He stares over my shoulder, eyes wide open, examining the shadows. Breast milk soaks my t-shirt, along with drool created by tiny, jagged teeth piercing his gums.
I push his head back down with my palm, but he resists and releases a defiant scream. I bounce. I bargain with myself. I would empty my checking account for a nap. I would never eat again at Five Guys Burgers for a few moments to shut my eyes. Outside, the red line train hums at its stop near our fifth-floor apartment. Chicago stills during the early morning hours, but our living room remains active; a street light glimmers between the blinds. The train departs, humming northbound into the night. I lower us to a multicolored foam play mat and lie flat on my back.
Henry leans on my chest like a professional wrestler pinning his opponent. I close my eyes. The toilet flushes in the apartment next door, my neighbor ridding herself of another cigarette butt. While Henry listens to the rushing water, I consider my options: toss him out the window or ask my wife for help. However, neither of these options are included in the deal.
I am on the clock, so I must remain conscious, battling an opponent with a delicious scalp and wonderfully chubby legs. Wandering through my hazy mind, I attempt to remember why I signed up for this job. I embraced visions of myself as a hip, progressive father — a modern dad unburdened by rigid, traditional views of fatherhood, a man not forced to divide the roles of provider and protector from nurturer and caregiver. At the end of spring, I resigned from a soul-sucking job to care for Henry, four months old, while Cara returned to work at a non-profit in the heart of the city.
We desired to leave behind suburban life and a lengthy commute, well suited for many families, but stressful and impossible in our particular situation. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment on the north side of Chicago, near Lake Michigan, a promising place to stroll along the shore. O n a balmy summer morning, a week later, I walk the streets of Chicago carrying Henry in a long, green band of cloth wrapped around my torso.
He flails his arms and kicks his legs against my waist, studying passersby. The soft wrap becomes a projection screen on which others display their parenting views. Women offer warm smiles, sometimes clapping. Men stare, dressed in their sleek suits, with furrowed brows. The wrap and I become one. I wear Henry to prepare dinner. I wear him on the subway. I wear him to the DMV. In line, a young woman with fashionable short hair approaches me to discuss the wrap.
She speaks like we are members of a special baby-wearing club. Before moving on, she nods as if we are part of a movement. I nod back. At the Art Institute of Chicago, six months old and wrapped against my chest, Henry studies the museum visitors nearby, resting fingers on their chins. I saw it on my own face in a photograph taken on the day my son was born.
The mother tilts her head downward and stares into the eyes of the infant anchored in her lap. She resembles a classical sculpture more than a living person. Her large, rounded features provide a haven; her tender eyes underpin the playful baby, holding his foot. Her tethered soul sends blood rushing through my chest.
I learn that Picasso, in the early stages of the painting, included a father next to the mother and child — a father who stood over the boy, dangling a fish; a father who disappeared; a father covered with layers of paint as if he never existed. The warmth in my chest fades. I cannot offer a precise definition of a father, because there are as many types of fathers as creatures in Lake Michigan. I consider that many children equate fathers with absence.
Fathers absent by choice or from circumstances beyond their control. Fathers not known and children reaching for their ghosts. Henry drops his bottle and lunges from my lap to crawl toward his mother. Cara sets her work bag on the table and embraces him, their faces gleaming.
I sit down on the gray IKEA couch to regroup and brainstorm dinner plans. The odor from a diaper explosion lingers in the trashcan and our one-bedroom apartment appears to have been ransacked by thieves. The floor is a minefield of Cheerios, wooden blocks, and teether toys. During the bedtime routine, I retreat to the bathroom, a closet-sized, windowless space. While the fiberglass tub slowly fills with hot water, I shut the door and turn off the lights.
Pipes whistle in the walls, guiding water to rooms throughout the building.
Austerity budgets hit lone parents hardest – ESRI
Stale cigarette smoke creeps through the vents courtesy of my chain-smoking neighbor. As I lie down, ripples splash against the tub and back against the sides of my body in the pitch-black room. For a few minutes, I close my eyes as the water stills. When motivation arrives, I reach outside the tub for the iPad planted on the floor nearby, and rest it securely on my chest.
The screen flashes large, red block letters on an inky background. An endless menu appears, offering an escape. My scrolling index finger struggles to decide what to select. I should watch an award-winning foreign film. I should watch a documentary. I should watch a TED talk. I must not waste this opportunity. What I really want is to watch s television. You know you want to. At the tap of my finger, the glass screen flickers, revealing an explosion, lifting flames high in the remote Wisconsin woods.
Minutes later a deputy sheriff, first to arrive in the dense forest, approaches the fiery scene. He encounters a strange, invisible creature that scorches him to death. I swallow it like a pill. O n a breezy fall afternoon a few months later, during a visit to Whole Foods, we strike the samples. I navigate the aisles with Henry wrapped to my chest, maximizing our sampling potential.
The organic apples, tomatoes and squash sparkle in the florescent light. A blender buzzes in the corner. I pick up a black cherry, bite it in half, and lower it to his mouth like a mother bird. This moment ignites a genial surge in my heart, a memory I pledge to preserve, a memory I would not have expected a year ago. Despite knowing Whole Foods does not align with our budget, we eat a shameful amount.
At any moment, I am certain a manager will ask us to leave. If so, it will be worth it. As fall turns to winter and light fades to dark early in the evening, mysterious bites appear on our legs and arms. The exterminator examines the Ziploc bag containing the reddish-brown, oval parasites that crawled underneath a shared wall. He instructs us to vacate the apartment for several hours. After returning home, Cara bounces Henry to sleep in the bedroom.
The gas heat fails to keep up with single-digit temperatures. The Chicago winter, winds whipping and snow accumulating, shoves life indoors.
- In Postwar Britain, the Grim Face of Victory.
- Marlon Brando, on Location!
- Read This Book.
Slowly, our one-bedroom apartment transforms into a cell, difficult to leave after dusk. I withdraw to the bathtub. My iPad provides enough light to turn on the tub faucet and raise the water temperature. A bead of sweat forms on my forehead and rolls down the side of my face into the bathwater, while Fox Mulder, eccentric FBI agent and unexplained phenomena expert, enters the moonlit woods, racing to gather evidence from a crash site.
While a strange, invisible creature lurks in the remote woods, escaping government officials, Mulder finds himself captured in a makeshift military jail. She scoffs at his far-fetched explanation; he is frustrated with her naivety, but due to his confiscated camera there is no evidence to present her. Once again, the truth brushes against Mulder like a strange creature in the water before slipping away. Here is my truth: I am scared. I do not know how I am going to make it through the winter. I feel isolated. Beyond caring for my son, I have no energy or presence to offer the world.
I want to write, but a numb brain struggles to shift into gear. I want to enjoy the winter wonderland, but only see tundra. I scan the light over his tiny, perfect feet. No bugs. Next, I turn to our bed where my wife lightly snores. I wave the light over the mattress. I inspect the box springs and frame. A reddish-brown speck is wedged in a corner crease. I spread the crease. The speck crawls. I grab it with a tissue and drop it in a sandwich-size bag. I lie on the couch, resigned to the reality of bedbugs. Resigned to my isolated existence. Thoughts of failure spin in my mind.
I am failing to keep bugs from biting my wife and son in the night. I am failing to provide for my family. I am failing to keep them from breathing secondhand smoke in our bedroom. The old tapes, ingrained in my brain from a hyper-masculine upbringing, play over and over in my mind.
I disassemble the coffee grinder, remove the stale grounds, and wipe it clean with a small brush. Steam raises the lid off the silver kettle on the stovetop; water spews from the narrow, s-shaped spout. Henry, on my hip, waves at the hissing kettle. I remove it from the stove eye. I tare the scale. I grind the beans until they are reduced to a sand-like texture.
I pull the tray from the grinder and breathe the freshly ground beans. Henry leans his face over the tray and pretends to take a deep breath. His blue eyes widen. A burst of applause comes through the iPhone speaker. I pour steaming water over grounds, which rest in a red, ceramic funnel on top of a glass pot. I pour enough to saturate them, causing the water and grounds to dance together, creating a mushroom-shaped bubble that collapses after thirty seconds, the signal for more water. I pour four hundred grams of water in a slow, circular motion; rich, brown liquid drips into the pot.
Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. Responding to my request for paternity leave, my employer slides a thin piece of paper across the table, full of language resembling a legal contract. While reading the mechanical response, I shake my head at the decision to deny my request for two weeks of paid family leave.
After three years, it is clear they do not value me, much less my pregnant wife; nor do they want to offer support when we need it most — hundreds of miles from our family and support network. The coffee finishes dripping. I pour a steaming cup into a porcelain mug.
Henry fidgets as the steam rises. In the living room, while I sip my java, Henry rolls on the foam mat. Sharing five hundred square feetwith a nearly one-year-old cellmate is like living inside a pinball machine. Henry bounces off the changing table, couch, kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, and television stand. In the afternoon, we shift to the hallway; he crawls and knocks on random doors, while our thick-haired Sheltie dutifully follows. Together, we inspect doormats and plug-in deodorizers; we ride the elevator.
To escape, in the middle of winter with several feet of snow piling on the ground, we scurry to Super Foods, a corner grocery below our apartment. A gust of wind burns my cheeks, forcing Henry to tuck his head in my chest. He whimpers. Upon entering the store, Henry emerges with two brown ears and limbs swallowed by the fleece bear outfit my mother mailed from Tennessee. He trades smiles with the cashiers and the owner, an elderly Eastern European man who mesmerizes Henry with his accent.
Henry and I squeeze past a line of customers wrapped in long winter coats and waiting to purchase lottery tickets. We plod across the cereal aisle examining box covers, spending several minutes admiring Toucan Sam and Lucky the Leprechaun.
We land in the produce section. I quiz Henry. I hold potatoes, grapes, pineapples, broccoli and bananas in front of his face. At the cash register, I purchase a bunch of bananas to justify the trip. The elderly Eastern European man amuses Henry with facial expressions. After their exchange, I hustle back to our fifth-floor cell, leaning into the face-numbing wind, holding a bear and bananas.
In the apartment, I sit Henry on the kitchen floor, place the bananas in the fruit basket, and remove our heavy clothing. I open the refrigerator door, grab the water pitcher and pour a glass.
Henry crawls to the colorful containers resting on the wire shelving, while I slide to the floor and lean against the faux-wood kitchen cabinets and extend my legs into a V shape. The tile deadens the muscles in my ass. My sweatpants reveal stains ranging from coffee to breast milk to blueberry yogurt.
Artificial light beams from the refrigerator, while the brutal wind whips against the windows of our apartment. Henry hands me a head of broccoli and wobbles back toward the manufactured light. Leftovers from breakfast burritos fill my nostrils. In a bottom drawer, he discovers a bag of grapes, removes one, and turns toward me, grinning; he holds the grape at eye level as if turning a precious stone in the light.
I force the tired muscles in my face into a half-smile. My wife will not arrive home for another three hours. I am a shell of myself, beat down by a blue-eyed creature barely weighing twenty pounds. I do not know how to raise myself from the tile floor. I have the physical strength, but emotionally I am unable. I sit. Henry explores the refrigerator. I question my fitness to care for him. O n a Saturday morning a few days later, I walk Jolene along the shore. The edges of the dim, grey horizon blend with sheets of ice on Lake Michigan.
Crisp air blows off the ice, drying my eyes. Layers extend from the shore beginning with several feet of snow resting on solid ice, which alters to floating ice chunks packed together, bumping into thin sheets expanding to the skyline. My butt rests on an ice block posing as a bench near the sidewalk that wraps around the water. I have not smelled anything since the exhaust I inhaled crossing Lakeshore Drive.
I imagine the creatures beneath the coated lake, the freezing water driving them to the depths. Their movement limited. Their existence pressed downward. Down to the muddy bottom. I do not remember the last time happiness surfaced and shattered the expanding sheets over my heart. My emotions do not move; they dive to the recesses of my heart. I want someone to launch a large, jagged rock on to the frozen surface. I want someone to shatter the layers, create a hole large enough for my feelings to rise.
A gaping hole, so big, the person I once knew emerges from the dim waters. I will hand a rock to anyone willing to hurl it. I cannot do it myself. I stare at tropical images shuffling on the flat-screen television. Henry sleeps in the bedroom. The red line train hums northward, while a man digging in a dumpster sings in the alley.
Her shoulders sag and brow furrows. Second, we stay in Chicago, but I will need to get a flexible part-time job, continue caring for Henry, and we will squeak by financially. Third, we move to Tennessee and get closer to family and our support network. We sit on the couch. The decision made itself and provides relief despite being laced with failure.
We will return seeking balance after our world was turned upside down, seeking to recover from the shock of parenthood. The grueling routine of childcare will remain, but we hope a wider circle of support will ease the burden. At the end of spring, we pack boxes and a handful of friends load our belongings on a rental truck. We abandon our couch and bed in the alley to avoid transporting bedbugs. On a Sunday morning, Cara and Henry board a flight to Nashville, while I stack the final boxes in the truck, pressing them inward with my shoulder as I pull the door down and secure the latch.
I step into the cab, start the engine, and roll away from our apartment building. Our time in Chicago fades as life shoves us forward. I merge on to Lake Shore Drive. The road winds southward along the shore to exit the city. People walk the beach and bounce volleyballs and toss Frisbees. I imagine the creatures below the surface, no longer coated with ice, and wonder what life stirs. For the next seven hours, I will sit alone in the truck wondering what life stirs within myself. Wondering if my soul will thaw. Wondering if my true self will return.
We humans are far more complex than the news headlines and clickbait would have you believe. Let the Narratively newsletter be your guide. Love this Narratively story? Sign up for our Newsletter. Send us a story tip. Become a Patron. Follow us. How a brilliant scientist went from discovering a mother lode of treasure at the bottom of the sea to fleeing from authorities with suitcases full of cash.
Thompson had long insisted that he suffers from neurological problems and chronic fatigue syndrome, which impairs his memory, and that his meandering explanations were a symptom of the distress foisted upon him. Thompson was genuinely sickened and overwhelmed, however, and he found it extremely frustrating that nobody seemed to take his condition seriously. In the 30 years since, the weight of the find had upended partnerships, ended his marriage, and set loose the specter of greed.
What began as a valiant mission of science turned into something else entirely. O n September 11, , about 7, feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a set of glowing orbs moved smoothly through the darkness and illuminated the mysterious world below. That far down there are few currents, the water is close to freezing, and it is almost pitch black.
The only light typically comes from the bioluminescent creatures that float by like ghosts, but in this case the lights were from a six-ton, unmanned vessel. The Nemo , looking like an industrial freezer with two robotic arms, made a small adjustment to its thrusters and hovered above the scattered remains of a sunken ship.
Video of the wreckage was relayed to a vessel bobbing above, giving the crew — and the world — the first look at a ship whose location had stymied treasure hunters for generations. It was the SS Central America , a massive side-wheel steamship that sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in The find was remarkable for many reasons. The artifacts eventually recovered from the ship were a window into a bygone era and gave voice to the hundreds of people who were pulled into the abyss. But the discovery was also a spectacular victory for pocketbooks — the ship was carrying gold when it sank, and lots of it: coins, bars and nuggets of every size surrounded the wreck and covered its decks and rotting masts.
And that was only what the crew could see — somewhere in the remains were said to be between 3 and 21 tons of gold, a haul some experts valued at close to half a billion dollars. For Thompson, the Edisonian genius who masterminded the expedition, the discovery was the first salvo of what looked to be a long, impressive career.
He became an American hero, a mix of brains and daring in the tradition of the scientist-adventurers of yore. But Thompson was subjected to a legal hell storm as soon as he set foot on shore. Numerous people and companies were vying for their share of the gold, and the unending litigation was compounded by the lawsuits filed by investors who claimed Thompson had ripped them off.
In , long after the litigation had sidetracked his calling, Thompson went underground, allegedly taking with him suitcases full of cash and gold. Months later, Thompson was staying under an assumed name at a hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, trying to keep his faculties in check. He was unkempt, unwell and barely left his hotel room, as he had been on the run from federal authorities for the past two and a half years. From the witness stand in Columbus, Thompson disclosed startling information in a story already laden with tragedy and fortunes lost — and shed light on the mystery of millions in still-missing gold.
The pressure 8, feet below the sea is times greater than on the surface, and Tommy Thompson was squeezed by something even more intense for the better part of 30 years. He grew up in Defiance, Ohio, a small city in the northwestern corner of the state. He was always drawn to the water, and he enjoyed challenging friends to breath-holding contests. When he was a teenager, he bought and fixed up an amphibious car, and he loved pranking his friends by driving unsuspecting passengers into a lake. Rife with lore, the hunters spoke of ships sunken somewhere out in the ocean with more gold than could ever be spent.
However, nobody knew quite where to start looking, nor could they afford the technology necessary to undertake the search. Following his graduation from The Ohio State University with a degree in ocean engineering, Thompson went to work for the Battelle Memorial Institute, a prominent research lab in Columbus that has developed everything from kitchen appliances to nuclear weapons. There, he was able to work on deep-sea engineering projects, at one point developing technology that allowed the U. Thompson wanted to work exclusively in deep water but was routinely warned that such jobs were hard to come by.
So he began looking for other ways to pursue this heady scientific passion. It was actually the means to an end. One of the first orders of business was to find the perfect wreck to hunt. Thompson worked with Bob Evans, an equivalently intelligent polymath and professional geologist, to winnow down the list of candidate ships.
The Central America ferried passengers to and from California at the height of the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century. Six hundred people, and up to 21 tons of gold coming from California, were aboard the Central America when it disembarked to New York from a stopover in Cuba on September 3, Five days later, the ship found herself floundering in the middle of a terrifying hurricane. Passengers attempted a hour nonstop bucket brigade to keep the ship afloat, but the engines flooded and the storm ripped apart masts and sails.
The ship was doomed. The vessel let out a final tortured groan as it sank on the evening of September 12, sucking souls down in a horrifying vortex. The loss in gold was so profound that it was one of the factors precipitating the Great Panic financial crisis of Finding the Central America would be no easy matter — proportionally it would be like finding a single grain of sand in the floor plan of a four-bedroom house.
The key, Thompson knew, was to undertake a logical and hyper-organized search. Bob Evans used every known detail about the fateful voyage, including passenger and crew accounts of the weather as the ship sank, and worked with a search theory expert to determine that the wreck was likely somewhere in a 1,square-mile grid miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, in part of the ocean that was nearly a mile and a half deep.
Each square on the grid was assigned a number based on the likelihood that the ship had ended up there, and the idea was to trawl a sonar apparatus up and down the grid and take in-depth readings of the most promising results. Obsessed with his work, Thompson was said to be indifferent to food and sleep, dressed in a thrift store suit and hair afrizz. As a result, the high-powered investors waiting in their upper-floor offices and elegant conference rooms were often skeptical of his bewildering presence.
But time after time, Thompson would speak to them reasonably, thoroughly and intelligently. He was realistic about the low probability of success, outlined various contingencies, and emphasized that the mission offered the chance for the investors to participate in a journey of good old American discovery. Investors soon found themselves chuckling in delight at the audacious fun of the project and the inspiring confidence they felt in Thompson. Wayne Ashby told the Columbus Dispatch in Thompson was the head of both.
Under the aegis of these companies, Thompson outfitted a search vessel, put together a crew, and developed a seven-ton remotely operated vehicle capable of withstanding deep-ocean conditions. They also conducted various other experiments useful to the recovery, such as purposely giving Evans the bends. As Gary Kinder writes in Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, the deepest an unmanned submersible had gone previous to this was 6, feet.
That vehicle had been difficult to control, with only one arm that could perform rudimentary functions. The study found that gender differences were most pronounced during the austerity budgets , but that subsequent budgets have meted out their impact with a more even hand across the genders. The ESRI said the differences come down to the economic activity of the genders, because women are more likely than men to be lone parents, to be out of the labour force and to benefit from child-related supports.
The figures show that just 1 per cent of men are stay-at-home parents compared to 29 per cent of women. Moreover, little difference was found in terms of how men and women who both work have fared. This compares with a respective decline of 4. Men in work fared the best, as their disposable incomes increased by 1 per cent over the period from , compared with a fall of 0.
Retired men also saw austerity budgets have a more benign impact on their pocket than retired women, with the former seeing their disposable incomes decline by 0. While welfare benefits such as child benefit and family supplements were cut in successive austerity budgets, a compounding factor has been that welfare payments failed to keep pace with inflation during the recovery period. The budget, for example, increased the tax credit that stay-at-home parents are eligible for.
Name That Book cont. Part II | Romance - from historical to contemporary | LibraryThing
Underlying these immediate effects was a deeper transformation. New York committed, above all else, to making itself attractive to business and investors. In one shift that now feels particularly portentous, in a government agency that had roots in low-income housing turned instead to commercial real estate, giving a sweetheart deal for a flashy midtown hotel to a brash young developer.