I started blogging thinking that this is where I would review whatever media I felt like ranting about. It quickly changed direction. So this is my online diary. Comments are welcome.
I want to talk about something that doesn't get enough attention. I want to talk about baby loss and awareness, particularly for partners.
It feels so far away
This year has been hard... like, really hard. It really didn't even start off great (except for the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl). With this stupid virus taking peoples parents and grandparents away from them, closing everything, losing jobs and completely destroying lives, Republicans and Democrats at each other's throats, police officers making mistakes, riots, protests, and general unrest, it's no wonder our (my) mental health is plummeting. Probably though, the hardest thing for me has been this unending feeling that something is missing. And look, I'm very fortunate, I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a beautiful wife, perfect kid, I drive a nice car (nicest I've ever owned anyway), and I was never laid off or had my job threatened during this stupid pandemic. I have it good. So why do I feel this way?
This feeling actually started creeping in this summer. I think at that time it was a combination of things. Maybe a mix of being tired of having to stay at home, and also seeing all those social media posts of people living it up at the lake or camping, whatever. I was probably feeling jealous, left out. Probably, but it started to morph into something I didn't recognize. It's deeper than jealousy or resentment. I know it's not that. I'm dealing with something that feels like a part of me is missing. Have you ever felt that? What is it?
I've been thinking a lot about music lately. You know, I used to consider myself a musician? I have never been as talented as my brother or many of my friends, but I could create, I could sing. It was how I identified. But I haven't considered myself a musician in a long time, not even during the brief time that I played bass with The Coterie. I only ever felt like I was just fulfilling a role. I really hope those guys don't think I wasn't into it though. I absolutely loved playing in that band. I just wish I could have been as creative as I had been years ago. Back when I was writing song lyrics daily, and stumbling my way through crafting chord progressions. I wasn't that to The Coterie, and I kind of always thought they deserved better.
I haven't really been reading as much as I used to either. Actually, let me rephrase that, I haven't been reading books as much as I used to. I've had an Audible account for years (ever since I started working at Angus) and I have around 75-85 books in my library. So, most of the "reading" I do is audio. However, I miss it. I miss getting lost in book stores - much to the dismay of my wife. I love the way getting a new book feels like the start of the school year when you're young. I love how different it is to handle a paperback and a hard back. I am one of those people who vehemently disagrees with folding down the corner of a book. I'm THAT guy! Anyway, I miss books. But I have a lot of them, so nothing is stopping me or keeping me from them.
I don't know what it is. I'm angry all of the time (not outwardly). I'm bored. I'm sad about things I should just let go. I'm disconnected, which is horrible because I have a little girl to help raise. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to fix this. Who should I talk to? Is it enough just to put it out on the Internet that I'm a messed up turd. Who knows?
It hurts, but it kills
I don't have much love for the month of November. It seems like the first of the month starts out gloomy and a gloomy cloud hangs around for the rest of the month. This month will be six years since my dad died. It will also mark one year without my grandma Blumer.
You know how when a loved one dies you look for anything with that person in it, photos, videos, social media posts, etc., but you're looking for their likeness. You're looking for their face. You know what destroys me the most? Voicemail. They say that when a loved one dies the first thing you forget is the sound of their voice.
When my dad died I still had a voicemail message from him on my phone. It wasn't even that old. It was from the weekend before he died. He was reminding me that his band, Remedy, was playing at the St. Joseph Riverboat Casino. He wondered if Ashley and I would be there. (We totally were, and they were great!) When I remembered that the message was in my inbox I almost froze on the spot. It was a chance for me to hear my dad's voice again. It was something I thought was gone forever. Which was such a stupid thing to think, really, because videos with him talking in them existed. It wasn't like I would never hear it again. However, the voicemail was a personalized message. It was meant only for me. Except for Ashley, nobody else even knew it existed.
It felt heavy. I always knew it was there. I listened to it so much that I worried my iPhone would automatically delete it because it knew I had heard it already. I had a lot of moments where I would just listen to it alone in the car. I would make up a scenario where we were going to see him that coming weekend. Honestly, I was miserable. That's a weird thing to experience. While the message, his voice, made me happy, it really wasn't helping me grieve. I wasn't dealing with losing my dad, not really. I just never wanted to lose that piece of him that was mine. So, I deleted it.
I'm not making light of it. That little action was as hard as signing his death certificate. I fought myself so hard that I cried for days after. (I realize there is a Deleted Messages folder on iPhone, but I also cleared it from there.) It wasn't healthy to keep that weight hanging around my neck, or in my pocket, so to speak. I had to do it, and even though it hurt to my bones, I knew it was the right call. I started to feel better. Not right away though. It really took some time, but I didn't feel like anything was holding me down. Now it kind of feels bad to think of it that way. What a weird, vicious circle.
Worse yet, I have the same situation with a voicemail from my grandma Blumer. It's from a few months before she died. Again, the message was meant only for me. It's really hard to listen to it because you can hear how much pain she was in at the time. I know I'm going to have to do the same with this message, but I'm going to need more time with it. See, this one hits in an entirely different way. When my dad died, Ashley and I weren't even married yet. I hadn't even proposed (even though he was the first one to know that I was going to). We hadn't bought our house yet. And Opal wasn't even a thought.
With Grandma it was a little different. She was at the wedding. She had an opinion of the neighborhood where we bought our house. She heard directly from Ashley and I that we were expecting. She was excited for us. She was happy about our future. It's hard for me to delete this one because I miss her so much. Not that I didn't miss my dad, but I was closer to him. Heck, I worked right next to him. It's not that I wasn't close with Grandma. I certainly was, but they lived an hour away from home and we didn't make the drive very often. I never lived with her. Most of the memories I have of my grandma always seem so long ago. I suppose that's a true sign of getting older. I want to keep this message. I want to, but I know I shouldn't. Because it only took once listening through it to bring tears to my eyes, and I've kind of been in a funk since then.
Having had my dad and my grandma die in the month of November is hard. Like I said, I don't have much love for this month. However, I want to remember them during this time. So, if you have a story, please share it with us. At least then I'll know I'm not the only one who can recall the sound of their voices.
I'm going to be a father soon. Like, really soon. My wife today is 31 weeks pregnant, and I'm a mess about it. I don't have anything ready. I've gained like 10 lbs since late summer. I'm worried and feeling sick all the time. If I had any hair left to lose it'd be gone. The other fathers in my life (my friends and family) all tell me I'll be alright. I'm sure they know what they're talking about. It just seems like I won't.
So, I'm nervous, sure, but if I'm being really honest, (which apparently I am) what I'm feeling is grief. I miss my dad so much right now. He would know what I'm going through. Not that the other men in my life, especially my step-dad, Steve, don't know what I'm going through. They do, and Steve has been a solid rock for me lately. My dad, though - most of my personality came from him. The things I'm most worried about aren't that the nursery isn't ready, or how the dog going to react to a new baby at home. - WHERE ARE WE GONNA KEEP ALL THE DIAPERS?! - No, the things I'm most worried about are, what if I'm not enough? What can I even teach my little girl? How will I keep her safe? What have I really done with my life? Can we afford this? How can I be sure I'm not screwing this up?
I know you'll probably think, "Psshh, you'll be fine. I had blah blah blah and I turned out alright." True enough. And considering that I also had blah blah blah and I turned out alright, this should be expected. What about a baby born in 2019? I think there are far more opportunities for children and parents now than there were thirty years ago. (Which is really exciting, by the way.) I also think there are far more dangers and I'm terrified. So, I don't know what the next ten years looks like for me... I don't even know what this year looks like for me. I have no expectations. And I think that's what I'm most afraid of.
Remember that grief I mentioned earlier? It isn't just because I'm missing my dad. Here's the thing... I've been pretty selfish most of my adult life. Until I met Ashley, I pretty much did whatever I wanted. I'd buy anything I wanted, even if I couldn't really afford it, eat and drink whatever I wanted, and stayed up or out late because I wanted to. I didn't have anyone else to care for. I didn't care. I know that isn't unusual for a single guy in his twenties. Marriage pretty much ended that for me, and for the better. But if I'm being honest, (which apparently I am) I'm not ready to put away childish things. I want to eat whatever and drink whatever. I want to stay up late on weekdays playing video games. I want to spend $200 on comic books and collectables.
I've been a walking ball of nerves and anger for a few months now, and after a little bit of introspection, I think it's laying heavy on me that I have to give these things up. Sure, you could say that it's not about giving things up, but finding a balance that works in your life. And you'd probably be right. The thing is though, I need to get physically and mentally healthy. Yes, marriage "pretty much" ended these habits, but it didn't stop them completely. I need to put an end to my selfish behavior so I can physically be there for my family; so I can be mentally prepared for my new life.
I guess it's common. It's nothing extraordinary that I'm feeling. I'm going to be a father soon. I'm nervous, scared as hell, and totally committed to being the best that I can be.
Writing Prompt #1
Look, I'm like a little kid when it comes to scientific discoveries in space. I'm fascinated by the science behind observing distant stars and the hunt for exoplanets, as well as the deep physics of the cosmos. So, announcements of discoveries like the detection of gravitational waves, or earth-sized planets orbiting neighboring stars, tend to send my mind racing.
There was a question posed by writer Marc Kaufman, referencing astrophysicist and cosmologist Avi Loeb's theory in an article picked up by NPR. What if Earth is a very early example of a living biosphere?
So, here it is:
What if Earth really was the very first living biosphere? Eons from now, remnants of a former civilization are discovered on some long forgotten dark planet. A planet that at one time could have harbored life and prosperity. That planet isn't Earth, but one of hundreds of settlements for early humans amongst the cosmos. Those who've discovered the ancient ruins do not resemble humans. They are a younger species. More highly evolved and intelligent. What are they like physically? Where is their home planet? How will their discovery reshape the theories about when and where life may have began in the universe? Are there any humans left to be discovered? If so, how well do they know their own history?
I love these types of writings. I think it's mostly because I have to use so much of my imagination. Whatever the reason, I'd love to see what some of you can come up with. I plan to write something myself. We'll just have to see how well I follow through.
I'm a vivid dreamer. I can often remember my dreams, and I absolutely dream in color. I have nightmares regularly. (Ask my wife, who is quite tired of my crap.) But sometimes a dream sparks a writing prompt, or an exercise in thought. This is what I got out of last night:
I imagined finding a way to travel back in time (I know, I know, bear with me). The limit was 10 years, and I would be completely disguised. There could be no return trip because I would dissolve in the past. This wasn't a choice I could make. I was being forced to go, and the only way to keep the moments and memories I've cherished over the last 10 years was to re-live them. Understanding this would give most people reason to hide until they dissolved. Some would choose to manipulate their own timelines, others would neglect their influence, and manipulate others' timelines. I didn't know what I was going to do.
I visited my 20-year-old self, and had some tacos that I served myself. That was a bit strange, because I was beginning to have 2 sets of feelings. One part of me was worried that this kid wouldn't figure it out in time to become me, and the other was concerned that if I didn't do something I would just end up right here in an endless loop. How many times have I done this? Of course all these memories started to flood back to me. There were a lot of things I had forgotten about. The kid who stood in front of me had a good head on his shoulders. He was a bit naive, but he seemed older than I remember feeling at that age.
I noticed that I, he (er, it was confusing) was listening intently to everything I had to say. I kept interjecting things that I thought were insignificant until I mentioned the Royals winning the World Series, to which I/he replied, "not in my lifetime." Then, for some reason the conversation changed. I was asked about deeper ideas; how to save money, whether or not to finish school, marriage, alcoholism and addiction, the big bang theory, and God. It happened so quickly, rapid-fire style, that I forgot why I was there. I only wanted to check in on this young man, and all of a sudden I was telling him about his future.
I wanted to avoid this. I didn't want to tell him anything about who he would become. I found myself longing for the future that would be his. I wanted to see my wife, a person he didn't even know existed. I had an overwhelming sense of sadness for the young man and the loss he will experience over the next decade. He was right around the corner from heartbreak and he didn't even know it. I kept blabbering, telling him to stay on track. I told myself 10 years ago that if I do all the things exactly like I did, I would be happy. At 30, I'd have a great job, a new house, married for almost a year, money in the bank, just in case of an emergency, and no kids yet. So, naturally I screwed it all up.
In the dream I began to dissolve into nothingness. At the same time my consciousness was blended with the young man with whom I had previously conversed. The only problem was that I was not in control. I was merely a spectator, and I was forced to watch as I made all the wrong decisions. Time moved quickly, as it often does in dreams, and as I watched the years draw closer to 30 I was devastated by who I had become.
We were all different at that age. When we were right on the edge of adulthood. I know some were parents by then, and others had even more responsibilities than that. But for me, this dream left a feeling inside me that I can't explain. It isn't regret. I don't regret the choices I've made in my life that have lead me here. I just realize that my life could have been very different if I had done a few, seemingly insignificant things, differently. It isn't a good feeling that I was left with, but it isn't necessarily a bad feeling. You see, I also feel fortunate. Because no matter how much dreaming that young man from my past may have done, he never dreamed he would be here. Right were he always wanted to be.
We shared a room when we were kids.
Jumped bed to bed because the floor was lava.
We made pillow forts and haunted houses when we had bunk beds.
Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles.
Wrestle mania, Brother.
We had robots on border wallpaper around the middle of the room.
Mom used to yell at us to "GO. TO. SLEEP!"
Laughing at stupid jokes and farts.
Remember when we’d throw that old football pillow across the room at each other in the dark?
Remember the owl that nested in the big tree outside our window?
You would get sick sometimes and couldn’t breathe.
That was scary.
So sometime Mom or Dad would sleep in our room with us.
Then, when I was going into 4th grade, you into 3rd, we moved…
We got a bigger room!
Same color yellow.
More room for toys, desks, and whatever.
Your army men we tied to plastic bags and pretended they were parachutes.
They'd float to the ground from our second story window.
Neighborhood kids slept over.
Bill, who never went home.
We got a big stereo for Christmas that one year.
No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, All-4-One, Buckshot LeFonque.
Music filled our souls and every corner of our room.
But the street light was always too bright in our window.
And there was traffic all night.
The sounds and lights of emergency vehicles was scary at first.
But to this day, when I need to find a peaceful place in my head, I think about our room and being curled up on my bed; and gazing at the traffic light down the block.
The last time we shared a room, I was almost in high school, and you had to leave with Mom.
Our room was too big when you were gone.
All the space we made for fun things felt cold and useless.
My bad dreams came more often.
I just wanted things back to normal; when we were kids and our knees had scabs on them.
When night-time wasn’t scary because you were there with me.
I didn’t want my own room even though at one point I might have said I did.
Our house was too empty without our family.
Our room wasn't crowded enough.
We have always been close.
I haven’t had to do anything alone. Ever.
You are my best friend.
I know it wasn’t always perfect.
I know there are things I regret doing or saying.
I can’t take any of it back.
I hope you don’t resent me in any way, because this, better than anything, is what I remember about growing up.
Sharing a room with you.
Apparently this has been a bad year for movies and music. Okay. I'll buy that. But what if I offered some of my favorites of this year so far? Sound good? You got it dude.
I'll start with music. Music is easy for me, because I like everything (except Florida Georgia Line). One of my favorite albums this year is Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth. I really liked Simpson's previous album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, and had been anticipating this release. I was pleasantly surprised when the opening song of this record, "Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)," rolled from a sweet wailing tribute into a swinging alt-county bop. Most of the rest of the album continues in this fashion. Sometimes, while listening, you could swear it was written decades ago. Perhaps it's Simpson's vocals, or the "Free Bird-esque" lap steel solos in songs like, "Sea Stories" and "Brace for Impact." A soulful country cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom" is a nice gem embedded in the middle of the tracklist. Overall I like the album. With the exception of a couple of songs, I feel like it's best listened to as a whole. I absolutely recommend giving this one a listen.
Here are a few other ear worms I've liked this year:
There were plenty of movies that I really liked this year. I have a habit of completely disagreeing with critics. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Ghostbusters. BvS only scored 27% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics, while audiences seemed to like it much better. Ghostbusters had the opposite outcome scoring a 74% with critics, but much lower with audiences. I liked them both, and of course they weren't the only ones I liked, but they stand out because of the social media backlash they received.
<rant>I'm a big-time DC comic fan, but I wouldn't be upset to see DC/Warner Bros. put the brakes on their cinematic universe. It's not that I don't enjoy their movies, because I very much do, but I don't like wading through the sea of negativity surrounding every one of their releases. Besides, they're making exceptional television shows (live action & animated). It would be nice to see them put more focus and money towards those projects, and maybe bring some big characters to the TV universe. I could offer my thoughts on why so many people dislike the DC movies, but that would start a fight, and I already told you I don't like wading through the negativity. I'll suggest this, read more comics if you don't like what you see on screen. You might just come across some source material.</rant>
I'll leave you with a couple of reading materials from this year. The first is a novel by sci-fi writer, Pierce Brown, called Morning Star. It's the final book in his Red Rising trilogy. I can't go into the premise of the series much without giving away the best parts. I'll say this, you will love and hate the main characters at one time or another. You won't likely relate to them much, because of the sci-fi aspect, but you will find yourself on their side. The world building happens rapidly in this series, so try to keep up. You'll follow Darrow through all three books, and learn things about his world at the same time he does. The storytelling is captivating, and the language is intriguing. Overall the series is an easy and fast read. Please don't let that deter you from reading this series. Also, don't let children read this. Teens, okay. Kids, NO! Book 1, Red Rising, will captivate you and leave you wanting more. Book 2, Golden Son, progresses the story, as it should. Book 3... Morning Star is the best final chapter to any series I've ever read.
The second is an ongoing comic series called, Injustice: Gods Among Us. It began in 2013 as a prequel to a well-received video game of the same title. I like the series because it explores the, "what if" side of having super heroes around. What if they decided to take over the world? What if they considered themselves above the law? What if they considered themselves to BE the law? What if Batman thought all that was a bad idea?
The series has had several different runners, artists, and writers. Those are things you can see in the material, but the direction of the story has always seemed to stay the same. At least as far as I can tell. You know, I just remembered that I wrote a post about this series back in September 2013. Yep. I'm still reading it, and I still love it. It's a dark series a lot of the time. I like that. So, if Batman fighting the Justice League is your bag, then you've gotta check this one out. If you hate it you can always blame me. Then come back here and tell me all about it. But I bet you won't hate all of it.
So there you go. A small sample of things I really liked so far this year. I have a confession to make. When I was thinking about music I had a whole bunch of stuff in mind... but it all came out last year. So, maybe there's something to the idea that this year hasn't been great for music. Not to mention the incredible losses the music community has had this year alone. The movies weren't as hard, because honestly, I go into a movie expecting to like it. I'm not going to waste my $10 on something I'm sure I'll hate.
I should really do more of these. I enjoy writing them. Can anybody help me figure out a way to can become a productive writer?
This was a note I took down while Ashley and I were at Jami's grad party. It's a little mushy, but this is how I think when I'm alone with my thought. I wanted to write it down, because this thought was beautiful and genuine.
I’m currently at a college graduation party for a friend the day before Mother’s Day. In fact, the Maid of Honor for my wedding later this year, and I'm looking around at friends and the older siblings of our friends. They have kids here. Kids who think fart jokes and toilet humor are hilarious. It makes me think of my own nieces and nephews, the little turds... I catch the eye of my beautiful fiancée. I can tell she's soaking it in, and the coolest thing hit me. This woman, the love of my life, will be the mother of my children one day. It isn't something I think about often, because I'm not ready to have kids yet. But sometimes when I see her like this in these moments I realize that she is, by far, the greatest thing in my life. I never could have guessed this is where my life would lead. I'm no saint people, but I am blessed by this lovely woman. As things are winding down I find myself wondering if I've made a good enough impression on some of the folks I didn't know at the party. I can tell that it isn't even a thought in her mind. She's a confident type when surround by familiar faces even though she’s normally shy. I love that about her. She's a family gal, and for that I am humbled. The girl I'm silently watching from across the table will be a great mother to my children.
Not Off the Line
My hope for this year was to create as much content as possible. I'm sluggishly building a new website for my blog, I have a homepage built for the upcoming Entry Level Geek Show podcast my uncle Sam and I are doing, I've been making music with my band, The Coterie, and I started doing a podcast of my past blogs. Where I'm lacking is in writing. I have stories floating around inside my noggin and they're screaming at me to let them out.
Sometimes I see writing as a giant obstacle, because I type amazingly slow. You would think, "How does someone who does all their work on the computer type so slow?" And you would be justified in wondering. That fact about me truly does hinder my creativity. I'll be on a roll, and because it takes me so long to get it typed out, I might lose a thought, or I'll see that thought on the page and realize it isn't as cool as it was in my mind. It's for this reason that I have scraps of paper and half-empty notebooks all over my house. I can write it down a lot faster than I can type it, but I never seem to get back to those story ideas. I almost wish I had a personal assistant to type all my things, but the reality is, I should just get better at transposing all of my notes. Ah well, at least I'm thinking about it, right?
The thing that got me thinking about all of this was a story note I forgot about in my Evernote account. I'll post it here:
Story Idea (<-- Now that's a proper title)
In a future that is super compartmentalized. So much so that people only interact through media. There is a movement beginning to emerge from the shadow. It is something so bizarre that leaders and politicians are fighting to stop it. But it comes from something ancient within us. Togetherness.
Nobody wants to be alone. And now there’s a generation that will change the shape of humanity in the future. How will we change? Can the future be what almost every person has dreamed?
Okay, so you can see that the idea wasn't even very good. I'm sure it's one of those idea that I woke up with from a dream, and used my phone to record the thought. Because, you know, I can text faster than I can type. (Also a fact. It's sad. So sad.) However, because of this note, I started to remember the details of the idea I had for this story. It just took a few lines for my brain to kick in and think, "yeah, I remember this." It's kinda like that scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where Dumbledore is pulling the memories from his mind and placing them in the pensieve. That's how my brain works. A little reminder, and BAM! – back to story drafting mode.
So, at least I have my ideas written down. I'll get something started. It's far too worth it for me to keep writing. Maybe once my website is built I'll post some stories I have finished there. Who knows. It may be a little while before I'm finished with that project too.
I discovered reading and writing for fun when I was in the 4th grade and I haven't been able to stop. I discovered my musical talent when I was 12 and started a band with my brother and my best friends. I have been on a journey of discovery that has shaped and molded my tastes for music, reading, writing, art, food and extracurricular activities since I was a high school freshman. And I'm not quite finished, so come along.