There’s an ever-increasing pile of laundry at the foot of my end of the bed. It started out small, just a few pieces of underwear and socks, remnants of a few days. It’s growing bigger and bigger, as each week goes by and James does more and more laundry, and I continue to not put it away. I know I should put it away. Every time I see it I think about putting it away. But that would take minutes. Several minutes. Minutes that could be spent on other things, like hiding under a blanket and feeling terrible.
Depression is an obsession turned inwards. Some people are obsessed and begin collecting, like that one former neighbor of James. Or they are obsessed with a certain ritual, like washing their hands or passing a threshold a certain way. Sometimes they are obsessed with a person, like that one lady who was an extra in that zombie film I was in. She was obsessed with Marilyn Manson.
When I was nine years old, I was sitting in the living room after school watching cartoons. Suddenly something went off. It was like a lightbulb in my head or something. I can’t get rid of it. For nineteen years now.
I’ll sit there and I have to flick my eyes like that. Four to the right, two to the left, three down, two up. And of course if you flick your eyes one way to have to flick it back and so you have to start the whole process over again. It hurts if you don’t. I don’t know what exactly hurts. I have to do it physically too. Even as I’m typing this I have to twitch my pinkies if I feel off-balance. If I type too much with my left hand or something, I have to twitch my right pinkie four times to fix it.
To be honest I have never, ever talked about this because I feel it is genuinely something insane about me.
But depression is an obsession with feeling negative about yourself. So this pile of laundry grows (waves her thumbs four and two) and I won’t do anything about it (twitches her thumb knuckles three and two) and I won’t do anything about it. Maybe because I need to feel bad about myself. Every time I look at that pile of laundry, I think, aha, look, there’s proof that you’re terrible, you won’t even put your laundry away. Like my mind feeds on that negativity. (four and two, four and two, four and four) (one two three)
Sometimes lately I’ll be working and all the sudden the thought will pop into my head: Aren’t you tired? Yes, I am tired. All the sudden I’ll feel absolutely exhausted and I’ll literally sigh out loud from how tired I feel all the sudden.
There was a list of things I was going to do today:
1) Work from 6:30-12:15
2) Take a shower
3) Eat lunch
4) Refill prescription
5) Call doctor, confirm time with therapist
6) Read, take a nap
7) Work from 5:00-10:00
1) Worked from 6:30-11:45
2) Ate lunch
3) Paid student loan
4) Took a shower
6) Worked from 5:00-10:00
Today was a good day nonetheless. I think because I read in the middle of it. A good day.
(pokes to the right four times)
(flicks thumb down three, right four)
It is lovely to get messages from people saying that they love me but really the problem is that I’m having trouble loving myself. I should start by putting away that pile of laundry. Tomorrow though. Tomorrow I will put away that laundry.
I haven’t been sleeping well the last few nights. Or more specifically, I haven’t been sleeping enough. I woke up at 5:00 AM yesterday, worked a double shift, got off work at 11:00, went to bed around 1:30, woke up at 5:00, then went to Starbucks again. Fortunately I have the afternoon and evening off. So I went home, curled up in bed with Elizabeth Rawson’s biography of Cicero, and fell asleep sometime after the trial of Verres.
I had a good three-hour nap and I had the creepiest dream. That’s right! This is a dream post! And you started reading it! hahaha
I’ll keep this brief.
So somehow, I was in this context that involved me going into 12 rooms, one at a time. Each room had some sort of deadly thing to overcome. I don’t remember most of them. The ones that I do remember, I was told that I had to lock myself in the room for a minute and I couldn’t let anyone in. Unlike all the other rooms, this one had two doors. I locked both doors and waited.
After a moment, someone started knocking on one of the doors. The little girl on the other side asked to be let in. She sounded more and more desperate, until she started shaking and rattling the door and screaming in fear. I went to open the door but then I realized I was able to peak through one of the door slats. I did, and realized there was a velociraptor on the other side.
I jumped back in fear and ran to the other side of the room and started shaking, while the door began shaking and the requests to come in got stronger and stronger. It sounded just like a little girl. Finally I couldn’t take it, so I ran out the other door.
I ran straight into one of the other rooms. There were three lights. They blinked down, and then the room began to fill with a black ooze that I realized would eventually solidify and kill me. The ooze was rising fast.
I have no idea how I got out of that one but I remember that one of my competitors turned into my friend and married Chris Evans, who turned out to be a prince. It was a wild dream.
So several weeks ago, I was driving in my car. It was late, so NPR wasn’t playing anything good, and neither were any of the pop or alternative stations. 40 was mostly empty. I was able to safely let my mind wander, keep half an eye on the road and just do some introspection.
I broke myself down into things that I can contribute to society. What am I? I like history. I like dogs. I like writing. I like being around books. I am very good at learning languages. And looking at those things, if I had to be completely honest, only one of those is a unique skill. I am good at learning languages. I enjoy learning languages.
So I thought, that’s it. I’m going to become a foreign language teacher. That is what I am meant to be. That is the unique thing that I am meant to do on this earth.
So for the next few weeks I struggled with wanting to be a Latin teacher or a Spanish teacher. Latin is fun, but Spanish is useful.
Yesterday I did volunteer work for Wake County Animal Center. We went to a barbecue place and encouraged people to contribute to Wake County. It was successful all around, although I got sick and had to leave early (I have absolutely no idea what made me sick, but I popped some pills and lay in the dark for several hours before I felt better). But I had fun for a while, meeting some of my fellow volunteers and talking with people at the barbecue place.
One of the volunteers was a woman named Rebecca. She was a former science teacher. According to her, “North Carolina hates teachers,” so she quit. She is now pursuing a PhD in science education, and hopes to do education research and run science education programs for the rest of her days.
I can back her up on North Carolina hating teachers. I’ve been getting conflicting evidence back and forth. North Carolina teachers are underpaid, given class sizes of 40, and expected to teach to a test, with very little room for creativity and have an overall lack of support from administrators.
I told her that I had moved to North Carolina partially to become a teacher. “Oh this is a great place to learn to become a teacher,” she said. “But don’t stay here. Get your education here and move someplace that likes teachers.”
I know that James wants to stay in this area. I’ve mentioned to him a few times that we could move back to DC eventually. “But we won’t afford anyplace nice up there,” he said.
And besides, I’m really enjoying the lack of traffic around here. Plus, whenever I drive around Fairfax County I’m filled with bad memories and regret. But there’s not a whole lot stopping us from, say, moving to Richmond or Roanoke or Virginia Beach. I know the Richmond area is always looking for Latin teachers, and Spanish is an in-demand subject everywhere. But what is the point of studying education in a state that doesn’t value education? I might as well study Italian and German and then throw myself into Classics for the rest of my life. Or just give up and get a Masters in library science. Or give up even harder and become a Home Depot employee until I die. They like me well enough.
It’s getting time to start applying for college again. I really need to make a decision soon.
When we last saw our heroes, they were in the middle of a Crime Family den. Their tank was down, their wizard out of spell slots, and everyone was down to single-digit hit points. Who knows when the villainous Crime Family will stumble upon them?
This week, we find out…
Never. No one interrupted them for the eight hours they needed to recover from the first half of the bloody dungeon. We stuck wedges under the door to ensure they couldn’t get through as easily. A watch was set up; Sariel took the first shift. The DM rolled a die and was surprised to see that no one even tried to interrupt them.
So after a peaceful eight-hour nap, the Scooby Gang decided to try the other door in the barracks we were resting in. It opened to a twisty flight of stairs. At the top, we opened the door and discovered a reasonable-sized octagonal room, lined with bleachers in three levels. At the bottom was a dirt floor with some scattered bones. There was an archway leading one way, and a portcullis blocking the other way.
We decided to try the archway first. The way was a gently-turning sort of corridor. Towards the end of the tunnel, we could hear some gentle rumbling.
We discussed amongst ourselves what to do. It was probably an ogre. Was it an ogre? Should we leave? Should we engage in combat?
Finally an ogre stumbled out. Heath clapped in glee. “I love your ogres,” she said.
“Eh, what’s going on?” muttered the ogre, with a slight British accent. “There’s no one here to watch us fight.”
“We don’t want to fight,” said Narcisse. “We’re just lost.”
“I don’t want to fight you,” said the ogre.
“We won’t fight you,” said Narcisse.
“Well…okay,” said the ogre.
“Have you seen any human women?” asked Narcisse.
“Through that door,” said the ogre.
“Thank you. You can go back to sleep now,” said Narcisse.
So we all agreed to head back to the portcullis. Our characters were obviously quiet, so as not to wake the sleeping ogre. Vibe managed to wrench open the portcullis. The DM giggled.
We walked down the corridor, and found ourselves back in the three-door room we had first encountered last time. Our wanderings had accounted for two of the doors. It was now time to try the third.
Clearly Sariel’s mother was behind this door. We prepared for a fight. Vibe opened the door. We encountered…another door.
We opened the door. This time, we found a two monstrosities:
And it was feeding time.
Narcisse cast Web. The two dogs easily dodged the strings, but their thuggish caretaker was not so lucky.
“Ahhh! A web! Get them, my devil dogs!”
They dove straight for Morthos, who screamed as their acidic saliva burned into him.
“Can I pick you up and use you as a club?” Vibe asked him.
We all ganged up and slaughtered one of the unnatural beasts. Sariel managed to nick him, and Rollin missed his shot completely. Narcisse’s Magic Missile did a number on him. Morthos transformed into a direwolf and jumped at him. It was a brief teeth vs. teeth fight, but Morthos finally dug his teeth into the dog’s neck and tore it open. Rollin took out his sword and finished the job. He found a key around the dog’s neck, and pocketed it.
The thug pushed uselessly against his chains. He let out a soft whine.
Narcisse considered him. “Where is the human woman?” she asked.
The thug continued to moan.
“We won’t kill the other one if you tell us where the human woman is.”
“Through the North door,” said the thug.
So we hog-tied the second dog, took the key off the dog’s neck, and left the thug to cry in his web.
Vibe tried to rip the north door off its hinges. But the door was unlocked but firmly secured to its frame, so he ended up swinging with the door, and fell straight into the trap on the other side. He landed directly on one of the spikes.
“Wait, guys,” I said. “I got this. I’m gonna use lasso.”
I still have no idea why they tolerate me taking time out of the game to try to lasso random things. But they do. Sariel prepared her lasso, swung it down, and lasso’d Vibe on the very first try.
Morthos direwolfed and with our combined efforts, we were able to pull Vibe out of the spike pit. There was another door, beyond the spike trap. Sariel leapt across the trap and went straight for the door. It swung open easily.
The room was lovely, or as lovely as a final boss room in an underground dungeon could be. There was a bistro table and a large four-post bed with a chest at the end. Laying on the bed was a woman dressed in some imitation of fine clothing. In the corner was Sariel’s mother, bound and gagged. Behind her was a large, thick woman, holding a knife to her throat.
Sariel stepped into the room and sat down nicely at the bistro table.
“You must be Aunt Primrose,” she said to the woman on the bed.
“Where’s the diamond?” asked Aunt Primrose.
“Why is there a knife to my mother’s throat?” asked Sariel.
The other members of the party began hanging out by the door. Narcisse stepped into the room.
“Insurance,” said Aunt Primrose, smiling with a full set of fake teeth. “My consort is seeing to it that she’s being kept well.”
“She has a knife to her throat,” said Sariel.
“Where is the diamond?”
“Take the knife off my mother’s throat.”
“They said you wouldn’t have it,” said Aunt Primrose. Smiling at our piqued interest, she said, “We were hired to by some people — Elvis something.”
“I knew it,” hissed Sariel.
“They said that if you didn’t bring the diamond, tell them — tell them that the Crimson Claw sends their regards.”
We all scrambled to remember who the hell the Crimson Claw was. They were the incompetent cultists that attacked the Professor in the very first session. I had registered them so little that I hadn’t even included their name in the write-up.
“So wait,” said Sariel. “You don’t even want the diamond for yourselves. How much are they paying you for the diamond?”
“That’s a good price,” said Sariel. “But I am very rich. I will give you 3000 GP just for letting my mother go.”
“What do they even want with the diamond?” Narcisse asked.
“Why would we know?” asked Aunt Primrose.
“I’m just saying that it doesn’t mean anything to you,” said Narcisse.
“It’s not worth breaking the contract,” said Aunt Primrose.
“Why, are you scared?” Sariel asked. “Where are they? We have resources, we can take you where they can’t reach you.”
“They’re in enough places.”
“Well,” said Narcisse, “I know of a lovely tropical island where two loving people can spend the rest of their days safely with…5000 GP?”
“This is getting boring,” said Aunt Primrose. “Since you don’t have the diamond, we might as well just kill you.”
Morthos cast Thunderwave. Aunt Primrose and her girlfriend flew backwards into the walls. Sariel and her mother fell over in their respective chairs. Narcisse kept her ground; her hair flew backwards, dramatically beautiful.
Primrose was the first to recover from the Thunderwave. She ran straight for Vibe, standing in the doorway. Vibe managed to dodge. Sariel was next to recover. She pulled herself up and went straight for Primrose, but Primrose was easily able to parry. Narcisse managed to get her with a spell.
“Here’s something of equal worth to that diamond!” roared Vibe. He stabbed her in the side of the head. Blood began pouring down the side of her face.
Morthos direwolf’d again and tore a chunk out of her leg. Rollin got in a solid stab in her side.
The consort, having finally managed to get herself up, ran straight for us, screaming, mace held high. She smacked Morthos with it. Morthos bit her in the face. Rollin shot her, straight into the eye. The arrow poked out the other side.
Primrose dropped her sword.
“I surrender,” she said.
Sariel was so surprised she missed her attack.
But Narcisse wouldn’t fall for it for a second. She got in a solid Magic Missile and killed her.
Sariel went and untied her mother.
“Well it took you long enough!” said Sariel’s mother, who I guess doesn’t have a name so we’ll just call her Mom. “Where have you been? I’ve been stuck below in this tacky room for ages!”
“I would have expected you to at least be grateful,” said Sariel. “I mean, it’s not like I just killed like five people for you or anything.”
Sariel and her mother argued a bit until finally her mother said that she would throw a party, and to expect an invitation next week. Which is not quite a thank you. But whatever.
In the final room we found treasure to celebrate our hobo-murdering ways. We took the treasure and Mom back to Sariel’s family’s fancy manor.
“I want to take the treasure inside,” said Sariel.
“I don’t trust you,” said Narcisse. “It’s not going to come back out.”
“I don’t want to keep all of it,” said Sariel. “I just want to show it off.”
Eventually everyone did go inside. They entered her grandfather’s study as noisily as possible, covered in dirt and blood. They dropped the treasure chests with a loud bang! Her grandfather looked up from his desk.
Sariel sat in the nicest chair she could.
“Oh look, you haven’t moved. What a surprise,” she said. “Well look what I did, Grampa. While you were sitting on your derriere, I went and saved your daughter.”
We all sat on all of the chairs and the desk, trying to get dirt and blood everywhere. Her grandfather sputtered in impotence.
The point made, we took the treasure and left the mess. Back at the Epsilon Society HQ, we all showered and put on clean clothes, then split up the treasure chests. We opened them, revealing just all the gold. 4100 copper pieces, 2400 silver, and 260 gold. The equivalent of 541 pieces of gold altogether. We each got, essentially, 180 GP from the mission.
“My word!” said Jobbins.
In addition, there were a few pieces of treasure:
A small silver mirror (25 gp)
A man’s emerald-green silk shirt (25 gp)
A wide leather belt with a silver buckle emblazoned with a skull
3 nice-sized gems (50 gp each)
4 small vials of healing potions
2 scrolls: one of Alter Self, and one Unseen Servant
A shortsword with a nice scabbard
Narcisse took the mirror, the healing potions, and the scrolls. Rollin took the silk shirt. Vibe took the leather belt. Morthos got the gems. Sariel took the shortsword. She inspected it. It was silver in color, and glowed faintly with starlight. “Banestar” was written on it, in Elvish. Upon further research, it turned out that if it was within 125 feet of a goblinoid, it would glow faintly. Also, it was a +1 sword.
This is the only reason I understand how that works
A few days later, we were all sitting around in the apartment, telling jokes or bonding or whatever it is that off-duty adventurers do. The invite for the mother’s party actually arrived. Jobbins was serving us drinks. Suddenly, an elf in a crisp military uniform entered, his wand like a riding crop pressed into his arm.
“Ah, Jobbins,” he said. “Thought I’d find you here. Narcisse, I’m surprised to see you still here.”
“I just got the sending stone this morning,” said Narcisse. “I’ll be leaving tomorrow.”
“You’re leaving?” said Sariel.
“I have to go back to the homeland,” said Narcisse. “There’s some politics that I have to be present for.”
“Can I come with you?” said Sariel.
“Yeah, that actually sounds really interesting,” said Rollin.
“It’s high-elf stuff only,” said Narcisse.
“I don’t know who my dad is,” said Sariel. “He could be a high elf.” (I’ve actually decided her father is a wood elf)
“Nonsense!” said the dude whose name I should have written down but I was too busy actually role-playing. “This should be quite bracing! I shall be here for all of your wizarding needs.”
“Errrgh,” said Sariel.
I actually kind of regret making Sariel not like him immediately? Between the bickering with her family and then rejecting this dude she’s kind of seeming judgmental and petty. It’s too late to change her initial attitude, but maybe Jim and I can collaborate and have her get a grudging respect for the dude, and actually miss him when he leaves, or something.
Anyway, the DM wants to actually play in the campaign, so Heath is taking over as DM for a bit while Jim plays as our replacement wizard. So we’ll see how that goes.