Category Archives: Oot

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, musings, The Art of Letting Go, the man behind the curtain, Uncategorized | By Pat58 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, musings | By Pat31 Responses

One Good Thing #4: Henry

Allow me to introduce you to the newest member of our household.

His name is Henry.

(Say hello, Henry!)

The boys and I have become very fond of him over the last couple weeks, to the extent where I think it’s fair to say that he’s a member of the family….

We recently celebrated a family holiday, and after eating cake and watching shows and cuddling, I asked the boys what they would like more of in their lives. Because if I knew that, we could work together on getting it.

It was late when I asked, the boys were already in bed and falling asleep with the unstoppable surety of someone falling off a cliff. (I remember falling asleep like that, and I hope to again someday, but I worry it might be the purview of the young.)

But I’m a night-owl, and I need less sleep than they do. So I have an irritating habit of asking them questions just as I’ve tucked them in all snug and warm…

It was only then, standing over them in the dim light from the hallway, that I remembered that I wanted to ask them. (You have to leave the hall light on. Of course you do. I remember what it’s like to be a child.) And even though they were fading fast, I asked them: What would you like more of in your life?

Cutie’s eyes were closed, but without hesitation, yawningly, he said he wanted secret tunnels, showing he is the true child of my heart.

Oot was quiet for a bit, and I thought he’d passed out. When he finally spoke, his voice was blurry. As if he was only dimly able to focus on what I’d said from where he was at bottom of a deep well of sleep.  “Beautiful rich colours,” he said, soft and slow like he was speaking under hypnosis. Then added: “Cosy Flowers,” showing that he too, is the child of my heart.

Since then, we’ve been working on cosy, beautiful, richly coloured flowers. It’s with muted confusion that I realize how oddly domestic I have become. I feel like this should fill me with a yawning terror, like I’m forgetting my true self. The self I’ve been forever. The me who never bothered putting up so much as a poster in so many of the places I lived, let alone go through all the work of planting flowers….

Instead, I find these things to be an untrammeled delight. (Well… *slightly* trammeled. Sometimes. Depending on how careful the boys are about when they place their feet.)

And it’s how Henry has come into our lives…

(Click to Embiggen)

(Also note Oot’s side hussle: promoting True Dungeon like a champ.)

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in seeing more True Dungeon stuff, as well as dozens of other cool geeky products (including some stuff from me) Worldbuilders is having its Geeks-Doing-Good fundraiser next week. (Here’s a link you can use to follow the Indigogo. If you plug in your e-mail there, you can get a notification when everything goes live on the 21st.)

I’ll be doing a bunch of streaming to celebrate and promote it the fundraiser. Games and Q&A and discussions with special guests.

Though *that* reminds me. I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog yet, but if you didn’t already know, I’ve been streaming regularly over on twitch for the last several months. Every Friday from 1:00 – 3:00 CST, as well as other random times.

I’ll be posting the streaming schedule for the charity up here on the blog in the next couple days. As well as descriptions of of some of the kingkiller related prizes. But if you’re prefer to get live updates you can just follow my twitch channel and make sure your notifications to ON. That way, you get a heads-up about *all* the streams I do, even if they’re scheduled last minute, completely spontaneous.

That’s all for now. I’ll see y’all more here in the blog over the next couple weeks.

Until then, I hope your lives are full of rich, warm, beautiful colours.

Later space cowboys,

pat

Also posted in Arts and Crafts, Because I Love, cool things, Cutie Snoo, day in the life, One Good Thing, The Terror of Domesticity | By Pat38 Responses

Ain’t no Party like a Worldbuilders Party ’cause a Worldbuilders Party don’t….

Hey there everybody!

Yesterday, on the final day of the Worldbuilders Fundraiser, we crossed the line into a million dollars. For real.

Despite the trash fire of 2020, this year’s fundraiser has been our most successful in years. (It’s even possible it’s our most successful *ever* but I won’t know that until I’ve gone back and looked carefully at all the numbers.) And, of course, the day isn’t over yet, there’s still time to jump in….

All this success is because you folks, of course. Y’all have stormed in, donated, boosted our signals, and told your friends.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Last year we did an experiment that went quite well. So this year, we’re turning it into a tradition.

You ready?

(Bam!)

Or, for those of you who prefer more info in your info-graphic:

Simply said, today (December 16th) we’re going to celebrate this year’s amazing success by doing a bunch of livestreaming. We’ll have guests stopping for discussions, I’m going to play Minecraft with the boys, we’re going to show off videos for the stretch goals we’ve achieved, and tell some old, beloved stories…

…and talk about the amazing things Heifer does, like turn poop into fuel.

And we’ll show off some of the amazing donation incentives that are available in this year’s prize draw, like the Wyrmwood tables…

Wyrmwood Asset

And our unlocked stretch goals/prizes.

After Party Unlocked Stretch Goals

And our other more different extra double prizes…

After Party Splash Image 2020

(Did I mention there’s a lot of prizes?)

There’s even more prizes over on the page, and as the donations keep coming in, I keep pulling more stuff out of the vault and offering it up.

There’s already a favor ring in the mix, by the way…

If you just want to jump on over and see what we’re doing, here’s our rough schedule:

Pat's 2020 EOY Fundraiser After Party Schedule

If you just want to head over to the stream, here’s the link…

The reasons we’re doing the Afterparty are manifold, but here are the main two:

1. Tradition.

Those of you who have been following Worldbuilders for a while know that our end-of-year fundraiser used to look a lot different than it does now. For one thing, it used to be exclusively run off of my blog, and it used to run for an entire month.

Except it didn’t. For years and years, we ended up extending the fundraiser out past our initial ending date. Sometimes it was because we had a last minute sponsor we wanted to showcase. Sometimes it was because some chaos or catastrophe threw us off schedule. Once it was because we got offered some matching money and we couldn’t bring ourselves to say no to that. Once things got so out of hand we extended *past* Christmas and the whole fundraiser spanned over seven weeks…

And some times we did it just for fun, or because we’d gotten into the habit.

This year, we’re deciding to continue the tradition in a different way. We’re taking one final day just to appreciate how lovely this community is. To put a bow on it. To show off some of the lovely things people have done. To relax and have fun and enjoy our success.

And, of course…

2. To give the latecomers one last chance.

What usually happens the day after the fundraiser is that I go into a deep, healing Odinsleep. When I emerge, I peek on social media and I invariably see dozens of people saying, “Oh no! Worldbuilders is over?!? Did I miss it? Can I still donate?”

And I get that. This is a busy time of year. Finals. Holiday planning. Family travel. Or maybe you’re just like me and tend to put things off to the last minute and then kinda forget about them.

But still, it breaks my heart to see those messages.

So. One extra day. If you were meaning to donate. Now’s your chance. If you were going to tell your friend about us, you’ve got a few more hours. If you were going to spread the word on social media, now you can use this amazing gif to do just that.

(Ooontz Ooontz Ooontz Ooontz Ooontz.)

* * *

So yeah. C’mon over and take one last chance to win fabulous prizes while making the world a better place…

Remember, every $10 you donate still gets you a chance to win all manner of coolness. And if you donate on my team page, you’ll be eligible to win even more.

Hope to see a lot of you over on my livestream tonight.

pat

 

Also posted in cool things, Interviews, Uncategorized, Worldbuilders 2020 | By Pat9 Responses

Games and Podcasts and Swords and Coins and Cows and Stuff…

So… yeah. That’s my best title to a blog ever. Big wordsmith here….

We’re more than halfway through our big yearly Worldbuilders fundraiser, and we’ve just blown by $750,000 raised.

Statistically, I don’t know if it’s our best fundraiser ever (I’d need to unpack some math before I could say that conclusively) but I do know we’re doing amazingly well even without taking into consideration the fact that there’s a pandemic, economic turmoil, civil unrest, and probably a plague of locusts by the time I manage to finish writing this.

As I hope you know by this point, we’re giving away a bunch of cool things to everyone who donates. I won’t go on and on about it here. But if you want some details about a bunch of the Kingkiller specific stuff, you can head over to my team page and check it out.

 

There are actually way *more* stretch goal prizes that have been unlocked. But we keep hitting them so fast that it’s hard to keep the graphics updated.

I doing a ton of streaming these days too, obviously. Bunch of archived video over there. Panels and me playing games and answering questions.

I’ve also been doing some streaming with the boys, mostly minecraft stuff.Just today we wandered around and showed off a big chunk of what we’ve made in our minecraft world.

 

Oot’s Cow Jar page is doing very well. It’s currently at about $16,000 dollars, and Oot is delighted to have raised enough for over 32 cows. Both he and cutie have painted some pictures they’re giving away on the page.  And we’ve set up a stretch goal where anyone who donates on his page will get access to a special minecraft server where we’ll all play together.

So if that sounds like a good time to you, you can wander over and check that stuff out.

I’ll be streaming for the duration of the fundraiser, including a big D&D game later today that you probably don’t want to miss…

In addition to all of that, I’ve done a couple podcasts lately, and I thought I’d throw you some links in case y’all were interested in checking them out.

Where I’ve been:

  • All My Fantasy Children on the ONE SHOT Podcast Network

Episode 160 – Cradlecatch the Untrod

  • Lawful Stupid

Flash In The Pan – The Episode with Patrick Rothfuss

  • Desert Island Discworld

4.6 Patrick Rothfuss & Thud!

 

There’s a lot more, too. But that’s all I’ve got in me for now. It’s after 4 am, and I’ve got to be up in the morning.

Remember that the fundraiser is over on the 15th, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, you might want to head over there before it’s too late….

More soon,

pat

Also posted in appearances, Cutie Snoo, podcasts, Worldbuilders 2020 | By Pat7 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, musings, the man behind the curtain, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat121 Responses

One Good Thing #3

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, One Good Thing | By PatComments closed
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