Blowing the Dust Off

It looks like it’s time to blow the dust off this blog again. Was the last entry really in November 2005? That doesn’t seem that long ago, but according to my calendar, it was about eight months ago. My, how time flies.

A number of things have come to pass since then, including gainful employment with IBM. In addition, I have a few more ComputorEdge articles under my belt, Keith and Logan are out of school for the year, and I have another writing opportunity taking shape behind this curtain over here.

But the most significant thing to happen in the last few months involves my wife, Lannette. She has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), a recognized disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. FMS is an often misunderstood malady, and some doctors don’t even recognize it as a valid disorder. Personally, I think they would recognize its validity if they had to deal with it from day to day.

I don’t have FMS, but I am familiar with it. I recognize it from when my brother had Fibromyalgia as a corrollary to Sjogren’s Syndrome. Lannette’s situation is a bit different, because FMS is her primary diagnosis; it is the source of unpredictable pain that moves all over her body from day to day. Living with FMS is a crap shoot for her. She just returned from a trip to visit family in the Pacific Northwest, and even though it was supposed to be a relaxing, renewing trip, it wore her out. She was exhausted when she arrived at DIA, and is taking it easy for a few days.

I’m constantly amazed by my wife. She’s the strongest survivor I’ve ever known. She was two blocks away from the Murrah Buiding in Oklahoma City when Timothy McVeigh blew it up on April 19th, 1995. She has been physically abused in ways that would stagger anyone, yet she still had the strength to fight back from all of that to start and administer an Internet newsgroup for women who have survived domestic violence.

I know that she will find her way through this challenge, find her “new normal.” She always has, always will.

MileHiCon 37

In my e-mail box today were a couple of documents from the MileHiCon planning committee. I’ve been selected to participate in a couple of panel discussions on Saturday and Sunday, which sounds really cool.

As much as I’ve always enjoyed science fiction and fantasy, and have always wanted to go to MileHiCon, I have never been able to attend. In recent years, that has been because it was held on the same weekend as the manager meetings for my former company. This year, that’s not a problem, and I’ve been selected to actually participate, not just attend. That’s pretty cool!

I’m not sure it’s okay for me to list the panel topics or other panel members yet, so I won’t do that. But I can say that I will be on panels with a couple of Guests of Honor, as well as a couple of local authors. I guess I qualify as a local author now too, since I’m publishing regularly in ComputorEdge. Cool, eh?

Since one of the panels on which I’m supposed to participate runs in the early afternoon, it looks like I will have to sit out the first part of my PokerStars blogger tournament, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

The last convention I participated in was the World Horror Convention 2000, for which I played guitar in the opening ceremonies. Before that, I have to go back all the way to 1987, when I helped organize a science fiction literature conference at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually gone to a con as a fan; I’ve always attended as either an organizer or participant in one of the events. Of course, that doesn’t mean my inner fanboy doesn’t get a chance to come out. 🙂

The Only Constant Is Change

There has been another gap in my journal entries. Those who know me well know that this indicates a period of stress. Unlike many bloggers, I don’t feel completely comfortable dumping my personal life on the Internet for all to see. My Creativity Journal is intended to be a structured blog about creativity, and when things are stressful, I usually don’t engage in creative activities as often.

This time is kind of different. Sure, there has been stress, but I have actually been engaging in more creative thinking over the last month and a half or so. Being unemployed gives one that luxury.

Yes, unemployed. Their choice, not mine.

Immediately after returning from my honeymoon with Lannette, my employer of over seven years dismissed me with no severance pay. I was not entirely surprised at the dismissal, but I was shocked that they did not offer me severance pay. The company has a history of giving severance packages, but for whatever reason, they chose not to do so this time. However, this is not a bitch session, it’s a Creativity Journal, right?

As you may have seen from the opening page of my site, since becoming jobless I have been getting more writing assignments from ComputorEdge magazine. My band, Steel River Three, has been playing private parties and we have publicly debuted my song “New Guy Smell.” I have considered making a career out of computer consulting, freelance writing, and music, and have received nothing but support from Lannette while I explore this idea. (Thank you, honey.)

Another thing I have discovered is that I’m pretty good at Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. I had read Wil Wheaton‘s blog entries about playing in the World Series of Poker and landing a gig as a PokerStars.com team player. A few months before being fired, I had purchased Dataviz software’s Hold ‘Em High program for my Treo 650, and practiced in hopes of being able to sit down at a table in Las Vegas on the honeymoon. Alas, that was not to be due to lack of funds, but I enjoyed playing poker on the handheld anyway. When I found I had some free time on my hands (and no money) at home, I began playing in play money tournaments at PokerStars.

Now, PokerStars has decided to hold a free tournament for bloggers only. The prize package looks great, and I have nothing to lose except a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Registration for the tournament required pasting an advertisment on the blog, which I did on the main page of this site. Normally, I don’t go for that kind of thing on my site, but I’ll allow it temporarily as a condition of my tournament entry. Who knows? Maybe I’ll play *really* well and get hired as a blogger for PokerStars!

Look out, Wil, here I come. 😉

Rainy Sunset

I took this picture with my camera phone tonight while on a grocery store run.

Rainy Sunset
This is why I live near the Rockies. When mother nature contrives to create images like this, I remember to take a deep breath, enjoy the gift, and put everything in perspective.

Life has been rough at times over the last couple of years, with family illness, a divorce, very tight finances, and my job not going as well as I would have liked. But there are bright spots, and I think that is what Mother Nature is trying to tell me.

I’m getting married again in a few weeks, and in that marriage, I gain not only a loving, supportive, intellectual wife, but I gain a new son. I will never attempt to interfere with Logan’s relationship with his real father, but for those times when his Dad is not able to be there for him, I hope to be an able assistant.

Another bright spot of the last couple of years is my band, Steel River Three. We haven’t made much money, but we have managed to play several different venues and are starting to notice familiar faces at the shows. I’ve become much more comfortable playing and singing in front of people, and recently wrote my first song in over eight years.

The writing is taking off a bit, too. The articles for ComputorEdge are not only bringing in a bit of extra money, they have given me the confidence to submit more work to different markets. As I mentioned in the last entry, I submitted a piece to NPR, and yesterday I submitted a short-short story to the new science fiction/horror magazine Apex Digest. The response time for that market is listed as 20-30 days, so I hope to hear whether the story was accepted by mid July. I also have another story idea that might be right up that magazine’s alley, but I have to write it before I can submit it. 😉

Yes, there have been challenges in my life recently, many of them brought on by myself, but I need to remember that not all is dark and stormy. As people in the Pacific Northwest might say, the sun breaks are a reason for celebration.

Writing Songs and Articles

Last night I sent my latest article to ComputorEdge, entitled “Communication at the Speed of Life.” The article is about communications and network advances in the medical field.

Today, I got another assignment from that editor, and Lannette and I will be co-writing an article for a November issue. Looks like the writing gig is starting to show a little action, at least in terms of non-fiction sales.

I’ve also submitted an essay to NPR’s This I Believe series. If my essay is chosen, I will be asked to record a reading of it for the series. Oh, and I’ll get a couple hundred bucks. This writing stuff is taking off at just the right time; I can really use the extra money right now.

Friday, I debuted my latest song, “New Guy Smell” with Steel River Three. I have a recording of “New Guy Smell,” but I’m not happy with the vocals. I need to re-record it. When I do, I’ll post an MP3 on this site.

Logan leaves tomorrow for a month-long stay with his grandparents in Washington state. We won’t see him until just before the wedding. I’m going to miss the kiddo.

In general, there are a lot of things going on in my life right now. At some point, I need to get a storage shed built. There are always bills to catch up on. I have some website updates to perform, both personal and for other people. And oh yeah, there’s this wedding coming up, too.

Sometimes it seems life is a series of “must-dos,” and that there’s not much room for creativity. I’m glad I’m able to keep the creativity going for right now.