been my main source of creativity in that time, and it certainly satiates that desire within me. As long as I can keep doing it, I’ll be pretty happy. I’m even looking to expand into a network of sorts, but that’s for another time…

Twitter – Words cannot properly explain the effect it has had on my life. I’ve made many a friend there and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes people in my personal life give me shit for being on it too much, but I don’t care. It’s what I like, it’s what I choose to be a part of. I’ve made some great bonds with great people because of it, and I’m grateful for all of it.

Speaking of which, I owe some fine people a special acknowledgment:

Tim, Isabel and Holly – My original partners in podcast crime. Tim and I basically started the BlankShowCast during a game of Portal 2. Izzy later played along with me as well and has been a good jolt for the show, especially when she comes with questions for Tim and I. Holly was only with us for a short time but her contributions were always appreciated and, more importantly, is still one of the best people I know. If only she’d played Portal 2 with us, we might be a 4-person show. Oh well, maybe at some point we can convince her to return for an appearance in the future.

The Original Triumphant Trio

Unfortunately, none of us have met in person, but that’s something I hope will change soon.

Natalie – When I offered to write sporadically on her DojoRetro blog, I was unaware of what it would actually be turning into as time passed. Now it’s becoming a full-fledged website. What’s even more shocking is that even while doing seemingly very little (in my eyes), she’s put a lot of faith in my extremely limited ability and knowledge. The main thing, however, is that she’s made me realize that I still love gaming as a whole and helped me shake a jaded feeling I’d recently developed toward the industry and its coverage. It’s a hobby of fun and I want it to stay that way, and I think that’s our ultimate goal. As long as it continues to be enjoyable, I’m in. I couldn’t thank her enough.

Ellie” D – My twitter bestie and one of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever met. She’s always willing to listen when I have to gripe and is never without words of encouragement. We’ve both helped each other through some rough times and I’ll always respect her for her kindness. Another one I need to meet, someday. We have a production company to start, after all. %

BlankShowCast Guests – Before it was a three person operation, we often had outside people join us to help keep it fun. For that we thank the following people immensely: Aenne Schumann, Nate Hales, Sam Alegria, “Retro” Chris Carboni, Melissa Kay, Jared Larson, Marc Lynch, Cyrus “Fozzy” Fayazi, Sarah Strickler, Brendan van der Vlist, Brian Eskelson, Jason Ericsson, Brittney Brombacher, William Milby, and the reigning champion with 4 appearances, Stephanie Gutowski. Thank you all for helping us not be as boring as we would’ve been without you.

Various Podcast Special Guests – I’ve been lucky enough to have been granted a few serious interviews, all of which were exciting and super fun to do. For this, I’d like to extend serious thanks to voice actor Courtenay TaylorMeg Turney from SourceFed, Emily Reese from Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s Top Score Podcast, and Tara Theoharis from the webseries Job Hunters. It was an honor for you all to join us and give insight into your worlds. Also, Kristina Horner for the musical number.

My Bro and Our Friends – I seem to see these guys less and less as time goes on, but if not for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. There’s not much else to say, really. They mean the world to me and they know it. I hope they do, anyway.

I think that pretty much covers all of the bases. I know a lot of people are about to get stupid cranky about Christmas and all that, but I like happy. I’d rather enjoy the positive reflection that the holidays bring rather than focus on which part of the family I don’t like or how much of a hassle holiday travel and shopping is. We go through that out of duty, out of respect, and even out of love. The world could use more of that. I say we all put some out there.

-Happy Holidays, everyone!