When EllieRoo was born I had beer breath. Barely, but yes. Boozed. After teaching my Wednesday 5:30 yoga class, my one allotted weekday brew. Ahhhhh. A red rye IPA from Terrapin Beer Co.

In the labor room, I massaged Kate’s thighs. Thai Massage technique. Bodyweight palm presses. I shuttled styrofoam cup after styrofoam cup of water. She was sweating, guzzling. The doctor said no water. I said no she’s sweating and thirsty and they call it labor for a reason. She still said no. I said yes we have the books in my backpack that say it’s okay. An hour later I put gloves on and blue booties and caught the baby, cut the cord, and lifted her up onto Kate’s chest.

For the seven years before I met Kate, alcohol functioned as an anesthetic. Numb the noise. Freeze routine’s automaticity. When we started dating, I quit drinking cold turkey. For one year. Then eased back in.

We don’t talk about bravery much. But I think self-care is heroic. I think admitting the grind is corroding us, splitting nerve endings is heroic. After last weekend’s Thai Massage training, I felt like melting butter. Like no space could hold me. Like I had no edges. They dissolved into fluid, flux, and flow. Addicts know about self-care. But we get the flow-state from ingesting or imbibing instead of manufacturing from within. Subtle difference perhaps. But habits have a powerful momentum. Thoughts become actions become character.

Self care. I’m touch resistant. Touch-phobic. Maybe it’s being an American male. Massage shines light in the dark places. Swings the door open wide. That’s the mission of The Alt Dad Diary. Create real contact. Not cliche and rhetoric.

Yesterday I spent two hours researching how Instagram works. Nothing novel. Hashtags, for example. According to a marketing analyst, posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. Also images with high levels of blue can generate up to 24% more likes than those with red or orange colors. This isn’t in college marketing textbooks. But certainly should be.

One of Kate’s soccer players is enrolled in my English 101 class next quarter. She said I’m taking your class and I said that’s dope, we’ll have fun. Her eyebrows did this WTF-thing. She said, will we?

EllieRoo giggles whenever she sees herself in the mirror. Or when I exaggerated smile. Or high-pitched voice say BOOP! College kids are swiping right, trying dope, shrooms, getting liquor loose. College kids are a tougher crowd.Their late adolescence neuro-circuits are still under construction. Most notably, the highway linking the prefrontal cortex to the midbrain reward system. Where addictive drugs and romantic love exert their powers. Hormonal changes too. The adolescent brain pours out adrenal stress hormones, sex hormones, and growth hormone, which in turn influence brain development. Will class be fun?

When Ellie grows up, will she like me? Every kid resents mom and dad. People say. Maybe it’s the same college kid fun query.

I took a trip to the woods yesterday afternoon. Chickens cuck in the coop. The sun sets early. I️ want Ellie to know the Earth gives, soothes. I want her to lick her lips with natural spring water. Feel livened by the brisk fall breeze.

Last night we had a bonfire. Burned the stash of sticks the dog’s dragged home on walks. Watching the smoke, I have to keep reminding myself. Dreams evaporate so quickly. Unless we nourish them.

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