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Got up at six. And seven. And 7:30, 7: 45, 7: 55, 8:10, and so on. My wife had to leave the house early, so Gnat snuck into bed, and began to snore. Not loud rafter-rattlers, but small little snorts that nevertheless sounded like individual gunshots to someone trying to get back to sleep. Which I did, but it was fitful and light. Began the day with that deep-down weariness that makes you realize the entire day will be one long march towards sweet sleep.

“What did you dream about?” she asked.

“Cleveland,” I said.

Downstairs. She’s still at the age where we go down hand in hand. Probably past the age, but I’m not telling her. I make the coffee, grinding the beans until they are the size of quarks; pour in the water, hit START, wish I could advance time by four minutes. Just this once. Usually I’d hate to blow that gift on something as mundane as coffee, but not now. The sausage goes in the microwave; beep beep slam door START. Look at the newspaper: nothing much blew up, so we got that going for us. Try the coffee: not so much a beverage as a hot liquid depilatory. Pour it back. DING. Remove sausage. Note that I forgot to set the power on 50%, and the sausage is indistinguishable from the frozen logs you find in the yard of someone who owns a small dog. Throw away. Nuke more sausage. Put out a plate for Gnat, including a Dexter’s Laboratory G-Gurt tube. Huh. Haven’t watched that show in years; used to watch it every night when I stayed up until two patting baby Gnat’s back to release the Stabbing Knives of Gas. Why didn’t I watch it anymore? Oh, right: I got sick to death of it.

We have breakfast. Afterwards she goes to her computer and I go to mine. I read the blogs. She colors My Little Pony pictures at the MLP website. (Actual quote: “Daddy, I want to go to My Little Pony Dot Com, so can you change the computer to System X.” Because she had booted into classic mode, don’t you know.) Later she goes through the bin of toys, playing with some old favorites – the pirate hook she got as a Wendy’s promotion at the Arizona airport, a lacing puzzle, a Cinderella lollypop spinner, a Hello Kitty drawing pad, and so forth. I finish the Newhouse column and send it to the home office. Shave, shower. Back downstairs to finish the Strib column, which I left in a state of utter disarray the previous night. It goes out by noon.

Peanut butter sandwiches for the house. We share an apple, a Red Delicious, which isn’t. Done gone mealy, it has.

She gets to watch some TV now. I go outside for the mail and a Panter, then write the Joe Ohio. It’s one o’clock. Now what?

Well, card games, of course. I could clean house; I could rearrange stuff; I could work on this or that, but I’ve just finished the day’s two big columns, and there’s really no reason I can’t sit down and play with my daughter. So we play UNO. I have no idea how to play, but it’s not exactly one of those wildass variations of poker where the Jacks are wild, Queens are domesticated, Kings are feral and everyone has to give their entire hand to the player on the left if someone says the word “fizbin.” It’s just frickin’ UNO, which is rather simple. She knows the rules, having learned them yesterday. We play seven rounds. Then we play I Spy Go Fish while a flaming idiot on the Michael Medved show argues with the host. He hatred for Medved is absolutely luminescent; he begins by accusing MV of being a self-hating Jew, and as evidence cites his support for the Fence in Israel. It’s like watching Orson Welles paint a target on his belly, don gills and fins, climb in a barrel and hand you a gun.

She is the very model of good sportsmanship when I win, congratulating me on my victory. Manners are hard when you’re 4 1//2, but apparently harder for 25-year old Michael Moore supporters; he tells the host to stick his ideas “up your cornhole.” Charming. I turn it off; life’s too short.

We go upstairs to my wife’s office, where I zero the drive of her old computer – I’m giving it away to a friend. Gnat gets out the bin of boas and dresses and adorns herself in princess regalia. While the drive grinds I do some cleaning. The sun is heading down now; it’s almost four, and we’ve come to the moment in the day where you either leave the house and do something, or consign yourself to a day spent entirely within the warm thick walls of home. Do I need to go out? No. We lack for nothing.

Wife returns; they go to choir practice; I am alone. And it is bliss. I drink coffee and dink around and quickly feel guilty for not being productive. I don’t know what’s more of a curse: the need to make every day significant in some way, or the retrospective realization at the end of your allotment that you enjoyed yourself but accomplished squat. I’d feel better if the book was done, that’s certain. So why am I not working on it NOW? NOW? NOW?

Gooood question.

So I will.

No, I won’t. Because it’s late and the house is quiet, and maybe I should just put my feet up and relax. It’s not like I didn’t work today. It’s not like I didn’t give Gnat a great day – she may not remember the particulars if I’m jellified by a bus tomorrow, but I think she’ll recall the pith of the gist of our times together. It’s not like I didn’t do something constructive for the house – God help me, I washed the walls in the family room and polished the wood in the bathroom cabinets, which never gets done, and sorted two towel drawers in the kitchen. (So many towels. Who needs so many towels?) So I’m entitled to watch a Simpsons, for example, but the reruns the Tivo nabs are from seasons I haven’t seen – recent seasons whose quality is so low it’s almost like a different show. For that matter, it is a different show. I think it swam alongside the shark for so long I never noticed when it made the jump.

Just checked the mail - whoo hoo. Book sales are decent. All Things Considered wants to do an interview. And someone wants to know what Joe Ohio looks like.

I don’t know.

I do – but not exactly. He’s indistinct, but he’s coming into focus. As I wrote to someone else the other day: one installment he’s going to look in the mirror, and that’s when I’ll know what he really looks like. But he’s not tall; he’s not fat or gaunt. He’s still a cipher, but we’re just getting started.

Me, I’m done. For the next 16 hours, anyway.