Domestic Failures #03: Baby-Kicking

Today, I kicked a one year-old in the head.

On her birthday.

As I was swallowing down a slice of her chocolate birthday cake.

Which I suppose confirms the literary theory that villains aren’t born, but made.

In truth, I accidentally bumped into little M—- as I was walking, my leg connecting with her head when she made a sudden lurch (as crawling babies will) from beneath a chair. Luckily, she’s doing OK; she looked resentful for a solid hour, but it wasn’t anything some nursery rhymes off an iPad couldn’t fix.

But imagine the story she’ll tell in future years.

(And if in future years you ever read this, M—-: I love you!)


Contemplation & Coconut

Karim Anani’s recipe for self-inflicted anxiety:

  1. Find the perfect job. Something that fits so well you realise you’ve just fallen in love with a job description.
  2. Write a covering letter. Work it until it meets the highest quality standard you know: your own.
  3. After waiting a day, comb through the covering letter, editing as necessary.
  4. Discover that they want you to copy-paste the content into a text form. Send in the letter after fixing the formatting (butchered by the form).
  5. Realise you forgot to add a double-spaced paragraph at one point when fixing.
  6. Try not to worry about it.
  7. Look at the rest of the jobs section on their website.
  8. Realise that the covering letter you wrote, while good, objectively, isn’t nearly as funny as the website is.
  9. But you needed to be professional. Your second-to-last paragraph was a bit jokey, too…
  10. God, you are so right for this job. If only they’d notice.
  11. This is like your first crush all over again.
  12. It’s fine. Probably.
  13. Continue working, compartmentalising your oversight. Maybe they’ll still be interested.
  14. Hit the gym afterwards; enjoy the post-workout shower by affirming that your choice of coconut shampoo at the shop earlier was, in fact, the right one.
  15. Go to bed, a little anxious and really rather hopeful.
  16. At least you smell like coconut.


Unlike recent posts, this actually happened: the job listing was professional, but warm and humorous, and the more I read on my potential employer, the more eager I’ve been to work with them, which is why I’ve been checking the state of my application twice a day since I submitted it Saturday. There’s a serious Harry Potter-level hype vibe going around here.

The surrealism of being so excited—again, because of a job descriptionmade me think of a passage from Skippy Dies, Paul Murray’s excellent tragicomedy about misplaced faith in authority, in which Ruprecht, possible genius, contemplates his love of m-theory. I thought I’d share it with you before signing-out:

The more arguments he hears against it, the deeper his adoration grows for this esoteric, unreadable scripture that the crude unthinking world will not take time to understand—the longer he spends in his basement lost in topologies, mapping out the imaginary surfaces that undulate beneath its hyperspatial penumbra, shunning human company except for other faceless devotees in sleepless Internet chatrooms, reciting back and forth those golden shibboleths, string, multiverse, supersymmetry, gravitino, the theory’s hundred names…

In fact, maybe it is love after all. Why can’t we fall in love with a theory? Is it a person we fall in love with, or the idea of a person? So yes, Ruprecht has fallen in love. It was love at first sight, occurring the moment he saw Professor Tamashi present that initial diagram, and it has unfolded exponentially ever since. The question of reason, then, the question of evidence, these are wasted on him. Since when has love ever looked for reasons, or evidence? Why would love bow to the reality of things, when it creates a reality of its own, so much more vivid, wherein everything resonates to the key of the heart?

The trouble down below

Note: the title is in reference to Jesse Winchester’s song “Step by Step”.

A couple of weeks ago I somehow found myself walking around our latest new mall, populated by the same types you’ll always find shopping at the latest new mall, who were hunting, with a determination associated with an athlete sprinting a 100-metre dash, for the clothes that populate the chain stores that populate the latest new mall.

Both of my friends were hungry, and arguing about where to eat; I was lost in thought. Being on the verge of graduating university after three years of failure and three of success at postponing my entry into the big, bad real world for real, childhood dreams traded for enough experience to write the first page of a how-to survival guide, I was apprehensive, and trying to snap out of it. Above, “PF Chang’s” blared in red, a large wooden horse statue baring down beneath the sign. As I was looking, an acquaintance walked out the restaurant doors. Wok’s, another (formerly?) popular Chinese place, was something she’d once recommended to me. The memory came unbidden. The evening carried on.

I was on Facebook that night when a post her best friend showed-up on my news feed. The post, marked from four hours ago, read: “At PF Chang’s!” An onslaught of comments about how jealous people are commences. The food is great. The place is amazing.

I get off the laptop and walk to the balcony. Around me, the remains of the day’s work—construction at a complex, fifteen villas in total—are piled-up, and being the glass-half-empty bundle of joy that I am, it factors into my curious, worried mood. What tiles to pick. How to fix my brother’s drainage pipe. When to repair the broken glass window near my bedroom. So much to do, and it’s too damn late at night to do it.

The next day, my sister off-handedly informs me that my baby cousin is about to enter the second grade. I love this kid. I’ve seen My Neighbour Totoro with her over one hundred times (I stopped count at 121), and would walk with her and tell her stories around five times a week. This stopped because we no longer live together. See the aforementioned villas and complex.

When I see my cousin, I ask her if she’s excited about school.

“Yes,” she says.



“Good,” I say, hoping I mean it. “What’s your favorite subject?”

She looks thoughtful, as if determining what her answer should be; not discovering any inherently right one, she responds truthfully: “Arabic. But I’m not looking forward to dealing with Sally.”

A tirade follows. Sally is stinky and stupid, and always talks behind peoples backs. Cousin does a mean impression of this Sally, who, from the looks of things, speaks using only the word “blah” by moving her mouth like Pac-Man.

Visiting Facebook that night is an exercise in frustration.

Former highschool hotshot is wearing a suit, is a banker, and has a bald-spot. OK. Former pretty boy slash attention whore has started a political party. The boy hasn’t read a book in living memory, and has flunked out of four different universities. OK. Former friend has turned into his father. Qualification, and a boost of nepotism, allows them to run the same company together. OK. Former highschool hotshot couple have broken-up years ago. She’s getting married that same night. He hasn’t been laid in years. OK. There’s a war going on just north. The price of oil has gone-up again. Cancer killed someone. OK. OK. OK.

A waddle into and contentment with okayness. New curtains, repairing the tiles, scoring a new shirt at 80% discount, getting promoted, the exciting new movie, knowledge of all the horrible things people do, rationalized: this is what it feels like life. It’s home, accumulated furniture, comfortable places, the well-earned rewards for hard work. It peaks when you go to a Chinese restaurant that offers slight variation on the recipes the Chinese restaurant you were recommended ten years ago serves-up: sweet is sweeter, and sour more sour. The food is great. The place is amazing.

I get up in the morning anyway. That the babies are turning into us and us into our parents makes me want to do something beneficial, but for now I write; I am not OK, no. My work is going badly, my friends are busy, my ex-girlfriend has turned into an obnoxious, unbearable git, and these few years are a museum of regrets. OK. Wash your face. OK. Brush your teeth. OK. Get dressed. Open that door. Get started. OK.

The day is a swirl of small victories, bigger defeats. In the evening, I put on some music. The work is going badly, but the evening carries on.

My sister walks into the bedroom. “I heard PF Chang’s fantastic,” she says. “Wanna go?”

I hesitate.

“OK?” she says.

Go through the door, and content yourself with new variations on Chinese. Stay, and…

“No,” I say.

“Maybe later?”


She glances at the work. She acknowledges.

“Good luck.”