Monday, December 27, 2010

ouch ouch ouch ouch

In one of the world's geekiest incidents, I broke my arm playing World of Warcraft. I didn't break any bones, that would be truly difficult to pull off; but I did harm my right arm, my main Warcraft-playing arm, to the point of agony.

It began on December 6th, the very eve of the long-awaited Cataclysm update to the World of Warcraft. My computer suffered a catastrophic stroke that day in the morning, when I was working on private school admission essays for Lola (Lola may or may not change schools next year, and I wanted to get the appallingly detailed work of the applications done before starting Cataclysm). I called the Sober Husband and asked him, "How bad would it be if I just ran out with a credit card and bought a new computer today?" After some discussion, we agreed to go together to the Apple store that afternoon (the Sober Husband having stipulated that his tech support services would be severely limited for a non-Macintosh computer). I moved up to the study and finished the applications on the archaic dinosaur computer normally used only by eight year-old Lola, a computer which would not be able to handle the demands of the monstrous Cataclysm software.

All that day emails were flying back and forth amongst Warcraft players, many of whom were planning on gathering for a non-slumber party. At midnight Blizzard would release the long-awaited Cataclysm, allowing players to enter new lands and to start characters of new races, and a variety of Warcraft players would do that together at the Burning Man headquarters. I'd planned on going, but my computer's death screwed things up. It would take me a long time to get the software set up on a new computer -- Warcraft is truly huge. On my sad old now-dead computer, it had taken me several tries until I'd succeeded at finishing an eight hour download for the newest version. If that computer hadn't stroked out, all I would have needed was the special code I'd get from a copy of the new software in order to start playing Cataclysm. I couldn't face trying to do that heroic download again, and I didn't even have a working computer capable of Warcrafting.

That evening, my truly indulgent husband bought me a new laptop. "My family has been struggling with inadequate technology for too long," he said, as he impulsively added an iPad to the purchase. The children danced about in a consumer glee, gamboling around the Apple store. Iris hugged the iPad box to her chest all the way to the parking garage.

At home I made everyone a nutritious dinner and got the Sober Husband to skim through the application essays I'd written. Almost predictably I started feeling ill that evening. My immune system has been shot to hell all year. Ever since I had surgery last February, I've been sick more often than not, with one bug after another. On Thanksgiving Day itself I'd been felled with a wretched virus, and then again a new one hit on Cataclysm day. "Are you going to Best Buy at midnight?" the Sober Husband asked, but by ten I felt too wretched to contemplate driving. I just went to bed.

The next day over breakfast the Sober Husband asked, "Why are we not at Best Buy?" He wanted to see me enjoying my lovely new computer. I drove him to work and then bought myself Cataclysm on the way home. It wasn't until well after noon that Warcraft was ready to play, and then it was pretty much time to get the children. But then after we came home, I sank into playing, serious playing, and I played so much over the following two weeks that I virtually destroyed my right arm. Extreme pain in my right elbow had me pulling out my leftover painkillers from surgery. My right shoulder was agonizing, and I had to shamefacedly confess to the Sober Husband that I had incurred these extreme Warcraft related injuries. I spent a weekend alternating ice packs with a heating pad on my shoulder, not touching my new laptop. The children enjoyed their turn and started goblin and worgen characters on Warcraft, playing and playing while I lay on the couch, unable to do really anything.I couldn't even turn the pages of a book with my right hand. Driving and cooking, the things I seem to spend most of my time doing, were completely out of the question. I asked Iris to post on my blog explaining my absence, but she couldn't be bothered, preferring to make the most of her own turns at the computer to play Warcraft.

Thankfully my shoulder responded well to the complete lack of computer usage, massive doses of Motrin, and the hot-and-cold packs, and after a few days, it became pain-free. My right elbow and hand are still fragile, and I have significant pain in my elbow. The Sober Husband asked, "Don't you think you should see a doctor?", but I said, "Aaah, I'm already doing what a doctor would tell me to do."

Ironically I knew other players had played many, many more hours of Cataclysm than I had. My elemental shaman of a troll had reached level 85 and was geared for heroics when my arm gave out, but I was seeing goblins that same level ... characters who had been started from scratch at Cataclysm, while I'd started my troll months ago. Evidently those players, unlike me, had right arms of steel.

Meanwhile another online gaming injury occurred in our family, this one a psychic injury. Little Lola has long been devoted to Poptropica, a children's online gaming community. Like Warcraft, Poptropica opened a new land in December--- one dedicated to controversial creatures of the tabloids. Lola immediately plunged into lore of the Loch Ness Monster, the chupacabra, Big Foot, and the Jersey Devil. After a day or so, Lola was unable to sleep through the night, walk through any dimly lit area, or generally be alone at all due to a consuming fear of the Jersey Devil, and, to a lesser extent, chupacabras. She often becomes convinced a Jersey Devil is breaking into our home, despite the fact that I pointed out that not only is their very existence dubious, but their alleged habitat, New Jersey, is several thousand miles away.

Realizing how unhealthy our familial addiction to computer games has become, for Christmas I went back to that Best Buy and bought a Kinect for our Xbox, one of those amazing new devices which allows a person to become their own game controller and to play games by leaping about. If we're going to be spending far too much time playing videogames, at least we should be getting some exercise at the same time. The children worked up a considerable sweat playing Kinect games right away, and even I, sadly and all-too-predictably sick as as a dog again with a severe chest cold, couldn't resist a few rounds of Dance Revolution, trouncing Iris uber Alles at a Dance Battle to "Poker Face."

And then today a Christmas letter came from graduate school friends of the Sober Husband. I absentmindedly rubbed my hurting elbow as I read the long list of amazing accomplishments of this family. Once we had been comparable to this family, but over the last several years, we stopped achieving while they stepped up the pace. The wife finished her PhD at Harvard this year, took a new teaching position, received a variety of grants, and traveled to many academic conferences. The husband, a professor at MIT, is writing a book on physics and traveled the world, expenses paid, to work with collaborators in such pleasure spots as Japan and Aspen. The children have black and brown belts in karate -- and as the letter specified, these are adult belts, not the usual, inferior, juvenile versions other lesser children earn. They speak foreign languages and perform in jazz ensembles and are silversmiths.

What did we do this year? We didn't travel. I haven't left the country in six years, ever since we realized we couldn't afford international vacations on one salary. Our children do not make beautiful silver jewelry for their friends and family or play jazz; they develop phobias of the Jersey Devil or crackpot theories about the moon landing, and they quit their piano lessons ages ago. All I did this year, other than have major surgery and approximately one thousand minor illnesses, was to go to Burning Man and wreck my arm playing Warcraft. I am a middle-aged slacker, too lazy to make my children over-achieve, instead having passed my unhealthy love of gaming on to a new generation. "I LOVE Warcraft," Lola said exuberantly the other day, hugging me in abandon on my left side while carefully leaving my weakened right side alone.


Silliyak said...

Given your dental history, I am sorry to say it sounds like you have a low grade infection somewhere, likely a tooth. You should get checked for your white cell count.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that you hurt your arm, but that last paragraph had me laughing out loud.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Silliyak, one of the few things I got done this year was that I finally found a lovely dentist to replace my long-lost Dr Huey. I got a couple of fillings & a crown, as well as a cleaning, and I think my mouth is healthy right now.

You do have a point though, that my immune system shouldn't be this crappy. I know the vector of this latest cold: it went from girl-in-Iris's-class-who-went-to-school-sick-as-a-dog to Iris to me. Other illnesses, though, are more mysterious.

Anonymous said...

oh you poor poor thing. That must really hurt. I still laughed though. : ) I hate Xmas letters, I swear, it's just a way to make other people feel bad compared to you. I liked lisa whelchels though! signed joyce

Heather said...

Overachieving is severely overrated.

Carroll said...

Let me point out that your kids are exuberantly happy, uniquely creative, and caring individuals whose parents love them to pieces. What more could you be wanting to highlight in a year-end report?

Jen in OR said...

Bah, your kids rock! Give me a couple of wickedly sarcastic gamers over ADULT black-belt wearing silversmiths Any Day!!

Please, please, please send out a New Year letter that highlights all of your failures this year. It would be a riot and everyone would LOVE it. I find those "Look at us!" letters to be just plain obnoxious and I'm glad none of my slacker friends or family could ever begin to write one.

PS - I developed a severe case of Nintendo Thumb while staying at my Aunt's house when I was about 14. She was the first person I knew who owned a Mario game and she had to have been 40 at that time.

Caroline said...

Feh. Holiday letters. The ones we get are from our overachieving cousins (one on each side, so it's balanced) detailing the high level of goal attainment and transcendent good times they've had all year. They are both golden girls with lovely families, plenty of discretionary income, and impressive resumes. I hate em both. And I have a bad case of blogger's arm, btw.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered checking out public elementary schools for Lola (I'm not intending to be rude here, just raising a possibility)? My kids are at Miraloma, which has a couple of spots open in 3rd grade (ie you could take a spot tomorrow, if you wanted). The class is filled with lots of bright kids - several were independently reading and fully understanding Harry Potter books in Kindergarten, for example. From your descriptions of your girls, Lola would certainly fit right in with this group.

I'm very happy with the education my kids are getting (can't detect any difference between them and their private school friends), and the parent community is wonderful. And, with the tuition you save, you may be able to take that international vacation you're longing for!

the Drunken Housewife said...

Dear Anonynmous: I wrote a long response to your sweet comment on the wrong post (poor stupid Drunken Housewife), on a Christmas one. I appreciated it very much, and of course it's the opposite of rude to make a school suggestion to me. cheers, DH