I could have spent the entire flight, the entire time waiting between flights, the entire time I was in my hotel room that night before I had to teach, getting ready. Not for teaching; it was an Excel part one class. Although I get anxious going places I haven’t been before to work with people I don’t know, knowing the material I have to teach well cushions that anxiety. And I could probably recite the entire training off the top of my head, correct cell references and all, without even having a computer in front of me because that’s how many times I’ve done it. I could have spent all that time on my way to El Paso that first time, and should have spent it, getting ready to lead my first ever session of Dungeons & Dragons.
Nate and Julie had gotten the starter kit for Jordan and Kendra, who wanted to play with me and Taylor, and somehow, they had all gotten it in their heads that I should be the DM. None of us had played before, but I maybe knew the most about it. I don’t know if the others knew that this is what they’d be getting into, but my biggest qualification to be the DM was my experience bullshitting my way through teaching people things that I barely know myself. But what I hope all my clients, my boss, the DnD gang, and you people all know is that I don’t enjoy doing this. I find it miserably stressful and exhausting, and, though it may not sound like it, I really hate disappointing people. But I’m good enough at bullshitting that I usually don’t disappoint, and I’m going to stress regardless of whether I’m prepared anway, so oh well.
So, trusting that DnD would probably be fine, I played Skyrim in Spanish to practice the language. This is despite the fact that, unlike running a DnD campaign, no one had asked me to do this.
But even more than trusting things to be fine, I’ve learned that no preparation I do is going to be as productive as just doing what I can and learning from what doesn’t go well. I don’t have the space to record all the misinformation and ultimately pointless exercises I’ve put my poor students and players through, nor would it be good for my health to keep track of it all. Suffice it to say that some of the attendees to my early trainings might not make great accountants or analysts, and there was a time when the goblin-fighting preparation I had given my friends would have gotten them killed (and in one case, did).
I could have spent the entire flight, the entire time waiting between flights, the entire time I was in my hotel room that night before I had to teach, getting ready. Not for teaching; it was an Excel part two class.
Our monthly DnD gathering, for whatever reason, always seemed to fit best into our calendars right after I would get back from Texas, which in some ways was perfect timing, what with all the travel and waiting time I could have used to prep the upcoming session.
But there was Spanish to learn.
Ustedes conocen el oficio.
March and Beyond
I’m done with trips to El Paso, and you’d be amazed at what I still spend a fair amount of free time doing.
The pivot to playing online, like the pivot to doing Excel or whatever other trainings online, is way harder for everyone, and way harder, I think for everyone to really get into. Yet, DnD has been getting better and better, the sessions smoother and more engaging from my perspective at least, and all of us, I think, knowing better what we’re doing, or at least knowing how to look like it. I nearly shed a tear of pride as my group shredded an evil wizard in a single turn of combat.
I think we’re all just doing what we can and learning from what doesn’t go well.
Jeffrey (‘17) ultimately settled on studying film and media studies and French, though food is his greatest passion. He lives in Grand Rapids and is trying to teach himself computer science so he can, among other things, cyberbully Elon Musk.