Thursday, March 29, 2007

cigars and carriages do not mix

I've got a huge, huge stash of cigars, all of them dating from my pre-marriage days when I thought nothing of spending a couple of hundred dollars to buy a few boxes of smokes. I've got them all in a cooler converted to a humidor by means of some oasis-foam and distilled water. When I bought most of them, I was smoking about two a day, maybe four a day during the weekend. Yummy cigars, I love them all. As every bachelor's friend, Rudyard Kipling, wrote, "A woman is only a woman / But a good cigar is a smoke."

Of course now I smoke about four cigars a year, maybe. Since I gave up cigarettes, I just don't enjoy nicotine like I used to. Anyhow, today seemed like a perfect chance to try something I've had on my mind for a while... it's a beautiful day, why not smoke a cigar while pushing the boy in his stroller? Why not indeed? He'll have to learn about "Do as I say and Not as I Do" sooner or later anyhow, I thought.

It started off great... walking, puffing gently, talking to the boy, enjoying the sun, enjoying the horrified looks from the minivan-driving moms as they drove by. And then a little puff of wind came... blew a hunk of ash that landed on the boy's foot. Totally cool ash, no danger -- don't worry! But I stopped and said, OH. That's why Daddy's don't smoke cigars when they walk the baby. Because it's a DUMBASS THING TO DO.

So I tossed the cigar, 98% unsmoked, into the gutter and said "Dumb Daddy, won't do that again." Then I pulled the boy out of the carriage and carefully brushed all of the ask from his sock and cleaned all the ash out of the carriage. Dumb ass @$#@$ daddy.

Sooner or later I'll be rid of all those cigars. Until then they just tempt me. Here's the Kipling poem in it's entirety. I read it and chuckled at my lost bachelorhood and then thank the gods that I have a REAL family, not one consisting of cigars.


The Betrothed, by Rudyard Kipling

"You must choose between me and your cigar."
-- BREACH OF PROMISE CASE, CIRCA 1885.


Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas -- we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.

Maggie is pretty to look at -- Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away --

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown --
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty -- grey and dour and old --
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar --

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket --
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila -- there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion -- bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent -- comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion -- to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stums that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider anew --
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba -- I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!

Monday, March 19, 2007

he loves his daddy

It's odd, but I know that's true. He loves me, I can feel it, I can smell it, I can see it. When I went to my mother's to pick him up he was half asleep, his eyes fluttered open at the sound of my voice and I said, eh, he's asleep, I'll get him in a few minutes and I walked away and he SHRIEKED. I knew he just wanted to see me! I picked him up and felt the tension ease back out of his body. He's so cute and tiny and this love affair is totally mutual.

I didn't know having a son would be so much work; such hard work... but I also didn't know it would be so awesome. It's really the most blessed thing ever.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kangaroos!

TB managed to stay awake all the way to the zoo today and, as promised, got to see the kangaroos. I took him out of the stroller and held him up so he could see and they were even cooperating by putting on a big show. They were boxing, scratching each other's asses -- you name it, it's a cool kangaroo thing, they were doing he. It's hard to know how much the boy-o notices... he looks at stuff, but the wide world is quite overwhelming for him and he mostly looks with this big eyes like "holy shit, I'm glad my Daddy is here."

I keep telling him over and over again, "hey dude... this is called 'the world' and it's where we live, there's a never-ending supply of cool stuff to see and do here -- check it out!" I love him so much, it freaks me out that someday he's going to have his first memory, like 40 years from now, he'll remember going to the zoo or something -- I mean, not anytime soon, I dunno when your first memory is but probably not for a year or so -- but WOW it's unbelievably awesome.

That's my semi-coherent chunk of amazement for the day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Walking

So my son and I have decided that every day the weather permits, we're going for a walk to the park and the zoo. We have a zoo pass and everything. This is day two and we've made it each time. Here's a few observations.

  • The Legend of the Stroller is Very Hard Core. No matter how hard TB tries to stay awake, he falls asleep before we reach the park. Today I told him if he stayed awake he'd get to see Kangaroos. He fell asleep anyhow but I trust he dreamed of Kangaroos, because now he's in his swing telling his elephant-friend the whole story.
  • Park-mommies are terribly unfriendly. Maybe it's because my son is obviously too small for the zoo and I'm being a terrible daddy by bringing him and they know and disapprove. Maybe there's been a series of murders committed by a goateed dude with a baby. Maybe it's because we have the cheapo-stroller attachment for the car seat not the full travel-system. But my winningest grins get nothing.
  • I'm in bad bad shape. I'm actually tired like I just got exercise.
Ok, that's enough for now. After I eat we're off to the Nissan dealer to get a replacement headlight frame for the car. I have to get it new since no junkyard I was able to reach had it, it's apparently specific to 2000 and 2001 sentras. And oddly, one place quoted me $125 for a new aftermarket part, another place $165, and the Nissan dealer wants $110. I even read off the VIN number and he verified it.

Friday, March 9, 2007

WARNING: Mothering Magazine is PURE EVIL

Warning, Fathers everywhere:

DO NOT, upon pain of her sanity and your peace of mind, allow your wife to read this month's issue of Mothering Magazine. Seriously, if you have it at your house and she hasn't gotten it yet, go and take a razor and remove page 33/34.

My wife came home in tears from it. There's an article about a stillborn baby -- one of those therapy parts where the mommy celebrates the dead child's birthday and still talks about her as if she's alive -- sad, sad. Bad enough that they'd even publish it, period. So my wife skipped it. On the next page is a LARGE black and white photo of the mother and father cuddling the dead baby. It's so terrible, even a tough bastard like me got sad when I saw it.

I sent them a pissed off email, but I doubt it will amount to much. This magazine should be on the restricted list or something... labeled DO NOT SHOW TO EMOTIONALLY VULNERABLE WOMEN, ESPECIALLY MOTHERS.

Here's the rant I emailed to the Managing Editor, the Publisher, and the Circulation Manager:



To: peggyo@mothering.com, melissac@mothering.com, johnm@mothering.com
Subject: Please cancel my subscription and refund my money

And apologize to my wife.

Let me explain. My wife, a new mother with a three month old son, asked for a subscription to your nice, happy magazine as a Christmas present, so she'd have some happy and uplifting reading material for the train ride home from work.

Let me tell you a little about us. I'm a stay-home Daddy. I walked away from a big-time job to become one. My wife has almost killed herself to provide my son with sufficient breast milk to consume only her milk while she's at work -- we have a dedicated freezer for the stuff. We're cloth diapering, organic-food-eating, Maya-Wrap wearing, attachment parenting hardworking people who found your magazine at Whole Foods. We're good people.

This is my wife's first week back at work. It's been tough for her. So Wednesday night she was happy to get your magazine in the mail, a nice happy uplifting thing to read on the train to get her in the mood for some quality boobie-time with our son.

She opens it up, starts reading. Gets to page 33, realizes on the second paragraph that it's a story about a woman with a stillborn child. Says, "wow, i can't believe they'd publish a sad story like this in the magazine, I can't deal with this, I better turn the page."

Turns the page.

Is confronted with a giant picture of the couple and their dead baby. Starts crying, sobbing. She's still scarred! WHAT KIND OF PSYCHO'S WOULD PUT A PICTURE OF A DEAD BABY IN A MAGAZINE FOR MOTHERS?

Can you imagine a third-trimester lady's reaction? GOOD GRIEF. We have a healthy baby and both of us are shocked. It's just the saddest, most terrible story in the world and if people want to tell stories like that, as therapy, fine -- but a magazine for mothers is not the place.

My wife is seriously scarred and cannot get that image out of her head.

You can keep your magazine; you've lost us and our spending dollar. We don't need this kind of suffering in our free-time happy reading.

I would like a refund of my subscription fee. You can send it along with your apology to my home address.

Thank you for your attention

mayan women -- 100% smarter then Daddy

I've been fighting a mostly-losing battle with this @#$@# hippy crap Maya wrap for about three months. I've watched the DVD twice, and every time I get it on it feels so crazy and uncomfortable. I've almost come to the conclusion that this technology is just not designed for people of Northern European descent. We have a little baby-bjorn style frontback carrier that he likes being in a lot, but it kills my back to the point of being crippled after 20 minutes in it, so that's off the list. I'd really like something to wear him around so I can do important things like clean the kitchen without having to wait for him to nap.

So I went for round thirty with the Maya wrap and DVD. I finally broke the code and got him in the thing -- looked totally comfortable, he was cuddled up against my shoulder just the way he likes to be held anyway, with my left arm just balancing him, the weight on my right shoulder, my right arm free. I was so excited I ran upstairs with him to take a pictures of us looking like a maya wrap model success story. Two minutes later, tears. Screaming, crying, I tried like five different ways to wear it, nothing was working, took him out, threw the wrap across the room with a stern "bad wrap," tried to calm him, nothing. I was like that goddamn thing ruined my boy! Then I realized... he's hungry.

Five minutes of screaming while the bloody dingblasted piece of crap bottle warmer INCHES the milk towards the appropriate temperature. I swear, if I'm ever on death row, I want my last five minutes of life to be holding a screaming hungry baby waiting for milk to warm. It's the slowest that five minutes will EVER pass.

Now he's happily asleep.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

cold days

It's really too bleeping cold to go outside with a three-month-old, but I just got so stir-crazy I had no choice. So Thorsbaby got bundled up with a fleece onesie pajama thing over his regular little warm winter footies, put a hat on him, put him in the stroller and wrapped a blanket around his torso.

Then I put just a light fleece on over my tee-shirt. I figured we'd stay out until I got too cold, and since I'm not dressed as warmly as him, that would be a good threshold. We walked around the block for 20 minutes then came inside. I was freezing, he was quite toasty and snug!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

hail to the swing!

This is the time of day when Mommy would breastfeed the little boy until he falls asleep in a drunk breastmilk haze. I gave him four or five ounces of boobjuice in the bottle, but he wasn't showing much sign of sleeping. Does it make me a bad Attachment Parenting Daddy to put some music on, put him in the swing, and get him to sleep that way?


Do I care? He's happy as a clam and sleeping his ass off with the Grateful Dead on the stereo. Works for me, and when he wakes up he's gonna get so many hugs and kisses he won't know what hit him.

Monday, March 5, 2007

day 1 recap

It was only really a half-day, because TB was at his grammy's all morning while I worked from home 8-12. The big excitement of the afternoon?

Caution: Gag Reflex Ahead! I was feeding him defrosted breastmilk, which is stored in 4 to 6 ounce portions in these Avant Via "disposable" bottles. ( yeah right, you think we're going to throw them away? Why not just chuck 50 cent pieces in the trash with each one? ) Anyhow I wasn't sure how much he'd take at once and he let me know "less then I'd given him" by ralphing up about two onces of warm boobiejuice all over himself, me, my shirt, my pants, and the couch. Time for outfit #2 for both of us.

He seems happy though, I was afraid he'd be freaking out missing his mommy. She'll be home now in about 45 minutes and he's sleeping in his swing to the sound of his favorite CD, "Psychologically Ultimate Seashore." Sixty minutes of waves.

Hail Frigga for today. My wife suggested yesterday calling a friend who is especially close to the All-Mother and asking him to talk to her for me. I said nah -- I gotta talk to her myself. She's so sweet, she's taken such good care of our family, helping the boy through his early struggles with feeding, putting me in a position to be home with him, giving my wife the courage to go back to work. The gods really, really do take care of us.

I didn't know

I didn't know I could love someone so much --
That is, before I met my wife.

I didn't know I could love someone so much --
That is, before she got pregnant.

I didn't know I could love someone so much --
That is, before I saw my son's face.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Starting Tomorrow

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
For only when love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever truly done,
For heaven's and the future's sakes.

- Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time


Tomorrow, my wife goes back to work, and I'm scaling my job back from full-time to sixteen hours a week. I'll be working four hours from home on Monday and Friday and going into the office on Wednesday. The point of all this? See above. To spend my time raising my son, instead of paying someone else to do it.

Before I got distracted, I used to be a serious writer. It doesn't show in my prose anymore, but it's a discipline. Since I'll be home four days a week, here's my promise. I'll write every day, even if it's just a poop-a-logue, and we'll journey together as my wife and I raise our son in the Asatru faith.