Category Archives: musings

An Appropriate Dosage of Hope.

So I’m downstairs, making breakfast for me and the boys.

This is an elaborate and arcane process. It involves more wandering in and out of rooms than you might expect, and trying to remember what I meant to do there. Plus a fair amount of esoteric behavior like looking for a spoon that I’m sure I was just holding…. but it’s not here anymore. Was I holding it? Is this a Matrix thing? Was it some sort of fucking magical elf-spoon?

(It was not a magical elf-spoon. Alas.)

Some of the reason for this is because part of the breakfast I’m preparing is coffee (for me, not the boys). And that means I haven’t yet had my coffee. And that means that daddy needs his medicine. And by medicine I mean the literal drug that I literally take because I want all that ergogenic mojo all up in my headbrains and bodymeats. And by daddy I mean literally me. Because I am that.

(Who’s your parasocial daddy?)

I can’t blame it all on coffee though. Some of it is just me being groggy. And some of it is me thinking about everything at once, like I do. And part of it is probably some of the ADHD (though I still never know how much to point the finger at that, as I’m still knew to that diagnosis. And it seems unfair to lay *all* my disorganized bullshit at the feet of that particular acronym.)

Nevertheless, as I walk past the end-table, hunting elusive faerie cutlery, I see my little pill-box thing.

(Because this is my life now. This is who I am, apparently.) 

First I have to figure out what fucking day it is. And yeah. It’s Thursday. But if it’s Thursday, why are there still pills in the little Thursday pill home? But I’m pretty sure that I remember taking my meds this morning. That’s why the pill thing is here, right? Because I carried it downstairs when I was getting ready to take the pills….

But the pills are still in there.

So I look at this thing, and I say, “I don’t know if I took my meds already.”

I have to make something clear here, I’m not talking to myself. But at the same time, I’m not really asking my kids for advice on this, either. Because while I value their thoughts and feelings, they shouldn’t be making certain decisions. They’re 7 and 11 years old, respectively. They’re wise beyond their years and off-the-charts articulate, but *I’m* the one who needs to fucking figure out whether I’ve taken my meds.

But why am I saying this out loud then? I honestly don’t know. I do tend to process things out loud more often when the boys are around. Maybe that’s how we’re wired as primates, to talk around our children so we can model our decision making process.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m talking it through, saying, “Do I risk missing my meds entirely, or do I risk doubling up on my meds? If I double up, will that make me really scattered, or will I be Super Productive today…?”

Without missing a beat or breaking stride, Oot walks behind me and asks casually, “What’s the LD-50?”

I turn to look at him, not quite sure what I just heard. He’s doing something at the sink now. “Did you just ask me about the LD-50?” I ask.

He turns to look at me, nodding. He’s not above showboating. He likes being clever. And if there’s a pedantry gene, he has it (and he got it from me) but right now he’s not doing that. Or if he is doing it, he’s gone next level and has realized the value of the slow-play. Maybe he’s learning that less is more…

Either way, he’s just looking at me with vague curiosity in his big, serious eyes, as if he can’t understand why my tone would be incredulous. As if he doesn’t know why I would be impressed that he remembered the concept of LD-50. Something I didn’t learn about until my junior year of college. Something I’m pretty sure I only mentioned once to my boys a couple months ago, probably when I was dosing Cutie with antibiotics during a recent deeply shitty medial adventure.

“Yeah,” he says.

And I just start to laugh. I go over and hug him, laughing. And I keep laughing uncontrollably for at least a solid minute.

I know I’ve laughed in surprise before. (That’s one of the big theories about laughter, actually. Some folks believe true laughter, [Duchenne laughter] only erupts as a symptom. It’s the result of a sort cognitive fuse being blown when we experience something that goes contrary to our expectations. The cognitive and neurophysiological roots of laughter is one of the many odd rabbit holes of research I’ve gone down over the years, as I used to consider myself a bit of a humorist. But that, as they say, is a blog for a different day…)

Anyway. I’m laughing. And while part of this *is* surprise. It’s also just joy. I don’t remember laughing out of real joy before I became a dad. It’s been happening a fair amount this last year as these boys continue to startle me with their kindness and honesty. They startle me by actually remembering things I’ve told them. And not just remembering. They actually understand and internalize and make use of this stuff, too….

You might wonder why this surprises me. I mean, why on earth would I be dadding so hard if not to this exact purpose? Why would I be spending so much time and energy trying to teach them stuff, if not so they would learn it?

And… yeah. I mean. Of course. That’s the dream.

But if I’ve learned anything over the last decade, is that you can care a lot, and work really hard, and do your level best… and in the end all you get for your trouble is double therapy and trouble sleeping at night. So these days I fight to keep my expectations modest. It’s the whole Buddhist thing: Taṇhā leads to dukkha. Desire causes suffering. Hope is the highwire without which you need not fear a fall.

So I try not to hope too much for the boys. The world is hard enough, and life is heavy enough. They don’t need my expectations weighing them down. I just try to take them as they come and enjoy them for who they are.

But oh it’s hard. These boys, they’re pretty great.

It occurs to me that I sat down to tell a cute (if slightly braggy) story about my kids, and it’s turned into something else. I can’t be surprised at that, though. Most people think that writing is just expressing what you already think or feel. It’s transcription. It’s explanation. I used to think that, too, way back in the day. But not for decades. Now I know better. For me, writing is almost always a process of exploration and discovery. Not always, but often.

You want to know the *real* truth? I originally started to write this little story as a *tweet* and instead it turned into a thousand word maunder where the upshot is that I’m surprised my boys actually listen to me. In some ways that doesn’t seem like much. Hardly worth the work or words.

But on the other hand, what’s better than your kids listening to you and then turning around and reminding you of what you’ve shared? What more could I hope for?

And there we are gain. Back at hope. And hope, you see, is a hell of a drug, and while that doesn’t make hope bad, it does make it dangerous. Maybe it’s just that way for me though. Maybe I have hope sensitivity. Or whatever the hope-appropriate version of drug-intolerance is. Maybe it’s that when it comes to hope, the Effective Dose is way too close to the Lethal Dose for me.

But these boys. I tell you. They are such a wonder and a delight. And so, despite myself sometimes, I hope.

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Because I Love, day in the life, Oot, The Art of Letting Go, the man behind the curtain, Uncategorized | By Pat84 Responses

The Double-Edged Sword of Empathy

So a couple days ago, while I was in the middle of doing some promotional streaming for our charity fundraiser, my phone rang.

Even though I was in the middle of a live-broadcast discussion of mental health, I still tried to pick up. But, since the phone was muted, I was slow and I missed it.

Then a text came in:

“Oot would like to call you about a baby bird he found.”

As soon as I’d wrapped up the stream, I gave a call back. My eldest boy put me on speakerphone. (He is only 11, a stripling youth, and therefore does not know that this behavior is anathema. Plus I love him, so much is immediately forgiven.)

(A rare sighting in the wild)

While they’d been out camping, he explained, his little brother (Cutie, 7) had spotted a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. They were worried about it, and they wanted to bring it home.

Did it have feathers? I asked. Or was it still pink with its eyes closed?

Kinda some feathers, he said, but it was pretty pink. And yeah, its eyes were pretty closed.

Did you try to put it back in the nest? I asked.

It was way too high up, he explained. They could tell it was the right nest because they could hear the other birds up there peeping. He was obviously hungry because he kept opening his mouth, but he wasn’t very loud.

He and Cutie had a theory that maybe he was weak because he wasn’t very good at peeping up for food. Or maybe his mom had pushed him out of the nest because he wasn’t a very loud peeper.

Or, I offered, maybe it might not be able make much noise because he was hungry and weak.

Oot pointed out they’d already fed him some oats mashed up with some water. Also, he added, they really wanted to bring him home and take care of him.

(The Byirb in question)

This is what happens. You read to them. You talk about emotions, and listen as best you can. You celebrate and encourage their empathy… and then they grow up wanting to save baby birds.

And oh, I love them for it. And at the same time I worry I’ve done them a bad turn despite my best intentions. Because we need that empathy. It is, in my opinion, the defining human characteristic. But it is a double-edged sword. When you have a lot, it gets really heavy. And you can’t just pick and choose. You carry it all the time. And all too often it feels like it’s got no handle either, so you just kinda walk though your whole life constantly cut up and bleeding….

And I love that they’re like this. I love that they want to save baby birds. I wouldn’t want them any other way. But still, they’re *my* baby birds. And I want to keep them safe from both hurt AND harm….

But I can’t keep them from the world, and I can’t keep them from being who they are. It’s just hard, knowing part of your job as a parent is to let your children be hurt by the world.

It’s going to be a lot of work, I tell him. It’s helpless, and it will need care and attention. Warmth and food all the time. Even in the middle of the night….

Oot says he knows.

And there’s a really good chance that the bird won’t make it, I say. Even if we do everything right. Even if we’re really careful, there’s a good chance that it’ll die.

Oot replies that even if that happens, at least we’ll have done our best. And if we do everything we can, we won’t have to feel as bad. And he says that at the very least, if we’re keeping it warm and fed, it will know that someone cares. If it does die, at least it would know (as much as a baby bird can know anything) that someone was there for it at the end. It wouldn’t have to be alone.

(They named him “Mr. Cheepers.”)

These are the things my son explains to me. Or maybe I say them to him. I honestly can’t remember, because the truth is that I’ve said those things to my children in the past, and now they say them back to me. It’s a hell of a thing, having children that listen and remember. It warms my heart and breaks it all at once.

So I tell him of course he can bring it over. And I’ll help them do research. And I’ll help them take care of it. And we’ll do our best. And I tell him that I love that he cares as much as he does.

Then I hang up the call and get ready for the bird to die before he even gets home. Or to die in the night. Or to die after we’ve taken care of it for two weeks. I need to be braced for it, so if it happens I won’t be blindsided and hurt too badly. So if it happens I can ease the boys through the experience…

But they get back with the bird just fine. What’s more, it turns out there’s a place that takes baby birds and cares for them. It’s only an hour away.

I ask them if they’d like to take the bird there, rather than have us take care of it ourselves. It will have a better chance with people who know what they’re doing, who know birds and how to care for them…

And they surprise me by saying yes. Which is impressive in a whole different way. It shows that they don’t just want a pet, or to be the people who nurse a sick animal back to health. They want what is best for the bird. It’s selfless in a way I didn’t expect.

So that is why I spent almost three and a half hours driving through the twisting back roads of Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Phone ran out of battery. Got lost.

But at the end of it all:

(Yay!)

There is a clarity in crisis. When something is very wrong, it’s easy to know what’s important. That means you can focus. That means it’s easier to decide what you can do. This is why crisis can be oddly comforting.

(This is why a lot of us do odd things: like fantasize about the zombie apocalypse, or inadvertently create or promote crisis in our own lives.)

The trouble is, of course, when you have multiple crisis to choose from. The older you get, the more you know about the world, the more you realize that there’s an endless all-you-can-stress buffet of calamity going on every day. I spend a long time on the horns of dilemma, wondering which fire I should be throwing water on. Fascism or the Pandemic? Fighting homelessness or hunger?

Or, just to pick something entirely at random… should I spend my evening trying to save a baby bird, or should I spend it trying to promote my charity fundraiser that only has a few days left?

In this case, I chose the bird. I’m conflicted about that. I’m proud of Worldbuilders, and the work we do has improved the lives of tens of thousands of people over the last decade. What’s more, the current fundraiser is important for the financial stability of the charity. A lot of the products over there are things designed to appeal to my readers. So it feels like there’s no better person to promote them than me…

(Case in Point.)

It’s hard for me to remember that other people *can* spread the word about the fundraiser. And no matter how hard I hustle, nothing works better than word of mouth. Either people will be excited enough to buy stuff and tell their friends during the final days, or they won’t.

On the other hand, I *was* the only person who was going to save this baby bird. And the only person who could have this particular little adventure in empathy with my boys…

So I’m trying hard to count this one as a win. I saved a baby birb and was a pretty good dad.

If you want to check out the cool things Worldbuilders is selling, you can head over here.

Later space cowboys,

pat

Also posted in babies, baby ducks, Because I Love, Cutie Snoo, day in the life, Oot | By Pat34 Responses

The Tenuous Serenity of Not-Knowing

As I start writing this, it’s the morning of November 4th. The day after the election. It’s an event I’m guessing folks will eventually refer to in historical if not straight-up superlative terms: The French Revolution. The The War of 1812, The Tungusta event, the Election of 2020.

(Actual Footage)

This is, as they say, a big one. It feels melodramatic to say, “This is the election that will define America,” but it’s probably true. More than that, I hope this *isn’t* the election that shows what America has become.

Despite the fact that the election was yesterday, I don’t know the results. I did what I could leading up to the event. Donated money to places that fight voter suppression. I helped make arrangements so everyone who works for me or Worldbuilders had the day off so that they could vote or support other people who wanted to vote. I’d made sure friends were voting. Years ago, I started a newsletter with the hope of urging people to political awareness/activism, and it’s been trundling along quietly ever since.

Of course, this morning all I can think about is that I could have done more. That I should have done more. I always feel like I should be doing more.

Nevertheless, I don’t know how the election turned out because last night I focused on spending time with my boys. After I finished my afternoon meetings, we went for a walk. Then we made dinner plans. Then I read them a chapter of Slow Regard. (Something I started a while back on a lark, I wondered if they would enjoy hearing me read, and was startled at how into it they were. I could write an entire *other* blog post about what that’s been like all by itself.)

We read together and we cuddled. We brought the empty garbage cans back to the house. Did some chores. Had a feelings talk. Made and ate dinner together. Cleaned up and did the dishes and had our evening treat:

(Tim-Tams sent to me by the lovely folks at Ludo Cherry.)

Then we did our fun thing for the evening. We were going to watch Kipo and some Adventure Time. But when the time came, our mood had shifted, and instead we watched some Youtube videos: one about a guy called Rollerman, and another about people who do that thing where they jump off mountains and glide like flying squirrels.

After each video, I told the boys that I loved them. I told them I would always support them in whatever they chose to do in their lives. I told them their bodies belonged to them, and they were the only ones who got to decide what happened to them.

I also told them that I admired these people in the videos. And that flying down a mountain looked really cool, and part of me wishes I could do it. And that I was glad that there were people in the world who were willing to pursue amazing feats like that.

BUT I also told them that they could never do either of those things. Ever. They agreed.

We then watched some Minecraft videos. (We’re partial to the flavor of brilliant madness produced by Dream and his friends.) After that, the boys told me that while my choices were my own, and I was an adult and free to do as I liked, that I should never *ever* mine straight down. Especially when I was in the Never and wearing all our best equipment. I agreed.

We have a good relationship.

Then it was washing face and hands. Brushing teeth. And, because we managed to hit our bedtime, we got to read, so I read them the final two chapters of Slow Regard, and we talked about it until they fell asleep.

That was my evening. At no point did I poke my nose onto the internet to find out what was happening with the Election. There was nothing I could do at this point but worry, so I avoided it. This is a skill I’ve been trying to develop this last year: The Life-Changing Magic of Sometimes Just Not Thinking About It. (TM)

Today, I still don’t know what’s up. It’s the boy’s busiest school day, they each have three zoom classes. Breakfast and lunch. Tidy the house. A little e-mail. Setting up a video play date. There’s a lot to keep busy with…

(One of the things I’m keeping busy with is this blog. Pecking away at it here or there. Right now Oot is having his virtual Spanish class while Cutie is listening to the audiobook version of Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess. (Yup, there are novel versions of the amazing comic. They’re both written by the Foglios, and if you buy it off that link you’re *also* supporting Worldbuilders.)

But here’s the thing, as the day progresses, I still don’t want to get into my e-mail or on social media for fear of seeing news about the election. Don’t want to message anyone for fear they’ll let something slip and shatter my fragile not-knowing.

Last night this was such a good strategy. I was proud of it. I was peaceful. I felt I’d made a healthy choice and enjoyed quality time with my boys rather than engage in pointless, self-destructive media engagement.

But today I’m walking on eggshells. The boys and I rake leaves and I think, “Surely if Trump was voted out, one of my friends would have pinged me with delighted crowing… so that must mean he’s still in.”

Then I think, “Surely if Trump was still in, one of my friends would have been unable to avoid howling in agony in my direction, so he must be out?” Plus I’m pretty sure it would be raining blood and the sky would be the color of burning tar.

But nothing is happening. It’s a really nice day out. We rake crispy bright-coloured leaves. We eat pickles and biscuits and soup for lunch. The boys practice their knitting.

I know something big must be happening, but right now it can’t touch me. I’m in an odd liminal state that reminds me nothing so much as when my mother died.

That’s a story I don’t know if I’ve ever told on the blog. Simply said: I got the call in the middle of the class I was teaching. I had a strict no-phone policy, but I’d told my students I had family stuff going on, and I might have to answer the phone if a doctor called. I stepped into the hallway, found out she was dead, then went back into the room and taught the rest of the class. Then I taught my next class too. Only they did I go home, get in my car, and head down to Madison to spend time with my Dad and Sister.

When I came back to Stevens Point two days later, I hung out with a friend. It’s so odd to think of now. I haven’t had local friends in ages, so the thought of just meeting someone casually for lunch seems so odd. Doubly odd now, as after the last 8 months, just the memory of eating in a restaurant feels surreal.

But back then it was odd for a different reason. This was back in 2007, two months before my book was published. Way back when I had local friends in town. All of them knew what was going on: that my mom had the sort of cancer you didn’t get better from.

I wasn’t on social media in a meaningful way. Social media didn’t really exist in the same way back then. The only reason I’d finally caved and bought a cell phone at all was because my mom was sick. As a result, my friend didn’t know my mom was dead.

When we got together to hang out, I didn’t tell them. Part of it was the fact that I couldn’t imagine how to bring it up. But the bigger part was that if I didn’t tell my friend the news, for the space of the meal I didn’t have to live in a place where my mom was gone. Down in Madison everyone knew. We were making funeral plans. Consoling each other. Offering support. I was soaked through with the incessant oppressive reality of her utter non-existence.

But my friend didn’t know. They weren’t sad about it. They didn’t mourn at me. Didn’t offer comfort. That meant that back in Point, for the space of a meal, things could just be normal a little while longer. Just for a while.

That’s what I feel like today.

As I finish writing this blog, it’s 3 AM on November 5th, two days after the election. I spent the day with my boys and despite my best efforts, I’ve become dimly, inexorably aware of the fact that it’s not just me that doesn’t know what’s up with the election. Apparently everyone’s in a liminal state. I still haven’t checked the news.

I’m not sure if I’ll post this. It certainly won’t be the first blog I’ve written and then left to lay fallow here.

If I do launch it. I hope y’all are doing as well as can be reasonably expected. I hope you’re experiencing a flavor of not-knowing you enjoy, or at least find pleasantly palliative. I hope for all of us, this isn’t merely the joyful bliss of an unseen iceberg. I hope for all of us, it’s more the tense uncertainty that comes before opening a gift you’ve been desperately desiring.

Or, if not that, a gift like the ones my grandfather gave me ages ago: a pair of soft pajama pants, wool socks, traction grips that fit my shoes for ease of winter walking….

Not gifts I wanted at that age. Gifts that were, quite frankly, annoying and irritating in the moment. But also the only gifts I used for decades afterwards. Gifts that improved my life in small, meaningful, persistent ways.

Here’s hoping,

pat

Also posted in a ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms, Cutie Snoo, ethical conundra, mom, Oot, the man behind the curtain, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat121 Responses

Bracing for Impact…

Hey there everybody – long time no blog.

This year has been… a year. It feels like it has stretched on forever. Endless and interminable. Like I’ve been living Zeno’s year.

In other ways the time has blurred by. I feel like I’ve spent the whole year running from emergency to emergency, trying to put out fires.  And now, after all of it… the fires are kinda still there? They’re not worse for the most part, which is nice, I suppose. But it feels like I should have more to show for this than singed hands and a collection of not-as-bad-as-it-might-otherwise-be crises smouldering sullenly around me.

It’s kinda like treading water, except with all that burning talk in the previous paragraph that analogy doesn’t work, does it? I’m mixing a metaphor really badly. Maybe I’m treading fire instead.

Anyway. What I really mean to say here is that I feel bad that I’ve been… away. Absent for a longish while. I haven’t streamed as much on twitch. Haven’t gone to as many conventions or signings. Haven’t completed a lot of projects I was hoping to finish and share with y’all. Haven’t finished any of the blogs I’ve started. Hell, I haven’t hardly been tweeting this year.

But time and tide wait of no man. And whether I lost this year to fire or water, whether it was fast or slow – It’s November now, and that means Worldbuilders is nigh upon us.

I feel unprepared, and overwhelmed, and… oddly grateful.

Here’s the thing. There’s a lot of stuff in the world I can’t fix right now. A lot of stuff in my life I can’t make better, try as I might.

But I can do some charity. I can feed some hungry kids.

You guys want to come along with me and make the world a better place?

*     *     *

This year the Worldbuilders fundraiser will run from December 3rd to the 17th.

If you’ve been around for Worldbuilders before, there will be a lot familiar there. We have thousands of prizes, fabulous auctions, videos about goats… I’ll be livestreaming and hosting discussion panels with other cool geeks and luminaries. We will have surprises and spectacles galore…

Before the madness sets in, before it all starts, I want to make sure you know how much you all mean to me. So many of you show up for this every year, and that is one of the few constant and unswerving joys in my life. One of the few things that never fails to warm my bitter old heart.

You are my people. Cut from a similar cloth and yearning to do something good in the world. You don’t know how much that means to me.

(Just remembered this picture someone made for me, based off a blog I wrote.)

Now to be clear, this blog isn’t the announcement of the beginning of the fundraiser. It’s just a heads-up. I’m letting you know you should brace for impact.

The fundraiser is only two weeks long now where we used to run it for an entire MONTH. That means once it starts, it’s going to come on hard and fast. If you miss even a couple days, you’ll miss a lot.

If you’re excited about what’s coming up, and you’d like to lend a hand or to start preparing for the coming storm, we have a couple ideas:

  • Wanna help us spread the word?

This is always a challenge for us. How do we get more eyes on the coolness that is Worldbuilders?

We’ve got two ways you can help:

1. Bring a Friend.

This is the simplest thing we’re going to ask people to do. Not just bump things around on social media or share links. (Though that *is* a lovely help.)

This year, we’re asking those of you who already love Worldbuilders to recruit one person and bring them into the fold. Like a cult.

Nope. Wait. I’ve just been told we’re not going with that. Not like a cult. Our branding people are 100% not cool with me comparing our charity fundraiser to a cult.

Mabye we’re more like a secret new Hogwarts house? No… they’re saying no. Copyright issue there. Maybe a gang? They’re there scowling at me now. How about a club? A cool club that you love and you want to share with other large-hearted people who enjoy winning cool prizes and making the world a better place?

So yeah. I mention that we’d like to bring more people into the fold now, so you can start to think about who your best target might be. So you can study them. Track their movements. Make a list of their weaknes…

Nope. Wait. Again. They’re shaking their heads very firmly. Not that.

Just give it a bit of a think. Odds are, I’m guessing you know someone out there who would love the chance to do some good in the world while also having the chance to win cool books and games.

And if you happen to know a *bunch of people…

2. Plan your own page.

This year, we’re letting people create their own fundraiser pages as part of the main Worldbuilders Event.

This means you can create a place to rally a group of people around. You can make a page for your book club, your church, your local co-op or Comic Book store. You can make a page and tell your family that for Christmas, you’d like a donation there instead of a gift. You can make a page and tell your friends if they manage to raise $300 (enough for clean water for an entire village) you’ll *finally* run that Call of Cuthulu game they’ve been bugging you about for years.

You can do anything you want with your team page, really. We’ll be throwing the doors open for you to create them on the first day of the fundraiser.

But you can start your planning now….

  • Want to Leverage your donation?

Every year we get some folks who donate large chunks of money, but don’t care about winning prizes. Sometimes they’ve approached us directly and asked if we wanted to use their money for matching donations to encourage other people to donate.

It’s a great strategy. So this year we’re inviting people to do that if they’d like to. To effectively come in as sponsors to the charity in the same way a publisher or a game company would.

But before I give you the contact e-mail, I have to explain something.

Many of you may remember Thera from Last year’s fundraiser. She’s the one that rallied my own people against me and pushed for this abomination as a stretch goal:

See, Thera is a big fan of John Mulaney, which is right and good, as the man is brilliant.

Anyway, I mention all of this as context so you understand why she chose this particular e-mail as the way to contact us at our very professional charity if you’d like to offer up some matching money:

[email protected]

So… yeah. There you go.

  • Help us take some money off our corporate overlords?

Guess what? Turns out a lot of big businesses offer corporate matching money if their employees donate to official, federally recognized charities.

A charity like, just to pick a name off the top of my head, Worldbuilders.

Mastercard, for example. Offers a *double* match. So if one of their employees makes a $100 donation, Mastercard kicks in $200 of its own making it $300 total.

I’d like to compile a list of businesses that offer matching deals like that. I’m guessing a lot of you work for places that would gladly back your charity play and you don’t even know it.

So. If you work somewhere that offers something similar, and they recognize Worldbuilders as valid recipient, can you mention it in the comments below? We’ll dig through our records too, and start a compiling a running list here at the bottom of this blog?

What’s more, if you check and discover your company needs something from Worldbuilders to get officially recognized, ping us at the address above and we’ll jump whatever hoops they require so we can get hold of that sweet, sweet corporate honey.

That’s all for now. Thanks for sticking with me to the end of the blog, and until the end of the year.

I’m looking forward to surprising you over the next couple weeks.

pat

Also posted in How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, trepidation, Worldbuilders | By Pat57 Responses

A blog, if only barely.

Hey there everyone,

You know that thing that happens sometimes, when you slowly drift out of contact with a friend? Something changes in your life, or maybe a few things, and you slowly start to see them less often. Call them less often. Talk less often.

And before you know it, it’s been *ages* since you’ve talked. And it just feels weird reaching out for no reason? And it feels weird reaching out when you *do* have a reason too, because then you worry that it seems like you only give them a call when you need help moving a couch or digging up an old friend’s address.

I don’t know if that makes any sense to you. I kinda hope it doesn’t. It’s a lousy feeling. It sucks to drift away from friends.

For those of you who do know how it feels, or can imagine it…. well…. that’s how I’ve been feeling about the blog lately.

Except it’s not that simple. I still think of stories that it would be fun to tell…. but the thought of putting them up here? It wearies me. I feel so tired all the time lately. And it’s not just that I’m too busy, underslept, and behind on everything. It’s not just that the world is very heavy on me lately, and I’ve been having trouble finding joy. It’s not just that my dad passed away last year….

Did you know I’m the oldest person in my family now? I have no grandparents left. No parents. There are four of the Rothfuss name left in Wisconsin. One is my little sister, and the others are my boys. I love my sister, and the boys are a delight. But it is strange to be eldest. And it is strange to be so alone.

This is the other reason I don’t write much in the blog lately: A lot of my thoughts are not cheerful. I am not full of cute kid stories and musings on the nature of love. Lately I think about the fact that I need glasses to read. Which may seem like a small thing to you, especially if you’ve always worn glasses. But for me? I’ve read a book or two a day for my entire life. I’ve spent more time in my life reading than… probably any other activity. I’ve always been able to pick up a book and just… go. Just leave for somewhere else. I’ve lived so many other lives in so many other worlds.

And now I can’t do it any more unless I wear glasses. It’s like I’ve spent my whole life being able to travel to Narnia and now someone put a lock on the wardrobe door….

See? That’s some bummer shit right there. Who wants to read a blog about that? And I don’t know if it’s good for me to spend  hours of my life writing down my grim maunderings about the shape of the world and my own impending mortality. It would be like a shittier version of The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock where I replaced all the literary allusions with me shouting the word “fuck” all the time.

Anyway, I was just poking my head up on here to say… well… I guess I’m saying that I’m sorry we’ve been drifting apart, you and I. (And by you, I mean my blog, and the people who used to enjoy reading it.)

I hope we can figure out how to have fun together again at some point. I’m going to try posting up some little blogs soon. Just small things so that maybe  can remember what it was like when we just goofed off on here. I could show off presents people have sent me. Or talk about the time I got to hug Telly.

Poor telly. What a terrible expression of existential dread. I’m so sorry.

Anyway. That’s all I have for now, folks.

Take care of each other.

pat

 

P.S. Also, for those of you who are into games, stories, and/or The Name of the Wind, there’s a cool storytelling game happening on kickstarter right now. The folks from Brotherwise games reached out to me a while back, and I liked the game enough to let them develop a 75 card expansion for it based off my books.

There are only 3 days left in the kickstarter. So if you’re the sort of person who loves kickstarter exclusives, you might want to hop on over there and check it out. 

Sorry that I haven’t mentioned it before now, but like I said. The blogs… they haven’t been coming so easy lately.

Maybe I’ll try to do a little blog where I show off some off some of the cards they’re prototyping for the game tomorrow. That might be an easy one to do… Help me get back into the swing of talking about fun things.

Anyway. Yeah. If you’re curious, here’s your link.

Later Edit: I just left a comment on my blog for the first time in a while. That new Gapcha is…. interesting. I think it’s going to be irritating in the long run though. I’ll see if I can find something a little less time consuming….

Also posted in a ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms, emo bullshit, gaming, the man behind the curtain | By Pat427 Responses

Podcasts Galore….

Heya there everyone,

Things are busy but good here in Rothtopia. Emphasis on busy. I have writing to do, projects to manage, e-mail to ruthlessly prune back, a relationship to enjoy/maintain, kids to cuddle, charity coolness on the horizon, and secrets things to work on….

Not to brag or anything, but I would like to say that on any given day I consistently manage to do at least two of these things. Sometimes three.

Unfortunately, that leaves little time for blogging. Which is a shame, as I enjoy telling stories and sharing news with y’all.

Because I’ve been otherwise tied up, there’s a bunch of stuff I’ve done lately that you might not know I’ve done lately.

For example, here’s a few podcasts I’ve made little guest appearances on over the last couple months.

MBMBaM (My Brother My Brother and Me).

I know I’m late to the game, but I only came to know about the marvelous McElroy brothers over the last 8 months or so. Oddly enough, I discovered them through Griffin’s Amiibo Corner, which is a delicious slide into divine absurdity that I love with a fiery passion.

For those of you out there who live under a heavy rock similar to mine, and therefore don’t know about the McElroy brothers, they are a vast treasure trove of delightful things.

480x270_16669(They’re pretty easy on the eyes, too. Rawr.)

I had a great time answering questions, giving (mostly bad) advice, and talking about parenting stuff with them on their afore-linked podcast.

Magic tavern.

When I was out at Pax East earlier this year, I got a chance to sit in on a live recording of the Magic Tavern Podcast.

PAXEastTavern(Actual Footage)

For those of you who don’t know who don’t know the premise of the show: A guy fell through a portal behind a Burger King and ended up in a fantasy world, so he does what any red-blooded geek would do, and broadcasts a podcast from the tavern there with the help of a wizard and a talking badger.

IFkuVFM(Y’know, like you do.)

And if that doesn’t make you curious about the show, I don’t know what will.

Also, if you’re into this podcast stuff, I’m assuming most of you already know about the podcast that Max and I do roughly every week.

Max & Me Podcast.

But if you don’t know for some reason, there’s a link to it. So you can do what you want with that.

Also, since I’m giving y’all a heads-up of where you can find me doing things other than here on the blog. I occasionally do some live streaming over on my twitch channel. Sometimes I play a game, sometimes I give writing advice or answer questions. It kinda depends on what mood I’m in.

But if you go there and follow the channel, it will send you an alert when I do a livestream so you have a chance of catching me live, which is a big deal, since that means you’ll have the chance to say things in the chat that I don’t pay attention to because I’m too busy mining space ore or getting blown up by orcs.

Alternately, the videos are archived on the site as well.

That’s all I’ve got for today, but stay tuned. I’ll be sharing my schedule for PAX soon, as well as telling stories and sharing other news.

Be good to each other,

pat

Also posted in appearances, podcasts | By Pat5 Responses

Cutie, Crying, and the Weirding Way

I was just laying in bed with Sarah and our youngest child. He’s just a little bit over one year old.

little bug

Codename: Cutie Snoo. (Because I don’t like using my kid’s real names online.)

I don’t know how it works in other households, but in ours, a lot of the day-to-day kid activities end up happening on the bed. Sarah has a huge king-sized mattress that just rests on the floor. Partly because she likes it that way, and partly because low-to-the ground beds are easier and safer for kids.

Anyway, I’m laying in bed with Cutie. I’d come in to hang play with him when I heard him wake up from his nap.  A little later, mom joined us, because she has the boobs, and boobs make everything better.

Cutie was laying between us, nursing (on Sarah) while she and I were talking.

Then, unexpectedly, Cutie rolled over and pushed a little baby spoon he carries around with him at my mouth.

It surprised me. It bounced off my lip a little bit, and hit my teeth. It hurt just a little, about as much as it would if you poked me in the mouth with your fingernail. We’re talking… like… half a newton of force, tops.  Not enough to crack an egg.

Still, it surprised me. And it hurt just a little.

So I looked at him, and I said, “Ow.”

Didn’t shout it, didn’t bark it. Didn’t even do my disappointed dad voice.

I mention this because over the years I’ve learned my voice is a powerful thing. Where my kids are concerned, I’m one of the Bene Gesserit. I’m the Kwisatz Paterach. I’m Black Bolt.

I’m not sure why this is, exactly. I’ve got a pretty good baritone, but it’s not earthshaking by itself. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been a teacher. That I’ve been a singer. That I was a performer who never really liked using a mic until the crowds started topping 100 people and I was forced to go electric.

Maybe it’s all of those things together. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I discovered early on in my parenting career that if I wasn’t careful with my voice, I would terrify my children. Once, back when he was about 16 months old, I barked Oot’s name at him from the top of a stairway and he went into fetal crouch, trembling with animal fear.

I felt like king asshole of the universe at the time. I still do. As a parent, you slowly build a portfolio of memories. Things your children will never remember, things that you will never forget.

Standing at the top of the stairs, looking down at my terrified boy, I thought to myself, “You need to get this shit under control right now, Rothfuss…”

So I did. Slowly. Over many years.

All of this is to say that I’m very careful with my voice these days. I don’t bark. I rarely even snap or get a little sharp in my tone. There’s no need, just a little disapproval in my voice is like iron to these tiny little faen creatures I have flitting around in my life.

So. Remember where we were? Bed. Cutie. Spoon.

I looked at him and said, “Ow.” Not because he hurt me, but because I want him to know that he *can* hurt someone. He needs to learn to be careful.

“Ow,” I said. Softly.

Hearing me, Cutie turned away, facing back toward mom.

“He was trying to give you a bite,” she explained to me.

I nodded, only understanding then what he’d been trying to do with the spoon. It’s a game I’d seen Cutie play with her, but he’d never done it with me before.

Looking down at him, Sarah’s face goes concerned, then she looks up at me. “He feels bad,” she says.

Then Cutie gave a little sob. It was tiny, but it was one of those deep ones. One of the ones that comes out of you in a lump: “Uh-huh.”

When you’re a parent, you learn the different types of crying. You learn to recognize the panicked cry of a baby that’s hurt. There’s the “I can’t believe you took that away from me” cry. There’s the “I’m tired and can’t hold my shit together” cry. There’s the rare, furious red-faced rage rage rage cry. There’s the “Where’s Mom?” cry.

This wasn’t any of those. It went, “Ah-huh” and it was nothing but sadness. One sob. Pause. Then another. Then he was really crying.

He felt bad. He was sad that he’d hurt me.

I read something somewhere that said children start to develop empathy when they’re 3 years old.

I’d like to officially go on the record as saying that is bullshit.

Cutie is 13 months old. He can speak about 10 words, and those he speaks badly. He can’t run, or jump, or eat with a spoon.

But he feels bad when he hurts someone. This is something some adults have yet to learn.

He’s is my boy. My sweet boy. I am so proud of him.

pat

Also posted in babies, Cutie Snoo, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, Oot | By Pat30 Responses
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