from the vaults

17 02 2010

So I’ve had on backburner a bunch of videos that I’ve always meant to chop together into, I don’t know, something, but — of course — never got around to it. Looking back on them recently, I realized they’re sentimentally great on their own, sans music or editing, and they remind me of how much change e has gone through.

First, two clips of e at his 100 day celebration. Here’s him putting on his han-bok (traditional Korean dress).

And here’s a bunch of people eating at the buffet. Okay, so this one is not that interesting.

Here’s e around that time, I think. He’s pretty helpless, unable even to crawl, really.

Here’s him a bit later, climbing the stairs. Sorry about the quality of the video; it was dark in the stairwell.

More stairs, better visibility.

Okay, this next one is fairly long (4 minutes) and features e complaining in babyspeak. I forgot how chunky he used to be. Very cute when he’s cranky.

Fast forward a few months, e is mobile. He’s lost the goose-down hair and some of the baby fat. He knows a few words, but still speaks mostly gobbledygook. His articulation is clearer, though, and it’ll be no time at all before he’ll start challenging my Korean.

Next week: e now.


The Wild Thing

23 10 2009

There was a time would E would sleep through the night, 12, 14 hours, without so much as a rustle. We knew we were lucky, lucky to have a baby that would let us have the night to ourselves, undisturbed.

That changed when E started climbing out of his crib. I think it must have been around month 20, in the summer. He’d start awake from a nightmare, climb out of his crib, and seek us out for consolation. What were we to do? The kid just had a nightmare. You’ve got to let him sleep with you.

Pretty soon it was every night. We changed out the guard rails for a set that had an opening in them because there was no point in pretending that nothing was stopping him from just hopping over them any time he wanted to. We’d put him to bed and sneak out when he fell asleep, but at one or two in the morning, when we ourselves were sure to be in bed, he’d climb out of his crib, march down the hallway with his favorite blanket, and claw at our bed.

The Chinese have a nickname for their little ones. They call them Little Emperors. E is almost two now. He is eagerly testing out newfound powers of refusal, of demand, of whiny attrition. He is our Little Emperor.

And Dana just gives in. She’s ragged from all the school work and stress and doesn’t have it in her to deal with wet eyes and screaming sirens of protest. But I’m the Dad. I’m the man of the house; I’m the law. The buck stops with me, buddy.

So one night, when Dana is away, I decide to take the opportunity to put my foot down. I give E his bath, put him in his pajamas, and turn out the lights. I fish around for the Mighty Brite reading light and read him Goodnight Moon. He’s yawning. Good sign. We say our prayers, and I lift him in my arms and set him in his crib. As I do so, I say, “I’m leaving, E, and I want you to stay in your crib. I don’t want you to leave this room tonight.”

He rocks his head back and forth and ever so faintly says, “No. No.”

“Yes, E. Stay in your crib. I am closing the door,” and I latch the door shut.

Then I go down the hall, get in bed, and wait.

And, indeed, ten minutes later I hear him get out of his crib. I hear him run his hand across the door. What is this? The door’s never been shut before. How am I supposed to get out? I can hear him scratch at the groove between the door and the frame.

And then I hear him go nuts. He starts to whine. And then bawl. And then I hear him stomp around the room blindly. He starts opening all his drawers and flinging out all his clothes. I almost get out of bed when he starts throwing his toys. HeĀ  starts banging against the door, first with his shoulder, then with his head. He presses all the buttons on the toys attached to his bed. And then it sounds like he’s ripping pages out of one of his books.

I hear a thud, thud, thud, and then I realize he’s tipping over the rocking chair.

I’m sitting up now, but it’s suddenly gone silent. I sit uneasily for five minutes, ten minutes. What’s happened? Is he hurt — trapped, perhaps, under the rocking chair? Is he lying on the floor, exhausted? Is he back in bed?

I think I see a flash of light underneath the door. No… how can…?

And then, dumbfounded, I hear the doorknob being rattled. Chk-chk. Chk-chk.

Is my son seriously…? Chk-chk. Chk-chk.

And before I could answer my question, the door flings open, and E comes howling like a banshee down the hall, waving the Mighty Brite wand so that I see white flashes of his wrathful, grimacing face racing towards me like an avenging spirit.

I was literally flat on my back in fright. I almost fell out of the bed and found myself scampering away from him as he came to the side of the bed and started clawing up. When I got him to settle down and nestle into bed — my bed — sweetly asleep, I could still hear my heart thumping, and I had to laugh out loud, nervously, to force myself to exhale and calm down.

Needless to say, he still sleeps in our bed every night.

The Secret on My Mind

6 09 2009

Another scribble:

Dear Alex,

I have a secret. Actually it’s not really a secret, since a lot of guys here on the inside do know about it, all the guards and wardens and docs and, therefore, also practically every one in my block, but actually beyond that I think this information is surprisingly not real well-known. Maybe on account of me being a straight up guy and careful with others’ shit. Anyhow, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about how I look. I’m 5’11”, 200 lbs. at the last weigh-in. I’ve got light-brown skin — so light that I’ve got red freckles around my nose. I laughed when you wrote that you looked like a kid version of Conan O’Brien in your letter ’cause my friends used to call me “Irish” when I was your age. One of the guards tapes Conan O’Brien and plays it in the rec room. Anyhow, I also got this Afro. You know what that is? I don’t know if kids around you still sport those things. I let my hair grow kind of long and then shape it back with a razor so it looks like I got this black foam ball on my head. Except my hair is not super tightly kinked, so it’s more like a mound of cotton candy on my head. It was kind of a thing back in the day. Here’s the thing — there’s a reason why I always, always have my hair this way. It’s ’cause I have a nail sticking out of my head. If you shaved my scalp, you’d see it sticking out maybe half-an-inch honest-to-Jesus. But my hair being as it is, you really wouldn’t be the wiser.

My dad did that, Alex.

So here’s the problem

4 09 2009

Another quick scribble.

Jonas could tell before Tasker said a word that the colonel was not a geek. It wasn’t his clean-shaven appearance or militaristic bearing — plenty of the crack cybersecurity experts are coming nowadays from within the ranks of an Armed Forces keen on keeping a step ahead of technology than its rivals both far and near. It wasn’t even his age, though Jonas certainly couldn’t recall any eminent wizards who looked like Tasker.

It was his scan; the Colonel looked at the personnel rather than the equipment. He lacked the shifty-eyed curiosity of a true geek. He was, instead, a bureaucrat, or middle manager.

“You say one of your own machines is doing this?”

“Sort of,” Jonas explained. “One of the crucial ways we track new activity is by having an array of machines that we call honeypots. They’re completely vulnerable machines, you see, with no firewalls or protective software. We use them to attract as much malicious activity as possible. Their sole purpose is to get swarmed with infections so we can see what new menaces are making their way around networks.”

The Colonel cut him short. “So what happened at 0400 this morning?”

“Well,” Jonas said, “they all started, one after another, sneezing.”

Scribble: Deadly Vows

29 07 2009

I’ve started re-attending my writer’s group now that the school year’s over. Here’s a scribble I made from our last meeting:

It was her lips and tongue that bled first and not from gashes cleft and gaping nor even from the sores that soon appeared, but the crimson droplets arriving like an annunciation, like a stigmata, the kiss of Christ blessing the holy crusade of the United States of America. She didn’t know, of course, that it was from the war time effort until half a decade later, as the other girls in her line fell sick with her, passing each other in wheelchairs in hospital hallways — the old gang, the Wildcats of Westbrook, the fountain clique, and the Spirit committee — now a nunnery effacing in their sublimated loves. A venomous glowworm that dug into their marrow and hollowed their bones, slithered down their gullets with a little slip of spit and paint, neon-green — a color that seemed otherworldly, as if it came from behind a far-off star through the slipstream of pulpy fiction. The girls were told to keep their brushes sharp and wet as they painted on the numbers on their dials, the hand-lettered timepieces to their boyfriends, husbands, lovers in future perfect, shining, twinkling, winking even in the blackest of nights by their licks of radium.

First Proper Haircut

24 07 2009

It took two hairdressers in Chinatown, and my wife, to hold e down as he screamed through the shears.

Before & After:


Sure, e’s cut is a bit uneven what with all the squirming and screaming, but I think I got it worse. e has a nicely shaped head; he can sport a close shave.



Please Touch Museum

24 07 2009

I think I already mentioned that e is obsessed with vehicles. After car rides, he wants to climb out of his seat and into mine so that he can press every button on the console and pretend to drive.


He’s also learned to recognize planes, although it took him a while to learn the distinction between them and birds.


It’s for me to gauge what exactly e is thinking — what connections he’s making. I’ve pretty much decided to reserve judgment as a matter of course. Better to just let him explore in an unstructured way for as long as I can.


Another obsession: vacuum cleaners. He loves things that go “whir.” And he loves to push things around.


On the porch.


I love that the Please Touch has a Wonderland area.


Playing piano. e like banging away at the piano and drums at his grandparents’ house, but he seems less interested in the glockenspiel we got him.


e was initially terrified of the carousel. He now seems quite comfortable with it. I wonder when he’ll come around to liking slides and swings. (He mostly just mopes around the playground, climbing up and down steps).