26 January 2008

I read the news today, oh boy.

Today, I've reached the breaking point.  This has nothing to do with babies, by the way.

Nope, what I'm sick of today is the media.  Whether it's Clinton/Clinton vs. Obama, or the entire roster of GOP candidates vs. Clinton (hey guys, could you hate Hillary just a little bit more please?), or nonstop coverage of casino's roof burning (could it be terrorism?  we'll examine in just a moment...), or fifty-seven mentions of Heath Ledger (when I am leader of the free world, the first thing I shall decree is that the death of anyone famous can be mentioned in the media for only the first twenty-four hours.  There will be an exception-request process for ex-presidents and the like, but I will likely refuse most of them) or the idiocy that is Drew Peterson, etc etc etc. I've about had it with the way news is reported in this country.  Even newspapers!  Sigh.  I've read the Chicago Tribune daily for as long as I can remember, but I am seriously considering giving it up.  I can only take so much.

This was just a rant.  My day ends with a random eleven:

1. "Cherry Bomb"-John Mellancamp.  I'm not happy with J(C)M as of late.  I remember him ranting and raving about people selling out when he first got famous, and now I can't watch more than ten minutes of a sporting event without hearing him singing for a Chevy commercial (side note to anyone familiar to Chicago businesses: doesn't Sellencamp's "this is our country" refrain sound exactly like the "this is our country" ending to the Countrywide insurance theme song?).  It makes it hard to listen to his music.  I'm so fickle, so holier than thou.  I sold the only house I owned so that it would be knocked down and have a home three sizes larger built on the lot.  I guess that remembrance is why I haven't deleted any J(C)M's song of the 'pod.

2. "Floating"-Julee Cruise.  More "Twin Peaks" music.  If I live to be 200 I will always remember how this music fit into the TV series.  I'm not sure why I included this song.  It's only average compared to most of the selections.

3. "Kid Charlemagne"-Steely Dan.  I have this pipe dream of becoming an English professor (not gonna happen; I don't have the patience for a PhD) and creating a class analyzing the lyrics of Steely Dan.  This song would definitely be on the final.  Is there gas in the car?  Yes, there's gas in the car.  Now clean this mess up or we'll all end up in jail.

4. "Piove"-Lorenzo Jovannotti.  This is from the first Sopranos sound track, mostly sung in Italian.  I can't really explain it if you're not familiar with it.  When I first heard it, I thought he was saying "Bjork" at the beginning.  Somewhere on my desk or in a file cabinet are lyrics to this song to reflect someone's infatuation with the Icelandic pop princess.

5. "Deireadh An Tuath"-Enya.  Heh.  I get what I deserve.  I'm doing this without my headphones, so I am not listening to the music, and originally this spot was taken by a song called "One By One" also by Enya.  I can't remember exactly what song that is, so I decided to skip it.  And I get more Enya!  Words that I can't pronounce!  (By the way, # 3 on my list of "Things that I say that I will do while knowing that there is no way I will ever motivate myself to actually do them" is learn to speak Irish).  So I can't tell you what this song is about, but I can tell you that she chants a bit, and there are a lot of heavy bell sounds.  Perhaps the title translates to "You're a Moron."

6. "All She Wants to Do is Dance"-Don Henley.  Hoo boy.  I have a vivid memory of being at someone's house my senior year of high school and being QUITE angry that a certain girl I had my eye on was locking lips with a friend who I considered to be infinitely dorkier than I was (and who I haven't seen or heard from in more than twenty years) while this song was playing.  I quietly seethed and then drank a six-pack (No worries Mom.  I spent the night); irony is, had she been sweet on me instead, I'd be writing something along the lines of "what was I thinking" in memory of this song.  Ah, teen angst.  I was pathetic.

7. "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town"-Pearl Jam.  I do love this song, and it seems like Eddie Vedder is the only guy who can sing it.  One thing drives me nuts about this, though.  There are at least three spots where consecutive lyric lines should rhyme, because a word exists that fits, but for some reason whoever wrote the lyrics didn't do it.

8. "Goodbye Girl."-Squueze.  One of those songs that I will be listening to when I am 75.  This is on the greatest hits CD of Squeeze, music that I will definitely be introducing to my son.  When he is a teen, he will tell me that this stuff sucks, and then go listen to it secretly in his room.  I bet on it.

9. "The Well and The Lighthouse"-The Arcade Fire.  Almost indescribable.  This CD has been in my car player for the last six months, I think.  This is one of those bands that I checked out because I kept hearing the same two songs on the radio, and they turned out to be two of the lesser songs on the CD.  This song is about a guy living at the bottom of a well who somehow becomes responsible for a lighthouse.  You want the truth?  You know I'd do it all again.

10. "In Bloom"-Nirvana. Nirvana visits the "Led Zeppelin/Robert Plant School of Naming Songs Where the Title Does Not Appear Anywhere In the Lyrics."  (Lesson 1: when to use "Big Log": wait for it.)  Here's what I want to know: Nirvana was a trio.  Kurt Cobain died, and Dave Grohl has been all over the place since (he's very underrated as a singer and songwriter, methinks.), but what happened to the third guy?  Christ Novolesic (I had to look him up) has been completely screwed by Cobain's decision to off himself.  I'm wondering if there is anyone on Earth who has been more screwed by someone else committing suicide.

11. "Texarkana"-REM.  I actually drove through Texarkana in 2003, and listened to this song repeatedly as I was doing it.  I am sooo spontaneous.  And I don't think the word "Texarkana" is anywhere in the lyrics.  I feel so superficial.

23 January 2008

The first 31 days

The boy turned one month old Monday.  He and I celebrated during his normal witching hours by watching Braveheart, though I don't think he understood most of it.  However, when he woke up the next morning he looked at me and said "They can take our lives, but they can never take our (sound of him filling his diaper)!!!"

Many people warned me that time would go by quickly, but I have to say that it has not.  It feels like Desmond has been around for a lot more than just a little over four weeks.  My life has changed a lot, obviously.  I knew that it would.  Still, it has not been easy.  This is not a complaint, but I find myself doing nothing except tending to my son and trying to keep our house under control.  I can't imagine how my wife must feel, since she is on call 24/7.  Every time Des needs to nurse, she has to drop everything.  It's amazing.  She has never said anything about the loss of personal time since our son was born.  She is a natural mother.  Both Desmond and I are lucky to be going through this experience with her.

I can't say what my favorite thing about Desmond is.  I love it when he falls asleep on my chest.  That happened a lot in the first two weeks of his life, but since then it has only happened once.  I love his wide eyes.  At times I think my son is the reincarnation of Marty Feldman.

I just realized that link doesn't have a picture of Mr. Feldman.  Excuse me while I hunt...ah, here we are!

Des has really big eyes, and I love it when they just stare out at anything.  They widen and he looks completely enraptured.  I've been told that he really can't focus on much yet, but I don't care.  As far as I am concerned, he's studying the details of the cracks in the ceiling.

I'm fairly good at calming him down whenever he is upset (except when he is hungry, for obvious reasons), and I usually can get him to sleep just about anytime.  I have a secret weapon that I call "The Redeemer."  Resting Desmond face-up on my arms, I cradle his head in my hands. His arms go limp, hanging over the sides of my arms, and he falls asleep quickly.  I call it the Redeemer because he looks just like the statue in Rio (if someone knocked it over) when he lies like this. 

This is normally the only time, when he falls asleep on me like that, where I want time to freeze.  I want to be able to pick him up in forty years and have this still happen.  Just the thought that I won't always be able to do this saddens me.  So I guess that this is my favorite thing about him.

That will change soon, I reckon, because he is days away from smiling voluntarily.  We can tell that he is trying but not yet able, which leads to some highly comedic moments.  He has an enjoyable smirk.  When he smiles now, it is usually when he is asleep.  He's got a penchant for letting one slip out just after I have said something somewhat inappropriate.

I still can't quite believe that I have a son.  At night, he sleeps next to us and I am constantly staring at him.  His involuntary jerks and spasms are like signals from a faraway place, telling me that there is something else out there.  It's like a bolt of reassurance going through me.  It reminds me of how different things are now, how life will never be the same as it was before December 21, 2007.

Most of all, it reminds me how freakin' lucky I am.

16 January 2008

A completely non-baby entry

I watched the Democratic debate from Vegas last night.  As I struggled to stay awake it occurred to me that I really don't have a candidate in this race on either side.  I'm trying to remember the last time I was "undecided" at this point in the campaign.  Maybe '88.  Nope, I was partial to Paul Simon that year, even though he had no chance of winning.

So I consider there to be eight "serious" candidates running from prez-5 GOP'ers and 3 Dems.  The rundown, with my feelings about 'em:

(Order means nothing)

Mitt Romney-Man, does he creep me out.  I expect his eyes to glow red every time he looks directly into the camera.  And it has nothing to do with him being Mormon.  He is the consummate example of a politician who will say anything to get elected.  He was pro-choice and pro-gay marriage when he wanted to be the governor of a liberal state (Mass.), but hey-ho, he's pro-life and pro-marriage (which is the dumbest label ever created in Washington I think) now that he wants to be the Republican nominee.  He also made that lame religion speech last month to reassure the evangelicals (what exactly is an "evangelical"?  It sounds like it should be part of a manicure or something) that if he's elected he will not move the nation's capital to Salt Lake.  He's not even trying to appeal to me.  He's probably very smart.  And he's got great hair.

2. John McCain-No way.  The man is a great American, a patriot, and has been through more than fifteen thousand of us put together, but if he is elected, the Middle East is going to explode.  I might have voted for him in 2000 because he seemed genuine, but eight years later he is the Bush candidate.  It stuns me that he is considered a front-runner.  It's hard to reject him.  I like the guy, but I want us out of the Middle East.

3. Mike Huckabee-He's kind of likable, but he needs to stop fawning over Chuck Norris.  Chuck Norris, who is so concerned about values and such, yet didn't seem to care when he had the most violent show on TV for almost a decade.  Ever watch an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger"?  So strike one there. Strike two came this week, when Huck made a comment about changing the language of the Constitution to make it reflect the word of God.  Uh uh.  That's strike three, four, five, etc etc etc eighty all in one.  I am glad Jerry Falwell isn't around for this.  I like Mike; I'm sure he'd fun to jam with, but I want him no where near the White House.

4. Fred Thompson-If I were ol' Fred, I would have ran as the character he played in The Hunt for Red October.  The actual FT is really boring.  His cabinet meetings would be naps instead.

5. Rudy Guiliani-The "I wake up screaming in a cold sweat in the bowels of the night just thinking of the chance that he might be president" candidate.  How ironic, since he is the most socially liberal of the Republicans.  Rudy wants to be President Bad-Ass; We're gonna invade Iran!  We're gonna find bin Laden!  We're gonna get Moose and Squirrel!  It boggles my mind that he is even taken seriously.  Really, what has he done?  He was Mayor of New York City for eight years.  Who cares?  He cut crime (good), committed adultery (bad), made Times Square more pleasant (good), estranged his children (bad) and, in the eight years in between the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and 9/11, he did nothing to improve the communication devices of the police, fire and Port Authority (unbelievably bad; almost criminally bad; certainly morally bad).  People who call him "America's Mayor" are morons.  A) America doesn't have a mayor.  B) Guiliani goes around claiming that he was "Mayor Bad-Ass" when in reality, he just ran around flexing his chest after the towers fell.  He's reprehensible.  I don't understand, given his personal life, why he is even taken seriously.  Can you imagine the smear of negative ads if a Democrat who had committed adultery and been married three times was running?  We'd all need hip boots.

6. Ron Paul-I know very little about the guy, but he seems to have a rabid following, and his ability to raise money over the Internet is impressive.  He doesn't have a chance in H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS.

So there are the Republicans.  Can't get behind any of them.  On to the Dems:

1. John Edwards-The dream match up of hair stylists everywhere is  Edwards vs. Romney.  I can see the ads now: "Hair Salon Veterans for Truth."  Edwards would probably be a decent president, at least initially, but I picture him getting bogged down quickly.  And what has he been doing the last four years?

2. Hillary Clinton-I used to be tingly thinking about Bill having influence in the White House again, but I'm over it.  Look, I'm sure she is qualified and a swell person, and it really is no fault of her own that she is so vilified, but she is exactly what this country does not need, someone who will make the polarization of this country even more apparent.  We've spent the last eight years with at least half the country despising the president.  I don't want to go through that for at least four more.  And she seems so controlled, so structured.  I couldn't believe the thing last week where she was choked up with emotion.  Are we sure that was not a robot?

3. Barack Obama-Sigh.  I like him.  I really, really do.  I just don't think that he is ready to be president.  I've said before that my dream is for him to finish his senatorial term, run for governor of Illinois in 2010 (there is no way Blago is going to run again.  If he is dumb enough to try he will be filleted) and then run for President in either 2012 or 2016.  Barack is not listening.  His political flame is going to go out way too soon.

If I had to choose someone above, I'd have to default to Obama.  I wanted Bill Richardson, who I thought had the most impressive resume of anyone in the race (governor, congressman, energy secretary, UN ambassador, diplomat-hostage negotiator) but he does not have the personality that the country demands.  Who cares if you are qualified?  You just have to look good.

Since the race was all but over in 2004 by the time the primary came around Illinois, I voted for Dennis Kucinich.  Wait a tic!  He's running again isn't he?  I forgot all about President "Didn't he have a small roll in the Wizard of Oz" Kucinich.

I quiver for our society.

12 January 2008

The Desmond Rules

I've come to realize that at the ripe old age of three weeks, my son has established a routine by which he lives his days.  Deviation is not an option.  He most clearly did not get this from me.  7/8ths of his day is fairly mundane: he sleeps, nurses, and expels bodily fluids, all in a rather repetitive nature.  If he wore a watch, he could set it by his actions.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's that remaining 1/8 of his routine that is a doozy.  After careful examination, I believe I have captured the steps and procedures.  First, these actions must always occur between the hours of 11pm-2am.  He may be a werewolf.  I digress.  These are the steps:

1. At 11 pm sharp, finish nursing. completing a session like someone told you that there will be no more sustenance, ever, and therefore you must extract every final available drop with an energy that would light up the Eastern seaboard  until 3001.  Immediately be handed off to Dad.  Watch Mom head upstairs to sleep.

2. Develop gas bubble the size of Manitoba.  Act strangely calm while dad attempts to dislodge said bubble through burp.  When that fails, scream as if you were warning London of the approaching Blitz.

3. Continue the last part of step 2, stopping only when Dad holds you out so that you lay backside-down on his forearms, your head cradled in his hands.  This reminds of you of being in the womb, and you believe that you can float, so your arms go limp, and you look Kate Winslet standing on the bow of the Titanic.

4. Fall asleep for ten seconds, just enough time for Dad to think he can stop holding you in the way that makes him feel like his arms are being devoured by 3,612 fire ants, and then resume screaming when the lactic acid buildup in Dad's arms starts to dissipate. 

5. Bob head up, down and side-to-side as Dad holds you on his lap in a sitting position, so that you look like a muppet being forced to burp.  Make approximately forty thousand "eh" noises that make Dad think he is fracturing vertebrae with every tap to your back.  Do not burp.

6.  After Dad has changed to holding you over his shoulder and then gone back to sitting you on his lap, let go with burp that registers on the Richter Scale.  Feign being startled when glass in windows shake.  Make sure to have small quantity of drool-laced-with-throat-gunk in mouth and release it into Dad's hands.

7. Sit quietly for sixty seconds in vibrating bouncy seat that Dad (who wants to check his homeowner's insurance) foolishly thinks will put you to sleep in five minutes.  At second sixty-one, scream.  Scream, scream, scream.  Scream, I tell you, like you have never screamed before.  Give me an S!  Give me a C!  Give me an R!  Give me an E!  Give me an A!  Give me an M!  Go team go!

8. Sit cradled in Dad's arms and go back to making forty thousand "eh" noises while he wonders were one of the 57 pacifiers in the house might be.  When he finds one and sticks it in your mouth, suck on it like you haven't been fed since conception.

9. Fall asleep multiple times.  Wake up because you feel the Earth rotating.  Launch pacifier onto floor until Dad realizes that he needs to use both hands to keep you calm.  Fall asleep one more time, giving Dad the impression that this one might be deeper than the others.

10. This is very important!  The second step nine ends, unleash a torrent of poop into your diaper that sounds like the dam on the Columbia River just broke.  Hope the half-million residents of Central Washington make it to high ground.  Repeat three more times in the next twelve seconds. 

11. When Dad gets you to changing table, start kicking your legs like your were finishing the 4 X 400 relay for the Olympic Gold so that undoing snaps and removing feet from onesie PJs requires quantum physics degree.  When Dad finally gets to diaper (this is also very important), suddenly stop moving and be calm, so that he thinks he will have you changed in no time.

12. As soon as you feel your butt exposed, release last torrent of poop that was hidden behind your appendix.  Giggle as you watch Dad try to cover you with diaper, keep your feet out of said torrent and clean the 678 nooks and crannies you have from your navel to your thighs.

13.  (This step is optional, only if you are feeling particularly feisty)  Scream suddenly in a way that makes Dad think one of your arms just snapped off.  If in his distracted state he leaves your mid-section uncovered, pee on him.  He deserves it for being scatter-brained.

14. With new diaper and clean crevices, nestle in the arms of Dad, who is too tired to walk up the stairs with you to take you to bed.  Fall into deep sleep, the type where you make it seem like you have stopped breathing.  Count how many times Dad feels your chest to make sure it is rising and falling and/or places a finger under your nose.

15. If Dad decides he needs to sleep, fall asleep on his chest in pose that makes him forget everything that has happened in the last three hours (said pose should be called "The Cleaner").  If Dad does not sleep, make sure to spasm fifty times per minute so that any intact nerves he has remaining fray like old rope.

16. Eventually, Dad will take you upstairs and put you in the bassinet next to Mommy (who has been asleep since 11).  Look exceedingly angelic as you nestle into a comfortable position so that his heart almost breaks with love.

17.  Sleep until 5 or 6.  You don't want to be rude and wake Mommy before she has had her rest.

09 January 2008

The smell of it

I am writing this with one hand while I hold my sleeping son with the other.  We seem to have a thing going where we spend the hours of 11 pm until 2 am together.  No matter what, once that cuckoo cuckoos eleven times in the evening, Desmond is wide awake.  Mostly he is in a good mood, but sometimes he can be a little ornery.  Anyway Mommy needs to sleep, since she will have feedings at 2 and 5, so I need to get him as far away from our bedroom as possible.

I continue to be amazed by him.  I knew I would be.  I did not know that I would to this extent.  I literally study my boy and notice so many new things about him.  How the tops of his ears curl around the edge of his head; how perfectly round his head is; how much he reminds me of my father; how he did not get his toes from either me or his mother; how the dimples in his cheeks change location daily; how the sound of his breathing syncs perfectly with the beating of my heart.

I'm hooked.

A few days ago I went to do some grocery shopping by myself, and the store was busy.  I was getting more and more frustrated with how other shoppers were blocking aisles and not paying attention to the fact that they were not the only people in the store.  It made me slightly grumpy.  And then I smelled my son.

It was all over me, the unmistakable scent of an infant, richest at the point where his hairline ends and his forehead begins.  I'm not sure if it was my mind triggering  a memory to placate my mood, but it worked.  I couldn't have cared less about the idiots surrounding me.  I had my son to go home to. 

I would climb a rope to the moon for him.  I'd dog paddle the Pacific.
I'd vote Republican.

(By the way, nice job with the tears, Hillary.  They seemed to have worked)

I can't believe I've lived forty years without him.   He seems like he has been here always.