Now I won't ever say my writing isn't mostly for an audience of one (myself), but this one is perhaps a little more self indulgent than usual. A little more than a year ago, I became a father. It was something in the back of my mind I had always wanted, but (fortunately, looking back) the women I was with expressed a desire to remain childless and, since it's not my body and I don't have to spend nine or so months carrying the fucking thing, I never really objected, but the older I got, I did start to feel a certain sense of melancholy that the only time I would hear "daddy" would either be in my head with my cats or in the dozens of illicit messages I receive daily, also in my head. So when my girlfriend broke the news to me that we were expecting, the melancholy was relieved and then replaced by anxiety, guilt, and a craving for nicotine. We’ll get into all of that shortly.

I marked every important moment from that day until shortly after our daughter's birth by remembering what music I listened to that would help me process the experiences. I had fully intended to write my daughter a letter expressing her gestation period and what it was like before she was born, which would include these recordings, mostly because my biggest fear is I won't be around when she's old enough to have any kind of interest in it. I never truly got to know my father, except a lot of the very negative shit that still pops up almost thirty years after he died, so I want to be as cognizant as possible in fucking my child up the least amount I can. One of those ways is to be open and honest about myself with her future self in case the very real possibility of me not being around were to occur. With Father's Day just happening, I felt the need to document this part somewhere she might eventually see it, since I've never been especially great with planning things out.

One of the biggest changes in my life is when and how I digest new music. Seeing as she’s now a toddler and getting into fucking everything when she isn’t yelling fairly limits my options. Instead of sitting quietly with a record I now have to listen to this fucking abortion a few times a day.

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They shoehorn this goddamned song everywhere they can across three different series and five fucking seasons. She adores it, just lights up every time that stupid elephant saunters onto the screen. Maybe I should have pulled out.

My listening time is now more valuable than ever, and it causes me to prioritize music in a different manner than I ever have. These days it has to come recommended from a trusted source or involve one or more musicians I’ve followed in the past. It also means that, no, I definitely don’t want to hear your band, so at least that much hasn’t changed.

As I said before, this is all about events. It’s a little wordy, but most self indulgence is. So let's dig in:

August 11th, 2020:

My girlfriend had been ill the previous few days, just constant nausea and vomiting. This was of concern because for the previous year she had been battling stage 4 brain & lung cancer, the tip off being extreme vomiting and headaches. I had gone out the night before and bought two pregnancy tests, the most expensive kind on the shelf because that somehow made me feel like we’d get proper results. Around seven in the morning she woke me up and since I'm a sweetheart I told her I knew she was pregnant and rolled over and went back to sleep. I'm especially fun at parties, too.

When I woke up a few hours later (in my defense I was working 80 hour weeks, salaried, for a job I despised), it sort of hit me what had happened. I was sent out with a pregnancy shopping list before I had to go to work so I stumbled out into the blinding sun. It was somehow brighter than I'd ever experienced in my life and I decided that, after about six months of not smoking, I needed to grab a pack. Sitting in the Wawa parking lot, chain smoking and panicking, I opened up YouTube and the first suggestion was Hole Dweller's Flies the Coop. I'd never given the project a chance, but I noticed people wouldn't shut the fuck up about it, even those who weren't normally into dungeon synth, so I gave it a shot. Almost instantly I was transported to a calmer, more comforting place. I listened to the entire album while I gathered my thoughts. I was about to be 42 years old and a father.

Fast forward let’s say 7 months later I would be charged with making sure our daughter was put to bed, a duty I still undertake nightly and is one of my favorite parts of the day. Back then? Not so much. So in order to try to sooth this wiggling potato with no fucking neck control I would try various sounds. Perfectly enough Hole Dweller’s “Flies the Coop II” always did the trick. She would generally be out by the time “With a Taste for Miruvor” would come on. Tim Rowland and Hole Dweller played, and continue to play, an important role in my life as a pillar of emotional support through some very heavy times.

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The Heartbeat:

The night that I found out we were going to be parents I had a live interview booked with Bucket List Media that is still available through their social media. I look and sound like shit, and it wasn't just the realization that I would be responsible for someone who would possibly grow up to despise me, but that the pregnancy was extremely high risk due to my girlfriend's health. So we kept a tight lid on that shit, telling only a few people, until we hit the twelve week mark which, for those who’ve never experienced a pregnancy before, is the first barrier you have to overcome since a lot of pregnancies are lost before then. Call it superstition, but we weren't chancing it.

This was also during the point in the pandemic where hospitals were locked down like it was fucking "Resident Evil" and I was only allowed in for a few minutes before getting tossed out like I'd unzipped at a bar. Those few minutes? Absolutely life changing. It was the first ultrasound and the moment we heard the heartbeat. I’m not overly emotional (unless you count anger, jealousy and more anger). I mean I didn’t even cry at either of my parents' funerals, but hearing what sounded like little depth charges? Fucking waterworks like I was five again.

I was sent out to my car for the next hour. This was at the end of the summer and I was driving a $5,000 piece of shit that I’d put $10,000 into because everything kept breaking, so I couldn't even sit with the air on. I hated my job and the workload was killing me and to top it all off, we lived in one of the shittiest parts of town where, within the few months preceding the pregnancy and the few after, two murders occurred on the block (one I got to watch, that was terrific), multiple bullets crashed into our bedroom, and some fucked up lady tried to buy my baby, or at least inquired "how much that baby is?" Shit had to change and it had to change now.

While I sat in my car I listened to Kommodus' An Imperial Sun Rises, which is still probably my favorite work of his. Some people will tell you it's nationalist or fascist, but those people are idiots. We could go on and on about this (as I’m sure some of you will regardless) but the answer is no, this isn’t "sketch," "fash," or whatever other fucking cutesy bullshit you want to call it.

While I sat in my sweltering piece of shit listening to someone with absolute focus and intent force ahead it gave me clarity. I had just experienced one of the most profound things I have (or will) ever experience, and if that wasn’t going to motivate me then I might as well give up. Kommodus was the soundtrack to that motivation.

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Gender Reveal:

I don't think I really had much of a dog in this fight but we were convinced it was a boy, all the way up to the moment it wasn't. I might have been disappointed until I realized the world didn't need another fucked up replica of me running around, and I settled nicely into the idea that we were having a daughter… until I remembered what most guys (myself included) were like growing up, and that gave me another set of concerns altogether.

I excused myself from work for a few minutes to go outside and sit in my shit heap, have a cigarette or three, and process this. The heartbeat was a heavy emotional moment, maybe the heaviest in my life, but knowing the gender and that she was healthy brought everything into reality for me. I'd already begun looking for a job that wouldn’t give me a stroke and enable me to change what I controlled in my family's life, since the rest of the world was steadily going to shit. I had the responsibility to make things as right as I could. So when you’re staring reality right in its filthy asshole, what better soundtrack to cope with than Nyredolk’s Indebrændt​? This is an absolutely malicious record, with a tenuous (at best) grasp on sanity and still receives regular play in my life. For whatever reason the second press of the vinyl is still available through the label.

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Welcome to the World, Your Father is an Asshole:

This could go on and on but the summation is that she was born on March 19th, on a day that started out snowing and ended with the first signs of spring in some kind of cosmic fucking metaphor less interesting people would love to chat about. We brought her home and somehow adjusted to life with a screaming, shitting infant. As it is for all parents the first few months were hard and had us wondering if we made the right decision. That eventually faded.

There was a joke amongst friends of mine years and years ago about how try-hard metal fans acted as though they came out of the womb listening to Venom. As my own private continuation of this joke, this was the first thing I ever played for her.

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I don't play a lot of metal around her now, mostly because I was always offended by the concept that people try to mold their children into new versions of themselves (with one exception). Most times it would just cause the child to hate their parents or, in the rare instance it worked, you had lifelong Republicans, but she did wander in when I was playing the self titled Emperor record and started bouncing up and down in her approximation of dancing for most of it, which I found fucking endearing and had to mention.

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Fatherhood is difficult, but it's rewarding and fulfilling in ways unlike any other undertaking in my life. Some moments can be the most elated and wonderful experiences possible, while other times I feel immense guilt for bringing a life into what, by a solid estimation, will be one of the last two or three generations living on a habitable planet in a country where anti-intellectualism and crass consumerism are the tenets in which 75% of the population live by. So it's up to me to prepare her for her challenges ahead and to help her become whatever she wants to become.

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Fatherhood
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So far I think I’m doing a good job.

Thank you to those of you who read through all of this, I promise I won't be this verbose for a while, but if you did stick this far then humor me for just another few minutes and watch this video. Why? Because it’s the most goddamned depressing video I’ve ever seen.

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We're watching a video of an old man reliving his long gone childhood with friends who, since they're fucking squirrels, have been dead for decades. A man who only lives in dreams now. All while listening to a child sing about this old man's head injury and his inability to wake up. Jesus Christ, kid's shit can be fucking morbid. See you in two.

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