I Wanna Publish Zines… And how you can help! [update]

Hey everyone,

There are 41 days left to go! Still plenty of time!

I hope you have been enjoying reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I just wanted to let you all know that I have a project live on Hatch Fund right now. I am in the process of launching the blog to its next stage. The hatch fund is to launch it into a zine in collaboration with other punk-leaning artists and alternative parents. I’m also accepting article submissions for future issues, if you are interested. Please help me out by making a donation and spreading the word. Thanks!


Letting off some steam…

This month has been rough. Very rough. We have a family member in the hospital. Things are getting better, but it’s been very scary at times. I’m also struggling with the confrontation of the fragility of life. It’s something that I struggle with a lot, but when it’s another dad that you’re super close to, it strikes a little harder. Honestly, there is a part of me that feels super alone and like the pressure is on to be a father figure for the whole team. Like I said, things are slowly getting better, and we are all being very strong for each other, but there are times when I want to curl into a ball and hide. I’m sure that feeling has hit every member of family recently.

Speaking of family, we have recently hit a hard patch with Existentialisa. She has always had a hard time with transitions. Since birth. She wants to do everything and wants it’s done of her own timetable. AND she wants to know a detailed list of our schedule. It’s always “what are we doing now? And after that? And after that? And after…” Yet somehow when it comes time to transition between those things it ends up in meltdown. Bedtimes have been especially rough lately. The other nite turned from a super relaxed family movie nite (ironically we were watching Nanny McPhee) to a disaster of Fukushima proportions. We took an intermission for pajamas and she said that she has to go potty. I encouraged her to go potty first and then get jammies on after. Boom! Full on hulk smash.

From there on out things just fell apart. We couldn’t finish the movie because of the meltdown which involved her hitting us and saying horrible things, like “you’re not my parents!” (Keep in mind that she’s 4, not 15). The best was when she tried to screw with the time line and say that she was mad at us as a result of the movie getting turned off, forgetting that the movie got turned off in reaction to the fit. Good times. Eventually she calmed down and fell asleep, but we’re starting to think we should look into some sort of behavioral therapy.

Then, a few hours later, she threw up. We took it as a bodily response from the episode. Kids throw up from getting angry and screaming. It happens. The next day she had a play date with one of her old friends from babyhood. Then she threw up again. And then every hour or so for the rest of the nite. It was epic.

Also in the world of stresses we are now looking for a new place to live. The kid unfriendly building that we live in has decided to not renew our lease. I’ve never had this happen before and it really hurts. So here’s hoping we find the perfect place, or at least one with a washer and dryer in the next month.

Add to that the general stress that midterm has come and gone with this semester of graduate school. There is so much left to do in my classes and an ever decreasing amount of time to do it. Thank the gods that I’m mostly working on my own projects, like this blog and launching the zine and designing merch as my projects for the semester. Art school can have its moments.

When stuff like this happens, I really try to stay positive, but sometimes it’s really a lot harder than it sounds. I think the key at times like this is that we should all try to take it easier on each other, you know, try to bend with the punches. I’m sorry for the all-overness of this entry, welcome to my brain recently. The semester will be over soon and I’m looking to for a chance to simplify things for a bit and reconnecting with my family in this hard time. But there is a lot left to do and get through before then. Including… Dramatic music…. The holidays…

Recommended track list:
Fugazi, Waiting Room
Alkaline Trio, My Standard Break from Life
Pennywise, Homeless
Thursday, How Long is the Night?

(Mosh) Pit falls…

Confession time. The thing I miss most about my youth is going to shows whenever I felt like it. Whenever I felt like it is code for every freaking day. When we were kids, we’d have some show to go to pretty much all the time. Where we going tonite? Tonite’s the Fireside Bowl to see the Lawrence Arms. Wow that opening band, the Ghost, was amazing, lets come back in two days for their cd release. Where are we going tonite? Some church basement in Lombard to see Hook Line & Sinker. Tomorrow? The Annex in Algonquin. The next day, backyard Stale Chofli show… The Wheaton Community Center to see all of the local bands in one huge show… Some place called the Barn… A VFW… After that the Metro to see Alkaline Trio for the umpteenth time this year.

There was always somewhere to see the bands we loved playing.

Why am I bringing this up now? There is no way that I could physically keep up with that kind of schedule again, but this weekend there is a huge music festival playing 20 minutes from where we live and a ton of my favorite bands are playing. And I am not going. I tried to talk my way into a press pass and failed and lost out on my chance to buy tickets. Not like I would have been able to afford them any ways. No Riot Fest for me. I’m actually surprised at how down this is making me feel. There are tons of other shows that i have missed over the years, but this one is hitting me harder than I had expected. I miss the overall feeling of the live show. The mass of people that know all the lyrics, running into other hot sweaty people having an almost religious experience. The last time I was at a show was Mustard Plug randomly playing at the House Cafe in Dekalb over a year ago and before that Coheed and Cambria at the Riv in 2009. And they were great. Absolutely great. Now I have gotten into this routine of being super busy all of the time and I can’t go. I have a family that I love dearly and I adore spending time with my kids, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have the desire to once in awhile going out and run into a mosh pit (do they still have those?). Between work and school and family life, I just don’t seem to have the time. Do you see how I keep dancing back and forth between wanting to and talking my way out of it?

So there’s my confession. I’m really down about not going to Riot Fest this weekend. I feel selfish that I feel this way, but I miss it. I really do.

Confusion and Delay on the L or the Worst Episode of Thomas EVER

Earlier today we decided to go into the city to attend a Labor Day birth rally in front of the headquarters for the AMA. Our daughter has been really wanting to go for a train ride so we figured two birds with one stone; take the L to get to the rally.

Getting there was great. We got the nice handicap seat with room for the stroller. Our daughter had a window to look out the whole time. We got to our atop, walked the couple of blocks to the rally where our daughter immediately made new friends to run around with while we networked and lent our support.

The craziness happened on the way home. We couldn’t get seats for the first couple of stops so of course that led to a massive meltdown. Then we got seats, but they didn’t have enough windows… meltdown. Now keep in mind that its essentially nap time, so I’m just letting the arched back wailing roll right off me. A window seat opens up across the aisle so Katie and our now perfect angel move there.

Meanwhile… Crazy wannabe thug, Shitty Rapper is making the rounds irritating the fuck out of everyone on the train. He’s aggressively “rapping” in people’s faces about how tough he is and how to survive you gotta shoot people and yadda yadda… Not at all derivative. He eventually makes his way over to our family and this other guy decides he’s had enough of Shitty Rapper and is aggravated by the language he’s spouting off in front of the kiddos. He tells him to cool it and be respectful to the children. SR backs off a little and sarcastically “agrees”. Other dude reiterates that he needs to back down before he calls the “Po”. SR flips his shit. The protector of the virgin ears then moves to shield the kids in case shit gets real.

Shit. Gets. Real.

In a flurry of chest beating and screaming in each others faces that is now a blur of motion and noise as i try to remember it, Shitty Rapper lifts his shirt and says he’s got a 50, though I didn’t see a gun. Not like we stuck around to see if he was going to back that up. We grabbed the kids and hopped off at the stop that we were luckily at and waited for the next train to come. It came and we weren’t delayed, so I assume everything worked out in the end, but yeah…

Go figure that the first time a fight breaks out in front of me on the L we would have the kids with us. That was probably the worst thing I have ever experienced on the train. Much worse than your average crazy person L story. You know like the mutterers, the old guy with the prostitute, the girl who talks too loudly on her cell phone about every detail of her life. Regular crazy. They don’t bother you and you don’t bother them. Now I’m still a little shaken up, Katie is refusing to let the kids ride the L for a long time, and I’m using this to vent enough to be able to get myself to hopefully sleep. I can’t wait to ride it again tomorrow to got to class. Yay.

Recommended Track list:

Alkaline Trio: Trucks and Trains
Saves the Day: Third Engine
Matt Skiba: the City That Day
Johnny Cash: City of New Orleans

My Faire Pirate Captain completes his 2nd voyage around the sun

My little man just turned two. TWO. I have no idea where the time has gone. His actual birthday we had a ton of errands to do, but managed to have a play date in the park in the middle of it and a Jake and the Neverland Pirates cake at the end. The big celebration happened this last Sunday at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. You see, there was a pirate band playing this weekend. It was too perfect. They were only playing two weekends and one of them was right after his big day. Since he is super into pirates right now, it seemed too serendipitous to pass up. Plus we love the Faire. It’s my wife, Katie’s, favorite place in the world and where I proposed to her.

We made him a pirate costume. I wore a Goonies shirt and a our catbirdbaby carrier. I joked all day that I was dressed as his pirate ship. Our daughter picked out her favorite princess dress and carried her Merida bow and arrows. Katie was decked our in her garb. We were going to meet up with some friends. It was set to be the perfect outing.


We made our rounds and ate our favorite Faire food while setting my timer for shows we wanted to see, making sure we wouldn’t miss the pirate band, The Dread Crew of Oddwood. They were playing a 3 o’clock show right next to the big pirate ship. We made our way there. And. He. Fell. Asleep. I laid him down next to the stage in the shade thinking maybe he would just take a little catnap for the few minutes before their set started. Nope. He ended up sleeping through the whole set.

The set:

It was really good. Better than I expected. What was I expecting? A gimmick band of people playing dressed as pirates. What we got was a band that worked seamlessly together. A band that didn’t slow down even when one of their members got a head injury from the stand up bass, mostly because it was a tiny stage occupied by seven pirates. Yes, they are a gimmick band, but they are believable. They actually exist outside of the Renaissance Faire. The Dread Crew of Oddwood is a real band. The set list consisted of pirate themed original content and as an added bonus they played a montage of songs from the Legend of Zelda because they saw our friends’ kid dressed as Link in the crowd. While already really enjoying the set, the geek in me sent me overboard (see what I did there?)


While they were packing up, I told them about how we had planned our trip around seeing them for the little pirate captain’s birthday and how he had fallen asleep just before they took the stage. One of the members ran over, grabbed his hat and set it in top of the sleeping boy’s head and posed for a picture. He also said that they would have sang happy birthday to him, which would have been awesome (if you guys are reading this ;)… ).

All and all, I would say that Gavin’s 2nd birthday is definitely going in the cherished memory pile. Plus we now have an album of pirate songs. Win, win, win… Argh!

Education system anxiety…

Of all the things that are stressful about parenthood, choosing a school for your kids is up there. The other day we visited a Montessori school down the street from our home and absolutely fell in love with it. Being a kid that grew up in the public school system, I can see the pluses and minuses. Yes, socially there is an advantage to how public schools operate, a large number of kids are grouped into a setting where they are encouraged to make friendships and be exposed to a large variety of people. There’s of course the financial side too. The fact that public schools are covered in your taxes is nice.

Here’s my guff though… Public schools are the first to lose funding. The child to teacher ratio is getting out of hand due to spending cuts. You know, because it makes sense to cut teachers before you cut anything else. What else is underfunded in public schools? Yeah, that’s the arts, obviously something near and dear to me.

I was one of those smart kids that slipped through the cracks. I wasn’t properly challenged until middle school where I was suddenly thrown into the advanced English and math classes. I always felt like the dumbest smart kid since everyone else had been supported and encouraged in these subjects for the years before. I was the outcast of the outcasts. That being said, I also had a huge problem with authority. Yeah had. S what did I do? I stopped caring and coasted by. I managed to do so in a way that i was able to get out of high school a full year early because I didn’t care for the system and I knew how to make it work for me.

I don’t want that to happen to my kids. I Want them to be challenged and encouraged to do their best in school. I don’t want them to be the outcast of the outcasts, not knowing where they belonged. Sure that contributed to my becoming the person I am today, introduced me to the punk scene way back when. Solidified my political all beliefs. BUT, my kids have something I didn’t have that can make up for that… An awesome punk dad. They’ll still be super unique and exposed to so much of that.

The school we visited had everything we were looking for and want for our kids.there is a low student to teacher ratio, it’s a large school (it’s actually housed inside a giant old church and has a very Hogwarts-y feel to it), it’s double Montessori certified, close to home, mixed age groups, individualized learning, and a huge bonus, there’s financial aid for your second year onwards. Oh and it goes all the way through middle school, so they’ll have the continuity that I never had as a kid.

That’s why.

Recommended track list:
Operation Ivy: Gonna Find You
The Sex Pistols: Seventeen
The Minutemen: God Bows to Math

The Balancing Act

If you have been following along this summer, it’s no surprise that I have been spending a lot of time with my family. It has been nice since during the school year this last year I was so busy and they were commuting so much, that I did not see them nearly enough. The first moth of break was the four of us doing as much as we could afford and visiting with family that we get to see once a year. I’m not exactly sure how we fit that much into one month.

Recently my wife, Katie, started a position at a new job. Since I was not able to find a summer job that made any attempt at supporting a family of four and she was, that put me in a new role. I have become the stay at home dad. Most of the day it’s just me, the kiddos and the dogs. I wold like to beat my cheat and say that it has been easy, but I would be a monumental liar. Well, that sounded a little bit too dramatic, but what I meant to say is that noonday is perfect and that being a stay at home parent takes a lot of hard work and practice.

Kids like to be entertained. I find myself trying to be as creative as I can in finding ways to keep them occupied. Also, having two kids that are very different from each other adds its own set of challenges to this. If one is coloring, obviously the other one wants to as well, BUT if one of them has the color that the other one wants all bets are off. Or if one doesn’t have theatre cue that the other does, that coloring book is going to have one stroke on each page and then they’re done. Then it’s off to trying to manage two tasks when all you want to do is sit down for a minute and drink your cup of coffee.

I’d say that the biggest hurtle that I’m trying to get over with my new duties is trying to figure in time for my own work. I usually end up writing these entries at nite or early morning when the kiddos are sleeping. I’m also struggling to find time to work on arty things. I keep telling myself that I need to sit down and sketch when they’re down at nap time or for the nite, but man I am usually beat by then. It’s hard and I think that I’m getting better at it, but finding that balance is very difficult. Knowing me, I’ll probably figure it the day before classes start up again.

Here’s a couple of things to watch out for in the next few weeks…

The Chicago Comic-Con/ Wizard World Chicago August 9-11th. I’ll be there in artist alley helping my friend Rebecca of Becca’s Bombshells and meeting John Barrowman, aka Captain Jack Harkness. And then there’s the sixth annual Oak Park Micro-Brew Review on August 17th. Have fun and maybe I’ll see you there!

Recommended track list:
The Scissors: Ice Cream Man
Alkaline Trio: Trouble Breathing
Coheed and Cambria: Away We Go