Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Year Review

I began being a full-time dad when Akiko was just about three months old. Karen went back to work, and I began to settle into this new position -- wildly rewarding, terribly paying (actually, I'm kept quite well, thank you very much) and strangely hard to define.  Aki's not quite verbal enough to give me my one-year performance review, but I think I can be gimlet-eyed enough for the two of us. So here it is, my self-assessment of the SAHD performance so far, and some goals for the following year:

Feeding and Cleaning: On the basics, I'm scoring pretty high. It's a rare day that The Cuteness goes too long without being changed, and though we had some rough spots in the beginning, she took to eating as well as you'd expect, being raised by foodies like us. No choking, no major diaper rashes, she's eaten a wide variety of plants and animals, and has gained the right amounts of weight in the proper periods. Grade: A

Reading and Singing: I'm going to be straightforward here. I'm not much of a singer. But I've learned to belt out my tremulous lullabies without hesitation when needed. My repertoire is more or less the same three songs over and over (and one of them I keep making up different words to, even though it's a real song and I could just learn the lyrics dammit), which is definitely sub-par. Especially in this household of singers. But when she's sleepy, or upset, I can get the job done. As for the reading, you would think this would be where I shine, but it turns out that we like very different books. I've tried (oh, how I've tried) to expose her to materials more to my taste, but just taking Ted Hughes off the shelf can cause waterworks. I try to spice up the books she likes, but she mostly just wants to flip through as fast as possible, or gnaw on the pages.
Grade: B+

Dancing and Playing: This may be my weakest area. I can sustain maybe 1/2 hour or 45 minutes max, and then I tap out. The Cuteness, meanwhile is ready to keep going. So there's a lot of "Daddy needs a few minutes to ignore you and play with his phone now, honey" that doesn't go over so well. We started out strong, but as the fall has worn out, I've turned, increasingly, to wandering around after her, and watching her largely play by herself. No good!  We're going to start the new year with some more organized playtime, including a playgroup on Wednesdays, and that should help. But definitely, improvements could be made in this area.
Grade: B-

Naps: She gets a lot of these. Too many? Hard to say. But they keep her well-rested and young looking.
Grade: A-

General Performance and Goals: This was a tough year. All the books say it will be, and it was. But we've successfully transitioned from a tiny little critter, through crawling, to walking and talking (a little). This next year is going to be about building on those skills, as well as developing some basic socialization. I'm looking forward to building vocabulary, continuing to try to expose her to more complex and interesting reading materials, and focusing on manual dexterity, as well as running and treating the cat slightly better. We're also going to shift some paradigms and try to focus on our core processes in order to create a better customer experience.
Overall Grade: B+

Friday, December 09, 2011


I didn't write today. I don't want this blog to end up being a record of my setbacks, and to be fair, I wrote for 45 minutes to an hour every other day this week, so I don't feel like I've been set too far back. But I made plans to write this morning, I set everything up, and then I woke up in the middle of the night with a bit of a stomach ache, and made that my excuse to not get up. The alarm went off, I went and turned it off and got back into bed.

I mean, I'm only a week into this thing, but already I'm nervous about it. And my expectations aren't to knock Huck Finn off the bookshelf or anything. I just want to put a readable story together, that's relatively long.

But there's that word, "readable."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A year long goal

So The Cuteness is now older than a year. A year. Some time back in my own prehistory a year was a Forever kind of time. I counted my own age in half-years and a month was a nearly endless thing, instead of slipping by like they do now. There some evidence that this isn't just me, that we all experience it. But having The Cuteness around makes it harder to let time slip away. It slows you down, literally and figuratively. She changes and changes, and all those little milestones have a way of marking time, hour to hour, week to week, month to month.

She's walking now, and talking. I like to joke that the next step is getting a cell phone and asking for car keys, but it's true that, basically until she's 20, these milestones will keep happening. Which is to say until I'm 54. Which makes me think a lot about my own writing. In the past, I tended to write in fits and bursts, sprinting, as it were. But my life isn't really like that much right now. It's more like a marathon -- a long run, punctuated by many little milestones. So it feels right that I should try to write like that.

So this is my next year: I'm going to write a novel. I've come to some kind of resting-place, poetry wise, and sitting down to write more poems at the moment doesn't feel like it would be a step forward in any way. I'm going to put out a book, soon, to punctuate the poetry-writing (have a manuscript, and an amazing designer who is working on it.) It'll be a self-published thing, but a beautiful one, and I'm very proud of the work in it. And maybe (probably) I'll get back to poetry after next year. But I'm going to put it on hold for now.

As for the novel: I've no idea what it's going to be like. I know way, way too many novelists (yeah that last one's a brag) to think that this will be anything but a long and difficult journey. And I've never tried writing prose at anything close to this length. I've only taken a few stabs at short stories, and I wouldn't say I've had much of anything like publishable success. But I'm going to give myself a year, plus some. From now, until January 1, 2013, I'll compile a lot of words all together, in a single document, on a particular subject, and I'll give myself until then to see if I can make anything readable out of it. Most likely it won't be. But who knows? I've learned a lot by watching and reading the very, very excellent writers around me. What I've learned most is that it's a matter of putting one word after the other, without fear.

I know I'm scared. I've worked on it for three days now, and even though I'm trying to give myself an hour each day to do the work, I only made it 45 minutes before giving up. But I'll sit back down tomorrow and try again.

In the meantime, The Cuteness has started walking all over the place. She doesn't like being held anymore. She figured out how to put one foot in front of the other, and nothing holds her back. Every time she falls, she gets up, re-situates herself, and starts again.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Break

When I was thirteen years old R.E.M.'s Out of Time was released, and the music video to Losing My Religion came out on MTV, which still primarily played music videos. I watched a lot of tv then, especially after school, and whenever that video came out, I made sure to pay attention. The lyrics were unlike anything I'd ever heard before. I didn't know people could write like that, or sing like that. I didn't know words could mean like that. Part of it was the way Michael Stipe half-mumbled some of them, so that I had to lean in, listening, over and over, and try to understand and make sense of things. There wasn't an internet then, so I couldn't just look the lyrics up.

The album was released in March, the video came out sometime before that, and I asked for the CD (or tape, more likely) for my birthday in June. I already had the song memorized. I loved it. That summer a guy my step-dad worked for introduced me to the entire back catalogue of REM's music, and I began collecting everything I could. That fall, I went to high school, and, as typically happens around then, I began to listen to music more seriously, and to be introduced to cool new bands by older classmates and friends -- Morrisey, The Pixies, Nirvana, U2, Pearl Jam... these bands replaced Genesis, Paul Simon, and Bon Jovi as the new group of musicians that I listened to and talked about. And all of them were something that someone else told me I absolutely had to listen to.

Except R.E.M. They were all mine. I knew about them first. And I loved them -- loved their lyrics, especially off of Life's Rich Pageant and Reckoning. I loved their melodies, the way they reinvented themselves every time. The next year Automatic For The People came out, and my mind was blown. I would spend hours in my room listening to that cd over and over again. I got the special early-edition copy, which had clear yellow plastic instead of the basic black for the cd tray. I poured over the liner notes, and put Night Swimming on repeat. For a while I had every single song, single, b-side, and radio broadcast the band ever did, and was well on my way to collecting every bootleg I could find.

After Bill Berry left the band, a lot of my enthusiasm waned. I found myself no longer tracking down all the bsides and rarities. Then Up came out, and it was... kind of a disappointment. I didn't buy Reveal. I remember when Around The Sun came out, and a guy at a party went off about how R.E.M. was a total crap band that no one cared about, and they should just quit. And I thought about how, ten or even five years earlier, I would have leapt to their defense, would have jumped all over the guy. But I found myself agreeing with him. And it made me sad. R.E.M. was my favorite band in the whole world at one time -- a time when having a favorite band in the whole world was something one could do without any sense of shame or irony. But they were mine. I loved them. And I still love them.

Which is why hearing that they've called it quits feels more or less okay. These guys rewrote rock and roll. They put poetry into their music. They wrote dense, weird, complicated things, and they got huge off of it, and had millions of fans, and sold out arenas. And they sang songs like this:

also, hearing that Michael Stipe has started doing things like this makes me feel like putting my fingers in my ears and going "la la la" whenever anyone describes them after, like, 1998.

(ps if the video link is garbage and you're reading this on facebook, you can find it on the website: http://heyitsgogi.blogspot.com)

Oh right, I have a blog

So this last week or so, The Mom has been out of town (off of the continent, actually, about 8 timezones to the right). Which has meant that I've had The Cuteness all to myself, more or less. Add to this the simultaneous facts that 1. We're moving apartments in two and a half weeks, and 2. I've been having some extremely stressful personal extended family issues that has pushed me into counseling, and it's been quite a time.

I have to say I was seriously worried about what this week would hold. How quickly, and how often would The Cuteness push me to my edge? How many times would we both break down? Would her first words be "Where the $%@# is mom?"

Truth is, it's been blessedly low-key. She's turning into a real joy to interact with. She's totally chill, and is mostly into exploring. We've gone for a few long walks, took a trip to the local zoo (otters and porcupines, not so much with larger animals). And her biggest freak-out so far was when she climbed under the giant plastic bin where we keep her toys and couldn't quite figure out how to get back out again. More cute!

The biggest deal was with the food. The Mom is still breastfeeding, which is a part of the bargain I can't really uphold. So we're doing the formula thing. But at night, she mostly wants to skip the real food dinner and has been sucking down like three times more formula than typical. Which means that she wakes up super hungry (cause milk isn't a meal for her anymore). But it's a comfort thing, I get it. So we're dealing with it for now, and she'll get mom back tomorrow night. We both will.

Oh, right, and she started walking about, with one hand on something. She circles the room like this. It's pretty awesome:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brooklyn Rail

Shameless self promotion time: I've got a review in the Brooklyn Rail that just came out. Three graphic novel memoirs: Are they true? Are they good? Does the first question matter?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

It never ends

So I’m talking with my buddy Matt the other day. Matt is also a new parent, with a child just a little older than Aki. And so he is also exhausted. And he says: “The thing they don’t tell you about parenting is how it just doesn’t ever end.”

I mean, sure, you can take breaks — get a babysitter, go to the movies. The baby goes down for naps and you can hurry up and shave or try to get, say, a blog post written. But for the last eight and a half months, even at my absolute farthest away from the babe, she’s in the back of my mind. I feel responsible for something — someone — like I never knew was possible. And it’s a pretty wrenching adjustment into the encumbered life, to be sure.

Not that long ago one of my favorite activies was to stare down a long Sunday afternoon and wonder what I was going to do with it. I’d contemplate which of several books to read, or noodle through the entrails of a poem, or just perch out on my porch with a beer, and consider my miniscule place in the universe. I’m a goddamned poet. It’s what I’m trained for. But I’m not alone. Most everyone has cherished, at some point, that kind of still-time in their lives. Maybe it’s the 5am sunrise after a Friday night out. Or the muffled solitude at the top floor of a library. But you take a breath, you note the momentary stillness, and you think “freedom.”

But I haven’t had that in eight months, and I don’t see a time where I’m likely to have that again for a while. And this is because I’m constantly on the verge of being needed. And not just needed, but NEEDED. There are barely enough hours in the day to get Aki fed (three solids, plus a couple bottles) napped, changed, socialized (have we spend time with other babies lately?) played-with (she’s learning to pass things from one hand to the other. We practice), nevermind grocery shopping (low on diapers!), house cleaning (yep, that’s a wad of cat hair in her hand), or the part-time data entry and editing I’ve actually been paid to do. And whatever it is I’m working on, I drop it all in a heartbeat as soon as I’m NEEDED again. It’s exhausting. It never ends.

On the other hand, (and how do I put this) … I’m needed. And not just needed, but NEEDED. It’s a particularly quotidian joy to be depended on like this, but it is absolutely a joy. Absolutely. And it comes fraught with the knowledge that I will always and forever be letting Aki down. Because I can’t be there for her the way she expects me to. I can’t catch her every single time she falls. I can’t immediately tell if the cry means “food now, kplsthnks” or “this teething thing sucks” or “how in God’s name do you not notice that awful smell in my pants.” But wow, is it actually very nice to be NEEDED. I have no worries about whether what I’m doing has purpose. I have, at this moment, no existential concerns.

It’ll be a joy - truly - to have free time again, when she’s older, and carving out a life that’s separate from mine, and no longer expects me to catch her every time she falls. But it’s pretty great right now when she wakes up and, looking for me, sees that I’m there and knows that everything is all right.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So I posted this a little bit ago on the facebooks, but I thought I'd also post it here (where it will go back to the facebooks, in a regressive loop that reaches nigh unto infinity, or goes at least several clicks deep).

Thought I'd also post some updates: This past weekend we took The Cuteness to my cousin's wedding in Akron, where we slept in an oat silo, and ate Chrissy Hynde's vegan food. Aki met the very, very nice chef, who gave her vegan yogurt and fresh berries (and she pulled very hard on his arm hair). She spent much of Saturday and Sunday as part of the Giant Michel Family Litter, meeting various grand-uncles, great-aunts, and second and third cousins. A grand time was had.

Then we went south for a day or so, to Columbus to visit the 'rents. We slept in Teddy Roosevelt's favorite hotel (he apparently liked the sauna. We did not try it) and we ate sausage. A large man in lederhosen picked up The Cuteness, and she pulled very hard on his mustache.

She is, as you can see in the video, making rude noises with her mouth. She's also crawling like a champ (and straight for the cat box. sigh. but slowly, so far) and trying her damnedest to stand. She can pick things up with a thumb and finger and put them in her mouth (a mixed blessing at best) and she has two little teeth poking out of her jaw, like an inverted vampire. And she likes hair. She likes to pull on it, surprisingly hard.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There Will Be Crawling

It's almost impossible to live with a young baby and not be constantly reminded about how temporary she is. I often look at her now 7 month-old face, and I look for signs of the teenager, the young woman, the adult who will one day have strong opinions about politics or writing or fashion, or something else I can't imagine. I imagine what her face will look like, longer and more defined. I picture her taking a vacation for the first time by herself, or watching storms out over the ocean, or putting in enough hours to get her pilot's license, or deciding to grow her hair down to her shoulders. I see her realizing she's been stood up, being surprised with an anniversary gift, running for city council.

We take pictures and videos of her cutest moments, and we share them when we can. We put up with her furious storms of crying, knowing as she does not, that they will pass. We watch her change every single day, and we impatiently wait for her to reach the familiar milestones -- sitting up, crawling, standing, walking, teeth, first words, first foods.

But it's easy to be in a hurry to see her do these things, to forget that our impatience to see her develop is a way of hurrying her along her own temporality. And when she crawls for the first time, well, then she'll be a crawling baby. And she'll be different than she's been. And she won't ever crawl for the first time again.

For now, she's not crawling. But she's trying. Any day she'll do it. I will be excited. Really, I will. But also a little sad.

Monday, May 09, 2011

We're into feeding now.

Oh bloggy-blog. How I ignore you. You're like the cat — I got you when I was young and fresh-faced, and excited about our future, and now that I have something better, it can feel like I have forgotten you. But I still take care of the cat, and when she crawls onto my stomach in the middle of the night and stares pointedly at my no-longer-sleeping face, purring softly, I still sometimes reach up a sleep-deprived hand and give her a couple quick pats.

So here we are, and I haven't told you all the latest about the baby. Lessee... she's sitting up now, which is pretty darn cute. And she's wearing hats. We're starting her in on solid(ish) foods -- she knocked some creamed sweet potato off the table this morning, and she's spit back banana, apple sauce, yogurt and creamed peas in the last few days.

Pretty soon she's gonna be crawling. That's got me worried. But I'm sure we'll get through it. In the meantime, I'm content to let her sit, and wear hats, and only destroy the things within her immediate circle of reach. Soon as she starts crawling life is going to get a lot more interesting, for me and for the cat.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Socks, I say!

If adult socks have a habit of getting eaten by the washing machine / running off to join sock militias on the far side of the world, (a problem I've largely solved with my two-pronged approach: 1. only ever buying one kind of sock, and 2. not caring if I happen to be wearing two kinds of socks), then baby socks seem to have the opposite problem. They multiply like super-soft bunny rabbits. They bloom like tribbles. I find them under the couch, under the cat dish, on the kitchen table, in my pants pockets. They're constantly slipping off the baby's feet, which I thought was because she has babyfat sausages for calves, but now I think they're trying to run off to reproduce in some dusty corner of the house. It's the only way I can imagine we end up with so many cute little socks. And she doesn't even walk yet!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nap Resistance and why I can't get the lyrics to "Yellow Submarine" straight.

I'm a terrible singer. It's unfortunate. I'm surrounded by great musicians and singers. My wife's family are pretty professional when it comes to folk music, and my mother in law is a classically-trained pianist and composer, with perfect pitch. But me? I've been told that the note I sing is lovely, just lovely.

Still, I have a baby, and if you could hear the screaming next to me right now, it would only attest to the fact that babies don't just fall asleep by themselves. They need to be rocked back and forth, and sung to. I can handle the latter, but for the former, I'm a lost cause. This is made worse by the fact that all the science says singing to your baby is best. So what to do?

I grit my teeth, and I sing my note. And since I can't remember lyrics to save myself, I sing a new song every time the baby goes to sleep. And for some odd reason it always comes out sounding like Yellow Submarine:

"Go to sleeeeeeep / little girrrrrrrrl. // Go to sleee-eee-eeep, / sweeetie piiiiiiieee. // Sleepy sleeeeeep, / little sleeeeeeep, / sleepy giiii-ii-iirl, / beddy bye."

Did it work? Judge thusly:

Monday, March 07, 2011

Let's Boogie

So Mondays in the Baby Michel household have started to become days in which is scheduled a trip to the local YMCA. At first this meant Baby Boot Camp, until it was decided that SAHD had had enough of both the tiny little camouflage outfits (no, not really) and the painful days of recuperating as his legs, abdomen and ego took pretty heavy bruisings (seriously: women who just gave birth should not be able to be that physically active. Ugh.)

Baby Boot Camp thus gave way to Baby Boogie. What is Baby Boogie? I don't know if there's an official line, but as far as I can tell, it's the Park Slope baby version of pit-fighting. At the appointed hour (two pm.) between five and fifteen people arrive, each with a child between two months and one year of age. We all gather on a big blue mat (the field of play), in a circle. The coordinator/ref then opens the proceedings with a ritual chant that involves clapping and naming the contestants (and goes something like: "we welcome [insert baby name here] yes indeed, yes indeed, yes indeed. We welcome [baby name] yes indeed, we're so-oh glad you're here.") Then the ref dumps a big pile of implements on the floor (rattles, tambourines, egg shakers, clappers, etc) and all the kids crawl into the middle, grab something, and begin to whack everything around them with it.

Now, don't get me wrong: this is awesome (well, except for the chanting. It is an odd thing to sit in a circle and chant baby names, and it feels an awful lot like that scene in the movie "Babies" where all the San Francisco mothers start chanting "the earth is our mother and she will take care of us" and the little baby, Hattie, gets up and tries to leave). It's awesome to see a bunch of babies just crashing into each other (I mean, as much as parents will let them) for some unstructured time. And it's awesome to see the nervous parents letting the babies interact, a little unsure what will actually happen (is little Mathilda going in for a kiss or a bite? Do we interfere? Wait and see?)

And Aki loves it. She gets so excited by the bevy of babies wandering around and making noise with the noisemakers that she tries to crawl at them. Which is also awesome. Because she totally cannot crawl yet, not even a little. Then she puts her head down in frustration and begins to weep. Which is less awesome. But still! In a few months, she'll be up and about. And grabbing things. And teething.

And then, baby pit-fighting participants? Beware.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Been Thinking A Lot Today

What with my baby's birth I've been giving a lot of thought to the future. It suddenly seems like less of a remote possibility and more of an actuality — I want Aki to grow up, to be a child, and a teenager, and an adult, and (predictably enough, I'm sure) I wonder and worry about what that world is going to be like. I'm not talking about environmental apocalypse. Alien races will enslave us and purify our air with their advanced technology before things can get too bad on that front.

But I wonder, specifically about what it means to live in a world that's so super-connected, and how it's going to affect her, as a child and as an adult. The world we're in is vastly different than the one my parents grew up in. It's vastly different than the one we were in fifteen years ago. What's the world going to be like five years from now? Or thirty?

So: a tryptic of essays, for your consideration, in order of erudition.

First: a primer on Ray Kurzweil from Time Magazine, by Lev Grossman. I tend to like Grossman's writing, but Time Magazine just dumbs the hell out of everything they publish. It's a perfect read if you don't know who Kurzweil is, or what he's about, but the best part of this is the Time-bot's choice of auto-links peppered through the article. Ironically demonstrative!

Second: a refutation of Kurzweil, sort of. Brian Christian has an axe to grind, and he does it with with wit, in first-person narrative. If the first article had me looking up books by Kurzweil, this had me reconsidering my rush.

And last, an article that puts the above two, and my last post, into some perspective. you just can't beat the NYRB for erudition. If anything helps point out where we're going, it's a clear eye toward where we've been, and where we are.

The last two articles, especially, are long but worth it. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 07, 2011

On Boredom

When I think about Aki growing up, and the things that were foundational for me, one that I want most for her is time to be bored. I don’t mean that pervasive sense of purposelessness or ennui that seems to get confused with boredom, though I’m sure that she’ll have plenty of that. I mean the kind of boredom that comes from long stretches of unorganized time.

When I was young, I often had nothing to do. My periods of structured time were largely limited. I played soccer one year, baseball another, but they were both summer leagues, and we were too young to be truly competitive. During school I was allowed a few hours of entertainment: maybe half an hour of videogames or an hour of television. I had homework of course, which may have taken me an hour when I cared to do it with any real attention, which was rare. Other than that, all I had to occupy my time was my friends, my surroundings, and whatever we could find to do. I remember hours playing with G.I. Joe toys and riding bikes. I remember sitting on lawns and discovering that it only took an hour or two to find a four-leaf clover.

These days, its almost the reverse. I flit from activity to activity constantly soaking in or producing information. I spend enormous amounts of time online, reading books, magazines, journals, watching tv shows or movies, listening to the radio, to music, playing with my phone, playing games, reading reviews of things I don’t have time to watch, or read, or play.

Nowadays I end up scheduling time away from media, and it’s space I cherish— exercising without headphones, meditating, taking a walk to the grocery store with Aki and leaving my phone behind.

Human intelligence, I believe, is born out of a particular and peculiar non-computer-like ability to synthesize new information out of all that we take in. We learn by studying and repeating, but we create new things — we demonstrate and innovate our learning — by combining disparate elements to make new things that never were. This is what writers do, but it’s also what engineers and architects do. It’s what all creative people do.

But we need time to enact that synthesis. To be creative means setting aside time without input, to allow our brains to cull through what we know, and make interesting new ideas. But that seems to be something that, at the moment, we’re tempted not to give ourselves, and we’re scared to give it to our children. I worry about the pressure to raise Aki in an environment where we’re tempted to rush her from charter school to dance class to chess class to music lessons, filling every second of her day until bedtime, because we fear that otherwise she won’t be competitive.

But more than that, I worry about the toys, the games and computers and phones which already eat up so much of my day, and I want to raise her so that she has some space away from it. I want her to develop the ability to resist their temptation: to value contemplation and solace, and down-time. I worry about it for her, because I feel like I don’t get enough of it myself. And I don’t have the courage to throw out all my shiny toys, to raise Aki in a house without these things. Perhaps someday.

Also, just so this post doesn't end up entirely depressing, this afternoon she grabbed the bottle from me and shoved the nipple straight into her nose. We both looked surprised.

Friday, February 04, 2011


Well, so first, for those of you reading this on the facebooks or on rss feeds, I went ahead and redesigned the blog. Since it's not really about travel anymore, I thought the name, look, and little poem-let at the top needed changing. So there.

Okay, then. Back to SAHD-dom. This week we discovered growth spurts. Growth spurts involve more feeding and less sleeping (except for the SAHD, who just gets less of both). Luckily, GTWM (Goes To Work Mom) figured out a good solution to the Great Milk-Supply Problem Of Last Week, and now I text the exact amounts baby goes through for each feeding, so she can adjust. Hooray technology!

Growth spurts presage both physical and mental developments. In this case, she has started trying to sit up a little more, and no longer cries right off when she gets Tummy Time™. In fact, she seems to enjoy it a bit, which means we're that much closer to the dreaded crawling, in which we're going to have to figure out what to do with the cat box. By "we," I mean "me." I really don't want her to figure out anything about the cat box.

Seriously, this is the one fear that haunts my nightmares. I'm going to turn around for a minute, and suddenly find her halfway through the little cover flap, joyfully putting everything she can into her mouth. I think the reason I'm so worried is that, of all the pregnancy info that washed over us last year, the one thing that really stuck with me is that cat litter carries a bacteria that will give a pregnant woman a slight cold, and then KILL THE BABY. Aaaah! Why do we have that in the house? Because we love our cat, that's why. And we have so far failed to toilet train it.

But thankfully, we're still at least a month or two from this dreaded development. She's on her way to sitting up, which is awesome. And when she starts locomoting, well, I'll have something else to write about, won't I.

Monday, January 31, 2011

SAHD-dom, the Second Week

Well, week-two of being the SAHD begins. It's been interesting -- after a fairly uneventful second half of the week, the weekend brought a brand-new baby: up all night, and feeding all the time. I thought it might be stress from the bottle/breast switchback, but that might be my stress more than hers.

I also thought the feeding all the time had something to do with the bottle being easier to drink from (requires less work to get a similar amount, etc) than the breast. But it may actually be a growth spurt: she just went through her entire day's bottle ration, and we still have one more feeding before mom gets back. Yikes. Also she hasn't really napped today. Which sucks. Because it means taht this blog won't be spell-checked, and most of my other work for the day won't get done.

This is like the moment on the SAHD roller coaster where we crest that first big hill: it's been calm for a little while, and suddenly, I don't think it's going to be calm for a long, long time. I'll let you know later this week how that turns out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Holy Snow Day

Day three of being a Stay-At-Home-Dad (SAHD) has turned into a snow day. This means that I'm putting off plans for the mile-long walk up to the main-branch public library, and the slightly shorter walk to haul laundry to the laundromat. I was all excited to see if I could get these things done, by my lonesome, with the baby strapped to me, but adding in the trudge through snow (slippery snow!) and I'm going to call that too much for the first week of SAHD-dom. Call me a wuss, if you like.

So, day one was pretty much nonstop crying and sleeping, as we adjusted to the non-presence of mom for the bulk of daylight hours. Baby Aki held up as best as a three-month-old can, trying to smile, but then bursting into tears because she was hungry and didn't like the bottle. But she drank. Tears streamed silently down her cheeks as she did it, but she drank. Then she slept, mostly just exhausted from the crying.

Day two, we were visited by Friend, Neighbor, and Professional Baby Whisperer Georgia, who taught me the magic of warming the milk by running it under water (since la leche league said to never warm the bottle on the stove, and since all my info on baby-rearing comes from these movies I was just using milk from the fridge*) and behold! There was no crying! So the day went very smoothly, except for the fact that now that she was enjoying the milk, she was drinking a lot of it. We went through twice as much, which is to say, twice as much as K is pumping. Oops!

Soon, though. Soon, this will all be working smoothly. She'll have all the milk she needs, she'll eat it regularly, I'll have figured out how to carry both her and the laundry (or the groceries) through the mean-streets of Park Slope without running into rival mommy-gang territory, and all will be well.

Then she'll learn to crawl.

*that is to say, mother's milk. Not, like, whole milk.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Judd Apatow is Caden Cotard

So I just finally watched Funny People last night, and it struck me that Judd Apatow's movie is much more Meta than Charlie Kaufman has ever managed to achieve. I realize that I'm not necessarily saying anything new: a lot was made out of the fact that he got aging lazy sell-out millionaire comedian Adam Sandler to play aging lazy sell-out millionaire comedian George Simmons. But beyond that, with few exeptions, almost every character in the movie plays some version of themselves.

Actually, given that Jason Schwartzman's big breakout in Rushmore happened all the way back in 1998, it would have been slightly more appropriate for him to play a former child actor who made the rare transition into an adult career, but with that exception, you have characters/actors like Leo/Jonah Hill -- a talented scene-stealer looking for a big break played by a talented scene-stealer who got his break from the director who is currently directing the movie that he's in. In fact, most of the movie involves people playing either themselves or versions of their public personas to the degree that once you try sussing it all out you're liable to wonder if RZA may have actually worked at a deli. It's goofy.

Then you get to the casting of someone like Eric Bana as the handsome foil / Australian husband, which is even more meta if you've watched enough Apatow movies to remember the conversation that Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill had in Apatow's last film about the awesomeness of the movie Munich. How much did that conversation influence the casting? It makes my head hurt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


So I'm knee-deep in a whole set of New Year's resolutions which sort of snuck up on me. I haven't really done the NYRes thing for a while, and when I did do it, it was always half-hearted at best. The reason being that I figure 1) I'm pretty happy with my life, and 2) when I'm not, it's not worth waiting until the calendar changes to switch things up.

What happened is this: in October of this past year, my wife and I became embabied. She's gorgeous and we do all the typical parent things, i.e. get excited when she opens her eyes, get excited when her poop changes color, then put her down for a bit and hope she sleeps while we frantically try to clean/cook/launder/pee/pay bills/work/read all in the five spare minutes we weren't cooing over our mini-us.

It didn't take long (okay it took a while) to figure out that my general unorganized-ness just wasn't going to work for this experience. Nor was my general lack of physical well-being. Nor was my habit of having a drink to help me relax every night. All these realizations hit somewhere in December, when New Life responsibilities and Old Life habits collided into each other and fell down, dropping everything they were carrying.

So I'm in the midst of a giant life-organizing overhaul with a little help. One of the things I'd like to do is start typing here (by here I mean the website, not the facebooks, where the website auto-posts) more often. So I'm gonna. Whee! Tell your friends.

now here's a pic of the newest addition: