Life Update #11: All Xbox, All the Time

Hey, everyone!

So while I’ve been writing, outlining, typing, and scheduling blog posts in advance, I realized today I completely forgot to let you guys know that the amazing, the impossible, the miraculous has happened.

I got myself an Xbox Series X.

For those of you not in the know, it has been abominably difficult to get your hands on the newest generation of game consoles this time around, be it a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X. These babies launched last year, and I just now got my hands on one. Scalpers are running rampant, and it’s actually a serious issue. But thanks to some amazing friends who ensure I stay in the know, I was able to jump on my local Best Buy’s latest shipment when they went on sale and nab one.

And I have been obsessed with playing with it.

Honestly, it’s nothing too too special. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, make no mistake. But it doesn’t offer me much that was different from my Xbox One S.

However, its newness has just enamored me. When I first got it, I shamefully ditched my D&D group twice just so I could spend long hours playing a game. I marvel at the almost nonexistent load times. I gasp at how well some of the games look (though my TV could probably use an upgrade as well).

And may I just say that Xbox Game Pass is an utter delight? I wasn’t sure how I would feel using a Netflix-like service for my video games, but not a day has gone by that I don’t make full use of it. I’m playing new games left and right. I’m dabbling in genres I might not have tried out otherwise. The power of the Series X coupled with the myriad of games thanks to my Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription has made my time indoors chock-full of adventure.

Plus, the mini-fridge look just suits my gaming shelf perfectly.

Life Update #10: The Power of the Sippy Cup

Lately, I’ve faced a quandary.

I have been trying to increase my water intake, which means I always keep a cup of water by my side when I work.

However, my entire career is basically housed in this computer. If I were to accidentally spill water on this baby, I would be in big doo-doo. So keeping a mug of water on hand dances with danger.

I’ve dabbled with plastic water bottles. They come complete with cap, and I can take a quick swig without worrying about sloshing water all over the place. The downside is that you can only reuse them so many times before they start to stink, and they are rather wasteful when it comes to the environment.

So then I tried using a reusable metal water bottle. I could wash it and use it as many times as I wanted. Problem solved, right?

No!

See, in order to be able to properly wash these water containers so they don’t smell to high heavens, the neck and mouth of the bottle have to be wide enough to stick my scrubber brush down when I clean it. And if the neck of the bottle is too wide, I run into the same problem as when I was using glasses and mugs. I can’t recklessly swig down water without fearing for the dryness of my shirt and my keyboard.

What’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what.

You get a sippy cup.

My tias (my aunts) gifted me a blue sippy cup, and it is the answer to my water-drinking prayers. It is a metal cup with a plastic lid that has a small opening. It can keep chilled drinks super cool, and it solves the issue of improper water output.

It has seriously changed my life, transformed the way I drink water.

I like it so much, and professed my liking so much, that my mom even gave me the one she got from my tias, which is why I have a blue and a pink sippy cup.

Honestly, this isn’t a very big life update to be called a Life Update. In fact, calling it a Life Update seems laughable in retrospect.

But I’m drinking a lot more water, which is an essential element to living life, so that counts for something. Right?

Life Update #9: The Arrival of Harvey

It’s been a long time (a really long time) since I wrote a Life Update post. If I’m being honest with you, I actually kind of forgot about them.

Why?

Well, a pandemic happened, and it’s like my life just stopped updating.

However, I’m here to let you know about the next chapter in a perhaps forgotten saga.

Long-time followers of the blog will recall that I made friends with a daddy long-legs that lived in my bookcase. I named him Hardcore Henry, and he ended up dying a sad death. However, he had successors, so my bookcase was never unoccupied.

This particular update is to let you know about a new acquaintance I made about a week ago.

Get yourselves ready, folks. You’re about to meet Harvey.

The boyfriend and I were sleeping in bed. It was around 6 or 7 in the morning. We were nestled in a bunch of blankets, the majority of which I was admittedly hogging. The weight of the blankets and the proximity of the boyfriend was making me almost uncomfortably warm. He did not seem to notice or care, but my raised body temperature woke me up.

I shifted around, in a state between wakefulness and sleep, possessing moderate awareness that maybe I should remove a blanket or two. As I thought this, the heater turned on, and I slid into a sharper state of being awake based purely on my growing irritation at what would be an inevitable increase in warmth thanks to the ill-timed heater.

That’s when I heard a metallic skittering far above my head, right where the air conditioning vent was on my bedroom wall. Before I could even consider that this noise might mean something was wrong with the heater, something smacked into the side of my head. I jolted awake, the innate panic of an unknown being near my face dispelling any sleepiness I had.

At first, I thought the heater had just blown out some strange gunk from the vent, and that was what had shot onto my hair. But as my fingers probed through the tangle of my bedhead, and I touched something hard and brittle, I realized that was not the case.

Especially after whatever it was moved.

In disgusted alarm, I started to swat at my hair in quick flicking motions. And that’s when the cockroach that had fallen on my head got swiped off, plopping right onto the blanket covering my boyfriend’s chest.

Side note: The boyfriend sometimes sleeps on his back. He’s really talented this way, and I’ve been a bit jealous of this ability he possesses. However, after these events, I’m not so envious. I mean, if I had been sleeping on my back during this moment, that cockroach could have landed right between my eyes. Or worse…in my mouth.

“Danny, cockroach.”

That’s all I uttered in a short, raised tone of voice. He was instantly awake, but by that time, I had already grabbed the blanket and swept it off our bodies. Our huge pile of blankets rested on the floor, and we spent a few shocked moments staring at them.

Inaction was never an option, so I retrieved a shoe for my boyfriend, he positioned himself by the blankets, and I readied my nerves for shaking out each one individually.

Of course, the cockroach was equally ready for us, and as soon as it fell from the sheets, it scuttled under my dresser more quickly than lightning strikes a rod.

During the days after this event, as I planned to write about it for my next blog post, I imagined describing to all of you what it was like living with a cockroach somewhere in your bedroom, a mysterious and rude guest you never wanted. I told myself I would name him Harvey, and I delighted myself with coming up with ambiguous endings for his story.

I even had a Hardcore Henry versus Harvey comparison post in the works.

But shortly before the boyfriend left to go back home, Harvey made one final appearance near Danny’s suitcase. Subsequently, Harvey was murdered, courtesy of my Converse and Danny’s quick reflexes.

So that’s the end of Harvey, but before I go, I just want to assure you Above Average readers that I live in a very clean house. I have no idea what Harvey thought he was doing coming into it the way he did. I also want you all to know that I will forever keep you updated on any more visitors that make their way into my life. I don’t know if that’s what my Life Updates will be from now on or not.

But given the way life is currently going, Harvey actually felt like a weird highlight.

Life Update #8: Plans for the Blog Going Forward and Damn News

It’s been one heck of a month for me, guys. Not that you would know it because I’ve been characteristically closemouthed about it. But that’s not the reason for this update.

Well, it’s not the entire reason for this update.

I have a few ideas of what I want to do with the blog, and the main one is introducing a new type of post.

I’m thinking about doing some how-tos, not many and mostly humorous in nature.

How original, right?

I got the idea of doing it not too long ago, but haven’t implemented it into my schedule yet because of the chaos that consumed my life about three weeks ago. (More on that in a bit.)

As things stand with my Below Average Blog now, I have four types of posts that I write regularly. There are these Life Updates, where I toss around what’s been new with me. There are “reviews” that I do for movies, shows, games, and books, and those are hardly professional. (In fact, they’re Below Average content. Get it?) There are top-numbered lists, where I write about my favorite things from different categories, and then there are the posts where I just shoot the shit.

So why not add some how-tos in there?

I also want to start consistently adding an image per post. Even if that image is reused. It makes the whole thing look prettier, doesn’t it?

Posting once every 5 days has really worked out for me, by the way. That was the last big change I made to the blog, and I’m glad I did. My work schedule was getting a bit overwhelming.

I mean, work’s still relentless, and I’m still falling a bit behind on the post scheduling, but I’m enjoying this level of activity more than the panic-fest from before.

So I’m happy to report that that change was a success.

Now all I need to do is devote more time to reading my fellow bloggers’ work than I do now.

For those of you who’ve stuck around this far, well, I guess you might want to know what the “chaos” thing I was referring to earlier was all about. I’ve been having some medical issues, nothing too serious, but jarring for me nonetheless. I’m planning to go full-on rant about it in a later post in the future. But rest assured, my health is more or less okay (average, you might say), and the issue lay mostly in my troubles with my health provider and his prescriptions than with the ailment I’m dealing with. I am fine. I’m just more…irked…with doctors than I used to be.

It took up my time and my mind like you wouldn’t believe, and now that I’ve got it behind me (somewhat), I’m ready to focus my attention on my writing wholeheartedly once again.

Back to the blog.

If you guys have any ideas or wishes or comments on what to include for future how-to posts, feel free to let me know down below! (In the comments.) I’m all ears. I’m mostly knowledgeable in writing, proofreading, navigating social situations poorly, reading, bad movies, and being a plebeian gamer.

Life Update #7: The Rise of Hardcore Henry III

Avid readers of my blog (it’s getting slightly easier to say that word out loud) will know who Hardcore Henry was. (Or maybe they won’t, because it’s been a while since I’ve talked about him that one time.) I mentioned him in one of my previous Life Updates. (Which you can read for yourself right here!)

For those of you just stopping by, Hardcore Henry was the daddy long-legs that lived by my bookshelf. He got killed (semi-long story) and was soon replaced by a newcomer daddy long-legs that I dubbed Hardcore Henry II.

I didn’t post about it, but Hardcore Henry II is gone too.

I don’t know if he perished in the cold and forgotten wastes behind my bookshelves or if he crawled himself to a new locale with better property value. All I know is that the hardcore spot between the wall and one of my bookshelves has been empty for months.

That is, it was until a few days ago.

A brand-new daddy long-legs, Hardcore Henry III, has taken up residence there, and this spider has an attitude. He’s not mean per se, but he’s kind of…moody.

He has a tendency to spring out from his lair if someone so much as breathes on his web.

This is as close as I can safely get to Hardcore Henry III.

You can see Hardcore Henry III as the little dot above my gargantuan schnozz.

I’ve got to admit, I’m not too fond of this guy. The other Hardcore Henrys webbed their way into my heart by being unobtrusive spiders that may have assisted in decreasing the fly and mosquito population near my desk. But Hardcore Henry III is a tough as nails, take no shit, spit in your eye, and growl kind of guy.

And, as my earlier Life Update specified, I’m a tad on the arachnophobic side.

I don’t know what to do with Hardcore Henry III.

I’ve already named him, so I can’t just squash him.

So you see those books in the picture above, the ones with backwards titles since I took the photo selfie-style?

Yeah, it’s gonna be a while before I pick those up again.

What’s the natural life span of a daddy long-legs?

Life Update #6: A Mouse Can Make A Big Difference

Let me set the record straight. I’m not about to go off on some philosophical, metaphorical tangent about how small things can impact your life in massive ways.

I’m being much more literal here.

I got a computer mouse.

Now, some of you guys are probably wondering what the big effin’ deal is. It’s just a computer mouse, right?

I own a laptop, have owned it for about six years now. Ever since I got it, I have used the touchpad below the keyboard to navigate. Sure, my hands got cramped more often than not and my fingers awkwardly hovered over the keys, but I managed.

But I recently got another freelance job editing, so I figured I’d be a big spender for once. I went to Best Buy and got myself the cheapest-ish mouse available, called it Jerry, and then took it home. With a job like editing, I wanted a little more finesse than a touchpad. Know what I mean, jelly bean?

You guys, it’s like I forgot how to breathe. Having a mouse is addictively pleasurable. I can’t stop using it. I know material things shouldn’t amount to happiness, but I’m goddamn ecstatic.

To make a good thing even better, my boyfriend bought me a mouse pad with an image of Froley on it to celebrate.

This mouse is the best purchase EVER.

Huh.

You know, now that I think about it, this is a post about how a little thing can have a massive impact on your life.

Life Update #5: Origami Joys

Okay, so some of you might remember my previous life update where I berated the trials and tribulations of origami, the art of paper folding. (I was trying to pick up a new hobby.)

You can verify my annoyance by checking out that life update right here. A brief summary in case you’re too lazy to click on the link (which I totally understand) is that I was not pleased with origami. The instructions were obtuse, the folding paper unmanageable, and my fingers clumsy.

I thought I was going to give up origami as a lost cause.

I have to eat those words now.

Recently, during my free time, I’ve been fiddling with those square bits of paper, and call me a flubbing chicken-head if I’m not starting to enjoy it.

I’ll finish whatever work I have to do, put Star Trek: The Next Generation on the television, and I’ll fold up little chairs and tables, boxes and balloons.

I’m about to leave those kinds of folds behind and start practicing vehicles, like boats and planes. Then I’ll move on to animals. I’m really excited for that.

I am pleasantly bemused by this change in the status quo.

Origami initially irritated me. Messing up a single fold caused the creation to look sloppy, and I hated to look at my childlike fuck-ups. Nothing makes you feel so uncoordinated as failing to do origami properly.

But it’s like my brain did a total one-eighty. After that one day of idly picking up a square sheet and trying a few folds, I began enjoying the process.

If you take your time and don’t sweat your mistakes, origami can be really relaxing. And the more relaxed you are, the fewer mistakes you make. The instructions make sense if you spend a few moments studying the final diagram. The instructions end up feeling incredibly intuitive. Plus, it tickles my fancy when that light bulb in my head flicks on and I suddenly know what I have to do to turn that flat piece of paper into a three-dimensional shape.

I suppose there’s a lesson somewhere in all this. Something about giving things a second chance. Or maybe it has to do with perseverance.

Whatever. I don’t have time for the moral of this story.

I need to go to the store to buy some more folding paper.

Life Update #4: Living with Hardcore Henry

I’m not overly fond of spiders.

In fact, they freak me the fuck out.

I wouldn’t say I shriek and run away like a stereotypical arachnophobe, but I do flinch and maybe panic a bit…which is not all that different, I suppose.

There is one type of spider I’m not all that scared of, and that is the daddy long-legs. They have thin, spindly legs and the smallest of bodies. Their webs are wispy and frail, occasionally looking like hair more than webbing.

They’ve been a part of my life for a long time, for as long as I can remember. They heavily populated the garage and were sometimes seen indoors. My dad once picked one up and showed it to me and my sister. He said they were helpful in keeping other, more dangerous spiders away. So even though my mom might shriek and demand the death of every daddy long-legs she can find, they always had a hall pass in my book. As long as they kept the ever-threatening presence of those “other, more dangerous spiders” away, I was totally cool with them.

About a year ago, I noticed there was a daddy long-legs taking up residence in a corner near where my bookshelves are. While it initially jump-scared me by popping out when I was reaching for a book, I decided to leave it alone. I dubbed it Hardcore Henry and just took extra care when selecting books from that shelf.

Henry and I began a steady relationship from that day forward. I said, “Good morning, Henry,” every time I passed by that spot, and he’d sit in his web, chilling. I even introduced him to my boyfriend, who should by now be accustomed to my penchant for naming things.

However, I made the mistake of introducing Henry to my mother.

I mentioned that I had a daddy long-legs I was keeping around, and she freaked out. I didn’t tell her Henry’s exact location, but she knew he was around my bookshelf.

One day, she found Henry when I wasn’t in the house. She yelled aloud as soon as she saw him, and my boyfriend, who happened to be nearby, told her, “That’s Henry. Amanda is keeping him.”

The next day, when I passed by the bookshelf, Henry wasn’t there.

I’ll admit, I was saddened at the thought that my bookshelf companion was gone to the big web in the sky, but I didn’t hold it against my mom. I, too, am afraid of spiders and will not hesitate to squish them if they even think of getting too close.

But Henry was different.

He was a cool spider.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking by that bookshelf again, when I noticed some webbing was there. I took a closer look, and what should I find but another daddy long-legs.

I am calling him Hardcore Henry II.

And this time, I’ll just keep his presence between him, me, and the rest of you guys reading this.

Life Update #2: Origami Woes

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions.

I mean, I believe they exist. I don’t think they’re imaginary unicorns.

But I don’t believe they’re practical or logical.

In my opinion, making some kind of life-altering promise at the beginning of a calendar year is wasteful. What makes January 1st so special? Why not resolve to do something on any other day of the year?

Well, this year I’m doing a New Year’s resolution.

My friend Andreya came up with one for me, and I came up with one for her. And we are sticking to them.

Hey, it’s for fun.

The resolution Andreya gave me was to learn a new skill by the end of the year. She and I went through a bunch of potential new skills to learn, and we lassoed the ones we thought were the most interesting/doable.

I decided to spend January and February picking a skill, browsing through my options. The other ten months of the year would be committed to mastering the one I’d chosen.

The first skill I decided to fiddle with is origami.

I’ve always thought that those delicately folded paper constructions were soothing and endearing.

I now realize they’re a pain in the neck.

Origami folding instructions can be incredibly obtuse. I called my other friend, Mia, to help me out, and together we were barely able to cobble up some basic folds. It probably didn’t help that the instruction manual had teeny tiny diagrams.

It was funny though. Mia is OCD when it comes to folding things (paper, laundry, dough, etc.), so origami became this mountain-high endeavor for her. Needless to say, her folds turned out better than mine.

Overall, I’d say origami is a great activity to do with a friend. It helps to have someone alongside you to help you figure out the next steps in folding your paper table.

I don’t think I’m going to end up choosing it for my skill of the year, but I’m happy to have spent some time with it.

My origami samurai helmet
A table, chair, and piano

Life Update #1: Bunk Beds!

Hey, guys!

So I’ve made the executive decision to incorporate stupid little “life updates” into this bloggy thingamajig.

Why?

Because I wanted to.

Rest assured, these updates will be sporadic and insignificant. I’m not going to show up here and announce massive upheavals in my life. Rather, I’m going to post about the little things that have changed (or been updated), and we’ll just take it from there.

Sound good?

Feel free to stop reading if you want.

So, for those of you who have been with me since this blog’s inception, you should know I’m really close to my older sister, Alya. Even though she lives in a different state (like a United States’ kind of state, not a different mental state or something like that), we still maintain the same connection that we’ve always shared.

The distance makes us miss each other a lot, but we manage to make ends meet by arranging visits back and forth between the two of us. Admittedly, I stay over at her place far more often since she has a big puppy that can’t be left home alone. We spend the early morning together, hang out after she comes back from work, and go out on the weekends. It’s great.

Alya is always trying to make my visits more permanent. She constantly looks for incentives to get me to live with her, and, I’ve got to say, her latest attempt might just work.

Whenever I stay over, I sleep on an inflatable mattress in the guest bedroom. The mattress isn’t too comfortable, but it gets the job done. Admittedly, my sleep is not as restful as it could be. My nights at my sister’s are often fitful and broken.

Alya has been filled with wroth over these circumstances. For the longest time, she has been planning to get a spare bed for the room so that I can sleep better. She brought it up to her husband, and he suggested that they get a bunk bed. That way, more people can sleep over when the busy holidays arrive and family comes to stay at their house. Alya was skeptical about the concept initially. A bunk bed, she told her husband, might be a bit too small to accommodate some tall people in the family.

Which is when her husband brought up the idea of queen bunk beds.

And they frickin’ did it.

Queen sized bunk bed

With the help of one of my sister’s co-workers, my brother-in-law constructed a queen-sized bunk bed.

It’s a homemade piece of holy-awesome furniture.

My sister and I have always wanted bunk beds, ever since we were little. I mean, we shared a bedroom when we were kids. You would think bunk beds would have been a logical sleeping arrangement for us to have. But my mom, for some reason, did not like the idea. She gets freaked out by the weirdest things sometimes. I think she was afraid that one of us would end up squished or mangled from having fallen from the top bunk.

But she can’t stop us now.

So for my first life update on this blog, I’d like to tell all of you that I have finally, for the first time in my life, slept on a bunk bed.

Who says that dreams can’t come true?