Unrealistic Expectations…

I’m kind of bad at this whole blogging thing, but that isn’t really a surprise to me. I’ve been trying to do this for what feels like a couple of decades now*, and have never been able to keep it up consistently. I write as a hobby, still, but a lot of what I’ve been working on has been related to side projects, like the D&D game that I run or the games me and a buddy have been trying to get around to making since we met.

Lately, though, the bigger problem in trying to write has been stress and frustration around trying to find a home. I.e., trying, and thus far failing, to buy a home.  By itself, that would be frustrating enough, but the issue has been that the place we are currently renting is also up for sale.

So we get to deal with the constant disruption of people wanting to come look at it (as an aside, who buys half a duplex), and realtors who are very deserving of a punch to the face when being unreasonable about time. Seriously, who asks to look at an occupied house at 8 PM, and when told no because there are young kids in the house ask if 9 PM would be better. That person is either deaf or idiotic, and deserving of the tempers lost on the call (normally I cool off, but that was days ago and it still annoys me).

I’ll admit that part of this is self inflicted. We’re trying to stay in the same elementary school, so that’s a geographic limitation. We’re obviously set on a price budget, and not willing to go above it (though the budget at this point would cover a majority of houses in our area… but there’s a problem here where people are buying, remodeling, and flipping houses that are both ruining them and pushing them out of our price range). It’s a good school, and we’re looking at a decade of having kids in it, so something worthwhile to keep pushing at.

Yet we seem to have a bit of a glut of some unrealistic sellers as well. We offered on a house that was clearly overpriced, based on the location and what it was, as well as compared to other houses in the same area that had sold recently. We made an initial offer that was low with the intent of negotiating upwards… you know, like you do, and got back “if the offer isn’t at the listing price the seller won’t consider it.” Despite having on there as a “motivated seller, bring all offers.”

Not motivated enough, I guess. The problem here is that the house isn’t just overprice, but it wouldn’t be able to get an assessment at that point either. Which means no one would be able to get a loan in order to purchase it, because a bank isn’t going to give extra money without the house to back it up. My guess is that the seller put some money into updates or repairs, and is under the unrealistic expectation that every dollar in puts a dollar on the value (which is dumb even for upgrades, but especially for repairs).

So we’re back to looking… and waiting and hoping for something to pop up. At the same time, we have a sword hanging over our heads, because if our current place sells, we’re going to have to move and find a new place to rent in the district. There are some, but we’re signing on to a lease that way which means we put our house buying on hold when that happens.

I’m actually not the type to get overly stressed. I mean, everyone does get stressed out, but I try to only focus on things I can control and not as much on the things I can’t. It doesn’t always work, but here, it’s not just focusing on the things I can’t. We feel unwelcome in our own home, could end up forced out, and suddenly may need to scramble and move once or even twice in the next year. It’s hard to get any relaxation or settling when you could end up having to grab all of your belongings, and a cat, and kill a couple of hours. We haven’t been able to have dinner at home several times as well, and all of these things are just piling up.

Maybe our expectations are unrealistic, but looking at what houses are selling for I’m not certain that’s the case. Here’s hoping we find a great house, or the seller that’s being an idiot realizes they’re going to be sitting on an empty house for some time unless they pull their head out of their ass. Or, you know, I get the fun of finding a rental and moving again.

Ugh.

*Actually almost exactly two decades… my first “blog” was before there were even blogs. As a sophomore in college, I created “Digital Whispers Art Gallery” to showcase 3D renderings and artwork I was doing. I just made up the name one night when my roommates and I were trying to set up a LAN for our desktops, and had to name my computer. The first thing that popped into my head was “Whisper”… no idea why, really, and then it just sort of stuck. I put the digital in front of the name because that’s what we did in the 90s, and digitalwhispers became my online persona, which was eventually shortened to dwhisper. And thus, the name of this site.

Out with 2017 and in with 2018

To answer a question for my Aunt Susan… yes, I’m still writing. This has just been a hectic year between the baby and work and life in general, so I’ve been bad about blogging. This was a weird year, to be sure. On a personal level, for me and my family it was pretty awesome. We welcomed a new member, Shane, into the mix. Chrissy started kindergarten. We bought a new car, I switched accounts at work (that demanded a lot of overtime recently). I purchased a Nintendo Switch and have more-or-less stopped collecting LEGO, have been working more on side project and learning. On that personal level, it has been a damn good year.

Of course, the greater world at large is a rolling dumpster fire that’s perched on top of a bigger dumpster fire, and all of the juices were elected to high office last year. Look, I honestly don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, just be a good person and treat others with respect and the way you would like to be treated. If you can’t do that, you should not be a person who is listened to or respected in the slightest. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that, and we have people at the top who only care about themselves and are wholesale looting the country and robbing the future (and present). The worst part is so many people support them despite overwhelming evidence that they are being lied to.

But, I don’t want this to be a political post so I’m going to put most of that in the background. It’s going to be a much more selfish post than that, and talking about my family and me, and what’s been going on in the past year.

The Obvious Big Change

So, clearly, there was one event that has sort of dominated the year. His name is Shane Alexander, and he was a little surprise we learned about late last year (though one both wanted and planned for). For those who are curious about the name… we just liked it. It’s not a family name (that we are aware of) or a friend or anything. It just sounded good and it fit him from the moment we laid eyes on him. He’s quite the little drooling cuddle-bug, and has smiles that are simply infectious.

Growing Up

I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but somehow we also gained a Kindergartner this year. She loves learning, and just loves to go over the things she learned (even though she always answers the “what did you learn today” question with “nothing”). She also really loves being a big sister, and has been sharing her new reading skills by reading to her brother nearly every night at bedtime.

Out With the Old

I mentioned it above… but this was a year that brought about a pretty big change for me, at least on the hobby side of things. It was the point where I think I hit the breaking point with LEGO as a company and a product. I have hundreds (if not more) sets that aren’t on display, tons of parts I don’t have time (or really motivation) to use… and as a company they’ve been getting considerably less consumer friendly lately. The prices of sets have been steadily going up, while part counts have been going down in weird ways. More than that, they seem to be in a really big creative rut that made for boring stuff.

Past that, the site I write for, FBTB.net, has seen a similar change, as both the owner and myself have been following similar tracks by strange coincidence. It was coming a long time for me… kids take up a lot of time and I’d gladly spend it with them over a toy. The cost had been getting to me for awhile, which was reflected in reviews for some time. Same with the creativity issue. There were also, honestly, some things about working on a fan site and dealing with LEGO that took off a lot of the shine. It got tiring to be one of the oldest and still frequented sites, but more or less ignored by the company. Other places got support from the company, received updates, etc, and we were frequently left out. More than that, LEGO has been making it very hard to be an adult fan lately, doing strange things with supplies and vastly raising the prices on AFOL-focused sets.

What I Want out of 2018

That isn’t to say that I’ve given up all my fun stuff. I’m still playing Role Playing Games, video games, painting miniatures, and enjoying time with my wife and kids. I’ve been trying to write more, but mostly around the background and fluff for my D&D campaign. There’s an underlying motive related to a couple of personal projects that I’m working on and will hopefully share later, but mostly it’s been an outlet.

For the world part… I just keep hoping that we’ll break out of this strange fever dream where hate and intolerance not only became acceptable but celebrated. We’d been making some painful progress in recent years towards just treating everyone better, and it feels like that has ground to a halt. I want my kids to grow up to be better than me, and I want them to have a world better than I did. That isn’t to say that I had it bad (though I’ve written enough about it)… just that I believe you should always leave a place better than you found it.

And, of course, a new season of MST3K coming up!

Adult Nerds Playing Dungeons and Dragons

One of the things that I’ve picked up in recent years is my old hobby of playing Dungeons and Dragons. It was something I enjoyed playing back when I was much younger, despite being told not to by my parents. I’m sure I was at real risk of being turned into a demon or something like that (despite the whole satanic panic being complete and utter nonsense), since I was playing with friends who came from more religious families than my own, but somehow I ended up okay. I was also forbidden from watching The Smurfs and Alf, so take the whole of that as you will.

Player's Hand Book
Wizards of the Coast really knocked it out of the park with the 5th Edition books. If you’re honestly curious, this is the best place to start, and I really suggest picking up the book

I disobeyed, naturally, my best friends in high school played it and we had all sorts of fun enjoying the game. D&D helped feed my creative side, it got me interested in writing (which was a feat, given that my two worst subjects were Spelling and English), and it helped tapped into my love of art and design. It’s an odd sort of full circle, really… playing D&D got me into writing, and eventually, when I came back to it as an adult it was mostly because I needed an outlet for my writing.

It was when I was back in Arkansas playing with a couple of coworkers and their friends/family. It was really the first “adult” campaign that I’d ever been part of. I think I played one game after college with a coworker… a Planescape adventure where I got to continue my habit of torturing DMs with unorthodox decisions when I used a body of a downed ally as a club after my weapons were taken.

What, I’m not exactly known for my straight-forward way of thinking. There’s a reason that I’m usually the dungeon master. Though, to be fair, in that game in Arkansas, I was a player, and I’m pretty sure that the DM will back me up on being unorthodox as well as a touch overpowered with my crazy bard that picked skills that made sense to the character and were somehow strangely applicable to the adventure.

For just under a year now, I’ve been running a game of 5th Edition with a coworker and a mixture of our friends to varying success (being an adult is hard, sometimes). It’s a world that I’ve been working on in some form since… I guess about twenty years at this point, and weaves through my art, stories, and just general writing. I’d actually started pulling it together for that Arkansas group, when I ran the last couple of sessions before moving.

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The trick is to make up my own and modify the monsters for Panterl.

I’ve got a whole bunch of scattered information scattered around, but part of the world and ideas are available on a website that’s just a wiki page right now, and will eventually be replaced when I magically find the time to build a website. If only I knew someone who did something like that for a living. You can go look at Panterl.com if you want to see a lot of red links and a bit of background information, though I’ll be honest. Most of it is just an excuse at making up funny sounding words.

Playing a game like this is vastly different as an adult than it was as a teenager, and, in a lot of ways, it’s a lot more fun. It’s not just that beer is usually involved, it’s that we as players are just more complex. It could be that all the years of bitterness that build up being an adult. Anyone that played as a teenager probably has a handful of embarassing stories they can tell about their games, but not until you get them good and drunk.

I’ve found that adult characters just get more complex… we’re not always looking for the hack and slash or the loot or the lovely lad or lady (though, all of those things can be fun).

The interesting thing we’re doing with this game, however, is that we are recording it. It started out as a simple thing using a tabletop recorder, but we’ve gotten a bit fancier in the past few sessions. Microphones for each cast member, a multi-channel recorder, headphones, and this past session, I started to play around with using a soundtrack mixer to add ambience (it… needs some work).

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I think Chad takes the pictures so he doesn’t have to be in them

We’ve been slowly building up our AV supply, which is a pretty weird place for me. I’ve never been all that into audio systems or the like, past a decent pair of headphones, so this has all been a learning experience for me. It’s also, in some ways, forcing me to be a better Dungeon Master in running the games. I’m not sure I succeed all of the time, but I have to think more about the descriptions that I use for things, pushing the players to interact more, and be very specific with things like directions.

I’m not about to turn this into anything other than a fun hobby and side project… podcasting won’t be a new career anytime soon, but it has been a fun little adventure in gaming as an adult. In the future, once we get it all mixed, edited, and actually posted, I’ll probably start sharing it here.

Goodbye Last Year, Hello New Year

I joke about 2016 and all of the celebrity deaths, while knowing full well that there were likely no more and no fewer deaths this year than any other. It just stung a bit more this year, with Bowie, Prince, Rickman, Fisher, Vigoda, and so many more leaving us. A bunch of them weren’t a surprise, even when any death is sad, some certainly aren’t all that shocking. Some of them certainly were, since I was pretty sure Bowie would outlive us all.

This certainly was a year of some pretty awful things. It should be clear exactly how I feel about the upcoming change in administration, but I’m not going to go into that here. I we almost all will learn to regret it over the next few years, since the people it will hurt disproportionately are the same ones that brought about the change. At the same time, I have little interest in crying and wailing over the thing… that won’t change the reality of it.

I live my life with a few basic ideals, and one of them is that regret serves little purpose. Learn from your mistakes and from the past, but no amount of obsessing over what has past will change anything that has happened. You can only affect what is to come, so no matter how bad you think the world is around you, instead of complaining about it, actually do something to change the bit of the world around you that you can control.

I’m not one for resolutions, mostly because I don’t think you should wait for an arbitrary day to decide if you want to change or not. If you want change, start local, and don’t be afraid to accept small steps to get there. Nothing worthwhile is ever gained when you only focus on the end step instead of all the steps that got you there. So here’s to a bunch of small steps in 2017.

My go-to MST3K Mini-Marathon

 

Being a parent has finally made me understand why a lot of my friends who are parents didn’t know about a huge chunk of the shows I was watching at any particular time. As soon as Chrissy was old enough that I knew she was paying attention to stuff, she was also old enough to remember and repeat the stuff. I didn’t want to get a call from her preschool to have an awkward conversation about why she shouldn’t be quoting Archer in class (though, can you imagine a video of her going DAAAAAAANGER ZOOOOOONE!).

I mean, I know I’m eventually going to get a call that she told another kid in class to “bite her shiny metal ass,” but I’m not a monster and will not deny her the glory that is Futurama. For those who are curious, she most certainly takes after her parents in that regards. Only four, and she already has favorite episodes of Futurama (“the one where Bender is Santa” / A Tale of Two Santas), King of the Hill (“the one where Hank rescues Peggy Underground” / Texas City Twister), and the Simpsons (“The one with Homer in his Flower Dress” / King-Size Homer… which is also Julie’s favorite episode).

In being a parent, there’s this terrible mix of not having as much time to watch stuff and when you maybe have time, you need to choose things that aren’t going to lead to having to discipline your kid for swearing at the same time you’re laughing hysterically inside about it. So, I quickly found videos that I loved to watch that I knew were going to be okay to have on around her as well. The classic, Mystery Science Theater 3000, quickly flew up to the top of the list for that.

MST3K one of my favorite shows of all time. I only watched it sparingly growing up, got into it a lot more in college, and then catching repeats as time went on. Thanks to the Internet, Amazon, and the like, I believe I’ve seen every episode they ever made, and I’m extremely pumped up for the new show coming back next year.

It used to be a tradition that only came back a few years ago, the MST3K Turkey Day marathon. This year it was broadcast live and featured some exceptionally boring intros by Noah (the new captured guy) and Joel (who’s funny but was never great in front of a camera)… as well as the top 5 voted episodes. I’m not sure where the vote was, but it was fairly hard to argue with most of their choices. I fully intended for this to be posted shortly after Thanksgiving, but see that whole parent thing above, and I just missed getting it done.

So, I guess this is a New Year’s-ish list or something, including some links to Amazon where you can go rent or buy them and keep the classics alive. It’s a good way to spend a weekend, and likely more family friendly than most everything you find on TV these days.

The Starfighters

This movie has nothing to do with space battles, Sci-Fi, or anything else you’d think about when you see that title (then or now). It’s actually a “movie” that could best be described in the phrase “With the Generous Help of the Air Force,” since it’s basically the single most boring attempt at a recruitment film ever made. It has no plot, features a former congressman, and many jokes about finding the worst looking people imaginable. It’s worth every dime to rent or own, and also comes with a great Tom Servo music number in the middle. For my friends that did their time back at Gateway, it also features some jokes that you’ll likely remember…

The Final Sacrifice

“Your movie today, is, if one can measure such things, the worst thing to ever come out of Canada.” With that, Brain Guy sets up the best of the later seasons. We get Zap Rowsdower, the peak of 80s and 90s name fusion (the film was originally released in 1990, making it one of the most modern movies the MST3K crew ever did). The riffs in this one go deep, but it’s probably all worth it just to see Tom Servo dressed as a Mountie and singing about Canada and a total lack of moderation.

It Conquered the World

Unfortunately, this one isn’t available on Amazon Instant Video like the other ones that I’ve posted. Fortunately, someone has uploaded it to YouTube, so you can enjoy Joel and the bots continually mix up Peter Graves for his brother, James Arness. It’s funny how they make jokes about Graves being the “lesser” of the stars, which was likely true at the time. But thanks to MST3K, Biography, Airplane! and other various TV things I grew up with, I’d likely recognize Graves than Arness.

And, thanks to MST3K, I know that Peter Graves went to the University of Minnesota.

The Brute Man

One of the rare times when you can hear either of the hosts actually crack up legitimately during a riff. The Brute Man, featuring Rondo Hatton, which should have been called “The Creaper” since he’s never once called the Brute Man in the movie. It’s a gloriously bad movie that was obviously written around a particular casting before anything else. The whole thing is worth it for the baseball umpire crack that comes in the middle. If you’re even a passing fan of baseball, you can’t help but loose it.

The Violent Years

Ed Wood is at once the worst and the best filmmaker of all time. He’s movies are outstandingly awful, capable of causing pain and suffering to anyone who sees them… and yet, they are so firmly in the “so bad it’s good territory” that it’s hard not to love them. I’m sure I’ve seen more Ed Wood films than, say, Oliver Stone films (and not just because Oliver Stone sucks). I’ve probably watched this particular movie and MST3K riff a couple of dozen times. It also features my favorite line in the whole of the MST3K…

Crow: There is an audible thud every time he tells a joke

Something about that, how it is delivered, and the timing in such a terrible movie is probably as close as we will ever get to the deadliest joke sketch from Monty Python.

Radar Secret Service

This season five stinker is, for some reason I will never be able to explain, my all-time favorite MST3K episode. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Service Chief was apparently born in the same city I was (thanks, Wikipedia), or the presence of Sid Melton. There’s just something fantastic about a movie so unapologetically boring, missing things like plot, pacing, or enjoyable characters. Just watch out for the Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis… make sure you have plenty of Hinder-90. The patent has likely expired by now.

Honorable mentions: The Gamera series, which unfortunately won’t probably see a re-release until the new show (hopefully) takes off. It was briefly in print as a DVD set, but the rights were pulled many years ago. You can find it, if you’re willing to pay for it (someday I’ll have to break down and get it for myself).

That’s Christmas To Me

It might seem strange that a nonbeliever like myself would love Christmas, but I do, and have for some time. It’s not because there’s some fondness in my childhood for it, though there are some good memories tucked away back there (and more than a few bad ones to balance them out). I always thought working retail would have spoiled it for me too, yet for some reason, that just made me love that cheesy, material side of it a bit more.

I don’t care at all for the mythology that leads up to Christmas, but I’m glad that others do. Because I enjoy it and history, I’ve read up on that a lot. There’s a lot of interesting things in the history around the whole of the holiday, from the religious elements to the name itself (which didn’t originate until the middle ages), to all of the other elements that make up the holiday as well, like gift giving, Santa, trees, decorating, etc.

There’s some really interesting history around the holiday, actually. Stories like the Christmas Truce, to learning about the abbreviation Xmas being more faithful to the core story than all the people who flip out about it think (for those wondering, X, or Chi is Greek, was the abbreviation used for Christ… Xmas has existed as an abbreviation for Christmas almost as long as the word has been around). I suppose that makes me a soldier in the imaginary war on Christmas, so there is that. Though, to be fair, I’ve usually said Happy Holidays because it covers Christmas and New Years… that it covers other holidays is a happy byproduct.

  

I’ve had the privilege to celebrate Christmas with my wife for a huge portion of my life, and share it with my in-laws for years as well. I’ve had years of introducing my daughter to a variety of traditions, seeing her enjoy decorating the tree and singing Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs at random times. We’ve created our own little traditions, like listening to records as we decorate and certain things that always show up in the stockings. I like to give gifts, too, mostly because it’s something I enjoy, not because I’m expecting something in return. I even listen to a whole wide variety of Christmas carols, from the traditional to the religious to the modern (the PTX one above is one of my favorites)… because this time of year is about enjoying the life you have with the ones you love.

And that’s Christmas to Me. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and/or Kwanza, or whatever other holiday that’s important to you.

Thoughts on Family

Family is a complicated thing. Life has taught me that family is what you make of it; maybe for you it’s direct relations or blood relatives or the like. Or maybe you’re like me and think that family is what you decide to make your family. Maybe it’s a mix of both, who knows. Like I said… complicated.

My father passed away at the beginning of November. It wasn’t unexpected; honestly, it was more shocking that he lived as long as he did. His health wasn’t great and there was a lot of history behind it. Let me be clear, I’m not saying this for consolation or anything like that. The experience at his funeral for me was more awkward than anything, with everyone offering condolences or talking about how hard it must be.

In truth… it wasn’t hard at all. I wasn’t broken up about it or even particularly sad. I haven’t been close to my parents for the majority of my life at this point. The reasons are many for that situation, most of them boring… but ultimately it all boils down to the fact that when the most important days and events came about in my life, they chose not to be part of them. The last time there was anything “family” between us is when they dropped me off for my freshman year of college in 1997.

Since that time, a great number of things have happened in my life. I graduated from college; they didn’t attend or make any attempt to attend. Perhaps because of medical reasons, which there were some rather big ones… I don’t know. They never bothered to talk to me about it or even say “sorry we can’t make it.” In truth, through my time at college, I could likely count on one hand the number of times they talked to me directly.

I also got married. I love my wife and I love her family; in truth, I’m far closer to my in-laws than I have ever been to my parents. My in-laws have also never met my parents. They were supposed to get together once for lunch, by the day before that was scheduled, my father told me that they won’t be attending my wedding. He gave a reason, which I won’t disclose, but let’s just say it was selfish and insulting, entirely with them. It angered me enough that I cancelled the lunch plans. My in-laws are far too good of people to have to deal with my parents.

One time, my family apparently got together for Christmas, but didn’t bother to invite us or even tell us it was happening. At the time, we lived in the same area. In fact, I lived in that same area for six years after college and can count on one fist the number of times we spent a holiday together. After college, while trying to get work and life and stuff like that straightened out, I lived in their house for a time. I moved out at the very first chance I had (and there were a number of motivations behind that), and once I was gone, I saw my father three or four more times in about five and a half years. Every one of those times were because he needed help fixing his computer. I saw my mother a couple more times because of a funeral and other things.

Once I left my hometown, that was about it. The only contact that ever happened was through things like Facebook or intermediaries. Every few years, I’d get a phone call or message telling me to come make peace or something because one or the other was dying. We once had dinner with my mom while we visited. The last time I saw my father was when we took our daughter up there after she was born. While my mom sends her gifts all the time, she has never received a note, card, or call from them (and obviously never will from my dad).

My in-laws send gift, sure, but more than that, they want to talk to her on the phone, they want to hug her and play with her and interact. They know about her, tell stories, and shape who she is and will be as a person. Chrissy does not understand that she has another set of grandparents; I’ve tried to explain it to her before, but she cannot understand the concept and I cannot blame her. She talked to my dad once, a month or two before he passed when he was going in for surgery… but she mostly said hello and looked at me confused.

The weirdest thing about all of this is that the person I knew as a father was completely different from the uncle that my cousins knew, or apparently from the brother-in-law that my aunts knew. It’s something that’s been hard to articulate to most people, but I’ll let my dad’s obituary do it for me. This is what was said about his life…

He enjoyed playing cards, coaching, Wii bowling even winning the tournament, and driving to look at trains and planes. He liked Black Friday and day after Christmas sales, which allowed him to be a generous uncle. He was known for making sticky rolls and carving water melon baskets for a sister-in-law, Deb who thought of him like a brother, and using a mallet when making mini meat loaves. He liked to fish with his dad in the local Crappiethon where they once won $50. Since 2010, PACE was such a blessing in his life. He was like a son to Mary’s parents, Laurell and Rosalie, helping them whenever they needed something. He had two nieces that were like daughters to us, Danielle and Jaci. Another niece, Emily, that faithfully visited and prayed for him when he was in Madonna. He remember a grandniece, Kaley, with a box of stuff every holiday.

Sounds like a pretty great guy, so you might be kind of shocked when the next paragraph outlines…

Survivors include his wife, Mary ; sons, Nick (Julie), and Brandon (Sydni); grandchildren…

My brother and I both laughed and shook our heads when we read it. I texted him shortly after I saw the thing. It wasn’t a surprise… it was more like yep. We were his kids, we had our families, but we were a damn afterthought. Like a “oh, and he had children” line in the whole thing. To be clear, this wasn’t caused by the rift that grew between him and me; my brother was closer to my parents and got the same treatment. Once upon a time I would have chalked it up to the death of my other brother (and Chrissy’s namesake), but that was twenty-eight years ago.

Memories shared by everyone at the memorial and funeral were all from my cousins and aunts. I got to hear about long emails and phone calls between them and my dad. The last email I got from either of them was in 2010, and that was just asking for contact info. The only one of substance, a paragraph when I asked how he was doing while in the hospital, was in 2009. There are responses from me who went unanswered. My email hasn’t changed in fourteen years and my phone number hasn’t changed in seven years, but apparently I was “hard to contact” or something.

My cousins were understandably heartbroken to lose an uncle that was obviously close to them. I feel for them, but still wonder what circumstances make it so one cares more about extended family than your own children. I won’t speak for my brother, but most of my life it felt more like we were just an inconvenience. Things like getting told not to come home if you’re out after curfew because they don’t want to deal with the cops, having to deal with your own transportation to and from everything, and only being talked to because one of your parents needs something will do that.

Who knows, maybe I was also a disappointment to him. I heard that there were complaints about me being “liberal brainwashed” in college, which isn’t true.  I didn’t turn into an nonbeliever or a liberal until well after college when I entered that whole “real life” thing. What I did learn there is how to see people as just people, and set out on the general philosophy that I try to live my life by: be a good person and try and make the world better for who comes next. I don’t always do it, but I strive for it. Treat people like you want to be treated, and more importantly, treat them how they want to be treated. How someone else chooses to live their life, who they chose to love, who they want to marry, and how they go about it are not my business unless it directly affects me. And turns out, it never directly affects me.

What’s this have to do with my father (outside of the whole liberal brainwashing thing)? He chose to live his life a certain way, and that way involved having next to nothing to do with his children or their lives. I hit a point long ago where I had no interest in trying to build up that bridge and create some relationship between us, especially when it was very clear neither of my parents were interested in doing the same.

I know some of this probably comes off like speaking ill of the dead or something like that, but that was not my intent. I didn’t hate my dad; I more… felt nothing. It seems like that went both ways, since I can’t tell you any point in my life hearing anything like “I love you” or something similar. I won’t even say that I resented him, though I certainly can see how people could make that conclusion. It’s much more that I couldn’t understand the circumstances where you didn’t want to be part of your kids’ lives.

Maybe some day in the future I will regret that choice, but I doubt it. You cannot change the past, only learn for it. There’s no point in agonizing about things you cannot change. I just know that no matter what happens, I’m living my life in a way that my children won’t have to one day sit at my funeral and feel… nothing. I’m living my life knowing that family is what you make of it. The best families are the ones you choose.

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Blog… take like 18 or so

Recent stuff has me wanting to blog again. This is my attempt to do just that. It will be full of thoughts, some offensive, some not. It will be full of ranting. It will be full of hopefully thoughtful insight. Probably mostly just how I think the world should be, though.

I’m also going to move some of my review type stuff here as well, things I’d done in the past on other sites that have sort of died off. We’ll see, though. Could just be I forget about this place again.