Sunday, April 20, 2008
It's been a weird day. Kind of like Christmas Eve would be if you knew that your presents would be wrapped in blood and have to be opened with knives. Exciting, terrifying, and slightly nauseating. I can't tell you how many times someone used the phrase 'last day of freedom' today. It's like they're seeing you off to prison and then following it up with the word 'congratulations'.
I won't lie to you. I still have mixed feelings about the whole deal. Sometimes I look around at the nursery and the baby gear and it seems like it's been here so long I can't remember what it was like without it or why I would ever have been afraid of it. And other times I feel like I've wandered into someone else's house, someone else's life. I still worry about how things will change, that your mom and I will feel less like two people in love and more like two people running a business. Scheduling, maintaining, picking up, dropping off, putting out fires, and simply being thankful for every day that the whole enterprise doesn't go under. By the time you read this, I'm sure the idea that we could ever have been anything other than the people you've smiled at, babbled to, and crapped on will seem ridiculous. But you didn't know us way back when. We were a good time duo. Swear. And I guess the fact that that might seem funny or impossible to you while being a memory to me is what scares me more than any mountain of diapers.
Nine months ago, when I found out about you two it was obvious that my life was going to change. And if I momentarily brushed this idea aside there's been no shortage of people willing to remind me. 'Just wait', followed by an evil laugh and a shake of the head seems to be one of the natural reaction of fathers faced with someone about join their ranks. And so the question that you and I have endeavored to answer in that time is just how much I could change before everything else did. How much life and making up for lost time I could pack into the days, weeks, and months that it's taken you to go from my DNA to my daughters. Could I be a novelist, a white Spud Webb, a Frenchman even?
Like most things, the answer is mixed. I managed to write a screenplay and turn it in. It will need work, but it's on the right track. I touched the bottom of Spud territory, I just couldn't carry anything up there with me. And if I were lost in France and only needed to ask about horses or airplanes, I'd probably be fine.
I guess, for me, it comes down to this: what I did or didn't do is really beside the point.
As much as I wanted to flip a switch and suddenly be capable of all sorts of things I'd never done before, there was no switch to be flipped. What progress I made was slow and deliberate. I didn't suddenly become this other person. Whatever my successes, whatever my failures, I'm still just me, the same idiot I've gotten to know all these years. The one who writes well sometimes and poorly others, who can't jump very high, and who thinks the idea that nouns and verbs have gender is ridiculous. All this time I've worried that acquiring you two would force me to lose some part of myself. But I'm not so sure it works that way anymore. I've tried to take a hammer and chainsaw to myself these last nine months, and I'm still here, pretty much the way I've always been. And to me, that's kind of comforting. So while I'm sure there's a host of things that will be different after tomorrow, if the last nine months has taught me anything, it's that maybe I won't have to be one of them. I hold out hope that I can be your dad and still a person too, and that someday, if not the by first time you read this, then by the last, that you'll get to see both.
In just a few hours you'll cease to be a pair of theoretical concepts that I can write angsty letters to, and you'll become my daughters, flesh, blood, and angst of your own. I anticipate that you will greet this reality with a great deal of screaming and crying. I will probably join you. Because while I can't wait to meet you, I'll miss these little conversations. I'm anxious to say hello, but part of me hates to have to say goodbye. Maybe that's why the Hawaiians just have the same word for both.
I don't really know what happens next, and despite all the 'just wait, you'll see,' I'm not sure anyone else does either. But if I could suggest a birthday wish in your last hours before turning zero, it would be that someday you find yourselves as excited and terrified as I am at the prospect of an unknowable future and the knowledge that you'll sort it out with the incredible people you're about to meet.
p.s. To all of you who've followed along, my sincere thanks for your kind and thoughtful words throughout the months. This wasn't ever intended to be anything more than a place to park the voices in my head. I never expected anyone to find it interesting, and never imagined how friendly, articulate, and sincere those who did could be. As much as I've enjoyed the conversation and support, I always intended for the story to end here, a picture of the person I was before I became whatever I'll become tomorrow, and I think it's best to stick with that. So Still A Person will be no more. I have, however, been convinced that even in a sea of parenting blogs, there might be a place for me. So if you find yourself interested, you're welcome to come along for the next part of the story here. I make no claims about quality or content and can only hope that the phrase 'parenting blog' will feel like an loose fit at best. But if this is where you get off, I want to say thanks again, and let you know that it's been a better ride for having had you along.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Je m'applle Kyle. Le premier chose vous direz en une autre langue est votre nom. Apres vous direz votrez nom vous fairez un cheval. Croissant. Vraiment, je ne sais pas beacoup mots en francais. Je n'apprendre rein dans le neuf mois quand vous es dans le stomach de votre mere. Mais, je desire de parle bein quelque jour. Pour maitenant, je ferai le meilleur avec le mots je connais et moi es vous parlex beacoup a voitures, le plage, et les avions. C'est difficile de parle avec mon bebes seulment en francais quand je ne connais the mots pour "please don't pee on daddy," mais j'essaye. Peut etre votre premier mots sera 'bonjour'. Je ne sais. Mais, pour maitenant, tout vous avex connaitre est je t'aime.
En denoument: epaulle, stylo, routle.
My name is Kyle. The first thing you will say inside another language is your name. After you will say your name, you do a horse. Crescent roll. Really, I don't know lots words in French. I don't to learn nothing inside the nine months when you are in your mother's stomach. But I desire of speak good any day. For now, I will do the best with the words I know and me and you speak lots at cars, the beach, and the airplanes. It's difficult to speak with my babies only in French when I don't know the words for "s'il te plait, ne pas faire pipi sur Papa," but I try. Maybe your first words will be "hello." I know not. But, for now, all you have to know is I love you.
In conclusion: shoulder, pen, kneecap.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I can touch the rim. That's 120 inches up, minus my 90 inches of reach, for a vertical leap of 30 inches. Looking back, we started with a vertical of 27 inches. I was hoping to increase that by 9.5. No dice. On the upside, I can now out jump the fattest linemen in the NFL draft (who sport a mere 28.5 inches).
To measure, I jumped at a series of tape strips on a wall outside. Over and over. At some point my neighbor came out and said, 'If you need a ladder you should just ask'. I told her I was measuring my vertical leap. She asked 'why in the hell' I would want to do that?
I started to tell her that I was afraid of becoming old and useless and feared having children would forever render me another average, boring, anonymous suburbanite, and if I was going to be all those things then I at least wanted to wait in the SUV gridlock outside my kids' pre-school and know that I, if the situation called for it, could jump over something up to 30 inches tall.
Instead, I gave the answer I always give when someone asks me about one of my more idiotic actions.
'It's for a class.'
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
This is the only picture I have or will offer you two. With your eyes not really focusing beyond a couple inches posting more would just be mean. But this was you, six days before you were born and about five days after you mom was ready for you get out. Not pictured: Her shaking you like a snowglobe and screaming 'GIVE ME BACK MY UTERUS!'
We've been project oriented lately. Filling time. It turns out there's a very small number of projects that fit your mom's current criteria. She can't really walk very far. Or stand for too long. Or sit. Or lie down. And everything makes her cry. So we took pictures. Without her head in them.
Your mom never cries, so when she gets like this I like to put her in charge of all our long standing customer service issues. Nothing gets results like someone who goes to pieces when you ask for their account number.
Tomorrow I'll get in my last stab at a dunk. Either way, I predict the results bring tears to your mother's eyes.
Novel - Fairly positive reaction so far (not counting dad who thinks it might be the most brilliant thing ever written)
Dunking - Tomorrow, we fly!
French - Even the French nursery rhymes are beyond my vocabulary level
Monday, April 14, 2008
Here's where we stand:
I've turned in my work. Until someone tells me what to do with it next, I'm sitting around.
Your mom is sitting around.
There's a lot of sitting around.
Your mom is reading about how to self induce labor and talking about buying a trampoline. She's ready.
The office is no more, replaced by a guest bedroom, eventually home to the world's greatest South African au pair. There's now a desk and a computer about five feet from our bed which has raised some issues. Apparently typing doesn't count as 'white noise'.
Most of your gear has been assembled, installed, washed, experimented with, etc. Your mom has turned on the swing and stared at it while it makes ocean noises. I may have mentioned that she's ready.
I'm beginning a week of books about baby mind control. I don't think that's technically how they describe themselves, but that's what I'm looking to get out of them.
And I'm finishing up these letters.
Novel - turned in as a screenplay
Dunking - final measurements this week
French - The new plan is to learn together
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I know that you're anxious, but we had a deal. Originally I was promised May 5th. You didn't want to miss cinco de mayo. Who would? So we kicked it around and agreed on April 21st.
Not a day sooner.
Last night, for the second time, we spent several hours in the hospital with you two threatening to jump the gun. As I was loading your mom and her little bag into the car I think we both realized how super not ready we are. I mean, we're ready. We have enough gadgetry to build a space station out of fisher price shit, but we're not ready ready. It's like having your execution scheduled and then having the guards show up weeks early with a priest and a last meal. I want the governor on the phone.
If you give me a couple weeks I think we can work wonders. I know our chit chats have gotten rared, but I've been slaving away and I managed to finish a draft and send it out. I got notes. You let me clean it up and get it off and you can poop and scream for the next three months and I won't say a word. But you screw me on this and you're grounded for at least a year. Both of you. I don't care whose idea it was. No TV. No phone. No sleepovers.
I'll do it too. Don't test me.
Novel - In revisions
Dunking - Who knows
French - Deux plus semains si vous plait.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Under no circumstances could I have gotten a basketball down, but I managed to get my whole hand over the rim and then grab onto it. A tennis ball would have been doable.
My immediate thought was that this was obviously not a 10 foot rim. I mean I haven't measured my leap in a while, but this would be a significant improvement. The friends assured me it's regulation, but I remain highly skeptical.
I think the larger point here is, what exactly is the point of all this? I mean, the novel thing, the French thing, I can see how those are mildly useful (I can discuss writing bad novels in bad French). But what exactly will I do with my new skill dunking tennis balls on below regulation basketball goals? Should this go at the bottom of my CV under 'fun facts'. I guess that would require me to make a CV. This is like telling someone you can throw a Nerf football 70 yards. The fact that you would know that about yourself actually sounds more pathetic than not being able to throw a Nerf football at all. (BTW I'm good for about 40 yards with the Nerf)
I think that for me, this was the one that was important because it really served no purpose. There's nothing to remind yourself of when you're jumping around the gym like an idiot that will make the looks you're getting from other people seem worth it. I'm not jumping to cure cancer or set a record. It's just a stupid thing I wish I could do and can't. It means absolutely nothing to anyone else anywhere else in the entire universe. And I guess I'm obsessed with the idea that my freedom to pursue stupid things that only matter to me has a shelf life of about six more weeks. When you think about it that way I probably should have chosen a better task.
Anyway, I want to believe that the issue is not that this rim is low, but that all this time I've just been jumping at nothing and that actually having the rim to go after made all the difference in the world. What I really needed was to have something to shoot for. That sounds poetic. That sounds like a life lesson. That sounds like something you guys should pay attention to. Which kind of makes me sound like a dad.
Which is why it's probably bullshit.
We're only a ladder and a tape measure from finding out.
Novel - F (out of G)
Dunking - Applicant can dunk golf balls at neighbor's house. Also, applicant can drive forklift.
French - Tetons, if you missed it in the comments. Tetons.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
And then we went to breastfeeding class.
I don't know if it would have done much for the boys, but if they sent high school girls to breastfeeding class I think we'd nip most teenage pregnancies in the bud. Here's what your mother has to look forward to. Two babies gnawing at her for up to 40 minutes, up to every hour and a half. And if she can't master feeding you at the same time then she'll pretty much just become a stationary milk dispenser. This is what they tell you in a class designed to make it sound appealing.
I wish I could say that I was listening to this and thinking how unfair it is, how much I wished I could help. I wish I could say I was thinking about anything other than how happy I am that my body produces nothing of nutritional value while I made the practice doll that they gave us do the robot. I wish I could say that. But I cannot.
It also became clear just how much of the shaft your mom got on the husband front, if that wasn't obvious already. The instructor would start to talk about breast pumps and the other dads would correct her about their features. They would ask intelligent questions about colostrum and hand expression. They knew what kind of nipples, both real and synthetic, to use when. They knew where things were on sale. I knew how to force our practice baby into the lotus position.
The other shocking news was that you're collectively expected to produce between 16 to 24 dirty diapers a day! One mom asked if she should plan on changing the babies before and then after a feeding. I thought she must be insane. The instructor suggested that sometimes it's a good idea to also change them during! Do you have no organs? Does everything just leak right through you? I could diaper a running faucet and I bet I wouldn't have to change it 24 times a day.
So, no, it doesn't quite sound like a vacation. It feels like your mother and I have been convicted of some terrible crime, but when the sentences came down I just got life while she got death by extraction. Who knew a penis was a sort of get out of jail free card? Like all young men I was once obsessed with breasts and I thought more than once how handy it would be to cut out the middle man and just have a pair of my own. Had I known the true price women pay for the ability to fondle themselves endlessly, I'd have looked on my flat bony ribcage as if it were made of diamonds.
Mystery rim tomorrow. My nipples hurt.
Novel - D (of H)
Dunking - Update tomorrow
French - I should look up the word for boob.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Usually it would go like this. I would sit down at the computer to work on work. And I would work, and then I would hate the work. And then I would become afraid of the computer and I would refuse to be in the same room with it unless someone came with me and all the lights were on. And then I would pray to things: gods, totems, cats, scientology, for the ability to string together a useful series of words. And nothing would happen.
This would go on for about 12 hours and then I would think, I should write to the kids. They're probably totally lost without my panic stricken missives about life outside their little goo globe. But then I would think, what do I tell them I've been up to? They'll be so disappointed and disillusioned that begging a keyboard to 'work with you' does not result in progress towards the goals one sets for one's self when one finds out that life as they know it is about to irrevocably change. I felt like you two were a fuse that got lit almost 8 months ago that would finally compel me to take a last stab and explode into greatness. Instead, I was a dud.
The fact that we're here talking, the three of us, should tell you that the heavens have opened and once again begun to shower me with the idiotic and inane ramblings that I depend on. I'm not saying they're good, but at least they're back. Being showered with brilliance was too much to ask. Now, instead of waking up in a pool of flop sweat and curling into a fetal position until noon, I'm sitting all alone at the computer like a big boy. And whatever else happens or doesn't, I'll have a draft of my work ready to hand in before you get here. Assuming you stick to the schedule. Which you won't. If you end up with excess mom DNA you'll be early, well dressed, and have next week's homework assignment. If you end up with extra me, I should be good until June.
Tomorrow: Breastfeeding class, and dunking on the mystery goal.
Novel: Part C (assume there's H parts)
Dunking: Mystery goal raises hopes
French: I learned the word for shoulder last week, but I've already forgotten it. Luckily no one ever discusses their shoulder.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Either way, she's now set to explode is less that two months. After that I'm predicting a mess.
We spent the weekend constructing your baby furniture and outfitting the nursery. The cribs were fairly self explanatory and I had lots of help, but consider yourself warned. I also put together your mom and I's bed and had two things labeled 'braces' left over. Every time the bed so much as creaks we look at each other and wonder whose side will collapse first, leaving that person to cushion the others fall. Ever since she crossed into mobile home territory the creaks seem to be consistently on her side. If there's one upside to the whole pregnancy, it's that she looks like a pretty comfy place to land.
Anyway, I think you'll dig your new spot. My memories of the uterus are thankfully dim, but I don't think there were curtains, so there's something to look forward to right there. If you don't want the stuffed animals I'll take them. I think I'm going to need something fuzzy to comfort me as much as you will.
I've been hesitant to write lately as my progress on everything has been so abysmal. There was a week where I didn't seem to be able to string two words together. The day I finally wrote something I didn't erase I wanted to hug strangers and small animals. I've also measured my jumping ability again, and if anything I've regressed. Apparently jumping around like an idiot really was working. It's a shame that looking like an idiot isn't more effective across the board. I'd be pretty unstoppable.
Your mom and I don't sleep very well anymore, which is unfortunate since we probably won't sleep at all once you're here. She says you guys are always wrestling in the middle of the night, hitting one another over the head with her organs the way Hulk Hogan swings a folding chair. She'll sit up, breathing like she's mid marathon and rub her belly. And then I'll come out of dream in which I have nothing more important to think about than what I'm going to have for lunch and I'll see her sitting there.
Sometimes I swear I hear ticking.
Novel - pg 24
Dunking - more cookies?
French - Le bomb
Friday, February 22, 2008
I realize that in the past, I have taken some of you for granted. I have not been one to praise you for jobs well done. No pats on the back. No stars in a column. In short, I have been a bad parent. So, here is my way of saying thank you – perhaps it’s a little too late….
Brain: I must admit that I didn’t appreciate all that you did for me. You used to be so on-the-ball – remembering where I left the car keys (and the car!) and what the person across from me had said 5 minutes ago. Now, you have become distracted by such mundane tasks and all you can do is think about one thing: babies. You wake me up at 3am thinking about babies. You bore my friends/family with constant talk of babies. You will let me do or think of nothing else and it’s beginning to be a problem. Yesterday, I put the toothpaste in my purse instead of the bathroom drawer. Monday I got in the shower with my underwear still on. Saturday I (inadvertently) rented a movie I’d seen just the week before. Aside from being forgetful, you are quite mood labile. One second I’m so euphoric and in love with everyone I want to dance around Kevin Bacon style telling the world of my happiness. The next, I’m sobbing uncontrollably because I misplaced $20. Do you see how this is becoming a problem? Please, Brain, don’t fail me completely. I still need you.
Lungs: I remember when you didn’t have to work so hard. When little feet didn’t jump up and down on you like a trampoline. I remember when I could walk across a room without feeling like I was about to collapse or could lie in bed and not worry that I would die in my sleep from lack of oxygen. I know that you continue to work hard despite having less and less room to do so. Thank you.
Heart: Once upon a time you only pumped blood for one person. Sometimes you would stretch your heart-muscle legs a little, like when I’d go for a jog or when I got surprised for my 30th birthday. But, on a normal day, you were content to just thump along. Now, you must work overtime all the time. You race even when I no longer can. I feel you working hard in my neck and in my chest and in my head – it makes me feel like I’m on a constant Red Bull high. Keep up the good work.
Breasts: I can’t decide if you are at your happiest now, or if you are sad. On the one hand, your job used to be so easy: be pretty, fill a t-shirt, and lure the husband’s attention away from ESPN. Now, you are swollen (filling the t-shirt nicely, thank you very much!) but also tender and sore. You know that you have a more important task ahead of you than you have ever had before and you are probably a little nervous: Will I be able to handle TWO babies? What if I can’t make enough milk? What if my now-gargantuan nipples get too sore to pump? What if I embarrass my master by leaking on her favorite cashmere sweater? Yes, you will certainly have more responsibility soon and the task ahead of you is daunting. But, I have faith in you and think that it is a great honor. So buck up, be happy. Great things await you!
GI tract: I must say that I greatly under-appreciated you! There was a time when you did your job so well and I didn’t pay you a bit of attention. I never heard a peep out of you and should have thanked you for your quiet resilience. Now, I’m afraid you are not so silent and charming. You make me belch like a sailor when I’ve always thought of myself as such a lady. You keep me constipated and bloated despite me drinking gallons of water and popping fiber pills by the handful. You make me hungry when I’d prefer to sleep. I know that the large baby-filled-sac in my belly is encroaching on your workspace, but please be patient and try to find a way to work around it. Stop being such a trouble-maker.
Girly Nether Regions: Like your friends the breasts, you used to be quite content with your lot in life. You just got to sort of lounge around, relaxing, waiting for occasional bursts of excitement to come your way. Now, you are both neglected (you’ve forgotten what it meant to be excited!) and abused (ANOTHER transvaginal ultrasound? ANOTHER cervical check? Really?). I’d like to tell you that things will get easier from here, but the truth is that things are about to get a whole lot harder. You’ve seen the videos on YouTube. You know what’s coming. All I can say is, I’m scared too. For the both of us.
Skin: I feel like you’ve kind of been a wallflower in the past – sitting on the sidelines while the other organs got all of the glory. But now, now is your time to shine! What other organs out there can say that they are able to expand and stretch to be 5 or 6 times their usual size? What other organs get to be pampered with daily rubbings of cocoa butter and anti-itch creams? None. I think you’re the lucky one. That being said, I’d appreciate it if you’d continue your Gumby-esque stretching for a few more months – please don’t give in to those evil demons The Stretch Marks. Please.
Body Hair (lower body, in particular): In the past, I have kept you in check. Whether shaved or waxed or lasered, I was the master of you. Honestly, I never really thought you were necessary. Well, revenge is sweet, isn’t it? Now, you get to grow unchecked as it is near impossible for me to navigate to the land below my belly – and to do so with a razor in my hand seems downright irresponsible. So, enjoy your freedom while you have it. Roam free while you can. Soon enough I’ll take the shears to you and will show you once again who is master of her domain.
Legs: You used to be so strong. You’d carry me as I ran and jumped and hiked. You frolicked with me and we were so happy. Now, you are weak and underused. Your poor little muscles have atrophied and you are angry. You’re so angry that you have decided to fight back with excruciating nighttime cramps, irritating restless legs, and never-pretty-in-skirts cankles. I can’t say that I blame you, really. But perhaps you’ll be more forgiving if you know that I too wish that I could take you out for a good romp around the neighborhood again. Please be patient. We will play again soon.
Uterus: I saved the best for last. You had been sitting idle for many, many years and now you are the MVP of this body of mine. You must feel so fortunate to get to be the temporary home of two little human beings. You’ve nurtured them from when they were just bean-size, protecting them from the cruel outside world. You, alone, have been able to watch them on a daily basis, playing with each other, jabbing each other with their feet, holding each other in wrestler poses. You have been the sole witness to their sisterly bonding, their first breaths and their wordless banter. In a way, I am jealous of what you have seen and what you have done, but more than anything I am grateful. I look forward to taking over your job in the near future, but for now, hold those babies within you for a few more weeks. Let them grow and become strong so they are ready to face the world with fully functioning little organs and miscellaneous body parts.Only your mother would tell her own brain that it is 'mood labile'.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
It wasn't always this way. Back when, I was more prone to the GRAND GESTURE. Painfully collected mix tapes, hand drawn pictures, and poetry that relied heavily on things like my exploding heart, the endless ocean, and beautiful birds, which sometimes exploded and fell in the ocean. Several restraining orders later I figured out that no matter what they say, girls would rather date that jerk who forgets their birthday than the sweet kid who makes a cake in their likeness and brings it to their door at precisely the moment they were born, even if that's 2:36 in the morning. Since then I'm been wrapping the groceries.
But tonight we skipped both Hallmark and the grocery store and gave ourselves the gift of a peek at you two. Thanks to the magic of 3D ultrasound I think we can make some predictions about your futures. Nixon, I have to be honest, you're getting the shaft in there. For seven months you've had your sister's butt or feet in your face. If you find yourself talking to a shrink about deep seated resentment someday, give that some thought. Ripley, I'm not sure you belong to us. From what I can see you're the progeny of a Chinese acrobatics team. As you know, I've always been suspicious of the conception timeline. The fact that you're flexible enough to sit around with your leg over your head and your knee in your eye socket while I can barely touch my knees or my eye socket only deepens these suspicions.
That said, you both look amazing. Your mom talked about how anxious it made her to see you on the outside. Personally, I'm really growing attached to you where you are. With all this technology we can look in anytime, but you can't make messes or ask to borrow the car. It's like having hamsters. Flexible hamsters. That sit on one another's heads.
Still, staring at your fuzzy images I admit that I felt my heart swell to the size of an ocean, soar like a bird, and then explode. I've just got smart enough not to write those kind of things down.
Novel - pg1
Dunking - I'll measure this weekend
French - Je t'aime
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Friday, February 8, 2008
Anyhoo, when I encountered stoplights I'd usually makes a series of turns, go around blocks and so forth so as to avoid just waiting them out. About 99% of the time this was slower than just sitting though the light, which I knew, but couldn't seem to make use of. Being in motion, even if it was pointless, was better than just waiting at the light. It made me feel like I was accomplishing something, even if in reality I was falling behind.
When I had various cubicle jobs I became an expert at appearing busy, in fact feeling busy, while accomplishing nothing. Email+crossword=lunch then I'd spread an hour's worth of work over various sports radio broadcasts until it was time to go home. The fact that this more or less matched the routines of those around me led me to believe that this was more or less, life. So I quit.
But on my own it might be worse. When I'm on a real deadline, I'm fairly square. And could there be any more real deadline than the two of you? But I'm afraid in recent weeks I'm doing a lot of traveling without moving. The internet is full of things that feel important (countless videos of people getting kicked in the nuts) and take up time, but don't really put me any further down the road. Email, news feeds, etc, not to mention all the little things I can distract myself in the house (when was the last time someone turned the mattresses?) make it rare that a day goes by where I say to myself, dude you just sat around and did nothing. Instead, I do a ton of meaningless things and then end the day wanting a do over. If I can be this unproductive with two cats I can't fathom the non work I could accomplish with two kids.
We've settled on an au pair for you two. She's from South Africa. English accents for everyone. She's going to get my office. I used to think that would be awful. How would I get anything done? Now I'm pretty sure it's for the best. I think I'm going to go low tech with my next office space. No internet and doors that lock from the outside.
Novel - see above
Dunking - week 6
French - looks like it's back on me
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Anyway, countless ultrasounds continue to confirm that neither of you are going to be ready for college in the next couple months (even though it would be WAY CHEAPER if you just got it out of the way now). Even if you were accepted you probably wouldn't make it through a single lecture without defecating in your seats, something that's still frowned upon everywhere outside of Berkley.
But it turns out that my dream of college age adoption lives on. It's called picking an au pair. We've done our interview, written our essay, and been forced to wrestle with some unexpectedly difficult questions. Is it more important that our au pair like swimming or cycling? Do you have a higher opinion of Latvia or Hungary? How much would you say you know about Hinduism? It's like computer dating, only instead of being for single people who like going out it's for married people who are about to stay home for the next five years memorizing Pixar movies. We answered cycling, Latvia, and lots and crossed our fingers.
And somehow we started getting matches. The bad news is, French speaking au pairs are apparently hard to come by. Everywhere I turn someone wants to remind me what a waste of six semesters that language was. So far our favorites are from Brazil and South Africa. That pretty much means Portuguese or an incredibly cool accent.
It's humbling to talk to people who are so interested in seeing America they're willing to leave their own families for a year to be part of ours. On the other hand, it's kinda terrifying to think that six months from now this house will have gained two infants and a teenager (a cycling Latvian Hindu teenager). Right now your mom (and you two by extension) is at work. There's one cat asleep on a chair to my left, another on the table by my feet. It's so quiet I can hear the fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen.
I should probably go enjoy that while I can.
Novel - pg17
Dunking - wk5
French - looks like we're back to me, I mean moi.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I know there are certain things in there that I don't understand and don't want to understand. The phrase 'industrial grade double barrel mechanical breast pump' comes to mind. I probably should have mentioned that when I was helping you pick a gender. Enjoy being girls!
Various individuals were kind enough to donate your all important, expensive, and death proof car seats. The Apollo astronauts were strapped in with shoelaces by comparison. Of course, these aren't your long term car seats. These are just for the first year. After that, they too will kill you if we don't upgrade. You see what I'm saying? Trust nothing. It's all out to get you.
I'm not sure if they had car seats when I was a child. I think we were just carted around in shoeboxes. I mean, they had lids, so it wasn't totally unsafe. There may have been seatbelts but I don't think we used them. I remember that we rear ended a car once and I went flying and smashed the windshield. And then I had one of those moments that kids have where something crazy has just happened and they look up at their parents to see if they've got the green light to start wailing. But instead of coddling me or leading me to believe that shattering glass with my skull was cause for consternation, my mom picked me up, smiled and said, 'Wow, that's some head you've got! Look at that window! You smashed it right up! This thing must be made out of rock!' And then she mussed my hair, put me back in my shoebox, and off we went. I don't think people traded insurance information in those days either, you just drove off. The point is, she took a traumatic brain injury, and instead of making me cry, she made me proud of it. To this day I still think about the hardness of my head with pride. Now that's parenting. From then on when people would get in our car and look at the spiderwebbed glass I would say with pride, 'I did that with my head.' When they looked at me in horror my mom would just twirl her finger around her temple to indicate that I was crazy and then tell them that I hadn't been quite right since a non-car related, non-negligent blow to the head. I guess what I'm saying is, remind me not to leave you alone with grandma.
Novel - p6
Dunking - can't lift a car, but can hammer nails with my super strong head
French - Je suis un tete dur.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
When we talked about procreation, the one thing we were agreed on was that we wanted to travel first. Your mom was going to take a sabbatical and we were going to go around the world. And then maybe she was going to take a couple months off and we'd go just go half way. And then it was at least going to be a couple weeks and a foreign country. And then we got pregnant before our honeymoon, and well, the upshot is our global circumnavigation has been reduced to three days in Utah, one of the few places you can fly while listening to the person in front of you talk about the celestial kingdom for three hours.
Still I got a couple days of great boarding in amazing snow and your mom got to show her belly to an entirely new audience. We also got to spend a few days with a 2 year old. There's a machine in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, that sucks the life out of victims years at a time. I think they could have just as easily have hooked victims up to a 2 year old. If I'm gone by the time you can read this I suspect it had something to do with the 'fake crying' stage you will apparently enter in your second year. Listening to that on a daily basis will almost certainly lead me to 'stall' my car on some train tracks.
You two have also put an impressive mound on the front of your mom. It looks like if I pushed her over she would bounce right back up, but we haven't tested that. I've taken to calling her 'Mobile Home' since it describes her in function and form. You might think this would upset her, but I've learned that your mom is extremely sensitive about NOT being told how big she is. She constantly walks into rooms demanding to know if I think she looks huge. I've had to answer this question pretty much anytime we left the house for years, and the answer was always 'of course not'. That answer is now very wrong. She is the only female I've ever heard angrily say, 'What the hell do you mean I'm not fat!' In her eyes Mobile Home is a highly complimentary nickname. Clearly, having kids really does change things.
You two also seem to be making her deaf. I'm no anatomist, but apparently the uterus is connected to the ears because your mom has become a serious loud talker of late. We'll be walking through an airport and she'll yell something like, 'Nixon is really sitting right on my cervix', or 'my bladder always feels full, but when I sit down, nothing!' It's kind of like walking around with an old Jewish guy. If it gets any worse I'm going to start walking about thirty yards behind her and we'll just converse via cell phone. Of course, she won't actually have to call me if she has anything to say, thirty yards is like standing next to her at her new volume level. Deaf people can probably hear her updates on the state of her uterus.
Work is progressing slowly. I probably shouldn't have jumped off the novel trail for the screenplay. There are apparently no shortcuts. I haven't measured my vertical lately, but my program assures me that by the end of next week my legs will be strong enough to lift a small car. It really says that. I will try to find one and report back.
Novel - ugh
Dunking - approaching vehicular liftoff
French - Apparently a lot of Au pairs speak Portuguese. Who knew?
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
You two are starting to feel like one of those classes I didn't buy books for and I'm right back to begging the smart kids for information. When we get around people with kids now I'm like Jane Goodall in a monkey house. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Is there really always this much crying? Does the urge to run away dissipate when they're your own kids? Seriously, there's always this much crying?
I have kind of a weak stomach. I tend to get sick at something as innocent as couples smearing wedding cake on each other. Seeing other people's kids eat is like mainlining Ipecac to me. I feel like I'm watching someone apply war paint made of pureed carrots. I really hope you guys like breasts and straws, because until you develop a decent set of teeth and passable table manners, those are the only ways I foresee being able to get food into you. Sippy cups forever!
Oddly, I think I have less of a problem now with the food coming out the other end. At least that's supposed to be disgusting. What I can't get used to is the public nature baby crapping. When you get older you'll discover that there are some people who use the bathroom with the door open and then there's people who want the door closed. Me, I'm a door closed in a house down the street kind of guy. So it's weird when I'm holding someone's baby and the kid gets this look of extreme concentration and the parents say, oh, there he goes. I feel like I should put them in a cabinet or something, give both of us a little privacy, and we can talk when it's over. But I seem to be in the minority. Seeing babies grunt into their diapers really entertains people. I'm surprised there's not a cable channel dedicated to it. I should put that on the list of possible ways to exploit you two for financial gain.
Communicating with your kind is also something I'm trying to work on. Yesterday I was talking to a naked baby and he kept pointing at his penis and saying, pee pee. I thought he was just filling me in on the various parts of his anatomy, and since he seemed to be identifying it properly, I just said, yes, pee pee.
So he peed. Right on the couch, floor, ottoman, etc.
He did warn me. I gotta give him that. But apparently talking to kids is like wishing on one of those monkey's paws. If you're really careful with your words you get your wish. If not, you should probably keep the paper towels handy.
Novel - still rewriting script
Dunking - Week 3 program 2
French - Qu'est que c'est le mot por pee pee?
*Freshman year I bought a book for class called 'The History of Movie Posters' which was just hundreds of pages of movie posters. It cost 65 dollars. That's when I decided I could do without. If I knew where my diploma was I'd put 'without books' next to the magna cum laude part. When you meet me you'll realize that this says less about how smart I am than how stupid a lot of classes are.
Monday, January 21, 2008
My bullet proof backup plan has always been to raise an NFL punter. High paying work, minimal danger, and lots of time off. Many parents try to push the athlete angle, but they always aim for the glory positions, raising quarterbacks and baseball pitchers. Me, I figured we'd aim low, specialize early, go all Tiger Woods and have you punting before you could walk. Then when you cashed that first NFL check you'd just be dying to buy a ski chalet for the man who taught you about the coffin corner. I was running this by your mom and she pointed out two problems. One you're girls, and two, the only thing I actually know about punting is the phrase 'coffin corner'.
So the question now is how can I best live vicariously through twin girls. Sports are a surprisingly dead end for women. Remember, this is not about whether of not you're fulfilled, it's about my ski chalet, and with the exception of women's tennis, women still get the shaft when it comes to getting paid for kicking and hitting round things. We could go the tennis route, but some of those juniors academies are right up there with the beauty pageant circuit for freakshow content. Also, when I played tennis I had a tendency to hit the ball over the back fence. All the time. Ten bucks says you both get that gene.
So if sports are out, where are the other big pay days for girls? Modeling? I think my genes will torpedo that too, not to mention that while I really want that chalet, it's hard for me to push you toward anything that might bring you within a thousand miles of Tyra Banks. Being a human clothes hanger just seems like such an empty and meaningless existence. Unlike repeatedly kicking a small leather ball toward the corners (the coffin ones) of a green rectangle.
Acting? Such a tough nut to crack. And getting an early start doesn't necessarily mean you end up with a sustainable career. You could end up Mccauley Caulkin, out of work by 25 and spending all my chalet money working through your memories of weekends at Michael Jackson's with a thousand dollar an hour therapist. That's not good for any of us.
So, I've decided to make you Hedge Fund Managers. Granted, I know less about hedge funds than I do about punting and my math skills break down at 6x7, but you could make up for my lifetime of failure and financial mismanagement with one 200 million dollar Christmas bonus. So when those big checks come, just remember that while everyone else was putting you in pink, it was me who hooked you up with the derivatives and bond market primers. All I ask in return is that you move me to a mountain with a lift right outside my front door.
Also, I'll probably need a couple new knees.
Novel - doing another script draft
Dunking - Program 2, week 3
French - Nous sommes riche!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
We got you guys checked out yesterday, and aside from the fact that you appear locked in some sort of epic yoga/wrestling battle with one another, all appears well. You just need to get your feet out of one another's ears.
I guess the big news is that we're looking at getting an au pair to help us wrangle you two. We knew we'd have to have help in order for you mom to keep working and me to keep defacing blank paper, and since we got no bites on our 45 cent per hour offer we had to look at other options. Basically, someone from another country who's anxious to see our little part of America will live here and take some number of classes, and then be able to help out part time to keep the rest of us employed. It's kind of like a foreign exchange program but with screaming children.
Your mom was a little weirded out at first about the idea of having someone live with us. For me this was not a problem. When I was young my dad and stepmom sort of had a habit of collecting people who were down on their luck and letting them stay for 'a few weeks' until things turned around. Those weeks tended to run into years, so it always just seemed normal that there would be a strange person down the hall. I mean strange in nicest possible way, but I still mean it.
If it weren't for Crazy Dick I would probably know almost nothing about handguns or mustaches, two disciplines that are all but ignored in today's 'teach to the test' environment. British Brian taught me to make a white russian, a skill no ten year old should be without, and got me in the habit of speaking with an annoying accent, something every person I've met since would probably love to talk to him about. Navy Tom, god love him, taught me to be a patient listener. I think he's probably still telling a story that began in 1987. I think he wants to stop, he just doesn't know how.
I cannot guarantee that the person who comes to stay with us will know anything about mustaches, guns, bar tending, or the Navy, but I've certainly put in the request. Failing those things it would be nice if they knew French so they could fill in the vast holes in the version you'll be getting from me. Failing all that, I'll settle for someone with a simple burning passion for diapers.
Novel - waiting for the script draft to be torn to shreds by readers
Dunking - could not walk after first workout of new program. unclear if that's a good or bad sign
French - Il y a un Russian Blanche
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I promised you an update on things, so here it is. A few weeks back I kind of freaked out that there was no way in hell I was going to finish the book before you got here. Then I wondered if I had any business writing a book. I mean, you don't need a license, but I feel like if people were to read what I've written so far, that might change. And if I didn't finish before you got here, I didn't see myself finishing at all. People have told us a variety of things about newborns, but no one has said, 'it's a good time to work on a big personal project.' So I decided to fall back on what I know and write the screenplay version. When I say, 'what I know', I mean know in the way that a person who's used a microwave knows nuclear physics. But, while I'm no expert, I do have all the apparatus in place to put a screenplay in front of people which is more than I can say for the novel. That kind of makes it sound like I have a room full of chained up individuals who will agree to stare at screenplays but not books. And I do, but that's not what I'm referring to. Thus far that thing has just been a big money pit.
Anyway, I decided to take a couple weeks, write the screenplay and then stick it in a drawer so that if things got difficult, or you came early or whatever, I could give it to my people (not the chained up people, other people) and they could give me a check for several million dollars. It was going to be like my parachute. Like most homemade parachutes, it's currently pretty ragged and full of holes and sadly, if I have to use it, then the book's probably dead. There's lots of movies that follow books, but not many that go the other way around, at least not ones without pictures of Star Trek characters on the front. If we pull the ripcord I think the book goes down with the plane.
I've also made drastic changes to the jumping program. My new regimen requires me to eat a startling 6 meals a day. Not just any 6 meals, but an absurdly complicated 6 meals. The kitchen looks like a chemistry lab. It's unclear how making myself enormously heavy is going to help me take flight. My theory is that I am to balloon up into a ball shape and then literally bounce myself above the rim. If it works, I think the NBA might look very different by the time you start paying attention.
Novel - Going straight to video
Dunking - vertical leap currently 3 inches less that waist size
French - Remind me to get back to you on this
Saturday, January 5, 2008
You're still floating in goo and yet studies of twins just like you indicate that much of who and how you'll be is already sewn into the fabric of your genes. You might be raised by dolphins and still end up with a tendency to scrape lines in the last bits of your food just like your mother. You might be adopted by Bill Gates and still end up as big a tight wad as your father. Just think of DNA as a kind of time bomb waiting to turn you into your parents.
The idea that any of us comes pre-assembled isn't very popular outside of science labs. It seems to put us at the mercy of our fat, smoking, drinking, procrastinating genes. If we can't change, if it's all DNA, then what's the point?
Which brings us back to New Year's. The truth is, now matter what we promise ourselves on the first day of every year, most diets fail, most smokers keep puffing, and most procrastinators ask for extensions. But there's a few who don't. A few make it to the land of skinny, more water drinking, less junk food eating, watch less tv, bike to work, learn that language, dunk that ball, and write that novel. Some even manage to stay there. Those that do don't do it by changing their genes, but by overcoming them, not with a single statement on a single day, but with endless effort over endless days. It will always be easier to be what you are than what you want to be.
So here's my brief, five day late, New Year's message to you. You can't be anyone you want. You can't be the children of smarter, richer, less idiotic parents. You can't control how tall or short, how dimpled or freckled you are. You can't even control the way your own voice will sound.
But what you say will always be up to you.
Making resolutions is obviously easier than keeping them, but you're only set in stone when you decide you can't bear to make another one. If you get anything from me, I hope it's the ability to make new ones on the fifth after screwing up the ones you made on the first.
Novel - 3 days to update
Dunking - New program starts tomorrow
French - Seriously, I'm looking into that nanny