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Monday, June 30, 2008

Dr. Strangehands, or how i learned to stop worrying and love birthday parties for 3-year-olds

it's birthday party season. we met most of our parent-friends because they all had babies at roughly the same time we did, which means we've been spending every weekend for the past 2 months going to birthday parties. parties in the park, parties at Kidville, parties at the Music Together place, parties at people's too-small living quarters, parties in trailer park meth labs. you know, routine stuff. often, two parties in one weekend. sometimes two in one day. lord, can we please just have one weekend to ourselves again?

on saturday we were at our first of two parties -- for twins, so that's kind of like two parties at once now that i think of it. it was at 10:30, which meant no beer. fine. whatever. i recently invested in a hip flask so i was cool with that. it was a lovely day and Prospect Park was uncharacteristically empty. there was much frolicking. i brought a Frisbee. there were bagels. a dude played guitar and led the kids through a rousing rendition of yellow submarine. there were, of course, cupcakes (question for another time: when did cupcakes replace birthday cakes? i have yet to have a slice of birthday cake this year. i blame sex and the city and those ridiculously overhyped pucks they serve at Magnolia Bakery.)

anyway. we're all enjoying ourselves. my wife is wearing our newborn daughter in a sling, i turn and see her from behind, talking with another woman who recently had her second kid. i saunter over, pausing to grab a bagel on the way. i take a bite of the bagel. it's a good bagel. tasty smoked salmon, the works. approaching my wife, i take another bite of the bagel. i mean, damn, this is a good bagel. i lean in and tap-smack my bride on her rear.

but i notice that there is a different amount of give. the physics of her jiggle have somehow altered. the plane of her haunch seems to unfurl at a perceptibly different angle of convexity.


i fear i may have just ass-grabbed another man's wife.

in front of my own wife!

we made eye contact and i confirmed, to my horror, that which i had suspected: this was not my wife's ass. and now this woman is looking at me thinking, "that was not my husband's grope."

hasty apologies were profusely delivered. she laughed. my bride laughed as well. i apologized again. i turned shades of red hitherto known only to beets and onions and firetrucks. all was forgiven in high spirits. i have a newborn, after all, i'm not sleeping well. i plead baby. people understood.

the party returned to normal.

i totally got away with it! when the laughter subsided i even said "ok, then. who's next?" ... because i am a creepy, creepy old man trapped inside the body of a creepy younger man. anyway, the whole affair provided a brief moment of levity. so it dawned on me: this is probably how swinging got started in the '70s!

i sure hope that wasn't the last kid's birthday party of the season.

from the self-promotion files

you'd be forgiven for thinking that jazz is for old people and robots for kids. but behold! two things so mind-bendingly counterintuitive that taken together they might drive you completely MAD!!!
or not:
1) Brat Scats: Jazz for Kids.
2) Perfect Helper: Robots for Oldsters.
that is all.

Friday, June 27, 2008

regarding the newbie

when we last spoke, i had gotten us up to the point where the baby was born. you'll recall, perhaps, that we had been in the hospital for just one hour before the baby arrived. yeah, well, we would be in the hospital for another 24. hours, that is. doing nothing. (except for watching awesome reruns of jon and kate plus 8. no joke.)

one hour of labor. 24 hours of bureaucratic purgatory, serendipitous bad TV and dickfaced nurses. does that seem fair?

i am not going to linger on the negative here (other than to state that for our first baby, we were allowed to leave the hospital in 12 hours -- and i had gotten antsy after hour 3). i am instead going to revel in the positive. in the fact that we have a beautiful, perfect new daughter. who, it should be noted looks eerily like her big sister, only with slightly smaller eyes and slightly larger cheeks.

here she is, smiling her first smile. probably because she hadn't opened her eyes yet:

i mean, come on right? too cute.

she has a nice tuchus too:

anyway. because so many of you have asked so nicely, i'll tell you her name just this once. pay attention! her name is Calla. as in calla lily ... you know, like the flower? as it happens Calla means "beautiful" in greek, but that's really just gravy -- it could mean "donkey nuts" in greek and we'd still think it was an elegant, lovely name. fortunately for her, Calla does not mean "donkey nuts."

also fortunately for her, she appears to harbour the appropriate amounts of skepticism. here she is alert, eyeing us all askance-like. this is a look i would not have anticipated so early on in her life:

it is as if to say, you mean YOU'RE my dad? jesus. why don't you just call me Donkey Nuts and put pictures of my ass on all of the internets?

ahem. yes. well. you probably can't tell from the picture, but the whites of her eyes are beyond bloodshot -- there is a little ring of fire around each iris. she looks like she was mugged. she looks like ... well ... a demon. an angry, vengeful demon full of angry vengance. it turns out this frequently happens when labor is fast and furious. the hospital pediatrician gave us our new favorite expression: "precipitous birth." our baby, apparently, began life precipitously. hence, the bloody devil-eyes. and also apparently she is part hellhound.

whatever. the most important moment had yet to happen: the meeting of the big sister. mrs nice guy and i booked ourselves a private little room in the hospital where we could enjoy a little privacy while we were being held prisoner. while locked up in exile, i would make frequent jaunts to Au Bon Pain (which should follow KFC's lead and have its named shortened. only not to ABP. it would be more accurate to just go by Pain). on one excursion to Pain -- for stale coffee and cardboard pastries -- i stood in the hallway waiting for an elevator with a young orthodox jewish guy who couldn't have been older than 22. he was on his cell phone, yammering jubilantly. "man, i highly recommend having a kid. i'm telling you, it's the best." god, i love brooklyn.

anyway. after many jaunts to ABP, i mean Pain, and many sleepless hours, there was a knock at the door of our room. i shouted "it's open," assuming it was another nurse coming to cluck passive aggressive reprimands at us for opting to keep our newborn daughter with us instead of flinging her under a heat lamp. only it wasn't. it was Big Sister Nice Guy! the sitter brought her to the hospital to meet her new baby sister.

she stood at the threshold, tentative and shy. when i saw her -- the first time since Calla was born -- i gasped. i had just seen her the day before but here she was again, seeming so grown-up and sweet and so full of shy-sassy good will. strangely, it was this moment that most brought the whole birth home. i remembered when this child was born. we were in this very hospital, just one room over. and here she was three years later -- old enough to understand something very important was happening, but not quite old enough to understand exactly what it was. i started choking up.

she walked cautiously up to the bed and whispered. "that's my baby?" we told her that, yes, it was her baby sister. she said "lemme see." we let her see. she said "i want to hold her." so mrs nice guy got off the bed and let her climb up. we put the baby in her lap. she discovered the buttons that make the bed go up and down. she pushed the buttons. a lot. she forgot about the baby for a minute. the baby slumped over.

we told her to stop pushing the buttons. she didn't. then we tried telling her to be careful of her baby. she kept pushing the buttons with a little grin on her face as if to say "i have a tiny hostage here. what are you going to do about it?" we sighed. she finally got bored and stopped pushing the buttons. we thanked her.

then she kissed her sister. and said "i love my baby."

then the world melted in a puddle of love.

then she saw that there was a television in the room and announced "i want to see Dora." the baby slumped over again.

fortunately i had found Nick Jr or Cartoon Network or something earlier so i put it on. unfortunately Dora was not on. some awesome cartoon about summer camp was on starring a spider monkey from Sao Paulo and instantly i saw that this might be the greatest thing that ever happened to television, but unfortunately my eldest did not share this opinion as it did not involve a shouting diminutive latina bossing us all around in spanglish. so first born started to whine. loudly. i professed helplessness. then the baby took a tar-black crap. this turned out to be helpful. her big sister forgot about Dora for a minute. she wanted to look at the baby's poop. why? why is this what we're focusing on at this moment of birth and jubilation?

i'll tell you why: because if i have learned only one thing in the past 11 days of fatherhood with two kids it's this: it's still All About First Born. number two is just along for the ride. and also sometimes she barfs.

anyway, i hope she knows that we love her. she's perfect. and so was her placenta:

Monday, June 23, 2008

so. that happened

so it turns out that as i was typing my last post my wife was indeed laboring laboriously under the laborlicious pains of laborly labor. wow. what sort of shitty husband pauses to update his pathetic blog, read by an audience of tens, when his beloved bride is in the earth-shattering throws of birth pains? don't answer that.

anyway. labor was happening. the sitter had been warned earlier in the day that something odd was abreast (no pun intended) and that she should be at the ready. she should have the Bat Phone charged and the Bat Mobile fully fueled, only instead of Bat Phone and Bat Mobile she should really consider a cell phone and a taxi ... must more realistic when you get down to brass tacks. and that's what we were apparently down to. about an hour after i typed that post, i put our older daughter to bed (because my wife was too busy having contractions: clue number one that something was up). once baby nice guy (who will now heretofore -- which is a great fucking word -- be known as Big Sister Nice Guy) was in her crib, talking about mermaid princess queens and glow-in-the-dark dragons or whatever it is she's into these days, i returned to my wife. this was at about 8 pm. she had assumed child's pose and was making a noise that went like this: KJJJJJSSSSSSSSSS GUUUH FUCK THE WORLD'S FACE mnnnnnnnnnnnguu.

so i called our midwife. our midwife, it should be noted, was out of town for the weekend. she told us on thursday "oh, by the way: i'm going out of town this weekend. don't go into labor." and we were all like "hahahaha. oh my god, we're screwed."

naturally, wife was in labor. we called the midwife's emergency number and Substitute Midwife answered the phone. i was all "hi i'm mr nice guy. um, mrs nice guy's husband? yeah. um we don't know you and you don't know us but we're pretty sure she's in labor." and the Substitute Midwife was all "who?"

great. just fucking balls out great. i explained to her who we were. she said "ok. call me when you think you need to go to the hospital." and i said "awesome. thanks. just what the fuck is it that you do again? because we thought it was your goddamn job to tell us when to go. she could be 8 feet dilated for all i know."

i hang up and called the sitter. "ok. you need to get here like FIVE MINUTES AGO." she says "ok. i'm in Bay Ridge. no problem." god i love our sitter. wife looks up at me with watery eyes. i know this is a special moment. she parts her dry lips and whisper-shouts: "I WANT TO UNLEASH PAIN AND DESTRUCTION ON ALL LIVING CREATURES. DEFINITELY ESPECIALLY YOU."

well. shit on a stick. i pack some bags, pausing to fix my wife a bagel and get yelled at. then i stop and put on the shirt i was wearing when my first daughter was born. just because.

the phone rings! it's the Real Midwife! she says "i'm on my way back from vacation, pulling off the jersey turnpike now. heading to the hospital." AWESOME! she asks me to hold the phone up to my wife as she has her next contraction -- she wants to hear how far along things are. i do this even though i am pretty sure it will get me killed. wife makes a noise roughly equivalent to that of 10,000 undead souls locked in purgatory being unleashed to feast upon the brains of retarded husbands who hold the receiver up to their wives in the middle of a contraction. the Real Midwife says "sounds like labor! see you at the hospital."

fuck. fuckity fuckery foo!

i call the sitter. it is now approaching 9 pm. she answers. "hey! i'm just waiting for a cab. i had to stop by Target to buy a change of clothes for the sleepover."

i think this was the exact moment that my brain imploded an began leaking down the back of my throat. i'm not positive though. so i say to her "next time WE'LL LEND YOU A PAIR OF FUCKING SWEATS. be here. now." at this moment, i do not love her very much.

we wait for the sitter to arrive. actually, i wait. my wife is temporarily inhabiting in a parallel universe where waiting has not been invented. shouting has, though. the sitter arrives. we tell her to hold the cab. she holds the cab. i help my wife down the stairs and while i do this the sitter apparently puts the luggage into the back seat. i know this because when i go back into the house to get the luggage my wife tells me the luggage is already in the cab by saying "THE FUCKING LUGGAGE IS ALREADY IN THE FUCKING CAB."

so we get in. we tell the cabbie: long island college hospital! he says "i live in manhattan. i don't know where that is."


we look up the address. he rolls. he gets us there with a quickness that would make andretti blush. i unload the car -- wife, luggage and all. i tell him i'll pay him for the sitter's fucking trip from fucking target and i'll pay for us. he says it's on him because of the miracle of life (or probably more precisely: the miracle of not breaking water all over his back seat). i like this guy. i pay him anyway and give him a fat tip. we limp through the emergency room doors, my wife pausing once to have contractions and wish malice upon me. everyone parts like the red sea. one dude walks by, family of eight straggling behind him. he looks at me and says with a rueful smirk "congratulations, man." then he rolls his eyes and keeps walking.

we get to the delivery room floor. the nurses shout something about "active labor" and usher us into a room. wife is stripped, poked, drawn of blood, asked questions and mugged for her wallet. the Real Midwife arrives! we all shed tears of relief. it's about 10:45. wife labors in tub for a bit. her water breaks. it's time to start pushing. the midwife says "let's have this baby!" i ask her if she thinks the baby will come before midnight because i'm pulling for the kid to be born on father's day -- because after all, this moment is all about me, a very very small man. the midwife is all "oh yeah, no problem," as if i insulted her by thinking this labor would last longer than 2o more minutes. wife, sitting on my lap at the edge of the bed, pushes. she screams. it's awesome. wife panics. she says she can't do this. the midwife says "actually you have to do this because the baby's heartrate is dropping. i want her out on this push." and then, boom, the baby is born.

we cry. the baby cries. she looks alarmingly like our first daughter. everyone is fine. i take pictures and make phone calls. and cry.

it was, hands down, the best father's day anyone's ever had.

more to follow!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

so. this is happening


i know. it's been a while.


i seem to be phoning it in a lot. i know. i apologize. again.

these things happen. i pay more attention to one website/lover than i do the other. people get neglected. feelings get hurt. blog posts get unwritten. this is the way of life in this wacky digital age. and for that i am sorry. i promise to try to attempt to change my ways. i will be better to you. if you still care. it's ok if you don't. i'd understand.

anyway, yeah. if i haven't lost you for good, i'll do better from here on out.

tomorrow, that is. maybe. anyway, not right now. i mean, it's not like i can write very much at this moment. see, i've got things on my mind. it seems my wife might -- MIGHT, as in maybe, possibly, perhaps, just could be -- in labor at this very moment.



(more, maybe, as the evening devolves ... on twitter).

Thursday, June 05, 2008

why god invented the internets, vol. 1329

the chipmunks slowed down!

and dave is apparently satan. who knew?

'nuff said

"dear internet: blogging about your children is child abuse." this coming from one of the leading hate-merchants on the web. still, they do have a point.