Monday, December 24, 2007

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas (or Holiday, if that's your gig. I'm not all uptight about it or anything.),
Let your heart be light (especially you, Tracey.)
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay (Heh. He said "gay.").
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

(You know what? I really do dig this song. I'm just gonna shut up now and let it play. I wish you all a wonderful day with the friends and family you love best. Thanks for stopping by my blog now and again. It means a lot to me. I hope the new year is a good one for you!)

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Now With Less Patriotism!

At this point in my life, I've learned that for me, a New Year's Resolution is a meaningless gesture, because I never keep them. But as I watched The Today Show this morning, a new goal for the future occurred to me. The Today Show almost always annoys me, though certainly less so now that Katie Couric is gone. I watch it because it's less annoying than the other morning shows, and it is a lifelong habit to have television on as background noise, especially while eating. Plus, the day's weather predictions are useful to know, and traffic information is occasionally helpful.

This morning, though, I was particularly depressed by the themes, and I realized they are always the same themes, morning after morning, year after year. First and foremost: consumerism as patriotism. This theme is particularly clear during the holiday season. Daily there are gloomy predictions about how reduced holiday spending is likely to doom the American economy for the year to come. Buried in the story so that it is almost unnoticeable is the fact that when they're talking about reduced spending, they're usually talking about reduced growth in spending. Somewhere they'll mention that spending through the holiday season this year is up only 4 percent over last year, which is slower growth than over the past X number of years, etc. Then they talk about how it's a snapshot of the economy, and Wall Street is pessimistic, and gloom doom gloom doom gloom gloom gloom. Consumption is good!

Next they jump into an environmental story. Today it was about the melting of the polar ice and the several reasons why this is bad, and how it's tied to carbon dioxide emissions, like those produced by automobiles and the burning of coal for electricity. When our children are having children, they will live in an entirely different global climate. Consumption is bad!

Then we cut to commercial after commercial telling us what a great Christmas gift a Lexus makes, and diamonds, and sweaters, and housewares and appliances and toys and electronics and more and more and more. The message is always that happiness and satisfaction and individualism are achievable through consumerism. Consumption is good!

There is never once a sense of irony on the faces or in the voices of the anchors or the reporters. This morning there was a segment on Tools! For Women! The reporter presenting the segment was breathless and nearly shouting her excitement over this empowering trend! Yet the segment began with "Tupperware parties and kitchen gadgets" being the old expression of the female realm of homemaking and Tools! For Women! being the new, more equitable expression of the still inherently female realm of homemaking. The entire segment, as are so many morning show segments, was an extended commercial, with brand names and prices conveniently provided.

Now, I'm still trying to process what I think and feel about this, so I'm not sure how to wrap it up. I know that it's just a morning show. But I still feel like, even with the expansion of the number of channels that cable and satellite have meant over the last thirty years, network television is one of the broadest expressions of shared American popular culture. And network news, and network morning shows, are a large aspect of that expression of popular culture. It's just such a corporate, mercenary culture.

So anyway, I'm going to do my best in the days ahead to turn off the TV more. I've been enjoying Discovery and History Channel shows lately, but when you watch a weekly show's daily reruns, you run out of new material pretty quickly, and I've noticed the boy staring blankly at the TV when we're playing on the floor. Already, without even the context or language to understand what he's looking at, he gets sucked into the box such that he can't pay attention to the Tummy Time. It really should be off more.

Does that make me a poor patriot? I hope Homeland Security doesn't come calling.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Adventures in Babysitting

By the way, Mom, that's a reference to a movie from 1987 starring Elizabeth Shue before she was all hot and had a heart problem and messed around with Val Kilmer or made a gorilla invisible and got stalked by Kevin Bacon.

Wait, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, babysitting. The incomparable Social Worker Sister-in-Law ("SWSIL") has put me on the payroll to pick her kids up from school or babysit them when they're on vacation and she's not. This is a pretty sweet deal, since they're seven and nine, and the older is a girl who already knows and is more than willing to explain exactly what her brother is and is not allowed to do. They practically take care of themselves!

Today we went to the library, where all I had to do was suggest that the nephew try "Yes, please" and "Thank you" instead of "Yeah" and "I guess so" as appropriate responses to the librarian's kind assistance. Then the Thumpster and I held them, uh, engrossed, with our magic poopy diaper trick, in which the boy makes a horrible, sticky, stinky mess and I clean it up. It's a real crowd pleaser!

We also played Twister Dance, which, according to the niece, SWSIL doesn't even count as TV time! Apparently this is a huge oversight by SWSIL, but we won't tell her how much fun the kids are getting away with here. I was declared "the most enthusiastic adult" ever to play the game, way more enthusiastic than SWSIL.

For his part, young Thumper is enthralled. I kept whispering in his ear that they're both crazy, but he is in awe. He didn't know there was this much fun to be had in the world. The running, the jumping! The yelling! The dancing! The bikes! The scooters! It's almost too much to handle.

So all in all, a fabulous time was had by all, and we're looking forward to more of the same. Need somebody to pick up your kids after school? Drop us a line! Just don't tell SWSIL. I hear babysitters are a precious, precious commodity in this strange world of parenting, and babysitter theft is a crime punishable by death. But drop us a line anyway. We'll pick up your kids, and we might even keep them safe and healthy 'til you get home! Just beware the poopy diapers... Eeeeewwwwwww!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

So Says My Nine-Year-Old Niece

"Oh, no. You shouldn't call him Cutie Pie."

"Why not? He IS a cutie pie!"

"Yeah, but when he gets older and finds out that's what you've been calling him, he's going to be mad."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

All Ye Know on Earth, And All Ye Need to Know

Apparently it was Men's Day on the subdivision loop today; the boy and I didn't see a single woman out jogging, biking, or walking. My little sleepy Santa only got one smile and not a single "Awww..." I realized it's probably a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of women to men who go all goofy at the sight of the Thumpster, which can really only lead me to one conclusion: women are more sophisticated and have a higher appreciation of the finer things in life, like Art and Beauty. And Babies in Santa Hats.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Raindrops on Roses

Lest anyone think I'm just all gloom and doom around here, I thought I'd mention a few of my favorite parts about this job so far. Also, we are making progress on both tummy time and self-soothing fronts. I have to remind myself fairly frequently that it's not necessarily mistakes that we've made that lead to this particular moment in time, and this particular moment in time doesn't necessarily point to more of the same in the future. He is right now what he is right now, and he'll be tomorrow what he is tomorrow. The last few nap times have started with only a few minutes fussing instead of the long, sweat-drenched, red-faced, vein-popping scream sessions, and just moments ago, he suffered five to ten minutes of tummy time with only a whimper or two while I rinsed out a surprisingly asparagus-scented dirty diaper. He didn't have his head up, but turned his head and sucked his thumb, apparently believing it to be another enforced nap and resigned to his fate. But he wasn't screaming! So we are moving forward, even when I think we're stuck forever in exactly the same spot. Patience, for me, is a virtue only when I know exactly how long I have to be patient.

So anyway, here's what I like:

The way he laughs when I wipe the poop off his butt. It really brightens up the entire dirty diaper experience.

The joy with which he thumps his legs down on the changing table when I take his diaper off. He lifts his legs high into the air, and I say, "Ka..." Then he slams them down, and I say, "THUMP!" And he grins his dimpliest grin, and we do it again. Ka-thump! Ka-thump!

The excitement with which he greets each new day. He's nearly always very happy to see us.

The wide-eyed wonder and foot-kicking excitement with which he, when we have run out of other things to look at, stares at the treasures that occupy our pantry. I can only imagine he is dreaming of the days when he will get to sample the mind-boggling variety of culinary delights like "tuna fish" and "multi-vitamins."

The way he now sucks his thumb. He hasn't figured out yet that if he curls all his other fingers down, he won't poke himself in the eye as much. He doesn't seem to think it detracts from the experience, though.

The number of "Awwwwww"'s he illicits from strangers, especially when he wears the Santa hat Grandma gave him when we go out jogging on a chilly morning. He's just so freakin' cute!

There are more, like the conversations we have, his tiny little voice and breath when he yawns or coughs, his enjoyment of the Giggly Wiggly Silly songs I'm learning, and others, but I'll have to save them up for the next time I start to feel like I've whined too much here. I mean, really; What's to whine about?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I know, when compared to deaths in the family, or kids with much bigger obstacles in their way, my troubles are pretty tiny. I've been trying not to write about it, because who wants to hear a guy whine about his baby all the time? But since it's all I'm thinking about, if I don't write about that, then I don't write about anything.

Is a four-month-old baby supposed to have this strong a will? He will NOT put up with this tummy time business. He will NOT put up with this silly self-soothing experiment. He has scabs on his face from rending his flesh. If he had teeth, he'd gnash them. And I probably shouldn't tell you all this when there are social workers in the audience, but yesterday, when moments before he couldn't keep his eyes open long enough to finish his bottle, within minutes of me reading him a book and laying him gently in his crib, he screamed so hard that now he has a blood spot in his right eye. He definitely his mother's boy. She didn't do it by screaming, but I've twice seen her, the morning after violent bouts of vomiting, looking like she'd been strangled, both eyes filled with blood. I haven't strangled the boy, I swear. Please don't take him away. But if you do, could you teach him to put himself to sleep before you give him back? And maybe to crawl? Thanks!

Oh, and four naps a day? Does that seem excessive to anyone else? The books say two, but he was taking four when I'd let him sleep on me, and he gets cranky and rubs his eyes, so he wants sleep, right? Until I put him down. So maybe I should work towards two? But he still acts like he wants to sleep every hour and a half to two hours. I tried to keep him up this morning through nap #1 so that maybe he'd sleep in the crib more easily for nap #2, but he actually fell asleep after five minutes of crying when I put him in the playpen for tummy time. I guess that means crib naps should be on the tummy, too, since it wears him out faster. When does he start speaking English, so we can discuss this?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

By the way, that's a reference to Animal House, Mom. It's a scene that has fun with the latent homoeroticism inherent in the macho pursuits of presumably homophobic men, though that has nothing to do with the theme of this post. At least I don't think so. I'll see if I can tie it as we go.

I've never lived a healthy lifestyle, at least not for sustained periods. I can pull out a healthy burst for awhile, but it always falls apart again eventually. I have lived as if excess were a virtue, and in my heart of hearts have even believed it to be so, at least in myself. I have taken pride in the fact that I can eat virtually anything, and do; that I can eat large quantities, and of spicy and/or heavy foods, without suffering heartburn or indigestion; that I can drink large quantities and not fall down unconcious; that I have eaten, and drunk, and smoked, and still came back to say, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" (Huh? Huh? See, I knew it'd fit in there somewhere...)

But now, as I'm getting older, I am in some ways thankful (thank you sir, may I have another?) that my body is providing me with a variety of ailments with which to say enough is enough. My knees creak and grind from all the extra weight that's been pounding down on top of them all these years. My lungs, already scarred from the pneumonia I had when I was a toddler, wheeze and strain from all the smoke I've poured down them, though I haven't smoked now in almost a year and a half. And now, I'm waking up in the wee hours of the night, not with a crying baby, but with heartburn.

An evil, quiet voice whispers "ulcer" and "cancer" in my ear when I'm all alone, and I know I should go to the doctor for a physical, but the stubborn part of me says that it's all just my body telling me exactly what the doctor would say: eat right and exercise. So I'm trying. I'm working on it. Then I can go to the doctor so that he can tell me everything's fine. Going to the doctor when you're unwell is just asking for trouble.

So did the title have anything to do with the post? Not really, I guess.

Anyway, I'm not very good with the diet part, but I'm working on it. I have been maintaining the exercise fairly well, at least for a few weeks. I jogged this morning without the boy for the first time, and I took two minutes off my best time. Was it the Crystal Method driving me to new heights? I haven't been using the iPod while jogging lately, since I like to converse with the boy as we go. The right music does seem to improve the effectiveness of a workout. Or was it the rain giving me new motivation? No, it was because I wasn't pushing a stroller. So the boy's been holding me back! I guess I should say that really the boy's been providing me with the opportunity to burn additional calories.

Hey, is that true? If I work harder for a shorter period of time, do I burn more or less calories than if I work less hard for a longer period of time? Surely if I walk three miles in 56 minutes, I burn fewer calories than if I walk and jog three miles in 43 minutes. But do I burn more, less, or the same, if I walk and jog three miles in 41 minutes? I guess it doesn't matter, because surely pushing the extra weight, even if it's on smoothly turning wheels, must burn more calories.

So help me out, internet. If you see me at a restaurant finishing a large portion of unhealthy food and washing it down with a giant beer, glare at me disapprovingly. That's always helpful. Not sure if it's me? Glare anyway. Fat people need to be public excoriated, just like smokers. It's the only way we'll learn. Thanks!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Bet I Can Make Your Baby Cry

It occurred to me today that that's my job these days: making the baby cry. I put him in his crib when he's still awake. I ruin a perfectly good play session by rolling him onto his belly. I pull his hair while making him wear a silly Santa hat. Maybe I can make some extra money that way. Is there a market for that kind of thing? I'll start my own show and sell it to The National Geographic Channel: "The Baby Cryer." No, that doesn't sound right. Baby Torturer? That sounds a little too graphic. Hassler? The Baby Hassler?

Anyway, do you want me to come over and make your baby cry for you? I'm just starting out, so I'll do it cheap. I bet I could do it with small children, too. Maybe teenagers. Maybe. They might be more likely to make me cry, though.

All in all, we are making progress on all fronts. Only 7 minutes of crying to prelude his current nap. No screaming! And he can go almost a minute and a half on his tummy before he gets mad now. And I'm learning 50 Giggly Wiggly Silly Songs so I don't have to sing him Christmas carols year round, though "Silent Night" does work pretty well as a lullaby, if I was, you know, putting him to sleep in my arms still. I'd write something interesting that has nothing to do with the Thumpity-Thump, but I haven't gone anywhere or done anything or talked to anyone in awhile. You're all still out there, right? Right? Or Am I Legend?

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Suspense Is Killing Me; I Hope It Lasts

By the way, that's a reference to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mom.

You know that moment? The moment when the cat spews an unbelievably vast lake of vomit across the carpet? You and your wife look at each other, and there's that long, long pause. It's a beautiful moment because it contains both the best and the worst in you. It's a similar moment to when you both know, without question, that the baby's just filled his diaper. You might step up and say, "I'll get it, honey." Or you might just wait. And wait. And wait until she says, "I'll get it, honey." Sometimes that moment is filled with the frantic mental calculations of which way the balance of the household labor is currently tilted; sometimes you'll claim it without a second thought. You just never know until it's over which version of you will show up.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tonight's Entry 100% Maudlin-Free!

Thanks for the encouragement, you guys. I was feeling tired and bleak, but as usually happens, I wrote about it, and he changed it. Today was a great day, so don't cry for me, Argentina. I got a momentary glimpse or two at what happy tummy time might someday look like. He gave me belly laughs for blowing raspberries on the bottoms of his feet. He helped me do some work in the back yard. He did some vocal experimentation with tone and volume. He achieved excellence in bouncing with his Fisher Price Deluxe Jumperoo, which, since cheapness counts, I got third-hand on Craigslist for $15. If you're keeping track, that's a $50 savings. The electronic music and flashing lights don't work, but that's practically an additional selling point to me. For his sake, I made a good-faith effort to fix the problem, but failure was not too heart-breaking. So all's well in Thumperland; sorry for getting all mopey, but that's what happens when I have to blog every single day.

More importantly, though, there's a question that has been pressing heavily on my mind every day this week:

Is that real money on Cash Cab? It can't be, right? I mean, they wouldn't really send people out into the streets of New York at two in the morning waving around a fan of hundreds, yelling, "$1300!" Would they? Are they just begging for some criminal mastermind, a la Robert DeNiro in Heat, to jack the cab?

So I once again consulted the great and powerful oracle, and for once am disappointed to find an answer. Not only is not real cash, but they don't get paid on the spot at all. They are mailed a check with the appropriate taxes withheld. So not only no cash in the "Cash Cab," but no instant gratification at all. No blowing their winnings at the club or bar or restaurant or comedy club they were already headed to. I'm sad, and it may have ruined the show for me. We'll see on Monday. It's up against Oprah, so it's probably safe, but there is always Jeopardy!, too. It's too close to call at this particular juncture.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So Tired

The Thumpster and I wore each other out today. I'm glad NaBloPoMo is nearly over, because I'm just not in the best frame of mind. I'm tired. I'm not confident about the new stages we're entering. We went with the theory that the first part of his life was the time to build his trust in us, but now I can't put him down without him fussing. He can't be by himself. We've ruined him! And the tummy time. Lord, the instantaneous, sustained, pure rage. He hates it and will never learn to crawl. Does he have to learn to crawl, or can he go straight to walking? And the self-soothe. I chickened out on the self-soothe thing the past few nights. I told myself it was because we've increased tummy time, we've increased bottle volume, we don't want to introduce too many changes at once. But mostly it's because I'm afraid I'll never sleep again. I like sleep. In fact, I'm going to sleep now. Nighty night!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oh Yeah, and the Self-Soothing Thing, Too

I forgot about the other item on our Action Plan: self-soothing. We've been putting him to bed when he's asleep, not when he's sleepy. Doc thinks it's time to start letting him learn to put himself to sleep.

So to that end, this morning, about the time he would usually be falling asleep in the jogging stroller on our morning walk-jog-walk, I put him in the playpen, surrounded him with toys, wheeled it into the spare room where the treadmill is, and proceeded to work out. For his part, he proceeded to scream. I periodically told him it was OK, and suggested he practice rolling over before he flattened his skull out any more. At twelve minutes, he stopped screaming and examined his hands. At thirteen and a half minutes, he resumed screaming. At half an hour, I gave up, conveniently using the screaming as an excuse to stop huffing and puffing.

When I picked him up, he continued screaming, but after about a minute and a half of forced pacifier usage, he was asleep. He stayed asleep long enough for me to shower, but now he's awake and staring off into space with the haunted look of someone with post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm really not looking forward to this self-soothing project.

So here's what I'm thinking. He now gets six five-ounce bottles a day, usually around every three hours, give or take from about 7:30am to 8 or 9:30pm. So that's thirty ounces. I wonder if we do four eight-ounce bottles a day, if we can get him the last one early enough in the evening to give us a few hours to work on the self-soothe thing before it's the wee hours and we're all resentful-like.

What do you/did you guys do and/or think about the different sleep theories? Cry it out? Co-sleep (that one's not gonna happen)? Let him work it out, but go in and soothe him every now and then, briefly and boringly? I imagine we'll be doing the last one. But putting him to bed after he's fallen asleep on us is so temptingly easy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If He Gets a Fever, We Can Use Him to Iron Our Clothes

Items on our Action Plan, as expressed by the pediatrician:

1. Work on head control and neck strength. Check! Doc later said he's ahead of the game in this regard. Score one for the exceptional baby! Doc also said, while watching Thumper work the chin-up bar, "Wow, he's really strong!" OK, maybe I'm lying about the chin-up bar. But Doc did say he was really strong.

2. Increase the tummy time. We've been letting this one slide because one, it makes him puke, and two, it pisses him off. I think the puking and the pissing off may be related. Doc says pissing him off is just fine because it'll make him work that much harder, and puking is perfectly normal. But then he goes nose-first puke diving, which is kind of gross. Oh well. More tummy time it is, pissed off puke-diving be damned!

3. Try to get him to turn his head when he sleeps. Huh? Do what now? He has to sleep on his back or he'll spontaneously drop dead, but the back of his head is getting flat, so he shouldn't lay looking straight up or his brain will grow funny. Uh, OK. He loves to look at his Mama. Maybe we'll put a photo of her on each side of his crib, so he can stare lovingly at her with his head turned. While he's asleep. With his eyes closed. Uh, right. Anyway, if we can go another month with it at least not getting worse, he'll probably grow out of it. Personally, I'm rooting for that one, because, well, micro-managing where he puts pressure on his skull seems like a futile exercise.

But other than that, Doc says, "He looks great. Congratulations, y'all!"

P.S., Thanks to Mrs. Rodius for saying, "You could write about the flat head thing," because I had nothing. Is it December yet?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Four-Month Torture Session

I already blogged twice today, but neither one of them really felt like they counted.

Today was Thumper's four-month check-up. I tried weighing him a couple of weeks ago and came up with 17 lbs., but as I've suspected, our bathroom scale is a dirty rotten liar that wants us to believe we weigh more than we really do. Turns out he weighs 15 lbs. 14 oz. For some reason, I find myself slightly disappointed. Apparently I want him to be exceptional in all things, and the 70th to 80th percentiles that he's in on all his measurements just aren't exceptional enough for me. God help this kid when he gets into school and is bringing home B's and C's. Sorry in advance, Thumper. Your daddy's kind of crazy and wants you to be a freakishly tall super-genius. Who can live up to that kind of pressure?

Sorry also, son, for letting them stab you again. And again and again and again. It was all my fault, and your mother had nothing to with it. She tried to save you, but I held her back. Pain builds character; it's a father's job to teach you that. Now go to sleep.

Breaking the Cycle, Part 2

And Half Nelson. I guess now I have to watch Waitress. Thanks a lot, Tracey. But then, then I'm done.


Holy crap! Matthew Baldwin actually left a comment on my blog! I'm as giddy as a school girl. That's totally better than watching Matthew McConaughey throw a football around.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Breaking the Cycle

Would somebody please tell me why I always add independent films to my Netflix queue?

Because you're an idiot.

Oh, yeah.

By the way, that's a reference to the movie Heathers, Mom.

Anyway, I'm swearing off independent movies forever. If it even mentions Cannes or Sundance, I wash my hands of it. It takes about six months for the bottom of my Netflix queue to percolate to the top, so I never remember why exactly I thought I would like a particular movie. I probably saw a trailer, or read a review by someone like defective yeti that said it was the greatest freakin' movie since Godfather II or something. But it never is. It's always, always, an interminably slow-moving character study of some quirky, greasy-haired, terminally depressed young man and the quirky folk which inhabit his environment. By the end of the movie, our quirky main character is just almost imperceptibly different than he was at the beginning, and I invariably wonder what else I might have accomplished with those two hours that usually turn into four because I watch, doze off, rewind, watch again, doze off again, rewind again.

Well no more! No more Station Agent. No more Lonesome Jim. I mean, I kinda dig Steve Buscemi as an actor, and Jim Jarmusch made Ghost Dog, so I can't fault him entirely. I've already banned any movie that describes itself as "wacky" or "romantic comedy;" from now on, the words "quirky" and "independent" are also out. Just so's you know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Parenting Increases the Sophistication of Your Sense of Humor

Mrs. Rodius and I derived a ridiculous amount of mirth this evening from the fact that the boy, while Mrs. Rodius was cleaning him up during a diaper change, pooped right into her upturned hand. And then he blew some butt bubbles in his own poo. Seriously, that is pure comedic gold right there.

In other news, with his brain no longer distracted by the slow machinations of his bowels, he slowly, deliberately, repeatedly, and with much concentration, wrapped his fingers around his Sassy Bumble Bites Teether (which, incidentally, Mrs. Rodius refers to as his "bumble fly" because she believes it to look as much like a butterfly as a bumble bee) and dragged it inexorably into his gaping maw. Huzzah! I looked out the window, but no giant black obelisk. Maybe this isn't as earth shattering as I first thought.

Friday, November 23, 2007

That Went Well

Thumper's first overnight travel experience went well. He slept all the way there and all the way back, he was a charming party guest, and he handled his first night in a hotel with great courtesy for the neighbors. But I think we should have given him a different nickname, like maybe "Shhh." He took his Thumper appellation a little too much to heart. He slept in a portable playpen, the mattress of which is a hard plastic sheet with a thin layer of padding over it. So while he was gracious enough not to cry and wake the neighbors, he spent the entire night slurping on his fists, talking quietly to himself, and thump thump thumping his legs on that plastic mattress. All night. Thump thump thump. By 7:00 a.m., it was clear he'd travelled some distance in the night that way. I wonder how many laps he did?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks, Y'all

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I hope yours went as well as ours. While not everyone that we would wish to be here were able to make it, those who could were all well-loved, and we made quite a spread of food. Biggest Brother wasn't sure we could deal with a combo meat platter of turkey, ham, and pulled pork that meant there wasn't a giant naked turkey carcass in the middle of the table, but new Thanksgiving traditions are as much fun as the old ones.

So here are a few things I'm thankful for tonight:

A healthy, happy baby boy. He's been a long time coming, but he came at the perfect time.

A beautiful wife who takes care of me and lets me take care of her. And puts up with my crap.

A loving family that all get along and enjoy each others' company, and the opportunities to get together and do just that.

A sister who reached out, and who is healing after a long and difficult year.

All of you who've read and commented and accepted me into this weird world of blogging and never made me feel like I didn't have a right or a reason to be here.

Happy Thanksgiving! Now bring on Christmas!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sometimes I Think

Thanks to Tracey at More Than a Minivan Mom for calling me a Thinking Blogger. I'm supposed to:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote

I'm pretty sure I've done #2. I tried to do #3, but I just couldn't get the little picture to display, though I think the link is there. I'm not sure I'm smart enough to deserve a Thinking Blogger Award.

And as Tracey mentioned, I just can't bring myself to play along with the tagging games. But there are two blogs in particular that make me think harder than I am accustomed. To. Accustomed to think. Ah, whatever. It is still Wednesday, right?

Anyway, I like to read detritus. because suttonhoo is way smarter than I am, and more well-traveled, and a better photographer, and has a better vocabulary, with artsier friends and a more sophisticated palate. In fact, most of the time I have no idea what she's talking about, but I smile and nod and say, "Oh, absolutely" so she won't know what an idiot I am. I mostly like her because she posts, like, every day. Even without NaBloPoMo. Or even twice a day. Every once in awhile, I can almost participate in a conversation in the comments section, and on those days, I feel wicked smaht.

The other blog that regularly makes me furrow my brow in an attempt to think is sweet juniper! I'd like to be Dutch, except that I didn't retain nearly enough of my college education and I have no interest in design and I don't get the appeal of institutional chairs and I don't want to live in Detroit. But he writes beautifully and sentimentally, and he's my SAHD hero when it comes to how much time and what kind of time he spends with Juniper. Before Thumper arrived, it was through Dutch's blog that I lived vicariously and dreamed of what SAHDdom would be like.

So thanks again, Tracey, especially for giving me a blog entry. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Hopefully Biggest Brother will let me use his computer tomorrow so I can maintain this entry-per-day fiasco. I'd hate to make it all the way into the twenties and then blow it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Talk Talk

Thanks, Mrs. Rodius, for blogging for me yesterday. I can't remember why in the hell I thought blogging every single day would be a good idea, but I really appreciate the tag team action. It's another item on the list of reasons why I don't deserve you. In return, I will now proceed to engage in what could conceivably be construed as teasing you. Rest assured it's all in the name of healthy academic discourse that hopefully makes people think. (Speaking of which, thanks Tracey. I hardly think of myself as "the thinking man's" anything, but I appreciate the nod. And I appreciate the tag more than usual because God knows I need the material. I'll be taking advantage of it tomorrow, I think.)

Rebel Dad talked about this Daily Mail article that references a study that says (which a bunch of qualifiers on it) that dads may not prepare their sons academically as well as moms because they don't provide "the same degree of cognitive stimulation..." It's sons, and it's toddlers, and it's entry-level school exams, and it's dads who spend 15 hours per week or more, etc. etc. etc., but that's what it boils down to.

When I mentioned it to Mrs. Rodius, she predicted my reaction would be to call "bullshit" on the study, because I work pretty hard at speaking to, singing to, signing to, playing with, and otherwise stimulating young Thumper, cognitively and otherwise. But honestly, when I read Rebel Dad's reaction, I thought to myself, "I could buy that." I guess it depends on how "cognitive stimulation" is defined. If it's talking, I'm leagues behind Mrs. Rodius.

Mrs. Rodius thinks aloud. It took me awhile to figure out that while it appears that she is talking to me, she is quite frequently talking to herself. She verbalizes her internal monologue because it helps her think. It used to flummox me when she would say things like, "I'm thinking that option A is best." And I would say, "I agree. Let's go with option A." And then she would proceed to go through all of the benefits of option A and all of the detriments of option B as if I had just said, "Option A? Hell no! What on earth would make you think that option A is best?" So I would say things like, "You know I just agreed with you, right?" And she would point out that she's not trying to convince me, she's just going over it again verbally to reassure herself that option A really is the best. The other day, I made the mistake of saying to her, when she caught me not quite paying attention while she talked, "You're not talking to me; you're talking to yourself. It doesn't matter if I'm listening." Because while that may be kind of a little bit true, clearly there are some things that definitely don't need to be said out loud.

And it's not just her. Our nephew is the only child of a single mother, and she's a mother who talks. A lot. Even Mrs. Rodius gets off the phone with her saying, "Man, she talks a lot." So she always, from the day the nephew was born, talked and talked and talked to him. And he grew into a toddler who developed excellent verbal skills very early. Now that he's a teenager, he doesn't talk so much, but that's a different story.

And I've seen SWSIL ("Social Worker Sister-in-Law") play with Thumper, and she talks and talks, and makes funny voices. I understand that each individual is different, but I could totally see how this could fall down gender lines. If "cognitive stimulation" consists largely of a running monologue, I readily admit I can't keep up with the women folk. The women folk, they likes to talk. Sometimes, Thumper and I just like to look and think quietly to ourselves. Hopefully that doesn't doom him to the short bus.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Guest Bloggin'

Mrs. Rodius here. The Man said "Go blog for me, would ya? I got nothin' to say." So here I am. I don't know that I have much to say either, but my Darling does a lot to help me get through my days, so I figure I can return the favor.

I'm probably coming down with a cold. That's what's on my mind tonight. And breastfeeding. I have rifled through the medicine cabinet and found nothing I can take because I'm breastfeeding. There are things I can take, but I don't have any of them here. I'll have to fetch something tomorrow. But I get weary from the amount of time and energy I expend pumping milk and thinking about pumping and worrying about what I eat and worrying about not pumping enough and, and...

It's all worth it to see how well little Thumper is doing (though now I'm worried that he will get this cold) and how big he grows and grows. I'm hoping he has his Momma's constitution. I'm usually really good at staving off illness. I firmly believe that a huge part of it is that I refuse to be sick. So, I'm hoping the little guy takes after me in that regard. I'm optmistic that I'll suffer a few days of annoying pre-cold symptoms and this will pass without incident.

But, back to my annoyance. Some germ has come along and is trying to make little Thumper sick, interfere with our plans for a nice holiday, and complicate my busy work load. Who can I blame? I'll be sure to watch for suspects at work tomorrow. I've already been reviewing the candidates with the hubby tonight. There are several people at work whom I know to not wash their hands after using the bathroom. I'm not a germaphobe, but this is an unforgiveable sin. If you don't have the mind to wash your hands after using the restroom, just how likely are you to wash your hands before making a batch of brownies to share with the office? You can bet I won't be trying any of those...

Most recently, I've noted that a co-worker and former EMT only pretends to wash her hands after using the facilities, rinsing her hands under the water for less than 2 seconds and using NO soap. This, from the lady who was prattling on and on today about how she is constantly using the Company provided anti-bacterial wipes to clean up the coffee area and her desk. Harumph!

Off my soapbox now and hoping I've filled in sufficiently for The Man who is tired and needs a break tonight. One last thought, though... There is nothing sweeter than that first-of-the-morning-so-glad-to-see-you or just-got-home-and-haven't-seen-you-all-day toothless, beaming grin of little Thumper.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thinking of You

Bad Kitty is having a rough time of it lately, and my love and thoughts and well wishes are with her. I feel kind of schmucky for whining about a cranky baby when things around here are relatively pretty great. I'm sorry she won't be able to make it to see her family on Thanksgiving, but I hope she knows her family will be with her any way. Stay strong, Bad Kitty, and I'm glad you've got that special someone close there to love and support you.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shhh... Here He Comes

I don't want to alarm anyone, but maybe we should all just watch what we say and try to steer this ship back into the G-rated waters. I think Thumper might be sneaking out of his crib in the middle of the night and coming in here to read my blog.

If I write about his digestive troubles, they go away. If I write about his cranky week, he shows up the next morning in full-on angelic mode, such that I thanked him several times and kissed him on his wittow fuzzy haid. So, clearly the only explanation is that he's reading my blog. Either that, or he's inherited some of Grandma's subtler intuitive powers.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The sheer number of variables is staggering. Why is he crying? What now? He's chewing and drooling almost non-stop; is it teething? Are those white nubs on top? No, they usually come bottom first. Well, usually doesn't mean always; they're probably teeth coming. But that's early right? It's probably not teeth yet. But he's spitting up a lot; is it belly pain? He's got some red spots that look like the beginning of diaper rash; is he irritated? Is he bored? Is he sleepy? If he's sleepy, why doesn't he just go to sleep? Is he hungry? Is it all of the above? None of the above? Four or five days of an unhappy baby, and I'm feeling all wrung out and desperate. You mean you people have gone through this, and multiple times, and still kept your sanity and stayed out of prison?

I suppose it's like marriage. No one can really understand how hard it is to make a marriage work until they're right in the middle of it. If they could understand, no one would get married. Not that it's not worth it, but when you're stuck in the middle of the hardest parts, you really do wonder. It certainly took me longer than 3 1/2 months to get to the "holy crap, what have I gotten myself into" stage on the marriage thing, though. But last week wasn't like this week. There's no reason to think next week will be like this week. Right? Somebody? Right?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In honor of Franklin and her beloved paper artifacts, here's a letter I wrote a month after beginning dorm life a couple thousand miles away from home. God, I was an idiot. And apparently I would've been happy to schtoop Robyn. And Mac wasn't nearly as cool as I thought he was, though [roommate] probably was. It's strange to look back at who you were and see someone almost completely different, and even weirder to see what's still the same. God, I'm still an idiot...


Mom and Dad,
As you say, I am pretty removed from the “mundane” things like T.V., but sometimes a show becomes a dorm event, like when Doogie Howser lost his virginity. Beverly Hills 90210 is a weekly event as well, though I can’t understand why. Like I keep saying, these performing arts people are a strange lot. The other T.V. show I see with any regularity is Cheers, which appears to be on somewhere, on some channel, 24-hours a day. Other than that, I don’t see much. How are the Cowboys doing? And the Broncos?

Things around here are going really well. [Ex-girlfriend] and I have given up trying to be lovers, and we’re putting our efforts into making a solid friendship now. That has removed a lot of angst and frustration from my life. Tonight I’m going to see my first Red Sox games (Fenway is within walking distance), and tomorrow [roommate] and I are going to the Museum of Fine Arts. He’s really been trying hard to help me understand what it’s like to be black in America, and the resulting conversations have gone well beyond interesting. He’s going to show me an exhibit at the museum that deals with racism in mass media. He also wants me to see one of his favorite places: a Buddhist rock garden that is open at the museum from late spring until mid-October. It is a permanent part of the MFA. I’m gaining more and more respect for [him] every day.

New subject: Boston is a scary town at times. Last night, Robyn (who is a very wonderful person whom I admire greatly) had a fight with (apparently her boyfriend) Mac. So at about 11:30 she decided to go for a walk. Alone. About midnight I went out looking for her and saw her walking down Beacon Street. I asked her if she was all right and if she thought it was a good idea to be out alone so late. She said she was fine, that she could take care of herself, and she made it very clear that she wanted to be alone. So I watched her walk away and then I went back to the dorm. A little after that, Mac went out looking for her, and I started feeling bad for letting her go. So I went out again shortly after Mac. I did not find Robyn, but a little while later I did run into Mac. Two guys had tried to mug him, but he had been able to fend them off through his knowledge of martial arts. He did, however, get cut on the arm by the straight razor one of the muggers had. When I saw Mac and heard his story, I got really scared about Robyn. We walked up and down Beacon, Newbury, and Mass. Ave. looking for her, periodically going back to the dorm to see if she’d gone home. By 1:00, I thought for sure that I’d killed her by watching her walk away earlier. Anyway, by 1:30, she had gone back to the dorm and everyone was fine, except Mac and his cut, which really turned out, after he washed off the blood, to be very minor. But I was so scared, especially when I thought how if it had been me or Robyn who had met the muggers, we might very well have ended up with a cut throat. One has got to be careful in this town.

So that’s the news from around here. Classes are going well, my writing is being well-received by my teachers, I did surprisingly well on my oral performance for the freshman seminar on Monday, and I’ve got my first tests in Western Civ. and French tomorrow.


P.S. How’s the golf game coming, Dad?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little Kids Scare Me, But Not Tool

I tried to think of something relevant or political to blog about today, but I can't think under pressure. Is it December yet?

Anyway, I need to get it done now, since the boy's asleep and I won't get home from work until after midnight tonight. I don't usually do weeknight events, but they were desperate for help. The median age of the usher staff is a little on the high side, and they're all terrified of Tool. So I agreed to help out. This will be the first time Mrs. Rodius and I do the downtown baby swap so that I can make check-in time for a weeknight event. Wish us luck! Here is what my night looks like. I'm new, so I doubt I'll get a security position, but on Sunday, when I told a fellow usher I was working Tool, she said, "You're big. They'll put in front of the stage to catch crowd surfers before they bash their heads on the barricade." Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maybe the Playground's Not Such a Good Idea

Scene: Bench near the playground. RODIUS and THUMPER sit on the bench.


ANGELIQUE: Let me hold the baby.

RODIUS: No, I don't think so.

ANGELIQUE: I want to hold the baby.


ANGELIQUE: [Sitting] I'll sit down. Now let me hold him.


ANGELIQUE: He's cute. What's his name?

RODIUS: Thumper. What's your name?

ANGELIQUE: Angelique. How old is he?

RODIUS: Three and a half months.

ANGELIQUE: He has a big head.


ANGELIQUE: And big eyes. [To older child on playground] Hey Donny! [Rolling her eyes] I mean Germy. [To Rodius] I keep forgetting the stupid nickname. [To Germy] Come here!

RODIUS: Jimmy?

ANGELIQUE: Germy. Like Germany. Germy, doesn't he have a big head?

GERMY: [GERMY runs over and sits so close to RODIUS that their hips touch.] Yes, he does. [GERMY puts his face nose to nose with THUMPER and pokes THUMPER in the belly.]

RODIUS: I'd rather you didn't touch him, please.

ANGELIQUE: [Runs her hands across THUMPER's head so his hair stands straight up.] Why not?

RODIUS: Because I don't know you. I don't know if your hands are clean.

GERMY: [Pinches THUMPER's cheek] I just washed them. [THUMPER begins to cry. GERMY runs back to the playground.]

ANGELIQUE: Aw, he must be tired.

RODIUS: He's hungry. It's time for him to eat. [Pulls bottle from diaper bag and begins to feed THUMPER.]

ANGELIQUE: I didn't know dads could feed babies.


ANGELIQUE: I made a joke. I didn't know dads could feed babies.

RODIUS: [Watching GERMY straddle a spring-mounted motorcycle and slam it back and forth into the gravel with his excessive weight.] Is he your big brother or your little brother?

ANGELIQUE: Big. He's twelve.

RODIUS: I thought he was probably older.

ANGELIQUE: I'm fourteen.

RODIUS: Really? You don't look...

ANGELIQUE: No. I'm eleven. I have a little brother who's four.

RODIUS: Where's he?

ANGELIQUE: He's at home. He's not allowed to cross the street. [Grabs THUMPER's hand.] He's still eating?

RODIUS: Don't touch him, please. Yes, it takes him a little while.

ANGELIQUE: He eats a lot. I only ate about half that.


ANGELIQUE: What do you mean?

RODIUS: I mean how old were you when you ate about half that?

ANGELIQUE: Me? Oh, I was just born.

RODIUS: He ate less when he was just born, too. Now he eats a little more. [ANGELIQUE runs off; GERMY returns to the bench.]

GERMY: [Poking THUMPER in the belly.] You gonna swing?

RODIUS: Don't touch him. No, he hasn't really mastered sitting up yet.

GERMY: He's mastered pooping though. And peeing. And sleeping. And crying. [He scratches at scabs on his forearm.]

RODIUS: What'd you do to your arm?

GERMY: Oh, I've been real itchy lately. I scratched it so it looks like that now.

ANGELIQUE: [Returning to the bench.] He's still eating?


ANGELIQUE: [Looking over her shoulder.] Uh oh. [To GERMY.] Time to go. Uncle Bud's coming.

GERMY: No he's not.


GERMY: Where's the bathroom? [Exit GERMY.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Stuff to Look At

My biggest challenge right now in being alone with the Thumperino hour after hour is finding new things for him to look at. He gets bored very easily, which is of course evidence of his staggering intelligence. He's extremely bored with every aspect of our TV room, and has even been known to begin crying the instant we walk into it.

Today, to give him new stuff to look at, we went to the park down the street. I strapped him into the Snugli and we walked all over, from the playground to the volleyball courts to the tennis courts to the baseball field to the creek. We watched squirrels chasing each other 'round and 'round an old pecan tree trunk. We listened to the birdies. We did as the signs advised and Watched for Snakes. We watched the same jogger go by over and over again. He lasted about an hour in the Snugli before fussing, and that may have been due to the red lines around his thighs when I took him out. Maybe I don't have it adjusted right.

Then we sat on a bench by the playground and chatted with a "Grammy" and her two little girls. She kept commenting on how tiny Thumper was, which I thought was pretty amusing since he looks downright gigantic to me. Thumper watched the little girls snacking with great interest while Grammy and I discussed the relative benefits and detriments to living in the neighborhood. Then Thumper and I discussed how much fun it must be to try to run all the way up the slide without sliding down, since so many kids try it, and how barefoot seems to be the best strategy. We got about another half-hour that way before he started fussing again, then we went home and he slept and slept and slept.

When he woke up, we went to Kid to Kid to shop for some sort of new toy to keep him occupied. They were all a little advanced for him, though. I thought very seriously about the Activity Saucer, but it was $40 used, and since cheapness counts, I thought I could do better. So we went to the pet store next door and looked at the fishies and birdies and ferrets. We also looked at the bunnies, but they didn't move, so I'm not sure he saw them.

The two biggest obstacles to us going out and looking at more interesting stuff than the TV room ceiling fan are:

1. The drive. He either fusses or falls asleep, unless the ride is under two minutes, which isn't enough to get us out of the neighborhood.

2. My guilt that I'm wasting time or screwing around if we go out and look at fishies at the pet store. I tend to stick close to home so that if he falls asleep, I can get stuff done. I felt doubly guilty that when he slept after the park, I let him sleep on my chest and napped a little myself. I keep thinking that if I'm not cooking or cleaning or doing laundry, I'm letting Mrs. Rodius down. But even though he's only 3 1/2 months old, just keeping the boy happy and stimulated is a full-time job. I'm going to have to work on telling that voice in the back of my head to shut the hell up when it starts telling me that walking around the park is just screwing around.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fun With Hats

When you worked on a Sunday and then kept the baby entertained when you got home, and you're tired, so tired, and just as you're going to bed you remember you haven't fulfilled your blog quota for the day, the easy way out is to point them at a cute baby picture or maybe two.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's Kinda Like My Senior Day, Too

It was a bittersweet Texas victory over Tech today. It was Senior Day at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, meaning that it was the last time the seniors on the team would get to play on the home field. It was my last game, too. I got free tickets through my previous job, which I kept, even though I quit in mid-October. If I was a truly ethical person, I would've returned the remaining tickets as a job benefit that I was no longer earning. But I am not a truly ethical person.

Several people have pointed out to me, when I mention this was my last chance at a UT game, that I could come back in a few years and buy tickets to take Thumper to a game. Are you kiddin' me? The face value on the tickets we used today was $85. Each. In a few years' time, they'll probably be up to $120, especially if Texas wins another national championship in the interim. And as I may have mentioned, cheapness counts. There may literally be no experience on the planet that lasts a few hours that I would pay $170 to experience, even, if St. Vincent the Young will forgive me, a Texas football game. Praise be to #10, forever and ever, amen.

Thanks to SWSIL and Big Brother for watching the boy for us. He apparently had a fabulous time watching his cousins in action. Their house has much more activity going on than ours does. He apparently slept almost not at all all afternoon long, but conked out nearly as soon as I got him into his pj's. I wonder if this means he'll (let us) sleep in tomorrow...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

No giant obelisks yet, but we're getting close. He snagged a toy today and put it in his mouth, but I kind of think I might have helped him. You know, subconciously. Every day, he's a little different. He is opening and closing his fingers more now; he twiddles them like he's signing fluently, but I don't think it's ASL he's signing.

Speaking of signing, we've started signing to him. What we've read says that four to seven months is the best time to introduce signs, so of course, we've started at three months because we're first-time parents and that's what we do. He probably won't start signing back until 9 or 10 months, but we're building a foundation here. I bought a baby signing book that I thought was a relatively good balance of blah-blah theory and picture dictionary; some were all one, and some were all the other. But it turns out I haven't read any of the theory, and the picture dictionary is a pain in the ass because it's broken down by category. There's a section on bath words, and one on food words, and one on play words, and so on. That sounds great, but it since it's not alphabetized over all, when you want to tell him you're going to go visit Aunt SWSIL, it makes it hard to find the sign for "Aunt" on the fly.

Heh. Aunt on the fly. I made a bug joke. Except that my time in Boston means that I'm just as likely to say "Ahnt" or "Ahntie" as I am "Ant," which pretty much guarantees Thumper will be a completely confused New-Southern-Englander by accent. He won't know his pralines from his prawns. Oh well. It'll make him seem more worldly that way.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Expect to See a Big, Black Obelisk in the Yard Soon

If sleeping a lot is a sign of impending developmental advancement, Thumper might wake up this afternoon playing the piano. If we had a piano.

Yesterday was the first time he noticed himself in the mirror. We like to look in the mirror, but he usually only sees me. Yesterday, he noticed himself and got quite excited. I wonder what goes on in his little mind? Does he recognize that baby as himself? Does he think Daddy's got some other baby, too? Or is he excited just to see something new that moves? It was the same reaction he had to finally noticing the kitty trying to horn in on his lap action yesterday, too. He stuck out his fist, so I leaned him forward to touch her. The touch didn't do much for him, but the sight of her was quite thrilling.

Over the past three days, he has been reaching out more and more. He points his fist at everything. He isn't opening and closing his fingers much yet, though he sometimes opens them to touch my beard. He points his fist as if it's an antenna, a feeler, or a microphone. With his left fist in his mouth, he points his right straight out, sometimes at objects and sometimes at nothing much at all. After he points it, he swings the right up in a slow motion arc and punches himself in the eye. Then he tastes the fist before starting again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Walking with a Jogging Stroller is Kind of Embarrassing

We tried out the jogging stroller this morning, and I needn't have worried about Thumper's balance and abdominal strength; I forget all these things have NASCAR harnesses now. The only one who needed abdominal strength was me as I spent an embarrassingly long stretch of time wrestling with the stroller to get it unfolded, while the boy expressed his impatience.

He seemed to like sitting upright and being able to see, though he was, as usual, asleep in about twenty minutes. He also got a lot more smiles from our fellow walkers/joggers/bikers, since they were able to see his adorable, drooly little face. He's always ridden reclined, facing backward, and with a sunscreen covering him in the other stroller. So now he knows what the hell a car looks like, having heard them roaring by over and over again. He still hasn't a clue what a doggie looks like, though. Or a leaf blower.

I've gained 22 pounds in five months, so I feel pretty good about the morning workout. I actually jogged with the jogging stroller. Not continuously for the whole three miles, but for three sustained sections of the three miles. I finished 11 minutes faster than my previous best walking time, so that's a start. I had to nap with the Thumpster this afternoon, though. I don't think I'll jog tomorrow. I think tonight I'll look through my yoga book and put together a routine that I can handle. I'm going to have to work my way up to that Rodney Yee dude. I'm not sure yoga's going to be quite as effective at knocking the boy unconscious as three miles of vibration. Maybe he'll doze off from boredom.

Monday, November 5, 2007

At the Moment

Somehow it took me a few days to notice that anniemcq tagged me. Where've I been? I don't know. Anyway, I'm glad she did, because Day 5, and I got nothin' to say.

Wearing: Shorts and a two-year-old free T-shirt from my previous employer, with a hole in it, but no baby vomit. Previous shirt o' the day was flooded with baby vomit about 6pm, which was actually a pretty good run, all things considered.
Hair: short, thinning, graying, and unwashed since Saturday. No baby vomit, though
Makeup: Uh, no
Last thing said: "I guess I'll go blog. I've got nothing to say, but I guess I'll go blog."
Last phone call: to the support line of the stupid, invasive, and utterly insulting wellness program for Mrs. Rodius' health insurance, because I couldn't log in to report my exercise and diet points for the month so far. But it's going to save us a couple hundred dollars a month, so rah rah wellness program, stupid, invasive, and insulting as it may be.
In your bag: diaper, blanket, onesie, socks, butt wipes, changing pad, hand wipes, pacifier, Ziploc bag, sample-size baby powder and lotion, baby sunblock
Plans for today tomorrow: walk, shower, dishes, laundry, and if the boy allows, maybe renew my Craigslist ad for audio transcription and try to come up with something interesting to blog about
Last thing bought: Groceries, but really I have to mention the $2 blazer at Thriftland. Have I told you about my $2 blazer? I got a blazer at Thriftland, and it only cost me $2! Seriously, $2!
Listening to: "The Hellbound Heart" by Clive Barker
Last showered: Saturday morning (although miraculously, I did shave both Sunday and today)
Looking forward to: Thanksgiving at Biggest Brother's house, with a large, but not complete, contingent of family
Worst part of the day: The screaming. Thumper woke from a too-brief nap just as I was elbow-deep in a food prep project, and he had no patience for me to finish. Then he was not happy to be back in the car this afternoon to go pick up Mama, because her car's at the body shop after she got rear-ended. He was doubly unhappy to be stuck in traffic on the way home again. Oh, the screaming.
Favorite person of the day: Mrs. Rodius, who took possession of the boy for the evening, including a bath. Ahhhh...
Thinking about: I'm not working enough hours to make enough money and the audio transcription work's dried up and I haven't made a web page to advertise yet and the database consulting work that was supposed to be coming isn't and I don't want to get a part-time job waiting tables or delivering pizza because that's going to be a lot of weeknight hours I'll have to work and I'll always be running and never get to spend any time with Mrs. Rodius but I really need to figure out how to make more money why can't we win the lottery oh yeah because we never play
Current annoyance: stupid, invasive, and annoying wellness program that's going to save us a couple hundred dollars a month in health insurance premiums
Current obsession: getting the boy to grasp an object. He's now pointing his fist at me and other objects, but he is not opening and closing his fingers in a deliberate manner. Soon, though, Parker the Penguin shall feel his crushing clench and shall be dragged into the gaping maw
Feeling: like a crappy Daddy for getting frustrated with the screaming

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Making You Feel More Secure


I watch the carousel rolling by
As I sit here inert in my clip-on tie;
Would I rather be part of their mechanical herds
Or waiting and watching and doing crosswords?
Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll find a job that is hard,
But today I'm content as a security guard.

an original poem by yours truly, April 1993.

In 1992 and '93, I was a security guard working overnight shifts in several different office buildings in downtown Boston. If you have an office, or maybe even just a desk, in a building that's "protected" by overnight security guards, your desk has been thoroughly searched for food, booze, and porn. Just thought you should know.

The overnight shift, depending on the building, was usually two guards. Every two hours, one guard would tour the building. We carried around a heavy, leather-bound clock; there were 18 keys located throughout the building. Each key, when inserted into the clock and turned, would make a mark on an ever-advancing roll of paper. The next morning, the supervisor would remove the paper and make sure that the tours were done at the specified times and all locations were marked. It was a thirty- to forty-five-minute tour, every two hours, and the two guards alternated tours. That left a lot of free time all night in a quiet, empty building.

When I started dating the future Mrs. Rodius, we spent night after night talking for hours on the phone while I was at work. She had to get up in the morning to go to school and to work, while I could go home from work in the morning and sleep all day. I don't know how she kept going, but as I believe I've mentioned, she's the world's most capable woman.

But the rest of the time, there were vast stretches of empty night to fill. That's when I started smoking regularly, because if I went outside for a cigarette break every hour on the hour, it broke up the time into manageable chunks. But there was still too much of it, so the other guards and I did what any normal people would do in that situation: we rifled through other people's stuff. I'm not proud of it now, but it was just a part of the culture then. So believe it. Your desk has been searched, and its relative value as a source of ill-gotten booty has been calculated and reported to all the other guards that might work other shifts. If your office has booze with which it schmoozes clients, it's been hit repeatedly, and it's been watered down repeatedly, too, to disguise the lost volume. It's a fact.

One of my buildings had a barber shop on the second floor. What could be better? It had candy. It had a years-deep backlog of Playboy magazines. It had TV's. It had perfect, reclining chairs for sleeping.

The only security guard that I ever knew to get fired was Phil. Phil got fired because he didn't write an incident report. The battery on a floor scrubber exploded, within feet of Phil's desk and within sight of a security camera, injuring two of the janitorial staff. The supervisor was incredulous. Phil didn't think it qualified as an "incident." Phil was wrong.

That company also had a contract with the New England Patriots. I was offered a position on the detail that protected the cheerleaders at each home game. About the only thing you really could do to get kicked off that detail was hit on one of the cheerleaders, but even so, the turnover rate was surprisingly high. It wasn't a complicated job. Mostly we stood around outside the practice bubble waiting while the cheerleaders were inside doing whatever it is that cheerleaders do before a game. Then we would walk to the stadium while the cheerleaders were driven over in vans. During the game, we stood on the field facing the fans and did two things and two things only: catch anything that was thrown at the cheerleaders, and be able to say with certainty which fan threw it. I never, in half a season of home games, had to actually do either one.

But what I did do was stand around in a yellow windbreaker and watch people get drunk. My favorite conversation with one of those drunk fans, back when Dick MacPherson was coach and being a Patriots fan did not mean quite what it does today, went something like this:

"So what are you gonna do?"

"I'm sorry?"

"You gonna, like, tackle me if I run out on the field? I bet I could out-run you."

"No, sir, I won't tackle you."

"Oh. I didn't think so. You don't look that fast. So what good are you?"

"I call over that state trooper and that state trooper, and they tackle you. Then they escort you out of the stadium. Then they charge you with felony trespass."

"Oh... Well, I didn't mean I was going to do it. I was just curious what you'd do."

"I understand, sir."

And thus, the world was made safe for one more day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

He's Such a Nice Boy

Through each of the matches on the undercard, the three little old ladies sat impassively in the mobility-impaired section. Occasionally they spoke to each other in Spanish monosyllables, but for the most part, they sat in stony silence. Finally, the main event was announced, and the champ entered the ring to hometown cheers.

One of the ladies leaned over to me and asked, "Is this the main event?" I said it was. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I did not bring my glasses. Which one is that?" I told her the fighter's name. "Oh," she said. "That one is my grandson."

"Well good luck to him then!" I told her. "Just watch for the one in blue." The other fighter was announced, and the fight got under way. Still the three ladies were still and silent, though her grandson knocked his opponent down in the first round and the crowd chanted his name in each of the eight rounds. It was a hard-fought fight, and close. At last the ring announcer declared a split decision; the champ lost.

"What does this mean for the title, split decision?" the grandmother asked me. "They share it?"

"No," I answered. "I'm afraid he lost the title."

Suddenly she was impassioned, gesturing wildly. "How can they do this?" she asked. "He works very hard! He's a very good boy!"

"It was a good fight," I said.

"Yes," she agreed. "Exactly! A good fight. They should share it!" And with that, the three little old ladies rose in unison and exited the building.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Princes Charming

I was sitting on a bench at the playground, sipping my coffee and chatting with Thumper about all that chaos and how it looked like a lot of fun and how that kid's crying because he fell down but he'll be OK, and how traditionally you're supposed to sit down on the slide but lots of kids do it lots of different ways. Thumper had his head tilted forward and his eyebrows raised; if he wore glasses, he'd have been looking over the top of them, like, "You gotta be shittin' me." A woman in a suit and high heels was running through the gravel with a little girl, playing tag.

"Yes, we're both princesses," she agreed with the girl. "Yes, let's go find our princes." At that moment, she turned and looked at me. She held eye contact for a half a second or so, then quickly turned away. I guess Thumper and I aren't quite prince material.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

1st Quarter Report

We've seen huge changes in our first three months of operation here at Thumper, Inc. The learning curve has been very high for both labor and management, but all have taken big steps forward in their professional development.

As parents, Mrs. Rodius and I have both grown into our roles well. I've noticed how much calmer I am these days when facing the screams of the outraged. In August, that sound sparked a strong emotional reaction in me, something akin to panic, but by the end of October, while I can still get frustrated and just want to hand him off at the end of the day, for the most part the emotional edge has blunted considerably. We're also getting more adept at understanding his communications and predicting his patterns. And we're very lucky that all in all, he's a remarkably happy baby.

And for his part, he's made huge advances. He's outgrown whatever digestive difficulties he had in the beginning. He can now chew on that fist at will. He can see all the way across the house now, and tracks movement without difficulty. He makes eye contact, and has discovered his voice. His favorite game is to say something and have me repeat it. We can go back and forth for ten or twenty minutes several times a day without getting bored. He hasn't had a meltdown on our three-mile walks in two months and sometimes even stays awake most of the way listening to me say "doggie doggie doggie car doggie car doggie leaf blower." He can hold that big, giant head of his up for longer and longer stretches before getting pissed off, and he even rolled over front to back a couple of days ago, although I think that was just a fluke resulting from being so top-heavy. He really does have a big, giant head, you know.

Goals for the second quarter: a more regular meal, nap, and bedtime schedule. Continued motor skills development, including grasping and manipulating objects and bi-directional rolling. Increased strength and balance so that the Snugli and the jogging stroller are more feasible options.

Oh yeah, and I was going to do product reviews. The battery-powered snot sucker is fabulous. We say pshaw to the bulb! And the cloth diapers are performing well. He's come close, but he hasn't overflowed one yet. The process gets a little tedious, what with the rinsing and washing and folding, but financially and environmentally, I think it's worth the tedium.

So all in all, a successful first quarter. We may have to work on our workplace safety, but I think the response was appropriate and effective, so no litigation will arise from the incident and no remedial training will be necessary as long as we implement new safety procedures to avoid similar mishaps in the future. Like not cutting his nails while he's awake.

Commencing BloPo in 3...2...1...

Thirty consecutive days of posts. Even weekends. Why did I think this was a good idea, again? Oh well. Let the drivel begin!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Twenty Worst Minutes of My Life

I just cut a hunk of skin out of my sweet, innocent, trusting baby boy's thumb! I was cutting his nails, so confident because I've never even nicked him in three months time that I decided I could do it while he was awake, piece of cake!

Oh, the blood, the screaming. I finally managed to get some antibiotic goop on it, wrapped it crudely in two bandages, and stuck a mitten over the whole thing. Now he's chewing on it contentedly. I've never said, "I'm sorry!" that many times in so short a period before.

Don't tell Mrs. Rodius. I'll tell her he got mauled by wild dogs, or something.

Happy Kissiversary!

I wasn't going to blog this one, and I didn't take a picture, because I was too embarrassed to make two Martha Stewart references in a single week. But what the hell. The kid's asleep, and I can't think of anything else to blog about while I'm not folding the laundry, so here you go.

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the first time Mrs. Rodius kissed me and I kissed her back, so Thumper and I decided to make a nice dinner, by which I mean that he slept long enough for me to make a nice dinner. After our morning walk, we shopped for the ingredients, then he commenced to napping. I made a baked turkey tenderloin, cranberry relish, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, a salad, and a cherry almond cake. It was all from scratch (except the pre-marinated Honeysuckle White tenderloin), and all from two different issues of Everyday Food, which in my defense, I subscribed to as part of my nephew's school fundraiser, and I didn't know it was a Martha Stewart publication until much later. I mean, it's not like I have a Martha Stewart fetish, or anything. Come on, people! Get off my back! It's not like I've started watching Oprah or anything!

OK, maybe I'm a little defensive about the Martha Stewart thing.

On the cake, in decorator icing, I wrote, "Happy Kissiversary" and drew a little heart. I wish I'd taken a picture of it, but maybe it's best that I didn't. My cake-writing apparently isn't that legible; Mrs. Rodius squinted at it and said, "Happy Kiss... Kiss... Kiss what?"

And since it all began with margaritas all those years ago, I made margaritas. They were nearly lethal, since I followed the recipe that said 3:2:1, tequila:cointreau:lime juice. Mrs. Rodius drank about a third of hers, pronounced it a little too strong, and made me drink the rest of it. So what could I do? I had to drink it. I mean, Cointreau isn't cheap; those were like $12 margaritas. I couldn't let it go to waste! And then I had to finish the last one left in the pitcher. I didn't want the lime juice to go bad.

Happy Kissiversary, Mrs. Rodius!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hasty Halloween!

I intended to nap with Thumper this morning, but then Martha Stewart came on the Today show and inspired me. Not that what I did even remotely resembles anything she was doing, but she filled me with a sense of my responsibility as a homeowner and a parent to participate in seasonal festivities. So Thumper and I made some good ol' fashioned homemade Halloween decorations, by which I mean he slept long enough to allow me to make some good ol' fashioned homemade Halloween decorations. I was ever aware of the naptime countdown clock ticking away in the other room, so they're a little hastily made. But since cheapness counts, they were made with materials on hand. Of course, I didn't make the sash around the door; that's left over from last year. We finished moving into the house two or three days before Halloween, and we needed something to signal our state of candy-readiness to the new neighbors. I made the rest of it though. I used the pad of construction paper I bought a few years ago when I made paper roses for Mrs. Rodius for Valentines Day. That pad didn't have any black in it, perhaps because that would be too depressing a color for young minds to handle, or maybe because the black's faded in the intervening years. So the cat and bats are more like a purply-brown color, but I don't think that detracts from their Halloweeny splendor. I might even do a real jack-o-lantern this weekend. You can't do those things too far in advance around here, as jack-o-lanterns take about ten minutes to rot in balmy Central Texas. We do loves us some roasted pumpkin seeds, though.

Hasty Halloween, y'all!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The automatic doors opened as I approached the grocery store, and a three- or four-year-old boy came tearing out at top speed, his cape flapping behind him.

"Don't run!" his mother shouted as she pushed their cart out after him.

But really, I ask you, can you let the boy wear his cape and expect him not to fly?

Today's Privilege is Tomorrow's Right

I told myself not to count on it, but sometime in the last three or four weeks, I guess I kind of did. My crankiness did spill forth when the boy woke up not once, but twice, in the wee hours last night. Sorry, Mrs. Rodius.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Week One in Review

All in all, a pretty good first week on the job:

We took four walks. I even got over my fear of a screaming infant in public and took him the full three-mile loop. He slept through the entire thing, but I could tell he thought the parts with the sand-and-gravel trails were a little unnecessary.

I did ten minutes of yoga; Rodney Yee may have been a little ambitious a choice, though.

We went on our first playdate with the Austin Stay-at-Home Dads. They seemed like a great bunch. The majority of kids were boys in the 2-year-old range, so in about a year, they'll be the kids that Thumper desperately wants to be like and follows all over the playground. There are members with kids Thumper's age, but we haven't met them yet. We'll try to make another playdate this week.

I got a couple of things checked off my List of Things I'll Get Around to Someday, like laying down brick under the gate, apparently successfully thwarting that damn dog that likes to crap in my yard. I also dug up the stupid footpath that used to run from the deck stairs to the shed. When Pops and I screened in that deck, though, we moved the stairs, so the path ran from a flower bed to the shed. And besides it was made of loose, uneven stones, so if somebody actually decided to walk on it, he would be in grave danger of spraining an ankle.

I worked my first event as a part-time usher at the 17,000 seat arena. It was a small, polite crowd, perfect for my first event. I worked the door, scanning tickets, and so help me, it was actually fun!

Thumper is staring at me. He fell asleep in light and noise, and woke up when I put him in dark and quiet. Go figure. I guess I still need to figure out how to fit this whole blogging thing in, what with the dishes and diapers and laundry and cooking and walking and whatnot. It's frankly amazing their are so many parenting blogs out there. How do you people fit it in??

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Now That's Funny

His first sustained round of belly laughs tonight. I stripped off his onesie before his bath and blew a raspberry on his belly, as I'm wont to do. Tonight, that was the funniest thing he'd ever seen in his life. Of course, he saw it yesterday, but apparently my comedic timing was off then. Tonight, I was on. That belly raspberry is pure, timeless, comedy gold.


It is a tasty fist, but wily. It teases him with just a lick, or a nibble, then darts spryly away again. It bounces back and forth, just beyond his range, laughing at him. He sleeps, resting up for their next game of chess, their next showdown. He has drooly dreams, the fist at his mercy. He chews and chews and chews.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

First Day Jitters

Because today is my first day on the new job, and since Thumper spent most of his non-eating, waking hours yesterday fussing, here are a few good things to remind me that not all days are like yesterday:

He wakes up smiling, like he's just so happy to see us again. Even when he's crying because he hasn't eaten in eight hours, he smiles while he cries.

He loves getting his diaper changed. Laying him on the table and ripping that first piece of velcro almost always makes him grin.

He is fascinated by watching me eat. I'm not sure what he's thinking, but he studies up like there's going to be a test.

He has slept through every night since he decided it was a good thing to do. One day he wasn't, the next he was, and he's done it every night since. Sometimes he's up late, and sometimes he's awake early, but still, no 3am feedings for a few weeks now.

And really, do they come any cuter?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Meet the New Me

There's something awkward about meeting the person who's replacing me. She seems nice enough, but over the next few months, she's going to be working at distinguishing herself from me. She'll get sick of hearing my name, or seeing my initials scribbled on documents. She'll snort derisively when she sees that I filed that document here, and not there. She'll notice every one of my typos and mistakes. She'll get a new desk because mine doesn't fit right, and besides, it's filthy. And that chair; don't get me started on that chair. For God's sake, why would he take the arms off of it, and what exactly is that stain anyway?

Well, good luck to her. She's started off right; she brought food. If you feed these people, they'll never get rid of you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

End of Days

Tomorrow will be my last day at the office. Well, sort of, because I'll be coming back for some part-time work in the evenings and on weekends, and there's a good possibility for some from-home database consulting work, too. But more or less, I'm two days away from the end of full-time employment and the beginning of full-time baby wranglin'.

A lot of people have been asking me if I'll miss it, and mostly I've been saying, "Hell, no." That's not exactly true. I like where I work. I like what we do. I like most of my co-workers. It has its unpleasant bits, as every job does. But for the most part, it's been a good time. It just hasn't been a meaningful time. While Mrs. Rodius has a career that means a lot to her, and is even in some ways an extension of her personality and an expression of what she wants to accomplish in her life, my job was (see how I'm already speaking of it in the past tense?) little more than a paycheck and a time filler.

There's kind of a sub-culture of workers hating this place and shaking their fists angrily at the grave injustices visited upon them by the higher-ups. It's really a pretty good deal, though, with good benefits and low performance expectations, as I think I've demonstrated with my heavy at-work blogging schedule. I think that kind of "this place is so messed up" feeling is probably pretty common to most offices. But it means that the other thing people say to me when they hear that I'm leaving is, "God, I hate you." To which the only appropriate reply, and I think you'll agree, is:

Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyaaaaaaahhhh nyah!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In the Beginning

anniemcq emailed me this morning to make sure I understood that she was not offended that I used her sweet, innocent child as the starting point to a story about anonymous sex in public spaces. She also expressed the desire to give my pea-coated, pipe-smoking, bearded nineteen-year-old self a hug. It occurred to me that my nineteen-year-old self could've used a hug, and it was a good thing he connected soon thereafter, despite himself, with the future Mrs. Rodius.

So, even though I should probably be saving up this kind of thing for NaBloPoMo, I thought it was the perfect time to tell the story of "How Mrs. Rodius and I Met and Didn't Murder Each Other."

She lived on the floor below mine in the dorm, which, rumor had it, had once been a mental hospital. There were strange inserts in the doors that I heard used to be removable for shoving trays of food through to the nutjobs. I wished I'd lived in the dorm across the street, which was dark, musty, and mazelike, with low ceilings and uneven floors. It was rumored to be haunted.

My first impression of Mrs. Rodius was that she was definitely out of my league. She was a sophomore, and I was a freshman. She's four months younger than I, but I had spent my first year out of high school taking only a couple of classes at the local community college before following my Brandeis-attending girlfriend to Boston. We maintained a long-distance relationship for a year after high school, but within a month of me moving to Boston, that girlfriend had dumped me. She liked me more when she saw me less.

Mrs. Rodius was confident. She had friends. She walked with authority, thumping her heels through the hallway like she had places to go and people to see. She had a boyfriend who wore a fireman's coat. It was the coolest coat I'd ever seen, much better than my pea coat and felt cap. I was jealous of him in his coat. He also had a job at the college radio station, and you can't get much cooler than that. I later found out, though, that the coat really was his best feature.

I was also in the same French class as Mrs. Rodius. I had two years of French in high school, but Mrs. Rodius had no previous French experience. She had taken Russian instead, a fact that made her even more intimidating. But she was defensive about the fact that she was behind the rest of the class due to her lack of previous experience in French. I was a little cocky because I felt sure my pronunciation was lightyears ahead of the rest of the class, what with my familiarity with Inspector Clouseau and all. Consequently, I thought she was a bitch, and she thought I was an ass.

Our professor was much amused by our interactions in class and decided always to pair us together in classroom exercises. He even took me aside after class one day and asked me to take her under my wing, as it were, and correct her pronunciation at every opportunity, thereby jacking up my ass factor considerably. Our annoyance for each other began to really blossom over the first few months of the semester into a deep and abiding dislike.

Over time, though, our dormroom proximity and my tendency to skip class for no good reason began to bring us together. We came to each other to find out what homework assignments we may have missed. She began to spend more and more time in my room, finding great pleasure in toying with one of my roommates who was, incredibly, an even greater ass than I. We discovered a shared appreciation for Captain Morgan and Diet Coke. She started treating my roommate and I very well at the sandwich shop at which she worked, one of a couple of jobs she held while paying her own way through school. I was impressed by that, because I was attending entirely on my parents' dime, as were most of the student body there. And for the most part, those who had it the easiest were achieving the least.

By the time the school year ended, we'd become good friends. She dumped the boyfriend with the cool coat, whose ass factor was also greater than mine, though perhaps not greater than my roommate's. With the free ride from my parents ending, I couldn't afford to come back to school after the summer, but I moved into an apartment with my roommate, who wanted to stay close since he would be returning. So by the next fall semester, I was working full-time and no longer a part of the college community, though I stayed close to it.

Mrs. Rodius went back to her parents' home for the summer and returned in the fall looking absolutely smoking. She'd worked out all summer, partly out of revenge against the ex-boyfriend, and she looked amazing. I honestly didn't realize that I was attracted to her, though. I wrote SWSIL (Social Worker Sister-in-Law) a letter telling her about my good female friend, and how nothing would ever happen between us because our friendship was too strong.

Five days after I sent that letter, the roommate and I were throwing a party; Mrs. Rodius was working late that night and would miss most of the party, but I invited her to come over after work for a margarita and a massage. I think she believes that this was me being smooth, but honestly, smooth was not in my repetoire. She came over long after the party had petered out. We sat on the couch and talked. Eventually, she asked me, "What would you do if I kissed you?" I think I said something like, "I'd probably kiss you back." And so we did. Now, fifteen years later, there's finally a third attendee at the party. I'm glad he's here, but it's strange no longer being alone on the couch together, after all this time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Welcome to the Big City, Sailor

Joe-Henry's pipe dream reminded me of the fall and winter of 1991. I was out of my parents' house for the first time, living in the big city, and trying to redefine myself. I was also reading Moby Dick. I think the half adventure novel/half 19th century whaling manual had a powerful influence on my redefinition: I began wearing a black pea coat, a black felt cap with a braided brocade above the short visor, and I smoked cherry tobacco out of a carved meerschaum pipe. I liked to sit along the banks of the Charles and stare wistfully across the water with the cold, wet wind reddening my bearded cheeks.

It seems to me now a laughably pretentious way for a nineteen-year-old to behave, but at the time it felt artistic.

On one such occasion, sitting on a bench on the Esplanade near the Mass. Ave. Bridge and puffing contemplatively on my pipe, I was approached by a middle-aged man on a bicycle. He asked me what I was smoking, and I told him. Then he asked me if I wanted a blowjob. It was an unexpected turn in the conversation.

Once I'd assured him that I did not, in fact, want a blowjob, he sat down on the bench beside me and we chatted for about a half hour. He expressed surprise that I reacted as I did. In his experience, his proposition was usually answered either in the affirmative or with violence or threats of violence. He apologized for being presumptuous but pointed out that I was an unaccompanied young man sitting in what was traditionally a gay pick-up spot. The playground a few blocks away, or more specifically, the bushes around the playground, was apparently a notorious location for anonymous sex. This explained why, some nights before, when I was walking through that same playground, a dishevelled and rather pudgy older man had emerged from those bushes, wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, and asked me how I was doing. He maintained eye contact for, to me, an inappropriately long moment. I told him I was fine and kept walking.

As we sat on the bench talking, my new friend told me that he had, for ten years or more, taken nightly bike rides along the Esplanade, offering oral sex to mostly lonely Boston University students. He was married, with two children. He did not consider the students to be gay; they were just lonely and in need of a little release. He did not consider himself gay; he never asked for or expected reciprocation from the students. It was just something he liked to do. His family had no idea what his true hobby was; they just assumed he was out for the exercise.

So we chatted awhile. He pointed out the giant, erect penis of the Bunker Hill Monument, proudly overlooking the city. Eventually, he got back on his bicycle and prowled slowly along the riverbank towards B.U. I got up, too, but not too quickly. I strolled carelessly back up to the lights of the streets above. After that, I started doing my artistic brooding elsewhere.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Little League Psychic Blacksmiths

Little Thumper had quite the busy weekend. Judging by the number of hours he spent sleeping yesterday, I think we may have overstimulated the boy on Saturday. Either that, or the sleep, combined with the vast quantities of breastmilk and formula he's consuming, mean that he's going to be four feet tall by next weekend.

First, Grandma and Grandpa stopped by Friday night to lay eyes and hands upon him. They seemed satisfied by his progress so far and generally agreed with me that he is the cutest baby ever.

Then Thumper and I gave Mrs. Rodius a chance to get some work done in preparation for her return to the office next week. We began by spectating at his cousin's baseball game. Grandma immediately declared that I was holding him wrong so that she could take possession of him. He wasn't quite sure what to make of the enthusiasm of the superfan sitting next to her, but he was delighted to see Auntie SWSIL again. She makes intriguing and unpredictable noises that sometimes make him laugh and sometimes make him ponder their subtler nuances of meaning. All in all, he was an excellent sports fan and caused Big Brother to comment on his remarkable portability.

After lunch, we accompanied Grandma and Grandpa to the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo. He fell asleep on the way over, and slept through the entire experience, despite what Grandma described as the dissonant energy filling the space. It made her sweat, but Thumper was undisturbed. As he slept, he had a brief chat with Grandma's coach and book collaborator. He told her that he has a lot of energy in his hands that he doesn't know what to do with, he sometimes gets headaches and finds it soothing to have his hair stroked, and he doesn't like for people to mess with his feet. We three adults also had photos taken of our auras; not surprisingly, mine was burnt orange. Coincidentally, we then went home to watch the Red River Shootout, which is no longer a Shootout because that's too violent in this age of terrorism. I think now it's just a Rivalry.

Grandpa, Thumper, and I watched the game while Grandma forced Mrs. Rodius to take a break and actually do the clothes shopping she wanted to do before returning to the office. This was the first Texas-OU game in four or five years that I didn't actually attend, but I didn't really miss it. I've done it enough now that the anticipation is outweighed by the dread of the drive, and the parking, and the jamming myself into the undersized and antiquated stadium with all those other folks, not to mention enduring the brutal ridicule of those nasty, nasty OU fans after a loss.

Watching the game was fun, but a little exhausting. I have a whole new respect for what Mrs. Rodius has accomplished by staying home with him all day every day these past two weeks. I didn't realize how much energy it takes to keep a tiny, relatively immobile lump entertained like that. When I mentioned to Mrs. Rodius on her return that Thumper had been a little fussy, Grandpa commented that oh, he wasn't that bad; he only fussed for a half hour or so. Yeah, he only fussed for a half hour or so because I spent the entire three hours or more walking, bouncing, shifting, singing, playing, making faces, and otherwise accomodating his five-minute attention span. Mrs. Rodius and I have decided that he gets bored very quickly and frustrated very easily by his lack of control over his own body. We have also decided that this is evidence of his remarkable intelligence. But man, I'll be glad when the boy can hold a rattle and shove it in his mouth for five minutes without demanding that I dance for him! Dance for him now!

So Thumper conked out later that evening and slept all night again. And slept on the way to breakfast, and then through breakfast. And then most of the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, we went to a birthday party out in the heat at Pioneer Farms, a volunteer-staffed working farm that operates as it would have in 1851 (excepting the hay ride driven by the Kubota front-loader, and the more-or-less working toilets in the main house). We thought it was an odd choice for a nine-year-old girl's birthday party, but another of Thumper's cousins tore through the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder collection and decided Pioneer Farms was the place for her. The blacksmith was a big hit with the kids, but Thumper gleaned no educational value from the experience, as he slept through almost all of it. On the way home, he did cry out his indignation at waking and finding himself in the car yet again, but he soon wore himself out and slept the rest of the way home. He stayed awake through most of the evening, but was rather more subdued than he had been the day before. He went to bed around 1am, and was still asleep when I left at 7 this morning. I think Mrs. Rodius is in for it today.

So good luck, Mrs. Rodius! Here's hoping that his motor skills take a quantum leap this week before I become Chief Operating Officer of the Childcare Division!
Related Posts with Thumbnails