IMR: 1998: May: 18 -- Monday, 3:12 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
Day one as a full-time father. So far, so good.

As I type, Katie's finally passed out, after two hours of kicking, squealing, babbling and giggling. No doubt the nap will be a short one, so I have to type fast.

The low point was getting peed on, and stepping on a dirty diaper in the rush to get a towel. The high point was a three-minute mutual laughing fit. She'd laugh, so I'd laugh, so she'd laugh some more. It was insanely adorable, though I imagine you had to be there.

Planned for later this afternoon, a trip to the park and a couple of games of "This Little Piggy." And of course another two feedings and the accompanying diaper changes.

Come to think of it, she sucked down four ounces of mom juice shortly after 1 p.m., and will probably take another eight before it's time to pick Jen up at work. That's about twice the amount I estimated she'd eat, meaning Jen and Mr. Pump are probably going to have to become really good friends over the next few days if we're going to manage without resorting to formula.

She's also gone through six diapers, but that's more a result of my inability to detect moisture than with Katie's hydration level.

Apart from the milk and diaper consumption, I'm still optimistic about the summer. Jen's not at all happy about going back to work, but I'm grateful to finally have the opportunity to play primary caretaker for a while. I already I see what I've been missing in the realm of parenthood.

I mean, the way Jen was moaning, you'd think I was the headmaster at Heaven's Gate Gun Shop and Day Care Center. Sure my singing voice isn't quite as soothing as Jen's, and no doubt meals with mom are considerably more pleasant, but Katie seems to be managing just fine.

Of course, if she sticks to her regular 7 p.m. descent into teething hell, daddy might not fare quite as well.

So here's the schedule. In the morning, Jen watches Katie while I squeeze in a few hours at my two campus jobs. Then I come home for a quick lunch, and we all race off to Kahala to drop Jen off at work. And from noon to 9 p.m., it's just Katie and me.

My timing was a little off for our first run, unfortunately, leaving Jen and I to stuff down a mini-plate at L&L Drive-Inn today (instead of saving that $9 and chowing on soup instead).

Jen was a wreck... like a freshman before her first day of high school. A tiny part of her was happy at the chance to be around adults again (I certainly don't qualify), but most of her dreaded the end of her three months of 24-hour momhood. When it was time to go, she gave Katie a tearful kiss goodbye.

Fortunately, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Jen's days off, which means after today, Jen gets another 48 hours with Katie before having to go back again.

So where have I been this last week? Nowhere really interesting.

Sure, Finals Week was stressful as hell, but as with any academic trauma, once it was over the memories faded fast.

I do remember breaking my procrastinative streak and turning in my seven-page, fully-illustrated Hawaiian project two days early.

I also remember going back to my old ways and putting my final magazine writing assignment off until the morning it was due. Somehow, holed up in the empty journalism office, I managed to pull fifteen pages out of thin air -- about twice as long as called for. Fortunately, it didn't hurt my grade. Borg called this morning to say I got an "A" on the paper and a "B" in the class.

(I was offered an "A" if I took a temporary "I" and spent the summer doing one required assignment I missed. Yeah. Like I have that kind of discipline.)

I also met with the folks at the Environmental Health and Safety Office, and got hired to do their website. Unlike my work on the Campus Security site -- which is how EHSO found me -- I'm actually going to get paid for the work. How much is yet to be determined, however.

So far, I haven't been able to do much. I finally mastered nested-parent frames and beveled buttons, though I think I'll only be using the latter. And fortunately, what little I've done has already made 'em happy. Though compared to the old page, which had literally been sitting in a drawer since 1996, I'd venture to say anything would be an improvement.

Okay. I'll be the first to concede that my work generally sucks. Especially compared to Subtle Studios (former colleague Todd's web design and type foundry).

But my target market are folks who are looking to update pages that were last touched back when animated envelopes and that tacky rainbow bar were all the rage. I can't make 'em look like Microsoft, but I can at least save them from looking like Billy Bob's Link o' Rama.

And I'm cheap. Hell, so far I've been working for free.

With two, soon maybe three, other web design clients in the wings, just maybe LeahiNet -- my little side project -- will pay off. Otherwise, at this rate I'll at least have my name on half the university's departments' pages by the time I graduate.

Monday, 10:49 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
Me and my thick fingers.

Katie did pull her regular teething fit -- screaming, turning pink, everything -- at 7 p.m. sharp. It lasted an hour, ending only after a reluctantly accepted feeding, and by the time she passed out my brain was scrambled.

Back when Jen and I lived in Waikiki, we had a neighbor whose baby would scream so long and so loud it made my hair curl. We used to think maybe it was being abused.

I'll not easily think that again, let me tell you. Sometimes I half expect the neighbors here to call the cops on us.

Jen's home safe and sound. She was extraordinarily happy to see Katie after eight hours on her feet of running register. We gave Katie a bath, and she's probably out for the night. We're watching the season finale of "Ally McBeal," our latest primetime discovery.

"Ip." Just hilarious.

Yesterday, Sunday, was not one of my better days.

We left the apartment at 9 a.m. -- an hour later than we planned -- for the first of the day's two big adventures: UH graduation.

Figuring the University Avenue florists would be mobbed, we drove into Chinatown to patronize mom's usual florist for leis. Though I had no doubt we'd see half a dozen friends wearing caps and gowns, our budget allowed us to purchase leis only for those that had specifically invited us: William and Michelle.

Finding parking in downtown was a nightmare. Getting parking on campus was worse. I wager we were probably among the last fifty cars to get in, nabbing a stall on the roof of the structure.

We set Katie up in her stroller, gathered up our stuff, and headed to the arena, where the ceremony was well underway. Upon arriving at the elevators, though, we were greeted with a simple sign that read, "No strollers allowed in arena."

So while Jen held Katie, I ran back to the car to throw the stroller in the trunk. When I got back, more people were coming up the escalators than going down.

"They just closed the arena," Jen said.

What to do, what to do? We decided to head down to the greeting field and just wait for everyone to come out.

It was a two hour wait. In the sun. Except when it suddenly poured for ten minutes. Soon, Katie decided she wanted to eat, leaving us to stalk around the perimiter for half an hour trying to find a suitable place for Jen to whip out her lunch. We ended up at the bottom of a stairwell in the parking structure.

Even after that it was another hour. And it only got hotter.

The graduates started flowing in at around noon. According to the paper, there were 1,900 of them -- the largest group ever. And even if you presume that only 1,000 of them had three or four family and friends there, you can only begin to imagine the crowd.

I left Jen and Katie under a scrawny tree while hunting William down. I eventually found him, his father, brother and boss near the goalposts, and gave him his lei with a sigh of relief. I went back for Jen and Katie, and after a brief round of oohs and ahhs, we ran off to find Michelle.

We couldn't find her. We made three passes through the thick of the "C" crowd (which, because of bad planning, was way too close to "B" and "D"), then Jen and I both took turns going back while the other kept Katie in the shade. After a while, it seemed futile, and Jen looked downright faint with the heat. So we gave up.

We trudged back to the parking structure. Since the car had been sitting in the sun for three hours, I left Jen on the ground floor where I'd pick her up.

Of course, everyone else was leaving too, so the structure was backed up from bottom to top. It took ten minutes to go down one floor. And at each ramp, I had to explain to a guard, no I didn't want to go out that way, I have to get to the ground-floor elevators to pick up my wife and daughter.

By the time I got to them, Katie was awake and smiling, but Jen looked sick. I wasn't exactly smiling, either.

Time to go home?

Nope. Item two on the itinerary was a visit with dad.

See, with this past week being the last week Jen, Katie and I would be free together at any reasonable hour, I'd been calling every few days to see if we could hang out with dad and Gayle one more time. Perhaps a visit where, for once, I wouldn't steal food, ask for money, or try and get help fixing up the car.

Unfortunately, it was a bad month for Gayle, with conference after conference after conference. And dad, as usual, was up to his ears in work.

But miraculously, dad figured we could see him on Sunday (the last day of Jen's "vacation"). But instead of hanging out at home, we'd have to join him at Ben Cayetano's campaign headquarters, where he's apparently a coordinator. It was the grand opening -- free food, live music... how could we resist?

Bad move.

Turns out half the city was there, with the nearest street parking two blocks away. And the line for the food wrapped around the block. And the music was deafeningly loud, sending Katie into a screaming fit. And it was the hottest hour of the day. Thirsty, hungry and hot, I just lost it.

I left a blubbering message on dad's answering machine, and we headed home. I was so worked up, Jen was frightfully worried. I had suddenly dropped into that ridiculous state of mind where the whole world sucked... one of my long-dormant, infamous Scorpio overreactions.

In retrospect, it was mostly a stupid tantrum. But a part of me -- my pride, most likely -- still insists my fuming wasn't over nothing.

I mean, the last time I asked dad for help, I got one of a long series of essays outlining his many other obligations. And to be fair, he had a good point. My present lot in life is of my own making, after all, and I already get considerable support -- whether indirectly or via frequent, generous gifts.

So, chagrinned, I resolved to never ask for anything again. And, as part of a broader effort to improve our relationship, it seemed to help. Though we didn't talk any more frequently, the conversations we did have were friendly, tension-free chats.

I guess what frustrated me about this past weekend was that, for once, I only wanted a little of his time. Yet fate still conspired to leave me wanting.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 18 May 1998 · Last Modified: 21 May 1998