My busy morning
But today, I actually did get all that stuff done... except for the part about actually doing some work. That's still a fantasy, alas...
How the playgroup saved my life
"It is certain my Conviction gains infinitely, the moment another soul will believe in it." – Novalis
After I drew this picture of my playgroup (coming up, below), I thought of that quote - which, apparently, Joseph Conrad quoted at the beginning of Lord Jim, according to this handy little article. (I had no idea. It doesn't appear in my copy of Lord Jim!) No, I know Novalis (he's the guy in the picture) - and that quote - from a long-ago German literature class, from which I took away: great language, not so great literature.
I didn't really like Novalis. I remember really not liking this quote, and putting it up on my wall just so I could look at it and feel disdainful. My thought was: Shouldn't you stand by your own beliefs, whether anyone else believes them or not? Novalis sounded to me like the person in the Bob Dylan song, about whom it's said: "You need a watered-down love." No watered-down love for me. Give me John Proctor, the hero of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, who couldn't bring himself to confess to a witchcraft he didn't believe in, even though the confession could have saved his life. No, as I suddenly remember having read a while back: "I define my humanity by trying to do the right thing even when no one is looking." Which I guess is exactly how I'd sum up Lord Jim, come to think of it - epigraph or no epigraph.
But how did this turn into a diatribe on ethics and literature? All I wanted to do was post this comic strip about my playgroup and how the positive feedback of my peers made me feel just plain awesome:
After I had my first baby, the playgroup kind of saved my life by providing a weekly chance for socialization, constructive feedback, learning opportunities, and just plain fun. Even though I may have started out having nothing in common with those guys other than the fact that we were all parents, by now, after all we've been through together, we have a history. That's why their kind words about my new baby meant so much.
So, yeah, I guess my Conviction may have "gained" a bit, once I heard that some other "souls" believed in it. But once in a while, a little moral support from a few other souls can be a good thing, right? Especially when it's about something as emotional, hormone-charged, terrifying and magical as having a baby.
So maybe Novalis should have said, "My Conviction gains infinitely, the moment a member of my playgroup believes in it." Not just any old soul will do.
Mike & the mamas
By the way, here's another note about playgroups while we're on the topic:
A little while back I happened to read an article in Metro by local writer Jeremy Klaszus about how Calgary's parenting scene is a lot more about the moms than the dads. (You can read the article in this online edition of Metro.) For example, he notes, you can't always count on finding change tables in men's washrooms. And an informal organization of parents and children is often known as a "moms & tots group." What about the dads?
Rather than "the moms & tots group," my own group has always just been called "the playgroup." However, my son had another name for it when he was two. Thanks to the presence of one lone dad who came regularly with his boy, Alec dubbed the group "Mike & the Mamas." Alec was just calling it what it was, but it did draw attention to the fact that the presence of a dad was a bit anomalous (as well as making it sound like we were going, not to the playground, but to jam with our band, or something like that).
From what I've seen in this city since I became a parent almost five years ago, it does seem accurate to say that there are a whole lot more moms - and nannies - out and about with their children, than there are dads. But these dads do exist, and they're in a tricky spot. I'd like to add my voice to the chorus of Calgarians who would like to see more dad-inclusive events and venues in this town. (Who knows... maybe if enough "souls" believe in that one, we'll see some changes!)
And now. To wrap this up, just a page about the playgroup from Alec's Yearbook:
I am a graphic recorder based in Calgary. I like local stories. I write comics when I have free time. And I leave eraser shavings everywhere I go.
Looking for a
Some nice things people said about my work:
“If Breitkreuz and Foong [founders of the Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo] represent the Type-A side of Calgary's self-publishing community, Hester may be the community's right brain.” – Tom Babin, FFWD Magazine
“…A strong graphic style similar to other autobiographically-inclined Canadian cartoonists like Chester Brown and Julie Doucet.” – Gilbert Bouchard, Edmonton Journal
The 23rd Story: an indie comics creator's tales of life in Calgary