Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Why have kids?

Man. I'm turning into a parenting blog. I'm sorry about that. But I suppose that when I saw the title: Why Have Kids? on the Vanity Fair website, I had to take a look and write a reaction.

What? It's like baiting me with race issues. Personal is political at times folks.

Anyways, the website linked me to an article from New York Magazine that described parents loving their children, but hating parenting. Titled, All Joy and No Fun, I could see it almost being used as an argument against procreating.

But I keep going back to the question, "Why have kids?" and I can't give a good answer. Because I have no idea how to articulate it. The only thing I've said is that, "I like chaos," and I got it in fucking spades when I had a baby. Now that she's a toddler, I'm tempted to give it a go again, because I like more chaos.

What bothers me about these articles (and articles that go POP THEM PUPPIES OUT NOW CHILDLESS SPINSTERS!) is that there's an implicit idea that doing one or the other brings you more happiness. And from what I've seen, happiness is a very temporal thing.

To quote Denis Leary: "Happiness comes in small doses folks. It's a cigarette butt, or a chocolate chip cookie or a five second orgasm. You come, you smoke the butt you eat the cookie you go to sleep wake up and go back to fucking work the next morning, THAT'S IT! End of fucking list!"

I can't say that I'm a happier person after having Benevolent Dictator and staying home. That would imply that I'm skating around the kitchen like some Betty Draper clone on Zoloft. I can't say I'm unhappier either, because I don't think I am. The beginning battles were hard as hell, but I'm also of the belief that if you do anything right in life, some scarring occurs.

What I can say is that I feel like overall, I made the right decision for me and that I regret nothing. I know people who don't want kids and don't have kids who will say the same thing. To each their own.

These articles bother me in a way because it sets up the idea that there is a race, or a way to maximize your happiness quotient like in the Sims, or that there's one path to happiness. And we all know that's not true. I just sometimes wish media would treat these issues with the complexity they deserve, instead of making it an "either/or" situation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monthly report: 36th Month -- Where does the time go?

Dear Benevolent Dictator --

Today you turned three years old. It's been a funny day for me because I keep flashing back to when you arrived in the hospital, small enough to be carried on my forearm with long toes and ears that looked vaguely elvish. I remember your little mewling cry and just how small you were.

And now, you're a little girl -- an outgoing, chatty, smart, charming little girl who loves to draw, climb on things that she's not supposed to be climbing on, playing with her friends and the neighborhood dogs. You've got one hell of an imagination, telling me stories about when you were a little horsie.

Your current favorite show is Mythbusters. You told me once that you had Grant Imahara sleep over (apparently he was also shrunk down to about fist size) and we've had dance parties with Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. You also love watching Sesame Street, Ni Hao Kai Lan and Wallace and Gromit. This summer, you did tell us you hate the World Cup and would rather watch Mythbusters. However, you know how to pronounced "vuvuzela." My job at mother is complete.

The funny thing is that I saw all this in you when you were a baby. You'd make eye contact with people and smile at a very young age and you always liked checking out people's faces. I've seen the hot temper in you (even though it gets louder now and a little more extreme with the flailing) and how you calm down.

Parenting is a weird thing sometimes. It's tough and sometimes tiring as hell. I've ranted about how it feels like sometimes I'm just so tired of having to play cruise director, jailer, friend, chef and maid.

But then there's these moments that take my breath away. Like when you do pronounce "vuvuzela" or when you giggle hysterically because we're having fun. Then there was the time when you hugged me and said "You're my best friend in the whole wide world."

I never expected that one. I'm a parent. We're not friends. Parents are supposed to be the enemy. But seriously, that was proof positive that whatever I did growing up, I must've done something good.

Love you,


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rising again...

To show off yet another redesign idea. I hope people like this one. I'm finding Blogger's new design system to be quite nice. Don't be surprised if you see more more changes in the near future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The State of the Viv

Well. I can't believe I haven't written anything for nearly a month. Sorry about that. I have no excuses except that there's been other trifles in my life. And now, today is my birthday. I am the oldest I've ever been.

I'll confess that the past month has been a little rough on our house. Jeff's going through a job crisis and I've been presented with a lot of interesting opportunities for the future. One of them is freelancing for my old workplace, covering some of my old beat (but thankfully not everything. I don't I miss the insane hours) and another one I'll feel more comfortable discussing in the future.

When I look at the past year, I see that I've been busy doing one thing -- keeping the kid alive. The house hasn't burned down and I've been able to wrangle taking care of a child. I've been cooking more, which is great fun, writing more, which is FUCKING FABULOUS and enjoying life.

Then this past month happened and a lot of things I once knew are being shaken to the foundations. I don't feel comfortable going into all the detail. All I know is that I'll weather the storm and what happens, happens. We will survive and endure.

If anything, right now I'm thinking about the Tower Card from the Tarot deck:

No card scares a Tarot reader like the Tower - or the person they're reading for if that person knows anything about Tarot cards. It is however one of the clearest cards when it comes to meaning. False structures, false institutions, false beliefs are going to come tumbling down, suddenly, violently and all at once. What's important to remember as a tarot reader is that the one you're reading for likely does not know that something is false. Not yet. To the contrary, they probably believe that their lover is being faithful, that their religious beliefs are true and right, that there are no problems in their family structure, that everything is fine at work...oh, and that they're fine. Just fine, really.

Alas, they're about to get a very rude awakening. Shaken up, torn down, blown asunder. And all a reader can really do to soften the blow is assure the Querent that it is for the best. Nothing built on a lie, on falsehoods, can remain standing for long. Better to tear it all down and rebuild on the truth. It is not going to be pleasant or painless or easy, but it will be for the best.

Admittedly, in moments like this, I'm going back to thinking about Tyler Durden and Fight Club. Even though he wasn't completely correct about everything, I know I'm going through a chaotic period when I'm thinking, "What would Tyler Durden do?"

Fall back. Let go. Flow. Rise. Destroy. Recreate. That's what he'd do.

And right now with what is going on, that's what I'm feeling right now. I know it's the right thing to do, but it's also kind of scary.

But, as my kid says, "It's kind of scary, but also fun." Truer words never spoken kiddo.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear Gen Con: This is not ironic. This is stupid.

Many of my friends and fellow gamers have railed on about the icon that Gen Con uses for it's non-gamer programming -- specifically called "Activities for the Better Half". I'll probably mention them at the end of this, but I wanted to get my view out on the stupidity of its icon:

What's more annoying is Gen Con's official response to Vanir's open letter to them:

Thank you all for your opinions and for calling attention to a wonderful program that Gen Con is proud to support. The process for picking the icon was not an arbitrary one; thought was put into it. It’s hard to pick one “icon” for such a diverse group of people and event types and to find one that wouldn’t be misconstrued as something else. The icon was chosen for its tongue and cheek aspect, nothing more and will remain as is for the time being.
I'd recommend that you also go and read the official letter on Vanir's website. To say that it makes one stabby would be an understatement.

I know that this isn't 10 years ago, or even 15 years ago, when having women at the gaming table was akin to a yeti sighting. I know that we see more women at these events and even young girls at these events. But to use an icon like a ball and chain is demeaning to the non-gamers who come to these events.

I won't go into the history of the ball and chain symbol, like my friend, Katie. I'm just amazed that Gen Con would call this tongue-in-cheek. Whoever thought this was a good idea has not had to sit at gaming tables and feel like they're entering a "boys club" of sorts. Or see the constant pin-up pictures. Or the shirts that make jokes about women (I won't even go into the one man's shirt that was a print of porno actresses making the "O"-face).

It's gotten better, there's no doubt, but things like this continue to give the impression that women aren't welcome.While it's nice that Gen Con has created events for the "better half" -- several of which I would consider attending as a break from dice-slinging (and are going to attend with my husband), the icon is silly.

It's not ironic. It is a blatant dig at nongamers as killjoys. I have always railed on about the stereotype of women as supposedly more "mature" and being the ones who have to rein in the "boys" from their "silly antics." Simply because someone's interests don't always mirror their partner's or family members' does not make their opinion less valid.

Overall, I agree with my friend Alan, who calls it "bad business branding." I would be careful about that Gen Con -- studies (which these Public Relations people should have learned by now) show that women are the majority of buyers in a household -- up to 83 percent in 2008, according to Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen. Do you really think that changes when they come to Indianapolis?

Just something to think about. If you're not willing to take into consideration the opinion of many women gamers like my friend, Eva, at least think about it from the business end. We women have a strong say in where the money goes, and I don't think it's a good idea to forget that.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Some date nights are dinner and movies...

For Jeff and I, we went to see an aging punk icon rant on a state for three straight hours.

Thanks to our friend Heather (who is also the kid's favorite person in the whole wide world), Jeff and I were able to leave the house to check out Henry Rollins at the Barrymore last night. The kid got pizza, the Muppet Show and a buddy to play with. We got the Weary Traveler (Bad Breath Burger is full of WIN!), beer, discussion about Age of Conan and Rollins.

I love Henry Rollins. The man is a smart, funny, articulate person who, despite his appearance is a hippie at heart. I've always been fond of his spoken word CDs (I own a great deal of them and they're great for long drives). The guy I had one of those "it's complicated" things with before I met Jeff introduced me to Rollins and I think that was the best thing I got out of that mess.

In any case, it was awesome and inspiring. I can't talk about everything he discussed because it bounced from Constance McMillen, the 2008 election, health care, the Bad Brains, masturbation (despite a coy attempt to beat around the bush), working on Sons of Anarchy, his University of California Sonoma commencement address, judging Ru Paul's Drag Race and traveling around the world.

I think that for me, the biggest thing I always take away from these events is a sense of optimism and hope, albeit rather foul-mouthed, punk sense of hope, but it's hope. It's the idea that life should be gone at full gusto and we need to enjoy these moments. We have chances to be good people and do things right. Being a cynical bastard does nothing good. And sometimes we all need reminders of that.

If you do get the chance to see him, I suggest you do so. Make sure you have an empty bladder and are prepared to sit for hours, because you will get your money's worth.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

How I became obsessed with Jaffa Cakes

A few months ago, I was introduced to the joys of a BBC show called Spaced. Made by the same geniuses who created Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, I found myself addicted to the show.

The best way I can describe it is that it tweaks a lot of the pop culture stuff I also riff on and brilliantly describes that time after college, but before the mortgage and kids. That time when I remember playing a lot of games, throwing a lot of random parties and just doing whatever I liked with the money we had.

It also helps that the music is awesome. I can't stop playing Mint Royale's From Rusholme with Love:

Or Lemon Jelly's The Staunton Lick:

But the best thing ever (WHICH I HAVE YET TO GET PROPERLY) is the A-Team dance remix:

I find it interesting that Simon Pegg has said definitely that there will never be another season of Spaced (it only ran for two seasons and 14 episodes total). I can't find the interview, but I recall him saying something on Twitter along the lines of "who would want to see 40-year-old Tim and Daisy doing the same thing over and over again?"

So like everyone else, I'm slowly moving on. A friend of mine has introduced me to a show called Outnumbered. And I think that this one may sum up the joys of life with kids and a mortgage:

I can picture myself having this conversation with my child in about a year or so.

But no matter what, I'm going to have a fond spot in my heart for Spaced. And Jaffa Cakes.