The universe “takes care of it”

There is a certain view that if we just sit back and stop worrying, the universe will take care of it. But there’s more than one meaning of “take care of it.” Sometimes, “take care of it” is what the villain says upon learning that the hero, or one of the hero’s plucky associates, is alive and well and making trouble. Turning to Henchman Number One, the villain says, “Take care of it.” And you know that the Henchman off to murder/ ambush/ kidnap/ maim someone.

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Let it not be said that the universe doesn’t look out for us, for surely it does. Sometimes like a benevolent guide, sometimes like a sadistic yet curious mad scientist.

Sometimes, that’s how the universe is too. Here’s a real life example:

Me: So I was thinking that I’d leave for work early and stop to get that computer mouse.

Universe: That’s one idea. But, ooh, how about instead the heat and hot water at your apartment stop working? And you can make a phone call about that.

Me: I hate phone calls.

Universe: Would it be better if a glass shattered on the floor right before you have to make the phone call?

Me: No, not really.

Universe: Ah, well, too late. No big deal, right?

Me: No, I suppose not. The glass broke in large pieces.

Universe: Right! Look at you, taking care of stuff like a champ.

Me: Yeah! I even still have time for lunch.

Universe: You know you have to clear off your car, right?

Me: Fine, no time for lunch. At least I have time to eat in the car.

Universe: No, now there’s blood. You have to take care of this.

Me: Blood? Where the hell is it coming from?

Universe: Your finger.

Me: Fine, I’ll put on a band-aid.

Universe: No, you can’t reach those.

Me: Well, then I’ll awkwardly wrap my finger in a napkin that I can kind of reach.

Universe: There you go. Now you can have lunch.

Me: No, I can’t. My finger is awkwardly wrapped in a napkin.

Universe: If you drive fast, you’ll have time to eat a few bites of sandwich before you walk into the building.

Me: That actually worked. You know, I’m not even in a bad mood. Despite all this.

Universe: Ok, that’s great! Now, how about you meet the person who was hired for that job you asked about all those months ago, but you didn’t follow up on it because you’re a big wimp and now you’re stuck making $10 an hour with the least flexible job in the world?

Me: Hi!

Universe: Good job. Now, how about that bad mood you mentioned earlier?

Me: Yes. I am totally depressed now.

“Checklist,” a blackout poem

What I like about blackout poetry is that it’s sort of an inverted version of pinhole cipher, where a hidden message is concealed in printed matter by pinholes under the words of the real message. I used to make pinhole ciphers on discarded newspapers in cafeterias and coffee shops, just in case someone noticed.

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“Checklist. Smile smile smile smile. Imagine the lie.”

If I had nine lives, I’d use one of them to be a spy who retires and opens a coffee shop.  Preferably, the spy part would be in the early half of the twentieth century, before analogue cryptography was completely outmoded.

With blackout poetry, I can just sort of pretend that someone sent me a secret message and pick out whatever words or syllables interest me.

I didn’t have any particular plan when I did this one, but it’s clear to me that this poem explains how I deal with a lot of social niceties, particularly being asked how I’m doing when I’m not doing well, but I don’t want to say so. Smile, smile, find some sort of lie, and try not to sigh depressively.

Not that I would put on such a charade at my spy coffee shop. I like to think I foster an atmosphere of erudite grumpiness.

Dungeons & Dragons & Depression

Excluding my flower inspiration message, it’s been three weeks since my last post. One might think that I haven’t had anything to say, that nothing noteworthy has happened in my life or crossed my attention for the last several weeks. The opposite is true. As of this writing, I have 49 post ideas in a file, with 20 posts already started, some even mostly completed, that I haven’t bothered to upload.

Depression saps energy, takes up a lot of mind space, and is also damn boring. Medication has its uses, but comes with its own set of issues. Coping without medication involves frequent exercise, activity schedules, journal-keeping, and doing CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) exercises. All of which have been proven effective, and take a buttload of time to complete.

I’ve found that if there’s one thing more difficult than fighting against depressive lethargy, it’s prioritizing the time I have left to me. There are a lot of things I want to do with the remaining time in my day: back exercises; write blog; write novel; write current short story; edit other short story; work on assignments for How to Think Sideways; learn more about graphic design; learn more about locksmithing; do vision exercises; learn more about current events, electricity, meteorology, geology, and car repair so I don’t have to be embarrassed when these subjects come up; go on adventures; practice drawing; search for new job; search for new apartment; research yurts instead of searching for apartments; and practice drawing.

In other words, it’s the same dilemma I run into when I make a Dungeons and Dragons character. More often that not, I play skill based characters, like rogues and bards. Choosing between the many skills is both annoying and difficult. And for every single skill on the character sheet, I can come up with some kind of excuse for why I need that skill.

What good is Hide if you can’t hack your Move Silently check? Points to both!

Handle Animal? If we run into an animal, this will be so useful.

Bluff? Well, what if I have to lie to an animal? And if it has the same number of points as Diplomacy, I don’t have to worry if I’m lying or telling the truth!

Use rope? I’ve absolutely got to be able to use a rope. Every nerd remembers how important Samwise thought it was to have rope. But what good is it if it just sits limp in my hands because I can’t fathom the deep mysteries of how to operate it?

Disguise is a particular weak spot for me. I always imagine that putting points into disguise will result in something like this:

When in fact I don’t tend to find a lot of opportunities for Disguise at all.

And on, and on. Every single skill has some kind of useful appeal, except Listen and Spot, which are generally ignored by the bulk of my group. The end result is a character who has two points in everything except Listen and Spot, and consequently, never does anything because someone else in the party specialized in whatever skill check is needed, and is the more logical choice to make the check.

I’m sure by now you think you know what direction I’m going with this fairly obvious analogy*, but you’re wrong. I’m not going to compare the minutes in the day with a character’s allotted number of skill points, or state with flashing lights-obvious double meaning that true strength of character comes from prioritizing, choosing what is truly important over what is simply nice to have.

No.

Here’s my take-away from all this soul-searching and blogulating and youtube video-seeking: Put all your damn points in Disguise. In D&D and in real life.

But of course, you’ll need a few in Bluff also, so you can speak in disguise. And Diplomacy, in case you have to tell the truth. And Escape Artist, in case you get locked up anyway by the guy who was the sheep.


 

*Because you’re crafty, and you put due skill points into Knowledge: Obvious Analogies that Show up on Blogs.