On Endings

Recently, my hard drive crashed. There was a long 2 month saga of trying to get it fixed, including two weeks of being lost in the mail and several phone calls involving pretending to be my mom, shouting, crying, and more headache. Needless to say it was incredibly stressful. After that incredibly onerous process, I was really hoping for a happy ending, but it was not to be. Nothing could be recovered. Luckily, all of my photos were backed up to the cloud. However, so much was still lost. Old assignments, journal articles, teaching resources. Probably the biggest lost for me were my old stories and journal entries.

It’s funny, because I didn’t regularly use that hard drive. It wasn’t like I read those files every day to reminisce (maybe if I had, I would’ve backed them up elsewhere as well). But I would occasionally do so and I liked knowing that I had them if I ever wanted them. Now that I’ve lost them, of course, I feel the need to check them out all the time and an odd empty feeling when I remember they are lost forever.

My best friend in college and I spent probably hundreds of hours working on a universe and characters that we just referred to as “The Sci Fi Story.” I wrote a bunch of short stories about it and we have so many notes on the small amount of plotting we did (we liked inventing characters a lot more). Mostly, we have a lot of timelines (No joke, I managed to rescue- from email- files entitled “Very Useful Timeline” through “Very Useful Timeline 8 overhaul”). Somehow though, I lost the majority of the short stories I wrote.

No problem, I figured. I could just email my old friend. We had been out of touch for awhile, but I have so many long distance friends who easily reconnect even when we haven’t spoken in months or even years (in fact, one I haven’t spoken to in about 3 years messaged me today about my wedding dress!)

In response, I got the most passive aggressive email I have ever received, beginning with¬†“Wow, an email from you out of the blue! What an unexpected surprise.” and including such gems as “As things stand right now, it is not enough of a priority for me to spend effort on at this time.”¬†

I honestly don’t know if it’s the loss of the stories or the friendly acquaintanceship I thought we had that makes me more sad. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am incredibly disappointed. We were almost inseparable in college for three years and remained close for the next year or two while I was in graduate school. We had a pretty intense falling out and didn’t speak for three years until I reconnected with her about 5 or so years ago. It’s been rocky since then but I had hoped we were friendly enough to at least occasionally catch up. It wasn’t that long ago that I was visiting Chicago and spent the day with her. I guess this relationship, along with the hard drive and the sci fi stories, is just another loss.

Maybe it’s the hoarder in me, but it’s hard for me to view this as an opportunity to start over and create afresh. I could always have done that, but I can never get the writings (and other various data) back. I guess this is just what endings feel like- bittersweet. An excuse to start anew, but a loss of something you hoped to have for some time to come.


Dragon Thrones

This weekend I had the great fortune to participate in one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences ever,Dragon Thrones. My fiance and I made a last-minute decision to attend, just 2 months before it happened. The description sounded incredible- and it was.

About a hundred people participated, all dressed in renaissance-like costumes, acting as fantasy characters on a college campus with buildings that look like medieval castles. From 1 pm on Friday to about the same time on Sunday, we were all entirely in character. We ate meals in costume while discussing politics with other characters. We watched magic shows, talented singers, dancers, and comedians in the Great Hall in character. Not to mention, of course, the majority of the time spent running around as a Diplomat (my character’s role) speaking with leaders of other nations, making trades, alliances, or demands. There was time for personal missions as well, like my team’s (the Draconian Federation) missions to find and hatch dragon eggs and my character’s mission to seek out someone who could help return her magic to her. In case you were wondering, all of these missions were successful!

Meanwhile, war was occurring of course, on the two continents and the Generals from each team spent their energies building troops and structures, using the alliances from the Diplomats to attack other teams or defend against them.

It was incredible. Everyone’s costumes were amazing and the roleplaying was impressive. I spent the first day and a half running from room to room, making trades and alliances with other nations, being one of the first and the few Diplomats to complete our trade goals. I was so successful at this, I was even able to ascend as a Queen of my people.

The game was so immersive, time just flew by. We were up until 1 or 2 am each night because there was so much to do in character. For example, at around 11 pm one night, we found out that a human nation found our dragon eggs that a different nation (one we were allied with by marriage) had stolen from us. This set off a flurry of activity that didn’t end for about 2 and a half hours. We collapsed into bed each night, minds still whirling, dreaming of Dragon Thrones.

And still there was so much more to do! I missed attending the ball (which included dancing lessons) because I was needed (and wanted) to hatch more dragon eggs. We had a cool puzzle that one of the GMs made that I was interested in working on, but never even got to look at because I was so busy in my social role (which I loved doing!)

Part of what made it so extraordinary, were the people. Besides having gorgeous costumes and being amazing roleplayers, everyone was extremely friendly and kind- especially to new players. Though we may have yelled at each other in character or been enemies in some other way, it was clear that there were no hard feelings or insults actually done. My team of Draconians was amazing as well. Despite the GMs trying to cause dissent, we were one of the most united teams. We were often on missions together or plotting with each other in our War Room. One of my personal favorite moments was when our discussion was interrupted by the spotting of a giant cockroach. Apparently, nothing clears a room of strong dragon-blooded faster than a large bug.

Personally, I felt this experience helped me grow as a person. As Queen Cynia of Ashbridge, I was confident, strong, efficient, inspiring. I talked with different groups of people with ease. I led my team in diplomacy and in other ways without a second thought. I never doubted myself, my anxiety was nowhere to be seen or felt. It showed me that a part of me, Stephanie, is Queen Cynia. A part of me is also confident, strong, efficient, inspiring. A part of me can do those things with ease.

I was shy in the beginning of the weekend. As we sat in the Great Hall for the first time, I looked around at other teams and people interacting with one another and wished I had the confidence to do that. I asked the Queen of our team if I should go speak to other nations and she encouraged me to do so. I took the first step, and I walked over to the leaders of the Elven Coalition, and I spoke to them. That first step was all I needed to form a strong alliance with them, and start being one of the most effective Diplomats in the game.

I am taking that home with me. That ability to take the first step. To do something scary, outside my comfort zone. Something that I want to do, but am too nervous to do. I am taking home that confidence. And most importantly, I am taking home a sense of friendship, of welcoming, of being at home with all the amazing people I met this weekend.