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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons

I play Dungeons and Dragons. I know, it’s true, and astonishingly enough, I am not a teenage boy, I do not live in my parent’s basement, I have absolutely no tape anywhere near my glasses, which I only wear when I’m ill, and I have never owned a pocket protector. I’ll admit when I started playing, I didn’t expect it to become a lifelong hobby, but I’m certainly not complaining.

My introduction to the game came in the 7th grade with Ben, a guy in my class who had a crush on me. One day, I noticed that he was gathered around a table in the library with a few other guys. They had books and papers, and dice, and it sounded to me like they were telling some kind of story together. Ben would describe a scene, and the boys would in turn tell him how their characters were reacting. Fascinated, I asked him what they were doing, and he told me they were playing Dungeons and Dragons.

I didn’t start playing right then, because apparently Dungeons and Dragons was something only boys played, but oh, I was intrigued. I had spent the entire previous year pretending to shoot Cylons at recess, and I was ready for something new. No, I started playing when my Home Room teacher, Mr. Byrne taught a class on how to play it. The half hour after lunch was spent in something the school called “Exploratory”. Teachers were allowed to teach something they really enjoyed like crafts or hobbies, and we could sign up for the classes we liked. Mr. Byrne actually offered a class on Dungeons and Dragons, and I HAD to sign up!

Mr. Byrne became my first Dungeon Master, the person who told the story. He taught us how to make characters. Characters had their own jobs and abilities that they brought to the game. There were types of fighters, who could use swords and other weapons to fight enemies. There were thieves who were good at sneaking and disarming traps. Magic users could use magic to cast spells, and Clerics could heal. My first character was a thief. Using a purchased adventure, Mr. Byrne carefully described to us our first dungeon. He’d tell us what the rooms looked like, and using our characters’ abilities, we would tell him what we’d choose to do. As a thief, my character took the lead, sneaking through ancient hallways to uncover traps and search for treasure. We’d run into monsters, and fight them using our character’s skills, and some dice. I was hooked. It was absolutely the best thing I had done since last year's Battlestar Galactica days.

At the end of the class, I had graduated from my first dungeon, and was ready to try something new. Thankfully, because Ben had a crush on me, he graciously allowed me to play in his game with the other guys. I joined them around the library table, and I’m pretty sure I saved their character’s pretend lives more than once.

Unfortunately, the game didn’t last forever. Ben moved to a new school, and the game dissolved. I wandered off to do other things. Occasionally, I’d have a chance to play in high school, but never in a regular steady game. If you asked me then if I’d still be playing when I was a grownup, I would have answered no. It’s funny how life changes things.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Winter activities

I hate winter. I hate snow. I hate being cold. Anybody who knows me, knows this.

Why I ended up living in Utah where there's lots of snow is a mystery. Especially considering that I live in the state where the license plates say "Ski Utah" and I don't ski. I never have. There's a very good reason for this. See the first line of this post. Now add the fact that I'm a complete klutz, and I can't see paying a ton of money for the opportunity to be cold and miserable and falling on my bottom or breaking a leg for fun. These days my favorite winter activity is standing in front of the fire.

I DID participate in one particular winter activity growing up. We went four or five times when I was a teenager, and I really did like it when I went. I went inner tubing. It's basically skiing without any control over where you're going or how fast you can go. The ski lifts at some of the Oregon resorts where I grew up would cater to inner-tubes, and our church youth group would go and have a crazy time. We would hook our innertubes to the part of the ski lift especially designed for tubes, lay down, and get a lazy ride up the hill. Then we'd turn around, and slide down. If you wanted to stop, you simply had to roll off the speeding inner tube at the end, then pay attention to where the inner tube ended up so you could go find it and start all over again.

I should note that inner tubes are infinitely more dangerous than skiing is. We had someone get hurt every single year that we went. It didn't stop us, because I think all of the high speed tumbles from the inner tubes gave us brain damage. Either way, I am now happily a cave troll all winter long, and gleefully watch my children outside in the snow from my perch in front of the fire.

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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