Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eight Months: Part Deux (werebaby)

Quinn has appropriated our bed. She's taken it for herself and once we try to get it back for ourselves or even share it with her, she reminds us who's the boss. It's gotten to the point where the only thought I have when it is time for bed is this, "Do I really have to go to bed right now?" I know that we're in for a long night and even though it's all I can do to keep my eyes open and yawns interrupt every other word, I'll do anything to avoid the banshee scream of our daughter.

Xtimu offers that we should buy a sofa bed and I have to admit that the nights I wait up late for my lovely wife, I find that crashing on the sofa is sweet bliss. But how long is this going to last?

For the first five months Quinn was a dream at night. She slept completely through the night 90% of the time. We simply placed her in the crib and wouldn't hear a peep until morning, the exact opposite of Lucas. He was so difficult at night for the first three months, then gradually slept longer and woke up less. Now he's completely moved into his own bed in his own room and he adapted to that instantly. But the older that Quinn becomes, the more sensitive she is to our night activities.

I was very curious to see how we would respond to our second child. With the first one, every little detail seems so important and the responsibility that you feel toward their growth is overwhelming at times. I knew that it would be different with Quinn but never realized how much seems so unnecessary this time around...well, maybe not unnecessary but somehow made more efficient. Also, there are certain things that would've seemed impossible with Lucas but happen so naturally. Maybe some of it has to do with how much we've changed in the last four years; cooking more, conscientious about health and money, more time in the home; but it's also because we feel so much more comfortable...

...except at night. One of the major differences is that Lucas was so much more adaptable with our comforting techniques but with Quinn she's so rigid. With Lucas I would get up in the middle of the night and serenade him with the beauty of music and the dad-walk. Quinn's response to the dad-walk is to gradually escalate her complaints in my ear until I am completely deaf. It's becoming more and more apparent that the only thing that she wants at night is the boob, which is terrible for Xtimu. She wakes up more exhausted than when she laid down her head.

So...that brings us back to the sofa-bed. I've been hoping that the little one would eventually wear down and sleep more, the way that Lucas did but apparently the only ones wearing down are her loving parents. Now that I think about it, for Xtimu's sanity (as well as my own after all), we should start shopping for furniture.

The crazy thing about it all is that Quinn is a different baby during the day. She's all smiles and hardly ever gives us an ounce of regret. She will go to anyone, adopt them as her own and brighten their day with her presence. She is a beauty beyond compare and each morning the sun shines in her eyes. At night, once the moon fills the room, she turns into a monster! My new hypothesis is that she's afraid of the dark, that something in her nature, her karma, despises the darkness. She wakes from a wonderful dream to find the world swallowed by shadows and her brain freaks! It's so hard to see in so many ways but mostly because it's the fourth time she's done it in two hours! After awhile our compassion has fled out to sleep on the sofa and it's probably cursing desperately under its breath at the fact that we still haven't gotten a sofa-bed.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


(photo courtesy of Reid Hawkins)

(start at the beginning)

Part Three

Sylvia could feel the damp residue clinging around her eyes from where she splashed her face and she imagined that her husband wasn't going to be happy about her appearance. He was probably already fuming over her abrupt departure earlier, though the thought of his concerns never entered her head as she fled from the roll in her belly and the ominous pressure of the shadows over their table. None of it mattered now because this night was over. The man that she married could wallow in his own slop for all she cared. She was leaving as fast as humanly possible.

She wiped at the wetness as if pushing away tears and once her vision came back to her, she was suddenly aware of the quiet in the room. Although the room had been far from full, she couldn't imagine that everyone had decided to leave at the same time. Besides, wouldn't other customers have arrived, seeing the notoriety of the place. Perhaps her husband's source wasn't as reliable as he imagined, at least when it came to suggesting restaurants.

The darkness of the room brought back the reason that she fled and she suddenly felt goosebumps rise up on her arms, though the room was far from cold. Something wasn't right and an uneasiness washed over her as she traversed the floor to her table. The broad light, that made the setting seem like a stage revealed only empty space and silence, so quiet that Sylvia heard the short gasp that burst from her lips. She was getting scared and there was no mistaking it, the restaurant was now vacant. For a moment she imagined that her husband was behind it all, that he'd set up some surprise party and all of her friends would jump out of the shadows to request the smile that came from the humor of a good joke. But there was no reason for such an occasion; no birthday or anniversary, no childhood acquaintances that she'd care to meet, and on top of it all, her husband didn't have the imagination to pull off such a blunder. No, this wasn't planned and she definitely wasn't in on the joke.

Sweat began to pour from the moist area beneath her arms as she wandered over to the front door. For the second time that evening, she had a frantic urge to escape into the night, push out into the cool night air and breath again. She realized that this muted pounding of fear, or panic, that was thrumming inside her right then was so heart-achingly familiar she thought that tears really would spring from her eyes. This need for flight had become second nature for her, a synthetic sheathing that encompassed her entire life, so natural that she forgot to name it. She'd grown a new skin the moment that she married that man and it buffered against all the sane feelings of walking right out the door. She swallowed a bitter lying pill that caused her to accept the curse of insanity, to live in a world that refused to give perspective to her heart, to make her believe all the terrible atrocities accepted and done to her name, to stiffen herrself in a thoughtless way against the leaden weight of a vicious and oppressing hand. The life that she knew, the society that held her sway, all of it but most distressingly, her unholy union, was horrendous!

Yeah, she should escape. She should walk right out that door. So that's what she did.

But the door was locked.

Her entire soul groaned. This was a test, that's the only way that she could deal with it. She'd always passed all of her exams and in order for her soul to come out sane was to harden herself to this task. Which wasn't so easy by the way, the locked door pushing her weakening mind toward some shadowy wormhole.

A sound came from a the kitchen making her turn abruptly, the tension in her shoulders flaring hot white. It sounded like someone may have dropped a metal spatula, a mundane occurrence in any normal culinary establishment but not here. It was more like the lightning slash of a knife that horror movies always tried to simulate. She suddenly felt like a young Jamie Lee Curtis, praying that she would make it through the night without some b-actor lopping her head off.

What could she do? Even though the audience screamed from their seats in rejected agony, there was really only one course of action left to her. She slowly walked over to the double-hinged swinging plastic door that led to the kitchen, each step raising her heart rate. She tried to peer through the circular plexi-glass window just above her eyesight, creeping up onto her tiptoes, but all she could see was fuzzy light, no movement. She pushed the door open so slowly that it seemed to take an eternity, every second lasting longer than the one before. It was no cliché, fear made every moment last forever. Yet, she didn't make a sound and once the door was open she could hear voices. She was sure that one of them was the waiter and her heart surge, though she didn't understand why? Because her sleuthing skills were second to none?

Then she could make out some of what they were saying.

“...got him...should go back.”

“She must be out of the bath...can't afford mistakes.”

“...well done yeah.”

Laughter, lots of people were laughing.

“...go get her then.”

Sylvia's mind was racing. What the hell was going on? Where was her godforsaken husband? She was going to kill the sonofabitch but then it all began to dawn on her. She shouldn't be there. She just had to get out no matter what, her stupid husband be damned.

She heard footsteps coming toward her from the direction of the voices. She slid back out of the brightly lit room, still trying not to make a sound and turned quickly to go. Maybe there was a window in the bathroom that would let her out of this nightmare but she never made it back to that dank place. Instead, she walked straight into a fat man and for a brief instance relief flooded through her, although the feel of her husband had never given her such relief before. It was strange all right but the sense of joy that surged like electric current with the familiarity of her arms wrapped around him soon began to wane. Something wasn't quite right and a nagging truth seemed to hover in the back of her mind.

Then she looked up into the horrible face of the man who'd stared luridly at her when they entered the restaurant. He was definitely smiling at her with an evil smile now, so her initial instincts regarding his nature were absolutely true...and in his hand was a glistening butcher knife.

Sylvia was shoved gruffly by her nemesis into the kitchen. The man insisted on holding the knife to her throat the entire time like he was some natural villain. It actually felt hopelessly surreal to her and the jostling that caused the edge of the blade to push at her larynx was like a jagged little prank. Her senses became heightened and her body hummed. She felt weirdly serene like the knife had already released her, her second skin writhing on the floor behind, trailing from an opened vein. When they finally reached the others, she'd completely shed the burden of her existence and was lighter than ever.

Everyone was there, which was hardly surprising but the scene was almost a mockery to her eyes, though in the end it was exactly what she expected. The familiar aroma when they first arrived that evening, the sickness that overcame her, the well-known looks on the faces of the other patrons; it all told the same story. Here was the man she married, til death do they part, laid out like full course meal. He wasn't quite dead yet but they'd pinned down his limbs so that he couldn't move and stuffed his mouth with...what is that...oh my god!

Sylvia almost laughed out loud and some of the wicked faces hovering over her husband faltered. But Sylvia wasn't looking at them. She had noticed that her husband's eyes, such a soft steel blue, still had life in them. They were desperately pleading for her to do something and Sylvia began to search her inner strength for some means of escape, if that was humanly possible.

“I found her trying to escape.”

The dumbass holding the knife to her throat had such a flare for the absurd, didn't he?

The waiter stood forth.

“Well, now that everyone is accounted for, I think that we can finally get under way with th evening's festivities.”

One of the thin older women actually nodded her head and licked her lips for chrissakes! This was getting way out of hand. Sylvia tried to pull out of her captor's grasp but he held her tight.

“Whoa, Nelly.”

These guys were a riot. Sylvia was bubbling inside and she could feel an enormous strength building deep within her. She sensed it surging forth, like an alternate identity, super-hero style.

The woman who licked her lips leaned forward and ripped open her husband's shirt to reveal his patchy chest.

“Let her watch.”

His eyes widened dramatically and Sylvia yelped...well, it was actually a burst of laughter that she could finally no longer keep within her. She was losing it all right and they all leaned from her, except for the idiot who held her. She was a loose wheel, wobbling with crazy symmetry that was making everything that they planned fall out of sync. But the strength...the strength was coming forth also and for a brief instance, her husband saw it too and hope glimmered in his eyes.

The final straw, the one that was her ultimate saving grace was the thought of her husband lying on some cheap and tawdry bed with a lithe woman, thinking that he was the king of the world just because he had spooped. Sylvia could clearly see the woman's hand rubbing that same chest hair that stood nakedly forth in the kitchen of a restaurant down an alley that no one could really find, sizing him up for this very moment. She used him for his body in the same way that he had used her's...consumption.

Yep, that's the way that it must've occurred and Sylvia was convinced of it. It was that very vision that brought out the strength within her, a strength that she'd always felt but never had to use. One day, it would always come one day when absolutely necessary. Now, when the chef stepped forward sharpening a long carving knife, Sylvia finally released it.


Her voice was absolute power and everyone shuddered backwards from the force of it, even the beef that clutched her from behind stumbled. Her husband felt it too and it widened his eyes more than ever. She shocked him. She shocked the lot of them and then she was free, yanking herself from the bear paws that grabbed at her. They all stopped as she stepped forward and leaned toward her husband. The light in his eyes flashed hope once again. Was it possible that she could save him? Then he looked into her eyes, really looked and saw deep into her heart. Fear sprang forth abruptly once again in the soft sky beneath his puffy eyelids but it was even bigger than fear, it was panic...such an intimate panic that it caused a smile to creep over Sylvia's lips. It was he who was trapped after all.

She turned and looked at all of them, their ashen faces that didn't know what to make of her. Finally she stopped on the one who looked just like her husband, ultimately it was he who would understand. It was wicked, what had painted her face.

“I got dibs.”

The End

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Spent a few minutes tonight speaking with the Christian Mythologists on my front porch. While Lucas immediately wanted to chase them off with a stick, the two fellows who approached my door seemed like pleasant gentlemen so I engaged in conversation with them. One was a young man in his late teens, who attempted to shove a booklet into my hands, and the other was a man in his late twenties, who clutched a bible close to his chest.

Now, I really do not like it when people approach me and say, "Here, take this." My first response is, "What the hell is it?" When I found out that it was propaganda of some various Christian sort I quickly declined, not wishing to add to the landfill and told them that I was Buddhist. Most of the time that sends them on their way but not this fine evening. They pressed the issue and I finally had to inform them of my exodus from the Christian life. They were a little shocked, which always happens, but then I suddenly found myself explaining the various reasons I don't believe in the biblical authoritarian view of God. I told them that I my version of God related more to the incredible vastness of the Universe and that instead of focusing on what happens when we die, what I find that is most important in life is how human beings relate to one another right now, during our present condition.

They continued to ask me many questions and as I was a little nervous, I probably wasn't making complete sense and was keeping things as abstract as possible, not dropping any Buddhist terms on them or anything. I wanted this dialogue to come from the perspective of our human similarities, something we could all understand. But the most important thing I needed them to comprehend was that the bible was not the ultimate truth for me and in actuality, I have some extreme issues with how it was edited and compiled and presented by people just like them.

Now, the two young gentlemen were very responsive and engaging with regard to what I had to say. They asked questions and said to me that they were impressed with how involved I was with understanding the philosophy of life in the best way possible, which I thought was very respectful to me as a human being. But out in the parkway, was an older man who was listening intently to the conversation. When it appeared the two younger gentlemen had accepted my explanations, at least to the point where they were about to leave, this other person spoke up.

The first thing he said to me was, "Can I give you this?" He was holding forth more propaganda. Once again I had to request that he inform me of its nature before I took it (apparently he wasn't listening when I declined their pamphlet earlier). He told me that it was the New Testament. Well, I already have one of those on the bookshelf in my living room so why would I need to take his, to save space in the landfill and all. They were all a bit surprised by this but then this older man proceeded to tell me the story of his connection with the bible. It was all very honest and sincere, but as he spoke about and quoted from this good book, I realized that he was using all of the same terms that I already refuted to his friends. I was stupefied so I explained to him what I had already told the other two guys, thinking that perhaps he wasn't listening earlier. Well, when he began again, he simply started right where he left off. The main thing that he was doing was referring to God as "He" or "His". This really irked me because the very first thing that I said to all of them was that I didn't like the biblical version of God; a man, out there somewhere, watching over us. Then, here was this guy speaking about God in those terms. What the hell?

Finally, I couldn't let the man blather on anymore so I asked him, "Why does God have to me a man?" Silence. He didn't know what to do. Finally he spoke and stumbled across this answer, "Because it says so in the bible."

Are you kidding me? That's it? This guy was too much and it suddenly became apparent to me that he was the leader of the trio, that he was simply there to observe the younger gentlemen as they proselytized then step in when they faltered. Well, I guess they picked the wrong house because if that's all that you got, "Because the bible tells me so", then you are pathetic. At least the first two guys engaged in real dialogue with me, they kept trying to bring it back around to their point of view, but they were actively involved in the conversation. At least they weren't robo-christian 3000, "MUST CONVERT HUMAN. BEFORE HE BURNS IN HELL. BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD." Jesus, man, if you want to have any effect on people you have to see them as human beings first, then you can worry about whether or not they should be converted.

And that's the real truth of it all in the end. Not everyone is going to connect to whatever religion or philosophy on life that is presented to them but there are a multitude of paths that can take us to where we want to go; enlightenment or heaven, ultimately happiness. The purpose of any religion is to help human beings find that place. I know that some people out there can discover the beauty of that notion using the bible and the Christian Mythology. That's great, by all means eat it up if that's what fulfills you, but when your philosophy takes you to a place where you only look at a person as a convert to your religion and not as a human being standing before you or help you communicate with that person strictly on a human level, then your philosophy has failed to serve its designed purpose.

We are all the same in a fundamental way. No matter what our life condition may be at this very moment, we all have the same unlimited potential as human beings. We can all strive, from this moment forth, to reach that heavenly ideal that exists in every religion. In Buddhism, it is a profound happiness that we call enlightenment. In order for religions to have the power to change the world in a truly positive way, this idea of perceiving every person with this amazing sense of equality must be at the center of the philosophy.

It felt extremely rewarding to speak to these people tonight, even though it was frustrating at times and I'm sure the leader of this troupe was probably just as irritated with me. Yet, I affected his life dramatically. I asked him a question that he couldn't answer with his limited perspective. I don't know, maybe that will open him up to the diverse world around him. I also believe that I connected with the two younger gentlemen who initially approached my home because as they bid me good night, the teenager gave me a quick, knowing smirk.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

47 Months

Lucas is almost four years old! Sometimes it's so hard to believe that we've come this far in such a natural way. We endeared to him from the moment he was born but so much of who he's become just seems to come from the earth, right through his shoes, into his heart and flowing forth with words and gestures and smiles and glimmering. He's a little changeling that reveals new aspects of growth right before our eyes. He's beautiful and frustrating and hopeful and eager and so full of energy and he's bursting with life. He's a little boy now and just about the cutest thing alive.

He's learning to swim. We took a class last month at the local rec center. It was a parent involvement class so I was in the water with him for two weeks. It was a such a joy to see him go from being terrified of the water to craving it, eagerly ready to jump in the pool and practice his kicks. He learned very quickly, which is something that also happens naturally. I know that there are some people who really struggle with the learning process but it was never something that was difficult for me. Show me once and I usually get it down pretty quickly. Well, Lucas is pretty much the same. He can do things just like that, snap. He's either a quick mimic or you can see his brain processing the information and then turning it around in a truly constructive way. Children simply have an enormous capacity to excel and when I look at our beautiful babies I wonder why we squash that natural inquisitiveness the older we get?

I remember growing up with a pool and the summers were incredible, such wonderful memories swelled up within me as Lucas and I were taking the swim class. I had an immense urge to move as quickly as possible to a house with a pool. I want him to grow up with a similar appreciation for a life in the water. One of the reasons that we haven't left San Diego for a more progressive environment (such as San Francisco) is due to the wonderful weather and the beautiful beaches, so it's part of his environment. Everyday he wants to go back to swim class.

Another issue that has arisen in his life is preschool. When he was first born, we were told that we needed to start looking at preschools and Xtimu and I were like "what?" But now that we're looking for something that might introduce Lucas to the school environment, everything that we look at either has a waiting list or is extremely expensive or both. I never imagined that we wold be spending this kind of money for preschool...preschool! I knew that we might have to think about it once he reached elementary maturity but preschool? Isn't it just glorified daycare? It's crazy!

Anyway, because of the fact that Lucas has never been in daycare of any kind, we're wondering whether all of this preschool stuff is really worth it? Couldn't we create just as much value by taking that money and using it buy various teaching tools that will help him advance right here in our home? Then he would have them here all the time, he could learn whenever he wanted and they would also be available to Quinn when she's ready for them. We could take some of that money and buy memberships to the many local establishments that help expand the mind (zoo, aquarium, museums, theatre, etc.) and take the time to get him engaged in our community. The more that we contemplate the issue, it just doesn't seem relevant to our situation. I guess that there are some important aspects of preschool that might help him socially, but is that really a huge concern at this age?

We just have so many questions and none of these schools are relieving our hesitations. I believe that it's in our best interest to challenge ourselves to become more involved in his education right now and becoming more involved is something we're already trying to address. Now that we have another baby, we are noticing the differences and varying quality of attention time that each of them require. Lucas needs us so much more than he did when he was six months old...or maybe not more, but more focused. He needs us to interact with him on a continual basis. So that's what we need to do and the more that we look at the options that are available in the society around us, the more we realize that we become better parents and better people the more that we take on these challenges for ourselves.

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