If I'd have known that this simple phrase would have led to two hours of one-sided conversation, I'd have found a good way to indicate that I wasn't interested before it was too late.
But I'm polite. So I listened to this customer tell me his story. Granted, he's a regular customer and someone whose company I actually enjoy. He's in customer service and is just as cynical and annoyed by everyone as I am. So we share stories. And we've built a sort of rapport.
"So I'm talking to this girl..."
And it turns out that she is someone he's been into since high school, who was married--IS MARRIED--but who just started talking to him again. She told him her husband didn't want to be with her anymore. She fished for compliments for DAYS, then told him she hated girls who fished for compliments. They talked about sex, and she basically told him she'd have sex with him. But she kept telling him she was unavailable. And she called him wishy-washy. So he told her about his feelings for her. And she unfriended and blocked him. And then one of their mutual friends blocked him when he tried to talk to her about it.
And basically, this was a two hour repetitive story. While I was trying to close the store. It was a quiet night, but still. DUDE! TWO HOURS! I think he's lonely and depressed and wanted someone neutral to talk to. But I don't make therapist wages, and I'm gonna catch hell tomorrow for all the shit we didn't get done or that was done half-assed.
But here's the thing. She sounds like a crazy. She sounds like she was giving mixed signals. And he was pretty honest from the get go about his feelings for her. And now he feels the whole situation is unfair and he didn't do anything to incur her wrath. BUT. She told him she's unavailable. She's clearly going through a divorce. And he should have respected her enough to back off. No means no. Just because she flirted with you and said she'd let you take her to the beach and that she'd bang you doesn't mean you're entitled to anything. It just means she's a crazy. Who is mixed up. And maybe doesn't quite know what she wants.
But that still doesn't mean you're entitled to anything.
It must be exhausting to be a woman. I've been thinking a lot about that lately, actually. But that's a post for another time. Maybe tomorrow if I get a second. We'll see.
I recorded an episode of a podcast today with a friend of mine. His podcast is called Bombast Podcast, and is findable via search and on iTunes. He's been doing it sporadically for a few years now, and his content is mostly comic books and movies.
He knows his stuff. His guests are entertaining. And I knew him in college as my honorary fourth roommate, so it's nice catching up with him, even if it is one-sided. That's why I became a listener.
Today he had mo on to talk about NaNoWriMo, which, it turns out, he thought might be some kind of eastern philosophy. Nah. It's an acronym. Sorta. National Novel Writing Month. Anyone who knows me well enough to be reading this knows what that is and knows that it's been a huge part of my life for a long time. Ten years.
We chatted about that. We chatted about fiction in general, about fanfiction, about religion, and about random stuff. It was a good time. It was awesome actually getting to see his face and catch up.
And I'm not sure when the episode will be out, but he says it will be the second-to-last one ever. EVER. That was a bomb I wasn't prepared for. But I've enjoyed what they've put out. And now, you can give it all a listen.
I'll keep you posted about when my episode is coming. I'm sure I'll hate the sound of my own voice.
- I had my first veggie burger today. It was pretty good. I honestly didn't notice too much of a difference, but it was smothered with lots of stuff.
- I learned that my friend Dave was an acolyte at Marion Zimmer Bradley's funeral. That's kind of awesome.
- I'm going to be in an episode of Bombast Podcast coming up soonish. The recording is tomorrow, and I'll be talking about NaNoWriMo. I'd be nervous about it, but it's run by one of my better friends from college. So...that'll be fun.
- I took my first bike ride of the season today, complete with shirtless frisbee boys and angry geese.
- I'm running a prank that no one has caught on to yet. It's fun having a secret.
- I think I've decided that this blogging exercise has been sort of a failure as judged by the terms I set out for it when I started. I've missed eight days. But I made up three of them. And I might make up another one today, after I finish recording the podcast. Anywho, I'm not getting down on myself, because I've been blogging. Maybe not that regularly, but I've been doing it. Hopefully by the end of the month I'll have my brain trained to think in terms of what might make a worthwhile blog.
I think that's all I've got for you today. For now.
Today I was working on some of the final puzzles in Jonathan Blow's newest game, The Witness. They're real brain burners, and they take a lot of concentration to solve. I shut the game off for lunch, and decided I would listen to a podcast while we ate. So Robb started heating up leftovers from last night.
My brain was sort of occupied with this puzzle on which I'd quit. I was getting text messages from two separate people on two separate apps. I was trying to answer questions from both of them. The podcast was starting. And Robb asked me how many fish tacos I wanted.
And my brain just...exploded. All of a sudden I wanted to throw pretty much everything across the room. I told Robb to hold on a second, slammed down my mobile speaker, paused my podcast, and silenced my phone. Then I stood looking at him while he stared at me like a crazy person.
"Two. I'll have two."
I worked to calm the surge of anger and frustration that swelled inside me from nowhere. Anxiety will do that.
If it's too loud at work, I start to get mad for no reason. If it's been too long since I've had some quiet, I start to ball up and push people away. I'll get my recharge one way or another. Too many expectations have me shutting down. Too much stimulation has me inexplicably angry. And I used to wonder what was wrong with me. I thought I was just mean or lazy or something.
But I found out it's anxiety. These are all common responses to anxiety. And now I'm learning to see the triggers and not get myself into those situations as often. It's a helpful thing to know what to call something, even if you're not sure what to do about it just yet.
Clearly I have some work to do. Clearly I still let it get the best of me occasionally. But with some mindfulness, things are looking better already.
I'm working the dream shift tomorrow. That's a midday shift where I get to sleep in AND have a night! AND I'll probably get to leave early.
I feel spoiled. I have nothing for you today except the full moon. Enjoy it. For once it didn't turn people into blithering crazies tonight. I'm going to rearrange my Tarot cards and put them in the moonlight for the night. Supposedly that's a good way to cleanse their energy. I'm not sure how much stock I put into that, but it can't hurt.
I've run into something in the last few years on occasion that makes me feel like maybe I might be a horrible person. Have you ever met someone who seems...too nice? Like...you inherently don't trust them because no one is THAT nice?
I work with a guy who makes me feel that way. He's so agreeable and nice, shares his food, thinks of his coworkers and surprises them with things, compliments them, etc. He really is, on the surface, a nice guy. But I don't trust him. Like, at all.
This weekend there was an issue at work, and he was really hurt. Not physically. Emotionally. He says he was told something, and that something, I KNOW FOR A FACT, isn't true. So someone in a circle of management and coworkers is a liar. They lied about a situation that occurred. Knowingly. And the only person who could have benefited from that lie was the nice guy. So...I'm led to believe that he's feeding many people a line of bullshit so long that no one can untangle it.
But he's so NICE!
And he's not the only one who has elicited that response in me. People who are genuinely sweet and kind and caring, I assume, must have something hidden in their lives. We used to have a customer when I worked at a bank in town who was all smiles and concern about how we were doing and what was going on in our lives. Her daughter was super nice and polite. Her husband was just great. And everything about her was damn near perfect. We all just assumed she was a murderer. Because who can be THAT NICE all the time?!
Why do we do this? Why can't I just accept the fact that some people are nice?
It just seems, sometimes, that people who do favors and pay compliments are covering for something, like a perfume trying to mask a particularly pungent odor. You know it's there, but the fog of niceness is so thick that you just can't make it out.
I dunno. My gut often tells me to be suspicious of things that are too good to be true. I trust my gut. Intuition is a powerful tool that I have learned to develop over the years from reading Tarot cards and reading customer service situations. If it seems like someone is trying to screw you, they probably are.
Hey, kids. I'm gonna slap this up here really quick before bed. (That's what she said.) I thought it might be interesting for those of you in the board game world (or those of you who are looking to dive in and wondering what's good) if I shared what my top ten highest rated games are according to my Board Game Geek account.
So, in reverse order and without any further blahblah, here we go.
#10. Ghost Stories - You want a co-op experience that will beat you down and make you want more? This is for you. Defend a town from invading spirits using limited means. The artwork on this is incredible! Check it out if you don't mind a challenge. We've played it 17 times and never won. So...you know...it's hard.
#9. Tales of the Arabian Nights - This is more of an experience than a game, but it's still super fun. You take one of the heroes from the Arabian Nights collection and journey across a board making choices and facing dangers. It's like a choose your own adventure story book with game elements. You might end up a sultan with vast treasure. You might end up a sex-changed beast man who is crippled and lost. You never know what's coming in this one! It seats up to 6, but if you play with the full complement of players, cut the points in half. We played this for 5 hours our first time.
#8. Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Another co-op experience that's FAR less challenging that Ghost Stories. This game has you fighting fires and rescuing trapped civilians before the structure you are in collapses around you and dooms you all. Each character has a special power. Each turn means more fire. Work together or die in a fire. There are some great expansions to this one available, too. More maps, different mechanics. It's a great time, and the difficulty scales to fit your ego.
#7. Carcassonne - What's to be said about this game that hasn't already been said? This is the game that got me into the modern gaming hobby. I bought a copy randomly from Barnes & Noble, and after Robb's and my first game, I knew I'd found something special. Lay tiles and assign workers to score points. You're building a map of cities and fields and roads, matching tile edges and claiming features to score. This is a fantastic entry level game that I would play any day of the week. It's got a pretty satisfying app version, too, with a fun single player solitaire version that you don't get in the box.
#6. Splendor - Splendor sold me originally because the coins in the box are MAGNIFICENT. They have a satisfying weight and sound, and that's why I bought this game. But! I'm so glad I did. Splendor has won awards ever since its release, and I would put it up there with the likes of Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan (now just called Catan) for games to introduce someone to if they're curious about the hobby. Take currency, buy assets, and let those assets work for you to buy even bigger assets. It's a slow build that really satisfies. Check out the app version. It's super well produced and quite fun.
#5. Catan - You knew it had to be on here. This game is the reason there IS a gaming boom. Without Catan, I just can't imagine modern board games being as good as they are. Roll dice to collect resources and build cities for points. First to 10 wins. Choose your starting points wisely or risk being forced to trade away hard earned resources for things you desperately need. The economy is tight, and the robber makes things tense when you feel like you might be pulling ahead. Give this a try. This is another game I own in several forms--including an app version that is pretty good and way cheaper than the actual physical game.
#4. Scrabble - I know. I know. This is not a hobby game, really. But I can't just leave it off a list like this. I've lost two games of Scrabble in my life, and they were both to the same person. You know who you are. To say I like this game would be doing it a disservice. It's simple. It's addicting. And if you have a huge vocabulary, it's almost a guarantee that you'll win. Wooden squares and a board. Simple and fun.
#3. Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion - The original Machi Koro is a good game. It's sort of like Catan without a board. You build a tableau of cards and roll dice to generate income to buy more cards. First person to build all four landmarks wins. The Harbor Expansion makes this game into a whole different animal. Instead of having every building available all the time, this version includes the marketplace, where only ten different building cards are up for grabs. The market rotates as people buy cards, forcing you to change your strategy based on what is available instead of what has been proven to work time and again (I'm looking at you Ranches and Cheese Factories). Cute artwork makes this game shine. Check it out. It's simple and fun and one of my favorite games.
#2. Five Tribes - The Mancala mechanic makes this game for me. Pick up and lay down assassins, merchants, builders, viziers, and elders to score points in several different ways. Control tiles for points. Collect cards for points. Kill people for points. Invoke powerful Djinni for points! POINT SALAD! ALL THE POINTS! I would play this game right now in the middle of the night with complete strangers if they asked me to. That's how much I love this game. Our version was lucky enough to come with a headless camel meeple. That's right. Headless. Robb claims him every game. But really, pick a strategy and run with it. That's the path to victory in this Mancala-inspired game that's anything but tame.
And finally, #1.
#1. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - Don't be turned off by the fact that this game is a one-time-through affair. There are very few games I've played 17 times. You have the chance to play anywhere from 12 to 24 games, depending on whether you win or lose each of this game's in-game months. Twists and turns galore in this one. Create characters and take them through a year of catastrophic unrest! Later game mechanics are extremely satisfying and challenging. If you like Pandemic, play this. If you've never played Pandemic, play this. Seriously. It's that good. The price tag is sort of high, but after having played through it, I can say that it's worth every penny. This is, without hyperbole, the single best gaming experience I have ever had for any platform. And that's saying a ton.
So there you have it, folks. My top 10, as rated on Board Game Geek.
Honorable mention goes to Traders of Osaka, a compact little economic title that I really suck at but I love. Another game on my short list is Betrayal at House on the Hill. The rules are a complete mess, but this game is super fun. 50 scenarios determined randomly in a randomly build mansion mean you never play the same game twice. And lastly, Rhino Hero made my short list because it's hella fun with kids or adults. Alcohol increases the difficulty and fun. Stacking cards like Jenga doesn't seem like much until you realize you've played six games of it and you're sweating like a hog. Check it out. It's super cheap right now.
Alright. I hope you enjoyed this look into my board gaming habit. Stay tuned for more blahblah later.
It's a little bit sad when someone you only know through social media unfollows you at all outlets. You'd think that a few years worth of a sort of friendship would mean more, that they might say something to you instead of just unplugging. But, them's the breaks.
So I had a disagreement with this person a few weeks back when he made a snotty comment about some kid who waited on him being rude, and he said he almost reminded the employee that he was "just a cashier."
I told him that I was "just a cashier," and that I thought his attitude about cashierhood was wrong. Just a cashier. Just the guy who listens to your bullshit, deals with your drama, and takes your money. Just the guy who is the face of the company. Just the first contact point most people have with a place. Just a cashier.
He tells me that if I'm offended by his words, I should do something to change my situation. As if the problem is that I've chosen to be "just a cashier." That I have chosen to be despised. That clearly I'm part of the problem.
As my mom always said, "If you think I'm part of the problem, then let me be part of the solution. Bye."
But I waited around because I figured that I had been friends with this person for several years, that we clearly had SOMETHING. And then I noticed that I had been unfollowed, defriended, and shut out. Well, alright. At least I know.
I'm trying not to let this bug me. To be all "good riddance" about it. But the truth is, it actually kind of hurts. And you think, "Oh, it's just some nobody you'll never meet. Who cares?" But people who have long-term internet friends will tell you that it does matter. Some of those people I'll probably never meet are among my best friends.
And the motherfucker never even apologized. So...eh. I guess I'm better off. The rest of you are still here.
P.S. For the record, except for one of you who probably isn't reading this, you don't know him.
Any of you who know me in real life probably know I'm a creature of habit. (Although my writing habits here would suggest otherwise, I'm sure.) I often order the same thing every time from a restaurant. I have the same morning routine as I did ten years ago. And changes of plans? Oooh. Count me out. In fact, you can keep your change altogether.
Some people might think that sounds like a boring life. They would be wrong, but we'll allow them their wrong opinion for the sake of argument. It's not that I fear doing things differently, or that I think I have the perfect routine and nothing can be improved upon. No, no. I just really like a good ritual. I guess you could call me a creature of ritual, although that makes me sound like some demon conjured up with blood sacrifice and made to run amok til a plucky band of teenagers and that one old guy everyone thought was crazy but it turns out he was right come along to save the day. A demon I am not. At least not that I'm aware.
Breakfast is a ritual. I open the blinds in the living room and kitchen. I have my coffee. I have a muffin or a donut or seven chocolate chip cookies or a piece of cake or pizza from the night before or whatever. I stand in the morning light (or haze, depending on how Illinois is feeling at that particular minute) and savor the dread that comes from a to-do list you know you won't get to. I decide what I absolutely will do that day and what I absolutely won't do. I finish my coffee. I take a shower.
And that's just the start of my day. I have ritual moments all throughout. Showering. Organizing my bag before I leave for work. Even my work day is one long routine made up of ritual moments. Counting drawers. Cleaning the roller grill. Emptying the outside trash cans. Cursing out customers in my head for stuffing two pizza boxes in the trash can hole sideways so they clog the opening of a perfectly empty trash can and make it impossible for anyone to use it. Cooking pizza. Stocking the cooler.
And as much as I rail and repeat, I love it. Now if I could just learn to notice when I'm doing it and try to focus on the joy of that, I'm sure my days would get better. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
I know it's been two days since I posted. I didn't quit. I promise.
Two nights ago I found I had an extra hour or so after game night, and I couldn't figure out where it came from. So I spent it watching videos on Buzzfeed. I love the Try Guys. I'll admit it.
It was only after I'd gone to bed that I realized I never blogged. THAT was where my extra time usually went. Derp. So...my apologies. I forgot. That just means I need to do an extra blog.
Two, actually, because I didn't write one yesterday. I was going to do it in the morning, but I ran out of time. And by the time Robb and I got home from SEEING NIGHTVALE LIVE IN CHICAGO, it was past midnight. Also, I thought of blogging on the train, but I couldn't figure out how to make that happen from my phone.
So I guess this is technically today's post. And maybe later today if I'm feeling saucy before work or after the bonfire (which will put me into tomorrow, I'm sure), I'll do another one.
By the way, we went to see a live episode of the podcast Welcome to Nightvale. It was awesome. Cecil Baldwin is awesome. And the fans of the podcast are awesome. Robb bought tickets several months ago because he loves the show. I'm just a casual listener. But it was a great time! I laughed AND cried. So...you know...bonus?
We spent the day in Chicago, walking around Navy Pier and Millennium Park like tourists. I fed a pink grapefruit flavored gummy bear to a seagull. We watched another seagull harass two people on a bench because he wanted food. And we got cruised by Captain Cruisealot. Guy kept walking by us with HERP-EYE. Get away. We don't want any. Also, cargo jeans. No.
It really was a great day. And only two more work days til the weekend. Hooray for hookie.
Not really. This is about motivation, what makes me tick, and how I determine what flies.
There's a funny thing about blogging. Some people do it for themselves. They put stuff out there just to do it, and take satisfaction from just that. I'm not sure I'm one of those people. I like to have some response. I like to know that people look forward to what I'm putting out there. I like to know what direction you appreciate me going with this blog.
And I used to have that, when I used to do this regularly. It's really hard to start over after having literally hundreds of people who read this blog and left feedback before. Anywho, I'm keeping on. I assume you have to have good content to draw readers, and this particular post isn't good content.
Today was my birthday. Is, I guess. There's only a few minutes left of it.
I laid out some cards earlier today, a sort of assessment of the year to come:
The top row is, from left to right, past--present--future. The bottom row is an energy/advice spread as it relates to the present card.
But what does it all say? Well, it seems I haven't found my purpose. That thing that makes me, me. Or I've lost sight of it. The Hermit is my life card, the one that signifies me in most readings, the one that speaks about my sense of self. And inverted, he's not in his element. He can't get the solitude and inner quiet needed to figure out the path ahead.
The second card, Death, is NOT ABOUT DEATH! It's actually an incredibly appropriate card for its place in this spread. The present is always changing. It's a fulcrum between the past and the future. Death is a card about change, about sloughing off the old self and transitioning into something new.
The future card is the King of Pentacles. My nemesis. I was reading a book called Understanding the Tarot Court, but Mary K. Greer and Tom Little. It's part of the "Special Topics in Tarot" series by Llewelyn. In it, an exercise asked me to lay out all the court cards and whittle them down til I found one I identified with--the Queen of Cups. Then it asked that I look at all the remaining cards and choose a nemesis, that thing you don't think you'll ever be, that thing that will always defeat you. The King of Pentacles has his shit together. He's financially stable and career minded. He makes good choices. Seeing that in my future spread was a big boost today. Maybe I'm headed in the right direction! Maybe the energy/advice portion of the reading will tell me more about how to get there.
So we come to the bottom two cards. First, energy: the inverted Sun shows that I don't think I'm living up to my potential. I'm not comfortable in my own skin. I'm not exactly confident that I'm doing what I should be. It correlates to the inverted Hermit card.
And the advice? Move. Find some better balance in life and move forward. Reign your masculine and feminine halves together and let them carry you ahead. But get out of wherever it is you are. That charioteer is not looking back at whatever he's leaving. He's taking on a new adventure. Maybe he's headed to a consultation with that King of Pentacles. Maybe in the future he IS that King of Pentacles.
And that's the spread. Nothing I didn't know. But interesting, nonetheless. I think it's time to start looking around for some new opportunities. Maybe something that lets me be both challenged and creative.
Happy birthday to me! May I keep growing and expanding on the path.
I'm in my last few hours as a thirty-two year old man. I'm pretty happy with how I spent my last day.
But let's rewind to yesterday, when I had an unexpected surprise from the Internet. If you've blogged or kept up on social media for any length of time, you know that the Internet can be a fertile plot in which friendships bloom unexpectedly. People you'd never meet (and may never meet) in real life are right at your back door. They might be faces and words on a screen, but in my life, they've been some of my realest and best friends.
Case-in-point. Yesterday I was at work and I received a message on Facebook from a couple I've known only online, despite the fact that they live within a two hour drive. We've exchanged words and generally been in each others' lives through social media, blogs, and such. Yesterday they were in town and extended the invitation for Robb and I to eat with them, but we were both busy--me with work and Robb with other stuff. So they dropped in to work for a moment to say hello, finally. And what happens the first time I meet them? They bring me a birthday present! Completely unexpected and amazing. It turned my whole night around.
Surprises from the Internet are a wonderful thing. And now we've met, so the awkward first meeting of Internet friends in real life is over (and it wasn't the least bit awkward). See? Endings. I tied it in.
And today Robb and I decided to try some new food with two of our friends. Different friends. So we went to a Greek restaurant in town for the Sunday buffet. Which was awesome. Holy hell. Falafel and tahini and hummus and baba ghanouj and the best chicken. It amazes me that almost thirty-three years into my life, I'm still trying new foods. Funny what we don't encounter unless we put in an effort to.
And then. Then we finished Pandemic Legacy. And I won't spoil anything, but it was amazing. There was this moment at the end when we all realized we were about to win. Smiles on every face. A sense of accomplishment ten miles wide. A weight sliding off our shoulders and onto this board that we'd been staring at two hours at a time for six months. We won.
And then? Then we got sad. Like finishing a television show (not How I Met Your Mother; that how can die in a car fire for its ending) or closing the back cover of a great book. We all sorta looked at each other and went, "Now what?" Our characters got packed away. Our board got folded up. And those little bits of paper and plastic that held so many memories already were packed away for a final time.
We plan to make shadow boxes out of the components. Cut the board up. Split up the pieces. Claim our characters. You know, like you do with a loved pet after it passes.
It's bittersweet. We finally get to play other games! And we moved right on to Hanabi, a cooperative card game about launching fireworks where you can't look at your own cards, but everyone else sees them.
That's the thing about endings. They're a fertile field for beginnings. Already we're forming plans for what we take on next while we talk about the great moments from Pandemic Legacy.
I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish up my year. On to the next one!
It's gonna be my birthday on Monday. I'll be 33, which is the same age Jesus was when he was crucified. I don't think there's any import in that; I just like saying it.
What am I doing with my last two days as a 32-year-old man? Well...tonight I work, which is sort of a bummer, because this has felt like a Sunday all day and I don't work on Sundays. Do you know how much I'd love to have a job where I didn't work weekends? Exactly 62 much.
Not sure about the scale on that one...
Sorry. It's a goofy day. So tonight I'm going to work and then go celebrate the birthday of a friend who shares the same birthday as me. She and I actually dated in middle school. And high school. Several times. Once I dated a guy for the exact length of time we dated, from exact start date to exact end date. How does that even happen? (Hi, Steve.)
But we're gonna celebrate. And I'm not going to drink and then eat 10,000 calories like I did last night. I'm sensing a pattern. Alcohol leads to consuming mass quantities. So let's just stay niiiiiiiice and sober.
And Sunday? Sunday we're playing Pandemic Legacy, which is an AWESOME board game that takes place over 12 in-game months. Go look up a review for it, because it's super neato. You try to fight disease from spreading across the world, and since it's a legacy game, choices you make in one game affect every choice you make down the road. You'll sticker and write on the board, tear up cards, and generally deface the game. This means that, yes, once you're through with it, you can't go back and play it again. Some people make a face at that. Yeah. That face. Wipe it from your face, because it's TOTALLY WORTH IT. You'll play a maximum of 24 games, two each month. Or a minimum of twelve, one each month. Although to play 12 you'd have to NEVER LOSE, which I cannot see happening. Ever.
We're all the way to November. And I still think the game has at least one more good surprise in store for us, although I haven't the foggiest idea what that could be. Guess we'll have to wait and see!
And that's basically how I intend to spend my last few days before my birthday. And my birthday? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.
Today I don't have a ton of time to blog, due to a strange work schedule and CARDS AND DRINKS TONIGHT!
All caps. Exciting. I've recently decided I like both euchre and Jack Daniels Honey. So...we're gonna do that tonight.
I was asked recently what I value most in life. Deep, right? Well, after very little thought, I decided that equality, love, and common courtesy were my top three--in that order.
But upon further thought, I realized that common courtesy is actually at the top of that list for me. In fact, after reflecting on it, I've reversed my list. If we could get common courtesy right--treating people the way you would like to be treated, saying hello, holding the door, letting others go first, and generally not being an asshole--it would be an easy step toward love.
And with love, we would HAVE equality. Because how could we not? With love we would want others to have the best of everything, including quality of life.
Anywho...that's my thought for the day. Work on common courtesy. the rest could follow.
This weekend I had the pleasure of delving into Jonathan Blow's The Witness on PS4 with my friend Jeff. And my friend Armand. Who turned out to be the smartest of us, to the shock of all.
For those of you who don't know, The Witness is an environmentally-based puzzle game for multiple platforms. Each puzzle in the game has you drawing a line through a grid of squares. That's it. It sounds simple, but it quickly becomes head-scratchingly baffling.
Sometimes you'll look at a puzzle full of dots and colored squares that look like a foreign language, hopelessly confused. Then you'll stumble across a simpler version of the puzzle that visually teaches you the rules for solving that type of puzzle. And when you finally make it through a series of lines through grids, sussing out what their particular solutions are, you'll go back to that original puzzle and realize the solution is easy! You just didn't have the rules before.
This happens OFTEN. Sometimes I stared at a puzzle trying to figure out its secret rules, only to determine I must not have the knowledge yet to solve it, and then turn around to see a simpler version posted across a beautifully rendered ruin. Other times I'd give up on a puzzle I can't figure out, and I never saw another of them in my time.
It's hard to tell if you're not seeing an obvious solution or if you're not equipped with the rules to solve it.
But the game is GORGEOUS. It's the prettiest game I've played in a long time.
There are blazing orange forests and crystal blue waters, all hiding hidden line puzzles in their nooks and crannies. And then...the ENVIRONMENTAL PUZZLES. Oh, man. This was basically our time playing: "Wait. Go back. I think I saw something."
I was scanning the environment for circles and lines as Jeff ran around the gorgeous island. In the sand, in the water, in the sky. We slowly scoured the island looking for these, making very little headway. But each time, the sense of satisfaction for solving or finding something was palpable. High fives and shouting! And then there were times where we KNEW something was a puzzle waiting to be solved but couldn't figure out the right angle to look at it from to make it work. And then Armand would say, "Wait. Try going over there." And bam. Solved.
It was a riot. For real. I desperately want to dive back into this world.
Currently it's available for PS4 and PC. Xbone? Maybe Xbone. I've read there are plans of bringing it to iOS and Android. That could be really neat. I'm thinking I'm going to buy my own copy of this soon. It's too good to pass on. If you like puzzles and don't mind occasionally walking away frustrated only to have an AHA moment later, do yourself a favor and buy this.
Tonight I canceled plans. Friday night was work. Saturday day was busy running around. Saturday night was work. Sunday I had lunch with my mom and raced home for volleyball, then went out to eat. Monday I had a friend in from out of town, and we caught up over PS4 (The Witness, Salt and Sanctuary, Jackbox Party Pack, and Chariot). He crashed here that night and we hung out again in the morning. Then I left for work. And this morning I raced off to an early shift and came home with plans to go play Pandemic Legacy (we're in November and LOVING IT) with some friends.
They were both feeling sort of icky and had some other things pulling their attention away, so I decided to reschedule for Sunday. My room was a wreck and it was stressing me out. I hadn't had any down time in almost a week. And I was just ready for some quiet time with no obligations. Some time when I didn't have to be "on."
I filed my Illinois taxes, finally. I owed $144. Fuck this state. But I only pouted for about 15 minutes before I decided that I can't do anything about it, paid my bill, and moved on. And the night was restful. And fun.
Would I have had fun setting up and blazing through another night of stopping disease from spreading across the globe? Sure! Would I have enjoyed going out to shop for new black pants for work? Maybe. Would I have liked to go spend my 20% off birthday coupon at Game Stop? Well, had I not spent $144 on nothing, yes. But I decided to stay home and recharge. Leftovers and shitty ghost tv. And cleaning. And cuddling the cat. And getting bitten by said cat.
And it was glorious. It has left me recharged for tomorrow and in better shape to take on the world when we get together for games on Sunday.
Cancel plans. Treat yourself right. Because you can't pour anything out of an empty glass.
In my job, I sell hundreds of dollars in lottery tickets every day. Everyone wants to be a winner. Even scarier, everyone EXPECTS to be a winner. Some people even get mad when they lose, as if the universe owed them a payout for past trauma.
I've had two jobs where I sold lotto, and in both of them, I've noticed serious baggage about luck. When I was 17 I worked at the BP gas station in a nearby small town. I was hired to stock the cooler. I spent four hours a day organizing pallets and making sure the beer was cold and the gatorade was in order. I felt super important. And after a few months of that, I began working the register.
The first time I ever walked away from a transaction it involved lotto. We had a guy who came in and got multiple quick picks on separate tickets. For those not in-the-know, quick picks let the machine pick numbers for you. They're random, or so the lotto people say. But we'll get to conspiracy theories in a moment. So this guy is convinced that in order for him to win, you have to dole out the quick picks in a specific rhythm. No, I'm not joking. I still remember him shouting, "Hit. Hit. Hit hit hit. Hit." And I was terrified and confused and he was getting frustrated and I just threw my hands up and said, "Look. I'm done with you." He learned not to pressure me after that. In fact, he stopped trying that strategy altogether.
Strategy. Let me tell you something. For every person who plays lotto, there's a different strategy.
I once had an African-American man shunt me aside and say, "This ain't for you!" Then he proceeded to tell my African-American coworker his lotto secrets. You have to play pick three. You have to play it dollar straight. Dollar box. Separate tickets. Straight means that if the three numbers hit in the order in which you picked them, you win. Box means if they come up in any order you win. The payout is smaller, but you still win. And he was convinced that it was, as he said, "a black-folk secret."
And it's something I've noticed is actually a fairly consistent way that African-American players buy tickets. White people buy StraightBox, which is if it hits in either way, you get a payout. It's smaller still than box play.
But everyone plays scratch off tickets differently.
Oh my gosh. Do they.
One person wants all the first tickets off the rolls of instant lotto tickets. One person swears the first ticket is never a winner.
One only buys even numbered tickets. One buys exclusively odd numbered tickets. Swears they are luckier. And if they're in an odd numbered slot in my lotto rack, they're even luckier.
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE CONTENTS OF THE TICKET ARE THE SAME NO MATTER WHERE IT IS.
Or when it is. A guy comes in and buys only tickets that are the same number as the calendar day. I asked him once, "So yesterday you wouldn't have bought this ticket? Despite the fact that its the same ticket it was yesterday?" And he looked at my like I was the stupid one. "You don't understand how this works," he said.
Some people ask about what number every ticket is on. Then they get offended if you ask what they are looking for.
They won't buy tickets from an cashier but me because I bring them luck. Despite the fact that they pick the tickets. And if they lose? It's my fault. I don't ever sell them winners. They won't scratch them at the counter, only in the car. They won't leave without scratching them at the counter. They only buy two at a time. They only buy one. They play the $30 tickets because that's the only way to win. They don't spend more than a dollar because that's how you come out ahead.
They swear their grandpa played the same way and won all the time. Or their aunt. Or sister. Or whatever. And then they mock other strategies. As if they've got this all figured out. Because OF COURSE. They're clearly swimming in money.
Because it's not random. How could it be random? They scoff when you say it's random. Randomness is the enemy of having it ALL FIGURED OUT. They all do. It's a science. Clearly.
I'm not against lotto. I don't think it's a scam or a conspiracy or it's rigged. One guy tried to tell me the nightly drawings with the balls in the air machine were fake, since it couldn't blow them around AND pick one at random. PHYSICS. AIR MOVEMENT. But randomness is RANDOM. You can't outwit it. You can't outsmart it. Science has been trying for a very long time. And if someone had it figured out, don't you think that lotto as an institution would be over?
Or that lotto would send out their assassins to stop your lifetime payout? Because you know they have them, right? They must. How else would they keep the secrets? Why else would people be so scared to talk about their strategies?
In that case, I sincerely hope they don't win. For their sake.
So today I saw a Tarot spread (Instagram - BrooklynTarot) depicting the presidential candidates and what they stand for. It was spooky how accurate it was. All the cards in the spread were inverted, except Bernie Sanders. He was depicted as the King of Cups, a major force of healing and good. Hillary was depicted as the Four of Swords, inverted, which is about entering a period of rest, of recuperation, and I've been saying for a while that she would be a sort of status quo placeholder until we were ready to accept the change and healing that Bernie Sanders offers.
I don't normally talk about politics. I try to keep those opinions to myself. They separate people and drive wedges where there need be no wedges. I feel about it the same way I feel about religion. If you want to talk about it, I'm game, but I'm not going to bring it up. Everyone is entitled to their own private beliefs.
I just thought that this particular spread was super interesting. And right now I care about the presidential race as a sort of turning point for this country. Before it was like, "Oh, great. Someone who will keep making progress toward a more equal future." And this race seems to be, "Oh, great. This is a watershed moment for our country, and a ton is at stake." While I don't consider myself to be a great patriot, I live here. I do care about how we are perceived by the rest of the world. A man like Trump in the white house would be a huge mistake. Someone who is well-recorded as being a bully and a bigot, a hater of women and minorities, and a general, all-around asshole is not going to do our country any favors.
Bernie Sanders has beliefs. He speaks out about what he believes and the direction he would like to see this country take. He isn't slinging mud and deflecting criticism in a personal manner like others are. It's refreshing to see someone NOT telling you why you shouldn't vote for the other guy and instead telling you why you should vote for them.
This card reading is just symbols on paper. And it probably largely reflects the opinions and energies of the person who drew these cards. I'd love to see this spread done by a Trump supporter. Are there Republican Tarot readers? But I find it interesting that these symbols on paper seem to speak to just exactly what I've thought in my core about these three people and the future of our country as a whole.
Maybe I'll give my cards a turn in the future and see what they have to tell me about all of this mess. If I do, I'll be happy to share the results with you all.
Also, and this is completely self-serving, if you want a reading on a personal matter--whether that be money or relationships or career or whatever--I'd be happy to do it. I need to hone my reading skills on people who aren't me.
I wasn't sure I'd get to put a blog post in today.
I was away all day and only now got a chance to sit down, only to find that our internet was out. And after reseting the router and fighting with my computer, during which I reached the point of considering how much it would cost to replace my laptop if I punched a hole in the monitor, it came back. Finally.
So this is gonna be rushed.
But here's the breakdown:
Coffee and half a jelly donut at home. An Arnold Palmer on the road to Mom's for lunch. Deviled eggs, wine, shrimp, and more wine there. Then ham and homemade scalloped potatoes, corn, milk, more wine, cake, and key lime pie. Also ice cream. A handful of Easter candy. A cup of coffee.
Then nothing til after volleyball. Robb plays in a Sunday league. I don't do team sports. Have we been over this before? Well, I just don't. So I'm their prime cheerleader.
Then Culver's cheese curds and a chocolate malt. And a single bite of a burger Heather ordered, which I wanted to taste.
Oof. I'm full. And feeling awful. It might have been close to a 10,000 calorie day. Maybe not. And I wonder why I'm getting a little belly.
Do you guys think life would be easier if we didn't have the ability to imagine a better life?
All the discontent we feel in life would likely disappear, wouldn't it? But would that mean that the advances we've made in sciences and technology, health and human rights, exploration and economy, would all never have happened?
I imagine that without imagining an ideal situation, we'd finally find contentment.
I was recently asked about what happiness would look like to me. And the closest thing I could come up with to happiness would be contentment with where I am in life. People talk about living in the now, about how where you are right now is where you're supposed to be. But is it? If I'm content with where I am, doesn't that mean I have no ambition to move beyond it? Maybe I am content. Maybe that's the problem.
Or maybe these things aren't mutually exclusive.
I suppose the qualifier "for now" is useful. Like that song from Avenue Q. "Except for death and paying taxes everything in life is only for now."
"Each time you smile, it'll only last a while. Life may be scary, but it's only temporary."
So where I am is good for now. But how long is that? Until it isn't? And how do we know what that is? Currently my job is paying my bills with enough left over for a little fun money. I hate the work. I don't feel fulfilled. Every day I want to backhand some entitled, arrogant, middle-aged, white lady. You're arguing with me over what amounts to less than a dollar. Why do you care so deeply? Why do I?
I think I need my back waxed. Not for hair, because that's not an issue. To make me more like a duck. That shit would just slide right off of my shoulders instead of causing me hours of rage, like a white hot ball of magma in my chest. My brain goes straight to revenge. To outlandish situations in which I could exact my petty payback. Bitch gonna cross me? I'll let all the air out of your tires. I'll surround your car in carts. I'll refuse to wait on you the next time you come in, claiming technical difficulties and making you wait in line again.
Sorry...got talking about work and lost my train of thought. Where was I?
Right. Ideal situation. The fact remains that we can and do think about how things could be better. Constantly. What would that ideal situation look like to me? I told someone today that I'd love to get paid to read Tarot cards. I'd love to get paid to write. I'd love to get paid to do as little as humanly possible, but I'd settle for something fulfilling.
I honestly don't hate my job, despite what I said about 200 words ago. The work is easy. It's the expectations and the social conflict that I hate. I find myself dreaming about a nice, quiet desk job. Something white with cubical walls. Maybe a phone ringing occasionally. Papers shuffling. Sterile and soothing. No customers.
Is that my ideal? Not exactly. Would it be an improvement? I don't know. I've been serving customers for twelve years. I imagine, despite the everyday drama, that I might miss it.
But I certainly don't think the situation in which I'm doing it is ideal.
I'm already being overly critical of this endeavor, and I haven't even started yet.
I've second guessed today's post several times. I've typed the start of six different posts and deleted them all. This is typical of a new project for me. It's like staring at a blank sheet of paper and wondering what to draw. I don't want to screw up this beautiful, untouched plane of possibility, but I know I'm going to have to. So I start with one line.
And then I get distracted by my phone or the stereo or the cat who is CURRENTLY PAWING AT MY LEG AND MEOWING PITEOUSLY EVEN THOUGH I JUST FUCKING FED HIM! *ahem*
Hiya! So here we both are. You sitting wherever it is you're sitting. Maybe you're standing. Perhaps you're leaning in a nook at your job when you should be working, stealing a few moments to look at this. Get to work, slacker. You're literally being paid right now to read my words, and none of that money is coming my way. Find me when you're on your break.
But you're here. And I'm here. And time is funny because I'm writing this when you couldn't possibly be reading this, but I'm pretending you and I are here right now. Together. Like we're sitting at a table separated by a cup of coffee and an ugly centerpiece advertising this place's new mocha bullshit they clearly ripped right off from Starbucks, and I'm just talking and talking like a terrible date where you don't get to say anything til the end.
But really I don't say anything at all of substance because I'm vamping for the next big idea to take the stage. And isn't that what a lot of writing is? Haven't got my gun loaded yet, so I'm going to ask you what your diabolical plan is to distract you from what I'm doing. And then...when you triumphantly cackle--BANG! And I'm the hero.
Or at least the guy who shot first.
So here's how it's gonna be. I'm gonna hit you with some talk about my board game collection. I'll talk to you about Tarot cards and what my experience with them has been. I'll probably tell you about my cat. About my pretend farm. About what I'm excited for in the future. About my plans for the year. About uniform changes and strange customers. About dinner. And maybe we'll come together on some truth. Maybe across this table of mixed metaphors we'll actually find something in common and you'll come back for a second date.
Thirty dates is a lot of dates. Maybe we should just bang and get it over with.
Hey, kids. I'm planning on hitting it hard in April and actually posting some blog posts. We'll see. My writing group suggested we do a novella-length challenge in the month of April--sort of a mini-NaNoWriMo. 500 words a day. I'm not exactly a wellspring of novella-length ideas, so I opted out. But to be in the spirit of writing and creating this month, I plan on posting a blog post every day. That's 30 posts.
Are they all going to be 500 words? Jesus...no. I don't have 500 words to say about much of anything lately. Could some of them be? Sure. It's possible.
What do I plan to write about? Hell if I know. I thought about finding one of those awful blog post topic lists. You know, like, first kiss, favorite movie, last time you killed a man with your bare hands--that sort of thing. But eh. I haven't seen anything I think is interesting, so I'll probably talk about what's going on in my life. Board games. Tarot. Video games. Job woes. You know...the usual.
Or maybe I'll forget I set this out for myself and get halfway through the month without putting a word out there, then collapse in shame.
Don't put your money on a horse just yet. I'm feeling like this might be a thing.
And contrary to my motto (It's not a thing; don't make it a thing. (Yes, my motto has a semicolon in it. Deal with it.)), maybe I'll make it a thing.
Thus far I've graduated college with an English degree (read: I work in a bank), come out to friends and family (read: I'm gay), accompanied my boyfriend of seven years to all kinds of sweet events (read: I'm taken), and managed not to make too many enemies in the whole process. Life is...