Nerd Fort Number One, Episode 2

This is the second episode, still in the first session. Nothing else really to say about it.

As for ‘housekeeping’ stuff, I have started to edit the second session. It was much shorter, but I am also making the episodes significantly shorter, so both sessions are going to take 4 episodes to complete. I think I will start doing a “gametale” near the end starting in session 3.

Thanks for listening! Tell your friends!

A Brief Review, An Audacious Review, and an Update

Next in my series of podcasts is one that I no longer listen to, one that helped me get where I am, and of course, the update on the as-yet-unnamed D&D 5e podcast.

A Brief Review

I started listening to Private Sanctuary when I thought that I needed more nerdiness in my life and I was working at a job that required minimal communication with real live humans. I am reviewing this one only briefly because I am no longer listening to it – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad now. It’s just not what I’m looking for.

Ryan Costello, Jr. Started the 3.5 Private Sanctuary as a place where D&D 3.5 can continue living, despite the fact that Wizards of the Coast was dropping support for the game. In the first few dozen episodes, Ryan also watched as Paizo began to start Pathfinder, commenting on it’s development. Eventually they lost the “3.5”, because they were really just talking about Pathfinder. Eventually, Ryan (and crew) made multiple spin-off podcasts, all organized in to a podcast network.

The beginning of the Private sanctuary was something that helped me keep my sanity while going over multiple bumps and hurdles in my life. But when they split off in to the network, it was no longer what I was looking for. Mostly, it was the change in hosts – Ryan was about to have a baby and decided to sit out for a little while (this is all based on memory – sorry if I’ve got it wrong). The style change was a little jarring and I looked for other podcasts to keep my ears busy at work.

I am glad to see that Ryan and Co. are doing well and still releasing fresh content. If you are looking for general Pathfinder community news, check out their flagship podcast Know Direction (which focuses on industry events, products, and people), Private Sanctuary (which focuses on rules and game issues), or Geek Together (which is an intermittent podcast about a variety of narrow nerdy topics – but different each episode).

I’m going to leave it there for the Know Direction Network – I don’t listen to them anymore and therefore I feel like it would be disingenuous to have anything more in-depth. BUT, I will say that this podcast was what helped me to start my own podcast, which is discussed more in the next section.

Ryan, if you are reading this: let me know any time you find yourself in central Ohio. I’d like to give you a “thank-you” meal.

An Audacious Review

So, after I had listened to some 30 or so episodes of the 3.5 Private sanctuary, I noticed that I kept having opinions and I kept wanting to tell them to Ryan and his cohorts. Unfortunately, the episodes were about a year old at that point and I doubt that the hosts even remembered the points they were making. Nevertheless I still found myself trying to figure out how to talk to these guys, to offer a counterpoint, and to engage them on different issues.

And then I realized – what I actually wanted was to start my own podcast, so as to have conversations with people that I shared a nerdy space with.

So, how does someone start a podcast? Well, I googled “how to start a podcast.” I realize now that this is similar to the guys from Office Space looking up “money laundering” in the dictionary.

A few things popped up. I don’t know how far down the list it was, but the thing that really got my attention was The Audacity to Podcast. Which happened to be a podcast. All about podcasting. I was absolutely tickled about the recursion involved in the fact that this show existed at all. Through this podcast I learned that there are quite a few podcasts about podcasting, but this one was the one that I kept listening to. It is often evergreen content (seriously, even episodes 1-15 usually apply today), it is very well produced, and Daniel J. Lewis is very good at doing what he does.

Just like the previous two that I have reviewed, I started at the beginning. I downloaded every episode he has and started listening to them all. This gave me a good perspective on quite a few things, and helped me to develop the ideas that I had for a podcast. Some of the most important things that I learned I shall repeat here because I desperately want your awesome content to be preserved (really – I want you to make a podcast out of that awesome idea you have): 1. You must control your own feed, 2. You must have some kind of landing page that is easy to get to, and 3. Be passionate, be consistent, be considerate. Roughly June of 2014 I had managed to listen to enough episodes that I was finally comfortable starting a website (that you are reading right now).

Then, less than a month later, Amanda and I learned that we were pregnant. Well…okay. Suddenly the time and money that I’ve sunk in to this project has become a ‘back-burner’ project. But I also get a baby!

Like I said before, The Audacity to Podcast is a very well-produced show, and Daniel J. Lewis is good at what he does. He is humble, knowledgeable, and skilled. He tells you about different aspects of podcasting (and other online productions) with no hesitation, and often from his own experience.

Apparently, Daniel funds his life with his podcast network, largely through a few online businesses (consulting for podcasts and related work) affiliate marketing on Amazon and through various companies that offer products that he uses. He usually mentions something or other within the podcast episode, and experienced listeners hear it coming a mile away – but we still listen! which says something about his style.

An Update

So, in my previous post, I talked about the people in this new podcast that I am working on, and the space we will be in. The supplies for the space have been purchased and my wife told me that I am only allowed to have it be 9 feet by 10 feet, but that shouldn’t change it too much. I’ve been cutting wood and doing bad math in my head and coming up with ad hoc ways of supporting the whole thing and it looks like it will really be a space to game in really well. I don’t have pictures yet because I haven’t taken any, but I promise that I will.

This time, in addition to the physical structure, I will tell you about the structure of the podcast itself.

The basic plan is:

  • brief intro music (probably something from this hoopy frood) that lasts less than ten seconds before fading in to…
  • an intro talk where I talk about who we are and why we think you want us in your ears. This is probably recorded ahead of time and lasting less than 2 minutes, since you really want to hear…
  • THE CONTENT – i.e. the reason you people are letting me live in your head for a little while. Probably 30-35 minutes (well…probably an hour before I edit out cussing and boring stuff) of Pathfinder play. Eventually at an appropriate stopping point, we will get to…
  • Ending talk, which will be recorded by me, alone, and without the other players. Because I want this space to be for any announcements and we are recording 4-5 episodes worth of content in each session. I will provide a brief summary, probably a teaser about the next episode, and then I will talk about credits and the website. At the very end, I will include a D&D gametale, something that has actually happened to an actual player in an actual game – but also is very short.
  • Then, outro music.

Hey seriously. Who are you people?

Really now.

If you read this, I would really like to know. Like, actually prove it. I think that it would help to motivate me – knowing that there are people actually reading this stuff that I am writing. If you are reading this, then please submit at least a one-word comment, below. I have to verify it before it will actually show, and the program that I use for comments needs your email – But I would really like to know that you are out there.

If for some reason you don’t like posting things on the internet, then come tell me in person. Or send me a text message. Leave a cryptic note about beetles on my front door. Anything.

I am asking this because I just looked at my analytics and it shows that there were 53 unique IDs that looked at my website (this website. that you are reading. right now.), and hardly anyone mentions that they know it even exists.

So yeah. Prove that you are a people. Leave a comment, or throw pennies at me when I walk to my house from my car. Just let me know that more than just robots read my website.

Anyways…

Yeah. about my previous post. That didn’t work. At all. I hardly wrote anything. The post right before this is just dripping with bright-eyed optimism and a can-do attitude.

I really thought I was going to be able to do it all.

But I have a baby and she got knocked off of her sleeping schedule. It made me want to take 100% of the other time in my day and sleep. Or do something to relax. Anything. Even during my lunch hour while I munch my sandwiches I didn’t get much done except fill even further my huge file of “cool shit that I’m totally getting to when I get some time.” Yeah. That ‘file’ is a Gmail draft to myself that I started as an easy way to transfer non-work things from my free time at work (lunch, breaks, etc.) to home. Just for giggles I copied and pasted it in to a new word document. At the default font size (11?), it is 43 pages.

Forty Three pages. Holy crap. I didn’t think it was that big. Even allowing for the fact that even a single ‘funny image url’ can fill a single line, and the odd “large list of stupid shit from a forum” is mostly useless… I imagine I’ve still got at least 20 pages there. And I have a few other email drafts that are topic specific, like GMing tools, Podcasting resources, Finance articles (did you know that if you can save $25k/year for 7 years, you will be able to retire in a big way and only need a part-time job?), and other shit.

This post isn’t much except me proving to myself that my website still exists.

Uhhh…one update though – I’ve got a real podcast really getting set up with real people playing a real game. Gonna have a sit-down on the 20th and talk with these guys about exactly what it all means and how to not talk over each other while recording. I plan on recording that just to prove that my microphones work.

NaNoWriMo

I’m not going to write a novel, but I am going to write.

I have quite a lot going on in my life – trying to find a new job, moving apartments, having an infant daughter – so I don’t think that I could drum up the focus needed for a novel.

Instead, I am planning on 4 things per week in November:
-One Blog post (about something other than meta-subjects).
-One Podcast episode (written, not recorded).
-One adventure of this new D&D campaign that I am working on (to the level of names of places, but not stats).
-One Chapter of one of these books that I would like to write (any sort of draft).

In addition, if I accomplish all of the above in a week but still have time to write,
-A first draft of a Short Story.
-Drafts of podcast episodes and blog posts.
-Important characters and items for the campaign.

These are goals, and they represent quite a lot of writing. I am going to be working on outlines and so forth before November gets started so that I have a clear path ahead of me.

I am not sure what my word count will look like at the end if I do keep up. But it will certainly be more than it is now.

A to-do list for this website

So, in the interest of actually using this webspace that I am paying for, I am going to create this to-do list for myself. I feel like this will help me to be more directed in the way in which I approach it, and I feel like that is a good thing. I’m going to revisit this post on a regular basis (let’s say, monday sometime after lunch?) and let people know what I’ve done and what’s next. Maybe this should be a webpage.

CURRENTLY, I am working on THE WEBSITE ITSELF, with an emphasis on IMAGES

The website itself:

-The header image: Even if I do not include an Inn, per se, I should include imagery that evokes an old-timey building ready to welcome road-weary travelers.

-The Structure: Does this website operate in the way that I want it to? Do the pages lead to one another in a way that makes conceptual sense? I have no idea – but I will find out.

-Images I want: I have a daughter, even some pictures of her. Perhaps I should take the best images from my mother-in-law’s instagram and put them here? I think that’s a good idea. I also have other things that I have or want images of – and I even have a device specifically dedicated to their capture! and capture them I will.

Categories on the website

– Apprentice Father: Perhaps this should be less gender specific? Apprentice Parent? Whatever. I am learning to care for this screaming and laughing poop machine and I should act like it is something that I am learning, rather than something that is happening to me.

– Apprentice whatever-else: I am still not GMing. I am trying to tell stories, but might not have time. I know for a fact that I’m a nerd…am I writing about it?

Things connected to the website

– Amazon: I am an Amazon Associate…but even though they say I have been, I remain unpaid for the small amount of money that I am purportedly due.

– Social Media: I actually have a twitter for this thing. and a facebook. and I (as a person, not as a website) have an instagram. Perhaps I should integrate those more carefully….

 

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.

On Vacation

I am at oak Island, North Carolina.

My time is being taken up by showing my baby what sand is, enjoying the sand and sun myself, eating really good food, and generally relaxing a whole bunch.

You may have noticed that I did not upload a new episode. Even though I did have the time to record the next episode, I never finished editing it. I might be able to edit it when I get home saturday evening, or perhaps sunday. But I doubt it. The episode will go up when I finish it.

On the other hand, I do have a blog post (The Lily Story, chapter 3) already prepared and will have that out on thursday. I anticipate a good deal of time may be spent catching up and re-building my (painfully small) backlog. While I am doing that, I will probably put up more recent pictures of my adorable baby and probably some vacation pictures. And maybe a video of me locked in epic combat with a crab in a very cold swimming pool.

The Lily Story, Chapter 1: The Relationship

In a previous post I mentioned how I was going to do a whole series on what it has been like becoming a father.

This post is about my wife: Amanda Kleinpaste, and our marriage.

Obviously, if the idea of you having children is anywhere near a possibility for you, then you have a relationship with someone – you know… Considering what traditionally needs to happen for babies to happen.

Amanda and I got married February 5th, 2011. We had no particular plans about having children except…you know. Eventually. When we got around to it. I suppose I was thinking that at some point we would figure out precisely when we wanted to have kids. We are busy people, though – and we are people in need of medical attention. Basically it was just something that we didn’t have time to seriously consider at any point.

and then last July, SURPRISE! BABY TIME! Lily decided that she was coming, period.

Amanda and I know each other. We trust each other. We are committed to each other. We have been shitty to each other in some deeply personal ways. We forgive each other for things. We keep doing the marriage thing.

I have exactly zero experience having children outside of marriage, but I already know that having them inside of marriage is goddamned terrifying. I have no idea what it must be like without a committed relationship.

I do have experience with one thing, though – being a child born into a marriage that ended. I know that things were difficult for them, and I know that they were difficult for me. It must have been very hard for them to make the decisions that they did. They made them, and they affected themselves and their children (myself and my two brothers).

And no matter how much I am currently thriving, I would never wish that situation upon young children. Knowing how much more  work Amanda had to put into normal every day tasks just because she was pregnant is… a little humbling. It’s on the same level as living with someone who recently got into a major car accident and are still recovering physically – she couldn’t stand up for long periods of time, putting on shoes occasionally presents a problem, there is daily pain and uncomfortability, etc., etc., etc.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to raise a child or three as a single parent. Not having someone that you can rely on for normal life stuff – venting, having fun, going out for drinks, whatever.

I am not entirely sure what exactly I am driving at here, only that my relationship with my wife really matters to me, especially when I start thinking about how I am raising Lily. Our daughter is going to be watching us, probably before we are aware that she can make real memories. The foundation of her trust in us is going to be associated with our ability to trust each other and maintain our relationship. If we do something wrong, then we need to work at repairing it, or Lily is going to learn that broken relationships are dealt with long term by ignoring it.

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that Amanda is a critical piece of the “raising my daughter right” pie. Not only would it be biologically impossible without her, it would be mentally and stress-fully impossible to maintain basic operating parameters for life, much less sanity. If I didn’t have Amanda, then I wouldn’t feel confident about even taking care of a child 24/7, much less raising said child.

I am also saying that you should not try to raise a child without help. Holy shit, kids are expensive and incredibly stressful. There are government programs and charities and all sorts of other thing to help people in bad circumstances, but without a spouse, without friends? That would just be a nightmare.

And what’s crazy is that they are stressful in this way before they can even breathe by themselves. Amanda and I enjoy and rely on a wonderful support network that consists of dozens of generous people among our family and friends, and I don’t know what we would do without these people.

But the first level of that support network is each other, and if it weren’t, it would be  a cause of alarm. I love Amanda, and because I love her, I will work to make our relationship better. I love Lily, and because I love her, I will work to make my relationship with Amanda better.

[FINAL EDIT] I’ve been sitting on this post too long and I’m just posting what I have.

Ep 3 Equal Equal Greater Than

This is episode 3 of Equal Equal Greater Than, which brings us to the end of Act 1 (ending on this page). This episode is a little bit shorter, because I didn’t really realize how close I was to such a good stopping point.

I realized that my method of editing was a little bit strange especially at the end of last week’s episode – but that is what this whole thing is about, right? Me figuring out what I am doing with recording and editing. I’ve changed my methods a little and I’m not editing out some of what I thought were “pointless pauses”.

I will have a text-only post up soon, and I am hoping to get a schedule established for those. This one will be in the series of “The Lily Story”. I finally added an element to the infrastructure of my website that allows me to do it in the way I wanted to. There is also a post that I want to put up about how I do things and things I want to do for you (and perhaps, with you).

Also this episode brought me above the data cap for the lowest level of LibSyn service, So now I am spending a little bit more money on that. Which means that I have more data than I can reasonably use. Which means that I am going to more easily find things to publish. Like a “what I am thinking about my website/podcast” episode. Or a “here is my wife making a Pathfinder character” episode.

Equal Equal Greater Than

I’ve come up with a name for this podcast, “Equal Equal Greater Than”, which is specifically a reference to an element in the meta of MSpaintadventures.

This is Episode 2, and has Lily crying and being observed acting out her addiction to pacifiers, as well as Amanda folding laundry and running machinery.

I plan to have another non-podcast post up before the next podcast episode, and I plan to continue publishing the podcast every monday. I will have an RSS page for it up soon.

Lily Homestuck Podcast

Here is the first episode of a new direction for my podcast (somewhat explained in the previous post).

The first 15 or so minutes talks generally about what this podcast will be (hopefully), as well as why and how I am changing direction – all mostly because I have a daughter now and she is an enormous time sink.

Then it gets into what I want this new podcast to be – Primarily (for me, secondarily for my listeners): An excuse to get behind the microphone, and using it. Primarily (for the listener, secondarily for me): A page-by-page description of the webcomic “Homestuck“, as if I am describing and reading it to my daughter.

If you want to download this to put on your listening device of choice, right-click the “download” link, and use “save as”. I have yet to get a solid RSS feed up for it, but I will be putting every episode in a feed once I get that all squared away.

General Update

I don’t know how many people actually use this website to keep up with what I am doing, But I figure I may as well let people know what I am doing most of the time.

My daughter is almost one month old. That is pretty much the number 1 thing in my life as far as time spent or emotional energy goes. She is getting pretty consistent at starting to sleep around 10-11pm, sleeping until 2 or 3, and then not falling asleep again until 5 – but staying asleep until Amanda and I are awake.

So…annoyingly awake at certain hours, but she is getting pretty consistent about it. Which makes it easier to plan around.

I am still working on the series of posts that talk about the whole “becoming a parent” thing. The next (first? I forget) will be up within the next week.

I am still working on podcast stuff – and I recently removed a pretty big mental block: I got a dynamic microphone, which allows me to record audio without building a thick blanket-fort around my computer to keep the noise from the busy street out.

The podcasts themselves…have changed direction. At least until I can manage my time better (or get more time, I suppose), it is going to be reduced to only a few things:
1 – Amanda is actually interested in playing Pathfinder, so I am recording that and will be putting some barely-edited portion of that online on a regular basis. This is now the main thrust of “Apprentice Game Master.”
2 – There is a pretty auspicious date coming up for a certain fandom, so on April 13th I will publish the first episode of describing a certain webcomic to my barely-conscious daughter. I am going to try to be very consistent with this, as it is mostly an exercise in comfortability with podcasting. Starting at 1 episode/week, hopefully increasing quite a bit.
3 – General nerd world stuff. Maybe the old categories of “apprentice storyteller,” and “Nerd’s apprentice,” will still be there, but probably lumped in with this general one.

I am trying to make more time to write – both short fiction (which will undoubtedly be very bad) and posts on this site – thought the temptation to talk about Lily is pretty severe. I will avoid it if I can (Spoiler – I can’t).

So, uh. Yeah. That is what is going on in my world (at least as regards to this website).

If you want to support me or this website, you can buy some stuff from amazon through this link – I get a portion of whatever you buy for a time after you click that link (you don’t even need to buy that particular thing). So if you were already going to buy something – buy it on Amazon instead, through me. Thanks!

5 Years Ago

I came across a screenshot where someone asked their audience (on tumblr or reddit or something) “Explain your current situation to your 5-years-ago self.” And it got me thinking about what’s happened between now and then.

Today, Seth, you used knowledge obtained during the study for your degree to help get your beautiful daughter to keep sleeping so that your strong wife wouldn’t be tempted to wake up and help you. And you went to go write on your website.

Yesterday was the first full day that your daughter was in the world, and you already knew the difference between a lonely cry and a “no, dad – something is actually wrong” cry.

Two days ago you witnessed actively helped your wife deliver your daughter – overcoming the hardest physical challenge that she has ever performed, undergoing so much stress and displaying so much active pain that other people in the room nearly fainted.

One week ago you went to bed, once again wondering when the wait for your daughter would be over.

A week and a half ago you visited a friend in the hospital – one who made the decision to undergo a very risky operation and could die on the table. You were a source of strength and comfort. You were amazed that someone less than one year older than you is mortal, much less about to die. (Note: she survived, but is still not well)

Two weeks ago you led a bible study – it didn’t turn out great, but the fact that you did at all was an accomplishment.

One month ago you had a couple who have an active 4-year old and 1.5 year old to stay at your small home on a weekend that you knew lots of family and friends would be demanding your time.

Six months ago you finally publicly announced that you and your wife were pregnant, while at the same time announcing that you have a personal website in development.

Eight months ago your wife told you that you are going to have a child.

Ten months ago your wife was finally cleared of her gastro-intestinal issues.

One year ago you started working on your website.

One and a half years ago, you moved in to you current apartment with your wife – marking the first serious change in your living condition since you got married to her.

Almost Two years ago you started a temporary position pushing paper that turned in to a serious job with benefits and paid time off.

Two and a half years ago you ended your search for a job. And you started of a series of jobs that you didn’t hold for total bullshit reasons.

Roughly three years ago you shoved your head so far up your ass that you couldn’t see the light of day, managing to break trust with some of the most important people in your life, in such a serious way that (for example) other people at your bible study couldn’t even rely on you to contribute meaningfully to the conversation, much less lead. This particular series of events messed with your head so badly that it also ruined your ability to properly fit memories next to each other in meaningful ways, so it might not be 3 years ago.

about three and a half years ago you finished your degree and started a search for a Real Job. Which was wildly unsuccessful.

Four years ago you married Amanda.

Five years ago you decided to marry Amanda, and followed that up by asking her father for permission.

Five years ago you were working part-time at Panera, attending a college that you weren’t 100% sure about how you were going to pay off, dating a woman who enjoyed NiN more than flowers, and generally not making much of yourself.

Five years ago is March 18th, 2010, and all of this is going to happen to you, and right now you are writing about it, on your own website, in your own apartment, 20 feet away from where your wife is feeding your child.

Order of Events

I am admitting defeat.

This website was started as an interesting hobby and it’s initial idea was to have a home for various podcasts and a blog.

My podcasts have sorta fizzled as they started, mostly because of changing life circumstances that force me to prioritize certain things over hobbies. The blog has sorta done that as well, except instead of fizzling it has turned into a ‘daddy blog’, I think.

The defeat that I refer to is that now I am just going to admit that I am mostly blogging about being a (new) dad. I still plan to write about other things, and there are a few things in queue. But I am going to write an entire series of posts detailing the last 9 months.

So, I am going to just let it happen – I will be talking about family stuff quite a bit, and let that be interspersed in my more nerdy stuff. Hopefully, the family blogging will get boring enough that I will want to write about something else.

I am also going to be recording every one of these posts and putting them into a miniseries of podcast episodes, probably with extra detail, and probably with a guest to talk about it… but very little post-processing (no music or anything, that is).

This list is going to be regularly edited to include the links to the posts themselves, and perhaps changing the titles as needed.

1. Relationship (Amanda)
2. The News (via text)
3. Immediately after the news (Fuzzy brain)
4. Dispersal of information and initial thoughts (telling the family)
5. Baby costs what?! (providing and prioritizing)
6. Nesting (prepping via instinct)
7. News for more people (friends, etc)
7.5 Reactions and others stories
8. Secrets and hatred (keeping the gender a secret)
9. Class
10. Impending doom
11. Symptoms and contractions
12. Comfortability with what may happen
13. Actually realizing that I will have a child – terror
13.5 who the child is and who it is not (asshole roommate, not focus of life)
14. Waiting, anxiety
15. The shower and other children (Especially Zach and Marlaina)
16. Cleaning and Support
17. A new person

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.

Introductions: Storyteller’s Apprentice #1

In this episode, Sammi Rader and I talk about introductions, immediately after (badly) imitating some of the more notable introductions from our past. I still ramble a bit like I did in the first episode of the Nerd’s Apprentice – but I would like think we are a little more focused than I was last time.

I tried to do the introduction from The Lion King, but it was just terrible. I couldn’t even bring myself to keep it at the very end in a blooper-style feature. I will probably keep Sammi’s reaction – for potential use as a great laugh track.

So, I was planning on having a much larger amount of podcast episodes by the time the holiday season rolled around. So my current plan is to get at least one more for each podcast published, as well as one blog post for each holiday, and at least two more blog posts on top of that before the end of the year.

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.