Archives for posts with tag: experiences

I was playing Alter Ego last night during an unintentionally extended break from studying. It’s a text-based RPG (role-playing game), somewhat similar to those Choose-Your-Adventure books, where they tell you to turn to page X if you want to do this, turn to page Y if you want to do that, except you’re not playing a predetermined character by the author. You’re playing yourself.

Instead of earning gold to buy swords which can hack up a Level 150 monster, Alter Ego takes you through the various stages of normal, unspectacular, human life — infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, etc. — and in each stage, you have a wide, wide range of possible choices, and your decisions will ultimately impact your future. In this way, the game achieves its goal to provide a place to imagine what your life would be like if only you did X or were more like Y.

The one qualm I have about Alter Ego is that they just don’t allow you enough turns per stage. This means that you don’t get to experience all the possible scenarios of each stage per run of the game, and I feel that’s just not enough to complete what you’re supposed to complete in each stage of life. For example, I was finally able to get through all the “college experiences” I needed to graduate…by the time I was in the OLD ADULTHOOD stage. >.> Would I even need a college degree by that point?

That the number of turns is limited is probably why the game is so short. I did not want to die yet (“there’s still so much I haven’t done!”), but there was no other choice: My time was up. They congratulated me on my death. I closed the browser window with the feeling that life is really transient. Did I not just run through a person’s entire life in a couple of hours? I was born, I grew up, I grew old, I died. Everything passes…so quickly. And it makes you think how fast real life passes you by too; in my case, I’m almost finished with another year of university! How can that be possible? I haven’t done that much yet!

Reflections aside, Alter Ego is a refreshing take on a fantasy-dominated game genre. Sure, there’s no images, but a game that is so personal in nature would not work with petty graphic representations. Try it — I’m sure you’ll like it. See what your life could turn out like if you make the same choices as you do in reality now, or become the exact opposite of who you are now…and see if your life turns out better (or worse). Perhaps you’ll walk away with some interesting reflections on life that may help you in reality.

On Thursday, I lived a day as a dog owner.

Well, less than a day. And it wasn’t a complete experience — I didn’t have to wash him, feed him, or brush him — but still, I had a feel for what taking care of a dog was like.

My friend recently adopted a small dog, and she invited me out with her to walk her dog, Teddy. At first, I was a bit nervous about this, as I was slightly scared of dogs in general due to all those stories of them attacking people. Also, I’ve never had any friends who owned dogs until now, so I was unsure of how I should interact with dogs.

Thankfully, Teddy was very friendly. He excitedly licked me as soon as he saw me (I really had to make an effort to keep my face away from him), and was totally content in letting me walk him… Well, totally content in being able to walk me. I let Teddy set the pace for the walk, so I was walking behind him as he happily skipped ahead. I actually had to feel sorry towards my friend, who was walking behind us (she had to carry his water and food, so it wasn’t quite her fault for falling behind). But, thankfully, Teddy was conscious enough to turn around and check if my friend was still there, slowing down when necessary to wait for her to catch up. It was heartwarming to see that such a bond had already formed between them in the course of two weeks.

I came to the conclusion that dogwalking would be a satisfying and enjoyable workout (at least with Teddy, as he’s a ball of energy), if not for a few things:

  1. Teddy stops every ten minutes to make his mark (i.e. pee) somewhere. While I understand that this is a natural thing for him to do, it’s not particularly suitable for a good aerobic workout: I want to keep walking! Thankfully, the entire process doesn’t take too long.
  2. Teddy hates squirrels. At the mere sight of one, he barks and will probably try to climb up a tree to chase it. You have to coax and drag him away, or else you might as well be standing there for the next hour. I’m sure not all dogs are anti-squirrel though, so this wouldn’t be a factor with other dogs.
  3. Meeting other dog owners is a tricky business. It’s okay if the dogs are just interested in sniffing each other before going their separate ways, but sadly, a meeting can become quite aggresive. By the end of the walk, I found that I became apprehensive whenever we were approaching another dog, because who knows what kind of reactions we’ll have to deal with?

But those things aside, I wouldn’t mind walking Teddy again at all.

During my two hours as a “dog owner”, I also received a crash course in dog ownership when my friend got into a conversation with another dog owner we met at a park. Granted, it wasn’t terribly exciting dialogue, but the encounter was certainly entertaining, as their dogs were weaving around our legs, alternatively sniffing and avoiding each other.

As much as I wanted to keep playing with Teddy, I was glad that I actually wasn’t his owner. I found out — from walking him, watching my friend care for him, and the “crash course” — that dogs require a lot of attention and work to care for, especially since you’ll inevitably develop a tendency to spoil them.

But hey, I totally wouldn’t mind being a part-time dog walker. I think that would be awesomely fun.

Heart pumping, measured breaths, sweat dripping down my face, feet hitting the ground in rhythm…

It felt great to be running again. So good.

Last week, I stopped running completely, because my nose was doing the running for me — it dripped all day, forcing me to rub it a raw pink with tissue paper. My eyes also itched. My breathing felt constricted. I even felt feverish at one point. So I didn’t run at all.

I was afraid, today, of whether I would still be able to run well. Muscles will deteriorate over time if not used. And while I didn’t run as much as I used to (mainly because I told myself that I needed time to build up to where I was one week ago), I was still able to comfortably cover half the distance I usually do. And that was enough to lift my spirits for the day.

G1: Achieved.
(I say it simply, but honestly, the process of getting it done was beyond horrid. I stood in line for nearly three hours to get my documents checked and waited another 45 minutes to get my vision tested. A combined total of ten minutes was spent waiting for my turn to write the test, and for them to mark my test. So, basically, of the four hours I spent at the DriveTest, only 20 minutes of it actually involved me doing something other than staring blankly at the walls. I’m just glad it’s done with.)

Able to drive: Uh… Well…

I annoyed my dad until he took me out to an empty parking lot to practice this evening. I wanted to start immediately, not only because I was giddy from having finally gotten a license, but because I don’t have much time left before school starts and essays start piling in again.

And let’s just say, after today, I have a real appreciation for anyone who can drive on downtown roads without bumping into anything. Actually, I have a real appreciation for anyone who can drive. Period.*

First, I could not believe how sensitive the gas pedal was. A small touch, and the car went lurching off as though drunk. And yet, if you don’t touch the pedal, the car can’t move. So, my driving was marked by random bursts and periods of slow drifting — probably a pretty laughable sight to the other person driving around the parking lot — practicing their perfect angled parking. >.> What a way to make a girl feel good.

Second, I always turned the wheel too much. A small movement is enough to make the car do a 90 degree turn, but I didn’t figure this out until my last lap around the lot (even though my dad had continually told me that throughout the whole lesson). So this, in addition to my over-steering, forgetting to brake before turning (I figured this out after maybe ten minutes, thankfully — otherwise, I might have actually crashed into something today!), and not letting the wheel recover meant that turning was a pretty scary business. Particularly scary was when I attempted a turn too late, and nearly turned into the curb! O.O Goodness. My dad took that opportunity to teach me how to reverse…which brings me to the third point:

Third, I cannot turn and reverse. (Yet.) My dad decided to finish off the lesson by getting me to reverse park a car. And while reversing straight is fine for me, reversing and turning right into a parking space is a total epic fail. The car went in at an embarassing angle. The front wheels weren’t straight. The only good thing about my parking was that I succeeded at not backing up into the hill behind us.

After that, I was done. And tired. I left the driver’s seat, a bit relieved that I somehow survived my first time controlling a metal box that can potentially kill, and climbed back into the comfort of the front passenger seat. It wasn’t until when my dad pressed on the gas pedal again and the car lightly jumped ahead to take us home that I realized how sensitized I had become to the car’s movement in one and a half hours — my heart leapt half a mile when my body told me, “The car. Is lurching. AGAIN! It’s your fault! Make this box stop!”

Oh my. I’m hoping things will go more smoothly the next time I go driving.

*Okay, technically, I know driving isn’t that hard, and that eventually I’ll be able to drive just as well as all these drivers I’m praising right now. But for someone who has only been behind the wheel for 1.5 hours, driving seems more difficult than writing a math exam…almost.

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