Category Archives: Things I Like

Naptime Chronicles: Leaving for the Hospital

A female road runner runs down a road at dusk at Independence Pass.

“There I am jogging down the road. Not just jogging — running. It’s freedom. I must be well over a mile in. I’m feeling great. I haven’t exercised in the past nine months of pregnancy due to bed rest, and I can’t believe my legs aren’t even sore. I’m hardly out of breath! I could go on for miles like this! I look down and see brand new running shoes with neon pink laces. Wow these shoes are amazing! I also see my huge pregnant belly. Wow, I’m running like a pro even though I’m nine months pregnant. Wait. That’s my bare pregnant belly staring back at me. Crap. I’m running down the road, like a pro, in my amazing shoes, nine months pregnant, and totally naked! Oh shit. I turn around. Luckily, no one is around to see this spectacle. Maybe I can make it home before anyone sees me. But wait, I’m not moving any more. I’m running in place, completely suspended. Now there is a couple jogging towards me. And now a car is pulling up behind me, too! This is mortifying.”

— The wife, dreaming, before suddenly waking up to her water breaking.

It was four in the morning. Less than five hours later, at 8:55 AM, our son entered the world. Most of that five hours was spent at home arguing over what time to leave for the hospital. The wife had this entire birth plan of laboring at home all day, and she wasn’t just sticking to it, she was militia-style enforcing it.

She says she has to act like that with me when I get like the way I get with things.

I have no idea what she means.

The wife announces her water has broken. It’s 4AM. I bolt awake from a dead sleep. You ain’t gotta rustle me awake. I can go from benzos to Red Bulls in seconds flat.

I immediately jumped up, grabbed the dog who sleeps in bed with us, carried her one-armed down the stairs, using my other arm to scoop up the hospital bags, and swiftly secured her in the dining room area. I did this without words, automatically, as though it were some kind of tornado safety drill. I have no idea why I did this, but the important thing was THE DOG IS SECURED, for reasons unknown.

I packed the car Tetris-style, automatically dressed myself in my outfit that I had carefully chosen weeks earlier, robo-called our families, forced down sustenance (err — I mean, cereal), and double-checked the security of the dog, our harmless fifteen pound poodle/beagle mix. She panted and quivered a little, nervously. The wife says I made her like this, a total weirdo, like me.

Whatever. THE DOG IS STILL SECURED (for reasons still unknown.)

ALL SYSTEMS ARE A GO.

Meanwhile, the wife is upstairs, half-casually packing her hospital bag and half folding some laundry, suggesting we take the dog for a walk.

Uhhh. The dog is already secured defcon five. So I made an alternate suggestion.

“Let’s call the doctor right now,” I said, with more firmness than fear in my voice, at least I like to think so.

“Calm down,” the wife said. I guess she heard more fear. “We have hours. I don’t even have contractions yet. I’ll call the doctor in a little bit.”

“Nope. We’re going to the hospital soon. Call now.”

“You didn’t read any of the baby books I wanted you to read, so now you’re freaking out because you have no idea how it works,” the wife lectured. “We have hours to go. I want to labor at home for awhile.”

I don’t know what she’s talking about. I did so read the books.

Well, no. I didn’t. I read something better, in fact. I read THE INTERNET.

Alright, I had to do some flash back now. Think. Think. What did I learn during all those birthing classes she dragged me to?

The wife has this new-agey hippy-dippy side — a side that likes yoga and meditation — and is open to trying to new things and new ideas. Despite her trying to get me to “come to yoga” with her for the last seven years of our relationship, I’m much happier being close minded and stiff in my lower back.

So when she had signed us up for something called a “comfort measures in birthing” class, I assumed it was just another standard birthing class through the hospital. That class had been an eight-hour marathon in which the fairy tale band-aid of where babies come from was ripped off — ripped directly off my eyeballs.

I didn’t know what a comfort measures class meant, except that the wife described it as a way to learn some all natural pain-coping mechanisms for birth. I assumed it was another band-aid to rip off, perhaps in gentler, all-natural way.

I also assumed the class was at the hospital, perhaps taught by the same burly war-storied nurse who had taught the last class, a woman who had described in great detail her experiences of pushing out three ten-pound babies. She didn’t just rip the band-aid off; she tightened the tourniquet, handed you a stick to bite down on, pulled out the amputation knife, and took off the whole limb. That’s a metaphorical way of saying that I learned the baby isn’t the only thing that comes out during birth.

Still, I like this methodology. I prefer this. Give me the amputation knife, plunge it directly into my chest. Give it to me. I can take it. The wife, on the other hand, prefers something called “comfort measures.” Those words again — and whatever they meant, were not taking place at the hospital or coming from the 1800s-era surgical nurse.

“Oh, the class is at somebody’s house,” the wife said, casually dropping this detail during breakfast, not realizing she had just spoken the most terrifying sentence in the course of humanity, even more so than “we’re going to a potluck dinner.”

“Whose house?” I asked cautiously.

“Oh you know, the doula’s house,” she said.

The wife had hired a doula to assist her during childbirth. It’s a non-medical professional woman who sort of plays a personal coaching role, providing comforting energy and experience. Basically it’s the opposite of me, who will be providing nervous pacing, nonsensical murmurings to self, and glasses of ice water, as needed.

So there we were a few hours later, sitting in a “share circle,” cross-legged in somebody’s house, with three other couples, birth balls, aromatherapy candles, and the doula — a small-framed, kindly-voiced woman whom you might mistake for a kindergarten teacher, if not for arm-sleeve tattoo and glint in the eye. It’s a glint that you’ll go over and over again in your mind, trying to figure out what it says, but whatever it says, you instinctively know not to cross it.

As for the other couples: there were the doctor-distrusting, home-birthing hardcore-ists. There were the neurotic hand-wringy couple who were overdressed — maybe they just got off work — but you get the sense they always dressed like that. Then there were the bubbly couple who looked like you might have run into them at the tiki-themed country bar in your old hometown. They were the ringers. That’s the only way I can explain them.

So what exactly are “comfort measures?” Well, I can tell you they are measures that would not comfort me. We learned techniques in little workshops, like holding a comb in one’s hands at certain pressure points, running a tasseled scarf along the body, or breathing in lavender oils. If I’m ever in pain, I can tell you holding a comb in my hand is not going to do shit. But the wife is open to all ideas, so she laid on the floor and I ran the tasseled scarf along her body, and the doula came over to correct my motion to a “massaging ocean-like” motion, and I listened because I wasn’t about to cross her.

GAH. WHAT DOES ANY OF THAT HAVE TO DO WITH REAL LIFE. WHAT THE HELL DO WE EVEN DO. HOW DO ANY OF US EVEN MAKE IT INTO THIS WORLD ALIVE.

Note: I’m currently over twelve-hundred words and three pages into describing leaving for the hospital. This is how the wife describes it, from her point of view:

1. We ate breakfast, showered, and packed up the car.
2. I was well aware of the time and we got to the hospital exactly at 7 AM.

She also sometimes tacks on number 3 — that I totally drove the wrong way to hospital, taking the way out of the neighborhood that entails driving over multiple speed bumps.

The next part of the story — the birth story is far less dramatic and embellished — because by now I’d taken a freaking Xanax to calm the fuck down. But it’s also a story that needs no drama or embellishments — it is simply the greatest moment of my life. But I’ll tell more, next naptime.

Naptime Chronicles: How to Start Writing Again

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I’ve got nearly a year of parenting under my belt. The kid is ten months old. I thought I’d write about this life experience all of the time, but writing took a back seat. Part of it has been the anti-anxiety meds I got on after my mom died. I enjoy the silence more than I would like. The silence has been a gift. I don’t hear the crazy thoughts, but I also struggle to hear anything at all. The words don’t come to me as easily. They don’t string into sentences which string into paragraphs as effortlessly. I don’t have that constant narrator going off in my head. And like I said, I enjoy the silence more than I would like.

That’s the part that also sucks.

I’d also spent some time trying to get my work out there, trying to get an agent for a manuscript I have. I got a couple really encouraging bites, and then after several months of waiting, I got turned down by each of them. After a bad break-up and rejection, it’s hard to get back into dating again.

I may not be ready to start dating again, but perhaps I’m ready to fill out my online profile. I like walks on the beach and puppies and staring directly into sun until my cornea bleeds. I have, in fact, used that line in an actual dating profile. No one ever responded. I wonder why. I’m so good-looking.

Ah, I also lived through the most transformative and exhilarating year of my life in having a son. I’ve been a bit busy.

That part rules.

Not writing is a dull and constant ache. That I can still feel the ache is a good thing. So here I am. I’ve been contemplating just opening the flood gates and writing about the year all at once. Today is a good place to start. Now is a good time to start.

Why now? Because the kid is napping and I’m just gonna see how much I can pound out in whatever precious minutes of alone time the Gods decide to grant me.

I’ve learned a lot about life in the past year. I’ve always thought you could learn about the world by either traveling or reading. Since I hate leaving too far from my little hole in the earth, I’ve always been an avid reader to make up for it. Let’s add parenting to the third way of learning about the world.

Traveler, reader, parent. They have a lot in common. They enlighten us and tire us in the same ways. Getting home from a long trip, finishing the last page of a book, or FINALLY getting the baby down for a nap finally exhausts us and pleases us in just the same way.

Whenever life begins to feel small, it’s good to take a car ride somewhere on an open road. Or to the library to grab a good book. And I guess that’s why the wife and I had decided to have a kid. Our lives had begun to feel small in a way that an ocean trip couldn’t fix that one summer. It had rained every day on that trip, and outwardly we chalked our glumness up to that.

Six months later the wife found out she was pregnant. Two days after that, my mom died.

Death also has a way of opening up the world for you, except in a wholly cosmic, core-of-the-earth-splitting, gravity-fucking sort of way. Life will become so overwhelmingly large that you find yourself staring into the white hot center of it. Stare long enough and you’ll go blind. Stare even longer and you’ll see life is nothing of importance, never was, never is, forever and ever, amen.

And maybe that’s true.

Deep down inside, it is true.

You’ve got to come back down from all that though. You’ve got to ground yourself from all that. I did six months of grief therapy. Lady told me when I was feeling like that to go stand outside barefoot in the grass. The ground. I don’t what else to say except that the ground is a very important place to be.

I’m thinking maybe I’ll just stay. Besides, there’s nothing else better and the weather is nice most days than not.

I’ll stay here and I’ll raise my son, I’ll love my wife, and we’ll all take the dog on family walks. It’s easy get stoned on this blissfulness. And it’s hard to write while being so stoned on happiness and peace. There isn’t much exciting happening. Yesterday, the baby ate blueberries. The dog ate a foam ball. We don’t think either ingested very much however. Both spit the little pieces out everywhere, and it was an annoying mess to clean up.

But if I’m going to properly chronicle the year, I should start at the beginning, which was roughly four-o-clock in the morning, last July, when the wife sat up in bed and announced her water broke. Except I’ve got to end here for now. The Gods have deemed my time is up, nap-wise.

The Wife Almost Divorced Me For Buying This

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The wife almost divorced me for buying this, and by that you know I mean it’s yard sale season once again.

It’s a twenty-five-year-old cat food container that was filthy and covered in dust and soot when I picked it up off the ground at the yard sale we were at. So yeah, I admit it looked like a dirty piece of trash, since, well, that’s exactly it was. But it was only a quarter.

The wife was just like:
No.

But my mind was made up. I am totally buying this twenty-five-year old cat food container because it rules and will make an awesome coin bank. I’ve going to save all my coins in it and get rich and have a million dollars probably.

So if you’ve read this blog for a while, you pretty much know that my wife is the chillest person ever. She lets me do my thing and doesn’t mind all the things I collect. But things covered in dirt is where she draws the line. The wife couldn’t see past the dirt and grime on the thing, so she had a little meltdown about me buying and collecting trash and acting like the baby was going to be somehow traumatized by having a dirty cat food container lying around the house.

I still came home with it, cleaned it up, pointed out that this thing goes for $20 on eBay, and said I would write a blog post about it just to show her how everyone will agree with me that it rules.

This isn’t a blog post. This is an argument settler.

The Worst Ninja Turtles Things I Am Hoarding

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I have an awesome Ninja Turtles collection. But sometimes it is not awesome. Because some of these things are trash.

Like this. This dirty half-Santa Claus Raphael.

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What is this? Is it a half Santa, half Turtle? Where is the rest of it? Where is the beard, the hat? I do not have the answers to this, and yet I BOUGHT THIS.

The eye mask doesn’t even fit right. One eye is severely yellowed. The whole stuffed animal is severely yellowed. And somewhat brown. The tag looks like it was chewed off by a feral child.

Side note: The first time I ever used the word “feral” in a sentence, I didn’t quite understand what it meant, and so I used it to describe a squirrel. As in, the tag looks like it was chewed off by a feral squirrel.

The response I got was, “aren’t all squirrels feral?”

Whatever. I’m sure there are some out there who live in civilized colonies.

Then there’s this. This doesn’t even belong to me.

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It’s 12″ inch single of Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme, from the movie soundtrack. No one should own this for the following reasons:

1. No one knows this is even a real song in the movie.
2. No one knows this is even a real group with other real songs.

And also, like I said, this isn’t even mine. I’m just hoarding it. It belongs to my friend, and I was like dude, I need that. So he lent it to me for display in my collection, like it’s the on-loan Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian, only downgrade that by about six million.

Then I just have like, actual trash, too.

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I consumed all of these products and when I was finished I did not throw them away. I put them in my basement on the shelf. The wife doesn’t even know I did this. Until she reads this sentence. Hi honey.

I didn’t even buy that soda. The guy at the flooring store offered us sodas when we were looking at laminate, and I took one, drank it, left the the store with the empty can and saved it. That minor detail somehow makes it even worse.

No hoard is complete without a rotting pile of crappy VHS tapes.

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….Or the random box of Band-Aids.

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…Or the stash of Valentines.

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…or the four sealed boxes of mac & cheese.

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Here’s another thing no one should own:

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An actual toy from the Turtles III movie. The movie is so half-assed that it doesn’t even have a proper name. You can see the box art sort of struggles with this concept by calling it both Movie III and Turtle III Movie. For the DVD release, they gave it a subtitle of Turtles in Time, but that’s neither here nor there.

I found this at the flea market:

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Oh look, a decomposing partially melted candle of Raphael, which I originally mistook for a hardened gob of Play-Doh at the bottom of a box next to a dustbunny and hairpin. Sure, I’ll give you fifty cents for this.

Finally, how about this:

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Yay, a flash gun with a visibly corroding thirty-year-old battery leaking acid. Yay, lead poisoning.

Yay, hoarding.

Yay.

Just Sayin.

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Me and my kid have matching guinea pig shirts and cheeseburger hats.