It's May, and once again I've gone a month without blogging. I have these aspirations of weekly updates and lively conversations about gaming and parenthood - like what it says on the box - but somethimes life intervenes in such a way that I just don't get to.
So let's sum up the last month. The Good? I finished my previous semester with a pair of As, my GPA is 3.71, and if I can take my classes as scheduled, 2 per 8 weeks with no gaps, I should have my BA in Military History around Thanksgiving. Huzzah. I then plan to take a month or two off, and then dive into my MA. I'm looking forward to teaching. A lot. My little girl has learned to crawl, and is aaaaalmost standing on her own. I look at her and I no longer see a baby (sniffle) but a very cute toddler. Her brother has continued to learn, learn, learn and he wants to know all about the world. His latest fascination is with water towers. He makes sure Mary and I never miss one when we're driving.
The bad. Washing machine died. My iPhone no longer gets singal pretty much anywhere and refuses to charge most of the time. We had another minor flood - this one avoidable as someone left the tap on. The casualties were some of the brand new floor is a bit warped and my copy of Neuromancer got destroyed as it had fallen to the bedroom floor between my nightstand and the bed.
Oh, and the State apparently wants to take the kids away. They've found "fictive kin" who they believe might be an appropriate placement for the kiddos. I disagree emphatically, there are lots of problems with this move, not the least of which being that Z will not be able to communicate with these folks as he doesn't speak Spanish and they don't speak English - AND the family is already on government assistance, so adding two kids to their mix certainly won't make their situation any better. Or will it? My Dad and grandmother seem to thing that may be the point - to get more government money for having two more kids. I don't want to assume that's these folks motivation, but they are grandparent age, and I don't think they're up to chasing around a pair of toddlers. Also - Z *needs* to be in daycare. Our pediatrician and the Childhood Development folks made it quite clear that a lot of his development thus far is due to his being socialized with kids his own age. What's the plan if the kids are moved to this other family? Stay at home with the abuelita all day. The woman with which he won't be able to communicate.
At State Guard Drill two Saturdays ago, when I was having trouble with the State's sudden wish to remove "my" children, a good friend pointed out to me that the State I was about to swear to protect and defend with my life, if need be, was not only telling me I was too fat to be useful to them but also that they wanted to take my kids and give them to a family who was obviously not going to be able to give them the opportunities Mary and I can. Do I still want to serve Texas? Yes, I do - the only thing more important to me than finally getting a chance at the military service I was denied when I was younger is the preservation of my family. It does create a conflict when Texas is the entity that is trying to take my family away from me... Yes, I know they're foster children and this was always a possibility - but you try to live with two wonderful children for months and not develop intense emotional ties to them. To Z and K, Mary and I are their whole world. Our friends are their aunts and uncles. Our parents are their grandparents. They have this huge family unit that is nurturing and taking care of them. Why mess with that?
Weight loss is going well, I'm somewhere between 10 and 12 pounds down from where I rebooted my dieting for TXSG. The annoying part is between stress and having caught K's case of HMFD last week, I'm kinda plateau'd. Kicking the gym back in this week, and doing Atkins induction again. I'm juuuust barely in the 270s, I want to try to break the 260s this month. I'll call it a win if I weight 269.9 by 1 JUN. If, between diet and exercise, I can lose 2.5lbs a week, I'll consider that acceptable, marginally healthy weight loss. I know it's possible to lose faster, but not in a sustainable healthy way. My goal is to be an even 200lbs. TXSG wants me at 217, the US Army says I should be 184. I figgure 200 is splitting the difference.
Gaming... I know a couple of you out there read this rambling for my thoughts on gaming. So - here we go on that front. I am absolutely PUMPED for the release of Shadowrun 2050 - it's everything I want in a Shadowrun game, hopefully. 4A rules, and 1e fluff. The original feel of Shadowrun coupled with the best set of rules they ever published for the game. Count me in for that - I like my Cyberpunk firmly rooted 20 minutes into the future of 1987. Give me Pink Mohawk, give me cyberdecks that look like someone put a guitar strap on a Commodore 64. Jack in, turn on, drop out. Yeah, baby. Also in the news Jordan Weisman has re-aquired the rights to Shadowrun video games and is putting out a game in the vein of the Super Nintendo and Sega Shadowrun games. The kickstarter for this asked for $400,000, and it got over $1,750,000. Shows you how much love there is for Shadowrun, the old games, and the 2050s setting.
I continue to feel burned out on my major project, the Royal Dragoon Guards. I love what we've built, the characters, the stories, the history... But I just can't feel as motivated about it as I used to. That's actually a problem that's pervading my whole existence right now - there's things I have to do, but very few things I want to do. I'm kinda stuck in that terrible rut we all saw our parents in and swore we'd never succumb to. I've got work, school, and parenthood duties. Those things HAVE to be taken care of. Beyond that, there's RDG. That HAS to be done for the sake of the players. I don't really look forward to it anymore. It's work. I don't want it to go away... It's something I poured my heart and soul into for years. I just no longer get the enjoyment out of it that I used to - it's always a slog, and I hate that I feel this way. I have the occasional burst of energy that allows me to get some plot written, or have some great talks with Bobby and Ed and Scott about the direction the game is going to go... but then all that happy gaming glow just dissipates and I'm left wishing I could spend what precious gaming time I do have doing something... else.
Look, I've been the architect behind several monumentally awesome gaming clubs. The original Caladan Highland Dragoons, the USS Ark Angel, the 342nd MSG, and now the Royal Dragoon Guards. Each of them had a good run, 5-8 years, and to be honest the RDG is the spiritual successor to the CHD - they're all children of the same concept, refinements of the same dream. I don't consider any of them to have failed - because they all continued in a different form.
I suppose what I'm wanting from my gaming life now is changing back to what I wanted from it when I was muuuuch younger. When I think of the kind of gaming that would make me happy - what would really put me in my happy place - I think of a small group of friends, me and 5-6 players, sitting around a table with snacks and music, playing a really great game. The games I think of are often things that floated my boat in the 80s and 90s - D&D, AD&D, Traveller, Twilight : 2000, Paranoia, Ghostbusters, Star Wars D6, Cyberpunk/Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Space : 1889, Marvel Superheroes, Star Frontiers, Top Secret/SI, Renegade Legion, MechWarrior (early editions)... RuneQuest, Rolemaster, Pendragon...
Could it be possible that the architect in me is tired? Could it be possible that that drive within me to create something larger than myself is finally ready to admit that if something must be kept together by force of will, maybe it's just to much for me to continue to do so? Do I just need a rest or a break and the old me will come back with a vengeance?
I know for a fact that all this stress about losing the kids, coupled with things getting dicey at work with threatened staff moves and maybe even a couple of firings, sprinkled liberally with Mary's job always being up in the air and her company always on the brink of insolvency, then seasoned with being forever buried in schoolwork thanks to 8-week semesters without a real break in between them (even over the holidays) and things that keep being destroyed around the house... all this stress has me just wanting to turtle. To revert to 1987 when I loved Cheers, Night Court, Star Trek the Next Generation, and sitting in my Mom's kitchen playing D&D with my school friends. My heart and my mind want to go back to a simpler time. Classic TV takes me there. I've caught myself watching the above shows, plus SNL from when I was in middle school and high school. Listening to the music I listened to back then. Talking to friends on Facebook I went to school with and haven't seen in two decades.
I'll be 37 this year. I'm doing the things I SHOULD have done when I was in my early 20s - beginning my stint in the (state) military, and finishing my Master's. I became a father at 36, and who knows if I'll still be a father at 37. I certainly hope so. I want to be Z and K's "daddy" - Z already calls me that. I want Mary and I to be their "forever family." Despite having had lots of wonderful adventures in the last two decades of my life, I feel I wasted a lot of that time being complacent in my job here at ACC for 12 of that. I should have graduated college in my 20s, not my 30s. I should be two years away from military retirement - not beginning what amounts to a career in the militia. I just feel like I have so much "lost time" that I have to try to make up for. Using the average ages of my grandfathers I've now got more years behind than I have ahead. One of my friends who's just a few years older than me just got diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It's sobering.
So what's my plan? How do I proceed from here? Well, chummers, I plan to reach down inside myself and grab that core that is me and try to drag him back to the surface. I am *not* the stress-laden sad sack I've allowed myself to become. I'm creative, I love to tell stories and I love to share them with my friends. I'm the one people come to when they need to be cheered up, and not vice versa. I'm going to do the soldiering I always felt was my duty to do - and in the process I'm going to help people out and make my service count for something. I'm going to be the best damn father I can be to Z and K - and I'm going to fight to keep them with every tool in my arsenal. Just give me five minutes in that courtroom to weave my verbal dweomers and see if Perry Mason ain't got nothin' on me.
Gorrammit, Mal, I'm *tired* of being depressed. I'm *tired* of being tired. I'm *tired* of doing things by rote or out of habit. If there's positive change to be made, I've got to make it. I've got to keep my eye on the ball and realize that I'm only six classes away from my BA, and then I'm getting a much needed break, then I'm going to get my MA and move forward from the dead-end tech job I've worked for over ten years. The future is brighter than I've let myself believe. I've let all the clouds block out the stars when I look into the night sky. Each of those stars is a blessing in my life that I've overlooked as I've become more and more depressed with my lot. There's a star for each of my family - who are all supportive to a fault. There's a star for my friends - who are also my family. I don't know what I'd do without the family who have chosen to be a family. We can't control our genetics - but we do get to choose our friends, and they choose us back, and that's one of the most beautiful things about life. There are people in this world more important to me than myself and each and every one of them is something I should be giving thanks for more often. I've got a good home, a steady job, and a stack of bills that somehow always manages to take my whole paycheck, but there's always just enough to keep them covered. Could be worse, right?
I'm buried under all this sturm und drang. I've gotta find myself again, be happy with who I am and where I am in my life. Right now, I feel a lot of the time that I'm robotically doing the things that need to be done with the goal of making sure Mary and Z and K are fed, snuggled and taken care of and my only other goal is sleep. I run RDG stuff for the same reason - my friends need gaming, I'm providing that service to them, but as soon as I'm done discharing that duty it's time to sleep. I love my kids and my wife. I love my friends and the RDG. Whatever this funk is that's keeping me from actually enjoying them has to go. This pall and depression has to take the hell off, hoser, and go bother somebody else. I don't want the moments of happiness to be the few and far between nuggets they have been for the last six months. I remember a time - a pretty long one, really - where I was consistently happy with my lot. I loved myself, and my life. What happened to that? How do I get it back?
Dr. Lisa says I need to relax. I told her last month I would - and then I put the lie to that statement. I kept working and stressing and telling myself I would relax - but first I have to take care of X or Y. Nope - I will make time for myself. I will make time to do things I love to do. I must get myself back in battery so I can be the husband Mary misses. The Dad Z and K need so much. The friend that all of my friends miss, and are worried about. I need a massive battery recharge, and in my conversations with Dr. Lisa I think we've worked out something that will help. I talked about it in last month's blog post - but I got too busy/sick/guilted to do anything about it. Well, chummers, it's time I got to it. I wanna be myself again.
Therapeutic gaming, here I come... I hope...