40 Years! In This Day and Age?

John and Cindy's Wedding Chapel

Today, my parents have been married for 40 years.

Hooray for them!

Boy they’re old! Well, they’re not really old yet, but they have been married a long damn time.

Mom and Dad on vacation in the 1980s
My parents, John and Cindy Barba, on vacation in Canada in the 1980s.

In a day and age where many people give up on each other, my parents have succeeded in creating a family who loves them, where everybody gets along. It’s pretty damn crazy that I can say that now, since this wasn’t always the case–my sister and I used to have explosive fights all the time. I mean real knock-down, drag-out fights. I came pretty close to wanting to kill her about when she was in high school (she wanted to do the same–we’re too much alike in many ways).

But these days, everybody gets along really well.

My mom:

My mom holding my brother Josh by Grandpa Bill's Bi-Plane
My mom holding my brother Josh by my Grandpa's Bi-Plane

She’s smart, kind, gentle, remembers almost everything, loyal, and she puts up with my grandma’s crap on a regular basis (which is really saying something–oh, the stories!).

She is an excellent mother and an even better mother-in-law. She has never been competitive with my wife Melissa, has never played any bullshit games with her, never done anything except welcome her into the family as a valuable member of the group. How rare is that?!?

And she’s also an excellent grandma. She takes care of Gianna Monday through Friday every week (free of charge), and is excited to do it. She is always disappointed when I decide to keep her with me at home (on days we’re not painting). There has never been any kind of issue about it, she never tries to tell us how to parent the baby, never second-guesses our decisions, nothing. She’s just excited to spend time with Gianna, which is a hell of a good quality in a grandma.

I also credit my mom with turning me onto fantasy stories when I was a kid by exposing me to Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Hobbit, and other stories of magic and mystery. This has been a huge influence on my life.

Family Except Mom in Spokane
My mom took this picture of the rest of the family in Spokane decades ago.

And my dad:

He’s also gentle, loyal and kind. He’s a problem solver who does everything possible to fix things and works extremely hard to make sure everybody is happy. He’s a work-a-holic who can make/repair/build just about anything.


As an example of my dad’s ingenuity, talent, and skill, check out his 1969 El Camino Super Sport restoration project. He did every bit of work on the car from the ground up except he had the bedliner sprayed in:

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So yep, my parents are great people, and they’re still married after 40 years. I managed to find this picture of the chapel where they got married:

John and Cindy's Wedding Chapel
My parents got married at this wedding chapel in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho in 1972.

Congratulations, guys!

Even though there are more divorces all the time, everybody knows people who have been happily married a long time. Please jump on here and share your own stories (or those of people you know).

Something Out of Nothing

Gianna in Her Yoda Hat

I like making something out of nothing.

Creating stuff feels good. It’s meaningful. It’s productive.

But despite all that, it’s just so easy to procrastinate. In this age of constant stimulation from tv, the internet, video games, Facebook, you name it, it’s simple to just plunk down on the couch and soak in other people’s ideas. I love wasting time just as much as the next guy–in fact, I waste way too much time playing Skyrim, checking my news feed for status updates, and watching Chopped.

In fact, I’m addicted to Foodtv and have been for years. Sometimes it’s just background noise, a backdrop to writing or working on MisCon stuff. But more often, it’s just a fun distraction that derails me from getting things done. Guy’s Big Bite is on right now, but I’m not really watching it.

My friend Amy made Gianna's fantastic Yoda hat so she could wear it to MisCon 25!

One tip that works for me: decide to spend 5 minutes doing nothing except brainstorming. Being a writer, it’s easy enough for me to take a break from my day and just start writing. You never know what might bubble to the surface in that 5 minutes. And if you’re lucky enough to hit on some good story ideas or figure out where your story should go next,  you’ll feel like you did something meaningful.

It’s like building a wall one brick at a time.

So today, I’m not going to play Skyrim, and I’m not going to have the tv on all day. Nope. I’m going to listen to Pandora while I get some business paperwork done this morning, and I’ll work on my novel this afternoon.

What about you? Do something creative today and you’ll probably feel good. You might nudge yourself into feeling so good that you get back to work on a project you’ve been putting off. You might build the motivation to make something out of nothing.

Then once you’ve done that, go kill some bandits in Skyrim!

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

And now we join one of my least favorite segments of society . . .

Yes, oh yes–mark your calendars, folks. Apparently Melissa and I have become idiots and lost our minds completely; she is now pregnant with a little creature which will become a human one of these days (February). Jesus Christ, I need to re-read that. Pregnant. Pregnant. Starts with a “P.” Hmmmm . . .  I am going to be some kid’s dad? Holy shit!

Over the last few months, we have discussed our advancing age and whether we truly want to continue going forward without kids. She said I either had to get a vasectomy (which she has been after for years) or that we needed to find some new method of birth control. She is tired of taking the pill–she has been taking it for almost 17 years, and just didn’t want to deal with the hormones anymore. I agreed 100%, although I have never been all that excited about getting snipped. I figured that as soon as I went to that extreme, she would change her mind and suddenly want kids.

So. After a couple conversations, we decided to say “Fuck it!” and just get pregnant. True to form and as happens with just about everything else in our life, as soon as we decided to go forward with it, it happened: we made the decision, she got her period, ovulated, then bingo! Pregnant.

The little creature is exceedingly tiny right now and honestly we shouldn’t have announced it to the world at large just yet, but what the hell? If we miscarry and the little thing dies, I guess that’s life. If it takes solid root and flourishes, so much the better.

Now is where I talk about one of my least favorite segments of society–parents.

As a few people may know, I am judgmental. I like to analyze people and group them together , making gross assumptions and harsh statements about them. When you take any of these groups and break them out into individuals, they are generally fine. I like some high school kids, I like some parents, I like some “grandma’s babies,” etc, but in general, when gathered together as a whole, these groups really irritate me.

I don’t like misbehaving, screechy  kids. I don’t like parents who think their kid is the center of everyone’s universe (newsflash, they aren’t!!). I don’t like parents who let their kids do anything they want and train them to be little monsters. I don’t like “mommy talk,” which is where moms try to outdo each other in demonstrating their knowledge of kids (another newsflash–I don’t give a damn how much you know about kids!).

I am more into the George Carlin philosophy on kids (you will have to look into that if you want to know what that wise man said about kids and their parents).

Lastly, I am making the public pledge here and now to not become one of these stupid parent types who does all the crap I listed above. And I hereby give you all the permission to bring it to my attention when I do and set me back on the right path. The last thing I want to become is an annoying parent. Well, I would really hate to be a “grandma’s baby” even worse, but I am safe there, I suppose.

Life will apparently be interesting between here and early February.