A Little Nate Inside You

I promise this isn’t self-erotica…wait that would be masturbation and this will be a form of masturbation and with that sentence at least half my audience has left and with that sentence I may have proven or started to prove why everyone needs a Little Nate inside of them.

Or maybe not.

We shall see.

People who have known me for a long time (we are speaking long time in human terms not geologically speaking) have at one time or another told me a story where at some point…

“And I heard your voice (or could see what you would do)…and I did the opposite (or did not do what Little Nate said).”

Perhaps you know someone like me who speaks his or her mind (opinionated, judgmental, asshole), is blunt (rude, tactless), and has no problem saying those things that you are thinking (horrifying, embarrassing, funny). If so you are a lucky individual indeed (in my opinion), because most people will not share what they really think. I like that level of honesty, even when directed at me. I understand that most people do not.

Having an uninhibited nature to do new things or behave in a manner not consistent with societal expectations, witness the way I dress, helps a lot. Suffice to say, you cannot take me out in public without something happening. And I am okay with that.

Why am I okay with that, because for me this works. Even when the shit hits the fan, my way of living works…for me. Smart people do not try to be me. What I do works for me because I am me. Not so smart people, try to do what I do in word and deed and get into a lot of trouble. They do not have a Little Nate inside of them, they have rejected the lessons that can be learned.

tyler_durden_airplane-sceneAccept the lessons of me through the process of internalization; put a little Nate inside of you…and do not do what Little Nate says he would do. Little Nate is not the devil on the shoulder, that devil is your own impulses. Little Nate is a step beyond that, a metaphorical Tyler Durden, if you will. The way you would like to react if you could get away with it.

Little Nate will get you into trouble.

How do you get your own Little Nate? You manage to survive around me for several years. This is not easy. I am not an easy individual. I am fine with that. One day you will be fine with that, especially when you hear Little Nate tell  you how he would handle the situation you find yourself in and you smile and do the right thing.

I have my own Little Nate…wait…no, that works too…sometimes I find ignoring my own voice hard and…you know this has crossed over into self-erotica. To those friends and family who have a Little Nate inside them, thank you for sticking around and keep on ignoring Little Nate as this Nate will get you in more than enough “trouble.”

And now for a picture of a house with a pole in it.



Holiday Knee Not Writing

Back from break, but not back from break with new material. Hold on, don’t rush to judgment. I spent the holiday exactly like I hoped and wanted, doing nothing related to writing at all.

Barb made a Thanksgiving feast: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brown-sugar glazed carrots, salad, glazed sweet potato slices, cranberries, apple something or the other (while I cannot remember the name for the life of me it tasted great), and rolls. All made at home, nothing out of a box.

The grandparents and a friend came over on Thanksgiving. A word of advice, if trying to find our place do not use mapquest, you will get very lost. Other than lost, the day was great. The grandparents saw our place, got to listen to the boy play the trombone, eat great food, and listen to our girl discuss her love of birds, her love to catch birds and teach them tricks…mostly pooping in other people’s yards. By the end of the night, everyone was well fed (overfed in several instances), and happy.

The next day, Paul stopped by for a few hours of conversation and more food. Barb made a lot of food. Another overfed instance or two throughout the day while talking about the nature of life, philosophy of the ancients, and how we could become better people. No, we talked about video games, movies and lots of fun things. Our boy did not entertain with the trombone and our girl kept her bird capture and poo plans quiet.

Now, at some point during the weekend I injured my knee. Not the knee on the leg with the ankle Shawn White messed up…okay, Shawn White’s snowboarding game and I must point out, I did win the game…but the other leg. I have no idea what I did, but it hurt a lot. I had to stand to relieve the pain or sit with my leg up. Getting into bed or the car, major pain.

So overfed and knee pain, the rest of the weekend passed watching football, hockey, the occassional food show, although the longer Food TV is on the further away from prompoting food they seem to get and closer to promoting their brand, which seems to be “stars” and crap merchandise. I pulled out the writing a few times, but nothing clicked. Just not the time.

If there is one thing I heed when writing is “not the time” mood. Forcing writing, to me, is worse than not writing at all. I didn’t want to fix forced writing. Thus, I spent until an hour ago, not writing. I thought about writing, particularly how to address a section of the game that gave me problems before the break. And the break worked, today once the writing started, the section flowed.

So here I sit, leg extended, hoping I do not need to get up anytime soon, writing once again. 🙂

Hope everyone had a good holiday.

My Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

No other holiday comes close for me.

I enjoy watching the kids open their presents and that really has been my favorite moment of any Christmas, but a day later nothing has changed other than more toys lying about.

New Years was another excuse to party, but those days while not necessarily gone (the party has changed) the situation hasn’t been setup for parties of any kind for a while. Thus New Years is an excuse to…well nothing different at all.

I like my birthday, okay I love my birthday, but retail marginalizes Halloween in ways I cannot stand and with children the day is supposed to be about taking them trick or treating…except we live in a region where the weather is unusually cold, wet, snowy, or a combination of all three.

Thanksgiving regardless of where we live is always good. A day of great food, mediocre television, thank deity for video games and videos. And, when opportunity permits a day with friends and family. It took us a few years to convince people that Thanksgiving would be our day. We would not travel anywhere. Instead people travel to us for great food and companionship.

Our best Thanksgivings, the place where we lived filled with friends. Our worse Thanksgivings, just us. The difference? The volume of noise. Best and worse still ring out strong in my head with fond memories of things I was thankful for that year. Top of the list each year, the people at the table, my family and friends. Without them I would not be the man I am today.

This year is no different. While this year has not gone the way we planned, hoped, ore even expected. There have been more deep downs than exultant highs, this year has been about the people around me. Support, words of encouragement, listening, and all of the other ways people let other people let one another know they care. That is the thing that stands out most to me in the plus column, big and small people I know showing they care.

For those who like lists here is my list of things I am thankful for, off the top of my head.

Friends and family without you I would not be who I am there would be less walls, guidelines, reasons to do more, and fun.

The place we live, after five years of some of the most hellish conditions we have ever been in (and I lived out of a car for a while) this place while not the prettiest on the outside (getting better every month) has been the happiest we have been in a long time. The children play in the yard, doing all of the things children do or used to do-bikes and kites. No longer do they dread going home, they want to come home so they can play outside or inside (really crappy weather today).

Time to do, five years of college lead to a sense of non-stop go-go do and do a lot of things that while in the interest of college were not necessarily of interest to me. Since graduating, I have started to learn to take and make the time to do for me. This change resulted in some changes in…a lot of things, this blog for one thing. Speaking of which, I am thankful for you the reader. Hopefully you are enjoying the change and finding value in what you are reading.

As I said above, this year has not been a good year for us, but we have stuck together persevered and continue to move forward. While my list of things I am thankful is numerically small, it is of great value to me: people, place, time, sense of self-satisfaction and worth. Those are priceless.

Enjoy your holiday, however you celebrate it, take a few moments to think about what you are thankful for and I will see you in a few days with more Puddles and Whiskers among other stories in Stroud. 🙂



Tomorrow Is…

…going to be a stressful day. Tomorrow is commencement ceremony. You know where graduates or presumed graduates walk across a stage, shake some hands, and then sit down for a long while. I will not be partaking in the ceremony other than as a babysitter and observer. Nothing wrong with this in my head, we have a situation and it is being taken care of in the best way possible, just like the last 5-years.

If I am sitting (sitting on babies) and watching why is tomorrow going to be a stressful day? My family wont be in town; seems that the only hotels in the town (I think four) have been booked for months now (pretty presumptuous of some people I think), thus stress from visiting family reduced to zero for me. Barb’s family will be driving to visit and that will be stressful for her, because visiting family is always some form of stress. This is the way of things.

Mostly I expect the stress to be in the form of the usual stupidity that goes along with any event, especially any event held here. After Barb freaks out all day about one thing or another, sure she says she won’t freak out, but this day has been ten-years in the making and there will be something that does not go the way she has in her head, thus some form a freak out. Mostly minor I am betting, but still there will be that stress in the background all day.

As I understand the event it will be a cattle call, scheduled for an hour-and-a-half, but guaranteed to run two or more hours. How bad could that be? Well it starts late. In fact, it starts right around the time the children are getting mentally ready to go to bed. They will be, by the time Barb starts walking, sleepy, bored…very bored, and most likely even though I will have fed them before hand bored hungry which is worse than being hungry. Even better because this is Big Rapids there will be no place to go eat afterwards unless we want fast food. I guess a taco or burger is the perfect way to celebrate graduating…we shall see.

Seating seems to be first come first serve and nobody has made any plans to coordinate. Thus, while there should be one section of family, I am going to bet that there will be two sections of seating and we will not see each other in passing. On one-hand probably a good thing, remember family stress and all of that. On the other hand, family and all of that.

I’m hoping I don’t look too out of place with children distracted by iPads and other video game products and honestly, probably me using the WiFi to stream a movie until names I recognize are called. I do love some Deadpool or Fight Club.

For those people hoping to see me walk, sorry I will be sitting on electronically distracted babies. I will be dressed differently as well which may make finding me difficult.

500 Words At A Time: The Same

The end is in sight and on a calendar as well. The question has popped up, “What would I do the same, if I had to do this college experience all over again?” This question has a flip side of “What would I do differently?” and that is how I am approaching this topic, because there are things I would do exactly the same way or at least in a similar fashion. Those things I would do differently, in another 500 Words. 🙂

Program: I would choose the same program, Technical-Professional Communications. The English degree at Ferris is closer to a Literature degree and I like to write. The skills I learned, adjusted, refined, and defined took me from someone who knew enough to be dangerous to myself to someone who can craft many kinds of documents for a variety of audiences. I have seen these skills put into action and the results amaze and please me greatly, and those people who get better grades because of my assistance.

Family First: I would not change my attitude of family first. I missed many classes due to family and while it caused me some issues here and there, I am glad that I put them first. Choosing family over school is a choice that most students will not have to make, but if you do let your professors know up front. They will (or should) appreciate your honesty and if they have children understand your position. College will take a lot from you, try to lessen that impact upon your family where you can.

Grades: I did not care about my grades as many a professor learned. Passing or failing were not things that concerned me, other than for my own sense of satisfaction. I went into re-college as a lark and ended up taking classes very seriously, but at no time did I fret over my grades. A letter is just that a letter. What I learned is more important. I can tell and show you what I learned. A grade is only a letter.

Home: This will show up on the other post as well. Living on campus had several benefits. The best was centralized location. From our home we could walk to main campus, take the kids to school, and grocery shop. Having a roof over our heads that we didn’t have to worry too much about was nice as well. The neighbors for the most part were also good; our girl made her first real friend here and we got to know a few families before they moved.

Friends: I did not make a lot of friends, but the friends I did make I value. I would not change this. Being an older individual, even an outlier such as I, made friendships and relationships with fellow students difficult at times. Older individuals doing the college or re-college thing will have to make up their own mind about making friends with fellow students. I do highly recommend, regardless of age, making friends or at least acquaintances with professors. There are many opportunities and benefits to having a professor as an acquaintance. Many more as a friend.

The list of things I would keep the same may not seem that large, but they are all keystone things that without them I would not have ended up where I ended up and I am happy with this current final destination.



Teaching Games (edited)

Teaching. I enjoy teaching others how to do, play, and so on. This weekend has been a lot of teaching. In this case teaching other people about games. I guess there is a certain teaching them how to play games, but to me that implies that I am teaching them how I play a game. I would preference that they learn the rules and that they learn how to play each game in their own way, thus not playing the game like I do. Thus, I spent a lot of time demonstrating and eplaining how to do things in the games.

Our kids like playing Minecraft, but they are horrible at teaching Minecraft to other people. So horrible, that adults have stopped playing altogether because of the horrible instruction. It was no surprise when a friend of theirs no longer wanted to play with them. After four or five game of Minecraft, the friend only knew to do what our kids did, which was fly and place blocks. The friend did not know how to craft, how to mine, or even what tools did what. That irked me, because I have spent a good chunk of my life teaching others how to play games and thought that they were learning how to teach games to people from watching me. Nope.

I spent about two hours with the friend, showing him the basics. The very basics. Here is how to craft. Here is why you need a lot of wood. Here is what happens when you use the wrong tool on a block. Here is how you mine in a successful, non-my kids way. And here is how you can tell what each block is just by looking at them. This was all beginner stuff and despite having been pulled through the tutorial by our kids, the friend wasn’t able to learn anything. How could the friend learn anything, when our kids are giving him the “express toutorial” consisting of “look here” and “see this” and “this does this?” Today, post Minecraft, his mother who had been watching me teach the friend, sat down to play for a while. Which lead to more lessons.

Rise of the Runelords has returned, we have a fifth player. With a new player comes teaching them how to play. Minecraft is easy to teach compared to Pathfinder Advenure Card Game. The first thing was picking out a character. Then explaining the character card. Then the cards that form the character deck. Then the game. Then the pieces of the game: locations, monsters, boons, and so on. Teaching a person about Pathfinder Adventure Card Game takes longer than showing them, but showing them leads to all sorts of questions and problems that are out of context. This is why I chose explanation first, then play.

The first game went better than expected. We won, which is always good, but more importantly the friend got to see all of the explanation in play and how the game works. There are plans to play another scenario tonight and that is always a sign that teaching went well.

500 Words At A Time: Going Back To School Is More Than…

As an adult with children, going back to school is more than simply going back to school. In fact, going back to school has been the easiest part about going back to school. Even when a semester is total flaming shit storm and I want to walk away, there is more structure to school than there is to any other part of life and maybe, just maybe, that is why life seems to intrude upon school and not the other way around.

I have a life or had a life depending upon whom I am talking to before going back to school. Sure my life consisted of writing, gaming, and cooking, but it was my life on my schedule. Other things worked around my life, not the other way around. Thus, if I wanted to take an hour to write, other than an emergency or feeding the kids, I took an hour to write (not that the kids let me have that hour). 🙂

As I wrote about previously, classes and the day-to-day minutiae of attending college are a huge time suck. There have been times where I felt like I barely had a minute to myself, let alone that hour from so-long ago. Is this reality? Probably not, but having school on your mind close to 24/7 really does mess with your sense that your life is your own; I could write something, but don’t I have something school related to do? Even if I don’t, I think I do…

I have two children to take care of. They rely on me for most everything because I am the person who is nearest. I take them to the bus and I pick them up from the bus. I watch over homework and graded assignments. I cook for them. Hell, I cook for everyone. The problem is that school has to be fit in around the children. Messed up right? The children take priority, thus if there is a choice between children and school, their needs come first. If I can I try to accommodate school and children, but if the children are taken care of, school replaces a lot of what would have been play time with them. Can’t say I am happy about that, but that thought of “When this is over” I will have all the time I need to play with them crops in right after the thought of “Isn’t their some school work to do?”

Trying to find time during the day to do all that I need and all that I want to do is a challenge. A challenge that is not in any of the college brochures, tours, or sales pitches. I don’t think if it had been I would have changed my course of action, and the skills I have learned and mastered juggling school, family, and life are certainly useful long after we are gone from here, but there are times, like now, when I have time to ponder; I wonder if what I gave up will be worth what I am supposed to be getting out of the process? Maybe that should be in the brochure…

Next few 500 Words, Research. It will be more interesting than it sounds.