13.1.14

The Father

Hey everyone.  I'm reaching out to let you know that a friend and local Austin filmmaker Stephen Beyleu is working on a new sci-fi film.  He's currently running a kickstarter campaign to fund a special effects shoot that will be shown to investors to help fund the film as a whole.  It's a small step toward a larger goal.  I've helped with some storyboards and artwork and if you back the project at certain levels you'll receive some of that artwork as a thank you.

You can see more here.

Here's Stephen talking about the project.



These campaigns are difficult to drive so even if you don't contribute, please pass it along to any sci-fi or indie movie fans you know.  The more backing it receives, the higher quality of film he can produce.  I've read the script and the story is pretty amazing.  I'd like to be able to see it come to life.

Thank you!

30.12.13

Exit, stage left.

I know I should write something here, but to be honest I don't know what.  Looking back over a large chunk of time and trying to give it a plus or minus sign is unfair to the experiences you've amassed, as though we're eulogizing.  To make a list, or assign a label, only seems to be a use to us to mark time.  It's comfort food for the brain to have things sorted and named.

Usually I have the journal to look back on and see what happened in a year and get a feel for how things fell into place.  Given how there's usually no great emotional involvement (it's mostly recaps of weeks or months at a time and about singular accomplishments) it's difficult to glean any positive or negative state.  There's also the problem of how little was written in the first part of the year.  In six months there were just a handful of entries.  It would appear as though things were going well all around or that life was just too crazy to put much down for posterity.

All that said, I'd like to erase most of 2013.  I'd almost like to erase everything from 2008 until last Friday.  I know that's not possible, and it's unfair to the rest of the universe to think that way.  I know empirically that there were times in the past year that were fun, joyous, climactic, challenging, and remarkable.  I don't regret the things that I did.  I don't fault any actions taken against me.  I have sympathy for those people who have suffered greatly, love and admiration for those that had joy brought into their lives, and gratitude for the breadth of kindness that was supremely evident not just to me, but anyone who needed it.  Loss, pain, sickness, and unwanted change seemed to be a prevalent theme in the past year.

As always, there was balance.  The good with the bad, the yin with the yang.  For all the actions, there wasn't always and equal and opposite reaction.  But in the end, the net result was one of equilibrium.  Such is the way of the universe.

I am not going to make any resolutions in 2014 save one; that I will not set any expectations.  If there has been anything I've taken away from the past year, it's that you are only in control of your own actions and your own mind.  Expecting something from anyone or anything else only creates disappointment and life is entirely too short to be wishing something would happen.  Life is too wonderful and precious to have your vision clouded by false hope or crippling regret.

A friend recently told me that, among other things, taking chances, making your feelings known, expressing yourself, and finding ways to make yourself happy are things you should own.  One should feel no shame or regret in letting the world know how you're feeling or what you want.  Above all else, you have to love yourself, otherwise there would be very little in the world that you could truly appreciate.  This sentiment reminds me of inmates finding religion.  When all else is removed from a life, all that's left is faith, self, and love.

As someone who prides themselves on being a Pleaser, this is going to be drastic change.  I've always been more concerned about the happiness of others above my own.  It's only recently that I've begun speaking out when something doesn't feel right or DOES feel right.  It's going to take some fine tuning because I don't know how to do it.  I'm still too tied into how it might affect other people.  I have a feeling I might lose friends, but if I understand this right, that loss won't bother me.

I realize this has been a very introspective entry.  There is no doubt that the past year was full of events that shaped a great many of my friends and family.  I'm not so solipsistic to completely ignore the accomplishments and defeats of others.  Even in my close circle of friends and family, life changed drastically this past year.  It was indeed a challenge for most and I hope they received the recognition or support they were due or was needed.  I'm also very grateful to the new friends I've made and I hope they are lasting friendships and ones that grow deeper and stronger over time.

And to you, dear reader, I wish the best for you in the new year.  We're in an age that is seeing sweeping social change.  There's a great sense of a more intertwined social consciousness and I hope we're all able to take advantage of that.  There's a lot of good in this world.  For myself and all of you, I hope we can find it.

28.11.13

On the Subject of Thanks

A friend gave us a challenge:  Write about something for which you are thankful that is not your friends, family, significant other, or how good the turkey is.  Challenge accepted.

For the past few months I've come to rely on a few things.  These things have been there for me without question or reservation and have ensured that I get through each day if not with a smile than a least not with a crippling desire to curl up into a ball and disappear.

Netflix - I'm so thankful you exist.  Not only are you a great service that's readily available to people with good download speed, but you have shows that are comfort food to me in dark and sad times.  I'm also thankful I can binge watch newer shows and remain at least somewhat caught up with the rest of the world.

CapMetro - Thank you for being reliable, clean, and available in most places I need to go.  I've rarely had problems with you.  You get me to work and back home again.  You have AC when it's hot and a heater when it's cold.  My life would be a mess if it wasn't for you so thank you.

The Printed Word - In as much as I love a good TV show or movie or time spent playing games, I know I'll always end my day with a book.  Thank you for being there to distract me, teach me, entertain me, and keep me company.  Thank you for firing my synapses in a way no other media can.  I consider myself very lucky to have read as much in this life as I have and am anxiously anticipating all the reading left to do.

Karaoke - To all the KJs out there, bless you.  How else can aspiration-less musical theater majors get their fix?  I will blow out my vocal chords singing in the car and I'm thankful to you for giving me an audience in front of which I can embarrass myself.

Reddit - Thank you for being an outlet for me for the past few months.  I caught a lot of negativity for my specific situation, but through you I was able to offer advice to others and in doing so found the strength and course of action I needed to help myself as well.  You're a fickle beast of a community but I'm glad I was able to find a new way to vent and be sad or depressed without worrying about who was seeing it.

The gym at my office - Thank you for having a stationary bike and a shower.  I've lost weight this year and I feel better about myself all without having to pay an expensive monthly contract.

Now, I reserve the right to say a little about my friends and family.  There are those of you who were incredibly kind to me this year.  There are those that defended me, propped me up, bought me drinks and food, kept me entertained, and generally were just there when needed.  Of all the years I've celebrated Thanksgiving, this is the one in which I'm most thankful for all of you.  In fact, I just can't thank you enough.  I'd name you individually but I don't want people to feel left out if I forget someone.  Let's just leave it at, "You know who you are."  You know what you've done and how much you mean to me.  If you don't, I'll work harder telling you.

I'm also grateful for all the new friends I've made this year.  I'm really looking forward to having fun with you and being in your support group if the need arises.

Thank you all, and happy Thanksgiving.

12.11.13

Full Beard Gone

2013 is starting to wrap up and the next few weeks promise to be busy.  There are holidays, concerts, weddings, parties, movie and TV events, school functions.  There comes a point where you have to just decline invitations and not feel bad about it.  Better to be polite early than double book and have to back out later like a chump.

That said, I'm excited for all that's left of this year.  I'll be going up to Colorado to visit my family for Thanksgiving and although it'll be another whirlwind trip it should prove to be enjoyable.  I miss the cold and the mountains and the snow.  As much as I love Austin I do wish sometimes we'd get a little chillier.  There's supposed to be a freeze tonight so it's not like we don't get that bitter weather at all.  There just aren't any days where you can stay inside and drink hot chocolate and watch TV because you're either snowed in or it's just to cold to even think.  I know my dad and brother hates the cold and will think me crazy.  I'm surprised either hasn't moved.

The kids are both doing well.  Behavior issues are always a problem but for the most part they are good kids.  They are active, they get good grades, and they don't get in trouble at school.  Rowan's oboe playing is fantastic; she is really skilled musically.  Her progress in Kickstart is also amazing.  She won a first place in her forms competition and third in sparring at their city competition.  She can then move to regional and then state.  She had a disappointing performance for her state band audition, but she's bounced back and is looking forward to the band trips and competing again next year.

Gregory is still in scouts and is turning out to be a pretty awesome one at that.  Each meeting he tends to be the one who is the most focused and tries to take charge of the other kids.  He mastered his knots really quickly and at times has a rapacious desire for knowledge.  He has a science fair project coming up and he wants to recreate lightening.  He's also in Destination Imagination again where he has emerged as the dominate personality and likely team leader.  Considering what he's gone through with his ADD over the summer, I couldn't be more proud of him.  By the way, he apparently inherited my gorgeous but defective eyes.

The ladies are doing well, though Cheryl is a bit stressed as we approach the end of her first semester as a grad student.  She has a lot of papers to write and is constantly challenged by the level of work her students submit.  Still, the two of them do take the opportunities to travel and visit family and work on the house.  In fact, this week will see the end of the carpet in the main rooms.  Hardwood flooring is being put in mainly to combat the constant need to clean pet stains.  We're all concerned that the noise level will jump exponentially but with some well placed rugs that may not be much of an issue.  My room may need an actual wall put in, but that's for later.  I haven't had any reason to complain about my conditions lately and would be happy to let the status be quo for a bit.

Charlie is not doing much better with his seizures.  He has them on average every twelve days.  Several vet visits and medicine adjustments really haven't changed the frequency.  They seem less severe and his recovery time is lessened.  I just don't know if a brain can function for very long if it shorts out that often.  He and I still don't get along very well, despite how often I try to get down on his level and really just not let him run away.  He's also twitchy and doesn't really behave well with anyone.  I know he's not being a jerk to me personally, but of everyone in the house, I seem to be handling it the poorest.  Still, he's an adorable dog and when he's fully within himself he's very sweet and playful.  I hope he doesn't suffer like this for much longer.

That's about it.  I'm sadly not drawing as much as I'd like.  In fact, I've been watching a lot of TV and going out as much as I can, but the artistic and Lego stuff has kind of ground to a halt.  I haven't had a robot drawing in months.  There are a couple projects with which I'm involved but I can't seem to drum up the needed drive to sit at the table and get things done.  It's a mix of not believing I have the time to do it, feeling I'm skipping out on being a part of the family, and just not feeling any joy while doing it.  I hope that changes soon.

The cold weather is upon us and there will be many weekends with wassail and chili.  It's my favorite time of year.  I'm really glad this year is about over.  The holidays might be a little hard for me personally, but I have a lot of friends and family which should make it alright.  As if to signify it all, the full beard has been retired.  It was grown upon request and I'll likely not grow it again.


21.10.13

Getting It

I went on a march this weekend.  It was the annual AIDS Walk Austin; perhaps you saw an earlier post.  For those that donated, thank you very much.  The event raised some $212,000 for prevention and care of AIDS and HIV patients in central Texas.  It was a big turn out and apparently this year was the first year they were able to hold the event in a park instead of a parking lot or sidewalk.  I was glad I was able to take part.

I was by myself and listening to music so I was just able to watch people walk around me.  For the most part there were a lot of groups or at least couples participating.  It was a big mix of age and race and orientation.  I saw some of the most fantastic tattoos and outfits.  It was a pleasant day, the walk wasn't that long and the party before hand was very warm and inviting.  Even being by myself I didn't feel out of place.  Well, that much anyway.  The mac-n-cheese BLT went a long way toward making me feel better.

Despite the reason for the event, despite the need to raise money and consciousness about a disease that destroys lives, the folks at the park were full of life and happy to see each other.  It felt like a family reunion.  So many people knew each other from past walks.  You could tell that they knew each other outside of this event as well.  They would meet later.  I can't believe it's only been a week.  Call me when you're back home.  People had come in from all over the country.  I overheard a couple from New York talking about how nice the weather was here.  The main speaker was from San Francisco.  Dozens of people up from Houston.  It was friendly and it felt safe.

It felt right being there.

Last week while at a local bar participating in trivia and karaoke, I met a couple new people.  One guy sat and talked with me for a while after the trivia ended.  He was with a group but they left; he was waiting to meet up with his boyfriend later.  During trivia they were giving me a hard time because I was beating them.  They kept saying I should join their team so we'd all win bar money.  It was good playful banter.

So after a while of making small talk with this guy, I realized that I can't make small talk without telling someone the last 15 years of my life.  It's really awkward for people I'm sure, but I just seem to figure out how to talk about my family without giving an intricate blow-by-blow of at least the last decade.  And, I mean, it comes up.  You meet a new person, they aren't a pyscho, you seem to hit it off and you want to get to know them.  You ask questions like, "How old are you?"  "Do you have any kids?"  "Are you married?"  "What do you do for a living?"  Basic questions.  Most of those lead to me explaining what I was doing in 1996 and how it led to me being in this bar on a Thursday.

This guy was pretty stunned.  Most people are.  But he asked something no one has yet.  When I told him about how I knew Cheryl was gay before we got married he asked, "Why did you do that?  Why did you set yourself up to fail?"  It was my turned to be stunned.  I really didn't have a good answer.  I fumbled about a bit saying things about the timing being right, her having previous relationships with guys, us having a connection neither could explain, etc. etc.  But I couldn't shake the fact that despite how seemingly good our weird little family dynamic seems to work, someone went all the way back to the beginning to ask why I would even go down that path.

Don't get me wrong, I have no regrets.  (Well, maybe a couple, but not in regards to this.)  Even in light of the events of the past couple months, I wouldn't consider the last 15 years a failure.  There have been hardships and heartaches, but there have been moments of real happiness.  The kind of happiness that makes you focus on the moment and become hyper aware of your surroundings so you can use that memory later.  What happened recently was devastating to me, but that doesn't change what happened the four previous years.  There were times when I was so happy, so in love with life in general that I didn't think it was possible.  I thought it was a joke.  That kind of joy can be found again.  That kind of warmth and happiness is always just around the corner.  All you have to do is be open and willing to see it, even if it's small amounts.

Those people at the march had it despite the losses they may have had.  My family has it despite dealing with the day to day tragedies.  To me there's no setting yourself up for failure, there's taking a chance.  Sometimes those chances pay off.

Carry on.

15.10.13

Snail's Pace


Snail
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Just a quick update for things going on at the S.S. Minnow. (That's what we've named the house on Facebook so we can invite people to things. It's technically listed as a karaoke bar.)

Scooter #1 is running okay. The colder it gets the worse it runs so I'm getting a little stressed about when it gets really cold. Scooter #2 still isn't starting. I have a few more things left to try but I might just call a mobile mechanic for help. It's not that I don't like working on it, it's just that I'm not a mechanic, I don't have ALL the right tools and I'm always worried I'd do more harm than good. We'll see how it goes.

The kids are progressive along standard parameters. Rowan is exerting her pre-teen sensibilities, which means she's getting into trouble a lot lately for having no empathy for her fellow human beings in general and specifically when in regards to her little brother. Still, she's getting straight A's and is one of the top students in her Kickstart class and is still doing very well with her oboe.

Gregory is still a Webelo and just earned his Bobcat badge. He and I went to Webelo Woods last weekend to learn about all the Boy Scout troops. It's a little like a Job Expo where there might be activities or swag to give away but you're basically just getting info and being pitched to by all the local troops. Still, we had fun.

What I like about G's level of commitment to scouts is that it fits my level of wanting to be there. After a little while he just goes, "Hey, I'm done. Let's go home." And I ask if he's sure, and remind him there are activities later. But he declines, saying he's had enough. I don't push, mainly because I'm right there with him. Plus, I don't want to be that parent that keeps their kid in an activity (baseball, football, band, theater, etc) that they may not like. He's still just 9 and has a lot of life to check out.

The ladies are doing well. No major illnesses or injuries. School is going well, though a lot of work and stress involved. Everyone's jobs are okay, so nothing really to report.

We've got some activities coming up over the next few months and I'm excited for them. The first is Halloween. I'll be dressing up and going out, maybe to a couple parties. The kids will be trick-or-treating. I believe soon we may even have a pumpkin carving party again. We've already broken the seal on the chili and the wassail for this year, but I'm looking forward to sharing that with friends.

I'm planning on taking a trip to CO to see the family for Thanksgiving. That should be pretty cool. It's been a year since I've taken the kids up there. (Sadly, the reason for the last trip is no longer relevant and that didn't hit me till just a few days ago.) It might be snowing, but likely not. It'd be neat if the kids could see snow.

After that we have some choices to make about big trips next year. Rowan has band trips, but also a school trip to NY and DC. We've been weighing the costs of just sending her vs. the whole family going and it might actually be a better deal if we all went but not with the school. If we saved enough than we'll be going to DC next summer.

Finally, I'll be walking in an AIDS/HIV walk this Sunday. If you haven't, please consider donating. The money goes toward supporting the care of AIDS/HIV patients in Central Texas.

http://www.asaustin.org/site/TR/Events/Walk?px=1249722&pg=personal&fr_id=1130

I'm still trying to write more (that book about my "interesting" life) and do more Lego projects. I haven't had a robot drawing in a while but I'm trying to find some muse to get me behind the desk again. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

Carry on.

30.9.13

Maintenance

I can add "cleaned a carburetor" to lists of things I've done.

The scooter repair is coming along slowly.  For those that don't know, the ladies bought two scooters a few years ago.  They rode them a little but haven't since we moved last year.  We agreed that I could assume ownership of one of them if I got it titled and licensed and running.

So I started by trying to get it to run first.  I'm trying to schedule motorcycle safety classes as well so I can get a class M license, but the next few weeks are really full.  I've been driving the other scooter for now because it works.  The kids are able to take the bus to and from school which means no one has to drive them.  That coupled with the scooter also means I don't need to borrow a car or bum a ride to the bus stop.

Both scooters need work, but each new problem is another crash course in maintenance and restoration.  I'm just glad one is running for now so I don't feel stressed trying to get the other running.  However, the other one is a little more stable at higher speeds, which means if I really wanted to, I could take it to work.  I probably wouldn't push it on the highway, but I could take some bigger streets into town and then if I wanted to go out after I could without needing a lift or going back up north to get a car.

So it's offering a lot of freedom.  It's a little hard sometimes to realize I'm 40 and don't own my own car, but that's the way life has taken me.  I don't want for much and I'm pretty happy.  I realized yesterday as I was listening to some techno, drinking coffee and pulling apart the guts of a scooter that life could be worse.

25.9.13

First Pep Rally

Rowan played in her first pep rally this week.  Here's a playlist of the songs they played.  I'm actually a little shocked at the level of talent from 6th to 7th grade.  They sound half time bowl game ready...almost.

Link goodness.

Don't go crazy.

16.9.13

Bigger Nerd Than Me?


IMG_20130915_082443_127
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I flew up to Colorado this last weekend for my cousin's wedding. I basically flew into the worst week of rain and flooding the state has seen in at least 50 years, maybe longer.

Their wedding was supposed to take place in Lyons, CO, which is north of Boulder. However, the town was basically washed away after a large part of the Front Range got 15 inches of water in about 3 days. The town (along with a large part of Boulder) had to be evacuated.

Some of my family were the last ones to leave after the rehearsal dinner.

Luckily they were able to move the entire event to a fancy hotel in Broomfield. From a non-particpant's eyes, the entire thing seemed to go off without a hitch. The ceremony was short, there was beer and wine to drink, the food was good and everyone seemed to be in pretty good spirits.

Well, everyone but myself and my mom. I didn't think going to a wedding would be a good idea, all things considered, but I thought enough time had past and I'd be okay. It hadn't, I wasn't. I didn't make a scene or anything, but it was just a bummer and I couldn't even force myself to be happy for them. (Which is just selfish and mean of me. I really like them both.)

My mom was also not doing well. Her husband recently went through surgery to remove cancer and his recovery has been slow. Not to mention they didn't get it all and now they're weighing options on what to do next. She was also not very upbeat.

We left after cake.

Luckily I got to stay with my brother and he and his wife were happy just to hang out. My flight got in late, but we went to a karaoke bar anyway and had a lot of fun. We talked comics and sci-fi and Lego and art. It was very nice. I flew out the next morning.

My brother is likely a bigger geek than I am. He stayed in comics longer and as you can see from these photos, he still collects all manner of toy. I'm frankly a little envious of it and have vowed to begin a collection of my own. I don't know I never have. And as he said, "These are the things I wanted as a kid but never got." Now we're grown ups, we can get whatever toy we can find.

I don't know what I'd do with it all, but just looking at all these shelves makes me happy. There are worse things you can do with money. (Better too I'm sure, but at this point who am I kidding?)

So it was a good trip overall. I didn't get to spend much time doing anything, but that wasn't the point. I'll go back up eventually and I'm sure they'll all visit Texas at some point.

I hope Lyons recovers.

Carry on.

8.9.13

Trypophobia

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when an image about sent me into a panic attack.  (I won't post it here, I'm even hesitant to use this one.)  NPR posted a story in which researchers at the Centre for Brain Science at the university of Essex decided to tackle why clusters of holes gave some people such an averse reaction.

Trypophobia isn't an actual phobia as designated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  However, the definition leads one to believe that it could be.  A phobia is an irrational fear of something and the sufferer will go to great lengths to avoid it.  Trypophobia then could be catagorized as a repulsion.  It's not something you would go out of your way to avoid like a tall building or speaking in public.  Then again, you don't go looking for spiders, they tend to find you.

What the illustrated to me, however, is that there are more people than I'd thought who "suffer" from this interesting repulsion.  (Do yourself a favor, don't Google images for "trypophobia."  And if you do, I'll wait until you get back from ruining your day.)  Sharing the NPR article, a friend immediately replied saying she wanted to tell me she had the same reaction, but she had to scroll the offending image out of site before she could type the response.

Turns out, there are a lot of people who have this reaction, but the thinking is also that if you don't immediately have it (by viewing just one image or seeing one thing in nature) then repeated viewing will give it to you.  I've always had it.  I have nightmares in which the pores on my face and arms becomes enlarged.  This happened long before I knew about this categorized reaction.  In fact, the first time I was really aware of it consciously was while watching Plymptoons on MTV way back in the day.  I don't remember if it was Liquid Television that ran it, but whatever it was shocked me.

The weird thing is, it's not clusters of spots.  I'm okay with polka-dotes.  And oddly I have no problem with honeycombs or even wasps nests or aerated ground.  It just seems like clustered holes, maybe with the probability of things coming out of them that tends to send my skin crawling.  The article posted made it seem that it's a latent fear of things that are poisonous.  We may have run into animals marked this way or plants that looked like this.  All I know is seeing lotus seeds make me want to reach back to between my shoulder blades and scratch really hard.

There is a positive angle to this, however.  I think now I want to make a group of "phobia" designs for shirts or stickers.  I think having cute cartoons with your given fear on a shirt would be a great conversation starter.  It might help you get over your fears as well by confronting them.  I don't know how I'm going to ever get past this.  *shiver*

I hope you all have a good day now.  Carry on.