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.

I have no Idea what I am doing

I am apparently the owner of a website (that, uh… that I guess you are reading right now) – and I have no idea what I’m doing with it. I am a father since about 5 months ago (the adorable product is found here) – and I have no idea what I’m doing there, either. I have an entry level job (at a super-serious financial company that would love to make me wear a tie every day but I am actually a teenager trapped in the adult world so screw them!) – and they keep telling me to do the thing with the widget, but really I don’t know what I’m doing. I am a husband (as of roughly 4.5 years ago) – and I really don’t know what I’m doing there – I just show up every day and talk to this lady and I guess things are working out? Probably more to it than that.

So yeah. I have some pretty important things that I really don’t know why anyone would let me even act like I am properly trained to deal with them.

But.

But I know a bit about a few things: Chainmail (there are pictures of it on my photography page). Role Playing Games (which I really have no time for, considering the whole ‘husband’ thing, and the whole ‘father’ thing). People (which motivated the pursuit of my Psychology degree). Podcasting (which has a really big time-hurdle to overcome) and a handful of other things.

But.

But story is a thing that I have really taken an interest in. And I think I’ve always had this interest. Since I was very young. I loved books. I loved movies. I loved video games – and especially the video games that had really good story behind them. I would just sit and read all the little bits of the story that were scattered around whatever world I was exploring.

When I grew up and was dating, my girlfriend (now wife) and I had to figure out an issue that I was bringing to the table – that I had these stories saved up (which is good and useful), almost like files in a drawer, that I would repeat to anyone who would listen (which is bad, and drives people away). Considering she was my girlfriend, I had almost a captive audience and would just ramble on about whatever I was thinking about. Sometimes I would repeat my stories (which is worse). Sometimes I would repeat them on the same day (which is much worse). Sometimes I would repeat them verbatim, to the same person, in the same conversation (which is one of those things where I don’t even know why people in general put up with me). It really is a wonder that she kept dating me (seems like I’ve gotten the better end of the deal, honestly).

So there is this thing about storytelling. I’ve been thinking about it for a little while, and I think it holds up.

Storytelling is the oldest technology that we have. It predates the wheel – we were telling each other stories around the cook fire before the wheel rolled around. I’m pretty sure it even predates fire – can you imagine that story? The one where some otherwise uninteresting chick in the tribe comes back from an unexplained extended absence with a bit of fire under control on a stick and relates how she stole the secret of “taming the demon of light and heat” from some naive love-sick young man in the tribe 3 rivers over?

The ability to tell stories is also one of the few things that is universal to humans. Everyone does it. You cannot find a single person on the planet who is incapable of telling a story. Even if they say “oh I’m not a good storyteller,” they are lying. You just have to ask them about their day. About the best day that they’ve ever had. Or ever could have. Or how they met their girlfriend. Or where they got that scar. Or what they would do if they had a million dollars. Or what they would do if they could do one thing consequence-free.

Little kids are encouraged from the moment they can string a sentence together to tell people about their day – no adult is going to think they did anything notable that day (at least, not in the “capital -N-” notable way of saying), but here we are, training every little diaper-clad chaos engine to tell people about what has happened. And we make believe with them. From a very young age, we teach little kids that pretending to be someone else is a super cool thing to do. We’ve recently seen a social change that gives license to adults to pretend they are someone they’re not (comic-book movies, cosplaying, etc.), and then platforms on which to do it (facebook, twitter, tinder, etc.).

I forget entirely where I was going with this, but it’s been something that’s been in the back of my head for a good long while – it’s part of the reason my website has the word “story” in it in the first place.

I want to tell stories. I want to tell them with passion and I want to tell them to people who want to listen. I want to tell people stories that will leave them changed on a level so deep that they have to chew on a new truth for a month before they come back for another. I want the world to stop being okay with the same bullshit story every evening hour on the news, and to stop giving money to the people that will tell you the story you want to hear.

I want to empower others to tell the story of their own. I know people who are living a dream – and are left unsatisfied by it. I know people who have been kidnapped – and escaped by the good grace of a stranger. I know people who dropped out of college because something else was worth more – and they plan to go back. I know people who narrowly escaped death in the form of a flaming car wreck – and talk about it the way I would talk about a shitty concert I went to a long time ago. I know people who have gotten lost in thought just thinking about a leaf they hold in their hands. I know people with mental disorders that don’t have a name – but do have distinct symptoms that I’ve never seen elsewhere. I know people who take no joy in thinking of their abuser’s unfortunate circumstance – and I know people who revel in seeing them fall.

Each of these people have a story. I want them to tell it, and I want this website to be the very beginning of figuring out how to let them.

A week

A lot can happen in a week.

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

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

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

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

I am going to keep writing posts.

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….

 

Juggling

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

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

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

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

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

status of stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lily Story, Chapter 3 – Immediate Reactions

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

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

[su_spoiler title=”Rant” style=”simple”]Yes. I used a plural self-referential word. WE were pregnant. I understand that some people don’t have the father around, but Amanda and I are very much involved in one another’s lives. We are very closely connected. We are biologically connected – we make food for each other according to our tastes and are involved with each other’s medical care. There is good evidence  to say that our minds are linked, in a metaphysical manner. Nothing magical or anything, it’s just that: we are connected. Yes, she is literally carrying the child. I am literally the only one allowed to clean the bathroom with harsh cleaners now. She has to “eat for 2”. I have to stay at work even though everything in me wants to go home and build something for Lily. She gets nauseous. I get her whatever she needs when she can no longer walk around that day. She goes to her doctor, I make midnight runs to the store for frozen pizza without peppers.

If you have ever thought, said or felt anything along the lines of

“I am so pregnant. My [boyfriend/husband/friend/parent/etc] should [go to the store/cook/lift that thing/etc.] for me because pregnancy makes things hard.”

Then you are openly admitting that other people are involved in your pregnancy – it actively involves them and affects them. They are carrying a portion of your burden. They are likely even biologically connected to your child in some way, considering that biology does not stop at the borders of your body.

To say that Amanda and I are were not collectively growing Lily is to completely discount my role in her formation – right down to the source of the nutrients that build her body – meaning I literally worked in order to buy food that goes directly to building Lily’s physical form. Amanda couldn’t have started it without my DNA, and she didn’t do it without my help – whether or not she could have.

I am all for women being highly respected for being the ones that grow babies, as well as many other qualities that men either cannot or do not display. I am not all for discounting the role of other people in their lives, and one’s partner while one is pregnant plays a very important role.

So don’t ever criticize anyone for saying “We are pregnant”, because they are.[/su_spoiler]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 2: The News

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, I used that last pregnancy test…”

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

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

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

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

After that, my brain got all fuzzy.