My wife paid me a nice compliment last night about the way I accompany the stories I tell with movements, which makes the stories easy to follow, compared to what they might otherwise be without the movements. I learned from watching great spacework masters like Doug Neithercott and John Kirhoffer, but I said thank you for the compliment.
Tonight was a normal Monday except that instead of her taking our son to the weekly elite toddler cabal in Santa Monica it was me. I stopped minding my inbox at 3:20 PM so I could fit in a quick talk with her about daycare choices and still be driving away from the house at 3:30. I drove around the corner and parked at our local bagel place, checked in on Foursquare (I am the mayor), and then drove another quarter mile or so to Shakespeare's day care. I paid the caretaker, having forgotten to pay on Friday, and inquired about his stools. The question and answer were relayed among 2 other workers, both Spanish speaking, but the response satisfied me and I strapped the boy in and drove to Santa Monica on the freeway, encountering no problems with highway congestion or finding a parking place adjacent to a working elevator in the high rise parking structure, which only recently raised its rates; no more three hours free parking. Likewise Westfield Century City. Everyone's taking a bite out of me just because I drive a car.
By 4:10 PM we were at ground level, Shakespeare in his stroller and me in my sweater. And him also in a sweater, the heavy jacket (a hand me down from a colleague and friend) tucked in the stroller's sparse cargo hold, a mesh bag which can accommodate the overgarment, a sippy cup, a burp rag, and precious little else. It is an umbrella stroller, no elephantine leviathan with a cupholder.
Since we're early for the cabal, I pushed Shakespeare down the promenade. There was no drumming busquer today, but he showed interest in the soprano sax player and, more so, to the lady with a guitar singing original songs for kids. Her name was Claire Means, which I remember because of the Spoonerism: a housekeeping horse, I suppose. I wish she'd become a household name so I can use her in my forthcoming game Spoonbenders. I gave her a dollar in quarters.
I pushed the stroller to 3rd between Santa Monica and Broadway to check out the new location of the Apple store. I think it's what used to be the Borders. Now I suppose the old space, nearer Wilshire, will stay vacant a long time. Urban blight. I wheeled us quickly to the church and we attended the session.
At 6 I walked us to Tender Greens, ordered food for myself (an indulgence, but no dessert), and fed the baby in the highchair. I fed him from the yellow zip bag with food in it I'd brought from the car, hooked to the back of the umbrella story. I didn't tell you it was there before because I wanted this story to have a twist. The bag also contains spoons with which to feed Shakespeare yams, courtesy of mom, and mashed potatoes, courtesy of the magicians in the kitchen at Tender Greens. There's also wet paper towels in the yellow zip bag.
After dinner my son and I return to the car. This is where mom's plan really pays off. We play at the car for about 15 minutes. Him in the trunk, going nuts and expending a lot of energy. I quickly hide the hatchet I keep in the trunk. I won it at John Russell Terrier's house for answering the most trivia questions right at an all-day screening of the first three Indiana Jones movies, before the 4th one came out. I like the fridge nuking scene, by the way. So Shakespeare's not allowed to play with the hatchet - I keep it in the trunk because, where else really? - but he can play with the bag of balls.
This boy loves ball pits. Loves them. He squeals with glee when we put him in one. He has recently taken to throwing all the balls out, one at a time, but I can usually stop him from doing that by juggling the balls. It's a great distraction, and I'm grateful to myself in high school for doing all that practice, because I can now juggle sufficiently well enough to appease a squirmy baby.
So I give the bag, a canvas tote, to Shakespeare. It contains about a dozen orange balls like the kind you find in a ballpit. This is the first time since fatherhood that the bag in the trunk has come in handy, but not the first time altogether. The balls themselves are leftovers from the big bags I buy at Toys R Us for the games we play at Wise Guys, such as No Match Catch, a wonderful game I made up (immodest) while working on a very good game show. No Match Catch requires balls in green, red, yellow, and blue, but not orange, so I pulled those out and keep them in my car.
The first time they came in handy, I was a guest on the late night show "Up Late With Adam Fisher." I was appearing in the role of a guest I'd made up, an eccentric, wealthy, British playboy, a combination of a real-life Willy Wonka and Richard Branson. When I entered, I was throwing the orange balls into the audience. I spoke in a British accent, and since I don't normally do accent work, Adam was taken by surprise, which I liked. I told him that the candies I'd thrown into the audience were a combination of gumdrops, some of them, while others were deep psychedelics that, if licked, would last for days before its effects wore off. This was to freak out anyone who might have put their mouths on the balls, which I'm sure was no one, but the character would be confident people would taste his free sweets.
Adam said, "I understand you're doing a night of entertainment at the Disney Concert Hall. It's one night only. What is the name of the show?"
My character's name was Taylor Bloomberg. "A Night With Taylor Bloomberg," was my answer, and the audience laughed. I'm not sure why, but I'm glad they did. The character's name came from my asking Danny Ricker to get from the audience the last name of a US President and the name of a US Mayor.
So Shakespeare played with those balls in the trunk - Greg recovered many of them after the show, though I'd planned on leaving them behind, since he was in the audience - and at 7:15 I put butt cream on him and combed his hair and put his overnight diaper on (on Shakespeare, wisenheimer), and put him in his jammies, and he was just as agreeable as he could be, far more so than he is at home where he needs four hands and a lot of distraction. Sometimes even juggling isn't enough. I took him out of the trunk, folded the umbrella stroller with him under one arm, tossed it in the trunk, closed the trunk securely, opened the rear driver side seat, tossed the hatchet back in the trunk, sat the baby on my lap, and read to him the 6 or 7 stories I'd packed along. Then I offered him a sippy cup of milk, which he waved off - not uncommon - and I buckled him in his carseat and arranged a scarf around him to dampen out some of the view and the light. I moved to the drivers' seat, inserted earbuds and listened to John Darnielle on the Marc Maron podcast.
There was no traffic on the freeway, and it wasn't until we were off the freeway that I heard the literal sound of Shakespeare conking out, his hand, which had been raised a moment ago, hitting the side of the window as his little body went to the land of nod. I drove around the block 3 times, parked in the garage, went and opened the study door, went back to the car, unfastened his carseat, nested him in my arms cradle-style, rather than putting him over my shoulder, which wakes him up.
Inside, the house is dark. I carry him into the nursery, where the space heater and humidifier and noise maker are on, and a pacifier is resting on the changing table. I pull the pacifier out of his mouth - it is on a leash - and replace it with the untethered one on the changing table. He sucks it and remains asleep. I tug free the pacifier clipped on his pajamas, rest him in the crib, exit the nursery and close the door. I retrieve the remote baby monitor (which we call "the gadget" in our house) and close the doors to the master bedroom and the hallway. I'm now ready to retrieve the scattered contents of the car parked in the garage.
I've just brought all those items in, which I managed to do in a single trip by employing a couple of my efficiency techniques. These include: do it now while you're thinking of it. Don't carry too many things at once, a habit I have come to call the Myles Nye mistake, because I think it causes more misery and misfortune in my life than any other mistake I make as frequently. And, if you are reminded of a task you must do while in the middle of another task you must do, ask yourself which one of them you are more likely to remember to come back to after completing the other. For example, suppose you are carrying some dirty clothes to the laundry hamper when, part way, you notice a flaming squirrel running amok in your front room. You could throw the laundry to the floor, extinguish the squirrel with a bucket of water or by chasing it out of the house with a broom - either of which would require both your hands - and then pick up the laundry and finish the job. Or you could go put the laundry in the basket and come back and then deal with the squirrel. In this instance, the choice is obvious, but it's not always that clear. Some tasks are flaming squirrels, and some are just chores.
Now all the items are inside the house and I've changed into comfy clothes though not pajamas. Not yet. Now I have to put the items away, put the clean items in the dish dry rack away, upload and watermark photos and organize them into albums, do some write-ups for my consulting job tomorrow, and prepare a vegetable and a grain for dinner guests tomorrow night. But before doing those things I wanted to write this down, this snapshot in time, of the way I navigate my way through time and through space as best as I can, trying to make good decision all along the way, and making many movements, big and small, and trying to keep them precise without worrying too much about if some of them are needless.