Why do you do the things you do?
This is a question I find myself asking frequently – and often out loud – as I share the house with a four-weeks-old-today baby girl. Are you crying because you are hungry, tired, or in need of diaper? Are you trying to fling yourself away from my person because you are hungry, tired, being held too tightly, or have a baby death wish. Et cetera.
It’s hard to get an answer out of her – not only due to her still-developing communication skills, because baby motivation is inscrutable. It’s very possible the thing she is doing is some involuntary bodily response she can’t control and that her shock at it happening is only causing it to happen even more, like a cat chasing its own fleeing tail.
A year or two from now the answers might be different because the needs might have evolved. She may cry because she can’t have a specific food or wants to go to sleep. She might fling herself from my person to grab something she’s interested in or to be closer to her mother. Her reasons will take into account emotional fulfillment and desire, but also the way we helped her deal with those bodily needs. If she gets picked up every time she cries, she might very well cry in order to be picked up. Later, she might cry because she can’t go to a concert she wants to see (unlikely) or fling herself away from my person because dads are uncool (equally as unlikely).What all of those reasons have in common is that they are physiological. This is the nature of a body’s hierarchy of needs, Maslow’s or otherwise. Whether it’s baby humans or baby naked mole rats, they don’t generally come out seeking self-actualization. They want to sustain their system.
That’s a whole parenting post for another time.
At some much later point, we’re us – fully-formed, fully-autonomous beings with all sorts of things we do based on a latticework of needs built upon other needs. I need to listen to music almost daily or I start to get depressed. I need to organize a row of books or else it will bother me. I need to present in front of crowds and see or hear their feedback.
Why do I do those things? I can’t tell you, exactly. They aren’t always convenient or good for me. Sometimes they surprise me, even as I am doing them, just like my baby involuntarily trying to fling herself out of my arms and down a staircase.
Among those surprises, is that I still feel the need to blog – especially on this day, thirteen years after the day when this all began on August 26, 2000.
“We all wish something would happen.”
I have an infant daughter and a teenage blog.
If you had told the author of my infant blog that he would eventually be writing on the first teenage birthday of his blog about his infant daughter he would have laughed insanely, said he wasn’t so sure he wanted to have children, and then asked if your time traveling would lead to some sort of causality paradox.
Yet, you can easily sketch that progress across thirteen years of Crushing Krisis. Almost everything I do has changed aside from writing songs, while this particular thing has stayed exactly the same. CK remembers a time before I had been in live, a time before I had a career, a time when being in a band seemed like some faraway fantasy.
An examination of past birthday posts track this progression an increasingly celebratory tone. I’m always crowing about some experience or achievement and about how the years just keep getting better and better.
Since I don’t lie on Crushing Krisis, I’ll tell you now: this isn’t one of those posts. The past year was awesome but it was also awful.
We had a baby, but it was not easy to get there as a couple and as a team. I have a new job, but it was excruciating to leave a role I loved and a family I cared about after a decade – it was the hardest decision I’ve made in my life. I watched the best fitness of my life – the first time I was ever happy with my own body – slip away due to persistent injuries and demands on my time.
Arcati Crisis and Smash Fantastic played some of their biggest and best shows yet, but Filmstar quite suddenly stalled and recording has been a slow-going battle for Gina and I. I edited and expanded my novel with a talented group of writers only to realize I have a long ways to go in defining motivation and showing agency before I arrive at a complete work.
And, despite being the most profitable year of CK thanks to the awesome folks who use my comic book collecting guides, to my unending disappointment this year featured lowest number of new CK posts of all time. There are single days thirteen years ago where I posted as much as I did in the entirety of the past twelve months, and the negative space tells the story of my disappointment as clearly as the posts do.
It would be disingenuous and nearly delusional to call that a bad year. Look at all that amazing stuff that happened to me! I am alive, upright, and physically safe. I am fed, clothed, and gainfully employed.
Yes, all of those needs are met, and maybe if I was a well-fed naked mole rat with a charming wheel to run in I would be satisfied with that. That’s not how being human works – at least, not for me. I do things because I want to do more things – bigger, better things, and I write this post every year in celebration but also to prove that things got done.
Earlier this year I couldn’t blog about our being pregnant, because it wasn’t safe to discuss yet, but I still wrote down the stories. I felt compelled to document the insane thrill and danger of each moment unfiltered by hindsight and experience in a way that I could relive later, and I read them to friends breathlessly before they found their way onto the blog.
Out to dinner at about the mid-way point of our pregnancy, my mother handed me an envelope with an spiral-bound flip-book of photos nearly as old as me, and an extremely tiny composition notebook. The photos were of a very tiny, very chubby me. The book was written in an unfamiliar scrawl.
“Your father wrote about our labor in this,” she said. “I thought you might like to read it.”
The book details her (my?) labor in far greater detail and hilarity than I mustered for any record of ours. Here is a little of what he wrote, all in tiny, slightly-italic capital letters:
This is it? E [ed note: my mother] says it is. It’s been over 12hrs now. Lynn [my godmother] and I ate but mom’s starving. We all wish something would happen.
Note: Outrageous omition [sic]! Around 5AM Lynn uttered the word outrageous and Mom promptly asked to hear “Jean Genie” (Bowie). Sorry about late entry. It’s thanks to Mom I remember at all.
I just realized I can’t fill in name slot on cover because I don’t know what your name is going to be. Now I think this may really be it. It all started around 8:30 A.M. Thursday and dragged ’til now. But I’ll put that in later on.
Well, good luck kid! I love you,
Why did he do that thing – write down his thoughts in this tiny blue book instead of just thinking them? He didn’t need to write them down. He never remembered to give them to me, although I’m sure he has some funny stories about carrying it around in his pocket.
My dad live-blogged my being born in 1981.
Maybe that’s why I do this.
Why not be happy instead?
This evening we had three generations of the women of E’s family in our house for dinner. E’s mother and sister, E, and me holding our baby sat around the dining table enjoying a rare dinner together.
A few bites into my plate, the baby started fussing. She had just woken up and had a bottle, and I had just changed her. I was holding her comfortably in such a way that she could see many interesting things. She wasn’t even trying to dive bomb onto the floor. Yet, her fussing began its familiar bloom into tears.
We walked together into the parlor and I sat her on my knee. “Why are you so upset?” I asked her. “You’re missing dinner with all these ladies. Some of them came a long way to see you.”
She squeaked a little cry of response.
“I think you have everything you need right now,” I said to her, maybe a little apologetically – as if I was missing something obvious, “so, I think you should cheer up and we should go back to dinner.”
She gave me a puzzled little look, halfway to tears. And then, for no reason I could discern, her temper passed like the shadow of a cloud. She met my gaze, looking as ridiculous and adorable as she has looked in four entire weeks.
“Okay then,” I said, and then added, “Do you know how cute you are?”
She cooed back at me and we returned to the table to laugh and coo and make ridiculous faces and enjoy our meal.
This life is not pure science. We do what we do and need what we need not just to fulfill our biological imperatives, but because we are more than the sum of our atoms and molecules, our bones and muscles. Each one of us is a fleeting series of electrical crackles across the mottled grey surface of a brain. Some of us are happy all of the time, and some of us are never satisfied, but we can do whatever we want to do.
I don’t know why my baby suddenly cheered up, but she did. I don’t know if this year was awesome or awful or both at the same time, but I can decide to be happy about the life-altering results and try a little harder next year.
I don’t know why I blog, but it’s what I want to do. Maybe not every fifteen minutes, or even every day or week, but life just wouldn’t be the same without it. A year or two from now I will forget all of the awful and only remember the awesome, because that’s the story I chose to tell. And, maybe thirty years from now my daughter will pull it up from some digital archive and read all about how I got to be her father.
Thank you for reading – especially if it makes you happy. Thank you mom-E and dad – somehow I do this thing because of you. Thank you E and baby-E – there wouldn’t be as good a story to tell without you.
Thank you, and happy birthday to this.