Unsolicited Advice

Now that I’ve been a father for almost three months, I’m pretty sure I’m qualified to offer parenting advice. What follows are just a few notes I’ve jotted down since realizing that there’s more to life than the internet and my car. You are welcome in advance.

  • The one piece of advice I heard more than anything leading up to our daughter’s birth was “sleep now while you can.” Sure, whatever, it can’t be that bad, right? Well, yes and no. It is tough at first (though I’m told that it gets better eventually), but before I realized it, I had adapted to needing less sleep. I do feel a little bit tired pretty much all the time, but I hardly notice anymore. Sleeping more than four hours at one time feels like hibernation.
  • There’s no downtime. There’s always something that needs to be done, and it’s usually the kid’s laundry. At a certain point my body goes into autopilot and takes over.
  • There’s no reason for Diaper Genie bags to be transparent. None.
  • Breast pumps have more parts than my car.
  • A remote control just out of reach may as well be miles away if you’re holding a sleeping baby.
  • I’ve never been so relieved or happy to hear someone else fart.
  • You want to show her off, but also don’t want anyone to touch her.
  • Temperature modulation is nearly impossible when holding a baby. I run a few degrees warmer than my wife most of the time, so we were already constantly changing the thermostat from our phones. Nowadays, when holding the equivalent of a small furnace in my arms, I’m usually roasting while my wife is comfortable, or I’m comfortable while she’s freezing. There does not appear to be any middle ground.
  • That thing that worked to soothe and calm the baby yesterday? Yeah, that won’t work today or ever again.
  • When you do manage to successfully calm a screaming baby, your prize is to continue holding that baby and not move a muscle for as long as possible.

Despite all of the above, it’s been a ton of fun from the moment she arrived and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.┬áThe first month is a vicious cycle: Eat. Poop. Sleep. Cry. Repeat. It feels like you’re taking turns caring for a fussy potato. Then one day she flashes the biggest smile right at you, and it’s all worth it.

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My dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but I think that’s how some fathers and sons are supposed to interact. While my dad and my sister often got along famously, he and I butted heads frequently. Looking back now, I realize it might have been because he saw me about to make a mistake that he made growing up and already knew how it would turn out. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t, but I usually fared better when I did. For example, he knew long before I did that the girl that would one day crack my windshield was no good for me.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I inherited from my dad. I have the same big head, the same fascination with technology, his corny sense of humor (much to my wife’s chagrin), and an abbreviated version of his nickname. Like him, I’m more comfortable in a button-down than a t-shirt, and though I try not to overdo it, I have the same appreciation for cologne.

Chuck & Sean

We also shared an appreciation of anything with a motor, though he preferred his John Deere tractor while I was growing into faster and sportier cars (though I should point out that I currently drive a station wagon). One of our favorite places to go was a local hobby shop where I’d pick out a model car to put together. Once home, I always wanted to start building it right away and had no patience for painting, so we would split the duties. He would paint the main pieces of the model while I would start putting together the engine and interior.

A few years later, I got my first job at that same hobby shop and I loved it when he’d come to visit while I was working. I’d often try to show off while he was there by demonstrating how much I knew. At every job I’ve held since, I always tried to impress him with my knowledge and responsibilities.

Chuck & Sean

I think the most fun I had with my dad was when we went searching for my first car in the summer of 1994. We pored over every used car lot in central Iowa every chance we got for a month. He wanted to put me in something safe and practical that wouldn’t go over 55mph, while I wanted something fast and red and flashy and attractive to the opposite sex, etc. We settled on a white 1985 Mazda that was just enough of a compromise for both of us.

Once the paperwork was signed and I was about to drive it off the lot, my dad and I had an odd but touching moment: We had spent the last few weeks bonding in our search for the perfect first car, driving everything from pickups to stately sedans and having fun together the whole time. Just like that, it was over, and I was no longer the front seat passenger in my dad’s car. He handed me the keys, told me to be careful and not to stay out too late, and we went our separate ways. I remember being excited about having a car and gaining some independence, but I also knew that things would be different from that moment on.

Chuck & Sean

My favorite piece of advice he gave me, though it’s not the most insightful thing he ever said, was “put the tools back where you found them.” This was not only to keep things organized, he said, but so that things would be where the next person could expect to find them. This created an ethic in me to think ahead and be considerate of others in a proactive way. It also taught me that if you keep things organized, you can focus on the bigger problem and not get bogged down with the trivial details.

There are lots of stories of my dad helping people that he barely knew, and that’s just who he was. He wasn’t interested in being recognized for helping someone, except maybe a call or letter to let him know how things turned out. He truly enjoyed people and loved to make strangers smile. I didn’t say it often enough, but I love you, Pop. Rest in peace.

Chuck.

Socially Regarded

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It’s 3:34am on Black Friday. I’m not up for any reason other than I’m winding down from the day. I suppose I could stay up a little bit longer and go wait in line for Target to open at 4am, but there’s nothing in this world that I need that badly.

Nobody reads this site anymore because I pretty much abandoned it 19 months ago. Cool. I was pretty active on Twitter for a while, but that feels stale now. Now when I check Twitter, I end up unfollowing 4 or 5 people when I can’t remember when why I started following them in the first place.

I’ve been more active on Tumblr as of late, but mostly just to reblog links, pictures, and videos, though very little original content, if any.

I’m trying to use Facebook more, because it seems that’s where people are, but I still feel like my generation (and those before me) are out of place on it. By the time I graduated college, Facebook was still requiring a .edu email address, which I didn’t have access to anymore, so I didn’t bother.

As far as social networks are concerned, I’ve really gotten into the Instagram app for iPhone, but it seems that the site and all uploaded content lives primarily in the app itself. There’s no way to revisit your old photos in a web browser unless you know each photo’s specific URL. So, here are a couple of my favorites among my own photos:

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And one taken of me by my lovely wife:

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I’ve been waiting months to post this.

Hey, who’s behind the dark glass in that GTI on Google Maps Streetview?


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One day while on my lunch break, I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at work when I noticed a familiar-looking Chevy Cobalt drive by.


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Realizing I likely wouldn’t have another chance, I sped off after it, finally catching up with it at the stoplight, in the first photo above. I alternated between leading and following the Cobalt for about 5 minutes, before I broke off the chase. The other good shot of me is at the intersection below:


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And if you go backwards from the shot above, you’ll see me accelerate to catch up with the Streetview car, after making a U-turn when it ditched me at a stoplight. In the next shot “forward” or eastbound, I disappear, only to reappear back in my company’s parking lot.


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This happened on September 17th and I’ve been obsessively checking back every couple weeks, waiting for Google to update their maps. Today, my dream became a reality.

My stupid place for dumb things.