Ivy’s about three weeks old now and Janeen and I are settled into the routine of caring for her. Routine is actually a misnomer since there’s no rhyme or reason to Ivy’s schedule. This little broad is down to party all night sometimes. We’re tired!
A couple of books I’ve recently read describe the first few months of a baby’s life as a fourth trimester. The theory is that the human species has a head so disproportionately large that our children are born before they’re fully cooked. Our absurd bulbous eggheads have to fit through our mothers’ birth canals, so our gestation period is only nine months even though we really need twelve. In our first few months of life, we’re fetuses living outside the womb, beanbags with eyes. Based on my experience with Ivy, I gotta say that this theory has merit. Ivy’s not capable of a whole lot right now. She sleeps, she eats, she poops. And she fusses (because she wants to sleep, eat or poop—I’m expert at knowing which). For maybe a few minutes each day she achieves the magical mental state of being awake, alert and quiet. Then she sleeps, eats, poops—or fusses.
I’m making it sound pretty awful, but while caring for a newborn can be tedious, I am enjoying this. I’m fortunate to be able to grant myself a paternity leave to stay home and assist Janeen. I am suffering from a frailty as unique to mankind as our melon-sized craniums: our sometimes devastating refusal to accept the transience of moments in time. I’ve got a bad case of this common affliction right now. Every day, I find myself holding Ivy, looking at her tiny little grabby hands, at her chubby little kicky legs, and into her wide and unknowing eyes. And I think ohhh, she will never be this little again! This thought brings about feelings of love, of fear, of nostalgia, of regret, of hope… of everything.
In other news, the early stages of fatherhood may have cured my severe case of fecalphobia. Of course I realize that it’s completely normal to be repulsed by shit, but my level of distaste for all forms of excrement and excretion is at least three sigmas above the mean. Just seeing, smelling, or thinking about (touching is out of the fucking question) shit utterly horrifies me. I’d way rather be a ditch digger than a nurse; much of what the human body is capable of nauseates me. For what it’s worth, I was able to get through maybe three seconds of “2 Girls 1 Cup.” It gave me nightmares for weeks. People are so… gross.
Thanks to a trial by fire, today I can say that my fecalphobia is fading. Owning a city dog—which requires picking up shit in a plastic bag a few times a day—was step one in my path to recovery. Step two is dealing with the constant stream of poo that flies out of Ivy’s little tuchas. Damn, no one told me how much little babies shit. This little sucker poops her drawers ten or twelve times a day. She’s not even a month old and changing her diaper has already become so routine that you’d never know that I’m a recovering fecalphobic. Something to really be proud of.
Becoming baby-rearing hermits has simplified our daily lives greatly. Ivy goes two or three hours max without requiring attention. I therefore now take pleasure in occurrences that are supposed to be significant only to people over 80 years of age: a nice cup of coffee, my favorite television program (we’re working our way through Season 4 of The Wire), a walk around the block, my favorite radio show (Mike Francesa’s droning curmudgeonry), deciding what to have for lunch, the mailman’s arrival, outings to the supermarket… exciting stuff. Somehow I am really enjoying it all. I’ll be sad when this era comes to an end.
I realize this subject matter is far afield of almost everything I’ve historically written. Sorry, it’s the best I’ve got. Poker is a complete non-factor for me right now. The last hand of poker I played was on November 20th, 2010. Since that day I have logged zero live sessions and zero online sessions, repeatedly turning down the opportunity to put in an “honest day’s work.” Since Thanksgiving I have thought about poker for maybe thirty minutes combined, and only then because questions or stories about poker have been posed to me. My only exposure to my chosen profession has been my friends’ Facebook status updates, rife as ever with tournament poker’s familiar manic-depressive cycle of hope, disappointment, hope, disappointment, hope, disappointment—with some occasional elation thrown in to keep the wheel turning. I feel zero empathy reading these updates. I’m quite far removed from poker emotionally. I read the updates and mostly chuckle.
This total layoff comes on the heels of a previous hiatus in the fall. The end result is that I have played 130 hours of poker since Labor Day, which is an average of less than one hour per day. That’s a pretty epic period of inactivity, and because I have not missed poker at any point during that time I’m unsure how I should feel about it. My drive is not completely gone—I’m going to Borgata next week, and when I think about that trip I like to imagine that my layoff will leave me feeling refreshed and ready. Then again, there’s the nagging possibility that I just don’t give a shit anymore. Guys who don’t give a shit can’t survive in poker, it’s a world full of hungry muthafuckas. Am I still willing to “keep up with the game”—to make the constant adjustments that are a prerequisite for success? I’m not sure. The best way to find out is to get in there and mix it up. Next week.