Times Up

22 Aug

I had originally intended to make what I’m about to say in this post a topic for conversation on the next episode of my new podcast, but I felt like it might feel better to get these words and thoughts out of my head and on to paper – or the closest thing to paper that I have, which is my blog.  I feel like getting things off your chest feels differently, depending on the method in which you choose to do it. 

Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed.  It started right around the time that the release date for Mists of Pandaria was confirmed.  The officers of my guild had decided that they would like us, the raiders to be 90 ideally within a week, but for sure within two weeks of release.  This coincides with the pre-release weekend for Return to Ravnica, a highly anticipated expansion of Magic the Gathering that I and many others are very excited about.  Since I have come back to the game, I have made it to the last two pre-release weekends without fail.  I had every intention of making this one, too, but with the race to hit level 90, I realized I may not be able to make it.  This really bothered me.

Then my boyfriend and I decided to reconcile and start down the path of giving our relationship another shot.  He lives in Chicago.  One of the issues that came up during our initial break up was the fact that we weren’t spending enough time together.  Back then we were seeing each other every other weekend, sometimes every third weekend, mostly due to his work schedule.  When we agreed to give things another try, it came up in conversation that we may have to try stepping things up to every weekend or three weekends out of the month.  This was something I was fine with at the time, but when combined with everything else that I have going on started to make me feel like I was suffocating. 

So, let’s see.  Three days a week raiding, plus Fridays for Friday Night Magic, plus my blog, plus my podcast, plus being a guest host on other people’s podcasts, plus finding time to socialize with my friends and to see my family, plus work 40+ hours a week, and have weekends to spend traveling for the occasional Magic tournament or other type of event, and manage to maintain a healthy relationship with my boyfriend.  How am I supposed to juggle all of this?

Even the first two weeks of Mists seem incredibly daunting to me.  The expansion comes out on September 25th, which is a Tuesday.  I’m not going to burn a vacation day on launch day, for various reasons.  I decided to take the one vacation day that I had available and use it on that Friday, instead.  So starting on Tuesday, I will be coming home from work around 4:30, eating dinner, leveling from about 6pm to 11pm, going to bed, and then doing the same thing on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday through Sunday would be spent primarily leveling, most likely missing the Return to Ravnica pre-release, and then doing the same 6pm to 11pm grind every day the week after until I’m level 90.  Then comes the grind for gear and rep, so that I can be raid ready.  I’m exhausted just typing this.

Let’s say that I eliminate World of Warcraft from the equation.  Admittedly, this clears up a lot of my week.  Let’s say that I play only Magic and podcast, while blogging occasionally.  I’m already only playing Magic one day a week right now and that’s on Fridays.  Every weekend that I spend with the boyfriend rules Friday Night Magic completely out.  Typically I take the Amtrak to Chicago on Friday afternoons after work and I get down there around 7:30pm.  Most Friday Night Magic events start well before then.  I could start playing Magic Online and play during the week, but I’m leery about having to build an online card collection, in addition to an actual one.  I also worry that playing Magic Online will simply become a substitute for World of Warcraft and I’ll find myself tethered to the computer again during the week.  It would be like substituting one addiction or vice for another. 

Then there is the issue of traveling.  One of the things that excited me the most about getting back into Magic again was the opportunity to play in more large scale events across the country.  I had originally intended to stick to states that were nearby, like Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, etc.  But I have been very fortunate to meet people in states that are a bit farther away from me that I could go visit and even crash with, too.  I could visit Seattle if I wanted to, or Los Angeles, or even New York.  The possibilities are endless.  I can’t do those things if I have a boyfriend, or a boyfriend that my weekends are pretty much devoted to.  Most of the Magic events I’m interested in take place on the weekends.  How would I manage that?

I’m pretty sure this would be an issue, even if my boyfriend didn’t live an hour or so away from me.  Even if I met a guy locally, what guy is going to be okay with a girlfriend who is essentially booked a minimum of three days out of the week (for a computer game, no less) and possibly an additional day or even a weekend (for a card game), and who spends most of her free time working on a blog and a podcast about said games, even when she isn’t playing them?  Having all of this going on doesn’t necessarily make me serious girlfriend material.  It all leads back to the inevitable feeling that I have that something has to go.

I talked about this a little bit with the boyfriend last night and he didn’t have too much to say about it.  He is someone who was a hardcore gamer for a long time and made the switch to being extremely casual, to the point where he now only plays a handful of X-Box games and board games with friends from time to time.  That was something he was glad to do.  He was happy to give up the schedules and the responsibilities and to make other things in his life a priority.  I’m not so sure that I’m at that point yet.  I like my life the way that it is.  I also like being able to do things to the level of satisfaction that I want to do them.  I don’t want to do eight different things, just to say that I’m doing them.  I want to do them and feel like I’m doing them well.  I don’t feel like I can do that right now.  Something is going to suffer.  Something would have to suffer.

I really don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how I can pull all of this off.  I like where I’m at and I feel like I worked hard to get here.  It would be one thing if I weren’t enjoying something anymore and I chose to walk away from it because I hated it.  It would be one thing if something was being taken from me against my will, like Blizzard was no longer making expansions or Wizards stopped making Magic cards.  I have so many things that I love to do and so many people that I love spending time with and seemingly not enough time to spend on everything.  That doesn’t sit right with me.  It feels like a cop out to say that’s why I would be giving up something.

It’s just like Moroes says, “Time… Never enough time.”

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8 Responses to “Times Up”

  1. spinks #

    I’m exhausted just reading that. I made the change from hardcore raider to casual, and I’m happier with my gaming when it’s not on such a strict schedule but … it’d be lying to say you don’t still get twinges of jealousy about progression. It probably would be the easiest change to make, and would get the stress of the start of the expansion off your back quickly.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I think I’d try not to drop the BF though :)

  2. Oestrus #

    Hi Spinks,

    I think that’s the neat thing about WoW is that you can miss a tier and come back to it without too much effort. I remember that happening to Ophlie and now look at her – she’s a Savior of Azeroth! I could always take part in alt runs or just do LFR. There are plenty of neat alternatives to be had.

    And of course, the Boyfriend isn’t going anywhere. At least if I have anything to say about it.

    :)

  3. Sprinks #

    This is a great post, and I can sympathize. It’s always a question of balancing what’s truly important to you and knowing that it’s OK to let things go when they’re not at the top of the list. Literally, a list of what’s important to you may help – but only if you’re honest with yourself. If the boyfriend or WoW aren’t at the top of the list, then it’s time for a change.

    Distance relationships are always hard. They’re always work. One of my college girlfriends moved a few hours away to attend pharmacy school. At first, the 2.5 hours didn’t seem daunting, but over time it eventually drove us apart. Not to sound discouraging, but you’re fighting an uphill battle if making it work isn’t at the top of the priority list. And if it isn’t, that’s OK.

    It’s not considered failure if you decide to devote less time to something. I struggled with this (particularly in the case of WoW). After a 3 year break from the game, I came Spring of last year. I farmed the gear and eventually joined a raiding guild that I thought was a compromise between my hardcore interests and the amount of time I was able to commit to the game (we were raiding 3 nights a week). Even that little amount of time (about 10-12 hours) created friction between my wife and I.

    Eventually, I had to say goodbye to raiding, and also goodbye to being a hardcore gamer in general. You can be an informed and good player without having the “hardcore” label attached. In the end, not being able to raid made me lose interest in WoW because WoW is a game about raiding, in my opinion.

    We’ve had a few Twitter conversations about raiding, and from my perspective it seems as if you enjoy Magic more than WoW at this point. One of the things that really convinced me not to raid anymore was realizing that I had been missing that feeling where your time at night is your own. Four hours and I don’t have to be glued to the computer and can spend it doing whatever I want? It was liberating, and I don’t know that I would ever give it up again.

    All this to say that I understand, and there are many people out there that understand the difficulty of balancing the amount of time you have available and dividing it up among the things you love. It’s all about realizing how valuable your time is and ensuring that the things most important to you take up the lion’s share.

  4. Oestrus #

    Hi Sprinks,

    I enjoy Magic because I don’t feel committed to it. I enjoy it because I can play it when I want to and not play it when I don’t. I like the fact that I can miss a night of FNM (Friday Night Magic) and it still happens. There isn’t a chance the event would get cancelled because I didn’t show up. There isn’t that feeling that I “owe” it to everyone at Friday Night Magic to be there or like I’m letting them down. My deck doesn’t become less effective if I miss an event. Nothing really changes.

    I also agree with you about playing WoW to raid. I think if I were to stop raiding, I would at least like to take part in the Challenge Modes. Those could be a nice substitute, I think.

  5. Aris #

    As a holy priest, I found my way to your blog one day doing some research for how things are feeling on the beta and I’ve been reading your posts since. I always find what you have to say very interesting, even when it isn’t about WoW. Thanks for being such an honest voice!

    If you and your boyfriend want to spend more weekend time together, why does it seem like you’re the only one being required to travel to make that happen? It may only be my inference, but it seems like you’re saying you go to him on the weekends but I see no mention of him ever coming to you. I should think that should be a more even split and, when he travels to you, perhaps you could use the travel time to engage in things like Friday Nite Magic, etc. I obviously don’t know all the particulars of your situation but as an outsider looking in, it certainly raises an eyebrow if he’s unwilling to make the same journey for you.

    One of the important things for couples, in my opinion, is to have shared interests and activities that you both actually enjoy. For example, my wife and I both enjoy WoW and have been running a successful casual guild for almost six years now. In our world, successful means we’ve had minimal drama and have had a solid core group almost the entire time. We occasionally add new members and rarely lose them. We help each other and have FUN playing. Since so much time gets spent in Azeroth, it’s important to us that we both enjoy it. Outside of WoW, our interests overlap a lot, too. Being on the same page for most things and having just a couple of outside interests that are our own feels like our own recipe for success that has led us through 18 years together and is still going strong.

    I mention this because it sounds like two of the things you truly enjoy and are valuable to you, Magic and WoW, are not shared by your boyfriend. Consider how much of your time you devote (or would like to devote) to just these two activities (lumping in all associated times such as blog, research, deck strategy, etc.) and how you feel when engaging in them. If you give up the things you love and enjoy for him, and he doesn’t do the same for you, there’s a strong chance that’s going to eat away at your relationship. When one person makes all the sacrifices, it can build a lot of resentment over time, in my experience, and it doesn’t matter if he asks you to do it or if you just decide to do it of your own accord. You can’t expect to give up your primary passions and joys and not have any fallout. You need to have something that can give you that same sense of involvement and enjoyment to replace it. If you can get that from your relationship and the things you’ll share, fantastic! If not…

  6. Oestrus #

    Hi Aris,

    Thank you so much for the very kind words! That’s certainly a great thing to see first thing in the morning. Especially on a Friday.

    I realized after the fact that I did leave out the part about us alternating weekends. I wasn’t the only one doing the traveling before and I probably wouldn’t be again. But even when he does come up here, some part of me does feel a little bad for having him drive up here, meet me at the game store, and then having him watch me play Magic for most of the night. By the time the rounds are done, it’s 10pm (ish) and there isn’t much to do in the city after that (other than a late dinner or drinks). Mind you, he’s never said he has a problem with this and has done it before, but I feel bad about it. That’s my issue or hang up.

    It’s interesting that you bring up differences, because that has come up before. I have dated people seriously in the past that shared interests with me, like WoW, and I can’t necessarily say that that made the relationship better or function more smoothly. If anything, I think it caused more friction, because while we played the same game, we played it very differently. I was someone who was fine just logging on the three days that I was obligated to, whereas he was someone who would log in those days, and level alts on his free days, and then gear up those toons and get carried away with them.

    I also don’t feel there’s anything wrong with having different interests. I think as long as I’m dating someone who has some geek tendencies, whether they be from a coding aspect, or miniatures, or table top games, I’m happy. I guess I’ve always just felt that “having nothing in common” or using different interests as justification to end a relationship (mine or other people’s) never felt reasonable enough for me. It seems like a poor excuse or a poor reason to call it quits.

  7. Ophelie #

    That’s why I can’t do relationships. Boys get in the way of keeping my carefully-to-the-millisecond planned schedule ^_^.

    I think it’s a good sign to have so many (varied even!) interests. It’s disappointing when you have to choose one activity over another and it’s stressful, but it’s a good stress. A “HOW CAN I FIT SO MUCH FUN AND PLEASURE INTO SO LITTLE TIME!!!” stress.

    When it comes to prioritizing, though, you’re the only one who knows what you want most. No one can look into your head and tell you. The good news is that with most activities, decisions are reversible. Want to take a few months away from video games? They’ll still be there if you change your mind. (Friends, and boyfriends especially, however, usually do not follow that rule so you have to be more careful when making priorities in your social life.)

  8. theerivs #

    So your saying we’re not going on a date Bossy. Awww Well I use to date a non gamer girl…she actually got jealous of my gaming..kicked her to the curb. At least your BF is a gamer, and he’ll be more understanding.

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