The last thing I wrote was some serious introspection about the transitions that come as decades pass. From that writing, it would seem they (transitions) really seem to come in ordinated clusters. In the case of 42-32-22-12-2, the ordination would be 10-year spans. Transitions happen much more frequent, and it is only when you start an inward dive into your psyche that you find the patterns. Our brains are wired for patterns, which is why they seem so meaningful when we spot them. I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could have found equivalent transition points at 40-30-20-10-0, or 44-34-24-14-0. It helps when you have more than one life changing moment (brain surgery, trips to the Amazon, multiple cross-country moves). Transitions don’t have to be life changing to be significant. They can be the everyday mundane things that happen and that only later on, while you are deep in thought, do you realize were seminal. These are the thoughts I had this evening. Thoughts that were too mundane and detailed for social media, but substantial enough that I wanted to write them down. This is what a blog is for. It is for me. To write. If you want to read, great, if you don’t that is also fine. I’m not sure where these events and ideas will fall between life altering and daily meaningless dribble, but here they are…
After spending all weekend working with Katie on potty-training today was her first day of preschool. Sara went back to work full time and we found a lovely preschool for Katie to attend. Up to now, Kate has only been with us. Her only babysitters have been family. She hasn’t had a lot of intensive interaction with kids her own age. We see Cousin Betsy regular, but that is generally unstructured and a bit chaotic, as it usually occurs around holidays. For Kate this is two big changes in a few short days. She’s cool with it. She, at 2 ¾ doesn’t have the complicated, over-thinking, brain attached to her parents. She just rolls with the changes. For us these changes are less exciting and more frightening. Letting Kate into the care of strangers (even those licensed and bonded by a state agency) is not something I was looking forward too. I feel privileged that we were able to afford to be a single income family for such a long time, where Sara could be home with Kate. It is not something that every family can afford (which is a discussion – childcare, family leave, etc. – for another blog). Kate was more than ready for some additional learning and structure and other playmates. She needs to learn more about peer-peer social interaction than she does need to learn how to identify all the birds at our backyard feeder (we’re still going to work on that, but just a bit less). We were not ready. Sara can speak for herself, but for me it was a difficult weekend followed by an emotional Monday morning. Realizing that Katie was learning (and pretty well) to use the potty was one more layer of the infant cocoon shed, while the child emerges. I want her to be successful and I’m happy not to change any more diapers, but there is a sadness. The same with dropping her off at school this morning. Part of me wanted her to have a fit, to cry and scream and demand to leave with us. But that isn’t what happened. She jumped into the daily flow of pre-school with both feet. New toys, new friends, everyone sitting down for breakfast. I can say there was a tear shed in the Rambler as I continued on to work this morning. It is my job as a parent to be fearful, to be wary of childhood’s transitions, to let Kate find her natural speed of progression. Life is too long to push her out of childhood. We found a good school, with good teachers. It has a cool learning/atmospheric concept as an intergenerational pre-school. The school is housed in a retirement/elder care facility. The kids and “neighbors” (as the older residents are referred to) get together several times during the week to participate in different activities. I think it is great for both groups. After work, I picked Kate up. She was full of stories and songs and in high spirits. She requested the whole Trolls Soundtrack and various songs from Sing. I did sneak a Fitz and the Tantrums song in there (who can resist the Hand Clap). The report from the teacher was great. She didn’t nap for long and wanted to gather her new cohort for additional playtime. This was not surprising, who can nap when there are toys to play with and new kids to interact with. But she is excited to go back tomorrow, and I’m a little less fearful.
I also want to write about my facial hair. I’ve had a moustache and goatee since I could grow them (~1993). I certainly would have gone full beard but alas, genetics has not made me so substantially hirsute. I grow it wear it grows, trimmed to what I find generally stylish. Off and on, I choose to sheer away the lip and chin growth, often at the pleading and prodding of those who would suggest that my sense of style is suspect or that I look much younger without it. Indeed, now I do look younger, as the hair on my chin has grown decidedly white. But mostly I’m happy with my look and I like to remain slightly hairy. Once in a while, a trim is required. When I can no longer drink from a mug or cup without dribbling liquid down the side of my face (mostly onto my shirts). When it looks as though I was in a beard-growing contest with the late 90s Houston Astros, it is time for a trim. This morning was one of those days. I have a nice electric trimmer and this morning set to work. Unfortunately for me, I had a lot on my mind and looking in the mirror reminded me of all the things on my to do list. That momentary lapse of concentration resulted in a missing chunk of my moustache on the right side. Since the Charlie Chaplin look was ruined, I knew for the sake of balance, the rest of the moustache would have to go. This also required the removal of the goatee, because I am not Sammy Haggar. I am not able to rock chin hair without a moustache, just as I am also not able to not drive 55, I don’t own my own dance club, or my own brand of tequila. So all the hair went (except for a couple of wily fellows I would find much later in the day, sprung forth like a couple of old man eyebrow hairs). Without my white chin hair, I of course look younger (but also fatter but that is likely self-perception). Luckily, my whole personality is not based on facial hair. The loss is annoying, but it will eventually grow back.
I also want to write about email anxiety. I hate to have unread email, HATE IT. I once saw that Sara had 23433 unread emails and it made me shudder. The problem arises in that I have five email addresses (not including one for my dog and one I made for Kate so that she can have her own name later when she starts using email – you know like in a year from now). I have one work email that I use exclusively for work. I have two personal emails, one for bills, and one for professional and personal communications. I have two junk emails that I use for online purchases and to sign into various websites so that my real emails don’t get too spammy. All together, this amounts to many emails a day. As I am constitutionally unable to ignore the little red alert tag on my iPhone email app I was spending quite a bit of time just dealing with emails. Outside of work and few personal/professional emails, 95% do not even warrant reading. Mostly I just look at the header and mark as read. But even that was taking time. I did the unthinkable. I turned off my email notification on my phone. More than that, I set the email so that it would only upload new messages on request and no unread notifications would be seen. Now my email requires active participation, which I try to limit to once or twice a day. The other day my unread count reached over the 200 mark. This was hard to fathom but actually, the slight joy from batch function Mark as Read was worth it. I don’t know if I am more efficient, but I am less anxious about it. No red alert. I then went further, to remove the alerts from all my phone apps – even Facebook. I’ve been trying to detangle myself from my phone/internet for a bit now. Trying to think of it as a tool that is present when I need information or to connect to someone; and inert when I don’t. For a while, I was feeling I had to read, respond, update, and care about every alert that came to me. The phone was driving me. Turn out the experiment has worked/is working. I don’t need 30 news alerts a day to know that Trump is still and asshole who is going to do something that will hurt me, or those I love, or those I know, or those unable to protect themselves, or those further down the economic ladder, or science, or the environment, or the planet. Now I just assume it is true and work against it as I can and once or twice a day check to make sure it is still true and my rage/outrage tanks are still on full. Alternatively, sometimes (like today) to see a glimmer of hope as the government didn’t shut down and we didn’t fuck over science (at least until September).
Therefore, that is it from the land of things Jason wanted to write about. This was certainly a ramble. Again, I could have clogged up your Facebook feed or told you all these things in person. Or I could have made this like 3 or 4 different blog posts. But this one is it. Just one last thing. It has rained for a week or more. And while we are not facing flooding at my house I am dealing with a quirky and annoying Rio the Lab. She won’t walk on certain grass patches ever (it might as well be lava) and when it rains the number of no-go grassy areas quadruples. Now she will only do her business in the neighbor’s yard. She barks at lightning and then at thunder. It is quite cute at night when you hear Katie yell “IT’S OK RIO” from the other room and then go back to sleep. She also needs to lose weight (me too). Of course the Vet suggested green beans. I wonder if Vets are given free stock in green bean futures, as our current vet is just one in a line of vets to suggest replacing food with green beans. The problem is that Rio is already on a special diet to keep her from getting bladder stones and the concomitant bladder infections. She can’t eat diet dog food and I’m not sure if the salt from the green beans would affect her bladder environment. In addition, giving the dog a can of green beans a day is logistically annoying, plus slightly expensive. I already pay more per pound of dog food than I would for boneless skin-less chicken breasts at the store. But she is in good shape and she love Kate and tolerates all her toddler action (climbing, tail grabbing, sitting on etc.). She’s a great dog and heading into her 8th year (June 1st is her birthday).
Anyway. That is it from the Ramble today. Cheers
Also I’m in the process of migrating some older writings (Facebook notes and other blogs) into this one. Maybe I’ll eventually get around to some sort of table of contents for all these things. But for now links if you want them.