A Case of the Mondays

Most people dread Monday.  For some it’s the start of the work week.  For others, it’s the start of the school week.  Some of these people hate Monday because it means their weekend is over and no more partying.  Monday is a universal starting of a new week.  That’s why there is a weekend.  It means the week ends.

  

Currently, my “Weekend” doesn’t start at 5pm on a Friday and end 9am on Monday.  I don’t get a “Long Weekend” when there is a statutory holiday on the Friday or Monday.  I’m not like people in the service industry either, where their “Weekend” happens to be mid-week.  I have a job that has me working “on-call” meaning I could get called to work any time of day or night, 24/7.  So I usually find out about my “weekend” after I’ve had a couple of days of no calls.  I’ve even had moments where I can go five days without a call to go to work.  It may sound nice having all that time off.  But I can’t really make big plans like go skiing for the day, or drink at a birthday dinner of an old friend, or make plans in advance to hang out or watch a movie.  Sure, I could choose to not take a call to work and have some designated time off.  But I get paid just to be available.

So if you break down my pay vs the hours I work, I make the kind of money per hour I imagine strippers make on a Friday night.  Dolla bills y’all!  

  

In the end, the time in between calls to my job, I stay home.  I am often doing maintenance and home renovations around our place.  I get to drop off and pick up my children at school almost all the time.  I get to attend their concerts and performances 99% of the time.  I try and help my wife out with her business.  And over the past two months, I’ve gotten back into writing.

I’m enjoying my daily blog posts.  Each one usually takes me an hour or two to write.  I have a peaceful home during the day that allows me to stay on task.  I’m happy with my progress.  I’m humbled by the amount of people that read or comment as well.  I changed the name of my blog from “josefhavelka” to “Making It Up As I Go” because that’s how I truly feel lately.  I have no definitive plan for what I’m going to write about.  I also have no idea what my future holds.  Plus, naming the blog after myself seemed a tad egotistical, and that wasn’t my intention when starting this.

As your work week begins, I have just finished a night shift and will be off to bed soon.  Enjoy your week, and remember the reason why you are working or why you are going to school.  Take pride in yourself and your accomplishments.  No need to suffer from “A case of the Mondays”- you may get your ass kicked for saying that.

Father knows best?

Last night I flipped out at two of my children right before bed.  It’s not a great feeling, and I went and talked to them a few minutes later and apologized.  I can usually control my frustration and pause for a moment before speaking to them about their actions.  It’s strange how it eats away at me if I yell at them.  I’m thankful, and I’m sure they are as well, that this isn’t how I interact with them regularly.

The 1950’s were a simpler time.

Being a father is freaking tough.  I’m not saying being a mother is easy either.  But I only know my role, sort of.  I’m doing the best I can as each day goes on.  The guidance I have to refer to is my father, tv sitcom fathers (I wish I was living in Silver Spoons when I was a kid), and all my friends who are fathers trying their best at this game as well.

  

  

Here’s what I’ve learned so far from this fatherhood thing:

  • Being a father is more than just donating sperm to fertilize an egg.
  • Being a father isn’t just about being a best friend to your children, but it can be part of it.
  • Being a father means having to be there, or listen to their problems, even when you really don’t want to.
  • Being a father isn’t an easy road to navigate, there are many hurdles.
  • Being a father is the greatest experience I have ever had.

Why you little…

Not only is being a father hard work, it isn’t for everyone.  I’ve caught myself going into full rage frustration with my face getting red, my teeth grinding, and the vein in the center of my forehead about to burst… All because one of my children didn’t turn off their iPad when I asked for the fifth time in two minutes.  With me waiting so they could come and dry some dishes, and they respond with attitude as if I’m ruining their life!  What about my life?  I didn’t dream that in my late 30’s I’d be doing dishes on a Saturday night hoping to be in bed by ten.  Just so that in the morning I can be on their cases again the next day, hunting them down to do homework.  I hate that when I raise my voice, I hear my father’s anger come through in me.  If he were alive today, he’d probably smile smuggly, knowing I did pretty much the same thing to him when I was a child.

I am doing my best to make a good life for my children.  I’d like to protect them from the mistakes I made growing up.  I want them to be fully functioning contributing members of society when they grow up.  Being a father is also fantastic.  I see my children accomplish more than I could have anticipated.  I love bragging about my children.  They sometimes bring me gifts and are always on the lookout for something dad would like.  

I often see a bit of myself come out in my son’s behavior.  I hope that through his eyes, he sees a man doing his best with what he has.  My daughters both test my patience and can pull on my heartstrings and manipulate me easily.  That being said, I do hope that my daughters see what a man should be by how I treat my wife and how I treat them.  

I hope one day they each of my kids have kids of their own, so that I can smile smuggly as the circle of life continues.

Finding beauty

Everyday I wake up and look out the window from my bed.  All I see is beautiful fir trees and it fills me with peace.  A gentle breeze or a bit of rain (ok, sometimes a lot of rain since we are in the West Coast) and the trees look like they are tickling the air.

My view every time I wake up.

Notice something missing from the view?  Here’s a hint: Blinds.  The old blinds were the cheap thin beige colored plastic type.  We haven’t had curtains or blinds hung up for a couple of years now.  As much as this has been ok, it makes sleeping because of shift work difficult.  I have been using a sleep mask for years now, and that’s been working pretty good.  But our room is still feeling unfinished without some sort of window treatment.

The window to the soul is through the eyes.

That changed today.  Now, I can block out the sun that keeps me awake during one of my Naps. However, I am losing my first view of nature in doing so.  I’m happy in a way of the final result.  Our master bedroom is coming along slowly.  Thank goodness we took out the 70’s shag carpet that even went into the ensuite bathroom when we first moved in…  

 

Blind installation achieved.

 
From now on, I’ll have to take a few steps to open the blinds and peer out into my yard.  I’ll still see the beauty of the trees, but I can also admire the beauty of our home as it gets closer to completion.

Travel

I just got home from dropping my wife and daughter off at the Vancouver International Airport.  They are heading out for the weekend to Los Angeles for my daughter’s Cheer Leading competition.  It’s a relatively short flight, the competition is for one day, and then home again.  I’m going to miss them, but I hope they have fun.

Driving to the airport in the early morning prior to rush hour allowed us to have a nice conversation and I didn’t stress about the commute.  I even arrived home well before the roads started becoming busy.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone to an airport during the day/afternoon for a departure in my life.  It’s always around midnight or really early in the morning.

Flying metal tube!


There’s something about flying as the sun comes up that makes the experience magical.  Plus, you get to be in the air like a bird above the clouds, how cool is that?  Flying isn’t cheap.  It’s also sometimes a hassle.  Delays, weather problems, stinky passengers, cramped seating…  The list goes on.  What people are paying for- the convenience of getting from one place to another in a short period of time.

As a family, we don’t tend to fly places.  We do a good old fashioned road trip.  It may take longer, but we see more of the countryside and stop along the way to check out places that we would’ve just flown past.  A drive from our place to Los Angeles is roughly 19 hours straight there.  A flight is 3 hours.  Plus checking in time of about an hour or two early and an hour drive to the airport plus disembarking and finding luggage is about an hour or two.  Then finding and getting a ride to the hotel is up to an hour.  So flying in the end, would save about 12 hours travel time.

Driving a family of 5 costs us about $300 in fuel plus snacks/meals one way.  This allows us to have a vehicle at our disposal to travel and see the sights.  Flying a family of five then renting a car will cost $1500 for a non stop flight one way and a car rental of about $60/day.  If we wanted the cheapest flight for five, $950 with two stops lasting 12 hours.  Yes, flying saves time.  But driving saves us money.  I also find less headaches when driving.  I’m not stressed about what I can bring in my carry on, or details about my flight, or where I’m sitting in relation to the exit/washroom/stinky person.  Driving long distances is almost the same as a daily commute except you deal with a stuffy car, an occasional fight, or bathroom breaks.  Road trips aren’t for everyone and don’t get you overseas; and flying isn’t for everyone either.  Having an option of how to get somewhere is great.  Vacations and traveling is fun.

I’m looking forward to when they come home.  It’s always nice to be greeted by a loved one when you get back.  It may only be a couple of days, but it sometimes seems like an eternity.

Cosplay

When we first started attending Comic Cons and such, we tried our hand at cosplay.  Our costumes were simple ones.  Mostly just clothes that we often found at our local Value Village and modified.  But we figured that if we’re going to a convention, it’s better to dress up and fully immerse in the experience.  It was fun!

My wife and I used to have Halloween parties and we often dressed up in “couples costumes” (dressing as Adam and Eve was great, but kinda chilly in late October).  As our family grew (as in baby number one showed up) we worked on “group costumes”.  Our family continued to grow and the children got older, doing a family set of costumes is getting harder each time.  They still enjoy dressing up and acting the part.  This is important in good Cosplay as well.

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Happy family in a happy land.

One of our first Anime Conventions, my son dressed as Baby Mario and his sister dressed as Toadette. What made the experience that much better was Nintendo had set up an area for people to play on the new DSi. Naturally, my children were drawn there and played games for most of our day there. The Nintendo people were asked repeatedly by attendees for pictures with my kids. My kids ate it up. Since that point on, my kids have done 1-2 different cosplays for each show.  I’ve slowed down my cosplaying because I find it difficult to make something fit my height. Plus, most of my time is being put towards my children’s cosplay and accessories.

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They grow up so fast.

We now attend the shows because of my wife’s Business.  My children have even made Perler Bead magnets to sell in order to contribute as well.  This has been a great opportunity for us to meet many artists and cosplayers who have been nothing short of amazing to us.  Sharing ideas and tips as well as business.
Some of my favorite people that we have met are:

  • Holly Conrad-who has a YouTube channel as well where she plays videogames and talks about birbs.
  • Victoria Schmidt aka Scruffy Rebel posts some normalcy in her everyday life as well as Cosplay on Instagram and Facebook if you wish to follow her.
  • Evil Ted Smith has some amazing videos on using foam for cosplay.  After meeting him in person and picking his brain, I finally decided to try and make some foam props this spring for my children.
  • Andy Rae is one of the nicest cosplayers we’ve met as well.  She offered some great advice to my young daughters last year.  Her costumes are very detailed and unique.

There are many more that we’ve met and seen some amazing costumes to boot.  With our first round of conventions coming up, I can’t wait to see all of our convention carny friends again!

We also met a really neat guy, Ejen, who loves Cosplay so much that he travels around the world and takes photos.  You should check out his book sometime:

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Cosplay in America

Positive Mental Attitude 

One of the few things I took from my father was his attitude towards life.  (I also took his asshole personality and tweaked it a bit, but that’s for another day.)  My father wore a necklace for as long as I can remember with PMA engraved on it.  He told me that it stood for Positive Mental Attitude.  It’s a mantra that I have since adopted in my day to day life.

 

What a bunch of hippy, dippy, baloney.

 

The other side of my father’s necklace had NMA engraved.  It stood for Negative Mental Attitude.  He wore the necklace with NMA against his chest and PMA facing outwards.  He told me it was in order to keep the negativity inside and express positivity outwards.  It’s about the most spiritual my father was in life.  I’m not a very spiritual person but I do believe in being kind.

This world has too much negativity flowing through its veins.  It’s never going to disappear.  The best we can do is try and not add to it.  Everyday I try and act positive towards my family, friends and coworkers.  Sure, I poke fun at them from time to time, but I’m also ok being on the receiving end of a good natured joke.

Teaching my children to have empathy and be nice to others is my way of trying to move the next generation forward.

To quote one of my favorite films, Brazil, “Listen, kid, we’re all in it together.”

…well, that’s a pipe of a different color.

 

Home Depot


As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that I love doing home renos.  Over the years I have become a jack of all trades.  When I get inspired to remodel, I do as much research as possible to do it right.  One of the best places to learn is my local Home Depot.

  
I love/hate this store.  I worked there for a couple of years part time and learned a ton of valuable information.  Like most men, I know the store inside and out. (Not trying to be sexist, but usually I see more guys in the store buying stuff.)  I have spent hours wandering my local Home Depot.  I’ve made numerous trips back and forth buying 2×4’s, drywall, paints, etc…  I learned the most valuable lesson- always use the right tool for the job.  Cheap doesn’t cut it.  Quality tools make all the difference in whether a person would want to tackle a project again in the future.

The tools I have been buying are now being used for more than just home improvements.  Over the past few years, as I have mentioned before, we attend numerous Comic Cons.  Recently, I’ve been working on more Cosplay for my children and have had to buy foam, Dremel bits, glues, a heat gun, and other various supplies.  My arts and crafts are becoming more expensive, but I’m enjoying the hobby.  Steampunk is also one of my favorite genres and what better place to go but Home Depot to buy pipe and wood. The sales associates have looked at me strange as I walked the aisles connecting electrical conduits to plumbing pieces.  Now, the lighting department has special fixtures and bulbs that fit the Steampunk lifestyle.

My wife doesn’t like me going to the Home Depot for “just one item”.  I will return home with a car full of stuff and a credit card bill deferred for six months.  Maybe there’s something in the air at the store, like Disneyland pumping vanilla scents down Mainstreet, that causes me to spend money.  Or maybe it’s the big signs and the friendly staff.  Personally, I think it’s because it’s essentially a grown up toy store and I’m just a big kid with a credit card looking to play.