Letters to Holly

Thursday, December 3

Must I Rage? Rage I Must.

One thing about Your Mom's office visit on Tuesday: She mentioned that the delay in deciding to be pregnant was Your Sister's doing. She said she knew I wanted kids, but Your Sister was focused on work. I mention this to preemptively set the record straight in case you encounter this line of thinking. It's completely wrong.

I immediately told her it was a long-standing and constantly affirmed mutual decision to remain a duo. No one is "at fault" for us remaining childless for, as My Mom puts it, "so long." The change of position was a yearlong adjustment from both of us. No one can be said to have instigated the decision. Those regular questions we asked each other about maintaining our duo-hood began to get new answers, and they came from both of us. There was no peer pressure, no ticking clock, no fear of remaining outside the definition of a "real family." The Debacles began as a family in 2004. We're bringing in an 18-year tenant. We're building an addition.

Just FYI. If she continues to pass this along, and I'm asking you flatly to rat her out, I'm gonna sit her down and repeat the facts until she can recite them back to me. She often assumes the worst about her daughters, and it's often dismissed in a cloud of stunned dismay. Not this. I won't allow it. Your Sister will not be accused of refusing to be a mom, of stubbornly, cruelly denying me offspring, especially while she's with child.

Damn it. Now I'm mad.

Suddenly it's almost Christmas, and I have no idea what to buy anyone. I'm totally baffled. I'm baffled and mad.

Pictures of the Day
This is the first inked draft of the comic. I hand lettered it, and it failed to make the grade. I re-lettered it on the computer before I tweaked the art digitally. It's due tomorrow, and I'm doing last-second polishing of the faucets on the Titanic.

Wednesday, December 2


Your Mom dropped by the office to hand me pants expanders for Your Sister. We're now officially using maternity wear. She can no longer suck in the little pouch. Makes sense; we are just shy of 12 weeks.

She walks to work and back unless it's raining, like today. She says it's becoming harder to make it up that hill and blames Roo. I pointed out that it's also colder out there, and breathing hard goes with outdoor fall activity. She shrugged it off and said, nope, it's the pregnancy. OK. I know not these things.

We're asked often about deliveries and plans, but we rarely talk about it. Your Mom wondered about a pool birth, and I think we'll deviate from the standard dry, prone method only if the doctor recommends it. We focus on the current necessities: diet, clothes, exercise. We have plenty of time to transition to the delivery and everything after.

I printed out a draft of the comic for Your Sister to read. It went over well but needs tweaking to sell the humor. I decided to try digitally drawing the corrections using my small tablet. This morning, I redrew a panel on the computer, saving myself the time of sketching, inking, and scanning. I can see a total digital transition for my comic work if I get a bigger tablet. It's damn convenient. The comic is due Friday, and I have plenty of time to adjust it before the submission. Unlike my senior student who will need superhuman efforts just to complete his project. I shouldn't be smug about competing with a teenager for comic production, but my process is again proven to work.

Moving Picture of the Day
This Spanish language trailer for Lost reveals more than the English promos.

Tuesday, December 1

Allegations and Bad Planning

My senior student called me last night to say he had just opened his template package. He claimed to have forgotten about it over the holiday break. He couldn't hear my eyes rolling. He claims to have finished all his preliminary work and is ready to begin in earnest. He has exactly one week to draw 24 pages (his new page count) and the covers and Xerox four copies and assemble them into individual issues and prepare his senior portfolio. I have folding money that says it's gonna be crap. We're to meet Saturday to finalize the project, and I intend to warn his teachers about his lazy-ass ways. What he turns in cannot be regarded as what I tried to teach him. I think the one-page story I'm turning into the school literary magazine will show the distance between his lame work and a designed comic. I turn that in Friday.

+ + +

My theatre liaison called me yesterday afternoon to ask again if I'd direct a play next summer. He had mentioned this most recently when I saw the Halloween play he directed, and it was a suggestion he made in script committees a few months back. He called on behalf of the latest artistic director, his replacement, who wanted the directors all set before the new season started.

Before, I had said I would have to see about directing the offered play (Mousetrap). It's a much larger challenge than directing the one-act this past spring. I had my doubts about it even then. Directing a one-act took up so much of my time that I dreaded tackling any three-act play, much less the longest running play in theatre history and the standard for parlor mysteries. My answers weren't coy. They started off as "hmm, maybe"and quickly shifted to "I can't do it." Now I was asked point blank to say yea or nay. I did, and I added the best alibi possible: My wife is expecting. I may not leave the house next year, I said. Congratulations followed as did the newest eye-rolling, head-slapping story of the local company.

The theatre leases the local Legion Hall to host its shows. It's a five-year contract with the option of doubling that. The Legion has been good about working with the theatre for upgrading the premises. The theatre has installed a nice new curtain system both on and offstage. Plans are afoot to renovate the kitchen and pantry to allow for more variety in intermission food sales. One big project was scrapping and rebuilding the green room. After some stupendous estimates from an architectural firm, the theatre was saved by an offer from the Legion. They would provide the labor free and build the green room if the theatre bought the new equipment (window units, lights, furniture, etc.). The estimate shrank from $50,000 to $5,000 to about $2,500. It was a godsend for a cash-strapped company. The Legion recently went the extra mile and offered to host a fundraising BBQ, with a chunk of the money going to the theatre to pay for that green room. The Legion advertised it in the paper and around town.

What did the theatre do? Stayed completely away. No one showed up to either volunteer or buy food. The Legion folks are pissed and declared they will not provide any labor for any projects, including the green room. That's gonna double the current estimate again. And the Christmas show starts in a few weeks.

My liaison is no longer my official theatre connection. He decided to relinquish his positions and step away, except to direct an upcoming show. He and I can equally share the freedom from entanglements in bad decisions and follow-through. Good night and good luck.

+ + +

Your Sister had a hankering for Ruebens last night The sandwiches, not the artist. I had never made nor eaten one. They're pretty good. Sauerkraut isn't bad at all. We didn't have any of this where I grew up. The closest we got to sauerkraut was boiled cabbage. Your Sister liked what I made and followed it with the rest of the cranberry salad leftovers.

+ + +

We got our second creditor phone call with a year looking for my ex-wife. I suspect she's gone off the grid and living with someone whose name is on every bill. Jesus, am I glad we didn't have kids.

Picture of the Day
These are the initial sketches for the comic story. I knew I wanted to talk about running and where the mind goes. On the top right of the first image, you can see the page design I envisioned: lots of boxes with prose outside the art. That changed to a more traditional format, seen below. The title, Running Through My Mind, was a no-brainer.

Monday, November 30

I'm Gonna Babble About How We Got Here

Now I can finally post about what's really going on in the house: Baby preparations.

Your Sister snacks constantly to ward off nausea. She got sick for the first time Saturday night, and I blame the restaurant's olive-oil dip. Also, she devoured the complementary bread after a few hours of an empty stomach. That couldn't help. She slept all day yesterday. I mean, all day. I'm worried she's going to be insurmountably behind in her weekend grading.

I, it turns out, am nesting. Without knowing it, I've become focused on home improvement. I was told last week that this is an instinct. Your Sister was warned by a parental magazine and disregarded it. The next morning, she says, I announced the gutters needed my attention. It's continued since. I'm a slave to nature.

We ate the Thanksgiving leftovers and the rest of the BBQ last night. Thanks again for that; it was bueno. Your Sis has declared chicken verboten in the house for now; the thought of it makes her ill. The pork you brought hit the spot.

We told Your Aunt about Roo on Friday, and she called back to suggest two names: Balthazar and another that sounds like "Brasilius." We thanked her, hung up the phone, and threw it into a fire. Your Sis talked to My Mom Sunday, and we all compared notes. Mom explained that she was stunned when we told her and gradually grew to happiness. It had to set in. She said she had written us off as breeders because we had been married so long (only four years, I reminded her), and we hadn't told anyone we were trying.

The second item probably requires some clarification. No, we told only a few people, and those were folks I knew from high school who have become moms. I wanted anecdotal advice from people at a distance. Then we had actual news to relay, we'd announce it to the world. I was worried about how long it might take to be pregnant, and I didn't want Your Sister subjected to fertility advice and requests for updates. I didn't want outside impatience to badger her. Luckily, we had no problems. As in, it was virtually immediate. That was a jolt. Turns out the abstinence-only advocates weren't spouting total gibberish after all. But let's hear it for Planned Parenthood and sex ed for allowing us to start a pregnancy when we wanted and when we were ready.

And we do think we're ready. We talked about this off and on for a year and decided in spring to make arrangements. That's when we started our name list (Good, Maybe, and Oh God No). When we found out we hit paydirt (Oct. 25), we began to skulk around store baby sections to check the equipment. We even printed out random registries at Target so we'd have an alibi if we were caught by friends. Mom offered to buy all the baby furniture, and we told her we appreciated it, and there was tons of time to window shop and make our must-have lists.

Your Sister suggested we tell you in advance, and I poo-pooed it. It's my fault. She mentioned it again recently, and I asked her if it was really a good idea to drop that bomb via a phone call while you were preparing for exams. I reminded you that a certain dim bulb did something similar, and she agreed we'd wait. It quickly becomes a burden to have such info that can't be shared. We each almost leaked to several people, and the wait was painful. Then, wouldn't you know, she was in wrenching tears Thursday at the thought of telling her family. She was terrified at the possible reactions. So I jumped on the grenade. That's why I was the one to say it. She admitted later she was silly to panic. Wild emotions are apparently par of the pregnant course.

Me, I have no nerves. I realize our convenient schedules will be compromised, and we will not know a decent night's sleep for years. Then I recall why we decided to do this: Not only will Your Sis make a great mom, but we feel the need to intelligently raise a kid. To combat through benevolent nurturing the madness we see around us. Our kid is an investment, a literal vessel of hope for better. This wasn't done because we're bored or envious of parents. We debated this for a year and checked our motives each time. We can do this right, and we can't wait much longer. In we jumped. Off we go.

We made a gingerbread house with Brooke Saturday as her parents enjoyed a night out with friends. She clung pretty tight to me starting Thursday afternoon and all through the weekend. We all went to the Grove Park Inn to see the gingerbread houses, and that scene was a zoo. Carrying her for two days was a fantastic workout. It also somewhat proved that we can watch a child without anyone exploding.

This blog won't change to cuddly-coo baby stories. I assure you. But I'll let you know how we're doing. We're officially at eleven weeks today. Roo is the height of a small lime and has fingernails, so the guidebook says.

Picture of the Day
The impending golden child in no way infringes upon our geekdom.