Some evenings I've felt like I'm staring down the barrel of a great big rail gun, and I'm standing in a foot of cold molasses.  I can hear the gun warming up. I do have a little time to get the heck out of the way, but it's a hard pull, and if I don't ... whoa, it's gonna smart.

Fortunately, my boss is helping me move a bit more quickly: they're letting me work a compressed, 4-day-a-week schedule.  Considering that more often than not I've been coming home too mentally tired to do anything but housework, the extra day should help me meet my long-term deadlines.  And I'll be saving an hour outright that normally I'd be spending on the freeway or hunting for a parking space.  

My boss will give the situation a review after 90 days; hopefully I can keep my nose clean and turn this into a permanent schedule.  He's apparently offered this kind of schedule to other people in the office, but I'm the first who's taken him up on it. I don't mind being a test case.  Ideally, at this point I hoped to be working part-time again, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

In less cheerful news, Jet-Poop congratulated me on getting an article into a shiny new magazine ... which I quickly realized I'd never heard of before.  Curious.  I investigated, and discovered the editor found one of my writeups here at E2, liked it, wanted to publish it, and sent me an email asking for permission ... which I never received.  And then, when he didn't hear a yea or nay from me, instead of querying me again, he simply decided to run the article. D'oh. Not cool. I gave the editor the benefit of the doubt instead of going ballistic; we'll see if he makes things right.  We all screw up sometimes.

In other news, I was asked by the publisher of Apex Books to blurb their new anthology Courting Morpheus.  My first blurb! I mustn't gush, even if I really like it.

I sat in the driver's seat of my mother's Toyota, performing the preliminary checks one must make before embarking on a long drive, calibrating every single mirror's angle, gauging my range of vision. All of the materials needed for a successful trip were stored in the trunk, including a book I would not read. On long trips, the chance to read is wholly dependent on whether or not you have brought a book, with the most dire literary opportunities initiated by not bringing a book, or a newspaper, or a magazine. Bringing something to read assured that your trip would be filled to the gills with diversion.

Jutting from the central console was my favorite variety of gearshift, the type that stands straight up, with a discrete button that you must press with your thumb to shift gears, and which, in some cars I had ridden in, was wonderfully textured and phallic enough that I could discretely palm it while my passenger ran into the convenience store to use the restroom. The palming of which could very earnestly work me into a nice, mid-afternoon sexual froth and make me seem imperceptibly guilty when my passenger returned. My least favorite gearshift permutation was the type with the bulbous knob that one finds in manual transmissions; a gearshift so devoid of sexuality that when I was told, in high school, of a girl that loved her truck so much she attempted to pleasure herself with it and became stuck, I imagined the former, more svelte version (of course the latter, with its hard balloon of plastic, was more likely to be the culprit).

J. sat in the passenger seat as I rearranged compact discs and folded maps, and her son, E., dozed in his car seat behind me. We were traveling to their respective counties of birth to retrieve certificates so that J. could apply for government assistance. J. is my brother's fiancee; E. is not his son.

E. had been remarkably well-behaved lately, which I attributed to the introduction of time out. E. tends to cry and stage a tantrum whenever he doesn't have his way, and recently he was told by my mother to stay out of her closet. She closed and locked the door, told him "NO", and he threw a fit (the sort of fit that, if you hadn't seen the musculature of the incident for yourself, would lead you to believe she had slapped him). He ran out of her room, grabbed one of her ceramic angels, and smashed it on the ground. This act was calculated to hurt her feelings and was indicating a sinister trend in his personality. The next day I had taken a pair of scissors away from him, and he set out after something of mine, meaning to destroy it. I grabbed him by his midsection, rested him on my hip, and attempted to talk to him (it should be noted that the child is preverbal, he only says about three words consistently). Each time I tried, his crying would increase, and not, it seemed to me, because he was genuinely begrieved, but simply because he didn't want to listen and I couldn't make him. So, not wanting to drop the subject and not being willing to shout over his tantrum, I sat him in a chair. Each time he tried to exit the chair, I deposited him back in the same position. Talking to him only made him wail louder, so I ignored him. I had conversations with other people in the room, recited the French alphabet (the letter hache eluding me until later in the day), and waited for his caterwauling to stop. His histrionics seemed to be a placeholder, a formality, something he was doing simply because he could. He contorted himself in every way imaginable to express displeasure at being on the chair, but he did not leave it. Just as the crying was becoming dangerously ambient, we made a big show of looking at the time and releasing him.

The next day, he did something similar and was placed in the chair for two minutes. This time he tried to escape only once, half-heartedly. The rest of the day, every time I asked him to hand me something that was not his, he gave it freely. Dominance was established, and everyone, E. included, was happier for it.

I turned on the engine and pulled out of the driveway. I hadn't forgotten anything.

This daylog is an excercise in the style of Nicholson Baker. His themes of attention to mechanical and sexual minutia are represented, but he probably wouldn't have gone into as much detail about child rearing, and instead would have tried to paint the negative image of a child, using sense memory. His habit of associating an object with his first, often incorrect, notion of that object, is also represented. Not represented is his painfully precise way of expressing actions in three dimensions. This style is somewhat easy to write in, given that I spent months imitating David Foster Wallace, who would be so lucky as to iron Baker's socks.

Adventures In Light And Sound

Blue Is Good And Dishes Cause Wakefulness

Today my son is 1 month old. He's 58 centimetres long (up from a mere 52 at his birth) and weighs 9lb 10oz (up from 7lb 14oz). He has big bright blue eyes and fair hair and eyebrows. He recognizes his mum and dad and follows us around the room with his eyes. He has 3 different cries we can distinguish - 1 for when he's hungry, 1 for when he needs his nappy changed, and 1 for when he has wind or just wants to be picked up and held. He's not smiling yet, but he has a funny expression a bit like a smile that he gets if you tickle him or *boop* him on the nose. He has a playmat with some hanging toys like an elephant and a lion and a giraffe and a monkey, and he likes to grab at the elephant. Sometimes he manages to hang on to his tail. We've been discussing colours with him, and so far he favours blue, which produces a strong show of interest, with pink coming a close second. Turn-offs: brown. Black. He likes to hear songs, or just humming, and he likes to be bounced, especially if he's in your arms. When you're feeding him, he stares into your eyes, and sometimes tries to grab the bottle. A couple of days ago, he managed to hold the bottle for himself for about 20 seconds. He's trying to hold his head up a lot, and usually only manages it for a couple of seconds. I feel for him; he's a strong little tyke, but his head is half the size of his body, so it's a tough task. Overall verdict, both medical and otherwise: Joshua is thriving, lovely, cute, healthy and in all ways excelsior!

How are we doing? That's trickier. I'm adjusting to having less free time to spend doing all kinds of luxurious things like playing chess and playing Civ4 and writing nodes and, uh, talking to my girlfriend. Jo is tired all the time. She may still have some kind of lingering infection, and she's going back to the doctor tomorrow. We're not getting to spend a lot of time together that isn't 100% focused on the baby's needs. We knew it would be like this, so it's not putting massive strain on our relationship or anything; it's just difficult. A typical day will see Jo getting up at 3:30am and, if she's lucky, getting another couple of hours sleep between 4am and 6am. Then she'll be awake all day with Joshua; even if he sleeps, she doesn't sleep during the day. I get home about 6 and take over; she stays awake till about 10pm and then crashes out. I stay up until about 2am. It's working OK so far. It's not exactly something that we'd like to sustain long-term, but then, he's not going to be 1 month old for long. Bedtimes should settle down and he should start sleeping longer. Also; in 1 month's time I will no longer be working in an office, and we'll be living in the country, near Jo's family.

Dishes cause wakefulness. They do. It turns out that the sharp, sudden sound of dishes and glasses touching each other, even lightly, is a major cause of Babies Waking. When he's asleep we tread lightly and speak softly and we don't touch the dishes, even to put them into the dishwasher. There's no feeling of stupid as stupid as the feeling of stupid that a stupid dad gets when he's trying to pack the stupid dishwasher quietly and he stupidly fumbles a stupid dish and it crashes into all the other stupid dishes and makes a giant sharp sudden horrible stupid crashing noise and the baby wakes up and starts crying. Stupid daddy. But when he's asleep, everything drifts like a cruise liner in the tropical sun, passengers out on deck in sunglasses sipping cocktails. He waves his hands around sometimes when he's dreaming and we wonder what he can possibly be dreaming about. I wish I could see inside his head at those times. Giant blue dishes rolling down endless hills that look like sofas, huge floating cartoon heads speaking gobbledygook in a vast white sky with a lampshade stuck in the middle? Or things far stranger, that we can't even imagine? Memories of another place? Bare neurons firing sparks in a grey void?

He doesn't like orange. I tried to explain to him that the bright orange I was showing him was the exact colour of his own poo, but he wasn't having any of that. He knows what he likes, and no amount of noise from my giant mouth is going to make him look at that colour with any degree of interest. Turn the page: Blue! Yay! Eyes widen. Daddy's blue work shirt is also a big hit. Eyes following it as I walk across the sitting room to get my bike on my way out. Blue is my favourite colour too and I am uncertain as to whether this is a coincidence and I like to think not.

Ann's cat, Hunter, died this morning. He was 14.

He always had an enlarged heart. Our vet said that one day he would just fall over, and that would be it. I guess today was that day.

He must have gotten out of our bed sometime in the night, and headed for the food dish in the bathroom. I found him just inside the door, next to the radiator. To me, it seemed he had a surprised look on his face. Our other cat, Henry, was standing there looking at him. I wondered how long things had been fucked up like this, while we slept barely ten feet away.

There was no warning for this at all. Yesterday, he was his usual self. He cried for about ten minutes after I got home, which was the usual routine. He sat on the couch with Ann while we watched television, and hopped into bed with Ann when she went in there to read. Another perfectly normal day here, which made today's events all the more surreal.

We freaked out a little bit at first, and then we found a box and gently placed him in it. Ann called the veterinarian, and I got in the shower to get ready to start this very bad day. And I was fine until I went to turn the water on, and then I came unglued for a few minutes.

Hunter hated me. This was very clear from the beginning. He threw up on me stuff. He rubbed his ass in my face while I was sleeping. He cried and cried for no reason, and wouldn't stop no matter what we did. He was kind of a dick, and I told him that all the time. Okay, specifically I told him he was "some kind of asshole kitty." And I would tell other people about how I hated him.

Today, and I am eating those words plenty. I will be for a very, very long time.

We took him downstairs and into the car. He seemed to weigh about a hundred pounds as I sat with the box on my lap on the drive to the vet. I alternated between trying to hold it together and openly bawling the entire trip. Ann was amazingly composed throughout. Later tonight, she will come home and it will be my turn to be amazingly composed while she loses it. This is part of what makes us a good team.

I like our vet. When we got up to the counter, all of the paperwork was already filled in. All we had to do was sign, choose an urn, and pay. I don't think I was able to even say a word the entire time we were in there. They took the box into a back room, and that was it. He was gone.

I went to work, but there was no point in it. I spent the whole morning thinking about him, and Ann, and Henry. I left around one this afternoon, and followed Henry around the house as he looked and sniffed and walked very low and scared.

Henry has been sitting on my lap for the last hour. And when he gets up, I'll follow him around again while he investigate every corner of the house looking for Hunter, and failing. My throat hurts. My eyes hurt. I don't know what to do.

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