Friday, December 24, 2010
I can't remember the last time I'd been ice skating. I'm going to guess and say it was over 30 years ago in Wheaton, MD.
We all hugged the boards for twenty minutes getting our bearings. My youngest son Cole used a technique that was part Ickey Shuffle, part Pee Wee Herman. His brother looked more like Bambi, flailing being the rule not the exception, with arms pinwheeling and legs a-splitting.
I didn't fall once.
When we left the boys said, "I thought you didn't know how to ice skate?"
Veni, vidi, vici...
Thursday, December 23, 2010
One of the cat species profiled on the show looked a lot like our old cat Ginger.
I had never had a cat before her and, quite honestly, don't know if I'll ever have another cat. She was an awesome kitty right up to the end. So when we saw the cat that looked like her on TV we started to talk about all the Gingerisms she had like sleeping in the bathroom sink in the summer to her tendency to paw me in the nose in the morning to wake me up.
It was good times fondly remembering the family cat and shortly after, we all went to bed and drifted off to sleep.
And then it happened: In the middle of the night I swear I felt like she was walking on my bed. You know the sensation if you've ever had a cat or dog. I woke up the next day and thought about how I must have conjured up her spirit; about how talking about her brought a piece of her back into my life. I joked about how I thought her ghost was in my room and the kids and I just shrugged it off.
My son Cole asked if she got lost on the way to the Tropical World.
But since that night, I have had several - maybe a half a dozen - encounters in the middle of the night where I felt like she was walking on my bed. It's a very calming feeling despite the actually creepiness of thinking there's a kitty ghost up in the joint.
This one's for you Ginger...
Friday, December 10, 2010
We had gone there before with their cousins and my brother - the place is part of the local lore of the area (at least it was for me and my brother growing up) so when we got to Maryland it is a must-see attraction.
On a cold morning after Thanksgiving, we made are way down the path to where the cave lives, walking briskly to stave of the shivers.
They wanted to climb to the top, like they have done before, so we did.
When we got to the top the place was littered with empty beer cans and bottles. And of course, there was years worth of party phrases carved into the bark of the surrounding trees. I snapped a photo of this gem.
My 10-year-old said, "Does that mean because we are on top of the hill?"
He took a long pause glancing at the ground and then said, "Or does it mean high on alcohol?"
"A little of both," I said.
I guess it is time to have that talk with him.
When did you have that talk with your kids?
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Sometimes these stories involve the basement, sometimes these stories involve the woods down the street, but stories are told none the less. In recent years it has occurred to me that I come from a family of storytellers - we often sat around the dinner table as kids and, after a meal was finished, listened to my father tell stories about growing up in Philly.
The story, or the telling of one, has become a tradition. One that I am starting to see passed down to my sons whom I've witnessed telling tales to their friends.
Another family tradition is the breaking of the wishbone at Thanksgiving. And this year my boys got to take part in it. They both grabbed the wishbone with their pinkies, made a wish, pulled and... snap!
And wouldn't you know it? The fucking wishbone split in half evenly. I don't recall ever seeing this happen. What does this mean? Do they both get to cash in on their wishes? Or does a tie cancel out your wish?
Sunday, November 07, 2010
But seriously I'm talking about Daylight Savings Time.
The older and older I get, the more it fucks with me.
I get the DST hangover.
Everything seems super off-kilter, the day slogs by, I get a wicked case of man PMS or something, and just have this general feeling of being off.
Of course that feeling seems to be par for the course these days.
Crazy still is as crazy does.
The earth, sun, moon and stars have a huge impact and affect on me.
What's the remedy? I need a remedy.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 07, 2010
When he was 4 and 5, oftentimes I'd catch him wandering around the house with the digital camera taking pictures like this.
It's awesome, and refreshing, to see your child's artistic bent through their creative lens.
So last weekend, when he suggested his brother ollie over him at the skatepark while he filmed it, I said why not.
Spencer was afraid he wasn't going to clear him. So we put a skateboard in as Cole's dummy and shot a segment so Spencer could see just how much room he had.
Anyway, this is just plain fucking cool.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I got them into it at an early age. As the stay-at-home-parent, I became an avid reader. It's not only good to read books to your children about green eggs and ham or toads and frogs (or about frogs that sing), but it is also good for your children to see you read.
And my kids have seen me reading a lot.
One of the things we have carved out over the years as a father-and-sons tradition is going to the local library book sales. Early on they'd get coffee table-sized sports books on how to pitch a baseball or kick a soccer ball. But by the time they both had entered into elementary school, young adult fiction became all the rage. Of course everybody remembers the Harry Potter craze. But I never had an interest in reading any of those books. I mean there are plenty of books on my must-read list that will get tackled before I ever crack a Potter book. But I admired my son's desire to have me read one of them.
This was followed up by the Percy Jackson series, which seemed slightly more interesting yet still not compelling enough for me to want to pick up.
Then one time at a book sale he got Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee.
"This is one of my favorite books," he said.
"You've already read it?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "It's awesome."
For weeks after he got the book he would nudge me to read it. Then one day he said, "Just read the first page."
"Is it good?" he asked.
"My interest is piqued," I said.
And before you knew it, I was knee deep in the book. It is, in my humble opinion, the Catcher in the Rye for middler schoolers. Both share similar themes. Social Misfits. Homelessness. Loneliness. Children living in an adult worlds etc. etc.
I had asked my nephew, now toiling away in his mid-twenties as a frustrated grad student, if he ever read the book.
He texted me back some questions.
"Does he run on the rails of train tracks?"
"Does he sleep in a zoo?"
"Hits a frogball?"
He then confided to me that he is shocked he remembers more about a book he read in middle school some 15 years ago than he does from any textbook from the last five years.
Maniac Magee - a timeless book for all ages that I highly recommend.
But please avoid the movie version at all costs...
Friday, September 24, 2010
We stumbled upon this bar called El Chapultepec.
It looked like our kind of bar: simple, unassuming and far away from the teaming masses of beer festival attendees. Nothing but booths and stools and sign that says "Cash Only. No Credit Cards." The walls were littered with pictures of legendary jazz artists. The bartender ignored us because he was at the other end of the bar doing tequila shots with two girls. Like I said, my kind of bar.
We agreed that we should return on our way back from wherever we were headed at the moment.
When we came back, The Pec (as it is affectionately known) had transformed into an entirely different place. It was now packed with twentysomethings singing along to a band doing a cover of "The Joker" by Steve Miller.
I felt like I was in an episode of Twin Peaks.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I'm not going to bother getting into conspiracy theories, what went wrong with how it was handled after the fact or any other debatable nonsense that will get the blogpshere in an uproar.
I merely want to share my experience.
Before I took up blogging I kept a journal. I used that journal and excerpts from my blog to pursue a book deal on the story of my life as a stay-at-home dad. My bubble was burst when several publishers refused to even publish anything that mentioned the events of September 11th. Other literary agents told me men didn't want to read about parenting so I'd better tailor it to my feminine readership. But I wanted to be a dadvocate, I wanted to write a book for men and for men who might considered being the primary caregiver or for those fathers who wanted some insight into the life of a man raising kids.
Of course, I am stubborn and decided not to take their advice.
So I remain unpublished.
In June of 2001 I unceremoniously lost my job. I spent the summer navigating the nether world that is the Employment Security Commission in this state while coming to terms with what would be my new job: Stay-at-home dad.
What follows in an outtake from my journals at the time...
September 12, 2001: Yesterday two planes flew into the World Trade Center in NYC. By the end of the day both buildings had collapsed to the ground.
Total fucking madness.
I was driving with my son in the car when I heard the first report over the radio and immediately you could sense from the reporter that all hell was breaking loose in New York. So I drove home and turned on the television. I don’t think I left the room for hours. I just sat there and stared at the TV dismayed at what I was seeing. At some point my sister called. She is an attorney who lives in Cleveland. She called me because she knew I’d be home. We were talking on the phone when the first building went down. There was not much to talk about after that so we got off the phone.
After awhile it was just too much for me to take so I went in the other room where I my son was and got down on the floor with him to finished watching the block programming for kids on PBS.
What kind of world am I’m bringing this child into? It was all just too much: a jobless father with a baby in a world going to hell in a hand basket.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
This is a photo taken with my phone and part of my Random Phone Pics set. As you can probably deduct, this was taken at my friend Ron Liberti's place.
Years ago, on the corner of Franklin and Columbia Streets in the heart of Chapel Hill was a copy shop called COPYTRON. It was the place most professors from UNC had their course packs made. It was also the place that hired a lot of local musicians because of the flexible hours and the easy access to copy machines.
I logged some pat-time hours there on-and-off at the beginning of semesters to help with the course pack work load. It was like being in a fishbowl: there were big, windows that looked out on both streets. People watching during downtime was of high regard amongst the full-timers.
Then it happened.
Gentrification came to town, the mom-and-pop stores went away and professors started using web-based applications for their syllabuses. It's currently a Qdoba.
And Ron got the sign.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The blogger archive recap is a way to add content to your site by trolling your old posts.
I've got five years worth:
► 2010 (27)
► 2009 (10)
► 2008 (166)
► 2007 (130)
► 2006 (68)
► 2005 (125)
Archivalism is in my blood. Just like it is with my friend Mike Daily.
Around this time in 2007, I was writing about my job as a pool boy at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
On 2008, I was talking about losing my lake virginity (I grew up vacationing at the beach), Cloris Leachman and the summer Olympics.
In 2009, I had a total of ten posts in six months for the whole year.
Now, it's 2010, and punk rock still never gets old for me...
Friday, August 13, 2010
If you asked anybody who knows me what my favorite color is they would probably say blue or black.
But green does have a special place in my heart.
Green is the color I see most in nature from grass and trees to those fuzzy halos around street lamps at dusk.
Green also means go.
A green light means to move forward.
What does green mean to you?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Friday, August 06, 2010
Some say it is a sign that a murder occurred there.
In some countries, it is a sport.
In other countries, it is a male past time.
Shoes hanging on a telephone could mean anything.
I'd like to debunk the first three myths by saying this photo was taken across from the Durham Police Station on Foster Street by the skatepark.
But then again, it is Durham, and anything is possible.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
And if anything conjures up the past and all those things that made me who I am today - bmx, skateboarding, punk rock - it is the smell of a new pair of Vans.
This week, I passed on the smell of new Vans to my oldest son.
At some point in the near future, I'll introduce him to the pungent smell of Rector pads.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I took this picture with my phone a few months ago. My boys and I had gone back to one of our favorite spots - Bolin Creek - from when they were in preschool.
We used to hang out at the park there and walk the bike path up to a spot where you could climb down to the creek's bank. We'd often skip rocks here (and keep and eye out for snakes).
The last time we went I saw this faux Hot Wheels car wedge between some rocks, clearly washed up and jammed in there from heavy rains. I wonder what the story is behind this little lost car?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
If somebody rides by on a Harley or passes the car in a monster truck, they yell out, "Pantalones!"
I'm still unsure of whether it is a term of endearment or a something you say to jone on somebody.
Either way, it's something that deserves to be exclaimed during momentous moments.
Yes, I just said "momentous moments."
Saturday, July 17, 2010
A couple of weeks ago I picked up a new camera.
I was finding myself in a pinch at work more and more for the need for a simple photo that didn't require paying a professional photographer. I needed a cheap, utilitarian point-and-shoot that I could carry around and put to use when duty called.
And besides, I think I can take a decent photo.
I was surprised to find just what a digital camera can do these days, especially one as affordable as this handy little Sony.
Face Detection? A Smile recognition function? An "easy" mode?
WTF? This thing does everything but wipe my ass... and it comes with a 96-page manual (as a pdf file of course).
I took it out to lunch one day to experiment with the settings and modes and basically just try to familiarize myself with the thing. I snapped a picture of my lunch. My co-worker looked at me as I readied the camera by my plate and said, "You're not going to be that guy."
"What guy?" I said.
"The guy who takes a picture of everything he eats," said my co-worker.
"Oh, that guy," I said.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Parenting is difficult enough but can be made more difficult when you have friends like this.
So it is with great pleasure that I share this moment of bliss - my boys filming me giving the creator of Wildboyz and director of Jackass 3-D a mamba. A white mamba at that...
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
In the silence I listened for sounds.
The sound of mechanical problems, the sounds of an airplane chasing you, pretty much any sound.
And smells too. Like oil, transmission fluid, all that good stuff.
Buying a ten year old car can be nerve-racking to say the least but making sure it is up to snuff is a must. My brother thinks I'm delusional and paranoid. But I invested in a AAA card none the less. It's been a few weeks now and the Subaru Forester is doing just fine. It survived a five hour trek to Maryland and is slated for another lengthy haul to South Carolina next weekend. On the way to Maryland, the boys watched a DVD for the better part of the drive... so I drove in silence once again.
The return trip had them sleeping for a a better part of it, and again, I drove in silence.
My dad used to drive in silence. And it used to drive me bat shit crazy. "Turn on the radio at least," I'd think to myself. "Talk radio even," I'd think. Just give me some static to counterbalance all the quietness that enveloped the car. These were the days before Walkman and iPod my friends.
I remember feeling liberated when I got my first Walkman because it meant silence-free road trips, even if it was only a radio version and I had to scan for local rock stations in central Pennsylvania or the Jersey Shore when all I really wanted was some Minor Threat.
And yet now I have become one of them now.
One of the silent drivers...
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I've driven through Richmond countless times in the last fifteen years; I've stared at the buildings and studied the bridges yet I'd never spent an evening there.
But I confess I've always had an affinity for their anarcho-punk scene, for bands like Avail, Strike Anywhere, Wasted Time, No Way Records and the town's general D.I.Y. ethic that seems to pulse though the blood of anyone I have met from there.
The town reminded me a lot of Baltimore with its row houses, and New Orleans with its sleepy seediness, and Savannah with its Civil War history and cobblestone streets.
It was a town populated by characters and I cursed myself for not having a proper camera to document my experience.
While out running errands for the day job, where we had to go pick up some signage for the beer festival, I spotted this gem on the light post.
Sometimes you just gotta do the math, ya know?
Sunday, June 06, 2010
To make matters worse, the photo shoot I had to AD for work ran ridiculously over schedule and I was hungry.
On the way back to the office, I spotted the OnlyBurger truck. I convinced my editor to stop so that I could get myself a burger. I was hoping they'd have Bacon & Blue on the menu but they didn't. While listening to me rant about the burger truck as I waited to place my order, I convinced my editor to try one.
She ordered the same as me and when we got back to the office, we sat outside and chatted, one of us talking while the other chewed and a brief rainstorm came upon us - it was gone as quickly as it came.
But it left this beautiful gem over the Historic Durham Bulls Athletic Park which sits directly across from our office. It is part of baseball lore and movie legend and a spot that has hosted many a blues fest and World Beer Festivals.
Armed with nothing but my cell phone, I snapped a shot and then took a moment to take this natural wonder in. There's that old cliche about how you need to stop and smell the roses from time to time; today it was about gazing at a double rainbow.
No pot of gold was to be found, but I have since been unable to get this song out of my head.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I think this goes back to my days as a bicycle messenger - because I spent a lot of time in those boxes of transportation. There's a weird etiquette to life in the elevator, ya know? Another thing I've always pondered is the use of braille with elevators. And apparently I'm not the only one. Don't get me wrong, I think it is totally awesome that elevators have braille, my question is in the "How do they get to the elevator?" and "What do they do when they get out"? As a seeing-eye person, I've have some truly baffling experiences trying navigate the numbering systems of businesses and hotels so I can only imagine how completely frustrating this must be for a blind person.
Come to think of it, in all my years of riding elevators, I don't think I've ever encountered a blind person on an elevator.
Another thing I tend to look at is the signature from the Commissioner of Labor, who in the state of North Carolina just happens to be a woman by the name of Cherie K. Berry.
And apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed this either. She's even got a song dedicated to her.
But this photo was new to me.
Living in a carry concealed state, I often scan establishments for this sign. But seeing it on the doors of an elevator was a first. I know you can't take them into establishments that serve alcohol and they are not allowed at parades or funeral, but elevators?
Do this seem strange? Looks like it falls under the selling of alcohol rule.
Anyway, you may start seeing these pop up on the doors of hotel elevators nationwide.
But be sure and look at who signed the letter from the Labor department...
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I had one last night, and as per usual, it involved aliens.
This time there was a big party. A party of epic proportions. Like Burning Man except that, if I recall, family members were involved.
And as my dreams tend to be, it was all over the place.
But the alien invasion did come. They dispersed some sort of spores that were like little nails/tacks/sharp objects which people easily inhaled. People were having trouble breathing and started dropping like flies on the ground as pandemonium ensued.
Then the machines, like metal spheres with octopus tentacle-like legs, began to spread bullet-sized magnets into the air. The magnets would then latch onto the person who had inhaled the "spores" like leeches causing the pointy "spores" to dig into a person's insides in the name of connection.
Then the octopus leg things sucked up the dead like a vacuum.
Yeah, I know right?
Saturday, May 08, 2010
His soccer coach, after every game, hands out Skittles to the kids as a reward. All team members get regular. Captains of the game get wild berry, if you had an assist you get sour and for those who score goals there's tropical.
My son is more of a granola and yogurt kind of kid; he's the kind of kid that doesn't eat all his Halloween candy in one sitting. I knew he would quickly tire of Skittles, especially since he's usually a captain, almost always has an assist or two and is one of the main goal-scorers on his team.
So by now, with a few weeks left in the season, he's got a bounty of Skittles up in the joint.
Fortunately for him, Skittles are currency in the ol' neighborhood.
He recently scored a used Tony Hawk HuckJam Series deck for 5 bags of Skittles.
And he was stoked because it meant he was moving up from the micro mini he'd been skating for the last few years.
Even better was the father/son moment we had taking his trucks off the old board and putting them on his "new" deck.
A priceless moment indeed.
Now I just need to have him let me cop a few bags of the candy for this...
Sunday, May 02, 2010
A couple of summers ago while at the Jersey Shore, he turned me onto a deli called Blitz's that served their breakfast sandwiches on kaiser rolls. We've had a long-running joke over the years about us one day partnering up to start our own deli, so we always critique the food we eat when we are together (and sometimes over laborious phone conversations). In our clever little fantasy world, we try to think up good menu items for our place.
After that trip to the Shore, all breakfast sandwiches made with a kaiser roll from then on have been dubbed, "The Uncle Mike."
So enjoy a shot of today's Uncle Mike, with cheddar, bacon and jalapenos.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
WWE wrestling is the new Pokemon with my boys.
There will always be some things that your children will latch on to from your youth that will inspire you and then there are things that they will obsess that can be mortifying.
Case in point: pro wrestling.
I never really got into it as a kid although I do remember the days of Jimmy "Super Fly" Snuka, Haystack Calhoun and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
But it was never something that ever really held my interest.
My kids have been skirting this fascination with pro wrestling for years as their neighbor across the street has had a deep seeded passion for the sport for years now. And in the last six months it has finally gotten a chokehold on my children.
My youngest son likes to now try moves on me and often asks me who my favorite wrestler is... and I always tell him that I don't have a favorite wrestler because I DON'T WATCH WRESTLING!.
His favorite the night of this pic was Umaga, the Samoan cousin of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I just found out he passed away six months ago.
One day I'll be able to show my boys this movie which spoke to me on many levels.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I was knee deep in work bullshit and my tummy was growling.
I was lurkin' in the murky world of Twitter when I saw a tweet about food: OnlyBurger was going to be at Sam's Quik Shop pushing their special of the day.
The Bacon & Blue with Red Onion Jam.
Doesn't that just sound divine?
Well it did to me.
So I shuffled over to the beer store parking lot then saddled up and placed my order.
And man was it fucking delicious.
I want another...
Thursday, January 28, 2010
And the weather folks are all in a twitter about the snowstorm that is about to bear down on us this weekend.
I've seen the panic in the streets here before, and generally, whether (weather!), it is a hurricane or an ice storm or a fucking blizzard, the people in the South lose their shit. But really, in the decade plus that I've lived here only maybe twice has a snowstorm lived up to the hype.
I don't want a foot of snow, but then again, if it is going to snow by god fucking snow!
Anyway, it got me to feel the need to post and in posting I realized that I've had this here little blog for five years now.
And, a lot has gone on since then.
I started it because I was getting a vasectomy and it seemed like a good way to talk to myself about it. I'd been a fan of journals and diaries for a long time; I am a documentarian at heart. I also started one as way to jog as they say. Because as a writer I needed to exercise my words and what better way then to talk about my days. I was, after all, a few years into my stint as a stay-at-home-dad and a few years out of a job as a journalist and felt the need to put my experience down on paper as they say.
Along the way I raised some boys, dealt with a lot of shit, had my car stolen, catered my ass off, told a lot of stories about past jobs and found some new friends who could relate to what I was doing on a daily basis.
As life tends to be, the ride has not been without its bumps, but there it all is for me, you, your mother's best friend, or someone linked in to facebook or some other web 2.0 bullshit to look back on and read.
I was never good at keeping up on the baby book, but damn I think I did a bang up job of blogging about life as a parent.
Monday, January 18, 2010
How much do you pay your children for a lost tooth?
What do you do with the teeth years later?
Make a nice tooth necklace?
Put it in amber and make a paperweight?
Curious minds want to know...
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Nuts you might say.
So I hang on and try to stay sane.
I'm told I do my best writing when it is of the deeply personal kind but right now I'm just not up for the task.
My world was never green pastures and purple ponies by no means.
But I do know one thing, I need to write.