You’ve been waiting patiently.
You’ve been wondering when it would be OUT already.
You’ve looked for SOME sign on this website that it is actually coming.
Well, here it is!
At Spocon, Glamirita, and Here on this Website…
The Official Release 0f…
“RISE OF THE NEFARIOUS NUMBOTS”
The third and FINAL volume of “Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil” is almost here!
Check back here soon for exact dates, and spread the word!
The Weird Kid
A Short Story of Nil
by Jessica Rising
Books peeked around the corner at the weird Kid Gadget had brought home. He made a face behind his way-too-big goggles.
For three years, the brothers had lived together all alone in the big, broken down mall, Books learning everything he could from Gadget. Mostly, Books’ big brother had only let him hold things and read instructions out loud, saying a Stick wasn’t big enough to learn anything important. But two days ago, Books had finally earned his name. Gadget had promised that now he was old enough to learn the interesting stuff, and even said he could actually help with Gadget’s newest invention, the Rock Walker! Books had been so excited.
Then, this little… thing… happened.
She was tiny, way littler than Books who was pretty littler than Gadget anyway, with dark eyes and skin and frizzy black hair. Like all the tiny Sticks that always showed up around Nil, she wore a dirty white, shapeless dress. That was it. She didn’t have any shoes or gloves, or even tire armor! Every time before when they’d found one of these tiny Sticks, Gadget had left it there, saying another group of Kids would find it and raise it right. He said he was too busy inventing important things to worry about another Stick. But he’d chosen Books to raise because he’d shown he was smart from the moment he’d found him.
“Ya was standin’ inna port, wailin’ up a storm, like all the other Sticks,” Gadget had told him many times, “an’ I was gonna just leave ya there. But when I turned ta leave, ya said, ‘hey, where ya goin?’ No little Stick ever talked ta me bafore, an’ I was kinda lonely, so I thought I’d just show ya the ropes, ya know? Now stop askin’. I toldya tonsa times already!”
But now there was this new little Stick that Gadget’d actually brought home. Books didn’t really know how to feel about that.
“Well?” Gadget asked from behind. “Whaddaya think?”
Books glanced back at his big brother. Gadget was tall and skinny, with green eyes and dirty blond hair mashed up in thick braids he called dreadlocks. He wore big gloves and big goggles, just like Books, but unlike his little brother he also wore a long, stained white coat over his Nil rags and tire armor. When Books had asked about it, he’d said scientists wore coats like that. Books had never found one in the scrap that fit him, but he kept looking.
“I dunno,” Books said honestly. Gadget always said to be honest whenever possible. “She’s kinda scrawny.”
“Sure,” Gadget said. “But I think she’ll be okay.”
“Why’d ya get her?” Books asked. He felt himself get all hot and stuffed-up inside. He sniffed hard to make sure he didn’t cry. Scientists never cried. “Ain’t I good ’nuff?”
Gadget grinned, and Books braced for a joke about his crying. But Gadget surprised him by being serious. “I just figgerd we needed a new Stick ’round the place ta do the work ya used ta do, cuz ya ain’t no Stick no more… Books.”
Every time Gadget used his new name it made Books all happy inside, like when the orange Nil sky broke open for a second and showed the bright yellow light on the other side.
“Ya mean I can stop sweepin’ an’ holdin’ scrap an’ makin’ food?” he asked, excited.
“Not yet,” Gadget said. “Ya gotta show her how first. But then she’ll do the Stick work till she earns her name. That’s when we’ll find ‘nother Stick.”
Books felt his excitement peeter out like the broken balloon in a book he’d read once. “She’s gonna be a scientist, too?”
Gadget nodded. “She’s smart, Books. Just as smart’s you when I found ya.” He punched Books in the shoulder. “Only smart Kids’re ‘lowed ta live here.”
Books looked back at the weird Kid. For once she was quiet, just looking around with her big brown eyes like she’d never seen a mall before.
“She don’t look too smart.”
Gadget pushed Books gently in the back. “Go say hey ta your new sis.”
Books growled under his breath, but walked out into the room anyway. The Stick looked at him curiously.
“Heya, Stick,” he said.
“Stick?” she asked in a tiny voice.
“Yeah,” Books said. “You are a Stick ’til ya earn your name. I earned mine, so I’m bigger ‘an you ,so ya gotta listen ta me, got it?”
The Stick looked a little confused, but she nodded anyway. “Yup!”
“Good,” Books said. “Cuz ya gotta be real smart an’ know yer place ta live here. It’s the best place in Nil, though.”
“What’s name?” the Stick asked.
Books squatted down so he could look at her closer. “Books.”
She grinned. “Books!” Then, without warning, she jumped at him, wrapping her scrawny arms around his neck and squeezing tight.
Books looked back at Gadget, who leaned against the wall watching them with a smile. Gadget didn’t smile much, but Books really liked it when he did.
He squeezed his scrawny new sister back. “Sure Stick,” he said, “ya gonna be a good parta our family, I think.”
He sniffed again. But this time is was maybe a good sniff.
There is very little I know about this life. One thing I can reasonably state as fact, however, is my direct connection with the greats of literature. This isn’t because I sit around reading their work, brooding over the depth of their prose. I’m not even proud that I’m part of this “elite” group. It actually… kind of sucks.
See, I actually live the life they did… only in my own century.
I am what most people call “a night person”. This isn’t particularly a romantic title, but I don’t really care. (Does that make me totally emo awesome? Still don’t care.) Seriously, with a bluntness that only comes from being entirely, raw-honest, I can say that more than half the time I wish I could be… normal. Just normal. Able to go to bed at what “decent folk” call a “decent hour”. Able to get up in time to get my kids ready for school with a smile on my face and scrambled eggs in their bellies.
The reality, however, is far darker.
My kids love me, and I love them. I get up with them long enough to get them out the door. I go to EVERY parent-teacher conference, and I schedule mommy-daughter and mommy-son dates. Their birthday parties are AMAZING. We eat dinner around the table more nights than not, and discuss the craziest subjects, like religion, philosophy, and politics.
Yes, even with the 6-year-0ld.
But on a day-to-day scale, I drop the ball. A lot.
My kids know how to make their own breakfast. Even my youngest. My kids’ bedding goes weeks without being laundered. Sometimes their underwear does, too. They read a lot… but they also play a lot of video games. There are days when they don’t see me at all, because my nocturnally natural and professional schedule just doesn’t work with the one I am trying to let them have.
Usually, that’s on the weekends… usually.
If Edgar Allen Poe had kids… if Emily Bronte’ followed the traditions of her gender in her time… if Mark Twain was a single father… they’d be me.
I’m torn between being proud of my natural predilection towards nocturnal-literati-weirdness, and my fear that my children are being neglected because of it. But there’s one thing I do know, and that’s the fact that I was born to be a crazy writer.
Sometimes I just wonder if maybe I should have been a cat person instead of a mommy…
The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc is now LIVE!
Please share! Buy a copy! Enjoy! And PLEASE don’t hesitate to tell me what you think when you are finished?
(Also, if you haven’t read Dr Fixit’s Malicious Machine yet, I would highly recommend you do that first. ;-))
I see a lot of blog posts about parenting out there, and many of them are a lot of fun to read, laugh with, and relate to. Still, these are often written about subjects to which I am woefully unrelatable, such as picking the perfect nanny, or how to get your kid into an ivy-league college starting in preschool. Now, I’m not saying these things aren’t relevant; I’m sure for many parents they are, or else they wouldn’t be written about. And I would never be one to judge any parent (unless they harm their children — that deserves a lot more than judgement, as far as I’m concerned). However, I am pretty sure I am not the only mommy out there who’s parenting world is a bit different than the perceived norm of soccer practices and brand-name baby carriages.
As I have written about before, I am not what one would call… well-off. Actually I’m not even middle class. Of course, when one says this, one is usually expected to follow up with reasons why being poor is a terrible thing, how they want to win the Lottery one day, how the world is awful and judgmental, etc.
I’m not going to do that.
As I said before, I’m not the only parent raising their children in what America calls poverty, and we have all heard quite enough about how horrible it all is. Heck, we’re quite aware of it in our own lives thank-you-very-much. But what I haven’t heard much of is the good things. The happy things. The wonderful day-to-dayness of parenting poor (as opposed to poorLY — that’s a very different thing). So, for myself and my fellow penniless parents out there, here is my list of the top five BEST things about raising un-monied children:
5) Our Kids Have to Learn to be Thankful
I’m not saying that those parents who are better off can’t teach their children to be meek and thankful, but I am saying that poor kids don’t really have a choice in the matter. My own children have learned from day one that they won’t get everything they want in life, not because I don’t want to give them all their desires, but because I can’t. Seeing that Mom would like to give them what they want, but still can’t do it, not only shows my children that the world won’t just give them whatever they desire, but it makes them far more thankful for what they can have. Though any parent can teach their child thankfulness, poor parents have the automatic default of showing their kids — in real time — why hard work is important.
Which brings me to…
4) Our Kids Get Daily Lessons in Reality
This is similar to #5, but not exactly the same. See, I am divorced from my children’s father as well as poor. This isn’t something I’m particularly proud of, but life is the way it is. However, it gives me a myriad of lessons to teach my children in order to improve their futures:
“Why are you and dad divorced?” “Because we got married too young — don’t do that.”
“Why are we so poor?” “Because Mommy didn’t do anything to get ready for having kids before she had you. Go to college. Get a career, not just a job. Be ready for your kids.”
My children get these lessons on almost a daily basis. My high school junior is planning college with a view towards a career, not just a degree, and my sophomore has said that she WILL get a PhD… because Mom now has a Master’s and she can do better. I’m proud of my children, what they have accomplished and will accomplish. I am also a natural spoiler. If I had money, my children would most likely be learning some very different lessons… and not the best ones.
3) Family Time is AWESOME
I’m sure going to the spa, or Disneyland, or beach house, or whatever is a lot of fun for some families. I’m even sure my family would enjoy such a thing. However, we have some pretty awesome family times ourselves.
For example, there are times when we do have some extra cash, so we have things like a T.V. and video game system for family-time livingroom sleepovers with popcorn, game tournaments, and family movies. There are also some great free, or close to free, family outings that we do on a regular basis. Here in Spokane there is a HUGE free fountain in the central park downtown where kids can run through and splash and have a blast. We go there often when it’s warm, packing a picnic lunch from our own home stores of budgeted groceries. This costs about $3 — for parking. We also go camping, which is a WONDERFUL time to not only give our kids some great memories, but spend real time with each-other without the distractions of T.V., laptops, or even cell phones. This usually costs a bit more for gas and some extra campy-style food, but we have some free campsites we like to go to, so that the total cost for an entire weekend of family fun is only around $40 max. Usually less. Wintertime offers parks for sledding with home-brought hot cocoa, or family game night with mommy-made kid’durves (usually tiny peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and chips).
Of course, this isn’t meant to say that our family times are any better than anyone else’s, but it is to say that yeah we have it. And yes, it can be AWESOME. Still…
2) It Takes Work
So, you might be saying “how the heck is this a GOOD thing?” Let me explain.
I am not going to sit here and say I know what it’s like to raise kids with money. That would be asinine, and a lie. That said, I DO know myself, and I know that if I had money to spare, I’d probably take as many shortcuts as possible to make my parenting life easier. However, I don’t have money to spare, and so I have to take extra time to spend quality moments with my children. Between job-hunting, bill paying, and the everyday stress of not knowing details about the future state of either, my kids could easily get lost in the shuffle. I have to make a concerted effort to remember to give my twelve-year-old the scraps of cloth and holey clothes I find in the laundry so she can practice her sewing skills. I have to work hard at planning creative birthday parties around a non-existent budget, to sign my kids up for the free programs at school so they can go to cross country practices and sing in choir, to plan a special fun meal with nothing more than a loaf of bread and some frozen hamburger, to stop and hug my kids, even when my mind is racing with anxiety over how the electric bill is going to get paid…
My kids aren’t stupid. They span in age from 6 to 16. They see things. They hear things. They know Mom and Dad (my new husband) are stressing out. But they also see past that. They see the love. They see the dedication. They understand that no matter what, they are the very most important thing to us. And they know this because it takes so much work to keep their lives as happy, carefree and normal as possible, even while our own feels like it’s falling apart.
1) Our Kids are Compassionate
Again, let me qualify this with the fact that I am not saying wealthier kids can’t be compassionate. What I am saying is my children have empathy for those in need, because they have been in-need themselves many times. We have been to the food bank where my kids have given other kids the donuts they just got, because maybe those kids don’t have a big sister who will bake for them later. My now sixteen-year-old daughter, when she was only eight and very shy, stood up for a friend who was being bullied because she herself was bullied so often for wearing the “wrong” clothes. My nine-year-old son shares everything he gets with his six-year-old sister, because he knows that maybe neither of them will get it again any time soon. I have been complimented in public, not for how well my children behave, but for how well they treat each-other. The words from one particular old lady will forever echo in my mind as one of the greatest moments of my life: “It’s so wonderful to see your children together. It’s obvious that they love each-other very much.”
Am I bragging? Maybe a little. 😉 But I have a sneaking suspicion that if my children hadn’t had it so rough growing up, they wouldn’t be so soft now. Sure, my influence and lessons have made an impact, but again, I am a natural coddler. If we had money, my kids would quite possibly not understand what it’s like to be in need, to be downtrodden, to be on the outside looking in. And without that understanding it’s very difficult to sympathize — let alone empathize — with others in the same position.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I want to remain poor for the rest of my life. Like the vast majority of people, I want the best life I can have for myself, my husband, and my children. This is why I have worked so hard to earn my Master’s (which I just received last month, hence the lack of job at the moment). Still, I’m a little tired of seeing only the bad side of being poor. Poor parents aren’t bad parents, and we aren’t always miserable, either.
In fact, sometimes being a poor parent is pretty danged great.
In case it hasn’t been made abundantly clear, I have kids. Five of them to be specific:
Considering their pictures are already all over my Steampunk Wedding page, I’m not too concerned with posting this pic. Though, as it is on that page, here they will be going by nicknames for their protection.
Zigzgging down from the top row from the left we have Hippie Chick (age 16), Drama Queen (age 15), Bratz Princess (age 12), Doctor Boy (age 9), and Baby Girl (age 6). Now that you can put faces to the “names”, I would like to submit for your approval (and some giggles), a few choice quotes that float around the air here at Casa Rising on a daily basis as Mom sits at her computer trying to work…
Doctor Boy: “Can The Doctor fly? (AKA Dr. Who) I bet I can! I need a normal screwdriver, though, cuz my window’s really hard to open.”
Baby Girl: “When I grow up, I’m going to be a spy at night and a teacher during the day!”
Bratz Princess: “When will you sleep?”
Baby Girl: “Duh. When I’m 36!”
Drama Queen: “Excuse me while I go find my dignity.”
Me: “Hi. How was your day?”
Bratz Princess: “I’m bloating and I gotta go potty. How was your day?”
Drama Queen: “Why is there PANCAKE BATTER in my COMBAT BOOTS?”
Baby Girl: “I already swept (a-tiny-toilet-paper-square area). It’s Doctor Boy’s turn!”
Doctor Boy: “Mom told YOU to sweep, not me!”
Baby Girl: “Nu-uh. You sweep (this tiny area) and I sweep (this other tiny area). Mom said!”
Doctor Boy and Baby Girl: “MOOOOOOOOOM!”
Hippie Chick: “I’ll be in high school until I’m OOOOLD!”
Bratz Princess: “I’m going to blow up… then explode.”
Doctor Boy: “That’s some bukly, BULGY baby!”
Baby Girl: “Since poop is stuff you already ate, you can eat it again, right?”
… and my personal favorite:
Hippie Chick: “BE QUIET! MOM’S TRYING TO WORK!”
Sound like your house? How do you work at home with kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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