Monday, September 24, 2018

Five months is like no time at all

Holy crap, this is really crazy. It was like two minutes ago my baby was born and now she's five months old. She's walking, of course. She knows Mandarin as well as conversational Esperanto, and just last week she corrected me on the proper use of semicolons.  Its crazy, they grow up so fast. I'll just clap my hands together real quick for a job well done on this parenting bit. I had help, sure, my wife deserves some credit, but really I've got to admit, it wasn't all that hard. All it takes is a little common sense, a whole lot of intuition and the rest just takes care of itself. Parents of the world, what were you saying about how raising children was hard?

Smile like your baby that way people will know its yours and that you didn't steal if from somewhere.

Ok, sure i'm being facetious. It's tougher than all that. But for the most part its been super fun and awesome. And more than a little credit is due to my awesome and patient wife who does most of the heavy lifting. She's primary food source and nighttime comfort provider. I change diapers, run bath time, make goofy faces while shes nursing and provide moral support. My job is easy. Be helpful when possible and stay out the way, and do no harm when not needed. Anticipate needs, that's big key. Hand wife spit rags, take out the trash, make or forage for dinner. Back-rubs go a long way. That's just good marriage advice from what I can gather, giving more back-rubs increases chances of your marriage working out exponentially.

And heck, even if you don't have kids and/or a wife, try giving out more back rubs and who knows? You might end up with both.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Heeding advice for dad bloggers...be a dad first!

Hi there,

Its me, Miles. I had lofty goals about being a world famous dad-blogger and quitting my day job and just, like, blogging all the time. Content is KING, they say. And to create my content I've taken the last 3 months and tried harder to be a dad than to be a dad blogger. Sorry about that. Reading about me being a dad is great, I assume. I mean, there you are reading this...you're riveted! How awesome is that? Its witty and self-referential. Descriptive. I'm killing it.  Just good stuff all around. You are mesmerized with my word-smithy. I don't blame you for wanting to read more of my writing. So much crap on the internet is just pure garbage. Don't get me started about the click-bait. Its the worst! I'll just say that I have tried only to write about important stuff like pooping and peeing and leaving out unimportant stuff like how to get the government to pay off your mortgage. Who clicks on that? Really?

But what I am thinking about today is something I think about often.

 "Is my baby ugly?" I ask. I don't think she's ugly. I think she's the most beautiful angel ever to grace this Earth, but I'm not an impartial judge. I just wonder sometimes if I am seeing things through baby-colored glasses. When we take her in public, like to downtown Mountain View, and walk around with her, people always say she's so cute and I have to hold her at a slight distance because I have the sneaking feeling that they want to steal her. So maybe she is the cutest baby in the world, as I have thought often to myself, but what do I know? I saw a baby on the Muni Bus in SF once and it had this crazy giant forehead, like Frankenstein big. I asked myself then, "Do those parents know how ugly their baby is?"  I figured they didn't, because hey, it was their baby and that's what they're programmed to think, that its cute. It kind of looked like them too, so there's that. I don't know if my baby looks like me. You've seen me. I'm a grown-ass man with a full beard. If my baby looked like me I'd know she was ugly as hell. But she looks just like a tiny, soft, beautiful, smiling little baby. Nothing like me at all. Jeez, I hope she doesn't grow up and look like me. I'm a rugged bear of a man. Ever since she came along I've totally stopped really exercising. Its shameful, sure, but who has the time? I work, I come home and hang out with my wife and baby and then occasionally I write a blog about it. Nowhere in that lifestyle is there time for exercise. Sure, we'll go for walks around the park by our house, but that's not aerobic. When I look at my body, I see something pedestrian that has served its purpose, biologically speaking. It's procreated. So now what? I'm going to keep trying to look like some Adonis, for what? For you? I just stopped caring. I had three donuts the other day. I'm going full Homer Simpson, man. Just watch me!




Saturday, June 16, 2018

My dad, his dad, and me.

My dad was a Marine in 1968 in Vietnam, literally a war hero because of his bravery in battle. He saved the lives of two critically wounded soldiers by pulling them from a burning tank.

Harold Newell II
Dad, with medal
His Dad was an army paratrooper in the Pacific during WWII.

Harold Newell I
Grandpa, with rubble

I spent my early twenties in Chico, California interviewing bands, trying to be Hunter S. Thompson. I always wonder what my life would've been like had I been in the military.  This look is as close as I got.


I'm an idiot
My cousin was a Marine in Bosnia during that unpleasantness and then again later in Iraq. He was involved in the rescue of Jessica Lynch, if you remember that operation. We don't talk anymore and I miss him but that's another story altogether. The thing about Father's Day is that it always brings up these thoughts about what my life would've been like had my dad lived to see old age. He died when I was six.  The circumstances around his suicide are a tragedy and they have something to do with both P.T.S.D. and alcoholism and I don't have anyone in my family really to talk to about it that knew him around that time. I assume they would tell me they wish they could've done more to help him. I was given a box of his stuff a few years ago, mementos from his time in 'Nam and pictures of him as a baby and whatnot. Its a weird thing to sift through because of how weighted the items are. The Vietnam stuff is fraught with pain because it looks like he was at summer camp. In lots of the pictures he's goofing off with his buddies, they're holding scary guns in the jungle like something straight out of Full Metal Jacket and they look so young. He must be 19 at the time. Just a kid. He put the pictures in these photo albums like he thought he would want to look at them later in life. Like someone might have done for their time in college. But with the war, and the ugliness that followed it after his return, I'm pretty sure he never looked at them again. But I wouldn't know because, again, there's no one to talk to about all that. My dad's family kind of fell apart over the last couple of years after my grandmother passed away. She was the hub around which the family gathered. Without her, there's not a lot of reason to get together and since they sold her old house in the hills, there's nowhere to go. Man, this story got sad, didn't it? What I'm trying to say is that Father's Day is tough. But the good news is I get to completely embrace a new kind of Father's Day now that I'm a father. Sure, I didn't go to War, and I don't have any Greatest Generation kind-of wisdom to pass down, but what I do have is lots of love and support and a clean bill of mental health to provide comfort and care and a general sense of well-being to this little ball of love I brought into all our lives...the village its going to take raise her, I mean.

I could really fill out a jump suit.
And being a dad is awesome, man. It's really been a great thing for me because I get to do all sorts of stuff I missed out on being able to do because I didn't have a dad growing up. I get to be there for her. I get to live the kind of life my dad didn't get to because he had challenges he never had time or the will to overcome. That's too bad. But me, I get to build the kind of family I would've wanted. I get to teach her how to surf and ride a bike and throw a knife and build a tree-house. I get to take her to punk shows and read her Where the Wild Things Are and teach her how to make the best grilled cheese sandwiches.  Every Father's Day when I was a kid was just a reminder of what I was missing out on. But now it becomes a day I get to live in the present and be thankful for the kind of life I have made for myself and my little girl and that's the best thing I could ask for. She's two months old this weekend. She smiles at us, is becoming more alert to her surroundings, and really turning into a little person.  And let me tell you, it just keeps getting better.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Wizard-blessed

I've been having this thought about how the universe is expanding. Our galaxy is in the middle of it, the universe, that is, but what that means is that the galaxies on the edge further out are moving farther away from us, faster. It makes me feel lonely. Like when you're at a concert in a crowd of people, alone. You're not alone, but you feel like it. That's what I feel like in the universe. Brainy science dudes say that its very likely that there's other intelligent life out there, but the chances that they will have reached technological maturity enough to venture far enough away from their own planet to reach us, at the same moment in time that we are evolved enough to greet them is very unlikely. The earth is 4-1/2 billion years old. The entirety of recorded human history from cave paintings to now is like 40,000 years and of that only the last 7000 is documented in any real way. So here we are hurtling through space a fleck of dust on a gnat's ass (in cosmological terms), and the mathematical likelihood that we'll be alive at the exact moment in geological time that another advanced civilization reaches us is infinitesimal. So that's a bummer. But in that thought there is hope. If aliens can't be our friends, maybe we should be friends with the people we have here on Earth. I'm a friendly guy. Will you be my friend?

Which brings me to my point with all this. As a father I'm going to need to be an expert in a lot of things. Or I'm going to need to be perceived as an expert. Kids ask a lot of questions. I plan to have a lot of answers. For instance, today at lunch my boss was looking at these single serve creamers I had to go in my coffee. They weren't refrigerated, but they were real half and half. He was concerned.

"Those don't go bad?"

And I said, "No, they're shelf-stable"

"What do they do to them?" He pressed.

"A wizard blessed them." And that finished the conversation. Of course a wizard blessed them. They were wizard-blessed half and half's. These are the kinds of answers I'll have at the ready to tell my kid. I'll be very convincing. And who is going to judge me? You?! Science is magic. Religion is just stories. Facts are debatable.  It'll be great.  I'll be the repository of all bullshit knowledge. Jelly beans are unicorn poops, that sort of thing.

In fact, this goofiness has already begun. When we told people what we were thinking about naming our kid, we played a little joke on them. We'd say, "We came up with the perfect name....Methany!" and then let their faces crinkle up into a forced smile and they tell us what a nice name that was, unique and the like. And then we'd go. "Just kidding, its Amelia." and they'd let out a sigh of relief and admit they were only being polite and that they were so glad it wasn't something as stupid-sounding as Methany. But I guess with a couple of my buddies, I let the joke too far. As in, I never told them what her real name was at all until one of them sent me a "Congratulations on your new baby!" card and it was written to Methany's parents.  Now I'm trying to remember who else we told that dumb name to and who might still not know we were fibbing. If you are reading this and you are a friend of mine her name is Amelia and I'm sorry I forgot to tell you the truth. I guess the joke is on me because you really thought I was one of these awful parents who invented a name with the word Meth in it.  Lovely.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Old dads bend at the knees

I noticed today that I'm old, or I'm getting old. I feel very old, I've learned, when I stand at the changing table for too long and start to feel a weird tinge in my back. "You're hunched over, dummy." I say to myself "Bend your knees!" and then I have to adjust my stance and put my feet out wider so I am closer to the job at hand, like cleaning my baby's dirty butt, and not putting so much weight on my lower back. Also, it was really dark at the changing table, so I made this little floating shelf with an LED light under it that I could turn on to see things again, because I'm half blind from old age.

Put your baby's name on things that way you'll be less likely to forget it.


 I now can see all sorts of things better. Like my baby's beautiful face that's usually crying because I am annoying her with my diapering, which she hates. But mostly I see her dirty butt. I am going to do another post about how to make that shelf thing, because I am learning how to monetize this blog with useful content. To monetize means to turn my inane thoughts  (that you enjoy reading) into COLD HARD CASH by tricking people into clicking on links I embed in my writing. Like this: you hungry? Buy these banana snacks, they're hella good! I eat them all the time. Seriously, buy them. I'm not kidding. They're delicious.

That shelf I was talking about is really neat though. I built it from scraps I had lying around, I'm a woodworker by trade, a carpenter, you could say. So I threw it together real quick. The best thing I did, was get this switch you put on the ground so you can turn it on and off with no hands, like a guitar pedal.  I figured I'm going to be walking over there with my hands full of baby, why not find a switch I could put on the floor? How easy! I'll write up a "how-to" soon enough, you'll love it. Maybe I'll make a bunch of those and put them on Etsy and make all sorts of money. I guess that's what this blog is really about, how I can I turn a monetary negative, having a baby, into a monetary positive, blabbing about that silly baby on the internet in return for eyeballs on advertising. Thanks a-lot, America! I'm gonna spin poopie diapers into gold, GOLD I tell ya!