Skip navigation

Category Archives: Real Life

In which I am supposed to leave my home only for the essentials.

I’m in the 4th week of not working, and it’s more than a little surreal. My library has been closed since the middle of March due to COVID-19. In the last few days, I’ve played on the backyard swing set and slide with my kids, shoveled 4 – 5 inches of snow off of my and my neighbor’s driveway, read a couple of books, re-dyed my hair (thanks, V), participated in a couple of games of D&D online, soloed the last few missions of Halo 4 on Heroic, maintained my elliptical running schedule, and done some baking.

But I’m keeping up with my grad school stuff, first and foremost. 

It’s kind of fun, because a lot of the information from my classes has places where it overlaps. At this stage in the semester, I’ve been able to cycle through some material faster because I’ve already covered a form of it in a different class. 

Oh, and I’ve registered for classes for the fall, too. Right now, I’m signed up for a library admin/management class, a class on integrated systems in libraries, and a course about literature and young adults. I’m pretty psyched for the YA class, because it will be my first elective! If all goes well, I’ll have knocked out all but one of my required classes within my first two semesters. That’s pretty exciting. Oh, and the integrated systems class is a half semester course, too. It’ll be a front-loaded semester, but once I’m halfway through, it’ll ease up a lot going into the winter break. On top of all of that, one of my classes is supposed to be with a professor I currently have. It’s shaping up to be a really good semester. 

Our governor has ordered residents to stay home whenever possible until at least April 26th, so I know that I have at least two more full weeks of quarantine ahead of me. I’m going to try to knuckle down and get through the last few weeks of the school year. My semester ends on May first. Holy shit, my semester ends on May first… Uh… Anyway…

After that, I may have some free time for whatever again. I’m trying to read/write more, but I always say that. I always mean it, too. 

But tonight, it’s late, and I’ve got to help teach/grade some homeschool stuff for my stepdaughters in the morning. Gonna go curl up in bed with a non-textbook and fall asleep. 

I have made it to mid-semester.

Seven weeks down, seven to go, with a few glorious days of breathing room in between. I’m going to try to get some early work done for next week, but I’m also going to be reading some stuff for fun.

So far, so good.

Good afternoon, everyone! I promise that I am, in fact, still alive, despite the best efforts of parenthood, full-time employment, and grad school.

I’ve almost made it to my mid-semester break, and I’m honestly feeling pretty good about this whole thing. It has, however, made it more difficult for me to keep up with my usual pace of writing for fun. I’m still working on a full review of the other best book that I read in 2019, Tamsyn Muir’s beautifully dark Gideon the Ninth.

But fear not. These things and more will arrive for your reading pleasure in due time.

Meanwhile, I’m taking three online classes through Clarion University. Organization of Information, Information Sources and Services, and Intro to Information Professions. It’s a pretty solid introduction to the whole job that I hope to be doing when I’m all done, and a decent refresher course on a lot of what I currently do.

For now, though, I must go. I’ve got a presentation on Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to complete.

 

WordPress has informed me that today is my 9th anniversary of setting up this blog.

It’s pretty close. My first post was on the 20th of January, 2011. Either way, I’ve been at this nonsense for almost a decade. Thanks to those of you who have put up with me for so long, and thanks to those who have joined along the way.

Things have changed a lot since the outset of this blog, and I’m happy to say that I’m a better person than I was back then (albeit still not a published novelist, but hey, you win some, you lose some).

For the foreseeable future, stay tuned for poetry, short stories, book reviews, and random insights into my current status as a grad student.

2010 was a terrifying year.

I was loving my life, the end of my senior year of college rushing at me. I had no idea where I was going to go. I had summer employment and housing lined up through my university, and I was throwing job applications at anything and everything I was remotely qualified for, but the dread of having to move back to my home town, even temporarily, was looming.

It’s been nearly 10 years since I finished my undergraduate career. I got through 7 years of underemployment, balancing part-time jobs and substitute shifts. I’ve had roommates come and go. I’ve struggled to make rent (and struggled to ask for help with rent). I’ve seen an employer file for bankruptcy. I’ve been in a car accident. I’ve attended the funerals of my father’s parents, and those of too many friends.

But there has been joy. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and made new ones. I’ve fallen in love. I’ve gotten married, had children, bought a house. I’ve found a career that is fulfilling. I’ve traveled around the world (Korea, Hawaii). I found a pirate crew. I’ve won trivia competitions. I’ve expanded my horizons beyond what 2010 me ever would’ve believed possible.

And now, in 2020, I’m going back to school. I’m a full-time library specialist, full-time dad, and full-time student. I’m reading, writing on the side (as, well, always), and running pretty much exclusively on caffeine. So really, not all that much has changed. But I have. I’m a better person than I was ten years ago, and I can only strive to continue the trend in the next ten years.

2020 is a terrifying year. But I’ll get through it, and so will you.

Today, I’m sitting in my recliner with my toddler, listening to his nonstop chatter about the Duplo car in his hands.

Tomorrow, I am hoping that the weather will cooperate enough for me to make a painfully short trip back to my home town.

Wednesday, they will bury my grandmother, my Oma, my father’s mother. Both of his parents are gone now, reunited in the afterlife they believed in. I do not want to miss her funeral. I was a pallbearer when my Opa died, and I will be honored to do the same for his wife.

Thursday, my wife and her parents will celebrate Thanksgiving, a rare occurrence that they get to spend that particular holiday together, though hopefully more frequent in the years to come. I hope to be there, again, if the weather cooperates, and my travel from home is not impeded.

On Friday, I will go back to work, putting in as many hours as I can to prepare things for the inevitable arrival of our second child together. I am hoping that he doesn’t attempt to make an appearance too early. Because right now, that’s my big fear. Not the impending blizzard, not being able to get to my parents’ house in between waves of storms. I’m afraid that if I go, I’ll get stuck, and new baby will decide that’s the time to show up.

So, yeah. I’m going to make the most out of today, because there’s a lot of joy and sorrow to be found in the days ahead.

While I’m not sure if it will disprove foolishness, I am, in fact, headed back to school for the first time since 2010. I recently applied to and was accepted at Clarion University for their online Masters of Library Science program.

Registration for classes for the Spring 2020 semester starts on Hallowe’en, so I’m currently in the process of creating my “road map” to my degree. Clarion’s program requires 36 credit hours for graduation, and 9 hours per semester for full-time student status (in the grad school tracks).

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about tackling grad school, especially since V and I are expecting another baby in December. However, this is the best time for me to push a little harder for a better position with my library, and the MLS degree is really the only practical way to do that. Thankfully, Clarion allows me to pursue the degree from the comfort of home, without requiring travel (since the University of Denver is the only in-state option for the program).

I chose the path toward librarianship with my first work study job at UCCS when I was a freshman, and I continue walking it today. Thanks to everyone who has supported my work along the way.

So, over the last few months, I’ve been playing D&D again, and it’s been the best thing. Since 5th edition first released, I’ve only dabbled in it, occasionally running games for some of the local teens (though usually only a couple of days out of the year). I’d only gotten to play in a couple of one-off sessions, never really going beyond the basics.

Then my in-laws mentioned the possibility of a game. Between D&D Beyond and Skype, it’s workable for us to play together, despite being scattered around the world (though timing is a trick).

Now I’m playing a bard for the first time ever (I’ve been playing 3.5/Pathfinder since 2006, but never had the chance to play one), and I’m having an absolute blast. V and I are playing gnome twins, a bard and a warlock. It’s been a great way to connect with my brothers- & sisters-in-law, and get to share our mutual love of D&D.

I don’t usually play spellcasters or support characters unless I’m running the cleric, and that makes Valcryn a pretty new role. It’s fun learning how to best utilize his blend of inspiration and other buffs/debuffs. It has ended up especially hilarious since he’s not the face of the party, with that role somehow falling to my brother-in-law’s human fighter, who has both lower charisma and strength than the gnome bard.

It feels so good to be rolling dice as a player again, y’all. But of course, I’ll be getting back into being a Dungeon Master soon too. We’re going to be working on teaching the children to play 3.5, so that they can appreciate where we came from, and how we got to here.

“Grab your lucky d20, folks, because things are about to get dicey.”

When I was 11, I met Brian Jacques. I had been a fan of the Redwall books for a couple of years at that point, and a friend invited me to go to the Tattered Cover in Denver for a signing. It was February 21st, 1999, and a three hour car ride with my friend and his grandparents each way seemed like nothing.

The signing was in celebration of the release of Marlfox, the 11th book in the series. While I couldn’t afford to buy a copy of the brand new hardcover release, I took a copy of my favorite book in the series, Salamandastron, to have him sign.

I was ecstatic. I had borrowed my parents’ camera, and sat a couple of rows back taking occasional photos as Mr. Jacques talked about his life and the book series I’d devoured over the previous two years. He quoted the entire second chapter of Redwall from memory, with a young man in the front row reading along at his behest to ensure that he didn’t miss a word (he didn’t).

After listening to him talk for another half hour or so, it was time for the signing. I took my battered paperback to the table, spoke a few words that have long since faded from my memory, and posed for a quick picture.

20190914_213402

Brian Jacques and me, 2/21/1999.

Ah, the days before digital photography when you couldn’t be sure that the author you’d traveled three hours to meet would actually be looking at the camera when the photo was taken. I digress.

So, today, a little over 20 years later, V and I were walking around downtown and stopped in at Poor Richard’s. We got back into the sci-fi/fantasy section, and you know what I saw? A hardcover copy of Marlfox sitting right in my line of sight, faced out and everything. V, herself a die-hard fan of the series, immediately recognized it as one that we didn’t own a hardcover copy of, and was just as excited as I was. Then I picked it up and flipped it over to check the price.

20190914_223212

I legitimately started to cry.

I found one. A signed, hardcover, first edition copy of Marlfox, just like I couldn’t afford to buy as an eleven-year-old. Given that it was still in Colorado, it may very well have been initially sold at the Tattered Cover that day in 1999. I’ll never know. But to whomever sold this book to Poor Richard’s, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. A long-missing part of my journey as a reader is now complete.

20190914_220324

Then.

20190914_223226

And now.

 

I’m going to talk about something very personal for a few minutes.

My son, Wodan, is two years old, and he has the best laugh I’ve ever heard.

One week ago, I sincerely believed I might never hear it again.

On Tuesday morning, I got up and got my step-daughters ready for school. I made them breakfast, packed their lunches, combed their hair. Standard morning. My wife was attempting to go to sleep, having worked her usual night shift. Wodan was asleep in bed, and I made every effort to avoid waking him before I took his sisters to school.

After dropping the girls off and returning home, I settled in for breakfast and a movie (since my Tuesday work shifts start at noon), and was mildly surprised that Wodan wasn’t awake to join me yet. That said, it’s not out of character for him to occasionally sleep in, and since it was allowing V to sleep more, I let him snooze. I checked his breathing periodically (because yay, parental paranoia!) and went about having some time to myself.

Now by the time I was making dinner to take with me to work, he had been asleep for almost three hours longer than usual.

That was when he screamed.

Now, he’s normally pretty fussy when he wakes up. Little dude loves to have breakfast pretty much immediately in the mornings, and gets hangry when he doesn’t. This was different, though. I didn’t get an inquisitive “Daddy?” I didn’t hear him toddling out into the hallway, shouting for Pop Tarts. I set my food down and went to check on him, and he was still in bed. He looked listless and vacant, and wobbled when I tried to stand him up on his bedroom floor. He acted like he was having trouble hearing or seeing me, and barely tried to drink any of the water I offered him from his favorite cup. I held him, talked to him, told him I was right there. He didn’t respond.

I woke V. Something didn’t feel right. I carried him in to see her, and he didn’t react to her presence at all. His eyes were dilated, and weren’t tracking movement. I mused that he seemed like he was still asleep, but with his eyes open. He couldn’t hold himself up, even in a sitting position. V told me to get him dressed while she called the doctor. The next few minutes were a scramble of us racing to get ready to take him to the nearest Urgent Care, at the behest of his pediatrician. I called work to say I wasn’t coming in. We loaded Wodan into the car.

At Urgent Care, it started to become clear that he was having some sort of seizure. His entire upper body started to curl inward. The folks at Urgent Care quickly realized that we needed more than they could provide, and we headed directly to the Emergency Room at the Children’s Hospital on the other side of town. By the time we arrived there, he was still seizing, and I was certain that his scream for help that morning was going to be the last sound I ever heard him make. I was fucking terrified.

The staff at Urgent Care had called ahead, so Children’s knew we were coming. The team there swarmed to our aid, and I cannot express how grateful I am to every nurse, doctor, tech, etc. who was there that morning. Wodan was given meds to bring him out of the seizure. He came back to consciousness after an IV injection to bring his blood sugar levels back up, but he was utterly exhausted.

Lots of blood draws and various exams and a viewing of Coco later, we were taken for a CT scan to try to get a better idea of what had happened. Did his low blood sugar levels cause the seizure, or did his sugar levels drop because he had been seizing for so long? No one was really certain, but we knew we were in for at least one night at the hospital.

After the results of the CT scan showed a small anomaly, Wodan was scheduled for an overnight EEG and an MRI the next morning. Glucose checks every three hours. V talked to the girls’ father and arranged for him to watch them, even though it was our week. I made plans to be away from work for the next day or two, since V doesn’t have paid leave, and geared up to stay overnight.

I barely slept. I kept thinking about how close a call we’d had, nervous about hearing the EEG results, wondering how long the MRI would take. In the morning, V got back from work, and bringing all of the things we’d need to get through the next couple of days in the PICU. Since the EEG was done, he got to take off his “space hat” and get a little break where V and I could take turns holding him and sitting in the chair with him. He was still fasting, as they needed to sedate him for the MRI. After his MRI and waking up from sedation, he finally got to eat again. Then it was back to our room to await results of the EEG and the MRI. V’s parents came to visit, bringing a couple of books and a new toy to occupy Wodan, and I took a brief break from hospital duty to have an hour back at our house before coming back for another overnight.

Wednesday night was decidedly easier. The neurologist came by that evening to let us know that the EEG and MRI both came back clear, and that the anomaly spotted by the CT scan was an artifact, an imaging error. Cue the literal sighs of relief. That said, the neurologist does want us to follow up in a month just to verify that things are still good. But it was an evening filled with cake shows on Netflix and snuggling with Wodan to help him get through the blood draws. They put him back on IV and had him fast overnight again so that they could run some additional blood work the next morning, and they would need to keep him a third night for more tests after taking him off of the IV and ensuring that he could regulate his glucose without it.

Thursday was mostly uneventful. We had breakfast, watched Despicable Me 3, and generally had a hang-out day while they ran blood work. That evening, after V had gone home to rest before work, my parents came by to check in on us. It was a relaxing day. They took Wodan off of the IV again, and so he had a little more freedom. He was able to sit on the floor to play with his grandfather, and was overall much happier than he had been since Tuesday. He was still upset that he couldn’t go sit on the couch on the other side of the room, due to his heart rate monitor.

Friday was the day of truth. His glucose levels had remained stable after a 12-hour fast. All of his tests had come back clean. We still had no real answer for what had caused the seizure on Tuesday, but we’d eliminated several possibilities. We were given training with a glucometer so that we could continue to check his blood sugar levels at home. After a lunchtime visit from my parents and several visits from doctors, nurses, and other staff, we were cleared to head home, with a stop at the pharmacy for an emergency recovery medicine just in case it happens again.

So, yeah. That was my week last week. It was stressful, to say the least. Honestly, it was my single most harrowing experience as a parent (so far). That said, it’s been a week since the initial event, and Wodan’s doing just fine. He’s happy, and acting like none of it ever happened (with the exception of a few more days of morning glucose checks). He’s content to be back at home with his sisters and cats and the rest of his toys, and his bed where he doesn’t have to be plugged in to a heart monitor while he sleeps.

Thank you to all of you who expressed your concerns for him, for all the kind words, and all of the love. Thanks to the truly incredible staff at the Urgent Care and Children’s Hospital for helping one very scared dad (and his equally scared toddler) through the whole process.

And thank you, Wodan, for laughing this morning. I love you, little bear.