Baby and me

The Devil sent me a message

Pardon me, sir, but that's a beautiful baby you have; can I interest you in exploiting her for $$$money$$$?"

Truth is, I started my daddy blog with at least half an eye on the idea of, somehow, earning some income through it. Hence the Ko-Fi link below most of the articles, though so far, that has netted me precisely zero coffees; between that and the lack of sales on Black Grass (the ebook version of which is currently on sale at the low, low price of only $3.99!), I'm kind of wondering whether I'm cut out for making money through anything but manual labour.

But I digress.

Photo of baby Baobao holding cracker in her right hand, while looking at my Father's Day card held in her left.
Will this be the photo that launches a fashion career?

Yesterday, I posted the above photo to my Instagram account and today saw the following comment:

What a darling! 😍 We'd love to have this little munchkin to represent our brand. If interested, DM our main account @jenorababies for the details. Make sure to tell them CASSIE sent you."

Now I'd be lying if I told you that Raven and I haven't already, if only somewhat idly, already thought of looking into baby modelling. We know we have an exceptionally cute baby on our hands, and earning (or should I say "earning") some extra money to toss into her education fund doesn't, on the surface, seem such a bad thing.

But we never seriously looked into it other than, on my part, checking DuckDuckGo for modelling agencies in Ottawa. There are some. I never made a call or sent an email.

But now I've been approached and must ponder the matter anew.

On the one hand, I have a long-held loathing for the fashion industry: its labour practices are often (usually?) horrendously exploitative of "Third World" labour and its marketing exploits and creates body insecurities and encourages pointless over-consumption, to name just a few of its sins off the top of my head.

But on the other hand, we live in a brutally exploitative society, and we will soon be a one-income family once Raven's maternity leave ends; we aren't poor, but we are far from rich and so the thought of extra money we can set aside for Baobao's future is tempting indeed. (And for that matter, while I worry about my scruples, I have to face the fact that, for nearly a full decade, my day job has been in the transportation industry, aiding and abetting airlines, despite my fucking terror of what global warming holds in store for my darling daughter's future.)

So here I am ... should I ignore the message or respond? What do you think, hive-mind?

Baby and me

The no plague diary and the tale of a tiny baby

Aside from the plague, Young Edifice, how are things going?

Baobao reads NE TOUCHE jamais UN dinosaure

I feel as if I ought to be pulling a Dr. Johnson, reporting on my experience of the Great Plague of 2020 (and 2021? Time will tell), but my own, personal life has thus far been so little affected, I really feel I have almost nothing to say about it at all.

Prior to the emergence of Covid-19, I worked a job in the transportation industry 4 days a week, on a shift that usually saw me get home around 2:00 in the morning. Three days a week were spent domestically, some shopping, some cooking, some cleaning, lots and lots of time with the baby.

Meanwhile, Raven is looking forward to returning to work in August, and hoping against hope that she will not be working from home, but she too is normally pretty hermatose; I doubt she goes out with friends even once every couple of months as a rule.

So for us, what's not to like? (I know, I sound like a privileged asshole, and yet, it is my personal experience with this thing thus far.) And whaddo I know about the social dislocations, the anxieties, the economic suffering, caused by the plague? Basically, only what comes through my Facebook feed and, to a much lesser extent, here or on Twitter.

It isn't that I feel above the concerns of the world, so much as that I just feel apart from them. Hell, we never even ran out of toilet paper or kleenex because we always bought in bulk when such things would go on sale. (I even managed to find a fucking pound of yeast last week to replenish my dwindling supply!)

So, I dunno, what the hell am I supposed to write about here, that I am not already writing about elsewhere?

Oi. I hate this entry already. Here, have a video showing what I've learned from my small daughter and, maybe, that might express something that some of you are feeling during these weird times. Then I'll talk a little about her, and our latest anxieties.

Baby does love her cheap toys!

Well, now that I've buried the lede, I can report on our nine-month check-up with our GP (by telephone, nat'ch!).

Tiny, perfect baby growing slow ...

Well, I dunno about "perfect", but what else would you expect a father to say?

Baobao is healthy so far as we can tell. She has lots of energy, is crawling well and starting to show signs of being interested in standing; she's eating (and enjoying) a super-wide variety of foods to supplement her breast milk; her pee is clear and she's had no problems pooping; she's vocal as hell and if she's been crying more than she used to, there doesn't seem to be anything actually wrong with her — she just resents having to go down for a nap.

So, lucky us, so far and so it seems!

But one thing is causing Raven some stress, though her papa is un-bothered and, in truth, thinks it kind of amusing.

As those of you who have met me in person already know, I am not a tall man. In fact, I am considered pretty damned short, at least in the first world. I used to be a bit over 5'5" tall but at my most recent physical I measured under. Shrinking already, apparently. Nevertheless, on my dad's side of the family, I am one of the two or three tallest of a dozen or so cousins.

I credit my Mongolian heritage (a paternal aunt recently had her DNA tested and came up with 5% "central Asian" (not to mention 3% Neanderthal!) heritage, so this thesis is edging onto proven) for being what my father has long called "normal height".

Raven (5'2"? 5'3"?), on the other hand, does not subscribe to my less-is-more philosophy, and so was underwhelmed when we reported Baobao's latest measurements to the good Doctor Chow.

  • Length/height: 66 centimetres = 5th percentile;

  • Weight: 15.2 pounds = 10th percentile;

  • Head circumference: 45 centimetres = 80th percentile

So. Super small baby, actually. And Raven told me just this morning as the three of us lounged in bed for a bit that if she were in the 3rd percentile there would be reason to worry there was something wrong with her &dmash; so she's only just within the normal range.

Which means I can still laugh about my baby's size (in contrast to my sweetie's unfulfilled desires; she wanted a boy, too), rather than worry about it.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

Born this way?

If there's one thing that must be characteristic of all child-carers (if not necessarily all parents; some have nannies), it must be exhaustion.

Now, I feel I have to rush to equivocate: Raven and I have been extremely fortunate compared to many so far. Nevermind that our Baobao seems healthy (if not exactly rushing to hit her developmental milestones; for instance, nearly nine months old, she has yet to sit up by herself or start to pull herself to her feet by holding on to the walls of her crib or playpen; if my parents are to be (independently) believed, I was ,walking at nine months, three weeks), but since she was about two months old, she has slept through the night more of than not.

Photo of Young Geoffrey with daughter Baobao touching his chin</a>
Magister Domum, with Child: When she was sweet, she was very, very sweet ...

Mind you, a baby's night is not necessarily a grown-ups. My baby is currently awake and demanding between 07:03 and 07:18, not matter if (like Wednesday) she went down for good around 22:30 or if, like yesterday, she went down (after a rough bedtime!) around 22:30, then awoke just before midnight for a feed, and then again around 02:30. And she cares "not a whit" for what time poor Young Papa Geoffrey went to bed.

And because of that, I tried to hit the sack around 23:00 last night, and would have managed 00:00, had she not chosen to demand more food around 23:50. Raven took care of that feed, but I was still awake for it and after it.

Anyway, since I stopped working for a paycheck (which usually saw me home after midnight and lucky to be in bed by 04:00) it has been Young Geoffrey on the morning shift. Which means I am very lucky to finish a night with even a full seven hours of sleep. Usually it's more like five or six.

Again, I'm not complaining, just noting the fact: babies are a lot of work!

But no regrets. The moment Raven squeezed her out, I felt a flood of hormones washing through my system that declared, She [the baby, sorry Raven] is the Chosen One, the most important thing in your life from now on!, and those have not washed away.

Not everyone wants to be a parent, and more power to you! But some are built for the job, and I seem to be one of them.

Post-scriptum: Hivemind! The photo above reminds me strongly of a famous painting; does anyone recognize it and, if so, could you point me to a copy of it? If I could accidentally participate in that art reproduction during quarantine meme, I would do it.

BumblePuppy Press

I've been remiss; a publisher's confession

I've been remiss. Badly remiss.

I'm not only a new daddy, I am also an ostensible publisher. A publisher with a new book out, into which I have invested a couple of thousand dollars and uncounted (not uncountable, but uncounted) hours, and I don't think I've really even talked about it here. (Nor have I talked about it enough elsewhere; I have fallen down on the promotional side of the job pretty badly, and can only blame baby and Covid19 so far.)

What follows is, essentially, a draft of a promotional piece. It's in the form of a book review, while also explaining that this book is why I decided to put a few thousand dollars I could ill afford into a publishing venture.

I'm posting it here in part because I want to sit on it overnight and see how it looks onscreen in the morning, and also in hopes of getting some feedback — Does it make you interested in reading the book? If not, why not? How can I make it better?

I am very far being a natural when it comes to self-promotion, and am even less confident about my skills in that field. So any advice on how to improve it will be welcome. (As will any orders, of course!)

Photo of baby Baobao holding Black Grass by Carl Dow
My daughter is an infant of excellent literary tastes!
"And my daddy is shameless about exploiting me!"

When civilizations collide on the open prairie

Black Grass, a novel by Carl Dow

If you suspect a familial relationship between author and publisher here, you're right. Carl Dow is my dad. And his novel Black Grass is why I became a publisher in the first place, even though it was not The BumblePuppy Press' first book So take this review with as much salt as you see fit.

Truth is, when he sent me an early draft of Black Grass, I didn't even want to read my father's novel. Some 25 or more years before that he had asked me to read a radio play he'd written, which I did and which I told him was, in a word, terrible.

I didn't see another piece of fiction from him for a very long time.

So it was with a lot of trepidation that I started to read the manuscript one night, but it was with tears in my eyes that I finished it as the sun was rising the next day.

* * *

Black Grass is a bit of a portmanteau of a novel: part adventure story, part war novel, part love story, with a dollop of history both (as J.R.R. Tolkien put it) true and feigned.

Set north and south of the border of what would become the states of Minnesota and North Dakota and the future province of Manitoba, our hero is none other than Gabriel Dumont, who would later become Louis Riel's military leader.

Carl Dow's Dumont is a heroic figure of the old school: multi-talented and illiterate in seven different languages, with a warm smile for children and the ability to kill in regretful cold blood when necessary; a sceptic among believers, and the prairie Métis' Chief of the Hunt, he is a man who loves peace and wants, most of all, to live a nomadic hunter's life, even as the weight of history threatens all that he loves.

His encounter with that future history starts in earnest in the form of a damsel in distress, Susannah Ross, and the bounty hunters she has led on a chase all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Run down at last, Susannah faces gang rape and then a life as a bond-slave until Dumont intervenes, taking the city woman into the heart of his nomad's world, even as an army of several thousand Fenian raiders masses south of the border, determined to conquer the land held by the Northwest Company, convinced the local Métis population will welcome them as liberators.

If the the opening scene is almost a cliche, Susannah will prove to be far more than the pulpish damsel in distress she at first seems. As a visitor from "civilized" Halifax she serves as a 21st century reader's eyes into the alien world of 19th century nomads, and also a formidable and complicated character in her own right.

The married Dumont and the widowed Susannah enjoy a pretty modern friendship with benefits; Carl Dow's sex scenes skirt the line between too coy and too explicit and also manage to to avoid competing for a Bad Sex in Fiction Award. In Black Grass sex is, above all else, fun.

Similarly, the novel is rich with organic, character-based humour, including some laugh out loud moments. For a short novel whose maguffin is the battle between a small band of Métis hunters and an even smaller, tensely allied force of Chief Sitting Bull's Dakotah Sioux against several thousand heavily-armed American invaders, Carl Dow manages to give the reader plenty of time to experience nomadic life without war or drama.

Black Grass is that rare and fabulous literary beast, a genre novel that successfully straddles several genres at once — action, romance, historical, all folded into a trip into a mostly pretty accurate depiction of a now-distant past. (And what isn't accurate is convincing. When I was done reading the novel in manuscript, I was hopping mad about what — I thought — my education had neglected to teach me about the history of Manitoba.

I'll leave to other readers the pleasure of figuring out what Carl Dow has taken from history and what he has invented as history.

Black Grass is a novel that will surprise and delight you — and maybe, occasionally, make you cringe or even offend you. But, as the late British writer L.P. Hartley famously put it, "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

Black Grass is available in paper and ebook editions from the usual online vendors, or your local bookshop. For an autographed copy of the first edition, please visit the publisher's website (that's right here!).

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

Meme from londonkds

Papa's young philogospher

• Name a BAND (NOT a song, NOT a solo performer) that starts with the letter “D”.
• Please don’t Duck Duck Go one, just use your brain.
• I'll then give you a letter for you to REPOST.

And you can't use Dead & Company, 'cuz I am! (If you've got three + hours, this is a fantastic show!)

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

Inconsolable: The agony of the teeth

The following is the latest entry in my fatherhood blog, The Adventures of Papa Zesser, posted earlier today, in which I reflected upon pain following a miserable night, even as my Baobao played happily behind me as he wrote; a far cry from the agonized howls that rang through the air 12 hours before!

Photo of Young Geoffrey with daughter Baobao
Sleep the pain away. Baobao seems to feel no pain after enduring (and inflicting) agonies last night

Inconsolable: Reflections on pain and the agony of the teeth

My darling Baobao,

Close-up detail of photo Mama Raven trying to see Baobao's first tooth
Mama tried. Tried to get a picture of her daughter's first tooth just prior to its first appearance through the gum.

The first pain I can really remember (really, but also only sort of; see below) is from when I was probably eight or nine or, just possibly, 10 years old. I had an ear-ache, and I can vaguely remember screaming in pain as my parents rushed me the 15 or so kilometres to the Emergency Department at one of the hospitals in Sudbury, Ontario.

Since then, I have broken a leg, torn a hamstring and thrown my back out more often than I care to remember.

And yet, the amazing thing is that there seems to be something built deep into our systems that, almost the moment the pain stops, more or less erases our memories of that pain. It’s my hypothesis that it is an evolutionary development “intended” (evolution doesn’t actually “indtend” anything of course, but it’s a useful way to describe its processes) to ensure that women are willing to have more than one baby; I suspect that if women remembered child-birth in all its actual agonies they would never be willing to bear a second one. Men like me simply benefit from that natural amnesia as a pleasant side-effect. But I digress.

Last night was perhaps the hardest since we brought you home from the hospital now more than eight long (and short) months.

As my friend Sarah commented on Facebook after I made a brief post last night,

Teething really is awful, especially the first ones. Not only do you have sharp blades of enamel pushing up through your skin, your mouth, until this point a soft point of comfort and contact, is now filled with these blades. No wonder they cry

“No wonder they cry” indeed!

And, my god, but did you howl! “Inconsolable” (another word I only now really understand) is what you were while the pain was happening.

Your mother and I took turns in trying to console you, though. I through song and gentle rocking in my arms, your mum through distraction, letting you sit at table on her lap, and toss place-mats and trivets to the floor, over and over again between bouts of screaming and tears.

We knew you had a tooth coming in, and you had no fever or any other sign of something seriously wrong, so we were (mostly) comfortable in simply doing our best to comfort and distract you — and hoping that you would grow tired enough to sleep sooner rather than later.

Photo of baby Baobao having successfully pulled two of her father's books from their shelf.
"My work here is done!" Photo of baby Baobao having successfully pulled two of her father's books from their shelf.

And for a wonder, you did! Probably, your misery (and ours, let’s be honest!) last no more than a couple of hours — I shudder in sympathy with those babies (and parents) whose incoming teeth create even more pain than you suffered last night! I think it was around 01:30 when you started showing signs of exhaustion and your mum took you upstairs to bed. (And again, she was wonderful with you last night! For someone who gets easily frustrated over small things, she is absolutely fantastic in a crisis. I hope you’ll be able to remember that when she’s giving you a hard time for not picking up your dirty clothes when you’re a teenager.)

Not only did you finally go to sleep, but you slept through the night for the first time in a couple of weeks, letting me sleep in until nearly 09:30, when I took you down for a bottle of your mother’s finest. After that, we went to my office, where we shared a couple of happy hours before a mighty big poop put an end to the fun.

For all I could tell, you had no memory at all of the agonies you had gone through last night. I only hope that all your future pains will be as easily and quickly forgotten!

Love you always,


Papa Z

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

Meme: Pronoun check

[Yoinked from [personal profile] sabotabby]

Meme: Pronoun/title/adjective check!

As in, "what I think of these pronouns/titles/adjectives as applied to me"

It/its: If you insist, but I'll be paying close attention to your tone of voice

She/her: No, but I don't really care. It used to happen now and again when I had hair — and wore it long

He/him: Yes, I am a cis male and pretty straight. This is accurate.

They/them: Sure, I'll answer to that. If the singular they was good enough for Shakespeare ...

Neopronouns (post them): I am pretty partial to Young. As in Young Edifice or Young Geoffrey. And I find that I like it more, the less true it becomes.

Mr: That's both of my late grandfather's but whatever.

Mx: If you must. But forgive me if I just say, "Eh? What?"

Miss: Not even for my daughter, if I can help it. Ms from birth to death.

Ms: Not for me, but see above, and note the lack of a period.

Ma'am: Please smile when you say that.

Sir: I'll answer to it, but prefer that you're tongue is in the proverbial cheek.

Mistress: Need I even answer this one?

Captain: I prefer the sound of "commander", even though I understand that is an inferior rank in most armadas.

Dr: I call you Doctor (note the lack of an abreviation).

Pal, buddy, friend, comrade, folks, etc: Pal and buddy — like boss — make me cringe for reasons I don't really understand, but please don't. Comrade makes me uncomfortable because it reminds me I'm not really doing much to advance the (or any) revolution. Folks is plural, but I don't mind being included. And nobody's ever called me Etc. Edifice, so I think we we're good to ignore that one.

Dude, bro, bruh: I can deal with Dude, but Young Edifice isn't so young as once he was, and bro and bruh start me shaking my fist at clouds.

Sis: Once or twice, if you're smiling, otherwise I'll just get confused.

Sib: Are we related by blood? Boi: No thank you. See my fist, clouds, above. But it's okay if you're talking about cats or other fauna. Maybe even adorkable plants.

Boy: Especially on the (soccer) pitch, yes.

Girl: Well, y'know, I do have a (handsome) penis.

Lady/ladies: See above.

Terms of Endearment (hon, sweetie, darling): As Sabs put it, depends on our relationship/whether you're from the American South or other linguistically colourful regions (Cape Breton, maybe).

“Feminine” compliments (pretty, beautiful, etc): I'm short, balding and 55 years old. I'll take it!

“Masculine” compliments (handsome, etc): Same.

Neutral compliments (cute, attractive, cool, etc): It should go without saying that you should use such terms to describe me!

Damn. I really do have better things to do, but baby seems to be teething and the last couple of nights have been a return almost to our brutal first two months as parents when sleep was an almost mythic state of being.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

So far, so lucky: Plague Journal #001

</p>1. Are you an Essential Worker? Sort of. My day job is in the transportation industry, driving flight crews between the airport and their various hotels. However, there hardly are any flights right now, so I have been officially laid off due to "shortage of work". The company is maintaining a skeleton crew for the duration.

That said, I effectively laid myself off a couple of weeks early, and so am fortunate that my boss (it's a family-run company; they've offered interest free loans to employees who might need them) was understanding. He could have said that I had quit.

2. How many drinks have you had since the quarantine started? Quite a lot fewer than I had had in any corresponding period of time before the isolation began. I have had a hard time justifying a trip to my local beer store as "essential", so have gone completely dry for a number of multi-day periods, while at other times have worked on my limited Cuban rum supply, and have bought three outrageously expensive six-packs from the local grocery store licensed to sell beer and wine.

But I dunnon how long my self-exile from the beer store will last.

3. If you have kids... Are they driving you nuts? How could my fantastic nearly-eight month old baby drive me nuts? I adore her more with every morning that she wakes me up for her first feeding. (Raven produces the milk 24/7, so I do not at all begrudge her when she needs to sleep in.

4. What new hobby have you taken up during this? None. But I have been getting more writing done, am working on promoting the damned fine historical romance my micropress recently published, and have even started to get my back online, a labour of love going back to the turn of the century. Jesus god, I have become venerable.

My sweet baby holds a copy of my father's sweet book, Black Grass

5. How many grocery runs have you done? Lost track. I'm out once or twice a week, depending, as I'm shopping not only for us but for my father.

6. What are you spending your stimulus check on? I haven't got one yet. I've applied for EI and the CERB, but it is on hold while they investigate my small business (the aforementioned small business. When I went on "family leave" last summer, it took five god damned months to get my money (for the same reason). Hopefully it won't take quite so long this time.

7. Do you have any special occasions that you will miss during this quarantine? Not many. But I was supposed to start playing soccer again in May; that's been postponeed indefinitely. And I was going to go see a concert in Toronto this past Wednesday; that has been postponed until November; we'll see if it actually happens, and whether I'll be able to swing going, since Raven will be back at work by that point (unless she's working from home).

The fact that this wasn't (and won't be) a disaster for me is two-fold in origin. First, Raven is able to carry me economically if necessary (she's with the federal civil service and is frugal as hell) and her frugality has rubbed off on me. I typically have a couple of months living expenses in the bank, something that seems almost miraculous to me.

8. Are you keeping your housework done? Yeah. Housework — vacuuming and moping — is my job and I've been doing it a little more often than I had been before the lockdown.

9. What movie have you watched during this quarantine? Movie(s)? Just one, actually, and only two nights ago: Kick-Ass, which, as profane and bloody as it is (or maybe, because it is so bloody and profane, is far and away the best super-hero movie I've ever seen. The review I wrote back in 2010 still pretty much describes what I think of it.

10. What are you streaming with? "Streaming". Ho ho ho. Let's just say I get my teevee via unconventional channels and leave it at that.

Most of what I've watched during quarantine has been old: random episodes of The Trailer Park Boys and Curb Your Enthusiasm, mostly. I think I finished Star Trek: Picard, too, so we'll count that. And that, while I'm at it, had its charms and I'll (at least start to) watch the next season, but Jesus it was slow. The first six episodes were like the first six minutes of a decent heist movie (or so I imagine, not being a heist movie afficionado).

11. 9 months from now is there any chance of you having a baby? I already have one, thank you, and she's all the baby we need!


12. What's your go-to quarantine meal? Don't have one. We were an eat-out-once-a-week-max couple before the baby came, and became even more the dine-in types afterwards. The quarantine has meant only more experimentation with new recipes.

13. Is this whole situation making you paranoid? Not really. I've always been pretty good in a crisis, and I seem to be moreso as I get on in years. I'm being cautious, but on a gut level, I seem unable to believe I will be personally affected.

14. Has your internet gone out on you during this time? We went with a really cheap router about five years ago, so it needs to be rebooted every so often. But no more so than before.

15. What month do you predict this all ends? Damned if I know. As a famous unindicted war criminal once put it, there are too many unknown unknowns. But I don't think we'll be back to normal any time soon. I'll consider us really lucky if my "spring" soccer season starts in August.

16. First thing you’re gonna do when you get off quarantine? Take my sweetie and my baby for a really long, carefree walk. Then look into setting up visits we haven't been able to make.

17. Where do you wish you were right now? Weird thing is, I'm pretty happy where I am. But, as one of you put it, though with a different emphasis: in a better timeline.

18. What free-from-quarantine activity are you missing the most? Soccer. And I'm pissed that I missed seeing The Warning in concert this past Wednesday. (Possibly I'll see them in November.)

19. Have you run out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer? Nope. We (by which I mean Raven, mostly), have long made a habit of hoarding stocking up when things like toilet paper go on sale. So we're kind of laughing while the rest of you are wishing you hand't let your newspaper subscriptions lapse in 2003.

20. Do you have enough food to last a month? A full month, no shopping? Maybe. But we'd get awfully sick of beans and rice. Or maybe rice only.</p>

What about you folks, who are still at least lurking on such archaic social media as LJ/DW?

I'm back! What about you?

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

Laurie Penny gets me

This explains so well why I am still — after a fucking eternity of Steven Moffat — am still watching Doctor Who. (Though I must say, the new regime gives me hope for the future and I am even able to enjoy the present to some extent. Jody Whittaker is just fine; I'm still not sold that Chibnall knows what he's doing.)

Also, my baby girl learned to roll from her stomach (on which she would rather not lie) to her back last Thursday. She even deigned to do it a second time for the camera.

And no, that's not someone smoking stage-right! It's a vaporiser, spreading moisture into our bedroom's aether.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

So far, so lucky: Plague Journal #001

A view from the self(ish) perspective

Young Edifice says goodbye to his baby as he prepares to venture out into the plague-emptied streets of Ottawa, afternoon of March 25, 2020.

I feel as if I'm tempting fate to type the following, but here goes ...

Presuming we don't get sick, the semi-lockdown we're experiencing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has barely touched our lives except for one thing: I am out of work.

Out of work, but not disastrously so. Raven is still on maternity leave, at either 90% or 100% of her salary (I think the latter), and I have learned sufficient frugality from her that I actually have a couple of thousand dollars in the bank — something I was unable to accomplish back the days more than a decade ago when I earned twice what I do now. And it looks as I will be eligible for some sort of government package that will cover my lost income at least until August — which is when our plan had me leaving work to become a full-time dad anyway.

And in a worst-case scenario, if we both somehow lost our jobs, we live in an apartment owned by non-profit housing corporation and so, would be eligible for a rent subsidy until we were back on our feet.

Long story short, I don't think any of us are sick, I want to stay home with my daughter and I might get paid to do so for the next four months, and I now have more time to write and to work on being a publisher — yes, if you're looking for something good to read, click this long link!.

What's not to like?

Not quite eerie ... but close

Photo taken around 14:45 on March 25, 2020, outside a grocery store at the corner of Bank and Somerset Streets in downtown Ottawa

Oh yeah, there's plenty not to like.

On a personal level, we had intended to visit Raven's parents and family in Macau in April but that plan — obviously — is on an indefinite hold.

Much more seriously, people — quite a lot of people in some places — are dying. Many others are seriously ill and still more people are losing their jobs and anxious that they will lose a lot more than that.

And I believe, too, from information derived via The Other Place, that at least one of you has symptoms of Covid-19 and is feeling understandably anxious because of it, so the situation is hitting me on a personal level as well, if at some distance.

Here in Ottawa (see photo above), life goes on but in an eerie sort of half-normal fashion. A lot of stores are closed and the streets — even close to rush hour — have a Sunday feel to them, while queues to get into grocery stores are now the norm. (I also went to the Beer Store yesterday — yes, booze has been deemed an essential service; and rightly so, as the last thing an over-burdened medical system needs is to have its emergency rooms crowded with alcoholics suffering from delerium tremens — and found it nearly empty.)

People are mostly being very good about keeping their "social distance" from one another and seem to be dealing with the situation with consideration and good humour. That said, our just-in-time supply system is having serious problems keeping things like toilet paper in stock, as has been widely noted throughout much of the world. The toiletry section of my local supermarket reminds me of the empty shelves we so often found in Cuba.

And here we are ...

Photo of Young Edifice holding his daughter in what might have been the final snowfall of the season., Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

And so the entire world lives in times more uncertain than ever. A global economy based on suicidal fossil fuels and with a production capacity that far exceeds demand, while the rich hoard an ever-greater percentage of the whole is now being stressed by a deadly new virus that has spread across the world with shocking speed.

I think that most of us, myself definitely included, feel on a gut-level that things will soon (or soonish) go back to normal, and maybe they will.

But will they?

On the one hand, governments in a lot of places are instituting emergency measures that provide them with powers they may be loathe to relinquish, while on the other, many of capitalism's contradictions are ever-harder to paper over.

Can the climate movement become a fully-fledged anti-capitalist movement? I dunno, but I can dream ...

Me, I'm doing my best to hunker down and raise my daughter as if the world is a safe and wonderful place and will only get better. I will dream.

Meanwhile, how are you folks coping with the situation?

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