Monday, February 2, 2015

Dispensing the informalities

It's been a year and a month.  Of course it has.  I resolved not to resolve to update this blog with regularity.  I kept my non-resolution!  Yay!  Minor victories!

And I'm very tenuously holding onto any semblance of financial stability.  Still a Ready Reserve, still working the second job occasionally, actually took on a third job with a temp agency getting menial day jobs whenever available.  And I broke an airplane.


It still feels like a bad dream I just can't wake up from.  I broke an airplane.  I ran into the side of an aircraft with a bag cart and busted a $58,000 piece of equipment on the side of the plane.  I'm on probation.  I still have my job, but I'm on probation.

2014 probably ended up being the hardest year of my life.  I can't imagine 2015 being worse unless someone dies or something. I'm optimistic that won't be happening.


Anyway, enough about me.  I have an actual New Year's Resolution this year, sort of!  And I'm keeping it so far!

I've resolved to do this:

I've wanted to read more for a while, and I figured this would be as good an excuse to get me going as any.  So I'm a month into it, and I've read six books! Well, I finished one on New Year's Day, but still!

So what I've decided is this: I'm going to actually update this blog as I finish each book.  Being six books in, I've got six book reviews/meditations to do to get caught up.  I don't have the time to get started on that quite yet, but I'll be getting to it as soon as I have some time.

It's nice to be actually accomplishing something.  Heh.

- jdb

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflection, as per the norm, I guess

Happy New Year.


This is the part where I look back on 2013 and marvel at how far I've come in only a year. Arguably, I have vastly more reason to do this in regards to 2013 than I have in many years prior. I became a father. I've moved from one massive-yet-isolated state to another massive-if-slightly-less-isolated state. I stepped down from a full-time position in Phoenix to a less-paying, less benefitted Ready Reserve position in Denver just so I could be with my family. I've actually applied for a second job here at the airport to ensure we're making enough to get by.

I could marvel, for sure, at the choices I've made and the consequences thereof, but since when has hindsight ever brought us anything but regret or nostalgia? I know what I did wrong this past year. I know what I've done right. I intend to continue with the right-doing.


One thing I will not do is make a stupid New Year's Resolution.

I do not mean to say that New Year's Resolutions are, inherently, stupid. They can be useful, I think; they often, I also think, are not.

So, in accordance with this, I do NOT resolve the following:

1. To update this blog with any regularity. It simply isn't going to happen. I have no time. Ever. I'm gonna be working almost exclusively in the coming months, and when I'm not, I'll be a father and a husband. Or sleeping.
2. To "be a better" anything. No amount of sentiment will ever make this happen. And what does "better" mean here anyway? Better person? Better parent? Better card player? Either I'm a good person or I'm not. I refuse to guilt myself into thinking I'm not worthy of myself as I am.

What I DO resolve is this:
1. To be happy with who I am. There is nothing wrong with me.
2. To be happy with where I am. This is considerably harder. I know having kids is expensive, but I never expected it to hit us quite as hard as it has. I really love Colorado, but I did not want to move here, at least not like this. I will strive to be happy with my current situation, because it will not be like this forever. And in accordance with that...
3. To be back to financial stability/independence by the end of the summer. Preferably sooner. Some things need to go our way for that to happen, but I know we can get there.


All things considered, I expect great things in 2014. My son will walk in the next few months. He'll start talking. He's already crawling everywhere and babbling up a storm. He's eating baby food now and seems to have figured out that non-milk foodstuffs can be kinda yummy.

This year should be a good one. Last year was wonderful and awful all at the same time, a bipolar year if ever there was one. I expect a much more chemically balanced year in 2014, if not an easy one.

So here's to the New Year. I expect a good one. How 'bout you?

- jdb

Friday, October 4, 2013


I want everything to fit.

This might be the single hardest part of life for me. I need for everything to fit. Square pegs in triangular holes bug the crap out of me. Life should be like a cascade of harmonic cadences, not necessarily a perfectly arranged set of dominoes, but at least an artfully crafted Rube Goldberg machine.

So when you have a series of square pegs attempting to slide into holes whose shapes range from circles to stars to the outline of Nebraska, I get a little... nervous.

Right now, the holes are still square-shaped... but it's a decidedly tight fit.  I'm currently on my way riding standby flights from Denver to Phoenix, where I will have to work at two in the afternoon Arizona Time.

Meanwhile, Angela, Felix, the puppies, and most everything we own save a few bare necessities remain here in Denver.  Waiting for me to catch up.

I've been reluctant to mention much about this... but this is where we are right now.  Ang and I will be living apart for a little while, she with her parents and I with my thoughts.  The reason for this is two-fold: money (or lack thereof) and the need for extra help with Felix. I'll be living in a studio apartment for the next few months, significantly cheaper than we'd been paying, while attempting to work extra hours at the airport as much as possible.

Rest assured of two things: first, Ang and I are in a wonderful place in our relationship, so there's no reason to be concerned about how this will affect us there.  This is a mutual decision; we're going into this together, if physically apart.

And second, this is by no means intended to be a prolonged arrangement.  I've been told that a position should be opening up in the Denver airport for Delta Airlines on the ramp within the next month.  At that time, I'll put in for it, and once we go through the process, I'll be moving up to Denver as well.  It shouldn't be longer than a couple months' time.

One silver lining: I work in the airline industry. Therefore, so long as there are flights available, I can fly up to visit on my days off.

(Oh. Wonderful. Because of the snow, we've been delayed an hour for deicing. An hour.  Because of snow. On October 4th. Definitely missing my second flight.)

Well, anyway. I guess that's all for now. I reiterate: it's going to be a very hard couple of months. But it should only be a couple months. We will get through this okay.

Square pegs can be carved in the shape of Nebraska, I believe.

- jdb

Friday, September 13, 2013


I'm 28.

The significance of this is mostly irrelevant.  On the one hand, if I died today, I could no longer qualify for the legendary "27 Club."  On the other hand, that's a list of people like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and (inexplicably) Amy Winehouse.  Also, I'm not too keen on dying young anyway, so this qualifies more for "dodged that bullet" status than "missed opportunity."

What's most significant is the same thing that every passing birthday signifies for me these days: I'm getting older.

Normally this isn't that big a deal. I'm actually extremely happy to not be a kid anymore, as kids have to attend school, and I have never not hated school, ever.  (My gleeful double-negative usage can attest to that. Take that, Grammar!)

Today, however... being older is kind of a downer.

In one sense, this is literal.  You're not going to believe this, you guys, but Joel the B. might actually be slowing down metabolism-wise. I know, right? Crazy!  Jury's still out, as I'm still only 130 lbs. soaking wet, but the amount of fatigue I experience these days makes me wonder if it's in play.

Of course, the lack of fatigue can be attributed to a more obvious culprit, or rather two collaborators in crime: my job and my firstborn.

I've worked the night shift at the airport now for a year and a half. I've grown accustomed to the sleep schedule for the most part... you just have to sleep in a little more to make it through the day without being completely dead through the morning.

Enter one Felix Blackburn into the mix.  Sleeping a little more... silly Joel.  Sleep is for the childless!

*sigh* I knew it would be coming. The one piece of pre-parental advice I got before Felix's birth that was well-nigh universally given was, "Get your sleep now, because you won't be getting any when the baby comes." I knew it before they told me, really.  What I didn't expect was that he wouldn't be sleeping for longer than 3 hour intervals, and usually just 2 hour intervals four months in.  You know how much fun it is to go through an entire night without getting longer than an hour and a half of sleep straight for any given period, even if accumulatively you still got about six hours of sleep? NOT VERY FUN, I AM AFRAID.

Everyone also told me how much my life would change after Felix was born.  You really can't expect these things to go as you planned.


I really don't know how we got here, exactly.  We had the whole thing figured from the start.  Angela was going to have a home birth, a water birth to be exact.  We hired a midwife and a doula.  Angela had what I can honestly say probably ranks as one of the top 100 pregnancies of all time, minimal to virtually no morning sickness, hardly any real fatigue until the end, basically went about life as she always had merely adding a few things here and there to ensure the baby would be optimally cared for prenatally.

Then came the Birth Day.

It started much like the rest of pregnancy: remarkably smoothly. I was at work when I got the call around 11 that it was time, and I raced home to Angela in a state of almost delirious euphoria.  We didn't get any sleep overnight, as Angela went straight into harder labor almost immediately.  But we figured out a good system, and with me, the doula, and the midwife and her trainee at her side, she labored at home wonderfully, a centimeter per hour, and was fully dilated by 10 in the morning when she got in the tub.

And then...

It was like everything just... paused.  Contractions continued, but no urge to push was forthcoming.  Ang started moving around the apartment out of the water in hopes of moving things along... nothing. Eventually the midwife broke the water... and the we saw meconium.

Red flag.  Meconium in the water means something might be wrong.  Ang got back in the tub, but all attempts at pushing felt forced, and Ang felt freaked out by it... and that's about when the baby's heartbeat became irregular.

Red flag two.  After some emergency attempts to push the baby on the birthing stool, to no further progress, the midwife called it.

"I think we should transfer."

I won't go into much further detail, but the following two or three hours were a well-nigh unbearable mix of fear, anger, determination, panic, focus, excitement, and overwhelming joy.  The ambulance ride... the remarkably understanding staff at the hospital... holding Angela's hand and assuring her that she was close...

The moment when Felix let out his first cry...


My two main memories of Felix's Birth Day are, graciously, positive ones: holding my son for the first time while he looked up at me through the widest eyes I've ever seen... and watching my wife hold him for the first time, untainted by drugs, weakened but not debilitated, unable to say anything but, repeatedly, "Ohhh... ohhh... ohhh..."

I have never been more proud of her.


The days hence have been exponentially more trying.  We do not get adequate sleep of any kind probably 5 to 6 nights out of any given week.  It makes it hard to muster one's strength to tend to a cranky baby.  And oh... he's a cranky one.

We've been trying for the past four months to get something resolved with the hospital bill we never expected to have. Thankfully my Delta insurance covered something like 85% of it, but we're still on the hook for about $2500 roughly, which is about what we paid for the homebirth we didn't fully get.  Finally, it looks like we might be getting something accomplished on that front, after getting the full run-around treatment from the various Arizona medical and financial assistance institutions we've had the great honor of dealing with.

But most pertinently... Angela's not going back to work.  This is particularly important.  It was our plan all along for her to go back to work after about a month or two, start pumping milk regularly, and have me watch Felix during the day while she took him in the evening.  She's made it clear that she doesn't want to do that.  And this is not something I can just tell her she "has" to do.

So... everything will change.  Again.

*sigh* The next several months are going to be very hard.  I don't mind at all being the primary breadwinner, but it means I have to find a second job, because my current income alone sure can't support a modern family of three with two dogs.  I don't even know how easily a second job will be to get...

I don't even know where I'm going with this anymore.  I'm 28.  I'm older than Kurt Cobain.  I'm a grown man, a husband and father.

And I feel like I don't have time to so much as think anymore...

*sigh* To everyone who left me birthday wishes... thank you.  It means a great deal to me.  I wish you all the best of health.  And coherence.  May you all have a wonderfully coherent weekend.

- jdb

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I just downloaded an archived zip file of every blog entry I ever wrote on my original FalknerIsFalkner blog.  Which, as far as I can tell, is going to be automatically shut down soon.  Apparently Xanga's going to be changing its format to a pay-only blog site, kept alive only through a Kickstarter campaign.  I plan on not paying.  FalknerIsFalkner will finally, truly, be dead.

This is a very weird moment for me.  FalknerIsFalkner was a very important part of my development as a human being, I think.  I chronicled every terrible decision I ever made during college on that blog (even if most of it was painfully vague).  I also recorded the good times, of course, but it was always the awful stuff that made for the most interesting reading.

Of course, in retrospect, most of it can probably summed up in one of two phrases: either, "Relationships are harder than teenagers will ever truly realize," or, "Waffles are best as nouns, not verbs."  Suffice to say, I was a spectacularly emo young man once upon a yesteryear, patently aware of it mind you, but still somehow managing not to do a damn thing about it.  My goodness, how much heartache I could've avoided in my early 20's simply by having a friggin' spine.

But for all its emo-tastic-ness, the blog kept me a lot more levelheaded than perhaps I might've been.  I was able to get my thoughts out, physically look at them, and determine where to go from there.  I felt saner when I blogged, like my opinion actually mattered to someone, even when it didn't.  I'll forever be grateful for that.


For all its naturally-baked-in nostalgia, though, FalknerIsFalkner will always be a surreal experience for me to look back on.  I feel like I barely resemble that man anymore, which I have to admit is a good thing all things considered.  I no longer concern myself with my own self-worth; I am, by definition, worthy of myself, after all.  I no longer worry about my relationships statuses.  I'm a blissfully married man and suddenly father of a bouncing baby boy; I'd say my relationships status is pretty taken.

I no longer worry about the future.  I can genuinely say now, "The future will worry about itself," which is something I could never do before.  I used to live in utter dread of what the future held, because I knew so little about it, or more specifically my place within it.  Now I understand that my place is wherever I make it.  And there are worse things than fitting into a groove to which you did not expect yourself to associate.

And make no mistake about it, I never expected to find myself associated with the life I currently lead.  Joel the B.?  Baggage Handler for Delta Air Lines?  In Arizona?  How did I even get here?

Well, by car, for starters.  By marriage, loosely.  But most importantly... by my own choosing.

I am here because I chose to be here.  This is my life because I chose it.  There is no waffling to be had anymore; my life has become my own, for better and worse.  And I am quite convinced that being at the helm of one's own life is a far better state of affairs than ever letting anyone else steer your course, regardless of the outcome.

So here I am.  In Mesa, Arizona.  At 3:13 on a Thursday morning, Pacific Standard Time.  Blogging about how I used to be such an emo blogger.  And wondering how I ever did this whole "surviving on four hours of sleep" thing on a regular basis.

*shrug* I guess I am getting older, after all.

- jdb

Saturday, May 18, 2013


So, uh. This is weird.  I had honestly completely forgotten this blog existed.  I have a blogger account. Odd.

And by golly, it's SOOOOO much better a format than Xanga.  So simple.  So direct. Colors and words. Ts'all you need.

So I think I'm going to migrate back over to this one from the Xanga blog.  I know, bunny trails... but I like this one better. And I definitely have something to say now.

I'm a daddy.

*smiles broadly* Felix David Blackburn is an amazing little guy. He's tiny, but so strong.  He's got his father's furrowed brow but his mother's beautiful eyes, if not either parent's eye color.  He's got a pretty powerful set of lungs on him, but his wails aren't really overly loud, and they're definitely few and far between.  (We'll see how long that one lasts.  Hehh.)  He's a very decidedly healthy, active, alert little boy.

A boy. Guys, I have a son. I mean, that is wild.  Ang and I had pretty much been expecting a girl this whole time.  No real reason exactly, just a feeling we had... and he's a boy. I'm blown away.  I get to pass on the Blackburn name.  I get to have father/son bonding times.  This is both massively exciting and a mite overwhelming, and I couldn't be more thrilled with such a prospect.

I'm so looking forward to finding out what Felix likes.  Will he like LEGOs like me?  (Please yes.)  Will he like cars and trucks more than I did?  Will he like sports sooner than me?  Heck, will he prefer dancing to football?  I can't wait.  :-D

And I think I'll leave it there for now.  I plan on sitting down sometime soon and writing down the details of the birth for you all, because I think it's definitely a story worth sharing.  But I'll leave it at that for the time being.

Everybody, I wish you all the greatest of days and best of health.

- jdb

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bicentennial, minus 198.

Productivity seems to come in waves. One week I'll write fifteen pages for my story. The next I'll spend my free time on nostalgia avenue playing SimCity 3000. For as popular a game as SimCity was, I feel like it was never truly appreciated enough by the gaming community. Maybe that's because by the time SimCity 3000 came out, the first person shooter had become all the rage and taken over the entire video game world forcing any sort of game that had any semblance of originality or actual fun to it out of the limelight so games based on Tom Clancy novels with little to no replay value could become the norm.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Hey, last week was Ang's and my 2-year anniversary. We made it two whole years without killing each other, so we must be doing something right. Heh.

And actually, since last year I decided to declare to the world how to have a happy marriage after only one actual year of it, I think perhaps I'll take this opportunity to clarify something about that:

I really can be an outlandish sensationalist sometimes, can't I?

Don't get me wrong. I stand by most of what I said last year. But... truly, there really is no definitive set list of guidelines by which one can govern his or herself through their respective marriages. A marriage is a living, organic thing, not a textbook with bullet points outlining the proper ins and outs thereof. You have to work with it, not for it. People change. Ideas and beliefs change. Sometimes those things were things that you thought were hallmarks of your relationship. They can be difficult changes to accept once you've tied the knot.

But that's where the things like communication come in. You talk about it. You work with it. You accept that change has occurred and figure out how to change with it. That's what makes marriages work, the ability to adapt to one another because you've made a commitment to stick with this person no matter what.

So here we are, Ang and I, sticking it to each other 2 years strong and ready for many more to come. :-)

Song stuck in my head: Blackbird - The Beatles