Up until a few days ago I had never seen a photo of my great grandparents. I didn’t think I’d ever see a photo of them cause, well if I haven’t seen one so far in my 36.5 years I doubted I’d come across one now. I don’t know much else about it (date? their names?) but here they are on their wedding day. I’ll dig more into this as time goes on, but for now a few things stand out to me:
I see A LOT of my mom in my great grandma. It is like they are carbon copies of each other. Here are a few photos of her over the years that stand out to me…I see the resemblance in their eyes:
I also see a lot of my son Finn in my Mom, so it is very interesting to be able to connect these threads FIVE generations back now. Wow.
It is amazing to think about where we came from, and it is even more amazing to see this in a photograph. All of this couldn’t have come at a more interesting time for me, with the recent news being dominated by my home country’s immigration ban. Because of that this photo isn’t just a photo of my relatives to me. It is a reminder to me that we all come from somewhere. It makes me see how a positive and welcoming approach is what is best for our world. We should welcome others with open arms, give them a chance, and who knows…some amazing things may happen.
My son Finn turned 8 on January 17 and one of his gifts was his very own copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. My wife Haley and I have been playing the game for over three years and haven’t stopped enjoying it. In those three years, Finn has created his own character in each of our towns and dabbled in the game here and there. As he got older and started learning how to read, one of the things we told him was that he could get his own copy of the game. His eighth birthday seemed like the perfect time to get him his own copy: he’s a pretty great reader, he’s got his own Nintendo 2DS, and it just felt right. We snagged him a copy of the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf Welcome Amiibo game and last night dove into starting up a new town for Finn.
He decided to call his town “Finntopia” and that his in game character would be known as Finnix because “I just like the letter X.” We cozied up on the couch as a family (minus his younger brother Aero, as he went to bed and this was a special Mom/Dad/Finn night) and helped him through the setup process of getting into his own town, finding where to put his house, and more.
Once all of the setup was complete, Finn opened his town gates and invited Haley and I into his town. It was like the “Mom and Dad, I’d like to invite you to my first apartment/home” moment, but this time it was when he was 8 and it was in Animal Crossing. He showed us around his town, pointed out that he had some pear trees, and introduced us to some of his villagers. We then headed back to the train station but before we left did the parent thing and left him with some gifts and money to help him start his new life in Finntopia.
After playing for about an hour, it was 10pm and we told Finn we were getting tired. He said he was getting tired too. But he had a glow on his face that I will never forget: he finally got his own Animal Crossing town and he also got to spend some time with his parents playing video games. It was a great night where we all got a chance to enjoy something fun, learn something together, and best yet….hang out as a family.
Video games can be awesome family and community building tools!
I’ve written about how fun, learning, and community can happen during gaming in the past. You can read all of those here or head on over to Medium and read this collection on Nintendo games.
THANK YOU TECHNOLOGY
Brief shout out to computers, the internet, and technology in general. It’s easy to be negative about technology and computers, especially since they are a bit confusing and sometimes don’t work properly. But in the long run, wow, technology helps us out quite a bit. A large portion of my summer has been spent working on budgets, grants, and building maintenance and without technology it would have been much more difficult. Google Drive allows me to keep everything I write related to grants and budgeting in one place and gives all of my proposals and work a continuity that is much needed. It is also really helpful to communicate project updates and changes with my board and the community via email and social media. Conversation and communication are key!
Thank you to KISS for all of their music and their makeup that my son Aero seems to love oh so much. Over the weekend he wanted to dress up as Paul Stanley aka Starchild from the 80’s version of KISS. That’s the version of him you’re seeing in this video. He was amazed that KISS could take off their makeup. Even neater is that he think that their song “Lick It Up” is actually titled “Pick It Up” and is about picking up toys.
I hope everyone reading this is enjoying their summer. We’ve been spending a lot of time with our rabbits and chickens and also watering our plants and gardens. Just last week we got to eat our first crop of the season, radishes. It feels great to live in what basically amounts to our own little semi urban farm. It fits our family.
I am a very anxious and constantly moving ahead kind of person. Fidelia Hall has been one of those projects in my life that has caused me to stop and think about who I am and how I can become a better person. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Fidelia Hall. The boiler sort of works and heats half of the building. The next project is ripping up the carpet in the basement, replacing some rotted wood, and making the hardwood floors beautiful again. After that we turn our attention to the gutters and how to get water away from certain parts of the building. After that is how to get event insurance and more stuff like that. It does not end.
I am learning to be more patient in life as I get older. Kids have helped tremendously with that. But there is still work to be done and Fidelia Hall will help with that. The important part is what the Fidelia Hall project seeks to accomplish: We believe that a community can be strengthened when it has a space dedicated to creative expression. I can’t let the little moments get in the way.
OLD ISN’T BAD
When you’re a teenager and even into your twenties you have this idea that the old way is the bad way because look where the old way has gotten us so far. I have always been skeptical of this way of thinking and I am even more so now that I am way out of that part of my life. Take for example, the photo that you see above. What you see is a very beautiful and ornate tin ceiling. Fidelia Hall was originally built in 1873 and this tin ceiling most likely came in the 50-60 years after that. It is beautiful yet it is in need of quite a bit of love and attention. At some point in the history of the building it was decided to cover up this great ceiling with a modern drop ceiling. The drop ceiling did the trick….sort of…it managed to cover up the work that needed to be done to the tin ceiling and make the room usable for a time. But after awhile the drop ceiling got a bit wet, uneven, and moldy. It looks gross. It smells like it has kept every smell in it since 1975.
When Haley and I uncovered this hidden gem over the weekend we were over the moon. Look at that ceiling! Imagine that ceiling after being repainted. Won’t it be glorious? Won’t it add so much to the character of Fidelia Hall? It will. Just remember: old isn’t bad. There’s good things that can be taken away from things both new and old. Smoosh the two together and see what you get.
THE HOENKE FAMILY
I enjoy all of the time that I spend with my family very much. There’s not much more I can add to this. They are perfect.
Happy birthday Finn! You are seven! Holy crap!
Over the past year you’ve taken a really strong liking to Five Nights at Freddy’s, LEGO, and building characters out of clay. You have this amazing brain that is capable of inventing characters, worlds, and more. Always keep that super power no matter what your age is.
I’m assuming that today you will ask us to take you to Chuck E. Cheese because it serves as the inspiration for Five Nights at Freddy’s. You’ll wanna get on the stage and look at all the animatronic characters close up. That’s cool. You can totally do that.
I love you dude.
IT IS COLD
It is cold these days in Northwest Pennsylvania (NWPA). I don’t really mind it at all. I think the body and the mind shut down a little bit once that happens and we go into a kind of hibernation mode. This is a good thing. Everyone needs some time to gather themselves. Americans especially. We believe that work is something we must constantly be doing. We sometimes work ourselves into the grave.We should probably relax more.
WHY DO WE LIVE THIS WAY?
The first of the winter heating bills has come in. I’m not too scared of them because money isn’t a real thing and no matter what everything works out in the end. The bills get paid yo. But every time I see this bill (and the water bill and the electric bill and the grocery bill) I always have the same thought: why do human beings have to pay so much money just to stay alive? It seems kind of weird. You have to work to make money to pay bills to keep services operating that keep you alive. I get the whole “well it pays for other people to have jobs argument” but that’s not where I am going here. I think back to when this all started and we created an idea of how modern civilization would look. In my opinion we kind of messed it up.
I think that the kinds of things that help keep us alive should be free. We should share and trade them with each other. I think life may be a little more enjoyable in the long run if we did that.
FINN THE CREATOR
Finn will be seven years old in 11 days. Wow. Recently his obsession has been the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. It’s not so much that he enjoys playing the video games (he makes me play them the most) but instead he enjoys the world that the video games take place in. The characters, the locations, the stories, and the theories all float through Finn’s brain every day. Sometimes he’ll dress up as a character and stay in that character all day. Before the holidays he would spend hours making LEGO versions of the characters . His new thing is building clay characters. He uses sculpy modeling clay and some wire to get what he is looking for. It’s pretty amazing! Our house is now full of these great little characters created by Finn. I’m excited to remind him that in first grade his favorite subject was Five Nights at Freddy’s.
I am getting older. I like this. I feel more comfortable in my skin. My brain hurts less. The things that people say don’t affect me as much. I can do whatever the fuck I want with my life. I got this chicken suit for the holidays. I can wear it out in public if I want. I don’t care what you might say. It is a comfy and cozy chicken suit. In other news, I spent most of December 25-27 in pajamas. It was glorious.
I think I have a natural tendency to lead people. I could use this power for evil but I will never do that. It is fun to be able to recognize this and move on. I think growing older is great because you start to understand what you can and can’t do while you’re in this world. I could start a cult! But I won’t ever do that. Could I run a marathon or go jogging? Not at all.
I used to worry about becoming a cyborg as I got older. The feelings inside of me calmed down a bit and I was legitimately worried I was becoming a cyborg. I could finally listen to Weezer’s Pinkerton without tearing up! This was very cool, but I was curious about what was going on!
I’m here to tell you that you don’t become a cyborg as you get older! You calm down and prioritize what gets you worked up. Pinkerton won’t make me cry anymore. Death still makes me cry, but it doesn’t tear me up for years and years. I remember when my Pap Pap Pleczynski died in 1995. I thought it was the end of the world. I missed him for so many years and wondered about what life would be like if he were still here. These days? It’s ok! His physical form left the earth years ago but I have these awesome memories and vibrations of him still around. He lives! We all kind of live forever if we have someone who remembers us.
Being a Dad is fucking awesome. The first three years are kind of rough and really weird, but after that everything moves a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong….the first three years are awesome too! I like seeing these two little men grow up and bloom into their own unique and weird and awesome personalities. They are surrounding themselves and filling their brains with the neat things the world gives to them. Everyone should have that same opportunity. I think that is something the world needs to work on giving to everyone.
Being married/in a relationship is awesome. I like and love Haley a lot. She’s the best roommate/life partner/tag team partner/friend ever. We have our ups and downs but as we both get older we understand how to deal with those ups and downs better. Life is full of those ups and downs. In the end, we stick together because we dig hanging out with each other. Haley is really good at kissing too.