Geek Speak: Walk with the Animals, Talk with the Animals...
The problem with being able to understand the "speech" of animals is that you might not want to know what they have to say. Cats in particular. Cats are vicious bastards.
In any big city it's impossible to go anywhere without encountering some manner of local urban fauna. It could be anything from the much maligned city pigeon (in the event of the apocalypse remember; pigeons are made of meat), to the universal flea-bitten street cat, to even wilder critters such as coyote, raccoon, and snakes. For someone in our hero's position this makes the simple act of getting a cart full of alcohol home with so he can get obliterated like running the gauntlet on an episode of "Wild Kingdom: Los Angeles."
There were some interesting challenges in drawing this strip. We see the action at different "angles," from very wide, to very close, to looking up at the "hero" in a moment of horror. I'm starting to understand why Bill Watterson allegedly lamented backgrounds in comic strips as a dying art. It's difficult to draw backgrounds that enrich the world of the comic and add a feeling of authenticity. Most likely I'm going to need to take some time and go out into my community and draw some store fronts.
This post has been a long time coming, and future posts may also be delayed. The reason is I'm adjusting to being responsible for not one, but two small people-pupae. My wife and I welcomed our second child on September 18th at 8:30 at night. He was born at 5 pounds, 13 ounces, 20 inches long...and two-and-a-half weeks pre-term.
He was born by emergency c-section after a friend rushed my wife to the hospital. I met them there after receiving a text message no one, but expectant fathers in particular, should ever have to read from someone for whom they care deeply. It was simple, and chilling, "Come home now. Bleeding lots. Hospital."
Mildly Sensational...needs a new handle. My wife is incredible, and there's nothing mild about that. Six weeks on I'm still awed by her courage and resolve in the face of something so deeply and personally frightening. She barely let on that she was scared through the entire event. Her strength gave me the resolve I needed to hang by her side and contribute in whatever small way I could.
The rest of that day is a blur. I can only hope that I actually performed as a husband and father as well as my extraordinarily hazy recollections would seem to indicate. It didn't hit me until much later how close I came to losing both my wife and our son; how close my world came to ending. I won't dwell on that. In the end our son is healthy and amazing, and mildly sensational is healing up nicely.
I'm left with the problem of finding a way to thank our very good friend Phoenix for all her help at what is, without question, one of the most critical moments of our lives. When we needed someone to step in and save the day, she was there. She put aside whatever else she needed to do that day, whatever else she was dealing with, and pushed through some personal boundaries to be there for us when we needed someone the most. Words don't convey thanks in adequate measure for such selflessness.
Our son was early enough that he didn't get to come home right away, and ended up spending some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). That is a scary experience. You're forced to place a tiny, extremely fragile new life in the hands of others, and stand helplessly by while they buzz around your baby in a smooth dance of professional detachment.
Since coming home we have been thrust hardcore into full-time baby-management mode. By full time I mean "around-the-clock." Our experience with our son could not be more different from the early days with our daughter. She always slept easily and deeply, and rarely fussed in her sleep. She fed easily without the need for a lot of coaxing. There was never a need for both of us to be up every time she needed to be fed, changed, or anything else. Preemies are...different...more demanding.
There is a space beyond simple fatigue that you reach after weeks of sleep deprivation. It's a place where you can operate at a functional level even when your head is buzzing from lack of sleep. I think it's a place only parents, and military personnel training for, or already in combat, ever come to know. Every fiber of your being is screaming for sleep, but there's stuff that has to be done, so you push those thoughts of bed and comfort from your mind and you wash bottles for the third time that day.
For all that we're not sleeping, and for all that the last few weeks have been a trial, I think it was worth it. I look into my son's eyes as he drinks in the world around him and begins to understand it, and I lose myself. Time flies by and it's just me with my baby boy in my arms.