Thursday, March 27, 2008

Anxious

A cool piece of advice I recently heard was:

"Enjoy life before the baby, and enjoy life after the baby."

Except... we're ready. I'm hardly making any plans with anyone in anticipation. When rarely made plans get canceled, I have to say "well... I don't know when we'll do this then!" And in response I get a slow blink and then a sigh of realization- they'd forgotten how rare that plan was for me. Everything present tense is blurry. People keep asking if I'm excited. If I'm scared. If I'm ready. Of course I am all these things. I'm catching the same friends asking me if I'm "excited" for the third time in a week, and surely they're as sick of asking as I am sick of answering.

People try to make plans with me on or right near the due date, forgetting. Not many of my friends have babies, but I imagine it's hard to remember a friend's due date. You know their life will completely change, but when it will seems to slip everyone's minds.

Sometimes I try to make plans for the future, well beyond the due date, and people say "Don't worry about all that! You'll have a baby!" But... I want to make plans! I want to do things in the future! But people talk to me like the future is folly, kind of like I will be dead. Thanks, I plan on being highly functional and alive if I can help it.

There's lots of stuff I won't have done before the birth of my child. I will not have seen some movies yet. I will not have read certain books, played certain video games, gone to certain places. These events are too big to squeeze in now, but I still want to do them, so I imagine myself doing them with a child. It seems within reason. But for some reason the vision of me visiting London, New York, playing Grand Theft Auto IV, it's all unfinished. There's a baby shaped blur sitting next to me in the vision. I know it's a her, I think. I know what outfits she might be wearing. But I don't know how big she will be, the color of her hair, or what her face looks like. But there she is in all my plans, plans I can't realize, plans friends and family are nervous to realize.

We're ready. We're ready. We're ready.

Two of us, anyway.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Comedy Baby

"When people have a baby, they aren't funny/suck". So says, well, almost every single comic I look up to. I'll watch a special on Comedy Central, I'll listen to an album, and it's there. The topic is omnipresent these days. In fact, so says almost every good and shitty comic alike in the Chicago stand-up scene.

Almost every open mic or showcase I do, right before me someone does a joke about how shitty babies are, or how shitty new dads are. I have a joke that's a decent response to it (which I downright require, because sometimes someone will do these jokes and then the host will introduce me as about to have a kid) but I get so tired of doing it!

I would even suggest that the standard is the opposite. The alternative is now the mainstream. It is actually far more cliche now to insult a new parent than it is to be one, and as the movie Idiocracy recently hypothesized, smart people are too antsy and whiny to actually pony up and raise a new generation and only retarded rednecks actually bring one into the world. Check it out, I think it's something we've all seen before in some context:



But to drive my point home, here's 3 of my favorite comics all slamming new parents. The first even slams comics who are new parents. It's all 100% funny, all 100% a challenge for me to write better:

Brian Posehn's "Punch my baby" bit:



Paul F. Tompkins' "New dads" bit:

Click to watch.

Patton Oswalt's "Babies are horrifying and polluting the planet" bit (about 7:10 in, there's only audio):



In a sense, I feel like the most important thing I've ever done is airline food.

I also know the truth. This is my journey, not theirs. I am not actually afraid of cliches, or bothered by them. This is all noise, heroes reflecting on their paths, paths that I find compelling but paths that are not mine. You cannot be intimidated. You must create somehow, and this is how I create.

Chubs

I've put a lot of "sympathy weight" on in the final half of this pregnancy, which is unfortunate because I lost a lot of weight in the first half of it jogging.

I absolutely hate the way I'm looking in pictures and video of me doing stand-up. It's really frustrating because I hit a kind of stride with it and was lucky to get some on tape and film, but there is a marked difference around early December when I have clearly put on about 25-30 pounds.

I'm watching the jokes and going "wow, this is something I should send to festivals and agents and the like", but part of me is also going "what the fuck is that giant bugbear with glasses wheezing out all my material?!". Just look at the profile picture here, and then watch the video on the bottom right margin. The picture was taken in early November, when I was at my lowest weight in years. I'm wearing a tie and looking kinda sharp if I do say so myself. In that video it's late February, and my XL T-shirt wraps so tightly around my belly it looks tucked in. But it isn't. It just has no more fabric to fall below my belt. Ugh.

I can't wait for the weather to change. As soon as it's truly nice out again I can go back to my morning jogs. I'm already cutting back a bit on the booze. I want so badly to be a healthy daddy for my little girl, and to wake up with energy in the morning. I may never be able to do that last part without a big cup of coffee (after all my jogging in the morning, exercise never woke me up. that only works for certain body types and genetically gifted people, and those who try and sell exercise by saying it will always make you feel good are a pack of liars)... but I digress. I want to be healthy. And later this year, I'm gonna have to make a point to not start eating pizza 3 days a week as soon as I stop wearing shorts. I'm a daddy. Gotta focus. Gotta pace myself. Gotta not look like a bugbear.

Going Fetal

My favorite band, Eels, is finally doing a show in Chicago again that isn't part of Lollapalooza, something I did not care to spend an entire paycheck on.

Surprise: the show falls within a week of my daughter's projected arrival. Even if the baby came tonight I seriously doubt I'd be comfortable heading to the concert.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Dan, it is really obnoxious for you to complain about missing a band because of your baby. Worse than that, it's cliche and bad-dad sounding. But hear me out- the last time I commented in a blog about not being able to go to something because I had uncompromisable plans, someone read it and set the wheels in motion for me to then interview two of my idols in lieu of seeing them perform.

So, not that I think those same friends know the members of Eels, but if anyone out there does happen to know them I would not be offended if you somehow could arrange for Mark Oliver Everett to come by and sing my daughter a lullaby while he's in town. I'm just saying. I've been enormously lucky before with that sort of thing...

(Note: it appears someone named "chi_diana" wrote that first blog link, but it was in fact me. Metroblogging Chicago just got some of my entries screwed up. Promise.)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Holding Pattern

Victoria has finally gotten out of going to work, so she is chilling out at home nesting this Monday morning instead of making the 1.5 hour drive to and from work. This is especially awesome because we live 1.5 blocks from the hospital. At home is a great place to be.

My wife is ready to go, right by the hospital. I am ready to go, but swirling in orbit around her as I go to work and produce a show or take a class. Our home is totally ready to receive this new life. Every time I make an orbit away from the house, or we venture together somewhere, we notice how uninteresting things other than our baby are. The world around us buzzes with white noise, increasingly monotonous as we near the due date, and I realize that if the outside world ever seemed to be less cool than the world I share with my wife, it will be even more so when I have an awesome child and awesome wife. How I will cope with other people's mediocrity when I have a glorious amazing imp strapped to my chest in a BabyBjörn, I have no idea.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Compatibility

Yesterday Victoria and I wrestled with our new car seat and finally succeeded in getting it installed in our car. To succeed, however, we were met with angel-like resistance. The issue: our car, though compatible with all child safety regulations, is a bit begrudging about explaining how to take advantage of these features. For instance, there are "safety bars" the seat can clip onto. However, these bars are invisible and buried deep in the bowels of the seat, almost impossible to find. Our car's instruction manual has a page dedicated to the subject, and it reads:
"This car is compatible with most child safety seats. Refer to their manual, as all these seats install differently."
Yes, thank you car instruction manual. I am aware that, much like the colors of the rainbow, many products differ from each other. But other than treating the manufacturers like they are mistreated ethnic minorities, you have a goddamned metal bar in you somewhere and I'd love if you could point me in the general direction.

Eventually we found the fucking thing in the 20° weather and installed the seat. Though this was just the most successful in a series of compatibility issues we have had with baby products. You see, there are an infinite number of products, and the various manufacturers have nothing but contempt for each other. Much as Mac and PC make products for each other with thinly veiled contempt (Have you ever used Microsoft Office for Mac? Every time you use it you can feel how your document/email/spreadsheet is meant to be a flaming shit placed on Steve Jobs' front stoop.) everything is made by competing companies.

Changing tables are made in sizes that no changing table mattress is designed for, a fun discovery we solved with a bassinet mattress.

The cutest mobiles in the world only work on 5% of cribs because of insane, non-adjustable railing restrictions. That's right, I am already one of those parents who writes scathing Amazon.com reviews of children's products. If I believed in a god I would shriek "lord help me".

I am lucky, however. A coworker of mine named Pete just emailed everyone to let us know his twins were born very early, weighing in at about 2 pounds each. They are doing great, but it was a reminder this morning that all my problems are luxuries, and I am expecting a large, oft-kicking and oft-punching girl who is now officially full term.

That's right, Victoria became "full term" on Saturday, which basically means that though her biological clock is supposed to release the baby in 19 days it will come out just as healthy now as it would at the end of the month. I may have few days left as a non-parent. Stay tuned.