Archive for Personal News

Lucky

It was my birthday recently. At my age, you don’t really celebrate birthdays like you used to, especially those middle years between decade markers. So for my birthday, my family got chocolate cupcakes and ice cream.

My five-year-old had eaten his cupcake – or at least the frosting from the cupcake – and was working on his small bowl of ice cream. I asked him, “Is your ice cream good?” He licked his lips and gave me an enthusiastic head nod, “Yeah!” A moment later, he turned back to me and said, “Daddy, tonight we had cake and ice cream with M&Ms in it. We are so lucky!”

And you know what? He was right.

We are lucky. Not just because we had cake and ice cream with M&Ms in it. But because I made it another year with my family, who, in the big scheme of things, is doing ok.

We don’t have everything we want in life.

We have two used cars that we’re still paying for, both in desperate need of an oil change and a tune-up.

We occasionally find that our pantry isn’t as well stocked as we’d like it to be when there are still a few days before payday and not nearly enough money in the bank. We don’t go hungry, but there are quite a few nights where the entire family has peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.

My wife has a few small health issues, like asthma, and she and I could both stand to lose a few more pounds. Unfortunately, my son has inherited my dental problems, he’s got an issue with milk proteins, and his skin dries out faster than a fish tank in the Sahara, but he’s otherwise rambunctious and a joy to be around. My daughter likes chocolate milk a little more than I’m comfortable with, and she eats the same four things every day, but she’s smart, active, and creative.

We haven’t been to Disney World or Land. We don’t take weekend road trips to museums or state parks. My kids have never been on a plane.

We rent movies once they hit DVD or check them out from the library instead of going to the theater. We use the library or scour thrift store bookshelves for bestsellers to read. We have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime, but we borrow logins from friends and family for the more exclusive cable channels.

We sometimes have to charge gas or groceries.

We rarely go out to eat at a restaurant.

We don’t have a dishwasher, so some nights I’ll spend two or three hours doing everything by hand.

Most of my clothes come from thrift stores, though I do splurge for the $12 jeans from Costco once every couple of years. I’ve had some of my work shirts for going on a decade. My work shoes were purchased from a Goodwill for $5.

Most of our kid’s toys come from thrift stores, assuming they don’t have too many missing pieces. When we spoil them, they get a new $3 toy from Target. We only buy larger new toys around Christmas or birthdays, which we have to start saving for months in advance.

My job is fairly stable and secure, but my health premiums keep going up just enough every year that my annual raise barely covers the price hike.

I’m still paying on my student loans.

But we have enough. It’s not everything we want or sometimes even need. But we have enough.

We have clothes on our backs. We have a roof over our head (even if we are rapidly outgrowing the house that we rent). We have never had to skip a meal.

We entertain ourselves by going to the mall and wandering through the stores, looking at things we can’t buy. We go to thrift stores to find cheap trinkets that bring us temporary happiness. We take walks in local parks when the weather allows. We draw. We play board games that we’ve mostly bought from thrift stores, so we’ll use buttons to replace the missing game pieces. We sing in the car. We try to do the occasional movie night at home, complete with microwave butter popcorn.

We laugh at lot in our house. No one hits anyone else. No one is afraid. No one is dying from an incurable disease. No one drinks too much. No one shoots or smokes anything. We encourage one another to do our best. We rarely have to raise our voices. Disagreements are often solved with the flip of a coin or a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

So, yes, we are lucky, my boy. Not just because we had cake and ice cream with M&Ms in it. But because we have each other.

Recording Tomorrow

For tonight, this is my writing. Hey, I said every once in a while this is what it would be and that it counts.

Instead of writing, I wound up watching a movie with my daughter (Alpha, your typical, run of the mill Ice Age boy-and-his-wolf story), and then my wife and I talked work outs, finances, plans for the next week or so, and, of course, sharing posts with each other from Instagram, Reddit, Imgur, or Twitter. And they say romance is dead…

I’m excited because tomorrow I’m going to record the narration for my next read-along record book project. I listened to a little bit of The Thing today to think about how I want to do the narration this time. For The Thing, I intentionally tried to sound a bit monotone and serious, because it seemed to fit with the tone of the story. For this next one, I might try to spice it up a little, but it’s still a pretty dark story, so I can’t go too bright and cheery. We’ll see how I feel once I get going.

I thought about mine and my daughter’s Hellboy sequel a little bit tonight, too. I jotted down a few ideas that might help us get started in the outlining phase – mainly just an opening scene that will help introduce the characters and the current situation Ol’ Red and Liz find themselves in. I’d like to start working on that pretty soon.

Well, I think I’m going to close for the night in order to read a little more of that kid’s book I checked out from the library. The book, by the way, is called Forgotten City, by Michael Ford. This story is post-apocalyptic, which my story is not, but I’m hoping it deals with some darker ideas than you’re used to seeing in a typical kid’s book. I did already learn that you can say “smart ass” in a book for “middle grade” kids, so that helps me know where some of my boundaries lie.

Good night for now. Hopefully I’ll have some good news about my recording tomorrow.

2019: The Blog Strikes Back

Over the last few years, this website has pretty much sat vacant. I post every once in a while, but, quite honestly, not often enough to justify the $4 per month I spend to host the site. In fact, at the beginning of December, I decided that SpaceMonkeyX.com would end it’s nearly 20 year run at the end of 2018.

Obviously, I had a change of heart.

In fact, I’ve decided that 2019 is going to be the year that I write more. I’ve set a daily goal for myself to write something of substance – whether it be a blog post that I share here, work on one of the dozens of stories I have squirreled away in the cloud, write a little more of an overly-long podcast episode, or maybe just take some notes for a board game idea I’m working on. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be something.

Ya see, I miss writing. I miss the feeling of the words flowing out of me as fast as my fingers can glide across the keyboard. Actually, the words flow much faster than my stubby little nubbins could ever glide anywhere, but you get the idea.

Thankfully, I have plenty of projects to work on.

I’m actively working on another read-along record book in the same vein as The Thing. It’s been sitting idle for nearly two years and I’ve just recently made some great headway on it, so that process is already started.

I also have a long-gestating series of stories that I’ve been sitting on for far too long. This is a sprawling, pulp fiction-inspired series that I’ve been compiling images and story ideas about for years. I actually have an old Word document that starts like this:

January 10, 2007
I’ve been kicking this story idea around again…

So clearly this has been a long time coming. I just need to write the first novella to get the ball rolling and then I think I’ll be in business.

On top of that, I have a podcast series that I’ve been slowly, but surely working on since about August that I’d love to introduce in 2019. I have the first two episodes written and I’m about 1/3 of the way through the third, but unlike in the past, I want to have a bunch of these written before I record and release. I’m hoping that will be the best way to keep my momentum going so there won’t be long gaps between episodes. Hoping.

I haven’t even mentioned the story idea my daughter and I have been kicking around for a few years about a horror novella for kids. We also have our fanfic Hellboy 3 sequel that I’d love for us to actually sit down and write instead of just jotting down ideas and discussing it during early morning car trips to school.

So as you can see, I have enough to write this year that I shouldn’t have any problem fulfilling my daily goal. I just have to carve out time to make it happen.

And so, this is my first official “Write Something Every Day” entry. I know it’s technically January 2nd, but this is a goal I just decided for myself today. Close enough for jazz, as the old saying goes.

In fact, I think I’m going to keep writing on my website every day, even if it’s just to say, “Hey, I worked on [insert writing project here] today!” Maybe I can kill two or more birds with one stone by getting my allotted writing done, as well as justifying the $4 per month I pay to host this antiquated relic of the early-2000s internet.

So follow along and see how I do! Words of encouragement (and showering of gifts) are always welcome.

The Space Monkey X Audio Workshop – Episode 5: S-Town

After a little over a year absence, I’ve gotten back into the world of podcasting over at The Space Monkey X Audio Workshop with my latest, brief episode, S-Town.

Check it out when you get the chance!

Not Your Average Monster

NYAM

 

 

Yes, folks, the anthology, Not Your Average Monster!, that features my first published short story, is now available on Amazon!

You’ll find my short, Good Ol’ Buddy, on page 191, but so far everything I’ve read from the other authors is definitely worth reading, too.

Thanks again to Pete Kahle and Bloodshot Books for giving me a chance.  It was truly an honor to be selected.

Now, go buy the book!  It’s only $3.99 for your Kindle.  You’ll spend that much on a latte today.