10.30.2005

Loss

Request #2 comes in from Chris, from the never-boring site, countplusplus. He's asked me to talk about Loss. Off I go.

In the request, Chris mentions several of my losses that he's aware of. I've lost my father. I've lost a job. Friends have moved away. I want to talk about these and other losses I've been through.

Losing my father was sudden. He was alive, then he wasn't. It came out of nowhere to the family. While he and my mother had been separated for a few years already, my brother, mother and myself were all shocked. I was saddened at first but I also guiltily felt like a weight had been lifted. My father disapproved. Just, in general. He disapproved of a great many things and one of things I avoided as assiduously as possible was his disapproval. I was 17 when he died and I was at that stage where I started not caring about his opinions but with him gone, I felt very liberated. I wonder if I'd have ever reached the same sense of freedom over time simply through my own maturity. I'd like to have him back now. I feel like I'm ready to deal with him.

Losing my job was difficult. The week I went in to get a lymph node removed because it had an unnatural growth was the week I got laid off. I was home recovering when the decision was made and the first day I got back to work, a week later, they gave me my walking papers. I was surprised. I had expected to be cut all summer long. The business was diving, I was low-man on the totem pole. I could read the signs. All summer I knew it was coming. I guess I wasn't thinking about it when it finally happened, I thought I had bought another year. But it was not to be. In October, they let me know my last day would be just before Christmas. I was sad because I liked all the people there and I knew I wouldn't be able to find a job that paid nearly as well. At the same time, I was excited because I hoped I might be able to write a book.

Friends moving away is difficult. I miss Alex and Clare a lot. I saw them both so much, for so long. Alex, I had known since high school and we'd been more or less inseparable once I started doing improv with him. Clare and I were great friends in our own right and our shopping excursions are sorely missed on my end. She paddled me around in a canoe when I hurt my arm on a camping trip. I think about a lot of my friends who've moved away, but I'd give a lot to live near to them again. They're each worth their weight in laughter. Just writing this makes me miss them more...

I lost my original wedding ring. I wish I had that back.

Once I was given a 20$ bill to buy a birthday for a friend when I was twelve. I went to the store, picked out a gift and when I got to the cash, I found I had lost the money. I ran back home telling my parents that I lost the bill. They gave me another and a lengthy, voluble lecture and then deducted it from my allowance over the next several weeks. What stayed with me was not the trouble I got into, it was perfectly reasonable and handled, surprisingly, without an overrreaction. It was those fifteen, twenty minutes I raced frantically around the store, to and from my house retracing my steps searching furiously for a lost 20$ bill that I knew beyond doubt was long, long gone. I can vividly recall the utter panic at having failed so miserably with one of my firsts tastes of responsibility.

I like to think that I have a very strong sense of honour to those I love. If I make a promise, I take it very seriously. I know I haven't always been able to keep some of them (usually due to forgetfulness). I also have a strong sense of duty as a citizen. I think a loss of honour or an abrogation of duty are very serious things.

I don't live in fear of losing my family (by this, I mean my wife and child). I frequently imagine them gone, lost to me. It would be unbearable. The fact that they're here makes me rejoice. It pretty much makes me untouchable. There is no disaster that could befall me that can knock the smile of my face while my precious duo are safe, healthy and happy. In some ways, they are already lost to me because I've accepted the possibility of their being stolen from me, so I always feel like I've regained them whenever we're together. I'm the kind of person who lives by "prepare for the worst but hope the best".

Lost is a pretty good TV show. If they can wrap this up without resorting to a David Lynch series finale, I'll be pretty damn impressed.

10.24.2005

Balance

My first request (hopefully not my last) has come from Simon, he of the monkey herding. He has asked for a bit of writing about Balance. About being a new dad, a husbandular object, an improv playa, a wanna-be writer, and general human. Here's the deal, Simmers.

I can only imagine how the topic came to Simon's mind because the life-changing event of a baby (he's the father of a one-yr old) doesn't change you like being turned into a frog or suddenly making you twice as tall. In fact, I'm more or less the same person (it's hard to judge oneself in these things). I don't personally feel changed. What has changed was how I spend my day and my priorities. I don't think my spending time with Ben is a change in me, but rather an additional priority that was previously absent, and a good one for that matter.

I do have a large number of things that I need to balance. A quick list might be useful here:

  • Wife
  • Baby
  • Work
  • Improv troupe
  • Sunday night improv (outside of the troupe)
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Reading books
  • Writing a book
  • My blog
  • Playing video games
  • Watching movies
  • Playing sports
  • Social butterfly (I keep close acquaintance with a large number of people)

A few of these items have been entirely removed from my list of things. The Sunday night improv, which I really had a blast at, is now not possible. A 4 hour absence on a weekend (when I should be helping at home) is not feasible nor is it desirable on my part. Playing sports is a plausible activity but none are available to me at a convenient time. Curling on Sundays seems to be a good bet but it doesn't look like it'll be regular and it's not exactly the most demanding sport. Wife and baby join me at the rink and while she would like to join me out there, we end up taking turns (when she isn't falling on the ice and giving herself ugly bruises).

Playing video games is still happening. It's an activity that can be done while on baby duty. Perhaps my choice of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City may show an effect upon my child's development, but for now, as he sits under his toy laden arches batting at all manner of mouth-bound objects, I can take a golf club to a criminal's head with only minimal disturbance. I'm also playing Viewtiful Joe which is fun but not as much as I'd hoped. Bonus points for getting wife time while playing Final Fantasy X which we play together. I love my wife a great deal but playing video games with her is the coolest part. Watching movies probably falls under this category as well. This blog is only if I have a really urgent need to say something or if I want to write something short because I have no time to edit the book. Ben's blog comes under this, too. These activities can be done while holding or amusing a baby. Perhaps not very well but it can be done on occasion.

Reading. I usually have to give up something to get some reading in but I find that as I'm writing I avoid reading so as not to overly colour my own writing. I'm in the middle of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell which is a great book but I daren't write in my own book for fear that it's period language may yet affect my own hand.

Writing. The first draft of the book was complete as of Dec 31. I meant to have a second draft by Dec 31 of this year. There are 18 chapters. I have revised five, four of which were complete before the birth of my son. I vow to complete my task. I can do it if I apply myself and I think I've gotten a good hang on this parenting thing to give me time to do it... on my lunchbreak at work.

Improv Troupage. I've greatly reduced my workload in this regard. I no longer have a hundred tasks like poster making, poster pasting, webmaster, gig contact, etc. I thought I may have to give it up entirely with the baby's arrival but I attend one workshop a week and we only have one show a month which I can make. However, coming next month are weekly shows. I will probably not do more than two shows a month and I'll probably drop a workshop to do it. Usually, the workshop is in the weekday evening, which gives my wife a chance to visit her parents who gladly help with Ben in my absence.

M:tG. I still collect. I still play weekly games with the old gang though I think it may be dying out. We used to regularly get 5-8 people and now we struggle to get 4. Some have moved away. Some have become parents. Others are finding school or love eating their time. I still love it and seeing as the group always got together at my place, it was only interrupted for one week, the week Ben was born. No pressure to learn the game, son. Heh heh. My wife has been very understanding about this and while I try to help as much as possible, she usually ends up with the baby for a good percentage of the night. The guys have been good about helping out and not giving me a rough time about leaving the table to go change a diaper. Besides, there's always the Nameless Game.

Social Butterfly. While I used to use M:tG to see most of my buddies, it's not quite the same. I try to take Ben away from Tash for at least 2 hours every Saturday morning (usually more like 3-4) so she can sleep in or go out, free from any baby duties. I wish it could be more but as long as Ben is on the mommy juice he can't be away for too much longer. During this time, I go visit friends who are amenable to cooing over a baby. We hang out for a while and then we go home to mommy. I see my improv gang at improv, my magic gang on Saturday nights and I try to squeeze everyone else at the occasional baby-friendly party.

Work. I go. I come home. This is also my only exercise as it's a 15-20 min walk to and from work. It's not exactly super engaging but it's not totally tedious either. Every so often I get a task that is actually difficult but more often than not, it's test, test, test. Meh, pretty repetitive. It eats up a lot of my day but the people are cool, the hours are flexible, the walk is short and the money pays da bills. Who could complain?

Here's the big two. Wife and Baby. My wife and I take turns with the munchkin. We both love playing with him but as my wife is the non-working one, to her it falls the task of eternal baby entertainment. She's a trooper but Ben can be difficult. We're now thinking that he's being overfed and underslept so we're going to try and see if that will make our squalling tempest into a dulcet charmer. When he's in a good mood, he's a delight but woe betide they who waken his wrath. So if we can get Ben happier we can get Tasha happier.This is our current task.

As for how we three spend time together. I get bathtime with Ben plus I'm on baby-duty when I get home from work unless I have chores to do (which aren't quite getting done as they used to; which is bad news if you saw how we lived before). Then weekends are split. So I get a fair shake with Ben though I always feel like I could help more. Being at home with a baby can quickly feel like you're trapped with a baby. Her playgroup and visiting her parents has been a big help. Once Ben's asleep, that's when daddy gets in an hour or two of gaming or reading.

Tash n I are very independant people and we both hold alone time and personal projects in high regard. As an indication, we've both said in the past that we'd be willing to try separate vacations if we had to (say for scheduling reasons) but we've never actually had to do it, we always manage to travel together and I can't say that I can see it happening now with Ben. I try to give her as much time as I can so she can go recharge her batteries and she lets me wander off to do my thing.

As for time with each other, this is the thing we both agree we could be doing better. We're both exhausted by the end of the day and we're both recharged by doing our solo activities so it often ends up that we're in different rooms of the house when we have leisure time. This doesn't disturb us because it's pretty much how we were before Ben arrived. We always make time to go out for groceries or play a game or watch a movie or she'll sit in the bathroom as I bathe Ben. It's the alone time that is not exactly abundant. But we knew this going into baby-making and we're prepared. We've had 7 years of marriage and 5 years of dating before that to have us time. After 3 months, we're not exactly going crazy and the drips and drabs we do have are keeping us going. I'm sure we'll be able to make more space in our lives for each other as Ben gets more independant but for now, we happily surrender ourselves over to him.

For all the hard work we've put in so far, I've never found any that has brought us closer together or any so rewarding.

Request

I need some blog material. Email me a topic that you'd like me to write about and I'll do it to the best of my abilities. You can be as broad or as specific as you like.

In the meantime:

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas
Kings Play Chess On Fine Grain Sand
Never Eat Shredded Wheat
O Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me

10.16.2005

You Got-ta Move It, Move It

I went curling today. Man, I missed it. The group I go with are learning and I find myself learning again since it's been 10 years since I played regularly. It's good to get back on the ice.

The surface was the worst I've ever seen. It had gotten so warm this week that some of the ice had evaporated and then condensed on the ceiling. It collected at various local minima and dripped onto the playing surface creating giant lumps (sometimes robin-egg-sized) that made playing a game impossible. But it was still good to get a few throws in, practice the slide, get the muscles working.

I hope to make this a 3-4 times per month deal. Ben liked the outing and Tasha tried her hand at it. She fell on her knee within 5 minutes, giving her a nice and purpley bruise. At least she sat with Ben while I played; we were supposed to alternate. He was behaving well, too. I hope she tries again. It's not an easy slide to master. I'm still flying all over the place. I hope to have my game back in a few months.

I really need some activity in my life again and I'm hoping this fits the bill. My ball hockey friends have disbanded and dispersed. There's no soccer going on. I couldn't make the Ultimate games this summer because of proto- and actual Ben. My job is very sedentary. If I didn't have to walk to work, I'd be very worried.

10.15.2005

Get Out Of Here

I've added a whole bunch of blogs that I link to. Here's a brief rundown...

Starting Out Small

This is my son's blog. He's only a few months old right now, so his parents do most of the work for him. Mostly pictures with the occasional text about being infantile.
Update Frequency: Weekly

tasha0

This is my wife's blog. She mostly writes about TV with the occasional post about her personal life. Uh, what else... Um... she likes me?
Update Frequency: Random

these are not my walls

This is Clare's blog. I was Best Man at her wedding. She is awesome. Obey her. A founding member of Without Annette (married to another founder). Her blog is mostly about improv, law school, hobbies, and quiz memes.
Update Frequency: Random

Something Up...

This is Maggie's blog. She's a friend of mine who lives in Montreal. Her husband was a founding member of Without Annette, which is how we met. She writes mostly about teaching, books and her family.
Update Frequency: Random

countplusplus

This is Chris's blog. I know him mostly through my Magic playing activities. His blog is mostly about his relationships with some amusing anecdotes thrown in.
Update Frequency: Random

Painted Words

This is Nicola's blog. She's a PhD history student at Oxford. She writes mostly about her hobbies, her day-to-day life with the occasional book / movie/ tv show review.
Update Frequency: Hardly Ever

Without Annette Improv: Montreal Comedy

The greatest Improv in Montreal Comedy called Without Annette that does Improv Comedy in Montreal. (That was for you, my googlebot darling). We blog about improv with a few other jokes, stories and reviews thrown in.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

Simian Farmer

This is Simon's Page. I've only talked face-to-face with him for a total of about 4 hours. But we like it that way. He writes about his family, his past and random thoughts with a bunch of links tossed in for good measure.
Update Frequency: Daily

Aurora Walking Vacation

Paul's blog is an AOL blog. Don't hold it against him. He writes mostly about his family, skepticism, and quiz memes.
Update Frequency: Daily

Without ME

This is Mariana's blog. She's a linguistics student that is trying to steal our baby. She writes about her day-to-day life, academic stuff and throws in some cool links.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

warning: highly mortal

Maryam's blog is about the weirdness of chemistry, her hobbies, books and her day-to-day life.
Update Frequency: Random

exBostonian

Andrew is a Scot who used to live in Boston but now does comics at McGill (he's probably also a student). I don't know him that well but his comic amuses me and he makes fun of the British which always goes over well with me.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

Where The Sidewalk Reappears

This is Adrienne's blog. Another person I don't know very well. But she's studying Drama + Sociology. That kind of mix has to produce an interesting blog. She writes about her day-to-day life with various reviews snuck into the text.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Month

Sillytech

I put these links in random order but this is probably my fave. It's ostensibly Dustin's blog. He's an indie video game maker (Buy Lux) which is pretty much coolest-job-ever. The site itself is a bunch of his friends (me included) posting a non-stop stream of crazy links we find.
Update Frequency: Daily

Experimenting With Words

This is Gil's blog. He's the newest member of Without Annette. He mostly writes about his life.
Update Frequency: Random

Whimsy Inc.

This is Neale's blog. We've met but I don't think we've ever had a conversation. His blog is cool though. It's about his art, street art, video games, game design, and design in general.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

babyresearcher

This was Amy's website. I added the link just in case she ever leaves her underground bunker.
Update Frequency: Hardly Ever

I hate you, Marc D. Rowland

This is here because I hate Marc D. Rowland.

10.06.2005

Past

I've been following the latest Parisian debate over "muséification" out of the corner of my eye. I have a thing for urban planning, which I suspect comes from my love of maps.

The crux of the debate is the fight between two valid points. First, those who believe Paris and its rich heritage should be preserved as is and that city laws should prevent any radical changes. The opponents argue that most of Paris is so full of heritage that there's no more space to change anything, especially in the city core. This is a good fight!

I agree that cultural and urban heritage should be preserved but how much of it can you rope off? Is a city a living, evolving thing or should it become a museum? The people who support change are accused of being "developers out to make a buck" but I think you can make a pretty good argument that too much of Paris is stuck in the past. Most of the modern development is way outside of the city core. Should a city perpetually look back at what it was or is that simply what it is and should remain? In a thousand years is Paris going to look the same? Should it?

A lot of people deride the glass pyramid of The Louvre by I.M. Pei (the same guy who designed Place Ville Marie here in MTL). I personally think its great. It adds a nice touch of 20th century to a building that could have been overly fossilized. You couldn't have added something in the style of the time and have it not look out of place. Why not add something from the now? It complements its surroundings, looks good in its own right, and is very functional.

I don't think they should tear down the Eiffel Tower and put up a row of condos but you shouldn't kill a city by putting it in a bottle.