Sunday, December 13, 2009

Losing a fellow advocate

I found out this morning that the gaming accessibility movement lost an advocate on Friday. Corey Krull, AKA Dis, lost his battle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 37.
Corey truly believed that everyone had a right to game, and his insistence on that right kept me going and trying to find a way to keep playing and raiding. It was also nice to have someone so close to my age understand and echo my point of view.
Godspeed Corey, and rest in peace.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Still here, just not as much

WoW has taken a back seat to real life lately. For the first time in over a year I missed getting an achievement title, but I got to hear my father refer to me as his little daughter one last time. The truth is, WoW has become a reason to sit down at the computer and rest my legs, but I don't have the passion for it I once did. At the same time, the events of the past few weeks have shown me how many friends I have made in this game.

I'm settling in to an acceptance that I am good, but I'm not elite. I was in an Onyxia 25 pug yesterday where I was the 9th highest dpser with 4k, but people didn't do what was necessary to stay alive. I made the comment in guild chat that the pug was so bad it made me look good, and one of the guys said, "Carol, you ARE good." I expected laughter, I expected commisseration, I did not expect to be told I was good.

There are times when I wonder if, when my schedule evens out, if I should find a guild with players at my ability level, that won't constantly push for hard modes but would have a raiding spot for me. Then I think about seeing guild chat without the friends I've come to love, and I say, "no, I'm here, just as long as they are."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Theorycrafting and the Disabled Gamer

After a pug Ony 25, I decided to pose a "trick" question to a couple of the guys in the guild. I say "trick", because it's not easy to be asked your opinion of someone's dps when you know your answer might hurt their feelings. Still, it's easier to hear "I expect pugs to be able to pull 4k dps in ToC 25" from someone who knows your story and cares about you, which is why I ask the difficult questions to the people I am closest to. The ensuing conversation led me to download the latest version of Rawr and take a hard look at what a simulation says my dps should be and how I should be playing. I've also looked at Elitist Jerks for their take on it.
The hard truth is that the dps potential for me as a balance druid is around 5k fully 25-man raid buffed. Realistically, I can get between 3 and 4k. Granted, a balance druid's dps is entirely dependent on how much Eclipse procs, but still, 5k would not be unreasonable if I did not have the limitations I do. Given the fact that there is a disconnect between what I can do and what I should do, it's no wonder I've shied away from theorycrafting.
I've decided that needs to stop. I can only do what I can do, but there is no harm in trying to understand game mechanics so I can use them to my advantage, just like I use the laws of physics to deal with real life challenges.
I'm going to take the conventional wisdom type advice from Elitist Jerks and Rawr, and do some testing on target dummies. One question I have is if my current rotation of Moonfire>Insect Swarm>Wrath until eclipse is the best, or if IS should be first. Another question is that I don't generally waste a global cooldown by refreshing MF and IS during an eclipse, is that the right decision? We'll see how things go.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finding the Courage to Pug

Sunday night, after I finished making dinner, I decided to hang out in Dalaran a while. The fishing daily was Jewel of the Sewers, and I thought it might be a good way to level fishing on the druid (as opposed to hanging out in Orgrimmar or Ironforge, trying to catch Old Crafty or Old Ironjaw, like I did on the lock). I ended up finding a 10 man Ony pug, and a 10 man ToC pug.
Pugging with strangers is completely different than pugging with my guildies. In the guild, I'm treated like a sister. The guys will give me as much shit as they think they can without looking like jerks, but if anyone from outside says anything, they immediately close ranks around me. So, going off on my own while they were in Ulduar took a little bit of courage. Still, if I want to do 10-mans, and really see where the barriers are, I have to pug.
Overall, it went pretty well. I didn't blow anyone away with my dps, but I did outdps the tanks. Yesterday, in a VoA 10 pug, I was able to outdamage a rogue, and almost outdpsed him.
The most important thing is that I came out of the experience at the end of the raid week feeling positive about myself. That is win.

Friday, October 30, 2009

No excuses

"I am entitled to overcome" - Creed, Overcome

A couple of interesting things happened this week. First, WoW.com featured one of the members of AbleGamers, Quadilious, in their 15 Minutes of Fame segment. Something about seeing the title "Quadriplegic player attacks progression raiding" hit me. One of the reasons, of course, was my feeling that a disability should not define a person. Yes, my disability is a big part of who I am, but if I ever caught one of my guildies referring to me as "the handicapped chick" or anything similar, the ensuing conversation would not be pleasant. Another reason is that Quad is so good, despite having to use adaptive hardware, that it puts me to shame.

The feeling that I'm hiding behind excuses and that there should be a way for me to be able to do endgame hard modes is a hard one to shake. At the same time, most of the guys I play with are in the computer field, and have been playing MMORPG's since EverQuest. If there was an easy way for me to work around my challenges, we would have found it. The sad reality is that Blizzard has used reaction time and coordination to differentiate the elite players from the nonelite. That leaves someone like me, who is extremely intelligent but has poor reaction time and coordination, out in the cold. When my former GM said, "If we were a hardcore guild, we wouldn't have Carol...in here dying," there was truth to it. That doesn't change the fact that I want titles, and I would love to have a red proto-drake and a rusted proto-drake. I don't see it happening though, and I don't want to make the guys feel like they have to pull me through content that is too difficult for me. I also don't want to put them in a position of telling me content is too difficult for me. There are a few of them that I can gently coax it out of without them feeling like jerks for saying it, and the discussions I have with them are valuable.

Last night, I got home, and the horde guild was running a ToC 25 pug. After a little bit, I got a tell, "want to come in, we're on twins and I hate to save you this late." I don't really like pugging with just anybody, I faction transferred to play with my friends, and so I agreed. It was extremely interesting - I saw over 4k dps on twins, which I was NEVER able to get on my warlock. Got to Anub, wiped once, and then got set to go again. During one of the burrow phases, I got targeted by the spikes. Now the trick to handling the spikes is to run them away from the raid, and put a patch of ice between you and the spikes, which both traps Anub for a second or two, and causes him to select another target. As I was running to the far side of a rather large ice patch, trying not to get the slowing debuff from actually getting ON the ice, I heard one of the guys say, "Look at you, running him all around so he will target fewer people." I was just concentrating on not running him into the raid and getting him in the ice, I didn't think about the fact that kiting him for a while really helps the raid. It's always nice when your performance is noticed because it's good, especially with a group of people who have watched you struggle.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WoW as a social outlet

A lot has been made of people who use video games as a way of avoiding social contact. Very few people talk about the fact that for some people, WoW is a way of maintaining human contact.

(Saying here what I can't say in game or in vent) I'm in a very dark place right now. My depression has always had a seasonal component, although last year I was spared, probably due to the fact that I was working and also had a lot of people around me online due to the new expansion. Whatever the reason, it was nice. This year, however, it's back with a vengeance and for reasons I didn't anticipate when I changed factions on the druid. I've learned that I have limited time left with my dad, and I'm starting to grieve already. Usually this would be a time when I would try to withdraw from everyone, but I can't let myself. I hang out, just to see how my friends are doing, and when I'm too quiet, reminders that I'm allowed to talk make me smile.

There have honestly been times when I've wondered why I'm still playing WoW, since I can't do hard modes. I still have fun doing normal modes, and working on achievements, but the most important reason is the friends I've made. I can hang out and be myself, and that is what I love.

Monday, October 5, 2009

You Can't DPS When You're Dead!

That old chestnut was brought home to me last night as I ran a ToC 25 pug with some of the guildies on the druid. When I first came in to CRC, especially as we were working on Archimonde, what I heard over and over was, "We don't care what dps you do, just don't die."
In Naxx, it became, "Don't worry about your dps, just don't die and don't kill anyone."
Over the past 15 months, I've gotten pretty good at learning to keep myself alive.
Last night, after a boss attempt, I peeked at the damage meter. I'm an addict, I'll admit it, but I always know where I am, because somebody's always watching. What I found in looking at Recount was that there were people below me in overall damage that had higher dps than me, for the simple reason that I keep myself alive. I don't rely on the healers to notice that I have low health if I can healthstone, pot, or lifebloom, and I don't go all out before the tank has threat.
Not every fight is a dps race. Sometimes a moderate, yet constant pace is enough to win. Think about that before you require 4k dps on your next pug.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reinventing Myself

I get mentally restless easily, I'm not quite sure why. It may be because my brain is often so far ahead intellectually of what it can tell my body to do. Regardless of why it happens, I tend to find the need to change things up every few years.

The decision to retire the warlock from raiding was sort of made for me, but if I had been party to the discussion of the future of the guild, I probably would have made the same decision. I don't want to have to get a new guild used to me, I don't want to have to explain myself, and I am fully aware of how unique the first two GMs and the pre-Ulduar officers of CRC are. Of course, there's also the factor of my ever-changing work schedule and kids' activities getting in the way of raiding.

I'm finding myself playing the druid more and more, for several reasons. One is that there is more to do on her that I actually can do than there is on the lock. Another is that it is more enjoyable to hang out with a group of old friends, even if I'm not raiding with them, than hang around a dying guild waiting for an invitation that will never come, and even if it did, I'm not sure I would accept.

Tuesday night, I had logged on my druid, and had gotten in a group to do the heroic, so was on vent at raid time. The raid was one dps short, looking to Onyxia, ToC regular, and then move on to ToC heroic. I was debating whether or not to whisper the raid leader and offer my services when one of the guys said, "Let's get Carol in here and get this done." I love the way it's assumed I will come, which is definitely the main advantage of being with friends.

Anyway, we got through Ony, VoA, and most of ToC before another dps came on, and I stepped out, feeling very much wanted and appreciated. I'm also enjoying playing the boomkin, and it seems to work pretty well. Also, between raiding and heroic dailies, I had enough emblems of triumph to upgrade my gloves from tier 7 to tier 9! I'm still struggling with the hit cap, though. Don't quite know how to overcome that one, but I'm not noticing any misses, so I'm not going to worry too much.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What a Long Strange Trip it's Been



::::Surpressing the urge to sing Grateful Dead songs::::

After a year of hard work and a lot of fun, I completed all of the achievements for the violet proto-drake on the warlock. It feels good to wrap up some of these achievements, but it also makes me a little sad about what is and what will never be. For now, though, I'll just enjoy zipping around on my pretty purple dragon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A New Beginning, and Onyxia 25

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." - Robert Frost


When faction changes went live and it became apparent how many of the people I enjoy playing with were going horde, I debated taking the druid over, but as I said to Oct, I couldn't see myself as a cow. I did know, however, that eventually I was going to retire the warlock.


In the end, I decided to go where my friends were - the druid is now a tauren, and I am in a 10-man raiding guild as a social member. I was rewarded Tuesday night with a ninja-invite to do the Brewfest boss. I'm not going to be actively raiding, but I can when they need me to.

Friday night, I got home from work, did a little bit of levelling on the Paladin to get her a little farther and spend some time with the CRC crew like a good GM, then logged in to the druid to socialize, relax, and work on tournament dailies. I was greeted by my friends before I got off the loading screen. I did my jousting and was heading over to the citadel when Rod asked in gchat, "Carol - Ony 25?" I had to say yes.

The revamped Onyxia encounter is a lot of fun. I never got to do the classic version in a 40-man with the level 60 character, but they did a good job of keeping the elements, scaling it, and making it easier to avoid breaths (at least on normal mode). We only wiped once, which is good for a pug. I had over 3k dps on the wipe, and 2.2k dps on the kill, for my Naxx geared toon. That says something about what the dps on the boomkin will be like once I get better gear.

At the end of the night, when I was getting ready to log, I was told by Rod that I did a great job, and that he was glad I came along. Experiences like that are why I rolled horde, and I appreciate Rod and Dem for giving me a place to land.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The End is Here

"Waste our time with words that seem to break our will, they bind us still. Without a care, they tarnish what we hold so dear, what was once so clear." ~ Alter Bridge, The End is Here

I've struggled with how much to write about the events of the past few days, partially because it is so painful, and partially because I needed to make sure my blog wasn't the first place people heard about it.

I don't really feel like going into detail here, but a meeting was held Tuesday night without me to discuss the future of CRC, several raid members, including the GM, left to form a hardcore 10 man raiding guild, and I was promoted to GM after being informed that CRC would now be a casual guild.

For all intents and purposes, Clan Redundancy Clan is no more. However, that in no way cheapens what it was or what we did. We got progression content and were a top alliance guild on the server while maintaining real lives, and never forgetting that there were real people behind the toons.

As for me, I'm retiring from raiding, at least until the paladin hits 80. At that point I'll reevaluate what I want to do. I probably won't be writing very much, because I'm not sure I'll have much to write.

Those of you who have read this blog as kindred spirits, thank you. I have appreciated your friendship and insights greatly.

Those of you who have read this blog to learn, thank you for being here and opening your mind.

Those of you who have read this blog to offer support, I'm tearing up as I write this. Your friendship and caring has made a huge difference to me over the past year or so, and especially through everything that's happened over the past nine months. Thank you for caring, for understanding, and most of all, for being willing to learn. Y'all rock.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day to Remember

A high school friend of mine asked everyone to share where they were on September 11, 2001. I will never forget, in the same way that I remember where I was when Challenger blew up, when the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed, and the way my parents will never forget where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked or when Kennedy was assassinated.

I was sitting at my desk at work, and my co-worker was talking to his wife. He hung up the phone, and said in a sad voice, "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center." I went to find my friend who had a radio at her desk, and then called Bryan to see if he knew. After the plane hit the Pentagon, I thought of my parents, who were visiting Washington, and my brother, who worked in northern Virginia. I spent a lot of time burning up the phone lines with my sister, just making sure everyone was okay (we had a family point of contact before the Department of Homeland Security was even formed). I remember the somber feeling that fell over the whole office area, and how surreal it was walking out onto the plant floor after that.

I remember hearing the stories of loss, and of heroism. I remember America mourning as a country, and coming together to try to heal. I remember the world standing with us in grief and support.

I will never forget 9/11/01, and I hope I never do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A House Divided

Last night, it was 15 minutes past invite time, 15 minutes until raid, when I got home from taking my son to practice. As we settled in to see what was going on, Oct made a revelation: he was considering a faction change. He had stumbled upon a guild website, saw that they were recruiting a fire mage, and talked to the GM. His only concern was not being able to take me with him, which really doesn't matter; he couldn't take me to Conviction either, and that worked out okay.

So he's gone, and I'm a little sad. I miss being able to whisper him when he's raiding and can't hear with his headset on. However, the raid times work a lot better for when I need him to deal with parenting stuff, and he's been looking for a guild like Escalation for a long time.

Where does that leave me? Right where I am. I have no desire to leave my friends, so I intend to stay, at least until I see how things shake out. At least now if I get passed over for pugs, I won't have to know that Oct was asked first, and that I wasn't wanted.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Women have the cleanest minds; they keep changing them.

My friend Mark used to say that quite cynically when we were in college, but there's some truth to it. I tend to get very upset, especially when I'm tired or hurting, and then calm down later.

Yesterday was a crazy day - nothing like not being able to find your teenager for a half hour to put some silly video game issues into perspective. Oct had told me that the guild was probably going to do Ulduar with pugs, so I wasn't feeling like I had to log into the lock, however, when I got home after scouts, he was in trial of the crusader with his raid window open and I saw one open slot. Decision time: Do I get on a horde toon and ignore my guildies, or make myself available to a group of people who have made me feel unwanted? Added to that fact, the only televised game that my alma mater will have this year was on, so I had to decide if I wanted to watch the Wolfpack lose.

In the end, though, I told Oct to ask Larry if he needed me and logged on. It seemed like the right thing to do, and it would be nice to get a second piece of tier. First attempt on Twins, I stayed in affliction, since I had been running heroics. After that, I went demo. I found out something interesting about my dps in those attempts. Demonic Pact procs often enough that I do equal or higher dps as demo than I do in affliction.

After downing Twins, we got a few attempts in on Anub'arak. There is a sizable learning curve to it, but it was okay. I realized that I am still enjoying raiding, and despite all my challenges, I'm a good player. At the end of the day, talking to a friend on vent about what was going on in his life and sharing a little bit about my frustrations made me realize that this is where I belong.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oh, the times, they are a-changin'

Faction transfers went live this week, and it's going to change the complexion of my guild, even more than it already has due to real life. It's no longer a nuturing home for me, where I know that I will get invites not because I'm pro, but because I'm fun and giving and caring.

In the past couple of weeks, I have learned some hard truths about the current leadership of the guild. When an officer pulls in pugs rather than wait 5 minutes for me to come back from being afk, but is willing to wait 15 minutes for one of the leet dpsers rather than pull me in, what am I supposed to think?

Like I said, the guild is changing, and yet, the friendships I've made haven't. People who have left the guild still read this blog (hi qtpis), as do people who have retired from raiding (I'm trying to keep this as positive as I can for you). The thing that keeps this whole situation from feeling like the one I left a year and a half ago is that people do care. People who came on last night to check in before retiring or switching to horde took the time to whisper and say goodbye.

Oct and I both got trophies for tier 9 Tuesday night, and that makes me feel a little guilty about what I want to do, which is focus on the paladin. Honestly, though, if I look at why I'm not having fun on the lock, I feel like I don't owe the guild anything. Tonight when I get home from running kids, I'm not even sure I'll log on to her, unless someone asks Oct to have me do it.

Those of you who do care, and have given me your shoulders to cry on, thank you. Dev and Boom, love you guys, appreciate your leadership even when I gave you grief, and wish both of you continued success in real life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"It's Only a Game"

That's what Bryan said to me last night, when I was fuming about something or other that happened in game. My response to him was, "That's easy for you to say, you have been getting invites to work on achievements you don't even need." Eventually, I think he realized that my mood was more the product of my aching legs than taking the game too seriously and he backed off to let me work through it.

It seems to me that the phrase, "it's only a game" is used to justify mistreating someone. As a dear friend remarked yesterday, when I was asking her if my recent posts have been too harsh on certain people, sometimes players forget that there is a real person behind the avatar.

I am a real person with real feelings, and those I game with have a choice in how they treat me. They can be one more person who finds it necessary to hurt me because I'm different, or they can be the one who lets me know that despite all my flaws, I'm worth having around.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Tyranny of the "What If?"

I'm going to get philosophical, but it's better than the rages that Bryan doesn't understand and send him running to check the calendar.

Life is a mix of pleasure and pain, and WoW is no exception. I play a game that I enjoy, at a level that I enjoy (most of the time), with people I enjoy. However, there are frequent reminders of how different I am, and it's beyond my control.

Oct got his priest to 80 this week, and I'm getting to see how different it would be playing Kyrania if I didn't have CP by watching him. I'm starting to feel like I'm being compared to Oct again, and it hurts. As much as I love being guilded with him again, at times I wish he'd never come back. There are factors in marriages where one spouse is disabled and the other isn't that most couples never have to consider. When my husband declines to run something, and the group pugs someone rather than ask me, I feel immensely jealous.

A couple things have happened over the past week that have made me feel quite marginalized in the guild. It's leaving me feeling stranded, like there is nowhere I belong. I don't have the twitch and reaction time to run with the big dogs, and yet, I'm hardcore enough in my personality that a guild that doesn't have a lot of raiding discipline would drive me crazy. That's when the "what ifs" take over. What if I didn't have CP and could react to things fast enough? I listen to Bryan push buttons and wonder how he manages to cast so quickly and not get hung up on the global cooldown.

I know Bryan sees me hurting, and he's powerless to fix it. I'm sure it's been a relief to him when I've gone to Baelgun to level my paladin when I don't know how to deal with the pain without causing drama.

At the end of the wall of what if's, this truth remains: I am unique, and I have found a guild that has embraced that uniqueness. One of my friends told me last week, while trying to take the bite out of something that was said in my hearing, "I don't play with you because you're pro, I play with you because I like you." If that can't be enough, I need to stop playing altogether.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The End of an Era

With a few tears, I deleted my alliance character on Baelgun. I never play her, some of the people I made her to keep in touch with no longer play, and to many of the others, I am a distant memory.

I left Baelgun for Turalyon amid guild drama that I was blamed for, but someone else started. Granted, I could have handled things differently, but so could others. Live and learn.
Still, the finality of typing "delete" into the box wasn't easy. I may make a horde toon to say hi to a friend who plays over there, I don't know. Right now, I've been concentrating on my warlock, who is okay as demo.

I'm hitting a wall where I'm very discouraged in-game, similar to what I went through around February and March. The difference now is that real life is livable, and WoW has become less important, although the people I play with have not.

Although I'm grieving for friendships I have lost, I treasure the ones I have now. To be valued for who I am, not what I can do, is special.

PS: I now have a Blood Elf Paladin on Baelgun. Not level 10 yet, but I'm enjoying her.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Titles, Mounts, and Pets!

It's summer, so raiding has took a bit of a back seat around the guild. I've been spending time working on achievements. The bottom picture is of me with the results of a few of my rep grinds. I got the Wintersaber mount, and the diplomat title. The top picture is of me in Archmage Vargoth's room right after he gave me the Kirin Tor Familiar. I'd spent a little bit of time this past week camping the locations, and I had some good luck with spawns. Last night, after raid, I decided to go to the spawn point of the last book I needed, and it was there! As soon as I clicked it and the achievement flashed on my screen, I heard on vent, "Grats, Carol. Now where's the book?" I love my guildies!
As another update, we're 2/5 in Trial of the Crusader, and are making steady progress on the third event. I'll talk more about the whole instance later - it's quite different.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Losing an Advocate

I haven't really posted about WoW (or anything) much lately, and I really should update on all the achievements I've gotten lately, but I wanted to do a tribute to someone whose work touches on the reason for this blog.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away this past week. She was a tireless advocate for the disabled, and founded Special Olympics. In doing so, she made acceptable the idea that barriers to recreational activities should not exist for the disabled.

When I was disagnosed in 1975, my mother went to the local independent living center where she taught classes, and asked them what they could do for me. The response she got was that she should be happy that I could do so much. I look back on that, and look back on the past 30 years and all the games I've given up playing and all the activities I've stopped doing, and it doesn't seem fair to me.

Is it wrong to want access to everything a nondisabled person can do? Mrs. Shriver didn't think so, and she helped disabled people take their place in society with their heads held high, rather than feeling ashamed of being disabled. God bless you, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Raid, John Hughes, and Free Speech?

Today's post is going to be kind of a mishmash of things. A lot of things are happening online and in real life that have me thinking about what it really means to be disabled in America, and with 3.2 coming out this week, I feel like I have to talk about raiding.

I went into Trial of the Crusader on 10-man on Wednesday night, and 25-man on Thursday night. Blizzard has decided to introduce the instances in stages, similar to the way Sunwell was unlocked. They are introducing one boss per raiding week until all five are out, and you cannot do heroic mode until you have finished normal mode. It's a bit of a pain, but it also keeps the Ulduar guilds going back in. The first event is very interesting, and requires a good bit of coordination, but we were able to get it down.

Yesterday around raid time, I read the news that John Hughes has passed away. I came of age with many of his movies like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink. He captured the '80s teen culture like no one else could, and created characters that teenagers could identify with. The messages he sent about being yourself and looking beyond labels still resonate with me today, as I look at my own teenager.

The last observation is from a facebook comment one of my friends made regarding a campaign to remove the phrase "that's so gay" from people's vocabulary. The comment characterized campaigns like these as interfering with free speech. Yes, free speech means that you can use "gay" or "retarded" (my hot button word) in a negative way, but just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it's right to do. Also, the way we use words that refer to certain groups reflects how we feel about those groups, and marginalizes them. This is a really hard topic for me to talk about, because I risk making people I care about defensive, or hurting their feelings, and that's the last thing I want, but I can't stay silent about it anymore. Words reflect attitudes, and attitudes are hard to change. Think about what you're saying when you use those terms, please, that's all I ask.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Content - Yay! Server Lag - Boo!

Yesterday was patch day, and I awoke to storms and a power outage before I went to work, or at least attempted to. The lightning strike that disrupted power to my subdivision also disrupted the power to the shopping center where I work. After a couple of hours, the power came back on, and I went to work, expecting WoW to be up when I got home.
When I walked in the door, my son told me he'd been looking at the realm status, and that Turalyon was still down. After a while, found an update that realms would be up by 3 PST, or an hour before raid time.
I went to make dinner, and as I was finishing it up, the server came online. Spent way too much time at loading screens, but looked at new jewelcrafting stuff, the new orphan quest, and my new druid forms. Given how horrible the lag was, we decided not to raid, but some of us went into the new 5-man instance. It was interesting - very different, and a bit of a learning curve, but interesting.
I've mentioned before that this summer, real life is hitting the members of CRC very hard. I'm hoping the new content brings some of them back. I miss my friends, and wonder how they are.
Last night, after the 5-man, a group of guys decided to try out a 10-man raid. They asked Oct, but not me, and I tried not to let my feelings get hurt. You can't talk about my dps without getting personal, because my disability, which is a part of me, affects my gameplay. However, what I learned in the process of going to social member was a reiteration of a lesson that I learned through nine years of competitive swimming. There's more to life than being the fastest or the best. Sometimes just quietly fighting can do more to pick people up than anything.
I've come a long way, in game and in real life, and that's enough.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Confessions of a gaming Mom

I worked a total of 10 hours yesterday, and then five today. Yes, I'm crazy, but someone called in, I was available, and we could use the money, so I went home for a couple of hours and went back in.
I don't usually talk about my kids in the blog. My older son (the aptly named Landsponge) has a elemental shaman that just hit 80 this week. I had played WoW during the break between shifts, and told him he could log in and run some heroics to get gear. Oct decided to get in on the weekly alt Naxx run that one of the raiding guilds does, and asked Sponge if he'd like to come. Now, the casual guild Sponge was in recently was absorbed by the guild I was in for CRC, and they have a very strict no-pugging rule. I don't think Sponge knew it, and Oct wouldn't remember or think about it, so in Sponge went, and did well. He followed directions and was polite, and was rewarded with gear and achievements. Unfortunately, the achievements caught the eye of his guildleader, who informed him he wasn't a good fit for the guild, and kicked him.
I heard all about it when I got home, and my initial reaction was of a mama bear protecting her cubs. That Sponge also has special needs really made me want to ask the guildleader to give him a pass, because he probably didn't understand the rule. Then I reminded myself that I had pretty strong reservations about Sponge joining my old guild, because I didn't think he'd be a good fit. Today while I was at work, Sponge found a guild with another teenager in leadership, and seems happy.
My reaction surprised me, as it's so easy for me to want to be Mom in WoW, and make things easier for him like I want to do in real life. I have to remind myself not to do it too much in real life also, knowing that my mom's support was good, but her rescues didn't teach me to cope with the effects of all my disorders.
In the end, though, the fact that he followed directions and was well-behaved made his parents very proud, puts him ahead of some adult players, and means that he will be welcomed back into pugs with elite players. That is win.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Doing great, but not good enough?

Day off today, after two straight days of working. I'm on my feet all day when I work, so after a couple of days, my hips start to feel like they are filled with sand. I try to keep pushing and get as much work done around the house as I can, but the question always comes to my mind, "how many years do I have left that I can do this?" When I was turning 30, I wasn't sure how much mobility I'd have at 40. Now with 40 just around the corner, I know I will greet next January able to walk, but I also know I'll be lucky to have 10 more years before it's time to look at mobility aids beyond the bright blue cane that I use around the house occasionally.

Like I said before, real life is intruding upon on the guild in a major way. Almost a quarter of our raiding core is in the process of some sort of positive life change right now. This means I'm getting to raid more, but it also means I'm finding myself in places I was never expecting to be.

Last night, the guild was working on Hodir hard mode. Dev and I pretty much had an unspoken agreement that I would not be in for this fight. However, since we had four mages, two warlocks, two elemental shamans, and two hunters, it made sense to go for it.

The Hodir hard mode achievement requires buff and debuff management and killer dps. Ironically, since breaking out the NPC's is a higher priority in hard mode, and standing in toasty fire is essential, I had that buff for most of the fight on all attempts, and that allowed me to do well over 5000 dps, and thanks to storm cloud, I had some shadow bolts crit for over 30,000 damage.

After one attempt, Dev read off the ranged dps in order from greatest to least damage, in order to see what the tops dpsers were doing that the lower dpsers were not. I wasn't really feeling picked on at first, although I had to stop myself from saying "this is my first night of hard mode" in vent. I hate being taken to task over the damage meter like I'm not doing all I can, and I had to say to myself, "Car, if you want Dev and Larry to treat you like a normal raider, you can't get defensive when they do." As Dev was asking what Flip and I weren't doing that everyone else was, I heard one of the guys say, "Wait a second, Carol did 5800 dps on that fight, she's doing great." There was not an ounce of pity in his voice, just an acknowledgement of the journey, and the fact that I worked just as hard for my 5800 as Tide did for his 14000.

As my and Flip's spec was being discussed (we play the same spec because we like it and it works) and Oct was increasingly getting concerned that I was going to get all upset and cry or raise my voice in vent, I was able to stay calm. Conventional wisdom says destro>affliction for that fight. Conventional wisdom doesn't know me or what I can do. Can I do enough dps for hard mode? I don't know. Will I get the chance to try? I hope so. Will we realize that we influence what other people can do on this fight? I hope that too.

There's a bit of "if I knew then what I know now" in my reflecting on the Hodir fight in general. When I was begging for help on the forums, no one said, "we can make the mages a priority so you should be able to get close to a toasty fire." A change made to benefit my dps would benefit everyone, not just me. Maybe I should have been more assertive, I don't know. It's just hard to realize how a small change could have made all the difference for me, and painful to feel like I wasn't important enough to help. That sounds harsh, I know, but take it for what it's worth.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's quiet, a little toooo quiet...

Not a whole lot is going on in the game right now. I'm still working on achievements on the lock and gearing up the boomkin. I no longer need to use WoW to escape the pain, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by friends who don't want to keep me in that place.

Summer tends to be a time when people want to pull back from raiding. College students often go home, where they may not have the quality of internet access or time to raid, homeowners have projects around the house, and people want to do more outside. We're in a lull right now, and it's giving me time to pull back and reflect.

I don't need the blog as much any more, so I won't be taking the time to write as often. I appreciate those of you who read it, and have let me know that you read it. I'll stay in touch with those of you I have met through the blog as well. Cheers!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Druids and Pugs, revisited

Well, another raid week has come and gone without me stepping foot in Ulduar, except this week it was work and parenting conflicts that kept me out. I've done a little bit of pugging on the druid this week, and got some good upgrades out of Naxx. I'm still fooling with my spell rotation a bit, and realized that I had part of it backwards.
Pugs are funny entities. On my server, a lot of the Naxx pugs, and even some Ulduar 10 pugs, are being run by casual guilds. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it does lead to some sloppy and inefficient raid behavior. I have some thoughts for anyone who wants to pug:

  • If you are the raid leader, checking gear scores on alts is a waste of time. Especially if the person is in a guild that has killed Yogg-Saron in heroic, they probably know what they're doing and their main could kick your ass.
  • Along with that, members of top raiding guilds are generally safe invites. They generally will respect others (as long as they aren't complete idiots who can't take constructive criticism), won't ninja-afk, and will roll only on upgrades. Plus, officers and members of raiding guilds have an image to maintain, so they take complaints about ninjas seriously (Boom and Dev, correct me if I'm wrong on this pl0x).
  • If you want to be the raid leader, step up and lead, or people will walk all over you and you will have a train wreck on your hands. I don't raid lead anymore because I have so many friends that do it better, I make them leader even if I start invites.
  • Don't post the damage meter in raid after every boss fight. Better yet, don't post it at all. If someone is struggling, putting him or her down won't help, and it's awfully annoying.
  • Run a boss mod, either Deadly Boss Mods or BigWigs. I don't care how bad your computer is, unless you have amazing reflexes, you need the warnings. If you computer can't support it, you have no business raiding.
  • If you need to go afk, don't do it right before a boss kill. That wastes everyone's time, and can kill a pug. Also, make sure you let the raid leader know, and apologize to everyone.
  • Fly to the instance. If you are in the old world and your hearth is down, you may respectfully ask for a summon while apologizing for the inconvenience. And if someone gets there first and summons you before you start flying, say thank you.
  • Remember your manners. The players I truly respect and admire in this game are the ones that are polite as well as skilled. I look very closely at how people treat me.
  • Only roll on loot that you really need, and if you are getting a lot of loot, it's time to stop rolling.

Happy raiding!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why, Carol, why?

Long maintenance today. Decided to stop procrastinating and completely redo my addons. I'm trying to make a more efficient UI for the lock, plus need a new addon to make managing eclipse easier on the boomkin. Yesterday after I respecced, a took a quick look at my character screen, thought haste was hit, and concluded that I was hit capped. It was only after Oct asked, "How can you be hit capped with no hit gear?" that I realized my mistake. Oops. Guess I'll be cutting some monarch topazes today and getting an icewalker chant on my boots. Still, I was able to get into a OS 25 pug and did 2021 dps on Sarth with a hit rating of 85. Hard to do leet dps when half your attacks miss, but it did give me an idea of what I can do once I get hit capped, especially since I'm not sure I did 2k on the last Sarth attempt on the warlock before the Ulduar patch hit.

Had an interesting conversation with one of my guildies a couple of days ago where he asked me why I would consider leaving the guild. It's hard to say, "because in other guilds, I wouldn't have to sit, and there are times when I feel like I'm holding the raid back when I'm in." I've said that pre-Ulduar, and gotten lectures about it. I'd be unhappy in a different guild, and I know it.

Anyway, the blog is where I say things that I don't want to say in guild because it could cause drama. My guildies and the leadership are free to read my blog, or not, and take it to heart, or not. This is where I share my frustrations, not only about the game, but about being disabled in America. Gaming brings out awareness of barriers and attitudes that don't always come to the forefront in real life. This isn't always a bad thing - the hurt that I kept buried deep inside fed a horrible cycle of depression that I'm finally feeling free from.

When I look at different guilds, that's all I'm doing. I don't regret joining CRC a year ago, and I hope that Dev doesn't regret inviting me and making me a raid member. Given that I've given him ample opportunity to say otherwise, I don't think he does.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This wasn't what I meant when I talked about finding a balance!

Last night, Dev was talking to me before raid about possibly having to switch me out for the Yogg fight, and out of the blue said, "I want you to research boomkin. I think it might be easier and it might let me get you in more." So after raid, I went to Elitist Jerks and did enough reading to realize that this might actually work for me. I respecced and bought new glyphs today. In the little bit of playing around on the target dummy that I did (while realizing that my tier gear is all wrong for moonkin), I realized that this really does have potential. I'm not saying I don't want to play my warlock anymore (all those achievements!), but I'd like to explore the druid as long as it fills a need within the guild.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

10-man Ulduar clear!

The night after downing Yogg in heroic mode, I had the chance to go in and finish a 10-man Ulduar run that had been started earlier. Honestly, I wasn't feeling too good about it. There's been a lot of talk lately about recruiting another boomkin or shadow priest for the hit buff, but we have so many dpsers now that we can't take all of them in. I'm concerned that if we recruit another ranged dps, there will be no more room for me. I'm taking this whole situation incredibly personally, and am glad that Dev has said that recruitment stays closed.

We got a little bit of a late start, and there were a few bumps in the road along the way. It is so hard for me to not blame myself and not feel like I completely fail in a group. It's hard to feel like everyone is looking at me like I can't execute. Sometimes playing a MMO takes me back 30 years, and brings up painful memories of growing up disabled in a nondisabled world. The people around me who get it give me a precious gift in their understanding.
On our last attempt, we got Yogg-Saron down. No tears this time, just relief. There are still a lot of times when there is a disconnect between my raiding behavior and what my brain will let me do. I know I'm in the guild where I belong, but sometimes I wonder if I should be in a guild where I can contribute more. In the end, I'm here, and unless Dev tells me he wants me out of the raiding core (or hell freezes over), here I will stay.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ulduar is no longer a Secret!

We did it! We got everyone through Ulduar. The tears that didn't come when I took this screenshot are coming now. I knew this would be the week Thursday night, when Dem had to sub me out for Freya, and let me know by saying, "I will get you back in for Yogg."
All the hard conversations I've had over the past five or six months with Dem and Boom culminated in Boom and my positions being switched in the raid frame, and me coming in while he listened on vent. I can't say enough about those two young men who have taken the time to understand me and treat me with respect and dignity. Faced with the choice between what is right and what is easy, they have chosen to acknowledge my contributions to the success of the guild by letting me maintain my raid spot and get the achievements I have helped the guild attain.
It's been a rough road, and a journey I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to make. Thanks to all of CRC for making this happen! Special thanks to a couple of very special guys who convinced me to stick with the guild when I was wanting to quit pre-Ulduar (and who are probably not reading this anyway).
Onward and upward! ::::Gets out pompoms for cheering on hard modes::::

Friday, June 26, 2009

Anniversary week!

Two wonderful things happened yesterday. I got the Flame Warden meta-achievement done (finally!) and I got to be in some Ulduar boss fights, including a Kologarn where we got the Disarmed achievement.

A year ago today, I took my husband's suggestion and applied to Clan Redundancy Clan. My previous experience with joining him in a raiding guild was not positive, so I had a lot of fear and trepidation. The last thing I wanted was to come into the guild as "Oct's wife", afraid that people would either expect me to be a carbon copy of Oct or not want to say anything to me about my dps for fear of pissing him off. When I got to the part of the application that asked, "Do you know anyone in our guild?" I asked Oct if I should say he was my husband. He said, "yes," so I put it down, and mentioned the other friends I had in the guild. I finished the application, submitted it, and waited to hear from one of the officers. I didn't even think about checking my application thread until a few days later, when Oct looked at the guild forums and said, "Dev wants you to talk to him or Lucky in game."

Lucky was on, so I sent him a tell, and after a brief interview, he told me to let him know when I was ready for an invite. I told him I wanted to say goodbye to my old guild, and let the guild leaders know why I was leaving, and he respected that.

I explained to Daylin what was going on, and he asked me to let the leader who scheduled our raid times know. While I was waiting for her to come on, Oct got into his raid group for Mt. Hyjal and said, "Dev wants to know if you want to come in - we have a spot open." I thought about it for a minute - pugging meant a no-questions-asked gkick in my former guild - and decided to go for it anyway. When I got in the raid, my friend Veraya said, "Carol!" her husband Nyru said, "Carol!" and I immediately felt at home. As we were going through Frostwhisper trash, I got a tell from one of the tanks in my guild, "what are you doing in there?" I explained to him that I had already told Daylin I was leaving, and that I was just waiting for Snow to come on. He reminded me that if I was caught, I'd be kicked, and left it at that.

A short while later, I got a tell from Dev that a guild member had come on, and he needed me to step out. He thanked me for coming and told me he looked forward to having me in guild. Later, when Snow got online, I explained to her, and then the guild, what was going on. I left the guild, and found enough of a break in the action to send Dev a tell for an invite to guild.

I don't think I have ever been welcomed to a guild as warmly as I was to CRC, and I know I didn't blow anyone away with my skill as a shadow priest. I think I was expecting the guild to be full of guys with huge egos and to be treated rather harshly if I didn't measure up to their standards. What I found was that the guild is full of guys and ladies who are willing to give constructive criticism and suggestions.

I think the defining moment for me as a member of CRC came shortly after I got the warlock to 80 and the guild was in 25 man Naxx. It was a morning when only Dem and I were on, and I was getting ready to go to work. I said to him, "I don't think you'll need me, but if you do I'll be back around 8:30." He said, "Don't say it like that" and gave me the first of many pep talks. That was when I realized how much I was valued as a member of the guild.

It's been an interesting and fun year, one that has seen CRC go from a middle of the road guild in BC to one of the top progression guilds on the server in Wrath. Personally, I've learned how to survive encounters, and actually had 3.9k dps on Deconstructor.

Thanks for a great year, guys, and I hope to have many more together.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

At last, Loremaster!!!

This afternoon, in the quiet village of Auberdine, I achieved what I have been working on for a few weeks now: The Loremaster.
Immediately after this screenshot was taken, I was bombarded by congratulations from the guild. :-)
Another exciting development happened last night, when I got my 4th piece of tier 8 from a 10-man Ulduar run.
Congrats to the team from CRC that did 10 man Sartherion with 3 drakes up last night.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Legacy of "Passing"

Rare real-life whine here, just because I need to sit down for a few minutes.
I'm in a lot of pain today. My knees and hips feel like they have sand in the joints. Got up early, even before Bryan's alarm went off, and felt pretty good. Went through everything I want to get accomplished today in my head. After breakfast and a few minutes of putting away dishes, I went to the pill drawer for tylenol. Shortly after Bryan left, it was time for naproxen. I still hurt, but I can't do anything other than hope that frequent breaks will help.
On a break last week, while running a heroic, Gutts asked, "why are you hurting? what did you do?" I tried to explain that I didn't really do anything, that it's just part of life, but it felt strange.
I try not to fall into self-pity on the high pain days, try not to wonder how long I'll be able to walk and what happens when I no longer can. Welcome to middle age with cerebral palsy, when this mild, nonprogressive disorder reveals that even though the brain damage hasn't progressed beyond the initial injury 40 or so years ago, the wear and tear on muscles and joints has.
I first was exposed to articles on aging with my disability 15 years ago, when I was pregnant and concerned and discovered the online disabled community in the early days of AOL. There was an interesting article regarding the fact that those of us who could walk unaided were encouraged to participate in physical activities as much as our nondisabled peers. Adaptive physical education did not exist in my school district until I was in junior high school and my slow reaction time scared my regular PE teacher. I think about my time on a large college campus where walking from class to class was required and wonder if anyone would have considered a motorized scooter a good investment for me. Most of all, I laugh inwardly at the irony that the "good attitude" that was praised and encouraged was really denial that anything was wrong.
I could try to "pass" in the World of Warcraft. My slow reaction time looks a lot like not paying attention, and my dps is certainly good enough for most of the alliance guilds on the server. However, I belong where I am, and being honest with my friends has allowed me to play and contribute where I do.
Side note: A ray of sunshine came back into my online world over the weekend. Welcome back, Natazz!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Switching Up

Note: This entry was started Thursday night and finished Friday morning.

Thursday's raid was the most fun I've had in a while. Dev decided to switch people in and out since it was a regular mode night, and I got to be in for most of the raid. I am 5 emblems of Conquest away from my chest tier token aka 4 piece bonus, since I got the shoulders on Monday night. I also had a good email about my dad from my sister, and I have a job interview tomorrow.

Boom made me laugh tonight - as we were clearing to Vezax, he sent me a tell asking if I would mind stepping out for one of the rogues to come in, so we would have two kicks. I wasn't volunteering to step out because I figured after yesterday's rant, Dev would kill me if I did. Anyway, I sent Boom a tell back saying np, and asking him if he was seriously asking. His response was "I didn't want to be an ass about it." There is something endearing about how tenderhearted the guild officers can be sometimes.

I had a conversation with Dev Thursday night where he came the closest he ever has to telling me that there are encounters he will never put me in, specifically, hard-mode encounters. I'm not sure he will ever directly say that because we've had so many conversations about how my contributions to the guild go beyond my dps, and I don't react well to feeling reduced to a number on a meter. I don't envy Dev's position if hard modes and Algalon play out the way he thinks they will. One of the core philosophies of the guild is that we win or lose as a team. How do you keep that teamwork when you have raid members that can't be in certain encounters?

This is not a question that there is an easy answer to, and it provoked a question in my mind as to whether I'm still contributing even if I'm not in on hard mode fights, and if this is still the guild where I belong. The truth hit me in a blinding flash of insight this morning. All I was really hoping to do in Ulduar was beat Yogg. There will probably be a time when that will happen. As to where I belong, if anyone thinks I'm not good enough for the guild, they have not said it, at least not to me. As far as contributing, 3000 dps is better than nothing, and the value of support is impossible to measure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Left in the Dust

It's been a while since I've done an all-out bitch post, for a couple of reasons. One, there hasn't been much for me to bitch about, and Two, I always risk offending someone I really care about as a friend when I do it. Considering I actually went to the realm forums last night to see if any guilds are recruiting warlocks, I'd say it's worth that risk.

Before I go into what happened last night, I will say that I have had some scary emails from my sister over the past two weeks. My dad's white blood cells are at a point where his body cannot fight off infection, and she finally admitted to me that she is scared, so I know my fears are justified. I've known for 30 years that a simple infection could get out of control fast, but it's never been as real as it is now. I actually was in tears picking out a Father's Day card for him today, because I am so scared that this will be his last one.

Okay, last night. I had signed up early, and when I checked, was still listed as accepted, rather than standby. Go pick up my son from cross-country practice, come home and see Oct at Ulduar. Whisper Dem for an invite as I scroll up to see where I missed mine. No invite. Check the calendar, I'm listed as standby. Whisper Dem again, angry. No answer. Ask myself if I really want to quit a guild that I've been in for almost a year and has so many people I care about. The answer, plus the thought of a wall of pink text that would ensue, kept me from acting too hastily. I listened to the FL kill with two towers up, and couldn't do any more. By this point, it was all I could do to concentrate on questing in Silithus, and I kept alt-tabbing to read my sister's emails. At one point, we lost all our cable service, including internet, so I was able to discuss what was going on with my dad with Bryan and cry in his arms.

I feel like I'm being left behind in the guild. I feel like there is a whole tier of people that are the golden children, and I am the person they call on when they can't get anyone else. Sometimes it feels like progress gets ahead of people, and I'm not important. I understand that we have to progress and hard decisions have to be made, but I resent always being last. Oct doesn't understand, and I doubt he ever will.

Dammit, I'm not a horrible player, so why can't you get me in on the fights where I do well, even if I have to sit later? Why can't you at least let me try Hodir, since at this point the experience and gear gap is going to make it so I can't come in before too long? And why do I feel like I'm being thrown a bone every time I'm asked to come in?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Carilock the Seeker!

Well, I did it! 3000 quests completed. Finished it while eating lunch today after a morning of cleaning and worrying about my job interview this afternoon. Next up, Loremaster of Kalimdor, which will give me my Loremaster title.




Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Orbital Defense and Keepers!

Monday night, I went in to 10-man Ulduar and got my tier helm token, so I didn't need the emblems of conquest as much, but still wanted to raid this week of course. Dem and I had talked about the fact that I would get in this week, and as always, he was true to his word.
We decided to do Flame Leviathan with the Freya tower up, which is the hardest to manage because of adds. Dem went through who would drive and who would gun (I can appreciate him not having me drive, I do decently but not the best), and I was quite flattered when he assigned me to gun for him. We had a few bumps in the road, mostly involving people not completely being on the same page with strategy (I was so glad I had gone to Tankspot yesterday and looked at Ciderhelm's video), but we got it down! We were rewarded with fragments off the first 3 bosses.
We cleared the Siege and Antechamber, and did Mimiron as the first keeper. Flip was in the raid, so I wasn't tanking. I died to mines while trying to avoid laser barrage, but we got him down. That gave me the keepers of Ulduar achievement! The one thing that could have gone better was the management of Bomb Bots. I had my macro set to target one, cast corruption, and target last target, so I don't even see if they are in range for me to hit. I changed the macro to take out the target last target, so at least now I will know if I'm hitting it, so the melee doesn't have to run to it.
I'm not dying very much at all anymore, and on most fights, I do pretty consistent 3k dps. The fights I don't are fights in which there are a lot of adds, which probably get burned down before my dots can do much to them. I know that on the Hodir fight, right now I don't need to be in for hard mode, for two reasons. First, I've not broken 4k dps on any fight in Ulduar, as documented by WMO reports. Secondly, I can't guarantee that I will never have more than 2 stacks of Biting Cold on me at any time. There's part of me that says, "How will I get better if I don't get in to practice?" The answer is 10-mans and the fact that things happen and you never know when you will be needed for a raid.
At one point between Thorim attempts, I got a tell from Dem asking if I had enough badges for my tier helm or chest. I reminded him that I had gotten my head Monday night and asked him if that was the only reason he kept me in. He replied, "No, I told you I'd get you in this week." Still, it's nice to have a GM/Raid Leader who cares about what all 30 of his raiders need. The top players in each role are always going to get what they need, just by virtue of always getting spots. It takes a lot of character to look at someone who struggles, but is always there, and say, "You are not forgotten."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms!


I haven't been posting much lately. Real life has hit me in a very real way lately, so I've had to focus on that. I'm realizing how deep my feelings of not being able to measure up are, and the very real impact they have on my marriage.
I got Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms Saturday morning, while the guild slept and Oct worked on his horde mage. I'm less than 100 quests away from the Seeker title, and then it's a long road to Loremaster.
Last night, Clan Redundancy Clan became the 5th alliance guild and the 7th guild on Turalyon to down Yogg-Saron. Grats to the raid team! I was sitting on the bench, questing and wondering if I'd be needed.
It's exciting to me that we can fill our raids and have a bench, since when we downed Archimonde, we were barely filling out raids. I give Dem a lot of credit for building the guild into such a strong team.
It was kind of interesting to have a week where I didn't get into a 25 man raid at all, but it was a good break. I'm looking forward to getting in on some hard modes, getting enough badges for my tier 8 helm, and killing Mimiron and Yogg.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I am not the stumbling block!

"I won't be the last one in line. I finally figured out what's mine." - Shinedown, Breaking Inside

Last night we tried for a 25-man alt Naxx, but didn't have enough, so some of us continued a 10-man Ulduar from earlier this week. Iron Council took us a couple of attempts to get, but we got it and I could see the death runes. I also got a new set of bracers. I'm exchanging hit for spellpower, but it's working for now. Freya went pretty smoothly. I was the only lock, and Oct was the only mage, so we were on crowd control for the adds. I was really pleased with how I did on banishing. Grats, Baby, on your fourth piece of T8!
On to Mimiron, and as the sole warlock, I knew I would have to tank. Luckily, Flip was in on his DK, so he was available to give me advice. It went okay, except I was having trouble reacting to the runes. The changes they are making to the rockets will help immensely with that, so I guess I can be happy about that nerf. No, I don't usually like it when bosses are nerfed. Easy-to-kill does not equal accessible. Sometimes it just means that people who don't put the work in can reap the rewards anyway, and sometimes it really isn't a help for those of us that have worked at learning the boss.
At any rate, I successfully tanked phase 3 a couple of times, only to have us fail in phase 4. I learned something in our attempts though. First of all, there are times when I am so overwhelmed that my reaction time slows down to keep me from completely freezing up. I also learned that if we can't get a boss, it's not always me. I'm so conditioned to being replaced that the first person I look to blame is myself. That's not a bad thing if I'm seeing things that I can do better, but it is if it means that I don't have the confidence to perform. In the end, I'm a better player than my disabilities let me be, and I can and will continue to overcome what I can to shine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Falling down and getting up

I think that pretty much describes last night's raid. Yogg-Saron is not easy, that's why he's the last boss you can do without hard modes. I was reminded of something that Lootlegend of Aeon said to me a couple of weeks before they downed him, "Yogg is being a b****." Yes, he is.
Still, we got some very well-controlled phase 1 attempts, and one or two really good phase 2 attempts. I think it is realistic to say that we could see phase 3 next week.
We tried a new phase 1 strat last night where we were trying to move around as a group and avoid clouds while dpsing the mobs in the middle. I started getting very agitated, because it became clear to me very quickly that I could not succeed with that strategy. Several attempts with additional spawns later, we went back to our old strat of staying by the door, but instead of having a paladin tank stay at the door and the other tanks moving the guardians to the middle, all three of the tanks kept the same guardian and moved it to Sara to be killed. That worked really well, when the dps was well-controlled and no one accidentally spawned additional adds. Nothing wrong with trying a new strategy, but there's also no use in blaming your raid for being who they are.
One thing that I have seen on the two Yogg attempts I've been in on has been a bit of negativity in the core and leadership. I ended up accidentally spawning an add because, in moving away from a cloud, I didn't move towards the door when I should have and ended up squeezed between to clouds. That was my mistake and I owned up to it. What followed was comments implying that people didn't realize how serious accidentally spawning additional adds was. It wasn't directed at me personally, but it felt like it was, and I threw my headset on my desk and walked into the kitchen. Oct was in full elitist raider mode, and I can't talk to him when he's like that. I almost broke my rule about whining in raid chat last night, but I think Dem would have taken me up on gkicking me if I had. Came back to the computer, ported to Yogg's prison, and got ready to go. Tell from Flip, "just stay by the door" my response "I'm trying, i'm trying - why do people seem to think i'm ****ing up on purpose?" he said, "Carol, i don't think anyone thinks that." That calmed me down, as did the gentle tone in Dem's voice when he said, "Carol just let us know when you're ready" after I hit no on the ready check.
I think negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you assume that people aren't trying instead of believing the best, it stresses everyone out. Orbitz, who is now back to full-time raiding (yay!), made the comment to me about how quiet it was on vent. I told her it was because everyone was concentrating, and it was the same way in BT and Hyjal. Naxx never really stressed us the way Ulduar is. Yogg-Saron reminds me a lot of the Archimonde fight in the complexity and margin for error department. We just need to dig in, talk about what we can do better, share our challenges, and swallow our excuses.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

All you have to do is...

Major, major rant forthcoming. Toes will be stepped on, I promise. Now that I've warned you, here goes.
Why do nondisabled people always assume that just because something seems easy for you, it should be easy for me? Encounters where there is a biting cold debuff (stacking debuff, increases damage and eventually will freeze you in place) are a prime example.
The only way to remove the debuff is to move. So you cast and jump, or cast and strafe. Sounds pretty easy, right?
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!! It messes up my rhythm and my spell rotation. I have to think about every little thing I'm doing, and that takes time. My dps is lowered and my frustration and chance of dying increase.
It's not simple for me, it's not. Would you like to borrow my brain so you can see how hard it is? Would you like to be super-intelligent so you know every little way that your brain is failing you? I know you're trying to help, but I am not you and I can't do what you do!
Coming back Sunday morning after a good night's sleep, not to edit the rant, but to add the positive spin:
The above rant is indicative of what happens in my mind when I'm struggling, particularily when people want to pretend my disabilities don't exist, because it makes them feel better. (ooooh, that was kind of harsh too, I'm not sorry) There are four guys in the guild that I will always listen to for feedback for the simple reason that they do whatever they can to understand what is going on in my brain. Cinnas, Flip, Dem, and Med, *hugs* and <3. That's not to say that other people don't help or don't understand, it's just when I'm talking to one of them, I really get the sense that they are trying to look at the situation from my point of view and that's not easy. I may never get the Biting Cold achievement in Nexus, and that's okay. What's not okay is assuming that just because the solution is simple, it's easy to execute. Nothing in this game is easy for me, but that's what makes it so rewarding.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Normal is a Setting on my Washing Machine!

Or at least it was, when I used to say that all the time. The truth is, normal is a statistical term, and a couple of things happened yesterday that reminded me of how much of an anomaly I am compared to the general population. Of course, in my household, having a developmental disability is just as normal as not having one, but we are unique here.

Because of the way my nerves and brain work, I don't always feel pain or discomfort the way other people do. This can lead to some things going unnoticed until other circumstances bring them to my attention. Nothing like having doctors and medical assistants look at you funny when you say you have asymptomatic infections. Hey, I have chronic pain. If I ran to the doctor for every little thing, I'd never get anything done. Also, I have a pretty good immune system, so it's never been a problem before.

Last night was the last scout meeting of the year, yay! So now after older son's awards ceremony next week, I will be available on Thursdays for the summer. Came home and the guild was on Freya. So, I logged into WoW and vent, and continued working on the Loremaster achievement. One of the raid members was having trouble staying connected, so Dem sent me a tell asking if I was up to coming in for General Vezax. Of course I said yes, then reminded him that it was my first time on the fight. Now the Vezax fight is a challenge for a few reasons. First off, replenishment and life tap do not exist. The only way to regain mana is to stand in something that hurts you. Secondly, there are shadow crashes that hurt you if you get hit by them, and there is an area of effect to them. Third, the fight takes place in one of the darkest rooms in the entire instance. Hello, visual processing problems. We got him down, but I failed on a couple of levels. First, I failed at staying away from shadow crash eight times. Second, I ran out of mana and ended up having to wand at the end of the fight. Still, I refuse to feel bad about my performance. I went in cold and I didn't have the advantage of learning the fight slowly like 22 of the other members did. I'll spend some time working on what I can to make things better.
After the fight, Dem sent me a tell confirming that I wanted to be treated like a normal raider before he pointed out in the dps channel that I had the highest number of failures. Pointing out my failures doesn't bother me - I need to know where I am in order to improve, and I will listen to anyone who thinks they can offer a positive suggestion. I'm not a normal raider, but treating me with kid gloves only accentuates that I'm "special".

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An open letter to those with whom I game

Lil of InTheFringes highlighted an open internet letter, and gave an answer from the perspective of a nondisabled person, which I thought was brilliant. Still, this has been percolating in my mind to do, and she has inspired me. So here is a list of things that I'd like you to understand:
  • I have good days and bad days. I don't always understand the reason for the bad days either, so if I can't make the Thaddius jump or stay out of runes when I could last week, don't ask me why, just be patient or replace me.
  • Fatigue and alcohol make my issues worse. That's why I will let you know if I'm drinking, if you can't tell by my slurred speech. It's also why the end of a raid is so hard for me.
  • I don't resent you for being nondisabled. I do not, however, want to hear it if you risk your amazing brains by engaging in dangerous activities without a helmet, eye protection, etc.
  • I won't always tell you if I'm offended. We live in a culture where it is acceptable to make derogatory comments about disabilities. It bothers me when you do, but I'm not going to rock the boat or cause drama.
  • I love it when you let me use self-deprecating humor. To me, that is the ultimate sign of acceptance, when I can joke about being brain-damaged with you and you don't freak out.
  • My husband is my caregiver in real life at times, he's not when we are in-game. Please don't assume that we are talking about anything, or that I will accept help from him more readily than I will from you. There are also times when he just needs a break from dealing with my issues.
  • It's easier for me to give help than accept it. Some of you have mastered the art of quiet insistence to get me to let you help me, and I appreciate it.
  • If I'm asking for help, I really need it. It may just be advice, or it may be physical, but if I'm asking and you can, please do.
  • I won't always ask to be included. I always appreciate when you include me though. Ninja-invites tell me that you trust me to do my job.
  • I don't mind educating about my disabilities. If you have a question, ask.
  • I don't want or need your pity. I do pretty well with what I deal with and a lot of it is due to the fact that people have pushed me to do as much as I could. Help me overcome barriers, but don't pity me.
  • I admire and appreciate you, even when I don't show it. I am truly in awe of your abilities and your character. Thanks for being my friend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Battle-scarred and Worn, but Still Fighting

"You know there ain't no coming back when you're still carrying the past." - Shinedown, Breaking Inside

Yesterday, I thought I was ready to come back to raiding. The guild unintentionally tested that by needing me in the raid late at night on the Hodir fight. I've been in all the fights except for Vezax, and Hodir is by far the hardest for me to manage.

It didn't go well, and I was rather quite snappish. I'm angry and hurt and I don't even know who to be angry and hurt at.

I chose the above quote because Oct's rejoining the guild and coming back into his own as a raider is bringing back fears that he will overshadow me again. As I processed the events of last night, I realized that so much of the anger that I want to direct at the guild and raid leadership has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the battle scars I carry with me.

As I once again had the thought go through my mind, "Why do I stay?" the answers came just as quickly:

  • Monday night, Orbitz saying "what's wrong?" and the immediate expressions of sympathy and caring from the raid.
  • Friends who are ready to jump in and help, but just as ready to sit back and provide support as I struggle through doing it myself.
  • A raid leader who sees me for much more than raid statistics, and is willing to find ways of explaining encounters that I will understand. He's also very quick to find ways to diffuse my stress in a raid.
  • The greatest gift anyone could have, understanding. There are so many people who have taken the time to get inside my head and understand me.
  • Shoulders to cry on, hands to high-five, and arms to hug.

So I go on, realizing that a silly video game has exposed the best part of me and brought it to the forefront. To me, that means more to me than all the content I have cleared with Clan Redundancy Clan put together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New Angel

"Thanks for all you've done. I've missed you for so long; I can't believe you're gone." - Alter Bridge, In Loving Memory
Last night we went into a 10-man Ulduar with 4 alts, which is always an experience. Flame Leviathan and Razorscale went pretty well, but as we were clearing to XT-002, the phone rang. It was my dad, telling me that my aunt and godmother had passed away. As I was talking to him, Oct typed in raid chat, "Give us a minute, Carol's dealing with family stuff on the phone." I typed, "I'm gonna need Oct for a min plz." I hung up with my dad, told Oct what happened, and sobbed in his arms for a minute.
Got back on vent and said, "Sorry about that, family emergency, what am I doing?" The group asked what was wrong, since I was obviously in tears, I told them, and was met with condolences and hugs. The raid was somewhat unremarkable, but it was good to be able to have it as a distraction and be with friends who care about me.
When I think of my Aunt Bertha, I think of a kind, classy woman who raised two daughters alone after her first husband died at a young age, then found love again after her children were grown, thanks to my grandfather. I remember swimming at the house she had in Pennsylvania before she got married, and lots of happy times at their house in North Carolina. In an indirect way, she is responsible for me meeting my husband. My parents bought the property they retired to because it was across the street from hers, and that led to me attending NC State, where I met Bryan. I remember a woman who was always sewing, knitting, or crocheting, and giving me wonderful handmade clothes. I remember a talented organist, and singing old hymns in four-part harmony while she played. I remember a gentle stubbornness that I share with her. The memories make me smile, even through my tears.
I'm also glad that I have such good friends, even in a video game, that will love and support me.
Edit: In my grief, I forgot that another guild cleared Ulduar last week. Congratulations to Aeon on their Yogg-Saron kill!

Monday, May 25, 2009

My first look at Yogg

It's Memorial Day in the United States, a day to remember those who served in the military and the sacrifices they made. I'm remembering my mother-in-law, Connie, who served her country well without ever putting on a uniform, just by being an Army wife. To all our military personnel and their families, thank you.
Last night was another series of attempts on Yogg-Saron. We were a little short at the start, so I was in. The Yogg fight is all about control. You have to control dps, control where you stand, and control your damage and debuffs. As a person who deals with mental illness, I have to chuckle a bit at being told to watch my sanity. If only real life had sanity wells that you could just stand in and recover.
I'm always a little cautious at first in a fight where it's easy to wipe the raid. Phase 1 just means throw shadowbolts at guardians until they get around 30% health, then switch. Oh, and avoid the big clouds of yellow-green gas that are floating around. It's a bit frustrating to not be able to throw up all my dots, but controlled dps is something I can do well.
Phase 2 gets a little more complicated. The raid is split into two, there are tentacles that have to be burned down rather quickly, and there are debuffs and death rays to deal with. Still, we had some really good attempts.
I learned something very important last night. I can handle the Yogg fight. I was a little hesitant to mention that to Dev, thinking that his reaction might be, "yeah, that's great, Carol, you can handle it, now what about this other stuff that is killing us." The thing is, if we have nights when we're short, I can come in and that is good to know.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can a Video Game Change Your Life?

"What's worth the prize is always worth the fight." - Nickelback, If Today was Your Last Day

We painted the bedroom Saturday. When I say we, I mean that Bryan and I worked together to do it. Our bedroom has a cathedral ceiling and some cutouts, so he did the painting that required a ladder and the initial cutting in, and I used a roller and brush on what I could reach from the floor. I don't do ladders unless absolutely necessary. I don't like heights, and losing my balance 5 feet up could have disastrous consequences.

When we were getting our old house ready to sell a year ago, Bryan wouldn't let me paint. When you are painting, involuntary muscle movements that are made worse by fatigue are a bad thing.

What's changed in the past year? A couple of things. One, I think my fine motor control is better, refined by having to move and avoid various ground effects. When I say I can avoid harmful AoE spells almost as well as a neurotypical person, I'm not kidding, and I think Dev would back me up on that. Another related thing is that my attention to visual detail has improved by having to pay attention to aforementioned effects. World of Warcraft, and particularly raiding, has become a form of occupational therapy for me.

I think one of the biggest changes that has happened since I joined Clan Redundancy Clan last July deals with the psychosocial component of being disabled. When you are used to running up against barriers and dealing with prejudice, you tend to expect it everywhere, and tend to not see yourself in a positive light. Sometimes those closest to you have the same perception of weakness as well. As I have raided with CRC and accomplished things that not everyone has, I have learned to see myself as a strong, capable person. As we have been raiding Naxx and especially Ulduar, my husband has been able to see that there is a lot I can still do.

As we struggle with Yogg (and I'm hoping that I'll be in on a Vezax kill soon), I wonder what else this video game will change in my brain. Until then, I'll enjoy my Epic room. More to come...

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

...is not an oncoming train!
Real life is starting to get better. Wednesday and Thursday we learned that, although my Dad's bone marrow is not sufficiently recovered from the chemotherapy to keep his blood counts up, the cancer is not growing, and may have shrunk (rereading that to check my grammar - if I'm wrong, one of y'all send me a tell, please). Things are moving along with my job, so hopefully I'll be ready to start soon, and I'm almost ready to come back to raiding.
The experience of stepping back and taking a break has been an interesting one. It's always a risk when you tell someone how extreme your reaction to an encounter is, like I did with the Hodir fight. I don't want Dev to constantly worry that I'm getting overwhelmed in the more movement and graphics-intensive fights. I learned to regulate my breathing during Sartherion with 3 drakes; I can do it again. Plus, since I've opened the door, I can say, "this is way too overwhelming, is there someone who can sub in." I doubt I'd do that though, it's like going to an amusement park with my family. I can not go on any rides and deprive Bryan and the boys of my presence, or I can go on a few that I don't think will be too much for me to handle, and deal with it the best I can.
Another thing that has made this break interesting is seeing the reactions of my guildies. When you are used to being treated like a liability, learning to see yourself as an asset isn't easy. I never realized that my being there had an impact on the mood of the raid until one of my friends said something, then one night, I saw it, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: this is what people have been trying to tell me since February. It's not a patronizing, "we'll keep you in even though you can't do the dps because we feel sorry for you and it makes us feel like better people," either. It's a geniune appreciation for who I am, and I appreciate them for the support they've given me.
Speaking of giving support, if you give blood regularly, you have the sincere thanks and appreciation of my family. If you don't, please consider it if you are healthy enough.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sticking to my Principles and Finding a Balance

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go into a 10-man VoA run. I was the 10th person, and right after I joined, a mage did also. Instead of asking for a volunteer to drop, or apologizing to the 11th person, the raid leader chose to tell all dps to whisper him their dps, and warned that anyone who lied would be booted. I dropped immediately, and the leader whispered me asking why. I'm sure I would have done more dps than most of the other people there, but I just wasn't interested in getting into an epeen contest, and that's what it felt like.

Oct is still adjusting to the shock of his guild breaking up, and going from raiding 5 days a week to only 3 days, and I think it's made him think about what a big part of our lives WoW has become. For me, it is a place to escape my pain and be able to connect with other people. Still, it is a time sink, and at times I do need to make myself pull back and do other things. It's all about the balance.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crusader!!!!!!!


Last night, I really didn't think I'd get in to raid, since we had plenty of people signed up. Oct was in though, and as I was chilling out getting ready to continue to work on dailies (I hadn't even gotten on vent yet), he said, "Dev's calling for you." I had alt-tabbed, so I got back to WoW to see "Thordar has invited you to a group." Authentication issues had left us a few people short, so I was in for Flame Leviathan. I usually drive a demolisher, but they were all taken. I didn't really want to drive a siege tank, but Gutts said, "She can gun." Dev said, "Come to me, Carol, you can gun for me." Given that the gunner is the person who puts up the shield around the tank, I'm quite flattered. Got him down, and got the Unbroken achievement.
As we were setting up for Razorscale, people were able to come in, so I went to do my tournament dailies and fight the Argent Champion, which has been giving me a hard time lately. Ended up with a really good group for Threat from Above and Battle Before the Citadel, which is rare, and nice. Flew back up to the tournament area and decided to try the champion again. Second or third try, I realize that my damage was keeping up with his, and I thought, "I may get it this time." Sure enough, I got it!
The raid was setting up for trash clears, so I figured it was safe to turn in. When I did, Dev said, "ZOMG spam" and I was bombarded with congratulations from my guildies, who understand how hard I worked for this and how difficult was for me to attain.
Grats to CRC for getting 10 bosses down last night. Very well done!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming Home

"So I'm coming home, lost on a road I don't belong" - Alter Bridge, Coming Home

Yesterday was a sad day in our house from a WoW standpoint. Turalyon server saw Conviction, one of the guilds that was pushing to clear Ulduar, decide to stop raiding, a victim of real life and raider burnout. Conviction was one of my favorite guilds to pug with, and I will miss them. I'm also watching the man I love grieve the loss of his guild, even as he comes home to CRC.
Yes, we filled our mage slot with the man known as "Carol's husband". I left the house for a meeting when Oct was running an errand pre-raid, and came home to him telling me that Conviction disbanded. After some banter back and forth about where he was going and wondering if I needed to have a talk with Dem, I looked closely at guild chat on his screen and realized where he was. He was welcomed back into the fold, and immediately asked mage questions.
I wasn't sure how I would feel about Oct coming back. I thought he would after one of his friends server transferred, so it wasn't a huge surprise. He loved being in CRC, and the best way to impress a married man is to treat his wife well. I just wasn't expecting it to happen like this. Anyway, I'm okay with it, but it is going to make me want to raid again. There's something about being part of a team with your spouse that is absolutely awesome.
Oh, grats to the 10-man team last night for downing Vezax!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheering friends on!

I have to start today's blog with some major congratulations.
First off, Grats to CRC for downing General Vezax and getting into Phase 2 of the Yogg-Saron fight. Props to Dem for having the wisdom to make everyone take a break and watch the first part of the StratFu video when it became obvious that there were a lot of people who didn't know what was going on. I am so proud of you guys.
Next, grats to Just Wipe It and Escalation for being the next alliance and horde guilds to kill Yogg-Saron. Good job!
I wasn't sure what it would be like dealing with my new role in CRC. Would I miss being a Raid Member, or would being a standby feel okay? I was in a good bit of pain yesterday, which I don't deal with well. My left hand holds tension in an odd way when I raid, and depression can also contribute to joint pain, so my hands were hurting. Naproxen wasn't touching the pain, but after a bit of whining, Oct found his travel first-aid kit so I could get some tylenol. That made it bearable, and I could at least finish my tournament dailies.
I have to say, it was really nice being able to finish making dinner and eating without having to be right at my computer at 6:30 to grab my invite. I let Dem know that I was staying close by just in case the raid didn't fill up, but it did, which was cool. I was able to relax, finish my dailies, and get some old world dungeon achievements done while working on a low-level warlock quest.
I still think I did the right thing asking for this demotion, and am happy that my guildies are letting me be selfish and do it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A tale of two raids

As I have reflected on Thursday nights events, my mind keeps going back to something that happened a little over a year ago, when the guild I was in was going through SSC, and I was still playing a holy priest.
We were working on Leo, and it wasn't going especially well. The priest class leader wasn't feeling well, so wasn't in the raid. First boss pull, I throw a prayer of mending, thinking I'd be okay, and pulled aggro. Battle rez, and die again to something. Raid leader decides to replace me over a druid that is a new recruit. Three lines of text about how sorry he is, how when we're a little farther along I'll be okay, blah blah blah. Spare me.
Class Leader's boyfriend, who happens to be main-tanking, wakes up his girlfriend to tell her what is going on. Tells from both class leader and Oct about how much it sucks. Oct especially talks about how he thinks the new druid should have been replaced. Yeah, sweetheart, that's going to calm me down.
The next day, I start a conversation with the GM about how being replaced angered me. Get pulled into vent with her and the raid leader where I'm told, among other things, that no other guild will make as many accomodations for me as she did, and that I shouldn't be making excuses.
I contrast that with my experience in CRC, especially Thursday night. When I'm allowed to struggle through a raid instead of being replaced, Dem is saying to me, "You have earned the right to be here and get the achievements for yourself that you have helped us get." Where before I was told, "We can't progress with you," here I am told, "We can't progress without you."
It seems strange to say that a video game can change your life, but WoW and CRC have definitely brightened my outlook.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How bad do you want it?

Four alliance guilds are chasing after a Yogg-Saron kill this week, and a few of them are getting close. CRC should be able to get Vezax down this week, if we all pay attention and work hard. I think a lot of the guilds working on the Descent into Madness bosses are seeing some conflicts regarding members being prepared for raids. To those guilds, I ask, "How bad do you want it?"
I want to see CRC kill Vezax and Yogg, whether I'm in the raid or not. I know we have the people to do it.
It's so different being in a guild where my efforts are noticed and appreciated. I just wish that I could see the same return that others do.
So, what do I do to prepare for raids?
  1. Look at strats, especially if one is recommended by someone else in the guild. StratFu and TankSpot appear to be the top places to go for Ulduar raid videos. I can't say enough nice things about the work Fusion does, as long as they are not killing me in Wintergrasp.
  2. Make sure I have what I need. Feasts, flasks, pots, and shards are necessary equipment for me. If I'm doing Hodir, I need my frost resist. Even when our healers are better geared, I really don't see me being able to survive the fight without it.
  3. Be on time. Invites go out at 6:30 pm and I'm there, ready to hop on a griffon. I know there are people who don't get out of work until later, but they are always ready to go as soon as they log on, and it is greatly appreciated.
  4. Make sure my addons are up to date. These are the tools to help you succeed, and the developers update them whenever they see something that needs to be changed.
  5. Speak when I need to, but know when to be quiet.
  6. Don't whine in raid chat EVER. Dem has my permission to /gkick me and not invite me back if I fall into that trap.
  7. Participate in post-wipe discussions IF you have something useful to say. And yes, "I'm sorry I stood in a rune" is useful. It lets your guildies know that you know what you did, you understand the impact of it, and you will try to keep it from happening again.
  8. Be willing to take constructive criticism. Also, if you are in a position to give it, keep it constructive.
  9. Have fun!