Booking It

Big News…

(drum roll)

I’M PUBLISHING A BOOK!

I’ve compiled about 200 pages of my writings into a manuscript. Many of the pieces have appeared on this blog, but much of it is brand new and only available in the book.

It’s a lot of the same kind of stuff, plus a really silly story about that time in college when we made a giant fireball.

The title is How to Raise Viking Children and Other Tales of Woe. I’m thinking it will be $12.95 and should be available on Amazon by Thanksgiving. It will make a great stocking stuffer – just sayin’.

And for those of you who attend local gaming and sci-fi conventions, I plan to debut my book at my author table at Starbase Indy this Thanksgiving weekend. It’s going to be a great time and I’ll be signing books and I’m sure to have a show-only special low price. Plus, you know, hugs.

The process of self-publishing a book has been really eye-opening for me. It seemed so simple but it’s been a real obstacle course. I’ll be sharing more details on my blog of the whole adventure in the coming days and weeks.

My favorite part so far is my pop-up banner for my author booth that just arrived today, so I thought I’d show it off…

VVV_PopUp_Banner_450x250

I’m so excited! This is one of my longest held dreams, a total bucket list check-off.

Thank you all for the amazing support and encouragement!

VVV

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Mansplaining

(at tuck-ins)

Me: “Good night, boy. Get some good sleep. I love you. You’re smart and strong and kind and funny and hard working. I’m proud to be your dad.”

Danger Monkey, age 10: “Yeah, but you’re my dad. You have to say that.”

Me: “No, actually, I don’t. In fact, many dads never say those things. I think most of them think it, but don’t feel comfortable saying it out loud. So they say it in other ways.”

DM: “Why don’t they say it?”

Me: “People are weird about what is considered “masculine” and what isn’t. A long time ago boys were taught to not show any emotions like sadness or crying because it would make them seem weak. Even when I was little, I was taught that boys shouldn’t cry.”

DM: “Mom says crying is good for you.”

Me: “It is good for you! I very much disagree with the idea that boys can’t cry. I think showing emotion makes us stronger and happier in every way. I’m trying very hard to raise you without restrictions on how to feel and show emotions. But I’m sure you’re already getting a different story from friends at school.”

(long pause)

DM: “Sometimes.”

Me: “It’s hard. But that’s why I tell you all those things every day. I want to show you that big, strong men absolutely talk about their emotions and can be sad and mushy and proud and whatever we want.”

DM: “That seems better.”

Me: “Yeah, it’s not always that simple, but I think it’s a good place to start.”

DM: “So other dads don’t say those things?”

Me: “I think most don’t. They show their love in other ways, like making up silly nicknames and rough housing in the living room. A lot of dads show their love by working hard at a career to make money to provide their kids with things, and by being strong and protecting their kids. And most other dads are much more athletic than I am, so they do things like take their kids running, or coaching their soccer teams. But I think most dads don’t actually say the words as much as they probably should.”

DM: “Is that why you make up so many names for us?”

Me: “Yes, Rufus, that’s exactly why I call you so many different names.”

DM: “Why did you call me Rufus, you big butt face?”

Me: “I don’t know, Smack Daniels, why do you think?”

DM: “Because you love me, Poop Face.”

Me: “Bingo, Barf Boy.”

(long pause)

DM: “So why do you say all the other things?”

Me: “Because kids need to hear those things. Everyone needs to hear those things, especially kids. Too much of your life will be the world telling you what’s wrong with you. I want you to start life with a nice solid foundation of knowing what is RIGHT with you. Doesn’t that sound better?”

(long pause)

DM: “I like it, but only if you really mean it.”

Me: “I really, really do. I mean it more than you will understand until you have your own kids.”

(long pause)

DM: “Good night. I love you, Garbage Face.”

Me: “I love you, too, beautiful boy. Good night.”

Home Work

What? I’ve never told you just how much I love working from home? Really? Well, let’s change that immediately. I used to think it was a silly luxury, but the truth is that working from home has absolutely, undeniably, and fundamentally changed my quality of life.

This time three years ago I was working in the tech support department as a “named support representative for our largest customers.” That’s software company code to say I was on call 24/7 to handle any and all tech issues that would come up for several giant accounts. And, as you probably know, giant accounts always have something coming up.

The good news is it was a great job that I enjoyed, I loved my co-workers, and it taught me a lot of about our entire software environment, let alone the applications themselves. I enjoyed the challenge, the camaraderie, the fun troubleshooting work. And, hey, I learned a lot. Bonus.

The bad news is that I was working all the time. I was driving about an hour each way to park in a parking garage, walk to an office, sit at a desk, and do my work all day. Then I had the privilege of working most nights at home after hours as well. Sixty and seventy hour weeks were not uncommon.

Oh, the driving. OMG. I was doing SO MUCH driving. Between the back and forth of work and home, plus side trips to my oldest at her mom’s house, and all the various side trips and events around Indy, I was regularly driving 500 miles per week. PER WEEK. My reliable Honda Accords (may they rust in peace) got me a safe, reliable 32 mpg, but they also wreaked havoc on my knees and back. I fit in a good compact sedan well enough for most driving, but I simply did not fit well enough for that kind of marathon driving. Ouch.

Truth be told, being on call 24/7 affects you in ways you don’t expect. We couldn’t schedule things as a family because it was so common that I’d get pulled out at the last second. We had a couple of dinners out and movie theater experiences interrupted by work emergencies, so then I started driving separately. Eventually I just stopped going at all. My family learned to live around me, without me. I almost never made it to school events. They even started going on entire vacations without me.

As my wife puts it, the kids just learned to assume I wasn’t available. They stopped asking if I could do things, just automatically assuming I was working. My default was “not available.”

Not great. But you do what you do to put food on the table and maintain health insurance, right?

So, then I got a new position where I’m now the guy who designs and builds all those complicated systems, instead of just troubleshooting them at 2 am when they break. Suddenly I’m working a nice calm 8-5 job (usually). And then, one glorious day, they said I could start working from home.

(angels sing)

What a complete difference it has made. Simply not making that drive every day by itself is worth it. The gas savings, the time savings, the stark reduction in stress on me and my car… wow.

After a year and a half of massage therapy and lately some yoga, I’m starting to see some solid improvements in the lower back and hip issues I developed with all that driving.

It really surprised me when I realized it also benefits the company. I get SO MUCH more work done. For one, I’ve got back those 2 hours a day I spent driving. For another, I have almost none of the fun but unproductive office chit chat that I used to have in the office. And I also push myself more when I only have to walk 25 feet to my home office. I’m much less likely to take a sick day when I can just take it easy at my desk and get stuff done.

I no longer have that horrible hassle of prepping myself a nutritious, balanced sack lunch every day. And by that I mean to say I used to eat out 4-5 days a week, spending more than I should to eat lower quality than I should. Let’s just say they all know me by name at the Qdoba next to my office. I used to eat there so much they actually just gave me a sweatshirt once. Free. True story.

And, and this is a big one folks — I’m actually here. I get to enjoy this house that my paycheck goes toward the mortgage payments. I actually live here now. Like, LIVE HERE.

It’s a joy do make things happen around our home. I love to fill the slow cooker full of food to make easy, simple meals that then feed us for a week: a big pot of chili, a handsome pot roast, some zippy Chicken Tikki Masala, you name it. I can start it in the morning and check on it throughout the day while I’m working. Same with a load of dishes or a washer full of clothes. I get so much more housework done, all while getting more of my job done. Talk about a win-win.

Also, gasp, I have been known to roll out a mat and do yoga in my front room. That fancy gym at work is awful nice, but it doesn’t beat my living room.

It makes a difference to be here for deliveries and to sign for packages. I’m here for repair men and contractors. I’m here to let the dogs outside to run and get more exercise, which makes them healthier and happier. And I’m even here to run a forgotten lunch or library book into town if needed. And when AT&T says they’ll send a technician some time between 11 am tomorrow and the year 2019 — sure! I’ll be here.

But mostly, I love being here to get the kids off the school bus. They burst in the front door every afternoon, full of energy and stories of their day. Sometimes they’re happy and sputtering to tell me about something exciting, or wild, or silly. Sometimes they’ve made new friends, or gotten an award at school. Some days they’re sullen and hangry. I don’t even care. I love being here for all of it.

And I get to go to all the school events. I’m actually an active parent and part of my children’s educational team. Who knew how cool that would be? I honestly didn’t even realize how many school things I was missing. We are fortunate to have a school with a vibrant culture of families and sharing and fundraising. I’ve made a lot of friends and I know a lot about the teachers, the curriculum, and even the other kids my children play with (and their parents). It’s a very different and better perspective.

I cannot express all the ways and to what depth working from home has completely changed my relationship with my entire family, my pets, my home, my health, my hobbies, and my career.

So, yes, working from home has really improved my life. I’m so glad you asked!