Sibling Day Part One – 20 to 40 Gratitudes part 7

Sunday was Sibling Day. I figured I would play catch-up by showing my appreciation for my brother and my sister. There's a lot I could say about my brother, how he helps my not burn my house down with electrical advice, how he gave me a car when mine died, how he destroyed a crib board to avenge the untimely death of my first copy of A Game of Thrones. But I won't embarrass him by enumerating his many virtues. Instead, I'll share something I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

When we were kids, my impossibly older and cooler brother and I used to practically live on our bikes. Everyone in our neighbourhood did, from the creep who moved in down the street and used to pester my sister to the head banger across the street who sang ina band and ended up hitting me with his car. There wasn’t really much else to do and mom promoted the bicycle way of life because it got us out of the house and out of her hair.

Maybe Sean and I were a rarity, or maybe everyone’s dad had short pieces of lumber and small pieces of plywood hanging around. I don’t know. All I know is Sean sure knew how to build a kick-ass ramp. Hour after hour, in the early-80s-polaroid Instagram filter of my youth, we’d launch ourselves, trying to catch the most air. Trying to settle on if it was better to land on both tires at once or the back tire first. It was clear that landing on the front tire first was for amateurs. And we got good at it. No, we weren’t pining for the X-Games or whatever came before the X-Games because I don’t think they existed back then. And there was no sibling politics, no rivalry. Back then, that was one of the few activities where Sean and I actually got along, because it was just the bike and the ramp, and landing both tires at the same time.

Planting my Flag – 20 to 40 Part 6

[Note: It is well-known that the death of consistency on a blog challenge is the first weekend. I have known this before. I remember knowing this before. But I struggle with it every single time. --L]

I’ve known for a long time that I tend toward fantasy and away from science fiction when it comes to books. From the time I opened The Magician’s Nephew for the first time, I was hooked. But I never had a proper way to articulate my allegiance until I read The Eye of the World in high school.

Until Robert Jordan, fantasy had all kind of fallen into some pretty familiar patterns for me. And I guess The Eye of the World used a lot of the same things, but it did so while maintaining a tension that raised the stakes to a level I’d never read before. I cared about the characters, so much so that I sped through the pages, almost feeling it was unbearable to leave them suspended in so much danger in between reading bouts. In Rand, Mat, and Perrin, I found friends who were goofy in the same way that I was, who thought about things the same way I did, and who felt so real that their struggles were my struggles and their victories, to a certain extent, were mine.

I miss young Rand when it comes to reading later books, like A Crown of Swords and A Path of Daggers, because he’s changed from the wide-eyed youngster that left Emond’s Field in the dead of night. But that happens with friends from high school, too, sometimes. You lose contact, things happen, and next time you see them, it’s like you never knew them at all. Fortunately, with all his changes, Rand never stops being a character you can root for, if only because you can see into his head, and just often enough, you can see glimpses of that shy kid peeking through. And there’s always the shadow of his fate looming over his head.

The Wheel of Time gave me a real chance to plant my fandom flag, to say, “This is what I like. More of this, please.” It gave me a favourite, book, and characters to soak up my teen angst. So thank you, Robert Jordan.

The Monkey – 20 to 40 Gratitudes Part 4

I tend away from the overly dramatic. I'm not a big fan of overstatement. And I'd rather try and convince you with facts than with hyperbole or rhetoric. So I won't say that Olivia saved my life, but it doesn't feel like too much of an exaggeration.

No, she didn't pull me from a burning building, and she didn't sit me down and have a talk with me about the dangers of drugs and the power of addiction. What she did is give me something to hold on to when I was at my lowest, my darkest.

Spring 2009 was not a kind time to me. I've been through this before: I lost my mom, my job, my job, and any sense of purpose. I was cast adrift with no prospect that anything was going to get better. Fuck it, I was depressed. I slumped and stumped through my days, listlessly putting in applications, trying to find something, and nothing was coming up.

Between a part-time job doing some Ruby programming and Olivia's birth, something finally came unstuck and I was able to move on.

Everything is exciting to Ollie. She has a hard time controlling her volume, she gets so excited, and that can be a handful, but her exuberance is something I treasure. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't laugh out loud about something she's said or done that day.

As the final piece of our family, I didn't know what to expect from Olivia when she came, but she brightens my day, makes me laugh, and loves out loud. How can I not be grateful for that?

Panicked Room

I had no ideas when I sat down at the computer tonight. I wanted to write something quick. I finally settled on something like a mystery. Obviously, this wants to be expanded into something bigger, maybe a conspiracy or something, but I think I'm pretty happy leaving it where it is. It could be polished up, edited, if that word makes you feel better about the process, but I'm not married to the story at all. It's more of an exercise than anything else.

I'd appreciate feedback,

L


Consciousness came to him, crashing over him like a wave of frigid water. It left behind the gifts of a blinding light and a dull ache behind his right eye. The walls around him were bright white, the same as the ceiling, and he was having a hard time telling just how far away they were.

With a groan, he rolled to his side. Focusing was its own special hell, but it was a focus of the involuntary sort, like when something startles you and suddenly it’s all you can think about. The woman lying, faced away from him, did startle him. She was clothed. He was not, he noticed all of a sudden, and his attention to the girl broke apart.

As he spun his head around, looking for something to wear, it occurred to him that he might be under observation. He could not remember the night before, assuming it was morning -- Why did people do that, anyway, assume that when they woke up it was morning? Habit, surely.

Behind him, out of reach, but not by far, were a pair of pants and a shirt. He struggled over to them, groaning at every lurching movement he had to make. Something was out in his back -- not a rare condition for him, but one that he steadfastly tried to avoid. He made it over to the clothes and struggled into them. No underwear. But he’d gone commando before. He’d done a lot of ill-advised stuff before. Obviously. You didn’t end up in a blinding white room with some girl, short any clothing, by watching the news and turning in early.

Dressed, he finally felt confident enough to go wake up the girl. He didn’t remember agreeing to anything like this, and he was sure that if he were asleep in a place like this, he’d want the only other person in the room to wake him up before they go-go. Maybe when there was only one left, the probes came out.

Shuddering, he crossed the room. It was a little easier now. Maybe the vertebra hadn’t slipped and it was just stiffness. He wasn’t young anymore, though he’d fight the label of "old" for a couple more years. He bent over and touched the girl on the shoulder. Nothing. He shook her. Nothing again. They really had done a number on her. He rolled her over to face him, and froze. Her eyes were wide open.

Dead. She’s dead.

There was no other way she could be lying like this, right? He racked his brain, but nothing came to mind. Not anything he’d googled or wikipedia’d. There was nothing like that.

SLAM

Was it a door slamming? Or was it the large clack of power being cut? He didn’t know, and he didn’t care. He couldn’t remember signing up for anything like this. He hadn’t signed up for it. Simple as that. If someone were coming, slamming doors, or worse, shutting off the lights as they approached, it was time to get the fuck out of here.

But not by himself.

Bending over, he grabbed the girl. Despite the sharp pain in his back, she was not heavy. In fact, she might be a child. He hadn’t paid much attention to anything other than the fact she was dead, but the more he thought about it, maybe twelve, maybe thirteen.

SLAM

He hunted for something that looked like a door. Frantic minutes. He eventually had set down the girl and run his hands over the walls, trying to find something different. Finally, he found it. A slightly raised panel in the wall. He should have seen it before, it was just the

SLAM

panic in him that had kept him from seeing it. He tried prying at it with his fingers, but they were too thick to do the job. So he looked around the room for something. He started in his pockets. Then he gingerly searched the girl. Nothing. Finally, he scoured the floor, and found a slender metal strip that would have been lying under the girl. He grabbed it, and as he ran toward the door, two more slams echoed through the ... what? The room? The building? All he knew was he had to get out of this room. He shoved the piece of metal into the crease of the door and pried. The door opened inward. Sighing in relief, he turned back to grab the girl and left the room, her inert body draped over his shoulder like a sack.

SLAM

Panicked Room

I had no ideas when I sat down at the computer tonight. I wanted to write something quick. I finally settled on something like a mystery. Obviously, this wants to be expanded into something bigger, maybe a conspiracy or something, but I think I'm pretty happy leaving it where it is. It could be polished up, edited, if that word makes you feel better about the process, but I'm not married to the story at all. It's more of an exercise than anything else.

I'd appreciate feedback,

L


Consciousness came to him, crashing over him like a wave of frigid water. It left behind the gifts of a blinding light and a dull ache behind his right eye. The walls around him were bright white, the same as the ceiling, and he was having a hard time telling just how far away they were.

With a groan, he rolled to his side. Focusing was its own special hell, but it was a focus of the involuntary sort, like when something startles you and suddenly it’s all you can think about. The woman lying, faced away from him, did startle him. She was clothed. He was not, he noticed all of a sudden, and his attention to the girl broke apart.

As he spun his head around, looking for something to wear, it occurred to him that he might be under observation. He could not remember the night before, assuming it was morning -- Why did people do that, anyway, assume that when they woke up it was morning? Habit, surely.

Behind him, out of reach, but not by far, were a pair of pants and a shirt. He struggled over to them, groaning at every lurching movement he had to make. Something was out in his back -- not a rare condition for him, but one that he steadfastly tried to avoid. He made it over to the clothes and struggled into them. No underwear. But he’d gone commando before. He’d done a lot of ill-advised stuff before. Obviously. You didn’t end up in a blinding white room with some girl, short any clothing, by watching the news and turning in early.

Dressed, he finally felt confident enough to go wake up the girl. He didn’t remember agreeing to anything like this, and he was sure that if he were asleep in a place like this, he’d want the only other person in the room to wake him up before they go-go. Maybe when there was only one left, the probes came out.

Shuddering, he crossed the room. It was a little easier now. Maybe the vertebra hadn’t slipped and it was just stiffness. He wasn’t young anymore, though he’d fight the label of "old" for a couple more years. He bent over and touched the girl on the shoulder. Nothing. He shook her. Nothing again. They really had done a number on her. He rolled her over to face him, and froze. Her eyes were wide open.

Dead. She’s dead.

There was no other way she could be lying like this, right? He racked his brain, but nothing came to mind. Not anything he’d googled or wikipedia’d. There was nothing like that.

SLAM

Was it a door slamming? Or was it the large clack of power being cut? He didn’t know, and he didn’t care. He couldn’t remember signing up for anything like this. He hadn’t signed up for it. Simple as that. If someone were coming, slamming doors, or worse, shutting off the lights as they approached, it was time to get the fuck out of here.

But not by himself.

Bending over, he grabbed the girl. Despite the sharp pain in his back, she was not heavy. In fact, she might be a child. He hadn’t paid much attention to anything other than the fact she was dead, but the more he thought about it, maybe twelve, maybe thirteen.

SLAM

He hunted for something that looked like a door. Frantic minutes. He eventually had set down the girl and run his hands over the walls, trying to find something different. Finally, he found it. A slightly raised panel in the wall. He should have seen it before, it was just the

SLAM

panic in him that had kept him from seeing it. He tried prying at it with his fingers, but they were too thick to do the job. So he looked around the room for something. He started in his pockets. Then he gingerly searched the girl. Nothing. Finally, he scoured the floor, and found a slender metal strip that would have been lying under the girl. He grabbed it, and as he ran toward the door, two more slams echoed through the ... what? The room? The building? All he knew was he had to get out of this room. He shoved the piece of metal into the crease of the door and pried. The door opened inward. Sighing in relief, he turned back to grab the girl and left the room, her inert body draped over his shoulder like a sack.

SLAM

The Boy – 20 to 40 Gratitudes Part 2

Helping to raise Nick helped me to understand how little I know about anything. I have a hard time remembering what life was like before Nick, my attitudes and my opinions about parenting. I mean, I suspect I was pretty low-key. I don't usually have a lot of opinions about things I don't know anything about. But if I did have some arrogance or something about how I would do things differently, consider that squashed. I knew nothing.

I still have a lot to learn about parenting, but I'm getting a little better at understanding what it is that I don't know yet. I credit Nick with taking the brunt of my ignorance. He's managed pretty well despite numerous fights about food, about homework, about lots of stuff. And he's figured so many things out recently, about growing up. And it feels like it's happening too fast. Applying for jobs, being all tall and all, just doing teenagery things.

There's a lot to appreciate about a son like Nick, so I'll throw some out there and hope I don't miss any glaring ones (though I probably will. I'm really old too, now).

I appreciate Nick's sense of humour. He likes and appreciates a good pun and appropriately cringes at a bad one. It makes my day when I hear him cracking the same kind of joke that I would.

Nick has a good work ethic. I first noticed it when we were pulling the shingles off the roof of the shed that would eventually become (and still will eventually become) the chicken coop. But I've seen it since then. And it is amazing to watch.

I'm so excited to see what Nick ends up doing with his life. He has a lot of tools in place and he has a sincere desire to do good in the world. I appreciate having that to look forward to all over again, now that I'm rigidly entrenched in my own career -- a career that I enjoy and that I appreciate, but something that does not always offer much in the way of excitement or surprise.

So, for the second time in as many days, I have to thank Kim. Without her, I would never have met this funny, sincere, dynamic kid, and my life would have been the poorer for it.

Gratitudes – 20 to 40

In 20 days, I'll be turning 40. There's a lot that has happened in my life to get me to this point, a whole pile of which I had nothing to do with, other than to be the beneficiary of their providence. So, since I like to try blog challenges, and because I haven't had a lot to say here lately, I'm going to try to fill the next 20 days with a gratitude a day.

And when it's done, I'll be one year older, and hopefully a couple points wiser.

Christian Mom

This piece of performance art crossed my Facebook feed this evening and kinda piqued my ire.

Have you ever noticed that the people with the least certainty are generally those with views that are repugnant? The ones who will casually say something so insensitive and seemingly so wrong-headed, but filled with such certainty and conviction that you have to wonder who's been feeding them insider information. And they are almost ecstatic in delivering diatribes so hateful, so hurtful, and so dismissive of any lifestyle, point of view, or anything that doesn't fall into their definition of acceptable.
Personally, I spend more than my fair share of time with my mouth shut and my mind open. There are so many holes in my game that I have a really hard time judging anyone. But willful ignorance, arrogance, ostracism, and judgment from on high incense me.
Just because you live a life that has gotten you where you are and the things you have doesn't mean it's the only, or even the best, way forward for everyone. Your complete lack of perspective does you no credit and your lack of empathy for those with a more difficult road, choosing to lecture with a wagging finger instead of offering help with an open hand, makes you a child in my eyes. Open your heart and grow up.

World Poetry Day, 2016

I fight upon this field of words
My sword a fountain pen
My shield a sheaf of empty pages
Drawing ink from my enemies' veins

The battle for the right words is no lie
When any mischosen wither and die
I will leave my mark or expire with a sigh
After having gone to such pains
After having gone to such pains

I will write about beauty, and truth, hope, and love
Humanity's brightest spark.
And I'll write treachery, jealousy... love
And powers increasingly dark

And when I have finished, the words must be right
Pencil marks erased, and now out of sight
Any remaining, a painful blight
The difference is ever so stark
The difference is ever so stark

A word or two on world poetry day
A chance to take the time
To talk all around the things I want to say
A chance to answer the chime

Amateur! Hack! My self-doubt implores
Everything else inside me ignores
I'm not into poems, but something adores
Rhythm and clever rhyme
Rhythm and clever rhyme

Shaking my Sandwich-Filled Fist at the Sky

I'm getting older. I get it. Time marches on, and the fourth decade of life beckons me. I feel right around 40. None of this feeling like a teenager (or a 60-year-old) for me. And I accept it.

One thing I wasn't expecting from getting older is something that I have to come to terms with.

They say that older people are set in their ways. That they're irascible and unmovable on items where it feels like the world has passed them by.

We've seen a lot of change, with big pushes in the areas of racial equity, sexual equity, same-sex marriage, and progressive issues that probably seem incomprehensible to a lot of people older than a certain age. Time passes, and they find themselves holding an opinion that seems sensible to them, but that it seems is barbaric or archaic to society at large.

I'm not saying that progressive movements are passing me by. I try to be an ally, I try to understand why refraining from saying some things is important. I like to think I have a very open mind.

Obviously, I have a but here. Obviously. Why would I write this post otherwise?

I completely understand that I am on the wrong side of history here. The world is passing me by, and any day now, I'm going to be a social pariah because of the snowball-effect of my incomprehension.

Here's where I put my old-man pants on:

Why the hell is it against the law to eat while you drive?

There it is. I don't get it. Or rather, I don't get why it's illegal to eat while you drive, when it isn't illegal to drink (obviously non-alcoholic beverages) while you drive. Both involve shoving something toward your face, and I would argue that a travel mug obstructs your vision and probably presents a greater hazard while driving than a cookie.

I get that distracted driving is dangerous. I get that, probably, the only safe way to drive is with a plexi-glass partition that blocks out all sound, and with a hypodermic needle filled with focus-in tapped directly into your cerebral cortex. I get it and I understand that, and why, to a certain extent, limiting dangerous distractions is the big push right now. But I don't understand the difference between eating a sandwich and drinking a bottle of pop. Or changing the radio.

I'm not complaining because I got a ticket (I didn't) and I'm not going to rail against the man with any conspiracy theories on the uproar that would be caused if people couldn't pour coffee down their throats in the morning (yet) but I wanted you all to understand this: I think not being able to eat while you drive is stupid and I think they should change it.

I'm old and I don't understand.