Tuesday, June 23, 2009

having horrible hobbies

When the children were very small, the Sober Husband and I used to bitch that we couldn't pursue our hobbies. The children ate up all our time and energy. However, as they got older and more independent, we were able to start following our interests from time to time. I quilted, until the World of Warcraft started eating up far too much time (and also I'm suffering from Quilter's Block right now, sigh, a subject for another day). The Sober Husband revived a boyhood interest in chess, sparked by playing chess with coworkers over his iPhone, which I encouraged initially. When we were on one of our extremely rare date outings downtown, I dragged him to the chess club at the Mechanics' Institute. He'd scoffed at the very idea of this chess club, sure it was beneath him, but he agreed to stop by the library to look for some chess books. Walking around the crowded and old-fashioned chess room, he lost his disdain. "Some of these ratings are really high," he said as he looked up at the handwritten results of the last tournament. "Really high. International player level." I noticed a picture hanging on the wall showing Garry Kasparov playing chess in that same room. He got in touch with the chess director the next day and was soon a regular at the institute's chess room.

Soon the Sober Husband was studying chess in books, playing online, working out problems on a chessboard, typing in the moves from his games into a chess analysis program, and generally spending every non-work moment possible immersed in chess. He made flashcards to test himself on the classic openings, which amused the children, particularly after I suggested they could add some cards to his deck. Lola made a study card, among others, for "Vomit: Has Many Powers" which we giggled over together hysterically.

Characteristically he is now seen at every possible moment checking his multitude of chess games over his iPhone. Once a week he goes straight from work to the library on Tuesdays to play in a chess tournament, not getting home until after the children's bedtime. The children were terribly annoyed by this, but I considered it fair enough as I had taken up going out one night a week to an evening art class.

The problem is that the Sober Husband's hobby isn't relaxing. It drives him to despair. He frets that he's studying the wrong thing, that he'll never become good enough so there's no point, etc.., etc... A bad game leaves him in a dark, dark mood, and I've lost count of how many pep talks I've administered. This chess stress also seems to happen to an acquaintance of ours who is a long-time serious chess player, who reportedly was cast into self-doubt at being defeated by a child in a recent tournament. Recently I asked the husband, "Why do you have a hobby that causes you stress?"

"I thought that was the point of hobbies. That all hobbies cause you stress."

"Most people have hobbies that are RELAXING," I contended. The Sober Husband failed to take my point.

"I play Warcraft. It is RELAXING," I insisted.

But even traveling around a strange and rich world on an oversized pink bird, having adventures and slaying monsters, can have its stressful moments. Today I found myself hating Blizzard, Warcraft's corporate creator, as well as its customer service idiots. In the World of Warcraft, it's the Midsummer holiday, and at all the settlements, be they Horde or Alliance, there are bonfires and celebrations. There are a lot of quests related to this holiday, and I spent about four hours yesterday pulling one of the most difficult ones off: getting into the hearts of the Alliance's four capital cities and stealing the flames from their most special fires.

Getting this done did not go smoothly. I joined a raid group which managed to get a warlock (after many, many, many deaths) and some others into the subterranean tram underneath the dwarven capital of Ironforge, which meant they could summon the rest of us to join them as they teetered on a ledge in the dark. We got a bit giddy as our numbers grew, and we danced and threw rose petals on each other. Finally we stormed into the city itself, fighting off the guards and the Alliance players alike in a crazy scrum, and we got to the fire and back to the tram in a nonstop frenzy of fighting. This went wonderfully, and I didn't even die. Then an idiot in our group pulled a Leeroy Jenkins: he screamed, "KILL THE KING!" and ran back into Ironforge with no premeditation. About half the group impulsively followed him, while the other players, dumbfounded at this (we had explicitly, repeatedly discussed that we didn't have enough players to assassinate the king, barely enough to get the fire) stayed in the tram. Naturally the Jenkinsing players died and died and died, whining that the rest of us weren't helping them, and many of the sane players left the group. After the Jenkinsing players had finally managed to rejoin us, our sadly diminished group went on by train to Stormwind City, where we fought desperately, all dying over and over again, until we almost all of us got the flame. We were giddy at this hard-earned achievement (which would have been a piece of cake if the whole group had stayed together).

Then I got back home to my own territory and turned in these flames to the Horde Lorekeeper, so happy to have gotten it done, and nothing happened. I didn't get credit for stealing the fires. I didn't get the achievement. I did open an online ticket, and the next day I was told, "Good news! You can try it again!" I felt rabid. I spent an embarrassingly huge amount of time doing this silly thing, and I endured a classicly witless raid group of Leeroy Jenkins proportions, and I didn't get credit for it and now I have to do it over again? And this is my hobby? I bitched about it on the online Blizzard customer service forum to no avail. I can't believe this is how I voluntarily spend my time. I suck.

Addendum: I stole all those flames again, this time soloing because I couldn't face being in another big raid, and I got it done in a few hours. Ironically I got it done in about the same length of time, dying more, but that was compensated for by time saved not standing around waiting for other people.


Vodalus said...

I know! I'm in the exact same boat. Maybe you should try it again during "nerd off hours", i.e. early morning on a weekend.

Or recruit a couple of healer friends and just corpse hop through the city.

PS: As the cat threw up* on my boyfriend at 2am Monday night (lol), I was up and doing mine at that time of night. Ironforge and Stormwind were practically empty. So, if you just so happen to be up that late on a weeknight...

*He originally thought she had pooped on his chest. I was so amused by the whole thing that I wound up wide awake.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I did get it done again, soloing it, Vodalus. Ironically the first time I did it, I soloed Darnassus & Exodar without dying (and then grouped for IF and SW, doing IF without dying but dying a LOT in SW). Soloing again I died twice for Darnassus, once for Exodar, and once for IF. I died 3 times, I think, for SW, maybe four, but I got it done. I didn't turn it in until a ticket I had filed came up and a GM was chatting with me, because I did NOT want to have a problem again and be told to do it over.

That's funny, the cat throwing up on him.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad that I missing Midsummer. I should have saved my WoW time for this instead of children's week. :(

Your WoW buddy,

Anonymous said...

Man, I need to start a rogue alt.......Keith

Silliyak said...

Are we ever going to see the results of your ceramic efforts?

Vodalus said...

The good thing about the reset is that all the bonfires reset as well. That's essentially a 300g reward for flying places.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Caan, I miss you. When people talk about grinding, I always remember you and the Sha'tari Skyguild (I never did get anywhere with them).

Keith, a rogue has many benefits (not to mention that they usually kick my curvaceous rump in PvP. How can you get anywhere when you're stunned all the time?) I started one I should level up more.

Guys, look for me on Doomhammer as Hassenpfeffr (I never play Chlonnaa any more, Caan) if you're on. Caan, find a way to come back!

Vodalus, you got it with the cash. I have been everywhere; I'm leveling enchanting so I need money.

Silliyak, thank you for asking. I'll post some pics soon. I have a whole blog post I need to do, that I've been mulling over, about art.

Silliyak said...

Mulling over posts, what a concept!

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