Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chapters of 2014

Happy New Year! 2014 was a big one for me. Variety is the key to longevity, I've discovered, as it felt like a much longer year than any other has. It always felt like things were happening--good or bad--and memories were created and shared. Sometimes I picture chapters of my life, and I come up with easy dividers that span years, like, "Frenemies" and "High School" and "Memoirs of a Paraeducator". But this year has had many chapters of its own, so I'll share just a few of them.

Cars Hate Us


I loved my dumb Malibu. Its paint was peeling and it had the worst engine design in the world, but it was my car and I loved it. It failed emissions AND inspections and the parts to fix it would cost more than the car was worth--and the plates expired and it was going to get towed.

Jaron had a very old Accord with foggy windshield problems... and it got stolen. He got another old Accord with battery problems and that got stolen and towed, too. And it failed emissions and inspections. 


We went on a trip to Seattle with a friend, and when we went to return home, it was broken. We duct-taped and zip-tied the battery to the broken part and managed to make it back--she got it fixed, only to be rear-ended at a red light and have her car totaled.

With both of our old cars and their problems making us crazy, Jaron and I decided to make an investment and get a single good car--a beautiful Honda Fit. We drove it for a month. I was rear-ended on the freeway, pushed into another lane, and hit again. It was totaled. Trying to deal with insurance and rental cars and all of that has been a nightmare ever since, even though I literally did nothing wrong. We're still out several thousand dollars. Thanks, whatever evil creature came up with car insurance policies!

The Adorable Diabetic Cat

Luna is a sweet, beautiful Siamese Mix who loves people and has a good sense for how the people around her are feeling. She's thirteen years old now, and while I often treat her like she's my baby, as far as cat development goes she'd be more like my mother's age. 

People will sometimes say, "Wow, isn't she getting old?" Which is rude no matter how you look at it--do you look at people's children and say, "Wow, d'ya think your kid is gonna die yet?"

But I have to admit that Luna is on par for the health problems of an older cat. We discovered that she had diabetes in December of 2013 and had been giving her insulin--though she likely already had ketones poisoning her system (we were not informed about ketones at the time). So when Luna decided food was icky and moving was icky and meowing was icky we rushed her to the animal hospital. 


This was on New Year's. 

During this time, we got much needed hugs from good friends and tons of unwanted advice ("She's old, maybe you should let her go...") from others. But after five days and lots of money spent on treatment, Luna was able to come home, actually feeling even better than she had in years. 

She relapsed five months later, and then we really had no money. But we've learned a lot about taking care of a diabetic cat and although she's not terribly thrilled about being pricked with needles twice a day, she's a much more active and happy cat with her glucose in check.

The Year of Villages


My husband, Jaron, has always loved playing games--now he loves making them, too. Back in 2011, in trying to find new things for our writing group friends to enjoy, Jaron decided to try some basic card game variations. His first attempt at making his own was a twist on rummy he titled Thief. The draw was that one could steal other player's cards for more points--but our friends didn't go for it. But Jaron was determined to make a fun game, and he decided to make his own cards. Then he made cute pixel art, and made each card have a unique ability, and gave them colors... he tweaked and added and pulled and built until he had Villages, a game which we all decided was actually really awesome. With the help of a print-on-demand game site, he put the game up for sale on the internet and later took it to a local convention. 

We sold out.

We took it again the next year, with more copies in tow. We sold out again.

Seeing how the game had its own little market, we wanted to get the game to as many people as possible, and Kickstarter seemed like a good way to go. So we set it up, gave ourselves a goal of $1,000, and finally opened it up on January 4th, 2014.

We met our goal in nine hours.

The Villages Kickstarter was wildly successful, with nearly 3,000 backers by the end of the thirty-day campaign. Of course, this meant we had a lot more work to do than we'd expected, and even with me taking over the PR side of things Jaron had a ton of weight on his shoulders. So we tested new cards, communicated with backers, played the game everywhere we went, worked on printing...

The universe clearly didn't like Villages' success and tried to thwart it in every way possible. Costs rose, timelines slipped, orders were mixed, shorted, or damaged. We had problems with the decks. The dice. The card sleeves. The translations. The dice again. The card sleeves again. It grew into this beast of a campaign that has lasted the entire year. 

We're still working on fulfillment, a full year later.

But it's not all bad. People love the game. They write us to tell us that "My girlfriend hates games but likes this one," "Villages is the only thing on my son's Christmas list" and "My nieces made some custom cards for your game," or my favorite, "Your game inspired me to create something of my own." Villages has been an amazing journey, and I'm incredibly proud of Jaron for making it.

Old vs New

This is a small sampling of the events of this year, but there were easily four or five separate intertwining chapters here. All in all, I'm glad to be alive and I'm even more glad that 2014 is over. 

Now, let's never speak of it again. ;)

-Rachel

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