On any given night, from about 10 pm to whenever gets the job done, you’re likely to find a single light on in my house–one in the living room by a recliner we inherited from my wife’s grandfather. And in that chair, you are likely to find a disheveled, stubbly-faced thirty-something man hunched over a laptop, cussing out a Microsoft Word document at a volume that will wake neither the sleeping three-year-olds around the corner nor a pregnant woman passed out on the nine-pillow sculpture she has meticulously perfected over the past few weeks. While verbally abusing his own abused verbiage, he’ll likely be nursing a craft IPA or a bowl of ice cream (or both)–you know, just to take the edge off.
In case you haven’t already Sherlocked where I’m going with this, the insomniac in question is me.
While sleep and I are super duper BFFs and take cute selfies with each other like every single night, I elect to stay up after corralling the kids into the bathroom so they can spend 15 minutes whining about not wanting to brush their teeth and two minutes actually doing it; after reading multiple bedtime stories and refusing third encores; after watching my unborn child kick around my wife’s uterus while taking in whatever’s on our DVR; after my wife crashes in the middle of a show and I’m fighting sleep myself even though it’s only 9:30. Yes, despite all of this, I stay up because I have unfinished bidness. Even though I’ve found a big boy job I absolutely love and am working it full-time, I still have that all important, all-encompassing, all-kinds-of-psychotic last step of my PhD to plow through–my dissertation.
I’ll admit I take weekends off, and even a weekday here and there, but since about May of this year, I’ve been on this late-night regiment for a consistent four nights a week. Come 10 pm, I’m in that chair. Thinking. Number-crunching. Writing. Chasing. Snoozing. Wiping the drool off my face. Deleting the full page and a half of letter W’s my dead hand made while I was unconscious. Taking a sip of beer. Taking another five sips. Sighing loudly. Thinking. Number-crunching. Writing. Chasing.
In mid-September I cleared the first hurdle and laid the first draft of my thesis to rest–all 229 pages of it–and turned it into the chair of my committee for his feedback. Then came revisions, which bled into October, and once that was finally done, November’s late nights have been spent tackling the slideshow for presentation at my defense.
For those unfamiliar with the process, after writing and revising your kajillion-page dissertation, you are then asked to “defend” it to a committee of faculty chosen by you. This committee reviews your thesis, and then, at the “defense,” you present your findings in person, followed by the committee asking questions to challenge the validity and thoroughness of your work while barraging you with paintball guns to break your concentration. If the committee is satisfied with the answers you provide, 99 red balloons fall from the ceiling and Bill Murray inexplicably wanders in from the street to shake your hand and congratulate you on becoming a doctor just before performing an impromptu karaoke rendition of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” On the other hand, if the committee is not satisfied, you are handcuffed by an enormous sluglike creature named Jabba and shuttled out to the middle of the desert to be cast into a Sarlacc pit for all eternity.
“Every once in a while, when I’m changing a poop-filled diaper, I feel the slightest gag reflex.”
…and as I underwent this very special feeling today, it occurred to me that this is the first-ever situation I’ve experienced where I don’t necessarily mind the possibility of impending nauseous retching, aside, of course, from the occasional amusement park thrill ride.
It is also in this moment that I felt I graduated from New Father Academy, and may even be able to pass “Go,” and collect $200.
So today, this Fathers’ Day 2011 (my first as patriarch), please join me in celebrating myself, and I guess, if there’s time, all of the other fathers out there, who, too, have quietly and determinedly pushed through rear-end sanitation and other such thankless tasks; who animatedly read bedtime stories in voices that, in public, would warrant the permanent revocation of their Man Cards; who construct playthings while suppressing the exasperation engendered by the Worst Assembly Directions Ever Written; who throw out their backs while playing a little harder than necessary at the park for just one more giggle from their little people.
This is their day, and they’ve earned it.
While on the topic of fecal matters, please allow me to apologize, O Loyal Reader, for the lapse in posts on this fine publication as of late. After consulting its physician, Twinfamy is now on fiber supplements, which means you can expect more regularity again starting this week, starting with a brand new Twincident tomorrow, which, faithful to today’s brown-hued theme, will feature the unification of Number Two and a Pseudonymous family member’s face. Yes, you heard me right: Poop + Face = Ensuing Hilarity.
Try to contain yourself ’til then.
Happy Fathers’ Day!