Initial Notes on the Dad Process

  1. Changing diapers is not gross. I'm pretty sure this is some kind of deep-seated instinctual reaction to prevent new parents from screaming and running away from their new child as soon as they see the poop. Instead of seeming gross (because, objectively, it totally IS gross), it just seems like an interesting challenge, like playing Operation really fast.
  2. The hardest time of day is from about 10pm - midnight. Your body starts telling you that it's time to get ready for bed but your baby is telling you that, in fact, it is time to feed, change, and try to get her to stop crying.
  3. For something that's been around since mammals showed up at the party 300 million years ago (give or take 100 million years), getting breast-feeding going is surprisingly tricky. As B puts it, it takes a village to breast feed (i.e. both of us futzing with Little Croc to keep her from falling asleep after taking a few swallows.)
  4. Swaddling. Totally. Works. I am amazed about this.
  5. To quote Fight Club: "No. You can't die from insomnia." (reply:) "Hey! I'm in pain here!" (Technically, it's not insomnia if it's someone else keeping you from sleeping, but you know what I mean...)


Baby! Yes, I Said Baby!

Just a quick note to make it official: B's and my daughter, CJB (henceforth: Small Crocodile, owing to the noises she's been making), joined the party this morning at 8:50am. Everyone's doing well. She is so cute I've been falling over.

P.S. Pics of the wee one are online on my flickr site. I promise not to be one of those people who only posts pictures and writes posts about their kid, but let's be honest: said kid will dominate the airwaves for at least a few weeks.


Beach Town

You should already know who these kids are.

B and I went for a two-days-before-baby walk down to West Cliff this morning. It was nice and quiet and it wasn't hot out yet. We've been walking from our apartment down to West Cliff ever since we moved here, coming on four years ago. Monterey Bay is beautiful and as often as not we spot otters. We are otter spotters. It's what we do.

For some reason, this morning's stroll made me (finally) realize what it is that's always pissed me off about SC. It's the fact that it has a lot of the qualities that I love in towns and cities, but they're all undermined here (bear with me...) SC is a shabby, weird, funky little place with a lot of interesting people and an agreeable amount of randomness. It's unique and totally unlike the static strip mall hell of most of the rest of urban California. But, here, the cost of living is batshit insane (A.) and there's just enough constant, ongoing violence that you can never really feel safe (B.)

For the first two years, I tried my hardest to like it here. In hindsight I did so because I like weird, peripheral places and I really wanted to like the SC variation on that theme. I threw in the towel, though, because the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is 1600/month and because people get shot while they're riding their bikes down the street. This situation, it sucks, because if you could afford it and the shootings and stabbings were fewer and further in between, this would actually be a pretty neat town.

Anyway...I'll check in with the internet after the kiddo arrives. Until then, mes potes.


So Long and Thanks for all the Citations

I finished my dissertation. I've got two of the required signatures on the required 100% cotton acid-free paper copy, with the third coming on Sunday. I should be able to turn it in on Monday. This is next week's schedule for me:

Monday: turn in dissertation.
Tuesday: prepare for baby.
Wednesday: baby.
Thursday until the end of time: parenthood.

As weeks go, it'll be an eventful one.



People who have had babies already know this, but this process is insane. Observe:
  1. Again, because humans are bipedal, the whole physical system is set up to clench tightly and hold on to the baby so that it doesn't fall out. This is why labor is so much more difficult for humans than for other mammals. I do wonder about chimps, however.
  2. There are about, oh, ONE MILLION things that can go wrong. Wrong with the baby in utero, wrong with the mom's health, wrong with labor itself, etc. It's one of those deals in which you have to play the smart angles and also just accept that luck has a lot to do with it.
  3. So we've had some complications. But it's ok. The kid's ok. B's ok. It just hasn't gone according to plan, even considering how loose our plan was to start with.
  4. One way or another, a baby will arrive from its production facility at the end of next week.



As you probably know, there is a great big cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano engulfing just about the entire European subcontinent right now. On the news last night, Brian Williams reminded me (personally) of one of my favorite natural phenomenons, right up there with when bunnies clean themselves with their little front paws: VOLCANO LIGHTNING. Something about the charged particles in the air from eruptions often results in lightning storms generated by the VOLCANOES THEMSELVES. HOLY CRAP, you guys!

Since lightning in erupting volcanoes is about the most heavy metal thing, ever, I made a quick mock-up of what it must have looked like when Lemmy Kilmeister originally emerged from an erupting lightning volcano back in 666 BC:*

(The picture is actually of Lemmy a few moments later, as he descends into the jungle to stalk warm, living prey.)

* For the horrendously ignorant, Lemmy is the lead singer and bassist for Motorhead, still the best metal band in the world after over 30 years of touring and about three tons of hard drugs consumed to date.


Flaws in my Methodology

If I could do it all again...
  1. I'd carefully read the relevant sections of the Turabian style guide and be equally careful to get volume numbers from the journals I'm citing as I go.
  2. I'd fill out a bibliographical entry for each source so that I don't have to do it all at the end.
  3. I'd read up on French capitalization rules and memorize them before I started citing things in French.
  4. I'd spend my time at the BNF in Paris with periodicals that are harder to get in California.
  5. I'd remember that the French word for interview is "entretien" and do a lot of searches using that word. I'd do this before the last year of work on the dissertation.
  6. I'd do shorter summaries of Gorz's books.
This is all by way of noting that it turns out I didn't have a lot of extra time on my hands. I've been schlepping citations for weeks now. I'm trying to get the thing done by Friday. Pray for me.


Playing to the Sound Guy

  1. Just got back from a French history conference in Arizona. I ended up presenting to an audience of...two. Eight people who had been there left after the first paper (by one of my co-panelists.) It reminded me completely of playing shows when no one shows up and you end up performing for the benefit of the sound guy and, maybe, the bartender. I still met some nice people and had an appropriately surreal time of things (the American southwest is bizarre), so whatevs.
  2. Speaking of: Phoenix is like a huge parking lot in the desert, criss-crossed by completely straight sets of roads. One of the highways I was on could have been built following a laser.
  3. I flew on Red State Airlines (tm). On landing, the head flight attendant performed a lengthy oration to any military personnel who might have been on the flight, to rapturous applause. It was complete cheap-shot blackmail; like every other lefty, I "support our troops" completely in the sense of wanting them to be at home rather than fighting stupid wars, and I resented the implied "if you don't clap, you're some kind of traitor" move on the part of the flight crew. It reminded me of politics during the worst of the W years. She also reminded everyone to enjoy the NASCAR event that weekend.
  4. But today it's raining back in SC, and that cheers me up.


Sunglasses and other Essentials

That's a shot of me, my nephew K, and our homie D at the baby shower the other weekend in Novato.

If I could time-travel, I'd skip the usual visits with dinosaurs, Abe Lincoln, or even Sherilyn Fenn c. 1990 and instead go back to visit younger me and tell him to get a few essentials sorted out early. Only now, at 31, do I really understand that you can't get through life without a few things:
  1. A good pair of shades.
  2. A cool leather jacket.
  3. At least two good hats.
  4. A laptop.
  5. A decent watch.
  6. Slip-on Vans.
Also, you've got to know, definitively, what size jeans you wear and what colors you look good in (32/32, browns and grays, definitely not red.) After you've got that figured out, you can proceed with the rest of your life.


Like a Ball-Peen Hammer to the Knee

My major revelation of the last few months is that no matter how hard you try, you can't store up the nice things when they're happening. At first, I thought about it in terms of the sleep and time I get and have as a "PhD candidate" and that I will no longer get or have when I am a "new parent" in about a month.

But today I arrived at the new version. I haven't had to look for a job, not really, not a normal job, for six years. This isn't gloating; I've had to do lots of crazy shit as a grad and a teacher, and I haven't had much money, either, but it has been pretty amazing not having to go through that agonizing process of looking over the (all too short) columns of available positions muttering "nope...nope...not that one, either, no....maybe, wait, no...no....no...." I'm casting pretty close to an Oregon-sized net right now, and what little silver job-fishies are out there are still easily evading it.

Tomorrow afternoon, I think I'll switch to a crowbar and call it even.