(Why am I naming days?)
10/18/14, Day 14,046 (Mercena Day 64): Got to Make the Bubbles Go Down

This day is so name to honor one of my favorite Mercena rituals. When she eats, she takes in some air that can be trapped as bubbles in her digestive system and cause her the dreaded gastro-intestinal distress. To prevent that, our ritual involves suspending her vertically upright with one hand under her chin and one under her butt while bouncing her gently and singing, to the tune of “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”:

“The bubbles go down, the bubbles go down,
Got to make the bubbles do down,
The bubbles go down, the bubbles go down,
So [early/late] in the [morning/afternoon/evening]“

This jaunty tune has been seared into my consciousness through repetition and the hilarious looks on Mercena’s face as, milk-drunk, she endures the undignified bouncing. I laugh each and every time. Lately, she’s taken to raising her hands in such a way that makes it look like she’s dancing, which is even more adorable.

Something about the chill in the air and the leaves changing makes me want to set all these little details down now before…

Yesterday was another step forward. We took the bus to the chiropractor instead of a cab, and my back seemed to handle the walk fine. Then, both my back and our daughter slept quietly as Heather and I pretended like we were normal people and snuck in a brunch.

I also worked a half day remotely at TCG, trying to catch up on a bunch of small things so that I don’t lose sight of the big things we’re trying to move forward. I did some Flux work as well (we’re close to a more public launch of FluxForward), and was able to again write, play guitar and do my weird 9 Circles yoga-thingie.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 165 out of 214 days (New Year)
Spanish: 136 out of 214 days
Music: 65 out of 120 days
Yoga: 4 out of 4 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Asked the EPA to modernize chemical safety laws;
  • Signed my support for the Pacific Climate Warriors;
  • Asked the Obama administration to condemn the war crimes of the Nigerian military and state-sponsored militia.

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

Let me not be impatient with my recovery,
Let me send love to my Fluxers preparing for the Feud,
And a lion of courage to two friends mourning loss,
And praise to NYC fighters for housing rights;
Holler for the playwrights’ collectives getting it done,
And solidarity with the Pacific Climate Warriors;
Wonder for new primate-specific transcriptional circuitry regulating pluripotency (#amIright?)
And for dark matter from our bright sun;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

bath and shots

(Why am I naming days?)
10/17/14, Day 14,045 (Mercena Day 63): Shots and a little relief

A big medical day for daughter and father yesterday. Mercena had the first round of her 2-month vaccinations, and I felt the first glimmer of real recovery for my back injury.

Heather reports that her 2-month appointment went well! Mercena breast-fed through the shots, and thus far (knock on all the wood) has not caught sick from the vaccinations. She’s been maybe a touch more sleepy, but not much more than a touch. Everything else seems to be going well, according to Doc Gocs (which is almost as perfect a name as Dia the Doula), and she had a pretty great day yesterday, including as smooth an entry into bedtime as we’ve had yet (adorable bath picture is actually from two days ago, but it was too cute not to share). Her irritated skin from the baby shampoo of that bath has also gone away, and it thankfully didn’t seem to bother her much.

On the back front (tee hee), I woke up feeling only slightly better, but I tried to stay as mobile as possible while working from home (a lot of shambling about on my phone meetings). Then, at around 5:30pm, I took a quick nap on our terrace and got back up feeling, for the first time since the injury, discomfort instead of pain. It was most comfortable discomfort I’ve ever felt, and this morning the progress seems to have held.

I also managed to write again, and resume my Spanish and guitar practice. My fingers are all sorts of crossed that I’m back on the road to normal, and that if this yoga practice holds, I’ll actually be the better for the injury.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 164 out of 213 days (New Year)
Spanish: 135 out of 213 days
Music: 64 out of 119 days
Yoga: 3 out of 3 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

A prayer keep me recovering without self-pity,
And love to my Aunt from her phew-g,
And a lion of courage to two friends mourning loss,
And action to keep poison from our city.
Praise to Emily Mendelsohn’s theatre work in East Africa,
And justice for Brishna in Afghanistan,
Wonder for the brute elegance of Odobenus rosmarus,
And for dark matter from our bright sun;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

(Why am I naming days?)
10/16/14, Day 14,044 (Mercena Day 62): Phone Meetings and Little Gains

I really wanted to go to work yesterday.

I had told myself that it was possible (it was never really possible). I needed it to be possible, both for my own sense of progress and because I had four meetings (not counting a CSA veggie pick-up and Lark event). But my healing progress is so slow, so on went the speaker phone.

Thankfully, Mercena had a great day, and Lori rode to our rescue, accompanying Heather for the veggie pick-up. And I was able to participate somewhat effectively calling in from the phone.

In spite of all that, I did make some small gains by staying as mobile as the pain would allow. And late last night, I even finished five more pages of my New Year play (a slippery time play written for the actors of the Ensemble).

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 163 out of 212 days (New Year)
Spanish: 134 out of 212 days
Music: 63 out of 118 days
Yoga: 2 out of 2 days

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

9 Circles:
(Um, yeah, so what is this again?)

A prayer for my back to heal
And for Mercena’s shots to avoid ordeal
Praise to Lori for carrying veggies and prizes,
And a prayer for breakfast for every kid in class;
Praise to makers of Chance Magazine
Solidarity with #FergusonOctober
Praise for the tigers of Terai Arc,
And for cosmic rays caught in a smartphone app;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

two months

(Why am I naming days?)

10/15/14, Day 14,043 (Mercena Day 61): Two Months with Mercena

What’s amazing to me is how natural it all seems now.

In the early days, everything was so strange; not just the new life wailing in our home, but all the trappings that go with it–the diaper hose I installed into the toilet, the warmer for the wipes, the retro-robotic wheeze of the breast pump machine. All those tired days and bleary nights searching books and the Google to find answers to her Inscrutable Wails. And those sudden, jagged swells of overwhelming love…

Well, those haven’t changed much. She herself is still a wonder. Mercena West. But every day, she seems more and more like a person, a human that of course lives with us because she always has, a miracle, but an everyday one.

And she herself is doing well, not sleeping through the night yet, but sleeping for five-hour stretches more regularly now. She still gets fussy at the witching hour, but last night, she had the biggest smile while we were singing her lullaby. She’s figuring us out, too. She has bad days, like we all do, but she becomes more curious every day. Her activity mat, which she used to treat like a hot plate, is now her favorite place, as she swats at the Cow Mirror, the Motley Knight and her greatest foe that hangs above her, the Red Monkey.

And she talks! Boy, does she talk, seemingly a new sound introduced every day. Her Talking Spots are the Activity Mat and–would you believe this?–the Altar of Sacrifice. Yes, that’s right, the spot where she used to reflexively howl and fuss has become her favorite spot to babble and coo. How the whirligig of time brings in her favors, too…

Oh, and yesterday? Heather gave her a bath, and she didn’t fuss at all.

I wasn’t able to assist much with that bath because my back is still a snarl of argh. There’s always a base discomfort, but whenever I try to adjust a position the really startling agony jets up. However, I do seem to be getting better every day–only 10% to my mind, but the chiropractor assures me that’s pretty good for what I have (we take a cab to and fro, because I don’t really know how far I can walk). Sandra came to our rescue yesterday, and helped Heather with some shopping and laundry that more or less hit the reset button on our jostled lives. And I was feeling well enough to do some dishes and putter about…

I also worked another full day at TCG, and while I wish I could go in today, that seems like a mistake. I was also able to move a bunch of Flux stuff forward in the evening, and yes, I even found time to write late at night. There is a benefit, I guess, to not really being comfortable enough to sleep…

…and it’s become clear to me that in my little technique tally below, I need to add yoga. I’ve inherited a predisposition for back pain that will require I change my life and take better care of my slippery spine. However, I’ve had a heck of a time ever committing to a regular schedule of yoga.

So, I’m going to try something new. I’ve never had much luck with clearing my mind or simple mantras; the rainforest of thoughts buzzes too much for that. But I’ve had more luck with what I suppose is a kind of prayer-in-motion, if you can call an atheist’s guided thought a prayer. And, as I’ve found that sharing things here is a remarkably effective motivator, I’m going to share my daily prayer-in-motion here, although my motion today will certainly be quite minimal (if I can make it to the floor, the chiro has advised three very gentle stretches).

I’m also hoping that this daily-ish practice will help me think about my larger actions and how to make change possible. I believe that any change I want to see in the world must first be made within myself, and then ripple out through the other circles of my life.

For now, I’m playing with the following nine circles:

First circle: Me
Second circle: My first family (the family I was born into, Heather’s family and the family we’re making together)
Third circle: My second family (Flux and those friends I consider family)
Fourth circle: My local community (New York City)
Fifth circle: My community of searchers, creators and healers (artists, scientists, activists)
Sixth circle: My human community (humans, living or otherwise)
Seventh circle: The community of life (animals, plants, this precious blue rock circling round the sun)
Eighth circle: The universe (you know, like, what’s been happening since the big bang)
Ninth circle: The mystery (imagine this as a kind of poetic potpourri section)

For the moment, I’m working with either prayer (sending healing thoughts where they’re needed) 0r praise (sending gratitude for something that’s awesome).

While I’ll be sharing these here (if I really am able to commit to doing this on a regular basis), I will occasionally be poetically redacting things by riddling them past easy comprehension when someone’s privacy needs to be protected. I hope it to be equal parts sincere and silly, part to-do list and part poem.

So, here’s the first prayer-in-motion:

A prayer for my back to heal
And praise to Sandra for her help
Sling joe to sweet cherry anne for her pain
And remember those with no shelter from this rain;
Praise to the makers of Swarna-Sub 1
Solidarity with #FergusonOctober
For the great Spinosaurus, praise
And search-on for BICEP2’s gravitational waves;
And hey there, beautiful mystery.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 162 out of 211 days
Spanish: 134 out of 211 days
Music: 63 out of 117 days
Yoga: 1 out of 1 day

What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Asked Microsoft’s CEO to release their pay data to ensure equity and diversity in their hiring practices;
  • Sent another petition to the EPA ion support of coal ash regulation;
  • Asked NPR to remove pro-fracking ads from their broadcasts;
  • Signed a petition to the Obama administration to end militarized, racially-biased policing against Black and brown communities.

(Why am I naming days?)

10/13/14, Day 14,041 (Mercena Day 59): Back Monster, Day Two; or, Soft Launch of Flux Forward

Not to much to report from these past days. The back injury is not getting much better, even after a visit to the chiropractor. I’m heading back for a second visit today (a laborious and costly process of careful slow walking and green cabs), so hopefully we’ll make more progress.

This second day of back pain wasn’t unproductive; Chinaza and I were able to get all of Flux’s ducks in a row to soft launch FluxForward with our Friends of Flux (more on that soon). A production meeting and visit from Emily gave me some faces to say hello to before retreating to my pain cave. Truly, the hardest part of this is not being able to help with Mercena, who had some serious witching hour action once we fell of the schedule in the afternoon.

Heather has been amazing throughout all of this,  which is no surprise but I am filled with even more gratitude for my amazing partner in life.

10/14/14, Day 14,042 (Mercena Day 60): Back Monster, Day Three; or Chiropracting

It was a comical, slow-motion journey, but I did make it to the chiropractor yesterday with Heather by my side, and Mercena in the care of an angel friend. As I wrote above, hopefully the second visit to the chiro today will make more of an impact. But in spite of the pain, I was able to be productive remotely, getting a bunch of TCG work done during the day, and more Flux work at night. I haven’t been able to write since the injury, but I’m hoping to change that today.

Daily pain is a part of so many people’s lives, and for however long, it’s now a part of mine. All right. What’s next?

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 161 out of 210 days
Spanish: 134 out of 210 days
Music: 63 out of 116 days

What small things did I do the past two days to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Signed my solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong;
  • Signed a petition to make it more difficult for those who commit violence against women to purchase firearms;
  • Signed a different petition in support of Komen breaking ties with Baker Hughes, this time to the fracking company itself.

Into the Weeds


(Why am I naming days?)

I’m writing these posts in bed after being incapacitated by the worst back injury of my life yesterday, so please be patient as my pain-addled mind moves through the last few days.

10/9/14, Day 14,037 (Mercena Day 55): Into the Weeds

This was the day I began to feel truly in the weeds with the combined workload of TCG, Flux, NET, my own creative work and Mercena. I don’t remember much else about this day–it’s one reason why I try (though lately fail) to update this daily, because memory makes such quick hash of days once they’re done–but I do remember a breakthrough meeting for TCG’s Fall Forum and the launch of a new trustee initiative, and our now nightly routine of putting Mercena to bed: we change her into her sleeping outfit, read her Goodnight Moon, sing her Turalura and then lay her gently into her bassinet, wishing her sweet dreams. She’s begun to recognize the routine, but depending on how tired she is, she’ll either great it with delight (rare) or fussy resistance (common, but is usually doesn’t last long).

Most promising of all: she’s really begin sleeping five-ish hours a night consistently. Sleeping through the night, here we come (he says with great caution and humility).

10/10/14, Day 14,038 (Mercena Day 56): Mercena EightWeeks; or, What Thursday and Friday Mean to Me Now

Every Thursday since Mercena was born, I think: this is the day we went into labor; every Friday I think, this is the day she was born. We are such pattern hungry creatures and I am more pattern hungry than most. But, it does mirror how my weeks at TCG often feel: by Thursday, the amount of labor seems insurmountable, but by the end of Friday, something new has been moved forward.

So it was with this last Friday, where I put my head down and managed to knock out a bunch of significant projects on my TCG desk. I’d been hoping over this long weekend to polish off the rest, but losing a whole day to my back injury yesterday has me worried I’ll be back into the weeds come Tuesday…

10/11/14, Day 14,039 (Mercena Day 57): FluxForward Close To Boil

Chinaza and I have been working on a anew initiative for Flux that I’m really excited about, and this past Saturday, I spent four+ hours moving it significantly forward. I also sent some love to Allan and Sarah on their anniversary, and went for a beautiful walk with Mercena and Heather. Forest Hills is really beautiful, and we discovered a few areas on our last walk that felt almost European. And as for our daughter, she is becoming more and more a unique human with a personality that is utterly her own. I really do love her more and more every day…

10/12/14, Day 14,040 (Mercena Day 58): Back Brings Me To My Knees

As I was lifting Mercena out of her bouncy seat to ready her of her Ergo walk, pain like I’ve never felt shot through my lower back, and I was barely able to get her on to the changing table before collapsing to my knees. I took me a long time to stand up, so thankfully she was a in a good mood and chirping away on the table as struggled to my feet. Heather was away at a production meeting, and so I needed to swaddle her and put her to sleep somehow before collapsing entirely.

I managed to do it, but not much else. I’ve had back pain before, but nothing like this. Yesterday, I could not find a position that wasn’t significantly painful, even after some pain medication, and I barely slept at all last night. Heather took good care of me, and I distracted myself as best I could.

I’m feeling a little better today–good enough to write this post, at least. I’m trying not to freak out about how much of a setback this injury could be on all things I need to move forward. One painful step at a time.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 161 out of 208 days (New untitled time play)
Spanish: 134 out of 208 days
Music: 63 out of 114 days

What small things did I do the past four days to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)


(Why am I naming days?)

10/5/14, Day 14,033 (Mercena Day 51): Mercena’s First Flux Sunday

We’d been considering bringing Mercena to this Flux Sunday because it was at The Sand Box, where we’ll be rehearsing most of Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest, and as chief baby wrangler, I’ll be picking her up there every day after work while Heather rehearses. A practice run couldn’t hurt for her or us, and when a last minute conflict called me into action to run the Flux Sunday, away we went.

Of course, the real reason we wanted to bring her was to introduce her to some of our Flux Sunday friends, and for better or worse, this thing we do called theatre.

Her love of the subway was quite promising, as she fell asleep to the rhythm of the rails both ways. Her love of theatre is a work in progress, as Heather managed to direct a scene but not watch any of the others. All the stimulation seemed to mess with her sleep last night, leaving her a little crankier than usual, but really, that’s kind of how theatre works, right?

10/6/14, Day 14,034 (Mercena Day 52): Mercena’s First Trip to Manhattan

Feeling inspired by the success of her first subway trip the day before, and needing to fill in for a sick Fluxer to host the Flux Family Feud Committee meeting, Heather took Mercena on her first trip into Manhattan. I spent most of the meeting playing with and soothing a fussy, over-stimulated baby who, happily, slept well on the subway back.

It was also great to introduce her to my TCG friends. I’m currently fighting to stay out of the weeds at work, but the honeymoon period is definitely over and I’m back in the thick of it. By the time we got home, I was more tired than our baby.

10/7/14, Day 14,035 (Mercena Day 53): Flux and the Wonders of Technology

After another intense day of work at TCG, I had my third day of busy Fluxation, with a general Flux meeting at night. While we’ve successfully held a few meetings where most of us are virtual (thanks, Google Hangout), no one in actual attendance had a working computer on hand (#planning), so we had to get creative.

After resolving our tech issues, we had a great meeting, getting on the same page about our Basecamp trial (a great project management system) and talking more about the Feud and Flux’s developing immigration project with Judson. It was also my Mom’s birthday (happy birthday, Mom)!

10/8/14, Day 14,036 (Mercena Day 54): Day of Smiles

Another Mercena breakthrough day: in my madrugada shift, she gave me four huge smiles. Now, she’s smiled before, for sure, but these were different; while she’s seemed engaged and very curious for many weeks, she hasn’t seemed happy  for prolonged periods (which, given her intense parents, may not be her default setting). Yesterday, she was smiling up a storm, including in several videos Heather shared with me, and in the beautiful picture featured above.

I finally didn’t have a post-work obligation, so I was able to get home in time for a bedtime ritual with a sleepy baby, and to make a real dinner for Heather, as well as make further Flux progress on several projects and even practice guitar. And I started work on a new play…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 159 out of 204 days (Taina and Marvin and KD and The Band rewrites)
Spanish: 134 out of 204 days
Music: 62 out of 110 days

What small things did I do the past four days to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)

  • Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
  • Asked President Obama to support the EPA Clean Power Plan;
  • Asked the EPA to close the loopholes in the Clean Water Act.

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