It’s Not Homework, It’s Recess

I realized the other night, as I changed my shirt for the fourth time, that life had officially become a triage situation for me. It’s ridiculous that even my hobbies now are like an E.R. after a tornado.

I have been blessed with just enough self-awareness to feel like a numbskull most of the time. Looking at them objectively, I know that none of my problems are real problems, but that never stops them from driving me to the brink of madness as if they were chronic medical conditions. It is only a matter of time before I forget myself and let this conversation happen in an unguarded moment with some friend of mine:

HIM: Jim, my responsibilities have me at the end of my rope. So many pressures… do you ever feel as though your to-do list has grown so heavy that it might crush you, grinding your very bones to a fine meal?

ME: Oh, tell me about it! I just looked in my backpack this afternoon and realized the reason it’s giving me a spinal injury is because I’ve got thirty-one frickin’ unread comics piled up in there from the last month. And so I’m looking through them, right?, and there’s just no end in sight! The whole stack is more cumulative than a semester of algebra. I’m about to read Guardians of the Galaxy from this week, and then I realize, no can do: I still haven’t read War of Kings or whatever Kingbreaker is, so I have to do that first. I’m literally six issues behind on Fables, not to mention Invincible, which if I even decide to keep reading it means buying an Astonishing Wolf-Man too. I’m so far behind on Punisher: War Journal that I accidentally started reading them out of order. I couldn’t even listen to the iFanboy podcast this week because I still need to read nine books before I’m caught up on what they talk about. So now it’s started a podcast pileup too. And they just keep coming. I feel like Sisyphus over here!

HIM: I have to fly to Belgium Monday to prepare and deliver a 4-hour presentation that determines whether or not my job gets eliminated.

ME: Oh! That is also bad.

HIM: If I keep my job, the company is moving my family to Antwerp. Unless my wife leaves me, we have to sell or store all of our belongings by March.

ME: Oy, don’t get me started on storage. I have so many long boxes full of Transformers comics that–

HIM: [never-ending barrage of punches]

I try with every good instinct I have to keep this conversation from ever happening, but it’s a real possibility. I do regularly think, “Agh, God, I have so much to do,” and when I think that I am thinking entirely of my Tivo, my Netflix queue, and the brick of colored paper in my backpack. My grandfather lived through the Depression; if he were alive to read these words, he would come over and put his workboot up my ass just to make sure I had some man in me for a few moments of my life.

But still.

Everything in my hypothetical kvetch above is true. I am in fact 30+ issues behind on my comics somehow. I keep buying them like clockwork every Wednesday, but for weeks I’ve been sneaking a peek at the PoW show notes on Sunday mornings, reading whatever was discussed on the show, and filing the rest for later the way you do with your most despised homework assignment. Triage. Last week it finally came due; I Kill Giants was the iFanboy pick, and I was four issues behind, not to mention Fables and Invincible. I had let it all get away from me. I shook my head at my stack, thinking, “How did I allow it to get this bad again?” like Oprah looking in a mirror. “My God, let’s just torch it for the insurance money and start a new life somewhere.”

Then came the Night of the Many Shirts.

One day, dear reader, you may find yourself in a long-term relationship. There may come a day in that relationship when your partner turns to you and says, “Honey Lumpkins, I want to have some kids,” while you are still inclined to stay childless. If that day comes, my friend, you just send your partner over to me. I’ve only been at it a year or so, but I’ve already accumulated some stories that will keep you childless for decades. Bill Cosby doesn’t write about this s***.

The other night, my little female clone had a serious malfunction and decided that, for the foreseeable future, she would not be accepting any more food. Unfortunately, by the time she had reached this conclusion, her mother and I had input quite a bit of food indeed. As a result, the child began an epic streak of vomiting that poets will try to sing about without gagging for generations to come. My beloved baby girl– who, I hasten to add, I would not trade for anything– waited until 1:00 a.m. or so before beginning to lose her guts roughly every twenty minutes. We cleaned her up and changed her sheets as nobly as we could, thinking that each time would be the last, only to find ourselves in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day again right as we were drifting back to sleep.

The thing about sheets is this: when shopping for them, you never think, “I need to have enough of these on hand to change them forty-five times in a night.”

And so it came to pass that we had a very sick kid and nowhere whatsoever to put her to sleep, all her sheets having been bepuked. What do you do in these circumstances? Well, if you are me, and so exhausted you fear that you might die in a high-speed eyelid crash, you grab half a dozen t-shirts and sleep sitting up, holding your kid. Every half hour or so, when she throws up all over you, you simply stand up in your sleep, change your t-shirt, pick the baby back up, and go back to “sleep.” You will do this all night long, and at 2:30 it will seem like the most brilliant idea you have ever had. The laundry will correct this misconception in the morning.

I was in the middle of my 3:30 a.m. shirt change when my eyes fell upon my stack of comics, and my teeth instinctively gritted. It occurred to me, in my semiconscious state, that being covered in vomit every twenty minutes or so no longer bothered me in the slightest, but being behind on Ghost Rider was more irritating than an audit. Clearly, my compass had been smashed.

Later that week, as the baby’s sickness continued day after day after BLEEEEEAAAAAH and I got a taste of what actual problems are, I reached my sleep-deprived emotional limit. I needed a break before I broke. And without even really thinking about it, I went straight to my backpack and pulled out a comic book. The Wii and the web and the television never got a second glance; when the time came for mental comfort food, my “chore” was the first place I turned.

“Oh yeah,” I thought. “I love these.”

So this week, as you find yourself at your shop staring at your 47-book pull list and thinking about Final Crisis or Dark Reign like some kind of infernal accounting project sent to torment you, remember that you’re (theoretically) in that shop because you love it. It may be time to drop some books; it may be time to try something new; but in the end, buying comics is something relatively few people actually do, so if you’re one of those people it’s obviously special to you on some level that you hopefully understand better than I did. It’s not the chore. It’s the break.


Jim Mroczkowski is sort of hoping to replace “Do I have to spell it out for you?” with “Does a baby have to puke on you?” in the lexicon, but that’s probably because he hasn’t caught up on his sleep yet. He’s out there on Twitter and, which actually is kind of a chore.


  1. if he were alive to read these words, he would come over and put his workboot up my ass just to make sure I had some man in me for a few moments of my life.

    Probably one of the best lines ever written on this site.  I hope to use this some day in conversation.

    My fiance always gives me a hard time when I complain about not having enough time to do things because I complain about not having a enough time to consume media.  It’s definitely something you try to be concious of becase, at least I’m in a place where I can complain about it.  Some aren’t as lucky. 

    This was a great piece.  Well done Jimski!


  2. Filthy. 

  3. Infinite life points for the Camus Reference, Jimski. Score one for philosophy. I do love it when my exisitenttial spirit is feed. Keep rolling that rock, brother.

  4. I know just how you feel. I haven’t been able to listen to an iFanboy podcast since early December. I am still working on reading through all of the comics I haven’t read from back in November. I will get caught up one of these says.

  5. This is one of my favorite articles I’ve read on iFanboy.

  6. I will be childless forever. In fact, as soon as I get my health insurance situation decrypted, I’m getting a vasectomy.


  7. True words of wisdom.  Oh, and love that you called your child a female clone, just don’t lace her skeleton with adamantium or anything crazy like that

  8. Great article.

  9. ME: “‘Syphilis’? Why would Jim feel like Syphilis?”


    (Twenty minutes pass.)


    ME: “Oh, Sisyphus! I get it!”

  10. I totally get what it feels like to look at a stackof books and just sigh, or look at the accumulation of shows i’ve DVR’d and think, When the heck am I gonna watch all these?  But the old stand by’s are good and there is no other place I would go for a mental break. 

    You probobly won’t forget the night of vomit for as long as you live either.

  11. "make sure I had some man in me for a few moments of my life" – actually had me thinking quite differently.. *shudder*  😉 

    aside from that this reminded me of the commendment to myself over the weekend, having bought no more than $10 worth of books each week for some time now. then i realized i was still spending $520 a year on BOOKS?!? how did this happen?!

  12. great article!!

  13. That sort of reminds me that one of the people in the shop last week asked my boygfriend if he read all the comics he gets in one day.

  14. This article hits so eerily close home…I have to show it to friends who I HAVE had jim’s mock conversation with…sigh…pitiful

  15. I had half a longbox full of stuff I hadn’t read.  I would find myself buying 15 books on Wednesday and being able to read maybe 4 or 5 of them because I was so behind.  I started going to the shop on Thursday, then Friday, then Saturday…I would buy books and not even read them.  I felt so daunted by the stack.  Then one day I just decided to start reading them to see how much of a chunk I could take out of the stack.  I forgot how this wasn’t work, but fun.  I’m still finishing up the stack, but last week I was able to read all my books on Wednesday.  It felt great!

  16. Best friggin column yet Jimski–you just crack me up. The workboot/man in me line is gold…

  17. We’ve already talked about your fun dad time lately, so I’m not going to commiserate with you here. On the reading front… well I’m sorry to be unsympathetic, but seriously dude, be pickier and buy less. You have a child to support, surely it’s a waste of money to buy more stuff than you have time to read?

    This is something that I’ve noticed all of the male iFanboy’s doing and I’ve tried to understand it, but I think you’re all nuts. Why buy 30+ comics a week, when there’s no time to read them? Be more selective about your reading so that it can be fun again. 

  18. I was a vomitty baby too.  My parents could follow the evidence to wherever I was hiding.  I’m sure they could commiscerate with you, but me? I feel for the kid. Vomitting, even on the comfort of a daddy sucks.  Hope she feels better, but if not? Bathroom floors are very nice.