Monday, May 16, 2005

Listen To Meeeeeee... 

Don't forget to tune in to Tributary, your abfab ten to midnight (EST) Monday night radio show.

From funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass, and everything in between. Listen to bedtime stories on the half hour and the hour; win a week's worth of coffee in our nightly coversong contest. Requests considered via comments or live at (413) 498-0114.

Live stream here. Last week's show here. Be there.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:29 PM | 0 comments


Ongoing Irony In Education 

An open memo to the prep school administration

So the executive committee and the academic committee are concerned about students playing videogames, using the internet for "non-academic purposes," and watching/listening to programming of all sorts during study hall. You've asked for data to explore how much Internet use is occuring during study hall, and the way you've asked for it seems -- to me, mind you -- to pre-emptively include some base judgement on that data about which of it is academic in nature.

But watch out for the easy blame-the-technology solution. Before you fall into the trap so many of us have before, consider:

Did anyone check the research to determine if such activities are actually detrimental to "our" kind of learning? Is there a way to know whether this sort of behavior is actually interfering with homework? Is there a way to know whether it is serving some students positively while serving others negatively? Will you be able to tell if the data you collect reflects the only activity students are engaged in, or whether it is but one layer of a multitasking environment that includes simultanous active homework and study? Is it possible that such data will actually be a reflection of too little homework assigned, and not enough leisure brain-rest time given to our students -- that we're about to blame the technology instead of ourselves for what turns out to be not at all a problem in the first place?

Some words of caution, folks: think empirically. The plural of anecdote is not data. Observation is not a demonstration of causality. Before you act, make sure you read the recent assumption-challenging work of Stephen Johnson (Like this. And this.)

And, most importantly, beware the power of role modeling. It's always temtping to blame the technology -- it's shiny, distracting, and can't fight back. But human problems demand human solutions. Limiting behavior in service to an academic ideal when little or no causality between that behvaior and the ideal can be demonstrated is more transparent than you know. Unless you're sure...don't do it.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:16 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Cheap Dates 

A fairly successful dry run for good parenting under unemployment today. Morning housecleaning and tantrums take their emotional toll, but they don't hit the pocketbook. Better, though, was an afternoon jam-packed with local freebies offered by pretty much every community, if you know where to look.

First, a very special storytelling event at the Northfield library, the usual stories, snack, and project heavily overshadowed by a parking lot full of municipal vehicles open to the kiddie public. Willow and I had a blast climbing in and around the fire truck, but the ambulance was by far her favorite.

Next stop, the Creamie, where we satisfied her sugarlust with a sampler cone piled high with sunny yellow sprinkles.

From there we headed out to Gill and the Songline Emu Farm, a local spot we've been intending to go for months. The woman running the place was nice enough to suggest a free self-guided quickie-tour rather than the official $3 thirty minute run, both to save her voice and to not overwhelm the little one with too much technical information. Got to see and stroke two day-old chicks the size of peewee footballs, run with the month-olds up and down the fence, and marvel at the throatcalling elders ready for harvest; collected plenty of double feathers; learned that emu eggs are forest green and hard and brittle as December ice.

The emu farm was right next to the town boat dock, so Willow and I wandered the rocky beachside, watched boat trailers pull in and out in the warm late-Spring sun, and ended up throwing rocks into the widest lakelike stretch of the Connecticut River while Darcie sat in the car with a sleeping Cassia.

Back home, the boys at the dorm next door played Dead tunes surprisingly well into the night as the light faded. Willow and I listened out her window until she felt sleepy and I felt nostalgic for summer festivaling. Getting her to sleep was a breeze.

Total cost, not counting gas: 50 cents for the sampler cone, another buck for Darcie's kiddie cone, and $2.60 for a shared chocolate malt. Not bad for a day with so many new experiences, I felt like a kid again myself.

Oh, yeah, and I guess someone bought the sausages we cooked up for breakfast. Pity the free lunch (and dinner) goes the moment we leave boarding school life behind.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:03 PM | 15 comments

Friday, May 13, 2005

Old School Educational Technology 



Yes, it's actually called The Teacher and Overhead Projection


Ahh...I love a good triple pun. Can you believe the library's getting rid of this book?

posted by boyhowdy | 3:16 PM | 2 comments


Disclaimer 

It should go without saying, but...
  • This is my life. If you have problems with it, get your own.


  • Similarly, everything I write is IMHO. That's just how blogs are. Get over it.


  • When I write a blogentry, especially one about an ongoing part of my life -- my childhood, for example, or my daughters -- the opinions and emotions expressed in that entry in no way represent the sum total of my feelings for or about the subject of that entry. Not even at that given moment.


  • I'm a social libertarian. Though I reserve the right to deconstruct and criticize specific and clearly defined ideas and opinions by exploring inconsistencies and factual errors internal and external, this blog is in no way intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, a critique of you, your lifestyle, your belief system, or your parenting style.


  • Comments are there to be used. Use them to add your own opinion or commentary, to make corrections where relevant, or to offer different viewpoints and interesting follow-up. Don't use them for trolling or bloggerbaiting. And don't go to my supervisors if you have a problem with something I said if you haven't gone to me first. Who knows, maybe it's you.


  • If you do not want me to write about you, say so. If you would like me to limit what I say about you in any way, say so. This goes double for family members and close friends -- though I try to portray you all in the most positive and accurate light, I'm not out to be hurtful or vindictive, and sometimes you just want some part of your life off the table. That's fine, but I can't do it if I don't know. So tell me.


  • This is my blog. I write it for me, with you listening. I am happy to provide clarification where requested, and happier still to offer amends and public apologies for getting facts wrong. However, I would encourage you to take ownership of any hurt which you may experience as a result of misunderstanding me, my words, my intent, or any of the above points.


  • All writing, design, and other content not specifically attributed in this blog is my intellectual property. Link to me with impunity, quote judiciously and appropriately, represent it as your own at your own peril. If you think you're planning on using it for commercial purposes or otherwise spreading it around wholesale, ask and ye shall receive.

There. That should about cover it. Can we move on now?

posted by boyhowdy | 1:59 PM | 5 comments

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Poetica 

1.

Late Spring, hard frost:
we covered the strawberries
in darkness.

The planets were out.
Something had been howling
earlier.

Look I said in the darkness
(I knew she was sleeping
upstairs)

Step out of the porch light
into the shadow of the tree
and disappear.


2.

If (says Dewey)
the key to happiness is
to find out what one is fitted to
and secure an oppurtunity to do it
perhaps discovering fitness
but losing the locus for application
is a busted lock.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:36 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Spriggan Experiment: Book Writing On A Street Performer's Economic Model 

Now that he's hit the infolit pipeline (via BoingBoing, for one) for his experiment in alternative publishing, there's no need to remain sheepish about my love of Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar series. Granhted, like many such series, the first few books are the best, but Watt-Evans at his mostly-best is still a damn sight better than most quick-read fantasy writers, and his continued focus on the lives of ordinary people transformed by extraordinary events holds true and strong throughout the eight books produced so far.

So what's the deal with the next book? Well, it's being held hostage in the author's mind. The premise is simple: send Watt-Evans cash, and he'll keep cranking out the chapters until the book is finished.

Watt-Evans turned to this unique experiment, partially inspired by the Street Performer's Protocol, when publishers weren't interested in advancing him the dough to keep working on the series; if the $100 per chapter method works and The Spriggan Mirror actually gets published, those who donate will get free book goodness in return. (Of course, if publishers still aren't interested, you still get to read the book, and you also get that warm fuzzy feeling.)

Check out the rough drafts of chapters 1-4 and get hooked yourself. And if anyone has an extra copy of The Spell of the Black Dagger, please consider lending it out -- it's out of print, and my copy went missing years ago.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:59 PM | 0 comments


Like Father, Like Daughter 

Wednesday mornings we hit the tiny local library for storytime. Penney the library lady reads books and leads the kids in song while they sip their juiceboxes and eat cheddar goldfish from tiny paper cups. Afterwards they'll sit in their halfpint chairs at low tables and glue cutouts to white paper with runny gluesticks.

This week's theme is trains. Train books follow train songs; colorful paper locomotives and cabooses to paste down with sticky fingers.

For the second week in a row, in the absence of any stronger voices among the toddlers, Willow's overenthusiastic demand for "The wheels on the bus" causes an offtopic song.

But it's a good week, all things considered: once she's collected all the cutouts in reach, leaving the rest of the table bereft of locomotives, Willow manages to keep her hands on her own paste and cutouts.

I only see some of this, of course. Darcie and I trade off with Willow these days; sometime between the last song and the second paste-down, I get to take off for my own weekly browse-and-borrow downstairs among the short stacks of the tiny local lendinghouse.

But it's hard to miss her even then. Of the dozen moms and midgets, Willow's voice is the only one that carries to the stacks a floor below.

Willow loves library days, and I do too. I've always been a reader, and though I prefer book ownership to lending, my work in libraries and our recent financial difficulties have brought me around to an almost-equal love of borrowed words. I like the idea of being totally surrounded by books, and I like the smell and feel of small libraries, too, the musty shine of wan windowlight on plastic hardcovers.

And I need to get plenty of books when we visit, because I'm an insomniac reader, turning pages two-a-minute or faster, mostly on the porch afterhours with cigarette and stars while the family sleeps. Used to be I'd spend some of that latenight time blogging and otherwise screenreading, but with no network service in our temporary home and an ever-impending need to lend a hand with latenight diapers, I'm averaging a book a night.

Willow can't read yet, of course. But she's bound to be a reader like her dad. An obviously ADD kid long overdue for a venue to hyperfocus; an imaginative kid ready for fully immersive otherworlds; an overly bright and inquisitive kid who wants to understand everything; a lover of stories and books, and simultaneously an overactive participant in all that she does, she demands her own pace in all things -- a set of tendencies that will surely lead her to her own mastery of text and love of language.

In so many venues, of course, these tendencies have disastrous consequences. The need to lead causes no end of social stress, alienating her peers, pulling her towards older kids who soon leave her behind. The overactivity confuses and exhausts other children. The overfocus on the self, moreso than other kids her age, makes kids feel left out merely for playing. Eventually, they go away.

Some of this is just what it's like to be two going on four, of course. But Willow's not like the other kids, and it shows. Even today you could see it coming: the way she stood and sang lustily, coaxing and showing off to the other, quieter kids as they sat and sang softly on their parent's laps; the way she stood and wiggled in front of the books as they were read, answering every question first, closing the other, more patient and reticent kids out while demanding the most of Penney's attention.

I know these behaviors. They were mine, once. I, too, was a friend of the olders, more mascot than peer, long into high school. I, too, was a frustrated leader, always wondering where my followers had gone. I, too, was the brightest when no one knew it, the kid at the front of the class who couldn't help but show off, even as I hated myself for perpetuating my loserhood while I blurted out the right answer.

I fear for her, projecting my own relative anonymity and social pariah-hood as a kid, my lack of social graces, the always-longing for the recognition of the popular kids. I hate myself for being no less able to arm her for the future she may face than I was able to protect myself. The paradox, of course, remains: if I knew a way to turn her from my hurtful social existence, I'd have fixed me, long ago. And if I had, of course, I wouldn't be the me I am today, and there's be no her at all.

Yes, she'll find books soon enough. She'll need to, after all. Just like her daddy.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:07 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Blog Entry 

Anecdote, current event, or cut-and-paste infosnack with a kernel of universal truth.

Revelation & restatement of that truth.

A deeper analysis of the truth and its ramifications.

A more personal suggestion of bias in resolving those ramifications. (May include acknowledgement of other and opposing opinions and observations.)

Something pithy which simultaneously opens up the topic and recaptures the original anecdote/event/infobit.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:20 PM | 3 comments

Monday, May 09, 2005

So Much To Say 

The moon. The stars. The night. The radio.

Let's let the music speak for us tonight.

Playlist follows.


Tributary 5/9/05

(Intro: Toots and the Maytals w/ Ryan Adams -- Time Tough)
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals -- Diamonds On The Inside
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Oysterhead -- Oz Is Ever Floating
Oasis vs. Green Day -- Boulevard of Broken Songs
Goldfinger -- Superman
Jane's Addiction -- Ripple

storybreak: the carrot seed

Brian Setzer & The Tomcats -- Secret Agent Man
They Might Be Giants -- Cowtown
Barenaked Ladies -- Chimpanzee
The Biscuit Boys -- Coming Into LA
Laura Love -- Come As You Are
Keb' Mo' & Bonnie Raitt -- Just Like You
Lou Barlow -- Home
Keller Williams -- Bounty Hunter

storybreak: mama, do you love me?

Salamander Crossing -- Passion Train
Richard Shindell -- Waist Deep In The Big Muddy
Cry, Cry, Cry -- Fall On Me
Stanford University Marching Band -- Golgi Apparatus
Susan Werner -- All Of The Above
Phish -- Back on the Train

storybreak: guess how much I love you

Lori McKenna -- What's One More Time
Paul Simon -- Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears
Ernie & Aaron Neville -- I Don't Want To Live On The Moon
Emo Phillips (random routine)
Nick Drake -- Pink Moon
Simon and Garfunkel -- America
Mindy Smith -- Come To Jesus
CSNY -- Find The Cost Of Freedom
(Outro: Herbie Hancock -- All Apologies)

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH.

Tributary: where the music always comes first.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:05 PM | 0 comments


Randomalia: Too Much Bread, No Circus 

Cassia's naming ceremony went off without a hitch, though the behind-the-scened work necessary to design and implement the event -- componded by a total two-year-old meltdown morning -- left us all exhausted. Nice to see family and friends in such a complimentary setting. Nicer to see them in a social setting where it would be totally inappropriate to dwell on the incredible shrinking window of employment, residency, and solvency the family finds itself in.

By last night the crowd had moved on, leaving us with random leftovers -- mostly bags of bread and cookies, since the good stuff went to other family members leftover bags -- and a few nice cards and gifts. Oh, and the world's largest flower arrangement on the kitchen table.

Realized today I'm not blogging as consistently. Mostly, this is because the vast majority of my waking hours are plod-ahead hours, nothing novel or blogworthy. Too much of my life is full of diapering and jobsearch fiddlystuff which has little prospect of going anywhere.

Spoke with the prep school placement rep on the phone on Friday. She suggested a tech job at a day school school in Wisconsin. Not a good sign, as she knows I'm hoping for a boarding position teaching English or History in New England.

Have taken to circling ads for teaching jobs in the Boston Globe, but most require certification.

Am considering calling the director of admissions and offering myself to her for a year just to keep the house and health insurance. Would it be worth it if it meant being on the road all year, and not being able to work with the kids anymore?

The circus is in town this evening, but Willow's just getting over a cold, and Cassia came down with it last night, which kept us all up. Still, in happier times, we'd have gone anyway. Makes me sad to realize that the weight of the world is starting to trickle down to the kids. I had hoped to spare them, but I guess that was too much to hope for. It's not like we won't be living in the camper in in-law's backyards in a month, anyway, so why pretend it's all okay when it isn't? Maybe it'll make them tougher or something.

Radio show tonight, which always cheers me up a bit. Stop by if you can, eh? Ten to midnight (EST). I'll try to keep things upbeat, if I can.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:18 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Busy Busy Busy 

Newbaby's naming ceremony is tomorrow, and the entire family has a head cold, so we've been scurrying around in the rain like congested fieldmice trying to get things ready for yet another big day.

More blogging later, I promise -- possibly even tonight, while I'm babysitting for the folksinger next door so he can play a show with our good friend Noel.

In the meantime, those with MS Office are invited to check out the invitation (in PowerPoint) and program (in Publisher) for Cassia Jade's naming ceremony. The invite even has some previously unposted pix. Enjoy the cuties!

posted by boyhowdy | 4:23 PM | 25 comments

Thursday, May 05, 2005

May 6 Is International No Pants Day! 

Really.

Thought I'd let y'all know early this year so that you wouldn't get caught with your pants...um...up.

Remember, kids, school rules trump pop cultural silliness. But, as the website says, if your school and/or work says no to no pants, there's nothing to stop you from having a killer party afterwards.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:49 PM | 2 comments


Our Willow, In Song 

Out of the blue, fellow Marlboro-ite Nora writes:
Anyway, tonight I was poking around on your blog, and I clicked on one year ago and then I think I clicked on another embedded link and then I stumbled on the entry in which you detailed the origins of Willow's name. And here's the funny thing: I think I know that tree. I grew up in and around Boston, and when I dropped out of Marlboro (a common pastime, apparently), I moved home and worked for a year in the office of a musician who lived in Somerville. And she had a song about this amazing willow tree that you could see from the bike path near the Davis Square T. She called the tree 'Belinda,' but from your description, I'm fairly sure its the same one. As I recall, there weren't many trees like it. It really is a lovely tree.
Woah. I'm fairly sure it's the same one, too -- there weren't many Willows in the neighborhood, and the placement description is dead-on. So check out the first two minutes of a song about our daughter's namesake tree written and performed by Nora's ex-employer, jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant!

How wonderfully random to get such mnemonic joy out of the blue. Thanks to Nora for sending along this beautiful tribute to a natural wonder that seems to have touched many lives. She may be Belinda in the song, but she'll always be Bertha to us.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:32 PM | 3 comments


Best. Security Office Report. Ever. 

A large white pet turkey, named "BeeBee" may have wandered onto the Northfield Campus. If this turkey is sighted, please contact the owners and they will come and get their pet.

No comment.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:21 PM | 0 comments


Pointless 

Got another employment rejection this morning -- the school in question doesn't have housing for a family of four. We'll add that to "we need someone who can coach," "the teacher decided not to leave after all," "we decided to suck your brain dry during the interview process and use it to arm an in-house interim candidate," and the ubiquitous "we had many qualified candidates" as my least favorite phrases in the English language.

Batting average so far: 0 for 23. Two schools still holding my application materials, and an average of one new opportunity a week coming my way. Six weeks left in the school year, eight until we get kicked out of our school housing, and twelve weeks until my severance pay runs out. Is it any wonder I'm not holding my breath?

In addition, I learned this week that no one even notices if I go to work or not. That skipping work does not result in a "service gap" isn't really a surprise, since mostly I spend four hours a day sitting in the information commons blogging and checking email, and writing jobsearch cover letters. But I guess I expected that some of my coworkers would have noticed.

Meanwhile, I've started getting all sorts of requests from teachers for instruction and classroom partnering in the mornings. But I'm not supposed to do that, because someone decided my half-time paternity leave is better spent sitting in the information commons at a time of day when most students aren't thinking about classes or homework...and when the ones who aren't hanging out playing frisbee are in organized sports, anyway.

Look. I am an extraordinarily multitalented teacher. I can teach -- have taught -- pretty much every subject (except languages) for any age, including metateaching for teachers looking to improve their teaching. I have taught in informal and formal environments, museums and schools. I'm more qualified to teach English, History, Communications, and Technology Education in engaging and student-centered ways than 99% of the candidates out there.

I want to teach. I like to teach. I like to teach ninth graders.

I'm an expert in getting kids to think, in helping them become independent learners who love to learn, and in helping them attain the cruicial epiphanies that make their whole world come crashing together.

And I want to live with them, in a dorm. Because I firmly believe, after seven stable years in the same damn boarding school environment, that students learn best (and teachers teach best) when school isn't something you walk away from after seven hours each day.

Instead, I spend four hours a day sitting at a desk fiddling with my brain, sending infinite amounts of text out into the anonymous and unforgiving ether, while my wife struggles with a terrible two and a tiny infant in a home that, to be honest, we should be packing up right about now.

There's nothing I hate more than a pointless existence.

Please help make my life purposeful.

Hire me. Now, if possible.

Or call my supervisors and tell them that I was right when I told them, going into the paternity leave, that I was needed in the mornings, which would then give me follow-up work to do in the afternoons.

Or, if not, let me go home, damnit, so I can enjoy the last weeks with my newly-expanded family in the intimate privacy of our temporary home.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:36 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What If Orwell Wasn't Wrong, Just Premature? 

Though Postmanites like myself know that Orwellian worldviews needn't come true in order for intellect, diversity and tolerance to dissipate under the weight of censorship -- because, as Huxley reminds us, the masses reject such stuff voluntarily -- it seems some governments can't wait for the masses to fool themselves.

Case in point: Over-broad language in a recently introduced Alabama bill would not only ban gay authors and books with gay characters as the bill intends, but would cause the censorship of pretty much any text which made even the most oblique reference to behavioral practices currently illegal in Alabama.

Potentially "lost" content, according to law-and-politics blog Legal Fiction, would include all historical reference to McCarthyism (Roy Cohn was a homosexual), "all articles and magazine stories about the Abu Ghraib torture," and every issue of the Congressional Record (because congressman Barney Frank outed himself years ago). Not to mention every Elton John album ever recorded.

Not sure how to recognize cases like this when they pass your radar? Here's a hint: if you ever hear some adult claim to be passing laws "for the protection of children," run screaming in the other direction as fast as you possibly can. The moment the law tries to pre-empt parental choice, we all lose.

There's a class issue here, too. Law can't easily take books from my home, but they have a clearer mandate when we're talking about publically funded cultural information access points, like libraries. [Yes, the author of the bill has exepted public libraries, though only under pressure. But some of the poorest small towns in this world only have school libraries, which means school libraries must function as public libraries.] If this law passes, only rich folks in Alabama will be able to have access to some of the most important texts in Western culture, from Sappho to Tennessee Williams.

How horrifying to realize that Orwell may have been right after all. How much more terrifying to realize that it might happen in my own lifetime.


[UPDATE 10:25 pm: Thanks to advisee and all-around genius boy Jeremy who found the editor's note appended to the original article, to wit: "When the time for the vote in the legislature came there were not enough state legislators present for the vote, so the measure died automatically." In other words: this "bill" may have merely been one legislator's personal ratings grab. Doesn't mitigate my concern completely, though. Not as long as there remain legislator out there who believes this tripe is worth bringing up, even if its just to bring in the votes.]

posted by boyhowdy | 4:17 PM | 0 comments


Who Knew? 

According to yet another cool google graphic, May 3 is National Teacher Day.

Here's an apple. Pass it on to a teacher you love. Hint, hint.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:35 AM | 1 comments


I'm Forever Chasing Rainbows 

Comfortably numb before noon, and for all the wrong reasons. I am sipping an iced latte, unsatisfied, watching the precocious two-year-old pick at my favorite kind of croissant. My mouth tastes faintly of dentist's office: burnt enamel, overbite ink. The novacaine will wear off soon enough, but until then, the thick black forest ham and gooey cheese look enough like mangled tongue and mucus to keep me away.

Hours later, in the car with the family on the way to the grocery store. Rain falls in fat drops on the windshield. But we're driving towards a clear sky, and the sun is about to peek under the cloudlayer.

Rainbow conditions, I think.

Do you see a rainbow, I ask my wife, fully knowing that she'll get carsick if she looks back for long.

And then I see it, behind us, in the trees.

I yank the wheel at the next bare patch of ground and rush the kid out of her seat. Plop her on my shoulders. Point. Wait.

Because there's nothing like a child's first rainbow.

Except maybe giving it to her, there in an open field with the car door still open, your late afternoon shadow forever pointing towards its topmost point.

This week's playlist follows.


Tributary 5/2/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
Lucinda Williams -- Get Right With God
English Beat -- Mirror in the Bathroom
Ween -- Bananas and Blow (live)
Steve Earle -- Shadowlands
Ramones -- Spiderman
Cake -- No Phone

storybreak: alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

The Mavericks -- Dance The Night Away
Dan Hicks w/ Elvis Costello -- Meet Me On The Corner
Toots and the Maytals w/ Willie Nelson -- Still Is Still Moving To Me
Some weird megaphone-esque German cover of Oops I Did It Again I found on BoingBoing, you really have to hear this.
Indigo Girls -- Get Out The Map
John Mayer -- My Stupid Mouth

storybreak: green eggs and ham

Michael Franti -- Yes I Will (acoustic)
Olu Dara -- Your Lips
Johnny Cash -- Personal Jesus
The Band -- Rag Mama Rag
Mosquitoes -- Boombox
Nirvana -- Polly

storybreak: where the wild things are

Ryan Adams -- Desire
Ani Difranco -- Studying Stones
Marc Cohn -- Mama's In The Moon
Ray Lamontagne -- Jolene
Patty Griffin -- Take It Down
Willie Nelson -- Always On My Mind (live w/ Johnny Cash)
Simon & Garfunkel -- American Tune (live)
The Grascals -- Viva Las Vegas

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight show on WNMH Northfield, MA. Tributary: from the airwaves to the stream, it's all about flow.

Missed the show again? Sign up here to recieve a weekly reminder.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 AM | 0 comments

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bacon Bandaids, Tipping Off Time Travelers 



1. Fat-free cutcovers. Because Archie McPhee always kicks kitsch up a notch. Best if worn, not eaten.


2. MIT holds time traveler's convention in the hopes that some will actually show. Wanna help? Plant details about convention information in oral and print culture, and be sure to include latitude/longitude info in case the problem of time travel isn't solved "until long after MIT has faded into oblivion. Biggest news here, of course, is that MIT is willing to accept that it may not exist forever, at least in the same location. It's worthy of mention when a big brandname admits to its impermanence.


Both links via Boingboing. Wonderful things, indeed.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:34 PM | 0 comments


Familial Art 



Calling all New Yorkers! My brother, an up and coming artist in the NYC scene, will be featured in yet another gallery show this coming weekend. In his own words:
I'm going to be part of an interesting and fun event that Parker's Box is putting on from May 6th-8th. It's a twist on the idea of an art fair -- artists will be there to represent galleries, instead of vice versa, with projects that play on in the format of the art fair booth. The roster of participants looks solid, and the whole event sounds like it will be a sort of an art carnival, spread over three gallery spaces plus the sidewalk.

Artists will be manning their own booths during the show, so I'll be there for the duration. Come visit me! I'm presenting a fragment of a very large work in progress, titled Meta Burden, which will itself serve as my booth area. I'll also be selling "souvenirs" of Meta Burden -- miniature reproductions of parts of the piece, each a unique work in itself, for cheap.
Official details, directions, and a list of artists and galleries represented here. The opening takes place on Friday, May 6th, from 6-10pm; gallery hours for Saturday and Sunday will be 1-7pm. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:44 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, May 01, 2005

May Day, 2005 

This morning, small neighborhood children
have left a Spring bouquet -- jonquils, bluets,
a short branch of forsythia in one-sided bloom,
tiny whitelavender violets,
a single tulip like an easter egg --
wrapped in a construction paper cone
on our doorstep.

We put them in glass, borrow water
from the daffodills from grandma's garden
picked yesterday, still ripe and yellow.

Later, I go outside to watch the clouds clear.
When I step back in the house
Willow is still arranging flowers
in three glasses on the bookcase
but the flowers have lost their heads
while I was away.

Willow arranges stems, beautiful
and yellow-headed among scattered petals,
drops of yesterday's water
clinging to her arms like rain.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:47 PM | 0 comments


Ants 

There are ants in the house, mostly in the kitchen, where sticky countertops and floors reflect our hectic two-child life. An afternoon wiping them dead with wet paper towels is unsatisfactorily temporary, like routing an endless army from a single battlefield: ten minutes, an hour, the next morning under the coffeepot tiny black particles stagger among spilled grounds. We've even vacuumed them up. Relentless, they return, popping around cabinet doors, chair legs, dirty mugs beside the sink.

These ants come in two distinct types. The first, a tiny ubiquitous breed that scatter in all directions like so many tiny sunspots along the linoleum, seem to be coming through the heating vent, though of course old wooden houses like ours are riddled with tiny warp-and-woof floorslat crevices, gaping cracks where doors rot away from their moulding. Then there are their larger cousins who, though less populous, seem to have infested the pantry cabinets; it is these sumo ants who scurry across the sink fearless while the dishwater water runs.

The ants, too, are a metaphor for everything. They way they've infiltrated the house. The way they come back day after day. The way they scurry to and fro, reclaiming spaces we thought were ours. As our time here grows short, the twofold darkness comes in at the corners: the jobsearch begins to close fruitless; the unsupportable family grows, demands, becomes rich and full even as the unthinkable future flows headlong in our direction, dark as molasses, shiny as polished stones, as inevitable as an army.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:35 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Mall Crawl 

A late start to a rainy day at the mall today, but a triumph nonetheless; after spending out the baby shower gift certificates and then some, we left the place with some nice new "twirling dresses" for the surprisingly peaceful two-year-old and, most importantly, a tandem stroller. You know you've sunk deep into the parenting thing when you find yourself putting a stroller together under the mall escalators merely in order to make it through the rest of the visit with your sanity intact.

On the other hand, pre-stroller purchase, I got a lot of cute stares and wistful, appreciative smiles while walking around holding the two week old, most especially from young hispanic girls. Sadly, there may be something notable here about the lack of committed fathers in the local, mostly lower-class hispanic communities surrounding the mall.

On the jobfront, hours spent carefully crafting an application for a History position at a teaching peer's alma mater will have to be chalked up to experience after my digital inquiry netted an equally rapid response that, though the position had literally been posted just a few days ago, it has already been offered to someone, and they think he'll accept. I'm left with a few still-unanswered applications out there, a couple of vague "opportunities" from relatives and friends, and not much else on the horizon.

Let's be honest about this: we're not at "grim" yet, but we're getting close. I'm nowhere near as depressed as I was about the whole process last month -- having that new baby changes the perspective -- but realistically, there is a good chance that we'll still be jobless and homeless the day we have to leave the current house and job (that would be June 24th). We've got plenty of offers to family-crash, but that's eminently temporary. Another week, and I'm seriously going to start polishing my sandwich-making skills.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:35 PM | 24 comments

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Did You Know? 

Tip of the day: thanks to the magic of automated alt tags from del.icio.us, plus a judicious use of borrowed Javascript, you can hover the cursor over any tinyblog item to see why it's called a tinyblog.

These ain't just sidebar links, folks. Think of them as a series of shortform commentary on the subjective best of the infosphere.

In the spirit of the recently tinyblogged study which provides hard data to "prove" the no-brainer that the chaotic, distracting mess of multiple information streams that is CNN and many other channels today isn't working, because it causes people to split... their attention into too many parts to understand any of the content, we here at Not All Who Wander Are Lost are proud to utilize the third dimension in order to support simpliticy of presentation and, in doing so, provide the best foundation for audience clarity.

Tendencies towards overspeak and linguistic obfuscation notwithstanding, of course.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:28 PM | 1 comments


False Positives In The Search For Urban Etymological Origins 

An interesting and witty presentation of recent caucasian-use mass media sightings of the word crunk over at Stereogum yesterday leads to a comment-based discussion about the origins of the term. In turn, I find and post this page from Dr. Seuss' rightfully obscure 1972 work Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

Yes, it really says 'You can go in a Crunk-Car if you wish.'

Urban Dictionary lists 144 definitions of the term crunk ranging from "to get crazy and act a fool" to "crazy and drunk; fucked up or intoxicated in some way." The Seven Lady Godivas notwithstanding, it's not likely that this was what Teddy G. had in mind when he penned this simplest of plotless kiddiebooks.

Yet, oddly, though the deliberately nonsensical Seuss-use surely predates the development of the actual term by some three decades, the modern street definitions seem to apply here. Especially if one considers the blue smoke emanating from the back of the seriously crunked-up vehicle.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:27 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Take this plane to Cuba or I'll force everyone here to listen to this really great indiepop cover of Electric Boogaloo... 

[W]hen a passenger told a flight attendant he saw another passenger with suspicious materials...[t]he flight crew looked at the materials, and the pilot decided to land at O'Hare.

The material turned out to be wires, an MP3 player and homeopathic medicines.


D'oh! Full story here. (Who brings wires on an airplane, anyway?)

posted by boyhowdy | 1:34 PM | 1 comments


Something Silly 

It has become the norm for Willow to watch a video upon awakening, juice box and granola bar in hand, while Daddy drinks coffee and otherwise struggles with consciousness after a long night perforated by diaperchanging. So normative, in fact, that in my especially groggy state this morning it took me a while to realize that I was insisting upon it, advocating passivity while the kid wanted to wander:
Daddy, can we go outside?

Baby, it's raining. And you're still wearing your pajamas.

But I want to go outside.

Let's just watch the Muppets, okay?

Please, Daddy?

No, honey. Maybe later.

(beat)

Daddy, I want to do something silly. Let's put my boots on over my pajamas, and get my new panda bear umbrella from the car, and jump in the puddles. Okay?

Hoorah, then, for coffee outside in a grey morning rain, wondering at handheld earthworms and new violets. Hoorah for puddlejumping with glee in yellow fuzzy pajamas and bumblebee boots. Hoorah for yes -- it's good for the heart. And, most especially, hoorah for a child who enforces the best kind of parenting, and keeps me honest. Something silly indeed. Love you, kid.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:54 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fun And Games In The School Library 

Students play games of all types here (note: I'm writing from work, in the information commons), and we've never really frowned upon it. Sure, I guess we'd say something if the multimedia stations were being overused for major multiplayer networked gaming, but the library primarily gets kids playing tetris, fling-the-cat, spank the monkey, and other cute low-fi timewasters from the endless glut of the gamewide web. You know, the stuff you can access quickly, and play for minutes or hours with little to no mental commitment.

No worries, right? Such microgaming is harmless or better: the blipscreens take up little bandwidth, give the brain a much needed breather, and keep the hand-eye coordination up up up. Heck, some of them ever tax the brain, pushing creativity, logic and problem-solving, and even three-dimensional geometric envisioning while the wrist goes numb.

Not enough for some people, apparently. Someone today proposed -- department-wide -- that we should help the students use their game time "well" by giving them quote-educational-endquote games. Not sure here if the logic is that a library which carries both People magazine and cheap paperback sci fi is somehow expected to have higher standards (and a higher cut-off threshold for the collection) when it comes to gaming...or merely that, just as Seventeen and Vibe are (obviously) a gateway to reading Dickens and Homer, a few hours of The Sims 2 or 3D Ping Pong leaves students secretly longing for something which claims to be educational but actually has no more skill or thinking involved than the stuff which is available free.

And, as if it weren't going to be hard enough to compete with the no-download-necessary ease of the Addicting Games mentality, the proposal is to lend these educational games out from behind the check-out desk, since otherwise we'd end up engendering -- horrors! -- more game play, especially during the game-taboo hours of study hall. (Not that students ever play free games during study hall now, of course.)

To be fair, I belive my proposing and enterprising counterpart when she says that her daughter loved getting her own copy of Zoombinis. My case here, though is that getting your own copy isn't the same as getting it from the library staff when you want to use it...and, also, that Zoombinis (and other nominally educational games) are no more or less educational than the games which students already play on their own. The fact that this particular student is unusually prescient and thoughtful in comparison to her peers is noteworthy, but not relevant to my argument.

I know my thoughts here are a bit oversimplified, and that it's easy to rant here in the blog, outside the work community, when work takes a turn for the silly. I was going to write something pithy and oracular in response to it all, but then I realized I don't care so much. If people want to make a difficult path to a slightly more "educational" gaming opportunity than the current organic, perfectly acceptable, often fully developmentally-appropriate and highly educational practice, who am I to say it's not worth the bother? Time will prove me right, adolescents will go on being adolescents, free online games will continue to be at least as educational as anything we could actually provide for students upon request, and those "other" games will gather dust behind the circulation desk, mark my words. And wherever I am, I'll be laughing myself silly, trying to hit 20k on Slide Out.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:21 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 25, 2005

Cocoon Music 

At the butterfly museum today for baby's first true outing. Older sister Willow, an old hat unfazed by high-ceilinged air aflutter with a hundred multicolored wings, chased button quail around the concrete floor to the underfoliage, stuck her nose into resting orangewings to feel the tickle. I chased her, in turn scolding and celebrating her allatonce. Mommy rested on benches. Baby in the bjorn leaned against her chest, asleep through it all.

Lunch afterwards -- foccacia sandwiches and fresh turkey clubs -- and a trip to the candle store: teacandles in Sage and Citrus, Primrose, and Tulip for the naming ceremony two weekends hence. Supper at the door when we returned, thanks to a wonderful meal exchange for new parents here on campus. Flawless bedtime with Willow apres ziti under a smooth goatcheese-and-fresh-tomato cream sauce.

How nice to forget the looming jobless, homeless horizon for an afternoon.

But the kids are back tonight, classes tomorrow. And the radio show is for me as much as for them a weekly meditation. So I key into the dark classroom building, stumble downstairs to the basement, settle myself into the deepred swivel chairs, ready to play my heart out for this community on the cusp of leaving so many of us behind.

Playlist, as always, follows. Every last drop.

Tributary 4/25/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Phish -- Down With Disease
Steve Earle -- A Girl Like That
Guster -- Barrel of a Gun
Rusted Root -- You Can't Always Get What You Want
Suzanne Vega -- Fat Man and Dancing Girl
Ben Folds Five -- Tom & Mary
De La Soul -- The Magic Number

poembreak: Bounden Duty by James Tate

Dan Zanes -- Wonderwheel
Kathleen Edwards -- In State
Jason Faulkner -- Both Sides Now
Wilco -- Kamera
Tori Amos -- Cornflake Girl
Sebadoh -- Cold As Ice
The Gourds -- El Paso

poembreak: Ignis Fatuus by Yusef Komunyakaa

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Iron & Wine -- Woman King
Bill Withers -- Ain't No Sunshine
Lucy Kaplansky -- It Ain't Me Babe
Ray Lamontagne -- Jolene
Sam Phillips -- All Night

poembreak: Trying To Make Music by David Wagoner

Kasey Chambers -- Runaway Train
Shivaree -- I Close My Eyes
Richard Shindell -- There Goes Mavis
The Chieftans w/ Lyle Lovett -- Don't Let Your Deal Go Down
St. Germain -- Montego Bay Spleen
Donna The Buffalo -- Seems To Want To Hurt This Time

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show on WNMH, serving the tri-state area (no, the other tri-state area) and the world every week with a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and everything in between. Have a good one, folks.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:30 PM | 4 comments

Sunday, April 24, 2005

7 Moon Haiku 

Over the garage
moon rises low on the ridge.
Sweet dreams, proud sister.

Out in the driveway
the glow of a cigarette,
a portable moon.

Her side of the house
floods with reflected moonlight.
Our side is shadowed.

Flush against the porch --
inherited, surprising --
new daffodils glow.

After the movie
listen to the moon-baby breathe.
Step outside again.

Penultimate moon
cloudcovered before midnight.
Newborn in my arms.

This moon spills through glass,
illimunates all of us
skating on this moon.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 4 comments


What If He Is Right, Too? 

For decades, we've worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common-denominator standards, presumably because the ''masses'' want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But...the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less. To make sense of an episode of (for example) ''24,'' you have to integrate far more information than you would have a few decades ago watching a comparable show. Beneath the violence and the ethnic stereotypes, another trend appears: to keep up with entertainment like ''24,'' you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships. This is what I call the Sleeper Curve: the most debased forms of mass diversion -- video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms -- turn out to be nutritional after all.

From Steven Johnson's new book of essays Everything Bad Is Good For You. Originally in today's New York Times Magazine and subsequently picked up by BoingBoing, with a redirect to additional mediacult rantage on Johnson's blog, including a seminal piece imagining the sociocritical response to the book had video games arrived first (and subsequent discussion/criticism via comments):
But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a fixed linear path. You can't control their narratives in any fashion—you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. For those of us raised on interactive narratives, this property may seem astonishing. Why would anyone want to embark on an adventure utterly choreographed by another person? But today’s generation embarks on such adventures millions of times a day. This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it’s a submissive one. The book readers of the younger generation are learning to 'follow the plot' instead of learning to lead."

The excerpts alone simultaneously challenge and speak to the work of the greats from Postman to Paglia, and, as such, dovetail with and justify my own work (including that course analyzing Beavis and Butthead, The Simpsons, and South Park). Either, taken alone, is perhaps the most tantalizing riff I've ever read. Note to self: finally, a must-read.

Metathought: Okay, maybe the Postman/Paglia thing is a bit obscure; for those who actually want to follow-up, this Wired article is probably a decent enough summary, albeit in Paglia's own words. And speaking of academic field-specificity, total mega-bonus points to anyone who recognized the reference to a four decade old Tom Wolfe essay about Marshall McLuhan in the blogtitle.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:53 PM | 11 comments


New Yorker Caption Contest Now Weekly 

Had so much fun with the last one, I'm thrilled at the thought of a weekly brainprompt. Here's this week's cartoon, with my own stab at the caption.


Nothing yet...but the gorillas were terrified.

Think you can do better? Act now, but hurry: contest ends this evening at midnight!

[UPDATE 4/26: New Yorker Cartoon Editor Robert Mankoff discusses the contest, it's cartoons, and "the nature of collaborative cartooning." Also, next week's contest cartoon is up!]

posted by boyhowdy | 1:41 PM | 0 comments

Friday, April 22, 2005

7 Sightings 

A baker's half dozen of today's moving targets, from the virtual to the local.

1. A link from there to here and a virtual high five, both for submitting one of the 20 questions Captain Platypus chose to address for post-series Ask The Captain. Answer (and my question about woodchucks) here.

2. Nifty male-parenting resource Fatherville, courtesy of fellow culture vulture (and Mother-in-law) Patty. She's helping with the wee ones this afternoon while I work, so extra thanks, Mama.

3. Blood everywhere this afternoon on my way to work, perhaps as much as a cup trickling from my nostrils before I could pinch the clot into forming. Damn allergies. Lucky I had all those leftover McDonald's bags in the car, or I'd never have had enough napkins to handle the flow.

4. Parents in droves cover our beloved campuses today for this term's Parent's Visting weekend. Since I'm not teaching classes while on paternity leave, I've got but one meeting (with an advisee parent), and have been otherwise hiding out behind the service desk in the library. Long weekend ahead!

5. Potentially pro-masturbation (and anti-feminist) message intended to "merely" promote Vagina Monologes proves my ongoing point about the semiotic limitations, vast vague openness, and ultimate danger to one's cause of bumper-sticker messages. Say what you will, but this principal is absolutely in the right to ban "I (Heart) My Vagina" buttons, as they can indeed suggest/reinforce the unfortunate idea that women should be (or want to be) valued for their body rather than mind and heart.

6. Today's McSweeney's Short Imagined Monologue: MICROSOFT OFFICE ASSISTANT: THE PAPER CLIP:
Let me help you with that. Oh, come on. I don't want anything. I just want to lend a helping hand. Look at me, I have eyebrows! I need attention. But that is all I need. Feed me attention and I will solve all your problems. It looks like you're writing a letter. I love writing letters. I love reading letters. I just finished reading The Collected Letters of Van Gogh in three volumes....

7. And, finally...

Yet another wonderful thematic Google icon

Even Google knows it's Earth Day. Now get outside and hug a tree or something.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:19 PM | 25 comments

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Failed Experiments In Silence 

Last week, in a planning meeting, Student Congress asked the librarians if we could add another silent study room for use during study hall. Since the library has turned into somewhat of a party zone over the past few terms -- a phenomenon easily exacerbated by the usual deadly combination of Senior Spring and the effect that warm weather always has on adolescent hormones -- we were happy to oblige.

Tonight, for the first time, we closed off the fiction room with a sign that said "silent study only." As each student came into the library, they invariably took a quick look and decided to camp elsewhere. Soon, the rest of the library became overcrowded...and loud enough to make silent study anywhere in the building totally moot.

Then someone stole the sign.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:04 PM | 0 comments


Stress and Sleeplessness 

After milking the oversized brains of four candidates for what should have been major consulting fees but amounted to a free trip to the Princeton area, they gave the department chair job down in Princeton as an interim position to someone in-house.

Annoying, that, but not illegal.

So we're not going to be moving to Princeton, which is good.

But then, it's starting to look like we're not going to have anywhere to go, which is not.

I'm not at the end of the line just yet -- applied for a full-year job at a nearby prep school, and sent out a letter of intent to a tiny boarding school in the hopes that they'll want a Renaissance Guy like me to teach English. But every day gets a bit closer to total loserhood. And family homelessness. I'm almost afraid to count the weeks.

The reimbursement check from Princeton came today, and I've been eyeing my retirement account with a sort of shameful lust. It'd be pretty depressing to trade the family's future for a hand-to-mouth present, but it may come to that, in the end.

In other news, I've had a debilitating migraine for over 24 hours, my shoulder blade develops a sharp shooting pain after just three minutes of babyholding, and my herniated disk is back with a vegnance.

This is day two of sitting in an information commons for four hours with not a soul to assist with anything. Meanwhile, Darcie's home resting up after a too-soon-after-C-section full family trip to the grocery store and Friendly's. This is stupid; I should be home with my children, bonding. Desperately.

It's hard not to think that every minute I spend here at work doing nothing is time wasted laying a foundation for us to brave the unknown and scary future together.

It's hard not to think about how busy, fulfilling, and useful my mornings used to be, what with teachers and students clamoring for my time between and during their class periods.

It's hard not to resent the people who decided that sitting here blogging in public while every kid in the school hangs out playing frisbee outside all afternoon is the best way my time could be spent.

It could be worse, I know. We could be out of paychecks already; we could have no parents ready and willing to help; the two year old with Downs Syndrome at the next table over could have been ours.

But I hate people who say that. It can always be worse. That doesn't mean it's good. Or that it's going to be good anytime soon.

How long can one function on three hours of dead-to-the-world a night? How depressed can one get sitting twiddling one's thumbs when the world needs teachers, the children need parents, the teachers need support, and the timing's all wrong?

Maybe it's just the migraine talking. But, man, I wish someone, anyone, would give me a chance to make a difference in all these lives. I'm damn good at it. The world needs it. How impotent it feels most days to know that I'm not doing anyone any good. Especially when pretty much everyone who has ever seen me teach or parent agrees that what I do -- at home, at work, and at play -- is both amazing, and amazingly transformative, in exactly those ways that people actually need.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:25 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

More Fun With Boingboing 

Responding to the severe shortage of old people who require fulltime assistance, a Japanese company has manufactured a synthetic senior citizen as a stopgap measure [for Nurse's Aid training].

Okay, now read it again.

How do you get a shortage of old people? If there's not enough old people to practice on, then why do they need to train nurses to work on old people? Where did all the old people go, and where is this sudden flood of septuagenarian invalids supposed to come from?

So many questions, so little old people.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:16 PM | 1 comments


My Kind Of Funny 

Jokes with realistic endings thread over at Something Awful goes on for 8 pages. Some sweet samples:


  1. Have you seen Stevie Wonder's new house?

    No.

    Well, it's really nice.


  2. What do you get when you're gay?

    Made fun of.


  3. What do you get when you cross a chicken with a centipede?

    A media circus about the debate over the morals and ethics of genetic engineering.

Endless fun for the secret/not-so-secret PC-hater in all of us. Even my students liked it. Link via Boingboing.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:34 PM | 0 comments


Notes On Second Fatherhood (Day 6) 

Cassia Jade remains a wonderment. Up at all hours of the night, her dark eyes darting everywhere during feedings, constant diapering; our little C.J. cries little, and watches much. The back of her head fits in the palm of my hand; tiny reddish blond hairs against that new baby skin softer than peachfuzz, anything imaginable. Now that she's guzzling milk like a pro her very pores ooze that sweet, wondrous babybreath smell. It lingers on my clothes even now.

At seven, her sister Willow comes alive between us in the family bed. Come downstairs with me, Daddy; time to get up, Daddy; I love you, Daddy; want to watch the Muppets? This morning I took her to library storyhour and almost fell asleep to the soothing sounds of the substitute librarian reading picture books about flowers to a room full of mothers and children but otherwise empty of fathers. Like every first child must, she has been regressing in her own way as her family shifts to make room for the newcomer; in Willow's case, this means a full-blown case of the go-limp tantrums at the drop of a hat, and more cuddles than there used to be at our father-daughter bedtime.

The mother of my children -- oh, how I love that phrase -- remains a superwoman. She's off even the Motrin, and fully functional; you'd never know she was 6 days past major abdominal surgery if you hadn't been there, cutting the cord, on her bleeding belly. Running on naps and nurturing, she spends most of her days curled around the new one, milking, rocking, drowsing in the unseasonable heat wave. Folks stop by to find her cheerful and welcoming on her living room rocker, eager to chat, perhaps even off sitting under a shaded tree in the yard with the baby blanketed on her lap.

Me? I'm back at work as of today, afternoons only for the rest of the term. Somewhat delirious, having slept little since the birth. I spend my time at home following the girls around at a distance, entering rooms once they have moved on to clean and gather, tidy and wash. My herniated disk is acting up; my shoulder blades ache constantly.

I've held Cassia for a total of about an hour and a half since she was born.

Yeah, I'm happy. She's a miracle, indeed.

But she's not my miracle.

With eight weeks to go before we lose both job and home all-at-once, no job offers in sight, and the school hiring season winding down, it's hard to stay focused on the beautiful newness of things. Too much time on my hands, too many questions about this or that unrealistic opportunity at some totally unrealistic school -- too much time dwelling on the fact that time is running out, and the bank balance empty as can be -- and caring for the family becomes a quick and constant confrontation with the fact that, just two months from now, I will have no way to feed, clothe, or shelter this wondrous clan.

And so I wash the dishes switch over the laundry diaper the baby feed the toddler check in on the mother fold the clothes restock the diapers over and over and over again, keeping the mind busy, the hands on soft things, the family first.

I drown myself in my family.

So I do not drown, myself.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:39 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 18, 2005

Too Tired Tributary 

Baby and more baby...the jobsearch and all the rest of my life has been on hold for days, and good thing, too.

Diapers. Headholding. The right way to wrap the body, and the too-loose way. How much it hurts the back to rest the baby's butt on the belly while she's in your arms. How to be a daddy. It's amazing what comes back, and how quickly.

It's amazing, too, what one forgets. How the world shifts. How the entirety of life refocuses in an eyeblink, as if we emerged from the hospital into bizarro world. I mean, last week the one year old next door was tiny, and now she's this giant person...

Anyway. Cassia is a little peanut. At four days old, she's lifting her head and cruching her stomach muscles, trying to sit up on her own. Her blueblack infant eyes open wide, scan the room for mommy and daddy constantly. Except during the day, when she sleeps like...a baby, I guess. Though she looks like a turtle with her eyes closed.

Of course, that means we're up all day with the two year old, and changing diapers and cooing all night with the baby. I've slept about 6 hours total since Wednesday.

So here's the result of all that exhaustedness: Tonight's slightly garbled, oddly inconsistent, eclectic, hectic edition of tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show on WNMH. More reports anon. For now, playlist follows.


Tributary 4/18/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Cake -- Sheep Go To Heaven
Peter Gabriel -- Steam
Calexico -- Alone Again Or
dmb -- the best of what's around
beck -- Hell Yeah

Gilberto Gil -- Three Little Birds
Timbuk 3 -- Born To Be Wild
Weezer -- Undone
They Might Be Giants -- They'll Need A Crane
Aberfeldy -- Love Is An Arrow
Patty Griffin -- Love Throw A Line
Alison Brown -- Everyday I Write The Book

Jim White w/ Aimee Mann -- Static on the Radio
Jack Johnson -- Losing Hope
Nickel Creek -- Spit on a Stranger
Wild Band of Snee -- The Clover Show
Tom Landa & the Paperboys -- All Along The Watchtower
Hird -- Burn

Jeff Buckley -- Woke Up In A Strange Room
Barenaked Ladies -- Light Up My Room
Monty Python -- I Like Traffic Lights
Keller Williams -- Anyhow, Anyway
Jem -- Maybe I'm Amazed
Shawn Colvin -- Say A Little Prayer

Yeah, that. I'll be back.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:03 PM | 0 comments
coming soon
now listening
tinyblog
archives
about
links
blogs
quotes