"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Monday, January 23, 2012

Share My Pithiness

Last week my wife and I had a Facebook duel with competing comments on a friend's post. It was Brad Pitt's fault.

It was one of those posts where someone has taken a saying or a quote and pasted it onto a famous face or embarrassing picture in order to give the text heft. Sometimes the person actually said what they are quoted as to have said, sometimes not. For instance, Nelson Mandela did not say, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, blah, blah, blah." But the internet memes seem to think he did.
I didn't create this...and I've just added to the problem, haven't I?

People think these memes are funny or, worse, meaningful. They share them to Facebook and write things like "Wow!" or "So true" underneath. I don't get most of them. Rather, I don't get what most people see in these memes. I mean--and this is what I said in my Facebook joust with my wife--I say pithy stuff all the time and no one puts together a photoshopped poster of me and my best lines and posts it on Facebook.

So this is what my wife did:
Lesson learned: Don't watch American Horror Story late at night in the dark
with headphones on at a desk where someone can creep up behind you.

And she posted it on my Facebook wall. Isn't she sweet?

To my knowledge no one else has shared this to their own wall or passed it on to their friends, though I'm sure a few dozen of my own friends must have seen it. So I decided to boost the odds. Because I am lame, my wife showed me how to use Paint to come up with my own pithy quote poster memes.

I offer you these prefab pictures of my head (and one of Xander's) and Facebook posts gathered from my wall. They are all real, all thoughtful, and all fairly pop-culture-centric. I don't know much about anything else. Except red velvet.

Did you ever wonder what happened to Cameron when his
dad came home to find his car crashed into the gully?

I just re-experienced one of the most formative television events of my youth:
DEVO on Square Pegs.
It's a totally different head. Totally.

I don't know what flavor red velvet is, but it's my favorite flavor.

Watched My So-Called Life on Netflix this morning.
Blasted Alanis Morrisette in the car this afternoon.
Coincidentally shaved my facial hair into a goatee today...Viva la 1993!

Below are some extra lines for those of you who haven't followed my Facebooking with fervor from the moment I signed on about a year ago. Feel free to build your own meme with your own clever imagery and share it on your blog or Facebook or Twitter or whatever else you got in order to spread my personal wisdom throughout the five corners of the internets. (By the way, the text is copywrited and the images are property of Building Castles on the Beach and www.brentwescott.com. SOPA and PIPA regulations apply.)

Tell you what: In order to get the ball rolling, we'll make it a contest. Since I don't yet have a book of my own to give away, I'll buy a copy of my brother-in-law's epic sci-fi-fantasy-rom-com mash-up e-book, The Crystal Bridge (see my own review over on my Shelfari) for the person with the best one. Email me or comment below to let me know where to view your meme with my words. I'll give you until next Monday. Have fun and spread the word. Just make sure you leave a "Wow!" here and a "So true" there.

"Why did I wake up this morning? Oh yeah. Snow Day."

"Should I buy an iPad just so I can get the new Bjork album?"

"I'd forgotten that Prince's "1999" is really an anti-war song. "Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?""

"Just watched 127 Hours. Ouch. But playing Sigur Ros at the end is a satisfactory balm."

"The Friday of a week-long break makes me sad."

"Is it just nostalgia, or is The Cosby Show still funny?"

"We need to stop giving that Rapture/Apocalypse-guessing guy any more press. All he's getting is more and more famous. I think I'd rather know what Lady Gaga is wearing today."

"Despite the title of my recent blog post, I have never seen Dirty Dancing."

And as a bonus, from a couple of years ago, before I was ever on Facebook, I made my wife post this to her wall:

Singing "Poker Face" with your mom is like singing "Afternoon Delight" with your uncle.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sleep Debate: and the winner is...

Previously on "The Great Sleep Debate":

Dad starts to lose his cool after waking up at 3:00 in the morning for the five-hundredth time in a year.

Then I remembered that back when the boy was still the size of my forearm and his whole head would fit in my palm, my wife had picked up the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. At one point she told me in this totally incredulous way, "This book says if you put your baby down to sleep at six o'clock, he'll sleep straight through until six in the morning." We scoffed out loud together, for what did I care, anyway? Xander needed sustenance every two hours. Sleeping through the night would have to wait.

We waited too long. I was beginning to feel like it would just be better to lie down on the hardwood floor of the nursery while the boy rattled the slats of his crib with his bottle all night.

So I made an agreement with May. If I read this book, which she only ended up reading part of, and understood the process it espouses, we would give it a try. And she would be on board. (See the previous chapter of "The Great Sleep Debate" to witness the results of May not being on board.)

The theory is simple: Babies need sleep. If their sleep patterns are interrupted, they get overtired and can't relax and sleep. If they sleep well, they learn to be able to relax and sleep. Sleep begets sleep.

Extinction is the way to go. Set a pre-bedtime pattern. Soothe him, calm him down. Then before he's actually asleep, put him down and don't look back. At least, don't go back. If you go back and he's awake, if he makes any kind of contact with you before morning, he becomes stimulated and he'll know you'll come. The next night he'll scream all that much more because he knows you'll come. Extinction is about doing what's right for your child, and what's right is allowing him to relax and to learn how go to sleep by himself. Otherwise, a lifetime of poor sleep awaits him. And rested children are smart children.

The book says that gradual extinction can work, but by nature, it takes longer. My first instinct was to try this, but I did this with my daughters and it took 18 months. With full-on extinction the baby learns in mere days.

As you can see, I read the book. And the debate continued. I tried to explain to May that if she put Xander down for his nap and left him alone, even if he cries for an hour and doesn't nap, at least she'll have an hour to get her work done. But she still wasn't on board. She couldn't stand hearing him cry and not go to him. And I'll tell you, it was no picnic for me, either. It's not a pleasant way to spend two minutes, let alone an hour--or longer, if it's night and he needs to sleep but won't--to sit twenty-five feet away from your son, listening to him pour his heart out to you the only way he knows how.

We tried it once or twice between Thanksgiving and Christmas. No luck. Or, to be precise, no consistency. One thing or another would prevent us from working it more than one night in a row, and even that one night was never quite successful. When your spouse is in tears because you're child is in tears, you don't have much recourse.

Apt? Or inappropriate?
Then on Christmas, we spent the day at my sister-in-law's place where another set of in-laws were visiting and Xander could frolic the holiday away with several other cousins. But he needed an afternoon nap, or he would melt down like a Nazi opening the Lost Ark. I sat with him in a quiet room for a few minutes, but it wasn't home and we didn't perform the soothing routine and he wasn't calming down, so I made the executive decision to put him in the crib and kiss him goodnight. I took the baby monitor with me, but you could hear him throughout the house. He did not like being left there.

Fortunately, May had family to distract her and support her through the ordeal. If it were just me, I would have caved under the pressure. It was a rough thirty minutes or so, but eventually no more crying emanated from the bedroom.

Despite this success, the debate continued at home for the next week or so, as my school break neared its end and we attempted to put the boy down at night and let him cry at inconsistent times and for inconsistent amounts of time before someone--and when I say "someone," I mean Mommy--would have to soothe him.

So it was more than just a few days' learning curve, but the night before I was supposed to go back to school, I completed the ritual: bath, jammies, books, then a warm bottle in a dark nursery while Dad watches Fraiser. And when I put him in his crib, he looked up at me and pulled at his blanket while he turned over to get comfortable. I said goodnight, and that was the last I heard from him that night.

It's pretty much been this way every night since. If we don't bathe him by six o'clock in the p.m., he pulls one of us to the bathroom on his own, anticipating the beginning of the bedtime routine. He goes to sleep sometime before seven, depending on the time and duration and existence of his afternoon nap. If he cries when I put him down, it lasts about 60 seconds, then it's sleepy time all night long. He wakes up around seven in the morning, happy and noticably smarter. I think he's stacking blocks at a third-grade level now.

Just the other night, then, after another successful bedtime routine, May solemnly conceded defeat in the Great Sleep Debate of 2011 and 12 or something. She said, "Brent, you were right. I'm sorry I fought it for so long. But my life has been a lot easier since we've been putting him down to bed like this. Thank you, I love you, you're the smartest person in the whole world and I my only hope in life is that Xander grows up to be exactly like you."

It wasn't a fair fight. There was really only one outcome, unless Xander was to end up 18 and still waking up at night asking for his mommy, which is a little too creepy to consider.

Now, what do I do with my extra waking hours?
You can't argue with these results.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great Sleep Debate

Xander has kept us up nights for over a year. His first month he was still in the hospital, so that part doesn't count. But when we brought him home, he was feeding every two hours. My wife and I would alternate nights staying out in the living room and sleeping on the couch while Xander slept his short periods in his little chair.
Where he spent most of his time a year ago.

When we brought him into the bedroom, we bought a co-sleeper that attaches to Mom's side of the bed--I think it's required to be on Mom's side--but we continued the trading procedure, and every other night I slept next to the baby. (Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I only sleep well on the right side of the bed.) After a few months, though, the day came when I woke up in the morning and realized I hadn't had to soothe the baby all night. Huzzah! What followed wasn't every night, but sometimes we would all get a full night's sleep.
Roll over, put pacifier in mouth, repeat indefinitely.

As a side note, and I'm not sure if this is important, I'd like to point out that neither of my two daughters slept through the night even once until they were over 18-months-old.

When the boy moved into the crib in his own room across the hall, the baby monitor was on all night, catching every rustle, every coo, every whine he made and sending it on over to Mom and Dad's room. We realized that if he were to wake up--and he did, every night again--it was better to catch it right away in order to get him back to sleep. If we let him cry for too long, he would possibly be awake for hours in the middle of the night.
He wasn't always this awake at 2:00 in the morning, but it would happen.

My wife and I continued to take turns waking with him at night. And Xander learned that when he woke up at night, we would be there for him like the loving parents we are. No way was any child of ours going to think his parents abandoned him.

Sometime after five to twelve months of this behavior, it got old. The baby was cranky. Mom was cranky. More importantly, Dad was cranky. Like, all the time. Sleep deprivation takes its toll, but it's like a pickpocket: you don't realize you've been gypped until after the fact.

So when Xander was about 11-months-old, back in October, during my fall break from school, I informed my wife that I would be in charge of Xander all week, and I was going to work on getting him to sleep all night. Mommy wasn't on board; she wasn't ready. But what could she do? I was the one who didn't have to go to work in the morning, so I was in charge. My plan was to use gradual extinction, the idea that you put the child down, kiss him goodnight, and briefly check on him at increasing longer periods until he's asleep. But what did I know? Remember my daughters.

Did I mention that my wife wasn't on board? When the baby cried, Mom cried. Dogs and cats were living together. It was mass hysteria.

We didn't even last the first fifteen minutes. That's all it took, and baby was in mother's arms. She didn't let go of him for a long time. The next night I tried again. It might have lasted thirty minutes, but I doubt it was even that long. I didn't try again the next night.

We debated this every night for weeks after that. Do we put him down, let him cry it out, only to return in the morning? Do we let him cry but check on him every ten minutes because otherwise he thinks we've moved to Australia? Or do we continue to do what we've been doing: Hold him until he falls asleep. Sometimes this would take hours, literally, but at least I could watch Frasier on Netflix while I sat there.
This is where we sit until he falls asleep in our arms.
If he wakes when we put him in the crib, we sit here some more.

All I knew was that he still woke up at least once in the night and I was beginning to feel resentful. What we were doing wasn't working.

Next time, on "The Great Sleep Debate":
The sleep chair comes full circle and is now his TV rocker.

We give up and answer the siren song of Yo Gabba Gabba. All night long.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Zombie Crime and Punishment Rabbits

I finally finished Crime and Punishment. I've been teaching it since before the Winter Break in December. Don't tell my students.

I actually read it just for fun back when I was in college. Well, for fun and to meet chicks. I carried it around with me and hoped girls would ask me what I was reading. Okay, I wasn't that desperate, but it worked that way at least once.

I was on the window ledge of one of the girls' dorms working as a window washer. (I'm not making this up. It was actually pretty good, easy work, until the weather got cold and the outdoor window washers became indoor bathroom cleaners.) Anyhoo, a girl in one room started flirting with me through her window, and when she saw that I was reading Crime and Punishment, she became so captivated by my mystique that she began stalking me. That's a slight exaggeration, but she did find out where I lived, met my roommate, and they got married shortly thereafter.

I try to explain the power of carrying around good literature to my students, but they just scoff.

As a segue to the other thing I have to share today, I offer the following mash-up for the taking. In the tradition of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, howza 'bout Zombie Crime and Punishment Rabbits?

See, Raskolnikov isn't out to prove he's entitled to flaunt society's law and kill an old harpy pawn broker because he's really an "extraordinary man." Instead, he is well on his way to making his living in the legal profession so he can care for his beloved mother and sister while saving hookers with hearts of gold, when he's brutally bitten by the dreadful Zombie Rabbit, causing an apathetic fever, sluggish strolls through St. Petersburg in Summer, and a desire to axe women in the head to get at their brains. Plus, fiery red eyeballs.

This million-dollar idea comes to you courtesy of Dave at Dave Wrote This, who has offered the coveted Zombie Rabbit Award to yours truly. I'm not sure of the point, exactly, but I accept the honor by passing it along to a couple of other blogs.

Check out Charlie's brain at Notice Your World, who has published his own guide to surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

Or read one of TJ Reed's cool-as-brains zombie stories at They Won't Get Us.

And even though she doesn't normally write zombie poetry, try one of Lolamouse's tasty brains of a poem at Mouse Droppings. You'll be back for more.