Amending my Christmas List.

I'd like some snow.

The near sixty degrees that the five day forecast is currently touting is more than a little disappointing. Hell, it doesn't even really have to snow. I'd just like some nice, crisp, cold weather. You know. The kind of cold that overcoats and thrift store sweaters were made for.

It's Justin's birthday today. We've been good friends for several years now, working on a comic together, playing Magic, taking up tables in IHOP for hours at a time. Hatching crazy schemes, and actually seeing some of them come to fruition. Okay, so that's mostly Justin, but still. Christmas is a pretty crazy time for him - his wedding anniversary is at the end of this month, as his birthday, as mentioned, and his wife's birthday, and then, of course, also mentioned, Christmas. I just wanted to wish him a happy birthday here - he's not much for internet salutations, but what the hell.

It's more and more looking like "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name" will finally be finished after the New Year. We talked about some other things we might do for the occasion, too. Justin's picked up some neat toys over the past few years while we've been working on this thing, so there might be some neat extras, if for no one else, then for us.

Christmas has really come together. I have one thing left to wrap, and you know, a few people on my list didn't quite get covered, which is unfortunate, but it's late enough now, I figure it's just best to wait, and make it up when just the right gift jumps out of me. I did my best, and I've really enjoyed myself this year. I've stayed busy, and I haven't gotten down, or at least as not down as I have been in the past. Ideas are percolating, and I've been reading a lot of things, and even though it isn't the same as writing something for yourself, it's been nice to help others, or just remember what polishing work is like. I think I got pretty discouraged there, and forgot that there are a lot of different parts of the process, things I love just as much as the writing. It's easy to look at it all as just... the work done after the fun part, but it's not. I'm looking forward to getting back to my own stuff, even put out some feelers to some folks, who might help with some perspective things. And right now, I'm enjoying the reading, the editing, etc.

Anyway, just wanted to chime in. Been neglecting this space. Don't see that changing until after December is over. But we'll see.

Christmas List - 2011

This is the tree this year. It's pretty similar to the years past, and the picture was sort of... haphazardly taken with a computer web cam, which explains the quality. It's just not really a point and shoot job when you're dragging mouse work, and separate monitor into it. Angles, and angles. Apologies.

It's sparser than last year. I didn't use as many lights, or as many beads, and that's weird for me, because I generally think a full tree is the best kind of tree, and last year I thought it was pretty sparse too. But the tree's getting kind of old, and it sags a little under too much weight, and even though I spent the whole night on it, more of that might have went to watching Red Dwarf than digging through the decorations.

Plus, I had to cannibalize some strings of lights for the lights that wound up on there. I don't think I ever realized how simple Christmas lights were until I had to pull out bulbs and take a few sets apart. The upside to this is that fixing them was not as beyond me as I expected it to be. The downside is, as with most really simple things, it's really simple to screw up the perfectly good lights too while trying to fix or replace the bad.

Still, it made me feel handy. That doesn't happen very often.

I was writing last week, this short fantasy story called "The Mouth Devours." The plan was to post it on Friday, but the honest fact is, even though it was only a couple hundred words long, I decided it wasn't really up to my standards - which, if you've seen some of the prose I've put on here is pretty low. So, I nixed it. I meant to pop in on Friday or Saturday and write... something, but I didn't really see any reason to force it if I didn't have to. And I didn't.

Things have been busy. I actually only finished my Christmas shopping today, and that was "finished" with some caveats. There was a new book to review, and I actually polished it off a little faster than usual, just because the extra income to recover from said shopping would be nice, especially with other expenses that might be coming up after the first of the year. I'm also reading a friend's manuscript for them, and I'll admit I didn't really think about doing that with all of the Holiday-related merriment, which was... terribly short-sighted of me. And odd, because I really have procrastinated myself into a crunch in a very long time.

I'm actually pretty good at controlled procrastination, so that's odd.

Justin and I hung out on Thursday night - the long Magic games have been a lot of fun, and something I've come to look forward to each week. Surprise news this week, but Justin thinks on his current schedule, we could see "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name" finished by February. Once the pages are finished, there will be a lot of work to be done by me again, and I'll detail it all here, as usual.

Something I wanted to add... I do something like this on the blog every year, where I write a letter to Santa, asking for whatever it is I want for Christmas. I have an Amazon Wishlist I sometimes give out which is embarrassingly huge, and my guess is, given the date, anyone who was going to get me anything and knows about it probably has already has. And anyway, the more I think about it, the more I realize that, honestly, I don't really want anything.

I mean, yeah, I know everyone says that. And I'm not going to turn down some book I want, and yeah, my scarves have all seen better days, and I have a Steam Account now, if anyone's interested in getting me a game or something on the cheap or just friending me to play Spiral Knights when I eventually get to that, and a bottle of Scotch wouldn't be so... sorry, no, no, I really am kidding with all that... because this time of year, like that's not what this is about for me. I just enjoy all this, you know? The music, and the shopping, and the decorations, and all the trappings, be they self-indulgent, commercial, and obnoxious, or just quiet, modest, and stirringly heartwarming. A celebration should be both, I think. I think that is what celebrating is.

So really. I don't want anything. If you must spend money on me, make a donation to some charity. RAINN's good, not perfect, but good. Honestly, anything pro-women's issues, or some place that's gay and/or trans friendly. Anything social justice related. Hell, try out some micro-lending. Just... nothing religious, no food banks, make sure you know where and what the money's going to.

It's gloriously cold out. There keep being promises of snow. It's Christmas time. I have this marvelous girlfriend, and a, at times mercurial, yet still incredibly affectionate cat, and yeah, things happen, setbacks like the thing with the story that I was going to post on Friday, but I feel like... it's slow, but I'm getting it back. I'm writing again, and I feel comfortable in that skin, being "the writer." Specifically, being the kind of writer I am.

Mind you, my moods are about like my cat's, so this could all change spectacularly, and soon.

So I'm enjoying my Christmas specials, the decorations, all the prep, so much of it I will never see the payoff of, but just knowing that payoff is there, maybe some of what I do will brighten someone else's season, that's really enough for me.

All right. I am not so sentimental that I can't tell when things are getting kind of saccharine. So here's the thing, Santa. I just want the mail to run a little faster, so everything can get to where it needs to be on time, and I just want a little bit of this confidence to stick around after the New Year. And that's all I'm going to ask for.

Happy Holidays, everyone.




P.S. I put something like this on Facebook, but I want to put it up here, too. I'm no stranger to depression. It's very much a part of who I am, and maybe it shouldn't be, maybe it's mad that I put up with it sometime. Being tortured is quickly falling out of vogue. But all that aside, I do still find it in myself to enjoy things, enjoy things like this time of year, but I would like to say, I know it isn't always so easy.

Look, it's hard. Life is not what I'd call the most pleasant experience... most of the time, but there are bright spots, and it's easy to let all the times without them get you down - sadly, especially, when there are bright spots. I know what it's like to be celebrating something, but also feel depressed, disgusted, just generally worn down by everything. And I know that for most people, the first thing you get when you mention to someone, especially this time of year, that you're down, you're probably just going to get a nattering "Why can't you just be happy?" Anyone who thinks it's actually that simple is mad, and not nearly as sensitive as they think they are. And anyone who's said as much lately... contemplate sending a very apologetic Christmas card.

Sometimes it's not as easy as just cheering up. And it can be really hard when you can't reconcile the good with the bad. And if you're feeling like you're struggling, well... be damned with the cheer up people, and don't be turned off by suddenly more upbeat disposition. Call me, write me. Or if not me, find someone to talk to, reach out. It's hard. You might have to do it a couple of times, before you find what you need. But keep trying.

To quote myself, it takes some serious mad skills to handle it all on your own, and trust me, not having said skills is probably more healthy than not.

Take care of yourselves.

Merry Gentlemen.

Christmas time. It is early yet, but I'm starting to get the feel for the season.

Stayed up all night putting up the tree. It may seem a little silly, maybe even ill-advised for someone so insomnia prone, but there's a bit of thrill to be had from the look on my grandmother's face when she wakes up to see a lit and decorated tree. Is this the fourth year I've did this, or only the third? I swear, I only remember two previous, though I have been here for one Christmas more. The blog proves to be woefully inadequate at helping me figure this out, so since I can only recall going to "all this trouble" two other times, I'm going to assume that this is my third.

Was glad to post "With Apologies to Regina Spektor, and Aaron the Moor" last week. Felt good, like I might be getting a handle on writing again, even if just in short spurts, and even if, for the most part, what I was doing was just transcribing and editing things scribbled down in the old moleskin. That process was interesting to me - I noticed again I have this habit of editing over myself, by which I mean changing things actively, as I type them up, only to find much of what I change is actually present in the next sentence - that the work was now following the direction I was wondering moments before why I didn't think to put it in. I guess by the end, it feels a lot like I'm cutting myself off at the pass, but it's not really a bad thing. I just need to be more patient, and probably not try to edit while taking things from paper to the computer. Patience is important.

I was thinking of a friend I don't see as much as I'd like to. He and I share some similarities in our outlook on things, and in reflecting on that, and wishing we hung out more, I wrote up the skeleton for a short comic. Not entirely sure what's going to come of that - but I'd like to put it into proper format in the next couple of days.

Should have posted about this earlier - but one of my awesomely talented collaborators, Ander Sarabia, and my oft-linked comic-loving compatriot Eric Esquivel, have a Kickstarter going for their next book "Thor: Unkillable Thunder Christ," a loose continuation of their "Blackest Terror" outing, which I believe is due to be released soon. They've already made their goal, and doubled it [and then some], but realize that making comics isn't cheap [even without this level of penetration and the support of a label like they have, you're liable to spend a thousand dollars or more just to get a book to print], and any extra they get not only goes to making up the deficit the first comic put them at, but also assures funding to get the third in the series made.

The holidays are a great time for giving, folks, and it's a great project to get involved with. And us creatives need to look out for each other - who knows when we might need similar help?

More soon.

With apologies to Regina Spektor, and Aaron the Moor.

Matters of succession – you know, sire, these things all started with a sort of logic, a man becomes a king, takes a wife – a queen and begets a son, and when the king dies, the son becomes king himself. And other sons and daughters, while complicating things, were sensible too, as after all, no king lives an… unaccompanied life, rather none should, and with the world as it is, other sons, other daughters, are, well, a necessary evil. Which, no, my lord, apologies, my lord, not that I’m suggesting you’re – not that I’d suggest anything of the kind, of course. Just illustrating, how something quite logical became not quite so, and thus, we can’t just think of it as such.

Though I suppose, if we could – if I could be very common for a moment, if you might humor that, and speak of these things logically, and we could consider them such again, as they were meant to be. You are, and again, sire, I mean nothing by this but what it is, but you are one in a line, and you were, let’s be generous – and truthful, my lord – set in that line as a contingency, a back-up, an “understudy” as I’ve heard the players it call it, if I may be so profane. And if allowed, while being profane, I might well point out the obvious, not to imply that you are not aware, but just for the sake of frankness that you are not the first, or second, or even third of said contingencies – you are, remarkable by the very nature of it, the thirty-second of the line.

Which is never to be taken lightly, as one thirty-seconds from the king is greater blessed than all but – yes, thirty-one others, well met, my lord. But despite that, your title will always come with its own privileges, its own rewards and responsibilities, the greatest of which, and perhaps, to some, not you sire, but perhaps to your brothers and sisters, the most burdensome, is that you, like them, have been tasked with the protection of your line, the kingdom – no, your kingdom, like your father, your king, and your country. And yes, all its citizens. Your citizens, sire. And so important it is to secure these things that even you, the thirty-second child of your father, our king, both as chosen by God, could be called, by great circumstance or terrible tragedy, to serve.

The weight of it! The consequence of king and country, that it needs not two, nor three, but thirty-two to safeguard itself. Thirty-two for the line to endure! Does anything better illustrate the importance of the throne? How you bear it, how you live with such a burden placed upon you, even with the illusion of being so many times removed – for I know you feel it as though you were first – I cannot fathom it, my lord. Yet I see you, and it, your onus, lying heavy about your brow every day.

And knowing how it weighs upon you, seeing you wear such worry on your brow – hidden so well, I might add, that only I, who humbly your lord must love so well as for you to drop your guard to – I must – no. No, I must not. To disparage your siblings – I couldn’t, though it’s just, no, sire I just wonder, for you have never said. And I, courteously, have never queried. So respectfully, I must ask, do you trust those who come before you, do you believe they grasp that? Do they know the responsibility that you so plainly see?

Apologetically, my lord – my prince, as you are the, and mine, of any of them, I must now speak honestly, tempered but honestly, and if that answer you would say is yes, that they know, that they appreciate it as much as you, why if any man but you would make such a claim I would think them a fool, if not call them such. And if sire, if you are of the mind that would say no, or even say yes with doubts, just doubts, then can you say truthfully that the order of succession should really, truly be managed just by order of conception? That men and women, even if of your own blood, who cannot, or will not – yes, who might outright refuse – understand their responsibilities do one day deserve to be placed on the throne? Superseding even someone who grasps the concept so fully, implicitly?

Which would be impudent of me to suggest, and I wouldn’t dare, of course, as it is not my place to speak of your family in such terms, and raising such questions, well that, that is the privilege of a king… and his children, I might think, but surely not one such as I. And you, you in your wisdom, so young yet, but already a man of intellect and breeding, I know what you would say of the manner, only because I know the measured, benevolent response – that when it comes to your siblings, your brothers and sisters, all of this which we speak is their right, and theirs alone. That they are your blood, and more importantly, the king’s blood, and they need to greater vindication than that.

And I know, my lord, that some, some of them you love. Others, I know of others among them that at least command your respect, your fealty. Their rank, more, their place as a part of the king’s line, of your line, rather, your family’s, demands loyalty. Protection. Submission. And the last, as thirty-two, you know much better than any of the others, and the rest, the privileges they have, which only you, if I may be so bold, have ever properly grasped as to why they are afforded to them, and to you at all.

But yet… their not grasping this, their… forgive me, shortcomings, they vex me, sire. As your servant, and as your friend, and as someone who sees you suffer stoically beneath them. And for you to see their abuses, which neither I nor anyone of my rank would – should indict them for, but rather in just recalling them, as instances – yes, that’s more proper, you’re right, these instances where they wield their power, their privilege, what you so aptly noted as their right, with no regard for the price that others must pay… do you never suppose such behavior, it threatens the line? Is not doing so, despite any other reckless disregard they commit, a danger to the line, nay the very crown and its dominion itself? For is not their very presence owed to it? And in not safe-guarding it is that not a debt that goes unpaid?

I hear the men in the square some days, criers for the church, talking about moral deaths. And how they befall families like waves upon the shore, engulfing many until the strongest among them, the rocks upon the coast, pushes back against the tide, and send the wanton roil back into the ocean. Moral deaths threaten them, your brothers and sisters, and I see from your face, you think perhaps they have befallen a few, maybe more. And you worry, my prince, I see it on your brow again, because you allow me to, I’m sure, wondering who the burden to be the strongest is upon now– who among them can hold the line, and push back to assure it perseveres, no matter the cost?

I am sorry for my forthrightness, but we both know you worry it is you. I tell you my lord, it is no cause for concern, for there are no worries in that which you already know. And you, I promise, even as the thirty-second child, indeed perhaps because of that, have always remembered what too many have forgotten – that the burden is yours, that is has always been yours, just as it has always been theirs. And no matter their actions, their dalliances, their character, you have never wavered. You are prepared if called upon to serve in succession, even when, if any, then you, could be lax.

No sire, again I say none of this lightly, though nor do I dare suggest treason. Some things are just not for me to say. You are my lord, more than even my friend, and though my love for you is great, I know my life rests totally in your hands, and I would take no such risk for a lesser a man. I only wonder – and worry, I worry too, sire, what the responsible, what the logical thing is to do? We seem to agree that the throne is in peril, and there’s no question it demands protecting, but who is its true protector? Even you, with your great knowledge of this burden, and your willingness to bear such responsibility, feel it is not a prince’s place. And I in my impudence, I can barely stifle myself to ask – should not these concerns fall to the King? Does not the shield beneath the swords we have both been raised under, does it not proclaim the King will guard his kingdom, the crown, his line? Is that not why the King keeps the line? And those swords, do they not mean that said protection must come from eliminating threats, be they man, or heretic, or even enemies that come from within?

Even if… they’re of the King’s own blood?

You know well, my lord, you know why no one speaks of you as thirty-three, that if one of those who precede you steps up to claim the throne before the King’s death – may he live long, of course – there would be no exile, no mercy on that day. They would be dealt with, and swiftly, as sure as the hangman would have a new set of boots on that day. For threats against the throne, the King must deal with summarily, be they from a single man, or ten thousand on the battlefield. And you sire, that is why you are here, and by your grace why I am blessed to speak with you, to safeguard something worthy of striking down ten thousand men, and if so called for, to strike down ten thousand more. And I know, you say, ten thousand, nay twenty, is but a small price to protect your line.

And you would be right to ask, if you dared to ask - just what is thirty-one more?