Good Beats: Swan Song

The bells are breakin’ up that ol’ Pittsburgh gang o’ mine… First Rizzo’s moving to Maine, and now Aaron is quitting Magic – but for a VERY good reason.

I just threw away the pile of Post-It notes that were sitting next to my computer at work.

Most of them had stuff like”Gillette D8-04794″ or”MS213:[PSI.UNL00]U070300.SRT” written on them, but quite a few were inscribed with the more familiar code of”4 Visionary 4 Shambler 4 Lobotomy” and so on.

I also just turned over ownership of CMU’s e-mail group to Andrew Johnson.

My wife just called and said we have a taker for our air conditioner, and there’s a good chance we’ll be able to sell the washer and dryer, too.

The times, they are a-changin’. I won’t need any of the information on those Post-Its any longer. No more data processing and no more deckbuilding. I’m not in any position to be running CMU’s mail list anymore either, considering I’m only going to be living in Pittsburgh for about another week or so. Which is why Anne and I are ditching all the appliances.

Here’s a little story:

Jim and Liz dated for quite a few years.

Jim was one of my roommates – a college grad that moved back to Pittsburgh to take an editorial job with a local paper after a two-year stint out-of-town. Liz was still enrolled in Pitt’s School of Engineering. They were a great couple – both attractive, intelligent, and popular. Anne and I really enjoyed their company and we had some great times.

Fast forward to last weekend. Anne and I traveled to Cincinnati to attend Liz’s wedding. She’s now in grad school at Ohio State and married a nice fellow that she met at a club. They’re as happy as can be.

This coming weekend, Anne and I will be headed the same distance in the other direction, to Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Jim is an editor for the Free Lance-Star. He’s getting married on Saturday to a lovely, intelligent artist he met in a bar.

My wife and I are the only two people who are lucky enough to attend both ceremonies, so we have kind of a unique perspective on them. We were discussing Jim and Liz’s past romance, and we realized that everything turned out great for both of them, even though it wasn’t what we expected five years ago.


Five years ago, I had no real idea where my life was headed. I had a Chemistry degree from Pitt, but I hated Chemistry. I had a job as a temp in a bank, mostly because it was better than working at the grocery store. Bad times.

But the temp job turned into a”real” job, which eventually turned into a better position at the bank, and I eventually got married and moved out of the bank and into a data processing firm. There were plenty of opportunities for advancement and the data processing firm, but I just didn’t see myself processing data for the rest of my life.

Throughout all of that, I was playing Magic – probably way too much. But it paid off in its own way for me, as I’ve had reasonable success on the Pro Tour, I’ve gotten to see some of the world, been on TV, all that.

But for all the cool stuff I did in Magic, there never seemed to be any light at the end of the tunnel that would help me figure out the rest of my life. I was Peter Pan, trying to stay forever young.

I’m sure there’s all kinds of psychological analysis one could do on what the professional gamer is trying to accomplish versus what he is trying to escape, but that’s neither here nor there. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that no matter how much fun I was having, I was going nowhere fast.

So when The Opportunity came, I had to go for it.

The Opportunity was an opening at Wizards of the Coast for an Online Content Manager, which is basically an editor-type for a website that doesn’t exist yet. If I got the job, it would mean (a) giving up sanctioned Magic events and (b) moving 2500 miles to Seattle.

But it would also mean having a cool job that was in a field that I understood and enjoyed. At this stage in my life I wasn’t sure that actually existed.

To make a long story short, several phone conversations, three interviews, and one cross-country trip later, I got the job. (This is contrary to what I hinted to in my Pro Tour: New York report on Meridian Magic. But a few things went my way at the last minute and Voila!) So as of October 31, 2001, I’ll be an employee of Wizards of the Coast.

This was a tough decision for the two reasons I mentioned above. Had I done poorly at the last PT, I could have slunk off without much notice. But the fact that we (the Car Acrobatic Team) finished fourth really complicated things in my mind; suddenly I was qualified for the Pro Tours in New Orleans, San Diego, France, Japan, and next year’s New York, plus U.S. Nationals and Worlds in Sydney, Australia. And there was a chance we’d be qualified for the Team Masters again.

However, life must go on. I can step away from the Pro circuit a proud man, both because of my few good finishes and because I came by them honestly. And it isn’t a total loss; I won’t be turning my back on Magic. Instead, I’m just choosing to be involved in a different way.

I’m sure I’ll miss the Pro Tour, but I’ll miss my family and friends in Pennsylvania more. It’s always tough to move, and the thought of starting over socially and having no parents nearby for Thanksgiving dinner makes the relocation a bittersweet proposition. But Anne and I are tougher than that, and I’m sure we’ll make the most of our new surroundings.

Going back to the Jim-and-Liz Wedding Story… This wasn’t how I originally pictured my life turning out, but it’ll end up great in the end. Count on that.

There’s so much more I’d like to ramble on about – Magic and its players are wonderfully complex – and so many memories I’d love to expound on, but the hours aren’t available to do so. We have four days of work left, four days to pack, and then a week-long drive across the nation. In the meantime, we’re trying to visit with as many friends and relatives as we can, watch a few innings of the playoffs, and stay sane. So the epic goodbye will have to wait for another lifetime.

I do want to give a few quick thank-you’s, however… First, a big thanks to all the people I’ve played with and against throughout the years, especially my teammates at CMU. It’s people like you that make me glad to make Magic my career.

Thanks also to the Ferrett and Pete Hoefling here at Star City for keeping up a bastion of Magic writing when all else seems to be crumbling away. If it’s the”scrub site,” then call me”Scrubby” and give me a brush so I can start scrubbing.

Finally, thanks to WotC for giving me this chance. I’m not sure what I did right, but I’m glad someone noticed whatever it was.

Hopefully there are great things to come. Stay tuned.

Signing off from this side,

Aaron Forsythe

Team CMU

Forever [email protected]