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The Great Awake

heather and door light

(Why am I naming days?)

8/30/14, Day, 13,997 (Mercena Day 16): The Great Awake

Oh sure, Mercena had been awake before.

But she had never really been AWAKE…until yesterday.

Much like the cognitive jump from Day Four to Day Five, Day Sixteen saw a huge leap forward in her capacity to engage with the world. She’s staying awake longer, and controlling her focus with much clearer intentionality. It’s almost as if she went to sleep a newborn, and woke up as a baby.

That’s the upside. With a baby, there’s usually a downside, too; and right now, we’re figuring out how to adapt to this baby when she’s on one of her Great Awakes. How can we help her enjoy that time and still catch the moment where she becomes overstimulated and needs to downshift to a nap? She also hasn’t learned yet to easily transition from wide awake to asleep other than through the soporific effects of a big feed.

So, we’re learning together, and we should begin to figure it out right at the moment when she next goes to sleep one baby and wakes up as another.

We had a great visit from Heather’s sister Cathy and our brother-in-law John yesterday, and they graciously cleaned up and cooked us a delicious dinner. We managed to get in a game of cribbage together, and as they cooked, I took an hour to work on KD and The Band. I managed to write nine pages in that short time, and was surprised by a shocking choice KD made that I hadn’t planned.

It really is just about the most enjoyable thing to do: to write, to be surprised by the actions of the characters, to see the shape of a thing cohere into a whole, to feel  that incoherent shape and grope towards it in the sweet dark.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 131 out of 166 days (KD and The Band)
Spanish: 123 out of 166 days
Music: 34 out of 71 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;
  • Signed a petition calling on world leaders to attend the UN Climate Summit and seek climate change solutions;
  • Asked Natural Fruit to drop their lawsuit against anti-slavery activist Any Hall;
  • Asked member of Congress to end the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment on capitol hill.

cribbage baby

(Why am I naming days?)

8/29/14, Day, 13,996 (Mercena Day 15): Two Weeks with Mercena

Two weeks…

There is so much to say about these first two weeks but, as ever, not much time in which to say it. One thing I learned yesterday that feels applicable to the whole of our time together: I must hold The Inscrutable Wail and The Secret Levels of Love together in my hand, because they are inseparable parts of this criatura we adore. And when I do, it makes the Wails much easier to bear, and helps ground the unsteadying swells of Love.

While she has settled into a new routine of a meltdown in the night and again in the morning, they are manageable, and the rest of the time she is such a lovely and amicable baby. We played cribbage with her as the sun set last night, and all was well with the world for our two (duck) week old girl…

two weeks

In other news, yesterday was very productive, with KD and The Band coming along very quickly considering the scant time I have to write. I think this one might be a sizzler, so I’m going to need to find some time somewhere to keep the itch of this one scratchy.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 130 out of 165 days (KD and The Band)
Spanish: 122 out of 165 days
Music: 33 out of 70 days

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

flyingbaby

(Why am I naming days?)

8/28/14, Day, 13,995 (Mercena Day 14): Woop! Hello is Fun to Play

Don’t be deceived. “Woop! Hello,” is not actually all that fun to play, at least not for half an hour straight.

But, when “Woop! Hello” is the only thing that soothes your daughter, play it for half an hour you will, until your arms burn from lifting her up high for the “Woop!” before dropping her back down for the smiling “Hello.”

Becoming a parent sets up a Tin Pan Alley in your soul, fueled by equal parts desperation and love. So, in order to give my arms a rest, the immortal tune “Woop! Hello is Fun to Play” was written and sung as the half hour became an hour.

Yesterday, Mercena took a step back towards That Inscrutable Wail from the more amicable baby of the prior two days. Armed with “Woop! Hello” and “The AC Shuffle” (which involves a swaying football hold and an optional pacifying pinkie while rocking near the delicious low white noise of the AC on fan), I can usually calm her from a wail into sleep, taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

Yesterday also marked my second journey into the city to fix Heather’s phone and pick up our latest round of veggies. On the train, I was able to write the first 9 pages of KD and The Band, which may be the easier play I work on while plotting through the intricacies of the larger (longer) space play.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 129 out of 164 days
Spanish: 121 out of 164 days
Music: 32 out of 69 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;
  • Posted the good news about the change in the NFL’s policy about violence against women;
  • Asked the White House to take stronger action against illegal fishing.

 

HeatherOBrien

(Why am I naming days?)

8/27/14, Day, 13,994 (Mercena Day 13): Unlocking the Secret Levels of Love

It may be one of the inescapable truths of my Mario and Zelda-struck generation that we can never quite shake the faith that existence really does have secret levels, other worlds to be unlocked through the right combination of luck, persistence and skilled key strokes (or just cheat codes).

Or so it seemed yesterday when Mercena, lying on my chest for one of her naps, nestled her head into a particular sweet spot over my heart that unlocked a secret level of love. I heard that Zelda secret door music, and something sprung open within me; a flood of warmth welled up and poured out, and it went on that way for what felt like hours.

Now, I know it’s just the oxytocin talking, but it really does feel that things have shifted since then.  It used to be when Mercena would get fussy or have a total meltdown, she wasn’t quite sure if the the capricious giants who carried her about were friends or foes. Now, it feels as though she understands we’re there to help, and she works with us rather than against us to soothe the rough edges.

Maybe it’s the ocarina she discovered after unlocking this secret level of love; or maybe it’s just a good couple of days and nights. Either way, we’ll take it.

In other news from yesterday, we had a fun visit from Heather O’Brien, and went for a walk to the bank and grocery store with a contented, Ergo-ed Mercena along for the ride.

I was also able to sneak in a fair amount of Flux work, though at the cost of getting any writing done. However, a poem in my Poetry magazine may have inspired a simpler new play I can work on while I continue the task of plotting this massive new space play I’m working on. This newer idea may also be my response to The Violent Bear It Away.

Little by little, I’m finding the wreckage of my old life on this new shore, and reassembling the parts that still matter; though of course, nothing is exactly as it was…everything has suffered a sea change, and become something rich and strange…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 128 out of 163 days
Spanish: 120 out of 163 days
Music: 32 out of 68 days

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

momsun(Why am I naming days?)

8/26/14, Day, 13,993 (Mercena Day 12): Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra

I grew up calling my father’s mother Baba Dodie. The legend goes that this odd nickname comes from my cousin Chris’ attempt to say “grandma” as a young child. We all adored our Baba Dodie, and it is through her that we are linked to the Newton Genealogy that gave us Mercena’s name.

She was born August 26th, 1915, and to honor her birth yesterday, I sang the Irish lullaby popularized by Bing Crosby, Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra.  Of course, growing up I didn’t know the song was made famous by Bing; I only knew it as the song our Dad sang us (our Mom had a different lullaby as the lead in her repertoire).

I don’t remember whether or not Baba Dodie sang that song to him as a child, or whether or not I just made that up because of the lyrics (which, I’m pleased to learn, have a unique Schulenburg variant).

So, to remember Baba Dodie on her 99th birthday, I made sure to sing that song to Mercena on her 12th day, and whether her great-grandmother’s spirit was there or not, she had a much more peaceful day and night yesterday.

We also had a great visit from Amanda Feldman and her beautiful five-month old baby Maggie.

Perhaps most importantly, we’ve developed a technique that has soothed her from a serious crying jag the last three times we’ve attempted it! So, for the moment, no more inscrutable wails…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 128 out of 162 days (Untitled Space Play)
Spanish: 119 out of 162 days
Music: 31 out of 67 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 Dept of the Interior to reverse their decision on seismic blasting for Atlantic drilling;
  • While I’m not opposed to GMOs on principle (I like science, after all), I do believe in GMO-transparency and so I’ve signed a petition for honesty in GMO labeling;
  • Asked Dr. Margaret Chan to speak out against so-called “gay cures” in China.

dia(Why am I naming days?)

8/25/14, Day, 13,992 (Mercena Day 11): That Inscrutable Wail

I love the word inscrutable.

It is a central word to two plays of mine, Other Bodies and Encryption.  

It may be this love of the word inscrutable is a manifestation of the pretension I am sometimes teased about by certain friends. However, if pretension is the price for loving this word inscrutable, I’m happy to ante up.

The Internet tells me it comes from Middle English, from the Late Latin inscrutabilis, from Latin in- +scrutari, “to search,” and was first used in the 15th century.

(As you might guess from the title, this is all going somewhere Mercena-related, and you can probably guess where.)

I love that its root is in the word for “to search.” Unlike its synonym unknowable, it offers the promise that it could be known, like a magician who might reveal her trick if caught off guard with drinks at the bar.

It is the word mysterious given consciousness, the word enigmatic given legs, the word inexplicable given hunger. It might be ineffable but you can’t F-ing help yourself, you have to say it, you have to search, to chase the glowing wisp of a word through whatever dark forest it takes you. Inscrutable.

Now, Mercena’s wailing last night from 1 to 2am without much of a break is probably not truly inscrutable. Even when we tried everything multiple times in multiple places in multiple ways to soothe her and failed; still, after a tighter swaddle and rocking her next to the white noise of the AC, we did manage to help her fall asleep. Whether or not she had a reason, whether or not that last trick had anything to do with her stopping, we don’t know, but that’s not quite inscrutable, is it?

Maybe not. But when you’re as tired as we are today, things take on a certain ragged grandeur…

It was otherwise a good day. We had a lovely visit from our doula, Dia (pictured above), and we continue to recommend her (learn more here).

We had another walk, this time with Mercena in the Ergo with me, and other than checking her once per minute (maybe more) to make sure her sweet little airways were unblocked, it was a fun excursion.

And we had a warm visit from Stephanie Willing and Matthew Trumbull, with dinner by Stephanie and drinks out on the terrace, with a blissfully sleeping Mercena lap-hopping between our guests.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 127 out of 161 days (Untitled Space Play)
Spanish: 118 out of 161 days
Music: 30 out of 66 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 Tanzania’s president to vote in favor of whale protections at the upcoming International Whaling Commission meeting;
  • In support of Women’s Equality Day, I signed a petition to raise the minimum wage and ensure paid medical and family leave;
  • Asked the judicial mediators working on Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement to move forward the Water Affordability Plan;
  • Signed my support for carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

 

 

sunflower girl

(Why am I naming days?)

8/24/14, Day, 13,991 (Mercena Day 10): Mercena’s First Walk; or, #StrollerFail

Well, it’s not technically her first walk outside–that was to the pediatrician–but it was her first walk just for walking’s sake.  Look how well it’s going! Well…it didn’t exactly start that way. We give you the shocking footage from #StrollerFail 2014 (not for the faint of heart):

stroller fail

Graphic, I know.

We gave up on the stroller, or as Mercena likes to call it, The Roly-Poly Torture Device of Hate and Screaming, and went with good ol’ reliable Ergo carrier, which got us through the unnervingly-pretty stretch of Forest Hills where it feels as though you’ve fallen through a wormhole into the Platonic Essence of Suburbia.

It was a great day, with lots of awake engagement time in the morning, long stretches of naps where Mom and Dad got stuff done (including writing), and the most restful night of sleep yet.

It was also the wedding day of Cotton and Jason, which we very much wished we could have attended. We are sending them so much love and light, and I know they’ll have a beautiful future together.

Finally, it was the closing performance of Faust, and there was a moving text chain that this baby-locked playwright greatly appreciated where the cast and creative team said goodbye to our strange creation. Thank you so much to everyone who made it out to the Brick. I have some good news about some upcoming productions of plays outside of NYC, but nothing ready to share yet…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 126 out of 160 days
Spanish: 117 out of 160 days
Music: 29 out of 65 days

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

 

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