You know that song by the Talking Heads that goes, “And you may ask yourself… How did I get here?” Well, I already wrote a blog post about that. But honestly, not much has changed regarding how I feel about grad school. The other day, my boss actually compared me to a gerbil running on a wheel, because even though I’ve apparently put in a lot of hard work, I haven’t actually gotten anywhere or accomplished anything. Huge compliment, right? And no, of course I didn’t take it personally. It was a great thing to hear the day before my presentation to my mentoring committee about all the things I have accomplished.
Anyways, I’m tired of complaining about that. I know what I need to do to be better, and no amount of rude yet correct metaphors can stop me. What I really want to write is a post in celebration, because I finally finished something I began in June:
MY HOMEMADE CATAN SET. IS DONE.
In case you haven’t heard, Settlers of Catan is an incredibly fun game where you compete for victory points by obtaining the most cities/roads/knights. To build or draw cards, you have to collect resources by rolling dice. Each resource corresponds to a different number, and you can only collect a resource if you have a settlement or a city bordering that tile. It’s half luck and half skill. It ruins friendships, only to make them stronger when the game is complete (lol). I’ve been playing with friends for a few years now, but I’ve only ever won a single game, and that was about a month ago. Catan reminds me of some of the people I love best; my friends and I brought the game along with us during our spring break road trip, and I also used to play it with my friends over at The Little Box. It also reminds me how to lose gracefully.
Originally, I wanted to paint the tiles, because putting things on paper seemed a lot easier than building things out of clay, especially when those things happen to be precisely fitting hexagons. Perfect 120° angles are harder to construct than I thought. However, when I started the actual painting, I realized that a) I’m not that great at painting landscapes, and b) my cheap set of acrylic paints were not going to cut it. So I changed directions, and made the entire thing out of Sculpey clay, as in that stuff crafty moms buy for their children and then use to make crappy jewelry. And honestly, I am incredibly proud of how it turned out, even though you can tell that the hexagons don’t fit together perfectly. I love its imperfections, because they presented an extra task: human error, in this instance, was inevitable, so I had to account for my own mistakes. I feel like this is a common theme in my life (but in a good way). I know my flaws, but I also know how to live my life in a way that exploits my weaknesses for the better. For instance, I have a ridiculously hard time keeping track of things (like deadlines, and my keys), and this has prompted me to develop rigorous habits and systems so I can stay on top of things. With this set, I had to think of ways to use the imperfections in tile size to my advantage (i.e. thinking about ways to make roads/cities/settlements that won’t fall between tiles, and making individual ocean tiles that can rotate any direction for the best fit).
Above are all of my resource tiles, and then below are the other pieces you’d need to play. I had to buy a set of cards to go with it because I didn’t want to make my own, which is fine. The hardest part was actually just making the roads, because there are 60 of them, and I wanted them to all have little details. Each road has 7 little rocks lined up on either side, which means I had to make 840 tiny little balls of clay and stick them to the side of a rectangle, which was not tedious at all.
Another (last) picture of the board, this time before painting. I think the clay is still wet here, too.