A Message of Faith for Those Who Have Yet to Beat 2048

I downloaded 2048 more than a year ago.

“You’ve got that obsession with numbers, right? You’ll be great at this!” exclaimed a friend. “Let me know when you beat it. It’s SO addicting.”

They were right. 2048 was addicting. And I was pretty good at it . . . yet somehow, never good enough.

I tried for months to beat that game. Months of swiping (left, right, left, down but NEVER up) after midnight, months where I’d give up, only to be back playing again within weeks, weakly giving in to the original challenge. “I am good at this,” I told myself. “I can do it.”

At some point, I gave up, theoretically for real this time — for months, which anyone addicted to the game will understand to be quite the achievement. Then one day, I began again. Call it a brief moment of weakness, call it a hunch, call it destiny — I don’t know what it was, but the need to win was back and stronger than ever.

I’d like to say that days after this renewed passion, I won the game in some crashing victory that brought the crowd to its knees. But no, I won because of two things: my roommate, and the promise of pizza.

Sweet, sweet pizza.

I had just discovered 2048 online and was sitting on the couch with my fingers glued to the arrow keys. It was like any other game: good, but not too good. I’d probably lose around 17,000 points, with two 512 tiles staring longingly at each other from across the board.

“What are you doing?” my roommate asked, sitting down and peering at the screen. “Oh. You still haven’t beat it, huh?”

I did my best not to glare, since she’d beat the game at least a year before me.

She chuckled. “If you beat it on this game, I’ll buy you a pizza.”

I laughed momentarily and turned back to the screen. That’s when it happened.

The tiles began working, the numbers were in my favour, my fingers were flying, the digits were climbing, and a sense of elation was rising in my stomach (yes, I know what that sounds like). “Holy shit,” I said. “Holy shit, I think . . .”

And within 30 seconds of the word “pizza,” the 2048 tile was mine.

That pizza tasted like victory. And cheese, but mostly victory.

All this to say that if you’re still swiping back and forth every day trying to beat 2048, don’t worry. It will come to you when it’s meant to — and hopefully it will get you some free pizza. For me, it was worth the wait.

 

Here we go again.

Here we go again.

The Magic Number

Whether you’ve read this blog before or are reading it for the first time, the name may confuse you. “The Perks of Being a Three” — no, it isn’t a movie or book reference, although I suppose the connection could be made. If you go to the very beginning, you’ll find a post that attempts to explain the point of this blog. Since then, I’ve definitely missed the point.

The “Three” is my number on the Enneagram, which is a personality system I became interested in about a year before I started this blog. Like the classic three, I become obsessed with being an “expert” in something and I immerse myself in it  for a short period of time, emerging newly knowledgeable and proud before abandoning the project, having gotten what I wanted from it.

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the Enneagram. I still use it in my daily life and I enjoy turning the people I meet into little Enneagram cartoons in my head. It helps me to categorize people and their traits. But I certainly haven’t written about it very much in my blog, and for that I apologize.

So, why the Enneagram? The system attracted me for one reason: the number nine.

There are nine character types in this system. Of course, it isn’t quite so cut-and-dried; these nine numbers interact and shift around on the chart (which is at the top right of this post). But the fact it was divided into nine types made it instantly accessible and interesting to me.

You see, the number nine has always held a special place for me in my life. It’s hard to say exactly why. I guess I like all the math tricks you can do with it, and it’s definitely a mystic number for some people. But for whatever reason, my life is lived by the number nine, in both the big ways and the little.

That’s why, when I figured out I was a three, everything made even better sense for me. Three is the root of nine, the origin of my somewhat-obsession. The character type fits me like a glove.

It’s not an obsession anymore so much as a guideline. Nine just makes sense to me. Over the years I have found ways to make this fixation easier. Three is now a satisfactory number for items to conform to. Staircases don’t have to have steps in a multiple of three, because I can add or subtract the bottom and top floors to give them the right amount of levels. Any sentence which adds to the wrong number can be easily fixed with punctuation.

So no, I don’t walk around blinking in multiples of three, saying “hello” nine times or measuring my steps. I still eat in multiples of three, but that isn’t exactly a life-altering habit. I like to think the crazy parts of this fixation are under control, pacified by make-believe punctuation and some clever logic. Of course, it all sounds strange when I try to voice it. Even reading this blog post back to myself, the simple explanation I had planned is not there.

I guess some things are just complicated no matter how you word them. But I thought I should explain the reasoning behind the name of a blog that has so far not lived up to its title. I’ll do my best, but as the above paragraphs display, numbers can be confusing to write about. Not many of my friends know about all this, but lately I’ve been trying to be more open about it, since it’s an integral part of who I am. I also know the way I’ve dealt with this fixation is considerably more positive than it could have been, and reading this could help someone struggling with a similar obsession. Trust me, it hasn’t always been this easy.

Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far. I’m signing off to go cook myself nine perogies for dinner.

Morgan Freeman Bus Driver: A Sighting

A little while ago, I wrote a post called “Wanted: The Return of Morgan Freeman Bus Driver.” If you don’t want to click on that link, here’s the long story short: somewhere in this city, there is a bus driver who looks, sounds and acts like Morgan Freeman. I used to see him regularly until one evening he just wasn’t there. I’ve been missing him and his gentle goodnight wishes ever since.

Near the end of last semester, I was catching the bus home after a work party. I live in a different part of the city than I did when I frequented Morgan Freeman Bus Driver’s route, but for some reason he was on my mind. I stepped onto the bus, U-Pass in hand, and lo and behold, he was sitting there in the driver’s seat wearing his uniform and the kindly smile I missed so much.

Of course he didn’t recognize me. We hadn’t been on a first-name basis or anything even close to it. But his eyes still sparkled when I said hello, and as I sat down I realized my heart was actually pounding.

When I got off the bus, I said goodnight to him just to hear him say it back, and my night was made. If you read my last post you’ll remember the mention of a shitty semester — this coincidence was enough to make me believe it would all be okay. Yes, my mind works in strange and silly ways. But I have faith in the little things, and I know Morgan Freeman Bus Driver would agree with me.

I haven’t seen him since, but I believe I will again. When I need him the most, Morgan Freeman Bus Driver will be there.

Reading Week

Reading week.

Heard of it?

It’s the angelic choir when you step outside on a Friday evening. It’s the icing on the cupcake that is your weekend. It’s every student’s dream – that hallowed time, that fabled time when you say you’re going to “catch up on your work” but everyone knows the truth (you’re not).

It’s over.

Ever since I came back to university from my long, arduous summer, I’ve been going nonstop at full speed, working at what feels like a full-time job while taking six courses in a brand-new program and desperately attempting to also have friends. Needless to say, it’s been a tough couple of months, fraught with long days, short nights, and a personal life just shitty enough to make all that work actually seem like fun.

Who am I kidding? It is fun. I’m a nerd, and even when I’m working on a paper at 2 am while simultaneously sending out emails for work, I’m enjoying it on some level. I love what I’m studying, and I love what I’m doing.

That being said, I’ve thrown myself into work and school face-first after a rough month. Maybe not the healthiest decision, but I knew reading week would be there to catch me.

And it was. Reading week welcomed me with a bottle in each hand, and I was more than happy to see it.

I know this isn’t the most exciting, funny or interesting post I’ve ever published. Hell, the doodle of Harry Potter I posted two years ago is more interesting. But I knew that if I didn’t run something off now, I’d forget this blog even existed.

The point is, reading week rocks and I miss it already. Good-bye, Halloween. Good-bye, three drunken nights in a row. Good-bye, sleeping in til noon. Good-bye, Rocky Horror Picture Show . . .

Oh wait. That happens every month. I LOVE THE CITY.

.rockyhorrorrr

Gumboots and Booty Shorts

Out here, “country” means nothing anymore.

I live surrounded by fields of hay, pastures full of cows and the smell of chicken feed. I’ve grown up around horses and dirt and good old-fashioned work. So when I see those pictures of girls with their blue-jean booty shorts, immaculate cowboy boots, midriff-tied plaid shirts and cowboy hats- call me vain, call me petty, but it does bother me.

And yes, that was a rant warning.

I just came in from a morning’s work in the fields. It took me five minutes to wash the dirt from my hands, and when I removed my gumboots, clumps of mud and grass fell out. There’s a brown smudge, either dirt or manure, across my forehead. My dusty plaid shirt is ripped and worn, and my old jeans are caked in dirt at the knees where I’ve been kneeling for the past three hours. Calluses on my palms indicate days spent using wooden-handled tools.

I have plaid shirts, yes. And I’ve got blue jeans, like just about every other person I know. But I wouldn’t take them out to work. The difference between this country stereotype and somebody who grew up on a farm is the fact that I know I’m going to get dirty just about every day. I keep my legs covered and my hair up, and my arms are ten times browner than the rest of my body. I wear gumboots and old sneakers when I work, not bright white cowboy boots or tasselled suede belts.

And have you ever worn a pair of real cowboy boots? They’re made specifically for riding- the heels are for hooking onto the stirrup. They’re downright awful for your feet. You can tell a real horse-riding country girl by the wrinkles and cracks in her boots, and the worn-down soles. Not having horses, I don’t even own a pair. I would feel like a fake if I did.

I guess this is a rant we’ve all heard before. But I just felt the need to point out the fact that the country girl climbing into your truck with wedge heels and shorts that stop before her legs even begin is not going to take kindly to any mud you try to take her through. Wear your cowboy boots, your tiny shorts, your tied-up plaid and your pristine straw hats. But please, please, please don’t tell me you’re country. You’re not.

And if you do . . .

Well, I just might forget to wash my hands before I shake yours.

IMG-20140509-00696

 

Farm Shit (Literally, But I Like It)

“Eggs are basically just a chicken’s menstrual cycle,” explains my dad.

I look over at my omelette, cooking away on the stove as if it has no idea of its true identity. It bubbles ominously at me.

Great timing, Dad.

I eat the omelette anyways, though. At least our chickens’ menstrual cycles are certified organic.

 

As I step outside to begin the muddy trek across the creek, an adorably grubby border collie comes running up to me. I pat her nose gingerly, avoiding the rest of her. I’ve been lovingly calling her “Poopy” for the past few days. She really likes playing in the manure. Cute, but from a distance only.

You get used to it. Poop, I mean. My new residence in the city is right across from a large field, and when I was walking there for the first time, I could smell spring’s fresh manure spread over the land. Others might wrinkle their noses, but it made me feel right at home. It’s the little things, I guess. The little, smelly things.

 

The chickens are nestling in the hay we’ve spread around the kale patch. I can hear them squawking as they lay their eggs (they’re supposed to do it in the coop, but really, chickens don’t speak English). “Congratulations,” I say to one. “You’re not pregnant.” Then I collect her egg and head into the house to make myself another omelette.

 

Farm life… that’s a hashtag, right?

Wanted: The Return of Morgan Freeman Bus Driver

Once upon a time, I was a poor, drifting farm girl lost in the incredibly not-so-big city of Ottawa, Ontario. I naively took the advice of a kind bus driver, trekked up a sketchy-looking hill at 1 am, and found myself suddenly homeward-bound on the 2 bus.

That was the night my whole life changed . . . the night I stepped onto the bus and wearily presented my bus pass to Morgan Freeman.

Or at least, he looked like Morgan Freeman. Take about 15 or 20 years off, and he would have been the great man’s spitting image. I may have been tired, and more than a little drunk, but I felt pretty starstruck sitting there as Freeman himself drove me safely home through the dark but harmless streets of Ottawa. I said nothing to him, just smiled and stepped off the bus at my stop. “Next time,” I vowed to myself as he pulled away. I had to hear his voice and know the truth.

So the next time I found myself on that late 2 bus, I stepped up to the driver’s seat a few minutes before my stop and asked him how his night was going.

He smiled that happy, whimsical smile and cheerfully told me the story of the drunk man he’d had to deal with, as if that was a life lesson learned or something. I thought automatically of him as God in “Bruce Almighty,” and wondered if I reminded him at all of Jim Carrey. Perhaps I would soon find myself behind the wheel of that bus. I really hoped not.

However, the absolute highlight of the night was when I stepped off the bus and he said to me, “You go straight home, now, sweetheart,” in that kind voice. Life advice from Morgan Freeman . . .  I will never forget that moment.

I haven’t seen Morgan Freeman Bus Driver in a while. There’s a nice white-haired lady that drives the late 2 bus now, and she’s pretty great. But each time I see the bus pull up to the stop, I can’t help crossing my fingers in the hopes that Morgan Freeman might be back to greet me with a cheery grin and tell me what to do with my life.