Fruitful: Due Day-ish

The Appleseed is due today...ish.

That's a bit of a fib, as I'm writing this weeks in advance of his due date.  But this will be published on February 24th, which is when we were initially told to expect him.  We recently found out that was a day off, though, and Nicole will actually hit 40 weeks on February 25th.

Nicole thinks the Appleseed is going to be late and I have a feeling that women just know these things.  But from what I understand, they'll induce if she goes much past the 40 week mark, unless the criteria for induction isn't met, which would be a pain for all involved.

Anyway, there's a chance that if you're reading this at some point during the week of the 24th, we're at the hospital.  Nicole is most likely being a champ, as she is one of the toughest people I have ever met.  I am most likely super calm, as I am crazy calm in high pressure situations, which is odd since I am seldom calm in no pressure situations.

I can't speak for Nicole, but I'm sure I will, at some point, be overcome by an incredible sense of community, by a feeling that I'm a part of the natural order of things.  We are the products of thousands of years of evolution.  Our son will be the next step, the next act in a story that goes on and on.

The other day I thought about the fact that, once the Appleseed is born, Nicole will be able to talk about what it's like to have a kid.  She'll be able to share stories with other women who have had children.  That has to be a huge shared bond.  I would think that even women who have nothing in common can find a connection in having given birth.

And we'll have a kid, although it's not like that will make us special.  There are roughly 250 kids born every minute on this planet.  The Appleseed will be one of 250.

But he will special and him being born will be special, at least in our little world.  It will mean a lot to our families and friends.  He will mean everything to us.

I'm sitting here, thinking I should write more.  But what else is there to say?  We're going to have a child soon.  It's overwhelming.

It's wonderful.

Week 40!!

Fruitful: I'm Terrified

ter·ror

noun\ˈter-ər, ˈte-rər\
: a very strong feeling of fear
: something that causes very strong feelings of fear : something that is terrifying


All new parents say they're terrified.  I would think it's a pretty standard feeling.  It's hyperbole, though, as it's really more being scared.  Real terror would prevent you from being able to function.

But there are moments when, for probably no more than one, maybe two seconds, I feel pure terror.  Seriously, it's all encompassing and I feel like the world is ending.  It's a feeling I've never had before.

Fortunately, it goes away quickly.  And, so far, it happens rarely, but I have feeling that will change the closer we get to our son's arrival.

A woman I work with, who just had twins (and already had a daughter), told me that the terror goes away when your kid is born, not because it's any less scary, but because you don't have time to think about it.  Once you're in it, you're in it, and you're holding on for dear life.  You're not, for example, sitting at your desk at 10 o'clock on a Wednesday, drinking Scotch, listening to Fugazi, and blogging about how scared you are.  No, you are doing whatever you can to prevent your wife from completely losing it because she has to feed this kid every 2-3 hours, and thus never sleeps more than two hours at a time, and that's if she's lucky.

There's something very comforting about that.  I like the idea that we're going to be thrown in the deep end and forced to swim, because it means I'll no longer be standing at the edge of the pool, waiting for my turn.  Sure, I might drown this way, but at least I'll be given the chance to swim.  At least I'll actually be able to do something, to take my fate into my own hands.

I will still find time to be terrified, though.  I know I will.  It's how I work.

Oddly enough, there's a part of me that's also looking forward to the sleep deprivation.  There's something
This is what's in the deep end.
comforting about running on only a few hours of sleep.  I know it makes most people more irritable (something Nicole is worried about), but it tends to make me relax.  Sometimes it's good for me to be a zombie.  I'm so often a neurotic spazz that cutting off that power supply is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, I'm not currently sleep deprived (not much, at least) and I'm not currently in the deep end, which means I have all the time in the world to be terrified.  We're at that point (we've been there for a week now, really) where Nicole could go into labor at any time.  In fact, I think in one of our classes we learned that 39 weeks was totally fine for birth -- that last week is just extra.

That is terrifying.  At any given moment, it could be go time.  Any day now, our lives will change completely.  It's just out there, hanging over our heads, waiting to envelope us, and we're supposed to just keep on like usual.

It's freaking me out just writing this.

Week 39!!

Fruitful: Great Expectations

I don't have expectations for my son.

I have expectations for myself.

I suppose all parents say that in the beginning.  No, strike that, I don't think that's true.  I'm sure there are plenty of fathers out there who are daydreaming about their star athlete son.  I'm guessing mothers are less ridiculous and probably daydream about their daughters just being able to do whatever they want in life, not getting paid 70% of what her brother makes, not having to be harassed by men.

Man, I'm glad we're not having a girl.

My expectations are that I will allow my son to be whoever he wants to be or, I suppose, whoever he really is.  I don't want to push him into anything, although I know that's next to impossible.  I'm going to influence him in ways I won't even be able to comprehend until years down the line.  He's not going to know any better and I'm going to ask him to watch Indians' games with me.  He's already got more superhero attire than is probably healthy for a child.  I'm imprinting him and he's not even here yet.

This a great article about Generation X, although I suppose it's less an article and more a rant.  But it's a rant that I agree with, one that is about as dead on as anything I've ever read about my generation (and it's true -- for a generation that was so noteworthy in the 90's, we've really been lost in the shuffle between the Boomers and the Millennials, who get way more press than is good for anyone).

One part of the article is about my generation being used to disappointment.  We're used to having things not go our way.  The reality of the situation is that our parents achieved an unprecedented level of success, so when it was our turn there was really no where to go but down.  And that was fine with us, because we were never sure we wanted that life, anyway.  We always had a strange distrust of it, like perhaps we knew we couldn't have it, so why become invested?

So what does my generation place on our children?  I think, because our parents achieved so much, Generation X were taught that material things were important.  Status was important.  Success meant a nice house in the suburbs, two nice cars, a trip to Disney every year or so.  Even if our parents didn't come out and say that's what they wanted for us, it was implied.  And that was fine.

But I never wanted any of that and I don't want any of it for my kid, not unless he wants it.  Maybe he will.  He's going to be growing up in something very close to the above scenario and maybe it will impact him so much that he'll spend his time trying to build a life like the one his parents have.

I hope not.  At least, I hope he doesn't do it because he thinks he's supposed to.

And yet at the same time I know children are just as likely to pursue things that are the opposite of what their parents did.  It feels like so much of what we, as children, do is to either follow in our parents' footsteps or dramatically avoid them -- intentionally avoid them.  In which case, I'm again influencing my son because of my behavior.

I know, this seems like some crazy, New Age philosophy going on here.  I know that Nicole and I are going to influence our kid(s) whether we like it or not.  I just hope we don't take anything away from him.

The funny thing about this is how high minded it is, when the reality is that raising a kid is generally anything but.  It's all well and good for me to have these big ideas about raising our son, but I'm not in the thick of it yet.  My ideas in theory are going to be very different when they're forced into practical application.

I have a lot of hopes for the Appleseed, but no expectations.

Let's see where I'm at with that in ten years.

Week 38!  We're 95% of the way there!

Fruitful: The Upside of Being Crazy

I've often said that 9 months of build up to the birth of our child is agonizing, as it's nine months I can spend thinking about what our life will be like once this little bundle of joy arrives.  And while I think I've done a good job of making sure that a great many of those thoughts are positive, an awful lot of them have also been negative.  I've reached a few full on, end of the world type scenarios.

I'm preparing myself for the worst.  It's something I'm very good at.

In this particular case, it's going to work out well for me -- and, honestly, assuming the worst has generally been a self fulfilling prophecy in my life.  But there are rare occasions when I expect something to be as horrible as anything can possibly be, and then I'm pleasantly surprised when it's only just regular old horrible.

And that is how I've been thinking about my impending fatherhood.

I have visions of getting 5, non-consecutive hours of sleep a week.  I picture my wife, ragged bathrobe, curlers in her hair, and somehow now a smoker.  I picture piles of feces stained laundry that never gets any smaller.  I imagine that we board up our windows and doors and that I have to wear sunglasses to work as my eyes can no longer tolerate sunlight.  I imagine myself, defeated, kneeling, praying to our child to release me from this horrid existence.  I picture blood, sweat, and tears, but mostly tears.  And stains, lots and lots of stains of every variety.  I'm pretty sure I will never go to work clean ever again.

My mom told me that I was great at projectile vomiting when I was a baby.  I expect the same of my son.  I expect every wall in our house to be painted over with whatever baby food we eventually feed him.  We'll start buying furniture and pictures to match the stains.  We'll only feed him certain foods because we know his vomit will match the decor.

I will lose what little weight I still have, yet surprisingly my gut will continue to get larger.  The bags under my eyes will have bags under them.  They grey in my beard will spread to my head and I'll notice a bald spot that I'll swear wasn't there a few weeks ago.

Nicole and I will lose the ability to communicate with other human beings.  We will only respond with a series
By Steve Schapiro
of grunts that only we understand.  We will require absolute silence from any visitors, even if the baby is wide awake.  We'll fail to notice when the other one has fed the cats until their bowl looks like the dog bowl at the beginning of "Back to the Future."  The entire hallway bathroom, which now houses the litter box, will become a litter box.

I figure at some point we'll both start hallucinating.  I also figure that we'll hallucinate about what our lives used to be like.

But here's the thing: It won't be like that.  I've been told by actual people with actual children that it won't be like that.  They've told me that we will adapt, that we will be fine.

I'm not listening, though.  Because I need to prepare for the worst.  That's how I operate.  I need to prepare for the worst in case they're all wrong.  And I need to prepared for the worst in hopes that they're right, and I'll be relieved.

I'm not convinced.

Week 37!!

Fruitful: Birthing Class

Hey, Nicole and I both dig some Supernatural
It was 68 degrees and sunny on Saturday.

I don't say that to mock any of my Midwest and East Coast friends (okay, maybe a little), I say it so you understand that, even for Northern California, it was unseasonably warm.

Now stick thirty people in a room with windows that don't open during this unseasonably warm and sunny day.  And make sure the air conditioning is stuck on a setting that seems reasonable for January 25th, but not for this day in particular.

Oh, and half the people in this room are pregnant.

And the class we were all there for was 7 hours long.

This was our birthing class.

The modern day birthing class is a strange bird.  We live in a world where information is at our fingertips.  Everything you could possibly want to know about child birth can be found from the comfort of your couch.  Gone are the days of the weekly lamaze class.  The birthing class these days is more about getting to sit in a room with a health care professional and ask questions.

That's not to say that there wasn't a course being taught, because there was.  We learned about the three stages of child birth.  We talked a lot about pain management.  We even briefly touched on postpartum, which I actually think deserved more time.  I am not a woman and I am not giving birth any time soon, but it seems to me that the transition that occurs after giving birth is nearly as important as everything that came before.  A woman spends nine months building to the big moment, and then supposedly reverts to her
Women be crazy.
previous state in something like six weeks.  That can't be easy.

I wouldn't say we learned an awful lot at the birthing class.  We got some information verified, got a few details ironed out.  But I don't feel like we'd be at a huge disadvantage if we hadn't gone.  I think we could have found all of this information online or in books (my wife probably knew all of it already, in fact).

No, what the birthing class did was make it all feel real.

"Kyle," you say, "how could it not have felt real before now?"

Well, it has, sure.  But it feels real in spurts.  And allow me, for the first time ever, to use my condescending almost parent voice and say that unless you are about to have a kid, it's impossible to understand.  Our world is going to change completely.  And while a lot of life altering moments happen out of the blue, this is one that has been lurking on the horizon for (at this point) 8 months.  That long of a build up makes it that much worse, which is crazy given how extreme of a life change it's going to be, anyway.

Seriously, at one point during the birthing class I actually thought to myself "holy shit, what the hell are we doing?"  I know Nicole had a moment like that herself.

Here's the thing: you are reading this at the 36 week mark, which means we've hit 90% complete and I still remember when we were taking "bump" pictures and wondering when a bump would be noticeable.  The time has flown by, and yet even back then I can remember thinking "holy shit, what the hell are we doing?"

I would imagine I'll keep thinking that until this kid is about 30 or so.

36 Weeks!!

Fruitful: I miss my wife.

I miss my wife.

Don't get me wrong, I love Nicole as she is, very pregnant with our future offspring.  She is putting up with an awful lot and she has handled it incredibly well.  Were I in her position, I would be bitching and moaning until the cows come home, and I'm not even sure what that means.  She's more uncomfortable on a daily basis than I am at a company picnic, and that's saying something.  I just hope I've been able to make this whole thing easier on her in some way.

But sometimes I miss pre-pregnancy Nicole.

And, no, before you get all gross on me, I'm not talking about sex or anything relating to sex, you dirty pervs.

What I'm talking about is the two of us splitting a bottle of wine (and her drinking half a glass of a second bottle and leaving me to drink the rest by myself) on a Saturday night while we watch movies.  I miss playing Monopoly and drinking champagne on New Year's Eve.  I miss Nicole, while running errands on a Saturday, blurting out that we should stop at Starbucks so she can get a latte.

It's not the caffeine and alcohol, it's what came with the caffeine and alcohol.  And it's not just that.

I miss the weekends when we didn't have a laundry list of things to do, all of which involve getting ready for the baby to arrive.  I miss not thinking more than a week in advance.  I miss going to the movies, going out to dinner, staying up past 11.  I miss all those pre-pregnancy things.

I know Nicole misses these things, too.  I know it because she tells me.  I know she's starting to reach that point in the pregnancy where she's over it.  She's to the point now where she's experienced the miracle that is being pregnant and she's ready to move on to the next step.  She'd like to not have to put her feet up every night when she gets home from work or have trouble tying her shoe laces.

Of course things will never be the way they were.  We're going to be parents soon.  That pre-pregnancy life
has gone the way of the dodo.  But there is a happy medium, I think.  Our kid isn't always going to be a baby.  There will come a time, I'm told, that he'll sleep through the night, even be able to entertain himself for long periods of time.  But that's not happening any time soon, and if my wife has her way, there's going to be another hot on his heels.

I suppose it's ultimately a lot like how I miss Los Angeles.  It's hard for me to even think about L.A. and not missing living there.  It's almost hard to explain (lord knows I've tried) if you've never lived there.  But I know for a fact that I'm far too old to really enjoy living there any more. That is a town for young people, and as young as I may act, I've still out grown it.

And that's how I miss pre-pregnancy Nicole.  I miss the way things were before everything was about this little person we're bringing into the world.  But that was a different phase of my life, and I have no doubts that as this new moves forward, I may miss the old one, but I wouldn't want to go back there.

Still, I'm looking forward to that first post-pregnancy bottle of wine with my wife.  I know she is, too.

Week 35!!

Fruitful: Kid Colored Glasses

At first, looking at the world through "kid colored glasses" involved me doing things and then wondering if I'd still be able to do whatever it is I was doing after I had a kid.  "Will I still be able to do this after the Appleseed is born?"  It's a pretty major issue for first time parents, I would think.

But as time went on, I realized that a) There really aren't that many things that I do now that I won't be able to do after our son is born and b) that's not really the issue, anyway.  As is often the case when making adjustments, I was thinking about things in terms of myself, when I shouldn't/can't.  Don't get me wrong, I realize that having a kid is going to impact my life a great deal, but if I'm going to look at my life through the lens of a parent, it's less about what I'm able to do and more about what I'm doing for my kid.

In other words, I started to wonder: How will what I'm doing affect my kid?

Really, my behavior changing or not changing is ultimately not important, because my behavior is no longer just my behavior.  Kids learn by watching their parents.  I know this much from having been a kid.  So I can't help but wonder what our kid is going to learn by watching me.

That's not to say that I do anything questionable, although it's entirely possible that our kid might grow up thinking I have a drinking problem (then again, I would imagine the amount of whiskey I have the time to consume after the Appleseed gets here is going to drop considerably).

What about the TV shows I watch?  How completely irresponsible I am with money?  How physically fragile I am?  Is this kid going to be a social misfit because his parents are either talking in some strange cutesy language or swearing like sailors?

I've never been an example for someone before.

My friend Anne has a younger brother, Greg.  Anne and I have been friends for (good god) 21 years.  My
friends Matt, Rob, Tony, and I spent a lot of time hanging out at Anne's house.  Anne told us one time that Greg had lit something on fire -- I'm not even sure what it was, or how old Greg was at the time.  I just know he was at least five years younger than me.  He might even be ten years younger, which is just killing me to write.

Anyway, the next time we were at Anne's house, we gave him a little bit of grief for his brief dalliance with pyromania.  We did it in a brotherly manner and Anne later told me that he was mad at her for telling us.  I'm not going to say he looked up to us, but he at least cared what we thought of him.  I would imagine these days he'd acknowledge how crazy that was.

What's even crazier is that I was definitely doing shit that would have been really bad for Greg to know about.  Hell, Matt got arrested for lighting something on fire.

Thankfully, Greg only saw a certain side of me, at least until he was older and wiser.

But the Appleseed is going to see sides of me that perhaps I don't want him to see because he's going to be living with me.  And the idea of an impressionable mind being impressed upon by me is terrifying.

I'm sitting here on a Sunday night, typing away, sipping my Scotch, listening to Pearl Jam, wondering what my son will make of this behavior.

He'll probably think I'm old and weird.

Which, all things considered, isn't too bad.

Week 34!!

Fruitful: Kid Poor

When Nicole and I first bought our house, we heard the phrase "house poor" a lot.  That mostly had to do with all the things we needed to fix in the house, not to mention all the things we wanted to update.  One of our neighbors actually warned me not to end up "house poor."

The general concept behind being "house poor," as I understand it, is that you own a really nice house and that's it.  You are flat broke in all other respects, perhaps even underwater, but you have a beautiful home.

So far we've managed to avoid being "house poor," but I think we're on the verge of being "kid poor."

We're getting a lot of stuff from friends and family (in fact, this blog post is late because of a busy weekend that involved a baby shower where we received an unbelievable amount of gifts from our insanely kind family and friends).  It's incredible the amount of money we're not going to have to spend because of the things we're getting from everyone we know.  One of the upsides of waiting this long to reproduce is that everyone has already been through it and they're dying to get rid of stuff.  And the stuff we're not getting used it being given to us brand new by very generous family members.

We would be even more stressed out by the cost of having a kid if not for these gifts.  It would be impossible to overstate that.

But all of those items don't pay for day care, which is crazy expensive.  It's almost prohibitively expensive.  They say there are a lot of costs associated with having a child that you don't even realize and clearly I didn't realize day care would cost so much.  It is the single biggest expense, and will be for years to come.

I've heard the joke a few times now when I tell people we're having a kid: start saving for college now!  That seems to be a knee jerk response for some people.  But forget college, we're saving for day care now.  At least our kid could end up getting a scholarship for college.

The cost of day care is particularly brutal when you consider what you're paying for -- you're paying for
people to take care of your child for you.  There is no amount I'd be unwilling to pay to make sure my child got the best possible care, but the thought of leaving him with people who are not us just kills me.  This little guy isn't even here yet and we're already making plans to leave him with strangers!  How can that not break your heart?

My pipe dream has been, for a long, long time now, to get paid to write, which is something I could do from home.  Even if I made half of what I make now, we'd still break even because we wouldn't have to pay for day care.  Yes, that's right, day care is going to cost half my salary.

I feel like I should be able to make that happen.  I feel like I should be able to find a way to write for a living, for half of what I make now, not even that much of a living.  It's the kind of thing that would be amazing for everyone involved.  It's the kind of thing you work your whole life for.

Funny enough, the sticker shock of day care has made the idea of paying for the things our son needs in the future much easier to handle.  I feel like we're going to be able to provide him with everything he needs and then some once he starts going to school.  But, man, does that seem like a long ways off.

And that's assuming we don't have another one.

I really hope he gets a college scholarship.

Week 33!

Fruitful: Here We Go

Found here.
Assuming everything works the way it's supposed to, this post should go up on the penultimate day of the year.  And while I'm often wistful even when the year isn't coming to an end, I'm perhaps more so as my last year without a dependent closes out.

I have a thing with numbers.  It stems from my synesthesia.  For those who don't know what synesthesia is, Wikipedia says it's "a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway."  There nine different ways this can manifest itself, and even variations in those nine ways.

I first noticed it with music.  Songs have colors to me.  I later read an article that issues with numbers is also a symptom, which is something I've dealt with for as long as I can remember.  Numbers are living things in my mind.  Some feel right, some feel wrong.  That's what it boils down to, really: how it feels.

Nicole and I were married in 2009, which was hard for me, because I wasn't a fan of that number.  I'd have preferred a year earlier, as 2008 felt better.  The remaining dates in our anniversary are great, though.

All of this is to say that 2013 never felt good to me.  Odd numbers can often be a problem, but just the combination of 0-3 in this way made me feel off.  But 2014, 2014 feels regal.  It's yellow, which is a little weird because I'm not a fan of yellow, but still, it could be worse.  Colors don't carry personalities for me, and it's numbers are okay in my book.

Yeah, see, all of that up above this line?  You thought I couldn't get any weirder, but I just did.

My entire life will change in 2014.  It's not every year that you can make such a statement with so much certainty.  This is the last year there won't be a little human being depending upon me.  Heck, this is probably the last time I stay up past midnight for a while (that's assuming my pregnant wife makes it that late).

Here's something that has occurred to me a lot lately: having a kid is a perfectly ordinary facet of life that completely changes a person's life.  There is this thing that happens all day, every day, and it impacts people
in ways that they can't even comprehend, and it just is.  This is just what happens.  It's what people do.  They have kids.  They (ideally) raise children.  Life moves forward.

I spend a great deal of my life putting myself in other people's shoes.  I spend a great deal of time sitting at this desk, imaging what it would be like to be someone else.  Even if I'm not writing in the first person, I still have to know my characters, I have to understand them.

I can write about children and parents all I want, but I only understand one side of that equation.  That's going to change, and it's going to change in 2014.

Honestly, I don't do much that would make this transition that difficult.  This isn't some romantic comedy where I have to change my partying ways to take care of a baby.  I don't even sleep that much as it is, so that adjustment, while bad, won't kill me.  I'm not in line for the big promotion at work, but lose out because I'm spending time taking care of my kid.  I don't suddenly realize that Nicole is the one for me because I realized that a long time ago.

But, still -- little person.  Dependent upon me and Nicole.  That's going to wrinkle my brain even after he's born.

So onward to 2014.  It should be a crazy year.

Week 32!!

Fruitful: Holidays

The holidays are not a big deal to me.  They never have been.

I don't come from a particularly sentimental family.  No, scratch that, I don't come from a particularly outward sentimental family.  I currently live in a house full of things that Nicole has some emotional attachment to because of her family, but I would be hard pressed to find such things in my parents' house.

I'm not saying any of that as if it's bad.  I don't think it is, really.  I think there's something to be said for not forming borderline unhealthy attachments to inanimate objects.

Classic example of how my family operates: My mom once told me that she wouldn't be upset if Nicole and I stopped coming to Ohio (where they live) for Christmas.  The caveat was that we'd come some other time during the year.  In the end, seeing us trumped having to see us at a particularly time, a time when the weather is miserable and everyone in the country is traveling.

I really appreciate that about my family, but I suppose I would, given that it's my family.  All that mattered to my mom in the above scenario is that she got to see us.  The rest was all unnecessary details.

It is strange for me to be with Nicole's family during the holidays if for no other reason than I don't really understand the appeal.  They all really love Christmas (and Thanksgiving) and it just doesn't do much for me.  It's hard for me to really get into it.

And Nicole's family has a bunch of traditions that absolutely, positively have to be upheld every year.  There's no question about this.  It's like breathing.  There's no debate.  These traditions have to happen or...well, there is no "or," because it's not an option.

I find the rigidity of traditions frustrating as hell, but I've learned to adapt.

But next Christmas I'll have a son, a ten month old son, and I'm starting to get excited about creating our
Probably how my wife feels.
own traditions.  Even better, next year will be the first time that Nicole and I will be hosting the Christmas Day festivities.

For me, this is a blank page.  My family has a few traditions, but nothing that I'm desperate to hold on to when creating a holiday celebration for my son.  Nicole's family has plenty of traditions, but I'm hoping those will be covered on Christmas Eve.  I'm hoping what we create will be brand new and specific just to us.

I think about things like getting to open a single present on Christmas Eve or a traditional Christmas Day breakfast, maybe cinnamon buns and hot chocolate (as if a little kid would need more sugar).  I think about setting up the tree with an enthusiastic kid to help.  I think about Christmas morning when it's just the three of us (and the cats), our little nuclear family getting to spend the day together.

And I get to be Santa Claus, people!  I mean, not really -- not like I'm going to dress up or anything, because our kid will be smart enough to see right through that.  But Nicole and I get to sit up late and put together toys while our son sleeps.  We get to sneak all the presents under the tree and experience that crazy euphoria that comes from a child who has just had a visit from Santa.

I can't wait for the holidays with my son.  I suppose this is a regular thing: suddenly enjoying things in life that were ordinary before, because now you have a child to experience them with.

It's going to be a whole new world.

Week 31!

Fruitful: The Appleseed

We have yet to start referring to the child that Nicole is carrying by his name.  Part of that is because, while we've narrowed the list about as far as it can possibly be narrowed down, we want to give ourselves time to make that decision.  There's also the simple fact that by not referring to him by a theoretical name, we're not letting that name out into the ether, so it can't be ruined for us.

And, you know, to a certain extent it prevents this all from seeming too real.

In public, I've started referring to our unborn child as "the boy."  This seems to be fairly well accepted by people.  I would imagine it's a common way to refer to a son.

But Nicole and I have a different name for him.  We call him The Appleseed.

Every week, Nicole gets these automated e-mails from a couple of different pregnancy web sites.  The e-mails give general information about whichever week you're on, so for, say, week 20, they tell you exactly what you should expect for week 20, where your baby is at in development, that kind of thing.  One of these web sites always says how big the baby is, and uses some kind of fruit or vegetable as comparison.

At one point, very early on, the aforementioned e-mail said that our baby was the size of an apple seed.  For whatever reason, that was the description that stuck.  I started referring to him as The Appleseed.  Then Nicole started doing the same.  And now it's more or less the only thing we call him.

He's quite a bit bigger than an apple seed now, but that hasn't stopped us.

He'd already been an apple seed by the time we made Nicole's pregnancy public.  At the time, I debated
whether I should refer to him as The Appleseed in public, and ultimately decided not to.  It was our name.  It's what Nicole and I called him.  It was for us, not for anyone else.

So why am I talking about it now?

I'm not entirely sure.  Part of it, I think, is that the closer we get, the more I want to share.  Because I think it's adorable that we call him The Appleseed.  I think it's adorable and I think it's loving and I think people should share such things.

Also, there's a reasonable possibility that, once he's born, I will start a new series of blogs about being a father, and I've learned that if you're going to blog about your kids, you should give them an alias.  And, well, he already has one.

He's already a superhero.

Week 30!!

Fruitful: Don't F This Up

As I sat in the Best Chairs Tryp Recliner Glider at Buy Buy Baby, waiting for Nicole to finish comparing mattresses, I started to worry about fucking this whole thing up.

Did you know you can't put blankets in a crib with a baby?  I learned that a few months ago.  That is basic information and I lacked it until months after Nicole was already pregnant.

It's terrifying.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will spend those first few days at home just sitting in whatever room our son is in, listening and watching him (hopefully) sleep.  I will be on alert, or as on alert as my sleep deprivation will allow.  I am going to be that parent.  I am going to play through nightmare scenarios in my head and I'm going to prepare for them.  I'm going to count out the rhythm of his breathing.

I know I will do these things, and I know I will do them in addition to all the other crazy things that I have to do, the crazy things that are actually real, the crazy things I don't even know about yet.

Babies cry.  They cry when they want something, they cry when they don't, they cry because crying is a thing that babies do.  They cry because they can't tell you what is going on, so you have try to fix everything that could possibly be wrong and hope that it doesn't take an hour to finally hit on it.

I worry.  I worry about my son's safety and his health and I worry about my ability to take care of him because it seems overwhelming.  I think about the fact that people have been doing this for centuries and that it will be okay, but then I worry because I don't want it to just be okay, I want it to be great.

I worry that Nicole is going to have some supernatural, earth mother power to take care of our son and I will
Found HERE
fail to hold up my end, because I'm a dude who hasn't carried this kid for nine months so I don't have the preternatural connection.  I worry that I will get up in the middle of the night to comfort him and he'll have none of it, and he'll scream his little head off until mom crawls out of bed and rocks him to sleep.  I worry that Nicole will have to carry the bulk of the burden.

I know that I probably won't make any major mistakes.  I know that there are people in this world even less qualified than me having kids.  I know that I will get a never ending stream of advice -- both good and bad -- from an incredible group of family and friends.  I know that I have a partner who will always have my back, and who will always help me do my best.

But I'm still worried about fucking this up.

Because I can't.  Because it is the single most important thing that I will ever do.  Because this matters.

And, in the end, that's exactly why I don't think I will fuck this up.

But I still worry.

Week 29!!

Fruitful: The Nursery

If you were to ask me what I did on the last few weekends or what I'm doing on the next few, my answer would be the same: working on the nursery.

Even talking about it kind of freaks me out.

Aside from Nicole's belly, the signs of impending child aren't out in the open.  There's no sign when you walk into the house that says "Future Site of a Rampaging Child."  There are no pads on sharp corners, ticks on a corner to measure height, or permanent marker on the walls.  Sure, there might be a stack of comic books somewhere, but those are mine.

This nursery is becoming the embodiment of this kid, which is funny, given that he probably won't care about it.  It's not like we're going to bring him home and he's going to be like "Blue?  I hate blue!"

And as with every room revamping we've faced in this house, there is far more work involved than you would believe by just looking at it.  Honestly, there's going to be far more work done than you would see by just looking at it, which is part of the frustration.  I'm of the mind that if no one is going to notice, then why bother?  Nicole is of the mind that we should do things correctly.

That's one of our biggest difficulties at this point -- Nicole is type A and wants to, at the very least, be involved in all aspects of the work.  But her job is getting busier and she'll soon be working Saturdays, which means that if we want this nursery done before the kid actually arrives, she's going to have to leave some things up to me.  I know that's not easy for her.

It's even harder for me.  Aside from the fact that I'll be torn between my desire to get this stinking room done already and my desire to do it like my wife wants, there's the fact that I don't want to disappoint her.  I want her to hand the room off to me and walk away, coming back only when its finished and finding an amazing nursery.

I kind of want it to be like something on HGTV, but it would be impossible to hide it from her (particularly since the room currently lacks a door) and I don't have the time or talent that they have.

Still, Nicole and I generally have a good time when we do projects like this, and we've done quite a few of
Not our nursery, but similar colors!
them since we moved in.  Finishing the nursery will take us over the halfway mark of the percentage of this house we've redone over the last year and a half.  It will also mark the last time we have the time or money to make any changes, so it better be good.

I keep wondering when this will become real for me and perhaps finishing the nursery will be the start.  I'm already periodically freaking out about the fact that we're having a kid.  I would imagine that will only increase over the next 12 weeks.

All of that rambling about Nicole being type A and how we're getting the room done and how much of the house we've redone -- it's all my round about way of avoiding the fact that this will be my son's first room.  Aside from life, which I had a very minor role in, this will be the first thing I give him.  This is going to be his space.  It's his room.

And I know that his level of realization of this fact will be limited for a while, but it's entirely possible that he's in that room for a few years, and it's entirely possible that it will imprint on him, the way that every room I've ever lived in has imprinted on me.

I hope he loves it.  I hope he feels the incredible love that went into it.

I think he will.

Week 28!

Fruitful: Babies are gross.

Yeah, that's me.
Up until we canceled cable a few weeks ago (I highly recommend it), Nicole had taken to watching this crazy baby show on TLC.  Each episode followed two women as they gave birth.

As it was a television show, they picked the craziest births they could find to document.  No one wants to watch boring television.  Even births that were probably run of the mill were amped up for entertainment value.  It's insane.

In one of the episodes, a woman who has just given birth (for the second time) says something along the lines of "It's a good thing women block out the pain of child birth or they'd never have more than one kid."

Why Nicole would voluntarily watch such shows is beyond me.

Anyway, the cameras are right there when these kids are born.  They come out, the cord is cut, and towel is wrapped around them, and they're put in mom's arms.  You see these babies as they are when they're first born.  This is not the Hollywood version of childbirth.

Here's the thing: these kids are disgusting.

I told Nicole that when she gave birth, she would be overjoyed, that this little, afterbirth covered alien creature will be in her arms and she will have an immediate bond with him.  He will be, after all, the culmination of nine months of her life.  Just tonight she mentioned how thinking about not being pregnant with him anymore made her a little sad.  There's a bond there that transcends the physical, which is interesting, as it stems from the physical.

I told her that she will be bursting with emotion as this baby is put in her arms and I will be by her side, marveling at what has happened, thrilled beyond words at the arrival of my son, proud beyond measure of what my wife has done, and thoroughly disgusted by what has transpired.  I told her that, no doubt, a short time later that will disappear and I will be fully on board the happiness train.

She has challenged my idea.  She doesn't think it will play out that way at all.  She thinks I will be on board
Found on the Wild Child Granola site
from the start.  She doesn't think the event of childbirth will influence me in anything but a positive way.

I think she's grossly underestimating my Midwesterness.  Or the relative properness of how I was raised, for that matter.

Newly born babies are gross, objectively speaking.  You cannot take a squishy little alien and cover it in human fluids and say, "look, it's beautiful!"  No, I'm sorry, that's not the way things work here in the real world, here on Earth, you little alien you.

But when I say that babies are gross, objectively speaking, I mean it.  They are objectively gross.  But there's nothing really objective about your baby, now is there?

And so I will be at war in the delivery room.  While my wife is fighting a real battle in labor, I will be fighting an internal one.  I will be fighting the part of me that thinks this kid coming out of my wife is pretty freaking gross.  I will be fighting the part of me that is not caught up in the miracle of life, that is not moved by the emotion of the moment.  I will be fighting the part of me that finds the entire process unseemly, 1800's style unseemly, when I should be somewhere else and informed of the matter after the fact.  And then I will smoke my pipe and toast my brandy and hold my monocle up to my eye as I look the child over.

I will be trying my best not to retreat.

But it's a war I can win.  It's a war I can win because I will not be fighting it alone, even though my ally will not be aware of her involvement.

Because I know I will be there for Nicole.  I know I will be by her side, doing whatever I can to help her, even if the only thing I can do is be there.  I will be in the moment because the moment matters and I know it matters because it's about Nicole.  She will keep me there without even trying.

And I will love our son.  I will love the moment that we first see him.  I will love Nicole holding him for the first time.  I will love holding him myself for the first time.  I will be completely in love with that moment and with everyone involved in it.

But I know I'm still going to think it's gross.

Week 27!

Fruitful: The Quiet

Nicole has gone to sleep.  It's a Wednesday night as I write this (a "school night," as we call them) and I'm sitting here, drinking some Macallan, working on my second YA book, listening to The National, and enjoying the quiet.

These are the moments that I will no doubt miss the most after our child is born.

I'm sure there will be a million new and different moments to replace it, but even if those moments are better, they won't be the same.

I require a lot of alone time.  Nicole, god bless her, is aware of this fact and has never made it an issue.  We have an understanding, you might say.  I think I've gotten better about it over the years, but it's still there.

This alone time often comes late at night, while Nicole is in bed reading or has fallen asleep.  It comes as I described it above, sitting at my desk, attempting to write, surfing the internet, drinking whiskey, and listening to my music.  It is, in many ways, where I feel the most at peace.

So what happens when that goes away?

It's not going to be an overt problem.  The other day, Nicole mentioned how she feels like she's been crabby a lot.  I pointed out that she's pregnant and we have a lot of balls in the air right now, so it's justifiable that she should be a bit grumpy now and again.  And I told her that she's only really crabby in comparison to me, because I'm not really a crabby kind of guy.  I told her I would be crabby more often if I actually possessed the ability to process my emotions as they happened.

Perhaps it's the Midwest in me, but I don't "feel my feelings" (as JD said to Turk) until days later, at which point I explode.  Actually, that's an overstatement.  I seldom explode anymore.  I more just get annoyed by everything and pout.  Not ideal, I know, but better than exploding.

I worry that I won't realize how badly I miss the quiet until it's been gone for some time.  I worry that the
emotional toil on the newborn chaos that is coming to our lives is going to hide until the least opportune moment to pop out.

I'm not concerned about putting my child first.  I'm shockingly selfless when I want to be (emphasis on that last part).  But as with all things I go to the extreme and it's entirely possible that I will lose myself in this kid.  And that's not fair to anyone.

It's funny: my worst traits tend to come out when I have to wait for something.  I'm neurotic and impatient, which means I am not just frustrated by the waiting, but I'm also thinking of all sorts of horrible things in the meantime.  Honest to god, I can do almost anything if I'm forced to do it on the spot.  Give me any time to think about it, and I'll shit myself.

It's strange to be impatient for something, yet terrified of its arrival at the same time.

Time to go back to enjoying the quiet; I don't have many more of these nights left.

Week 26!

Fruitful: Entertainment has changed now that we're having a kid.

Last night, Nicole and I watched The Amazing Spider-man.  We saw it in the theaters, but she didn't remember it very well and I remembered liking it, so we watched it again (FYI, it didn't hold up as well the second time around).

Anyway, there's a scene when Peter and Gwen kiss.  It's their first kiss, and Peter has just told her some very big news, after spending a minute or two being something of a spazz.  And as I watched this scene I thought to myself "I'm so glad we're not having a girl...I hope our kid grows up to be like Peter Parker."

This was not unusual for me, not as of late.  Because these days I seem to view everything through the prism of an expectant parent.  And it's weird.

It's inevitable, though, isn't it?  You wonder about this kid.  You wonder what he'll be like.  Peter Parker's room is filled with character, as rooms for movies generally are (because they have set designers).  And it made me think about how relatively spartan my room was growing up.  Not that it was bad, it just lacked character.  I want my kid's room to be like Peter Parker's.  I want him unashamed of whatever he's into.

And what might that be?  I have no idea.  Will he have posters of bands?  Artists?  Cars?  Athletes?  Will have a desk covered with model trains or electronics?  Notebooks full of ideas or a corner dedicated to free weights?  Blue sheets or red sheets?  Stuff all over the place or organized into piles?  At what point will he outgrow the room we're currently getting ready for him?  When will we let him move to the bigger room with its own bathroom and, dangerously, a door to the outside?

There's a scene where Uncle Ben points out that he's not an educated man, and that he couldn't help Peter with his homework beyond the age of 10.  And, of course, that made me think about doing homework with my son.  I'm looking forward to that.  I'm looking forward to relearning all of those things (and learning things for the first time!) without the burden of hormones running through my system.  Going back even further, I'm looking forward to learning things while still carrying the belief that anything is possible, that the names of dinosaurs might actually be important one day.

You didn't often see teenagers in Los Angeles.  They were around, sure, but they were lost in the shuffle or relegated to certain parts of the city.  In Danville, they are everywhere.  I see teenage girls and I am ever so
grateful that we'll have nothing but boys.

I told Nicole about these thoughts during the movie and she told me that I'm going to have the harder time, as I'm going to have to teach our son how to treat women.  That is a subject for another blog post entirely, as it deserves more space.  But I'm not worried about how our son will behave towards women.  I joked that, given who his father is, our son will no doubt be too scared to talk to whichever gender he prefers.

But I know firsthand that kids learn such things from their parents indirectly.  My dad never sat me down and told me not to force myself on a woman.  Maybe that was naive of him.  He did, however, treat my mom great.  My brother and I saw this, day in and day out.  It has always been clear to me that my father would do anything for my mother and that he appreciates that she agreed to marry him all those years ago.

And my mom played a huge role in that.  My mom just wasn't one to put up with grief from anyone.  She had a full time job and was perfectly capable of taking care of herself.  I respected my mom, which, I think, made it so that I automatically respected the women in my life.

I'm not worried about our son respecting women because he will see it in action every single day.

I would imagine that once our child is born, I'll start to look at movies and TV differently yet again.  This time I'll be wondering whether or not it's something that's appropriate for my son to watch.

Fortunately, I love cartoons.

Week 25!

Fruitful: To Do List

Nicole and I are both making "to do" lists for the impending arrival of our kid.  Nicole's list is of things that need to get done in advance of his birth.  My list is of things I won't be able to do after he's born, so I have to do them now.

On one hand, this is practical.  Nicole is pregnant, so this whole thing is very much a reality for her.  She's already made sacrifices to become pregnant and sacrifices while she is pregnant.  Aside from being denied a new television (as that money can go towards food and diapers and daycare months down the line), my daily routine hasn't changed a whole lot.  No, scratch that, it has changed, but only in that I'm trying to work my way through my to do list.

You would think that there would be some friction between Nicole and I given our differing lists.  But there is at least some compromise going on.  I'm helping Nicole with preparations when she lets me.  Nicole's a type A personality, so having the bulk of the to do list in her hands would happen no matter what.  It's not that she wouldn't trust me with it, it's that she wouldn't trust anyone other than herself with it.  I don't mind.

And Nicole, god bless her, has been very lenient with my less than constructive tendencies as of late.  I think a big part of that is the fact that my to do list isn't just made up of things like "play the new Batman video game" or "re-read every volume of Marvel Masterworks: Spider-man."  Those are pushed down the list by the big one: write.

I have been writing like crazy lately.  I write almost every day, which is something of a rarity for me, simply because I've never had the time to write every day.  That would appear to be a lie, though, as I'm finding the time these days.  I have never kept track of how much I write, but a few weeks ago I started a spreadsheet to do just that.  I want to know how much I'm producing every day so that I can regulate my output -- and then increase it.

I have been working on another YA book for nearly three years now and I feel as though I need to get the
first draft done before the boy is born.  It's taken me nearly three years because there was another YA book that needed revising, queries that needed to be sent out, and short stories that need to be written, revised, and submitted.  Oh, and there was the second and third non-fiction books, revisions to my long dormant first novel, and the very beginnings of yet another YA book.

I'm trying to draw a line through as many things on this list as possible.

There's also all the house stuff, half of which is essential (like putting together the nursery), half of which is preferred (like re-organizing the cabinets).  And don't even get me started on the garage...

Oh, and what about working out?  I've got to squeeze as much of that in as possible, too, because lord knows I won't have the time for it in four months.

Did I just type "four months?"  Good.  God.

It seems impossible for me to overestimate how my life is going to change in four months.  I can't even wrap my brain around what it's going to be like.  Even the tiny glimpses I get from my friends with kids isn't going to prepare me.

In some ways, it makes my to do list less daunting than Nicole's.  We can prepare for the birth of our child all we want, but in the end we won't be prepared for the reality.  I can, however, get the first draft of "The Caretaker's Son" done before then.

It'll be interesting to see what my to do list looks like in four months.

Week 24!

Fruitful: Boy vs Girl (Ignorance is Bliss)

We're having a boy.

I told Nicole the other day that having a boy can be problematic for men -- specifically men of a certain generation -- because it blurs the line between being friends and being a parent.  It's already something of a stereotype among men of my generation that we become buddies with our sons, in that we embrace all the nerdy, childish things that they do even more so than they do.  I already watch cartoons.  I already read comic books and play video games.  This kid is going to love me.

That's not to say that I wouldn't do those things with a daughter.  I would.  The problem is that I've been a boy, so I have some amount of knowledge there.  I'm going to see this kid as an extension of myself, more so than I would if he were a girl.  Every man of my generation wants to give their son the childhood they wanted, even if their childhood was perfectly fine.

To a certain extent, it comes down to ignorance being bliss.

Growing up is hard.  It's easier for some, but it's still hard.  In fact, it should only ever been measured in degrees of difficulty, with the starting point being "hard" and going from there.  Even the most privileged kid has a difficult time growing up.  It's just the nature of the beast.

I can try my hardest to understand what it's like to grow up as a second class citizen in this country, but I'll
never really know.  I'm a straight white guy from a middle class family.  All I know is growing up a straight, white guy from a middle class family.

But I'm intimately aware of that experience, and my son is going to be a possibly straight, definitely white, definitely male, hopefully middle class kid and the fact that I have any legitimate frame of reference for that makes it real to me.  And since it's real to me, I want to help him, even though that's not entirely possible (and parents trying to relate to their kids through shared experiences a generation apart usually comes off as more creepy than anything else).

I have no idea what the experience of growing up as a girl in this country is like, so I don't carry any delusions about being able to relate.  I carry plenty of other delusions about helping, but none about relating.

But I know the type of situation my son is coming into.  I've been there and I've done that.  And I think that automatic connection can be difficult for men with sons in a way that isn't the same for men with daughters.  We want to get it right this time, even if we didn't really get it wrong before.  Hindsight is 20/20 and now we know how to grow-up the best way possible.

We would rule as kids.

Sure, that's a load of garbage.  Every child is different and every experience is different and lord knows the world my son is coming into is much, much different than the one I was born into.  But it's hard to deny the baggage that comes with having a son.

The goal, of course, is to keep that baggage to myself, to let my kid live his life the way he's meant to live it, not to live my life better than I did.

But I wouldn't have to worry about any of that if we were having a girl...

...I'd be worrying about different things all together.  And everything I wrote above would probably apply to my wife.

Week 23!

Fruitful: The cats are helping out.

Not one of our cats, but looks like one
The first thing that parents will point to when we tell them that we're having a kid is that we should get used to surviving on very little sleep.  It is, I'm assuming, the biggest adjustment in those first few months.  I would imagine that, for someone who is used to getting a solid 7-8 hours a night, having a child is torture.

If I have a leg up in any way with this parenting thing (and that's debatable), it's that I've spent most of my life being sleep deprived.  Seriously, I think my sleep study revealed that I was getting intermittent sleep totaling, at most, around five hours.  That is how I lived my life for probably fifteen to twenty years.

Being sleep deprived is brutal.  People talk about not getting much sleep without really knowing what they're talking about.  I literally felt like I was going to fall asleep on the drive to work every single day of my life.  Sleep deprivation is brutal physically, but it's even worse mentally and emotionally.  It's like a gateway drug for ADD and depression.

My problem was twofold: I had insomnia and I have sleep apnea.  The sleep apnea is really bizarre for someone of my physical traits.  The insomnia is pretty common for someone with my neurosis.  I would lie in bed for hours before falling asleep, and then I would wake up multiple times over the course of the night because I couldn't breath properly.  I think my sleep study recorded that I woke up every 40 minutes, which means the most amount of sleep I ever got at one time was less than an hour.  Because of all this, I'm also a light sleeper.

For the longest time, Nicole and I joked that I would be the one to get up in the middle of the night to handle
everything that I'm physically capable of handling and that I would, whether I liked it or not, wake up when she had to as well.

The cats were something of a case study -- there was many a night that one of them would puke in the middle of the night and the sound would wake me up.  So I'd get up and clean it up and go back to sleep, with Nicole none the wiser.

About a year or so go, I went to the aforementioned sleep study and discovered my ailment.  I also learned some ways to deal with my insomnia.  That was actually fairly easy to overcome for the first few months, as my body associated my CPAP mask with "time for sleep" and responded accordingly.  It's not as automatic as it was back in the beginning, but it's still much better than it used to be.  There are still other factors at work that can make it better or worse.

But I'm up to right around seven total hours of sleep most nights, although I still wake up a half dozen times or so.  I have an amazing ability to wake up and be completely awake, which often makes it hard for me to get back to sleep.  Nearly every day, I wake up an hour or two before my alarm and consider just staying awake and having a leisurely morning.  I almost always opt for more sleep.

I can all but guarantee that I will be woken up an hour before my alarm goes off because one of our cats starts meowing his fool head off.  He does this nearly every morning.  He does it because he wants food,
Yeah, that's me...but skinnier.
even though he already has food.  He meows and meows and meows unless I get up and check his food bowl...or I spray him with water.  It's generally the latter.

Clearly, he's trying to prepare us for parenthood.  I'm not sure how well the spray bottle will work out in that case, though.

I'm not so far removed from my pre-sleep study life that I don't remember what it was like to live sleep deprived.  It's funny, because a few months after I got the CPAP, I had a bought of insomnia, and went to work the next day on, at most, 4 hours of sleep.  And I remember walking around, dead tired, and feeling a strange sense of comfort.  It was like seeing an old friend.  Being that tired tends to slow everything down.  In some ways, it's actually kind of nice.

So I'm prepared for the lack of sleep.  Waking up multiple times, being forced to stay awake, never getting more than an hour or two at a time -- I'm prepared for all of this.  It is the one way in which my ridiculous life (and our cats) has prepared me.

Changing diapers, trying to placate a crying baby, trying to stay healthy, finding time for normal things like showering and eating -- that's going to be a different story all together.

But I think I'm up for the challenge.  At the very least, I'll be awake.

Week 22!

Fruitful: Hunger (or, Ditch Digging Redux)

I used to work at Wendy's.  I worked there twice, actually, once the summer after I graduated from high school, the other time when I was a junior in college.  I have a fairly long history of working horrible, horrible jobs, which is something I'll probably write about at some point.

Anyway, during my first stint at Wendy's, I worked mostly with middle aged women who were all working there for one reason and one reason only: to support their family.  None of these women liked working there, although they did take a certain amount of pride in their work ethic.  None of them were well educated per se, but all of them had experienced an awful lot in life.  Some of them were on their second marriages.  All of them had children.  That's where their motivation came from; they were flipping burgers, working the drive-thru, for those children.  That's all that mattered to them.

Honestly, I hope my kid gets to work some shitty jobs when he's old enough.  It's an eye opening experience.  It teaches you to appreciate any number of things.  It also makes you realize that we, as human beings, have a common existence that is only modified by the details.  There is a thread that runs through all of us, it's just not always easy to see.

Anyway, a long while back I wrote a blog called "The Upside of Ditch Digging."  The gist of that post was that I have had many cushy jobs in my day, and that begs the question as to whether my cushy jobs have gotten in the way of my pursuit of writing.  The idea here is that the worse your situation, the further you will go to change it.  If life is okay, then the desire to improve it isn't as strong.

I currently have a pretty cushy job.  I like the people I work with.  I like the work, even.  I have some flexibility and, as of late, I even have ownership of what I do, which is a big thing for me.  I'm not part of Fringe Division or anything, but what I do has an impact on at least a few people.

But my job isn't ideal.  It's not where my passions lie.  So despite how cushy it is, I still have motivation to escape it.  Sure, I will always write no matter what my lot in life, but the pie in the sky of writing for living is always there, always calling me, and always relevant as long as I'm working a job that isn't it.

I wonder how much of that will change when I have a kid.

Right now, I have the job that I do because we have bills that need to be paid.  My motivation for having this job is necessity, but even then it's only just.  Nicole and I are adults; we can take care of ourselves.  We've lived through unemployment before and we could live through it again if we had to.  We can always get by.

That will change when we have a kid.  Everything will change.  But, specifically, this job will be that much more important.

I've always had a problem not being other.  I've had problems for years with being happy, because I
Not Winterson's best, but still really good.
assumed that being happy took away some kind of perceived necessary edge.  I have the same problem with my jobs.  Once they become meaningful, will I lose that desire to write, to make writing my life?  What becomes of me when my life is job, home, family?

Listen, I know for a fact that this kid is going to be my number priority and that's an understatement.  No one has to tell me that's what it will be like because I already know.  But if that happens, what happens to my writing?  When my life becomes about being successful at work so I can provide for my family, what will become of me?  How will I change and what will that mean for my writing?

You know, in high school, I always got my best grades in the fall.  There was a simple reason for this: I was playing soccer.  On top of school and a vague social life (and later, a band), I was also on the soccer team, which meant practice every day and games on the weekend (and during the week).  It meant that my free time was limited.  When my time for doing something well was limited, I actually succeeded.  More time just gave me more time to over think things.

Maybe that's what it will be like for my writing.  Maybe I'll become more diligent about it when the time I have becomes scarce and, therefore, sacred.  Maybe it will be easier for me to access that tiny part of my brain where the good writing lives.

And maybe, suddenly, I will have perspective.  And those few hours a week that I get to write will have meaning and that meaning will come across in the writing.  Maybe having a son will just be added motivation and another source of inspiration.  Maybe this will change my writing for the better.

As I said to Nicole today, having a kid is kind of terrifying, but it's only "kind of" because of how awesome it is.

Week 21!