Tag Archives: life

War Journal 68: Leapolution II

I looked this good 4 years ago... the hell have I been eating?

I looked this good 4 years ago… the hell have I been eating?

Leap Day!  Some of you, two handfuls in fact, remember the last time I posted on Leap Day.  It only comes once every four years, so that first time I wanted to catch my blog in its infancy and see how it grew the next time Leap Day rolled around.

For the many more that are new, here were the stats back then:

I was in Afghanistan.  That kinda sucked.

I had 2 out of 3 pro sales to make SFWA qualifications.  I would later learn that one of those sales didn’t count.  At the time, that sucked even worse than Afghanistan.

I had 16 subscribers.  16!

I had a fierce thirst for more.

Now, four years later, and the only thing that’s still constant is the thirst!  Current subscriber count is 169, which is awesome.  I’m SFWA recognized.  I’ve sold 12 stories at pro pay to places such as Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, AE: The Canadian SF Review (making me an international player!) and the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology.  Speaking of, I also became an associate editor, directly affecting the landscape of speculative fiction comedy.  And it kinda rocks reading the work of other writers in the trenches, trying to get their funny on while battling the slush.

Who knows where we’ll be the next Leap Day.  Maybe 1699 followers and a book deal?  Your man can hope.

In the meanwhile, thanks for hanging out with a brother.  It’d be a lot lonelier in the trenches without you.

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War Journal 64: The Shower

Life’s been pretty uncomplicated for me since my return to the States.  Got a job, went to work, wrote some stuff, then rinsed and repeated a few times.  This isn’t a complaint… while 2014 was fairly low key in terms of writing milestones and side quest completions, the pace was welcome and probably necessary in the ongoing story of my life.  But on the ass end of that slow boiling year, as if setting the tone for 2015, my wife gets implored by a long time friend to host and coordinate her baby shower.

When my wife received this message (email, text message I can’t remember which) she looked at me.  It wasn’t the usual look of lusty admiration.  She didn’t have a song in her heart, but a question on her face.

“Should I do it?” she asked.

“Yep,” I answered, quick, sure, full of confidence.  My wife’s a craftswoman, a top notch designer, and a ruthless perfectionist.  I absolutely knew if anyone could design an awesome party, it’s her.  I figured with all the hours she’d be spending on the shower, I’d have plenty of time to play my PS4.  Normally she asks for a bit of help in projects, but not this time.  I’m a dude… about as foreign to baby showers as women without veils are in Saudi.  I’d be of practically no help.  So I started thinking about level ups.  Hell, maybe I’ll actually do something useful on the ass end of 2014 and write too.

The joke was on me… I didn’t do much PS4-ing or writing.    When I wasn’t working at my job, I was an unpaid employee for Shower Inc.  I was going to stores to buy materials.  I was going back to the stores to buy more materials.  And I was being brought to her workstation (decidedly not a playstation) so she could get my opinion on the ballerina girls or the diaper cake or the xyz.  The thing is, she’s an awesome designer, and I’m NOT, so she wasn’t really asking me for my opinion, because I’m of the mind to buy the party supply store’s only options and call it a Wednesday… she was really asking me if her ideas were sound.  And they were, cause she’s an awesome designer and I still have my original blog wallpaper because well… I mean… it fits, right?  At first I figured it was just for the first few days, week at the most, but I got word that our family friends wanted to invite men to this baby shower… go new school with it.  That meant planning men’s game, which meant more input which meant no end in sight.

Here’s where I shorten the long story… we spent what I think was a month but felt like a lifestyle planning, plotting, designing and shaping this baby shower.  My wife spent countless nights up and awake–planning, crafting, creating the perfect decorations, researching the funnest games, drinking the strongest coffees.  I know because sometimes I woke up for water and got dragged into “what do you think of this…” scenarios.

But the day came and, just like I knew, she pulled off a pretty much perfect party.  The guests marveled at the decorations.  They raved about the food.  Several people told my wife they had never seen such a beautiful arrangement, and they had been to showers and events that were professionally planned and catered.  Many guests took pictures of the set pieces.  One person told me we should open up a business; we could take pictures of this layout and put them into a portfolio.  That’s when I started taking pictures myself.  Not too many, as I was still in my Bentley Farnsworth assistant role (which is a really busy role), but those pics are below for your viewing pleasure.  Sorry if they’re blurry but, again I was busy.  And remember, virtually all the decorations you see are handmade, custom built for this shower.

photo 3

That’s the diaper cake.

photo 4

 

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The Ornament

My Christmas tree went up around Thanksgiving.  I think it’s an awesome tree, very well decorated, which means I definitely didn’t do the decorating.  Who knows how that monster would’ve turned out!

Anyway, my wife’s looking at the tree and she’s like “something’s missing.”  Again, it looks awesome to me, but what do I know, she’s the decorator.   “What’s it missing?” I ask.

“Your personal ornament,” she answers.

My son Chance has a small star he made when he was a little kid that hangs on the tree.  My wife has a pair of ballerina shoes that she hangs in the tree.  All I’ve been hanging on the tree was my assumption that it needed nothing else.  That assumption was throwing the whole design off.

She wanted me to give her a special ornament.

I don’t know where they sell special ornaments.  There’s no section in any store I’ve been in yet.  What the hell do you hang in a tree that’s special to you?  How can I have so many damn questions about what to hang when I’m already looking at two examples?

“I’m trying.  I got nothing,” I tell her.

She thinks for a moment.  Then she goes to work.  This is what she shows me.

tales of beamoninside

In case you can’t read the cursive, it reads “The Tales of Beamon”.  Inside, each page has the name of one of my published short stories, and a few gems that never got “published” but are still her favorite reads.  See the steampunk inspired gears on the outside?  She made all this from like regular paper and sheer ingenuity!

Now, this is what I call a special ornament.  I should try to sell custom versions to other writers… it’s beyond anything I could’ve hoped for in terms of finding something that really speaks to me.  It hangs on this tree.

treetree closeup

I hope you folks are having a great lead into Christmas like I am.

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War Journal 62: Battle Scars

One of the things I’m doing new this year is I started going old school for my shaves.  You know, the boar bristle brush, shaving soap that you’ve got to whisk with the brush to create lather, straight razor, the whole nine.  I don’t know where the thought originated from, but I know my wife fully blessed the transaction, hooking me up with the full kit and most of the caboodle for Christmas.  She even tried to get me an alum block, but since I didn’t even know what the hell that was, I resisted until she finally “bought herself” some alum powder to cook with and just so happened to leave it in the bathroom next to my shaving array.

Me, being me, just got around to full on embracing it about two weeks ago.  I maintain a low beard, but I give my head the shearing treatment.  Some dudes out there may be thinking, “Why go this tedious route?”  Simple Answer: Cause it’s awesome.  I was thinking maybe it’s just me that thought it reeked of cool, but here’s what artofmanliness.com had to say as their number four reason to shave classic style:

You’ll feel like a bad ass. It’s nice taking part in a ritual that great men like your grandfather, John F. Kennedy, and Teddy Roosevelt took part in.

Indeed, while I was shaving my head with my straight razor I felt like this:

Diesel

Since I’m a novice, I don’t have a designer blade yet, something with a cool name like The Bismarck or Carpe Diem (these are real names).  Instead, I have a starter razor, one where you can change out the blade.  Crawl before you walk and all that, which is what I was doing, going from really, really sloppy with the razor, giving myself little cuts to nicks to being more and more self assured every next time I shaved.

Anyway, I’m doing my thing yesterday, walking as it was with decent competency, and my wife comes into the bathroom in the middle of my newly forming manly ritual.  She makes me nervous.  I’m not sure why.  Am I breaking an unstated section of the male code, letting the fairer sex not see me thoroughly competent with a straight razor?  Or is it because I’m holding a deadly instrument up to my head and somehow think she’s here now just like ancient Romans showed up at the arena to see some bloodletting?

She hangs out.  “When’d you change the razor last?” she asks casually as she gazes at my half shaved head.

I don’t let her see me sweat.  I’m a man doing manly shit.  “Never,” I reply.

Confusion reigns on her face.  “What do you mean never?”

“I mean since I started using this blade a couple weeks ago, I have yet to change it out.”  It seemed reasonable to me.  I only shave every other day and skip weekends, so that was like six times.  I was shaving a head, not sawing through leather.  But I’m new at this, too.  Was I wrong?  I’m used to technology, not old school, and I was still learning to use it properly, forget about being able to look at it and tell if it needed replacing.  There’s no “change me” indicator strips on it when it wears out…

“Oh no!” my wife exclaims.  “You’ve gotta change those out.  You can’t go that long with the same razor.”

Her words presented a few problems.  One, she shouldn’t know more than me about the time honored tradition of old school shaving.  Two, even if she does, I shouldn’t let on that she does.  Three, I got this.

“I’m almost done,” is what I said.  It was the equivalent of “whatever,” but more respectful, as if I had listened to her input and valued it.  Anyway, sufficiently bored with all the manly activities happening in the bathroom, she went about something else.  Me, I was like two, maybe three swipes away from a finishing my hardcore style shave.  I rushed to finish.

That’s when the razor sliced into the back of my head.  I like seriously carved off a piece of scalp.  So now I’m bleeding out the back of my head, it stings with that raw fire.  It was a lot of blood, and I wanted to scream for help, but damn that… I had already failed one of the core tenants of my newly defined manliness.  Instead I clean off the lather and blood by splashing water, which felt like acid in the wound.

I gotta clean this up.  Patch up the wound, walk out of the bathroom and pretend I didn’t turn her white towel into a crime scene and that’s all I’m gonna do.  OK, so first I gotta stop the bleeding.  But I don’t have an alum block, all I got is that damn alum powder that’s built for cooking.  So I’m sprinkling alum powder on my head and that was like pouring salt over it.  Why didn’t I get an alum block despite not knowing what it was?!

Note to those out there still using normal products:  Alum does not grow new skin back where before there was naught.  It will keep you from bleeding on your shirt and furniture with its purging fire, but that’s about it.  Needless to say, she saw what happened.  She blamed the razor.  I figure if it was dull, it wouldn’t have cut me so effortlessly… but I’ll let it be that.  It beats confessing that I still haven’t learned to run with the razor of yesteryear.

Just when I thought it was safer in the States versus being deployed, I go and start losing blood.

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