I have no idea what I’m doing, with a podcast.

I am still working on getting all the technical details of this whole podcast thing (and rss, and media hosting, etc, etc, etc.) worked out.

But you can listen to this right here on this page. Normally I will also include some show notes here, but this one doesn’t require much explanation. Just an introduction to me, my larger vision for podcasting, and my website.

The best part – you can download it and listen to it later.

Please go to my various social media things and let me know what you think. (facebook, google+, twitter)

To Hold Infinity In An Hour

I’ve had this post in the queue for a little while – more than a few weeks – and I keep coming back to it and trying to describe The topic more effectively. I’ve realized that I cannot even begin to describe this phenomenon sufficiently. It’s like trying to describe your first memory to someone. Or that feeling when your sinuses suddenly stop being congested with no warning at all. Or how some sentences just feel right. Or how you just know that this music matters.

One way or the other, the below description only hints at what I am trying to get at. It’s like calling the sky “big”, light “fast”, or an active volcano surrounded by bears and sharks “dangerous”. These just don’t do the actual experience justice. But I still want to try, so here we go.

There have been a few moments in my life where time stops.

But it takes an absolutely transcendent experience to do so.

I had one of those moments when I finally got to see an estranged friend for the first time in years – and I was suspended in the balance between two points – the one point being a desperate desire to see her smile and accept me once more as a trusted and trusting friend and the other point being one of fully accepting that she may decide to slap me across the face and drive away, leaving me to always wonder if it was worth it to pursue the friendship again.

I remember every detail of that scene. The precise location I was standing in the neighbors yard so that I would be visible from the larger road. The snow falling in big fat flakes – they had just started so the ground only had a bit of powder. The pine needles on the ground. How cold my ears and hands had gotten – since I had been waiting there for so long. The hesitation that I had, despite the cold, to simply jump in the car – because I did not know if I was welcome. How far I had to lean down to see in to her car – I had grown since I had last seen her. The purple and white dragons embroidered on the black seat covers.  The look on her face right before she decided to communicate which way her decision would fall.

I might tell the full story later. But the emotions within me were running at such a pace that I could not help but let that moment wash over me in a powerful way. And emotions in general are what I am getting at here. Big emotions. As Chuck Palahniuk puts it, “big the way gods are big.” These things in your inner landscape just so big that you can’t even understand them or begin to make a strategy to deal with them, much less have the capability to describe them to other people.

For me, songs can do this. They make my inner world open up and be Big. They do not very often bring me to these huge emotions by themselves (they have occasionally), but they often call up memories of these emotions, and allow me to think about them, to process them, to view them as an object, and allow the viewing of them as an experience in it’s own right with it’s own emotions. In this TedX talk, Megan Washington talks about how singing is the only thing that can free her – ever so momentarily – from the cage of her stutter. She speaks of it as “sweet relief.”

I know this sweet relief. There have been a few things in my life that I have been able to do something very well, and I know just what she means. She is talking about the first time that I read, out loud, an entire sentence on my Japanese vocal mid-term. She is talking about the time that 3 deer joined me for a walk -entirely of their own volition – for an entire afternoon. She is talking about a perfect bulls-eye that I pulled when I had only one shot left in a big damn gun and all the men of my family-in-law were watching. She is talking about what I felt when I was taking piano classes in college, and I figured out how to play a few bars of a song that was extremely important to me in my dramatic and emotional high school years – Scarborough Fair. I remember spending several evenings only playing the one song – for a week I neglected my other school work just to play the song because I had finally found a way to come to grips with these titanic emotions in my past. She is talking about that moment when I got to watch as my friend’s daughter sing to him and his wife on his 30th wedding anniversary at a venue that he had not been thinking about the sound system or his daughter.  She is talking about that moment right after my wife and I turned away from our officiant at our wedding and the music from the opening scroll of The Empire Strikes Back washed over me and I saw the wave of excitement roll over my guests as all 300 of them suddenly realized that we were inviting them not only into one of the most important moments of our lives, but also to watch one of the best movies that Hollywood Sci-Fi has ever produced.

Sweet relief. These moments. Song and poetry does this to me regularly. It brings me these moments where time. Just. Stops. And I see parts of myself clearly.

It is actually an observed phenomenon that some people (especially, though not limited to, men) have the part of the brain that keeps track of the passage of time sort of stops working: I forget if it goes totally nuts or just totally shuts down -either way, there is no useful information coming out. People get this way with video games, and movies, and other high-sensory-input experiences.

It is one of the only things that lets me work a job that I have to work but I hate the actual actions of. My friends know that I ‘push paper’. They don’t know anything else because it is so boring that they tune out after a sentence or two. Seriously, I’ve had more than one friend ask me “so I know you push paper, but what does that actually mean?” – only a week later they ask it again because they forgot what I said the first time because they zoned out or got distracted. The people that have asked me more than 3 times might remember something about ‘forms’ and ‘prospectuses’. It is at a job that boring that I work, and it is only because of music (well, and podcasts) that I can stand my job.

I just get to tune out and listen to these people sing or tell stories for a while and make sure that my feet keep moving and my hands keep working and eventually I sort of wake up and *poof!* my work is all done. Like the music cast a spell and let me skip the work at the cost of the time to do the work. This makes it so that my work day is only about 2.5 hours long (since I have to talk to coworkers and bosses etc.). It is kind of amazing, but also a little disconcerting.

I don’t know what it is that makes you, dear reader, rise above the clouds and get lost in the moment, but for me, all you’ve got to do is sing. to sing that song that makes you just get lost.

Ethereality and Creative Reality

There’s a concept that I really like, and in English it would take me 1000 words just to explain. I forget where I learned about it first, but in Japanese it is called “Mono No Aware”, (‘mono’ like “moe-noe”, ‘no’ like we say it, ‘aware’ like this: “ah-wa-ray” – sue me I like pronouncing things correctly). And the translation is basically the recognition that nothing we have or do is permanent, that it is all passing – but to do so with an appreciation and empathy for those things.

If you have been reading my blog (which is great that you are doing that but – holy crap I only have -what, 10 posts maybe?) then you know that I have recently gotten some world-shaking news. Through the combined effort of my wife and I, there is a child coming in to the world. I am planning on posting this particular post (that you are reading, right now) about a week or two after my ‘announcement’ post that is addressing my children and my acknowledged inadequacies directly.

And there is a reason that Mono No Aware comes up with the subject of Children. Ever since I first got the news from my wife, my mind has been doing absolutely everything that it can to avoid the fact that there are metaphysical doors in my life that are shutting, very quickly. No, They have shut, but I just have not yet looked at the new state of my life to acknowledge exactly what has shut and was has remained open. I will not be able to quit my job in a huff and pursue writing full time  anything that does not consistently pay me money. I will not be able to work on my master’s degree (at least – not where I was planning on doing so). I will soon not be able to stay out with the guys past a certain hour. I can not waste my time on bullshit.

I want to build something for my child. For my children. But thinking about the future like that forces me to extrapolate further and realize that in only 2 or 3 generations (4 or 5 if I am lucky), the only evidence that will remain of me and my legacy (other than some old photos and a dusty memorialized facebook account) are the intangible things that I need to start thinking of right now as to how I want to raise my children.

In short: I would like to have more educated people in the world; so I will raise my child to love learning. I am excessively interested in truth and people fighting for it; so I will raise my child to value truth like fresh water on a long hike. I would like to have more peaceful people in the world; so I will raise my child with gentleness and respect. A lot of other things are on this list as well, including several things from the last link on my ‘about’ page.

The awareness involved in really looking at and embracing Mono No Aware is a scary one and it makes me realize that my legacy is a very real thing and a very ephemeral thing. My children will be the cement in which I write my name, but they may also be the backhoe that rips up that same cement. If I know humans (and I think I do, at least a little) I will probably want them to strip away some of the legacy that I am going to be imprinting upon them – we humans are terrible people sometimes, and terrible people sometimes make terrible parents, but I think even terrible parents want their children to minimize their terrible qualities.

Now, to art.

Holy crap my children are going to be one of the most important things in my life. That realization still hits me really hard. And I get to form them – not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This means that I can look at them as a canvas upon which I will make my mark. My rough stone from which I will carve a beautiful statue that others will adore or a pillar that will hold up a great structure. They are the room full of people that have no idea what sort of story I am about to inflict upon them.

I don’t even get a choice! My mark will be on my children whether I like it or not – and whether they like it or not. I hope that I can approach this with excitement more than dread.

I think that storytelling will be similar to raising children in a few ways.

Stories are very ephemeral – they don’t stick around very long, like dancing, sand sculptures, and a few other art forms. Having a story in your head is a little different than telling a story. Getting it in your head and maintaining it there is just the work that you do ahead of time – the art is in the telling. Same goes for teaching anything, but over the course of my progeny’s childhood this fact will be highly emphasized – The stories that I tell and the things that I teach them will not have a lasting, physical effect. Hopefully they will have a lasting effect.

When I tell a story, I hope to give people an experience and entertainment with my words, my voice, my inflections and emphases and so forth. But I cannot just list off a bunch of verbs and nouns and tell people “you are now entertained.” Similarly, for the next few decades at least – I will be telling my children things that I hope they will remember. But there will be very few things that I can point to that I will be able to say “see that – that is the particular thing that I meant to do. And here it is.” And in this way, both raising children and storytelling are similar – it is in the action of the thing is where the important bits are.

 

An Important Event Planned for the Spring

First off, I am apologizing in advance for the nerdy style of speech that I am using. I am apologizing mostly to my family – many of my family are not nerds and I suppose they just have to put up with it. I am also apologizing to my friends, but I think if you are still my friend, then I already know that you will excuse my language, which can be very over-the-top sometimes. I love analogy, metaphor, and other flowery ways of saying things that are just downright overdone.

One way or the other: please read the whole post. I like to write, and you reading it will encourage that. Also this is a much better way of communicating things to people en masse.

That being said, I am not exactly the sort of person that will put their kitchen remodel on Facebook. Or their cat, dog, lizard, or hell, even family. That’s right – I don’t like to put my family on Facebook, because I’ve noticed how little I like seeing your family on Facebook. I’m not going to tell you not to put it up there, because I suppose that is what Facebook is for. Probably not a popular opinion that I hold, but hey, there you go. But considering this blog is for me what Facebook is for seemingly everyone else, I also don’t plan on putting them up here.

Oh, except for a few that help me to effectively communicate things. I will be doing my best to keep posts on-topic. So…this post is about my family…

Ultrasound 1

Congratulations, Seth. It’s a potato. It’s an on-topic potato.

I will, however, talk about important things that happen to me. Things of cyclopean import that shake the very foundations of my existence and make my brain all fuzzy for days on end. The things that sweep through my life like a flood from some divine spring, scouring the landscape inside my head down to the bedrock. Things that throw all other things against the wall to become shadows in the glaring importance of this new-found truth. Things that, when the light finally dims from my new perspective, the shadows will have etched themselves upon the wall in bas-relief, while this new thing stands as a fully-realized sculpture within my mental vaults, an altar to a transformed state of mind.

And it’s not like this event was not somewhere on the horizon. Amanda and I were actually talking about having kids, considering that her stomach issues were getting figured out and we’ve had a few years to figure out stumble blindly through marriage. I mean, right now this event is only just visible below the line of the horizon, it is so far off. But it has separated itself from the ‘distant future’ and can now be faithfully predicted, firmly in what I understand to be called the ‘middle future’. That is – not tomorrow and not next week, but so frighteningly close that I need to start planning things that have to do with it. With a date – even one given to me by experts in the matter!

That date is March 11. On this date, I’m going to be a father. My brain has not been able to wrap itself around that fact.

We are not entirely sure how this will all look when we get to it, either. We may move (doing a pregnant waddle up and down icy stairs all day might not be what Amanda wants to do in the final month or so). We may get different jobs, more attuned to our new responsibilities (i.e. making more money because kids are hella expensive). We may turn into odd caterpillar-like things, wrapped in a cocoon of stress, unsure of the specific form that we will take upon breaking out into the rest of the world, but – just like the hypothetical butterfly in question, we are totally convinced that everyone will want to see and hold and make adorable noises at the product of our regeneration and stress – and they will probably take pictures of this product like mad, as well.

SO I figure you want to know some details:

First off: if you want ongoing details and updates about the littlest Kleinpaste, then email me [seth.kleinpaste@stumblestoryinn.com] and put “SUBSCRIPTION TO BABY” in the subject bar. If you use the form to the left, you will not get a subscription to baby. The form to the left is for a much more nerdy things.

Detail 1: As I said above, March 11th is the due date. This puts this post (that you are reading, right now!) at the very beginning of the 2nd trimester (specifically, 13 weeks and 6 days), which we have heard is the beginning of the more ‘out of the woods’ area of pregnancy in regards to danger.

Detail 2: Some people have known for a while, and they are either family or married/already-have-kids folks that are part of our regular lives (as in, we see them at least once a week). There are a few other people that know – but it was leaked to them on accident or they were just in a place where we had to be talking about it. I am not 100% sure what Amanda thinks, but I for one have been extremely excited and I am just done with my poker face – people have even asked me about ‘hypothetical children’ in the last month where I almost burst out laughing.

Detail 3: This was a surprise to us, as well as you. If Amanda and I would choose, we would probably wait at least until we get a solid extra set of wheels. Down one car is already time-consuming enough, now we need to pay various baby-related medical bills while trying to save for a car/find a loan that fits our budget. Considering this is a surprise, we are probably going to become very creative in our baby-supply-procuring-endeavors. We don’t want to put people out, but we may cleverly disguise ‘begging for free diapers’ with a ‘contest where you get a bottle of booze if you bring the most diapers to an event’.

Detail 4: Not as related as the other details, I have a website! You are on it right now! I am actually using this post as a sort of ‘stress test’ to see how my webhost does. I am using this website for a few different things, and they may or may not be of interest to you. Please check back often, especially if you care about nerdy things or if you want to know my thoughts about parentage, etc.

I still don’t know what the whole ‘baby’ business means for this website, but as of the time of writing, I already have a few posts planned that deal with the philosophy of parenthood and fatherhood (which I think are slightly different in… important ways).

If you want to comment on this post, I invite you to do so here on this website (you probably won’t see your post at first – the system I have in place requires me to moderate each one). Responding on facebook is also cool.