Baby and me

This morning I had, the strangest dream*

The book, sans toddler
Dr. Seuss' The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories, the volume which seems to have given me an extra hour or two of sleep this morning.

The strangest dream? Maybe not, but strange enough that I actually remember it now (as I start typing this entry at 19:53), nearly 12 hours later.

I had, for some bizarre reason, flown into LAX (Los Angeles, for those of you not hip to airport acronyms | I say, "for some bizarre reason" because I have been to LA once, which was enough. It was everything I had thought it would be: a hypertrophied version of Sudbury, Ontario, all desolate suburbs surrounding a mediocre downtown core. Mind you, the food was better. But I digress), only to find that I had lost both my phone and my wallet.

So there I was, lost in that gargantuan concourse, bearing a single knapsack, no money and no identification.

A nightmare? Well, not quite.

I don't know about you, but a not insignificant subset of my dreams are anxiety dreams, in which I am basically a leaf drifting along an unknown current, heading maybe to disaster, and maybe not.

This morning, not.

Instead, I was approached by a 30-something black woman — very dark skinned, but very American: very large, very loud, very friendly — who sensed my confusion and vulnerability and asked me what was going on. I told her, she disappeared, then soon returned with her family — all equally dark skinned, all as large (or larger), and all as friendly.

She pressed into my hand a wad of bills (I wouldn't check the amount until the end of the dream; it turned out to be hundreds of dollars in new and fancifully slick bills, not the shabby grey-green of real American money) and invited me to come along with her and her family to ... wherever it was they were doing.

It was a dream, after all.

I didn't take them up on the offer right away, preferring to spend some time wandering around the airport and beyond, but I had no money, no ID, no phone, and so returned and found that they still hadn't left. So I went with them.

We crowded into their car, their fleshy American bodies crowding me against a door that was sometimes in the back and sometimes in the front seat, but the atmosphere was always friendly, never threatening, though I was always also fully aware I was a white guy suddenly thrust into a black world.

Until, somehow, we were in Mexico, in a a restaurant which in my dream was a bodega. I was even more lost than I had been at LAX, but once again the woman who had first rescued me told me how and what to order and, at last, I was able to use the money they had gifted me — and when I found out just how substantial a gift it was.

And that was roughly when I woke up. At around 08:22, nearly two hours later than Baobao usually makes enough noise from her room down the hall to drag me from my slumber. She had been busy with a book Mama Raven left her with the night before; but for just how long will forever remain a mystery.

As will the significance of that dream, if any. Nevertheless, it is a rare dream I remember a half-day after dreaming it, so I leave it here, on a semi-private social network(s) for my own posterity. Possibly, it will have entertained some of you, as well.

False-colour photo of Baobao at work
Photo of Baobao finishing up one of her epic works of kitchen art, taken March 8, 2021. Needless to say, I played with the colours becauz dreamz.

____

*With apologies to Pete Seeger

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Baby and me

Back from the dead? Maybe not, but it seems that way ...

Where he's been, what he's been up to, what he's thinking now ...

Photo of my darling daughter taking a bold step into the future, January 1, 2021
My how she's changed! An infant no more, Baobao takes a step into the future on January 1, 2021.

Well, I paid for another year of this Dreamwidth account (and LJ will be coming due soon: Will I pay for that again as well?), so I damned well better use it, right?

I know that attempting to fully catch-up would be a horrible fool's errand, so I'll suggest you check out PapaZesser.ca if you want to know (some of) what I've been up to, and to see lots of pictures of a very cute baby's remarkable progress.

Also, my publishing company, though there isn't nearly as much that's new there (there are, of course, two really good books available there, though they've barely been selling. Publishing is hard.) I am also in the process of bringing my original website back to life, but it's a slow hobby.

Anyway.

I just checked and see that my last post talked about an apparent offer for child modelling. I did, in fact, reply to the initial message, only to get a generic message in return. Since then, we've had another nibble, but Mama Raven checked out the company and told me it had a lot of negative reviews, so I ignored it.

So much for monetizing my daughter's (undeniable) cuteness.

Onwards. How about some genuine Rexian random gloats?

  • Star Trek: Discovery is a terrible, terrible teevee program; Disco makes Star Trek (let's spend the first five episodes doing what your average heist movie does in the first 15 minutes): Picard look like Shakespeare. I dunno if I'll ever write up a proper critique of the thing, but sooner or later I'll post my notes at the very least. It's not Torchwood: Miracle Day bad, but it's bad.

  • One of the (many, many!) good things about The Expanse is that it never makes death look cool. Even when millions of lives are lost, it strives to make sure we understand that those deaths matter, that the dead are individual people, not just numbers, and certainly not a first-person shooter's body count.

  • Speaking of The Expanse, as a peripheral member of cancel culture, I find it both disturbing and interesting (and maybe, instructive?) that I am more uncomfortable watching scenes that include include Alex Kamal, as portrayed by Canada's own Cas Anvar, who has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by a lot of women (and who, I've now learned, won't be returning for season six), than I am that the show is produced by Amazon and was saved from cancellation by Jeff Bezos himself, a man who has far more blood of far more workers on his hands than women Anvar could ever hope to assault.

    Jeff Bezos, at leisure
    Jeff Bezos feasts, just as we all always knew he would.

    Whatever it says about me, that I won't buy anything by Orson Scott Card anymore, but that I haven't boycotted Amazon, I'm not sure, but it can't be flattering;


  • Being a house-husband is the hardest job I've ever had, without any question at all. I threw my back out (not too badly, but bad enough that I spent New Year's Day on prescription muscle relaxants and codeine, and today taking it very cautiously (but drug-free), and I feel as if I am about to return from 10 days in Cuba;

  • Being a dad is the best job I've ever had, without question. She bugs me sometimes, but I was made for this shit;

  • I know Nalo Hopkinson personally (not that well, but we've socialized), and I am happy that she has been made an SFWA grand-master, but the truth is, I don't think she written enough to warrant the honour.

  • I was one of the (relatively few) lucky ones. The year of Covid-19 was a good one for me. I was laid off in March, and so was blessed with the chance to become my daughter's primary care-giver.

  • Yesterday's Doctor Who special was all right. Not great (has there ever been a Doctor Who special that was actually, y'know, good? Please let me know in the comments), but it was entertaining.

    I won't miss Ryan or Graham much, to tell you the truth, but I'm glad that Yas is sticking around. It's sad how the execrable years with Moffat at the helm make the new regime seem quite a bit more than mediocre.

And maybe that's as good a place to stop as any.

For now.

I've paid my damned money. Let's see if I can make use of it this year!


My daughter is not punching me in the mouth, she is offering me her "empty" sleeve, so that I can blow in it, and so, "rescue" her "missing" hand from its depths.

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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.

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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!).

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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!)

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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

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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.

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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!

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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?

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