Monday, November 10, 2014

I am (still) getting old

In the last few years I've looked for the defining moment when I officially got old and the good times officially ended. After much searching, I believe I've found that moment. It was the moment I had to buy this:
That's right: a nose hair and ear hair trimmer. Honestly, when I was younger I imagined that by the time I turned 32 I would have more money and less nose hair, but here we are.
Getting older used to freak me out, but now I've made peace with it and I kind of enjoy it. I feel myself getting more curmudgeonly with each day.

I balk at prices. I say things like, "This costs how much?" and "Let me see that receipt!" and "Didn't this use to come with more?" A close cousin of price-balking is cheapness. I just bought $11 shoes on clearance that I don't like at all. They're ugly, but they match my shirt which is covered in baby spit up and my pants which are covered in toddler grime.

I criticize what people who are younger than me are wearing, like, "Why is everyone in yoga pants all the time? Like, you just got out of yoga class, or you're perpetually on your way to yoga class? I don't buy it."

I've also said, "Everyone is always texting me. Why don't people ever call anymore?"

I have problems with some new music. Whenever we're listening to the radio in the car, I'm always raging: "They're not even trying with these lyrics! They're just rhyming things! I wonder how many copies 'downloaded.'"

When you get married you get someone to grow old with, literally. My wife and I were driving and there were several songs in a row about "live like we've only got tonight" and my wife snapped. She said, "Why are all the songs about this cliched nonsense? Why doesn't somebody write a song that's like, 'plan for your future, open up a checking account and start building credit' or something like that!"

I looked at her, and in that moment I realized that we are going to be an amazing old couple.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Birth Story

My wife had Baby #2. She labored like a champ for a day and a night and I just want to mention that for most of the time a woman is in labor in a hospital, there's no doctor there. The nurses say there's a doctor there, but there isn't. They say things like, "The doctor says to increase your pitocin," but it's an illusion, like the Wizard of Oz. The doctor might have called on the phone or whatever, but they're nowhere near that hospital. They might roll out of bed and drive over in their Mercedes if things get wild, but until then: we all know there's no doctor.

When a doctor did finally arrive she congratulated my wife on all of her hours of labor and announced that the baby would need to be ripped out aka "delivered via cesarean section."


When we were in the operating room the OB and her staff we're just talking away about the stupidest things, such as: "Have you tried that new burger place? You can get a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on top, and then a chocolate milkshake with bacon bits in it.”

I wanted to shout, “Can you idiots please focus!"

Right here I wrote some more details about the c-section operation, but it's just a drag so I edited it out, which is not to say I'm not glad my son is here, because I am, even though he still looks like wrinkly old man. Through the whole bloody ordeal my main thought was: There has to be a less violent way to make people.

My wife was upbeat and serene and it got me thinking. Moms go through all that pain for their child, who they don't even know. He could grow up to be a murderer or a lawyer or a Republican for all they know, but they do it anyway. That level of selflessness and sacrifice blows my mind.

Welcome to the world, Baby #2. I will never forget the day you were born.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Toddler Stand Up OR What's the deal with parents?

My son likes to make my wife and I laugh. He gets the biggest thrill when we double up laughing at something he says or does, and now that he's getting older he's developing his own sense of humor and he's like a very small, very messy comedian.

He tells a lot of jokes that only a toddler gets (maybe I just don't get it or he's ahead of his time). The punchline to almost every joke is: "And then I run away!" A typical Junior joke goes something like this: "We play at the library toddler gibberish my friend Mark toddler gibberish then I run away!" He's got a million of 'em, always with the same punchline, and we laugh our heads off.

There's also some observational humor where he's riffing on my wife and me. The other day he said, "'Go potty, go potty.' I already go potty, daddy! What?" He says that little "What?" after each of these type of jokes, like Seinfeld's "What's the deal with...?" Another joke is, "No more juice? I want juice. I like juice. What?"

And now he has started to incorporate impressions into his act with dangerous results. My wife is 8 months pregnant and he went up to her and stuck out his little three-year-old belly, made an angry face and said, "I have a baby! RAWR!"

My wife was not amused, but not being pregnant myself I found the impression to be very funny.

Well kid, I guess you're not for everyone.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Junior issues an order OR The attitude stage

We take our son to all of the regularly scheduled medical checkups and our pediatrician was always talking about developmental milestones, but there is one fairly significant milestone that he never bothered to mention. Here today I will go over it with you so you are not totally blindsided like we were. 

According to Science, a child's developmental schedule looks something like this:
  • Two months - Coos, makes gurgling sounds
  • Six months - Makes sounds to show joy and displeasure
  • One year - Says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • Two years - Says sentences with 2 to 4 words
  • Three years - Develops an attitude
That's right: "Attitude." It includes having strong opinions but becoming upset when others also have opinions. For example, when driving in the car and listening to the radio your toddler might exclaim, "I don't like this song," or when you're skipping a song he may yell, "I like that song!"

Their default answer is "NO!" Not "No, thank you," or even just "No." My son doesn't even listen to the question before saying no. For instance: "Do you want to get some ice cream?" His response: "NO!" (beat) "Um, yes."

They no longer put up with being told what to do. In the morning my son is sad when I go to work and asks, "Daddy, you go to work?" But when I'm home and I tell him he can't watch Cars a second time because once a day is plenty he says, "Daddy, you go to work."

There is also some entitlement that toddlers develop. The other day he wandered in from watching Cars, looked at my wife and I, hard at work in the kitchen, and said, "Grilled cheese," and then he wandered back out to watch more Cars. Like he was in a restaurant placing an order. If it hadn't been so cute, I would've been furious.

When I was young we would ask my mom what was for dinner and she'd say something like, "It doesn't matter because we're having what I made and you're gonna eat it and if you don't like it you can get a job and buy your own groceries and make your own dinner!"

And I used to think, "This woman has lost her mind."

But now I understand all too well.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wives and Dads in no particular order OR Father's Day list

I wanted to start off by telling you that I've been a father for three years now, and can I just say that my wife is CRUSHING IT with the Father's Day Presents. Here are exhibits A, B, and C.
Next, I wanted to give a brief mention about my own dad. First, as a young child I idolized him. Then as an adolescent he became impossibly lame in my eyes. Now that I've experienced the horrors of parenting firsthand, he has now grown to mythic proportions in my mind and become a kind of superhero/saint to me. I guess that's the way it goes.

Here are some things that he does that I aspire to as well: 

1. He never panics, and he's always calm. I've never seen him say anything like, "Oh crap everything is super hard and terrible! What are we gonna do?," which is something I say almost daily since we had a child.
2. He can build or repair anything.
3. He has Popeye forearms and can beat anyone in arm wrestling. (Seriously. Lots of dudes have tried.)

4. He treats my mom well. Not "like a Queen" or any of that rubbish, just like an equal and his best friend.
5. He's humble: you'll never catch him bragging.
6. He has a good sense of humor and can laugh at himself.
7. He has bicycling prowess:

                   A. Riding a bike backwards.

                   B. Riding a "wheelie" all the way down the street.

And thanks to the Code of Manliness or whatever, I don't have to say any of this to him. It's a good system.

Happy Father's Day everyone!

Monday, June 2, 2014

He's the boss and is not going to take any of your parental crap

Junior is all potty trained now, and oddly enough he likes to go in public places. He also likes to tell everyone in the bathroom about his accomplishments.

He likes to go if he gets bored or wants to get out of doing something. He knows we will instantly drop everything and spring into action when he says, "I pooping." Consequently we have to discern between real bathroom requests and fake ones, which is a dangerous game. A false positive means I run the bathroom and for no reason, but a false negative means that I will be cleaning out some toddler underwear.

We were at a restaurant the other night and he asked to go. Things were going pretty well and then disaster struck.

He had finished going and I washed both of our hands and handed him some paper towels. I turned around to grab some paper towels for myself and when I turned back I saw that my son was headed directly for a urinal. "Don't touch it!" I yelled, which was pointless because an almost-three-year old will do stuff you ask him not to do just to show you that he's the boss and is not going to take any of your parental crap.

Here I shall pause to give you an example: If we pull something out of the oven and say, "Don't touch it, it's hot," my son will inevitably say, "No, it's cold," and then make every effort to touch whatever it is that will burn the crap out of him. This is the type of child I'm dealing with.

So before I could stop him he plunged both hands into the urinal I yelled "NOOOOOOOOO!" which startled him, and he pulled his hands out. Then - for no discernable reason - he touched his dripping hands to his face. It all happened so fast I couldn't stop it.

If someone had come into the bathroom at that moment they would have seen a man frantically trying to give a toddler a HAZMAT shower in a small sink, the top half of the toddler covered in a frothy layer of foamy antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer with the toddler howling bloody murder.

So please welcome the newest member of our family: Hepatitis.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Shane and I go to see the Matches

Midterms are coming up and my classmates were talking about pounding energy drinks to stay awake while typing up large papers. I told them that I try to steer clear of such things because I had a bad experience.

In my senior year of college my roommate Shane and I left our small college town and set out on a road trip to see The Matches play in Boise, Idaho. On our way out of town we stopped by the grocery store to grab some snacks. We also bought a whole bunch of energy drinks on clearance. This is where it all went wrong, of course. Name brand energy drinks are sketchy at best, so a generic energy drink on clearance was clearly a bad idea. But we were in a hurry, and money was always tight in college.

We drove the four and a half hours to Boise without incident. The show was awesome and it was pretty late when we left the venue. We stopped by a food truck and got some tacos and then jumped in the car. Our room temperature energy drinks were waiting for us and we pounded them down on the way out of town.

About 30 minutes later, my face started to tingle and then go numb. I couldn't feel my cheeks, nose or forehead, and my lips were starting to go numb as well. I cautiously looked over at my friend and saw that his eyes were very wide.

Me: "Is you face going numb?"

Shane: "Yes! What's going on?"

Me: "Are we having strokes?"

Shane: "Both of us at the same time? In our early 20s? I wouldn't think so."

Me: "Did we get food poisoning from those tacos?"

Shane: "Don't be racist. I think it might've been the energy drinks."

We drove on, debating what we should do. Pull over and ask for help? It was 4 a.m. in rural Idaho, and those folks love their guns, so even if we did get someone to come to the door without blowing us away, what would we ask them? "Can we come in and lie down and sleep off some bad energy drinks?" Maybe there was a doctor's office or hospital we could stop at? Oh yeah, rural Idaho. By this time, our lips had gone fully numb, so we couldn't talk anymore so we just drove the rest of the way in terrified silence thinking every mile would be our last.

We eventually got back to our apartment and slept it off with no lasting effects, but the whole experience was scary, man.

And that is why I haven't touched an energy drink since.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Advice" for Future Dads

The other day I was talking to an expectant father and I said something stupid and conversational like, "Are you guys all ready for the baby?" (as if one can ever be ready for something like a baby) and he said "Yeah, man, we're all set. We're just going to, like, love it and stuff."

My first thought was: Don't laugh in his face, that's rude. My second thought was: This guy is not nearly as scared as he should be.

Cocky as he is, I get why he thinks that. There's no way to really prepare yourself for child birth and having a baby. You can read up on it, but I think a good rule of thumb is that approximately 95% of books and blogs about parenting (including this one) are total rubbish. You can talk to your friends who have already had kids, but the 95% rule also applies there. Even if you do find some source of pure parenting wisdom, there is no amount of abstract words spoken into the air or lying impotently on a page that can prepare someone for the miracle/disaster that is having a baby.

Basically, you just have to let parenthood come and crush you like some kind of avalanche and try not to lose your mind. However, I've thought of a few ways that the expectant father can prepare:

First of all, hire some people to beat up your wife. Have them really kick the crap out of her. If you think there's a risk she might have a cesarean (and there is because most docs are pretty liberal with the scalpel) you can ask your hirelings to bring a switchblade and cut her up. Then duct tape yourself to a chair so you can't move and then watch helplessly as all this violence transpires against the person you love most and know that there is absolutely nothing in the universe you can do to help. That's good preparation for the labor and delivery process.

Next, don't sleep for at least six months. To help you do this, get an IV that constantly drips adrenaline and fear into your bloodstream, and then get an alarm that is the sound of a miniature person screaming bloody murder and set it to go off every hour or so. When you do fall asleep, let it be anxious, fitful sleep tortured by stress nightmares.

Finally, go out driving in a blizzard on black ice and be sure to wear a blindfold. As you spin out of control and possibly to your death, savor the feeling and get used to it. From the moment we first stepped into the hospital until now, almost three years later, there has never been even one moment where I've thought, "Everything is under control." NEVER.

Simply put: A baby will ruin your life. I don't mean forever, I just mean the life you currently know that includes sleeping in, coming and going as you please, and having spending money is OVER. You get a brand new life, and some would say it's a better life, myself included, but it bears not even a passing resemblance to your old life.

The only true advice I have for an expectant father is this: Good luck, sucker.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Run outside naked into the snow and ice and see how much you like it

Fun fact: You can run three times more errands by yourself than you can with a toddler. Did you know that? For example, by myself I can do the all the grocery shopping, go to the post office and go to the bank in the time it takes me just to walk to mailbox with my toddler.

He loves to run errands with me. So I have to take him along, or else leave him weeping and wailing with my wife, and then have to face her after I come back.

The main problem I am having is that running errands with a toddler includes getting him dressed, a problem compounded by winter weather. He can shed all of his clothes in under five seconds, and it doesn't matter how many layers or how long it took to get him dressed, it always takes him only five seconds to be stark naked just at the time we need to run out the door. It goes like this:

As I put his clothes on for the second, third or nineteenth time I try to reason with him: "But it's cold outside. You'll freeze and die if we don't put your coat and hat on." But we all know that trying to reason with a child of any age is pointless.

He puts up such a fight that one day I finally snapped and said, "Fine! Run outside naked into the snow and ice and see how much you like it!"

I wouldn't really let him of course.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Craigslist Murder Band

Since we've moved I miss my old band and I miss playing shows, so I went on Craigslist and found a band who needs a guitarist.

We set up a time to "jam," which is essentially a band blind date where you go and play some music together and kind of try it out to see if you play well together. But it's Craigslist, so it could really just be a murderer trying to lure me into his murder trap. Maybe it's a serial killer who preys on lonely musicians in their early thirties who want to relive the glory days. I don't like being murdered, but I do I like playing music. This is the dilemma one runs into any time one uses Craigslist: Cheap couch or grisly death? That couch looks pretty sweet in the pictures, and it's only $25! I'm gonna risk it.

I tried finding a band on Craigslist a couple of months ago. I wasn't murdered, obviously, but it didn't work out. They were all in their early 20s and were like, "We're gonna practice three times a week and play shows every Friday and Saturday and we'll all pitch in money for some studio time and buy a tour van and we're gonna get signed and make it big!"

If I had met those dudes ten years ago, I would've said, "I'm in!" without hesitation. However, at 31 all I could think was: "The music industry doesn't really work like that anymore and I have a wife and kid and I'm a full-time student and I don't have time/money/energy for this."

They were also smoking copious amount of weed, which is fine for them. However, I'm 31 with responsibilities and I can't exactly be smoking weed on a weeknight when I have to go home and put my son to bed. I don't need him asking me, "Daddy, why do you smell like pine cones?" 

I had to tell them that I had a great time on our band date but they were not my type and I was just not interested, which is always awkward.

So I'm gonna try it again with this new band and hopefully it will be fun. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I'm dead. Please report me as a missing person to the Cleveland Heights Police Department.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Super Bowl DISS

The Super Bowl is coming up and I've been having this fantasy about buying a few minutes of ad time and just listing off a few people who have done me wrong over the years and insulting them on national TV. I don't follow football but I do know the Super Bowl is, like, the biggest TV event in all of America and pretty much everyone watches it.

Not that many people have done me wrong, mind you. Just a handful, and in most cases I've been able to stop being angry and forget about it. However, there are a few times where someone made me feel stupid or powerless on purpose, and those are the people who deserve a Super Bowl diss.

All I want to do is go on camera and name them by name and say something like, "John Doe, YOU SUCK." That's all. Besides the satisfaction I think I would get from saying it, I also like the idea of them sitting in their living room watching the game with their family all around eating chips and salsa when they hear me say it. I picture their family all turning to look at them like, "What did you do to drive this guy to pay all this money to insult you on TV?" Or maybe they'd just say, "That guy's crazy."

Mostly I'm joking about this whole thing, but maybe it would make me feel better. Or maybe I'd feel hollow inside and regret it. Either way, I'd need a lot of money for the ad and to hire some lawyers to tell me if I'd get sued for libel, so I won't be able to do this anytime soon.

They say the best revenge is living well, but I'm still a broke student, so until I start living well I'll just have to make do with Super Bowl insult revenge fantasies.