21 August 2007

Shaking, baking and leaking

August has been, shall we say, challenging.  Not all bad, not all good.  Lots and lots of challenges.

First, it's raining perpetually.  Chicago's rainiest month is August, has been for a while, apparently, and August 2007 isn't going to do anything to change that.  When it's not raining, it feels like it's just about to or has just stopped.  Since August 1 I've felt like I've always just stepped out of the shower.

Vanity, thy name is humidity.

I bought tickets to this past weekend's Cubs-Cardinals games at Wrigley back in February, visualizing two teams battling in a pennant race under a blazing hot August sun.  Fortunately, I got the part about the pennant race right.  Saturday's game felt like it was being played in Dublin-low, dark clouds coming in off the lake, a chilling wind best described as "raw" and a steady drizzle; the type of day that I got married.  In April.

I wore shorts (to the game, not my wedding) and spent four hours in denial (there were two rain delays).  I don't think I have ever shivered before in August.

But it was worth it.  The Cubs won 5-3, and they stayed in first place.  And yes, that is sort of a big deal.  I know I'm 40; humor me.

Sunday was a lot worse.  It rained all day but for some (ahem, it was scheduled to be televised on ESPN) reason the game (starting at 7 PM) was not postponed.  Every more surprising was that it stopped raining long enough for the game to start on time.  And of course we went, because well, why not?  It would be too sensible to just stay home.

It started raining in the bottom of the third inning.  And I think it still is.  Yeah, I know it's been raining a lot more in a lot of other places, but this is all about vanity remember?  So what I thought six months ago would be a memorable summer weekend was mostly a buzz kill.  Except for Saturday's result.  Did I mention that the Cubs beat the Cardinals?  That the Cubs are in first?  That the Cardinals are in third?

Another challenge came in trying to get the heck out of here for a spell.  My wife had a couple of weeks off before starting a new job and we came up with an exceptionally bold plan: go to Hawaii.  She has a friend who moved to the Big Island last summer and has been dying to have company ever since.  My brother works for a major airline and has the ability to provide us with reduced airfare with one caveat-flying standby-and after looking at the projected cost of such a trip, we decided that we could go and not feel like we were blowing the baby's first few months of essentials.

We knew the risk going in that we could get bumped from the flight, but we never got that far.  The major airline has a policy restricting our type of travel to Hawaii in August because it's "high season."  Yep, everyone goes to Hawaii in August it seems. 

Except that the flight we were supposed to leave on (we found out three hours prior that we could not go) might have had a few empty seats.  One would think that a business that is struggling to make money would do anything possible to ensure that it was making money by putting rear ends in as many seats as possible.  That's Mr. Retail talking there, sorry. Been a while since we heard from him.

So going to Hawaii?  A-No-ha.  A perfect storm of complications.  Speaking of which, about a billion people let me know that right after we were supposed to be there, a hurricane skirted the Big Island.  Seems there was an earthquake too.

We thought about going to LA instead, but those flights didn't look so hot either.  Hot?  We decided to drive to Kansas City for a few days to visit close friends.  It was 300 degrees.  We had a good time, though.  I lost about fifty pounds.

There's more going on this month, stuff that gunks up the gears of my life, but that is life, isn't it?  We move on.

Eleven days until September.  I am counting the seconds.

04 August 2007

Writing from high atop the stratosphere

You'll excuse me if I'm a little too up today.  Today is D-Day, or FOIWAHABOAG-Day: "Find Out If We Are Having a Boy or a Girl." 

And indeed, we have found.  In a little over four months, we are having a son!

I would have been fine waiting until the birth to know if we had a son or daughter, but Kristen wanted to know, and she's carrying the little bugger, so why not?  So now we know: a boy it is, and we couldn't be happier. 

And now that the revelation has been made, I have to admit that I really, really, really, really wanted a boy.  I would have been absolutely fine with a girl, of course.  I like girls.  I know a lot of outstanding females and I am confident that if we were having a daughter that she would be so as well.  I would not be disappointed if there had been "nothing" where instead there was "something" this morning.

I was on top of the world before.  Now I am above even that.

I wanted a boy because now I can look upon my life and say that I have (and will) shared the same experiences as my father.  I think if he were still alive I would not be as caught up in the gender of our baby, but since his death I tend to examine my life in terms of his.  It's not that I want to be him; it's that I want the chance to have what he had, so that I can be what he taught me to be.  I learned from my father how to be everything: a student, an adult, a friend, career-oriented (fell of fthat track, yes, but I'm in the process of getting back on), a husband, etc.; all that is missing is a father.  And since I am his son, I only know the father-son experience from that perspective, and that is what I want to experience now from the opposite view.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I will know what my son is experiencing as we go through his life, at least from what I remember.  I know things change and it is much more different being a child than it was three decades ago, but I had a bond with my father that through everything, good and bad, only grew stronger, and it is as strong today as it has ever been.  Death cannot break what is meant to last forever.  My son and my father have a bond now through me.

I am my father's son, and I get to be my son's father.  I feel the circle beginning to complete.  This is what I had hoped for. 

Of course, I make this sound like it is me and only me who will go through this.  My son is lucky because he has a great mother.  He's not even born and he's already won the mommy lottery (would they call that winning the "mother lode"?  BA-ZING!).  I don't mean to sound selfish, like the gender of the baby affects only me.

The oddest thing about this whole pregnancy experience has been wondering when that feeling would hit, that "oh-wow-we-are-really-going-to-be-parents" shot across the bow.  Well, it took four and one-half months for it to arrive.

It's here now.  Oh boy, is it ever.  It was a direct hit that has sent us flying higher than we ever thought was possible.  And I'm pretty sure we will never come down.