Monday, October 29, 2007

The one that goes...

You kids got your ears on? That's CB lingo. It will be completely obsolete by the time I get to explain it to you. We'll all be talking on cellphones the size of nickels. On the moon. My point is that you're growing ears, four of them (so damn many), so you can officially hear, which means you can officially begin tuning me out as you will no doubt do for many, many years. Frankly, the sooner the better, once you stop using the bathroom in your pants I'm kind of out of advice.

So many people have been telling me what it will be like once you two show up, how much it will change not just my schedule, or my life, but my perspective. It's like being told that you're going to have a lobotomy and the people telling you it's going to be fine are the ones with stitch marks across their skull. I don't doubt them. The fact is, a lot of my friend's are different since they had kids, and to be honest, I liked them better before.

Now, human beings are notoriously awful estimators when it comes to what will and won't make them happy. This is the only reason anyone owns ferrets. Studies show that many things we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies (ferrets) turn out to be not so bad, and things that we pine away for tend not to be so great. The common mistake is assuming that we know ourselves. I certainly like to think I know myself, but that's largely because I can't possibly claim to know anything else.

What I'm really afraid of is that they're all right. That you're going to be amazing, the best thing to ever happen to me, and that I'll anxiously take up the job of being your father as opposed to being me. From where I'm sitting, that just doesn't sound right. I'm supposed to generate my own happiness by dunking basketballs and writing books, not get it by proxy from seeing you in matching outfits (and believe me, your mom is stocking up on matching outfits). It's the idea that all the things that are important to me will become secondary. I'll forget them or put them aside until one day you stop holding my hand and calling me daddy and start locking your room with a deadbolt and calling me Hitler and I realize that I'm old, bald, and I forgot to hitchhike through South America. If you don't think this really happens I invite you to visit a Harley dealership on a weekend. Lots of bald guys named Hitler looking for bikes.

Someday you'll hear a song that you love, and you'll have no idea what it is or who it's by. You'll try to explain it, you'll use non-existent words like da, dee, and dum and no matter how you put them together the people you tell will have no idea what you're talking about. It's one of the few downsides to having ears (along with John Tesh). But for all they can do, there's some things that words can't handle. You can't explain a guitar solo, people have to hear for themselves. I've heard every variation on how I'll feel when you two escape that weird little snow globe where you're floating around, but until it happens it all just sounds like a lot of da's, dee's, and dum's. I'm sure when you show up I'll finally hear what everyone has been talking about. I probably won't even miss my old tunes.

And that's exactly what I'm afraid of.

Novel - Into double digits
Dunking - Wk3
French - Unit 2

Friday, October 26, 2007


From first grade through, like, yesterday, a period covering everything from finger painting through medical school, your mother has literally been a perfect 4.0 student. We're talking wheelbarrow of awards, chief resident, someone please stop her, type overachiever. Given that, I now feel stupid for thinking she would produce anything other than twins. Really, I'm lucky there's not going to be a litter of you. I was aware of the sense of inferiority and self loathing that came with marrying a Type A wonderbrain, and frankly, I'm cool with it. I just didn't know her competitive spirit extended to her ovaries. Apparently all her body parts are strivers.

Unfortunately for me, it looks like you're a pair of gunners yourselves. Turns out, the fact that there's two of you means that you're going to graduate the womb early. If you were boys I might have some faith that my lazy DNA would more than counteract this, but since you're shaping up as girls I think we have to discount my contribution (thank god) and prepare for not only an early arrival, but the possibility that you'll come out doing differential equations faster than I can calculate the tip on a ten dollar check. I've been told I now have almost one month less than I thought in which to live out my meager dreams. This is going to call for some changes.

French is going to be a problem. I can finish my course ahead of your new due date, but to be honest, when it's over it's unlikely that I could navigate my way down a French street unless it contained nothing but cars, horses, and numbers under thirty. This seems like a limited vocabulary with which to try to raise you bilingually. A friend in Boulder tells me they start teaching foreign languages (including Mandarin!) in first grade. Perhaps your school will offer such things while you're still young and sponge brained. Or we'll just send you to live with these other people. Either way, I'll finish out the course, but I think we have to take 'learning' a foreign language off the table.

And we're going to have to increase novel production. Here's how the chapter a week is going. By Thursday I usually have like four paragraphs. Then by Saturday I have a chapter. Clearly there are some days at the beginning of the week that aren't pulling their weight, so we're going to try to wring a chapter out of Wednesday and another out of Sunday. At that rate I will successfully complete the world's worst book before you're born. See, I can do exceptional things too.

If I had any doubt about how impossible these things would become after you two made the scene it's gone now. In addition to at least 1000 people giving me some variation on the line 'a pair of twins are four times the work' I've somehow ended up nursing that kitten I mentioned finding right after you two made yourselves known. I took it to the shelter, but they said they'd have to kill it because they don't have the manpower to bottle feed it. As I previously mentioned I have a soft spot for small furry animals, so guess who's warming milk and feeding it to a little poop machine every few hours. I have no idea why they bother giving high school students bags of sugar and lectures about birth control. If someone had given me a kitten to nurse and then told me that babies are even harder I wouldn't have had anything more than a pen pal before I was 25. In fact, remind me to have you girls nurse kittens right about the time you hit puberty.

Novel - Double time!
Dunking - Wk 2 complete
French - Lowering expectations (don't worry, I've done this before)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

That Would Explain All The Barfing

You know what would be funny? What if there was a guy who was on the fence about having kids, but his wife got pregnant just before their honeymoon, and rather than being mature and properly preparing himself to be a father he started desperately trying to dunk a basketball because somehow that would keep him young and free forever? And then, what if that guy and his wife went to one ultrasound and they took a picture of their baby which he named Bear, a picture he still has, a picture of Bear and Bear alone, but then a month or so later they went back and took another picture and it turned out that little Bear was in fact, not alone, but had been hiding an identical cohort the entire time?

Actually, I'm not sure it's that funny, but clearly you two thought it would be hilarious. So allow me to start all over, the way we apparently should have started in the first place.


And, Hello.

Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, I'd like to point out that one of you is clearly lost. Your mom and I, we have no twins in our family history and we didn't use fertility drugs (at least I don't think so, but you have to admit that things are getting pretty damned suspicious). So, one of you is in the wrong uterus. You work this out among yourselves and as soon as you know who goes where we'll work on getting this straightened out.

Until then, fetus number two, welcome. Obviously, you're going to need a catchier fetus name, and going from that same list of awesome but maternally rejected names that we got Bear from, that makes you Danger. Danger and Bear. Danger Bear. You're like a superhero that fights sleep. Apparently you're both also girls, or at least that's the current theory based on the angle of some bone you're both making, so expect your real names to be slightly less awesome. Of course, before you start thinking about prom dresses, please bear in mind that this guess comes from the same people who thought there was only one of you. Who knows what we find on the next visit.

Now, the cheapskate in me feels like any time you can get something 2 for 1 you've got to jump at it. And if putting diapers behind me the first time means I've put them behind me for the last time, then I'm all for it. That said, I was feeling like I'd be lucky to survive one of you. Now you come at me with the double team, I'm feeling a little shaky. When I got home from getting the news about you two I found an abandoned kitten under the porch, and if my efforts to feed this thing a bottle are any indication you're both going to have to get a lot of your nutrition off your feet. Think about that while decide if you want to pull any more stunts.

Bottom line, the nine months were not just for you. We, meaning I, need a long lead in to get the head screwed on straight. A little hint about you being a pair would have been nice. Then again, how often do you get to pull a prank while in utero? I kind of admire your commitment to the bit.

Seriously though, if we come back next month and there's four of you, I'm heading for Nova Scotia.

Novel - Ch9
Dunking - Wk2
French - Unit 2

Monday, October 22, 2007

Choosing Your Sexual Organs

Choosing your sex organs is one of the most important decisions you'll make while in utero, determining in an instant whether you'll spend your life waiting in absurd lines for public restrooms or being free to just pee on the side of the road. So it seems as good a time as any for the first of what will inevitably be a series of uncomfortable discussions during your lifetime which involve the words penis and vagina.

Some thoughts on being a girl. In a nutshell, women don't get to be Offensive Linemen. Men can be utterly fat, lazy, and average without anyone making the slightest mention of it, but a woman could resurrect Jesus and someone somewhere would ask, "yeah, but is she hot?" Cosmopolitan, size zero, high heels, cellulite, breast augmentation, lipstick, eyeliner, pantyhose, waxing; all burdens for which there is no male equivalent. I, for instance, have been wearing the same clothes for several days and cut my own hair with dog grooming equipment, and yet they just let me walk around. None of this is fair, but I don't expect it to change by the time you show up. If you decide to go this route, try to steer clear of my DNA when forming all your exterior structures. Use me for like, the pancreas.

Some thoughts on being a boy. The smartest boys are still incredibly stupid. I'm confident even Einstein's pals got him to try jumping his bicycle over a mailbox a time or two. That's probably how he discovered gravity. If he discovered gravity. I can't say definitively because I've had a lot of head injuries, which is the point. The list of things I've jumped, fallen, or crashed into seems to refute Darwinism all by itself. And this is all just to impress other guys. We haven't even gotten to what males will try to impress females. The bottom line is, while the demands of being a girl can be absurd, at least you're far less likely to produce a headline like "Died On Fire While Backyard Wrestling".

So those are your options. Frankly, I know neither one sounds all that great, but I suggest you still pick one or the other. Trying some of each is something you should do when you're having tapas, not building sex organs. A lot of people have asked if I have a feeling about which way you'll go. Frankly, I have no idea. If we had waited for them to get cloning dialed in like I wanted, we could know that you were going to grow up to be a gorgeous brilliant woman. As it stands, any deviation from that will be my fault. When I'm asked what I want I usually say, 'an Amy'. But, if you do decide to take after me, I'd stop at the penis.

Novel - On to Ch9
Dunking - wk2
French - Lesson 4

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Babies As Bumperstickers

I have a friend who once told me how much she hated walking through the Salt Lake City airport with her baby. It wasn't about the airport. It was the way people looked at her and assumed that because she was a young white woman with a baby she must also be a Mormon. Mormonism is a big topic for someone with no ribcage, so let's set that one aside. The point is, before you ever say word (in English or half-assed French), you'll speak volumes about whoever is holding you.

Humans are tribal. We constantly broadcast our affiliations. A Yankees hat says you like winners. A Che T-shirt says you like berets. A Sean Hannity bumpersticker says you're an asshat. Ditto with those barbed wire tattoos I warned you about. All these things cultivate a carefully assembled picture of how we want the world to see us.

And then you have a baby and it all goes down the drain. Whatever you were before doesn't matter. Suddenly, you're just the poor sap carrying a Blue's Clues backpack and pushing a stroller. It's what's inside the stroller that says everything. This is why you see babies with mohawks or crapping into Notre Dame diapers. Anything to try to get you guys on message.

Names are the obvious place to start. Between talking to a six year old and spending five hours in a police car yesterday (see what a full life I'm leading while I'm still free!) these are the names I came across: Presious, Tavory, Britney, Peyton, Skyler, and Ikea. You see what I'm saying? If we think it sends the right message about us, we'll name kids after strippers, misspelled words, or low cost Swedish furniture chains.

And you're not the only who gets a new name. Your prospective grandparents have opened discussions on how they want to be identified in the post-Bear era. Na-na, pop-pop, gam-gam? They all sound like foods for denture wearers to me, but who am I to judge. I'm thinking of going with something other than Dad myself. I'm sure it will be great the first time you call me Da-da, but how much better would it be if you called me Mr. President or Dr. Huxtable instead?

Nobody wants to be generic, not even your parents, even if that's how they'll always seem to you. And it if takes naming you Costco and making all your clothes out of grass to avoid the soul sucking SUV-driving-soccer-parent label, then Costco, prepare to wear lots of green. At least until you learn to dress yourself or file an injunction.

I should also mention that the news of your arrival is out. Lots of screaming, congratulations, etc. Several friends have attempted to reassure me that their own little Costcos are brewing and will arrive within days of you, so we'll have lots of support. It sounds good, but something tells me that none of them are going to wipe you butt or show you how to put a condom on a banana, so I'm guessing their support will be mostly moral, which everyone knows is the worst kind. For my money, your great grandmother had the best reaction, which was that she basically nodded, said she doesn't babysit, and went back to eating her dinner. I have a soft spot for people who hate babies. I'm thinking of building a shrine for the ones who can get away with saying it.

Novel - Procrastinating
Dunking - Hoping to find a program for just getting taller
French - Maybe we'll name you Jacques and you'll magically pick it up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

These Hands Are Weapons

I hear you're working on hands and feet this week. That's great, I encourage it, but I want to warn you now that you should not expect much from them. With half of my DNA, walking and using utensils may be the most you can hope for. When it comes to athletics I'm the owner of a large number of 'participant' ribbons, a concept you will probably come to understand all too soon. The thing to know now is that they don't give them out because you have exceptional coordination, aim, ability, or skill. Once I was playing catch with a friend and when I threw the ball back it went about twenty five feet right of him and hit his dog. The fact that I missed him by twenty five feet wasn't really that exceptional, it was more that I actually managed to hit something that was surprising.

On that note, I wanted to update you the athletic component of my pre-bear to-do list. I measured my vertical leap so we'll know what we're up against when it comes to dunking. As it stands my vertical is 27 inches. I was expecting a single digit number, so I was pretty excited about that. Then, just for fun I decided to look at the results of the latest NFL combine where they put prospective draftees through a battery of basic tests. The lowest vertical leap I could find was 28.5 inches. There were a few of them. That made me feel better. Then I saw that they all belonged to Offensive Lineman, and they all weighed more than 300 pounds. I'm an inch and a half short of being able to out jump a bunch of fat guys. You see why I'm telling you to temper your excitement regarding your limbs and appendages.

I figure that I need to get about six inches over the rim in order to stuff the ball in. That leaves me an extra 9.5 inches to go. The program promises 11 to 15 inches, but the program probably works best for people with enough athletic ability to play catch without hitting small animals. It may be no match for me.

Novel - On to chapter 8
Dunking - 9.5 inches to go
French - Voiture = Car

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Progress Reports

I understand that you recently made yourself some kidneys and urinated for the first time. I'd congratulate you on that, but the idea that you're already peeing on yourself seven months before you even show up seems sort of ominous to me.

Your mom is supposed to let people in on the imminence of your arrival this weekend. I'm hopeful she'll finally get the excited screams she's been after. You of course know how I feel. I'm happy, but I try to reserve the screams for sightings of spiders and Justin Timberlake. Besides, there's lots left to do.

On that front, I've been working on the book. I kind of hate writing. I think I forgot that. It's scary how long it's been since I've actually written anything new. It seems like I've been doing polishes and revisions on other things forever. Part of me that was hoping that would be enough, that maybe we could just make do with what I've already committed to paper and finance an early retirement.

The hardest thing is just making myself sit down to do it. When I first started dating your mom I'd give her a hundred dollars at the beginning of the week and unless I could turn in a certain number of pages she'd keep it. I'll try to explain to you the depth of my cheapness at a later date, but suffice to say, it was effective. Now that we have a joint account it's less so. I'm thinking of bringing some other folks on board, handing in my pages on a daily or weekly basis, and relying on fear and embarrassment to help me keep them readable and on time. In any case, I'm on it, but you growing those kidneys was a big step. I think you might be getting ahead of me.

As for the other stuff, I haven't started my dunking program yet. It's supposed to take 15 weeks to achieve my maximum vertical leap. If I start next week that puts me above the rim right about my next birthday.

On the language front, I got a piece of spam today (difficult to explain, just bear with me) that was in English, but it was off just enough that you could tell is was written by a foreigner. This really brought home how long it takes to learn a language. Knowing all the words is just the beginning. Also, I was watching a movie today and this one character starts trying to seduce another by speaking in French. The best I could translate it he said, "I also speak very good French, and you, you are ham." I don't think that's right. If it is I feel like it was a sub-par come on. Anyhow, that pretty much tells you where I'm at linguistically.

Probably a lot of rubbing and patting coming your way this weekend. Best you learn to deal with it now. It only gets worse when you make it to this side.

Novel - Ch 7
Dunking - Next week we fly
French - You, you are ham

Friday, October 5, 2007

Children, Dogs, Reason

I tend to like other people's kids about as much as I like other people's dogs, which is to say that if they've been trained not to hump my leg or lick my face, we seem to get on okay, but I don't feel a strong desire to pet or hold or fawn over them. I'd say that 90% of the time when I leave the room with someone else's child and/or dog, my overwhelming reaction is that I'm glad it lives in their house and not mine.

The thing about other people's dogs is that at least you can reason with them. With enough Pavlovian input, they'll eventually sit, heel, get you the paper, etc. Children don't seem to work that way. Maybe it's because shock collars and choke chains are off the table when it comes to child rearing. I've sat through enough tantrums on planes and in restaurants to make the thought of someone's retriever making love to my knee seem downright pleasant.

When you don't have kids, your first reaction to a kid doing something annoying is, "why don't that's kid's parents take him home and lock him in the closet." Now that you're on the way I'm having to examine the practicality of that strategy. As far as I know, closet locking is on the decline in this country, so there must be some newer, better way to deal with the madness.

From what I can see, ignoring the situation seems to be popular. We were at lunch yesterday and the adults seated around a screaming toddler just seemed to glaze over and plow ahead with their conversation. Maybe they're just numb to it. Maybe they're so sick of being at home they don't give a damn. I can't say for sure, but I think my sense of empathy for other diners is going to make this one tough to implement.

The other method deals with the time honored If this Then that scenario, i.e. if you don't shut up, then we're going to lock you in the closet. The problem here seems to be a misalignment of goals. If you've taken the child to a restaurant and what the child is screaming about is that it wants is to leave, then leaving would seem to reinforce the idea that screaming is a good way to get your parents to take you home. But if you stick it out, try to teach them a lesson, you end up torturing everyone else in order to make your point. Maybe this is that whole, it's takes a village thing.

I plan only to engage you in properly timed and formatted Lincoln / Douglas debates. The sooner you learn to effectively rebut the affirmative constructive the sooner you can get out of that closet.

Novel - Drafting Ch 7 (well, sort of)
Dunking - Still just jogging
French - Le cheval est sur le table.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Parting Gifts

I got a toaster in the mail today from Disney. I guess that was their way of saying that they liked me and my toast based presentation, just not enough to trust me with a gazillion dollar movie. It reminded me of back when game shows were popular and the contestant would just miss winning the car and the host would say, 'but we do have some nice parting gifts for you. Johnny, tell him about his new toaster!'

Anyway, we'll call this a moral victory, and the thing to learn about moral victories is that they don't pay for shit but you can use them to make bagels.

Novel - Outlining
Dunking - I can jog again!
French - Cheval = Horse

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