Friday, August 31, 2007

This One Time? At Band Camp?

Sorry for the long stretch between posts. You parents out there already knew what I've learned in the past few weeks: any schedule you try to keep is immediately thrown out the window by Her Highness the New Spawn. Sheesh. Our friend Marie, also a new mom, told us that "It took me two days to empty my dishwasher!" I laughed at the time. Not laughing so much anymore.

True, there have been other things consuming our time as well. They both fall in the glorious Band Camp column, and really, what could be juicier? Well, as it turns out neither of these tales are particularly juicy, but what the hell...they bear telling anyway.

Miss Tessmacher got a call in early August to come to Blue Lake and work with the flute folks attending adult band camp. Egads, even TYPING that I'm filled with a sort of pity: "adult band camp." I guess it comes from being a professional musician, but the thought of deliberately attending a camp as an adult makes me feel all squidgy in my bottom. But, the women who were there were geniune and earnest, so who am I to cast stones? At first Tess wasn't sure at all that she could accept the gig, but after lamenting that her entire career is going down the toilet since she's turning away gigs left & right, I offered up the following: take the gig, Roslyn & I will accompany you & the two of us can hang out while you do your thing. We worked out the details, the most important of which was that Tess would never be "on" for more than an hour & a half at a time, and so off to West Michigan we went. Earlier this summer I wrote a post about my BLFAC experiences, and so I was looking forward to visiting this place of such importance after a 23-year absence. Being the well-documented nostalgic guy that I am, I expected to walk onto the campus and feel quite overwhelmed with past memories. Y'know what? Not so much. I guess the passage of time had really taken its toll, because even while I was looking around at these immediately familiar surroundings, I felt instead a profound indifference. Weird. I met the first great love of my life at this camp, and instead of replaying sappy scenes of teenage love in my head, I just sort of walked around with Roz & read my book. In the evenings we went back to our hotel in nearby Whitehall and watched bad TV. Tess got some professional confidence back, she made a little dough, and I learned that as long as I have an adequate supply of 1) milk, 2) diapers, and 3) patience, I can handle my new daughter all by myself. That was VERY reassuring, inasmuch as I'll be spending some long hours with her while Tess is off doing other gigs, notably the Traverse Symphony. Ah, Blue Lake...I remember thee fondly, but thine hold on my affections has waned like the setting sun.

The OTHER camp started the week after we returned from BLFAC, and this time it was mine. I've been working with my friend Mike Kaufman at his marching band camp for (dare I type it?) 15 years. Shit. That is a LONG. ASS. TIME. Mike is the band director at Grand Ledge, and he typically hired MSU marchers for his staff. The year I started work on my Master's, MSU switched from trimesters to semesters, and Mike suddenly found that his staff was embroiled in their OWN camp during the same week. He cold-called my band director, the always-affable Ken Bloomquist, and solicited advice about percussion instructors. I don't know why Ken coughed up my name, but he made history for me that summer of 1993. I went mostly because I needed the dough...what I didn't realize is that that high school camp would become one of the longest-lasting and most important aspects of my life. See, that first year...well, I met my wife. Now, before you get the wrong idea and assume that the camp staff was always involved in free-swapping sexual escapades, I should point out that Tess wasn't staff that first summer. In point of fact...she was an incoming junior. At Grand Ledge. (Pause for the sharp intake of breath from the audience...) Okay, before you make the assumption that I'm some lascivious, ogling, dirty old man...uh...oh. Wait. I AM a lascivious, ogling, dirty old man! But, never mind. At the time, Tess only saw me as the mullet-haird, Kiss-t-shirted "old" percussion instructor. (I should point out that, despite her prodigious flute skillz, Tess was actually in MY section because she eschewed the girly flutes for the keyboard-heavy pit.) And, of course, I didn't see anything beddable about Tess, either: she was the Chuck Taylor-wearing, non-leg-shaving lesbian who had a quirky sense of humor. Hmmm. How times change. By the time I ran into Tess a few years later, as a now MUCH more eligible (and beddable!) college sophomore, those early years of contact served me well. Heh.

Anyway...yeah. Band camp. I'm 99.9% sure that this past summer was my last year at this camp, and I'm good with that as well. There's a bit more nostalgia for Kimball Camp (the southern-Michigan locale Mike always hauled us off to for the Grand Ledge camp) than there is for Blue Lake, but I think that's only because the one is much more recent in my experience. And, frankly, Blue Lake represents my first love...the experimentation of those teenage years, the awkwardness of feelings that are so new you barely know what to do with them. Kimball Camp represents the first meeting of my lifelong love...everything that's good and true and right in my life. My spouse, my partner, my friend, my lovah...and, our fabulous new babe. Thank you, Mike Kaufman, for unwittingly giving me my life. I owe ya big time.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Parasite Lady

Oof. My friends all told me they'd laugh their asses off when I finally created a Spawn. Damn them...they can surely laugh at THIS post!

Because, early parenthood? Kinda sucky. Please, PLEASE don't misunderstand: Rozzle is the most perfectest baby EVAH, with an angelic face and sweet "practice" smiles. (Some say that's just gas. Fuck them: she smiles. SMILES, dammit!) But, yeah...these first few weeks have been filled with wonder and frustration in nearly equal amounts. Well...sometimes the frustration wins. Especially in the middle of the night, which seems to be about the one time of day that Roz does NOT like to sleep. I now understand that being a new parent is pretty much a game played by this warm little parasite, who wins the game by making her highly-educated parents feel like absolute dumb-shits.

Feeding: breast-feeding is going really well between Miss Tessmacher and the Rozlynator. Roz started latching on like a pro almost from the very beginning. Sometimes she likes to cluster-feed, which makes Tess feel a little like a glorified milk factory - especially since she's trying to build up a pumped supply for when she goes back to work in a couple of weeks. But sometimes Roz just seems to be very gassy and uncomfortable after eating...say, the night after Tess has had a really good Moosewood garlic-potato soup for dinner. Whoops. Can I get you a side of broccoli and baked beans to go with that? Now, of course, we're trying to find a diet that's bland enough for Roz to stomach, but also contains enough nutrition for BOTH her and Tess that neither of them die of scurvy. Or, whatever.

Sleeping: Roslyn sleeps pretty well...between about 9:00am and 9:00pm. Then, she likes to cluster-feed and scream all night. Y'know how nightmares or random house noises seem so much more threatening at 3:00am? Well, baby-frustration is pretty much the same thing. Behaviour that I can pretty much shrug off in the afternoon becomes wrist-slashingly terrible in the middle of the night. Admittedly, Tess & I are making a perfect new-parent mistake, trying to stay awake during the day to visit with friends & family and "get stuff done." I know we should be sleeping when Roz sleeps...but, we're also trying to turn her INTO a night-sleeper, so we're keeping the house dark & quiet at night, and light & busy during the day. Doesn't matter...Roz sleeps right through it. Thus, we're usually walking around during the day with those annoying grainy, pained eyes.

Fussing: this is really where Tess & I can throw our hands up in the air and whimper "I can't DO this!" Books tell us that we'll be able to discern the difference between Roz's cries: "I'm hungry!" versus "I'm shitty!" That's bullshit: she screams the same no matter what. Either that, or we really ARE the worst parents ever. So, she'll eat during the day, and then sleep in whatever old position: flat on her back, usually, with her arms up over her head. Like Dad. But then, at night we'll do the SAME DAMN THING, and she fusses, and cries, and screams, and generally behaves like a lilttle monster. Is she too TIRED to sleep? Is she reacting to Tess' stress levels? How does Tess NOT feel stressed out when this is going on? Is it gas? Sheesh...the damn CAT is easier to figure out than this!

Strangely, though, things that I used to dread - like, changing poopy diapers or figuring out how to get her little hands through her onesie sleeves - are totally fine. She likes to play, even at this young stage, and gives pretty clear signs that she's in her "active alert" stage. Then, we like to play the "Let's Stick Our Tongues out At Each Other" game. Good fun!

In all, parenting is pretty much like I figured it would be: tired a lot of the time, trading off who has the babe so that the other can get something done, and learning something new every day. I really hadn't counted on the high frustration levels...but, I guess that's my own naïvete showing through. Alas. So, while I try to decide whether I've had too much coffee to successfully nap right now, y'all can look at this eye candy of the Greatest Baby Ever. Enjoy.

THIS is comfortable?!?

"To fuss, or not to fuss...that is the question!"

Proud - but tired! - Poppa with his 3-week old.