A week

A lot can happen in a week.

Certainly, a lot did happen the week before last. Going backwards from Sunday:

  1. Moved all of the baby stuff and 90% of my wardrobe back home from my parents-in-law’s place
  2. Came back to my parents-in-law’s house from a cabin-on-a-lake trip with my guy friends
  3. Kayaked on a lake – including once at 1am with an awesome full moon and once where I watched my friend slowly sink. It was hilarious. [mostly Saturday]
  4. Left my parents-in-law’s place and, amidst confusion, arrived at and checked in at the cabin. Met a guy in a neighboring cabin who got married at that cabin ten years ago. [Friday]
  5. Enjoyed a blissfully work-free evening. [Thursday]
  6. After coming home from work, worked my ass off being my wife’s assistant. [Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday]
  7. Spent all day keeping the baby out of my wife’s hair, and when I could, perform assistant duties for my wife. [Sunday]
  8. Drive the in-laws to the airport so they don’t have to leave the vehicle at the airport during their vacation, and then immediately go and move all the baby stuff to their house. They pay me some money to watch the house and tell me that all the beer they have in the fridge and cabinet is specifically for me and Amanda during the week. Spend the evening being Amanda’s assistant. [Saturday]

I am not normally one to make exclamations about how busy I’ve been. I will say here that parenting is some pretty time-consuming stuff, and a massive deadline from my wife’s work makes it even more busy. And then add house- and dog-sitting to that whole mix, and I don’t think that I had done anything except work that entire week.

It was a week so busy that I am only getting to writing this post almost two weeks later.

I am going to keep writing posts.

Juggling

I haven’t updated in a while. I don’t really even know if anyone actually reads this – if they do, then I can’t tell because no one comments and there are more bots crawling my page looking for an email address to spam than there are live humans (also, I definitely have a USA Department Of Defense IP address in my analytics. Not sure what they think I am up to here).

The reasons I haven’t updated are many and varied. After I took a vacation in May it was easier to have the pattern of “not worrying about that right now”, and I am slowly working my way back to full website-productivity. The other things that I work on (when I get a precious moment free from parenting, husbanding, working and otherwise maintaining the household and life) tend to be video-game related, and I’ve been using the “I need to relax” excuse. But it’s an excuse 80-90% of the time. I can relax while writing – or I can relax while reading, which is something that I know helps my writing.

I think that I am no longer going to do the “==>” podcast – I don’t especially care about it and I think that it deserves more of an “audio drama” than “one guy talking into a mic” I still have all the files, but I think I’ll take them off of libsyn. I will start it up in the future if someone asks me to. Also the guise of “reading it to my daughter” is a pretty bad idea – she is going to start picking up words pretty soon, and Karkat is way too intense for her not to figure some of those out.

I am also working on finding a new job (current job doesn’t pay what I need – if you have a job that pays 35k with benefits or 45k without, email me seth . kleinpaste @ stumblestoryinn . com ), and a new apartment (current place isn’t the right size or shape for raising a getting-in-to-everything toddler). So yeah. I am legitimately busy right now, and I am figuring out what next to be podcasting. Hopefully it can be something with another person.

Basically I am using this post to prove to myself that I really can write a post on lunch at work. It’s not impossible, and I really don’t have more important shit to do.

status of stuff

Before I get going: Go see MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. You just need to. Don’t see it if you have PTSD associated with hardcore punk style (lots of leather and metal), or car crashes (basically it is one long car crash that keeps getting better), or fire. Those are the only reasons you are allowed to not see it.

So, I know I promised that I would have an episode up, and I am still planning at keeping to that, but I had to (once again) change my schedule to meet the demands of life. And I don’t even care that I may have disappointed all of my fans, considering how few they are, and how well I know them, and especially considering that the money I am paying to maintain this website is very much worth having a creative outlet.

I am finished editing the episode, and I will be recording the intro to it sometime later today, and hopefully that means that it will be published tonight after I get it formatted correctly and everything (currently both my beautiful ladies are sleeping and I don’t want to wake them with my voice). I am also still writing the next Lily story post, and that will hopefully be finished and made available by Thursday at the normal time.

At some point in the last week or two, Amanda found a file on our desktop that contained something that I was inspired to write. It was only a page or so long and I thought it wasn’t that great. Apparently she liked it, even though I don’t  really know what is great about it.

It was a high-level look at a world I had been thinking about where the last good king dies amidst prophecies of how he will return, and then all the bad guys try to keep their bad-ness to lower levels in order to not trigger the prophecies.

The kingdom goes through several evolutions of social structure and they eventually manage to have a society that can support (among other things) several successful evil necromancer-dukes, all without waking up the king. The thing is: they all really love their country, and all for different (often conflicting) reasons.

What I am envisioning is actually trying to publish a book of short stories that start from the point where the society has finished reeling from the shock of the king leaving, but have little to do with one another, except some references to influential characters and events.

This got all rambly and shit, but I don’t care. I’m just glad I have a website. What a day. What a lovely day.

p.s. if you are interested in my photography stuff, I changed the gallery. Check it out.

p.p.s Are you people sharing my website or something? my analytics show occasional huge jumps in unique IDs. Most recently on may 18th. Maybe you were all expecting my episode up? Show me some love on my facebook page if you aren’t robots – seriously: I want to know if there are real people actually reading this with their meaty eyes, you should let me know, because I haven’t met a single person who has said that they regularly check my website other than my brother and myself. I am not linking because robots follow links. just search facebook for the website name.

The Lily Story, Chapter 3 – Immediate Reactions

In chapter 2, I related how Amanda told me that we were pregnant

Before I get going, I am going to go on a little rant. Skip it if you want – it has little to do with the story, just a little bone to pick with critics of word choice. Click “Rant” to expand it.

Rant

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system:

We were pregnant. I was sitting in a church parking lot under a little scraggly tree on my phone with my wife. My pregnant wife. The sun was shining very brightly. That moment after we hung up the phone was a very long moment.

I was at the beginning of realizing that I had no clue what was going to happen.

I am an anxious sort of person, I always know what’s going to happen. Not because I am some prophet or something, but because I have this intense desire to always appear to be very well composed and calm. This desire leads to me constantly thinking about what I am going to do when something happens, or when I do something, or when I go somewhere. I do this head-on-a-swivel thing when I am in a new situation: I try to turn my surroundings into a fire hose of information that I am trying to access and analyze in real time, so that I can develop some really good heuristics for the next time I am in a similar situation. I have become very good at this.

But there I was, contemplating a situation that will now change all other situations to come after it. No mental shortcuts applied here. My mind was in totally new territory. The very soil of this territory had a signal-jamming effect that forced me to re-evaluate everything. Simple things. Things like interacting with others. Even sitting next to other people (as I was about to do when I went back in to the lecture) presented a new situation that I had never before encountered.

  • “What do I tell them when they ask where I was?”
  • “Do I smile and enjoy the joy? Or should I wait until I am alone?”
  • “What if I start crying?”
  • “Do I just leave and try to explain later?”
  • “What if I accidentally let slip what I just learned? Should I be telling people right now? Can I trust these guys to keep it quiet? What if I tell them or lose my cool and later we lose the baby and then I have to tell people all of that?”

This is a sample of what went through my head by the time I had gotten back to the door. You know, all 20 feet. I still don’t remember even generally speaking what the lecture was about.

So my mind did this thing that I am at a loss of words to describe. “Fuzzy” is pretty close. Like you are walking through thick mist in a familiar neighborhood, and something hidden in the mist is making an unfamiliar noise. You have no idea exactly what is right around you, but you know where you are. You have no idea exactly what is happening, but you’re pretty sure that nothing is about to hurt you. You aren’t scared, but you’re not sure that feeling safe is a good idea.

It was a pretty strange feeling. I can’t say that I’ve gotten used to it, even now – when Lily is eight weeks old. But I can say that it is an interesting paradigm to find oneself in. And you don’t stop living life just because your brain wants to go find a corner to hide in and scream.

The Lily Story, Chapter 2: The News

Like I may have mentioned before, Lily was quite a surprise (By the way, do not ever call a child a ‘mistake’. They are either planned or a surprise). We were not actively trying to have kids, we were on birth control, we were getting used to deflecting the ‘when will I get a grand-child’ questions. So the story of getting the news is a little dramatic. Well. Dramatic for me.

After she was done with a bout of stomach gastro-intestinal issues (which was confusing, long-term, and expensive) about a month went by without anything really happening in our life other than thinking “Man, paying off these bills is going to be awesome! Here comes an actually useful savings account!”

And then she started to get nauseous again, which was the primary symptom for her previous GI issues. So we waited a little while to see if it was temporary as her systems got back to a pre-medical-intervention state, or if we would have to go see a doctor specialist. Again. It was certainly much less severe than it had been, and her other presenting symptoms (notably: pain) were absent.

In case you can’t tell already, this was “morning sickness” (which I now know: it rarely, if ever, occurs consistently in the morning), and we just thought that our doctors would once again call for some strange tests.

During that week she basically ordered me to move our bedroom from the attic to the main floor of our home (we rent the 2nd floor and attic) and clean a whole bunch of stuff. This was a little out of character, but not really demanding or otherwise terrible.  Only… she normally doesn’t just tell me to do things. She usually asks. I also didn’t mind: house needed cleaned. Turns out, the “nesting instinct” is a very useful, very powerful urge that many women get when they are pregnant.

Then I went to a class/lecture thing that she had been planning on attending with me, but was instead too nauseous to leave the house. About halfway through the lecture I get a text message from her:

“So, I used that last pregnancy test…”

That’s it. That was the entire text of the message.

I am sure that her head was doing what mine was about to do (more on that next week in Chapter 3), and apparently she thought she was being pretty vague.

I read that text message really quick, and read it again. I put the phone back in my pocket. I Thought about it. Took it back out and read it again. Looked back at the speaker, and tried to focus. Couldn’t focus, too much baby in my head. Tried to not reveal to my friends sitting on either side of me that suddenly very deep emotions were stirring – like an earthquake on the pacific ocean’s floor that is about to make Hawaiians very sad. Almost failed. Got up, walked out of the building. Sat down under a tree in the parking lot, and called Amanda.

I don’t really remember the conversation really well, but there was a lot of “Hooooly crap.” and “What? You already told your mom and dad?” and “Haha, which word of the text message did you think was vague?” and some very brief plans of who we would be telling ASAP vs. later.

After that, my brain got all fuzzy.

To my child

Dear Lily,

This is your dad, and I am excited to meet you.

We are going to spend a great deal of time together. I want to be there for you. This world that you are about to share with your mother and me is an interesting place, and a hard place. There will be people you meet that are amazing and people that are not, and there will be some people that you will love so much that, even when they hurt you, you will keep loving them.

There are bad things out here. Some of them are obvious, like snakes and spiders or hurricanes and tornadoes or house fires and car crashes. Some of them are not, like cancer and depression or corporate advertising and minimum wage or failing school districts and the IRS. Some bad things are people and their actions. Some bad things can’t be helped. There are too many bad things out here to be able to tell you about. You will learn about them, and I will do my best to prepare you for them.

But that’s just it. I want to be here for you. I want to be here to tell you about it when it is happening. When you fall off of your bike, I want to be there put you back on it. When your high school sweetheart leaves the state because of some other person, I want to be there so that you have a firm, safe place to come back to.

I want to keep you safe, but I know I can’t. That fact terrifies me and tears me up inside. I won’t be able to stop your heart from being broken or your bike to keep from crashing, or your grades to keep from failing. But I can be there for you, in successes and in failures. I have found that I am good at that – being there. I will be there for you. I want to fight for you. I want to help you through the events that give you scars, and I want to help you learn to live with the scars themselves.

I want to teach you.

I have so much to show you. Some things that I will only realize they are worth teaching after your presence has shown me their value. Some things you won’t see their value until after you are grown up. The world is opening up to you soon, and it is vulnerable to your touch. I am going to protect you and hold you back until I know that you can use your touch well – and sometimes, you will hate me for it.

But if I teach you correctly, the world will be better for your touch.

Love,

Dad.

Fighting.

I like fighting. The sheer brutality about it. The conquering of something. Sometimes things that were larger than me. Larger than life. I have only been in a few fistfights in my life, one was in middle school – and I lost in a positive way. But as a 21st century westerner, most of my physical fights are exclusively daydreams, or they are not physical fights.

The only physical fights that I daydream about are the ones where I swoop in and kick the ass of a mugger threatening someone else. The one where I take out the office shooter with extreme prejudice. The one where I stand up to some ignorant asshole and send him packing.

But the things that I need to fight? Those things are sometimes hard to even put a name to. They often have names, but learning what their name is can be tricky. Depression is a good candidate for that category. Laziness fits there, too. Ennui and other existential terrors. Sleep.

Sometimes they have no name, and I have to fight for their opposite. Discipline (which is not always the opposite of laziness) with my body, with my money, with my emotions. Time management. Health.

These are things that stop me from doing things that I want to do. They are limiting factors. They are the “things in the way”

So, what stops me more often is myself.

I had to stop writing for a moment and think about that again. I think that I hear it all the time. From myself, from others, from media, from everywhere. I am not sure I really believe it.

Emotionally, I know that this isn’t true – I am good to myself, right? Of course I am. There is nothing that I want more than my own fulfillment, joy, and happiness- why would I short circuit that with some bullshit that gets in my way?

Intellectually, I carefully follow a trail of terrible black footprints round and round the dark caverns in my mind until I realize that I am walking in a circle – the monster I am tracking, the one that keeps me up at night and tells me that I am a terrible person – it is me. and nothing but me. The only evidence I find on the ‘stress’ region of my internal world has all been placed there by myself. I will not take the blame for all the stressful and traumatic things that have happened to me – but my reaction to change my inner landscape because of those people and situations, and to maintain that landscape by emotionally attending to it without emotionally dealing with it is most certainly me.

This is one of the reasons that I hate my inner self. There is this part of me that is convinced that it has to police the rest of me  – out of the fear that the rest of me will start getting into some extraordinarily bad situations if I am not constantly policing myself. It is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, only without the amazing super-strength that makes it almost worth it. Jekyll always controlling what situation that he is in, being very careful to discipline his emotions and reactions, while this terrible beast within is raging at him and telling him that he needs to let loose so that he can overpower the world to their mutual pleasure. To get a little Freudian on you, basically my superego has been given too much power.

Only I don’t have a Mr. Hyde. Or perhaps, the normal me is the Mr. Hyde, and there is this annoying little pipsqueak Jekyll constantly telling me that I need to calm that shit down before I hurt something, keeping me out of situations that might upset the very careful balance between me and … other me. But I don’t need him. I am a gentle man. I do not fly off the handle until I know that I am in the right situation – defending someone’s physical body, for example. Or a metal mosh pit (which are a ton of fun, by the way). I am a disciplined man – not as much as I would like, but I’ve been paying my bills (mostly) on time for a really long time now – even though I don’t exactly have a salary that matches my experience.

Sometimes the things that stop me are not me, as well. Sometimes they are other people. Sometimes they are fundamental concepts. Time, for example. Sleep, as another. The importance of my family, as third. My loyalty to my friends. My need for food. My (oft-neglected) need for exercise.

[personification of these things as demons. not in a religious way. not in a physical way]

I like to personify these things. Matthew Inman does a great job talking about the personification of your personal problems in his running comic at the oatmeal. Reading his story about running has helped me to do this well. I have a little graphic of the blerch posted everywhere I have a computer, and one in my wallet. Because I need to fight him.

Obviously, I cannot fight the need for exercise except with exercise. I cannot fight the need for time management/discipline except by being disciplined about my time management. So I turn it around a bit and personify these negative behaviors as little demon thingies that are telling me to do things. This helps me to fight them.

[philosophy of fighting. you fight for a why, not a what or a who. you fight “because…”, not “for…” or “against…” (those are just extra details); you fight to conquer the future and to be free in the present, not to wrestle the past.]

But here is the kicker – you never fight anything just because it is there to be fought. No one does.  You only ever fight because there is a reason to fight. You don’t line up a bunch of dudes near a football because you like making touchdowns, you do it because you like playing football. Matthew Inman doesn’t fight his Blerch because he hates fat fairies, he fights his Blerch so that he can find peace. I don’t fight laziness because I enjoy productivity – I fight laziness because I want to get something done.

Those specific things, the “Whom do we fight?” the “Where do we fight?” the “What do we fight for?” the “Whom are we fighting against?” – these are not anywhere near the question “Why do we fight?” Those are just extra details. These might be important details – so important that you would be otherwise unmotivated. But these are just details. We only fight “Because…”

Because I want to see a more just world. (other details: abuses by the government. Dishonesty amongst friends. My local community.)

Because I want my children to look up to me. (other details: bullies at their school. My job. My overall ability to provide.)

Because generosity helps me to become a better person. (Other details: My job and professional ability. Room in my budget and schedule. People who put a strain on my resources.)

Because personal growth is important. (Other details: Myself. In my head. The alarm clock)

Because I love my wife and my children. (Other details: everywhere. Anyone who endangers them.)

And I have so many of these demons. Despair. Laziness. Depression. Confusion. Greed. Selfishness.

And I will fight back the demons.

Every. Day.

Not because they are demons.

Because they stop me from doing what I need and want. They stop me from giving you something good. They stop me from giving myself the tools that I need to pull myself up. They stop me from empowering me, and from empowering you to be the greatest things that we can be.