The annual WordPress simeysmiler check-in.

That last post reads as somewhat pretentious to me. I think I was angling for ‘deep’ or ‘meaningful’ – but a year later (as per usual) I feel embarrassed by it. I’m fairly light-hearted, and the tone of that post isn’t representative of my personality at all.

I’m most certainly different to the girl who started this blog – but not so much from the girl who wrote that post last March, or so I thought. That’s funny, given my current opinion on her writing. Anyway – introspection aside, I’m just checking in to give a little update.

In the last year or so, I started phasing out the use of my username around the Sims community. I came up with the idiom ‘simeysmiler’ at the ripe age of thirteen when I was joining the old Sims 2 site – and then, only because ‘rainbowranger’ was already taken. Today, twenty year old me is largely fed up of it – so these days, I’m Laura around and about.

I’m still involved in the Sims community. I’m a bit of a Tumblr dweller these days, which is something I’d never have predicted a year ago. (I despised it.) I’m enjoying just playing the game and sharing the silly things my Sims do, and I’m gradually learning how to create CC – which is an element of the game I wish I’d explored sooner. You can find me here, though I’ll warn you: my updates are generally scattered gameplay pictures.

Uh, life-stage wise, I’m in my third year of a four year degree, which I’m appreciative of. Most arts degrees are a bare three years long; I think I need this extra year to think about what I like doing, and what I’m prepared to focus on. I’m happy to have made some really good friends at college and while I occasionally think I’m nowhere near as accomplished or conscientious as I should be, third level has been of huge benefit to me.

This time, I’m affirming that this blog will no longer be updated. I’ll leave everything I’ve posted here available, but I don’t think I’ll ever have more to add to this place. Not only I not do the whole Sims stories thing any more, but the writing thing has gone out the window too. Although I enjoy playing with words immensely, and I continue to write, it’s not something I do for pleasure necessarily – more so, just because a thought grabs me or because I need to vent. I don’t think of myself as a writer really, so maintaining a writing blog doesn’t appeal to me at all.

It’s not a goodbye to anyone who might be reading this – I’m still on the internet. I’m easily found. I think it’s more of an admission to myself that this isn’t what I do any more, nor is it something I’ll ever do again. Anyway. I was trying to avoid another overblown blog post I’ll eventually cringe at. ^_^

All the best to anyone who’s ever trawled my little corners of the online universe. Who knows – we might cross paths again someday. And happy new year!

– Laura.

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This blog I don’t treat kindly enough

This blog and I have had some good times, since starting it two years ago.

It documents my maturity. As a person. A writer. A simmer. It hasn’t recorded any of these things of late, mostly because I haven’t posted in over six months.

But maybe that’s a recording in itself.

Ok, leaving the attempts to be deep and meaningful aside, it’s hard to know what to say. This blog was set up as an alternative space to that I occupied on the Sims 2 website and on various forums (most notably, The Unofficial BBS) – a place I could spam without fear of annoying others or censorship. Now the former is gone forever, and I don’t frequent the latter at all. It’s not that I’ve moved on from the Sims (I still play regularly enough) but that I’ve stopped sharing my experiences online. …Kind of. If you want to see any of my sim doings, check out my bare Livejournal, here.

The writing thing? Oh, that continues – I must update the Short Pieces page at some stage with some of my recent work. [EDIT: done!] What I love about posting my writing online is the lack of anxiety I feel sharing it (relative to real life) – mostly because, the chances of anyone recognising the experiences or people I often write about are minimal.

This isn’t a good-bye letter, nor is it a justification for absence. I don’t have any real reason for not updating any sooner than this. But I can say that I am a somewhat different person to the girl who wrote the last post in this blog, if only through being a year older. Different by virtue of experience – I feel I’ve learned lots in the last few months.

Funnily enough, this is not meant to be a gloomy entry. I’m just rather tired and fresh from reading a blog by a somewhat gloomy friend of mine. To give this post some cheer, have a cute pokemon .gif.

Let’s save the goodbyes for when I leave posting a new update even longer than this…

Busy-ness.

It’s been a while.

I have to admit, I’ve been more inactive in the Sims community in the last few months than I thought I’d be. In fact, once I’d finished secondary school I thought I’d have all the time in the world to play Sims, write stories, edit pictures and to generally be unsociable. Erm. I was wrong. Turns out that college is more time-consuming than you are lead to believe. It’s not that I have heaps of lectures and coursework to get through (though I have enough, considering it’s only a humble arts degree I’m doing), but you don’t count on the social side of things. These days my free time is spent on campus rather than on the computer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last three months, but despite the lurking and occasional posting I’ve done over on The Unofficial BBS, I’ve haven’t been around much.

I really don’t think that’s going to change much either. There’s no way I’m going to get back into playing or even loading up the game. It’s only installed on our nearing geriatric family desktop, which I haven’t had to use recently thanks to Barney the purple Sony Vaio laptop. There’s also no chance of Barney handling TS2 with expansion packs and CC–which is the only way I’d play the game–so my pixel dollies aren’t coming to college with me any time soon.

What I’m saying is – don’t count on getting many (or any) TS2 updates from me these days. It’s not so much that I’ve moved on from it – we’ve just kind of drifted apart, like two friends that don’t see each other as much as they used to. It’s weird likening the game to an old friend, but I think many people out there that have played and loved The Sims 2 can relate to that.

That said, I’m still hanging around. I know people are going to roll their eyes at this but, I’ve actually been booting up TS3 recently. It’s installed on the laptop, which means on a rainy day the citizens of Sunset Valley come out to play. My graphics aren’t great and I’m running the game CC-less at the moment, but it’s a fresh experience for me after years of playing its predecessor. I’ve said this before (grudgingly; as I do now), but EA got some things right. Moodlets, traits and wishes are cool (though I missed wants and particularly fears at first) and I’m come to accept the look of the game (the sims’s appearance however are always going to be trumped by the CC-laden sims of TS2). I’m sure that with expansion packs installed and a capable computer to run it, the game can be considered a decent sequel to The Sims 2. I’ll never be as hooked though as I was with TS2. That probably has more to do with my age and current situation though, rather than the quality of either game.

The writing thing has taken a nose-dive also – something I’m more regretful about, to be honest. I think a part of it is that I do enough writing for college these days – some of which I find stimulating (you know you’re an English dork when you never miss a lecture and enjoy doing essays for the subject). I’m pretty uninspired to do any extracurricular writing however. I did Nanowrimo for about two days… after which I subconsciously threw in the towel. I got to about six hundred words (which I might expand upon and stick as a scrap under the Short Pieces part of the site) before promptly abandoning my ‘novel’ in favour of school work/television/internet surfing/a social life. It’s not such a loss though, because it really wasn’t going anywhere. I’ll say provisionally, ‘Maybe next year’.

That’s pretty sketchy though, given I remember saying the exact same thing this time last year. 😛

I really do want to get into the swing of writing again though. I’ve got a couple of buddies now who are also closet scribblers, one of whom completely put me to shame when she told me she had 140,000 words of a novel written. I felt like a bit of a twat when I told her I  had written a lot… just not a lot of any one particular story. I’d never be so petty as to want to challenge her feat, but I do think I should get better at starting–and more importantly, finishing–things.

Speaking of things I should have finished… I feel there’s no harm in making this public now.

It’s not finished, in that there’s a severe lack of pictures in the middle, and the writing is not my finest. But hey, I harped on about this for long enough – might as well let people see what all the fuss was about. Since I’m on WordPress (and because there’s little to no possibility of this ever reaching the Exchange), there’s mild bad language, very harmless sexual innuendos (The Belle Metamorphosis was HEAPS worse), the suggestion of violence and a reference to under-age drinking of the alcoholic nature. If you’re, say, under the age of thirteen (or a highly sensitive over-thirteen year old), read at your own peril. Also be aware that the second chapter of this, as well as any subsequent chapters,  may never see the light of the interwebs, except maybe in text-only format – if I ever write any more. Still, I hope people get some scant enjoyment of this, even in its unpolished state. 🙂

Shades of Grey; The Scheme.

Just out of interest, I recently stumbled upon a book of the same name in my local branch of Hughes and Hughes. I didn’t buy it, but I’m planning to. If you ever want to read a completed, superior (if completely non sim-related) Shades of Grey… then this one by Jasper Fforde should be your first port of call. 😀

Come back life, come baaaaack…

Time for the compulsory November blog entry! Wahey! And what a month November is… I’ve got essays, class tests, assignments and deadlines sprouting up around me like the mushrooms growing out on the front lawn. Not to mention, it’s my first month as a legal adult. Yup – apparently, after eighteen years of life, I’m officially grown up and a fully-fledged member of adult society. I certainly don’t feel any more mature, but that (I’m hoping) will come with time. To be honest, the whole age/adulthood thing didn’t really sink in until I got the Facebook message:

Paha, that amused me no end. I’m basically a Facebook lurk anyway, so having a less limited account won’t make a massive impact of my life. But this totally made me laugh. I don’t know, my sense of humour was a little askew at the time (one of the other perks of being eighteen in this country is being able to legally purchase and consume alcohol), so if you don’t get it, I don’t think it’s any reflection on you. 😮

Also, this year Halloween was amazing. I have never been so psyched for it. It lived up to my expectations also, which is great; there’s nothing worse than getting all hyped up for something, only for it to be a complete and utter disappointment (*cough* X FACTOR *cough* …I’m joking–mostly–I’ll get around to blogging about that some other time). My costume was just inspired; I went as Halloween. Yes, you’ve read that correctly – I did write ‘Halloween’ there. Basically, I wore stripy black and orange tights, a black top, black shorts and seriously smudged, excessive eye make-up. The look was completed with a mad barnet of back-combed hair and  a black and orange feather boa that shedded more than my dog does. I think I left a trail of feathers wherever I went. But I was significantly scary-looking, even if I had to explain to everyone just what I was.

The costumes around town really put the likes of lazy me to shame though. You had your typical Halloween costume fodder of course, but memorable ones were the Rubix cube I passed when walking home, a friend of a friend who channelled Edward Scissorhands (via tinfoil-covered straws :D) and the guy who walked around wearing a mask of the new Irish President’s head: truly terrifying.

In general though, I’m loving it here at college. I’m halfway through the first semester now and although I can’t profess to have learned much, the life experiences have been both plentiful and profound. Well – if you count trying very seriously to swim through an imaginary vat of dough as something unforgettable (which it was :P), then I’m drowning in them. In the end, I think I might have been better off not getting the course I wanted. Although I’m certain a career in media or writing is what I want, I think the specialism in theatre and performance I’m stuck with will actually be more beneficial to me as a person. If only because I have the coolest course tales to share at house parties…

Still though – there’s more than just giving and receiving, moulding, floating, flying and radiating to my college degree. The work and reading is pretty consuming. Definitely, I can’t remember the last time I read something for pure enjoyment, which I used to do all the time before starting at third-level. Whoever said Arts is a doss obviously never took a Humanities degree themselves. Compared to the science and medicine courses, then yes; the workload is light. But it does exist, contrary to popular belief. I really didn’t think I’d have less free time this year than I did the last. Oh, how naive I was. 😀

Needless to say – TS2 is on the backburner right now. Coming to think of it, I haven’t booted up the game in weeks… maybe even months. I mean, it’s installed on the family desktop at home, which doesn’t come to college with me every week, so that’s not surprising, but considering how I used to play TS2 at least once a week, it’s unusual how disengaged I’ve become from it. For a while I had TSLS installed on my laptop, but that recently got uninstalled, only to be replaced by… urm, well, The Sims 3.

Don’t judge me. 😛 I’m just giving it a trial run, that’s all. Considering I don’t get much time to play it (maybe an hour… a week), it’s early days to be calling me a convert. Which I’m not. But there are certain things about the game that are an improvement on TS2, even if you can’t get past the pudding-face Sims and the rabbit-holes. I’ll never get as addicted to it as I was to TS2, but it is a fresh game to play (for me, at least), so I’ll just see how I go.

Also: I’m attempting NaNoWriMo this year. ‘Attempting’ being the operative word in that sentence. As of yet, I have 621 words written (while this blog post comes in at… 918 words :P), which is seriously lagging behind the 3334 word count I should have reached by now. But! The month is young and I’m sure inspiration/motivation will kick in eventually. Hopefully just after procrastination takes his leave.

So really… that’s my life, in a nutshell. Right now I have to go study Greek pottery, which is basically just checking out the usually naked men on these pots and saying who they are. 😉 Sure beats last year’s homework…

Where have you BEEN, young lady?!

Laura, Laura, Laura. What happened to (and here I quote) “feeling more focused than ever when it comes to [Shades of Grey]”? Because obviously, you have been far from focused in the last month and a half. While I’m at it, what happened to keeping a regularly updated blog?

Also, since when have you started talking to yourself online? I mean, bad enough that you have long and detailed conversations with yourself in your head or occassionally aloud, but to start doing it on the internet as well…

Alright, so I’m a heap of fail when it comes to deadlines and saying I’ll get something finished soon, and I procrastinate like a boss. I wish it was the other way around, as everyone does. The point is, never believe me when I say I’m going to upload/do something by a certain date. I usually have every intention of getting around to do it, but I get distracted easily, especially when a voice in my head (probably the one that got blog space in the first paragraph) is telling me “stop putting this off, do it NOW“. Still, the time for excuses is past, given I’ve been saying I’m just about to upload SOG since January.

Where have I been? Nowhere that would have stopped me doing some story work. August (oh dear lord, I haven’t posted since then) was a busy month. I was at home but my day life was tied up with Leaving Cert results, outings with friends, final shindigs with my co-students, college offers and, thankfully, preparing for college. My debs was pretty good, though (being sick that night) I didn’t have as much craic as I should have. The fact that the hotel kicked us out at half-one didn’t help, but I managed to dance like a fiend and say my farewells to people I might never see again. Plus, I had to wear a fancy dress and get my hair done – and I got a corsage. 😀 It’s not something I’d go through in a hurry again, but I’ll freely admit it was nice living a princess’ life for a day.

Right now? I’m at university. You know, it’s funny: when you start secondary school, it feels like you’re going to be there your whole life. Yes, you know it’s only going to be five/six years, but subconsciously you figure you’re there forever. Even in my final year, when it was all like COLLEGE, JOBS and REAL LIFE, it didn’t really sink that there was an an end coming to this academic tunnel. Then, once you do finish, it’s like: whoa, lol whut? No more homework? No more teachers nagging you? I’m an adult now?

Going to university then is a slap in the face, especially if you’re living away from home. Not having your parents spoonfeeding you (especially if you’re used to it) comes as a bit of a shock. I’m independent enough and thankfully I don’t really get homesick – but I was used to having a dinner cooked for me and having parents around who constantly reminded me to do my homework, to study and, I don’t know, to clean my room or to wash the dog. At the weekends when I head home, I still get that (and then I complain about it :P) but at first it’s disconcerting being responsible for yourself, especially in unfamiliar territory where everyone else seems calm, cool, collected and at ease with their new lifestyle. That said, I love it. I’m not amazingly outgoing, so it can be hard to do the whole ice-breaking thing, but I’ve met a lot of people and my course is going to be interesting. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for – I was aiming to do an arts (humanities) course with a creative writing specialism, but instead I got my second choice, Arts with Theatre and Performance – but things happen for a reason. I’m also doing English (keeping the writing/literature thing open), Classics (a surprise to me and everyone who knows me, given my abhorrence for history, but I’m enjoying it so far) and Maths (which gets left without a bracketed comment… oh wait).

Anyway… now that’s all off my chest, what of my simming presence? Well, I thought it was going to be non-existent for a few months, being away from home and without a personal computer. My Mansion and Garden Stuff disc was going to be left gathering dust during the week, until Friday came, when I’d be home… although the poor thing would still have a pretty sucky existence, given there’s a hundred other things I’d rather be doing instead of simming at the weekends. But thanks to the earlier-than-expected arrival of Barney, the purple Sony VAIO, I’m actually here, typing this, rather than moping about how much I was paying the mobile phone operators just so I could check emails on my phone. [69c a day doesn’t seem like a lot, but that works out at €4.83 a week and €20.70 a month… for a dodgy internet connection that is more likely to crash than load.]

So, the laptop is great really. Obviously I need him for more than just browsing GOS, stalking The Unofficial BBS and checking if the TS2 site is back up (not yet, after two months ‘maintenance’… ears burning yet, EAxis? 😡 ), but Barney does that pretty well all the same. He also runs The Sims Life Stories (hur hur. Yes, I did bring that with me, sadly) pretty quickly and without delay. Graphics-wise, things aren’t too clear, but there’s a chance I might be able to run a mini-SOG neighbourhood on my laptop, for minor picture taking and whatnot. I’ll be able to do much more writing now as well, which is certainly a bonus. All in all – Laura’s like a kid on Christmas morning right now. 🙂

A few TSLS screenshots there. Check me out, going retro with Maxis stuff! 😛 I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had sims that aren’t CC’d to the teeth (quite literally, given the number of teeth masks I have on my desktop game). For the record, it’s impossible to get decent pictures without a cameraman mode. Makes me miss regular TS2. 😦

Anyway, this (as you will have realised) is ramblery at its finest. Another thing I’m going pro at. Shades of Grey? Well, no way am I giving another deadline that I’m going to fail to keep, so if/when it’s ready, it’ll be uploaded. As for me… well, I’m not going to leave it so long to update again, of that you can be sure. I’m going to get back into writing (I haven’t written anything for fun in a long time), maybe do some RPing and try to become a consistent student (I don’t just procrastinate in my uploading habits 😎 ). For now though, it’s time to call time on this entry. Just one more thing.

IRELAND IN THE RUGBY WORLD CUP! 😀 😀 😀 I’m so proud of the lads for beating the Aussies. It was a massive thing here (even for the non-rugby followers, like me) and we’re all hyped up about it. Best of luck to all the teams, but especially to the boys in green. 🙂

Full steam ahead

I’m back at home after a pretty good break, where I got to build the last sandcastle of my childhood – or rather, the last fifteen. I figured, since I’m no great shakes at building them, instead of making one really great castle, I’d make a series of really crap ones – with the help of my three-year old cousin, who also supplied the bucket and spade.

I got a little sentimental actually. Not tearful, but it felt like I was gradually waving off my childhood. This whole summer has been a bit of a fond farewell to it, what with finishing up school, taking state exams, going on my last family holiday (maybe), seeing the final Harry Potter movie (date with him went very well – though I thought Deathly Hallows Part One was heaps better, the real highlight of the series) and the prospect of college in the autumn. Not to mention, my Leaving Cert results are due out in two weeks, followed by my debs (read: prom). Then comes my birthday and I’m legally an adult, whether I feel like one or not.

I’m not  really sad or anything. It’s just that, I am aware that I’m leaving one stage of my life and entering the next. But I’m looking forward to it. After all, you can make a sandcastle at any age, whether you’re eighteen or eighty-eight. 😀

– – – – –

Ahem. Anyway. Shades of Grey is back on track. I’m making good progress and most of the groundwork is done. I’m going to take my time with the editing though. I didn’t with the Figment prologue pics – a seriously old and crappy story that to this day I regret not doing properly – and that tale never got as far as the first chapter. I’m hoping to learn from past mistakes with SOG. That means that I’m going to make sure that the pictures are decent and the writing is acceptable. To be honest, I toyed with rewriting the first chapter – 😛 not to worry, it ain’t gonna happen at this stage – because I felt the standard wasn’t particularly good. In fairness, I wrote it a year ago before having any concrete idea of what was going to happen in the second chapter. When I compare it to what I’ve written more recently, it comes across as pretty limp. But, other than a few minor adjustments to the script, The Scheme is staying the way it is – and I’m just going to have to make up for any lack of quality with a great Chapter Two. 😉

All the same, there’s no more putting off on my side of things – I’m feeling more focused than ever when it comes to this. So, keep an eye out for the next post because it might just be called “At last”… 😀

Back, promising progress – or more likely procrastination

    

I flew home yesterday after two weeks of a Portuguese holiday. It was almost twelve midnight when we arrived home. Needless to say, it was lie-ins all round in our house this morning. I’m glad to be home, although driving from the airport, I felt a little like Bella Swan, à la Twilight. I know – not the kind of character anyone who isn’t a Twihard would like to be compared to. But Portugal, which is a gorgeous country – well worth a visit, if you do the whole sun holiday thing – is very different to Ireland. A bit like Bella, I went from a scrubby, mainly brown, dustily dry country to the Emerald Isle – think grass, trees, and more greenery than you can shake a stick at. Only difference was, Bella hated the green; I was happy to return to it. Heat and humidity aren’t my thing. Nor is sunburn, though I didn’t fare too badly. For a while, I traded the glass-of-milk complexion for something more comparable to a strawberry milkshake, but things have evened out now and I’m proud of my faint tan. Sure, most of it is freckles, but you have to work with what you’re given. 🙂

Still I hadn’t banked on the amount of rain there is back home. Let me tell you, it’s more like January than July here. Strappy tops and shorts? More like anoraks and umbrellas. I spent just a few minutes out in it and, with the help of the temprature difference (17°C versus 27°C plus :() too, I’ve ended up with a slight cold. I’m not complaining, not really… But it’s certainly back to reality now.

…Which is why I plan on escaping – through the really of fiction! 😉 With my exams over (although the results of these are on the horizon, and riding on them, my future), no real job and only the occasional jaunt with friends, I’ve got time to myself in abundance. The plan is to try and write as much as I can over the summer, not for any real purpose other than to try and get better at it. I’ll try to finish Shades of Grey (and, you know, maybe upload a first chapter – I’ve only been saying I will for the last seven months :P), work on a few short stories that would probably end up here and maybe attempt some non-sim writing. Oh, and I want to make a stab at some vampire fiction. I read Dracula about a week ago and it’s fired my passion for the bloodsucking beasties. Of course, I want to put my own spin on the legend – but be assured that there’ll be no sparkly animal killers coming from me.

I wonder, did Stephenie Meyer ever read Dracula? Honestly, given the laughable contrast between Edward and the Count (not the first literary vampire, but certainly the post most of his predecessors were measured against), I doubt it. I’m not a Twi-hater, but I’m kind of disillusioned with the whole saga at the moment. I’ll go watch Breaking Dawn – the most ridiculous book out of the four in my opinion – when the film comes out, if only to laugh at the bad plot, craptastic acting and sure-to-be-hokey CGI. I’ll probably be Breaking Down with the awfulness of the whole thing by the time I get out of the screening room though (sorry, that was pretty bad).

Continuing on my vamp fic kick, I also read Awakened, the eighth instalment of the House of Night series over on hols. I was satisfied enough with it, I guess, though in general I’ve found the later books in the saga more disappointing – mostly due to Zoey going all “woe is me” and “my life is STRESS” on us and having to put up with Stevie Rae and every other damn character in the entire series‘s POVs. It was an improvement on Burned, at least, and I’m hoping the upcoming Desired will be even better. It’s still a pretty readable series but Kelley Armstrong’s my newest favourite supernatural writer. I finally got my hands on Industrial Magic, and so read both it and Haunted (which I bought before it 😀 :P) recently. I’m rereading them now, and if I can’t get my hands on Broken, I think I might do a literary marathon and read all the Harry Potter books. Such is me on my summer holidays – I read the entire contents of my book shelf. 🙂

So, update given. It’s not even been a month since my last entry, but it’s felt like twice that. I’ve been offline for about two weeks – due mostly to the crappy computers in our hotel’s lobby. I swear, I had bad karma or something with these, because they ended up shutting down on me before I’d even gotten through half my credit. I just about managed to get through my email inbox in two sessions – the stupid things swallowed €5 of my money, and I didn’t even get as far as Facebook. 😛

I’m planning a site revamp also. You’d never guess this is a sim/story blog thing just by looking at it, so I shall remedy that as soon as I summon up the will and counteract the despair that the thought of tweaking with a WordPress layout fills me with. 😉