Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hi, God. It's Me, Sean.

Sometimes I just wonder.

I have to admit that you don't hear from me very often. I mean, I'm not exactly the practicing Catholic that you would probably prefer to have. But I do get in touch every now and then, even if it's only to the extent of placing a long-distance phone call from the safety of my comfort zones.

Early this morning I sent you a short message. All I asked for was a bit of contentment -- the last few days have been pretty hectic at work, and it looks like the next couple of weeks will be quite busy for me. This is the only three-day weekend within plain sight, and I asked if you could let me kick back and enjoy the personal time, for once.

The irony, of course, was that I was heading to a whole-day Magic tournament. I'm pretty sure that you don't get offended by the little pieces of cardboard, though, and it's one of the restive outlets that I reserve for myself. People will probably roll their eyes and shake their heads, but this kind of thing helps feed the competitive streak in my soul.

In a sense, a good day was all that I asked for. Not an ignoble day, not an ambivalent day... but a day in which I could sit back and feel contented. I don't get many of those.


Halfway through the afternoon I gave you another call. At that point I had three wins and no losses chalked up at the end of three swiss rounds, and I had raised an eyebrow at my extraordinary luck. I got the feeling that you had a hand in it somewhere, so I plunked down a few minutes just to see if you were listening.

All I wanted was a good day. But I also have certain paranoid tendencies -- every time it seems as though things are going my way, I take it as a signal to slow down and raise the red flag. Nothing, I think, ever turns out completely good. Any situation where I feel as though I'm riding high on the hog only means that something's going to come and knock me off when I least expect it.

So at 3-0 with the second half of the tournament in front of me, I said a few things. I said that a 3-0 was already perfectly good in my book, I said that you probably knew how things were going to turn out, and I said that even if I lost every match from thereon till the end, then that would have still been okay with me.

Oh, I'll admit that I wanted at least a few more wins. After all, I don't spend entire days at tournaments feeling a sense of helplessness at the hands of a few pieces of brightly-colored paper. But at that point, with a 3-0 that was on par with my best performances and the chance to face some of the better players of the game for my next table, there was not much more that I could have asked for.

I just wanted you to know that I was content, that's all. It was already a good day.


So now I'm back at home, sitting in front of the computer screen, writing my thoughts on a virtual slab of paper.

I know that I gave you one last call today, and I can pinpoint it at around eight-thirty when the tournament had finally wrapped up. First prize turned out to be fifteen unopened packs of cards -- it made for a very tidy return when I sold them to an interested buyer. That, in addition to the money I made selling off the other stuff that I picked up from my wins, made sure that I came back a little richer than when I first arrived.

I've never made six wins before. It doesn't help that the number comes beside a figure of zero losses. I've received congratulations from people who I once congratulated before, and it feels strange.

When I dialed that cosmic number of yours at eight-thirty this evening, the first thing that I could think of saying was, "I've never gone 6-0 before."

The second thing that I said was, "Thanks."

It's not the 6-0, even if I have yet to come to terms with it. It was more the fact that I didn't feel happy or sad or any of those little clich├ęs that they teach in preschool. I just felt tired, as though I wanted to go home and plop myself into a convenient armchair. I felt as though I had spent a lot of time trying my best to do something, only to be surprised at how it would suddenly come to fruition right before my eyes.

In short, I felt content. Even if I had all the worries of the world waiting to ambush me once I report to work later this week... for that one moment today, I felt content.

Sometimes I wonder why you choose to do things like this. Sometimes, well, I wonder how you decide to just let these days happen for a poor, sick nobody like me. I don't even call you on a regular basis.

But I do appreciate the gesture, and I appreciate it a lot.

So... thank you for the good day. Thank you for the nice feeling of contentment; I don't get that very often nowadays. Thank you for the fact that you're still watching me from somewhere, and whatever made you decide that I would get a day like this.

It's not a huge thing, but it's the least I can say.


Roy said...

Hi Sean, congrats! Dunno if you remember me, I commented a few times here a while back. I saw your name at the top of the standings last Saturday and wondered if it was the same guy from this blog.

Unfortunately, I didn't stay around to finish the tournament as I did terribly. Just curious, what archetypes did you draft in LLM and SSS?

Sean said...

Roy: I constantly wonder if I should put together a new bunch of puzzles on this blog, and whenever that happens, I wonder if you'll solve them again. Yes, I remember you very well. :)

(Warning: Various bits of Magic lingo present below.)

I ended up drafting WU for LLM. I opened a pack with two really strong Goblin cards and didn't want to start a fight, so I grabbed a Knight of Meadowgrain first pick and expected to go Kithkin. It turned out that four people at my table first dipped their fingers in White, though, so I was forced to go Blue halfway through pack one. I thought that I was going to lose the first three rounds - I pulled an 8th pick Tarfire and a 15th pick Pack's Disdain, which implied that somebody had a really insane deck at my table. I think I only pulled off the 3-0 because I had a specific aim for my final deck - fast attacks early in the game, then a switch to large flyers with counterspell backup later on.

For SSS, I opened a Twilight Shepherd and then got passed a Thistledown Liege -- so I was solidly in White from the start. At first I tried going WU again, but I pulled a 7th-pick Seedcradle Witch and decided to capitalize on it. The result was a strong WG deck with a high mana curve -- I ran 18 lands, a handful of small creatures to stop early rushes, and some evasive creatures to deal the final blows.