Category Archives: Things I Like

My Daughter’s Birth Story

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My wife had been saying for weeks that she felt like the baby was just going to fall out of her at any moment. And unlike me, she isn’t one for her hyperbole, so I mostly believed her. We often argue about the timeline of our older son’s birth. If you ask me, we barely made it in time to the hospital, and if you ask her, we were there with two hours to spare. She claims that the more I tell his story, the less true it becomes, and yet I believe there can be many truths when telling stories.

However, with our daughter, we agree there is only one truth — she basically did fall out.

Our son Brian had barreled his way into the world, over a week early, in a spiffy two hour labor in which he kicked and screamed the entire way out. So we weren’t quite sure what to make of things when baby Caroline was still hanging out in there two days past her due date.  Pregnancy is three trimesters, but I think the last two weeks should be carved out and given its own special designation. At this point, most of the wife’s interpersonal communication with other humans consisted of uncomfortable glances. She no longer spoke in sentences — she just sort of vocalized her pain in long groans. Getting up from the couch looked something like a teenage driver attempting a three point turn in a semi-truck.

The wife had one emotion left in life — it was BABY GET OUT NOW.  They should make a baby and mom doll set called Baby Get Out Now. I can imagine the cool 1980s commercials for it. The jingle could be like “Mama feels like cow! Baby Get Out Now! By Mattel!” I’m also imagining a massive recall when the motor system that pushes baby out malfunctions and accidentally starts scalping kids. Actually, DON’T IMAGINE THAT. My second-born is three weeks old now and I haven’t been getting much sleep.

In the meantime, the wife had nothing going. No contractions, no excitement. We’d drop our first kid off at pre-school and go on dates to walk the mall and eat spicy food. Not much happened except for a stop at the candy store where I accidentally dropped thirty dollars on bulk candy. I’m still a little horrified. Thirty dollars can buy you a nice dinner out, a new pair of jeans, one of those pimped out Paw Patrol playsets… or you know, just a big ass bag of candy if you’re me.

Finally, on April 5th, contractions started. They were fifteen minutes apart and never really increased throughout the day, but the wife called the doctor anyway. They asked us to come in to check out how things looked, and we took our hospital bags and the three pound personal reserve of candy just in case. Wife: “Are you just going to be standing around eating candy while I’m in labor?” Me: “No, of course not.” (But inside, secretly, yes.)

At two o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived at the doctor office, casually, calmly, and generally unaware that the timeline was about accelerate into hyperspace.

Here’s a picture of what happened next:

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2:10pm — Despite not really having very noticeable or regular contractions, the OB checks the wife, announces that she was 5-6cm and 100% effaced, and we needed to go to the hospital right away to have the baby.

2:11pm — The wife stands up, still undressed from the OB check, and her water broke in dramatic fashion. It was the sound of a balloon popping and then Niagara Falls.

My wife always makes fun of me for how I react in sudden situations — which is, I REACT SWIFTLY on a bizarre autopilot. For instance, when her water broke with our son (at home, in bed, at 4am), my reaction was to SECURE THE DOG IMMEDIATELY. I’m still not sure what I thought our tiny fifteen pound poodle mix was going to do — she was nestled comfortably in bed with us — but I yanked her up, marched downstairs, and gated her off in the dining room like I was executing a military drill.

This time, my reaction was to just RUN AND SECURE HELP. I ran out of the room shouting for help. I imagined the place would go into code red lockdown as alarms sounded and a team of doctors might assemble and race down the hall to tend to my wife.  Instead they looked up puzzled at this frantic shouting person, and then started smiling and laughing. I sheepishly walked back into the room with my wife who was wondering why I’d just took off.

2:15pm — We’re making our way out to the parking lot, arguing over whether she should walk the 50 feet to the car or not.  Her: “I’m totally fine, I can walk on my own.” Me: I can’t believe you declined the wheelchair! You can’t walk. I’m getting the car. Stand here! Her: (Totally used to me, resigns herself to waiting on the curb.) Me: (Runs to car like that kid in your high school who ran to all his classes in between bells.)

2:25pm — Making our way to the hospital across the street. Everybody is walking in slow motion across the parking lot and I’m starting to feel like I’m playing Mario Kart in real life dodging these agonizing objects.

2:30pm — Wife dropped off at curb, I consider my first homicide as still more people leisurely stroll at the crosswalk, car is finally parked, more awkward running, wife is still perfectly fine and normal, asks me to take my anxiety medication.

2:35pm — The next big boss battle: the woman at the check-in desk. I pace nervously while she takes 300 years to check in the person in front of us. I use my intimidating staring superpower to make her a little uncomfortable, but it does not make her shuffle through papers or answer phone calls any faster.  The wife yells at me under her breath that I have the world’s most stressful energy that is transferable to EVERYTHING.

(Let it be known that the wife has considerably changed her story and tone in hindsight, agrees with me that the check in person was slow, that she had several intense contractions while we were waiting, and that she began to worry she might have the baby in the waiting area.

3:00pm — We’re finally in a room. It’s shift change and everyone is introducing themselves to us, but then telling us that they won’t be around by the time the baby comes. I try to be helpful and talk the wife through the contractions which are suddenly painful, but I’m more useful at making phone calls and arrangements to pick up our other kid from school.

3:15 — Our doula makes some sort of record speed time in driving around the beltway at the beginning of rush hour. Finally the wife has the calming, helpful presence she needs (and really, it’s the calming, helpful presence I need as well.)

3:30 — The doctor comes in to meet us, but again, because it’s  shift change, she tells us that someone else will come back to check progress around 6pm.

3:35 — I start texting family telling them the baby will be here sometime this evening. The doula is trying to set up her gear like music and mood lighting, but the contractions are coming without pause now.

3:55 — Randomly, with zero warning, the wife seriously feels like pushing and tells me to go get ALL THE PEOPLE. I get to use that RUN AND SHOUT move I practiced earlier. In this case though, the crack team of doctors and nurses does assemble and race down the hall.

3:59 — Everyone finally makes it into the room and starts getting in the birthing riot gear. The wife is standing next to the bed, when suddenly she shouts that the baby is crowning.

4:00 — Nobody is ready. The doctor is still putting on the hat and gloves. Suddenly they’re all on top of the wife trying to push her back into the bed into birthing position. She doesn’t make it into the bed all the way, but instead ends up in a weird diagonal position with people holding her down while the doctor jumps in just in time to catch the baby, just 90 minutes after we’d casually went to the doctor office for a check-up.

Cut to me, standing there holding my head, holding my breath, really not believing that just happened that fast. The wife and I didn’t even really see the baby’s face for the first fifteen minutes as we processed WTF just happened. As we began to settle down, the wife lifted the baby from her chest and we looked into our daughter’s beautiful face for the first time. It was awesome!

Caroline Ann was born a “blue ribbon” 7 lbs, 4oz. That’s what they called her — “a blue ribbon baby,” and I’m not sure why I enjoy hokey little nurse sayings like that, but I do. We’re happy, in love, and now a family of four!

 

 

Let’s Deconstruct This Craigslist Ad

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We’re having a second kid at some point IN THE NEXT TWELVE DAYS. It’s been an intense winter of one parent being sick every weekend (thanks kid #1 newly-adjusted to preschool), cleaning out our “hoarder room/spare bedroom” to make it a child’s bedroom, and just generally trying to survive life with a nearly three-year-old boy and pregnant wife. As such, I’ve been in a hibernation from writing. But there is one thing that can pull me out of my hibernation.

A CRAIGSLIST AD FOR SEVEN TRASHBAGS OF ALF DOLLS.

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As an old friend messaged me yesterday, “With everything going on right now, I thought maybe a craigslist lot of stuffed Alfs could make it onto your priority list.”

Tempting. An entire documentary could be made about me contacting this person, going to their house, loading seven trashbags of Alf dolls into my trunk, and coming home to my wife who is about to give birth literally any minute. I would seriously win every prize on the indie film circuit.

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Like I said. Tempting. Instead, we’ll all just have to settle for a short deconstruction of everything PERFECT about this ad.

  1. (Pictured are about 2 bags worth.)
  2. There’s about 25 ALFs shown, so there’s likely a rough estimate of 90 ALFs total. At $80 for the lot, it’s about .88 cents per ALF. This lot is PRICED TO MOVE.
  3. “Would be great for claw machines,homeless children, or daycare’s at naptime to cuddle with.”
  4. Part of the documentary would be about me attempting to make this person’s final wishes for their ALF collection come true. I could go around handing out the ALFs to homeless kids in the city like some sort of ALF Mother Theresa.
  5. “a bit so a small shot of Fabreeze would freshen them right up.”
  6.  “Fabreeze”
  7.  Would it?
  8. According to the internet the best way to clean plush dolls is clean them with a dish soap/water solution. Gently rub the entire surface of the toy with a rag soaked in the solution. Next, gently rinse the solution off the toy with warm water and pat dry. Or just set the whole pile on fire.
  9. The couch! The wallpaper! The carpet!
  10.  If you’re interested, here’s the direct link to contact: https://baltimore.craigslist.org/tag/6052239808.html

 

 

 

Pieces of Glass

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When the wife and I got married, one of the gifts we received was a bottle of wine. It was not a fancy bottle of wine — not the type that’s aged in special oak barrels or hand-chosen by a sommelier — just the type that was sitting on the rack in the liquor store, next to a case of Miller Genuine Draft 64 and maybe a cardboard cut-out of a football post. Still, it felt like worth saving for a special occasion. It was a wedding bottle of wine, after all.

We were not yet adult enough to own a hanging wine rack, and this was even before we were adult enough to purchase the $16 wire-frame wine holder that you find in a Target. So I placed the bottle on top of the refrigerator.  Counter space is so common and lowly, gathering the day’s cereal bowls and bills to pay. The top of the refrigerator was one of the few places in the house that seemed to hold prestige, high above everything else.

I failed to realize that each time you open and close your refrigerator, it moves a little. And as many times as I open the refrigerator each day, (often hoping wondrous, tastier food might appear magically) the wine bottle began its ascent to the edge. A few days before our honeymoon, the bottle fell onto the counter, shattering into hundreds of glass shards.

I don’t know what it is, but whenever a glass breaks, I always find it deeply unsettling. Maybe it’s some primitive reflex over a fear of blood. Indeed, the deep burgundy wine pooled and splattered all over the counter tops and floor, leaving behind what looked like a grisly crime scene. We picked up the big shards easily enough, before discovering the smaller bits of broken glass were more insidious and more hidden. We continued to find them for weeks afterwards.

We had been cooking dinner at the time it happened, and at first we tried to act like everything was normal. Oh, it’s just a broken bottle. The bottle didn’t fall anywhere near the skillet on the stove. It’s fine. Everything is fine.

It’s fine, even as we tip-toed around glass shivs and switchblades. It’s fine, as soaked up the pools of blood with our good towels, giving up on our pathetic attempts with paper towels and napkins. It’s fine, as we served the dinner and began to eat it.

Then the wife began to feel paranoid about accidentally swallowing glass. “You know I have that weird phobia about internally bleeding to death,” she said. I rolled my eyes, and my teeth crunched down on something that felt like glass.

We did not sleep well that night. We went to Disney World for our honeymoon a few days later, where neither one of us went into hemorrhagic shock at the Magic Kingdom in front of Mickey and Minnie and Pluto and Goofy. Although I imagine their handlers would have just quickly whisked them away to an area of the park where the tourists weren’t bleeding out.

Five years later, we’re still here. And more bottles have fallen, as we’ve lost loved ones, endured hardships, endured pain, sat awake long nights with a sick toddler, argued, made mistakes, screwed up. And it bothers you. It unsettles you. But it’s just glass. Just pieces of glass. And sometimes you find another shard, another bit, another fragment. Something more to compartmentalize, something more to process. Here and there. You clean it up. You move on. You go to Disney World.

We own a hanging wine rack now. We’ve grown up enough by now and I’m quite proud of it. It’s an expensive wooden one that also holds all of our stemware. Despite not being very handy, I anchored and hung it myself, and it’s either holding up just fine or it’s a guillotine about to let go. That’s the part I’ve never enjoyed about life — the uncertainty — but we’re optimists and we have four bottles of wine on it, being saved for some special occasion.

Greetings From the Other Side

Greetings from the other side of this goddamn bullshit depression over the fucking shit-awful election and country.

“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” – Mark Twain

Alright, got that off my chest.

I don’t know where to start, but all of my news is so impressive and awesome that it’s absolutely necessary to write it in ALL CAPS.

1. I HAVE MIKE TYSON’S AUTOGRAPH ON THE MOST AWESOME PICTURE EVER

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This is my absolute favorite video game in life, but it was especially important to me as a kid. This basically completes my childhood. My good friend actually won this at an auction and gave it to me. He sort of owed me though, because I took him with me to meet his lifetime hero…

2) I MET BRIAN WILSON (of the Beach Boys!)

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Maybe two people out there remember, but a while back I whored out my blog and Twitter trying to force people to watch Brian Wilson videos so that I might win a contest to go to his Pet Sounds concert, meet him, and get some stuff signed. I hated begging for ad revenue clicks, but guess what… I actually won. I named my first-born son Brian after the man; his music means that much to me. The show was great, and the meet and greet was intense and nerve-wracking. It lasted about 3.2 seconds — they herd you through quickly, possibly to prevent the somewhat-fragile Brian Wilson from having a panic attack himself. I told him that I named my kid after him, and he replied thanks. I’m not sure if he really registered what I said —  the stilted, awkward “thanks” seemed more of an automatic safe-word that he said to everyone — but I was really just honored to be there and say my thank-you to him.

Plus I got some great things to pass on to my son, Brian. Being a parent is the weirdest thing. As a record collector, this is basically end game. Two iconic, life-changing records signed by the artist. And yet I’m just thinking, hey, maybe one day my kid will actually be impressed with me.

3) I HAVE AN ARCADE CABINET IN MY BASEMENT

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Same friend. He won this. We’re having a bizarre winning-streak between the two of us. It’s a 60-in-1 multicade. He actually had absolutely no place to keep a gigantic full-size arcade cabinet, but he entered the contest — because it wasn’t like he was really going to win, right? So it’s currently living on loan in my basement: another  childhood-completion dream come true for me. And a hoarder-circle-completion nightmare come true for my wife.

4) I WON THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I won playing fantasy football on Fanduel in Week 4. Thank you Matt Ryan to Julio Jones. I plan to pay off my car. I haven’t done so yet because I’m a little superstitious. Everyone knows that cars become self-aware the precise moment you pay them off and the check-engine light comes on.

5) MOST IMPORTANT, BEST NEWS. WE’RE HAVING A BABY GIRL.

Best for last. We’re having a baby girl in April. My son is two right now, so they’ll be great ages together. I’m looking forward to seeing what having a girl is like. I feel like I’ve gotten such a special gift to find out what having one of each is. We found out way back in July, which feels like a different century now. It was sort of surprising and unexpected. We’re donezo now. (Do teenagers still say that? I have a feeling they don’t.) Family complete though.

I’d love to start writing again more about family life and the hilarity of it all. It’s in the cards, if I can beat past the bullshit in my head.

Man, I’m looking forward to Christmas. Last night I had this idea for a series of blog posts… My Two Year Old’s Attention Span for Christmas Classics. The kid can watch hours of Paw Patrol like a zombie. He can actually read several words and do some simple math, even though he’s not even two and a half. His concentration levels are beyond impressive. But the moment I put on an “old-timey” cartoon? He’d rather eat broccoli.

Will the kiddo make it through the Cricket on the Hearth before he pulls the dog’s tail and challenges her to a creature duel? Will I even make it through? Will the wife stay awake past the first two minutes? WTF EVEN IS CRICKET ON THE HEARTH?

It’s gotta be more entertaining than the never-ending political hell we’re in. I’ll try to do my part and keep you slightly distracted. It will make me feel worthwhile.

Stay tuned.

Some People Brag About Running Marathons…

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Some people brag about running marathons. I brag about fitting an entire toddler car bed in my car. It’s a thing of beauty. Not the car bed — that thing is a porch pick up off a sketchy Facebook yard sale group, with scratches and missing stickers, that was hastily, ominously wiped down with a Clorox bleach wipe before I got there.

Nope, it’s a thing of beauty that it fit in my car, with my sixty-five (luscious) cubic feet of cargo space. No one is going to give me an award for this even though it’s one of those small, weird things in life you feel you should get an award for. My dented gas-efficient Hyundai has as much cargo space as a mid-size SUV, and I ate my Wheaties for breakfast. It just feels good.

So here I am posting it to my blog. My long-neglected blog that I still love and intend to write millions of words into soon, one day, because lots is happening and I have lots to say.

I also lost two pounds this morning even though I ate 78 fun-sized candy bars this week. This Halloween was my favorite ever. I’ve had a tenuous, pained relationship with Halloween ever since my mom passed three years ago. When your mom is dying and getting dialysis on Halloween, it sticks with you and ruins everything forever, but then you have a kid and he brings joy back in bits and pieces.

This was the first year he trick-or-treated. To borrow a joke from my wife’s friend (on their own child): “Is it really a surprise that my 97th-percentile-weight kid figured out trick or treating in two seconds flat?”

Yeah, the kid figured out how to say trick-or-treat, rock the hell out of his costume, hold out his Halloween bucket (from McDonald’s, we do it legit), walk up and down the street, and even tack on a thank-you. I had kids older than him struggling with this as I handed out the candy.

He was Paw Patrol for Halloween — Marshall, specifically. It was the first year he was his own thing. In the past two years, he was something from our own childhood nostalgia (Ninja Turtles and Star Wars.) This year, he has begun that tiny but seismic shift into living his own childhood.

Hence, car bed. The kid is a car nut. I liked cars myself as a kid — but now I can see I liked them more as a mini-OCD collector. I liked having them, hoarding them, displaying them.

I still do.

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I  actually bought those for my kid — until they came in the mail and I saw how painfully beautiful they were. I couldn’t bear to see my kid banging that super sweet Mario van on the floor over and over.

We’re making him a “big boy room” that will be car-themed with the centerpiece crown jewel car bed. I’m going to order some racing decals for it to really spiffy it up. I wanted to order some Fathead car decals for the walls until I found out they’re $89.99. Why the hell do wall stickers cost so much? Here’s hoping the generic version I found on Amazon for a tenth of the price isn’t sad and depressing.

I always wanted a car bed when I was a kid. By the way. In case you were wondering. I never got one. Nor did I get a Teddy Ruxpin, Power Wheels Car, Basketball Hoop, Moon Shoes, or summer admission to space camp so I could fly in the anti-gravity machine. There’s a club that exists for 1980s kids who never got these things. We meet on Twitter on Mondays to complain.

Pretty sure my son will get me back one day when I refuse to buy him the holographic VR smartphone eyeball implant, and then I’ll sadly come back with BUT I GOT YOU A CAR BED. AND IT FIT IN MY CAR EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKED LIKE IT WOULDN’T….my voice is trailing off. Think I’ll go sigh now.