Letters to Holly

Friday, May 7

Big Things Abound

This is a lesson that everyone -- not just pregnant teachers -- can glean precious wisdom from: Don't eat brown celery.

Your Sis became peckish a few hours after devouring the alfredo she breathlessly requested (Was she sopping from the pan? She was sopping from the pan.) and reached for celery. It was old. She observed this. She ignored this. She regretted this.

I came out of the workshop at midnight to find her pale and icky and praying to vomit. She rolled her eyes up and noticed a spider the size of an Ewok on the ceiling. I told her I'd wrangle it while she imagined ostrich feathers. By the time I dropped an elbow on the spider, she had purged. This was after she discovered that she couldn't kneel next to the toilet with that Roo belly. She used the trashcan on the sink counter and felt better immediately. She sipped ginger ale, and we watched Craig Ferguson until she was done.

That will probably be what raising a baby will be like.

Your Sister said she wanted to use her name vote for the middle name and continue the family tradition of Penns. I said I thought that was the plan all along. It appears I get to pick the first name now. The first name to be disqualified is Sean. I can't name a kid Sean Penn.

Hours earlier, we were attacked by a hailstorm. I put video on FB. Again, I'm glad I hadn't started the garden. I rented a tiller for the weekend, and I'll break ground the same day we go to the prom. Also, I shall chop down a dead peach tree.

Even earlier, I prepared a press release about the Asheville convention and my table for the town newspaper. I was pretty happy with it until I opened said paper's latest edition and saw another con press release in the arts section. Gah. And, yes, the paper still runs press releases verbatim. However, that was balanced by an invitation to appear on a local radio show about comics. I might do that the weekend following the convention. I didn't hear anything from an Asheville newspaper reporter regarding an interview about the con.

Also in that paper was an article about Prairie Home Companion broadcasting live from the music center in August. That's about three miles from our house. I bought tickets immediately. My birthday weekend so far includes the release of the Scott Pilgrim movie and PHC the next day.

Picture of the Day
And now I face the morning.

Thursday, May 6

This Year's Second-Most Anticipated Delivery

This is what 300 minicomics look like. My friend at OfficeMax met me at the door and completed the purchase. The price was half -- half!-- of what I expected. I thought the estimate I was given covered only the 20-page mini. I figured that the passage of months since that estimate would mean the actual price for the hero comic would be maybe 20% higher given the ever-rising cost of paper. Then I'd pay something close to double that for both comics. Nope. The final price for both was $30 more than the estimate. That's a steal.

The print quality isn't consistent. There are some jagged edges to at least one page's artwork. When I saw that on the initial proof copy, I was assured that was due to a quick "proof" printing to set the print template. Not so, it seems. I'm not terribly upset; it doesn't distract much from the story, and it's possible the casual reader wouldn't notice. I'm in publication. It leaps to my eye. I don't think a request for a do-over would get my books on time, and I'm lucky to have found a store close to home that would/could handle the job this well. It's not perfect, but it's not as if the art was professional quality to begin with.

Also, 300 comics is a smaller bundle than I feared. I envisioned stacks of copy paper boxes. I thought I'd need a dolly to get them to the convention table. Now I think I can get everything from my car to my assigned spot in one trip.

Here I am with the vast majority of convention preparation done. Feels odd to be set this far in advance. I'm wracked with anxiety that the comics will spontaneously combust. But that's tempered with astonishment that I have made actual comic books.

We tried to hit the local Mexican restaurant for Cinco de Mayo and found half the county there. All items were half-price, even the beer. It was madness. We retreated from the mob and got pizza at the nearby sports bar.

Back home, we swapped name lists. She had more than ten names because she's a rebel. Both of us added names from the other's list. We then agreed to let the lists simmer on a shelf before we start the official whittling. My ideas are proper and inspiring. Her picks do nothing for me. But she admitted she has no affinity for boy names.

I learned the new local roller derby team, the French Broads, is holding a logo contest, and I am absolutely giving that a shot.

Awesome Consumer Demographic Marketing of the Day
The Tom Tom GPS system now offers Star Wars voices. Behold:

Wednesday, May 5

We're Now Like A School on Saturday

We missed your call last night because we were scarfing down dinner before the last birthing class. The nurse asked us if we minded finishing early; she's preparing to move this weekend, and she's still packing. The doctor scheduled to talk to us couldn't make it, and this felt very much like the last day of school. Motions were run through, and time was filled in a causal manner. Not that I'm complaining.

We saw slides of new babies and learned about skull molding, jaundice, and other physical distortions we could expect to see. We saw the various stations of the delivery room, including circumcision (no longer covered by insurance, now considered cosmetic surgery). She quizzed us on PURE and COAT and was surprised the calls knew them so well.

Admission: I nailed it. Your Sister, who wrote down the acronyms last week, couldn't recall them and was astonished I could. I told her I came to play. Also, she has pregnant brains and a head cold. She's allowed.

We then toured the birthing center and its four delivery rooms. They're small, which will help us keep the traffic low, and there's a chair for dads to sleep in. I think I'll take the floor. The security measures are comforting: two bracelets and a floor sensor five feet from the birthing-center exit.

We returned to the conference room for a well-intentioned but lengthy presentation from a local dental charity. Most of the lecture concerned children 2 years old and above. We'll be lucky to remember any of this. What pertained to us was the hope we'd clean the baby's gums regularly. We were given a finger sock for this; it looks like a tiny sweatband. We do live in a county with an accelerated tooth decay rate for kids, but we know to avoid the sugary drinks. Then again, the lecturer all but discouraged milk, including breast milk, because of its sugar content. She did, however, recommend fluoride toothpaste for kids, saying the additive's risks were exaggerated. We also saw a five-minute video from the early '90s saying exactly what the lecturer said earlier.
I don't think we're her normal audience. I suspect we're 20 years older than the new parents she usually addresses. While we sat for this 15-minute spiel, we were handed a flyer to teach us infant CPR. This should have been reversed.

We returned home to watch Lost in which shit went down. She has made her name list, but we have yet to compare them.

MUPPET NEWS FLASH: I just got a call from the printer. My comics are ready. I won't be able to get them for another eight hours. Gah.

A Thought Experiment
If you had to condense The White Album into one album, what songs would you keep from a count between 12 and 14?

The original tracks:
1) Back in the USSR (Lennon/McCartney)
2) Dear Prudence (Lennon/McCartney)
3) Glass Onion (Lennon/McCartney)
4) Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Lennon/McCartney)
5) Wild Honey Pie (Lennon/McCartney)
6) The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Lennon/McCartney)
7) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Harrison)
8) Happiness is a Warm Gun (Lennon/McCartney)
9) Martha My Dear (Lennon/McCartney)
10) I'm So Tired (Lennon/McCartney)
11) Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney)
12) Piggies (Harrison)
13) Rocky Raccoon (Lennon/McCartney)
14) Don't Pass Me By (Starkey)
15) Why Don't We Do It In the Road? (Lennon/McCartney)
16) I Will (Lennon/McCartney)
17) Julia (Lennon/McCartney)

1) Birthday (Lennon/McCartney)
2) Yer Blues (Lennon/McCartney)
3) Mother Nature's Son (Lennon/McCartney)
4) Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey (Lennon/McCartney)
5) Sexy Sadie (Lennon/McCartney)
6) Helter Skelter (Lennon/McCartney)
7) Long, Long, Long (Harrison)
8) Revolution I (Lennon/McCartney)
9) Honey Pie (Lennon/McCartney)
10) Savoy Truffle (Harrison)
11) Cry Baby Cry (Lennon/McCartney)
12) Revolution 9 (Lennon/McCartney)
13) Good Night (Lennon/McCartney)

I went with these and rearranged the sequence:
1. Revolution I (Lennon/McCartney) (except I'd use the electric guitar version)
2. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey (Lennon/McCartney)
3. Dear Prudence (Lennon/McCartney)
4. Cry Baby Cry (Lennon/McCartney)
5. Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney)
6. Julia (Lennon/McCartney)
7. Back in the USSR (Lennon/McCartney)
8. Birthday (Lennon/McCartney)
9. Helter Skelter (Lennon/McCartney)
10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Harrison)
11. Savoy Truffle (Harrison)
12. Martha My Dear (Lennon/McCartney)
13. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Lennon/McCartney)

Very Expensive Picture of the Day
Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sold for $106.5 million at auction yesterday, a record price for a work of art. I like the Gaugin fruit in the left corner.

Tuesday, May 4

Omissions Everywhere

I forgot to mention this yesterday because I have the dumbs: We spent Saturday night scanning the bookshelves for author and character names. I moved across the book spines, announcing the names, and she scribbled them all down before I realized what she was doing. I intended for her to vote yea or nay before making additions to the list. Now our list looks insane. I suggested we each pick out the ten names that we prefer and then compare the lists later. The communal choices go to a new list, and then we pick from that.

I made my list of ten names last night. It was harder than I thought to stretch it to ten. I could have stopped to five. I have no problem with using Your Father's and Brother's name as a middle name. My preferred names, then, should read well with that one. We ought to have a name in a few weeks, and the media will be alerted.

Your Sister was feeling icky again and stayed home. A doctor's visit told her the baby is fine, but she's worn out. I'm fighting something too and of course blame any contact with children for infecting us.

The medieval comic was released to the world this weekend, and it does not feature Your Sister's name. I understand. It's a huge comic (109 pages!), and it was probably slapped together by a small crew of overworked illustrators. Still, I waited a few days before informing her, and I felt awful about it. It's her first comic, and she worked hard on it. I sent the publisher an email weeks ago specifically asking for her name to run alongside mine. Vengeance must be meted out, and I shall sic the spooky Twilight Zone boy on those responsible.

Picture Fraught With Prepubescent Peril of the Day

There. Now they've got what-for.

Monday, May 3

Meet and Greet

As I dove home Friday, Your Sister met with a teacher buddy to catch up and swap maternal stories. She told me during dinner later that the friend was complaining about having no time to grade papers. She leaves school, buys groceries, cooks, feeds her kids, plays with them, bathes them, and puts them to bed before she can even think of grading. It was noted that her husband doesn't help out. Your Sister used to as an entree to say she was lucky to have me as a husband compared to some of her friends and their husbands.

I stifled my constant reaction to comments like this: They married badly. Nice people, all, and I have no intention of lecturing folks on their marriages. But this is why you kick the tires a bit before you wed. This doesn't discount the possibility that spouses change behavior later in the marriage. It happens. But a self-respecting husband does his share. Maintain a competitive market value, I say. Wives talk about us, and having the county's best husband can only balance

We drove down to Spartanburg Saturday for the latest shower. This was thrown by cousins of cousins at the church where I grew up. This church was my second house; I was there Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday nights. And vacation bible school and revivals. Sometimes we were the first people there. My parents had keys to the doors. I gave Your Sister a tour of the place and related stories, such as the spot where I ran into a door with glass and needed stitches. The shower was great; we got loads of stuff we needed and tasty cake leftovers. One gift was a toy dog a neighbor gave us and signed it with the name of the dog I had as a kid. That got to me. I was surprised by my reaction.

Before the shower, we stopped by my hometown comic store. I visited with the owner and took advantage of the annual Free Comic Book Day. I showed off the pregnant wife a bit. I admit it. But I also ran into one of the comic couple I knew from days gone by. Her husband died the same year as my dad and uncle, and that made for a tough few months. She looked great. I met her new husband, and she seemed hesitant to introduce him, as if I would disapprove. I scuttled that anxiety immediately. I'm glad to see her happy and with a husband who encourages/shares her interests. They're still technically newlyweds and appeared goofy in love.

We drove home just in time to see the Kentucky Derby at the local pub. I think we're missed seeing it together in person once since we started dating, but we did watch it together over the phone. I was in Orlando for work in 2006.

She felt ill all day Sunday and slept while I worked on convention stuff. Later in the afternoon, I cracked open the videogame I bought in early April as a reward for finishing the comic. I'm slacking on tying up the loose ends. I'm forcing myself through this last 10% of the con preparation.

Picture of the Day
Einstein's desk from the day he died.