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So I’m on the job market. It’s a terrible time to be looking for work; friends of mine who are in much better positions than me are freaking out. I’m pretty level-headed about the whole thing. I’m pretty level-headed in general. I like to think this is a good thing—I’m adaptable, not easily fazed, etc. It’s quite possible this is a bad thing—I am prone to accepting the things that I can indeed change.

It’s hard to know.

The more I look around, though, the more I’m convinced that it’s neither apathy nor denial. Allow me to justify my sangfroid, or moreover, let me evangelize to you. It’s especially important for parents, because if your kid is anything like mine, there are fan blades and there is excretory matter and sometimes things go flying. Keeping it together is how we get from here to the other side—and, for me at least, a foundation that I can rely upon for why I should just let it go, well, it’s a source of strength in dark and dangerous times.

So. To econ it up a little bit, let me motivate it thusly: Let’s say you face a choice. You can either have a fifty-fifty chance of winning $1.60 or $2.00 or a fifty-fifty chance of winning $3.85 or $0.10. If you’re like most of the subjects in the now seminal Holt and Laury 2002 paper, Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects, you’d go with the “safe bet”, even though you’ll earn less in expectation; roughly 2/3 of their subjects made such a decision.

Why? Why the heck do people leave 7 cents on the table every time they make this decision? There’s very little out there that critiques this decision. This particular field of economics is justifiably concerned primarily with documenting and describing human decisions—positive economics—and not so much with how people ought to make decisions—normative economics. This is all good and well.

The take-home I’d like to present is this: please, please, PLEASE take the risky, high-payoff bet when the stakes are this low. If you want to remain contented with your lot, this is almost impossible without some groundwork first, because people don’t like to walk away with ten measly cents.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, I drew up a quick Excel table with random numbers and what-have-you, and recalculated it five times. In the first drawing, the safe bet outperformed the risky bet in 2 of 5 recalculations. Once, choosing always-safe outperformed always-risky over 100 independent drawings, earning $5.95 more than always-risky. But in all the other sets of drawings, risky beat out safe. The five outcomes were (π(risky) – π(safe) )= (-$5.95, $20.85, $7.45, $37.60, $30.90).

I’m not saying you should take big risks. I’m not even necessarily advocating that you take on more small risks. Mostly what I’m trying to say is: it hurts to go home with a dime, but it’s best not to put too much weight on any one event. You barely miss the train one day and just make it another day. A crappy waiter at a restaurant? It happens. A bad interview can hurt, but over the course of a lifetime, these events even out, and the brainpower we spend on them is almost certainly wasted.

By the same token, so your kid is brilliant and polite at age 2? Might not last to age 3. The baby lets you sleep through the night at 4 months? Enjoy it while it lasts.

Paying attention to the long view can make you more confident, more humble, and more grateful; more emotionally and financially stable; and better at handling momentary crises. If that’s not a recipe for a good tactical parenting, I’m not sure what is.

the ancients believed that the earth was the back of an elephant that stood on a tortoise that swam in a bottomless sea. Of course, what held up the sea was another question. They did not know the answer.

The belief of the ancients was the result of imagination. It was a poetic and beautiful idea. Look at the way we see it today. Is that a dull idea? The world is a spinning ball, and people are held on it on all sides, some of them upside down. And we turn like a spit in front of a great fire. We whirl around the sun. That is more romantic, more exciting. And what holds us? The force of gravitation, which is not only a thing of the earth but is the thing that makes the earth round in the first place, holds the sun together and keeps us running around the sun in our perpetual attempt to stay away. This gravity holds its sway not only on the stars but between the stars; it holds them in the great galaxies for miles and miles in all directions.
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To Violet, on the first week of Advent

I
While you sleep, at long last, in what is hopefully a warm room,
the searchlight of a roving mind swings around, time after time.
In the car
on the way home
your mom and I make up a Death Cab for Cutie song:
“Another cold night in Cleveland
in my brown corduroy jacket
I drove alone”
And this is that through which we move, my love.
A mountain range, a peak of which we each are fast approaching,
and as Poincaré before me, I fire light across the distance,
trying to tell you the time.
.
II
1999. Two-by-fours in the barn, ready to go,
I sat with a piece of scratch paper, trying to figure this out:
A regular pentagon contains a rectangle and a triangle;
three-sixty plus one-eighty is … five-forty, which means…
and I couldn’t figure it out then; a little bit of shame in front of my grandfather.
Now, though, a better version of me:
five-forty divided by five is one-oh-eight,
and so each of the five exterior triangles is isosceles
and the paired angles then have angles of…
one-eighty minus one-oh-eight is seventy-two
(which divided by two is thirty-six) and there are
five pairs of those angles, which means that
those angles take up five times seventy-two
is three-sixty degrees of the total interior, which
means the total amount in the points is five-forty
minus that three-sixty,
which is one-eighty,
which you divide by five,
so that each point in a regular star
should have thirty-six degrees.
.

III

Lay me in a bed with amber glow filling the room,
and place the sound of fun outside, ready to start playing
at the moment I am to awake, so that I can lie there
and bathe in vicarious jubilation.
Place me in the back-right of a blue Ram van, driven by
my father, and let us stop at Great Bend or Clarks Summit.
Let me know when we see “Deer Crossing” signs,
so I can count down from ten.
Put me back again in the passenger seat,
with my head in my hands, not yet on paper half the man
I couldn’t quite convince myself to convince them
I would come out to be.
Sit me in the dark, illuminated by punctual flashes,
with you on my lap, and your mother’s warmth behind us,
and the lights of the tree. We bathed in our own jubilation
and you in the middle of us all.
So this one I just wrote. Happy Advent!

Winter

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

WHEN icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipt, and ways be foul       5
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-whoo!
To-whit, Tu-whoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all about the wind doth blow,       10
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl—
Then nightly sings the staring owl        15
Tu-whoo!
To-whit, Tu-whoo! A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

(from Bartleby.com)

This is day 1 of an Advent lectionary we’re putting together this year. I’ve got a few readings that I definitely want to include but will be looking for good stuff to put in it if anyone has any ideas.

Last year, about this time (maybe a few weeks or a month from now, to be honest), I believe I made up a tune and sang this one to Violet when she was in her deep struggling to sleep days. Nowadays, she still fights it, but at least you can sit down.

I love poems about winter. Especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I tend to get a little wrapped up in the bustle of the season, which is nice in its own way, but the thing I have always loved about winter is the boarding up of the house, the heading indoors, the feeling that the song “Let it Snow” captures so well, of being safe from the storm with the people you love. It’s the opposite and equal of the feeling on the first warm day of Spring, where you cross your threshold in a short-sleeve shirt for the first time and the balmy gust fairly launches you out into the world, like an impulse-driven coaster, ready to kick shoes on sidewalk and hit the ground running.

Winter has the feeling of needing to brace yourself for the outdoors, and the ritualistic girding with hats and scarves and coats and gloves, or the mighty sprint to the mailbox and back, thoroughly underdressed–both carry with them the wonderful feeling that the out of doors is relevant again after being a sea of lukewarmness for a lovely long time.

Here’s wishing all y’all happy holidays of whatever variety you enjoy.

was a lot of fun. it’s always nice when the girls are having a good time and I don’t have to be bending over to pick them up or debating whether I should be intervening. Junebug’s still a little easier to deal with, physically, because she’s immobile, but V is definitely becoming willful–and it’s amazing,  because it’s expressed as a boundless curiosity and she’s a happy kid, upbeat and excited about things–but it’s still havoc on the lower back to chase, lift, re-aim, repeat.

All of which is totally the opposite tone from that which I meant to strike. I laid out a beach towel in the outfield at our local playground/rec center and put some cheerios out and Juniper sat in the grass and I lay back and watched the sky and Violet orbited like a spirograph, and they both thought that my lying down was just the funniest thing either of them had ever seen. Violet decided to tackle me repeatedly; I put my hat on Junebug and she spent five elated minutes trying to take it off again. Antics ensued…

Later in the day Violet saw real live ducks and that, as they say, was the cat’s pajamas.

I’ve been a full-time stay-at-home dad/full-time grad student for the last five months or so, now, which really mostly means I’m not getting as far ahead on my dissertation as I’d like. That said, thanks to Violet’s near-constant demands for entertainment and my interest in saving my lower back by sitting as much as possible and letting her go unheld as often and long as she’s willing, I can now play guitar–badly, but I can decisively call it playing guitar now, not just whatever it was I did when I held a guitar and interfaced over the last near-decade. I now know all the basic chords and can string them together at will and have memorized a bunch of songs, many of which include at least one drop of the f-bomb. This is complicated.

Many of my favorite songs feature the f-bomb, and at their best, they feature it just the once (the exception that proves the rule: “F$%# and Run” by Liz Phair) , but it serves an essential purpose–it’s either the part of the song where the decrescendo ends and you need to imply that the meaning is still emphatic, even if the sound is not loud, or it’s the part of the song where the crescendo has occurred and the words contain too much denotative meaning to express the necessary, and so only expletives can get the job done, and when one is grasping for an expletive, anything worth doing is worth doing right: hence, f-bomb. (example of the first: “1330 Oak 1995” by Kind of Like Spitting. example of the second: can’t think of it right now–feel free to come up with one of your own and holler if you like)

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I got a mailer on the introduction of FF Meta Serif, which is a font for those out there not into design. It’s exciting because I liked FF Meta a lot, but mostly because now I’m pretty much an economist/dad and I like that I get mail when new fonts are invented.

This isn’t a paid promotion or plug–hell, I bought FF Meta with expenses paid, so I don’t know that I’d pay for it; plus, I’ve never used it. Still, if you want to see what looks like a nice, fat, readable font, go for it: http://www.fontshop.com/features/newsletters/nov2007_a/

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Now, for what I intended originally to write about. Cheryl and Violet and I have become members at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, and it’s been a really great experience so far, a few months into attending. I have an elaborate religious life-story, so I won’t go into it here, except to say that it’s been uniformly positive, and still I’m an atheist. Going to/joining what is, effectively, a church, definitely seemed like a complicated idea–one I bristled against at first when Cheryl said she thought we should try it out.

I comprehended my hesitation a little better during today’s service. There’s a quiet period in the service, an “Invitation to Meditation” is what I believe they call it. As the meditation closes, the minister names those people who are having milestones or hardships so that we may keep then in thoughts/prayers as we see fit. After he says names, everyone is invited to say their own names, out loud or silently. It’s a beautiful ritual, the effect of which is at least to give everyone there a moment in the week to think about the people in their lives and try to figure out if anyone is experienced abnormally great joy or sorrow. I don’t believe in any metaphysical powers of prayer, but I still find I really like it.

Not to mention the “sanctioned” or what-have-you stating of names/events made by the minister, which often involves requests for cards/flowers/visitors/donations/condolences in the case of people in the hospital or grieving and merely information in the case of landmarks.

The rationale of it notwithstanding: today the Rev mentioned a member whose name I had never heard and don’t remember. She had, evidently, after a long and difficult process, successfully brought her adopted 18-month-old daughter home from Nepal.

I’ve been really callous, internally, at least, about international adoption (I have begun/continued to default on really callous, internally, I’ve begun to notice–which is one of the reasons why I sort of need to be part of a spiritually nourishing and challenging congregation) and sort of miserably failed at viewing it as a personal milestone, and seen it more as sort of a weird upper-class white affectation.

It dawned on me today that the brief reference Rev. David was making was a really watershed moment in someone’s life. She had sought out and successfully taken responsibility for a new person. A new person in her life.

A new person! A new person. A real, live, life. A new life. Someone different than everyone else–not even just everyone else you know, but EVERYONE else, ever.

I don’t know–for many people, this may be far less complicated than it is for me. I have spent a lot of spare brain cycles justifying decisions to strip people away, to reduce interpersonal connections. These were people who had other people; I am (or at least have been historically) almost universally unnecessary in the lives of others. This isn’t just a fear of commitment–I’m fine with commitment, which is sort of a well-delineated and totally enforceable contract, the optimal length and terms of which are totally solvable.

To some extent, it has been a question of the best way to climb that mountain.

(That mountain, here, is how to be good–which is sort of the central question of my life, I think.)

When being good is a destination, even if it is a destination in only the most abstract sense, it becomes simple, sometimes, to see other people as hindrances. It’s like trying to go to the movies in large groups. It’s difficult, verging on pointless, at times. It’s just better to all go by yourselves.

This is sort of the dominant meme of personal existence in a lot of our culture, I think, and it’s certainly something I’ve imbibed. The explosion of the nuclear family is in part, a result of this and a cause of this. Growing up, I definitely was urged to move out and move on, as my father had done before me and his before him. The suburban American dream involved perfect labor mobility, a lack of emotional and personal attachment to a place and people and a culture and a tradition.

We are not atomic; we are not built thusly. And people have expectations of us, they place constraints on us, on our hearts, even through no wish or fault of their own. These are the ties that bind, and they sometimes constrict.

More often in my life, if I choose to be honest with myself, people know me better than I know myself. They know my best self, at least, and when I have guests, my house gets clean, and when I cook for other people, I make everything more delicious (the trick is that extra stick or two of butter), and when people disagree with me, I either figure out why I’m right, or find out I’m wrong and then I can be right forreal, forreal.

A new person. I know better now what that means, because I have one of them. In fact, I have lots–not just Violet but new friends, fellow members of the congregation. I was going to say “So often,” but the truth is “Always…” Always, the other people sitting in the service are total ciphers, and not only do I neither know nor care, but I can hardly fathom that they have lives outside those walls, that things happen, that they lie awake at night hoping that they outlive their children, hoping that they get to see all of it, then when they face their own personal end, that it be sweet and not bitter, and that the version of themselves they get to know therein is someone with honor and honesty and decency.

I never really saw other people as keys to that before today–I must have known on some level, because I’ve spent much of my life attaching and detaching–I mean, I am living a full and healthy life (much of which has been rigged in my favor, I’ll admit). I still think of conversation as an unpleasant necessity sometimes, and I think I’ll embrace it more, now.

I’m glad to be necessary, to feel like I have to–like it’s a moral imperative to– sacrifice some of my maximization just to help out, that maybe that’s maxing something else–a better function (by maximizing of course, I really mean blindly staggering generally northward, metaphysically, but the modeling thereof is similar, WLOG, I argue).

A new person. It’s a whole new life opening up ahead of you, every time you engage. And I think I thought it stood as good a chance of being bad as good. I was almost certainly wrong. New people are almost always a boon, a gift; even to brush up against people briefly and tangentially is to live a richer life. As I say that, a part of me I’ve known for a long time rebels, but the evidence is against him, and I don’t know that the argument of experience is enough to quash the force of identity–but it’s definitely a conflict worth embracing.

I kid you not, child of mine. You are verging on the region of negative marginal benefit with respect to your cuteness.
Violet2

I say this because this past week was incredibly unproductive. …which is not to say that things aren’t going well. They’re going fantastically. Still, at some point, I will eventually have to stop staring at you and accomplish something.

(Violet’s started cooing. For minutes and minutes and minutes at a time. Literally cooing, like as in “…gurgle gurgle coo… ga coooo…heh coooooo…”

It is unbelievably cute. Heart-rendingly so.)

So from this, I imagine you get the basic idea: such literally incredible cuteness, in that I wouldn’t have believed it, cannot believe it, that the parents actually cannot stop paying attention to the child long enough to hunt/gather and hence begin to wither away, taking along with them all sources of sustenance for the ever-more-ravenous child. It’s a cuteness death spiral, kid, and I’d advise you to be more annoying more often if you want to make it to adolescence, let alone to college. If increasing hunger makes you less cute, it may be our only chance.

Violet1

We had a good weekend, though, kid. Red got to meet you and you, her. It was the first time it really felt like fall. Mom’s wearing her traditional seven layers of clothing to counteract the effect of our shoddily-constructed and poorly insulated (aka affordable) house. We went to a corn maze with quite a posse, all dressed up in flannel, and somewhere around midday, the sun reminded us that this is At-effing-lanta and so we ended up in short-sleeves with sunglasses. The next day your Mom and I and you and Red went for a walk in the woods with the dog. It was beautiful. We took lots of pictures. More of those later, I suppose.

Oh, and one time when you pooped, it was a lot, so I said that if pooping were a competitive sport, you would’ve won the “Pooper Bowl.” It was just as funny then as it is now. I love being a dad.

I’m reading Cryptonomicon and it’s a pretty spectacularly great book. I’m reading parts of it aloud to you, mostly when you’re upset, which is totally okay, despite the fact that the language is a little objectionable (if you object to certain language), I am not repeating my parents’ parenting failures by reading you Stephen King novels. It’s just a nice little — well, not little — book about codes and code-breaking and information and WWII and, tangentially, heroin-addiction and neuroses and social fluency and holocausts.

There’s an idea that has just been presented, about three kinds of people. Roughly, those who think talking is the opposite of doing something, those who think talking counts as doing something, and those who talk with the hopes that they’ll figure something out about the way things are or how things work or, as Bobby Shaftoe puts it, “what the fuck is going on.” Shaftoe notes that these kind of people usually try to engage other people, and hope they’ll join in.

It’s fun. It’s one of the wonderful parts — maybe the most wonderful part — of being a grad student. It runs in your family and extended family and I think you’ll enjoy it, too. If not, your upbringing is probably going to be pretty frustrating.

There are lots of examples – what will be the effect of new downtown dormitories for Georgia State University on the average rent in the area? More on everything later, though, eh?

For now, I’ll keep demonstrating how to make particular noises and practicing the alphabet and numbers with you. If it gets annoying, coo twice to let me know. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, coo three times. If you’re afraid we’re being overheard, we’ll have to work out a simple code. Instead of “coo” say “ba,” instead of “ba,” say “ga,” and instead of “ga,” say “coo.” That should fool ’em.

and your mother, fuhgeddaboutit. Some nights, the bear eats you.

Not much you can do about it.

I’m salvaging a never-posted post from before the summer:

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You’re kicking around in there now and I’m going to DC in less than a month. It’s going to be a long summer away from you and your mom, but it’s all good news–it means I’ll get to be back for the rest of everything, and that we’ll get to live wherever we want someday, I hope.

There’s been a lot of sad stuff going on in the broader world. In the news today, there’s the Virginia Tech shooting, continuing bad news from Iraq, problems in the Department of Justice, the French seem to be drifting creepily rightward. Nonetheless, life is good, on the whole, and especially for us, so let us mourn for others and rejoice and be grateful for ourselves, shall we?

I’m not sure what all I’ve told you so far–it’s hard to remember, exactly, and I’m too lazy to go back and read. You should have faith in people. Kurt Vonnegut died last week, and I keep coming back to that in my head. You’ll probably read all his books, I’m guessing, considering the fact that we have them around. His essays are really my favorite parts. He put little faith in people in the aggregate and a lot of faith in people individually. Probably wise, although, I think he gives us as a whole too little credit.

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Sorry, wandered off there to format data, which is probably good.
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I was thinking about my dad yesterday–his hands used to seem so …fatherly, I guess.

The Mets have the best record in baseball 14 games into the season. I just found pretty robust results that indicate that a 1% increase in the number of skilled immigrants to an area leads to a 2.5% increase in population in that area,
while a similar increase in the number of family preference immigrants leads to a 1.7% increase, both at 5 years out. At zero years out, they both are correlated with a 1.9% increase in population.

It’s exciting. Life is exciting. I hope you feel the same way.

People are kind, generally, and life is exciting. There’s so much to learn. You get to hear Cat Stevens for the first time, and that’s amazing. The same thing with The Promise Ring. You’re going to know the words to Dismemberment Plan songs without trying, the same way I did with James Taylor. You’re going to get to form an opinion about political parties and abstract expressionism. You’re going to go to your first baseball game and learn how to draw and memorize all the lines to your favorite movie.
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That’s all I wrote then, incidentally. It was a sad year, in a lot of ways. Not for us–these are high times in the Treacy-Lenda/Delaney family. Still, the roaring 90s are gone and the 00s, into which you were born, will probably be remembered as a pretty rough decade.

Grammie and Grampie — my Grammie and Grampie, my maternal grandparents, your paternal (patrimaternal? matripaternal?) great-grandparents got to meet you this weekend. We don’t see eye-to-eye on political matters, but we always have fun when we hang out. I think it’s a matter of consumer sovereignty. Grampie seems to maintain the seemingly inconsistent beliefs that people are capable of making good decisions, yet persist in regularly making bad ones. I generally think the reason they make bad decisions is that they’re just intrinsically bad at making decisions. There’s probably more to it than that, but it’s striking sometimes how so subtle a difference plays itself out in political, moral, and ethical views.

It should be a good week. We have rain! Probably not enough to make a dent in what’s apparently a drought of biblical proportions. Nonetheless, I’ll remember this week as The Week we Got Rain. Let’s hope it lasts.

Your mom and I have already started shifting things to accommodate your presence. We’re eating more consciously, sleeping less, paying less attention to the pets, sitting around a lot more, paying more attention to laundry. I splurged for organic milk yesterday. There’s no debt just yet–mortgage and car loan aside–but I have a feeling my grad student stipend won’t cover everything for the next few years. Frugal or not, it’s hard to compromise on stuff for you, kid. Hopefully, lifetime income means we won’t have to.

I heard today that the War in Iraq has cost more than any other war except WWII. That’s a heck of a cost to incur with no perceivable benefit. I wish everyone still hated war. That doesn’t feel like a political view. It feels like hating famine or plague. Who the hell wouldn’t hate war?

It’s been a rough decade: hurricanes, droughts, drugs in baseball, 9/11, the War in Iraq, Virginia Tech, the Bush presidency and Guantanamo Bay, xenophobia, boy bands, rising income inequality. Scientology. The War on Drugs rolls on. There are reasons to hope: the first woman president, maybe, and gay marriage isn’t proving to be a very big deal after all.

I’m feeling stronger about it all. I don’t just want the world to be better, I want it to be better for you, and better to you. I want people to signal before changing lanes and not to tailgate because I’VE GOT A F**KING BABY IN THE CAR. A ball of potential, a life actually worth living. I want you to have to work for it, but having worked for it, I want you to be able to get it. I have faith that you will, and that ten, twenty years from now, the world will be on the upswing, or at least your part of it will be.

Sexism was offensive before, and now it’s personal. Trust me kid; I’ve just met you and already I know: anything they can do, you can do better.

Okay, wow. A whole summer, an endless expanse away froBam. Cuteness.m home and not one single blog entry. And thus six months just disappear into the void.

You’re six weeks old and you can hold your head up and kick yr legs, but that about covers it. The whole world must seem like some surreal daydream. When you sleep, are you able to move at will and walk, to understand the things we say, or is it all as incomprehensible as it is in waking?

David Foster Wallace (DFW here and in the future) somewhere wrote something about solipsism and infancy, and I guess it must kind of feel that way, like one weird psychedelic experience, where you’re just too wacked out to understand what the hell is going on, or even to move or react very much to anything anyone does. And since the model of other you build in your brain is probably constrained by the model of self, my guess is that it doesn’t even occur to you that the random babbling we’re doing has any more informational content than your own coos and wails.

Maybe it’s like when I try to play guitar, and I kind of can, and then I hear other people play guitar, who really can, and then I can kind of appreciate it as a more refined and intentional version of what I’m trying to do. Am I close? You’ll never tell.

Still, it’s a crazy thing to try to imagine. This morning when you woke up, you were thrashing and fussing and I couldn’t help wondering–was it monsters? A dream in which one of us was ignoring you crying? Or were you trying to eat and failing in your dream? What does internal monologue say, and how? Is that why no one remembers infancy? No words to anchor it? Does that mean that all animals without speech live somewhat like goldfish, with vague sensations and a sense of uncategorizable previous experience?

I hope you have better eyesight than I do. I can’t wait until you ask a lot of annoying questions so I can humor every last one of them. Wondering is worthwhile.

Your birth was a heck of a thing. I was there and it went swimmingly and you were awesome and your mom was a force of nature, resilient and resolute. You should probably pay attention to her — there are few better role models that I’ve ever had the honor to know.

And I’m sure this’ll come up a lot, because it has already, but you are one lucky kid. The neverending flow of visitors and gifts and well-wishes is a testament to the fact that you are well-loved. Considering that all you can even do so far is eat and poop and belch and smile and cry loudly, it’s probably unconditional love.

The house is a mess. Sorry about that. We’ll clean it up before you’re mobile I promise.

There’s an ironic process going on, as well, or maybe an economic process. Your incredible cuteness has made the opportunity cost of doing other than stare at you rise drastically. I find myself having to tear myself away to work on the old Ph.D. Which is not to say that there’s any risk involved, so far. I’ve built up a pretty nice nest egg of econ cred, and my schedule got a lot more flexible now that coursework is almost done. Nonetheless — it’s in your best interests in a big way if I find myself employable come 2.5 years down the line. For which purpose I’ll need to start, and subsequently finish, this dissertation thingie. To which end I’ll need to tear myself away and simply work.

It’s not like 60-hour weeks were in the question to begin with, but with your arrival, they are firmly out of it. Hell, a 40-hour week leaves what, 24*7=140+28=168-40=128-(8*7)=128-56=72 hours to spend at home. If you count getting ready for work and transit time, that takes out another 1.5 hr/day, which brings us down to 65. Okay, that’s still 9+ hours a day in your presence, but still. Not enough, right? Glad you agree with me. Besides, it’s more like 32 hours on the weekend, and that only leaves like 6.6 hrs/day during the week. That’s practically no time at all.

The dissertation will get done. I’ll do my best to teach you how to live a subgame perfect life. It’s not an uncomplicated endeavor. A lot of people have a lot of love, a lot of good intentions, and a lot of different and contradictory advice on how to go about the whole shebang. With certainty, I am wrong about an infinite number of things. Nonetheless, there’s stuff I’ve figured out that you should probably know, and ways to figure out which ways you prefer to live and which advice to take.

In the meantime, I want you to know that life is awesome. It’s a good prior to have. If it doesn’t seem like life is awesome, there’s usually another explanation. “Sometimes people suck” is a popular one. The solution there is to be understanding and forgiving and simply to try to be good.

Long time, no talk, kiddo. It’s been a few busy weeks. I’m moving to DC for the summer in t-minus a few weeks. I don’t want to go, but it’ll be good for all of us. In the meantime, I have to finish papers, find a place, paint your room and come up with a topic for my summer research.

I am so tired I can hardly find words for it. I don’t know what it is today, but I’m exhausted. Yesterday, your Aunt Rebecca was trying to explain to Madison that she’s going to have a cousin. She can say “Pickle” and “Violet”, but I don’t think she really understands. I’m not even sure that I do, to be honest.

It’s definitely becoming more real as we become more prepared. The reason I felt like we weren’t ready to be parents a few months ago was actually probably that we weren’t ready to be parents a few months ago. Now we’re getting a safer car and we have a hand-me-down stroller and car seat and clothing and we picked colors to paint the room and I have a paid internship that will allow us to buy diapers and baby food. Readier than ever, which is still probably to say woefully underprepared, but there’s no right time to have kids, just the particular wrong time you have them. So it seems to me.

I worry about you already. I worry that I’ll imbue you with the latent prejudices I haven’t managed to get rid of, that I’ll limit you in some way, or that I won’t limit you enough in some way. Your mom and I talked about what we want for you and it’s hard to know where the line should be drawn. I want you to be able to do anything and to want to do the right thing. I don’t even know what the right thing is, but I hope you do.

I also go through little talks in my head. The talk about why you should be nice to people, the talk about how to handle dating, how to handle mean friends, disappointment, boredom, about wonder and never losing it, about being happy as a skill rather than a state of mind. I know a lot of it will be ineffective or annoying or frustrating, but how can you be a dad and not try? My dad was very compelling as an indoctrinator, and on one hand, I hope I’m the same way, but on another hand, I fully expect you to know I’m wrong about something I don’t know about.

Lucky for all of us, you’re probably smarter than I am. I just hope you’re smilier too.