Hit Coffee is the story of Will Truman (trumwill),
transplant in the mountain west with an IT background who bides his time
substitute teaching while his wife brings home the bacon.
This site is a collection of reflections
on the goings-on in his life and in the world around him. You will probably
be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the
third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.
Greetings from Callie, Arapaho, a red town in a red state known for growing
red meat. And from Redstone, Arapaho(Aw-RAH-pah-hoe), a blue city with blue collar roots that's been feeling blue
for quite some time.
Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though
if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character
and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.
This website is maintained by Guy Webster (web),
who also contributes from time to time.
Web hails from the midwest and currently lives
in Truman's home city of Colosse, Delosa. He works as a utility IT person at
Southern Tech University, their alma mater.
Also contributing is Sheila Tone (stone) a West Coaster, breeder, and lawyer
who has probably hooked up with some loser just like you and sees through
your whole pathetic little act.
Last year, for 2010, we sent in to the State of Arapaho our taxes and were due a refund of $314. We were late getting it in due to the federal government inexplicably doing a system update in October that rendered some necessary tax documentation inaccessible. I was informed that, as long as you’re talking refunds, it didn’t matter that you were late. Now, it took the IRS a while and several phone calls to get us our money, but we got it.
As far as Arapaho is concerned, though, they don’t owe us anything. They had a record of the $314, but… simply did not feel obligated to pay it. Was that because we were late? They wouldn’t say. But they did not owe us the money, as far as they were concerned.
Last year, we owed Arapaho money. The $314 did not count towards what we owed Arapaho, because that money apparently went into an ether.
It resurfaced last week. Arapaho finally admitted that they had an outstanding debt to us of $314.
What changed their mind about this? They wanted to make sure - even though same documentation said that we may not have actually received it - that we paid taxes on this “income.”
Leave it to the Truman-Himmelreich household to somehow lose money on a tax refund.
Lain cries. A lot. Clancy and I debate whether or not there is colic involved. The threshold is something like three hours a day three or more days a week. Are you kidding me? Make it four hours five days a week, then maybe it’s close. That’s my position. Clancy’s position is that it seems like her bouts of crying last longer than they do.
Now, fortunately for me, I tend to be very patient with the crying baby (more on this at a later date, perhaps). It doesn’t bother me as much as it seems like it should. But I still don’t like the baby crying, especially if it’s indicative of there being something wrong.
Clancy got a hold of a book about napping and we wondered if maybe that was the reason she was so constantly cranky. The book said that little ones tend to have 90-minute awake cycles, so you try to put her down every ninety minutes for a nap. It seems to have actually helped. But it hasn’t been easy. She is becoming really, really reluctant to nap. Almost like it was before we started this.
The routine is that I take her upstairs and hold her and sing to her. She spends the first part crying. But I sing all the same. It’s certainly easier on the arm than singing while walking her around. And, around the 90-minute mark, she used to rather suddenly get very tired. And she was in a better mood when awake. I was getting some time to do some packing. So it was really working out.
For some reason, though, she is fighting the naps harder now than before. It’s now taking 30-45 minutes a go, sometimes. Which really, really disrupts my day. In some ways more than the crying baby, because the crying baby was kind of a constant.
Anyhow, my brain has increasingly geared towards the 90-minute wake cycle. Even when she’s asleep for the night, I stop after 90 minutes and think “Isn’t there something I need to be doing?”
We got the keys to the new house last Tuesday. A few observations:
It has a garage, but it’s of little utility for its intended purposes because it’s not very accessible by car. It’s connected to something that’s more like an alley than a street. I also doesn’t have an automatic door and cannot be unlocked from the outside. It actually makes me wonder why - when they were building it - they didn’t just incorporate it into the house. It would have added significantly to the square footage. I’m not sure what extra expense there would have been, but I’d imagine it wouldn’t take long to recoup in higher rent.
That said, it works out perfectly for us. Moving from a larger house to a smaller house means we have extra stuff that needs to be stored. So even if it were a room, we’d probably still be using it for storage. This way, at least, there is a huge door that makes it easier to move stuff in and out.
It’s the little things you notice when you buy a “new” house that was put together by non-developers. There’s no toilet paper roll. There is no mailbox, though they have agreed to put one on there.
I noticed the lack of a toilet paper roll, and remembered that I had not yet taken any toilet paper over there… at an inopportune time.
We’d hoped to hire the realtor’s unemployed brother to help us move stuff. It’s… pretty hard for me to pack with a baby attached to me. I mostly just wanted some help putting stuff into boxes and moving heavy furniture. They wanted $1,600, I was not willing to may much more than $1,000. So after having got used to the idea that I wouldn’t have to move everything, I started having to get used to the idea of moving everything.
We’re going to miss having a yard with a fence. Where we are moving to means that I am not going to be able to let my dog out on her own. Too many streets with too much traffic and too many rabbits that might tempt Lisby into traffic.
One of the first things I learned about the extreme cold is that stuff stops working in it. Camera batteries die. Old cars refuse to start up and our new car gets nine miles to the gallon. The power jack in my car doesn’t effectively charge the bluetooth earpiece I put in there. Cigarette lighters stop working. Pay-at-the-pump stops working. Cell phones randomly turn off. You just can’t count on anything in the Great Blue Outside.
Back when I lived in the South, it was a really big deal whether the temperature would go below freezing and stay there for the better part of three or more days. It happened every other year or so. When it did happen, it would kill off most of the fleas that tortured our poor pets. If it didn’t, it would mean more scratching for them and more work for us.
I used to think that below a certain temperature, cold was cold. Once you hit, I dunno, twenty degrees or so, then it was mostly a matter of humidity and wind. I mean, how cold can it really get?
Our jaunt in Arapaho has taught me different. At twenty, you don’t want to stay out very long because you will get uncomfortable. At zero, you don’t want to stay outside very long because it will be painful. At ten below, it’s painful almost from the get-go. You just don’t want to go out at all. The whole town goes relatively silent. Places remain open, but the community just kind of retreats into itself, for the most part.
It reminds me a little bit of Gulf Coast summers. Except that Gulf Coast summers don’t seem as bad.
When I first moved up north, I told myself that at least with cold weather, you can keep putting layers on. If you tried to find the appropriate level of clothing for southern summer, you’d be arrested for public indecency (or you’d be Robbie Williams in this music video). That may be true if I would bite the bullet and order long johns. Given my odd dimensions (I’m tall, but with normal legs and a long torso), that would be a task.
I am proud of myself for one thing. I have a bucket hat that was too large (which, given my substantial cranial endowment, is impressive). I have a headwarmer that I don’t like how it looks. But I can put the bucket hat over the headwarmer and it creates something workable. The next step is to be able to wear a mask without fogging up my glasses. For my toes, however, and for my hands, there is no cure. On the latter part, the cold actually coopts my gloves and rather than keeping the head in, it simply acts as a cold blanket around my hands.
I have come to understand what northern transplants meant when they would say, “At least down here, you don’t have to shovel snow!” How much work could that be, I asked. It turns out, a lot. I understand how people can die doing it. The snow had started falling before we got back from our trip down south, but fortunately someone took care of it for us. The first day back, and every day since, I’ve been out there shovelling the sidewalk and freezing my toes off. Legally, we don’t have to shovel it until the snow stops and since the snow has been non-stop, I am theoretically okay. However, I learned the hard way two winters ago that if you don’t take care of it after it falls, it starts packing in, freezing on itself, and becoming much tougher.
This winter we have it easy. We were told to vacate the garage the week after Lain was born. We figured if we weren’t going to have the garage, we’d just park out front. Which is really handy because we have a winding driverway that I no longer have to shovel. So, that’s a victory at least.
Of course, when we got home from our trip, our heater was broken. The house was freezing. But then it would work sporadically. Basically, it would work when the serviceman was here and then stop working ten minutes after he’d leave. This happened three times until we determined that it was a part that was burning out when it was kept on “too long.”
Back home, if you are a landlord, you can be held civilly or even criminally liable if you do not have air conditioning in a unit you are renting out for certain months of the year. Up here, of course, it’s heat. The house we will be moving into doesn’t have air conditioning. Nor did our house back in the Pacific Northwest. But all of them have heat, I can tell you that. As do we now, when the repair man fortunately found a replacement part double-quick.
One of the joys of returning home is the nostalgia. Oddly, a nostalgia for a time I didn’t vigorously enjoy the first time around. But I think that’s how it often works.
On the way home from the airport, we stopped by Happy Burger. Happy Burger is a large regional chain that I ate at so regularly and was so ubiquitous in my youth and young man days that I wasn’t even aware of its regionality. Dad and I used to eat breakfast at Happy Burger every other Saturday, rotating with McDonald’s. Now, my appreciation for HB goes beyond its nostalgic value - it’s some good stuff - but eating there with Dad, particularly on a Saturday morning, is one of the real treats of returning home.
The fridge is also staffed with Royal Crown cola. Mom used to work for RC once upon a time. Dad loves their product. It wasn’t around a whole lot in my younger years because most brand name soft drinks weren’t, but I always knew it was one of his favorites. So it’s nice to see it around, even if I find it indistinguishable from Coca-Cola. (It also reminds me when I was in Deseret. I put two quarters in a coke machine at the apartment complex I lived in and it spit out 31 RC Colas. I loved that machine, though felt sorry for its owner.
Sort of like how I thought Happy Burger was a national chain, I also used to think that Aim toothpaste was one of the majors (Crest, Colgate, Aim). I have since discovered that Aim’s biggest virtue is that it’s dirt cheap and that comes from not being one of the majors (no advertising). I’ve started to get Aim again for purely nostalgic reasons.
A while back I mentioned (I think?) that we are being evicted from our house roughly three months before we plan to leave. We made the mistake of letting them know ballpark how long we would be sticking around. They decided they wanted us out early so that they could get some remodelling done before re-renting the place. This put us in a pretty rough spot.
Fortunately, today we will be signing a lease that will solve a lot of our problems. The new place is going to be smaller, but it’ll also actually be new (they’re constructing it right now). The rent will be cheaper and the whole thing is going to cost us only a couple thousand dollars plus moving expenses that we wouldn’t have had to spend if we were able to stay in our current place until summer.
The couple thousand is because we have to sign a six-month lease even though we will only be staying for three or four months. That was expected. We’ll also be paying dual-rent as we move. With a baby around, and Clancy working again by the time we move, we don’t figure that moving will be easy. We could hire someone, but we don’t want to give notice until the new place is ready in case there are any unforeseen construction delays. Also, there are no moving companies in Dent County.
It’s really good to have that aspect of our lives out of the way. Except for all of the work, of course.
A little bit ago, Lain was in a rather fussy mood. Clancy would try to feed her, burp her, or whatever, and she just wasn’t having any of it. I volunteered to take her and walk her around the room. She was quiet within a minute and asleep within five. She’s asleep on my tummy as I am typing this.
The first three months after birth is sometimes referred to as The Fourth Trimester. I can understand why. She’s out of the womb, eating and sleeping and crying, but it still feels like she is germinating. She’s here, but she’s not here yet. Her ability to communicate is limited (she’s not smiling yet, though she can cry). She has limited motor control of her arms (and her legs, I assume, but the harness complicates that analysis). Even though I was prepared for it, the degree to which she is reliant on us is hard to fully appreciate. She lacks a sense of autonomy. Which isn’t all bad, because she doesn’t know how to object to being passed around!
Anyhow, so when I was walking around with her, she calmed down immediately. That is the closest to bilateral communication she and I actually have. The ceasing of crying is the closest she comes to expressed approval. And it feels fantastic. Now, she responds differently to being held in my lap as she is now, and being walked around. She prefers the latter. It’s only when the latter calms her down that I can get away with the former. This is ego-puffing, but it’s also a pain in the back. I get physically tired from it.
I’m not a very good singer, either in tune or body mechanics. On the former, my gift to the Lord on Sunday in church is not singing the hymnals. Lain doesn’t really care, though. When walking around alone doesn’t do the job, singing helps. I am trying to re-learn the lyrics to early They Might Be Giant songs since they tend to veer away from the (crooning) romantic. Yet it’s odd to be singing lyrics like “I built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working claaaaass” or a song about remorse surrounding a fatal traffic accident (TMBG’s tone seems upbeat, but their lyrics can be rather dark) but those are the songs I know. On the body mechanics, my system is relatively weak and I run of breath if I’m not careful.
I had hoped to use the opportunity of an infant to quit smoking. It hasn’t worked out so far, though it’s made a dent. The biggest problem I am facing is that the cravings are the strongest during stress and uncertainty. As it turns out, there is a correlation between having an infant and having stress and uncertainty. Right now I can get away with it a little because my wife is around to look after her during my breaks. That will only last until early January. After that, it’s waiting for her to sleep and then utilizing the baby monitor. I am hoping that I have a much, much better handle on things by that point. Lain is doing her part by extracting vengeance whenever she is left alone.
Back when we were in middle school, a bird pooped on my best friend Clint. We were outside playing Navy Football (sort of a cross between football and rugby) and, of all of the people in the yard for the bird to poop on, it chose Clint.
Now, theoretically, a bird from up high (or even close) cannot tell a popular kid from an unpopular kid. Yet they never poop on the popular kids. It’s somehow like they know. Various other things seem to coincide with existing K-12 status. The number of popular kids that got braces - or even glasses - were comparatively few. There were some you could tell were going to go bald eventually, but when it came to the kids that actually were going bald in high school, it was middling to low.
Clancy and I are not worried that little Lain isn’t going to be smart. All indications are that she will. It might be an absent-minded sort of braininess, but we have expectations that between genes and parenting, they will likely make it through college and the biggest threat is one of motivation and not intelligence.
I am, however, worried about the bird poop. Or, more specifically, the inability of the kid to catch a break socially. That if her extreme cuteness (not that we’re biased or anything) carries on, it’ll be a cute that somehow serves her poorly or is undermined by atrocious acne or glasses-braces-everything.
So far, Lain has been healthy where it matters most. The heart/circulation thing turned out not to be a thing. There have been various little tidbits, though. As I’ve mentioned, she right now is in a harness due to a potential hip issue. Her tear ducts aren’t working greatly, so she accumulates goop in her eyes that needs to be wiped out. The latest thing is thrush. This isn’t such a big deal in itself - like the curable hip and the self-resolving tear ducts - except that the treatment involves something called Gentian Violet, which turns her mouth purple. Really, really purple.
None of this matters in any objective sense. The purple mouth that ends up getting all over her face. It’s not the cutest thing in the world (it’s like smeared purple lipstick), but she remains adorable.
My fear is that this is like bird pooping from the sky. Itself not a big deal, but indicative of one thing after another that doesn’t happen to popular kids.
My wife’s fondest colleague is Dr. Kaye. Though they don’t work precisely in the same area of medicine, they both have similarly off-beat personalities. They look a little bit alike, too, in a basic or superficial sort of way. They’re both tall-ish (5′8-5′10″), both have dark hair, and both wear glasses.
A while back, my wife went into work on a Saturday to get some notes there. She was wearing Birkenstocks and a tie-dyed shirt. Dr. Kaye was also there, wearing… a tie-dyed shirt and Birkenstocks. Dr. Kaye’s daughter insisted that a picture be taken.
I tell that story to show this picture, of our little one wearing her first baby gift (From Dr. Kaye, of course):
Her fancy pseudonym is Helena Clancy Truman, but we’ll be calling her “Lain.”
As we pass the 36th week, the greatest thing thus far is how relatively smoothly the pregnancy has gone. There was some morning sickness early on and some fatigue, but Clancy’s health has remained solid. As of a couple weeks ago, and even the weight-gain has been kept to recommendations (this was a concern, given her schedule and the ability to eat healthily).
A little while back, Rose had a post on comparative disabilities and her struggle to find sympathy for those that have kids with minor disabilities given her own child’s considerably more severe disabilities. I was reminded about an episode of Nip/Tuck involving two of the protagonists, Sean and Julia, and the later-in-life pregnancy of the latter. At first they were relatively enthusiastic, and then they found out the little guy was going to have Ectrodactyly (”claw hands”) and completely melted down.
Now, the show at this point was reaching down into excessive melodrama (I’d recommend the first season to just about anyone, though, without hesitation), so I’m not sure what the writer’s intent was. The result, though, was to make me detest the characters. Immediately advocating for an abortion on the basis of hands? I can vaguely understand on the basis of “We’ll try again, and maybe the next one won’t have this problem” but not so much in a late-in-life and unintended pregnancy.
With my wife being of “advanced maternal age”, as well as other things I won’t get into, there were a list of concerns about potential problems. We got the probability-determination for the Trisomies at the earliest opportunity. The results were good enough that we decided not to get an amnio. There was one thing, though. The doctor and technician couldn’t quite agree, but one of them thought that they saw… a cleft palate.
Cleft palates can actually be a big deal for non-cosmetic reasons (I have to confess that I didn’t know that). However, in this case, if it was there it was small. If it was small, it can be be removed on the tiniest of infants. Further, there was a doctor in town that was so good he would fly a grandchild out from the northeast to have it done out here. This would have zero impact on Jumping Bean’s life.
Reaction to this among the few people that we told varied, though of course nobody responded in the Sean/Julia vein. I had sort of been waiting for a shoe to drop and as far as this one went, we’d approach it as we got to it. I’d be lying if I said that I was unphased. It was, in a sense, the first indication that Jumping Bean might be… less than perfect. It gave me at least a little bit of insight into the Sean/Julia reaction. If not the all-out-freak-out, then the big of disconcerting even a small thing can bring. Their issue was bigger than ours.
There was no cleft palate. That was the good news of the second visit. The third visit gave us warning of something else: Jumping Bean is breech. Now, babies start out that way most of the time or always and then flip at some point. In this case, though, 90% of babies have flipped and JB has not. There would still be a 67% chance JB wold flip late, but for a variety of reasons Clancy’s considered judgment is that it will not happen in this case without a version.
In the event of a breech, Clancy will go to c-section. Which, for a obstetrics doctor who favors letting nature run its course, is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. She would have been interested in midwifery or homebirth if we lived in a place that it was possible and circumstance permitted. This was really not on the agenda.
Clancy has commented before that pregnancy is your body’s way of letting you know that you are not in control anymore. Preparing you for the next phase, wherein your control over your own life is greatly diminished. She typically means this in the sense of sickness, exhaustion, body changes, and so on. I suppose, in a sense, it may apply to this to. And as with the cleft palate, in the greater scheme of things, this isn’t Ectrodactyly, much less something serious.
So in that sense, a solid thank you to Sean and Julia for teaching by way of their negative example.
I don’t drink very much these days. I’ve never been a hard core drinker outside of a relatively narrow social context. When I went to live music shows, I would drink a lot then. It seems… required. It started with liquor, but eventually I had to condition myself to drink and like beer so that I wouldn’t break the bank. I’d also get a beer with friends when we would “grab a beer” together.
Outside of that, I would only drink alcohol when I needed to take the edge off. Particularly aggravating drives would do it, for instance. So would emotional distress. Or both. I wouldn’t waste any time, though, going straight for the Bacardi 151. One or two days of substitute teaching required it. I bought a six pack, and three remain.
What’s kind of funny is that, despite this, I have an ever-accumulated stock of alcohol, above and beyond the three from the six pack. When everyone left Leaguefest, they left some whisk(e)y behind, so now it’s sitting in my cabinet. Ditto a few bottles of beer. We’ve gotten wine and alcohol as gifts that we’ve tried to regift without terribly much success. The inlaws came into town a couple weeks back, bought some beer, and left it here.
I keep thinking that it’s handy to have this stuff around, but we don’t get much in the way of guests and when they do, they bring their own beer.
So if any of y’all want to take a trip out to the magical mountain west, I got the alcohol covered.
It was a beautiful afternoon. That ended quickly. The sunny day became a sun we can’t see anymore. We’re nowhere near the flames, which are going up mostly on federal lands, but when you’re dealing with so many fires and three of which spanning a combined 550,000 acres (850 square miles) you don’t have to be. The wind that was annoying us earlier by rattling doors and shades was apparently enough to bring it here.
I had to take my contacts out because my eyes sting. Our noses are stuffed up. I took the dog for a walk and half an hour left me winded. Cigarettes are hardly necessary. I’m getting a headache.
Living out here, we’re immune from hurricanes. Tornadoes aren’t much of a concern. Earthquakes are a possibility but nothing of grand consequence. Even blizzards are rare. But everywhere is vulnerable for something.
I washed the cars just yesterday. I’d thought to myself “They’ve halted the work next door, apparently. It’s been a while since we’ve had a fire. The cars are all covered with… stuff.”
Murphy messed up. When you wash your car, it’s supposed to rain.
One of the things I have never been good at is budgeting. I am actually good with money, but not budgeting. There’s something about knowing that I only have $x a month to spend on something that makes me want to spend all of it rather than allowing any of it to roll over. This makes me sound impulsive and irresponsible, but it’s not that. Like I said, I’m generally good with money. Generally.
When I was a kid, I had an allowance. On top of that, I delivered the local neighborhood newsletter that Mom was the editor-and-chief of. First one route, then two, then three. On top of that, I convinced Mom to give me lunch money rather than a sack lunch. I didn’t eat lunch most days and just pocketed the money. The thing is, until I discovered comic books, I never had much to actually spend my money on. So I would save it. Once it was stolen from its usual hiding place, so I started hiding it behind the comic books hanging on my wall. Only, I’d forget where it was hidden. I considered this to be an altogether good thing. Having money that was out of sight and out of mind. Getting a treat when I pulled out one of the comic books on the wall and realizing that “hey, there’s $30 behind there.”
So maybe I was impulsive. Having the money made me more likely to spend it, so I hid it from myself. A little bit later in life, sometimes I would take paychecks and set them aside. Rather than feeling the need to put them in the bank right then, I’d collect two or three of them so that I could save myself trips to the bank. I felt that it was good for me to see my dwindling bank account. It prevented me from spending. It was my own version of a rainy day fund. Except that sometimes I would forget about the checks and they would be discovered only as I was cleaning out my desk. When you’ve just been laid off, do you know how awesome it is to find two or three paychecks?
Whether I was making $7.50 an hour or some multiple of that, rare was the case where I was actually running out of money. Some of this is indicative of the privilege with which I was raised. Some of this is indicative of the way I was raised. Buying flashy things was discouraged even if it was entirely with my own money. My father gave me dirty looks for two weeks after I purchased a CD player for my car with my own money. Half the time when I bought something, I would tell them that I was borrowing it or something.
All of this made the budgeting I can’t do somewhat unnecessary. I do keep track of my accounted funds (unaccounted funds being money I have stashed away so that I don’t realize I have it) very closely. But I approach it like a score. The more points I have, the better. This, along with my raising and the dreadful anxiety I get when I feel like I don’t have enough, keeps me from buying things I want. In some cases, things I want very much and can afford. Oddly, it helps to think of it as points on a slip of paper rather than money. If I thought it was money, I’d want to spend it and I would know that I could afford that thing.
Being married has resulted in a continuation of these strategies. My wife is not very much a fan. When she was in college, she had to count every nickel and every dime. Instead, I just look at the score. I give her bi-weekly reports of how much we saved or lost on any given paycheck. I do assemble reports on where our money is going, so if we find ourselves on the losing end of the bi-weekly calculations we have a better idea of where we can cut back.
How much I spend - or feel comfortable spending - depends on how much income I am seeing. It’s not a conscious process. It’s also very inexact. Now that Clancy is pulling in 75% or so more as we were when she was a resident, we’re not spending 75% more than we did back when. But we are spending more. When she goes to a part-time schedule, we will start spending less. How much less? It’s hard to say.
Where this strategy fails is when we have no income at all. That’s where my internal accountant starts getting very disoriented. No matter how good or bad I am, the score is going down. I get discouraged and lose my bearings. It is because of this that I have become increasingly non-judgmental of those who cannot balance their books. I may disapprove of this purchase or that, but I sort of do intuitively understand what it’s like to know that you are behind, you’re going to stay behind, and if you’re screwed you might as well get that new iPod. I don’t approve, but I understand. I can’t say that I would be all that much different - especially if I had not been raised the way that I was. But beyond that, if I hadn’t had the privilege of seeing that economic actions matter. Even when I was pulling down $7.50 an hour and I had rent to pay and there wasn’t much I could do except keep my head above water, I could remember a time when it was different. I still know that these things matter, that saving helps, and so on. I have seen the reward system at work.
Anyhow, our financial roadmap looks very rocky at the moment. Due to a tax quirk, the government is now taking 43% out of our paycheck rather than the usual 38%*. Clancy will be going on maternity leave, half of which will not be paid (the other coming out of her accumulated PTO). Then there will be a return to work, likely at 3/4 pay, followed by a couple months again of no income. Followed, most likely, by an even more reduced wage while she goes back for additional training. With, of course, a kid. We’re approaching no-win territory, where we are basically managing the bleeding for the next year or so.
And I don’t do budgets well.
* - Hopefully, we’ll be getting some of that money back. The uneven income should actually bolster our return even further. If there is one advantage to all of this, we pay less taxes!
Someone who went to my high school has gotten a bit of notoriety on the Internet yet. It’s probably not big enough that you’ve heard of him - I’m not sure I would have if it weren’t making the rounds with alums. The dude basically ran a somewhat coordinated scam or a practical joke (probably the former) of sorts and got caught. He basically gamed social media and celebrity gossip into the illusion of celebrity. He’s not commenting, so I’m not sure if it was all to get laid (”Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal. Google me, baby.”) or to actually become the actor he wants to be. (If you know who I am talking about, congratulations on knowing where I am from, please don’t spill.)
One of the downsides to going to a school of 4,000 is that as far as I know, I don’t know him. This happens whenever someone from my school makes it big. Sometimes I will randomly run into someone who went to my school and we will have existed in such different orbits that they might as well have gone to school half a country away. The picture actually does look a big familiar, but in a pretty generic sort of way. So I’m pretty sure our paths never crossed.
One guy I went to school with, but didn’t meet until significantly later, went on to become a conservative activist for prison reform (the idea being that the fiscally prudent thing to do is not to house and feed people in prison we don’t have to). I knew some jocks, but not the one who had the NFL career who graduated with my class. My brothers knew his brother, who also played in the NFL.
There is also Congressman Murali, whose campaign is the only one I have donated to up to now. I didn’t support him because he went to my school (well before I did), though his being a product in the community played a bit of a role because a lot of people smoke very highly of him. Mostly, though, I wanted to see his opponent go down.
Last week, they picked up the house next door and moved it a block over. The next step is to run a street through it. While they’re at it, they tore up the street behind us to repave it. Also, eighteen months or so they started a construction project on the school across the way and they still haven’t finished it. The result? Dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. Everywhere. Since we have to keep our windows open for circulation, we have dirt in the sink. There’s dirt all over the computer room. Dirt, dirt, dirt.
To add to this, Arapaho has been plagued with fires lately. Nothing around where we live, but it’s enough that our fire department has been mobilized for the last month or so, driving all over the state to lend a hand. It’s also enough that there are all sorts of fire bans, including an outdoor smoking ban. I tried to honor it, until I saw cops ignoring it. When smoking is banned indoors, people smoke outdoors.
Today was a smoky day. I have no idea where the fire is, but there were firefighters all around the supply store where I went to watch the sky go from blue-silver, to silver, to gray, to orange. The firepeeps were also ignoring the smoking ban.
The sky has shifted to a very light orange, which is having a rather surreal affect on our view. The construction crews are gone for the night, which is nice not only for the dirt but also the noise. At least, unlike when they were gutting the basement last week, it hasn’t caused the house to shake (our dog’s reaction to the shaking house to the right).
Anyhow! For your listening enjoyment, Steve Earle’s “Ashes to Ashes.” A great song, if you’ve never heard it. Not remarkably country, if you are averse to country.
Many years ago, I was a party to my first pregnancy scare with then-girlfriend Julianne. It was a life-altering event. It came up negative, but there was a certain “realness” to it all that gave me great pause when it came to my views on, among other things, the status of a fetus. I could write a post on the whole experience, but regardless of my views on the legality of abortion, my views of the stakes were forever change. In part due to a baby that I hoped did not exist, and didn’t.
It’s been different, this time around, since the pregnancy test came up positive back in February. The notion that we would have aborted was, and is, anathema. I view the thing that resides in my wife’s stomach as real… as many things. Maybe human, maybe not. Yet, for whatever reason, there is an abstractness towards it that I would never have guessed would have existed. It’s real, as I think of it, yet not real, as I feel it.
The pregnancy is real, but the baby is not. At first there was the fact that I had to mentally construct it. There was no such ambiguity for my wife. The fact that coffee suddenly tasted disgusting to her was proof enough. There was also the morning sickness. The need for even more sleep than usual. Her body was going through the changes, meanwhile I was hearing about the changes and nothing more. Eventually came the ultrasound, then a while later the heartbeat. This gave me more of a construct to work with. I have seen him JB move and wiggle like a kung-fu artist. I have seen JB cover its face with his arms. And I’ve heard the heart beating.
There is still a layer of abstraction, though, that I did not expect this far along. Even as her stomach starts to swell just a little. One more layer on the reality of the situation is that Clancy is now describing actions. When Clancy rolls over, little Jumping Bean squirms. She’s feeling movement, though nothing that I can feel yet. The notion of JB squirming had an effect. Suddenly it’s not just doing things in moving pictures, it’s doing things that my wife can immediately feel. And so another layer of abstraction is peeled.
I actually wonder to what extent it is that I am or have been afraid of feeling it. Back with Julianne, I had a more black-and-white sense of things and it either was or it wasn’t and I lived a Schrodinger’s Life, in two parallel realities where she was pregnant and she was not pregnant. But both were black and white. Right now? Well, Clancy is pregnant. There’s no question about that. Barring something unforeseen, I will be a father in five months.
With Julianne, it was real or it wasn’t. If it was real, she would have killed it or she wouldn’t have. If she hadn’t, it would have survived to term or it wouldn’t have. Either I would have a life-changing baby in my arms or I would have avoided the baby I didn’t want. It was win-win, in a way. Had it been real and lost, I would have mourned the loss, but in a very different way than now. Now I want the baby. Now, it’s not an either-way situation. I want it. I want it. I want it.
And from the start, I’ve been scared of losing it. Rather than this engaging me more, it has lead to just a little psychological distance. The added abstraction. The parallel world where it is and it isn’t. Without indifference to being a father, the abstraction is the only defense I have. The only way that losing it wouldn’t crush me.
What I haven’t been able to get myself to realize is that it would, regardless. The parallel world where this is not happening doesn’t change that. However much it persists.
As our marriage has progressed, I have taken on an increasing share of the bill-paying duties and money-monitoring. There were some thing that she set up back in the day. So for instance, we had $50 a month going to the University of Delosa at Delianapolis to pay for medical school student loans. When I get something from UDD, I put it in her box. She rarely has time to actually read any of it. I finally got permission to start opening the envelopes to see if there is anything pertinent. Good thing I did!
Dear Dr. Himmelreich,
Enclosed is a check for $600. Your account with us was paid in full in June of 2011. Please refrain from remitting any more payments and cancel any automatic payments you have set up directed to our accounts.
University of Delosa at Delianapolis CHMS Loan Office
So apparently, we’ve been having an automatic savings plan that just got cashed in!
Sometimes being a tad disorganized can actually be a treat.
(We are, unfortunately, a long ways off from paying off our standard student loan.)
I think Goodman actually happened on a couple that’s a great illustration of another, more real phenomenon, which is the impact marriage has on women’s voting patterns. We know that married women are far more conservative voters than unmarried women, and we also know that single men are more conservative generally than single women. One part of this, therefore, might be that in the battle over whose values are going to “win” in a relationship, men tend to dominate and that women are adopting their husbands’ political views alongside taking their husbands’ names. The woman Goodman profiles openly admits that her husband’s views have persuaded her over to the dark side. Since women her age aren’t liberals who married libertarians, I question using her as an example of anything typical to young voters today, much less young female voters who we can still say confidently will turn out in greater numbers at the polls than young men their age.
I was actually thinking about the bolded part the other day. It’s commonly known that married women - and mothers in marriages - tend to be more conservative than single women. It’s hard, however, to tease out why. Some of it would be self-selection, conservative women being more likely to marry and all. There is also the conservatism that more generally occurs with marriage and family, the change of worldview and all that. There are people like my sister-in-law who start attending church when they have kids and religiosity coincides with conservatism.
But I think that there is also what Marcotte herself is observing. It’s something I have noticed in my peers. More have shifted to the left, but those who have shifted to the right are Julianne (who is single) and women who have married more conservative men. My ex-roommate’s wife went from apolitical to his liberalish political preferences almost immediately. I can only think of one case, really, where there as a husband interest piqued or whose politics shifted due to that of his wife.
The real way to test it, though, is to look at what happens when a liberal man marries a conservative woman. Who typically “wins” when there is a winner? If it’s the man, then you’ve really made your case since that accounts for most variables.
In the Himmelreich-Truman household, it’s been… interesting. We were both right of center when we met (indeed, we met through a mutual friend who is a Republican activist), though not necessarily for the same reasons. I am a bit wonky and she is more of an intuitive voter. Over time, we’ve both moved at least somewhat to the left, though there again moving for somewhat different reasons (excluding the gay marriage factor, which we both adamantly support and which is becoming much more of a forefront issue). It may not be a coincidence that we are both looking at the real possibility of not voting for the GOP nominee for the first time in over a decade (well, ever for her - I voted for Clinton).
A month or so ago, Clancy was able to finagle a trip back home so that she could attend her cousin’s wedding. Her uncle fell all over himself telling her how happy he was that she made it. She is his goddaughter. His relationship to his cousin (Clancy’s father, her uncle isn’t technically her uncle) was close enough that she was the only godparenting role he accepted.
All of this drove home something important: We have no idea who we would ask to be Jumping Bean’s godparents. We have no idea who we’d ask to take over if something happened to us.
It’s a sign of the changing times that we have this issue. I have two brothers, she has two sisters. Of these four, only one has children and none of the others plan to. We’re in the social range where choosing not to be a parent is, if not embraced, not uncommon. We are the designated parents for our blood and lineage, more-or-less.
This has affected the larger families beyond our immediate orbit, too. Her cousin Ally has said that her children and our children will have to be raised like first cousins, because there aren’t going to be many first cousins around (the cousin’s sister doesn’t plan to have kids). Minds on this score may change, but Ally and Clancy are embracing parenthood while it’s either a vague possibility or no-go for most of the others.
It’s worth noting that, in a pinch, any of our siblings would take our children in if something happened to us and they needed to (Clancy’s sister Ellie has really stepped up as a step-mother). It’s something we would rather not ask, though, of non-parents. There are also cousins who would do the same.
What we lack, though, is any sort of obvious choice. Ellie (Clancy’s middle sister) would be the favorite (which would have been unimaginable until the step-kid situation arose). However, in addition to the problematic step-kid situation she has, she also has the tendency to live in Third World Countries. We’re not sure about our kids being raised in the third world, and wouldn’t ask her to reroute her life on our (and our children’s) account. Her younger sister Zoey would be a fantastic mother, but isn’t ready to settle down. My older brother Oliver is a father of two, but… for a variety of reasons, it’s not a great fit.
My cousins are all problematic for one reason or another. She has a male cousin and two female ones. The male cousin, a major in the state police, jumps out at me as someone that would be great, but Clancy isn’t quite so sure. A female cousin who would be perfect is someone that, for a variety of reasons, we’ve just never been very close to (she was not on the list of people it occurred to us to personally inform Clancy was pregnant). The other female cousin, Ally, makes a lot of sense except for one thing: I don’t think she cares for me much, and I can’t say that’s entirely one-sided. She’s always been a sort of icily polite and has given me the impression that I am something of an unsophisticated rube more tolerated than anything else. I get along great with her husband, but never well with her. It seems petty to disregard what might be a good situation on the basis of personal impressions, but… I just find the thought discomforting.
There is one couple outside of the family that Clancy and I would consider so up-to-the-task that we would have no problem going outside the family. Interestingly, when we did discuss this as a way hypothetical a year or so ago, both of us thought of him independently as one of the only non-family-members we would entrust with our kids. Of course, he and his wife have decided not to have children. Would they step up? Probably so. We would for their kids even if we had the maximum number we want. It’s a lot to ask, though.