May 31, 2007

Lady E’s Limousine Part I

Our vehicle of choice, the Laputa: its size…’unpretentious’ and endearingly squat. Its 64 horsepower performance… grudging and temperamental. Its ride quality…uncompromisingly standard. But it’s a mini-SUV on steroids!

Squeeze into the driver’s seat, turn the ignition key, and listen to the high-pitched squeal of 660ccs of pure turbocharged power. That is when you realize that this menace of the road really is…Lady E’s Limousine. It’s a tiny little car that is a perfect fit for our tiny little boss.

We bought it in September 2006 when Naomi was still pregnant, knowing that a vehicle would be invaluable when our child came into the world. Prior to that, we had only owned a motorcycle and a 50cc scooter—too “good with money” to maintain a car, rebels without a clue. The contrarian instinct in me cherishes the fact that our Laputa actually has an engine displacement that is smaller than my motorcycle. (Another reason I chose this vehicle was its boffo meaning in Spanish. Maybe there is a frustrated comic somewhere naming Japanese cars?)

"The Unpimpable Ride"

Anyway, our freewheelin’ two-wheel lifestyle has ended, but we aren’t in the soccer mom demographic yet because the cargo capacity of the Laputa permits onboard loading of only our beloved daughter’s baby seat and the necessary baby maintenance gear we need to hit the road. My expertise in packing and logistics has benefited significantly from this!

Now we have this little micro-mini to ferry Elena around and have some fun. It’s basically one of the most economical four-wheel drive rides going, has great gas mileage and thus is eco-guilt-free, and despite its frugal nature we love it. Having a small car affords the kind of mobility we need—given the geographical limitations of Japan, we have no desire for a grand touring vehicle.
Unless we hatch a sibling for Lady E…. !

May 15, 2007

My Baby Just Cares For Me: Lady E & Music

I confess that I lifted Billy Holliday’s famous moniker when I gave Elena the nickname “Lady E.” The reasons: not only does Elena command my attention and devotion, thanks to her regal bearing and A-list celebrity status in our household, I also happen to love music. I like to expose her to different kinds of music because I think it’s healthy and fun. This is not in the vein of forcing your toddler to listen-to-Mozart-to-develop-her-brain-functions early kind of hyper-kinetic parenting; nope, it’s a simple great music=happy mood=happy baby kind of thinking. She’ll face enough pressure later in life, why start when she is an infant?
So, this morning it was “Tangerine” from Led Zeppelin III and a small dose of “Sinnerman” from Nina Simone (another original ‘lady’ I dream that E. might emulate in some way). I’ve read that there is a biopic about Nina Simone in the works now and, before the inevitable ‘Nina boom’ to come, I want to expose my daughter to the estimable Ms. Simone’s vibe. And Pearl Jam…check out “Wishlist” from the Yield CD and tell me that it isn’t a beautiful piece of rock 'n roll: “I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good. I was a full moon shining off a Camaro’s hood.” Sweet Americana. And don’t even get me started about the Cowboy Junkies entire catalog

Music is a way for us to expose our child to one of the finer things inherent to being alive --great music-- and makes the hours I spend standing up in our living room with our squealing four month-old all the sweeter. She can make fun of my musical taste in about 12 years or so.

May 5, 2007

The Crystal Meth of New Fatherhood... watching your daughter's reflexive smiles as she slowly wakes up, eyeballs fluttering, regains consciousness in stages, and embarks on a brand new day. These minor scenes -- repeated hundreds of millions of times the world over every morning -- are enough to make even a confirmed cynic like me feel an innocent’s unblinking delight in all the new scenes encountered in a new day. Complementing this innate satisfaction is the sensation of weightier concerns, like global warming, genocide and omnipresent general nastiness, receding to a dim hum in the background as a result of my groggy little Lady E.'s smile.

Rhetorical question: if this is one of the intoxicants of parenting, why doesn't it render people incapable of doing shitty things to others, even temporarily? I feel like Bill Bixby when I transform from an aggressive imperialist carnivore to an idealistic utopian striver in the space of a few seconds under the gaze of my rising daughter.

The effect does fade and I inevitably revert to my usual self, but, overall, I think becoming a dad has made me a better human.