We all have secrets that we think are shameful, it’s part of being human. I’m going to share with you what I consider one of my darkest secrets, and amazingly it has nothing to do with sex:
Despite being in my mid to late twenties, I still like to play pretend games. As an adult I suppose that wouldn’t be a problem if I kept said games to the bedroom but that isn’t what I mean. For a long time I justified my mental games by the fact that I also like to write, but I would be doing exactly the same thing even if I wasn’t writing.
What sort of thing do I mean by “play pretend games?” Well, I mean pretty much the same thing I did when I was ten, only I like to think that the scenarios have become more sophisticated. For example, I have a sci-fi world in my head that is incredibly complex. In the context of this world, I can explain in great detail what kind of spaceship any automobile on the road would be. I do this while requiring that I simultaneously stay true to the design intend and function of said automobile’s unique design features and the requirements and restrictions of the imaginary world. It’s both impressive and pathetic at the same time.
I have a “plot line” in this world that includes a character that I play in my head. I suppose it isn’t that different that role playing, except that I have never role played. As strange as it may seem, as a kid I was told by multiple friends who role played that I was not the “kind” of person they were looking to game with. Never quite been sure why that was, but as a consequence I haven’t actually gamed before. Fireheart has said on more than one occasion that she wants me to try to write this world up as a role playing game but I am not overburdened with time and I continue to insist that as a non-gamer I shouldn’t try writing a game. I certainly can’t be a game master for one, which is the next stage of what she would want me to do with it.
The reason all of this comes up now is that my company is failing horribly. We haven’t had any good paying work in a year. Moving to New Hampshire caused me to loose all the contacts I had cultivated in Vermont and with my worsened health; I haven’t been able to pursue new work actively enough. Also, we don’t have the money for me to have an out of home office. Without a public space it is much harder to go after clients or build relationships with the local chamber of commerce. Our office in Vermont only cost about two-fifty a month but I can’t afford that right now.
As a result, we have been looking into the possibility of getting me work doing CAD rather than design work to bring in some money. Temp agencies often have CAD work listings and are just as happy to contract a company as an individual. Without client work though, my SolidWorks (an industry standard CAD program that we pay a ridiculous amount of money to have and update) skills have become rusty. I needed an intricate project to work on that would push my abilities with the program farther than they had been pushed before. The project I came up with was designing in the computer, the small space ship that my Subaru Forester is in my mind.
I have now sunk just about 43 hours into the design and I can safely say I’ll need at least half again that, if not double, to finish and render the design. I have approached the project as if I was making a model. I have made the parts of the ship and then put them in a very complex assembly file. The rendering process is remarkably like painting a model.
It has been incredibly fulfilling to actually see the ship taking form in the computer in a form I can manipulate in three dimensions and has a lot of moving parts (I was thrilled to be learn limit-mates in order to make the wings open and close together). Of course, it is fulfilling to CAD-draft any design idea that one has only previously seen in one’s head, but it is somehow different when it is the spaceship. Part of that is the exciting challenge of designing around a set of rules defined by the technology of the world in my head rather than the real world. After all let’s be honest, I am never going to get to design a real space vessel, which was once a childhood dream, as well as the subject of more than one science fair project.
The process has gotten me asking an interesting (at least to me, but then it is my blog) question. When did I start to feel that this kind of imaginary game was not appropriate for someone my age? At what age did it stop being ok to play pretend? I can’t remember a specific moment or even year that I started feeling embarrassed by my mental games. I suppose I feel about my pretend games the way many people feel about masturbating. It’s one of those things that you feel you shouldn’t do, although you don’t quite know why and can’t seem to stop. Of course weirdly enough, I don’t feel that way about masturbating at all and totally fail to understand why some people do. Summerwind says he is equally puzzled by my embarrassment over my pretend world.
So what do I get out of this imaginary world? Being able to have many of the ordinary things I do in life have an element of excitement or fun makes the activities of daily life more interesting, which given the amount of effort these sorts of activities can take when my health is really troublesome, means it can make those activities possible. For instance having a complex story when I dislocated my shoulder several years ago made physical therapy more bearable. After all, I slipped in the kitchen and was trying to catch my fall is way less fun than a story about the optical-thermal ablative coating (long story, involves car washes and sparkly paint) of my spaceship failing and an energy bolt penetrating the cabin and my right shoulder, necessitating repair work and physical therapy to be re-certified as combat-ready (the TENS unit the therapist used was nerve stimulation to try to get the artificial replacement nerve fibers to synch with the remaining natural nerves).
Maybe this all sounds awfully stupid to you. Maybe it doesn’t. I am certain I’ll spend the next few days worrying about what people think, but right now I have a CAD spaceship with a retractable rocket assembly that I have to go figure the geometry for.