Monthly Archives: January 2014

THREE FALLS

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You receive a small package; a tender baby.  It is placed neatly in your arms for the first time and you cradle it, snuggle it, kiss it.  You ever-so-gently place it in its crib and you fawn over it.  You rub your hand down the side of its cheek.  You beep its little nose.  You tickle its feet.  You drop it on the floor on accident and you can’t believe what you’ve just done!  Are the windows closed?  Did anyone FREAKING SEE THAT?!  Okay, no…. I think we’re okay…. no one needs to know… and if they ask about the wounds we can lie about the details later.  QUICK!  Make up a story!

He fell down!  No, idiot!  That’s what you’re trying to get away from!  The dog stepped on her!  No!  Almost worse!  You left the kid where your dog runs?  Screw it!  The baby gets put in long sleeves until the scabs fall off.

Birth may make you a parent, but dropping a child is the true initiation for both you understanding that you’re not a perfect parent and for the child being truly welcomed into this world made of sharp objects and hard surfaces.  SO, without any further adieu, here are three stories, in escalating order, about my children being dropped.

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QUINN

I sleep very strangely.  I don’t mean the physical way my body lies, I just mean the way my brain behaves.  I’m the guy that will awake in the middle of the night and begin a conversation with my wife about guns and security cameras.  My sentence structure will be all broken and fileted,  but I’ll be really passionate about my points.

ME: “You know our security cameras?”     JADE: “HUH?”     ME: “Our security cameras… on the walls…”     “JADE, “WHAT?”     ME: “Our freaking security camerason the wallswith the guns on them!”     JADE: “Are you sleeping?”     ME: “SHUT UP!”

Another instance:     I wake up and put my fist straight up in the air, towards the ceiling.  I open my hand and point my palm back down at Jade.  Basically it looks like I’m trying to perform voodoo on her.  She wakes up and sees me doing this and says, “John?”  ME: “What?”     JADE: “Why are you doing that with your hand?”     ME: “SHUT UP!”

In any event, I’ll awake in the middle of the night to change a diaper and my mind will be somewhere else completely.  I’m saying, it’s over in Willy Wonka Land or Narnia or Iran.  It is just off the beaten path and I am standing up and walking around and functioning (to some degree) but my exact sobriety is and should be definitely called into question.

So, Quinn is around six months old and she wakes up in the middle of the night and, as parents do, I wake up and I lift her out of the crib and I place her on the “changing table” – which basically just amounts to a waist high dresser with a changing pad on it – and I smile at her and poke her nose and tickle her feet and do all those things that gentle parents do and then I turn to grab a diaper and just, just, just out of the corner of my eye I see her role over and then everything slips into the slowest of motions.

First, I suddenly remember that she has begun rolling over as of late.  Check.  Second, I realize that she’s fallen off the table and is tumbling through the air, plummeting towards the hard wooden floors.  My arm lashes out instinctively and (thank God) my fingers just snake into the fabric of her pajamas and I catch her about 12 inches from the floor, my eyes still pointing the wrong direction.  It is a scene directly out of an action movie wherein the hero catches a high impact bomb at the last possible second.

She didn’t hit the floor so I don’t know if that counts in regards to my theory but trust me when I say that it was enough to fully wake me up and send my heart rocketing into my throat.

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RORY

This second instance happened several months after the above scenario; I remember because we were back in South Dakota for a hot summer and my family was out for a walk while I wore Rory in one of these front facing “Child Backpacks”.  You’ve seen them, no doubt.  Anyway, I know it was later in time because Rory was tall enough to keep kicking me in the dick with the heel of his shoes with every step I took.  Mark my words, the person who invents the fashionable male cod-piece accessory for those is going to be a very rich person.

As we walked and talked, the sun beat down on us making me slip on my uber-hip, over-sized aviator sunglasses that, I guess did sort of obscure my vision, on top of the fact that I had a GIANT TODDLER HEAD BLOCKING MY VIEW….. so, obviously, I didn’t see the enormous rock that had been set in my path.

Let me just pause for a minute to say that falling down is the worst.  First of all, it’s embarrassing.  Even simply slipping in public is bad.  You’ll be walking and your toe will catch on a sidewalk lip or you’ll step off the curb funny or you’ll dip down into a pot hole in the cross walk on the corner of third and Santa Monica while you’re trying to act cool and then you’re just lying in the street and you wish you could just die please kill me.

But… falling with a 30lb cinder block attached to your chest is even more frightening.  First of all, I couldn’t see anything so I was just spiraling into a fluff of albino hair oblivion.  Second of all, you know the kid is fragile and, since he’s strapped to my chest, he’s bound to take the brunt of the fall.  I mean, I am going to crush this kid between myself and those really jagged pink rocks that they put on streets (I was walking in the street – I’m from a small town so it’s okay).

Again, slow motion.  Let me break it down…

First, my foot steps onto a large rock and twists to the side so I come down on my ankle.  I say the F-word.  Let’s just get that out of the way now.  Yes, it sounded just like the kid from A Christmas Story.  I try to shove my other foot out in front of me but the angle of my body makes it impossible and instead I just look like a flailing lamb caught in a fence.

I realized I was about to crush Rory so, again, those weird parenting instincts that you have just take over and I wrapped my arms around him in a protective cocoon and twisted my entire body to the side, coming down and landing hard on my elbow (again, on those horribly sharp pink rocks).

Again, I said the F-word.

Rory was fine.  My elbow, not so much.

Now, according to my theory, this too is not a story about a child hitting the ground but it’s getting significantly closer.  Listen, getting hurt is just a game of numbers… and the more kids you have and the more time you spend with them, the more likely it is to happen… which is a perfect segue to our final story…

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BRYCE

Having three kids of varying age spans is a very interesting dynamic because you can’t – you simply can’t – play with all three of them at once.  Rory and Quinn want to wrestle and jump in the leaves and ride their bikes and play in the fort and be chased and sword fight and build towers and destroy towers and Bryce wants to be held, burped and fed.

Now, it’s true that I can hold Bryce and feed Bryce and burp Bryce while I do some of the above things but I can’t truly engage with the older children while handling a baby.  It’s just a factual matter of splitting your resources.  So, what this typically looks like is, “Let’s take care of the baby’s needs (food, comfort, sleep) and then when the baby is sleeping, let’s give full reign to the older ones and everyone wins.”

Makes sense.  System works.  Great.  Wonderful.

A week ago Jade leaves the house to do some thrift store whoring and takes Quinn with her – we like to split the Twinkies up whenever possible just to give them that a taste of solitude – which leaves me on Rory and Bryce duty.  Easy.  First, the bottle; take it out of the fridge, put it in the bottle heater, get it way too hot, burn my fingers, get pissed off at the archaic steam technology, cool the bottle down, dump breast milk on my wrist and all over my forearm, feed baby, burp baby, get breast milk burp-up all over my forearm, bounce baby into dairy induced coma, lie baby on the center of our bed, walk away.

This is routine.  This is everyday, several times a day.  This works.  I have no reason to question this method.  It’s tried and tested.  I pat her butt until she’s asleep – pat pat pat – and then I sneak out of the room, go outside and play with Rory in the backyard.  We run, we chase, we sword fight, we slide, we laugh, we play, he shows me a lady bug and tells me that it’s naughty to pee in the grass.  I concur with him.

In the driveway, around the side of the house, I hear the familiar hum of our mini-van’s engine, followed by the beep-beep of the door being locked; Jade is home.  I sit down in a lawn chair and wait for her to make her way outside and, when she finally does, she’s carrying Bryce.

Strange.

Stranger yet is the first question she asks me.

“Why did you put Bryce to sleep on the floor?”

I’ll cut to the chase because you, like me, are probably already going, “WHAT?!”  Yeah.  King sized bed.  Two and a half feet off the ground.  Wooden floor.  Baby doesn’t crawl.  DOESN’T CRAWL.  Baby was sleeping in the center of the bed ten minutes ago and somehow managed to push herself to the edge of the bed and…

Jade says, “I came in the front door and heard Bryce sort of… I don’t know… it wasn’t really whining so much as it was… whimpering.”  I’m a monster.  “I went into the bedroom and called your name but didn’t see you but could still hear Bryce,” Monster, Monster, Monster.  “I walked over to the side of the bed – the far side – and she was just lying on the ground.  Why’d you put her to sleep on the ground?”  MORBID VILE MONSTER!

“I, uh,” I stammer before standing up and slowly taking the baby from my wife’s arms, examining her.  Jade says, “Why are you looking at her…. oh, no…” and I say, “She was in the middle of the bed!” and Jade says, “I win!  I didn’t drop her first!  Victory to me!” and then she begins playing a fake trumpet and throwing dried leaves into the air.

Bryce is fine.

Her initiation is complete.

She is officially human.

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GLIMPSE: Rory & Quinn

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I sit in restaurants, at booths, looking at the patrons around me and I can’t help but wonder what conversations are happening at their tables. I walk through the mall and I see the people passing me and I wonder what they’re buying and why. Maybe it’s a gift for a boyfriend… and then I wonder how their relationship is going. I sit on the freeway, stuck in rush hour traffic and I watch individuals all around me driving from Santa Monica to Hollywood to Van Nuys. I watch cars merge onto the freeway, swerve and exit. I watch car accidents and I watch people text and drive, wondering who they’re speaking with.  I walk to the grocery store and I look through open windows that I pass on the sidewalk; a woman making dinner, a couple watching Law and Order re-runs, a man playing guitar…

The mundane fascinates me.  The minutia.  The moment-by-moment of everyday life.  I watch and I wonder what they’re doing and where they’re going and I wish, often times, that I could sit next to them; listen, watch, observe… follow them and… confession time; on several occasions I actually have. Twice I’ve followed a car for well over 15 miles just to see where they ended up. It was completely out of my way but I had nowhere to be so I just turned on some music and… this is actually sounding significantly creepier than it did when I chose to do it.  When it was happening, I assure you it was all very organic and natural and… innocent?  Is that the right word?  Probably not.

If I were ever granted the power of invisibility I wouldn’t go into the girl’s locker room or rob a bank… I’d just follow people around at the grocery store or sit in the passenger seat of their car and I’d listen to their conversations and I’d smile and, well, be creepy and invisible.

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Some fifteen years ago The Real World on MTV tried giving us a glimpse into what this was like. They tried to be the fly on the wall and they tried to let the average joe see what it was like to be an average joe.  The only problem was this… reality TV is not reality TV. It’s not reality. It’s not real. It’s moments that have been fabricated first by a producer and then manufactured by an editor using music, sound effects and specific sound bites from interviews taken out of context.

As an editor that has spent a little time in reality television, I can tell you with complete honesty that my favorite part of the job has never been viewing the final “designed” product but rather in sitting in my edit bay and watching the raw footage play out. I have spent literally hours watching strangers sit around a dinner table and chat or families getting prepared for their day by brushing their teeth and talking and just spending intimate moments together. All of these interesting and unique human moments are forever chopped up, cut into garbage and destroyed. You’ll never see them but… it’s all I want to watch. It’s all I want to see. I want to see TRUE REALITY TV. I want to sit as a fly on the wall and watch an evening in someone’s life. I want to walk in their shoes, see through their eyes, exist as they do for a few hours.

Keeping up with the Johnson’s? I want to keep up with the Kirkman’s, the Brady’s, the Morgan’s and the Chu’s. I want to know what four hours in the life of a man with triplets is like or a Seattle DJ or an internet spokesman. What does their work look like? Their commute? Their home life?

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I want to see this… so I’ve created, what I would consider as a pilot episode to this experimental project. It’s currently (appropriately) called “GLIMPSE” because it is, by definition, just a little peek, and the first episode is about my two oldest children. I’ve chosen to follow them from the moment they awake from their naps around 4:30pm until they go to sleep around 8:30pm.  The footage is completely unedited and plays out in real time save for a few spots where my camera’s memory card fills up and I had to switch it out.

I’d love for people to be able to turn on an episode of GLIMPSE and just play it in the background. Watch one minute or five minutes or 1 hour or 4 hours. Watch the beginning, skip the middle and watch the end. Watch only the middle. Skip around. It makes no difference. Just… catch a glimpse. See a moment. Experience life through the eyes of someone else.

This is episode 1. GLIMPSE: Rory & Quinn.

Enjoy.

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