I'd get a lot more done if I didn't regularly think that none of it matters.

This should make my wife happy.
I drink when I write.

I don’t do it because I feel like I can only be creative if I’ve got alcohol in my system, although I will admit that it’s much easier to access that part of my brain with some liquid assistance.  I’ll also admit that it’s fun to read something I wrote the night before and be surprised at how good it is.  But, no, I don’t use alcohol as a form of inspiration.  I don’t need it to actually create.

I need alcohol to get past the feeling that none of it matters.

I should point out that this isn’t always the case, but it’s close.  My “writer’s block” isn’t that I don’t have anything to write about, it’s that I don’t think any of the things I’ve got in my head are worth the time and effort.  Is the world screaming for another YA book?  Is my life so interesting that it needs to be shared?  Why would anyone read a review of “Rise of the Midnight Sons?”  Who even reads my blog anymore?

I am so envious of people who can just sit down and write for pleasure that it sometimes make me want to kill them. 

Being content to write for pleasure is a foreign concept to me.  I like to think that, if I were paid to write, it would be easier.  That somehow financial compensation, which also suggests that people are actually reading my work, would motivate me, would convince me that what I’m doing is worthwhile.  And as much as it pains me to say it, I think that’s true.  I think even validation in the form of money would be enough.
 
But there are very few people who get to do that. 

So how do I explain those who write for fun?  Those who are content to sit at their computer, submerged in the reality of their work, unconcerned about whether or not anyone will actually read what they’re writing?  Who are these people who are happy enough to be able to do that?  Why doesn’t that seem like a waste of time to them?
 
I suppose the answer is in the question.  They’re “happy enough to be able to do that” because writing makes them happy.  So it’s not a waste of time. 

But that’s not who I am.  I love having written.  I love going to write.  I have a complex relationship

with the actual writing.  I very often don’t see the point in it.  It takes everything I’ve got just to sit in front of my computer and even then whether I actually get any work done or not is a crap shoot.
 
Instead I could look at our finances.  That’s important.  I can check my work email – I get paid for that.  I can work on my to do list.  I can go on Twitter and Facebook and “talk” to people, which gives me immediate satisfaction.  Writing is hard and it takes forever and I’d like some happiness right now, please.
 
Or I can play with my son, assuming he’s awake.  I could spend some time with my wife since we never see each other anymore or, when we do, it’s while taking care of our son.  Maybe we could have actual conversations.  Maybe we could have a date.
 
I know that if I don’t write, I start to get even moodier than normal.  It’s often Nicole’s go-to question when I’m in a funk or acting out (not unlike a child).  “Have you written lately?”  Because she knows that it’s an indirect form of therapy for me.  Even if I’m not writing about myself, the act of creating has a positive impact on me.  But that positive impact is often hard to see until I’ve actually done it.
 
There are so many other things that have a positive impact on me, though.  So many easier things.
 
So how do I do it?  How do they do it?  How do I just sit down and write, rest of the world be damned, need for validation be damned, need for immediate satisfaction be damned?  How do I convince myself that this short story, this novel, this column, this review, needs to exist?
 
Why does this matter?
 
Happiness isn’t reason enough for me to do much of anything, which is part of the problem.

Happiness is being with my wife and son, but that’s not the only thing going on when I’m with them.  I’m making both of them happy, too.  I’m helping to raise our son.  I’m doing something important, so I don’t question it.  The validation for my actions is right there in front of me.
 
And maybe that’s why writing doesn’t make me happy while I’m doing it, because doing something solely to make myself happy isn't something I understand.  I need a reason, and without one, I can’t accept doing it.  If I don’t have a reason other than just because “it makes me happy,” then it won’t make me happy.
 
So I guess that’s the question, then: how do I accept doing something just because it makes me happy?  How do I get past the need for it to be anything more and how do I get past that need being some kind of validation?  How do I just enjoy the experience for what it is on its own?
 
I have no idea.  Not a one.

It actually feels like the great hurdle of my existence, because I think it’s something that extends far beyond just writing.  Even if it doesn’t, the impact it would have on my work would be huge.

The impact it would have on my liver would be pretty big, too.

They Always Want More


I would say that the Appleseed was probably less than a month old the first time we heard it.

"When you have the next one..."

Or some variation thereof.

It's like when you get married and at the reception people start asking about when you'll have kids.  You have your first kid and as soon as you're able to pull your head above water, people start asking you when you're going to have more.

Appleseed is not quite 14 months old and we are constantly learning new things about this process.  The idea that we know enough to have a second child makes no sense to me, although I can see how it would be easier, but only if that second child existed in a vacuum, without an older brother that also required care.

Generally speaking, people seem to ask about a second (or third) child before mentioning what I gather to be completely inaccurate information regarding children with no siblings.  I know more than a few only children and all of them are great people.  They're social, they're as well adjusted as anyone else, and they're good friends.  This idea that only children are somehow inferior or damaged because they never had siblings strikes me as ridiculous.  The family you're born into is sometimes secondary to the one you create.

It's strange that only children have such a stigma about them.  I suppose, perhaps, a bunch of horrible people
have been only children, although I just Googled it and Hitler was the 4th of 6 children, so having brothers and sisters isn't exactly a cure all for badness.  It makes me think that perhaps this urban legend of the mentally unstable, emotionally broken only child is a way of making sure that people have more than one.

This is not to say I'm against having more kids.  The other day I thought about the fact that Appleseed will be
out in the world on his own really, as soon as he goes to school.  I suppose technically he is now.  But it occurred to me that a sibling would be a partner.  A sibling would be another person he could count on, maybe another person to watch out for him and that he could watch out for.  A sibling could be me (and Nicole) when we aren't there.  Maybe not that directly, but at least a reminder of his parents, a reminder of what we'd say or do in any given situation.

And a sibling would be a friend.

But the idea of having more kids freaks me out.  I often refer to Appleseed as "my favorite baby," but is that no longer true when we have a second kid?  How do you divide up this feeling, this affection?

Here's the other thing: many, many people have described Appleseed as "sweet."  Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me how sweet he is, I'd have a lot of dollars.

Now, part of that is his nature.  He's fairly easy going toddler (he was a fairly easy going baby).  Not many things upset him and those that do don't upset him for long.  He's able to be happy in almost any situation unless there are a lot of people around.  He has all the wonder of a toddler without all the angst, if that makes any sense.  So describing him as "sweet" seems pretty obvious.

But there's also a nurture element at work and I'll admit I feel strange even writing that.  But it's true.  We
heaped so much positive reinforcement on Appleseed that it adds lift to his already happy demeanor. Happiness is a pretty easy thing to squish or to ignore, but we don't do either.  There is a lot of joy in this house and I have no doubt that it takes root inside Appleseed.  I know that we are nurturing that sweetness to the point  where everyone who comes into contact with him notices.

What happens when all of that time and energy is suddenly divided?  If helping my child to be the best version of himself he can be, doesn't that mean I need to be the best parent I can be?  And how can I do that if my attention is split?

These are, of course, all hypothetical, high level questions.  The reality of the situation is that something like money will probably play just as big a part in all this.

In the end, part of me feels like I'll miss all the time I get to spend with Appleseed now if I'm taking care of another kid, too.


Montage of Heck and Guns N' Roses

I saw "Montage of Heck," the documentary about Kurt Cobain, and for the most part I really liked it.  It is, at moments, devastating, although not so much because of Cobain but because he was once a child and we know how his life ended.  Show me anything about children these days and you've got me.

Being a parent is hard.

Anyway, one of the things that stood out to me was how often he and his wife, Courtney Love, mentioned Guns N' Roses.

In theory, some of that would have come from the urban legend that has become the confrontation between Cobain and Axl Rose at some MTV awards thing, but I realized that said confrontation involved Cobain jokingly (in a dick move, I have to say) asking Rose to be his daughter's god father, which meant he was a father by that point.  Yet he mentions Guns N' Roses before that.

So why?  Why are Guns N' Roses a big enough deal to get mentioned more than once?  He never even mentions any of the other Seattle bands more than once (if at all).

It reveals two things about Cobain.

The first, which is talked about in the documentary, is his ambition.  For all of Cobain's supposed slacker aesthetic, he was very ambitious.  While he never intended to be famous the way he was, he did want to succeed.  He wanted his band to do well.  He probably just wanted to be able to make a living making music.

But ambition has a way of moving the goal posts.  Truly ambitious people aren't satisfied with their initial goals.  And that's what makes the Guns N' Roses comments so interesting.

Nirvana marked the end of what we called "hair metal."  It was the end of all those cheesy 80s bands with no substance and rather bizarre style.  The music and the message mattered now.  The image did not.  I believe CC Deville, guitarist for Poison, actually answered the question "what happened?" regarding his band's decline in popularity with one word: "Nirvana."

Nirvana redefined popular rock music.  Hair bands were over, grunge had arrived.  But there was one band who was still topping the charts, and who were decidedly not grunge: Guns N' Roses.

It would be easy to make the case that these two bands represented two ends of the popular rock music spectrum.  Given Cobain's ambition (and Rose's), it's easy to see why they would dislike each other, although it is a little surprising that Cobain would have been so upfront about it.

But that last bit is informed by the second thing it tells me about Cobain, something that's actually only
touched on in the documentary a bit, which I think is a mistake.

Cobain represented a new type of masculinity.

Rose represented an old one.

Rose was (and probably still is), at the very least, a sexist homophobe.  He sang about women as objects and he derided men who didn't behave in a manner he viewed as masculine.  He was the worst part of those who have male genitalia and he was often glorified for it.

To Cobain, he would have been the enemy.  He was the old guard, the disgusting, horrible old guard that was digging in and refusing to budge as the new regime took hold, a new regime that wasn't hung up on outdated definitions of masculinity, that believed in equality.

Rose also seemed to live his life without thinking, something Cobain was probably at least a little envious of.  Even if Rose was a horrible person, there's something liberating in that, particularly for someone who gives a great deal of thought to every little thing.  I say this from experience.

They were opposite ends of the white, male, rock star spectrum, playing tug of war with pop culture.

And Rose won.

It's not that Cobain killed himself that proves Rose's victory, because Rose himself would more or less go into hiding and has barely been seen since (that's actually an interesting parallel that deserves more thought, the fact that, with Cobain dead, Rose basically fell off the face of the earth, as if he no longer needed to exist).  No, the proof is in the rock stars we got after that.  Even during the high point of the "alternative" period, who do you think someone like the lead singer of, say, Creed takes after more, Cobain or Rose?  And what did we get later on?  Nu Metal.  The pendulum was quickly pulled back where it was in the pre-Nirvana days.

I think we've seen some balance restored since then, thankfully, in part because of the impact Cobain had on youth culture.  I think the rock bands of today are formed by the Nirvana fans of the past.  And I think we're seeing them behave the way Cobain would have wanted, or at least in some watered down version.

Still, it's interesting to think of Cobain and Rose as the ying and yang of rock n' roll, and what that type of music meant to white dudes of the world.

The ever evolving mom/child, dad/child relationship

That's about right. (found here)

The Appleseed and I have the perfect relationship.

I am the apple of his eye, the sun in his sky, the absolute best person in the world.  He gets excited when he sees me when I arrive to pick him up from daycare.  He laughs when we have breakfast and dinner.  He brings me a book and sits in my lap so I can read it to him over and over and over again.  I follow him around the house as he goes exploring.  Even with all the fighting he does when I try to change him or dress him, it's still wonderful.  I am A#1 in his book...

...unless Nicole is around.  Then I become a distant second.

But here's the thing: I'm okay with that.  And I'm okay with that in no small part because I see what it's like for Nicole.

The Appleseed loves his mommy and it's wonderful, but when she's around, he is demanding as hell.  The idea of me really taking care of Appleseed by myself on the weekend is a bit insane, but he won't let it happen for more than a few minutes.  At some point, he'll realize that mommy is somewhere in the house, and he'll go find her -- that's assuming he even lets her leave.

On those rare moments when Appleseed doesn't want to wander the house, I can sit on the floor in the living room while he plays with his toys.  I just kind of hang out, maybe mess around on my phone, while he plays for a bit.  It's never a long time, but it gives me a break.

Nicole never gets that.  If she's there, he wants to be engaged.  There is no break time for mommy.
From here.

Yes, I'm second fiddle when she's around, but even when I'm first fiddle, I don't get it from Appleseed like this.  There's a nice balance between us.  It's not that he's not needy with me, because he can be, but he can also be totally independent, an option Nicole rarely gets.  As bad as I may feel sometimes when Appleseed ignores me for his mom, I realize how exhausting this must be for Nicole.  I actually think I've got the better part of this deal.

I'm kind of glossing over a few things.  As needy as Appleseed can be, he's also become more independent, or, more exactly, less absorbed by the moment.

There was a time when I would pick him up from daycare and it was everything to him.  It stills happens now, but there are days when he gets excited to see me for about 10 seconds before he wants to go back to playing.  I don't even have to sneak out in the mornings anymore.  He might not be aware of it, but in his head he knows that I'm coming back.  He doesn't have to see me all the time to know I'll be there.

The same goes for Nicole.  It used to be that when Nicole got home from work, Appleseed would get super excited and practically ran to her.  It was the best part of his day.

It still is, but now it lasts about ten seconds, before he's ready to go back to playing.  He gets really excited, then he runs off to play with his toys.

But that's during the week and the weekend is a different creature all together.

On the weekend, he has his mommy here and it's very hard for her to get any time away from him.  It's not that she particularly wants to be away from him, but there are things to be done around the house, things that she wants and needs to do that are much easier when she doesn't have a one year old up in her business.  If she even leaves the room, he gets upset, although Appleseed doesn't ever really get upset, not in the traditional sense.  Upset for him, I guess.

He doesn't do those things for me and it's actually wonderful.  I suppose it's a simple matter of degrees, like he needs to be with Nicole, but he wants to be with me.  That's not to say that he doesn't want to be with Nicole, too, but there's still a need component there, or at least what he thinks is a need component.  And that's why he gets upset when she walks away, even if she's just down the hall.

After 13 months, this might be the first time I haven't felt any jealousy towards my wife with regards to our son.

There are probably moments now when she feels a little jealous of me.

It will be interesting to see how this dynamic continues to evolve.  For now, I'm just going to try to enjoy it as much as I can.

A very late SFWC 2015 recap


In my defense, Appleseed (aka my son) is walking now and shit has gotten real.

I suppose the main question to ask after a writing conference is whether or not I got out of it was I was hoping I would, in which case the answer is a qualified "yes."  It's only qualified in that I was only able to meet with 5 agents during the agent speed dating, but 3 of the 5 requested sample pages, which is a pretty good rate.

(Small, probably inappropriate digression: Of the 2 agents who weren't interested, 1 was bizarrely confrontational about it, although said agent was the same way towards the person ahead of me in line, so I have to assume s/he was the same towards everyone.  It was really strange.  I realize they were into their third hour of speed dating, but I would guess they get most of their best leads from such things.  In fact, I know a lot of agents will only accept submissions from either referrals or people they meet at conventions.  Anyway, the other agent who wasn't interested was great, telling me up front that she wasn't interested, but then asking me if I had any questions about anything agent and/or publishing related.)

Anyway, I wish I'd been able to meet with more agents, particularly given the cost, but the ones I met with I really liked (aside from the exception).

It took me a week to finally send the requested pages.  See the aforementioned shit getting real.  I also wanted to make sure the pages were as good as humanly possible.  The strange thing is that one of the samples was to be for "Reqliaury," a book I literally started rewriting two weeks before the conference.

I managed to get all three samples out and within a few days I heard back from two of the three agents:
thanks but no thanks.  I was disappointed in the one for "Master of the House" because I really like that agency, but these things happen.  The agent who read the sample of "Reliquary" was very nice about it, complimentary of what I had written, but just not a fan of what I was doing.  So that was actually something of a win, given that I had no expectations for that book (but now I have to finish rewriting it!).

This leaves one query remaining (actually, I'm sure there are others still out there, but those are just query letters, not samples).  I really liked that agent, so my fingers are leaving a mark they're crossed so hard.  She asked for the longest sample, too, so maybe this is a good sign.

Funny enough, the best part of SFWC for me was probably the Twitter aspect of it.  I made a lot of Twitter friends.  Perhaps this is the new way of doing things.  At the very least, it is for those of us who didn't stay at the hotel and had to drive back to the 'burbs at the end of each day.  I wasn't making a lot of contacts in person.

I do feel like I've missed the boat on that a little bit.  I am nothing if not an awesome drunk and I feel like that's a talent which could have positive effects, were I ever in a position to take advantage of it.

One incredibly frightening thing I had reiterated to me at SFWC is that self-publishing isn't going anywhere.  It's not that I dislike self-publishing (I've done it), it's that the signal to noise ratio is just so crazy.  In a lot of ways, publishing house have become filters for books; they take the masses and supposedly disseminate only the best.  Granted, that translates to "only what sells" so it ends up being something like the AOL of books, but still.  No one has time to sift through every book published by every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the internet, so we depend upon publishers to sift through the bad stuff and give us the good.

But if you have the chops, self-publishing can be a real thing.  And there are plenty -- PLENTY -- of business that can help you, for a price.

Self-publishing scares me because it feels like such a commitment, one you're making completely on your own.  I don't know if I have the time, energy, or know-how to properly self-publish, let alone the money.

Anyway, all in all SFWC was good.  Maybe I'll start getting a little more social in writing circles after this.

...that would be something.


Feeling Guilty About Nostalgia

nos·tal·gia
näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/
noun
noun: nostalgia; plural noun: nostalgias

    a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

By its very definition, nostalgia suggest that you wish things could be the way they were before, or that you could go back there, back to that time that must have been better than the time right now.  I mean, why would you long for something that's worse than what you've got now?

Parenting makes nostalgia feel wrong.

A memory came back to me recently, or, rather, came to the forefront, as it was never missing.  It's a nice memory, one that I've never really considered before.  I can't remember ever really wrapping myself in this memory, ever really taking the time to think about it and revel in its embrace.  It was always there, I'd just never given it the time.

I lived at 1716 Edgemont St. for four months before Nicole moved in.  I knew, or hoped, that would be the case when I moved into that apartment.  Nicole had helped me find it, after all, and my goal had been to find a place that she would consider to be Nicole friendly.  She was also my impetus to move at all, as she'd shown me that I could actually get a one bedroom apartment for the price I'd been paying for a studio.  Besides, the studio I had been living in was and always will be tied to my single days.  Nicole and I were serious by this point; it was time to grow up a little bit.

The apartment was the top floor, corner unit.  It had clearly been two apartments, a studio and a bachelor, that someone had combined into a single, one bedroom apartment.

The living room had been a studio at one point as evidenced by the hole in the wall that once housed a
This is a murphy bed, for those who don't know.
murphy bed.  It was the wall that separated the room from the kitchen and that hole was the perfect size for an entertainment center, or a TV stand, which was the extent of what I had.  Still, it was nice to kind of have the TV, DVD player, etc. back inside the wall and not taking up what little space there was in the room.  My old futon was across from the TV as a couch.

Since it was a corner unit, both exterior walls for the living room were made up of windows, tall windows that let in a ton of light.  It was particularly great at night when the lights from the street light up the apartment; it was instant mood lighting.  In the summer time, these windows were all that kept me from expiring, as the cross breeze alleviate the heat just enough to keep me alive.

The bedroom was set parallel to the living room with the kitchen and bathroom in between. It contained perhaps the most interesting aspect of the apartment: the bedroom closet.  It was a big box that they had attached to the wall.  It was a stand alone storage box that they'd just stuck in the corner of the room and attached to the walls.  It was completely out of place and it didn't even go to the ceiling.  There was probably a good four feet between the top of the closet and the ceiling.  We used that as storage.

The cats used it as a launching pad to jump into bed.  We called them Kitty Bombs.

A note about my bed: I bought it for $1100, which was the most I'd ever spent on anything in my apartment, let alone a bed.  I had, up until that point, but sleeping on the aforementioned futon.  But now I was in a one bedroom apartment, not a studio, so it made sense that I should have a bed.  Besides, if this was really going to be a Nicole friendly place, it should probably have a comfortable bed.

I really loved that apartment, even if it was on the fourth floor and the elevator was the size of a port-a-pot, which made moving in a form of legal torture.  For the first nine months, we had to park on the street, and when Nicole got a job working nights, I got up in the wee morning hours when she was done so she could pick me up and we could go park her car together, then walk back to our building, as I didn't want her walking alone late at night.  Then I'd go back to bed for a few hours before getting up for work.  It was a banner day when we finally got parking.

Like I said way up there at the top of this thing, I lived in that apartment alone for four months.  It was the last place I would live alone.  Nicole moved in that August and we have lived together ever since.

But the memory that's been coming to me lately is from the time before that.  It's a false memory, actually, or rather a symbolic one, in that it represents an idea of a time in my life.  It's the memory of my first night alone in that apartment, no doubt bolstered by the memory of any night I spent alone in that apartment, of which there weren't many.

It would have been warm.  It was summer in Los Angeles, after all.  The windows would have been open.  I didn't have blinds, so light would have been pouring in from street lights, buildings, and parking lots.  The apartment was just off Sunset, so there would have been plenty of street noise.  I walked around with all the lights off, just enjoying the sounds of the city, enjoying the moment.

I would have felt so great in that moment.  I had a new place with an actual bedroom.  I had a new bed.  I had a girlfriend.  I was pushing thirty and life was getting better every day.  It was a fantastic moment in my life.

But it was one without my son, one where I was technically still single.  I feel guilty when I feel nostalgic about such things.

I'll admit that there are times when I would love to have moments like that, moments of what can best be described as enjoyable nothing.  An hour of time like that would go a long way.

But I wouldn't give up anything I have now for that, so even that twinge of longing makes me feel bad.  The greatest thing I've ever done is to be a dad.  Nothing has ever been better than this.

Not that I watched it much, but there was an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" where the guys were talking about fantasizing about women and the one married guy said that he couldn't do it, because he would end having to create an elaborate story that involved his wife dying so that he would be single again to have sex with this theoretical woman.  The other guys gave him grief for it, of course, but that's exactly how I feel.

I feel like longing for the past is a betrayal of my present and I never felt that way until I became a father.

Ten years from now, I wonder if I'll feel bad about feeling nostalgic for this moment.

I hope so.

Because that will mean my life is even better than it is now.

It's Irish Whiskey Season!

A while back I decided that "whiskey seasons" was a thing.  Bear with me...

I noticed that I was drinking bourbon more than Scotch in the summer time.  My reasoning for this was pretty simple: I only drink Scotch neat, and in the summer time I like to have something at least chilled a little bit.  And since I sometimes drink bourbon on the rocks, voila!  Bourbon became my drink of choice during the summer.

This got me thinking about which whiskey was best for each season.  Winter came to me first, because the holidays always involve things loaded with spice (cake, cider, etc.) which naturally made me think of rye.  So winter was rye season.  This left me fall and spring.

Spring was pretty obvious, too, because there's a holiday ostensibly dedicated to Irish whiskey.  Scotch fell to the fall, then, which actually worked out nicely, as I've become a very big fan of Scotch and my birthday is in the fall (which is usually when I splurge on a really good bottle).

And there it was: whiskey seasons.

My next step was to go a year only drinking whiskeys from that particularly season.  My bourbon summer continued.  Fall came around and I drank Scotch.  Winter came around and I drank rye.  Now it's spring, now it's time for Irish whiskey.

My seasons are broken out in a more practical fashion than the calendar.  I mean, theoretically, winter doesn't start until December 21st, but that's not really true.  My seasons broke down like this:

Summer: June, July, and August -- Bourbon
Fall: September, October, and November -- Scotch
Winter: December, January, and February -- Rye
Spring: March, April, and May -- Irish

Now, you might be thinking "Kyle, this is weird, why are you doing this?"  And I would say to you that I am easily bored and I like to try new whiskeys.

Besides, since I would love to someday open a whiskey (and wine) bar, I can consider this research.

Now it's time for some Irish whiskey.

The Appleseed is switching daycares and it's freaking me out a little.

The Appleseed's last day at his current daycare is Thursday, which is probably a few days past by the time this goes up.  In fact, assuming this goes up on Monday, he'll have already started at his new daycare.

The new daycare is going to be better for him.  There are fewer kids.  There's more outdoor space.  It feels like summer camp, actually, because it's located on a few acres of land.  It feels more like a school than his current daycare.  The fact that it's a good amount cheaper than his current daycare is nice bonus, too.

But I have come to like the daycare he's at now.  It's a chain daycare, like chain stores or chain restaurants, and there's a certain amount of sameness to it.  It's very sterile, and not just with regards to being clean.  It feels very corporate, very sanitized.

But the people there have been great with Appleseed.  They really and truly seem to care about him, even if not all of them are as on top of things as I would like.  Fortunately, the less accomplished people generally work with the older kids, something one of the women in the infant room actually mentioned to me when I told her Appleseed would be switching daycares.

It's also the first place we ever left Appleseed.  It was a huge adjustment for us, more or less earth shattering as it completely rocked our world.  And while it wasn't a smooth transition, we go through it, so now I feel like I owe these people.  I feel like they helped us through this incredibly important period of our lives...and now we're leaving them.

Appleseed is going is go through a lot of people in his lifetime.  I don't remember who took care of me when I was less than a year old; I don't expect him to remember, either.  But I'll remember these people.  I'll remember all of this.

And I'm freaked out by this because that's how I am and because I'm never 100% positive I'm doing the right thing.  Appleseed clearly likes the people who take care of him now and he even seems to have made some friends, such as they are at this age.  Who am I to take that away from him, even though he doesn't care at all?

I know this is a better situation for him.  I know he'll be thrilled with the new place in just a few days because that's just how awesome he is.  But this is another big change in his life, just like starting daycare was.  It's stressing me out.

I'm sentimental.  I've always been sentimental.  It's only getting worse as I legitimately have things to be sentimental about.

I should probably start getting used to this.

Sweet fancy Moses, my son is turning one!

My son (known on this blog as The Appleseed) turns 1 this week.  And this could be the first time I've legitimately freaked out about a milestone for him.

It's not just that he's turning one, which is, I admit, insane to me.  But it's that daycare graduates him from the infant room to the toddler room.  He's a toddler now.  And that definition probably wouldn't mean anything to me if he weren't walking all over the place these days.  Crawling is no longer his default mode of transportation.

He's not a baby anymore.

And that's a weird thing for me to save given that he's still not all that stable when it comes to walking and that he primarily communicates in "da da da da" and "ba ba ba ba" or "ma ma ma ma."  He still drinks from a bottle (although not for much longer).  He still only has four teeth.  He's still in diapers.  So saying he's not a baby anymore is a bit strange, because he still completely dependent upon us.

But he's a little person now.  I'd say he has a personality now, but he's had one from the moment he was born.  I suppose it's just clearer now.

And the depth of his dependence upon us has lessened a bit.  Not much, really, but enough that we notice.

He's becoming a little kid.

There's also the simple fact that I both can't believe it's been a year and that it's only been a year.

It's also amazing how I've adapted to living my sleep deprived again (that's another story entirely).

Anyway, I decided to dig into the vaults and pull out the first blog I ever posted after Appleseed was born, which is mostly made up with something I wrote in the hospital the next day.  I haven't re-read it in a while, so this should be interesting...



Roughly 19 hours after my son was born, I began to freak the fuck out.


It was while I was walking, for the third time that day, from our room in the recovery ward to the hospital cafeteria.  This was the first time I actually had some idea where I was going and the first time I managed to not get lost either on the way there or on the way back.


I was tired.  I was beyond tired.  If I was running on more than 4 hours of cumulative sleep over the last two nights, I’d be shocked. I wanted to go to bed, but my ability to do so was being controlled by this new little person in my life.


And I began to think about how all the time in my life was going to be sucked away.


Truth be told, the fact that our son is going to absorb the vast majority of my time isn’t really that big of a problem. I waste a lot of time. Hell, just my wasted time will cover a big chunk of his needs.  And while the inevitable cutting down on the things I want to do is upsetting, what was I really doing with that time, anyway? I don’t really do anything that can compare with raising my son.


No, what terrified me was the fact that I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into.  My old life –and that’s what it is, a whole other life prior to this one –was comfortable.  I knew it pretty well.  It wasn’t always inspiring and It was always enjoyable, but it was the devil I knew.  I don’t know this new life and I don’t know how any of the pieces of the old one that I want to keep will fit into it.


Even simple things like phrases Nicole and I used during our old life make me feel panicked.  It’s as if those phrases no longer belong here.  The Reckoning came and our little jokes about the silly little things in our life before we became parents no longer matter.  It’s a strange reminder of what we’ve lost, even though we’ve gained so much more.


I don’t know how I’m going to sleep.  I’m terrified something will happen to my son if one of us isn’t awake with him at all times.  And then I wonder how that would even be possible and I wonder if I will ever not feel guilty about wanting to go to bed.


I wonder why we decided to do this.  Was it hubris?  Did we just want so badly to leave our mark on this world? Were we selfish do bring him into this world?  Why does anyone have kids?


But then I think about how great he is and the fact that he wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t done this.

I spiraled again in the 20th hour.  I was overwhelmed.  I saw my amazing wife forming this wonderful bond with our son the way that only a mother can and I saw a peacefulness in her, a sense of knowing.  She knew, without question, that this is what we’re meant to be doing.


I wish I had that confidence. It is not, I’ll admit, a new phenomenon.  I have never felt confident in most things I do.  Second guessing this new life was inevitable.


So where does this leave me as I sit here in our hospital room, watching the second hand on the big clock on the wall as we tick closer and closer to the completion of my son’s first 24 hours on this earth?


It leaves me, as usual, at odds with my own emotions.


Part of the difficulty has come from our environment. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change the time we have had in this recovery ward for all the money in the world. We have learned so much from these amazing nurses I can’t even do it justice explaining it.  But we’re here just as much for Nicole as we are for our son because she’s recovering for a traumatic ordeal.  This means that Nicole is constantly busy, which is just unbelievable.  She’s doing so much at once.


And our son is just here to feed and sleep and go to the bathroom.


Ultimately, this means I’m sitting around waiting to be of use, which is in some ways worse than being busy.  I only ever notice how tired I am when I don’t have anything to do.  When I’m in the thick of it, adrenaline takes over.


But I’m also a paranoid first time parent, so I have trouble sleeping if I have any worries about our son.   

Even if Nicole is nursing and has no need for me to be awake, I won’t be able to sleep, just in case.


If we were home, that much would be easier.  I (and Nicole, for that matter) could go to another room to sleep and at least force us into an out of sight, out of mind type scenario.


The other upside of being at home is that there will always be stuff to do.  There will be laundry to wash.  There will be dishes to wash.  There will be a whole house to take care of – the garbage alone will keep me busy.  The sleep deprivation will inevitably be easier to deal with if I’m busy the whole time.


There’s also the simple fact that being here at the hospital underscores the fact that Nicole is dealing with so much – a lot of which I can’t help her with.  The fact that Nicole is still dealing with what happened to her is hard for me because I want her to be okay.  I may be staying awake because I’m worried about our son, but I’m also staying awake for Nicole.  Going home will, even if it’s not true, make me feel like she’s doing better.


There’s also a strange sense of urgency being here.  Because we have so much support, I feel like I have to figure everything out before we leave because we won’t have a call button to hit when we get into jams.  But we’re never going to know everything we need to know.


I’d also really like to sleep in my own bed again, even if it’s only for an hour or two at a time.


It’s now Monday morning. We’ve been at this hospital for 86 hours.  We’ll probably leave in a little bit.  Nicole had a headache which has turned into a full blown migraine, so she’s sleeping.  Appleseed is sleeping in the mobile changing table/bassonette thing they have here.  He’s just absolutely amazing.

I’m looking forward to going home.  I’m looking forward to trying to relieve some of my guilt when we see our cats.  They’ve been like children to us for so long and we’ve suddenly replaced them.


Did I mention that Appleseed is amazing?


I don't think I can say that enough.


But I'm sure I'll try.

Reliquary

Patrick is haunted, by his past, by his synesthesia, and by the ghost of the old man who died in his studio apartment.
           
"Reliquary" is the story of Patrick leaving behind a father with cancer and The Great Love of His Life to start over in Los Angeles.  Neurotic relationships, a cult like job, and stereotypical Hollywood moments would be hard enough to navigate, but are made all the harder by his hyper active senses that give personalities to numbers and dates and colors to letters and sounds.  It's hard to forge a new life with an old brain.

            Patrick learns to take comfort in his only friend: the ghost of Mr. Dromm, the old man who lived alone in his apartment for twenty years.
           
            "Reliquary" is a love story and a ghost story.  It's a universal story of making connections and moving forward, despite our own insecurities.  I believe it could be a commercial success.  I also think it lends itself nicely to adaptation.

Dr. Jones, No Time for Love

My blog has gotten a lot of traffic lately.  I've even gotten a decent number of new views of my Facebook page, as Facebook has kindly informed me.  Clearly, my biggest problem was that I was actually updating.

A year and a half ago or so I decided I was going to try to chronicle both my wife's pregnancy and life as new parents.  I chugged along for a while, bursting with ideas.  Every single moment of our new life was suitable for a story.  At the very least, I was preserving these moments for myself, even if no one else read or enjoyed them.

But, you know, there's a job and there's a baby and there's a house and sometimes I even like to see my wife.  The time for reflection starts to fade away.  It happens in those few minutes before I manage to fall asleep or while I'm driving to work.

I will never be able to write in the morning.  I think the belief that you're most creative in the morning is a completely valid one, and I find that a lot of the ideas that come to me on my morning commute are the best ones.  But the Appleseed wakes up whenever the Appleseed wants to wake up, and Nicole works long days, which means I'm often getting him ready the morning by myself.  I could get up at 3 AM and still never find a half hour of time to write.

So I have to write at night.  The Appleseed needs more sleep than I do, even if he refuses to accept that reality.  But he's not a fan of sleeping through the night and, again, when he wakes up for good is a crap shoot.  The only safe thing to do is to go to bed as early as possible.  In a perfect world, we try to go to  bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep.  We never get them.

This ultimately boils down to about 2 and a half hours of time between when the Appleseed goes to sleep and when I do, assuming I'm not living on the edge and staying up later.  But in those two and a half hours I have to get all my daily activities done.  I have to eat and maybe make my poor, overworked wife some food, too.  There are dishes.  There are all the various cat things (litter box, food, hairball treatment).  There are any number of various and sundry other tasks that need to be addressed after a day stuck in a cubicle and my morning and evening spent hanging out with the most wonderful baby in the world.

In the end, I'm probably left with an hour.  I have an hour to do whatever I want, and often what I want is to do nothing at all.  I want to surf the internet and watch TV.  I want to read comics.  I want to do anything but sit down at a desk again.  And I can't even imagine trying to write, particularly with a countdown looming over my head telling me how long I have until I have to go to bed.

So when am I supposed to get any writing done?

There's one piece of advice that every professional writer and professor I've ever had any interaction with has given out and it has always killed me a little bit: write every day.

I suppose I do, to a certain extent.  In some way or another, I suppose I put words down in a Word doc.  The problem is that I don't know how much progress any of those words are making, I don't know that they're moving me forward.

But I suppose this blog isn't necessarily moving me forward, either.  Or is it?

If I want to make myself feel better, I can claim that any writing is worthwhile writing as it's working out the writing muscle.  I think there's some validity to that, although it would be easy to point out that I could be working on my books or short stories instead.  But it's not realistic for me to be able to do that, say, at work, whereas blogging I can squeeze in.

There's also the simple fact that, aside from perhaps Facebook where I'm only writing status updates, this blog represents my public face.  The easiest way to find something written by me is to look at this blog.  That's kind of freaking me out as I type it, because this is just a blog, and more often than not I barely manage to catch all the typos.  Still, I suppose this is a decent snapshot of my writing world, if nothing else.

None of this answers the question: when am I supposed to get any writing done?  Because there's really only one answer: I have no freaking idea, at least in any structured sense.

So I bought a cheap laptop with only enough memory for Word docs so I can write anywhere.  And I'm trying as hard as I can to get myself in front of the computer for at least a little bit of time at night.  But it's so hard when you know your time is limited, that no matter what you might be doing or how well it's going, you're going to have to stop because you have other responsibilities now.

My son will be one soon; maybe I'll get this figured out by the time he turns two.

The Caretaker's Son



Purgatory is graveyard in Kansas.

Specifically, purgatory is a group of nine cemeteries in the town of Soma, Kansas, founded 87 years ago as a safe haven for wayward spirits while their ultimate destination is determined.  It was built by nine families, headed by individuals who had the ability to see spirits, a gift they passed on through generations.  Soma is the only world Oliver Rook has ever known.  His fate to become a Caretaker is predetermined.

But when Oliver's father dies when Oliver is only 12, he becomes the youngest Caretaker in history.  Without years to prepare for his new role, Oliver isn't bound by tradition.  He begins to ask questions.  And the necropolis begins to answer.

"The Caretaker's Son" tells the story of Oliver Rook as he becomes Caretaker and grows into adulthood.  It also tells the story of Oliver's son, Nicholas, the next in line to become a Caretaker.  With the help of wife and mother Amelia, who has the ability to communicate with spirits in her sleep, they discover the secrets of Soma.  The specters, the Shadow Man, the Ash Imp, the White Book -- it all leads them back to a deal Oliver's ancestor made with a demonic creature, a deal which has now been broken, leaving the creature free to attack.

"The Caretaker's Son" is a supernatural YA book that covers 87 years of the Rook family history.  It will appeal to fans of series like "His Dark Materials" and "The Skinjacker."

Comics and Graphic Novels

Ghost Day
Supernatural thriller, 5 issues long with potential for more

Alexandra Temple can see ghosts.

But, then again, so can everyone else.

It's been 5 years since "Ghost Day," the day when all the restless spirits on earth suddenly became visible to the living.  It's been 5 years since the battle between science and religion was taken to a whole other level.  And it was 5 years ago on "Ghost Day" that Alexandra's younger brothers disappeared.
            Alexandra doesn't expect much when her best friend, Akima, finds another slim thread in their investigation: a John Doe who has been in a coma since G-Day.  But when Alex touches John Doe, she receives a flood of images and information, information that could lead her to her missing brothers.  It's also information that sends her into the path of the government agency tasked with determining the cause of G-Day, a cause which has its roots in the battle between science and religion.

Heads
Horror/thriller/drama, 6 issues long with potential for more

"Heads" is like Stand By Me with exploding heads.
            Danny Andrews is typical 7th grader.  He has a close group of friends.  He has an arch enemy.  He has supportive parents and an okay sister.  Everything was normal, until one day in the middle of class, his math teacher's head explodes.
           
The local police are baffled, but over the course of the investigation, yet another person dies in the exact same way.  When the FBI get involved, they can't help but notice that Danny and his friends are always involved.  They think one of them might be the cause, and that he or she has manifested uncontrollable super powers.
            In each issue of "Heads," someone else dies in the same, horrific way.  Each death is a clue as to who might be responsible for these grisly murders.  The answer will devastate not just the friends, but their families and the community.
            "Heads" is an ongoing series built around an initial, self-contained 6 issue arc.



Battleground State 
Post-apocalyptic political adventure, ideally 5 issues long

Sometime in the not too distant future, a plague hits the earth, killing millions in a few short years.  Humanity is helpless.  Chaos ensues.  Governments fall apart.  The United States of America soon finds itself akin to post-Soviet Union Asia as the federal government is simply no longer able to function.  States are forced to fend for themselves.  Some turn to their neighbors for assistance, while others offer to help for a price.  

Territories who recover faster than others claim themselves to be independent nations.  Less successful states must join with others to survive.  Ideological boundaries become real as the map of America is redrawn.

Nathan Christiansen has spent the last year fighting for a united California, his adopted state.  But while he’s proud of the work he’s accomplished, he knows that resurrecting a place with so many shared ideals was a relatively easy task.  As the entire Pacific Coast begins to work together under a new world order, Nathan can’t help but wonder if he’s needed elsewhere, if it might be time to return to where he was born.

It’s time to go back to Ohio, to find the family he’s only heard from sporadically since the plague.  It’s time to see if perhaps he can have some influence on the rebirth in the Buckeye state.

What Nathan doesn’t realize, however, is that, as always, Ohio has become the epitome of America.  Numerous factions are attempting to resurrect the state, either as a part of a greater entity or as an autonomous nation with very specific ideological views.  Each faction has their own views and each has just as much right to call Ohio their own as the next.  Filled with memories of his childhood, Nathan Christiansen attempts to reconcile all of them, fighting for his home state using just as many words as bullets.  


Theme and Variation
Comedy/Drama/Slice of Life 

This is the comic book tie-in to a series of short stories I've written.  It's basically about three guys who live in an apartment building and the various social maladies they share.  I actually have a first issue fully scripted.  I think it's pretty good -- walks a fine line between serious and funny.

Marvel Adventures: Spider-man
All ages superhero adventure

The Hook: Spider-man!  Doctor Strange!  The Grizzly!  The Gibbon!  And lots of bad puns!

The Gist: Peter Parker attends the “Superhero For A Day” competition at the local convention center.  Dr. Strange arrives in his astral form, warning Peter that an evil magician cast a spell not just on the contest, but on a specific costume being used in the contest.  It’s up to Spider-man, the astral form of Dr. Strange, and costumed professional wrestler Max Markham to stop the Gibbon from wrecking havoc throughout the convention center, and possibility all of New York!


Cloak and Dagger
5 issue limited series

Here's something mildly interesting and not a little heartbreaking.  I recently sent my "Cloak and Dagger" proposal to someone I've never met aside from some brief interaction online.  Said person loved it, so much so that he gave it to friends to read, all of whom also enjoyed it.  It seemed that my proposal got across exactly what I wanted to say.  Alas, no one at Marvel will give me the time of day.

Master of the House

It wasn't unusual for Sam to wake up and forget where he was; he and his father had moved around so much that the bedrooms started to run together.  It was unusual, however, for Sam to not remember how he got there.

Twelve hours earlier, Sam's friends had dared him to go into The House, an old, supposedly haunted mansion, where, rumor had it, thrill seeking teenagers went in, but never came out.  Once Sam stepped over the threshold, everything went black.
 
Following clues left by his recently deceased grandmother, Sam and a disparate group of teenagers learn that The House sits on a crossroads of dimensions.  They travel to other worlds, face their greatest fears, and battle Halloween monsters to find the master of The House.  Sam realizes that the secrets of The House lie in his own family history, including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his mother’s death. 

“Master of the House” is a YA novel that features adventure, romance, and humor. It will appeal to fans of series like “Fablehaven” and “Percy Jackson.”  It was a quarter finalist for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Some feedback on "Master of the House" from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest:


ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

This book has excellent pacing, and the story will sell itself to those who like suspense books. I thought the high school scenes were well written, and also think the author does a good job of describing without being overwhelming in the description.

What aspect needs the most work?

The book was compelling, but could have used a little more suspense to build up the foreboding that the house should be giving to Sam. 

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I thought this was a compelling read. I enjoyed the pacing and the aura of uncertainty that surrounded the events of the visit to the house. I would definitely read more, and would also recommend this to my 13 and 16 year old sons.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The writer has created a good character in Sam. He is well rounded and well thought out. His dialogue is appropriate for his age and background. He is someone a person would like to know.

What aspect needs the most work?

There was nothing amiss here. The author had good characterization, plotting and setting. The selection has a good hook to keep the reader's interest.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

This was a very good excerpt with all the elements being well done. The work reads well, polished and professional.

ABNA Publishers Weekly Reviewer

Though a few characters (e.g. Sam's father) could be better developed, and a few questions in the book remain unanswered (as with the death of Sam's mother long ago), the story at the center is a solid one.

About Me

Hello, my name is Kyle Garret.  I like to write.  I like a lot of other things, too (music, movies, TV shows in constant danger of cancellation, comic books, Jack Daniels, air conditioning, the Cleveland Indians, etc.), but given the intent of this web site, writing is key.

I spent most of my life in Ohio.  I attended Ohio University for six years where they let me have not just a Bachelor's in English, but also a Master's in Creative Writing.  After that I spent a few years in Atlanta, mostly trying to stay out of the hospital.  I also tried being a rock star for a bit, but that didn't work out.

I then spent nine years living in Los Angeles, which ended up being featured predominantly in the first book I ever wrote ("Reliquary," which is still waiting for me to send it out).

It was during those nine years in L.A. that I wrote "I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At" which was released by Hellgate Press in June, 2011.

I'm also shopping around the aforementioned first novel and prepping to do the same for a YA book.  Aside from this web site, you can also find my work in a nice little short story collection called "Unrequited and Other Stories," which I've conveniently linked to Amazon for you.  If you're looking for just a taste of my work, please give "Unrequited" a try.  It's the first story in the collection, available as a digital download for just 99 cents.

I also contributed an essay to "Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion" from Titan Books on the character Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (see above re: TV shows in constant danger of cancellation).

My short story, "Young Zombies in Love," was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award and appears in "Best New Writing 2014."

I currently live in Danville, California with my wife, our two cats, and a wonderful baby boy.

What I Do

Well, I write, mostly.

Aside from the aforementioned titles, I have a portfolio stocked with short stories, comic book proposals, graphic novel proposals, a novel, and two YA books.  I've even got an "Angel" spec script lying around somewhere.  I like to leave no stone unturned.

Hey, for that matter I've got a few CDs worth of music by bands I've been in, if that floats your proverbial boat.

As I was saying, I have a rather large stockpile of material just waiting to greet the world.  And that's why I've created this web site.

VITALS

Name: Kyle Garret
Age: 39
Sign: Libra
Sex: Male
Place of Origin: Kent, Ohio
Current Location: Danville, CA
Current Occupation: Vague
Current Weather: Sunny
Current Meal: Lunch
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Person: Nicole
Favorite Month: October
Favorite Number: 12
Favorite Berry: Black

Dancing Machine

My son likes to dance.  Well, he bobs his head which causes his body to kind of rock forward and back.  Recently, he's started shaking his head, too, when he's really rocking out, which is awesome and reminds me of the Lalapalooza episode of the Simpsons.

He didn't pay any mind tot he Superbowl halftime show until Missy Elliott came on and then the head bopping started, so he clearly has good taste.  He's also a fan of "We're Here to Save the Day" by Constellations.  He dances to pretty much any song about the ABCs.

I drum on myself.  I'm sure you know someone like this.  When I'm waiting for something and I have nothing to keep me occupied, I drum on my body: one hand on my chest, one hand on my stomach.  The funny thing is that I can't play the drums at all.  Evidently adding in my feet is too much for me, but I can keep the beat pretty well when I'm only using my hands.

A few weeks ago, Nicole was on the floor, playing with Appleseed, and I was standing up, waiting for something.  And I started drumming, like I do.  And Appleseed started dancing.

I was beyond thrilled.  He was dancing to my stupid ass body drumming!  My son was bopping his head along to the beat that I was playing!

This wasn't a one time thing, either.  While he doesn't always dance when I drum, he does it more often than not.  It's particularly great when I'm making him food and he's sitting in the high chair, starting to get antsy.

Why is it so great?  Because I'm doing something that brings him joy.  I mean, sure, I do a lot of things that make him happy, I know that.  He's a happy kid and while a lot of that is simply is nature, I think some of it is the fact that we give him a ton of positive attention.  He has no reason to be anything other than happy (although babies always seem to have a reason).

It's a preternatural connection.  There's no genetic component that would make him more likely to respond to my crazy body drumming.  He hears better drumming all the time, given how often we listen to music.  But something about it coming from me, coming from right there in the room, maybe because it's live, gets through to him in a way that most other drumming doesn't.  And it's just drumming.  There's no music, just the sound of my open hand hitting my chest.

It's something that I've always done making him happy.  It feels like only my son would react like this.

Nicole asked me the other day if all babies enjoy music the way the Appleseed does and I guess that probably they do.  But it's certainly something I'd love to nurture in him.  While I've always been a fan of music, my tastes were fairly myopic, and I'd love to help him have a greater appreciation for all types of music.  I'd like him to have a greater appreciation for pretty much everything, a greater appreciation than I ever had for anything.

He appreciates my drumming, which is more than enough for me now.  I drum, he dances, and we smile and laugh.  My weird tic has finally paid off.
 

Lift Off! The Appleseed is Walking

He took 8 steps and stopped, not because he was off balance, but because he'd reached his destination, which happened to be me.  He walked from his Learn and Groove Musical Table to me and it took him 8 steps.  And then he stood there.

I wanted to move back, but by that point he had his arms out and had grabbed my leg, so it was too late.  I have no idea how far he would have walked had I been further away.

So the Appleseed is mobile now, or more mobile than he was, and he was pretty mobile before.

My wife has been going through the whole "my baby is growing up too fast" thing for a while now, even though Appleseed isn't quite a year old.  It hasn't really been an issue for me, although it is crazy to see pictures from just a few months ago.

The walking thing is going to do me in, though, I know it.

I can't wait for him to walk (more than just 8 steps).  I think it's going to be a lot of fun and totally stressful.  But he's so happy now when he walks and there's nothing better than seeing him walking towards you.

The cats will be in trouble soon.

I just got home from picking him up at daycare.  He took 8 steps to me when I got there.  Apparently, he took 8 steps during the day today, too.

We're not prepared for him to be able to walk by any means, although I sometimes wonder if it's possible to be totally prepared.  I feel like we could lock down and clean up every inch of this house and a mobile baby will find a way to get into trouble.  I feel like that's just what babies do.

"Baby."  He's going to be one in a few weeks.

At some point, I'm going to be carrying him around, squeezing him and giving him kisses the way that I always do, and he's going to try to squirm out of my arms because he'll want down.  He'll want down because he can walk and walking is new and exciting and he should want down.

And it will be sad.  He probably won't enjoy being carried around as much anymore.

It's hard to wrap my brain around the idea that he's going to be one soon.  That he'll be walking and he'll be one.

I'm really going to be in trouble when he starts talking.

Daycare starts today and I am freaking out.

 And by "today," I mean Wednesday, the day this will be posted.

As I have been told by a great many people, we'll get through this.  Appleseed will go to daycare and he'll be okay and we'll be okay and that's the way these things work.  And I'm sure the aforementioned people are right.  This is a nigh universal experience.  People have been leaving their children with other people for hundreds of years.  This is a big part of being a parent, particularly a parent in the 21st century.  This is what we do now.

But that's a big part of what upsets me.

At some point over those first few weeks after Appleseed was born, I told Nicole that I felt like I was going to burst.  It wasn't the responsibility of taking care of him that was causing this, it was the scope of how much I loved him.  It was huge.  It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.  It practically incapacitated me, that's how intense it was.  There was Appleseed and there was Nicole and there was nothing else.

But I couldn't function that way.  I couldn't live life like that.  And eventually I went back to work, which meant that the feelings that had rendered me incapable of life outside of our home had lessened.  I knew this was going to happen from the start, and it bothered the hell out of me.  I didn't want that feeling to lessen.  I didn't want the outside world to tamp it down.

This is how I feel about taking Appleseed to daycare.  I don't want it to become normal.  I don't want it to
be another part of life, like going to work or drinking coffee or brushing my teeth.  I don't want the fact that I'm leaving my son with strangers (albeit licensed, qualified strangers) to become commonplace.  I don't want to be able to walk away so easily.

I'm sure all of the above comes from over thinking the situation and, to a certain extent, from living a life of repressed sensitivity.  The bigger problem is going to be the obvious one: I don't want to leave my kid at daycare.  I want to see him as much as I can and when I can't, I want him to be with his mom.  That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?

To a certain extent, I feel guilty about this.  There's a part of me that truly believes I should have advanced far enough in my life where I'm now able to be at home with Appleseed, where I don't have to go to work five days a week just to pay the bills.  I could have avoided this.  I should have done more.

There are two things that are keeping me from losing it completely (three, if you count whiskey).

Why is that woman smiling??
The first is that I'm going to work from home tomorrow, and the daycare is not far from our house.  I'm not going to be locked into set hours when I have to leave Appleseed and when I can pick him up.  I can even visit if I want, but that might be pouring salt into the wound.  But being close and having the freedom to go see him at the drop of a hat is making this all far less difficult. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do on Thursday.

The second is that, as Nicole pointed out, this isn't permanent.  Appleseed going to daycare doesn't mean he'll always have to go daycare or always have to go to that daycare, although it seems like a perfectly fine place to abandon your only child.  There's time.  Maybe I can figure this out.  Maybe I can make this work.  There's a glimmer of hope.

Maybe I can find a way to not end up the way everyone says I will.  Maybe I can put off that acceptance just a bit longer.

I will be fine on Wednesday; the build-up is always worse for me.  Nicole will probably be wreck.

Forget what I said; I'm going to be at that daycare every hour.  I'm not ready to move to the next stage of parenting just yet.

The 5 Stages of Grief (about taking a nap)

Appleseed hates taking naps.

A kid Appleseed's age should sleep something like 14 hours a day.  Even if he miraculously sleeps 8 hours at night, he still needs to get six more hours in during the day.  He's not happy about that.

He doesn't want to sleep.  And, honestly, I don't know that I can blame him.  I know all babies are inquisitive about the world around them, but Appleseed strikes me as even more so.  He's incredibly thoughtful.  Combine that with his new found stranger danger, and we can already start to see his personality coming out.  He's got introverted parents, so I guess that makes sense.

Appleseed's protestations against taking a nap could easily be organized ala the 5 stages of grief.

Denial

We call them "meth eyes."  Appleseed's eyes themselves don't really get red, but the area around them does.  It's like his eyeballs are suddenly surrounded by inflamed tissue.  Even his eye brows get red.  It's crazy.  It's also a sure sign that he's tired.

Appleseed likes to talk.  He can't say anything yet, but he likes to try.  And listening to him is fantastic.  He's to the point where he's not just making noises, it actually sounds like he's trying to say something, he just lacks the words.

But at a certain point it becomes these whale-like noises that are a surefire indicator that he's sleepy

Take meth eyes, add in whale noises, then figure out how long it's been since he last slept, and it's not hard to know when Appleseed needs to sleep.  It's obvious to everyone but him.  Actually, it's probably obvious to him, too, he just doesn't care.  He wants to stay up.  Tired?  I'm not tired.  Why would you think that?

I hope he never plays poker.

Anger

Oh, sweet fancy Moses, the anger.

I get static in my ears from Appleseed's screaming, it is that loud.  It's also freaky as hell because I honestly think I'm hurting him somehow.  Maybe I messed up the swaddle, even though none of him is really swaddled anymore these days.  Am I holding him too tight?  Does he need to burp?  He must
be in real pain!

No, he's just pissed off.  And he knows when we're going to try to get him to sleep.  He knows as soon as we carry him anywhere near the nursery.  And he starts the boil.

Bargaining

Okay, how about if I stop crying and just lie here in your arms for a while, will that make you happy?  Is that good enough?  I'll be quiet and wide awake and that should be enough, right?

Depression

This is when the bizarre noises kick in.  He sounds like a drunk bird or a raccoon that's taken one too many sleeping pills.  He'll often make these noises with his eyes closed, too, just to set me up.

The main problem is that the noises are hilarious, so I inevitably start laughing, which, of course, startles him and we're back to square one.

This is the stage when I know I'm actually making some progress.  His Anger and Bargaining stages are unpredictable in length, but the Depression stage usually means the home stretch is in sight.

Acceptance

Okay, daddy, I'll take a nap...for 25 minutes, even though it just took you 50 minutes to get me to fall sleep.

Mr. Mom

As you are reading this, I'm probably freaking out.

This is set to be published the morning of 7/9, which just so happens to be the day that Nicole goes back to work, and my first day as Mr. Mom.

I will fully admit that this scares the heck out of me. 

I've spoken at length about Nicole's anatomical advantage when it comes to appeasing Appleseed.  But beyond that obvious trump card, there's the simple fact that Nicole has spent months staying at home, taking care of him.  She knows this whole thing inside and out.  And while it's not like I haven't spent a lot of time taking care of our son, I've yet to spend a full day doing it alone.

The timing is just about perfect, and by perfect I mean really, really bad.  Appleseed has decided to be really fussy about taking a bottle.  I fought for half an hour to feed him just two ounces yesterday.  Eventually, I had to walk him around for a while just to get him to settle down.  I tried to feed him again and he started getting fussy again, so I decided to turn on the Indians game.

Yes, I know, TV is bad for babies.  But a) baseball isn't full of quick edits, which are supposedly the worst and b) I just needed him to chill out, and then the plan was to turn it off and try feeding him again.

While he was watching the Indians lose, I decided to try giving him the bottle again.  He took it.  He didn't even register me giving it to him, he just took it.  Drank the rest of it.  I got more.  He drank that, all the while watching baseball.

Clearly, that's not a pattern that can hold.  But I guess it's nice to have that as a fallback, given my anatomical inadequacies.

Appleseed is also not a fan of sleeping these days.  I think I once suggested that the amount of time
spent trying to get him to sleep is roughly double the amount of time he actually sleeps.  It seems like lately that ratio pushes towards 3:1.  Granted, it's the same for Nicole as it is for me, so I'm not any more of a disadvantage than she is.  But I am going to have to perform this song and dance more in a single day than I've ever done before.  I'm going to blow through my back of tricks before it's noon.

But I think I'll be okay with all of that.  I'm sure I'll need to step away and take a deep breath every now and again, but what could be more worthwhile than taking care of Appleseed?  Nothing.  It's the most important thing I'll ever do.

The hard part, I think, will be when I'm trying to get other things done.  The hard part will be when I'm trying to do dishes and he wakes up after ten minutes.  It's going to be hard when I want to make some reasonably healthy food and he starts crying.  I don't want to see my diet go to hell because I'm just eating whatever I can, whenever I can.

I realize that I'm going in naive, but despite everything I've typed above, I can't help but think about how great it's going to be to spend so much time with my son.  I know it will be taxing, but I'm trading a day at the office for a day with Appleseed.  I'm getting a day of him making crazy noises, him smiling and giggling, him trying to eat his own feet.  I'm trading the relative peace and quiet of work for the insanity of being a stay at home dad.  There are no tedious, mind numbing two hour meetings.  There will be frustrating, chaotic hour long feedings.

In the end, I'll smile at Appleseed and he'll smile back.  He might even giggle.

And I'll make it through the day.