The unpublished journal of Old Cathy Tea, S-GAS Transformation presenter
(Many thanks to Bilmonaghan for nearly all of Bill Monaghan’s words.)
Coordinating the S-GAS Transformation thread has tested me–not just in terms of organizational skills, but in terms of identity.
With these events, I’ve felt so many perspectives involved, and I’ve dived into all these voices that have asked to be heard through our events, doing my best to give each voice its moment.
In this chamber orchestra of voices, it’s easy for me to lose me.
I ran into Bill in the kitchen late one night when everyone else except Bill, Alice, and me were asleep. I thought, as a writer himself, he might be able to help me understand my dissolving sense of identity and self.
“I’ve notice that your writing has such profound empathy,” I said, striving for an oblique opening to my current personal concern.
“Whose mine?” he replied, deflecting praise in his typical style.
“You really seem to understand and slide gracefully through such a wide range of voices and perspectives. How do you move into your various characters’ points of view?” I asked him.
“Well,” he replied, “I would say that the main way I come to understand a Sim’s point of view is to watch their Whims, as I think those best reflect the combined influences of Needs, personal Aspirations, career Goals, underlying traits and their present social situation and environment.”
“Yes, but do you put yourself into their perspective?” I asked, feeling that we were somehow venturing further from my inquiry.
“I tend to queue my Sims up with interactions to help them realize those Whims,” he continued, “in large part so they can rack up Satisfaction Points they can spend on permanent self-improvement or transitory benefits available to themselves and their housemates through potions.”
I paused for a moment. Was I talking to Bill Monaghan the Sim, or was I talking @Bilmonaghan the Simmer? Oh my, this wasn’t helping my crumbling sense of identity at all.
Bill continued, “I think the most important things to help define a Sim’s point of view are their Traits. Careers, Aspirations, social and environmental situations are all ether changeable or ever-changing.”
“Traits,” Bill said, “can only be changed by a conscious act of cheating, so they offer the best glimpse, in my opinion, of the Sim’s true point-of-view.”
“I’m trying to get at something else,” I said. “When you write–do you ever get lost in third person, like Olivia sometimes does? Or, in even more extreme situations, do you ever get lost in someone else’s first-person?”
He ignored my question.
“I also think it’s helpful to give Sims some free, truly autonomous time,” he said, “to mill about and decompress from any stress from working through their ‘to-do’ lists. It gives them a chance to goof-off or show their real personalities and give themselves a chance to explore other potential interests. These breaks can help Sims become more nuanced and individualized.”
“Give me something to work with here!” I said.
“Oh, I think you’ve got more than enough to work with,” he replied. “Why don’t you try working with less for a change? Maybe explore some of your own Whims, aspirations, and traits? Are you a Sim or a Simmer? If you’re a Sim, your life is really very easy and simple: fill your queue with interactions to fulfill your Whims, meet your Needs, and move you forward with your Aspiration. Then, enjoy your autonomy.”
“Oh!” I said. “That really is good, simple straightforward advice! I do have three Whims floating up there and a pressing need to spend time outdoors! Plus, I really want to try for a high score on Hillock II.”
“There you go,” he said, wandering back to his casita.
Sometimes, I realized, we get answers to our questions, but because they’re not the answers we expect, we don’t hear them–and then, we start worrying that our question wasn’t heard or understood, that we’re being ignored. And it might not be that we weren’t heard–it might be that we were heard so clearly that the answer bypasses a world of worry and takes us directly to the unexpected solution that we weren’t able to see.
I had a plan–and it felt, for the moment–that I also had me!
The next morning, I gave myself the gift of a break. I jogged across the courtyard to the Rabbit Cafe, which I’d wanted to explore ever since we got here.
I’ll get to just be me for a while, I thought, without any of my blogging or organizing or perspective-shifting activities. Just Old Cathy Tea hanging out in a hippie cafe, like Old Cathy Tea has done thousands of times before on the other side of the screen.
I spun into my Everyday 1 outfit when I arrived, feeling that the inspiration-boost from my chicken-hat would be sweet.
“Ike!” I said, when I spied Ike Rivera, Sr. playing chess on the patio,”I’m so glad to finally get a chance to visit with you. We’ve been so busy with all the events, we’ve barely even said hello!”
We chatted about game–about Cupcake and his other kids, about leveling up in logic through chess, about the best way to grill fruit without scorching it.
Ike really listened when I explained that I’d been feeling frazzled. He says, being the father of a big family and the husband of an artistic, perfectionist wife, he knows what it is to feel frazzled. But he always keeps it on the chill, he says, by just working with game to keep things cool and mellow. Needs. Aspirations. Whims. Working within one’s traits. The same words of sound advice that Bill provided.
This cute beat-geek Townie joined us and fanboyed a bit. He’s a reader of our stuff. We tried to keep it real. I didn’t want him to be thinking we were somehow different than he was.
“And here you are!” said the fanboy, “In our humble town! Using our humble wooden chess set! On our humble porch of our humble cafe!”
Ike and I shared a look. I could read Ike’s thoughts, “Just let it go. Sometimes, being the number one fan is a reader’s main claim to fame!”
Inside, I was relieved to find that nobody knew who I was, and everybody dressed like I did–like they’d feel most at home on a hiking trail.
I didn’t catch anyone’s name, but we had a great time just chatting. Not really about anything much. Just enjoying the feel of words as they left our mouths and filled another’s ears.
Ana wandered over from Jasper House next door, where the Chopping, Carrying sessions were winding up.
I always enjoy being around Ana. Something about her quietness and peacefulness–that way she has of tuning into this sweet feeling she carries around inside of her. I can tap into that when I’m in her presence, and pretty soon, it’s feeling sweet and peaceful inside of me, too.
This guy came in, wearing shorts and cowboy boots. I like his style of just wearing what he wants and not worrying about if it’s what-to-wear or what-not-to-wear. Being a bit of a what-not myself, I always enjoy hanging with others of my ilk.
Around midnight, Mark Archy took the mic. With the cute fanboy sitting at the table, and the cute what-not dancing on the floor, it was fun to listen to Mark’s jokes and ride the laughter wherever it carried us.
A gnome is in the garden busily destroying some bushes when a house cat appears. ‘What are you?’ asks the cat. ‘A gnome,’ comes the reply. ‘I steal food from humans, I kill their plants, I make annoying music at night to drive them crazy, and I love mischief. And what, may I ask, are you?’ The cat replies, ‘Um, I’m a gnome.’
I stayed there until the place closed at 2:17 a.m., and Mark wrapped up his comedy routine and everybody filed out and headed to wherever it is that all the homeless Townies go at night–their invisible not-currently-in-world storage slots where they wait, with whim and aspiration in tow, for the next time they roam the community lots or visit an in-world Sim they know. It’s simple, being an NPC, in an early world before the 180 population cap’s been reached, when your purposes are to provide the extras for someone else’s story, until that someone else happens to fall in love with you and pull you into the world of playable when all the questions of identity, role, and fulfillment step up to be heard. Until that point, a Sim can simply trust game and the firing of a series of zeroes and ones.