I Wrote a Story

Hello Readers and Friends,

I haven’t written much in the past five months. I did, however, manage to write a short story that I’ve submitted to an anthology. I’m really proud of the story and the storytelling in it.

I’d love to tell you all about it, but it’s an anonymous submission so I can’t. I’ll let you know if I get into the anthology, if not it’ll probably go into a short story collection… Once I can write more regularly.

Writting is one of my biggest stress relievers, and losing that has been really hard. I know there are other methods (speech to text, narrating, etc) but I’m not quite ready to admit that I won’t be able to go back to my old ways of writting.

Sorry for the vague post, but I wanted to share my excitment. I hope the editors like my story as much as I do.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Mid-Year Review of Éric’s 2022 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

It’s been an exciting six months and by that, I mean blarg. I still find it disturbing how much of the world is convinced the pandemic is over. Hopefully soon, we’ll see a vaccine for infants approved in Canada. Then I will feel much better, but I still am going to continue to be careful. It will be a while before I give up my mask.

Anyway, let’s see how I’m doing with my resolutions!

Writing

1. Write a monthly serial story (Succeeding)

The hardest part about this year’s serial story is not writing ahead. Currently, as of this writing, dealing with carpal tunnel, that might not be a problem. Read from the beginning of the Aetherverse.

2. Write Guise and Dolls Faymous with Jen (Success)

This went famously (haha). I loved writing this story and I’m glad that it’s now vacated that part of my brain that it’s been occupying for the past decade. Unfortunately, a spin-off series has decided to move in.

3. Finish Copper Tarnish (Pending)

Pending health, I have no idea how this is going to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it, but if not, I’m not going to risk injuring myself worse over it.

4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen (Pending)

Unlike Copper Tarnish, this book starts from scratch/random jot notes, and won’t need heavy line-editing before I start, so I should be able to do this one with dictation software. I hope.

5. Keep Working on FADDS (Succeeding)

I created an entire ridiculously complex module for mixing components that was just way too much. So, I remade it in a simpler way and it seems to be working really well. I’m continuing to tweak and add more monsters as I go. Mostly, I’m just having fun with the system and my players.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

6. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Succeeding)

You may be sensing a theme, but depending on health issues, we may be dropping to four days a week, but not yet, and I don’t know. So we’ll see.

7. Write a movie review each week (Succeeding)

So far, so good. I might need to create a template to copy-paste to make my life easier.

8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple (Pending)

Ottawa ComicCon is happening in September. This one will depend on how my health is. It’s not the highest priority; that will be roasting and packing ComicCon levels of coffee.

Personal

9. Read 5 Books (Pending)

Other than books that I’ve written or that Jen wrote, I’m a little behind on this. As in, halfway through the first book. But for some reason, I forsee having more chances to read (if Jen will let me).

10. Be More Patient (shrug)

Honestly, I have no idea how I’m doing on this one. I do know that I’m a terrible injured/sick person. Feeling like I’m letting people down makes me grumpy.

11. Don’t over stress (Failing)

I have developed tools to help me de-stress. Playing ukulele, reading, writing, playing video games, and cooking. The only one of those that I can currently do without hurting myself is reading. Let’s hope this dictation software works and doesn’t add to the stress.

My work is also irrationally pushing a return to the office and that’s still causing lots of stress with an unvaccinated toddler. HURRY THE F UP, HEALTH CANADA!

12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week (Failing)

I was doing well with this. I even memorized the Spider-man theme on the bass and wrote a song for the ukulele. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do this for a while.


The good news, I haven’t utterly failed at anything yet and I have a few Successes.

I’m going to take that as a positive and just do what I can for the rest of the year.

How are your resolutions going?

Éric

Éric’s 2022 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello 2022! (Glances around nervously)

2021 was a surreal year, both because I finished writing 4 books and because it started to sink in that this whole pandemic is going to last longer than I expected.

Here’s to hoping 2022 is better.

My resolutions are not breakable promises, but goals that I hope to achieve.

Changing the Outlook Heart and Brain Comics The Awkward Yeti

Writing

1. Write a monthly serial story

It’s going to be my 9th year in a row doing this and I’m really excited for this year’s story. Get ready to see the beginning of the Aetherverse.

2. Write Guise and Dolls with Jen

After over a decade of waiting, I’m finally going to write this one. Jen’s going to help me and I can’t wait. This will be a more complicated book for us than those we’ve written before because we don’t have an outline in advance.

3. Finish Copper Tarnish

I started this book in November 2016. It’s time to finish it and get the darned story out of my head.

4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen

This is super ambitious, but we managed it last year so I’m hoping.

5. Keep Working on FADDS

I’m loving this system and I think it’s a few years (at the rate I’m going) before it’s ready to submit. I’d like to do a cleanup of the monster rules and maybe a reread of the spelling and grammar, but as long as I’m adding stuff, I’m good.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

6. Ensure 5+ days of updates

I’m going to do my best to keep our 5 day a week schedule. We’re in a nice little groove, so I think it’ll go okay. If things change, I’ll let you know.

7. Write a movie review each week

I’ve managed it two years now and I think it’s feasible to do it again. People have told me they like the reviews, so I’ll continue.

8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple

In theory, Ottawa ComicCon is supposed to happen in September. I’m not sure what this or future variants will mean for events, but I need to get ready. I’d like to get these done and roast appropriately.

Personal

9. Read 5 Books

I failed miserably at this last year. I’ve lost my dedicated reading time and I need to find another. I love reading and I miss it.

10. Be More Patient

Every year I get a little better and I’m trying really hard not to yell as much. Hopefully I can keep getting calmer and move more towards gentle parenting.

11. Don’t over stress

This will probably be a fail but I need to learn how to destress. I have minor depression and when I spiral I get very stressed, defensive, and insecure. It’s not fun and I need to learn when it happens and treat it like a health issue instead of noticing after I get snippy with my wife.

Beyond that, I also don’t react well physically when I get stressed and I need to learn how to destress for my health.

12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week

I got a beautiful Kala U-bass for Christmas and need to use it. I’m hoping for daily, but that won’t happen. I love making pretty noises and I know it helps me destress.


So after 4 years of slowly getting worse at my resolutions, I have made this ambitious list. Let’s hope I can do it and no matter what, I know I’ll have something to show at the end.

I wish for you all you need to complete your resolutions.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Stress and Viewing Habits

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

If you haven’t guessed from previous blog posts, I’m a big fan of stories. I love to read, write, watch TV, watch movies, and just enjoy stories in general.

In 2020, the family and I watched 73 movies. I had so many movies that I had to do two reviews a week for a while and we did series as one post.

This year is completely different. I’m watching one movie a week and it’s often because I need a review for that weekend.

On the flip side, last year, we barely watched any television other than HGTV and Food network shows, DC’s Stargirl, Just Add Magic, and a few Disney shows. To some that would seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to this year. We’re still watching the HGTV and Food Network shows, but have added a binge of Leverage, Superman and Lois, Kung Fu, Bureau of Magical Things, WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and High School Musical The Musical The Series. We’ll be adding more as stuff ends and new things start.

It’s interesting to me that we’ve transitioned from movies to TV. Was it that there was nothing to watch? or did our needs change?

I think that for the better part of 2020, we felt like we were in a holding pattern, waiting to see what would happen. This led us to not wanting to invest time in something we might not be able to finish. So we binged a bunch of movies. With cinemas still closed but being used to the routine, we’ve started expanding our tastes to things that we don’t have to learn new characters every couple of days.

Basically we went from too stressed to commit to a TV series to just stressed enough that we don’t want to deal with new characters every few days.

The idea of watching a movie and learning the stories and personalities of the characters sounds exhausting when I could just watch a couple of episodes of Leverage, where I know the characters and can concentrate on the fun of the story.

If you need movie ideas and ranks check out the JenEric Movie Reviews every Saturday.

No matter what you’re watching, I hope you’re having fun.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

My Bucket is Full

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m struggling this week. I know most of us are struggling right now. In my part of the world, we’re in the second wave and I’m not sure people understand what that means.

Bucket

Pegasus is not good at having his sleep cycle disturbed. Last Friday we slept in and didn’t wake him early enough and he refused to nap, then he fell asleep playing (twice) and I was up until 2am with him for the next two nights. We’re just now getting his schedule back in order.

Work has also been super busy and stressful. Report season in fall and spring has stressed me out for over a decade. I should honestly be better at it by now. With the season change comes a new set of allergies and a huge uptick in the pain in my hands.

So I’m feeling like I have a bucket for stress and my bucket is starting to flow over. I’ve started feeling overwhelmed. This morning I got an email and I couldn’t process it. It just went in one ear and out the other. I’ll get back to it later today and try again.

My way of dealing with new stress this week.

Trapped

The stress, the pandemic, politics, pain, allergies, and not-sleeping have me feeling trapped. Not by my life, not by my house, and certainly not my family. I feel trapped in a need to be productive. I’m missing having days were I don’t have to do anything. Where I can wake up and just do whatever I want. Six years ago I decided I wanted to try and roast coffee. I binge watched Gilmore Girls and made buttons. I haven’t had one of those days in a while. It’s part of getting older and having more responsibilities, along with being limited in what I can do because of the pandemic. As the kids get older and don’t need naps, and there’s a vaccine, I’ll be able to just spontaneously decide to take a day off and go to a museum or to a park with them, that’ll be nice.

Grief

My mom’s mother died when my mom was 5. Every chance we got we’d come to Ottawa to visit my grandmother’s siblings that acted like grandparents. I found out that the last of that generation passed away on Monday at 85.

My last phone call with her she sounded tired but hopeful. Because of health issues and the pandemic, she never met Pegasus but met Dragon a few times. She was a fantastic painter, wonderful hugger, terrible cook, and lovely person. I’m going to miss her.

Hope

My bucket is full but I’ll scoop it out, or drink from it, or something… (this metaphor seems to be getting away from me.) The point is, I’ll be okay. The nights will start freezing away the allergens, the weather with stabilize as much as it ever does, work will become less hectic, the stress will abate. It’s just a matter of dealing with it and taking deep breaths.

I have toddler, child, and wife hugs to keep me going, coffee to roast, and more pumpkin things to bake.

I’ll be okay but I’m struggling.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

The Griswold Effect and Your Disney Vacation

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Holidays and vacations are stressful. It’s one of the few times in life where you feel you need to be perfect and make everything perfect for everyone around you. That stress can turn to anger and depression.

The need to make everything perfect on holidays and vacations is colloquially known as The Griswold Effect. There’s only one result to expecting perfection in a holiday or vacation, and that’s disappointment.

My father in-law said on our second day at Magic Kingdom:

“They say this is the happiest place on earth but I keep hearing crying and people screaming at each other.”

I had noticed the same thing. From little kids on leashes screaming at their parents, to one uncool man swearing at a Haunted Mansion cast member, to parents yelling at their kids.

All Disney parks are huge, exhausting, and filled with people who think the whole park is there for them. There’s this image of the parks as perfect experiences of awesome, but they’re like every other vacation.

Don’t get me wrong, Disney is absolutely fantastic and I’m sure I’ll be going back (I’ve been to Disney World 4 times and Paris Disney once.)

The trick is to keep your expectations realistic. Rides break down, you wait for hours to get on, everything is overpriced and there’s more than you can do in one trip. You also have to account for down time and eating. Everything is bright, loud, and exciting which makes it really easy to get overstimulated. It’s also super easy to forget to eat. Use your eating time to decompress, plan, and most of all, adjust expectations.

The most important part of any holiday or vacation is being with those you love. Nothing will ever be perfect, so plan, set things up, prioritize what’s most important, and then hold on for dear life as the universe throws everything it can at you.

Good luck,

Éric

Disney Vacation Posts

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For the next few weeks I’ll be writing articles on Disney Vacations. I’ve read horror stories and seen terrible things.

I’ll offer tips and tricks, tell you how I felt, and all kinds of other ridiculous stuff.

And don’t worry I’ll have cute pictures of the kids too.

Later Days,

Éric

Oops I failed it again

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It might be time for me to admit that NaNoWriMo isn’t my jam anymore. It’s not even my honey or peanut butter. (I think I may be hungry.)

Anyway, this years NaNoWriMo was a continuing of the one I failed 2 years ago and I managed a whopping 1778 words… I didn’t try very hard.

Thea Queen isn’t impressed with me failing or the Britney reference.
Just like her brother last year.

Turns out when I’m stressed I don’t do a lot of writing and this November has been extremely stressful. Things are getting better and the only stress in my future is holiday or writing.

I’m going to continue with this story and hope I can finish it early in the New Year so I can get back to Elizabeth 4.

 

How’d your NaNoWriMo go?

Éric

Decluttering and the Art of Optimization

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been cleaning and decluttering. We finally decided to clean out our “nests”. Nests are places you put things you don’t want to deal with. They have a nasty habit of getting bigger and bigger. They also become ridiculously intimidating to clean.

We identified 3 major nests and started work in early August. Boy, did we have a lot of crap. I mean I found empty boxes for cellphones and other electronics that would be going to high school this year if they were human. I found PS/2 port extension cables… No, those aren’t for PlayStation 2.

In a stroke of madness genius, I set a date for a yard sale and gave us 3 weeks to get everything done… We managed to clean out 2 of the 3 major nests and I’m still terrified of the garage…

We’re really close to maybe having a functional guest room instead of a third bedroom garbage pile, so that’s really good.

If this mad cleaning has taught me anything, it’s that minimalism is overrated. The sense of cleanliness and peace doesn’t come from getting rid of everything, it comes from optimizing your living space. If you’re not comfortable in the way your living area is organized, you need to do something about it and the best thing is to get rid of stuff you’re unhappy with and keep the good stuff.

That doesn’t mean that you have to live like a divorced man on TV or some new age guru in a magazine. It just means you need to be happy with the flow and movement in your living space. Everyone has different tastes.

I personally love having lots of oversized cushy furniture and books in every room.

The important thing is to periodically do cleaning and organizing of your nests. The organizing part is extra important to avoid the same nest developing again.

 

Later Days,

Éric

Dear Dragon – Nightmare

Dear Dragon,

I had my first nightmare with you in it and it surprised me. I don’t remember most of my dreams; those that I do don’t last long and unlike your mom’s they’re not complex.

Your Gramma told me that in her nightmares I was always a small child. Even when I was in university, her dream version of me was no older than five. I always assumed that you’d be a newborn in my dreams. I was wrong.

In my dream you were trying to get to me and making that pterodactyl screech you make when you’re annoyed. You were toddling towards me, screeching, and darkness swallowed you. Your screeching turned into your panicked scream and I couldn’t get to you.

You were hurting and terrified and try as hard as I could I couldn’t get to you. (There are tears in my eyes just remembering the dream.)

When I woke up from the dream, I thought you really were screaming but after a few seconds of panic, I could tell you were just snoring. You were getting over a cold and your nose was doing this weird whistling noise.

Most likely the dream was caused by stress and feeling like I’m not spending enough time with you. I wish I could work from home every day. You change so much and so quickly that I don’t want to miss anything.

My greatest fear is that I won’t be there for you when you need me. I can’t promise that I will, but I’ll try as hard as possible.

I love you Dragon,

Your Papa