Towed and Staphed

Ahh… woke up this morning with a sick child (actually she’s been raspy-coughy for weeks but we finally decided we’d had enough) who we were going to keep home from school and take to the doctor. Then I went downstairs and peered out the front door window, where I noticed the dim glow of the streetlights was not illuminating my car. And the place where my car had been was marked only by a snow berm where the plow had gone around it.

To Alicia, who was upstairs getting dressed, this sounded like “Ohhh, ohhh no. No no no. Where’s my car? Ooohhhhhh…”

Also, today is our three-year wedding anniversary.

So I spent the morning at the St. Paul police impound lot (along with three hundred other people), patiently standing in line for the privilege of handing over $250 as a way of saying thank you to the city for moving my car 3/4 of a mile. That’s right, we live within rolling distance of the impound lot.

Then I took our lovely and incredibly tough but explosively grouchy daughter to the doctor’s office, which she’s now old enough to remember as the place where they shove sharp objects in her thighs, arms, and butt. Between the crying and screaming and prodigious quantities of snot covering her face, she looked like the creature from Alien. With a blankie.

Doctor diagnosed a probable staph infection, which is not the 15th episode of the TV comedy series Arrested Development, but the asexually-reproducing microbe that causes 500,000 hospital visits a year in the U.S. Remedied by a prescription of Zithromax in oral suspension, which is fine by Ayla since it tastes like sugar and doesn’t involve any stabbing.

So, now we’re home, getting ready to celebrate the three-year-long beginning of a very long endeavor (see my earlier thoughts on starting long things) with a rotisserie chicken, green beens, and, for me, a beer. Glamorous we are not.

But my car is back, my wife is here helping with the Alien, and I’m feeling remarkably good.

The Saddest Day of The Year

Oh man, I so knew day two would be way harder than day one. The first day of doing anything is hazardously easy. Like: I’m going to start training for a marathon! Or: I’m going to become a brain surgeon! Yup, until tomorrow when you realize doing those things involves countless repetitions of something that was underwhelmingly  fun the first time.

(Oh, hold on a minute while I go help Alicia corral Ayla in the bathroom, where she has unspooled three quarters of a roll or toilet paper. Ok, I’m back)

As I recall from my previous years of blogging, day two-hundred-and-whatever isn’t any better than day two; just more pressure, since you’ve managed to keep up an amazing unbroken chain of daily blogging, and now you addled mind can’t come up with one coherent (never mind interesting) thing to say. Or else you break your index and middle fingers on your left hand; try blogging daily with that shit.

Also, today the local news told me it’s officially the saddest day of the year, according to the national council of total assholes (or some group of psychologists, I can’t remember). The combination of suffocating winter, broken new year’s resolutions, mounting holiday bills and looming unholy-crappiness of February is cited as the reason. When I heard that I was like “What the fuck, News.” Out loud. In front of my two-year old.

Fortunately the also mentioned the happiest day of the year is June 17th. Only one-hundred-and-eighty-two not officially the saddest but still pretty depressing depending on your circumstances days from now. Of course, by then I’ll have nearly a book-and-a-half’s worth of complain-y blog posts in the bag, barring absurd finger injuries.

And also, for the record, today was a fine day. Better than average, even. I had coffee with a friend, did some work, played with Ayla and put her down for a nap, then played some tennis in the afternoon. At dinner Alicia and I listened while Ayla belted out children’s songs (Wheels on the Bus, etc.) as loudly as she could.

Shove it, psychologists. You may have local news on your side, but today we’re happy, and I’m not letting you bring us down with you.

The sound of …

… your daughter coughing and sniffling in her sleep on the baby monitor. How she moans ‘mommy, mommy’ when the discomfort finally is enough to wake her up. Her heavy, labored breath after you go up, feed her Tylenol with a dropper, and pat her back to sleep.

No Pressure

I used to carry a little notebook around with me everywhere I went. I’d steal the notebooks (they were like miniature legal pads) and ballpoint pens from work, and had dozens stacked in a desk drawer. In them, I’d just write down observations about whatever I happened to be looking at. I was in college then, riding the bus a lot, so much of it was about the people riding with me, or the bus drivers, or the weather, or the ways the dirt collected on windows, or how I was feeling about life that day.

I developed a unique shorthand discernible only by me. It was basically my fastest, messiest handwriting, with lots of vowels subtracted (amazing how legible words are without the vowels; try taking the consonants out and you’re screwed). The scrawl had another unusual quality; the more time that passed, the harder it became to decipher.

These things are still in a box somewhere in my bedroom closet, beneath old dress shirts and dusty boot-laces. I bring up the whole exercise to remind myself how much more dedicated I used to be; to being creative, insightful, and aware. Or at least pretending to be. I had so much less fear of making mistakes then. Now I can’t be bothered to bring a notebook around with me, much less do anything with the notes afterward. To be fair, I never take the bus anymore, and it’s impossible to take notes while you’re driving with a two-year-old screaming in the back seat.

Still, something about my former self’s attempt to develop artistically makes me feel kind of ashamed. Like I had abandoned that person’s dreams  in favor of laziness, sufficiency, competence and small victories.

I just hurried back from an hour-long walk that I cut short to ten minutes. It’s four degrees and I wore inadequate clothing (especially pants; my dick was freezing), but that’s not why I turned back. After a third day of sitting around the house doing nothing, feeling mildly depressive and uninteresting, the brisk walk sparked some inspiration.

I noticed burnt-red dried grasses sticking out from under the piles of snow, like slender, pretty girls with fat men sitting on them. A retaining wall had a sheet of ice hanging off it, with an inch of space between, melted by the magnified afternoon sun. In the alley, I (rushing home already, somewhat crazed, I guess) passed by the opened trunk of a minivan, full of trash bags, with a darty-eyed young person looking out at me from the back seat. She looked like a raccoon stealing from a garbage can.

I thought about my notebooks, about whether I’d be able to bring back my shorthand, even with gloves on, and despite many years of disuse. Meanwhile a pajamed lady walked a dog and tapped a piece of firewood on a stack of its brethren. I wanted to write it down, thinking how good it would be, and knowing, actually, that it probably wouldn’t. I raced, non-literally, back home, noting the clock (really, just ten minutes?) and flipping my boots off, and the laptop open. And here I am.

I am plagued by irresolution. I keep setting up little disciplines to try to adhere to, but I never make them stick. Thirty pushups every morning; lasted eight days. A walk every day before lunch; two days. Keeping a daily journal about my daughter, three weeks, variously interrupted. Makes me wonder why I insist on committing to doing things every day, or every-so-many days, when I’m obviously unable to do them. The little notebook observations, which was so long ago, I managed to do every single day for months and months. That feels like an accomplishment to me, though the notes are now mostly illegible and probably not very interesting anyhow. But compared to that I have now only a crushing sporadicism.

So I decided to start blogging again. That I would dedicate myself, unambiguous and single-minded-ly , to writing down something every day in a form other people could read. Something funny, something boring, something honest, something sad. But something. What a stupid idea; I will never be able to do it.