This morning, while I walked through my garden, I saw a bee on one of the flowers I planted. We have these trees in the back that have lots of flowers on them, and they’re covered in bees all day long. I’ve been seeing hummingbirds there, too. But I never seem to see bees in the flower garden I planted specifically for them to enjoy. So seeing just one this morning made me really happy.
There are so many metaphors in my garden: the bits I tried so hard to grow that never took root. The plants I have cared for season after season that have reached the end of their natural lives and will be cleared away for new plants. The flowers I pollinate myself. The scars where I pruned dead or dying stems. The new, delicate, hopeful growth.
For as long as I can remember, I and my fellow tabletop gamers have argued that it is not possible to have too many dice. It is known. This is The Way. It is only logical. Yabba dabba doo. And so on.
What I think we may have meant is, it is not possible to acquire more dice than any one of us would be happy to own. Obviously, if you can’t open your front door, you have too many dice. But how many dice tips it over from “this is cool” into “dude, you are a hoarder, but for dice” is unknown.
So about 10 years ago, I began a project to find out if it is possible for me to reach a point where I thought, “No, I don’t need that. I have enough dice.” Over the decade, people have given me various amounts of dice at conventions and personal appearances to support my research. (It’s been awesome to receive dice that come with stories of heroic battles, Wheatonesque probability breaking, dice that are almost as old as I am, dice from special events, OG color-them-in dice, and so many others.)
In addition to accepting these contributions, I pick up sets of dice the way I always have. The annual GenCon dice set, for instance, or the occasional “OH WOW THAT IS SHINY I MUST HAVE IT AND THREE OTHERS JUST LIKE IT BECAUSE OF REASONS” purchase from a game shop or random vendor.
Since the project began, I estimate I have collected a few thousand dice. Maybe around five thousand? I haven’t looked too closely because this is one of those very scientific studies that are about vibes, not numbers. These studies are very popular among think tanks.
The study remains ongoing. I did a vibe check this morning, and again just now. After measuring the vibes, I do not yet have too many dice. Looking to the future of the study, I suspect I could have two or three times this many dice, and still feel like there was room for more. If I acquire dice for the rest of my life at the rate I have acquired them the last decade, I will likely approach some value of “okay, maybe this has gotten out of hand” around 2060.
But now that I have all these dice, what do I actually do with them? Mostly, I just look at them and think about all the games they represent, all the hours of collaborativestorytelling and strategizing, all the time spent around tables making memories with friends. I feel good about my game room being the place these dice live, now. I mean, from one point of view, it’s all just hunks of resin or metal, right? From another, though … I don’t have to tell you. You get it. For me, it’s humbling, and it’s an honor, to sort of keep watch over these polyhedral symbols of time well spent and remembered.
Okay, that’s nice, Wil, but what do you do with them? Looking at them isn’t doing anything.
Sometimes, I pull out a couple fistfuls and see how badly I roll random dice when there is nothing at stake (quite badly, as it turns out). If someone needs dice for some reason, I pull out what they need and let them keep it. It’s a version of paying (rolling) it forward.
Last week, though, I found something new (and obvious) to actually, physically, deliberately do with them. I was playing Galaxian in my arcade, and I had this idea to sort some dice into shapes and colors, and then use them to lay out a simple 8-bit sprite. (I had this fun idea about stop motion animation that keeps pitching itself to me. It’s getting a lot of support in the room, but I’m not sure it can pass a full vote.)
Because it’s what I’d been playing, and because it’s incredibly simple, I assembled a Galaxian guy, and I gotta tell you that I really, really like how it turned out.
My next attempt will be a slightly more complex sprite. It’s bigger, with four colors, and if it works … well, maybe I’m gonna make a lot of these things. I guess we’ll see.
Remember how much fun it was to harmlessly TP your friends’ houses? How silly and goofy it was to ding-dong ditch someone? Just to do silly, childish, ultimately harmless expressions of being a kid who’s fooling around? Or how about playing hide and seek? Remember how fun that was?
Thanks to the Republican fascists who have gerrymandered and suppressed their way into minority rule In 21st century America, any of those things will now likely get you killed by a paranoid gun nut who won’t suffer any consequences. And when it’s a white man who murders a BIPOC child, his state’s Republican governor will pardon any consequences that somehow slip past the barriers to justice they’ve built.
Pick a side. There is no middle.
You’re with the fascists and terrorists, or you are with the rest of us. There is no middle. There is no “both sides”. One side wants as much death and terror on the streets as possible. The other side wants all of us to have healthcare and a home.
Pick a side. There is no middle.
You are with us, or you are with the domestic terrorists. There is no middle.
And to be clear: if you are with the domestic terrorists, you’re not welcome on my page or in my life. It’s not dIfFeREnT OpInIoNs. It’s literally life and death. There is no middle.
Maybe, thirty, forty, fifty years ago, there was some redemptive quality in the GOP. (Like, at the very LEAST there were Republicans who wouldn’t support a coup, or flood our streets with weapons of mass murder, for instance). Maybe it’s real hard to consider voting against the party you’ve always supported. I get that. Thing is, that party doesn’t exist now. That party has been replaced with violent, christian nationalist, white supremacist, fascists. And they are ALL in thrall to Tr*mp and Marjoriefuckyfuckfuck.
You can try to tell yourself that you don’t vote for their policies, that your candidate isn’t extreme. But when you vote for ANY Republican, you’re voting for those policies, because Republicans do as they are told by their fascist supreme leader, Donald Tru&p. They fall in line with the extremists. So if you aren’t an extremist, what do you do? If you want the endless slaughter to end, what do you do?
You pick a side. You’re with America, or you’re with the MAGA movement.
There’s a new girl in my kindergarten class who’s autistic and it’s like she’s barely / not really verbal but like idk she opened up to me a little, I don’t tell people I’m on the spectrum at work because they already treat me horribly because I’m the only poc there but like she’s a little Latina girl who I know exactly how she feels and like I was like “hey Nina, If you don’t wanna talk it’s okay, just thumbs up or thumbs down if you understand the (math) problem? Okay?” So we sorta made like a thumbs up and thumbs down thing between us and today it was the most surreal thing because I like “I know they tell you to make eye contact but I’m gonna tell you a trick, look at their neck, chin, hair, and whatever is behind them, I don’t like eye contact very much either? Thumbs up?” And she said with the smallest voice “Thankyou, for not saying I’m dumb” I wanna be the person I needed when I was her age
I hear other adults who also suffered as kids talk about how we want to be the person we needed when we were young. I hear it all the time, and it’s great. I love how we see and validate each other. I love it when I hear or experience a success story. It’s really wonderful. And it is beginning to dawn on me that on the other side of that choice are the people who needed someone, didn’t have that person, and instead of choosing to be that person when they grew up, they chose to perpetuate the cruelty and selfishness that hurt them.
And they act like they are tough and strong and powerful because they don’t let anything get to them … but that’s all a lie they tell themselves.
The truth is, they’re weak and afraid. And when they can’t sleep at night, they know it. And the scariest thing in their reality, the thing they will run from their entire lives, is that they will be found out and exposed. And that’s really sad. What a terrible way to go through life.
It takes courage and strength, vulnerability and dedication to be the person you needed, because when you are that person for someone else, part of you remembers and relives that you never had that. The people who choose indifference or cruelty aren’t strong or courageous enough to allow themselves to feel that pain all over again, so they just inflict it on others. They know they’re weak, they know that beneath the mask they are afraid. So all they have is cruelty, which is honestly the easiest thing in the world. It’s the path of least resistance for the people of least courage.
Being cruel is so boring. It’s lazy. Anyone can be cruel. It takes real, hard work to be kind.
Make the choice to be the person you needed, and commit to doing the work. Practice it, and break the cycle.
This weekend, we flew to Vegas for about 30 hours, to celebrate our friend’s 50th birthday. We’ve been doing this basic trip to Vegas and back since we were in our 20s. This was the first time we’d been in at least five years.
Turns out the Vegas you visit when you’re 50 and don’t drink is VERY different from the Vegas you went fucking bananas in when you were in your 20s. We pre-gamed Saturday night with a nap, went to a fancy dinner and a fantastic show, and then really went nuts with two desserts: cake pops in the restaurant, and then gelato in the casino.
Off. The. Chain.
I bet on the Kings to win, which they did. I ended Saturday night $19.05 ahead, and I was asleep before midnight.
Sunday, we went to the Rio (WOW it has really fallen into … wow) to play KISS mini golf, and visit this museum that a cynical Gen X punk who doesn’t particularly care for KISS (Strutter notwithstanding) could maybe call a monument to Gene Simmons’ willingness to license his name to literally anything in the world.
Here’s the thing. The best time I had during my 30ish hours in Vegas? It was playing stupid KISS mini golf. It wasn’t even a good mini golf course; it was just stupid fun with my best friend and two of our closest friends in the world.
I got a hole in one, and I ended with the lowest score, so we memorialized the occasion in the appropriate way:
When we were walking to our gate at the airport, Anne and I talked about how different the experience was for us, compared to the way it was when we were younger. I initially thought I’d outgrown Vegas, but I don’t think that’s right. I think that I’m just not that interested in what Vegas has to offer, and that’s totally fine. I don’t like to gamble and I don’t drink, so I’m not exactly in the demo, right? But we still had a GREAT time, and I think that, if we choose to go in the future, it’ll be similar to this trip: a fancy meal, a great show, and we’re back in the Valley before anyone notices we were ever gone.