Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, January 31, 2009


Letter to My Son #5

Dear Kid,

So you're about three and a half months old now. You're just about ready to start rolling over, although you still hate being on your tummy. You're grabbing Mommy's hair and Daddy's chest hair. You've outgrown almost all of your 0-3 month clothes, so you can no longer wear some of our favorite outfits.

I'm on paternity leave right now, which means I get to stay home and take care of you. It is a wonderful time. Not necessarily an easy time, as even the best babies--of which you are decidedly one--are a lot of work, but it's nice to spend so much time with you.

I've tried to maintain some continuity from the way Mommy does things, but there are definite differences in our approach. For instance, when Mommy thinks you're hungry, she can just--you should pardon the expression--whip it out and give feeding you a try. If it turns out you're not feeling peckish, she can put her bra on and switch tactics. Daddy, on the other hand, has to be absolutely sure you're hungry, because if I pull some breast milk out of the fridge and it turns out you don't want any, I've just wasted some breast milk. And that stuff's expensive.

Another difference is the way we get you to sleep. Mommy seems to have a magic touch and can just lay down with you and, I don't know, emit some sort of drowsiness beam that zonks you out. Daddy, on the other hand, can't seem to do it that way at all.

Instead, I have to sing you to sleep.

Now, it's entirely possible that I'm not trying too hard with any other method because I really like singing you to sleep. In fact, it's one of my favorite things in the world.

Your Daddy's not a great singer. I don't generally sing in front of other people. There was a brief time in college where I would go to karaoke with a big group of folks from the theater department and get up on stage to croak my way through "Walk of Life" or some other unchallenging song, but that's been about the extent of my public performances.

And yet, I was always a big car singer. It's been my habit for a long, long time to sing in the car. Loudly. I don't think I was aware of it, but I'm now pretty sure that, that entire time, I was just practicing for when I'd have to sing my son to sleep.

I sang to you the night you were born. I surprised the hell out of myself, because the song that came out when I opened my mouth to sing to you the first time was "The Tennessee Waltz". I like that song a lot, but it's not what I'd expected to sing. I sing it to you now almost every day.

Actually, we have a pretty extensive set list. Daddy doesn't like to get all repetitious, so I sing a wide variety and try not to sing the same song twice in one day.

I do a lot of Paul Simon songs for you. "St. Judy's Comet" is a fairly obvious choice. But we also do "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Scarborough Fair", "American Tune", "The Only Living Boy in New York" and "The Boxer". We dip into classic country, too. "Give My Love to Rose" is a favorite. Lots of Patsy Cline, like "Crazy" and "Walking After Midnight" and "Sweet Dreams". "Sweet Baby James" gets a lot of use, as does "Kiss Me, Son of God".

There are times, though, when you're really fussing and I have to break out the heavy guns. That's when I throw down a little "Danny Boy". It's effective. If that doesn't quite do the trick, we move on to "Nothing's Gonna Harm You" from Sweeney Todd. And then there's the A-bomb. The last resort. The Ace up my sleeve. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". We save that one for when nothing else has worked.

This works. Sometimes it takes a littler longer than I'd like, but it's always effective in the end.

So if, let's say twenty years from now, you're walking down the street and you hear a random song you don't know and it makes you a little sleepy, there's a chance that Daddy sang it to you when you were tiny.

Lots of love,

Friday, January 30, 2009


The New Math

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Forget Your Happy, C'mon Get Troubles!

Jesus stubble-chinned Christ, people. The times, they are a-scary. Starbucks is closing more stores, sending 6000 mocha-slingers packing, and laying off 700 other folks as well. This comes on top of announced layoffs by Boeing and AOL and Microsoft and Caterpillar and half the other fucking companies still limping along in this country and the goddamn Postal Service, for God's sake.

Now, on one hand, I don't feel too sorry for Starbucks. I've thought for a long time that a business plan based on infinite expansion is basically doomed. And I certainly don't need access to a Starbucks every other block.

But if every goddamn business in the country fails except the occasional pawn shop, if everybody finds themselves unemployed, if all the service industry jobs are dominoed out of existence, the country is well and truly fucked, 'cause we don't have a safety position.

Ye gods, this is frightening. I need to go hunt down a venti chai latte to calm my jangled nerves.


Powers and Abilities Far Beyond Those of Mortal Men

Karl Rove has, I read this morning, been subpoenaed to testify in front of a House committee looking into the U.S. attorney firings. The article mentions that Rove has refused to comply with previous subpoenas, saying that "...former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress."

Interestingly, this is not the only superpower Rove has claimed to have. Over the past decade, Rove--or "Captain Turdblossom", which is his superhero identity--has attributed to himself:
  • super-strength
  • the "ability to cloud men's minds"
  • limited flight
  • "super-breath" (?)
  • shape-shifting
  • "a mystical dong"
It should be noted that this last one was discussed with Maureen Dowd toward the end of the 2003 White House Correspondents' Dinner and has not since been mentioned.

Kurt Skinner of the Brookings Institution has been quoted as saying, "I'm not a continuity-nazi, but I wish they'd decide what powers he has and then stick to it."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Flying Solo, Day 1

What you probably couldn't tell from reading yesterday's post is that, about three-quarters of the way through my writing of it, I had to stop for a forty-five minute cry/shriek-athon. My little guy was uber-tired and wanted everyone in the tri-state area to know about it.

I worked methodically, as you're supposed to. I stood and rocked with him. I laid down on the bed with him. I rocked him in the glider. I changed the diaper, the utterly dry and poopless diaper. I thawed out a few ounces of breast milk and attempted the bottle-feed. Nada.

And that last one is especially galling, because it's the one part of the whole thing that is truly genderally unfair. My wife did a good bit of post-feeding pumping during the weeks before she went back to work, wanting to have a stockpile for the first days of her absence. Still, even with a decent amount of frozen Mommy shakes in the icebox, when Daddy thaws some out and the baby basically tells him to shove it, you--the Daddy--are left feeling double shame, because you've proved yourself unable to read your child's needs and you've just wasted two-and-a-half ounces of milk that your wife sat in a chair with a machine strapped to her chest to produce.

Eventually, though, the lad allowed himself to drift off to Slumberland and, other than that one rough patch, however, Day 1 went fairly well, all things considered. We had a successful feeding later in the day. There were no more screaming fits. Daddy got the laundry sorted and ready to go and managed to eat lunch and send Mommy a cute baby pic via cell phone. I even got some grades uploaded to the frustrating and crappy grade site my school is forcing us to use.

Bear in mind, here, that my wife only worked half a day yesterday. Who knows what I'll screw up today, with more time on my hands. Onward and upward!

Monday, January 26, 2009



So here we go. My wife literally just left the apartment. And so begins my three-month term as Perma-Daddy.

So many questions. Will I get a handle on the baby's needs? Will I find time to straighten up the living room? Will every piece of clothing I own get covered in baby poop? And, most importantly, I guess: Will I start watching Oprah? *shudder*

If everything I learned from such movies as Three Men and a Baby and Mr. Nanny, it's that I can be sure to expect many, many wacky hijinks.

Stay tuned, my friends.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Deep, Self-Pitying Sigh

My wife won't listen to my whining about this, so I'm turning to you, the wonderful people who glance briefly at this page on which you landed after hitting the "Next Blog" button or googling "nurse+spanking+fantasties".

See, I'm about to go on paternity leave. I'm about to spend a few months doing nothing but taking care of my kid. It's exciting. For me.

For my wife, it's going back to work time. So any complaining I do this week about my job is most unwelcome to her ears.

Mostly, what I've been doing this week has been trying to wrap up the unit I was working on while dealing with a schedule fucked-up by the state English test. I've been trying to get my grades calculated and just generally prepare things for my absence.

Tomorrow, as a reward for the hard work they did on the Big Test this week, all of the seventh- and eighth-graders get to go on a field trip. Which excited the hell out of me, because I teach only seventh and eighth grade, which would have left me the entire day to enter my grades on the website we're using and get everything nice and squared away.

This morning, however, three--count 'em, three--people, including my assistant principal asked me if I'd be willing to go on the field trip, as they were having trouble rounding up chaperones. Coming from my A.P., it wasn't really a request, it was more along the lines of, "We're not going to pay you to spend a day in your office with no classes to teach, so you're going on the field trip." (He actually did put it in the form of a question and was very polite about it, but come on.)

I don't like field trips. You're with the kids all day with no break, you have to make sure they don't mock drunk homeless people on the subway, you have to keep them from getting run over and you invariably have to eat at fucking McDonald's. *shudder*

All in all, it wouldn't be so terribly bad, except for the fact that the field trip, I've been informed, is to the see...Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Inkheart opens tomorrow. It's a fun, family-friendly adventure movie based on a very nice book I just finished. Couldn't we see that instead? No. I have to go spend an hour and a half watching Kevin James get hit in the groin over and over and over. (See title)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Inauguration Day

The moment was pretty much as cool as I'd figured it would be. He put the hand on the Lincoln Bible and, boom, he was President. I smiled incredibly wide.

Then I sat back to listen to his address and slowly realized that an auditorium full of kindergartners is not the best listening venue for this sort of thing. See, kindergartners know that the nice man on the screen is Important and that it's a Good Thing that's happening, but they don't really give two squirts of goat piss about what the nice man has to say.

So every teacher in the room spent the entirety of the speech shushing six-year-olds and didn't get to hear much.

Still cool.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


This Is Just the Beginning

People, I've been saying for years that the birds were going to turn against us. Now it's happened. I have proof in my possession that the geese responsible for bringing down the US Airways plane in New York attended an Al Quaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2001.

When is our government going to start taking this threat seriously? I've sent literally dozens of telegrams to Barack Obama's advisors, begging them to make sure they've got a strategy for dealing with the avian threat around us as soon as they take office. I have yet to hear back from them.

This is just the beginning, my friends. Watch the skies.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Giddy with Anticipation

Oh my god, y'all.

I just saw a commercial for that new movie with Renee Zellwegger! Apparently, she plays a big-city gal who moves to the country! And she don't fit in!

Now I don't want to take a guess at the plot, 'cause I'm sure it's real inventive, but I do know that Harry Connick, Jr. is in there, so I've gotta guess there might could be some romance.

Well, Little Joe's Must-See Movie List just got a new number one, with a bullet!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


We All Scream

So there's this ice cream. I read about it in New York Magazine, in an article about mobile food and, weeks and weeks later, I stumbled across their truck outside of the supermarket. As I always do what magazines tell me, I bought a pint and brought it home to my then-pregnant wife. We each took a bite, then spooned the rest onto the couch and rolled around in it, as this ice cream was something you didn't just want to eat, you really wanted to be encased in it.

Come October, I was shocked and appalled when the truck was consistently missing from its place outside Fairway. I sent an e-mail to the company and was sent a reply which said, in part, "It's October. We sell ice cream out of a truck. See you in the Spring, dipshit."

But recently, I learned that the company, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, would be selling pints of their product at Whole Foods. So, tonight, my wife and I bundled up the child and hiked down to Columbus Circle, where we secured some Van Leeuwen chocolate, which I have just consumed.

Great googly moogly, people. If you're in town, especially if it's Summer and you can find one of their trucks, you should try this stuff. I've learned over the years to not hype things too heavily, because someone invariably tries it on your recommendation and flings a derisive "Meh" in your face.

Bring it on, says I. This ice cream is goooood.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Diaper Shock

Now, I don't want to be the kind of parent who talks incessantly about his kid's poop. And I really do make an effort to discuss normal, adult things around grown-ups.

But my son just took the hugest baby-dump I've ever seen. Seriously, the entirety of his diaper--front, back, sides--was covered. It was as if he'd invited three or four other babies in and had them poop in the diaper, too.

This was feces so severe that we had to give him a bath immediately. I'm truly glad that adults don't poop in the same manner. Otherwise, it'd be a much, much messier world.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Ano Nuevo

Spent New Year's Eve here at home with my wife and baby. Quiet, peaceful and pleasant. Except for that coarse, awful Kathy Griffin informing the nation that she didn't, "...go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth" on national television.

I'm sorry to see 2008 go. It had its rough spots, but, all in all, it was the best year of my life. So, arrivederci, Y2K + 8. Here's hoping that 2009 continues the trend of not sucking. We've already got a pretty damn good head start.