Little Kerouac reading his new library book, on insects.
Little Kerouac reading his new library book, on insects.
with two moody and excessively hyper kids has this face.
And a beer.
What Time Is It? Go, GO!
Every have one of those mornings where your alarm doesn’t go off, but your whatever-month old does? She cries for food, saying something in here head like, “Are you serious? You’re still sleeping? I’m frickin’ starving down here!” Thankful she did, otherwise who knows how long we would have slept in, all of us. Even still, we woke late, which set the morning off in a stressful way. Just the tone of the morning was more rushed than usual, it seemed. And it’s Tuesday, of course. Tuesdays always suck. “How much time do I have left?” I kept asking myself, looking at the clock on the oven. The morning we have to get out as quick as possible so we’re not there getting reading when Ricardo’s angelic cleaning crew is there to give us new life. And this is no exaggeration, if it weren’t for them, seriously, when the hell would we find time to clean? Anyway, we rushed and rushed, Alice jumping in the shower and me changing Emma while she cried horridly for her mother. Eventually I was able to distract her, but it took quite some time and coercion— having to break out every toy I could find, do every funny cartoon or sill voice I could conjure, all while Jackie was by himself downstairs watching the new ‘Thomas the Train’ Halloween DVD I bought him last night while grocery shopping, after leaving work at about 7. It’s obvious that we as parents battle time constantly. That’s the known, or the “problem” even thought it’s not much a problem but an unavoidable reality.
So, finally, after leaving both babies at school, I have less than 30 minutes to collect and get started on my newest article. Don’t expect these #papablogga blurbs, or articles if they’re even articles, to be scheduled or posted on any told day. I’ll post them whenever I have time. Whenever the world schedules me, or allows me. By “world” I mean my family’s world. Alice and I swear up and down to each other that we’ll do the next morning different, that we’ll set our alarms and when we get home from work we’ll start prepping for the next day, so the next morning won’t be such a typhoon of ‘do do do!’. But you know how that goes, right? What are the remedies? What are the solutions? Is this just another math problem, with time management and allocating a certain clod of minutes to do this for Jack, then this for Emma— Oh, and what about me, I have to get ready to. Huh, I barely did this morning. These mornings, become more mathematical, and I have always been a slug with math, a tangible slug, like how quick the continents move… Can’t think of an effective analogy, but you get the point. Maybe tonight will be the night we finally do it, my wife and I, prep completely for the morning so the morning’s not such a bloody morning. What do you think? Can we do it? Do you? What do you do? What can you recommend? I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. Oh, you wanted answers reading my columns? Oh then you’re, yeah, very much in the wrong journalistic palm. I’m looking for answers. We are, wife and I. That’s why I started this. Well, sort of, but to start conversation, to make parenting not easier, but more controlled. Lower the amount of stress, and maybe even variables.
I think about Emma not waking us. What if the morning went another way? It’s not so bad, actually, the way it betided. I mean, here I am, at least getting a rough draft down. Both babies at school this raining morning (and that’s another thing that slowed us, the rain, with the traffic 101 South, everyone driving maniacally), and me here to have time for me, be here with just me, another necessity for ANY parent— time to Self. More on that later. For now, I’m going to enjoy my mocha, this funky breakfast sandwich Starbucks heated for me, and finally move slow, enjoy what morning I have left.
(10/17/16) 7:05, putting pants on, waiting for Jack’s waffles to toast. Only one coffee sip under the writer’s belt. 45-minute run planned when I get back home. Quite sure I’m going to drop the 3pm 1A class next semester. Too big a gap between that and the earlier 7:30-9 English 5. I’ll take a second class, but one only immediately after the 7:30-9.
Use restroom, about to sip coffee, Jackie eats the waffles, watches Thomas.. Me over here thinking about the book I’m finishing. Why did I ever think about or put even the sliverest of slivers into small page collections? My impatience. That’s it. Obvious. But I’m changing, I just thought washing my hands. Telling Janet that I’m dropping the 1A for something earlier is a significant step for this writing daddy, adjunct. Telling them it’s unacceptable, such a layover between classes, that I deserve something better, something that works for me– oh I can’t wait to tell her. And not with any malice, just firmness. I want to hear this new Mike say it.
Emma up… Starts with puffs then to apple saws– sauce! No time to spell.. Typing in home.. PHONE. TYPING ON PHONE!!!
Getting gas… No run. Will write for 120 mins when home. Set the timer. Today has to be a day moving me. Loser to the travels, to my reality– the me I need be. Cold outside, no rain, crisp atmosphere. Maybe I should run.
Home. Decide no run, even after seeing that girl running on Marlow. Should I?? No… Devoting whole morning to writing, my book, my career.. How I want to be seen. Coffee machine cuing, me waiting, enjoying quiet house after frenzy morning, another one.
Cup one, brewing, typing on phone realizing I’m five minutes late to sitting. 9:30 was my clock-in time. Good thing I’m self-employed. Or at least today I am… Now cup two a-brew. Will sip both from the mother-in-law tumbler as usual, put on Hutcherson station, and fly– cup done, now to work…
9:42 and at laptop, listening to an old Miles track, “I See Your Face Before Me”. Seeing myself on an airplane, traveling east, hardly able to wait till I can fly back home to see my babies, wife, be in my own home. I know I wanted the travel, but I only want to be with my kids. This morning in the quiet house, all to myself, sipping coffee and wondering what next semester will bring with only one class, if any classes at all.. where is this story going, of this writing father? Well, I guess I’d have to ask myself, where do I want it to go? Distracted by the fucking clutter on this desk.. aggravated by the mess, the stuff we unwillingly compile in our lives.
Interrupted by my own lack of concentration, pulled away by the piles and piles, putting one on floor and moving another from one side of the desk’s top to another. “Lotta good that did,” I say to myself, sneer. Sip the coffee again, tempted to check my phone but won’t let myself. Sip coffee again, think, put phone on other side of desk. Why did I do that? That girl I saw running on the way home— Maybe I should go out, just for 45 minutes. No, stay in the goddamn chair, I yell at myself. Not just “say”, but truly order, instruct. Writing for me has now become something different. Somedays I’m more serious than others. I tell my students to know their habits and places where they like to write, who they are as writers but I have satisfied nada of the above. What I’m trying to change with this sitting, this hour or so in the chair. Love this song, “Cool On The Coast” by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. Relaxes, and not as stressed as I was earlier getting the babies ready for launch to school, I write on. Déndendu (relaxed), me, finally. But am I just killing time or am I writing with some purpose, some mission or grand intention? I want to go outside and scream at the day, tell it, “Well, sorry if you have other plans, but you’re doing what I want you to, okay?” What do you think it would say? Does it have the gall to answer back? Same writer, ab initio, but not. I’m trying to figure out in this sitting exactly what I want to say, what I want to do, so I can stop the wishlisting and the vows and promissory writings I annoy myself with.
Not worried about typos from earlier, even though I’m now tempted to scroll up and edit, revise and polish but “no way, fuck that” bounces around in my head like my son Jack was around the family room floor this morning, Emma just looking at him in either amazement or terror. I know that if I just woke up earlier, so much would change. Then why the ‘feck’ don’t I? How ‘bout this, a last promise, or wishlisted speak: Tomorrow, 4AM wake, 3 pages before leaving for winery, start readying for early vicious session now, or after these thousand or so words. The writer-father need get ahead of time, and the ONLY way to do so is to wake earlier than I ever have, and not just make it an occasional thing, but a pervasive lifestyle shift. I demand people recognize me as a militant and disciplined writer— Okay, then start acting like it. Agreed, ‘nother sip…
Messages from wife, asking if babies were okay this morning. She’ll have to read the blog, and later book, to get complete account. 10:03.. I’ll get in shower right before 11. “Ahhh…” I hear my mind sigh. Just enjoying my morning jazz, coffee, words, confession or inner detailings of a writing father, just wanting singularity, simplicity, no more of this adjunct nonsense, the 5+ hour layovers between classes. Today is monumental, where I tell them what I want, just like I tell the day, and this sitting, the coffee, myself. I don’t see anything around me— no clutter, no phone, not even the Kerouac books, or my composition book, the running magazines, my keys, the check I wrote the other day to Ricardo the successful housecleaning entrepreneur without which my wife and I would subsist in constant ick.
Music while waiting for coffee
I bring it in and
drown it out, sunday
to be awake. Jackie and I downstairs, for what we call “cartoons and coffee morning”. Or, Saturday morning. How we say “Saturday morning” in our speak. Waffles in toaster, the blueberry kind he likes, and me on the floor typing this while he watches. No surprise, I failed to wake at 4. And I’m tired now, yawning here and there. How does my mother-in-law do it? 4 miles “under her belt” as she said yesterday morning, before even getting ready to come to our house. Again, how does she do that? I know one trick— go to bed earlier. Huh, what a revelation.
Had to go up and take Emma from her little den, or ‘pack-n-play’, whatever, and play with her for a little before handing her to Alice for another feeding. Angry at self for not waking at 4 to write— wait, did I even set my alarm? No? Well, that’s a problem.
Thinking about what I wrote yesterday, about the smaller more pamphlet-esque releases/publications. Yeah, not part of the plan anymore or EVER again. Only books… Sizable, formidable, aggressive books. Goddamnit, I cannot spell this morning, having to backtrack and repair the red underlined sentences. Jackie not eating his waffles after I just reheated them, me saying “Eat your waffles or bye-bye Monsters [,Inc.].” So he eats, then stops about 30-seconds following. Thinking maybe I’ll forget about the warning I just gave him. Are you serious? You little bugger… “Jackie. EAT. YOUR. WAFFLES. NOW…” He takes one bite, stretches, laughs at me. “Okay, that’s it…”
Rain projected for today but I don’t care. Has no impact on my writing or what I do at the winery today. When they predict rain, or a certain amount, it either doesn’t happen at all or is 80% less than what they foreshadowed, I’ve found. Random daddy thought, never mind. Still trying to be my usual energetic morning writer self. Tired of writing. I want cartoons.
as yesterday morning he was at his Grammy’s house.. “I miss you, Dada,” he said, ordering me awake when all part of me wanted to do was sleep but the other part only wanting to be a Dada. So we play with cars, no interruptions or intersections with anything that could take us off-course. Jackie plays and lines them up, stacks them atop the other then changes the arrangement as he wishes. I study his patterns and motions as to how he wants them arranged, he lectures as he moves but I’m not at his level yet, it’s apparent. So I make coffee, just watch and note here on the laptop as my son entertains the reality of cars, their classifications, from color to model. How he knows so well the type of car is beyond my mental holding. My mood sinks, though, as I’ll be at work all day, and our time together is thin, and rapidly emaciating as I type each letter. I frustrate, try to elevate my mood by focusing on him but it’s a futile gallop. The more I enjoy my time with him only reminds me how brief it’s to be. Thinking to myself, “Why can’t I have weekends off like other parents?” All day at the winery yesterday young families coming in with their babies, or toddlers, and me thinking of what my babies were doing at home, what were they playing, what were they learning, what was Jack was teaching nearly 10-month Emma about cars and how to line them up, the sounds they make… How much am I currently missing, have I missed? But I can’t do this to myself for too long. I can’t be in this type of mood around Jack— And why didn’t I get up at 4? Tomorrow I will run for 10+. That should get me back to a condition for the ‘half’, one week from today. My mood is fragile this morning, wandering, in a punitively bent trot, I’m sure one of those dad moments that so many fathers, and mothers, can relate to— just wanting to stay home with your kids. I will soon have more freedom in my work life and schedule to where I WILL be home with my babies on Saturday, Sunday, be able to play with Emma, Jack as he lines up his Porsches, Mustangs, Indy Cars…
Drinking my coffee as Jackie eats his cereal and watches Ninja Turtles. “Daddy, I think you gave me to much cereal, I don’t think I can eat all this.” I respond assuring him it’s not a big deal, “Just eat what you can and Daddy’ll eat the rest, okay?” He insists we turn off the lights so it feels like a movie theatre. My disposition’s repaired, and I’m more or less ready for the day but if I truly had my way, I’d be home. “Soon,” I tell myself, “soon.” And I hope so, ‘cause I don’t want to miss too many more mornings or car workshops or anything of anything too many more times. Time’s just growling by me, as if to punish me for something. Odd, as all I want to do, really, is be Dada.
Home from run. Called in both classes as Emma’s cold or whatever it is persists and I’ll be taking her to the doctor later. Appointment’s at 4, I think. Yeah, decided the writing father needs a day to collect certain ideas and meditate on certain realities, possibilities… one of which broadsided me this morning, an idea I’ve played with with extreme infrequency but never give it any dedicated dote. Well, I thought about it the entire run, formulating more a less a business plan and budget in head. No specifics here cited, just know this tentative assembly is done with my babies and wife in mind, providing the most comfortable and worry-free life possible, plating every opportunity possible for my babies.
I return from the run more motivated as a papa than I’ve ever been, that’s certain. All writing fathers and parent have the contours in their heads, these convictions that give way to other conviction, always with those faces in mind, your children. In their heads, you’ll take care of everything. It’s not an expectation, it’s an already accented and cemented acceptance. Daddy will solve everything. Some dads filter this and it materializes as pressure and stress, angst and even resentment. Me, I’m electrified at the reality and challenge of providing for my family, my writing saunters and skips across the page with more prance, more passion and music.
The house quiet, not wasting even a most microscopic breath in working. Poured self another ice water, brewed coffee. After this entry, researching approached for this new idea that hovered above and beside and inside me on the run like a curious phantasm, just wondering how I’m going to respond, how far I’ll go with the idea. “OH,” I thought, “I will go quite far, don’t worry.” No, this “day off” isn’t a day off at all, I will just be a carnivore for possibilities— swimming in my oceans of curiosities and hypotheticals. I’m still very much running, rewriting and writing and re-re-rewriting my story. With little Emma and Jackie in sight. Made more than the “right” choice calling classes off. It was the only way I could steer this narrative. I’m composed and content and collected with pages flying around this home office. Sip water, what’s left, now to coffee. What the writing father has to do is build with this new idea… investigate, notes, research, and then just bloody leap.
Too much measuring and planning keeps you in one place. And by extension, will keep my family in one place. Realizing I’m a different kind of writer. Like I’m on assignment, but not. Like I’m employed, but anything but. Thinking of Emma, how she’s feeling, and Jack and what he’s learned to say today, what new wit he sharpens before returning home. All seven of the run’s miles put me in a meditative hold, that won’t let me stop running, yes, but as well orders me to change. Immediate, material change. I play this music louder, celebrating, sipping coffee, seeing what’s ahead for us.