5 weeks

(Why am I naming days?)
9/19/14, Day 14,017 (Mercena Day 35): Mercena Five Weeks

Well, we’re trying not to get our hopes up, but yesterday really did feel like a turning point. The gains of two days ago and the step back the yesterday solidified into a pattern that really seems to be working. Now that we understand she needs help falling asleep, both her sleep and waking time have improved greatly.

And so the baby that seemed to be fussing whenever she was awake has become, however temporarily, the baby that’s happy to be awake, mostly happy to go to sleep, and–heavens to mergatroid!–sleeping more deeply in the night. A return to swaddling, which she used to hate, has made a big difference.

We’re taking these gains one day at a time, but there’s no doubt it feels good while it lasts. Last night, we had a whole heap of family arrive, and she slept happily through all the to and fro. We’ll see how she does today, with all this stimulation…

On the playwriting front, I finished the second scene of a new play that I’m quite happy about. There’s no title yet (working title Taina and Marvin), but it’s focused on a particular kind of self-inflicted political heartbreak and that territory I always seem to revisit, the teacher-student relationship.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 146 out of 185 days (Taina and Marvin)
Spanish: 131 out of 185 days
Music: 52 out of 91 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;
  • Wrote in support of elephant protections and ending the ivory trade.

Earlier in the year, I had been hoping to write a series of essays exploring what ethics might look like now that we’re becoming aware that our impact on the earth has led to a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene (a contested term, but one whose general outlines I believe in wholeheartedly).

That has not materialized due to a lack of time (and, I suppose, will) but rather than let this goal go, I’m going to start posting short excerpts of research and thoughts that might one day lead to a more serious series of essays: a field notes for Ethics for the Anthropocene.

Here’s my first entry:

“The study found that sea ice contains up to 240 microplastic particles per cubic meter–as much as 2,000 times the density of the particles that are estimated to float in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch…up to several trillion pieces could be released as Artic sea ice melts…”
–Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, based on a paper in Earth’s Future

We’ll see if I can keep this going once I return to work, but nothing seems more important to me than each of us attempting to articulate an ethics that accounts for the rapid shifts in our interconnected and imperiled world.


(Why am I naming days?)
9/18/14, Day 14,016 (Mercena Day 34): Anniversary at The Witching Hour

For our third anniversary, Heather and I knew there was only one place we wanted to go: The Witching Hour.

This trendy FoHi restaurant comes to you, cooking whatever you have frozen in your fridge that requires the least amount of effort. Then, in truly theatrical dining style, the server pitches a rolling fussy meltdown that ensures the food is not only lukewarm, in spite of multiple reheating attempts, but that you never have the chance to sit down and eat it together. The attention to detail is stunning: just as you gaze into the eyes of your beloved and murmur an exhausted “Happy Anniversary,” the server wakes from her brief, illusory slumber to wail at a pitch both excruciating and somehow cat-like. What better way to celebrate three years of love together than eating a big steaming plate of the consequences of that love?

Yeah, so actually The Witching Hour is the name given the time from 5pm to 11pm when babies of a certain age have extended periods of fit-pitching, and our baby was pitching some real heat last night. But, it all worked out well, as she then had her best night of sleep ever. So did Heather, as I took my first shift at night with the bottle, which allowed her over five hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep in the early morning…which was probably the best anniversary gift I could’ve given her.

We also had a great visit from Sean Williams, and we traded many baby stories. While I have trouble with prescriptive advice, I love hearing about other parents’ experiences. I’ve learned so much just by tracking the narrative of each baby’s journey, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m doing so much baby blogging here, in the hopes it might be of use or comfort to someone else going through it.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is accepting that she needs to be put down for naps earlier than we think. Part of it is we want to play with her while she’s awake, and part of it is that she isn’t very good at falling asleep without the aid of being totally milk-drunk or exhausted. But, when we follow the Two Yawn Rule–by the second yawn, she’s on her way to the bassinet–she’s much less fussy, both during that time period and cumulatively throughout the day.

What’s crazy is how hard is for her to fall asleep for those naps: the pacifier helps, singing to her helps, but even with all of that, she still manages to nearly fall asleep and then pop back awake for sometimes as long as an hour before she finally nods off. We’ve been experimenting with bringing back the swaddle with success for very fussy periods, and maybe we’ll want to use it more broadly, though she’s been very resistant to it in the past.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 146 out of 184 days (Untitled New Play)
Spanish: 131 out of 184 days
Music: 51 out of 90 days

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

Flux Season Vote

(Why am I naming days?)
9/17/14, Day 14,015 (Mercena Day 33): Mercena’s First Flux Season Vote

After feeling overwhelmed on her 32rd day, her 33rd day marked a big breakthrough. She became markedly more comfortable with the Eat/Activity/Sleep pattern laid out by The Baby Whisperer, and within that pattern, she had much more happy, engaged awake time.

And that was a very good thing, because we had scheduled the Flux Theatre Ensemble season vote for 6:30pm at our co-op. If we had a struggling baby in the middle of a meltdown, it would makes things very difficult. But after a period of happy awake time, she quickly fell asleep, waking once during the meeting to peacefully eat before returning to sleep.

Oh sure, she had a major meltdown from 2am to 3am, but yesterday was a very positive step forward, and I’m grateful for it.

I’m also supremely grateful for the quality of the discussion we had regarding Flux’s next season. It was honest, generous, difficult at times but always positive, and we wound up with a way forward that could be transformative, in spite of some major life challenges buffeting our ensemble over the next few years.

For those who don’t know, Flux votes on our seasons, with all eleven Creative Partners having an equal voice, and eight votes needed to move forward. The season discussion can be grueling, but it is also tremendously rewarding and one of the things that really defines what is most Flux-y about Flux.

All in all, a great day, if an exhausting night. And now I have to go, as our baby is having a hard time falling asleep…

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 145 out of 183 days (Untitled New Play)
Spanish: 131 out of 183 days
Music: 50 out of 89 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 my support for the Greenpeace activists facing ten years in jail for trying to protect an Indonesian rainforest;
  • Asked retailers to label Monsanto’s GMO corn (I’m not necessarily against GMO products, but I do believe in transparency);
  • Asked the AFL to boycott Brunei’s Airline until they end their violent, anti-LGBT laws.




(Why am I naming days?)
9/16/14, Day 14,014 (Mercena Day 32): Rain, Library, Bottle

Yesterday marked another milestone: the transition to feeding her Heather’s pumped breast milk in a bottle. For those who have never pumped milk from their breasts, you might be surprised how comic the machine is: it looks how the future looked when people thought of the future in the 40s (wires, tubes, and a freaky pumping machine sound).

She didn’t take to our first attempt, sandwiched as it was between two poop-inspired meltdowns, and I experienced my first real frazzle in some time. I recovered, so did she, and she ended taking the the bottle just fine (we’ll be using pumped breast milk sparingly, anyway).

People talk about sleep deprivation, but for me it’s her cry, the way each meltdown costs a little of your wall of strength until eventually and inevitably a live wire is at last exposed.

But the rain was beautiful, and we walked to the library, got our cards and saw the great children’s section they have, which we’re sure to use early and often. And we had a lovely visit from Anna Rahn, spending healing time out on the terrace.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 144 out of 182 days
Spanish: 131 out of 182 days
Music: 50 out of 88 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 my name on Hilary/Emily List’s petition for equal pay for women;
  • Asked Fred Upton to donate some of the 2+ million dollars he’s been given from fossil fuel company to the clean up effort of another spill in his district;
  • Signed another petition asking Congress to at least debate the proposed third war in Iraq.

Aristotle on Time

If both what is before and what is after are in the same ‘now,’ things which happened ten thousand years ago would be simultaneous with what has happened today, and nothing would be before or after anything else.”

–Aristotle, c. 330BC, Athens


(Why am I naming days?)
9/15/14, Day 14,013 (Mercena Day 31): Mercena’s First Month

I have a much longer post in me about this first month, but, per baby-usual, not enough time in which to write it. So I’ll just focus on the day itself, which began with a surprisingly successful visit to our pediatrician, Dr. Gocs.

First, the stats: she’s now 10 pounds, 6 ounces, which means she’s growing well (which we already knew from our tired arms). She also impressed with her tummy time skills, and miraculously did not freak out when we needed to change her. She got through her first Hep B shot with the help of a feeding session, and was peaceful as we took the beautiful walk home (Forest Hills really is crazy pretty).

One thing I love about Dr. Gocs: there’s no coddling parents about the difficulties of a new baby. That’s not to say she’s rough or cold–she’s not–but she also doesn’t indulge the various concerns we have about Mercena’s totally normal baby behaviors (aka, crying when changed). She’s clear on what things we should be concerned about, and what is just part of the deal.

I really appreciate that, because when people are overly sympathetic about our often fussy baby it makes me worried there’s something wrong to be sympathetic about, beyond the general challenges of a new baby…and that makes me worried and anxious. This is what we signed up for; and while its often hard, it’s always a gift for which I’m deeply grateful. As we sometimes say at TCG about the challenges of our Diversity & Inclusion programming, This Is The Work.

Keeping both gratitude and a a lack of self-pity as my primary frames makes me a happier, more relaxed (and therefore more effective) parent; and I’m grateful her doctor provides that clear perspective on what’s actually worth our worry.

We also had a visit from our birthing class friend Liz and her 3-month old Otto, and shared birthing and child-rearing stories and strategies. She’s adopted a much more rigorous schedule than we’re currently trying (we’re adopting more of a pattern before evolving into a schedule), but it was helpful to hear her particular journey to a baby that mostly sleeps through the night.

Oh, and speaking of that: while we had some serious fussy patches yesterday, the pattern appears to have paid off, because she slept much better in the night and has even become more relaxed about her changes. Please pray to whatever Gods you have, secular or divine, that this more relaxed diaper-change mood holds!

I also had the opportunity to attend the initial Mission to dit(MARS)’ Propulsion Lab meeting, while Heather Google Hanged her way into the Flux Family Feud meeting.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend the launch of this year’s Propulsion Lab, but Heather and Mercena gave me that last minute go and away I went. I’m particularly excited by this year’s group, which has many playwrights whose work I already admire as well as some playwrights who are completely new to me.

A Year Ago Today: We celebrated the marriage of my sister Marnie to my wonderful brother-in-law Zack. It was a beautiful ceremony marked by the maturity of a couple that had been with each other long enough to really understand the commitment they were making; and, of course, by their shared love of games. I’m still grateful I didn’t mess up the gorgeous three-part harmony of At Last my father had written to sing with my brother and I at the ceremony…

5 Years Ago Today: Heather and Candice have a meeting to discuss the crazy role of One in The Lesser Seductions of History.

Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…

Writing: 144 out of 181 days (rewrites of KD and The Band)
Spanish: 131 out of 181 days
Music: 49 out of 87 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 activate the Clean Air Act’s “Bhopal” provision to lower risk of chemical leaks;
  • Asked advertisers to pull their ads from Limbaugh’s programming after his “no means yes” rape comments;
  • Asked the Forest Service to not grant right-of-way to developers trampling on the water rights of the Havasupai Tribe.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.