Icebreakers

Y’know, I didn’t plan the title to be quite this appropriate, but after a quiet hiatus of two-ish months, it’s actually kind of fitting. I think of good icebreakers as fun little questions, or questions you ask “because why not?” And really good ones both break the ice and tell you something about the person you’re asking them of while they commence with said breaking of ice. Not totally sure why, but I’ve caught myself asking these kinds of things of my coworkers a lot more often lately – not because dialogue with them is awkward or anything, quite the opposite; I think it’s just because they’re sort of fun.

And why make it more complicated than that?

So without further adieu, Icebreaker #1: “If you were going to become an animal, what animal would you become and why?”

My favorite part to that one is actually all of the qualifying questions that usually follow it. “Like, at will, or forever moving forward?” “Right now, or is going to happen in a week or something?” “Will I keep my human intelligence, or just- poof! You’re a jaguar now?” And to answer those, the house rules we’ve been running with have essentially been “No, it isn’t an at-will kind of thing. It’s a permanent change. No, you don’t get a week to prep for it, it just happens here as soon as you answer – go with your gut. Yes, you keep your human intelligence.”

Obviously my second-favorite part are the answers themselves and their justification. That jaguar one was a real answer, and the given reason was that he wanted to be a house cat, but if he gets to keep his human intelligence, then a jaguar is like that but a bit more badass. Plus, if you’re going to answer the question and introduce a scenario wherein you’re now suddenly a giant cat, there are some follow-up questions that beg answers: How do you tell your family? Do you tell your family? Where do you set up your new home if so, or if not? If you’re a predator now, then what/where/how do you hunt?

The possibilities are ENDLESS!

Personally, I chose becoming a hedgehog; but truthfully, that was just a gut-reaction and I don’t think it was really a smart choice. I’d become super cute, sure, but I think, like, anything that lives outdoors can and would happily eat me. Or at least brutalize me.

Lookin’ at you, stray cats.

The other classic is “If you could have a super power, which one would you have and why?”

This one everybody has heard and/or given an answer to. Mine is pretty easy: telekinesis. It’s subtle enough that most times nobody ever has to know you can do it, but it can also get powerful enough that you’re a goddamn Jedi, plus there’s plenty of room for creativity with it. But you also run the gambit of Usual Suspects:

Invisibility – Ugh, says everyone. Though, credit where it’s due, one of my friends did say that she’d use it defensively instead of to be a creep. She’d just go invisible when she didn’t want people to talk to her, and I can respect that.

Flight – Sure, but how, wings or thought? And how fast? Either way, you’re going to need goggles or something, plus it’s going to get cold. That and a slew of other problems come along with choosing to fly. ALSO, it’s one of those powers where if you suddenly stop using it while you’re using it – you die.

Teleportation – See this one’s also problematic. Is it short-distance, Nightcrawler style? Or is it like in Jumper where you can just pop across the planet? And do you think you can focus enough and picture your destination clearly enough, honestly, to be able to not end up glitching into a wall somewhere?

This last one is a little niche, but I still think it can be pretty telling of the person who answers it: “What’s your favorite D&D class, and why?”

Naturally, this will be a little limited to tabletop gamers being the only ones who can give you informed answers, but we are a growing breed, and it can be a chance to introduce newbies. Also, it can be a good way to be surprised. One friend who I was sure would swing either for ‘stalwart paladin’ or ‘playful rogue’ hit me out of left field with “I think being a druid is cool. Taming beasts and kicking ass as a bear, or something. Rad.”

Rad indeed, Robert. Rad indeed.

Personally, my favorite class is and always will be the Ranger, even if they get a little screwed over by Wizards of the Coast in the stats department. But even if their class features receive lesser support than others, it isn’t really what they can do that makes Rangers the best, it’s…well, what they are. They are so freakin’ versatile – ranged support, melee damage dealers, exploration/expedition heads, utility spellcasting, animal companions if you lean that way, etc. I get that this statement is true for plenty of classes, but I feel it in my heart the most for the Ranger: you can build it so many different ways. System-wise, Pathfinder may have done it the best, with the inclusion of “Urban” environments as a possible Favored Terrain. One of my favorite Ranger builds was making an urban explorer that was a treasure hunter, with Constructs as his favored enemy.

Taking silver is sort of a two-way tie between Bards and Monks, but that’s a separate discussion.

Anyway, so, yeah.

A Different Look at Optimists II

(It’s a re-post, on account of being busy. Sorry + Thanks for being you!)

To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”

Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”

See how goofy it sounds when clarified?

It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.

It
grapes my nuts
chives my spuds
grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.

You know what isn’t easy?

Being an optimist.

And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.

And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).

We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.

THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.

You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.

“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”

Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…

…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.

It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.

This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).

My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.

Anyhow, peace y’all.

A Different Look at Optimists

To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”

Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”

See how goofy it sounds when clarified?

It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.

It
grapes my nuts
chives my spuds
grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.

You know what isn’t easy?

Being an optimist.

And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.

And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).

We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.

THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.

You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.

“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”

Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…

…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.

It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.

This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).

My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.

Anyhow, peace y’all.