In which I relive someone else’s childhood

I’ve said this before, on more than one occasion: forget about what year you were born; the clearest delineating line between those of us commonly assigned Generation X and the Millennials is the answer to the question Did Pokémon play any role in your childhood? If no: Gen X. If yes: Millennial. Now, that falls apart when talking to people younger than the Millennials, but it’s a pretty damn good rule of thumb for the “currently middle-aged or approaching same” generations.

If you are seven, Pokémon has a good chance of being your life, especially if you are a seven-year-old boy. Which my son is. He has hundreds of Pokémon cards (he has never actually played the game, at least not correctly) a wide variety of Pokémon-themed clothing, Pokémon stuffed animals, Pokémon pajamas, books, you name it.

I don’t know shit about this stuff. I am 42. I think in a lot of ways I have more in common with Millennials than my own generation (I have never really identified with Gen X; if pushed, I’ll claim the Star Wars or Oregon Trail generations) but I am totally in the cold on this Pokémon thing. I think it started hitting when I was in high school, too old to notice it, but I’m not really sure. My younger brother was never into it either so I missed it by a good several years.

Point is, we bought Pokémon Let’s Go: Pikachu for the Switch yesterday and the whole goddamn family has been playing the game all day today. It was my idea; I am bound and determined to understand something about this weird-ass bullshit and if a roleplaying game can’t pull me into Pokémon on at least a superficial level then nothing can. I gotta say, other than the standard garbage control scheme that comes with every single Switch game (motion controls can die in a fire; I don’t ever want them again in anything I play, ever again) it’s actually a pretty good time; the boy was ecstatic about it, and the Switch has owned the TV all day. Under ordinary circumstances I might look askance upon the idea of literally spending the entire day playing video games; it’s snowy as hell outside and a three-day weekend and right now Daddy don’t care. I’m gonna find out what the fuck a Machamp is this weekend if it kills me, and I swear to God I just looked over and told him to go find some “ground types” to fight in a “gym” so he can earn a “badge.” I think I might have even used the terms correctly.

So, yeah. Weather outside is frightful and all that. What are y’all doing?

In which I get rid of my childhood, and my teenage years, and my adulthood, and my middle age, and then almost die

unnamed.jpgI’ve been collecting comic books since I was nine, and with the exception of a couple of years when I was living in Chicago without a car and no real access to a comic shop I’ve never really stopped.  It’s probably safe to say that at 40 I’m spending more money on comics than I ever have, actually, due to a combination of disposable income, comics being generally really good right now, and the effect of inflation on the prices of the books themselves.

Hogwarts is having what amounts to a building-wide garage sale next weekend.  I just donated about 3500 comics– somewhere around half of my collection, pictured there to the right.  This is, I’m pretty sure, the first time I’ve divested myself of any substantial portion of my collection.  I spent most of this morning going through those boxes and pulling out anything that I thought might damage tiny little private-school brains, or at least anything that the wealthy parents of those tiny little private-school brains might think would damage them.

I really like comic books, but they’re really heavy and they take up a ton of room.  I figure I’ve bought myself another decade before I have to purge the collection again.  I did warn the nice lady who came by to pick them up to not expect to make a mint from them and that selling them for a dime or a quarter apiece might be a good idea just to ensure they move; we’ll see what happens.  I may go to the sale just to see what happens or I may not; I feel like both seeing my comics get sold off to other people or seeing them sit there alone and unacknowledged might be depressing, so I probably won’t go.

But hey.  There’s a lot of space cleared out in the office now.  That’s good, right?

In other news, knowing a stranger was coming to my house to help me load up the boxes, I tried to attack the patch of vines near my front door that has overgrown our steps and walkway.  We’ve neglected it lately because the mosquitoes are so bad, and it’s gone from “unattractive” to “genuinely sort of embarrassing” lately, but I figured that we’ve had some cool mornings recently and I can go outside in general without feeling like I’m under attack and so it would probably be safe to take the, oh, fifteen minutes it would take to trim the things back, rake them up, and toss the remnants into a garbage can.



In general I’m not frightened of bugs.  I avoid bees and wasps, of course, because they’re assholes, but I’ve never been stung.  Spiders squick me a bit from time to time, I admit it, but I try not to let it affect my behavior.  So when I tell you I had to run away from the patch of greenery in front of my house, flailing my arms around and swatting at my body like– hell, like a guy fucking covered in a swarm of mutant mosquitoes, I suppose, the situation kind of defeats simile– you need to understand that it is not a typical reaction to bugs.  And the fucking things chased me.  They followed me to the foot of the driveway and then stood guard outside my goddamned garage door and I had to fight through another cloud of them to get back inside.

That patch of vines can go to hell, is what I’m saying.  It can take over the whole front of the house for all I care.  I come in through the damn garage anyway.

In which that’s the end of that

13924956_10207106946609831_2157559779804713497_n.jpgSummer ends tomorrow, as the boy returns to school and my schedule changes not at all.  It’s going to be a weird couple of weeks, as all the other kids from his class (all of whom, as you may recall, are older than him) are moving on to kindergarten and he’s remaining in preschool.  I remain firmly convinced that having my 11-year-old taking math with 13-year olds, as would have inevitably occurred down the road had we not done this, would have been a bad idea, but for right now we need to make sure that he understands that the reason he isn’t in kindergarten with his friends is not because he’s dumb.  He hasn’t said anything like that to us yet, but he apparently made a comment to my mom along those lines a couple of weeks ago.

Managing to have a baby right at the beginning of school is one of the more spectacular examples of poor timing during my life, by the way.

Meanwhile: the water feature we had to build in our basement the other day has proven to be merely a massive inconvenience and not actually anything one might use the word “disaster” to describe, and certainly not anything that affects us financially.  The basement is currently dry and our sump pump made it through the night without exploding.  Not everyone was so lucky; the picture above is the parking lot of a local grocery store (note the car in the middle distance) and the store is pretty much completely destroyed, as is a nearby day care that is the south-side version of the one my son’s been attending.  We got lucky.  Lots of other people didn’t.  Turns out that getting two inches more rain in a day than the area has ever measured before is bad, guys.

So, yeah.  School tomorrow.  I plan to get my review of Stranger Things written, and maybe I’ll break tradition and actually work on Tales from the Benevolence Archives instead of just talking about it.  We’ll see.

On priorities

10401384_10152875059674066_1925030334716189476_nIt’s been a bad few days at work– not in the “come home and pull my hair out” sort of way, but in the “come home and curse the world for letting this happen” sort of way, which is in some ways worse.  We had– did I mention this?– the first real snowstorm of the season on Thursday of last week (it snowed on Halloween, too, and I know I mentioned that, but it didn’t stick) and it’s been really cold and intermittently snowy for the last few days.  It was somewhere in the neighborhood of ten below zero wind chill when I left for work this morning, and most of the districts in northern Indiana and southern Michigan were at least on a two-hour delay today.  (Not ours.  We are a hardier folk than most.)

The thing about cold weather?  Depending on how charitable you’re feeling, it either makes it harder to ignore how poor most of our families are or makes it more visible.  It becomes real clear real fast which families can’t afford to pay the bills once it starts snowing.  If a kid shows up at school in the same polo shirt that he was wearing (and I mean literally the same polo shirt) when it was seventy degrees outside, chances are that kid’s family can’t afford to keep the heat on.

There are an awful lot of kids in this building who don’t seem to have winter coats.  An awful lot.  And we ended up having to send our social worker over to a couple different houses where it turns out the heat isn’t on at all.

You may be wondering what the picture at the top of this post has to do with anything.  Not much, except as an exemplar of my general lack of fitness as a human being.  We’ve spent the last few days at work with the problems of poverty full and center, right?  I got home yesterday to discover that one of the dogs had done that to Kitty.

Kitty is my son’s favorite toy.  Kitty’s the stuffed animal he screams for when he hits his head or falls down or is scared.  And the dogs– I have my suspicion which one– had destroyed it.

The rage was immediate and incandescent.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been that angry at one of my pets before.  I could have killed the little bastards, and I ended up shoving both of them into the back yard until I calmed down, which should have taken a lot less time than it did.

My kid’s three.  He’s got his own room.  He’s got a big house with blankets and heat and food and plenty of toys and books and all four of his grandparents and his uncle and his aunt are in town and he has two parents who are still married and hold steady jobs.  He’s fine.  And despite my worries to the contrary, when we told him about Kitty, he was basically okay with it, although my wife did promise him she’d try to fix him.

I probably ought to find something worth getting angry about.