Saturday, February 10, 2007

Questions and Answers

My wife recently did this "meme," and I figured it was a pretty easy way to post something new.

1. Are your parents married or divorced?

Married since 1973. I believe they are madly in love and ready to kill each other at the same time.

2. Are you a vegetarian?

What’s the polar opposite of a vegetarian? Cause that’s me.

3. Do you believe in Heaven?

I’d like to, I really would. I really thought about this one, and in the end, deep down, I don’t believe.

4. Have you ever come close to dying?


5. What jewelry do you wear 24/7?

It’s a leather necklace that was two – one is a little thing with bear tracks that my sister got me a long time ago. The other part are alphabet blocks that spell my son’s initials.

I also wear a wedding ring, though not the one I was married with (which is too big, now)

6. Favorite time of day?

I thought about this one and remembered so many points in my life where different parts of the day were my favorite. I used to like sunset, then it was 3 am, then it was whenever work ended.

Now? My favorite time of day is the first time I see my son. If I wake up with him, when I get home from work, whenever I get that smile from him that says “Yay! Poppa’s here!!” That is my favorite time of day.

7. Do you eat the stems of broccoli?

Sure. I prefer florets, but I’ll eat the stems. It’s nice when they’re chopped up with the florets, sautéed with garlic, shallots, and olive oil, maybe a little red pepper flakes.

8. Do you wear makeup?


9. Ever have plastic surgery?

No, but I want to.

10. If you did have plastic surgery, what you do?

I’ll answer this as if it said, “what do you want to do?” And, my answer is, none of your business. But I will say that it’s for the very reason that plastic surgery exists – it makes me so uncomfortable and self-conscious, it’s clearly affected my life in a negative way.

11. What do you wear to bed?

A t-shirt and underpants (boxers). On rare occasions, I will wear pajama bottoms to bed as well, without the underpants.

12. Have you ever done anything illegal?

Yes, all the time. So have you. Some laws are just unnecessary. Some are unjust and require that we disobey them. In the immortal words of Sammy Hagar, “I can’t drive…55!!!”

13. Can you roll your tongue?

Yes, but not that weird wavy thing.

14. Do you tweeze your eyebrows?

In between to avoid the unibrow, that is, when my wife leaves the tweezers in the bathroom. Right now, they are unaccounted for, so my eyebrows are a little out of control.

15. What kind of sneakers?

Do I prefer? Am I wearing? Chuck Taylors are my favorite, though my wife did get me a pair of New Balance that are easier on my back.

16. Do you believe in abortions?

Do I believe in them, or do I believe that every woman should have control over her own body and that this is, in every way, the one place the government should not go? “Safe, legal, and rare” is a phrase that has caught on with which I agree.

17. What is your hair color?

Brown. It used to be platinum when I was a kid, then I could say dirty blonde or whatever. Now? It’s just brown. No grey, yet, though. Maybe a little in the sideburns.

18. Future child’s name?


19. Do you snore?

Does the pope wear a funny hat?

20. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

Under what circumstances? A vacation? In that case, Northern Italy or the South of France.

21. Do you sleep with stuffed animals?

Yes. His name is Charlie Brown Bear. My wife rescued him from an Eddie Bauer store before our first Christmas together (eight years ago? Jeez…). Charles Schultz had just passed away, and I named him accordingly. He’s really awesome and I am not ashamed to say I sleep with him every night.

Just as an aside, I searched the interweb for a photo to show you and found Charlie’s cousin on eBay. I bought him.

22. If you won the lottery, what would you do first?

See, this question doesn’t ask what I would spend the money on, it asked what I would do first. Let’s imagine a couple of things that could all be reasonable answers:

I would tell my wife if I found out and she wasn’t there.

I would hire an attorney and explore whether or not it was possible to collect a lottery prize anonymously.

I would remove all debt from my life.

I would buy a new car and either a) give my old car to charity, or b) roll it into the East River. Both of these would be satisfying.

In order, trust fund, swiss bank account, pay my parents back for college and all the help they’ve given, buy a home, a Manhattan crash pad, a vacation house in Vermont, a huge diamond ring for my sweetheart, a promise to help put all of my best friends’ children through college, a (if I could find a pre-war) Martin D-45, season tickets to the Mets and Islanders, and a ginormous t.v.

23. Gold or silver?

Of these two, Silver. Of all precious metals? Platinum. Actually, adamantium would be my favorite.

24. Hamburger or hot dog?


25. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?


26. City, beach or country?

City. New York City.

27. What was the last thing you touched?

The enter key on this keyboard.

28. Where did you eat last?

In my living room.

29. When’s the last time you cried?

I don’t know. I’m not saying this because of some machismo bullshit, I just don’t remember. I got teary eyed when my son said Dada and he was clearly referring to me.

30. Do you read blogs?


31. Would you ever go out dressed like the opposite sex?

I doubt it. I would make a very, very ugly woman.

32. Ever been involved with the police?

Yes, though never charged, tried or convicted, I have been in custody twice.

33. What’s your favorite shampoo conditioner and soap?

Aveda Shampure.

34. Do you talk in your sleep?

Maybe. I definitely don’t listen to myself in my sleep.

35. Ocean or pool?

Inside in a reading chair.

36. Sauna or whirlpool?

Neither, unless it’s a whirlpool tub in my own bathroom or something.

37. Starbucks or Krispy Kreme.

I’m sure this will be a shock to many, but Starbucks. I love Krispy Kreme, especially the Glazed Crème Filled, but I like Starbucks on a regular basis. And, as long as I stick with the non-fat sugar free vanilla latte, it’s not so bad for me.

38. Window seat or aisle?

Either, as long as I’m not in the middle. Actually, I prefer this

39. Ever met anyone famous?

Yes, I’ve met people you probably have heard of. All of them were very short.

40. Do you feel that you've had a truly successful life?

I do now (see photo)

41. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?

Twirl. Cutting the pasta (or breaking it before you cook it) is just wrong.

42. Ricki Lake or Oprah Winfrey?

Bob Barker.

43. Basketball or Football?

Football, then Hockey, then Baseball, then Futbol, then everything else on earth, including the polo played in the highest mountains of Pakistan for tribal bragging rights, then the NBA.

44. How long do your showers last?

My wife has already accused me of being a woman in the bathroom, but she exaggerates. On a typical morning, it is 25 minutes from when I enter the bathroom until I leave. This includes the morning poop (probably a good 35% of the time is used on this step), warm up shower, rinse off head and body, shampoo (see above), rinse, conditioner, rinse, brush teeth, rinse, wash face, rinse, shave with this (every other day), rinse, wash body, rinse, shake off water like a bear leaving a stream, bath sheet on the bottom half, towel on the top half around shoulders, dry face, dry hair, comb hair, dry bottom half, powder balls, put on underpants, spray medicine in nostrils, put on deodorant, spray after-shave, put on t-shirt, leave bathroom.

45. Automatic or do you drive a stick?

My “car” has a manual transmission. Occasionally the floorboard comes out so I can help accelerate.

46. Cake or ice cream?

Why choose?

47. Are you self-conscious?

If you ever meet someone who says they aren’t, you’ve met a liar.

48. Have you ever drank so much you threw up?

Never! I don’t remember ever throwing up from drinking.

49. Have you ever given money to a beggar?

Just two weeks ago, I stopped into 7-11 for coffee and someone was standing outside the store asking for money. Now, this was 5:30 am and fucking cold, so I offered to buy him a cup of coffee or some breakfast. He wanted cash, so I told him I’d think about it. He told me he needed the cash to be able to hang out in Dunkin’ Donuts later that day (they can’t kick him out if he’s a paying customer). I went inside and got my coffee and bought him a buttered bagel, then wrapped a dollar bill around it and gave it to him.

50. Have you been in love?

Sure have. Right now today, as a matter of fact.

51. Where do you wish you were?

There’s no place like home.

52. Are you wearing socks?

No, I’m wearing my brand new slippers. My wife calls them “old man slippers” but I don’t care. They’re awesome.

53. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?


54. Can you tango?

No, nor do I want to.

55. Last gift you received?

My wife brought home a cupcake the other day.

56. Last sport you played?

Online Poker.

57. Things you spend a lot of money on?

See #56. No, just kidding. I spend money on rent and bills like everyone else I know. That, and Heineken.

58. Where do you live?

Brooklyn, NY

59. Where were you born?

Long Island, NY

60. Last wedding attended?

Adam & Theresa's. Here. It was wonderful.

62. Favorite position?


63. Most hated food(s)?


64. Most hated soda pop.

Caffeine Free Diet Coke. I mean, what’s the point?

65. Can you sing?

I can carry a tune but can never remember the words.

66. Last person you instant messaged?

My wife.

67. Last place you went on holiday?

Vermont for New Year’s Eve. Groton, VT, to be exact.

68. Favorite regular drink?

Water, followed closely by black coffee and Heineken Light.

69. Current Song?

“Chinese Translation” by M. Ward.

70. Tag 3 friends.

I don’t have any blogger friends. If my wife reads this, please tag some friends for me?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Long Time Comin'

Yes, it's been quite a while. Poppa is a busy, busy man. In fact, I can't remember being this busy in my whole life.

On the job front, as most of you know (if you think back hard enough), I am teaching in the Promised Land - the suburbs. Advanced Placement U.S. History. It's been fantastic. These kids are the smartest in the school, some of them are quite brilliant, and teaching them has been awesome. I also finally have a group that understands and appreciates my sense of humor. When I can incorporate the funny into the lessons, it's great.

The commute (50 miles each way) has not been as bad as I imagined. The morning drive is actually pretty nice - little traffic and a new Sirius radio, a full travel mug of coffee and I'm good to go. Afternoons are hit & miss, anywhere from an hour to three hours.

Fatherhood is tremendous. I cannot believe how amazing these months have been. There is a moment when I get home from work - he's usually playing in the living room - when he turns toward the door and smiles at his Poppa. That smile is so good, I'm not sure I can really describe the feeling I get. As long as I come home to that smile, all is right with the world.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Yesterday marked the beginning of my summer vacation and a new record. I also came to the conclusion that even though Henry is just a little more than three months old, he has a great sense of humor.

Since the advent of Henry & Poppa Days (when I took a few weeks of paternity leave), I've been encouraging Henry to poop when held by someone other than me. He can eat four 8 oz bottles with me, just so long as he waits until Mommy comes home to unleash whatever Monster Doodie he has brewing in there. I don't mind changing him at all and we make a game out of it and sing songs and such. I just know he thinks it's funny, after all of my cajoling, to let 'em rip when I'm alone with him. And you know what? I would think it HILARIOUS if I were him.

Now, yesterday, he set the current record. Six poops! He didn't even eat six meals. I tell him he's supposed to wait for Mommy and all, he just giggles. I suppose I should be grateful he didn't do this, at least not yet.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Raising a Little Man

There is a crisis among the nation's boys. According to a recent Esquire
article, boys are slipping in academics from kindergarten through college. I'm sure I'm not the only one to ask this:

What the heck is going on here?

When I found out that my wife and I were having a boy, I was ecstatic. I was so proud I could hardly contain it - actually, I didn't contain it and cried when Eugenia from Ukraine, the ultrasound tech, told us "da, is boy." Since then, I've tried to be the best Poppa I can be. Sure, Henry is three months old and has yet to be anything but a joy, really, but I still strive to be a father for the modern age while retaining the best parts of what it means, in a classic sense, to be a man.

These last few days have led to much introspection on my part. Our child care plans for the fall fell through and my wife will be a stay-at-home
mommy. I'd landed a dream job teaching AP US History in Suffolk County, Long Island, and we were supposed to move out there - but we're staying in Brooklyn.

A little background is in order. My father, Papa Bear, was and is freakin' awesome. My little sister and I had pretty much everything we needed growing up - except a Dad who was around all the time. Like many men of his generation, he provided a wonderful home and created a financial stability for an upper-middle class upbringing. My parents have been married for 33 years and, as far as I know, are still completely in love with each other. He worked very hard. That's just it, though, he was at work a lot.

I wanted to be around for my children a little more than Papa Bear was. I don't mean to say that he was an absentee father - he made every Little League game, we played golf together, we did stuff around the house. I'm sure most people would consider him to be a perfect example of a great father. I decided at a very young age on a career that would enable my family to have financial stability (and a nice retirement for me) and be home a little more. I would sacrifice some of the niceties of a career in finance or law (nice car, big house, Mexican lawn service) in order to gain more time at home. I would be a teacher.

I'm pretty sure I was the only ten-year-old in my neighborhood to decide on a career for these reasons. I knew I wanted to be a history teacher while my friends were still dreaming of playing for the Mets or being an astronaut. I knew that eventually I could make a nice living - especially on Long Island - and be home for the kids. I also felt very lucky and wanted a career that would be of some benefit for society, however corny that sounds these days.

Fast forward roughly two decades. I was in my fifth year of teaching in New York City (yes, it's hard and worse than you've heard) and sixth year of marriage (also just as tough - I mean, I love you hunny!). We were having a Henry. We were finally financially stable. I put off my goal for PhD and a professorship to have kids - I just didn't want to struggle anymore and a doctoral program was a self-imposed vow of poverty. We had Henry in place for an infant room in the preschool where my ma teaches...only, the district refused to grant the director the extra room. Now it's too late to find a space in the ultra-competitive NYC child care game. Henry's Mommy would stay home come September.

Now I've been thrust into the very role I've resisted my whole life. Sole income, two or three hours in the car every day (a Chevy POS - oh God how I hate that car), and a teacher's salary. I'm struggling with the fact that now I lose out on time with the boy while not being able to provide the income that such a sacrifice would partly justify. On top of that, I read about this new crisis among boys.

First among the trouble is that almost 40% of households with young boys do not have a biological father present. At least that's not the issue here. I love my wife dearly and we've been together for seven years. I guess the hardest parts are behind us (although I'd like my hardest part to be behind my wife a little more, wink wink, nudge nudge). I read, my wife reads more, we're both educated. A boy that sees reading and is read to will probably read himself. That's good. I myself have a healthy contempt for authority, yet know when and where to challenge or defer - a lesson quite valuable for a young ruffian. I can see through any load of bullshit ever thrown my way. In today's America, how can I impart the value of honesty? I'm not religious, in fact I believe organized religion to be the biggest obstacle to human progress. It's clearly rewarded in this nation to lie, cheat and steal your way to the top. How many hundreds of crooked execs are out there for every one Enron CEO convicted? Don't even get me started on the government. While I think the lack of respect for laws in this nation are clear evidence of a society in decay, that's a topic for another day. I can't look to pop culture for any sort of role models - although I can't think of a time when one could. It's up to me to be the man.

But I don't feel like a "grown up." I guess I can be grown up enough for Henry. I'll still giggle at farts and use the word "boobies." As long as there are boobies, everything will be just fine.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Poop and Stuff

As the best indicator of a newborn baby's health, new parents are often obsessed with their child's bowel movements. Every diaper change is like a doctor's physical. Not so in this house. Every diaper change is an opportunity to have fun. First, let me preface this whole bloggy thingy with this: I talk to our son, Henry, all the freakin' time. I ask him questions, I tell him things, I spell words for him, I read to him from the New York Times (I even read selections from my Master's Thesis, The Ideology of the Reagan Administration and the Arms Buildup - he made it through more of that than my wife or my parents or anyone else I know), I sing songs, I make up songs. In general, our relationship thus far is one long conversation where we talk about (mostly) what I want and where I'm always right and where everything I say is pretty much designed to get Henry to smile or laugh. And, that smile and laugh is pretty much the greatest thing I've ever seen.

Back to the diapers. So, there are two songs that I made up for my boy of which I am most proud, at least so far. One, the Underpants Song, is sung to the tune of Camptown Races:

Henry's got clean underpants, doo dah, doo dah,
Henry's got clean underpants, Oh de doo dah day
Oh de doo dah daaaay, Oh de doo dah daaay,
Henry's got clean underpants, Oh. De. Doo. Dah. Day.

He gets this song when, you guessed it, he's got on clean underpants (usually a onesie of some sort). Now, this song is the kind of thing that will be burned into your brain and, most important, this song is a lot of fun to sing. Therefore, Henry has fun. Try it with your own kids. The second revolves around a favorite product of ours, Boudreaux's Butt Paste. I thought this product was great just because of its name (it's actually a great diaper rash preventer - like Desitin without the smell or greasiness). So, I sing the Butt Paste song. Generally, the words are something like this:

Butt Paste, Butt Paste, gotta have the Butt Paste
Put it on your butt, doo doo doo doo doo (or sometimes la la la la la)
Put it on your balls, doo doo doo doo doo
get some on your legs, doo doo doo doo doo
and a little on your taint, doo doo doo doo doo
and don't forget your p-p-p-penis*.

I never thought I was a good singer, and I still don't. I do make a great effort to sing in key, since I'm trying to develop Henry's "ear." I can sing along with almost anything so I do that. Our latest fun came singing along with the Dead's "Shakedown Street" from September 1991 at MSG (the show with Branford on sax). He LOVED it. Maybe it was how happy I was, maybe it was the dancing, maybe it was Jerry's voice. Maybe he's a little Deadhead at heart.

*I used to say "don't forget your mons pubis," but I later found out that is an area only above the vagina. Damn.

Greetings and Salutations!

Wow. That's all I can really say that sums up the past three months. Those few, those very few, who read my other blog, Bear's Blog-O-Rama, know that I'm a new father. This blog will be dedicated to exploring everything about fatherhood that I have, will, or hope to experience, along with my regular and oh-so-witty commentary about all the other shite the world has to offer.

So, why don't you join me? I guarantee lots of laughs, some insight, a little but of fun, and a whole lot of poop.