11 January 2014

First Post of the New Year

...and it's 11 January.  Wow.  Life has kept this Old Dragoon busy.  Let me describe briefly what my Christmas vacation consisted of:  I got two weeks off work.  Woo hoo!  What did I do with those two weeks?  Well...  Family obligations, road trips, a term paper, and two days of work on my State Guard unit's web site.  I had two days I had set aside to do nothing with.  One of those got taken up by shopping for a new refrigerator AND dryer, as both had died on us during December.  The other was going to be sleep late, read, and go see The Hobbit.  My best friend had a flat on her car, so sleeping late turned into getting moving and taking her to the dealership, but we still saw The Desolation of Smaug.  In short, I liked it- better than An Unexpected Journey.  Perhaps I will blog more on that later.

  Taking stock of my posts over the last year, it's clear I lost my one-post-a-week juju and really fell off over the end of the year.  Once I got into Grad School what time I had evaporated.  I totally underestimated the amount of time and energy Grad School would take.  I am in the middle of a semester in which I will complete 9 hours, one 16-week course and two consecutive 8-week courses.  The 8-week courses are perhaps a bit optimistic.  The pace is frenetic, the readings impossible to complete with kids and work and Guard, but I managed to pull an A- out of my History of Peacekeeping 1945-1987 class.  I hope to blog more consistently this year, but I can't promise weekly until I graduate.

  I have found that my priorities have changed drastically from who I was before I became a father.  They tell you it will happen, and folks like myself tend to resist any notion on the fear that they will "lose themselves" somehow.  On the contrary, I think this experience has helped me find my core being.

 Fatherhood- This is pretty much my top priority these days.  Zane and Kaylee and my family/friends.  This is not a bad thing.  It's actually pretty awesome.  My kiddos are, for the moment, following in Daddy and Mommy's geek footsteps.  As I type this, Zane is sitting to my right watching Thundarr The Barbarian, one of their favorite shows.  I introduced Zane to roleplaying games with the excellent Hero Kids game.  Kaylee was running around our home at Christmas time waving her new lightsaber in the air and yelling "By the Power of Grayskull!"  I love my kids.  I love reading to them, playing with them, watching them learn and grow.  OK, I'm kinda sad about the growing part, and kinda happy.  Bottom line is I'm pretty sure if I was making myself as a FATE character, I would include fatherhood in my high concept aspect.

Job/School- I just got told by a friend not to be, in her words, an "Asian Mom."  What she meant was that an A- is not  a bad grade, and I should stop kvetching about my ruined GPA.  She was right.  Grad School is eating my life.  I am in front of this computer every moment I'm not engaged with the kids, and I'm really tired.  The grind is disheartening.  When this semester ends, I'll be 33% of the way through my MA, and I should be done with all my classes at the beginning of March 2015, unless Mary successfully convinces me to postpone my last classes so that I will not be in class during the holidays, which were terrifyingly stressful to me this year.  The week of Christmas was also the week my term paper was due, and my little brother Cody's wedding.  I had a hell of a time getting everything I needed done that week, and Christmas is the wrong time to be stressing over school.  I was working on homework on Christmas Day.  There's something wrong with that.
  School is a priority because it will unlock the ability for me to start teaching, instead of doing IT.  Being realistic, I'm still going to be doing my current day job for a few more years as I build up a teaching resume as an adjunct.
  Now, my day job is a conundrum.  Most of the time it's pretty simple, since I seem to be born with a decent grasp of customer service.  During the average semester it's pretty low-key, but between semesters, like this last week, is balls-to-the-wall.  It's busy, and we all finish by the skin of our teeth - and it doesn't have to be that way.  I really don't want to get into the technical side of it, but suffice to say we know we can do what we need to do much more simply and quickly than we do- we're just not allowed to due to a staff member who is engineering things so that they remain indispensable to the department.  I have lost the will to excel.  I do what needs doing, and not much more.  Why?  Because my peers at work do even less, and not a word is said, nothing ever done.  Some of them are consummate "get over" artists and there is never any penalty.  Some of them make more money than I do.  So... I need the job to finish school, and to give me time to make it as a professor.  I just no longer have any faith that the things that need to be addressed at work will be...

Gaming- This is the priority I wish was second to the kids, as it encompasses more than just playing games.  For me, the gaming hobby also encompasses writing, studying the history of the hobby, entertaining my friends, and crafting social organizations.  It's not just rolling dice.  I've developed a particular affinity and interest in the roots and history of the hobby over the last year, reading books like Playing At The World and Of Dice and Men.  I've been reading rules systems from the dawn of the hobby, from Chainmail to Top Secret to Boot Hill.  It calms me and entertains me.
  I guess I also include my fandom activities in gaming.  As XO of the Starship Texas/Royal Dragoons I have a lot of fun running game club events.  There's more than a little frustration there, too, but once I graduate and can turn more energy toward the club this stuff will sort itself out.  I wish I could say that I would finish some projects or start new ones this year, but with school going on I really can't make any promises there, either.  Most of my energy goes to the kids and passing my classes.  If I can clatter dice a coupla times a month, that will help keep me sane.

Guard- Sadly, now that I've been in Guard for eight months, I'm not finding it anywhere as satisfying as I had hoped.  My duties have thus far consisted of web site work and document creation.  I had hoped for something a little less like what I do for a living.  Also - after my epic struggle to lose 54 lbs, I have gained 15-20 of it back.  I am deeply ashamed of this, and am working to correct it.  I make no excuses, save that being a graduate student coupled with stress, holidays, and eating out a lot due to the fridge being out of commission did a number on my figure.  My uniform is now tighter than I'd like, and I'm embarrassed to put it on.  Thinking about the next drill or web tasking just stresses me out.  I keep wondering when I'll get my enthusiasm back.  When I swore in, my first question was how soon I could apply for Officer Candidate School.  Now?  I keep looking for a good reason to pull the loud handle.  What keeps me in the Guard is my friends- we joined as a group.  We're there to support one another.  I keep thinking if one of us leaves, it will trigger an exodus either out of the Guard or to other  units and other opportunities.  I don't want to be the pebble that starts the avalanche.

  So, for the record's sake, that's where I being 2014.
  • Fatherhood - Loving it, can't wait to see what's next.
  • Work/School - Becoming jaded and ambivalent about the sadly necessary former; ready for the latter to be OVER already.
  • Gaming - The one thing keeping my brain sane outside of my kids.  Need to stabilize my gaming time, and maybe write here and there as time permits.  Especially here on the blog.
  • Guard - Time will tell, but right now not what I had hoped or signed on for.
So... my next post...  I will reveal the gamer archaeological  awesome that I got over the Christmas break.

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