So, my Dad’s getting remarried in just over a week, and I feel like I want to talk about that.

Her name’s Alice. She’s pleasant, gets on well with children, has a real heart for volunteer service (much like Dad) and is twice widowed herself. They seem like a real good fit for one another and it’s certainly not something that any of us have had a strong reason to be opposed to. We’ve actually known that this was coming for a little while now, but everything has been very hush-hush because…I guess I’m not sure? Dad seems extremely reluctant to talk about relationship things, and the wedding is going to be a small affair for family in Alice’s backyard.

That part right there has been weird for Lori and me, because usually things like this are exciting! And people want to make announcements and get excited with the people around them! But we also recognize that we don’t know what it’s like to be in that stage of life, having been through what both of them have been through. Maybe we wouldn’t want to make a big deal out of it either.

Most people ask how I feel about all of it, and I say, “Fine…?” Again, I think they’re a good fit, and all of the children are adults — and mostly living elsewhere — so it’s not like it changes very much about our day-to-day living. I’m grappling a little bit with the idea of having a stepmother and stepsiblings, but not in a negative way so much as just…turning the idea over and looking at it. Repeating it to myself.

And actually, one of my new stepbrothers sounds fascinating and like somebody I could get on very well with, but! He lives and works in Taipei, so, unlikely we’re going for coffee anytime soon

On that note — Alice and sons have been cleaning up the house to make way for Dad to move in, and while talking about that I was thrilled to learn that this future stepbrother left behind a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons books, and records by a band named Rush. In this area, there’s still a lot of suspicion of D&D left over from the “Satanic Panic” years of the 1980s, so Alice had been advised to just destroy them altogether, but she wasn’t sure. My brother Lloyd and I made the case that D&D is fine, just a framework for group storytelling and adventures really, and in the end she seemed willing to turn them over to me (!!!) for which I would have been extremely grateful.

However, a trip to her house last night revealed that they weren’t D&D at all but the “Mysteries of the Unknown” hardcover set, interesting and valuable in their own right but certainly not what I was expecting. Future stepbrother’s (I’m not being coy, his name honestly escapes me at this moment) record collection was awesome, though. Big stack of 1970s prog rock including Yes, Rush, lots of Jethro Tull. Super cool

Anyway life is an adventure and a weird old thing, and sometimes you find yourself revisiting the story you tell about yourself in order to add a chapter that you never thought you would.

Thing I Saw: A concert program from Jethro Tull’s 1979 tour, which folded out to a pretty cool poster.

Thing I Learned: Alice’s house has cozy guest rooms but doesn’t seem to have any video games at all, so I may just quietly install something retro to complete the place.

I’m Grateful For: Dad finding somebody good for him, so he doesn’t have to be lonely

Get Over Yourself

Alright, okay, it’s Wednesday and I’m at least a little buzzed on coffee, too much to get anything useful done, let’s update the blog!

CORRECTION: I just realized it’s Tuesday.

So I have this problem, and the problem is that I want to play Dungeons & Dragons or some sort of tabletop RPG with people. (Maybe Tales from the Loop, which seems 100% in my wheelhouse but oh gosh the bundle is over a hundred dollars)

Solution: get my group of friends to play, right? We’ve spent time in various D&D editions before, we could do it again. Wrong! Our group is fragmented over the summer, so getting a consistent time to play would be challenging at best. Plus nobody wants to DM the game, so I usually end up doing it, and I don’t want to, because it’s a lot of work. Lastly, story and character stuff never really hooked them in; mostly my pals just want to do fun dungeon crawls and fight monsters. Which, you know, is a fine way to play. But I want something meatier. I want to do the role playing part. Plus of all the DM jobs, running combat was my least favourite. My friends like tactical stuff and I don’t.

Possible Solution: I saw some signs at the used game store for some local D&D groups that were running. Now I really know nothing about these or the people involved; I guess I could check them out, but my fear is that I’ll be much older than the others and make it weird for everybody. I mean, writing that down I guess I can’t know anything about the demographics of them. I’m actually just taking myself out of the running because of my own anxieties and hangups. And truthfully I look at signs like that and still think “yeah but what if they’re weeeeirrd” which is this ancient, super ridiculous nerd culture bias that I’m still learning to overcome. I need to remember that I’m not better than anybody, and I definitely can’t throw stones at people for being “weird”.

Okay so, I guess, the way to face my anxiety down is to reach out and inquire to these folks! See what’s up and then decide to join or not! And even if I went to a session, I don’t have to feel obligated, right? Take my own advice to others in this season of my life? Aw heck

Thing I Saw: In This Corner Of The World, a gorgeous, charming, sometimes heartbreaking slice-of-life drama about a young Japanese woman living through World War II. It’s on Netflix and I really recommend it.

Thing I Learned: Oh my gosh! So! Lori just casually tossed out, a few days ago, the fact that when you eat or talk only your lower jaw is moving, of course, because your upper jaw is like, fused to your cranium and only that lower one’s on the hinge, right? Reader, this blew my mind. It makes sense but I’ve just never thought about it, and the weirdest thing is that it feels so much like the upper jaw is moving! Lori laughed and laughed while I freaked out for a while. I had to look at myself in a mirror while moving my mouth. Ugh! So weird.

I’m Grateful For: Actually my job, even though I don’t love the day-to-day work that I do. But I do love the freedom it gives me, and I feel like this year I’m making some progress on my mental health as well.

Word of warning: I post a lot of chill music at the end of these entries but this song is very loud and fast.

They’re Canadian!

Making Lists

So I’m slowly listening to a podcast interview of a couple of Enneagram 9’s, and one of the questions they were asked is what brings them joy. Hearing this, and identifying as a 9 (the Peacemaker) myself, I asked myself the same question. It might or might surprise you to know that I couldn’t answer right away. I decided I want a space where I can think about it and write some things down, rather than go ’round in circles in my head, and what do you know? I have a blog.

So! Things That Bring Nathan Joy, 2019 Edition:

Oh no wait, before I start, you should know that I had to look up the word “joy” to make sure I was doing this right, while being completely aware that this was probably not necessary but I want to make sure I’m following the rules properly


…Google says “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” for the record.

In no particular order!

  • Singing / playing ukulele in my church worship team.
  • Making people laugh.
  • Successfully baking something.
  • Buying delicious pastries.
  • Playing Rock Band with pals.
  • Having an idea in my art, pursuing it, and along the way making further tweaks that build it into something better than I originally envisioned.
  • When my own comics would make me giggle. (often after the above)
  • Sharing a meal with Cassidy.
  • Singing and/or carrying on a ‘bit’ with Lori.
  • Particularly well-made video games, like the Outer Wilds or lately, Titanfall 2 (when I notice while I’m playing, haha)

Okay that list feels pretty solid. It’s not exhaustive but it’s good. Phew. I seize up when I think about things like that, and I can get into this unproductive headspace where I spiral downwards because “Oh no, I can’t think of anything” -> “I should be able to think of something” -> “What if I’ve never experienced joy” -> “oh no oh no” and so on.

Thing I Saw: A few episodes of Netflix’s Dark, a German show that drew me in by being vaguely similar to Stranger Things but is rather more mature in content and tone. It’s a sci-fi thriller set in a small town with a nuclear power facility looming over it, and some shady things that may or may not be happening within. Also yes, like Stranger there is a missing child and part of the show is set in the 1980s. As a change, though, this show leans more into the ‘everybody is connected and has secrets’ vibe of a small-town mystery, and like I said, it’s a lot less funny. I’m going to keep watching.

Thing I Learned: Following the above — this isn’t exactly new information to me, but recently reinforced; it turns out I’m really fascinated by science fiction involving mysterious government facilities. Especially if they a.)are in proximity to a small town and b.)employ chunky, Cold War-era technology. Side note, a couple of years ago, Lori and I went on a couples retreat to the Wilderness Edge Conference Centre in Pinawa, and I found out that the place is actually the converted dormitories and buildings of a decommissioned nuclear research facility. You can bet my imagination was spinning for a lot of the weekend. (Their dining room)

I’m Grateful For: my life not being joyless.


Right Place / Time

Last week, Lori and I were leaving a friends’ house after dinner when I made eye contact with a young man walking a bicycle up the street. He shouted my name and I realized it was someone I knew from a long time back, who we’ll call Doug.

Doug is a little younger than me and somebody I talked to a lot when I worked at the game store, just out of high school. He was a kind of energetic, eager kid brother that I never had, really enthusiastic about anime and video games. Had sort of a funny tendency to ‘shift personalities’ every few weeks, meaning he was the sort of person who was all about [thing] right now and [thing] was the Best Thing ever and could never be topped. Then time would pass and seemingly without warning he’d be all about [new thing] which was so much better than [thing], which was old garbage and no longer worth discussing. But the thing is, I wouldn’t have called him a liar; he always seemed genuine.

He asked how I was doing and I said “okay”, which is generally what I say these days, with varying intonations and pauses before answering. Reflexively I asked back, and rather candidly he said “shitty!”. Rapidly and nervously, he went on to say that he’d fallen in with a bad crowd — he didn’t say the words, but I got that drugs were probably involved — and he was looking to change. “I thought about Teen Challenge but I don’t know, that’s like, not really my thing…” he said, while looking away.

Then suddenly, looking at me again: “Do you think I should do it?”

“Well,” I said, “They’ve been in our church a few times and it seems like they do really good work in people’s lives.” And then, drawing from something I’ve been learning lately, I added: “At least you can go introduce yourself, and see what they’re all about. And if it’s not for you, then you know.”

Doug seemed to take this in, and said yeah, maybe he would go do that, then. “It’s just, you’ve always been somebody I really looked up to, and whose opinion I respected, and you introduced me to so much good anime and like…” — his voice got a little thicker, here — “I love you, man.” After which he stammered unnecessary apologies about not meaning it in that way.

All of this conversation happened very quickly.

“No, it’s cool, I get it.” I said. “I love you too.”

After this, with no further eye contact, he quickly said goodbye and hurried away up the sidewalk. Lori had long finished loading Cassidy into the car, and heard most of the exchange. We chatted about it a bit on the way home, but it was really the next morning that I started to think — oh, shouldn’t I have said this, or that, or done more and on and on.

But I mean, I’m not meant to be his Saviour, I don’t think. He’s not my project to fix. I think I did what I could do, which was to be present at a time and place where I could listen for a moment and then say just something to let Doug know that somebody cares about him. And of course, I can pray, and have done in the days since, when I think about the situation again.

I may not get to know what becomes of Doug, and this may not be the moment that changes anything for him. But I wanted to write it down.

Thing I Saw: My little girl mastering the (extremely short and simple) courses I’m designing for her in Super Mario Maker 2. She saw me play as Cat Mario and was intrigued, so I made a single-screen level in which Cat Mario basically has to run to the right to hit the goal. Then I’ve been slowly adding more elements; backtracking, blocks to break, a little bit of vertical movement via trampolines, etc. In just a few days she’s starting to grasp how to push the stick left and right, so I think jumping is the next challenge to overcome, but a good jump requires doing two things at once (left hand on stick, right hand to button) and I’m not entirely sure we’re there yet. Plenty of time!

Thing I Learned: If your neck and shoulders are sore and seizing up while working in the office, try raising your mouse and keyboard!

I’m Grateful For: Sunscreen and mometasone furoate, things that let me be outside with Cassidy during sunny summer days.

It’s like the soundtrack to a Legend of Zelda game I’ve never played