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It's like "Pandemic: The Board Game," by Liz Dean

Updated: May 24

Writer and 805 contributor Liz Dean calculates each move during difficult times. This post is part of 805’s “My Home Library” blog series that features posts by writers and artists enjoying their home libraries during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 805 is published by the Manatee County Public Library System, and since most libraries have closed due to the pandemic, we hope this blog series will help people show off their home libraries, find comfort in books, and feel a connection to the library during this difficult time.


I’ve created monsters of us both. In him, it has been a boundless expression of exceptional critical thinking skills. For myself, it flourished into a tight wound ball of jealous energy. What a pair we’ve become, though, over the last decade- sampling and culling our tastes in our massive board game collection. There’s a dark underworld for us nerds; whether it’s dog fighting Tie Fighters or patching together a quilt. There’s something for everyone and the only limit is your imagination.


It wasn’t always this way. Before we knew about a board-gaming culture, there were just cards. The basics, like Uno and Skip-Bo, Poker made its way in occasionally. None of which was I good at playing. When it came time to get serious about marriage, I had to take him home. He had a rite of passage to fulfill. He had to learn to Pinochle. Not only learn but win with Grandpa as his partner. It was then that I had doomed myself. I didn’t even see it until it was too late.


He was good, too. The kind of scary good that you try to convince yourself will run out because he’s only a beginner. His luck never ran out and I found myself disgruntled at my predicament. What had taken me almost 25 years to shape into as a passable card player took him three hours to excel at. We haven’t played Pinochle since because I won’t allow it.

I learned a few things about myself on this strange, lesser known path in entertainment. Also known as the IH-45 from Houston to Dallas where they host the second largest board game convention in the country: I turned out to be an incredibly competitive person. With that, I can proudly say that I can hold my own with or without our usual group of players.


But there are rules when playing at our house.


Number One: He will inadvertently cheat. Once he figures out how to play, there is no winning.


Number Two: Trash talk is encouraged if his ‘engine’ takes longer than planning out the next two turns.


Number Three: Don’t play co-ops with him. Everybody. Will. Lose.


Number Four: I’ve been labeled a card-counter, so be warned (Ironic, right?).


And Number Five: No grudges. Say what you have to say, then go eat some pizza because at the end of the night, we’re still going to be friends.


The kind of essential employee that I am requires me to be a strong person. Not to lessen the value of any of the other front-line workers- let's face it, we’d be in serious trouble without them, but to give recognition to the Correctional Officers that go unnoticed. The stress of the job alone is a struggle and it drives people to do crazy things, but with the national crisis of pandemic, it has been nothing short of a proverbial nightmare. Compounded by the effort of both my husband and I that work opposite each other; there isn’t a day of the week that one of us is not inside the walls of a prison.


I love to read, but I’m a solitary reader and have extremely picky habits. I can’t pick it up just to put it down at will. And I don’t like to be bothered because of the investment I have in a story. Hours will slip away before I even notice. My eyes must burn before I relinquish hold on a good book. I still love it, though I can’t enjoy it like I used to. With motherhood still in its early stages and college demanding my attention, I have had to put my books away until the burden of adulthood is a little more bearable. It has been a terrifying year so far and the only recourse we have is our little family and our nerdy habits.


Liz Dean lives in Texas with the love of her life, an adorable toddler, and her two cats. She is pursuing a degree in teaching and works as a correctional officer. She believes the three things every writer needs are a good pen, a great idea, and time. She has plenty of the first two, but never enough of the last. Her ideas often end up on the back of official documents and torn off page corners.


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