Riot Games at PAX East: A Riftwalk review

Let me preface this by saying I am the n00biest n00b to ever play League of Legends. I’ve been trying not to get into it for years, partly because people I greatly dislike play the game, and partly out of laziness. I have a bit of an addictive personality, so once I find a game I enjoy I will play that game incessantly. I can tell right now that League is going to be no exception. If you care to add me, my summoner name is KatMaestrale. Once I get a better handle on things, lets play together! I currently main as Lux.

This weekend I attended PAX East, and one of the first things that caught my eye was the League of Legends Riftwalk. The line was enormous, even before 10 am on the first day of the convention, so naturally I had to see what it was for myself. On Saturday morning, I got in line as soon as the horror in media panel with Chris Straub was over and made a beeline for the Riot Games section of the convention center. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in for a two hour wait for the experience. Luckily, Riot Games planned ahead and created the Minimap app, an app that allowed you to complete a “quest” while in line for a chance to win some swag, as well something to sync with the wristband needed to experience the Riftwalk. I did not end up winning any swag from the app, but I did make a few new friends to play League with, and I met some wonderful people in line. If there’s one impression this left on me this weekend, it’s that gamers can often be some of the nicest people out there. I think we as a culture get too hung up on trolls and forget there’s dozens of really kind and cool people out there.

After my two hour wait, I finally got into the Riftwalk. It was a beautiful and atmospheric interactive art exhibit showcasing the growth of LoL over the years, including some really cool artwork you could “take home” with the aid of your wristband. There were also a few photo ops which were super cool and really fun to do. It explains why the wait for Riftwalk is so long as well. For the first photo, you had the chance to choose between a few different weapons. I chose Fishbones and held that heavy son-of-a-gun with pride. Unfortunately for me, this picture, the one I wanted the most, didn’t show up on my Minimap app, nor in my email as promised. Naturally, I took to the twittersphere to complain, and I was greeted warmly by Rioter Janelle Jiminez. She pointed me in the direction of the Riot info desk, who graciously allowed me to have a second shot at getting my coveted picture without having to wait in another 2 hour line. Unfortunately, the pictures STILL didn’t make it my way, but I did get another chance to walk around the Riftwalk. It was a different experience since the giant Thresh puppet wasn’t there at the time I was readmitted, but still a really good time. I felt really lucky to get to have another go at the fun photo ops.  Thank you again to the Rioters for being so accommodating and pleasant.

And for those of you Pinny Arcade collectors out there, I got an exclusive Teemo pin for my troubles. It’s adorable, and easily my favorite pin because I earned it, goddamn it! And now, for your nerdy pleasure, here are some pictures of my journey through the Riftwalk!

Thresh came for my soul that day.

All my love,

Katherine Wheel

Updates and the like

Sorry for my blogging hiatus; it was unexpected and entirely unpleasant, and that’s all I care to share about it.Good things seem to be on the horizon though! I’m finally getting trained to work the service desk at my job, which I’m told will be less stressful than supervising checkout. I’m a little worried because I am terrible at dealing with high stress customers, but I’m hoping that with a few days of training I’ll be good to go. I just need to learn how to do Moneygram and lottery sales, which is not anything overly strenuous. And I’m being trained by this really sweet old lady who works the desk every morning and is an expert at it, so bonus!

But I’ve gotta tell you, being an adult is really exhausting. I’ve decided to stop being a lazy fuck and actually come in early when I’m needed. It’s not like when I was just a regular cashier and they could call any number of kids anymore; I keep the front end operational when a manager can’t be there. Even if I feel overworked sometimes, the bottom line is I’m not typically working more than 25 hours a week. That’s chump change compared to what my brother works, and what any full-timer works. My shifts aren’t even usually longer than six and a half hours, which is pretty fair. It’s six and a half hours of running across the checkout, helping my cashiers with difficult customers and day to day mishaps. As irritating as it can be, and as sore as my feet are after a shift, I’m glad I work where I do. I figure now that I’m getting experience as a higher-up, I have more opportunities for better jobs further along the line. All I know is that I’m glad this is my stepping stone job and not some hellhole like Market Basket.

In other life updates, I’m planning on being a defiant child and finally getting my first tattoo.  The plan is to get the words, “In Venere Veritas”in a very clean, classic font on my left forearm, right below my elbow crease. If I can handle getting something that small, I’m planning on getting a few more tattoos that are more visually intricate. I’d need to collaborate with a really skilled artist for that though, and that will be EXPENSIVE. I hate thinking about money, and how in a few months when I don’t return to grad school I’m going to have to pay my student loans. I would prefer to do ANYTHING but pay my student loan right now. I can barely maintain living at my parents house with the money I currently make; I can’t imagine giving Uncle Sam a couple hundred dollars a month on top of that.
Does anyone else look at their bank statements and weep?

All my love,
Katherine Wheel

REVIEW:Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Today I’m going to debut a new segment to the blog: reviews! I’m going to be tagging these posts as “Kat Thoughts” for your convenience (and so you can skip them if you’re not into reviews). Be forewarned that there will be some spoilers below the cut. -KW

Continue reading “REVIEW:Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

The art of the mix CD

Not to brag, but I am an expert at crafting mixes for my friends and loved ones. If you ask me to make you a playlist or burn you a CD, I will dedicate an entire afternoon to painstakingly selecting the tracks and assigning them an order. If I’m burning a CD, I also make sure to decorate the jewel case with a track listing and sometimes even album art if I have lots of time on my hands.

If that sounds excessive to you, you have a few things to learn about making mixes. Let me fill you in on my tried and true technique to make a playlist your friend will love!

The first thing to consider when you’re making a mix for someone is their taste in music. It might be tempting to put together a mix with all of your favorite songs on it, but it’s a bit of a waste if you’re more into indie folk music and your friend prefers synth pop. To be safe, I usually ask my friends what vibe they have in mind for the playlist. For example, I introduced my boyfriend to the Cure and Depeche Mode, and he was looking for a mix with more of their style music. So what did I start the playlist off with? Depeche Mode and the Cure (duh).

Once you have a solid foundation for the playlist, it’s time to branch out into things you think your friend will also enjoy. This is usually the part where I swim in a sea of panic. What if you pick that one song they associate with their sleazy ex, Brad? What if your choice is just entirely off base? I waste a lot of time worrying about these things when I’m picking out tracks. But at the end of the day, it’s just a collection of songs you put together for someone you care about. Even if it isn’t 100 percent what they had in mind, it’s something you’ve crafted with love and dedication. If they don’t appreciate it, take your mad mix-making skills elsewhere!

Here comes the most important part: ordering the tracks! I don’t think there’s really a wrong way to go about this, but I have a few tips for making the playlist flow as smoothly as possible. I like to sandwich the songs I know my friend will like around the ones I’m taking a guess on. From there, I try and fit my selections after songs that have similar lyrical content or sounds. For instance, let’s say I had put “Leave a Trace” by CHVRCHES as my first track. I would follow that up with something else with a wintry synth sound, maybe “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs or “Not In Love” by Crystal Castles. Again, this is just my way of going about things, and I don’t know if it really makes sense written out.
At any rate, now you have all my tips, tricks, and suggestions for crafting a playlist your friends and loved ones are guaranteed to enjoy! I have a 100 percent success rate after all ;).

As an added treat, here’s a playlist of some of my favorite tracks. Enjoy!

All my love,

Katherine Wheel

Bumbling through body image

ATTENTION READERS: This post includes references to disordered eating (binge and starvation). Continue at your discretion- KW.

I still remember the first time I looked at myself, pinched my belly, and proclaimed, “I want to get rid of my fat”. How I came to this conclusion, I’m not quite sure. Maybe it’s because I don’t remember a time when my stomach was completely flat, or maybe it’s because I knew women were supposed to be unhappy with their bodies. But the bottom line was, I felt fat. I was six years old.

A photograph of me around that time.

“It’s just baby fat, honey. It will go away when you get older,” said the YMCA staffer I had shared my discovery with. Her heart was in the right place, but it didn’t get to the heart of the problem: I was afraid of being “fat”. At an age where everyone was telling me I had infinite potential and could be anything I set my mind upon, the strongest message I got was that I never, ever wanted to be fat. I hated the way my thighs splayed out like pancakes when I sat on the edge of a pool, and the way my stomach rolled together like a torpedo roll. I wanted to be thinner and prettier and fit into that perfect package deal of a girl that I never could quite figure out.

Fast forward to my freshman year of high school. I was one of the unfortunate students who was scheduled for the last lunch period, meaning I was making it through almost three-fourths of the school day without having a chance to eat. I was voraciously hungry by the time lunch rolled around and I  hated the gnawing feeling in my gut. That’s when I started taking the time to have “breakfast”. I would drink a chocolate meal-replacement shake on my way to school so that I wouldn’t be dying of hunger during my math class. There were some not-so-nice side effects to the shake, namely intense nausea and cramping for roughly twenty minutes in the middle of the day, but once I powered through that I was no longer hungry. After a few weeks of this, I stopped buying lunch. My stomach shrank and soon I was unable to finish my dinner because I was so full. But that godforsaken chubby stomach didn’t go away. Add onto this the development of wider hips that comes with puberty and I felt huge. Even though I was barely bigger than a size seven in juniors, I felt massive. I purchased a pair of size eleven pants because they “fit”.

An elusive full-body shot of me at fourteen.

I didn’t realize anything was wrong until people started expressing concern. I felt fine; I wasn’t hungry, and I sure wasn’t a skeleton. I thought you had to look emaciated to others and gigantic in the mirror to experience disordered eating. Maybe it’s that way for some people, but my experience was far more insidious. Nothing seemed wrong on the surface unless you were there to watch me (not) eat. Truth be told, I probably would have kept it up indefinitely if not for my school chorus’ trip to Disney World. I needed to be well-nourished and hydrated to be out and about in the parks all day; the issue was that we were handed some money and told to spend it on our lunch each day.  Naturally, a fourteen year old at a theme park isn’t going to want to waste perfectly good money on food, especially if she doesn’t feel hungry. So I let myself get fatigued and irritable until finally I ran into my mom (a chaperone on the trip and a fellow Disney addict) and she got me a frozen chocolate dipped banana to eat. All it took was one banana and suddenly I realized how hungry I had really been for months. I was eating full meals again.

I had some issues with binging for a a few months after that trip, but there was not a tremendous amount of weight gain to go along with it so I don’t think anyone ever knew there was a problem. A package of twelve breakfast sandwiches would disappear in one sitting and as guilty as it made me feel, I didn’t stop. The food was warm and it left me feeling pleasantly full. I started to get things more under control after the initial shock to my body of actually eating had subsided. I substituted tea for excessive snacks because it gave me the same feeling without being an unhealthy choice. And that was more or less the end of my disordered eating.

Summer of my freshman year of college.


Fall of my senior year of college.

In college, I experienced a lot of weight fluctuation, but with it came a lot of acceptance about the body type that I was born with. I started out with terrible eating habits and a very inactive lifestyle and pushed myself towards more balanced meal choices and regular exercise. What happened surprised me: I started seeing how beautiful my body has always been. No matter how active or inactive I’ve been, I have had my soft, round tummy and my chunky cellulite thighs. I’ve also had a slender waist this whole time, and a really cute nose, thanks for noticing. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s version of healthy is different. I know these words don’t mean much coming from someone who has never been actively berated for her size, but I truly believe that all bodies are beautiful just as God made them. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

All my love,
Katherine Wheel

The writer is blocked.

Anyone who says writers have an easy job has clearly never tried to write something substantial or of quality. Writing is sitting in the same spot for three or four or five hours, only pausing for bathroom breaks. Writing is typing out sentence after sentence only to delete them all and start over again. Writing is a jousting match with that little voice in your head that says, “You’re terrible at this. Give up already!”. But don’t get me wrong, writing is 100 percent worth the struggle. On a good day with a clear mind, it’s the truest form of expression there is.

Full disclosure: when I decided to major in writing, I thought it would be easy. I was accepted to my dream school but not my dream major, so I had to settle on something else. Writing was the natural choice; I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil. Dreaming up new worlds and bringing them to life on the page was my favorite pastime. For this reason, I loved when we had opportunities to write fiction in English class throughout the years. I even took a creative writing course in high school where I explored poetry as a serious medium for the first time. With all of this in mind, I had never seriously committed myself to the craft. I was a stronger writer than many of my fellow classmates, so it never seemed necessary.

And then my first collegiate writer’s block came.  With assignments due every two to four weeks piling up, I was running out of ideas and running out of steam. Panic set in and it felt like I would never be able to get things done. I talked to anyone who would listen, searching for writing prompts, ideas to explore, and characters to play with. I delved into my craft, taking older ideas and reworking them using new techniques. I fought through those creative blockages because there was no other option. “I had writer’s block” isn’t going to get you an extension on a ten page story.

So why does writer’s block feel like such an insurmountable challenge now? It’s true that there are no serious consequences to me throwing in the towel and quitting this website before it’s really begun. I’m debating installing one of those writing apps that blocks all other programs on your computer as a way to force myself to focus. Barring that, I might just have to go back to basics and write things out by hand. I’ve always focused better that way. Regardless, I’m not giving up on this.

All my love,

Katherine Wheel

Lowering expectations

Here’s something I’m getting really tired of hearing in my post-grad life: “lower your expectations about your first job”.  Honestly, I don’t think I have sky-high expectations; feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. I  think that having completed my Bachelors I should be able to at least secure a job as an administrative assistant or something of that ilk with regular hours and pay that is a little more than a dollar above minimum wage (in Massachusetts, its $10/hr).

Currently, I make $10.25 an hour as a customer service representative at the local supermarket. I know many people might be grumbling about how lucky I am to be employed at all, which I don’t deny. Money is a necessary evil in our capitalist society. I just know that I deserve better than what I am currently getting out of my employment. Unless I sell my life to the company in the hopes of securing a full-time job, I can never get insurance through my job. While this isn’t an immediate issue, I really need to find a job with benefits before I turn twenty-six and am required to get my own insurance.

Here’s the problem: I am evidently under-qualified for nearly all of the entry-level jobs available in my area. Many of these jobs require between one and three years of relevant work experience (which I don’t have) or a valid MA driver’s license (which I am in the process of finally getting). It really sets me off that employers think that “entry-level” jobs are reserved for people who are in fact seasoned in a field of work. Where am I expected to get this job experience? As I’ve previously griped about, I didn’t take advantage of networking opportunities in school so I don’t have any professional contacts, and I don’t come from a family who is well-connected. I am lucky enough to come from a family who can afford to house and feed me until I can secure a job that I can actually support myself on. If things are this hard for me, I can’t imagine how much harder it is for people who don’t have my privileges.

Should  comfortable employment be contingent on the circumstances of your birth? Absolutely not, but that is the story of our society. And I am not going to take this lying down.

All my love,

Katherine Wheel