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.