August 31, 2006

Mood: Sad.
Music: Nothing at the moment.
Game: A Tale In The Desert 3, WoW (Yes, again…), Dead Rising.
Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
Watching: Nothing.
Weather: 53, Sunny.

For a while, I was blogging personal things. Then, I kinda stopped…not sure why. I think it came down to me filtering things because…well, just because. I know I’ve mentioned it before. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s my blog, and mainly, it was set up as a diary just so I’d have something to vent in, and keep record of things. I’ve kind of moved away from that. I think I should probably move back to it.

In that vein…

My brother’s wife was pregnant…we found out months ago that it was to be twins.

Last week, unexpectedly, her water broke…about 3 months early. I was told that it was mainly seepage, so they thought. There were a few contractions, but those subsided, and they sort of got ready for my sister-in-law to settle in to a long stay in the hospital, just in case.

On Sunday, the twins decided that they weren’t going to stay put any longer. My brother called me to tell me good news and bad news. The good news is that I have a niece, if 3 months premature and in neonatal icu. The bad news is that I don’t have two.

Now, I’m an uncle…I’m not a father. But even at just being an uncle, what on earth do you feel about this? Am I happy for Rebecca Alyse? Yes…far more than I can say…a baby girl. Our family isn’t particularly well-known for having baby girls. We’re a boy kinda clan. Yes, the baby is in ICU, and yes, she’s some 3 months early…but she’s breathing well, she’s stable, so my brother says.

Rebecca Alyse named after my grandmother, Ruth, and my sister-in-law’s grandmother, Ann. In my family, all the children are named after relatives that come before. Typically, they’re named after relatives who have passed on. Not this time. I definitely applaud my brother and my sister-in-law’s decision to break that tradition. They asked both grandparents, who gladly gave their blessing to use their names. And the symbolism hasn’t gone lost on me…or I suspect anyone else.

As for Lauren Danielle…Lauren will be buried on Friday. I will not be there. My brother asked me not to come…as he’s asked everyone else who isn’t already there to stay home.

My brother, a doctor, has always been pretty good at shielding emotions…until he snaps. At least, that’s how he used to be. I imagine that as he’s gotten older, and experienced more, both as a person and as a doctor, his compartmentalization has gotten far better. The fact that he’s able to function, and talk about any of this amazes me right now. He explained it to me: “How unhappy can I be? I have a new daughter, and you have a new niece. There’s a balance there.” He’s right, I guess. I don’t live in his head. But he’s been calm, if a bit worn out sounding, each time I’ve spoken to him.

I have a just-about 3 years old nephew who is fabulous, if a bit confused right now. I have a new niece. My sister-in-law is healthy. My brother’s fundamentally right. There’s a balance. It’s sad, to be sure…and not being there makes me a bit more sad.

I remember when my half-brother Scott died…he was about 2. My father was overwrought. Just completely couldn’t deal. My uncle held him and cried with him. I remember being upset about my half-brother…but seeing my father like that really broke me down. Is my brother that distraught? Am I supposed to get on a plane now and be there like my uncle was for my father? My brother asked, told me really, not to come this weekend. He said there’d be plenty of opportunity to be there in upcoming months to go to the hospital and see the baby, and spend some real time with him and his wife and my nephew.

He told me not to feel guilty about not being there. He was explicit about it. He doesn’t want a house full of people. He doesn’t want this to be a spectacle. He’d rather I came in a few weeks, when things were a little more calm. I can do that, of course…and I will.

I still feel guilty.

I’m glad work is beyond crazy…it lets me focus on things other than this. I do keep saying Rebecca Alyse’s name in my head. I want her to grow up to be strong and healthy and just fabulous. I want to meet her. I really do.

My brother mentioned in passing that we would try and make sense of it all, and I explained to him that I never really have ever done that. My brother, strongly Jewish, both in identification and deed, looks to God for answers. He believes that there’s a reason, a cause. And I think he tries to figure out why things such as this happen. Being the good little Agnostic that I am, I don’t ever do that. I don’t subscribe to it. I don’t look for rhyme or reason. I don’t think there is any. Why things like this happen? Because they do. And it isn’t for me to try to figure out why. But I do have to deal with the outcomes. I spend my energy dealing, not rationalizing. Perhaps I’m right, perhaps I’m wrong. I know sometimes I wish there were a God. Sometimes I wish that there were someone I could say “You did this. You had a reason, and you’ve got our best interests at heart.”

I remember when my half-brother died, someone said to me “Well, he was so sweet and wonderful that God wanted him up in heaven with him.” Yes, my family on that side was half Catholic. I remember thinking “I see, so God gets whatever the hell He wants, I and I get to just deal with the outcome. Why don’t WE get to keep Scott, and HE can wait until we’re ready to send him back?”

You know, if there were a God, I’d be pretty pissed at him right about now. But I don’t think there is. And so instead of trying to make sense of it all, I’m going to be sad for awhile…and in time, I’m going to be increasingly happy about Rebecca Alyse. As my brother said “There’s going to be plenty of time to be happy.”

He’s right, of course. I’ll keep my thoughts positive about Rebecca Alyse, and perhaps those positive thoughts will provide energy for my niece. Keep her healing and growing out here instead of in there. I suppose we all need to believe something.



August 14, 2006

Mood: Tired.
Music: Nothing at the moment.
Game: A Tale In The Desert 3, TitanQuest, WoW (Yes, again…), Super Monkey Ball Adventure, Dead Rising. Don’t have a whole lot of time for all of them…which is too bad.
Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
Watching: Kill Bill, both parts. So GOOD.
Weather: 68, Clear.

I was going to complain that none of my friends updated their blog this week.

Not much point in that, now is there?


August 8, 2006

Mood: Tired.
Music: Muthafucka, Xzibit
Game: A Tale In The Desert 3, TitanQuest, WoW (Yes, again…), Super Monkey Ball Adventure, Dead Rising…soon…
Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel
Watching: Deadwood, Season 3.
Weather: 65, Cloudy.

Last Friday, I was standing on the deck at work watching the Blue Angels shoot across the sky, practicing for the weekend’s Seafair.

An account guy I’m friendly with was standing next to me, watching as well.

He turned to me after one low, extremely loud pass and said “I love that sound.”

I replied “Only because you’ve never been on the receiving end of it.”

We both turned back to quietly watch the jets shoot across the sky.

Who Died and Made YOU God?

August 2, 2006

Mood: Good!
Music: Limelight, Rush (Live)
Game: A Tale In The Desert 3, TitanQuest, WoW (Yes, again…), Super Monkey Ball Adventure
Book: Chapterhouse Dune, Frank Herbert
Watching: Not much.
Weather: 65, Cloudy.

I got asked today if I was planning on attending PAX.

PAX is a gaming conference organized by the two guys who write Penny Arcade.

In case you’re not a gamer in the slightest, Penny Arcade is arguably the single most read online gaming webcomic on the planet. (PVPOnline is probably number 2…although I have no evidence one way or the other.)

PAX is held in Seattle (Bellevue to be exact) and apparently it’s a pretty well-attended geekfest. And, with the recent fall of E3 as we know it, these guys might well be the biggest game in town at the moment.

Having been to E3 and a few other game-type conventions, it would seem like a slamdunk. A gaming convention in my (now) hometown. Can’t ask for more than that, right?

Well…no. While I read Penny Arcade occasionally, and occasionally find them quite funny, their fame has carried these two guys into a fairly exalted status in the gaming world. In fact, in the last several years, their attitude has gone from “irreverent ranters” to “minority whip and voice of the common gamer.” And somewhere in there, I kind of started deciding that while they occasionally made some decent points, the gaming world has somehow decided that these guys were unofficial spokesmen for the hardcore gaming community.

Now, they’ve parlayed this position into some fairly serious perks. Much respect for that. They get sneak peeks at things, they get early versions/releases of games, they are asked to many conventions, and they now draw comics/art for all sorts of gaming companies, particularly their websites. They have also launched a tshirt company (or at least joined forces with one) and put out a fair amount of tshirts. They speak at conferences.

All well and good. My problem is that all of a sudden, they’re writing as if what they say is gospel…that with a quick pass over the keyboard, they can cause the decline in sales of a game…and know it. On more than one occasion, they’ve written cartoons and articles that imply or outright say that folks like John Smedley write them and ask them to be kind.

Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps these guys get the kind of readership that implies that major publishers and producers need to hope that these two guys don’t get pissed at them for fear of riling up their audience against them. It might be so.

Perhaps I’m just bristling at the fact that I’m supposedly being represented by a pair of cartoonists…along with every other hardcore gamer under the sun…as if we’re a homogenous group. Perhaps I find that I’m disagreeing with them more and more as they take their tone more and more imperiously.

I don’t know. I DO know that they’re probably making a small fortune doing what they love, and are well-known in the gaming community, and that they probably wake up every morning and thank God for all that.

Whatever. They don’t speak for me.

And that’s why I’m not going.